RICH PASCHALL, GARRY AND MARILYN BY THE BLACKSTONE CANAL – Marilyn Armstrong

It didn’t happen if you don’t take any pictures. Well, that’s not exactly true, but as a photographer, that’s how I feel about many events. Which doesn’t mean I always take pictures. Much of the time, I don’t feel like taking pictures. I just want to enjoy the event and not be the photographer.

Smiling, Rich and Garry by the Canal at River Bend
Rich and Garry by the canal at River Bend

This wasn’t one of those days. We had hoped to go out yesterday, but it rained all day. This morning, we woke up to a bright blue sky and we said “Okay, this is it. Let’s do it. So while I packed up my camera, made sure Garry had a live battery, figured out which lenses I was taking and off we went to the canal.

And halfway there, it started to rain. Plop. Plop. Plop.

“Maybe it’ll stop,” I said. There were still patches of blue in the sky so it could clear.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Marilyn and Rich along the Canal

By the time we got to the canal, it was pouring. It briefly slowed down, so we started to get out of the car. The pause changed instantly into a downpour. The rain gods were still with us. We turned around and started to head to dinner, but made a brief stop at the Crown & Eagle, which is a restored cotton mill which has been repurposed into a senior living facility. It’s a particularly beautiful location with the river behind the building and its own canal full of water lilies in front.

The sun came out.

The stone bridge in the rain

We turned around and went back to the canal. By then, it had started to drizzle, but it wasn’t pouring. Rich and I decided to take a chance and get out. I was wearing open-toed sandals — not the best footwear for a muddy rainy day by the river. And while my camera is water-resistant, none of the lenses I had brought were water resistant. I picked the 50mm prime because at least it didn’t have any electronics in it.

The footbridge
Photo: Garry Armstrong – Blackstone River

We took some pictures … and finally, Garry decided to come and shoot some too. He was worried about getting his hearing gear wet … a not unreasonable concern. That’s really expensive equipment that we absolutely can’t afford to replace. But he couldn’t resist the opportunity.

We had about 10 minutes before it started to rain again and if you look, you can see the rain falling in the river. We headed back to the car as quickly as we could with all the gear on the muddy, gritty path which apparently had been really messed up by the constant heavy rains we’ve been having for months.

Then, we really did go to dinner, which was great and I had tempura. Yum!

Rich on his own
The Blackstone Canal

Of course, as we finished dinner, the sun was shining, the sky was bright blue. These are the longest days of the year and I wished we could go back and take just a few more pictures.

But it was getting late. The dogs needed feeding. Moreover, if I was going to post these pictures, I had to download and process at least a few of them. So here they are. All that rain has made everything bloom like mad. It really does look like a rain forest!

THE LONG DELAY ENDS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Delay

For the last six years … maybe a bit longer … Rich Paschall has been working with us on Serendipity. We never met but we lived in hope. This weekend, he is here.

It only took six years … and his flight out of Chicago was 131 minutes delayed. I know because that’s what it said on the Spirit Airlines arrivals information. A long delay and made even longer by airport delays. I have to assume it was weather-related. There are storms everywhere across North America and it was raining here, too.

Aren’t we glad that climate change is a Chinese piece of fake news? Who knows what it would be like were it true!

I don’t have any pictures because he is still sleeping … wearing off Chicago time. Garry has a luncheon and is doing his long prep time in the shower and I’m trying to drink this coffee and I think I’m going to go make a new pot. This stuff is not great. I think it got stale.

I can’t believe it’s another gray, damp day. Will the rain gods ever leave town? Maybe it will brighten up later? We can surely hope!

Rich has filled in for me when I was sick … which has been far too often. He has always been here, even though he has been there. A welcome guest and a good friend. Who says online friends aren’t the “real deal”?

So Rich is finally here and remarkably, he is exactly like the person I expected. Sometimes, things are indeed what you expect. In a good way.

THE DAILY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

The squirrels and I are quarreling. I am a believer that the hungry should be allowed to eat and I quite like our squirrels. I can actually recognize them, usually by the size and coloration of their tails.

The problem is, there seem to be a great many of them and we seem to be the only open buffet in the region … or maybe we just serve a better quality of seeds.

Every morning, when I first get up I open the shades and look at the feeders. There are always two squirrels wrapped around the hanging feeder and nestled happily inside the flat feeder. I leave them be. They are free to chow down until I get up for the day … about 4 or 5 hours later.

A crowd of cowbirds
More Cowbirds!
Very handsome Cowbird!

But that’s it. After 11 in the morning, when I’m having my coffee, I open my back door and tell them it’s time to get off the feeder and find food in the forest. They don’t even move. Apparently, I am no longer a threatening presence. Finally, after I talk to them for a while and they refuse to move, I open the door and walk towards the feeders and then they slowly detach and climb down the railing to the deck.

Goldfinch in the rain
Rain does not bother him
There were other Goldfinches on the other side of the feeder too

I can see them lurking just below the fence, so I go out again, look them in the eye and say: “I SEE you. You’ve had your time in the feeders. Now you have to let the birds eat too.”

I go back to the house and they are back on the feeders. I repeat the performance, only this time, I stand on the deck. Each time they peak over the edge of the deck I tell them: “I said it was time to go. Now, beat it buster.”

Sharing the feeder – Lady Cardinal and Downy Woodpecker

Each time one of them leaves, a dozen birds hit the feeder because they’ve been waiting in the trees. They aren’t afraid of me anymore. They seem to know I’m talking to the squirrels.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

How they know this, I have no idea, but they don’t skedaddle. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to go and physically remove the squirrels one of these mornings. I really don’t mind them eating, but they can’t eat all the food I put out and that’s what they are doing. I can’t afford twenty pounds of seeds a week.

Carolina Wren

It’s like when you go for breakfast with a friend and you get to chatting. No one minds because it’s early, but as lunchtime rolls around, the waiters start giving you the eye. There are no more refills for your coffee.

He’s back!

I don’t think my squirrels have been eating out recently. They don’t have good restaurant manners.

OILING DOWN THE ANGRY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Oil on the water

Oil is supposed to settle down rapidly boiling water.

It doesn’t.

The water keeps boiling at the same level only there’s oil on it. Patches of oil. In my house, oil is olive (usually) but out in the Real World, ocean water glistens with oil meant to run trucks, cars, and heat homes. A good thing insofar as it was warm a few days ago, so I turned down the thermostat … and now, it’s cold.

Not bitterly, miserably dead-winter cold. No, it’s wet and gets into your bones. It feels a lot colder than it is.

Garry and I have been trying to figure out if we are suffering from the pollen (it’s high) and it’s from trees. We’ve got trees). That or one of us made unintentional contact with a sick person.

Garry pointed out to me since I had (recently) pointed the same thing to him (recently), that it doesn’t matter if it’s a cold or allergies. You feel equally crappy regardless.


NOTE: Anyone who says “Oh, it’s JUST allergies,” has never had allergies. An allergy is a cold that only ends when the snow falls. If you get sick and feel better three days later, you were sick. If you feel like crap but are still feeling awful three months later when the trees are turning, it was an allergy.


It’s probably the best part of winter that unless I actually get sick, which I do very rarely now (I think I had everything when I was younger and am now resistant to everything), I stop sneezing until spring comes again. In case no one noticed, it IS (technically) spring. I know this because during the two sunny days this month, I took pictures of our bunch of daffodils.

Since we are apparently allergic to everything and we live in pollen central, we suffer. Even the dogs suffer. Our dogs have sneezing fits. To be fair, our pollen is so bad that sometimes — about a week from now is my best guess, assuming it stops raining by then — the air looks like it’s snowing, except the snow is green. Everything turns green. The car is covered in green pollen.

Goldfinch flock – Sneezing?

Do the birds sneeze? That could really ruin the hawks hunting time. And if the little birds sneeze, it could make it hard for them to hide in the branches. But if ALL of them sneeze …

“The wood would resound with the sound of sneezing …”

I have sneezing fits. Sometimes I just keep sneezing for so long I forget when I started. It makes Garry’s hearing implements go crazy, so eventually, he has to cover his ears. If I get loud enough, he has to leave the room. I am a hearty sneezer.

Back to the oil. If oil theoretically makes boiling water settle down (I think it just pollutes it), maybe we should pour oil on each other. We could then be sick and slimy simultaneously. The dogs would love it and would lick every inch of us.

Yummy olive oil! We could stick salad to our arms and legs and be really green. I could wear a tomato hat and Garry could arm himself with huge cucumbers.

I think I’m losing it.

All I want are THREE SUNNY DAYS so I can clean out the garden. Is that too much to ask?

COME AGAIN ANOTHER DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Tuesday: Rain

Yesterday, when Garry was getting his ears tested, he commented that the sound of the rain was really bothering him. It was so LOUD.

The wet and rainy ride to vote

The audiologist said that it was bothering everybody, that she didn’t ever remember so much heavy rain, so continuously. I said that I thought that something was wrong with the house, that suddenly there was so much noise until I realized that a cloud had broken open and all the rain in the heavens was pouring down on our roof.

We have now had more than 20 inches of rain sing fall began and it’s not over yet unless it gets cold enough to be snow and that’s an even more formidable — if less noisy — weather pattern to contemplate. Last year, we got three blizzards in two weeks. That isn’t normal. One blizzard … maybe two … in a season is normal. Three in two weeks? Really?

Say what you want about climate change, I don’t think we are waiting for it. I think it’s here. This is the “new” weather. Unpredictable. Even our sharpest, smartest meteorologists no longer are able to give a reasonably definite forecast for as much as a day or two ahead.

It might rain. It might snow. It should get colder, but maybe not. Wind? Possibly but maybe only on the Cape or further north. They really aren’t sure because weather patterns are not doing what they always did before. We could (more or less) predict weather because it followed known patterns based on the seasons.

We aren’t even getting all the seasons now. Spring was never big here in New England, but now we aren’t getting autumn either and that is a serious loss. It didn’t ever last long enough, but it was the best weather of the year and certainly the most beautiful.

And just for thwarting, this was our trip to Connecticut. I don’t have any graphic software here so … this is just the way it looked through the front window …

No more predictability. While (overall) the world is getting hotter, the wild swings of weather mean that you may get hotter summers, but you also get buried in snow and ice at the other end of the cycle. Climate change isn’t one thing. It’s everything.

It doesn’t merely rain. It pours. We don’t get breezes. We get violent wind storms. Weekly or even more often. There’s no more “rarely” in weather. Everything is ramped up. It’s super snowmageddon or violent tides. Floods, drought, fire, mudslides. Everything is the biggest, worst of its kind until the next one which is even worse.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It won’t get better unless we fix it and I’m not sure we will fix it. How do you get all of humanity and its governments united on saving their planet? How can you get so many people to agree on anything? Ever?

Our exterminator was here today. He assured me if blow ourselves up, the only living thing on earth will be cockroaches. That didn’t make me feel better at all.

THE CHANGING SEASONS: NOVEMBER 2018 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, November 2018

Photos by Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

If you don’t think climate change is real, this has been a good month to check your sense of reality. Autumn started September 20th this year and since then, we’ve had 18 inches of rain, 9 of those inches in this month. November. Not generally a particularly wet month for rain or snow.


This is the autumnal part. Some of these were shot by Garry Armstrong, the rest by me.


And we’ve had both, as well as a bit of brilliant autumn. We were in Connecticut when the first snow came down. We came home to snow, then the temperature rose. It rained and then the snow melted.

First snow of the season!


At the beginning of the month, we still had fresh roses growing in the garden.


And then, the plants came down from their hooks and the bird feeders went up … and suddenly, the world was full of hungry birds!


My Christmas Cactus is blooming, my bird feeder is attracting literally flocks of birds. The rivers have risen to their peak and any significant additional rain will cause at least minimal flooding.


It’s been a wild and crazy month with icy cold, warm rain, heavy wind, snow and usually one sunny day at some point in the week. Or at least half a day, or a few hours.

We’re not supposed to get more rain — or snow — until Sunday, by which time it will already be December. Crazy month!


About The Changing Seasons


The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  1 – Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month

2 – Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

3 – Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

   1 – Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month

  2 – Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

  3 – Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su-Leslie’s post, she will update it to include your links.

WET AND DRY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Dry


It’s raining. Dare I say it? It’s pouring. But this is no longer unusual. It used to be the rain came and left. Recently and including today, it’s sunshine that comes briefly then vanishes.

Yesterday was a day during which it didn’t rain. It wasn’t always sunny, but it didn’t actually rain.

Just as well I took pictures because yesterday’s trees with golden leaves are today’s bare, wet bark. At least it isn’t cold. Yet.

It has been raining as if this were Portland. Definitely not anything like Massachusetts in the summer or fall. We weren’t flooded yet, probably because we never got one of the massive hurricanes. We are far enough north that we usually don’t get the full power of hurricanes … but they occasionally show up.

If they don’t show up “in person,” they show up as a close cousin. Always, they bring rain, wind, and weeks or sodden, gray weather. In the winter, they bring the blizzards. In the warmer weather, a nor’easter means nonstop rain plus a full measure of gloom.

But we also have our own little hurricanes, the infamous nor’easters that pound in from the ocean and then sit right over Boston and just keep bringing in water from the ocean in a powerful circular drive.

Two years ago — the worst ear of the 10-year drought — there was no rain, not even a drizzle through May and almost none in June.

This year, the ground is sodden and feels like a sponge. The trees are dark because the bark is wet and has stayed wet for months. There is green mold growing on our vinyl siding. Even the rocks are green.

Dry? When was that?