Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday Tree Love - Sassafras

Trees are important in our lives for so many reasons.  Not just for shade, not just for their beauty, or the wood they provide for our houses and fuel, or the fruit that grows on them.

Have you ever heard of the sassafras?

Here's one in Binghamton, New York.

The sassafras is a small tree or large shrub - use whichever term you prefer.  We had several on the property in Arkansas we lived on many years ago.  You can tell the tree by its distinctive leaves, some of which look like mittens and some have three "fingers"- and, if you dig up a root, it smells just like root beer (which, at least most times, is a non alcoholic drink with a distinctive taste).


That isn't by accident.  At one time, root beer came from an extract of sassafras, but one of the chemicals in the root, safrole, is known to be a carcinogen in animals.  In days past, many used to drink a spring tonic type tea made from the roots or bark.  

I love root beer.

Medicinal uses.  The flavoring (at one time) of root beer.  What is there not to like?

Join Parul of Happiness and Food and other bloggers from all over the world at #ThursdayTreeLove - simply post a picture of a tree and visit the other bloggers participating.

Day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Falling Wednesday - Preserving Your Vision

Next to dementia and cancer, I sometimes think falling is the greatest health challenge we face.

Last week, the mother in law of someone I know fell twice.  The first time, just bruised.  The second time, a broken pelvis.  She is in her 90's.  Her future is uncertain.

Every one of us knows one or more persons whose lives changed forever due to falls.

For the next few Wednesdays, I will be republishing posts written in 2015 and 2016 on the topic of falling.  I hope you will find some value in them.

Please, if you haven't yet had a falling episode, read these posts anyway.  Someone you know may need this information.  Additionally, please feel free to share these posts on social media, if you find them helpful.

Much of this information comes from information I learned in a falls prevention class.  As my regular readers know, I have fallen several times in the past few years.  And I'm only in my 60's.

I am extremely nearsided, and I learned about the importance of vision at an early age. I've been wearing glasses since I was four.  Since the age of around eight, my non corrected vision has been in the realm of what the State of New York considers (if uncorrectable) legal blindness.  Fortunately (at least up to now), it has been correctable with glasses.

During one of the falls prevention classes, we were treated to a talk by Diane McMillan of AVRE in Binghamton, New York.  Diane is dual-certified as a low vision therapist and a vision rehab therapist, and personally suffers from a couple of disabling eye diseases.  So, not only can she talk the talk, she also knows, from personal experience, what "it is like". So:

What is AVRE?
"AVRE is a private, non-profit organization that serves people with sustained and severe vision loss. People of all ages, from infants to seniors, can and do benefit from our services. We offer a range of learning. living, and working options for people with sustained and severe vision loss."

There are many eye diseases that can affect vision. Anyone suffering from these conditions becomes more prone to falling.  In fact, a blogger I enjoy, Amy Bovaird , has blogged at length about her life with a vision disability, her adventures (if I can call them that) in falling and how her life has strengthened her faith.  Amy's blog is Christian faith-centered but there are other bloggers with vision impairments who blog from a more secular viewpoint.

It turns out that a couple of people in my class suffer from macular degeneration.  Diane explained it so well, complete with pictures taken that show the way people with macular degeneration will see a particular picture vs. people with healthy eyes, that I understand it better now.  Amy Bovaird's blog has a lot of information about macular degeneration.

We also learned about glaucoma.

Diane's message was a message of hope.  She taught us (noting I am not a medical professional, or vision professional, and you should have annual eye exams, always):

1.  Be self aware.  Test yourself monthly (it only takes a couple of minutes) with something called an Amsler Grid.  Diane told us that you have any problems (the website describes what you are looking for when you use the grid) consider this an emergency and contact an eye care professional immediately.  In general, if anything is amiss, err on the side of caution and report it to your eye care professional immediately.  Sometimes, a timely exam can be the difference between a good outcome, and the opposite.

2.  Have that annual eye exam!  I know an eye cancer survivor - it was detected by an annual eye exam.

3.  If you are diagnosed with an eye disease, all is not lost.  Some conditions can be treated.  Other conditions may not respond to treatment, but with proper training, and assistance, you can still lead a worthwhile life.  The two women in my class with macular degeneration were proof of that.

#3, especially, resonated with me, because I have always dreaded the day the eye doctor will say "we no longer have a prescription for you."  I can hope that day never comes.

But if it does come, I hope I will understand it is not the end, but rather, a new beginning.

Next week - how my falls prevention class journey began.

Day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What's in a Name?

 How do they name flowers?

My spouse and I were out Saturday admiring the day lilies in Cutler Botanic Gardens in Binghamton, New York.  They are just a few steps away from the Regional Farmers Market and were at peak.

For years, the lilies have only had numbers on the identifying stakes, with no handy list.   This year, there's a list, and I finally know the names of some of these varieties.

I would love to know how these names are chosen.

What makes this a Tennessee Rose?

Or a Some Sweet Day (I have to get this one- stunning!)
Beasley.  I see this may actually be "Bubba Beasley" but "Beasley" is what the list said.

Mardi Gras Parade
Crazy Pierre (I wondered how long ago they came up with this name - turns out 1990 is the year of introduction). 

Peekaboo (yes, I see you!) which somehow got on its side.

The Band Played On
Rhythm and Blues.

Hybridizing day lilies is a hobby for some.  I don't know if I would have the patience.  I certainly don't have the room.

But if I created a new day lily, wouldn't it be fun to choose the name?

Day 18 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Monday, July 17, 2017

Music Moves Me - European Favorites

It's Monday, meaning welcome to Music Moves Me, a weekly blog hop.

Today's theme:  European Favorites.

I pondered this theme for a while.  Should I include or exclude musicians from Great Britain? Should I only include songs sung in the singers' native language?

I decided to feature only singers from Mainland Europe, and a mix of songs sung in English and songs sung in other languages that became hits in the United States.

Scorpions are a German rock band first formed in 1965 - over 50 years ago.  They have had a number of hits in the United States, including The Zoo and Rock You Like a Hurricane.  I decided, instead, to feature a song written in 1990 and released in 1991 about the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall - Winds of Change.  This song is the all time best selling song in Germany.

You would never believe this next song was anything but an all-American song.

But Rednex, here singing "Cotton-Eyed Joe", is a Swedish music group.  This cover of an American folk song dating from before the Civil War used to be played at all of the ball games of Binghamton's minor league baseball team.  OK, maybe I am stretching "European Favorite" slightly, but now, let's dance!

Volbeat is a Danish rock band.  The song I've selected is Lola Montez, the stage name of an Irish "dancer" (actually, a courtesan) of the 19th century.

Now, I turn to some songs sung in native European languages.

Nena, a (then) West German band fronted by a singer of the same name, sings a song called (in German) 99 Luftballoons.  The year after its 1983 release, Nena rerecorded the song in English.

Next, is a German electronic group called Kraftwerk. Autobahn (the original, single version) from 1974, was an instant personal favorite.  True, there isn't much singing in this song, but it is in German.

Last, but certainly not least.  Austrian singer Johann Hölzel, better known as Falco, recorded a song in German about Mozart  called "Rock me Amadeus", which became a big hit in our country in 1986.  Tragically, Falco died in a car crash in 1998, at the age of 40.

So, what are some of your European favorites?

Come join this blog hop every Monday - here are the people responsible for it:
X mas Dolly is the Conductor of this trip, and the other Conductors are her fellow bloggers Callie of JAmerican Spice, ♥Stacy of Stacy Uncorked♥  and Cathy from Curious as a Cathy.

Also, it is day 17 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.

Get aboard the train and LET'S ROCK!


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Raspberry Stress Relief?

I wanted to have some peace.  Today, I needed it.  At the end of the post, I am going to ask for your help.

So we went raspberry picking.  To me, picking fruit is relaxing - I get into a state of - I don't know what to call it (I do not meditate, but perhaps it is something similar.    The birds singing and the people speaking around me (especially if they are not speaking English, because then I don't get distracted by their conversations as much) usually soothe me.  And I don't even mind the thorns on the raspberry canes all that much when I am in that state.

We did not have a good crop in upstate New York this year, and it took us a while to pick.  This was one of the best bushes.
It was sunny, something rare.

I reread my raspberry picking post from last year (including links to some recipes) trying to feel grateful.  But today I need some help.

I need some stress relief right now.  I tried to put together a small family reunion for a couple of weeks from now (I haven't seen some of these cousins in five years), and I am beginning to feel it was a mistake.  I don't want to say anything more, as you don't need my stress.    But I don't want to call it off, either, this soon, although my IBS has been making me miserable (for other reasons, mainly) for almost three weeks.

I'd love you to share some of your stress relief techniques - there has to be a way around what I am experiencing.

Day 16 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day July 2017 - Lily Heaven

It's the 15th of the month and time for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, where bloggers from all over the world gather to show what is blooming in their gardens and/or living spaces.

And what a bloom day it is.

In February, I will reread this in my zone 5b upstate New York home and say (while looking out at a blanket of snow and hearing the howling winds), "will it ever be July again?"

I created this collage because I have so many flowers in July.  Let me rejoice in this moment.   I grew up in a housing project in New York City, and being able to flower garden is a dream come true.

For my future January self, here are some of the many daylilies in my garden.  Many I get as "mysteries" for greatly reduced prices, and that's fine, because I always lose the tags.

I love flowers after a soaking rain.
Where do I even start?
I call this one my "triangle flower".
I love the melon color.
This is just about my largest day lily.
A day lily opening up.
It isn't just day lilies.  How about hostas?
Back to lilies, the Easter lily my mother in law gave to us about three years ago put out one flower stalk this year.
Last but definitely not least, this is growing in my part shade to shade back yard, near a turtlehead.  Does anyone know what this is?

So many flowers, so little time.  So why not, I'll sneak in one more day lily.

Thank you for visiting my blog for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, a 15th of each month meme started and maintained by Carol, an Indiana gardener who blogs at May Dream Gardens.  Come give her garden a look, and then visit garden bloggers from all over the world.  We all need beauty in our lives, especially in these times.

Day 15 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

Friday, July 14, 2017

Skywatch Friday - July Sunset

This is a sunset from earlier this week.

We have had changeable weather where I live in upstate New York.  We've also had a couple of lovely sunsets.  It's that time of year.

The sky colors through the trees.

The sky starts to glow.
And a final shot.

Join other bloggers watching the sky at #Skywatch Friday.

Day 14 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost.