Thursday, August 23, 2012

Neighborhood Murals

Philly is a city big on murals.Personally, I think this is because there are so many row houses that have been demolished, leaving blank sides, like amputated limbs. They get stuccoed over and often a mural gets put up on it. Some are good, some are bad, some are high  end and others are more DIY.

This is a pair that I pass every day on Baltimore Ave. The people in them are real people who live in the neighborhood. They face each other across a parking lot where a house used to be. (Click on the images to enlarge if you would like a closer look.)
About the mural
East mural
West mural
I was carrying V. when I took these photos this morning. I still feel like napping half the day away, I'm so exhausted, and instead of getting up at 6:30 AM like I am accustomed to, I am up about 10 AM. I get to bed really late. But as far as endurance toddler carrying, I am getting stronger. It takes about four blocks now for me to start feeling put upon - which means I can walk V. about four blocks, stop for coffee (or the playground) and then usually carry her back. I'm not sure if her endurance is building, but she certainly is learning to hold on better for a piggy back ride.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fish Head

I was at the Satellite Cafe late this morning with V. and saw a book with this interesting graphic on the cover:
Intrigued, I read it. It's a vintage children's book called Fish Head by Jean Fritz. I am apparently not the only blogger to discover this book, but nevertheless, here I go.
It's really the quality of the illustrations that make this book.True, it's cute story about a wild cat that causes trouble - a kind of feline bildungsroman - but look at these!
Here is Fish Head chasing Grandfather Rat, causing quite a ruckus. I was actually beginning to worry a bit when reading this bit that Fish Head was going to end up a victim, himself. He seemed completely immune to the idea that he might be annoying or destructive. He is a cat completely without conscience.
Fish Head on the fishing boat he subsequently became marooned upon. Flying fish flop onto the deck in the morning, and he catches them and eats them - hence the cover art.
Here Fish Head is getting back at the sailors for laughing at his lack of sea legs. (Don't worry - the cat is soon humbled himself by two days of sea sickness. Did I feel sorry for him? Um... no.)
In the end, after traveling to many islands with the fisherman, Fish Head finally arrives back at his own island and finally goes ashore. There he discovers that the land doesn't feel right because he has sea legs now, and that life ashore is dull. The fishermen shout for him because they are leaving and he goes trotting back to them, happy to return to sea.
The moral of the tale? I guess there's a place for everybody where they can learn to not be such a selfish jerk. For this cat, it was a boat at sea.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A New Beginning

I am arrived at my new home in Philadelphia.
My fancy Victorian doorknob

It is very different from the Bay Area; the heat is tropical in feel. There is distant thunder and sudden showers; a clinging heat; the relief of cool breezes. There are cicada rattling away in the trees and mosquitoes breeding in puddles.

There are Victorian row houses and debris everywhere. Some of this debris is useful, even wanted, if not by the person who discarded it. (More on that later!)

Urban gardening abounds. Yesterday afternoon I went with my housemate to pillage a friend's front yard. We took away about five pounds of figs, quite a few rose hips, a large bunch of rosemary, lemon balm, two kinds of basil, a couple fat yellow tomatoes and some Indian spinach.The figs are going to be preserves or jam, if my housemate tends to them in time - fresh figs apparently don't have very long shelf life in a sweltering heat. I plan to cut up and dry the rose hips for tea. I imagine myself having a hot cup in the wintertime, when the snow comes.

Vegetarian food cart at Clark Park
Every day I am wearing myself out with running errands and explorations. I am out of shape, and not used to the heat. I am sunburnt and sore and have learned the hard way that V. can't or won't walk for more than about four city blocks without insisting on being carried. I wish I had someone to carry me! When I get too tired, we either go home or to Clark Park, and she runs around for a while with the mix of kids that pop in and out of there. At any one time there can be four languages spoken, from Mandarin to possible Croatian. V. thinks it's a blast, but not because of the linguistics: she just likes to play.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

What life brings

I am thinking almost constantly about my upcoming move. Well, not just my move, but our move - my 3 yr. old daughter is of course coming along for the ride.
Doodling in a diner
I'm remembering the things I liked and disliked about Philly.

I loved blowing entire days at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, especially on volunteer donation days - it's a huge museum!  Fleisher's art classes; the PAFA; the Waterworks ; the Central Library ; all the independent coffeehouses and the gargoyles on U of Penn's more interesting buildings. I used to go the Museum of Archeology and Anthropolgy, and the Mutter Museum; I listened to live Classical music and saw plays performed in Clark Park. I liked sitting in Rittenhouse Square, and thrift shopping. I didn't realize it at the time, but I liked the opportunity that presents itself in the decay of the city and how it's home to some of the most obnoxious, noisy birds I have ever heard.

I am, however, allergic to some local spore, and will probably have to get some kind of sinus spray for that. And the air pollution, which in the summer heat you can swipe off your arm in a sticky grime. Some (OK, many) of the neighborhoods aren't what I'd consider safe places to casually stroll unless you have lived there for years... and even then, maybe not alone. It's a depressed city. It's an angry city. Which also means it's cheap.

This time around, I know what to expect.