THE ZOO ON THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong

They announced on the news that another 2 or 3-degree rise in temperature will cost us about 3 million birds over the next year, especially sea birds like seagulls as well as eagles and hawks.

Growing chipmunk

I don’t want to think about it. I knew from the number of birds I’m NOT seeing this year that the weather is already killing them. They are here, but in greatly reduced numbers and many birds are missing.

Chipping Sparrow
Downy or Hairy? Could be either!

We have quite a little zoo going on out there. We have the usual birds. We have a couple of nervous squirrels (they will calm down and refuse to budge) and now, every day our little (but growing fast) chipmunk.

Carolina Wren
Titmouse in the Autumn leaves

Mostly, I’m seeing Rose and White-breasted Nuthatches and several kinds of woodpeckers. Also a few wrens, titmice, and Goldfinch. None of the little red finches have come back. No doves. I saw one Blue Jay. No Robins.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

We have lost 30 million birds over the past decade and stand to lose another 30 million during the next five if we don’t get the temperature down.

I feed them, but it’s not nearly enough. Please, if you have any room, put up feeders. The birds are not doing well and backyard feeders make a huge difference in the birds’ ability to survive, especially in colder climates!

MOVIE NIGHT STARRING GARRY “THE LEGEND” ARMSTRONG – Marilyn Armstrong

Personally, I thought Garry should write this himself. It was his show. He was the star with the cool Hollywood stories. But he doesn’t like to write about his “events” (I don’t know why not because he does it often enough). But this time, he wanted me to write it so here I am. Writing.

Let us begin with Garry’s great story about how Katherine Hepburn invited him over to her place for tea (and it really WAS tea — and cookies) at her big house in Hartford, Connecticut. What makes it particularly special is that it wasn’t a “work gig.” It was a personal, private invitation. Wow.

Old-fashioned popcorn maker! Sadly, I can’t eat popcorn. But they also had pizza!

Garry was doing his first work as “talent” at Channel 18, an underfunded early cable station. First TV jobs are like that. You take what you can get and hope someone thinks you are special enough to move to a bigger station and suddenly, stardust falls and you gleam — for thirty or forty years. Then you get old and they ditch you for someone that looks like a cookie-cutter reporter from who knows where, but they all look and sound the same.

He was coming from ABC network where he had done enough glittering to know he didn’t want to be a producer. He wanted to be talent.  On the air. When he got the call from Hartford which, in the 1960s, wasn’t exactly a glamorous venue, he took it. He’d be in front of the camera.

As it turned out he was in front of it, behind it, writing for it, starring in it, working news … and best of all, he did a movie show. It wasn’t as if Channel 18 (an RKO station) could afford “real” stars, so Garry had cardboard cutouts of famous Hollywood characters. They sat (quietly) around his set (they were, after all, cardboard) and he talked to them. Some people thought they talked back, but there’s no accounting for taste.

The Legend! himself

This was back in the days of film that had to be “souped” before rolling it on camera and Garry, not much of a technical star, was lucky if he remembered to load film before shooting, take off the lens cap … and you know, focus. I have, I admit, had many similar unfortunately experiences with lens caps — even to this very day when suddenly, I look through my lens. It’s dark and I scream “OH NO! MY CAMERA IS BROKEN! WHAT DO I DO NOW?” … after which I realize I forgot to remove the lens cap.

I digress. This story involved a phone call that Garry thought had to be the other guys at the station yanking his chain when the guy on the speaker announced: “Garry, there’s a call for you from Katherine Hepburn.”

My movie companion

“Yeah, sure,” he said. But Garry took the call. It was Katherine Hepburn. Who liked watching local television stations. She liked Garry. She thought he had some talent and might go places in The Business. She invited him for afternoon tea at her local mansion (always a New Englander, birth till death). With voice squeaking and knees trembling, Garry agreed.

He straightened his tie, patted down his then luxuriant hair, and went to tea. With Katherine Hepburn who did most of the talking. This was just as well. Garry was a bit tongue-tied that day.

Jim LaClaire, our faithful cameraman

The long and short of it was she told him he had one sterling feature that could take him far. Garry is a very good listener. Not to me (I’m his wife, after all), but to other people. He doesn’t work from a prepared script. He listens and responds to what they say or imply.

She also had a few recommendations on improving his wardrobe. As he had always thought he was a rather sharp dresser, after that, he got much sharper. I believe “clothes horse” would be a good description.

Watching

So, this was one of the longer stories Garry told. Once Garry gets rolling on his favorite movie stories, he can be hard to slow down. It took me and several other strong women to get him to “Say Good Night, Gracie.” Folks needed lifts home and it was more than an hour past closing time.

Showtime!

Everyone enjoyed Rustler’s Rhapsody and if you can find it on Amazon (it comes and goes, but it’s usually just a few dollars for the DVD). I keep a small collection of them and give them to friends.

I’m not sure “Rustler’s Rhapsody” ever made it to the big movie theaters. I think it may have gone straight to DVD.

Getting the conversation going. Turned out to be no problem at all.

To fully enjoy it (and this was the right crowd for that!), you need to have had some relationship with the “B” westerns that came with the main feature at local movie houses. Garry and I did not live very far apart and went to the same movies and shops and libraries but of course, not the same schools. Until college when all bets were off.

There was a lot of laughter. I had to tell everyone that that incredibly handsome guy playing the good but really bad guy was actually Patrick Wayne who wasn’t a great actor, but he was incredibly, strikingly, awesomely handsome. If he had been a better actor — or maybe cared more about acting — he could have knocked the audience dead. And he was a really big guy. Not fat … but very tall, broad in the shoulders, and yes, he is still alive.

Patrick John Morrison (born July 15, 1939), was better known by his stage name Patrick Wayne. American actor, the second son of movie star John Wayne and his first wife, Josephine Alicia Saenz. He made over 40 films, including eleven with his father.

There was a lot of chatter after the movie, too and it was fun. Even though I’ve heard all of these stories before, I love them anyway and every once in a while, I show up as a companion to the Legend.

The audience!

We all promised to do more of this stuff. I had fun too, though by the end of the night, my back was trying to go back to the car without me. It has been a trying couple of months. I’m definitely better than I was, but this stuff takes its own sweet time to retreat.

Meanwhile, Garry did the entire performance with an abscessed tooth. THAT is impressive.

Fron Channel 18, the RKO station in Hartford, Garry got invited to Boston’s Channel 7 — also an RKO station. And the rest, as we like to say, is history.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I became a news junky around the time that Donald Trump began his campaign for President in 2015 because I felt he was an existential threat to our government and to our society. I didn’t know the half of it! My most catastrophic fantasies of a Trump-led America didn’t hold a candle to the reality we have been living in since his election.

Along with a big chunk of the population, I hung on every word that came out of the Mueller investigation. Mueller was going to be the savior of the Democrats, and other sane, moral people in the country and I shared the deflation and depression of this group when the Mueller Report failed to be the downfall of Trump, as we had hoped.

Trump’s poll numbers went down, but not by much and the slavish devotion of over 80% of Republicans remained intact. After two years of toxic revelations about Trump and his corrupt cronies, in addition to multiple indictments of those in his orbit, nothing seemed to change.

Miraculously, in September 2019, the smoking gun we had dreamed about from Mueller, materialized, out of the blue, thanks to a whistleblower. Trump had asked the President of Ukraine to dig up (or makeup) dirt on Trump’s potential Democratic rival, Joe Biden. The call was documented by transcripts released by the administration. Then Trump admitted it and added to it on national television. What more could you need? But the Republicans harped on the absence of a quid pro quo as the fatal flaw in the argument for impeachment.

In fact, the law is quite clear that no quid pro quo is necessary to violate the law. The mere ‘solicitation’ of ‘something of value’ by a President from a foreign government is enough. On top of that, grounds for impeachment don’t even need to include the commission of an actual crime. The interpretation of the phrase ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ has been clarified over the years to mean whatever the Congress decides it means. And abuse of power, as well as obstruction of justice (evident in the Ukrainian scandal) have been used before by Congresses against sitting presidents.

Never mind, as further evidence against Trump came to light, the quid pro quo appeared, clear as day. So we have the evidence necessary for impeachment, by even the most stringent standards.

Now let’s skip ahead to the end of the impeachment process. What are we wishing for? Realistically, the Democrats in the House will probably vote for impeachment. Victory for the good guys! Or is it? What happens then?

Let’s say the House votes to impeach before the end of 2019. It’s remotely possible but highly unlikely that the Republican Senate, led by Trump loyalist Mitch McConnell, will convict and remove Trump from office. So where are we after Trump has been ‘acquitted’ by the Senate?

Mitch McConnell

We have an unhinged, demented and vindictive President who feels he’s been ‘exonerated’ of all wrong doing. He is emboldened because he has survived the worst his enemies can dish out. And he has close to another year in office before the next election! What will he do in that ten-month period without impeachment hanging over his head? I hate to even think about it.

Moving on, let’s say we get our 2020 wish granted and Trump loses the election in 2020. Will he contest the election? And what happens if he does? In the best-case scenario, any election contest will be defeated. Trump is now a lame-duck president who is still in office until January 20, 2021, over two more months.

What will he do during THIS period of impotence and defeat? Who or what will he strike out against?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t go ahead with impeachment or fight as hard as possible to vote Trump out of office in 2020. I’m just suggesting that we honestly try to wrap our heads around what the real-world consequences will be if we get what we wish for.

TAKING THE REST OF THE WEEK OFF – BACK ON THE WEEKEND – Marilyn Armstrong

This is the kind of busy week we all bump into. Usually, I try to set up schedules with posts in advance, but I’m tired. I’ve been pushing to try to get everything that needs doing done before the snow flies. I finally realized I can’t do it. It’s not because I’m unwilling or uninterested.

I’m tired and I can’t keep pushing this hard. Cooking, cleaning, writing, photographing, processing, editing … and maybe even sleeping (!) — I need time. I need a few days to get stuff done. I can’t sit at the computer all day and still manage the rest of the week. So, until Saturday, I’m dealing with the rest of my life. Or trying to.

Tomorrow is Garry’s dental work. The first of two days, actually.

There’s something for every taste

Thursday I have nearly a whole day while they figure out what to do with my Pacemaker. It will need its battery replaced soon. Whether to switch to a new (non-metal) Pacemaker or keep the current one is up in the air. New or old, they are internally identical (no major progress on Pacemakers, in case you were wondering). Plastic or metal, they are no different, so it’s a matter of “convenience.” Mostly mine. On the upside, there are a lot of tests they can’t run if I have a metal one and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I can’t get an MRI with a metal pacemaker and there are many airport issues. Except I’m not flying anywhere. There’s some question of whether or not Medicare would pay for a replacement anyway since there’s nothing wrong with the one I have. Personally, I’d like a thinner one where I can’t feel the wires — and not have to panic in the presence of magnets. Sometimes, when I walk past my refrigerator that has all those magnets on it, I wonder if I’m going to accidentally turn my heart off.

Friday, Owen’s moving in. Right now, he’s moving out all the trash in the basement. For the FIRST TIME EVER, all the junk will be GONE.

Oh, joy! I do need to check for a few long-missing items. I have a feeling they are in big cartons at the back of the basement behind all the rest of the more recently added junk. All my old writings and my copy for the ceremony of “Fall of Sauron” day are in the very back — assuming they are still readable.

I may want to dump most of it, but there are probably a few things worth keeping. Or they will so embarrass me I will race to the dumpster with them.

So I’m just going to take the rest of the week off. See if I can clear out the mountain of email. Get some sleep. Buy groceries as we’re running a bit thin in the freezer.

I think my contractor will be starting work next week and I think (I hope!) my granddaughter has found a guy to paint the doors. Meanwhile, I’d like to enter winter without holes in the exterior walls of the house.

A VISITOR TO THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong

We used to have dozens of chipmunks all over our woods. Cheeky little things. If we were “in their way (!),” they would come out onto the driveway and chatter at us.

I know a lot of people don’t like them, but they are funny and for something so small, have a lot of attitude.

One day, a bobcat — a pregnant bobcat — moved into our neighbor’s woodshed and had a little of four cubs. Bobcats don’t live collectively, so all but one of the cubs … and mom too … moved to other parts of the woods. In any case, considering how hungry these little cats seem to be, they need room to find food.

They ate every rabbit, chipmunk, squirrel … basically anything furry and cute. The next generation was born in my tepee. I remember the day I opened the door to my tepee and out leaped a bobcat. New England’s bobcats are about the size of a large housecat, but you’d know immediately it was no house lounger. With the rump set much higher than their front legs — the better to do some incredible leaping — and that funny pointed little tail, not to mention their glowing eyes that shine like torches … that ain’t no pussycat, no sirree.

The bobcat leaped from the tepee. I squawked and moved out of the way. I explained to the cat “Mi casa, su casa,” and I don’t think I ever went into the tepee again.

By the time that second litter was grown and on their own, they used to sit in front of the dog’s fence just to make the dogs bark in a frenzy. I would go out and yell at them to leave the dogs alone. They totally ignored me and would saunter slowly off into the woods.

So this is the first chipmunk I’ve seen since then. I haven’t seen a rabbit yet, but I figure if a chipmunk has found his way home, eventually the rabbits will come back, too.

SHARE MY WORLD AND SAVE ME FROM DROWNING IN ALIEN ELECTRONS – Marilyn Armstrong

I am drowning in email. Between the politics, news, advertising, blog notifications, comments and an occasional note from someone I actually know — like in person? I’ve been getting THOUSANDS of emails. I’m just about ready to unplug the computer. Nah, I don’t mean that. But I need to make this Tsunami to away.

Compared to the actualities and realities and problems around this world, I know this is nothing. But it’s driving me nuts. I don’t read anything anymore. I read headlines because I know the same news story will show up in my pile of emails within a mere minute or two of deleting it.

Every day, I delete for hours, sometimes stopping t make a short comment. i don’t have time for more because while I write, the emails are piling up.

Traffic is slow right now anyway, so maybe this is a good time to take a few days off, see if I can unsubscribe to enough material to make it possible to find the message for which I’m looking?  It’s going to rain all week anyhow, which will finish off the autumn leaves before we actually get to see them. Then there are three doctor and dentist appointments — and the bug guy who is coming to do his autumn mouse trapping, termite spraying — and did I mention my son is moving home? That’s the good part.

I’m drowning in electronic messages, but HOW CAN I DROWN IN SOMETHING THAT HAS NO PHYSICAL FORM? Don’t I need water or mud or sand or some physical thing for drowning?

Notes:

      • I’m feeling a LOT better. Fibromyalgia has finally moved on.
      • Garry will be better as soon as his tooth is fixed — the day after tomorrow.
      • The dogs are fine.

Since the middle of my week tends to be pretty unexciting, maybe this is a good time to take a couple of days off? By the weekend, I’ll be itching to write and I’ll have taken a few new pictures.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do about this massive wave of electronic junk mail. Garry is having the same problem, so I don’t think it’s personal.

And now …

Share Your World 10-7-19

These are the colors that our leaves are supposed to be. Bah! Humbug! It’s good there are birds to photograph or the world would indeed be terribly drab.

The Questions!


Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) a good thing, a bad thing or a mixture of both?

I don’t “do” social media except to publicize this site. Did I mention I’m buried in email? I think a new wave of social media would probably finish me off.

Are you camera shy or do you pose for the camera with confidence?

I look best when I’m pretending there IS no camera pointing at me. Even if I know Garry is taking my picture. He always seems to be taking my picture, probably because we have very brief short-term memories, so it’s possible if he doesn’t have pictures, he might not recognize me.

Is there anything you’ve kept from younger years for sentimental reasons alone?

Yes. Some of my dolls and a great love of “Oklahoma!”

Do you like to decorate for different holidays?

ahb  ahb1

No. Those days have gone! I do appreciate the efforts other people make, though. I really love a beautifully decorated yard, especially for Halloween.

Do you feel you’re a strong person character-wise?   Also, if you do have a gratitude thought or picture you’d like to share, please feel free!  The world can always use more positive vibes!

I have no idea of whether I’m a strong person or just a desperate survivor. Either way, I’ve made it this far, so I’ll probably claw my way through another year or two. Or not. Anyone can be hit by a bus. Oh, wait. We don’t have any buses. How about a small truck?

BIRDS ON THE WIRE – DAY 8 – Marilyn Armstrong

BIRDS ON THE WIRES- DAY 8

Like a bird on a wire … well, in this case, a plank or a feeder. Close enough. Today the American Goldfinch began to return. They are as cute as ever they were and the brilliant yellow I love to remember.

Welcome home little yellow one!
There will always be special seeds for you!