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Thursday, December 31, 2020

All is Quiet on New Year's Eve

In (I believe it was) the January 6 issue of Time Magazine, there was a little sidebar.  I found the magazine cleaning out some stuff not that long ago, and I don't even remember the magazine date for sure anymore.  The short news item talked about a mystery illness outbreak in Wuhan, China.

A little sidebar. A couple or three paragraphs.  I wish I could find it.

Welcome to 2020.  Now, it's time to ring it out.


Could anyone have even imagined this Saturday Night Live skit?  Or understood any of it?

I'm not sure any of us want a recap of 2020.  So many painful moments.  I wish I had something profound or healing to say.  So much suffering.  But, for me, it's time to look on the somewhat bright side.

What else did 2020 bring?

I had a few laughs (note the "regular price" of this item ) - although I had to cancel that party.

I got to know my town better. 


I took lots of walks with my spouse.  At least I had company.

I built my vocabulary.  All that new vocabulary....
I learned to be more sanitary.

And I watched a lot of squirrels.

Now, we have less than 24 hours left to go in this most unusual year in our lifetimes.

All will be quiet this New Year's Eve.  Even in my native New York City.

The New York City ball drop? It will take place - with 100 people watching in person.


Think of when we could get together and sing.  My wish for next New Years Eve - celebrating Hogmanay in Scotland.  Wouldn't it be grand?

But in some ways, I like this New Year's Eve.  Quiet. I'm an introvert.  I'll be happy staying home and watching a movie.  I thank all those who sacrificed so I could do this - the health care workers like my cousin, the first responders like another cousin's husband, the food workers, the other essential workers like at least two more cousins, and so many more.

THANK YOU.

Happy New Year, my friends and readers. Here's to a better 2021.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Red Frost #WordlessWednesday

The last Wordless Wednesday of the year - Happy New Year to all those who follow my WW posts.  I thank you for visiting my blog, when there are so many others to choose from.

As my regular readers know, the area I live in experienced flooding over Christmas Day.  Fortunately our house escaped having water in the basement. One of my co workers, though, had to evacuate.  I'll have some pictures of a flooded park near our house on Friday.  Thank you to my readers who expressed concern.

And thank you for your expressions of sympathy over the death of my work friend.  One of my commenters, especially, got it exactly right.  In the midst of so much sadness this year, she pointed out "It's not a competition. We can all be sad together."

But we can also experience some joy.

I took this picture December 19, when it had gotten down overnight to 5 degrees F (-15C).

Winter is my least favorite season but at least it does have some special beauty.

Joining up with Sandee at Comedy Plus for 2020's last #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Goodbye To A Work Friend

This has not been a good year.  Actually, for hundreds of thousands  in our country, it has been as awful as it could get. So many people have suffered losses that I had a hesitancy in posting this.  Just in the past week, a cousin lost her father in law and a Facebook friend and fellow blogger lost her mother, and several Facebook friends have family seriously ill with COVID.

I need to pay tribute to a work friend who will have a memorial service tomorrow.

It's so hard for someone to lose loved ones during The Holidays.  I know that from experience.

And so....

Vicki made guest appearances a couple of times in my blog.  The first time she appeared was in my very first blog post, which detailed my experience working blocks from a mass shooting on April 3, 2009 in Binghamton, New York.  I was out with this woman, a work friend, at lunchtime.....

And I was with her the day of this experience, too.  

Then again, she appeared one last time, when I purse dialed her several years ago. 

Vicki came into my life when my department at work hired a new administrative assistant for our department head.  She had worked for years at IBM and was a native of this area, unlike me.  I think we hit it off fairly quickly.  She worked just a few feet away and we had to work on certain things together.

Very quickly, this stylish woman with the impeccable hair and clothing chose me (me, with neither hair nor clothing impeccable, as I will freely admit) as her lunchtime walking and shopping companion.  

We walked miles and miles over several years, favoring what we called the "Three Bridges Walk".  We also spent a lot of time shopping at a downtown department store.  Not too many small city downtowns have a department store anymore, but Binghamton does.  And Vicki took full advantage of them. 

We used to love to visit the downtown Binghamton farmers market

We would go to the downtown farmers market, where she would shop for spices.

She would listen to my tales of family, including my elderly mother in law and my autistic brother in law, and, in turn, I would hear about her sister, who ended up (too young!) in a nursing home because of serious health issues.  Or about her son, who owned a pizzeria in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  

I met her son and her husband.

After a while, her son moved back to this area and opened up a restaurant.  We chose his restaurant (since sold) for my son's 21st birthday. 

One of the sights we might see on one of our walks (taken in 2015)

Vicki had a ready smile for everyone.  She could strike up conversations with anyone, again, the total opposite of yours truly.  

Time passed.  She was spending a lot of her lunches with her sister in the nursing home.  We saw each other less but still enjoyed occasional walks.

But one day she seemed down.  She was having a recurring pain problem that she had thought was a dental issue, but her dentist couldn't immediately find a problem.  After some tests, the issue was found - a brain tumor.  Benign in the sense of not being cancerous, it was painful and getting worse.

Eventually, she underwent cyberknife surgery, but it wasn't entirely successful.  In the meantime, I was transferred to another department.  She retired.

The last time I talked to her, she was having great difficulty communicating.  A man (I assume her husband, or it could have been her son) had to help her some.

Vicki died December 21 after "a long illness", at the age of 73.  Too young.

In memory - taken in Confluence Park Binghamton

2020 marches on, stomping on millions of families as it leaves.

Rest in peace, Vicki.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Pandemic New Years #MusicMovesMe

Guess what time it is?  Yes, it is time for Music!

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? We are bloggers (and perhaps also musical elves) 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!)   First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-conductors are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. (All, please note Xmas Dolly has a new blog location.  Please use this link.)

For the month of December our theme is "Christmas Music" except for today.  Our theme for today is "Music about this Year or about New Year's".

Oh, where do I start?  2020 is All About the Pandemic, like it or not.  (And who likes it??)

 I don't listen to Pitbull that often, although, when I did water Zumba years ago, one of his songs was part of one of our routines.  For the pandemic we start off with Pitbull's "I Believe That We Will Win/World Anthem."   This is one upbeat song that will get your dancing feet moving.

Christmas was different for so many.  We needed a song such as Twenty One Pilot's Christmas Saves the Year.  I love the video, too.

What does a rock star sound like without his band?  Just one person and a guitar?  Here is Jon Bon Jovi and "Livin' on a Prayer" for a New Jersey pandemic benefit several months ago.

We all want to fast forward to New Year's Eve, don't we?  Why don't we?

Or we can go back to 1965, and watch the ball drop in Times Square.  I saw this live on New York City TV; we never dared go down there.  Seeing a crowd of 700,000 watch the New York City ball drop now would be inconceivable.  The broadcaster was the late, incomparable Ben Grauer; to me he will forever be the voice of New Years Eve.  And Guy Lombardo the official music maker.  Yes, I'm showing my age.  Proudly.


 

Speaking of Guy Lombardo....enjoy his music, and the vintage photos.


Mariah Carey and Auld Lang Syne.  Maybe not totally traditional, but I like it.


Now let's pretend it's the new year. How about an oldie?  The Zombies and "This Will Be Our Year".

It's a wrap!  See you same time, same place....new year...next Monday!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Holiday Birthday

Were you born near a major holiday?  I was.  My late mother in law was.  My sister in law was. One of my grandfathers was.  All of were born in the week before Christmas.

This is a partial repeat of a post I first wrote in 2018 but it's still relevant.

It's an interesting experience, having a birthday just before Christmas.  You learn, at an early age, that your birthday is going to be swallowed up in the greater festivities.  In other words, you learn to share.  Your birthday.  Attention paid to you.  That kind of thing.

We aren't the only ones who share birthdays with holidays, of course.

One of my managers at work was born on the fourth of July (our Independence Day in the United States).  She was in elementary school before she realized that the parades and the fireworks on July 4th were not meant to celebrate her.

But back to Christmas....this year, everything has been so strange, including holiday and birthday celebrations.  But let's think of the past for a minute.

A near-Christmas child learns early that most people get presents on their birthday and on Christmas.  We - well, we are lucky if we even get noticed.  Not quite the same situation as the person in the last paragraph, but it's similar in some ways.

Even born and raised in a Jewish household, I was not immune from the Great Christmas Takeover. (Also, back when I was young, Hanukkah was not the "major" holiday it is now.)  But it also offered me an escape answer, when I was young, to the inevitable question "what did you get for Christmas"? (I didn't grow up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.)  I would simply name my birthday gift.

In a way, when I married into my (Christian) spouse's family and became related by marriage to two people in the same Christmas/birthday boat (so to speak) as I was in, I met other fellow sufferers.  We'd been there, done (or not done) that.  We always made sure we gave each other separate presents and cards for both occasions.  

Since my late mother in law's birthday was the day after mine (25 years minus 1 day) we would celebrate milestone birthdays at the same time.  That was interesting, too, but it never bothered me.  Double the pleasure, double the fun....

We learned to live with this constant birthday sharing, the three of us.  Now, things are different, along with so much else.

Do you or another family member share a near-birthday or birthday with a major holiday?

Saturday, December 26, 2020

12 Drummers Flooded

Be warned, this is not a happy Christmas story for the Southern Tier of New York.

The flooding I blogged about yesterday came to pass.  What happened was that we got 39-44 inches of snow Dec 16 into 17th, and then, Thursday, temperatures rose into the upper 40's and the snow melted (not all of it, but enough) and THEN we got rain on top of it.  We were luckier than people downstate, who got the warmup and the rain and also high winds.  And oh yes, then it all froze.

But still.

One of my co workers had to evacuate.  My son was under a "voluntary" evacuation order.  And my neighborhood, which was hit by massive flooding in September of 2011, held its breath.   Several major roads were closed.  One family owned hardware store in Binghamton, after various customers called asking for sump pumps and other flood damage supplies, opened their doors for several hours.  (And that, folks, is why "Buy Local" matters).


This was (about 1pm Christmas day) the park where spouse and I sometimes watch sunsets.  No watching today.  Not even the Canada Geese wanted any part of this.  Over to the right, where the screen is, is a ballfield. In the lower right is a road.


Today, about 11-ish, this is what the park looked like - not quite exactly the same view but it's the same ballfield.  The water was receding slowly.  You can see the high water mark on the screen - the little dots are leaves that stuck to the screen.  Also, several people are will need new garbage cans.

Several municipalities are still under states of emergency.


 But perhaps the saddest of the flood victims was this.  This picture was taken in late November at Otsiningo Park in Binghamton, New York.  This exhibit is part of a nightly drive through light show running through the first week of January called the "Festival of Lights".  Obviously, this picture of "12 drummers drumming" was taken during the day.

Part of the Festival was making donations (voluntary) at the gate for those in need.

But now, the park is underwater.  I saw a picture on the news with the lights perhaps halfway under water.  The river there has crested and should be below flood stage by tonight.

This time, my house escaped.  But I must admit, it was a nervewracking day.  Still....lots of gratitude.  We are here.  We are healthy.  We had food to put on the table this Christmas.  Not everyone does.

We have no idea if the flood damage at Otsiningo Park will be able to be repaired.  And, oh yes, the warmup/rain/freeze cycle is set to repeat on New Years Eve.

Some memories you just don't want.

2020 can't leave soon enough.


Friday, December 25, 2020

The Weather Strikes Back #SkywatchFriday

In the last episode of #SkywatchFriday, brought to you each Friday by Yogi and other bloggers who watch the sky, record snowfall had hit the Southern Tier of New York State.

It took a while, but we managed to somewhat dig out. 

 And no, those aren't mountains in the distance.  That's snow.

Better yet, the sun decided to show itself.  Well, sometimes.
Used the "slate" filter from Windows 10

The park where we like to watch sunsets - well, it was still snowed in.

And then, the weather had a thought.

"What if....what if...if I (the weather) warm things up, maybe into the upper 40's?  Then I'll send rain.  And then I'll cool things down past the freezing point, and everything would freeze solid.  Sounds like quite the Christmas gift to bestow upon the Southern Tier."

Yes, that's our weather forecast. 

This isn't a filter.  This was the fog not long after sundown yesterday. 
Oh Tannenbaum, Owego New York 2019

But you can't keep Christmas down. 


Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.

And to all, a Happy and Wonderful New Year.  May 2021 be a better year for us all.

Joining up with SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Record Snow #ThursdayTreeLove

Welcome to the last Thursday Tree Love of the Year. Not only that, this is the 100th Thursday Tree Love posted by our host, Parul at Happiness and Food.

As my regular readers know, we had a record (most snow ever in 24 hours) snowstorm where I live in the Southern Tier of New York State  last Wednesday evening/night into Thursday morning (December 16-17).  A large strip including where I live got in the range of 39-44 inches. For people using the metric system, 44 inches converts into nearly 118 cm.

Because 2020 is 2020,  they are predicting temperatures near 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) today.  That means some of that snow will melt.  Along with the snow melt, there will be rain - and our storm drains, many of them, are clogged/haven't been freed from snow yet. And, oh yes, there will be wind, which may lead to power failures.  And then it will all freeze over.

Just in time for Christmas.

But my snow pictures are also favorites with some members of this bi monthly meme, who live in climes that never see snow.  And, I'll admit, snow has a special beauty.

Two trees, one evergreen, one sleeping leafless for the winter, side by side.  Different ways of coping with the cold, but each way is valid. I don't know what either tree is, but one sleeps through the winter and the other one stays awake.


Trees and bushes have to stay where they are and endure.  Do you think this row of bushes is in communication with each other?  Some speculate that they do communicate.   What do they say? What do they think? Do they watch us?

There is more than one right way to live life, trees teach us.

For those who celebrate Christmas, today is Christmas Eve.  May you and yours be happy and safe.

Join Parul each second and fourth Thursdays of the month for #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Living History #WordlessWednesday

Today, my memories revolve around a trip my spouse, adult son and I took to see family in Brooklyn and Long Island, two years ago today.

Two years ago...in the time we could go anywhere, see anyone and not have to worry about quarantine, social distance, or giving those we love an illness that could make them sick, or worse.

I was trying to escape Christmas.  My mother in law had died the day after Thanksgiving after a long decline.  The last thing I wanted was to celebrate Christmas.  Where better to go but to a city that never sleeps.  A city where I could celebrate a non-Christmas with family who are Jewish, and do what Jewish people do on Christmas Day (yes we went to a movie, and yes, we ate out after.)

So, I am going to post this photo, taken two years ago today.

Can anyone name what this is a picture of?  The answer is below.


 

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday. 

Here's the answer.  The house on the left is the Henderick I. Lott house, part of which was built in 1720, and most of which was built in 1800.  This is located in a residential section of Brooklyn, in New York City.  It's not usually open to the public and their public programs are cancelled due to COVID.

But this house teaches us resilience.  We will come back from this. 

History teaches us to be patient.  Look forward to the future.

And a Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Oh Come All Ye Memories

Slowly, our record snowstorm is being cleared away, but we have felt a bit marooned.  It hasn't been the first time this pandemic season.

I didn't go to any of my normal holiday activities this year, due to COVID.  Some were cancelled.  Some, I just decided I had gone to see them so many times, I didn't need to this year.  There is one new activity, a holiday light show, I may go to this weekend.

We didn't even get the "Christmas Star" (conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn) last night.  It was supposed to be livestreamed from our local observatory but there was too much cloud cover.  That cloud cover is normal for us this season; I would have been surprised if it had cleared up.

In the past, I have blogged about some of these activities, so I went through the photos on my phone and computer to put those who celebrate Christmas in the holiday spirit.

These were taken in Owego, New York at O Tannenbaum, an annual event at the Tioga County Historical Society.

Trees are decorated by various groups and put up for auction.  There is also a display - some years of toys, some years of historical events.  In 2016, the theme was the circus.  Come right up!
Enjoy the show.  These are antique circus posters of circuses that stopped in the area.

Antique circus toys.

One of the trees being auctioned.  In many years they only auction the decorations, not the trees themselves.  This one is decorated with hats.

In another year the theme was farm toys.

Finally, one more tree memory - a kitchen tree.

This year I have my memories of Christmases past.  Next year, I hope to be back in person.

For those who celebrate Christmas, how has this season been for you?

Monday, December 21, 2020

A Summer Song and Let it Snow #MusicMovesMe

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

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? We are bloggers (and perhaps also musical elves) 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!)   First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-conductors are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. (All, please note XMas Dolly has a new blog location.  Please use the above link.)

For the month of December our theme is "Christmas Music" except for the last Monday, when the theme will be "Music about this Year or about New Year's".

But before I dig in, I must pay tribute to still another musician lost to us this year - Chad Stuart of Chad and Jeremy.  He had just celebrated his 79th birthday.  He died yesterday from complications of pneumonia (not COVID related) and a fall.


 So before I talk about snow, I am going to play one of Chad and Jeremy's songs - actually, one of my favorite all time songs: A Summer Song, from 1964.  Oh, those words, those harmonies...

Normally, at this time of year, I do a "Christmas Songs Written by Jews" post (a post I first wrote years back and I try to update each year".

On Wednesday into Thursday of last week, my house got about 39 inches (40 cm) of snow.  My son, who lives about 20 minutes from us, got about 43 inches.  I've lived in my house about 33 years and this is a one day snowfall record for us.  Fortunately, there was no snow already on the ground.  This was a record for the date for our area, too.

So, this year, I am going to limit myself to Christmas songs mentioning snow (or songs that make you think of snow) that were written by Jews.  This really won't be hard.

1.  Winter Wonderland: the author of this song was Dick Smith, who wrote this song in 1934, a year before he died (the day before his 34th birthday) from the tuberculosis that had plagued him for much of his life.  The man who set this poem to music, Felix Bernard, was Jewish.   

This cover is sung by Johnny Mathis (1958).

2.  Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow:  words by Sammy Cahn and music by Jule Styne.  This song dates from 1945.   Here are some fun facts about the song.


I chose, as my singer, Frank Sinatra.

3.   The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire):  The Nat King Cole version is one of my favorite songs, ever.  This brings back so many memories of the holiday season in the late 60's in midtown Manhattan and the vendors who would sell roasted chestnuts.  The fragrance carried for blocks.  And, right now, Jack Frost is sure nipping at my nose.

To me, there is only one singer for this, and it is Nat King Cole.

4.  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  OK, it mentions fog, not snow but I bet Santa has to drive that sleigh through lots of snowstorms.  And, living at the North Pole, Rudolph must be so familiar with snow.

This song dates from 1947.  It would seem that Johnny Marks, the author of that song (and also "Rockin' Round the Christmas Tree" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas")  was Jewish.  The Rudolph character was originated by Mark's brother in law, as part of an advertising campaign by the then catalog and retail store Montgomery Ward  (1939).  I remember buying the story book from Montgomery Ward in the early 1990's to read to my son.


The singer?  Has to be Gene Autry.

Think of the themes of these songs:  Missing your home.  Childhood nostalgia.  Enjoying a season of lights and happiness. The different child (or reindeer), scorned by others, who becomes the best of all.  These are universal themes, and this is why these songs, I think, are so appealing, no matter who wrote them. 

See you again next week, same time, same place, for New Years Eve songs. 

For those who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a meaningful and complete Christmas.  Despite all 2020 has thrown at us, may it not take your holiday away.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Determination

I had set out to blog about one of my Christmas ornaments.  Many of them have stories behind them.

On my Christmas tree each year I hang some ornaments that were gifts.  One has special meaning.  I remembered blogging this several years ago, and I'd like to update it just a little.

This is a year where many of us are apart from loved ones, and they are in our thoughts.  I've been thinking about one person recently, a woman who passed away in 1998.  Here's the story:

Many years ago, the company I worked for was bought by a new owner, along with a couple of other local businesses.  Two other offices were combined into the office where I worked, and Pat came into my life.

Pat was many things - an experienced worker, a loving mother and grandmother, and a woman who loved crafts - needlepoint, tole, and more.

Her and her husband (also now deceased), a building contractor, restored a house in Maine, New York, and had a loving marriage. 

Every year, at work, we would have a small gift exchange at Christmastime. Pat's contribution was always a Christmas ornament - usually made by her, or one made by another craftsperson.

One December day, Pat called us together.

A couple of months ago, she said, she had found a lump on her neck.  She went to the doctor, who immediately ran tests.  It was cancer.  Not only that, they found cancer all through her body.  Doctors ran more tests, trying to find where the cancer had originated.  It turned out to be lung cancer. She had perhaps 18 months to live.

Pat was only able to work a couple of more months.   We all kept in touch after she went out on permanent disability.  It was a small office, and we were close to each other.  We knew each other, our spouses, our children.  

Pat had to prepare her children and grandchildren.  And us.

Pat always conducted herself with dignity and determination, and the months after the diagnosis were no exception.  By her example, she showed us how to face death with dignity.

Our office, in the following months, fell apart due to poor management.  One by one, we left.  By the next Christmas, several of us were unemployed.  As each co worker quit the job,  they started to spend time with Pat every Tuesday when she felt up to it.  When I left, I joined them in the Tuesday outings.

The Tuesday before Christmas 1997, Pat gave us our final gift - the gift of her presence.  We took her out to a local restaurant, and she gave us a tour of her house - something that took her great effort.

By January of 1998, we suspected the end was near.  She could not walk more than a few steps without losing her breath.

Pat died on February 13, 1998, a day short of Valentine's Day, a week after suffering a stroke and lapsing into a coma.  In my last visit to her, five days before her death, she lay on a bed, under home hospice care.  Her favorite country music was playing.  I held her hand and whispered in her ear.  I don't know if it was my imagination, but I am positive she gently squeezed my hand.

Now, fast forward to 2011.

In September of 2011, my neighborhood was flooded by a tropical storm and we had several feet of water in our basement.  We were so fortunate, compared to many of our neighbors.  The next months were hard for us and many other in our community.

When we cleaned out our basement, I found that several of the homemade ornaments Pat had given me were ruined.  There was no way to salvage them.  But the ornament you see above, a needlework Pat made, had survived in a box above the water level.  Yes, Pat was watching over her ornament.

Every year the ornament goes on our tree, a sign of survival, caring and love.

Time marches on, and things change for us all.  But Pat lives on in my heart, even after all these years.  Every year, I gaze upon the ornament she gave me, the ornament she stitched with her own hands.  It whispers determination.

Determination is what we need now.  The determination to see this pandemic through, not to inadvertently spread it, to protect our health care workers by our behavior.  She would have told us to make the necessary sacrifices, even as we tire of the things we need to do.

It's not time to quit yet.

Pat never quit caring for others.

Pat would have approved this message.

 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Zoom Dance Party

I haven't been too keen on joining events on Zoom.  True confession, I am not crazy about Zoom.  I've had to attend several Zoom meetings, and they tend to be more distracting than anything.  People lose their connections, sound breaks up, dogs bark, children scream.

But when a cousin in Florida told me about an event being co-sponsored by AARP and an organization called Daybreaker, a two hour dance party that would feature the O'Jays and Dionne Warwick, I decided it would be a nice way to spend a late Saturday morning/early Saturday afternoon.

After all, we had gotten plowed out from our historic snowstorm around 8pm yesterday, and plows showed up three more times for the express purpose of making sure our driveway and path to our front door were blocked by the mounds of snow they threw up to make sure our road was somewhat clear.  That was cause to celebrate.

(Hey Weather Channel, maybe time to change your slide to "Winter".)

So was the sun showing up, which also meant it was cold out.  And indeed it was (5 degrees F equals -15 C for my Celsius using readers).  That's the rule around the Southern Tier of New York in mid to late December.  Sun equals cold.

First good thing of today - son texts, he is finally able to get out of his driveway.  Someone's car had gotten stuck in the road right in front of the end of his driveway, and subsequently got buried.  No one had plowed his trailer park, so everyone was stuck.  Finally, last night, someone plowed it out, and this morning he came over.  With his strong muscles, he got rid of the plow piles and then used our underpowered electric snow blower (pro tip, do not buy a plug in electric snow blower).  It's still a tight squeeze but we could get out.  By then, it was 11:30 and the dance party was already a half hour old.

Second good thing - I sign onto the dance party, and I make contact.  Our Internet has been going in and out the last three days.   The first segment was yoga and I watched for a few minutes.  I have never done yoga, and the instructor was going way too fast, blending one pose into another and then another.

But, 15 minutes in, the Internet quits.  Reboot modem, reboot laptop, swear a little. After 25 minutes I'm back on.

Soon after, I'm moving and enjoying the music.  The DJ (maybe more like a VJ) did a nice job.  The participants seemed to be of all ages - young families, seniors.

She announced the O'Jays and I'm looking at three older men.  Not all are originals - they have had their share of tragedy.

The O'Jays did "I Love Music" and "Love Train".

Love Train, from 1972, will get anyone up to dance.

After some more music, and a segment where people were asked to share photos of those they are missing (either from death or separation due to COVID), Dionne Warwick signed on from her living room.

(Not today's performance).

I don't know if it was my imagination or if she had a slightly rough start with her live performance today, but the rough spot was quickly smoothed over with the rest of her song.

I will definitely consider other online events.  And maybe we'll even (who knows) get a mail delivery today.

One more plug:  Do you love music?  Sweet, sweet music?  Why not join me every Monday for #MusicMovesMe?

Do you like Zoom?

Friday, December 18, 2020

Forty Inches of Snow #SkywatchFriday

Today, I show you the aftermath of a historic snowstorm yesterday in the Southern Tier of New York, and the highest snow total in our county's history (breaking a record on March 14, 2017 of 35.3 inches).  

We made the national news.  Yes, I know there are places in our country quite capable of getting more in a storm than we did.  But somehow, it captured peoples' imagination.

We were fortunate.  The snowstorm was predicted (except we were supposed to get maybe a foot.)  We live on the edge of the New York snowbelt, so snow is not unknown to us (in a normal year, we get about 73 inches (185 cm) of snow.  Just not all at once.)  

It was a light, fluffy snow.  We never lost power (we did lose internet a couple of times). And, best of all, it was not a work day for me.   

Most of the snow came after 10pm Wednesday.  I woke up in the night to visit the bathroom, peeked out the window, and couldn't believe what I saw.  Not when I looked, but at one point it was coming down at a rate five inches an hour.  We got something like 15 inches of snow between 1 and 3:30 am Thursday.

It's time to see the sky (and snow).

When I got up this morning, I opened the door.  Obviously, I wasn't going anywhere.  The thing on the left is the railing for our steps.  Our steps were buried.


My spouse tried to measure the snow from our front stoop but the yardstick disappeared into the snow.  We estimated about 39 inches.  Officially, we got just over 40.  There wasn't any snow on the ground when this storm began.

Mid afternoon, spouse had cleared enough of a path that I could walk across part of the front of our house, and I could take pictures.
This is part of what he had to clear up.  Under the big snow lump is our SUV.  There is so much white here. Even the sky looks white.
Part of our garage roof.  I was really trying to get the sky. I should have gotten the roof, too.
Another view. Our SUV is under there somewhere.

As of me posting this morning, the plow still hasn't come through on our road.  I guess we'll be settling in for a snow quarantine and chipping away at the snow - not that we have any place to put it.

Winter has begun.

Joining Yogi's #SkywatchFriday.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Madame Alexander Dolls and Hanukkah

 On this, the last full day of Hanukkah, and a day of record snow, I would like to blog a little about dolls.  Madame Alexander dolls, to be exact.

Madame Alexander (or to be exact, Madame Bertha (later changed to Beatrice) Alexander Behrman) was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants and was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  Her father ran the first doll hospital in this country.  She founded her doll company in 1923.

Madame lived to the age of 95 - and had a hand in the business she founded until she was 93 years old.

The company is still located in the United States - its home is in New York City but the dolls are made overseas.   At one time Madame Alexander employed some 650 people to make her dolls, here in the U.S.A.  Apparently, this is no longer the case.

So, what is the connection with Hanukkah?


In Binghamton, New York, there is a Hanukkah museum called Hanukkah House, located in a former mansion.  Every year (except, apparently this year, because I haven't been able to find out if they are open) they feature various exhibits of Jewish life and culture.  One of the exhibitors is the family of the late Roberta King, who was murdered, along with 12 other innocents, in a mass shooting in Binghamton on April 3, 2009.


I apologize for the reflections in some of these pictures.

Mrs. King was a collector of dolls, and I'd like to show you some of them (photos taken in past years, mainly 2016).  I am not sure if all of these are Madame Alexander dolls but I know some of them are.  Many reflect the immigrant experience of the early 20th century.

These are so beautiful.


One more.  This cabinet is part of the mansion that Hanukkah House resides in.  I'm not sure I've ever done a post devoted to the Kilmer Mansion - I should.

I hope you've enjoyed today's posts.  If you enjoy dollhouses, you may enjoy this post, too.

A happy holiday season to all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Blue and Grey is for the Birds #WordlessWednesday

Saturday, we were walking in our local park when we passed a tree full of birds.  I suspect they are starlings but it was too far up to get a good view.

I took several pictures and decided to do a little experimentation with filters.  These are not the same picture, but they are similar.  The birds are only small black dots.  The larger dots at the very top left of this picture are not birds.  They are leaves still hanging on.  Look right below, and also further down to the right.


Actual color.  I call this "New York State Blue and Grey". Actually, it was almost 50 degrees when I took these pictures - I can't complain.

Not a filter, but black and white.  Again, the birds are not the top center but below and to the right.

"Rouge" filter.  You can see a couple of birds in flight in the lower right.  This is a filter that came with Windows 10.


Also a Windows 10 filter, "Slate".

We are expecting a major snowstorm today.  Winter isn't here according to the calendar, but Nature is decreeing otherwise.

Joining Sandee for her #WordlessWednesday.

Also joining up with Natasha Musing for her Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day December 2020

The winter months have begun, and it's time for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (the 15th of every month).  Oh, what to do?

I've gone from an abundance of flowers to almost none.  That's what happens in my New York State zone 5b garden at this time of year.  In fact, right now, it's snowing.

I could cheat and show you the hanging basket I have kept alive (for now). But first, a special announcement.

I have an outdoor flowering plant!  We've had somewhat of a mildish fall - it hasn't dipped much below the mid 20's and....one of my Lenten Rose plants is full of half open buds!

The buds were covered in leaves, and I just had this feeling it would be trying to bloom.  So I went outside to brush the leaves away, and saw this holiday gift to me.

Usually it tries to bloom in January.  The buds don't always make it to the end of winter.  We'll see if they will this time.


Inside, I ended up buying a brand new Thanksgiving cactus because I managed to half-kill two of the Thanksgiving cactus I've owned for several years.  One of them even had flower buds on it. I don't know what I did wrong.  Anyway, here is the plant I bought from a nursery during their open house.

I'm trying to nurse the two ailing plants back to health. We'll see if I can.

And now for the hanging basket.  It doesn't look too good, but it has blooms on it. I cheated - I took pictures of it on Sunday, when it was mild enough to have it outside.

It has a bacopa plant.


And a Million Bells.   And a whole lot of brown.  I'm not sure how much longer I'll keep it.


Since this is Christmas time, I have two poinsettias to show you.  As many of you know, the colorful leaves (actually, brachts) are not the flowers - the actual flowers are small and in the middle of the brachts.


 Here's the other one.

And...that's all, folks.  I hope I have something to show you in January.  My African violets are on hiatus, and I decided not to try my luck with amaryllis this year.  But 2021 is a New Year and - one never knows what I might decide to do.

Since this is the last Garden Bloggers Bloom Day of the year, I want to give a big THANK YOU to Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens, who has hosted this meme for many years.

And THANK YOU to my dear readers.  May you all have a happy Holiday season, a wonderful New Year's Eve, and a 2021 way better than 2020 turned out to be.

Stay safe, all!