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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Trees in the Sunset #ThursdayTreeLove

A number of the tree lovers who participate in Parul's #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday have been pondering variations of the question "do trees have consciousness?"

There is some evidence that it is possible that trees can communicate with each other through their roots.

I wonder, when I see trees bathed in winter golden hour light, if the trees enjoy the sunset as much as we humans do.  Do they feel the light in some way? Did they see the red light show after a rare winter rain?

Perhaps not in the winter, when our deciduous trees in upstate New York hibernate, but maybe they retain some consciousness. 
I wonder if we humans ever will know.

Come back March 14 for more tree loving.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Reflections on Ice #WordlessWednesday

Spring has not yet come to where I live.

My guest photographer's picture speaks to me of the last part of winter.  The snow is mostly melted in the urban area of upstate New York where I live, but out in the woods, where my guest photographer lives, winter (and this reflection in ice) persevere.  No worries for snow lovers, though, because we are going to get another snowstorm today.



New to #WordlessWednesday but would like to participate? Well, here’s how you can join Natasha and Esha. Just follow their three easy steps:
  1. Post a picture on your blog that speaks for itself. It could be from your adventures, experiments, life’s quirky moments, travels or just plain random shots. Or absolutely anything that stoked your being. Or made you think.
  2. Add their badge to your post and add a backlink to our posts.
  3. We’d love it if you read, comment and share all the posts linked.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Blogging from A to Z 2019 Edition

Are you ready for a challenge?

I am, and I will be doing this for..oh, the fourth year. (2016, 2017, 2018, and now 2019.) I'm proud to say I finished each April intact (and hopefully, sane).

It's the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and I'll let Arlee Bird, one of the A to Z team members, explain it in his own words.

" It all began with my post from Saturday March 27, 2010 when I set forth a challenge to all bloggers for the month of April.   Can you post every day except Sundays during this month?  And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?
       Most of the time if you subtract Sundays from April, you then have 26 days--one day for each letter of the alphabet.  When April 1st lands on a Sunday you begin on that day which will be the only Sunday you would post during that month's challenge. [This year, April 1 falls on a Monday.]



        Using this premise, you would start beginning April First with a topic themed on something with the letter A, then on April second another topic with the letter B as the theme, and so on until you finish on April thirtieth with the theme based on the letter Z.  It doesn't even have to be a word--it can be a proper noun, the letter used as a symbol, or the letter itself.  The theme of the day is the letter scheduled for that day."

When Arlee sent out this challenge in 2010, about 100 bloggers responded. 1300 responded in 2011. Every year since, participation has grown.  Now, Arlee needs five team members to help him out.  One of them, John Holton @ The Sound of One Hand Typing (read his blog and find out why that title) participates in the Music Moves Me Monday music meme I participate in, as do several other participants.

If you join in, I guarantee you will have a good time and maybe you'll pick up new bloggers to read or even more followers.

So, on Wednesday, when signups begin, I'll be there.  I'll be there on March 18, when there is a theme reveal.  You don't need a theme but I recommend one, just to help organize you.

I also recommend you think through each post, because this is not a time to be a "pantser" and write posts on the spur of the moment (says this confirmed pantser).

Other than that, you are on your own!  Last year, my theme was "Florida Outside the Theme Parks".  This year - you'll have to wait and find out.  I do intend to continue to participate in the memes I follow now plus A to Z - Music Moves Me on Monday, Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on April 15 (M day), Skywatch Friday, and the Thursday Tree Love of the second and fourth Thursdays in April.  That's a lot, yes - but hopefully, I'll get through it all.

Do you plan to join in the fun?

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Peters #MusicMovesMe

It's time for another #MusicMovesMe. Doesn't it seem like we just had one?

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 - (said humbly) me.


Every other week, we are asked to blog about a musical theme.  The other weeks are free weeks, including today.  I am going to devote my post today to the late Peter Tork of the Monkees, who died on February 21 at the age of 77 of a rare cancer that affects the tongue, and Peter Frampton, who disclosed earlier this week that a degenerative muscle disease will soon be ending his musical career.

Tork was the oldest member of the Monkees, who started out as a made-up band for a TV show and ended up as a true band.  Tork played several instruments, and sang.

How about piano?  Tork plays the intro to one of my favorite Monkees song, Daydream Believer, from 1967.

Banjo? Yes, please, in "You Told Me".


"Your Auntie Grizelda" was the first song to feature Peter Tork on lead vocals.  Here, he performs it live in 2015.

As for Peter Frampton, although he has recorded more recently, I still love his oldie songs, such as Do You Feel Like We Do, here performed live in 2018.

And, also from the recent past, a live performance of "Show Me the Way".

Join me and the other members of #MusicMovesMe next Monday, same time, same place.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Lonely Marker

The battle, off the coast of Virginia of the Union ironclad U.S.S. Monitor vs. the Confederate ironclad Merrimack (not the Merrimac, which was another ship put into service around 1864) was drummed (so to speak) into me in elementary school in New York City, back in the early 1960's.

The wood from which the keel of the Monitor was cut came from this area, now occupied partially by a site called Finch Hollow.

The site of the sawmill where the keel of the U.S.S.Monitor was milled is in walking distance of my home near Johnson City, in upstate New York.  The site is, in the present day, occupied by an enclosed shopping mall, the Oakdale Mall.


Like many malls, the Oakdale Mall has seen better days. It may default on a loan next year, in fact.  Its future is in doubt.

Apparently, back around 1998, there was a historical marker in the Oakdale Mall commemorating the history of the Monitor.

Re Finch Hollow, it still exists.  If you drive north on Oakdale Road (which runs north and south, just to the west of the mall)  from the mall, you will find a nature center on the site. I haven't been there in many years, but I remember going there with my then young son.  I don't remember any commemoration of its role in the Civil War on the site, however.

The Monitor (what is left of it) was discovered in 1973 and parts have been brought to The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA.  The keel, I am sure, is long gone.  Restorers are in a race against time to preserve the remaining metal parts and guns.  I hope to visit the museum although I've been hoping to do that since before the 150th anniversary of the battle on March 9, 2012.

Well, in the deserted part of the Oakdale Mall that I blogged about yesterday, there is something that few people see anymore, because almost all the stores in that section are closed.

Lonely, the Monitor marker is ignored by mall walkers who walk right by it.

If the Oakdale Mall drifts into history, what will happen to that marker?

I never realized my elementary school Civil War studies would lead to something right in my very (so to speak) front yard.

Have you ever explored the history of your area?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

It's Just the Way It Is?

A Saturday morning in a mall in Johnson City, New York.  In center court, children are gathered around a Binghamton University "day", complete with games and educational exhibits.

But just a few hundred feet away....

Crickets.

A little further down, in a part of the mall that still has open stores, at least three businesses are holding going-out-of-business sales.   One is local and is closing its mall location (they say they've been there nearly 50 years).  One is part of a chain going out of business.

As the sounds of children, our future, echo through the mall, a song on the PA system competes with their sounds.

It's Bruce Hornsby and the Range, and their hit from 1986, The Way It Is.

If you listen carefully, the song teaches an important lesson - things will not change unless we work to make them change.  A lot of the song deals with social inequality, but more of it deals with people who warn "that's just the way it is...some things will never change".

Bruce counters with "Ah, but don't you believe it."

We the people have the power, but only if we believe it.

It was true in 1986, and it is just as true in 2019.

My part of upstate New York has so many challenges ahead , include the decline and possible closing of a mall that is more than a collection of stores. 

Just think, several years ago, we nearly voted ourselves out of existence.

Will we rise to the challenge?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Winter Rainbow #SkywatchFriday

All winters are different, where I live near Binghamton, New York.

All winters are the same.

Do those two statements make sense? To me they do.  Winter, where I live, means snow, cold and ice.  Some years we get lots of it.  Some years, we get less. But the weather is mostly the same.

Sometimes, there is a rare day, when weather miracles happen.

Last Friday, the temperature got into the 50's and the sun shone.  Late in the day, though, a cold front came through.

We got rain.  When it ended, we were in the golden hour so beloved by photographers.  So we got this.

And this.  (these colors, by the way, are totally untouched.  Yes, those trees were glowing with the light.  Not only that, some in the area reported a double rainbow.  I must not have been in the right position.)

And this.

Was nature trying to issue an apology in advance for the winter weather still to come?

Join Yogi and the Friday sky watchers at #SkywatchFriday.  If you have a sky photo to share, why not?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Say Goodbye To Montana?

Every time you lose faith in the Internet, the Internet comes through to entertain and enlighten us.
Take Montana, for example.

Montana, for the benefit of my foreign readers, is one of our 50 states, and is one of several states on our border with Canada.

Someone started a petition on change.org to sell Montana to Canada for $1 trillion dollars to "eliminate the national debt".

To everyone's surprise, some 12,245 people (as of the time I wrote this post) have signed this petition. The petition has now gone viral.

Goodbye, Montana?

I haven't been to Montana since 1979.  I only spent one night there, camping with my spouse in a deserted campground (mid September) and admiring the Big Sky Country. In case you've heard of Big Sky Country - it's real.  And I've never seen it since that day.  To me, Montana is far from useless, and I will give the petitioner credit for thinking outside the box (as the saying goes).

People from Montana pride themselves on independent thinking.  I suspect that more than a few of them might not mind joining up with Canada and becoming Canadian citizens.

Sometimes, I think I wouldn't mind becoming a Canadian.  How could I not love a people who paid tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy by "spocking" their five dollar bills?

Although, has anyone thought about how this might affect Bigfoot?

Selling off land is not a new idea.  After all, how do you think we obtained Alaska?  Or, all those states in the Louisiana Purchase? Governments sold territory to us in our younger days and I know people will point out that Russia and France sold us territories and not parts of their actual nations.  But is it possible for the United States to sell off a state?

Our national debt really is no laughing matter.  But, why not lighten things up for a moment?

Would you sign this petition?

Let's have some fun with this, because it seems there is so little to laugh about.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Sundog #WordlessWednesday

Today, a happier post than some I've posted recently.

My spouse was driving.  "Look at that!", he exclaimed.

Right in front of us was a sundog.  The actual sun is to the immediate left of the streetlight and the sundog is right on top of the streetlight furthest to the right.

We see them on occasion but I've never been that successful in taking pictures.  Until now.

Join Esha, The SkyGirl, and other bloggers for #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Plane Train and Automobile

I was at a reunion nobody wanted to happen.

My spouse and I, newly arrived by car, were sitting in a pizza parlor in Pennsylvania. Facing me was a cousin who had flown in from Texas and on my right side was another cousin we had just picked up at a train station.  The fifth member of our merry group wasn't very merry.

We were there because of him.  Or, to be more exact because his wife of nearly 40 years had passed away three days before.  We were in Pennsylvania for the funeral.

We spent over two hours in the pizza parlor, talking.  The flying cousin and the mourning cousin are both in their late 60's.  In fact, they were both born in Brooklyn - born two weeks apart.  They were close when young, but then both their parents moved - over 100 miles apart.  They kept in touch, though.

And then several years before, the flying cousin had moved to Texas, to be closer to his brother in law. 

We all were aging.  The flying cousin's wife had to stay home - she was suffering from a physical issue that would make it difficult for her to fly.

One of us remarked that the only time it seems people of our generation get together anymore wee for weddings and funerals.  We'll swear we were going to get together but then life intervenes.

We talked and talked.  We exchanged jokes and puns.   Texas cousin confided that he was having problems making friends in Texas.  "Why is it so hard to make friends as you age?" he asked.  We all nodded agreement.  We've all had the same problem. 

We (minus the mourning cousin) were staying at the same motel and shared a Chinese takeout dinner together.  We talked and talked at a table in the lobby as we shared lemon chicken, wonton soup, beef and broccoli, and more.  The next morning, we had breakfast, and went to the funeral.  Spouse and I had to leave early because of the weather, and the cousin who came on train was returning home that afternoon.

Quickly we said goodbyes, as snow swirled around us.

We left with an invite from the Texas cousin to visit him and his wife.


Will we, before another reunion nobody wants occurs?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Hot Smoke and Presidents - #MusicMovesMe

It's both Monday and a national holiday today.  And it's 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!!!! <

Today, our guest conductor, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, has chosen as our theme: 
"National Battery Day keywords battery, smoke, alarm, & charge." When I think of smoke alarms, thought, I think of fire, so I've included "fire".


Battery - what comes to mind when I think of battery is fighting.  So I could have looked up a song about batteries but, instead, chose Kung Foo Fighting,by Carl Douglas.

The natural (to me) second song for this set is Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water.
My spouse would never forgive me if I didn't post one of his all time favorite songs:

Hot Smoke and Sassafras, from The Bubble Puppy.

Alarm?  Well, there's the Strawberry Alarm Clock, and Incense and Peppermints.

Fire?  I will raid my favorite musical era, the 80's, for After the Fire's Der Kommissar, although there are so many "Fire" songs out there.  

For "charge", I found this Iggy (Pop) and the Stooges instrumetal, "Master Charge".

But today is also a holiday celebrating our Presidents and that is calling to me equally.   When I was doing some research on President John Tyler (yes, the "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" President, who took office after "Tippecanoe" famously caught pneumonia while giving his inauguration speech and died not long after) I found a You Tube video of "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" by They Might be Giants.

You won't believe this one.

And, unless you are of a certain age, you may not believe this one, either.  It turns out that Richard Nixon was an accomplished musician.

More people may remember Bill Clinton and his saxophone (no jokes or comments, please).  Here, he plays sax with various jazz greats.

It might make an interesting post to check out other historical figures and their love of music.  Too bad there was no way to record music in the day of Thomas Jefferson, for example.

Until next week, then - keep on rocking!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Don't Let Time Get Away Part 2

Yesterday, I started to blog about my mother's side of the family and how I lost contact with them for many years.  In 2015, after I started to create a profile on Ancestry.com, I was contacted by someone who turned out to be a first cousin once removed on my mother's side.  We friended each other on Facebook.

It turned out that her father, my first cousin, had wanted to contact me for years but he had never found me. We exchanged a few emails.

I never pursued the contact, though, as a lot of my time and energy was consumed in caregiving for my mother in law and related issues. 

The day after Thanksgiving, my mother in law died and one of my spouse's cousins celerated his birthday.  He was also a caregiver.  He lived with his 106 year old mother.

Two weeks later, he was dead.  Unexpectedly dead.

Around the time my mother in law started her final decline, I found out that a cousin's wife had brain cancer. She took chemo but it did not help.  Her condition deteriorated rapidly.  She passed away about 10 days ago.

All of this, and having a former co-worker diagnosed with cancer (plus other assorted bad news concerning some people I knew or knew of), made me think. Time gets away from all of us.  I was so guilty of letting time pass.  In being consumed with one part of family, I had totally neglected others.  This had to stop.

Yesterday morning, there was suddenly a post from my first cousin once removed on Facebook. It was a video of the bookstore in her home town and a feature about it on the local TV station.   The last I knew she was working there.

So I DM'd her, telling her we no longer had an independent bookstore where I live (sad but true) and asking if she still worked there (she wasn't in the video).  Within seconds she responded.

I had a brief attack of the "shies" but I fought back.  I had to do this.

I briefly explained why I had not been in touch. I held my breath.  Her father should be close to 90 by now.  If he was still alive, that is.

Had I waited too long?

The responding message came back.

"I know Mom and Dad would love to see you."

It wasn't too late.

Now I have to make it happen.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Don't Let Time Get Away Part 1

In 2015, I blogged about how,  for the second time in my life, I found lost family (or, rather, they  found me).

In February of 2015, I explained that I had not been in touch with anyone on my mother's side of the family in many years (by my count, it must be over 30 years).  

At about the same time, the genealogy website Ancestry.com offered a free weekend.  I took advantage of it, and I started to build a family tree of my mother's side of the family, the ____s.  Of course, my memory being limited, I didn't get that far.  After the weekend ended, I decided I didn't have the time to pursue this (as Ancestry is not a free website, I didn't want to waste my money).

Then I received a generic message in an email from Ancestry.com, with a family name I did not recognize but a message saying that she was working on a family tree of the ____s and thought we might be related.  I clicked to respond, and found I had to join Ancestry even to send a message.
 
A bit later, I received another email:

" Hi, I just spoke to my father (let's call him "N"), who told me that you are first cousins. My mom was thrilled that I had found you. Seems like they had been looking to contact you for years and could not find out where you were. They would love to be able to write or call you."

Her father "N" is vague in my memory.  I did some quick research (what I could get for free, because I could not remember his first name), but I sure knew the last name well. It was the last name of one of my Mom's sisters.  Could I truly have been found by my mother's family by someone, after years of searching?

I discovered that Ancestry was having another free weekend for  Memorial Day weekend, and I had limited access to the site again! I messaged back, with some more information.  And then I heard back.

The answer is yes.  I have been found by someone on my mother's side of the family.

The woman who sent me the message is my first cousin once removed on my mother's side (her grandmother and my mother were sisters).  Her mother, an aunt who had continued contact with me for a few years after I married, passed away (my newly found cousin told me) in 1998.  And now we have each other's email addresses.

I told my spouse and I think he was just as, if even more, excited than I am.

So let me backtrack a little.

When I was 17 years old, I started dating a boy who was in one of my college classes. We were of different religions.  I am Jewish.  My husband is Catholic.  In 1970, that mattered.  It mattered a lot.

Some members of my family were less than thrilled. That sister of my mother's did keep in touch for a few years but then she passed away.   I had no contact with my mother's side of my family for many, many years. 

Times have changed tremendously. 
 
Well....I had a couple of email exchanges with my cousin "N", who sent me family pictures.  In November of 2015, he sent me an email ending "Let's keep in touch".
 
But we didn't.  It was all my fault.  When "N" (who was in his 80's) sent me that email, my mother in law was having a major health crisis.  One thing led to another and I thought of my family from time to time in the resulting haze of caregiving, working full time, and various family dramas, but I never did respond to my lost-then-found family.
 
Until today.
 
Tomorrow....the story continues.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and SkywatchFriday - February 2019

It's Friday and it's February 15 - time to watch the sky with Yogi and his merry crew of skywatchers at Skywatch Friday, while I also participate in a monthly gathering of gardeners each 15th of the month for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

So what's blooming for me near Binghamton, New York in my zone 5b garden this strangest of all winters?  Up and down, up and down the temperature goes, and when it will stop, nobody knows.

Would you believe me if I told you I had outdoor flowers?  Or, let's be slightly technical here - buds opening.  Well, I do.  Probably.  At least they were out earlier this month.

The problem is, I can't show them to you.  They are under several inches of ice and snow right now.  This plant is one of my two Lenten Roses, and it always tries to bloom in January/February.  It doesn't always succeed.  So you'll just have to believe me.

Indoors, it's not a great story, either.  By the time February comes, I'm scraping the bottom of the flower barrel, so to speak, examining every windowsill and my one table with plants under lights hoping for....something to show you.

My one blooming African Violet from the beginning of December is almost done blooming.

My Thanksgiving cactii are between blooms but have a couple of buds.

But my one Phalaenopsis orchid that decides to bloom each year has some buds.

And another Phalaenopsis, which was growing a keiki (baby plant) late last year, is ("ahem") progressing in its "pregnancy" under the watchful eye of some of my other African violets.
February 5th - yesterday's sky was not that photogenic
Meanwhile, for #SkywatchFriday, I offer this reflection in a melting snow puddle.  The white on the path inbetween some blue are clouds, not snow.  There was melting snow and ice yesterday, but the reflections did not cooperate, so I chose a picture from earlier in the month.

And here's a picture of the sky from a few minutes before the reflection picture.

Thank you, Yogi at Skywatch Friday, and Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting these weekly/monthly memes.  Why don't you visit both their site and click on some of the other participating sites?

And thank you, my readers.  In the spirit of Valentine's Day plus one, I love you all. (Well, except for the spammers).

See you next time!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Tree Love #ThursdayTreeLove

It's Valentine's Day, the day of love.

And it is the second Thursday of the month, and time to blog about my love of trees. What to do?

It's no contest.  Today, I combine my two loves, sunset and trees.

February 2nd

There's something about winter sunsets, especially when there is a clear sky, bare trees and snow on the ground.

And some sadness.

Today is  the first anniversary of the horrific school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  

As someone who works in a community that suffered its own mass shooting (ours was in an adult classroom) on April 3, 2009, my heart goes out to the families and students/teachers/first responders who were impacted that day, and will be impacted for the rest of their lives.

I wonder if, one day, a school shooting survivor will become our President.  If so, I hope I live to see it.

Join Parul of Happiness and Food at #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday, and love a tree today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Final Act of Love


I know someone who has been helping to take care of an elderly man, living near her, who has dementia.  Despite the best efforts of those who care for him, it appears this man can no longer live on his own.

That leaves the fate of his blind dog and several cats living on his rural property up in the air.


This brought up a memory I had not thought about for many years.  Years ago, an aunt died suddenly in an accident.  My aunt, who lived alone, had not made provisions for her two cats in the event of her death.

A kindly neighbor took care of the cats in the immediate days after the accident that killed her (which happened out of town) but then, decisions had to be made concerning the cats.  Ironically, my aunt had done volunteer work at an animal shelter local to her.  And her grown children lived hundreds (in one case, thousands) of miles away.  But she never realized she needed to spell out her wishes.

I've been blogging recently about how my spouse and I hadn't updated our will in many years. We are between pets, but we may not have made provisions for pets, either.  We didn't the last time we updated our will, and we had a pet then.

Yikes.

Have you made provisions for your pets in case of your death?  If you (heaven forbid!) died suddenly tomorrow, do you know who would care for the pet?  Or, what happens if you are in an accident and are incapacitated?  Or are diagnosed with a serious illness?  If you have, do you have that information in your wallet? 

Does that person know he or she will be asked to take that responsibility on?

There are a lot of things to think about. 

For pet owners, one of them is a final act of love.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Different President

Today, February 12, would have been celebrated in my youth as the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.  We now have a combined holiday (more on that next week) but I am reminded of a post from 2012 about a different President.

Back then, I blogged about the Amazing Secret of Sherwood Forest.  So let us consider, for a few minutes, another president of the 19th century, John Tyler.

No, the amazing secret of Sherwood Forest doesn't have anything to do with Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Although it would have been interesting to watch them fight in the Civil War, dressed in their bright green clothes and using their longbows and clubs to fight....well, I don't know if they would have sided with the Union or the Confederates.  But Friar Tuck would have been quite the sight.

No, I am talking about Sherwood Forest Plantation, in Virginia, which became a bit of an Internet sensation in 2012 because of a man who lived there. His name is Harrison Tyler, and he happens to be the grandson of President John Tyler, a U.S. President who served from 1841 to 1845.

John Tyler was born in 1790.  In other words, a man born in 1790 has two living grandsons.

(And yes, in 2019, they are both still alive and in their 90's, from what I can find. Call it more Living History or Human Wormholes).

So, putting Harrison Tyler aside, what is so fascinating about President John Tyler?

Although John Tyler's administration is interesting from an aspect of studying pre-Civil War history, his actions after states started to secede is what holds fascination for me.

A Peace Conference was held in February 1861 to reach a compromise and enable the Union to continue.  It was hoped a settlement could be reached before Lincoln took office in March of 1861. (unlike today, Presidents in that era took office on March 4 and not January 20).  John Tyler came from his home at Sherwood Forest Plantation to attend.

John Tyler, sent by his native Virginia, was the head of this conference.  It did not succeed, although a Constitutional amendment was proposed. 

After the failure of the Peace Conference, Tyler sided with the Confederacy, and was a delegate from Virginia to the  Provisional Confederate Congress.  When elections to the First Confederate Congress were held in 1861, Tyler was elected to their Congress but died before he took office.

Tyler is buried in Richmond, VA near the grave of President James Monroe.  As he was in rebellion his death was not officially mourned by the Union.  On the other hand, the Confederacy declared him a hero.  A grand funeral was held in his honor.  I've visited the James Monroe grave, but somehow missed Tyler.  Perhaps, if I am in Richmond again, I'll remember.

One more thing: if not for a twist of fate, we may have better known Tyler as a musician.


Which may lead me to an interesting Music Moves Me one Monday.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Fantastic the Music #MusicMoves Me

It's Monday and guess what time it is?  Fellow music lovers, 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. 
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This week is a "free" week and I feature some songs that "sang to me" this past week.

God Only Knows - The Beach Boys.  Paul McCartney has said some very nice things about this song.

Rockin' Robin - the cover by the Jackson Five.

What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy - Sir Elton John

Another by Sir Elton - Someone Saved My Life Tonight.

BONUS Track (if you have about 11 minutes): Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.

Why not visit the other Music Moves Me bloggers and see what they have posted today?  Or, better yet, join us ONLY MUSIC POSTS, PLEASE, AS WE NEED MUSIC TO GET THROUGH OUR MONDAYS.

Rock with you next Monday!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Sign

It all started with a sign. 

In 2006, I rode the Auto Train for the first time. I traveled with my family from northern Virginia to just north of Orlando, Florida one August.  (I've made this train trip south several more times now, the most recent trip being about three weeks ago.)

I've never slept well on the Auto Train, and something happened on that first trip that became a tradition.

I woke up from a fitful sleep to realize we were traveling through a city.  We were passing under an Interstate, and some large billboards were visible.  One billboard, lit up, advertised "The Crab Shack. Tybee Island."

I didn't have Internet access and had never heard of Tybee Island. But I researched it as soon as I could and found it was an island close to Savannah, Georgia.

The second trip, 2009:  I woke up from a fitful sleep, and as my spouse softly snored next to me, I peeked out of the window and saw the very same sign.

It was a sign, that sign!  I was being told to eat at the Crab Shack.  We were supposed to drive through Savannah on the way home but had car trouble, and had to take the Auto Train home.  We swore we would visit Savannah and we did (in 2011) but we never got to eat at the Crab Shack.

On our third trip, in March 2013, we both woke up as we were traveling through Savannah, and my spouse spotted the sign even before I did.  Marveling at this huge (to our sleep-bleary eyes) sign, we decided that yes, we would go to the Crab Shack.  We would fill in this hole in our travels on the way back (by car, this time).

So on March 12, 2013, we filled in the hole, and I blogged a while back about it.
From the outside, it looks a bit like a "tourist trap".  But the food (noting I do not get compensated for this or any other review) was very good.
Inside, I noticed the restaurant had open walls to the outside - with only a screen between diners and the great outdoors.  If only I could live in a place like that, said my winter-starved inner voice.
Not so fast, said reality, as I saw movement outside the screened in wall.  Can you see what I saw?

After lunch we went outside, to see some of the 78 alligators the Crab Shack owns. These are all domestic, as in "born in captivity".  The Shack does not tolerate any abuse of the gators by customers, but they were easily accessible (if someone dared) and I hope they have good lives.
Up close, they almost look fake - but they certainly were not fake.

Postscript - our next trip to Florida was in January of 2018.  We took the Auto Train both ways.  On the way south, we never saw the sign.  Returning home, we did.  It was a different sign, but we think it was in the same place.  Seeing that sign gave us so much comfort.

But this past January (2019) - no sign, either way.

So I did what any blogger would do.  I emailed the restaurant.

And the next day I received a response!  I hope Stephanie doesn't mind me quoting from the email.

"Thank you for contacting us!  We are happy to hear that our billboard is so eye-catching to you, and that you have so many fond memories of dining with us!  Rest assured, our billboard is still there - perhaps it was down at the time of your last travel for replacement.  The elements can be quite harsh on the vinyl used on the billboards and they do occasionally need to be updated and replaced.  Be sure to look for it on your next trip, and we look forward to your next visit here with us on Tybee Island!" (along with this was an offer to visit their website and see a shipping special they had for a special Valentine's Day meal.)

Stephanie, you bet we will be back!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Next Journey

Around 11pm on February 7, my cousin's wife took her last breath.

I like to think that she is on a new journey.  But she left family and friends who mourned her, including a husband and son who loved her very much.

Another life cut short by cancer.

Something that gives me comfort in bad times are sunrises and sunsets. Perhaps, even now, she rides towards the sunrise, free from the paralysis her brain tumor inflicted on her, marveling at the sights unfolding before her.

At least, I hope so.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Groundhog Sunset - #SkywatchFriday

Can there be such a thing as too many sunsets?

Well, I've been on a photography streak lately, because there have been so many lovely sunrises and sunsets, and it was hard to pick one.

I finally decided on our upstate New York sunset of Groundhog Day, February 2.
The groundhog declared an early spring, and with that beautiful blue sky, no wonder.
As the sunset, the color show began.
The blue fades.

I love how the sky can change in just a matter of minutes.

You know how this works.  Join Yogi and the other bloggers who watch the sky each Friday on #SkywatchFriday.  You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

My Five Month WWversity

Many people of a "certain age" (and my age has two "sixes" in it, so I certainly qualify) struggle with weight.  I am no exception.


In November of 2012, after a lot of agonizing, I joined  Weight Watchers,which, last year, changed its name to "WW".  I was overweight, on the verge of obesity, and suffering from a number of weight related issues when I signed up. 

I have a lot to thank Weight Watchers/WW for.  Their program taught me how to eat, the basics of portion control, and the need to journal your weight journey.  I learned I was a good person and deserved good health.   I learned that learning to eat correctly is a lifetime commitment when you have a weight issue..  Their weekly meetings gave me encouragement.  If I slipped up, I knew I could get back on track.  And, when the at-work meeting I went to was discontinued, I continued to lose weight using the website and app.  It took a year, but I met my goal.  I lost 43 pounds and dropped four dress sizes.   Macy's and Kohl's must have cheered me on.

Of course, all this costs money. For that payment, you get support - as much as you need.  Meetings (which, if you have a good group leader, are wonderful).  Weekly (private) weigh ins.  Apps.  Websites.  Tools.  In my case, once my at work program ceased to exist (not enough participation) I continued to subscribe to the website and iPhone app, and met my weight goal.

In October of 2015, billionaire entertainer, businesswoman and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey took a 10% stake in Weight Watchers, joined the Board of Directors and became a consultant.  If you have heard of Oprah, you know she has struggled with weight a lot of her life - gaining, losing, gaining, losing, with her public watching intently.  I give her a lot of credit for making her weight journey public.

Right after that, Weight Watchers had one of their periodic reboots.  Every several years, they change their program.  Existing members must decide if they want to continue what has worked for them, or embraced the new program.  For me and others I've read, the rollout was uneven.  Seeing Oprah's face on what seemed to be every issue of the Weight Watchers magazine was a turnoff.  I don't buy things just because a celebrity endorses them.

The "opportunity" to participate (with other members) in a phone call with Oprah was the last straw. 

In January of 2016 I quit Weight Watchers.

Surprise.  The weight came creeping back.  Not all of it, but almost 20 pounds worth.  I was back to being considered pre-diabetic.  My right knee hurt, as did my wardrobe. 

Enough was enough.  I was a caregiver for my elderly mother in law, who, by then, was in a nursing home with multiple health issues, and I was not taking care of myself.  Stress eating was taking its toll.

So, in September of 2018, I swallowed my pride and rejoined what is now WW.

Today, I reached the "lost 10 pounds" mark.  Yes, it took that long. I've seesawed up and down, but my direction has been "down".  I am starting to fit into clothes that I haven't fit into for two or three years.  Call it a happy"WWversity" almost at my five month mark.

But the happy news is that my blood sugar readings are within normal limits again.  My Dad was diabetic (and was never overweight, for whatever that is worth) and I've seen firsthand what diabetes can do.  A cousin of my spouse's had diabetes and I know it contributed to his declining health and somewhat unexpected death in December.

So, today, I do have something to celebrate, although the At Work program may be ending for me in March.  But I know I can do it on my own because I did it in 2013.

Now, the challenge will be, once again, to keep it off.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Old Age is a Privilege

Last night, I found out that my cousin's wife, whom I had blogged about shortly after my last visit to her,  may be approaching her final days.

She will never have the chance to become a senior citizen, a status I was granted simply (simply?) by living past age 65.

I am convinced, as arduous as old age can be, that being granted old age is a privilege - a privilege not all of us are granted.

I remember a friend, now deceased, telling me "the best part of waking up is waking up".

I feel now, that major decisions in my life are ahead.  I still work full time.  Do I want to keep doing that, knowing that life can hand you its pink slip at any time? How long do I want to take with this decision?

I'm finding that the snowbirding I am interested in is harder to research than I dreamed - perhaps a blog post on that process is forthcoming.

I am moving forward with planning in the meantime- we have an appointment with an attorney to update our important documents (will, powers of attorney, etc.) and recently had an important conversation with our grown son.

I had a long conversation last night with the cousin who is our family's contact with my cousin whose wife is in that hospice.

All we can do is make plans, and hope that life does not laugh at them.  And, I will continue to crochet, although I suspect that the lap blanket that my mother in law didn't live to see completed (and nor may my cousin's wife) will end up with my cousin.  If he doesn't want it, we will find a good home for it.

I'll keep you updated on the progress of my planning, during what may turn out to be an interesting year in my life.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

When We We All Win

There is a small part of Sunday's Super Bowl that won my heart.

"When everyone plays, we all win".

I learned about disabilities (indirectly) early in life.  My father suffered a traumatic brain injury during his service in World War II.  He was discharged, left to find his own way as best he could in a world that was hostile to those with disabilities.  He did make his way, but help would have made his life a lot easier.

My autistic brother in law was also born into that same world of the 40's and 50's, and, through people I've met because of him, I've learned that what many with disabilities are looking for is simply the same chances that everyone is supposed to have in our country.  They want friends.  They want to participate in the activities of their peers, including playing of games. They want a job that pays enough for them to live independently.

Of course, a game controller can't bring these children a total level playing field in life.  But it's a start.

In today's world, the life of those with disabilities can still be harsh.  So anything that "levels the playing field"should be applauded.

I wish the best to the children and their families featured in this video.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mail Soup and Vacuum #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and guess what time it is?  Fellow music lovers, 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 music to get through Mondays) and you can join in on the music fun!

During the month of February, our conductor Cathy of Curious as a Cathy is picking our themes, and today she picked a good one:   "The National Day calendar inspires song picks using these key words:  MAIL, SOUP and VACUUM."  Nothing like a little challenge!

I am going to start with soup, because my spouse wanted me to feature "Talk Soup" by "Weird Al" Yankovic.  We are both big Weird Al fans and we are freezing here in New York State.

So, spouse here you go.


Nine Bowls of Soup - They Might be Giants, an alternative rock duo formed in 1982.  They have had great success with children's songs, in addition to several charted rock hits (I am partial to "Birdhouse in your Soul")

As far as "mail", how about letters?

The most obvious one is Elvis Presley's "Return to Sender".

And Pat Boone's "Love Letters in the Sand".

But vacuum?  Well, there's "Love in a Vacuum" by 'Til Tuesday.

But thinking of vacuum, I also think of space, and from there "Space Oddity" by David Bowie.

So, this theme brought me to various places today - what about you?

Join us again next Monday for another episode of Music Moves Me!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Healthy Super Bowl!

For those of my readers not in the United States, a brief explanation.  Super Bowl Sunday (today) is the final, championship game of our football (meaning American football, not football meaning soccer -oh, never mind) season. People gather to drink lots of beer, eat lots of snacks, gorge on mass quantities of fried chicken wings with caloric sauces, and watch commercials that cost millions of dollars.  And, somewhere in there, there is a sports match and a half time show featuring celebrity singers.

"Healthy" and "Super Bowl" normally do not go together. And, if you aren't careful, "delicious" and "healthy" variations of high fat items do not go together, either.

The first time we tried to make healthy snacks, it was New Years Eve, 2012, I was new to Weight Watchers and much of the food my spouse made was inedible.  Dry. Tasteless  Ugh. We decided that, in the future, we would not try to do "healthy" makeovers of fatty food, but rather, forge our own trail.  I've repeated this post several times, updating it each year, so here goes:

So, we have (no pun intended) lightened up a bit.  It's a splurge day.

We will have guacamole, although we won't make it in this device.  It is so simple - peel ripe avocadoes, mash (we like ours a little chunky), add chopped sweet pepper (orange, yellow, red), garlic, scallions, a little salt, a touch of homemade ground chili pepper (my spouse's own secret mix, so I can't tell you) and a touch of lime juice. Just don't eat too much.  Easier said than done.

We serve with chips, one of our splurges.  Or, make your own baked ones - take fresh corn tortillas, cut into triangles (pizza cutter works great for this), spread on cookie sheet, bake at 400 degrees F until they start to turn light brown.  (Celsius folks, you are on your own-sorry.)

Salsa makes a wonderful dip and is point free. It's so easy to make, too, if you have good fresh tomatoes available. If not, use canned dice tomatoes (preferably fire roasted diced tomatoes).  Simply chop up ripe fresh tomatoes or use the canned ones, combine with chopped pepper and onions, season with cilantro, lime juice, salt to taste, jalapenos if you like it spicy.  Or, buy it pre-made in the refrigerated section of your market.

We don't bother with low fat versions of high fat dips - we are not fans of fat free mayonnaise or fat free sour cream.  You can substitute fat free Greek yogurt with a touch of lime juice (for zing) for sour cream, and on the current WW program (what Weight Watchers is called now), fat free plain Greek yogurt and beans are point free.  An easy dip can be made with the fat free yogurt, a can of black beans, some cilantro, salsa, just blending it to consistency.  Add jalapenos for spice.

We also plan to make turkey chili - chicken and turkey breast are also point free on the current program.  Sadly, avocadoes still have points (SmartPoints, in the current system).

I don't think I'll even miss the fried, gloppy wings.  My pocketbook will thank us, too.



Do you make your own snacks?