Friday, December 13, 2019

Seeing the Sunrise and Sunset #SkywatchFriday

It's been so cloudy in the past couple of weeks, here in the Southern Tier of upstate New York.  It's been a rare thing to see a sunrise and a sunset.

Yesterday, I got to see both.

Yesterday morning, it had gotten cold (a good sign for clear skies) but I didn't want to stand outside.  So I missed the best of the pre sunrise reddish color.

But I did get to see this before I headed to work. I need to explain that there are six Bradford Pear trees that I like to track through the seasons.  They are just about the only landscaping left from a flooded historic factory building on this property that was torn down several years ago.

From the east, just before sunrise.

And this view from the west.

Then, when I got out of work, the sun had just set, but I was treated to this.

And this.

Nothing unlucky about posting this on Friday the 13th.  I hope we get to see the sky today, but the prediction is rain. (At least it isn't snow.)

As always, each Friday I join the skywatching bloggers who are part of Yogi's Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Skies of Grey and Blue #ThursdayTreeLove

I love the look of snowy trees.  As much as I detest winter, there is a certain beauty in these pictures.  I live about 150 miles from New York City, on the edge of the upstate New York snowbelt.

Getting lots of chances to see snow on trees doesn't diminish my enjoyment.

The time of day brings contrasts, too.   Watch.......

In the morning, the trees and sky look silvery grey.

After sunset but before dark, everything is tinted in blue.

And the trees themselves, having shed their leaves and entered their winter they know what is going on around them?  What do they dream as they sleep?

Do they dream of spring, as I do?

For more lovely trees from all over the world, visit Parul's Happiness and Food for Thursday Tree Love every second and fourth

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Things Remembered #WordlessWednesday

I was in our local mall this past weekend, admiring the holiday decorations.

Our mall is under new ownership, and they have made quite the production of decorating, especially where children can have pictures taken with Santa.

In fact, a local florist was involved in setting this up.

And it is beautiful.

I should mention that our local mall, like many in the United States, has been declining for several years.  We have lost many stores, including three of our four anchors.

So, when, on Sunday, a man stopped my spouse and me and said "There used to be a store which would engrave gifts, wasn't there?" I had to tell him, yes there was, but it closed about a year ago.

It was called Things Remembered.

And, in fact, nothing is forever, including our Forever 21  store, which is closing "forever" soon.

It will be joining the other stores which are Things Remembered.

Joining Sandee for #Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Kindness Month

Today, I received an email about December being a "Month of Kindness"  I've seen various calendars now, with each day of December being devoted to an act of kindness.
For December 10, one website asked that I "Fill out a survey at a store and complement an employee who was good to you".
I probably won't be in a store today, but I still want to blog about the kindness of an employee.

Today, one of my cousins is undergoing surgery for cancer, and my mind thought back to a special day back in 2014.
On that day in 2014, I was shopping for a card for a friend who was about to undergo cancer surgery in the near future.   I  ended up seeing a ring, one that had the cancer loop on it. The employee asked if she could help me - I couldn't find it in my size.  I told the sales clerk about the woman who was going to undergo the surgery, and I burst out in tears.  Both of us ended up hugging and crying right in the middle of the store.  I don't know the name of this woman but knew just what to do at the emotional moment of a customer.

I don't know if I will ever meet her again.  I never have seen her again in that tore.  I hope she finds out, somehow, how much what she did meant to me. 

In November of 2010, I also experienced a random act of kindness in a local store, this time by a customer   Today, I wonder how the man in this story is doing.  Is he better off?  Despite what must have been hard times for him, he had such an upbeat attitude.

Here's some of the post I blogged about him from 2010:
I saw something inspiring, as we get closer to the Thanksgiving season, this afternoon.

I had gotten out of work early for a couple of appointments.  After the appointments, spouse decided we should get our Thanksgiving turkey.  We did so, and then remembered that a nearby Aldi had good sales on fresh cranberries and also celery.

I don't know if you have an Aldi's where you live.  Aldi is actually a huge chain in Germany, with stores in various stores on the Continent and also in Great Britain.  In the United States, for some reason, they initially came in as a "bargain" store, with (in my opinion) dirty, ill lit stores.  I would not shop there for years.  The employees "did it all", the same people doing store cleanup, stocking, and cash register.

When my son took German in school, his teacher came in one day with an Aldi ad from Germany.  What a difference!  Aldi in Germany is almost like a combination grocery/department store.  But meanwhile, back in upstate NY...

Due to that ad, we gave them another shot.  'They had seriously upgraded the stores in the meantime, with better lighting and edible produce. So we do shop there (in 2019) all the time. You can't beat their prices, and they do have a number of really decent store brands.

Over the years, I have experience many kindnesses at Aldi.  This is just one of them.

We were getting ready to check out.  We only had three items.  The line was long, although the lines there tend to move quickly.  The person at the back of the line had an overflowing cart. "Here, go ahead of me."  The next person also let us in, and also let go ahead of him a person right behind us who had two items.  That man's clothes were a little dirty and he walked like he had a stiff leg, with a limp.

My spouse and I struck up a conversation with the man with the limp.  He had some extra money because he had sold two cars at auction today.  He had been up since 5 am.  It was a good day for him, because he was able to buy another car to fix up and sell.  Best of all, it was his birthday.  He couldn't see why he should spend $30. at Texas Roadhouse [a steakhouse chain in the U.S.] when he could buy some frozen steaks and cook him at home (we don't know if he had a loved one waiting for him.  I hope so).  He was so glad to be spared a few extra minutes on line, so he could get home and rest.

I hope the gentleman who gave up his place for a couple of tired near senior citizens and a man with a limp had a wonderful rest of the day, due to this random act of kindness.

Are you going to spread kindness in December, a time when so many of us are stressed and extra-stressed?  Or, would you like to comment about a kindness done to you?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Offbeat Christmas#MusicMovesMe

It's the second Monday of December and music lovers everywhere have geared up for the holiday season.  It's time for Music Moves Me.  No grinches, please!

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,  please! Non-music posts are subject to removal or labeling as "No Music".)   First, there is XmasDolly.  Her chief co-conductor is Cathy of Curious as a Cathy. Her other co-conductors are Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, and me. 

Today, I am going to be a little different.

There are a lot of Christmas classics that aren't your normal hymns or praises for the holiday season.  These are a bit....offbeat?  Some are novelty songs, and some are novelty songs that may not be totally politically correct.

Some of them are songs that deserved more fame.  Some, you'll either like or you won't.

The first one is one of many classic Christmas parodies by a retired radio personality, Bob Rivers.  This may be one of his "suitable for work" songs - some are not.  I bring you "The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen", which, apparently, has a lot of covers on You Tube.  But this is the original. (More Bob Rivers later.)

This next song is a Bob Dylan song.  Yes, it really is!  Bob Dylan and "Must Be Santa" from 2009.  Accordion lovers, rejoice!

Let's lighten it up with Snoopy's Christmas - Royal Guardsmen.  Peace on Earth to all the world...and good will to men.

How about another notch?

Chipmunks and Christmas.  Well, there is Alvin and his friends, but there is also Bob Rivers.  Here's one of his best:  Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire.

Weird Al Yankovic is another classic master of parody.  Christmas At Ground Zero - this one is not a funny topic at all, but Weird Al pulls it off.

And now, kicking it up one more notch.

I'll close with one that you either love or don't.  I love it.  Walking 'Round in Women's Underwear" - one more by Bob Rivers.

There was one more song I wanted to include in this, but decided it didn't quite fit, so blogged about it yesterday - Fairytale of New York.  I invite you to read my post and decide what you think.

And it's a wrap.  A Christmas wrap.

See you next week - same time, same place!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Not Quite a Fairytale

Nothing like controversy when it comes to Christmas songs.

Last year it was Santa Baby, written by now 93 year old Phil Springer (interviewed last year) and famously recorded by Eartha Kitt and many others.  When it was released in 1953 it was controversial because of its sexy overtones ("Santa Baby, hurry down the chimney tonight...".  And, it became controversial at times over the years, including last year.

And then there is this year's controversy, at least on the other side of the pond.

This is a 1987 song by the Pogues called Fairytale of New York.  I had run across it while researching my Music Moves Me post for tomorrow.  I had never heard of this song, which is said to have originated with a bet between Elvis Costello and the frontman of the Pogues, Shane MacGowan.

When Americans hear this song, they are more puzzled than anything, and I admit, I was one of them.  At first.  By the second hearing, I was in love with it.

But now it has become controversial.

You may not like it at first, especially given that there is a questionable lyric in it, but please stick with it.   I understand it was the most played Christmas song on British radio last year.  To me, it's a powerful song.  Others want it banned.

The song is sung, in alternating fashion, by Shane MacGowan and the late Kirsty MacColl.

I hope you will give these songs a listen.

I am not into banning songs, but am curious to know what you think.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Remembering Another Pearl Harbor Anniversary

December 7, 2019, 78 years after the day that would live on in infamy - the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

 Pearl Harbor Day was the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, which was not yet one of the 50 United States.  Japan declared war on the United States shortly after the attack. The United States declared war on Japan the next day, and Germany declared war on the United States three days later.

The official death toll of Pearl Harbor was 2,403.

December 7 is a day meaningful to the generation that preceded mine - the generation that is sometimes called "The Greatest Generation".  In the same way, November 22 is that date for my generation -  the day that President Kennedy was assassinated.  For a newer generation, January 28 is the date the shuttle Challenger exploded not long after liftoff.  There is September 11, 2001. For the people of India, there is what they call "26/11" in their way of writing dates, the terrible Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008.

But the anniversary of Pearl Harbor may not live on for too much longer.  Eyewitnesses to the attack are dying of old age.  When I looked at this in 2017, for example, five survivors of the sinking of the USS Arizona were still alive.  Today, only three are still alive - two died this year.

Overall (apparently) there may be only 11 survivors of the attack, although that depends on how you define who is included.

One of those, Lauren Bruner, was the second to last man to escape the burning ArizonaHe lived to age 98, and passed away in his sleep in September.

Any survivor of the USS Arizona's sinking has the right (as of 1982) to be interred on the wreckage of the ship, which still lies in Pearl Harbor and is visited by upwards of a million people a year.  The same right is granted to the survivors of another ship, the USS Utah.  So far, 44 deceased survivors have been so interred.

Lauren Bruner will be the last man interred on the Arizona, as the three remaining survivors plan different final resting places.  His ashes will be placed by divers inside the wreckage later today in a sunset ceremony.

Another survivor of Pearl Harbor, Joseph Iscovitz, died in June at the age of 103.

Others of the Greatest Generation leave us daily.  This year, this included:
John "Jack" Lyle, one of the decorated African-American Tuskogee Airmen, at the age of 98.
Dick Churchhill, the last of the survivors of the "Great Escape", in February, at age 99 (no, he wasn't related to Winston Churchill). 
Richard Cole, last of the Doolittle Raiders who bombed Japan four months after Pearl Harbor in a daring raid that raised American morale, in April, at age 103.

To all the men and women who served in World War II, we remember your service today.