Thursday, January 18, 2018

Just Another Word?

I come from a generation where uttering a certain four letter word beginning with "f" and ending with "k" would earn you instant punishment from your parents, if you were a youngster.

This scene from one of my favorite Christmas movies, A Christmas Story, had a lot of truth in it.

If you were older, you knew better than to say that word in front of your parents, although you might use it a lot among your friends.

Now, it's everywhere  Is it just me, or do you feel sad to see the word formerly known as the "F" word demoted to just ordinary usage?

Recently, I was in a gift shop, and saw a display of socks.  I like unusual socks, but these were too unusual for me.  Each had a quote using the "F" word. 

Not only that, but that word is the newest word in the cookbook vocabulary.

Take, for example, the best seller "Thug Kitchen".  "Eat like you give a "f----!" the cover boasts.

Or, better yet, "What the F---Should I Make for Dinner?"  (I kid you not).

We need words for occasions like that, I believe - forbidden words that help us deal with pain or frustration.

It makes me wonder what word future generations will use when they hit their finger with a hammer.  Or get a flat tire (see video above)?  The "F" word is less and less taboo each day.  One day, it will totally lose its power.

Perhaps, as part of a sustainable lifestyle, we should be thinking more about gratitude, especially on a day like today.  Protests are occuring all over the country, and our minds turn to the future.

So maybe we need a light topic on today, which is turning out for many to be anything but light.

Any idea what word will take the place of the "F" word on the day it becomes just another word?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Winter Wonders - Escaping Winter

Two weeks ago I had blogged about our first vacation with our now grown son since 2006.  Today, I'd like to share part of that trip with you.

In 2006, it had been 30 years since I last set foot in Florida.

Now it was time to go back.

How much had things changed since I lived in Tampa, Florida between 1974 and 1976?

I remember a lot about what is now called "old Florida" from living there, and from visits in 1966, 1969 and 1972 as a teenager. I remember Busch Gardens in Tampa when it was a free brewery tour followed by a free trained parrot show. I remember Disney World when it first opened (my first visit was 10 months, I believe, after its opening) before you needed a bank loan to visit.

So how did I prepare for this nostalgic visit? By researching it to death. I discovered various Tampa landmarks of my years there were gone-Mirabella's, Maas Brothers - and others had been bought up or had name changes. The Tampa skyline definitely was not what it was (or, more like it, what it was not) back in 1976. But absolutely nothing prepared me for what was to come.

And to get to Florida?  I am scared of flying (a long story).

I remembered seeing ads for the Auto Train in the early 1970's when I still lived in New York City.  It still existed.  So we booked it, myself, my spouse and my 16 year old son, and our 1999 Altima.
Lorton Auto Train terminal, March 2013

Once the train pulled out of the station in Lorton, Virginia, there was the amazing sense of getting ready to complete a journey that had started in 1966. Forty years earlier, an Atlantic Coast Line train had brought me home from Tampa, Florida during an airplane strike. Now, in a way, I was taking the return train.

In Fredericksburg, Virginia, we passed near Civil War battlefields we had visited years ago. At Quantico, we went right through the marine base and watched helicopters in flight. We passed over a beautiful lake and had close up views of the countryside. In Richmond, Virginia, we passed so close to a highway we could see the faces of drivers heading in the opposite direction. It was so tempting to wave!
A train (not the Auto Train) traveling through Ashland, VA, April 2017

We passed people going home for their supper hour. In one town (Ashland, Virginia) we passed right down the middle of their main street, with driveways backing right into the path of the train.

Even after darkness fell,  I peered out the window every time lights and the start of whistle blowing announced a town. We passed through southern North Carolina as I fell into a fitful sleep. The train seemed to speed up. When a train passed in another direction it felt as if the train would rock right off its tracks.

Finally, we pulled into a well lit station - our one stop, to change crews and do maintenance only: Florence, South Carolina. We stayed there a while, and then traveled on.

At some point I woke up in time to see a huge, well lit billboard for a Crab Shack on Tybee Island and didn't know if it was part of a dream or not. (See blog post from yesterday-it was not a dream).

The next thing I knew, it was 6am and time for breakfast. We were traveling through southern Georgia.

As darkness made way to light, my son and I gazed upon a southern green scape. What a feeling it was to share this with my son, pointing out the southern vegetation and  landmarks as we came across them. How awesome is it to share a piece of your life with your teenage son?

The sun was already high in the sky as we crossed over the St. Mary's River into Florida. It glared down with the promise of a broiling August Florida day. After breakfast, we slowly wound through Jacksonville, Florida.  Jacksonville is the largest city (in area) in the United States and the Auto Train gives a very good view, taking a good 20 minutes to pass through.
Frost on grass near Jacksonville, Florida, March 2013
To my delight I saw names I had not seen in 30 years...Kash and Karry, Winn-Dixie. They had survived the 31 years since I had been last in Jacksonville.

South of Jacksonville, we saw many shade houses, and the conductor announced these were fern growing areas. Certainly nothing you would have seen from the Interstate.

Finally we got to Sanford, and the circle started in 1966 was complete.

Fast forward to August 2017, when we traveled together (perhaps for the last time), and I asked my son if he remembered the trip to Florida.  He did, and said he wouldn't mind traveling on the Auto Train again. 

I hope he does!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Alligators and Crab Shacks - FlavoursomeTuesdays

In 2006, my spouse and I rode the Auto Train for the first time. (The Auto Train is a train that runs from Northern Virginia to Central Florida, and vice-versa, not making any passenger stops.  To ride it, you must have a car, which travels on the same train.  It's the only such train in the United States).

I've never slept well on the Auto Train, and something happened on that first trip that has become a tradition.

I woke up from a fitful sleep to realize we were traveling through a city.  We were passing under an Interstate, and some large billboards were visible.  One billboard, lit up, advertised "The Crab Shack. Tybee Island."

I didn't have Internet access on that trip and had never heard of Tybee Island. But I researched it as soon as I could and found it was an island close to Savannah, Georgia.

In March of 2009 spouse and I traveled on the Auto Train again.  I woke up from a fitful sleep, and as my spouse softly snored next to me, I peeked out of the window and saw the very same sign.

It was a sign, that sign!  I was being told to eat at the Crab Shack.

We were supposed to drive through Savannah on the way home but had car trouble, and had to take the Auto Train home.  We swore we would visit Savannah and we subsequently did, but didn't eat at the Crab Shack.

In March of 2013 we rode the Auto Train still again.  This time, we both woke up as we were traveling through Savannah, and my spouse spotted the sign even before I did.  Marveling at this huge (to our sleep-bleary eyes) sign, we decided that yes, we would go to the Crab Shack.  We would fill in this hole in our travels.

And so we did.
From the outside, it looks like a "tourist trap".  But the food (noting I do not get compensated for this or any other review) was good.  My spouse still remembers their soup.
Inside, I noticed the restaurant had open walls to the outside - with only a screen between diners and the great outdoors.  If only I could live in a place like that, said my winter-starved inner voice.
Not so fast, said reality, as I saw movement outside the screened in wall.  Can you see what I saw?

After lunch we went outside, to see some of the 78 alligators the Crab Shack owned. These are all domestic, as in "born in captivity".  The Shack does not tolerate any abuse of the gators by customers, but they were easily accessible (if someone dared) and I hope they have good lives.
Up close, they almost look fake - but they certainly were not fake.

Here's their menu.

So, guess what.  This month we are hopefully riding the Auto Train for the first time since 2013.

 I wonder if we will see the sign again?

Join Bellybytes at Mumbai on a High and Shilpa Gupte at Metanoia for #FlavoursomeTuesdays. If you want to share a food related memory, why not join us?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day January 2018

What a January it has been, in my zone 5b garden and home in upstate New York, near Binghamton.

Some of the plants I brought in when frost beckoned are still going, such as this pink begonia.

Or this Calibrachoa.

As far as houseplants, about all I have are my Thanksgiving cacti, still going strong.

For a few days, we had been fooled by Mother Nature.  But the ice and snow and soon to be below zero temperatures are back.

Would you like to see my front yard?

And here's my back yard.

My garden sleeps on.

If you are looking for Music Moves Me, I will be participating next Monday.   But in the meantime, if you are looking for a song mentioning colors and flowers, how about this - Roses are Red, as sung by Bobby Vinton.

Ah, summer........

Thank you again for Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this monthly meme.  Come join us every 15th of the month to show what is blooming in our yards and homes.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Return of Winter

Winter is back, after a short break, in upstate New York. 

We were lulled into thinking it was springtime for about three days.  For a brief moment, we were happy.

Friday, it got to 66 F (18.8 C) around lunchtime. 

Then, reality intruded.  Rudely.

This is what resulted.  We are fortunate in comparison with other parts of upstate New York, cut it is a bit slippery out there and I never left my house yesterday.

More pictures tomorrow, when I participate in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

This will probably be my last post for the Ultimate Blog Challenge, January edition.  I am leaving the Challenge early as I have not had the time to properly read/comment on new blogs and old favorites.  I will still be posting daily, at least for the next week, but many of these posts are either "reruns" or prewritten posts.

I hope you have enjoyed what you have seen, and if I have not been able to respond to your visit or comment, I apologize.

While I am here I want to thank Paul Taubman for all he does to keep the UBC a well run challenge.

I hope to "see" some of you in April, and some even sooner.  If I am able to rejoin before the end of the Challenge on January 31, I will.

Day 14 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sustainable Saturday - The Dutch Falling Cure

Do the Dutch have the cure for elders falling and hurting themselves?

A fellow blogger, Roy, has become a blogging "friend" of mine. (I hope he doesn't mind me calling him a blogging "friend").  Some of his posts are a bit over my head (sorry, Roy!) especially the tax posts (he is an experienced Enrolled Agent) and some of the scientific ones.  But recently, he sent me a Facebook message about a New York Times article.

This article is about how the Dutch are facing a rising population of those over 65, many of whom find themselves living alone in their golden years.  Many, in general, are at risk of falling.  Reasons vary from age to inactivity to the use of certain medications (I, for one, suspect a medication I take, and it is one I need, also is leading to balance problems).

My spouse fell in October (and is still undergoing physical therapy).  My mother in law has endured many falls.  Falls kill.  Falls injure and lead to decline.  If someone could find a cure for falling, that person would win the Nobel Prize in a heartbeat.

But what do we do until then?

The Dutch may have the answer.  And it's an intriguing one.

Falling classes.

Not falls prevention classes (I've taken one, by the way, and it was excellent.  I still do the exercises).  No, these are actual "How to fall" classes.  The class typically meets twice a week.  In one session, the seniors walk an obstacle course.  In the other session, they fall, in supervised ways, onto mats (not at first.  They work their way up to falling.  It would terrify me, for one, having survived several falls already at age 65).

They learn exercises to strengthen themselves, and simple home modifications, which my falls prevention class also touched on. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful to lose the fear of falling?

Some of the falling posts on my blog - you are welcome to check them out.  Here is one:
Did my Falls Prevention class work?

Day 13 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Friday, January 12, 2018

January Sunrise - Skywatch Friday

Taken at sunrise, January 11.

The snow is melting.  Right now it is 58 degrees F (14.4 C) with heavy rain and we are under a flood watch.

The sunrise progresses.

Beautiful purples.

At this point, regretfully, I could no longer take pictures.  So this last picture is from about 15 minutes later, in downtown Binghamton, New York.

Join the bloggers of #SkywatchFriday as we take pictures of the sky from all over the world and share them.

Day 12 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost