SoCS: art from friends

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SoCS: sap

I have lived in the Northeast United States for my whole life and soon my thoughts will turn to sap.

Maple trees are plentiful here and are often used for maple syrup production. The sap flows in the spring and is tapped, usually now with lines rather than with spigots and covered buckets as it was done traditionally.

At least, it used to be done in spring when I was a child. What you need for a good flow of sap is days above freezing and nights below freezing. This used to be early spring weather, but now, with climate change and increased volatility of weather, those conditions sometimes happen as early as February.

February is not spring.

Some years, the sap starts to flow in February, but then it gets colder again and stops. If we are lucky, it stops before the trees actually start to bud as the cold weather can then damage the buds and affect the tree for the year.

When I was a child, we used to go to a local sugarhouse during sugaring off and watch as they evaporated the water out of the sap to leave maple syrup. I always liked the lighter, more delicate syrup. The sugarhouse had an attached dining room where you could order great pancakes and waffles, which were served with fresh syrup. Then, my sisters and I would order sugar-on-snow for dessert. They would bring us cake tins full of snow and a pitcher of warm maple syrup. We would drizzle it over the snow and it would instantly congeal into a candy which you could pick up with a fork. You could sometimes even twirl it around the fork like spaghetti. It was delicious, but super sweet, so they would serve it with homemade dill pickles, which were also really good.

It has been many years since I had sugar on snow, but I always keep a supply of real maple syrup at home. I refuse to eat “pancake syrup” which is usually just corn syrup with some maple flavoring thrown in.

In my area now, I usually buy maple syrup from a farmers’ market rather than directly from a sugar house. When I go back to Massachusetts or Vermont, I will sometimes buy syrup there to bring home. Right now, I have a gallon that was made in B’s hometown and about twelve miles from my hometown.

It’s all good.

I do worry, though, about the future of our sugar maples. They are stressed by climate change and the range of the trees is moving north. In the coming decades, we may need to import our maple syrup from Canada. I’m sure it would be as delicious, but probably in short supply, which would be very sad.

I’ll savor my maple syrup all the more now.
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Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and/or Just Jot It January! This week’s prompt was sap/sep/sip/sop/sup. Today’s pingback link is here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/04/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-5th/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/

SoCS: waterfalls

I don’t live near a waterfall, but I like to visit them.

One that is not too far from home is Taughannock Falls in Ithaca. I especially like to walk on the trail to its base. There are a lot of waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region, due to, well, geology…

Of course, these are small falls compared to Niagara Falls, which I saw first as a child and have visited several times as an adult. I love to look at the power of the water and see the mist and occasional rainbows. I also wonder how loud it must have been when it was having its natural flow. For decades now, some of the water has been diverted to harness the hydropower. I admit to having a particular interest in hydropower because I grew up around it. My father worked for many years for New England Power, including lots of years as superintendent of the Upper Deerfield. We often visited the network of dams and hydro stations, including Bear Swamp, a pump storage project that was constructed when I was a child. Some of the dams were designed to spill when the water was too high, looking somewhat like waterfalls. Usually, though, you tried not to spill excess water, as you wanted to store it for generation later.

Some of the most beautiful waterfalls I have seen were in Hawai’i. Because all the islands are volcanoes, the sides are quite steep, giving lots of opportunities for waterfalls to develop. Often, the peaks have hundreds of inches of rain a year, which flows down to meet the surrounding ocean. Often, too, it isn’t raining where the waterfalls are, so there are often rainbows as the sun shines through the mist caused by the falling water. Of course, the beauty of the Hawaiian waterfalls is enhanced by the lush vegetation nearby, watered by the rain falling on the heights of the volcano. Now that E no longer lives in Hawai’i, we haven’t visited recently, but I hope to get back there someday.

Do you have a favorite waterfall?
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This week, Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday was to ask someone for a prompt! I asked my daughter T who gave me the prompt “waterfalls.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/28/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-29-18/

SoCS: cookie time!

There are several tins of delicious cookies sitting on my kitchen counter.

Although I can bake, my spouse B long ago took over making the bulk of the Christmas cookies. Right now, we have cinnamon pizzelles, gingerbread decorated with icing, shortbreads, and cherry pistachio biscotti.

Yum!

Our cookie season is extended more than usual this year because we started with St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6, celebrating with E and ABC before they left for London. We continued our celebration last weekend with my older sister and her husband and we are expecting my younger sister and her family the day after Christmas.

B has made multiple batches of some of the cookies this year, but is making fewer kinds than he has in some years. We often have pfeffernuesse, pecan puffs, and different flavors of pizzelles in our assortment. Also, we sometimes make sugar cookies, including some that look like Reddy Kilowatt in honor of Paco’s many years of service at the New England Power Company.

This year, though, I am happy with fewer types of cookies. Fewer choices to make! It’s hard to have one of each when there are eight or nine types. 😉
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “tin.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/21/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-22-18/

SoCS: Words with Friends?

I’ve run into a bit of a hairy situation with Words with Friends.

I’ve been playing for years with both in-person and longtime Facebook friends. Occasionally, I also play with some friends of friends who challenge me. WWF lets me know in those cases with whom these new challengers are friends.

Lately, I’ve been getting challenges from people I don’t know.

They are all men.

Some of them have a much lower word strength than mine. My average word is 21. Some have no average word strength listed.

I start to send moves and then these guys start to chat. It tends to start with “Hi.” Then they may ask where I am from or start calling me “dear”.

I don’t answer. I don’t talk to strangers online. I’m perfectly willing to play a game but I don’t want to divulge any personal information to somerandomdude27 or whomever.

After a few moves back and forth without my answering the chat, these guys stop sending moves.

And then I win!

This has all happened since I changed my Facebook profile picture back to a picture of me (and a suitcase) after several years of using a photo of me and B on E’s wedding day.

Is it a coincidence that men started to try to chat me up on WWF after I changed to a solo pic?

Probably not…
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “hairy.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/14/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-15-18/

SoCS: a musical controversy

There are radio stations here in the US that play Christmas or holiday music 24/7 for weeks before Christmas.

At least, that is what they say they do.

A lot of the music they play is secular but related to Christmas, being about gifts and Santa Claus and such. Some is more winter-themed than Christmas or New Year related.

There is a musical controversy this year about one piece that is often on the playlist, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

This is definitely one of those pieces that is not related to Christmas at all. It is a winter song though, so some people have conflated it with the holidays.

It is a decades-old song in the pattern of a man/woman duet and is familiar and typical and pleasant enough – if you don’t pay attention to the words.

If you do, as I did last year, you quickly realize that the sub-text – scratch that, text – is pretty creepy. The man, who is trying to get the woman not to leave for home, is trying to get her drunk, with the possible implication that something else has been put in her drink. He is also trying to make her think that she owes it to him to stay and do whatever. (This is a generally family-safe blog, so I won’t speculate on his expectations.)

In recognition of the loaded nature of the song’s text, some radio stations have pulled it from their playlists. Others and some people are adamant that it is just flirting and should be left in the mix.

I adamantly agree with those who want it kept off the air. In these days when consent is part of the conversation for intimacy, a song that flies in the face of that is not a good example for behavior. It is especially hurtful to pretend this is an example of Christmas music. Christmas is about true joy, love, and peace, not coercion and trickery.

I’d rather hear “Silent Night” or “Joy to the World” or any of the dozens of other carols that truly evoke the Christmas season.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “musical.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/07/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-8-18/

SoCS: Ma and ABC

“Ma” is one of the first syllables that babies say, often when they are sad or upset, which is a bit of a bummer for moms to whom this sound is usually attached.

ABC is about to turn eighteen months, so we have been treated to the evolution of “ma”. Right now, it is the sound she makes when she is giving kisses, whether or not these involve physical contact.

It is so sweet at bedtime or other times of the day when she walks or runs over to give a kiss – Mmmmmmmaaaaa!

She and daughter E will leave mid-month to spend four weeks with dad/spouse L in London, where they will have holiday celebrations with her other grandparents, aunt, and extended family.

We will miss them and ABC kisses over the holidays.

Maybe she will kiss the computer screen when we visit digitally as we have seen her do many times when she sees her daddy on the screen…
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “ma”. Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2018/11/30/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-1-18/