A Short Walk in an Arboretum

On Sunday afternoon, June 17, my husband and I took a short trip over to the Morris Arboretum, about 15 minutes from home. We wanted to take a short walk and shake off the effects of sitting all day Saturday at the art show I participated in in Allentown, PA. The Arboretum fit the bill – we’re members, so we can go anytime and stay for as long or short a time as we want. Plus, the Bloomfield Farm side was open this day – unlike the regular grounds that are open daily, this side of the site is not – you have to catch the once-a-month date to see it.

You may remember the Arboretum from previous posts:

and I did an art show there last fall.

So, good, off we went. It was a hot, sunny day, perfect for being outside.

We parked at the lower section of the location and walked across the street to the farm section. Look at the milkweed blooming!

At the farm (it’s called that because of its history, but it is mostly a wild landscape) we passed the education building and equipment sheds with their green roofs – wow, I just loved these. The whole building complex is meant to display methods of sustainability – it captures rainwater and is sited for energy efficiency, among other things.

Even the birdhouses had green roofs.

There are a lot of beehives. I did not venture close. No. I did not.

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We stopped in the gristmill – it’s a real mill that’s been here since the 1700’s and is in the process of being restored step by step. We joined the tour for a short time

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but I wanted to go back outside.

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We wandered down to the community garden. Mint is planted around it – I think deer are put off by mint, maybe? Though there is a fence around the garden as well, more deterrents don’t hurt. Deer are persistent and numerous, being pests, really, in our area. Anyway, the mint crushed in my fingers – ahhh, the smell!

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We wandered through the aisles of the garden. I liked these lettuces wearing hairnets to keep off the sun…

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There was a lot of growing going on, that is for sure.

When we left, we had shaken off our stiffness and felt better for sunshine on our faces.

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Management Says

I went to a meeting in an office building recently and stopped in the bathroom. There I learned some things. From this notice.

Confused Bathroom sign 5-14 31

 

Let me just get you some background. I am one, along with many other ladies, who just doesn’t care about my fellow human beings, loud and proud inconsiderate every single day, and I don’t care who knows it.  That’s the first  “we”. Us bad ones. And Management has noticed and come down from the Management Office to help us along.

Now, read it again, just to stay current.

Confused Bathroom sign 5-14 31

I noted  the “we” taking on another level of meaning, merging into another “we”. The “We” of Management joining itself with us little people. There is just something about a being who refers to itself in the third person that ratchets up my attention, absolutely you bet.

Now I was scolded all right and yet I also felt the hurt that Management feels at my unfairness to whoever it is that is actually following the rules (since I thought “we” all were offending, and now I learn there are those who are not? I am getting so confused).

So, I glanced around the room to make sure I had not offended. That I could move into a higher category. That I could be a good person again.

Confused Bathroom sign 5-14 #2

I felt the glow of Management’s approval of my cooperation and yet, my mind was still at work. I dared to wonder – maybe Management could have just said: Flush. Pick up paper. Keep things nice. Please.

I guess not.

OK, I think I’m done here.  (I scuttle out of the room).

Just a Cute Cat Picture

You know when warmer weather has arrived because our cat, Martok, returns to this cozy little spot for a nap. Never in winter does he venture in this room, but he likes the feeling of being in a nice cool bowl, I think, when things heat up.

It also gives you a tiny shock when you walk into the bathroom thinking you are all alone and – you aren’t. At least he is not hiding in the tub behind the shower curtain or something…

Martok 5-18.jpg

What I Have Learned About Box Elder Bugs

About three weeks ago I took a picture of some insects attending a convention on a post in the Norristown Farm Park. I became interested when I realized what looked like insect-drilled holes on this post were moving.

Box elder #2

And they were not holes, but bugs.

Box elder #3

I got closer and took a few pictures, waving away the intrepid souls who were attracted to me and my nosy ways.

Box elder #1

I walked around the post. The bugs were congregated only on the sunny side.

When I got home I looked up – bug with orange details – and found out that I’d come upon box elder bugs. Never heard of them before.

Turns out they are not remarkable in any way, except to themselves. They feed on seeds and leaves of box elder trees, a variety of maple (never heard of that before, either). In the fall they hibernate (in houses sometimes, which causes consternation among homeowners, but no damage) and in the spring they come out looking for warm spots to get together and work out their dining schedule.

That’s why they were only on one side of the post. It was the warm side.

Well, that’s pretty much it. Box elder bugs and box elders exist, and they seek warmth. The box elder bug story! Say hello if you see one. You’ve now been introduced.

Box elder #4

Over and Over

If you follow my poetry blog you know I visit a site to write poetry once a week, spending the day.

For some time I’ve been going to Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell, PA, to the Brendlinger Library. When I arrive, I usually send my husband a text to let him know I’m there, as I often do when I’m out driving around. Many times I just send a photo.

I realized not too long ago that I’ve gotten into the habit of parking the car and snapping a shot with my phone through the windshield at Montco. I also park in the same lot in about the same place and always facing the same way. I can do this since I get there at the beginning of the day and I have my choice.

I don’t know why it’s pretty much always the same location but we are creatures of habit, aren’t we? And as a practical matter I like to pull through the space, so that I don’t have to back out when I leave.

Anyway, here is the collection I have built up of a very ordinary scene as it passes through time. Sometimes I’m closer to the campus (the photos with trees to the right) and sometimes a little farther out. The Health and Sciences building is off in the distance. The main part of the campus is out of sight to the right – that’s where I go.

 

Came into View

On January 9 my husband and I went to Allentown, PA, to pick up unsold artwork from the Baum School of Art’s holiday show. The school is located in the middle of downtown across the street from the Allentown Art Museum. Both of these places are very familiar to us from years of visiting Allentown.

The city is undergoing a lot of change right now. After declines in industry and manufacturing and a period of drift, the city is renewing itself in a lot of different ways. Its location is advantageous, it has a significant population, there are several colleges in the city, and it borders Bethlehem, PA, another Lehigh Valley city reinventing itself.

Downtown Allentown was further changed by the construction of the PPL Center, home to a minor league hockey team and an Arena football team – not to mention lots of special events. New restaurants and hotels have followed as well as residential apartment construction.

I’m glad to see it. I like Allentown a lot and the city has been good to me as far as my art career. That’s another area undergoing growth – Third Thursday art evenings and plenty of events at the museum, the school, and other art venues in town.

Anyway, driving in, we noticed a building coming down to clear a site for new construction along Hamilton Street.

Once we were finished with our errand we walked a few blocks to take a closer look. I can’t resist watching a building in its demolition process. Here are some pictures.

Here’s part of the building still standing – Hamilton Street facade.

From the side looking toward Hamilton.

Side view. Now it gets interesting. Look at that staircase ghost – think how high the ceilings were in this building.

The handrail is still in place. Somehow that touched my heart. I was thinking of how many hands had slid along the metal in all the years of the building’s life.

My husband directed my attention to the back of the building. The former bathrooms, to be specific. There they are, stacked on above the other.

Now that’s interesting to think about, isn’t it? All this time these rooms were one above the other, completely separated and never to be seen in comparison with each other.

Now I really felt for the building. Bathrooms, well, they are private spaces and now, here they are, front and center.

I don’t know what’s going on this site – it’s being cleared all the way back to the next block. I’ll keep my eye on it.

On the way out of town, we passed West Park, where I have done so many years of Art in the Park. Looks very different from the scene in June, when we are there.

January, 2018.

 

June, 2017.

A nice trip and I’m looking forward to the next time we are there.

A Few Thoughts While on a Cold Day’s Walk

On December 27, last week, I accompanied a friend into West Philadelphia where he was going to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for a medical treatment. I had some time to spend while he was busy and I used it to take a walk around Penn’s campus. Here are a few odds and ends from that little trek.


Penn is a private university, not public (the name throws people off as many state schools are the University of  —-). It’s located in the city and it’s a truly urban campus. Almost 40 years ago, I took a couple of classes here that I needed for my job, in the night school. I’ve been here since then, of course, but not in the past few years. As I walked I reflected on the memories I have of the neighborhood.


Public transit is everywhere – you can take a trolley, bus, elevated train, or get over to 30th Street train station and go anywhere in the United States.

Streets and buildings.

You can see Center City Philadelphia about 20 blocks or 2 miles away.

Did I tell you it was a miserably cold day? Well, it was, in the low 20’s. So outdoor scenes were deserted, no surprise, and it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that school was closed for the holidays, either. People are still around. But they are not out enjoying the fresh air.

I walked up the street and faced this building:

I wondered if this was the Charles Addams I am familiar with – you know, the creator of the Addams Family of print, cartoons, and TV fame? I turned into the walkway. Yes, it is. This sight made it clear.

At home I looked up Charles Addams and learned that he went to school here in the 1930’s.

A few steps further on I saw this gate – and I spent quite a bit of time examining it. Each hand holds some tool or implement used in art making. Absolutely fascinating and beautiful.

Finally, the Addams building and I are the same age.

I liked the look of the screen wall treatment for this building – I think it was a parking garage or else the utility level of the building.

These creepy dolls were in the window of an antique store, and let me tell you that I was glad they were on the other side of the glass and could not directly catch my eye. They look like they have malevolent intentions.

First I noticed this building because we have the same first name.

Looking up, I see it used to be called something else.

I would not like to have my name changed without my permission. It seems disorienting, to say the least. Looking up this building’s history later, I found that it has had a several different uses as well. If you live long enough, well, things change.

On my way back to the hospital to meet my friend, I took these pictures of the kind of notices you see plastered all over light poles and the like. I have noticed that they tend to be quite local in their subjects. Notice the one refers to Penn Medicine – guess what – it was right across the street from the hospital. My theory continues to hold up.

Well, I went back inside the building, ready to get back into a warm place. A nice walk around campus, I thought.

Getting the Hurt Leg Fixed, Epilogue

To remind you, this story started on Christmas, 2016, when my husband fell down the stairs and completely severed his left quadriceps tendon. This serious injury cannot heal by itself and required surgery, done on January 6, 2017. He went home in a brace, unable to bend his leg for weeks or even touch it to the floor. He required assistance with every detail of living, and so I was fully occupied for months. Remember this scene from Chapter One – in the hospital awaiting surgery?

 

January 6, 2017.

You can read the previous post in the Hurt Leg series, which will lead you to the earlier ones – but I’m writing a tiny update here. Really, the story will never be finished; an injury like this one leaves behind complications and changes that do heal, but physically and mentally, a scar remains.

But this is the Epilogue, so let me get on with epilogue-ing. We decided to revisit the hospital on Christmas Day 2017, walking in under our own power, to eat lunch in the hospital cafeteria. One year earlier, we did the same before we left for home to start the long healing journey. I particularly remember this occasion as a near meltdown for me as I tried to push my husband in a wheelchair while carrying two plates with grilled cheese sandwiches on them.

A cafeteria employee helped us out last year, getting us to a table. This year we did it on our own. We chose grilled cheese sandwiches again to commemorate the earlier meal.

This section of the cafeteria where we chose to sit is new – I guess they reclaimed space from another section of the building, because it was not here last year. We amused ourselves by watching cars coming into the garage outside the window – see that yellow bar at the entrance? You’d be surprised how many cars barely fit under it, or, in one case, have to back out, confusing a line of cars behind it.

But they all cooperated and got it worked out in the end.

Let me tell you, it was a great feeling to be leaving the hospital in good health and needing no repairs. I’m glad we made this little trip – it seemed fitting to mark the anniversary of what for us was a life-changing event.

Christmas evening we attended a party at the home of our friends and neighbors, John and David. We helped set up the luminaries along the driveway for them earlier in the afternoon. How nice to be able to accomplish that task with knees that work well!

We are thankful for everyone who helped us in the last year and for all our good friends. Here is to 2018, here is to our own lights shining, and here is to being illuminated by the lights of the others in our lives.

On the Run

Let’s say you are getting off the exit at Paper Mill Road off 309, Springfield Township. You look to your right as you come up to the light.

You look some more.

You look some more. What is that dangling from the branches of that tree? Some new kind of fruit, just now revealed by the leaves falling?

Look one more time.

OK, I’ll explain. Behind that fence someone had planted gourds in a garden. The vines left home and traveled up that tree perched in the no-man’s land at the highway exit. Gourds like to hang as they grow, so the vine made a great decision.

I love seeing the triumph of ingenuity and the motivation of hope, no matter who is exercising it!

Corn and Soy and Harvest

On November 12, my husband and I went to Norristown Farm Park to take a walk. The temperature was right around freezing; in fact, we’d had a hard frost the night before, first one of this season.

We wanted to see the state of the harvest. As you know, this park is a working farm, carrying on a 100+ year-old tradition. Formerly part of the state mental hospital property and tended by patients in years past, it is now a county park. Corn and soy are grown over much of the grounds.

My husband had been in the park earlier in the week and observed the harvesters at work. Now that they are finished and gone, things are very different. The roads in the park had felt very enclosed by the 8 ft. tall corn; now it is possible to see great distances across the land. The surrounding roads and suburban development are visible after having been hidden for the last six months from park-goers in the interior.

Still, the park is large and in most places you can imagine yourself quite alone.

The row patterns are revealed now that the corn is cut down.

Take a look at the same location with the passing of two months:

And you may be wondering about the soy crop, as so far I have only shown corn. Our walk did not take us up into the main soy fields, but we skirted the lower edge of one I showed a couple of weeks ago. The soy looked like this in the field at that time.

It has all been cut and the fields are bare now.

November.

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