The Next Stage

I recently retired as professor of Women's Studies at Community College of Philadelphia and a write a blog on women and retirement at I've published articles/books on education and feminism including: Teaching Feminist Activism, co-edited with Nancy Naples, Routledge; “Service Learning and Activism,” in Gender and Higher Education, Praeger. I've also had a long career as a feminist activist, most recently as President of Philadelphia NOW. I have recently published a history of second wave feminism in Philadelphia--Feminism in Philadelphia: The Glory Years, 1968-1982. Please see: I am currently writing a history of Philadelphia Democratic Party ward politics, based largely on my experiences as an elected democratic committeeperson(l986-2014).

Why was Bob Brady so concerned about getting Judge Jimmie Moore out of the 2012 congressional race?

Why was Bob Brady so concerned about getting Judge Jimmie Moore out of the 2012 congressional race? Given his campaign war chest and long standing ties with ward leaders and elected officials in the district, Brady should not have been too worried. However, if Moore had stayed in the race and done reasonably well, he would have exposed Brady’s vulnerability as a white congressperson representing a largely African-American district and encouraged future challengers ....more

Ellis Island Museum

Last week my husband, my son and I went to Ellis Island Museum. I can’t believe that in all these years, I never managed to get it together to visit the Museum. With Trump waging a war against immigrants, it seemed like a good time to learn a little more about the history of immigration ....more

My optimistic 2009 4th of July post makes for painful reading in the age of Trump

I’ve never been the patriotic type. I came of age in the 1960s and thought of my country as racist and imperialist. Of course there was the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement, the counter tradition I identified with ....more

Block Island is beautiful even when it's cold and rainy!

wild sweet pea on Block IslandWe’ve been going to Block Island for many years and have generally had good weather. It looked like this year our luck was running out. The first three days were cold and rainy, but the island is so beautiful and we love it so much that we convinced ourselves it didn’t matter, and we would have a good time despite the rain ....more

Change is coming to Democratic Party

A consensus appears to be emerging that our one party town can no longer afford an undemocratic Democratic Party. Some of the new committeepersons who were elected in 2014 were horrified when they discovered what goes on in their wards: Dictatorial ward leaders who think that democracy begins and ends with the ward leader election. No vote on endorsements and in some cases not even finding out who will be on their ward ballot until Election Day ....more

Gardening for Fragrance

What I love most about spring and early summer flowers is the fragrance. My favorites are carlesi viburnum and the common lilac, syringa vulgaris. The flowers last for a short time but it’s worth putting up with these not particularly attractive shrubs for those few days of glorious fragrance.Then my garden is suffused with the musky fragrance of cherry laurel and tree peonies —again for only a few precious days ....more

The great spring awakening!

I thought maybe it was my imagination, but the great spring awakening was coming thicker and faster than usual. Then I read the Inquirer article What’s behind the leaf explosion? Why the region suddenly has turned green? ...more

A garden full of blasted buds—the price paid for our summery February

One of the few survivors, Pieris JaponicaMy garden is filled with blasted buds and it looks like I will not have the wonderful Spring display of quince and forsythia. The only early flowering shrub that survived the recent wintry blast is my Pieris Japonica—not too surprising since it is hardy to zone 4. close-up of PierisJust maybe a few late forming forsythia and quince buds have survived and will eventually bloom.Hellebores are as reliable as Pieris--they always survive a frost:hellebores as cut flowers hellebores in the garden The flowers of early spring bulbs usually survive but the stems are flattened:daffodils battered by the snow scilla siberica flattened by the snow.It's practically April and it never snows in April, right??? ...more

Ties--a powerful novel by Domenico Starnone (AKA Elena Ferrante) now in English translation

As someone in the grip of Ferrante fever, I was eager to read Ties by Domenico Starnone, widely thought to be a co-author of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet. Until Claudio Gatti’s recent revelations about Ferrante’s identity, I assumed that Ferrante was a woman who shared the impoverished Neapolitan background of her primary characters Elena and Lila—a claim Ferrante had made in many interviews and letters collected in her recent volume, Frantumaglia. Like many of Ferrante’s women readers, I dismissed the rumors about Starnone’s possible authorship or co-authorship with his wife Anita Raja ....more

Crocus, Daffodils, and Hellebores are popping up all over!

Usually by this time of year I am sick of ice and snow and desperate for Spring. This year not so much. Yes, I am eagerly awaiting the start of the gardening season, but given the mild winter I am not as desperately eager as usual ....more