Thursday, January 31, 2019

Within the Vortex

On this last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I keep a promise I make to my blog readers, some of whom live in places that never see snow.   The promise is, I will show them snow.


In fact, they can have all of it.  Today, we experience below zero (F) temperatures.  Last night, the wind howled.  Tomorrow, I will have a special Skywatch Friday for you.

It isn't just us.  Much of the nation is suffering worse, much worse.  Where I live near Binghamton, New York, we are actually fortunate.  In some states, mail delivery has been suspended.  Schools are closed.

Ice on side of a highway
It makes you look at your world in a new way when you think of something so common to you that is exotic to others.

If you want even more snow, here some of my favorite snow posts, for your enjoyment.

Shoveling Nemo.

Oreo snow.  Yes, there is such a thing, and we had it yesterday.

 Must Frosty die?

Great Glops of Snow.

The winter that's been a wonder. 

And finally, if you wonder if snow sneakers are a thing - they are. (I'm not into snowshoeing or skiing, by the way - I've never been into winter.  Alas.)  The snow sneakers in this post are still going strong in 2019, by the way.

Happy last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Snowday

Snow days have never been so musical.
A Michigan school superintendent and a high school principal teamed up to sing an announcement that their district was announcing a snow day.

They both have great voices.  Needless to say, this video is going viral.

Our local school district prides themselves on their music programs.  I think they should hire these gentlemen immediately.

I wish I could take a snowday, but my workday awaits.  Still, with a recently retired spouse, I am fortunate, for I will be transported to work while he does all the work.  In winter, you never retire in much of the United States - there is snow to scrape off the car, snow to shovel.

And if we get a snow day, it means things are really bad.

Keep warm, my readers trapped in the Polar Vortex!

Day 30 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Palm in a Box

We were looking around in a landmark farm stand in Florida earlier this month when my spouse noticed it.

"It" was a small palm sapling in a plastic bag inside a box.  The box was one of many on a display.

The box declared "Grows Indoors and Outdoors" and "Withstands Traveling in Sealed Plastic Bag". It guaranteed "Nursery Fresh Arrival".

Since we live in upstate New York, where temperatures are going to drop to below zero in the next few days (plus, we will get snow today), this palm would have to be an indoor plant.

The box assured us the plant would survive temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees once it was taken out of the bag.   "Your palm is definitely an indoor plant and should not be exposed to sunlight" although, in summer, it might want some outdoor time in the shade, "letting it have the benefit of the rain and dew".

It would really have been happy last summer, our wettest summer ever.

For my spouse, it was love at first sight.  It would be his Florida souvenir.  He bought it.

The box was correct.  The plant survived two weeks of Florida travel plus about 17 hours of transit within our vehicle, on a train. Who knows for how long it had been in that box.

And here it is, freshly planted.  How did the people selling this plant do it?

I'm a bit intrigued myself.

There's just one little problem.  I did research on the Neanthe Bella palm, also known as the table top palm, and it does make a nice houseplant.  They are native to southern Mexico and it's a popular houseplant, according to various websites.

However, it is very susceptible to an insect pest called the spider mite.  Yikes.

I have some stories about this pest, which is so small you don't even know your plant is infested, until you notice your plant is dying and you also note these weird webs all over the top of your plant. The spider mite, in fact, is related to the spider.  And they are difficult to eradicate.  I know that from experience.  I've never conquered them.

Gee, spouse, thanks.  I now have a spider mite magnet in my house.

But maybe I'll be lucky and we'll end up with a treasured plant.  That's part of the fun of growing plants, isn't it?

Either way, we were only out $4.99.

Here's to Florida, in the midst of the Polar Vortex.

Day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Monday, January 28, 2019

Cold Music - #MusicMovesMe #blogboost

It's Monday and guess what time it is?  Yes, it is time for another #MusicMovesMe.

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! (Music Posts Only on this music train, please!)   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.  

Join us every Monday if you have music to share (no non music posts, please, because we need something to dance to) and you can join in on the music fun!


This is what I woke up to on Sunday morning.

Because this is a "free" week and we choose our own theme (and I'm watching snow come down as I blog) I am going to choose as my theme:  Songs that mention "cold", either in the title, the lyrics or in the name of the group.

This first song, from 1982, is Stone Cold by Rainbow, is not about cold, but about a man whose wife has just left him without warning - stone cold.

From 1980, the Rolling Stones and "She's So Cold". 

Still on the theme of male/female relationships, Foreigner and "Cold as Ice".

Coldplay is a group that I have not really gotten into all that much (gasp!) but I do enjoy this one song - Viva La Vida.

Because I did want to have at least one song dealing with cold weather, here's The Zac Brown Band - Colder Weather.

And I'll close with - yes, it's not Christmas, but the polar vortex is here so here's Frosty the Snowman, as sung by Jimmy Durante.  

Is it cold where you live?  See you next week at #MusicMovesMe!

Day 28 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Parakeet Curtains

The hospice is a small place, tucked into a neighborhood in a city in Pennsylvania.  Outside the house it must be lovely in the summer, but the trees were bare the day my spouse and I visited, and snow carpeted most of the ground.

There are six rooms, and a kitchen like one you would see in a residence.  There is a place to sign in.  There is someone at the front desk and a buzzer sounds whenever someone enters or leaves.

Her room is named after a color which is also the name of a fruit.  Her window overlooks some of the wooded grounds, but she does not notice.

She sleeps almost all of the time now.  She does not see the couple of pieces of furniture in the room, nor does she see the curtains made lovingly by someone (I suspect) in a bird print - not quite parakeets, but that's what I want to think they are.  I love birds.  I love parakeets.

Her husband, my first cousin, held her hand and whispered that we were here to see her, but she did not awaken.  He had already been there for a couple of hours, and was going to go home soon to make lunch for himself and his adult son (who lives with him). Then, later in the evening, he would go to work.

The cancer had come quickly, leaving her partially paralyzed, and it took him a while to process what was happening.  His wife was given anywhere from a month to 18 months by her doctors.  Sadly, the tumor is growing quickly and now he just takes it one day at a time.

We all knew this visit (we had also seen her about two weeks ago) would be the final one.  There aren't too many days left for this loving, devoted couple.  My cousin is in a bad place right now - besides what is happening with his wife, he also lost his brother, his only sibling, less than a year and a half ago.

He's a man who uses humor and punning to interact with family and friends. On our last visit, his wife was able to talk briefly with us, and they shared some puns.    But when we visited the other day, there were no laughs, no puns.

An hour or so after we left, my cousin texted me. 

His text was simple.  "Thanks for stopping by it means a lot."

I was lost for words. 

I still am.
Bougainvillea, symbol of welcoming visitors
Day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Local Saturday - Living Wormholes

Taken January 2013
She is what some call a human wormhole.  And I hope she'll forgive me for saying so, because she knows I love her very much.  It's not the most elegant name, the "human wormhole" but if you think about it a little, the name is a bit catchy.

I've blogged before about my spouse's last living aunt.  As of this week she is 107 (yes, 107) years old.  But she's so much more.  She is a link to the past, the past that, for all but a handful of us, exists only in textbooks.  When I touch her, when I talk to her, I am touching history.

She was alive when the Titanic made its maiden voyage (1912).

She was alive when our country enacted a constitutional amendment permitting the income tax (1913).

She was alive during the post World War I flu epidemic (1918-1919) and vaguely remembers wagons traveling from house to house where needed to pick up the dead (what a childhood memory).

We are fascinated by human wormholes.  I've blogged about some of them myself, from the living grandson of a U.S. President who served from 1841 to 1845 to a man who witnessed Lincoln's 1865 assassination and lived to tell the story on a late night game show in 1956.

One story has an interesting twist.  It is said that Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who fought in the Civil War, shook hands with both former President John Quincy Adams (born in 1767) and a young/future President John J Kennedy (whose life was cut short by assassination in 1963).  I can not find any firm evidence for this having actually happened (there is a fascinating discussion online about whether it might have been possible, though). However, Holmes did have a link to more than just the Civil War, where it is said he once saved Lincoln's life.

Holmes, who lived from 1841 to 1937, had fond memories of his grandmother, who could remember red coated English troops marching through the streets of Boston at the beginning of our Revolutionary War. When she was five. In 1776.

If I live long enough, I might be a human wormhole, too.  I don't know if that makes me happy - or scares me a little.

Do you know anyone who would qualify as a human wormhole?

Day 26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Friday, January 25, 2019

Palm Beach County Sunset #SkywatchFriday #blogboost

I've said it more than once - January sunsets are some of the best.

We have nice ones near Binghamton, New York, where I work, but Florida has its share, too.

These photos were taken January 20 in Palm Beach County, on the east coast of South Florida.

I am not sure I've ever seen clouds quite like this.

Sunsets over water are the best.

The palm trees don't hurt, either.


Right now, all I can do is dream of returning to Florida one day.  For now, I will join Yogi and the other skywatching bloggers who gather each Friday for #SkywatchFriday.

Day 25 of the Ultimate Blog challenge #blogboost

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Road #ThursdayTreeLove #blogboost

My readers in warm climes will love today's post.  We who live in the Northeast United States will not.

Thanks to my guest photographer, who lives out in the countryside outside of Binghamton, New York, I will be able to provide you with your fix of snow.

When she took this picture, it was below 10 degrees F (-12 C).  I'll let you guess how deep the snow is.    I love how the trees line the road for as far as you can see.

Join Parul and other tree loving bloggers the second and fourth Thursday of each month for #ThursdayTreeLove.  Our next episode will be on Valentine's Day - February 14.

Day 24 of the Ultimate Blog challenge #blogboost

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Mona Lavender - Wordless Wednesday

In the northeast United States, covered in snow and shivering in bitter temperatures, what we need now is a picture of a flower.

This is something called Mona Lavender, which is actually a type of Swedish ivy.  I have a plant in my bedroom window but I found this in a nursery and it spoke to me of spring.

Join Esha and other bloggers for #WordlessWednesday.

Day 23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

It's All About the Spam Comments

Nowadays, when I get on my blog in the morning, the first thing I see is comments - comments of encouragement and love.

Here are some from recent mornings:

"I love it when people come together to share great views!  Keep up the good work..."  (on a blog post from several years ago).

"We are a group of community organizers and find your blog of great use...."  (Hmmm, I've gotten that message at least 25 times a year.)

"I need help with my webblog. Can you contact me..."  (short answer, No.)

"It's not my first time to pay a visit this blog page" (again, on a post from years ago).

"Hey there I am so happy I found your blog, I really found you by accident..."  (I'm sure you did, especially as you said you found it on Ask Jeeves, which hasn't been Ask Jeeves in some 12 years).

"I know this is off topic...." yes, it is and no, I'm not responding."

"What blogging platform do you use?"  No comment, including to the anonymous blogger asking.

Yes, I get these comments and I'm sure you (if you are a blogger) do to.  But:  WHY?

Back in October, I encouraged (legitimate) bloggers to visit a post that had been, by far, the most hit-upon by spammers.  It was a Halloween themed post about Yonkers (a large city in New York State) and zombies.  I asked bloggers to comment about their most spam-hit upon blogs and the responses were interesting.

But getting this obvious spam (and some of it makes you think for a minute if it is really spam, as it is so well done)  makes me feel like someone has taken a (insert word of your choice here concerning removal of waste material from your body) on my blog, and that is not an image any blogger wants.

(So here's a better one for you - my last garden flowers in a vase from early November).

In case you've ever wondered why spammers come to your blog, this is a fascinating blog post about why.

This blogger gives three possible solutions for his platform.  On the platform I use (Blogger), there are several options - first, don't accept comments at all (which I will not do).  Then, use comment moderation (which allows me to read comments, sent to me in emails, before I decide if to post).  And finally, only allow commenters with Google accounts to comment.

At this point in time I can add that Blogger has made it so hard for people to comment, maybe soon all will be left are the spammers.  Too bad.

So, a question for you today:  has spam ever made you want to quit blogging?

Day 22 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Monday, January 21, 2019

Standing in the Shadows - #MusicMovesMe #blogboost

It's Monday and time for another 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! (Music Posts Only on this music train, please!)   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. This month, our conductor is hiding in the shadows, refusing to reveal his or her identity.  Today, the theme he or she has picked is "songs containing the word shadow"

I was a big fan of the group The Four Tops and loved their hit "Standing in the Shadows of Love".

While researching this, I came across a song by Guns N'Roses that was recorded in 1986 but not released until last may called "Shadow of Your Love".

Which, of course immediately led to this song by Supertramp called "Shadow Song" that I had never heard before.

Although a performer formerly known as Cat Stevens released a song called "Moonshadow" in 1971, I decided to go with a cover by Patti LaBelle.

Finally, speaking of versions not all of us are familiar with, many of us have heard the Rolling Stones Song "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby (Standing in the Shadow)" but I had never heard this version of the song, recorded in 1966.

See you next week!

Day 21 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A Technology Mystery

Have you ever heard of a wire recorder?

I have a little family mystery I've never been able to solve, and I'm curious to know if any of my readers have ever heard of this technology.

A while back, I blogged about the Air King wire recorder my son (a lover of old technology) bought out of the bargain bin in the local electronics store.  For those of you who have never heard of these....they are a technology that peaked in the late 40's and early 50's....recording sound on very thin wires.

The recorder came with a wire spool.

The recorder works, sort of (as far as playback) but needs work. It has an arm apparently to play records, but it is broken.  Lights are burnt out.

My son, who loves to fix things, managed to clean the heads so the wire recording that came with this plays.  I sure wish I could identify what is on it.  Son did record this (via a microphone) onto his computer, just in case.

There is, first, something sounding like a late 40's music piece, which I suspect may have recorded off the radio.  Jazz?  Have to admit ignorance.

The next thing on the spool is a live reading of a satire of "The Night Before Christmas" that may have been done by some drunken fraternity brothers-or people playing drunken fraternity brothers.  As a history buff this one interests me.  I wonder if we could do some detective work to find the former owner of this recorder-although I don't have the time to do this.

The third (and apparently, last) thing is a recording of a woman singing, accompanied by a band, again might be a recording off the radio.

Unfortunately neither of us are up on the music of that era.

For now, the contents will have to be a mystery, but the recorder is a valued addition to my son's Museum of Obsolete Technology. 

Day 20 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Art of Keeping in Touch

A blog post I recently read reminded me of a blog post from 2012, which I repeat today with a little updating.

I had recently visited Brooklyn (over Christmas) and had dinner with several relatives who live in the area.  The death of a couple of my spouse's relatives in November and December, and the serious illness of one of my relatives (whom I visited a couple of days ago), have made me think more and more about keeping in touch.

Recently, in decluttering, my spouse found a CD of letters from the Round Robin, which also brought back this memory:

The Round Robin and the Art of Keeping in Touch

I had blogged about the Month of Letters project I had heard about through a fellow blogger.

The idea was to write 24 letters (hard letters, though the mail) during the month of February.  Or, at least, mail something.

It was a good idea but I didn't sign up.  But it did bring back memories of a letter writing tradition my father's side of the family participated in for a number of years.  And why trying to start it up again several years ago just didn't work out.

This project was called The Round Robin.  My father, who would be (in 2019) 104 if he was still alive, was one of six children.  As adults, they went their separate ways.  My Dad and two siblings stayed in the New York City area (they grew up in Brooklyn). One moved to Albany, one moved to Tampa, Florida and one ended up first in Texas and later in Iowa and Illinois.  Only one of them, the youngest, is still alive now in 2019.

To stay in touch (as telephoning, even someone in another part of New York City, was so expensive back then), they wrote letters.  I don't know who in our family started The Round Robin but the point was:  You wrote a letter, put it in a big envelope with everyone else's letter. When the packet got to you, you replaced your old letter with a current letter, and then sent it on.  The Robin's route was always the same.

By the time I was a teenager, I had taken over from my Dad.  So it was me, writing to five aunts and uncles.  I looked forward to getting those letters and I loved responding for my Dad.  But each time, the Robin packet would take longer and longer to come.  Finally, the Robin stopped.  In the meantime, I had grown up and had better things to do.  Time passed....lots of time.

Around 2007, I thought it would be a really good idea to start up the Robin again.   My Dad and his five brothers/sisters had a total of 12 children between them. (I am an only child.)  I contacted my 11 first cousins and almost all of them were eager to join in on Robin 2.0..  The oldest cousins at that point were near 60, the youngest were in their 40's.  All of us were of the last letter writing generation.  In fact, several of my cousins have never felt comfortable with computers.  (Guess I didn't inherit those genes.  My spouse thinks my computer is grafted to my body.)

Another cousin, whose grandmother and my grandmother were sisters, joined our Robin group.

The last of my father's siblings, an uncle, wanted to join, too, but...guess what happened.  The first packet took a year to make the rounds.  The second packet never made it back to me.  He never had a chance to write a letter-one that I saw, anyway.

And what about the generation of our children?  Between the 12 of us, we have 11 children.  Many of them are young adults, including my son.  None of them were interested in the Robin.

I have finally decided the Robin is not viable.  Not dead, mind you.  Just busy sunning him or herself in Florida, or the French Riviera, or somewhere else more pleasant than upstate New York, while most of us keep in touch by email, text, or Facebook.

Know how my last living uncle, who is in his mid 90's as of 2019, communicates with his three children?  Skype and email is a large part of it.  And I guess that's the point of this blog post.

Yes.  Letter writing has died out because....dare I say it?  There are now better ways to communicate.  Sad but true.

I wish letter writing projects the best, but I wonder how many of those people will still write to each other when February fades into March.

What do you think?  Did any of you have a family letter  packet like the Round Robin?  Do any of you keep in touch with siblings or cousins by snail mail nowadays?

Day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Friday, January 18, 2019

Brooklyn Moods #SkywatchFriday #blogboost


Brooklyn, New York, is part of New York City.  It's a part that was once neglected by tourists, but more and more are finding that Brooklyn is a place they should be checking out.

I grew up in New York City.  For the first time in my life, this past December, I found myself (with my spouse and son) in a hotel room in downtown Brooklyn.  I took this sunrise picture from my window.
Dec 23 sunset, showing that sunrise and sunset beauty can be found anywhere.

Coney Island Beach Christmas Eve - no more clear weather; the clouds have arrived.

Dec 23 holiday lights.

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

Day 18 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Lessons of MLK and Mudcat Grant

It is sobering to realize that January 15, 2019 would have been the 90th birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.


Of course, he was never allowed to live long enough to celebrate it.

I am a senior citizen, and I realize that fewer and fewer people alive today experienced the world that Martin Luther King, Jr. was born into.  I never did, because I am white.  But my father witnessed segregation (again, through the eyes of a white man who grew up in Brooklyn) when he was stationed in the Southern United States (Mississippi and Arkansas) for a part of his military service in World War II.  He would use news stories about the Civil Rights movement as "teachable moments" for me.

Years later, I had the opportunity to meet Mudcat Grant, a former major league pitcher (and a member of the 12 Black Aces - black pitchers who had won at least 20 games in a season - quite an accomplishment) who grew up in Florida in the days of segregation.  (He's 83 now).

He told a group of us the story of how a teenaged boy he knew as a young child was lynched because he had committed the crime of going in the front door of a white woman's house while delivering her groceries.

It wasn't just that lynching, but his mother's reaction that stuck with Mudcat the rest of his life.  The reaction basically was that this is the way life was for his people, and he'd better get used to it.

What impressed me the most about meeting Mudcat Grant was his gentle-manliness.  He was  softspoken and you never would have guessed what he had gone through in his early years.

Now, hatred is on the rise again - and it is more and more acceptable to express that hatred, to the point of a Senator making offensive comments for years before being formally rebuked.

This hatred must be fought, least it once again become acceptable in our United States.

It is not enough to name streets all over our country for Martin Luther King, Jr.  For what Mudcat Grant and others in our country went through, we must say "never again" to all hate.

Day 17 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Great Molasses Flood

It wasn't a joke.  It wasn't sweet.  And when I first heard about it several years ago, it was hard to believe.

On January 15, 1919, a tank of molasses located in the North End of Boston exploded, with 2.5 million gallons of sweet, sticky molasses bearing down on the neighborhood  like a gigantic wall at some 35 miles an hour.

Nothing could withstand the flood.  People were crushed and houses crumbled as the flood swept over the area.  21 people died - the youngest 10, the oldest 78.

Here are some photos of the aftermath, including a photo of what the neighborhood looks like today.

Area residents claimed you could smell the molasses every summer for decades after.

This song commemorates the event, which led to legislation designed to increase safety in industrial construction.

Not all that is sweet is desirable.

Day 16 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day January 2019

Welcome to the 15th of January.  It's time for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Where I live in upstate New York, winter couldn't make up its mind if it wanted to come or not.  Snow,  warm, rain, snow, repeat.  But winter has closed in.

I don't have much blooming in my house. This African violet, which I purchased in early December, is still going strong.

Who knows if this primrose will make it to spring?

My reliable Thanksgiving cactus still blooming.
And finally, my geraniums struggle, but gave me one bloom.

It's bitterly cold today where I live in zone 5b near Binghamton, New York but we can still have our flowers.

Join Carol at May Dreams Gardens and other bloggers the 15th of each month for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  What's blooming in your house or yard?

P.S. Today is the 100th anniversary of Boston's Great Molasses Flood.  More on that tomorrow.

Day 15 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Monday, January 14, 2019

Flowers #MusicMovesMe # blogboost

Welcome! It's Monday and time for another episode of Music Moves Me. And today, being a "Your Song Pick" week, I've decided to be inspired by - a parade!

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! (Music Posts Only on this music train, please!)   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. 

> Every January 1 (except when it falls on a Sunday) the Tournament of Roses parade is held in Pasadena, California.  And wouldn't you know it - their theme this year was "The Melody of Life".

I'd like to bring you a little flavor of that parade. But first, some music.


Live performance of The Cowsills and The Rain, the Park, and Other Things.

Talking Heads - [Nothing But] Flowers.

Flowers on the Wall - Statler Brothers

You Don't Bring Me Flowers - a duet with Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond.

I took these pictures from my TV of the Rose Parade - one day I will get to see this parade in person but not this year.  First, Far Out Frequencies.

How about this Hep Cat?
The Power of Music.

Finally, check out those drums.  Keep in mind, when you view these floats, that the entire float and its contents must be covered in all natural materials - flowers, seeds, bark, spices, or something similar.

Join me again next Monday for another #MusicMovesMe, and while you are at it, why don't you check out other participants in this blog hop?

Day 14 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Hard Times in Johnson City New York #blogboost

For this day 13 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, let me tell you a little bit about the community in upstate New York I live near.

Johnson City was known at one time as the Home of the Square Deal, thanks to George F. Johnson and the Johnson family of Endicott-Johnson shoes.  But that was then and this is now.

Many of those shoe factories have been torn down.  The ones left are in ruins, inhabited by derelicts.  Downtown Johnson City, to be blunt, is depressed.  It may be slowly making its way back from ruin but it is not a place I would recommend to any out of town visitors.  I hope one day that will be different.

George F. Johnson would not have been happy.

Ironic that in 2009 I blogged about the possible dissolution of Johnson City.  The voters voted that November, and Johnson City remained in existence.

But now, Johnson City has appeared on a list of the 10 most dangerous cities in the state of New York.

I have met so many people who have lost jobs in the last year, or are in danger of losing jobs.  Just one example:  I know the mother of someone whose husband is currently looking for work.  Her daughter is a housewife with three children, the fourth one on the way.  It's not a good situation, to put it mildly.

Others try to cobble together part time jobs while going back to school.

And now, our mall, which has lost three of its four anchor stores in the past three years, wants its taxes reduced dramatically.  Who will take up the slack if they win?

We, the residents, will take up that slack.

These are not happy times for many.

Can Johnson City be saved?  Once again, the future is uncertain. And while I try to keep my optimism up, I have to admit that it is hard, sometimes, to keep the faith.

Recently, the State University of New York opened a pharmacy school in part of that depressed area.  We can only hope that will spark a revival.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Realizing How Fortunate I Am

In the past couple of weeks, I've had occasions where I have felt sorry for myself.

But, I am really one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth.  I get to view beautiful sunrises like this one from earlier in the week.  I sometimes get to travel.

Five days a week, I have the opportunity to get up, eat breakfast, and go to work. Then, in the late afternoon, I get to go home. 

On the other hand, not everyone has that privilege.

Yesterday, my spouse and I made a trip, probably to say goodbye to a relative.  She's younger than I, and has cancer.  Her prognosis is poor.  She knew we were there, but was too tired/sleepy to interact with us.  She is unable to get out of bed on her own. 

I want to use the time I have left, whether years or months, wisely.  I need to devote more thought to that than I have recently.

I need to remember how grateful I am for life.

Day 12 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Friday, January 11, 2019

January Fire #SkywatchFriday #blogboost

From January 4, a beautiful sunset outside of Binghamton, New York.

There is just something so magical about some January sunrises and sunsets - see the sunset reflected in the house windows on the lower middle?

But the best is yet to come.

Oh yes.  I could get lost in this.

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

The Brooklyn photos I promised last week?  I am delaying them another week.  I couldn't resist sharing this sunset with you!

Day 11 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Winter Trees #ThursdayTreeLove #blogboost

Some of those who participate in #ThursdayTreeLove are from India or other warmer climes than the one I live in, and I sometimes feel I will disappoint if I don't grab a picture of trees and snow on winter Thursdays.

We haven't had much snow, though!  One major snow, which caused havoc - but since then, not much.

But on the last Saturday of December, I awoke to some light snow flurries.  We got what we call a dusting.

And this was the result.  You can even see some fall color remnants on the three to the left.

Although this isn't a tree, I thought you would also like to see some snow close up on my rhododendron. This plant stays green year round, but takes our harsh winters well.  The buds will open into lovely flowers come late May.

Winter is striking where I live, today - January will not be denied, and this morning ice and snow have struck, along with wind.  Not a good day to go out in!

I am, once again, joining Parul and other bloggers who love trees at #ThursdayTreeLove.  Why not join us every second and fourth Thursday of the month?  Trees make me happy - do they make you happy?

See you next time!

Day 10 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

It's Delurking Time!

Are you a blog lurker?  I am, at times.  I admit it.  How about you?

What is a lurker? You like a blog, and you may even read it regularly, but you rarely (or ever) comment.


Maybe you want to admire the blog post from afar. You feel you have nothing to add to the discussion.  I can feel that way.

Maybe you've taken a vow of Internet silence.  Maybe you are shy.  I understand. I'm shy, too.

This week, the blogging community asks you to break your silence.    It's International Blog Delurking Week and it lasts until January 13.

This year, a blog I like to read (Happiness and Food), has taken over from the originator of this meme, Melissa Ford of Stirrup Queens.


The badge?  Go to Happiness and Food, get it and comment there, too.

Parul, the blogger at Happiness and Food, won't bite. She loves trees. In fact, I can tell you she loves trees, because the second and fourth Friday of the month, she hosts a meme called Thursday Tree Love.  In fact, if you love trees, I invite you to come back to Happiness and Food tomorrow with your tree loving post.

I don't bite, either (unless you are made out of chocolate).  I'd love to see you comment.

You can just comment below, where it says "Post a Comment", and say "I'm here!" (unless, of course, you're a spammer.  If you are, go away.)

I know, Blogger blogs can be difficult to comment on.  But, at least today, won't you try?

You can tell me where you live.  You can ask me questions.  You can suggest topics you would like me to blog about.  You can talk about the weather, food, or chocolate.  You can follow me on Twitter or Pinterest (see right sidebar), too.

I am honored by everyone who comes by to read my posts.  Thank you, if you have commented before.  And thank you for commenting today, if this post moves you. (And thank you if you have delurked on your own!)

Commenting to bloggers is like chocolate for many of us.

I look forward to hearing from you today, but, most of all, if there are other blogs you like where you won't you comment on them today, too?  A new blogger, especially, gives up if he or she blogs in silence.  Won't you make a blogger's day today and comment?

Day nine of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Dying Breed

Do you ever think your life has turned into a museum exhibit?

On December 23-26 my spouse, son and I spent time in Brooklyn, one of the boroughs of New York City.  I have never lived in Brooklyn (I was born in Queens and grew up in The Bronx, two other boroughs), but my father was a native of Brooklyn and I still have some family there.

What I was doing in Brooklyn during Christmastime is a long story.  I am debating whether to tell it now, or wait for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

For now, I am going to tease you with this picture taken at Coney Island.  I took this picture on Christmas Eve.  It's a picture of a dying breed.

The pay phone.  Perhaps almost the last of a dying breed.  Years ago, they were everywhere.

Now, they aren't.  More often or not I'll find the housing but not the phone.  These had phones.  And, wonder of wonders:  These actually worked.

I was unable to find out how many pay phones are left in Brooklyn, but I have to think "not too many".

Pay phones were a staple of my childhood, growing up in the 50's and 60's.  In those days, we had phone booths where you could take refuge from the weather, and where Superman could change into his superhero clothes. 

Now, so many of us have cell phones, I'm surprised there are any pay phones left at all.

When is the last time you used a pay phone?  For me, it's so long ago I can't even remember.


Day 8 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Monday, January 7, 2019

1969 - #MusicMovesMe #Blogboost

Welcome! It's Monday and time for another episode of Music Moves Me.  And it's also the first Music Moves Me for 2019.  As our head, Xmas Dolly, would say:  Applause!!

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! (Music Posts Only on this music train, please!)   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. 

The person setting the themes for January has elected to remain anonymous, so there is no one to credit - or blame! (ONLY KIDDING).  The theme for today has to do with Elvis, whose birthday would have been tomorrow.  So, we are invited to start with an Elvis tune, but then switch to other tunes of his era.

And his era was a long one indeed.  When my son, who is now in his late 20's, was growing up, our neighbor across the street had a son a year older than our son. And that young man loved Elvis.  Elvis transcends generation gaps - his music spanned three decades, and is still enjoyed today.

Which is why I am going to start with my favorite Elvis song.  No, it's not from the 50's, or even from the 1960's.  Rather, it is from 1969.

Please enjoy Elvis singing "Suspicious Minds".

In 1969, Elvis also came out with "In the Ghetto". This live version dates from the early 1970's.

In general, 1969 was (in my humble opinion) a fantastic year for music, and it's so hard for me to believe that 50 years have now passed since these songs were hits.

But first, a small tribute to Daryl Dragon, better known as the "Captain" of the Captain and Tennille, who died earlier this week at the age of 76 from renal failure.  Toni Tennille, his ex-wife, was by his side.

They weren't together in 1969 - oh how I wish they had been.  Instead, I will offer a song from 1976 - Muskrat Love.

So, back to 1969 and songs from that year:  I'll just pick two.  The first one, from the Fifth Dimension, Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In.

And, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fortunate Son.

Join me again next week for another edition of #MusicMovesMe.

Day seven of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Case of the January Greens

No, I'm not talking leftover Christmas trees.

Every year, it seems we are having a stranger and stranger January. (And February.  And March....)

I thought winter had come on Black Friday, when we got down to four above zero F (-15.5 C).  Or that we had a large snowstorm.

Then we had one of the most cloudy stretches I can remember.  However, on Friday and Saturday, the sun actually came out and I got to remember what the sun looks like.
Never used to be like this on January 5 near Binghamton, New York
This is what things looked like yesterday where I sometimes exercise walk.  Yes, that's green grass.  And sunshine.

Today, we are having strong winds and blowing snow (which isn't sticking).  At least the temperature is above freezing.

Yes, it could be worse.  Just about a year ago, we went down to -2 F (-19 C).  Thank heavens that wasn't today.

And we had ice sculptures in downtown Binghamton.  Not this year, though.

The snow will come soon enough - I hope, though, that it doesn't come in April, like last year.

I remember when we started having this kind of weather about six years ago.  Before that, it was a given that snow covered our ground from November through March with little break. You knew February, in particular, would be brutal.  Now, things are all over the place. Warm in January.  Snow in April.  That kind of thing.

Even the clouds look different.

Does the weather ever frighten you?

Day six of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Local Saturday - Charity Begins with Crochet

This morning, I read a fellow blogger's post on her 365 day crochet project for charity.

That struck a chord in me.  I've crocheted for nearly 50 years.  I'm mostly self taught.

I've done a little bit of crocheting for charity on and off during my life - I must admit, a lot more of it was "off" than "on".

But I could do something about that.  

I was starting work on a lap blanket for my mother in law.  I worked on it during a short vacation I was able to take in September.  Alas, when the vacation ended, so did my work on it.

My mother in law, as my regular readers know, passed away the day after Thanksgiving.  I've worked on the blanket, a little here and there, including on my recent travels to Brooklyn.  It's thick, and soft, as I hope you can see from the picture.(I included the hook for a little scale).

I think she would be very happy to see it donated to someone. 

And actually, I know three people right now who are battling cancer.   I know someone else whose spouse has serious heart issues, being treated at the University of Rochester in New York State.

There is so much need out there.

Charity can begin with crochet.  I don't know how many people in this country crochet items for vets, for people battling cancer, for the homeless, and for other causes.  It must number in the thousands.  My late childhood best friend crocheted her way through her cancer and her spouse's, before she was no longer able to, also for charity.

Can I do less?

It's time for me to shed some grief and get back in the game.  I'll share what happens with this blanket with you, my dear reader, which will make me accountable.  I'm sure my closet, which has too many works in progress (WIPS), will thank me, too.

And I'll wish Alice, the blogger in another part of New York State, the best of luck with her decision to crochet a square a day so she can donate crochet for the comfort of cancer patients.

Day five of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost


Friday, January 4, 2019

Skylines #SkywatchFriday #blogboost

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day in Brooklyn, part of New York City.  Parts of Brooklyn offer a wonderful view of the Manhattan skyline.

These pictures were taken from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and (possibly, not sure) Brooklyn Bridge Park on December 25.

What a wonderful way to spend an early winter morning.  No snow!  Sunshine!

My son helped me take this panorama with my iPhone SE.  I love how it stretched the clouds.  The Brooklyn Bridge (on the right) adds even more beauty to the picture, from far away.
A more "common" view of some docks.

I loved seeing the blue sky, coming from upstate New York where it has rarely shone since October.
Another view of the  iconic Brooklyn Bridge in the distance.  You can also see (just about in the middle, in the distance) the Empire State Building.

Next week, I hope to show you some more parts of Brooklyn.

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

Day four of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Do You Fear Falling?

As much as the Stepping On program falls prevention program I participated in during 2015 taught me, there is something that they never touched on.  Not directly, anyway.  My guess is, it isn't part of the official curriculum they must follow.  I think falling education has to face something head-on.

That issue is fear.

Fear of falling.

At one of the first classes I took, the two instructors asked us "How many of you don't go out during the winter unless you absolutely have to?"  More than half raised their hands.  In upstate New York, winters are cold and harsh, with lots of ice and snow.  We can get over 100 inches of snow (254 cm) in a year.  If you don't go out, you are isolated.

But if you have to go out, there are icy sidewalks to deal with.  We've all fallen on them.

I'm only in my mid 60's, and I am increasingly afraid of winter.  Now that my spouse has retired, I have someone to take me to work if the weather is bad.  But how many people live alone, or with spouses or partners who suffer physical or health issues?

Stepping On teaches strategies, with videos and discussions, of how to deal with various situations that result in balance challenges, and that is all good.

I refuse to accept that becoming fearful is a normal part of aging.  But falling seems to be all around me.  A co worker's father fell and hit his head last year. His injury may impact the rest of his life.

My spouse fell in October of 2017 and broke his nose, among other injuries.  He needed months of physical therapy.  He was lucky.

My mother in law, who passed away last November, fell a number of times, starting in her 60's.  Eventually, the cumulative injuries led to her loss of independence.

I think we all have stories - ourselves, loved ones, friends.

It shouldn't have to be like this, in your final years.

Experts tell us that fear of falling actually leads to an increased risk of falling.  It doesn't sound right, but it does make sense.  

Now, at times, I could wish for a third leg.  Seniors do have something like that available to them - it's called a cane.  But too many seniors shy away (we learned this in the falling classes) from using a cane, or even a walker, out of shame, or fear of being stared at.  Fear of knowing they are growing old factors into it, too. (And we were also taught that many seniors use a cane that isn't the right length.  How many of them are fitted for a cane? I wonder.)

So how do you deal with the fear?

It's great that our part of upstate New York has programs to help seniors with balance.  Falling has become a major concentration of the medical community here, as we have a high population of seniors in our area.  When I go to the doctor now, I am asked if I had fallen any since my last exam.  That question was never part of the normal pre-exam workup.

But, I feel, it won't do much good without touching on the psychological issues. What good is teaching balance if people have already developed the fear?  How about a class on dealing with that fear and learning to find ways to make it better?

Is there something like that in your community?  I wonder if fear education works.

Day three of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Flowers on Parade #WordlessWednesday #blogboost

We have a New Years Day tradition, here in the United States, that has happened for over 100 years.  It is called the Rose Parade.  

People will line up the night before and camp out just to watch this parade filled with floats, marching bands, and people on horseback.  Each year there is a theme.

What is special about this parade is that the decorated floats must be totally covered in natural materials: flowers, bark, spices, and so forth.

Here are a couple of examples of the beauty of this parade.

No, I wasn't there (Pasadena, California) but this parade is on my bucket list.  These pictures were taken off my TV screen.

Again, think of the hundreds of hours of work it takes to decorate one of these floats, and be amazed.

I'll show more of these pictures on Monday, along with my Music Moves Me weekly post.

Join Esha and other bloggers for #WordlessWednesday.

Day two of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.