Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summer Ramblings - Does Love Trump Hate?

Today is the last Wednesday of July.  Yesterday was another ugly day in world events, as hate showed itself.  People died. There is so much uncertainty, so much feeling that the world is going down a dark and dangerous path.

As the crickets chirp their late summer messages, I thought about a phrase that has been used many times recently here in the United States:  Love Trumps Hate.  You see it, on thousands of printed political signs.  You hear it in speeches.  But, I am not asking this question in a political sense.

It's (the pun in the expression aside) a good question.

If you google "Does love trump hate?", you get about 15,000,000 results.

But is it true?

It can even tear apart families, these political discussions.  Isn't hate busy trumping love?

So, to bring in a breath of fresh, positive, air, I present to you some of the flowers blooming in my yard.  Unlike many of my posts, where I also feature flowers found on various of my exercise walks, these were all from my front yard.

Some of my final day lilies.


Reddish, glowing after sunset.

And pure yellow but with a hint of white, again after sunset.

My tall phlox.

But not all beauty is in flowers.  Sometimes, foliage is what I admire.
Our three coleus plants.


I grew up in an apartment in the Northeast Bronx.  I am so grateful for every day I can walk into my yard.  I do not turn a blind eye to what is going on in the world, but I do have to take breaks from it. (And, for now, I continue my limited visits to Facebook.)  But, many times, I wake up thinking that hate, all over the world, is trumping love.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Radiation Biohazard and Other Garden Delights

For several years I have visited Cutler Botanical Gardens just outside Binghamton, New York to marvel at their day lily display.   Cutler is a hidden gem in the Binghamton area.  Actually it isn't hidden - Interstate 81 goes right past it, and there are signs for it.

It is not famous.  It is not large.  But it deserves more attention and the volunteers who maintain it (and dig it out of occasional floods) deserve a long round of applause.  Did I also mention that it is free?

I do have a teeny tiny complaint.

They have an annoying habit of numbering many of their plants. An explanatory booklet never seems to be around.  Last year, I even contacted them on Facebook to ask for some kind of online key.  No key to the numbers resulted.

This year, in mid-July, my spouse and I visited and - finally! There was a booklet in the booklet holder. (Fear not, I returned it.)
Overview of the lily bed
So now the mysteries of previous years are somewhat solved.

Let me introduce you to Lily #249 Radiation Biohazard. 

How about Lily #215 Two Part Harmony.

#228 Karen's Curls 

And Dr. Jerrold Corbett (this one may be my favorite) although it doesn't seem to look like its catalog picture.

I could post dayily pictures all day, but I suspect I might lose all my readers.

And, by the way, Cutler is worth visiting at other seasons, too. (and, I have solved the mystery of this door I blogged about).

What is your favorite flower?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Music Monday - Just Scroll on By

Just scroll on by - but please, not this post.

Thank you, everyone, who commented on my post of Saturday wondering if I should quit Facebook.

I was bemoaning the fact that my Facebook timeline had become a repository of political hate expressed by some of my Facebook friends.  I had, in fact, known some of them for many years and knew them to be decent people.  But this has been a political season, here in the United States, enough to bring out the worst in many.

You all had such helpful comments.  One of you, Lynda Grace, even helped me name today's blog post.  She suggested I "just scroll on by."  Ignore the hate.   Concentrate on the good.
Yes, this one is in my yard
Like this lantana flower cluster, Facebook is a mix of many colors, many opinions, many kinds of people.  It's up to me to curate my Facebook garden if I want to keep from feeling poisoned.

Another blogger, YTSL, reminded me that I majored in cultural anthropology in college.  I remembered, then, my training from so many years ago.  It enabled me to step outside my culture (well, never perfectly, and I never did field work) and examine things more from a distance.

I am still planning to spend a lot less time on Facebook - and doing a lot more blocking and "scrolling on by".  We'll see how it goes.  Already, if I had quit Facebook, I would have missed the news about my last original neighbor from back when I first moved to the neighborhood so many years ago.

I'm so glad I didn't just walk away.

Speaking of walking, since this is music Monday,  here are a couple of walking songs from my childhood.

Walk Like A Man - the Four Seasons

Walk on By - Dionne Warwick

And one from my adulthood - Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves.

Have you decided to Scroll on By on Facebook?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Saddest Day of Summer

I've used my seven years of blogging to track when I hear the first crickets chirping each year.

The chirp of the crickets is the first sign of fall coming, and it always makes me a little sad.  I like to think summer is endless.  What a fantasy (here in upstate New York.)

This year, I heard crickets, for the first time, on July 18.  The earliest ever, although I must add that I only heard them in one location.  But this morning, I opened my door to get the paper and heard the chirps. "C-Day" is official.

Here are some cricket milestones of the past:

July 29, 2009
July 30, 2011 
then, there were two dates in 2012, perhaps due to an early spring
May 21, 2012
July 25, 2012
August 3, 2014
July 28, 2015 

Actually, something similar happened in July of 2010, but they were here for good by July 22.  Incidentally, that's one reason why I like to blog - the blog becomes a kind of garden journal.  I'm no good at diaries or journals, but blogging is something I do keep up with.  At least for now.

In April of this year, I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. My theme was (based on a soap opera theme)  "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of our Lives".  Crickets don't tend to have a long life span - different species may live anywhere from three months to a year, or so I've read.

The day lilies I love don't live long, either.  Each bloom only lasts a single day, teaching us not to live in the past or the future.  Live only in the present, and look at the beauty around you each day.  And speaking of which, sometime this week, I will post even more lily pictures.

Until then, enjoy the chirp of the cricket, if they are chirping where you live.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Should I Quit Facebook?

I'm not the only person thinking that.  I asked Google, and got back 3,590,000 results.

Why would I ever want to quit Facebook?

I would miss being able to post pictures of my day lilies trying to teach us some life lessons.
Enjoy each day., says this lily.  Be true to yourself.

Well, to tell the truth, nowadays when I get on Facebook, what I stare at is hate.  Lots and lots of hate.  Mainly from friends in the United States, but some from overseas.

Name calling.

People wishing harm on other people.

People saying things that would have gotten their mouths washed out with soap had they grown up in my Mom's apartment in the 1950's.

I feel like I am slowly being poisoned.

I am not talking about normal political discussion.  I don't mind my Facebook friends being of different political persuasions.  What I do mind is the tone this discussion has taken on in the past few months.  Yes, we in America are scared, are frustrated, and are looking for answers.  I get all that.  I am frustrated and looking for answers, too.  And, I am scared of various directions my country, and its citizens, are taking.

I visited with some of my spouse's cousins the other day.  They have different political beliefs from my spouse and me.  But they are willing to listen and to ask questions, to find out where the other person is coming from.  One gave me some advice, and recommended I go through my timeline, and hide the posts that make me feel the way I do.

For some, it will need more than hiding. So far, I've blocked one person (several months ago - almost every post one of pure hate) and am seriously thinking of blocking a couple of more.

It's a shame.  What is happening on my timeline makes me think that I am now interacting with strangers.

I like some of these people who do these postings.  I know they aren't evil.  Perhaps  a form of temporary insanity has taken over.  I don't want to give Facebook up, I tell myself, over that.

I get a lot of news from Facebook.  Remember Friday's post, where I blogged about a young cousin of my spouse's?  I found out about his birth on Facebook.  Earlier this week, I found out the mother of someone I had known here locally (she has since moved) had passed away.

I found out a relative lost his job recently on Facebook.

I found out about Munich and Orlando from Facebook.

I find, more and more, businesses are on Facebook and don't update websites.  I depend on Facebook for farmers market happenings and more.

A lot of my blogging contacts come via Facebook.  The challenges I occasionally participate in require membership in Facebook.
I could wish we all could still discuss things without considering those who disagree with us as our mortal enemies.  Take these lilies, for example.

These day lilies are not your usual lilies.  But they co exist with the lily above, and the lily below.

Wishful thinking for a perfect world. But maybe not.  This lily, showing its beautiful peach color,  teaches us a lesson:

Life is too short.  Give life everything you have, and don't waste the time allotted you.

So this is my decision: Life really is too short to read my timeline without massive hiding of posts, although I may try it starting today.

What I have decided to do is mainly concentrate on some special interest groups (music, crocheting, blogging) I belong to.  I may not spend much time on my timeline. I will look for DMs, though, in case someone wants to contact me.

We'll see how it goes.

How do you feel about Facebook?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Falling Friday - The Grandma Discussion

Yesterday, a couple of cousins from out of town visited my mother in law.  One brought with her her young daughter and her month old baby boy.

My mother in law, who is in her late 80's, was so happy to have these two children in the house.

My son came over for dinner.  Over sandwiches and salads, the "Grandparent" discussion commenced.

You know the one, if you are of certain ages.

I have not been in a hurry to be a grandmother. My mid-20's son (I only have one child) is not in a committed relationship, so the discussion doesn't happen all that much.  But I know two things.  One is that my son loves children.  And the other thing is, I remember when my Dad burned with Grandparent fever.  (Sadly, he didn't live to see his grandson.)

For me, the urge does not burn.  Not yet, anyway.  All around me, people I know are becoming grandparents.   I work closely with someone who has TWO pregnant daughters right now.  They are on opposite coasts (of the United States), and are due at somewhat the same time, and I don't envy her the travel.  But it is nice to think about.

I don't dread being called "Grandma". Or "Nana" or anything like that.  Not at all.

Around me, people are retiring because they have become grandparents.  I am not ready for that, either.

But I was ready for this.

Little J. was in his fussy part of the day.  And, when I held him, he cried for a couple of minutes. But I rubbed him like a grandmother, and felt love in  my heart.

And you know what?

He stopped crying, and smiled at me.

Watch out, world.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday - It Wasn't Supposed to End Like This

July 20 (or 21st, depending on which time zone you lived in) was the 47th anniversary of mankind's first steps on the moon by astronaut Neil Armstrong- unless you are someone like my father's father, who went to his grave thinking it was a Hollywood fabrication.

My personal memories, growing up in the Bronx? That day, July 20, I went with my Dad to see a space exhibit in midtown Manhattan - and late that night, we watched Neil Armstrong take his step on a flickering black and white TV picture in our Bronx apartment.

Who would have expected the space program would end (as far as I am concerned, it has ended) the way it did?  With a whimper? With the United States dependent on other countries to propel us into space?  It's true, NASA doesn't say the space program has ended.  Not publicly, anyway.

Now, also, there is Space X.

Is there hope?  We'll have to see.

In July of 2011, I wrote this blog post, and I would like to repeat it today.

Fly Me to the Moon....

I interrupt the normal programming of this blog to bring you this special announcement.

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.

And 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.

We can ask  "so who cares?  Why is it important to keep exploring space?  (No, the answer isn't going to be to fight the space aliens traveling right now to our planet to conquer us....but who knows, maybe they are.)  No, the answer is not about being able to resist our future space overlords.  (Or...just think of this nightmarish thought - terrorists launch a satellite....)

It has a lot to do with the human spirit.  Humans are explorers.  The drive is built into us.  In every generation are born people without fear (or maybe, people without common sense).  The wider our horizons, the wider our thinking.  Our acceptance of new ideas, our flexibility, our ability to roll with change, depends on this. 

Will we lose our spirit?  If we do, our country is lost.

I fear this has already happened to our country, and we must fight it.

I rarely write serious blog posts, but this is one of them.

Be it by government, or be it by private industry, we can't give up space.

After posting this, I read an awesome post on the subject.  I am linking to it, so you can read it too.  (This blog is no longer active, but she has a different blog, also worth reading.)

What are your memories, if any, of the space program?