Saturday, November 15, 2008

Catch-up Blog #2 - Our Grand Day Together

These images are a bit out of order but - I guess that's okay. Those who were there know what order they should be in and for those who weren't, it doesn't matter anyway!

Monday was a fantastic day. I had to work in the morning, and the ladies joined me at HSP around 11. I showed them some of my favorite things including, Martha Washington's cook book, Waldseemüller's map from 1507 - the first map which labels the continent "America" (well it's a facsimile - the only known copy is at the Library of Congress), Chew papers, and the Alfonse Mucha print. Then our wonderful library director, kindly opened some of the drawers of our "special" collection and showed them the first written draft of the Constitution, the two printed Emancipation Proclamations, our partial Declaration of Independence, a lock of George Washington's Hair, and ?? oh, right, a diary with the account of Mr. Washington's death. I think they enjoyed it? :)
Then we picked up lunch at Letto Deli - the best little deli in Philadelphia. Strolled down to the Center For Emerging Visual Artists and looked at my show. Then we sat in Rittenhouse Square and ate lunch. This is a spectacular place to eat lunch at any time, but with the golden leaves lying around everywhere, people half winter dressed, half not, and a brisk breeze - a drippy chicken melt on rye really hits the spot. Then we wanted to go to Valley Forge, but not before stopping by Naked Chocolate - the best chocolate place in Philadelphia, if not the entire U S.

Valley Forge (for my international readers, and anyone else who needs a little brush up on US history) was the site of the camp of the American Continental Army over the winter of 1777–1778 in the American Revolutionary War. The troops were lead by General George Washington. It was a place of bitter cold and we all have visions of soldiers in threadbare clothing half freezing to death. However, as we found out, winter was not when most died. They died in the spring when disease became rampant.
We got there in the afternoon around 3pm, which means at this time of year the sun is already starting to sit low in the sky. We still had two hours of light, but it was late afternoon light, the kind which sets already vibrant colors aflame.

However, it doesn't make taking back lit images very easy. Here are the four of us in front of a cabin in which 12 men lived. I had put the camera on a stump and set the self timer. Had I just made us face the other way - we would have had deer in the background of the picture: The deer were everywhere. At one point Linda made me stop the car so she could lean out the window and take more pictures. :)
It was so beautiful to be out there. They were impressed with the size of the place. We drove all around it and stopped at different points. It was windy and chilly but it was quite beautiful.

Since Linda is a late October baby we went to Susanna Foo's for dinner. I think they liked it. :)
Marsha had the duck, Judy had the shrimp and Linda had the Moo Shoo Pork and I had the fillet minion - after - the dim sum platter and before the desert. YUM. Oh yummy. That place is a real treat.

On Tuesday everyone went their separate ways.

Jacques and I both miss our ladies. It's very quiet now that they are gone. Every morning I let Jacques out of the apartment and he walks out, looking up the stairs with his ears perked up listening intently to see if anyone might be upstairs. It was a wonderful visit - so much good conversation, such easy house guests - and really wonderful companionship. I'm so happy they came and I really looking forward to the next visit. They gave me a very generous gift certificate to Restoration Hardware… I'm pretty sure I will be able to use it right quick like. :) Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Catch-up Blog #1 - My big award

I have received the International Bug Lovers Club of the World award!
I have lots of things to catch up on, but this one is really the most pressing. Several weeks ago - I believe after the second debate - there was a comment on the blog that I had received this award. It came in the mail several weeks later (and several weeks ago), in a neon yellow envelope. I have not acknowledged it yet - so would like to take this post to say, Thank you!!! I am truly honored to have received this award! I am delighted to know that there is another group of people who think bugs are really cool. I was hoping to be able to post images the big spider who kept making a web on my front hedge. I kept walking into her web in the morning, and she finally decided to move higher up, over the top of the hedge. Unfortunately, Mr. El had been eyeing my hedge and hounding me to trim it. I waited too long and he did it for me while I was at work one day. No more spider. Sigh. Stay tuned - I love bugs too - and will most likely post more about them.

And to the rest of you bloggers, handing out blog awards… neener neener neener … I got a bug award!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beautiful Fall

I owe you all a long blog about all kinds of stuff. I want to talk about our trip to Valley Forge, my show, Pyramid Atlantic and the surprise of Monday Morning. :)
But for now - all I can manage to post (at midnight) are two of the beautiful fall images I took at Valley Forge on Monday. We got there in the afternoon and had afternoon sunlight for about 2hours. Spectacular.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wonderful Visitors

Three of the fantastic teachers I taught with at La Serna have come to visit for the weekend. Linda, Marsha and Judy. It has been a wonderful visit so far. I feel terrible about having to leave them on their own on Saturday for Pyramid Atlantic, my fault - for not making sure I wasn't scheduling a thousand things at once.
Jacques was not so thrilled with the visitors. First thing in the morning, Jeff the contractor came to look at what we were going to do with the bathroom, they will start maybe next week. Leah came - bless her - and cleaned. Then Mike the knife sharpener came with the blades for my board shear and guillotine. (Yippee! Now I'm in business!). And then the three ladies showed up. It was a tough day. So to let me know this, when we were upstairs looking at the last room in the house, he sat on the bed with the brand new sheets and covers I had bought for the visit and peed all over it. It was amazing. They were so nice about it though. Thank goodness. That could have been really awful. Sigh.
By the time I got home from the fair the next day, they were all on the best of terms. Jacques and Linda seem to have really warmed up to each other. Here he is on her lap. Animal love is good - especially for someone who had had their wallet stolen that day. :(!

Today - Sunday -
We took the Mural Arts Tour. This is a two hour bus tour to look at just a few of the over 2800 Murals that are in Philadelphia. We had a terrific guide and I saw parts of Philadelphia I'd never seen before. Some fantastic murals too. It's like visiting old friends. We stopped at the Underground Railroad Mural on 7th and Chestnut - and here you can get an idea of the size. This is a mosaic mural, the most expensive mural. My ladies are standing in front of it.

We went to Redding Terminal for "lunch" at 3pm, and then went to look at a few more murals and we stopped at Isaiah Zagar's Secret garden which one can now go into and look around. It's fantastic. Here are the ladies looking down in one of the little grottoes. Zagar is a local artist who is continually working on this place, everything, the entire house, is covered in this style. It's fantastic.

But maybe the highlight for me this time was going over to Girard and 40th to look at the little girl reading a book with butterflies flying out of it. There is a new mural there as well and so we drove around the block to try to get an idea of what it looked like in the twilight. And lo and behold, the mural did exactly what they are supposed to do, give people pride in their neighborhood and bring people together. Dante - a block captain - (a young person maybe 16 - 18?) came over and talked to us about both murals. His younger brother was on one of them and the little girl was another friend of his on the same block. His pride in the murals was evident.
More adventures tomorrow - HSP collections, my show, Valley Forge and Susanna Foo's.
It's going to be a great day.

Friday, November 7, 2008


The reason there have been so few blog entries about what I'm doing in my house is because I've been madly working on my two-person show. The opening was tonight. I have mixed feelings about the work, but the response was generally positive. Here are some of the pictures.
Adrienne and Mary too. Adrienne was the first person to see this work, since she was the first to install it during the show she invited us to have in Venice - thanks Adrienne!

This book has stitched text and contains an abalone shell. I promise to write up a better blog entry with the entire book and the whole text. This is the piece I have the most mixed feelings about.

A Single Seed
An accordion book with an image of an orchard. The trees have been stitched with gold thread and there is a yellow pearl hanging at the end of each tree.

Will also send more images of this. This one was popular.
Interns, volunteers and coworkers extraordinaire!
Cathleen was supposed to be in this picture as well, but she was making a face that if I had been making, I would have been upset that someone else posted, so I cropped her out. Sorry Cathleen! We'll have to do an honorary post later. Cathleen is the Archivist for the Chew Family papers. To see her handy work, check out the blog:
Mike (left) is our front desk guy (Visitor Services I think?) and exhibitions guy. He also graciously volunteers in the conservation lab on his day off - way to go!
Leah (center) is our fantastic Conservation Technician for the Chew Papers. She started with an internship - conserving a wedding certificate album which took over 300 hours of work. Thanks Leah!
Christopher (right) is our amazing volunteer who is rehousing all of our nitrate negatives. A super boring job, but he's still here. :) Lots of good karma for you.

Hedi Kyle and Katie Baldwin - two fantastic book artist to whom I owe a great debt for many different things. Thank you!

Nodin and me. Nodin's mommy is my Swiss friend Nicole, Nodin is four month old with the fattest cheeks. Yup, he's adorable.

And finally, the two relieved artists - well, I can only speak for myself. Caleb seems unfazed by the whole thing in a calm sort of way, (do I look a little green in this image?)

Now! Back to the house . . . 8am tomorrow, a contractor is coming to start looking at the bathroom so that we can re-do that.

It's been a heckuva week. Lots of stress, emotion, ups and down and the time-change didn't help either. Three of the amazing ladies I taught with in California are coming for the weekend tomorrow. I am really looking forward to spending time with them and relaxing.

Then it will be back to the house. I have tulip bulbs to plant.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What a Beautiful Day

I woke up this morning with a feeling like Christmas. Giddy excitement - a general feeling that today was a special day. In spite of the grey rainy wheather, it was such a beautiful day. The greyness amplified the vibrant fall colors. I waited until 9:30 to vote - waited in line for 45 minutes, and proudly pushed the VOTE button for Obama. There was a feeling of good will everywhere. A conversation in line in front of me talked of a woman who was driving up from DC to make sure her 85-year-old parents could participate in this historic election. People who had participated in the '60s and never thought they would live to see a black president.
Around 3 I started driving people to the poles - well only one people, the others were picked up by someone else. I then drove campaign info to different places and was finally sent out to canvassers up in north west Philadelphia. I knocked on doors of one block - everyone said they had voted except for the nut who opened his door and told us they put their faith in the kingdom of heaven and they wouldn't be participating in what was going on down here.
At 7:30 the canvasser in charge got off his cell phone and said quietly, "they called Pennsylvania for Obama." We couldn't believe it - everyone said, "really?" YES! Group hug, 6 complete strangers hugging each other - a car on the corner started flashing its lights and honking at us, the contents screaming "OBAMA!"
I went to a late dinner with friends - the restaurant was empty. 10:30 got back home to work on the artwork I still haven't finished that must be installed tomorrow.
At 11:03 - the city went crazy. I could hear people screaming, cars honking. It's two hours later and cars are still driving down my street honking. I am thrilled that this victory is receiving the same response as the Phillies victory less than a week ago! I was hoping for this. I am so proud of us. Obama's speech was wonderful - and as I listened, I thought, what will he do after his presidency - well, I think he'll just have to win the Nobel Peace price for something, right?

The song running through my head as I write is Louie Armstrong's, What a Wonderful World…oh yeah.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Phillies Win!

I'm a day late in posting what I wanted to post. Will post later this week about WHY! My show opens on Thursday and it has completely consumed me.

However. . . in other news, the Phillies won the World Series! Philadelphia is euphoric. I didn't work on Thursday, and the big Parade was on Friday. I took the train in to work, and it was packed. Phillies fans were already wandering around, clogging the Starbucks - so I had to drink work coffee. And it was just a mass of people. I've never seen so much red and white in one place in my life. We were hoping the library would be closed, but no such luck. It might have happened if it wouldn't have been for WHYY, our local PBS TV station, filming for a spot about the Chew Papers. They were around until 3:30 and the powers that "were", decided we couldn't close on their behalf. That's okay. We wouldn't have seen much of the parade anyway.
Leah, two interns, and I tried at 12:30 to get to the parade route. It was simply tides of people. On Spruce we couldn't get within half a block of Broad St. So we snuck around to Cypress, one of those little bitty streets and we did get much closer. We pushed into the crowd as far as it was possible to go. We'd push some more and there was no where for anyone to go. So we were stuck. I did capture an image of the Philly Fanatic. (the Phillies mascot (!?)). We landed in front of the Kimmel Center which was crammed with people. We did get to see the floats go by, and we saw a few of the team. I just thought it was great to be with so many happy people.

On our way back to HSP we saw this gentleman with his pipe and I had to shoot a picture of him. It's amazing how old men love to have their picture's taken. Then he told me about going to Reading Terminal that morning and since it was Halloween - I should be careful going home. He also said, wouldn't it be great if we were this happy 365 days of the year. Yes, wouldn't it. We got back to HSP to find Tyrone (one of our Facilities guys) filming all of the millions of people coming off of Broad St. We sat on the front porch to eat our lunch for about a half hour, and the waves of people did not let up. There is a PATCO (New Jersey Transit) entrance right next to our building and at one point it there was no place for anyone to go they just mobbed the street waiting to get down the stairs.
When we went back inside, Dr. Dan told us they heard in the news that SEPTA (South Eastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority) gave up on getting people to center city. They just stopped running trains. This is after they had already doubled and added more cars to their usual number of trains. Pretty amazing.
The people just didn't stop either. The stadiums are sort of walking distance from center city, so after the parade half of the 2million people that apparently came went to the stadiums. At 5:30 when I was headed over to UArts, all of those millions were headed back up Broad. They didn't stop coming. What a great day for Philadelphia, I know all of the businesses in center city go a great financial boost. Our favorite lunch spot was jammed. And I am very happy for them.
I just wish that if Obama wins, we would have the same euphoria and the same celebration.