Saturday, June 23, 2018

Privet Memories - Sustainable Saturday

I grew up in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, in a city housing project.

All green spaces in the project were carefully fenced away behind chain link fences.  We children would get into trouble with the maintenance men who cared for the project if we climbed the fences and dared to play in the greenery.  So, of course, we did it as often as possible.
The boys would catch bees in glass jars.  That's not something we girls really got into.  Instead, we would look for ladybugs to catch.

The smell of privet, for me, is the smell of late spring and early summer.  The scent would attract the bees.

It was warm, and humid, and privet hedges bloomed wherever there were houses in the Bronx.

When I smell privet in my neighborhood near Binghamton, New York, the scent brings me back over 50 years in a matter of seconds.  I am a little girl once again, climbing chain link fences while we look out for the project maintenance men, so my playmates and I could have a few minutes of interaction with nature.  My arthritis and my back issues melt away, bringing me back to a time when spring stretched on forever, summer vacation from school beckoned, and the troubles of adult life were unknown.


Sometimes, I wish those times could stretch on forever.  A time seemingly without care.

Scent and memory, so intertwined. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Fifteen Fifteen #SkywatchFriday

Pictures taken right after sunset, where I live in upstate New York, on June 21.
Today, our daylight length was fifteen hours and fifteen minutes.
Not directly west, but it was still pretty.

Looking up.

One more angle.

Now, it's time for the downward march of daylength until we reach the winter solstice.

If you were interested in the Fairbanks, Alaska midnight sun game I blogged about yesterday (which just concluded a few moments ago - after all, Fairbanks is four hours behind us here in New York State) Major League Baseball has an extensive post on this year's events.  Check out the sky shots at 12:01 am on June 21.

Join Yogi and other bloggers who watch the sky (on the first Friday of summer and other Fridays) at #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Throwback Thursday - Baseball Under the Midnight Sun

In 2009, my first year of blogging, I blogged about my fascination with sunsets and the midnight sun.  I am repeating the post today, with some updates and edits, to celebrate the first day of summer.
Tennessee Sunset from my Guest Photographer's Sister
When I was growing up in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, I used to have dreams about living in a place where the sun never set. In these dreams, sometimes the sun would set, but it would be very late at night. I would gaze out my window at 11pm (in my dream) and it would still be light. Sometimes, though, it was dark all the time. I would look at the stars, and they were different. This would, for some reason, frighten me.

When I found out that there were, indeed places which had 24 hours of light in the summer and 24 hours of dark in the winter, I began to wonder about what it would truly be like to see the sun at midnight, or experience total darkness.

As an adult, I haven't had that opportunity (either way) except through the Internet.

In 2008, through a website called Eternal Sunset (which appears no longer to exist), I tracked a location in Antarctica and a location in Fairbanks, Alaska for an entire year. However, neither location has the true 24 hour swing - Fairbanks, for example, has a maximum daylight time of 21 hrs and 45 minutes (approximately.) They do have 24 hour "light"on the day of the summer solstice but the sun does set.

For a while, I would visit an actual 24 hour web cam location - in Norway. Svalbard Longyearbyen, to be exact.  In June of 2009, as I wrote this post, it was almost midnight. The sun was right on the horizon. The web cam was pointed at it. It was 28 degrees above zero F, with snow on the ground, and several people on snowmobiles were clearly visible.

What is it like to live there?  It made me wonder.

There are photos of this area, and stunning would not begin to describe it. What does the person who runs this website do for a living? Does he sleep at all during the arctic day? Has he ever been to more temperate climes? If so do our days and nights seem weird to him?

Meanwhile, in Fairbanks, they will hold their 113th Midnight baseball game tonight. According to the Alaska Goldpanners (Fairbanks) website, the first game was held in 1906, but several times there was more than one game in a year.

This is a video of the 2016 game, which ended at 12:18 am.  If you forward to 3:58 in the video (as the game ends), you will see the setting sun. 

What a thrill.

If you are a true baseball fan, you can  watch several minutes of a young Tom Seaver (Hall of Fame pitcher) pitching the 1965 Midnight Sun game. 

This annual late night game is played in its entirety without artificial lighting and there is a special Midnight pitch.  Tom Seaver is wearing a red uniform in this footage - the quality, by the way, is terrible.

One day, I may  make a dream come true, and go to that game.  But until then, I will continue to watch sunsets in my native New York State.  Today, the sun will set for us at 8:43 pm.

Have you ever seen the Midnight Sun?

Time to greet summer - and, perhaps, Play Ball!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Spying on Alaska

I love the golden light just before sunset, where I live in upstate New York.  Spring light can be so beautiful, too, as the days get longer and longer.

But now the days have become as long as they will get.  It's so hard to believe that, as we enter summer, the daylength will start its shrinkage back to the first day of winter.

Today, I gazed upon a webcam in Fairbanks, Alaska.  In their local time, it was about 2:05 am.  The sky was pink with a sunrise - or, was it a sunset?  Up there, I suppose it barely matters - it is light enough to see 24 hours a day right now, although the sun does set - sort of.

The midnight sun has always fascinated me.  You can find more Alaska webcams here and do your own looking at the midnight sun.

One day, I would love to see it in person.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Throwback Tuesday - The Full Measure of Courage

Today, my childhood best friend would have turned 66 years old.  But she is not here to celebrate with me.

This is from a post from the summer of 2013, when my friend was a couple of years into her fight for health.

My friend sent an email to friends and family:
I brought the fruits of my knit/crochet project to the pediatric oncology department today. Grand total was 2 baby blankets 7 hat scarf sets, 2 plain hats, and 9 infant/toddler hats. The nurses were so excited and happy. Some good came out of some bad. I hope some children like the things I made while waiting.
As one of my other friends from childhood said "cancer and children should never be in the same sentence."

At the time I wrote this post, my friend's husband was battling cancer alongside of her. Her spouse had to spend a lot of time in doctor's offices to be treated for a medical condition.   My friend normally came with  him and waited for him while he has his treatment - sometimes waiting an hour (or even more).

Out of boredom, she started to do her needlework while waiting.

She did beautiful crocheting and knitting work - and, recently, has been working on projects for pediatric oncology patients.

I crochet but I do not knit, and I wanted to show off her work because I know quality work when I see it.   Again, this is from 2013:

A crocheted blanket and some knit hats.
Another crocheted blanket.
And finally, some hats and scarves.

We have the cliche "lemons out of lemonade" - this is about as lemony as you can get.

And now she's gone - three years gone, in September.  In her last two years, she showed the full measure of courage, but she fought a foe that was strong, and unrelenting.   Her memory lives on in those of us who miss her.  On days like today, especially - what would have been her birthday - I miss her.  She was a teacher, and she taught me so much.

One day, perhaps, I will understand why she was taken from us too soon.

One day, perhaps, no one will know the meaning of the word "cancer".

Monday, June 18, 2018

TV and Movie Themes of the 50's and 60's #MusicMovesMe

Music Lovers, it is time for some Nostalgia!  More specifically, the bloggers of #MusicMovesMe, for your pleasure, are blogging today about the movie or TV themes of their childhoods.

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers?  We ride on a weekly train of music and we are headed by our head Engineer XmasDolly.  Her co-conductors are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice, (who right now is visiting when she can ) and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   Also, co-conducting is  Cathy from Curious as a Cathy   And, finally, last but not least - little ol' me.  And, for the next few months, we will also have guest conductors.  Go to Xmas Dolly's site, get the complete list, and you can find out how you could guest conduct next year.

Today, I am the guest conductor and I am bringing you TV and movie themes from my childhood in the 1950's and 60's.

In my childhood, TV game shows were big.  One of the biggest one was a show called the Match Game.  It took its theme from an instrumental called A Swingin' Safari by Bert Kaempfert and His Orchestra, from 1962. I could wish for more instrumentals today.  Thank you for fellow participant in Music Moves Me John Holton for digging this one up for me.

Prime time cartoons were also big in the early 1960's.  Does anyone out there remember Bugs Bunny's This is It?  And oh, what heights we'll hit....

How about a glimpse into the future, early 1960's style, from The Jetsons?  Not exactly accurate, it turns out.  But TV Cartoons could take up a blog post of their very own, so onward.

A popular meme during the early 1960's was the TV Doctor. The theme song of Dr. Kildare (played by Richard Chamberlain) was so haunting to me - here, Richard Chamberlain sings the theme, called Three Starts Will Shine.  So swoon-worthy, sigh........

And then there was the meme of the TV Lawyer.  Perhaps the most famous of them was Raymond Burr, as Perry Mason.  Here's his theme.

Eddie Albert and Zsa Zsa Gabor sing Green Acres.

Switching to movies - from 1960, the theme from Exodus, as composed by Ernest Gold.  A version by Ferrante and Teicher went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960.

The original James Bond theme.  007 rules!

How about a little song and dance from the year I was born (although technically, I wasn't born yet when this movie came out) - from 1952, Gene Kelly dances and sings in "Singin' in the Rain".

I will close with this 1966 theme song from the movie Georgy Girl - sung by The Seekers.

I hope I helped to make your Monday airy and light.  Have a wonderful week!  And be sure to visit the other Music Moves Me blogs for musical treats.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father 2018

This is a post I repeat almost every Father's Day, with some edits.

It is July of 1914.  The world is on the brink of World War I, going through a series of crises, but no one knows how close to war the world is yet.  My father is too young to know.  He certainly doesn't know that the life expectancy for a male born in 1914 is only 52 years.  Or that the leading causes of death in 1914 included tuberculosis, influenza, and diarrhea.  Or that his one daughter would use something called the "Internet" one day to blog, and to pay tribute to him.

My father was born and grew up in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood called Brownsville.  My grandfather owned a candy store, which he ran with the help of his wife, my grandmother, and their six children.

In the 1930's, my father's mother died, from complications of high blood pressure, an illness so easily treated today.  My father ended up quitting high school after two years.

He doesn't have too much of an Internet presence, my father, but there are a couple of things I can find.  I looked at his record in the 1940 census, still living at home with his father and several siblings.  1942, his enlistment record in the United States Army, where his term of enlistment was for the duration of World War II "plus six months", show him as "single with dependents". I suspect one of the dependents was his younger brother, the only sibling still alive today.  He and two of his sisters helped to raise my uncle after my grandmother died.

The military experience shaped his life.  For the first time, he was out of Brooklyn. He saw the South.  He saw India.  He would sometimes tell me stories about his time in India as bedtime stories.

My father didn't make it to the end of the war.  He suffered a head injury and was flown back to the States.  He was given an honorable discharge but suffered the aftereffects of that injury for the rest of his life.

After the war, my father married.  Today, in fact, would have been their wedding anniversary.

 When I was 12, my mother died, and my father raised me to adulthood as a single father in his Bronx apartment in a city housing project.

When his last sister died, in the mid 2000's, the funeral procession didn't go directly to the cemetery.  It wound through Brooklyn, going through some neighborhoods before it got on the highway. I wondered where we were going and why.  It didn't occur to me at the time that we were going near to where where she, and my father, had grown up (which is now in a slum). One final tribute.  My father had died almost twenty years before.  I found that out afterwards.

I owe a lot to my father and the simple, everyday lessons he taught me.  He did what he could the best he knew how. He ended his life in Brooklyn, in the same facility where his own father spent his last days.

My love of history, which love I share with my late father, got me to thinking how much our world has changed in the 104 years since my father was born.

And, how much the world has stayed the same.

Happy Father's Day, wherever you are, Dad.