Thursday, December 8, 2022

Indie Book Trees

 Let's take another quick visit to Owego, New York, once named "The coolest small town in America".

Since 1976, Owego has had an indie bookstore, Riverow Books.  This is one of their traditions:

Christmas trees made out of books!

I hadn't been there since COVID, so I don't know how new this third tree is.  The items in the middle of the tree are books that have been cut to make works of art.  It's hard to see, but I didn't have a good place to set up the photo as there were people around and I didn't want to get them in the photo.

Next spring, Owego will be even cooler because a second bookstore is opening in the village.  It will be called Spellbound Books.

Imagine...a village of just around 3900 people having two indie bookstores.

The town Owego is in (a town in New York is a subdivision of a county), also called Owego, has around 19,000 people, incidentally.

Riverow, (and Owego) incidentally, are well worth the visit. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Patriotic Christmas #WordlessWednesday

Normally, my December 7 post pays tribute to the date as the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. 

I decided to do something a little different today.

I searched the thousands (yes, thousands) of photos on my phone for a photo taken on December 7.

Look what I found - taken on December 7, 2019, in the village of Owego, which I had blogged about last Wordless Wednesday.

Fitting, right?


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Missing Hearts

This past week, I finished a book called "Our Missing Hearts" by Celeste Ng.

This is the first novel by Ms. Ng I've read.  Unlike her other two novels, this is a dystopian novel.  Or perhaps not quite dystopian, because almost everything in this book has happened before, in one form or another.  This happens to be a genre I enjoy but this book hit a little bit too close to home.  It was chilling - a near future United States that is totally believable.

Briefly, this is the plot: Bird (a nickname; his given name is Noah) is a 12 year old boy with an Asian mother and a white father.  He lives with his father in a future United States which was transformed by a terrible economic crisis fifteen years before, called simply The Crisis.  China and South Korea are blamed (correctly or not) for The Crisis and eventually, anyone who is, or looks like, they are of Asian origin bore the brunt of this popular belief. 

PACT (the Preserving American Culture and Traditions Act) is passed by Congress in a bipartisan vote and signed into law 10 years before the events in this novel begins.  Among other things, PACT gives the government the right to remove children from any household not deemed patriotic enough.  Books are censored, eventually removed from libraries, and pulped.  The pulp is then used to manufacture toilet paper.  One such book is a book of poetry called "Our Missing Hearts" written by Bird's mother, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, which inspires those who engage in small acts of rebellion against PACT.

To prevent Bird from being taken, Bird's mother left the family and went into hiding three years before the novel begins.  Bird's father, protectively, denounces his wife and tells his son to forget his mother.  But then a communication comes in the mail....

A memory came back to me.

In 2020, my spouse and I were supposed to go to my 50th high school reunion. Well, not all of it.  Not the expensive dinner dance that would have taken place in Manhattan (also necessitating a hotel stay). But rather, I looked forward to an Alumni Day at our school.   I ha not set foot in my high school since my graduation, nor had I gone to previous reunions.  No matter.  Thanks to COVID, the 2020 reunion was cancelled.  

There were a handful of people I wanted to see again.  One of them was a woman I shared a locker with for part of my high school years.  We remained in touch during college and for a couple of years after we graduated.  Gradually, we lost touch.

I can't remember what initially attracted us to start a friendship.  We came from totally different backgrounds.  Me - Jewish, with grandparents from Belarus and from Austria-Hungary.  My locker mate was the daughter of Chinese immigrants.  My high school, back then, had a lot of Asian students.  It has many more now.

Today (based on statistics I found online) my high school is about 23% white and 79% "minority".  What would the framers of PACT had felt about that?

I must confess to this: When I started hearing about the large uptick in hate crimes against Asians in 2021, it was just part of the flood of news all of us are subject to.  It's overwhelming, the news, if you pay attention to each and every thing. But then, something caught in my mind.  It was wrong for me to ignore what was happening.

My thoughts turned to my former high school locker mate and college pen pal more than once, as I saw videos of elderly Asians attacked on the street, some fatally.  If she is alive today, my friend has closed in on 70, like me.  If her parents are still alive, they are probably in their 90's.  All of them are vulnerable in a way that I can not fully understand because my experience is not their experience. 

Did my lockermate have children?  Grandchildren?  What has been their experience?

I walk down the street and my face does not provoke hate.  Others walk down the street and face daily harassment or worse.  

Under PACT, all of that would have happening openly, with no recourse.

(I highly recommend Ng's novel, incidentally, although it was hard for me to get through some parts of it, and I had to put the book aside for several days more than once.)

Are we on our way to a similar future United States?  It's up to us.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Modern Christmas #MusicMovesMe

It's the first Monday of December, and it's time for music!

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Sunday or 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!)   Our head hostess is Cathy from Curious as a Cathy,  and she is joined by the knowledgeable Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and (last but not least) me.

Why not join our music loving folks?  It's so easy. All you have to do is join the linky above with a music post that contains at least one music video (if no music video, the post may be removed, or may be labeled *NO MUSIC*) and you've just joined a group of cool music lovers.  Why not? 

Each month, we have a guest host.  For December, our honorary host is Santa Claus.  Santa wants us to post holiday music so we can all dance and have a good time.  (I don't think Santa will mind me, next week, posting Hanukkah themed songs for our singing and dancing enjoyment).

For today, I decided to post some modern songs about Christmas.  Some of these are covers of well loved songs which I am enjoying.

This first song is an instant earworm for me.  Since I can't get it out of my ear, I thought I would share it with you.   Here is Last Christmas - Wham!, from 1984.

Happy Xmas (War is Over) - this cover by Miley Cyrus, Mark Ronson ft. Sean Ono Lennon (John Lennon's son) is a worthy cover to this John Lennon/Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono band 1971 classic. 

José Feliciano and his classic Feliz Navidad, from 1970.

Lindsay Lohan's 2022 cover of Jingle Bell Rock has such a cute video.

The Offspring (The Offspring!) and their 2022 cover of Bells Will Be Ringing (Please Come Home for Christmas).

Finally, Meghen Trainor and Pentatonix with Kid on Christmas.  This 2022 release is so catchy, I will be surprised if it doesn't become a hit.

And that's a wrap! 

Join me again next week for more Music Moves Me.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

It Doesn't Have to Be The Way it Is

 It's Christmas Time in Oakdale Commons.

It could have been so different.

Large retailer bankruptcies.  Online shopping.  A pandemic.

There was once an anchor store behind that wall

But our mall isn't dead, after all. Perhaps, in its own way, our part of New York State is experiencing a Christmas miracle.

Our local enclosed shopping mall, like so many other malls in this country, has faced hard times these past few years. In 2019 it faced foreclosure.

Stores all over the United States have closed.  Malls have gone out of business completely in other parts of our country, and I feared that would be our mall's fate.

There is an entire genre (not sure that's the right word, but let's try that) of music playing in abandoned malls on You Tube.  (Thank you, John from The Sound of One Hand Typing, for letting me know about this spooky corner of the Internet).

Our mall, currently called Oakdale Commons but originally called the Oakdale Mall, is experiencing major changes.  A brewery/brewpub took over space once occupied by a retail store.  Another wing of the mall is now a health and fitness facility.  Construction in our former Macy's for a Dicks House of Sports (the largest store ever for Dick's Sporting Goods, which originated in Binghamton, New York, just a handful of mile from this mall) is ongoing.  It will have a climbing wall and will even have an ice skating rink.

There are government offices in another part of the mall.

Now, an entire wing is being emptied out.  Several stores have either closed recently or are being relocated.  Rumor has it that a Costco is going in.

Change can be good, but it always brings its own type of stress. 

When you get to a "certain age" there is a tendency to remember the good old days.  I could recite a long list of bygone stores in that mall, including Montgomery Wards, Bradlees, and so many more.

But the last thing any of us should do is dwell in the past, or think that the way it is is the way it has to be.  We have to do the work to break out of that mindset.  It's never easy to effect change.  But it's necessary to try, if change is necessary.

Don't accept when things are bad.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

December 3 Farmers Market

For some, it's the most wonderful time of the year.  For others, it's the time of year when farm markets disappear until spring, and all we have left is our indoor year round farmers market.

Not the best angle, but the entrance was busy and I had to grab a shot before someone opened the door.

Let's go in.

Beets (red in front, orange in back), carrots and parsnips.  Carrots this big can still be quite usable. My spouse likes to cut them in spears and roast them in the air fryer.  So good!

The parsnips are great in potato pancakes.

Let's see.  What else?  How about local mushrooms?

Or a cup of coffee?  It's too bad I can only have a sip or two of coffee; my body and coffee (even decaf) no longer get along.  It smelled so good, though.

Finally, celeriac, a root veggie I have never tried.  Have you?

Friday, December 2, 2022

Unexpected November Sunset Part 1

 November 21 started out looking as though we would have our average sunset.  It was cold, and with a circulatory issue I have with my hands and feet, I asked my spouse to take pictures with his iPhone SE 3rd edition so I wouldn't have to take my gloves off.

Once I got out of work, it was sunset time.  My spouse and I headed to the local park where we do a lot of our evening skywatchings.

We started around the walking track.

The sun was already dipping below the horizon of nearby hills.  We weren't holding out that much hope for a special sunset

But now, there was a hint of what was to come, as the sky started to color up.

I looked back at the east, and saw a reverse sunset.

I saw the sky colors rapidly changing.

As I looked back at where the sun had set, I suspected the best was yet to come.

To be continued....

Joining Yogi and other skywatchers each Friday for Skywatch Friday