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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Virtual Clutter

Today is the last day of February.  I'm scrolling through memories.

iPhones have a feature where you can look at photos from a certain date.  There is also a "one year ago feature".  Last night, I picked it.

There was nothing for the 28th.  The photos for February 27 were photos of snow in downtown Binghamton, where I worked.

A year ago, we had no idea whatsoever of what was coming to our country.  I don't want to dwell on it, but I can't help it.

The photos on my phone are a historical record of sorts.  When I scroll through the photos of March, 2020, they start so innocently. Flowers.  A special type of onion I'll be blogging about again called the strawberry onion. The first spring flowers, seen on March 5 (that won't happen this year, I'm sure).  More flowers.  An everyday scene for me, the garden area of the Broome County Public Library.

And then...well, we all know what.

I also decided to clear out some old emails today.

I have too many mailing lists.  I deleted about 200 emails worth of newsletters that will never be read.

It's a type of electronic history, and I do enjoy history.

But.

Too much clutter.  Not enough time.

I have a feeling I'm not alone in this. 

So, will I stop taking photos?  No.  Will I unsubscribe to those newsletters?

Maybe.  Or maybe I should just carve out a chunk of time and read some of my emails.  Because email is a type of history, too.

I wonder how much of our history will remain if the Internet fails, or if we all just delete our photos and emails.

In a way, it's a scary thought.

But virtual clutter does weigh us down in a way that physical clutter doesn't.  Maybe it doesn't take up space in our physical lives, but it does weigh down our mind. 

Do you have this problem?

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Day Late Hamantaschen

In my late teens, I did a lot of baking, all self taught. I would bake for myself and would give gifts to my then boyfriend, now (for many years) my spouse.   As the mother of a young son, I would do some baking with him, too.

I never got to be really good, but I enjoyed scratch baking. 

As I got older, that changed.  It's been years since I've done anything but cake mixes, and I didn't even get into the pandemic baking of 2020.  But recently, the urge to do some scratch baking (with my spouse's help, because he loves cooking so much that he can't stand to see me bake without helping) has hit.

The Jewish holiday of Purim started Thursday at sundown and ended yesterday at sundown.  This holiday is a celebration of a long ago event told in the Old Testament Book of Esther, and how Esther, a Jewish woman married to a Persian king foiled a plot by the evil prime minister Haman to kill all Jews.  A popular cookie for this holiday, hamantaschen, is shaped like a tri cornered hat and has a thick filling.  Traditional filling were poppyseed (what I grew up with) or apricot, but many non traditional fillings are used. 

At the last minute I decided - why not make hamantaschen?  I hadn't made them in oh, over 40 years, after all.  Why not?

The traditional dough can be difficult to work with so I decided on something simple.

I used an "easy Hamantaschen Dough" from Melinda Strauss.  We had European strawberry jam in the fridge so decided to use that as the filling.  I made the dough and spouse did the rolling and cutting.  I did the filling and baking.  It's nice to work together with him in the kitchen.


They look dark because we only have white whole wheat flour in the house.  I was hoping the cookies wouldn't be too tough.  This is an oil based dough, incidentally.  I used canola oil.  Here is the filling - about a teaspoon per cookie.

Melinda's recipe was for 24 cookies.  I cut it in half.  It's just the two of us.  In these times, I didn't have anyone around for a cookie swap.

Probably the ugliest hamantaschen you'll ever see.


These were ready to bake - on parchment paper, on a cookie sheet, at 350 degrees.  I think we made the dough a bit too thick - we baked these nearly 25 minutes, not the 18-22 suggested minutes.

I definitely will never be a food blogger.

But they did taste good.

I have to watch my weight carefully, as a lifetime WW (Weight Watchers) member.  We figured these to be approximately four smartpoints each, but that's an estimate based on points for the ingredients added together and divided by 12.

So, I am publishing this a day late - but no matter, if you make them today or next week, they will still be delicious.

Have you baked recently?

Friday, February 26, 2021

Blues and Ripples #SkywatchFriday

It's the last Friday of February 2021 and winter is slowly starting to release its grip.  You might not notice at first.  But Wednesday it got up to 51 degrees F (10.5 C).  Yesterday, it got up to 43F (6.1 C.)

It was time for a walk on the local Rail Trail.

The sky was in a ripply mood.  Best of all, it showed off flashes of blue.


Robin's egg blue?  A wall of this color might be nice but without the power lines.  This was on the way to the Rail Trail.


This one was unusual.  At the center bottom, you see the trail and snow.  Then a white cloud, a kind of oval blue and then a grey ripple.

Here, near the end of the trail, the clouds were like sheets.


This was the sky as we walked back to our car.  I am not sure what to sure what to call this.  I kept the corner of the building in the shot to prove this was really the sky.

I hope the sky's secret message hidden in these clouds is "spring is nearly here".

Joining Yogi and other sky watchers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Witnesses #ThursdayTreeLove

I know not everyone lives where snow is common, so I always like to feature snow in my winter #ThursdayTreeLove posts.  Snow, after all, is what happens where we live in the winter.  In some ways, nature is predictable. 

Where I live in the Northeast United States, we are far from spring.  At this time of year, weary of snow, we ache for it so.  Our world outside is snow.

Now that it's February, the blue skies are starting to pop up here and there, and the sun angle brought out shadows in the snow.  This was after a snowfall, and the snow is still clinging to the evergreen.  To the right is one of our trees that loses its leaves in our winter.

These trees, and others, bear witness.  To something.  Do these trees know they aren't in a forest, but in an ecosystem ruled by humans?  But then again, COVID has proved (once again) that we humans are not in charge.

I don't know what trees think of people.  Probably, they don't think of us that much.  Their thoughts are secret, perhaps never to be known by us.  But there is increasing evidence that trees do think.

Maybe we aren't important to a tree's thinking, but we humans are so dependent on trees - for oxygen, for food, for lumber, for so much.

Witness the power of nature.  Witness the importance of trees.  Witness the fact that if we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves. 

Love a tree today.

Joining Parul and other tree lovers across the world each second and fourth Thursday for #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Bird Watching Channel #WordlessWednesday

I find myself tuning in more and more to what happens outside my window.  Call it the bird watching channel.  I haven't gotten into feeding birds yet, but that may be coming one day soon if the pandemic continues.


This bird is a male Northern Cardinal, a common bird where I live in the Southern Tier of New York.  But "common" and "I see one right outside my window" are two different things.  I love that flash of red against the snow.

Right before I took these pictures, I saw a female, but couldn't get my cam...I mean, my phone, soon enough to capture it.  For the record, the female Northern Cardinal differs quite a bit in coloring.  There is a female in the second picture, but it was too far away for my old iPhone to capture it.

So much to learn, as long as I watch the Bird Watching Channel.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Future Dream

Back in 2015, I tried my hand at Five Sentence Fiction.  This is outside my comfort zone for two reasons:

1.  I find it hard to be brief; and
2.  I am not a fiction writer.

I decided that five sentence fiction piece would never see the light of day.  It stayed in my blogging drafts.  Until today.

That five sentence story originated with a dream I had many, many years ago, not long before I left the Bronx, a borough of New York City.  I grew up in the Bronx, and would have dreamed this in the early 1970's.


After her parents died of the superflu, Alexa knew her options would either be an orphanage, or attempting to flee to Canada for a new life.  That's how she found herself climbing a rusted elevated train trestle, police bullets hitting the metal all around her, fleeing the American dictatorship at the Bronx/Canadian border.  But, once in Canada, she found herself slowly starving in a refugee camp, and took the desperate gamble of escaping with her camp friends Alesha and Brandon.  Now separated from her friends, she hitched a ride to Toronto, and disappeared into the anonymous crowds.  Years later, as a famous writer whose last novel sparked a revolution, she got her revenge on her former country.

I just stared at these five sentences, amazed, for two reasons.

1.  That "superflu" is coming true, in a form I never imagined when I dreamed this in the early 1970's. We don't have the dictatorship, the U.S. border is still hours away from the Bronx, but we are living in a pandemic whose effects are still only partially realized.  And COVID-19 is not the flu, no matter how some continue to claim that it is "just the flu".

As of a couple of days ago our death toll in the United States from COVID-19 has hit 500,000.  The world death toll, which we don't seem to pay much attention to nowadays, is around 2.7 million. These statistics, of course, will be out of date (I am writing this post on Monday) by the time I post this on Tuesday.

We must remember that each of those 500,000, each of those 2.7 million, were not a statistic.  They were people loved by others, fathers, mothers, grandparents, children, grandchildren.  We also seem to forget that fact too quickly, as some even argue about whether these statistics are fake.

There are also the millions more who are or will be long haulers, plagued by months and months of fatigue, infections, low oxygen, and more. 

And...

2.  That "famous writer whose last novel sparked a revolution..."  who was I even thinking of?  It certainly won't be me, although I actually wrote a post about the great COVID-19 novel back in May.

Then, there was the NaNoWriMo novel I tried to write several years ago.  I haven't tried to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November) for a few years.

That dream from the 1970's is still stuck in my head and it still reappears periodically. 

No, someone else will have to write that novel that will change the world and maybe show what happened to us to a future world.  Right now I don't have the energy or the ambition.

But, I can still dream.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Where Did Our Love Go? #MusicMovesMe

 

Welcome to another edition of Music Moves Me!

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only , please!)   First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-hostesses are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. Xmas Dolly has had some issues with her blog, but I hope she is able to join us today.

Each month we have a guest co-hostess who picks themes for the month, and this month we are featuring Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.

Songbird's theme for today is "You Pick".

Shamefully, given how much I loved the Supremes while growing up, I never paid tribute to the late Mary Wilson of the Supremes.  This talented singer and author, who also performed solo, died in her sleep at the age of 76 on February 8.
You Can't Hurry Love.

Stop! In the Name of Love.

Where Did our Love Go?  It's interesting that so many Supremes songs talked about love, something we don't seem to have enough of today.
 Here's a short clip of Mary Wilson singing "Floy Joy".

Finally, a longer clip of Mary Wilson performing Gloria Gaynor's hit song "I Will Survive".

 

Bonus song. Motown was such a part of my growing up, and Smoky Robinson is one of its most influential artists.  Smoky Robinson just celebrated his 81st birthday, so let's give him a birthday shout-out with a live performance of "Tracks of My Tears" from 2018.
 
Where has our love for each other gone?  I hope we can find it soon, without more sorrow.

That's a wrap!

See you again next Monday, same time same place.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

The supermarket we normally shop at, here in the Southern Tier of New York State, has a monthly magazine that includes several recipes drawn from various cookbooks.

The December issue had a recipe I decided to bake earlier this week.  I had all the ingredients and it was SmartPoints friendly for the WW (formerly Weight Watchers) program I follow to maintain my weight.

I don't do much scratch baking nowadays but I think this is going in the "yes, I am going to make this again" list.

If you are interested in the recipe here it is.

Basically, it uses old fashioned oats, canned pumpkin puree, and finely shredded carrots. some other add ins, and spices.  It's sweetened using maple syrup.

I used almond milk, as I don't keep dairy milk in the house.  The eggs I used were from someone my son knows and one of them turned out to be a double yolker.  I'm fortunate to live in an area where I can get farm fresh eggs from time to time even in the winter.


Verdict:  I might have baked this a minute or two longer, but they were nice and moist.  I ate several and am freezing the rest.  We'll see how the freezing works.

I haven't made muffins in years.  Several years ago  I would bake corn muffins and blueberry muffins.

How did I get out of the habit, I wonder?  I used to enjoy this activity.

It's interesting how we change with the years.

It's time to rediscover some of my roots.  




 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Dance Party

Today there was an inter generational dance party on Zoom.  I participated, along with over 10,000 other people.  This is AARP's fourth dance party with an organization called Daybreaker.  I've participated in two of them, having been told of these by a cousin.

The theme was "Motown" and, after some Chicago Steppin' lessons, I found myself with tangled feet. The feed froze for several minutes because so many people had joined, but the party was able to get restarted.

This was my second virtualdance party event, and there is one part of it that gets the tears flowing - when the DJ's show the video screens of people holding up pictures of family and friends that they miss, for whatever reason.  The DJ also showed us people dancing in their homes.


But before that, singer Thelma Houston sang a song that I love (although my spouse can't stand it).  I can't believe she will be 75 years old in May.

The years pass, don't they.  But did any of us ever suspect it would get this way?  A dance party with over 10,000 from all over the world?

It isn't all rainbows and unicorns, as the saying goes.

Two people I have worked closely with for years lost their fathers in the past three weeks - one in his sleep, one from COVID.  A third person who I occasionally had contact with at work (but I know others who worked with him closely) died after a 19 month battle with cancer.  That's just a small slice of what is happening all over the world in these days.  I don't need to make a list.  We all know it.

It is a sad time for everyone.

But history teaches us this lesson:  we must let go of the old world and embrace the new.  We can see the new world taking shape in a haze, but one day its identity will become clear.

Our children and grandchildren will bear witness to what happened in 2020 and 2021 to their children as my generation dies out, and one day, it will all be just a memory to be studied in history class, as "the Pestilence" (what we now call the Black Death") and the 1918 flu pandemic are to us. 

We may be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised by aspects of this new world, but one thing is certain:  we will always have music and dance, as long as humanity exists.  Until then, my dear readers, I hope you are staying safe and doing what is necessary to survive, and - yes, thrive.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Winter Sky Moods #SkywatchFriday

Winter has turned deadly.  From my heated living room in the Southern Tier of New York State, I watch what is happening in Texas and vicinity.  A co-worker's daughter in Austin was, as of Thursday, on day five of no electricity, no heat, and now, no water.  A cousin in a suburb of Ft. Worth fared better, and was able to give shelter to someone else.  At the worst of times, the best in people can come out.

Meanwhile, I am watching the sky.  Today, it's white with snow once again (we got several inches overnight) but the sky showed its various moods earlier this month.

How about a variety of February winter photos?

A white sky with hills in the distance.

A farm field.   Doesn't the sky seem to go on forever?

Along the Susquehanna River, near the last photo.


 A puddle reflection.

A contrail cutting across feathery clouds.

Our way of life is so fragile, just a massive power failure away from disaster, as Nature is reminding us right now.  I hope all of my readers are staying safe (and warm, if it's winter where they live.)

Joining Yogi and other sky watching bloggers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Raisins and Almonds 2021

Yesterday, a blogger I like to read regularly wrote about a lullaby that has become a tradition in her family.  It brought back a dear memory.

Back in 2016, I remembered a lullaby my father used to sing to me.  I can still hear his voice singing the refrain from the lullaby, in the language of his parents (a language I, in turn, never learned).  I said to myself, "After all these years, I wonder if I can use You Tube and a search engine to find the song?"

He passed away some 35 years ago but I still remember.

I have many childhood memories of my Dad.  I remember, especially, walks he would take me on some Sunday afternoons (no doubt, to give my stay at home Mom a break).  He would love to watch houses under construction, and we would walk to the construction sites. He would look at the houses-to-be.  I would listen to Yankee baseball games on a tinny sounding transistor radio.

Then, after my mother died, Dad raised me as a single father.  Things got rather stormy at times as I traveled through my teenage years, but he hung in there.

Anyway, about that lullaby.  It took about 20 minutes, but I found it, back in 2016.  I'd like to reintroduce it to my readers.

The English name is Raisins and Almonds. Please enjoy this performance by violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Itzhak Perlman contracted polio at age four and does not have full use of his legs.  He performs sitting down for that reason.  Many believe he is the greatest violinist alive today.

The song "Raisins and Almonds" was written in 1880 for the Yiddish theatre and the lyrics tell of a widow in Ukraine who rocks her only son to sleep, singing of a white goat who goes to market to bring home raisins and almonds.  In those days, in the "old country", both were luxury items.

This (with lyrics in both Yiddish and English) is is the original Yiddish version, as sung by actress Jane Seymour.

Jane Seymour, born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg, had a Jewish father. Two of her great aunts were Holocaust survivors.  Who knows, maybe her father sung this song to her.  My father sung this song to me, his only child, in Yiddish.

I never learned the lyrics, and I never sung it to my son.  A shame, in a way.

A song, a memory...what song brings back memories for you? 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Let's Have a Winter Picnic (Not) #WordlessWednesday

A rare winter day in a neighborhood we haven't explored in a long time brought us a surprise.

Snow prevented us from entering this park, but some animals didn't seem to have a problem.  Let's see what else we can find.

The entrance was blocked, true, but I was able to see an interesting picnic pavilion from the road.  The pavilion shows the name of the park, which is is covered in mosaics  Not a day for a picnic today, though.

Spring will be here.  One day.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her (not mine!) #WordlessWednesday.



Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Remembering the Ordinary

Last week, my spouse and I were idly talking when we found ourselves wondering when "the last time...." was.  The March trip we cancelled, the last time we went to a party, the last time we shopped in a grocery with full shelves, the last time we did so many once-ordinary things.

I took out my phone.  I like taking pictures, and those pictures, of course, are tagged with dates, times, and locations.

The memories came back, of the days before the mid-March shutdown.

Other memories followed - the last ordinary memories we would have for who knows how long.

A grand opening party of a downtown jewelry store.   Some food and a glass of wine was offered as we walked in.  I took a couple of pictures of the interior of the historic building it was in, and the date of the party was captured.

A sunrise over downtown Binghamton, New York, as I walked  to my office.

An ordinary lunch period, spent in the Broome County library garden.

A magnolia tree, its fuzzy buds awaiting the signal to open.

Crocuses blooming.

And then things, as the expression goes, took a sudden turn to the south. 

Image preview

Signs everywhere, warning us to wash our hands.

There was the day we went to the supermarket for some bagels.  We walked into the store not expecting what we saw - people leaving with carts full of toilet paper and paper towels.   A store full of empty shelves stripped of paper goods, milk, and even frozen food greeted us.  I took pictures.

A cafeteria downtown posted signs announcing seating was closed, and only "grab and go" permitted.

Finally, the photos of the back of my work computer, the photos our IT department asked me to take as they unhooked me so I could go home with my equipment.  In that way I would know how to hook myself back up at home.  I was expecting it but not so soon.

The date and time stamp for that said Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 9:36 a.m.  I barely had time to say goodbye.  I've only seen a handful of them since that day.  The people I used to interact with five days a week are disembodied voices and emails now.

I've been to downtown Binghamton perhaps five times since that day.  It used to be five days a week.

Ordinary memories are on my phone.  Ordinary memories from another world.

Some people ask why I have so many photos on my phone (over 11,000, currently.)

My phone acts as a memory of sorts.  But I never thought that the ordinary things my phone recorded would be so precious to me.

Our memories are precious.  Right now, we have two options:  living in the past and remembering the ordinary.  Or living in the present, as painful as it is, and moving forward each day towards better times.

I will move forward.

But today, I remember.


Monday, February 15, 2021

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day February 2021

Looking for my Music Moves Me Monday post?  It can be found here.

I hope, if you are here for music, you'll stay here for the flowers before you click on the above link.

Today is the 15th of the month and it's time to show what is blooming in our yards and/or houses.  As I blog this, millions down in Texas and other areas in the south and midwest are experiencing fierce ice and/or snow.  I lived in Texas back in  January, 1977 when Wichita Falls had a historic ice and snow storm, so my heart goes out to those in that area.

Where I live in zone 5b New York State, winter is in full force, but that's normal for us.  One would think there are no flowers in my small yard.  You see nothing but snow.  But do a little digging. Under the snow, we may find a white Lenten Rose, sheltering in place.  But I'm not going to dig through the snow to take it's picture.

If we are lucky we may have crocuses out by mid-March.  We'll see.

As for inside the house, I just have a sprinkling of flowers for you today

The primrose that I bought right after New Years is finishing up. 


This is the mum I decided on for my Valentine's Day gift.  I'd rather spend the money on a plant (even if it's one that won't ever make it if I plant it outdoors) than some cut flowers that are already dead.

My Thanksgiving cactii have been blooming in slow motion, one flower ever few months.  This is their latest effort.


An African violet is blooming with a bloom and a bud.  That's it.  The foliage is doing great, maybe too great.  I wonder if I over-fertilized it.

My impatien that I took a cutting of, and rooted, is happy on a northern windowsill. Yesterday it opened its third bloom.   The blooms come one at a time.


Finally, I have a happy spider plant that is producing baby spiderettes  No blooms are open today but I have several buds on the three spiderettes.

That's it for my blooms this February.  Why not visit some of the other bloggers who participate in this monthly meme?

Thanks go once again to Carol at May Dreams Garden, who brings us together each month.

Monday Leadership Music #MusicMovesMe

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only , please!)   First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-hostesses are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. Xmas Dolly has had some issues with her blog, but I understand she will attempt to join us today.

Each month we have a guest co-hostess who picks themes for the month, and this month we are featuring Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.

Songbird's theme for today is "Songs About Leaders".  Why?  Because this was supposed to be posted on a holiday in our country that honors all our Presidents, rather than on Valentine's Day. 

Yesterday's Valentine's Day was a bittersweet one this year, especially for everyone who lost a loved one this past year. 


So, before I dig into our theme, here's "I Will Always Love You" as sung by Dolly Parton.  I never realized this song, made famous by Whitney Houston was written and first sung by Dolly Parton.  What a treasure she is!  A leader of the music industry.

To me, leaders aren't necessarily Presidents or others who rule countries.  We find leaders throughout our society, including in some less likely places.

How about a boy from the wrong side of town.  Back in 1964, when this was a hit, there was a sub-genre of sorts one might call "teenage tragedy" songs.  These songs of the late 50's and early to mid 60's were full of teens dying in car accidents.  Here and there a plane crash was thrown in for variety, or even a suicide or two because teens in love weren't allowed to have a relationship for whatever reason.


This one is a tad different and, in my humble opinion, one of the best ones.  From 1964, the Shangri-las and "Leader of the Pack".


From 1988 - R.E.M. and "World Leader Pretend". 


Billy Joel's 1989 hit "We Didn't Start the Fire" isn't strictly about leaders but it mentions several.  I chose this lyric video rather than the official one - I hope you enjoy the historical slides that make up part of this presentation of events from 1959 to 1989.   Here is a visual listing of the events.

From 1968, Dion's hit "Abraham, Martin and John" mentions four leaders of our nation, two of whom were Presidents.   Dion grew up just a few miles (and a few years) from where I grew up.

My last selection is heartfelt and in line with today, Valentine's Day.  Dan Fogelberg's song "Leader of the Band/Washington Post March" is a tribute to his father Lawrence, who was a band leader. 

The song was released in late 1981, charted in 1982, and his father passed away later in 1982.  There is a pause at the end of the song after which a few bars of Sousa's "Washington Post March" play.  I never knew this until researching this song, but his father was conducting the band in that clip.

And that's a loving wrap.

See you again Monday February 22.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Love, Stanley

Valentines Day - each February 14, we are supposed to think of the ones we love. Nowadays, too many times, it is a commercial, "Hallmark" moment. (For those outside the United States, Hallmark is a famous maker of greeting cards, among other things.)  But during wartime, relationships of love become fragile.  Times are uncertain.  Bad things happen.

In a way, just like today's COVID-19 world.  This post from 2016 is even more poignant given the number of the "Greatest Generation" that COVID has taken from us.

Here's the story.

After relocating my late mother in law, up here to be closer to her and other family in our area, we were hanging pictures back on the wall of her apartment after the move.  There was a picture that my mother decided not to hang.

It was a picture of a soldier, most probably taken during World War II.  But something made her want the frame.  We disassembled it, and found a letter, a note and another photo.


The note reads "A Valentine.  To the most wonderful girl in all this world.  May never another Valentines Day pass that we are not together. A kiss for you and a kiss for me maybe two or three million."

"Love, Stanley", the note concluded.  This, the photo we found, was a photo of Stanley.  The girl who was his valentine was my spouse's aunt.

And yes, they both survived the war, and married.  They moved to Tuscon, Arizona, had children, and farmed garlic among other things.  I met them once, in the late 1970's, when my spouse and I visited Tuscon.

Both Stanley and his wife are now deceased, like so many of "The Greatest Generation." 

Do you have a Valentine's Day story to share today?

Saturday, February 13, 2021

A Library's Valentine's Gift (And a Recipe)

Our local public library does a book giveaway every year.  

It's simple.  The library wraps books in plain paper with a valentine heart attached.  They give a short description of the book.  If you want it, it's yours.

I didn't know if they would do it this pandemic year, but they did.

This is what I chose this year.   Let's unwrap it, shall we?

I'm looking forward to reading my gift book, although I have a number of books ahead of it in my queue.  It won't be right away.

Now, to what we really look forward to on Valentine's Day - chocolate.

For Valentine's Day tomorrow, I would like to give my readers a gift.  This is a dessert that my spouse has made for many years.   I'd like to share this with you.  (If you have an egg allergy, here's a recipe an award winning B&B owner I stayed at once posted on her blog).  Either way, you'll get your chocolate fix.

SPOUSE'S EASY CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
Take 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melt in microwave.
Beat 3 egg whites until they are midway between soft peak and hard peak.  (we use the refrigerated egg whites, which are pasteurized, as we do not have our own chickens.)
Take 1/3 cup cup rum. Add 1/4 cup sugar and mix with the rum until the sugar dissolves.  

Next, add the alcohol mixture to the chocolate, mix till smooth, and wait until the mixture has cooled a little.
Finally, fold in the egg whites.


Pour into dessert cups and chill, at least 4 hours.

I hope all my readers stay safe, and can enjoy tomorrow with someone they love.  

Friday, February 12, 2021

February Spiral #SkywatchFriday

This winter has not given us many good sunsets, or sunrises, for that matter.  Day after day, with some exceptions, the sky has been white with snow flurries, or grey with overcast.

But, here in February, we are seeing blue skies here and there.

I was fortunate enough to see a display of clouds that seemed just a little unusual, as the sun was beginning its journey to a nice winter's sleep.

We've been doing a lot of walking in our small immediate neighborhood.  As we walked, I saw this cloud formation.

The next picture I took blurred for some reason (my iPhone sometimes does that) as we walked near a place where we wouldn't be blocked by houses.

Here's the better view we saw there.

The best part of this is the "cloud donut" (or maybe a cloud bagel?) towards the upper right.  Or, maybe, it's a big sky ring?

Whatever it was, it sure is pretty.

Joining up with Yogi and the other sky watching bloggers who gather each Friday for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Marcescence #ThursdayTreeLove

In winter, where I live in the Northeast United States, many trees take a winter nap.  Before they go into their hibernation, the tree cuts off nutrition to its leaves.  They die and fall off.  Usually.


But not always.  

Sunday, we took a walk on the local Vestal Rail Trail.  Along the walking path, contrasted against the white snow at the bottom, the blue sky (rare where we live at this time of year), and the hill behind it, a tree stood.  Its leaves are brown and long dead but the leaves hang on.  In fact, they will hang on until spring.

There's a reason for this:  Marcescence.  This is an explanation of why this happens.

Oaks (which I think this tree is) are one of several trees that will do this.

Joining Parul at Happiness and Food for her #ThursdayTreeLove. Why not check out trees and bloggers from all over the world?

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Flood Pole Mystery #WordlessWednesday

For the first winter in a long time, we are doing a lot of walking outside.  Fortunately, the weather has had enough relatively mild stretches (ignoring our 41 inch snowstorm in December).  


Lately we've added some new neighborhoods to our routine.  On a walk this weekend, I saw this - a plot of land with poles and a "no mow zone flood mitigation" sign.  It's near the Susquehanna River, in a neighborhood which has had flooding in the past.  I know about no mow zones, but what are those poles for?


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Eagle and Crow

I'm sorry I don't have a better photo to describe what happened outside my backyard window on Sunday.

Nowadays, many of us practice Stay at Home.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to Stay at Home work remotely, help to teach our children, binge watch TV programs, exercise, listen to music, surf the interwebs, try to help others get the latest info on vaccine eligibility, do volunteer work, cook, and/or get bored and look out the window.

About that looking out the window, I've missed so much drama Nature has been showing me for free.

Last month, I blogged about watching crows exhibit wintertime behavior I had never noticed before the pandemic.  Why?  Because I am doing a lot of staying at home. 

On Sunday, my spouse looked out a backyard window and saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree.  He called me over.

We live in a semi-urban area - not rural at all.  There are houses all up and down our street.  We've seen bald eagles in a local park, whose paths still aren't that walkable due to a flood back in December.  But this is the first time we've ever seen a bald eagle in a tree right in our neighborhood. There is a creek nearby - I'm sure that had something to do with it.

Oh, did I say a bald eagle?  II meant two bald eagles!  

Both sat there majestically, each in its own tree.  Neither seemed to pay attention to the other.  (The other eagle was too far away and is not in the one picture I was able to take.)  Both perched in total stillness, knowing they were kings (or queens) of the birds.

I don't have much of a zoom - all I got was a dot in the upper center - one of the eagles

Things were about to heat up.  A solitary crow flew to a tree in between the trees.  Uh-oh, I thought.  Bald eagles, after all, are predators. Don't birds flee from them?

Actually, I found (after the incident), crows and eagles don't get along, but it's the crows who fight and win. 

It was midday and it was snowing lightly.  As the two eagles sat in total stillness, the crow bobbed its head, wiped its beak on the tree branch it was perching on, stretched, and moved around, not caring about his (or her) nearby companions.

After a few minutes, the crow flew away.  A few minutes later, one of the eagles left.

No fight.  No blood.  Just me, finally remembering to breathe.

I still can't believe it.

That staying at home thing....it isn't always so bad.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Purple Super Bowl Rain where The Streets Have No Name #MusicMovesMe

Welcome to another episode of Music Moves Me!

 

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only , please!)   First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-hostesses are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. As Xmas Dolly likes to say, "Applause!" 

Each month we have a guest co-hostess who picks themes for the month, and this month we are featuring Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.

Her theme for today is "You Pick".

Yesterday, in the United States, was the championship football game known as the Super Bowl (perhaps the biggest sporting event in the United States) and the featured entertainment at half time (always an honor) was the up and coming Canadian artist The Weeknd. 

The Weeknd (the "e" before "nd" is left out intentionally, to avoid legal conflicts with a group called The Weekend)'s real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, who will be turning 31 in just a few days.  This is not from the halftime show, but this song was the final song in his set.

I only know a couple of his songs, including one called "Blinding Lights".  It has such an 80's vibe, and I love it.  Some believe that the song refers to this artist's (admitted) on and off drug use.

But this catchy song inspired me to make today's post about past Super Bowl music performances by some of the most popular or best artists ever.  Here, for your amusement, is a ranking of the Super Bowl halftime performances once they became music events (they weren't for the first few years).


 The late Tom Petty performs at Super Bowl 42 (2008) with a slightly shortened performance of  "Running Down Dreams".


The late Prince rocked a rainy Super Bowl 41, including this performance of Purple Rain.  He was performing in dangerous conditions but pulled it off.  Check out the guitar starting around 1:17.


In 1998 (Super Bowl 32) there was a tribute to Motown with various artists.   It's some 12 minutes but features a number of artists.


I will end this with U2's 2002 Super Bowl performance, months after the events of 9/11, which the concert paid tribute to.

And that's a wrap!

Join me again next week, same time, same place.

 


Sunday, February 7, 2021

A Day of Commercials

For this Super Bowl Sunday, which is predicted to be snowy for us in the Northeast United States, I wanted to take it a little easy. I thought:   How about some Super Bowl commercials, past and present? You don't need to like football to enjoy these, I promise.

In some quarters, caution has replaced celebration.  In other quarters, people are trying to pretend the pandemic doesn't exist.  That isn't a good game plan.

It's ironic that about 1/3 of the 22,000 seats at the Super Bowl this year have been reserved for health care workers - the people charged with saving those who have contracted the virus and need medical care.   These workers have been working non stop, despite ridicule and denial.  If Super Bowl parties become superspreaders, they will be working many more hours.

Does anyone care?  Does anyone care that, besides hospitalizations, the virus rapidly multiplying may cause current mutations to spread faster, and new ones to develop?

This is a sore point for me.  Someone I've worked with for years lost her father this week thanks to COVID. My sister in law has a cousin in the hospital right now with COVID.   COVID has touched the lives of my family, and other people I know, and I don't even know that many people.

Maybe we should all just sit home and watch commercials or a good movie.

As my readers in the United States know, big bucks are spent on these commercials because they cost so much to air.  Commercial air time rates at the Super Bowl are - well, supersized.  The cost has been downsized a bit due to the pandemic, and many of the usual big players sat this one out.  

Today, let's see some classic commercials, and a couple of new ones.


With a few small changes, this could be 2021 - Clint Eastwood and "It's Halftime in America" from 2012.

Ray Charles in 1990 picks the right diet cola.

Nowadays, some of the commercials are released ahead of time.  Here are two of them, with a number of cameos.

Speaking of cameos, here are some sports cameos, but with a great message about Joy.

Back to the past: In 1984, Apple introduces what many consider as the best Super Bowl commercial ever.  And, in that year, guess where the Super Bowl was played?

Tampa, Florida.  

Stay safe, my readers.

Join me tomorrow for Super Bowl music and #MusicMovesMe.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Super Bowl Tampa and A Couple of Dip Recipes

It's Super Bowl time - socially distanced, of course, for me.  Usually we would have had a handful of family over for snacks but not this year.

One place I will not be tomorrow is Tampa, Florida.  I will be in my living room with my spouse, no visitors (alas), with some munchies and the TV.

Anhinga along Bayshore Blvd, Tampa, January 2020

I can dream of Tampa, though.  I lived there for nearly two years in the mid 1970's and have been back a handful of times (I have a cousin who lives there).   My last visit was January 2020.


Tampa boasts the longest continuous sidewalk in the world, at 4.5 miles - Bayshore Boulevard, which runs along Hillsborough Bay.   Here is one of the mile markers. 

This picture of Bayshore Blvd is from March of 2013 and gives you an idea of the length.

So what will we have to eat?  My regular readers know I have followed Weight Watchers programs (more or less) since September 2012, so no calorie busters here.

We will have homemade guacamole.  It is so simple - peel ripe avocados, mash (we like ours chunky), add chopped sweet pepper (orange, yellow, or red), garlic, scallions (green onions), a little salt, a touch of homemade ground chili pepper if you wish, and a touch of lime juice. 

Salsa makes a wonderful dip and is point free on WW. It's so easy to make, too, if you have good fresh tomatoes available. If not, use canned dice tomatoes (preferably fire roasted diced tomatoes).  Simply chop up ripe fresh tomatoes or use the canned ones, combine with chopped pepper and onions, season with cilantro, lime juice, salt to taste, jalapenos if you like it spicy.    

Happy Super Bowl Sunday.  What are your plans, if any?

Friday, February 5, 2021

February Blue Sky #SkywatchFriday

Yesterday was not the most usual day where I live in New York State.  In the winter, many other parts of the state might have a sunny day. But because of our location somewhat close to our Finger Lakes, our skies, more often than not, are grey. Or even white.

If we see true blue skies it is usually because it is bitter cold.  But not yesterday.


Yesterday the skies were blue.


But the temperature was close to 40 degrees F (4 Celsius).


True, we still had glops of snow everywhere.  Make no mistake, it's still winter.

I think Nature must have made a mistake and given us someone else's sky.

Sshhhh, don't tell Mother Nature!  But no worries.  Today we'll be back to our usual weather programming.

How our sky usually looks

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

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Unknown Sit-In

Imagine growing up in a city and never knowing of a historic event that people you knew from church participated in during their youth.  You work for a major TV network and yet...you never knew.

Or....

Imagine living in a city and working in its downtown for three years in the 1970's and never knowing of a historic event that happened in a building you passed twice a day on the way to and from work.

It's hard to imagine.  Or is it?

The history of African-Americans in our United States is a story of so much hidden, so much buried.  So much needs to be uncovered.  

Sheinelle Jones  grew up in Wichita, Kansas and has deep roots in the black community of Wichita.  But she did not know about the Dockum sit in in downtown Wichita, Kansas in July of 1958, until recently.  Ms. Jones just happens to be the host of the 3rd hour of the Today show, a morning show on our NBC network.  Today, she did two segments on this historic sit in.

And that person who lived in Wichita in the 1970's when her spouse was stationed at the local Air Force base and passed by the building (now a hotel with a Starbucks) twice a day?  That was me.  I had no idea, either.  No historic marker.  No write up in the Wichita Eagle-Beacon (now, the Wichita Eagle) newspaper that I can remember.

I was absolutely amazed to watch this Today show segment.  You may be, too.

Many people associate segregation with the American South.  Not so.  In 1950's Wichita, segregation was alive and thriving.  Black children could not swim with whites in the municipal pools.  Nor could they go into Dockum's Drug Store (a Kansas chain), sit at the lunch counter, and have a refreshing soda. Why?  Because of the color of their skin. 

Students decided to change that, to peacefully protest by sitting at the counter all day, day after day, until the owner gave in and served them.  It took three weeks.

Other sit-ins are more famous.  Nor was the Wichita Dockum Drug Store sit-in of 1958 the first sit-in  action taken by black students.  But it was the first successful student led sit-in. After those three weeks the Dockum Drug Store chain (and Rex-All drugs) integrated its lunch counters.  

How this segment of the Today show came to be was even more amazing. The granddaughter of the Dockum owners, who was a baby when the sit-in occurred, was moved by the nationwide protests this past summer, and moved to act by her Christian faith.  She decided to apologize and meet some of the protesters, but the pandemic prevented her doing that in person.  Instead, she did a zoom call, organized by a local TV station, and apologized to seven of the protesters.  They talked for a bit.

The granddaughter of the Dockum store owner in Wichita calls the sit in protesters "heroes".

I like to tell my readers that history is not a dry collection of dates to memorize.  It is living, breathing.

It is our story, history, for good or for bad.  To learn from and improve going forward, or not.


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Snow Prints #WordlessWednesday

The footprints are normally hidden.  We normally don't see footprints on village concrete, on village driveways.  But we do have secret visitors to the outsides of our homes.


 But when it snows, it's a different matter.


Our visitors are revealed. 

I wish I could have placed the camera closer but with my back and knee, I didn't dare.  These aren't clear enough for me to identify.  

Cats? Rabbits? Raccoons?  I wonder who my secret winter visitors are.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus today for her #WordlessWednesday.


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Pandemic Groundhog Day 2021

Time continues to march on.  Here we are in February, and another Groundhog Day has come.

The rules are simple.

If the groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil (he or she lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania) sees its shadow, we have six more weeks of winter.  If the groundhog doesn't see its shadow, we get an early spring.  Here's a little history of that tradition.

The groundhog usually sees his shadow.  Due to the pandemic, the party surrounding Phil's appearance in 2021 will all be virtual (starting at 6:30 am EST)But it's never too late to plan your visit for 2022. 

It's sad in a way - normally thousands of people are there before dawn, waiting for the big moment. Now it's just a handful of people.

 
In 2015, one of our harshest Northeast winters in many years, the ground hog saw its shadow, despite the fact that it was overcast, and a rain/snow mix was moving in.  Somehow, that ground hog almost always sees its shadow.  In 2013, it didn't see its shadow and we still got six more weeks of winter.

The groundhog almost got the death penalty for that one.

In 2016, it was unseasonably warm for us.  This year?  It got up to 42F (5.5 Celsius) at our house yesterday. This post from 2014 shows a more typical February day.

Then there was 2019 and the polar vortex.  We in upstate New York didn't get the brunt of it, but still.  The morning before we set a new record of -10 (-23 C) with gusting winds.

2020, as we prepared to enter a pandemic period, the groundhog did not see its shadow.  But the weather did not listen, and we had a miserable spring, in the midst of our lockdown.  We even got snow in May, where I live in New York State.

So, what about 2021?  Actually, Punxsutawney Phil isn't the only groundhog in the United States that predicts the weather.  Buffalo, New York has one too, and it has already - er, spoken.

He didn't see his shadow.  Six more weeks of winter.

Meanwhile, we are in the middle of a snowstorm.

So there.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Sweet! #MusicMovesMe

 

Welcome to Monday!  It's time for #MusicMovesMe.

Who are the #MusicMovesMe bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Monday and if you have music to share with us, you are most welcome to join! (Music Posts Only , please!)   First, there is XmasDolly,   Her co-cohostesses are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. As Xmas Dolly likes to say, "Applause!"  Xmas Dolly had to miss some of January and I hope she'll be able to join us soon.

Each month we have a guest co-hostess who picks themes for the month, and this month we welcome Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.

If you are interested in our themes for February (we'd love you to join us) you can find themes for 2021 here.  

For today, Songbird picked:  National Baked Alaska Day.  It is also Candy-making Day, Candy Decorating Day and Dark Chocolate Day.  So let’s have songs about “sweet” things. I'll expand this a little to include people and songs that mention sweets but maybe aren't too sweet.

I just did a honey post a couple of weeks ago, but let's see what I can come up with.  There's one piece of bad news I need to pass along: In my January 4 post I had blogged about a British war hero who may be the oldest person to have a #1 recording.   He is Captain Tom Moore, a 100 year old  who raised a substantial amount of money for National Health Service charities by walking a loop of his garden over and over during the lockdown last year.   He is now in the hospital with COVID-19. 


In the spirit of wishing Captain Moore well, let's sing about sweet things.

Let's start off with a 1958 hit of my childhood, "Sugartime", as sung by the McGuire Sisters.


"Sweet Cherry Wine" was a 1969 hit for Tommy James and the Shondells.  I loved their sound then, and I still love it today.


In 1969, Sweet Caroline was a big hit for the incomparable Neil Diamond.  I've had this song on my blog before (including one performance at a Red Sox game) so I decided this pandemic 2020 version would be the best version for today.  And, as a bonus, I have the same sweater as the person on the left at :.45.

 Candy Man -Sammy Davis Jr.  I chose a 1985 live version. 


Let's progress to the 1980's, 1987 to be exact, with Lips Like Sugar - Echo and the Bunnymen

I had thought about putting in "Sugar" by System of a Down" but I decided it was a just a bit intense for what I offered. But I wanted something a little harder. So:


Here's the last one - from 1987, it must have been a sweet year.  Def Leppard and Pour Some Sugar On Me.

And that's a sweet, sugary wrap.  See you next time, same time, same place.