Sunday, November 19, 2017

Some Thanksgiving History

Thanksgiving 2017 in the United States will be November 23.

Did you know that the American celebration of Thanksgiving is intertwined with our Civil War?

United States Civil War country - looks so peaceful now
With increased interest in the Civil War due to the controversies (sometimes descending into violence) over Confederate monuments, it is well to return to our roots for a moment.

This is Abraham Lincoln's October, 1864 Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving, 1864.

Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America, made a declaration of Thanksgiving in 1865.  He had issued earlier ones, mentioning specific battles.  This was a more general Thanksgiving proclaimation.  Ironically, the date he set turned out to be less than a month before the fall of Richmond, Virginia (the Confederate capital) to Federal troops.

Back in 2011, I wondered how the first Civil War Thanksgiving (1861, our first year at war with each other) was celebrated by the troops on both sides.

In1861 there was no national Thanksgiving.  Every state set its own date.

Thanks to another blogger, we have a good description of how Thanksgiving was celebrated by the troops in 1861.  Some of the foods are those we would gobble (pun intended) down today.

The troops had a lot to be thankful about.  Similar to the Thanksgiving dinner our troops get today (if at all possible, according to location) the troops on the designated Thanksgiving Day for their locality got special rations, and the chance to eat "real food":  turkey, potatoes, and even oysters.

And, for those of us from New York, a description of the Soldier's and Sailor's Thanksgiving.  The military still continues this tradition with troops serving away from home today. (And, on Tuesday, I will blog about our first Thanksgiving with my spouse serving in the military).

So, if you celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday - give thanks, and ponder the history of this holiday.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today, I left a career that I had been in for 20 years, with 10 of the last 20 years spent at the same employer.

A job I had liked at one time had fallen apart, so much so that, over a nine month period. almost everyone in the small office I worked in (around 13 people to start) had quit.  I was one of the last ones to go.  I had clung to that job for dear life.

The next four months changed my life.

My last day of work was on a Tuesday.  The next day, a Wednesday, I waited with my elementary school son at the bus stop for the very first time, and watched him get on the bus.

Over the next four months, before I got another job, what did I do?

Two former co workers and I spent one day a week (when her condition permitted) with a friend and former co worker who was terminally ill with cancer.  It was a humbling experience.  Sadly, she passed away three months after I left that job.

I volunteered at the elementary school my son attended once or twice a week.  I spent much of my volunteer time in the school library.  I had thought strongly about becoming a librarian when I was younger, and it was a pleasure to be there.

I was able to shop in stores when they were empty.

I exercised at the YMCA.

I spent time with my son as he had four months with a stay at home Mom.

And, most of all, I spent time with an incredible book called "What Color is Your Parachute".  I had first discovered this book after losing my first job after graduating college.  That job had barely lasted a year when I found myself laid off.  That was back in 1975, and I turned to that book a couple of other times in my life.  This time, I was serious about the exercises the book teaches you to "find yourself".  For the first time, I realized what really brought joy to my life.

I was eventually fortunate enough to find another job, one that used that favorite interest, one that was so obvious that I had never realized it.  I am still in that career field today, as I approach my 65th birthday.

So, recently, I was saddened when I discovered the author, Richard Nelson Bolles, who updated the book every year since it was originally published, had died this past March at the age of 90.

Can you imagine doing something you love until you are 90?  I am in awe of this man, as I start to think about how I will spend the next portion of my life.

Maybe one day, I'll write a book that changes the lives of millions of people.  As we used to say many years ago, "wouldn't that be cool?"
The road of life, courtesy of my "guest photographer"

Maybe tonight, I'll spend some time dreaming of the next chapter of my life, just as I did 20 years ago.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mid November Sky #SkywatchFriday

Mid-November, where I live in upstate New York, is a time when skies tend to be dark and gloomy.

But sometimes, the sun sometimes manages to peak out.  Yesterday, it did just that, soon after sunrise.
Minutes later, the sky colored up.
Meanwhile, the day before, birds gathered on a wire, against one of our more typical gloomy skies.

Join Yogi and other bloggers from all over the world for #SkywatchFriday, where you can see pictures of the sky from all over the world.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Talking Turkey with the Talk-Line

First, I have to make one thing clear.  It's not the Butterball Hotline, which I thought it was until yesterday.  It's Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line, and it has been giving turkey cooking advice to people in the United States since 1981.
Our 2015 turkey
Why would Americans need to talk turkey? Because on Thanksgiving, it is traditional to cook a turkey, and - well, there are so many ways to prepare turkeys.

I've wanted to call the Hot..I mean, the Turkey Talk-Line for years, but my spouse, the family cook, has never needed turkey advice.

Comedian Stephen Colbert has made it a Thanksgiving tradition to call the Turkey Talk-Line with prank questions for years.  But here, he turns the tables and take a phone call.

By the way, don't take his advice.

Tuesday, someone I know was concerned because she had purchased a 28 pound (12.7 kg) frozen turkey for Thanksgiving (November 23 this year, in the United States) and had tried online research to figure out how long to cook it.  She had never cooked that big a turkey before.

Why don't we call Butterball? I asked.  "OK, but you start the conversation" was her response.  And so I dialed 1-800-BUTTERBALL.  The phone was answered quickly by a woman.

Upon hearing of the 28 pound turkey, the woman exclaimed, "oh, you will have such a beautiful turkey when it is cooked.  It will be golden brown; it will look like something in a Norman Rockwell painting!  It will look wonderful on your table."  Obviously, she sensed our hesitation.  But she was totally prepared with advice.

She took us through the process.  "You need to take the turkey now, today, and put it in your refrigerator.  It will take that long to safely defrost." Then she explained how to pat the turkey dry, take out the giblets (these turkeys are prepped and almost ready to go).  She gave us the oven temperature (325 degrees F), the fact that after a couple of hours we were to tent the turkey with aluminum foil, and the total approximate coking time (4 1/2 hours) for the unstuffed turkey.  And, she recommended we use a meat thermometer and what temperature the breast, or the leg, should be before you consider the bird "done".

She talked with us as if she had all the time in the world (maybe, a week away from Turkey Day, she did have a lot of time. But, on Turkey Day, her and her co workers will field about 10,000 phone calls). And again, she told us how beautiful that turkey was going to look on the table. After our questions were answered, she asked for only one thing - what was our zip code (postal code)?

We answered, and she said "Binghamton, New York.  Oh, I grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania!" (that's about an hour south of us).  She closed by asking if we had any more questions (we didn't).

And so ended our conversation with the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.

It did make me wonder who works for the Talk-Line, and if they enjoy talking turkey all day long.
So, an article about their experiences is quite fascinating, too, especially, when you get to the part about the 89 year old man cooking his first turkey.  It sounds like such a fun place to work, if you are a people person.

Have you ever used the Turkey Talk-Line?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - November 2017

This Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for November may well be the most amazing one in my years of participating in this every 15th of the month meme.

In my upstate New York zone 5b garden, our first frost came only a week ago.

Now, I don't have too much left outside.  Right after the first frost came the first snow and the first freeze and the first temperatures dipping down to the teens.  These flowers, such as this pansy, are all in hanging baskets I took in during the worst of the weather.  And now, the shorter days and my work schedule forced me to take pictures in the dark.
A geranium that was a Mother's Day gift from my son.

And, inside, my house, several of my Thanksgiving cacti are blooming.  I just couldn't get this picture right.
Here's a picture my "guest photographer" took of the snow squall on Thursday.
And, on October 28, I took this farewell photo of some of my outdoor begonias.

Thank you, Carol at May Dreams Gardens, for hosting this monthly meme.

Want to see what is blooming all over the world?  Visit the May Dreams Gardens blog and click on the various participants.

What is blooming in your part of the world?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mr. Softee #FlavoursomeTuesdays

A summer evening in Brooklyn.  I am visiting a childhood friend.  We've known each other for 50 years.  You can't get more nostalgic than that.

A familiar bell rings in the distance.
It's the Mr. Softee truck!

Mr. Softee was one of the staples of growing up in New York City, along with the Good Humor man.   But I hadn't had a Mr. Softee in - oh, 50 years?

I didn't even know they existed any more.

I had to have a Mr. Softee.  My friend's husband bought me my favorite, a soft vanilla cone. No sprinkles, no gunk, just pure vanilla pleasure.

I need to explain that Mr. Softee is a brand of something we call soft ice cream, or, sometimes, "custard".  I'm not sure how popular it is outside the United States, but, even today, it is popular where I live in upstate New York.  The soft ice cream is normally eaten on a cone, sometimes with sprinkles, or fudge topping (which freezes into a hard shell).  The favorite flavors are vanilla and chocolate, but, more recently, exotic flavors have joined the ranks.  And, for those lactose intolerant (as one of my childhood friends is), there are even milk-free varieties.

In the summertime (and this is still true today) ice cream trucks cruise residential neighborhoods, bells ringing, and stop every couple of blocks so the neighborhood children, clutching their money, can buy some spur-of-the-moment ice cream.

What happens when you try to relive your childhood memories?  Memories of food - taste, texture, and events surrounding the food are some of my strongest childhood memories.

So, I decided to go on You Tube, and, to my delight, I found I wasn't the only one who remembered Mr. Softee.  But, good news - they still exist.

This video shows the soft ice cream being served, and shows a vintage ice cream tune music box.

Sometimes, though, other things happens when you try to relive your childhood.  Like when I ate that ice cream cone above.

I had already eaten dinner, and I ended up with a stomach ache.

Why am I reliving childhood food memories?

Several weeks ago, I was invited by an Indian blogger, who goes by the name of Bellybytes, to participate in a weekly meme called "FlavoursomeTuesdays".  I promised her I would participate, and then life happened - more than once.

But I am finally posting today, and keeping the English spelling of (what we spell as "flavorsome") flavoursome, to keep the flavor.  So, if you have a food memory to share, why don't you participate, along with Bellybytes and Shilpa and me on #FlavoursomeTuesdays with "your droolworthy memories of food."

Tomorrow - Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Monday, November 13, 2017

Music Moves Me - One Hit Wonders of High School

Today, on Music Moves Me, the every Monday music blog hop I participate in, the theme is "one hit wonders of when you were in high school."

I am fascinated by one hit wonders. You sometimes just have to wonder - why didn't they make it with additional hits?  The songs can be so promising.

For me, my high school years were 1967-1970 (my high school started in 9th grade). 

1967 brought us a novelty song by "Whistling Jack Smith" called "I was Kaiser Bill's Batman".  The real name of Whistling Jack Smith was John O'Neill, and, sadly, he passed away in 1999.

1968 was so hard because there were so many wonderful one-hit wonders that year. I will not subject you to MacArthur Park by Richard Harris, as much as I would like to because I know so many people detest that (I'm a bit partial to the Donna Summer cover myself).  Instead, I feature a great talent, Mason Williams, whose hit of 1968, Classical Gas, nearly made my instrumental post of last week.

For 1969, I picked a favorite of my spouse's - Hot Smoke and Sassafras by the Bubble Puppy.  I rocked so hard to this song, I almost bounced the laptop right off my lap.

Finally, for 1970, I picked a song that technically I should not have picked, because it was a hit after I graduated high school in 1970, but I love this song so much, I made an exception.  Miguel Rios sings "A Song of Joy". (Note, some images at the beginning may be disturbing).  This song was more popular in Europe than in the United States, where it peaked at #14.

What one hit wonders of your high school years are your favorites?

Join this #MusicMovesMe blog hop every Monday - here are the people responsible for it:
X mas Dolly is the Conductor of this trip, and the other Conductors are her fellow bloggers Callie of JAmerican Spice, ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  and Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.