SOMEHOW, SPRING SPRANG – Marilyn Armstrong

SPRING CAME ANYWAY

You might think that with the awful and cold weather we’ve had, that spring wouldn’t show up, but it did. Today was pretty nice. A big humid followed by pelting rain, high winds, and several tornados, but the morning was nice.

I had to take some pictures of the woods getting ready for full bloom!

PICK ME UP AND WINTER’S DAMAGE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

GARRY SEEKS SPRING IN UXBRIDGE

He hiked up the driveway, initially to bring down the trash can and pick up the mail, but he took a camera. It was a lovely day. There have been some lovely days, but very few last an entire day. Usually, the “good” day lasts part of the morning with sunshine and warmth leaving shortly after lunch. Then comes the afternoon with darkened skies and a lost sun.

The front woods and a lot of broken trees

Note wires. Note trees. Note likely disaster.

The broken branch lying over an electric line has been that way for a week, but apparently, they don’t have time to fix it because it hasn’t broken the line yet. It will. It sill take down the whole neighborhood. Nonetheless, it hasn’t done it yet. It would take them ten minutes to fix it now and it will we a catastrophe soon enough, but they can’t afford the ten minutes. I suppose I can call a third time.

They have records of my first two calls, but no one has bothered to even check on it. Owen has a pole saw, but it’s not long enough to reach the branch, so it will have to be a National Grid truck.

Rhododendrons have taken over for the roses,.

The road with hints of leaves to come

You can see that our Japanese Maple is in full leaf. It’s the first to grow leaves and the last to lose them.

I know there were flowers here, but I’m not sure what they were. I think there may be daffodils trying to bloom.

Called National Grid for the third time. They’ll get right on it. Major storm predicted for tomorrow night. I think we should get the candles ready.

DOVES AND MORE ARE BACK AGAIN! – Marilyn Armstrong

When we manage to convince the squirrels that it’s time to unhook their claws from the feeders, the birds pour in by the dozens. They know they only have half an hour before the squirrels are back again. They don’t mind the little chipmunk who comes to clean up the fallen seeds on the wood railing and ground.

Our leaf-covered driveway.

Never mind that I swept and cleaned the entire deck yesterday. There’s no evidence today that it was ever cleaned. And then there’s the driveway. Why do the winds only blow leaves onto the drive, but never off? Just asking!

Chipmunk!

Lady Cardinal

The Mourning Doves are back

Tufted Titmice

 

WORLD SHARING … IS IT ALMOST THANKSGIVING? – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 11-15-18


What’s the most ironic thing you’ve ever witnessed?

I’m not sure that “ironic” is the right word here. Twice I’ve been in dangerous places and the dangerous people carefully got me to a safe place, but that’s not ironic. Just … surprising.

Let’s talk turkey.  Pro or con?   If pro, which part do you enjoy most?  Is it for Thanksgiving (American Style anyway) only?

I think I’ve had more turkey than I ever wanted. Part of it is that I like dark meat and there’s almost no dark meat on turkeys these days. It’s all white meat. Too dry. I spent a lot of years of eating over-cooked turkey. The bigger the turkey, the dryer it was.

Lots of joints on this former turkey!

Some could have been ground up and used for beach sand. Even fresh, unfrozen turkey became food I was required to eat. I always liked the side dishes better than the turkey, especially cranberry sauce. And the pies! Actually, just give me the cranberry sauce and a side of three or four pieces of pie.

If you’d like, share one thing you wish you’d said to someone else, but now you’ll never have the chance.

Call it failing memory. I don’t remember anything. I don’t have a single thing I wish I’d said because either I don’t remember if I said it — and if I do, I don’t know what would have happened had I said something else. The future is a mystery.

What odd smell do you really enjoy?

I have almost no sense of smell, but if I stick my nose into a rose, that’s nice. I guess that isn’t odd unless you find a bee in there.

Thankful November … share a story or time when someone did something really great for you.  Alternatively,  share your gratitude moments during this past week.

Leaves are everywhere!

My son hired a cleanup crew to get the leaves out of the yard. I feel downright blessed!

DANGER! THE OAK LEAVES HAVE FORMED AN ARMY! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Danger


There are so many leaves on the ground here, it’s hard to explain to people who don’t live in the middle of an oak woods. When I was outside today taking pictures, it was like being in a leaf storm.

If the wizards drop by and turn them into soldiers, I shall have an army of millions at my beck and call.

Chairs with leaves

Watch out DC! The oak leaves are marching and they will take you out.

A SUNNY FALL DAY IN NOVEMBER – Marilyn Armstrong

A Beautiful Autumn Day in November


An orange maple leaf

It has been a pretty sad sack of Autumn in Massachusetts. Last week, the leaves finally decided to change. Unfortunately, it was in the middle of our now daily rain. A particularly heavy rain with plenty of wind.

The best leaves

I pondered the situation and realized we were indeed going to get some lovely autumn foliage, but half the trees will be naked by then. Today, finally, it was (mostly) sunny for most of the day. But tomorrow, the rain is back. Wind too. Good thing I took my camera with me. I could tell Garry wished he brought his because he had to borrow mine and take a few shots.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Always have a camera. You just never know!

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It was a running around day. We had to catch up on errands. We get money on the first of the month, so we go shopping. By the first, we are out of everything except coffee, half-and-half, and dog food. And of course, treats for the dogs. Can’t run out of treats.

Curving rail tracks

The trees — wherever they still were trees and not naked limbs — were beautiful. Not much red, but deep orange and a glorious golden-yellow. The woods were lit up when the sun hit them.

LIKE DINNER WITHOUT DESSERT: MINI FICTION – Marilyn Armstrong

Like dirty feet on clean sheets, the dark clouds rolled in, occluding the sun, turning the sunny day gray and dismal.

“There goes Autumn,” said Maggie, looking up. “And the wind’s picking up too.” Her companion nodded.

“Like God’s leaf blower,” he commented as a swirl of bright leaves engulfed him.

Parkland along the canal

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Over before it started. Like a story without an ending, a movie that runs out of plot before it runs out of film or a dinner without dessert. Like … Autumn … without the golden leaves.

Or spring without flowers.

A LEAF AND LEAVES

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Leaves or Trees


If we have a lot of anything around here, it’s leaves. Lots of woods mean lots of leaves. Oak and maple, sassafras and catalpa. And there are more, many more. I take a lot of leafy pictures. These are all leaves. If I start adding trees, I could be here all night. 

THE STORM ENDS AND CLEANUP BEGINS

MORE THEN MERELY MESSY


All that drenching rain came pouring out of the skies — and it wasn’t the first time in the past couple of weeks, either. What had remained of grass in the front of the house  was just dried or almost dried mud. When these rains came, it washed the mud down from the upper lawn and turned the sidewalk into a mess of oozy brown mud.

Many leaves will fall!

It’s pretty awful out there. Drying out as we speak, but what to do?

Between two old and broken backs and arthritis crawling into every part of two skeletons, it’s hard to figure how we will get it cleaned up. It’s not like the dogs … who think layers of dirt are just fine, thank you … are likely to help. Right now, the yard is exactly the way they like it. There are fallen branches and twigs everywhere plus all the leaves that fell after last fall’s cleanup.

Our leaves are a three-stage process. During the early Autumn days, the maple leaves fall first. As soon as the color fades, they come down like rain into giant leafy drifts. Owen usually cleans them up. He has a machine to do that and it helps.

The storm of yesterday

The next wave of falling leaves consist of half the oaks, as well as the sassafras, any remaining maples, and the few other deciduous trees such as the Catalpa. Owen gets them, too, or most of them. There are always a few which are missed.

Finally, there are the leaves we don’t collect because they hang on the limbs until winter. Some don’t fall until the following spring. The last, late oak leaves don’t drop until late November or December. No one cleans them up because there is usually snow on the ground by then. There are — I don’t think this is much of an exaggeration — millions of leaves every autumn. Anyone who wanted to live in a woods and thought it would be romantic was right — except that living in a woods gets complicated and often messy.

You can’t leave the sodden leaves rotting against your house because it’s unhealthy for the house. It keeps your foundation damp. Damp foundations are unhappy foundations.

The bed of leaves remaining in what we humorously call “the garden” goes to insulate flowers (and weeds) from the bitter cold. We certainly had a bitterly cold winter. January was one of the coldest months on record. It was so cold, we didn’t get nearly as much snow as usual because when it’s that cold, the air is too dry to make snow.

But then, we moved abruptly — in a matter of hours — from well below freezing into the extremely springlike, mild temperatures. All of February was punctuated by a couple of warm days followed by a couple of bitter days. A bit of snow, a bit more snow, more melting … and deluges of rain.

Window outward

It’s a mess around here and I feel I should shut up about it because however much of a mess we have got, a lot of other people have a lot worse with which to contend. We didn’t lose any trees. Our roof is intact. No cars or people were crushed. We have some small branches and a million twigs everywhere, but no larger life-threatening limbs fell. Something of a minor miracle considering what might well have occurred.

These are the times when being old is a significant deficit. If we had even a little more money — we got whacked last year by the door replacement (Thanks Bob, for the help or we’d never have made it!), the exploded hot water heater (third times the charm?) and adding a stair climber to the steps from the front door to the living room. But to use the climber requires a viable walkway from driveway to door … and right now, we don’t have one. Fortunately, I can still lumber my way up the extra steps from the basement. I notice that Garry is beginning to have trouble with the steps too, these days.

The long driveway when the leaves are (mostly) gone

The great truth is we are not getting younger. Garry is in good shape for a man turning 76, but he is turning 76. He was never handy around the house. That is a kind way of saying that he has never had either interest or aptitude for house stuff. For years, Owen took care of it, but Owen moved out and doesn’t have nearly enough time to take care of it … and Owen himself is eligible for AARP. How time flies!

Withe the failure of our government to support older people both in health care and generally in keeping them from falling below the poverty line, hiring others to do the work isn’t really in the cards. We got a 2% raise in Social Security last year — less than $5 per month per check and of course retirement funds never go up, so whatever you got last year, any inflation means you are that percentage poorer. It is fortunate we don’t eat a lot.

Meanwhile,  I’d like about two weeks of a strong young handy-person to help straighten up the mess. I thought I had one, but he seems to have vanished. It’s possible poverty forced him to look for a better deal elsewhere.

Yellow before red

In the midst of the deluge and hurricane winds of yesterday, the builder came by to look at the problems we are having. We have a window that has sagged and is under the vinyl, obviously rotted out. It will need to be replaced. Whether or not it’s just the window that need replacing or the wall around it also need replacing remains to be seen. Regardless, it has to be fixed. There’s no alternative. We cannot easily extract ourselves from this house. We can’t “keep it up” the way it should be and that saddens me … but we can at least make our best effort to keep it from falling down.

It’s not the “what” of the mess with which we deal. It’s the “how” that’s killing us. Now, I have to call my son and find out where the faucet is in the front of the house. I think it’s buried in leaves near the front door. I hope it is!

 

THE 7-DAY BLACK & WHITE CHALLENGE – DAY 4

Here’s the challenge:


Black and White Photography Challenge: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Since I’m an old time player at this game, I’m letting people in as long as it’s not a portrait and not the primary part of the image.

I invite you to consider giving this challenge a try, even if you’ve done it already. An extra push to do better photography is good for your art. Moreover, finding a black & white picture that somehow represents “you” in a visual way poses an interesting challenge — an artistic double-whammy, so to speak. At least one of the pictures I used in the first round of these challenges turned out to be one of my most popular-ever posts.

Who’d have thunk it.

This challenge comes from Luccia Gray at “REREADING JANE EYRE.

Oak leaves

KITCHEN PICTURES ON A RAINY DAY IN OCTOBER

Television Garry in the kitchen

I woke up this morning and it was raining. I went back to sleep and when I woke up later, it was still raining. I got dressed. Started the coffee and toasted a muffin, but it was still raining. I got the distinct impression it was going to be an all day rain.

As close to painting as my camera can take — kitchen window and yellow woods

From the deck — a hint of orange begonias with a yellow woods

Too bad. We finally have enough color in the trees to make an excursion worth the effort. Even with a weather-proof camera, I didn’t feel like going out there into the drip, drip, dripping for a few pictures. But … where there’s a deck and a window or two, there are pictures. Even if they are similar to a lot of other pictures.

Our maple tree — red, finally

The most fun picture of the day was Garry. He was telling me how he gets tired of hearing how men aren’t interested in fashion. He has always been very interested in fashion and spends a fair amount of time deploring the terrible suits television announcers are wearing these days.

Perfect golden woods

He cannot understand how people who have that much money and are on TV can’t look in the mirror and realize they look awful. Don’t they have friends who tell them the truth? Doesn’t anyone warn them the suit is too tight, wrong cut, wrong color, wrong … everything?

Tomorrow, those yellow leaves will drift to the ground

“HOLD THAT POSE!” I said, running for the camera. Good TV guy that he is, he held the pose and I got a few pictures that are just so very Garry. He looks like television Garry, the guy we all remember watching through the decades.

Nice view from the window over the sink — a kitchen special

And of course, I went out to the deck to get a few shots of the woods which is now almost entirely bright yellow. I took a couple of dozen shots. All  of them good because really … if you can’t take good pictures in New England in October, you should get rid of your camera and take up some other activity. Just saying.

When you tell Garry to hold the pose, he holds that pose!

ALMOST AUTUMN IN OUR OWN BACKYARD

I didn’t have to go to a dam or a park. I just stood on our damp, slightly rainy deck and took a few pictures. We don’t get brilliant autumn here because brilliant autumn requires maple trees. Sugar maple trees, actually. They are the ones that turn scarlet, then golden.

Oaks turn dark green, bronze, brown, very dark brown, and fall off. So the bright yellow trees are alder. They turn bright yellow very early, then lose their leaves.

Some of these are sort of painterly. I got creative.

JAPANESE MAPLE – FROM BABY TO TEENAGER

72-Jap-Maple_34

The Japanese maple in our garden came home in our car from its birthplace in Maryland. It was just a sprig, planted in a bucket. Eleven years later …

It’s a real tree now. Not entirely grown up. More like a leggy adolescent. But still, it’s a long way from its bucket days.

Because so many people have asked, I’ve added this clip from “The Complete Japanese Maple” which you can look up. I’m pretty sure they will also sell you a tree of your own. Great pictures showing all the sizes of the trees from quite small, to full-size (like ours).


“Japanese maples are the most desirable garden trees that exist. A tree in fall is guaranteed to turn heads and gather admiring looks and the enormous variety of leaf forms, colors and tree shapes means that no matter what your taste or space restrictions, there will be a tree for you. Some grow into small trees 20 feet or more in height, others remain as low shrubs reaching five feet only after many years of growth. They may be upright in form, pendulous or cascading, with red or green leaves and as well as their stunning fall coloring, many have remarkable colors on their new spring leaves too. There are also a wide number of varieties with red or purple leaves all summer, which bring a unique highlight to any garden.

These trees have a reputation for being hard to grow, but this is largely undeserved. With attention given to their location in the garden and some minimal care, they will thrive and increase in beauty every year. Compared with many other trees and shrubs they have few pests or diseases and are versatile enough to thrive in locations ranging from full shade to full sun. They can be grown in the garden, in containers and of course they are ideal subjects for the ancient Japanese art of bonsai.”


Japanese maples also have glorious fall foliage, scarlet and deep yellow, often with red edging. Although I love the red leaf varieties, the autumn tree is so beautiful, it’s worth waiting for. They are among the first to change color and the last to lose their leaves.