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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spring Things - Reviewing May

The month of May is my favorite month.  It's been that way for many years, from my times of living in Kansas, to Arkansas, and, finally, to upstate New York.

When I lived in Kansas and Arkansas, it was also tornado season, but that didn't matter.

I love the rush of flowers, one after the other.  This May has been wet, and also cold.  The cold is actually in the flowers' favor, making them last loner.

Here are my memories of May, tracked by these flowers I've seen on various exercise walks.

Cherry blossoms on May 1 (most of these pictures were taken on the West Side of Binghamton, New York).
Tulips.

More tulips (my house).
Creeping phlox.
Dogwoods, the second week of May.
Allium

My red columbine.
Lilacs.

By May 21, the azaleas were in full bloom.
Mollis azalea.
One of my rhodedendrons, May 27.

May ends with variegated weigela.

We've had so much rain. It makes me wonder - what will June bring?

What's blooming where you live?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Organic Life

Have you ever started to blog about something, and it turns into something else altogether?

I have, and it has happened so many times. 

I started out thinking about our community garden (I still will blog about it in the near future) and some difficulties with it.  But how did we even begin gardening?   Time for a detour.
Time to stop and smell the...honey locusts


I have memories of a magazine called Organic Gardening, which started publishing in the 1940's. Good memories It was a major influence in my life during my 20's and 30's (1970's and 1980's), especially when my spouse and I homesteaded in Northwest Arkansas.   

I kept reading it even after we returned to our native New York State in the mid-80's, and began to rent plots in a local community garden.

But times change.

A bit less than three years ago, my beloved Organic Gardening magazine turned into something called Rodale's Organic Life, more of a lifestyle magazine.

I wasn't totally happy about the change, and I wasn't the only one.

But I was going to give it a chance.

That magazine, and Mother Earth News, were more than just magazines to me.

I remember going to the Fayetteville, Arkansas library once day (perhaps around 1981 or 1982) and finding, in a giveaway bin, many issues of Organic Gardening.  Some of them were already 10 or 20 years old.  I treasured them, and even moved back to New York with them.  But, eventually, I donated them to the library in Endicott, New York and they found an eager new home (because I got to see the woman who grabbed them, eagerly).

So, getting back to Rodale's Organic Life, I accepted the change, although I wasn't really happy. I started to read back issues at the library.  But then came the May/June 2016 issue.  The theme was "love". Nothing wrong with love, right?

The issue talked about all kinds of love.  Love of peaches.  Love of good cooking.  The free food in India's Golden Temple, served with love.

And...products, non gardening products, designed for the love that, sometimes, produces new, baby gardeners. 

This (at the time) 63 year old woman, who does not consider herself a prude (but I am a product of the 1950's, after all) just stared at two articles which covered various organic (even vegan) devices and other helpful products related to...um, something we share in common with the birds and the bees. 

Not exactly the Organic Gardening of my homesteading days, was it?

I showed one of the articles to my spouse, and he said  "where was this 30 years ago?"
A peaceful farm, Hopewell Junction, New York September 11, 2016



The point isn't that Organic Gardening had morphed into a publication that had strayed away (in my view) from its core values of gardening.  I didn't quite know what to think.

But then, there was even more change.  Earlier this year, the magazine ceased its print edition.  It "went digital".

I think the organic movement needs to teach that the basis of life, food, can be grown in a way that is friendly to our planet. No matter how rich or poor you are.  Or how young or how old.  Male or female.

Digital.  Or print.  I mourn the magazine I once knew.

But I will embrace the digital presence it has become, and see what becomes of it.
Strawberry in bloom, Binghamton, New York, May 2017

However it's done, that teaching is a good thing.

I'm following the former Organic Gardening on Instagram now, along with some favorite seed companies.I'll give it a chance.

If I could show the digital world to my 30ish year old homesteading self, I think she would have approved that message.

It's a timeless message, after all.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Remembering is Our Duty

(My Music Monday post was posted yesterday, if you are looking for it.)

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day when we honor war dead and, increasingly, living veterans.  It is a holiday that dates back to the years immediately after the United States Civil War.  For years, it was known as Decoration Day, a day for decorating the graves of the Civil War dead.

For years, someone has cruised our neighborhood sometime during the Saturday before Memorial Day, leaving small American flags on the curbs.  They are picked up right after Memorial Day is over.
Seen in front yard, Binghamton, New York
These remind us that freedom is not free.  Some of our sons, our daughters, our neighbors, paid the ultimate price.  Others were civilians caught up in war.

In Europe, poppies are a symbol associated with the mourning of fallen soldiers.  Wild poppies have been seen blooming on otherwise barren battlefields.

I grew up at a time when veterans of a current war were spat upon.  Now, we are finally coming around to recognizing our veterans, as this haunting story of a veteran shows.

If you need more inspiration, join this 99 year old survivor of the Bataan Death March on an eight mile stretch of an annual 26 mile memorial march.  He will turn 100 on July 14.

The philosopher/poet Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, who we knew as George Santayana, wrote in 1905  "Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it".  There's another saying I've read, and I don't know who said it (it apparently was not Mark Twain, and there are a couple of versions of the quote):  "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme".

We must remember history.  It is our duty.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Music Sunday - On the Front Lines

Today, in the United States, the air waves are full of tributes to singer/songwriter Gregg Allman, who died yesterday(possibly from complications of liver cancer), at the age of 69.  It has been such a tragic week for music and music fans, starting with the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England (more on that later in this post).

Allman was one of many who were so creative, and also so self-destructive.  I constantly wonder about this combination, and why (in my view) it exists.

As tomorrow is Memorial Day in the United States, I am moving my Music Monday to today.

I will let Allman's music speak for itself.  What else can I add? 

Whipping Post.

Mellissa, such a sweet song.

And, a hit song on his own; "I'm No Angel".  He wasn't.

Rockers reacted in the modern way, on Twitter.

Meanwhile, in England, nearly a week after a terrorist bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, the singer beloved by so many teens and preteens (and even their parents) announced a benefit concert with proceeds going to the victims' families.  She announced this with a moving letter to her fans.

In honor of all those at that concert, here is a video of Dangerous Woman.

Meanwhile, Grande's mother has been placed under heavy security.

We live in sobering times, and depend on those in the entertainment business to help us cope with sorrow and uncertainty.  Now, after Bataclan, and Manchester, entertainers are now on the front lines. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Local Saturday - The One Thing Missing

On this Memorial Day weekend, unlike many Americans, we are staying local.
The rhododendrons are blooming, and I want to start you off with a picture of one of mine.  One thing is missing out of this picture, though - can you guess what it is?

While you think, here are some other pictures of our day.
We started our day at the local farmers market in Binghamton, in upstate New York.  The mushroom vendor we were hoping to buy from did not come today, but there were plenty of eggs to choose from.

Even more eggs - how's this for a selection?

A favorite vendor in the market for many is a Peruvian bakery, perhaps from the cookies she samples each week.  Once you taste, you just have to buy a package.  She's branched out into other foods, and they don't last long.  She is such a hard worker, she deserves all her success

After a short trip to our community garden (worth its own blog post), we planted some plants at the house.  Here is some basil now in our front yard.

I want to leave you with one thought today, after showing you this delicious food.  Remember the picture of the rhododendron flower at the top of my post. I told you there was one thing missing.

I am sorry to say I had no problems taking this picture.  And it makes me sad.

In past years, this bush would have been swarming by bees.  But, in the past few years, there have been fewer and fewer bees feeding off the blooms.

This year, I haven't seen one bee on this bush.

One small thing, perhaps, but other people I know are reporting the same thing.   This video explains some what is going on - entertaining, perhaps, but also frightening.

Are you noticing fewer bees where you live?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Storm Sunset #SkywatchFriday

We have been having a stormy spring here in upstate New York.

Last Thursday, stormclouds gathered just around sunset. The color of the sky was golden, reflecting off the stormclouds.  I only was able to capture a fraction of the color.

The stormclouds gather.

The sunset as seen through a Norway Maple facing west.

And more stormclouds.

Join other bloggers at #skywatchfriday and see skies from all over the world.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Golden Rain #ThursdayTreeLove

Part of my love of trees, and growing plants in general, is finding plants growing that are out of the ordinary.

Where I live, in upstate New York, some trees are common - maples and oaks, for example.  Some may be endangered, such as the ash, and will (sadly) become uncommon in years to come.

Others are not common at all.  Today, I want to show you a tree not common to my part of New York State.

Recently, an Indian bloger, Shalini Baiswala, posted a picture on Instagram (something I recently joined) of what we call a Golden Rain Tree here in the states.  I didn't think they grew where I live.
Binghamton May 21
Ok, I admit it.  I was wrong.

Because I don't trespass onto peoples' property when I take pictures I wasn't able to enjoy the scent of this tree.

This find made my day. I hope the golden rain of this tree makes you happy, too.

If you want to check out (or participate in) other #Thursdaytreelove posts, join me, Parul, and other bloggers and show your love for the trees we share this world with.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spring Things - First Rose and More

I've been saving some nice flower photos for today, just for you, my readers.
Sunday, I saw my first roses, on a traffic divider where I walk for exercise in Binghamton, New York.  These roses have such a heavenly fragrance.  Too bad they don't bloom all summer.  (Note, none of these flowers are mine.)
Alas, the last of the lilacs are blooming.

The azaleas are in full bloom.  Here is a closeup of white flowers.

Bachelor Button, one of the few blue flowers.

And finally, some beautiful dianthus to round out a late spring walk in Binghamton.

Anything blooming where you live?

Linking today with Write Tribe and #writingwednesdays

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

At Times Like This

This is not the post I wanted to post today.

I am looking at a picture.  It's a professional photo, so I don't have the rights to post it, but it's a precious photo for me.  It shows me, my spouse, and my son with another father and son, in a whitewater raft (the only time I've done white water) on a river in Pennsylvania, as we shot out the gate and into our wild adventure. 

It was taken on July 7, 2005, minutes after we had found out about the London bombings now known as the "7/7 bombings".


The Manchester bombings of (for us in Eastern Time in the United States) early last night will now join the ranks of the millions of atrocities we humans have inflicted on ourselves, all over our world.  This wasn't just any bombing, it was quickly obvious, but one that targeted teens and children trying to have a good time with a suicide bomb full of nails.  It was timed to occur just as the concert ended, as the bomber knew well people would be crowding together to leave.

There are many other incidents, of course, that never even reach the media, people suffering as the world never knows (or, in some instances, cares).

In some ways that picture of my family and another poised on the edge of of churning water is a metaphor of our world.  The white rapids come, and they come, and they come.  All the kindness of the world doesn't seem to matter at times like this, even as Manchester mobilizes to shield the living victims and give them shelter, medical treatment, and comfort.

Now, the cycle of hate will continue.  So all we can do is voice our condemnation, and try to continue to live our lives as normally as we can.  It won't be easy.

But we must, or those forces would have won.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Music Monday - Middle Aged Suicide

When my husband, a  Soundgarden and Audioslave fan, heard the news of rocker Chris Cornell's death, he couldn't believe it.

Soundgarden, the band Chris Cornell was the lead vocalist for at the time of his death, was participating in a Rock on the Range tour.  He had finished a live concert in Detroit, and must have been feeling the love of his fans.  Other concerts were on his schedule.
Cornell's last song is above (it's about 13 minutes long) if you care to see him hours before his death.

Why did he take his life?  Why? Why? Why?  How many times have we asked ourselves that in recent years?  His family says the suicide wasn't intentional; it may have been caused by a side effect of prescription medication.  But Cornell suffered from depression from a lot of his life, and life has not been easy for him (or anyone else who suffers from this variety of illness).

Meantime, I found this sobering statistic:  middle aged men between 45 and 65 (Cornell was 52) have the highest rate of suicide of any age group.  These men suffer in silence.  They don't reach out for help.  They must be reached in non-traditional ways.

As anyone who has had a suicide in their family knows, the impact is huge.  This pain is public, but so many go through this pain privately.

Will Cornell's death change the suicide statistics? Will we pay more attention to the issue? That remains to be seen.

I've had an earworm with  the hit song "Black Hole Sun" for the last couple of days.  So, instead of that, I'm featuring three other songs from Soundgarden, hoping they will chase the earworm away.

"Fell on Black Days" is a product of Cornell's struggles with depression.

Spoonman is a song I enjoy - in some ways it reminds me of Led Zepplin.

I will end with another song called Outshined, a personal favorite.

Another great talent gone too young.  I can't say much more.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hidden in Plain Sight

I used to have a Civil War Sunday feature on my blog for some four years.  After our Civil War was over, slavery (which was legal in some parts of our country and not in others) was abolished everywhere. (Sadly, "abolished" was a relative word).

One thing we learned in post-Civil War history was that freeing enslaved people does not necessarily make them free.  Both enslaved people and their owners are forever changed by the institution of slavery.  You can't undo that with the stroke of a pen or the firing of a gun.

Many times, enslaved people can be freed physically, but being freed mentally is a whole other story.

Here is an amazing story of an immigrant who died in 2011 who also spent almost her entire life as an enslaved person, told by a son of the family that enslaved her.  This is  the cover story of the June 2017 The Atlantic.

But, in other ways, this one story is not amazing at all.  This article in the Atlantic magazine has a large "rest of the story".

When the man who wrote this story had someone write an obituary for the woman his family called "Lola", he lied.  The obituary omitted the truth of her enslaved condition and the years of abuse that bent and warped her, abuse (both physical and mental), hidden in plain sight from her American neighbors.

The abuse prevented her from taking advantage of the freedom finally offered her.  She never learned to drive or use many modern devices.

But, at the same time, you feel for the man who wrote the article - for growing up in a household where he was raised by an enslaved person, witnessing the abuse she suffered and being (while young) powerless to stop it.  He was warped by the experience, too.  I do not condemn him in any way for initially not telling the truth of Lola.  No, I congratulate him, for speaking of a taboo topic.

The fact that so many are commenting online about this article means that we are being made to think about an inconvenient truth - that enslavement still takes place in our country, and you may live or work near such a person, without ever knowing it.

Maybe even right next door to you.

Here is a link to the article and to what has been written in response.  It is well worth reading, on this Sunday before our Memorial Day holiday.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sustainable Saturday - The Mathematic

Today, I made a trip back to a farm market near Bainbridge, New York, called Frog Pond, because I wanted to catch someone on video for a blogger, Liz, whose blog I enjoy.  She's a teacher out in California who also sells her crafts at a local  market.  She also knits, a skill I've never been able to master (I have been a crocheter for some 45 years now, however.)

We bought some wonderful local asparagus there today.

Rhubarb, I'm not fond of, but many are.

At this time, much of the food isn't local, but, as I've written before, you can try anything there before you purchase it, so you have a good idea if the quality is good or not.

I've blogged about a cashier (I believe he is a part owner of the business) who adds up your order mentally, in a sing song voice something like an auctioneer.  And the California teacher wanted to hear him in action.

So, Liz, here he is, misspelling and all.


Someone online called him a "mathematic". I don't know if it's a word, but if it is, it describes him pretty well.

Have you ever tried mental math?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Clouds from Both Sides Now #SkywatchFriday

Monday, I was walking, and saw the sun shining through some clouds.  The reflection of the sun on the clouds in the first photo is what caught my eye.

I decided to take pictures of that sky from different angles.
And another one from around the same angle as the first but a minute or two later.
How interesting what a difference several seconds makes.

Welcome to Skywatch Friday, where photographers from all over the world post pictures of the sky.  Come join us in our skywatching - it's fun!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Horse Chestnut #ThursdayTreeLove

In upstate New York, we have a beautiful tree called the horse chestnut.  It is in bloom now, and I want to show one if it's flowers to you for #ThursdayTreeLove..
Large leaves.  And even larger flowers. Unlike some spring trees, they don't flower until their leaves are grown out.  Flowers can be either whitish or pink.  This is one of the white varieties.

And in the fall, the tree produces inedible nuts that children love to play games with.  One game, in particular, conkers, stretches back hundreds of years.  There's an entire tradition in Great Britain built around preparing and playing with your horse chestnut nut (conker).

What a lot of history rolled into one majestic tree.

If you want to learn even more about these majestic trees, click here.

Join Parul Thakur and other bloggers who love trees for #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Spring Things - Impossible Dream Update

She dreamed the impossible dream.
She fought the impossible fight.
I felt such unbearable sorrow
But then....

In the spring of 2015, my spouse and I decided to try the impossible - to grow a camilla in upstate New York.  Camillas are southern plants which bloom with beautiful rose like blooms.  And they are not hardy in our zone 5b back yard.

But since when did the impossible stop a gardener?

We went to Chapel Hill in North Carolina, to a nursery we had found out about on the Internet.  They specialize in camillas, and are trying to grow "hardy" camillas.  I have seen camillas in New York City but we are not in the same climate zone.  Even the most hardy camilla in Chapel Hill is only rated to zone 6a.

But we couldn't resist and bought an April Rose plant.

In 2015, the buds were already opening, and it bloomed.

Last year, it had buds, but something ate most of the buds.  And then, no new buds grew for the 2017 blooming season. It was a fail.   Or so we thought.  I didn't stop dreaming.

Apparently, neither did April Rose.

Because, on May 7, we saw this. 

And we immediately erected a fence so the lone bloom wouldn't be eaten..

I took these pictures after a hailstorm, on May 14.

This picture is from yesterday, as April Rose blooms with her one bloom.

April Rose has done the impossible again.

Even plants, it would seem, can dream.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fireworks Oreos are Popping Up All Over

My regular readers know I love Oreos, but would I eat one in the name of patriotism?

It's been a while since I've tried a new Oreo flavor.  Some of the more recent ones have not appealed to me at all.  The reviews on this one, however, seem to be positive.
When I saw these in the store, a memory came back of the time a co worker brought in sandwich cookies (not Oreos) with Pop Rocks ground into the cream filling.  They were so good - and fun, too.

So, I ought these and I will be tasting them today.

Alas, while trying to lose weight (right now, not too successfully), Oreos are more or less off limits.

And, I still miss my all time favorite, the strawberry Oreo (not to be confused with mixed berry).  But, maybe this one will be The One - the one that takes the place of strawberry oreos as my favorite.

Will these explode off the shelves?

Here are some of my other Oreo posts:
Peeps Oreos - Yea or Nay?
Happy 100th Birthday to my Favorite Cookie
Watermelon Oreos

Monday, May 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day May 2017

Every 15th of the month,  I blog about what is blooming in my upstate New York (zone 5b) garden.

This month marks the end of my sixth year of participating monthly in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  I hope you will join us, too.

Until the last week, I thought that spring was going to zoom by so quickly that I would have nothing to post.  No tulips, no daffodils, no grape hyacinths, no cherry blossoms.  I even thought that our lilacs (normally barely starting to bloom now) would be gone.  Everything, due to a mild winter, had sped up.  But then, spring paused.

Our weather has been unseasonably cool.  Cool, and rainy.  Yesterday, we got marble sized hail.

In between the rain and thunderstorms, I took some pictures.  I decided to put some of the flower pictures into a collage, including flowers from a couple of my hanging baskets.  It's only the second collage I've ever made, and I hope you enjoy it.

Here are some other flowers in bloom today, starting with columbine.
Lilacs (one of three bushes I have).  Another bush is in the collage above.

A basket of pansies I made up last month has turned out so lovely.

My son's Mother's Day gift basket - shocking pink geraniums.  This will look so wonderful in my front yard.
Night sky petunia (I hope that isn't a supernova over on the right).
My pink bleeding heart, a little drowned out.

And finally, my silver frost brunneria, which is threatening to take over my back yard.

Now that you've seen my yard, please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens and see what is blooming all over the world.