Wednesday, September 22, 2021

First Day of Fall 2021 #WordlessWednesday

It's official, or will be at 3:20 pm Eastern Daylight Time today.  

It's that most wonderful time of the year (with apologies to Christmas).

Time for mums and gourds.

It's time for apples.

Dried flower arrangements and the last of summer flowers.
Gorgeous heads of broccoli and (not pictured) cauliflower.


It's fall. 

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Grape Pie Time

 Ah, regional specialties.  It's the season for one of my favorites, and time for an updated annual post.

Grape season has come upon us here in upstate New York once again.  On the roadsides along the Finger Lakes (a little more than an hour from where I live), signs normally advertise grapes or grape juice for sale.  The wineries prepare for an onslaught of tourists for harvest season.

This year, I don't know.  I was in grape country at the end of August, and went to a farm stand.  No grapes.  The person I spoke to said they lost the entire early crop to the rain.  We've had too much.  We've had even more since, and should be getting still more on Wednesday.

But, there is a regional favorite - grape pie.  I was able to buy one.

I love to eat Concord grapes and, I have to admit, they do make a wonderful pie. I also put them on my breakfast cereal.  In season, I can't get enough of concord grapes.  Alas, the seedless Concord grapes I could get five or more years ago are gone.  Just plain gone. So now I buy ones with seeds, but they aren't the best for breakfast cereal.

As for grape pie, one has to to travel an hour and a half or so away from the Southern Tier of New York, where I live.

You've heard of apple pie, strawberry/rhubarb pie, peach pie, pecan pie, and blueberry pie. Everyone has their favorite recipe for pie and many regions of our country have a pie that represents them.

For parts of upstate New York, our local pie of pride is grape pie, made with Concord grapes.

Yes, pie made with Concord grapes, those purple globes of heaven.  These grapes are the grapes you find in concord grape jelly and grape juice and yes, certain types of (commercially sold) very sweet wine.  But, commercial varieties of those products don't always reveal the true taste of the concord grape.  (I never tasted "true" grape jelly until I was about 14 years old - and then, never went back to the commercial type.)

The best part of grape pie 2021?  Naples, New York is having its annual grape festival (cancelled last year) this weekend.

As for their grape pie...

For the first time in two years, we visited Monica's Pies in Naples, New York. It's just about the only place in the Canandaigua Lake area you can get fresh baked grape pies all year.

COVID-19 had made its mark here.  It's a small store and you can't go inside.  All business was conducted from a walk up window.

But they had the pies in stock.

How about a brief history of Concord grapes?  Concord grapes were developed, in 1849, from a wild, North American grape.  I am not any kind of grape expert, but I do know there were problems with disease affecting European grapes that the early settlers tried to grow.  The Concord grape, developed in Concord, Massachusetts escaped those problems because of their native American heritage, plus they matured relatively early, perfect for escaping the first frosts.

In 1869, a New Jersey dentist, Dr.Welch, developed a bottled unfermented grape juice, using the then new process of pasteurization.  I drank gallons of the stuff as a child.

And no, you will not find me making grape pie, at least from scratch.  It's an arduous process. Monica's sells a premade grape pie filling in a quart canning jar.  I have one in the house.

But if you're tempted, here's a recipe. 

Now, excuse me while I wash off some seeded Concord grapes for my breakfast.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Circus Circus #MusicMovesMe

It's that time of week again!

It's time for Music Moves Me!

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only-meaning at least one music video, please!)   First, there is XmasDolly. (She's back, hurray!)  Her co-hosts are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. 

Each month we have a guest conductor. Today, we welcome once again our guest conductor (and all around wonderful person) Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.  Cathy has picked as our theme for this week: You Pick.

I've been having a lot of "blog writers block" lately, so I decided to do some random browsing.  I came up with this tune, which is familiar, I think, to most of us.  What I never knew was its name.  The music is associated with circuses, but the name of the piece is....wait for it...

Entry of the Gladiators.(I've also seen this called "March of the Gladiators" and Entrance of the Gladiators..)  This piece dates from 1897, was written by a Czech composer, Julius Ernest Wilhelm Fučík, and was meant as a military march.

Gladiators?  I don't think the Roman circuses used anything like this theme music when it was gladiator time, but I guess, in some way, you could connect gladiators with circuses.  My spouse, who is into Ancient Romans, explained to me that there would also be entrances of the lions, tigers and bears (we won't go into why they were there, but let's just say it wasn't pretty) into the circus arena.  So, I looked for an online history of this march and sure enough, there is one.

Hearing this song immediately made me think of this 1974 Three Dog Night song called The Show Must Go On. 

Yes, the Beatles had a circus oriented song.  From Sgt. Peppers album, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite".

Smokey Robinson and Tears of a Clown.

One for the hard rock fans in the audience.  One of my favorite songs, KISS and Psycho Circus. OK, not a true circus, but it has circus in the name and "carnival" in the lyrics.

Last but not least is this Afro Circus Clip from the movie Madagascar 3, where we circle back to our opening song.

Boys and girls of all ages, that's a wrap.

Join me again next week, same time, same place!


Sunday, September 19, 2021


Memories, of the way things were.

I think I've finally overcome the problem of deleting photos (backed up on a UBS drive) from my iPhone.  I was deleting photos and they kept showing up again.  I think it had to do something with iCloud, and now, I can't even turn iCloud on again.

But, being a digital hoarder, it's hard to delete.  The photos bring back so many memories.  Even though they are safe on a PC (one hopes), it's still hard to hit the trash can icon.  Daffodils, flowering trees, azaleas, all now deleted.

I'm still working on 2017.

Sometimes, those photos make me smile, like this one taken in July 2017, at Cutler Botanic Gardens in Binghamton.

Painted rocks, as I've blogged about recently, can be hazardous to the environment  But combined with these zinnias...

...well, it made me smile.

I hope it makes you smile, too.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Birds vs Glass

Nature runs on its own clock, its own calendar.

It doesn't care what we humans come up with.   

Nature is now saying "fall is here" with purple asters...

...and white.

It's the last burst of the wildflowers I love to photograph.

Nature is also calling birds home.

Right now, fall bird migration is in progress. Did you know there is an Internet tool to help track bird migrations?  It's called BirdCast.  Tonight and tomorrow night, BirdCast predicts high migration levels in our area, about 150 miles from New York City.

Trigger alert: If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to click on the next link.

In cities such as New York City, however, another tragic fall is unfolding, as hundreds of dead migratory birds have been picked up in recent mornings.  226 just around the World Trade Center's Freedom tower - that beautiful tower that replaced buildings destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

Tuesday was a bad morning, especially.

Birds can't tell glass reflections from natural scenery.  Actually we humans can't, either, but we learn, at early ages, various cues that tell us nope, don't collide with that.

Birds don't get that education.  The cues that work for us, additionally, don't work for them.  So, it is estimated that possibly as many as one billion (no, that isn't a typo) birds die in collisions with human structures each year. (this link is safe to click on, and it contains fascinating information).

Hundreds of thousands of birds are migrating in North America right now and many will not make it to their destination.  

One thing I never realized until this year is that many of the summer birds we enjoy where I live in the Southern Tier of New York iare actually southern birds who summer here (like reverse snowbirds).  They come around April and May, and leave in September and October, heading back to the places they live in much of the year.  They aren't "our" birds.  In fact, some 40% of birds migrate - some short distances, some thousands of miles.

They come to our northern lands to breed, and our hearts are gladdened by their presence. But now Nature is calling them home.

Around 80% of them migrate at night.  The moon and stars guide them.  They don't have daytime thermals to deal with. Cooler temperatures help dispel the extra body heat of long distance flying.  I never realized that some of the night sounds aren't crickets, but, possibly, birds communicating with their fellow flyers.

The nighttime is busy and full of birds.

That's where turning off lights in city office buildings come in.   They won't be distracted by the light of artificial structures, and won't be drawn in to their doom.  But this solution isn't implemented often enough.  Here's one effort:  Lights out Philly.

Structures can also be designed to be less harmful to birds.  

For daytime collisions, there are other solutions, ones that homeowners (like me) should consider, because birds also collide with the windows of our homes.  I used to think "well, I don't see dead birds here in my yard, so why should I worry?" Turns out I'm wrong. 

I'm only starting my own birding journey, and I still have so much to learn.

One may ask, why should we care about some birds dying, when so many humans are suffering right now?  It's a good question.

But we depend on birds for so much - pollination, eating insects that hurt our survival, joyous song, and yes - the needed work of scavenging.  Let's not forget the billions of domestic birds that are direct members of our food chain, too (with apologies to my vegan and vegetarian readers.)

Birds need us.

But perhaps, even more, we need birds.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Summer Ends #SkywatchFriday

I've had phone problems this past week (full, despite working to delete my hoard of photos) and am wondering if my iPhone SE first edition will even permit the next iOS update. I managed to delete three apps, including Facebook (no great loss), enough to be able to take pictures and get email again, and to get the latest iPhone security patch. 

I may be looking for a new phone, or (son's suggestion) less expensive phone and actual camera.  I'm still waffling about that.

Of course, this is Skywatch Friday, not Complaining about my Minor First World Problems Friday, so onward to the sunset I can now bring you.

On August 31 we went to an ourdoor concert in a local park.

I captured a sunset picture there, as the sun set behind a mountain (not true sunset at that point).

And again, the colors were not spectacular.  My not-good timing/luck with sunsets continues.

So I'll just hang tight and keep enjoying the clouds and sun, no matter what.

Now, onward to fall.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Future of my iPhone

Today, I am struggling with a decision.

My iPhone, which was purchased the end of July, 2016, is full.  I use it just as much as a camera as I do a phone/text/way to browse the Internet.  The memory is full of photos, and I've been having issues taking the photos off (I won't bore you with the details).  I had to take apps off just to install the latest operating system upgrade, which was an urgent one due to security concerns.  I had to take apps off the phone.

Now, I don't have room for the next operating system upgrade.  

Do I buy the latest iPhone, the one just released (iPhone 13)?  I used my first iPhone for four years.  This one, I've had for five years. My strategy has been to get a new, current phone, and keep it for a long time.

A much better camera than my iPhone SE first edition tempts me, but is it necessary?  I enjoy photography but the limitations of the iPhone (especially with macro photography, for which it would be difficult to purchase a supplemental gadget to attach to my iPhone) frustrate me. So does my SE 1st Edition's inability to take good photos on cloudy days (which we have too many of where I live.)

My son talked to me and said 'Mom, if photography is going to be a hobby for you, you can't cheap out.  I suggest you buy an iPhone model a year or two old, not worrying about the latest built in camera, Spend the difference in money on an actual camera with features you want and decent photo editing and storage software".

But my cell phone is always with me, meaning my camera is always with me.

Then, there is 5G.  Do I really need to upgrade to a 5G ready phone?  Will having 5G matter to me?  Perhaps a year old iPhone model (one of the iPhone 12's) will do.

I'm retired but working part time.  Still, I have to watch my spending.

I want to keep taking good pictures for my readers, like this autumn clementis.

I know, in the scheme of things, this is a minor thing to worry about.  But if anyone has suggestions, I would appreciate it.

One more note:  due to Yom Kippur, I will not be posting comments until this evening (this post published automatically and was prewritten).  

Thank you in advance for any suggestions (I know some of you have made suggestions before, but I think I need one more small push.)