Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fantastic Fall - Fall is Back

The weather has been so surprising for so many.  Tragic for some, such as the residents of the southeast United States subjected to wild fires and drought.

Tornadoes in Louisiana and the tragic wildfires in the Gatlinsburg/Pigeon Forge, Tennessee area.  It's been many years since I visited that area - a lot of its beauty is now in ashes.   Over 14,000 people evacuated with scant moments to spare, as the fires appeared (according to eyewitness accounts) "out of nowhere".  It is almost impossible to imagine, but, through blogging, I know at least one person whose family was affected. The coming days will be hard for all these people.

But, here in the Southern Tier of upstate New York, our snow has melted and fall has returned.
Some of our trees still have colored leaves. One of the last is at the Broome County Courthouse in Binghamton.  This is what it looked like on November 28 on a rare sunny, somewhat mild, day.

Winter will return soon enough, and will return for good.  In the meantime, enjoy this last glimpse of fall.

Day 30 of NaBloPoMo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Echo and the Future

Last night, I found myself pondering the purchase of an Amazon Echo Dot. I know someone whose daughter has one, and here I am pondering the purchase of one.  I could sure use a digital assistant always connected to the Internet, and ready to make my every wish come true, couldn't I?

Now that few of us could imagine a life without the Internet, it can be informative to look back and see the types of predictions that were made in the 1980's and 1990's about online life (yes, there was online life before the Internet).

Check out these predictions from 1990-1995. 

But what seems to be missing is the realization that evil hacks into what we now call The Internet of Things could change our world in an instant.  Or that technology could take us over if we weren't careful.  Imagine a homicidal Dot.  Go to Amazon's Echo Dot page and read the comments.  Interesting.

Or, read a book called 1984.

Or just think of the possibility that hackers influenced the outcome of our recent Presidential election in the United States.  At this time, all that is certain is that all our elections need to be audited, according to some experts, although at least one state has agreed to a recount.  Electronic elections are just too vulnerable not to have safeguards. But just the fact that we are having this conversation tells us something.

The future is here, whether we like it or not.  And we'd better pay close attention.


I originally blogged about Newspapers Circa 1981 - Cutting Edge! in January of 2010. Just think - newspapers trying to position themselves online. Little could they have known....and perhaps it is best that they didn't know.

Hey, it's the wave of the future! 

Too bad the reporter didn't have a crystal ball.  Or a link into the future.  If he did, he'd hear a lot of laid off newspaper people screaming to him "Don't do it!"

Watch the person dial into an online service (CompuServe?) using a rotary phone and then reading a paper online.  It only took two hours to download.

If the man in this clip is still around he may be wondering "What was I thinking?  I should have waited for 2016 and bought an Echo Dot!"

Did the late Steve Jobs know something the rest of us didn't?  You decide. 

But, as for that Echo Dot - I'll let you know.

Day 29 of NaBloPoMo.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Music Monday - Songs of Thankfulness

Everyone wants to be wanted, and I am no exception.

Yesterday, I opened my browser to find I had been nominated for something called the Versatile Blogger Award. There are various reasons why I do not accept these awards, but I am always thankful that someone has thought of me.  It made me realize that, once again, I need to thank my readers.  You could have chosen any blog to read - there are millions of them out there, after all.  But you chose me, and I thank you.

On this Music Monday following Thanksgiving in the United States, a few songs about thanking and thankfulness.

"Thank You for Being A Friend" - Andrew Gold

"What a Wonderful World" - Louis Armstrong (the video is a must-watch).

Abba - "Thank You for The Music".  A lesser known song from a beloved group.

Finally, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight". Sir Elton John's song isn't, perhaps, about the kind of thankfulness I am thinking of (he's thankful he was saved from a marriage) but I love the song and the feel of the lyrics.

So, although I did not accept the prize - I thank you, Darshana, for allowing me once again to reach out to my readers and say "Thank You for Being My Reader".

Day 28 of NaBloPoMo.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Honey Apple Cake and Other Recipes

Now that many of us in the United States wish we never lay eyes on another piece of cooked turkey (I'm not one of them - I could eat turkey nearly every day), I've decided we need to do even more cooking.

Enjoy this short list of recipes published by various bloggers this week, followed by my version of an apple honey cake I made for Thanksgiving this year.

First up, Denise from My Life in Retirement provides the main course - a special roast turkey.

If you are a vegetarian, you can do some birding instead, as narrated by Alice's Grand Adventures (no recipes, just walking and viewing).

Next, Jo from Food, Life and a Scent of Chocolate contributes A beef recipe (if you don't like turkey)

And finally, Jo provides us with a German favorite buttery "bienenstich"- Bee Sting Cake.

Which leads me to my version of an amazing apple honey cake.  The original recipe can be found here, and I assure you you don't have to be Jewish to love this cake.  Or, to enjoy my version of it.

There are several reasons why I modified the cake the way I did.  First, believe it or not, I do not like confectioner's sugar/liquid type icing.  Even as a child, I would pass up cinnamon rolls and yeast cakes because I never liked the icing drizzled on them.  I can't explain why.  I still don't.  So my version does not have icing.  If you want icing, see the link above.

Second, I've started to use coconut oil more and more as a substitute for oil in my baking   I've never made this cake with anything but coconut oil, and I love it.

Third, instead of the original Granny Smith apples, I prefer tart, local apples.  I'm fortunate to live in New York apple country and there is an abundance of cooking apples grown here.  For Thanksgiving, I made this with  local Northern Spy apples.

Sorry, metric readers, you are on your own with this.

AM's Version of Tori Avey's Apple Honey Cake

3 large eggs (this past week, I was fortunate enough to use free range brown eggs from a local farm)
3/4 cup honey (local buckwheat honey, which is quite dark, and is a good fall honey)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil melted gently in microwave (this is solid at room temperature)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups King Arthur's White Whole Wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon, freshly ground
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 tart baking apples, peeled, cored and shredded (you will also want to use the resulting liquid)

You will bake this in a 9 inch Bundt cake pan.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

While oven heats, mix the wet ingredients:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until frothy.
Whisk in honey, white and brown sugar, melted coconut oil, and vanilla

Then mix the dry ingredients:
In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, baking power, baking soda, spices.

Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stir to blend.  You don't want any dry ingredients, but you also don't want to over beat.

Fold in your shredded apples and liquid from the apples.

Spray your bundt pan with cooking spray, coating the inside evenly.

Now, pour your batter into the pan.  You don't want to overfill (Tory warns you not to fill more than 3/4 full.)  Smooth the batter on the top so that it is flat and even.  You do not want any air pockets.  I press down on the filling gently with a spoonula.

Bake for approximately 75-90 minutes.  When the edges darken and pull fully away from the sides of the pan, and the cake is browned, test with a toothpick.  This is a moist cake, so you don't want to under cook.  But, you don't want to overcook it, either.

For me, this cake is a wonderful alternative to apple pie.  Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Day 27 of NaBloPoMo.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Local Saturday - Is Local Always Best?

Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday in the United States, has become bigger business, I suspect, than its founders ever hoped for.

Here is a post I first wrote in December of 2011, three months after devastating floods hit portions of upstate New York, including the neighborhood where I live..  I have updated it slightly.  Sadly, the buying dilemma - local business selling imported goods vs. national business selling local goods - still continues.

For example, our local shopping mall has a seasonal business called Shop 607. (607 is our phone area code.) I've bought from them before, and was pleased by the quality of items made by local artisans.  But, this year, I found a number of items for sale by the local businesses that were not made in New York State.  In fact, one item for sale was made in San Francisco - which is about 2,800 miles (4500 km) from where the mall is located in Johnson City, New York.  (If anyone from Shop 607 wishes to contact me, I would be pleased to expand on my disappointment.)
One Display on Small Business Saturday, November 26, 2016
Hence the title of this post: Is Local Always Best?  The edited 2011 post follows:

It's a very popular thing right now to "Buy American":  we must maintain our manufacturing base, and save jobs for Americans.  I've been trying to "buy local" (or at least "Made in the U.S.A.") for several years now.

But sometimes the choice is hard.

When we visited the State of Maine in September of 2011, we were impressed by the pains the people of Maine took to promote items "made in Maine".  There were a number of stores in the Portland and Brunswick, ME areas specializing in Maine-made merchandise:  everything from mustard to Poland Springs water and vodka to blankets to balsam pillows to toothpaste.  Supermarkets featured local foods and beverages in special displays.

But we also found that enough of the merchandise in a Maine institution, Renys, A Maine Adventure, was not made in the U.S.A.

Too many times now, people who want to do right by their fellow Americans face a choice:

Buy merchandise not made in the United States from a local business?

Or buy American from a national chain?

Back in November of 2011, I wanted to "buy local" in light of the devastating floods that hit our part of upstate NY in September but I am finding that choice isn't so simple.

On Black Friday 2011, we found an area rug in our local Kohl's, on a great sale, and proudly made by Mohawk in the U.S.A.

But in a local gift store in nearby Owego, a town hard hit by the flood, we tried our best to replace Christmas ornaments destroyed in the flood - and found that the majority of the ornaments - and all the patriotic ornaments - were made in China.

Should we have skipped the rug because it was being sold by a large national chain? (no, we bought it.)

Should we have passed on the China-made Christmas ornaments? (this one was harder but we did buy some.)

What about the local Home Depot?  National chain, blocks from our house, hit hard by the flood of September 8, 2011; reopened the day before Thanksgiving.  On Black Friday we were there at 5:05 a.m., passing under a sign saying "Welcome Back, Friends!".  The store was mobbed, and I would bet that some of those employees welcoming us had lost their homes in the flood.  They would have lost their jobs, too, if Home Depot had "hung it up".  (we still try to buy in a locally owned hardware store when possible but some of those Black Friday specials were irresistible.)

These decisions come nearly every day.  Today, I needed a new dish drainboard - and I ended up buying a made in U.S.A. product from Sterlite, in a national chain store (Target). The price was slightly higher than the Rubbermaid (made in China) but I gladly paid it.  But still, it wasn't from a small business. 

In other words, this decision - like so much in life - isn't that simple.  All I can hope is that I make the right decisions with my hard earned shopping dollars.

What do you think?

Day 26 of NaBloPoMo.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Skywatch Friday - Binghamton November

For a "Black Friday", two views of Binghamton, New York.

Sunrise, November 22, downtown Binghamton, New York  Courthouse and trees, still some with leaves, are contrasted against morning snow.
And a sunset, November 14, also downtown Binghamton.

For more pictures of the sky from all over the world, visit Skywatch Friday.

Day 25 of NaBloPoMo.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Thanksgiving Goodbye

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States.  It is all about memories.

Last Bradford Pears, Westover, New York November 23
Memories of beauty.  Memories of good times. 

But sometimes, Thanksgiving is about the loss of those memories.

I lost a memory of past Thanksgivings over the weekend.

His name was Jack, and he was 96 years old.  It's so ironic that he died the Sunday before Thanksgiving, because, at one time, he was a part of Thanksgiving for me.

After my Mom died in November of 1965, my Dad started to take me to Thanksgiving dinner at his younger sister's apartment in Brooklyn.  In that small, one bedroom apartment, we would gather: my Dad, me, my aunt and uncle, their two children (my cousins, both slightly younger than me) and my uncle's two "bachelor" (as they said in those days) brothers.

One of them was Jack.

We would eat roast turkey, stuffing, yams with marshmallows and pineapple (not crazy about it, but this was the 1960's). For dessert there would be roasted chestnuts and coffee ice cream.

Every year, Jack and his brother would arrive at Thanksgiving with a large box of candy in hand.  It was immediately hidden.

My two cousins and I would hunt the box down the next morning, and demolish it.  Strange how no one ever seemed to notice (or maybe I just ignored the outrage).

I only had one Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle after getting married in 1974 (we lived far away from Brooklyn for some of that time) and I don't think Jack was there that year.  So, my husband never had the pleasure of meeting Jack, or his brother.

Now, almost all the members of that generation are gone.  

I will dedicate my first bite of Thanksgiving turkey today to the good times of the past.

Do you have a special Thanksgiving or similar holiday memory to share?

Day 24 of NaBloPoMo.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fantastic Fall - Thanksgiving Eve Recipes

Yesterday, walking to the building where I work, I was passed by a man.  We had just had our first snowfall of the season - officially, at our airport, almost two feet (about 60 cm) which accumulated over two days.  Although the early parts of it had melted because it was above freezing at first, there was well over a foot left on the ground.

The man muttered "When is it going to stop?" and I thought to myself, March?

Winter has begun.

So, here in the Binghamton area of upstate New York, we will have a white Thanksgiving. It's time to settle down, do some cooking, and be thankful for all the good things in our lives.  It's time to share some recipes with you.

Even snow.

First, what shouldn't you make? Alice Gerard has that all covered for you.  In fact, she has side dishes you may want to try out, too.

Today, I will share the link to my easy, homemade cranberry sauce.  It's so easy even I can make it!

Here's a delicious apple crisp recipe - especially if you are watching your weight.

And finally, the easiest chocolate cake in the world.

Tonight, my spouse and I will start our Thanksgiving preparations.  If you are in the United States, may you have a most enjoyable holiday.

Day 23 of NaBloPoMo.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Study in Contrast

Saturday, November 19, 2016, the Southern Tier of upstate New York.

Witch hazel in bloom in the 67 degree F weather (19.4 degrees Celsius).

The next day.

Sunday afternoon.   Snow on the scarecrow and southernwood plant.
On planters.

And then the snow REALLY started to fall.  So far, officially, we have over 15 inches.

Not bad for the first snow of the season.

Five cities in upstate New York compete for a "golden snowball" award each year.  For once, I don't appreciate us being in first place.

Because, gee, it's still fall.  Isn't it?

Day 22 of NaBloPoMo.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Music Monday - Somber

It is again a week of musical farewells, and I will let other bloggers do the heavy lifting (or writing) this week.

Blogger John Holton wrote a tribute to the late Leon Russell.

Another blogger I admire, Roy Ackerman, blogged a tribute to the late Leonard Cohen. 
Those who are fans of the satiric NBC late night Saturday show, Saturday Night Live, were treated (and perhaps moved) by this cold open a week ago, after the Presidential Election.  The cast member singing this, Kate McKinnon, plays Hillary Clinton in political skits.

This time, McKinnon played a piano and sang a song written by Leonard Cohen. Right at the end, she made a political statement.  Agree or disagree, at least we have the right to speak out in this country.  Democracy can get messy, and we may be in for a long, hard, next few years.  Especially when you see political discussions on Facebook and Twitter, two social media that have turned into troll feeding grounds.

Music is one of the things that can sustain us in hard times.  This week, I am thankful for music, and for have knowing a special friend of over 40 years whose life has become music.  Today is his birthday.  Happy birthday, Howard, and may you have only happy years ahead of you.

Day 20 of NaBloPoMo.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Lincoln's Addresses

This post, with some small edits, was originally posted on November 20, 2011, back when I used to feature a United States Civil War Sunday post each Sunday. 

I'm thinking about starting to rerun some of these posts on Sunday, and perhaps even post a few new ones based on photos I've accumulated from my visits to various Civil War sites.

We commemorate two important dates in Civil War history this week involving Abraham Lincoln.

Yesterday, November 19, was the 153rd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, one of the greatest speeches (some consider it the greatest speech) made by a United States President. Additionally, Civil War General and future 20th president of the United States, James Garfield, was born on November 19, 1831. (He was assassinated only 200 days into his first term as President.)

In  four days we will be celebrating Thanksgiving.  Although the celebration of Thanksgiving was nothing new by the time of the Civil War, it was not declared a national holiday until 1863.  Prior to this, each state scheduled Thanksgiving at a different time.

I will allow Lincoln to write the remainder of today's blog post.  The Gettysburg Address is first, followed by the Thanksgiving proclamation. 

You may note that this proclamation declared the holiday to be the last Thursday of November.  That is not how it is celebrated today.  This quiz on Thanksgiving will teach you a lot of fascinating things including why Thanksgiving is now celebrated the fourth Thursday in November - but keep in mind that our national celebration of Thanksgiving here in the United States started during the Civil War.

The Gettysburg Address in red - The Thanksgiving Proclamation in blue.

Day 20 of NaBloPoMo.
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Local Saturday -Fall Haiku

The leaves have fallen
On the brink of winter poised
Bitter winds coming

What is it about fall that makes us want to write poems?

Perhaps it's the vibrant colors?  Or is it something more?

Our vibrant colors are gone, replaced now with rust and bareness.  We poise on the knife edge of winter.  By tomorrow, the winds will whip and the ground will be white.

But we will always remember fall.

On Wednesday, my guest photographer and I walked by the Broome County Courthouse near Binghamton, New York. It was so peaceful, just us and the squirrels.
One squirrel climbed a tree and dared me to take its photo. - It cocked its head as I spoke gently to it.

I got closer and closer, stopping to click.

Still closer.

And finally, almost too close.

Where workers ate lunch
Only the squirrels remain
Preparing for snow.

Day 19 of NaBloPoMo.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Skywatch Friday- Looming

November 11, 2016.

Vestal, New York, after sunset.

This was the sky just around sunrise that same day, in nearby Johnson City, New York.

Visit #SkywatchFriday for pictures of the sky from around the world.

Day 18 of NaBloPoMo.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Dilemma of the Ginkgo

This post has become somewhat of a yearly fall tradition on my blog.  This was first published on November 23, 2013.
Ginkgo Fruit and leaf, West Side of Binghamton, October 2016

The Ginkgo is a survivor. It has beautiful fan-shaped leaves.  In the fall, they turn a beautiful yellow. But, quite frankly, it can be a bit of a stinker.
Binghamton, New York, October 2015
Some cities that have planted them have learned to regret it.  Hence, from November of 2013:

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 Ginkgo 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?

Day 17 of NaBloPoMo.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fantastic Fall - Sudden Leaf Fall

Why is a true full of leaves one day, and then, literally overnight, the leaves are all gone?

I've had a red bud tree in my yard for three years now.  It was given to us as a tiny sapling by a neighbor with brain cancer who knew he only had a matter of time left to him.  He ordered a shipment of baby trees from the National Arbor Day Foundation, hoping to give them to my son.  But my son did not have room for them on his tiny plot of land.  We don't have a large yard, either.

We did what we could and two trees survived - a cherry,which bloomed for the first time this spring, and the red bud.

The red bud loses its leaves overnight.  One day they are there.  The next day they aren't.  It amazes me.

At another blog, The Nature of Things, I found a poem written by someone about another tree, the ginkgo, which loses its leaves overnight.  I invite you to visit the blog and read the poem, too.

I'll blog more about the ginkgo tomorrow.
These were some of the leaves on our lawn this past week.

Next spring they will be spread on our community garden, and complete their life cycle, being reabsorbed into the soil.

Day 16 of NaBloPoMo.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day November 2016

This is not your usual Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Thirty days ago, my zone 5b Binghamton, New York area front and back yard was full of flowers.

Today, it is a different sight.  Frost has done its work.
Garlic Chive Seed Head
It's necessary work in our climate, but it is painful, nevertheless.

Here is what is left outdoors.

A pot of mums.

Pansies (one of two I fall planted in hopes that they will overwinter, and bloom in the spring.)
Here's the other pansy.
A million bells plant.
Indoors, it is a happier situation.  I have two Christmas (actually, Thanksgiving) Cactus reblooming.

This one is blooming next to an African Violet plant I bought Saturday to replace three others I somehow managed to kill recently.  I don't know what I did wrong but I suspect I may have overfertilized them.
Here's the new victim African violet.

What a wonderful November it has been so far.  But I know it is a matter of time before the snow flies. In fact, snow may be in the forecast later this week. There is no way we will have a repeat of the mild winter of last year.

Or will we?

Come join our hostess, Carol at May Dreams Gardens,  for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day today and on the 15th of each month.  See what is blooming, indoors and out, from all over the world.

Day 15 of NaBloPoMo.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Music Monday - Hallelujah

Before I start Music Monday, a picture of the Super Moon rising over Johnson City, New York last night. I had to crop it because of a streetlight, but I loved the effect of the tree I took the picture through.

Can a moon pay tribute to another famous singer/songwriter gone from our world?  What a year 2016 has been.  So many musicians now gone, but not forgotten.

(Leon Russell died yesterday, and I will pay tribute to him next week.)

Years ago, when my son was not quite grown, I bought the DVD of the movie Shrek to watch with him.  There were some nice covers in the movie, but one song (as they say in American slang) "blew me away."  It was this song.

I listened to it and thought: "That is the most amazing and beautiful song I have ever heard".

The man who wrote this song, Leonard Cohen, died last week at the age of 82.  Some feel he should have won the Nobel Prize for literature for his lyrics and not Bob Dylan.

This is Leonard Cohen singing his own song.

Except for Hallelujah and Bird on a Wire, I was not that familiar with Cohen's songs.  I want to make up for lost time now.

Here are several other Leonard Cohen songs. 

 "Famous Blue Raincoat".  Like most all his songs, the lyrics are melancholy and just stick with you.

Bird on the Wire, country tinged and with amazing lyrics.

Finally, I'm Your Man.

RIP to still another great musician gone.  If you are interested in investigating Leonard Cohen further, this is a good starting point.

Day 13 of NaBloPoMo.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Happy Birthday At Last

I haven't blogged for a while about "B", my brother in law with autism.

He has a November birthday, and last year it didn't go as planned.

His mother was in rehab, after a hospitalization for pneumonia.  The plan was for us to bring "B" to the rehab place on his birthday last November, have a nice visit, and then take him to our house for a small birthday dinner.

"B" loves to eat at the Olive Garden (a chain Italian restaurant here in the United States).   Some people put chains down, and I would rather eat at a local restaurant (support your local business is one of my mottos.) I will also admit that some chains (including the Olive Garden) do a great job of listing nutritional content.  I look for calories and sodium.  They also do a good job of pointing out allergens in their food.  So this would have been a good choice.

But with his Mom in rehab, we told Bil "why don't we wait until she is out?". She was supposed to get out in a couple of more days.  He agreed.

The visit went well, until it didn't go as planned.  His Mom fell.  On her back.  Help came immediately, and she didn't seem to be hurt (except for her dignity).  But they couldn't take any chances, because she had hit her head on the floor.

We spent the rest of the day in the ER, where we waited for her to get a CT scan.  The results were normal.


While "B" sat there, I wonder what he thought.  He doesn't talk that much, and he never did say. 

This year, we are hoping for a much less eventful dinner.

Sometimes, uneventful is good.

It will be a good time to pause, before plunging into The Holidays.

Day 13 of NaBloPoMo.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Local Saturday - Final Flowers?

This was a beautiful day in upstate New York - not that cold, lots of sun, and a reminder that it is time to enjoy the unusual autum weather.

My guest photographer and I took a walk in downtown Binghamton, a city of about 47,000 people, to look at the flowers that were still blooming.  Some pictures are hers and some are mine.

Beautiful mums.
Roses and a sweet autumn clematis.  In our area, it is generally not invasive.
Beautiful, aren't they?
Autumn clematis don't quite look like their spring versions; here is a closeup.
Close up of the rose

The lovely garden by a church where we found the mums.

My spirit has needed a lot of cheering lately.  There is nothing better than spending a few minutes with a friend. Even though we know these flowers will be gone in a few days when heavy freezes finally come, it was worth taking one last look.

What did you do today?

Day 12 of NaBloPoMo.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Skywatch Friday - The Patterned Sky and Veteran's Day

For #SkywatchFriday, a sky photo from last Sunday (November 6) taken in Binghamton, New York.  I just loved how the clouds looked.  Think of the two trees in their fall foliage a bonus.

Please visit Skywatch Friday and see other sky photos posted from all over the world.

A bonus for my readers. Today is Veterans Day in the United States and Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other countries.  In tribute, I'd like to repeat a post from November 11, 2009, the first year of my blog.

A Special Veteran

Many years ago, when we were a lot younger and my spouse was serving in the military, we befriended a younger single man.  At the time we were stationed in Kansas.  This young man had grown up in Missouri.  One day he invited us to his parents' home in rural Missouri.

I got the feeling this invitation was quite a leap of faith for him.  That
he didn't do this kind of thing very often.    We accepted the invitation and spent a weekend with his family.

His father was a Korean War veteran.  It was a Saturday night and,we were warned, the father was going to overindulge in alcohol.  And so he did.

It was obvious that this inebriated older man was reliving his experience in war.  He was in the middle of a battle.  He shouted out commands.  He fought demons only he could see.  Finally, he was carried to bed.

Our friend's mother explained this happened every weekend.  Long ago, the father was young and in battle.  His commanding officer was killed.  The Dad received a battlefield promotion and he was suddenly in charge.   It did something to him, hurt him in a way he was never able to recover from.  Every Saturday night he would seek solace in the bottle. Although he relived the battle and was obviously suffering, in the morning he would remember nothing.

I have never been in war.  I know people who have.  I know people who were civilian casualties of war, too.  But this Korean War veteran has stuck in my mind over many years.  We never received another invitation.  We drifted apart when our friend, sadly, became more interested in drugs than in our friendship.  In his own way he fought demons too.

War claims many victims and I wish we treated our veterans with the respect they deserve.  Not just lip service.

I wish I could tell our friend today we were not ashamed of what we saw.  I wasn't mature enough then to understand.  Now maybe (maybe) I am.  And, if his Dad is still alive, I hope that he has found peace at last.

Day 11 of NaBloPoMo.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Do Not Stand Silent

Today, besides being the 51st anniversary of my mother leaving this Earth, is also the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht - November 9 and 10, 1938.

Today is not your moment of nature.  Instead, we need to reflect on this night, and others like it.

During the night of November 9 and daytime of November 10, 1938, at least 91 Jews were killed and some 7,500 Jewish owned businesses vandalized or destroyed in Germany and Austria.  Some 267 Jewish houses of worship (synagogues) were damaged or destroyed.

On some days during this particular Presidential election season, it seemed that hate oozed from every dark corner of this country.  Those dark corners came alive. People of hate are now encouraged, thinking that finally, the conditions are right once again for their hate to blossom.  It isn't just Jewish people at risk. Make no mistake. 

Have you ever thought about what happens when hate becomes accepted, and public? How about here in Binghamton, New York, a small city in upstate New York?

 You don't need to look too far, because it happened almost 100 years ago.

This looks like an ordinary cross, doesn't it?  It's not.

Do you think that hate was never out in the open in our great country?  History tells us it was.   Parts of our history (not just the history of Kristallnacht or genocides during the 20th and 21st century) remind us of what we may be facing again today.  One such example is an organization I do not even wish to name completely.  I will simply refer to it as the Klan.

I would be willing to bet you know at least one person who belongs to ethnic or religious groups that the Klan would rather not have in this country.  It's as simple as that.

This organization exists today, still trying to spread its message of hate.  At one time, it was a lot bigger, and people openly boasted of their membership.  It could happen again if we stand silent.  There are other such groups, too.

Did you know that the Klan had a complicated relationship with the area around Binghamton, New York, an area which is my adopted hometown?  We think of the Klan as an organization whose strongholds were in the South, but, for a time, that was not true.

In the 1920's, many people were afraid, just as they are today.  In our area, they were fearful of a rapid increase in immigration. People were afraid of losing jobs, of losing power, of losing things important to them.  The Klan had a presence in our "Twin Tiers" through the 20's and 30's.

These pictures were taken at an exhibit at the Bundy Museum in Binghamton, which will be running until November 29.

This is a "heroic" recruitment posters.  At one time, in fact, the New York headquarters of this hate organization was located in Binghamton.

This is a letter on official letterhead boasting of their existence, and asking that someone write away for recruitment material.  Today, someone would contact them via social media or their website.  They are active on both.
This organization came complete with a secret language and even songs.  (I looked for this on You Tube, but the video postings are all from members of this organization.  I will not link to them.)
For some reason this picture kept posting sidewise - on the bottom is a Klan business card.
Wall near where the Klan temple was located, Binghamton, New York
You may be wondering about that cross at the beginning of my post.   That cross was once part of the Klan temple at the corner of Henry and Wall Street in Binghamton.  And, in a great irony (or perhaps intentional), that area of Binghamton now holds a monument in honor of the late, great, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Also on display was a newsletter of this organization, published in 1924. It talked about what would happen if the Catholics took over the United States.  I was young, but I can remember how John F. Kennedy, running for President in 1960, had to fight anti-Catholic feelings.  There was also an advertisement page, and ads were plentiful, including for a printer of invites to weddings and other special occasions.

The fight against hate never ends.

Keep that in mind, always.

Do not stand silent when hate shows up in our country.  If necessary, think of it as acting in self-interest.  Perhaps your ancesters were not the targets on Kristallnacht.  Perhaps you feel you are not the target today.

You can always become the target tomorrow.

Day 10 of NaBloPoMo.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fall Fancies - Election Day

The sun will be rising shortly in upstate New York.  We, in the world, all know who was elected President.  So here we are.

To quote George Takei, " it is in ....the toughest of days where we often find our true mettle.".

We have seen a revolution many once considered impossible, and the people have spoken.  We have seen history made. Now, we must go forward.  To what, we don't quite know yet.

Let me show you how nature reacted to Election Day USA.
My guest photographer provided me with a sunrise photo taken in rural Broome County, New York.

The Broome County courthouse at lunch.
After work, I took a walk, and captured these flowers.  This yarrow has escaped our frost.

As have these snapdragons.

Nature ignores what humans are up to.  Nature won't care who is elected President.  The sun will still rise and set.  Rain is still expected for today.

It is up to all of us to make our future. Buckle up.

Day 9 of NaBloPoMo.