EASTER AND PASSOVER: JOINED AT THE HIP – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: EGG

Last night, I made French toast — pain perdu — for dinner. I don’t know how they serve it in France, but here, it gets served with bacon on the side and real, Vermont maple syrup on top.

It is delicious and more like dessert than dinner.

Dinner or breakfast, it’s delicious

Over the years, eggs have been good for you, bad for you, terrible for you, good for you, excellent for you … and here in New England, brown ones are supposed to be healthier than white ones. I have no idea if there’s any truth to that because I always buy the cheapest eggs I can, but always large ones because one day I came home with medium-sized eggs and my granddaughter refused to even speak to me.

My Easter eggs never looked this good!

She really loved eggs and she though buying small eggs was cruel and unusual breakfast.

A very modern Seder plate
It can also be pretty funny

This week is Passover and Easter. They always come at the same time because “The Last Supper” was a Seder during Passover, so this is one of those times when Christians have to examine (if they think about it and I’m pretty sure most of them don’t) their Jewish roots. There are hard-boiled eggs on the Passover table too, by the way. Just so you know, this is a very eggy week.

A Seder table – More work than you ever imagined for a single meal!

Personally, I ignore warnings about eggs. I don’t eat them every day and never did. Also, I figure a house that has eggs and bread will never be hungry.

The eggs of the bunny?

Happy whatever you celebrate and happy whatever you do not celebrate. And enjoy your eggs. I add a hint of vanilla extract to the beaten eggs and it definitely adds a certain “Je ne sais quoi” to the French toast.

Oh, almost forgot: I shake a LOT of cinnamon on the bread as it is frying. How wrong can you go with vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup?

A SUNDAY RAGTAG PICTURE POST – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP-Sunday-Picture


If you wanted to take a quick guess at what kind of picture I’m going to post, might the answer be “birds”? It has been a chilly, wet spring. Going out hasn’t been a lot of fun. There are pools of water all over and for some reason, they seem to be the deepest pooled in the handicap spots in parking lots. Is that a subtle hint? Or — a not so subtle hint? It’s gray today and supposed to rain a little later.

We’ve been getting a lot of days that start out lovely and disintegrate shortly thereafter. In fact, it’s been a daily occurrence. I don’t mind the chilliness and I’m all in favor of keeping the rivers full of water — and my well full of water, too! But couldn’t we get a few pretty days between the rains?

There are more birds. All of them are really pretty now, in their bright breeding feathers. They’ve gotten all dressed up to woo their mates, some for a lifetime (for a bird, this might not be all that long), others until the nest releases its last nestling.

A pretty red House Finch unless it’s a pretty, red Purple Finch. No, I really can’t tell the difference.
Goldfinches all lined up for chow time!
A lovely front view of one of our doves
Cowbird with red finch
Friendly midday squirrel

Pictures for a Sunday afternoon with rain in the air. But for now, it’s merely gray.

THE CYCLONE! – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Friday: CYCLONE

The first time I rode the Cyclone, I was 8, as were my friends. Mary’s mom dropped us at the rides and went to visit a friend while we girls rode the Cyclone for hours. It was off-season and if there weren’t any people waiting, they’d let kids stay on as long as they could.

I rode that beast many more times until a few years ago when my bones and Garry’s said “Enough!” and we said goodbye.

ALONG THE ATLANTIC COAST – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: COAST

When you grow up in any of the coastal states in the U.S., “going to the beach” is at the top of your summertime list from as soon as you are old enough to tiptoe into the ocean, until you get serious about work and forget about having fun for the next couple of decades.

It’s not that you don’t go to visit the shore. We all do that, even in the middle of the winter, to see the gulls fly backward against the incoming winds, early enough to watch the haze burn off along the shoreline … and the best place to think quietly without any interruption.

I actually prefer the coast in the winter. It’s relatively empty, at least of people. The sky is a great blue bowl overhead … and when the wind comes in, the seagulls really do fly backward until they give up and sit in the water until the winds die off.

Atlantic shore in Ogunquit. Maine at dawn
Rockport, Massachusetts at sunrise
Gloucester, Massachusetts, home of the famed fishing fleet
Gloucester, Cape Ann – A famous place for shipwrecks!
Barnstable on Cape Cod

THE FOOL – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Fool

RDP Monday: FOOL


Back in ye olden days, I used to read horoscopes and Tarot cards. I was a very good astrologer and a deeply nervous Tarot reader. My problem with Tarot was that I saw things and they had a nasty habit of coming true exactly as I saw them. I saw death — and people died. I saw calamity and voilà! Chaos and collapse.

Not for myself, mind you. You can’t read for yourself and you really should not read for family and friends. Too much of your own baggage gets wrapped into the reading. You tend to see what you want to see or are afraid might happen.

From the Mystic Tarot – Magician and Fool

Of course, the people for whom you inevitably read most often are exactly the people for whom you should not read because who else can nudge you into a Tarot reading at 2 in the morning when you’ve been smoking weed all night and listening to the Doors? Your best friends, of course.

My best — and most horrifying — readings were done for total strangers I had never met. That was what I preferred, too. I didn’t want any live input from someone. I wanted a cold reading without any subconscious or conscious input. You’d be amazed at how much information you can glean from the blink of an eye or the tightening of a cheek muscle.

Eventually, I stowed a couple of decks in the back of a bookcase, carefully wrapped in a silk scarf … and I am sure they are still there. I also won’t do horoscopes anymore, either. Too much information and too easy to read the information just slightly incorrectly. You see travels, but you may not see why — and the why is the important part of the “truth.”

Why do these readings work? I have no idea and I never did. I do know that they did work. Often frighteningly well. It was the deaths that finally got me. I could not bear to see the death of a friend. It wasn’t just any old death. It was dated, often by month and year. I did not want to know that information about anyone.

Garry was smart. He never let me read for him.


The Fool or Jester is one of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck. In occult tarot, it is the first (or last) of the 22 Major Arcana numbered either from zero to 21 or from 1 to 22.

Many artists through the ages have painted the Tarot deck. The “major Arcana” are the “power” cards in the deck, but there are other cards not part of the Major Arcana that are dangerous and powerful as well. Anyone can memorize the cards, but not everyone has a gift (should you wish to call it that) for interpreting what they mean.

Arrangements of the cards vary from very simple to extremely complex and the format you choose to use has to do with your way of interpreting the meaning of the cards. I do not recommend this as a fun hobby for people who think there’s no meaning in it and it is just a game.

It’s not a game.


VisualizationThe Fool is a beggar or a vagabond — or a Court Jester.  He wears ragged clothes without shoes and carries a stick on his back. He is joyfully strolling to the edge of a cliff, his eyes upward to the sky. The fool is likely to fall off the mountain, but as the magician, he could rise to meet the stars. I never met a fool who rose to meet the stars, no matter what books say on the matter.

MeaningThe Fool represents new beginnings, faith in the future, inexperience, beginner’s luck, improvisation, and faith in the universe.

UprightBeginnings, spontaneity, originality, innocence, a leap of faith.

Reversed: Naivety, poor judgment, folly, lack of direction, stupidity, chaos. Personally, I never thought the Fool was a positive omen, upright or reversed.

Our Own Fool:

NO FEATHERED KITES IN NEW ENGLAND – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: KITE

All the Eastern coast kits live down south, from Mississippi through Florida and out towards Louisiana. It’s not that we lack for hawks around here. We have both Golden (relatively rare as they prefer mountains to valleys, but sometimes you can spot them high above you, especially if are in the White Mountains in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, or Canada.

No hawks, safe to feed!

We see a lot of American Eagles, especially along the Merrimack — a much wider, slower-flowing river with lots of big fish and pollution to make me wonder if people really eat those fish. Nonetheless, many people nearby have boats and fish the waters of the Merrimack.

Red and yellow finches

American Eagles are lazy. Rather than do their own fishing, they station themselves in trees along the river, waiting for someone to catch their dinner. Then they drop out of the sky, grab the fish and fly off. I’m sure they are mentally grinning. Note: Beaks don’t smile.

Nuthatch on the tree

Very few people have enough character to fight off an eagle’s talons for a fish. Even a really big fish. American Eagles are not the biggest of eagles. I think the Golden is at least twice its size and there are some eagles in Africa and Asia that are also huge. Still, the talons on our Bald Eagle are no laughing matter.

Cooper’s Hawk – The white chest is a major giveaway for birders

I wouldn’t mess with them. I’ve been gored by a Cockatoo who wasn’t nearly as big as even a very small eagle and I nearly lost my thumb.

Birds have a lot of power in a lightweight body.

It’s rather like arguing with a bear over a basket of berries you are carrying across the moor. You can get more berries. You can buy them in the grocery store. Meanwhile, the bear doesn’t need a credit card and like the eagle, he’s glad enough you did the berry picking. He can as take your arm AND the berries for a healthy, balanced dinner.

To put it another way, “Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.”

Don’t run from the bear. Politely put down the basket and quietly stroll off. Don’t whistle. That might irritate him and an irritated bear is … well … an irritated bear. Even a small bear is a lot bigger than you are, so be nice, quiet, and go home. Light incense. Consider not scouring the fields for wild berries.

Cooper’s Hawk. Accipiter Cooperii. Jones Beach State Park, Nassau Co. NY.
Juvenile Cooper’s hawk in close flight during autumn migration.

The closest we have to a kite here is the Cooper’s Hawk and its close relative, the Sharp-shinned Hawk. Both of these small hawks used it live largely far from humans.

Until the arrival of bird feeders. Since both of these hawks are bird hunters and considered remarkable fliers when they discover a feeder and do their famous flap-flap-glide through forest and bushes — there are those who believe these hawks could thread a needle by flying through its eye — the scare the feathers from the birds.

Comparing Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk

For reasons best known to the Mourning Doves, they least terrified of these small hawks (listed as “kite-like” in my “Peterson’s” guide). Doves are not the smartest birds in the coop.

Regardless, a single passing swoop by one of the two bird-hunting hawks, and the birds are gone. They don’t just disappear for a few hours. They are gone for days and if the Hawks are active, as long as five or six days.

Which is what the Cornell Institute and Audubon Society both suggest you do if you find that the Hawks have become a problem. Which is to say you have actually seen them more than once. They are not easy to see, either. They are exceptionally skillful fliers. The diver between trees and hedges and in fact, when they miss, they are frequently crushed because they hit a tree chest first. I guess seatbelts would not help all that much.

Cooper’s Hawk

It’s not that we don’t believe every creature deserves its dinner, but most of us don’t want to be setting the table for this particularly gastronomic feast. We invited the birds to come and chow down, so when it’s obvious that we’ve set them up as someone else’s main course, it takes a lot of the joy out of the party.

We also don’t fly paper kites around here. The trees, abounding as they do with bird life and trillions of insects, have their own killer instinct and will happily eat your kite.

The last time I flew a big kite, it was down on Cape Cod. The wind caught it and over the waves, it flew. Eventually, I ran out of string. I had a couple of thousand feet of thousand-pound nylon cord, so it was far away. Way beyond the breakers and invisible.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

There was no way I could bring it home. The outbound wind was strong and had taken it way out to sea. We could not see it. I cut the string and let it fly.

I wonder if anyone found it and pondered where it had started? In case it was you, it was on a nearly deserted beach in November on Cape Cod.