Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rewind Flower Journal

On this last day of June, I'd like to take you on a little tour of June as seen through the world of flowers and plants, as seen in the area of upstate New York where I live.

Spring is a time of rapid change, and I enjoy looking through my pictures each month to remind me of times just recently past. It's a good way to keep a flower journal for future years, too.

Some of my readers seem to think that all the flowers I post pictures of are mine.  Ah, if only!  But I have a small yard, and a full time job.  But, my spouse and I like to take exercise walks around some neighborhoods in Binghamton.  That's actually where a lot of my flower pictures come from.

I admit, I don't always label my photos.  So, if I've led you to believe I have a huge flower garden, I don't.

But, later this week, I will give you a peek into the flowers I do own.
For example, this is a rhodedendron in my front yard, a little past peak on June 1.  This plant hasn't been doing well, and I hope we can get it to survive.  It's over 30 years old.

A bearded iris, June 2, West side of Binghamton.

Korean Dogwood, June 7, West Side of Binghamton.

Alliums, June 10, Cutler Botanic Gardens, Binghamton.

Korean lilac, June 18, one of many planted on the West Side of Binghamton.

A cherry tree reblooms on June 18, also on the West Side.  This is something amazing I have never seen before.  The local ornamental cherries started to come out at the beginning of April, way too early.  Then, an unseasonable freeze hit April 4 and all the blooms died (it even snowed a little).  They didn't bloom again.  But then, in mid June, small blooms started to come out.

Moving on.
Some of the last peonies in bloom, June 18, Binghamton.  What a spectacular year for them it was.

Marigold Rose, June 23, Cutler Gardens.
And finally, a red lily on the West Side of Binghamton, June 29.

Tomorrow, instead of a Falling Friday, I may just feature some flowers from my yard for the first day of July.

June has flown.  This year is half over.   If only we could get time to slow down.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer Ramblings - Purple Photos

Photos taken during June in the Southern Tier of upstate New York, by my guest photographer.
Purple vetch.


A fireweed closeup.

Flowering raspberry (which is not a raspberry)

This more far-away shot of the flowering raspberry shows the tell tale maple like leaves. But, it isn't a maple, either.

Alas, June is almost over.  We had some nasty (for us) weather yesterday. 

This is what it looked like in downtown Binghamton during the storm. (I'll spare you the picture of the dead frog. )

Today is dawning still overcast.  But it's a far cry from the fatal flooding that has hit a lot of our state of West Virginia.

Weather gone wild. Where will the wild weather hit next?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How Do You Prove You are Young at Heart?

Age is just a number, and my number is located in the 60's.  Which puts me into a grey area.  Literally.

That number isn't quite like a Sleep Number on a particular brand of mattress sold here in the United States.  If you figure out your correct sleep number, and you then buy their mattress, you will have the best sleep ever. Or so the advertising goes,

No, sleep numbers aren't the same as ages.  Many women won't even reveal their ages.  I'm past that.  Somewhat. (See above).

Not only that, the dividing line between middle age and being a senior is a blurry line, and not because of middle-aged vision.

But, the other day, I ran into a fascinating survey on a Mid Life blogging group I belong to.  I'm on the far side of midlife, but here I am in that group, and I enjoy reading posts by many of its members.  The survey is not public, so I can't link to it, but I will share (with a slight edit) one of the questions:

"...What kick-ass things are you doing in life that prove "age ain't nothin' but a number"?


Do I REALLY need to do any kick-ass things to prove my age ain't nothing but a number?

I ran down the list of activities I consider to be kick-ass.  And this is what I concluded.  I am not a kick-ass person.  I:

-do not skydive.
-do not jet ski.
-do not mountain climb.
-do not do zip lines.
-do not participate in triathlons.
-do not white-water raft....

Well, you get the picture.

This is what I do, instead.  I think the art of considering age as just a number and being young at heart consists of
1.  Curiosity, and wanting to learn more about the world around you,
2.  Be willing to try new things (and that can be HARD),
3.  Feeling gratitude for being alive, and
4.  Being true to yourself.
Not My Flowers, but still

I love flowers.  I like being around flowers.  They help make me feel grateful that I am alive, as they surround me with their beauty.  I never tire of being around flowers.
Downtown Binghamton, New York

 I like to look at clouds on my lunch hour.  They sometimes make me thing of a song.   I really don't know clouds at all.
Historic House  Bath, New York

I admire old buildings.   I wonder about the stories the walls within have witnessed.
Anthony Road Winery, Penn Yann, New York

I will drink wine and visit wineries (I live a bit more than an hour away from wine country) from time to time.  In fact, learning more about wine had started as a "trying something new" and is slowly evolving into what could be a lifelong learning experience.
Back to clouds.
June 3
I take pictures of sunsets from time to time.

I want to remain physically active, and I exercise each day in hopes of preventing more falls.  I've had several of them already.  I've been lucky.  I haven't hurt myself badly.  The next time, I may not be so lucky.

So, how would I respond to that questionnaire? How do I prove that I am young at heart? That I want to have a zest for life for the rest of my life, but not a kick-ass zest?  Learning something new each day, blogging, taking pictures, and being grateful for being alive, is where I want to be right now.  

Hopefully, I can continue to be among the  young at heart.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to water my flowers and listen to the neighborhood birds.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Why I'm Afraid of Books

Saturday, I signed up for an adult Summer Reading program at the local library in Johnson City, New York.   It runs until August 2, at which time there will be an End of Summer Party.  All I have to do is read a minimum of three books and return my log at the party.

No problem, I thought.  I love to read.

Now, that blank Adult Summer Reading Log is staring me in the face.  Oh, I read.  I read a lot.  I read blogs, Facebook posts, and a lot of books.  But, I don't finish that many books, and that's the problem I am facing.  I  read a lot of books for a few chapters, and discard them.

They didn't move me.  Or I didn't like something.  Maybe it was the lack of good world building, an important element of the genres I enjoy.  Or they just didn't live up to their promise.

You have to be careful with books.  If they are good, they will take over your life until you finish them.  If they are really good, they will stay with you for months or years after, coloring how you look at the world.

If they are masterpieces, they will change your life.

I expect a lot out of books.  And that's why I'm afraid of them.

I'm afraid of books like "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro.  It still hasn't let me go.

Or To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

Then, there are the books that teach, like Blessing's Bead by Debbie Dahl Edwardson or The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  Or the various Holocaust memoirs I have read.   Oh yes, especially those memoirs.

Yes, I am afraid of books, and afraid of that blank page, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.  Because I have to read books to fill it up.  And who knows what those books will do to me.

I can't live with books.  I can't live without them.

What about you?

Music Monday - Strawberry Letters and Musical Alarm Clocks

It's strawberry season in upstate New York.

I started to think about music, something that becomes a refuge when news is bad.  This has been a month full of tragic news for many.  It's time to enjoy a few minutes of lightness among all the grim moments this month has brought.  Today, I'd like to bring you several favorite songs featuring strawberries.

Strawberry Letter 23 as done by The Brothers Johnson.  I can not tell you for how many years I thought the title of this song was "Strawberry Letter 22". Ig you listen to the lyrics (I guess I didn't - I am so swept away by the the instrumental in this song) the song is about a young man singing about a love letter he has received - Strawberry Letter 22.  He is either responding or hoping for a 23rd letter.  I'm still not sure.

So why the strawberry letters?  Were they written on red paper?  Did his lover scent them with strawberries?  I love the lyrics, but they don't give me a clue.

Nor did I ever know this was actually a cover of a song by Shuggie Otis.  I won't do a battle of the bands here, but you can decide which version you like better. Mr. Otis is still performing and touring.

Strawberry Fields Forever by the Beatles - you won't find a complete version (legally) on You Tube, I suspect, but this will give you part of it.  And the video isn't bad, either.

Incense and Peppermints by the Strawberry Alarm Clock.

Are you wondering why you keep seeing Music Mondays after I had given up this feature?  I had decided there were so many blog posts with music challenges, Battles of the Bands, and so forth, that we didn't need one more.  But now I've decided I was having too much fun.  I may not do it every Monday, but if the mood hits, I will do it.

And a happy strawberry day to you, too.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Church Courtyard

What might you find in a downtown church courtyard?

My guest photographer and I took a walk in downtown Binghamton, New York late last week. 

Binghamton is a small city of about 47,000 people.  But, at one time (back in the 1950's) its population peaked at about 85,000.  Now, looking around, it's hard to imagine that.  People who grew up here (I moved about 30 years ago) tell me the streets of downtown were once packed with people on shopping holidays.

Now, when I walk down Chenango Street on weekday mornings, it is almost deserted.

There are a number of historic churches within easy walking distance of downtown, or in downtown itself.  The courtyard we are about to visit belongs to the  United Presbyterian Church of Binghamton on 42 Chenango Street. (One day, I may post some interior pictures I took during an open house).

There were flowering trees and trees in bloom, as you might expect.

A Kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa, was finishing up.   To show you what they look like at peak, here is a picture of another one taken June 10.  These trees have become quite popular in our area.

There was a mountain laurel, just past peak.
And a Japanese meadow-sweet, Spiraea japonica.
But we weren't finished.

To our delight, we even found a small church garden in the courtyard, with its own compost heap.

That stretch of Chenango Street (actually, a lot of Chenango Street) has seen better days (as has most of this area).  Up to now, I've not spent much time on some of the challenges the part of upstate New York that I love so much faces, but I think it's about time to explore that with my readers.  So I am putting that on the list of future blog posts, in hopes that Binghamton will one day bloom again.

What is blooming in your area today?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Local Saturday - Adventures with Garlic Scapes

Today, the long-awaited indoor year round farmers market finally opened in Binghamton, New York.  We celebrated with garlic scapes.

What are garlic scapes?  Before I tell you, a little about the new market.

Our regional indoor farmers market was years in the planning.  Its original location probably would have forced the closing of the community garden we've gardened in for years.  But, due to the intervention of some long-dead Native Americans, whose relics were found when they started to dig the foundations, another home had to be found.  And it was found, but the find delayed construction a couple of years.

Residents poured in today for the grand opening.

Some beautiful produce awaited them.  In season for us right now are lettuce, kale, swiss chard, and collard greens, along with the garlic scapes, young onions, and strawberries.

So, what are garlic scapes?  They are the flower bud of the garlic plant.  They should be taken off the plant to encourage the developing bulb to develop, rather than diverting energy into flowering and seed making.

In recent years, only gardeners knew the secret of garlic scapes.  Now, they are "in". Many people have learned just how delicious they are.  So farmers markets in our area are full of garlic scapes for sale in mid and late June. 

We have problems growing garlic at our house due to lack of sun, but we can always get a small handful of scapes each June.

You have to harvest them quickly.  Otherwise, they get too woody.

How can they be used? The uses are unlimited: basically, you prepare them by snipping off the touch end (as you would asparagus).  They can be made into pesto, used in hummus instead of garlic, and in double garlic soup.  

Their flavor is delicate compared to garlic bulbs, so you must adjust recipes accordingly.

Nutrition?  Quite nutritious.

Spouse plans to grill our scapes tonight, with the ribs he is also making.

Do you eat garlic scapes?  Do you have a favorite recipe?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Falling Friday - Getting Up Again

One of the most important things to know, if you are susceptible to falling, is how to get up again.

Lying on the floor for just a few hours can be deadly, we were taught in the falls prevention classes I took last year where I live near Binghamton, New York.  To be blunt, the longer you are on the floor or ground after a fall, the less likely it is that you will return to living independently.

Last year, I participated in a falls prevention class called Stepping On.  It was a lot more than just falls prevention, and was well worth my time.

In one "Stepping On" class, two physical therapists came, and showed us exercises to do to make ourselves stronger and less prone to falling.  They also showed us what to do if we fell. 

I've been in that situation more than once.  And perhaps you've been, too.
What I like about this video is that it teaches you what to do if you fall at home.  By using various objects in the typical home, this physical therapist is able to improvise and her household tools help her get up.

Towards the end of the video, she briefly explains a couple of things a senior could do if he or she was injured in the fall.  The key is to try to get up safely, or to a phone, or to a door, to call for help.

I also note that more than one of my falls were outdoors, and several people in my class were injured while walking dogs, so this video does not cover all situations.  But it is still well worth watching.

Learning to recover from a fall is NOT a do it yourself project and we only received a general demonstration.  Your particular circumstances should be evaluated by a physical therapist or other professional.  Experts suggests practicing what to do after a fall on a regular basis.

However painful to think of, the topic of what to do if you do fall is something I believe the falls prevention classes need to spend more time on.  It's great to spend a lot of time on how to prevent a fall.  But, if you fall again, it is even more urgent that you can get up by yourself, especially if you live alone.

Because I was fortunate.  And one day, we will all face this element of aging.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wake Me Up Before I No-Go

Yesterday, several of my mother in law's relatives and a former neighbor drove about 150 miles (255 km) to visit the area where I live.  Until last August, my mother in law had lived her entire life in the suburbs of New York City.  Now, she is some 150 miles away from her lifetime home, and a lot of people downstate miss her.

Yesterday's visitors range in age from 70 to 83.  My mother in law is in her late 80's.  My spouse and I haven't quite hit 65, but we are heading towards those mid 60's.  So we were the young ones of the group, except for when our grown son joined us for dinner.

I could see the differences even five or ten years could make.  I don't usually like to make generalizations, but there were differences - not in attitude, not in the ability to enjoy life with a great attitude, but with energy level and health.  One person who was supposed to come had to cancel out earlier in the week, because it wasn't going to happen for her.  And then a second person cancelled because the first person cancelled.  The rest of us were a mixed group - cancer survivors, people with other health conditions, people of varying physical abilities.  For one person, getting out of a chair without assistance was an accomplishment.  She couldn't have done it a year ago.

It reminded me of something I read recently in an article about retirement planning.  There were stages of retirement, this article claimed, and spending patterns would change the older you got.

It seems that some retirement planners divide the retirement years into three "eras":
Go-go (on the go all or most of the time) lots of travel, activities, and so forth.
Slow-go (slowing down)
No-go (self explanatory) not only not traveling, but needing assistance to do what you could once do yourself.

There is some truth to this, but I think it is different for everyone.  For example, the 83 year old in the group lives by herself in her home of over 50 years.  She flies out from her home in a New York City suburb to visit a daughter and her family in California several times a year.  In fact, she's making that trip in August, despite having had some surgery earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, I can't tell you the last time I was on a plane.  Oh wait, yes I can.  It was in July of 1996.


While we make car trips each year, the maximum hours in transit we will tolerate without a lot of discomfort seems to shrink yearly.  And it isn't just long trips of hundreds of miles. Other trips we would have considered in our 20's on a day trip (mileage wise) now have morphed into overnights.

In the go-go years, the planners say, you should plan financially for a lot of travel and/or activities.  And then those expenses trend down as you age, while health expenses trend up.  And up.  And, you lose the ability to do things you once could without assistance.  And that assistance costs money.  A lot of money.

Again, this fade away may or may not happen to either me or my spouse.   But, we really don't want to assume that we are going to fade away in the sunset, going through go-go, slow go and no-go, just because a financial planner tells us that is how we should plan our Golden Years.

But, there is some need to try to plan for the unexpected.  I've, sadly, known too many people with cancer diagnoses in the recent past. I doubt that was in their plans.  But perhaps it is better not to try to plan for that, and take it as it comes.

All the more reason why we should go-go (in my humble opinion) while we can, for as long as we can, and enjoy every day of the ride.  And wake up with gratitude that another day of still go-going has been granted us.

What do you think?  Or, have you thought about it yet?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Ramblings - Lilacs and Roses

It's summer! 

As I switch focus on my Wednesday feature from Spring Things to Summer Ramblings, I want to blog about one our senses, the sense of smell.

Not everyone enjoys the scent of flowers that are supposed to smell nice.  

But since my sense of smell has started to deteriorate some, hastened, apparently, by a wisdom tooth surgery a couple of years ago that resulted in a sinus communication (now healed), I'm more aware of problems in smelling things.

Also, my son and I, apparently, have a genetic issue with the scents of certain flowers.  To us, several sweet scented flowers smell not so sweet.  To be more exact, they smell like garbage.  My son has it worse than I do.  He can't even enjoy the scent of lilacs.  I can, but certain lilies, magnolias, and many paper whites fall into the category of scents I can't stand.

My mother, who would have been 98 in June, loved a talcum powder called Lilacs and Roses.  If only I still had some of her tins.  At least those scents I can still enjoy.

But the next best thing, perhaps, are some current flower pictures.
West side of Binghamton taken 6-18-16
Korean lilacs are finishing their blooming where I live in upstate New York.

And, at our local botanical gardens, the heirloom roses are finishing up their bursts of bloom.  Many of these are so fragrant, they really make me wish for smell-o-blog.

The ones I am featuring today had name tags.  Yesterday, I featured a couple of pictures of those that didn't.   And, fortunately, my genetic issue doesn't affect my ability to enjoy the scents of roses.

Belle Poitevine, above, is a "classic old rugosa" with a "strong fragrance".
Leda damask - or is it?

Mme Hardy - a classic old rose.

So beautiful, and so full of scent.

Does anyone else remember the talcum powder Lilacs and Roses?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Pink Ballerina and The Pioneer Rose

It's rose season in upstate New York.

I read yesterday that roses are the official flower of Father's Day. Red if your father is alive and white if he is no longer with us.  It's strange, but I had an overwhelming urge to post pictures of roses yesterday.  I'm glad that I did the post I did, though, because that means I was able to save some gorgeous roses for today.
I will start with some beautiful wild rugosa roses from the Vestal Rail Trail, a few miles from Binghamton, New York, in honor of my late father.
These pink roses are wild roses that grow on my property line.  They just appeared one spring, perhaps three or four years ago.  A friend thinks they may be an old fashioned variety from 1937 called "Ballerina" which just decided to establish itself.  It is true, where they are is somewhat shady, but they only bloom once a year.

The next couple of roses are from our local botanical gardens, Cutler Botanic Gardens in Binghamton.  These roses didn't have name tags, so if you can guess them, please leave me a comment.
How beautiful is this multicolored rose?
Another mystery rose. Some of these are so fragrant, I wish there was such a thing as smell-o-blog. (I do wish that every year about this time.)

Yellow.  This one had a name tag - Harison's yellow.  It is also called the Pioneer's rose or the rose of the Oregon Trail as it is found growing all along that trail.  Some say this is the official Yellow Rose of Texas.  And how beautiful is that?  So fragrant, too.
Finally, another shot of my mystery pink roses.  Ballerina or not, I love their scent.

Tomorrow, as summer begins, also begins my weekly Summer feature - Summer Ramblings.

What is your favorite flower?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Revisiting The Midnight Sun

In 2009, my first year of blogging, I blogged about my fascination with sunsets and the midnight sun.  I am repeating it today, with edits, to celebrate the first day of summer
Sunset, about 8:30 pm June 16, 2016 - no it's not the midnight sun!
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 hour light and 24 hour dark, 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. 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 111th Midnight baseball game on Tuesday, June 21.  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.

And, if you are a true baseball fan, you can even watch about 10 minutes of a young Tom Seaver (Hall of Fame pitcher) pitching the 1965 Midnight Sun game.  Keep in mind that what you are seeing is happening somewhere between 10:30-11 pm.

This annual late night game is played in its entirety without artificial lighting, and there is a special Midnight pitch.

One day, I may even make a dream come true, and go to that game.  But until then, I love to watch sunsets, and take pictures of them.

Have you ever seen the Midnight Sun?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day - Remembering

Today, in the United States, it is Father's Day.

This will be the 30th Father's Day without my father.  And, on top of it, a good friend would have celebrated her 64th birthday today.  In some ways, this has been a hard day for me (including a problem I have with swallowing certain food cropping up - no pun intended - and I am not feeling my best. )  But, as they say, consider the alternative.

So, I will let part of a post from Memorial Day, 2015 do the heavy lifting today.  The amazing thing about what I did on that day in 2015 led a long-lost cousin in his mid 80's to find me (actually, his daughter).  He had been looking for me for years. 

Amazing things can happen online.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Today (May 25, 2015), the genealogy website has free access and you can look up military records for anyone in their database.

I looked up my grandfather on my mother's side and found (definitely) his World War II draft registration and (possibly) his World War I draft registration.  For the first time in my memory, I saw his signature on the World War II document.  More intriguing, I found his town of birth - something I never knew - but it doesn't seem to exist -"Altsandas, Austria" - another mystery for a later date. (I am not sure what country it is in today, but it was Austria-Hungary when he came to this country around 1903).

I then looked up my father's World War Two enlistment record and found this.  After the war he worked for several years on Governor's Island, part of New York City, where his enlistment took place.  What I know of his enlistment is that he was already considered disabled (a childhood illness destroyed his hearing in one ear) and had tried to enlist without success.  But, by 1942, we needed anyone who could serve.

State of Residence: New York
County or City: Kings[Brooklyn]
Enlistment Date: 6 Aug 1942
Enlistment State: New York
Enlistment City: Fort Jay Governors Island

Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: 2 years of high school
Civil Occupation: Semiskilled occupations in manufacture of miscellaneous electrical equipment, n.e.c.
Marital Status: Single, with dependents
Height: 69
Weight: 130

More memories.  Why would my father have been single, with dependents?  Because he helped to raise his youngest brother after his mother died.  Just as he raised me after my mother died.

These documents may not show much, but they can still tell a story.  You just need to be creative to read and understand the story.

Dad, I want you to know I miss you today, and my friend, too.  It was a beautiful day here in upstate New York.  I wish I could have shared it with both of you.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Local Saturday - The Mystery of the Murals

Today, as part of the weekend-long Pathways of History celebration in New York State, I visited a local landmark.

Johnson City, New York historian Janet Ottman (formerly the library director of our own Your Home Library) gave us, and others, a tour of a bank which used to be the house of a local businessman, Charles F Johnson.  (Johnson City was named after his uncle).

Built in 1919, this house was a wedding gift to Charles Johnson and wife, and was occupied by their family until 1964.  It is built in Colonial Revival style. The house is symmetrical.  The porch is rebuilt, and on the right, you will see the handicapped access - which was made to blend into the architecture. 

Unlike many Colonial Revival houses, it has three stories.  The third story has not been restored.  Within, the floors (which I did not photograph) are original.

Ironically, after the death of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson (1959 and 1960), it became the headquarters of a carpenter's union. The Johnson's were famously anti-union.  The bank has occupied the building, which was vacant for years, since 2010.

Because the first floor is occupied by a bank, picture taken is not allowed on the first floor as per Federal law.  But it is permitted on the second floor, and that is where we found the mystery murals. 

They are original to the house.

The Johnson City historian does not know if the sights depicted in the murals are of an actual place, or if they are simply a fantasy.  She puts the era depicted as the late 1700's or early 1800's, given the dress of the people, the fact that the architecture incorporated what were then called Oriental elements, and the hot air balloon just to the left of the main building.
What do you think? 

Here is a view of the staircase from the second to the third floor, with more of the murals visible.

And, another view.

Cleverly, a light switch hides in the mural.

Mrs. Johnson was famous for her flower gardens.  Alas, they are long gone (the people who bought the house after her death did not keep them up) and now, they are turned into a bank parking lot.

But wait!  There's more.

Look at that drive up building in the back where the gardens used to be.  Doesn't the architecture remind you of something?

In honor of the main bank building, the drive up was constructed with Doric columns.

Now, if only I could get those gardens restored.  I wonder if anyone else is thinking about this? Maybe, a project for my retirement years? (I'm not promising.)

Historian Janet Ottman, incidentally, is available to give tours of the building whenever the bank is open.  She welcomes phone calls. Her love of Johnson City shone through every minute of the tour.

I've met several town and village historians over the years, and I've rarely seen happier people on the job.

Do you have any guesses about the subject matter of those murals?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Palindrome Day

Instead of a falling Friday, I thought I would blog today about a light topic to take our minds off the recent tragic news stories in the United States and Great Britain.

Are you ready for a little Friday Fun?

In the United States, we write our dates in one of a couple of types of systems:  Month, Day, Year (or m, dd, yy).  Today's date would be 6-17-16 in the way we normally write dates.

6-17-16.  Hmmm.  See anything interesting about today's date.

Today's date is a palindrome (something that reads the same frontwards and backwards).

That makes this week Palindrome Day in the United States.  (Here, you can read more about Palindrome Days).

Observe:  (this works only if you write in m-d-yy format, incidentally)

Of course, now that I hardly write out a date, it took me reading about this in Facebook to realize what was happening.

The last Palindrome Day of the 21st century will be February 29, 2092.  It will also be a leap day.

Too bad only the youngest of my blog readers may be around to see it.  But don't let that gloomy thought stop us.

Happy (in the United States) Palindrome Day!

If you don't live in the United States, what dates are palindromes for you?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Full Measure of Courage

Tomorrow marks the nine month anniversary of my friend leaving this Earth all too soon.  May she be at peace, but, knowing her, she is probably talking up a storm (and teaching everyone she meets) in that next plane of existence.

And, no doubt, she will be crocheting and knitting.

She is not forgotten.

In July of 2015, in her final months, I blogged this:

The Full Measure of Courage

They say that the full measure of friendship is being able to go long periods without much contact.  Several years ago, when a dear friend was a caregiver for her elderly mother, we had a period like that.  Now, I am moving into that role (her mother is deceased) with my mother in law.

I want to repeat a post I wrote a couple of years ago about that friend.  I've blogged about her several times over the years, have posted pictures of her Brooklyn garden, but have never quite thanked her for her loyal readership.

That friend needs all our thoughts right now, as she is engaged in her own battle with a relentless illness.  Her spouse, who I also wrote about below, has been the most wonderful caregiver to her, both when he battled his own cancer, and now.  Both my friend and her spouse have shown incredible courage in these years of trial for them.

I wanted them to know they are not forgotten, as they both demonstrate the full measure of courage.

So here is a post from the summer of 2013, when my friend, already undergoing chemo, 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."  In fact, I know someone whose grandson is battling pediatric leukemia right now. [2016 update; he remains in remission.]  I think what my friend has done is so beautiful and I hope you will send encouragement to her and her husband in the comments.

My original post follows:

"The spouse of my friend in Brooklyn has to spend a lot of time in doctor's offices to be treated for a medical condition.   My friend normally comes with  him and waits 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 does 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.  I think the work, and the cause, is fantastic. 

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

Aren't these beautiful?  (Lately, she has had some yarn donated to her but I suspect enough of these projects were done using her own money.) We have the cliche "lemons out of lemonade" - this is about as lemony as you can get.

I've done a handful of crocheting for charity but never anything like this."

So again: Thank you, dear friend, for allowing me to publish a post  how awesome you are.