Sunday, May 31, 2020

Back into Space On Our Own

It took nearly nine years.

In July of 2011 I blogged this:

"The United States space program ended today.

Today has left a large hole in my heart.  And perhaps one in our country's heart.

I was a child of the Space Race.  In October of 1957, Sputnik 1 was launched.  Ever hear of it? Or the Soviet Union?  Well...

The Soviet Union was a "union" of Russia and a number of other nearby countries.  Their government was "communist", committed to the destruction of the capitalist system - and our country.  Or, so we were told.  Those were scary times.  When I was a toddler, being called a Communist could be enough to cause someone to lose their job.  There were special congressional hearings.  Blacklists.

The Soviets had "The Bomb".   We and they fought what was called the "Cold War".  If they won and took us over, all would be lost.  The Soviets were totally evil- that is what I was taught, as a schoolchild growing up in the 1950's and early 60's.

When the Soviets launched the first satellite in October of 1957, our country was thrown into a panic.  We needed to get our children educated in the sciences, and quickly, so we could get into space with our satellite before the Communists took space over.   This drive accelerated even more quickly when the Soviets put the first man into space in 1961.

We as a country committed ourselves to reach the moon in a speech given by President Kennedy in May of 1961. 

50 years ago, we decided to go to the moon.  We would beat the Soviets there.  We knew they were trying to get there, too.

Competition is the heart of the capitalist system.

I saw some of the various launches in school.  Others, on our black and white TV at home.  First, we blasted one man into sub-orbit.  Then, one man into orbit.  Then, into many orbits.

Then, the Soviets took a walk in space. So we had to also.

To make a long story short, we made it to the moon first.  Several more missions got to the moon and then in the 1970's we totally changed direction.  We decided to have a program with partially disposable space crafts.  We haven't been to the moon since that decision and, in fact, no one else has been, either.

In the middle of all this, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.  Probably a lot of the urgency disappeared with the Soviets.  We no longer had an enemy to compete with.

And then we realized it was way too expensive for the government to keep up the space program.  Private industry would have to take over, and that is part of the reason for what happened today.  The entire story is complicated, and this is a very shallow telling of the tale.

Today, several generations know of the space program mainly for Tang, and freeze dried ice cream.  But, in reality, it enriched our lives in so many ways we can't even imagine - everything from MRI technology to cell phones (have you ever seen the first Star Trek series?) to - well, there is an entire NASA Spinoff website that explains this.

Think about this.  We won the space race, right?  And now -we won't have a way to get into space on our own, for now.  We will have to depend on....

The Russians.

Now, that's irony."

It continued that way, year after year, us depending on the Russians.  Until yesterday's launch.  And today's docking.   This time, the manned flight was a partnership between NASA and a commercial aerospace company founded in 2002, Space Exploration Technologies Corp, better known as SpaceX.  In the midst of a pandemic, they launched.  It wasn't the first pandemic launch, either, as there was another (Russian) launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in April.

Perhaps, our space program can get on track again, even as we battle nature (and ourselves) back at home.

We can only hope.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

If You Won't Do It During a Pandemic

I've read a saying that, in this time when much of the world was on lockdown, and we had to stay (for the most part) at home, we would have time to do whatever we wanted indoors.

Week after week passed.

We forgot what day it was.

Some of us baked.  Some of us read.  Some of us remodeled our apartments or homes, or drank (maybe too much) or rediscovered crafts, or learned to make sourdough bread from scratch.  We learned what Dalgona Coffee was, even if we didn't make it. (I didn't).

We all eventually came to one realization:

If you won't do it in a pandemic, you will never do it.

Yup.  My stack of unread books - still unread.  My bedroom - still messy. (My spouse did work on other parts of the house, while I worked from home).  My mind was still in winter mode, half asleep.

But, after our last snow in May (yes, May), things suddenly warmed up.  After three freeze warnings in a row, frosts were suddenly (we hoped) out of the picture.

It was time to rush and garden.

So, spouse and I went to the nurseries.  As much as we had tried to flatten the curve (especially with his brother having survived a COVID-19 hospitalization) flowers and veggies were calling and these businesses, considered essential in New York State, were open for business.

I remembered when, last year, I wanted to make potpourri, something I did years and years (and years) ago, and decided that potpourri material would be on the shopping list.

This year, masks were required, and we all did a dance of dodging other customers with (most of us) trying to keep social distance.

My finds:  Three scented geraniums - nutmeg, orange and pinewood (the pinewood was a repeat of last year) in this photo.  Scented geraniums are not hardy here and I have not had luck in overwintering them.

In another planter, lemon (citronella) geranium.

I am trying patchouli for the first time.  This is not its ideal clime, and I know it will die with the frost.  But I am willing to try it.
I planted sweet woodruff years ago in the most shady part of my yard.  It's perhaps too shady. It has never thrived.  It hung on, though, and, this year, I decided to do something about it.

My back has gotten pretty cranky in the last couple of weeks, and massage is not available in New York due to the pandemic.  So the harvest was a bit painful - this grows low - fortunately I had a gardening bench to help me.  

I blogged last week about my experiment in drying lilacs in cat litter.  So yesterday, I decided to dry some sweet woodruff.  It's now at the end of its blooming season so it was time to harvest.  I looked up microwave instructions and it said "place on paper towel, cover with another paper towel, then dry at 100% for 30 seconds, then in 15 second increments until fully dry.

Here the sweet woodruff is before I started to dry.  Green, it doesn't have a fragrance but once dried, it has a vanilla like scent.

It took, perhaps, two minutes, and I had to do it in several batches even for the small amount I harvested.  This is what it looked like by the time it was dry.  I put it in a small container and am keeping it for when my lilacs are dry. (I hope to report on that tomorrow).

There's more to potpourri than lilacs and sweet woodruff, though, and I have to work through that.

Gardening has become so popular, though, that our biggest area nursery is closing tomorrow, a month early.  They ran out of plants.

So...what have you done these past few months?  Do you have "When I Get Around to It" items you know now that you will never get around to?

Friday, May 29, 2020

As it May Glow #SkywatchFriday

We in the Southern Tier of New York State had a long list of weather in May - snow (yes, snow), a heat wave, three freeze warnings, thunderstorms, and later today, a cold front which will cause us to plunge back into cold weather.

May can bring some lovely sunrises and sunsets, too, but for some reason, our sunsets have, for the most part, had a lot of gold in them.

Perhaps May is trying to compete with all the yellow flowers that have bloomed this month.

Memorial Day night started like this, with a band of gold (maybe not that apparent here)

Then things got going.

And into a mini-explosion

I am joining Yogi and other sky watching bloggers at #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Lilacs #ThursdayTreeLove

The horse chestnuts are blooming today where I live, but I've blogged about them before.  I am going to return to one of my favorite flower - the lilac.

Parul of Happiness and Food hosts a #ThursdayTreeLove meme every second and fourth Thursday of the month.  It's hard to keep track of the days in these times but the calendar says it's time to post.

Some of the trees posted are from those who live in climes hotter than my clime of the Northeast United States, and I admire trees that would never be able to survive where I live.

But we have our trees of beauty, too.  Today I am featuring a plant that really isn't a tree, but it is blooming this week where I live. Actually, make it "was blooming", our hot temperatures this week have put a premature end to a lot of the blooms.

This is one of my three lilacs.  I wish there was a smell-o-blog feature where you could smell these flowers. So wonderful.

Have you ever seen a lilac up close?  Here's a peek.

There are hundreds of varieties.  Their scent brings back memories of my mother (more on that later this week.)

Their fragrance was so wonderful while it lasted.  May has sped by.  Couldn't it have stopped for a few more minutes?

Love a tree today!

Won't you join us with your tree this week?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Farewell to a Blogging Friend

Last night, I checked Facebook.  I had not seen any posts from a Facebook friend since mid-May.  The fact that she had not posted since worried me, as she loved to post on Facebook.  I also knew she suffered from a number of health problems.

So I went to her page and....found a post from her sister.  My Facebook friend  had passed away a couple of days after her last post.  The sister didn't mention the cause of death, but does it matter?

The sister invited us to tell a story about Billie.  I had met Billie in 2006, and I had only seen her a handful of times since.  The last two times I was in Florida, we couldn't connect.  But I do have a story.

Here is my Billie story. It's one I've told before and I hope you won't mind the repeat.  In the original post, from 2006, I used her name and another name, and I will do so here, too.

As newlyweds, my spouse and I moved from New York State to Tampa, Florida.  We lived there a little less than two years, and then left.

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

We took the Auto Train down. At last, we arrived in Tampa, with our then 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.  A neighborhood which 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.

Historic sign in Hyde Park Village, January 2020
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.   He had restored most of it but the bathroom was almost exactly how we had left it, 30 years before.  We couldn't believe it.

I never would have had the nerve to knock on that door.  But Billie did it for me, brushing my fears away.  And my spouse, my son, and I, were richer for it.

Flowers, Hyde Park Village, January 2020
The last words Billie wrote on her Facebook page were:  "Celebrate! Celebrate! Dance to the music..."

But right now, I can't.

RIP, Billie. You are the person who got me into serious blogging back in 2011, two years after I had started to blog, introducing me to my first blogging challenge.

Our world is poorer for your absence.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Adventures in Kitty Litter and Potpourri

Last year, I wrote this post on potpourri and rediscovering oneself.

What happened to my 2019 dreams?  Nothing.  Did I "return to my roots" and take up the hobby of potpourri making again?  Nope.  Time got away from me.  Part of it was a busy job that suddenly went into overdrive.  But that overdrive part is over now.

Fast forward a year, to a continuing pandemic, a semi-retirement (more on that one of these days) and a time when it seems everyone has discovered or rediscovered crafts and gardening.

The lilacs are blooming where I live in upstate New York.  I have three varieties on my property,  First, there is an old bush (deep purple) planted by my late neighbor who knows how many years ago along our boundary line. Another (lighter purple)  was planted by us years ago next to his.  Finally, there is a heavenly fragrant white one our other neighbor has on his boundary line. Over the years some of the bush lies on our side so we can cut from our side.

The lilacs were calling to me - Pick me! Use me! (I'll have pictures of the lilacs tomorrow).

Years ago, when I first moved here, I tried to dry lilac flowers, but found that air drying resulted in browned flowers.   This was before the Internet so I didn't have a ready research source.  Now, the Internet (and You Tube) were going to be my friend.

My research in drying flowers brought me to silica gel.  Using silica gel would preserve the color, and the drying would only take a week.  Only one problem - the pandemic.  Many stores here, except if they sell essentials such as food or gardening items, had been closed since mid March.

But as of May 15, the stores selling non essentials could be open, but only for curbside pickup.

We've not had the best of luck with non essential curbside pickup.  We realize stores are working with limited staffing and perhaps limited stock, too.  We never know what a person serving us has been through.  This is not a time for complaints. Having said that, I decided not to order from a chain crafts store (we have two of them in our community).

Substitution time.

The internet told me that I could use kitty litter.  So yesterday, I went to the supermarket.  There was a store brand of cat litter that was made from unscented silica gel, and nothing more.
It is not the fine silica gel sold in crafts stores.  "Gel" might not be the best description of this; it's more like ground rock with little blue beads in it.  (I know I'll get some comments on my description but please keep in mind this is my first experience with either silica gel or silica gel cat litter.)  So I took a plastic container and poured in a layer of the silica gel.
I took the flower cluster and snipped off the flowers.  I laid the flowers on top of the gel, then poured the gel (carefully, so it wouldn't crush the flowers) around the perimeter of the container using a small cup, then gently laid the gel on top of the flowers.

In a week, I'll see the results.

While I am at it, thank you, supermarket employees, delivery people and others, who made this project possible for me.
Have you ever made potpourri?

Monday, May 25, 2020

Gardens and Flowers #MusicMovesMe

Monday has rolled around once again and it is time for Music Moves Me.  It is also Memorial Day in the United States. 

Who are the members of Music Moves Me ?  We are bloggers who blog with music each Monday. If you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only- Please post containing links to You Tube or Vimeo for actual music.  Other posts are subject to removal or labeling as "No Music".)  Every other week we have a theme and on alternate weeks we have "You Pick".  

Our conductors? 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.  

For May, our guest conductor is Cynthia at Ccol4him's Claymania.  

Cynthia's theme for today is:  Songs about flowers and gardens.  What could be more natural for me?  I am picking songs that have flower names, or gardens, in their names.

My first song came to mind immediately.  It's an Elton John classic that moves me every time I hear it.  It was originally written to pay homage to the murdered John Lennon, and was reworded to pay homage to Princess Diana.   I chose a live performance, where he explains, at the beginning, that he doesn't sing this one that often because it upsets him so.

Here is the original:  Elton John with Empty Garden. 

This one is a classic, and the full version is so long, I decided initially to go with the single.  Then I said "Na...if they don't like it they can skip to something else".  I hope you have the time for Iron Butterfly and In-A-Gadda da Vida.

There are so many songs about flowers. 

From my early childhood, 1955 to be exact, Mitch Miller and his Orchestra and The Yellow Rose of Texas.

This song is before my time (1948) but has been covered so many times.  This is perhaps the version I remember the most:  Bert Kaempfert and Red Roses for a Blue Lady.

 I've had this one on my blog before but it is so good, here we go round again with "The Rain The Park and Other Things".  Please excuse the video; I preferred the audio of this one.

Bette Midler and The Rose.

Finally, in honor of those we remember on Memorial Day, Billy Ray Cyrus and Some Gave All.

I ask, if you live in the United States, that you consider taking a moment to remember our vets who never lived to return home this Memorial Day. 

It's a wrap!  Join me again next Monday, same time, same place!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Let Us Truly Remember

This is a portion of a post I wrote for Memorial Day, 2012, which I've repeated several times since with some new material.  Tomorrow will be a special Memorial Day we couldn't even have imagined a year ago.  It's time to revise and run this again.

Memorial Day is the holiday where we honor our war dead.  This year, it isn't just the war dead.  It's all the dead.  I wonder how many World War II vets have met their end since COVID-19 hit our shores and our nursing homes, too.
Memorial Day in the United States, sadly, had also evolved into a major shopping event for many people.  It missed the element of what it originally stood for.  But now, in states where stores are open, it's a "take your choice if you want to risk it" occasion.  And people want to get out there so badly, as they remember how things were just months ago.  Just see the pictures of crowded beaches in states with open beaches.

There are several versions of the origin of Memorial Day.  Some of the stories depend on if you were from the Federal side, or the Confederate side, of the United States Civil War (1861-1865.).  What the stories have in common is that Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day, originated in a desire to honor the sacrifice of those who died in our Civil War.  The Library of Congress lists several stories.  Here are what are perhaps the two main origin stories:

Waterloo, New York, considers itself the birthplace of Memorial Day, and has a federally recognized Memorial Day museum.  According to this story, Henry Wells, a local druggist, suggested a holiday in the fall of 1865 to honor the sacrifice of Civil War dead.  The idea gained traction, and the first Memorial Day was held on May 5, 1866.  This year, their ceremonies have been cancelled, incidentally, although New York State is permitting vehicle parades and gatherings of less than 10 people.

But there are other stories. One takes place in Mississippi, a state late a member of the Confederate States of America.  As that story goes, many of the wounded of the bloody battle of Shiloh (1862) were taken to Columbus, Mississippi.  Columbus ended up with its Friendship Cemetery full of Civil War dead of both sides.  Eventually, the Federal dead were relocated to other area cemeteries.

According to Columbus, the first Memorial Day was held on April 5, 1866, as the women of Columbus decorated the graves of both Federal and Confederate soldiers buried in Columbus.

Some states of the former Confederacy also have separate holidays, called Confederate Memorial Day, or Confederate Heroes Day.

Regardless of what the "true story" of Memorial Day is, I want to leave you with this thought for 2020 (and hoping not for 2021, too):

Each loss of life from COVID-19  diminishes each of us.  I will think of those veterans of wars, especially World War II, who gave up their late teenaged and early adult years to fight for our freedoms.  Now, many die alone, unable to have family there to ease their last moments.

Forget me nots

We may never know the true death toll of "The Rona".

Let us not forget those who have passed in the past few months.

May your Memorial Day today be a meaningful one.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Happy 125th Birthday New York Public Library

Happy 125th birthday to the New York Public Library!


No, I'm not doing a post about all the books in my house, although I should.  My son once joked I had a better selection than some book sales. Well, I think it was a joke.

Rather, I decided to blog about the place I'd rather be than anywhere in the world.  A public library.
Courtesy NYPL Digital Collections, free to use
Growing up in a city housing project in the Bronx (a borough of New York City) of the late 1950's and early 1960's, I wanted to be a librarian.  But not just any librarian.  A bookmobile librarian.

Every Thursday except during the summer, I would visit the bookmobile that stopped by my city housing project.  On the last visit before summer vacation, they would allow us to take out as many books as we wanted, and they were not due until September.

For me, Heaven!

Libraries were a haven to me.  They helped me become who I am today.   They've done that for thousands and thousands of people, perhaps millions, all over the world.

The library I grew up with was the New York Public Library.  I need to explain here that New York City, when I was growing up,  had three public library systems (actually, it still does).  Where I lived was New York Public Library territory.  There were branch libraries in various neighborhoods, and if heavy duty research was needed, I would travel downtown into Manhattan on the subway.

I moved from New York City over 45 years ago, so I haven't had a New York City library card in many, many years.

Until now.

The New York Public Library is celebrating its 125th birthday today.  Happy birthday!  Like many other milestone birthdays, the NYPL can not celebrate in person - all its libraries are closed.  But no one says we can't do it online.

A couple of weeks ago a Facebook friend told me that, for the duration of the closing, any New York State resident could get a virtual card and take out e-books.  using an Android or iOS app.  So, for the last two weeks, I have been a New York City Library cardholder.  It was simple - I downloaded the app, and the app used my phone's GPS to verify that the phone was located in New York State.  Voila!

So far, I've read The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and am partway through Educated, by Tara Westover.  I was permitted to "take out" both for 14 days.

It's my understanding that this will end when the library system reopens.  I would have to go into a branch to validate and get a physical card.  I don't live in, work in, or own property in, New York City.  Elsewhere on the site, it talks about being able to send in proof of New York STATE residency.  I'm a bit confused, but I won't let that bother me.

I'm once again a proud card-carrying member of the library of my youth.

We all take local buildings and institutions for granted.  After all, they are there, we pass them every day, and we take them for granted. Even I do, sometimes.   But now, they are closed (at least in New York State) "until further notice".  Just when we need them more than ever.

Local public libraries face many challenges today.  Their funds are constantly being cut.  People are loathe to vote in the tax increases they need to survive.  But these libraries are, increasingly, so much more than a place where you can walk in with a card and walk out with one or more books to read.  They provide internet access, wi-fi,  computers for those who don't own one, job hunting services, e books, CDs and DVDs, magazines, free tax preparation done by volunteers, free databases, and so much more. One of our local libraries even features yoga classes and a knitting group.  At least, in better times, it did.

In fact, the photo I started this post with is from a digital collection of the New York (City) Public Library, and anyone can down load it, free of charge.

As I used to say in the 60's, "isn't that awesome?"

Thank you, libraries, and again, Happy 125th, NYPL.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Spring is Still Spring #SkywatchFriday

No matter what we humans are up to, spring is still spring.

Skies are still skies, except, at this time of year, they compete with flowering trees.  I admit it.  I try to take pictures of the trees and sneak peeks at the sky so I can use them on my Skywatch posts.

Clouds can be low, along a normally busy middle school field.
Or high, like wisps.

They can be in a park, with a hill in the distance.

Or they can be on the side of a main street normally heavily traveled, but it wasn't on this day earlier in the month when we were still on New York's "pause".

Wherever they are, we sometimes take them for granted.  But I don't, not any more.

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

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Signs of The Rona Times

I feel like I'm living in several different realities.

A few minutes ago, I saw an ad for a local furniture store which is part of a chain.  The last time I saw one of their ads, New York (the state of New York - I don't live in New York City) was still shut down and the store was closed.  Their ad was along the lines of "we look forward to being back".

Now, we are almost a week into the Phase One reopening.  We can't go into furniture stores but they can deliver stock to us.   The ad - you wouldn't have known anything was changed except for the offer of "fast, safe and no touch delivery".  So, how does a furniture store do no touch delivery?  Do they levitate the furniture into your house?  I can't help thinking about silly things like that.

If you watch TV you see a mix of things.  Some ads being shown were definitely made before COVID-19 (which more and more people here are calling "The Rona".) They feature friends having lots of fun without masks, and while touching each other, or people at a restaurant, or at a local pool.  Some ads thank the first responders, a holdover from the shutdown.  Some ads assure you of the safe delivery of their product, whether it is pizza, a new car, or (now) furniture.  We even have a dentist who does implants advertising online consultations for when he can finally do the work he does again.

Things are reopening in the country, in some states more than others, and I think people have decided that they want nothing more than things to go back to normal.

So spouse and I decide to go to the park, and this is what we see:  lots of people enjoying sunshine, people at picnic tables (we can have gatherings of 10 or less now, but masks are needed if social distance can't be maintained)  and people strolling jogging, or even playing tennis (tennis is permitted now.)  And then, in nearby neighborhoods, there are even more signs of the times.
No large picnics in shelters.

No bocci ball.

At least people working in hospitals and nursing homes are still heroes, at least on signs.

Children still draw on the sidewalk with chalk, The Rona or no Rona.

This was April.  Now, it's loosening - a little.

All these realities weave and interweave.  We are at the intersection of multiple realities. We want so badly to interact with each other again and we can do this, but not that.  That, but not this.

We are all feeling the pull towards "let's find a new normal".  I know I am. 
It is wonderful, as long as the downward trend of New York State lasts. Let's hope it does and that the curve doesn't start to rise again.  Hope....because the alternative is unpleasant to think of.

In the meantime, I choose to live life on the terms I am comfortable with.  I'm blessed to be in a position to be able to.  Not everyone is.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Wildflower Wednesday Spring #WordlessWednesday

Years ago, I spent part of a year posting Wildflower Wednesday.  This Wednesday I decided to do it again.

A brief walk on a floodwall near where I live.  It's along the Susquehanna River, and besides the geese, dogwalkers like to frequent the wall.  When I take my lunchbreak (working from home for now), I walk there with my spouse.  It's usually empty at noontime - just us, some robins, and some geese.

And wildflowers, such as toothwort.  They like the slope of the wall, so it was a little hard to photograph.

Dandelions are so common, you might ask, why photograph them? Here's why.

Finally, forget me nots.  No, I won't forget you.  I won't forget this day, or this year, or this time.

These are little wild treasures for our enjoyment. Even as the lockdown eases, it is not ready to sound the "All Clear". Stay safe and healthy, my dear readers.

Join Sandee at Comedy Plus for #WordlessWednesday.

Join Esha and Natasha for their #WordlessWednesday.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Great Novel of Coronavirus

Novel coronavirus.  COVID-19.

Let's turn this around.  Coronavirus novel.

One day, someone will write the great novel that will explain the time of our almost worldwide shutdown, the Great Drifttime (I made that up), the great shift in reality, when humanity shut itself away in an effort to stem the rapid rise in contagion.  I won't be that author, but we've all been in this.  Not together (I hate those "we are all in this together" ads because it's not true - our experiences and circumstances all differ) but we are all in this.

Some were able to work from home, or were of retirement age, or were in positions of power.

For many others, though, this time has been horror, be it due to health problems, exposure to domestic abuse, unemployment, loneliness, or an essential worker plunged into a situation where they could be exposed.

Who will write the Great Coronavirus novel that will express our feelings our experiences? It seems like it would probably need to be written by someone who has experienced COVID-19 firsthand.

Not yet.  But it will happen.  We will get that novel.

It appears pandemics do influence literature, but in ways we may not realize. 

There is something else I have been wondering about.

In my teenaged and 20's, I was a reader of a lot of SF (Science Fiction).  The best SF supposes "what if X happens?" and proceeds to answer it.  What if there is a plague that eliminates women?  Or eliminates men?  Or affects our ability to reproduce?  Or what if there was a pandemic that put civilization on hold?

I got to wondering if any SF had supposed a society where people voluntarily lived alone.  I remembered such a series from my long ago years of SF - the Spacer culture, as imagined by the late, great author Isaac Asimov.

The Spacers (actually, a term for several cultures of humanity who had colonized other planets) lived alone not because of a pandemic, but for other reasons.  They had chosen to live apart of others and it became part of their culture.  The Spacers did last for a few hundred years, but their culture was not sustainable.

We will have to find a way through an illness that is being fought in ways contrary to our very natures as a social creature. 

So - the great Coronavirus novel.  Who do you think might write it?

Monday, May 18, 2020

Songs that Move #MusicMovesMe

Monday has rolled around again.  It's time for Music Moves Me!

Who are the members of Music Moves Me ?  We are bloggers who blog with music each Monday. If you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only- Please post containing links to You Tube or Vimeo for actual music.  Other posts are subject to removal or labeling as "No Music".)  Every other week we have a theme and on alternate weeks we have "You Pick".  

Our conductors? 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.  

For May, our guest conductor is Cynthia at Ccol4him's Claymania.  

Cynthia's theme for today is: "You Pick".

I pick songs that have moved me in some way over the years, plus one "just because".

The just because song:  Let's escape to the tune of The Beach Boys and Wouldn't It Be Nice."  Yes, wouldn't it be nice...

I'm starting with a song that I've had on the blog before.  Green Day and Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

Originally from the Broadway musical Carousel, this has become an unofficial anthem of the last few months, especially in Great Britain. "You'll Never Walk Alone" has been covered many times - I chose the 1963 version from Gerry and the Pacemakers that seems the most popular right now.

Atreyu - The Time is Now.

The incomparable Vera Lynn (still alive at age 103) and "Land of Hope and Glory" (the song begins almost a minute into the video.)  We Americans know the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance" which we use for graduations, so I thought this song would be appropriate today.

One more:  Randy Newman and his social distancing song "Stay Away". 

Once again, it's a wrap.  Join me again next Monday, same time, same place!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Snow and Spring

Warm weather has reached my part of upstate New York.  Considering that it was snowing last weekend, it's more than welcome.

Just in case you are wondering what a May snowfall looks like, here are some views.  Seeds are planted in two of these pots and pansies and violas in the third.  None were harmed.

There was enough to cling to shrubs. (those spots to the right are snow falling)
A snow squall coming in (it looks like fog in the distance)

Another flower planter.

My back yard, complete with compost bin.  It's shady back there so it isn't suitable for a garden.

Right now, eight days later, it's nearly 80 degrees, and I think we've turned the corner.  Spring at last!  I spent part of today planting planters, while spouse did other chores, including planting some cucumbers.

It's hard to stay positive sometimes, especially with a lot of what is happening on social media.  It's going to be a rough next few months; we can't get away from that.  But we must hope better times are coming.  A week after the snow, a tree in my front yard reminded me of that.

We are all in this.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Binghamton In the Time of the Pandemic

Submitted for your approval.

Binghamton, New York, a city of about 47,000. people, the boyhood home of Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame. 

Its downtown had seen better days, but was on its way back up.  Older buildings had been renovated.  The streets were filled with cars. There was a lack of parking. At lunch, the streets were filled with a blend of office workers, students, people who lived downtown, and the occasional panhandler. 

A senior citizen, AM, was at her desk in downtown Binghamton, on March 19 when she received a phone call.  "We are coming to pack you up right now, so you can work from home."  She knew the pandemic had come, and she quickly packed up her desk and called her spouse while someone came to unhook her computer.  "Take pictures of what I'm doing" the tech person said, "so you can hook everything back up when you get home."  Her spouse called and said he was waiting.  She said quick goodbyes to her officemates.  There was no time to think.

Her equipment went in two boxes and a tech brought it to the front door.  AM packed the third box and went outside to open the trunk of their vehicle.  The cargo area was filled with bags of cow manure meant for their garden but forgotten in the rapidly approaching pandemic.

The cargo area was rearranged and office equipment loaded, and they sped off to their home.

AM and her spouse wouldn't see the downtown again until May 14.  Spring had come.  The flag was at half staff to honor those who had perished due to COVID-19.   It's hard to see, but the parking spots were mostly empty.  A few pedestrians, some masked, some not, walked. 

The restaurants - some closed, some devoted to helping to feed hungry schoolchildren.  Those that served the public could only do take out and delivery.  A florist and credit union next to this bakery were both closed.  The world had continued on while AM had mostly stayed at home.

One non profit had three "we are closed" signs on its windows. A nearby art gallery had a simple sign: "Next First Friday October."

The wind blew.  An occasional young mother passed, wheeling a stroller.

Masked, AM walked to the courtyard where she ate lunch on nice days.  She was hoping a magnolia that always bloomed late would be still blooming.  It was way past peak, but still had blooms.
It had waited for her.

The roundabout downtown was deserted.  She stood on the road and took a picture.  Courthouse center, old City Hall (vacant) on the right.

AM knew she wouldn't be permitted into the building where she worked for nearly 22 years.  About 15% of the office was still in there and they had to be protected.  She walked to the front door and peered into the front lobby.  It was empty.

One of her favorite downtown buildings, built in 1904.  How empty was it?

The church on the left, Christ Episcopal, dates from 1854. AM has visited it a number of times to admire its stained glass windows. Its architect, Richard Upjohn, was also involved in the design of the present Trinity Church in downtown Manhattan.   The parking lot below it is normally full.

 If you look to the right of the church, there is a beautiful mural to the right.  One of those buildings houses a wonderful restaurant.  It only started to reopen (for take out) this past week.

You have just viewed some of downtown Binghamton, New York, a city like many in our United States.  It has faced the fear of COVID-19 head on.  Now, its citizens look forward to the day when they can walk the streets without masks, a day when the restaurants and bars will be open and this spring day of deserted buildings and almost empty streets will be a distant memory.  Until then, the time will pass for us, in the age of COVID-19, within the Twilight Zone.

Friday, May 15, 2020

May Dreams Come True #SkywatchFriday #GardenBloggersBloomDay

What a day today is going to be.  It's Friday, so I watch the sky.  It's the 15th of the month, so I admire and post pictures of my flowers.  But best (I hope) of all,  it's the day our region of upstate New York will be permitted limited reopenings (the first of four phases) after two months of almost total shutdown due to our pandemic.

We are some 150 miles from New York City so our story is not the story of New York City and their horrific death toll.  They won't be starting their reopening until June 6 at the earliest.
Yesterday, I visited downtown Binghamton, New York, where I worked.  It's the first time I have been downtown since the morning of March 19, when I left my office suddenly, with a co worker helping me to carry out my computer equipment. My spouse loaded up our vehicle.  Things were moving so quickly. (I'll devote a post to it tomorrow.)
The parking lot here is normally full.  The church in the background...well, come back tomorrow.

Now, two months later, spring has come.  We northerners live for May, although much of this May has been cold.  In fact, it snowed on Saturday.  What follows are the blooms in my zone 5b upstate New York garden.

Daffodils start us off.

My different types of brunneria.
Primrose.  Only these made it through the winter.  My other colors didn't.

My one trillium.  Will it ever open fully?  I need to go back and see how many years I've had it for.

Dead nettle.

White bleeding heart.

Late daffodils.

This daffodil has been hanging on and hanging on, thanks to our cold weather up to now.

Pansy and viola collage.

Every GBBD post must have a mystery plant.  This has been growing in my backyard for years, lost in the mists of my memory.
Variegated Jacob's Ladder, getting ready to bloom.
Grape hyacinth.

There's more but I am exhausted.  It's wonderful when I can go from scrounging around the house for anything this.  I am grateful, and even more grateful for curbside pickup (thank you, Nanticoke Gardens, for the pansies!)

Joining with Yogi and other sky watchers at #SkywatchFriday.

Thank you, Carol at May Dreams Gardens, for hosting this meme once again.

May all your May dreams be pleasant ones.