Friday, September 30, 2022

Canandaigua Lake Skies #SkywatchFriday

I am hoping that my Florida readers and friends are all safe after Hurricane Ian.  Ian was a reminder of the power of Nature, and how destructive it can be.  

Meanwhile, my area is under a frost advisory.

My post today isn't as exciting but I hope you enjoy it.

The last couple of times we have visited Canandaigua, New York (situated on one of New York's Finger Lakes). we haven't enjoyed sunsets along Canandaigua Lake   The weather hasn't been favorable.  But I sometimes forget that there are other reasons to take pictures of a lake.

Saturday, after attending the Naples, New York grape festival, we decided to recover from the massive crowds and chill back in Canandaigua.  We purchased a turkey sub sandwich (others call them hoagies, or heroes) at a deli we like, and took it to a bench to eat.

It had been a lovely day up to then, but clouds were rapidly encroaching.

I decided to take some pictures.
You could see the bottom of the lake (bottom of photo) and a couple of stand up paddleboarders.

The reflections were starting to get interesting.

We took a walk to a nearby marina.

There are some historic boathouses on the lake; I don't know if these were those boathouses but I liked the contrast between water and sky.

One more reflection shot.

Joining Yogi and other sky watching bloggers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Vacation Postcard

Several days ago, I received a postcard from a Facebook friend who was vacationing.  We exchanged holiday cards last year, so she has my address.

"Having tons of fun, my friend!" it said.  She had just visited a famous mountain in the Northeast United States, one I've never been to, although I live a lot closer to it than she does.

I got so much enjoyment out of that postcard!

I thought, when I was a teen and even a young adult, I used to send postcards when on vacation. A lot.  But when was the last time I did that?

Or, when was the last time I received a postcard?  

Thanks to blogging, I do remember the last time I got a postcard.  It was March 3, 2021. It came from Iceland, and I blogged about it here.

And the story behind it, here.

But the time before that?  And when was the last time I sent a postcard?

I do get postcards from time to time. There is the local store that sends me postcards now and again, thanking me for my business and offering me a discount on purchases made in the following month.  The same store I nearly (accidentally) shoplifted from once.

I appreciate their postcards. 

And, sometimes solicitations for Medicare plans come on postcards.  Postcards that I immediately toss (after shredding the part with my name and address).

But other than that?

I honestly don't know.  

Have postcards become one of the many lost arts of my childhood and early adulthood, along with letter writing?

Are you someone who still sends postcards?

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Blues Brothers #WordlessWednesday

These figures are brought out every September in downtown Binghamton, New York to celebrate the Blues on the Bridge festival.  They are normally located near the merchandise tent.

The Blues Brothers.

Just imagine if they showed up in person one year?

 Wouldn't it be awesome?


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Monica's Last Stand

I've blogged before about my love of grape pies, a regional specialty of a certain area of the Finger Lakes. In my opinion, the best pies were made by a woman named Monica. More on her later.

Grape pies are made from either Concord or, if Concords aren't available in your area, red grapes. I was introduced to this specialty around 2015 and have loved them since. Every baker makes them slightly different and the fun is in the tasting.

To truly experience grape pies, one has to attend the Naples (New York) grape festival, held the last weekend in September

Let me give you a virtual taste.

Naples is on the southwest side of Canandaigua Lake, one of the Finger Lakes.  Grapes grow on the Finger Lakes (and along Lake Erie) especially well.

Naples is all about grapes.  The fire hydrants are painted purple. There are commercial vineyards right on Main Street. There are a couple of wineries right along the main street, too.

Front door of Monica's Pies, early September 2022

As you can tell from the architecture, grapes.

Naples has a population of about 900.  Except for the Naples Grape Festival, when the population swells to 20,000 or maybe more.

I think they were all there on Saturday, when we got there.  This was a little later on, when things had thinned out some.

What can I say? It was a festival.  The sidewalks were so crowded you couldn't walk,  The traffic when we got there was, shall we say, jammed.   We expected crowds.  We didn't expect a crush.

Pie signs were everywhere. I understand, in a good year, around 30,000 grape pies are sold at the festival.   Cindy's is a favorite of many people but we hadn't tried her pies.  Cindy is Cindy Trzeciak, a home baker who made some pies around Christmastime, 1978, to make some extra money.  They sold so well, the rest is history.

Here is Cindy's menu.  Many vendors give the choice of frozen unbaked or baked, because you can't freeze a baked pie.  But we didn't have any way to keep a frozen pie frozen.  Cindy calls her take out window "the pie hole".

Another of the great bakers, Jeni Makepeace, recently retired.  I had one of her pies earlier in September - I think her daughter has taken over the business.  Anyway....back to the festival.

I waded my way to the judging tent on the grounds of the high school.  After buying a T-Shirt (purple, of course), I asked one of the judges how they run the judging.  (I was secretly hoping one of the judges was late, and they would choose me to take their place.)  Alas, no.  But the judge explained how they cut the pies into small pieces, put them into cups, and, well, eat them.  

Then the judge showed me the plaque with the names of past winners and invited me to enter next year.

Well, no.  Unless they had a subcategory of worst pie.  Also, grape pies are not easy to make because you have to skin the grapes.  Concords have tough skins.  And, oh yes, seeds.

We ended up buying a pie and cookies from her, and one from another vendor, Jeanne. 

But what about Monica, you ask?  Her name is Monica Schenk.

Monica used to sell her pies year round.  She started to bake them in 1983 as a young mother and eventually opened her own shop on Rt. 21.  We had last been at her shop (which had turned into a takeout window due to Covid) in 2021. At that time she hadn't yet announced she was retiring.

Monica's Pies closed at year's end "for the winter" and never reopened.  When we passed by her store earlier this month, there was a sign saying she had retired.

But it turns out (I found out on Facebook) she was going to be open one last time, for the festival.

And that's it.  It was going to be her last stand.

We drove past Monica's on our way to Naples (it's not within the village) and saw the lines of cars parked along the narrow highway and the lines of people in front of her small shop.

It's nice to be loved, in a way.  But then, people don't let you retire. 

Two lines!

We decided to come back on our way out and, hopefully she would still have pies.  She did.  The lines were much shorter, too.

People were buying (literally) hundreds of dollars of pies (she has, or should I say had, many flavors besides grape).  Maybe some were buying for their entire family?   We bought a pie.  One pie.  

Oh, Monica.  It will be the last one of your pies we eat.  RIP (rest in pie), Monica.

We drove home Sunday, with our precious cargo of three grape pies, which somehow we need to eat before they spoil

Don't tell my Weight Watchers coach, but I'm up to the task. Shhhhh!

If you want the recipe, I took the liberty of getting it from Monica's website, because I fear it will be taken down in the near future. 

Thank you for the several years of pie, Monica.  It was worth driving 120 miles to get one.

Recipe by Monica Kay Schenk
Grape Pie

        4 cups stemmed Concord grapes

        2/3 cup sugar

        3 tbsp. cornstarch

    1 tsp. lemon juice

Slip skins from grapes, saving some of the skins.  Cook middles until soft, put through a sieve to get seeds out. Put back with skins and add sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice.
Fill pie shell and cover.
Bake 400 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Do you like pie?

Monday, September 26, 2022

Musical Mix and Tributes #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday and you know what time it is:  time for Music Moves Me!

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Sunday or 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.

Why not join our music loving folks?  It's so 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 or your post will be subject to removal or labeling "No Music").That's all it takes!

Each month, except December, we have a guest host. For September, we once more welcome a new guest host:  John from "The Sound of One Hand Typing".  It's been a great month, John, thank you!

This week, John declares a "You Pick" week.  It's our choice.

First, a tribute shoutout to Jesse Powell, a R&B singer who passed away on September 13 from cardiac arrest at the age of 51.  He was not on my radar in life, but I recently heard what may have been his biggest hit, "You", from 1996.  I always feel a little regret when I don't hear about an artist I may have liked until after his or her death.

 I just heard of the death of Jerry "Jl" Allison on August 22 at the age of 82 (only a month plus late, sigh).  Allison was the drummer for Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and also co-wrote several of their hits, including "Peggy Sue".

We will be commemorating the fifth anniversary of the passing of Tom Petty on October 2.  I like so many of his songs, but I am choosing "Runnin' Down a Dream" for today.

Today, the Jewish community is celebrating Rosh Hashana.  Honey is an important part of that celebration, so I am including this Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song, with Dave Grohl on drums in this live performance.  "Honey Bee", from 1994.

A couple of other songs I heard on satellite radio recently.

"Mysterious Ways" from U2.

And finally, Nik Kershaw and "Wouldn't It Be Good" from 1984.  Enjoy the special effects in the video and also in the music.

And that's a sweet wrap! 

Join us again next week for another episode of Music Moves Me.  October will be a special month, not just one guest host but three (each contributing a theme for the week's post.)  So stay tuned and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Speckled Hound and Other Fall Delights

Let's face it, people like me who dread winter, fall is here, and it won't leave without inflicting some pain on us.  And we know full well, here in the Southern Tier of New York, what follows fall.

But on the other hand, there is much to enjoy.

The leaf turning season has begun early.

But we are on the produce shoulder season between summer and fall.  Let's visit Frog Pond Farms, in Bainbridge, New York, to see what's on the menu.

Fall beckons with a harvest of winter squash.  To the left, hubbard squash, an old fashioned variety with a super thick skin but is prized for being able to store well.  On the right, banana squash.
Summer still calls us with hot peppers.  I didn't take pictures, but there were lots of peaches (grown in Pennsylvania-our climate here doesn't support peach cultivation).

Garlic has been harvested and is being dried.
I always seem to find something new each year.  This year, it was a squash (technically, I think, a pumpkin) called Speckled Hound.
Yes, we bought one and tried it.  I am not a fan of pumpkin but I love certain winter squashes, especially butternuts.  To me, the flesh was a lot more butternutty (is that a word?) than pumpkiny (ditto).

More fall to come!

For those of my readers who are Jewish, Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown tonight. For those who celebrate, shana tova (in English, a good year). 

In some Jewish families, it's traditional to eat pumpkins on Rosh Hashanah and that speckled hound sounds like something you may want to try, if it's available where you live.  

Tomorrow is Music Moves Me and I hope you'll join up for some music!

Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Traditional Honey Cake

Tomorrow, at sundown, starts Rosh Hashanah for the Jewish people. a day that commemorates the creation of the world.

In many Jewish families, it is traditional to eat apples and honey.  For the past several years, I have made an apple honey cake from Tori Avery.

I make some modifications that work for me (as someone who has been following Weight Watchers for nearly 10 years) and these work for me:

White whole wheat flour rather than white flour

instead of 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 cup of raw sugar/stevia blend

half as much oil (although you might not want to do this).

The 2022 cake, baked ahead of time

Also, I don't put on the glaze, which I would leave off even if I wasn't on Weight Watchers.  Even as a child, I didn't like glaze.

Finally, my preference, I use local buckwheat honey, which is about the darkest honey that is sold locally.   I also use local apples instead of the Granny Smiths she calls for - this year, I chose Cortlands.

On Tori Avery's website there is also a discussion on making this cake gluten free.

However you do it, I highly recommend this cake. 

I can't wait to eat it!

Friday, September 23, 2022

Musical Skies #SkywatchFriday

You would never think these pictures were taken on the edge of a New York State downtown, would you?

Welcome to the City of Binghamton, New York and its annual Blues on the Bridge festival.  No music today; this is all about watching the sky.

This is the South Washington Street Bridge in Binghamton; it was built in 1886 and is closed to vehicular traffic due to its condition.  I walked across it many times when I worked in downtown Binghamton.  When the festival began 21 years ago, it was held on this bridge but outgrew it years ago.

The festival is non stop (well, nearly) music provided by local bands and is free.  This was actually its 20th year; it was cancelled in 2020 due to you-know-what.  Just a few feet from the celebrations and the music is a different world. One could call it a hidden world as it is hidden from you if you just come for the music.  Shall we go look?

Near here, two rivers join together: the Chenango and the Susquehanna.  On the right is a little bit of downtown Binghamton.

Overlooking Confluence Park where the rivers join.

Taken from the South Washington Street bridge.


More of downtown Binghamton.  The white building sticking up in the middle of the photo is the tallest building in Binghamton.  It's our State Office Building.

This is a dam on the Susquehanna just before the Chenango merges with it.
And another photo taken from the South Washington Street Bridge.

Joining Yogi and other skywatching bloggers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

The First Day of Fall 2022 #ThursdayTreeLove

It may be cheating just a little to use pictures taken mostly on September 21 to represent the first day of fall, which won't begin, where I live, until 9:03 PM tonight.  No matter; fall is definitely in the air. 

Our trees are already turning, here and there, because of our drought.  We've gotten rain in the last couple of weeks (including today!) but the trees have to prepare for their winter's sleep early, and couldn't wait until Nature made up its mind about the rain.

Here's a closeup of one of the trees. 

Goldenrod is more a late summer flower but it is hanging around to welcome in fall this year, possibly due to the drought.

To me, the flowers that ring in fall are our asters. There are so many types; I don't even hazard a guess as to which variety this one is.

New England Asters. (taken September 14, the day after I saw them for the first time this year).  Nature does create the best bouquets, doesn't she?

One last parting sign of fall - the winter squash harvest.

Let the fall season begin.

Joining with Parul at Happiness and Food for her #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Golden Hour Plants #WordlessWednesday

It's been a while since I took some golden hour photos.  For photographers, the golden hour is the magic hour before sunset and after sunrise, when the sun lies low on the horizon and the lighting is special.

Just how special?

Here's some coleus.



All golden hours are special, but the golden hour of fall, for some reason, is especially beautiful.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Banned Books Week 2022

For those of us who love to read, we know we live in dangerous times.  The forces of censorship seem to grow stronger every day.  In 2022, we live in a state of constant crisis, which is why I try to keep world events out of my blog.  I strive to bring some peace and beauty to my readers.  But it's hard.  

 In the United States, everything has become political.  We are all, it seems, in crisis mode, with "breaking news" appearing on our television screens multiple times a day.  We are even questioning some of our core values, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  

But censorship is a different thing.  This week is Banned Books Week, running from September 18-24.

There are increasing calls for books to be banned from various venues including:  Schools. Bookstores. Libraries.

Take, for example the continuing situation in Idaho at the Boundary County Library in Bonners Ferry.  Five years ago, it was awarded the title "Best Small Town Library in America".

Or, take  what happened earlier this year at the Vinton, Iowa public library. 

Banned Books Week has never been just about words on a page (or an ebook screen).  Those who want to exercise absolute mind control over populations know that.

The Banned Books Week's website says:

"By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country."

The Top 10 Challenged Books of 2021 are listed on the site.  Most of these books may not be familiar to you.

But I bet this list contains books that many of us are familiar with.

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Here's another way to look at it:  46 of the top 100 books of the 20th century have had efforts to ban them.  On the list below, the highlighted books are the ones people have tried to get banned. (Sorry, these are from pictures I took so are a little hard to read).


It can be scary to resist these forces that want to control our reading, but people have resisted. Some who feel that certain books don't belong in school or public libraries use the argument that people can always buy those books.  But, what if they don't have money?  Or, worse yet, if banning books from libraries becomes OK, isn't pressuring bookstores just around the corner?  Or, if publishers "voluntarily" pull certain books off the shelves?

Wait-it's already happened. 

Censorship, even "self-censorship"  Is. Just. Plain. Wrong.

 I ask myself, will I have the courage if censorship forces come to a library or bookstore near me?  do from time to time?  Will I be reading banned books in public on the lawn of my local library like some in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, have done?

But, if people don't resist, what will our future look like?

Monday, September 19, 2022

Musical Acrostic #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, and guess what it's time for?

Yes, it's time for music, brought to you by Music Moves Me.

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers? We are bloggers who blog about music each Sunday or 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.

Why not join our music loving folks?  It's so 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 or your post will be subject to removal or labeling "No Music").That's all it takes!

Each month, except December, we have a guest host. For September, we welcome a new guest host:  John from "The Sound of One Hand Typing".

This week, John picks "in honor of Better Breakfast Week, make a music acrostic that spells out 'Breakfast'".

Here's my selection.  You'll forgive me if only one of the songs, the first one, has anything to do with breakfast.   But maybe, some of these would be good listenings during breakfast.

B - Breakfast in America - Supertramp, from 1979.  We had this on vinyl.

R -Remember (Walking in the Sand) - The Shangri-Las, from 1964.  I've had this song on my blog before; it deserves many more listenings.

E- Everlong, from the Foo Fighters (1997)

A- Africa, from Toto.  This is such a beautiful song and it's wonderful to know Toto is still touring after all these years.

K - Keep on Dancing, from The Gentrys (1965).  I owned this song on a 45.

F -Feelin' Stronger Every Day - Chicago (1973).  My spouse had the original song on a vinyl album.

A- Albert Flasher, by the Guess Who (1972). I've never understood the lyrics, but I sure love the song. I had this song on a Greatest Hits vinyl album.  Hmmmm, am I beginning a theme here?  Not quite.

S - She's Not There - The Zombies (1965). Another song that I owned the 45 to.  This was the first American hit for the Zombies.

It's time for our last song, and I am choosing an instrumental from my childhood.

T- Telstar, a 1962 hit for The Tornadoes.  And no, I didn't own a 45 or an album.

That's a wrap for my Breakfast of Champions.

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

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Park, the Music Festival, and The In Crowd

Yesterday, Binghamton, New York's largest free music event, Blues on the Bridge, took place.  It was a 20th anniversary celebration a year late (as the festival was cancelled in 2020, along with so much else.)


Some things were the same.  This bridge is no longer used for the festival-the festival outgrew it.  This is the South Washington Street Bridge, built in 1886.  Here is some of its history. 

Musicians set up on a nearby bridge instead and that is where most of the crowds gather. 

But, unless you are familiar with downtown Binghamton, you may have missed some of the best sights.

If you go down a path on one side of the South Washington Bridge, it's an easy walk to a small park called Confluence Park.  Here, the Chenango River flows into the Susquehanna River, hence the name of the park.  For some reason, despite how much I wanted to listen to the music, it seemed so loud that I wanted some peace, so I went down there for a few minutes.

One could say you needed to be a member of "The In Crowd" to know about this little urban oasis.

There was a man with a young boy fishing, and I didn't want to disturb them, so I didn't walk down to the lowest part of the park.  But I got some pictures, nevertheless.

Memories came back to me, of the times I used to visit Confluence Park with my guest photographer.  The four photos after the Chenango River Promenade are hers, taken in 2018. 

The Chenango Promenade leads us on a path from the park to one edge of downtown Binghamton.  Let's take a short walk.

Some wildflowers from one of our 2018 walks, taken by her.  These would be in bloom now.

Mr. And Mrs. Duck (taken by her in March of 2018).  You'd never know you were in downtown Binghamton, New York.

Confluence Park sign.

Thanks go to my guest photographer for these last four photos.


I also got this photo, near the Chenango Promonade underpass, of a pollinator garden.  The bridge in this photo is where the festival takes place.

Speaking of the "in crowd", Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis passed away on Monday.  He was 87.

 This was his big crossover hit with his trio, the Ramsey Lewis Trio.  "The In Crowd", from 1965.

Another great one has joined the jam sessions in musical heaven.


Want more music? Join me tomorrow for another episode of Music Moves Me, and come hungry!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Seven Years

It's been seven years.  Seven years ago today, your journey on Earth ended. 

I had visited you, with my spouse, four days before. 

Life has gone on since.  One of your granddaughters married in the past year.  Another one is having her engagement party tomorrow.

I hope you don't know what has been going on here in the United States.  It would distress you so, I know.  Your parents were Holocaust survivors and good people.  You spent part of your life as an elementary school teacher.  You loved children so.

Today, I went to a local music festival.  I think you would have enjoyed it.

This was the 20th annual (in 21 years - one year cancelled due to COVID) Blues on the Bridge, a free concert event featuring local bands from the Binghamton, New York area.  Ironically, it was you (and your mother) who brought me to Binghamton for a short visit, back in 1972.

I never suspected I would spend much of my adult life here.  Life takes people in strange directions.

Let's pay a short visit to the festival (more tomorrow). 

Since I used to work a few blocks from here, I knew there was a flower garden a few hundred steps away. 

Ah, there it is!  You would have loved this pollinator garden.

The first group scheduled to perform did a cover of the iconic "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield.  They felt it was important that the festival goers hear the song.  Written by Steven Stills, the song did not begin as a protest song, but it's thought to be just that by many today.

I think the song is timeless. In the years since, it has been covered by so many artists. Some of the lyrics apply just as easily applies to our times today.

So, today, friend, I am thinking of you just as I do every September 17.  One day, the cancer that took you from us will be conquered.  But can we conquer ourselves, our drive to hate the "other", some of our impulses?

For What It's Worth.


Friday, September 16, 2022

Movie Mystery Skies #SkywatchFriday

The gloomy skies of fall were a little early this year, but I didn't mind.  When I took these pictures last week, we were getting some rain, so welcome in a drought.

Today, I'm mixing some movie history in with pictures of skies. 

These pictures were taken last week in Seneca Falls, New York, which many believe was the setting for the iconic Christmas classic movie from 1946, It's a Wonderful Life.  Starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore it tells the story of George Bailey, native son of Bedford Falls.  

Seneca Falls also had a major role in the history of women's suffrage, the 19th century battle to win women the right to vote.

The movie tells a story of sacrifice after sacrifice by George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart).  Finally, despondent, he decides to jump off a bridge so that his family could collect on his life insurance policy. It's the same bridge where, as a 12 year old, he jumped into icy water to save the life of his brother, and lost part of his hearing as a result. 

Is it coincidence that Seneca Falls has a bridge over the Seneca River, on this gloomy day?  But wait, as some like to say, there's more.

There's a break in the gloom as we walk onto the Bridge Street bridge.  

It's an old steel bridge, quite rusted in spots.  Nearby streets bear names connected to the movie.

Reflections of the sky on the water of the Seneca River.  See those bells?  They are connected with the movie, and people leave them on the bridge as tokens.

Some believe this true story of Antonio Varacalli jumping off this bridge to save the life of another was woven into the plot of It's a Wonderful Life.  In other words, Seneca Falls is the real life Bedford Falls.

We'll never know for sure.  It does make for an interesting story.  What I do know is that this bridge is part of a movie mystery, and also has a place in the great history of our country.

Joining Yogi and other skywatchers for #SkywatchFriday.