Green Plant

In my dining room I have this tiny succulent set in the window.

I think it looks like he is reaching out to hug me.

Hugging Plant 3-20

Canary Melon Vine Update

Check out our guys the Canary Melon vines…they are putting on some length.

If You Live Across the Street from the High School You Are Never Bored

We live across the street from our high school. Great place to be. I have the girls’ lacrosse/field hockey and softball fields right there and I attend a lot of games, despite not knowing much about any of them.

We can also watch the marching band practice, walk on the track, go to swim meets…art fairs…and it goes on and on.

The latest event, to mark the start of school, was a festival of food trucks held in front of the school, yesterday afternoon and evening. Food trucks are a common sight in the city – lots and lots of people eat lunch from one every work day, and you can get about anything. Nowadays they go around to festivals and the like, as well.

From our house, here was the view:

We walked over and paid our (minimal) admission fee. There was food, food, music, food, food, silent auction, picnicking, food, kids running around, food, people waiting in line for food, food…

It’s fun to live in a place like the one where I live!

Architecture Field Trip

On Sunday, June 25, my husband and I visited Allentown, PA, for a house tour sponsored by the West Park Civic Association. If you follow my art blog, you will know that I participate in an art show in the park each June. We were there last weekend (though it was held in the Masonic Temple, next door to the park, because of the weather; look here if you want to see more). Usually the house tour is set for the following day, and I never have had the energy to go back to try it out (we live about an hour away).

This year, though, the tour was held the following weekend. We decided to make a day of it.

We got to Allentown about 10 AM so that we could have something to eat before we walked around. We chose a restaurant recommended by a friend a short distance from the park (thank you, Adrian!) called Union and Finch. I can recommend it now myself, too – our meals were delicious, and everyone there very friendly.

Here is the apartment building across the street that you saw reflected in the window of the restaurant. I love the name of it, Julian Court. Very elegant sounding. The building is also beautiful – look at the brickwork and other details.

I’m warming you up for the tour by showing you this building. This section of the city dates from around 1900-1920. It’s densely settled, with apartment buildings, businesses, and rowhomes or twins lining the streets. Space is at a premium, so West Park itself makes an oasis of green and openness in the city layout.

After lunch we parked at the Masonic Temple and walked through the park to the ticket location outside the Church of the Mediator, located on the edge of the park.

Lots of people there. (You can see my husband in the chili-orange shirt.) Once we paid, we got a booklet with a map and some info on each house, and we set off.

I won’t go into much detail about the houses we visited, as photos were not allowed. Generally, the houses were tall and narrow and featured layouts with lots of bedrooms and less living space than you might find in today’s homes. Previous ages needed this layout because of larger families and yet fewer possessions. Kitchens in particular are small in this age of house, although we saw some innovative ways they had been enlarged or adjusted.

We also saw a lot of beautiful woodwork and flooring. We went in one house, now the headquarters of a local business, with the softest glowing wood on the stairs – I read later that it was Brazilian mahogany. Think about that!

So, I’ll give you a view of the outsides of the kinds of houses we saw.

Besides the street access, many houses had alleys running behind them. I’ve walked along these alleys in the past and I think it is more interesting what you can find in these spaces than along the front, many times.

One building really stood out to me – a church located at 15th and Turner, right off the park. I’ve noticed this building for years but never been inside – it has been closed for as long as I can remember except for a short period a couple of years ago.

A former Episcopal church, built in two parts – 1907, I think, and 1930. It is not enormous, but it takes up the entire lot, coming right on to the sidewalk. An individual now owns it and hopes to develop it in some way. We took a look inside – here is the 1930 section (pews removed some time ago) and a nice window – there were quite a few throughout the building.

It’s difficult to say what will happen to this building – for one thing, it has no parking. The neighborhood presses right up against it on all sides. And for another, it is very expensive to maintain, I am sure. Still, I hope a use can be found for it.

After that, we retrieved our car and went home – to our 1950’s split-level. And though I enjoyed visiting these older homes – they reminded me of our previous house, a Victorian from about 1890 – once again I reflected on the good fortune that brought us to our current home, airy and spacious-feeling as it is.

There is no place like home, that was the theme for this day.

Day After Thanksgiving, Part 3

Here is the last installment of the trip into Center City Philadelphia that my husband and I took on the day after Thanksgiving. When I left off in the previous post, we had walked down Chestnut Street to Dilworth Park to visit the Garden Maze and to check out the craft fairs. There was one more thing to see, though, and you might have noticed something about it in this picture:


Ice rink! Ice rink!


I’ll tell you right away, I didn’t skate. I last got out on the ice in 2004 and in that session I broke my elbow. With my balance issues and the memory of how long it took for that elbow to heal, I have no business ice skating, but…I do like to watch others doing it!

This rink (sponsored by a large orthopedic institute, something I found amusing, especially since the doctor who treated my broken elbow is associated with it) is a real ice rink, not an artificial-surfaced one. And it’s here all winter, open day and night. I’d love to see those sparkly little lights in the evening…We spent some time watching people go around the circle, all kinds of people, with all levels of skill (including none). When you look at the pictures, notice  the smiles.

Above the scene, William Penn stood, as he has since 1901, at the top of City Hall Tower, and took it all in.


Well, that’s the end of the travelogue. After we finished at Dilworth Plaza, we did take in a little shopping – but for art supplies, at the Dick Blick store a couple of blocks away. It’s a treat for me to go to the store itself rather than buying online, so I can’t count it as shopping, exactly…and at the store, I won a $5 gift card when I spun the wheel for a prize. Couldn’t do that online!

Then we drove home. Nice day we had, wasn’t it?

Day After Thanksgiving, Part 2

More about how we spent an afternoon on Friday, November 25, in Center City Philadelphia. When I left off in the previous post, my husband  and I were walking east on Chestnut Street. Where were we going?

Our destination was Dilworth Park, where City Hall is located. Named for a former mayor, the park is one of the five original ones put into the street grid when the city was laid out by William Penn. It was appropriated for the location of City Hall, a massive building constructed from 1871 to 1901. The structure is as solid and imposing as a mountain and is a city landmark, although many city office are now located in more modern buildings nearby.

Dilworth Park was recently remodeled and is now used very often for city events and festivals. Right now it is hosting the Wintergarden and the Capital Garden Maze, and that is one of the sites I wanted to visit in the city.

The Maze is an installation of plants, topiary, and twinkly lights and will stay in place all winter. It’s a project of  Greater Philadelphia Gardens, a consortium of 30 regional gardens.

We spotted the event from across the street. The white tents are those of a craft fair also taking place on the plaza.


Here is the entrance.


We saw people sitting in café areas – the weather was gloomy but mild enough to sip a hot drink and talk to a friend. And the birds like the leftovers the people drop…

Then we came to the Maze. It was filled with people exploring it.

There are some fantastic topiary animals.

I was intrigued by the metal markers scattered in the beds. Each names a garden in the consortium as well as its mileage and direction from this location. I think this is a nod to the fact that this park is the center square of Penn’s plan, and is as such the very center of the city, from which distances are measured.

The plants in the boxes are ones that grow well locally and will have something to show of themselves all winter.

City Hall is a giant hollow square – and right now the courtyard is filled with another craft festival. We took a quick look inside. And, I took a picture of the tower. This is the landmark local people think of when they picture downtown Philadelphia; the historic area is a mile to the east, away from the main business and shopping area, and not the place residents go to as often as Center City.

All right – more later!

If You Were Very, Very Small…

I took this picture of a birch leaf a few days ago. We have a lovely tree in our front yard, with frilly papery tan and gray bark. It’s very graceful in shape and behavior – I love the way the three trunks sway in the wind.

Many of the leaves have little holes eaten into them. That’s the kind of thing that happens as the summer wears on. Anyway, this little opening made me think of all kinds of things.

What if I were very small and could fly through it?

It’s a little window in a magic green tower.

Is something really on the other side of this leaf, and how do I know?

Birch Leaf with a peephole 7-19-16 small

Wandering Around

A few days ago, I felt like taking a walk. It was late in the afternoon and I needed some fresh air.

I live across the street from the high school. There is always something going on there and I attend a lot of field hockey, softball, and lacrosse games, as well as going to swim meets in the winter. This day, though, it was quiet – late enough that everyone had gone home. So I decided to walk all the way around the building.

The school is like many others – it started off in one coherent plan and then, through additions and renovations, took on a rambling personality. Lots of areas to wander. I traveled around the playing fields by the road, crossed the parking lot, and ended up about a quarter-mile away at the back of the school.

I was in a contemplative mood and just felt like poking around. Here are a few things I saw, nothing important, but then again, pretty interesting to me. I’ve lived in this town for more than two decades and my son went to school here. I use the track for exercise. I’ve taken classes in the building myself. So I have memories for every part of this site.


They’ve been doing construction in a section behind the football field. It’s cleared up now but the signs of it remain. I walked through the parking lot toward the area. I thought this poor grate has really had enough to handle, with the wood scraps and the thickened holes from dropped concrete.

Grate and debris and shadow 5-19-16 small

While I was here, I picked up three tennis balls – escaped from the nearby courts. It seemed wrong to let them wander around aimlessly until a car ran them over, so I threw them back on the courts. You might be able to see a couple of them in this picture.

Tennis Courts CHS 5-19-16 small

They recently added numbers to the teachers’ parking lot. There is something really attractive to me about numbers painted on a parking lot surface. I find the look appealing and I don’t know why.

CHS parking lot number 5-19-16 small

The sidewalks around the school are 60 years old – the school was built in 1956. Naturally they are showing some age. This scene reminded me of the sidewalks in front of my house, which was built in 1957. It’s each homeowner’s responsibility to maintain the sidewalks in front of the residence – when the township decides it’s time for repairs, they come around and spray white dots on the blocks needing replacement. Our street has recently been notified and the white dots have appeared. I think that if this block had been on the street – well, you know what it would have been wearing.

CHS sidewalk crack 5-19-16 small

A little further on, I noticed this stray bedraggled mitten lying next to the curb. Lost during the winter and it probably spent some time under a plowed-up mound of snow, given its location. I have lived here long enough to know that this is just the spot where the plows build up a good solid hill of icy snow. If you are a mitten lying on the ground, well, you’re trapped for quite a while, long enough to be forgotten. I’m feeling sorry for this mitten because pretty soon, it will get swept up and taken to the dump.

CHS forgotten mitten 5-19-16 small

On my way back toward home, I passed the softball field. I saw the two pencils lying on the ground next to the trash bin. Never mind computers, kids still need pencils in school. I like to think about that.

CHS two pencils near trash can 5-19-16 small

OK, all done. I went on down the road and crossed to my house, feeling quite satisfied with the state of things in my neighborhood.




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