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Friday, November 30, 2018

Thanksgiving - #SkywatchFriday

Today, a look back at the skies of Thanksgiving and the day after.


I've fallen in love with this view from the parking lot of the skilled nursing facility my mother in law lived in before her death.  Thanksgiving was cold but, due to that, the sky was nice and blue.
Sundown Thursday.
Black Friday dawned (that "zero" is -17.8 Celsius, by the way).

And, as the sun rose, the moon (the white blob to the left of the streetlight) set.

Seconds later, it had almost totally disappeared.

And, by the Sunday after Thanksgiving, it had warmed up and the clouds were back.

Join Yogi and the other bloggers who watch the sky each Friday on #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Reblooming Kalanchoe

In June of 2012, I wrote the below post during an "Author Blog Challenge". Since then, the neighbor who gave me this Kalanchoe has passed on to where we all, eventually, will end up.  But, the kalanchoe is still alive.  And, in fact, several others have joined it.

For the next few days, I will be rerunning some favorite posts from my blog.

In a Reblooming Kalanchoe Is There Hope?

"What is the single best piece of advice you've ever received about the publishing process and/or what advice would you offer to a first-time author?"

That single piece of advice I learned from this challenge was "never give up hope."

Hope of what?  Hope of achieving your goals.  Sometimes, just not giving up hope of survival.  I knew, before the Challenge, that becoming a published author was hard.  Now I have a better idea of just how hard and grueling it can be.  In the midst of the struggle, a beginning author must believe in him or herself, and never give up hope that it will get better, that the goals will be achieved, that the hard work will pay off.

And then there is the story of the kalanchoe.

I had a neighbor who is seriously ill with cancer.  Sometimes, he sits outside in the sunshine, enjoying the small garden he and his wife have planted next to their rental house.

Some months ago, before he was diagnosed with this illness, he was in the hospital for another reason. Someone gave him a kalanchoe as a get-well gift.  A kalanchoe, for the uninitiated, is a succulent plant with small blooms, which come in a variety of colors.  They can be quite pretty. 

Ah, those hospital gift plants.  You get them from people who know that flowers may not be the ideal gift.  Flowers die after a few days, and if your recipient is allergic, those flowers are the gift that brings misery.  Now, a flowering plant, that's slightly different.  There's a hope of keeping the plant alive after it finishes blooming.  A foliage plant?  Even better.

My neighbor, after a period of enjoying the kalanchoe, offered it to me.  I hesitated for a minute before accepting the plant.  I take flowering plants seriously.  I have two poinsettias in my upstate NY yard right now, along with two amaryllis.   Any flowering plant I receive will get the best care I know how to give.  I can't bear to have one die on me, although I have blogged about my less than stellar track record with orchids.

I hesitated because a few years ago, I got a kalanchoe as a gift.  I kept it alive on my windowsill for a couple of years.  It never rebloomed and eventually it succumbed to white flies. 

I kept my neighbor's gift alive all winter on my living room table.  Come late spring, it went outside, where I figured it would have a better chance of escaping white flies.

One night, I went out to water my back yard potted plants, and this sight awaited me.
Could it be?
Yes, it could.

My neighbor's kalanchoe was starting to rebloom.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Throwback Wednesday - The Kindness of Others

What follows is a post from 2011. My mother in law was 83 years old when this event happened. And today, we will spend time with my mother in law's family, including some of these same people, mourning her passing but also celebrating her life.

Now that my mother in law is no longer with us a lot of memories have come up.  This is a good one.


As background to this story, my mother in law had a dizzy spell in her house and fell.  She sprained her ankle and bruised herself up badly.  The recovery was going to take a while.  Back then, we lived 150 miles from her.


What happened next?  Panic time. Mom was going to have limited mobility and a long recovery time.  We'd have to cook for her, help clean for her, take care of shopping and transportation needs - from 150 miles away.

 But then, to the rescue...and here is the post from 2011:

There were several sets of guardian angels in my mother in law's life, and yesterday we all converged on my mother in law's house for a BBQ we had promised as a thank you.

Two sets of nieces and nephews, and a single niece, sprung into action to help my mother in law out.  These weren't local people either.  They lived closer than we do, but they still had to drive a bit.  One of the duos sometimes came out more than once a week.  They all had experience with caregiving for their elderly parents (in all cases, since deceased).  They did many things, too many things to mention, to help her recovery and make her everyday life easier.  I learned a lot from the experience.  I know we are going to have many more adventures in our care giving journey.  I know this is only the beginning. 

All of these relatives, and you know who you are, thank you.  You will always have a special place in my heart.

One of the nieces, during this whole process, gave me almost nightly updates on Facebook.  We kept in touch with my mother in law, of course, and visited when we could, and other siblings helped out also.  But we both work, and anyone who has done long distance caregiving knows how difficult it can be.  I know it is only going to get worse.  We've been lucky so far.

In our case, the fact that my mother in law lives with her developmentally disabled son just added to the complications.  That's worth a blog post all by itself.

Thankfully, my mother in law is a lot better now. But time marches on and she is very frustrated at what the aging process has done to her.

Today, the weather cooperated.  My spouse (the family cook) grilled hamburgers, white hots (a type of bockwurst popular in our part of upstate NY), pork tenderloin spiedies (spiedies are another specialty food of our area), and grilled vegetables.  Everyone else brought a covered dish or a dessert.  Two people brought their I-Pads and owning one is very tantalizing.  One of the men brought a remote control helicopter, called a Parrot, which is controlled through an I-Pad.  If I'm up to it, I'll post some pictures of the adventures of the Parrot later this week.

One of the couples brought their daughter. What a smart, well poised cousin my husband has.  This is a young woman who is going to go places.  She pitched right in and did more than her share of the cleanup.

After dinner, my mother in law brought her wedding photo album out for some family memories.

There was a lot of sadness in watching my mother in law age.  She's always been a hard worker, and it is so hard for her to sit down and let other people do the work. She kept herself in shape when younger, but time takes its toll on everyone.  A stroke several years ago didn't help her, either.

And now, in 2018, she's gone, and today, we pay tribute to her.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Polio and the President

Polio.
With a paralytic disease called AFM striking some children in the past several years, I wanted to blog a little about a scourge of my early childhood that, hopefully, will never reappear in our lifetimes.

I visited Warm Springs, Georgia in March of 2010 and saw the Little White House where Roosevelt died, the unfinished portrait that still sits in the house, and the pools where Roosevelt had found relief from his polio.  

Yes, Roosevelt was a disabled man in a time were disabled people were disrespected and discriminated against - so much so that Roosevelt had to hide the fact that he depended on a wheelchair for mobility.

Otherwise, people might have thought he was unfit for office.

That would be totally inconceivable today - but those were very different times.  Still, Franklin Roosevelt, who contracted polio at the age of 39,  had a large role in making disability acceptable, and gave hope to a lot of people with polio.  Ever hear of the March of Dimes?  It started as a movement to find a cure for polio

At the time of his death, polio was a feared scourge.  I can vaguely remember the panic that was felt during the summer - the peak time for polio. Parents would even keep their children away from public swimming pools, as it was believed that pools were one place you could "catch" polio.  As children, we believed that being near a storm drain could give you polio.

Some children became so paralyzed that they could no longer breathe on their own.  My generation remembers a device called an iron lung.

But then everything changed.

A charity called The March of Dimes was founded by Franklin Roosevelt in 1938..  Roosevelt had a simple idea- asking Americans to send in a dime, just one dime, to fight polio.  The "march" of dimes helped to finance research, so that the Salk and Sabin vaccines could be developed.   In honor of Roosevelt's fund raising, his face appears on the dime and has appeared for many years.

Ironically, Roosevelt's polio may have been misdiagnosed - but many people alive today can be grateful for that misdiagnosis.

I may have been one of those young children in those old black and white photos lining up in schools for their polio shot.  I even vaguely remember being in one of those lineups.

I was a member of the first generation in human history that did not have to fear polio.   And to my son, polio is just a historical curiosity - although one of his older cousins married a woman who had polio as a child, and has a noticeable limp to show for it.

And yes, there is still a Roosevelt Institute for Rehabilitation in Warm Springs.

If you need a story on how one person can change history, and enrich the lives of millions, you need look no further than this story.

And we all hope a cure is found for AFM soon before more children are stricken.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Music Monday - Blue Christmas

Normally, on Mondays, I join a blog hop called "Music Monday".  This Monday, I am not going to join in because I won't be in a position to visit my fellow music lovers. 

However, I believe 100% in the healing powers of music, so I hope you will join me for a few moments of music that may help through hard times.

I guess by now I should be an expert on this kind of thing.  Twenty years ago, my father in law passed away the day after Christmas.  This year, my mother in law passed away the day after Thanksgiving.

I know that some (maybe many) of my readers have suffered loss during the holiday season.  It doesn't have to be death - there are so many kinds of losses and disappointments out there.  None of us pass through this world unscathed.  And it is hard, for those of us who have suffered loss, to go through a season where you are supposed to be merry and bright, but you see the world through sad-tinted eyes.

In the song Blue Christmas, Elvis sings about a Christmas without the one he loves.  I chose a live version with Martina McBride for this version.

I'll be back to Music Moves Me next Monday, hopefully.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Washington Roebling and His Lessor Known Bridge

I published this post several years ago, and thought it would be an interesting throwback post for my readers.

What do Brooklyn, Brunswick, Maine, Cincinnati, Ohio, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and our United States Civil War have in common?

The answer is, the Roebling family, a family responsible for some of the most historic bridges in this country.  One of their members, a civil engineer by the name of Washington Roebling, served in the United States Civil War.


Chances are, you may well have traveled over at least one bridge designed by the firm of  John A. Roebling's Sons.  These bridges include the Brooklyn Bridge )photo below), the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge (connecting Cincinnati, OH and Covington, KY) and the bridge above, the Brunswick Topsham Swinging Bridge over the Androscroggin River in Maine (photo above).
Brooklyn Bridge, September 2015, taken from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

I have walked across both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Brunswick Topsham Swinging Bridge.  You couldn't ask for two totally different experiences.  The Brooklyn Bridge is traveled by thousands of people daily - by car, by foot, and by bicycle.  The scenery is breathtakingly urban, dominated by skyscrapers on both sides of the East River.  At the time the bridge was built, Brooklyn was a city separate from New York City.  (In some ways it still is-for example, still having its own library system.)

The bridge between Brunswick, Maine (a college town rich in history) and Topsham is a pedestrian only bridge.  Brunswick has many connections to the Civil War, among them the fact that the book Uncle Tom's Cabin was written there and that General Joshua Chamberlain of Gettysburg fame (later the governor of Maine) also lived there for a time.

Washington Roebling served in various capacities as an engineer in the Civil War, including at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Stricken by the bends due to an accident during the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, he spent the last 40 plus years of his life as a physical invalid with a very active mind. Despite his disability, he outlived many people in his family and even ran the family business for a time when in his 80's.

If you've seen the Smithsonian rock and mineral collection at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, you can thank Washington Roebling for the beginnings of that collection.

When you think of engineers and the bridges that link our lives....think of the Roeblings.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Mother

I have a story for today and I don't quite know what to make of it.

My 90 year old mother in law, whom I've blogged about from time to time in the almost ten year history of this blog, passed away yesterday.

Before we got the call, we had decided to treat ourselves to a "Black Friday" breakfast out, something we used to do a lot but stopped doing except for special occasions. 

This is where we decided to go yesterday.

The "Greek House" (which serves a lot more than Greek food) has been owned by an Egyptian everyone calls Sam for the past 25 years.  It has been through two floods, the second of which closed it for a couple of months. Meantime, a large manufacturer across the street's building was ruined by that flood and had to move four miles or so down the road.  But the Greek House survived.

One day recently, a sign appeared in their window.

It's hard to see above, but it reads "Thank You to our loyal customers who have kept us in business for 25 years, and thanks to our loyal staff. We couldn't have made it without you.  Sam."

Now, when we have eaten here, the plates the food was served on were normal restaurant plates.

Not yesterday morning around 7:15 AM.  In fact, the normally fast service wasn't there.  We waited and waited.

When our food was served, each of our plates was decorated on the rim, in big bold script, with the word MOTHER.

In faint lettering, there were various traits of the ideal mother listed.  Loving.  Patient. Kind.  Compassionate.  And so forth.

MOTHER....

It was so strange that I almost took a picture of the plate and my food, but decided not to.  Now I wish I had. Maybe you don't believe me but this is 100% true.

We finished our breakfast and went home.

And, not five minutes after entering our house, we got the phone call from the nursing home.


I'm still wondering: 

How did Sam know?

Friday, November 23, 2018

Winter Comes #SkywatchFriday

Today is Black Friday in the United States.  I should be out shopping but it's a bit cold outside.

But I turn my eyes to the sky and join Yogi and other bloggers in #SkywatchFriday.

Today, I contrast two days.  The day before our first snowstorm, downtown Binghamton, New York seems so tranquil back on November 14.

On November 15th, with the snowfall less than an hour away, the sky turns white.  Remember my birds on the wires from last week?  They are still at it, visible as tiny specs in the middle of the picture, ready to alight on the utility wires.


November 16, as my spouse drives me to work. (Thank you, spouse!)
Deceptively blue sky.

What downtown Binghamton looked like on the morning of November 15.

Winter has come. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Fall Meets Winter #ThursdayTreeLove

In this photo taken 11-14-18, fall meets winter in downtown Binghamton, New York.
Broome County Courthouse, Binghamton, New York
The day before the first snowstorm of the season hit, snow flurries whitened some of the ground, but fall foliage was still visible.

Now, the leaves are gone and the ground is covered in the white stuff.

Nothing is forever, our four season climate teaches us.  Today is going to be the coldest Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November, in the United States) in 100 years.

As part of our Thanksgiving, it is traditional to eat a bird called the turkey.  These turkeys are common wild birds where we live, although they aren't quite as good eating as domestic ones.
Not in winter - Wild Turkey
But it can be a thrill to see one.  This picture was taken by my guest photographer several years ago in the Northeastern United States.  Majestic, aren't they?

To all my readers in the United States, may you have a happy Thanksgiving.

Join Parul at Happiness and Food and other bloggers the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at #ThursdayTreeLove. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Friendsgiving Pie 1976 Style

A while back, in 2015, I shared the below memory with you of my young adulthood, when my spouse was in the Air Force, and we were spending our first military Thanksgiving, together with other people serving, away from home.  At that time, I couldn't find the recipe for my Memory Pie, which is a soybean pie (no, really, please keep reading) that tastes like a pumpkin pie.

But, thanks to a decluttering project, I found the recipe.  This was my second copy of the cookbook - I had worn the first one to shreds.

So what happened when I found the recipe?

I offered to make it, but my spouse took one look at the recipe, and said "no". When we went to our local supermarket, I couldn't even find dried soybeans.  So I am not going to bake a pie for you.

I will leave you, instead, with a link to the recipe, which is available online.

But I will not leave you with the pie.  Just a memory of what we called "having friends over since we were thousands of miles from home."  In modern times, it may have been called a Friendsgiving.

It was the mid 1970's and we were over a thousand miles from home.  It was my spouse's first Thanksgiving in the military.  He was undergoing technical training in Texas.  And he had friends in his class, all of whom were far away from home, too.

For the most part we were in our late teens or early 20's, but among us was a slightly older man.  Sgt W. was from Iowa and he was a soybean farmer.  As I recall, he had joined the National Guard and was training with my spouse's Air Force class.

Sgt W. had never eaten a soybean.  He had never sampled the crop he grew.

In the mid 1970's, soybeans weren't common the way they are today.  But I had become an on and off vegetarian in college, and I had fallen in love with a couple of books - Diet for a Small Planet and Recipes for a Small Planet.  As I wasn't working at the time, and my spouse was making the tiny salary of an airman, money was tight and we used the methods explained in this book to stay healthy.  We ate whole grain homemade breads, bean and rice casseroles, and even dishes made with the healthy soybean.

In one of these books was a recipe for a mock pumpkin pie made with pureed soybeans, pumpkin pie spice and other ingredients I can't remember (nor could I find the recipe in a long Internet search last night). 

My spouse invited several of his classmate friends, including Sgt W., to Thanksgiving dinner.  And, an idea hatched in my mind.  Why not make something with soybeans for him?

We had a turkey, and other items no longer remembered.  It was one of the happiest Thanksgivings I remember, because we were all away from home but not lonely, and I remember our companionship much more than I remember the food.

Except for one thing.  When I served my "pumpkin pie", Sgt W. dug in, and said he liked it.  So did everyone else.  I even liked it, and I don't like pumpkin pie.

So I admitted to him that his "pumpkin pie" was really soybean pie.  And he didn't seem to mind.

I wonder what he said when he returned home to Iowa when his class was over.  We never saw him again after that.

I don't know where Sgt W. lives today, or if he is even alive.  Sadly, I  know at least one of the young men at that dinner passed several years ago.  So I don't know if W. remembers the young woman he had Thanksgiving with, in an apartment near an Air Force base in Texas in the mid 1970's, and the soybean pie she served him.

If you are out there, Sgt. W, Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow to you and your family.

Tomorrow I will be participating in both the United States Thanksgiving and the twice monthly Thursday Tree Love meme. I'd like to wish all of my readers a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Weight Friendly Heirloom Apple Crisp

Where I live in upstate New York is in apple growing country, and some of the apples grown here are heirloom varieties.

This is a rerun of several years ago (except for the photos) and an apple crisp perfect for a weight-watching Thanksgiving.

There is a farm near Ithaca, New York, that specializes in heirloom apples.  At least once a year, we visit their booth at the Ithaca Farmers Market to pick up some unusual varieties.

Ithaca, New York farmers market 2018
This was not the best apple year, due to above normal rains, but we were able to pick up some nice apples (even on their side, which this picture seems to want to do).
Frog Pond, Bainbridge, NY 2018
But even in our local apple stores in the Binghamton area, we can purchase heirlooms such as Northern Spy, a wonderful baking apple.

There are many more apple varieties than you can find in your average supermarket.  Many of the older varieties don't ship well, or don't keep well, or don't bear reliably year after year.  But if you can find them, they are worth the effort.

When you do buy an apple, you must ask yourself:  How do you intend to use your apple?

Fresh eating? (my favorites are Honey Crisp, Autumn Crisp, and some of the eating heirlooms, especially the russets.)

Baking? (my favorite is Northern Spy but you can also try Rome and Cortland.)  And, Honey Crisps can be used in baking.

Tart Eating?  Empire is your pick. It used to be my favorite apple.

I, personally, am not a fan of Red Delicious or MacIntosh, but they have their fans.

Which brings me to one of my favorite desserts, apple crisp.  I've published a couple of different Weight Watchers friendly apple crisp recipes.  Here is one. 


I decided to experiment with adding frozen blueberries (which I picked from a U Pick farm in August).  At times, I've also put pears and/or blackberries into my apple crisps.  Yesterday, I decided to make an apple crisp with what I had on hand -  frozen blueberries.

Sorry for my friends outside the United States - you'll have to do your own conversions into metric, oven temperatures, etc.
20 ounce apple and leaves from my yard from a previous year
Fruit Crisp (9 inch square pan, serves 9)

2 pounds baking apples

4 tbsp brown sugar (you can also use 1 tbsp sucralose as an alternative)

2 tsp lemon juice

1 cup frozen blueberries (I didn't thaw them)



Peel and slice cored apples. Mix all ingredients together.  Place in a 9 inch square baking dish that has been oiled or buttered.


Top with topping.  Keep in mind this is an adaptation of a low-cal topping.  It may not suit you.

Topping

1 cup quick oats
4 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp light butter
1/2 tsp freshly ground allspice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix topping together and top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until the apple slices are the consistency you want.  Let cool, unless you can't wait to eat it.

How did it do? The blueberries dyed the apples nearby purple, but it tasted good.  The topping was "OK" (I'm still experimenting with getting these lower calorie toppings moist.) I think this would be amazing with Northern Spy apples, and I plan to make this for Thanksgiving (November 22) this year.

Do you like apple crisp?

Monday, November 19, 2018

Thankful Music #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and we all know what time it is.

It's time for another episode of Music Moves Me!

Who are the #MusicMovesMe 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!  Every other week we have a theme, and on alternate weeks, we can blog about any music we wish.  First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-conductors are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice,  and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   Also, co-conducting  is  Cathy from Curious as a Cathy .  And finally, there's me. 

<!-- end LinkyTools script —> Our honorary co-host for November is Stacy of Stacy Uncorked.  Today, as this is Thanksgiving Week, our theme is songs of Thanksgiving or Thankfulness.


So, of course, the first song that pops into my mind is Andrew Gold's Thank You For Being a Friend, which also reminds me of this:


The Golden Girls!


Moving to the 1970's, how about the 1970's Guess Who hit, Share the Land?  How I love those lyrics of a vision of peace and sharing so different than what we run into today in our daily lives, it seems.
Pete Townshend - Give Blood.  I love this music, it can transport me to another world.
Wrapping up with two about Thanksgiving Day - first, Ray Davies and "Thanksgiving Day".
And finally, this 18 minute classic from Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant, about a particular Thanksgiving Day in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.   Years ago, when we used to travel for Thanksgiving, we would sometimes be able to hit a particular Hudson Valley station that would play this song at noon every Thanksgiving Day.  You'll never think of shovels and rakes and implements of destruction in the same way.



I wonder if they still play it.

You did know I was going to, didn't you, Stacy?


Have a happy Thanksgiving this Thursday (except if you are in Canada - you already had your chance but what the heck, you are welcome to do it again!)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Delight of Cauliflower (with a recipe)

Until recently, cauliflower was a much neglected vegetable. It wasn't even easy to grow - when the head started to form, you had to tie leaves over the little head so that it would self-blanch and turn out white.

Now, it is (for many) one of the most prized veggies.  It is a favorite in the paleo diet, as it can substitute for rice or even potatoes when prepared right.   And it even comes in colors now, like a rainbow.

Purple.
 Orange.

And yes, white.

As Thanksgiving is coming up, how about some cauliflower "mashed potatoes" as a treat? This is a recipe my spouse, the family cook, makes occasionally.

Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"

One Head cauliflower, cut up into the florets.  Of the various types, spouse likes the orange best. (I wouldn't use the purple kind.  White works, though.)
Light butter, to taste
Parmesan Cheese, to taste

Method

1. Cook cauliflower in microwave or steam until fork tender.  Microwaving preserves nutrients. Spouse does not use chicken broth - rather, he uses water.

2 Puree in blender until smooth, adding just enough cooking liquid so it will come out as a thick puree. As you puree, add 1 tbsp light butter in to taste, along with 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Salt to taste.

4. Warm in microwave before you serve it.

5. And that's it. Enjoy!  I won't give suggested number of servings.  That is up to you.

Not only that, it is simple enough, if you have time and a food processor, to make "cauliflower rice".

Some people even make pizza crusts with cauliflower, and these crusts can be purchased commercially.

Have you fallen in love with cauliflower?

Tomorrow is my MusicMovesMe post, but I'll be back Tuesday with another recipe suitable for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Sustainable Saturday - Mixed Messages

Friday, November 16.  Nature doesn't quite know what to do.
Just a week ago, everything was so beautiful.  But now, there's confusion.

Snow rests on rhododendrons.

In my back yard, nearly a foot (0.0003048 km) of snow sits there, with yellow leaves still on some of the trees.

And in downtown Binghamton, New York, trees stand, saying to themselves, wasn't this a bit early?

What a mess.

The snow is slowly melting with cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 40's (5 C right now). 

But it's only the beginning.  And soon enough the mixed messages will be gone.
Burning Bush November 12

It will be all winter all the time.  Fall will be a distant memory.

Goodbye, fall.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Birds on a Wire #SkywatchFriday

Today, in upstate New York, we recover from our first true snowstorm of the season.

But not all drama is on the ground.

I don't know why birds cluster like this in mid November and then fly around.  I think these are starlings, but I am not a birder, and I am not sure.  They were even doing it in yesterday's snow.

I just know they eventually alight on utility wires, here near the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City, New York.
We were stopped for a red light, and I whipped out my cell phone.
Nice view of a hill called Carpathian Hill.

As the light turned, and my spouse prepared to drive away, I took one last shot.

Join Yogi and other bloggers who watch the sky each Friday at #SkywatchFriday.


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day November 2018 - Keiki Momma

Welcome to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

It's the 15th of the month, and we are under our first winter storm weather warning today, for upwards of five to nine inches of snow with a changeover to sleet and freezing rain before it turns back to snow.  My zone 5(b) upstate New York garden is done for the season.

We've had our freeze and our first snowflakes.  Now we are about to get our first snowstorm.

But inside, the weather is delightful (as long as our heat stays on!) and that is where you will find my flowers.  These are mostly plants I bought in (which will or won't survive the long winter) plus a couple I am trying to root.
Double flowered kalanchoe.
White sunpatien.
Pink sunpatien.
Thanksgiving cactus.
Pink geranium.

Red geranium.
Flowers on a coleus I am trying to root in water.

Last, but not least - my pride and joy. It's not a flower but, rather is a baby.  It's called a keiki, and it is a on one of my phalaenopsis.  In another six to twelve months, it will have its own roots, and can then be separated from the plant and rooted. 

A keiki is a small plant growing from one node along the flower stem of a couple of different types of orchids, including phalaenopsis.  This was a Mother's Day gift to my mother in law a couple of years ago, but she knew she would be unable to care for it and gave it back to me after enjoying it for a month or so.  It hasn't rebloomed, and this is the first time any of my orchids have given me a baby.

As an expectant orchid mother, I am so excited! 

Thanks go out once again to Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who is responsible for this monthly meme.  Why not go to other sites that have linked to her, and check out what is blooming all over the world?

Tomorrow - Skywatch Friday, and it's for the birds.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fall Gazebo #WordlessWednesday

Photos taken not long after sunrise on November 12 in downtown Binghamton, New York.

Approaching the Broome County Courthouse, a gazebo beckons in the golden hour glow.  I follow.


The gazebo closeup - some of the last color of fall.

Join Esha and other bloggers at #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

An Inside Look at Voting

Yesterday, I overheard a conversation between two women in Binghamton, New York.
Woman #1 (to woman #2):  did you vote?
Woman #2 (who answered, and then she proceed to reminisce about a time when she had young children, and had to take them, a diaper bag, and various amusements to the polls so she could exercise her right and duty.)

Last month I saw a news article about the state of Oregon, which has mail-only voting.  Having lived much of my life in New York State, which has only same day voting and absentee ballots offering only five excuses, a mail ballot intrigued me.  I was even more intrigued to find out that Oregon has been doing it for 18 years - since 2000.

In fact, three states in our country now have mail only voting: Oregon, Washington and Colorado.

And now...heart, stop fluttering - I know (through blogging) an Oregon Ballot inspector, Haralee.  Better yet, I got to read her 10 Tips on Vote by Mail. (more on her "tips" later).

(I'm also happy she doesn't live in Broward County, Florida, where they are having that massive recount of some 700,000 ballots, surrounded by claims of incompetence and possible voter fraud.  In fact, I had just finished a discussion with my spouse when I decided to read the Oregon post.)

Haralee asked, at the end of her post, if anyone reading her post had ever worked an election.  I haven't, but one of my immediate co-workers has, for the past several years.  She takes (vacation time) the day off and works a poll shift that begins at 5:30 am and ends at 9:30 pm.

The poll workers in New York have a multitude of duties, which include verifying everyone coming into vote, writing their name and number (each voter is counted) on a pad of paper as a double check,  helping those whose ballots aren't being accepted by the machine, helping those with disabilities, and so forth.  At each table, when you sign in, there must be a Republican and a Democrat.  They each must wear badges identifying which party they belong to.

It was an exhausting, grueling day for my co worker, which ends only after the last vote is cast.  A part of the machine has to be taken out, under supervision, and delivered to a worker who drives from precinct to precinct, collecting these parts and putting them immediately into a locked bag that he or she has no access to. (In other words, the machines are not directly hooked up to the Internet).  The machines are then (by someone else) impounded.   There are many checks and doublechecks to make sure the vote is not corrupted.

My co worker did all of this for $11 an hour.   The minimum wage in our county, incidentally, is $10.40 an hour.  So these workers defending (in a way) our democracy make barely above minimum wage.

One of the polling places in my county was the local Jewish Community Center, which required extra security for the saddest of reasons.

But turn out people did - in record numbers.

So, back to the 10 tips Haralee in Oregon gave.  After reading it (and chuckling at some of her comments, which weren't that funny but you do have to wonder about human nature), I can see where many people don't take the act of voting that seriously.    And really, no matter where you live, don't write in Jesus, Mickey Mouse or Spider-Man (RIP Stan Lee) either.  She explains why it is not funny at all, and costs taxpayers money.

Today, I am waking to our first sticking snow.  The color season is just about done.

I wish I could vote for more of it.