June 2011

Posted by Ellen

Glenwood Green Acres sits hard by the railroad tracks in north Philadelphia, on a strip of land where abandoned warehouses burned down in 1984. Ninety-six families in the neighborhood till plots in this community garden; some of them work at it full time, selling their produce or giving it to the hungry.

Their crops include: collard greens, peppers, eggplant, squash, string beans, okra, blackberries, cotton, and tobacco. The southern character of what is grown reflects the southern roots of many people in the north Philly neighborhoods surrounding Glenwood. People like to grow what they grew up growing.

Room to garden in is hard to come by in most of Philadelphia, where row houses line the streets with little or no yard space. There are community gardens all over town–an estimated 400 active ones–but most are tiny, typically occupying just a few hundred square feet in a vacant lot that the gardeners don't own and can't protect from development.

Glenwood is huge by comparison: 3.5 acres. And it's owned by a citywide land trust and operated by a neighborhood organization. The garden is deeded as public green space forever.

The number of vacant lots in the city is thought to be well over 30,000, and most of them are derelict. But after twenty years of struggling to purchase and protect land for Philadelphia's community gardens, the trust now owns just 22 parcels totaling less than 10 acres.

Meanwhile, for what it's worth, in my little one-pot garden, I have a golf-ball-sized tomato, plus 4 flowers on the plant and more buds than I can count. I'm so optimistic I'm not fit to be around.

Posted by Ellen

Last week, baby Calla's visit back in Pennsylvania with the family included a little time on all fours out in the yard. A good time all around, according to Grandma. But on Friday, it was back to the airport for a long, long ride on a plane–back home to Zambia, in Africa.

Posted by Ellen

One afternoon in Kathmandu, we saw the men and then the women and then the car, all dressed up with clearly some place special to go. A recent wedding we heard about had twelve hundred guests, but all we saw of this one was the procession on the street, complete with a marching band. The band looked and sounded just like a western marching band and is not pictured here.

Nepalis claim they have more official holidays than any other country on earth. They know how to party.

Posted by Ellen

These horses were attending to one another in the schoolyard in the village of Ghorepani. The roof on the schoolhouse, like all the other roofs in Ghorepani, is painted blue. A few kilometers back down the mountain, in the village of Ghandruk, all the roofs are painted white.

Posted by Ellen

Believe it or not, yesterday was Go Skateboard Day in Toronto, where this fella was truckin on down College Street.

Posted by Ellen

Rarely do we get to say good morning to the folks in one of these pictures while they are still there, where they are pictured, in real time.

Allen just sent this phoneshot of Hank stirring the embers at their campsite in the sandhills of western Nebraska. The boys are westward bound, crossing the country from Maine to Seattle via Colorado. Wednesday morning, they'll wake up here at the lake, break camp, and hit the highway, aiming straight for the Rocky Mountains.

Posted by Ellen

The postcard had a Belgian stamp on it, and a message: "I think this is self-explanatory."

Is it?

Fortunately or unfortunately, additional explanation was at hand, in the caption in the lower left-hand corner, in French and some other languages. It turns out that the artist is Anu Tuominen, and the work is Fleur de Sel, completed in 2002–2004. The medium, if you must know, is saltshakers and travail de crochet.

From the intertubes, I see that the artist was born in Finland in 1961, and that she doesn't always work in saltshakers and crochet. Sometimes she uses a cheese slicer and knitting, sometimes mittens and socks, sometimes clothespins. In closing today, we have a work by Anu Tuominen done all in red and blue pencils.

Posted by Ellen

It's good to know that the truck full of tootsie-roll pops is still out there, rolling on down the road.

Posted by Ellen

When our four-year-old neighbor went to the baseball game Monday night, she got to wear her Phillies dress, and she got to hang out with her preschool buddy, who wore his Incredible Hulk shirt. And not only that, the Phillies beat the Dodgers.

Posted by Ellen

Joe tickles the ivories, playing a lullaby he composed for a friend's new baby.