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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Mac and Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese.  Do you?

I thought, on the eve of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I would keep it lighthearted, because I have a bunch of blog posts to try to plan out. 

I had gone out, and we (after a 64 degree day yesterday) had snow flurries.  What?  sometimes I just don't like upstate New York.  Snow, it's time to go.  Cancel the comeback tour.

With our suddenly cold weather, it's time for Mac and Cheese!  Would you believe our local Wegmans supermarket now has a mac and cheese bar?  It even included truffle mac and cheese.  Now, that's living. (No, I didn't buy any - see below).

Does anyone remember the Macaroni and Cheese song from VeggieTales?  VeggieTales was big when my son was growing up.

Now that I'm on Weight Watchers, I have to find a good mac and cheese recipe that really works for me, pointwise.  I may try something with silken tofu (?) or almond milk and low fat cheese.  I'm sure there is a good recipe out there. If it's that good maybe I'll even blog about it after April is over.

Finally, I'm hoping you join me for a month of blogging on the theme of Finding America Through Photos.  Tomorrow I start with "A", Tuesday is "B", and Wednesday...well, you get it.  And so on through the alphabet except on Sundays.

Until then, I'm dreaming of mac and cheese.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Stretching Awakening and Dreaming

Nature is stretching and awakening.  Plants have been dormant these last few months, as snow covered the ground, and chill winds blew.  Some days it seemed that spring would never come.

Flowers and green were a distant memory, even as the sun set earlier and earlier, and clouds covered the sky day after day.

But then the sunrises got earlier and earlier.  The birds started to sing.  We saw our first robin.  This week, we've seen our first crocuses on exercise walks.

We aren't out of the possibility of snow yet.  Maybe tomorrow (a storm is coming), but I am hoping we are done.

Today, it's in the 60's, the birds are singing and flying, the native trees are starting to bloom.  Garlic from years ago that reseeded is coming up in my yard.
My white Lenten Rose is blooming.

I have my first yard wildflower blooming - henbit.

Some of my perennials are coming back   Two "extra winter" hardy pansies we planted last fall have survived the winter, and are putting on growth.

We took an inventory of outdoor plants that made it inside, and those that didn't make it   Our oldest rosemary (rosemaries have to be overwintered in our zone 5 climate, an it can be hard to keep them indoors) didn't make it, but I have two hanging baskets of geraniums that did.  Soon, I'll be able to put them outside on sunny days (which this isn't.)

Alas, our April Rose camilla, the plant we hoped we could grow outside its zone, is ailing.

On a brighter side, our primroses are coming up. 

We have leaves from last year (left there to protect some of our plantings) and it's just about time to remove them.  

An early daffodil has a bud.  Many others haven't broken ground, but they will.  We have a tulip starting to come up.

It's nice to dream of the cold hardy greens we will soon plant in a raised bed (most of our gardening is done in a community garden plot, which won't be opened until sometime in May.)

So, in the midst of all this - a bird pooped on me.

I didn't mind - much.  My clothes are machine washable and Mr. or Ms. Bird just missed my laptop.

But it is a wonderful thing to know that I survived another upstate New York winter - one not quite as harsh as some, but they do get harder and harder.

Oh, when spring comes, it feels so good.  April is almost here.

Join me, starting Monday, for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  My theme this year is Finding America Through Photos. 

I hope you will join me and over a thousand other bloggers, as we celebrate renewal.  And hope.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Golden Day #SkywatchFriday

Ah, spring.
Sunrise 3-28-19 near Johnson City, New York

The day begins with a golden sunrise.
Broome County Library Garden, 3-28-19

At lunch, I see crocus in a Binghamton library garden.

A spring day ends with a golden sunset.

For the month of April, I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge but I will continue to watch the sky and participate in Skywatch.  I hope to see you each Friday in April (and beyond).

Join Yogi and other skywatchers each Friday for another edition of #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Beauty in the Ruins #ThursdayTreeLove

I am so excited - I've seen the first bulb in bloom (not on my land, alas) in my area of upstate New York.

Spring is here!  The squill is blooming in Binghamton.

The trees are breaking their dormancy.  We don't have bud break yet, but the sap is definitely running.

What you see here is what I think is a yellow twig dogwood (Cornus stolonifera).  I took this picture Sunday at Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers, New York.  Once called Greystone, this site (now a City of Yonkers park) is a garden that was once one of the most admired gardens in the United States but had fallen into ruins since the death of its last owner in 1940.  It is now slowly being restored.

Isn't it beautiful how this small tree glows in the early spring?

On "U' Day on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I will be blogging more about Untermyer Gardens.

The message of this tree?  "Never give up hope" and "never judge a book by its cover". 

We donated some money before we left, so that we could do our little part in the renovation of Untermyer Gardens.   It is an amazing place.

Join Parul and other bloggers who blog about their favorite trees on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Spring Iris #WordlessWednesday

Spring is here!
Untermyer Gardens, Yonkers, NY
After the long winter, the hope of warm weather once again is fufilled.  Nature is awakening after months of dormancy.  Or, at least it is here about 180 miles (289 km) from where I live.

I believe this is an Iris Reticulata, one of the early spring bulbs that will naturalize.  I will blog more about Untermyer Gardens during the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Join Esha, the Skygirl, and Natasha each Wednesday for #WordlessWednesday.


New to #WordlessWednesday but would like to participate? Well, here’s how you can join Natasha and Esha Just follow our three easy steps:
  1. Post a picture on your blog that speaks for itself. It could be from your adventures, experiments, life’s quirky moments, travels or just plain random shots. Or absolutely anything that stoked your being. Or made you think.
  2. Add our badge to your post and add a backlink to our posts.
  3. We’d love it if you read, comment and share all the posts linked at Esha and Natasha's sites.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Don't Let Time Slip Away The Conclusion

Back in February, I blogged about how, in 2015, after many years, a cousin on my mother's side found me online.  I had lost contact with my mother's side of the family back in the 1970's.

It turned out that a first cousin on my mother's side, who is nearly 90 years ago, had been trying to find me.   The cousin who found me was his daughter, who has been building a family tree.

After some emails, I lost touch again, and it was totally my fault due to caregiving taking up all my mental time and energy.  But then, it was over.

In February, I took a deep breath, hoping against hope that my first cousin was still alive.  He was.  He still wanted to meet me.

We thought the spring would be a good time, but a couple of weeks ago, we decided it was now or never.  The time was good for them, too.

On Sunday, my spouse and  I met my first cousin, his wife, and the cousin who had found me, along with her husband, and their teen aged daughter, in their downstate New York suburban home.

We had lunch together after looking through a photo album.

I was so nervous, so incredibly nervous.  What if they didn't like me?  What if?  It had been over forty years, after all, since I had talked to any of my mother's side.

Well, I shouldn't have worried.

I found out some things about my mother's family, both good and bad - just like in any other family.  Here's a story about that (not my family)  As it turns out, my first cousin and his wife have both had their DNA tested.  So now, there's that thought - should I?

Perhaps after the April Blogging From A to Z Challenge, I'll blog more.  But one thing that doesn't surprise me - my cousins are readers.  Avid, avid readers.

Why am I not surprised?

We had to leave to go home (about a three and a half hour drive) finally, but we could have stayed and laughed for hours.  They told me "come back anytime!"




But I know so well that the clock is ticking.   Ticking, ticking and we live three and a half hours from each other.  It reminds me of this song, Driftwood, by the Moody Blues, and this portion of the lyrics:

"Time waits for no one at all/No, not even you...."


Monday, March 25, 2019

Wishing in the Twilight Zone #MusicMovesMe

It's time for another episode of my favorite thing to do on Mondays - #MusicMovesMe.

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only on this music train, please!)   First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-conductors are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice,  and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   Also, co-conducting  is  Cathy from Curious as a Cathy .  Last but not least, there's - (said humbly) me. One more note:  This is a music blog only - please bring your music so we can dance with you.  No music, no dance!


I had promised some posts featuring female singers.  I am going to deviate from that a little (I'll explain more later in the week.)  There's a theme of sorts here but it's personal.

 I'd like to start with a Peaches and Herb song - Reunited .

Mother and Child Reunion - Paul Simon

I had to take a trip this past weekend (more on that later this week, too) and these were several of the songs that the radio stations on Sirius XM played during the trip.  From 1982, Red Skies at Night by the Fixx.

Wishing (I Had a Photograph of You), from 1982, by A Flock of Seagulls.  This is an extended version I had never heard when this song was first released.
Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (also an extended version).

Next Monday the Blogging from A to Z Challenge begins, and I will be also posting music posts every Monday in addition to doing this challenge.  I'm way behind in posts (as in "haven't written any yet") and my new computer has run into some snags so we'll just have to see what the next few weeks bring.

So "see" you again next Monday - same time, same place!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Going To the Dark Side (Of Maple Syrup)

I first blogged this in 2014 and repeating (with some updates) because maple syrup season is here.

Maple Weekend is coming to upstate New York - this weekend and next weekend.

I am fortunate to live in maple syrup country, because, for me, nothing else will ever touch my pancakes.  Of all maple syrup, I think the best is that produced using wood fired evaporators.  They give a special taste that just can't be duplicated.

We still have at least one producer who makes syrup that way.

Making maple syrup is an art.  There is a brief period of time at the end of winter when maple trees start to wake from their winter hibernation. Sap, clear and not very sweet at all, starts to flow.  The days must be above freezing and, preferably, sunny.  The nights must be below freezing.  These conditions produce a push-pull condition in the trees, causing the sap to flow.  Producers tap the trees, attach a bucket (involving judgement as to how many taps a tree can support) and collect the sap through tubes that lead to the processing house.

Some people drink the sap for health reasons.  I've sampled it and it isn't much different from water.  The magic comes later, after the evaporation process.  And, it's quite a process, with 40 parts of maple sap needed for one part of maple syrup.  That's a lot of sap, and a lot of heat source needed.  And all of that takes money and a continued investment on the part of the maple syrup producer.

The season lasts about 4-6 weeks.  When the trees start to bud, or temperatures remain above freezing, the sap turns bitter and the season is over.

At the beginning of the season, the sap produces a light syrup which is the most expensive to buy. Toward the end of the season, you get darker syrup.  In our part of upstate New York, we prefer the darker syrup for our pancakes.  In maple syrup, you want to go to the dark side.

I took these pictures in 2014 at Bush's Syrup House in Harpersville, New York (Travel tip:  it's not that far from where April the Giraffe lives at Animal Adventure - too bad Animal Adventure doesn't open until May.)  The day I visited in 2014, Bush's was producing dark syrup but it wasn't yet bottled or available for sale.


This is the barn with the evaporator.
The wood fired evaporator.
The syrup tank.

A display of maple candy molds and old fashioned taps (some dating from the 1700's).

After our look around, we walked into the sugar house to buy some syrup.  You may blanch at the price maple syrup goes for.  But, consider the amount of work that goes into the production of maple syrup.

Can you make maple syrup at home, as one of my wonderful readers wondered the other day?  Yes! (if you have the right kind of trees, that is.)  I worked with someone, years ago, whose husband  made syrup and, one year, offered it to sale. He totally sold out to his wife's co workers, including me.  I've never had better syrup before or since.  Just don't try the boiling in your kitchen - you will ruin your wallpaper.

With more people interested in natural sweeteners, more people may, despite the cost, be searching for real maple syrup.

If you are, why not consider New York State syrup?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Celebrating The Oldest Former President Jimmy Carter

Here is a post I wrote on Jimmy Carter in 2010, when I visited his birthplace in Georgia.  Yesterday, Jimmy Carter became our longest lived President.

He still lives outside Americus, Georgia in a modest house on a family compound.  He still teaches Sunday School and visitors can come and participate in the class.  (If you do, unpaid plug, you might want to consider this wonderful Bed and Breakfast.

More recently (2015), Carter has been treated for melanoma that spread into his brain. He also has an extensive history of pancreatic cancer, the cancer that Jeopardy host Alex Trebek is receiving treatment for. 


They called him....

The Peanut President

Jimmy Carter has always fascinated me.  He came seemingly out of nowhere, seemed to have what it took to be President, but once he got into office he never succeeded.  Yet, in private life, he has succeeded beyond what may have been his wildest dreams.

What in his upbringing, what in his childhood values, what in his education made this man?

And why has this area of Georgia grown organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and others?  What here was so special?

We are visiting the Americus/Plains area to find out. In this blog entry I am concentrating on Jimmy Carter the man.

This is the house that Jimmy Carter grew up in.


Jimmy Carter grew up outside of Plains, GA in a solidly middle class family.  The actual town, which no longer exists, was called Archery.  The realities of rural life in those days created a childhood of lots of hard physical labor.  His father, loving as he was, did not believe in keeping anything on the farm that did not "pay its own way".   And this was hard farming, although the Carters were rich enough to have tenant farmers.  Still, Jimmy worked side by side with area black farmers, performing distasteful chores such as "mopping cotton".

"Miss Lillian", Jimmy's mother, was a nurse who did not turn anyone away, black or white.

Jimmy's father encouraged Jimmy to work and play alongside of the local black farmers.

The Carters grew cotton, peanuts, and sugar cane.  Student farmers still raise these crops at the homestead today.  They kept goats for meat, and mules to plow the fields.

In this windmill, is the germ of using "alternate energy".  There is nothing new about windpower.


The Plains High School the Carters attended has been closed (as part of consolidating various school districts).  This is a classroom set up the way it would have looked for Jimmy Carter in the 7th grade. Like so many famous people, Jimmy Carter credits a high school teacher, Miss Julia Coleman, as another great influence on his life.  In 1940 Eleanor Roosevelt invited her to the White House to honor her.  I highly recommend reading about her life.


 This is the outside of the high school.

Plains was the "Big City" for Jimmy Carter.  This is what it looks like today:

Jimmy Carter lives just outside of Plains today, and when he is in town, teaches Sunday School at his church.  This is Jimmy Carter's "Church Home".

When we had first planned our trip, Mr. Carter was not supposed to be in town but this has since changed. We weren't able to change our plans but it certainly would have been interesting.

So, Mr. Carter - we wish you many years of quality life to come.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Sun Rises #SkywatchFriday

It's the first Friday of Spring, 2019, and we may get a snowstorm.  Even if it's rain, it's still going to be nasty.  It's been raining since yesterday afternoon and is raining now.

Still, the birds were singing.  I should learn from them.


Fortunately, on March 13 we had a nice sunrise.

The one on March 14 wasn't too bad, either.

And even the last sunrise of Winter 2018-19 wasn't all that bad.

Now, any day now, it will be True Spring in the Binghamton area of New York.

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

Tomorrow, a blog post about President Jimmy Carter, who today became the longest lived President in our history.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Sighs of Spring

Yes - that wasn't a typo.  "Sighs of Spring".

We want winter to be so over.  But winter is going to be around for a while over.

We may have a winter storm on the way where I live in the Southern Tier of upstate New York on the way.  We are already under a winter storm watch.  Nothing like a March storm - I dread them more than winter storms. These storms can bring feet of wet, gloppy snow that brings tree downs.

Meanwhile, there are flood warning in 15 states.  Weather gone wild?  Can anyone deny something bad is happening with our weather? 

Meanwhile, some years, we still have lots of snow on the ground, but not this year. Still, there isn't much blooming.  There aren't signs of any bulbs coming up in my front yard yet.  On the side, there have been daffodils peeking through the soil for the last month or so, but they are stuck in neutral.

But my good news is I have outdoor flowers.  My white Lenten Rose has just opened blooms that have been waiting to open since January.  Let's hope now that the flowers will survive if it snows.

Meanwhile, on my exercise walk, I saw this tree (not an ornamental) starting to bloom.  Hard to see but they are small red flowers up there.  And yet...a snow storm in the forecast.

Spring, where art thou?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Oh Spring Where Art Thou? #WordlessWednesday

The long wait is almost over in upstate New York.  Spring comes today at 5:58 pm. 

Almost all the snow has melted, although we had flurries Monday and Tuesday.

Sap is running in the trees.  It is leaking from the Norway Maple in our front yard, staining the passenger side of our car.  The tops of trees glow red.

A magnolia in downtown Binghamton waits patiently for the age old signal only plants can hear.

"Awaken.  It is time to bloom."

But not just yet.

(A final note:  my heart goes out to the people in the Heartland being affected by extensive flooding, having been through a flood myself.  I lived in that area briefly and used to have family in Iowa. )

Join Esha, the Skygirl, and Natasha each Wednesday for #WordlessWednesday.

New to #WordlessWednesday but would like to participate? Well, here’s how you can join Natasha and Esha Just follow our three easy steps:
  1. Post a picture on your blog that speaks for itself. It could be from your adventures, experiments, life’s quirky moments, travels or just plain random shots. Or absolutely anything that stoked your being. Or made you think.
  2. Add our badge to your post and add a backlink to our posts.
  3. We’d love it if you read, comment and share all the posts linked at Esha and Natasha's sites.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Suddenly Unknown Address

Sunday night, I was (unexpectedly) online, ordering various computer parts.  My desktop had been giving me trouble for several months.  My son had done some temporary short term fixes, but, Saturday morning, I turned my computer on - and, several minutes later, the computer turned itself off.

Long story short, my computer, which dates from the big "Windows XP Support is Ending" era, died.  Son thinks it's the motherboard.  Because of its age, it isn't worth fixing.

So, there I was, ordering parts son would use to build me a new computer.

To my great surprise, two of the sites said the postal service could not validate my address.  That was news to me. I've lived at my current address for longer than some of my blog readers have been alive.  I do not live out in the country.  I am puzzled.

I found shippers such as UPS have "address validators" and, at least according to UPS, I exist.  That's reassuring- I think.  So, maybe I can face this upcoming April challenge with a new computer, if my address is indeed valid.

But why would my address become invalid?  That still is making me wonder.

There's one additional challenge,once I get my new computer - learning Windows 10, which I have never used.

It will keep my mind young, at least.

Are you participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge?


Monday, March 18, 2019

Blogging from A to Z Reveal

 (If you are looking for my Music Monday post, click here. )

The other day, my son called me a digital hoarder.   Yes, and I can blame blogging for some of it.

I started to blog in April of 2009 so, sometime during April's Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I will be marking my 10th anniversary in the blogging world.  Not only that, but the Blogging from A to Z Challenge is celebrating its 10th

My theme for this year took a lot of thought.   But, in scrolling through the over 8,000 photos on my iPhone (no, I'm not kidding, and I have an old iPhone with another couple of thousand) trying to find a photo of April the Giraffe, it came to me.

My theme for Blogging from A to Z 2019 is:  Finding America Through Photos.

I love blogging.  I love (amateur) photography. Since 2012, when I purchased my first iPhone, I've been to many places in the United States:  various parts of New York State, including New York City.  Florida (three times).  Virginia (several times).  North and South Carolina.  Georgia. Missouri.  Arkansas.  New Jersey.  Pennsylvania.  Maryland.

Wherever I go, I take pictures.  Not so much of people, but of things.  Quirky things.  Historic things.  Plants.  Birds.

Why not share some of those pictures with you?  I don't mean pictures of the normal tourist attractions.  (Ok, well, maybe a couple).  No, I find other things. 

What is going to be more interesting is that the motherboard on my desktop computer has gone bad, and guess where I had already put some of these photos, trying to get a head start. (Oh well. Just adds to the challenge.)  Hold breath that my laptop (which is over six years old) holds out.

I hope you will join me on this journey, starting April 1.
I'd love to have you join me.  In fact, why not comment below (with a link to your blog) if you plan to participate!

If you are new to A to Z and want a guide, an experienced blogger shares some hints with you. 

Here, you can see one of my "first of April" posts for the 2017 A to Z.
April the Giraffe (who is in the news again, just coincidentally)


By the way, it is not too late to sign up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  I hope to see you there on April 1.

March Musical Birthdays #MusicMovesMe

(If you are looking for my Blogging from A to Z Reveal post, I changed my mind about posting tomorrow - please click here).

It's time for another episode of my favorite thing to do on Mondays - #MusicMovesMe.

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only on this music train, please!)   First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-conductors are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice,  and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   Also, co-conducting  is  Cathy from Curious as a Cathy .  Last but not least, there's - (said humbly) me.
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Every other week, we are asked to blog about a musical theme.  The other weeks are free weeks. 

For the month of March, we have a guest conductor - Patrick Weseman.  Today, he asks us to blog about musicians born in the month of March.

There's quite a selection of March musicians, it turns out.

Lady Gaga (March 28, 1986) has become a giant of the music world.  I am partial to "Born This Way" (warning, possible disturbing images.  The song itself starts about 3 minutes into the video.)

I remember Carrie Underwood (March 10, 1983) from her American Idol days, when it was obvious she would be a star, and she is.  I decided to go with "Smoke Break".  I nearly picked "Jesus, Take the Wheel" but I had heard this on another music blog several days ago, and immediately fell in love with it.


James Taylor (March 12, 1948) with Fire and Rain.  My favorite of his songs is The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald but I've found that people either love or detest that song. Oh well, thank you for readers who corrected me (sorry, Gordon Lightfoot!) but at least I posted a real James Taylor song!

 Diana Ross (March 26, 1944) with a live performance of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" in 1979.  Picking a song from her extensive career is nearly impossible.

Last but not least: Steven Tyler (March 26, 1948) of Aerosmith.  Hmm, which one of their many hits should I pick?
I'm picking "Dream On" from 1973 which was written by Tyler.

Hurray for March!

Join me again next week for another episode of #MusicMovesMe.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Dream and a Giraffe

Two years ago, Animal Adventure Park near Harpursville, New York had a pregnant giraffe by the name of April.  Wanting to keep their fans updated as to the progress of her pregnancy, they installed a web cam in her stall.

Internet lightning struck.  April, as they like to say, went viral, and hundreds of thousands of people watched April give birth in - of course - April, of 2017.

It was a bit of a rocky road, this event that took everyone by surprise.  There are many people who oppose the concept of zoos.  But millions of others took April, Oliver, and the eventual baby - Tajiri - into their hearts.
Putting things in perspective - yes, April is that big
 I, so fortunate because I live only about 20 minutes away from Harpursville, was one of them. 

I even visited April, Oliver and Tajiri later that year.  But then, other things took precedence in my life.  April became a distant memory.

Life went on at Animal Adventure Park, though, and, with about 304,000 other people yesterday, April gave birth to a baby boy yesterday.  The labor was uneventful and mother and little baby giraffe boy bonded quickly.

So why should this matter?

Because the owner of Animal Adventure, Jordan Patch, was not an overnight success.  He started out with a dream and a camel by the name of Maxx.  This isn't Maxx, by the way - he died (from old age) a couple of weeks before my spouse and I visited.

When the Internet chose April to go viral, Jordan Patch saw an opportunity to help save the world's giraffes.  Giraffes are vulnerable to extinction.  Several species (yes, there is more than one giraffe species) have already gone extinct.  He used the publicity to raise money and awareness.

He has also raised awareness of the world of special needs (as my regular readers know, I have an autistic brother in law) through his young daughter, Ava.and their charity, Ava's Little Heroes.

In a perfect world, no animal should have to live in captivity and have their births live streamed on You Tube.  The animals at Animal Adventure, yes, should be roaming wild in a world where they never have to worry about climate change, or poachers or encroachment of humans on their territories.  But that is not our world.

I hope that one day, it can be.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

They Are Us

Who are we?  Angels?  Devils?  Who is to blame?  Should we be concerned about something that happened half a world away?


If they haven't come for you, yet, they will try, which is why we must treat what happened yesterday in New Zealand with the utmost attention.  Hatred knows no bounds.  This is not a movement of a few individuals.  The movement of hate towards "the other" is growing daily.

It's impossible to know the pain the people of Christchurch, New Zealand, are experiencing today, whether or not they were in the two mosques that were attacked, or members of the families, or friends, of the 49 killed for no other reason than being Muslims at prayer on a Friday.

All I can do is reach out, as a member of a community which, on April 3, 2009, faced its own horror - a mass shooting in a classroom for immigrants in our community, which left 14 dead.   We are coming up on the 10th anniversary of that shooting, which was not a terrorist attack, but, rather, was due to an immigrant who had received services there blaming the organization for his subsequent troubles.  But still.  The memories may fade, but they will never disappear.  I don't send thoughts and prayers.  I just send a few words, which will ripple and disappear in the sea that is the Internet.

I am also the member of a minority religion, one that these same terrorists would target without a moment's hesitation.

A year ago, I visited the mosque in Johnson City, New York during an open house.  It was a most interesting experience, one that I haven't blogged about yet, but I should.  It was quite informative.

Several things stood out, one of which I will mention today.

On a table were some educational pamphlets, free for the taking.  Most explained one or more facet of Islam.  The people were were asking questions, all (in my earshot) respectful, wanting to learn more about their neighbors.  But some of the pamphlets addressed the fear - the fear of the "other".

So, I thought of that when I heard the remarks of New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.  To paraphrase her, she said, of the victims.  “Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities—New Zealand is their home—they are us."

They are us.

This time, it was Muslims.  Just as, in our recent history of shootings or bombings in religious institutions carried out by domestic terrorists of the United States, it has been Jews, Sikhs, and even Christians targeted by a white supremacist.

I disagree strongly with Trump's belief that white nationalism is not a rising problem.

If you think you are immune because you are not a member of one of their targeted groups, guess again.  These people are us.  They can be our neighbors.  Our employers.  Our customers.

Will we welcome immigrants and "the other"? Or will we continue down the path we have embarked upon?

New Zealand is making its choice.  But what about the rest of the world, including us?


Friday, March 15, 2019

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day Ides of March and #SkywatchFriday

Today, a Skywatch Friday, hosted each Friday by Yogi has again collided with Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dream Gardens.

But why not?  Colors are to be celebrated, be they in the sky, or in flowers.   Skywatchers, enjoy my flowers - there are more sunrises to come at the end of this post.

Let's celebrate this colorful collision of memes.  Spring will be here in another week (well, to be exact, next Friday, March 21) and nature is already answering spring's call where I live near zone 5b Binghamton, New York.  To tide the skywatchers over, this sky, taken at sunrise yesterday.
This plant has been so patient.
I actually have outdoor flowers - two Lenten Roses, to be exact, have buds.  My white one, some years, blooms too early and is killed by returning winter weather.  This year, I hope we will see its blooms.

And then there is my reliable purple.

I can't remember what this is, but it is putting out buds.  I will kick myself when someone tells me.

Indoors, I am between Thanksgiving cactus blooms, but my one reliable Phalaenopsis orchid is reblooming still again.

A primrose I bought earlier in the winter had stopped blooming but now it's suddenly blooming again, to my delight.  Outside, in fact, I see primrose plants, but no bloom buds have shown up yet.

It got into the 60's today, and I took some of my overwintering plants out.  One was this two year old poinsettia.  It looks terrible, but look - it is trying to put out a white leaf!

As for the sunrises, I took this picture on March 13.

And one day later, almost to the minute, and at the exact same spot, the sun rose again.

If you enjoyed what I offer, come back next month for even more beauty, as I'll also be participating in Blogging from A to Z.  Garden Bloggers Bloom Day will fall on "M" day which is also my Monday music post.  So, stay tuned!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Path - #ThursdayTreeLove

(For my Pi Day post, click here).

On a sunny winter day in upstate New York, exercisers took to the Vestal Rail Trail to walk and enjoy the sun being out.

As the sun started to set, some walkers walked on the path, lined by snow, passing underneath a natural arch that some evergreen trees had created.  It was a natural finish line for those pursuing health in the cold weather.  Everyone a winner!

Spring is on its way.

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Pi Day - Pizza Rustica

Tomorrow, March 14, is Pi Day.  In the method Americans use write dates, tomorrow is 3-14 - the 14th day of March, and first three significant digits of the mathematical constant π.

I won't have this "Pi" tomorrow, but it would make a nice project for lovers of savory pies. (Pie - pi...get it?)

Pi Day has become a "thing" in the United States. In Wichita, Kansas, where the Pizza Hut chain started, many pizzerias are offering pies for $3.14 - way below what they would normally charge.

My offering for Pi Day:

Pizza Rustica is a savory meat and cheese pie traditionally served in Italian households for Easter and there are many variations.  Some put both sausage and ham into it.  Some will put hard boiled eggs into it.  Some people use a yeast dough for the shell, some a pie crust.  Back when I first published this, I used a store made pie crust, since I am not noted for my pie crust making abilities.

But, as my regular readers know, I am not much of a cook.  So I enlisted my spouse, the family cook, in what turned out to be a lot more of a project than we had bargained for.

This is the recipe I used for the pie.  Sorry, metric readers, you are on your own today.

Some of the ingredients
This is how it would have worked for anyone who knew what she was doing.

First, ingredient assembly.
1 package (2) store made pie crust - unwrap,  Line a 10 inch pie pan with one crust.  Prick dough with a fork.

Now the filling:
1 1/2 pounds cooked ham, diced
2 lb ricotta cheese (we used part skim)
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced
5 farm fresh eggs
1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian flat leaved parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated romano cheese

Method 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.


In a large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella.
Add eggs one at a time.  Beat with a wooden spoon. 

Add the other ingredients and stir well.  Now, pour your mixture into the pie pan and top with the second crust.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes in preheated oven, then lower the temperature to 325 and bake for about (well, read on).

Now, for what really happened.

I made the ricotta cheese mixture, after spouse chopped all the ingredients.

Then, I took the pie crust package out of the fridge and I unrolled the pie crust.  Or, I tried to.  It started to immediately crack and crumble.  I turned to my spouse. "It's all dry!" I cried. "We have to take it back to the store." (Experienced pie bakers, please don't laugh too loudly).

Spouse disagreed.  He read the directions.  "Take package out and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then roll out crust...". So what we ended up doing was putting the box on the stove top, nice and warm from the preheated oven.

That did the trick...sort of.

Then he looked at the bowl of ricotta cheese mixture I had prepared. He looked at the pie pan. He looked at the bowl of ricotta cheese mixture again. "That's never going to fit in that pie pan", he observed. "There is way too much."

He took out a springform pan and said "This will probably work".

So, after much fumbling and patching of holes, we (and it was "we") got the first pie crust in.  I poured in the mixture.  After more fumbling, got the top crust in.  Brushed it with egg mixture.  Put it in the oven, followed the directions.  The hour of baking ended.

It wasn't anywhere near ready.
So we ended up cooking this a lot more, until the crust was a bit past golden brown.

And it was delicious.  Really.

Just perfect for Pi Day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Faster than a Racecar

It was the mid 1990's, and I was sitting with my five year old son on a runway in Syracuse, New York, waiting for our flight to O'Hare Airport near Chicago to take off.  We were en route, my spouse, my son and I, to a family wedding in the Midwest.

My son had never flown before.  I wanted to make it as exciting as possible for my restless little boy, who would be cooped up in this metal tube full of people.  This was the age before smart phones, before the Internet had grabbed hold, before there was instant entertainment in the palm of your hand.

Now it was time to explain what would happen next.

"The plane is going to drive to a point on the runway and then stop.  Then it is going to accelerate really quick and take us up into the sky!" I exclaimed.  "At takeoff, we'll be going faster than a racecar!"

I tried my best to keep fear out of my voice.  There was one thing he didn't know as we sat there on the runway.  I'm scared of flying.

It wasn't always like this.  The first time I flew, in 1966 (I was 13) I loved it.  But several incidents over the years had made me, first, into a reluctant flyer, and later, someone who really didn't want to be up in the sky and managed not to be.  Fortunately, my job didn't require me to travel and we used a car for the majority of our vacation trips.  This time, though, time was at a premium and we had to fly.

We made the trip safely.  My son even got to visit the cockpit and got a pair of wings as a souvenir.

We flew one more trip, the following year, from Syracuse to California.  After that, neither he nor I had been on a plane since.  I had forgotten all about us ever traveling faster than a racecar.

Until the Sunday before last.

My son, now in his late 20's, was sent out to Chicago by his employer for training. The Sunday before last, he flew from Binghamton to Chicago by way of Detroit.

Obviously, since the mid 1990's, many things have changed.  One of those things is the ease in which you can track flights online.  Knowing an airline and flight number, you can find out the type of plane (his was an Airbus), the flight's status (on time? delayed? cancelled?), when they are boarding, when they are taxiing and the exact moment the flight takes off.  You can track the flight on a map, or read statistics giving the plane's speed and altitude.

So when my son texted me (good son!) to tell me he had arrived in Detroit, I decided to turn to the Internet and track him on the Detroit to Chicago leg on my laptop.  He had about a one hour layover.

That hour sped by.  The tracking website told me the hour and minute it was scheduled to take off.  I intended to track his plane's stats during the flight.  I was, as the saying goes, "geeking out". But then I remembered one more thing I needed to do.
Taken by my son

When the clock showed that it was time for takeoff, I remembered.

I whispered, just loud enough for my spouse to hear, "Faster than a racecar!"

Monday, March 11, 2019

Women in Music #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday.  It's time for another #MusicMovesMe. 

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only on this music train, please!)   First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-conductors are:  Callie of JAmerican Spice,  and ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥   Also, co-conducting  is  Cathy from Curious as a Cathy .  Last but not least, there's me.
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We are a musical group, so we would love you to join us - but if you want to join in, please bring some music, so we can get our dance shoes on and boogie with you!

Last week we celebrated International Women's Day.   So why not feature some songs sung, or written by, women? 

This first song, You Don't Own Me, was sung by Lesley Gore when she was only 17 years old.  Consider this:  this song was a hit in 1963, and if you think of it in that way, the lyrics are revolutionary. 

Carole King - singer, songwriter.  This may not be her best song, but I love the singing and the music both.  From 1975, Jazzman.

Carole King also wrote songs sung by many different artists.  This hit, One Fine Day, charted for the Chiffons in 1963.

Prepare to cry, listening to Dusty Springfield, sing still another Carole King song, Goin' Back.


My spouse suggested Laura Nyro.  My choice here would be "Dedicated to the One I Love", covered here by the Mamas and the Papas. sung by Laura Nyro, as there was a problem with the Mamas and Papas video.

Virginia Patterson Hensley (better known to us as Patsy Cline), was taken from us at the age of 30, in 1963.  Her loss was a great one.

Here is "Crazy", sung live on the Grand Ol' Opry.

Women  We are strong. We are talented.  And I could devote many, many more blogs to women in music.  Karen Carpenter, Patti Smith, Linda Ronstadt, Petula Clark (still active at age 86), and so many more deserve time in this blog.

Perhaps I should make this a series.

Come back on March 18, when I reveal my Blogging from A to Z theme, and bring music back to the #MusicMovesMe dance floor!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Will the Sunshine Protection Act Protect Us?

It's that time again.  Today, residents of all but a handful of states (Hawaii and Arizona) find themselves an hour ahead of themselves,   Groggily, we march into the week ahead bemoaning Daylight time.  Why do we need it?  Why do we do it?

Why? (I could also ask why we got up to 47 sunny degrees yesterday and then woke up this morning to snow on the ground, but that's a topic for another time.)
 Leonid and Friends rule!

And will Florida end up saving us from ourselves?

When I visited Florida (from my native New York City) for the first time in July of 1966, I was amazed to discover that Florida, in the same time zone as my native New York City, was an hour behind New York City time.

They were on year round standard time.  They didn't jump ahead an hour at the beginning of spring.  They had the same time year round.  What a concept!

On March 19, 1918 (so we are not quite at the 101th birthday of this thing), the United States adopted the Standard Time Act, enacting time zones and daylight time.

In 1919, daylight time was repealed.  100 years ago this year, we had our chance to escape becoming twice a year zombies.

But then, like the Terminator, daylight time returned.  Again and again, it has returned to the western world. 

Now, Florida, the same state that didn't have daylight time in July of 1966, is trying to save us from ourselves again.

Last year, Florida passed the "Sunshine Protection Act" but they couldn't enact it on the state level because of the Federal law.  So this time, three members of Congress from Florida are trying on the national level.  If passed and signed into law, our country would have year round Daylight Savings Time.


What do you think of springing ahead/falling back?  If we went to a year round time, how would you want to do it?

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Spring At Last?

The signs are subtle, where I live in the Southern Tier of New York.  But they are there.

Birds sing in the early morning, even when the temperature is seven above zero F. (-14C)

Tree tops glow as the sap rises this sunny morning.

Bulbs are starting to come up, although they won't bloom for a while yet.

True, snow still has its hold in my front yard, although last year's sedum flowers provide their own type of color.

But one of my Lenten Roses has been trying to bloom, and maybe it will get its chance, finally.

One day it won't be subtle anymore.  Spring will be here. For good.  Maybe.

It can't come soon enough for many of us.

Speaking of spring, remember our clocks "spring ahead" at 2am tomorrow. Will you mourn that "lost" hour?

Friday, March 8, 2019

Winter Time to Leave #SkywatchFriday

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

Ice on the river.

Snow (that's not fog; it's snow)

Record highs (that white is water going over a dam).

Reflections and a clear blue sky.

We are waiting for spring.  Waiting....so impatiently waiting.  The birds are singing.  The willows are turning yellowish.  Some buds are visible on trees in my neighborhood.

We do love New York, don't we?  Yes, our classic cloudy overcast winter sky and all.

If you want to see other bloggers and their observations of the sky (and you know you do), visit Yogi's #SkywatchFriday.