It will be a long time before we see anything green or blooming in the Northeast.

Winter is a good time to look for interesting stalks and seed pods in the snow.

Well, this plant is not native to New York, and I think, it’s more interesting than beautiful.

I’ve seen it, in gardens, roadsides and woods, all my life.

Wikipedia indicates that Lunaria annua is naturalized, but native to the Balkans and SW Asia.

In both Europe and Asia, the common names refer to money:  silver dollar plant, the Pope’s money, coins of Judas, etc.

We’ve always called it “honesty.”

In winter, the stalks resemble an abandoned optician’s shop, vandalized by the winter, with old wire-rimmed spectacles, gone cloudy, or missing lenses.

It’s a tough, almost shrubby plant, that needs no care, and produces nice purple flowers, and self-seeds reliably.

The seed pods are brownish, flat, and oval – -you can see one hanging on in the pictures, darkened by exposure.

But when the outer layers drop off, it’s the inner part of the seed pod that a lot of people like to gather – – almost pearly, like discs of translucent parchment or paper.

In the last shot above, the membrane is shredded by the winter weather.  (Tattered honesty, this is New York, after all)

I think the last shot looks a bit sinister, like a display for “Sweeney Todd, Eye Doctor”

If you gather it in the fall, when it’s good and dry, you can slip off the outer covers, scatter the seeds, and bring in the money.

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, Frostbite, Nature, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York. January. Honesty, a bit tattered.

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The fallen tree seems to be a clear message – don’t try walking up the icy stream bed.

Never seen this stream completely frozen before.

Even listening very carefully, I could not hear the faintest burbling sound under the ice.

Even the places that look like water, are just clear pools of ice, on top of the milkier layers.

 

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, Frostbite, Nature, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York ~ January ~ ~ Finger Lakes Forest ~ ~ 5 °F.

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I was taking pictures through a frosted window pane.

This one isn’t the sharpest or most glittery of the bunch, but I somehow like it the best.

 

 

Cold War, Frostbite, photography, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Winter

street lights through a frosty windowpane

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Hello from Boston, Massachusetts, Winter Wonderland!

I haven’t posted any pictures from this town yet.

So I thought I’d send a few cellphone photos, from where we’re holed up,

above the snow line and away from the wolves, atop the Hancock Building.

We’re OK up here for now — we have 7 cans of Sterno, 4 boxes of Saltines, and a whole crate of Ovaltine.

Above is a shot of residents fleeing Boston on snowshoes, over the rooftops.  That’s Quincy Market to the left.

In the next picture, I think the mound at the bottom is the dome of the Statehouse.

 

 

I took a few more pictures from the sledge, when the Lyft dogsledder picked us up.

Here’s the Castle at Park Plaza (on Columbus Avenue)

 

And the entrance to my subway stop on the MBTA line

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And a new advertisement for the ferry to Hingham

 

Dairy aisle in the Whole Foods store.

 

“Looking for the Bus Stop, Friday Night”

 

Heck, I’m from Upstate New York – no worries.

They warned me the Yankees were a bit on the cool side, and a bit of weather doesn’t bother me.

So long for now!  Keep warm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The old pictures are from the Library of Congress.  The engraving is by Conradus Lycosthenes (Switzerland, 1500’s) from the Wellcome Library.  The Retreat from Moscow is from the Saratov National Research State University on behalf of NG Chernyshevsky.
Those are actually New York ice crystals in the last photo, as you can probably tell – – sharp-edged, stony-hearted.

 

 

 

 

Boston, Frostbite, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Winter

Pictures of Boston. January. The Evacuation.

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I figured everybody’s seen a million photos of Niagara Falls, by better photographers than me!  So these are mostly snapshots of the area around the Falls, taken on Saturday.

The freezing spray glazed our coats, so they crackled when we took them off, and added layer after layer of ice to every non-moving object in the area, making a walk kind of tricky, but it’s always very interesting and beautiful to visit the Falls in winter.  Until your blood begins to jell, of course.

1,2 = Coin-operated binoculars, coated with ice and turned into friendly-looking robots.

3-6 = Trees and shrubs covered with ice on Goat Island, in the middle of the Niagara River, and the American side of Falls.

7-13 = getting toward dusk, near Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side.  The Falls are illuminated with colored spotlights.

I hope everybody out there has a wonderful New Year’s, and best wishes for a peaceful, happy 2018.

 

Xmas lights reflected in the ice

 

Canada, Frostbite, NY, photography, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York/Upper Canada. December. Niagara Falls.

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Clean Waters, Finger Lakes, FLX, Ithaca, Nature, NY, photography, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. December. Taughannock Falls. 7℉

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Chanukah, Christmas, food, Itchy Sweaters, music, Sweaters, Uncategorized, United States

Spinning the Seasonal Favorites. Renaissance 33’s & Medieval 78’s.

 

“Traditional holiday music” to me, means scratchy old records.

 

There’s strange-looking people on the covers, with lacquered or pomaded hair, and sweaters.

 

Golf sweaters, cardigans, turtlenecks, enormous cableknits,  cashmere, V-necks, crewnecks.

 

 

How the heck do they get the crewnecks on over that bouffant hair?

 

Or do they just always have the sweaters on, and the hair is shipped in, layered on, and sculpted afterward?  By the same crew that does the artificial snowdrifts.

 

Are Angora, Mohair, and Perry Como Hair all the same substance somehow?

 

These are the same people who engineered Stereophonic Recordings, the tailfins on the ’59 Cadillac Eldorado, and then the Apollo space mission, I guess they could do anything.

All of these inventions were adapted onto Santa’s sleigh.

 

 

I studied these record covers when I was a kid.

 

 

Sometimes the people seemed to have a lot of sideburns & weird sorts of pajamas on, like the crew of the old Star Trek, so I figured there was some connection.

We celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas in my house, and adding in Star Trek just compounded the confusion.

 

 

There seem to be more of these albums around the house every year.

The old folks don’t go to garage sales, so they must have discovered eBay.  Or it may be down to one particular aunt, who’s cleaning out her garage, by UPS’ing everything to my parents.

In the family room, High Fidelity Long-Play albums are gently hissing and crackling on the hifi , and there’s a little wisp of smoke, as if from a tiny Yule log.

But it’s coming from the amplifier – the tubes have really heated up, and are incinerating the dust bunnies.

All 6,327 recordings by the Robert Shaw Chorale

They’re mostly 33 1/3, and full of lovely singing, but I really recommend playing them at least 78 RPM, or you’ll be in an Induced-Eggnog-Zombie-like state until Valentine’s Day.

The Christmas Waltz  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfmcEok4mkE

Dean Martin, well-oiled in hair and spirits, sliding over the artificial snowdrifts in his holiday louche, singing  “Baby It’s Cold Outside”.

It’s a heartwarming tale about getting his date liquored up?

The Scratch’n’Sniff sticker on his old album still works!  It says “Hey, what’s in this drink?” and smells like bourbon, Brylcreem & cigarettes.

A 4-disc set — Arthur Fiedler & The Massed Bagpipes of the Edinburgh Tattoo Presents  “Awa’ ‘n’ Boil Yer Head, Ya Dobber Elf & Other Seasonal Favorites

Impossibly high notes from the King’s College boy’s choir.  The album cover says:  “Festival of Nine Lessons.  And Carols.”

I always figured it was some oldtime singers, like Carol Burnett, Carol Channing, giving the choirboys a hand, but they aren’t listed on the liner notes.

The Nutcracker Suite is magical every time.

I searched for other pieces that use the celesta, that delicate, beautiful little chiming sound – – and ran across Louis Armstrong & his Hot Five!  It’s in the introduction to his 1928 “Basin Street Blues“!  Ok, so that’s holiday music now – – I can see the Sugar Plum Fairy sneaking out of the ballet, picking up Louis, knocking back a few and hitting the town.  You may have to cut & paste the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQBjD06a6l8

Digging farther back into the boxes of records, into the mists of time, the sweaters are now pinkish & woolly mammoth yarn.  Back to the parental units’ high school days, during the Late Middle Ages:  Steeleye Span sings Gaudete, Ex Maria virgine, gaudete Back from the days of Silver Bells, Chestnuts Roasting, Gregorian chants and stuff like that.  Some of the people on the record covers now have braided hair, leather jerkins & tights.  Ancient hippy minstrels wailin’ on wooden flutes, lutes, sackbuts, primitive electric guitars, & whatnot.

What do all these jumbled tunes have in common? They’ve become part & parcel of the jumble of family tradition.

I had to check the spelling of “miscellany” and look at all these lovely synonyms:

salamagundi, medley, hodgepodge, potpourri, mélange

Don’t all these words just look perfect for the holidays?

Our family feast will always have a crazy assortment of foods – – some sort of roast meat, sitting next to the panzanella (in case there’s vegetarian guests), Penna. Dutch pickled eggs & beets, Penna. Dutch pickled piccalilli, Penna. Dutch pickled everything, mulled cider, maybe some borscht (the good kind, not the kind that tastes like beets), maybe this year, some Thai-style shrimp, and then Mexican Wedding Cakes, Hamantaschen, English plum pudding, etc.

Most dishes are attributed to a particular person, many no longer with us.  It will never taste quite as good as when they made it, but we do our very best, to do it right.  This Alka Selzter advertisement of a meal represents all the folks who’ve joined the family over the years.  It’s not very Norman Rockwell-looking, but it’s very American, not the melting pot, but the mixing pot.  Different churches, different faiths, or none at all.  The religious break bread with the pagans.  And what is old & traditional to some, is new and confusing to others.

The music on the old records is a perfect counterpoint – – it’s a crazy mishmash!  Religious, profane, silly.

“Christmas” music encompasses hallowed hymns, ancient carols, Disney tunes, sentimental lounge acts, soul, singing chipmunks, mariachi remixes, etc.   Poems of beauty and spirituality set to music, mix with “fa la la’s” when the carolers forgot the words after a few bowls of wassail.

“White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Let It Snow!” etc. all written by nice Jewish guys.

There are essential messages that come  “upon a midnight clear,” or with the Hanukkah Festival of Lights.  The messages are not confused.  They are absolutely clear and wonderful.

But we’re also allowed to celebrate and even cherish all this crazy confusion  — the old, sometimes cheesy music, the crazy meals,and the crazy relatives.  And different beliefs.

Up & Out of frozen ruts for the new year — try something new and random, mix it up.  There’s an old Royal Navy toast “To the Confusion of Our Enemies,”  but I wish a dash of confusion and mayhem, in the best possible way, for my friends.

We will not always have a perfect comprehension of everything.

We will not always understand everything, and everyone.

Pick out some people who’ve always confused us, and even if we don’t really understand them, be understanding.

We’re never going to understand everything and everyone, but we may just find something new and rewarding amidst the confusion.

I don’t know why people believe what they believe, or like the music they do, or eat beet soup, or wear ugly sweaters, or get religion, or lose faith, or fall in love.

So in the new year, I’m going to try to keep an open mind, even if it means sometimes living in a state of confusion.

I hope everybody is having a lovely merry & muddled ol’ time this holiday season!

 

 

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