Art Drop-off Today, June 18

Well, the title tells you a lot, but not all of it. I went out on the Pennypack Trail this morning, in a very warm and getting warmer fast kind of morning, humid and sunny. Just perfect summer weather.

I parked the car at Moredon Road with the idea of doing 4 miles at a good fast walk (it takes me about an hour or a minute or so over), and this way, I could stop at the car for a quick drink if I were thirsty (which I was, so it turned out well).

All the previous tiles I’d left had been taken up. Fantastic! Today, I left this tile in a train control box.

Conf 6-18 #101

Here’s a full-view shot, and look at the lush vegetation all around. Green is the color of the day all right.

Conf 6-18 #202

Here is a photo of the trail in the direction I was walking. Now, it is important that these art scatterings happen so that I can remain anonymous. That means keeping an eye out for other people when I decide to set something down. I’m usually successful but a few times I have had to pretend to tie my shoe or that I needed to look at my phone, in order to throw people off the scent.

Not today. The warm sticky weather mean the trail was quiet. Good! I did my work and went on my way.

Conf 6-18 #303


People Wearing Clothes

On August 9 I visited downtown Philadelphia, in from the the suburbs. I took a lot of pictures and I’ve done several posts on my adventures – look back over the last few posts to get an idea of what I was up to.

My travels took me from west of City Hall all the way east to 5th Street on Market Street, the main east-west street in the city, and then I came back up on a parallel street, Walnut. Plus wandering around here and there as I went.

Today, I’m starting off looking east on Market from City Hall.

John Wanamaker Department Store, as it was when I came to Philadelphia in the late 1970’s, is to the right. It is now a Macy’s. I bought a sewing machine there in 1980 for $190. Just saying.

I also recall getting the nicest teal/tan plaid pleated Pendleton wool skirt there for a price I can’t bring to memory but I know was a steal, because I do remember that.

So you understand how I like to look in the store windows here. Always have. Right now they are displaying back to school fashions.

I also like photographing reflections, by the way.

Well, as I was heading on my way east, I saw a ghost.

If you follow my poetry blog, you may know that I published a couple of poems recently about seersucker suits. I have always liked the look of this kind of summer wear, but it’s not seen much anymore in today’s more casual fashions. Although in my early working days, seersucker was a  casual summer fashion.

Anyway, at about 12th and Market, I saw the ghost. Rather, I saw a man wearing a seersucker suit. And he was carrying a leather briefcase, also the kind of bag you don’t see as much of anymore. I did think I might have seen a ghost of 1980?

No, it was a real live person. I turned and followed him, digging out my camera as fast as I could. Here he is. I felt so happy.

Seeds of the Present

My husband and I took a walk in the Morris Arboretum on Saturday, August 12, a muggy, gray day. We didn’t spend a lot of time, about an hour; we wanted to walk around the wetlands area and see what things looked like.

We visited the arboretum about two weeks ago, and the wetlands section really caught our attention.

We circled this pond and then ventured out to the creek – a walk of about one and a half miles.

Two themes emerged: seeds/nuts, and insects. Let me start with the first category. I’m going to show what I saw. I don’t know the names of any of them, except for the walnuts and milkweed. I just liked looking at the seeds in their various incarnations. See what you think.

I think this tree may be called “button ball” but I am not sure. From our observations, the balls start off green, turn red-orange, explode into white, and then fade away in brown. Obviously they are attractive to bees.

I do not know what tree this is, but I have seen these brilliant red leaves on the ground later in the fall. Here are berries and one early-turning leaf.

Dangling seed pods. I LOVE the look of these.

These grasses were near the creek. I love the woven look of the seedheads.

I don’t know what these are. Are they related? I photographed two different trees and didn’t pay enough attention as I was doing it.

These look like they should come from a maple tree, but they don’t. Look at the leaf.

Walnuts! Walnuts! I love walnut season. I love kicking them with my toe as I go along the trails. Walnuts!

Now that I recognize milkweed, I see it everywhere in the wetlands. The broad leaves stand out almost horizontally; I liked how they captured the rain. And those seedpods…

What is this? I don’t know. I saw it next to the parking lot.

I am intrigued by the variety of seedpods and nuts and I am interested to see how these plants progress through the autumn. The shapes and forms are beautiful and functional. Plenty to look at here, isn’t there?

Now, how about a few insects I met along the way:

I would love to have shown some of the many dragonflies I saw, with their electric blue features, but they were too quick for me…

I am intrigued by the variety of seedpods and nuts and I am interested to see how these plants progress through the autumn. The shapes and forms are beautiful and functional. Plenty to look at here, isn’t there?

Tiny Travelogue

I don’t go far from home. I don’t travel much. I like being home. And lucky for me there is a seemingly endless supply of things to explore right under my (geographic) nose.

Today we decided to explore the Morris Arboretum. It was established on the grounds of Compton, the summer home owned by the wealthy Morris family starting in 1887, who collected plants and were interested in furthering horticultural education; it is now part of the University of Pennsylvania. Not located near the main campus, though – it is only about 15 minutes from my house.

We became members not too long ago – I thought it might be a good place for walking, especially for my husband, as he continues to gain strength after his knee injury. Believe it or not, in almost 40 years of living close by, I had never visited the site, though I had often thought of doing so in recent times, because I drive past it on my way to Chestnut Hill College (of poetry marathon fame!) all the time.

It is expensive for a single visit, but a membership could pay off for the two of us after three visits – and being members makes a quick stop just for a walk much more likely. I signed us up.  Today was a reconnaissance mission.

It was a stunning day – sunny, warm, and low humidity. We parked in the lower lot – other people had the same idea as us to visit the gardens on such a nice day – and walked up the hill to the main building. I noticed I could see the roofs of Chestnut Hill College across the way – it is next door.

We walked around the upper areas following paved paths past manicured lawns and many trees. I found some details interesting:

Small structures dotted the area as well as sculptures:

There were other attractions, such as a garden railway exhibit and a treehouse/walkway structure; fernery; rose garden. Today, these areas were crowded with families; even if they hadn’t been, they didn’t much appeal to me. If this had been all there was to the place, I would have been lukewarm on it. I will say, though, the level paths would make a nice circuit for an easy walk (or run, if you came on a non-crowded day).

We made our way back down the hill to the wetlands area. This section was deserted and quiet. Just birds, insects, trees…

Now I was interested. Look at this milkweed.

A bee was working very industriously at this flower head.

This dead tree’s stark appearance amid all the greenery made it a landmark.

Mowed paths guided us through this section. There was so much to look at.

My assessment of the arboretum: I thought the main area tame and uninteresting. The wetlands, fantastic. I could see visiting that section often just to see the changes in the landscape. I much prefer walking on grass to asphalt. Wilder to manicured. Full of detail to edited. I’ll come back and concentrate my attention on this area, I think.

It would be a great spot for a walk after a poetry marathon session or for my husband to visit during lunchtime. I’m glad we checked out the arboretum.

Return to Competition

My husband and I started running in 2008, I think, as part of our weight loss/get fit idea (in which we lost a combined 200 pounds or so). It was his idea, but we both took to it right away, and that led to trying out the racing world.

Mostly we did 5K’s, although we did some 10K’s, the 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia (twice) and a half-marathon (once). I found I was pretty good at running and I consistently won awards in my age group (50-59, me being at the time at the low end of the numbers).

Then, starting in 2012, things happened, and you have probably read about them if you have followed this blog: a fall, injuries to various body parts including my hand, an antibiotic resistant infection, two hand surgeries, four eye surgeries, hearing loss, a broken foot, complications from antibiotics, and so on. Each time, I would recover enough to start back to training but each time a new problem would arise, stopping me.

Nonetheless, I kept running, though not racing, until this last winter. When my husband had his fall at Christmas, 2016, that pretty much scrambled even getting to the gym; the final blow was a month-long giant bad cold in April, 2017.

Well, the point of all of this story is to say that my motto is never give up. I am one stubborn person. Once I got well in May, I decided to make returning to running a priority. But I needed to be realistic.

I am older now, I have some deficits from my various experiences, and I no longer have the motivation to run 6-8 miles a day, never mind if it would even be good for my bones and joints and… But, I think I’ve got some good races still in me; I just have to pick out my goals.

So, I worked out a week-by-week running plan based on walking/running. Started out with 2 minutes walking and 2 minutes running for about 2.5 miles. I am now up to 1 walking/9 running for 4 miles. I plan to keep that rest interval and get myself to 5 miles; then I will work out where I want to go next with it.

So far so good. I focus on persevering and not so much on speed (though I can’t help it, just a little). I want to stay injury-free and enjoy myself. But – I do like competition. That brings me to the subject of this post.

About seven or so years ago, we participated in a July 4 5K held at Norristown Farm Park (look here  and here for other events, such as orienteering, I’ve recently done in this park and its locality). I’ll tell you right now I won an award and did the course in 25 minutes something. And the course is a hard one – hilly, exposed to the sun, requiring endurance and speed.

This photo is from the Senior Games at Norristown Farm Park, not this race, but you get the idea.

Well, I got to thinking about that race last week, and I said, let’s look it up and see…Now, I had no business trying a 5K, not having run 3.1 miles straight in four years or so. So…


We arrived at the race site a little before 8 AM today, July 4. I had some stage fright about the whole thing. My husband is not able to run yet, so he took all the pictures.

I picked up my number, my swag bag, and my race T-shirt (I so love a 5K t-shirt!). Here are some attempts at an official race portrait.

Let’s try an action shot.

Remember that cheerful expression and compare it to the actual race photos later on. All right. The race starts at the entrance of Norristown High School, crosses into the park, makes a big square, and finishes right in front of the school. My first goal was to run the whole way, no walking.

And, I was hoping to do 33-35 minutes and I felt it would take every bit of pacing I had in me to make it work. I lined up at the back of the crowd (the first place finishers do about 16 minutes, for some perspective, so I needed to hang back, oh, yes).

The weather was about 75 degrees at 8:30 AM and very humid. Another reason to pace myself.

OK, we started the race to the sound of a police car siren. I’m the lady with the orange arrow chasing her.

No pictures from inside the race. I needed all my strength to run! We started off bunched up and then I got some space around me. My past experience told me that quite a few people would start off fast and fade, and that is what happened here. I was able to pass people all through the first part of the race, a little at a time. That’s how I used to run these things, I thought, feeling pretty good.

Everything held together until about the 2.5 mile mark. Then I started to feel it. In the past I had had the resources to speed up at the end. Today, I was measuring out the last little bits of energy. I crossed out of the park and across the street into the high school’s entrance. Only a few hundred yards to go, shouted the policeman holding back traffic for me.

Now I reappear on the radar. The orange arrow is back to highlight me.

I make it up that last hill and around the curve. The orange cones are what I am looking for.

It seems to me that inspirational music ought to be playing as I come to the finish, with crowd shots of cheering people, maybe with tears in their eyes. But then, it would not be real; it would be a television movie. I would not be running along and feeling very bad about now.

In real life, I heard my husband cheering for me; that was plenty good enough. I keep going and I get to the orange cones.

I keep going. By the way, I am wearing a brand-new pair of running shoes and they did themselves proud.

I’m going to finish this race, it looks like.

Well, a few years back I would not have believed I could run so slowly. Or be so happy about it! I was right. I needed a lot more training. I was not ready for this race. I had no business doing it. And, I’m really happy that I didn’t listen to any of that nonsense, because look! I did it!

Turtle Season?

Last week I was walking along the Pennypack Trail in a section where the former rail bed bisects and is raised above the flood plain of the Pennypack Creek. It’s pretty high up above the swampy lower lands and the inclined sides are steep. As I was going along I saw an odd shape moving across the trail at a good clip, some distance in front of me.

It didn’t move like a raccoon or opossum or fox, and anyway, it was mid-morning, not a time you’d usually see one of these animals. As I came up to the spot, I saw it was a nice big snapping turtle. Judging from its direction of travel and the mud all over its body, it had climbed up the incline from the wet areas below the trail and was crossing to go down the other side.

I stopped and took a good look. The turtle eyed me and retracted its head, but did not gather itself inside its shell. Clearly it wanted me to go away and let it get on with its life. So I did, walking away.

I took one backwards glance and saw the turtle had extended its neck back out, quite a length it had, and was moving its head side to side, obviously surveying the scene in order to manage its next move.

I went off down the trail full of smiles that morning, I’ll tell you that.

I was interested to read in a friend’s blog, A Pict in PA, about a turtle sighting she recently made, hundreds of miles from this one. But it makes me think – turtles are out and about right now, it seems.

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

Garden and Garden Spirit

Our yard is large, long and narrow. Our house sits up at the front of it, very close to the street. The back yard is by far the bigger share of the acreage and it seems even larger because it backs up to a creek and a wooded slope beyond that. We have plenty of wildlife passing through, deer, foxes, groundhogs, and lots of birds.

We have a small garden about halfway back, fenced in so that the deer don’t eat up whatever we put in there. The idea was to grow vegetables, but that fell by the wayside a couple of years ago. Then we planted flowers, mostly sunflowers and zinnias.

garden 1 9-15 small

With my health issues over the past three years I have lost the habit of gardening – I don’t even mow the grass anymore but pay someone to do it. I’ve lost interest in this garden, too. My husband planted it this year. I don’t go in it anymore because with all the flowers there are many bees, and a wasp colony has taken up residence near by (I know because I was stung earlier this summer and my hand swelled up in a frightening way for a week).

Next year this will change. I’m mulling over ways to enjoy the garden – maybe move it so I can see it from the house, away from the wasps. Because I do love the flowers – and I like the idea of how good it all is for the birds and insects and for a happy feeling for us all. It will be a good winter project, I think, the planning and the anticipating.

Anyway, I took some pictures the other day of the glorious tangle of flowers and vines. Thank you to my husband for doing this for me.

garden 3 9-15 small

I noticed in this picture that my shadow seems to be doing a sun salutation or maybe I’m imitating the sun by forming a circle with my arms? No, I have raised the camera so as to see over the fence – but my shadow doesn’t know that, does it?

Happy garden.

Claudia's shadow in flowers 9-15 small

It’s a Cow Kind of Day

I walking in Lorimer Park this morning. One of the trails runs along the boundary fence of the Fox Chase Farm, a teaching farm. Now remember, in this park we are in the middle of a highly-populated area – suburbs on the one side and densely-packed city on the other. This farm is an oasis of calm in the middle of it all.

Today the cows were in the fields near the trail. I stopped to lean on the fence and watch them. I am not sure why I find cows and their doings so fascinating, but I do – I’ve stopped along this same area often to take a look at this herd of cows.

Today the cows were on the move, going along at a pretty good pace from one grazing area to another. One eager achiever cow led the way…

cows 1 Lorimer 8-21-15 small

…most of them stayed together in a group, and one straggled behind.

cows 3 Lorimer 8-21-15 small

In fact this last cow went in the opposite direction to the water or the salt lick, I couldn’t quite see it, before heading back to join the others.

Lone cow Lorimer 8-21-15 small

A whole society in action. Maybe that is why I find this group so interesting to observe.

And here is a photo of the fields in different section. I’ve taken shots from this location before, but I never get tired of the view.

Lorimer 8-21-15 #1 small

Underfoot and Overhead

A few days ago I was moving along the sidewalk and my foot crunched a ripe red fruit. I looked up and realized I was under the branches of an ornamental cherry tree just loaded with cherries. It was just beautiful to see.

People don’t usually eat the fruit from these ornamental trees but the birds and other creatures get a real feast. I love this time of year when all the hot days of summer sunshine show their results like this!

The tree was in front of the Wissahickon School District Administration Building in Ambler, PA, if you want to go by and take a look!

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