Friday, July 10, 2020

Rainbow Redux #SkywatchFriday

Earlier in June, I had posted some rainbow pictures.  Happy to say, the rainbow cloud makers weren't done with me yet.

On July 1, about an hour before sunset, we were treated to another rainbow - looked like a double rainbow to me.  Just look in the lower right hand corner of these shots.

When I first noticed it, I had my phone with me.  Right place at the right time, once again.
I moved over a few feet and it got better.  I've made my peace with powerlines in my shots, by the way.  It is what it is.
Looks similar to the first picture but the clouds are moving.

Rainbow is starting to disappear, even as the sky blues up.

Last shot.  A few moments later it was gone.

Nice way to celebrate the beginning of the month.

Joining up once again with Yogi and the other sky watching bloggers of #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Snow Flower Tree #ThursdayTreeLove

The tree flowering season where I live in New York State is just about over.

We have a short window - the beginning of May through the end of June, generally, to love our flowering trees.

Because this is one of my favorite trees, I saved these pictures from June 4, when it was flowering in a local park, to show to you now.

The tree is a native, and some call it the Grancy Greybeard.  Others call it a fringe tree.  Those who enjoy Latin names call it Chionanthus virginicus, which means "snow flower".

I call it beautiful.

I've blogged about it several times. Here are a couple of links.
For Thursday Tree Love (in case it sounds familiar)
Introducing the Fringe Tree (another name for it) 

There are at least two of these trees in downtown Binghamton, New York and I missed seeing them this year due to working at home.  Maybe next year...

This tree is in Otsiningo Park, a lovely park name for a lovely tree.

It's a lovely June memory.

Have a tree to share with us?  Join Parul at Happiness and Food each second and fourth Thursday of the month for #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Old Library #WordlessWednesday

I worked in downtown Binghamton, New York, a city of about 47,000 people in the Southern Tier of New York State, for over 20 years.

On March 19, 2020, I was sent home to work, with not much warning.  Sunday, I visited downtown Binghamton for only the second time since March 19.

I walked past the old Carnegie Library, built in 1903, opened in 1904 and occupied as a library until the building closed in 2000.

In the past several years, it was renovated.  It was supposed to become a culinary school, part of our local community college.  Well, guess what.  Along came Corona.

Now, on a Sunday morning, it looks so peaceful.  It makes me wonder:  what has this building seen in its lifetime?  Buildings can't be alive, can they?

But then I got to thinking.  If it is alive; This isn't the first pandemic this building has seen.  The building to its left was  built in 1904.  There is a courthouse across the street from these buildings that was built in 1897.

These buildings all were occupied in 1917-1921, the official time span of a horrific flu epidemic that may have caused the deaths of some 50 million people.  What did the people in these buildings do?  How were their lives disrupted?

Finally, how did they return to normal?

There's an expression "What was old is new again".

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Also joining Natasha and Esha at #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Down by the River

Several blocks from where I live, there is a little park, built near a river.  The property is prone to flooding some years, so it is unsuitable for building.
April 7, 2017 river floods the park
I used to take my son to the park down by the river when he was a toddler and preschooler.  The park had a couple of ball fields where the YMCA used to hold its T Ball classes.  Soccer teams would occasionally play there.  There was a picnic table or two, a basketball court, and an inadequate playground.

The years passed.

My son grew, and we didn't go to the park anymore.  The basketball court aged and cracked, and was demolished.  The playground was redone and modernized, too late for my son.  The picnic tables were removed, but then a small picnic pavilion was built.   The ballfields were abandoned.  It didn't seem like the grass was mowed that often, but fishermen and women came to the banks of the river and fished.

My son left home.

I no longer used the park except for some sunset watching.

The river remained.

Then came 2020 and the pandemic.  I started working from home and every day at lunch, spouse (retired) and I would take a neighborhood walk on my lunchtime. One day this spring, we saw activity at the park.  Heavy equipment seemed to be digging - a road? A path?
July 4, 2020

What town workers were doing was building a walking path around the circumference of the park.  Not only that, but, at several points by the river, benches were put in, so people could sit and watch the river.

The grass is being mowed. Strangely, although this is a town park, there was no mention of the work on the town website.  No matter.

Now, we go there almost every evening, perhaps to walk the path, perhaps to admire wildflowers, perhaps to watch the sunset.  
Now, it looks like the ball field is being redone.  Right now it looks kind of lonely.  No one at the playground, but families are starting to come down here in the evening to let their children run.

The Canada geese have found the path.  We may have company on our walks after all.

What other adventures will we have in the park now?  Only time will reveal what else will happen, down by the river.

Thank you, whoever (whomever?)'s idea this was.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Songs of Sports #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, and it's time for another episode of Music Moves Me!

Who are the members of Music Moves Me ?  We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday. If you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join!  Just remember our simple rule:  you must include at least one You Tube or Vimeo video or your post may be subject to removal or labeling "NO MUSIC". You are welcome to write about music. too but we need that video!

So let's get started.

Each month, we have a guest co-host and guess who the guest co-host is this month?

You guessed it (I hope):  ME!

My theme for today is:  Songs mentioning sports, or songs commonly played at sporting events.

Why music at sporting events? Teams must be introduced.  Fans must be pumped up to cheer when a team is rallying.  They must be entertained at dead spots in the action.  In baseball, in recent years, players use "walk up" songs that are played when they come to bat.

Some songs have become so identified with one particular team that no other team plays the song. 

So, I have to admit - I chose this theme for today before almost all sports in the United States had to shut down.    Many of us miss pro sports.  Some are trying to start up again, some (such as auto racing) have been able to start up again (but either without fans or with minimal number of fans present).

As for me,  I stopped going to minor league baseball games several years ago, but I have fond memories of some of the songs played there (the then B-Mets - AA farm team for the New York Mets).

For example, the song Cotton Eye Joe, as performed by the Swedish (yes, Swedish) band Rednex. Our minor league team would play it between innings. I've featured this song before but it's a lot of fun.

So is this song, "Lazy Mary (Luna Mezzo Mare)", sung by Lou Monte, from 1958.  Let's Go Mets!

Smash Mouth and "All Star".

As for the one-team songs: The Chicago Bulls play this when introducing their players - Alan Parsons Project's Sirius.

The Boston Patriots have Ozzy Ozbourne's Crazy Train.  Here's Ozzy performing it live at the season opener in 2005.

Although I was born and raised in New York City, I think Boston (I've only visited once) is a wonderful city.  So, there is the love affair of Boston Red Sox fans with Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline.  This is a live performance of the song by Neil Diamond at a Boston Red Sox game after the Boston Marathon bombing.

After playing two Boston oriented songs, I hope I can get back into the good graces of New York fans with one of Noah Syndergaard's walk-up songs, O Fortuna (Carmina Burana) although this is not the performance he uses.

But sports are played around the world, and some of the favorite songs the fans like may surprise you.  I've picked a couple from England to end this.

British football fans from Liverpool have adopted, as their song, the Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway tune "You'll Never Walk Alone".

How about a rendition of "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles", as performed by West Ham United fans? 

That's all for today!

Join me again next Monday, same time, same place.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

A Different 4th - Vicksburg and Frederick Douglass

Today, the day after America's Independence Day, and the 168th anniversary of Frederick Douglass' famous (but not famous enough) speech "What To the Slave Is The Fourth of July",  I am repeating a post (with some edits) from July 3, 2011, and adding more at the end.

I first learned about this different 4th of July on Ken Burn's classic TV mini series on the United States Civil War.

Vicksburg, Mississippi, in a former Confederate state, has an online listing of community events.  In 2011 I found, listed in here, along with the Farmers Market, Faith Fest and the Old Court House Flea Market, the "Red, White and Blue" Fourth of July weekend, and the Independence Day fireworks.  Nothing special, here.  Nothing different than what thousands of other cities and towns in the United States were offering, pre-pandemic, celebrating our nation's Independence Day.

Or is it different?

Several generations of citizens of Vicksburg, Mississippi didn't know what a hometown 4th of July celebration was like-because they didn't have one. Stores remained open.  People went about their business.  And stories were told, dark stories, about the Siege of Vicksburg and its surrender to the Union Army on July 4, 1863.  It is said that General Pemberton, the commanding general of the Confederate States of America forces at Vicksburg, chose to surrender Vicksburg to the Union army on Independence Day as he thought they would get more favorable terms of surrender.

After that surrender, Vicksburg did not celebrate Independence Day until 1945.

Even in 1997, they still had a problem with it.

Vicksburg is located on the Mississippi River, one of the most important waterways in our nation.  It was just as important, if not more so, in the 1860's.  It was vital for the Federals to take control of the Mississippi in order to win the war.

Vicksburg stood in the way.  So, it was put under siege by Union forces commanded by General Grant and starved into submission.  As a young girl growing up in the Bronx, I remember drawings in a textbook showing how the residents ended up taking refuge in caves dug into hillsides, and what they used for food as the siege progressed. Rats would have been a gourmet treat.

Towards the end, they were printing their newspaper on wallpaper because they had run out of paper.

For Vicksburg, July 4th didn't stand for our country's birthday but rather was symbolic of what its fellow citizens did to it back in 1863.  I can only think that its citizens going overseas and fighting World War II side by side with the descendants of its former enemies of 80 years before, to fight a strong evil threatening to overtake the world, is what finally started to heal those wounds. 

The descendants of those people still remember, too, which brings us to the present day.

Indeed, the wounds of the Civil War are still there, right underneath our collective skin, both North and South, black and white, Native American, other origins, not fully healed. This year, it is more obvious that not everyone celebrates the 4th of July as their Independence Day, because the do not yet feel free.  Vicksburg isn't alone in not feeling that "the 4th of July" is their holiday.

Here is an opinion piece on this.

You don't need to be a citizen of Vicksburg to feel alienated. Recent events have brought many things to our collective attention, including continued inequalities and parts of our history hidden away out of shame or other reasons.  We have had many years to resolve this situation, and we haven't.

Now, in the midst of a pandemic, we must finally face this head on.  Small steps have been taken, one of the most recent being in Mississippi, the last state to have the Confederate battle flag incorporated into their state flag. That flag was retired this week, but many think that's it ("mission accomplished") for Confederate symbols in state flags.  Part of the reason for this belief is that the "Confederate flag" so proudly displayed in many places even today, was not an official state flag of the Confederate States of America, but, rather, was a battle flag associated with General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

If we are just concerned with getting rid of Confederate symbols of flags, they are still in many state flags.

It's way past time to look at this history now, but we still have a long way to go. We are only at the beginning.  Changing flags, renaming music groups, and discussing name changes for sports teams is comparatively easy.  Changing hearts is a lot harder, but there are people now ready to do that work.

It's time for us to look again to Douglass, who adopted Rochester, New York as his home in his later years.  Even after growing up an enslaved person, he did not lose his faith in our country.

It's amazing (to me) that Frederick Douglass, at the end of his speech, was hopeful. He said:
"Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country......I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age."

We are at that point again.  We are living the obvious tendencies of our age.

We write history as we live it. What will our children and grandchildren think when they read ours?

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Unexpected Roads

Every one of us is traveling unexpected roads these past few months.
I tried to make a bouquet today, but it was blurry.

I tried again with different flowers.  These will have to do.  Nothing can be perfect.

I will quote the great Dan Rather this morning from his Twitter feed:

"This is a July 4 of pain, uncertainty, and reckoning. I pause with open eyes, and an open heart. I am listening. I am moved. I am angry. I am determined."

I'm also confused, and a bit frightened, because I feel like we are about to be hit by a tidal wave, and I don't know where the high ground is. 

In our United States, it is our Independence Day, though, and we haven't had one like this one in a long time.  What I did decide to do was to read our Declaration of Independence.   We, of course, read it through 21st century eyes, but it is well that we go through the document, written in another turbulent time, when we just started to strive towards equality for all.  We started, after all, with a country that allowed the enslavement of people, and did not allow women the right to vote.  We were far from perfect.

Our task, now, is, once again, to move towards that perfection.

Once again, we live in great, dangerous times.  Every day, as we act, we are writing history.

I believe we can live up to the modern meaning of our Declaration of Independence.  

But first, we have to unite, and stay the course.  I hope that tomorrow, I can feel a bit more optimistic that we can do that.

If you are in the United States, have a good and meaningful Independence Day.