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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Winter Wednesday -February Ups and Downs

In this strange up and down winter, we reached (unofficially) 73 degrees F (22.7 C) last week.

The next day, this is what happened (taken by my "guest photographer".

That's what February 2018 has been all about.

Snow.  Melt.  Snow.  Melt. We got up to 51 degrees F (10.5 C) Monday.  It was in the 50's yesterday.  Today? More 50's. Tomorrow? Who knows.

By the weekend we may have another snowstorm.  Sure enough this morning, I woke up to a winter weather watch.

Hard to believe because our forecasted high for today is 57 F (13.8C).

Tomorrow, March begins, and maybe after March we will be done with winter for this season.

Maybe.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A to Z in 2018?

Every April, the blogging world braces for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  This year the signup is March 5.

The premise is simple.  On April 1 your blog title and subject begins with "A". On April 2 "B". On April 3, "C".  And so forth, with (almost) every Sunday off.

It sounds easy.  It isn't, especially when you have to come up with topics for several letters (X, I'm talking to you).

I have five days to decide if I want to join this year.  I've participated the last three years (and survived), and it's been enjoyable for me.  There are a number of bloggers I read regularly who are also survivors.

I even had a topic planned for this year (I'm not telling what, in case I do sign up.)

But life is intervening, and I am not sure I can make it through.  In fact, it will probably take me a week to visit the blogs of all the wonderful people who visited me yesterday.  I've just about stopped commenting on comments to my blog, which, in the blogging world, is not "cool".  I'm not going to have the time to prewrite many of my posts, which is the key to success.

A to Z requires a LOT of participation.  You visit many blogs.  You hope many blogs visit you.

It's all about community.

So, do I want to do it anyway? Or try and have to quit?

Today, I am going to take an informal poll:  are you planning to participate in A to Z this year?

It won't influence my decision - but I am just curious.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Movie and TV Themes - #MusicMovesMe

Happy dance - I'm the spotlight dancer on today's edition of #MusicMoves Me!

But, first, a confession.

I picked as my theme "theme songs of movie or TV shows".  But last week, I realized the "something" in my subconscious that had caused me to think of that theme.

I have a friend who lives in Brooklyn, a man heavily involved in music in his retirement.  I've known him for almost 50 years.  He's a moderator on a Facebook group I belong to, and don't pay enough attention to, because I've been trying to limit my online time.

But I was subconsciously paying attention to him - because, for the last several weeks, he's been posting daily TV theme shows at the beginning of each day.

"Gulp" I think I plagiarized my friend, sort of.  I didn't mean to.  Honest!  But it's true - there are so many great TV and movie themes out there.

I hope you all had as much fun thinking of your post today as I did.

So, with that in mind, shall we begin?  I should have created a You Tube playlist, but I know a couple of my regular readers have trouble with them, so I have posted individual videos.


Let's start with the rousing theme song of the movie "The Magnificent Seven" from 1960, composed by Elmer Bernstein, who received an Oscar nomination.  Just thinking of the famous actors who starred in this movie - Steve McQueen, Yul Brenner, Charles Bronson....  how can you not be ready for adventure after listening to this?  (And some of my readers may even remember the use of this theme in Marlboro cigarette commercials, back when it was legal to advertise cigarettes on TV in the United States).

Interested in more information?  You can find some here.



John Williams really knows how to write movie themes (Star Wars, anyone?).  Here is the theme from Jurassic Park, which, for me, was an instant earworm.


And, speaking of John Williams, the first few notes of this movie theme from "Jaws" must be the most recognizable notes in history, next to the opening of Beethovan's Fifth Symphony.

Switching to other favorites of my childhood,I am going to take some liberties here.  Yes, I am aware that the song "Moon River" (written by Henry Mancini with lyrics by the incomparable Johnny Mercer) was not the theme of the 1961 movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's".  But I am going to include it, anyway.

Now that you are all relaxed and asleep, it's time for some James Bond music.  This was a hard one, picking between A View to a Kill, Goldfinger, and this one, by Paul McCartney and Wings - Live and Let Die.  "Live and Let Die" won out.

But "Goldfinger" was close, and I am going to feature it, too.
"Goldfinger" as sung by Shirley Bassey.  Pure 60's, and yes, I owned the 45.

A favorite of mine when I was going to college - Isaac Hayes and the theme from "Shaft" from 1971.

One last movie theme - Chariots of Fire by Vangelis.  Last week I promised you an Olympic theme song of many countries, and this is it.

Turning to TV shows, there are so many to choose from, and I only have so much room on my blog.

My first choice is The Sopranos theme song.  The song and the group have an interesting history.  Here in the United States this British band is known as A3, while in Great Britain they can use their true name, Alabama 3.



Next, I switch to a classic United States TV show that ran from 1959 to 1965, to be exact.  The show starred a young Clint Eastwood, and the theme song sung by Frankie Laine:  Rawhide.

I can't mention Rawhide without mentioning another Western theme song, one that became a hit, covered by many artists including Johnny Cash - Bonanza.  This program lasted 14 seasons on TV, and was a pioneering (no pun intended) TV show in many ways.


Although many think the Ventures performed the original theme song to the hit TV show (now in its second incarnation) Hawaii 5-O, it was actually performed on the original 60's show by the CBS Orchestra.

Miami Vice, composed and performed by Jan Hammer.  This is NOT the original version from the TV show but...heck, I love the music.

I will close with the theme for a long running TV show of the 80's and early 90's - Thank You for Being a Friend, the theme of Golden Girls.

Thank YOU for being my musical friend.

And so, there you have it.  I ran a little long this week, but it was my theme, and I could do what I wanted.  Thank you for singing or listening along!

Join the 4Mers every week for some great music (even when I'm not the spotlight dancer).



The Head 4M'er is XmasDolly.  Her co-4Mers are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice, and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   And last but certainly not least, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Civil War Sunday - Brothers At War

Between 2011 and 2015 I featured a weekly Sunday "Civil War Sunday" feature.  I'm not a United States Civil War "buff" but I am interested in history in general, and the 2011-2015 sesquicentennial of the 1861-1865 war was an opportunity to learn more about a part of history that many of us need to study more.

Brother against brother...

The state of Virginia, which was one of eleven states to secede from our Union between December of 1860 (South Carolina being the first) and June of 1861 (Tennessee), had more battles fought within its borders than any other state. 

Now, in the present, Virginia is developing a wine industry.  At a winery I visited in January of 2017, spouse and I bought this bottle of sweet white wine.   I admit, it was as much for the label as it was for the wine inside.
The front - brother fighting brother, which was not uncommon, especially in a "border" state like Virginia.

It feels a bit strange that the bloodiest war in our history is commemorated by what locals call a "porch wine", one made to be sipped slowly while visiting with friends.  But the message on the back of the bottle is one our country had better heed, as we seem to slip closer and closer to an uncertain future.

We forget history at our peril.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sustainable Saturday - Greenway

For the first time this year, I went with my spouse to the Vestal Rail Trail, a rail trail near to where I live in the Binghamton, New York area.

They had been busy while I was hibernating (no, not really, but I don't walk there much in the dead of winter for various reasons.)  There were new signs announcing the Two Rivers Greenway. This was the top of one.

This was the bottom of the sign.  You can barely see it but there is even a picture of the Vestal Farmers Market on the sign.  And it shows the way to the historic Vestal Coal House, where you can "Exercise Your Right to Refreshment!"

Here are some nature pictures I took today on the trail.  Here, the snow is melting and a stream is running fast.
A stand of birches, with our normal grayish February sky.
Finally, a beautiful reflection.

Today, we ended up having some rain with sleet mixed in.

But I can smell spring.  I can hear the birds singing.  I note the increasing day length.  The sun rises earlier every day.  It will be here. One day.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Weekend Clouds - #SkywatchFriday

The weather in the Southern Tier of upstate New York has been so changeable.

The clouds of this past weekend prove it.

Saturday's altocumulus clouds over our indoor farmer's market.  I loved the pattern they made.

Sunday sunset and a totally different set of clouds.

Join Yogi and other bloggers who watch the sky as they celebrate #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tree on the River #ThursdayTreeLove

Our winter in the Southern Tier of upstate New York has been up and down, up and down.

We had a record high yesterday - 69 F officially (20.5C), breaking the old record of 61 (16C).

Over the weekend, ice broke up on the Susquehanna River in Binghamton, New York.

Today, it was gone, completely, along with all our snow.

But that is all a memory now.  Winter, ice and snow are expected back.  The temperature is 34 F (1C).  It will be snowing soon.

Yet, the tree endures, and awaits the secret signal that will tell it to awaken, to bloom, and to grow leaves once again.

I can't wait.

Join Parul and other bloggers for #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Winter Wonders - I'm Not Fooled

 It is 50 degrees F right now (10 C), and supposed to get to a record high today around 70 (20 C).

But I'm not fooled.  Tonight and tomorrow the forecast is freezing rain turning to snow, with three to five inches (up to 13 cm) expected.  Now, that's more like normal.

To get us into the mood:

These pictures were taken by my "guest photographer" the first week of February.

Snow on the ground is normal this time of year where I live in the Southern Tier of New York State.


One day, spring will be here for good.  But not yet.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Another Year for Greasy Beans?


I wrote this blog post as I was thinking about what to grow in the 2014 gardening season.  I didn't order these beans, and it's probably just as well, because some animal kept eating our beans.  We had an almost complete failure of our beans in 2014.  But the last two years, we've had good luck with our beans.

We are shrinking our garden this year, but will always make room for beans.  So, today, a repeat of this 2014 post:

Greasy Beans in Upstate New York?

It is time to order our seeds for our 2014 community garden. We garden in the Binghamton area of upstate New York.

We look through catalogs, and ponder, and know that this year's garden will be the best ever.  There will be no drought, no rotting from too much rain, no insect pests, and no critter damage.  Everything we plant will come up, will flourish, and we will harvest record yields of everything.

Sure.

You must be an optimist in order to garden.

And, your heart must beat faster when you see something new.  Will you try it out?

Two Septembers ago, we visited Asheville, North Carolina and had the opportunity to visit several local farmer's markets - or, as they call them there, tailgate markets. (Unlike New Yorkers, North Carolinians reserve the term "farmers markets" for markets held in permanent structures).
North Asheville Tailgate Market, 2012
Even if there isn't a tailgate in sight, tailgate markets they are. 

In a North Carolina market, you will find products and produce you won't find in any upstate New York market.  That's part of the fun of travel.

Some vendors were selling something called a greasy bean.  We saw them for sale, but because we had no cooking facilities in the B&B where we were staying, we couldn't try them.  What they are is a pole green bean, without the tight fuzz you find on the pod of the typical green bean.  This gives them a shiny, or "greasy" appearance.  We were told they had excellent eating qualities, and that they were a bean grown in certain areas of the southeast, including Kentucky, and western North Carolina.

I must have signed up for this catalog somewhere when visiting Asheville, because the last two winters I have received an Asheville seed catalog called Sow True.

Last year, we didn't buy very much mail order,but this year, I decided we needed to support some of the smaller, non GMO catalogs.

So I opened up the Sow True catalog and what did I see:  Greasy beans.

The world of beans is fascinating: there are so many kinds to choose from. We've lived in several parts of the United States over the years, and have tried some of these varieties (when we lived in Kansas, we grew dried beans and in Arkansas, we grew yard long beans and crowder peas. ) But here in upstate New York, we do have a shorter growing season (perhaps 150 days) than Asheville (I would estimate between 185 and 195 days).  So, our first question was:  will these greasy beans even grow here?

We don't know. Some greasy beans, for example, have been grown in the Pacific Northwest with varying degrees of success.  But greasy beans here?  I've never seen them in any farmers market, not that I've been to every one in this area.

Again, I don't know if they will succeed.  But my heart says we should try.  Why not? Isn't experimentation part of learning?  What do we have to lose but some space in our community garden? And, if we succeed, we have a food unavailable locally at any price.

Have any of my readers tried to grow greasy beans outside of their normal Appalachian range?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Themes of Champions #MusicMovesMe


The Winter Olympics are being broadcast this week.  In their second week, I got to wondering - the theme used in United States broadcasts has been the same for so long.  Who wrote it, anyway?

It turns out there is more than one Olympic theme, and it isn't the same all over the world.  In the United States, actually, there are two different ones.

Smithsonian Magazine had a wonderful article on the Olympic Themes.
This is NBC Networks' Olympics Theme Song in the United States.

But this is not original music.  This music comes from a composition called "Bugler's Dream" composed by French composer  Léo Arnaud.  This is the original.
This Olympic Fanfare and Theme was composed by John Williams for the 1984 Summer Games, which were held in the United States.  These two compositions have become intertwined, with some claiming Williams "stole" Armaud's piece, and many Americans thinking that Williams wrote the Olympic theme.  Ah, complications of life.

But, wait, there's more music in store for you.  The CBC (Canada) has some of the most beautiful Olympic openings to their broadcasts.  This is the one from Rio in 2016.

"We are the Champions" by Queen, has become a standard in United States sports stadium.

There is one final song, which I understand parts of the world use as their Olympic "theme" - but you'll have to wait until next week to hear it.

And now, a little about Music Moves Me (aka "4M").

The Head 4M'er is XmasDolly.  Her co-4Mers are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice, and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   And last but certainly not least, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.

Will you join us today with some music?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Snow on the Water

Earlier this week we had had a spell of warm weather.

The ice on the river was breaking up on the Susquehanna River in Binghamton, New York.

Today, we woke up to about an inch of snow on the ground.  It's a wonderful opportunity to see who has visited overnight.

It will get above freezing today, so most of this should melt. But, in addition to snow on the river, there is snow on the evergreen.
Snow on the rhodie.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sustainable Saturday-Macarons Microgreens and Mushrooms

The farmers market in Binghamton, New York, February 17.

Macarons.  I am not a skilled baker and I would never attempt these.  These are the best ones I've ever had and someone is in for a treat tomorrow (if I remember to bring them!)

Here's a cake the same bakery baked.

Of course, a farmers market has to have produce.

We have a local mushroom grower, and his mushrooms are fantastic.


Microgreens, grown at a local business incubator in downtown Binghamton, New York.

Because of various situations, we've not been to the farmers market since New Years Eve (when we discovered they were closed).  We missed them.

Does your area have a winter market (assuming it is winter where you live?)

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Sky'sValentine #SkywatchFriday

February, for all its bad weather, can also give us a gift - the gift of a breathtaking sunrise and sunset.

Imagine taking an early morning walk, and seeing this.

Or this.

And, at the end of the day, seeing this.
And this.

This was nature's way of saying "Happy Valentine's Day" a day early, on February 13.

If you like these pictures, why not visit Yogi and other bloggers who watch the sky at #SkywatchFriday?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day February 2018

Today marks the beginning of the 12th year of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  Congratulations, Carol!

Today, let me show you what is blooming in my house in upstate New York, zone 5b.  Outside, the ground is covered with snow.  I only have a handful of blooming plants to show you.

Geraniums (from plants my son got me for Mother's Day two years ago now).
More geraniums.

Begonias.

And, finally, reblooming poinsettias from last year.  I have three such plants - this is one of them.  I'm not sure this counts, given that those large red bracts are not flowers, but they look nice.

My Thanksgiving cactus have been blooming since - well, Thanksgiving, but right now they are taking a little break.

And one of my moth orchids is putting up a flower spike.  I didn't take a picture - the poor plant is so past needing to be repotted, and yet it blooms.

Spring, please come soon.  Let all the snow melt and the early spring flowers start to bloom soon.

Thank you again to Carol at May Dream Gardens for keeping up this monthly meme, held every 15th of the month.

Is anything blooming in your house or yard? 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Caregiver's Valentine

Valentine's Day is a "manufactured" holiday, but it can still have meaning.

Allow me to present a virtual bouquet of flowers to all those I know who are caregivers for others - young children, seniors, those with serious illness.

You may have no time to celebrate. Or, you are spending this "day of love", not in a restaurant, but in a hospital room, or a hospice setting, or in the apartment of your senior family member.

You are the unsung.  You deal, not only with caregiving, but the comments (sometimes well meaning, sometimes not) of others.

May you find happiness today - and a few minutes of time alone.  Or a moment to read a book or take a shower.

Happy Valentine's Day to you.

You deserve it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Easy Valentine's Day Light Mousse


Love is in the air, everywhere (especially in retail establishments).  Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.

Love is big business.  But today I want to feature a simple recipe - it doesn't matter if you have a partner, a friend, a spouse, or a child, that you want to show some love to.  This is a simple dessert and not too heavy.  It would make a nice parent and older child project, too, if you use something other than the bourbon or rum.

Valentine's Day Easy and Light Mousse. (Sorry, metric folks, I did not convert).

Note, this does have eggs in it.

Take three eggs - we use free range eggs from the local farmer's market - and separate them.  Reserve the yolks for another use.  Put the whites in a clean bowl.

Mix a scant 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup bourbon or rum. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved.  Let cool.

In the meantime, melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in microwave.  They will still look whole, but they are melted.  Stir them.  Then, combine with the liquid well.  If desired add 1 tbsp of "Just Great Stuff" (powered peanut butter).

Beat your three egg whites, with 1/8 tsp cream of tarter, until stiff peaks form.

Then, gently fold in the chocolate mixture.

Divide into two (or four) dessert glasses, chill until nice and firm (perhaps two-three hours), and serve.

Yes, I know.  I am using raw egg whites!  Well, if this bothers you (one reason why I am using farm fresh eggs from a small farmholder), you can use  pasteurized egg whites  But it won't turn out as good, in my opinion.

Do you have a favorite dessert for Valentines Day?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Songs of Love - #MusicMovesMe

Today, on the blog hop Music Moves Me, we are asked to blog about "our favorite love songs", just in time for Valentine's Day.

Love Is Blue by Paul Mauriat is an instrumental cover of a French hit from 1967.  This rose to #1 on the American charts in 1968 and stayed there for five weeks, a fond memory of my teenaged years.

Mauriat, I was saddened to find, passed away in 2006.

Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers - this song is timeless and I fell in love with it the very first moment I heard it.  In researching the song, I found that this was actually a cover of a 1955 song that is considered one of the most recorded of the 20th century.

From 1967, Never My Love by the Association.  Speaking of love, there are so many songs by the Association that I love.  I almost inserted their song Cherish, although it is a song of lost love and a lover obsessing about his lost opportunity.  Still, I love the song.

Guess what.  I'm going to do it.  Cherish, by the Association, 1966.  I had this album, and there's a bit of trivia about this song I want to share with you.

Back in the 1960's, there was an "unofficial" rule that songs on the radio should not exceed three minutes.  This song clocked in about 3:25, so they decided to do a little edit.  At the end, you'll hear "and I do/cherish you" twice.  On the single, they removed one of the "and I do/cherish you" but the song still ran over three minutes. So, they lied about the length, labeling the record as exactly three minutes.

And finally, a song that, on the surface is an apology to a lover song, but this song has become a joke between my spouse and I because of a lyric he has misheard for years, and he still thinks his version is right.  (Ah, those mondegreens).

 So, presenting Chicago's "Hard to Say I'm Sorry".

And now, a little about Music Moves Me (aka "4M").

The Head 4M'er is XmasDolly.  Her co-4Mers are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice, and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   And last but certainly not least, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.

Will you join us today with some music of love?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

She Was Born in a Shopping Center

Today, I am rerunning a post from three years ago.

Imagine being born in a shopping center.  Imagine asking someone to take a picture of your birthplace discovering a history lesson.  This is what happened as the result of a little chat with one of my workmates.  Neither of us come from the area of Binghamton, New York, where we work today.

In the small world department, it turns out we used to live, many years ago, just a handful of miles from each other.  We are going through some similar times in our lives, and have learned so much from each other.

What started as an after dinner Christmas walk several years ago had become a holiday tradition for my spouse and me.  Little did I know that my 2014's walk might be the last one of its kind.  Times change and sometimes, traditions with them.

Here is the post:
In Yonkers, New York, there is an outdoor shopping center. Both my spouse and I shopped there (well, our parents did - we were just along for the ride) when we were small.

Back in the early 1960's this outdoor mall, the first in Weschester County, New York, contained large and small stores, a play area, and even a hospital.

It was called Cross County Center then, and Cross County Shopping Center now.  It opened in 1954 and is still going strong, unlike many other malls of the era. 

My parents would take two buses from our apartment in the Bronx (the northern borough of New York City, which borders Yonkers) to Cross County just to shop there.  I loved those outings.

Several months ago, I was chatting with a co worker where I work in Binghamton, in upstate New York.  I don't remember how we got on the topic of our childhoods, but I discovered that she had been born in the Cross County Hospital, and spent her early childhood in Yonkers, before moving away, eventually to Binghamton.

Small world.

Then, when I shared the fact that I had Christmas dinner every year in walking distance of that same shopping center, she asked me a favor: would I take a picture of the hospital for her?

I had to break the news to her that the hospital had closed in the 1980's.  The good news was, the building was still there.  I told her I would do my best to get a picture.

So, last week, after Christmas dinner, my spouse, my son and I walked to Cross County.

On the way, we saw flowers valiantly trying to stay alive in the cold early winter weather. (You knew I would try to sneak flowers into this post, didn't you?)
Red and white building on the right, once a hospital, is now, in 2017, a motel
 I took the picture she asked for. 

But then, walking further, we saw a rock.  A rock with a  historical plaque.  A rock neither my husband nor I remember from our childhoods.  But it must have been there.

It turns out that the land Cross County is located on has been a trading zone for hundreds of years.  First, Native Americans traded here, by a rock which became known as the "Trading Rock". Later, European settlers carried on the tradition.

My family and my in laws were simply carrying on a tradition already hundreds of years old.

Here is one more picture of Cross County.

Can you imagine, one day visiting the city of your birth and staying in the building where you were born in?  In a small way, I envy her.  (The good news is, since this post was written, that old hospital building is now a Hyatt Hotel.)


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sustainable Saturday - The End of a Legend

On February 24, 2014 I posted this experience with an American retailer by the name of L.L. Bean.  Located in Maine, this proud retailer used to stand behind their products - for life.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, L.L.Bean announced they had to change their return policy, due to the fact that it was increasingly being abused, including by some who apparently bought L.L. Bean products at yard sales and decided to make some money.

What a shame.

This was my experience in 2014.  And, for what it is worth, I still have - and wear - both the coat, and the fleece jacket I mention below.

With some small edits:

The L.L. Bean Coat

I occasionally  blog about customer service experiences, both good and not so good.

This experience, though, has to be a first.

There is a long time company, located in Maine, called L.L. Bean. They have been in business since 1912 and have a reputation for excellent customer service.  Their clothing can be a bit pricey, but I've been wearing one of their light fleece jackets for years and years, and I will go into mourning the day it finally falls apart.

In September of 2011 I bought a ski jacket in their flagship store in Freeport, Maine.  It was a splurge, and I don't ski, but it had some features I wanted.  It was a light ivory/white, which I wanted, so I could be visible at night if I had to go out.  It had a nice red liner, so fleecy and comfy.  I hadn't worn it enough to have to wash it until this year, when it became my go-to coat, in our extended "polar vortex" weather.

I washed it yesterday, and to my horror...well, let my email to L.L. Bean from today tell the story.

"I purchased during a visit to Freeport in 2011, a white ski jacket with red liner... I didn't wear it much the winters of 2011 and 2012 but wore it a lot this winter and got it dirty. I washed it for the first time yesterday-cold water, gentle cycle as directed. The red liner has bled all over the coat in various places and is visible from the outside in many spots on the hood and the back. It is cosmetically ruined. Is there anything that can be done? I love this coat and we are ready to go into another cold wave later this week. Thank you."

Less than 1/2 hour later (on a Sunday!!) I got this response:

"I am sorry to read the red liner on your North Ridge Sport Jacket bled.
Unfortunately, the jacket was discontinued in 2011 and is no longer available for replacement. You are welcome to return the jacket if you wish. We would issue you a gift card for the return... Simply print a return form and return shipping label[from our website]."

After a little further correspondence (which they responded to in minutes, as if someone was waiting there to get my email) I was told no rush if I need the coat until it warms up - there is no time limit on returns!  (I've read that - and now I know it is true).

And maybe, one day, it will really be spring.  Meantime, tonight, it is supposed to dip down to 10 above (-12.2 C), and by Wednesday, 3 above (-16.1 C) .  If you see someone with a blotchy white/ivory coat walking around Binghamton, New York, you'll know who it is.

Have you had a really good customer service experience?

Friday, February 9, 2018

White Sky #SkywatchFriday

I rather would have had a Florida sunset to post for today's #SkywatchFriday, brought to us by Yogi and other bloggers who watch the sky and share what they see.  Why don't you watch the sky and join us?

But instead of warm, sunny Florida, I have a snowy sky to share, courtesy of a snowstorm.  Many Skywatch Friday pictures are of beautiful sunrises and sunsets full of oranges and golds.  I'd like to show you a different view of the sky.

About 15 minutes after sunrise. The blurriness is not me but snow falling in downtown Binghamton, New York around 7:30 Wednesday morning.
Here's a drive home (photo taken by passenger).  Ah, that white sky that  hides so much, at about 3:45 in the afternoon.

I have to admit, winter is not my favorite season, but it sure produces some interesting photos.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Gold and Hawk #ThursdayTreeLove

Same tree, several hours apart.

On Monday, soon after sunrise, the day after a snowstorm.

And, several hours later, same tree.  I was attracted to a movement in the tree, which turned out to be a hawk.  The hawk is still in the tree, although it is difficult to see - just love natural camouflage.

Join Parul and other bloggers who love trees for twice a month #ThursdayTreeLove.
Do visit other participants.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Winter Wednesdays -Storm Watch

Two views of snow, in the heart of winter.  I know I promise my readers snow, and so far, I haven't delivered that much.

Sunday morning, snow resting delicately on evergreen branches.

Sunday night (taken Monday morning a few minutes before sunrise), an accumulation.

Today, we are supposed to have a snowstorm. It should start any minute.

We'll see what the trees look like after that storm.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Carolina's Gold Rice #FlavoursomeTuesday

In 2011,  I took my first trip to Charleston, South Carolina and immediately fell in love with the city.

Now, in the aftermath of the snowstorm that hit the Southern United States, and drove temperatures in Charleston down to record levels, Charleston is on my mind.  I had come close to visiting it this month, but it never happened.

But back to 2011...

In that visit we had a wonderful location and easy access (an easy walk down the narrow sidewalks of the historic Ansonborough neighborhood where we stayed) to the Charleston City Market.


The Market consists of several open buildings in a four block area. These are the entrances to two of the buildings, as they appeared in 2011.  If you had watched coverage of the Charleston snowstorm, you saw this market.
The Market (at least, when we visited in March of 2011 and 2014) is not primarily a "farmers market" and not all the goods are locally produced, either.  But we had a wonderful time talking and interacting with some of the local artists, and went back several times.

One product that is local, and a revival of a historic heirloom food, is Carolina Gold Rice.

What we bought was grown locally and distributed through Charleston Specialty Foods. The distinctive yellow cloth bags packages of this rice are sold by several vendors at the market, and also are for sale at various historical venues throughout the Charleston area.  As the bag explains:

"In 1685, a distressed merchant ship paid for repairs in Charleston with a small quantity of rice seed from Madagascar.  Dr. Henry Woodward planted the seed in South Carolina, beginning the state's 200 year history as the leading rice producer in the United States."

So why should you pay a lot more for an heirloom variety of rice than the plain old (I won't mention any brand names) stuff you find on the supermarket shelves?

For various reasons, including the freeing of enslaved populations whose labor had permitted the cultivation of rice, rice farming had slowed in the South Carolina low country. The Carolina Gold Rice Foundation is attempting a comeback for this rice, and as the bag also explains "We are proud to be South Carolina's first product made with Green-e Certified Renewable Energy."

So how can you go wrong?  In one swoop you encourage the production of heritage foodstuffs, and support renewable energy and sustainable agriculture.

The rice can be ordered online and they ship on - why not? Tuesdays. (I just offer this for information; I am not receiving any compensation for this.)

So, how does it taste?  And what is the rice like?

I would judge it as medium grain.

It's definitely distinctive, and delicious.   Spouse (our family cook) made a pilaf with it.  It came out fluffy, and nice.  To me, it also tastes like butter was already added to it.

And the best part? One of my cousins in my recent Florida visit had tasted Carolina Gold Rice and had much the same opinion.

I think South Carolina has a winner here.


Join Bellybytes at Mumbai on a High and Shilpa Gupte at Metanoia for their linky party at #FlavoursomeTuesdays. If you want to share a food related memory, why not join us?