Sunday, April 30, 2017

Zooming #AtoZChallenge

It's the last day of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and a rare required Sunday post.

And, on this last day of the Challenge, I have a request of Mother Nature:

March 15
Barely six weeks ago, we had a record snowstorm, with some of us getting three feet of snow.
March 27, Binghamton, NY
The snow melted off, and crocuses and snowdrops appeared.
Binghamton again.

First irises, April 2.

My first daffodils.

Weeping cherry, downtown Binghamton, April 12. (A reader in India asked me "why weeping?" Because the branches point down, like the tree is unhappy and weeping.)
Forsythia, West Side of Binghamton
Forsythia, April 17
Downtown Binghamton again, New York (courtesy of my guest photographer) 4-27-17
Magnolia Broome County Courthouse by Guest Photographer 4-27-17
My Dead Nettle 4-27-17

And now, everything seems to be blooming at once.

Please stop zooming, spring.  Stop long enough for us to appreciate it!

Thank you.

And now, we are at the end of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for another year.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Yearning and Yellow #AtoZChallenge

What is nostalgia?  One definition I found (Wikipedia) says:
"The term nostalgia describes a sentimental longing for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations."
 Or, you could say, it is Yearning for the past.

As we age, we find ourselves slipping into nostalgia more and more.  I recently, in writing another post for this challenge, thought about encyclopedias. Some years ago,  I was part of a conversation that turned to encyclopedias.  Remember encyclopedias?

Door to door salesmen (in those days, mainly "men") and supermarkets sold them.  Now, you can't even give them away, even to a library book sale.  Our local library will not accept them as sales donations.

As a 20-something participant in the conversation listened in amazement, the others in the conversations (mostly people in their 50's) talked about parents scrimping and saving so we could have a set in our homes.  By the time they were paid off, (even before that!) they were obsolete.  Then, our parents would have to buy yearbook supplements so they would be up to date. Until the next year.  And then they would have to buy another yearbook.

The 20-something mused "And now we have the Internet."

It isn't just encyclopedias that are items of nostalgia now.  Nostalgia includes steel soda cans that had to be opened using church keys (those keys, not to be confused with keys to houses of worship, still exist, but the steel beverage cans don't - at least, here in the United States), candy or bubble gum cigarettes, glasses whose lenses were glass (thank heavens we have moved past those), telephone party lines, rotary phones, S&H Green Stamps, and other items of  my childhood.  I'm sure, depending on when and where you grew up, you can name totally different items.

As we grow older, these exist only in our memories, in a haze of nostalgia and yearning for the past.

Speaking of yearning, I want to treat you to some spring flower pictures from my yard  These flowers bloom for only a few days, and then we will have only our memories until they return next year.
Daffodils grow really well in this area.
I have several varieties.
This daffodil came with the house when we bought it 30 years ago, and it still comes up each year (but now, only a couple bloom.  There is too much shade where they are now.)

Tulips in our lawn.

Traveling through Time and Space with the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  Come back tomorrow, for Zee End!

Friday, April 28, 2017

XO #AtoZChallenge #SkywatchFriday

X is usually the hardest letter for Blogging from A to Z'ers. But this year, I was thinking more about the Friday meme I normally participate in - Skywatch Friday.
I decided on this photo, taken Sunday from Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, where I was visiting.

And now for the letter X.  While researching this post, I found, to my delight, that there is a song called XO, performed by Beyonce.

I dedicate this song to my readers, as I send them XO - kisses and hugs (or maybe it's the other way around.)

So,  here it is.

But I'm not done with the virtual hugs (no more kisses, though.)

The A to Z finish line is in sight, but first, I'd like to treat you to some Binghamton, New York flowers from yesterday.  These were all taken downtown by my "guest photographer".  I use an iPhone SE in my photography but my friend uses a camera.

And unlike me, she gets some great closeups, like this one of cherry blossoms.

This tree blooms near Phelps Mansion, a historic mansion well worth the visit if you are visiting the Binghamton area to see April the Giraffe.  (Hint, hint).

A magnolia in full bloom at the Broome County Courthouse.  The building you can barely see to the left, "behind" the magnolia, is the Security Mutual building.

And one more, tulips at our local Broome County library, which has its own flower garden.
Visit Skywatch Friday, where bloggers from all over the world post pictures of the sky.  And then, visit some more bloggers participating in Blogging from A to Z.

See you again tomorrow for another visual treat.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

World's (Fair) #AtoZChallenge

Because I grew up in New York City, I was fortunate enough to be able to make several visits to the 1964 New York World's Fair.

If you want to see small snippets of the fair, you may want to check out portions of this 1964 NBC documentary (complete with the peacock at the beginning that indicated that, if you had a color TV, you would be seeing this in LIVING COLOR.

I can remember seeing the Mexican troupe performing at about 6 minutes into this video.
Or you can view some of this professionally made film.

So many marvels, such as the Bell Picturephone, are everyday now - just not in the form we envisioned them back then.

One of my visits to the Fair was with my 6th grade class.  I can remember standing on a long line, and listening to this song play on a transistor radio.

So, what about today?  This is one of the f w buildings left.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Veterans #atozchallenge

I don't remember when I first got into the habit of reading the obituaries in the newspaper each morning.

Reading obituaries is the ultimate in traveling through time and space.

Every once in a while, I get the sudden urge to check on whether someone I knew long ago is still alive.  It usually doesn't end well.  For example, when I planned to visit Arkansas (where I lived almost 30 years ago, and had never been back) I looked up several people not long before I was planning to leave - my first boss, my two next door neighbors, and found out they had all died in the past several months. 

Well, back in March I published a post about Sid Hashian, the drummer of the rock band Boston on their first two albums.  I talked about a then-young man who had introduced my spouse and I to the band in 1977.

I had to know if he was still alive. Bad habit.  I knew that another young man who was a mutual friend of ours had died several years ago.  A part of me wanted to know if the friend we had lost track of years ago was still around, and a part of me didn't.

When I did an Internet search, I didn't find the ex-friend's obit.  But I did find his father's.  And, if you ask why that is significant, it is because his father's obituary brought back the memory of a good man, a man I only met once, but a man whose memory had stuck in my mind ever since.

That memory stuck enough that I wrote about our friend's father in my Veteran's Day post on November 11, 2009.  And now I know the answer to the question I asked at the end of the post, where I wondered if that veteran tormented by his war service had found peace. 

In 2015, he finally did.

Rest in peace.

Not all travels have happy endings.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Urban #AtoZChallenge

Today, in keeping with my theme of Traveling Through Time and Space, I  am posting some pictures of a visit last year to Durham, North Carolina.

Durham, years ago, lost one of its major industries.  Much of its fortune was built on the bright leaf tobacco industry.  It is said that the bright leaf process was accidentally discovered by a slave.  By the end of the Civil War, Union soldiers occupying North Carolina had discovered this tobacco, and brought their love of it back home to the North.

But, in more recent years, the tobacco warehouses that once held the tobacco that brought prosperity to this part of North Carolina lay vacant.  Now, these tobacco warehouses are being re-purposed into housing and indoor malls. Urban renewal seems to be working.

Duke University, in Durham, has some of the most beautiful flower gardens I have ever seen.  The story of the Duke family, whose fortune was made in tobacco, has not been a happy one, but I don't think of that when I visit these gardens.
Royal Burgundy Cherry and Dogwood, Duke University, April 2014
Here are some pictures of downtown Durham's Central Park.

I love outdoor art in all its forms.  And Central Park did not disappoint with this bench.

Or this signpost.

Or this sign painted on a building being repurposed.

Or its flowers and sculpture.

North Carolina attracts people from my area of upstate New York with an almost magnetic pull.  It's easy to see why.  So many people from my area end up retiring in North Carolina.

"U" day of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Tropicana Train - Music Monday #AtoZChallenge

It's been a while since I've blogged about my love of trains.

I grew up in New York City, and rode the New York subways many times.  Later in life, I was able to take a passenger train occasionally, such as the Autotrain, which runs nonstop between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida (near Orlando), a distance of approximately 900 miles (about 1450 km).

Auto Train poster in Sanford, Florida, 2013
To ride the Auto Train, you must have a vehicle with you.  The vehicles ride in special transit cars while you ride in comfort for (hopefully) the 16 hour trip.

On my trips on the Auto Train, there is one beautiful small town that I fell in love with from the first time I passed through on the train - Ashland, Virginia. 

The train tracks run down the center of town and you get a wonderful view of Railroad Avenue as you pass through the border of a college, a commercial district, and then residential homes.

But I had never seen the town, except from the train.  So, recently, I traveled to Ashland, VA to change that.
A downtown mural, Ashland, Virginia
Ashland calls itself "The Center of the Universe". I don't know about that, but it is an interesting small college town and what is called a "train town".  Yes, the trains run down the middle of the street several times a day.  Some stop.  Some don't. 
Some of the homes you will see if you ride the train through Ashland.

The train station, which doubles as the Ashland visitor center.

A train went through minutes after we arrived at the station.  Part of what the train was hauling was empty Tropicana orange juice train cars.  They fill up in Florida, and return, in what is called the "Tropicana Train".

Another view of the train.

I took this short video of the train coming.

You might say it was a Long Train Runnin'.(Thank you, Doobie Brothers.)

"T" on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge as I "travel through time and space".

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spring is Speeding By

Spring has come to upstate New York.  And now, it seems to be speeding by.

It seems like only yesterday that crocuses were in bloom.  They are long gone.

Pink marked the start of tree blooming season in Binghamton.
A weeping tree by the Broome County Courthouse.
Then things started to get serious.  The cherry blossoms were cut down by a hard freeze last year.  Not so this year.
White blooms.
And now blooming, early rhododendrons.

As far as bulbs, the tulips are out.

You'll see no yellow flowers here.  There's a reason for that. Keep coming back this week, and you'll see why.

Tomorrow, back to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Simon (& Garfunkel) Songs #AtoZChallenge

Growing up in the 1960's and the Vietnam War era, one of my favorite singing groups was the duo Simon and Garfunkel.

Their lyrics fed into all of my teenaged angst. 

I would spend hours in my room, listening to their albums on my record player, and submerge my feelings of being unloved, not understood and having the most embarrassing father ever.  Oh yes, the Vietnam War was going on, and we were all going to blow ourselves up soon.

Today, I want to share some of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs - all beginning with the letter S.
 Scarborough Fair/Canticle is a dual song with anti-war lyrics (Canticle) that start out in the background, and then grow louder and louder.   The Scarborough Fair portion of the song is not original to the duo; it dates from the Middle Ages, although (I have read that the "Parsley/Sage lyrics did not appear until the 19th century) several versions of the original ballad exist.

This was not one of their hit songs, and may not be familiar to you, but this version of Silent Night (with a simulated news broadcast getting louder and louder in the background) seems so perfect for today's climate.

And finally, another one that may not be familiar with you, but I loved how it sounded - "So Long Frank Lloyd Wright".  What I did not know until doing research for this post is that Art Garfunkel majored in art history. but only after changing his major from architecture. His first wife was an architect.   Also, one of his cousins founded 'N Sync and one of my son's favorites as a preteen, the Backstreet Boys.

"S" day on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge - my theme, Traveling Through Time and Space.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ravishing Ravenel #AtoZChallenge #SkywatchFriday

I love this bridge with all my heart.  It is the topic of today's Blogging from A to Z Challenge and Skywatch Friday.

I travel back, in time and space, to walk it in my dreams.
The Ravenel Bridge (aka the Cooper River Bridge) connects Charleston, South Carolina and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.  I have walked its full length once and have walked it partially a number of times.

I even blogged about it at least once before for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, but why not blog about it again?

Five years ago, before I lost weight, the bridge conquered my knee.  After losing almost 35 pounds, I succeeded.  It's now been two years since I last visited Charleston, and I would love to test myself against the bridge again.  Alas, if I do visit Charleston this year, it will be in August, and the heat may prevent my attempt.

But one day...I'll be back.  That's a promise.

Connect with other bloggers at Skywatch Friday and see skies from all over the world.

"R" day on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, as I travel through time and space.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Queens (My First Home) #AtoZChallenge

I was born in Queens, a borough of New York City.  I moved to the Bronx when I was five months old, and have only been back to Queens a handful of times. 

From where I grew up in the Bronx, in a family without a car (common back then), it was a long ride on the subway.

Some of our visits were during the New York World's Fair in 1964, which I will blog about in my "W" post.
March 2014
I had one memory of my babyhood - the name of the housing project I lived in and the street it was on (from something my parents told me growing up).  So I decided I would do a search, traveling through time and space, for my first home.

Let's take a little virtual trip.

First, here are some pictures of my native borough (not where I lived).

There is a large Asian population in Queens.
Where the New York Times is printed.
Jacob Riis Park - one day I will visit it.  There is plenty of water recreation in New York City - New York City is so much more than skyscrapers and museums.  I am not sure, but this may not be that far away (as a bird would fly) from where I was born in the Rockaways.

And now, we arrive at our destination.  I am seeing this, with you, for the first time.
I was able to find pictures of the housing project where I lived the first five months of my life in the Library of Congress online.  There were no known restrictions on the rights, so I am taking a chance in posting it.  This picture was taken about five months before I was born.  Who knows, perhaps my pregnant mother was in one of those buildings at the time.

I was able to find, on You Tube, videos of what the housing development has become.  It is not a happy thing.  I can be grateful I escaped more than 60 years ago.

Again, some journeys do not end well, but all it did was confirm something I had suspected.

Once again, traveling through time and space for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.