Friday, April 30, 2010

Night Parade

Earlier this month I stumbled across the most wonderful bit of community art I have ever seen. I was walking with M in South Philly and we stopped to look into a store window that was full of white paper mache lanterns. It turned out that it was actually a studio space in the Fleisher Art Memorial, and the lanterns were in the final stages of preparation for a "night parade" that was going to happen that weekend!

George Ferrandi, the artist-in-residence at the Fleisher, had been working with the community for months making lanterns and developing a storyline for this parade. The entire project is called "Wherever There is Water." There were weekly workshops for volunteers to come and make lanterns for the parade (M and I went to the very last one, lucky!) and a choir had been practicing for months. I was so ecstatic that I found out about it right before it happened!

The Saturday night parade was incredible; there were almost 300 people processing down the streets of South Philly holding illuminated lanterns, many in the shape of animals. People came out of their houses to watch, many joined the parade, and there was just a wonderful sense of community and joy. I saw many of my own friends from different parts of the city, and I made new ones along the way.

I didn't get many photos of the parade, partly because I was in it, and partly because I knew I wouldn't be able to capture it properly on camera. But these are pictures of the workshop I went to with M, and the studio space pre-parade. Here's the Flickr group, with lots and lots of pictures. And here's a lovely video on Youtube (I'm there at 3:17, wearing bright green!):

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mystery Package

This week I got a lovely little surprise in the mail from Palo Alto with two amazing and bizarre pins in it (but no letter). I love them, but I don't know anyone in Palo Alto! Who are you, mystery sender? Whoever you are, I love the package (ahem).

edit 4:46 pm: Oh geez, as I was walking home tonight I realized who sent the package - it was Meredith! Thanks Mer!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, but for me it's been a poetry year. Or poetry three years. I've dabbled in poetry for a while, even taken a poetry-writing class in college (which I thoroughly enjoyed but I hope to never read those poems ever again). When I became friends with Nicole and Jaja in Davis a few years ago, Nicole suggested we start a Poetry Club of sorts where we all sit around and read poetry to one another and sip tea and drink wine and eat dessert. It was just as wonderful as it sounds, and though I'm far away from those precious friends, reading poetry always makes me feel close to them.

Recently, Nicole has been recording a weekly poetry podcast (which is to die for), and hearing her voice makes me so happy. And Jaja often includes poetry in her blog postings, accompanied by her own incredible photos. Jaja also recently gifted me this (so incredible), and it goes onto the stack that also includes some recently-purchased Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

So in honor of this month, I give you . . . . a poem. Not written by me. Of the many poetry books I've accumulated this year, the book "Loose Woman," by Sandra Cisneros has spoken to me the most. She mixes words in such an incredible and meaty way, rhyming when she feels like it. In her poems you can feel her vulnerability and her strength at the same time. She lays herself open. This is the title poem of the book and it really sold me. It's long, but it's worth it.

"Loose Woman"

They say I'm a beast
And feast on it. When all along
I thought that's what a woman was.

They say I'm a bitch.
Or witch. I've claimed
the same and never winced.

They say I'm a macha, hell on wheels,
viva-la-vulva, fire and brimstone,
man-hating, devastating,
boogey-woman lesbian.
Not necessarily,
but I like the compliment.

The mob arrives with stones and sticks
to maim and lame and do me in.
All the same, when I open my mouth,
they wobble like gin.

Diamonds and pearls
tumble from my tongue.
Or toads and serpents.
Depending on the mood I'm in.

I like the itch I provoke,
The rustle of rumor
like crinoline.

I am the woman of myth and bullshit.
(True. I authored some of it.)
I built my little house of ill repute.
Brick by brick. Labored,
loved and masoned it.

I live like so.
Heart as sail, ballast, rudder, bow.
Rowdy. Indulgent to excess.
My sin and success -
I think of me to gluttony.

By all accounts I am
a danger to society.
I'm Pancha Villa.
I break laws,
upset the natural order,
anguish the Pope and make fathers cry.
I am beyond the jaw of law.
I'm la desperada, most-wanted public enemy.
My happy picture grinning from the wall.

I strike terror among the men.
I can't be bothered what they think.
Que se vayan a la ching chang chong!
For this, the cross, the Calvary.
In other words, I'm anarchy.

I'm an aim-well,
loose woman.
Beware, honey.

I'm Bitch. Beast. Macha.
Ping! Ping! Ping!
I break things.

- Sandra Cisneros

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Getting Buzzy

The weather is warming up and all of my projects are starting to go at full speed. Besides the work I'm doing in the gardens, I'm maintaining this blog, the Woodlands Community Garden website, writing for Farm to Philly, and thinking about starting a new blog for the Walnut Hill Mini-Farm. There will probably be a little bit of restructuring happening here soon.

At the Woodlands, my lettuce is starting to come up, the trees in the cemetery are bursting with flowers, my kale is bolting, and we got bees!!!!

We are extremely excited about the bees. Sue from UC Green was instrumental in getting that going, and I love the colors they chose for the boxes. Local beekeeper Duffy will be tending them, and I look forward to lots of pollination and potentially some honey in the future!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Porch Status

I haven't posted many pics of my porch plants because they are often in a very sad state. But it's spring! And that means that everything is looking much nicer than normal, and I'm paying a lot more attention to my plants. So I thought I'd show off.

Romaine and "red fire" lettuce, garlic, yellow and red onions, pansies, wildflower mix (still sprouts), sage, spinach, cilantro, and swiss chard.

Penstemon and pansies.

Peas, pansies, lettuce, and redbud branches.

Chives, strawberries, and daffodils.

Amaryllis! Okay, this one is not on the porch, it's in the sun room. But still.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blog Swap!

I recently participated in a blog swap that was organized by Rosemary at 1017. My blog swap partner was Bridgett, of South City Musings (and other blogs). I sent her some fabric, home-made blackberry jelly, and local-made soap from one of my favorite Philly stores.

In return, I got yummy edible goodies! Apple butter from her CSA, and home-made blackberry jam and zucchini/summer squash bread and butter pickles. I've already cracked open the jam, and it's amazing. I can't wait to try the rest.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Phila Flower 2010

Highlights from the Philadelphia Flower Show, a little late!

Terrariums, of course.

This crown is made entirely of plant materials. Click on it to see the incredible details: little baskets with eggs, tiny birds with feathers sticking out of the tops of their heads, tiny dogwood blossoms!

A tropical "outdoor" bedroom.

The Netherlands exhibit, I love the canals with bikes in them and the tulips growing out of the walkway.

Just craziness.

Window boxes.

The winning balcony.

And finally, this was one of the most interesting exhibits I've seen at the flower show in a while, by Moda Botanica. They used shipping containers and had local graffiti artists Distraught and Distort cover them with art.

I actually recognized the art from around my house, I've posted some of it before.

I was especially thrilled with the Jane Pepper art (the retiring head of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society - she's very distinctive looking). She even signed one of them!

And a few days after the show I ran into this on my walk to work.

All in all, it was the most exhausting and satisfying flower show ever (and I'm so happy it's over)!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Plot in the Garden

When M and I were in Pittsburgh for Passover last weekend he took me to the Homewood Community Garden, which is in the Homewood Cemetery around the corner from his parents house. This is the community garden that gave him the idea that we should approach The Woodlands Cemetery and Trust in Philadelphia to see if they would be interested in having a garden on their grounds (they were!).

This garden is huge, and the plots are on average about 20' by 20'. Each one is individually fenced with 6' or higher fencing (we saw three deer while we were there). It doesn't officially "open" until April and it "closes" in October, so we only got to see the infrastructure and post-snow state of the garden. But there are some really interesting plots that I want to share with you anyway. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Day

This is one of the most beautiful Easters ever!

I dyed my Easter eggs with natural dyes again this year. Onion skins, red cabbage, and spinach. I used brown eggs this year, so the effect is not as striking.

The trees in Philadelphia are just going crazy! I swear this is the earliest I've ever seen the magnolias, cherries, and pears blooming.

Happy Spring!