Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Dollhouses of The Pandemic

You don't have to be Jewish to love dollhouses.

It's that time of year - Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. 

I have blogged about Bobbie King time and again, usually every December when Hanukkah rolls around.  This year, Hanukkah is early, and my post about Ms. King is going to be early, too.

The dollhouses I am about to show you were owned by a woman, Bobbie King, a mother of 10, and the member of the congregation that runs Hanukkah House, a museum open every December in the city of Binghamton, New York.  Sadly, Hanukkah House was not opened in 2020, and it won't be open this year, either, due to COVID-19.

But we must remember the connection of these dollhouses to a tragedy.

Bobbie King, a woman who taught English to immigrants as one of her post-retirement careers, died on April 3, 2009, along with 13 of her students, gunned down in cold blood by a former student of the American Civil Association (ACA) organization where she taught.  She was the oldest of the 13 victims of that mass shooting in Binghamton, New York.

This tragedy was one of hundreds of mass shootings in our country, both before and after 2009.  It's not only shootings, either. More recently, it is also car attacks, such as the one in Waukesha, Wisconsin several days ago, when a SUV plowed through the community's annual parade.

Mrs. King's family has permitted a display of her dollhouses and dolls each year since the shooting.  Until COVID, it had become a tradition.  I'd like to carry it forward this year with pictures from previous years.

Mrs. King's dollhouse (and doll) collection were well known in the community.  She would sometimes give dolls to the children of the community.  

Enjoy these dollhouses.

Bobbie King knew well that we must remember the lessons of history.  There are many lessons in the life and death of Bobbie King, and the others who died at the American Civic Association on April 3, 2009.  

Today, I remember a woman who gave much to this community.  I hope you enjoy this collection.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Stream of Consciousness #MusicMovesMe

It's the last Monday of November, and time for 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. 

We'd love more music lovers to join us.  It's easy! All you have to do is join the linky above with a music post that contains at least one music video (there must be a music video).  And that's it!

Each month we have a guest conductor. Today, for the month of November, we once more welcome Driller from Driller's Place.  Thank you, Driller, for guest conducting our Monday musical group.

Driller's theme for today is "You Pick".  This will be the last "You Pick" for 2021 (where has the year gone?) as December will be all holiday music.   I'm going today with a little stream of consciousness.

My first selection is in honor of the late, great Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, who passed away on November 26 at the age of 91.  Even if you aren't a fan of musical theater you may be familiar with some of his songs.

Here is Dame Judi Dench singing "Send In the Clowns" from "A Little Night Music", a song that has been covered by many artists.

Stephen Sondheim also wrote the lyrics for  the musical West Side Story.  Going to see the movie adaptation was my father's gift to me when I graduated from elementary school.   West Side Story was based on Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

From 1982, Toto's tribute to actress Rosanna Arquette.  A band member was dating her when this song was written.  "Rosanna" resulted.  Strange how some of this video reminds me of West Side Story...

Pat Benatar and her husband Neil Giraldo are planning to bring a show called "Invincible", based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, to Broadway next year.   This is one of my favorite Pat Benatar songs:  "We Belong".

Yesterday began the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, so why not start holiday music a week early?  For my last couple of selections I am going to pick Hanukkah related music. (In case you are wondering, Hanukkah is early this year.  Since the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, the days do not mesh exactly with our secular calendar.  In the Hebrew calendar the days the holiday begins and ends are the same each year).

The story of Hanukkah is partially a story of invincibility; how a small army fighting for religious freedom (among other things) triumphed over a seemingly invincible larger force.

It's a shame that Sondheim did not live to see the release of the new adaptation of West Side Story that will be released in the movies in early December.  But we can enjoy Six13's adaptation of this classic story based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

And, one of their best, Bohemian Chanukah.

Thus ends today's stream of consciousness, an idea taken from our own John at the Sound of One Hand Typing.

And that's a wrap!  See you again next Monday, same time, same place.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Lighting a Candle in the Darkness (With a recipe)

 Today, at sundown, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah starts.

This is a simplified explanation of the holiday, as told to a 12 year old modern boy. 

Darkness comes in many forms.  The original rebellion against the Greeks in the Hanukkah story was partially a rebellion against a religion being forced upon a people.  I love a quote from the story I linked to:  "We make light and tell stories when we are long on night and short on hope."

Today, religious intolerance is on the rise across our country, and the world.  We must never take our right to light our lights over eight nights for granted.

Some of our ancestors lit their Hanukkah candles or oil at a time knowing that if they were caught, there would be a severe penalty.  

But we are fortunate, in these times, that the Jewish people of the United States can still celebrate Hanukkah openly.

Where I live, near Binghamton, New York, Temple Concord has hosted a Hanukkah museum called Hanukkah House.  Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, Hanukkah House has been cancelled, but I wanted to share some photos from previous years.

The museum, as it appeared in 2017.  This is located in a historic mansion once owned by a patent medicine manufacturer.

Hanukkah menorahs come in many shapes and sizes.  Historic...


...and traditional.

Tonight, I will think of the holiday as lighting candles or oil in the darkness.  My spouse is roasting a turkey, and we will enjoy potato latkes.  No parsnips this year, but here's a recipe spouse has made in the past.

Happy Hanukkah for those who observe.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A Tropical Small Business Saturday

A respite from our dreary weather.

I'll be willing to bet that you have a small business in or near your community that is a "Hidden Treasure" - people in the know know there is something special about the business.

No, no promotion here, and I'm not being paid for any plug.  I just like this business.  They've been around since 1975, and have survived several floods and (so far) the pandemic.

Spouse and I went to Tioga Gardens near Owego, New York, for Small Business Saturday. My regular readers know I am a sucker for plants, and I needed some supplies.  They were having a once a year "everything is on sale" promotion for Small Business Saturday.

But I also wanted a taste of the tropics.  Tioga Gardens has had a conservatory attached to their store for many years.  I know they have plants that are over 40 years old in there.  I'm not sure this is one of them, but you certainly can not grow Bread Fruit trees in our climate.

Nor banyon trees.

One more taste of the tropics.
If you are a real plant lover, you can take a virtual tour, courtesy of You Tube.

They have non plant items for sale, too.

And, of course, reminders of the pandemic.

I call this business a "hidden treasure" of the Southern Tier of New York.  I plan to post more pictures from my visit today on Friday for Skywatch Friday.

Do you have a small business in your area that you consider a hidden treasure?

Friday, November 26, 2021

Thankful Skies #SkywatchFriday

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and the last Friday in November.  I'm thinking of some of the wonderful sights this past month has brought me.  I hope you enjoy this little variety pack.

Back on November 1, I watched these birds (probably starlings) gathering in trees.

I managed to get a couple of nice shots, given that my old iPhone isn't at its best in these situations.
November 1, some fall color against a beautiful blue sky. Those skies are rare here in November.

On November 12, I had to head to downtown Binghamton, where I worked before the pandemic, to pick something up.  While there, I took this picture of an old building.  You can see a faded advertising sign painted on the building.

After the pickup, spouse and I headed to Otsiningo Park for a walk.  The park had flooded again in spots due to heavy rain, and the waterfowl were having a grand old time.

I decided to take some reflection shots.

Each year, I'm dragged kicking and screaming into fall.  Know what? I'll miss these sights.

Joining Yogi and other sky watching bloggers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Leaves Snow and Thanksgiving #ThursdayTreeLove

Today is the fourth Thursday of November.  This means two things:  Parul at Happiness and Food hosts "ThursdayTreeLove" and, here in the United States, it is Thanksgiving.

In the United States, Thanksgiving takes place the fourth Thursday of November.  By then, where we live, the weather might well include sub freezing temperatures, frigid winds, and snow. 

Sure enough, on Wednesday, it snowed. A dusting for us, a little more for outlying areas.  But then it got above freezing, and, after work, I got out with my spouse.

We went to a local park and I took this picture.  This sight amazes me - a bare tree, and trees with their leaves still on.  On November 23.  With snow on the ground.  And green grass.

Call it "Leaves, Snow and Thanksgiving".  What a combination.

It wasn't like that in my teen years, when I lived in New York City.  Or even when I moved to the Southern Tier of New York over 30 years ago.  By now, all the trees would have been bare, back in the 1980's, and there would have been a few inches of snow on the ground.

Climate change has done a lot of things since then.

But let me share a Thanksgiving memory with you, while I am at it.

As a teen, I went with my father (by then, my mother was deceased). I got to visit my aunt (a younger sister of my Dad), uncle and cousins in Brooklyn, almost a two hour ride consisting of a bus, a subway and then another bus (or a long walk) to get to their house.  My Aunt always cooked the same meal - turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce (from a can), sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping, and roasted chestnuts after.  My Uncle's two brothers would also come and always bring a box of chocolates.

One of those brothers is still alive, too.  I believe he is 104 now.

Many of the people I've shared Thanksgivings with are deceased now.  The aunt, the uncle, my father, one of the brothers.  More recently, my mother in law.  But others I cherish remain.

I will be seeing some of them later today.  We are all fully vaccinated so hopefully, it will be a joyous day, and no sickness will result.  In these times, we of a "certain age" worry about both COVID-19 and the flu.  It's already shaping up to be a bad flu season.  As for COVID-19, our incidences are going up day by day.

But we still have a lot to be thankful for.

If you are in the United States, I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.

Stay safe!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Colorful November Food #WordlessWednesday

Tomorrow, in the United States, it is our Thanksgiving.  

Today, I want to share with you some of the last color of the season.

Our last major area farmstand closes and these sights will be just a memory.

Brassicas -  at the top, Brussel Sprouts.  The rest of the photo, left to right - purple cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli (a heirloom) green cauliflower, and a little peek of white cauliflower.

Squashes - left to right, honeynut (a type of butternut that is oh, so sweet) and delicata.

We are so blessed to have local food in our markets.

For my readers in the United States:  happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.  May there be a bounty of food on your table, and a bounty of love surrounding you this season.

And thank YOU for visiting my blog.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Some Things Can Not Be Explained

Today is the birthday of one of my spouse's cousins, what would have been the birthday of another cousin who died two weeks after my mother in law, and the third anniversary of my mother in law's passing, at the age of 90.  She was a little over a month away from what would have been her 91st birthday.

I want to devote today's post to the day of my mother in law's passing, the day after Thanksgiving, 2018.

Her last year was hard, most of all on her, but also the family (including my spouse and I) who had been cast into the roles, those last few years, of family caregivers.

Today, I am thinking again of the day she died.  Before I launch into this story, which I've told a couple of times, I want to add that, since my first posting, I've heard of many different experiences surrounding death of loved ones from a number of my readers.

We have no way of knowing why these things happen, but they happen, and it isn't just to us.

To you, is this spooky, comforting, or both?

Here's our story.

We had spent some of Thanksgiving Day - my spouse, his autistic brother, and I - sitting at the bedside of my mother in law at the nursing home she spent her last few months in.  She was unresponsive.  We knew death was near.   

We finally said our goodbyes and left, wondering if this would be the last time we would see her.

The day of her death, November 23, was "Black Friday", a day of shopping.  As per our tradition, spouse and I had gotten up before dawn and had already visited a couple of stores.  We had decided to treat ourselves to a "Black Friday" breakfast out, something we used to do a lot but stopped doing several years before, except for special occasions. We would then head right to the nursing home.

We went to a small neighborhood restaurant.

The "Greek House" (which serves a lot more than Greek food), was in its 25th year. (It has survived a flood and COVID and is still open). It is owned by "Sam", an Egyptian.  I don't know his actual name, but everyone calls him Sam, and he always had a smile on his face.

Now, when we have eaten here, the plates the food was served on were normal restaurant plates.

Not that morning, November 23, 2018, around 7:15 AM.  In fact, the normally fast service wasn't there.  We waited and waited.

When our food was served, each of our plates was decorated on the rim, in big bold script, with the word MOTHER.

In faint lettering, there were various traits of the ideal mother listed.  Loving.  Patient. Kind.  Compassionate.  And so forth.


It was so strange that I almost took a picture of the plate and my food, but decided not to.  Now I wish I had. Maybe you don't believe me but this is 100% true.

We finished our breakfast and went home.

And, not five minutes after entering our house, we got the phone call from the nursing home.

I'm still wondering in 2021: 

How did Sam know?

Monday, November 22, 2021

Thankfulness #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, and, by now, you should know what I'm going to blog about.


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. 

We'd love more music lovers to join us.  It's easy! All you have to do is join the linky above with a music post that contains at least one music video (there must be a music video).  And that's it!

Each month we have a guest conductor. Today, for the month of November, we once more welcome Driller from Driller's Place.

Driller's theme for today is "Songs that Celebrate What We are Thankful For".

It's a pretty long list.  First off, I am thankful for the readers who come to my blog.  It's an honor.  I've been blogging for 12 years now, and I enjoy interacting with my readers.  Again, thank you!

I am thankful for being alive.  A number of friends are no longer with us, along with almost all my aunts and uncles.  I am thankful for friends who forgive my recent habit of not keeping in touch.  I am thankful for having the money to replace the heating system in our house which is malfunctioning still again, and thankful that I can pay the heating bill.   I am thankful to the farmers who grow our food, and our health care workers who hang in there despite the strain and abuse too many suffer.

For my first song, I select a song by the Beatles.

From 1965, "In My Life".

I am thankful for music, which brings us so much of the enjoyment in life.  Kiki Dee was a backup singer for Dusty Springfield and in 1974 had her own hit with her band, "I've Got the Music In Me."

My spouse, however, is my constant companion and I am so fortunate to have him in my life.  One of my favorite singers from the 1970's, Elton John, and "Your Song", is a favorite of mine.

So is "Everylasting Love", which I hope our love will be. This was a hit song for Carl Carlton, who covered this song first sung by Robert Knight in 1967.  This song was a Top 100 song in the United States (as sung by various artists) in four consecutive decades.

I looked for a song about health care, because of how important health care workers have been in this pandemic.  But so many songs mentioning doctors or medicine are talking about broken hearts or other love problems.  This song, sung by a singer with juvenile diabetes, is something different all together.  Here are the Jonas Brothers with Nick Jonas singing "A Little Bit Longer".  We all can be thankful for the medical discoveries that have allowed those with juvenile diabetes to live.

There are the truckers who bring us food, fuels and other supplies.  A song from late 1975/early 1976, started as a novelty song and became a hit-

Enjoy C.W. McCall and "Convoy".

And that's a wrap, 10-4!

Join us again next Monday, same time, same place, good buddies, for more music!

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Pat and the Poem

It's turned into another dreary day in the Southern Tier of New York.

We have a warm front moving in, but it will only be temporary - tomorrow morning, a cold front will come through.  But, in the meantime, the sun has deserted us once again.

When it's dreary, I lose ambition.  I'm stuck in the grey blahs.  And I couldn't think of anything to blog about today, so I turned to some blog sites I like for inspiration.

Dorothy, whose blog I've read for years, publishes a poem every Sunday. This Sunday, her selected poem was "Warning" by the Scottish poet Jenny Joseph.  It was written back in 1961, and it was a favorite poem of one of my co workers, Pat.  She had a copy of the poem at her desk for the several years I worked with her.  They were good years.

Although she's been gone nearly 24 years, her memory remains a treasured part of my life.  She wasn't granted old age - she died at the age of 58, from cancer.

She would tell me to lift myself out of those grey blahs, and I am going to do that.  We are granted a certain number of days, and most of us do not know when they will end.  The thought of Pat makes me smile today.

Here is Jenny Joseph (who died in 2018), reading the poem "Warning".

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Friendsgiving 1976

I saw, this afternoon, that "friendsgiving" is trending on Twitter.  This is, after all, the Saturday before the United States celebration of Thanksgiving.

It's interesting to see how a holiday evolves, because I was introduced to the concept when my spouse was in the military, back in the mid 1970's.  That's way before the TV show Friends, which some credit in making this unofficial holiday popular.  But Thanksgiving among friends is a lot older than the show Friends, and I know this from experience.

Although the term did not make it to the Merriam-Webster dictionary until 2020, military members have been doing this for years, without a name.

Think about it - young men and women hundreds or thousands of miles from home.  For some, it's their first Thanksgiving from home.  Many are single.  Travel home, for many, is out of the question.  Young military people do not make a lot of money.

So you turn to the people you are with - your fellow military people.  We decided to host a Thanksgiving at our one bedroom apartment for some of my spouse's buddies because my spouse loves to cook.  

We did the traditional Thanksgiving with one major exception - a non traditional pie, anyone?  Here is my blog post about the experience.

I don't remember asking for food contributions, but nowadays a lot of Friendsgivings involve potlucks.  And, although our Friendsgiving was on Thanksgiving Day, a lot of young people hold this the weekend before Thanksgiving.

As far as I'm concerned, Friendsgiving is, and will continue to develop, as a wonderful tradition.

That 1976 Friendsgiving  (what I remember of it) is a cherished memory of my youth.

Not everyone has a happy family life and would rather skip the drama.  Or, sometimes, people just want to hang out with friends. Or co-workers.

Or maybe my spouse and I were years ahead of our time.


Before you go, I wanted to share this Saturday Night skit (kind of PG-13) about Friendsgiving.  

Happy Friendsgiving - or Thanksgiving - to you.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Stark Sunset and A Glimpse of Blue#SkywatchFriday

 Sunset, November 9, the 56th anniversary of the Great Northeast Blackout.

It's a typical November day.  


Spouse and I are walking, after I get out from work, in the local park near the river in the Southern Tier of New York State. 

The trees by the river are mainly bare, or nearly so, now.

No great color tonight, but the sparkle of the sun on the river catches my attention.

One could call this stark.  I call it "November".

But sometimes November has a pleasant surprise.  Thursday we woke up to 56F degree weather (13C) and the sun was shining.  It stayed that way for about three hours before the gloom returned.  But, before it did, it got up around 60.  Amazing.  Not only that...

...blue skies! (And yes, in the background are some still green trees.)

Sometimes, you have to love November.

But now, back to the gloom.

Joining up, as I do each Friday, with Yogi and other sky watching bloggers at #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Post 4400 Thanksgiving Thoughts

On November 25, my United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving.  And today, I celebrate my blog's 4,400th post.  

But it seems there isn't much to celebrate.

The last almost two years have been a tremendous strain on us and our country, as it has been for everyone all over the world.

Our country may be on the brink of a Civil War.  I've thought for a long time that the American Civil War never truly ended. Now, as the days pass, it seems that we are headed to a brink that we won't be able to pull back from.

It won't be geographic this time, at least not in the way our Civil War of 1861-1865 was. Political divisions are already splitting families - and marriages - apart.

This is not a political post, so I am not going to get into details or express my opinions.

Rather, I want the Americans reading this to stop and think.

Today, I think of November 19, 1863 when our country was literally being torn apart by a Civil War.   Just in the three day Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), there were some 23,000 Union casualties and 28,000 Confederate casualties.

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave a short speech at a battleground of the Civil War in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as part of a ceremony to dedicate a cemetery on the battle grounds.

It's short and to the point.  Some people think it's one of the greatest speeches in American history.

Prior to that, in October of 1863, Lincoln had also signed a Proclamation of a particular Thanksgiving which had a large religious component.

It's humbling, reading these words below that were written in the midst of a war that killed some 750,000. Americans.  Note that some authorities think the total casualties, which include injuries, might have been in excess of 1,500,000.

At the time of the 1860 census, our population was about 31,443,000, which included about 3,953,762 enslaved individuals.  Our population now is about 331,400,000.

What do we think a modern Civil War would do to us?

Perhaps we should reflect on Lincoln's words (red for the Gettysburg address, blue for the Thanksgiving Proclamation) this year at Thanksgiving.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

What can we do to make things better, this coming Thanksgiving? 

Our children and their childrens's freedoms depend on it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Monitor and the Mall #WordlessWednesday

Sometimes, you find history close to home.

When I went to elementary school in New York City, back in the 50's and 60's, I learned about a Civil War naval battle. More than once.

The battle, off the coast of Virginia of the Union ironclad U.S.S. Monitor vs. the Confederate ironclad Merrimack (not the Merrimac, another ship put into service around 1864) was celebrated as the first modern naval battle.

Little did I suspect I would spend a large chunk of my life in an area with a connection to the Monitor.

The wood from which the keel of the Monitor was cut came in an area, now occupied partially by a Cornell University nature center site called Finch Hollow, located off Oakdale Road in Johnson City, New York.

The site of the sawmill where the keel of the U.S.S.Monitor was milled is a handful of miles from Finch Hollow. The site is, in the present day, occupied by an indoor mall, the Oakdale Mall.  For years, there has been a historical marker, hidden in a corner of the mall.  At one point it vanished.  Then it returned.

In recent years, the mall has come under new management.  I thought the pandemic may have rendered a death blow, but it seems to be doing just fine right now (that deserves its own post as to why), although that future involves retail businesses less and less.   

But I thought of the marker recently:  did it still exist?  A field trip was in order.

In October, our early voting site was located in the mall.  After we voted, my spouse and I walked in the mall.

The marker lives!  A piece of historical history, hidden in a corner, passed by daily by unsuspecting walkers and shoppers.

History is everywhere.  You just need to stop and look around you.

Joining Sandee for her Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Imperfect Pandemic Crochet

I've been crocheting for over 50 years.  Except for one stitch, I'm also self taught.

At this point in my life, I am doing "chewing gum for the mind" type projects, which are projects that don't challenge me in any major way.  I'm done with challenges (at least for now).  The pandemic has given me, from time to time, enough of a challenge, thank you.

Which brings me to this throw.  There was a Facebook group for people who signed up for a crochet summit I took (and paid for one year access to the patterns), and some of them posted pictures of projects. Of course, they all look like they belong in a museum or a state fair competition.

Not so the throw I'm about to show you.

I was working on it back in December, when I blogged about frogging and how crochet taught me sometimes you just have to start over.

Now, the throw is finished.  I took a photo of a section of it.  The left side is the edging.

Here it is.  Confession time: I actually finished it the beginning of February,2021, and thought, "should I show this to people?"

It definitely isn't my best piece of work ever.

Today I am taking a leap of faith that you won't laugh, or (if you are a crocheter) run screaming in horror.   "Nothing matches!" you might be crying, and if you are, well, you are right.  And there is a reason (see "pandemic", above.)

I decided to show it to you because crochet teaches many lessons.  One is living with imperfection.   So, this throw is imperfect.  The question is, what happened? 

I had bought some yarn way back when I started this project and then, at a later date, I realized I didn't have enough.  I couldn't find the original color because it had been discontinued, so I took a chance, based on memory, because I never took some of the original yarn to the store to match it.  My bad.

Early last year, the store (a major crafts chain) closed.  Of course, the yarn was their own store brand yarn. 

Then, the pandemic struck and stores in New York State closed.  When they reopened for curbside pickup (May? it's a blur now), it wasn't the same trying to figure out yarn colors and textures online, and when they opened for inside customers, I wasn't ready for that for a while.

I started working on the throw again late last year and realized, midway through, that the two yarns didn't match.  By then, as mentioned above, the store had gone out of business and it was a store brand.  I looked on eBay and couldn't find the original yarn color (the bottom of the throw) there.  So I kept on going with mismatched yarn.  

By mid-January 2021, it was time for a border. Now, I faced still another problem.  What should I use for the border?  I didn't have enough of the second color (the color on the top) for a border.

So I did some online research and found a brand of yarn whose thickness, softness, and what it was made of more or less matched the defunct store brand and which I could buy locally.  I went into the store (another craft chain) to try to get something that would work to tie these colors together.  And I did it in a bit of a rush, not wanting to expose myself unduly.

I didn't quite find what I wanted but there aren't that many yarn stores around here.  So I ended up with something that didn't quite match, either.  That yarn became the border.

Fortunately, this wasn't a gift.  So I figured, if I am lying on the sofa watching TV, it really won't matter.

Nobody's perfect.


You know what, though?  It was winter.  And we are close to winter again, now.

The throw sure is warm. And soft.  I've been using it as a second blanket on my bed (doesn't cover my spouse, who isn't always cold like I am).  

Not everything needs to be pretty.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day November 2021

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

It's time for the November edition of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  Once again I thank Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this 15th of the month meme. 

Where we live in the Southern Tier of New York, the growing season is over.

The frost has come and gone in our zone 5b garden.  Almost all of my outdoor flowers have met their fate.  The perennials are entering their winter sleep.  It's time to plan and dream.

Today, the forecast was originally snow showers.  Now, it's more clouds and beeze, but it will be an unpleasant day.

So.... These pictures are from yesterday, when the sun shone briefly.  I took my several remaining hanging baskets (none in really good shape) out for a photo shoot.  But first:

I have two outdoor flowers left.

Obedient plant.
And a lone vinca in a sheltered spot.

Inside, one houseplant blooms - one of my two specialty African violets.

Other than that, what I have is from hanging baskets we've brought in at night.  We probably won't be keeping these going much longer.

New Guinea impatiens.


White geranium.
Fuschia, and a tiny monkey flower.

Our remaining petunias/million bells.

Last, but not least, my cuphea, which has been outdoors all this time next to the exhaust pipe for our heating system.  The extra warmth has kept it going.

We've been busy inside, though.  I rooted and potted about six Bravo impatiens plants.  These, hopefully, will winter inside along with two coleus I rooted (not sure they will make it).  I also tried to root four cuphea cuttings using rooting hormone.  One looks like it will make it.

That's it for November.  See you next month!

Do you like to flower garden?  What's growing for you today?

Songs that Bring Back Memories #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and it's time for Music! 

But first, a note:  today is the 15th of the month and time for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  If you are here and looking for flowers (or even if you are not) you can click here to see what I have blooming.

Music lover? If so, away we go!

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. 

We'd love more music lovers to join us.  It's easy! All you have to do is join the linky above with a music post that contains at least one music video (there must be a music video).  And that's it!

Each month we have a guest conductor. Today, for the month of November, we once more welcome Driller from Driller's Place.

Driller's theme for today is"You Pick".  I'm picking songs that bring back personal memories.  I've done this before, and maybe I'm even picking out the same songs, but this is what moves me today.

First off, this is a brand new song, but it brings back memories of all the times I listened to Tears for Fears.   They have now released a new album, their first since 2004.  They've aged a bit, but their musicality hasn't suffered at all.  This song is called "The Tipping Point".

Bruce Hornsby and the Range and "The Way It is" brings back memories of a pre pandemic mall where we exercised in the winter, the muzak blaring songs listened to, mainly, by the walls of an almost empty mall.  (The pandemic mall? Well, worth a different post.  Maybe one day.)

This song brings back memories of traveling to Iowa in 1977 to visit my aunt.  This song is actually from 1976, but I remember it from 1977.

 This song, because one of the Music Moves Me bloggers did a post on Tommy James not that long ago, and I ached to hear this song again.  Here's Tommy James and Shondells doing "Sweet Cherry Wine".

A sad memory, perhaps, but this song reminds me of the months after my Mom died, when I would stay up late at night and listen to the music survey that came out every Tuesday evening on WABC radio in New York City.  I decided to use this Dave Letterman clip from 1987 for Sonny and Cher and "I've Got You Babe".  Here is one of those surveys.

And finally, Fairfield, Iowa being in the news recently brought back a lot of memories.    I heard the album this song is on for the first time in Fairfield, and it was instant love.  I now bring you Synergy (Larry Fast) and "Relay Breakdown". One of the commenters on You Tube remembered it being used as background music in Disney's Tomorrow Land.

And that's a wrap!

Join me again next week, same time, same place, for another episode of Music Moves Me.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Another Fall Another Death

This morning, shortly after awakening, I received a text from a co worker texting our department.

Her 98 year old aunt had fallen earlier in the week, sustaining multiple injuries.  Until the fall, she had been enjoying life, still (in my co-worker's words) kicking "azz".The aunt lived in assisted living and I don't know the exact details of her fall  But the falling was enough.

The aunt passed away last night. 

This reminded me of one of a series of posts I've written over the years about falling

As much as the Stepping On program falls prevention program I participated in during 2015 taught me, there is something that they never touched on.  Not directly, anyway.  My guess is, it isn't part of the official curriculum they must follow.  I think falling education has to face something head-on.

That issue is fear.

Fear of falling.

It's real, and it's timely, as winter is coming.

At one of the first classes I took, the two instructors asked us "How many of you don't go out during the winter unless you absolutely have to?"  More than half raised their hands.  In upstate New York, winters are cold and harsh, with lots of ice and snow.  We can get over 100 inches of snow (254 cm) in a year.  If you don't go out, you are isolated.

But if you have to go out, there are icy sidewalks to deal with.  We've all fallen on them.

I'm only in my late 60's, and I am increasingly afraid of winter.  I have my spouse.  But how many people live alone, or with spouses or partners who suffer physical or health issues?

I refuse to accept that becoming fearful is a normal part of aging.  But falling seems to be all around me, and this is the latest example.

My spouse fell in October of 2017 and broke his nose, among other injuries.  He needed months of physical therapy.  He was lucky.

My mother in law, who passed away in 2018, fell a number of times, starting in her 60's.  Eventually, the cumulative injuries led to her loss of independence.

I think we all have stories - ourselves, loved ones, friends.

It shouldn't have to be like this, in your final years.

May the memory of my co worker's late aunt be for a blessing.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

A Charitable Rodently Rant

On World Kindness Day (today), it seems inappropriate to complain about anything.

Please excuse me, but here we go.

1.  Has Thanksgiving, for you, turned into an occasion of "should we invite so-and-so because (that person's vaccination status) (that person's political beliefs and/or beliefs about "it", whatever your "it" trigger is) (that person's exposure to other people who are/aren't vaccinated) (should we eat out?)(insert your favorite here)"?  In other words, is anyone out there pining for the good old days of 2020 when it all seemed so simple?

2.  From time to time I receive  requests from charities.  There are a few I give to from time to time. The local food bank.  The local Meals on Wheels.  Several others.  They are small donations,  more than once a year, which is key to what I recently found out.

What I don't appreciate are the charities who send you stickers (I would have enough for all of eternity, if I could even live that long), pads, calendars, and you name it.  And then they send you reminders that they sent you such stickers, pads, calendars, or you name its.  One reminded me that you aren't obligated to pay for anything sent to you unsolicited (that's the law in the United States) but...followed by something that attempts to make you feel guilty about not paying for that...um, stuff.

If this is you, too, I recently read this article online  from Charity Navigator (legitimate organization) which was (for me) an eye opener.  

I am getting so much charity mail and now I have an idea why.

3.  Mice.  Every fall we have a mouse invasion.  This fall, it's been ridiculous.  Just in my home office (sounds fancier than "my son's childhood bedroom, using his old desk, which I would have done something about if I had known I was going to work from home for over a year and nine months, and still counting) we've (OK, my long-suffering spouse) caught at least 13 mice.  I'm not counting anymore. 

Going to work now is an adventure.  What will I find when I walk into that room?

So after I send this post off, I'm going (maybe) to be helping said spouse try to discover how they are getting into said room.  We have caught mice elsewhere in the house but that room seems to be a favorite. 

I'm afraid of what we may find.

Wish us luck.

Do you have a rant today?  Feel free to use the comments.