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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Flowers Before Winter Resumes #WordlessWednesday

Hard to believe this is the last day of March. Tomorrow begins the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, when I must create a blog post, one for each letter of the alphabet, starting with A.  Tomorrow is A, Friday is B, and so forth (except for Sundays, which is an off day).

So, while I can still choose my topics, I am featuring crocuses in my front yard. 


Yesterday was sunny and mild.  Today it rains.  Tomorrow we are supposed to get a snowstorm with maybe a couple of inches (5 cm) of the white stuff.  Then we all go well below freezing.

We've learned here in the Southern Tier of New York State to enjoy spring while we can.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Perseverance

Every day, little dramas present themselves in front of our eyes, to observe, or not.  

Saturday, my spouse stepped out onto our Southern Tier of New York front porch to get the newspaper, and noticed that two birds were building a nest on our front porch light.  Several nests have been built there over the years, but this was not the usual birds we've seen. (We suspect what nested there in the past were house finches, but that's only a guess).

One bird was doing the work and the other one simply stayed close in a nearby bush.  They were both perpetually in motion.  I was able to get three pictures. I was able to edit two enough to use.

The bird, about the size of a sparrow, is in the extreme upper right hand corner, perched in a rhododendron bush near our porch. It's hard to see but the beak is not that of a finch or sparrow. It's somewhat thin with a slight curve.

This may be the better one. Again, see the extreme upper right. The tail was held up and the bird flicked it constantly.

We used the online "Merlin" (not enough room on my phone to install - but, thanks to one of my regular readers, I have a flash drive on order that can plug into my  iPhone's lightning port so hopefully that won't be a problem soon. )Merlin will give you educated "guesses" of a bird you saw based on five multiple questions it asks you:  where the sighting was, what date, how big, up to 3 colors, and what the bird was doing.

Using my photos (thankfully I had these photos) we tentatively ID'd this bird as a Carolina Wren.

Here's the nest it was building Saturday morning.

Sadly, by afternoon, the nest was gone, and the debris was left for us to clean up.  We didn't touch it though, just in case the birds returned.

On Sunday, they did.  Here's what the nest looked like late Sunday afternoon.  Yesterday, I didn't see any activity.  I'm sure the birds will return.

They didn't give up right away.

They persevered.  Can't wait to see what happens next.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Frank, Glenn and Dean #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, and it's time to join up with other music bloggers 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-hosts are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. Each month we have a guest post and this week is the last week of hosting and co-hosting for our own Xmas Dolly.

XmasDolly, this week, asks us to honor her mama's birthday by building a playlist with songs by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Glen Miller.

Frank Sinatra was one of my mother's favorite singers, so I'm happy to oblige with two of my personal favorites.

I was born, and grew up in, New York City, so this first song is a natural.  "New York, New York". 


I love this video taken when Frank Sinatra made the studio recording of "It Was a Very Good Year". Watch this master at work.   Watch his facial expressions.  One man, one orchestra, one take. I can not listen to this song without tears, and the older I get, the more precious these lyrics are.  

Let's switch to Glen Miller. A talented musician and bandleader, he disappeared mysteriously during a flight to Paris in December of 1944.  His body or the plane he was on were never recovered.


His famous "In the Mood", from 1939.


"Song of the Volga Boatmen" is an old Russian folk song that was published in 1866.  Here's Glenn Miller and his Orchestra performing it in 1941.

Finally, Dean Martin.  His TV shows were a staple of 1960's TV.

That's Amore.
 

Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime.

I have a special announcement. I will be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this April, so my posts will correspond with the letter of that day. Wish me luck!

And that is a wrap!

Join me again next Monday for more music.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Fifty One Years Later

Sometimes life takes interesting turns.

In March of 1970, I was a senior in a high school in the Bronx (a borough of New York City).  In June of that year, I graduated, and matriculated that September into a commuter college about half a mile away. 

In October of 1970, I met my future husband, who was in one of my freshman classes.

Several months later I met his family (who did not live in the City), including his sister, who was then in elementary school.  She always enjoyed her visits to New York City, and eventually moved there.  Meanwhile, I, who never liked the city life, escaped as soon as I could.

Fast forward to 2021.

We are a year into a pandemic, the scope of which would have been hard to imagine in 1970.

Yesterday, I got a text from the woman who became my sister in law.  She attached a photo.  She told me she just got her first vaccine shot, and asked me to "guess where I got the vaccine".

The photo was of the front entrance of my high school. I recognized it right away. It hadn't changed much in 51 years except I think the color of the doors is different. I haven't been in the building since I graduated. I was supposed visit it last year for an alumni reunion but COVID took care of that.

We texted back and forth a little. She told me about walking from the subway stop, and passing by my college on the way to my high school. This neighborhood is nowhere near where she usually travels in the City, and she was there only because it was where appointments were available.  But, here she was, walking (so to speak) in my 51 year old footsteps.

Now, imagine someone came to me in March of 1970 and told me about these parts of my future.

Would I have believed them?

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Homeslice

 I don't know if I will ever see a Scarlet Tanager, or be on an oceangoing research vessel.

But I loved this magazine article about a migrating songbird that may have been blown off track, and found a temporary home on a research vessel.  She rested and regained her strength on a diet of fruit and (sorry, birds) scrambled eggs.  The crew named her "Homeslice".

The Scarlet Tanager summers in my part of the United States, although I have never knowingly seen one.  My introduction to birding was the pandemic and I have a long, long way to go in increasing my knowledge.

Twice a year, the Scarlet Tanager migrates to and from winter grounds in South America.  The more I learn about the migration of birds, the more I am amazed by these little flying miracles of Nature.

Last year, it was time for the birds to rescue us.

During the lockdown, the researcher who wrote this article found herself alone in a New York City apartment.  The sounds of traffic and busyness were replaced by birdsong and the wind.

Now, it was us, the humans, adrift in a sea of pain and uncertainly.  Some of us were lured to mental safety by the sounds of nature.  We turned to watching birds and other creatures we may not have paid much attention to before.  We watched the trees and flowers go through their annual cycles.

Even now, I treasure the crocus blooming in my front yard as spring unfolds.  I walk in my neighborhood, and hear cardinals, blue jays, and many birds whose songs and calls I don't know yet.


I may be happy it is spring, but I know too many of us must feel like Homeslice, lost at sea, wondering if we will ever reach a safe haven.  I don't know the answer, either, but I do know we must keep trying.  



Friday, March 26, 2021

The Bridge #SkywatchFriday

Last Friday, my spouse and I walked what we call the "extension" of the Vestal, New York rail trail.  It was a beautiful almost-spring day with clear blue skies.

It was so clear out you could see the shadows of the trees where the water had risen due to spring snowmelt.

Sumac lined this portion of the trail.  The little black dots are what remains of last year's sumac berries.


One of the highlights is an old bridge which has been repurposed as a pedestrian bridge for the trail.

In its old life, it could hold some vehicle weight.

People have left locks on the fence at one end of the bridge.  These are called love locks (although they don't show love for the bridge - some people don't realize that).  I blogged about the love locks in 2018; since then, the collection has grown.


I am ending with a sunset picture I took back in 2019 when spouse and I visited Oswego, New York, along Lake Ontario.  I had to clean out some pictures on my phone today - I finally got the dreaded message that my iPhone was full and it was refusing to install an update.  So I ran across this and it's a nice way to end today's post.

Maybe I'll post some more Oswego pictures for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, which starts April 1.

Joining up today and every Friday with Yogi's #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Cardinal Dot in Tree #ThursdayTreeLove

As far as our neighborhood birds are concerned, spring is a busy time of year.

A male Northern cardinal was high up in a tree about four days ago, calling and calling.  With my iPhone SE first edition, I zoomed in as much as I dared but this is all I got.  Hopefully you can see the red dot in the top center of the tree. That's the male cardinal.

Our male cardinals are a beautiful red bird.  Too bad all you are seeing is a red dot.  Here's some more information on this beautiful bird.

But wait, isn't this Thursday Tree Love?

Trees and many birds are inseparable.  Birds feast on their berries (and sometimes, their flowers.)  They nest in the tree branches or in holes within the tree trunk.  Some birds (such as woodpeckers) peck insects out of the bark.

And now, back to the Northern cardinals.

I tried some photography again without much more success.  By then, a female cardinal (much less colorful) was responding.  I couldn't get her, but I enjoyed their back and forth for several minutes.  And, isn't that blue sky wonderful contrasted against trees almost ready to bloom and leaf out?

It's a wonderful time of spring, before the trees leaf out, and you can see the bird action - sometimes.  It's a nice hobby when you need something to keep your mind off of reality.

Joining Parul and her twice monthly #ThursdayTreeLove.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Wood Duck #WordlessWednesday

For this #WordlessWednesday, I am using a photo from my guest photographer, who lives out in the country in the Southern Tier of New York State.


This is a photograph of a male wood duck taken in wetlands near Great Bend, Pennsylvania, with her DSLR.  He looks almost unreal - so spectacular. 

Maybe one day I will get a better camera than my iPhone SE first edition, but for now, enjoy this wonderful photo.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus today for #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Seven in Seven

I had a post all ready on the beauty of spring.  But then the tragedy in Boulder, Colorado happened.

We've had seven mass shootings in seven days here in the United States.  In Boulder, a gunman walked into a supermarket about 2:30 pm Mountain time and killed 10 people, including the first police officer to respond.  This officer had switched careers just to become a police officer.

There was even a livestream on You Tube of the scene, which I have not viewed. The police officer was the father of seven and also leaves a grieving wife.

I have a Facebook friend with a son in Boulder.  He is safe.  I also work with a woman whose daughter lives in Boulder and I'll know in a few minutes if she is safe. She had moved there less than six months ago.  

Boulder is a city of about 100,000.  I was there once, years ago, on the way to somewhere else.  There was something special about Boulder then. 

We can wish this isn't happening but these shootings are.  Will we have the will to face our gun problems this time?  How many more times will a community face a mass shooting incident?  (Mine did, blocks from where I work, in 2009, and the anniversary is coming up in early April.)

All I can do is turn to my previous scheduled post.

Crocuses.  Some people measure spring by the position of the sun relative to the Earth.  Some measure spring by how sweetly the birds sing.  Some look for the first trees to bloom.  Me, I measure spring by the first crocus at my house.
 
True, crocuses have been in bloom in my area of upstate New York for several days now.  But my front yard is situated in a way that it doesn't warm up as rapidly as some.
 
Today was the big day.  Thanks to the pandemic, I am still working at home.  
 
At lunchtime I stepped out for a short walk and this is what greeted me.
 

Not only that, but after work, there was another one.

Spouse and I took a walk after my work day was over, and we saw this in another yard.

It's spring.  The robins were trying to tell me that, as were the cardinals, but the crocuses have made it official.

It's lovely.

It's marvelous.

Little things can bring such joy, even in a period of increasing tragedy.

I will get to those other posts before the Blogging from A to Z challenge begins, hopefully.  Speaking of which, I will be blogging about New York State daily, except Sundays, during the month of April.  I hope you will join me in this virtual journey.

Monday, March 22, 2021

What's That You Said? #MusicMovesMe

It's that time to join up with other music bloggers 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-hosts are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. Xmas Dolly is finally up and running.  It's spring, and it's a good day!

Each month we have a guest host who picks themes for the month, and this month we are featuring our very own founder and head host, Xmas Dolly

The theme for today is "You Pick". 

The other day, one of the Music Moves Me blog posts reminded me of a song that was a hit in 1963. This song is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  It also was famous for its mumbled lyrics.  About all the lyrics many can understand is "Louie Louie" and "oh no".

Perhaps because of that, a lot of people felt that obscene lyrics were hidden in the mumbling - so much so that the FBI ended up doing a three month investigation into the song in 1964.  Their conclusion?  They couldn't find anything wrong.


Here are the Kingsmen with Louie Louie.

When I found Louie Louie on You Tube, You Tube recommended I listen to 1980's"Ah Leah" by Donnie Iris, and, for once, I decided to take its advice.  This is another song I enjoy, so why not?  The two songs did seem to fit together in a way.

"Ah Leah", in turn, led me to Autograph's 1984 top 40 hit "Turn Up The Radio". Coincidentally, it's another song I like.


In 1975, Bruce Springsteen hit the charts with "Born to Run".  You Tube didn't lead me to this song but listening to the other songs did. This live version, I think, has less mumbling than the studio version.  I can still remember Bruce Springsteen making the cover of Time Magazine back when this song came out.


Finally, this wasn't recommended by You Tube, but it popped into my mind.  Such beautiful lyrics, and (sorry Beatles) so superior to their original.  "Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds". I've read that even the Beatles thought Elton John's version was superior to their original.

And that is a wrap!  Next week-same time, same place, and hope you visit me again for more Music!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Forever Young 2021 edition

This, with some edits, is a rerun of a post from 10 years ago.  It's about my spouse's 40th high school reunion.

The Dancing Queen.  No longer 17.

The administrator for a children's hospital on the West Coast.  The merger and acquisitions lawyer up from Washington DC.  The school psychologist practicing in Virginia.  The financial consultant.  The grandmother of three fresh from a trip to Hawaii.  The produce clerk.  The man taking constant phone calls because his father was in the hospital, a thousand miles away.

What did we all have in common?   Six hours of dancing, talking, sharing email addresses, and looking at old photos.

A 40th high school reunion.

Not mine, but my husband's.  One of his friends organized it.  Before last night I had only met one of these people, and to my amazement, I recognized him the minute I saw him.  

My husband was already in college when I met him so his high school years was a part of his life that I was never able to share.

Until now.

There was the woman who, surveying the room, said to me "This is surreal".  Yes it was and I bet everyone who goes to a reunion (especially the 30th, the 40th, and beyond) thinks the same thing.  When you age, the people you knew in your childhood (if you don't see them as adults) are frozen in time.  The people you went to high school with are, in your mind, forever 17 and 18.  Even if they are really 58 or 60.  (Or, 65 or 66).

Until you go to the reunion, that is, and this is the surreal part.  You walk into the room and see a bunch of middle aged people just like you.  Some look like their yearbook photos.  Many do not. Many of us grey, all of us wrinkled, some of us in shape, others not so much.  Some of us have achieved great things.  Some have lived the lives they had planned to live but for many of us our lives have taken many unexpected directions.  Some good, some not.

We are older, wiser.  We accept the class clown, we reminisce about old antics,  we laugh with and hug the classmate who had too much to drink and is now trying to cry on everyone's shoulder.  We know this moment isn't going to be forever.  We know when we have the next reunion we will be near 70.  Maybe we should have these more often.

Will we do that?

Or will we be reabsorbed into our daily lives?  Only time will tell.


 


But for that one night we were....forever young. 


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Strawberry Spring

Today, it is the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.  Where I live in the Southern Tier of New York State, we had clear blue skies and springlike weather today.  Bulbs are coming up although my crocuses haven't decided to bloom yet.

This year's big surprise:  strawberries.

Last spring, I bought a strawberry plant - although considered an ornamental, it does produce good tasting tiny strawberries.  I planted it in a large hanging basket.  We got a handful of ripe berries from the plant last year. When the cold weather moved in, we moved the plant to our unheated garage, and hoped for the best.

Last week we visited the plant, and it was obviously alive.  We were able to put it outside on a couple of sunny days. We still have to take it in at night.

Today, this is how my plant greeted spring.  It's definitely broken dormancy.  It may have helped that we had a relatively mild (temperature wise) winter - it never got below zero at our house.

We haven't started any seeds yet, but tomorrow, we will go over to our community garden and plant sugar snap peas in my raised bed planter.  The in ground plots don't normally get plowed until May.  We haven't started tomatoes yet - this year decided to start them a little late.  But it will be time really soon.

I'm thinking of growing some swiss chard in a large pot again this year. We planted a couple of plants from seed in a pot last year and they did well - "proof of concept". I think we've given up on growing cucumbers in a large planter - we get some but then they get mold, or a weird thing where they grow with one pinched end and the cuke's growth is stunted.  Obviously we are doing something wrong.

The birds in our neighborhood are quite active.  Along the river, we saw the underbelly of what "may" have been a 2nd year juvenile bald eagle in flight - it was large and had a beautiful pattern on the underside of its wings.  It flapped a few times, wings held straight, and then soared a few seconds, then flapped again.  It almost made me gasp.  We saw one adult bald eagle (first time ever) along the river several times in late fall, so, who knows. On the other hand, we are just beginning our birding journey so I'm sure we will make a lot of ID mistakes along the way.

As a bonus, my one blooming African violet is putting up more flower buds.  I killed some house plants over the winter, and wonder if I was giving them too much love, since I'm home most all the time.

So, let's call today "strawberry spring" and see what else the weekend brings.

What about you?

Friday, March 19, 2021

Along the River #SkywatchFriday

This week, I've spent some time with my spouse watching the river near our home in the Southern Tier of New York.  There have been a couple of great sunrises, too, but I wasn't able to catch them in their full glory.

Before I show you the river, how about a couple of those sunrise photos?

The problem was, the beautiful redness was almost totally hidden by houses and I was in my house slippers.  As usual, there are the power lines, too, which I've made my peace with.  


Here's slightly another view.  If only I could briefly remove those trees on the right...you'll just have to take my word for it.  It was so red.  But now, let's move to the river.

Sometimes the skies are dramatic.

It's hard to see but just to the left of center, between two trees, there are two small dots.  Ducks.

Sometimes,it's the reflection of the sky. (yes, the river level is up above some trees, due to spring snow melt.)

Let's try again to see a duck. Again, just left of center, and just a little dot.

As I do each Friday, joining up with Yogi at #SkywatchFriday.  

Tomorrow is officially spring.

Here's hoping it's a good one.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Last Full Day

I'm posting a bit later than I do on weekdays.  I had a post all ready to go, and put it back in my drafts because I realized what today was.

Last week, I had mentioned NBC News' "Last Day" project, where people sent the network the last pictures they took before the pandemic struck.  These photos documented events in the everyday life that we all took for granted.

I don't quite count photos taken on the day the pandemic was declared as my last photos.  In a way, I count March 19 as the "last day" as it was the day my work life changed.  My work, where I spent over 40 hours each week, was a big part of my waking life.

I would take photos on my lunch hour (and you'll see some of these in April, during the Blogging from A to Z Challenge). Sometimes I would take pictures of sunrises and sunsets on the way to or from work, too.  But, on March 19, 2020, that all changed.  

Tomorrow, it's a year since I was sent home to work.  Today, one year ago, was my last full day at work.

This is a portion of an email I sent to my guest photographer about 10pm the day I was sent home, with some edits.

"At least I feel fine - for now.

[My employer's] plan is to have 80% of people working from home by the end of next week...

I was scheduled for the first wave, to be working from home [Friday, March 20, 2020].  [HR and IT people] were going around the building meeting with each department.  So I got hold of my son  and he got the ethernet wire in his old bedroom hooked up to our router.  I cleaned up his old desk, still in his room. It's in rough shape but it's a desk, and it's on the 2nd floor so I don't get in my spouse's way.

Well, about 9:30 am  today [IT] shows up at my desk and says, "I'm packing your  [equipment] up.  So she's disconnecting me and putting everything into boxes ....taking my computer and related stuff and loading it onto a cart.  I said, give me a half hour to pack up my desk and get my spouse down here.

[Co-worker] helped me take them down (my back wouldn't have survived) to find all my boxed stuff on the floor near the security guard, so [co-worker] picked it up, box by box, and helped me carry it out to my spouse.

And that is how I left [employer].

I opened the back hatch of our vehicle to find the entire back cargo area filled with bags of cow manure (don't ask).  I almost lost it right there, right in front of [co-worker]. We had to put everything on the back seat and I told spouse don't you dare brake hard because this is all going to go flying...

I was back up about noontime.  There were a couple of glitches but actually it went quite well,  It's really weird having my work computer at home."

It's still there.

Meanwhile, everything was closing down around us.  The city I worked in declared a state of emergency on March 16 and our first county case of COVID was announced on March 17, 2020. State mandates were closing businesses, and I was sent home a day earlier than expected because of a state mandate affecting occupancy of office buildings.
 
Many of us at my company are still working from home (and I am grateful I can continue to do so until some unspecified time.)  In fact, I am not permitted into the building.  I haven't been in there since March 19, 2020.
 
Thinking about it still makes me emotional.  Perhaps that day was the moment I realized just how much our lives were about to change.
Taken March 20, 2020 in my front yard

Change happens for many reasons.  When was a moment you realized your life was about to change?

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Graupel #WordlessWednesday

Have you ever heard of (or seen) graupel?

Graupel is a word defined as "precipitation that forms when supercooled water droplets are collected and freeze on falling snowflakes."  It is not the same as hail or sleet.

We see it on occasion where I live in New York State.  Yesterday, it fell during my late afternoon walk.  I was able to take a picture of the graupel around my white Lenten rose blooms.  It's the grainy white stuff on the ground next to my flowers.

I can't wait for spring.


Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Crochet Summit

Crochet has been teaching me lessons for the past 50 plus years.

50 plus years...I wonder at that sentence, and think of the freshman (as we were called back then) girl going to a commuter college who admired a crochet vest made by a fellow student she knew from high school.

S. was talented.  She had taken a denim jacket and embroidered the back into a work of art, complete with an overarching rainbow.  And she crocheted, something that my mother had done once.  She had never taught me before she died when I was in eighth grade, possibly because of her rheumatoid arthritis.

But now, S. was offering to teach me to crochet.  I took her up on her offer, and she taught me the chain stitch and the slip stitch. (No, you don't need to know what these are to enjoy this post, I promise you.)  I self taught myself some other stitches.  

Crochet was love at first chain, and I've been crocheting ever since.

I don't remember my first project, a scarf made with the chain stitch.  It was awful.  Of course it was, no one ever achieves perfection with their first project, or even their 5000th.  

I have to remember that now, because, for the first time ever, I clicked on a Facebook ad. 

I could say The Devil Made Me Do It.  Anyway, the ad was for a Crochet Summit.  And it was FREE.

Yes, I know.  Online nothing is ever free.  But I went ahead and signed up.  It's five days, April 5 through 9th.

This summit is five days of free classes in crochet, some for beginners, some not.  And yes, the summit is free.  But the catch is (drum roll):  each day's classes (which are prerecorded so they are all available the day of the class, starting at 9am Eastern time, are only available (along with any handouts) for 24 hours.

If you don't have time that day, you're out of luck.  Unless....

Unless you pay $59 for a VIP pass.  Then you have a year to watch and you can watch an unlimited number of times.  40 some odd classes (ranging from 30 to 60 minutes in length), plus 19 crochet patterns. That's a lot to absorb, especially if you work part time, which I do. I don't get vacation time, either.

Now, I'm not complaining.  There are a lot of people who have found ways to make things free by offering upgrades for an extra charge.  I have no problem with that. 

I have never taken advantage of You Tube crochet videos and so I don't know what my experience with the classes will be.  I now have the list of classes and patterns and it's not going to be like drinking from a fire hose - a number of the projects don't interest me. 

Right now, I'm not upgrading.  But we'll see.

More about my crocheting later this week. 

Have you ever participated in a hobby "summit"?

Monday, March 15, 2021

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day March 2021

(If you are looking for my Music Moves Me post, please click here.)

Beware the Ides of March.  That's good advice where I garden, in New York's Southern Tier (zone 5b).  The weather can be changeable. Blustery.  Snow squalls, like yesterday.  Or, temperatures near 70F (21 Celsius) just a few days ago.  Take your pick.  I'll pick the warm days, thank you.

The snow cover is gone, revealing....flowers!

White Lenten Rose has been blooming beneath the snow - it was budding back when our continuous snow cover started back in December.  Ta-da!


My purple Lenten Rose is budding.

For good measure, I bought a third Lenten Rose for my table - it was potted up and a good price.  Even if it doesn't survive next winter, I'm still getting pleasure from it now.

No crocus in our yard yet - guess the crocus will be skipping GBBD this year. We have the leaves but not the flowers.  So let's shift to the indoors.

The primrose I bought in a supermarket right after New Years is still blooming.

One of my African violets is blooming, too.


I had taken cuttings of Beacon impatiens, a variety resistant to the wilt that plagued my flower garden for several years, and two of the plants survived.  They've been blooming for a month or so now.

Thanking Carol at May Dreams Gardens for continuing to host this monthly meme.  Please visit some of the other blogs that are linked to her site and enjoy a day full of flowers today.

That Old Time Rock 'N Roll - #MusicMovesMe

 

It's that time to join up with other music bloggers for #MusicMovesMe. I have two posts today; Garden Bloggers Bloom Day will be posted later, but I will include a link to Music Moves Me on that blog (in case you get confused).

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-hosts are: Stacy of Stacy Uncorked, Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, and me. Xmas Dolly is finally up and running (hope I'm not jinxing her) - welcome back!

Each month we have a guest host who picks themes for the month, and this month we are featuring our very own founder and head host, Xmas Dolly

The theme for today is "Build a Playlist of Old Rock and Roll songs".

Your wish is my command, and it helps that I am...umm...old.  So let's try these favorites from my childhood. 



We must start with a classic from 1954-The Chords and Sh-Boom.  I suspect The Crew Cuts version is a bit more well known, but I wanted to start with the original.

Let's move ahead a year -  Bil Haley and his Comets from 1955 - Rock Around the Clock.


In the Still of the Night - Fred Parris and the Satins, dates from 1956.


No "early rock" playlist can be without Elvis Presley, one of the greatest of all time.  Although Elvis was already making it big earlier, I am picking this song from 1957 - Jailhouse Rock. 

Skipping a couple of years, we arrive in 1959, where a lot of my favorite childhood songs reside.  Let me pick one: it's not technically rock.  In fact, it dates from 1928 and a work called The Threepenny Opera.  The lyrics were originally in German.   Bobby Darin's lyrics do deviate from the first English translation (and the lyrics of the song sung earlier that decade by Louis Armstrong).

Bobby Darin (born Walden Robert Cassotto in 1936) had what some might call a tragic life. He was raised by his grandmother, whom he thought was his mother. As a child, he survived bouts of rheumatic fever, which damaged his heart and affected his health for the rest of his short life.  He apparently always suspected he would die young and he did (at age 37).  A talented singer and songwriter, Bobby Darin went to my high school (not when I did!) so I wanted to go into some detail about his life.  Now, on to the song.


Bobby Darin and Mack the Knife.



Now, it's nearly time to return to 2021.  For my last song, from 1962, Gene Chandler sings Duke of Earl.

And that's a wrap!

Join us again next Monday for more music.

 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Spinach Pi (With a Recipe)#PiDay

Today is Pi Day, and it's time to make a different spinach pie, one that is one of my son's favorite dishes.

Pi Day, March 14, is a day to celebrate mathematics. In the American method of day numbering, today is 3-14:  March 14.  Or, the first three digits of the mathematical value "Pi".

It also would have been Albert Einstein's birthday.

Pi Day honors the number representing the radio of the circumference of a circle to its radius.  Pi is an infinite number - it goes on indefinitely, but, not only that, it is a non repeating decimal.  No pattern to Pi has ever been found.  This website shows Pi computed to 100,000. digits.

To several decimal points:  3.14159265358979323846....

Now, about that spinach pie.  Or, as we will call it today, Spinach Pi.

Years ago, we lived for several years in rural Northwest Arkansas.  We had gotten into some wild foods, including lambs quarters, and wanted to see if we could make a "spinach" pie out of these nutritious wild greens a pen pal told me about.  But there were no filo leaves to be found anywhere local.

But we could find egg roll wrappers, and that's what we ended up using.

We haven't eaten wild greens in years, but the recipe remains.  Our son grew up on this spinach pie (OK, technically, not a pie) and, as I mentioned, it is one of his favorites.

This makes one eight inch square cake pan's worth.  Yes, a true Pie for Pi Day should be round but...well, this is our tradition.  You should also be able to make this in a pie pan.  One other note, this is so simple a child who enjoys cooking could help with this.

Ingredients

1 1/2 frozen chopped spinach (10 oz each) blocks
About 7 or 8 egg roll wrappers
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled (you can buy a block and crumble it yourself)
1 tbsp light butter style spread such as Olivio
1 tbsp (approximately) of breadcrumbs

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Defrost the spinach.  Melt the spread.  In an 8 inch square cake pan, lay down a wrapper and brush with a small amount of the spread.
 
Spread some spinach, then some crumbled feta cheese, top with another wrapper, and brush with the spread, similar to how you assemble a lasagna.
 

End with a wrapper, brush with spread, sprinkle with small amount of breadcrumbs.
 
Here is the assembled Pi.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

One more note - this 8 inch cake pan belonged to my mother, who passed away back in 1965.  It is one of my most prized possessions.

Do you have any plans for Pi Day?
 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

A to Z 2021 Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2021 Theme Reveal

Yes, I know.   It isn't March 8.  It isn't even close.

It's been a hard year for a lot of bloggers.  I've plowed on, but I am feeling mentally exhausted.

Every year since 2015 I have joined a wonderful blogging challenge called Blogging from A to Z.  Every April day (excepting Sundays) we blog about something according to the letters of the alphabet - A on April 1, B on April 2, and so forth. 26 days, 26 letters.  The rules are simple - blog about something reflecting the letter of the day.  Photos, artwork, fiction, non fiction, all are welcome.  Just try to come up with 100 words per blog, but there are no word count police out there.

I just wasn't feeling it this year.  But, this morning, I finally made up my mind.  I'm going to join the challenge, and see if I can challenge myself to last the entire month.

For me, the writing isn't the hardest part - I've blogged daily since late April, 2011 (yes, for almost 10 years.)  It's the visiting other blogs.  I've met some bloggers over the years and I still read their blogs.  But it is a strain, visiting blog after blog.  I also admit that I have fallen in love with several blogs over the years, only to find that they rarely blog outside of A to Z.  But that's life.

What I finally did was look up my themes from 2015, and started to reread some of those posts with pleasure.  Here are my themes, and you can see a pattern here:  I've admitted it before.  I'm a photo hoarder.  I have well over 11,000 photos on my iPhone SE first generation.  This month of April is when I strive to show some of those photos the light of day (or my blog).

2015-America the Beautiful (my travels).

2016 - Days of our Lives (no, not the TV soap opera)

2017 - Traveling Through Time and Space

2018 -  Florida Outside the Theme Parks

2019 -  Finding America Through Photos

2020 - America the Beautiful (I never realized I repeated my 2015 theme!)

In 2020, I made a trip to Florida in January, and then..well we all know what happened in March.  I have not been outside my home New York State since we returned home from the January trip to Florida.  So the theme was easy:

Theme for 2021 - New York State

It actually fits in with one of my pet peeves - people who think New York State and New York City are the same thing.  Trust me, they aren't the same thing.   I won't bore you with my love/hate relationship with my native New York City, but I want to show you some of the beauty of New York State, both outside and inside New York City (mostly outside). 

I left New York State as a young adult, and returned almost 35 years ago.  It's my home.  It has flaws but I love it. 

(Except when it snows)

This is a perfect theme as I continue to stay near home.  Some pictures and topics will be related to the pandemic, and some won't be.  I think this theme is what I need to re-energize myself. 

Now I just need to write the posts.  You really do need to write most of them ahead of time.

I hope you will join me in my leap of faith.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Now and Then Skies #SkywatchFriday #LastPhoto

It's been a year since the world changed.

But, much in our lives has not changed.  The sun rises.  The sun sets.  Birds sing and fly and interact with each other.  Trees leaf out and bloom.  That's the beauty of Skywatch Friday, that we can still mark these occasions.


Sunrise March 3. 


 A walk by the Susquehanna River.  Farewell to the constantly white, dreary skies of winter.


Last week, we watched clouds in the sky.

Wednesday, we took a drive after work to buy some maple syrup.

Yesterday, we went to our local botanical garden.

One final photo.  NBC News has a project called "Last Photo" where they show the last photo people took before the pandemic descended on us (March 11, 2020).  This photo is one of my last photos - a sunrise on my way to work in downtown Binghamton, New York, on March 9, 2020.   Never did I realize it would be one of the last times....

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

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Blue Sky Tree #ThursdayTreeLove

On the second and fourth Thursday of the month, I participate in #ThursdayTreeLove, with a picture of one or more trees.

Where I live in the Northeast United States, this is the time of year where winter and spring converge.  It is still winter according to the calendar, but we have unseasonably mild weather right now.  Our snow cover, a constant companion since December, is melting and where the ground is bare of snow,  spring bulbs are popping up.

Even the trees are feeling the secret signal to come out of dormancy.  Sap is rising.  Maple farmers are harvesting the sap of sugar maple trees, and boiling to make syrup and other yummies is in progress.


This tree, photographed yesterday at the Broome County library on the edge of downtown Binghamton, New York is showing remnants of tiny fruit from last year- and swelling buds.  It's hard to see the buds with my iPhone SE first generation picture, but they are there.  When the leaf out signal is given, they will be ready.

Yesterday, the sky was clear blue - something we don't get in the heart of winter, hardly ever.

Aaaah.

Joining Parul and other tree loving bloggers for the first March 2021 #ThursdayTreeLove.

P.S. If you've been wondering if I will participate in the Blogging from A to Z April challenge this year, I should have a post up in the next several days discussing that.  I still haven't made my decision as of this morning.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Maple Sweetness #WordlessWednesday

It's maple syrup season where I live in the Southern Tier of New York State.   

Later today, I hope to be going to a sugar house to buy some maple syrup.  The syrup I like is what we call dark amber - it is darker and full of more flavor than what you can buy in the supermarkets.

These are a couple of pictures I took several years ago.  Today, it's supposed to get near 60 degrees (15.6 degrees Celsius) so there may not be any snow.

As you may be aware, maple syrup is made from the sap of the sugar maple tree, which is collected and transported to a sugar house for boiling into syrup.  The "raw" sap doesn't have much of a taste.  Native Americans, years ago, figured out if you condensed the sap, you got yourself a sweet treat.

This is a local sugarhouse.

This sugarhouse, at least in 2013, was still using a wood fired evaporator.   The boiled down syrup has a special flavor if wood is used.

I can't wait for this afternoon.  There won't be any samples this year, I'm sure, due to COVID-19, but I already know what it will taste like.  It will taste like the end of winter.  Sweet.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.