IN THE DARK OF NIGHT, THE SOUNDS WE HEAR – Marilyn Armstrong

I have to start this out by explaining that just a couple of days ago, I heard a noise in the bedroom. It was the kind of noise the wakes me right up because it was a little squeaky noise. Like the sound a mouse makes. And it was followed by little scrabbly sounds.

We had a  mouse in the bedroom!

Now, we’ve put a fair amount of energy and money into controlling our mouse problems and we know we haven’t had any up here, and just a few in the basement. The last time the mouse guy was out — just a couple of weeks ago — I asked if there was any chance we’d solve the mouse problem and he said, “No. You live in the woods.”

I said: “I know the mice are just looking for a warm cozy place to spend the winter, but not here.”

He looked at me. “You are,” he said “Exactly what they are looking for. You live in the woods. The mice will find you. Do you know they can slip in through a space no wider than a dime?”

We spent considerable time cleaning the bedroom but didn’t find any sign of mice actually setting up a home in our bedroom. But if I hear that sound again, those mice people will have to get back here and do their mouse annihilation thing. I sympathize with chilled mice, but not my bedroom. Sorry small furries. If I won’t sleep with my dogs, I ain’t sleeping with you!

There are other sounds I’ve heard that cannot be managed by the mouse guy.

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!

– Traditional Scottish Prayer

I’ve never met a ghoul and I have questions about long-legged beasties, but I can speak from personal experience about Things That Go Bump in the Night. Long ago in a house far away, we had our own ghosts. Friendly ghosts or at least, they were friendly to us.

Ghosts have been part of human mythology as long as tales have been told around campfires. Maybe before campfires. I don’t think if any religion excludes the possibility of ghosts. There seems to be a general agreement that ghosts and wraiths are spirits of the dead who linger on Earth after they have slipped that mortal coil. Some are malevolent, others benevolent or merely curious. Ghosts vary by mythology, religion, and era. Even today, there are rumors and stories.

I cannot claim to have seen a ghost, but I lived in a house where everyone could hear our ghosts. It was 1965 when for $20,300, we were able to buy a tidy little brick house built in 1932. On the first floor were two bedrooms and a bathroom. There was a big bedroom on the partially finished second floor. The house was small but solid, walking distance from the college where my husband worked and I was finishing my degree.

The ambiance of the house from the moment we walked into it was overtly friendly. It welcomed everyone and made them feel at home. The little house had been built by a couple who had lived, raised children, and then died in it. They were not murdered or anything sordid. They merely grew old and passed on in the home they loved.

We loved it too. My son wouldn’t come onto the scene for 4 more years, but it was a good house to raise babies. I could feel it.

The house was a bit neglected. Not falling down but in need of paint and some modernization of its infrastructure. It still had its original heating system, converted from a coal burner to an oil furnace. Not very efficient and the radiators were huge, old and iron. Oil was cheap; we didn’t worry about it. We’d get to it eventually.

Initially, we lived on the first floor since the bathroom was there. The upstairs had been an attic, but half of it had become a bedroom. We wanted to move up there. It was bigger and had great light, but we needed to fix it up first.

Before anything else, we wanted to paint. The entire house was painted pale salmon pink. It wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t any color we’d have chosen. Worse, it was high gloss paint, like one would use in a kitchen or bath.

We painted the downstairs first. Every night, we heard our ghosts walking. You could hear the sound of heavy, loud footsteps upstairs, sharp, like the soles of hard leather shoes or boots. Everyone on the lower floor heard it.

The walking started around eight in the evening, continued for a few minutes. Then the footsteps would pause and restart randomly until around midnight. The footsteps always stopped by midnight and never began before eight.

We called them “The Old Man” and “The Old Woman.” They wore different shoes. Her shoes had a sharp sound, like high heels on a hardwood floor. His were clunkier like maybe work boots. Both of them had died in the house, so they were prime candidates for ghosthood, especially since no one ever lived in the house until we moved in.

At first, we also heard them on the steps, but after we painted the stairway, the footsteps retreated and we only heard them in the attic and bedroom. After we began painting the bedroom, we continued to hear them for a while in the attic and then, one day, they were gone, never to return.

Were they watching to see if we properly cared for and loved their home? I thought so. Were we all hallucinating? It was the 1960s, so anything is possible, but I think it was the couple who had lived there watching to make sure we did right by the house. We did and I guess they felt it was okay to depart.

Life is full of strangeness. If anyone has bumped into a long-legged beastie, please tell me about it. I’m dying to know.

TELL MR. DEMILLE I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE UP! – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Close ups

There was a time not so long ago when head shots — close-ups — were standardized in black & white. That’s the way they were done.

The swan in the pond

Possibly, it was because they were typically put in newspapers which were black & white  — much less expensive to print for everyone.

Barbara Rosenblat, narrator and actor

Personally, I don’t think the quality of color in newsprint is worth looking at. They should stay with black & white.

Macro Duke in black & white

I also think that black & white closeups are more interesting and dramatic than color.

Gibbs
Bonnie
Kaity
Garry and Harvey Leonard
Marilyn by Garry
Black-crowned-night-heron

ODD BALLS FROM THE MOB – CEE’S ODDBALL PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: April 22, 2018


A little light on the party

We went to a party. They aren’t my best pictures, but they were more fun than most.

A word about processing people pictures from parties. I use a lot of creative effects on people pictures because what I want to show is their faces, their laughter, the fun without making every look like they have the neck of a chicken or, as Garry puts it “the chrome dome.”

Everyone wants to look good. Most people our age don’t expect to look young and they don’t mind seeing character in their faces, but they also don’t want to look like they were just unearthed from a grave. Finding a balance is a bit of a trick. I put more time and energy into processing people — especially people in my age group — than I do for anything else.

Trees don’t care if the bark looks grungy, but people care a lot when their skin looks like tree bark.

ALL KINDS OF SEATING – CEE’S B & W PHOTO CHALLENGE

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: SITTING


In the waiting chairs at the RMV

Any kind of chair or seating. I think I’ve got it!

But where are the dogs?

CONGREGATING IN THE SLOW LANE

It turns out, there are a lot of variations of congregate meaning “to get together, join together, group together, party hearty.” With some fish, it also mean joining in union to make baby fish. Or is that conjugate?

But, there is no word which means “someone who congregates.” No congregator. Congregationalist? Do you have to join a group for that?Way back when, in the days when I had energy, enthusiasm, and I genuinely liked most people, I was enthusiastic about “getting together.” I was considered sociable and I almost agreed with that. I was never quite as sociable many thought. I was a party “edge person.” I would look for whoever was standing along at the edges of a party and engage them in conversation. I never like big groups of people in one place because you couldn’t have a conversation with anyone when everyone was there.

I made exceptions when I gave the party because if it was my party, I didn’t expect to engage in conversation. Party giving was more about flitting about and making sure everyone else was having a good time. I gave a few good parties through the decades (generations?), but mostly, I preferred having a friend or two or three — and a great conversation about everything.

Remember conversations that lasted until dawn? We covered philosophy, government, the meaning of life. Travel to the stars, reincarnation and the best books we’d read lately. No one got bored or left out.

Later, people got old. Died. Drifted into a world of their own, moved to senior housing “somewhere near their kids” which was always hundreds of miles from us. Others simply drifted. What we had in common — work was big — it was not relevant when we all had mostly quit working.

Those of us with functional marriages who really liked our partners have been the lucky ones. Singleness is fine when you are active enough to travel and gad about, but these days, it’s an abiding joy to have a partner whose hand you can hold while you watch old movies, cuddled by dogs with cold noses.

We’ve been talking lately about how few friends we have remaining. This isn’t unusual at our age. People leave and don’t come back. Many others don’t like traveling. Or driving any distance. More don’t like going places with which they are not familiar. Everyone like their own bed. If you have pets, it gets increasingly difficult to find someone to take care of them when you aren’t there.

We still have friends. They are old friends. Friends forever. Who knew the people we used to know and share memories of the times through which we’ve lived. Have common political and philosophical beliefs — and hopefully enjoy the same movies!

TWO LADIES – THURSDAYS’ SPECIAL

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: FEMALE

This house is nicely divided between two guys, and two ladies. Well, even better because two of our creatures are Scottish Terriers and the rest of us are … people. Last I looked, anyhow.

I tried to take a proper selfie today and remembered why I don’t. My arms are much too short. I looked horrible. I don’t mean “not too great” but more like “Bury that, please.” Bad. I wanted to post a picture since I got new glasses a couple of weeks ago. So far, no one has noticed the new glasses. I think they are quite different from the old ones, but apparently no one, including my son, can tell the difference.

I also look older, but that’s because I am older. Also, it seems I have an uneven ears. With wire rims, I could twist them a bit so they looked straight, but these don’t twist so they sit slantwise on my face.

I’m glad that full size glasses are back. I was tired of the itty bitty ones.

Now there’s the other lady in the house: Bonnie. Some might say she is a bit fat, but Garry says she is perfect!

Bonnie has perfect vision and does not need glasses. She is, my husband assures me, the perfect little girl.

jupiter najnajnoviji

GOOD OR BAD OR INDIFFERENT?

When I add up the good and bad in my life, I often wonder how so many things done with such good intentions managed to turn out so poorly.

three dogs

I’ve done stuff I thought was nice — helpful — only to have it backfire in a particularly horrible way. You know, like the couple you introduced? They got married (yay), but are now in the middle of a hideous divorce (boo). One way or the other, someone (probably everyone) is mad at me. I meant well.

DangerDogs

Over all, I did the best I could. I tried to help. Maybe I didn’t succeed. Maybe my kindness turned out to be a massive disservice.

dogs on stairs

Only my dogs really appreciate me. They want what I can give. They don’t worry about consequences, side effects, or what might go wrong. The want a biscuit. A cuddle. A nice game of tug of war. They never want more than I can give. If I don’t get it right, they always forgive me. Immediately and never hold a grudge.

That’s the thing about dogs. And the problem with people.