Driving in Tuscany: The Italy Diaries, Part V

street in FiesoleOne of the reasons we chose Fiesole as our base in Florence was to have easy access to Florence. Florence has changed since our last visit in the mid 1990’s—-more cars, more traffic jams, and far fewer parking spaces. We quickly discovered that driving in Florence is a major challenge and parking is practically impossible ....more

Ferrrara: The Italy Diaries, Part IV

Castello Estense, Ferrrara our trip to Italy in the Fall of 2014 I wrote a few blog posts abut the trip( See So happy to be back in Veniceand Verona’s Magical Old Town.) But then I got so involved in politics and then gardening that I never finished posting my Italy notes.My last post was about our trip to the incredibly beautiful Lake Garda. We wanted to stay for forever at the lake side Villa Giula but but considering how expensive the wonderful hotel restaurant was, it was just as well we had to move on. Then off to Ferraro ....more

The hydrangeas are back!

Nikko Blue is back2014 was the year without hydrangeas—or at least without my beloved hydrangea macrophylla AKA mopheads. Unlike the mopheads, the lacecaps can apparently survive the most brutal winter and I did have lacecap hydrangeasin 2014.I was really afraid that the exceptionally cold winter of 2015 would mean another summer without hydrangea macrophylla. To my great relief that did not occur.One of the fun things about hydrangea varieties--the color varies depending on where you plant them ....more

Block Island June 2016

My husband Rick and I just returned from block Island. I never thought we’d return to the same vacation spot every year, but we’ve fallen in love with Block Island, a tiny little island about 14 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. You have to really love this place to put up with the hassles of getting there ....more

The Wyck Rose Garden has inspired me to try again to grow old roses

Last week I finally got it together to go to the Wyck Rose Garden I can’t believe that despite living in Northwest Philly for the past 50(!) years, this was my first visit to the Wyck Rose Garden.The roses were slightly past peak thanks to an unseasonal heat wave, but the fragrance was still overwhelming. Wyck gives these roses what they want—-full sun. There’s no getting around it; roses require full sun ....more

Alice Goffman powerful ethnographic study of a West Philadelphia neighborhood, On the Run : Fugitive Life in an American City

I recently read sociologist’s Alice Goffman powerful ethnographic study of a West Philadelphia neighborhood, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City. Goffman some how gained the trust of young men in a poor African-American community and for 6 years lived in the community in order to document their lives. The power of the book lies in the details--the thick description of the lived experience of these young men and their families ....more

Jim Kenney for Mayor: We can't take this for granted!

When Jim Kenney jumped into the race, I got on board right away. I admired his willingness to take on tough issues—e.g. LGBT rights, decriminalization of marijuana-- before it was politically safe to do so.Now four months later, after seeing the campaign he’s run, I’m more convinced than ever that he will be a great mayor.At forum after forum, he’s demonstrated deep knowledge of city government and has put forth a platform that is carefully thought out, progressive and achievable.A candidate’s campaign—particularly a campaign for executive office--gives us some inkling of the kind of administration he/she will run. And Jim Kenney has run a stellar campaign.He has brought together the multi-racial, cross-class coalition that he will need both to win and to govern ....more

Maybe it takes a really hard winter to appreciate spring

Cercis Canadensis AKA RedbudMaybe it takes a really hard winter to appreciate spring but I’ve been enjoying—intensely enjoying--every moment of the Spring of 2015. Yes I lost a few plants, but the ones which survived are doing really, really well. My early blooming deciduous rhododendron—Cornell’s Pink—has never looked so good.Cornell’s Pink rhododendronAnd the daffodils when they finally arrived have been spectacular.Ice Follies naturalizing all over my garden.I’ve been spending all the time I can spare in my garden ....more

Jim Kenney for Mayor: For once progressives are not divided

Usually a primary season is fraught with tension. The progressive community is divided about which candidates merit our support and I often find myself on different sides from my good friends, the people I work with in issue groups. Not this time.Given the broad support Jim Kenney has among progressives groups and organized labor, and given the cross racial, multi-ethnic coalition Jim Kenney has built, this feels more like a general election than a primary.What a contrast with past mayoral primaries! ...more

I have snowdrops and crocus, but where are the daffodils??

t I have snowdrops and crocus, but where are the daffodils??I have been keeping garden notes since 1996 and this is the first spring that I have not had daffodils blooming by April 1. The earth may be warming, but that’s sure not the case in my garden. (I am not a climate change denier, just an impatient gardener.)In 2013 which also had a cold miserable winter, at least by April 1 I had a few tete a tete daffodils (small bright yellow miniatures which are usually the first to bloom) ....more