If you have been following us at SERENDIPITY, then you have already seen many pictures taken in and around Uxbridge, MA by Marilyn and Garry Armstrong. Recently I had the good fortune of making a visit there. I took the flight to Boston and travelled about an hour down to Uxbridge. This was my first time visiting Marilyn and Garry, so we got a lot of pictures. The weather did not cooperate with us, but we are hardy souls and ventured out when time allowed.
You will notice I am not the accomplished photographer that they are. Nevertheless, I will share some of my pictures with you. If you want to read more about this adventure, head over to SERENDIPITY today, right HERE. Click on any picture below for the larger version and then arrow through the gallery.
Today is another doctor visit, the follow-up to the follow-up of the tests which were the follow-up to the original meeting — and all the other tests. None of which have provided any significant information. But she is the best-looking neurologist Garry has ever met and he would be terribly disappointed to miss this appointment.
You know how the doctors on television shows have these smashingly gorgeous physicians? She is one of them. Ready for television now — without extra makeup.
It’s probably worth the $40 copay to watch Garry enjoy the view.
But this isn’t about our humdrum doctor’s visit. No, this is about the overwrought traffic sign we have in the middle of Uxbridge.
Remember that we are a one road town. Two lanes, one in each direction. There is a crossroad, though the two ends of it are about a block apart. I’m sure someone knows why, but I am not one of them.
Recently, the decision was made that what we really need to spruce up little old Uxbridge was an especially complicated pedestrian crossing sign. It’s so long, I doubt anyone has read it except us because Garry took a picture of it. This morning, looking at the picture of it again, I wondered where the town got it and how much it cost.
It took me four different traffic sign companies before I found it, but I did. I am relentless in the pursuit of trivia. If that isn’t humdrum, I just don’t know what is.
It was not even expensive, so I still don’t know what they do with our tax money, other than repaving the same section of Main Street every year for the past 19 years. Maybe it’s trying to figure out what’s wrong with the town water.
It’s gray, rainy, cold and the world is made of mud. No hope of flowers because it still feels like the end of winter.
Then, suddenly, the sun appears and you get a couple of warm day and the world explodes in color. Breathtaking barely describes it. It’s like a new world, a new planet. The sky is blue, the birds are singing. Of course, the squirrels are still eating all the seeds, but the lawn got mowed, the dead bushes are gone, there’s a tall fence to keep Duke in the yard where he belongs … for today, at least, the world is just perfect.
Garry went out and took pictures yesterday. Me too. I got serious about birds. He got serious about Uxbridge. There are so many pictures, I have barely had time to scrape along the edges of the more than 200 pictures from just yesterday. Call this “Breathtaking Sample 1” with more to follow!
From Garry Armstrong, the village and neighborhood:
From Marilyn Armstrong, more birds and a squirrel.
You really get a feel for rivers when you live in a regional watershed. The Blackstone and its tributaries flow down from the Worcester hills at the northern part of the state.
The Blackstone is not a wide river. Not like the Mississippi or even the Hudson. It’s a relatively narrow river that drops about 900 feet from its beginnings. It does a lot of twisting and turning, making it much more powerful than its size would suggest.
It concludes its nearly 50-mile run as it flows into the sea down around Newport, Rhode Island. All the dams were built to power factories and mills, which is why every town in the valley is called “mill” something — or has the name of one of the mill owners.
Uxbridge is unique. We are named after Uxbridge in England. That’s our twin town, though it’s nothing like our Uxbridge. England’s Uxbridge is an affluent suburb of London. We’re not an affluent anything.
The problem with the dams is they block the river and make it hard for wildlife to move up and down the river and many people want to get rid of the dams.
Because this region was the “birthplace” of America’s industrial revolution (1788), most of the earth used to build the dams is hazardous. It’s amazing how much pollution we created in the good old days, before the chemical revolution. We made things every bit as poisonous as we do today.
So although they would like to release the dams, they can’t. That hazardous dirt would poison the river. The 45 years we’ve spent cleaning up one of the most polluted rivers in the world (as of the 1970s) would be undone. Instantly.
We are — in 2019 — more or less the poor cousin to other towns in New England, but once upon a time, this was the most prosperous area in the country. Uxbridge had a population and stuff like trains, buses, and businesses.
In the early 1900s, mill owners decided they weren’t rich enough. So they moved down south to where cotton grew and where people worked cheap. By the 1920s, they had closed all the factories in New England.
The south got the mills, the dams, and the pollution. Then, they realized they were rich, but not rich enough, so they said “Screw the USA” and moved the mills to the far east where people were willing to work for pennies, including children as young as four or five.
Suddenly, all the modestly priced cotton sheets we used to buy became expensive. Between moving the mills and fabric factories to another continent, they simultaneously realized it was also cheaper to buy the cotton there, too. Like, from India, Pakistan, Israel, and places in North Africa.
So it was and so it has remained.
It’s why you can’t find decent percale sheets anymore. The cotton they grow overseas is different than the cotton we grew. It’s finer and silkier, but not as strong or crisp.
To finish us off, we then banned immigrants from picking crops. The idea was that Americans would pick cotton once those brown-colored foreigners were gone. Instead, it turned out that no American of any color, race, or creed will pick cotton. The professional pickers are gone and so are the farms where cotton grew.
Americans will not pick cotton. Not only do we not do the job well, but we refuse to do it at all. Today’s Americans do not pick cotton. Not white, brown, black or any shade in between. We would rather starve.
John Grisham wrote a book about growing up in the south and picking cotton called “The Painted House.” It’s his little autobiography about before he became a lawyer, then an author. It’s enlightening.
David Baldacci has written something along the same lines about his native West Virginia and how it has been completely destroyed, its people uprooted and ruined. These lawyer-writers are interesting guys. They are more than lawyers, more than writers. They are thinkers.
These southern authors come in two varieties: racist and incredibly liberal.
This is a short note because I forgot, we have to be out of here most of the day. The exterminators are coming to do the interior, so we have to get the dogs outside and us out of the house too. We need to be gone for four hours. What we can do for four hours in Uxbridge will be interesting, but we have to be gone completely until the pesticides dry and are safe. Also, they need to set traps for mice. Spring is here, or at least the bugs and the mice are here.
Mice. Ants. Whatever else crawls or scuttles. After which it dries and is safe for pets and their people.
Excuse this whole week.
For that matter, forgive me the entire month. It has been nothing but doctor’s visits, follow-ups, and shopping for something or other.
Meanwhile, Garry had a small “piece” of something removed from his face. I (and the doctor) think it’s nothing, but it’s ugly and it changed color, so it was time for the dermatologist. We’re supposed to get a callback today on results, but it might be Monday since we will be somewhere in Uxbridge, counting the hours and minutes.
We got a new set of birds: the Brown-headed Cowbirds. A pair of them. They are surprisingly tame, which is apparently typical of them. They don’t usually live in oak woods, but they do like feeders. Anyway, the most interesting thing about them is they do NOT build their own nests. Ever. They are nest stealers. And they are pretty large birds, especially compared to the Finches, Titmouse, and Chickadees, all of whom are little feathery fluffers.
I think maybe we’ll go back to Caroline’s Cannabis shop. I want to see if I can take some better pictures. The ones I got are mediocre at best. Maybe I can stop at Hannaford and find something interesting for dinner too.
I have a piece coming on the shop as soon as I like the pictures.
Meanwhile, in a determined effort to make some money in this quaint, but poverty-struck town, Uxbridge has voted “yes” on the very first “drive through” pot shop in Massachusetts. I don’t know if there are any other places with drive-through shops, but this town needs money. Badly. They are taking an extra 10% in town taxes on top of the 20% the state is already taking. It’s cheaper to buy it off the street. A lot cheaper. My son pointed out that when the dope sellers saw the prices in the shops, they just dropped their prices.
Everyone on the waiting line at the pot shop thought they should also open a bakery. Cupcakes would be a nice touch, but meanwhile, Hannaford is getting some extra business.
Competition is good for business.
They also have the most interesting blown-glass bongs I’ve ever seen. I might buy one because they are lovely.
So I hope you will condone my absence. We are pretty much out of time. They were supposed to come later, but there were cancellations and earlier is definitely better for us AND the dogs.
I’ll try to get to comments this evening after dinner. And maybe some pictures. The dam in town is gorgeous, almost at flood stage.
I’m in the kitchen, periodically peeking out the window. There was a big Cardinal out there, but when I picked up my camera, he vanished. I hoped he would come back. Meanwhile, I got some nice squirrel pictures.
Meanwhile, I was slowly cooking canna-butter. Did I add too much water? I hope not. At least I got the temperature right. My new telephone arrived, though I haven’t had the energy to open the package yet. Tomorrow. I’m deep into canna-butter today.
They announced on the news last night that Uxbridge is getting its own pot shop, the third in the state.
A pot shop.
A legal pot shop.
And here I am, brewing canna-butter and really hoping it will help with sleep and pain and if it doesn’t fix the pain and the sleep, maybe it’ll improve the quality of my English muffins with my coffee in the morning.
I never imagined this day would come where I would be legally cooking pot for the legal purpose of using it medicinally. Of course, I never expected to find myself needing it medicinally either. You win some, you lose some.
The sun came out and the birds are knocking each other off the feeder. I swear they are playing.
It’s warm out. A lot warmer than February 8th should be, but right now, I’m okay. Wondering what exactly I’m supposed to do with the canna-butter after it’s fully prepared. So far, toast is as far as I’ve gotten with it.
The sky is finally blue and I got some good shots of a squirrel chowing down in the flat feeder this morning. To get squirrels, I have to get up earlier. It’s the only answer. They don’t linger around much past 9 in the morning and that’s on the late side for them.
A pot shop in Uxbridge will be interesting for our one-horse, single-road, Main Street village. They will come from miles around. I’m pretty sure business will pick up. I hope so. Aside from being cool, it will be a massive inconvenience.
At least the fresh donuts will sell better — not like they don’t sell now.
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