Sunday, September 23, 2018

Butterflies as Omens?

This has been a strange summer.  I will see butterflies in the summer, but have never had much success in photographing them.  This year, I can almost swear they are following me around.

Today, yet again, a monarch butterfly fluttered by towards the end of the exercise walk my spouse and were taking.  In the other direction, a woman and a young girl paused, but then walked on. 

I stopped, feeling the butterfly would land near me.  It's been that kind of year.

I was right.  It landed by the side of the path.

I inched closer.  iPhones don't zoom well (at least the older ones don't) but I decided to do a zoom.  I bent down, although my back immediately went on Red Alert.

And then I patiently waited for it to spread its wings again,

and was rewarded.

I know that some consider butterflies as omens.  Some believe butterflies are an omen of change (not always good change) and some believe orange butterflies, in particular, signify a change or an opportunity to come.  Others believe loved deceased ones use butterflies as a tool to communicate with us. 

My mother in law's health has been declining all summer, and I don't know if this and the butterfly visits are at all coincidence.  I'm not spooked, just a bit intrigued.

So...coincidence?  Or not?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

First Day of Fall 2018

The first day of fall in the Binghamton area of upstate New York turned out to the the opposite of what the summer has been - cool (estimated low for tonight 42 degrees) and breezy.  And we have another break in the rain.

In the stores, everything is pumpkin spice.  Cookies, cereals, spreads, yogurt, you name it.

The crickets are chirping slower and slower.

The trees in downtown Binghamton are starting to turn, although this may be stress from all the rain.

In my yard the signs of fall are all there.
Some years ago, a nursery in Ithaca, NY gave us an aster plant and it is in full bloom.

Sedum colors up in my front yard.
The mums  are budding.  They were gifts to my mother in law in May, who was in a long term care facility (she has been hospitalized for nearly a week now - I'll provide an update in a few days).  We planted them when their blooms faded, just to see what would happen.  I doubt they will survive the winter, though (these types of mums don't tend to be hardy in our climate.)
And in our community garden, zinnias are about the only thing remaining.

Fall is a time of changes - and a time to be retrospective, as the first cold winds blow, and as I watch my mother in law in what will probably be her last few months of life.

But it's a part of the life we all cherish, while we are able to enjoy it.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Last Week of Summer Skies - #SkywatchFriday

By the time the first clouds from what remained of Hurricane Florence started passing over the part of upstate New York where I live, it was no longer a hurricane.  But it was still a threat (although, of course, not anywhere near what the southeastern United States experienced).

The first of the clouds were beautiful, though.  I was at a free outdoor concert Sunday put on at the edge of downtown Binghamton, New York called Blues on the Bridge.  It had been a clear, very warm day but that was about to end.
As the golden hour progressed, the hills glowed, almost like fall foliage.

As the sun started to set, I was more interested in the sky than the music, and my spouse and I left the concert to go home.

As my spouse drove west, I kept clicking.
And finally the sunset erupted in fire.

This time, the red sky at night did not result in a sailor's delight.

My heart goes out to those affected by the full strength Florence.

This, and most every Friday, I join Yogi and other bloggers who watch the sky at #SkywatchFriday

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Joining of Two Rivers

Years ago, when I lived in Wichita, Kansas, there was a belief held by some that our city would never be hit by a tornado because being located at the confluence of two rivers protected us from those dreaded events.

I don't know if that's true, but I've lived near a city with another confluence for many years now.

Confluence Park is a park on the edge of downtown Binghamton, New York where the Chenango River meets up with the mighty Susquehanna.

This is the historic Washington Street bridge, which is now a pedestrian-only bridge, spanning downtown and the South side of Binghamton.

Confluence Park sign (sorry, not too readable)


Zinnias (same zinnias where I took the monarch butterfly pictures in Tuesday's post.)

There is something else about rivers. They flood.  We've had a lot of rain this summer, and we can only hope we don't get much more. So far we have had a couple of flooding events, all flash flooding, but if the Susquehanna and Chenango flood, we are in trouble.

Speaking of weather - come back tomorrow, for some amazing sky pictures.

Finally, thank you to those who read my post yesterday, and for commenting.  Thank you for continuing to think of my mother in law.  This morning, she continues in the hospital.  Doctors did a procedure yesterday to help drain her left lung and got a lot of the fluid out.  She didn't have enough stamina to be able to complete the procedure.  This is not a procedure that can be repeated too many times, and it would be less and less successful each time as scar tissue would start to build, however.

So that particular journey continues.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

I Ask, Why?

Yom Kipur began at sundown last night.  As someone who is Jewish by ethnic heritage but not that religious, I still hold this holiday in awe.  I no longer fast, and I do not attend religious services, but I stay off the Internet and social media and keep a low profile.   So, this post is being written before sundown on Tuesday.

Let me explain about the last 24 hours.

My mother in law is 90.  She's a three time cancer survivor and has been a widow for almost 20 years.  She raised four good children. I'm married to the oldest.  One is developmentally disabled, and she did the best she could in a time when such children, many times were institutionalized.

It has not been a good age 90 for her, as a mix of dementia and medical issues have created the need for her to have 24 hour care. The family finally had to make the decision to put her into a skilled nursing facility.  This decision was gut-wrenching.  Since April, she has been hospitalized...oh, let's see, five times for pneumonia. I'm actually starting to lose track.

So, at 10:45 last (Monday) night, the phone rang. It was the facility she lives in. Upshot was, my mother in law was on the way to her next pneumonia hospitalization.  It was not unexpected.

Making a long story short, we weren't able to see her in the emergency room (ER) until almost midnight.  The drive, thankfully, was short, but it was through the remnants of what was once Hurricane Florence.  The rain was coming down in torrents.  Water was collecting on the sidewalk as we sloshed to the ER entrance.  This hospital turned out to be full - nay, past full, with ER patients everywhere.  But my mother in law had gotten a room.

My mother in law was scared.  She was asking for her autistic son. (In case you wonder, he now lives in what is called a supportive apartment.  But part of the autistic package is anxiety, and he knows his Mom is heading towards the finish line. And she forgets he no longer lives with her.).  She kept trying to talk. With a mask over her head (to help her breathe), it really wasn't possible.   She begged for water, something she could not have under the circumstances.

Every time I see my mother in law, I see a once vital woman.  When she is feeling good she laughs, remembers the past (the present is usually a bit beyond her), tells the same stories six times.  She has a hearty appetite - eats more than a lot of the residents. When she is not feeling good...well, those moments are more and more frequent.  We see her suffer, again and again, especially during these hospitalizations.

I can truly tell you that, as much as my sister in law and I have had our "moments" with her, there are many who love her.  And if you don't love her (and I do), you have to admire her.

They finally found a room for her and she is hospitalized.   I pray she gets better, but then it's back to the facility.  Rinse and repeat.  In six weeks, will she be back in the hospital?

Was this what old age was supposed to be?  Is all this part of our Creator's plan, to have her suffer so much?  Was it? (I'm not asking for an answer.  I suspect I won't get one in this life.)

I never was a deep thinker but I ponder this more and more, especially now, on Yom Kipur eve.

But wait, there's more.

When we started the drive home, bleery from lack of sleep, there was even more water.  We were fortunate - we are safe and didn't have to travel through any flooded roads.  But flash flooding has hit various places in our area - no, nothing like North Carolina, but extensive.  Right now, my son's town is under a state of emergency.  At least one local business, flooded at the beginning of their busy season, has to make the decision on whether to come back or not.  It's their second flood. They make the best holiday cookies ever.  It's a family business.

I can be grateful I wasn't flooded - this time.

A lot of things to ponder tonight and tomorrow.

And I, like many before me, ask....why?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Monarch at the Blues

On Sunday, I attended an annual free outdoor concert held on the edge of downtown Binghamton, New York called Blues on the Bridge.  We usually attend for two or three hours.  Local bands play approximate 30 minute sets, from 12pm, ending around 9pm. 

During a break I decided to stretch, and walked over to a large bed of zinnias in what we call Confluence Park, where the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers come together.

Another photographer had the same idea.  Posed with her phone, I followed where her camera was pointed.

A monarch butterfly was sitting on a zinnia.

It flitted around the flower.
I didn't want to scare it away.
It went to another flower.  And then it flitted away.

So, I guess butterflies like blues/rock concerts, too.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Don't Leave Me Driftwood #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and I welcome you to #MusicMovesMe.

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? Every other week we have a theme, and on alternate weeks, we can blog about any music we wish.  We are headed by our head Engineer XmasDolly, who is still recovering from surgery.  Her co-conductors are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice, (who is also recovering from surgery) and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   Also, co-conducting  is  Cathy from Curious as a Cathy (currently filling in as the temporary head Engineer )   And, (last but not least), there's me.
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If you do have music to share, you are welcome to link up with us. We'd love to hear from you!  

But, the times being what they are, I must also add a disclaimer: We really want to boogie with you, but we do work hard to bring you music - please keep in mind that this is a blog hop and open to music posts ONLY!

Today, our guest Conductor Cathy from Curious as a Cathy has declared a Free Day- we can blog about whatever we want. 

Today I was inspired by, of all things, driftwood.

We recently visited Presque Isle, a Pennsylvania state park along the shores of Lake Erie near Erie, Pennsylvania,.  It's a popular vacation spot, but after Labor Day, the vacationer population decreases dramatically.  In some places, you have the park almost to yourself.

As I listened to Lake Erie (which is so massive you think you are hearing the ocean) and walked on one of the nearly deserted beaches, I saw driftwood and took this picture.

All I could think about was this song:  Driftwood, by the Moody Blues, from 1978.

And, after I came home, this song: Sailing, by Christopher Cross. 

Finally, although not quite about the ocean, here Mike and the Mechanics perform their beautiful "The Living Years".  This is the third anniversary of the entry of a dear friend into Heaven.  May she forever RIP.

By the way, I thought I spied David Ogden Stiers in one of the choruses used in this video - I really wonder if it was him.  I'm sure one of my fellow music bloggers will know!

Hope to see you again next week!