HOW MANY MAGNANIMOUSES MAKE UP A CONFUSION? – Marilyn Armstrong

Magnanimous but Confused

It is a beautiful day. Cool, comfortable, with a shining sun and no rain predicted. It doesn’t mean it won’t rain. It just means it’s less likely to rain than if they had predicted rain and anyway, it’s less like to rain as hard as it might if they had assured us by email and television that rain was coming.

Nuthatch

Basically, rain is always coming. The only issue is when it is coming and how hard it’s coming and how muddy the dogs will get.

Hairy Woodpecker

The birds really love the rain. Or maybe they don’t like hunting for food in the rain, so they love our feeders in the rain? Last night, by the time we got home, it was nearly dark, but there must have been a dozen birds squabbling over who should get the best seed.

Chickadee

I pointed out to them that the seeds were essentially all the same because they all came from the same big bag of black sunflower seeds mixed with shell and hull free food. I’m still trying really hard to find ways to have birds and not have as big a mess to clean up.

There were maybe two dozen birds all in a flying battle for seeds this morning. I still don’t recognize one of them. I think it’s a female and it’s mostly beige and brown with nothing particularly obvious in its design. The Hairy Woodpecker came back and as soon as he left, the Downy Woodpecker came by. There were half a dozen Nuthatches, something red (House Finch?) and a big Cardinal. He was there last night, too. And the usual woodpeckers.

Downy Woodpecker

I took pictures. I haven’t looked at them yet because I’ve been reading, commenting and drinking coffee, but they are up next. I haven’t quite gotten my sharp fix on the birdies yet. Need more practice.

Days like this leave me feeling magnanimous because it’s so lovely, but very confused since it’s really a confused mess. I decided to magnanimously enjoy the chaos. With a camera.

Nuthatch

That’s how I know I’m getting better. I can actually lift up my camera with the big lens on it! Oh yay!

TO IMPEACH OR NOT? IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION? NOT ANYMORE – By TOM CURLEY

IMPEACHMENT (FINALLY) NOW!

As I write this, I’m watching the Speaker of the House of Representatives formally open an impeachment inquiry into the Twitler-in-Chief.

What did it take? Well, a whistle-blower went through legal channels and brought a complaint about the President that was so bad is caused the Trump-appointed Inspector General to totally freak out. He realizes this was really serious and credible that he did what he is required by law to do. He sent it to the (Acting) Head of the Director of National Intelligence,  who’s responsibility BY LAW was to give it to the head of the House Intelligence committee within 7 days.  And of course, that’s exactly what he did.

Just kidding.

He refused because he went to the Attorney General, who by law has NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. And guess what? The Attorney General created a bullshit ruling by the Office of Legal Counsel that said he didn’t have to do it and the whistleblower can be outed.

Then they showed the complaint to the White House. Which is also REALLY AGAINST THE LAW!! And he won’t release the actual decision made by the OLC.  The only reason we know any of this is that the Inspector General was so freaked out that he went to Congress on his own to tell them that something was going on that was seriously fucked up.

The complaint involves a phone call where Herr Trump threatened to withhold money Congress had already given to Ukraine unless they dug up dirt on Joe Biden.

What’s another way to put it?

COLLUDING WITH A FOREIGN POWER! 

To make things worse, he sent out crazy uncle Rudy Giuliani to both deny and then admit that he did exactly that. Then Trump admitted he did it himself!  He did this literally the day after Bob Mueller testified in front of Congress and everybody decided he got away with colluding with Russia and obstructing justice.

The Inspector-General told the Congress about this on Constitution Day. Irony is on overdrive. I was working at ABC Radio News during the Watergate hearings.

Here’s the thing. Everybody was against impeachment until they suddenly they were all for it. Maybe we’re seeing the same thing.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this topic. Here’s the original post the last time I did.  Sound familiar?

  Original Post

Ever since the Mueller report came out, sort of, the topic on most people’s mind (or at least all the pundits on cable news) is whether or not to start impeachment hearings against the Twittler-in-chief.

In the last few weeks, with the addition of Attorney General William (I’m Trump’s Roy Cohn) Barr it has become clear that this administration has thrown any and all respect for the constitution out the window.

Then they went outside, peed on it, shit on it, let it dry out and peed and shit on it again. They are refusing all subpoenas issued by Congress. They are not allowing anyone to testify in front of any Congressional Committee. Even though many of those people don’t even work for the government anymore. The AG has lied to Congress and then refused to show up for a House Committee hearing because he didn’t want to be questioned by an actual lawyer!

The administration has said to Congress “FUCK YOU!” We don’t care if we’re breaking the law. What are you going to do about it?

Here’s the thing. No administration has ever done this before. Yet another “political norm” bites the dust.

What has become abundantly clear in the last two years is that our government has lasted for over 200 years because the people in it had some sense of civility. Some sense of decency. Some sense of shame. We never realized how much of government relied on everybody “doing the right thing.” We all just did it. It wasn’t written “black letter law.”

Then along came Cheesy McCheese Head.

A man with no civility. No sense of decency. No sense of shame. No regard for “Political Norms.” And as far as anyone can tell, no conscience.

If it isn’t written down as being illegal, fuck you, he’ll do it. And his and the whole Republican Party’s attitude is “even if it is written down, even if it is against the law, fuck you, we don’t care. What are you going to do about it?”

Here’s the most depressing thing. It turns out that Congress may not have much they can do about it. They can issue a subpoena, which in our previous reality was a really big deal. But this administration has just said “Fuck you, we don’t care. What are you going to do about it?”

Turns out they can hold a person who ignores a subpoena with a Contempt of Congress citation. Oh, that’s bad, right? What happens then? Congress sends the contempt citation to the Department of Justice, who then brings the cited individual up on criminal charges.

What if the person under the contempt citation is the HEAD OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT? What does he do?

Nothing. He ignores it. Fuck you. What are you going to do about it?

Congress requests the President’s tax returns be made available under an ironclad law written in the 1920s after the Tea Pot Dome scandals. They were intended to make sure no President or administration can hide corruption.

It was written to leave no wiggle room for a President or member of his cabinet to weasel out of providing those returns. So what does the Secretary of the Treasury, a person who has no right to interfere, do?

You guessed it. He says “Fuck you, I’m not going to allow that to happen. What are you going to do about it?

Theoretically, Congress can take all these issues to court, where they are on solid ground and will probably win. They always have in the past. What the current Supreme Court would do is questionable.

All the lower courts are going to say is, “Are you fucking kidding me? This is illegal as hell. Honor the subpoenas and turn over his friggin’ tax returns.”

Okay, they probably wouldn’t say friggin’. I’m just making a point. I like to speak in the vernacular. Okay, that’s not true either. I just wanted to use vernacular in that sentence.

The problem is, all of that would take a lot of time and we need speed. There is a good chance even if Congress wins, the administration will still say, “Fuck you. We’re not going to do it. What are you going to do about it?”

What can Congress do at this point? They have a thing called “Inherent Contempt” which allows them to actually jail someone they hold in contempt and fine them.

But their “jail” is merely a room in Congress’s basement. The Sargent-at-Arms of the House of Representatives doesn’t have a large force of well-armed troops.

That option is iffy.

You want me to do what? Are you kidding me? All I’ve got is this old sword! WTF!

So the only thing left that Congress can do is Impeach the mother-fucker. Not my quote, but a quote from a member of the House, the Speaker of the House, and many top Democrats are resisting this.

Their reason? They know the Senate will never convict, so why bother?

Because they have to do something. They simply cannot allow all of this to happen and do absolutely nothing, even if the end result isn’t an actual conviction.

Their reasoning is badly flawed but I understand why they think this way. When the Republicans impeached Clinton the majority of the country didn’t want them to do it. They did it anyway. On their own. On a party-line vote.

The result? The House Republicans impeached. The Senate didn’t convict. They knew the Senate wouldn’t convict when they impeached him. They did it anyway.

When it was all over? Clinton’s approval ratings were in the ’70s.

So what? The Republicans won the next election. Granted the won because the Supreme Court-appointed Bush as President, but regardless, they won.

Why were Clinton’s approval ratings so high? Because the MAJORITY of Americans thought getting impeached because you lied about getting a BJ from a consenting adult was bad, but NOT AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE!

The group MoveOn.org was created because most Americans wanted to “Move On” from this silly impeachment bullshit. Back then, I was working for CBS News Up To The Minute news.

Every night, we would air a three-minute piece about how the latest polls showed most Americans didn’t give a crap about Clinton’s affairs. No one wanted more stories about Monica Lewinsky.

The very next piece was inevitably about Monica Lewinsky.

After months of this, one night I asked the line producer if he actually watched the news block he just produced. He replied, “What do you mean?”

I replied, “You just aired the umpteenth poll showing how nobody cares about Monica Lewinsky and the Clinton scandal and your next piece is about Monica Lewinsky.”

His reply? “What’s your point?”

To this day, after 40 years of working in Network News, I still don’t exactly know what a news producer does. Now that I’m retired, I’m not sure I care.

The difference between then and now is simple. Back then, the majority of the country thought to impeach Clinton was silly. He got a blow job.

This president is under 14 CRIMINAL investigations — not counting the Mueller report — which documents at least 10 instances of provable obstruction of justice.

Now he is obstructing Congress daily — in plain sight! The overwhelming victory for the Democrats in 2018 was due to the majority of Americans wanting this President to be reined in.

To be impeached. Speedily. Then sent forth to a place of imprisonment, clapped in irons at least until his political string runs out forever and we know he can’t come back.

It looks bleak. The checks and balances of this country and our Constitution contained some serious hidden flaws. Mainly, the Founding Fathers assumedand we all know what assumed means — that the members of Congress would do their jobs.

Which is checking and balancing and keeping the country on an even keel.

The Republicans are not doing that. The current administration isn’t following the Constitution. Essentially, they are spitting on it with the result that our system is falling apart.

The reason we are not impeaching is that the House of Representatives know they can’t get a conviction in the Senate. This is totally stupid.

Only two and a half Presidents have been impeached. Nixon only counts as a half because he was never impeached. Congress was going to impeach him, but he quit before they could do it. In the other two cases, Clinton and Lincoln’s Vice President Andrew Johnson were impeached, but neither was convicted, although Johnson came close.

He won by only one vote. And that guy had to be brought into the Senate on a stretcher. He was near death. Nobody’s ever been convicted by the Senate. So that’s not an excuse to not impeach.

Here’s my argument. No, sorry, it’s not my argument. It’s from a far more reputable source than me. Who?

Otter.

Who’s Otter? I’m talking about Otter, the character from the movie Animal House played by Tim Matheson.

Specifically, the scene where Dean Wormer has closed down Delta House and the whole fraternity was getting thrown out of their frat house. Otter comes into their living room after just having the crap beaten out of him by the bad guy Frat house Omega Theta Pi.

And here Otter gives the speech that drives the rest of the movie. And this speech should drive all of us now.

“Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!”

And there you have it. It appears to be a futile gesture and thus stupid. But this situation absolutely requires a stupid gesture to be done on somebody’s part. We’re the only ones who can do it.

It will most likely fail, but we have to try. Hell, it can be the Democrats campaign slogan. “We Tried to Impeach the Mother Fucker. What Do You Want From Us?”

The only problem is WTTITMFWDYWFU doesn’t fit on a hat.

We’re going to need a bigger hat.

THE EARLY GOLD OF AUTUMN – Marilyn Armstrong

The leaves have definitely begun to change! The aspens are bright yellow and there are edges of red on the maples. There is a hint of gold on al the leaves as if some painter was doing a watercolor and washed it with light golden amber.

And there were a bunch of Tufted Titmouses on the feeders this morning. Can the rest be far behind?

HAPPENSTANCE JUST HAPPENS – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – HAPPENSTANCE

It has been one of those weeks. We were supposed to go away at the end of the week to celebrate being alive and surviving this year, but happenstance really happened big-time. First, I got sick. I wasn’t sure I was sick until I talked to Cherrie and she had the same thing and then Garry came down with it. I guess that means I had something. It’s one of those stomach things, so it will go away pretty quickly (usually they only last a few days), so I’m not going running to the doctor for something that’s just “going around.”

As it happened, one of the people we would be have been visiting has to be in the hospital soon. People with contagious things don’t go visiting people who are having surgery soon. It’s just … well … rude. Unhealthy, too.

Then there’s the wall of the house. As concerned as I am about getting the insurance company to throw a few dollars our way (ONE year’s payment of our home insurance bill would more than cover the issue and we’ve been paying for a long, long time — 19 years on this house and 10 on the previous one — but they don’t “pay.” They collect.

Garry and Karin MacMillan

On the upside, Karin — who we were going to be visiting but now aren’t — dropped by this morning with her business partner and Garry got to jabber a bit and it was fun to actually have company. She commented that this is a really lovely area — which it really is. It’s a gorgeous area despite the terrible weather we’ve been having.

Owen then came over and put a new pillar under the back deck. The pillar is on cement, so it isn’t going to sink. It used to be attached to the house, but the attachment came loose. Propping it up seemed a better deal than getting a new deck. That’s a few thousand dollars and basically, there’s nothing wrong with this deck except that it has come unhitched from the house. Now, with a double-strong wooden pillar propping up that corner, it is unlikely to go anywhere. And he got the job done in under two hours. Go, Owen!

I’m still trying to get hold of the contractor. It’s a busy — SUPER busy — season for contractors. Not only is everyone desperate to get something fixed before winter drops by, but it’s hunting season. Big time. And contractors have an odd way of drifting away even when they are in the middle of a job. So I want him to come, but I have to cajole and coddle him. Can I bribe him with cookies?

And yesterday, because how loud can anyone hint before someone else gets the message, Garry bought me a brilliant purple orchid. Which meant rearranging the dining room by pushing the table against the French doors. We can use it as a sideboard if we are serving and everyone can drift off to eat wherever they are most comfy. And my flowers look so much better.

As it happens, happenstance won my day. I happened to have a new coffee machine because the old one croaked and new flowers to dream about. Garry feels a little better than yesterday and I don’t feel any worse, which is something.

INFURIATION, RAGE, ANGER, AND OTHER BLOOD PRESSURE-RAISING MOODS – Marilyn Armstrong

This has the Chinese government antique (official) insignia. Probably 1700s, but could be 100 years earlier. Possibly from Tibet, but claimed by the Chinese (who are also claiming Tibet)

RDP-Sunday–INFURIATE

Ever since Garry said he was sure I was going to have a stroke if I didn’t calm down, I have calmed down. Mostly by having all of these rage-filled battles online rather than on the phone. I didn’t really think I’d have a stroke, but who knows? Nothing good was going to come out of it, regardless.

Giant ginger jar (missing lid)

It was ALWAYS something to do with customers non-relations. missing items for which I’d paid and expected to actually receive, getting defrauded (again), failure of a company to honor an expensive service plan (and usually one I should have known better than to purchase in the first place).

When I bought my Mac, I didn’t buy the service plan. There’s nearest service area was more than 50 miles away and for the amount they charged for less than a year’s “service,” what was the point? It would work that long I was sure. Computers work perfectly from when you get them (or never start working in the first place) in which case your 90-day warranty does the job just fine.

After I stopped paying for service plans. life got better. The people who supposedly provided the service rarely knew more than I did anyway.

Hand-carved Burmese Buddha – 20th-Century

At least I knew a reboot usually helped.

I stopped working with undependable companies and stayed with places that honored their warrantees: LL Beane, Land’s End, Amazon, Audible. and I never call my electric or internet company unless everything stopped working (which usually meant an area outage so there wasn’t much point in it).  Even then, I knew if I just waited, by morning it would get fixed.

I think Tibetan

I haven’t worked full time for so long I don’t actually remember many boss-slave relationships. I remember good ones, the wonderful ones — and have mostly forgotten the terrible ones. I remember the completely IRRATIONAL ones, though- the people who told you to do things that were physically impossible and I remember the great ones who were more like pals than bosses. I hold in deep fondness the mentors who taught me what I needed to know to make my way in a strange world.

Chinese Astrological figures etc

But right now, I’m not even angry. I’m just confused, scared, baffled. What to do about my house? How to get my insurance company to pay for legitimate weather damage that has — simply by driving around an looking at all the battered houses in the area — taken a terrible toll in the Valley.

I don’t know where to begin and on who to do it. In ALL the years I’ve owned houses, no insurance company has given me anything, no matter what had happened. I’ve gotten used to assuming there’s no point bothering to ask and it was always something I could somehow manage to take care of. Somehow.

This time, I can’t do it alone. I don’t have the skills or money. The adjuster came and went — and I have yet to see a report or a summary or ANYTHING indicating that the company got the pictures and proof of water damage. You’d think after 47 years between Garry and I with this same company that would count for something, right? It would seem I was deluded. Again.

I’m not even mad, just lost.

Simultaneously, I’m trying to sell as many of my antiques and paintings as I can. I don’t think they are worth all that much, pretty as they are, but other people don’t agree — so on the theory that other people’s ideas are often better than mine, why not at least try?

Sui musicians, restored

In the interim, it means carefully, oh SO carefully, dusting them. You can’t wash them — they are too old and the glazes are gone after a few hundred to thousands of years in caves or craters or underneath the ocean. It turns out, the ocean crashes did the LEAST damage … who’d have guessed it?

I’ve (nervously) assigned this task to Garry with the warning if he can’t reach it, don’t even try. The stuff is fragile.

When Owen, the tall one, is here, I will get him to help — and even HE is afraid of them, too. They are SO old.

Rage? More like complete confusion.

I’m probably enraged by what I (humorously) call my insurance company who doesn’t actually insure anything unless it affects the value of the house to the mortgage company (though you’d think a wall about to collapse from water damage would affect its overall value). They take our money, more every year — and it is a LOT of money — and never give anything back.

Miscellaneous and old!

I’m not angry. Just shocked, saddened, and dismayed that the situation could be this bad and MAPFRE will somehow manage to get away with it. Even more shocked at my own lack of understanding of the process. Boy oh boy, could I use a lawyer!

If I manage to figure out how to emerge from this mess, I’ll let you know.

I wonder — if I do nothing — how long it will take for the house to fall down? Do you think the insurance would pay for that? The mortgage company might get downright pissy about a pile of junk where a house used to be. I wouldn’t care for it much, either.

COUNTRY GARDENS BETWEEN STORMS – Marilyn Armstrong

AMELIORATING AND JUDICIOUS WILD PLANTING OF FLOWERS IN THE TINY TOWN OF UXBRIDGE

Our lawns are essentially wild,, too. I can’t turn on the hose because that pipe broke a few years ago and I haven’t figured out where to attach the new hose, (there’s a spout somewhere, but where?) — and so the hose is still in its original box in the basement.

Watering is hardly an issue. We are wet enough for several thousand lawns.

In the spring, the back lawn is covered with dandelions, wild violets, and Mayflowers. I love the yellow and blue combination. I won’t let anyone cut it until after they have all died back. Half our “front” garden is full of Asters, Columbine, Spiderwort, Solomon’s Seal. and Daylilies culled from the roads and woods. Other than the Roses and a big old-fashioned white Rhododendron that came before we moved in, all the other things we planted disappeared.

I think we have ONE remaining tulip and an azalea that’s too shady to bloom much. About twice a year, my son mows everything and hits the giant forsythia with an electric hedge cutter. Otherwise, it is what it is. Wild thing overtaking wild thing. Right now, it’s Jimson Weed with its bright purple berries (it came out of nowhere, but we have had a lot of birds and they bring seeds).

Jimson weed

We rarely go into the garden for recreation but we do occasionally hang out on the deck which is falling down. The bird feeders will go back up at the end of the month. I can’t wait until November. I want my birds back.

The dogs own the front yard and it looks like a site on which they shoot missiles. Garry cleans the pathway to the house, but otherwise, it’s pretty ripe. The other 4 acres are woods. These days, almost entirely oak behind the house and a 50-50 mix of sugar maple, oak, and our one and only decorative tree, the Japanese maple culled from my cousin’s crop (he has many).

This year, the wild grape vines are covering everything and growing insanely fast, too. As is the Bitterroot which is a transplant from somewhere else. Not on this continent.

There are a few miniature Korean lilacs I planted 20 years ago and are growing, but I have trouble finding them between the bigger trees.  Our only, very beaten and battered (and aging) lilac that is the size of a medium-size maple still throws up a few flowers. I need a very long lens to find the few we get and those are way up at the top of the tree.

Few people have much in the way of gardens. It’s dark from the canopy of oaks which shade out most other trees. We had ash and maple and we do have a fair growth of sassafras — but only along the edge of the woods.

A million kinds of grasping vines fighting for dominance. The rain has changed that. Last year it was wild morning glory which at least had a few flowers, but this year, it’s those huge grapevines. They have grown so tall they cover some of the mid-size oak trees.
I have ONE really well-grown maple right in front of my house which I treasure because it’s the only place on the property (other than the Japanese maple) that gives me real color.

Sunshine and oak trees

The deep green of the oaks become a golden bronze late in the season (November, usually) and the few remaining Ash change to bright yellow — usually now — but the rain has changed it so there is NO color anywhere.

At least I don’t have to worry about mowing because there’s no lawn. There was — for a single season — a back lawn after we had our backyard flattened and seeded, but the following year, after a wild and crazy winter of blizzards and brutally low temperatures, the wildflowers came back and the grass gave up.

It’s easier in the country. No one expects a big floral show (but a great ripening of tomatoes will bring admiring neighbors from near and far), so if you have a few daffodils and daylilies, that’s fine.

Everyone has one or more dogs. If you listen, you can always hear one barking. Occasionally, in the evening, they all get a good solid group bark going. It’s the Canine Earphone Collective. Free. No devices needed. That’s how dogs keep in touch, pass along the gossip, and let all the other canines know what’s happening out here in the never-ever lands beyond the city and suburban borders.

Back — now nearly 10 years ago — when we had our three long-eared hounds, they would sing in the morning. How I miss them! None of our current generation of dogs sing. No idea what DNA created El Duque , but the Scotties only sing if other dogs begin the chorus. Then they will yelp during appropriate moments in the finale.

EVENTUALLY MAKES A LONG LIST – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP SATURDAY : Eventually

Be there anyone amongst us who doth not make lists.

Not all my lists are written, mind you. Some are mental. I have a wedding coming up. It’s a very big piece of my “eventually” list and includes:

      • Can we afford reservations anywhere?
      • Am I physically up to a long drive from Massachusetts to Virginia?
      • Is Garry up to a long drive from New England to down there?

These lists used to be smaller and I used to be better at approaching them. I always did things quickly — just to get done with them and not have to worry. Reservations are probably manageable — one way or the other. Probably the other. I really want to go to this wedding.

When I first knew it was happening, I promised myself I would find a way to make it happen. Which automatically put it on my primary “eventually” list. I did not count on how hard I would find just getting through a normal day. Or how exhausted I would be after even a minimal effort.

Why am I so tired? My back is badly broken and my heart is tired. The back is both broken and arthritic. It hurts. I have better medication than I used to, so that’s a good thing, but the heart is a whole other issue.

The heart is genetic and I never knew I had. Most people who have the problem are unaware of it until it kills them. I was lucky I discovered it before it killed me. I was born with it. Probably so was my father and for all I know, my mother too. I’ve already had major surgery to repair it which involved installing two replacement valves, an electronic (metal) Pacemaker, and surgery which remodeled the entire left ventricle and a bypass.

The problem was my heart walls continue to thicken. The walls become inflexible. It’s harder for the valves to work – which means my red blood cell count drops which probably explains why I’ve had problems with minimal anemia since I was a kid. So far, though, it has never dropped dangerously low.

Can I get there and enjoy it? Can Garry make it? He isn’t good with long drives anymore. He used to love driving. For that matter, I used to love driving!

There are a lot other eventually lists. I’m not sure I can take a long walk to take pictures. I finally use the chair lift because hauling myself up and down the stairs isn’t going to improve my spine or my heart. The heart will get worse until it stops working.  No one will redo the surgery. I figure I’ve got another five years if I’m careful and a little bit lucky. Maybe longer. They keep improving the technology, so maybe they’ll come up with a miracle drug — and it will even be affordable.

The way we were – September 15, 1990

But that’s not so bad, right? I’ve had a full life. Not a super long one, but not cut excessively short either. Eventually is the rest of my life. There is so much eventually waiting for me to get to it.

Sometimes, I think, “What if I win the lottery? Could I somehow manage to travel to Europe and see Paris?” When we hit our 25th-anniversary and I wanted to go to Paris because I always wanted to see Paris (though I think I wanted to see the Paris that disappeared 100 years ago), we didn’t go. If you can’t walk, what do you do in Paris? If you can’t walk through Versailles or the Louvre — or walk those cobblestone streets — what else is there to do?

We went to visit Ben in Arizona and that was actually fantastic. The dry heat improved my ability to breathe and my spine hurt a lot less. I don’t know if I could live in that kind of heat all the time, but winter in Arizona is heavenly.

All my eventually lists are waiting for me. Sometimes, I forget what’s on the lists and by the time I remember, it’s too late. This time, though, I have to deal with it. One way or the other, it’s on top.

ASTRALLY SWINGING ON A STAR – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Monday: ASTRAL

I started reading the news this morning and it was so depressing, I decided to skip it and go straight to music. Swinging on a start sounds like a good choice, don’t you think? This is the Frank Sinatra version. It was the best reproduction I could find.

It’s a cheerful song. Nothing to do with the news and that’s just fine with me. Less is definitely more!

CHANGE IS ALWAYS ON THE WAY – Marilyn Armstrong

CHANGE IS ALWAYS

If only we could find that perfect, sweet, happy place and just sink into it. Stay there and never have to deal with change again. But of course, that’s impossible, isn’t it? Because if the world doesn’t change — and it never stops — we also change too, physically and emotionally.

We find a perfect job except we run out of work or they sell to another company. We learn everything we need to know except we turn around and it’s all different and we have to relearn it.

I don’t remember where I read it, but it was a list of the things that we find most stressful. It included things like death, job loss, and many other bad things … but it also included good things. Marriage and weddings are enormous stressors. Moving, even if you choose the move, are going somewhere you want to be is a  major stressor.

All change is stressful. Whatever our personality or feelings about change, in the end, it pushes us in ways we may not like.  Are bad changes — death, dying, sickness, poverty — worse than good changes? Sure, but don’t try to explain it to your body. All it knows is the tension and stress. It doesn’t care if it’s good or bad, only that it’s hard.

I’m not sure what induced me to take on a day of this prompt. I swore I’d never go back to prompting again, I needed a bit of change that wasn’t forced on me. Something small, but which would force me into thinking about “stuff.”

These past few years have been terrifying. Considering I’ve “grown-up” with news as a major part of my world, you wouldn’t think that it would affect me so much, but it has. It turns out we — Americans — are having a bit of a national nervous breakdown. Even people who (Dog may know why) like this administration are finding it stressful. We aren’t alone. Other countries are undergoing their own stressors. Between the climate changing and the bizarre leadership shifts? It’s messy and scary.

I’ve been dealing with my particular big bad dragon — money — so I haven’t had time to dive in and see what I need to do. I’m sure I’ll work it out, but be a patient, please. On top of everything else, we’ve been having problems with Charter, all of which seem to have started when we cut the cable cord. I don’t suppose that has anything to do with it? They wouldn’t be that petty, would they?

We’re also having a lot of glitches with WordPress. I’ll do my best and hopefully, it will all work out. If not, maybe I’ll take up bungee jumping. If I’m going to stress, I might as well go all in.

TOO MANY MURDER MYSTERIES – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Thursday: PROXY

As soon as whoever it is — usually, a child or grandchild of some older person shows up clutching a proxy in hand, evil will be done. The old person will be forced out of his home, all his possessions will be stolen right down to and including his most comfortable chair.

The two Barnabys

Soon, a scream will echo through the halls of the lordly manor as the corpse is discovered.

The REAL star of the show, Sykes

Will it be the old person or the young person … or, sometimes, someone apparently completely disconnected from the event? Barnaby and his sidekick Ben will investigate.

A little map of Midsomer

The truth will always surface and that person found dead — who I assure you will not be the only person found dead because no good Midsomer Murder has fewer than three murders in any episode — will ultimately be discovered to have some hidden, furtive relationship with everyone else.

Typical local home in Midsomer

Who is everyone else? Family, of course. And the wealthier and nobler the family, the more murders will have occurred before the show ends.

I always feel short-shrifted if there are fewer than three murders in an episode. And there has to be at least one scream.

A PASSAGE OVER WATER – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP TUESDAY: PASSAGE

In the I Ching, a passage is not just a passage. A passage over water means something different than a passage over a mountain or across a meadow. Each movement carries its own specific message for you.

I was never very good at deciphering it.

Passage over water usually means a long journey to another country. It doesn’t have to mean “real water,” either. It merely implies “a long trip.” Someone in Israel taught me to read the I Ching. I don’t remember who it was. I was never very good at it anyway. It usually made more sense after it happened than it did in the original reading.

Still, I remember that passage over water. I was thinking of vacations to distant lands. Maybe a trip home to visit family. That was definitely over water — an entire ocean.

It turned out to be leaving Israel and never coming back to live there. I did return once to work, but that trip was even more unreal because it landed me back in Boston two days before 9/11.

Thus whenever I hear the word “passage,” I remember the journey back to the United States, I recall leaving behind everything I’d accumulated during the 9 years I lived there. Some of it came back, but most didn’t. It made Israel a trip that lost its reality quickly. I had no photographs or items that meant something special. My friends were gone and I only saw just one of them ever again.

In less time than I had spent living there, it became distant, misty, and unreal. And now, with all the changes that have occurred, it is even further away than it was before.

QUEST OR HIKE? – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Friday: HIKE

So this is all about setting out on a quest. I’ll accept that life is a quest, but going for a hike — even as a group — is just exercise. Unless it happens you have Sauron’s One Ring To Rule Them All in your duffel and you’re on your way to Mordor and Mt. Doom where you and your duffel — and The Ring –are planning to leap into the cracks of Doom.

Otherwise, you’re out for a day of good, healthy exercise. It’s not a quest. It might even be a journey, but not a quest. I don’t know anyone who has quested. Long trips to foreign shores? Yes.

Quest? Not really.

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Maybe my mother was on a quest. She was always looking for the best prices on some really fine Italian wool and while she was at it, tried to determine what was the best things to buy in which cities of which countries. Maybe, for her, it was a quest … but personally, I think it was a series of great vacations with a lot of shopping.

Call me crazy. Sue Vincent goes on quests. She has a purpose and she is an active seeker. But she’s the only one I can think of offhand who really quests.

From Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo

What happens when you come to the end of your quest? Because … every trip, journey, high, whatever you choose to call it will come to an end. You come to the top of the mountain, the end of the path. Even if you complete the final leg of your journey to enlightenment, at some point, it ends.

I hope you’ve got plan B set up.

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The ship comes into the harbor and ties up at the pier. The passengers depart, taking their gear with them. The hikers come home, put their feet up and start posting pictures on Instagram.

Even if you find ultimate enlightenment, life goes on.

SOLITUDE AND A STOMACH VIRUS – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Thursday – SOLITUDE / SOLITARY

I was going to write something thoughtful about solitude, being solitary while writing and editing and processing photography. Something thoughtful about being artsy and creative.

Except I have this stomach virus and it is making me miserable.

I could go to the doctor where he would tell me I have a stomach virus, but I already know that. I’ve ruled out medication changes because, it turns out, a lot of people have this and I drank from the fountain at the hospital the other day.

There’s no better, faster, or more efficient way of catching a stomach virus than drinking from the bubbler at any hospital. That’s why so many of them have been disconnected. The problem was I was really thirsty and there was no water machine with cups anywhere. I was ready to find a bathroom and stick my head under the faucet, but someone pointed me at the bubbler (that’s what we call them in New England) and I was so glad to get something wet into my mouth, I wasn’t worrying about viruses.

I should have. I had just explained to Garry that the reason they’ve disconnected most fountains is that they are the best way to pass on viruses. They recycle the water and the viruses with it. You can pick up all kinds of things at a fountain — especially at a hospital which you just know is full of sick people. I was just there for an eye checkup, but who know who hit that fountain before I got to it?

Stomach viruses are easy to pick up and equally easy to pass along. Somehow, I have yet to pass this to Garry, which is nothing short of a miracle, but that’s probably because I’m refusing to cook. Just looking at the food is making me ill. Usually, we both get whatever the other one of us has. But this one is probably either water or food-borne, so maybe he’ll get lucky and miss it.

It coincided nicely with upcoming vacation plans. I think last night was the worst. All I wanted was to lie down and sip something with bubbles. Lacking ginger ale, I settled for coke.

It helped.

I didn’t want anything to eat, but Garry more or less forced me to eat something since I hadn’t eaten anything in 24 hours. Even bland food makes me sick. And I have a headache I can’t shake and I’m exhausted.

Today I’m just super cranky, the kind of person no one wants to be around including me. The only people not avoiding me are the dogs and they seem to be immune to people’s moods. Sweet old things.

I grumpily washed the kitchen floor this morning and grumpily straightened the bed and crabbily got dressed. I even snarled at the shower, which I have not forgiven for helping me fall down the other day. We did buy a bigger bathmat so I can reach the towel without having to step on the damp floor with my wet feet — which is what made me fall before.

I haven’t defrosted anything for dinner because there’s nothing in there I want to eat. I  may send Garry back to MacDonald’s. I can’t bring myself to defrost anything because I’ll put it on my plate and then I won’t eat it. The dogs are always willing to help me with unfinished food, but they are hefty enough without additional help.

I’m always surprised, even a little shocked, at how bad something minor like this makes me feel. It’s not lethal and not going to kill me. It’s not even bad enough to see the doctor or need antibiotics. I just feel like I want to yell at anyone who is near me. Washing the floor was good. It did not care that I was grousing at it the entire time. Why can’t it stay clean? Why does it keep needing to be washed?

I really need this to go away and I also need Garry to not catch it!

It’s going around. I discovered this morning if you type “what’s going around” into Google, it’ll tell you. Who needs a doctor when we have Google?

Solitude and solitary is my best bet. The less I interact with humans, the better for everyone. For one thing, they won’t catch this from me and I would be happier knowing I’m not passing it around. Also, I won’t snarl at them for no reason. I want someone to take care of me. Just … don’t talk to me when you do it. Bring me what I need (take your best guess). And be really quiet. Tiptoe.

This is bound to go away soon. I know I must be better than I was yesterday because I’m sitting up. I managed to get out of bed. That’s something, right?

According to several articles I’ve read, water fountains rarely contain viruses. But the problem is, the water in hospitals is suspect in the first place. A lot of public water isn’t very good and is of dubious quality, so if you don’t trust the water coming from your tap, you probably aren’t going to trust a fountain, either.

Our water comes from our own well and it is very clean, very cold, and the only thing it suffers from is an excess of iron which turns my white hair kind of yellow and leaves hard to remove rings on toilets. It’s probably good for us since iron is iron, whether you take it in a pill or drink it in your water. But the quality of most tap water in many parts of the world — this country too — is more than a little dubious. I’m sure folks in Flint and for that matter, in downtown Uxbridge, would attest to that.

INGENUITY: PLANNING A TRIP WITH THREE DOGS – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Thursday – INGENUITY

We have been blessed with the opportunity to take a real vacation — relatively locally but in a rich and wonderful part of the country.

I have always loved Pennsylvania, especially this area — the foothills of the Poconos.  It would be a real joy to get to know these people personally, too. Online is lovely … but person-to-person can’t is the best.

Garry and I really need a time out. It has been more than three years since the last time we were away for more than a day or two.

The problem is dogs.

We have three. That we have three makes little difference because really, the problem is our two Scottish Terriers, both of whom are now 13 and beginning to show their years. They are small, so they don’t age as fast as bigger dogs, but Bonnie’s eyesight is diminishing and Gibbs is getting a bit deaf. He used to come running for treats as soon as he heard the lid lifted from the treat box. Now, he falls into a sleep so deep it takes several loud calls for him to first wake up and then to realize he’s being called and why.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Duke and Gibbs

Gibbs isn’t the problem. Neither is wacko Duke. Yelling a little louder is not a big deal and Duke has calmed down to a point where while he’s a bit too crazy to take visiting, he’s good around the house. And he’s clean. He has never made a mess in the house from the day we got him.

Bonnie and Gibbs are a different story. Because both of them were trained to go out whenever they wanted to via the doggy door, they don’t tell you when they need to go out. They simply go. They don’t give us any indication of what they want. They are self-trained — which is fine in this house but not so fine in other people’s houses.

Gibbs

We have been trying to find some ingenious way to get Bonnie’s eyes properly taken care of while we are away. Owen will always make sure they are fed, spend at least an hour or so with them to keep them for getting too lonesome … and manage to squeeze two visits a day into their lives (and do Bonnie’s eyes while he is there). This is quite a trick considering he works a lot of hours.

We had been thinking about just taking Bonnie with us. That way, we’d know her eyes were getting the care they need. But if we take her with us, she will have me or Garry up by dawn. She requires an early morning cookie and a trip outside. Then she’ll have me up a couple of hours later again.

She is nearly blind, we would have to keep her on a lead — which she does NOT like because unlike home, she can’t feel her way around the house. In her mind, she has never lived anywhere else. From 9 weeks to thirteen years is a complete life for a dog. She knows every inch of the house, where all the furniture is, even where the step stool she uses to get up on the sofa stands.

In another house, she would need to find everything for the first time. Since she has always felt that leashes were something for Other Dogs, she is unlikely to take kindly to being led around.

First I figured we would take her with us. Now I’m rethinking it. If we are going to get any rest and relaxation, taking her will make that impossible.

Not taking her is also worrisome.

I’ve been trying to figure out some ingenious way of making this work for her and us. I’m coming up empty.

Taking her with us will guarantee her eyes are tended to properly and frequently, but it will enormously limit our freedom. Talk about a rock and a hard place. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t

The only place we could board her — assuming we could afford to do that at all — would be the veterinarian because her eyes need care. Owen will do the best he can, but he does work a full week and there’s only so much we can expect from him.

So here’s where I ask for ideas. No “dog walking” service in Uxbridge and Kaity is finally attending college — a commuter school — so she already has her hands full.

If Bonnie’s eyes were only cleaned and lubricated twice a day instead of three times a day for a week, would that be catastrophic? I know none of the dogs like when we are away, but much as I love them. sometimes we need to be elsewhere and this is one of those times.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I’m not sure there is a right answer, but if anyone has a creative thought, I’m listening!

LACKING FINESSE – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Tuesday – FINESSE

It must be my age. I no longer have any finesse at all. I sometimes get what I want, but it’s more bludgeon than finesse. I seem to have lost my charm especially in dealing with people who tell me “We have to charge $8 to send you a 15 ml bottle of eyedrops for your dog.”

“No,” I said. “You don’t HAVE to charge me $8.00. You have decided to charge me $8. The cost is actually $3 and the plastic bag is another $1. So you’re making a big profit on the shipping. Even if you add another dollar for handling.”

“You could use our auto-delivery service. Then delivery is just $3.”

“Right, but these are eye drops. Liquid. You can’t calculate quite that precisely for a liquid.”

“That’s true,” she admitted. “Auto-delivery isn’t a good choice for  liquids.”

I got her down to $5, which is what it was the last time (mid-May) for the delivery. No matter what she said, there is — not UPS, USPS, or FedEx — NO delivery service who charges that much money to deliver a product so light you might miss it being in the envelope at all.

So where did my finesse go? Down the drain along with the salary I earned.

Pet adoption agencies are always trying to convince you to adopt senior dogs. Gibbs was 9 when we adopted him and at 13, he is beginning to show his years. Going a bit deaf these days. He is less energetic and more inclined to prolonged naps. So when agencies urge older people to adopt older dogs, are they offering to help pick up the costs that older pets will inevitably generate as they age?

You bet they aren’t. No senior discounts for senior dogs or senior people. I’ve lost patience with price gouging. A good finesse used to be a winning strategy, but I’ve never known it to work with any kind of customer service. They don’t respond to wit, humor, or irony. Hit them hard where it hurts and maybe — if you are lucky — you’ll get something back.

If you can convince the company that lowering shipping costs — which are now more than double the cost of real shipping — go for it. Whatever gets the price down.