Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Fallout from Falling Friday - and a Senior Moment

On June 17, I posted about a fall I took while exercise walking on the West Side of Binghamton, NY. (I'm about 99% healed, and I thank everyone who commented on the fall - I appreciated your support.

What I didn't know at the time is that two other people I know fell the same day, which I had called "Falling Friday".  I didn't know about either incident at the time I made the post.  An acquaintance fell in downtown Binghamton (and then had to drive to North Carolina, which her husband did while she spent the trip with her ankle iced and elevated.)  The other person was the 90 plus year old mother of a very good friend.  She had a dizzy spell and fell into a china cabinet, breaking the glass.  She spent two days in the hospital and was released.  The doctor thought it was medication prescribed her after a value replacement.

So when I read this article written by a medical blogger, I got scared. I got really scared, because there are other elderly people in my life.  Like a 99 year old aunt in law, and my mother in law, who is in her 80's.  Thank you. Laura Newman, for writing this very important article. 

Do you have an elderly family member you care for? Or care about?  A friend?  Someone's friend?  Please read this article.  The life it saves may be your loved one's.

After all, how many of our elderly live their lives without taking medication?  Very few.  Yes, medication can be lifesaving.  I have a medical condition for which I take medication and I can also tell you that without modern medicine, I would not now be alive.  I suspect some of you reading this post could also make this statement.  Modern medicine can be a miracle.

Or, it can kill.  At least, the improper practice of it can kill.  Like fire, modern medicine has two "sides".

So again, please read the article.

Please educate yourself about the risks of overmedication, especially in the elderly.

Not that long ago, my husband took a AARP driver course (in NY, it allows for a credit on your car insurance).  One of the things the course covered was the fact that, in the elderly, medicine can work differently than in younger people.  It can cause some very serious side effects.  So, please take this article very seriously.

Now, what about the "senior moment" in my title?  When I think about how modern medicine can kill when not used properly, I take a moment and think about my spouse's 99 year old aunt.  She is so stooped over it is painful to watch her walk.  But her memory is sharp.  Her wit is intact.  She is a joy to be with when she visits my mother in law and we can spend time with her.  She lives with her son, still does cooking and housework, and loves to socialize with family.  Until the past 3 or 4 years, I am not sure she ever spent a day sick in the hospital.  I am so happy to be able to spend this moment thinking of her.

Oh yes, there is one other thing.

She is not on any medication.  She enjoys "spring tonics" and follows (much of the time) a vegetarian diet.  She loves life.  If she lives into next January, she will welcome her 100th year.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday - Late June Mysteries

Our wetter than normal summer continues in the Southern Tier of upstate New York, and the wildflowers are abundant.

Today, I am going to ask for the help of you, my reader.

This first picture was taken last year on the Vestal Rail trail.  My wildflower "expert" friend told me what this is-and now I can't find the email.  Possible Echium vulgare?  I don't think that's what my friend told me.  Your guess is as good as mine.

This next one, also on the Vestal Rail Trail (our local rail to trail) I think I do know.  It's milkweed, precious to a lot more insects than monarch butterflies.  It isn't quite in bloom yet.

This next one, disappointingly, came out so blurry it's hard to see.  It was sunny, and it was one of those "point and pray" shots where you don't know if your picture came out.   I tried looking at a very nice guide of blue wildflowers, and can't figure out what this is.  There are a couple in the lower left hand corner that are small, but less blurry.  I almost didn't post this, but maybe someone can help me out.

And finally, there isn't much scale here, but these are much smaller than daisies.  My guess was some kind of aster, but I think it is too early in the year.

One think I am learning in my quest to learn about wildflowers is....there are an awful lot of them to learn.  And another thing I'm learning is, I really need to take less blurry photos.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Budget Cuts and Autism

As some readers of this blog know, I have a brother in law with a developmental disability called autism.  He lives with his mother, about 150 miles from us.  His mother is in her 80's but wants my brother in law to continue to live with her.

My brother in law receives what is called "Medicaid Service Coordination" under something called the Home and Community Based Waiver.  He has worked at a sheltered workshop at the local "ARC" for many years.  The service coordinator is there to serve the disabled individual, to help him or her in many areas, and to be an advocate. 

My mother in law called today.  His Medicaid Service Coordinator is leaving her position because of health problems.  Tomorrow, my spouse will be calling her replacement.  We met her once but we don't know her well.

We know that budget cuts are coming to all government agencies, including those agencies which help individuals with developmental disabilities.   So, this isn't totally unexpected.   Hopefully tomorrow, we are going to find out just how bad it will be for his brother.  What we are especially concerned about is, first, his Medicaid (which he depends on for some of his medical/dental coverage and his service coordination), and second, what will be happening to housing programs here in NY.  My brother in law is on a waiting list-a very long waiting list-for housing.

It is not easy for families who have a disabled member.  My brother in law is verbal, but has a lot of difficulty with communication.  It is very difficult for him to deal with any kind of change.  He may only have a limited understanding of what is happening in his life-or he may understand a lot and may not be able to express it to us.  We just don't know.

He will never be able to live independently.  He is fortunate to have a family who loves him very much.  Not everyone in his shoes has this.

This is only the latest chapter in a very long story.

I have a feeling the news won't be good.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Helen Keller

Tonight, I'm feeling a bit "washed out".  I've been blogging for almost 2 months straight, and I am going to be participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge starting July 1.  So I am going to take a rest tonight and let another blogger do the heavy lifting.

Without this blog post, I would not have known today was Helen Keller's birthday.  Thank you, Angela and Tia of Depression Cookies, for reminding me.

Growing up in the 1950's, the story of Helen Keller made a very big impact on me, through The Miracle Worker.  I've never read any of her books.  I have wanted to visit her birthplace.

I've only been to Alabama once, for a few hours.  I hope to return one day, and the Helen Keller home will be on my list of places to visit.  How amazing, that the story of Helen Keller is still known.

I hope it is never forgotten.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Civil War Sunday - A Local Hero

Many times, in the Civil War, it was the generals who got the credit.  These generals are the people we remember:  Grant, Hooker, Lee, Early, Jackson, Custer, and so many more.

In a small way, I would like to remember someone, someone I suspect few people in this area know about.  He was a man born in Scotland, who fought with the 137th NY Infantry regiment, a local Binghamton infantry regiment- Colonel David Ireland.

How did I find out about Colonel Ireland?  No, not from a monument in the center of the city of Binghamton, because he doesn't have one. No, rather, there is a Civil War monument by the courthouse in downtown Binghamton, with the names of a lot of famous battles.

 I've always wanted to find out more.

I don't even know if he is taught in the schools here. (the Johnson City schools, though, did spend a lot of time on the Johnson family the village is named after).  No, what happened was:  I found a book in the New Books section of the Binghamton library: Faces of Fame and Glory, written by a local author-who grew up in Gettysburg, PA.  It's a pretty thick book, and is not meant for casual reading, but I highly recommend it.  It is written from letters written home by soldiers, and other source material.  I do not have that level of scholarship (far from it) so I will just try to summarize.

David Ireland was an immigrant from Scotland, who lived a while in New York City.  He seemed to be successful at whatever he tried, pre-Civil War.

David Ireland had already been in a militia regiment made up of immigrants.  After war broke out, it was mobilized.  Fighting with the 79th New York, he was at First Bull Run (First Manassas), and his leadership skills were recognized.  The future colonel was put to work training troops.  In the summer of 1862, he trained "his own" regiment:  the 137th NYSV.

The 137th trained at Camp Susquehanna, near the site of the present day Park Diner.

Colonel Ireland was one of these people who (like diarist Mary Chesnut) seemed to be in the "right place at the right time".  Until he wasn't.

He fought with the 79th New York at First Bull Run (First Manassas), whose 150th anniversary is coming up July 21st.  Later, with his own regiment, the 137th NY, he fought at Culp's Hill at Gettysburg July 2 and 3, 1863.   The 137th isn't given full credit by history, but it had a larger part in winning Gettysburg for the Federals than many people realize.  Gettysburg, PA was the "high water" mark of the Civil War, the furthest into Northern territory the Confederates were able to penetrate.

In one of the ironies that mark war, the 137th lost 137 men at Gettysburg.

After Gettysburg, Ireland went on leave, and got married., to a young lady from the prominent Phelps family.  They had no children.

Ireland fought in so many famous battles, I will not bore you with a listing, except when you realize the battles ranged from Virginia, to Pennsylvania, more Virginia, to Tennessee (where he fought at the Battle of Lookout Mountain, among other battles), and to Georgia with Sherman and the "march to the sea".

And, like many of the over 618,000 dead of the Civil War, he didn't die in battle.  He died in Atlanta (of disease) in 1864.

I suspect that if he had survived, he would have been quite a force in the post war history of the Southern Tier.

This is a photo of survivors of the 137th NY taken in 1914.

In an era where so many people didn't travel far from when they were born, that sounds like an amazing story.  Except, for the soldiers of the Civil War, it wasn't.  His story of travel through much of the then-Confederacy was not unique, and some historians believe that this experience led (in part) to our country becoming a world power.   These were not travels on interstates in his car.  These people saw and experienced their country.  (that is a story in itself, for perhaps another time.)

There are lot of Civil War sites on the Internet, and I invite you to visit them.  This has some very good information if anyone is interested in the role of New York soldiers during the Civil War

And what about Civil War sites in the Southern Tier?  There are a number, including the prisoner of war camp in Elmira, which I hope to make the subject of a future Civil War Sunday.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Like to Watch Them Putt

Golf.  It's a game so deceptively simple, and so hard to play.  It's a game that has the excitement of paint drying if you watch a tournament on TV, yet in person it has an almost Zen like quality.  (I'm not the only one who has connected Zen and golf, either.) 

It's golf tournament time in Endicott, NY.  The Dicks Sporting Goods open is back in town, featuring PGA Champion senior golfers (age 50 and above).  The lineup includes four Hall of Famers:  Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite and Nick Price.  Tom Kite was a past winner of the BC Open, back when we had a "regular" PGA tournament here in the Triple Cities.

In those days, no one ever gave away free tickets to the BC Open.

Fortunately for many of us, including those unemployed in the economy of the Triple Cities, the law firm of Hinman, Howard and Katell gave away free tickets for the second round last year, and again, this year.

Last year my spouse, who was part of the "golf is like watching paint dry" crowd (although he worked as a caddy when he was a young teen) didn't go, and I went with a friend.  This year, the friend was otherwise occupied, so spouse agreed to go with me.  I kept telling him "it isn't like that at all".  I don't know if he was convinced, but sometimes spouses do things for love.

This year, armed with the basics I learned last year plus spouse's commentary on the game as a former caddy knows it, I had a really good time.  This year, I watched the golfers putt and observed the various putters they used.  I was fortunate enough to get close to holes, and close to tee-offs, and compared drivers.  I observed how one golfer's clubs were covered by hand-knit covers.  Made by a loving wife, or daughter or son?

It was cool, in the 60's.  Birds sang.  The breeze felt good on us.  The sun occasionally peeked out of the clouds. The crowds, though growing, remained hushed except for applause or gasps, as a certain shot deserved.  Birds sang some more.  Flowers bloomed.  (Augusta National this is not, but there is some nice landscaping.)  There was lots and lots of walking.  One of the holes is almost 1/3 of a mile long, and this is not a flat walk, either.  Occasionally, flowery scents reached our noses.  People murmured.  Although they weren't permitted, an occasional cell phone announced a text message.  You could almost touch the silence.  It was pleasant.  Volunteers driving golf carts on the paths politely asked people to move to the side.  Other volunteers, enforcing quiet before shots, called out for walking spectators to "stand".  The golfers were polite, although one golfer was visibly upset when he missed a putt close to the hole. 

Tom Watson and Tom Kite both ended up in sand traps.  Both very nicely got their golf balls out and back onto the green. 

No pictures, as cameras were not allowed. (although, again, I saw some people taking pictures with cell phones.)  But, I did sneak a shot last year, and here it is:

(as an aside, many people aren't aware that Dick's Sporting Goods began in Binghamton.   Of course, like so many other employers:  they left.  Except for two stores.)

We left in the early afternoon, as we had to get to a farmers market before it closed (we had asked a vendor to hold something for us, forgetting all about the tournament.)  We won't be back later, or back for the 19th hole partying.  I want that Zen feeling to remain.  Golfffffffffff..........

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beautiful Fireflies

Call them fireflies, lightning bugs, lightning beetles...these light emitting insects have fascinated people for many years.

For some unknown reason, these insects have been a bit scarce around here in the past few years.  But not, apparently, this year.

Sometime after 9am, my spouse went outside into our front yard.  Lightning was flashing in the eastern sky and he wanted to see if a thunderstorm was coming. At this point the sun had set and it was getting dark.  He called for me to come outside and look.

Outside, in a flashing display, were fireflies.  A lot of them.  Dancing just above the grass.   I wonder if this was a mating dance.  They kept flying, kept flashing.  Entranced, we watched for a few minutes.

A few hours later, it started to rain.  And rain.  Some areas to the east flooded.  While so much of the country dries up, we have enough rain to share-if only we could.

I understand fireflies love moisture.  I also understand they hibernate over the winter as larve (glowworms).  Maybe they knew something none of us knew-that this is going to be a very wet summer.

Flashing on and off, while the lightning in the east flickered.

I wish so much I could have filmed it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Mystery Door and Cutler Botanic Gardens

I wanted to take a little time off because as of July 1, I am participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  31 posts in 31 days...or at least, 31 posts during the month of July.  Each must be at least 100 words. I am supposed to  also post on Twitter.  I'm supposed to visit other participants blogs (actually that is a very important part-after all, how can you learn without seeing what other people do, and interact with them?).  And try to do that every day.

Yes, it's a challenge!  And part of me also wants to squirrel away my material for the Challenge.

But, I also made the commitment to blog about our local Botanic garden, Cutler Botanic Gardens.  It's small but mighty.  I want to share some pictures I took on Fathers Day with you.  So, I'll have to think of something else  for the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  Maybe come back in a month and see what has changed?

As for this little gem, it is run by Cornell Cooperative Service - many thanks to all the volunteer Master Gardeners who keep this up.  And now:

This house on the edge of the property has a door that is many feet above the ground.  I know there must be a reason - does anyone know?  Maybe this once had a second floor outside stairs and porch?  Or maybe Superman rented out the space?

And then there is the low window on the first floor, on the right.  Somehow, this seems so....unbalanced.

When you walk in there is a display of composting.  I highly recommend the display (didn't take pictures) for those wanting to learn about composting.

Then, come the plantings.  First, a lovely Cornus kousa, or Korean Dogwood.  They have become pretty popular around here.  They bloom over a month after the "regular" dogwoods bloom.

Next, a Fragrant Mock Orange or Philadelphus coronarius.  If only I had Blog-O-Smell so you could catch the sweet scent of this shrub.

Next, one of the perennial displays.  The plant in the back (which is blurry) was a total mystery to me, and I could not find a tag.  Of course.

Another display, including a nice stand of lillies.

And finally, a view of their rock garden.

I thought I had taken pictures of their Heirloom Rose Garden, but when I went to download my pictures I only found one picture.  I have see if I can go back and take some more.  I think I was too busy smelling the flowers to take pictures.  The day lilies, by now, should be blooming nice-they were just starting on Sunday.

I'll take the rose picture, in the meantime, and combine it with a rose feature I want to do in the near future.

Please, if you are in the area of southern NY on I-81, stop by this small gem of the Southern Tier.  It is free, and it will be worth your time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday-The Invasion of the Invasives

Now, the first Summer installment of Wildflower Wednesday.

Woke up to thunderstorms this morning, but at least the rest of the day wasn't stormy the way it was supposed to. (I feel bad, with my drought stricken readers, even commenting about rain.)

And now to the wildflowers.

This shrub is growing just outside our fence.  Right outside the fence our yard starts sloping down and we have nothing planted there (intentionally, that is).  I am trying to get this identified but I believe it is a type of honeysuckle.  It seems to be blooming a little late than honeysuckle I know, and it is definitely a shrub.  But the scent is heavenly. (Too bad if it is honeysuckle, as it is probably one of the invasive types).  So I would consider this a wildflower.  I took this picture yesterday, the first day of summer.  Since it has scent, it isn't Japanese honeysuckle.  Hope I solve the mystery soon.
And now, I revisit the Vestal Rail Trail, our local rails-to-trails. The first two pictures were taken on Sunday.

This may technically not be a wildflower. This is a young catalpa tree.  It was about 7 or 8 feet tall and had a couple of flowers on it.  These trees have been blooming the last two weeks or so.  They are pretty common around here.  (and no, that isn't my arm).

Here is one of the many sumac plants blooming along the Rail Trail.  Last week I posted a picture of the spikes before they opened.  Here is a sumac in bloom.

And now, taken about 10 days ago, are some more pictures.  These flowers are still in bloom.  I didn't know what they were and had to get them identified, hence the delay.  As I explained last week, this project is as much to help me learn more about wildflowers as it is to post them for your enjoyment.  It turns out that some of what I took pictures of are invasive species.

This first picture was to take a picture of the upright flower in the center. This is Verbascum blattaria, commonly known as moth mullen.  On the left is are some buttercups.

Next, birds-foot trefoil, which also can be invasive.

And finally, I think this is a picture of one more invasive species, Japanese spirea.
However, my knowledgeable friend thinks it may be a cultivated variety, pink spirea Anthony Waterer.

It was dwarf, so my wildflower friend may be right.  I hope so.

Next week-who knows?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice Day

Happy June 21, 2011!

We have a chance of rain early tomorrow morning (maybe 4am) and we have a chance of severe weather tomorrow with hail.  I wish I could send that weather (without the severe part) to my internet friends in the drought areas.  But all I can do is give you a little dose of backyard flowers from tonight.

It's sad in a way, this first day of summer, because it means we are at our maximum sunlight and soon the days will start to get shorter.  Already, the sunrises have turned around and are getting later and later.  In about a week, the sunsets will follow suit. (funny how we never realized this natural phenomenon until we owned chickens many years ago.)

The astilbes are finally blooming. (what this photo doesn't show you is the cloud of gnats I had to brave to get this shot.)

One of our hostas is almost ready to come out. (we have several varieties in the shady part of our yard.)

Campanula. (somehow, the purple in the flowers didn't show up well.)

Yellow bleeding heart.  This has self-sowed in several parts of our yard.

Tomorrow is Wildflower Wednesday.  One of the features will be a plant in the "wild" part of our backyard, which I hope to find out before tomorrow what it is.

Happy summer!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cutler Botanic Garden

Hidden gems.  Sometimes, we go hundreds of miles to visit gardens, and ignore the ones in our midst.

I have a confession.  I have been negligent.

In Binghamton, there is a "hidden gem" of a garden, run by the Cornell Cooperative Service.  I have not been there in, oh, perhaps three years.  It's one of these places we pass a couple of times a week, on our way to somewhere else, and just never stop.

In fact, the last time we visited it was to take my mother in law (who lives 150 miles from here) to visit it.

Yesterday, as a Father's Day treat, my husband stopped.  I'll be posting some pictures later this week, but right now I just want to tell you a little about this garden.

It's free of charge, and over the years we've visited during various times of year.  We even visited 5 years ago, after a major flood.  Their master gardeners did a wonderful job of restoration.

When you enter, you pass a composting demonstration. My family member and his new garden (which I am negligent on reporting on but right now there's nothing to report) might enjoy visiting the display.   There are several theme gardens:  roses (which are in full bloom), a rock garden containing a lovely display of heathers, Shakespearean plants, a herb garden, a daylily garden and an AAS display garden.  

What was nice about the rose garden is that most of the plants were old fashioned varieties.  Each one had a nicer scent than the one before.  I don't get into growing roses but these could have changed my mind. Again, I could wish for blog-o-smell to bring that rose garden to you.

The daylily garden should be in full bloom in a couple of weeks, and we hope to return.

Hopefully, later this week I will do a post on local roses (a little delayed due to Falling Friday) and display a couple of pictures from the Cutler Garden.

I would not suggest going miles out your way to see this garden (it is a bit on the small side) but if you are ever in the vicinity of I-81 and are going through southern New York State, please stop and visit.  It will be well worth your time.  And the price - none - is right.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Civil War Sunday-Civil War Figures as Fathers

A fellow blogger had a very good suggestion for my Civil War Sunday theme days.  She suggested I blog about less known figures or events of the Civil War (perhaps even subjects of YA books)...I am going to take her up on that suggestion but, in honor of Father's Day, I am going to blog today about well known Civil War figures but in a less well known setting - their role as fathers.

To understand this, you have to understand the cultural context of the 1860's.  In some ways this post is going to be depressing, but such was life in the mid 19th century.

1.  Infant mortality was high, and even if your child made it past infancy, the father was rare who did not lose at least one child in childhood or young adulthood.
2.  Fathers could forbid their daughters from marrying a prospective suitor - but then, it didn't always mean the daughter would obey. (and, obey was the word for that cultural context.) Jefferson Davis faced this decision with his daughter, Winnie, when she fell in love with a Yankee, the grandson of an abolitionist.  And, just like today, sometimes parents must watch their children as adults come to tragic ends.
3.  Then as now, many fathers had to be absent from home frequently, leaving their wives to be both mother and father.  This was the case with all the below Civil War figures.
4.  Many fathers found themselves as single fathers when their wives died in childbirth. The solution, in many cases, was to marry again as quickly as possible.
5.  Although losing children was a fact of life, it caused great sorrow to the grieving parents.  Sometimes they didn't recover.  (Mary Todd Lincoln, in part.)  There was not much that could be done in those days for depression.

The following information is taken in part from "After The War-The Lies and Images of Major Civil War Figures After the Shooting Stopped" by David Hardin.  
Again, I highly recommend this book if you are interested in the people of the Civil War.
 Abraham and Mary Lincoln had four sons.  Only two outlived their father.  One beloved son, Willie, died while Abraham Lincoln was in the White House and both Abraham and Mary took the death very hard. 

Jefferson Davis and his wife Varina had six children, four boys and two girls.  None of the boys outlived their parents.  Jefferson Davis's son Joseph, died at the age of 5 in April of 1864 from injuries suffered in a fall from the Confederate Executive Mansion.

William Tecumseh Sherman and his wife, Ellen, had four children.  As with Lincoln and Davis, Sherman lost a son, Willie (was this a bad luck name?) in 1863 at the age of 9.  A third son, born in 1864, died at the age of 6 months. Still another son, Tom, became a Jesuit priest but later descended into insanity and died in Louisiana.  Quoting from "After the War:  "The son of the despoiler of Georgia lies in the Jesuit cemetery in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, next to the Jesuit grandnephew of Alexander Stephens, the Confederacy's vice-president."

And finally, Robert E. Lee. Robert E. Lee and his wife Mary Custis Lee (George Washington's granddaughter) had seven children.  Unlike the other major figures above, Lee's children all lived into adulthood.  One, Custis Lee (a Major General in the Confederate Army), lived into his 80's.

History is a lot more than dry statistics and memorization of battle dates.  It is the people, their culture, and events and how people react and are affected by them.  And, we should all be thankful that modern medicine spares many modern parents what these people of 150 years ago had to go through as fathers (and mothers).

Next week, I hope to write about a  local New York Civil War soldier who played a part in several historic events before he died in 1864 in Atlanta.

The Midnight Sun

Today is Civil War Sunday and yes, I will blog about that later.

But I couldn't resist blogging about the midnight sun.  I don't know if it is truly "legal" to post screenshots from webcams and if I can't, I will take this down. 

Right now the sun is setting in Fairbanks, Alaska. The day is 21 hours and 47 minutes long.  And, for your viewing pleasure, this is what the University of Alaska webcam captured a few minutes ago.  The view is north.

How cool is that.

Do any of my readers live in a Midnight Sun area?  If so I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mid June at the Farmers Markets

First, thank you to those who expressed concern about my fall.  I'm better today.  I can eat (if I don't touch the big lump on my lip), my left hand is bruised but working. my left shoulder hurts but it operates, my teeth ache but none seem loose, and I took a couple of walks to come up with the 4 miles I like to do on weekends.  I did it slower than usual and I got pretty wiped out.  I went to Sears Optical and, since I purchased the damage warranty, only have to pay $25. for the chipped lens.  (I am extremely nearsided, and if my vision wasn't correctable, I would be legally blind.)  I'm thankful too that the chip is in the corner so I can see out of the glasses mostly OK.  The frame is scratched but I'll replace it in another 6 months, probably, when my prescription changes.

And, spouse and I made time for a couple of local farmers markets.

The Vestal farmers market seemed to have less booths than normal.  Perhaps the Owego Strawberry Festival had something to do with it.  The local produce is finally starting to come in, here in the Triple Cities of Upstate NY, although some farms normally featuring U-Pick strawberries (we're in the height of strawberry season) have cancelled U-Pick this year.  We are dealing with higher than normal rainfall.  Every time it rains I say a prayer that next time the rain will visit, instead, one of our drought stricken states.  Please know that my gardening heart goes out to everyone affected by the terrible drought much of our country is facing.

We bought local lettuce, garlic scapes (for some reason, an unknown entity - animal? flattened all of our garlic, and no scapes as a result), cucumbers.  I should be able to eat these OK.  The one vendor with local zucchini (probably small but who cares) had already sold out.  We hope to see one of the vendors we know from long ago, Laughing Crow Farms in Maine, later this year.  I passed on the local strawberries-might not be a good idea to eat things with small seeds in them right now.  Maybe in a couple of days.

Then, a few miles up the road, we hit the Otsiningo Park Farmers Market.  This, one of the newer markets, seems to get better and better.  At work, my manager raves about one vendor's cinnamon rolls.  I bought a chocolate chip scone from him-its crumbly nature will probably be more eating-friendly to me right now.  But you should see those cinnamon rolls - and only $1.50 each!

Over at the McRey Farm booth, they had sold out of the brisket we wanted, but spouse purchased some osso bucco and some very meaty soup bones. (I almost feel like I should apologize for eating meat-and I've been a vegetarian a couple of times in my life-but lapsed both times back into the omnivorous lifestyle.)

And last but not least, a visit to the herbal vendor.  My boss had told me about her herbal bug repellant spray.  She let me try it, and I purchased a small bottle for $7.  I am so sick of being bitten by whatever seems to be chowing down on me in the past three weeks.  I think it's a combo of blackflies and spiders.

And, I must admit, I ended up "vegging out" while spouse took a nap, and played a lot of FarmVille. And - signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  (wish me luck!)

Now, let's hope nothing else happens to me.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Falling Friday

I was going to blog about the fact that, if my parents were still alive, today would have been their 60th wedding anniversary.

But instead I am blogging about the sidewalks of Binghamton, NY.  I do not intend to make Falling Friday a regular feature.

My spouse and I were doing our 1/2 hour exercise walk on the West Side of Binghamton tonight.  Suddenly I tripped over an irregular sidewalk (there are a lot of those around here.)  I couldn't recover, and I fell on my face.  I came up spitting blood.

It could have been worse.  I split my lip, have a bruised hand and shoulder, but all my teeth seem intact, and nothing is broken.  So, this is not the end to a Friday that I had wanted.  Now I hope nothing gets infected.

I also ruined the face of my watch and gouged some of my glasses, which I will have to get fixed.

So I will keep this short. Tonight, a simple soft meal.  Tomorrow, I hope I feel better.

I still intend to do my "Civil War Sunday" but it may be a little simpler than I figured.  I was hoping to go to the Owego Strawberry Festival tomorrow but I think I am just going to take it easy.

And find a different place to walk.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Should I take The Ultimate Blog Challenge?

Fresh from completing a Blogathon during the month of May (31 consecutive days of posting) I decided to see how long I could continue to blog daily.  Fortunately for me, my blog "mission statement" allows me to blog about anything - although I have set up a couple of "theme days" recently.

During my "runners high" after Blogathoning, I had signed up to (heaven help me) to get notified when a different blogging challenge would start.  I got my notification today that registration is now open for another blogging challenge starting July 1.  Now, as I doubt my sanity, I wonder if I should "go for it".

The Ultimate Blog Challenge is similar in some ways to the Blogathon
1.  Its run by Michelle (actually, two of them)
2.  You have to make a certain minimum number of posts.
3.  You will be part of a supportive community (and the Blogathoners are awesome, every one of them.  So I would hope the Ultimate Blog Challengers would be too.)

But it also seems different in some other ways
1.  You get daily emails with "hints" to help you think of topics to blog on, and some other forms of support. (this isn't meant at all as a "put down" of the Blogathon-it's just different.)
2.  It seems to be more oriented to using Twitter - almost as though they assume you are Twittering. Or Facebooking.  And fortunately (thanks to the support of Blogathoners) I am on Twitter now.
3.  You don't have to blog daily.  You do have to blog 31 times.  Technically that could be 31 times in one day. (and since Blogger has proved it can't be reliable, that actually gives me a little comfort zone.)
4.  But, on the other hand, the Ultimate Blog Challenge has a minimum word count (100 per post) which the Blogathon didn't have.

Do I want to do this?  Is it too much?  Or, should I take the challenge?

UPDATE 6/18/11:  I did sign up. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The First Wildflower Wednesday

Walking on the Vestal Rail Trail, our local rail trail, can be a study in urban wildflowers.  Today I will post some flowers that I know (or think I know).

These photos were taken Sunday, and I hope to research some other flowers I took pictures of.  If I can't find out what they are I may post them anyway (next Wednesday) and perhaps one of my readers will know what they are.  You see, I have a selfish motive in posting these wildflower photos-I want to learn more about wildflowers, and the best way to do that, I figure, is to make a total fool of myself.

So if I make any mistake in identifying something, do let me know!

This first one is sumac.  I don't know the exact variety but my guess would be staghorn sumac.  Later in the summer these will grow red berries.  Assuming you don't use sumac berries from poison sumac, the berries are edible in tea, or ground and sprinkled on food.

When we owned land in rural Arkansas, we had several varieties.   There was one with bright red berries that made the best tea.  We also put them into jellies (the tea).  It wasn't my favorite but my spouse loved the tart flavor.

Ox-eye daisies, interspersed with the last of the dame's rocket. (the dame's rocket is about done for.)

Elderberries.  You've all heard of elderberries, right?  Well, the flowers are also useful.  In Arkansas, we mainly used the berries, for elderberry jelly.
The juice is used by some to treat colds.  You do have to be very careful of the stems and leaves.  Both are poisonous.

So that is the first Wildflower Wednesday.  Let me know what you think. 

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day-June 15

So hard to believe an entire month has gone by and it is time for me to post pictures of what is blooming in my yard.  This is hosted by May Dreams Garden.

And gosh, I also promised to begin a Wildflower Wednesday, so I have to do TWO posts today.  Puff, puff.

So what is happening in my yard?

For perennials, not much.  My irises quit blooming on Sunday.  My astlibes are almost ready to open, but not quite.  My chive flowers are done.  So I don't have all that much, and I will  include a couple of my more noteworthy annuals.

These are icicle pansies.  We planted these last fall, and they have been blooming for over two months now.  They cost more than regular pansies, but are well worth the extra cost.  We've grown them for several years now, and they have overwintered just fine here in zone 5.

This is a wild rose.  I just happened to see it peeking out of my lilac patch.  You know what, if it hadn't been for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, I may never have noticed.

Grey santolina.

My "sky blue" petunias from Burpees.  Which, as you can see, are not sky blue but rather a lavender like color.  But the plants are doing fine.

And last, but not least, a hanging basket I put together using Phantom and Black Velvet petunias, and Yellow Bush Surfina petunias.  So....enjoy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Great Race

Tomorrow, Binghamton hosts the Hemmings Motor News Great Race, a time/speed/endurance motor race participated in by vintage cars.

Memories....the last time the Great Race came to Binghamton, it was 2000 and I had a grade school aged son.  I remember the cars were supposed to get to Binghamton by 5pm and spend the night here.  They started coming in around 6pm and my son was thrilled.  He loved old cars.  It was worth the wait.

Now, we are empty nesters, my son will probably be working, and he's already had the experience of owning (and trying to do mechanical work) on a Ford Pinto.  Time does fly.....and we probably will not attend this year.  Some things just aren't the same without a child's company.

What, exactly, is the Great Race?  Quoting from their website:
"The Great Race is a vintage and collector car competitive rally on public highways.  It is not a test of speed.  It is a test of a driver/navigator team’s ability to follow precise instructions and the car’s (and team’s) ability to endure on a cross-country trip.  The course instructions require the competing teams to drive at or below the posted speed limits at all times."

These cars, of course, are really vintage.  I read somewhere the oldest car in this year's race dates from 1911, a 1911 Velie.  At one time, they didn't permit cars built after World War II -now they allow cars built in 1969 or earlier.  (so my son's Pinto wouldn't have made the cut).  The racers are two person teams, and there are a number of husbands and wives. 

Our local vintage car group, the Cruising Buddies, will be downtown tomorrow to greet the racers.

I have no digital pictures of the event - that was still the days of film (unless I want to try to scan some of them.)  Maybe one day....

At some time during the past 11 years, the Race went bankrupt, but now they are back.  I hope a new generation of young ones (and a lot of older ones) enjoy tomorrow evening.

And I hope it isn't 11 years until the next time. Just think, when they come through again, I might be a grandma....

Monday, June 13, 2011

Eternal Sunshine of the Midnight Sun

It has been a while since I have blogged about my love affair with the midnight sun. 

When I was young, I dreamed dreams where it was light past 11pm.  I'd be looking out my window and everything was still daylight, and it seemed vaguely right.  I would also have dreams in which I looked at the  night sky and the stars weren't in the right place, and it frightened me.

At the time, I was growing up in New York City, not exactly the land of eternal sunshine.

I don't know how old I was, or if I knew about how the poles would have long days, and then long nights.  But those dreams were very vivid, especially the dreams of looking out my window close to midnight and it was still light.  For many years I've wanted to see the midnight sun in person.  Ironically, the one time I visited Alaska, it was in September. (and it was a part of Alaska where there was no midnight sun, at that.)

For the past four or so years, I have used a website called Eternal Sunset to track the sunrises and sunsets at several points of the earth:  Fairbanks, AK, Bernardo O'Higgins base in Antarctica, and Longyearbyen, Norway.   I don't do it as much now, but I've been viewing Fairbanks, as they are nearing their peak (which should be 21 hours and 46 minutes) of sunlight.

To go to the Fairbanks webcam at 2:30 am (Alaskan time) and see it light, still gives me chills.

One day I would like to go to Fairbanks and celebrate the solstice there.  I realize the sun does set (in the North!) in Fairbanks but their long dusks are enough for them to have 24 hour light.  And one day maybe I really, really will make it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Civil War Sunday -After the War

We are into the 150th anniversary commemoration of the American Civil War.  This tragic but history changing war was, and remains, a very serious subject that shaped the course of our history. It took about 618,000 lives and disrupted or ruined many, many more lives.    Call it The War Between the States, the War of Northern Aggression or the Civil War, the years leading up to 1861-1865, the war years themselves, and the years after were a trauma our country still struggles to define and wrap its collective arms around.

This was illustrated for me only recently.  In March, visiting Mt. Airy, NC, I was treated to the sight of a pickup leaving the Wal-Mart parking lot, with a full sized Confederate flag mounted in the bed.  The truck was decorated with various stickers of the "South Shall Rise Again" variety.

All studies of the Ameircan Civil War should be made with an understanding of both sides, Federal and Confederate, North and South.  But, we each have our sympathies, and mine will shine through these Sunday posts time and time again.  I don't want to turn these Civil War Sundays into a new Civil War, so I will say up front if I start getting comments of hate directed at either North or South, I will discontinue the posts. (comments of thoughtful discussion, I do welcome-that is the point of a blog, after all.)  I mainly want to write about my journey in learning about the Civil War.  So, with that, onto my first post.

I've been reading a book called "After the War" by David Hardin. The subtitle is "The Lives and Images of Major Civil War Figures After the Shooting Stopped."  The book contains 11 such stories revealing what happened postwar to Jefferson Davis, William T. Sherman,, Ulysses S. Grant, Mary Chesnut, Mary Todd Lincoln, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Robert E. Lee, George Custer (yes, of Little Bighorn fame, but he was a famous Civil War general, too) and others.  Many of the stories are tragic; some are ironic.  All are worth reading.

One of the stories of irony is that of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and what happened to him after the war.  Jefferson Davis is given very short shrift in the Northern version of the Civil War story, and he deserved better. The story is also that of one of his daughters.  I highly recommend it.

And then, for the Northerners, there is the iconic figure of Abraham Lincoln.  So much has been written about a person who was ...well, we'll never know, because he didn't outlive the Civil War for very long.  Since he was taken out of the picture, the book discusses his widow Mary Todd Lincoln.

And finally, I want to close with a little "camp" entertainment.  As far from every moment in the life of a soldier was spent fighting, many forms of entertainment occupied the soldier when he wasn't marching, fighting off illness, or pining for home.  Now, if the Civil War soldier had had the Internet and email, who knows.....maybe it would have looked like this:  (hmmm, sounds like a possible plot for a Harry Turtledove series.)

I initially intended to blog about something on one of the Blogathon theme days called Word Clouds, but I never had time to do it during the Blogathon.  Then, after the Blogathon was over June 1, I was told about a really cool Word Cloud generating program. 

Using a free web based program called Tagxedo, (recommended by Katyroo, who found  it through  this), I went to the site, installed the required program Silverlight, and got to work.  To my delight, I found a way to generate a word cloud of Abraham Lincoln, in a color called 'blue and grey'  It took me a bit to get started but I can tell you this kind of thing can quickly become addictive.  So here is my word cloud in tribute to the President who held our country together in its most trying hour.

 If there had been Civil War Tagxedo....and Civil War blogs, Civil War Facebook - can you imagine?

So, what about future Civil War Sunday posts?  Do you want to see Civil War Sunday continue?

New Directions and Two New Weekly Features

I am going to try a couple of weekly features.  As a result of the Blogathon, I paid attention to the Stats tab in my Blogger account for the first time, and had some interesting surprises regarding what my readers wanted.

It seems that they enjoy, in this order

1.  Gardening related posts, especially pictures of flowers.
2.  Posts about Binghamton.

Additionally, a fellow blogger recommended that (as I am "into" the American Civil War) I blog about the Civil War on the 12th day of each month.  As it happens, that falls on a Sunday (today).  And since I couldn't go a month without a Civil War post (despite all my recent garden posts) I am going to try to blog each Sunday about the Civil War. At least until 2015, if my blog (and I) last that long.

The other new feature will be on Wednesday. Wildflower Wednesdays.  I am trying to learn about wildflowers, and the sister of a friend is very knowledgeable about them.  If I can't maintain the wildflower theme (after all, we have 5 months of winter in these parts) I might convert Wednesdays to a general gardening day - a "hot stove" gardening league, if you will.

This leads up to the question:  should I have a day devoted to Binghamton or the Triple Cities of upstate NY (Binghamton/Johnson City/Endicott?  I do have some historic photos of Binghamton, thanks to a friend.  And I can always write about local (and Ithaca) happenings, and things in my life that aren't garden related.  But I don't want to restrict that to a particular day.

And I want to try to keep the daily post habit although in the summer it may get difficult.  (meaning, I really need to try and keep it up.)

I still don't want to make the blog "all garden all the time" because my most loyal reader (as revealed by my stats) is NOT a garden nut.  She's always supported my blog and I want to keep her interest, and the interest of those who followed my blog before the Blogathon.

Please feel free to comment in the next few days, and tell me what you think of my new direction.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Getting to Know Me Through My Food

Thank you for this idea, Christine at Inspired-to-Create.  

Getting to know someone through their food.  Yes, food is so basic, and, as they say, we are what we eat.

I had a lot of fun with this one.  I wonder where it first started (Christine got it from another blog, so I hope I am giving credit properly), and I want that very first person in the chain to know it was a lot of fun doing this.  I did it during a thunderstorm, for what that is worth.  Maybe it means I am crazy.

A is for Apple: What’s your favorite variety?
My favorite is the Honeycrisp apples.  I live in a part of NYS famous for its apples so there is no lack of local apples.  If there are no Honeycrisps (their local season is short) I also like Empire apples.

B is for Bread: Regardless of nutrition, what is your favorite type?
I prefer whole grain breads.  I love breads baked by Wegmans, a local grocery chain.

C is for Cereal: What is your favorite kind currently? (just one!)
Trader Joes O's.  The nearest Trader Joes is a 3 plus hour drive from here, which tells you something. (Actually there is one about 1/2 hour from where my mother in law lives, so I shop there 4-5 times a year.  Please, Trader Joes, put a store in or near Binghamton.  Do you take bribes?)

D is for Donuts: You might not currently eat them, but what kind do you fancy?
No.  When I was in my 20's I worked for several months in a donut store.  That cured me forever.

E is for Eggs: How would you like yours prepared?
In an omelet.  With cheese, please.

F is for Fat Free: What is your favorite fat free product?

G is for Groceries: Where do you purchase yours?

H: is for Hot Beverages: What is your favorite hot drink?
In the winter hot chocolate, or a really good cup of tea.  In the summer, I do not do hot.

I is for Ice Cream: Pick a favorite flavor and add a fun topping.
Perry's Chocolate Panda Paws.  Real whipped cream.

J is for Jams or Jellies: Do you eat them? If so, what kind and flavor?
Not really.  But if I do buy a jam or jelly I get a homemade type at a farmers market or stand.  Grape or sand plum are faves.  Strawberry.  I used to make my own, but haven't in about 30 years.

K is for Kashi: Name your favorite Kashi product?
Their crackers are good.  Don't like their cereals.

L is for Lunch: What was yours today?
The Saturday samples at Wegmans.  Zucchini soup, chicken sandwich sample, a small sample of cheese, a small sample of a yummy shake made with Wegmans vanilla ice cream. (Better stop now before I turn this blog into an ad for Wegmans.  Full disclosure, I know people who work in that store.)

M is for microwave: What is your favorite microwave meal/snack?
I use the microwave mainly for reheating.  Or for popcorn.

N is for nutrients: Do you likes carbs, fats, or proteins best?
Proteins. They keep you full the longest.

O is for oil: What kind do you like to use?
Ask my spouse-he's the cook.

P is for protein: How do you get yours?
Many ways.  Cheese, lean meat, poultry fish such as salmon, meatless combos using the protein complementation principle popularized by Francis Moore Lappe.  I must admit, my healthiest time was when I followed that diet and was a vegetarian.  But I fell off that wagon years ago.

Q is for Quaker: How do you like your oats?
Instant, on really cold days in winter.  But the instant oats are too sweet.   Could you cut your sugar in half, please? (without putting artificial sweetner in).

R is for roasting: What is your favorite thing to roast?
Ask the spouse.

S is for sandwich: What’s your favorite kind?
Tuna and fresh garden tomato, mayo, lettuce, on whole wheat bread.

T is for travel: How do you handle eating while traveling?
Sometimes we get a kitchenette and spouse cooks.  Sometimes we eat out and try to find local foods.  Like, in Charleston, SC we tried crispy flounder and shrimp and grits.

U is for unique: What is one of your weirdest food combos?
Macaroni and ketchup.  It almost led to divorce.  Now I only indulge if my spouse isn't around.

V is for vitamins: What kind do you take?
B Complex, D3 and Calcium.

W is for wasabi: Yay or nay?
Yay, if it's real.  Notice how much "wasabi" really is some other horseradish with food coloring?

X is XRAY: If we xrayed your belly right now, what food would we see?
Last night's macaroni salad made with whole wheat pasta, broccoli, pureed roasted garlic.

Y is for youth: What food reminds you of your childhood?
Schav.  Sweet cucumber salad with thinly sliced onion.  Kasha vaniskas.  My father's side came to this country from Belarus in the early 20th century.  Oh, for a cold bowl of schav with sour cream....

Z is for zucchini: How do you prepare it?
My cookin' spouse makes a zucchini Parmesan.  It's awesome!  But this summer I am going to ask him to make the zucchini soup we sampled today at...that supermarket that begins with "W".

Starting a Garden from Scratch - Part 1 of a Series

A family member recently lost his job after, well, a long time working for a company (and the company that bought his previous company out, and the company that....well, you get the picture.)  He worked very hard and worked very long hours and now he is-let's say, nonvoluntarily retired.  As are a lot of people in our country nowadays.

One thing this family member has wanted to do for a long time is garden.  But he and his wife (who lost her job earlier this year, too) have never had the time.  Now he does have time, and yesterday he and my spouse met at a nearby garden center to start the process. (I hope he will let me take some photos, but for now, this will be text only.)

Their house was built new in the 1980's.  There are few totally flat areas in his property, and the soil has rocks (like a lot of soil around here).  The challenge will be taking what has been lawn for the last 30 or more years, and turning it into a productive garden.  On the plus side, our relative still has time to plant (once the plot is prepared) and get a good harvest.  Also, he is in very good physical shape.

The techniques my spouse uses for gardening may not be totally conventional (and I know there are those that feel that peat moss should not be utilized as a gardening aide.)  Our techniques are somewhat in the "whatever works" category.  My spouse's advice was:
1.  Build raised beds.  We don't frame our beds with lumber, plastic "logs" or anything else.  This will take care of a lot of the problem with rocks.
2.  Lots of organic matter.  We have a compost heap, but in the neighborhood our family member lives in, I don't know how well that would go over.  So spouse recommended - and this is where I know there will be some disagreement with other gardeners - peat moss.  We do not use it as a mulch but rather used it in the past as a conditioner.  We use other sources of organic matter in our community garden plots but this garden has to be ready to go very soon to have enough time to grow in our zone 5 climate. (he is on a hill so he will have less time than we do at our house, also.)
3.  We would recommend our family member find if there is a program in his town for compost giveaways.  If so: He has many friends and acquaintances and hopefully one will have a pickup truck.  Our town is supposed to have such a program - at the very least, they encourage backyard composting-but he does not live in our town.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to write more, and hopefully will be able to follow the development of this new garden. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday-I mean, Friday

To celebrate the return of my Internet connection, I am uploading some wildflower photos supplied by a friend who lives out in the rural area of Broome County, NY, the county I live in.  These are from earlier this spring.  Enjoy!

This first photo is of a painted trillium.  What a pretty splash of pink color in the center.

This next is a trailing arbutus.  Again, I could wish for blogosmell, to bring you the fragrance of this wildflower.

Finally, a viburnum.  There are a lot of varieties used in landscaping, but this is also a native plant.

I enjoy these photos, and hope to feature this friend's photos again in the near future.

Would you like to see wildflower pictures once a week? (as long as we have a wildflower season in upstate NY, that is?  We don't have flowers here year round.)  Wednesday might be a natural for this feature.  If you want to see more, please feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Touching the Calder Cup

 No, I didn't touch it.  But I know someone who did.

The Binghamton Senators are AHL champs.  Fans are thrilled. There was a parade 6pm yesterday in downtown Binghamton.  I'm told over 5,000 people showed up, which isn't bad, considering that would be at least 10% of our population.

I wasn't there, not being a sports fan any longer, but I know several people who were there. For them, it was the experience of a lifetime.

One of the nice things about being in a smallish city is that you can actually participate in stuff like this.

I got an account from one of those people.  After the parade, he went to a bar.  About 6 players came in, carrying the Calder Cup.  They allowed people to take pictures of it and this person got to touch it.

Try that in, say, New York City.

Years ago I would have given anything for such a thrill.  But having become disenchanted with professional sports about 30 years ago, I don't miss the feeling at all.

This person told me that for him, it was something "he would remember for the rest of his life."

Yes....the wonders of small city life.  Having grown up in New York City, this is the kind of stuff I love about small cities.  It can be boring (and I know people who call this place "Borington") but...when it's exciting, it's something special.

Even second hand.

Taking a Walk on the Wild Side

Yee hah! This was supposed to be Wednesday's post but, thanks to I don't know what, our Internet was down for almost all of yesterday.  So, my streak has ended.

It was a good streak while it lasted.  1 month and 8 days.

But now, onward, to the subject of Urban Rail Trails.

You just never know when you are going to take a walk on the wild side when you take a rail trail walk in an urban area.

(not yesterday:  91 degrees. We're heat wimps here in Binghamton.  No, this was on Sunday.)

I took my camera, and made the 4 mile walk, to see what I could find.

There were a lot of chipmunks-seem to be a lot this year-but chipmonks are so common (and fast) that I didn't unsling my camera.  But then this little beauty caught my eye, on the shoulder of the trail....

Here's a snapping turtle. (the trail, for a little bit, is next to a small wetlands).  I don't know if this was an egg laying female, but a bike rider came up to me and said "That's the second one I saw today".  I did think his/her neck was at a bit of a weird angle.  And by the way, I used my zoom to take this picture!

A little further up the trail, my nose caught a luscious scent.  Soon, these came into view.

Rosa multiflora.  And, sadly, these are invasive, and can become a real pest to the homeowner.  It provides wildlife habitat, but crowds out native plants.

Still, they sure smell nice.

Finally, two views (above and below) of something called Dame's Rocket.  I never knew this plant until I moved to NY.  Now, this flower means "June" to me.  They come in shades of white and pink/purple.

Yes, you never know what you will find on an urban rail trail.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Last Hurrah-Rhododendrons

I had meant to post this yesterday.  But Blogger would not cooperate.  I could not upload photos. Now the glitch has been fixed.  But it does make me wonder how much longer I should stick with Blogger.

At any rate, it's working.  And so, a day or so late....the last hurrah of Binghamton's rhododendrons.

My spouse and I took an exercise walk today and almost all of the rhododendrons were spent. There were a couple of specimens in the shade that still looked good.  I wish I had a camera with me because one was not the usual pink/purple color (above, taken Sunday) you seem to find in this area.  It was a darker purple.

But, in addition to the usual purple, I found, right in my neighborhood, a lilac colored specimen.

And that's it until next year.

Now, the roses are taking over, along with various annuals.   For a brief time we will have peonies too.

This bed isn't in full bloom yet, but is probably the largest peony bed in this area that I know of.  This isn't all of it, but I don't have a wide angle lens.

Tomorrow (if Blogger cooperates)....a "Walk on the Wild Side".

Will Binghamton Be a Championship Town Tonight?

So many setbacks....and the one time Binghamton gets into the national news it is due to a mass shooting in April of 2009.  (no, wait, another time-it was probably when we had major floods back in 2006.)

Or maybe a third time, the Binghamton Salt Babies tragedy of 1962.

Now we have something to celebrate - after tonight, the American Hockey League Binghamton Senators may be the winners of this year's Calder Cup.

Parties start everywhere around 7:15 pm.

Some people underestimate the power sports have to unite a population. But I saw that firsthand, years back, when I had the opportunity to live in Texas and Arkansas.  In both areas, high school football is a very powerful force.  Here, our "burnt out industrial town" needs all the good news we can get.  It needs a lot of unity. This event may provide it - even if we don't win.

Binghamton has never had a championship hockey team.  On certain streets in Binghamton, "Go B-Sen" signs have sprouted.  A certain local radio drive-time radio announcer (I heard this second hand from a fan this morning) expressed hopes that a certain building in downtown Binghamton, which has colored light displays on its upper floors and has been known to employ special event colors, might light up in red (B-Sen color) tonight.

If we win....tonight and tomorrow will be happy indeed.  And, perhaps we all will be wearing red.  Just in time for the temperatures to hit 95 degrees tomorrow, the B-Sen fans will heat up the town tonight.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Peony Spring

In the never ending saga of Blogger, I've been having trouble uploading photos the past three days.  Tonight, the photo upload function is apparently (according to the site) down for maintenance.

So my regularly scheduled post (which would have needed photos to carry the story) will not be posted.  Perhaps it will give me more time to decide
a.  If I want to defect to WordPress and/or
b.  If I want to continue my experiment in being a garden/photo blog.

So tonight, I will take a different tack.  Instead of photos a haiku: (not a traditional haiku, a shame since peonies have symbolism in the Eastern world.  But I am as much a beginner at haiku as I am in garden blogging.)  Peonies are blooming here in the Southern Tier of New York, just in time for a heat wave.

Peony blossoms
Welcome spring into summer
As thunderstorms brew

Peonies never seem to last for long here in the Binghamton, NY area.  By the time they start to bloom, it seems the heat comes.  Or, the rains.  Or both.  For some reason, they seemed to do a lot better in Wichita, Kansas (where I lived for several years) than they do here.

I don't have any peonies but several neighbors do.  If Blogger cooperates, I will post some photos later this week.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunny Days and Sundays Never Get Me Down

I promised rhododendron photos today.  I ended up not taking the walk I was planning, and instead took some photos closer to home. The sun came out, it was in the 70's, there was a small breeze, and the Vestal Rail Trail was calling.  I brought my camera, and stopped three or four times during the 4 miles walk to take some photos.  Hopefully, I'll post those tomorrow.

To tide you over, I'm posting a couple of rhododendron photos taken at my house.  These rhododendrons were there when we bought the house in 1987.  So, I have no idea how old they are.  One is doing quite well.  This is a common shade in our area.

The other, a much lighter pink, is not so common, and has not been doing so well for the past 10 or so years.  We've given it some tender loving care and it seems to be doing better.  It's partially hidden though by shrubbery.

Also blooming today in the area:  roses, peonies (neither of which we have).

Our irises are about done. 

Tomorrow, hopefully I'll have time to post the Vestal Rail Trail photos.

I Came, I Saw, I Tweeted

I've done my first tweets.  I am following several Blogathoners, people who I know are good writers.  I will study you to find out just how, when, and why to tweet. (If I haven't offered to follow you, please let me know you are out there, and I will.)

I don't want to follow too many people right now; otherwise using Twitter will be like (the expression goes) "drinking from a fire hose".

Great news, I have two followers!  I am a bit humbled because I am just starting out and I hope they don't give up on me before I have enough experience to exit newbie status.

I must say Twitter isn't what I expected, not at all.  Now I'll get some questions "well, what did you expect?"  To be honest, I expected it to be a bunch of inane "here I am having pancakes for breakfast" kind of updates.  I know there is probably stuff like that out there (depending on who you follow) but I am overjoyed at what I have been finding so far.

I hope I have enough material about gardening to keep me busy; after all (as Michelle warns us) I am certainly not as interesting as Lady Gaga.

And now, heading out to hope that some rhododendrons are still in bloom.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Walk , a Tweet and Some Irises

June 4 is a very busy weekend day in this area.  There are a number of festivals going on, and you don't know which way to turn.

So what I did instead is take some pictures, walk in an autism walk, post some photos to my Facebook account and sign up for Twitter.  Sometimes the Internet can be such a drain on time.  But I hope today's activity was worth it.

Yes, I did it, no thanks to new blogging friends from the Blogathon.  I am on Twitter, under the name of RamblinGarden.  You are welcome to follow me.  Please bear with me while I get my "Twitter Legs" because some of my first posts may be a bit on the inane side.

As for the pictures, apparently, Firefox 4 is not playing well with Blogger.  For a while, I couldn't get into my account at all and had to use Internet Explorer.  Now, I can get into my account, but I can't upload photos if I am using Firefox.  Something tells me I am going to leave Blogger if too much more of this stuff happens.  Life is too short.  (end of whine).

This first photo is of a bearded iris I know only as the "Kool Aid iris".  The tubers were given to me by someone I used to work with.  I wish blogs had smell-o-blogpost, because this post would have the delicious scent of grape Kool-Aid.
I was told this is a rebloomer, but this has never rebloomed.  For that matter, no rebloomer I've ever planted has rebloomed.  Either the climate isn't right or the plants don't like me.  (and yes, I do think plants can like or dislike their caretakers.  More on that another time.)

This is another purple bearded iris.  We lost some of the blooms to the hailstorm last week but some of the buds survived.  This iris also has a scent.

Finally,  here is a yellow iris I bought at a local iris show.  Of course, I have no idea what it is called.  I end up not remembering half of what I planted, which isn't good for someone aspiring to perhaps turn this into a gardening blog.

We have a white iris also but its buds rotted away during our Rain Festival.

As for the walk, it was the second annual Greater Binghamton Walk for Autism.  I was very glad to run into someone I hadn't seen for years, although I've had some communication with her on Facebook.  And then, when we went food shopping afterwards, I ran into someone else I had not seen in years.

As today would have been my mother's 93rd birthday, the day was a bit bittersweet.  But, after a gloomy drizzly start to the day, the sun ended up coming out. 

Tomorrow (maybe)....rhododendrons.