We voted today and now what is left is holding our breath and hoping it will all work out. I also got to actually see my doctor. Mostly, we talked about why inhalers cost so much, how tired we are of COVID and how we have no choice but to deal with it, no matter how tedious it is. Some of us do not have a choice. Then we talked about pain — mine — and how as far as I know, there’s nothing I can do about it. Nothing at all. Pain management, but that’s difficult since opioids make me sick, so what I’m taking (Tramadol) is pretty much as good as it gets. Which isn’t, sadly, very good.

It was the old High School. Now, it’s the new Middle School.

I said: “Given how bad it is now, I dread to imagine how I’ll be in five years. And my luck being what it is, I’m probably going to live forever just to keep my chronic ailments from disappearing.” So he told me the story of the supposedly oldest woman in the world — 129. He doesn’t think she is quite that old, but admits she is definitely very old. She says her long life is God’s revenge because in all her life, she can only remember two happy days in her life.

Garry shooting autumn foliage

Two days out of 129 years? That’s pretty bad. I can remember a lot of happy days, even recently, though it gets difficult as the pain keeps getting worse and I wonder how I’m going to keep managing. He wants me to go to this very special pain clinic near Boston, even though it’s very inconvenient. Because, he says, they seem to work miracles even with people like me who have pretty much given up hope. I said “What the hell, I don’t have anything to lose as long as they don’t try to give me drugs I can’t take.” The worst it can do is nothing.

And now today’s questions, which are heavily overshadowed by the day that went before them.

A Guy Called Bloke” asked this one last Saturday on a random question post he wrote: “How many people in real life or on social media (including WordPress, which has become a rather social media site) do you consider good enough friends to help you ‘hide the dead body?”

I would say three or four, except they all live terribly far away. This probably makes burying the body difficult, but they are for the most part, really good at giving emotional support. This is almost as good as burying the body and to be fair, I don’t have any unburied bodies lingering around so I’m probably good.

Are You Ready To Order?   What Are You Having (craving) right now?

Something that will make me hurt less. This is one of those days when something — rheumatoid arthritis? fibromyalgia? regular arthritis? — is making absolutely everything hurt. Yet tomorrow, it may be much better. There is absolutely no figuring why I have these really bad days, though the fibromyalgia is probably the most likely candidate because of its vagueness and unreasonable lack of reasons for showing up at all. It isn’t connected to anything that happens in the “real world.” It just drops in and makes you feel like hell until one day it goes away. For a while.

How’s the weather in YOUR neck of the woods?

Our home in the fall

Beautiful. No, seriously. It’s sunny, chilly at night, warm by day. It’s fantastic weather. Of course, we need rain, but in the meantime the weather is delightful.

There has always been something. Before there was something, there was only nothing. Which do you think is more likely?

I don’t have the slightest idea. I have no concept of nothing, so I figure there was something, but different — whatever it was or wasn’t.


I haven’t written anything because I’m playing Scrabble. I have so missed it that finally getting a copy on my computers — got one on the Mac and the phone too — is great. I’m a really good Scrabble player and I will only play with a computer or someone who plays very well. Otherwise, it’s not fair.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I played Scrabble every day for all nine months of my and my friend Sue’s pregnancies (we were pregnant together). We got really good at it, so when we get to see each other, yes, we play scrabble. She’s the only living person who can regularly beat me. It’s a relief.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

So if I seem to be away from the computer, it’s a couple of things: a lot of doctor visits all of which were deferred because of the quarantine — Garry’s and mine — and Scrabble. There are a lot of doctors this week alone. Three appointments, each of which is going to take most of the day.

Next Monday, Garry has an appointment to get his hearing tested and see if he can get his hearing aid repaired. It’s at the hospital, so I may not go because they won’t even let me into the waiting room while he gets his testing done. The hearing tests take a couple of hours. There are many of them testing different speech and sound patterns and they often do one more than once to double-check the result, so it’s a long haul. Aid repairs could take some time, too, assuming they have the parts they need.

The road to our polling place

The next day, it’s me and the pain clinic, which is very close to Boston, so we won’t have much traffic going in at lunchtime, but we are bound to hit rush hour coming home. It’ll be interesting to see if traffic is lighter now than it used to be … and it’s election day, too. We’ve both voted already so we don’t have to take time out for that, but at night, it’s me and the election.

Back home

I am an election junkie. I have always been like that since the first one — John Kennedy — was on television when I was 13. Except when I was in Israel when I voted by mail (it was the only time I was every at the consulate except when my U.S. Passport expired and a needed a new one, I have never missed an election. This one, for obvious reasons, is more important and completely different from any other election in my lifetime.

Garry as photographer by the house

Nonetheless, I’m going to watch it. If it take a couple of weeks, I’ll watch every night. Maybe not ALL night, but I’ll watch.

I don’t think we’ll know the results the same day as we usually do, but since Trump has said he isn’t going to leave the White House even if he loses, this could get very interesting and not in a good way.

Up the road

If we have a revolution or a civil war, I will play more Scrabble. And I will read a lot. Because I have no idea how to deal with a war. None whatsoever.


Kinda like a tiny little chipmunk

As I was watching the coffee brew, I watched our “least Chipmunk” skittle up our deck and jump onto the feeder. As her little cheeks got stuffed with seeds, she would run off to feed her babies, wherever they may be. She was back and forth for about and hour and between her travels, I got a few nice — square — pictures.


It wasn’t a bad day. More, it was a day when it’s over, you wonder if you accomplished anything. There were so many stops and starts and lots of phone calls and running up and downstairs … did I do anything? I did take a few pictures but haven’t had time to process them.  The rain is close to ending. It was a good rain. Much better than was promised. I know a lot of people resent a day without the sun, but we’ve had a lot of sun and that is why we need the rain.

Our nor’easters are essentially “local hurricanes.” Storms come in from the ocean and start to spin. They don’t move. So if it’s rain, there’s flooding. In the winter, we’ve gotten as much as three or four feet of snow before it finally breaks up. With the contractor working, there was a strong sense of pressure to get finished before the weather moved in. Then, there were phone calls. I’m checking out other medical insurance. I should have made the calls earlier in the week, but I had to make them today.

Mumford River

Meanwhile, it’s the world series but I think they are going to cancel the American League Pennant because of the weather. A glitch in Garry’s baseball channel went on for hours and entailed a prolonged wait on hold for tech support. To learn, as I suspected, they were having problems. The baseball channel has a lot of problems, but if you want to watch baseball, gotta have it. I needed to fix Garry’s broken email too — which wasn’t difficult but took a long time. Warning! Delete old emails! If you don’t, eventually your email server stops serving and goes on strike.

The contractor did a GREAT job on the house. He’s still here. It is a real improvement. No more rot and no more of that sloppy, moldy old door … and the front door is finally insulated and nicely finished. It needs a new painting, but I think maybe it’s too late.

Tomorrow, we have to take the car in because somehow, one of the two latches that keep the hood in place broke off. No accident or anything. It’s just gone. It’s not a big deal driving a few miles into town, but a longer trip could cause serious damage. Meanwhile, since both Garry and I have doctor appointments next week at UMass, their automated equipment calls every day for each appointment. They are such long calls, too. I feel a powerful need to go edit their electronic phone calls.

None of this sounds like a big deal and it wasn’t a big deal, but It was busy and fragmented. On my agenda for tomorrow was explaining to the doctor that Garry’s has run out of hydrochlorothiazide because The Duke ate the container. Duke doesn’t (fortunately!) eat the pills. Just the plastic container. And any wood he can wrap his jaws around. I have a lot of canine antiqued wood furniture. Duke is not the first wood-chewer in the household. Only the most recent and enthusiastic.

Wood-Eating Duke


This week, Duke rejected a meal — which all the people in the house had happily eaten the previous day — because it had potatoes in it. Duke, who claims he is not a dog, does not like potatoes. Any potatoes. Not even salty, curly, spiced French Fries!  “But,” said my son, “ALL dogs love fries.” Not El Duque. He used to like potatoes, mind you. In fact, he used to beg for them. Now? He puts a fry in his mouth, carries it to a corner where he drops it, then comes back to beg for another. Because the new one might be better than the last.


Having him reject the same chicken stew we all loved was my final straw as a chef.

“It’s dog food for you,” I announced. How spoiled is your dog when he gets picky about human food? I had actually begun to carefully pick out the cooked peppers from food since Duke refuses to eat them. Clearly, a few weeks of dog food should clarify his position in the food chain. For the first time in recent memory, he didn’t get any leftovers last night. There really weren’t any leftovers anyhow, but I usually save my last bite or two for him because he’s a good boy. But good boys do NOT reject my chicken stew (which had actually been a pot-pie, but humans ate the crust).

I couldn’t help myself. I was insulted by my dog. As permanent full-time cook, his rejection of my chicken stew — good chicken stew — was more than I could handle. I am convinced before the week is out, Duke will start to recognize his doghood. He is not a person. He is a dog because he is eating dog food. Which is probably better for him anyway, though frankly, all that chicken with onions and mushrooms and tiny cut-up (by hand!) potatoes looked pretty good to me.



The other day, I was looking at the sales on one of my favorite clothing sites and realized that they now sell masks to go with every outfit you own. At least a dozen colors plus lots of patterns. This COVID experience has been interesting in a lot of ways, but for some reason, I didn’t expect fashion changes. I don’t know why. I suppose, like most people, I thought this would come and go in a couple of weeks or maximum months. Who knew it would become part of our lives for so long? This change in what is a pretty conservative clothing collection seemed so odd to me. It also means that they — clothing manufacturers — think we are going to be wearing masks for a long time to come.

Masked and ruthless!
Wisdom from Bizarro and the giant heads on Easter Island.


Kinda like Birds of Many Feathers

I have to admit, I have taken a lot of pictures of birds. i know this because when i look for pictures — any kind of pictures — the page is dominated by photographs of birds. I hadn’t realized I’d become so obsessive about taking birdy pictures, but the evidence is hard to ignore.

That for the past 7 months we have rarely left this property probably has a lot to do with it. The birds — and associated other small wildlife — are the only interesting things to take pictures of.


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Outside Your Home or View

The autumn leaves are getting pale, though probably down by the river they are still bright. Here, though, they are pale. It’s definitely a result of the prolonged drought. I hope the drought is ending. We got a inch and a half of rain earlier in the week and we are supposed to get more over the weekend. We have a big water deficit to make up: about 9 inches in Boston and about 7 or 8 inches locally. I hope we are (finally) on our way!

These were taken by Garry and me between August and October 2020.

Cee's Black-White


A Photo a Week Challenge: The Road Not Taken

In the winter, in the snow … or through the autumn woods. There is always an untaken path. There is never enough time to walk every path. We are inevitably forced to choose between one and the other. I think we always believe the other road was probably better … but we’ll never know.


Looking at my stats, I realized before this month is over, I will pass a million views. When I started blogging, I remember discovering I’d made it to a thousand views. I was thrilled. A thousand was a lot! Those were the days when getting two or three views was a big deal. Then, suddenly, I was getting a hundred, two hundred, three hundred a day. It happened fast. I never imagined I would still be blogging eight years later and suddenly, in front of me, was the million marker. I know others who have crossed it and of course, the really big bloggers who are way up there in the multi-millions, but for a regular “I do it for the fun of writing and posting photographs” kind of blogger, a million is a lot of views.

I’m not getting the kind of traffic I used to get. I think the glory days of blogging are drawing to a close. There aren’t enough platforms anymore and they all charge more money than I can reasonably pay. I’m glad, before I fade away, that I’m going to make that mark.

I stopped pushing for bigger numbers a couple of years ago. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. It was just that I cared more about the writing and the pictures. The numbers were incidental. I also felt obliged — with all this political madness — to notch my writing frenzy down a few pegs. I began to realize while I love blogging, I also enjoy the rest of life. I started baking again. Bored with the same old food, I figured if I couldn’t stop cooking, I could at least try making more interesting dishes.

I also missed the joy of wrapping myself in a book and letting the real world disappear. And music and the occasional movie. All the hassles with WordPress made blogging so much more like work and so much less fun. I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll do at the end of my fiscal year. What I’m really hoping is that they fix their block editor to make it more “bloggable” and less of an ugly clunker. Make it more friendly for people who just want to enjoy blogging. If I wanted to get really SERIOUS about blogging, there’s always Medium. They want serious writing and if you get popular, they will pay you, too.

I can write seriously. But more often than not, I want to have fun. I want the fun of remembering stuff, telling stories. Showing off a few pictures. Serious is sometimes. The rest of the time, blogging is my idea of fun. Birds, flowers, foliage, and people from olden days when we were young and frolicked more while worrying less.

On a good day, I still enjoy blogging … but I don’t want to give it my all every day. This morning, I looked at Garry and asked him: “What’s going to happen next month? Are we heading for a civil war? When I lived in Israel, we were always expecting a war. War could come from outside. It wasn’t a civil war. This is something entirely different.”

Garry admitted he has no idea what is going to happen because this isn’t like anything he’s lived through before. I’m not sure anyone in our generation or younger who was raised in this country has any idea what might happen. I need to put some time into thinking about what living means to me, to Garry, to all of us. How we are going to find our way from this very dark place to a happier one. A million views is a nice thing but I’m not sure how much it’s going to help us get through whatever is coming next.


Imagination Kindled: A Very Birdy Day

It finally rained! Not just a little drizzle, but the real deal. It rained pretty heavily for several hours and more lightly the rest of the day. I was thrilled to see it. We are supposed to get more rain on the weekend. Maybe our trees won’t die!

A very typical Nuthatch

The birds seemed to enjoy the rain too. There certainly were a lot of them although not as many as we had a month ago. The Goldfinch have gone north to breed. Gone north to breed? Do birds do that? Well, the Goldfinches do. They go to Canada to breed and come back here in December or January. They breed in the winter. I’m sure someone understands this, but i don’t. So today, we had “the regulars.”

Orange Cardinal and incoming Chickadee (I thinK, but It’s hard to tell when they are in flight)

A lot of orange Cardinals. We don’t seem to have red ones anymore. Only orange and they all look terribly angry. Lots — bunches and bunches — of Nuthatches, Tufted Titmouses, Chickadees and Mourning Doves.

You can still see that he’s not yet full grown

I took pictures and they didn’t all fly away the minute I took my camera out of the bag. Yay!


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Pink and Yellow 

Flowers and birds, birds and flowers … and maybe a car or a plow. The Goldfinch, in summer, are brilliant yellow and even in the middle of a drought, we had bushels of pink roses. And of course, we had red skies and pink skies. Not too many in yellow, though.