Monday, June 1, 2020

Songs of the Times #MusicMovesMe

Monday has rolled around once again and it is time for Music Moves Me.  It is also my 46th wedding anniversary, and an extraordinary week of events still unfolding.

First, the anniversary:

Spouse and I may still not be ready to travel, but music is always there to help us celebrate.  Today, I'd like to celebrate with my readers and the members of Music Moves Me.

Who are the members of Music Moves Me ?  We are bloggers who blog with music each Monday. If you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only- Please post containing links to You Tube or Vimeo for actual music.  Other posts are subject to removal or labeling as "No Music".)  Every other week we have a theme and on alternate weeks we have "You Pick".  

Our guest conductor for June is Michelle from Musings and Merriment.

Michelle has picked for her theme:  "You Pick"  I'm picking songs about love and songs about anniversaries.  Nothing is guaranteed, especially in these times we could not have imagined even months ago, but I so hope we are both around to enjoy many more anniversaries.

I will start with this classic about anniversaries:  Happy Anniversary- Little River Band

The Anniversary Waltz - so many covers of this 1941 song to choose from.  How about Bing Crosby?  (sigh....)

Carl Carlton - Everlasting Love

We are getting a bit too mushy here - so here's a different view of things.  The Doobie Brothers cover of Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While).

What some think is the greatest love song ever - not sure about that but it's a great song that I've had on my blog before.  God Only Knows by the Beach Boys.

But now, current events dominate our thoughts. This not being a political blog, I won't give that type of commentary.  Just a couple of songs....

First, a song I found on another blog in this blog hop, one I had not heard of until yesterday.  Alicia Keys and "We've Gotta Pray", a song released in 2014.

Finally, the classic A Change is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke, from 1963.

1963.  2014.  Today.

I offer these songs without further comment.

You know what comes next:  see you next Monday, same time, same place.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Back into Space On Our Own

It took nearly nine years.

In July of 2011 I blogged this:

"The United States space program ended today.

Today has left a large hole in my heart.  And perhaps one in our country's heart.

I was a child of the Space Race.  In October of 1957, Sputnik 1 was launched.  Ever hear of it? Or the Soviet Union?  Well...

The Soviet Union was a "union" of Russia and a number of other nearby countries.  Their government was "communist", committed to the destruction of the capitalist system - and our country.  Or, so we were told.  Those were scary times.  When I was a toddler, being called a Communist could be enough to cause someone to lose their job.  There were special congressional hearings.  Blacklists.

The Soviets had "The Bomb".   We and they fought what was called the "Cold War".  If they won and took us over, all would be lost.  The Soviets were totally evil- that is what I was taught, as a schoolchild growing up in the 1950's and early 60's.

When the Soviets launched the first satellite in October of 1957, our country was thrown into a panic.  We needed to get our children educated in the sciences, and quickly, so we could get into space with our satellite before the Communists took space over.   This drive accelerated even more quickly when the Soviets put the first man into space in 1961.

We as a country committed ourselves to reach the moon in a speech given by President Kennedy in May of 1961. 

50 years ago, we decided to go to the moon.  We would beat the Soviets there.  We knew they were trying to get there, too.

Competition is the heart of the capitalist system.

I saw some of the various launches in school.  Others, on our black and white TV at home.  First, we blasted one man into sub-orbit.  Then, one man into orbit.  Then, into many orbits.

Then, the Soviets took a walk in space. So we had to also.

To make a long story short, we made it to the moon first.  Several more missions got to the moon and then in the 1970's we totally changed direction.  We decided to have a program with partially disposable space crafts.  We haven't been to the moon since that decision and, in fact, no one else has been, either.

In the middle of all this, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.  Probably a lot of the urgency disappeared with the Soviets.  We no longer had an enemy to compete with.

And then we realized it was way too expensive for the government to keep up the space program.  Private industry would have to take over, and that is part of the reason for what happened today.  The entire story is complicated, and this is a very shallow telling of the tale.

Today, several generations know of the space program mainly for Tang, and freeze dried ice cream.  But, in reality, it enriched our lives in so many ways we can't even imagine - everything from MRI technology to cell phones (have you ever seen the first Star Trek series?) to - well, there is an entire NASA Spinoff website that explains this.

Think about this.  We won the space race, right?  And now -we won't have a way to get into space on our own, for now.  We will have to depend on....

The Russians.

Now, that's irony."

It continued that way, year after year, us depending on the Russians.  Until yesterday's launch.  And today's docking.   This time, the manned flight was a partnership between NASA and a commercial aerospace company founded in 2002, Space Exploration Technologies Corp, better known as SpaceX.  In the midst of a pandemic, they launched.  It wasn't the first pandemic launch, either, as there was another (Russian) launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in April.

Perhaps, our space program can get on track again, even as we battle nature (and ourselves) back at home.

We can only hope.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

If You Won't Do It During a Pandemic

I've read a saying that, in this time when much of the world was on lockdown, and we had to stay (for the most part) at home, we would have time to do whatever we wanted indoors.

Week after week passed.

We forgot what day it was.

Some of us baked.  Some of us read.  Some of us remodeled our apartments or homes, or drank (maybe too much) or rediscovered crafts, or learned to make sourdough bread from scratch.  We learned what Dalgona Coffee was, even if we didn't make it. (I didn't).

We all eventually came to one realization:

If you won't do it in a pandemic, you will never do it.

Yup.  My stack of unread books - still unread.  My bedroom - still messy. (My spouse did work on other parts of the house, while I worked from home).  My mind was still in winter mode, half asleep.

But, after our last snow in May (yes, May), things suddenly warmed up.  After three freeze warnings in a row, frosts were suddenly (we hoped) out of the picture.

It was time to rush and garden.

So, spouse and I went to the nurseries.  As much as we had tried to flatten the curve (especially with his brother having survived a COVID-19 hospitalization) flowers and veggies were calling and these businesses, considered essential in New York State, were open for business.

I remembered when, last year, I wanted to make potpourri, something I did years and years (and years) ago, and decided that potpourri material would be on the shopping list.

This year, masks were required, and we all did a dance of dodging other customers with (most of us) trying to keep social distance.

My finds:  Three scented geraniums - nutmeg, orange and pinewood (the pinewood was a repeat of last year) in this photo.  Scented geraniums are not hardy here and I have not had luck in overwintering them.

In another planter, lemon (citronella) geranium.

I am trying patchouli for the first time.  This is not its ideal clime, and I know it will die with the frost.  But I am willing to try it.
I planted sweet woodruff years ago in the most shady part of my yard.  It's perhaps too shady. It has never thrived.  It hung on, though, and, this year, I decided to do something about it.

My back has gotten pretty cranky in the last couple of weeks, and massage is not available in New York due to the pandemic.  So the harvest was a bit painful - this grows low - fortunately I had a gardening bench to help me.  

I blogged last week about my experiment in drying lilacs in cat litter.  So yesterday, I decided to dry some sweet woodruff.  It's now at the end of its blooming season so it was time to harvest.  I looked up microwave instructions and it said "place on paper towel, cover with another paper towel, then dry at 100% for 30 seconds, then in 15 second increments until fully dry.

Here the sweet woodruff is before I started to dry.  Green, it doesn't have a fragrance but once dried, it has a vanilla like scent.

It took, perhaps, two minutes, and I had to do it in several batches even for the small amount I harvested.  This is what it looked like by the time it was dry.  I put it in a small container and am keeping it for when my lilacs are dry. (I hope to report on that tomorrow).

There's more to potpourri than lilacs and sweet woodruff, though, and I have to work through that.

Gardening has become so popular, though, that our biggest area nursery is closing tomorrow, a month early.  They ran out of plants.

So...what have you done these past few months?  Do you have "When I Get Around to It" items you know now that you will never get around to?

Friday, May 29, 2020

As it May Glow #SkywatchFriday

We in the Southern Tier of New York State had a long list of weather in May - snow (yes, snow), a heat wave, three freeze warnings, thunderstorms, and later today, a cold front which will cause us to plunge back into cold weather.

May can bring some lovely sunrises and sunsets, too, but for some reason, our sunsets have, for the most part, had a lot of gold in them.

Perhaps May is trying to compete with all the yellow flowers that have bloomed this month.

Memorial Day night started like this, with a band of gold (maybe not that apparent here)

Then things got going.

And into a mini-explosion

I am joining Yogi and other sky watching bloggers at #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Lilacs #ThursdayTreeLove

The horse chestnuts are blooming today where I live, but I've blogged about them before.  I am going to return to one of my favorite flower - the lilac.

Parul of Happiness and Food hosts a #ThursdayTreeLove meme every second and fourth Thursday of the month.  It's hard to keep track of the days in these times but the calendar says it's time to post.

Some of the trees posted are from those who live in climes hotter than my clime of the Northeast United States, and I admire trees that would never be able to survive where I live.

But we have our trees of beauty, too.  Today I am featuring a plant that really isn't a tree, but it is blooming this week where I live. Actually, make it "was blooming", our hot temperatures this week have put a premature end to a lot of the blooms.

This is one of my three lilacs.  I wish there was a smell-o-blog feature where you could smell these flowers. So wonderful.

Have you ever seen a lilac up close?  Here's a peek.

There are hundreds of varieties.  Their scent brings back memories of my mother (more on that later this week.)

Their fragrance was so wonderful while it lasted.  May has sped by.  Couldn't it have stopped for a few more minutes?

Love a tree today!

Won't you join us with your tree this week?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Farewell to a Blogging Friend

Last night, I checked Facebook.  I had not seen any posts from a Facebook friend since mid-May.  The fact that she had not posted since worried me, as she loved to post on Facebook.  I also knew she suffered from a number of health problems.

So I went to her page and....found a post from her sister.  My Facebook friend  had passed away a couple of days after her last post.  The sister didn't mention the cause of death, but does it matter?

The sister invited us to tell a story about Billie.  I had met Billie in 2006, and I had only seen her a handful of times since.  The last two times I was in Florida, we couldn't connect.  But I do have a story.

Here is my Billie story. It's one I've told before and I hope you won't mind the repeat.  In the original post, from 2006, I used her name and another name, and I will do so here, too.

As newlyweds, my spouse and I moved from New York State to Tampa, Florida.  We lived there a little less than two years, and then left.

Since the day we left in 1976, we had never been back to Florida.  In 2006,  it was time to return.  Florida bound we were.

We took the Auto Train down. At last, we arrived in Tampa, with our then teenaged son in tow.

I have two cousins who were born, and grew up, in Tampa.   One of them, Barry, and his (now former) companion Billie decided they were going to give us a tour of Tampa so we could see how it had changed in 30 years.  My son came along for the ride.

Barry and Billie drove us around Tampa. And finally, I asked Barry if he would take us back to where we had started our married life.

Of course he would.

We couldn’t believe it.  A neighborhood which was once not too desirable was up and coming and most desirable.   We went past what, when we lived there, was a small neighborhood mall – it was now something spanning several blocks called Hyde Park Village.

Historic sign in Hyde Park Village, January 2020
New construction was everywhere.  The “don’t go there” neighborhood was gone, razed, with condos going up on the site.  Our neighborhood had gone upscale.

The two family house we lived in was still there.  We didn’t recognize the street at all.  It looked really nice.

We parked in front of the house.  And I had to open my big mouth and say “Say, wouldn’t it be nice if we could see the apartment again?”

“Why not?” replied Billie.  She marched up the stairs and knocked on the door.

She came back down.  A young Hispanic man had answered her knock. And yes, we were more than welcome to come in and look around.

So we took our son up and showed him where we had started married life over 30 years before.  The young man proudly showed us around the apartment.   He had restored most of it but the bathroom was almost exactly how we had left it, 30 years before.  We couldn't believe it.

I never would have had the nerve to knock on that door.  But Billie did it for me, brushing my fears away.  And my spouse, my son, and I, were richer for it.

Flowers, Hyde Park Village, January 2020
The last words Billie wrote on her Facebook page were:  "Celebrate! Celebrate! Dance to the music..."

But right now, I can't.

RIP, Billie. You are the person who got me into serious blogging back in 2011, two years after I had started to blog, introducing me to my first blogging challenge.

Our world is poorer for your absence.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Adventures in Kitty Litter and Potpourri

Last year, I wrote this post on potpourri and rediscovering oneself.

What happened to my 2019 dreams?  Nothing.  Did I "return to my roots" and take up the hobby of potpourri making again?  Nope.  Time got away from me.  Part of it was a busy job that suddenly went into overdrive.  But that overdrive part is over now.

Fast forward a year, to a continuing pandemic, a semi-retirement (more on that one of these days) and a time when it seems everyone has discovered or rediscovered crafts and gardening.

The lilacs are blooming where I live in upstate New York.  I have three varieties on my property,  First, there is an old bush (deep purple) planted by my late neighbor who knows how many years ago along our boundary line. Another (lighter purple)  was planted by us years ago next to his.  Finally, there is a heavenly fragrant white one our other neighbor has on his boundary line. Over the years some of the bush lies on our side so we can cut from our side.

The lilacs were calling to me - Pick me! Use me! (I'll have pictures of the lilacs tomorrow).

Years ago, when I first moved here, I tried to dry lilac flowers, but found that air drying resulted in browned flowers.   This was before the Internet so I didn't have a ready research source.  Now, the Internet (and You Tube) were going to be my friend.

My research in drying flowers brought me to silica gel.  Using silica gel would preserve the color, and the drying would only take a week.  Only one problem - the pandemic.  Many stores here, except if they sell essentials such as food or gardening items, had been closed since mid March.

But as of May 15, the stores selling non essentials could be open, but only for curbside pickup.

We've not had the best of luck with non essential curbside pickup.  We realize stores are working with limited staffing and perhaps limited stock, too.  We never know what a person serving us has been through.  This is not a time for complaints. Having said that, I decided not to order from a chain crafts store (we have two of them in our community).

Substitution time.

The internet told me that I could use kitty litter.  So yesterday, I went to the supermarket.  There was a store brand of cat litter that was made from unscented silica gel, and nothing more.
It is not the fine silica gel sold in crafts stores.  "Gel" might not be the best description of this; it's more like ground rock with little blue beads in it.  (I know I'll get some comments on my description but please keep in mind this is my first experience with either silica gel or silica gel cat litter.)  So I took a plastic container and poured in a layer of the silica gel.
I took the flower cluster and snipped off the flowers.  I laid the flowers on top of the gel, then poured the gel (carefully, so it wouldn't crush the flowers) around the perimeter of the container using a small cup, then gently laid the gel on top of the flowers.

In a week, I'll see the results.

While I am at it, thank you, supermarket employees, delivery people and others, who made this project possible for me.
Have you ever made potpourri?