SHARING MY WORLD AS OCTOBER BEGINS – Marilyn Armstrong

Although by the calendar and by our understanding of seasons, it is supposed to be autumn, it isn’t particularly autumnal. It isn’t as bad as last year when we had nothing at all at the end of September, but it certainly isn’t the kind of glorious color we typically get in New England.

Enjoy it while you can.

The problem is climate change. Normally, summer — especially the end of summer — is dry. By the end of August, a lot of leaves turn yellow. Aspen turns bright yellow before August is over. The maple trees by the end of September are turning red.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

There was some moderately bright colors along the river. There’s some color at the Mumford Dam in town, but it is a bit pale. I haven’t given up on the season yet, though the next week is supposed to be heavy rain and the temperatures are going back up. To get things back on something like a natural track, we need cold nights — preferably below freezing — with cool, dry days. With or without sun, it doesn’t matter.

Sunset by the stone fence

Rain and temperature matter a lot. So does wind. A serious wind and rain event will strip the trees in a matter of hours. We’ve had some late summer hurricanes which eliminated all the leaves.

Pick your favorite

Early snow also kills the leaves. We’ve had snow as early as the beginning of September. It makes an ugly mess. Because the leaves are still on the trees, branches and sometimes big trees break under the weight of wet and icy snow.

Photo-Garry Armstrong

I don’t think we’re getting early snow! They just said we might get a hard frost on Friday after an 80 degree (70 Celsius) daytime temperature.

So I’m hoping for better, but I recognize the first major loss to our very local climate might be Autumn. I wouldn’t mind losing spring, which is really just a lot of slushy snow, melting ice, and sucking mud.


AND NOW FOR THE QUESTIONS  OF THE WEEK:


Earlier this week Rory asked a question that I found so interesting, I thought I’d share it.  Another question, similar to this one was asked in August.

If confronted with a violent crime against a single individual in progress (severe beating, rape, assault) do you try to do something about it (phone authorities or confront the criminal, stop the crime) or do you figure it’s none of your business and walk or drive on by?  Worse (to me) would you record the crime for social media use without doing anything else? 

I can’t imagine NOT getting involved. I know I’m not exactly at the peak of my physical powers, but a well-placed rock or whack on the head can at minimally cause enough distraction to get cops on the scene. And there’s always trying to knock someone over with your car.

But I would have to do something. I would never live it down.


Okay now we got the heavy stuff out of the way, let’s get to some less stressful questions.

If someone asked to be your apprentice and learn all that you know, what would you teach them?

I’ve been a writing teacher. You can’t teach someone to write. You can teach someone to write better. You can teach them ways to make their sentences less awkward and easier to understand. To clarify writing. To explain the point of putting “who, what, where, why, and when” at the beginning of a post rather than buried within it.

In the end, if you have a talent for writing, you will find a way to write. I can help, but the ability needs to be there. And you need more than mere talent. You need the will and tenacity to stick with it even when it isn’t going well and in the current market, it can be a long time between writing something brilliant and getting it published and in a market where people will see it and read it.

William Strunk Jr. was a professor of English at Cornell University and, together with E.B. White, author of The Elements of Style (1918).

Talent, time, tenacity — plus a reasonable idea of the kind of writing you would like to do. Fiction? Poetry? News? Technical documents? Most people, especially young ones, think it’s all about fiction, but as far as writing for a living goes, most of the ways you earn a living as a writer will be in some kind of non-fiction.

First, think of a product. What would be the absolute worst brand name for one of those products?

I’m blank on this. Maybe I’ll think of something later, but right now? It’s a completely empty space. It’s been that kind of day.

What ridiculous and untrue, yet slightly plausible, theories can you come up with for the cause of common ailments like headaches or cavities?

Cavities are caused by very tiny pixies who climb into your mouth while you sleep and drill holes in your mouth. They have larger cousins who hide your underwear.

WORLD SHARING AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 9-16-19

Fall is beginning to show up and we’re supposed to get a couple of cold nights. If it doesn’t start to rain nonstop, maybe we WILL get a little bit of Autumn. It would be nice. it’s my best season and the most photogenic. Lots of trees, lots of maples. Mucho color!

Are we losing the art of listening in comparison to simply hearing?

There is a time to seriously listen and times to be quiet and let the noise of the world fade to silence. Garry and I spent thousands of hours talking in the many years we courted without getting around to marrying. We still do, as long as one of us isn’t seriously reading, watching baseball, writing, or editing.

Garry and me – Thank you Rich!

These are private times and interrupting a writer in the middle of creating is a no-no.

As for “just hearing”?  If it’s chit-chat, I don’t listen or at least don’t listen much. I also don’t listen to most television shows. It has to be worth listening to before I bother to pay attention. I spend a LOT of time writing, editing, photo processing, and reading. Not much time left over.

How often do you openly discuss with friends or here in WP with your readership topics that make you feel uncomfortable or might be taboo or stigma-laden?

We discuss pretty much everything when we are in the mood. Not all the time. The noise would drive us all crazy. We are full of ideas, but sometimes the world also needs quiet and a little peace.

We argue about the existence of God, whether or not we have souls, and which version of Star Trek is the best (ORVILLE!!).

Republican talking points are off the table. Probably permanently.

Do you think that these discussions should be freely discussed and written about more?

What subjects? Which discussions?

Did you have a nickname as a child and if so, what was (or what is it now)?

No nickname. Wanted one. Nothing fit.

Why is there still ‘stuff’ we simply just don’t understand despite our progressive world?

Because there is a LOT of stuff and we’ll never know ALL of it.

Meanwhile, most of us pay little attention to anything scientific or technological. If they discovered some amazing and complicated body in space and it ran on page 23 in the New York Times, how many of us would ever read it, much less understand it?

About the stuff we already know, most of us understand very little and care less. We use it. We know how to plug it in and turn it on, but how does it work? I love the old grandparents who don’t know anything about computers while their wise children tell them the basics.

My granddaughter knows how to turn on her computer, use what she needs, and turn it off. If ANYTHING goes wrong, it’s: “Gramma, I have a problem.”

Thus we believe “using a computer” means being able to turn it on, enter a password, and using a mouse. We have no idea what is going on behind the GUI or what WYSISYG means. I’m not going to be making any fabulous new discoveries because I’d rather reread a Terry Pratchett novel.

How many people understand how these basic items work?

At least we are creative. If you don’t do physics or math, creativity IS discovery.

So. Summing up. With all the stuff going on, the vast majority of human beings are not involved in making new discoveries. I could literally be staring at the latest, greatest Truth of the Universe — and I would probably flip the channel. We aren’t discoverers because most of us don’t have the skill-set, education, or interest. We spend our time messing with cell phones, tweeting, or watching cat videos on YouTube.

I find it comforting that we are stupid by choice rather than via inheritance.

What is your most essential kitchen tool?

Coffee maker and we just (finally) got a new one. I totally love it. Gotta have the brew. That probably means I also need the fridge because where else can I keep the half-and-half?

Who is one blogger you really admire and why?

I admire many people for various reasons and even if this were a competition, they are each so unique, I couldn’t possibly pick one. I’m not even sure I could pick a whole slate of candidates.

Would you rather double your height or lose half your weight?  (In response to last week’s double your weight, half your height query). 

So would I rather be 10 feet 3 inches tall or weigh 80 pounds? Really?

SHARING THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Welcome to Share Your World for the week of October 15th!   This week’s questions include some food, some whimsy, something opinion-based and one, just because.

Share Your World  10-15-18 Questions:


What’s the biggest screw up in the kitchen that you were responsible for?

So many, I can’t even begin to list them. Before I learned to really cook, the number of inedible meals I produced makes me shutter.

Now seriously, does anyone have just ONE kitchen disaster? Aren’t there at the very least, a series of them until either (a) you get it together with the cooking thing, or (b) you realized you will never get it together and go entirely to frozen things you can cook in the mini-oven or microwave?

Gingerbread

My mother moved to “If you are that hungry, cook it yourself,” and considering her cooking, we made it ourselves. Even when we were kids, it was better to do it ourselves. She was a truly appalling cook.

What, in your opinion, makes people believe absurd conspiracy theories?

Too many hours of watching Fox News. And being Republican.

In 40 years what will people be nostalgic for?

An earth to live on.

Is a hot dog a sandwich? 

Meat between bread? Why not? I think these days, they call it a “roll” because it’s in a bun.

What wonderful thing happened to you this week that you’d like to share?  It can be a gratitude moment or something that just made you feel very happy at the time or made you laugh.

It was not a laughing sort of week. Sorry.

SHARING MY WORLD THIS WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 10-8-18

The Questions This Week: 

Do you prefer Apple (‘I’ products) or Android for your technology ‘fix’?   

I work primarily on a PC. I like the organization and I also appreciate the huge amounts of functional software I can get for it. I have an android (Samsung) phone which I use when I need it (not often) and three Kindles (probably more like five — a think a couple are just buried somewhere) which I use to read and listen to audio books and sometimes, to watch a movie. Mostly to read or listen.

I also have an “air” Mac. I bought it so I’d have something a bit less weighty to haul with me when I travel. I don’t do much with it, at least in part because finding decent graphics applications has turned out to be much harder than it should be. I won’t “rent” Photoshop and my disks won’t run on a Mac. I got a program for it, but haven’t gotten around to installing it and I’m sure I’ll be sorry about that in due course.

As for music? I have a CD/radio player because we have quite a few CDs. We also have a lot of DVDs and we watch them, too. I’m not a wild fan of “the cloud.” I can’t tell you how many times having something downloaded has made it possible to listen or watch or read — without cable being involved. It’s very freeing.

I like having parts of my life NOT connected to wi-fi. I’ve worked with computers enough to know what they are good for … and what they are not good for and I certainly don’t want one running my entire life!

What’s something on your personal bucket list? 

Don’t have a bucket list.

What would you name your boat if you had one?   The Unsinkable 3? The Please Don’t Sink? Your choice! Also, what would it look like? Do you want a motor yacht, a sailboat, or perhaps a dinghy?

I had a boat. A 16-foot centerboard sailboat built originally to race but used by us mostly to drift through channels on Long Island’s south shore.

We named it “Gwaihir,” the Wind Lord (eagle) from Lord of the Rings. Kind of a big name for such a small boat 😀

Which fictional character would be the most boring to meet in real life? 

Anyone from a Jane Austen novel. I am not a fan.

What brought gratitude, a smile or laughter to your life this week?

Getting out to take photographs on the only sunny day of the week AND discovering that Garry can hear!

ONE PIECE AT A TIME – SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Sharing My World – One piece at a time!


What’s your go-to for unwinding after a stressful event or day?   Can be someone or something – music, pets, family or whatever you choose.

Sofa, dogs, and dinner plus something funny to watch on television while trying not to do anything at all for at last an hour.

I usually manage half an hour, but that will usually do!

The plane you’re flying in is going to crash, no survivors.  If you had one song you could listen to before it happens, what would it be?  (credit to NewEpicAuthor for this one).  Please share the link to the song if you can.

No comment. I don’t do life-ending stuff. Too close for comfort with way too many people around us who have life-ending cancer and other diseases.

What is one thing you’re really, really good at and not ashamed to admit it?  I worded that deliberately because aren’t we taught to be humble and not pushy about our achievements?  Celebrate your ability!

I write well. It’s the only thing I ever wanted to be really good at.

I’m not going to make the National Archives, but I’ve been read and some people enjoyed it. That will do nicely.

Would you rather lose all of your money and valuables or all of the pictures you have ever taken?

I have no money to lose. We have no money.

Meanwhile, my pictures are all over the internet so I couldn’t lose them if I tried. The virtual world is forever, like it or not. I wish money were forever too.

What were you grateful for or something that made you smile during the past month?

We got some really nice photographs in two different locations. Both rivers and dams because that’s what we have around here. It’s very gray and kind of dark today, so rain is looking likely.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Autumn is considering arriving but so far, only has one foot in the door. I think during the next week, it’s going to pop. My cameras are ready!

SHARING MY WORLD AGAIN – AND IT’S PRIMARY ELECTION DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

So Melanie, over at Sparks From a Combustible Mind, has taken over the weekly Share Your World prompt from Cee Neuner. Here is the first of Melanie’s SYW prompts.


When you are old, what do you think children will ask you to tell stories about?   If you are ‘old’ (a term with different meanings for everyone); what stories do you tell your grandchildren?

They don’t ask me to tell stories. First, they read my book, so they know as many stories as they want to know.

Second, they are much more inclined to ask for information. About how various applications work. How to fix something. Recipes.


When did something start out badly for you but in the end, it was great?

I really can’t think of anything in particular. Most things didn’t start out badly. They started out … well … without much of a fuss. Then stuff got more serious and things got a bit (or a lot) bumpy. Real life isn’t so clean and neat as “start off bad, end good.”

More like “start off casually, eventually  gets serious.”

I can’t think of anything that specifically started out badly, but ended much better. Many things started slowly, but rarely badly because if it started poorly, I would not have pursued it.

What do you think you are much better at than you actually are?  Maybe this one’s kinda mean…thoughts?  

I don’t think I’m better at anything than I am, but other people think I’m a lot better at things than I am. They think I’m a great proofreader (no, really I’m not). And a much better photographer than I am.

Nearly perfect daylily

I have good moments, but overall, while I have a good eye, I’m not close to great. I simply don’t try hard enough to be that good.

Little girls and short dock into the river

It’s a decision I made. This is my hobby and I am not going to turn it into work. I have a tendency to turn everything into work. That bit of OCD in me usually forces me to try to be my best at everything. I am that way with writing, but I have not gone that way with photography. I’m happy when a picture comes out the way I intended, but there’s a limit to how hard I’ll fight to make it that way.

What would be the worst thing to hear as you are going under anesthesia before surgery?

“What do you mean you don’t have the … ” (fade to black) …

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

Our newly mown lawn!

Owen cut both the back AND front lawns. Otherwise, I really haven’t felt well and have had a hard time making it through the day. But I did get the bathroom cleaned and the rug vacuumed.

And the covers changed on the sofas. This morning, I was running a fever so I suppose I’m not just tired, I’m probably also sick. Not sick enough to go to a doctor. Yet.



Anyway, I feel I should mention to my fellow Massachusettsians (is that a word?) that tomorrow is Primary election day. Since Garry and I are both registered Democrats, it’s not as huge an issue for us as it is for Independents and Republicans. We know what we want, but you guys need to seriously consider what you want this country to become. If you don’t vote or throw your vote away, I don’t want to hear about how your life sucks. Not one single word.

Friends or family, please vote. And please use all your brains when you do.