ONLINE SHOPPING REVOLUTION OR CONSUMER REBELLION? – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve been thinking about shopping.

Does anyone remember in those last ten years before online shopping came into full flower? That was when you’d go into a nice shop and discover there was no one there. No one to help you find the right size or style … or even the correct department. More than half the cash registers were closed and the people who worked the counters were actually working multiple counters so wherever you were waiting, they weren’t there.

I remember not buying a watch in Kohl’s because there wasn’t anyone at the jewelry counter and the cash register was closed. I looked everywhere and I didn’t see a single store worker.

There was absolutely not a soul willing to help me find the right size or choose a different color or size, or even say, “That looks nice.” Or do anything that might encourage me to buy something.

Shopping went from being fun to being work.

By the time online shopping was readily available, most of the brick-and-mortar stores had cut down their staff by more than half. Returning something meant standing in long lines for the one individual who handled all returns and you’d better have saved that receipt!

They did themselves in. They treated their customers like WordPress treats us … and the results were exactly what you’d expect.

When the day there arrived offering us a real choice, shoppers were ready. Instead of fighting for a parking space and wandering around a mall trying first to find the right store, then searching the shop and discovering there was no one on the floor to talk to. Hoping to get some assistance in finding an outfit and realizing there wasn’t any.

All of which was followed by another ordeal, searching for an open register.

Suddenly, you could order clothing and return what didn’t fit or what you didn’t like. In the meantime, just to make what was already difficult just a bit harder, many city malls began charging customers for parking.

Free gift wrapping was not free. You couldn’t even get plain boxes to wrap without paying for them. The quality of the clothing went down while the prices went up. There were no more departments where you could get clothing altered, either.

It wasn’t just the Internet that ruined “real store” shopping. It was the attitude of the store’s owners and managers. They decided they “owned” their customers and we’d show up anyway, no matter how bad the service. It must have been a rude shock when they realized not only did we have a choice, but we weren’t coming back.

So they can blame their demise on Amazon and the Internet, but they can also look in the mirror and realize when you treat your customers badly, eventually, when times change, they won’t be your customers.

It’s a lesson that cable companies are learning, cell companies are just beginning to learn … and it won’t end there. I fought with my cable company for years to get them to give me a package I could afford … and when I finally gave up and cut the cable, suddenly they filled up my email with all kinds of tempting packages — for ONE year only.

After which they would do what they always did: jack up the prices by 100% and we’d go through the same thing again. There are only so many times you can anger and disappoint customers without expecting them to hit back in the only way that matters: financially.

You never own your customers. They own you. Eventually, they will let you know how they feel about you. Count on it.

COMFORTABLE – BI-WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Bi-Weekly Photo Challenge – Comfort

Our house, while crumbling around the edges, is very comfortable. Years ago, we gave up fashion and went for soft furniture on which we can keep our (swelling) ankles up. The dogs like it too.

Comfort on the deck

It is not fashionable. It wasn’t fashionable 20 years ago and we are not fashionable either, so it works. The dogs don’t know about fashion. As long as they can find a soft spot on which to sleep, life is good.

Comfortable dogs
It’s a rough life, but someone’s got to live it.
Bonnie and living room
Too many cushions
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Cold toes, but warm quilts!

RIVER FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Wildflowers by the Rivers-FOTD – 06/10/19

After Owen chopped down the meadow behind our house, we decided to go out and take a few hundred pictures. I really don’t think we can take any fewer.

It was a lovely day. Warm, but not too warm, with just enough breeze to smell the freshly cut grass … or whatever it is we grow back there. I’m pretty sure there’s some grass involved, but there are a lot of other things in there too. Flowers and weeds and crabgrass and dandelions at the least and who knows what else. Probably some random flowers blown there from our garden — or someone else’s.

Buttercups
Yellow flowers in the river
River reeds
A field of buttercups

We saw a pair of Mallards on the river, too, though we didn’t get much of a shot. We both tried, but we didn’t have time to more than aim the camera and hope for the best.

The Mumford Dam – 1910

No children playing in the water today, but a father and his young son — he couldn’t have been more than five — were fishing and a couple about our age were kayaking. And there were people there to just hang out and watch the water run by — and of course, us. Cameras at the ready.

And more buttercups

I’ve never seen so many buttercups. There were also tall yellow flowers growing in the river in Uxbridge, reeds by the river … and I had to include one picture of the dam just because it was so lovely.

YOU CAN’T KILL HOSTA – Marilyn Armstrong

 Hosta, The Unkillable – FOTD – 06/09/19

Last year, it almost died. I don’t know what did it. The winter? The long, cold, icy spring? Some combination of that? But it barely grew at all.

I was shocked. As far as I know, you cannot kill Hosta. It is permanent. Endurable. Grows in sun, grows in shade, grows anywhere you put it. Gets so big, you have to separate it to give it room to breathe.

So this year, when it magically reappeared — big leaves in all its many shapes and colors — I was relieved. Maybe last year it was dividing itself from being too crowded in its bed.

Hosta
Another leaf Hosta
Hosta with Mayflowers
With Mayflowers and a weed of unknown origin
Hosta and a few Mayflowers

R&R WITH OLD FRIENDS – Garry Armstrong

It was our time for a bit of R & R in the lush Connecticut woods, far from the madding crowd. It’s another world where we can recharge our life force and mental batteries.

Home

Our hosts are the kindly friends for whom we are grateful. We’ve known Tom for more than 50 years dating back to our days in college when we and our world was young. We’ve known Ellin – it seems forever – or since she married Tommy and immediately improved the quality of life for all of us.

Our mini-vacation included time at the marina where everyone seems utterly relaxed — except when they are rehabbing their boats for another summer on the water. The much-maligned weather put on a good face for us.

Ellin
Tom

Sunshine and summer-like temperatures were abundant. It was warm but not uncomfortable. The breeze from the water made it almost perfect as we relaxed for an afternoon of doing absolutely nothing.

Marilyn and the camera
Garry at pier’s end

Tom apologized for not taking the boat out because the water was a bit too choppy for his taste. No worries, we repeatedly told him as we soaked up the afternoon sun, chatting about stuff that brought giggles and contentment. Really. NO worries!

I enjoyed looking at the names of the boats in the marina and wondering about the folks who owned them. I’ve never wanted to own a boat but have fantasies, thanks to Bogie in “Key Largo” and other movies which romanticize the boating life.

Ellin socializing on the pier

I’ve always thought I’d name my boat “The Busted Flush” after fictional detective Travis McGee who chased bad guys in his trusty little houseboat which also provided room for romantic interludes with his miscellaneous yet somehow dubious love interests. Hey, just a passing fancy.

Tom has schooled me in the difficulties of keeping “Serenity” in running condition. I’m good being a guest.

There’s so much to see just relaxing with Tommy and Ellin in the Marina. The setting is soothing. You can drift off mentally without a worry. No obsessing about what’s happening in our politically-challenged world. That stuff is blocked out for a few precious hours. I could actually feel my heartbeat slowing. Just what the doctor ordered.

Tom and Ellin on the boat

Back at “La Casa Bonita” of Tom and Ellin, it’s more of the easy life — at least for us, the guests. The conversation ramps up during the evening “News Hour.” Imagine sitting between two guys who’ve logged 80 years in network and top market TV News.  The old, war stories fill the air spiced with profanities that befit we who ducked idiot management suits from the “Tricky Dick Era” to today’s “Follies of Donzo.”

We can name drop with the best of them. Hell,  Tom and I have probably sent myriad suits seeking psychiatric care because we refused to tolerate their idiocy.

Tom is the master of his impressive entertainment room. He’s introduced Marilyn and me to shows and movies we never knew existed.

Tom, the telly, and Remy
One thing that impressed me — I looked and looked around the walls and notices no awards reflecting Tommy’s long and accomplished career at the highest level of TV News. I know he’s been in the cross-hairs of some of the biggest news stories over half a century. No collection of hardware — unlike me.  Tom doesn’t need any stinkin’ bodges.
Lexi

Marilyn and I were very reluctant to leave Tommy and Ellin and the comfy good feeling they bestowed on us, but our dogs were calling us homeward.

We have an invite to return with Tommy taking us for a trip aboard “Serenity” when the seas are smoother. I’m already dreaming about it.

DREAMING IN BLUE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Flower of Any Kind
Spiderwort – FOTD – June 8, 2019

This challenge came up exactly when I needed it. For reasons best known to my cameras — ALL my cameras — I cannot get pictures of my spiderwort in their actual color of dark blue. They always come out some shade of pink. It must have something to do with the light and that in the leaf, there is a lot of pink and that’s what the camera picks up.

Since this is a monochrome challenge, I could finally make my Spiderwort their real color: blue. If I could figure out what filter would alter the pink back to it’s “real” color of blue, I’d have done it by now. I have spent hours trying to make those pink flowers the color my eyes see them. Lacking that, here are my monochrome cerulean Spiderwort!

Dreaming in blue –and that is very close to the flower’s actual color — except the leaves would be green.
All dynamic cerulean blue!
This monochromatic coloration is called “bluesy” …
Solid, hardcore cerulean spiderworts

Cee's Black-White

A FEW PICTURES FROM HOUSE AND SHORE – Garry Armstrong

I took most of the pictures. Marilyn was off-duty this time. There are a lot more, but this is a little taste of our weekend with Tom and Ellen.

We didn’t go out because the sea was a bit high, but we had a fine time just hanging out in the marina.

Cleaning the boat
Still cleaning the boat
On the dock – Ellin’s in blue
Along the dock — Can you spot Tom?
A little cloud over the Curley’s house