Sunday, July 31, 2022

Flowers for the Last Day of July

It's so hard to believe today is the last day of July.  Let's take it easy with some flower pictures.  Actually, I kept busy today, including a birding walk in our local park with my spouse - too bad I don't have any really good pictures to show you, but I did see some butterflies, including at least two black swallowtails and a butterfly that may have been a monarch - or a viceroy.  I'll publish what I was able to photograph in August.  Maybe.

First, some pictures from my front yard this morning.

My hibiscus is finally starting to flower.  We've had a lot of insect problems with it this year.

Tall phlox. 

My day lilies are nearly done but I've chosen several from July 28.  This color reminds me of sherbet.

The lily I unofficially call "Yikes, stripes!" although these weren't the color of the Fruit Stripe Gum of my childhood, or the striped toothpaste they sold back then, either.
I'll return to today for one more.  My large yellow day lilies are nearly done but they are putting on the grand finale today, next to the tall phlox.  Above them the pink flowers are the geraniums my son gave me for Mother's Day.

Now, a bonus. I'll end with my newest daylily purchase - Citrus Kick.

Hope you are all having a wonderful day.  Even if it is the last day of July.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Another Walk on the Wildlife Side - Osprey, Sunning Robin, and A Mystery Turtle

Even on an urban walking path, feet from a main, heavily traveled parkway, you can find wildlife if you only look.

Today seemed to be a special day.  As we were getting into our car to go to the Vestal Rail Trail to exercise, we heard a bird call and looked up.  It was flying like a raptor.

You can't see it that well but it's in the upper third of the photo between the power line on top and the second to the top. Spouse ID'd it from the body as an osprey and spouse's Merlin app identified its call with the same bird.  We don't live that far from a river.

Sightings on the Vestal Rail Trail at noontime today:


Not wildlife, but I've seen goldenrod in bloom the last couple of days.  I don't think I've ever seen goldenrod in bloom in July before where I live in New York State.

 An American robin exhibiting a behavior I have rarely seen.

This behavior is called sunning.  The robin spent some time, as we watched, stretching out its wings, one at a time, and finally settling on the ground.  Apparently, this is done to bake lice and other parasites out of the feathers.  It was a sunny day.

I wish I had a scale to show the size of this small turtle.  This turtle was literally in the middle of the trail.  I'm not good at estimating sizes but my spouse thinks it was about three inches (7.6 cm) long.  Not visible in the picture, but I could see red dots lining the bottom of its carapace  I couldn't seem to find a turtle looking exactly like this on this document showing various New York turtles.

I think the closest we could get was this being a relatively young painted turtle.

I have to admit, I don't know much about turtles.  Part of me wanted to rescue it and at least put it on the grass (not sure if someone speeding along on a bicycle would even have seen it) but I decided not to try to touch it.

Groundhog.  No mystery there.  We've been seeing a lot of them this year.

It's always interesting to see what we can observe when we walk and now that my spouse has a new iPhone SE 3rd edition and has installed the wonderful free Merlin app for bird ID, I'm sure we will have many further adventures.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Rainbows iPhones and a Sunset #SkywatchFriday

July 23 was an interesting day.  We got some rain, which was most welcome, given that we are in a drought where I live in the Southern Tier of New York State. 

After the storm, spouse told me there was a rainbow outside.  I ran out and took this picture with my iPhone SE 1st edition.  Sorry about the power lines.

You can just barely see a hint of a second rainbow above the first.
Let's fast forward to that night's sunset, taken with my SE 1st edition.  We were hoping for good color due to the clouds.
We've been making an effort to get out for more sunsets, whether they seem promising or not.

The sun seems to say "these are my colors, yellow, pink and purple" as it heads to illuminate other parts of our world.

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

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Intersecting Bird Lives and a Store Closing

I've been spending an increasing amount of time in my small backyard, where my shade loving plants grow, and where birds and other wildlife visit.

For much of this enjoyment, I can thank a store in the community which announced recently that it will be closing the end of August.

We went there today, and a co-owner told us that the store had been his second career.  Ironically, it also took him and his wife away from their first love, birding.  They tried to sell the store for months (it's part of a franchise) but were unsuccessful.  Fall migration is not that far away, and he didn't want to miss it still again because of his business.  He still hopes someone will buy it.

This business has nourished so many people, especially when the pandemic kept many of us home and started a love of watching birds in us and others.  The staff of the store were happy to teach, and were quick with advice.  We learned so much from them.

We will miss the store.  The nearest stores of this franchise are about an hour away, and I'm not sure we will make the drive (especially in winter) to shop there.  But one never knows.

We've seen so much this year, as we continue to learn and understand what the birds are doing around us. We've been watching for over a year now, and no two days were alike.

During last winter, we marveled at our native birds, who dealt just fine with snow on the ground, and faced ice cold with only feathers to protect them.  They braved weather that would have had me bundled up in the entire inventory of a sporting goods store.

Male (left) and female goldfinch, July 2022

We watched in late spring as male goldfinches molted from winter drab greenish brown into bright yellow.

As spring migration progressed, we heard new bird songs and calls.  The many non native birds who summer here started to return.  Many, like the warblers, we never get to see, but we hear them.

The male Northern cardinal whose territory we live in one again favored his female with exchanges of seeds at the feeder and weeks later we saw two of their children for the first time.  Probably Mr. Cardinal was swearing undying love with those seed gifts. But we know he will forget all about love come next winter when, if his mate dares to feed at the feeder when he he around, he will kick her (almost literally) off, leaving her to fend for herself on the snowy ground.

And then there were the juvenile birds.  Last year, we never noticed them as we were too busy learning about the adults.  But now the parents, comfortable at our feeders, are introducing their offspring.

We saw house finches feeding their young a month or so ago.  These juveniles left the nest but continued to need a parent's help to feed themselves.  The males took on this task as the young flutter in their presence as the female prepared another nesting.  The show is over now.  We missed it.

Cardinals are nervous feeders at the feeder, and even nervous on our fence, constantly alert.  The finches just dig in at the feeder.  


Female Hairy Woodpecker

Our woodpeckers don't mind my presence.

One day, my photos won't be so tiny

A downy woodpecker drills into a seed cake right above the black cone (it's a baffle, which hopefully will block squirrels and chipmunks) as I blog this.

Speaking of chipmunks...

The chickadees, having absented themselves for child rearing duties, have shown up again, announcing their presence with a confident "chick-a-dee dee dee" call.

In the distance, I hear fish crows, a species of bird that has appeared here only in recent years, thanks to climate change. 

Much of this enjoyment came from the education the staff of this store gave us, as we bought feeders, seeds, seed cakes, and bark butter from them. That includes most all of what you see in these pictures.

We understand why they are closing, but it's still going to be a sad day when they lock the doors for the last time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Elusive Viceroy #WordlessWednesday

It's a scary thing.  I have not seen (close enough to identify) any monarch butterflies so far this year.  However, I finally saw (as in "I was able to make a good ID thanks to my pictures") a similar butterfly near my home in the Southern Tier of New York.

You can barely see it here in the upper left.  Darn iPhone!

Spouse and I were exercise walking on Monday in a local park and a butterfly that looked like a monarch crossed our path, on the way to some weeds.  Would it stop long enough for me to get some pictures?  It definitely wasn't a monarch; it was a little smaller than a monarch but definitely not a small butterfly.

I tried to get closer but it flitted away.  I followed it.  It alighted on a clover flower.  I just couldn't get close enough.  Here it is in the middle left.

But then it landed on grass.

And stayed put briefly. 

I approached, snapping pictures.  These pictures are still small but if I enlarge them too much, they will blur.

It's definitely a viceroy, a butterfly that mimics the coloration of monarchs.  Naturalists used to think it mimicked so it won't get eaten, but that is now being disputed.  Viceroys, like monarchs (it turns out) are toxic to many animals.  The mimicry is actually more complicated than first believed.

 You can ID from the bar lines just above the lowest black and white dotted area that run to the body.  Monarchs don't have these bars. Also, viceroys are a little smaller than monarchs.

What a sadness that monarchs, incidentally, were just put on the endangered species list.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

I Won't Give Up

 I  hope it was a glitch, but I'm not so sure.

The date of my post was November 19, 2014.  Don't go looking for it, because you won't find it.  It was disappeared (not a typo) on July 4, 2022, the day we celebrate here in the United States as Independence Day.

How ironic.  

I need to explain what happened, and I'll tip toe around some facts so nothing similar happens to this post.

On July 4th I was prewriting my Tuesday, July 5 post, "Finally Time for A New Phone?".

But when I tried to publish it, the blogging platform I use immediately tagged it as not meeting their standards for acceptable material.  It was put back into draft, and I was instructed, by a label they placed on the post, that I needed to review their standards and rewrite the post.  No explanation of what was wrong (from their point of view).  There was a link for me to read such standards.

I didn't see anything wrong with it.

I shortened it a little, and made a slight change to the title, and it published. 

I was sitting outside in the back yard when this happened, and when I came back into the house, my spouse said "What happened? You look like you just ate a cockroach."  I told him what happened.

Later that evening, when I checked my email, I saw a message that a different post had been pulled from my published posts and put back into draft.  No explanation, once again.  If I want to republish it, the post has to undergo a review. I'm noting this post was published in 2014.

The pulled post, in case you are wondering is about how certain technology that we think is relatively new actually isn't.  For example, did you know that the first electric car was made in 1890?  It was a post full of trivia.  That's all.

So, is said mega corporation crawling through all our posts, those of us who use that platform, looking for certain keywords?  Or was it some kind of glitch?  I somehow doubt it was a real person, looking for posts he or she could mark with a scarlet "C".

The post remains in my drafts with a big red symbol on it.

You who have self hosted blogs will probably tell me that since I don't have a self hosted blog, this could happen again.  I don't doubt it.  But it's not going to make me give up blogging.  Several times recently, though, hair has stood up on my neck when I'm ready to publish.  Maybe the cause of this incident was innocuous but it's necessary to summon the feelings of "something more".  It's the times we live in.

Right now, I need to remember how I felt the evening of July 4. I was blogging on my laptop in the backyard, and when I came in, my spouse remarked "you look like you just swallowed a cockroach.  What happened?"

Initially, I wondered  (because I linked to several sites where I obtained information about the age of the technology I was blogging about in that post) if one of those sites had been since taken over by a site which was now - ahem - not reputable.  That's one explanation.

Now, I'm not so sure.

I have prided myself in publishing one post (sometimes more) daily since I finished a blogging challenge in May of 2011.  Now, like a mouth missing a tooth in the front, I know there is something missing.  My writing tongue probes for the wound. 

This blog (I started it in 2009) has years of memories.  Years of information meaningful to me that I refer to from time to time.

Right now, I have to decide if it's worth the trouble to rewrite the post and try to republish it. I feel I am honor bound to do something.  I don't just want to ignore it and go on my not so merry blogging way.  The fact that it happened on July 4 is not lost on me. 

I should thank this blogging platform for doing this to me, because now I have a taste of what it feels like.  It's something brave writers have dealt with for years in other countries.

So my immediate question is one for those who use or have used this blogging platform.  Has this happened to you?

And if it did, what did you do?

Monday, July 25, 2022

Come Sail Away on Vacation #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and it'stime for music!

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!)   Our head hostess is Cathy from Curious as a Cathy,  and she is joined by the knowledgeable Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and (last but not least) me.

Our founder, Marie aka Xmas Dolly, has stepped back from blogging for now, and would appreciate your good thoughts as she works through some health issues. The latest word from Marie is that she hopes to return to occasional blogging next month.  Here's hoping!

We'd love more music lovers to join our fun group.  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 or your post will be subject to removal or labeling "No Music").  So easy!

Each month, except December, we have a guest host. For July, we are welcoming Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.  

Her theme for this week is" Vacation Songs".  I know people have their own ideas of the perfect vacation.  Some prefer the beach, some the mountains, and some spas, or historical sites, or camping in a tent or RV.  

Right now, relaxing in my backyard on a warm summer day, I'm thinking of a selection of songs.

An obvious (to me) start:  Vacation, by the Go-Go's.  This all female group made music history in various ways, overcoming discrimination against female musicians, but disbanded for a time because of all the pressure they were put under. 

We don't always take vacations in the summer but so many of us associate vacation with hot summers.  Here are two songs from my childhood.  First up, from 1960,  Brian Hyland and "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini".  Its songwriter, the talented Paul Vance, died earlier this year.

Still not enough vacation songs?  Stick around; we'll tell you more.

Next, here's Nat King Cole and "Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer" from 1963.

 Pretzels and beer, anyone?  Perfect vacation food.

Although I suffer from seasickness and don't seek out boating adventures, I love hearing songs about boats.  This late 1977-early 1978 song "Come Sail Away" from Styx puts me right in the vacation mood.

So do the Beach Boys and their 1966 song "Sloop John B", although the song has nothing to do with vacations, unless you like terrible vacations.  And face it, sometimes vacations aren't all you expect them to be.  In fact, the song itself has a fascinating history. The Beach Boys album this song comes from (Pet Sounds) is considered by many to be one of the best (if not the best) rock album of all time.

Still want some fun?  Katrina and the Waves, Walking on Sunshine, from 1983.

One last song, again, maybe not a true vacation song, but wouldn't you love to sail away with the one you love to another world?  Let's revisit 1983. Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton had a big hit, a crossover from country to rock, with a song written by Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb: "Islands In the Stream".

And that's a wrap!

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

Sunday, July 24, 2022

A Farm Tale or Two

In one of my blueberry picking posts this year, I mentioned I would blog something about the owners of the U-Pick blueberry farm and what they are going through right now.

Of course, there is the heat and the drought.  Normally, the you-pick would have started at noon on Sunday (to allow the owners to attend church, I'm assuming) but today, due to the possible record heat forecast,  they opened at 9am.

We were so grateful.

The bushes were loaded but I wonder how much business the heat has caused this farm operation to lose.

They used to also come to our local farmers market, and sell (in season) blueberries, squash, and sweet corn.  But, the people who helped them pick moved to another state several years ago.

Until relatively recently, an ailing relative the woman had been caring for took up much of her time.  The family member has since passed away but there is exhaustion.  Something had to give, and it was the farmers market.

Not only that, but they never were able to put in their sweet corn at all, something that was a good seller for them.  

Farming is hard work, and this, added to what life throws at all of us, makes for a hard life.

So, as we picked and picked in the warm morning, we were so grateful. (Yes, we tell her so).

If you are fortunate enough to live where there are farmers, they all deserve our love and respect.

And, speaking of farming and love, I have to close with this emu and south Florida farmer Taylor Blake who have gone viral. 

Apparently, Emmanuel detests iPhones but loves his owner, and the feeling (about love) is mutual.  

I discovered Emmanuel Todd Lopez last Sunday on Twitter (the actual videos are posted on TikTok) and have watched the videos...well, a lot.  Taylor and Emmanuel even recently appeared on late night television (this and a couple of her other videos are here) with Jimmy Kimmel.

As Taylor said at the end of the Jimmy Kimmel clip "Choose Love".

Saturday, July 23, 2022

The Second Half of Summer Has Begun

Summer ended yesterday, where I live in the Southern Tier of New York State.

I'm only kidding.  It's going to be in the 90s F (33-ish C) today, tomorrow, and perhaps for the next few days.  But I heard the song that heralds the end of summer yesterday.

This song triggers what has become one of my annual posts.  I've heard the first cricket of 2022.

It was just for a moment, on Wednesday that I thought I heard the sound.  On Friday I heard it again, as spouse and I headed to watch a sunset.  This time, there was no doubt.  Let's call the date for 2022:  July 22.

In a way, I dread the first cricket song, because it means winter is on its way.  The rest of summer, into fall, will be filled with their song until a hard frost ends it until next year.

I've been tracking when I've heard the first crickets since I started to blog in 2009.  Here are most of my previous posts: some of these dates below don't correspond with the post date but the sighting date.  I did look some in my blog, and I don't think I did a post in 2013.

So, why track this date?  During the pandemic, and our current times, 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.  It's as dependable as people, apparently, are not.
There is also 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. 

But I like paying some attention to the natural world.  I've seen the juvenile birds in our yard grow and start to change their plumage.  I've seen the Canada geese disappear from our park, which they do for some reason each July, and return.  They returned on Thursday.

We all are called by Nature in some way.  The trees know when to drop their leaves and sprout new leaves in spring.  The migrating birds of our area know (although climate change is messing up these signals, sadly, especially in spring) when to leave for their true homes.  I never realized varous of our birds just summer here to breed.

Now, I hear the call of the crickets.  It may make me sad to know summer is fleeting, but it's all the more reason to live each day in the moment.

And, speaking of summer - I hope my readers are staying cool.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Deceptive Skies #SkywatchFriday

We on our planet are being given a crash course on surviving in heat.  My heart goes out to all those struggling with the heat in Europe and in much of the United States and elsewhere in the world.

It has now reached us in the Southern Tier of New York.

But you would never know it from the sky.

Before the heat hit - July 15.

Dramatic sky July 19, as the heat moves in.

Another part of the sky, also July 19.

Finally, taken around 7:45 am on July 21.  Looks so peaceful but the temperature was already going up.

I hope all my readers can stay cool.

Joining Yogi and other sky watching bloggers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Boundaries of Libraries

I wish I could post pictures of butterflies or daylilies today.

OK, just one.  I'll post one, the Citrus Kick I bought last week. 

But today, I have to discuss something more serious than flowers or daylilies.

Our local library is running two adult reading programs. One, which all the county libraries are participating in, involves having a card stamped each time you visit a library.  The other, only for customers of Your Home Library in Johnson City, New York, involves reading a minimum of six books between late June and mid August.  I'm up to four, so I'm sure I'll make the reading deadline.

You don't have to pay me to read.  Back when I worked in downtown Binghamton, New York, I was in walking distance of the public library, and I would go there two or three times a week.  The library has a small flower garden with a covered picnic table and several benches and tables.  Since COVID, I was only in that garden once, to take some pictures.

When I was young, I wanted to be a bookmobile librarian.  I grew up in New York City and had access to one of the greatest library systems in the United States.  I was fortunate.  My parents allowed me to read whatever book I wanted. As an adult, I explored becoming a librarian when I lived briefly in Iowa.

In general, librarians are some of the most awesome people you'd ever want to meet.  They have been on the front lines of fighting against censorship for many years, but now, they are being tested like almost never before.

There's always been book banning and censorship, but it is reaching new levels.

I have a Facebook friend, someone I have never met, but I have read her blog for several years.  She lives in the Bonners Ferry, Idaho area (she writes about this town in her blog, but otherwise I am not revealing any personal information or linking to her blog).

Bonners Ferry. Idaho, a small town of about 2,639 people, was named after Bonners Ferry, operated by one Edwin Bonner.  His ferry was used to transport men and mules to the Canadian Gold Rushes of the 1870's. Its library, the Boundary County library, was once named "The Best Small Library in America". 

The Best Small Library in America is being besieged. The people doing it think they are doing right by their children and their beliefs.  But the situation is spiraling into harassment and possible violence.

If you read the library's Facebook page, you will see postings that may well alarm you, if you believe in free speech and expression.  The Spokane, Washington newspaper also featured an opinion piece on this situation this past Sunday. I am not linking to this directly, because I suspect Blogger has become sensitive to certain content not rated G or PG, but you can easily do a search engine search for that and the Boundary County library.  The opinion piece is also posted on the Facebook page.

The situation has a lot of detail, and I think it would be better to read it directly from the sources.

A regular meeting today of the Board of Trustees, meantime, was cancelled "in the interest of public safety".  The reason was "due to an increase in harassing behavior, derogative accusations, and a purported threat of violence".

I am thousands of miles from Idaho. My Home Library should be safe.  Why should I care?

Because if what is happening to the Boundary County library hasn't come to a library (or bookstore) near you yet, it may well be on its way.  What is happening in Idaho is happening elsewhere.  People are on edge.  People are fearful their liberties are being taken away.  Librarians are facing unceasing pressure, and it's only getting worse.  Communities are being divided.

It isn't just Idaho.  Here's another library, in Vinton, Iowa, facing pressure.

While I'm on the subject, it would also be a good time to mention that Banned Books Week isn't that far off - this year it will be September 18-24.  To quote from the ALA website:

"Books unite us. Books encourage boundless exploration and allow readers to spread their wings. Stories give flight to new ideas and perspectives. Reading—especially books that set us free—expands our worldview. Censorship, on the other hand, locks away our freedom and divides us from humanity in our own cages."

Our country is going to have to make a choice sooner rather than later. 

The alarms are ringing.  Will the American public respond?  Will they turn out and show their support and help libraries resist this pressure?

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Pennsylvania Butterflies #WordlessWednesday

The heatwave enveloping so much of the United States and Europe has finally found the Northeastern United States.  So I am taking it easy today.

These pictures were taken on a Northern Pennsylvania rail trail on a beautiful early summer afternoon.

I think this small butterfly in the first two pictures is a Pearl Crescent but if it isn't, I know my butterfly experts will give me the correct identification.  The second shot is practically identical to the first, but I did manage to get a little closer.

Now this, I'm more confident about.  Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

I don't have the patience to photograph butterflies.  I've been seeing several monarchs (I think) in recent days but none of them have allowed me to take their portrait.  One of them, in fact, was flying so fast, I marveled that such a little, delicate creature could fly that fast.  But I know I'll get a picture or two - eventually.


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Back When Time Was Endless Part 2

When we are young, our lives stretch out before us (unless we've already tasted mortality through illness or accident).  Time is endless.

When you are near 70 years old, the ticking of mortality gets louder each day.

Two deaths of people I knew in one week.

The first one was expected; in fact, he passed away the day I blogged about him.  His loved ones and colleagues had time to prepare.  That doesn't make it easier.  It just makes it different than the second one.

The second one was a shock to us who knew her.  She was someone working for my employer, well liked. My interactions with her were limited but she was always helpful.  Her promotions were well deserved.

She was 20 years younger than me.  

She worked a full day and then later that day, her life partner found her when he came home. She had moved on to wherever we go after death.  Without warning.  Without a chance to say goodbye.

She will be buried later today.

We all cope with death in different ways.  For many of us, it's another wake up call to the ticking clock of mortality.

It's also a reminder that we need to look around us and experience the beauty around us, because time is not endless.  So I turn to my flowers.

I'll also share a couple of photographs of my beloved flowers. Day lilies can be symbols of forgetting in some cultures - forgetting about pain and sorrow and trying to live in the moment.

As I blogged this in my back yard last night, a male Northern cardinal flies, landed and sat on a fence feet from me.  His bright red crest was held high; his black mask a beautiful contrast against his red body. He chirped at me and then left.

I know the symbolism of the cardinal.  Many consider them visitors from heaven, gifts from the deceased.

At this time, we don't know what took our co worker from us.  We just know there's another void in our lives.

But there is also hope, and renewal.

May the family, friends, and close co workers of these two people find peace in the coming days and weeks.

Please, look around you today, and see the beauty.

Monday, July 18, 2022

This Still Stands #MusicMovesMe

Guess what time it is?  It's time for music!

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!)   Our head hostess is Cathy from Curious as a Cathy,  and she is joined by the knowledgeable Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and (last but not least) me.

Our founder, Marie aka Xmas Dolly, has stepped back from blogging for now, and would appreciate your good thoughts as she works through some health issues. The latest word from Marie is that she hopes to return to occasional blogging sometime in the near future.  Let's hope so!

We'd love more music lovers to join our fun group.  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 or your post will be subject to removal or labeling "No Music").  So easy!

Each month, except December, we have a guest host. For July, we are welcoming Songbird from Songbird's Crazy World.  

Her theme for this week is" You Pick" so we have the freedom to choose our theme.   I don't quite know why I picked this theme but I am standing by it:  Songs with the word "Stand" in the title tend to be inspiring, or calls to action.  Here's a selection.

Let's start off with R.E.M.'s 1988 hit"Stand".

From 1983, Elton John and "I'm Still Standing".

1967's hit for the Four Tops:  "Standing in the Shadows of Love". 

1964 gave us one of many covers of Ben E. King's 1961 "Stand By Me", this time by Otis Redding.  See what you think.

"Stand" is a 1969 classic from Sly (Sylvester Stewart) and the Family Stone.

2019's "Stand Up" (from the movie Harriet, about former enslaved woman and freedom fighter Harriet Tubman) was co written and sung by Cynthia Erivo. Erivo's song may give you goosebumps. 

I've blogged about Harriet Tubman if you are interested in her amazing story.

Finally, "Stand Up" - Papa Roach is the most recent of my selections, coming from this year.  (Warning, an "f" word). It's so full of energy.

Are you ready to sit now? (No, next week I'm not doing songs about sitting.  Maybe another time?)

And that's a wrap! 

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

Sunday, July 17, 2022


Alexa, in the form of an Echo Dot, has been in my life since early December, 2016.  I bought the Dot on a Black Friday sale, as I recall.

This blog post reminded me of my complex relationship with this digital assistant.

My son keeps asking me to get rid of it.  "It's recording everything and invading your privacy", he says.  I don't doubt it.

But Alexa sure is handy, for these reasons:

1.  Every time I need to know how old a celebrity is, it comes right through.  Well, usually.

2.  It's good for my travel dreams, to bring me back to reality.  "Alexa, how far by car, is (where I live), New York to Oregon? To Texas?"  Too far, usually.

3.  It's a wonderful timer.  I have to soak a finger recovering from an infection three times a day and a toe with an ingrown toenail once a day.  Alexa helps.

4.  Fahrenheit to Celsius conversions (or feet to meters) when I blog about weather or other topics.  I have readers in countries that use one or the other.

5.  Hilarity (or frustration) when it mishears something.  Just yesterday, I was asking Alexa what spices go good with blueberries.  It kept responding with advice what WINES go good with blueberries.  Was I being given a hint?

A senior with an Alexa (face it, how many of us call it an Alexa?) could use an Alexa Silver.

Fortunately, though, Alexa can't read minds.


Give Amazon time.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Spiced Double Plus Good Blueberry Pie Recipe

We went blueberry picking where we live in the Southern Tier of New York for the second time on Wednesday.  The bushes are loaded more than we've ever seen in recent memory.

All that blue deliciousness.

I love a blueberry pie recipe provided by our U Pick farmer which I've also seen in various church cookbooks.  Every year we try to improve on it. This recipe makes the best blueberry pie I've ever had, and I blogged about it two years ago.  This year, spouse made some more changes, so here is my Spiced Double Plus Good Blueberry Pie.  I still made the pie; he added the spice himself.


1 refrigerated piecrust (because I'm lazy), baked in a 9 inch glass pie pan.  This year I wanted to make a low calorie graham cracker crust once again.  Why do I even try?


4 cups fresh blueberries (divide into 2 parts, 2 cups each) (apparently you can use frozen but I haven't done it myself, so I don't know if it will work with frozen.)

3/4 cup scant cup sugar.  These berries are so sweet.

3 tbsp cornstarch. 

A pinch of salt

1 tbsp lime juice (because that's what we have - the original calls for lemon juice)

1/4 cup cold water

1 tbsp butter (we used whipped butter).  You can try to use light butter-like spread but butter is definitely better.

Spices:  (optional)

A sprinkling of cinnamon and freshly grated (if you have it) nutmeg (my spouse added doesn't measure, just does it to taste)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Bake the pie crust according to package directions.

Combine sugar, cornstarch or potato starch, water, salt until well blended.  Add 2 cups blueberries. 

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.  A couple of minutes in, add the spices and vanilla.  Then, cook until the blueberry mixture thickens.  You need to pay careful attention.

Then, add the butter and lemon or lime juice.  Let cool.

When cooled, place the reserved 2 cups of blueberries into the pie crust.  Pour the mixture over it.

Yes, it's so simple even I can make it.

Enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, July 15, 2022

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day July 2022

Welcome to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day July 2022.

I'm a little late posting this.  So, let's get started.

We have avoided (for the most part) the terrible heat that has blanketed a lot of the United States, but we are now in a drought situation.  I don't think we've seen it this dry here in many years.  At least, so far, no water restrictions and the temperatures staying (for the most part) in the 80's F (about 29 C) has helped a lot.

My zone 5b Southern Tier of New York garden is bursting with flowers (too many to show you) so I am going to concentrate on my collection of day lilies.

Thursday, we went to a new (to us) day lily nursery in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania.  Of course, I had to buy some, as if I didn't have enough already.  We came home with three new varieties, all snug in their new homes.

This first one is unnamed.  It was hybridized by the nursery, Lambertson's Brookside, and it was love at first sight. They just never gave it a name.

This lovely lily is called Fashion Police.

And this, Citrus Kick.  I bought this one because it "frequently reblooms".  I only have one rebloomer, a yellow (I don't think it is Stella D'Oro, though - if it reblooms it's only once.) And that's it for day lily names.

We also bought a bee balm plant from this nursery.  Call me eternally optimistic as I have killed every bee balm plant I've ever purchased.  They are so easy to grow, killing one takes a special talent, and I have it.

I have a very bad habit of losing names of flowers, so the rest of these daylilies are unknown.  Their names may be somewhere on my blog, but I'm running late, so they will remain nameless.

A reddish lily I bought back in 2019 from Grace Gardes in Penn Yan, New York. The next two are also from Grace Gardens.

This lovely yellow has a hint of green in it.
I've mentioned before that I think this small double is called Bubbly.

I call this peach.

I usually get only two or three flowers from this one.  It has given me a bonanza of blooms this year.

Another from Grace Gardens.  If I was to name it, I would call it "Yikes, stripes!"

I have so many more and maybe I'll publish some more in the coming days.

Moving on to some non day lilies, both these colors are from plants that are a cross between petunias and million bells.  The flowers are the size of petunias and I absolutely adore bot colors.

This next flower was an experiment.  Last year I tried growing vining nasturtiums in a basket and failed.  This year, I succeeded.

Aren't they lovely?  The flowers are so big, but the leaves keep turning yellow.  Maybe I'm overwatering it?

From my community garden, orange zinnias.

The yellow and white petunias are Bees Knees.  This one will be a new favorite.

We bought this plant at a Cornell Cooperative sale.  The purple leaves sold us but I recommend you do not buy this plant because it is an aggressive grower. (Full disclosure, they did warn us, and they weren't kidding.) Now, if I could only remember the name.... 

Our blackberry lilies (purchased from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello as one plant and some seeds) started to bloom yesterday.  We have two blooms today.  The seed pods, when they open, look just like blackberries, hence the name.

Oh, I couldn't resist some more daylilies, so I'm sneaking in one more.

Once again, a big shoutout to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this meme. Why not visit some of the other bloggers who have linked to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on Carol's blog?

See you next time!