MORE OF GARRY’S WORLD IN WHITE – Garry Armstrong

I took a lot of pictures and each day Marilyn processes a few. Then I post them. This is mostly Aldrich Street, down the road from the house — and then, our house. With bushels of snow.

Down by the bar at the end of the road

As Aldrich breaks off from Route 146A

A bench on the Common with snow

Our 1928 Fordson tractor

Looking for work?

Home sweet home with our mailbox and our across the street neighbor’s mailbox

Oh, look! Mail!

Home. With snow.

We’re expected warm weather, rain, very cold weather, a bit of snow, a bit of sleet, more warm weather. These days, a forecast is everything you can think of that isn’t summer in one ten minute narration on television.

And if you wait until the end of the news, they will have revised it. Completely. Isn’t it great that there’s no such thing as climate change?

A TINY CHURCH – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s a tiny church hidden behind houses in Amherst. If you don’t know to look, you would never find it. About the size of my living room and dining room combined, the cross on top is a bit crooked. Such a small church, such a long history.

The Goodwin Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is a historic church on Woodside Avenue in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The church, built in 1910, is located down a narrow lane in the otherwise residential neighborhood. It is about 25 feet by 50 feet, styled in the Craftsman style popular at the time of its construction. It remains essentially the same since being built.

The church is named for Moses Goodwin, a local resident and parishioner. It was the second building for the African-American congregation that occupies it. The first — built in 1869 on a nearby lot — was demolished in 1917. It continues to be a social and religious center for Amherst’s African-American community.

Zion Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

FAT SQUIRRELS! – Marilyn Armstrong

We don’t have the fastest, leaping squirrels. They don’t do tricks. What they do is hang around and eat. A lot. I took some pictures. You tell me if this squirrel doesn’t have the fattest butt you’ve seen on a wild squirrel!

Impressionist squirrels. So they don’t all look exactly the same.

Looking around. Are there any more feeders? I could use another snack.

A well-rounded bottom

All he needs is a golf club and he’ll look like you-know-who but with MUCH better hair.

LOVING WORDS AND KNOWING HOW TO USE THEM – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #51


If people find typos or grammatical, punctuation, spelling, or usage errors in your posts, do you welcome having them pointed out to you, or do you resent it.

As a blogger do you let people know about such mistakes or do you just let them go?


There was a time when I was the aggravated editor at large. However, in recent months, my typo count has risen so high that there are often more typos, missed words, wrong parts of sentences which belong elsewhere, I do not feel I have any authority to speak on the subject.

I was never a good proofreader, even when I was much younger, but now it’s wildly out of control. If I change keyboards? I go from bad to “What IS that word?” I make typos so bad the spellchecker doesn’t recognize the word at all.

I admit that I go and change really badly typoed words in comments because WordPress doesn’t even give us 10 seconds to go back and change it. I read through typos. Of course, I do. I am the typo queen.

I do NOT have the same attitude towards poor grammar, though. The inability of even adults to recognize the difference between shorthand for Facebook or whatever they are using these days and language. Or, for that matter, the difference between an adjective and an adverb because they don’t know the difference between a verb and a noun. If you listen to sportscasters, you’ll know why. They don’t use adverbs. Ever. It isn’t stylistic. It’s pure ignorance.

It isn’t necessarily their fault. Our educational system is sorely lacking. They don’t teach grammar in public schools. If you don’t pick it up by reading book, how COULD you learn it?

And oh lord, PUNCTUATION. I swear everyone makes it up as they go along. My personal favorite is the    ,,,.    between what might be clauses, but isn’t a clause the guy who drops down the chimney with toys? No? 

People our age often leave out the subject of the sentence because we forgot to type it. But the younger ones? What’s their excuse? A good friend is (actually, now WAS) a college English professor. Every once in awhile, he’d show us what students turn in as essays. They truly do not know the difference between LOLWFOMA, TY, BRB, and what we used to call English. I don’t think we are setting a good example, either.

The other thing is that many young people have never read a book. Personally, I listen to audiobooks rather than reading, but I did read thousands of books before I moved to audio. So if my eyes are tired, they earned it.

One busy wall

Neither parents nor teachers forced them to read. Anyway, what with owning every electronic device ever made, what motivation do they have to read? You have to get them reading when they are young before they get hooked in electronics.

We spend millions on electronic devices that are outdated in six months — and don’t put any effort into convincing kids to read. Owen’s deal (from ME) when he was young was before he got an allowance or his bicycle, he had to turn in a book report — to me — every week. I didn’t care what he read, whether it was easy or difficult, but it had to be a BOOK.

Vineyard art – the second painting is the one from the book I gave to Owen.

Thus he fell in love with Stephen King, a love that still lingers, TinTin, Hardy Boys, and all of Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventures. He also loved anything with great illustrations and can take very excellent pictures when he remembers to have a camera — which is rare and rather frustrating. He has talent, but he works 50 hours a week or more, so I suppose that’s a bit limiting.

“How to Live With a Conniving Cat” was a favorite. When we summered on the Vineyard, we bought one of the original paintings done for that book. It was a piece of luck because the painter died while the exhibit was up. His family came and took all his paintings home. They refused to sell any of them. We have the only one that isn’t family-owned.

That was back “in the day” when we went to galleries and bought stuff! You know. Two salaries? Those WERE the days.

I gave the painting to Owen for his birthday. He really, really wanted it. Turns out, he also likes art. Kids like what they learn to like. If you don’t teach them, they don’t get it. Schools are only a piece of education. The rest comes from their home environment.

And yes, there still ARE libraries and they are still FREE. What’s more, there are art galleries in all kinds of places. You don’t have to buy things to go and look. And, oh yes. Museums!


P.S. I don’t have a problem with typos being pointed out, or for that matter, entirely missing words or pieces of paragraphs, or duplicated words. I have always worked best with an editor! I’d correct them myself if I noticed them.

JUST THE WAY IT GOES — Marilyn Armstrong

I honestly thought when I finished dealing with the medical stuff that I was done with my days of customer care. It never occurred to me that I was going to be doing it again the very next day.

There is definitely an epidemic of pathetic customer service. It really isn’t the fault of the service people. They don’t know what they should know because they have not gotten sufficient training. Not only that, but they aren’t paid particularly well, so they’re mostly working at entry-level wages, they are young, and poorly trained. Is it any wonder that they struggle to answer questions that aren’t “typical” questions?

Tom, the television, and Remy

We got — my son got us — a new Roku for the bedroom. It was working, but it’s also four-years-old and a lot has changed since it was installed. In particular, the remote is much better and does a lot more than the old one. It controls sound, turns the entire system on and off. This remote unit does everything you can expect it to do, including (supposedly) work by voice. I don’t use the voice function because they never understand me and I’ve just given up.

So Owen plugged it in for me because I’ve shrunk. When I installed it last time, I was at least an inch taller. Now I can’t reach it. I used to be more-or-less a normal height for women, but the average height of female persons has gone up. I have not.

Then my spine sort of crunched itself together and over the past 10 years, I’ve lost 3 more inches. In total? Four and a half inches, which is a lot when you were only 64.5 inches at full height. I’m glad my son is tall. He certainly didn’t get it from me.

So I started to set up YouTubeTV, which is our primary source of entertainment. We also have Netflix, Acorn, and Hulu, plus the free versions of History, PBS, and some others that we never watch. I’d really like to get HBOGO and CBS-Pay-to-Play (that’s not what they call it, but it’s what I call it). But HBO is $16 a month and CBS is another six or seven (I’m sure it’ll go up). It all adds up to a pretty big number. The only reason I have HULU (the least expensive channel) because they carry “Orville” which I love so much, I have to have it. Acorn is also not expensive. It was originally $50 a year and this year, I think it’s going up to $60. Which is still inexpensive.

Of course, Charter has raised the price of streaming services, so now we pay more for streaming — without cable or telephone — than we used to pay for cable, telephone, and computers.

Why not? They’ve got a monopoly and we have no choice about where we get our service. Charter is the only ISP in this area and for most central and western Massachusetts. They are awful. If there’s something wrong with the signal, I will wait until I really can’t see anything or make the computer work before I call them.

I signed into YouTubeTV. I followed the same rules I used the last time I set it up. The TV wouldn’t work, though it showed up beautifully on my Mac. Swell.

A wide look …

I turned it off, unplugged it, and tried again. Half a dozen attempts to fix it later, I called for help.

The guy on the other end said he would have to “escalate” the incident since I’d already done everything he could suggest. I said “NO NO NO.” I was done with spending my life waiting for or arguing with Customer Service.

He said they’d get back to me by the end of the day. Since they are in California (Redmund, naturally), I asked what that meant since I live by Eastern Standard time and it was already 2:35 pm. “Are they going to call me on my time? Three in the morning? What time is ‘by the end of the day’?” He couldn’t answer me. I suspect no one had ever asked him what “end-of-day” meant for the east coast. Time change confuses many people.

Oh, and Tier 2 couldn’t call me. It would arrive as an email. Not to worry, though. They work 24 hours a day. Except that I’m not awake 24 hours a day.

I pointed out that I’d have to sit up waiting for the email and meanwhile, I’d have to explain to my husband that there was no television … and he was very likely to be very unhappy while I was already more than a slightly annoyed, so could I please talk to a supervisor?

Suddenly, a few moments later, I got a set of instructions. I followed them. Voila, they worked. Amazing, eh? No Tier 2 escalation. No emailed instruction in the middle of the night. No having to explain to Garry why there were no movies. Garry is very dedicated to late-night old movies he knows I won’t watch.

I said “Thank you,” and hung up. Then I had to sign onto all the other channels, which took another hour, give or take a few minutes. Total time? About 3.5 hours. Maybe a little more.

I can’t even imagine what else I could possibly need to do tomorrow that would land me on another customer service line, but these days, who knows? Once you get on a roll, you keep on rolling until you hit the bottom of the mountain.

IN THE WHITE OF THE WORLD – Garry Armstrong

Marilyn gave me her small Leica as a Christmas gift, but not before her getting a small pocketbook camera for herself. Is it a bit early? Absolutely. She never waits for the holiday.

The Episcopal rectory on the Common.

She knew I wanted it and now, I have it. Thus armed with a camera in my bag, I went to the grocery store because after three days of being locked inside with snow blocking our driveway … and with a couple of hundred feet of downhill driveway (you could use it as the Bunny Slope), you cannot get out of here without a plow first clearing it.

Unitarian Church (empty) on the Common.

Meanwhile, not only were we running short of food (though we have enough dog food, birdseed, soup, and bread to keep us going for a while), we were almost out of half-and-half. What, no coffee? Oh NO!

1888 Library across the Common

Marilyn was also running out of some prescriptions and they do not deliver in this town. They don’t deliver anything. Contain your shock: they don’t even deliver pizza. Our salvation is frozen pizza which, coincidentally fits into our small counter oven.

1770 Quaker Meetinghouse

And, since I had that little Leica packed in my bag, I took pictures. It turns out she was right. If you have a camera, you just never know when a picture might turn up. There are more to come.