Sunday, December 31, 2023

Shadow on the Journeys #ShadowshotSunday

For the final Shadowshot Sunday, here are some shadows from some of the trips my spouse and I took during 2023.

February, 2023, Greenville, South Carolina, balcony shadows.

June 2023, Coe Hill Historic House Museum at Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, Oyster Bay, New York.   One day, I'll post some of the pictures I took of the spectacular gardens.

One of the educational posters on the Mayflower II in Plymouth Harbor, Plymouth, Massachusetts, July 2023.  "Life Before the Journey" is one of many educational signs that tell the story of the Pilgrims and their Atlantic Ocean crossing on the original ship Mayflower to what is now the town of Plymouth in 1620.  

The story of the Original Mayflower and the people on that vessel is a lot more complicated than the simplified (and somewhat inaccurate) story I was taught in school back in the 1950's.  It is also the story of Native Americans impacted by the arrival of Europeans some 70 years before the Pilgrims arrived

The Mayflower II was built in 1957 made the same crossing and was renovated several years ago.   I encourage you to visit if you are ever in this part of Massachusetts.

September, 2023.  The desk of Union general and later President Ulysses S. Grant, Moreau, New York.  Grant spent his final days here writing his memoir before his death from throat cancer in 1885.

September 2023, North Bennington, Vermont street art.

Last but not least, a room at the Lorenzo mansion at Lorenzo State Historic Site in Cazenovia, New York.  Colonel John Lincklaen, founder of the village of Cazenovia, built this mansion.  Unlike many other historic mansions, all the furnishings of this mansion are original to the family.  Interestingly, no one knows why it was called Lorenzo.  No one of that name was ever associated with the house, as far as we know.  The admission was well worth every penny.

Today, New Years Eve, let me again wish all my readers a Happy New Year. 

Joining with Magical Mystical Teacher for the final #ShadowshotSunday.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Oh The Memories We Have

I suppose I should be doing a year end review of my life and blog today, New Year's Eve Eve.  But I'm not quite ready to.

Do a review, that is.

It was hard picking a topic.  After all, my Sirius XM subscription has expired - about the fifth time this week. Ditto my McAfee anti virus.  Fed Ex is still trying to find me to deliver a package.  I've won so many things from so many famous retailers and I'll have to get around to checking those emails out (NOT!)  And, some well known streaming service wants me to subscribe for only $2 a year (plus a package of ransomware and viruses, most probably.)

One of my favorite bloggers announced that her post yesterday would be her last one.  I'll miss her.

Wisteria window, Roberson Mansion, Binghamton New York

One can tire of today's world and think about years past.  I love visiting historic buildings and mansions.  But I wouldn't have been one of those living in those mansions, unless I (perhaps) was a servant.

Still, once you've reached the magic decade that begins with a seven, you have a lot of stored up memories.

Today, I caught myself thinking "let's go to the brewery that is where Pat Mitchells Ice Cream used to be."  Pat Mitchell died in 2002.

It's so comfortable being nostalgic, especially as another year draws to a close. I had a conversation with a cousin earlier this month.  My son and her daughter are four months apart in age.  When they were little, my cousin, her husband and their daughter came up a couple of times on the day before New Years Eve (what I call New Years Eve Eve) for a New Year's Eve event called First Night.

For the price of a button, families in the Binghamton, New York area could have a lot of non-alcoholic fun, and we did.  Have fun, that is, despite the weather.  I remember one of the times they came up here it was close to 0F (-18C).  But we were younger then, and a lot more tolerant of the cold.

If I remember correctly, the First Night national organization actually was headquartered in Binghamton for a couple of years. But I believe our last First Night was held in 2010-I know we lost some major funding.  First Night is alive and well, just not in Binghamton, New York.

My cousin was so disappointed to hear that.

I miss First Night, too.  

The closest we have is an annual New Years Eve family friendly celebration called First Knight, in a small village in our county - Windsor, New York, population about 880. It's a big community effort.  Someone I know who lives in Windsor does some volunteer work for them and it would be great if we went and checked it out.  But now that we are in that magic decade beginning with seven, we'd rather just sit home and watch a movie.

Growing older does that to you.

Clock, Roberson Mansion, Binghamton, New York

Time waits for no one at all.  

Clock, Lorenzo State Historical Site, Cazenovia, New York

Time marches on.

Tomorrow, I will take a quick look back at 2023 and some of the travel spouse and I did.  Nothing major - no cruises, no flying, no international travel.  But, oh, the places we went.  Each was interesting in its own way.

Come to think of it, in some ways, 2023 was a very good year.

I wish the same for you all, dear readers, in 2024.

Friday, December 29, 2023

A Rare Blue Sky #SkywatchFriday

Its the last Skywatch Friday post of 2023.

I could have rerun some of the best sky pictures of 2023.  I could have dug out a great sunset or two (in fact, I still owe you photos of the November 9 sunset I started to show you several weeks ago).  But I did none of that.

It's been such a strange December.  Not only don't we have snow on the ground, but yesterday, where I live in the Southern Tier of New York, our high temperature was 52F (11.1 C) and our low was 47 (8.33 C) which also resulted in mist and drizzle. Our high was 20 degrees above average and our low was 27 degrees above average.

So I am going to end the year with pictures from December 20-23 because this wasn't our usual skies.

A local park, still flooded from heavy rains a couple of days before.  No picnic today.  No walking unless you were a Canada goose.

 Stoically, the trees sleep on.  Are they aware that they are sitting in icy water?

It did make for some interesting lighting, though.

December 22.
At this time of year, we are starved for blue skies.
But, by December 23, the clouds have returned.  Here, ice and water and reflections of the cloudy sky.  Welcome back to reality.
Earlier that day we had heard caroling in one of Binghamton, New York's historic buildings.

Now, today, we count the days and hours before a new year.

Wishing each of my readers a Happy New Year and many beautiful skies for 2024.

Joining Yogi and other skywatchers each Friday for #SkywatchFriday.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Trees Decorated and a New Zone #ThursdayTreeLove

In past years, I might have shown you pictures of snow covered trees.  This year, those pictures have been scarce.

Our climate is changing.  I remember back to when my son (now in his 30's) was a toddler and he would play in snow tunnels dug under the two or three feet of snow accumulated by now.  Now, we have rain.  And some temperatures close to record highs for late December. 

In November, our area was reclassed by the USDA from gardening zone 5b (minimum temperatures -15F to -10F, or -26.6 C to - 21.6 C) to 6a (minimum temperatures -10F to -5F or -23.3 C to - 20.6C)-.  Many parts of the country were similarly reclassed, with increases in minimum temperature of 3F (us) to 5F (Tampa, Florida, where I lived years ago).

A new gardening zone for a new year.

Maybe now I can try to grow camillas again.

But back to the trees.

Week before this we had flooding in low lying areas, and then the temperatures dropped below freezing.

This picture was taken in Otsiningo Park on December 20.

But there is one constant for December besides below freezing temperatures - decorated trees for the Christmas holiday.

These were taken at an annual event called Home for the Holidays that same day.

If you want to see a former mansion with decorated trees, you've come to the right place.  I didn't look to see if these were real trees - I doubt it, but if they aren't it's good, in a way, to know that living trees weren't sacrificed for a few days of beauty.  Of course, a lot of wood was used in the building of this mansion, as you can see.

Trees give us so much.

The window is beautiful, but oh those trees.

Thank you, trees, for all of this.

Joining Parul at Happiness and Food the last time in 2023 for her #ThursdayTreeLove.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Roberson Christmas Continued #WordlessWednesday

More from Home for the Holidays at Binghamton, New York's Roberson Center and Science Museum.  Part of this museum is located inside the former mansion of Alonzo Roberson, who made his fortune in lumber.  With no children to leave the building to, he and his wife donated their mansion to the community to be used as an educational facility.  Each December, they decorate for Christmas.

 Let's go up the mansion stairs.

Where I live in the Northeast United States, winter skies can be so dreary.  Bring on the decorations - here, a Christmas village.
A paper garland and more Christmas buildings.
Decorated by poinsettias.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for her #WordlessWednesday.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

A Bit of Secret Christmas

It's December 26, Boxing Day in various countries (not here in the United States).  Christmas technically is over, but let's have Christmas lights and decorations for a few more days.

For years, Home for the Holidays has been an annual tradition at Binghamton, New York's Roberson Center and Science Museum.  Roberson dresses itself up with Christmas trees in every nook and cranny, but if you don't know the secret of Home for the Holidays, you miss the best part.

We didn't go until last Friday but it's never too late for beauty.

A portion of Roberson Center is located in the Alonzo Roberson mansion, completed in 1907.  You access it from the upper floors of the museum.  For Home for the Holidays, the mansion is open to the public and its decorations are breathtaking.  So if you go, be sure to look for the sign pointing towards the mansion entrance.  The decorations will be up until January 5.

Let's find the secret entrance (well, not really but you have to read the brochure) and go in.

The rooms of the mansion are all decorated for Christmas.
Alonzo Roberson made his fortune in the lumber business.  He and his wife Margaret had no children, and they made the decision to bequeath the mansion to the community as an education center.  It is also said to be haunted.

Even more trees.

You can go up the staircase and see even more.  Do you want to?

If Santa tells me you were all good this year, I might even have more for you later in the week.

Monday, December 25, 2023

It's Christmas -Time for Music #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, it's the day many have been waiting for.  It's Christmas, and it's time for Music Moves Me!

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers?  We're a jolly group into holiday spirit.   We 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.

For the month of December, we've traditionally had holiday music. Why not some more today?  But first....

This Saturday Night Live video has music sung by Darlene Love, the former lead singer of the Blossoms, actress, and solo artist.   From 2005, let's begin with "Christmas Time for the Jews".  This video, which wasn't on You Tube for several years, has become a Christmas tradition on my blog.

Ms. Love is also known for her signature song, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". Here's her duet with Cher in the 2023 lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

I first heard the next song in the movie Home Alone, and I only found out recently, from another Music Moves Me blogger, that this was performed in 1954 by The Drifters.  Here's what has become my favorite cover of White Christmas.

Next, let's get comfy.   I'd like to share a childhood memory with you.  I grew up in New York City in the 1950's and 1960's.  One of our local station used to preempt their nighttime programming on Christmas Eve and play Christmas music with a clip of a log burning at the Mayor's residence (Gracie Mansion).  This show would be on for around four hours.  Today, through the magic of the Internet, I can show you a web site devoted to that Yule Log.

Here's a sample of the music from 1971, if you are interested. 

Finally, one of my favorite modern Christmas songs - Christmas Wrapping from The Waitresses.

And that's a Christmas wrap, plus it's the last Music Moves Me for 2023.  May your day, regardless of if you celebrate Christmas, be merry and bright. (Truthfully, I could skip the snow part.)

Join me again next week after we ring in 2024.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Flood Shadows #ShadowshotSunday

This past week, my area of the Northeast United States was hit by heavy rains.  Our local park flooded, and, as the waters receded, there was an opportunity for some shadow photography.

Mud on the walking path.  You can see the patterns made by the flood waters and mud, and shadows from nearby trees.
These two pictures were taken on December 20, and we had an actual sunny day.  Those aren't common during the winter in this area.

Because this is Christmas Eve, here is a Christmas tree at our local Home for the Holidays display. I hope to post more pictures of this annual event (a little late, I know) right after Christmas.

Have a happy Christmas Eve, and Merry Christmas to my readers who celebrate.

Joining Magical Mystical Teacher for #ShadowshotSunday.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Bittersweet Caroling

Yesterday, after a three year pause due to the pandemic, caroling returned to a historic building in downtown Binghamton, New York.

The caroling is open to the public, and I came to enjoy it, but also to see how it has changed.

I didn't take a picture of the outside of the building because I got there just about as the caroling was supposed to begin, so here is a picture from May 14, 2020.   This building was built in 1904 and will be celebrating its 120th anniversary next year.

It has a beautiful lobby full of marble.

The lobby ceiling.

Three of the murals in the lobby.
A closeup of the caroling.

The only thing I'm lacking is music.

I spent well over an hour trying to upload a video I took to You Tube.  I never figured it out - I kept getting a message that I needed to take a 30 second video of myself and wait at least a day for verification.  I also tried to upload it directly from my phone to the blog, but it was a 28 MB file and I don't know what ended up happening to it.

So why bittersweet?  Because fewer members of the public showed up.  Because there were fewer employees of the building's two major employers singing than in the past (I'm sure that hybrid work schedules had something to do with that).  Fewer people playing instruments.  It just wasn't the same.  

But is anything still the same?  Change is a constant in our lives.

The TV coverage (available on You Tube) had mostly interviews and next to no music, but no matter.

Here's a post from 2018 with the way it sounded back then.

I hope you take out a couple of minutes from your day and enjoy.

Friday, December 22, 2023

A Flood and a Sunset #SkywatchFriday

Like many living in the Northeast United States, we experienced heavy rain on Sunday and part of Monday. As a result, there was flooding in low lying areas, including the park where spouse and I sometimes watch for sunsets.

Here are some photos from my lunchtime Monday, when we walked to the park.

No walking today.

The rain had stopped and park was just starting to flood.  The water reflected the sky and the trees.

Call this one an epic puddle photo.

A farewell before I had to return to work.

After I got out of work, we returned to the park but couldn't get in.  It was completely under water, so we walked to an area several blocks away where we could get a glimpse at the park with no building blocking the view.

This was the sunset we saw.  Just one picture.

To all Skywatchers who celebrate, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Joining Yogi and other skywatchers for the next to last Skywatch Friday of 2023

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Easy Chocolate Milk Pudding

Today, in the Northern Hemisphere, it's the first day of winter.

It's close to Christmas, and I would bet that some of my readers are feeling pretty stressed.  They would love an easy, three ingredient dessert.

I've written several posts about making a cooked pudding with almond milk.  I am not allergic to cow's milk but I prefer almond milk for a couple of reasons.

But recently, I was gifted some chocolate milk from Vermont, and I thought to myself, I have here almost all I need to make a quick chocolate pudding.   Why not celebrate the first day of winter?

So, yesterday, I assembled the ingredients.

1 pint (16 oz) cold chocolate milk

3 1/2 tbsp potato starch (you can also use cornstarch)

1 tsp vanilla extract.

All I did was combine the ingredients in a saucepan and then cooked it on low heat until it thickened, which took about five or six minutes.  Then I poured it into 4 serving cups.

It will make two desserts for the two of us.  I might even get fancy and top each pudding cup with a chocolate covered almond or cashew.  One could also use chocolate covered coffee beans if caffeine isn't an issue.

I think some may find this not chocolatey enough but I didn't want to add cocoa because then I'd have to add more sugar.

If you try it, please let me know if you liked it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Book Trees #WordlessWednesday

Seen at the George F. Johnson Memorial Library in Endicott, New York.

A book tree in a display case in the lobby.
Book tree in the New Books section.

There are also outdoor displays (not of booktrees) but they involved inflatables and they had the air removed at the time.

Merry Early Christmas to my Wordless Wednesday readers who celebrate.

Joining Sandee at Comedy Plus for #WordlessWednesday.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Ending 2023 With Gratitude

My mother in law left this Earthly life in November of 2018, and would have been celebrating her 96th birthday this year.  She taught me a lot about aging with grace.

Me? I know I complain too much.  Sometimes (well, more than sometimes) I even start my day with a complaint.  Today, I'm going to start it with a post of gratitude.

There is so much to be grateful for.  Here's a partial list.

I'm Grateful For

All those who work on my behalf - garbage pickup people, first responders, retail workers, and anyone I didn't mention.

Having family nearby.  My son lives about 20 minutes from me.  I have a couple of inlaws in the next county.

Good health.  Cross fingers that it continues. 

Oh Tannenbaum, Owego, New York

Holiday beauty.  Holiday songs.  I've always enjoyed Christmas carols and Christmas lights.


Being able to see, hear, and taste.

The people who wished me a happy birthday on Facebook when I had a birthday earlier this year. Ditto for those who called and texted.

Social media.  Since I wrote my blog post December 5 about deciding to stay on Facebook after a couple of months of not being on there much, I found out a real life friend's brother died via Facebook.  I am grateful for social media, the good kind.

The Internet, when it works right.

A card I received from the person I once called my guest photographer, with such a beautiful message in it.

Cell phones with cameras.

Blogging and my fellow bloggers. 

Sunsets and sunrises.



My spouse of going on 50 years.

And you, my readers.  I am so happy you found your way to my blog.

What are you grateful for?

Monday, December 18, 2023

Christmas Music That's Just a Little Different #MusicMovesMe

It's Monday, it's only a week before Christmas, and it's time for Music Moves Me!

Who are the Music Moves Me bloggers?  We're a jolly group into holiday spirit.   We 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.

For the month of December, we've traditionally had holiday music. There is so much Christmas music out there, and it's hard to decide where to go this week.

I think I know, though.  

Let's start with this one:  It's not a modern Christmas song (actually, it's a blend of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Carol of the Bells) but a tribute born out of a modern war.  Here's Trans Siberian Orchestra with their cover of Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo 12/24.

Here's a six year old boy performing Little Drummer Boy with André Rieu and his Orchestra. This was one of my favorite carols in my childhood.

Remember Dueling Banjos?  Why not Dueling Jingle Bells from the United States Navy Band?  The song gets a little lost, but it's all good.

The House of Scotland Pipe Band and Deck the Halls.

Dropkick Murphys and The Season's Upon Us.  One of the funniest Christmas songs and videos ever.

I haven't posted any parody songs this holiday season.  I'll fix that omission now with Bob and Doug MacKenzie's Twelve Days of Christmas.  

And, because I can, let me end today's set with a Fairytale of New York tribute to the late Shawn MacGowan of the Pogues at his recent funeral.

I wish all my readers Peace, Love and Joy this coming week.

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

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Near Christmas Shadows #ShadowshotSunday

Some shadows seen around town recently.

Shadows from an arch that's part of a nighttime Christmas light display in Otsiningo Park, Binghamton, New York.

The season of long shadows continues.

To celebrate the 120th anniversary of the first powered airplane flight, December 17, 1903, a picture from this past May of the original inventors of powered flight.

Joining up with Magical Mystical Teacher's #ShadowshotSunday.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Holiday Farm Market 2023

 Enjoy the sights of the season at the Broome County (New York) indoor year round farmers market from earlier today.

 Let's go inside and warm up.  Yes, no snow on the ground.

There's something for everyone.  Bread and baked goods.


Garlic and onions.

Mushrooms, which this farmer grows in the late fall and winter.  By mid spring it will be gone.


For those who eat meat, meat.

Trout, smoked and fresh.

There were lots of cookies and candies, available, but lots of people around those stands, too.

Traditionally, this market (which is a Saturday only market) closes the last Saturday of the month, and I wonder how many vendors will be there next Saturday.

We are so fortunate to have this market.

Happy Saturday to you!