ON THE ROAD AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Not a rainy day nor a sunny one. Just a day. Cold, no snow or rain. Coming home from Connecticut. Feeling better about the world.

Good thing I had a camera. Traffic was mostly bumper-to-bumper from when we left the Curley house until we were almost home. At least occasionally, until it was fully dark, I had something to do.

Not exciting pictures, but … pictures.

A cloudy sky

Clouds through the trees

Too many cars

Still too many cars

Darkness is falling

Through a tunnel

And back on the road, but getting too dark to shoot

I tried some interesting textures since the subject wasn’t exactly thrilling. I had fun playing with photographs. There’s not a huge amount of excitement between Connecticut and Massachusetts. Just too many vehicles.

MY ASS FELL OFF – Marilyn Armstrong

Actually, it was my son who brought up the subject. He said: “Ever since I turned 50, my ass fell off. It’s all flat back there and my pants fall off.” Garry admitted his pants fall off too, but he’s really thin, so it’s hard to tell which part of him is causing the failure of elastic.

I, on the other hand, know that about three years ago, my butt fell off. I remember realizing what had been all too curvy was now all too flat! How could such a thing happen?

Let me rephrase that. It didn’t fall off. It changed its venue. It left my butt where it made chairs more comfortable and became part of the top of my thighs where it just looks lumpy. Now, my pants fall off too.

What’s more, I no longer have a waistline. My ribcage has fallen too and now sits directly on my hip bones. This made me shorter. A lot shorter. Almost 4-1/2 inches of height have vanished and without a waist,  I am essentially square from ribcage to hips.

Not your basic feminine design.

Gravity. You might be able to get plastic surgery to fix a sagging chin or revitalize a collapsed butt, but what can you do when your whole body seems to be heading for the ground? When gravity is no longer theoretical but has become a profound part of life?

Anyone have any ideas?

And so for my entry to:

The Seventh Annual Contest Of Whatever!

it is that I have found it. The ultimate Murphy’s Law.

“No matter how hard you try, gravity wins. There is no leap high enough, no exercise powerful enough to save you from the pull of gravity. It always has the final say.”

ANOTHER ORCHID – Marilyn Armstrong

NOW THERE ARE TWO


First, there was one orchid flowering. There were several big buds waiting and a couple of days ago, the second flower started to open. I didn’t take any pictures until this morning. By the middle of the day, it was very bright, but the sun was not shining directly through the window. My macro lens was on the camera. I picked it up and here are the results.

Big orchid with the smaller one behind

The double bloom

Two Orchids

Square pair of orchids

There are more photographs for another day. The light was exactly right for this particular piece of photography.

WORLD SHARING COMES AROUND AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – 2-17-2020


How can someone win a gold star (i.e. win your approval and/or admiration) with you?

  1. Make me laugh
  2. Have a real conversation about everything
  3. Use big words
  4. Don’t be a Republican
  5. Read books
  6. Have opinions!

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Read.

Do you have a favorite type of exercise?

Walking around taking pictures and standing in the kitchen trying a new recipe. Today it was Swedish meatballs and they came out really well. Just this once, I had all the items I needed for the recipe. Usually, I’m missing at least one primary ingredient and have to fake it.

The original recipe called for thickening with flour. I used cornstarch which doesn’t clump and I find a lot easier. You can do it however you like.

No faking this time. Now I have to figure out a way to make it easier to prepare. It’s not difficult, just labor-intensive.

Do you sleep with a top sheet? Why or why not?

We sleep with a comforter most of the year. It has a cotton cover and I’m thinking about getting a new cover. I want something brighter.

Cold toes, but a warm comforter!

In the summer, we use a very light comforter. In the winter, we have two heavier ones, but we rarely use the very heavy one. If it’s very cold, we put a light blanket over the comforter and are cozy all night. Bless the geese who contributed their down.

This is your space to write about anything you’d like.   I’m GRATEFUL for your participation in Share Your World, so there’s the “gratitude” hook.

I’m really glad we spent a couple of days out of town. Actually, this has been an unusually social month. Cherrie and Ron and Ellin and Tom and Anton’s concert? It was a real treat and made the painful parts of the month a lot easier to deal with.

VICTORIAN HOUSES – Marilyn Armstrong

We all think we’d like to live in one of those mansions. I know several people who bought one and tried to restore it. They acquired them with the best of intentions. They saw in their minds glorious images of perfectly finished wood paneling and ceiling beams with miniature gargoyles and carved balustrades in the hallways.

Gleaming wood floors and a kitchen big enough to run a restaurant with a dining room to match.

Despite those dreams, everyone ultimately gave up. The reality was too expensive. Every piece of every part that needed repair was too expensive and many parts had to be bought from places that collect parts of fallen down buildings and sell them to would-be restorers. It was just too much house and in due time, they moved on.

One couple actually finished the job. The house was magnificent. Then, they went bankrupt.

These are wonderful homes. Big rooms with plenty of light from windows much taller than me. High, airy ceilings, hand carvings, and stunning hand-carved wood interior decorations. But with those beautiful parts came rooves that were incredibly expensive to repair and early 1900s wiring never designed for modern appliances. Plus primitive plumbing that needed to be completely redone.

Those gigantic rooms and 12-foot ceilings made the homes much more expensive to heat than a “normal” house. Everything that made the house beautiful also made it a problem for a modern homeowner. Most particularly,  the sheer size and lack of insulation in these houses as well as the lack of modern infrastructure.

Beacon Hill mansion

These homes were designed to house large families with lots of children and probably two or three generations from babies to great granddad. And maybe the odd aunt or cousin, too.

Did I mention that they don’t have closets? What they considered a closet, we would call a “tie rack.” Because most people had a set of fancy clothing, an outfit for Sunday church-going, and work clothing. They didn’t need the amount of storage we’re used to.

Classic Victorian “Painted Lady”

In the real world, as we get older we realize we don’t need a 3-story house with 8 bedrooms and only one bathroom. We’d be fine with a single-story house, two bedrooms with one and a half baths. And hefty closets.

Luxury? How about a small fireplace and a fenced yard for the dogs?

In my middle years, I yearned for large and open. With tall windows. Oh, those windows!

For a brief time, I owned a one-fifth of a Victorian. It was a one-bedroom flat on the first floor of a much bigger house. By the time I bought it, the house had been broken up into five apartments — four in the main house and an even bigger one on what would have been the attic level. My piece was not huge by square footage, but it felt bigger than it was

It was elegant with twelve-foot ceilings and polished elm flooring. It cost me almost a thousand dollars to have simple cotton curtains made for the windows. Not fancy drapes, mind you. Just enough to cover those 7-foot windows.

My apartment was on the first floor and was not in the country. You had to have window coverings. I lived there for less than a year and then Garry and I got married. The apartment only had one small bathroom with no room for another. Garry and I can share many things, but NOT one bathroom.

NO closets. Well, in theory, the bedroom had a shallow closet good for hanging a bathrobe, a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt.  Real Victorian houses in their time never stored much. Whatever they own was on display. The rooms were huge, but there was no room to move in them. They were unbelievably cluttered with lamps, vases, statuary, knick-knacks, pottery wildlife and often, many dogs. You had to be a ballet dancer to not knock over the breakables — and it was ALL breakable.

Pre-plastic, everything was fragile although often surprisingly ugly.

Victorian, but a farmhouse along the river

We tried to buy the other (empty) apartment across the hall, but the condo association got confused by the concept. I don’t know why because combining two condos is not such an unusual thing and wasn’t even 30 years ago, but they got all fluttery about it. We gave up and moved elsewhere. I rented it out for a couple of years, then I went bankrupt.

No one wanted the apartment. At that particular time, this area was unsaleable and had gone far downhill. The GE plant had left with its jobs and the drug dealers had moved in. The bank canceled the mortgage and but I kept the place. I gave it to my son who lived in it with his wife and my granddaughter until finally, he passed it along to an ailing friend who completely remodeled it. It’s gorgeous and looks just the way I’d have done it if I’d had the money.

Many of these glorious “painted ladies” have been broken into pieces for condos. It’s probably the only way to maintain them. At least that keeps them as one building because otherwise, they end up falling down to make room for more sensible housing.

These are houses to dream about and for which we yearn. If you are wealthy, you can fix them up and live there, but you need some pretty big money to make them livable and it takes years to bring them up to reasonably modern living standards. Not only hundreds of thousands of dollars but a lot of patience. It helps if you don’t have to live in them while they’re being remodeled — if you want to come out of your reconstruction sane.

Not a Victorian, a big farmhouse

At this point, I can’t imagine dealing with so much room. I can barely take care of this house which is less than half the size of one of those Victorians — not counting their basement and attic sections. For most of us, Victorian homes exist to admire. Otherwise, they are the highest maintenance houses ever built with far too many stairways and an awful lot of glass.

When my rare moments of yearning come to me, I watch “Meet Me In St. Louis.” That makes me feel better and I can sing along, too.

ABOUT THE LIGHT – Marilyn Armstrong

Why do you take pictures? What makes you pick up your camera? Is it just the beauty of the scene? Or the smile on someone’s face?

I’m sure it is different for each of us, but this morning, I remembered what it is for me. Because even before I turned on the coffee machine, I grabbed my camera. The light was coming through the window and the Dutch door and I saw something. I remembered abruptly that this is what always grabs me. I take pictures of my granddaughter, my dogs, friends just like everyone else. You don’t need a degree in photography to take a snapshot.

Spectacular scenery is inevitable. Like any photographer, I’m going to try to grab it because I’m a sucker for a pretty picture. But that’s not it. In the final analysis, it’s the light. The color, the subtlety, the flare, the radiance.

It has always been about light. My very first roll of film, in black and white, about half the pictures were of light coming through trees.  I’ve spent a lifetime trying to show just how light filters through leaves or the way it shines through a window. Reflected light on water or wet sand. The sun as it rises or sets. I love the subtleties, the minute by minute changes of color of the sky.

That’s why I almost never raise the saturation level in a photograph. I’m looking for delicate shadings and subtle colors. I don’t want everything more vivid. I am more likely to turn the color and contrast down than to push it up.

Misty beach

The changing colors of the light through the seasons: golden in autumn, nearly white in winter and how these annual color shifts change the way the world looks. Ephemeral, fleeting, soft. I love shadow, the brother of light and how these change with the time of day and the seasons. I can watch for hours the changing colors of the sky while the sun moves across until it finally sinks below the horizon to full dark.

Have you ever watched the sunset from the late afternoon until full dark? The light lingers even after the sun is below the horizon. The further north you are, the longer the sky stays light. Everyone shoots brilliant sunsets or sunrises. I favor sunrises, but I realize that may have something to do with living on the east coast.

Facing east makes sunrise more accessible.  Yet even the most ordinary dawn or dusk contains its own beauty. It’s harder to capture it. Brilliant color is easy compared to incremental pastels. You don’t get nearly as many “oohs” and “aahs” from a photo composed of softer pastels.

I’m fascinated by the way shadows shift as the day ages. All the colors of the world change as the sun sinks and we move into artificial light — street lamps, candles, neon signs — each have their own spectrum and effects.

It’s all about light.

STONES AND GLASS HOUSES – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions #16


PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES
SHOULD NOT THROW STONES.


For years, Garry had a thing about westerns. “Why,” he asked, “Do they always break the windows? Don’t they realize how expensive reglazing is? Can’t they just open the window?”

A friend from Texas felt it was the drama of the breaking glass. “Shattering glass gets the audience’s attention,” he said. It certainly always got mine.

I have never lived in a glass-house, but I have lived in houses that contained a lot of glass. I admit I was very careful about throwing things — and not just rocks. Pottery, books, old dysfunctional cell phones, blocks, tools — anything hard was a no-no. Especially when it came to really BIG windows, you can easily spend a month’s salary getting someone out to your place just to give an estimate much less repair the damage!

So should I ever be unlucky enough to live in a glass house — which I would rather not do since it would require I always be dressed and make would make showering treacherous, I would definitely hold back on any casual stone-throwing. Unless I was making a movie. Then I’d fling stones to my heart content.

Because we want the viewers to feel more involved!

WHY WE’RE NOT GOING TO HAVE A TRUMP “COUP” – Marilyn Armstrong

What with this mess we’re watching in D.C., we wandered into a discussion. “What if Trump decides to take over the country? Like, you know, hold a military coup?” There was a time when this kind of speculation would have been ridiculous, but these days, nothing is ridiculous and anything, no matter how absurd is possible.

Then, I realized a great truth.

Trump can’t stage a coup because he doesn’t have an army. It’s true there’s a parallel between Trump and Hitler (and after he was in office, Hitler did ultimately stage a military coup), but until that point, his actions were legal. It’s important to remember that Hitler was elected. Just like we elected Trump.

But here’s a big difference. Trump has no army.

The military hates him. All the militaries hate him. All the alphabet agencies loathe him too — CIA, NSA, FBI, Intelligence Department and most of DOJ.  I’m pretty sure that none of them will take over the country because he tweets them. Hitler built a dedicated army, including the Gestapo, Brown, and Blackshirts.  Trump has no military support. No matter how rabid his supporters are, they are not a military force and this isn’t the 1700s when a rabble can take over a country with a modern military. Moreover, he has never had the support of the majority of this country’s population.

If he can’t stage a coup, there’s little he can actually do except say “Hell no, I won’t go,” but in the end, he will go. Even if the Secret Service has to carry him bodily from the White house. Which to be fair, I would love to see.

Now, or later, unless he enlists his mythical Space Force, a million tweets will not make him king.

THE MOUTHS OF GIFT HORSES – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s February Expressions #15


Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!


If someone is giving me a horse, I promise to only check to see if he or she need massive dental work. I’m already having that problem with Bonnie and the money involved is insane. It’s more expensive than having work done in Garry or my mouth! I can only shiver with fear about HOW expensive it would be to have a horse’s teeth done.

My experience with gift horses, in the more symbolic sense, is if it sounds too good to be true, it’s not true. When a company, an individual (who isn’t family or friend) is offering you stuff for free, there’s a catch. These days, we assume it’s a scammer or hacker trying to get at your personal data so he/she/they can pawn it off on the darknet or wherever they offer it.

But even if it’s a job offer that sounds way too good to be true, take it all with a dash of salt. The perfect job is rarely perfect. All my perfect jobs have turned out to be perfect when they sounded perfectly normal on the surface and only later did I realize I had somehow managed to get a fantastic boss and the world’s best co-workers. It was never in the job description. All job descriptions sound perfect — or nearly perfect. The reality is usually depressingly unlike the description.

In short, be sensible. Keep your hopes in check until you know how the land lies. Assume that if it isn’t written in the contract, it’s mostly hot air. If you turn out to be lucky and everything is amazing and wonderful, then leap for joy and smile every day that you can continue to work there.

Rarely are the things you dream about gotten free. Even if the potential is there,  you still need to put in your hours, sometimes, years to get from pretty good to great. There’s nothing wrong with optimism, but don’t confuse it with a phone call out of the blue or a headhunter who says “this job is the best ever.” Maybe it is or will be — but maybe not.

FAVORITE ROSE PHOTO – CEE’S FLOWER OF THE DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

February 15 – My Favorite Rose Photo


This is one of my top two rose photo favorites. The two pictures are very much alike.

I love this picture because the roses bloomed so intensely they look like the roses they put on the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Last year we cut them back very far and the bloomed, but not nearly as much as usual and I think the intense rain has prevented a lot of sun-loving flowers from blooming. It’s all mud out there!

OMG By Marilyn Armstrong

Have any of us ever calculated the number of posts on Facebook, Twitter, and even WordPress that start out with OMG or something like it? The sentence which follows might — or might not — have anything to do with the opening OMG. My personal favorite is when the author tried to fully engage the excitement, shock, horror, fear, loathing, and paralyzing awesomeness of his personal “event.”


She says, “OMG! I’m 25! That’s so OLD!
What can I do NOW?”


I would expect, given that she or he has lived 25 years of life to its fullest, surely it’s time to make burial plans. Buy a plot of land and a nice casket or arrange for a ceremonial burning. Any amount of time living life past 25 would be an obvious waste. Really, hasn’t she done it all? Any activity from this now on would be mere repetition

While we were out on the water with Tom and Ellin, there was an emergency in progress. A man had fallen in the water and apparently was “swept away.”

That doesn’t make a lot of sense as the water was dead-calm. It was low tide with water running into shore, not out to sea. But we’ll skip all that for now. I’m pretty sure Garry has more to say about the story. He can do news and probably never said OH, MY GOD, in all his years of reporting.

What we saw were people on jet skis closing in and apparently hoping to find … what? A living guy? A dead one? If you find a floating corpse while zipping around on your jet ski, what’s your next step? IS there a next step? Can you call the Coast Guard from your jet ski? Do you watch him float away while you zip back to shore to Tweet your friends about how you saw the “totally OMG coolest thing in the WORLD in the WATER?”

However much we may feel that the news no longer really is the news, at least not like was, if you consider how the news would be done without professionals? It makes me nearly collapse with laughter.

GOOGLY EYES – Marilyn Armstrong

I know I’ve posted this before, but I really like it so I’m doing it again! It makes me laugh every time I read it.

I woke up this morning with an earworm. Not your normal earworm. Mine was a 1920s earworm. It was a song my mother sang often and for once, she actually got the words right. Ask any member of my family and they will assure you: my mother never ever remembered the words to any song — except this one. She would sing words from other songs to whatever melody was bouncing around in her head. But she knew all the words to this one. It’s SUCH an earworm, once you listen to it, it just sort of sits in your head and goes around and around and around.

So I get up this morning and this is what I’m hearing, but without the scratches:

And by golly, the words I had in my head were dead on. Next, the obvious question arises:

How did Google get its name? – Mobilis In Mobile

The mysterious mysteries of the Internet

How did Google get its name?You may have read this kind of “official answer”: Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner. The story goes, Kasner would have asked his nephew to invent a name for a very large number – ten to the power of one hundred, and Milton called it a googol. Blah-blah-blah!

Whatever say GSpecialists, Wikipedia or Google corporate itself, last Friday I discovered the secret when I was twittering with Orli. Google was named after Barney Google.*

Just listen to Barney Google’s song. No more to say!

One of you might write an essay on how, when and why granny Brin and/or Page was singing this song.


You may have read this kind of “official” answer: “Google derived its name from the word “googol”, a term coined by then nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner but I’d bet money (and I never bet money!) that Google was named after Barney Google.” The most popular comic strip in the U.S. for dozens of years … and still around even today.

Barney Google – The History

Now you know the truth about Google and somehow, it makes a lot more sense than
any other explanation I’ve heard!

HOUSEKEEPING BY MAGIC – Marilyn Armstrong

One night, I explained to Garry about house-elves. He isn’t a big reader of fantasy, so some of this stuff was news to him. I told him if we left milk and cookies out, the little folk would come to our house.

Overnight, while we sleep, they would clean, scrub, repair, and cook. Fix the roof. Clear the snow. When we got up the next morning, the coffee would be ready along with delicious, fresh-baked goodies.

Homemade pound cake.

He looked at me. I think he wasn’t sure if he had heard me. “Is this like, real? Has this ever happened?”

“No,” I said. “Only in folk tales and fantasy novels. And Harry Potter. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were true? We could leave out milk, cookies, and an old pair of socks. Just in case.”

“Socks?”

“Yes. They use them as clothing.”

“Oh.”

Dobby_the_house_elf

One eyebrow went up. “You know some furry family members who would surely eat everything. And Bonnie would steal the socks. They might leave us a gift, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be freshly baked croissants … or a clean house.”

I’m sure I had him, if only for a few minutes. I think I could have turned him into a believer. Underneath our rationality, we want to believe in magic. Raw reality has such rough edges these days. It’s exhausting and frightening.

Give me myth and please pass the magic. It’s so much better than reality, isn’t it?