Friday, July 31, 2020

Where The Path Lead #SkywatchFriday

Skywatch Friday, hosted every Friday by Yogi, brings together bloggers who watch the sky.  So, when I posted about a flood wall path last Friday, I was not expecting my readers to zero in on a path along a floodwall in my area of upstate New York.  I wondered where it went and my readers wanted to know.

So, is today the beginning of a new meme called Pathwatch Friday?  Not really.  But what I am going to show you demonstrates a truth that photography has taught me.  Enjoy.

I took these pictures on one side of the flood wall.

It's really pretty along the river, where the Queen Anne's Lace is blooming.

Love those puffy clouds and that blue river.  If you see little dots in the river, those are birds floating along.

And then, there's the other side of the flood wall.  Let's change our view just a little.

What I was showing you before is on the left.  Let's switch to the right.  Do you see something in the far right middle?

We are getting close to the end here.  You can barely see a highway. Actually, at this point, the path was disappearing under tall weeds, and I didn't want to get a tick on me.  So I stopped before the very end.  The truth is, one side of the path looks over the back of an outdoor shopping plaza and the path dead ends at a main thoroughfare.

There's a lesson here.  If you look beyond the obvious, you may find views well worth photographing.

Want more?  Click the link to Yogi's blog at the top of my post and happy skywatching!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Garden Updates July 30 2020

I don't blog a lot about our (spouse and my) gardens, and yet my Twitter handle is @RamblinGarden.  I need to do this some more.

Spouse and I have several gardens in zone 5b upstate New York: flower gardens around our house on our small urban/suburban property (and several veggies in pots), and two plots in a community garden.  One is in the ground and the other (mine) is in a raised bed and is perfect for someone like me who has back issues.

Many people have tried to garden for the first time this year.  As they have probably found by now, it ain't necessarily easy.  We've been fighting deer at the community garden (they especially seem to enjoy our filet beans).  Groundhogs and rabbits are challenges, too.  I wish I could give you good solutions.

I wanted to send some garden photos to a cousin in New York City and now I will share with you.  These are the photos that will keep me going when winter comes.  This is the season for storing up memories.
First, let's visit my raised bed garden in our local community garden.  Of course there are flowers, such as this white zinnia.  I thought I would show zinnias first.  Doesn't almost everyone like zinnias?
Candystick zinnia.

White eggplant (If you grow your own, why stick with the usual?)
Small bite peppers.
Yellow squash in spouse's ground level garden.  (The flowers are edible, too, although this year we haven't eaten any.)

Back to the raised bed.  Beans.  Liquid Fence spray did the trick for a while, but the deer have decided it won't stop them.

But you don't need to have a garden to garden.  If you have a yard, a sunny spot, and some pots, you can do it, too.  We have a big groundhog problem but, knock on wood, they haven't bothered these.

Swiss chard.

And tomatoes.

We are also growing cucumbers and summer squash in containers, but haven't had the greatest results.

If you want to read more about our container garden experiences, I can do a post on that.  If you want that, please let me know in the comments.

Do you garden?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Sunflowers and Bees #WordlessWednesday

This is supposed to be a Wordless Wednesday. So I should just post my pictures and then go away. But I always have to talk a little.

There's nothing like a sunflower with a bee on it, photographed against a blue sky.

Except for four sunflowers photographed against that sky.

Even then, can they compete against this sunflower and bee?

These are in our community garden plot in upstate New York.  We've been community gardening for some 30 years now.  Hard to believe.

These sunflowers make me happy.  I wish these sunflowers could change the world and take all its pain away.

It can't.  But you have to admit, they make the world a better place.  And, they make the bees (and later, with their seeds, the birds) happy.

Linking up with Sandee at Comedy Plus, for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Blueberry Crisp

Guess what I did Friday?  Spouse and I went blueberry picking again.
Like last week, we picked Bluecrop blueberries at our favorite U Pick location.

Blueberry skies once again, and social distancing, greeted us.  We got there just when they opened, something we can do as retired people (even though I work part time), fortunately.  Blueberry picking is very popular here, and I'm happy to say everyone around us complied. 

When we got home, we tasted them and decided they were a bit tart.  They would be great for baking.

Spouse asked me to make a Blueberry Fool, but when we realized just how caloric fools are, I did a little research for a lighter recipe.  I decided to make a Blueberry Crisp.

I've made apple/blackberry crisps, and apple/pear crisps, and once I even made an apple/blueberry crisp.  This time, after doing some research, I found a crisp that used only fresh blueberries (nothing added) and a topping similar to one I've made before.  I decided to make some tweaks (of course) - I increased the amount of fruit, and because I didn't have enough light buttery spread, I used unrefined coconut oil (a solid) for part of the required light buttery spread.

Here's the recipe:

Into an 8 inch square metal pan add 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, washed. 

Topping (mix together until well blended).

1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp light buttery spread
2 tbsp unrefined coconut oil (it was a hot day, we didn't have the air conditioning on and it was easy to manipulate) - use unrefined to get the taste of coconut.

Take the topping and spoon on top of the blueberries.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Let cool, or eat warm.

For some tastes, this may be too tart. For me, it was perfect. If it is a little too tart, don't hesitate to serve with whipped cream on top.

There was just one problem.  I am on Weight Watchers (WW), and e I have to watch the Smartpoints.  This is a lifetime process.

And as great as that crisp topping crust tastes due to the coconut oil, it has a lot of Smartpoints.  So, my portions have to be small.

Alas, I say, because I've fallen in love with that coconut oil topping.

Hopefully, you can enjoy it, coconut oil and all.

I may have one more blueberry recipe for you before the season ends.  Let me know if you are interested in the comments.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Songs and Memories #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday.  It's my last Monday as guest host, and it is 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! 

So let's get started.

As the guest host, I get to pick the theme as I have done all of July.  Thank you all and I hope you enjoyed my themes as much as I enjoyed your music picks for July.

My theme for today is "You Pick"  Anything goes but j
ust 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!

For myself I am picking "Songs that remind me of something in my life".  It's interesting (to me, anyway) the theme I developed as I kept remembering.  The ability to remember is so tied into music, as anyone who has had a loved one with dementia or has worked with that population knows.

I must start with still another tribute.  Peter Green, co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, died in his sleep on July 25 at the age of 73.  Green had struggled with mental health issues a lot of his life and ended up leaving Fleetwood Mac.  At that time, Fleetwood Mac was more of a blues group rather than the band many of us remember. 

Green was one of the top rock/blues guitarists.  A couple I sometimes babysat for while in college had an early Fleetwood Mac album.  They introduced me to a number of groups, including Fleetwood Mac.

Here is Fleetwood Mac with Green performing "Black Magic Woman" in 1970.  The Santana hit was a cover of this song, which was written by Peter Green.  This is my first musical memory I want to share.

This next song reminds me of a fun college field trip I took in 1971 with my then boyfriend (we were in the same college geology class), and a couple of classmates.  Boyfriend (now my spouse of 46 years) was driving and we were all playing the drumming parts to this song and just grooving with the day.
Next up is The Delfonics and their 1970 hit "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time).  It was actually released in 1969 but who is counting?  I associate this song with the bus trip I took with fellow high schoolers and some college students to study the 1970 total eclipse of the sun.

This next song, for some reason, I associate with standing (and standing, and standing) in line at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City.  This became a hit in 1964, as I mentioned, but was actually written for Darlene Love and recorded by her in 1963.  However, Phil Spector, who co wrote the song, did not like her recording.  Here are the Dixie Cups and "Chapel of Love".

This song will forever remind me of the late, great DJ Dan Ingram.  I was so fortunate to live in New York City.  Dan would play with songs.  This 1965 classic from Jay and the Americans, Cara Mia, has Jay Black singing a vocal section (sorry, I don't know the technical term) about 1:48 for several seconds. Dan would stretch it out to be almost as long as the rest of the song.

Two more, from 1985-86.  A lot happened in my life in 1986 and this is one of several songs that got me through some of that time.  Presenting Eddie Money and Ronnie Spector and "Take Me Home Tonight".

Finally, this song, which was on the last new vinyl release I ever purchased:  Amanda, by Boston, reminds me of my early years in the community that has become my home for over 30 years.  I wonder how many baby girls were named after this song? 

In writing this blog post, other musical memories started to flow. Maybe I'll do a part two of this blog if you enjoyed this post.  (I sure hope it won't include still another tribute.)

Why not let me know in the comments?

BONUS video:  a tribute to the late, great Regis Philbin, from the cast of RENT.  This is a special version of the play's song "Seasons of Love".  Regis Philbin, who, like me, grew up in the Bronx, brought me so many memories.  They range from Regis and Kathy Lee to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and more.  RIP, Regis.

And that, my musical friends, is a musical wrap.

See you next week!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Another Set of Tributes

In the last several days, we have lost two greats of the entertainment industry.

Olivia De Havilland, who died weeks after her 104th birthday, may be known best for her role of Melanie in Gone with the Wind (a movie now pulled temporarily from showing) but, if you start at about 1:00 into this video, you will find much to admire in this extraordinary actress. 

Then, there was Regis Philbin, from my native Bronx, who died on July 24 at age 88.

Regis Philbin was a television legend, someone who spent more time on the air as a "presenter" (yes, a British term, but I like it) than anyone else in history.

My late mother in law loved him, and I loved him too (along with millions of other people).

As a child, he grew up on the same Avenue (not in the exact same neighborhood) as my mother did before she got married.

Here is Regis playing (for charity) Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  He did his high school alma mater proud.

RIP to two greats.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Pandemic Crickets and Day Lilies

I've heard the first cricket of 2020, the cricket of the pandemic.

It was just for a moment, on Thursday.  On Friday I heard it again.  My spouse kept saying no, it's a bird. Then, today, the same discussion.  There is a buzzing in the air.  I know, though, if it wasn't today, Thursday or Friday,we'd be hearing the first cricket soon.

In a way, I dread the first cricket song, because it means winter is on its way.

I've been tracking when I've heard the first crickets since I started to blog in 2009.  Here is my post from 2019, complete with links to the previous posts tracking first cricket dates.

For 2020, the date will be Thursday, July 23, and I stick with it.

So, why track this date?  In the pandemic, many of us take comfort watching nature, be it birds, flying insects, or sunrises and sunsets.  With change all around us, nature is a constant, and keeps on keeping on paying little attention to us.

And then, there is the human desire to keep records.

As I blogged in 2019:

"My blog, with the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day meme I participate in each 15th of the month, has become a kind of garden journal.  I'm no good at diaries or journals, but blogging is something I do keep up with. For now, anyway.

So, what does this pattern of dates mean?  Not much, perhaps. 

But for now, I know the end of summer is approaching."  With the end of summer, all the outdoor accommodations (outdoor dining, and, soon, outdoor movies and even a wrestling exhibition) our area of upstate New York has made for the pandemic will be closing in on the end of their season. 

These day lilies in my flower garden, though, teach us a lesson because each flower only lasts one day.
Nothing is forever.

A couple of more day lilies for your pleasure.
And now, back to enjoying summer.

Friday, July 24, 2020

All Along the Wall #SkywatchFriday

Taken on top of a flood wall in the Southern Tier of upstate New York, July 21.

Skies and a river make such a nice combination.

I wonder where this path leads to?

Wildflowers complete the picture.

Clouds vary in different directions.

Queen Anne's Lace and some milkweed along the river.

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

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Pawpaw Tree #ThursdayTreeLove

Today, a saga of a tree I started from seed back in 2014, and its life since.

In 2013, I bought three paw-paws.

The paw-paw is a native fruit here in the United States which produces an edible fruit.  Up to now, you needed to have these trees growing wild on your land, meaning you most likely were living in the countryside if you were familiar with the fruit.  Now, however, they are being cultivated, although (in 2020) it is still difficult to purchase the fruit.

In 2013 I was able to find paw-paws for sale in a store specializing in local food, and I purchased one fruit.  For those not familiar with paw-paws, they taste something like a banana, with a flavor note that is unique.  To me it is something like a mango.  Yet, this is not a tropical tree.  When I lived in rural Arkansas many years ago, we had these trees on our property.  At the time, they were too strongly flavored for me.  My senior palate accepts them better now.

Eventually I was down to one plant in a pot.  I planted the pot in the ground, thinking I would take care of it in 2015.  Unfortunately, 2015 totally got away from us - my mother in law, who did not live locally, developed health issues that eventually required her to move her up here to be close to us and my brother and sister in law.  Between trying to sell her house, dealing with her surgery, her rehab, then pneumonia, more rehab, and other issues, 2015 was a lost year for us.

Meanwhile, the paw-paw wasn't waiting on us.  It rooted itself and has been growing in our back yard ever since.

And here it is.

Another view.

Right now, the paw-paw tree is about 10 feet (3.05 meters) tall.  It hasn't flowered yet, which is no surprise as they usually don't bloom before they are about eight years old. Maybe next year?

We do have one problem.  Paw-paws are not self fertile, nor do bees pollinate them.  We need another paw-paw tree if we want the fruit.  It's doubtful there is a wild tree anywhere near our urban yard.  Our yard is small and we wouldn't have put this tree in this location if we had been able to react before it planted itself.  More than one tree is too much.  One tree may be too much.

What to do?

Linking up with Parul at Happiness and Food and other bloggers who love trees every second and fourth day of the month for #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

A Couple of Laughs #Wordless Wednesday.

Our local CVS (a drugstore chain) packed my latest purchase in this bag:
Create a Work of Art!

I guess that's one way of looking at a bag.  What would you draw?

My spouse saw it and said "or, you could be the Unknown Comic."

If you are of a "certain age" (and I am) you may have seen The Gong Show (the original one) and The Unknown Comic, whose name was (and still is - he's 75 now) Murray Langston.  He was so bad he was good.

Joining up with Sandee of Comedy Plus and #WordlessWednesday.

Why not get a laugh or two today?  Everything can't be grim.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Dunedin Dream- Done?

For many years, my spouse and I dreamed of retirement and spending part of each winter (maybe three months) in Florida, where both of us have family.

We had lived in Tampa as newlyweds in the mid 1970's, then had moved.  We didn't return for 30 years and when we did (it was for a college visit with our son) it was in August, definitely not our favorite time of year.

But now he's retired, and back in January, I had picked out a retirement date in 2020.  We hopped on the Auto Train, spent two weeks in Florida, made contact with a real estate agent in Dunedin (the same county as St. Petersburg and Clearwater) and had high hopes.  We concentrated on Dunedin after I asked my cousin in Tampa where he would recommend us to snowbird.  We also checked out Sarasota, where another cousin's in laws had snowbirded for years.

The Dunedin agent (recommended by their Visitors Bureau) interviewed us over the phone while we were still in town, and agreed to put us on his list.  We understood that his existing clients would come first but he would offer us (and other first timers) what he had left.  He explained some of the rental laws and procedures.

Then, COVID-19 came along, and all we had left were memories.

Memories of dolphin art.
Downtown Dunedin, Florida

Memories of where we left a piece of our hearts.

We thought the dream was gone in the flood of Florida coronavirus cases.  It's not a flood, actually - I need another word to describe what is happening right now.  We never heard back.  That didn't surprise us.

Incredibly, we heard from the agent last week.

And after some thought, we let go of the dream.  We asked that we be kept on the list for 2021-22 but we were not interested in this winter.

It would seem the market for purchasing is strong.  Rentals are a bit less desired, and I totally get that. Many people are prepared to go down there come whatever is to come, because none of us can see into the future.

But I am taking an educated guess.

I shouldn't say we've let go of the dream.  We hope it is delay not goodbye.  But we are seniors, both of us have preexisting conditions, and we had a family member (my spouse's developmentally disabled younger brother) go through COVID-19 back in April.  We would have the trip down and back to consider, plus spending time in a state we are no longer comfortable with being in.

It's as simple, and as complex, as that.

It's going to be a long, cold winter.  We're already trying to prepare.

Strangely, I'm not sad.  Not yet.  There has been so much change these past few months.  We let go of this dream.  Not the dream itself, though.  We will just have to live that dream in a different way.

Have you let go of any dreams in the past few months?

Monday, July 20, 2020

That Old Singing Moon #MusicMovesMe

It's Moonday...I mean Monday.  It's time for 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.

Each month, we have a guest co-host and guess who the guest co-host is this month?

You guessed it (I hope):  ME!

My theme for today is:  Songs mentioning the Moon, or about the Moon.  This is my way of celebrating the 51st anniversary of the July 20, 1969 moon landing.

Blue Moon is a 1961 classic by the doo-wop group The Marcels.  But what I didn't know is that this song was actually written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1934.

Here's a recording of the song from December, 1934.  Since 1934, this song has been covered perhaps hundreds of times. 

Everyone's Gone to the Moon, a 1965 release by Jonathan King, was the song playing on WABC radio (which I was listening to) around 5:20 pm on November 9, 1965, just before the Great Blackout of 1965 hit the Northeast United States.  I can't help but remember the blackout when I hear this song.

I absolutely love this song: Man on the Moon - R.E.M.  I was never a huge Andy Kaufman fan, but this was one heck of a tribute.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, originally a Jimmy Webb song, has been covered several times.  I chose this version by Linda Ronstadt.  Linda's voice has been stilled by a rare condition called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy - in fact recently, a woman in my area of New York State died from this condition.   At this time there is no cure.

When many of us think of the Moon, we think of Pink Floyd's iconic album Dark Side of the Moon.  Although none of the songs on the album were named after the Moon, I will close with the ending of the album - Brain Damage/Eclipse and these words:
"There is no dark side of the moon, really.  As a matter of fact, it's all dark"

Yes, it's a lunar wrap.