Sunday, June 30, 2019

RIP Luis Alvarez

Such a simple post to write about such a complex topic.

I don't understand how 9/11 can turn into a political football every several years, as first responders from the tragic events of September 11, 2001 must come to Congress and beg for continued funding for a fund that helps pay for their medical treatments.  This fund has to be renewed every few years.

Earlier this month, a man by the name of Luis Alvarez came and testified.  He was dying of colorectal cancer, having undergone 68 chemo treatments.  It is estimated some 50,000 people are or have suffered from exposure to 9/11 dust or chemicals.

Alvarez was a New York City policeman, at one time serving on their bomb squad.  Not only did he respond on 9/11 but he worked on a human chain of people, day after day, who tried to recover what was left of the dead.  I had connections to some of these dead, and I know some of my readers had a connection, too.

Alverez went into hospice care after his testimony.  He passed away yesterday at the age of 53.

Faithful unto death.

Rest in peace.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Sustainable Saturday - Still Doubleplusungood

In July of 2009 (the first year of my blog) I blogged about an incident where "disappeared" Kindle copies of the book 1984 by George Orwell.  This book, written in 1949 by the late George Orwell, was a warning against totalitarianism and the ability of governments to manipulate information.

In the world of 1984, there was no Internet.  But there were telescreens in each home that had to stay on constantly and they were two way - you watched them but Big Brother (yes, that was where that name came from) watched you, in turn.  There was constant emotional manipulation in a daily ceremony called the Two Minute Hate, where Party members had to watch a film about the Party's enemies and scream out their hate in a period of two minutes.

Constant surveillance.  Information manipulation.  Sound familiar?

Think about our modern world for a minute.  Websites and their contents can disappear or change in a minute.   We ponder these questions:  Are our virtual assistants, Siri and Alexa (among others) secretly listening to our conversations?  Recording our questions? (The answer to this last one, incidentally, is "yes" for both Siri and Alexa.)  Is there tracking software that can follow what we say on Facebook or Twitter, ready for the future use of a totalitarian leader?

I just read today that Microsoft is about to shut off its ebook DRM servers.  They are getting out of that business and the books ("protected" by a technology called DRM) will no longer work.

Customers will get refunds but - if books can be turned off, their readers can be monitored.

What does privacy mean anymore in our electronic world?  Or ownership?

Here's my post from 2009, with some edits:

Doubleplusungood, dudes

This gives me a bit of that Big Brother feeling.

For all of you lucky enough to study the book "1984" in high school back in the 1960's, there are certain things in this book that stuck with you forever. The present generation would not be impressed but this book was absolutely chilling in its depiction of a world where a dictatorship totally controlled all sources of information, complete with a Ministry of Truth whose bureaucrats labored to continuously revise all written records to reflect the current Party line. To control thought, a new language called Newspeak was introduced. Words and thought were so short in Newspeak that one could spit sentences out without giving a thought to what one was actually saying.

Of course, nowadays we manipulate photos with ease via programs such as Photoshop and can manipulate electronic records with just as much ease.

And, apparently, we can buy an electronic book and download into our Kindle, and Bi...I mean,, can take it back for whatever reason.

When's the last time your local bookstore knocked down your door to grab back a book you legally paid for?

How ironic (not that this is exactly not my original thought) that the book they "vanished" was....1984. (Along with another Orwell classic, "Animal Farm".)

For the record:
1. This was due to a copyright infringement issue, not censorship and
2. duly refunded monies paid to the customers affected.

However, when they sent emails with the refund notices, some customers claimed Amazon never bothered to explain what was going on.

 Can take stuff back whenever they want? Maybe we should just stick to the old fashioned books that clutter up the house?

If not Big-Brotherish, it is certainly creepy.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Tree Skies #SkywatchFriday

As summer moves spring aside here in upstate New York (and all through the Northern Hemisphere), the flowering trees are almost done.  And the rain has stopped, at least for now. replaced by heat.

Shall we look at skies and trees both, today?  It's so wonderful to see blue skies at last.

There are the catalpas. They are beatiful whether sunset is approaching...

...or the sun is still shining.

And then there is the basswood, or linden.  It has a sweet scent, and small, powerful blooms. Call this a linden sky.

Call this beauty.

The Korean lilacs are on their way out, with their sweet fragrance.  Let's say "goodbye, see you next year".  Even if the sky is barely visible.

Goodbye spring. Happy first Skywatch day of summer.

Join Yogi and the other bloggers who watch the sky each Friday for #skywatchFriday.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Catalpa Bloom Time #ThursdayTreeLove

I know I've blogged about catalpa trees before, but I love them so much.

Catalpa is a fast growing tree native to the United States. They can grow upwards of 40 to 60 feet tall and make a good shade tree.  It flowers where I live in late June - beautiful white flowers which make a mess for the homeowner who has to clean them up.  If you have to cut one down, they make (I understand) good lumber.

My guess is this species is the Northern catalpa, Catalpa speciosa.

After they bloom, they grow long "beans", which can be upwards of 20 inches (50 cm) long.  And guess what - in winter these beans are shed. Time for another cleanup.  You'll be cleaning for a long time, too, as these trees can live as long as 150 years.

I've read that the early pioneers used the beans medicinally.  They are not food.

If you think that means I don't love these trees, you would be wrong.  Such beauty.  The blooms are peaking now, and brighten up both urban streets and roadways.  Our walking rail trail even has a couple.

Joining Parul and other tree loving bloggers each second and fourth Thursday of the month with #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sweetness #WordlessWednesday

Walking on Grand Boulevard (yes, that is its name) in Binghamton, New York this afternoon, I inhaled the sweetness.

The linden trees are in full bloom.

Their small but powerful flowers are pumping out an intoxicating fragrance.  We walked in a world of scent.

If only I could share the fragrance with you.

What's happening in your corner of the world?

Join Esha and Natasha and link up with us, won't you?  Take a break from writing and share a picture or two with us.  I am also linking today with image-in-ing.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Camp Sussex 2019

For many years, it lay abandoned.  Now, I finally, after nine years, have an update.

It was located on County Road 565 in Sussex County, New Jersey.

In 2010 and several times since, I blogged about the summer camp where I spent some time for several summers as a pre teen and a teen.

 I grew up in a New York City housing project, and by the definition of a particular non profit, my family was considered poor.  So I was eligible to be sent to a sleep away camp in Sussex, New Jersey, which opened in 1924, and run by a Jewish Fresh Air Camp association (yes, I was a Fresh Air child - of sorts). Its attendees were "orphans and poor children".  Mel Brooks and Gabe Kaplan, among a handful of famous people, went to this camp.

We woke up to a recording of Reveille.  We had to make our bunks, clean our cubbies (shared with the camper next to us) and go through inspections.  At night we heard taps and then it was lights out. There was a separate house for showers, although we did have indoor bathrooms. 

On Friday night and Saturday mornings were religious services, and we said grace before meals.

Many walks through the woods introduced us to nature, and this city girl was in love with the country.

The camp closed in 2005, and had been extensively vandalized.  There were efforts through the years (according to Facebook posts) by camp alumni to raise money to open the camp again.

In researching this throwback, I found that the site was finally sold at auction in 2016 to a Korean group.

I wrote this in 2010:

I sometimes surf around Facebook and type in stuff from my past, just to see what comes up.

Today I decided to type in the name of my sleepaway camp.  It wasn't just any sleepaway camp.  You see, as a child of public housing growing up in the Bronx in the early 60's, the fact that my parents didn't own a car, plus their income, made me a disadvantaged urban youth.  Luckily, I didn't know that growing up and I wouldn't have cared.

Through a elementary school friend, I found out about a camp in northern New Jersey called Camp Sussex.  My friend went there.  She lived in a different housing project so was disadvantaged, too. Since she was going, I wanted to also.  Three weeks away from home.  It would be my first time away from home, at this camp for poor kids.  So poor, we weren't even expected to bring our own clothes.  The camp provided them.  The camp provided everything, including transportation from Manhattan.

I went to camp and a couple of things happened that first day.

First, my friend treated me like I didn't exist.

The second was, I was massively homesick.  I ended up in the infirmary overnight, as I had somehow worked myself into a fever.  Literally.

I was shown a lot of kindness there, and reported to my bunk first thing the next morning.  I never looked back.  I survived being snubbed by my "friend" and made other friends.

This camp was located in a then-rural area of northern NJ.  It was surrounded by beautiful hills.  There was a lake.  There were hiking trails (rumored to contain quicksand pits and lethal snakes).  There was the opportunity to put on a camp musical.  Every dinner, before the prayer (yes, there was a religious element to this camp) we sang "Be Kind to Your Web Footed Friends".  I still remember the words.  We woke up to "Reville", made our bunks, had an inspection, watched the American flag raise, and listened to "taps" at Lights Out.

Many of the camp counselors were college students.  I became friends with one in particular, who went to Bryn Mawr.  We wrote to each other for months after that session but lost touch.

I had my first crush at Camp Sussex, and my first "boyfriend".

Years later, my cousin married someone who had gone to Camp Sussex.  And at work, for several years, I sat feet from a former Camp Sussex counselor.  Problem was, she was born the last year I went.  So we didn't speak about it much.  I wish we had.

Anyway, I had known that the camp had never quite changed its mission, but had closed around 2005.  There were hopes to turn it into a sports camp, an "education through sports" camp.  Derek Jeter's father was somehow supposed to be involved.

Well, on Facebook, I found out, as Paul Harvey used to say, "The rest of the story".

The closed camp has been severely vandalized.   Over the years, the rural area had become urbanized and the local youth had their way with my summer camp.  The camp hadn't been secured, anyone could just walk in, and the police didn't seem to care too much. (in all fairness, I only know one side of the story.)  Bottom line, it would take over a million dollars just to get the camp fixed up enough to even begin about reopening.

There were pictures on Facebook showing the damage. (there's even a 3 minute short on You Tube documenting some of the damage.)  My heart broke, seeing those beautiful hills for the first time in over 40 years. And, on two Facebook sites, I saw discussions among some of over 400 people who belonged to a fraternity of former campers, counselors and even administrators.  They loved Camp Sussex.  I loved it in some ways, too, because it showed me there was a lot more to life than the streets of the Bronx.

Know what?  I wish I could find out how all of us "disadvantaged youth"of Camp Sussex turned out.  How many of us are professionals?   People who have made life better for others?And, for how many of us, did Camp Sussex make a difference?

I wish I didn't know about the vandalism, though.

So now, in 2019, an update.  I found this on Facebook, posted publicly:  renovations on at least one bunkhouse have started.  So it isn't being torn down, which makes me very happy, but from interior pictures someone took, this camp looks like it will be high end, not the basic army style cots (with surplus blankets) we campers slept under.

Right now the plan is to reopen the camp in 2020, and, supposedly, there will be a small museum (or, at least a plaque) commemorating the original Camp Sussex.

Maybe, at last, I can (one day) revisit an important part of my late childhood.

Monday, June 24, 2019

It's Summertime Summertime

It's the first Monday of summer, and it's time for some summer rockin' and rollin'!

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, whose birthday is coming up,   Her co-conductors are:   Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and (finally) me.  Callie of JAmerican Spice blogs from time to time. 

Our guest conductor is also the engineer of this train - Xmas Dolly and for our theme today she has picked:  "SUMMER SONGS (ABOUT THE SUMMER)".  Xmas Dolly has been offline for a number of reasons, but I'm hoping she's back today.

Summertime brings me back to my youth in the 50's and 60's, so these songs are the songs I associate with privet, with school out for the summer, hot days and summer in the city of my growing up, New York City.

Speaking of Summer in the City - the Lovin' Spoonful hit this exactly right.  Keep in mind, when this song was a hit (1966), most apartments and houses didn't have air conditioning, at least where I lived.

Summer's also the right time for Martha and the Vandellas and their 1964 hit Dancing in the Street. I could listen to this all day.

After some dancing, how about this beautiful instrumental to help restore you?  From 1959, Percy Faith and His Orchestra, with  Theme from A Summer Place.

Summer was also the time for doo-wop music, when singers would gather on city streetcorners and sing.  From 1958, One Summer Night by The Danleers.

In summertime, the living is easy.  Here, a doo-wop cover of George Gershwin's Summertime as done by the Marcels in 1961.

Another song I loved as a kid - Brian Hyland and Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini. A girl and a poor fashion choice - just think if they had Instagram back then.

From 1958, Summertime by The Jamies.

I could listen to these songs all day, but I'm sure we need to go somewhere.  So, one last song - an end of summer song from 1964 - Chad and Jeremy's A Summer Song.

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing.

See you next Monday - same time, same place.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Fellowship of the Flood - The New Normal

 Everyday, it seems, the news brings us news of more flooding.  Nebraska.  Oklahoma.  Arkansas.  The Philadelphia area.  Oswego, New York.  Uruguay.  Mexico.

More and more people are joining a fellowship they never wanted to belong to.
 In a blog post from 2011, I called that fellowship 'The Fellowship of the Flood'.  It's a club that you don't ever want to join.  Membership is automatic when you have experienced a flood.

The fellowship is millions strong, and growing daily.

But, for those who are members of the Fellowship, you know that the experience of being in a flood never leaves you completely.


To this day, when I hear heavy rain, I become anxious.  And, after a year of (so it seems) almost constant rain, I'm afraid.  Afraid that we'll get the knock at 2am telling us to evacuate.  Or, worse, having to be rescued from flood waters that rise so fast there is no escape.

There are two groups of people you can talk to about your flood experiences.

Those who know.

And those who can't imagine.

I can't imagine what these areas are going through, because I know just enough (from personal experience) to know that I can't imagine.  My flood was not their flood.

That's the first thing to admit.  You DON'T know what those in (fill in the blank) are going through, unless you are there.

In September of 2011, after widespread flooding impacted many areas of our state, New York,  I find (going through those posts) of my feeling of gratitude.  That may or may not surprise you.

It is hard to tell people how to support others who are going through a disaster of this magnitude, but just being there to listen is important.

Then, there are the things people should and shouldn't do if you are moved to help.

Right now it's the everyday things people n the flood zones need.  Clean drinking water.  A place to wash their clothes.  Oh, how I missed having a place to wash my clothes when my neighborhood flooded in September 2011. 

A place to feel human again.

You may find you need professional help to move on.  You should not hesitate to seek it.  Even a year later.  Even more than that later.  It's not weakness. (A confession here - I should have sought help.  PTSD is a real thing.)

For those not affected physically but want to help, this is my advice - be very careful, if you are moved to give for flood relief.  Be careful who you give to.  There are many scammers out there. 

With our changing climate, we must learn how to live with floods. No, I'm not getting political.  I'm realistic.

It's not going to get better.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Brown Park

I'm a little surprised I've never blogged about Brown Park in Binghamton, New York.

It's a small green place without facilities - it's too small.  It sits towards the beginning of Grand Boulevard, a shady, basswood lined street.  Some of the sidewalks aren't concrete, but huge slabs of shale.
At this time of year the basswood (aka linden) trees are blooming.

On one edge of Brown Park, wild roses bloom.

Brown Park isn't big at all.  In fact, you could imagine a house once stood on this property, with a smallish yard.

If you did, you would be right.  The reason it isn't there anymore is tragic.  Between two benches, you will find a small marker commemorating the deaths of part of a family in a fire in 2006.  There was a mother, age 38, and three children, aged 16, 15 and 10, who died in the fire.  The father and another child escaped.

The cause of the fire was never discovered, as far as I know.

There are no words.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Peek-A-Boo Sunset #SkywatchFriday

Today is the first day of summer and the last day of spring.    And, no doubt, it will rain.

So much flooding to the north of us - I have to think, when will it be our turn?

On June 18, I had a distraction.  The weather had been rainy (surprise) but in late afternoon it cleared up.

I was so tired - as much as I love late spring sunsets, their arrival usually sees me pretty tired - but I went outside anyway.  I stayed near my house.

Trees partially blocked the view but that was OK.
I walked a little further to the west.

Still further, wishing I could escape the power lines.

And then back to the trees, where I got one more peek-a-boo view.

Well, maybe two.

Want more?  Join Yogi and the other bloggers who watch the sky each Friday on #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Living Memories - Privet 2019

The privet is blooming.

To me, the scent of privet is summer, distilled.  It is the flower scent I remember the most from growing up in the Bronx in the 1950's and 1960's.

It seems to have become a tradition of sorts for me to blog about privet at the end of spring or the beginning of summer, so why mess with that theme?  Today, after all, is the last full day of spring.

I learned, recently, that privet is considered invasive in the southeastern United States.  But not here - not yet, anyway.

Here's a post from 2015, which incorporates a post from 2014.  In memory, I can visit my late mother in law's house - she sold it in 2015 and passed away last November - and, perhaps, sniff the privet one last time.  The neighbor I speak about is still there,though - one day I hope to go down and visit her.

The Last Full Day of Spring (2015)

Last weekend, we visited my mother in law's house.  The privet hedges were blooming, and the heady fragrance lay heavy in the warm, humid air.

Saturday night, my mother in law's next door neighbor came over to visit.  She let me look at her Facebook page and I saw something amazing - she went to my local high school, back in the Bronx.

We exchanged notes and I remembered we grew up less than 1/2 mile, and 20 years, apart.  But I never knew she had gone to my junior high school, or my local high school.  (I didn't go to my local high school, but I learned to swim in its pool, the pool she remembered so well.)

Ah, childhood memories.

Today is the last full day of spring, and I want to bring you back perhaps 60 years (OK, a teeny bit less than 60 years) for a special memory brought back by the scent of the old fashioned privet hedges in front of my mother in law's house.  This is a post I wrote after a different visit to her house some years ago:

Privet and Bees, Scent and Memory (2014)

I grew up in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, in a city housing project.  All green spaces in the project were carefully fenced away behind chain link fences.  We children would get into trouble with the maintenance men who cared for the project if we climbed the fences and dared to play in the greenery.  So, of course, we did it as often as possible.

It's a scent I love to this day.

The boys would catch the bees in glass jars.  That's not something we girls really got into.  Instead, we would look for ladybugs to catch.

Yesterday, I visited my mother in law, who lives in a suburb of New York City.

It was warm, and humid, and privet hedges were blooming in front of her house.

They were swarming with bees.

The heady scent brought me back over 50 years in a matter of seconds.  I was a little girl once again, climbing chain link fences while we looked out for the project maintenance men, so my playmates and I could have a few minutes of interaction with nature.

Scent and memory. A living time machine.

Has scent ever brought you back to a favorite childhood memory?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Three Plant Mysteries #WordlessWednesday

I need your help, dear reader!

Do you happen to know what any or all of these plants are?  These were all photographed in Binghamton, New York over the last four days.

First up is this mystery bush growing in a yard.  I love it!
Here's a closeup of its flowers.

Mystery #2 is a tree. I suspect is some kind of maple.  What beautiful seedpods.

Our final mystery plant is on the edge of downtown Binghamton.  It could be a weed or maybe not, as there were some hostas planted nearby.  But I've never seen anything like this plant  Weed? Cultivated?

Any guesses?
Wordless Wednesday
Linking up with Esha and Natasha for #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Distant Memory

Sunshine has been rare in many parts of the United States, including where I live.  But we had some sun over the weekend.

The light on these petunias can be stunning when it isn't raining.  
It's been so cool, our pansies are still blooming.

The rain has returned.  Now this is a distant memory.

Linking up this week with NC Sue's image-in-ing.

Monday, June 17, 2019

More Cowbell At Last! #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and it's time to ROCK with Music Moves Me.
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, whose birthday is coming up,   Her co-conductors are:   Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and (finally) me.  Callie of JAmerican Spice blogs from time to time. 

Our guest conductor is also the engineer of this train - Xmas Dolly and for our theme today she has picked:  "YOUR PICK".

In the past few weeks, life has not been kind to many of the guys and gals of Music Moves Me so I thought I would pick some random songs that I happen to like.  Some are outside the normal genres of music I feature.

Like this one from the Backstreet Boys, a group my then young son enjoyed.

May I bring you - Everybody (Backstreet's Back).  I think the video is pretty awesome, too.

Woke Up This Morning (made famous by The Sopranos)- Alabama 3 (note:  this is not identical to the theme played on The Sopranos).

Living with a Hernia - Weird Al.  Warning:  You must watch every second of this video to get the full enjoyment.

The song that led to a million rickrollings:   Rick Astley and "Never Gonna Give You Up". Guess what?  I like this song!

Haddaway - What Is Love, the song that led to a SNL skit and a movie.  This is an extended club mix, to give you a couple more minutes of dancing. 

MFSB - TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia), to give you some more dance time.

Last but not least - I found it!  It hasn't been taken down yet!  The famed "More Cowbell" skit from Saturday Night Live which keeps disappearing and reappearing from You Tube for some unknown reason. 

(That song really did need more cowbell, don't you agree?)

Danced out?  I am.  It's a wrap, boys and girls.  See you on the dance floor (with or without cowbells) next Monday, hopefully!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Fathers of the United States Civil War

My father, who passed away over 30 years ago, loved history.  He would have been proud, I think, of his daughter blogging about the United States Civil War during its 150th anniversary 2011-2015.

For Father's Day, here is a reworking of my Civil War Sunday Post of Father's Day, 2011.  
Have you ever thought about Civil War figures as fathers?  Enough of them were.   Further, fatherhood was and was not like being a father today.

1.  Infant mortality was high, and even if your child made it past infancy, the father was rare who did not lose at least one child in childhood or young adulthood.

2.  Fathers could forbid their daughters from marrying a prospective suitor - but then, it didn't always mean the daughter would obey. (and, obey was the word for that cultural context.) Jefferson Davis faced this decision with his daughter, Winnie, when she fell in love with a Yankee, the grandson of an abolitionist.  Just like today, sometimes parents must watch their children as adults come to tragic ends.

3.  Then as now, many fathers had to be absent from home frequently, leaving their wives to be both mother and father.  (this hasn't changed, sadly, as many spouses hold down the "Home Fort" while spouses serve in the military - both men and women).

4.  Many fathers found themselves as single fathers when their wives died in childbirth. The solution, in many cases, was to marry again as quickly as possible.

5.  Although losing children was a fact of life, it caused great sorrow to the grieving parents.  Sometimes they didn't recover.  (One example: Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of Abraham Lincoln.)  There was not much that could be done in those days for depression.

6.  It was not uncommon for Civil War generals to bring sons to visit them at camp.  This is hard for a person of today to imagine, but then again, there was no such thing as email or video chats.

The following information is taken in part from "After The War-The Lies and Images of Major Civil War Figures After the Shooting Stopped" by David Hardin.  

Abraham and Mary Lincoln had four sons.  Only two outlived their father.  One son, Willie, died while Abraham Lincoln was in the White House and both Abraham and Mary took the death very hard. 

Abraham Lincoln's oldest son Robert Todd Lincoln grew up to be a Secretary of War under President James Garfield, who himself was a Major General on the Union side of the Civil War.

Although he did not witness his own father's assassination, Todd Lincoln was at the event where Garfield was assassinated, and also McKinley's.  Lincoln has no direct descendents alive today (the last one died in 1985) but does have living cousins, including actor Tom Hanks.

Jefferson Davis and his wife Varina had six children, four boys and two girls.  None of the boys outlived their parents.  Jefferson Davis' son Joseph, died at the age of five in April of 1864 from injuries suffered in a fall from the Confederate Executive Mansion.  Jefferson Davis does have living descendants.

William Tecumseh Sherman and his wife, Ellen, had four children.  As with Lincoln and Davis, Sherman lost a son, Willie (was this a bad luck name?) in 1863 at the age of nine. (There is interesting speculation concerning how this impacted Sherman.)  A third son, born in 1864, died at the age of six months. Still another son, Tom, became a Jesuit priest but later descended into insanity and died in Louisiana.  Quoting from "After the War":  "The son of the despoiler of Georgia lies in the Jesuit cemetery in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, next to the Jesuit grandnephew of Alexander Stephens, the Confederacy's vice-president."

Ulysses S. Grant, Union General and later President of the United States, and his wife also had four children.  Unlike many of the time, their children all lived to adulthood.  His great grandchildren are all deceased now (the last one died in 2011) but Grant does have living descendants.

Finally, it's time to discuss Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Robert E. Lee and his wife Mary Custis Lee (George Washington's granddaughter) had seven children.  Unlike the other major figures above, Lee's children all lived into adulthood.  One, Custis Lee (a Major General in the Confederate Army), lived into his 80's.  Lee does have living descendants today (as does his Union counterpart, General U.S. Grant).  It will interest you to know of the various political directions Lee's descendants have taken.

On today, Father's Day, we should all be thankful that modern medicine spares many modern parents what these people of some 150 years ago had to go through as fathers (and mothers).

With that, Happy Father's Day to all my readers who have, or have had, fathers, or father figures, in their lives.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2019 - A Pause From Rain

Welcome to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  Each 15th of the month, bloggers gather at May Dreams Gardens (virtually) to show what is blooming in their houses or yards.

This post should mark my eighth anniversary of participating every month since at least June of 2011.   Sneakily, I've built myself a once a month garden journal.  Here's this month's entry:

The rain festival that has hit my zone 5b Binghamton, New York area garden has paused.  I was afraid I was not going to have good photographic conditions today for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

I was wrong.
It's June, and despite the rain (or maybe because of it) our area has had an explosion of flowers.  In the morning light, this petunia basket given to me for Mother's Day shone.
A purchase from the Memorial Day weekend at a plant sale sponsored by our local botancial gardens, these Black Eyed Susans have just opened up.


Fun with collage #1, as there is so much to see.   Here, marigolds and petunias.

I took other pictures last night, just in case, and had some fun with collages.  Here are double flowered impatiens and sunpatiens.
Pansies, with a sprinkling of geraniums.  It's been so cool, the pansies are thriving.
A petunia basket I made up.  It's funny, both me and my son picked the same petunia (the purple one with the white border) for baskets.  I guess he knows my tastes by now.
Here's another basket. Yes, in the back are black petunias.

In golden hour light, sweet alyssum.

Calibrachoa, a geranium and (lower right) annual phlox.
One more.  This includes (counterclockwise from upper left) another calibrachoa, a heuchera, yellow bleeding heart, what's left of my brunneria, what's left of my columbine and a geranium with variegated leaves.

Want more flowers?  Click on the links of the other bloggers participating. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Blue Skies Came Our Way #SkywatchFriday

It's been an effort to get nice sky pictures this spring in upstate New York.

Last week, we had a several day break from the rain.
Last Friday night I saw a beautiful sunset starting up, but there are a lot of trees where I live, and the angle was wrong.

I took these at a different angle from where the sunset was. 

The next day, the sun was out again and spouse and I went on a tour of gardens put on by our local preservation society, PAST.  This year the tour was of seven gardens in the small town of Maine, New York. 

The clouds put on a show for me, just so I would have some pictures for you.

If only...if only we could have days like this more often.  But if we did, we would take them for granted.   Today, it's back to the cool and rain.

Do you love to watch the sky?  If so why don't you join Yogi and other devoted sky watchers each Friday and share the love at #SkywatchFriday.

Tomorrow, please join me again for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fringe Free #ThursdayTreeLove

I've blogged about the fringe tree several times through the years, including at least one #ThursdayTreeLove.  You will have to forgive me, but I love this tree so much, I had to share this year's photos.

If you don't remember my previous poasts, please allow me introduce you to a tree native to the southeastern United States, Chionanthus virginicus. (Chionantus means "snow flower").

Some call them fringe trees, others Grancy Greybeard. 

Despite this not being the southeastern United States, there are at least five of these trees that I know of in the Binghamton, New York area. (I'm sure there are more).  Two are in downtown Binghamton, two in Otsiningo Park and one on the West Side of Binghamton.  The trees below are in downtown, near the Broome County Courthouse.

Like many blooming trees, it has a short season.  These pictures were taken May 30-31 and June 3.

The tree is smaller than it looks.

The fringe tree comes in male and female trees.  The males have showier blooms but the females bear small fruit in the fall, which wildlife loves.
  Be mindful, the trees teach us.  Be cautious.  And be as showy as you would like when it is your time to flower.  That time is gone now, and I hope to be there again next year.
Join Parul of Happiness and Food and her tree loving bloging friends each second and fourth Thursday of the month for #ThursdayTreeLove.