Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Halloween Mystery

Halloween - so many memories.  Dressing up in costumes as a child.  Dressing my then young son in costumes.  The Halloween he trick or treated in a foot of heavy snow.

Some things don't change.  Some things do.
Frog Pond, Bainsbridge, New York
When I was growing up in the late 50's and early 60's, it was enough to carve two eyes, a nose and a mouth out of a pumpkin, and perhaps put a candle in it.  Now, pumpkin painting and decorating is a lot more sophisticated.

Blow up Halloween decorations are everywhere now.

In downtown Bainbridge, New York, the merchants have decorated with pumpkins and scarecrows.

She looks a bit grim, doesn't she?

Speaking of grim, while exercise walking near a small local park, I ran across this.  The park itself is small - there was a house there at one time.  On May 3, 2006, there was a tragic fire that killed a mother and three of her children.  The father and another child escaped.  The cause of the fire, as far as I know, has never been determined.  The fire destroyed the house, and damaged several surrounding houses and a church. 

Now, 11 years later, you would never know.

The park itself is small - just a couple of benches and the small monument to what happened one terrible May night in Binghamton, New York.

I wonder who lay the bouquet of orange wrapped flowers (Halloween flowers) by the monument, in tribute of this tragedy?  That is the mystery I leave for you today.

Tonight, trick or treaters will walk past the park.  They will pass fake scary lawn decorations, but also a reminder that horror does exist in even the quietest of neighborhoods.

Happy Halloween, but also a reminder that life's scares and grit are sometimes real.

Day 31 (the final day!) of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Monday, October 30, 2017

Music Moves Me - Creepy and Spooky Alltogether Halloween

Today's theme, on the day before Halloween, was a tough one for me!

When we talk about Halloween, exactly what are we talking about.  Trick or treating?  Ghosts?  Monsters? Devils?  Candy?  I decided to go with my own interpretations, trying to avoid what may be the most obvious Halloween song, Boris Pickett's Monster Mash.  Nothing against that song; I just think I've heard it too many times.

Anything can be Halloween oriented, if you do it just right, like this scarecrow of Cher erected for a scarecrow contest in a local park earlier in October. (For the record, I adore Cher.)

But, returning to creepy....

During the 1960's, TV show about "creepy" monster like families became popular.  The two top shows, I think, were The Addams Family and the Munsters.  Here's more on the "monster craze".
The Addams family actually has had a distinguished history, dating back to their first appearance in the New Yorker magazine in 1938.  Drawn by cartoonist Charles Addams, they have greatly influenced American culture.  An album of music from the TV show was even released.

Hence, my first selection is the theme from The Addams Family TV show.

Here are the others.  First, Ray Parker, Jr. - Ghostbusters.  I ain't afraid of no ghosts!

Boris the Spider - The Who. How many of us are afraid of spiders?

And finally - it's long, but I believe it's a masterpiece - the full music video of Thriller by Michael Jackson. (If you are more interested in the song than in the pseudo-horror movie this official video is, there are shorter versions available on You Tube.).  This has everything: singing, dancing, and even Vincent Price!

Music Moves Me is a weekly blog hop!
Marie Moody at X-Mas Dolly is the Conductor of this Musical trip & her other Conductors are  Callie of JAmerican Spice, and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  & Rockin’ conductor Cathy from Curious as a Cathy !

And Happy Halloween tomorrow to you, if you participate.

Day 30 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Case of Mistaken Vanessa

Red Admiral? Or painted lady?

It's a long and winding road, this beginning journey of trying to learn the various butterflies of my area of upstate New York.
My Vanessa
By a vote of two to one (my guest photographer chimed in, as did her sister and, Dorothy,  a knowledgeable  blogger in Texas), I am changing the identification of this butterfly I blogged about recently from "Red Admiral" to "Painted Lady".  Thank you, all who helped me.
My guest photographer captured this Painted Lady on a zinnia earlier in the fall
Turns out both Red Admirals and Painted Ladies are part of a genus of some 22 butterflies called Vanessa, distributed widely all over our world.  The Red Admiral is Vanessa atalanta (named such in 1758) and the Painted Lady is Vanessa cardui - also named by Linnaeus in 1758.

So, what now?

How about a show of the marigolds without the butterfly?  As it happens, marigolds are the very first flower I ever tried to grow - when I was around eight, in my apartment in the Bronx.  Perhaps, one day, I should blog about that attempt. 

I figure, it took me years to be able to identify flowers (and I don't have a strong botanical knowledge of them), so it is going to take a while.  For example, is this butterfly I photographed on a butterfly bush back in August a silver spotted skipper?  Can I pronounce "Epargyreus clarus"?  Oh, Latin.

My head hurts.

And, what is the best way to learn about butterflies, anyway?  Is there a good book, or video, or something on You Tube, that would help a beginner past the "yikes, too much to learn" phase?

Looks like I may have a retirement project, for that day when I finally retire.  All because of a case of mistaken Vanessa.

Day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Local Saturday - A Visit from Vanessa Atalanta

This may not be my best month ever as far as injuring myself, but I am finally having some luck with photographing butterflies.

These pictures were taken yesterday on the West Side of Binghamton, New York, which hasn't been hit by frost yet.

I thought, "what lovely marigolds", and then suddenly, a little visitor arrived.

I couldn't believe it.  Butterflies have a special radar, when it comes to me.  If I try to take their picture, they flee.

Not this time.  Patiently, the butterfly waited me to snap its picture.  Again, and again it waited, seemingly sensing that my back was still making me move a little slowly.  It even flew to another flower and waited for me.

My guest photographer's sister identified the butterfly for me - Vanessa Atalanta - the Red Admiral butterfly.  I so love that Latin name.  So, I had to read up on my friendly companion.

Its host flower is stinging nettle, but they obviously will feed on French marigolds, too.  One website described it as "docile"and "friendly".

I wonder if this one was migrating, because if he (or she) sticks around, he or she is going to have a nasty surprise on Wednesday morning, which looks like we will finally get our first frost.  My suggestion, if you are still there Vanessa - fly away quickly.

But first, thank you for making my Friday a joy.

An October without frost.  That is a first for the over thirty years I've lived in the Binghamton, New York area.

This winter, maybe I should take up the study of butterflies.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Skywatch Friday - October Variety Pack

Looking at the sky this week.

Sunrise this Monday
Midday Tuesday, with a hill full of fall foliage in the background.
Wednesday, right around sunrise.  Loved that cloud bank.

And yesterday around sunrise, some interesting streaks in the upstate New York sky.

I love October skies.

Join Yogi and other bloggers who watch the sky at #SkywatchFriday

Day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Trees Speak - Thursday Tree Love

If only the trees of upstate New York could speak, what could they tell us?
All pictures taken October 25 in the Binghamton, New York area
They might tell us that the leaf colors you see here are the true colors of the leaves.  Since the leaves sprouted in May, their true colors have been disguised by the green chlorophyll the leaves need to generate food from sunlight.

So don't always believe what you see.

But, as winter approaches, the tree prepares to go into hibernation.  It withdraws nourishment from its leaves and the true color appears.  Eventually, the leaves fall.

If we saw those colors from May to Octoer, we would take them for granted.

But, when we see them for just a few short days, we gasp in wonder.  So another lesson from our friends, the trees "don't take anything in life for granted".

They would give us one final lesson:  Everything, in its season.

Join Parul and other bloggers for #ThursdayTreeLove on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month.

Day 26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fall Fancies - Fall at Last

The trees aren't waiting any longer in upstate New York.

Let the weather stay summerlike.  They need to go into hibernation.

In the past couple of days, fall color has finally arrived.

The days continue to shorten.  In a few days, the leaves will be gone, but for now, we walk in a wonderland of red and yellow.

Enjoy it while you can, Nature says.  And I intend to.

Day 25 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

This Was the Place

In October of 2011, over a month after a historic flood hit much of the part of New York State where I live, I wrote this email to a friend.

As my regular readers know, my neighborhood  near Johnson City, New York, was one of many neighborhoods impacted by a massive flood caused by a record year of rain, capped by two tropical storms in a couple of weeks time - Irene, and then Lee. 

So many people this year have been impacted by three hurricanes in our country (and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, whose residents are our citizens).  They have a hard road ahead.

This email is intensely personal to me, but I shared it once, during the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in 2016, and I would like to share it again.

The "BAE" in this email was a defense contractor plant, housed in what was once the largest wood framed structure in the United States, now torn down and replaced by vacant land beloved by grazing Canada geese.  At the time of this email, contractors were (unsuccessfully) trying to rescue the building from the flood damage.
Burning bush in front of former BAE structure, fall of 2013
"There was a thick fog this morning, and I took a walk through some of my Westover neighborhood.  The lights of the BAE restoration diffused into the fog and dimly lit our neighborhood. For the first 2 1/2 blocks, everything was normal.  These houses have electricity.  Halloween decorations glowed in the dark, orange and green.  And then I hit The Other Side.  Turning onto Main Street, I peered down the streets of the other half of my neighborhood.  Dark, with few cars parked on the streets, no decorations glowed there.  No one was home.  No one has been home since September 8, 2011.  Only the thick fog keeps me company.

I didn't look to my left, towards the Johnson City Y.  It is still closed.  It was flooded, and reopened, but then, last Saturday, a fire hit.  Right now the estimated reopening date is November 4.

On the BAE side of Main Street, restoration employees arrive to begin their daily shift.  The crowds of day workers who did the initial muck-out and waited in lines on Main Street to check in at a tent are gone, and the relative silence is eerie.  There is still a lot of equipment there, tents, and people smoking cigarettes before their shift begins.  Here, the lights glow almost like day through the fog.

The future itself of BAE is in doubt, but they continue to clean up the property in the meantime.  

I walked on Main Street along the BAE property.  On the other side of Main Street, the flooded side, Westover Plaza, stands empty.  Lights glow in only one store, an Aldi, which has been totally remodeled.  They are moving groceries into the building and I expect their reopening will be announced soon.

I stood at the fence in front of the front entrance of BAE, and a song from the 80's popped into my head.  I don't know why, because this is not how I usually behave, but I suddenly sang out the song in my mind.  It was a  Simple Minds song called "All The Things She Said":
(I probably shouldn't be quoting this without permission but, in the Year of the Flood, I take this liberty)  These may not be the exact words but this is what I sang in the fog:
"She said, this is the time
She said, this is the place
She said, this is the place* my heart wants to be"

And then I started my day."

*the actual lyrics say "space", but that morning, "place" seemed so right.

 The song. 

Day 24 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Monday, October 23, 2017

Music Moves Me - Mondegreens

Have you been guilty of mishearing song lyrics? I suspect that all of us have.  I've even blogged about it a couple of times in the past, but this one will be a little different.

Last week, on Music Moves Me, I erred and blogged on the wrong theme.  This week's theme is music about vehicles such as cars, trucks, and (OK, I made this one up) motorcycles.  I blogged about them last week, so I was told it was OK to blog about anything I wanted.   So, how about mondegreens (with a song or two about cars and motorcycles thrown in?)

Did you know that misheard lyrics have an interesting name.   Mondegreens:  "a misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase resulting from a mishearing of the lyrics of a song."  The origin of this expression apparently was coined by a woman, Sylvia Wright , who misheard a lyric of an old (possibly 17th century) Scottish ballard as a child: "The Bonnie Earl of Moray".  (I've seen it spelled various ways online, by the way).

Here are some of the lyrics (and if this history of the term does not interest you, feel free to skip down to the rock songs):

Ye Hielan's an' ye Lowlan's
O, where have ye been?
They hae slain the Earl of Moray
And lain him on the green...
(the full lyrics can be found here).

The poor bonnie Earl o' Moray, laid on the green, somehow had morphed into Lady Mondegreen.

A number of websites exist for the purpose of discussing song lyrics and allowing people to discuss lyrics that other people have misheard.  

Just the other day, I was listening to a radio DJ explain that one of her listeners misheard the Go-Go's lyrics "Our Lips are Sealed" as "Alice the Seal". 

The king of mondegreen songs may be "Blinded by the Light", written by Bruce Springsteen.  How I love the cover done by Manfred Mann's Dirt Band, but I can barely understand any of its lyrics. This video includes the lyrics.

One of the lines, in particular, gives many people problems:  "Revved up like a deuce/another runner in the night".(I won't entertain you with what people think they are hearing - use your imagination.)  This interview explains more of the lyrics.

So there, a car song.  A "deuce", I have read, refers to a 1932 Ford Coupe, a car that was a favorite of hot rodders.  The "deuce" is the two in the year of manufacture.

Speaking of Bruce Springsteen, how about Born to Run, and its several mentions of motorcycles and cars? 

Here are some other songs containing mondegreens.
Is Elton John really singing "Hold me Closer, Tony Danza"?

Queen isn't singing "Kicking your cat all over the place" in We Will Rock You, but, for years, I thought they were.
No, there's no bathroom on the right in Bad Moon Rising, by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

I end today with one of the most hilarious sendups of songs that can't be understood (sorry, Nirvana fans) in history:  Weird Al's Smells Like Nirvana.

Do you have any favorite mondegreens?

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.

Day 23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Post Number 2900 And Six Things I've Learned Along the Way

This my 2900th blog post.
Me, my shadow, and some gourds, October 2017
How did I do it?

I started my blogging journey in April of 2009 and have been blogging daily since late April of 2011.  It's been quite a journey.

I hope I have become a better writer, and a better photographer in those seven plus years.

But I would never have been able to do it without you, my readers, or the leaders of various blogging challenges I have participated in for many years.  Those challenges taught me discipline.

I enjoy spending part of the day visiting other bloggers from all over the world - my native United States, Canada, India, Australia, South Africa, and other countries.  I have learned so much from you.

So, instead of celebrating me...I celebrate you.

Here are some of the things I've learned along the way.
1.  Have a plan for what you want to accomplish with your blog.  I didn't.  I had to pick it up along the way.

2.  Be true to yourself.  Blog about what you have a passion for.  Your readers will pick up lack of passion in a hurry.

3.  Cultivate your readers.  Respond to comments (one of my weaknesses, and a habit that's fallen along the wayside, especially this month when both my spouse and I were dealing with physical issues).  People want to know they are valued.

4.  Pictures and videos both enrich a blog.  But if you use pictures, and they aren't yours, make sure it is legal to use those pictures!

5.  Use a blogging platform that is user friendly, at least, until and if you outgrow it.  I had a cousin's husband who was given one as a gift, and it was so frustrating, he never really used the gift he was given.

And finally:
6. Don't obsessively check your stats.  For what I am trying to accomplish, I would rather have a few, loyal readers, and that is what I have.  Do what works for you, but also, please, have fun along the way.
Yes, have fun along the way!

So thank you, my readers, for sticking with me during this journey.  I appreciate everyone of you who visits my blog.

Thank you for enabling me to get to my 2900th post!

Day 22 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Local Saturday - Meet the Cows

These pictures were taken two Saturdays ago at a Tioga Farm/Art Trail open house at Engelbert Farms near Nichols, New York.

As far as they know, this farm is the oldest organic certified dairy in the United States.The land has been in possession of this family for well over 100 years.
Here are some of their "girls". The barn they are in, by the way, is a shelter.  The cows have free access to the outdoors. 
A farmer feeds a cow.

The milking parlor, which is antiquated, but fulfills the needs of the farm.

As I spoke with one of the family, and met some more family members, it became obvious just how hard these farmers work. Dairy farming is quite labor intensive, apart from the fact that cows must be milked twice a day, each and every day.  

Engelbert makes, among other products, various delicious organic cheese products.  They are a bit expensive, but we also buy their cheese from time to time.  If you ever wonder why these products are expensive, you should meet, and talk with, a small farmer.

As we left, the family member giving us the tour said "Feel free to ask questions anytime!"

It is a wonderful thing to meet and talk to a food producer, to see where your food really comes from, and how hard these farmers work to put food on your table.  And if Dutch Hills Creamery (whom I blogged about last Saturday) can not get back into operation after a disastrous fire (I've been told informally they will not try to make a comeback), our community will be poorer for that.

Support a local farmer today!

Day 21 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Friday, October 20, 2017

Not Unlucky - Skywatch Friday

A Friday the 13th (last Friday, to be exact) sunrise as seen from NY17 near Binghamton, New York. 
I was a passenger so I was able to enjoy it at my leasure.

And this is what was waiting for me when I got to Binghamton, taken from a second story. 

Friday the 13th was far from unlucky as far as the sunrise.

Do you watch the sky? Join Yogi and other bloggers at #SkywatchFriday

Day 20 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The First Ice and the Last Flowers

I hope the blog post title didn't scare you.

No, I'm not trying to take a breather from the Ultimate Blog Challenge, although I had to drop out of another October challenge I was participating in, because "life happened".

Sadly, "life happened" to way too many people, including the daughter of someone I work with. The daughter lives in Santa Rosa.  Her house was spared but conditions are so terrible it is almost unbelievable.

There are millions of other people who could say the same thing.

I try to keep my blog an oasis to refresh oneself in.

But I decided to republish part of a blog post of October 12, 2012 today because that winter - which turned out to be quite harsh - is so unlike this fall, with its plethora of temperatures in the 60's and 70's.  Although much of this area had its first frost on Monday, our house escaped, as did where I work in downtown Binghamton, New York.

So, first, some pictures of the last couple of days.  And then, let's go back to October 12, 2012.

Is the weather telling us we will have a mild winter? Or are we in for something terrible?

Beautiful but, hey, this was taken on October 17.  Not that I'm complaining.  The tree to the left is a magnolia hardy in this area.  Hardly a sign of turning.

Not much fall here in downtown Binghamton, New York.  Trees are losing leaves without much color. Here, again on October 17, a tree is half bare and half "meh".
And the roses bloom on.

How about five years ago October 12?

The First Ice and the Last Flowers

In 1492, Columbus may have sailed the ocean blue.  But in 2012, on what used to be Columbus Day, we started our day in Binghamton, NY with ice pellets and ended up with a mad dash to get plants under cover for a predicted hard freeze.

A hard freeze - we haven't even had a frost yet!

Ice pellets?

Early spring, early fall.  And there is an old folk belief that the earlier the first hard freeze, the harsher the winter.
(Civil War monument, Courthouse Lawn, Binghamton, NY 10-12-12, photo courtesy of AM)
And a scene near where I took the pictures on October 17, 2017.

Now what?  It's scary, because the weather is out of control, and no one knows what will come next.

Day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fall Fancies - Underperforming

Pictures taken the past week where I live in upstate New York.

We escaped a frost yesterday.  Now our mild fall is trying to make a comeback, but at the expense of fall beauty.  The trees are under-performing.  This picture was taken yesterday in downtown Binghamton, New York.
Taken Saturday in Maine, this area is a frost pocket.
Pumpkins a'plenty.
More winter squash, and ornamental corn.

Day 18 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sweet Painted Ladies

As I blog this, we are likely to have our first frost. The temperature is hovering around 35, but may drop lower.

As I rode home last night, I mentally said goodnight to the flowers that may be history by the time you read this.

So many flowers, so little time to say goodbye.

Last month, my "guest photographer" took pictures of painted lady butterflies on zinnias.  Let us say goodbye to the red zinnias.
The pink zinnias.
The yellow zinnias.
Switching to some of my pictures - dahlias.
And it isn't just flowers.  Check out this coleus.

Goodnight garden.

Goodnight June.

Goodnight warm nights watching the moon

Time for the frost

Time for the pumpkins

Time to get out the winter coats and shovels.

Day 17 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Monday, October 16, 2017

Music Moves Me - Cars and Trucks

Today, on Monday Moves me, songs about cars and trucks.  Or so I thought.  I apparently picked up next week's theme, but that is the kind of week it has been for me.

First, how about the theme song of a classic 60's TV show - Car 54 where are you?  OK, it wasn't about the car, but it's the first thing that popped into my head.

Drive (the Cars).

Hot Rod Lincoln - first released in 1955, this version is the cover by Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen.

I am keeping this short and sweet today.  My back is still bothering me but I am pulling double duty - my husband fell Saturday, broke his nose, and strained his neck.  Thank heavens; it could have been so much worse.  So you all be careful out there!!

Guess, since I am out of sync, I will blog about whatever music I want to next week!

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.

Day 16 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day October 2017

In my zone 5b upstate New York garden, it is summer today, with a high near 80 degrees F expected.

By Tuesday, however, we should have our first frost.  Some areas have already had frost already.  But for now, we still have most of our flowers.
I put together this collage for your enjoyment.

We had a bumper year for pineapple sage, a plant that is not hardy here, alas. It will die with the frost.

I would never put up a photo of a dying daylily flower, but this one is special, because it bloomed yesterday.  This daylily has never rebloomed.

This was not technically a GBBD picture (it was from Tuesday) but these are our zinnias, in our community garden plot.
Inside our house, both our Thanksgiving cactuses are blooming.

And finally, just to show that even in failure there is beauty, this was a failed project to grow trailing nasturtiums in a hanging basket.  I got one plant out of it and it was never happy. But it is blooming today.

I will leave you with this farewell photo - heuchera and Persian Shield.

Now that you've seen my flowers, why don't you visit Carol at May Dream Gardens in Indiana, who features this once a month meme on her website, and see what is blooming all over the world?

Day 15 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost