Friday, June 30, 2017

June Moods #SkywatchFriday

The last #SkywatchFriday of June, 2017, here in upstate New York brings us a variety of clouds.
The golden hour June 26, taken from a window on the West Side of Binghamton, New York not long before a small rainstorm.

Clouds like white cheese curds, Binghamton, New York.

And finally, downtown Binghamton, New York, clouds put office buildings into shadow.

Join bloggers from all over the world who celebrate the sky each week in #SkywatchFriday.

Hoping all of you, from the United States or not, have an awesome week.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Linden - #ThursdayTreeLove

On Tuesday, walking on the west side of Binghamton, New York, the small city where I work, I smelled a fragrance I had not smelled in almost a year.

I had to think for a minute about where the scent was coming from.  Then I remembered.  We walked quickly, to find the tree it was coming from, and to immerse ourselves in it.

If I could write an ode to you, oh Linden, oh Basswood, oh LittleLeaf Linden, it might talk about how useful you are, how long you live, and...oh, the scent, when you bloom at the end of June.
But instead, let's let the tree do the talking. The flowers are small but...oh, that scent.

What a mighty talker it would be.

Come join Parul at Happiness and Food for #ThursdayTreeLove.  Post a picture of a tree, link back to her blog, and play along.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Memories - Symphony in Yellow

For 11 months of the year I live with the memories of my lilies.

Then, in one glorious month's worth of time, they bloom.

The show is just beginning.  From my yard to yours, the first movement of a symphony.

First, these lilies come out.  I don't know exactly what type they are, but I suspect they are Asiatic lilies.   (I am famous for losing track of what I plant, and sometimes I buy plants on clearance that aren't labeled, and are inexpensive as a result.)

Then, as these bloom, my day lilies start to come out.
Each daylily flower lasts - yes, just one day.  This flower is just opening.

Fully open.

This lily, opening up, looks like a triangle.

Are they angry at each other?  No.

Lily season in upstate New York.  Soon, other colors will come along.  Come back next week for more.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Flood and A Dream

Imagine this:

You own a successful bar.  But that is not your dream.

Your dream is to work with animals.  It has been your passion since you can remember.  But there is that matter of earning a living.

Then one day, there is a massive flood.  Your business is flooded, as is your home.

Now what?

Do you rebuild?  Or do you close your bar and follow your dream?

A man by the name of Jordan Patch decided to follow his dream.  He purchased land about 30 minutes from where I live in upstate New York.  He opened a private zoo called Animal Adventure Park.  He hoped that people would come.  They did, little by little.

Then one day, he trained a webcam on a pregnant giraffe named April and...the rest is history.

Dreams really can come true.  Just consider the story of Jordan Patch and the giraffe now beloved by literally millions.

As someone who was impacted by that same flood, in September of 2011, I am so inspired by the story of Jordan Patch.

I've written several posts about April the Giraffe, who had her baby on April 15, 2017.  But there is still one more piece to this story - the story about Jordan's little girl, Ava.

I will continue to follow the stories of April, Jordan and Ava.

Do you have a dream?  Don't wait for a flood.

Make it happen today.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Music Moves Me - The Governor's Playlist

Do you have a playlist on a music device?  Believe it, or not, I don't.  I tend to be somewhat old school with my music listening.  I have an iPhone, but I don't use it for music.  Ditto for an old MP3 player, which I only listen to on trips.  I don't subscribe to any streaming service, although I used to listen to Amazon Prime when it was free to Prime subscribers.  (When they started to charge - well, adios.)

So this from several months ago caught my eye.

In honor of the streaming music service Spotify relocating to the rebuilt World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan, the Governor of New York released his Spotify playlist earlier this year.

What kind of songs did the Governor include in his playlist?  Here's a small selection.  Hint:  not all of them are by New York artists or about New York.

Billy Joel - The Downeaster "Alexa".  A New York artist singing a song about the New York fishing industry, I just love this video. 

Bruce Springsteen - Erie Canal.  Bruce is from New Jersey, but the Erie Canal is 100% New York.

Simon and Garfunkel - America.

Art Garfunkel is a native of Queens and Paul Simon is from New Jersey, and they've come to look for America.  This song is a fond memory of my high school years, as I dreamed of walking off to look for America one day.  I loved Simon and Garfunkel.  I would listen to their albums in my room, over and over.

Two New Yorkers (Tony Bennett is from Queens and Lady Gaga from Manhattan) performing the standard "Cheek to Cheek" live.

And finally - I didn't research the New York connection, but I spent many happy hours listening to this album (on vinyl!) back in 1971.   I so love the keyboard playing on this.

Here's the entire playlist, if you are interested.

Connecting today with Music Moves Me, a blog hop and Music Train run by Marie at X-Mas Dolly.  The other Conductors  Callie of JAmerican Spice, and Stacy Uncorked♥  and Cathy from Curious as a Cathy .  Come hop to other blogs now and see what music they are playing on this Freebie Monday!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Roses 2017

This is a tradition on my blog, a cherished visit to a local botanical garden and their old fashioned roses.  Actually, not all of them are heirlooms, but this free jewel of Binghamton, New York is well worth a visit for its roses and for all of their flowers.  In fact, the daylilies are starting to bloom.

But back to the roses.  If only there was smell-o-blog, where I could transmit the fragrance to you, but there isn't, and I can't.

This year, I start with Rosa gallica 'Tuscany Superb', from around 1837.

This rose is supposed to darken into a purple but I love the color I did see.

 Raubritter, a "ground cover" rose introduced in 1936.
One of my favorites, Mme. Hardy, a damask first introduced in 1832.  So beautiful and white.

Ishpahan damask, also introduced in 1832.

Moving into red territory, how about Dortmund?  This is a climber, introduced around 1955.

Finally (this is a ramblin' blog after all), Albertine, a rambling rose from 1921.

I don't grow roses.  I used to, years ago, but had too many insect issues.  Yet, I love them, and hope you love today's post, too.

In today's world, I hope this blog can be a place to rest for a few minutes, so you can go forth with renewed strength. 

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Local Saturday - The Beauty of Food

Some photos from today's farmer's market in Binghamton, New York.

Kohlrabi.  This is a member of the brassica family and these are not roots but are a cultivar of cabbage.  The word comes from the German for "cabbage turnip".
Not quite mature onions. 

Beets.  Red beets aren't my favorite, but, aren't these pretty?

Strawberries.  What is finer (for those not allergic to them) but a freshly picked strawberry?  Alas, due to local weather conditions, the quality has not been the best.  But one day I will try a "strawberry healthycake".

And a surprise.  I suspect these spears of asparagus aren't local due to the time of year, but we bought some, anyway, as they looked so good. (Alas, our market is no longer a 100% produced locally market). They were under a tent, and its color tinted the picture purplish.

Do you have a favorite thing to buy at a farmer's market?  Or, would you visit one just for the atmosphere?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Storm Clouds - #SkywatchFriday

Last Sunday, just after sundown, a storm blew up in my neighborhood near Binghamton, New York.

Standing on my porch, I saw frightening looking clouds,  But, my spouse, who has been interested in the weather all of his life, told me there would be wind, but nothing else to worry about.

Here are some of the other pictures I took.

My spouse was right.  We never were put under a tornado watch.

The power of nature fills us with awe, as we are powerless to hold the storm back.  We are at its mercy.

Join other bloggers from all over the world at #SkywatchFriday,  where our focus is the sky.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

#ThursdayTreeLove - Catalpa

You don't have to go far to find beauty.

Sometimes, it's just around the corner.  Or, it's next door.  Look around you, and you may be surprised what you find.
In my neighborhood in upstate New York are some catalpa trees. These are native to our area.
Here's a close up.
A lovely cluster of somewhat fragrant flowers. 

Besides these late spring flowers, "beans" will grow later in the summer.  It's a beautiful shade tree - a bit messy, but it can be forgiven for that.
Join other bloggers for #ThursdayTreeLove, hosted by Parul Thakar at the blog Happiness and Food.

Love a tree today.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Memories - Privet

Today is the first day of summer in the Northern hemisphere.  We say goodbye to my "spring things" feature.  This summer, I plan something called Summer Memories.
The privet bloomed early this year.  It is finishing up now - this picture was taken a week ago.

To me, the scent of privet is summer, distilled.  It is the flower scent I remember the most from growing up in the Bronx in the 1950's and 1960's.

It seems to have become a tradition of sorts for me to blog about privet at the end of spring or the beginning of summer, so why mess with that theme?

Here's a post from 2015, which incorporates a post from 2014.

Local Saturday - The Last Full Day of Spring

Last weekend, we visited my mother in law's house.  The privet hedges were blooming, and the heady fragrance lay heavy in the warm, humid air.

Saturday night, my mother in law's next door neighbor came over to visit.  She let me look at her Facebook page and I saw something amazing - she went to my local high school, back in the Bronx.

We exchanged notes and I remembered we grew up less than 1/2 mile, and 20 years, apart.  But I never knew she had gone to my junior high school, or my local high school.  (I didn't go to my local high school, but I learned to swim in its pool, the pool she remembered so well.)

Ah, childhood memories.

Today is the last day of spring, and I want to bring you back perhaps 55 years (OK, a teeny bit more than 55 years) for a special memory brought back by the scent of the old fashioned privet hedges in front of my mother in law's house.  This is a post I wrote last June after a different visit to her house.

Privet and Bees, Scent and Memory

A memory of over 50 years ago.

I grew up in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, in a city housing project.  All green spaces in the project were carefully fenced away behind chain link fences.  We children would get into trouble with the maintenance men who cared for the project if we climbed the fences and dared to play in the greenery.  So, of course, we did it as often as possible.

In June, the privet would bloom.  
The blend of humidity and sweet privet scent would attract bees to the hedges.
It's a scent I love to this day.

The boys would catch the bees in glass jars.  That's not something we girls really got into.  Instead, we would look for ladybugs to catch.

Yesterday, I visited my mother in law, who lives in a suburb of New York City.

It was warm, and humid, and privet hedges were blooming in front of her house.

They were swarming with bees.

The heady scent brought me back over 50 years in a matter of seconds.  I was a little girl once again, climbing chain link fences while we looked out for the project maintenance men, so my playmates and I could have a few minutes of interaction with nature.

Scent and memory. A living time machine.

Has scent ever brought you back to a favorite childhood memory?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Throwback Tuesday - The Country of Cancer

Back in 2011, I wrote the following blog post.  Both the people I blogged about below have since passed away due to their cancers.  One, a childhood friend, would have turned 65 yesterday.
In her honor, I repeat the blog post I wrote after she called me to tell me of her diagnosis.

I rarely write political posts, but I felt this was appropriate this week, as the Senate ponders major changes in health care.

She loved her roses so much, I will add one to this blog post in memory of her.

The Country of Cancer

This has not been a good few weeks for a couple of people I know.

Without going into any kind of specifics, in the past week, I have found out that a friend I have had since childhood, and someone I've known locally for a number of years, have cancer.  In one instance, the "patient" knows the cancer will be fatal - the question is when.  For the other person, that "patient" is in the middle of testing to find out the exact details. The question for that person will be if it was found early enough because that cancer does not have a high survival rate. 

Both of these people are highly educated - one has a masters degree. The other worked at one time in the medical field.  Both are taxpayers.

One is a reader of this blog.

I do not like to get political in this blog, but I am going to make an exception today. And I am going to run a bit longer than I normally do.  Please bear with me.

It takes a village to support someone with cancer, and our country is doing a horrible job of it.

You can have the best of insurance and still find yourself in the position of trying to pay overwhelming medical bills.  If you don't have "Cadillac" insurance, that old Buick insurance isn't going to get you very far.

What your caretaker(s) are going to end up with is an overwhelming pile of paperwork.  There are programs to help pay the bills out there, and those programs are going to require everything short of your firstborn son.  I'm not talking government programs here necessarily - I am talking nonprofit programs for co-pay relief, charities, programs run by the pharmaceutical company, programs run (perhaps) by where you are receiving treatment.

Government?  Well - there's the Department of Health and Human Services and Social Security, too. (and some people want to abolish them, don't they?) There's Medicare.  Just as a reminder, Medicare is a program of our Federal Government.

Need assistance?  You'd better have your income tax returns, your insurance card(s), your checking account statements, your savings account statements, your pay stubs, and about 50 or so other things (or so it will seem), all at the ready.  Make lots of copies because you are going to need them.  Stock up on stamps.  Hope you have a decent computer, and lots of time on your hands when you don't feel like absolute crud.

The caretaker and the cancer patient must struggle to pay those bills while juggling (maybe) a job, (definitely) either chemo, radiation, or both, and lots of issues.  Sounds like a job for the son or daughter of Superman.  If they are only human, and fallible, they are in trouble.  Do you know any of the children of Superman?  I don't.

Suddenly a caretaker?  There are federal job protections but we know how that can work, depending on how decent your employer is.  Cynical?  I personally know someone who was a caretaker for her father, and lost her job because of it.  The person wasn't a resident of New York State but she could have been. It does happen. 

We have a seriously broken system. We expect people to do all these things while fighting a dread illness.  Fighting that illness should be the first priority.  Financing that struggle should not be part of it.

But too many times, it is.

It hurts, but in our holiday season, it hurts more.  In an area recovering from a natural disaster like we are here in upstate NY, it hurts even more.

In the United States, we call ourselves "the greatest country in the world".

But, they and the people who care for them can rant all they want, but that cancer patient and his/her family needs help and ranting won't (so to speak) pay the rent.

So they will buckle down like so many others have done before them,  and walk that path of nails.  If they are lucky they will have a lot of support of family and friends.  But not everyone has that.  There are too many cracks to fall through for the citizens of this "greatest country of the world".

Become politically active, you say? It's hard to advocate for change when you are in a survival situation.

Observe it well.  Educate yourself.  Unless things change, the next time this dread disease knocks, one of us bystanders may be answering that door.

So sad that this is just as true in July of 2017 as it was in November of 2011.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Music Moves Me - Memories of a Friend

Today, on Music Moves me, the theme is "Songs with a Location in the Title".
Brooklyn rowhouses
A friend I grew up with would have turned 65 today, and I'd like to remember her in this post.

She lived most of her life in Brooklyn, and my father was a native of Brooklyn, so why not start with the location of Brooklyn for my first song?

Neil Diamond - Brooklyn Roads

Those who know me well know I am a Simon and Garfunkel fan.  So, I switch to Manhattan and offer this song, "Bleeker Street".  

My friend's husband is a musician, someone who performs in community choruses and helps to moderate a music group on Facebook.  I was honored to see him perform once, the spring after Superstorm Sandy hit New York City.  The theme of the concert was water.

Today, I immediately thought of a song about seas; I guess "Beyond the Sea" is a song with a location in it.  Isn't it?

My friend and I both went to the same high school as Bobby Darin (just not at the same time).  In fact, that wasn't his name at the time - his birth name was Walden Robert Cassotto.  Sadly, as a child, he suffered from rheumatic fever, which weakened his heart and caused him lifelong problems.  He died, from complications of surgery related heart valve replacement surgery, when he was only 37 years old.

"Beyond the Sea" was released in 1960.  That, and "Mack the Knife", are two of my favorite songs.

Finally, I have blogged about this song before, but it fits this theme so way.  Glen Campbell was born in the same year as Bobby Darin, and now, he is perhaps in the final months of his life, his mind taken from us by Alzheimer's.  This is my favorite Glen Campbell song - Wichita Lineman.  In fact, several of his hits have locations in their title.

If you are just here for music, jump to the bottom of this post and join the other dancers on the dance floor of Music Moves Me.  If you wish to join the hop, come on in, the music is fine!

The rest of this post is a small remembrance of my friend.

I remember how much my friend loved to garden.  When I think of roses, or strawberries, I think of my friend.
Today, roses are in bloom where I live in upstate New York, and the strawberries are ripe.

Here are some posts I wrote during that last period in her life.

Crocheting for charity
A backyard grows in Brooklyn (featuring her small backyard garden)
More of her backyard
Haiku in Brooklyn 

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Cathy, and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day 2017

This is a post, slightly reworked, that I originally wrote on what would have been my father's 100th birthday.  I am using this post as a Father's Day tribute.  My Dad would have been 102 if he was still alive.

Here's the post:
The last neighborhood in Brooklyn where my father lived
One hundred years ago today, my father was born.

July of 1914.  The world is on the brink of World War I, going through a series of crises, but no one knows how close to war the world is yet.  My father is too young to know.  He certainly doesn't know that the life expectancy for a male born in 1914 is only 52 years.  Or that the leading causes of death in 1914 included tuberculosis, influenza, and diarrhea.  Or that his one daughter would use something called the "Internet" one day to blog, and to pay tribute to him.

My father was born and grew up in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood called Brownsville.  My grandfather owned a candy store, which he ran with the help of his wife, my grandmother, and his six children.

In the 1930's, my father's mother died, from complications of high blood pressure, an illness so easily treated today.  My father ended up quitting high school after two years.

He doesn't have too much of an Internet presence, my father, but there are a couple of things I can find.  I looked at his record in the 1940 census, still living at home with his father and several siblings.  1942, his enlistment record in the United States Army, where his term of enlistment was for the duration of World War II "plus six months", show him as "single with dependents". I suspect one of the dependents was his younger brother, the only sibling still alive today.

The military experience shaped his life.  For the first time, he was out of Brooklyn. He saw the South.  He saw India.  He would sometimes tell me stories about his time in India as bedtime stories.

My father didn't make it to the end of the war.  He suffered a head injury and was flown back to the States.  He was given an honorable discharge but suffered the aftereffects of that injury for the rest of his life.

After the war, my father married.  When I was 12, my mother died, and my father raised me to adulthood as a single father in his Bronx apartment in a city housing project.

When his last sister died, in the mid 2000's, the funeral procession didn't go directly to the cemetery.  It wound through Brooklyn, going through some neighborhoods before it got on the highway. I wondered where we were going and why.  It didn't occur to me at the time that we were going near to where where she, and my father, had grown up. One final tribute.  My father had died almost twenty years before.

I owe a lot to my father and the simple, everyday lessons he taught me.  He did what he could the best he knew how. He ended his life in Brooklyn, in the same facility where his own father spent his last days.

My love of history, which love I share with my late father, got me to thinking how much our world has changed in the 100 years since my father was born.

And, how much the world has stayed the same.

Happy Father's Day, wherever you are, Dad.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Local Saturday - Strawberries Forever

In Binghamton, New York, my spouse and I walk towards the farmers market.
Beautiful Korean Dogwood
Isn't this dogwood beautiful?

So fortunate that Cutler Botanic Gardens is right next to the market, although parking can get a bit tight.  The roses are finally opening up and I hope to have some pictures for you later this week.

Peas are finally in season.

Beautiful display.

It's strawberry time.  It's been a long wait!  Doesn't the display of strawberries seem to stretch on forever?

Visions of strawberry shortcake are dancing in my head - now to find a low calorie version.
Someone is still picking asparagus.

What is your favorite strawberry recipe? 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ithaca Festival #SkywatchFriday

Ithaca, New York is a college town in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

On the first weekend in June, Ithaca holds a festival called the Ithaca Festival, held in various areas, including the downtown Commons.

We went up there on a beautiful day (unlike all the days we've had rain, or heat).
Home Dairy Alley.

A decorative hanging.

The downtown Commons, where many gathered to see music performances, shop for crafts, and eat.

Finally, the Cayuga Creamery, north of Ithaca on Cayuga Lake, one of (in my humble opinion) the best ice cream parlors in upstate New York.

Join other bloggers in visiting Skywatch Friday, where bloggers from all over the world show the sky.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - June 2017

It seems like only yesterday since I last posted for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, a monthly meme taking place on the 15th of each month.

Here in upstate New York, we were part of an extensive heat wave.   Fortunately it didn't last as long for us as it did for some others.
I thought my pansies would burn up in the heat wave that just ended, but they are still here.

So, what else is blooming?
Right now, I have so many annuals blooming in my zone 5b front yard near Binghamton, New York that I decided to make a collage.
Here's  a flower that didn't make it into the collage - a Sweet William.

But not much is happening with my perennials.  At this time of year, I have a gap in the action.  I need to think about buying something that will help fill that gap.  This is what I can show you.

A wild rose sprung up several years ago on the side of my house, entangled with a couple of my lilac bushes.

In the back, plenty of Yellow corydalis, also known as yellow bleeding heart.
Inside my house, I still have a couple of orchids blooming - this one white.

And pink.

Once again I thank Carol at May Dream Gardens in Indiana, who hosts this monthly event.  Please, now that you have visited my blog, visit other participants and see what is blooming all over the world.  At this time more than ever, in between tragedies in the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere, we need to know that there is beauty in the world.