Sunday, February 5, 2023

Bird and Squirrel #ShadowshotSunday

Two winter backyard shadow shots from this last week.  We finally had a stretch of sunny weather, as it was so cold, so I got to see shadows again.

A male Northern cardinal and a grey squirrel on the last day of January.  It was cold, and I took the picture from my house, so, unfortunately there are some unwanted spots in the photo.

More shadows, this time on Groundhog Day (February 2).

Today, joining with #ShadowshotSunday. 


Saturday, February 4, 2023

Don't Count Us Out

We could call it the Miracle of Oakdale Commons but perhaps that would be too strong a phrase.

As I blogged about back in December, our area's one indoor shopping mall is recovering and growing.  

Back in 2019, I never would have believed it would recover.

Part of the mall was torn down for a two story restaurant and brewery.  One of the anchor stores that deserted the mall was turned into a health club, and next to it is a walk in clinic.  There are some government offices in a corner of the mall now.   

What may be the largest Dick's Sporting Goods in the country (after all, the chain started in Binghamton, New York although the offices are no longer located here) is being built in the space formerly occupied by a Macy's.

An entire wing of the mall has been emptied in the last couple of months. Some businesses relocated to vacant storefronts in other parts of the mall, and a couple closed.   There are rumors about the tenant that will go in - it will be (if true) a national warehouse membership club. One of the displaced tenants, a T-Mobile store, was being disassembled and I got a laugh over the sign that remained. (It was gone a few minutes after I took this picture). Other signs are sadder signs of the times, though.

This local business opened in 2020, during the pandemic.

Alas, it closed the end of last year.

Meanwhile, a sign of the times at another local business in the mall.  I hope Sandy is doing well.

One thing that remains the same, though, is a historic marker that people pass each day without glancing at.  I learned about the USS Monitor in grade school in New York City.  You'd be surprised where you find history - sometimes right in a local mall.

It will be interesting to see the continuing changes in this mall.  

Fortunately, the current owners haven't counted it out, like so many of the now closed malls in our country.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Groundhog Day and Other Skies #SkywatchFriday

Yesterday was Groundhog Day in the United States, and if a groundhog had looked up where I live in New York State, he or she would have seen the sun.

 But the sky had a definite chill.  An arctic blast was on the way.

I took one more picture before I had to put my hands back in my gloves.

Today, though, the arctic blast is here.  It was in the 30's F yesterday. Right now the temperature is 12F (-11 C) and the wind is howling.    We will get close to, or below zero F (-17.7C), tonight.  No outdoor skywatching today or tomorrow. So what I would like to do, instead, is show you the sunset from January 28, another day when the sun decided to show itself.

A contrail in the middle of the photo.  After a sunny day, the clouds are returning.

And the sun says nighty-night, as the clouds build.

Joining with Yogi and other skywatchers each Friday for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Will The Groundhog Be Right in 2023?

February 2. The last February felt like just minutes ago.  Why does time speed by so quickly?

I feel duty bound to speak about this weirdest of holidays.

The rules are simple.

If the groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil (he or she lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania) sees its shadow, we have six more weeks of winter.  If the groundhog doesn't see its shadow, we get an early spring.  What does the groundhog get out of it?  An interrupted sleep and being held by obnoxious (to Phil) humans.

The groundhog usually sees his shadow because, hey, this is the Northeast United States and we don't get early springs here.  Well, we did get one in 2012, but don't bet on it this year.  We'll know for sure at 6:30 am today and here is the prediction:

Six more weeks of winter! (surprise)

This celebration has its own website.  They've been annoying groundhogs since 1887, when 1887's annoyed groundhog saw its shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter.  Well, keep in mind that's its prediction rate hovers around 40%.  But we keep doing it each year.

It also has its own history.  

 In 2013, it didn't see its shadow and we still got six more weeks of winter.

The groundhog almost got the death penalty for that one.

In 2016, it was unseasonably warm for us.  This year?  It got up to 42F (5.5 Celsius) at our house yesterday. This post from 2014 shows a more typical February day.

2020, as we prepared to enter a pandemic period, the groundhog did not see its shadow.  But the weather did not listen, and we had a miserable spring, in the midst of our lockdown.  We even got snow in May, where I live in New York State.

In 2022, I featured a picture of a groundhog.  As I blogged back in 2013: "I must admit, I do not have many warm and fuzzy feelings when it comes to groundhogs.  They have eaten too much of my gardens over the years for me to ever do anything nice for them. It's true the sustainable lifestyle means paying close attention to the clues Nature gives us, but I think dragging one out so it can see its shadow on live TV is a bit much."

But it does give us a moment of levity, something we desperately need.

What do you think of Groundhog Day?

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Amaryllis Opening #WordlessWednesday

 For years, I have overwintered amaryllis I bought, hoping I could get them to rebloom.  I've only succeeded twice.  The second time is now.  I had three amaryllis and managed to get one of the three to rebloom

(If you are interested in trying this, here's how.)

This year, as the flower started to open, I decided to take some pictures of the process.

January 28.

The evening of January 30.

January 31, lunchtime. 

January 31, around 5pm.

I am so thrilled.  This is the story of when I bought this bulb in 2021.  It's actually its second visit to Wordless Wednesday.


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A Genealogical Adventure Awaits - Am I Ready

Have any of my readers taken a DNA test (Ancestry, or 23 and Me, for example)?  If so, what have your experiences been, if you are willing to share any of those in the comments?

So far I've resisted taking one of these tests, although a cousin I met several years ago after not having been in contact for many years (a long story) encouraged me to, saying "you'll be surprised at what you will find".  He and his wife had both had their DNA tested.

Other people I know have privacy concerns about the data these testing companies collect.  The NY Times article I am linking to explains this further.

One of my first cousins on my father's side has been doing some genealogical research recently after using a 23 and me test. He was matched up to several second cousins of ours.  Eventually, I wonder if any will want to get in touch with me.

I'm excited but, as someone who is extremely introverted, also hesitant.

A part of me wants to know more, and not just about my father's side. I don't have to hand over DNA to find relatives I didn't know I had on my father's side, as this same uncle had done research about twenty years ago on our family. (He's in his late 90's now). But my mother's side is a different story. 

I'm an only child.  My parents died many years ago. 

Because of my particular ethnic and religious heritage, I know I may not be able to go back that far in time, either, thanks to the events of World War II.

A number of bloggers I read have some knowledge of genealogical research (unlike me), and two have helped me in the past.

One helped me find a record of my mother's parents, my mother, and two other siblings still at home in the 1950's census.  I knew the address of my grandparents but there was more needed to find the record.  She gave me what I needed and I've never thanked her publicly.  Let me do that now.  Thank you, Denise.

It was an interesting peek into my mother's life before she was married and had me.

The other blogger helped me find some information about the town where my mother's father grew up.  A record of his I found years ago on Ancestry (again, on a "free use" day) gave the town's name but I couldn't find it online anywhere.  This woman gave me a link. (Apparently the name of the town on my grandfather's record was the German name although it was part of Austria-Hungary, but the town is currently in Poland and goes by a different, Polish name.)  In 2016, using this woman's link, I found enough to suspect its Jewish population had been murdered during World War II but I still couldn't locate the town itself.

Sunday, I revisited the information and found the name that ancestral town is known by today.  I also found out its Jewish residents had been rounded up and eventually sent to the Belzec death camp in Poland.  I had known my mother's oldest brother had not emigrated with the rest of the family in the early 20th century, and I may now know what happened to him and any other relatives I still had back "in the old country".  May they forever rest in peace.   

So I owe this blogger thanks, too.  Thank you, Holly.

Would DNA testing even help me find out more about my roots on my mother's side?  Is it worth the money and the possible loss of personal data?

I'm really curious to have facts that would help me make up my mind as to going ahead with it.   I hope some of my blog readers can, again, help.

I thank you in advance.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Mary or Maria Songs #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and we are closing in on February.  It's the last music post of January, 2023, meaning it's time for Music Moves Me!

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Sunday or 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!)   Our head hostess is Cathy from Curious as a Cathy,  and she is joined by the knowledgeable Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and (last but not least) me. 

Why not join our music loving folks?  It's so easy. All you have to do is join the linky above with a music post that contains at least one music video.  Without a music video, the post may be removed, or may be labeled *NO MUSIC*.  

Every other week is Free Choice, and on non-free choice weeks, we invite anyone (that means anyone) to suggest a theme.   There are still several weeks without themes available for someone to suggest a theme for.  The 2023 themes so far can be found here.

Today's theme is Free Choice.  I was inspired to feature, today, songs with a Mary or Maria (which is Mary in Spanish) in the title or lyrics.


1972's Only in Your Heart from America was a song I fell in love with when I purchased an America greatest hits album in 1977 during a visit to Dallas, Texas.  There was a wonderful record (remember them?) store there and I wonder if it still exists, in some form or other.

Along Comes Mary, a 1966 hit from The Association.  This is a live version.

Proud Mary was a 1968 hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival, but was covered by Ike and Tina Turner in 1970.  No disrespect to CCR but I like Tina's cover a lot more than the original.  So I wondered if John Fogerty ever performed this song with Tina Turner. Turns out he did, but this is what I found online, and there is no video to go with it.  

Take A Letter Maria was a 1969 hit for R. G. Greaves.

Harry Chapin and a live performance of "If My Mary Were Here".

I'll end with Johnny Cash and his 2000 cover of the song "Mary of the Wild Moor" (Sheryl Crow on accordion and backup singing.)  This is not your usual Johnny Cash.

And that's a wrap!

Join me again next week for another edition of Music Moves Me.