Monday, August 29, 2016

Music Monday - The Secret of Success

I wrote this post in August of 2014, after a visit to the New York State Fair.  Today, this performer appears again, and I hope to be able to see him.

Did you hear the crowd of screaming seniors in Syracuse yesterday?  Did you hear us in Rochester and in Buffalo, or even in Binghamton?

Peter Noone promised you would if we yelled and sang loud enough, and I have the sore throat to prove it.  So, please tell me that you did.

I don't often go to rock concerts to find the secrets of success.  But yesterday, I found it, in the person of a showman with talent.  His talent?  Loving his fans.  Making them feel loved.  Appreciating them.  Joking with them, and even mocking the fad of "selfies".  And, oh yes, there was his music.
August of 2014

And was the love ever returned.  I was there, way in the back, under the shade of a tree as Herman's Hermits played yesterday at the New York State Fair.  It was standing room only, and we stood for 75 minutes in the 84 degree heat, not caring.  Fans carried in album covers and he autographed one of them.  He, to our surprise, offered to sign autographs after the show.

He had us yelling the words of "I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am", which is a cover of a 1910 British music hall song. 

There was a king of hush all over the world, but not at the New York State Fair.

Mrs. Brown will forever have a lovely daughter.  But we've aged, and so has Peter Noone, who is now a very energetic 66 years old [which means, as you read this, he is 68].  He danced on the stage to some of his songs, even doing a brief imitation of Mick Jagger.

A couple of songs had me in tears.  When I was a preteen, how was I to know about heartbreak?  But he sang about it, and tears were in our eyes as we understood that life goes on despite our personal tragedies.

To me, the real secret of Peter Noone's success is that he does what he has been doing since 1963.  He loves doing it, and it is so obvious.  I don't think it was an act.  I think he really wanted to be there in Syracuse, yesterday, interacting with his fans, and sharing the love.

We should all be that lucky.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

They Are The Champions

A little story about sportsmanship.

A local Little League team played yesterday for the United States championship at the Little League World Series, and my entire region of upstate New York watched.  Busloads of people came to the game, and more watched on national television.
Decorated Door, Dick's Sporting Goods (which started in Binghamton)

A number of my readers are foreign, and I realize that baseball isn't necessarily the most popular sport outside of my native United States.  But please don't leave - this is not a story about baseball, but, rather, something greater than baseball.

 Little League Baseball, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission statement includes this:

"Through proper guidance and exemplary leadership, the Little League program assists children in developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being. By espousing the virtues of character, courage and loyalty, the Little League Baseball and Softball program is designed to develop superior citizens rather than superior athletes."

Which is why, when our local Maine-Endwell team won the United States championship against a team from Tennessee, we saw this on live TV:

While the opposing teams high-fived each other, the two opposing coaches embraced (the Maine-Endwell coach is in blue, the Tennessee coach in yellow). 

It was such a refreshing sight.  (I also knew that, 155 years ago, New York and Tennessee were on opposite sides of a civil war that took hundreds of thousands of lives.  The history lover part of me took note of that, too.)

When you saw the two teams play, it was hard to believe these were young people of 12 and 13 years old.  I would have been happy to pay to see that game on a minor league baseball level. Our own son had pursuits other than athletics, so we were not exposed to Little League as parents.  But I was a baseball fan growing up - as a spectator, that is.  My spouse still is a fan.

When I was growing up, girls were not permitted to participate in Little League baseball.  But that changed in 1974. 

My spouse was impressed by this young man, the Maine-Endwell pitcher. He sees much promise in this young Maine-Endwell pitcher.  Only time will tell, of course.

Here is the happy team posing after the game.

I applaud any organization that stands for ideals of good sportsmanship.  To see those ideals in action and to know your local team was one of the participants is even better.

Today, Maine-Endwell plays for the world championship.  You'd better believe many in this area will be watching that game at 3pm Eastern Daylight Time.

Did you play sports as a child?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Local Saturday - Chris Thater

The last weekend of August is one of racing from event to event here in the Binghamton, New York area.

For years we have celebrated the life of the late Chris Thater.  In 2010, I blogged:

"In 1983 a student by the name of Chris Thater, while cycling, was killed by a drunk driver near Harpursville, NY.

His friends would not let that senseless death rest.  Rather, they have turned it into one heck of a memorial.  The Chris Thater Memorial.  A two day bicycle race held in a residential neighborhood in Binghamton bordering Binghamton's Recreation Park, made somewhat famous by several episodes of the Twilight Zone.  (Rod Serling grew up nearby and spent a lot of time in that park), it celebrates "Stop DWI" and brings bicyclists from all over the world to our small city."

Alas, it is no longer held near Recreation Park, but rather, in downtown Binghamton.

It can still be an inspirational sight.  This video, created by a local video firm, uses a song I love as background music.   If you've ever wondered what the downtown where I work five days a week looks like, you need look no further than this video.

But I so miss where it used to be, in a residential neighborhood where the late, great Rod Serling grew up.  Life changes.  Events change.  But a small part of me holds out hope that, one day, the event will return to the West Side of Binghamton.

In 2012, my spouse (in a way) won the last race of the event.  Today, in honor of the event, I repeat part of my post of April, 2016:

Normally, on my blog, Saturday is devoted to "Local Saturday".  Today, I want to take you to a bicycle race that takes place in the small upstate New York city of Binghamton, New York every August.

My spouse won it one year - sort of.  But, before I tell that story, a little about the race.

It is called the Chris Thater Memorial Race.  This year it will be held August 27 and 28, once again in honor of Chris Thater, a 23 year old cyclist who was struck and killed by a drunk driver in 1983.  It's a series of races - bicycle races, a 5K run, a fun race for kids.

The event has been held for over 30 years now. It's a wonderful way to honor the memory of a young man taken from us too soon.

For the first 25 years, it was held in a beautiful West Side neighborhood near Binghamton's Recreation Park, near where Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame grew up.

The racing course was so beautiful and green (and hot).

The races were held during the day, and there was plenty of room to park, walk around and enjoy the races. For several years, there were live rock performances by local bands.  You could even get close up to the racers, as they prepared to race.  Some were amateur (I know one of them at her day job), some from this area, some were professionals from all over the world.

Here, one of the racers describes her experience in 2012, when these pictures were also taken.

We would walk along the race course, and finally take our places near the finish line for the last race, the money race with the professional racers.
And then someone would cross the finish line.

And with that, it's time for the story of how my spouse (sort of) won the 2012 Chris Thater.

Several minutes before the final race ended, one of the announcers would poll the crowd, asking who they thought would win the race.  In 2012, my husband named someone.

And he won!
What did he win?  A chance to meet the winner, here (spouse is on the right) as I stood by, thrilled.  One of his 15 minutes (well, more like five minutes) of fame.

In our house hangs his other prize - a poster, signed by the winner.

Alas, in 2014, the race was changed - moved to downtown Binghamton, the races reconfigured, a Cross Fit challenge added, the music and greenery deleted.    A new generation of race goers will treasure their own memories.

But I will always remember the year my husband, by a lucky guess, won a bicycle race.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Annual Tomato Sandwich

There is something about the third week of August that begs for a tomato sandwich.

Tomato sandwiches are a guilty pleasure.  I've been on the Weight Watchers diet (sort of) - the old "Points Plus" plan, I mean - since November of 2012.

But, some things can't be denied.

For example, brownies.  Although, nowadays I make them with coconut oil instead of butter, and I recently found that adding 3/4 cup of fresh blueberries to a brownie mix makes a heavenly brownie.

So, then there is the annual meal I make that I wait a full year for.  Tomato sandwiches.  They are so easy, and so delicious.  Here is how I make them.

The mayo should be Duke's mayonnaise, from the Carolinas.  And not that nasty fat free stuff, either.  The Real Thing.  No, I won't get kicked off dieting for this annual indulgence, but don't tell them I NEVER eat the nasty fat free kind. 

The tomatoes should be garden fresh, and August is the height of the tomato season in upstate New York.  In fact, it IS the tomato season (September tomatoes just aren't the same).  Right now, we are getting mostly grape tomatoes in our garden, for some reason but they are just as delicious as the bigger ones. 

Tomatoes are one of these fruits that I will not eat if they aren't in season.  I don't care if they are heirloom, canned or hothouse in the winter.  I will make sauce but that is about it.  The only good fresh sliced eating tomato is an August tomato.

So, anyway, back to the sandwich.  Sorry for rambling.

The bread - fresh and local is the best. 

Apply mayonnaise.  Add sliced tomatoes, warm from the sun.  Eat.

So simple.  So good.

What food do you like that is best when in season?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Gratitude

As we start to approach the fifth anniversary of a major flood event that hit where I live in September of 2011, I am grateful for all the things I have today.

I have a roof over my head, which is more than many people left homeless by flood, earthquakes, violence, and fires in the past few days can say.

When communities come together to help each other, it's an amazing (and inspiring) thing to see.   That was true where I live, and it is true elsewhere.

Today, I want to take the opportunity to give shout outs to some of the many bloggers out there who own small businesses or sell on craft sites/indie book sites.  It is hard to be self employed.  My grandfather was a small business owner. He owned a candy store in Brooklyn for years.  My father owned, with another man, a newsstand for a little while after World War II.

The entrepreneurial spirit skipped me, meanwhile, but I do have a cousin who has run his own business for many years.

From time to time, many bloggers do giveaways, and I've never taken the opportunity to truly thank these business people.  Today, I'd like to start correcting that.

Here are some business/blogs I would love to mention and thank them for enriching my life in some way (and if I left you out, I'll be happy to include you in  a future post):

Michael at Michael's Woodcraft, who made a birdhouse for my soul,

Liz at Laws of Gravity for a knitted gift card holder,

The late Average Superwoman, Sandi Tuttle, who interviewed me once, and gifted me a T-Shirt she made.  Sandi, I know I can't link to you wherever you are now, but you get a shout-out anyway.  You never able to finish what you set out to do, but you are far from forgotten.

Sasha at True Vine Gifts.

Various authors for both e books and paperback books, including Suzanna Lynn  and those I met through the blogs (including reading books they wrote) of Jo Michaels and Tia Bach, Amy at Vomiting Chicken (seeds and an usual kit), Carol Cassara.

Thank you all.

And now, I have something to ask of you, my dear readers.  Please, in the next week or two, take the opportunity to give shout outs.  Tag people who have done favors for you.  Link to other bloggers in your blog posts.  Thank someone who helps you in your everyday life.  Call a friend you haven't connected with for a while.

Maybe we can start a little mini-trend, a little ripple in the fabric of reality.  Let's see what happens to this ripple, and how far it goes.

Wouldn't that be, as they used to say, awesome?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer Ramblings - An August Garden Part II

I was 17 before I ever saw my first vegetable garden.

When you grow up in a New York City housing project, you don't have many opportunities to garden.  But a friend of mine had a grandfather who lived out in the country.  One summer, her family invited me to spend a week with them.  It was an amazing experience.

When I ate homegrown cucumbers for the first time, I couldn't believe that cucumbers had taste.

I loved fresh English peas so much, I got sick from eating too many,right off the vine. 

But, from my earliest years, I longed to grow things.  In my case, it was flowers.  One day, I should blog about my attempts to flower garden on a Bronx windowsill.

So I married a man who loves to veggie garden.

Perfect match!

Today, I want to take you on a little tour of our community garden plots.

We rent two plots in a community garden in Otsiningo Park, just to the North of Binghamton, New York.  If you ever travel north on Interstate 81, wave as you go past.  What you are about to see is about 99% his work and 1% mine.
This is what you may have seen on July 17 (the neat-looking plot behind the tall stuff is NOT our plot).
On the other hand, here's that neat plot, gardened by an Asian gentleman who has been our gardening neighbor for years.

On the right, the Interstate.

Oh, there are flowers in this garden.  Before you get beans, for example, you get flowers. 

We also grow purple beans, and this is what their flowers look like.

 This is what those purple flowers grow into.

Squash on the plant.

I've blogged from time to time about our community garden and I surprise myself that I don't write more.

But you don't have to be neat and weed free to be productive.  Here are some items taken out of our August garden.



And edible plants can be a part of your front yard, too.  Perhaps soon, I will feature a post on how we squeeze in some edibles into our front yard.

No recipes today, but here is a link to one from the past.

Alas, our growing season will be over too soon.  Even if frost is lake, our association packs up our garden the last week of October.

Then, it's good bye for another year.

What are your favorite veggies to eat?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An August Garden Part 1

You would think, with a Twitter handle of RamblinGarden, that I would write about my spouse's community garden plot all the time.

You would be wrong.  He's a veggie person. I'm a flower person.

But, you can look at a vegetable garden from the point of view of a flower lover, right?

Right.  Especially when the sunflowers are blooming.

In our community garden plot just to the north of Binghamton, New York, our sunflowers have reseeded themselves for years.  The hot weather has produced a bumper crop.  We let the birds get the seeds, and we enjoy them as cut flowers.  The bees enjoy them as on-site flowers.

But our garden doesn't have just sunflowers.  It has zucchini, and the flowers are beautiful, too.  My spouse grew up, Italian style, eating zucchini flowers, covered in batter and fried.  He rarely makes them, though.

Zinnias.  This is my favorite - believe it or not, this is the real color of one of the flowers.  I wonder how this happened.

Here is a zinnia flower opening.
And one, past its prime, but still attracting a bee.

But there are the veggies, and I promise to write about them soon.  My spouse (not to brag) is an excellent cook, which is a good thing.  If he depended on me...well, that's why he cooks.  And he works so hard in that garden, to bring us fresh produce.

If you garden, which do you like to grow better - flowers, or veggies?