Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Gettysburg Cyclorama

A cyclorama is a type of 360 degree oil on canvas painting popular in the late 19th century.   Their popularity died out as motion pictures became available in the 20th century.  Few cycloramas have survived to the present day.

They would depict various events such as fires, battles, and other events of note.

The Gettysburg Cyclorama is a restored painting by French artist Paul Philippoteaux depicting Pickett's Charge, a failed charge by the Confederate troops during the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg in the United States Civil War.  This three day battle was fought July 1-3, 1863, so we are commemorating its 159th anniversary this year.

If that charge had succeeded, the Confederate State of America may well have eventually won their war against the United States.  Historians and people who study the war debate this to the present day.

Today, I want to bring you some of this cyclorama  This particular painting was not the original Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama, which was first displayed in Chicago in 1883.  That painting took a year and a half to create.  The artist interviewed various survivors of the battle and took sketches of the battlefield during a 1882 visit.

There were possibly four Gettysburg cycloramas produced under the direct supervision of this artist: Chicago (1883), Boston (the version now exhibited at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Philadelphia (1886), Brooklyn (which became part of New York City in 1898) in 1886.

The version first displayed in Chicago may have been destroyed in a storm in Omaha, Nebraska in 1894.  The Gettysburg National Park Service website states it still survives and is known as the "Wake Forest" version, in dire need of restoration, but I read elsewhere there is evidence of its destruction in Omaha, as mentioned earlier.  Another cyclorama may have been cut up and used as tents for Native Americans.

The version I saw at the Gettysburg (battle) Visitors Center in March of this year was a second commission of Pickett's Charge, first displayed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1884.  Between 2003 and 2008 the painting was restored, and it is, to put it mildly, awe-inspiring.

Let's go in. Yes, it's weird saying "inside a painting" but the painting surrounds you completely.

When you first go in, the lights are dimmed. Then, the show begins.  Lights are raised to duplicate a sunrise, I'm guessing, and the battle is revealed.  (You can download video and stills at this site but these are my pictures.)

This is so realistic that it is said that veterans of the battle cried when they visited the cyclorama back in the 1880's.
The battle was fought on farmland, not far from the small city of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (Today, the population is around 7,000 people.)

The painting is  377 feet (114.9m) in circumference and 42 feet (12.8m) high. 

What is missing are the sound effects of battle that are also piped in.  Note that, in addition to the painting, there are real rocks and figures in front of it, which give it the three dimensional look.

These pictures do not begin to do the Cyclorama justice.  

At a time when it seems our country is becoming more split apart, it is well to dwell on the aftermath of the Civil War.  Gettysburg was an important, and terrible, part of this war.  

We must never put ourselves through anything like this, ever again. 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Imagination Skies #SkywatchFriday

June has vanished in a puff of humidity, replaced by July and the dog days of summer.  Indeed, today, it's supposed to be hot and humid.  

So let's take a little break from sky watching and, instead, do some day dreaming.

When you were a child, did you like to look at the clouds and imagine what object or living thing the clouds looked like?

My spouse still likes to do that.  Or maybe he picked it up from going with me on many of my walks to watch the sky. 

Earlier this week, we were walking, and spouse saw this - cloud? contrail?  He said "it looks like an "S".

Let's call it "Super Sky?"

The next day, he saw formations on the bottom left and asked me "don't these look like jellyfish?"

These were easy for spouse, who has always loved the weather.  "Mare's tails", he declared. 

So fun to watch the sky,and daydream. 

Do you see what spouse saw, or something different?

Before I go, let me wish my Canadian readers a Happy Canada Day, and my United States readers a Happy Independence Day on July 4.

Joining Yogi and other skywatchers for #SkywatchFriday.


Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Search for Miss Kelly

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a news item featuring the "search for Miss Kelly", a woman attending the University of Connecticut who had applied for astronaut training.  NBC news has a copy of a rejection letter from February of 1962 where NASA said "We have no existing program for woman astronauts...nor do we contemplate any such plan..."  Of course, in 1963, the Soviet Union launched the first woman into space but it took many years for the United States to catch up.

We don't know if Miss Kelly ever fulfilled her dream in some other way.  NASA did not officially hire female astronauts until 1978. 

As of the time I blog this, Miss Kelly has not been found.  But, interesting, I saw that this Miss Kelly letter had been published online in 2013 - nine years ago.

Back in 2020, I wrote this about women in the space program, and something I was never taught, even as I watched launches live in my 1960's elementary school classrooms:
"I grew up in the 50's and 60's, a time when we were in a space race with the Soviet Union.

All the astronauts were men.  The people in the control room were men.  That's the way it was back then.

Little did I know about the female "computers", who, starting as early as 1939, helped to put airplanes in the air and, eventually, the United States into space.  No one talked about them.  No one taught us about them in school, even in the science oriented high school I attended in New York City in the late 1960's.

No, NASA's face was totally male. 

I did not pursue a science career (I was never able to conquer mathematics) but the space program always remained of interest to me.

Some of these computers, not machines, but humans who did their calculations by hand, were women of color.  They rode to work in segregated buses, consigned to the back.  They worked in segregated rooms.  Some had to go to the bathroom in a different building than they worked in.

In those days, a "computer" was a human.  Machine computers were primitive, and not trusted for many calculations.

Eventually, a book called "Hidden Figures" told some of the stories of three female computers of color..  Among them was a woman by the name of Katherine Johnson, who did the calculations for some of the first Mercury missions and Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon, among many other accomplishments.  She retired in 1986.

In an interview several years ago, she humbly said "I did the best I could".

Fast forward to 2017, when spouse and I traveled to Columbia, South Carolina to view the total eclipse of the sun.  

At the museum where we saw the eclipse, there was a NASA trailer and a long line to get in.  We saw their display and, at the end, were invited to the Langley, Virginia NASA facility where Katherine Johnson and others had worked, for an open house that October.  They only hold the open houses every five years, and this one was special - their 100th anniversary.   Health permitting (Ms. Johnson was in a wheelchair by then), Katherine Johnson was planning to attend.

But my elderly mother in law's health was starting to fail, and we could not make the trip."

We never did see Katherine Johnson.  She passed away in 2020. 

I've still kept my interest in the space program, and I'm aware there is a hope of seeing a woman on the moon by 2025.

Now, to see if we can find Miss Kelly.  Maybe this time, we will.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

More Toothpick Art #WordlessWednesday

Ready for some more toothpick art?

On a recent visit to the Eastview Mall in Victor, New York (a suburb of Rochester) I saw an exhibit of toothpick art from a local artist, Stan Munro.  Here's my first post, further explaining the art.

Here are a couple of more selections for this Wordless Wednesday.  Yes, this art is made from toothpicks - thousands of them.  Would you have the patience?

The Statue of Liberty (with an addition).


"I wish I knew what this is".


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her weekly #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Dead Goldfish and Other Colonoscopy Adventures

Yes, you read the title of my blog post correctly.  And fair warning, it's going to get a little gross.

But before I get into my latest colonoscopy adventure, I have a request for you.  If you are (in the United States) 45 or older, please please please get that colonoscopy.  Yes, the prep (which involves a liquid diet and then hours of drinking mass quantities of a liquid that makes you - um, empty out your colon) isn't fun.  

Yes, the prep and procedure itself ties up perhaps one and a half days of your life.  But please be the warrior and get it. 

Having said that, I was supposed to have my 10 year colonoscopy in January of 2021, right in the middle of Delta.  So I put it off.  And there were other delays caused by practicioners.  My pre-procedure appointment finally happened in November, 2021.

By November, we were surging with Omicron and some hospitals in New York State, where I live, were starting to temporarily halt outpatient surgery.  So I discussed at my November appointment and I got the bright idea of putting the colonoscopy off until late April, 2022.  The gastro's office was agreeable.

To make a painful story short, I started my late April prep in the afternoon of the day before the procedure, in the midst of a snowstorm.  That snowstorm ended up causing many downed trees and a lot of power failures by the morning of my procedure. The power failures included the hospital where I was supposed to get the colonoscopy.  An hour after I finished my prep I got the call - cancelled.

It was rescheduled for this past Friday.  

This time, all went well.  Friday morning, all cleaned out (I'll spare you the details), I reported to the hospital.  I was checked in and pointed to the waiting room.

The waiting room is right next to where all the nurses and other staff are. You couldn't see them but you could hear them. There was a lot of conversation, which I ignored, but then someone sounded upset.

"It died", a woman I couldn't see exclaimed.  Let's call her Woman 1.  My ears perked right up. What had died?

Someone else said, "well, flush it down the toilet!"

A minute or so later, the sound of a flush echoed through the waiting room.  Loudly. 

Right after that, I heard a co worker scold "I TOLD you it was going to die!" To which Woman 1 responded "It jumped out of the bowl!" Woman 1 also mentioned she was "going to get another one."

Bowls.....flushes. Childhood memories of the goldfish my Mom tried to keep alive.  Did one of the GI nurses seriously have a pet fish?  That's my guess. This is just a wild guess and maybe it's a hallucination hangover from the colonoscopy drugs.   Except that my spouse was with me until I was taken in, and he heard the conversation and flush, too.

(No pictures today).

About a million years later, my name was called. I was taken to a room, changed into a gown, and the nurses did what they needed to do.  I will say the nurses I saw that day were all wonderful.  After they prepped me and wheeled me into the colonoscopy room, the gastro asked me to start counting from 1 up.  I made it to 21 (a personal record). The next thing I knew, I was back in the room with my belongings. Finally, I had the procedure!

They found a polyp, the first I've had.  I'm waiting for the biopsy result.  My only concern is the year and a half I was late.  Some my doing, some the gastro's office. I was hoping this would be my last colonoscopy.  We'll have to see.

So, please don't wait.  Get it done.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Songs from A Special Month #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday. It's time for music!

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!)   Our head hostess is Cathy from Curious as a Cathy,  and she is joined by the knowledgeable Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and the world famous (not) me. 

Our founder, Marie aka Xmas Dolly, has stepped back from blogging for now, and would appreciate your good thoughts as she works through some health issues. The latest word from Marie is that she hopes to return to blogging sometime in the near future.  Let's hope so!

We'd love more music lovers to join our fun group.  All you have to do is join the linky above with a music post that contains at least one music video (there must be a music video or your post will be subject to removal or labeling "No Music").  So easy!

Each month, except December, we have a guest host. For June, we are welcoming Cathy from Curious as a Cathy one last time.  Her theme for this week is to build a playlist from from each of our 34th birthday years in honor of Cathy's DD#1's upcoming birthday.

Mine would be 1986.  I've chosen a playlist from a week in December of 1986.

I'm picking here from both the United States and the United Kingdom charts, just to have fun.  A couple of these I've had on my blog before, but I'm not going to complain if you don't.

This first song happens to be a song I love - The Way it Is, from Bruce Hornsby and The Range.

Everybody Have Fun Tonight from Wang Chung.

Walk Like an Egyptian from The Bangles

The Final Countdown - Europe

Berlin - Take My Breath Away is from the original Top Gun movie.

I'll end with this song - Amanda, from Boston.

Wishing Cathy's daughter a happy birthday later this week.  It sure was fun to take a trip through music of the year I turned 34 in.

Join me again next week for another episode of Music Moves Me.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Strawberry Recipes

It's strawberry season where I live in the Southern Tier of New York.  For a lazy, warm, Sunday, I'd like to share some strawberry recipes with you.

Here are some I've had on my blog in the past:

Chocolate covered strawberries 

Low sugar strawberry jam 

Strawberry topped angel food cake (from a mix) 

Today, I want to share with you an easy strawberry sauce you can drizzle onto pancakes,waffles or french toast.  It's a great way to use up overripe strawberries, and was taught to me by my late childhood best friend when we had our last quality visit together in July of 2013.

We bought a quart of local strawberries at the farmer's market yesterday, and had some strawberries in the fridge that were a bit old (but still edible) so decided to make this sauce.

Strawberry Sauce

Small amount of maple syrup (ideally, real maple syrup and not "pancake syrup").

Mash the softened berries.  Add the maple syrup.  Cook under low heat until they are as sauce like as you want.  
These come out chunky so you can mash further if you want smooth.
Speaking of strawberry topped angel food cake, this is what we had for dessert last night.  We use a Betty Crocker mix (no compensation for this mention) because it is a one step mix. It's easy, and it can be made in a 9 x 13 inch pan (I don't have a tube pan) with a minor adjustment in the amount of water and how you beat the mix.
What is your favorite strawberry recipe?