Friday, June 30, 2023

Back to the Smoke #SkywatchFriday

The last day of June.  The year is half over.

Thankfully, our air is not as bad as it was three weeks ago when our skies were yellow, but the air was at unhealthy levels for everyone in New York State as of yesterday (when I took these pictures).  Right now it's 142 (unhealthy for everyone).

This is not the post I wanted to write.  Maybe next week I can take you on a small trip we took a couple of weeks ago.  For today, we are staying local.

Southern Tier of New York State, heading west.

You can barely see clouds, but it isn't near as bad as some other parts of the United States right now.  For that I'm grateful.

Let's try some reflection photos.  Do the reflections look a bit hazy?  I think they do.


Along the Susquehanna River.

Contrast with the sky on Tuesday.

Joining up with Yogi and other sky watching bloggers for #SkywatchFriday this last day of June.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

It's Getting Shorter All The Time

No, I'm not talking about my height although (thank you for asking) now that I'm in my seventh decade, I am shrinking a little.  

No, I'm talking about the seasons and daylight.

Did you know that winter started last week here in the Southern Tier of New York?

No, we didn't get a freak snowstorm.  No, we didn't get an unusual June freeze.  Instead, something happened that happens every year.

The days strted getting shorter here in the Northern Hemisphere.  By that, I mean the length of daylight shortened.

It's a sneaky process.  There you are in June.  There is daylight for hours after dinnertime.  When I was a child, it would seem like summer would never end.  I would be chased outside to play.  And we did, while our mothers gathered on benches in the housing project I grew up in to talk and gossip.  No supervision.

But I'm an adult now.  Yes, and a senior citizen, too.

I hate those short winter days (and am grateful I don't live in Alaska) when the sun sets at 4:31 pm.  Now, the sun sets around 8:50 pm.    But, watch carefully.

We are losing minutes to the dark.  Soon, it will be hours.

Soon, the street lights will snap on before dinnertime.

I love having my flowers. In three or so months, it will be like a dream that I ever had flowers.

Like my first day lily, which opened on Monday.


My second, which opened on Tuesday.

In December, I'll open my phone's Photos app and look at the photos, and wonder where the time went.  And I'll wonder if it will ever get warm again, as the snowflakes fly.

In the meantime, the days are shrinking.  The days are getting shorter every day.

Like sands through the hourglass....

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Voodoo Lily #WordlessWednesday

At Binghamton, New York's Cutler Botanic Gardens, the voodoo lily was in bloom Saturday.

I was fortunate enough to see it, although I didn't want to get too close (I'll explain why later).

Here are a couple of pictures.   Unfortunately, I managed to cut part of the explanatory sign off in my photos.

This is said to be the largest flower of the plant kingdom.  I've actually seen one once before - indoors.

I dared to come a little closer.  

The sign, incidentally, says "Dracunculus Vulgaris Voodoo Lily Smell my Flowers If You Dare"

I wasn't going to dare.  Some people call it the Corpse Flower, for good reason.


Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

A Tuesday Wildflower Bouquet

Just for you, my readers, a late June bouquet of wildflowers.  These pictures were taken June 24.

Elderberry.  This is a wild edible (although I don't have land with elderberry bushes on it any more) - here are some of my memories of when I did. 

Harvesting and processing elderberries is a lot of work.  Both the flowers and tiny berries are edible.

I am thinking this is silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) and not a viburnum. Whatever it is, it's been blooming for a week or more and there is a lot of it along the Vestal Rail Trail, where I took these pictures.  The berries of the silky dogwood are a favorite of birds.

Forget Me Not.   I won't.  They are said to represent royalty and true love/devotion.

Penstemon and some daisies.

Wild Rose.  The trail is full of invasive white roses that have finished blooming.  This is the only pink rose I am aware of on the trail.

Finally, there's this pink flower.  It may be familiar to a lot of you.

When I first started reading seed and plant catalogs in the late 1970's after we had purchased our first house, crownvetch was heavily advertised for erosion control.  Perhaps it did its job too well - it is considered a highly invasive plant now.  It spreads rapidly and chokes out desirable natives.  However, it is also eaten by white tailed deer (who are immune to its poison -yes, it is poisonous) and provides groundcover for rabbits and ground nesting birds.

Thank you for coming on my wildflower walk with me.

Monday, June 26, 2023

The Beatles Now and Forever #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, and it's time for music once again.

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 host is Xmas Dolly, and our co-hosts are Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, joined by the knowledgeable Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and Yours Truly.

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.  No music video? Your post may be removed, or may be labeled *NO MUSIC*.    

Today we say "farewell and thanks for your June conducting" to our guest conductor - "csuhpat1" from Adventures in Weseland.  We also say "howdy" to the several new music bloggers who have joined our group over the past month or so.  Welcome!

Today, our guest conductor chooses as our theme: "Yesterday was Global Beatles Day. Let's share songs about the Beatles, by the Beatles, and/or the members of the band."

There are so many good songs to choose from. 

The Beatles

When Beatlemania hit, I was in elementary school.  This song wasn't as popular (at first) in the United States as it was in Great Britain, where it was released in August of 1963.  No matter, we Americans caught up quickly enough. Here's an article on this iconic Beatles song.

The Beatles and "She Loves You."

"Yesterday", which I consider one of the best Beatles songs.  I was in middle school (then called junior high) by then.

 "Eleanor Rigby".

On some survey, years ago, this was considered the number one rock song of all time.  "A Day in the Life" from 1967 definitely deserves to be towards the top of any greatest rock list.   I listened to Sgt Pepper with a friend for the very first time after it came out, and we were both (as it was said back then) blown away.

Cover of Beatle Songs

There were also songs that I liked better as covers by other artists.  One of those songs was "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" covered by Elton John in 1975.  No disrespect meant, Beatles.

After the Beatles broke up in 1970, they pursued separate careers.

Paul McCartney

At one point in time, we got out (once a week, for a Friday movie night) every (as of that time) James Bond movie DVDs out of the library and watched them with my then pre teen son. 

In honor of that enjoyable time, here's Paul McCartney and Wings with the 1973 theme song to "Live and Let Die".  Here is more information on the song.

George Harrison

"Isn't It a Pity."  I chose this remaster because of the video.

John Lennon 

"Instant Karma" because we all shine on.  And finally...

Ringo Starr

1971's "It Don't Come Easy", because it doesn't.

And that's a wrap!  Join me again next Monday for another episode of Music Moves Me.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Car Show Shadows #ShadowshotSunday

From a May 19 classic (mainly) car show.

Me taking a picture of a classic Ford Galaxie.

If you look closely, you will see reflections of clouds and my spouse and I.

A shadow and reflection.

Joining Magical Mystical Teacher for #ShadowshotSunday.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Schav For a Hot Summer Day - Simple Recipe

Produce is coming in quickly in my area of the Southern Tier of New York, and it's wonderful to be able to pick from these colorful veggies.

This morning, we saw sorrel in the market and I asked my spouse to make a childhood favorite of mine - schav.

Schav is popular among Eastern European Jews, Ukranians, and Russians.  Its ingredients can vary.  The schav of my New York City childhood came in a jar and its main ingredients were sorrel leaves and egg yolks (and, of course, water).

Sorrel is a green with a tart, lemony flavor.

In the picture above, sorrel is the green third from the left. 

I've seen modern jarred schav made with spinach, but I want only sorrel.  We've tried to grow it without success.  Japanese beetles, which should be appearing any day now, love it.

The variations on schav include adding hard boiled egg yolks, lemon juice, chicken broth,  and even potatoes.  Our variation is quite simple:  sorrel, whole eggs, and water.

Wash the sorrel, cut off the stems, and chop the sorrel.  Add three cups of water to one bunch of sorrel. Simmer until tender and then cool for a few minutes.

 Beat the two eggs but don't add just yet, because you don't want to make scrambled egg soup.

What you need to do is temper the eggs.  Add, very slowly, a small amount of the sorrel/water to the eggs, stirring constantly.  I can't emphasize "very slowly" enough.

Here,most of the sorrel and liquid have been added to the egg.

Now it's time to add the egg/sorrel mixture back to the rest of the sorrel/water mix.  Stir.

Cool in the refrigerator.

This soup is served cold, with a dollop (for me, it's more than a dollop of either sour cream or fat free Greek yogurt.

I may try one of the variations (some people even put chopped scallion/green onion into the soup) one of the variations.  But for today, this will refresh me.

Do you eat cold soups?

Friday, June 23, 2023

Corvette Reflections #SkywatchFriday

These are from a car show on May 19.  There was also supposed to be one last Friday, but the turnout was poor due to the weather, and we didn't stay long.  So let's stick with the May 19 show.

 What a find - a sky blue Corvette with cloud reflections.

It's not so much about the skies today, but the reflections on the cars, all shined up to show their beauty, that I am going to concentrate on.  As it happens, my spouse knew the owner of this Corvette.  As they chatted, I photographed.

Here are some other Corvette (and other car) reflections.

This was my favorite reflection.
The car isn't bad, either.

Not only clouds, but power lines.

Here's a beautiful old Mercury.  We talked with the young couple that owned this for a while.


A Pontiac Trans Am.

The clouds as we got ready to leave. 

Joining Yogi and other skywatchers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

The Beauty of the Linden #ThursdayTreeLove

It's linden time.  

The linden trees are blooming where I live in the Southern Tier of New York, in the Northeast United States.

I try to blog about them every year because they are beautiful and have such a delicious scent for their small flowers.  But these pictures are new, taken yesterday.

When full grown, the linden is a majestic tree.   It is hardy in USDA zones three through eight.

This street in Binghamton, New York is lined with them.

Some call it the basswood tree.  Some in Europe call it the lime tree (not our lime citrus tree, whose name is derived from Arabic). Not only is it a beautiful shade tree, and able to survive urban conditions, but it is a multi use tree.

The wood is excellent for hand carving.

The inside of the bark was used by native Americans for making cords and ropes.

Its sap was used by the Native Americans the Europeans called Chippewa or Ojibwa in a way similar to maple syrup.


If you've ever had basswood honey,this is the tree bees make that from.

These trees can live up to 200 years.   I wouldn't be surprised if the trees on this street are over 50 years old as it is in an older neighborhood.

Joining Parul of Happiness and Food today for her #ThursdayTreeLove this fourth Thursday of June.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Chipmunk Pole Dancer #WordlessWednesday

Today is the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.  Time is speeding along, and it's time to think about - chipmunks.

The eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) is a pest.  A cute pest, I'll admit.  But a pest, one that can be quite destructive for their small size.

Fearless, too.  I've had them go right up to my feet (I don't know what I would do if one touched me, though - scream?)

When our two backyard chipmunks aren't busy digging in my flowerpots or trying to get at our bird feeders, they sometimes put on a show.

Here, a chipmunk tries to get into a fuchsia basket my son gave me for Mother's Day.
 I wish they weren't so destructive, though.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The Baby Years of My Writing Journey

I promised you some reruns from time to time. This is part of a blog post (with updates) I wrote in 2012.  At the time, I was participating in a blog challenge, something I no longer do (except for the annual April Blogging from A to Z Challenge.)

The prompt was:  Describe your earliest memory of writing.  How did your writing habit/process/career develop?

My very earliest memory?  How about second grade?  No, I won't count the many hours I spent with plastic molded toy soldiers (World War II, Civil War, Cowboys and Indians), making up "movies" for them.  I never wrote the plots down.  I also remember making "comic" strips that passed through a paper TV screen. I also won't count the many hours I spent daydreaming that I worked at the Daily Planet alongside my heroine, Lois Lane.  I never did get into journalism.

No, I think it was when I was 10 or 11.  I loved superhero comics (Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and a host of other).  I decided to make up my own superhero comics.  The hero I created was "Cold Man",  He could freeze anything to near absolute zero.  I couldn't draw worth a whit, so I enlisted the help of a friend with artistic talent. She, in turn, suggested my next venture and my first actual manuscript:  The Birdmen of Zuma.  The Birdmen of Zuma were half man, half canary, and lived hidden away in the Canary Islands.  An American pilot crash landed near their city.

It went downhill from there.  Many adventures, just coincidentally, resembled similar adventures of  my beloved John Carter of Barsoom (an Edgar Rice Burroughs series - he did a lot more than Tarzan.)  But it was a start.

My serious writing started (after I stopped writing all together in my early 20's) in April of 2009.  I was in my late 50's.  I started a blog inspired by an "eyewitness" (sort of) email I wrote the day of a mass murder in Binghamton, New York.

My writing habit developed by participating first in the 2011 WordCount Blogathon (31 daily posts, no skipping a day permitted), a blogging challenge no longer held, and then several rounds of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  The latter challenge is still held and I highly recommend it.

I have the habit of daily writing, thanks to over 10 years of daily blogging. 

I don't use a traditional writing process in the sense that I have never taken a writing course.  I do "prewrite" but not formally.  No one taught me these steps. 

I developed a rhythm on my own in my first months of blogging.  I've refined it over the years.   I draft, revise, proofread (not perfectly, especially recently) and publish, usually taking 30-45 minutes with each post.  I research during the drafting phase.  I used to write in the early evening but that was more because of habits that evolved when I worked full time at a Monday to Friday work schedule. (I still work part time at my old job although I am, technically, retired). 

Some of my posts seem to spring, fully formed, from my mind.  Most don't.

I still don't have a writing career, unless you care to call me a career blogger (2009-present).

What about you?

Monday, June 19, 2023

Super Music #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, and it's time for music!

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 host is Xmas Dolly, and our co-hosts are Cathy from Curious as a Cathy, joined by the knowledgeable Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and Yours Truly.

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.  No music video? Your post may be removed, or may be labeled *NO MUSIC*.    

Today and for the rest of June, our guest conductor is none other than "csuhpat1" from Adventures in Weseland.

Today, our guest conductor chooses as our theme:  Your Choice.

Let's enjoy some super music today.  I heard the first song the other day.  I hadn't heard this song in so long, and it got me to thinking about some other songs.  Let's see where my stream of consciousness music thoughts lead us today.

First up is 1986's Superman - REM.  

Superman meant a lot to me growing up.  I loved all the comics he appeared in, be it Superman, Superboy, Action Comics, and even the Justice League of America.  I loved them all.  I even imagined myself working for the Daily Planet alongside Lois Lane and Clark Kent (Superman's secret identity).

But then I grew up and no, I don't work for the Daily Planet (or any paper).

I wasn't that crazy, for some reason, for the Superman movies, but I enjoyed John Williams' Superman March.

But back to the first song sung by REM.  I was surprised to find this is a cover of a 1969 song by The Clique. 

So why not have a mini Battle of the Bands and play The Clique's original?  After listening to both, I decided I liked both of them.

Moving along, next, from 1966, is Sunshine Superman - Donovan 

From the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome - Tina Turner sings We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome).

From 1977, Heroes - David Bowie.

My final selection circles back (in a way) to Superman, with Kryptonite - 3 Doors Down, from 2000.

And that's a wrap!

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

Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Father's Day of Memories

Today and tomorrow are packed with meaning to me.

Tomorrow is Juneteenth - if you want to learn more, please check out my Juneteenth post.

Tomorrow also would have been the birthday of my best friend from childhood, who died in 2015.   

My father died when I was in my 30's, almost 40 years ago, and I think about him each Father's Day.

So I am going to repeat a post from Father's Day 2015 and combine it with another Father's Day I sometimes post.  It's long but I hope you'll read all of it.

Let me first take you back to July of 1914.  The world is on the brink of World War I, going through a series of crises, but no one knows how close to war the world is yet.  My father is also too young to know.  He certainly doesn't know that the life expectancy for a male born in 1914 is only 52 years.  Or that the leading causes of death in 1914 included tuberculosis, influenza, and diarrhea.  Or that his one daughter would use something called the "Internet" one day to blog, and to pay tribute to him.

He would have no idea what a blog was.  Or a cell phone.  Or a computer.  They were way in the future, the future he was fated never to know.

When he was a young child, he would have been too young to know that he would live through a pandemic that took some 675,000. American lives, and more than 50 million lives world wide.

My father was born and grew up in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood called Brownsville.  My grandfather owned a candy store, which he ran with the help of his wife (my grandmother) and their six children (including him).  A seventh child died weeks after birth.

In the 1930's, my father's mother died, from complications of high blood pressure, an illness so easily treated today.  My father ended up quitting high school after two years.

Dad doesn't have too much of an Internet presence, but there are a couple of things I can find.  Several years ago, I looked at his record in the 1940 census, when he was still living at home with his father and several siblings. 

I then looked up my father's World War Two enlistment record and found it.   What I know of his enlistment is that he was already considered disabled (a childhood illness destroyed his hearing in one ear) and had tried to enlist without success.  But, by 1942, we needed anyone who could serve.

His military experience shaped my father's life.  For the first time, he was out of Brooklyn. He saw the South (stationed in Arkansas and Mississippi).  He was also stationed for a time in India.  He would sometimes tell me bedtime stories about his time in India.

My father didn't make it to the end of the war.  He suffered a head injury and was flown back to the States.  He was given an honorable discharge but suffered the aftereffects of that injury for the rest of his life.  After the war he worked for several years on Governor's Island, part of New York City, where his World War II enlistment took place.

When I was 12, my mother died, and my father raised me to adulthood as a single father in their Bronx apartment in a city housing project.

When his last sister died, in the first decade of the 21st century, the funeral procession didn't go directly to the cemetery.  It wound through Brooklyn, going through some neighborhoods before it got on the highway. I wondered where we were going and why.  It didn't occur to me at the time that we were going near to where where my aunt, my father, and their siblings, had grown up.  It was one final tribute.  My father had died almost twenty years before.  I found out about why the path to the cemetery after the funeral.

I owe a lot to my father and the simple, everyday lessons he taught me.  He did what he could the best he knew how. He ended his life in Brooklyn, in the same facility where his own father spent his last days.

My love of history, a love I share with my late father, got me to thinking how much our world has changed in the many years since my father was born.

But also, how much the world has stayed the same.

We are coming out of our own pandemic now.

All of Dad's brothers and sisters are gone now, but their children remain.  I saw my New York City area family for the first time since the pandemic now a couple of weeks ago at a wedding.  There was a lot of celebration, a lot of dancing.
A lot of memories.
Happy Father's Day, Dad, wherever you are.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Father Northern Cardinal

 In honor of Father's Day,which will be celebrated tomorrow in the United States, I wanted to give you a small peek into the life of a father Northern Cardinal.

Male birds vary greatly in their participation in brooding and raising their young.  For some species (such as our ruby-throated hummingbirds) the male, once mating, is done.  The female builds the nest, incubates the eggs, and raises the young without help.

The male Northern Cardinal, though, is a devoted partner.  The male brings his mate nesting materials, which the female examines for suitability and builds the nest.  While the female sits on eggs, the male brings food.  And after the babies leave the nest, the father bird isn't done with his fatherly duties yet.

It's hard to see, but at the bottom right of center, the red is the male cardinal on one of our feeders (hidden by a paw paw leaf).  On the fence, one on the extreme left, the other sitting on a fence post on the right, are its two children.   We think we've seen a third juvenile once or twice.

Again, hard to see (sorry) if you look at the big leaf looking down from the top of the photo, you will see the father cardinal (red) preparing to feed one of its children while the other (still on the fence, left) looks on and waits its turn.

The mother is probably back at the nest preparing for, or nesting, another brood.

We watched the male make several trips to the feeder and back, as the juveniles shook (a normal behavior for them) waiting for their food.  Just think, men reading this post, of having to do this all day long.  And, the male may need to keep this up for one or two months, before the young are totally on their own.

We are so fortunate to have these birds raising young near us.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Just An Ordinary Sky #SkywatchFriday

Where I live in the Southern Tier of New York, the smoky air from the various wildfires in Canada and some area of the United States has cleared out.  Better yet, rain was predicted for Wednesday.

A couple of sky pictures from Tuesday (June 13).

I had never appreciated puffy clouds and blue skies so much.

Wednesday, it rained in the morning and then things cleared for a while.  We went to the park for a walk.

But then the clouds started to get the look of rain again.

Were we about to get even more rain?


Hurray for rain! Not long after I took this picture, we left the park, and a few minutes later, the skies opened.

I hope it helps with the fires.  My heart goes out to those currently affected.  We may be getting it back next week, too, alas.

Joining Yogi and other skywatchers for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2023

Welcome to my zone 5b flower gardens.

Things are a little wet here in the Southern Tier New York - yesterday we got some badly needed rain.  Better yet, the haze of the terrible wildfires has cleared out - for now.  

My June gardens are full of flowers, so let's get started.

The first few photos were taken a couple of days ago, as I wanted to get these before they got wet.

With all the modern petunia varieties, they've become one of my favorite flowers.

Purple ones are my favorite.
Especially this shade, here as a double flower.

Then, there are Calibrachoa (right side) with petunias.

Purple, yellow, pink.

Petunias and bacopa.
Ivy geraniums.

This geranium we've kept alive the past two winters - it is a variegated variety and has orange flowers, but they appear red in every photo I've ever taken of this. 

White marigold.  Something started to eat on this but it is recovering.  I can remember years ago when Burpee held a contest with a prize to the first person who developed a white marigold.

Speaking of white, lobelia, from the same nursery where I bought the next flower.

Yellow scaviola.  I've grown the white variety in hanging baskets but I saw this specimen in a nursery getting ready to close for the season, and I couldn't resist.  Too big for a hanging basket, it has its own planter.

Culinary thyme.

An heirloom allium.  I forgot its name.

Fuchsia.   I have several types.  Unfortunately, the hanging basket my son gave me for Mother's Day has stopped blooming in the past several days, but here is a picture from before it went on strike.  I don't know why it stopped.  I wanted to show it off.


Another of my fuchsias.

Cuphea, beloved of my yard's ruby-throated hummingbird (the only kind that lives in our part of the United States).  This year we are also growing a white cuphea, the first time I've ever seen it in this color.

Last but not least, a wild rose that sprang up near our lilacs (in the shade) several years ago.  A woman I know who is very knowledgeable of plants thinks it may be a rose called Ballerina that has gone wild.

Thanks go, once again, to Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who hosts this every-15th-of-the-month meme.