Saturday, July 31, 2021

Adult Summer Reading Log 2021

Each year our four local libraries sponsor child, teen, and adult reading challenges.  I've only participated a handful of times. I decided to participate this summer though, partially thanks to the ability to take out e-books from the New York [City] public library.  That ability was granted to all New York State residents during the pandemic, and is (so far) continuing.

Only one of the local libraries permitted you to list books you didn't take out from their library.  I know, their rules, like it or go somewhere else.  There may be good reasons to require people to take books out from their library (funding for the library, I'm thinking, would be a primary reason).  "So be it".

I just finished my fourth book. There's no minimum, which is nice, because it end by August 19.  Here are my four, with a little (or a lot) about each (NOT to be considered a book review).

TRIGGER ALERTS - the first book I mention includes scenes of murder, rape, and other horrors of war and its aftermath.  The third book's topic is a pandemic.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker.  This is a retelling of Homer's The Iliad from the point of view of a female character, Briseis, a Trojan queen taken captive and enslaved when the Greeks take her city and sack it.   I don't read much historical fiction but this intrigued me because I have never read The Iliad.  I had to study The Odyssey, a kind of sequel, multiple times, but never The Iliad, and I have no idea why.  Could I enjoy Ms. Barker's book without any Iliad background?

YES! (although I had to look things up from time to time).

Now, I want to read The Iliad but it's going to have to wait for winter.  As for this book - I have mixed feelings about it. On the whole, it was well written. However, the British slang threw me out of the story more than once (minor quibble - certainly the soldiers couldn't speak in Greek for the English audience!) .  Also, I wondered why, if this was a book telling the story from the point of view of a woman who never had a chance to tell her story, Ms. Barker spent enough time writing from the point of view of one of the major male characters, Achilles.  So it's a book about a silenced woman partially written from the point of view of a man?

I understand Barker isn't done telling the story of Briseis, which I look forward to when the next book in the series is published.

Four Stars.  I recommend it.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan.  I enjoy dystopian literature and (some) zombie literature.  I love a good zombie apocalypse, and looked forward to a good read.  It disappointed me. Stilted writing and one of the weirdest love triangles I've ever run across in dystopian young adult literature, just for starters.   I won't be seeking out the sequels.

The End of Men by Christa Sweeney-Baird.  What I loved about this book is that it was written not long before before the COVID-19 pandemic.  So, one could compare and contrast the reactions to the pandemic in the book (a virus that kills only males, and kills most of them) to what happened "in real 2020 and beyond life". The book is presented to us as written by an (initially) unknown author some years after the pandemic struck.

Ms. Sweeney-Baird did an excellent job anticipating how people would behave, even though the pandemics were totally different.  The book is written from the points of view of several women, and one man (Spoiler Alert - the man survives). One of the characters, at the end, is revealed as the author of the book, someone who interviewed the rest of the people whose stories were told in order to help the author to heal.    The book also ponders many questions, from "what if a pandemic kills loved ones of almost everyone alive?" to "how do we handle a labor force in a world where much of the population dies over a matter of months?", to the obvious "how do we keep the human race going?"

I give it five stars.  Highly recommended.

Finally, a non-fiction book Zero Fail, The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service" by Carol Leonnig.  For the benefit of my non-American readers, the United States' Secret Service is tasked with many duties, the most important of which is the 24 hour day protection of the President and Vice-President of the United States and his/her family.  Carol Leonnig, an investigative journalist with over 20 years experience, has written a well documented (and scary) book of triumphs and failures taking place mainly from the Kennedy administration to right after the end of the Trump administration.  

It can be a bit hard to follow at times, and it took me part of the summer to wade through it (because I was only allowed to take it out for two weeks, and then I returned to a holds list), but it was well worth it. You learn a lot about our various Presidents - perhaps, in a few cases, too much for comfort.

I give it five stars.  Highly recommended.

As I approach my 70th year on this planet, I get more and more impatient over books that seem to be wasting my time.  Three out of four of these books delivered.

Now, perhaps in the next week, I'll start The Forest of Vanishing Stars, which I need to read and write a book review for on Goodreads after winning it in a contest.

Read any good books recently?

Friday, July 30, 2021

Gloomy July Skies #SkywatchFriday

On the last Thursday of July, 2021, the forecast was rain.  Again.  It's official - even before today, we had a record rainy July.

The day started out gloomy.  And then (surprise) it rained.  Hey, rain, can't you go somewhere you are needed?

After the rain stopped, spouse and I took a walk.  It was still trying to be gloomy.  There are benches overlooking the river, but no one was taking advantage of them.

As we walked, sun rays tried to break out of the clouds.  You can barely see them in the lower middle, just above the gloomy trees.

An actual patch of blue!  But it didn't last long.

Finally, I had to take a puddle picture.

Hoping for better pictures next time.

Also, hoping all of my readers and their families are staying safe from the heat, the storms, and the pandemic.

Joining Yogi and other sky loving bloggers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Bird Show

I think birds know when you are carrying a recording device. If I don't have my iPhone, all types of photo-worthy antics ensue.  If I have my iPhone, nothing.  Nada.

Yesterday afternoon, it was gorgeous, and after work, I sat in my backyard with my laptop and without my iPhone (which is also my camera).

So, what did I miss and what can't I show you?

First up were the hummingbirds. Since I am in New York State, they are ruby-throated hummingbirds.  Originally we had only one, a female.  We now are fairly certain we have three.  All look like females but I understand all juveniles look mainly the same as adult females.

 I have two hanging baskets and a planter with  and miscellaneous perennials that attract hummingbirds.  We've also had (first year feeding the birds) a window mounted hummingbird feeder on our dining room window.   

Here are some hummingbird pictures I've taken from that window.   These were both taken July 26.

The pause that refreshed, middle of photo, wings flapping so they are blurred

Note there is only one hummingbird in each pictures and that is because hummingbirds are extremely territorial.  They do not share.  If two come at the same time, one will be driven away.

In our yard, also, is a clothesline we no longer use, but have kept up. It's a few feet away from the feeder and the two hanging baskets.  And then there is me, sitting.  Our yard is small.

So of course, while I sit with my laptop, two hummingbirds drop by - again and again. I suspect they have gotten used to me but this is the first time they haven't seemed to mind my presence.  I'm sure it's because I don't have that weird box I hold in my hand from time to time.

At one point both sat on the clothesline, just a few inches from each other.  Were they, perhaps, siblings? I've read that hummingbirds spend much of their time perching to look for danger. But these were so close to each other.  They love that clothesline.

But no sibling love here.  One then tried to feed on a flower and was driven away by the other.

Another time, one was perhaps a foot away from my face, feeding on cuphea, an annual they love, and chirped at me while I held my breath. 

Cuphea without hummingbird

A hummingbird chirp sounds a lot like a kissy-kissy sound.  But I know I couldn't have photographed it.  I do want to maintain this trust they are starting to show.

Taken July 27, this shows the clothesline and the two feeders, and lots of house finches

We also have a yellow bag feeder (beloved by goldfinches, but they have plenty of wild food this time of year and don't appear much) and a squirrel proof feeder where we offer safflower seeds.  We are visited by cardinals, chickadees and house finches.  Lots and lots of house finches.

Since I didn't have my cameras, two chickadees got into a fight.  The female cardinal, rarely seen recently, (the male visits more frequently - in the spring they came together) feasted at the feeder. No camera to capture that.

Oh well. 

It was so fun to watch the bird show.  I'm a little surprised to see hummers checking out an orange geranium flower and some of our purple hostas, in addition to the fuchsias.  They did it again today, because I had no way to show you.

Seems red in the photo, but this geranium flower is orange

As I started to write this last paragraph, another hummer flew into our small yard.

OK, birds, I get the message.  Next time I bring my phone with me! 

The bird show.  Sponsored by Nature.  There for our enjoyment.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Purple Rain (and other Daylilies)#WordlessWednesday

The rain  let up here in New York State for several days, until it returned yesterday with a bad thunderstorm.  Of course, it could have been worse.  No flash flood (at least that I know of), no downed trees in the neighborhood (that I know of - but, to the west of us, they weren't as fortunate), and at least 1500 people lost power to our west.  Again, we lucked out.

What I do have is some wet day lily flowers.

Don't you like these frilly lilies?

There's something about wet day lilies and (these were actually from last week's wet spell) I'd like to show you some of their beauty.

Fresh out of the shower, ahhh.

Purple rain? Actually, I've probably had this day lily for well over 20 years and its name is long forgotten. Purple Rain would be a good name, though.

This was one of my favorite shots. The plant in the lower left with the white border, incidentally, is pineapple mint.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Beginning of the End Song

This has become one of my annual posts.

I've heard the first cricket of 2021, the crickets of the second year of the pandemic.

It was just for a moment, on Thursday, that I thought I heard the sound.  On Friday I heard it again.  My spouse kept saying no, I don't hear it.  Then, Sunday, the same discussion.  There was  a buzzing in the air.  But yesterday, it was official.  I heard the song.  No mistaking.

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

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

For 2020, the date was Thursday, July 23.  For 2021, I'm calling the date July 26..

So, why track this date?  In the pandemic, many of us continue to take comfort watching nature, be it birds, flying insects, or sunrises and sunsets.  With change all around us, nature is a constant, and keeps on keeping on paying little attention to us.
Which, maybe is why we have three bird feeders in our backyard today. And why, on my walks, I look for butterflies to photograph.   I am learning more about hummingbirds each day, a bird that continues to fascinate both my spouse and me.

My 30-something son calls us "old".  I call it "refreshing my interests".  If that makes me old, so be it.

And then, there is the human desire to keep records, which is why I write this annual post.

As I blogged in 2019:

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

So, what does this pattern of dates mean?  Not much, perhaps.  You can see that my dates are all over the place.

But for now, I have heard the crickets, and I know the end of summer is approaching. Maybe it's still a few months away, although frost threatened us last September.

Also, COVID-19 is spiking once again.  Once again, we face the possibility of a fall and winter to dread.

I can only hope that this period in our history will, one day, be just another fact in the history books.  In the meantime, I will study the hummingbirds, try to ID butterflies, and listen to the song of the crickets.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Songs of the Late 70's #MusicMovesMe

 It's Monday, and it's time for music!  It's time to join up with the Music Moves Me bloggers.

Who are the Music Moves Me 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-meaning at least one music video, 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 conductor. Today, for her last stint as guest conductor for July, welcome Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.

Her theme for today:  You Pick.

I decided to go back in time just a little, to 1978 and 1979.  I'll try not to put too much disco in here, but I hope you groove to these picks. 

First, 1978. 10cc and Dreadlock Holiday.

 Sweet - Love is Like Oxygen.

I've had this song on my blog before, but I could listen to this song all day.  Frankie Valli and Grease.


OK, I've held onto the disco for long enough.  Time to release some boogie! The Trammps and Disco Inferno actually dates from 1976 but it did not hit it big until 1978.  If you can hold back the dancing when you hear this song, you have more self control than I do, so I decided on a long version.

It's time to switch to 1979 and The Cars - Dangerous Type.

The next two songs were actually released in 1978 but were hits in 1979.

Younger people may know Rod Stewart as an American Songbook type of artist but, in his younger days, he was quite the rocker. In this song, though, he shows his disco side - sort of.   Here he is with perhaps the best song ever written about one-night stands and "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"


Chic's Le Freak was actually released in 1978, but was one of the top songs of 1979.

And that's a late 70's wrap!

Let's thank Songbird for her July guest conducting.  For August, the guest conductor will be - ME! (Shameless self-promotion).  

Join us again same time, same place, next Monday!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Down the Rabbit Hole

Before I begin, I need to correct an error in yesterday's blog post.  Thank you, my readers, for catching it.

My post yesterday was about interesting names for daylilies.   I forgot to include a link to a site I found online where you can name your own daylily.  I have now corrected my post, and also included the link at the beginning of this paragraph.

It isn't cheap to name a daylily, but if you have the money, I think it would make a wonderful special occasion gift for a gardener (note, I have never done business with the nursery this link leads to, and it is not an endorsement.)

So, why not continue with more of yesterday's theme and feature the rest of the interesting named daylilies I took pictures of yesterday?  I have a few more interesting daylily names for you.  One gave me the creeps - I saved it for last, because it really is creepy.

This is called Paula Nettle and is an award winner - it must be named after somebody, I'm thinking, but "nettles" have other meanings in gardening.   There is the stinging nettle, and if you touch that plant, you are going to suffer for it.

Here is Island Lord.  Love this color!  Interesting, I found other daylilies online with "Lord" in the name, but not this one.

Last but not least, the name of this flower made me shiver a little.  In college, I majored in anthropology, and took a couple of courses where we studied Native American peoples, including the group we call the Navajo. Something seemed familiar about this name so I had to look it up.  In Navajo culture, a "skinwalker" is a harmful witch that can transform from human to animal but other Native American groups have similar legends.

I wonder why this daylily was called "Skinwalker"?  And, did I really want to know? (you know the answer to that one.  Yes.)  I had to look, and found the hybridizer of this daylily - the late Ned Roberts.

This beautiful flower apparently was named after a book by the late Tony Hillerman from 1986 called "Skinwalkers".  I read several of Hillerman's mysteries long ago - I'm not sure if I read that one, though.

But anyway, this lovely flower is a multiple award winner. Although I don't own any spider daylilies, now I want this so badly (and have no room for it).

Internet slang calls this kind of research "going down a rabbit hole".  I'm glad I emerged in time to write this blog post.

So, we've gone from daylilies to Native American legends to rabbit holes.

Not a bad day's work.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Westbourne Mom's Cinnamon Rolls and Other Delights

If you came here looking for cinnamon roll recipes, I must disappoint you.  This post is about daylilies, and some of the best names ever.

Today, spouse and I made our annual visit to Cutler Botanic Gardens in Binghamton, New York to enjoy their daylily collection.  But, besides flower beauty, the names are such a delight.

This is now an official hermerocallis display garden 

The view that greets you at the entrance.

Here are some of my favorites from today. 

Wouldn't you love a no-calorie cinnamon roll?  This daylily is named Westbourne Mom's Cinnamon Rolls.  I'd love to know the backstory of this name; I wasn't able to find out more after a quick Internet search.

Next up:

Longlesson Flattery.

This is a double daylily but I don't know where Double Dribble comes from.

I love this one, and not just for the name.  Presenting: Last Snowfall.

Last one for today - how about more in a couple of days?  This one is called Custard Candy.

Let's say goodbye for now.

Cutler Botanic Gardens is a little hard to find, but it is right off Front St, a major Binghamton street, easily accessible from I-81 (except maybe this year, where there is nearby road construciton.)   Nearby, on Saturday mornings, there is an indoor farmer's market, and there is a Taste of New York store (closed Sundays) nearby, which has spotless bathrooms, and the most wonderful ice cream (by the scoop).

Want to see more?  I'll end with this link to a site where you can name a daylily yourself.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Show in the Sky #SkywatchFriday

Last week, we had a show in the sky.

We got to see somebody (possibly the Thunderbirds) practicing while we were picking blueberries last Friday. Then we saw the (definitely) Thunderbirds performing, from a flood wall, Saturday, during the one performance they were able to hold.  

The Sunday air show sky performances were cancelled due to low ceiling.

I'm apologizing in advance for these pictures but they do have some pretty cloud formations in them.  So, please view them as much for the clouds as my poor attempts to capture these planes from afar.

Here's a couple of the Friday practice run pictures we took while blueberry picking. You can see contrails in the center of the photo and (maybe) two little dots - the airplanes.

Another picture, after they straightened out.  Don't strain your eyes.

As for the Saturday performance, our skies were blue, but there are four tiny dots towards the bottom center.  But the clouds sure were pretty.

To me, the cloud looks almost like a musical note.
Next to last, but not least, just enjoy the sky.  I didn't try to crop this one.

It was so nice seeing that blue sky so I will give you one more photo from Saturday.  No planes, I promise.

All the rain is scary - we are under flash flood warnings several times a week now and we may be one major storm (according to a newspaper article) from river flooding.  But it's nothing like the flooding in Germany, Belgium or China recently.  I hope everyone who reads this post, and their family/friends, can stay safe.

Joining Yogi and other sky watching bloggers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Binghamton Clothing Company Fire and The Present Day

 History is not a collection of dry facts and dates in a hated textbook.  History is not meant to be a school subject that is discarded the second a person graduates. 

History is the story of you and me, and, properly told, it can prevent us from making the same mistakes again and again.  History teaches, if only we listen.

Today is the 108th anniversary of a tragedy in Binghamton, New York, one that (in a way) mirrors a tragedy in New York City a couple of years before.  

Descendants of those who died in Binghamton on July 22, 1913, still remember.  Recently, one of them commented on an old post of my blog.   

Fire is something that terrifies all of us. That fear is inborn but we will be facing fire more and more in the future.   In recent years, wildfires have ravaged thousands and thousands of acres in the Western United States.  It has caused millions to breathe smoke from those fires.  Living thousands of miles away doesn't exempt anyone, either, as many people in New York State (including me) found out on Tuesday when we had air quality alerts caused by a fire two thousand miles away.

But, historically, fire has ravaged cities (London, Chicago, New York City, Portland, Maine and others).  The hope is that, each time, we learn lessons.  We build better.  We learn to fight fires better.  We abandon practices that cause death.

One of these fires was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City.  On March 25, 1911, some 600 workers, including many young immigrant women in their teens and 20's, were working in a clothing factory in lower Manhattan under sweatshop conditions.  Many did not speak English.  Their workday was 12 hours a day, every day.

Management had locked the exits to keep the workers in.  A fire started in a rag bin. A foreman tried to put the fire out but the hose was rotted out, and the fire spread rapidly.  The fire took 146 lives.  Maybe some lessons were learned, but not enough lessons.  More tragedy would follow, this time in the city where I worked for so many years before COVID-19 sent me and others home.

On July 22 1913 a fire broke out at the Binghamton Clothing Company factory on Wall Street in downtown Binghamton, New York. After the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, some safety procedures had been instituted including fire alarms and fire drills, but those didn't prevent the tragedy. 

There was only one fire escape. 

Of some 110 workers in the building, 31 died while a crowd estimated at some 1500 people outside the building watched, helpless to act.  It is thought that many of the dead originally stayed at their stations because they were confused over whether the alarm was real or not.  If they left their stations, they would have lost income because they were paid by the piece.  And they needed every penny.

Here are some of my posts on the topic:

Forgotten History and the Binghamton Clothing Company Fire (note the comments on the post; they are most interesting). 

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and Binghamton

I am honored that some descendants of the Binghamton factory workers who died from that fire have chosen to comment on my blog posts, especially the first link above.  One, Sharon, recently tried to help me find a monument to the fire victims (and some graves) at Spring Forest Cemetery in Binghamton.  I had tried to find it last fall.  I tried again after Sharon contacted me, but I'm sorry to say I didn't find it (once again).  The directions she found online were clear. I must have passed it.

I'll try again one day.

Now, we face other fire tragedies, and must find our way forward in our rapidly changing world.  Let us be armed by the lessons history teaches us. We'll need all the wisdom we can find.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Black Swallowtail Butterfly #WordlessWednesday

Usually, butterflies torment me. Either they don't get close to me, or they aren't close to me long enough to make for a good pictures.

Last week, this eastern black swallowtail butterfly was so intent on feeding on a milkweed plant that it didn't care that I was getting closer and closer to it.  

Making the approach.

Somehow, some of these pictures ended up sideways and I forgot to edit this one to make it upright.



Yum.  And she finally got the right side up on this photo!
I'm thinking this is a male, but I'm too new to the butterfly ID world to know for sure.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Forest of Book Reviews

I won a book from a Goodreads book giveaway.  It is "The Forest of Vanishing Stars" by Kristen Harmel.

It arrived yesterday.  I have another book to finish (it's due in one day) and then I will start on this.

I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but the subject of this book is a little known (to many) part of the Holocaust - Jews who fled into the forests of Poland and other German occupied countries to escape the Nazis.  They ranged from elderly, to children, to women, to men - many of whom had absolutely no idea how to survive in a forest.  I wanted to know more, so I entered this giveaway.

Years ago, my spouse and I went to a talk at our local library given by an older German man who grew up in the Nazi era and had to join the Hitler Youth (it was mandatory by that time) although his parents secretly opposed that government. He had spent years giving such talks to further educate the American public. He briefly mentioned Jews who escaped to forests and tried to survive there.  It's the first I had ever heard of this.

So, why am I blogging about this now?  Because, as part of the giveaway, I am strongly encouraged to write a book review and post it on Goodreads.

I don't participate much on Goodreads but I do read reviews from time to time, and I just shake my head at those who seem to write reviews just to impress others with the amount of snark they can fit into their post.  But I have never published a book review on Goodreads.

I really don't know where or how to start.  It may be looked at by hundreds of people.  No pressure, of course!

Does anyone write book reviews regularly?  Any suggestions? 

Incidentally, in trying to read some information on "what really happened" as far as those who took refuge in the forests, I ran across this, if you are interested.   This is information on brothers who became partisans operating in the area of then Poland (we know this area today as Belarus), and saved the lives of around 1200 Jews most of them non combatants.

Here's another article from a slightly different angle - the role non-Jews played in helping these Jews.

The father of someone I went to high school with was a Jewish partisan fighter, but I can't remember the details.  I am in awe of such people and their courage.

Hopefully, I will love this book.  If I don't, I'll be writing a review with a heavy heart.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Songs about Animals #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, and it's time once again for Music, as I join up with Music Moves Me.

Who are the Music Moves Me 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-meaning at least one music video, 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 conductor. This month we once again welcome Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.

Why not join us?  We'd love to have you.

Songbird's theme for today is:  "Songs about Animals"  Seems I did a music post a while back that had some songs about animals, so I will try not to repeat any.

However, I will take two minor liberties here - if the title mentions an animal, I may use it, even if the song isn't about that animal.  And, the animal doesn't have to be real.

Let's begin with the theme song from my childhood "Mr. Ed" was a talking horse who only talked to his owner.  He had his own show on CBS from 1961 to 1966.  One interesting fact is that the pilot for this series was financed by the late comedian and TV star George Burns.  And, it actually began in syndication before being picked up by a network, unlike what mainly happened in those days.

The theme song in the first seven episodes was an instrumental.

Theme from Mr Ed.

The Beatles had a number of songs about animals.  Here is "I Am the Walrus".

One of my favorite childhood songs - the Tokens and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", from 1961.

"A Horse with No Name" - America, from 1972.

 A classic from my childhood is the song "Purple People Eater". I chose today a cover by Jimmy Buffet, because I could.

From 1973, and on one of my favorite albums, "Grey Seal" from Elton John.  The lyrics may not make much sense, but I love them.

Since I want to end on a real rocker, how about going back to 1971 with Led Zeppelin and "Black Dog"?  I wanted to capture the energy from this 1973 live performance.

And that's a rockin' wrap.

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

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Elusive Pearl Crescent Butterfly

Today, I remembered I promised my readers a picture of a mystery butterfly I've seen many times during walks on a local flood wall.

I think I have it ID'd and a friend who knows something about butterflies agrees - but what I am finding is that if I thought it was hard to learn different birds (spouse is way ahead of me in that department), or photograph  butterflies and moths are impossible.

I am in the Southern Tier of New York State, about an hour north of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

So, check this little guy out.  I had to crop the picture a bit inconveniently because right next to the little one was one of the many gifts left by our local Canada Geese.  Anyway, there's also a blade of grass blocking part of the view.

This one may be better.  I didn't want to crop it further because my iPhone doesn't do macros well.  And butterflies don't like phones too close to them, anyway.

This, apparently, is a pearl crescent.  They are small, as butterflies go, and only fly a foot or two off the ground.  They love to bask in the sun with their wings spread, or until spouse and I come walking.   But also, on a site I went to, it said they are one of the hardest varieties to ID.

Whatever these butterflies were, they sure were pretty and fun to watch.

Even if ID'ing them is a bit elusive.

Which leads us to this song, a hint of what my Music Moves Me post will be about tomorrow.  I hope you'll join me then.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The 2021 Blueberry Dump Cake (With Recipe)

All year, I dream for blueberry season.  We try to go U-Pick blueberry picking at least twice a year.  

This year, we were so eager, we went twice in one week.

Despite all our rain, the blueberries are slowly ripening.  They are so big - maybe due to our above normal rainfall.

How to tell a ripe blueberry?  It's easy.  The color should be just like the above blueberries, with a whitish coating.  After you've been picking a few minutes, your hands feel a little waxy.

Every year, on my blog, I try for at least one recipe. 

Here are some of my previous blueberry posts.

Blueberry Clafoutis
This one has a recipe for blueberry muffins made with cashew almond milk.
Dump Cake made with blueberries
A slightly different dump cake made with blueberries

This year, I decided on a slightly different dump cake made with blueberries.

Many dump cake recipes (I have a cookbook full of them!) call for ingredients like butter, but, as a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, I use variations of low fat versions.

Blueberry and Lemon Dump Cake 

3 cups fresh blueberries
1 box yellow cake mix
2 packets True Lemon (we love it; it is made with real lemons - it's a dry crystal)
1 12 oz can diet cherry soda (you can also use sugared, but it will have more calories.

Dump blueberries into a 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle the True Lemon on top of the berries.
Dump the yellow cake mix over the berries.

Pour the can of cherry soda over the cake mix/blueberries.

Bake at 350 degrees F for around 35-43 minutes, or until it starts to brown.

What could be easier?

This won't be to everyone's taste but if it is to your taste, enjoy!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Thunderbirds and Thunderstorms #SkywatchFriday

This weekend, for the first time in years, our area is having an airshow.  The United States Air Force Thunderbirds are the headline performers. 

They are in our area right now, along with other performers, practicing.  And we know this because we heard them this morning, as we exercised walked in a local park.  More about them in a minute.

I hope they get the airshow off, because our weather isn't looking good this weekend. (And no, I didn't buy tickets.)  Like much of the Northeast United States, we've been having a lot of storms and rain.  We have had several flash floods this week.  One town in our county has been hard hit by the floods.  Having been in two floods myself over the years, my heart goes out to them.

Here are some of our recent skies, taken between July 9 and July 14.

Puffy and ugly.

Our river is running brownish.

The muddy river and a downed tree (and some puddles)

Just before a thunderstorm, framed by trees.
Let's hope the power doesn't go out.

I am beginning to fear we may be working up to river flooding, a story for another time.

Anyway, back to the upcoming air show.

My spouse saw four planes in the air, and pointed them out to me.  I hurriedly got my iPhone SE first edition out of my purse and aimed.  I got two pictures. 

 One "barely" has the four planes in it.  It could be the Thunderbirds.  Or maybe not.

The other -no dots, but I figured, it's Skywatch time.  It is nice seeing a sky without a looming thunderstorm in it, even if the Thunderbirds (or whoever they were) are hiding behind that tree.

How was your week?

Joining Yogi and other skywatchers for our Friday Skywatch.