Monday, July 31, 2017

Music Moves Me - Songs Beginning with A

A my name is AM and I live in....

Well, that's as far as I can go with the old childhood ball-playing rhyme I learned on the streets of the 1950's Bronx.  So I am going to start off today's theme on Music Moves Me, "songs beginning with the first letter of your name", with a song by Dion (born Dion DiMucci), who started his singing career on the streets of the Bronx.

Abraham, Martin and John is a song that can still make me emotional after all these years.  On a side note, Dion decided not to get on a certain airplane flight on February 3, 1959 - the flight that crashed and ended the lives of three other rock greats - Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. Instead, Dion now is still active in music, in addition to participating in prison ministry as a devout Roman Catholic.

Angie, by the Rolling Stones, is my next selection.  If you don't like their rock/blues output, you will love this slow song.  When I hear this song, I am transported back to 1973, when I was going to college, and was working a summer job in downtown Manhattan, not far from the soon-to-be-completed World Trade Center.

Another group I love is Boston.  Such a shame that they never had much musical output - just six studio albums, according to my research.  One of my favorites (possibly because I know someone named Amanda) is their song "Amanda".   The album, Third Stage, was the last album I purchased new as an actual record album.  1986....

But so much for mellow.  Let's get a little dancing going.

All Night Long by Lionel Richie

All The Things She Said, by the Scottish group Simple Minds.

If you don't have around 15 minutes to spare, you can skip this next one - not totally a singing song but more of a storytelling.  Arlo Guthrie and Alice's Restaurant.

And one more.  In honor of my recent visit to Animal Adventure Park (home of April, the Giraffe - gee, two more "A"'s) - Africa, by Toto.

Join this #MusicMovesMe blog hop every Monday - here are the people responsible for it:
X mas Dolly is the Conductor of this trip, and the other Conductors are her fellow bloggers Callie of JAmerican Spice, ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  and Cathy from Curious as a Cathy !

It's also the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost and the last week of July.

Let's rock!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Not Bad For An Old Man

Yesterday, I participated in a "cousins" family reunion on my father's side.   I don't know if there will be another one.  It gets harder and harder to fit things in.

Things were different last time (the reunion I blogged about yesterday, which took place five years ago next week).  It seemed like a lot less work.  My spouse cooked on the grill.  We stayed up, laughing, until almost 11 pm.

Now, the planning was almost like climbing a mountain.  All of us had less energy. We all had aches and pains.  One cousin was recovering from surgery.  One had a painful problem that going to various doctors hadn't diagnosed.  The wife of still another cousin had obvious problems with her balance.

No BBQ this time. Cousins chipped in for platters prepared by a local supermarket.  

By 9:15, when the last people left, there were more yawns and bleary looks than laughs.

I haven't mathematically figured this out, but I think I am past halfway in the age range of the cousins on my father's side.  There are twelve of us cousins in all, ranging in age from mid 50's to 70 (or perhaps slightly older than that).  Not all of us were able to come. We talked by phone with one, and by Skype with another. Still others had too much going in in their lives.

I was grateful for this:  All of us are alive.  We have memories.  All of us are "here" mentally.

After eating, we talked on the phone with the last living biological uncle, who is in his early 90's. His wife, who is younger, is our last aunt.  They live about 850 miles from us.

When asking him how he was doing, he said "not bad for an old man".

I flashed back to when I visited him as a teenager, when he was an energetic man in his 40's, raising three children (my youngest cousins).  Now, those young children are in their 50's.

If we wait for another five years, Uncle may well be gone.

Not only him.  Some of us may well be gone. 

We are blessed - all of us are alive. Our spouses (save for one of us, and she could not come) are alive. All of our children are alive.  The same can't be said for other people my age I know, people who have lost spouses, lost children, lost siblings.

We are fortunate, but we know it's only a matter of time.  The clock is ticking.  That next reunion can not wait another five years but will we have the energy to put it together?

One day, I can only hope, we will be saying "not bad for an old man" or "not bad for an old woman" to the children of the next generation.  Somewhere.  Somehow.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Local Saturday - The Reunion

It is five years since some first cousins and their families gathered at my home in Westover, near Johnson City, New York for a mini family reunion.  We are having  another one today. 

We have been through so much, all of us, since the last reunion.  And we are five years older.  If we have one five years from now, how many of us will be able to come, I wonder, and will we all be alive?

After the 2012 reunion was over, I wrote this blog post.  So hard to believe it's been six years since a flood devastated my neighborhood, and other parts of the Triple Cities of Upstate New York.

The building below, once the largest wood framed structure in the United States, was torn down last year.  It was ruined by the flood.  Only vacant land remains.  I was reminded of this, as I had to rewrite the directions to get to our house.

Former BAE Industries, Westover, NY, July 3, 2014
This is the post I wrote after the 2012 cousins reunion, on the eve of the first anniversary of the flood - September 8 and 9, 2011.  It's a post of trauma, but also of hope.

Day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

On the Cover of the Rolling....Flood Book (written in August of 2012)

It is said that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame.  Sometimes, that fame is a welcome thing.  Don't you want to be famous?  Doesn't everyone?

Sometimes, it is your neighborhood that becomes famous.

Many times, you just as soon wish it had never happened.

That's what I wish, every time I leave my house near Johnson City, New York and walk or travel more than about three or four blocks.

I pass buildings that became vacant 11 months ago today, and are still vacant.  Some don't have interior walls.  Some are still filled with debris.  Some have "For Sale" signs.  Some still have bushes encrusted with flood mud.

There is the former credit union building.  The former day care center.  The former doctor's practice. The former 600,000. square foot factory building that once held 1300 workers.  The former adult day care center.  The sagging houses that will never be occupied again.  One entire street is almost devoid of occupants, with just a handful of hardy souls trying to reclaim their lives.

The out of business and for sale tire store whose mechanics nourished my son's love of car repair especially touches my heart.  The former.....the former.....

Many businesses have reopened.  The Home Depot.  The Ollies.  The window contractor.  The Aldi.  Our local pediatrician. A dentist.  A massage therapist.   My beloved Unicorn Electronics.  Wild Birds Unlimited.

We must look towards the future and I usually do, but today I look back one last time.

This past weekend, I had several cousins visit from the New York City area, Pennsylvania, and (by Skype) Florida, plus the midwest and Texas.  We had a lot of fun, and we talked about many things.  Still, a certain book I had taken out of the library drew a number of fascinated readers.  They paged through the pictures while my young adult son provided the narration.

One of the cousins graduated last year from Binghamton University.  She looked at pictures of places she knew. She had graduated in May of 2011 and the pictures were taken during the period of September 7, 8 and 9, 2011 during the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee,  It was a book about the flood.  If she had still been going to the college, she may well have volunteered at the Events Center, which became one of the evacuation centers.

My neighborhood is on the cover of the flood book.  My house is even visible (no, not telling you which one) in the aerial photo.  (We were one of the lucky houses, being slightly higher in elevation).

Our neighborhood of Westover, along with several other areas (some of which suffered much worse than we did) have become a symbol of the flood.  Let us name them:  Owego. Castle Gardens.  Twin Orchards.  The Southside of Binghamton.  There are others.  I really don't know why our neighborhood was chosen for its 15 minutes of fame, but it was.

When I first found out our neighborhood would be on the cover, it was emotionally very hard.  It was just a couple of months after the flood, and my feelings were still too raw.  But, when I saw the book at the library this past July, I knew it was time.  Time to put the flood where it belonged, in the past.

Time to read the book.  Time to move on.

So we looked at the book, and then went on to much happier things. We had such a good time that my sides ached the next day.

I wish the flood had never happened.  I wish I could have had the power to prevent the storm from doing what it did to our part of upstate NY and parts of several other states.  But wishes have no power.  Only actions.  We have come so far, and we should be proud.

Next month will be the one year anniversary.  I will write about the flood recovery one last time.  And then I hope to move on permanently to other blog topics.

It is time.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Skywatch Friday - Gloom And Storm

This picture was taken in Johnson City, New York, on July 23.

We have escaped the worst of the weather, but upstate New York has had everything - tornadoes, flash floods, strong winds, lightning strikes, and more.  I know someone whose mother had a tree fall on her garage.  The concern about flood increase, as our area experiences flash flooding time and again.

But, on Thursday, the sun started to shine again.  For now.

Want more pictures of the sky? Join other bloggers for #SkywatchFriday.  

Neither rain, nor gloom, keeps us from our appointed photographic rounds.

Day 28 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday Tree Love - The Library Garden

Imagine a public library, with its own garden.  Imagine this garden, with benches, where you can sit and read.  There should even be a raised picnic pavilion.  How about some roses?  Or hydrangeas?

On the edge of downtown Binghamton, New York, in walking distance from where I work, there is such a garden.

Imagine these trees helping to shade you on a warm summer day.
Or these.

Join Parul at Happiness and Food and other bloggers for #ThursdayTreeLove.

Day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Falling Wednesday - Thoughts of Failing A Falling Class

Back in the middle of March, 2015, I called a number published in our county's Senior News.  A woman answered.


"Hi", I responded. " I am calling about the Stepping On Falls Prevention Class."

We chatted a couple of minutes.  She wanted to know where I had heard about the class. She talked briefly about the program - seven weeks, one class a week, a falling assessment on the first and last classes, guest speakers. They would teach exercises to help prevent falls, and would have several guest speakers talking about medication and balance, eyesight issues, and more.  The cost was reasonable - $35 for seven sessions, and I would get a workbook, too.

Then came the question.

"How old are you?"

The class was advertised for seniors 60 and over.

"62", I responded.

There was a pause at the other end - a pause that made me a little uncomfortable.

"Have you fallen yet?", she finally asked.

(For more on my interest in this class, check out this post).

Then, fate intervened.

Just before St. Patrick's Day, 2015, an in law's mother in law fell in the bathtub and hit her head. It was not her first fall.  This 82 year old woman, who was living independently with her husband of many years, was rushed to the ER later that day with symptoms of a head injury.  Things did not go well from there.[Update - she died in December of 2015, after a harrowing last few months of life for her and her family.]

The CDC has some sobering statistics about falling in older adults.  And now, this in law's mother in law is just that - a statistic.

Governments and agencies serving senior populations are recognizing the problem, and trying to take steps.  You don't have to be a senior to care about the issue.  The children and grandchildren of the woman who fell are not seniors.  This has impacted an entire family, a large, close knit family.

So, about the question "have you fallen?"

I told the woman yes, that I have fallen.  I had fallen twice between 2014 and 2015, in addition to a fall while exercising on the Vestal Rail Trail (this one due to a trick ankle from an old injury) and another walk with a fall in 2011.  The trick ankle didn't cause the home fall, though.  It was a balance problem.  I fell due to a throw rug that slid when I stepped on it.  And still another time, a shoe gripped the floor in the wrong way and I started to fall, but managed to recover.

I have problems with my balance. My spouse took me to work several times this winter because it was icy and I was frightened of falling. If I wear ice treads that are sold to slip onto boots, I feel like I'm totally unbalanced. I don't know if my near falls were caused by medication (I am on several) but I have to do something now.  I don't want to wait until I'm 82 and it's too late.

What I am concerned about the most, though, is that I am going to show up, and be in a class of 80 year olds.  Then, everyone will look at me and think "why is she here?"  Dare I call this reverse ageism, that I am not old enough to have any of the problems of a senior citizen?

In other words, is it possible in our elder society to be too young?

The first class came, and then I knew how wrong I was.  More of what I learned in future posts.

Have you taken any of these fall prevention classes?  Am I right or wrong to feel self conscious about my attendance?

Day 26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Raindrops Keep Falling on Our Heads

These daylily pictures were taken Sunday, before our onslaught of rain.

Dark pink and yellow
Purple (doesn't look as purple "in person")

Don't quite know what to call these but I like them.

Yellow (these are my largest flower).

And, from yesterday, orange from between storms when the sun came out.

It has been raining on and off and parts of the Northeast United States, where I live, have flooded.  When the rain gets heavy, I still become anxious, even six years since our major flood.  Perhaps this anxiety will never leave me, although it has gotten better over the years.

Day 25 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Tomorrow - a Falling Wednesday post.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Music Moves Me - Numb

So many times in the past several years of Monday music blogging, I've had to do a tribute post.

This time, it was Chester Bennington, the 41 year old frontman of a group called Linkin Park.  Many music fans are numb.

Bennington had a hard life.  He was sexually abused when he was only seven years old, an abuse that went on for years.  As a teenager, he was bullied, and went deep into the drug scene, . He quit that, but for a while, abused alcohol.  He suffered from severe digestive issues, and from more recent physical injuries.

The cause of death was suicide, and it took place on what would have been Chris Cornell's 53rd birthday.  When Chris went down this same road in May, I blogged about that and middle aged suicide.   Now, another tormented, talented man has taken that final road.

"Numb" is a song about parents with too high expectations that spoke to many of us (over 576 million views on You Tube).

"I'm tired of being what you want me to be......don't know what you are expecting of me...every step that I take is another mistake to you...I've become so numb..."
I love the words, the melody - just everything about it. But...

Why do we do this to the ones we love?

Come join this blog hop every Monday - here are the people responsible for it:
X mas Dolly is the Conductor of this trip, and the other Conductors are her fellow bloggers Callie of JAmerican Spice, ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  and Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.  Today is a "free" day - but I would have blogged about this regardless.

Today is also day 24 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Make Entertainment Great Again?

A short post today for a busy summer Sunday.

Last Tuesday, on a summer TV series called America's Got Talent, I saw this performance by a Presidential impersonator who promised to make the show Great Again.

I don't get into politics in this blog, but I wonder if this singer (who made it into the next round) might enable us to have a little fun.  I assure you, it is not mean spirited or political.  The audience loved it.  I think you may, too.

He certainly connected with the audience, and with a guest judge who said "This is a thing I didn't realize I needed in my life until now."

We really need a good laugh.  Will The Singing Trump provide it?

I don't watch muchTV, but America's Got Talent (a show I've never watched much of) has hooked me this summer.

Day 23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Local Saturday - Go Back Jack and Blue It Again

Reporting on blueberry season has become a tradition on my blog.

Every year, my spouse and I try to go blueberry picking at least once each season, here in upstate New York. We have several U-Pick farms, and one gives us a 5% discount for our loyalty.  That is where we go.
This is what it looked like yesterday.

Blueberry and clouds.

Blueberry closeup.  Yes, we went back and blue'd it again.

And speaking of "blueing it again", here are some past blueberry posts for your entertainment.

Like Blueberry muffins? Here's a recipe for you. 

Angry Blueberry Birds.

Blueing It Again

But you know what?  Other than a good blueberry pie, my favorite way to eat blueberries is raw.  No sugar.  No cream.  Just blueberries. (If I had a bush and could eat off of it, that would be even better).

Do you like blueberries? Do you have a favorite way to prepare?

Day 22 for the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Friday, July 21, 2017

Skywatch Friday - Post Storm Sunset

It's been on and off rain here in upstate New York.   In connection with the storms, we've had some beautiful sunsets from time to time.

Consider these after-sunset pictures, after a torrential downpour on Monday.
I took these pictures from several slightly different vantage points.

Framed by trees.
What a beautiful pink.

Want to see more pictures like these?  Visit #SkywatchFriday, where bloggers from all over the world gather every Friday to share pictures of the sky.

Day 21 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday Tree Love - Sassafras

Trees are important in our lives for so many reasons.  Not just for shade, not just for their beauty, or the wood they provide for our houses and fuel, or the fruit that grows on them.

Have you ever heard of the sassafras?

Here's one in Binghamton, New York.

The sassafras is a small tree or large shrub - use whichever term you prefer.  We had several on the property in Arkansas we lived on many years ago.  You can tell the tree by its distinctive leaves, some of which look like mittens and some have three "fingers"- and, if you dig up a root, it smells just like root beer (which, at least most times, is a non alcoholic drink with a distinctive taste).

That isn't by accident.  At one time, root beer came from an extract of sassafras, but one of the chemicals in the root, safrole, is known to be a carcinogen in animals.  In days past, many used to drink a spring tonic type tea made from the roots or bark.  

I love root beer.

Medicinal uses.  The flavoring (at one time) of root beer.  What is there not to like?

Join Parul of Happiness and Food and other bloggers from all over the world at #ThursdayTreeLove - simply post a picture of a tree and visit the other bloggers participating.

Day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Falling Wednesday - Preserving Your Vision

Next to dementia and cancer, I sometimes think falling is the greatest health challenge we face.

Last week, the mother in law of someone I know fell twice.  The first time, just bruised.  The second time, a broken pelvis.  She is in her 90's.  Her future is uncertain.

Every one of us knows one or more persons whose lives changed forever due to falls.

For the next few Wednesdays, I will be republishing posts written in 2015 and 2016 on the topic of falling.  I hope you will find some value in them.

Please, if you haven't yet had a falling episode, read these posts anyway.  Someone you know may need this information.  Additionally, please feel free to share these posts on social media, if you find them helpful.

Much of this information comes from information I learned in a falls prevention class.  As my regular readers know, I have fallen several times in the past few years.  And I'm only in my 60's.

I am extremely nearsided, and I learned about the importance of vision at an early age. I've been wearing glasses since I was four.  Since the age of around eight, my non corrected vision has been in the realm of what the State of New York considers (if uncorrectable) legal blindness.  Fortunately (at least up to now), it has been correctable with glasses.

During one of the falls prevention classes, we were treated to a talk by Diane McMillan of AVRE in Binghamton, New York.  Diane is dual-certified as a low vision therapist and a vision rehab therapist, and personally suffers from a couple of disabling eye diseases.  So, not only can she talk the talk, she also knows, from personal experience, what "it is like". So:

What is AVRE?
"AVRE is a private, non-profit organization that serves people with sustained and severe vision loss. People of all ages, from infants to seniors, can and do benefit from our services. We offer a range of learning. living, and working options for people with sustained and severe vision loss."

There are many eye diseases that can affect vision. Anyone suffering from these conditions becomes more prone to falling.  In fact, a blogger I enjoy, Amy Bovaird , has blogged at length about her life with a vision disability, her adventures (if I can call them that) in falling and how her life has strengthened her faith.  Amy's blog is Christian faith-centered but there are other bloggers with vision impairments who blog from a more secular viewpoint.

It turns out that a couple of people in my class suffer from macular degeneration.  Diane explained it so well, complete with pictures taken that show the way people with macular degeneration will see a particular picture vs. people with healthy eyes, that I understand it better now.  Amy Bovaird's blog has a lot of information about macular degeneration.

We also learned about glaucoma.

Diane's message was a message of hope.  She taught us (noting I am not a medical professional, or vision professional, and you should have annual eye exams, always):

1.  Be self aware.  Test yourself monthly (it only takes a couple of minutes) with something called an Amsler Grid.  Diane told us that you have any problems (the website describes what you are looking for when you use the grid) consider this an emergency and contact an eye care professional immediately.  In general, if anything is amiss, err on the side of caution and report it to your eye care professional immediately.  Sometimes, a timely exam can be the difference between a good outcome, and the opposite.

2.  Have that annual eye exam!  I know an eye cancer survivor - it was detected by an annual eye exam.

3.  If you are diagnosed with an eye disease, all is not lost.  Some conditions can be treated.  Other conditions may not respond to treatment, but with proper training, and assistance, you can still lead a worthwhile life.  The two women in my class with macular degeneration were proof of that.

#3, especially, resonated with me, because I have always dreaded the day the eye doctor will say "we no longer have a prescription for you."  I can hope that day never comes.

But if it does come, I hope I will understand it is not the end, but rather, a new beginning.

Next week - how my falls prevention class journey began.

Day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What's in a Name?

 How do they name flowers?

My spouse and I were out Saturday admiring the day lilies in Cutler Botanic Gardens in Binghamton, New York.  They are just a few steps away from the Regional Farmers Market and were at peak.

For years, the lilies have only had numbers on the identifying stakes, with no handy list.   This year, there's a list, and I finally know the names of some of these varieties.

I would love to know how these names are chosen.

What makes this a Tennessee Rose?

Or a Some Sweet Day (I have to get this one- stunning!)
Beasley.  I see this may actually be "Bubba Beasley" but "Beasley" is what the list said.

Mardi Gras Parade
Crazy Pierre (I wondered how long ago they came up with this name - turns out 1990 is the year of introduction). 

Peekaboo (yes, I see you!) which somehow got on its side.

The Band Played On
Rhythm and Blues.

Hybridizing day lilies is a hobby for some.  I don't know if I would have the patience.  I certainly don't have the room.

But if I created a new day lily, wouldn't it be fun to choose the name?

Day 18 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Monday, July 17, 2017

Music Moves Me - European Favorites

It's Monday, meaning welcome to Music Moves Me, a weekly blog hop.

Today's theme:  European Favorites.

I pondered this theme for a while.  Should I include or exclude musicians from Great Britain? Should I only include songs sung in the singers' native language?

I decided to feature only singers from Mainland Europe, and a mix of songs sung in English and songs sung in other languages that became hits in the United States.

Scorpions are a German rock band first formed in 1965 - over 50 years ago.  They have had a number of hits in the United States, including The Zoo and Rock You Like a Hurricane.  I decided, instead, to feature a song written in 1990 and released in 1991 about the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall - Winds of Change.  This song is the all time best selling song in Germany.

You would never believe this next song was anything but an all-American song.

But Rednex, here singing "Cotton-Eyed Joe", is a Swedish music group.  This cover of an American folk song dating from before the Civil War used to be played at all of the ball games of Binghamton's minor league baseball team.  OK, maybe I am stretching "European Favorite" slightly, but now, let's dance!

Volbeat is a Danish rock band.  The song I've selected is Lola Montez, the stage name of an Irish "dancer" (actually, a courtesan) of the 19th century.

Now, I turn to some songs sung in native European languages.

Nena, a (then) West German band fronted by a singer of the same name, sings a song called (in German) 99 Luftballoons.  The year after its 1983 release, Nena rerecorded the song in English.

Next, is a German electronic group called Kraftwerk. Autobahn (the original, single version) from 1974, was an instant personal favorite.  True, there isn't much singing in this song, but it is in German.

Last, but certainly not least.  Austrian singer Johann Hölzel, better known as Falco, recorded a song in German about Mozart  called "Rock me Amadeus", which became a big hit in our country in 1986.  Tragically, Falco died in a car crash in 1998, at the age of 40.

So, what are some of your European favorites?

Come join this blog hop every Monday - here are the people responsible for it:
X mas Dolly is the Conductor of this trip, and the other Conductors are her fellow bloggers Callie of JAmerican Spice, ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  and Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.

Also, it is day 17 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Get aboard the train and LET'S ROCK!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Raspberry Stress Relief?

I wanted to have some peace.  Today, I needed it.  At the end of the post, I am going to ask for your help.

So we went raspberry picking.  To me, picking fruit is relaxing - I get into a state of - I don't know what to call it (I do not meditate, but perhaps it is something similar.    The birds singing and the people speaking around me (especially if they are not speaking English, because then I don't get distracted by their conversations as much) usually soothe me.  And I don't even mind the thorns on the raspberry canes all that much when I am in that state.

We did not have a good crop in upstate New York this year, and it took us a while to pick.  This was one of the best bushes.
It was sunny, something rare.

I reread my raspberry picking post from last year (including links to some recipes) trying to feel grateful.  But today I need some help.

I need some stress relief right now.  I tried to put together a small family reunion for a couple of weeks from now (I haven't seen some of these cousins in five years), and I am beginning to feel it was a mistake.  I don't want to say anything more, as you don't need my stress.    But I don't want to call it off, either, this soon, although my IBS has been making me miserable (for other reasons, mainly) for almost three weeks.

I'd love you to share some of your stress relief techniques - there has to be a way around what I am experiencing.

Day 16 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day July 2017 - Lily Heaven

It's the 15th of the month and time for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, where bloggers from all over the world gather to show what is blooming in their gardens and/or living spaces.

And what a bloom day it is.

In February, I will reread this in my zone 5b upstate New York home and say (while looking out at a blanket of snow and hearing the howling winds), "will it ever be July again?"

I created this collage because I have so many flowers in July.  Let me rejoice in this moment.   I grew up in a housing project in New York City, and being able to flower garden is a dream come true.

For my future January self, here are some of the many daylilies in my garden.  Many I get as "mysteries" for greatly reduced prices, and that's fine, because I always lose the tags.

I love flowers after a soaking rain.
Where do I even start?
I call this one my "triangle flower".
I love the melon color.
This is just about my largest day lily.
A day lily opening up.
It isn't just day lilies.  How about hostas?
Back to lilies, the Easter lily my mother in law gave to us about three years ago put out one flower stalk this year.
Last but definitely not least, this is growing in my part shade to shade back yard, near a turtlehead.  Does anyone know what this is?

So many flowers, so little time.  So why not, I'll sneak in one more day lily.

Thank you for visiting my blog for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, a 15th of each month meme started and maintained by Carol, an Indiana gardener who blogs at May Dream Gardens.  Come give her garden a look, and then visit garden bloggers from all over the world.  We all need beauty in our lives, especially in these times.

Day 15 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Friday, July 14, 2017

Skywatch Friday - July Sunset

This is a sunset from earlier this week.

We have had changeable weather where I live in upstate New York.  We've also had a couple of lovely sunsets.  It's that time of year.

The sky colors through the trees.

The sky starts to glow.
And a final shot.

Join other bloggers watching the sky at #Skywatch Friday.

Day 14 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pseudo Pseudo Pseudo Camilla - Thursday Tree Love

For today's #ThursdayTreeLove and Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost, may I present to you the Stewartia pesudocamellia, or Stewartia.  It is a relative of the camillia that I love so much, but won't grow in my upstate New York area (except there is a young camillia growing in my Binghamton area yard- a story for another day.)

This is not a common tree  here.  It's a slow grower, and loves moisture.  And, the flowers don't last long.

Cutler Botanic Gardens in Binghamton, New York has the above specimen.

So, what are the lessons of the Stewartia? 

According to Monvovia Nursery:

This unique genus of shrubs is classified into the tea family, Theaceae, which shows they are linked to the camellia, also evidenced by the species name. Linnaeus named the genus after John Sturat, the Earl of Buete and patron of the botanical sciences. Stewartia contains six species of shrubs and small trees all native to Asia and North America.. It is native to Japan.
The lesson that the Stewartia has taught me?  All trees are special, and if you don't look up, you don't know what you might be missing.

Now, I invite you to join Parul and other bloggers for #ThursdayTreeLove.  Simply post a picture of a tree, and link back to Parul's blog, and visit the other blogs participating. 

While you are at it, also check out the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Day 13 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Falling Wednesday - Aging Isn't a Place for Sissies

For a number of Fridays back in 2015, I featured a Falling Friday series, featuring what I had learned in a falls prevention course I took in the summer of 2015.
This past Friday, I was able to talk briefly with a former neighbor whose father was our neighbor for over 25 years.   Remembering a man who was so generous, so giving, and so kind to my son, I wanted to repeat this blog about his late wife, who also suffered from dementia, and who was as good a person as they come.  Her death was fall related.  July 4 of this year was the sixth anniversary of her death.
Most of the following post was written in July of 2011, after the wife of my next door neighbor of many years passed away.

I dusted off the post in June of 2016, right after her husband turned 91. I only hope he knew it.


Because the last time I talked to my neighbor, he had no idea how old he was.  He has followed his late wife down the road of dementia.  Dementia took someone who was once a wonderful person and neighbor with it.  He still has some lucid days, but is under 24 hour care at home. He was put in a nursing home several months ago, because his caregivers could no longer give him the care he needed.

Fortunately, he has a large, loving family.

He's 92 now, and still with us.

Here is that post from July, 2011 updated in 2017:

Today at work, I heard that the mother of a co-worker had passed away.  When I went to the local online obituary, I saw a name I knew well.  Not the co-worker's mother, but a different woman.
It was my next door neighbor of over 20 years.

She had passed away yesterday, unbeknownst to me.  Her death was fall related.

I immediately called my spouse.  He already knew, and, in fact, had just come from the neighbor's house, where he visited with family for 40 minutes.  (I visited tonight, as out of town family started to arrive.)

Her husband....her widower....seemed to be taking it well.   He said to my husband "She died on the 4th of July.  She went out with a bang."

They had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary less than a week ago.  In the last stages of dementia, she never knew it.

 I don't care what they say about old age.  It stinks.  It robs us of the essence of what we are.  Don't talk to me about the "golden years".  There is nothing golden about those years.  Those years took the mind and then the life of a wonderful woman, who was loved by everyone who knew her.  My neighbor was a deacon of her church.  She was a retired elementary school librarian.   She did a lot of charity work.  She raised six children and at least, tonight, her husband is surrounded by their very large family. (Her husband was an only child and wanted a large family very much.  He got it, thanks to her.)

She loved romance novels.  She had hundreds of them, and she kept trying to give some to me.  She was an avid reader. She loved to have her grandchildren over to visit.

She spent so much of the last couple of years of her life a prisoner of her living room chair.  Her husband, once a telephone lineman, aged at her side.  He told me, tonight, that "I am happy".  We talked to their youngest son [the man I blogged about on Saturday], and he talked about her death.  It was a good death.  About two weeks ago, her voice became very slurred. Then she stopped eating. Then she stopped drinking.  She drifted away, asleep almost all of the time.

She died surrounded by the ones she loved, at home.

Her husband has also has a lot of health problems.    I don't want to say it out loud, but I fear for him now.

They were so much younger and full of energy and love of life when I first met them.  So was my mother in law, and my spouse's aunt who is (in 2017) age 105, and my good friend's mother, passed away in 2013 at age 94.

Like all of us, I must come to terms with my aging.   I may be looking at my eventual fate.  And perhaps that is what is affecting me now, as much as the passing of a woman great in her own way.

As Bette Davis once said "Old age is no place for sissies."

I hope you will join me, starting next Wednesday, for Falling Wednesday.

Day 12 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Remembering My Father

On one Memorial Day recently, when a website called allowed people to search for free, I took advantage of it to find out more about my heritage.

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). Last year, a blogger did some research, and it appears this town, and its residents, may have been wiped out by the Nazis during World War II.  At any rate, I can't seem to find it anywhere online.

I wondered why my mother's father had to register for the draft.  He was born in 1878, too old to serve in the U.S. Army in 1942, but I found out there was an event called the Fourth Registration, where all males from ages 45 to 64 were registered.  That's how desperate things were in 1942. 

I then looked up my father's World War Two enlistment record and found what follows.  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?  I did know the answer to that question.  Because he helped to raise his youngest brother after his mother died.  Just as he raised me after his wife, my mother, died when I was 12.

I have so many memories of my father - the walks we took, the movie he took me to the day I graduated Elementary School (West Side Story), and then how life changed for him as he grew older, and ended up in assisted living in Brooklyn.

Right now, of all my aunts and uncles, only one survives - the man who my father helped to raise.  I visited him in 2002, and my uncle told me he owed a great debt to my father, who had sacrificed so much for him.  It was a debt he felt he could never repay.

And, as for me, I didn't know how much I owed to my father when I was a teen fighting to breakaway from him.  But I do know now.

He would have been 103 later this month.  Happy birthday in heaven, Dad.

Day 11 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Music Moves Me - Questions of Balance

Today, for Music Moves Me, I celebrate balance, as in the ability not to fall.

In honor of my starting up my series on falls prevention, and because Music Moves Me is allowing us a "freebie" week where we can blog about any type of music, I decided to think about songs that mention balance, or have the word "balance" in their title.

This first song came immediately to mind.
Tightrope, as sung by Leon Russell.  Besides tightrope walking being used to entertain people, it's an awesome balance exercise.  In my falls prevention exercises, one of the exercises is walking an imaginary tightrope.

A little heavy metal is next.  My son introduced me, years ago,  to a group called Killswitch Engage.  He went to one of their concerts here in Johnson City, New York before they hit the big time.  This definitely won't be a favorite of many of my readers (or me, to be truthful) but the title "When the Balance is Broken" fits the balance theme.

John Kay and Steppenwolf (my spouse is a big Steppenwolf fan) in a song called The Balance.

And finally, two song by one of my favorite groups, the Moody Blues.

In August of 1970, the Moody Blues released an album called "A Question of Balance".  What follows is two songs from the album. The first, Question, was written by Justin Hayward.

Question doesn't have balance in the lyrics, but, hey, this is a Freebie week.

The Balance, written by Mike Pinder, does fit the theme.  Is it strange that so many songs about balance talk about mental balance, or even the futility of war? I didn't mean it that way - it just happened.

Finally, a song that is plainly about about war - Lives in the Balance - Jackson Browne. 

Join this blog hop every Monday - here are the people responsible for it:
X mas Dolly is the Conductor of this trip, and the other Conductors are her fellow bloggers Callie of JAmerican Spice, ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  and Cathy from Curious as a Cathy !

Also, it is day 10 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Will you climb aboard the music train today?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Power of Daylilies

Today, I visited Cutler Botanic Gardens in Binghamton, New York to enjoy their day lily collection.  It was a beautiful summer day in upstate New York, and this garden called to me. 

Enjoy the flowers first, and then I have a story to tell you.
We crossed the bridge to see what is blooming.
In the day lily area, a sign greets you.

Does this remind you of a harvest sky? That is this lily's name.
How about "Madly Red"?
Golden Tentacles.
And now, I have a story to tell you about the power of flowers.

This morning, when I clicked on Facebook, I was faced with a video Facebook made for me.  It was to celebrate a Facebook friendship anniversary - eight years.  There was only one problem.  The friend has since crossed the bridge to - what, we won't know until we cross that bridge ourselves.

Then, Facebook told me it was the birthday of three of my friends.  One of them - yes, you guessed it.  She died suddenly, last year.

As it happens, lilies are symbolic of funerals.  They symbolize innocence restored to the soul of the deceased.

I don't quite know what to make of this. Hopefully, what it has done is made me think about my two late friends, and the meanings they gave to my life.  Daylilies, each flower of which blooms only for a single day, teach us that life is fleeting, and is made to be enjoyed.  And, it is about time I thanked all the volunteers who bring the rest of us the beauty of the Cutler Botanic Gardens.

Thank you, volunteers.  Thank you for the beauty you bring us.

And, for life, thank you for this day, and for the technology that permits me to share this beauty with you, my readers.

Day 9 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.