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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Throwback Thursday - A Key to Binghamton's Future?

I blogged this in 2010 after a visit to Macon, Georgia.  Why did we travel  over 800 miles from near Binghamton, New York to Macon?  And what does this has to do with a possible urban renewal in nearby Johnson City, New York.

Short answer:  Flowers.  Read now about Macon, and come back this weekend to read more about what Johnson City, New York is attempting to do.

Now, my spring, 2010 post with some editing:
I think even boosters of Macon, Georgia will admit that their urban renewal efforts have not all worked.  Walking around downtown, we passed many boarded up businesses.  Some blocks looked less than exciting.  But while we were there, thousands of people poured into Macon to celebrate -cherry blossoms.  Two city parks were jammed with people.  There was an awesome arts and crafts festival in Third Street Park that we spent hours in.

And Macon was beautiful.  In some neighborhoods, driving was like driving through clouds of pink and white blossoms.  Here are several tree pictures I took, which do not at all express the beauty of what we saw.  The first picture may be of a different cherry variety, not a Yoshino, but it was beautiful.



Yes, these are the same type of cherry tree that Washington, DC boasts.

So, how does this figure into a possible urban renewal for Binghamton?

Let's look first at Washington, DC, which has the more famous festival.  It is estimated that the Washington, DC Cherry Blossom Festival brings in over 126 million dollars to the area.  It attracts an estimated 1 million visitors to the area, too.  Not bad.

Next, let's look at Macon.  Macon's population in 2010 was only around 93,000. (Binghamton's is around 47,000.) But, the 10 day long festival we just attended brought in a lot of people, too  And, last year, it also brought in an estimated 12 million dollars.  People come for the cherry blossoms and stay for many area attractions.

What makes the Macon festival ironic in a way is that it all started out with a mislabeled dogwood tree.  Macon is zone 8 (gardeners will know what that means) and a bit south for cherry trees.  But a local real estate developer (so the story goes), bought a mislabeled dogwood tree around 1947 and planted it.  Totally puzzled by what he got, he found out when he visited Washington, DC in 1952, saw their Yoshino cherry trees in bloom, and realized that was what he had purchased.

This man, Bill Fickling, saw a good thing and started propagating the trees-and one of the people he gave them to, in turn, talked to Mr. Fickling about planting them all over Macon.  He propagated them further and started giving them away.  So now Macon has about 300,000. of  these trees.  Some of the Macon trees have even ended up in Washington DC.

Bill Fickling, known as the "Founder", was honored at the 2010 Cherry Blossom festival with giveaways of cherry ice cream, Coca-Cola (a drink native to GEorgia) and cake.  Homeowners get into the spirit too, putting pink ribbons on their doors and even painting cherry blossoms onto store windows.  (And putting pink poodle ornaments on their lawns, but that is another story.)

So, should Binghamton have its own festival?  I say "yes"!

Binghamton could sure use that kind of money.

My question is simply this:  what if thousands of blooming trees were planted in and around downtown Binghamton?  And what if various festivals were held at the same time? And tours?

What if Binghamton offered tours of historic downtown buildings at the same time?  We certainly have them:  the Perry Building, the Security Mutual building, just to name two.

Flowering cherries may not be the best choice.  Although what I found in researching indicates they should grow in Binghamton's climate zone (zone 5) I have a feeling it may be a little iffy.  Although, we do have various flowering cherries here.

If not cherry trees, flowering crabapples may be another choice.  They come in both pink and white.  Cornell Extension could help to pick the correct tree or trees to use.

Our trees bloom later, so would not compete with either DC nor Macon.  We might be looking at a late April or early May date.

At the same time, tours could be given of various downtown historical buildings.  We don't have antebellum treasures like Macon, but we have our own treasures.  Examples downtown include the Security Mutual building, the Perry Building, and the Kilmer Building.

No, we don't have anything like Macon's Hays House, but we have Phelps Mansion, on the edge of downtown. 

We don't have St. Joseph's Church (another Macon landmark) but we do have Christ Episcopal, designed by the same man who designed Trinity Church in Manhattan.

In fact, we have trolleys here that can be used for tour purposes.  Just like they do in Macon.

July Fest, a downtown arts and crafts festival held in (yes) July, could be moved to early May and expanded.

We need to get people into downtown, and if flowering trees work for Washington DC and for Macon, Georgia, why not Binghamton?

Why not?  What is there to lose?

(In the near future - although Binghamton is finding its way back in 2018, nearby Johnson City languishes - but a farsighted businessman may have found a solution.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Lily of Valley #WordlessWednesday

The other day, my spouse and I were visiting my mother in law.

She told her son and me that she loved the scent of lily of the valley.

Yesterday, my spouse cut some of ours, put them in a small vase, and brought them to her.  She was so happy, bringing them to her nose and inhaling. 

Join Esha and other bloggers each Wednesday for #WordlessWednesday, where pictures speak for themselves.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Shades of Purple

Yesterday was the unofficial start of summer in upstate New York.  The pools are open, the carousels are running, and we even had a flower festival (more on that later in the week).

Today, I want to share with you some flowers from my yard.  After the seriousness of Memorial Day, it is time for a little lightness.  Spring has sped by so quickly, and we are transitioning into summer, it seems about 2 days after it stopped snowing. (It's been longer than that - maybe five weeks ago?)

My irises are blooming.
One of the hanging baskets I've made for this coming summer.  What is more cheery than yellow and purple?
Can you tell that I love purple flowers?
My Mother's Day basket in golden hour light.

And finally, henbit.  Yes, it's a weed, but in golden hour light, it looks so lovely.
Breathe deep...and destress.

Monday, May 28, 2018

In Memory Fields #MusicMovesMe

Today, on #MusicMovesMe, we can blog about anything we want.  For me, it's obvious.

My father was a disabled veteran of World War II, and Memorial Day brings back memories.

When I was growing up, people used to decorate the graves of war dead. Someone I work with shared a memory of her growing up in a small town near Binghamton, New York, where there would be a parade on Memorial Day and then people would throw lilacs into the river.

But now, it's time for some music.

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers?  We call ourselves 4Mers and this is who we are:

The Head 4M'er (Engineer) is XmasDolly.  Her co-conductors are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice, (who right now is doing on and off visits) and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   Also,  Cathy from Curious as a Cathy and Michelle from Michelle's Musings and MerrimentAnd, ahem...me.  

There is one piece of music for Memorial Day I want to share with you today.

"Taps" is a bugle call played on various military occasions, including becoming a standard at military burials. There are various theories of its origin, and how its name originated, but we do know it originated during the United States Civil War with Union troops, and spread into use by both sides in this war.

My summer camp used to play "Taps" when it was lights out for the campers (there were some military elements in the camp) and this song is wrapped up in many memories for me.)

Online, I also found this rewrite of the classic song "Halleluyah", honoring our veterans.

And finally, I grew up during the Vietnam War.  In honor of those I know who served there, Paul Hardcastle's "19".

I am not a "poetry person" (although there are a couple of poets I do enjoy) but this poem always touches my heart. Written by a Canadian soldier in 1915 upon the battle death of his friend in Flanders, Belgium, during World War I.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

Next week (no self promotion here) I am the guest conductor setting the theme - I hope you come back and enjoy what the 4Mers do with it.  See you then!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the United States.  I will blog more about Memorial Day tomorrow, during Music Moves Me.

This is a repost of a Memorial Day post from May 30, 2011, with some edits and updates.  I was talking to my now-adult son yesterday, and remembering this trip.  It brought back such memories:

In 2002, we were on our way from upstate New York in the United States to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We stopped off in Iowa City, where one of my aunts (now deceased) then lived.  It was the Memorial Day weekend.

Just after we crossed into the city limits, we passed a cemetery.  It was a blizzard of American flags.  I could not believe how many flags there were.  It showed that the residents of Iowa City had not completely forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day, a special day for residents of the United States.

In 2010, I blogged about a GI love story for Memorial Day.  This year, I'd like to talk some more about the origin of this holiday, which is tied up with our Civil War, 1861-1865.  It's strange in a way, when I write about the Civil War, because I had no ancestors in this country during the Civil War.  So I don't have any direct family links to this war.  Rather, my links come from being born and growing up in this country. 

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.  It was first observed in 1868 with laying of flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate troops at Arlington National Cemetery.  (as an aside, you may be interested in the origin of Arlington National Cemetery,  whose origin is also directly related to the Civil War.)

My home state, New York, was the first to adopt Decoration Day as a holiday.

After World War I, it became a holiday (Memorial Day) to honor the dead of all wars.

I can remember, growing up, when Memorial Day was observed on May 30, no matter what day of the week it was.  In 1971, I believe, it was changed to the current "last Monday in May" so that it could become part of several three day weekends being created.  Many people think that celebrating Memorial Day more as a "first day of summer" blowout beach/BBQ/shopping day has been recent, but apparently even in the early 20th century the day was already starting to drift away from its original meeting.

Another ceremony connected with this holiday is the playing of Taps.  Taps originated during the Civil War, composed by a member of the Army of the Potomac to serve as a "lights out" signal. Research I've done indicates that it didn't take long for Taps to be adopted by both Federal and Confederate armies.  It is so well suited to military burials that, again, its true origin is somewhat buried.

I am proud to say that my father was a disabled veteran of World War II.  Today, let us take a moment to honor the veterans of all wars, living and dead.  They are our living reminders that the price of freedom is sometimes a very steep one for those who pay it on our behalf.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Sustainable Saturday - Fiddlehead at the Farmers Market

Today, we made a quick trip to the Binghamton, New York farmers market on a day that turned out to be busy with more out of town visitors coming to see my elderly mother in law.

Spring has rushed by so quickly that I was surprised to see some of these veggies still available.

Fiddleheads are the sprouts of fiddlehead ferns.  In this stage they are edible, and some like them for a nutty taste they liken to a cross between asparagus and spinach, with a hint of mushrooms.  I admit to not liking them, but it's been years, and maybe I should try them again.

It surprises me, because I love asparagus.

And mushrooms.

And they were all being sold by the same vendor,side by side.

I love upstate New York at this time of year. The growing season has just begun, as we bask in warm weather.  The mountains are blanketed in trees with fresh leaves.  And there is so much promise in the air.

So much promise.

Spring has renewed us.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Small Treasures #SkywatchFriday

Some say skies without clouds make for uninteresting photos.

They may be right.

Nothing stunning here in upstate New York - just everyday "clear and so crisp you think the light will cut your eyes". Well, that and a white dot right above the trees - that is the moon.

While I am at it, how about some historic treasures of the small city where I work?
But if you want clouds, I'll give you clouds - and a dogwood next to a historic church, Christ Episcopal, in downtown Binghamton, New York (these pictures taken last week).

The church from afar.  This was designed by the same architect that designedTrinity Church in downtown New York City.  The building dates from 1858.
A historic block in downtown Binghamton, featuring the Press Building, now converted to student housing, and some buildings which are, alas, vacant.

Such as this historic building, the Strand.

Isn't it sad when treasures rot away?

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

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Horse Chestnut Part 2 #ThursdayTreeLove

In upstate New York, we have a beautiful tree called the horse chestnut.  It is in bloom now, and I posted a picture of some of their flowers yesterday for Wordless Wednesday.

A couple of my readers wanted more information so here you are.

First, a picture to give you some scale.  The horse chestnut in bloom is on the right.

And a closeup of a flower (from 2015).

Unlike some spring trees, the horse chestnuts don't flower until their leaves are grown out.  Flowers can be either whitish or pink.  This is one of the white varieties.

In the fall, the tree produces inedible nuts that children love to play games with.  One game, in particular, conkers, stretches back hundreds of years.  There's an entire tradition in Great Britain built around preparing and playing with your horse chestnut nut (conker).  My spouse played a variation of this game growing up near New York City.

What a lot of history rolled into one majestic tree.

But, what are horse chestnuts, exactly?

They are not native to our country, but rather, to the Balkins.  They were introduced into Great Britain in the 1600's.

One thing they are not is edible - in fact, the entire plant, including its chestnuts (in Europe, they are called "conkers") are mildly poisonous.  

Native Americans would make a mash of the nuts and use it to stun fish. They would then have to get rid of the toxins in the fish, but it was an effective way to kill the fish.

A couple of my readers wanted to know why they were called "horse chestnuts".

The nuts are edible for horses (and deer); perhaps that is why. Their scientific name is Aesculus (with about 15 species - I don't know which one I took a picture of but I suspect it is hippocastanum).  The trees have an interesting history.

As for conkers, my spouse, growing up near New York City, would play that game.  It was a favorite game at one time in Great Britain.  Now, alas, children entertain themselves in other ways.

Perhaps the cell phone-addicted children of today will grow up, and appreciate the majestic splendor of this tree.   But enjoy them fast.

In a day or two, these flowers will be gone for another year.

Do you have horse chestnuts where you live?

Join Parul Thakur and other bloggers who love trees for #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Horse Chestnut #WordlessWednesday

The horse chestnut tree is magificent.
And, right now, they are in full bloom in upstate New York.

Today I am joining Esha in #WordlessWednesday .  Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Throwback Thursday - The Ugly Stepsister of Cancer

This is a repeat of a post from 2016, with a lesson as fresh as today.

A former New York State Senator from our area passed away from prostate cancer.  He was 63.  He represented our area for years and was in the news for years.  A county official, meantime, has been battling lung cancer for several years.

In mid-April of 2016 a former co worker passed away, from breast cancer.

The rest of this post  is originally from May of 2014. And if I was to update it, it would contain even more sad news.

Since I blogged this, the person whose news caused her friend to break a lunch date with me passed away, as did the friend I gave the "Ugly Stepsister of Cancer" essay link to.  The person who broke the lunch date got her own cancer diagnosis in late 2014 (continuing NEC in April of 2018). And since then, a high school and college friend has battled breast cancer.

When will it ever end?  Certainly not today, and if you want to read more about male breast cancer, check out this post that starts out with a man who makes kettlecorn.

The Ugly Stepsister of Cancer (from 2014)

While I would love to blog about spring today, there is something going on that I need to blog about.

But first, a picture for my blog readers to enjoy.  In the language of flowers, hyacinth can mean consistency.  Or, it can mean "I'm sorry, please forgive me."
Last week, I got an email from someone I had a lunch date with.  She had been in communication with a woman she knew.  That person had "a cold that wouldn't quit." Finally, the person sought medical help.

It wasn't a cold.  It was lung cancer.  And before that woman could blink twice, she was being put into hospice care.  Her family called my friend and told her the woman was asking for her.

It was, needless to say, overwhelming. What do you do when you go to the doctor and find out you have something you never expected?  Well, my friend broke her date with me (good for her!) and went to her other friend - one who is suddenly making the acquaintance of the Ugly Stepsister of Cancer.

I decided to go to the library, now that I was without a lunch date. I found a wonderful book there, written by a local (well, from Ithaca, but Ithaca is only an hour from where I live in upstate New York) breast cancer survivor, called "When Your Life is Touched by Cancer". The author is Bob Riter. 

Yes, the author is male and is a breast cancer survivor.  Yes, men get breast cancer.  And, in fact, my spouse is at risk due to his family history.

There is one cancer that Bob Riter, who has worked with cancer patients as the executive director of The Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, calls "The Ugly Stepsister of Cancer".  It is lung cancer.

Lung cancer patients bear a burden no other cancer patients bear.  They find themselves required to explain their cancer, over and over.  "Do you smoke?"  "Did you smoke?" they are asked when they tell others of their cancer.

If no (which is the case of someone I know who has been battling lung cancer for over two years),  the patient has to explain that yes, some 15% of people who get lung cancer never smoked.

If yes - well, it's your fault.  No support for you!

Why, ever, would we EVER want to blame someone who has cancer for their cancer?  But my friend has been through this, and now my friend's friend will have go to through this, too.

Also, last Tuesday, I gave four trees to a work friend who lives out in the country to plant in honor of a late neighbor,who died while I was on vacation in April.  I can still remember the day he told me, matter of factly, that he had cancer, and how he was trying to make his peace with it.  (And no, I won't describe "his battle", because that's another thing Bob Riter talks about.)

Finally, last Tuesday, my mother in law found out that her cancerous tumor is dead, but she still needs testing to make sure the cancer didn't spread.  And, meanwhile, she has bills coming in.  She's elderly, she does not have boundless energy, and she asked us to help investigate some of the bills.  She seems to be falling through the cracks of help. Wrong cancer. Wrong place of residence.  Wrong wrong wrong.

Cancer has been on my mind a lot lately.  So what I did was....email Bob Riter.

And he emailed me back!

What a marvelous person, and the people of Ithaca, New York are so lucky to have him in their lives.

He gave me some starting points with which to help my mother in law.  And, he recommended that I give my friend with lung cancer a copy of the "Ugly Stepsister of Cancer" essay. He's generously posted it online for any of us to read. (To my friend,  I'm sending her the essay.)

If you have cancer, or have a loved one or friend with cancer, I highly recommend this book.  It is a treasure.  It covers so much, in simple language and in easy to read bites.  Bob Riter has thought of everything.  Well, everything but the line of Hallmark cards I'd REALLY like to see, but that's a blog post for another time.

And now, I hope I don't have to talk about cancer again for a long, long time. But, sadly, I know that is not going to happen.

The Nature Stories Around Us

Where I live in upstate New York, the students have left (well, most of them) for the summer.  But much remains.  In the morning, around 4:30 am, the birds start to sing and, for a half hour or so, the morning is theirs.  Their singing tells stories we humans will never know.

Then the sun rises on a walking trail called the Vestal Rail Trail that, years ago, was a railroad track.

Now, thousands of people walk, bike, roller skate or run on it.

This past Sunday, the trees were blooming,telling their own stories.

Sunday, the pink dogwoods were still in bloom.

Sadly, much of what you see blooming at this time of year are invasives, not native to this area.  Still, many of these blooms smell so nice, even as they choke out native vegetation.

Like this honeysuckle.  What story does it tell?
Or this honeysuckle.

Many enjoy the scent of the invasive Russian Olive, but I don't.  (And no, olives don't come from these trees.  One could wish, though.)

And finally, while not an invasive where I live, these black cherry trees have such sweet smelling blooms.  I understand, though, that they are now considered invasive in some parts of Europe.   I know the story this tree tells - those blooms are among my favorite.

I wonder how many people walk past these trees, intent on exercise, without stopping to smell the flowers, without pausing to learn their stories.

Stories, all around us, and too many of us are wrapped up in our own story.  Maybe that's not all a bad thing, but, on occasion, I just need to escape.  When I do, I'm thankful nature is there for me.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Remembering #MusicMovesMe

Today, on #MusicMovesMe, guest conductor John Holton of The Sound of One Hand Typing asks us to post songs of either remembering or forgetting.

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers?  We call ourselves 4Mers and this is who we are:

The Head 4M'er (Engineer) is XmasDolly.  Her co-conductors are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice, (who right now is doing on and off visits) and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   Also,  Cathy from Curious as a Cathy and Michelle from Michelle's Musings and MerrimentAnd, ahem...me.  

But before I begin, I am remembering the most inspirational moment I can remember in a long time - the sermon in the royal wedding Saturday given by the Reverend Michael Curry and the rendition of Ben E. King's Stand by Me that was such an inspiration to me.  

And now, what music is moving me today?

Remember (Walking in the Sand) - the Shangri-Las from 1964.

September When I First Met You -sung by the late, soulful, Barry White, from 1978.  I so remember that soulful voice.  White died at age 58 from kidney failure, waiting for a kidney transplant.

From 1985, Don't You (Forget about Me) - Simple Minds. Many remember this from the opening and closing credits of the movie "The Breakfast Club".  It was Simple Mind's first hit, and only #1 hit in the United States.

A song by one of the guests at the royal wedding Saturday - Sir Elton John singing a rewritten "Candle in the Wind" as "Goodbye English Rose" at the funeral of Prince Harry's mother, Princess Diana, in 1967.

Another Elton John song about remembering - Crocodile Rock.

I end on an upbeat note,  September - Earth, Wind and Fire.

Today, we should all remember the power of love "the redemptive power of love", in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  "Love is the only way".

See you next week for another Monday of music.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

And Again and Again and Again

The columbines in my yard are starting to open.  Once upon a time, they were just another pretty mid-spring flower.  Now, they have another meaning - the name of a high school where one of the first modern school shootings took place.  Now, these mass shootings have become epidemic.

Now, we face a crisis in our country - continuing gun violence. Day after day, month after month, the news reports roll in.  There are so many shootings that some barely get any news coverage.

We, the American people, have taken sides, and while we yell and posture at each other, the death toll mounts.  An elementary school massacre didn't resolve us to face the issue head on.  Several church massacres didn't. A nightclub shooting didn't.  Or a country music concert in Las Vegas.  Or....or...or.

We marched in Washington and it didn't help.

We gave everyone our thoughts and prayers, and then moved on, until the next mass shooting.

I speak as a resident of one of the many communities (Binghamton, New York) which has experienced this violence.

We tap dance around it. 


Our President is right when he says his responses, and our conversations, have become routine.  Everyone's response has become so predictable on both sides. More guns! Less guns! Fewer laws! More laws!  The guns were legal.  The guns were illegal.  The shooters were mentally ill.  The shooters were sane. The shooters were students. The shooters were Muslim.  The shooters were Christian. 

But, whatever is true, the people they killed are just as dead.  Their families are just as shattered.

How many more times will this article on the 28 deadliest mass shootings (yes, the Binghamton one appears on it) be updated before we come to a national consensus?

Or, will it be like the years leading up to the Civil War? We couldn't find a resolution to slavery, and we ended up with a terrible war, a terrible post war period, and echoes that still echo into our present day.  Will we be able to, finally, have an actual conversation, and actual, true action, to what is happening to our country?

Or will something so horrible, something none of us can now imagine, have to happen first?

Yes, I realize comparing gun violence to the United States Civil War is like comparing apples to oranges, or perhaps comparing a grape to a watermelon.  So let's think of these semi monthly massacres in a different way.

It is easy to think about terrorism.  It is us vs. them.  We are civilized.  They are pure evil.

But when it is us vs. us, it isn't so easy.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. You may or may not see it in whatever comments this blog piece produces.  (I don't expect agreement.  I do expect civility.)  When you look at the hate that similar posts on other blogs generates, it shows you how close to the edge we are - the edge of where people who speak out are demonized, and even have death threats directed against them.

Will Santa Fe, Texas be the tipping point?  Or are we still waiting?  Is this is how we will continue to define our country?

Our future as a united nation depends on it. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Non-Persistance of Memory

They got out of the vehicle and walked into the chapel.  "They" being Prince Phillip, 96, and Queen Elizabeth II, his wife, 92.

They weren't assisted. They walked without canes or walkers. They had their memories, and fully participated in the events of today.

We had a wonderful time watching the royal wedding this morning, even waking up early to see it.

Later in the day, we visited my mother in law, 90, along with two relatives visiting from out of town.  My mother in law is in rehab after three hospitalizations since the beginning of April. 

She can't get out of bed by herself.  She needs assistance for many of what are called, in the United States, the "Activities of Daily Living" (dressing, continence, feeding, transferring, bathing).

Mother's Day, last Sunday, was good for her.  She had shrimp Newburg for lunch, courtesy of the rehab place, and then an Ultimate Chocolate Cake we bought for her.  She wore a wrist corsage.   Her grandson was there.  All three of her sons were there.  Her two daughter in laws were there.

Today, she didn't remember any of it.

Tomorrow she may not remember the out of town company that spent several hours with us, or the other relatives she FaceTimed with on their iPad.

Watching Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth II made me wonder:  is it just us?

Does dementia exist in other countries?  Are people this infirm?  Is it a function of our environment?  Our relative inactivity?  Has "modern medicine" failed us?

But my mother in law was never inactive. 

At one time she was so sharp we joked that she was sharper than either of us.

The other day she sat in the sun and asked two of her sons if it was sunny.

Yesterday, she couldn't remember where her autistic son lived. 

She steers conversations to the past, talking about her honeymoon (in 1950) as if it was yesterday.

And it's only the beginning.

One day, we know, she won't recognize us.  Already, she has forgotten that I work, and wondered (one day when I visited her on my lunchtime) where I had gone.

Without memory, do we even exist anymore?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Rainbow Road #SkywatchFriday

After a storm in upstate New York on May 4, a rainbow appeared in the eastern sky right after sunset.

But there was more to come in the west.
That isn't a river in the bottom; it's the shining road.
The trees hadn't grown their leaves yet.

What a beautiful blue hour.
I published this photo last week as a teaser - here it is again.

The rainbow was long gone.  Fortunately this storm didn't do much damage, and I was able to appreciate the beauty of what came after.

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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

It Did Happen Tomorrow

My heart goes out to those in the Northeast United States without power, without roofs, without cars, and to the families who lost loved ones in the storm on Tuesday.  This includes the county where my spouse spent his teenaged years.  That county (Putnam) is under a state of emergency after being hit by two tornadoes.

There were even reports of tsunami-like waves off the coast of New Jersey.  I grew up in New York City.  I had never seen skies that looked like pictures of the New York City sky I saw on Facebook in my years of living there.

And then there was the deracho that hit our nation's capital and the nearby states.

They could easily make a movie called "Storms Gone Wild"  but it would be truth.

Years ago, the Weather Channel had a series called "It Could Happen Tomorrow".  Well, it's happened.  All over our country.  All over our world.

I shake my head at those who don't believe in "climate change", as if it was a belief and not a reality.  If we don't stop politicizing this issue, and face it head on, we are going to be in a lot of trouble.

Our trees and crops are suffering.  Farmers in this area were put behind in their planting.  And the growing season seems to be migrating - witness our April of constant cold weather and even snow.

But among the doom and gloom, May flowers still bloom.  Spring has rushed to catch up, and spring has caught up here in the Binghamton, New York area.
Crabapple on my street 5-15-18

Here's some proof.

Cherry tree.

And, on the West Side of Binghamton, what I think is a weeping redbud.

Nature.  So deadly.  And so beautiful.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Spring Things - Flowers (What Else)

I had so many flowers for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (the 15th of each month) that I had some extra photos of flowers in my yard to share with you, my dear readers.  Time to enjoy wordlessly....

Bleeding heart
Variegated Solomon's Seal
Happy Violas
Yellow Bleeding Heart
Vinca and Sweet Woodruff (the sweet woodruff has tiny white flowers that are hard to see)
Tomorrow, I promise, a break from the flowers.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day May 2018 Solidly Spring

May 15 in my zone 5b Binghamton, New York area garden.   Less than a month ago we were getting snow flurries and some overnight accumulations.  Now, it is solidly spring.  Although we've had cold days, we've also had days in the 80's.  Spring, in fact, is speeding by too fast.  With the heat, the blooms aren't lasting long.  I had a species tulip that literally lasted one day, just as an example.

This year, you won't see my crocus.  Or my bloodroot.  Or other early spring bulbs.  They are long gone.

In April I was trying to scratch out one or two flower photos and had to depend on houseplants.  Now, I am so inundated I have to make collages just to keep up. 

May I show you what's blooming in my yard and home this 15th of May, 2018?  Yes?  Because, once again, SPRING IS HERE! (Flourish of trumpets).

Cherry blossoms from a tree sapling I was given by a neighbor dying from cancer several years ago.  I will never forget him (he also gave me a redbud sapling that is at the end of its bloom)
This year, my son, who always gives me a hanging basket for Mother's Day, surprised me with a pansy basket after two years in a row of geranium baskets.
Euphorbia.
Variegated euphorbia.
This trillium has a story.  I bought it about four years ago and was told it would take several years to bloom.  Last year there was a little flower spike that didn't open. This year it was bigger and opened a little.  Next year?

Dead nettle
White bleeding heart (I also have red and yellow, but don't want to overwhelm you.

Yellow brunneria.

For bulbs, I've chosen collages.  My tulips are somewhat done but I still have some left.

Ditto for daffodils.

And even my houseplants are getting into the act (clockwise, Thanksgiving cactus, moth orchid and African violet).

I'll even have some flowers left over for tomorrow.

Now, would you do me a favor?  Go visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens and click the links to gardens from all over the world!