Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Gone But Still Alive Online

Yesterday, I went on LinkedIn, and saw a request to celebrate someone's work anniversary.  There was only one problem - that someone had died in May after a short illness. I don't know if it was COVID-19 related but it really doesn't matter.  I was her friend "IRL" (in real life) and on Facebook and that's how I knew she had passed.  In fact, I found out via a message her sister had posted.

From reading several posts, I quickly realized some of the people who had wished her a happy anniversary had no idea that she (let's call her "X") was no longer around to read their congratulations.  Her employer had posted a "We miss you, X" message but I have a feeling, due to privacy concerns, they could not reveal that "X" was deceased.

In December of 2012 I blogged the below.  Some things don't change.  The post follows, with some edits.

"When I came home from work tonight, I found a post on Facebook from a cousin who graduated from a local college last year.  She was mourning the death of a fellow classmate.    In other words, my cousin was announcing the death of someone who died - as we older people like to say - too soon.

I don't know how this young woman died, but a quick look online revealed two things.

First, I was a third degree connection of hers on LinkedIn.  The person linking us used to work with me and now works at the college she intended.

Second, my cousin was her friend on Facebook, meaning she was a friend of a friend of mine.

Because of these connections, I was able to see her picture on LinkedIn, and was able to view her timeline on Facebook. (Least this sound creepy, I didn't linger long- I just wanted to know something about this person who meant something to one of my cousins and who was linked to me through social media.) Meantime, her college has organized a candlelight vigil for her in physical life.

I can mourn the untimely passing of someone I never knew thanks to social media.

When I graduated from high school, many of those in my graduating class went on to college.  Two members of my class died within a year, both on the same weekend, in unrelated car accidents.

I didn't find out about this (because I didn't know either individual) for many years later. I went to an urban high school in New York City, and there were a lot of people in my graduating class.

Now, we know something like this in hours."

In a way, "Q" will live forever through her social networking accounts. But it may not be the way she wanted.

It (again) made me think what I should do about my own accounts.  Facebook does provide a way to appoint a "legacy contact". 

For LinkedIn, it is more complex, and your contact might actually have to violate their terms of service, which seems ridiculous.

Have you made these plans?

Monday, June 29, 2020

Sowing the Seeds on Baker Street With Funky Music and Silence #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and it's time for another episode of Music Moves Me.

Who are the members of Music Moves Me ?  We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday. If you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join!  Just remember our simple rule:  you must include at least one You Tube or Vimeo video or your post may be subject to removal or labeling "NO MUSIC". You are welcome to write about music. too but we need that video!

So let's get started.

This is the last Monday Michelle from Musings and Merriment from Michelle is guest hosting.  Thank you, Michelle.  For this Monday Michelle chose a "You Pick" week.  So, hee hee, we can do whatever we want.

I'm in a 70's and 80's kind of mood right now and I want to be moved, so I will start with a song that I think I've had on my blog before.  If I did, it's good enough for a rerun.  Here is "Sowing The Seeds of Love" from Tears for Fears.  It's from 1989 but that is still the 80's.

When this song came out, I never realized how political the lyrics were.  Listening to it now, with pandemic ears, it has a whole new meeting.  So, if this doesn't meet your political views, I hope you can still groove with the tune.

Time for another long one, this time from 1978 and Gerry Rafferty.  I heard Baker Street on a fellow Music Moves Me'er's blog last week so I guess it's going to be another rerun. I love the saxophone in this song.

Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go, by Soft Cell.  This was released in 1981 in Great Britain and 1982 in the United States.  There are several extended versions on You Tube, but I like the original version (and yes, they are covering The Supremes' Where Did Our Love Go in the second part) better than the remixes.

Now, let's speed it up.

From 1976 comes Wild Cherry, with Play That Funky Music.  This song will always bring back memories for me, and I wonder if anyone can solve a mystery.  (Incidentally, this is the story behind this big hit.)

My spouse was in the Air Force in 1976, stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base, which was, and is still, a training base located in Wichita Falls, Texas.  Various bands played the Airman's Club there.  One band was Vince Vance and the Valients, and they were soooooo good.  When they played this song (we saw them there several times and always made a point to show up when they performed), the crowd went wild.  I wonder if this was the same band  who went on to have a hit with "All I Want for Christmas is You."

So, do I have time for one more? I sure do, and this song just barely is a 1980's song - recorded in 1989, released in 1990.  So let's Enjoy the Silence with Depeche Mode.  Even though this post wasn't that silent...
That's a late June wrap.

You know the drill, people!    Same time next week, same place!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Veggie Flowers

A short visual treat for my readers this afternoon- flowers of the garden.

We wait for their crops but the flowers come first, and make it all possible.

Bolting Asian cabbage (perhaps tatsoi; these were given to us) attracting a cabbage butterfly.

Pepper flowers hang down, so I gave it a little encouragement.


Potato flowers.  We eat the tubers, but potato plants will also bloom.
Bean flowers.

These are all from our community garden plots in zone 5b Binghamton, New York.

I no longer grow okra but when I lived in hotter climes (Kansas and Arkansas) I did and their beautiful, showly flowers look so similar to hisbiscus.  I understand (but haven't tried them myself) the flowers are edible.

Because I didn't go out to take pictures until late morning, it was too late for squash flowers (they close up in the late morning) but I have eaten them many times.

There are also edible ornamental flowers such as nasturtiums, but mine aren't blooming yet.

How do you use garden flowers, if you use them?  Cutting? For food or flavoring?

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Pandemic Library

Some of our libraries where I live in the Southern Tier of New York State (the part bordering Pennsylvania) are going to reopen next week, so that patrons can actually go into the building.  Up to now (for us, it's just been for the past two or three weeks), it's only been curbside pickup.

I've been depending on magazines I hoarded saved for later and never read, plus taking out eBooks from the New York City public library.  I have to say, I enjoyed the books I was able to read from the library system of my youth, but I wanted something I could hold and read the old-fashioned way.

Finally, yesterday, I called just as Your Home Library (Johnson City, New York) opened and was the librarian on the other end of the phone helpful.

I've blogged before about Your Home Library and want to share some pictures (pre-pandemic) with you, but first, a brief history.

This vintage library dates from March of 1917, meaning, first, that it celebrated its 103rd birthday (in the original building, may I add) as we were locking down and second, it means that it was operating during the flu pandemic of 1918.  It's seen prosperity and it's seen bad times.
Some original furniture

Part of the building, in fact, dates from 1885, and there is original furniture from the 1917 opening still in use (or was, up to now.)
More Vintage

There was a book called "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi, that I took out just a couple of days before our libraries closed down in March.  I read it during our lockdown, loved it, and noted it was the first book of a series. I tried to get the second book but it was on (seemingly) perpetual reserve status.  But I have it now, in physical form, along with a couple of new magazines.

I'm pumped.  Starting Monday, I can actually go in there for 15 minutes at a visit, and browse (mask required).  Who would have thought a small thing like that would have been so exciting.

This library survived the 1918 flu pandemic and it will survive this pandemic, too.  It wasn't easy, but it (and our community) has survived a lot.

Hard times still lie ahead, but we will get through this.

Friday, June 26, 2020

First Day of Summer Rainbow #SkywatchFriday

On the first sunset of summer, nature presented a gift to us in the Binghamton area of upstate New York.

Spouse had noted the beautiful golden light streaming into our living room window, and made the rare offer of accompanying me to watch the sunset.
But when I turned to the east, the sunset was forgotten for a minute.

Then we started our walk west, looking back towards the rainbow.

We continued our walk...
Past a pair of catalpa trees.

The rainbow stretched across the sky...

And gave a last bow.  It started to disappear shortly after I took this last photo.

What a welcome to summer gift we were given that evening.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Catalpa Crown #ThursdayTreeLove

It's the 90th Thursday Tree Love for Parul at Happiness and Food, and I am going to celebrate by featuring a native tree to our area which is in bloom right now.  My neighbor has two of them and I am so happy to see them in bloom.
June 21, 2020

The catalpa.  (The utility pole gives you a sense of how tall they can get.)

If it looks familiar, I've blogged about them before.
More than once. 

Here are a couple of more pictures.  Let's get a little closer.

And still closer.

It doesn't quite wear a crown, but it is royalty.

Want more lovely trees in your day?  Head on over to Parul's blog (link above) and see what other tree lovers have posted.

And if you want to join in, we are live every second and fourth Thursday of the month.  I'll be back on July 9 with more Tree Love.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Smoke and Mountains #WordlessWednesday

I'm taking a shortcut today.

Our area of upstate New York enters our Phase 4 (the last phase, although now we aren't so sure about that) Friday, but today I travel thousands of miles for my picture.  Well, not my picture....

My spouse's cousin K. in Albuquerque, New Mexico sent me this photo.  It was taken last Thursday about 7:20 am.

This haze, I believe, is from the Woodbury fire in Arizona.   A fire hundreds of miles away, it obscures the Sandia Mountains barely visible above the building.  Scary, but awesome.

Linking with Sandee at Comedy Plus.

Happy Wednesday and hope you are staying safe.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Please Don't Test Taste the Cherries

I know.  Our new normal.  One we never could have imagined even eight months ago.

We've been asked to change many of our behaviors, from handwashing, to being physically close to people, to not touching surfaces.

We've been asked to get used to many shortages.

It isn't just food.  Shortages people have talked with me about recently include (or I've experienced) include:
Air conditioners
Disinfectant Wipes
Liquid soap
Above ground pools
New cars (according to a local car dealer, these shortages are coming sooner than later).
Sometimes, kindness.

Thousands and thousands still wait for unemployment checks.  Or wait to be called back (hopefully) to work.

And then, other times: signs of hope.

Elective surgeries are in full swing where I live.

Hair salons are open (although I haven't gone yet).

One local library is reopening (to go inside) on June 29, with strict rules and limits.  (Does this mean I'll lose my virtual access to the New York City public library soon? Right now if you don't live in the City you can still get a virtual card, if you live in NY State.)

Our local supermarket, on Saturday, was once again allowing self serve of single donuts, cookies, and bagels. (The last time I saw that was in mid-March).

But there are things that just aren't in our nature and we have to be reminded not to do.

How many of us are physical shoppers who must touch everything before purchase?  How many of us are secret fruit tasters?  I'm not, but, obviously, many of us are.

Because, the other day, I saw this sign in the supermarket:

No taste testing the cherries in the store!

(In all fairness, they don't want you to taste-test the grapes, either.)

Admit it.  I won't judge.  Is this you?

Monday, June 22, 2020

We'll Meet Again Some Sunny Day #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and it's time for another episode of 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!

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.  

(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 guest conductor for June is Michelle from Musings and Merriment.

Michelle has picked for her theme:  "Songs to honor World Music Day.  Music from around the world."

I could be a little lazy and feature rock and pop only, but I am not going to do that.

Here's a link to Make Music Day, an event that was totally free and open to anyone.

Since this celebration started in France, let's start with a French music hit: Edith Piaf and "La Vie En Rose".

From Senegal, Viviane Chididand "Do Dara"

From Australia, No Fixed Address brings a blend of Australian aboriginal and reggae:  sample this song, We Have Survived.

From Italy, Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu, better known to us as "Volare", sung by Domenico Modugno.

From 1990, Enigma and Sadeness.  Gregorian chants, anyone?  The language is Latin.

Olox, from Siberia, thrilled the America's Got Talent audience this past week with their performance of the Cranberries' Zombie.  We've already been introduced to The Hu from Mongolia, which I've featured on one of my Music Moves Me posts.

This theme was a perfect time to pay tribute to Dame Vera Lynn, legendary singer from Great Britain, who passed away last week at the age of 103.  This recording of her most iconic song (We'll Meet Again, from World War II) was made during the Coronavirus lockdown in 2020 and has Dame Vera Lynn introducing the video and also ending it.  RIP.

How about some K-Pop? Here is BTS from 2016 with Blood Sweat and Tears.

I will end with a South Korean mega mega hit from 2012 - Psy (a South Korean rapper) and Gangnam Style.

This is a rap and a wrap!

See you next week for another episode of Music Moves Me!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Historical Fathers

During the 150th anniversary of the war I had a Civil War Sunday feature.  This is a repeat of a blog post from 2011 (with some minor editing)  about well known Civil War figures but in a less well known setting - their role as fathers.

We know these people as statues, and many, now, as people who enslaved other people. (We always knew this, but chose to bury that most uncomfortable fact). But history is complex.   These historical figures were also people, with all their strengths and weaknesses.  That's an uncomfortable truth, too.

Some facts about life in the mid 19th century.

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.  And, 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 was the case with all the below Civil War figures.
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.  (Mary Todd Lincoln, for example.)  There was not much that could be done in those days for depression.

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.  
Again, I highly recommend this book if you are interested in the people of the Civil War.
Colorized Photo of Lincoln by Matthew Brady, Tioga County, New York Historical Society
United States President Abraham and wife Mary Lincoln had four sons.  Only two outlived their father.  One beloved son, Willie, died while Abraham Lincoln was in the White House and both Abraham and Mary took the death very hard. 

Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his wife Varina had six children, four boys and two girls.  None of the boys outlived their parents.  Jefferson Davis's son Joseph, died at the age of 5 in April of 1864 from injuries suffered in a fall from the Confederate Executive Mansion.

Union General 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.  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."

Finally, Confederate general 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.

I need to add a postscript to this - the people that were enslaved by some of these figures.  They are lost to history, buried in unmarked graves on plantations and other places, north and south. (Yes, the Northern United States had legalized slavery, too.) They fathered children and knew they might lose them to disease and accidents, but also the children could be sold "down the river", never to be seen by their fathers (and mothers) again.  Today, these unknown fathers deserved to be remembered, too.

History is a lot more than dry statistics and memorization of battle dates.  It is the people, their culture, and events and how people react and are affected by them.  We should all be thankful that modern medicine spares many modern parents what these people of 150 years ago had to go through as fathers (and mothers).

Happy Father's Day to all who celebrate.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

How Does Your Summer Garden Grow?

Summer arrives later this afternoon.  Those who have planted victory gardens this season have a good idea how they are going to do.

For my spouse and I, it's a mixed report.  First, the (hopeful) successes.

We community garden in Binghamton, New York, zone 5b. We've purchased plots in community gardens for the past thirty or so years (except for a few year stretch when the garden was discontinued and then relocated.)  Because of my back issues, I've been limited in gardening until this year, when our community garden (under new management) built more raised beds for those with physical limitations, and I was able to rent one.  Spouse maintains what I call the "main" garden, which is in the ground.

This is what "my" raised bed looked like yesterday.  Starting from the bottom of the picture and working up, you'll see zinnias, a cabbage plant, several rows of beans, yellow zinnias (more on them shortly) peppers, tomatoes, more cabbage, and eggplants.  The last four were purchased as starts.
In my spouse's main garden, potato plants.
Zahara Double Yellow Zinnias - not the best for cutting but I liked them
We grow zinnias in the community garden because, for some reason, we can't seem to grow zinnias at home from seed.  Don't ever feel guilty about growing ornamental flowers in a garden - they have their place, attracting beneficial insects and providing cut flowers (if you don't have allergies) for your table.

Onion plants are one of our most successful community crops - this was taken before a well deserved weeding.  I helped with this (using a portable bench) and am paying the price.  I'm writing this blog post with a heating pad on my back.

But we've had our shares of failures, too.  That's part of the gardening game.  Don't be discouraged when you have failures.

Weeds - at least one of us is there several times a week, and it's been a good year for them. 

Not shown - beans in the ground level garden - something nibbled on them and we have them under row covers right now. 

A first planting of carrots in the raised bed never germinated - might have dried out. (This is my first attempt with raised beds - perhaps three feet tall).  Cilantro - almost no germination, perhaps for the same reason.

We tried to grow cabbage from seed in the raised bed - something ate all but one of the seedlings. We had to buy plants.

We are trying to grow more plants at home in pots (we don't have a lot of room in full sun, plus we have a bad groundhog problem.  Mixed results.  Something (squirrels, I think) loves to try to roll around in the pots.  We lost our swiss chard and parsley from seed that way.

But the cucumbers (bottom of photo) are good so far.   So are my two tomato plants - one called Fourth of July and the other a patio variety.

So, it is work.  A lot of work.

Advice?  Don't plant and forget.  Spend time each day with your plants, if you can, so you can identify problems early on and take action.

Have you tried to garden for the first time this year?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Goodbye to Spring #SkywatchFriday

Summer starts tomorrow.

It's going to be such a different summer than almost any summer in our lives, we can all agree.

But sunrises are still sunrises, and sunsets are still sunsets, and nature puts on a show for us whether we are watching or not.

I've been negligent on my sunrises (asleep, mostly) and sunsets (too tired) but on Wednesday night, I literally dragged myself out there, barefoot (not a great idea), to watch what was unfolding.
The sun angle isn't convenient to get to the action where my house is situated, but I didn't want to walk too far.  Here, I think it was about 10 minutes before sunset.
And there are those pesky overhead wires.
A few minutes later, it was coloring up (same view as picture #1)
I walked west a little more.

A different angle.

Good night, sun.

Today would have been my late best friend's birthday.  I bid, on her birthday, farewell to spring, and hope for positive change in our world.  Every day, every sunrise, every sunset, is a chance to make our world better.

Joining Yogi and the other bloggers who watch the sky each Friday on #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Roses 2020

There are so many sad/angry things I could blog about today, but I am going to blog about roses.

Roses are in full bloom where I live in upstate New York.  We have a local botanical gardens called Cutler Botanic Garden, located in Binghamton, New York.

Although if you look them up it says "temporarily closed" that's only for their classes and special events.  The grounds themselves are open - and free.  It's small but who cares?

It's become one of my traditions to show what is blooming.  I went a little earlier than normal this year -last Friday - to see what was in bloom.  Some of these are heirlooms.  Some have a fantastic scent.
My favorite of these - Belle de crèche.

Balance double de Coubert.  This rugosa dates from around 1892.

Belle poitevine with Bee (bottom flower).  This is a rugosa rose from 1894.
Claire Matin.  Not an old heirloom climbing rose - dates from 1960.
From the 1830's, Félicité Parmentier
Finally, Harrison's yellow, possibly from the 1820's.

So many colors.

It's true - the best things in life are not that far from you.  We are fortunate to have this treasure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Shopping Chalk Art #WordlessWednesday

A store called Home Goods closed, due to Coronavirus, from mid March until last Thursday, when it reopened.

Someone had chalked some art near the store entrance, where people would be social distancing on line to get into the store.  Chalk art is nothing new during the pandemic but this is the first retail example I've seen near where I live in the Binghamton, New York area.
Staying positive can be hard sometimes.

When the store reopened, there was a long line to get in.  The black marks are social distancing markers.

Ariel? With a mask?  Why not.

We in my part of New York State are in "phase 3" of reopening.  Up to now, all our shopping has had to be online, with curbside pickup only, except for "essential" businesses such as those selling food or some other necessities.  Now, stores can be open at reduced capacity.  I haven't tried yet, especially after I saw those lines at the store above (they were closed when I took these pictures) the day they reopened.

Retail art.
Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for #WordlessWednesday.