THE BATTLE FOR WHITIN’S POND – Marilyn Armstrong

There is an ongoing war between the Canada geese and the swans. It has, it seems, been going on forever and will go on forevermore.

Ducks get along with every other kind of waterfowl. Swans, geese, even herons will swim with ducks. No friction. It doesn’t matter what kind of duck, either. Any color, any shape duck will swim anywhere with any kind of fowl.

Between Canada geese — or maybe any geese — and swans, there’s an ongoing battle. You will see swans on a pond or you will see geese, but unless they are fighting, you won’t see both.

Why not? You’d have to ask the birds because I have no idea.

In the nest
In the reeds
Nesting

Swans have possession of Whitin’s pond. They swim there, eat there, nest there, raise their cygnets on those quiet waters before the small dam where the river continues. Really, Whitin’s pond is not a pond. It’s just a really wide part of the Blackstone and it is very shallow. This makes it particularly good as a nesting site.

This year, the geese decided to invade the swan’s nesting site. They cracked open the swans’ eggs and took over the site.

The battle is waged.
The battle is waged.

The swans fought back and ultimately, managed to drive the geese away. The geese are much more agile than swans, at least out of the water. In the water, though, swans are much bigger and a lot stronger than the geese.

There are usually more geese than swans, so by sheer number, the geese have an advantage, but the swans are very persistent in protecting their locations. And this part of the Blackstone belongs to the swans and has as long as we have lived here.

Attack mode!

As it happened, we showed up on the day of the first big battle of the geese and the swans. We didn’t know until a few weeks later who won the war, but there were the swans and their cygnets, so they are the victors. I have not seen any more geese on that part of the river.

Watching for the invaders.
Watching for the invaders.
Where were you while the battle was going on?
Where were you while the battle was going on?
Forgive? Will they build a new nest?
Forgiven? Will they build a new nest? They did and from it came cygnets, so all was not lost.

It’s hard to understand the battle. There are plenty of places to raise cygnets and goslings. It’s a big river and there are more than adequate ponds and lakes. Maybe there is more food on this part of the river.

Swan and nearly grown cygnets

Whatever the reason, this is where the battles begin and end.

Q & A – AS LONG AS THE COPS AREN’T ASKING – Marilyn Armstrong

I Love Questions Unless the Cops Are Asking Them

The latest is Melanie over at Sparks From a Combustible Mind, who was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Congratulations Melanie.

She then wrote, “Anyone who wishes to answer some or all of the questions here, you’re more than welcome!!” And since I am “anyone,” here are Melanie’s questions and my answers.

Note: I’m ALSO anyone! So there!


1. Which season fits your personality best — spring, summer, fall, or winter — and why?

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Fall, usually. This year hasn’t been great but still, definitely my favorite season.

2. If you were to choose a well-known axiom or slogan for your life, what would it be?

The truth is easier to remember than a lie.

3. If you were a color, which would you be and why?

I get hung up on this. Do you mean a color I would wear? or just BE? What color is my aura?

I have no idea if I have an aura, much less its color. I don’t honestly think I can answer this because I like a lot of colors, depending on what they are being used for. Many colors I love, I won’t wear. For sheer color, I think turquoise. That clear bright blue you find mostly from Arizona mines.

4. What’s a skill you learned when you were young that you still use today?

Touch typing. I think it is the only genuinely useful skill I learned in school!

5. What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given?

“If they ask you to make an instant decision, say NO.” I wish I’d stuck to it more.

6. If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be?

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen Colbert,  and Connie Willis. And if I get a fourth, Jim Butcher.

7. If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

Listening. I’m an audiobook junkie.

8. What was the most embarrassing thing you have ever done while on a date?

While trying to cut up the steak, it slid off the plate and onto my white silk blouse. I never wore white silk for any event where eating was involved. And I never ordered a steak with bones.

9. If you were the eighth dwarf, what would your name be?

Sneezy Too. I sneeze a LOT. I can sneeze an entire evening away.

10. Where is the last place you’d be caught dead? Aside from the cemetery, of course!

Mountain climbing.

DID YOU SEE THE PICTURE? – RICH PASCHALL

A Marriage Equality Story, by Rich Paschall

When Eddie went into the army, Marge and her husband Edgar decided to leave the Midwest and head for Arizona.  As each year had past, Edgar found the winters increasingly difficult and the summers impossible.  When the spring and fall brought allergies on and the summer humidity brought breathing difficulty, the decision was easy.  It was time to go south.

Marge received a transfer to a Mesa, Arizona store and Edgar was sure he would find work if only he could breathe easier.  They took their daughter with them, although she had reached 21 years of age.  She did not know what she wanted to do in life and a change of location seemed like a good idea.

Eddie had worked for two years after high school and then decided the army would be his best start in life.  After the army, he would use his benefits to go to college and make his life better.  While in the army, he lost weight, matured and became a handsome young man who made his parents proud.

Even though Marge was a rather conservative type, she learned to use social media and followed along on Facebook and twitter hoping to see more of Eddie.  He was on Facebook, but actually used it very little.  When he posted some pictures from a Middle East cook out with his fellow soldiers, his proud mother shared the pictures all over the internet.  Eddie did not post much after that.

Marge spent some time each day, and much time on her day off, posting on Facebook and reading internet articles.  She would “like” things she thought were good and sometimes comment on postings and news stories.  Although she did not consider herself very political, she did seem to agree more with Republican postings than anything else.  Her friends started avoiding posting political items to her page.  It was better that way.

Whenever Eddie was on leave from the service, he visited friends in Chicago and then went on to Phoenix to see his parents.  When Marge would ask Eddie what he did in Chicago and who he saw, she got vague answers.  Eddie said little about his personal life.  He told next to nothing about friends or the service.  His mother thought it was just a phase that young men go through.  She figured he would tell her a lot more when he got out of the army.

When he was nearing the end of his time in the service, Marge asked Eddie if he would join them Phoenix or return to the Midwest.  He told her he would move to Chicago.

“Chicago!” she exclaimed.  “Why do you want to move there?  It is not safe there.  It is expensive to live and the job market is not the best.  You can get a job here.  I can help you.”

“I want to go to school there,” Eddie explained.  “I have friends there.  I will get a job, don’t worry.”  He spent months assuring his mother he would be fine until the day came when he got his discharge and went home to Chicago. Eddie saw his mother’s Facebook postings on a regular basis and that only convinced him to keep his personal life to himself.

He got an apartment, a job and made friends.  He enrolled in a city college with his army benefits and was happy with his life.  He assured his mother that all was well. After following along on Facebook, Marge decided she did not like the direction the country was headed.  She did not like the liberal policies and she would definitely vote a more conservative ticket.  It was easy to find friends online who agreed.

One day, an old friend from the Midwest called Marge.  She was excited about the latest news and could not wait to talk to her old friend about it.

“Hello Marge, you must be so excited.  I must tell you I was so surprised.  Did you see the picture they just posted?”

“Picture?” Marge asked.  “What picture? What are you talking about?”

Her old friend just laughed.  “Why, the wedding picture of course!  Did you know they were going to city hall?  Did you know which day it would be?”

“Who are you talking about?” Marge demanded.  A long silence followed while Marge’s friend wondered if the whole matter was actually a secret.  It seems that Eddie was tagged in pictures by others, but he had posted nothing himself.  The friend thought carefully about what to say next.

“Oh, it is something I saw on Facebook.  Perhaps you should go look at a few pictures that Eddie is tagged in and we can talk later.  OK?”  After some vague promise to call back soon, the old friend hung up and Marge raced to her computer.

The PC started slowly and Facebook seem to take extra long to load up.  It was no different than usual, but this time the wait was maddening.  Finally Marge got online and found the pictures that her old friend referred to.  There was Eddie at City Hall getting married.

Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto
Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto

The fact that Eddie married without telling her in advance was upsetting.  The fact that she did not know the other person at all was also upsetting.  But the most surprising part of all was that the groom took another groom.  Her handsome, white, middle class son had married a handsome Hispanic man of about the same age.  In one picture, they were looking deep into one another’s eyes as if they were truly in love.

Marge was stunned.  She had no idea that Eddie was gay or loved the young man she had seen in the photos.

After she stared at the pictures for a while, she started reading back through her Facebook posts and “likes” to see if she had said anything negative about Hispanics or gays.

Related story: Seeing Things Differently

DID YOU SEE THE PICTURE?

A Marriage Equality Story, by Rich Paschall

When Eddie went into the army, Marge and her husband Edgar decide to leave the Midwest and head for Arizona.  As each year went past, Edgar found the winters difficult and the summers impossible.  When the spring and fall brought allergies on and the summer humidity brought increased breathing difficulty, the decision was easy.  It was time to go south.

Marge received a transfer to a Mesa, Arizona store and Edgar was sure he would find work if only he could breathe easier.  They took their daughter with them although she had reached 21 years of age.  She did not know what she wanted to do in life and a change seemed like a good idea.

Eddie had worked for two years after high school and then decided the army would be his best start in life.  After the army, he would use his benefits to go to college and make his life better.  While in the army, he lost weight, matured and became a handsome young man who made his parents proud.

Even though Marge was a rather conservative type, she learned to use social media and followed along on facebook and twitter hoping to see more of Eddie.  He was on facebook, but actually used it very little.  When he posted some pictures from a Middle East cook out with his fellow soldiers, his proud mother shared the pictures all over the internet.  Eddie did not post much after that.

Marge spent some time each day, and a lot of time on her day off, posting on facebook and reading internet articles.  She would “like” things she thought were good and sometimes comment on postings and news stories.  Although she did not consider herself very political, she did seem to agree more with Republican postings than anything else.  Her friends started avoiding posting political items to her page.  It was better that way.

Whenever Eddie was on leave from the service, he visited friends in Chicago and then went on to Phoenix to see his parents.  When Marge would ask Eddie what he did in Chicago and who he saw, she got vague answers.  Eddie said little about his personal life.  He told next to nothing about friends or the service.  His mother thought it was just a phase that young men go through.  She figured he would tell her a lot more when he got out of the army.

When he was nearing the end of his time in the service, Marge asked Eddie if he would join them Phoenix or return to the Midwest.  He told her he would move to Chicago.

“Chicago!” she exclaimed.  “Why do you want to move there?  It is not safe there.  It is expensive to live and the job market is not the best.  You can get a job here.  I can help you.”

“I want to go to school there,” Eddie explained.  “I have friends there.  I will get a job, don’t worry.”  He spent months assuring his mother he would be fine until the day came when he got his discharge and went to Chicago.

Eddie saw his mother’s facebook postings on a regular basis and that only convinced him to keep his personal life to himself.  He got an apartment, a job and made friends.  He enrolled in a city college with his army benefits and was happy with his life.  He assured his mother that all was well.

After following along on facebook, Marge decided she did not like the direction the country was headed.  She did not like the liberal policies and she would definitely vote a more conservative ticket next time.  It was easy to find friends online who agreed.

One day, an old friend from the Midwest called Marge.  She was excited about the latest news and could not wait to talk to her old friend about it.

“Hello Marge, you must be so excited.  I must tell you I was so surprised.  Did you see the picture they just posted?”

“Picture?” Marge asked.  “What picture? What are you talking about?”

Her old friend just laughed.  “Why, the wedding picture of course!  Did you know they were going to city hall?  Did you know which day it would be?”

“Who are you talking about?” Marge demanded.  A long silence followed while Marge’s friend wondered if the whole matter was actually a secret.  It seems that Eddie was tagged in pictures by others, but he had posted nothing himself.  The friend thought carefully about what to say next.

“Oh, it is something I saw on facebook.  Perhaps you should go look at a few pictures that Eddie is tagged in and we can talk later.  OK?”  After some vague promise to call back soon, the old friend hung up and Marge raced to her computer.

The PC started slowly and facebook seem to take extra long to load up.  It was no different than usual, but this time the wait was maddening.  Finally Marge got online and found the pictures that her old friend referred to.  There was Eddie at City Hall getting married.

Photo by  Giovanni Dall'Orto
Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto

The fact that Eddie married without telling her in advance was upsetting.  The fact that she did not know the other person at all was also upsetting.  But the most surprising part of all was that the groom took another groom.  Her handsome, white, middle class son had married a handsome Hispanic man of about the same age.  In one picture, they were looking deep into one another’s eyes as if they were truly in love.

Marge was stunned.  She had no idea that Eddie was gay or loved the young man she had seen in the photos.  After she stared at the pictures for a while, she started reading back through her facebook posts and “likes” to see if she had said anything negative about Hispanics or gays.

THE GOLDEN HOUR COMES AGAIN

96-MorningHPCR-1

Such a popular prompt. This is the third time in less than a year I find myself responding to it. It’s a no-brainer, fortunately, lending itself easily to words and pictures.

I don’t know when it first showed up, but this one is from October 2013. Since WordPress had reblogged it anyway, I figured I’d update it and put it up properly.


 

I love the dawn, or, at least how it appears. There’s the sun rising, all yellow and pink. The line from the Odyssey (Homer) springs to mind:

“After we were clear of the river Oceanus, and had got out into the open sea, we went on till we reached the Aeaean island where there is dawn and sunrise as in other places. We then drew our ship on to the sands and got out of her on to the shore, where we went to sleep and waited till day should break.Then, when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared…”

The reference to “rosy-fingered dawn” appears in the Odyssey several times and it has stuck in my head, so much so that whenever I see a pink streaked dawn sky, I think of it.

75-rosydawn-nik-cr.jpg

It is indeed hard to get oneself up and out when bedtime was just a couple of hours before. I’m not a night owl. I’m a day-and-night owl, someone who wakes up early but has a lot of trouble sleeping at night so I see the sunrise more often than I’d like. There are days when those birds singing are the final straw. All night tossing and turning and waking and trying to relax, relax, breathe and go back to sleep … and then the birds start their early chorus.

Sometimes the dogs chime in and everything is singing I have to laugh. No matter how tired I am, the singing dog pack and the birdsong out on the porch is like a great movie gone entirely wrong. What can I do but smile and brew some coffee?

On those rare occasions when I drag my weary carcass up and out, camera in hand, I’m glad because the world is a-borning and I am there to make it mine.

DawnWalker