Monday, January 16, 2017

Music Monday - A Long Time Comin'

Friday, a new President takes office in the United States.  This man, who is replacing the first President of color in our nation's history, will take our country in an entirely different direction. (Note, this is a non-political blog so opinions about that will not follow.)

Today is a federal holiday honoring Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  What interesting timing, as the President-Elect is embroiled in a war of words with another Civil Rights icon, John Lewis, who marched with Dr. King.   If Dr. King was alive today, he would be 88 years old.

What would Dr. King be doing and thinking right now as we prepare for this peaceful transition of power?

In 2015 I blogged a story about the young Dr. King.

Many things have changed since that snowy day, but there is still work ahead.

Today, some music related to the Civil Rights movement and race relations in general, in memory of Dr. King.  Some of these videos contain clips of historical events and conditions that existed "back then".

A  Change is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke

Abraham, Martin and John.  This song, performed in 1968 and sung by Dion (Dion Francis DiMucci of the Bronx, in New York City), is a favorite of mine as I grew up in this time.

We Shall Overcome, as sung by Pete Seeger.

 Eyes on the Prize - Mavis Staples

To end this post, I would like to point to a blog I enjoy.  Recently, this blogger published a poem written in 1937 by American poet and activist Langston Hughes.   It is well worth reading.

#blogboost Day 16 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - January 2017

It's been another strange winter.

As an example, we woke up Wednesday to ice.  Then the next day it rained, with a high of 52 (11C).  Parts of the country are having a serious ice storm right now, including the Wichita, Kansas area (where I lived for a time).  We are supposed to have icy conditions on Tuesday.

But meanwhile, in my zone 5b garden in upstate New York, I actually have flower buds to show you, now that snow and ice has melted.  Helleborus niger.  This plant  started to bloom last year, then the temperatures plunged, and that was the end of it for 2016.  Now, it's trying again.

There isn't that much in my house, either.  I bought this primrose in lie of a bouquet on my table.

Yesterday, I also bought a forcing hyacinth in a vase.  I didn't need the vase, but that is how they were being sold.  When this blooms, the bloom will be pink.

The last of my Christmas (actually, Thanksgiving) cactus flowers faded in the last day or so.  This is what it looked like earlier this week. when the sun was shining.

One African violet flower remains.  This is what it looked like on that same sunny day.

Finally, I have an indoor flower treat for you.  I have a dracaena (corn plant) that is over 20 years old (I've had it for 20 years and got it from an office that no longer wanted it).  On March 7, I noticed (it was behind a window shade) that the plant had bloomed almost eight feet up.   The blooms are mostly dead now, but I wanted you to see this.

Come on over to May Dreams Gardens, which hosts this monthly 15th of the month meme, and see what is blooming all over the world.  Carol, an Indiana blogger, finishes up her 10th year of hosting this meme with this month's post, and asks us to reveal how long we have been participating.  So, here's my first GBBD post ever - May of 2011.  And I've posted every 15th of the month since.

It's a sneaky way to create a monthly garden journal.  Thanks, Carol!

Will you join us?

#blogboost Day 15 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sustainable Saturday- The Bear News

I'm a bit "under the weather", so I am repeating a post.

In September 2014, I had an interesting experience on a "rail to trail" walking trail a handful of miles from where I live in upstate New York.  

While researching another post, I came across this post from September 9, 2014.  I've had a couple of "close encounters" on the trail - including sighting a bobcat (possibly) three years ago.  But the following sighting may have been a little too close for comfort.

Enjoy this throwback post for day fourteen of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

September 9, 2014 - a Supermoon is rising tonight, but it is cloudy so we will not see it. So instead, I'll give you a picture from two nights ago, as the moon rose over the Chenango River near downtown Binghamton, New York.  Not that it has anything to do with my post - I just wanted to start with this picture.
Nature is on my mind, and the impact it continues to have on our lives is something I think about often.

We were walking three or so Sundays ago on the Vestal Rail Trail, a walking trail we try to frequent at least once a week where we live in upstate New York.

We approached a bridge carrying elevated traffic that crosses over the trail. My spouse suddenly stopped, and seemed reluctant to continue.  He was acting so strangely, in fact, that I wondered if he was in some medical distress. It scared me for a minute.

"I'm not sure if I want to keep walking", he said. "I heard a strange sound - maybe it was a motorcycle, I don't know".  I hadn't heard the sound but my hearing isn't the best - so I told him "if you have an instinct not to go any further, let's not."

We turned around.

This was so different from how my spouse normally behaves, and I wondered what he had heard or seen as we walked back to our car, cutting our walk short by about a mile.

When we got to our car he said "I thought I heard a bear."

Where we live, in the "Triple Cities"of upstate New York, this is not a joke.  Vestal has been seeing a lot of black bear sightings, and one of the recent sightings (May, I think), in fact, was on the Vestal Rail Trail near to where my spouse was spooked by something.

And then, last weekend, we found this on the sidewalk of the trail near to where spouse heard the noise. Let's just call it what animals leave behind after the digestive process is complete.

I hope it was a deer.  Anyone know for sure? 

It's small consolation to know that bears may be more afraid of us than we of them.

Someone at work set up an automatic camera in her yard, and showed us some amazing footage of bears in her back yard.  And, my guest photographer (who lives out in the country) takes in her bird feeders at night.  One night she was a few minutes late and had her own close encounter with a bear.  The bear ran off.

But they don't always run.  Sometimes they attack.  A high school friend who lives in Florida had her neighborhood make the national news for bear attacks.  

It isn't only bears.  A fox that may have been rabid attacked three members of an Endicott family earlier this summer (2014).  And, last year, we had our own close (or not so close) encounter, again on the Vestal Rail trail. We were alone, right after a rain, and are fairly certain a bobcat ran out and crossed the trail right in front of us.

You never heard about this kind of thing when we first moved to upstate New York in the 1980's.  But it is definitely becoming more and more common.  Increasingly, we know we are sharing our lives with wildlife.

It isn't just squirrels and sparrows (and the occasional skunk or raccoon anymore.

Do you have any wildlife sighting stories of your own to share for Day 14 of #blogboost the Ultimate Blog Challenge?

Tomorrow, I participate in a monthly meme - Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - and you are welcome to return for pictures of what is blooming in my house.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Skywatch Friday - The Office

Sunrise, upstate New York, Monday, January 8.

Traveling to work, I knew it was going to be an amazing sunrise.  When I got to my office about 7:15 am, this is what greeted me.  It took my breath away.

But there were blinds, and reflections.  I tried to get closer.  I knew I faced a race against time. That beautiful pink sunrise wouldn't wait for me.  I ran over to my cubicle, and raised the blinds.

And this was the result.  Nice color (none of these pictures had color adjusted, by the way) but too much reflection.  But, nothing unlucky for this Friday the 13th post.

I still have a lot to learn about iPhone photography and fixing circumstances like these.  A research project awaits.

Visit Skywatch Friday for other sky pictures from around the world.

Day 13 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


For your entertainment, let me present two stories.  Just coincidence?

This first story was circulating around the Internet yesterday.  I have not personally verified this information, but an urban-myth debunking website called Snopes (some don't trust it but I do, and have trusted it for many years) has confirmed it.

 In a 1958 Western TV show called Trackdown, a con man by the name of Walter Trump tells townspeople that only he can save them from meteors that will destroy the world at midnight - by building a wall around their homes.

At one point in the clip above, Trump threatens to sue someone opposing him.

At the end of the episode, Trump is arrested for grand theft by a heroic Texas Ranger.  Note, at the end, the show says it was based on an actual case in the Texas Rangers files.

Trump and a wall? Coincidence? (as this is not a political blog, I will leave the rest to your imagination.  I'm not trying to make a political point - only time will tell...)

2.  A book called Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan, was published in 1898.  The novella told the story of the fictional unsinkable ocean liner Titan, which, on an April night, struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its starboard side and sank.  There weren't enough lifeboats.  And, oh yes, in case this sounds vaguely familiar, the real-life sinking of the "unsinkable" Titanic in April, in the North Atlantic, after striking an iceberg on the starboard side, happened.  In 1912. 14 years later.
(Incidentally, the book is available for free online - it is no longer in copyright.)


I think both are just coincidence.  With everything that is written, some scripts or books are going to "predict" history.   But, sometimes, truth and fiction can be equally strange. 

What do you think?

Day 12 #blogboost of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Winter Wonders - Soup Is Good Food

Every Wednesday, I post a "Winter Wonder"
Yesterday, I was wondering when winter would end.

The sidewalks were full of sleet and it was starting to ice over.  This morning it is still hazardous.  But tomorrow, it will be near 50F (10 C).

What a wonderful day for soup.  I was reminded of a post from January 25, 2014 when someone asked if I had any posts with winter recipes.  Indeed, I do.

I am happy to say that my mother in law (the person my spouse made the soup for) did recover from the condition that necessitated her surgery.

Here's my post, for day 11 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Sustainable Saturday- Marrying Soup

My mother in law, recovering last week from surgery, wanted comfort food - a couple of her favorite soups.  She is of Italian heritage, and so my spouse decided to make a soup that was fed to him when he was young.

Many Americans know a version of this soup as "Italian Wedding Soup".  (The "wedding", incidentally, refers to the marriage of the ingredients, not marriages of people.)  However, in my spouse's childhood, they knew this soup as Escarole Soup.

This is how my spouse and I made Escarole/Italian Wedding soup last week.

First, earlier in the day, spouse had roasted a turkey breast.  Now, he took the carcass, and made bone broth.  But, because we didn't have loads of time, he "cheated". We added some commercial chicken broth to the bone broth. (Whose broth? My mother in law's local store had Rachel Ray's broth in retorts but spouse has started to use organic free range broth in retorts sold at our local Aldi.)

Spouse strained out the bones and fat. He set aside the remaining turkey meat set aside for the other soup we were making.
Next, it was time for the meatballs.   First, spouse prepared a ground meat mixture.

Spouse made these from part organic ground turkey and part ground beef.  As my mother in law had some Italian seasoned bread crumbs, we added that, too. The meatballs will cook right in the soup.
Next came kale, one of the most nutritious greens there is.

Next, escarole.
Finally, sliced organic baby carrots (non-organic are just fine) went into the soup.  My mother in law had some spinach that was a tiny bit out of date but still good for cooking, and that went in, too.

Finally, pearl couscous. You can cook these right in the soup, too.
If you wanted, you could add some orzo (risoni)instead.  

Time to marry the flavors!

We cooked it until the greens were wilted and allowed some extra time for the flavors to blend. Then, it was eating time, with some Italian bread.

So easy, so nutritious. And, it tasted so good.  My mother in law is a good cook and she gave the soup a thumbs-up.

I hope it sped my mother in law's recovery.  Soup is the most sustaining food you can serve on a snowy winter day.
A snowy tree in my mother in law's yard
What is your "go to" food when someone is not feeling well?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


I have some problems with mishearing song lyrics.

I think it's just the nature of the rock n' roll music that I like. Mumbled lyrics that don't make any sense don't stop a lover of this music - just create something that does make sense in your mind, and move on.
I am far from the only one who mishears lyrics. In fact, I read a most entertaining post on the topic yesterday.    There is a technical term for mishearing lyrics, one of the surprising things you will learn in this post. If you don't get anything else from what follows, you would have increased your vocabulary by one word.

I am, therefore, going to repeat a post from several years ago.

Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza

Have you been guilty of mishearing song lyrics, to sometimes comic results?

I have.  I bet you have, too. A number of websites exist for the purpose of discussing song lyrics and allowing people to discuss lyrics that other people have misheard, sometimes with quite comic results. 

There is even a name for this - mondegreens.

Take the song above: "Tiny Dancer", by Elton John.  I love that song.  I have several of the earlier Elton John albums, such as Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboys, Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player and Yellow Brick Road.  Plus, I also own one of his greatest hits albums.

I've spent countless hours, since the early 1970's, listening to these Elton John songs. (I will also admit I am not partial to his later work.)  I clearly hear "Hold me closer, tiny dancer". But somehow, I never realized that young Tony Danza had crept into the lyric when I wasn't looking.

"Tiny Dancer" came out in 1971. Tony Danza was born in 1951. The show "Who's The Boss" started in 1984.  So, Tony Danza must have been pretty young - about 20, to be exact - when he appeared in the lyric, only 13 years after the song came out.

For the record, I never have watched the TV show Friends (the show that immortalized the "Young Tony Danza" lyric), so no wonder I was the last to know.

Until yesterday, that is. A tweet led me to the website Mental Floss (a wonderful magazine, by the way) which rated the "Ten Most Often Butchered Song Lyrics".

And "Tiny Dancer" was #1 on the list of most misheard lyrics!

Now, my personal most misheard lyric is the Bruce Springsteen/Manford Mann's Earth Band classic "Blinded By The Light.".  Someone even devoted a web page to the various misheard lyrics reported to him from that song.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Atlantic, the BBC has had its own fun with mondegreens.

I must admit, in more than one instance, that the wrong lyric makes more sense than the right lyric.  Like poor Lady Mondegreen, who never appeared in a 17th century ballad, but should have.

Do you have a favorite misheard lyric?  Or have you been singing the wrong lyric of a particular song for years?

Day 10 of #blogboost the Ultimate Blog Challenge.