Saturday, November 30, 2019

Local Saturday - Last Day of Fall and A Blue Sky Holiday Season

That thud you heard sometime between Wednesday and Friday was me falling off the Small Business Saturday wagon.

A year after a series of deaths during the holiday season, I was depressed.  

Yes, I was.

But on Wednesday, I saw a double rainbow.  And it was like something clicked in me.

I wanted to enjoy the beauty of the holiday season - the poinsettias, the glittering lights, and and, yes, even the music.  Everything that brought me pain this year was somehow all different now.

So, I admit it.  I shopped on Wednesday.  I shopped online on Thanksgiving and went to the mall at 4:30 pm with my spouse to exercise walk.

I celebrated my weight loss on Black Friday with three pair of jeans in various colors and several inexpensive tops.   I ordered some new curtains.  It was like a weight had been lifted off me.

For Small Business Saturday, we went to a local nursery.  I just can't stay away from plants.

This is what I bought, along with a self watering pot for my small Lyndon Lyon African violet.

My Lyndon Lyon African Violet.   The variegated leaves are hard to see but they are there.

On Black Friday, I had already bought an amaryllis (ready to be forced) and this poinsettia.

This afternoon, I took a walk with my spouse.  The sun was out, probably because we are due for a major snowstorm tomorrow.   The bare bushes looked so beautiful against the blue skies.

Dried grasses glowed in the glare of the sun.

It was a wonderful weekend, feeling happy once again, on this last day of fall (according to the weather). 

Tomorrow, the snow and true winter comes to where I live in New York.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Disappearing Rainbow #SkywatchFriday

On Wednesday I left work early.  I heard a crafts store was suddenly going out of business, and I was making an afghan with yarn only they sell.  I didn't want to wait until Black Friday, today in the United States.

On my way out of the store, my spouse motioned to me "Look!  A double rainbow!"

Sure enough.  The base was one of the thickest I had ever seen.  To its right, faintly, you can see the double.

We stared at it.....

And stared.

Then it started to disappear.  I shifted my position a little as it disappeared....

And was replaced, in a different direction, with a lovely cloud shot.

I have so much to be grateful for - being in the right place at the right time, with an iPhone, a husband who sees these things before I do, and being able to get off of work a little early that day.

Joining Yogi and other sky watching bloggers at #SkywatchFriday.  What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Come to the Ithaca Apple Tree #ThursdayTreeLove

Today is Thanksgiving where I live, in the United States.

The turkey will be in the oven soon.  The cranberry sauce, the pumpkin pie and the apple crisp are done.  Soon, the air of my house will be fragrant with cooking scents.

It's all because of trees.  I am so grateful today for the trees that provide food, shelter, firewood and more for us humans.

Our fall season has mostly ended, and there's no snow on the ground right now, so I thought I would give my readers a different treat.

An apple tree.

This one is located in Ithaca, New York, about an hour from where I live in upstate New York in the Northeastern United States.  I took this picture in October.  Our area is an apple growing area, and we are fortunate enough to have many varieties to choose from.  I don't know which variety this one is, except it obviously ripens in October.

Here's a closeup of the apples.

It may surprise you to learn that apples come in various colors - besides the common (in this country) red ones, there are green ones (green when ripe, I mean) and even ones with brown skin (called russets).

I am grateful for the bounty of the season, and I am grateful for Parul and her #ThursdayTreeLove, and all of my blogging friends from all over the world who participate in the various blog hopes I participate in - Music Moves Me, Skywatch Friday, and several Wordless Wednesdays.

I am also grateful for those in several Facebook groups I belong to for music, nostalgia, crochet, and more.

Love trees?  Why not click on the link to Parul's post and visit and comment on these bloggers of tree love?  The next Tree Love post will be the 2nd Thursday in December.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my dear readers.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Talking Turkey with the Talk Line

I blogged this back in 2017, and I think it's time for a repeat this day before Thanksgiving.

First, I have to make one thing clear.  It's not the Butterball Hotline, which I thought it was until this post.  It's Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line, and it has been giving turkey cooking advice to people in the United States since 1981.

Our 2015 turkey
Why would Americans need to talk turkey? Because on Thanksgiving, it is traditional to cook a turkey, and - well, there are so many ways to prepare turkeys.

I've wanted to call the Hot..I mean, the Turkey Talk-Line for years, but my spouse, the family cook, has never needed turkey advice.  This year (2019) our turkey will be 19 pounds - for four people. (Don't ask).

Comedian Stephen Colbert has made it a Thanksgiving tradition to call the Turkey Talk-Line with prank questions for years.  Now, those good folks actually let him loose on the Talk-Line in person. For some reason, Blogger insists on this video from 2018 being at the top of my post.

By the way, don't take his advice.

Back in 2017, someone I know was concerned because she had purchased a 28 pound (12.7 kg) frozen turkey for Thanksgiving (November 28 this year, in the United States) and had tried online research to figure out how long to cook it.  She had never cooked that big a turkey before.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever used the Turkey Talk-Line?  Or, better yet, have you ever cooked a 28 pound turkey?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Cranberry Apple Orange Sauce

Today, I am going to feature one of my infrequent efforts at cooking.  As my regular readers know, my spouse (who loves to cook) does 99% of the cooking at our house.

But, particularly at holiday time, I feel I have to share in some of the burden.

For Thanksgiving, that means I make the cranberry sauce and any desserts.

We are only going to be a group of four this Thanksgiving, so I decided to concentrate on a new cranberry sauce.  I love cranberry sauce, but it is not the most Weight Watchers friendly because you need so much sweetener.

I saw this recipe on a blog.  I made cranberry relish one year, and it tasted so bitter to me.  But the answer was obvious - don't use the orange rind (one of the author's suggestions for a variation).

But then, spouse told me "not sure I want to eat raw cranberries".

So we decided on a compromise.  Cook the cranberries until they pop, like I was making whole berry cranberry sauce.  Use chopped raw apples.  Use the canned oranges we had bought the day before.

7 ounces of frozen cranberries (because that's what we had left over from last year).
1/3 cup stevia/sugar blend
1/3 cup water
1/2 can mandarin oranges in light syrup (because we were shopping at Aldi, and they didn't have any other kind).  Coarsely chop the oranges.
1/2 Cortland apple and one Gala apple (that's what we had), no skins, cored, chopped coarsely by my spouse, who couldn't help helping.

Combine water and stevia/sugar blend, bring to boil.
Add cranberries, bring back to boil, then lower heat.  Tasted, decided needed a bit more sweetness, added some of the light syrup from the oranges.
I cooked for about seven minutes, as most all the cranberries had popped by then.

I added the apples and let them sit in the hot cranberry sauce.  After it had mostly cooled, spouse added the chopped oranges.  Decided still not sweet enough, so added about a tablespoon of honey.

Success! (Hopefully).

The recipe is supposed to freeze, and I will freeze the leftovers, if they are any.

Do you make your own cranberry sauce?

Monday, November 25, 2019

Songs About Toys #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, Monday, so good to me, and it's time for some music!

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,  please! Non-music posts are subject to removal or labeling as "No Music".)   First, there is XmasDolly.  Her chief co-conductor is Cathy of Curious as a Cathy. Her other co-conductors are Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, and me.  

This month our guest conductor is "CK" of Stunning Keisha, and her theme for today is "Songs about Toys (People or Animal).  Thank you for your month of co-conducting, CK!

I guess she didn't mean The Toys, and a favorite song from my childhood "A Lover's Concerto" but I am going to sneak it in, anyway.  The music, of course, is adapted from  Johann Sebastian Bach's (or maybe not) "Minuet in G major"(The Lover's Concerto).

OK, OK, I will stop being distracted.

How about...All of Your Toys, by the Monkees?   Well, not sure this is what CK meant.

That's enough fooling around.  Let's get going with our toy songs.

For these two selections,  I'm going back to my childhood.  Every holiday season, I would hear this classic "March of the Toy Soldiers" by Tchaikovsky.

And then there was the movie "Babes in Toyland" and the "March of the Toys".

I'll end with "Old Toy Trains" by Roger Miller.  Such a sweet song!

It's a holiday wrap!

Stay tuned...for the month of December, it's all holiday music, all the time.  See you next Monday for another edition of #MusicMovesMe!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thankfulness 2019

I wrote this post in November of 2016. I offer it today with some up to date edits and a little more detail.  This is such a precious memory for me.

Thursday will be Thanksgiving in the United States.  It is all about family.  And memories.

Memories of beauty.  Memories of good times. 

But sometimes, Thanksgiving is about loss.

One of my cousins called me today, and we chatted about many things.  One thing she mentioned was that on the day after Thanksgiving she and her husband were heading to Virginia to celebrate her oldest brother in law's birthday.  He is turning 80.

She also mentioned her uncle, who is, I believe, 102 now. 

But I remember when, in 2016, his brother died.

His name was Jack, and he was 96 years old.  It's so ironic that he died the Sunday before Thanksgiving, because, at one time, he was a part of Thanksgiving for me.

After my Mom died in November of 1965, my Dad started to take me to Thanksgiving dinner at his younger sister's apartment in Brooklyn. It was over an hour's train ride and then either a 10 block walk, or a bus.  Somehow, it usually managed to be drizzling or raining.

In that small, one bedroom apartment, we would gather: my Dad, me, my aunt and uncle, their two children (my cousins, both slightly younger than me - the older one was the one who called me today) and my uncle's two "bachelor" (as they said in those days) brothers.

One of them was Jack.

We would eat roast turkey, stuffing, yams with marshmallows and pineapple (not crazy about it, but this was the 1960's) until we were full.   For dessert there would be roasted chestnuts and coffee ice cream.  Eventually Dad would go home - he had to work the next day.  I would sleep overnight at my aunt and uncle's.

Every year, Jack and his brother would arrive at Thanksgiving with a large box of candy in hand.  It was immediately hidden.

My two cousins and I would hunt the box down the next morning, and demolish it.  Strange how no one ever seemed to notice (or maybe I just ignored the outrage).

I only had one Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle after getting married in 1974 (we lived far away from Brooklyn for some of that time) and I don't think Jack was there that year.  So, my husband never had the pleasure of meeting Jack, or his brother.

Now, almost all the members of that generation are gone.  

I will dedicate my first bite of Thanksgiving turkey today to the good times of the past and what I have now.

To my family.
To the friends who remain (several have already passed on).
To a warm house scented with good food.
To health.
To mobility.

And to you, my readers.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

How Did Sam Know?

I have a story for today which I am repeating from last year.

My 90 year old mother in law, whom I've blogged about from time to time in the almost ten year history of this blog, passed away a year ago today.

It was the day after the American Thanksgiving, the day we call "Black Friday". It's a major shopping day.  We were up early.

Before we got the call, we had decided to treat ourselves to a "Black Friday" breakfast out, something we used to do a lot but stopped doing except for special occasions.

This is where we decided to go a year ago today.

The "Greek House" (which serves a lot more than Greek food) has been owned by an Egyptian everyone calls Sam for the past 26 years.  It has been through two floods, the second of which closed it for a couple of months. Meantime, a large manufacturer across the street's building was ruined by that flood and had to move four miles or so down the road.  But the Greek House survived.

One day last year, a sign appeared in their window.

It's hard to see above, but it reads "Thank You to our loyal customers who have kept us in business for 25 years, and thanks to our loyal staff. We couldn't have made it without you.  Sam."

Now, when we have eaten here, the plates the food was served quickly, on were normal restaurant plates.  In fact, my spouse and his brother ate breakfast there together several months ago, and nothing was unusual.

Not a year ago around 7:15 AM.  In fact, the normally fast service wasn't there.  We waited and waited.

When our food was served, each of our plates was decorated on the rim, in big bold script, with the word MOTHER.

In faint lettering, there were various traits of the ideal mother listed.  Loving.  Patient. Kind.  Compassionate.  And so forth.


It was so strange that I almost took a picture of the plate and my food, but decided not to.  Now I wish I had. Maybe you don't believe me but this is 100% true.

We finished our breakfast and went home.

And, not five minutes after entering our house, we got the phone call from the nursing home.

I'm still wondering, even a year later: 

How did Sam know?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Green Leaves #SkywatchFriday

November is almost gone.  Just a few more days and the really grim weather of winter will be hitting us here in upstate New York (so far we've only had a taste of it.)

Clouds and grey skies abound - this sunrise is from November 8.

But  I never would have expected to take this picture yesterday.
Broome County Library, Binghamton, New York
It isn't the blue skies, although they aren't that common in mid November.  It's the trees with green leaves among the brown.

Green leaves. 

This never used to happen on November 21 in the Binghamton, New York area.  This isn't an isolated tree, either.  Years ago these trees (I think they are Bradford Pears) would have been bare by the first of November.

Joining with Yogi and the other sky watching bloggers at #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Next Chapter

In 2017, I participated in a "cousins" family reunion on my father's side.   I don't know if there will be another one.  It gets harder and harder to fit things in.  And, sadly, one of my cousins (he couldn't make it) died later that year and the wife of another one (who did) died earlier this year.  We are at that age where people seem to get together mainly for weddings and funerals.  Especially funerals.

One memory of that reunion sticks in my mind.

After eating, we talked on the phone with our last living biological uncle, who is in his early 90's. His wife, who is younger, is our last aunt.  They live about 850 miles from us.

When asking him how he was doing, he said "not bad for an old man".

I flashed back to when I visited him as a teenager, when he was an energetic man in his 40's, raising three children (my youngest cousins).  Now, those young children are in their 50's.

Last week, Last Uncle celebrated his 95th birthday.  There was a party Saturday at his church.  His children (only one lives locally, and another lives overseas, but they all came) and grandchildren attended.  What a wonderful occasion.

One of my cousins texted me to tell me she was sending me some pictures of Uncle's birthday party.  But then there was some additional news she needed to pass along.  One of the cousins at the reunion had recently been diagnosed with cancer.  She already has health issues that cause her a great deal of pain.  Now, this.  She will have surgery sometime in December.

I can't help but think of the cancer that has hit my family (it's not what my cousin has) three times:  pancreatic cancer.  Twice on my father's side and once on my mother's side.

We are blessed, we who are alive and in good health.  I ponder this almost every day now, even as I watch someone on my floor at work battle cancer, and think of a former co worker on another floor who faced her own cancer battle earlier this year.  I have a feeling that the universe isn't just sending me a message, but, rather, screaming it.  It's about time I paid attention.

I was taught that we inherited an imperfect world and we are charged with leaving it better than it was when we arrived on Earth.  I can't say that my still working full time as I near age 67 is a bad thing, but I am feeling it is time to turn my talents to something new.

I just don't know what that is.  And I never realized you could still have "midlife" crises this late in life.  Why is it so hard for me to make this decision?

One day, I can only hope, my spouse and I will be saying "not bad for an old man" or "not bad for an old woman" to the children of the next generation, my future first cousins once removed. 

Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Ugly Vegetable #WordlessWednesday

Last week, I spotlighted the beauty of vegetables.

Today, I want to do just the opposite:  Do you think this is ugly?
What is that?  No, it's not from another planet.

This is celeriac, being sold right now in our local upstate New York farmer's market.  If you are familiar with the green stalks of celery, you are looking at its cousin.  Celeriac and domestic celery have the same ancestor, but have gone in different directions.  One - stalks and leaves  The other - root.

Peel off the skin and you are left with a nutritious, low calorie veggie that can be boiled, mashed or even fried.  The Europeans know its ugliness is only skin deep.  I have never tried it before.  I will, now.

Join Sandee for her Wordless Wednesday.

Join Natasha and Esha for their Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

One Short Speech

I first blogged this in 2013.  Now that there are those claiming our political divisions will result in a second United States Civil War, it is well we step back and reread history to discover just what the first Civil War did to our country.

It wasn't pretty.  It wasn't romantic.  In some ways, we still haven't recovered.  We are still surrounded by reminders, such as a speech generations of school children had to memorize.
Possibly the most famous speech in United States history began simply, as a verbal invitation, followed later by something in writing.

On November 2, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln received this invitation:

"Gettysburg Nov. 2 1863
To His Excellency
A. Lincoln
President U. S.

The Several States having Soldiers in the Army of the Potomac, who were killed at the Battle of Gettysburg, or have since died at the various hospitals which were established in the vicinity, have procured grounds on a prominent part of the Battle Field for a Cemetery, and are having the dead removed to them and properly buried.
These Grounds will be Consecrated and set apart to this Sacred purpose, by appropriate Ceremonies, on Thursday, the 19th instant. Hon Edward Everett will deliver the Oration. I am authorized by the Governors of the different States to invite you to be present, and participate in these Ceremonies, which will doubtless be very imposing and solemnly impressive.
It is the desire that, after the Oration, you, as Chief Executive of the Nation, formally set apart these grounds to their Sacred use by a few appropriate remarks. It will be a source of great gratification to the many widows and orphans that have been made almost friendless by the Great Battle here, to have you here personally; and it will kindle anew in the breasts of the Comrades of these brave dead, who are now in the tented field or nobly meeting the foe in the front, a confidence that they who sleep in death on the Battle Field are not forgotten by those highest in Authority; and they will feel that, should their fate be the same, their remains will not be uncared for.
We hope you will be able to be present to perform this last solemn act to the Soldiers dead on this Battle Field.
I am with great Respect, Your Excellency's Obedient Servant
David Wills
Agent for A. G. Curtin Gov. of Penna.[Pennsylvania] and acting for all the States"

In the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863,  some 2500 residents of Gettysburg were left to tend to the thousands of wounded and bury the thousands more who had died during the three day battle. Gettysburg was to be the costliest battle (in lives lost) of the Civil War.   I will spare you the details of the horrific conditions endured that summer by the farmers and others who owned the land where the dead fell, and what overwhelmed remaining Union soldiers and area residents went through, but if you are interested, here is one description. This article also has a harrowing description of what the Confederate soldiers left behind in Lee's retreat experienced.

Eventually, state and local governments came together.  With financial help from every Union state whose citizens died at Gettysburg, lawyer David Willis oversaw the purchase of 17 acres for what became a national cemetery.  It was to be dedicated on November 19, 1863, and the featured speaker was going to be...., not President Lincoln.  He was invited to give some remarks after the featured orator.  You might say, he was invited almost as an afterthought. (more on that shortly).

It was, instead, a noted orator by the name of Edward Everett, a man who had served as a Congressman, a Secretary of State, a Senator and the Governor of Massachusetts, who was to give the main speech. 

So it sounds like the President was being slighted, being treated almost as an afterthought.  But, I have read that was not the case at all - that, in the 1860's Presidents were not expected to give speeches. That was the job of orators such as Everett, and Lincoln was to give a "few words" in his role as President.

Ironically, perhaps, Everett would not live to see the end of the Civil War, and Lincoln himself only outlived the end by a few days.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Today is the 156th anniversary of the dedication of Gettysburg's National Cemetery on November 19, 1863, and here is the address Lincoln thought would not long be remembered.

He was wrong.

There are five known copies of the address, with some differences.  I believe this one is the most commonly quoted.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


Perhaps I should start rerunning my Civil War Sunday posts which I wrote between 2011-2015, during the 150th anniversary of that dread event, so that my readers (and I) can get a refresher.  But, for now, let's remember one thing - a short speech.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Happiness and Sadness on Rainy Tenth Avenue #MusicMovesMe

Welcome, Monday!  It's time for 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,  please! Non-music posts are subject to removal or labeling as "No Music".)   First, there is XmasDolly.  Her chief co-conductor is Cathy of Curious as a Cathy. Her other co-conductors are Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, and me.  

This month our guest conductor is "CK" of Stunning Keisha,  and she has declared today as a "You Pick" day.  The day is ours!

Almost all of my selections are long today but there's a personal reason behind each of these songs.

I have to admit, this month has had a degree of sadness in it, and it isn't over yet, with one of my cousins recently diagnosed with cancer.

Dedicated to my cousin.  Shinedown and "Diamond Eyes".
A rainly November day is perfect for a song like Guns N'Roses and their power Ballard "November Rain".  The history of the song and video is interesting and you can read it here.

Bon Jovi performing Leonard Cohen's iconic Hallelujah.

But all is not sad.  This past week my last living uncle celebrated his 95th birthday.  And, as a "Happy Birthday" I thought I would play Richard Rogers' 1936 "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" as covered by Larry Fast and Synergy.  One of his sons introduced me to this album back around 1976, and I've loved it ever since. It's long, so I won't be mad if you don't stick around, but even if you don't like electronic music, why don't you try this version of a classic?

And that is a wrap.

You know the drill - same time, same place, next Monday for another episode of #MusicMovesMe!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Transformation

Today - surprise - it is overcast, grey and dreary where I live in the Southern Tier of upstate New York.

But yesterday, the sun was out and I decided to take a picture of hydrangeas.

Now, you might ask why I would take a picture of some dead flowers.  And I would tell you, they have their own beauty.

Once, they may have looked like this.

Or this.

But then the end of the outdoor growing season came.  Their leaves changed.

And one day, the frost came.

But their beauty has not ended.

One day soon, they will wear snow on their tops, like hats.  They will wait.

Then next year, the cycle will start again.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Day of the Palmetto Bug

Please don't be put off by the title of this post.  But I do have to warn you in advance that when you blog about Florida, you can't truly blog about it without mentioning the insect life.
I do love palm trees, though.
I grew up in New York City and wanted so badly to get out of the place that I ended up, as a newlywed, in Tampa, Florida, where I had family.  Years ago, I did a guest post on the blog of the woman who introduced me to blogging,  You, my dear readers, are (of course) welcome to read the whole thing.

Something you need to know about me is that I tend to do things in reverse order.  Many people in the North dream about snow birding in Florida in the winter when they become old.  On the other hand, I moved to Florida when I was in my early 20's, lived there for a little under two years, and ended up (eventually) moving back to New York State.

Why?  The insect life, including (but not limited to) palmetto bugs was a large part of the reason.

Palmetto bugs, in case you have never lived in Florida, are a type of Southern cockroach.  They are a fact of life in Florida.  Besides being large (and I do mean LARGE) and somewhat able to fly (well, it's more like gliding) they carry diseases such as salmonella.

My spouse and I quickly learned about palmetto bugs within days of moving to Florida.   It started when we went to the laundromat to wash our clothes and there, larger than life, we found a cockroach like insect in the washing machine as we started to add our clothes.  We decided we would never use that laundromat again.

But you couldn't escape these insects we were told were called Palmetto bugs.

My father came down for a visit, staying with us, and didn't even blink an eye when he saw them.  My Dad was like that.  But to me, it was embarrassing.

The last straw was finding one in the kitchen of our small newlywed apartment, in what was then a not-that-desirable neighborhood called Hyde Park.  (In fact, we were told NEVER to cross the street.  If we stayed on our side, it was fine.  But don't ever go "there".)

Spouse was so upset about this bug that (I kid you not) he took the refrigerator and dropped it on the bug.  Actually, it just about takes a refrigerator to put an end to one of them.  It left a spot we could never get out.

Now, fast forward 30 years.

Since the day we left in 1976, we had never been back to Florida.  In 2006,  it was time.  Florida bound we were.

We took the Auto Train down. At last, we arrived in Tampa, with our teenaged son in tow.

I have two cousins who were born, and grew up, in Tampa.   One of them, Barry, and his (now former) companion Billie decided they were going to give us a tour of Tampa so we could see how it had changed in 30 years.  My son came along for the ride.

Barry and Billie drove us around Tampa. And finally, I asked Barry if he would take us back to where we had started our married life.

Of course he would.

We couldn’t believe it.  What was once not too desirable was up and coming and most desirable.   We went past what, when we lived there, was a small neighborhood mall – it was now something spanning several blocks called Hyde Park Village.  New construction was everywhere.  The “don’t go there” neighborhood was gone, razed, with condos going up on the site.  Our neighborhood had gone upscale.

The two family house we lived in was still there.  We didn’t recognize the street at all.  It looked really nice.

We parked in front of the house.  And I had to open my big mouth and say “Say, wouldn’t it be nice if we could see the apartment again?”

“Why not?” replied Billie.  She marched up the stairs and knocked on the door.

She came back down.  A young Hispanic man had answered her knock. And yes, we were more than welcome to come in and look around.

So we took our son up and showed him where we had started married life over 30 years before.  The young man proudly showed us around the apartment.  The kitchen had been totally renovated. The palmetto spot was gone.

So now, fast forward again, to 2019.  My spouse is already retired, and I am getting close.  And now, Florida beckons. We want to escape the harsh upstate New York winters for a month or maybe two.  Palmetto bugs or no palmetto bugs.

Funny how things change.

And that two family house in Hyde Park?  My cousin Barry isn't sure it's even there anymore.  There's been a lot of changes in that neighborhood.  But, if we come down again, he's willing to take us there to find out.

And hopefully, we won't see any palmetto bugs.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Winter Blast-Garden Bloggers Bloom Day November 2019

It's the 15th of November.  It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day but the weather didn't get the message.
My front yard, November 13
This is NOT what Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is supposed to be about.

No more outdoor flowers.  This was the last of them, earlier this week.

It's a new day dawning.

It may be colorful, but it is sure cold, too.

So we'll have to come indoors and see what is blooming in my zone 5b home in the Southern Tier of New York.

African violets start the show.

This is a fancy variety I took a chance on, grown by Lyndon Lyon in Syracuse.  Too bad I couldn't get the iPhone to take a nice macro.  It's hard to see but the leaves are variegated.  The flowers are not that showy.

My one Phalaenopsis that is blooming.  Do you get a suspicion that I like purple?

We can switch to pink, with one of my Thanksgiving Cactii.

Remember last month, when I said I wouldn't rescue any of my outdoor flowers?  Well, I lied.

This geranium is so big and beautiful, I begged my spouse to carry it in.  I decided to take a picture while I still had it in natural light - last week.  Since it's still blooming, I don't call that "cheating".

Also, there is this impatien, and I might take cuttings.

Joining up this week with Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who runs the 15th of each month Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

And, Yogi at Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Two Seasons In One #ThursdayTreeLove


Today, I join Parul at Happiness and Food in celebrating #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the year.

I had a dilemma.  I knew my readers enjoy seeing both fall foliage and winter snow.

Well, nature made it easy for me.  Why not have both in one week?

November 6, the last colors of fall.
November 12.  The snow came while a number of trees still had their leaves. 

What did the trees think?  Well, Nature didn't ask their opinion.

Expect the unexpected.  Don't be set in your ways.

Good lessons for us, too.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Peaceful Veggies #WordlessWednesday

Fall is over.  It's snowing.  Snow is on the ground.  It is brrrr cold this morning; our coldest morning so far this season.

It seems frightening things are happening all over the world, so I will make this post an outpost of refreshment.

Have you ever thought of photographing veggies?  People paint them, so why not photograph them?
Did you know cauliflower came in more than one color?

So do sweet peppers.

Fennel and celery.
This "pointy" stuff is an heirloom broccoli.
Winter squash provides one more memory of the season now gone.

Doesn't this make you hungry?  It makes me wish the growing season hadn't ended.

Joining Sandee for #WordlessWednesday and Esha and Natasha for their #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Jimmy Carter

I have repeated this blog post several times since I first wrote it in 2010.  One of those times was ths past March.

I'm moved to blog once again about our oldest living President, Jimmy Carter, age 95.  He had a number of falls recently, and is having brain surgery this morning to relieve pressure on his brain caused by fluid buildup.

We wish him the best outcome. 

James Earl Carter still lives outside Americus, Georgia in a modest house on a family compound.  At least up to now, 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.   

Once again, my post from 2010.

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:

One day I hope to return to Americus, and experience the area that shaped this humanitarian.

So sad to see falls impact the life of still another aging great American.