Thursday, November 30, 2017

Nostalgia Revisited

Things seem to get more horrible each day.  Wars, refugees, terrorism.

There's North Korea looming in the distance for us.  For the people of South Korea and Japan, it's on their doorstep.  I grew up in the "duck and cover" times.  Now, those times are back.

Famine.  Refugee camps.

Climate change.  Floods.  Fires. 

So nostalgia is starting to look really good.

Pining for the misty "good old days" is probably as old as humanity is.  But today, we have electronic ways of expressing it.  Just go on Facebook.  Oh, those good old days, when.....

Yeah, right.  And that is because there is no such thing as the 'good old days".  Never has been.

If you, dear reader, are in your 20's and 30's, just wait.  In about 20 or so years that nostalgia mosquito is going to bite you.  One day you'll find yourself frustrated with technology that your 10 year old child uses effortlessly.  Or you'll suddenly realize that TV shows (if they even have TV in 20 years) just aren't made the way they used to be.

That "my childhood is a museum" feeling that I used to get talking to my son will be your feeling, too.

And the thing is:  "those days" weren't ideal.   Not everything was great.  Not everything has gone downhill.

So exactly what it is about the "good old days" that I don't miss? . For my younger readers: you get one point for every item where you actually knew what I was talking about without using the link.  Ready?  Let's go!

1.  Coke-bottle eyeglasses.  If you wear glasses and have poor vision (like me) I am thankful daily for ultra light lenses that don't leave permanent sores on your nose and your ears.  And glass lenses which don't break.

2. Typewriters.  I learned to type on a manual typewriter in Mrs. Gottlieb's 7th grade typing class.  Mrs. Gottlieb was the most feared teacher in my junior high school (an archaic term, by the way).  She put tape on all the keys so you couldn't cheat and find the correct key by glancing down.  

Typewriters?  Well, if you didn't have one, you'd have to pay someone to type your term papers.  It was a complex process:  inserting paper into a roller, rolling it into position, setting the margins, typing, and when you heard a bell, you knew you were about 5 spaces from the end.  Time to hyphenate, then return the carriage to where it started, and type your next sentence.

3.  Carbon Paper.   And  onionskin.
If you needed copies, you just didn't tell your word processing software to print multiple copies.  You took special paper, and inserted carbon paper between each sheet - and heaven help you if you made a typo and had to correct all of those pages.  That was an art form in itself.

4.  Old fashioned medicine.  I'm probably going to get an earful about this.  But, let's put it this way.  I have a medical condition, easily treated today for many people with diet, exercise and medication.  My grandmother died from the same condition in 1937 because there was no treatment.  Things wouldn't have been much better in the 1950's, when I was young.  And there was the time I broke my leg, and they never took X Rays, which resulted in a night of incredible agony I can still remember (especially the part where they wanted me to walk on said leg because "it was only sprained".  No, it was broken in three places.)  Could you see that happening now?  (On the other hand, I miss house calls.  A lot. )

Modern medicine has a lot of problems, no doubt about it.  But enough of us are walking around right now who may not be on this earth if we hadn't expanded on the medical knowledge of the 1950's.

5.  Old style hiking, swimming, and land exercise clothing.  So heavy.  So sweat trapping.  Enough said.

You'll notice I am talking about technology and not culture, not people's attitudes.  There's enough material there for another blog post.

But nostalgia calls.  So let's revisit it today.

Do you feel nostalgic for your childhood or teenage years?   What do you miss about it? What don't you miss about it?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Fall Fancies - Unseasonable.

This should not be

These trees should be bare on November 28th. 

This flower in my yard shouldn't be blooming on November 25.

We shouldn't be walking along the Chenango River in mild, sunny weather.

But we are.  As much as I hate winter, this is still another fall that just hasn't been right.  I don't feel right.  I feel unbalanced.  Even looking at these beautiful remnants of ornamental grasses near the river, something feels off.

What will happen next?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Charlotte Russe #FlavoursomeTuesdays

Two years ago, I blogged about being invited to a 104th birthday party for my spouse's last living aunt.  She lives several miles from my childhood neighborhood in the Bronx.   In fact, I grew up about two and a half miles (four kilometers) from the restaurant where the party was held.  It's in a part of Yonkers that is heavily Irish, and within walking distance of the Bronx border.  (And yes, I'm pleased to announce that this aunt will be celebrating her 106th birthday early next year).

The first time I ate there (for this aunt's 100th birthday) something interesting happened.  I couldn't resist walking after the 100th birthday party - I needed to stretch my legs.  I went out walking with my sister in law and my spouse.

As I walked down the street, I passed a bakery, an Italian bakery.  It had an old sign on it, a sign that may have dated from the 1960's.

Suddenly, something seemed so familiar.  I couldn't shake the feeling that I had been on this street long ago.

My mind took me back over 50 years, back to when many bakeries in the Bronx featured a special treat that is only made by one or two bakeries any more.  It was a street dessert called the Charlotte Russe.

I loved this special treat.

The Bronx Charlotte Russe was simple- a round piece of spongecake, with whipped cream and topped with a cherry.  You bought it in a push-up cup - you pushed it up from the bottom as you ate.  It was more of a cool weather delight.

I remember taking a bus with my mother to a place in the Northern Bronx where I got my hair cut, and she would visit her life insurance agent to make a monthly payment on a small life insurance policy.  Then, she would buy me a Charlotte Russe.

One day soon after, on Facebook, someone from the Bronx posted a picture of a Charlotte Russe.  I knew what it was right away.  Some things you never forget.

The Russe was sitting on a box from the Holtermanns Bakery in Staten Island.  So I went online, and, sure enough, Holtermanns still makes these gems of sweetness.  Although, perhaps, not for much longer, as the push up cups are becoming harder and harder to find.  And, it seems they don't always use the spongecake - they use pieces of pinwheels or other cakes that didn't sell.

But Staten Island was a long way from the restaurant where the 104th birthday party was held.

Now, in 2017, I see Holtermanns Bakery still makes Charlotte Russe, at least if their website is up to date.  But for how much longer, I wonder?  I've found a second bakery, Francesco's in Hicksville, Long Island, that may also be making them (a comment on Trip Advisor), but I can't find absolute proof on their website.

Will I ever eat a Charlotte Russe again?  Will I ever feast on its whipped cream?

Do you have a favorite food that is no longer made or hard to find?

Join Bellybytes at Mumbai on a High and Shilpa Gupte at Metanoia for #FlavoursomeTuesdays.

Monday, November 27, 2017

His Last Words - Music Moves Me

It is the last Monday of November and, here in the United States, we just celebrated Thanksgiving.

We are grateful for so much, even as so many talented men and women of music have left us this year.

One recent death should make us all think about our lives.

As I was becoming a young adult, a show called the Partridge Family debuted on network television.  The plot (I did not watch it, so this is strictly through research) was simple - a widowed mother and her musical family have a hit song and take to the road to tour.

The oldest son, Keith Partridge (lead vocals and guitar), was played by a young (and good looking) actor by the name of David Cassidy. In real life, David Cassidy was the stepson of Shirley Jones, who played the Partridge Family Mom.

David Cassidy was less than three years older than I was.  You would think such a good looking man would have a wonderful life with all the fame that resulted from him appearing on the show.

You would be wrong.

But first, some of the music of David Cassidy.  Here, the theme of the Partridge Family show starting in the second season "Come On Get Happy".

Their big hit of 1970, "I Think I Love You".  The show, in its original run, lasted four years.  It has been rerun on various channels.  Here you can find what has happened to the main actors and actresses on the series.

Eventually, Cassidy became a solo singer and recorded several solo albums. The "Partridge Family" released nine albums under the Partridge Family name, although Cassidy also performed Partridge Family songs in his solo concerts with his own band.

Three of the major cast members predeceased him, including the youngest Partridge sibling.

David Cassidy, as he grew older, did not make the best choices.  He was arrested several times for DUI.  Earlier this year, he revealed he had dementia after a disastrous concert where he forgot the words to songs he had sung for over 40 years.

After his death, his daughter Katie Cassidy revealed her father's final words:  "So much wasted time." 

Fame and fortune isn't everything.  There's an expression that, sometimes, the purpose of your life is to be a warning to others.

Yes, I'm grateful for a lot in my life.

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.  

Today is a freebie, meaning we can blog about anything musical. For the month of December, the MMMMers will be concentrating on holiday music.  I will be joining them for at least a couple of musical Mondays.  Come join us, if you have music to share!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Uneasiness of Green

Yesterday, we walked on the West Side of Binghamton, New York (not that far from where the late Rod Serling of Twilight Zone (among other accomplishments) fame grew up.

What did we see on this late November day?

Flowering brassicas - check.
Some things that were usual - such as berries, bright spots on a cloud day.

At one time, dandelions would not have been a common sight - they would have been buried under snow, if they were even blooming.

This foliage should not look like this by now, no matter how pretty it is.  It belongs to days or weeks ago.

And, as for this green tree, that is not normal, either.  My spouse, in fact, has been tracking seeing the last green leaves for years, in this area where most trees lose their leaves and enter a winter's nap to survive the snow and cold. This is the latest ever we have seen such a sight.  The Bradford Pears, in particular, seem to be waiting for something to happen, sitting in a suspended state of part green and part sort-of-red.

Things aren't right.  There is a disturbance in The Force.

What about where you live?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Local Saturday - Is Everything We Know About Shopping Wrong?

Small Business Saturday was today, in the United States.

So much of our well being depends on the retail industry.  And now, there is a struggle.

We are told to shop local and even have that "Small Business Saturday", which is corporately sponsored by a large corporation.  But its heart is in the right place, and, yes, I shopped at several local businesses today.  As I did so, I tried to shop for American made goods.
Johnson City, New York, about 5:55 am November 24, "Black Friday"
Yesterday, though, I was a part of Black Friday.

This year, when I shopped at chain stores, I realize that they employ locally, at least at their physical locations.  For example, I have a relative who works at Home Depot, (not the one pictured), a job he obtained after losing his job as an electrical engineer.  Was it wrong for me to be on that line in the photo?


I got my mother in law her holiday gift online (at the website of another big box store), and I bought a part of her overall gift from Amazon.  (I can say that because she received her gift early).

I don't feel there is a right answer anymore.  I seem to be doing the wrong thing no matter what.

Do I shop at big box stores, and try to buy American made where possible?

Do I shop at local small businesses, who might be selling merchandise made overseas?  (I did shop at a local business on Black Friday, for what that is worth).

Do I not buy online, when it is so convenient, and saves me time and gas?

Do I not buy at all, and destroy the American and world economies?

Is everything I know about shopping wrong?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Surrender - #SkywatchFriday

For some reason, the weather pattern we have been in these past few weeks in upstate New York have led to some of the most beautiful sunsets.

These are sunsets from Wednesday, the day before the United States Thanksgiving celebration.
I came out of work, and the sunset was already in progress.
That one cloud made all the difference.
Orange, yellow, pink and purple danced in the sky.
Finally, the sunglow started to surrender to the coming night.

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Brown is Beautiful #ThursdayTreeLove

Just because you aren't red or yellow doesn't mean you aren't beautiful.

Fall in upstate New York begins with beautiful yellows and reds.  But, towards the end of fall, brown becomes beautiful, especially in one of our rare sunny days.

In downtown Binghamton, New York, trees clothed in brown glowed in noon sunlight last Friday.  The short tree in front is a magnolia, famous for its beautiful large pink white flowers in April.

This is what the blooms look like.

It has been an amazing fall.  Most trees have lost their leaves but some trees are only now beginning to turn color.  This will be the latest (my spouse has tracked this for years) we will see green leaves in the 30 plus years we've lived in this area.

Join Parul and other bloggers who love trees in all their seasons, in #ThursdayTreeLove.

Today, in the United States, it is Thanksgiving Day.  Let me take this opportunity to thank all my readers for their readership, their support, and their comments.

Go and love a tree today.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Being Thankful

Last Saturday's farmers market in upstate New York.

The bounty of the season, something I can be so thankful for (several recipe links below).
Stirring the wet ingredients
Combining all the ingredients.
The making of an apple cake (recipe here).
Cranberry Sauce (recipe here) - this year, I added one grated apple, and I liked it.
Before baking - note, I am no pie expert
Pumpkin Pie made with condensed milk (I used a store bought unbaked pie crust, and this time, I even waited until it was at room temperature to unroll - as I didn't do last year, and I learned the hard way never to try to unroll a cold unbaked pie crust ever again).

I am thankful for being able to have Thanksgiving at home, that we have the money to buy the feast, and that we have a warm house filled with love.

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Thanksgiving Memory - #FlavoursomeTuesdays

A while back, in 2015, I shared the below memory with you of my young adulthood, when my spouse was in the Air Force, and we were spending our first military Thanksgiving, together with other people serving, away from home.  At that time, I couldn't find the recipe for my Memory Pie, which is a soybean pie (no, really, please keep reading) that tastes like a pumpkin pie.

But, thanks to a decluttering project, I have found the recipe.  This was my second copy of the cookbook - I had worn the first one to shreds.

So what happened when I found the recipe?

I offered to make it, but my spouse took one look at the recipe, and said "no". When we went to our local supermarket, I couldn't even find dried soybeans.  So I am not going to bake a pie for you.

I will leave you, instead, with a link to the recipe, which is available online.

But I will not leave you with the pie.  Just a memory for FlavoursomeTuesdays, a weekly meme started by two bloggers.  Here is my memory:

It was the mid 1970's and we were over a thousand miles from home.  It was my spouse's first Thanksgiving in the military.  He was undergoing technical training in Texas.  And he had friends in his class, all of whom were far away from home, too.

For the most part we were in our late teens or early 20's, but among us was a slightly older man.  Sgt W. was from Iowa and he was a soybean farmer.  As I recall, he had joined the National Guard and was training with my spouse's Air Force class.

Sgt W. had never eaten a soybean.  He had never sampled the crop he grew.

In the mid 1970's, soybeans weren't common the way they are today.  But I had become an on and off vegetarian in college, and I had fallen in love with a couple of books - Diet for a Small Planet and Recipes for a Small Planet.  As I wasn't working at the time, and my spouse was making the tiny salary of an airman, money was tight and we used the methods explained in this book to stay healthy.  We ate whole grain homemade breads, bean and rice casseroles, and even dishes made with the healthy soybean.

In one of these books was a recipe for a mock pumpkin pie made with pureed soybeans, pumpkin pie spice and other ingredients I can't remember (nor could I find the recipe in a long Internet search last night). 

My spouse invited several of his classmate friends, including Sgt W., to Thanksgiving dinner.  And, an idea hatched in my mind.  Why not make something with soybeans for him?

We had a turkey, and other items no longer remembered.  It was one of the happiest Thanksgivings I remember, because we were all away from home but not lonely, and I remember our companionship much more than I remember the food.

Except for one thing.  When I served my "pumpkin pie", Sgt W. dug in, and said he liked it.  So did everyone else.  I even liked it, and I don't like pumpkin pie.

So I admitted to him that his "pumpkin pie" was really soybean pie.  And he didn't seem to mind.

I wonder what he said when he returned home to Iowa when his class was over.  We never saw him again after that.

I don't know where Sgt W. lives today, or if he is even alive.  Sadly, I  know at least one of the young men at that dinner passed several years ago.  So I don't know if W. remembers the young woman he had Thanksgiving with, in an apartment near an Air Force base in Texas in the mid 1970's, and the soybean pie she served him.

If you are out there, Sgt. W, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Join Bellybytes at Mumbai on a High and Shilpa Gupte at Metanoia at #FlavoursomeTuesdays.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Songs of Thankfulness #MusicMovesMe

Today, on this Music Monday before Thanksgiving in the United States, our theme is "Tunes with the word "Thankful/thanks or about Thanksgiving or tunes about what you are thankful for."

This year, it is more important than ever to be thankful - for family, or health, or even for our very lives, in a world that is in such turmoil.

It's going to be a hard Thanksgiving time for some families in the rock n' roll world; more on that a little later.

Anyone who has a best friend is so fortunate.  I am thankful that I have a best friend.  My first song is: Queen - You're My Best Friend.

To my spouse, who is a huge Led Zeppelin fan - Thank You, from Led Zeppelin II.

We Gather Together, a hymn we used to sing in public school (yes, public school) every Thanksgiving, in the elementary school I attended in New York City.  Guess I'm dating myself.

And one more - Thankful 'NThoughtful by Sly and the Family Stone.

And now, to the sad music news of this week.

Malcolm Young, rhythm guitarist for the band AC/DC, passed away from dementia at the age of 64 - the same age as I am.  His older brother had died earlier this year.   Blogger Angel's Bark blogged an excellent tribute to Young.

Here is one of my favorite AC/DC songs - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, from 1976.

Mel Tillis died yesterday at the age of 85.  I am not that much of a country music fan, but I mourn the death of a great musician.  Here, from 1978, Coca-Cola Cowboy.

As I write this post, David Cassidy, of Partridge Family fame, is in ICU and is not expected to survive much longer.   Cassidy, 67, was suffering from dementia, but also had a drinking problem for years.  He was hospitalized Wednesday suffering from liver and kidney failure, initially put into a medical induced coma, but is now conscious and with family..

Here, he covers the song Cherish, done by the Association in 1966.

Join Xmas Dolly, the Conductor of this Musical trip and her other Conductors:   Callie of JAmerican Spice, and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  & Rockin’ conductor Cathy from Curious as a Cathy !
Don't miss this train when it leaves the music station!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Some Thanksgiving History

Thanksgiving 2017 in the United States will be November 23.

Did you know that the American celebration of Thanksgiving is intertwined with our Civil War?

United States Civil War country - looks so peaceful now
With increased interest in the Civil War due to the controversies (sometimes descending into violence) over Confederate monuments, it is well to return to our roots for a moment.

This is Abraham Lincoln's October, 1864 Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving, 1864.

Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America, made a declaration of Thanksgiving in 1865.  He had issued earlier ones, mentioning specific battles.  This was a more general Thanksgiving proclaimation.  Ironically, the date he set turned out to be less than a month before the fall of Richmond, Virginia (the Confederate capital) to Federal troops.

Back in 2011, I wondered how the first Civil War Thanksgiving (1861, our first year at war with each other) was celebrated by the troops on both sides.

In1861 there was no national Thanksgiving.  Every state set its own date.

Thanks to another blogger, we have a good description of how Thanksgiving was celebrated by the troops in 1861.  Some of the foods are those we would gobble (pun intended) down today.

The troops had a lot to be thankful about.  Similar to the Thanksgiving dinner our troops get today (if at all possible, according to location) the troops on the designated Thanksgiving Day for their locality got special rations, and the chance to eat "real food":  turkey, potatoes, and even oysters.

And, for those of us from New York, a description of the Soldier's and Sailor's Thanksgiving.  The military still continues this tradition with troops serving away from home today. (And, on Tuesday, I will blog about our first Thanksgiving with my spouse serving in the military).

So, if you celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday - give thanks, and ponder the history of this holiday.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today, I left a career that I had been in for 20 years, with 10 of the last 20 years spent at the same employer.

A job I had liked at one time had fallen apart, so much so that, over a nine month period. almost everyone in the small office I worked in (around 13 people to start) had quit.  I was one of the last ones to go.  I had clung to that job for dear life.

The next four months changed my life.

My last day of work was on a Tuesday.  The next day, a Wednesday, I waited with my elementary school son at the bus stop for the very first time, and watched him get on the bus.

Over the next four months, before I got another job, what did I do?

Two former co workers and I spent one day a week (when her condition permitted) with a friend and former co worker who was terminally ill with cancer.  It was a humbling experience.  Sadly, she passed away three months after I left that job.

I volunteered at the elementary school my son attended once or twice a week.  I spent much of my volunteer time in the school library.  I had thought strongly about becoming a librarian when I was younger, and it was a pleasure to be there.

I was able to shop in stores when they were empty.

I exercised at the YMCA.

I spent time with my son as he had four months with a stay at home Mom.

And, most of all, I spent time with an incredible book called "What Color is Your Parachute".  I had first discovered this book after losing my first job after graduating college.  That job had barely lasted a year when I found myself laid off.  That was back in 1975, and I turned to that book a couple of other times in my life.  This time, I was serious about the exercises the book teaches you to "find yourself".  For the first time, I realized what really brought joy to my life.

I was eventually fortunate enough to find another job, one that used that favorite interest, one that was so obvious that I had never realized it.  I am still in that career field today, as I approach my 65th birthday.

So, recently, I was saddened when I discovered the author, Richard Nelson Bolles, who updated the book every year since it was originally published, had died this past March at the age of 90.

Can you imagine doing something you love until you are 90?  I am in awe of this man, as I start to think about how I will spend the next portion of my life.

Maybe one day, I'll write a book that changes the lives of millions of people.  As we used to say many years ago, "wouldn't that be cool?"
The road of life, courtesy of my "guest photographer"

Maybe tonight, I'll spend some time dreaming of the next chapter of my life, just as I did 20 years ago.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mid November Sky #SkywatchFriday

Mid-November, where I live in upstate New York, is a time when skies tend to be dark and gloomy.

But sometimes, the sun sometimes manages to peak out.  Yesterday, it did just that, soon after sunrise.
Minutes later, the sky colored up.
Meanwhile, the day before, birds gathered on a wire, against one of our more typical gloomy skies.

Join Yogi and other bloggers from all over the world for #SkywatchFriday, where you can see pictures of the sky from all over the world.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Talking Turkey with the Talk-Line

First, I have to make one thing clear.  It's not the Butterball Hotline, which I thought it was until yesterday.  It's Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line, and it has been giving turkey cooking advice to people in the United States since 1981.
Our 2015 turkey
Why would Americans need to talk turkey? Because on Thanksgiving, it is traditional to cook a turkey, and - well, there are so many ways to prepare turkeys.

I've wanted to call the Hot..I mean, the Turkey Talk-Line for years, but my spouse, the family cook, has never needed turkey advice.

Comedian Stephen Colbert has made it a Thanksgiving tradition to call the Turkey Talk-Line with prank questions for years.  But here, he turns the tables and take a phone call.

By the way, don't take his advice.

Tuesday, someone I know was concerned because she had purchased a 28 pound (12.7 kg) frozen turkey for Thanksgiving (November 23 this year, in the United States) and had tried online research to figure out how long to cook it.  She had never cooked that big a turkey before.

Why don't we call Butterball? I asked.  "OK, but you start the conversation" was her response.  And so I dialed 1-800-BUTTERBALL.  The phone was answered quickly by a woman.

Upon hearing of the 28 pound turkey, the woman exclaimed, "oh, you will have such a beautiful turkey when it is cooked.  It will be golden brown; it will look like something in a Norman Rockwell painting!  It will look wonderful on your table."  Obviously, she sensed our hesitation.  But she was totally prepared with advice.

She took us through the process.  "You need to take the turkey now, today, and put it in your refrigerator.  It will take that long to safely defrost." Then she explained how to pat the turkey dry, take out the giblets (these turkeys are prepped and almost ready to go).  She gave us the oven temperature (325 degrees F), the fact that after a couple of hours we were to tent the turkey with aluminum foil, and the total approximate coking time (4 1/2 hours) for the unstuffed turkey.  And, she recommended we use a meat thermometer and what temperature the breast, or the leg, should be before you consider the bird "done".

She talked with us as if she had all the time in the world (maybe, a week away from Turkey Day, she did have a lot of time. But, on Turkey Day, her and her co workers will field about 10,000 phone calls). And again, she told us how beautiful that turkey was going to look on the table. After our questions were answered, she asked for only one thing - what was our zip code (postal code)?

We answered, and she said "Binghamton, New York.  Oh, I grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania!" (that's about an hour south of us).  She closed by asking if we had any more questions (we didn't).

And so ended our conversation with the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.

It did make me wonder who works for the Talk-Line, and if they enjoy talking turkey all day long.
So, an article about their experiences is quite fascinating, too, especially, when you get to the part about the 89 year old man cooking his first turkey.  It sounds like such a fun place to work, if you are a people person.

Have you ever used the Turkey Talk-Line?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - November 2017

This Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for November may well be the most amazing one in my years of participating in this every 15th of the month meme.

In my upstate New York zone 5b garden, our first frost came only a week ago.

Now, I don't have too much left outside.  Right after the first frost came the first snow and the first freeze and the first temperatures dipping down to the teens.  These flowers, such as this pansy, are all in hanging baskets I took in during the worst of the weather.  And now, the shorter days and my work schedule forced me to take pictures in the dark.
A geranium that was a Mother's Day gift from my son.

And, inside, my house, several of my Thanksgiving cacti are blooming.  I just couldn't get this picture right.
Here's a picture my "guest photographer" took of the snow squall on Thursday.
And, on October 28, I took this farewell photo of some of my outdoor begonias.

Thank you, Carol at May Dreams Gardens, for hosting this monthly meme.

Want to see what is blooming all over the world?  Visit the May Dreams Gardens blog and click on the various participants.

What is blooming in your part of the world?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mr. Softee #FlavoursomeTuesdays

A summer evening in Brooklyn.  I am visiting a childhood friend.  We've known each other for 50 years.  You can't get more nostalgic than that.

A familiar bell rings in the distance.
It's the Mr. Softee truck!

Mr. Softee was one of the staples of growing up in New York City, along with the Good Humor man.   But I hadn't had a Mr. Softee in - oh, 50 years?

I didn't even know they existed any more.

I had to have a Mr. Softee.  My friend's husband bought me my favorite, a soft vanilla cone. No sprinkles, no gunk, just pure vanilla pleasure.

I need to explain that Mr. Softee is a brand of something we call soft ice cream, or, sometimes, "custard".  I'm not sure how popular it is outside the United States, but, even today, it is popular where I live in upstate New York.  The soft ice cream is normally eaten on a cone, sometimes with sprinkles, or fudge topping (which freezes into a hard shell).  The favorite flavors are vanilla and chocolate, but, more recently, exotic flavors have joined the ranks.  And, for those lactose intolerant (as one of my childhood friends is), there are even milk-free varieties.

In the summertime (and this is still true today) ice cream trucks cruise residential neighborhoods, bells ringing, and stop every couple of blocks so the neighborhood children, clutching their money, can buy some spur-of-the-moment ice cream.

What happens when you try to relive your childhood memories?  Memories of food - taste, texture, and events surrounding the food are some of my strongest childhood memories.

So, I decided to go on You Tube, and, to my delight, I found I wasn't the only one who remembered Mr. Softee.  But, good news - they still exist.

This video shows the soft ice cream being served, and shows a vintage ice cream tune music box.

Sometimes, though, other things happens when you try to relive your childhood.  Like when I ate that ice cream cone above.

I had already eaten dinner, and I ended up with a stomach ache.

Why am I reliving childhood food memories?

Several weeks ago, I was invited by an Indian blogger, who goes by the name of Bellybytes, to participate in a weekly meme called "FlavoursomeTuesdays".  I promised her I would participate, and then life happened - more than once.

But I am finally posting today, and keeping the English spelling of (what we spell as "flavorsome") flavoursome, to keep the flavor.  So, if you have a food memory to share, why don't you participate, along with Bellybytes and Shilpa and me on #FlavoursomeTuesdays with "your droolworthy memories of food."

Tomorrow - Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Monday, November 13, 2017

Music Moves Me - One Hit Wonders of High School

Today, on Music Moves Me, the every Monday music blog hop I participate in, the theme is "one hit wonders of when you were in high school."

I am fascinated by one hit wonders. You sometimes just have to wonder - why didn't they make it with additional hits?  The songs can be so promising.

For me, my high school years were 1967-1970 (my high school started in 9th grade). 

1967 brought us a novelty song by "Whistling Jack Smith" called "I was Kaiser Bill's Batman".  The real name of Whistling Jack Smith was John O'Neill, and, sadly, he passed away in 1999.

1968 was so hard because there were so many wonderful one-hit wonders that year. I will not subject you to MacArthur Park by Richard Harris, as much as I would like to because I know so many people detest that (I'm a bit partial to the Donna Summer cover myself).  Instead, I feature a great talent, Mason Williams, whose hit of 1968, Classical Gas, nearly made my instrumental post of last week.

For 1969, I picked a favorite of my spouse's - Hot Smoke and Sassafras by the Bubble Puppy.  I rocked so hard to this song, I almost bounced the laptop right off my lap.

Finally, for 1970, I picked a song that technically I should not have picked, because it was a hit after I graduated high school in 1970, but I love this song so much, I made an exception.  Miguel Rios sings "A Song of Joy". (Note, some images at the beginning may be disturbing).  This song was more popular in Europe than in the United States, where it peaked at #14.

What one hit wonders of your high school years are your favorites?

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.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Rest of the Story

I first blogged about this in 2013, and decided to see what had ended up happening.  It is a fascinating story with a twist at the end that couldn't have been foreseen when I first blogged about this in 2013.

To every city comes its 15 minutes (or more) of fame.  We here in Binghamton, New York may be about to get ours.

Back in 2013, someone I know was sent a DVD by her daughter.  It was a DVD of a documentary movie called "The Queen of Versailles".  It co-starred a woman by the name of Jackie Siegel.  Married to a timeshare billionaire, David Siegel, this documentary started out with the purpose of filming the building of what was intended to be the largest house in the United States - their house - in Florida.  It was to have been modeled after the Palace at Versailles.

Quoting from the Internet Movie Database:

"Rather than going the been-there-done-that route of a rags to riches story, director Lauren Greenfield accidentally (yet exquisitely) delivers a riches to rags tale with the intimate glimpse into the wealthy lives of David and Jackie Siegel. As the president and CEO of the largest timeshare corporation in the country, David is the epitome of the American dream...While the film's initial purpose was to document the development of their 90,000 sq. ft. home (the third largest in the United States), once the financial crisis of 2008 impacted banks globally, David soon finds his entire empire in jeopardy."

In fact, things went so sour that David Siegel decided to sue the filmmaker.  He eventually lost.

Back in 2013, the house was on the market.  It was on sale for a mere $65,000,000.  After all, it has 13 bedrooms and 26 bathrooms. (All full bathrooms have jacuzzis).  Let's not forget the rock grotto with the 3 spas, the indoor roller rink or the "family wing" for the Siegels' eight * children. 

So, what did this have to do with Binghamton, a city of about 47,000. in upstate New York?

Jackie Siegel is a native of Binghamton.  This 47 year old woman grew up in the middle class, still has childhood friends here, and graduated from RIT (the Rochester Institute of Technology), which one of my cousins went to. 

In interviews, people who knew Jackie as a young adult remarked on her beauty.  As far as whether that beauty is only skin deep you, my readers, will have to determine for yourself.

So what ended up happening?

The house, finally, may well be completed, thanks to a reality TV show.

*But, since I wrote the original blog post in 2012, tragedy struck the Siegel family, as their 18 year old daughter (their oldest), who suffered from anxiety, died in 2015 from an overdose of prescription medication.

The "lifestyles of the rich and famous" have rarely interested me, but, they are only one of millions of families in the United States who have had to struggle with addiction to prescription drugs.  Being rich and famous (or infamous) does not spare you.  It does, perhaps, enable you to do things many of us can not due, such as setting up a foundation.

So the house is no longer the full story, although you can see some of it in this video with the "queen" herself.

So this tragedy? It could have happened to any one of us. 

And that, folks, is reality.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day

The 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, we pause to commemorate (what we call in the United States) Veterans Day.  My father was a World War II veteran (non combat) as was my father in law, but many others have paid the ultimate price to defend their countries.

Sometimes, that price isn't death, but something the veteran lives with for the rest of his/her life.

Monuments are nice, but they don't tell the whole story of the suffering of those men and women.

Many years ago, when we were a lot younger and my spouse was serving in the military, we befriended a younger single man.  At the time we were stationed in Kansas.  This young man had grown up in Missouri.  One day he invited us to his parents' home in rural Missouri.

I got the feeling this invitation was quite a leap of faith for him.  That
he didn't do this kind of thing very often.    We accepted the invitation and spent a weekend with his family.

His father was a Korean War veteran.  It was a Saturday night and,we were warned, the father was going to overindulge in alcohol.  And so he did.

It was obvious that this inebriated older man was reliving his experience in war.  He was in the middle of a battle.  He shouted out commands.  He fought demons only he could see.  Finally, he was carried to bed.

Our friend's mother explained this happened every weekend.  Long ago, the father was young and in battle.  His commanding officer was killed.  The Dad received a battlefield promotion and he was suddenly in charge.   It did something to him, hurt him in a way he was never able to recover from.  Every Saturday night he would seek solace in the bottle. Although he relived the battle and was obviously suffering, in the morning he would remember nothing.

I have never been in war.  I know people who have.  I know people who were civilian casualties of war, too.  But this Korean War veteran has stuck in my mind over many years.  We never received another invitation.  We drifted apart when our friend, sadly, became more interested in drugs than in our friendship.  In his own way he fought demons too.
War claims many victims and I wish we treated our veterans with the respect they deserve.  Not just lip service.  It's improving over the years but we have a long way to go.  It isn't just about free breakfasts and discounts on mattress sales.

I wish I could tell our friend today we were not ashamed of what we saw.  I wasn't mature enough then to understand.  Now maybe (maybe) I am.  My friend's father passed away in 2015. I hope that he has found peace at last.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Final Fall #SkywatchFriday

It had to happen eventually. Fall is leaving us with a suddenness we did not expect, here in upstate New York, after record warmth.

We only got our first frost, at my house, on Wednesday morning.  It's the latest first frost ever in my 31 years here.

Today we may well get our first snow flurries.  We are luckier than other parts of the United States, but perhaps, not for that much longer.

My thoughts wander back to Wednesday.  It was so beautifully sunny.
So cloudless.

Yesterday, the minutes after sunrise were so promising, as downtown Binghamton was bathed in a golden hour glow.

But, by sundown, it was overcast, which is normal for us in November (and December, and January....).  Suddenly, though, there was a break in the clouds, and the sunlight glowed even as the sun disappeared below the horizon.
Downtown Binghamton, New York, November 9
And the sky, for a few minutes, was blue again.

Join Yogi and the other watchers of the sky at #SkywatchFriday, where you can click and click and see skies from all over the world.  Will you join us?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Last of the Fall Color - #ThursdayTreeLove

Pictures taken yesterday in downtown Binghamton, New York.

Yesterday morning, we had our first frost in the city (outer areas had already had several), so these leaves will be gone.  Soon these trees will be bare.  By Friday, it will be bitterly cold.
But your going-out color will not be forgotten.

Join Parul and other bloggers who love trees on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, at #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fall Fancies - Voting

Yesterday, I stepped into a voting booth.  I stopped at the desk where I identified myself, and signed my name.  I was handed a ballot and filled out the voting circles with a designated felt tip pen.

I inserted it into the voting machine.

And I voted.

Easy peasy, right?

Well, I owe a lot to those who paved the way for me.  Until 1917, I could not have done this simple thing.
Susan B. Anthony, for example.  This is the house where she lived in Rochester, New York.

But there were male suffragists, too. 

One was Frederick Douglass, who also lived in Rochester.

Last year, our governor emailed:

"New York is not only the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, but it has a proud history of courageous women who triumphed over discrimination and advanced equality and opportunity for women everywhere. From suffrage pioneer Susan B. Anthony, who was arrested in 1872 at her home in Rochester for daring to vote...."

Yes, can you imagine a woman being arrested for what I did so easily yesterday.

I have a lot to be grateful for.  If you are a woman living in the United States, I hope you exercised the well-fought for right to vote, too.