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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday's Truths Week Twenty-Six Answering One of Holden Caulfield's Questions

Welcome to week twenty-six of my Tuesday's Truths series here on Blogger; and it's already the last day of the month for 2017! Be that as it may, this past Sunday, I was in NYC's Central Park; and as it often happens when I'm there, I was entertained by a number of ducks, a bird type that spends a good deal of time in the park's bodies of water. The weather was very mild on that day, considering it is the month of January! A number of folks and members of various wild life communities, were taking advantage of the warm sun. this is evidenced by the photo of a female duck seen in the image atop this entry, where she appears to be acting as a music conductor!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Musings

I came across this and think #BettyWhite's attitude is a nice way to embrace in starting the new week and beyond.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

For Conor McDonald on his 30th Birthday

Today is the thirtieth birthday of Conor McDonald. He can be seen in the picture atop this entry with his father, NYPD Detective Steven McDonald who died as the result of a heart attack, nineteen days ago on January 10, 2017; at age fifty-nine.

According to a news alert, "Steven McDonald was his son’s present age, 29, when he was shot in the head, throat and spine by a troubled, teenaged shooter on July 12, 1986. It happened in Central Park. Steven McDonald was newly married and his wife, Patti Ann, was three months pregnant when the shooting happened.

"Conor Patrick McDonald was born on Jan. 29, 1987, and he was baptized by John Cardinal O’Connor in Bellevue Hospital on Steven McDonald’s 30th birthday.

"Over the years, the family marched together in the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

"In 2010, Conor followed his father into the NYPD. In 2016, Stephen McDonald beamed with pride, wearing his dress uniform, when his son was promoted on two different occasions at Police Headquarters: first to detective, and later in the year to sergeant.

"After Steven McDonald suffered a massive heart attack on Jan. 6, Conor kept a vigil at his father’s bedside with his mother.

"On Sunday morning, he posted a Facebook photo of him marching next to his dad’s wheelchair in a recent Saint Patrick’s Day parade.

"Now, he’s sharing a photo (the one atop this entry) that speaks volumes about the love and respect they had for each other.

'"I’ll see you on the other side Daddio,” he wrote. “I love you forever.'"

Conor McDonald is blessed to have the gift of faith and the assurance that he will see his "Daddio" on the "other side," but I'm still including Paul Simon's song about a parent (albeit a mother but it could easily be a father) and child's reunion being "only a motion away." 

I hope for the sake of Patti Ann, (Conor's mother) that "motion away" will not be for quite sometime, but I thought I'd send out the song to him on what might be a mournful birthday.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

It's The Year of The Rooster!

Happy Chinese New Year!

It's the Chinese New Year! And this time, it's The Year of The Rooster! In honor of the occasion, I've placed a figurine depicting a rooster in my home (he can be seen in the image atop this blog entry).

I was not born in The Year of The Rooster, rather I was born in The Year of The Horse. And during the Chinese New Year of 2014 (which was The Year of The Horse), I paid homage to the event by writing a post for hometalk and by placing a figurine depicting a horse within my home.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Honoring J.D. Salinger re Central Park Ducks

Seven years ago today, on January 27, 2010, the writer, J.D. Salinger died. He was was ninety-one years old. Salinger has been on my mind these days, especially fifteen days ago, January 12th, when I took a walk in NYC's Central Park. For on that day, I noticed that the lake which "serves" the area near to The Boat Basin was completely frozen. Normally there are a vast number of Canadian geese and ducks in that lake, but on this particular day, there were none in sight.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday's Truths WK 25: Time to MOVE ON! (But Proceed With Caution)

Welcome to Week 25 of my Tuesday's Truths series here on Blogger! I wasn't able to publish an entry for this series last week (1-17-17) because of a malfunction in equipment that impacted my ability to work on-line. GRRR. And if another Tuesday truth be told, I got caught up in the frenzy of the then upcoming USA presidential inauguration (which took place on 1-20-2017). But time marches on!

Today, January 24th, 2017, marks the forty- first anniversary of my grandfather's death. He can be seen in the image atop this blog entry. I've been told that this was his confirmation picture, although I have no idea of when or where he was confirmed. Religion and/or going to church was not a topic of conversation I had with him.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Strong, Strong Winds

I confess I decided to post this song by Heart, after hearing that we will be having some strong, strong winds (think the nor'easter variety) in NYC today!

Although I've seen this Heart's album cover countless times, I hadn't noticed it featured an image of a male cardinal! How cool is that? Especially since I helped this bird type, albeit, the female variety, write the book, Words In Our Beak Volume One, which among many things, raises awareness about the plight of wild birds!

P.S. Volume Two will include how nor'easter's impacted migration re NYC birds!


The non-hardcover version (or versions)  of Volume One within the Words In Our Beak book series that are mentioned in this entry may only remain available for a limited time, but hardcover versions of Volume One, Two and Three can now be found wherever books are sold. Please click here to go to my blog post that provides details as to where you can get these books.


Additionally, I have rendered some images from these books into other formats and they are available via Fine Art America (FAA). Some of my other photographs (Black & White Collection, Kaleidoscopic Images and the famous Mandarin duck who visited NYC) can also be found on my FAA pages.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

In Honor of Squirrel Appreciation Day

Today marks another holiday known as Squirrel Appreciation Day. According to Holiday Insights (HI) this day "is an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate your tree climbing, nut gathering neighborhood squirrels. (And) It's held in mid-winter when food sources are scarce for squirrels and other wildlife."

HI admits that "Not everyone likes squirrels. While they are fun to watch skirting around the yard and trees, they are aggressive at bird feeders. Squirrels tip almost any bird feeder and spill the seeds in search of the particular seeds they want."

This is evidenced in the Mutts comic strip posted atop this blog entry.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Can this Penguin Awareness Day inspire a holiday honoring female cardinals?

Today, January the 20th is Penguin Awareness Day, and in a little over four months on April 25th, it will be World Penguin Day! Holiday Insights (HI) writes "These are great opportunities to learn about and appreciate one of the few natives of Antarctica (and they suggest that) on these days, (one should) spend a little time learning about them (by referring to) a pictorial book or internet."

HI reminds its readers that re in honor of penguin awareness, one "can also watch a documentary of these cute and popular, grounded birds."

They also state that these penguin holidays "are also a time to wear black and white---penguin colors. However, wearing a tuxedo in their honor is optional." And HI proclaims that "World Penguin Day coincides with the annual northward migration of penguins. This happens each year on or around April 25th. Penguins do not fly. Rather, they walk, or waddle their way to and from."

Moreover, they explain that "penguins are found in Antarctica, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, the Falkland Islands, and the Galapagos Islands. Elsewhere, they are only found in zoos."

Cam, the feisty cardinal, who voiced her opinions in the book, Words In Our Beak, Volume One, is hoping that her literary accomplishment will drum up interest in the development of a holiday that honors female cardinals!

Did you know that her bird type is one whom ornithologists describe as "dull in appearance," which is hardly the case, as evidenced in the following images (all taken in my urban garden that's on a rooftop in NYC).

The images along with many more are included in both the iBook and ePub version of her book.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hats Off to Chris Deatherage on N'tl Hat Day!

It's National Hat Day! According to Holiday Insights (HI), January the 15th is the time to celebrate this holiday! HI proclaim that "National Hat Day is set aside to wear and enjoy a hat of your choice and style...  (and) back in 1797, the introduction of the Top Hat almost caused a riot. The top hat was first worn by James Heatherington in London England. As Heatherington strolled through the streets of London, England displaying his Top Hat, crowds gathered, Some people began to push and shove. Heatherington was fined for 'going about in a manner that frightened timid people.'"

As you can see from the copy of a recent Mutts strip posted atop this entry, James Heatherington, is not the only one who appreciates top hats! It seems the Mutt's character known as Ozzie appreciates them too!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Remembering Steven McDonald

Today the city of NYC, where I live, hosted a funeral for Detective Steven McDonald. He died on January 10, 2017, at the age of 59, after suffering a massive heart attack that he suffered a few days prior. McDonald can be seen here in the picture atop this entry (it's from a web-page featuring a number of images of him).

Many New Yorkers, like myself, remember when McDonald was shot on July 12, 1986. The shooting left him a quadriplegic. However, the incident that left him paralyzed is not the only thing that many New Yorkers will remember about Steven McDonald. They will likely always remember how he forgave Shavod Jones, the boy (who was fifteen at the time), that shot McDonald.

Several accountings (including one that you may refer to by clicking here) state that McDonald maintained that he believed," the only thing worse than receiving a bullet in my spine would have been to nurture revenge in my heart. Such an attitude would have extended my injury to my soul, hurting my wife, son, and others even more. It’s bad enough that the physical effects are permanent, but at least I can choose to prevent spiritual injury."

A number of years ago, I happen to have had the opportunity to meet Detective Steven McDonald, at my then parish, The Church of the Blessed Sacrament. He came to give a talk on the power of forgiveness at a Lenten series that we were offering. It was very powerful.  May he rest in peace! And, may his widow, Patti Ann, and their son, Conor (who recently became a police officer) be consoled re McDonald's passing, and may they continue to thrive in their faith.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday's Wisdom: Ode to Oscar Wilde

According to a number of sources, including Holiday Insights (HI) tomorrow, January 12th is yet another holiday. It is known as Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day! HI has the following info re this event: "Splash Your Friends Day is undoubtedly a day just for mischievous fun. After all, any kid knows that splashing and jumping into puddles is fun. And, when that results in splashing a friend, your joy is complete."

They also state, "We sure would like to find the creators of this day, to better understand why it is observed in January. In mid January, many puddles are frozen!"

AND HI makes a disclaimer re this holiday, saying, "We don't encourage you to splash your friends. It's a quick way to lose a friend, and get two moms angry at you. We're just reporting and describing the day!"

Knowing this fact regarding today, makes me think that Oscar Wilde might have re-thought his opinion when he stated, "It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information."

In any event, the figurine pictured atop this blog entry probably doesn't find Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day to be "useless information."  As you can see, she looks well-dresseed for this occasion!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tuesday's Truths WK 24: Honoring David Bowie

It's week twenty-four in my Tuesday's Truth series. In honor of the anniversary of David Bowie's death, here is a link which features him in bygone years where he is singing The Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby.

And a figurine rendered in the drummer boy's likeness can be seen in the following picture. This image also featured in a posting that I wrote for hometalk (HT) that you may refer to by clicking here.

The aforementioned HT includes a view of my figurine appearing in a crèche that I had in my home at the time of that publication and a copy of of this "scene" image can be seen below.

And last year, the same drummer boy played his drum within a different crèche scene (seen below) that was also in my home.

He came back again to play his drum this year, which can be seen in the following image.

As is his standard, my little drummer boy likes to be surrounded by figurines. A majority of the array of figurines seen in these images came from More & More Antiques, the shop in Manhattan's UWS which is now selling my fauna-flora-insect-themed postcards.

Monday, January 9, 2017

SOME GOOD NEWS re The Galette des Rois! (It's available the whole month of January!)

Last night I celebrated Epiphany with two friends and one of them brought his chow chow (Ulysses), seen in the photograph above, wearing a crown in honor of the event. You might recognize him because I've written about this dog in prior posts here on Blogger. He is wearing, a type of crown that I have discussed in entries that I've written (in bygone years), that are related to the celebration of Three Kings Day, as well as the celebration of Epiphany.

This crown variety comes with Galette des Rois; a traditional treat which I have served — for a number of years —in honor of this occasion. It had been my habit to get my Galette des Rois at a bistro-bakery just around the corner from me, which is something I wrote about for hometalk a few years ago.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Today (1-7) is a WHITE CHRISTMAS in NYC! (For Orthodox Christmas)

It's nearly two weeks since many folks that I know in NYC celebrated Christmas! We did not have  a white Christmas just like the ones we used to know — no matter how much we dreamt of them with every Christmas card we wrote! Now, almost two weeks later, we are having snow fall in the city, as evidenced by the following images of Christmas decor that is still in my urban garden which is on a rooftop in NYC!

As you can see, I still have my two Christmas trees standing in my garden. The first of the two images directly above features my exotic Christmas tree. It's a Canadian Palm tree that I featured in a prior entry here on Blogger. The second photo features my "normal" Christmas tree (located in the back-center of the image). This particular tree is for the birds! I say this because I decorated it with several bird feeders.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Epiphany, The Feast of The Three Kings

Today, January Sixth is Epiphany, The Feast of The Three Kings. According to a web-page for Christmas Customs and Traditions, "Epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas on 6th January (or January 19th for some Orthodox Church who have Christmas on 7th January) and is the time when Christians remember the Wise Men (also sometimes called the Three Kings) who visited Jesus.

"Epiphany is also when some Churches remember when Jesus was Baptised, when he was about 30, and started to teach people about God. Epiphany means 'revelation' and both the visit of the Wise Men and his Baptism are important times when Jesus was 'revealed' to be very important.

"Some Churches celebrate use Epiphany to celebrate and remember both the visit of the Wise Men and Jesus's Baptism!

"Epiphany is mainly celebrated by Catholics and Orthodox Christians. It's a big and important festival in Spain, where it's also known as 'The festival of the three Magic Kings' - 'Fiesta de Los tres Reyes Mages', and is when Spanish and some other Catholic children receive their presents - as they are delivered by the Three Kings!"

New York City  (where I live) also honors this day with The Three Kings Day Parade which takes place in the East Harlem area. For years I've wanted to see the parade, this year I finally it! The photograph atop this entry features a banner that I saw at the event.

Normally, live animals, including camels participate in this annual festivity. However, it such a cold day that the animals who normally are a part of the parade had to pass it up. But one young woman did a work around and came dressed (in a costume that she made) as a camel, evidenced by the following pictures.

Others came dressed as donkeys and there were a number of folks who dressed up as The Three Kings.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

January the Fifth is for (some of) the birds!

Earlier today, I posted some facts regarding this date of January 5th, stating that it is the twelfth day of Christmas and mentioned that some folks will be participating in Twelfth Night celebrations. But this not the only event being honored! For according to Holiday Insights (H.I.), "National Bird Day is celebrated on January 5th."  H.I; in an attempt to clarify one bird related holiday from another states the following:

"Bird Day is the oldest of the days set aside to recognize birds. According to the U.S. Library of Congress, Bird Day was first observed  on May 4, 1894. It was started by Charles Almanzo Babcock, superintendent of schools in Oil City, Pennsylvania. By 1910, Bird Day was widely celebrated, often in conjunction with Arbor Day. Bird Day and Arbor Day events are focused upon conservation training and awareness.

"National Bird Day was established by bird activists. It calls upon people to recognize the plight of captive birds. It also draws attention to exploitation of birds in the U.S. pet industry. On this day, organizers suggest we reflect upon the conditions of birds held in captivity. Note: Our research did not find any documentation that this is a "National" day, which requires an act of congress.

"International Migratory Bird Day celebrates the incredible journey that migratory birds take each year. They travel thousands of miles between breeding grounds in North America, and their winter homes in Central and South America. Organizers say this is a day to both support, and to increase awareness of conservation efforts in support of migratory birds. They also suggest a field trip into a woods to look for and enjoy migrating birds."

Furthermore, H.I. suggests that on this National Bird Day (as well as all bird-related holidays) that folks be more observant of our feathered friends. This always a great thing to do, but, it's also great to give the gift of birds to a fauna lover on this day.

On another note, I have a confession to make re my own observation of my visiting birds! As I was typing this I heard a lot of commotion in my kitchen and thought it was a mouse! Turns out a little male house finch (a bird type that is featured in Cam's book) had gotten inside by going through a very small opening in my window! Before attempting to help him make an exit, I tried to get a photo!

BUT it turns out the memory card wasn't in my camera! I'll have to rely on my own memory re this encounter and turn to the wisdom of E.B. White's aunt which I've referenced here on Blogger in the past, stating:

"When a missed opportunity like this occurs, I try to console myself with the wisdom that E.B. White spoke of in his essay, 'Remembrance is Sufficient.' An excerpt from this can be found below:

"'...A few weeks ago she (White's aunt) said something so close to the theme of Christmas that we shall quote it here... We were apologizing for have taken her for a motor ride that morning to see once again the bright colors of the woods. 'Why, my dear,' she said without hesitation, 'remembrance is sufficient of the beauty we have seen.'"

Therefore, instead of bemoaning that I wasn't on point to document my visitor's very short stay (he figured out how to get out of Dodge...), I'm very flattered to have been in his presence. And to think he visited me on National Bird Day!

Today, 1-5-2017, is The 12th Day of Christmas! (It's also time to go a-wassailing!)


Today, 1-5-2017, is The 12th Day of Christmas! (It's also time to go a-wassailing!)

According to a web-page, "At the start of Twelfth Night the Twelfth Night cake was eaten. This was a rich cake made with eggs and butter, fruit, nuts and spices. The modern Italian Panettone is the cake we currently have that's most like the old Twelfth Night cake.

"A dried pea or bean was cooked in the cake. Whoever found it was the Lord (or Lady) of Misrule for night. The Lord of Misrule led the celebrations and was dressed like a King (or Queen). This tradition goes back to the Roman celebrations of Saturnalia. In later times, from about the Georgian period onwards, to make the Twelfth Night 'gentile', two tokens were put in the cake (one for a man and one for a women) and whoever found them became the the 'King' and 'Queen' of the Twelfth Night party.

"In English Cathedrals during the middle ages there was the custom of the 'Boy Bishop' where a boy from the Cathedral or monastery school was elected as a Bishop on 6th December (St Nicholas Day) and had the authority of a Bishop (except to perform Mass) until 28th December. King Henry VIII banned the practise in 1542 although it came back briefly under Mary I in 1552 but Elizabeth I finally stopped it during her reign.

"During Twelfth Night it was traditional for different types of pipes to be played, especially bagpipes. Lots of games were played including ones with eggs. These included tossing an egg between two people moving further apart during each throw - drop it and you lose and passing an egg around on spoons. Another popular game was 'snapdragon' where you picked raisins or other dried fruit out of a tray of flaming brandy!

"The first monday after Christmas feast has finished was known as ‘Plough Monday’ as this was when farming work would all begin again!

"In many parts of the UK, people also went Wassailing on Twelfth Night."

Christmas Customs and Traditions explains that "Wassailing is a very ancient custom that is rarely done today. The word 'wassail' comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase 'waes hael', which means 'good health'. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. It was served from huge bowls, often made of silver or pewter. Jesus College, in Oxford University, has a Wassail bowl, that is covered with silver. It can hold 10 gallons of drink! Wassailing was traditionally done on New Year's Eve and Twelfth Night, but some rich people drank Wassail on all the 12 days of Christmas! The Wassail drink mixture was sometimes called 'Lamb's Wool', because of the pulp of the roasted apples looked all frothy and a bit like Lambs Wool!" 

And they offer a recipe for wassail which can be found by clicking here. Christmas Customs and Traditions also states "one legend about how Wassailing was created, says that a beautiful Saxon maiden named Rowena presented Prince Vortigen with a bowl of wine while toasting him with the words 'waes hael'. Over the centuries, a great deal of ceremony developed around the custom of drinking wassail. The bowl was carried into a room with a great fanfare, a traditional carol about the drink was sung, and finally, the steaming hot beverage was served."

Supposedly, "from this it developed into a another way of saying Merry Christmas to each other! (and) one of the most popular Wassailing Carols went like this:

"Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wassailing,
So fair to be seen:

Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you,
A happy New Year,
And God send you, A happy new year."

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wednesday's Wisdom: Christmas's 11th Day (Info Re the Gift of Ladies Dancing)

Today's the eleventh day of Christmas! And, if you are familiar with the song known as The Twelve Days Of Christmas, dear reader, then you probably will recall that on the eleventh day of Christmas, someone's true love gave to them the following gifts: eleven ladies dancing, ten pipers piping, nine drummer's drumming, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four birds a calling (or a colling or a coaling), as well as the gifts of three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

As I mentioned in a recent posting here on Blogger, John R. Henderson, has studied the meaning behind the lyrics to the twelve days song, and has posted his findings on a web-page which he has titled the 12 Birds of Christmas. Here's what Henderson points out the giving of eleven ladies dancing on this eleventh day of Christmas:

"The dancing, of course, is a code word for passion and courtship. The dancing ladies are Lapwings that wildly wheel, roll, and tumble in the air during courtship displays. Eleven is a lucky number, but, of course, luck is a dual force that might bring good or ill. On this day of dancing, passion, and courtship, let's hope this day brings us good luck (knock on wood)."

As of this blog posting, I don't recall ever seeing a bird type known as a Lapwing! Be that as it may, Mr. Henderson's ideas have truly given me something to keep in mind if I ever happen to see this bird type. Therefore, for purposes of this posting, the gift of eleventh ladies dancing on this eleventh day of Christmas, will have to be represented by the bird-lady dancing ornament seen in the photo atop this blog posting.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Yet Another (and the best) Tuesday's Truths Regarding WK 23: I'm STILL Remembering my Aunt Grace Fitchie

Today, January the third, in addition to being the eleventh day of Christmas, which I discussed here on Blogger this morning, is the day my great aunt Grace Fitchie was born; over one hundred years ago! She is pictured in the photograph posted above, standing in the middle of the last row next to my grandmother, Clara May, who is at Grace's left side. I blogged about Grace Fitchie in January of 2011 and prior to that, I published a post here in February of 2010.

Aunt Grace was an influence on my knowing the value of sending cards. One that she sent me, over fifty years ago, (pictured below) is still an impetus for me to continue to persevere in the new year with my designs of cards.

At this juncture of my endeavor, these are in postcard format and feature fauna, flora and insects as subjects. Thumbnails of these cards can be seen in the following images.

But getting back to Aunt Grace's card, I received it in the summer before I was to enter junior high school which is something I've mentioned here on Blogger, stating,"That summer had been hard. I was very overwhelmed: My father had moved away the year prior, my Neurofibromatosis was now causing bumps to appear everywhere on my body. I wanted contact lenses, because my left eye was frequently turning inward from the lack of acuity  that it had, and my eye-doctor had told my parents that contacts would help with this problem as well as help to correct my low vision. Additionally, I would be attending a new school in the fall —the junior high school — where I would be going from room to room for various classes as opposed to having everything taught in one room, and I  was nervous I would not have time between classes to arrive on time. I even thought of my possibly missing the elementary school kids despite the fact that they didn't pick me to be on their Murder Ball team because of my low depth perception causing me to be an 'easy-out.' At least they had seen my physical problems and the teasing me about them had subsided; now I'd have to start all over again by being with different kids."

Another Tuesday's Truth: Week Twenty-Three: Christmas Candy Canes

Look up in the air! It's a bird! It's a plane!'s a candy cane! (Albeit, a candy cane-themed ballon — known as the red candy cane — as it appeared in bygone years when participating in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade!) And with that fact, I welcome you, dear reader, to part two of week twenty four of Tuesday's Truths where I'll share some interesting facts re this well known candy that is normally served during the Christmas season (which is still today, the tenth day of Christmas).

Tuesday's Truths: Week 23: Ten Lords A Leaping

Welcome to the twenty-third week of my Tuesday's Truths series! Today also happens to be the Tenth day of the twelve days of Christmas! [This post is in the process of being updated.]

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Octave (or The Eighth Day) Of Christmas AND The Start of a NEW YEAR!

It's the first day of a new year! I'm wondering, dear reader, how did you ring in 2017? As for me, I spent mine doing my usual routine of seeing an annual display of fireworks (sponsored by The Midnight Run) in near by Central Park. This event is something I've blogged about since 2010 (at the end of my first full year on Blogger)!

The photographs atop this entry feature some of the images that I took of last night's fireworks display; and as you can see, they certainly lit up the trees and the sky! I can't help wondering what this does to any birds that might've been sleeping in those tree-tops!

In any event, today is also the last day of Chanukah as well as the last day of Kwanzaa. Moreover, it's The Octave of Christmas or the eighth day of Christmas; the day when someone's true love gave to them the following gifts: eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four birds a calling (or a colling or a coaling), as well as the gifts of three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

As I mentioned in a recent posting here on Blogger, John R. Henderson, has studied the meaning behind the lyrics to the twelve days song, and has posted his findings on a web-page which he has titled the 12 Birds of Christmas. Here's what Henderson points out re a bird type associated with the giving of eight maids a milking on this eighth day of Christmas:

"Here be eight Magpies. Magpies are black birds with milky white patches. Magpies are birds full of power and are portents used in fortune-telling. Eight has many different meanings symbolically, but one very important one is a new beginning. Different numbers of magpies can mean different things, "five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never told," but eight magpies remind us to put the old behind us as we start afresh. It seems significant but must be only a coincidence that by some reckoning that New Year's Day is the Eighth Day of Christmas."

At this time, I don't recall ever seeing a magpie, although I certainly have heard a lot of interesting facts re this bird type.  Be that as it may, Mr. Henderson's ideas have truly given me something to keep in mind if I ever happen to see a magpie.

Meanwhile, the gift of eight maids a milking on this eighth day of Christmas, will have to be represented by the ornament featured in the image directly below.

I got it at More & More Antiques, an (an exquisite shop located on Manhattan's UWS), that is now selling my fauna-flora-insect-themed postcards.