Monday, February 28, 2022

What Is It Good For? #MusicMovesMe

 Monday, Monday.  It's time for music!  It's 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.  (She has been a bit under the weather, but I'm happy to say she's continuing to get better.) 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).

Each month, except December, we have a guest conductor. For the month of February, we welcome, for the last February posting, Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.  Today, she has selected the theme "You Pick".  I'm picking music that speaks to me today, for whatever reason.

Before I begin, a short note:  due to the March 7 A to Z Challenge reveal, I may be posting my Music Moves Me post on Sunday, March 6.  I haven't quite decided yet.

Now onto this week's post. 

1966 was such a good music year.

Neil Diamond "Solitary Man" is my first pick from 1966.  This song was also written by Neil Diamond, and has been covered by many artists since.

The Rolling Stones and "19th Nervous Breakdown", also from 1966.

We all need some whimsy right now in this time of major anxiety, and I found this gem on You Tube.  Fans of 1966 remember "Winchester Cathedral" sung by the New Vaudeville Band.  It was meant as a tribute to 1930's singers such as Rudy Vallee.

Well, who decided to cover that song but..yes, you guessed it.

Earlier this month, I posted the Eurovision performance of the song that became known to us as "Love Is Blue".  Here is the instrumental version, from 1967, by Paul Mauriat.  So soothing.

"Tie A Yellow Ribbon" by Tony Orlando and Dawn, from 1973.  Will she still want him?  Most of us know the answer.

Finally, to complete today's set, from 1970, a song necessary for today's world.  Here is Edwin Starr's "War".  In that song, we find the answer to "War?  What is it good for?"

The answer:  Absolutely nothing.

Join me again next week for another episode of Music Moves Me.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Some Ukranian Music for Your Sunday

Today, in our anxiety stricken world, how about a little music to start our day?   I am going to feature three consecutive days of music, starting today.  Tomorrow is my normal Music Moves Me post, and Tuesday will feature a new competition in my United States.

First, a group I hope you will enjoy.

This is the Ukranian project Kalush Orchestra performing a song called "Stefania".  This song will be Ukraine's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022, to be held in Turin, Italy.  Haven't heard of Eurovision?  This will give you a taste.

This is a song by the related Kalush, called "Mountains", featuring Alyona Alyona.  This one features an English translation - some of the translation I'm not sure of, but it gives the flavor of the song.

More interested in Christian worship music from Ukraine for your Sunday?  This will give you the flavor.

I invite you to visit my Monday Music Moves Me post tomorrow, and my music post Tuesday (probably), on the upcoming American Song Contest.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Two Stories One Reality

Painting with words makes a static printed page come alive.

A great author draws you into a story with a few well chosen words, and keeps you in the world he or she has drawn.  You never want to leave, as you read on.  At the end of the book, you feel a little sad, and a part of you remains in that world for hours, maybe days.

When that world intersects with reality, you enter a whole other dimension.

I've been reading a book called "All The Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr.  It's the second book of his I have read.  The first, "Cloud Cuckoo Land" is now on my personal list of "Best books I have ever read".  I strongly suspect "All The Light We Cannot See" will be joining it.

"All The Light We Cannot See" is a story of two children growing up in 30's and early 40's Europe. Marie-Laure lives in Paris and lost her sight at age six.  She is being raised by her father, who is a locksmith working at the Museum of Natural History.  When the Nazis breach Paris, father and daughter flee to the French city of Saint-Malo, where an uncle of her father lives.  Meanwhile...

In Germany, orphaned siblings Werner Pfennig and his younger sister Jutta grow up in an orphanage. Their father, a miner, died years ago in the mines.  Boys in the orphanage all share a common fate - they leave the orphanage at 15 to work in the mines.  But Werner has a special talent for radio electronics, and the Nazis send him to a special school for training instead.  Eventually, he joins the military and is stationed in Saint-Malo.

I know the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner will intersect, but how, I do not yet know.

What I do know is that Anthony Doerr is one of the most talented word painting author I have ever read.  It was surreal, reading his description of people fleeing Paris in advance of the Nazis, because as I was reading the passages, the TV was showing coverage of the Russians invading Ukraine.  Civilians packed train stations trying to get out of the country.  Many abandoned their cars to walk because driving was hopeless. 

The fleeing on TV, the fleeing in the book, all identical, all merging into one terrifying reality.  Seeing it live, you feel like this author was there on the scene, in Paris, in Saint-Malo. Only the names and nationalities of the people have changed.

It could be anyone.  It could have been you or me.

A bit later in the book (it weaves back and forth in time) the shelling of Saint-Malo is described.  Allow me to share this passage with you:

"Artillery has stopped for the moment, and the predawn fires inside the walls [of the city of Saint-Malo] take on a steady middle life, an adulthood.  The western edge of the city has become a holocaust of crimson and carmine... The largest has curdled into a pillar like the cloud of tephra and ash and steam that billows atop an erupting volcano.  From afar, the smoke appears strangely solid, as though carved from luminous wood."

Will this be the fate of cities in Ukraine?

Two stories, over 70 years apart, but one horrifying reality. 

All to satisfy the ambitions of one man.

Just like all those years ago....

Friday, February 25, 2022

Ice Skies #SkywatchFriday

Our see saw winter is back.  There is ice and sleet on the ground.  We were supposed to get five to eight inches (13 to 20 cm) of snow from this storm but the roads look icy.

It's probably a stay in day.

It also reminds me that the power of ice is awesome.  

Last week, it warmed up, unusually warm for us in the Southern Tier of New York.  Then, it rained.  The rivers were still frozen and ice jams resulted.  Then, a cold front came through and everything froze over.  

These pictures were taken between February 19 and February 24.

The first two pictures were taken February 19.  The river flooded and then froze.  Part of the park was a solid sheet of ice.  The river is right behind the trees.

River and ice.

On the tree to the right, you can see an ice ring around the trunk of the tree.  That's as high as the water had gotten when the cold front came through.

The sun "sort of" came out February 20.  To me, the blue sky looks like a jumbo jet.  You can see the nose and a wing, as it cruises above the frozen park.

And yes, we saw some people (didn't take their picture) walking on this ice!  We didn't.
The sun shone on the river and the ice. 
Another view of the sky.  You can barely see them, but there were five Canada Geese flying just above the tree in the bottom center.

By February 24, things had thawed out enough that some of the walking path was accessible and spouse and I could walk right up to the ice blocks.  Last year, the town had put a couple of benches by the river.  One is now residing in the midst of this ice pile.

And the grand finale of ice.  February 24.  The river is about where the sign in the upper left is.

Now it's all covered with snow again.

So much evil in the world today; let us think today of those fighting/demonstrating to preserve democracy in the world and look to the sky and nature for comfort and inspiration.

Joining Yogi and other skywatchers every Friday for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Snow Squall #ThursdayTreeLove

Have you ever seen a snow squall?

Where I live in the Southern Tier of New York, we gets these snow squalls occasionally.  Fortunately, the meteorologists have gotten better in predicting these, although they can't predict the moment one will strike.

When one does, it can cause white out conditions - in other words you can't see very far.  As you can imagine, it can be hazardous.  Branches can be ripped off trees.  Snow can accumulate.

Taken February 19

Imagine driving when one of these hits.  Fortunately, where we live, they don't last long.  Here is a description of why they happen, and how deadly they can be.

The trees, though, endure.  They are adapted to winter in general, which can be harsh to them.  Limbs are covered in ice or snow and break.  Wind scars them.  Sometimes, the ground gets so soggy that they fall.  But yes, they endure and many thrive in our climate.  Thrive where you are planted is their lesson of today.

Have you ever witnessed a bad snow squall?

Joining Parul at Happiness and Food every second and fourth Thursday of the month, for #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

River Ice Baby #WordlessWednesday

A few days ago, where I live in New York State, we had a couple of days of mild winter weather, followed by a rapid drop in temperature, followed by more melting and resulting ice jams.  

If you've ever seen an ice breakup on a river, or seen the immediate results, it can be awe-inspiring.  And a bit scary.

A local park, along a river, had large ice blocks thrown up from the river, and glaze ice that some people tried skating on. 

Here are some of the ice chunks.  Monday, it warmed up enough for some ice to melt, which permitted me to get close enough to take this picture.  The river is way in the background, just past where the trees are. 

I'll have more pictures taken at that park for you Friday.  When, incidentally, we will be having still another weather event.


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for #WordlessWednesday.


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Sadness at the A to Z

Blogging from A to Z is a blogging event I participate in each April.

Participants start with the letter A on April 1, the letter B on April 2, and end up with Z.  On "A" day your post must be about a topic that begins with the letter day, then "B" on "B" day, and...well, you get the idea.  You post every day in April except Sundays, and if you subtract Sundays from April you come up with 26 days of blogging.  26 letters.

It isn't easy, but it sure is fun.  Here is an excellent explanation of how it works, from someone who has been doing A to Z since 2012.

Many bloggers choose themes, and part of the fun is going to blogs you haven't read before, reading their offerings, and making new blogging friends.  In fact, you are encouraged to visit as many blogs as you can both during April, and (optional) during the rest of the year.

So, when sadness strikes, it's a special sadness.

I started doing A to Z's in 2015 and have done it every year since.  My themes tend to be centered around my domestic travels (minimal since January of 2020), my photos, or both.

But my thoughts have been elsewhere all winter, and it wasn't on my radar.  At all.  

Every winter I go blank for a while.  Sure, I'm here physically but suddenly I wake up one day and feel like I've lost several weeks.

I've woken up from that mid winter mental nap now and I'm starting to get that "A to Z" itch. You'll know what I've decided on March 7, when the theme reveal starts.

Yesterday, I went to the A to Z website and, to my sorrow, discovered that the graphics designer for A to Z, Jeremy, passed away January 3 from COVID-19.  February 2 was to be a tribute day.  That day, of course has passed, but it's obvious that Jeremy was loved by many, and will be missed.

But I can still offer a virtual flower.  I didn't know Jeremy, but I do know people who have lost loved ones to COVID.  Too many of us have lost family members or friends to this plague which continues to divide us, and worse.

This is a kalanchoe flower with a special backstory.

Back in 2018, my mother law had to be taken to the ER several times.  Her health conditions, at age 90, were gettig worse.  She was hospitalized, sent to rehab in a nursing home and eventually entered the nursing home proper.

This kalanchoe was a gift from us, and after her death in late November, 2018, we took it home.  It never bloomed after its initial bloom when we gave it to her.  Earlier this winter, I repotted it.

Sunday, it bloomed.  Just one flower bud, but it's a start.  Maybe it's a sign of hope, too.

I sometimes wonder at the paths each of us would have taken without the pandemic.  Millions of people alive in 2020 would still be alive today, and others of us would have taken different paths in life.

I found a poem yesterday that may not be speaking of COVID, but it spoke to me.

Sadness at the A to Z.  Sadness in the world.

But also hope, as my last amaryllis flower blooms.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Party Time #MusicMovesMe

 It's time to par-ty!  It's Monday and it's 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.  (She has been a bit under the weather, but I'm happy to say she's continuing to get better.) 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).

Each month, except December, we have a guest conductor. For the month of February, we again welcome Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.  Today, she has selected the theme "Party songs".

So let's get the party started, shall we?

Let's start in the 1950's. Here's 1957's hit song Party Doll, first sung by Buddy Knox, and covered by many since then. 

Still in the 50's and loving this video of Bill Haley & His Comets singing "Rock Around the Clock".


Moving to the 60's: No late 1960's Sweet Sixteen would have been complete without the Beatles singing their 1968 song "Birthday".


In the years I went to water aerobics classes at our local YMCA, I can't tell you how many times we exercised to this 1970's hit by the Village People:  YMCA.  This song actually has a pretty deep meaning.

Let's skip to 1986, with the Beastie Boys and "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party).

For the 1990's, I have to use this song, that, for some reason, I absolutely love.  Sir Mix-A-Lot and 1992's Baby Got Back.  This live version is a hoot!

For my last selection let's skip to 2011, with Party Rock Anthem, sung by LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett and GoonRock. We used to exercise to this in my water aerobics class and it's another one I could listen (and dance to) all morning.  I love the zombie video but it's about two minutes longer than this one but if you like zombies, look online for the longer video.

And that's a party wrap!

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

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Shadow Birding #ShadowshotSunday

Reading a comment by a blogger, David, on yesterday's post about the Great Backyard Bird Count, it reminded me of our visit, in January, 2019, to Palm Beach County, Florida.

We saw so many birds there, and one day, I need to identify them.  My phone is so crammed with photos I have no room for a bird app.  I try to delete some pictures and they come right back.

In this picture, here's my shadow taking a picture of one of those birds. The bird is in the center of the picture.

Delray Beach, Florida area January 18 2019
Trying to zoom in on the bird (right center) without blurring it. Whatever this bird is, it is so colorful, so pretty.

One day I will get a camera that takes nice closeup shots, but I can't go back in time....

Linking today to Shadowshot Sunday.

Thank you, Lisa, for introducing me to this meme.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

The Great Backyard Bird Count

I can remember, growing up in an apartment complex in the Bronx, my mother throwing a slice of white bread out the window onto the small lawn below.  I would watch as pigeons and sparrows descended on the bread.

I had no way of knowing that bread was probably the worst thing to feed a bird, but no matter - I was transfixed by the sight below.

Some 60 years later, my spouse, increasingly fascinated by birds himself, bought our first bird feeder.  We've been feeding birds for almost a year now, and learning more about them.

We are far from expert, and my spouse is far better than I am.   But this event doesn't care.

The Great Backyard Bird Count, now in its 25th year, is a worldwide event taking place February 18-21.  No registration is required.  All you need is 15 minutes of your time, but you can devote as much time (just a minimum of 15 minutes) per watch.  You don't need a backyard, either.  You can bird anywhere - from your kitchen window, from an exercise walk, from a stroll along a river, on the beach.  Anywhere counts, city or country.  Little or no experience is needed.  

Chances are, you already are familiar with some of the birds in your area.  If not, there are various online ways to identify your new friends.

This site is the home page of the Count.  There are several ways to report your findings and you have a few days to do it in.  Good pictures are encouraged but not required.

This count is actually quite important to scientists who study birds to understand bird population changes, and much more.

Here are some of my friends.  

Today, where I live, it is blustery and we've had one snow squall, but it isn't keeping the birds away.  (Full disclosure, this picture was taken February 9).  The birds on the ground on the left are mourning doves.  On the feeder right above them are a pair of northern cardinals.  Between the feeder pole and the tree is a small bird, a dark-eyed junco.

I don't have a good camera that can zoom in, and I don't want to give my readers eye strain.

Here's a picture of the sky during the squall.

Birds we've seen so far include: black capped chickadees, tufted titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, northern cardinals, mourning doves, hairy, red bellied, and downy woodpeckers, dark eyed juncos, a song sparrow (we think), and even a blue jay (rare visitors to our yard).

It's estimated over 300,000 people participated in the 2021 count.  Will you be one of those participating in 2022?

Friday, February 18, 2022

Almost Gave Up Sunset #SkywatchFriday

The last couple of days where I live have been so not February.  Yesterday, it got into the 50s F, a lot of our snow melted, it rained, a front came through, and now we are in the 20's with howling winds and a dusting of snow..

So, I dug into my photos for the first week of February.

This was a sunset I nearly gave up on.

Let's rewind to lunchtime of the day before, with clouds all in a row.

The next evening, it was cold, I looked at this, and thought "this doesn't look promising".

So I looked elsewhere in the sky, and saw these clouds.  And then I went home.

A few minutes later, I peeked out and this is what I saw - oh no, better take some pictures!

It's not the first time I almost gave up on a sunset.  Yes, I know.  Patience is not my biggest strength.

Sure enough, although I had given up on the sunset...

...the sunset hadn't given up on me.  For that, I am thankful.

Joining Yogi and other sky watchers each Friday for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Another Win for St. Anthony

I'm not Catholic but I believe in the powers of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost objects.

Here's our first experience with him, when he found a cell phone belonging to my the hospitalized late mother in law.

We were so afraid it had ended up (according to the Find My Phone iPhone feature and also subsequently talking to hospital staff) in a garbage bin behind the facility where hazardous medical waste was taken for special disposal.

When we found it, I told my mother in law (who was Catholic) that we had appealed to St. Anthony and she told me something I didn't know - she was named after him.

Since then, I've called on the saint a couple of other times.  I try not to engage St. Anthony in trivial "I can't find it" missions but without his help, our Monday experience may not have ended as well as it did.

Some background, first.  I've worn a night guard (I grind my teeth) for nearly 25 years.  I've worn one custom made by my dentist, but I now am on a plan that doesn't cover them. My current dentist (my dentist of many years retired last year) charges about $600 for one. 

Lat month my dentist, to diagnose tooth pain in a back tooth, asked me to buy a store bought guard and see if it helped. The store bought guard (which you fit yourself) cost about $20.  The toothache disappeared overnight.

So, it seemed my custom guard no longer fit right, and I started to use the store bought guard.

Sunday morning, I took out my night guard when I woke up, took it to the bathroom as usual, cleaned it, and left it on the sink.

Sunday night, I went  to get the guard.  It was gone.

I looked on the floor. Not there.  I thought, maybe I left it on my bedside table but it wasn't there either.  Spouse looked under the bed with a flashlight.  We could not find it.

The next day, I would have to buy another store bought guard and fit it.  So, I appealed to St. Anthony.

Monday afternoon, spouse suddenly had a thought.  He acted on it while I was working, and soon found the guard.

He knocked on my office door and handed me the guard.  It was ice cold.

He had found it outside the house, sitting on top of the snow covering our front lawn.

How it got there is a long story.  And if it had snowed overnight, we may never have found it.  Outside would have been the last place we would have looked.  I don't think that idea entered spouse's mind randomly.

Thank you again, St. Anthony!

Has this saint ever found something for you?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

October Rose #WordlessWednesday

Snow covers the ground where I live in the Southern Tier of New York.

I scrolled through my phone photos, looking for some flowers to take the edge off of mid-winter.

From October 10, 2021, I found this lovely rose in bloom in a street meridian in Binghamton, New York.  Although it was fall,nothing says summer like a sweet, sweet rose.


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day February 2022

Unbelievable - it's the 15th of February.  How the weeks have flown by.  And now, it's the second Garden Bloggers Bloom Day of 2022.

Less than six weeks of winter now, in my zone 5b New York State garden, all the action is indoors.  Maybe by next month, I'll have something blooming outdoors?  In the meantime, I have some plants blooming under lights, mainly in my home office.  I can't believe how many flowers I have for this GBBD; it must be a personal record for me.

The impatien I grew from a cutting continues to flower.


The African violet plant in my kitchen window.  I recently transplanted it into a larger pot, and it is rewarding me with blooms.  I'm pretty sure there are two plants in there but I am just letting it be.

This is not your normal African violet; it comes from a specialty breeder elsewhere in New York.  The foliage is supposed to be variegated but it isn't.  The flowers are small, but I still like the plant.

This plant is tradescantia Blossfeldiana cerinthoides variegata.   I bought it at a local nursery during their holiday open house and it must be happy under the lights in my home office because they bloom when they are happy. 

Here's a closeup (as much as my old iPhone will allow) of the flower. 

A viola which I took in before the hard freeze. 

My airplane plant has put out an "airplane" which is blooming.

My second amaryllis I bought last year is finishing up its bloom.

Finally, here's a surprise.  I have a couple of Vicks plants (Plectranthus tomentosa) which I desperately need to cut back. For some reason, I never get around to it and it's not as if I was super busy.  Sunday, I thought I would do it but, to my surprise, the plants were flowering! 

Joining Carol at May Dreams Gardens each 15th of the month for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  If you have indoor or outdoor flowers to share, why not join us?

Monday, February 14, 2022

Music to Skate By #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday morning, the Olympics are ongoing, and it's 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.  (She has been a bit under the weather, but will be rejoining us as soon as she can.  Hoping it is today, but if not, please get better soon!) 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).

Each month, except December, we have a guest conductor. For the month of February, we again welcome Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.  Today, she has selected the theme "Freedom of Choice Day - You Pick".

After several days of watching figure skating/ice dancing, I decided to feature several songs the skaters/dancers competed to this Olympics.

Turns out that music choices aren't an easy process for skaters.  Many factors go into the final music the skater/their coaches pick. Does it suit the skater's style? Does it work with the choreography of the routine, given that these ice competitions are as much artistry as athletic.  Also, until about eight years ago, only ice dancers (not figure skaters) could choose songs with lyrics.

The song performances I've chosen aren't necessarily what the skaters skated to, given time and other constraints (or me liking a different version better).

First up - Joe Cocker and his cover of  INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart", chosen by Keegan Messing, who skated for Canada.

A version of "Paint It, Black" by the London Symphony Orchestra was used by China's Yi Zhu in her short program.  Again, I'm posting the original and I hope one of my readers, a Rolling Stones fan, enjoys this.  Actually, I like many Rolling Stones songs, too.


A cover of The Long and Winding Road was chosen by Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.  I chose the original by The Beatles because I promised one of my readers I would.

Elton John's music was performed at least three times.  "Your Song" by Elton John was the choice of Japan's Wakaba Higuchi.  In the men's freeskate competition, American Nathan Chen picked a melody of music from the movie Rocketman, and Elton John expressed his appreciation.  I decided to post Chen's performance so you could hear the exact music played at the Olympics (the actual performance ends at about 4:37 so this isn't as long as it seems.)

This song was Switzerland's entry in the 2021 Eurovision contest.  Gjon'sTears and Tout l'univers and was skated to by Morisi Kvitelashvili, skating for Georgia.

Finally, Eliska Brezinova of the Czech Republic used a cover of The Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by various artists for her short program.  I am using the original.

And that's an icy wrap!

Join me again next week for another episode of Music Moves Me.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

He Had a Secret

Yesterday, February 12, would have been the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, and our country's President during the United States Civil War.  He was assassinated in April of 1865, several days after the official conclusion of the war.

I blogged about our Civil War during its 150th anniversary, from 2011 to 2015.  Here are several older posts about Abraham Lincoln.

Dining with Abraham Lincoln 

The Handwriting of Abraham Lincoln 

Moments that Changed History 

Something I Saw in the Capitol of South Carolina, the first state that seceded

In the last post above, I had a discussion with a fellow blogger about my belief that this Civil War never ended. If you've listened to news recently, you may be thinking along the same lines, or a different line - that we are on our way to a second Civil War.

When I was born, survivors of that era were still alive and it may be interesting to see a man who claimed to have witnessed Lincoln's assassination. He appeared on a game show in 1956 at the age of 96, months before his death. (He was born in 1860.)

The man's name was Samuel Seymour, the son of a Maryland man who owned enslaved people. (Another little detail of history - states that allowed slavery but did not leave the union were permitted to keep slavery going through out the war.   Maryland was one of four such states.)

His story (his memory mainly is seeing John Wilkes Booth "falling out of the balcony") may or may not be true but it is interesting reading some of the details of Mr. Seymour's life.

Let us remember, today, that history isn't a boring story of dates and battles.  It is the story of real people and real suffering.

History moves on.  What story will we write for the history books?

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Rhapsody in Blue (and Some Recipes)

Tomorrow is Super Bowl.  I should be posting recipes we use but I will, instead, post links to some past posts.

Guacamole and tomato salsa. 

And Emily Bites with her Thai Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce. 

But now to the topic of today's post.

Today would have been Abraham Lincoln's birthday.  I plan to blog more about that tomorrow.

I started out angry today morning at some developments in the news.  I could explode.  Or splatter my thoughts over this blog draft area which I might regret later.

Or, I could turn to music.

I subscribe to a free Substack written by newsperson Dan Rather, and to my joy this morning, his post was a post about a wonderful musical composition called Rhapsody in Blue..

We have a bit of history, Rhapsody in Blue and me.

I fell in love with Rhapsody in Blue when United Airlines used it as music in their commercials back in the 1980's; so much so that I bought a cassette tape so I could listen to it whenever I wanted.  This was before streaming, or You Tube, after all.

This is a blend of jazz and classical music with a beginning clarinet glissando that is instantly recognizable by millions worldwide.  It was composed by George Gershwin, a young musical genius

It premiered on February 12, 1924.  Sadly, George Gershwin would only live to the age of 38, passing away in 1937 from brain cancer.

When I became pregnant in the late 80's, my hormones were all over the place, and I couldn't listen to the commercials without sobbing uncontrollably.

Later, in choosing music I would have while in labor, Rhapsody in Blue was one I chose.

Now, today, on the anniversary of the premiere of Rhapsody in Blue, I'm posting the performance posted on his Substack by Dan Rather. On piano is a Georgian pianist, Khatia Beniatishvili, playing with the Orchestre National de Lyon, conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

If you listen to the end (and I hope you will, although it is nearly 18 minutes) you'll see how Khatia Beniatishvili congratulates the conductor and orchestra before taking her well deserved bows.


Now, as we return to the ground after soaring with music:  May our skies be friendly again one day.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Cloudy February Sunset #SkywatchFriday

Wednesday was an unbelievable day where I live in the Southern Tier of New York State.  Blue skies!  Temperatures in the 40's F! (7.7 C)

Spouse and I went to our local rail trail.  We had had ice about a week ago, with snow on top of it.  It was well salted but there was still a lot of icy slush where we and other walkers going in the other direction barely had enough room to go single file in our lanes.

The walk started out with blue skies, but, as we walked, clouds started to gather. (This is the same walk where I took the tree pictures that I posted yesterday, if anyone is interested.)

Some of the clouds looked like cotton puffs, like this one right over the trail.

The clouds increased.  

By sunset, it was still mild enough to watch the sunset (in a different location) but there were so many clouds I didn't know what type of sunset I would see.

It's difficult to get into the park we like to watch sunsets in, and we weren't in the most scenic location, near a city facility. But if I edit out the trucks I also edit out the sunset, so my apologies. The sign here attracted my attention, too. What, may I ask, is a Xmas Trff Dropoff?

Let's rejoin the sunset, as the clouds catch the last rays of sunlight.

Thank you, Nature, for another performance of beauty.

Joining up, as I do each Friday, with Yogi and the other skywatchers of #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

The First Signs of Spring #ThursdayTreeLove

Many of our trees here in the Southern Tier of the United States' New York State are slumbering.  Their leaves having dropped months ago. The ground they are rooted in is frozen over and covered in several inches of snow. You'd think they are unaware of the increasing daylight and the subtle changes that show that winter is just starting to lose some of its grip on our frozen world.

You would be wrong.

The trees know something is happening.  It's hard to see but this tree is starting to glow a little in its upper branches.  It isn't reflected sunshine.  It's sap starting to rise.  The mildish (46F, 7.7C) temperatures we had today were partially responsible, but a mild day too soon in the season won't have that effect.

Another view, showing more snow.  Big tree and little tree both, they are feeling the stir of change even as they still hibernate.  They know it's not time.  We will be getting near zero F (-17.7) Sunday night, with more snow.

Some of our trees are evergreens, and have other ways to cope with our cold, but they know, too.

The wisdom of the trees, as they patiently await the awakening signal, proves they are paying attention.

Will we ever pay the attention we should to the world around us, before it is too late?

Oh, those blue skies, already gone.  But they will be back one day soon.

Joining Parul at Happiness and Food every second and fourth Thursday for #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Strawberry Onions #WordlessWednesday

I know what you're asking (except, maybe, if you live, or have lived, in Florida).  What is a strawberry onion?

I was introduced to strawberry onions in March of 2013, when spouse and I visited a Florida farmers market in Tampa and discovered them.

We were leaving Florida to drive home to New York State and bought two of the onions.  After we got home and tried them,  I said something like "If I knew how good they tasted, I would have bought up the vendor's entire stock." It was the end of the season, too.  We lucked into them.

No, Strawberry Onions are not a cross between strawberries and onions. Nor do they taste like strawberries.  Rather, they are a mild variety of onion.  They grow in strawberry fields in the Plant City, Florida area, which is a major strawberry producing area. (Plant City is in the same county as Tampa).

At one time, strawberry farmers believed that planting these onions on the perimeter of the field would ward off insects.  That isn't true, alas, but the practice continues.

They don't get their taste from their strawberry neighbors, but they thrive on the water and fertilizer given to the strawberry plants.  They used to be grown at the perimeter of the strawberry fields but production is growing, thanks to a growing demand.

Some call them Florida's best kept secret. 

In 2020, we discovered we could mail order them, and did.  We have mail ordered them every year since.  The harvest begins in early February and stretches into mid to late March, depending.

You can get them at Parksdale Market in Plant City (I highly recommend their strawberry shortcake, by the way.  They are not cheap to mail order but it's a splurge.   

So mild.  Someone I know who is a produce expert thinks they are of the same variety as the famous Vidalia onions, which have their own distinct character because of the short days and the special soil where they are grown in Georgia.  Well, call this Florida's version.

This will give you a hint of their size.  It wasn't the biggest onion in the box, either.

And no, I'm not being paid to publicize their onions.  


Joining Sandee (if she will have me with my onion scented blog today) at her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

The Fall of Newspapers Continues

The more things change, the more things stay the same (or so the saying goes).

I found a draft of a blog post I was planning, back in 2014.  If only I had known what the next few years would bring.

This is from that forgotten draft:

" Newspapers shrink. Newspaper employees in the thousands have been laid off.  Some newspapers are no longer published in hard copy.  Prices go up. Some papers in the area (not ours - not yet) are no longer delivering daily.  Our paper here in the Binghamton, New York area is now a mashup of local and a national publication, USA Today. And, service is more and more nonexistent.  No service given by a dying industry to the remainder of their faithful customers.

I really wonder if the industry will exist at all five years from now.  We need journalists for many reasons.  Our society will be poorer for the disappearance of the newspaper.  Is it too late for the industry to turn things around?  More and more, I think the answer is "yes, it's too late."

So, here in 2022, I can tell you that our local newspaper is still publishing, but, it seems, just barely.

News stories, more and more, seem to concentrate on examples happening in the Hudson Valley, a part of New York State over 100 miles from where I live in New York.  Restaurants closing?  Schools experiencing difficulties?  Whatever the topic, they rarely aren't interviewing anyone local.

Our local newspaper printing plant closed years ago (it's currently owned by Binghamton University and is, at this time, hosting a COVID testing site) so if we have bad weather the newspaper doesn't get delivered.  Instead, we are expected to go online and read the website.  There is no refund.  Over the last thirty days, there have been several times we haven't gotten the paper until the next day, if at all.

They do advise us by email that we won't get the paper, but no worries! We can read it online!  But there is something about reading something you hold in your hands, or can take (ahem!) into another room to read.

For Christmas and New Years 2021, the newspaper published a combined edition, three days all crammed into one little paper for each holiday. Or, should I add, one paper for the price of three, because they charged subscribers three papers for that one.  Want more than the print edition?  Well, subscriber, go online.

And, best (or worst) of all, our newspaper will no longer be publishing on Saturdays, starting in March.

We need journalists more than ever.  But with the death of a lot of local papers, including many in small towns, we don't have the journalism we need in print form anymore.  I saw an interview Sunday that explained that over 2,200 local newspapers have folded since the early 21st century.  In fact, there is a bill called the "Local Journalism Sustainability Act" before Congress right now, which has some bipartisan support.

Perhaps I'm old fashioned, given that I'm in my late 60's, but I would miss my daily paper if it disappeared.

But, most of all, I would miss the local investigative reporting we so need in this country.  The local scandal.  For those in small towns, the police blotter.  Even the "Mrs. Smith went shopping with Mrs. Jones and then had lunch at the Burger Barn" I thought was so cheesy when I lived in the countryside of Northwest Arkansas years ago.

It wasn't cheesy.

Is it too late to revive the local newspaper?