AND NOW, WITH TWO HANDS – Marilyn Armstrong

Ragtime Daily Prompt #66 – ABIDE (WITH ME)


“And now,” said Mrs. Nelson, “You can try it with both hands.”

This was huge. Before now, I could only play one note at a time, one hand at a time. I was four and a half. Almost five, I would point out.

Today, I was going to play “Abide With Me” with two hand using chords (okay, only two notes in each, but still chords). A power performance!

I was definitely going to be a great pianist. I couldn’t reach the pedals yet. I was much too small, but eventually, I’d get there.

Thus I advanced my musical career which, in the end, didn’t amount to much. I enjoyed it, though. I tried majoring in it in college, but piano wasn’t the right instrument for me. I needed something more compact, with fewer long reaches. I was tiny with very small hands (but big feet, go figure). Making those long reaches in complicated pieces was impossible for me.

By the time we were moving past the easier Nocturnes and into the longer Beethoven sonatas, it was obvious to me it wasn’t lack of practice. I practiced a lot. Every day, for hours.

I was simply ill-equipped to get it done on a piano.

Piano became a hobby and writing became my profession and I’m not at all sorry it worked out that way. I can’t even imagine myself performing with an orchestra or alone on the big stage.

I’ve also got an insane degree of stage-fright where music is concerned, though I can speak in public. There’s no accounting for irrational fear, is there?

WHAT A NOVEL IDEA! – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #64: NOVEL


“What a novel idea,” she said to her friend.

“Novel … as in … maybe I should write one?”

“Well, if you want to. No, all I meant to say was that the idea was different. Unique. A novel isn’t always a book. It can also mean new or original.”

Jill nodded. “You know, I did write a novel. Well, it was sort of a novel. Really, it was pretty much true, but to make it work as a book, I played around with timelines and combined multiple people into one person. Didn’t I give you a copy?”

“I don’t think so,” Jane replied, “but if you have one to spare, I’d be delighted to read it.”

“Maybe not so delighted,” Jill commented. “It’s not a light-hearted book and some people just can’t handle it.” She looked through her bookcase and found a copy. “Here, I’ll inscribe it for you. Even if you don’t read it, at least you have an original with inscription. It might earn you a buck on a used book site.”

SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED – Marilyn Armstrong

We are shaken, but not stirred

I read all the James Bond books before they made it into the movies. I loved the books and for me, the movies were more like parodies than anything to do with Ian Fleming’s writing. The whole martini thing about “Shaken, not stirred,” always struck me as weird.

Why would it make a difference? Not being a drinker of any kind, much less a martini drinker, I’m probably the wrong one to ask.

Nonetheless, we are personally shaken even if not fully stirred.

Garry at the Police station in Uxbridge

In the course of a month and a half, we’ve been the victim of an intended more than $7000 in credit card theft. Yesterday, I realized for the first time (I can be a little slow on the uptake) that this started at least three weeks before I realized anything was happening and continued after I was sure it was fixed.

I think it’s fixed now. I hope so because I have done absolutely everything I was supposed to do. We are lucky we didn’t lose any of our so-called money. The credit card companies are less lucky and have spanked us thoroughly on our credit ratings. Not that I can blame them. They’ve taken the entire hit leaving us shaken and fearful. Feeling incredibly vulnerable. But no poorer than we were before.

Main street in late June

I didn’t know how bad it was until I looked at my monthly credit report. Credit Karma is free. They track your credit, the amounts you’ve spent, suggest cheaper cards or loans … and they are really free. If you are not a member, I suggest you sign up. If I hadn’t looked at the report, I would not have known what was happening.

One card leaped off the screen at me, a card on which I knew I had used less than $1000 in credit and suddenly, a $5000 bill was staring at me. I called the company. Because the card had already been declared as damaged — involved in a fraud attempt — it was closed. I couldn’t actually get to any information online and had no idea about how much money had been taken. It looked like much more than I had thought.

Back to the post office to file the reports. Round two. Hopefully the final round.

The guy at the bank gave me a list — down to the penny — of all the hits. I felt sick. Until I saw that report, I had no idea something had been going on. There were no flare guns, no strange packages, nothing to alert me. It had been going on since the beginning of May, more than 3 weeks before I knew there was a problem. A week more before I realized the extent of the problem. The day before yesterday, I got it.

“This is considered identity theft, ” the bank manager said. This was confirmed by the guy at the police station because we had to go back with all this additional information. Previously, all I knew about attempted thefts. This was the real deal. The took the money and laughed all the way to the shops where they bought stuff.

Truck parts. Lots of truck parts. I didn’t know truck parts could cost so much money, but I suppose when you steal them for free, whatever you get for them on the market is “free money” for you. Not for me or the bank, but a hop, skip, plus a little jump, made some thief happy.

A quick trip to the grocery. Frozen pizza for dinner. I was in no mood for cooking.

I assume big parts of our own private military hackers are on top of this stuff. Even though nothing is reported in the press, I would imagine this doesn’t get a lot of press coverage. All it would do is warn the targets.

The brightest — and funniest — moment of the day is when Garry called me from the police station and when I looked at the phone, it said “Interview Room 3.” It was a very NCIS moment.

I have alerted the police, all three credit monitoring agencies, filed reports with everyone. Deleted embedded copies of my credit cards from anywhere I knew they existed. Each time I use a shop, I will have to replace the card numbers then and as soon as the transaction is complete, delete it.

No matter what anyone says, if they are keeping your credit card information, your data is NOT secure.

These days, I’m not sure what secure even means.

RDP #16 : TARGET

RDP # 16: TARGET

Lately, I have felt like a target. Three credit cards (all from the same bank) hacked. Lots of paperwork on fraud. A general sense that whatever I thought was “safe” before was just a myth I told myself to keep from getting crazy.

I hate this feeling. Between living under a presidency run by a madman with his finger on the nuclear buttons, hackers attacking my computer, telephone, and email scammers, and, of course, router hackers?

Do I have a target painted somewhere on me that everyone can see — except me?

We should all be able to feel at least reasonably secure in our own spaces, our homes. Our businesses. Our personal lives. We should not be waiting for the next attacker to try to lure us into danger or hack our data.

Thank you, Facebook.

You really helped the hackers and probably made a fortune doing it, too. I notice you are spending millions of dollars on advertisements which are supposed to make us “feel better” about you, but you haven’t spent a penny to help protect the people you hurt. People like me who took your hit in the first place and now wonder if anything will ever return to normal.

And most of all, thank you President Dirtbag. You have left me wondering when the next holocaust is coming to destroy what remains.


We are the TARGET.


Me. Us. Our world.

THINLY SLICED – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #14 – JULIENNE

Yellow peppers
Julienne?

That’s about as Julienne as anything gets in this house. Actually, Julienne is almost always a preview to dicing, but I love the way it looks, all neatly stacked in a pile on the cutting board.

I use red, green, orange, and yellow peppers in a wide range of dishes. Not surprisingly, I’ve gotten good at cutting them. I’m also really fast. That’s probably why I tend to slice off my fingertips, too.

Oh well. It’s my sacrifice to the gods of cooking!

RDP #13 – SMORGASBORD – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #13 – Smörgåsbord

Finally, I can spell it! This is one of those words that has permanently escaped the grasp of my spelling.

I don’t have much to say about it, especially since the places that used to serve it seem to have disappeared. These days, we have “buffets,” also known as a huge table full of food, much of which I don’t like.

So I will pass on what my father said about “smorgasbord.”


Go for the expensive food first. They always put the cheap, filling food — potatoes and rice and such — at the beginning. By the time you get to the good food at the end of the table — where they have the shrimp and roast beef — you are already full. Eat the good stuff first.


I always go for the good stuff first. Just as well. I fill up really fast!