Flirty Flowers and Macro Lens Mischief

Bob’s garden is growing full force this summer. One of the Koi fish is as big as a whale but refuses to be photographed.

Copy13 copyFortunately, the flowers are not so shy.

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I didn’t have any problem getting them to open up for the macro lens

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I don’t know what this flower’s called – it’s from Seger Park down the street and I take pictures of it every year.

Puss

Even Plumpton got into the act despite the fact that he is now a grumpy old cat of 19.

The View From My Front Door Bob’s Garden Summer 2014

I live in South Philadelphia where there’s not much greenery. But I’m lucky because my neighbor Bob turns the hot and gritty summer landscape into an urban oasis every year. Here are some pictures from this years’ garden.

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The Hawthorn tree

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The Koi pond

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wpid-img_20140728_174938blog_wm.jpgStreet view

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Banana tree

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 Flowers bloom, die and

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New flowers come up to take their place

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Lotus

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The Banana tree and koi pond

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Bob’s BFF Barbra keeps watch over everything.  Sqwalk!

If you want to see posts about  of Bob’s garden from summers past, click on the links below.  Not all of the slide show links work on the older posts but they will give you an idea of how the garden has changed over the years. 

2007 

2008

2009 

2011

2012

2013

How Do You Say Passyunk?

The weather this weekend was beautiful for walking.  There was lots happening on East Passyunk Ave. so I headed on down.IMG_20140427_115109Passyunk Square.  How do you pronounce Passyunk?   It’s Pashunk.  Two syllables, not three.

IMG_20140427_115001The fountain

IMG_20140427_115333Mama Maria’s Restaurant

IMG_20140427_115233The Crafty Balboa   artists were selling their wares up and down the street

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Flavors of the Avenue set up a big tent and lots of people were sampling offerings from the Avenue’s restaurants.  

But but it was a good day for just hanging out and people watching.

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This cat does not seem pleased that I  took his picture.  Purrhaps I should have asked him purrmission.

For more information on East Passyunk Avenue, press here.

It ain’t New Years without the Mummers

What happens when you ask a group of men walking down the street if you can take pictures of their shoes?  If it’s New Years day in Philadelphia, they are likely to say yes but only if your husband gets in  the picture too.

GoldenSlippers

Golden Slippers

Ken and Mummers2

Here are some links to   for Mummers fans.

A Guide to Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade

It ain’t New Years without the Mummers Parade.

and a couple of old blog posts

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM PHILADELPHIA

NEW YEARS IN PHILADELPHIA MEANS MUMMERS

Have a fun and safe New Year!

I Murdered My Sewing Machine!!

I managed to murder a sewing machine.   I was busy sewing wonky log cabin blocks on my late Mother-in-Law’s Kenmore when I heard, GADUMP!  I stopped and saw I had a bent needle.  I replaced it and stared to sew but the machine  continued to clunk!clunk! clunk! And clunk!  And basically not sew anything.     I needed sewing machine triage.
Chain Piecing
Chain Piecing on the Kenmore
There is no sewing repair place near my house and I don’t own a car.  I was determined not to ask a friend to schlep me and my crippled machine to a repair place so I started to look for someone who would come to my house.   I found a guy on Yelp who had one five star rating.  That was his only rating.  I called him.
“How old is your machine?” he asked
“I don’t want to buy a new one,” I retorted.  (I am always suspicious.)
“I don’t want you to buy a new one,” he answered,  “the new ones aren’t any good; but I need to know how old yours is before I know  whether I can work on it.”
“Seventeen years old, ” I replied.
“I can fix that no problem.”  He made arrangements to come to my house the next day.
My husband let him in and took his card, Jack DeSorte’s Vacuum Repair.  Jack parked himself at my dining room table and inspected the machine.  “I’ll have this fixed in about an hour, ” he announced.
My heart soared.  For the next hour,  Jack labored on the machine and treated my husband and me to the short version of his life story, his philosophy of sewing machines, sewing machine repair and sewing machine restoration.  It dawned on me that I had a first class, genuine, A-Number One sewing machine nerd repairman seated in my dining room.  Which is a good thing in case you were wondering.
After an hour,  Jack rose from the table wiping his forehead and informed me that he would have to take the machine into his shop.  “I don’t know what you did to this machine, ” he declared, ” but I’m gonna have to take the whole thing apart and it’s gonna be messy.  I  might need parts.  I can’t fix it here.”
“Will you bring it back when it’s fixed?” I inquired.
“Of course,” he replied as if wondering why I had to ask about something so obvious.
“Wait a minute,”  I called, running down the basement steps, “I have something else.”  I returned with  my Mother’s 1961 Singer Slant-O-Matic 500A. “This was my mother’s machine, “I told him, ” and I used to sew on it when I was a little girl.  It works but it needs a tune up.  She got that machine when Kennedy was president, ” I added.  (This means that I felt comfortable enough with Jack to date myself.  Which means something but I’m not sure what.)
Slant O Matic
Slant-O-Matic
He was beaming.  “Will you look at that, ” he exclaimed lifting  up the lid that covers the double  thread spindles. “It’s so clean!  Normally when I see one if these it’s got all kinds of crap on it.”
“My Mother was so clean that once she broke our television to clean it, “I bragged.  “My Father wouldn’t get it fixed, so we had to turn it on and off by using the plug.  And my brother claimed that we were the only family he knew who had a brutal cycle on their washing machine.”Maybe you are starting to understand why I took to Jack like I did.
Jack wrote up the proper receipts and disappeared with my sewing machines into the night.
To be continued. . .

Philadelphia Holiday Traditions

Christmas Show in Macy’s (Wanamaker’s Grand Court). Click here for the history of this tradition.

Lighting the Menorah on Independence  Mall

Street Decorating in South Philadelphia. Read more about it here.

Kwanzaa Nguzo Saba Candle Lighting Ceremony and Dance

Holiday Train Shows Reading Terminal Market. Find out more here.

and finally, my favorite and the oldest of  all,

The Winter Solstice

Last year:

My Grandmothers’ Christmas Legacy

I Think the First One’s a Chicken

 I have posted before about the work of Isaiah Zagar’s walls and his Magic Garden.  You don’t always have the good fortune to see a work in progress but that’s what happened to me during a walk in my neighborhood.    I stumbled on what appears to be the latest installation in the neighborhood.

Here’s a photo of a work around the corner to give you a general idea of Zagar’s work.  You can never tell how something like this will turn out though.  It looks like a few of the pictures might be portraits including one of the artist, and I think one of the figures in the first picture is a chicken.  Will it remain a chicken?  I will post pictures of the finished wall when its done

Enjoy this cool video

Halloween in South Philadelphia

Some pictures from my neighborhood.

The End of Summer in Bob’s Garden

It’s the end of summer in my neighbor Bob’s sidewalk garden, which now takes up the front of four row houses in South Philadelphia. Bob takes care of the garden and koi pond. The only thing he asks is permission to place a beautiful flowering plant in front of your house, which adds badly needed curb appeal in an urban environment. There’s a new addition to the koi pond this year: A big, sleepy turtle. He just appeared one day. Do you think he’s a magic turtle? Bob thinks he’s blind. All I know is that he’s very lazy. Once I saw him on a Lilly pad and thought he might have died. Then I realized that if Turtle had gone to the great hereafter, it is likely he would have fallen off the Lilly pad. But he bobbed up and down on that Lilly pad for quite some time. Turtle is lazier than a house cat. If you don’t believe me, try to sit through this video.

The Garden

Do you think Turtle is really blind?

Enjoy the slideshow.

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Happy New Year from Philadelphia

 

For more than one hundred years, the City of Philadelphia has sponsored the Mummers Parade on New Years day.  I thought it would be fun to do some research into the history of this Philadelphia tradition and share the results with you.  The Mumming tradition started  in Europe.  It came to these shores  with  the wave of immigrants that started arriving in Philadelphia in the 1600’s- first the Swedes, then English and then the Irish.  According to Murray Dubin in his book South Philadelphia, Mummers, Memories and the Melrose Diner, the Philadelphia Mummers have been strutting since 1790!  These parades were probably informal at first but became more organized with the passage of time.  As other ethnic groups like the Italians poured into South Philadelphia, they embraced the Mummers tradition.  The Mummers gradually started to form clubs which became an important part of the social fabric of the South Philadelphia working class.

The back of the above photograph says “Chas. Forbes Commercial Photographer  1006 W. Girard Ave.” When was it taken?  There’s no date, but I see a pipe that appears to be for an oil tank for a furnace on the front of the brick row house.  I don’t think oil heat came into wide use until after World War One, so this picture could be from the 1920’s.  For some beautiful photographs of Mummers in modern costumes,  check out the Philadelpha Mummer Flickr site. For an outstanding album of old pictures you’re not likely to see elsewhere on line, go to the Rare Mummers Archives.

Until the late 19th Century, Christmas and New Years celebrations were more like  Halloween or Mardi Gras festivals with people in masks and costumes going from house to house, offering to entertain the occupants with plays, skits or other antics.   People fired guns in the air (illegal in Philadelphia today) and public intoxication was the norm.  No wonder the Puritans banned Christmas!The   Philadelphia New Years Mummers parade has its roots in those raucous winter holiday celebrations of  the past. The first “official” parade was in 1901  when the City decided to sponsor it. There were so many Mummer’s clubs by that time that the City had to  do something to  protect the public safety and cut down on the revelry and  vandalism that accompanied the parades.  The Mummers have marched up Broad Street on New Years day every year since then, with a few exceptions.

There is a lot more to the history of the Mummers in Philadelphia than I could write here.  Click on the links for more information.  Remember, when you watch a Mummers parade,  you are part of an historical tradition you won’t see many other places in the U.S.  You are really looking into a portal to history.

Here are some parades from over the years.

I estimate from the dress that the undated newsreel below is from the 1930’s or 1940’s.  The parade passes a business called “University Motors.” Anyone know when they were in business on Broad Street?  I think it might have been a Studebaker Dealership.

 

 

 

 

When you are in Philadelphia, be sure to stop by the Mummers Museum.