Sunday, September 30, 2012

Civil War Sunday - The Liberty Warehouse

The four of us were walking in Brooklyn on Friday when the young man approached us.

He smiled and said to us, "you look like tourists.  Do you want to know something about the history of this area?"

We did.  We were in a neighborhood called Red Hook (from the Dutch Roode Hoeck), one of six Dutch villages that became Breuklelen (Brooklyn).  The "roode" came from the red soil.  The "hoeck" means point, not "hook".  If you look at a map, you'll see what they meant.

The young man continued, "did you notice how a lot of buildings have the name "Liberty" in them? Like the building you are standing next to?"  Sure enough.....

"Many of these buildings pre date the Civil War", the young man informed us.  "They were used as munition warehouses".
So when I got home, I did a little research.  He was right about the age of the warehouse.  This building, the Liberty Warehouse, dates from the 1850's.  It is a wedding venue today.

In the 1850's and 1860's, Brooklyn was not part of New York City. It was a separate city.

During the Civil War, Brooklyn was the third largest city in the country.  Prior to the Civil War, Robert E. Lee was stationed at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was stationed at Ft. Hamilton also, and baptized in Brooklyn. Ft. Hamilton is still an active military base.

The ironclad U.S.S. Monitor was built in another neighborhood of Brooklyn, Greenpoint.

A fascinating book on Brooklyn and the Civil War was published earlier this year. Highly recommended if you want to read more on this topic.

I'm not sure, though, about the connection between "Liberty" in the name of the warehouse and its Civil War link.  I suspect the "liberty" comes from Red Hook's closeness to the Statue of Liberty.  The weather conditions didn't allow me to photograph it, but on a clear day, the Statue of Liberty is very visible from Red Hook.

No matter where we live, we walk in history.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sustainable Saturday - How to Build Community

Red Hook, Brooklyn, continues to amaze as I read more about it.  Yesterday, I visited for the third time.  Unlike the previous two times, when I came only to shop at the fantastic Fairway supermarket, I roamed around a small part of the community.

How to Build Community.   I had to photograph this idealistic sign.  Not a sign I would expect to find in a neighborhood of New York City that - let's face it - has seen some very rough times.

I can only hope that the people of Red Hook live up to this sign.

We found a little garden nearby, which does not appear to be one of the community or urban farms in the area.  The gate was open, so we went in and looked around.
 I can not seem to find any discussion of "Red Hook Farm" online.  What I did find is the Red Hook Community Farm, which sounds like my adopted "home town" Binghamton, New York's VINES, but on a much larger scale.  But this looked more like a demonstration garden.

 If anyone can solve the mystery of this garden, I would love to hear from you.

Strangely, some of the plantings seemed to be brand new, such as some young pole beans.  In New York City, the growing season has perhaps another month to go.

Others,such as this eggplant, were still in full swing. 

Nearby was a walk planted with native plants.  And, across the water, the Statue of Liberty, shrouded in humidity (making a picture with my iPhone impossible), completed the captivating feature.

Red Hook still has a long way to go in its recovery, but in a strange way, it has put hooks into me, the person who grew up in New York City and left many years ago because she just wanted to get out of there in the worst way.

I will be back.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Swingle

One of the best pies in the world is located in an industrial area of Brooklyn, an area where tourists would not normally go, because it is not located in Manhattan. 

If you are planning to visit New York City, please consider visiting one or more of the "outer boroughs". (admittedly, it does help that I grew up in NYC-in an outer borough- and still have friends/family in Brooklyn and Queens.) This will be a way different experience from what people expect from NYC.

You owe it to yourself to buy a pie, or a Swingle (more on that later) from Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn.

The neighborhood of Red Hook is the last place you would expect to find an authentic Key Lime Pie.  Or, at that, a key lime pie-let, covered in high quality dark chocolate and served frozen on a stick.  Very handy for munching on when visiting the other nearby sights.

Hence, the Swingle.

When driving through Red Hook, keep in mind that this is what I would call an "up and coming area" i.e. an area that has been down on its luck for many years and is finding its way back.  Yes, it is gritty, to put it mildly.  But don't turn around.  Just be sure you have very good directions.

Once in Red Hook, you will want to head to "Pier 41".  Once there, you will see a sign like this:

Outside, you will find some lime trees in pots.
On the door you will find this sign...
And this sign...

And as soon as you enter the very plain retail space, and I do mean "very plain", you will find this.  Don't run!  You are almost in culinary heaven!

You can buy either a Key Lime Pie (a REAL Key Lime Pie) or the Swingle.

This is the Swingle.
 I can only wish I could communicate how delicious this was to you.  I've talked about  my wish for "Blog-O-Smell";  I can also wish there was a "Blog-O-Taste" plug-in.

There are some other interesting places near Steve's, which I will blog about in the coming weeks.

Do you have a favorite local "find" that tourists don't know about?  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Moon River and Me

I loved this song so much when I was growing up.

I never knew exactly what it was talking about, or anything about the man who wrote the lyrics, Johnny Mercer.  I never imagined I would ever see Moon River (an inlet of the actual river was named after the song, not vice versa), or visit the grave of Johnny Mercer in Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. 

I can't say that I dreamed of visiting Savannah because of the song, but I did have the dream of visiting for over 30 years before I finally visited last year.  Things kept getting in the way, but I finally made it.

The phrasing of this song is so beautiful.  It rang so true to the childhood me.  It reminded me of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, floating down the Mississippi, smoking their corncob pipes and fishing for their next meal. It was a never ending childhood dream to this girl growing up in the Bronx, to join them on that raft.   I was never made for the Bronx, although it shaped me and made me the woman I am today.

The story of the song isn't quite Huck Finn, but is quite interesting.

That song made me want to travel.  So today I will be in Brooklyn, visiting my huckleberry friend.  This September is the 50th anniversary of our friendship.

Yesterday, packing for the visit, I heard that the man who sung that song on the radio, to my childhood delight, had died.  Another piece of my childhood gone.

In your honor, Andy Williams, I will think of Moon River, even as I return to visit my native New York City. I will think of my childhood memories and my childhood with my huckleberry friend.

Moon River and me.

Did the song Moon River have any meaning to you?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Summer Blooms - Flowers of Mt. Mitchell

Bloom where you are planted....

Wildflowers bloom on top of the highest mountain in the Eastern United States on these pictures taken on the first day of fall.

Mount Mitchell, in western North Carolina, is that mountain, and we were fortunate for the opportunity to see it.

It was a beautiful drive from Asheville, NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  At the same time, many bicyclists were riding - one said it was about a 3 hour ride (each way) from Asheville.  What a level of physical fitness those bicycle riders have achieved!

This is one of the many views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the observation decks on the mountain.  These mountains live up to their name.  Even on the first day of fall, they look blue from a distance.

More wildflowers, from a little further down the summit.  It was interesting seeing how the vegetation changed as the altitude changed.  These asters disappeared as we got closer to the top.

Although I didn't photograph them, several Appalachian balds were visible from Mount Mitchell.  These are mountain tops devoid of trees, in a climate zone where trees should be growing at that attitude - but they aren't.  Scientists aren't 100% sure of why this happens, as some mountains will have balds and other mountains, next door and possibly even taller, won't.

We also saw stands of dead trees.  At the visitors center, we found out that these stands of trees were killed by acid rain.  Although this looks like some strange wildflower, this is actually a branch of one of these dead trees.

And so ends another summer of blooms.

Now that fall has taken over from summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, what would you like to see instead of Summer Blooms, as we approach the end of our blooming season?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mystery Blondes

 Blonde apples.  A joke?  No.

The apple crop in our part of upstate New York is not good this year.  Many local orchards are not offering U Pick. This is a blow to our local agricultural industry, but at least we have enough apples for regular sales, and for cider.

This was the result of our early spring, which came to a abrupt stop with a night of temperatures in the teens.   The apples were in bloom, and the freeze killed many of the blooms.  The only thing that saved our crop was the fact that apple trees tend to produce a lot more blooms than they need.

We weren't the only ones to experience Apple Fail.

Hendersonville, NC, which my spouse and I visited last Friday, also has apples in short supply. 
Hendersonville is in a major apple growing area of North Carolina, and some of these apples make it into the larger city of Asheville.

Some of the apples we saw at the tailgate markets in Asheville, NC, were seriously pockmarked with hail damage.  But, I understand from talking to farmers that the cause of their Apple Fail was similar to ours.

Finally, on the way home, we visited Maryland.  Seems like they had a good crop. At Catoctin Mountain Orchards near the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, we finally found some good apples- apples I haven't seen here in the Binghamton, NY area.
We bought some of these Blondie apples. 

But when I got home and looked these up online, I did not see anything on "blondie" apples.  It wasn't handwriting; these are listed on the orchard website as "Blondie", too.

I thought maybe I saw a heirloom apple. But it wasn't.

What I found online were references to "Blondee" apples, a yellow Gala-type.  The orchard did have Gala apples - they were even offering whole Gala apples for sampling. 

I wonder if this mystery "blonde" is a Blondee apple.  When I taste it, I'll see how Gala-like it is.

I love apple time. Do you?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fun with Faces

 I've had this post in my drafts for a couple of years.  It is time for it to see the light of day, so to speak.

Thank you to the blog  Bike with Jackie for letting me know about this other blog that links to a  fun site.  That is one of the really neat things about the WordCount Blogathon held each May, the first blogging competition (but far from the last) I participated in. It's over but some of the blogging "friends" I've made continue to give me inspiration.

It's good to have a break from trying to learn the craft of blogging, take a vacation and just....wasting a little bit of time.  Kicking back. 

I had a ball the other day, during some down time.  This is how it works:

All you need to do is enter a name.  Any name will do.  And then, look at the face that is generated.

This is my face.  Amazingly, it looks like a man with a beard.  Now, postmenopausal women tend to have mustaches-but I don't know about beards.

This is the face of Billie Noakes, who guest-blogged for me on the Guest Blog Theme day.  Hi, Billie!  I never knew you were a secret Transformer.  (Is this why you've stopped blogging? Oh please, Billie, come back.)

 This is my son.  You know.....nah.  this isn't him at all.

And last but not least, this is my spouse.

Now, I have a serious question.  Would anyone, 15 years ago, have dreamed that the two major uses of the Internet (besides music downloading and hunting recipes) would be -social networking and-wasting time with silly little programs?

Oh yes-and blogging.

Tomorrow I'll be back to the serious stuff.  I promise.

Overdue Library Art

Who says librarians don't have a sense of humor?  Or a sense of the artistic?

Today, I wanted to show you several examples of art, upstate New York library style. We have several local libraries here in our Triple Cities of upstate New York.

In the George F. Johnson Library in Endicott, NY, I found this mosaic near a water fountain.

Nearby, is their cafe - called, what else, The Overdue Cafe.

This library, like many others, has periodic displays of area art.  Last month, the subject was quilts.  I had to take these pictures on the "sly" because we aren't supposed to be using cell phones in the library.  I don't know the names of the artists - I was too busy sneaking around and seeing if any librarian was looking - I hope they are OK with me posting these pictures of their lovely art.

Chickens are a favorite art theme of mine.  At one point in time, I decorated part of my house in "early chicken".  I would have snapped this quilt up if it had been for sale back in my "chicken period".

Maybe I would even buy it now.

And finally, a quilt featuring a stag.  Not welcome in your average garden, but a beauty nonetheless.

Again, if any of the makers of these quilts come forward, I would love to give proper credit to them.

Do you have any favorite library art?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Civil War Sunday - "Pictures of the Dead"

A week ago, I was inside this church building near Sharpsburg, MD, along with a crowd of people visiting for a certain anniversary.

As we heard cannons booming nearby, a speaker spoke to us:

Imagine yourself inside this church, 150 years ago this week.  You are a member of the Old German Brethren, called "Dunkers" by the locals.  Things have not gone easy since the War Between the States broke out almost 1 1/2 years ago.  Your home state, Maryland, is under military occupation by the Federals.  And the Confederates have invaded.  Rumor has it that they are nearby.  Everyone is nervous, at the Sunday service.  If you say the wrong things, you can be arrested.

But you, and your brethren, are pacifists.  What can you do?

A few days later, the church is empty.  It is early morning. 

Suddenly there is gunfire and a battle is raging around your church.

 (Photos taken 9/16/12 at the Dunker Church, Antietam Battlefield near Sharpsburg, MD, courtesy of AM).

By the time darkness falls, there will be some 23,000. casualties on both sides (dead, injured, missing).  The name will live on in history....Antietam. 

We are so fortunate that this battlefield has been preserved (unlike so many others) and we can walk its fields.

Photographers were on the scene quickly and took pictures of the dead.  Mathew Brady exhibited the photos at his New York City studio in October of 1862.

For one of the first times, civilians could see the true horror of war.  One famous photo shows a dead Confederate gun crew  with the Dunker Church in the background.

To quote from the New York Times review of the exhibition:

But there is a poetry in the scene that no green holds or smiling landscapes can possese. Here lie men who have not hesitated to seal and lamp their convictions with their blood, -- men who have lung themselves into the great gulf of the until own to teach world that there are truths [???] than life, wrongs and shames more to be dreaded than death. And if there be on earth one spot where the grass will grow greener than on another when the hunt, Summer comes, where the leaves of Antumn will shop more lightly which they fall like a benediction upon a work completed and promise fulfilled, it is these soldiers' graves.
The exhibition was called, simply, "Pictures of the Dead".

But it would not prevent the war from continuing.  Or, the issuing of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago yesterday, September 22, 1863, in the wake of that bloodiest of days.

That bloodiest of battles, that began at a church of people believing in peace.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sustainable Saturday - North Carolina Moonshine

Legal moonshine, distilled in Asheville, North Carolina from a heirloom corn variety believed to be lost, in a distillery owned by a woman.  What a natural post for Sustainable Saturday, in a city that is one of the most green in this nation.  (If you aren't a "drinking person", please join me again next Saturday for another exciting episode of Sustainable Saturday).

"Moonshine", a.k.a. corn whiskey, has a very long and distinguished history in our country.  Made right, with high quality corn, and high quality water (and nothing else) it distills into a very smooth clear whiskey.  It can also be aged in barrels once used for bourbon - a type of recycling as bourbon barrels can only be used once.

Let's take a little tour of the Troy and Sons moonshine operation in Asheville.

Our tour guide, the sister of the woman who owns the distillery, walked us through the process of making "moonshine". (Incidentally, although I believe the term "moonshine" is a common description for the product of unlicensed liquor making, this product is marketed under the name "moonshine".)

First, a mash of a heirloom corn called "Crooked Creek Corn" and water, is allowed to ferment.  Up to this point, the beginning process is something like beer making.

Crooked Creek Corn is an open pollinated white corn with a high fat content.  It only produces one ear per plant, and the finicky plants are susceptible to wind damage. The tour guide assured us that they have no plans to genetically engineer this corn, which their operation will hopefully save from extinction.

This initial fermentation is done in the blue barrels you can see in back of the still below.

Unlike beer, however, no hops are added, and a distilling process is begun in this still.  The resulting 190 proof liquid is cut with water down to 80 proof.

The result is a very smooth clear whiskey that warms your stomach quite nicely - what locals would call a good "sipping whiskey".

I'm not that much into whiskey but I could definitely see this being added to certain mixed drinks.
The other variety Troy and Sons makes is amber colored, aged in these former bourbon barrels.

The ceiling of the tasting room is lined with wood from these barrels and the walls are nicely decorated, too.

Yes, we had to buy one - in a North Carolina state owned liquor store.  I was pleased to see that these stores promote North Carolina products.

A toast, to liquid sustainable agriculture.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cheerwine Ribs and Green Man Beer

There are three things you talk about in North Carolina at your peril if you are a tourist:
1. Politics
2. Religion
3. Barbeque

#1 and #2 are obvious.  #3 - well, barbeque is a religion in North Carolina (I was told that by several people) and everyone has their own theory on which style is the best.  After talking to several people, we had several recommendations.  No two were the same.  As tourists in North Carolina visiting from upstate NY, we now had a problem.  Where should we go?

We ended up in a "casual barbeque" restaurant in Asheville, NC called 12 Bones, where #1 and #3 merged.

We never made it there two years ago when we visited Asheville for the first time.  First, we were never able to find it and second, we never realized it was only open for lunch.  (Not being able to find things in Asheville is the norm, as the highways in Asheville form a Moibus Strip.)

12 Bones has become nationally famous because a certain person who happens to be the current President of the United States has visited.  Not once, but twice.
(Photo on the wall of 12 Bones - hopefully OK for me to take picture of.)
Of course, being tourists, we had to ask where Obama had sat, and our waitress pointed to the table next to where we were sitting.

And that is where Ms. "I don't care about politics or celebrities" swung into action. Of course, the waitress could have been putting us on.  But let's assume she wasn't.  I had to sit at that table!  The table where the President had sat!

We looked at the nice couple sitting at that table, who (to their amusement) had overheard the conversation.

"We were getting ready to leave anyway" the woman said.  "Would you like me to take your picture? You can sit here and we'll take it."  So we quickly scooted over to The Table.

And so she took our picture.  I'm not going to post it but I immediately sent it to a long list of friends.

Instead, I will post a picture of my meal, on The Table. Ribs, corn pudding, vinegar cole slaw, and corn bread.

The beverage is Green Man beer, one of Asheville's many local beers.  Yes (as the locals would say) I am a Drinking Woman.
These are baby back ribs, and they were cooked with a Cheerwine glaze.  I know purists all over North Carolina probably would not vote for these flavors, but this Northerner would vote the straight Cheerwine ticket if it was on the ballot.
The walls are covered in stickers.

Of course, there was an Obama sticker.
Some other stickers.
And last but not least...I don't know if this was political commentary but I got a big kick out of it.

I don't know if this was 12 Bones' recipe for Cheerwine Ribs, but it sure sounded good.

Whatever we had yesterday, it sure tasted good.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tailgate Market? Farmers Market?

Farmers Market?  Tailgate market?

In all my previous writings about "farmers markets" I never dreamed that the word would mean different things in different parts of the United States.

Not until I arrived in western North Carolina, that is.

In my adopted home of the Triple Cities in upstate New York, a farmers market is anywhere local farmers gather to sell their goods. We don't have any permanent market structures here in my part of upstate New York, so one day out of the week farmers may gather in a county park, another day in a town park, still another day in a private parking lot. Or on a city street.  In my neighborhood of Westover, they gather at the YMCA.  They set up a booth near their truck, and out come the goods.

Even "downstate", 150 miles from where I live, they call these events Farmers Markets.

Not so in Western North Carolina.

In Western North Carolina, what we in the Triple Cities call a "farmers market" is called a Tailgate Market.  Here is a sign announcing a farme....I mean, a tailgate market, held yesterday in the parking lot of the Asheville, North Carolina visitors center.

A few blocks away, another tailgate market set up in the parking lot of the French Broad Co-Op. (The French Broad, for all of you with less than clean minds, is not what you think.  It is a river that runs through Asheville.)
Meanwhile, what is a Farmers Market?  It is a market in a permanent building, such as the one I visited in Raleigh (the state capital) in March of this year.  Or the Western North Carolina Farmers Market in Asheville, which I will blog about another time.

Does it matter?

Yes, because we communicate with words, and I never realized I may have been confusing some of my readers.

Whatever you call them...I love visiting them whenever I travel in the summer.

What do they call these markets where you live?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Blooms - The Last Flowers of Summer

Today, I am in Asheville, North Carolina, several hundred miles from home.  Trees are starting to turn here, and it still is summer.

Because I have these photos ready, though, I am going to concentrate on flowers from back home in upstate NY for this last Wednesday Blooms post of summer.

The first couple of pictures were taken in early and mid September in Binghamton, New York.

A mystery ornamental. Does anyone know what this lovely flower is?

Smoke tree.

This was taken in the small town of Owego, NY.  For some reason the blue is very prominent.  This is a yellow trumpet vine.
Last but not least - near a grapevine in Binghamton, I found these lovelies.  Any guesses?

Hopefully, after I get back home next week, I'll be able to share some of the blooms of my travels with you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jeff Shaara and the Sideways Photo

It's all your fault, Jeff Shaara.

Some deserving people never get the fame or respect that they deserve within their lifetimes.

Sometimes, it is up to their children to continue their legacy and reap the fame. The story of Jeff Shaara, best selling historical fiction writer, is one such story and what a story it is.  I wanted to tell your story and tell you how much a pleasure it was to meet you (and I will, in another post) but there is only one problem.

Your picture keeps coming out sideways.  And therein lies a tale.

I bought a new laptop and brought it on a trip. (Mistake #1-playing FarmVille instead of learning to use the new computer.)

I had not tested out any of the photo functions and it turns out that the Windows 7 on this computer is not exactly the Windows 7 on my 2 1/2 year old laptop. There is no way to rotate photos.

And when I tried to find the software I had installed on my old computer to compress pictures, I couldn't find it.  Nor could I remember what it was called.

So, to make a long story short, I went to C-Net to find some free software to edit and rotate photos.  Last night I finally had a decent internet connection.  The time was right!

I downloaded a nice sounding photo editing software and started to install it.

The first screen started out by having checkboxes defaulting to a new home page - I know this can happen with freeware.  Alarm bells weren't quite sounding.  I unchecked the boxes and went on.

Then a page came up that had alarm bells screaming.  It wanted to install a browser, something I had never heard of. The software rules said it would monitor websites I had visited and would collect information about my activity on Facebook (!) and, while it was at it, it wanted me to install something that would allow me to get all these cool games for my computer.

Danger, Will Robinson!  (oops, dating myself)  I think I have just downloaded adware or, worse, spyware.

I should know way better than that.

I backed out in a hurry but the offending program is still somewhere on my brand new computer.

Now, this is one good way to ruin a vacation.  So, folks, this photo may be the last one you see for a week or so.  It taught me how much I depend on photos in my blog now.  I will get to the Jeff Shaara story the next time I have a good connection, but it will be without photo.

Lesson learned! (and thank you, Jeff Shaara.)

But I'm still going to keep playing FarmVille.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Best of AM - The Continuing Tragedy of the Binghamton Salt Babies

I first ran this post in September of 2009.  This incident reached the national news - I remember it on the cover of a magazine when I was very young.  I never dreamed I would live in that community for a great part of my life.  And, I have not seen the woman in question in a long time.  I wonder what ended up happening to her and if she was really the person I was told she was.

The continuing tragedy of the Binghamton Salt Babies - more Forgotten History

There is an older black [this information is relevant] woman who has been seen for years in downtown Binghamton. She appears (to the casual observer) to be mentally ill.  She screams at the noontime lunch crowd. 

I was told recently that this woman was the nurse accused of the accidental salt poisonings of newborns in the Binghamton Salt Baby tragedy of 1962.  She had gone insane from the truth of what she had done, or so the story went.

I remember this news-I was young and the "salt babies" stuck in my mind.  I remember reading it in either Life or Look magazine for some reason-I wonder how reliable that memory is.  It was several years after I moved up here before I found out the incident had happened here in Binghamton.

In brief, a number of newborn babies at Binghamton General Hospital were fed hospital-mixed formula where salt was accidentally used instead of sugar.  The salt and sugar canisters were on the same shelf.   7 babies died from salt poisoning, several others were saved using dialysis.

So is this unfortunate older woman (who could possibly be in her 70's) the nurse mentioned in the Time article?  (Time had said she was a "Negro"-and, a pregnant mother of 3)  Was she ever charged with a crime?  Why were sugar and salt canisters stored so closely together?  What was the rest of her life like?  I could certainly see a mother of 3 not being able to live with this knowledge, if indeed she was the guilty party. (or, even more horribly-was she a scapegoat?  That was, after all, 1962.)

And, more of interest, what of the families who lost children? 

There doesn't seem to be very much online for this happening of 47 years ago....another instance of Forgotten History (except to the families involved), lost in the mists of time.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Civil War Sunday - Playing At War

War isn't make-believe.

I am down in Maryland visiting the South Mountain battlefield, (actually, scattered between two Maryland state parks and some sites on private land) and also, the Antietam battlefield for the 150th anniversary of  these battles.

Antietam was the bloodiest one day in U.S. Civil War history.  South Mountain is less well known, but was important in its own ways.

Yesterday, I went to the Antietam reenactment, about 2 miles from the actual battlefield.  It was very well put on (I thought) despite the large traffic jam to get in - and one thing they did impressed me very much.  (No pictures - sorry - I can't upload thanks to a balky internet connection.  Ah, travel....)

They (several times) honored the vets in the audience.  They honored a soldier just home from deployment and his two children, picked from the audience.  And they made the point, over and over, that war is not play. They don't put on the reenactments to entertain, but rather to teach.

I don't think I have ever been to a Civil War reenactment that has glorified war, but this one really brought the point home.

And today, I am linking this commemoration of battle in our United States 150 years ago as we fought for the survival of our Union (yes, I am a Northerner) with what is happening to one of my cousins.  My relative serves our country in the Foreign Service in an embassy in a country I will not name.  I blogged about this earlier this week in my post "Half a World Away". (I'm not linking, again, due to said internet problems.)  For what it is worth, this relative was born in a former Confederate state and grew up in a state that stayed with the Union.

But, we are all one, and I would like to tell the world we are one, despite our sometimes very verbal differences - especially in a Presidential election year.

My relative, after today, will be a little closer to home as this relative is being evacuated.  The embassy, let's just say, is a little the worse for wear.  Where it is is not in a state of war, but there has been war in several directions.

It seems a bit strange, visiting long-ago battlefields when a relative is in danger.  But I have to remember the lesson of the reenactors - they do not play at war.  Their business is serious, and it is to teach us the horrors of war and hate.  My relative is learning it first hand - hopefully I will never have to.

So, I would like to be lazy today and have a fellow blogger write my blog as things other than the Civil War are on my mind.  Well, not exactly writing for me.  I would love to introduce you to one of many fine Civil War blogs, John Banks' Civil War Blog. 

The John Banks blog contains a wealth of information about Antietam.  

Another blog of note about Antietam is one called Virtual Antietam.  I hate to call battlefields 'beautiful' but Antietam is a beautiful battlefield.  This will be my second visit there.

I hope to be able to bring you a current post in the very near future, Internet willing.
In the meantime, dear relative, stay safe.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sustainability Saturday and Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - September 2012

Decisions, decisions.  Today is the 15th of the month. Normally, I participate in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  If you came by today to see what is blooming this month at my house, you are going to see something a little bit different because I am on the road, at a Civil War reenactment, with a balky internet connection.  So this will be just a little bit different.

Thank you to May Dreams Gardens, once again, for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, and please be sure to visit some of the many gardeners from all over the world posting today.

I normally do a Sustainable Saturday post so I am trying to blend this and GBBD in one post.

In our small yard, we don't have many areas with sun.  We took advantage of our yard this year by growing red and purple peppers.  Groundhogs, our bane, don't seem to bother them.  They have been rewarding us with large yields and the plants are still very much in bloom.  After all, blooms are not all about ornamental.

Here's the red pepper.

And purple
Of course we still have some ornamentals in bloom.

Here's our sedum:  For some reason a lot smaller than in previous years.

Annual geraniums.

And beautiful white marigolds.

 In a pot, we tried growing cucumbers.  The groundhog stripped it, so we had to fence the pot.  Not very lovely or photo worthy, but the 3 plants in the pot did come back to give us a handful of cukes.

In the back of our house, we have two  Earth Boxes.  We grew lettuces this spring in one.  Right now, we have snow peas growing in the other. We have heirloom tomatoes in the other box.  They aren't doing well but our tomatoes at the community garden haven't done well this year, either.

What's nice is that the company that makes Earth Boxes is located in Scranton, PA (home of The Office), which makes them almost local.

I would also like to share some regional pictures with you, although it is not in the true spirit of GBBD because these pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago.

While on an exercise walk, I snapped this picture of grapes growing in a front yard in Binghamton, NY.  This was peeking through a fence.  What a pleasant surprise!

And then, part of sustainability is attracting beneficial insects.

Of course, there is room for growing ornamental (especially those that attract beneficial insects and butterflies - this picture was taken near the grapes. (and, I finally caught a butterfly on camera.  Yes!)

We are fortunate to have neighbors who don't care that we grow some veggies in our front yard (mixed in with our flowers)

Have you tried growing veggies and fruit in your front yard?   Has it been a positive experience for you?  Or do neighbors/zoning prevent you from doing this?

Happy GBBD!