Saturday, October 23, 2021

Boo for Halloween Continued

Wednesday, I blogged about Broome County, New York's annual fall Scarecrow contest in Binghamton's Otsiningo Park. 

Park goers get to vote for their favorites through tomorrow, October 24.  I took a lot of pictures (not of all the entrants - there are over 40 this year, I believe).  Let's see if we can guess who won.

A lot of the entries are non profits or local organizations.

A recycled can and bottle grasshopper scarecrow - I would say, an imaginative entry.

The Pumpkin Spice girls.  Cute.

I think we can all agree we need to spread more kindness.

What's a spiedie, the T-shirts ask.  Here's the answer.
Last one for today.
My Wednesday post, if you want to see more entries.

More next week.

Is there a similar contest where you live?

Friday, October 22, 2021

October Reflections and Birds #SkywatchFriday

Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary on the border between Dryden and Ithaca, New York has some 220 acres of woods and wetlands which are easy to hike-flat and well kept. Owned by Cornell University, this sanctuary is part of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, owned by Cornell University.  This birding hotspot is free to the public and includes a wonderful Visitors Center that just reopened after having been closed since COVID-19 arrived.

Wednesday, spouse and I visited Sapsucker Woods to do some hiking and birding. A vast variety of birds can be seen there, including the once uncommon (to our area) yellow bellied sapsucker. (Thanks to climate change, you can see these at the site, along with several other woodpeckers.) The day started out crisp (and warmer than usual - we are back to our unseasonable warm weather).  The sky was clear blue, although it didn't stay that way for long.

It was a wonderful location to engage in some reflection photography.

There are several ponds on the trails. The trees are only now starting to change color.

Reflection in one of the wetlands.

Some of the many trees felled by beavers; you can see some other tree reflections in the water.

A tree that has almost completely lost its leaves - it might be a maple that caught a disease common this wet year to maples.  Sadly, there was also a lot of evidence of dead ash trees, which are succumbing to a blight.  I was trying to get a picture of a downy woodpecker working this tree but I didn't succeed.

You won't see any bird pictures - we were too busy enjoying the hike.

We saw various birds - Canada geese, black capped chickadees, downy woodpeckers, a woodpecker we think may have been a hairy woodpecker, blue jays, and more, while hiking the trails.  It was such a beautiful day.

Cayuga Lake, on the way home.

Joining up with Yogi and other skywatchers at #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Isn't Telephone Nostalgia Wonderful?

Part of the fun of blogging, especially if the blogger is extremely introverted, is the chance to connect with readers and - yes, to learn from them.  Another part of the joy of blogging is the chance to engage in nostalgia.

I learn a lot from my readers, perhaps more than they learn from me.

Tuesday's post was a learning experience.  It was also a surprise  When I was writing it, I said to myself, "No one is going to be interested in this."  Was I ever wrong.

Sometimes, the posts that I don't think will generate much interest are my most successful ones. 

What's a blogging success, after all?  Isn't it about exploring the connections we have with each other?  Sharing common experiences, and ones one generation may have experienced, but not everyone?

Tuesday's post talked about how I had dialed (not that I physically dial anything, anymore) phone numbers in a certain way for my entire life, and how that was about to change.

Turns out many of my readers were already inputting phone numbers the new (to me) way, and had been for years.  Lesson learned!  But not only that: 

One of my readers mentioned ring down phones.  I had never heard of this.  I learned something from that, and now, you can, too (although I'm not 100% sure that this is what my reader meant.).

That same commenter (thank you!) mentioned how we tell Siri now to call someone (if we have an iPhone.)  That reminds me, I can remember my childhood phone number (which started with two letters) so well.  But I sometimes forget my cell phone number.  I still haven't learned my spouse's cell phone number.  I just ask Siri or go to my contact list, after all.  How about you?

One of my readers mentioned telephone party lines.  I don't remember ever having a party line in my childhood Bronx apartment, but they existed. In fact, my original draft post devoted a paragraph to party lines.  I took it out because I didn't think anyone would care.  Wrong! (Hint, it's not how we held parties in the old, prehistoric days).

Writing this post  has generated even more memories.  If you want to dial N for Nostalgia, this article will do it for you. Turns out those old fashioned phones had a number of adventages.

Remember dialing phone numbers with a rotary dial?  It took a bit to learn how to dial, and wrong numbers were a lot more common than they are today.  You can still buy phones with dials, by the way, in case you want to go retro.  But the system that replaced rotary dialing was actually introduced in 1962.  Some automated systems will still ask you "if you have a touch tone phone, press 1 now", although so many young adults use cell phones and have to use a virtual touch tone keyboard.

One of my aunts, who died nearly 20 years ago, had a rotary wall phone in her kitchen until the day she died.  She also declined to use cell phones.  Her sons had bought her one, and, after her death, they found it in the trunk of her car.

Do you remember dial tones? (the tone that told you the line was available to make a call)?  I was amazed to discover that the dial tone was invented in 1908.  Now, there are a couple of generations of people who may have never heard that common sound of my youth and most of my adulthood.

Remember when you practically needed a bank loan to make a long distance phone call? (One of my readers brought that up). 

 Remember person-to-person calling and how you could circumvent the huge long distance charges?   This GEICO ad might remind you.

I could go on.

Isn't nostalgia a wonderful thing?

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Boo for Halloween #WordlessWednesday


Every October, Broome County sponsors a Scarecrow contest in Otsiningo Park.  A lot of the entrants are non profits.

Park goers get to vote for their favorites through October 24.  I took a lot of pictures (not of all the entrants - there are over 40 this year, I believe).  Let's see if we can guess who won.

Come back again Saturday for more contestants.

A spooky picnic? 

One of my favorite candies.

This was one of my favorites.

This one is a bit creepy, just because the favorite giraffe is probably the late (as in "no longer with us") April of Internet fame. Some of you may remember how her giving birth became an Internet sensation of 2017.  She spent her last few years at Animal Adventure, about 20 minutes from Otsiningo Park.  She passed on earlier this year.


Here's where you can vote.


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Saying Goodbye to Seven Digit Dialing

Years ago, spouse and I visited a rural telephone museum in Georgia. Ever since then, I've had a bit of a fascination with older forms of communication.  Please bear with me here, because there's some important information here if you live in the United States.

Some history:

Once upon a time, in the United States, phone numbers had four digits. This was back in the day (and you predate me if you remember those days) when operators had to manually complete the phone call for you. You can still see these four digit numbers in old advertisements. They phased this out nationwide between 1947 and 1951, (earlier in some places) when "exchanges" were introduced nationwide. 

This was so dialing could replace the ever present operator except when you called the operator (by dialing "zero") on purpose.  (This explanation is an oversimplification, and if you care, here's a more detailed explanation.)

These changes must have been painful for adults, I now realize.

I  remember when exchanges were names, as you can hear from this Glenn Miller classic, PEnnsylvania 6-5000.   (I love it when his orchestra yells out "Pennsylvania 6-5 oh oh oh").  This would have been dialed (remember dialing?) PE6-5000.  Eventually, the exchange names became numbers (the first two letters mapped to numbers) and PE6-5000 became 736-5000. (No, please, don't dial it to see what happens!)

"Yukon", as another example, became the exchange"98" and a third digit. That matters now for a lot of people.

Still with me?

At this time, all local U.S. phone numbers have seven digits, for example, 555-1212. You also have a three digit area code.  If you call a number outside your area code, you dial the area code first.  If you are making a local call, you don't dial it (although there are some exceptions.)

There are about 325 area codes in the United States, representing different areas of the country.  Sometimes, bigger cities have more than one area code.  New York City residents cope with six area codes. 

Finally, there are some three digit nationwide numbers, such as 911. Americans use 911 to call our emergency services - police, fire and ambulances (ONLY in case of emergency). We're also going to get another three digit number next year, 988.  It's for a good cause, but it's going to be an adjustment.

Fast forward now to July 22, 2022, the day the United States will adopt the three digits "988" as the nationwide number for the suicide prevention hotline.

But what about all those people in areas with 988 exchanges? If they call a number beginning with 988 won't there be a problem?

Well, yes.

So, starting on October 24 (that's next week, dear readers), for anyone in an area code which has a 988 exchange, we will have to dial an area code before all phone numbers.   It will be the only way to differentiate calls to a local 988 exchange vs. calls to the suicide prevention hotline, and we'll have some time to get used to the new dialing before the suicide hotline 988 becomes active. 


I live in one of the affected area codes.

Habits of 60 plus years are sure hard to break, never mind having to go through my cell phone's contacts list and add the area code to all my local numbers.   People with certain automated systems are going to have to reprogram them, too.

Of course, my New York City relatives have had to dial 10 digits for the last few years, but now most of us can feel their pain.

It's not my favorite thing, but I tell myself....change can be good.

It's for a good cause.

Are you affected?

Monday, October 18, 2021

Stream of Consciousness Picks #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, and we all know what time it is, right?

Yes, it's time for Music Moves Me!

Who are the Music Moves Me 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-meaning at least one music video, please!)   First, there is XmasDolly.  Her co-hosts are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. 

We'd love more music lovers to join us.  It's easy! All you have to do is join the linky above with a music post that contains at least one music video (there must be a music video).  And that's it!

Each month we have a guest conductor. Today, for the month of October, we once again welcome John from The Sound of One Hand Typing.

John's theme for today is "You Pick".  Some weeks, I know just what I want to pick.  This week was one of the other weeks. Finally, I came to a decision.  Just start somewhere, and wing it.

I have so many choices, so, why not start with a song about having to make a decision?

Let's start with the Talking Heads, and "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

No pressure, of course.  Queen and David Bowie with "Under Pressure". The video is a combining (maybe the wrong word) of three performances, as David Bowie and Freddie Mercury never performed this together on the stage.

Who wants to be under pressure, though?  Let's experience the Eagles again, this time with "Peaceful Easy Feeling" from 1972. 

At this point, my spouse (who doesn't even read my blog) started naming Eagles songs he likes, and one of them was "Witchy Woman", also from 1972.

Then, we started to think of songs with Witch in the title and what I decided on was a Rush song recorded the night John Lennon died, a song called "Witch Hunt". It starts a little slow but hang in there. 


Finally, thinking of John Lennon made me think of this song from 1973 called "Mind Games".  The video has an interesting history, which you can read if you click through to You Tube to watch this video.

That's it for my Stream of Consciousness picks for today.  I may try this again, if I hit another You Pick writer's block. 

And that's a wrap!  Join me again next week, same time, same place!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Garden Bountiful

Yesterday, we said a possible farewell to our garden, as we may have a frost tomorrow night.

It's time to thank our garden for a wonderful year.  Here's what was left in my raised bed (my spouse has a regular ground plot - I need the raised bed because of my back).


Thank you for all the tomatoes.  We thought we were all done, but yesterday, three more cherry tomatoes showed up.  As you can see, though, they were in rough shape.

Thank you, eggplants.  A little finger variety did wonderfully for us; the best crop of eggplants we've ever had.

Peppers?  Also a great year.  These are both small varieties and we still have some ripening.  



Yellow. Thank you, both.

The one butternut squash that we got.  Almost ripe.  We were given a couple of plants by our gardening association, late in the planting season.  We consider this a bonus.

And, for their beauty and a lot of cut flowers for the table, our zinnias.  

Some have blight on them. These don't. 

Speaking of zinnias, I wanted to tell a little story from mid-summer.  Next to our ground plot was a plot planted in okra and southern (we found out later, black eyed) peas.  Okra does not do well in our clime (it isn't hot enough for long enough).  We used to grow okra years ago when we lived in Arkansas (as much for the beautiful flowers as for the immature pods we eat) and southern peas, so I was familiar with the plants.

I wondered who planted this garden.  It wasn't your usual New York State garden.  It intrigued me.

One day, we found out.  A dark skinned woman, dressed head to toe in black, was working in the garden. We started to talk.  After we discussed her okra, which was not doing well, she looked at our zinnias.  Spouse had been cutting some as she arrived, and I was taking pictures.

She gestured at the plants.  She spoke English but I don't think it was adequate for her thought.  From her gestures, I decided she was asking me what crop the flowers were.  In other words, she thought the zinnias were the flowers of a food crop she wasn't familiar with.

I told her no crop, we don't eat any of the plant or its roots; we just grow these for beauty.

After we left, I thought about that.  Was this a foreign concept to this woman,  growing something for beauty and no food value?  What hardships had this woman faced, and maybe was still facing, that made a flower bed exotic?  Or maybe she had never seen a zinnia before.

It made me think.  I still wonder which it was.

Another lesson of the garden.