A THIRD ORCHID AND STILL EXCITED ABOUT FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

ORCHIDS – PLANT OF THE DAY

I’ve been watching for a new orchid. Every day I check. Did another bud open yet? Today, there it was. The third flower is in bloom.

I got all excited. I was going to go take pictures, but it turned out to be four o’clock which is the dog’s dinner time, so I had to stop and feed them. As soon as they finished choking down the food — they really eat as if no one ever feeds them — I grabbed two cameras. First, the OMD with the macro lens and the tiny Pentax Q with its fast “normal lens.

It was a bright day and I hoped I’d have enough light to get clean shots with the macro. The Pentax Q was my fallback position.

“I’m so excited,” I told Garry. “I didn’t use to get excited about plants.”I stopped when I said that because I realized I was lying. When I lived in New York, my whole first floor looked like a greenhouse. I had hundreds of plants. Hanging and standing. Tall and flat. And they were literally everywhere you looked.

I had special stands made on which to put the plants in which I could put water so the heat from the radiators would turn to mist and keep them from drying out. People I didn’t know would leave me cuttings on my porch. I was, in fact, know as “The Plant Lady” unless it was someone to whom I had given a cat or dog, in which case I was the cat or dog lady.

To say I didn’t get excited about plants was an out-and-out lie. No one who doesn’t get excited about plants grows a few hundred of them indoors.

“Okay,” I said, having rethought my original statement. “I guess I do get excited about plants.”

Garry remembers the house on Dikeman Street. I didn’t have curtains. The plants covered the windows in every room on the ground floor. I had a miniature hose which attached to my kitchen faucet so I could water them in a couple of hours.

I had started out with maybe three plants, but there were clippings and the arboretum had a sale. And people gave me plants. Cuttings. Ferns.

And all I did was water them when they got dry and make sure they got a reasonable amount of light. When I left for Israel, I had to give away my plants. I had one hanging fern that was about five feet around. I gave to friends as a wedding present. They looked puzzled. A fern? A gigantic fern?

“Water it when it gets dry and be sure it gets light. It doesn’t need full sun, just light.” I have no idea what happened to it because the next day, I was on a plane to Israel where I had to rethink my plant choices. The balcony on which I grew my plants, was on the south side of the house. It got hot, semi-tropical sun from mid-morning until dark. Most plants fried in that kind of sunshine.

It turned out the only plants that could cope with it were petunias, hanging geraniums — which have simply got to be the most versatile plants available — and cactus. Everything else burned to a crisp.

So here I am, 41 years later. I still get excited about plants. I don’t have as many of them — indoors, just a half-dozen. I don’t have the energy to maintain a huge indoor greenhouse. Moreover, we don’t have enough light to grow most of the plants I grew in those less golden olden days.

If Renoir lived here …

I did get a third blossom on the orchids, though. That makes up for a lot, even if my outdoor garden is a terrible mess.

I am expecting one more flower in about a week.

PUPPY LOVE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I had forgotten how cute puppies are. Or how much work they are. Then my brother-in-law came to visit with his 12-week old Catahoula Leopard Dog, named Houla. She is one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen!

Houla

Before she came, Tom and I worried about how our two dogs, ages two and eight, would get along with the puppy. At first, our guys didn’t know how to react to this 17-pound ball of energy. Lexi, the eight-year-old, is usually overly aggressive with other dogs. But she played nicely and gently with Houla. Remy, the two-year-old, is usually great with other dogs. But she just barked in the puppy’s face non-stop. Total role reversal.

Then they switched back and started acting true to character. That first day involved snarling and growling and lots of human intervention to avoid a trip to the vet. But there was no bloodshed and the drama was relatively low-keyed.

Then something wonderful happened The three dogs negotiated a working agreement. Or rather, a play agreement. Suddenly the dogs were all playing together 24/7. Happy as clams. They chased each other and rolled around on the floor together. They climbed all over each other. All the time barking, yipping, and yelping with doggie glee.

Of course, the puppy still managed to find time to get into our stuff. There she goes running down the hall with a Time Magazine in her mouth! There goes one of Tom’s shoes! A wine cork is a fun chew toy to throw in the air and catch!

By evening everyone was exhausted, especially the humans. Thank God the dogs were too. After a good post-dinner romp, all three dogs found a comfy place to crash and they all passed out!

One night, Tom and his brother slept on the boat so I was home alone with the dogs. Houla slept on the bed with me and my dogs. Peace reigned until I got up to feed them at 6 AM. After eating, Houla was wired and kept running around the bed. This drove Lexi crazy and she wouldn’t stop barking at Houla. So I was up off and on for hours until Houla finally went back to sleep.

The next night, Houla slept with us till the 6 AM feeding and then I took her back to my brother-in-law’s room. She cuddled with him and slept till it was time to get up.

It’s been funny to see how three adults can barely hold their own in the face of an energetic, happy puppy. Every conversation attempt was punctuated with “Houla NO! NO!” We kept hearing suspicious sounds that had to be investigated. There goes an empty plastic bottle or a plastic bag. (Why do dogs love plastic bags? They can’t taste good). There goes a CD case whizzing by!

These few days have been SO much fun! We have all been smiling and laughing so much our faces hurt! I am SOOO sad to see this puppy depart! The house will be quiet and boring. But I think the puppy is wonderful for my brother-in-law, who lives alone in the middle of nowhere. She gives him companionship and something to do with his days as a retiree.

This visit has confirmed for me my love of all dogs. And my great appreciation for having two in my life who enrich my days and warm my heart.

BOSTON HARBOR FROM FAR ABOVE THE ROOFLINE – SQUARE ROOFS #18 – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s that time of year again and squares are back! 

It’s dusk. From the 33rd floor of the State Street skyscraper overlooking Boston Harbor. Not an easy shot as I’m dressed for a wedding and the only camera I have is a rather pathetic one in my not-so-new mobile phone.

Yet it’s a magnificent sight. I’m glad I’m able to get any pictures at all.

You can see many rooves along the harbor, from 250-year-old warehouses to other tall building. But this building was the tallest of all!


Well, the theme is ROOFS (or rooves if you prefer). Your roof can be;

A – Any type, any condition, any size, and in any location.
B – It could be a shot across rooftops, of one roof like today or even a macro
C – You might prefer to spend some time under the eaves and in the attic, or enjoy the view from above as Brian has already done today.


See you tomorrow!

JUNE IS SQUARE – ROOF 17 – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s that time of year again and squares are back! 

Roofs along the trolley tracks in Brookline

 


Well, the theme is ROOFS (or rooves if you prefer). Your roof can be;

A – any type, any condition, any size, and in any location.
B – it could be a shot across rooftops, of one roof like today or even a macro
C – you might prefer to spend some time under the eaves and in the attic, or enjoy the view from above as Brian has already done today.


See you tomorrow!

TRAIN TRACKS IN BLACK & WHITE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Trains and Tracks

Boston has many trains. Commuter trains as well as trains to DC. Florida, and other places. More interestingly, it has trolleys: small trains that run through several towns used by local commuters.

Everyone loves them because unless the standard commuter trains, the trolleys run on time. It’s your job as a car driver to get out of the way when they come!

Trolley tracks in Boston streets
X – Crossing the tracks
Grafton train tracks

WHICH WAY – THE ETERNAL UNANSWERABLE QUESTION – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

Aldrich Street in June

I am permanently lost, so every time this challenge comes up, I take it personally.

Trolley station in Brookline

I’m good with maps, back when they published local maps that showed the actual streets in town.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Early in June

Mostly you can buy atlases, all of which show the main roads, but not the ones we are traveling.

Home again

 

EVEN GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE HAS ISSUES – Marilyn Armstrong

My son ordered a label maker from Amazon. Not terribly expensive and not an obscure product. He got it on time, but when he opened the crate, it turned out to be an empty case. No label maker in it.

He was going to return the empty box.

I said: “Don’t be silly. You don’t return empty boxes. That will confuse everyone. They will want to know what happened to the label maker. You get in touch with them. They will fix it.”

I said that with confidence because they always try very hard to fix problems at Amazon.

“You can’t get in touch with Amazon,” he said.

“Oh yes you can,” I said.

“How?”

“Ask for the number or to chat live. They really will fix it.”

“How do you do that?”

The answer is not complicated.

Go into the customer service area. That is a bit circuitous, but if you use Amazon a lot, you figure it out. It needs to be about an order, so you should know exactly what your problem is and what you want them to do about it. That is pretty much true for all customer service.

After you are in the right area, type: “Need telephone number for Amazon customer service.”

They ask if you want them to call you (which they will do literally instantly) or would you prefer a chat? They prefer chats and so do I. It’s faster. Also, I can copy and paste information from the order into a chat file. That’s harder on a phone call. Not impossible, but harder.

I got the chat. Explained what happened. She said “Oops, sorry. Tell him he can keep the box and do whatever he wants with it. We’ll send him a new one.”

The would ship it as soon as possible. I called Owen back.

“But how did you know who to talk to?”

I explained I had talked to the guy at customer service and the new order was already in the order file, price $0.00. Shipment probably overnight.

Good customer service does make a big difference. Well-served customers keep coming back. Angry customers don’t. You hear that Dell? You hear that Apple? Got that Microsoft? Anyone listening at DirectTV, Charter, or AT&T?

Happy customers come back and sometimes bring their friends. And family. If you make us mad, we go elsewhere. Just saying.

The shipment arrived yesterday and guess what? It was another empty case. One empty case was not a big deal. Two? They have a shipping problem. Especially because this second box came with a big label on it that said: “CASE ONLY!”  I have to assume the shipping picker either had no time to recognize that the label maker had to be taken from another shelf and put into the case, or couldn’t read English.

I gave up. Although they offered to ship it again, there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t show up empty again. They refunded the money. Sometimes, you have to know when you’re beaten.

Good customer service helps, but so does getting the order right.