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.

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.


Soy. Just Soy.

Ho much do you know about growing soybeans? If you are me, not much.

I got curious about it as I’ve been noting the fields at the Norristown Farm Park, where we run or walk among acres of corn and soy. This park is still a working farm; its past is that of a farm attached to the Norristown State Hospital, where patients worked the fields as part of their treatment years ago. In the past, it was thought healthful for mental patients to have occupation, and this land grew all kinds of crops plus housing a dairy herd and trout farm.

These fields were green earlier this year and have turned golden and now faded to this tan color.

Details of the plants, photos taken last weekend:

I took a small stalk home, as I wondered when the harvest would occur and I wanted to inspect the plant more closely.

I learned through some internet research that the plants must be thoroughly brown and dried before they will be harvested. You can see the stalk of this plant is still a little green.

I took some photos for details.

Now I understand what will happen next. One day a harvester will come through the fields and the soybeans taken away, the fields shorn down.

I like being informed about what I see going on around me. Even if it is just – soybeans.

Look Up to the Sky

October is a time for beautiful skies in my area, the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. Take a look at these photos.

October 11, red sky at morning – sunrise. Taken from my house, looking out into the back yard.

Glenside/Jenkintown, PA, October 16, taken as we were driving to the grocery, about 7:15 AM.

Another sunrise from my back yard. October 19.

Another Haven

About 15 minutes from my house are the Whitemarsh Foundation properties, preserved land that includes an open space area, a historic farm, and the Dixon Meadow House. This farm is privately owned but protected from development; the open space is for the public to wander and enjoy; the house is used for various activities related to the land.

This location is very near Chestnut Hill College, Morris Arboretum, and the beginning of the Green Ribbon Trail. All of these locations lie in or near the watershed of the Wissahickon Creek.

Earlier this week I took a short trip to this peaceful spot. Here’s a view from the house, where I parked the car:

and here is the view from the opposite site of the open space – you can see the house off in the distance.

There is a boardwalk across the wetlands section and I saw a lot of milkweed.


I also saw a LOT of large milkweed bugs. The season is coming to an end for them.

Whitemarsh #7 10-3-17002


Whitemarsh #6 10-3-17001

I noticed tiny orange insects on a few pod stems.

I did a little research and I think these are milkweed aphids. Opinions seems to be that they are not harmful, or maybe they are a little harmful, but what it takes in getting rid of them is more detrimental. It also seems that not much is known about these insects. Maybe people are paying more attention now that milkweed is being grown on purpose, rather than being seen as just a weed taken for granted. Monarch butterflies have friends and friends of monarchs like milkweed, so I have the feeling there will be more information coming along.

I am happy to have this location for me to enjoy and for the monarchs, other butterflies, grasshoppers galore, and lots of birds to have a place to thrive.

Walk Through A Changing Landscape

Since my husband changed offices, from the city to the suburbs, he has been exploring different places to walk – necessary rehabilitation of his serious knee injury nine months ago. He has found some places we never knew existed. I’ll show you one today.

It’s the Gwynedd Wildlife Preserve, a property of Natural Lands, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and restoring land in the eastern PA – southern NJ area.

This property was a farm for over a century. It’s now located in suburbia, about five minutes from Montgomery County Community College (of poetry marathon and Senior Games fame). The idea is to return the land to a native state. The site has different areas in transition; there are a lot of open fields as well as some wooded areas.

The preserve also connects to the Green Ribbon Trail, which winds along within the Wissahickon Creek watershed. (We hope to connect with and check out this end of the trail soon; you might remember me mentioning it in connection with a section I frequent, some miles away, nearer my house).

My husband was very enthusiastic about the site. So we went for a walk there on Sunday morning, October 1. We parked in their tiny lot and started out up the blacktop road.

There are several well-marked trails designated by color, but you can wander around without worrying too much about it, as long as you have some sense of direction. I think I’ll just show you pictures and describe them, since we did just that – wander.

Here is what a lot of the place looked like. Mowed paths and long views. You would have no idea that a lot of people live very near.

This caterpillar crossed our path. The photo is blurry because my hand shook, not because he was moving so fast. We saw a lot of these little guys on the ground. I love them; I like their outfits and their sense of purpose.

There was a pile of split wood near the office/garage. Look at the insect holes – what a pattern.

I do not know what kind of tree this was but I liked the leaves.

This bush also is unknown to me, but I like the dark berries and the sparkly sunlight coming through the leaves.

How about this birdhouse? I loved the look of it up there on this tall pole.

A good portion of the site is wooded. We went through two sections, this one pictured here, and then we crossed the road into another section.

After we finished walking in the woods, we came to where a woods is being created. These trees have been planted with the idea that they will turn into a forest. We saw oaks, maples, sassafrass…of all ages and sizes. The white sheaths keep them safe from hungry deer.

I do know what this tree is. Hickory. This specimen was at the top of a hill, alone. A farm tree in the middle of fields, that has been its life. The big green cases hold the small brown nut; they dry on the tree and split open, and the nut falls to the ground.

And my favorite – milkweed. They are drying up, splitting open, and spreading their seeds. I LOVE milkweed. Just saying.

And here is some more milkweed, with some really well-turned out insects hanging on. I researched them and learned they are specimens of…the large milkweed bug. Yes, that is truly their name, and they feed on milkweed. There is something very satisfying about this straightforward name they have, isn’t there?

All right, there you have it. I’ll come back to this spot. It was tranquil, a place for contemplation and enjoying being alive.

Wait in Line

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago my husband and I visited the Norris City Cemetery, next to the Norristown Farm Park. We wandered over the peaceful site for some time, looking at the headstones and enjoying the calm, beautiful day. It was a place where each person had a place to be remembered and each life commemorated, I felt.

On the way home from that trip, we passed Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Wyncote, just a hop skip and a jump from our house. We go by this location almost every day, either on the local road or on the highway passing on the other side.

It’s a Catholic cemetery and just for your info, my in-laws are both buried here (though not near the site I’m going to show you.)

All right. I’d noticed a set of black shapes lined up way out in an empty part of the cemetery from the highway,but I couldn’t tell exactly what they were.

We had a closer view from the local road, but we’d never had time to stop and really get a look. Well, today, we did. Here’s the sight that caught our eye:

Yes. A neatly-arrayed line of burial vaults, waiting for use. From a mark on one at the far end, I think there were originally 100 of them.

The whole thing just made me laugh. Did the cemetery get a sale price for buying in bulk? Is this the only place they could find to store them, or was it a practical matter? – after all, new interments are taking place only a few hundred feet away, not much transport time.

And…Is it me or does it seem just a little bit – impersonal? I’m feeling a bit of an assembly-line atmosphere here…


Anyway, they are getting used. You can see where the marks on the ground were – there were more here not long ago.

This line will slowly shrink. I’m keeping my eye on things and I wonder how long it will take.

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