Summer Detour

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This gallery contains 22 photos.

So, over the week of July 4th we took a drive through New Jersey in what seems to be a new tradition. — Though, putting it in writing will probably put an end to it.   We chose the hottest … Continue reading

Thoughts on Mother’s Day

So here it is, another Mother’s Day. One day out of the year when we say, “Hey thanks mom. Sorry for the temper tantrums, the dirty laundry, the million dishes, and the years of heartache. Today, families everywhere treat their moms to breakfast in bed, brunch, or dinner reservations. Little kids present hand drawn cards that mothers with cherish forever, and fathers give kisses, flowers and boxes of chocolates — and those dainty, ill-fitting, single-use pieces of silken fabric that mom will “save for a special occasion” that she knows will never come.

This one day out of the year is spent honoring the woman who did the best she could to ensure that you would succeed.

I want everyone to hold onto the spirit of this day when they go about their daily business. I want people to remember their mothers every time they interact with women. Every single man needs to treat every single woman with the same respect that every mother deserves.

If your mother was more Joan Crawford than June Cleaver, I feel for you. I don’t mean to suggest that you treat women as you would your own Mommie Dearest. Just follow the golden rule. Treat people (women too) the way you want to be treated.

Every faith in the world has it’s own version of the golden rule. Why then do we treat each other like shit?

If you still have trouble figuring it out, pretend your mother is in the room. If you wouldn’t say it or do it in front of your mother, then you probably shouldn’t be saying or doing it.

And a very happy Mother’s Day to all the unconventional mother figures out there. Single dads and LGBT parents need love too. 🙂

 

RIP Bertha and Creamsicle. …or was that Fish Two?

What we are mourning here…

is the passing of two 99¢ goldfish.

Bertha, Creamsicle, Ice, Fish One, and Fish Two. Bertha got his name because he eats everything. ...and it shows.

Bertha, Creamsicle, Ice, Fish One, and Fish Two. Bertha got his name because he eats everything. …and it shows.

In the spring of 2009, we re-purposed an old cast iron utility sink as a small goldfish pond. It would also serve as a makeshift water feature for the tiny 10 X 14 ft concrete space that we affectionately refer to as our “South Philly Backyard”.

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Our little oasis.

Salvaged bricks frame the cast iron sink, which served as home for a family of five goldfish. Bertha, Creamsicle, Ice, Fish One, and Fish Two. — Bertha got his name because he eats everything. …and it shows.

We made good use of a discarded plant display rack from our local home center. The steel frame footing served as a guide for the bricks, which are loosely mortared together. (We rent, so nothing can be permanent.) The bricks support the sink and raised planting beds on either side.

The magic word here is upcycling. We spent very little money on our “back yard”, but the results are truly amazing. Our small concrete lot is transformed into an oasis as winter turns into spring.

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A micro-ecosystem with plants, fish, insects, and the occasional bird.

It’s interesting how the addition of our little pond created a micro-ecosystem. Even though a small pump kept the water moving, some insects still found places to breed. Those insects became food for our fish and the birds who used our little oasis as a rest stop. Mourning Doves and Cardinals were a big surprise to me. Next year we’re going to try to attract humming birds.

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A shoveled path from backdoor to pond.

If you follow me on twitter, you might have read comical grumblings over the winter as I performed the necessary task of chipping away at the ice that formed on the top of the water. — Even frozen fish need air.

Bertha cought a slug!

Fish in protective custody.
Bertha (left) caught a slug!

Several weeks ago, we discovered a raccoon trying to hunt the goldfish. A Raccoon? Really? In South Philly?

After four years of heatwaves, blizzards, and chipping away at ice, we were not about to allow our goldfish to end up as a midnight snack for some wayward raccoon.

No sirree Bob! Not on our watch.

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Makeshift pond cover deterred Mr Raccoon for a few weeks.

The simplest idea was to steak chicken wire around the open water, and lay a weighted board over the pond at night. This, along with sprinkling a raccoon repellant around the perimeter of the yard seemed to work.

After a few weeks, and no more signs that the raccoon was making nightly visits, we let our guard down. Three later, the raccoon had his meal.

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The Evil Mr Raccoon.

Five summers is a decent lifespan for goldfish, but we’re still a bit saddened and somewhat incredulous. I’ve lived in or around Philly all my life. I’ve never seen evidence of raccoons.

I’ll miss those little guys. I’ll miss the way they come to the edge of the sink whenever they heard the backdoor open. I’ll miss chipping away at the ice in the dead of winter.

And yes, I’ll even miss the disturbing image of the eternally hungry Bertha with the occasional mouthful of the errant slug. YUCK!!

R.I.P. Bertha and Creamsicle.

…or was that Fish Two?

Mr Hopper. Then and Now

Yesterday I posted a pic on Tumblr of a grasshopper that was chillin’ in the backyard.

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Mr Hopper

My other half suggested that Mr Hopper might be one of the many tiny hoppers that we saw last spring. The little guys were everywhere! — Apparently, they love basil.

Baby Hopper

Baby Hopper

Here’s a pair of pics for comparison.

See… I told you it was like Wild Kingdom here in South Philly. 🙂

Summer Musings

It’s been a very wet July, though not a particularly hot one. There have even been nights that we were able to turn off the air conditioner.  I can’t remember the last summer that was possible.

I could lament the plight of farmers, and how the glut of rain has drowned their crops of fruits and vegetables. I could rant about climate change. But I’m choosing instead, to take a few moments to smell the flowers. I’ve been ranting enough. I need a break.

…and, I suspect, you do too.

Hibiscus peaking through the shadows on an early Sunday morning.

A Hibiscus bloom (left) peeking through the shadows on an early Sunday morning.

Our Hibiscus plant didn’t like the wet weather. It waited until just last week to bloom.

Now, as if in a rush to catch up, it’s throwing out multiple flowers at odd times of the day.

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It took the Morning Glories a while to flower, as well. It’s like they wanted to sleep-in until the rain subsided.

“Wake us when the rain stops.”

Good Morning, Mr Grasshopper

Baby Hopper

Baby Hopper

A baby grasshopper sits on the leaf of a Crown of Thorns plant (Euphorbia Millii) in our back yard – Which is really just a 10′ X 15′ patch of concrete behind our South Philly row home.

Grasshoppers have invaded our garden. I wouldn’t mind it so much, but they’ve been eating our basil. :\

I haven’t seen any of the adults this year, just these little guys. They’ve probably become food for the family of cardinals that have nested nearby.

In the years since we moved in, several of our neighbors have also started gardens in their small paved-over lots.

We’ve got quite the little microcosm going.