Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts




On this last day of August for 2017, I'm finding it difficult to write about anything because it seems my content is unworthy in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which has devastated so many lives in Texas. As I compose this posting Harvey is on his way to Louisiana to wreak havoc and his demise is occurring during the anniversary week of Hurricane Katrina, which occurred during the time period of August 23, 2005 – August 31, 2005.

Jazz, the dog pictured above was rescued during Katrina, but ultimately abandoned at an animal shelter because he is blind. Someone I know (TT) here in NYC is from New Orleans and her family was there during that hurricane. The mother (Mrs. T) of TT (who lives near to me) was supposedly working at the aforementioned shelter and she adopted Jazz. 

Ultimately Mrs. T died of cancer, unrelated to Katrina, and TT bought Jazz to NYC. She was not always able to care for him and I introduced TT to someone who has been able to help her care for Jazz.

In any event, I certainly am keeping the folks impacted by these hurricanes in my mind, and I have yet to find out how Juan V's family is faring. They live in Texas, but I'm not sure what part, and, I don't usually communicate with Juan in between the days we work together in my urban garden.

The next time I see him, which will be a week from today, I will be able to ask him if his loved ones were affected by Harvey.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday's Wisdom: Some Consequences re the Abuse of Cell Phones



I saw this on my friend's sister's Facebook Page. The video is by Steve Steve Cutts. It is a poignantly wise video-commentary on our cell-phone dependent society.

Steve Cutts describes himself by saying, "I'm a UK based illustrator and animator. My recent work includes the 'LA-Z Rider' couch gag for 'The Simpsons' and the music video for 'Are You Lost In The World Like Me?' for Moby. I've also worked on projects for renowned agencies across the world including UNESCO, The Gaia Foundation, Isobar, LMFM, and Analogfolk'. My work has been featured on various television networks, including Adult Swim and Fox in the US and Channel 4 in the UK."

As of this posting, I don't use a cell phone and find Mr. Cutt's animation to be a true depiction of the current state of cell phone use.

However, I do realize there are other times when cell phones have saved lives, but that as "they" say is another story...

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tuesday Truths For The Fifty-Seventh Week: This recent red light will not stop me!



Hello, and welcome to the fifty-seventh week of my Tuesday's Truths series which I'm posting at night! I apologize to readers who might've been expecting me to publish an entry earlier in the day, which is my standard — at least for my Tuesday's Truth series.

The truth for this week is that I'm in the middle of embarking on a new path after having received a red light for a book project that I was helping Cam's daughter with. Ever since June 9th 2017, I've been going back and forth with a big company, in order to get their permission for Cam's daughter to use images that I took over the course of a couple years of their public event (a parade), which is very well known by people all over the world.

Therefore, even though the pictures which Cam's daughter wanted to include in her story, are all taken by me, I had to get their permission, as their event is considered a trademark. Most folks had thought I would not have a problem, and that Cam's daughter could use my photos under a clause for fair use, but it seems that's not the case.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday's Musings



A Northern mockingbird, who appears to be checking out a ball-shaped terra-cotta object which is on the floor of my urban garden, is featured in the two images atop this entry.

The object of this bird's interest is an upside down planter that is better suited as an outdoor sculpture than the planter it is supposed to be. This is because it is very difficult to plant flora inside of it. You might suspect this from seeing the next image, which was taken in 2011, and features creeping thyme attempting to thrive in the round container.


In any event, to the mockingbird's right (or left in the first two photos) is a grape that has rolled off a saucer of grapes (which can be seen near to the container).

An imaginative person, upon seeing the mocker staring at the terra-cotta object, might envision that the mocker thinks the round structure is a huge grape. Whatever this bird may or may not be thinking, remains private with him/her, for he/she has not revealed any thoughts on the matter.

Admittedly, the two top photographs are quite similar, but they are not identical. The gaze of this mocker is slightly different from picture to picture, the same holds true for the next sets of photos.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My Acquaintance Eileen


My acquaintance, Eileen, can be seen in the photograph atop this entry. Eileen Bransten Simpson is someone I've known since the early 1990's (through my then fairly active membership at The Church of the Blessed Sacrament in NYC).

I have seen Eileen a number of times at mass, including one for the Easter Vigil, when she converted from her religion to Catholicism. She went through RCIA to this, and sponsored by her husband, John Simpson, who died this past Sunday, August the 20th. 

Simpson's funeral mass was this past Wednesday, which I attended, and, of course, I saw Eileen.

The following day, someone helped me recall a story about Eileen, that our mutual friend, the late Donna De Solis had told us:

Eileen is the daughter of Ruth McKenney, the deceased author of My Sister Eileen.


And Eileen Bransten Simpson is named for McKenny's sister. According to Wiki, "the stories were originally published in The New Yorker, which eventually inspired many other works: My Sister Eileen (a 1938 book), a play, a musical, a radio play (and an un-produced radio series), two motion pictures, and a CBS television series in the 1960–1961 season.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Pigeons, and sparrows, and, starlings! OH MY!


The other week, on Wednesday, August 16th 2017, I went to a wake which was held at the Papavero Funeral Home in Queens. The solemn event was in honor of the beloved Angela Mussa, who is the woman in the undated photograph atop this entry. I never met this lovely woman, who died at age ninety-three in her daughter's (Dr. Carla Mussa DDS) arms, however, I had met her daughter on a few occasions at parties that were held by our mutual friend, TT.

When TT told me Carla's mother had died, and that she was planning on attending the wake, I offered to accompany her to support Carla. I knew Carla was an only child, and that any extended family lived in Italy, therefore, I thought attendance might be sparse.

In any event, at the wake a slide show featuring photographs from various stages of Angela Mussa's life was playing, and the picture featured here is one of the images which was included.

Grainy as the image is, if you knew Angela Mussa was born and raised in Italy, you might be able to tell that it was taken in Italy, and that she is feeding pigeons. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Solemn Remembrance: August 24,1944


This past August 15th, here on Blogger, I wrote about Mathilde Freund, a woman from my hood who had survived the holocaust. In the entry I referenced an article, Trading on Elegance, by Rui Miao.

The picture atop this entry is featured in Miao's article, but I did not include it within my 8-15-2017 posting;  as I wanted to save it for the day of August 24th, because that is when the photograph Mathilde is holding (in Miao's image) was taken, in the year 1944.

Re this image in the aforementioned article, Miao states the following;

"In a photo taken in Lyon the day it was liberated from the Germans, Freund is pictured with 10 men whom she risked her life to save. She had the men brought food and water while they hid from the German occupiers. 'It was August 24, 1944,' said Freund. 'I was 24, full of hope that I was going to see my loved ones.' She wore a white suit and skirt, looking cheerful and full of hope. She did not yet know that she would never again see her husband or brother. "

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday's Wisdom: Giving Peas a Chance



I am still in great pain from having a case of plantar fasciitis, a heal spur, and, a tear in my Achilles.

Yesterday my doctor rebuilt my boot cast; and among other things, he recommended I put an icepack on my foot four times a day. He suggested using frozen peas as an icepack, and even though I'm not crazy about applying this coldness to my foot, all I can say is, I'm giving peas a chance.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Another Tuesday Truths For Week Fifty-Six (Dorothy Parker's day of birth is today.)



I don't want this Tuesday to pass without announcing another truth for this day of August 22. On this day in 1893, Dorothy Parker, the author, humorist and critic was born. I've written about her in a few entries here  on Blogger and if you'd like to reference my posts, please click here. My posts re Parker have to do with subjects related to her quote, "Men never make passes at girls who wear glasses."

Another one of her many quotes is feature in an image atop this entry which is on Twitter, a venue where Parker is trending. The tweet is from Penguin Books.

Tuesday's Truths: The Fifty-Sixth Week: Aftermath re Eclipse Glasses


Hello, and welcome to the fifty-sixth week of my Tuesday's Truths series, since this particular day falls on date after The Great American Total Solar Eclipse, I thought I'd post content about what one can do with their eclipse viewing glasses.

A web-page on Smithsonian, states "Though it's tempting to save them until the next solar eclipse in 2024, (which will cross eastern Canada, the central U.S. and part of Mexico) you must first check with the company to see if the glasses will last. As Cassy Sommer at Staten Island Live reports, some eclipse glasses manufacturers warn that the lenses expire after three years. But according to NASA, if the glasses are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standards, which were adopted in 2015, they should be reusable indefinitely. Just make sure you keep them in a safe spot: Seven years in a junk drawer will likely lead to scratches or abrasions, which can make the glasses dangerous to wear."

As an alternative to saving them in a junk drawer, they have many suggestions, which you can read about by clicking here. Meanwhile, dear reader, if you did get the view the eclipse in any form in person or via streaming, I hope you enjoyed it.

Btw, the image atop this entry is from an article in The New York Times, which I referenced in my entries here on Blogger re the event.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Great American Total Solar Eclipse is today!


It's finally the day for the much talked about solar event known as The Great American Total Solar Eclipse! By now, everyone has surely heard about the event; and, probably has well laid plans to see either a partial view, or total view of it, depending upon where one lives.

Here on Blogger, my first mention of The Great American Total Solar Eclipse was this past Friday, in an entry where I discussed my concern for the impact this event will have on wildlife. Within that post I included an image from an article published in The New York Times, which discussed this phenomena, and I included an image from that article that is similar in tone to the one atop this posting, which was also taken from their article.

I chose to include this particular picture for a couple of reasons. An obvious one (at least for those who know that I have a passion for birds), is the illustration. However, another reason that I chose it is for the caption associated with it: During a total solar eclipse, this lifeline is temporarily severed. At the moment of totality, a tide of darkness briefly swallows the land.

For it seems, in many respects, a tide of darkness is already swallowing the land.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Let them eat unshelled peanuts.



The photographs atop this entry features a blue jay alighting on the twisting branches of one of the shrubs growing in my urban garden which is a Avellana corylus (Contorted Hazel Nut). In the image he/she is eyeing a ball-style bird feeder that is nearly empty of the black-oil sunflower seeds which it holds. Blue Jays are known to eat these seeds as evidenced in the photo below, where a blue jay is availing him/herself of black-oil sunflowers seeds which I had placed on a a saucer.


This bird-type also enjoys eating berries, especially blueberries, as evidenced by the next set of images.



And blue jays eat suet, as you can see in the photos directly below.



However (according to WBU-MICH), "if you offered a buffet, their first choice would be peanuts in the shell."

I certainly agree with them on this, for I have offered un-shellled peanuts in a variety of ways, and my efforts have not been lost on this bird type!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday's Sequel (RE 8-9-2017's Post)


This photograph (atop my entry) of beach bums was taken by Jane from The Wooden Duck. It is an image that you might recognize from a recent post (8-9-2017) here on Blogger.

Within the aforementioned post, I explained that Jane and her husband, Art, made it possible for the beach to be brought to me; via these figurines, since I have not been able to go to the beach this summer.

Jane and Art's cast of characters have finally settled in my "homemade beach," where they joined my three bathing beauties (from the late Donna De Solis), as seen in the next image, where they (Donna's gifts to me), are indicated with numbers.


If you compare, my beach scene with Jane's, you should notice five differences (besides "Donna'a" figurines). See if you can spot them, dear reader. After studying the two images, please continue reading this entry for the answers.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Great American Total Solar Eclipse (coming 8-21-2017) MAY Be Hard on Wildlife


There has been a lot of media coverage regarding the forth coming total eclipse due to occur on August 21st 2017. A web page for Space.com states "On Aug. 21, 2017, America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse. The so-called Great American Total Solar Eclipse will darken skies all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, along a stretch of land about 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide. People who descend upon this "path of totality" for the big event are in for an unforgettable experience."

The aforementioned resource reminds its readers that "During totality, when the sun's disk is completely covered by the moon, it is safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye. But skywatchers should NEVER look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or blindness."

A great deal of information can be found within this resource and if you'd like to reference it, please click here. Meanwhile, for those of you who live in the NYC area, like yours truly, another source which provides interesting facts about our viewing The Great American Total Solar Eclipse can be referred to by clicking here.

I've heard that places selling special eye-glasses for viewing this eclipse are sold out and much of the news coverage has been focused on this fact as well as on ways that one can make a pin-hole device to view it safely.

I'm not that handy at DYI-construction, so I won't be doing that. My concern has been focused on the impact that The Great American Total Solar Eclipse will have on wildlife. There are a number of good resources for learning about this.

One is put out by Audubon.org which states,"The biggest change people might notice during the eclipse is audible, not visible. Birds will likely act like the sun is setting for the night, says Scott McWilliams, a wildlife ecology professor at the University of Rhode Island—and may quiet their voices to match."

They go on to say, "Most songbirds will treat it as nightfall, as long as they’re in the 100 percent in the eclipse pathway,” McWilliams says. 'Diurnal songbirds will become quiet; noctural birds the opposite. Thus, for the most part, silence will follow the darkness.' After the sun peeks out again, the chorus will resume as if it’s a brand-new morning. But because it's August, not spring, don't expect many species to burst into dawn songs. Keep an ear out for Red-Eyed Vireos, Northern Cardinals, and other birds prone to late summer crooning, along with non-avians like common true katydids, frogs, and toads."

Of all the creatures listed in Audubon's web-article, Northern cardinals are the ones whose behavior I will try and notice; for both male and female cardinals usually visit my urban garden a few times a day. The following set of photos feature a male cardinal enjoying my whole peanut bird feeder.






And the next set of images feature a female cardinal spending her time in one of my trees, which is an Acer palmatum ('Shisitatsu' Sawa).






In any event, another good source of information re wildlife and the forthcoming eclipse comes from an issue of USA Today. They state that "While humans will gaze at the spectacle in awe, some animals will be downright befuddled for a couple hours as the day slowly darkens — even in places that only get a partial eclipse. Early reports of wacky animal behavior during eclipses involve birds. Perhaps the earliest is from a total eclipse in 1544 when “birds ceased singing," while another report from a 1560 eclipse claimed 'birds fell to the ground,' according to Science News."  

Moreover, The New York Times, also has an interesting article (where I got the image atop this entry) on the impact eclipses have on wildlife.

There you have it dear reader, a number of things to consider in your preparation for the forth coming  (8-21-2017) eclipse, which has been dubbed The Great American Total Solar Eclipse.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Blue eyelids... Baby's got blue eyelids... (Along With Other Great Features)






Atop this entry are a few photographs of mourning doves spending time in my urban garden. As you can see, their eyelids are blue. This fact has often caused me to put a spin on an Elton John song ("Blue Eyes"), where part of the lyrics are:

"Blue eyes
Baby's got blue eyes
Like a deep blue sea
On a blue blue day..."

Only when I see the mourning doves, I sing:

"Blue eye lids,
Baby's got blue eye lids
Like a deep blue sea
On a blue blue day..."

The fact that this bird type has blue eyelids is just one of their many fascinating features.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Please don't eat the Angusitifolum curry. (WEDNESDAY'S WISDOM)


I featured the photograph (taken by Juan V) atop this entry (of my rooftop urban garden) in a previous post here on Blogger when I wrote about my rear window view.

Today I'd like to tell you a little bit about my Angusitifolum curry plant that the small arrow affixed to this image is referencing (which is something I said I would do in the aforementioned entry).

The Angusitifolum curry plant  has grey foliage has a strong, sweet curry scent, but (according to a web page), it has "a bitter taste." Evidently at some point the plant will produce golden flowers, and if this happens, I will take pictures and include them in a follow-up post. Supposedly their flowers "look good dried" and their "leaves are used as garnish or in potpourri."

However, because the Angusitifolum curry plant has such a bitter taste, it is not recommended that one eats it! Therefore, dear reader, if you do procure one for your garden, I say, please don't eat the Angusitifolum curry plant; but do enjoy the sweet scent it produces!

Meanwhile, dear reader, please remember, if my Angusitifolum curry plant flowers, I'll be sure to let you know with a post featuring pictures; and we'll see if any potpourri can be had.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday's Truths WK 55: Mathilde is 101!


Hello, and welcome to the fifty-fifth week of my Tuesday's Truths series, which is being dedicated to Mathilda Freund who turns one hundred and one years old today. Mathilda can be seen in the image atop this entry and it is one you may recognize, dear reader, as I featured it in a prior entry here on Blogger.

I took the picture in July of 2016, when I saw her sitting on a bench in front of a store on NYC's UWS, near to the area where she lives.

In the aforementioned entry, I stated that Mathilde and I spoke about Elie Wiesel, the holocaust survivor who had died in his NYC home that past Saturday, July 2nd, 2016. I also mentioned that "Mathilde knew Mr. Wiesel because he was in the same camp (Buchenwald) that her husband had been in. She told me that she was in hiding at the time, but her husband was killed at Buchenwald two months before it was closed. She recalled that her husband was twenty-five years old at the time and that Elie Wiesel was much younger." 

In any event, this past Saturday, August twelfth, I saw Mathilde again. She was sitting on the same bench as the one in the image atop this entry. I sat and talked with her for quite some time. I had a camera around my neck, and could have easily taken a new photo of her, but the thought of doing so did not occur to me, as my attention was on listening to her as she told about spending the summer with her son who lives in a rural area of North Carolina.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Little Starlings


I was in a gift shop on NYC's Upper Westside when I came across the greeting card pictured atop this blog post. Upon seeing it I immediately thought of the European starlings who visit my urban garden,  and I especially recalled a fairly new born one (who can be seen in the following pictures).







According to the web-page, Starling Talk, Baby starlings "cannot fly when they first leave the nest, or fledge. If they are fully feathered they need to be on the ground for a few days to learn. Their parents are still taking care of them and teaching them how to fly."

Friday, August 11, 2017

My Rear Window


In less than one month's time, on September 1st 2017, it will be the sixty-third anniversary of the movie, Rear Window, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film starred Jimmy Stewart. And the synopsis (stated on Wiki, where I got the image atop this entry), states the following:

"After breaking his leg photographing a racetrack accident, a professional photographer, the adventurous L. B. "Jeff" Jefferies (James Stewart), is confined to a wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment to recuperate. His rear window looks out onto a courtyard and several other apartments. During a powerful heat wave, he watches his neighbors, who keep their windows open to stay cool."

Like Jefferie, my NYC apartment (with an urban garden atop a rooftop terrace, something which Jefferies did not have), my rear window, looks into other apartments, as evidenced in the photo below.


The image was taken by Juan V this past Tuesday when he was here to plant some Toad Lilies, pot my Angusitifolum curry, and to help me keep a drainage problem from getting worse.

My Toad Lilies are indicated by the larger of the two arrows affixed to Juan's image. The vantage point of the image, because it was taken from overhead only gives one a sense of where these plants are located within my garden. However, I have published an entry here on Blogger that features these beautiful plants; and if you'd like to reference, dear reader, please click here.

The smaller arrow is referencing my Angusitifolum curry, which I will write about in the coming days. And the square is highlighting a new centerpiece that's been added to my place. It can be seen in close-up format below.


I am likely to include in a separate blog entry, but the center-piece's photo is here now for purposes of reader known as Sara, for she was instrumental in my having it, and I'd like her to see it, as she lives too far away to travel here.

And with that info, I've digressed enough, for I was speaking about my rear window view being much like Jefferies' except for the garden. The Rear Window character of Jefferie is on my mind today as I have been somewhat confined to my home with a foot injury. I'm not confined to a wheelchair as he was, but I am much more limited in going about my usual routine.

The reason for this being that I have to wear a boot cast which makes it difficult to go up and down the seventy stairs that lead to my place. Going up is actually much better than down in terms of my agility when wearing this cast.

Therefore, I've been attentive to what's going out from the vantage point of my rear window, and have been most fascinated by my view of the array of birds who visit here (as always), especially in relation to "their" wreath-shaped bird feeder that holds the unshelled peanuts that they enjoy eating.

In the following picture, the feeder I'm referring to is indicated with a circle.


In any event, A couple of weeks ago (July 25th), I wrote about a Northern cardinal availing himself of whole peanuts from this feeder. He can be seeing doing this in the next set of pictures.



If you'd like to read about this cardinal's antics and see different images, please click here.

The beaks of a cardinal are designed for un-shelling nuts and seeds which is one topic that is  discussed in the book, Words In Our Beak Volume One. The soft-cover version of this book is  available on MagCloud and it's written in the voice of the female cardinal whose picture is featured on the cover, as evidenced below.


But getting back to my wreath-style bird feeder and the birds who dine from it, sparrows are a bird variety that take pleasure there too, but the task of them eating an unshelled peanut is difficult as their beaks are not designed to open shells!

I suspect this bird type observes other birds eating from the wreath-style feeder and want to get in on the action, even though it is much easier for them to eat from my feeder that contains their favorite seeds (as seen below).


But maybe sparrows are like some people, I'm not naming names, in that they like to have what they see others having! For surely it is much easier for a sparrow to eat something other than a  peanut in the shell! However, it was a sparrow attempting to asses the possible ins and outs of getting some peanut crumbs that kept me watching from my rear window. Take a look (the photos have very subtle differences in order for you to see the time and attentiveness this sparrow put into procuring his food choice).