Monday, November 30, 2015

Music Monday - Songs for a Last Day of November

On this last Monday of November, we take one last deep breath, recovering from our Thanksgiving.

Then, what we call "The Holidays" in the United States kick into high gear.  I try to keep things simple, and this year will be no exception.

Now, it is time to think of family, in all of its imperfections.

Imagine Dragons - I Bet My Life, is a song about family and how we sometimes take directions different from what our family may have wanted us to go.  I was one of those "in a different direction" people and have never regretted it.    I can even forgive the commercialization of this song in a Jeep commercial, because otherwise I never would have known about this song.

Don't be disturbed by the fight at the beginning - watch the direction this song takes.
This is one of the top most listened to You Tube songs of all time - Happy, by Pharrell Williams.  This song is so upbeat, you can't help but dance.

Best Day of My Life - American Authors.  Not that I would get a tattoo to commemorate the best day of my life...

Finally, "just because":  Thankful, by Bob Baker - being thankful for...well, take about five minutes, or join this video at about the 1:05 mark, where it..well, becomes a little interesting.

This is the final day of November's NaBloPoMo.

What is your today like?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Not the Nature of Things

Normally, by now, we would have had some snow in my part of upstate New York.  Check out the stats for Binghamton, New York, here.  Below average snow.  Above average temperatures.

Not that I m complaining.

Normally, the sun is a stranger at this time of year.  But not this year.

A mild sunrise on Friday, as I participated in what Americans call Black Friday-a day of shopping bargains.
Later that day, in a normal year, there would not have been a dandelion blooming in a green lawn.
Today, alyssum should not have been blooming in my front yard.
A wood sorrel should not have been blooming in the back.

I would not have taken an exercise walk in nearby Binghamton (still trying to shake off a sickness I've had for the past week) and heard birds singing and a lawnmower starting.  And, when I got back I would not have seen what I call my too-late mum, finally blooming. It's one of several hardy mums I bought last year.  All of them survived our harsh winter, and bloomed - but this one, apparently, didn't get enough sun.

So the buds hung on and hung on and never opened.  Until this past week, when the too-late buds finally decided to open, and were immediately hit by a freeze.
I'll never even know what color they were supposed to be.

Guess this plant will be moved next year.

In a normal year, I would have been letting autumn go. 

But not this time.  It's not the nature of things.  Things don't seem right.  Things are not in balance.

Today, I don't care.

I'm enjoying the sun.  And hoping against hope that the snow will not come.  Well, maybe just a little.  And then, it will be time for spring.

This is day 29 of NaBloPoMo.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Local Saturday - Dhremo

Today, in the United States, it was Small Business Saturday.

We visited several local businesses and bought holiday presents at a couple of them.  One featured jewelry made in the United States, made with recycled materials.

The other sold unusual gifts, including something I think the recipient will also be delighted with.

The people in the businesses we visited all seemed delighted at the influx of visitors. But sometimes, a regular gift is not enough.

Today, I read about a most inspirational gift for anyone you may know who is struggling with serious illness.  It made me think of a friend, who used to dress in costumes for her chemo and post them on Facebook.  Her husband would write her songs.  

One of my Facebook friends (and a small business owner), Sandi Tuttle, has written about her cancer journey (when she is up to it) on her blog.  This Small Business Saturday, she is in rehab, recovering from a recent hospitalization.

So many, this holiday season, don't need an everyday gift.  They need the gift of hope.

Enter Dhremo Therapy.  

These are decals for IV bags created by Marsha, an artist, sculptor,and breast cancer survivor, and sold on her website.  You get a set of five in each order, and Marsha donates $1. to a cancer fighting organization.  These decals are:    Miracles, Hope, Vitality, Light & Love, and Clarity.  

November can be so dreary in upstate New York, where I live.  But today, there is a new sparkle in the sky - a new season of hope. Of dreaming.  Of taking the depression of a serious diagnosis and turning it into a powerful weapon.  Dhremo.

Do you have a story of survival to share today?

Today is day 28 of NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Snippets of a Thanksgiving Day

Today is the last post of my week of thankfulness. Yesterday was a Thanksgiving Day in upstate New York that ended with some unexpected news.

The simple things are what matter.  Having food on the table.

Stuffing a turkey.
Watching a parade in New York City on television.  The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade with its gigantic floats is a holiday tradition.

Pumpkin Pie.

A beautiful sunset.

But then, on Facebook, I read the news that the sister of one of my late aunts had died earlier in the day.  I had only met this woman, whose name was Helen, twice.  But my aunt (actually the first wife of my father's youngest brother, but to me she remained my aunt even after they divorced) had spoken of her often.

The years pass so quickly.  Helen was raised, along with my aunt, in Oklahoma.  She was educated with her siblings, in a one room schoolhouse.  Her mother was her teacher.  It was a world that seemed remote to me, who grew up in New York City.

Later in life, the peacocks she kept were her pride and joy.  My aunt kept some of the peacock feathers as decorations.  I don't know if Helen loved flowers the way my aunt did, but I can imagine that she did.

In the blink of an eye, as the expression goes, an ordinary day had taken an unexpected direction.  As much as family can frustrate, in the end, they are the most important thing we have.  Along with good memories of those who are no longer with us.

In honor of Helen's life, I end with a Thanksgiving bouquet.

What are you thankful for today?

Today is day 27 of NaBloPoMo.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Habitat for Humanity

I first wrote this post in November of 2010, after my spouse and I visited the Habitat for Humanity headquarters. Today, as we in the United States give thanks for what we have, it is well that we think of those who don't share in our bounty.

Today is day 26 of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month.

Habitat for Humanity: Happy Thanksgiving

Today, of course, is the American Thanksgiving.  On this day of giving thanks we should pause.  Those of us who are fortunate enough to have jobs and family, and a warm home should take the time to think of those who don't.  I wrote this post for Thanksgiving of 2010, and I feel it is still timely.

In our March, 2010 trip to Americus, Georgia, we visited Habitat for Humanity headquarters.   This worthy organization is well known for its support of decent, affordable housing both in this country and overseas.

Besides the headquarters, on the grounds is what could be best described as (with no disrespect meant) a "slum theme park".

The first two pictures are recreations of representative "before" pictures.  The final picture shows Habitat for Humanity housing solutions.  All solutions are sensitive to native cultural requirements.  For example, where a culture would encourage a family to live in one common room, that is what Habitat will build for them.

 Clustered around some of the "after" examples were people visiting from other countries, examining the exhibits closely.
Our local chapter of Habitat for Humanity once posted examples of the work they have done in our community. (One of their homes, in our neighborhood, was flooded and, I presumed destroyed- in our September 2011 floods - a sad footnote to this post.  And, I can't help but think of all the people impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and other weather disasters, since.)

A long way from a small town in Georgia to the Triple Cities.  But in a way, we are all interconnected, are we?

We in this country have so much to give thanks for.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fall Fancies - Post 2200

Yes, this is the two thousand two hundredth post on my blog.  I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate this milestone.  I could not have done it without my readers, so, if you are reading this, thank you!

Tomorrow, it is Thanksgiving in the United States.  One of our traditions is to eat a bird called the turkey.  The turkey I am about to describe may or may not be the bird my foreign readers call "turkey" but bear with me.

Meleagris gallopavo, or the domestic turkey, originated in North America and has been domesticated into a number of varieties. When I was growing up in the 1950's and 1960's, it was eaten primarily at Thanksgiving. 

But the wild turkeys, more and more, hang around suburban backyards.  My mother in law, when she lived in a New York City suburb, would commonly see them in her back yard.

Today, I feature pictures taken by my guest photographer while visiting a relative in Massachusetts.  In keeping with Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for this woman being in my life.  The amount of support and friendship she has given me is more than I have given her back, and she isn't a bad photographer, either.  No, wait.  She's good.  She's really good!
Her relative feeds these turkeys, and if they are not fed by noontime they will rap on her patio window.  The domestic versions are usually all white (although there are colored domestic versions).  Isn't that glossy bronze color majestic?

Years ago, when we lived in rural Arkansas, my spouse and I raised Bronze turkeys, which look very much like their wild cousins.  The taste - Turkey ++++.
Here, a turkey peers through the window of a storm door.  "Hey, dinnertime" the turkey says.

And finally, they are about to be fed.

Tomorrow, their domestic cousins will feed us.

And if turkey isn't enough, how about some cranberry sauce?  Here I feature my recipe for cranberry sauce - so easy to make.

Without it, turkey just isn't complete.

If you celebrate the American Thanksgiving Day, what are some of your favorite foods?

This is day 25 of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why Should I Be Grateful?

I usually try to make my posts positive, even if I am not thinking that way.  Sometimes I can talk myself into feeling positive.  Today, I am having trouble.

This Sunday I blogged "This week, I plan a week of gratefulness posts.  I can be thankful for many things this week, including family and good health.".

My mother in law is getting out of a rehab facility today.  She is in her upper 80's.  In the United States, a person (especially the elderly) may be put in an inpatient rehabilitation center after a hospitalization if they need intensive therapy and monitoring to return to a normal functioning.  In my mother in law's case, she was hospitalized for nearly a week and was in the rehab facility for over a month.

When I would visit her, I had to walk down a long corridor.  The doors of each room are open to the view of anyone who walks by.  I tried to avert your eyes but it is hard.  I saw room after room with a senior sitting in a chair, if they weren't in therapy.

I thought of these people - once young, limber, hard working, vital, perhaps athletic, loving, creative.

What happened?

Strokes, falls, broken bones, cancer, you name it.

As I write this, someone I know in her 80's is in comfort care.  She fell in February and hit her head.  It's been a horrible journey - hospitalization, acute care, a nursing home.  Now, there is nothing more they can do for her.  Watching what has happened to her has been a painful process for her family.  I can not imagine the sufferings this woman experienced as her condition deteriorated.

I think of friends and acquaintances who have passed on.  Several from cancer.  One from a liver disorder.  A couple from heart attacks. They ranged in age from 13 to 63.   I could say that aging is a privilege, but, today, I don't feel that way.

Why do these things happen?  I've never been a questioning person or a spiritual person.  This is changing.

I try to appreciate the world around me in this, my 62nd year.  I express gratefulness when I wake up every morning.  I enjoy the sunrise and the sunset.  But then I think of those (mostly women) in the rehab facility.  Will I be there one day? 

I look at my changing body, the wrinkles, the deterioration of balance, the senior moments.  We like to make light of them, because sometimes they aren't funny.

And then I worry about my mother in law. 

We will see what happens when my mother in law gets out today. The staff of the rehab has worked hard with her, and she has worked hard in turn.  But will the hard work continue once home?  Or will she return to her lifting chair and her favorite TV channel?

Is there, in the end, such a thing as aging with grace?

Can I condemn someone for giving up when I have never been through what they have been through?  But, as one of her caregivers, it frustrates me because I can see what will happen if she doesn't change her ways.  She's been given this chance.  Will she take it?

I don't know if she will.

Will this be my fate one day?   I am grateful that we aren't given that knowledge, usually, until towards the end of our lives.

How do you feel about your aging?

This is day 24 of NaBloPoMo.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Music Monday - Alice's Restaurant Massacree

For many people of my age in the United States, Thanksgiving music consists of one classic, over 18 minute epic story - Alice's Restaurant, by Arlo Guthrie.

On Thanksgiving Day, 1965, Arlo Guthrie, the son of noted folk singer Woodie Guthrie, visited a friend and her husband in Massachusetts .  They needed to have their garbage taken out but the dump was closed.  What happened after that is told in a way that is - well, classic and also hysterical.

For years, we listened to this on the way down to seeing my in laws for Thanksgiving (an almost three hour drive).  Public radio still plays this every Thanksgiving.

In a way it's dated.  But in a way, it's not.  Is Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton dated?  Listen and decide for yourself.

If you have 18 minutes to spare, I invite you to listen, to get a little taste of folk America.

Today is day 23 of NaBloPoMo.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Grateful for the Beauty of the Natural World

This week, I plan a week of gratefulness posts.  I can be thankful for many things this week, including family and good health.

The American Thanksgiving holiday is this Thursday.  On a news program called "Sunday Morning", a lot of the show was devoted to art and food.

It made me think about how beautiful our natural world is, and all the ways people find to appreciate it.

The show featured an artist who lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who paints with coffee and tea.

I invite you to explore his art and how he gets the colors he needs from coffee and teas from all over the world. Some of the paintings have an international vibe; others feature drinking of - what else, coffee and tea.

Some of his art is public, on the grounds of Duquesne University.

But art isn't just man made.

Outside my home in upstate New York, a couple of flowers are still blooming.  This has to be some kind of record and is so appreciated in an area just days from our first snowfall. (Michigan?  Colorado?  Thank you for bearing the brunt of winter so far).

White alyssum.  Soon to be a distant memory, but taking in some of the last rays of sun before winter weather hits.  Thank you to those who invented the iPhone camera.

Purple alyssum (which came out a bit blurry) right next to it.

I can also be grateful to the blogging community and I want to share some posts on art.

First, a Canadian blogger, Laurel at Alphabet Salad, who has been sharing her adventures with various type of art - zentangles, photography, and what she is learning in drawing class.

Second, a Nebraskan blogger, Amy, who shares her love of drawing.

And finally, all the bloggers who have blogged about adult coloring books.

So many of these things I have blogged about are visual, and I also think of a man I used to work with, who lost his sight, but not his love of music.  He is a drummer, and plays in a local band.

How do you appreciate the beauty of the world?

This is Day 22 of NaBloPoMo.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Local Saturday - Drain Flies and Sunsets


How could something I had never heard of until today be causing me so much trouble?

Every summer we have an infestation of fruit flies.  Due to our mild October and November weather, they seem to be hanging on longer than usual.  Normally, by this time of year, they are a memory.

But although some of them were acting like normal fruit flies, others weren't.

Yesterday and today, I entered my bathroom to use the sink and found, to my amazement (other emotions were in play, too) little flies hanging around the drain.  And in my kitchen, the same thing.

Tens of them.  Daring me to brush my teeth and take my morning pill.

Still later later, I had something that looked like a really small moth alight on me.  I looked at it closely. 

Then I went online.

One search later, I knew what my problem was - drain flies.

This is my first experience with them, and if I can figure out how to fight them, I'll let you know.  We went to the local hardware store and their solutions were a bit on the toxic side.

But then, this evening, Nature decided to mess with me some more.

I looked up from my blogging and saw a beautiful sky.  I ran outside just in time to take a couple of pictures from my back porchlet (too small to be called a porch), with the sun reflecting from a creek behind my house.

OK, Nature, I'm not (that) angry at you right now.  The sunset apology is accepted.  But tomorrow, as far as the drain flies, it is war.

Have any of you, my valued readers, had experience with drain flies?

Day 21 of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Falling Friday - Were These boots Made for Walking?

Shoes.  Fashion.  They make you feel good.  They decorate you.  They give you confidence.
Nice boots
But the ones you think are the safest can cause falls.

My mother in law learned this the hard way on Saturday.  I haven't been blogging much about the care giving portion of my life but it has been an interesting last month or so.  My mother in law was hospitalized in October for what turned out to be pneumonia and a small blood clot - and then has been in rehab for all of November.

Saturday, she fell in the hallway of the facility.

She said her shoes caught on the carpet.  She fell backwards.  Fortunately, at the ER, everything checked out.  Thankfully.  This time.

My mother in law is right - the wrong shoes can cause falls.

At the falls prevention class I attended from May to July of this year, they gave examples of shoes the elderly should not wear, and invited us to bring shoes in that we weren't sure of. 

What kind of shoes did not pass muster?

House shoes.  Shoes with smooth plastic or leather soles.  Worn out shoes. Shoes that don't give support (I had a fun time shopping for boots for her yesterday - some have absolutely no support whatsoever).  Slip on shoes (they are less adjustable than shoes with laces).

Here is some more advice on shoes that may help the elderly.

Now that I will be partially responsible for my mother in law's shoe shopping (along with other family members) I will need to take this advice to heart. 

My mother in law needs a pair of boots for the winter.  Sitting in rehab, she picked out a pair of boots she wanted from a footwear catalog - nice looking with 1 1/2 inch heels. Boots are important where we live in upstate New York, on the edge of the snowbelt.  We easily have 80 inches (2.03 meters) or more of snow in a winter.

But the description, unlike some other boots in the catalog, did not describe the soles as having "traction".  So I picked out, from a local store, the boots I took a picture of, above.  You can't see it, but they have good support and also good treads on the soles.

But now I'm not so sure.  My mother in law enjoys wearing nice clothes.  I don't want to deprive her of that.  But I don't want her to fall again, either.  My spouse will take them to her today and have her try them on.  We'll go from there.

Do you have any experiences of buying shoes for seniors to share?

Today is day 20 of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday - The Dilemma of the Ginkgo

They lie there so innocently...but beware.

In 2013, I blogged about the ginkgo tree.  Its yellow fall colored, fan shaped leaves make for an incredible color display.  But then, there are the fruits that fall. 

2014, when the leaves fell late
Here a young ginkgo tree glows in an early November sunrise in downtown Binghamton, New York.

But there is one problem with these lovely trees.  It's a good thing there is no such thing as smell-o-blog, as you might be exiting this blog at full speed if you were able to sniff the first picture above.

You see, there is something about ginkgoes, as I blogged about two years ago.   Something a bit...well, read the post and see.

The Dilemma of the Ginkgo
Last year, some streets in downtown Binghamton, New York were rebuilt and re landscaped. This spring, I noticed that some of the young trees planted were ginkgos.

Ginkgoes are not extremely popular here in Binghamton.  I see more of the trees up in Ithaca, and I saw a good number in Iowa City when I used to visit my late aunt.  This was back in the 1980's and 1990's and I can remember them on the University of Iowa campus.  I've also seen them in New York City.

The ginkgo tree is also called the Maidenhair tree.  It is an almost indestructible tree.  In Japan they are known as the "bearer of hope" as a number of them survived the 1945 atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. One of the surviving trees is some 200 years old.
The leaves turn a lovely yellow in the fall, too.  But before you rush out to buy this wonderful tree, there is something you should know.

The females produce a seed, surrounded by a pulp.  Fortunately, there is no such thing as "smell o blog" because you would be gagging just about now.  Some people say the smell resembles the smell of vomit.  Others say dog poo.  I tend towards the dog poo camp.

That patch of fallen leaves on the West Side of Binghamton, to be accurate, reeks.

This is what the offending (bare) tree looked like in early November, the offending fruits barely visible.

Yes, dear readers, this is the same Gingko Biloba that some claim enhances your memory, and may have other medicinal qualities.

Many cities were playing it safe by permitting only male trees.  But nature has a way, folks (as anyone who has seen the movie Jurassic Park knows), and it would seem that some of those male trees are now - well, they aren't males any more.

And these cities who planted these wonder trees now wonder what to do.

I wonder if the tree I photographed on the West Side of Binghamton started its life as a male.

Will the City of Binghamton have to face that dilemma in a few year when those small downtown trees mature and perhaps....well, stink?

Have you had this problem where you live?

Today is day 19 of NaBloPoMo.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fall Fancies - Goodbye to Fall

It is still fall on the calendar here in upstate New York, but we have formally entered the season of "fell". 

A local writer pondered our autumn season, and said we should divide it into two parts: fall (the beautiful turning of leaves) and fell (leaves off the trees, snow on the ground). 

All we lack now is the snow, but our trees are bare and we are transitioning into winter.

Let us, now, take a look back at some of the highlights of fall.
Sunsets.  Does it get more beautiful than this?

Near the historic Broome County courthouse, during the golden hour right after sunrise.
A library garden (Broome County library, Binghamton, NY) at noontime.
Bradford pears glowing near sunrise.

Goodbye fall.  By this weekend, our unseasonable warm, sunny weather will be a memory.  The winter season, ignoring the calendar, will begin.

What has your weather been like?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The March of the Jurors

A march around a courthouse made my spouse wonder.

Yesterday, my spouse was called to jury duty, a civic duty required from time to time for those who live in the United States.

For the benefit of my readers who do not live in the United States, here's a brief explanation of what jury duty is like.  

We use a jury system to try people accused of crimes.  A jury of "their peers" decides guilt or innocence.  Each week, a pool of people is called - juries are selected.

For my spouse (who ended up not having to serve-the case did not go to trial), he saw some of the experience through the eyes of someone else - his elderly mother, who has mobility problems.  And, it made him wonder.

The jurors had to gather at the Broome County courthouse, in downtown Binghamton, New York.  As part of their duty, they were marched a couple of blocks - and up a flight of outdoor steps.  Then, after the case was disposed of, the same thing in reverse.

At least two of the group were using canes for mobility.  No ramps or other help for disabled was evident.  The people using canes had to walk, and use those steps.  There are a lot of elderly in our area. 

Normally, at this time of year, there might have been snow on the ground, too.  Fortunately, we are having mild weather.

Nevertheless, it made my spouse, and me, wonder.  What happens to the citizens who can't take the march of the jurors?

What if my mother in law had been called?  She needs a walker.  She is prone to falls. We, and his brother/wife, are her caregivers. What would they have done with her if she had been called to jury duty?

Those days, for her, may be over.  A woman of pride, would it bother her if she was not able to take the march of the jurors, and may have needed to be excused?

I hope we never have to find out.

Have you served on a jury?  What was your experience?

Today is day 17 of NaBloPoMo.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Music Monday - Manhattan Tower and Other Odds and Ends

I admit some of my musical tastes could be considered a bit "different" from that of the usual 62 year old American baby boomer.   Camp Sussex, the summer camp I was fortunate enough to attend for four sessions back in the early 1960's, thanks to a New York City charity, can claim responsibility.

We campers were, I now realize, exposed to a great variety of music.  We would sing before dinner, and at night, and campers would put on a play at the end of the three week session.

When we assembled for dinner each night in the dining hall, this was the song we would sing right before saying grace.   Does anyone remember Mitch Miller?

How about the play (and movie) South Pacific?  We put that on as one of our performances - here is "I'm Going to Wash that Man Right out of My Hair".  Any Broadway fans here?

It's so hard to believe that "You're a Grand Old Flag" is almost 100 years old.  And there we were singing it, at night, at summer camp.
But the winner in eclectic music has to be this, something called Manhattan Tower. 

I searched high and low for years for this.  Recently, I turned to the Internet for this memory (we performed this, too) and - apparently I am a member of a small group of people who just adore this piece from the 1940's (rerecorded in the 1950's).

But then, I grew up in New York City, and, in some ways, it will always be my home.

If you have about 12 minutes, give it a listen.  It's dated might just grow on you.

How about you?  Do you have some musical tastes that those of your generation may find a bit unusual?

This is day 16 of NaBoPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day November 2015-Persistence

What was once common is now rare.

What was once taken for granted is now treasured.

This is true for so many things, on this 15th of November, Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  This meme is brought to us on the 15th of each month by an Indiana blog, May Dreams Gardens.

We are about to enter into the dreaming part of our four season climate, as we progress from "fall" into "fell". (That's not my original thought, by the way).

What is now treasured is every outdoor bloom I find in my zone 5b garden near Binghamton, New York.

There are the hardy flowers that have survived without any protection, such as this petunia, which reseeded itself into a space between two patio pavers and which I discovered a month or so ago behind a pot.

Or, in my front, this white alyssum.

There are the flowers that have survived with protection or brought in on frosty nights (we got down to 31 degrees last night), like this calibrachoa.

Or this begonia, which I rescued from the "reduced and almost dead" area of my local Aldi supermarket back in the spring.  It has rewarded me continuously in thanks.

The blurry, such as this blooming rosemary. Soon it will be taken in for good, and overwintered in our house.

The too late - this hardy mum we bought last year, deciding, too late, to open its blooms.  Its friends were done blooming a month ago.  The buds survived, but I fear will be gone with our first hard freeze.
 Indoors are the Thanksgiving Cactus, blooming indoors.  Yes, Thanksgiving cactus, not Christmas cactus as even the nurseries call them.  Until a GBBDer blogged about the difference, I had no clue. (The clue: if your leaves have points, they are not true Christmas cactus.)  This one is a beautiful pink and white - I bought it last year, and it is reblooming in my kitchen window.

An African violet in today's early morning sunshine.  I've managed to kill three of mine this year and this is the only one blooming.

And finally, my camilla, April Rose.  Camillas are not supposed to grow in our zone, but, as I've blogged before, we are going to try with this one purchased in North Carolina this past spring.  The buds are there.  Will they ever open?

Now that you have seen my garden, please go to May Dreams Gardens and check out what is blooming all over the world.

Today is day 15 of NaBloPoMo, where I link with other bloggers blogging every day in November.

What is blooming for you today?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Local Saturday - Je suis Paris

This morning, as we awaken, we turn first thing to the latest news about Paris.  Twice in 11 months...

The world declares "Je suis Paris" - we stand with Paris.  Which is a beautiful sentiment, But we can't just say it.  In our slang, we say: "we must just not talk the talk, we must walk the walk".

And how do we fight this savage foe of civilization?  How do we stay free and not lose the essence of our civilization?

First, perhaps, we realize we are all one planet.  I look around on my Facebook page.  I am an American, living in upstate New York.  I have a cousin married to a man who was born in France.  He has family there.  I have Facebook friends who have relatives living in France.   I have Facebook friends who live in Great Britain.   What affects one of us, affects all.

But now what?  Some say "Pray for Paris". Perhaps we should pray for wisdom to do the right thing, even if it is the hard thing.

Today, as many blogs fall silent, we must ask ourselves what the right thing is to do- and then, do it.  Do it completely, without hesitation, with bravery.

Tomorrow, Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  In honor of France, I present some links from the blog which hosts this meme, May Dream Gardens, on the subject of France.

Monet's Passion (the giveaway is long over).
Differences between American and British gardening terminology (read the comments)

Day 14 of NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Falling Friday - Kindness and Vision

Today is World Kindness Day, the day when we are asked to acknowledge the role kindness has played in our lives, and to pay kindness forward.

So, what does that have to do with a day that is Friday the 13th in the United States, a day that many consider as a day of bad luck?

Or, falling, especially in seniors, something that has happened to several people I love?  Falling kills.  It changes lives forever.

What I would like to do today, is pay forward the kindness of the various people who spoke or taught at the Falls Prevention classes I took in May and June of this year in Binghamton, New York, and repeat some of the knowledge shared with me.

This post about vision, especially, resonated with several of my readers.  Those who are losing their vision, I was told, should not fear.  A blogger who blogs about her experiences with something called Usher Syndrome,  which affects both vision and hearing, commented on my post as follows:

"The thing about fear is that it's usually worse than the real thing. Everything is do-able with retraining and the right attitude."

Amy Bovaird

Amy inspires me - despite all the losses in her life, she continuously shows kindness, and shares her experiences with the world, with humor, and optimism. 

Today, I would like to pay her hope forward.  Vision isn't just the ability to see with your eyes.  It is the ability to feel with your heart.  Be kind to ourselves, and if you have the opportunity to pay kindness forward today, please do so.

Here is the post.

Falling Friday - The Non Persistance of Vision

I've been reporting, from time to time, what I have been learning in a falls prevention class.  As my regular readers know, I have fallen several times in the past few years. For the month of June, I am featuring a Falling Friday feature to share some of what I've learned with you.

I am extremely nearsided, and I learned about the importance of vision at an early age. I've been wearing glasses since I was four.  Since the age of around eight, my non corrected vision has been in the realm of what the State of New York considers legal blindness.  Fortunately (at least up to now), it has been correctable with glasses.

At our class Wednesday, we were treated to a talk by Diane McMillan of AVRE in Binghamton, New York.  Diane is dual-certified as a low vision therapist and a vision rehab therapist, and personally suffers from a couple of disabling eye diseases.  So, not only can she talk the talk, she also knows, from personal experience, what "it is like".

What is AVRE?
"AVRE is a private, non-profit organization that serves people with sustained and severe vision loss. People of all ages, from infants to seniors, can and do benefit from our services. We offer a range of learning. living, and working options for people with sustained and severe vision loss."

There are many eye diseases that can affect vision. Anyone suffering from these conditions becomes more prone to falling.  In fact, a blogger I enjoy, Amy Bovaird , has blogged at length about her life with a vision disability, her adventures (if I can call them that) in falling and how her life has strengthened her faith.  Amy's blog is Christian faith-centered but there are other bloggers with vision impairments who blog from a more secular viewpoint.

It turns out that a couple of people in my class suffer from macular degeneration.  Diane explained it so well, complete with pictures taken that show the way people with macular degeneration will see a particular picture vs. people with healthy eyes, that I understand it better now.  Amy Bovaird's blog has a lot of information about macular degeneration.

We also learned about glaucoma.

Diane's message was a message of hope.  She taught us (noting I am not a medical professional, or vision professional, and you should have annual eye exams, always):

1.  Be self aware.  Test yourself monthly (it only takes a couple of minutes) with something called an Amsler Grid.  Diane told us that you have any problems (the website describes what you are looking for when you use the grid) consider this an emergency and contact an eye care professional immediately.  In general, if anything is amiss, err on the side of caution and report it to your eye care professional immediately.  Sometimes, a timely exam can be the difference between a good outcome, and the opposite.

2.  Have that annual eye exam!  The eye cancer someone I know has made a full recovery from was detected on an annual eye exam.

3.  If you are diagnosed with an eye disease, all is not lost.  Some conditions can be treated.  Other conditions may not respond to treatment, but with proper training, and assistance, you can still lead a worthwhile life.  The two women in my class with macular degeneration were proof of that.

#3, especially, resonated with me, because I have always dreaded the day the eye doctor will say "we no longer have a prescription for you."  I can hope that day never comes.

But if it does come, I hope I will understand it is not the end, but rather, a new beginning.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Red Sky at Night

Today, on day 12 of NaBloPoMo, I face a quieter than normal internet, as many writers compete with themselves during National Novel Writing Month to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

This year, for the first time in four years, I am not one of them.  I decided I was not going to stress myself out with my various responsibilities, especially as I have never touched any of those three NaNoWriMo manuscripts.
Instead, I am out taking pictures of sunsets.  We've had warmer than normal weather and my iPhone 4s captured much of the beauty of the sky. 

There is a saying "Red sky at night, sailors delight."  You decide.
These pictures were all taken in the past week, in my neighborhood near Johnson City, New York. I love the streaks of color in this one.
How about the sun setting over a pile of leaves?
And finally, one more "sky on fire".
The sunsets this month have been so incredible. So I will leave you one more - silhouettes.

Maybe next year, I'll actually touch one of my manuscripts. This year, I'm enjoying the beauty of nature.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

For All Veterans

Today is Veterans Day in the United States and Armistice Day in many other countries,

This holiday was originally to mark the end of World War I (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) but, now, we honor veterans of all wars. 

Normally, on Wednesdays, I blog about something seasonable.  But today, as I do on all Veterans Days, I think of my late father.

My late father suffered a traumatic brain injury during his World War II (non-combat) service, and lived with seizures and other side effects for the rest of his life.  After he came back from war he found it near impossible to find employment, a fate that too many veterans of our modern wars suffer.  For a time, he ran a newsstand with another veteran.  Finally, he found a civil service job but was never able to rise too high in the ranks, due to his disability.

When I visit a city or town, I tend to gravitate to the war memorials.  For example, back in September I visited the small village of Skaneateles, New York, on the shores of Skaneateles Lake.  They have memorials on the lakefront for their dead of all wars, from the American Revolutionary War forward.  I always scan the lists of the dead when I visit these monuments.  For some reason, I feel like I am in touch with my father, although his eventual death was not service related.

Today, I repeat my Veterans Day post of November 11, 2013, for my 11th post of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. 

Veterans Day

Yesterday was the 48th anniversary of the untimely death of my mother.  I was raised after that point by my father, a single Dad who had to cope all the rest of his life with the aftermath of a head injury suffered (not in combat but in support) in his service in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.  I've always been aware of how badly we sometimes (well, too many times) treat our veterans here in the United States.

Today, let us all take a moment out of our busy schedules to think of those who made this day possible for us.

Our veterans, past and present, deserve our thanks, and so much more.

As you look at these monuments, please take a moment to ponder the poem at the end of this post.

These are some memorials in our area of upstate New York.  I took the Endicott photos this past August - I wish things were that green here now!

 Endicott, New York, just down Main Street from where I live.

Veterans Memorial statue.
Plaques commemorating the war dead.  An American flag is kept,fresh, on each one.

The war memorials - World War II, which my father served in (in the Army Air Force) as did one of his brothers, and one of his sisters.

The Korean War. When I grew up it wasn't a "war", it was a "police action". But the people were just as dead.
The forgotten war, Vietnam, where our dead were dishonored and our veterans were mocked - a sad thing I will never forget. Both of my next door neighbor boys (growing up in the Bronx) served in 'Nam, as did other young men I grew up with.

Binghamton - part of the Korean War monument on the Broome County courthouse lawn.

And the Revolutionary War monument, also on the Courthouse lawn.

I am not a "poetry person" (although there are a couple of poets I do enjoy) but this poem always touches my heart. Written by a Canadian soldier in 1915 upon the battle death of his friend in Flanders, Belgium, during World War I.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

John McCrae