November 2013


Posted by Ellen

Juniper Self, shown here with her mother Daphne, came dressed to cheer at Bryant-Denny Stadium last week for her first Alabama football game. The Crimson Tide beat University of Tennessee–Chattanooga, 49–0.

Today's Iron Bowl game at Auburn is for all the marbles. Roll Tide Roll.

Posted by Ellen

Posted by Ellen

The cold and the storms both showed up in Philadelphia this week, but somehow the effect we see here in a high mountain valley in the Tyrolean Alps is a little more dramatic and astonishing than it is out on the streets and sidewalks of Brotherly Love. Pretty much all we've got in town right now are slashing rains and chill.

Posted by Ellen

In 1952, shortly after starrin' and dancin' in Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris, Gene Kelly posed for a Look magazine photoshoot by jumping over film cans labeled with the titles of all the movies he'd made.

Although he remained active in show business for four more decades, this moment in 1952 may have been something close to the peak of Kelly's career. The screen genre that made him a star–the movie musical with lots of big dance numbers–was already in decline, losing out to television. Kelly had signed a long-term contract with MGM, a studio that was cutting way back on its investment in musicals and wasn't keeping him particularly busy, even though it was also refusing to lend him out for opportunities such as Guys and Dolls.

For what it's worth, the whole "Good Morning" shtick of this blog comes from Singin' in the Rain, in particular from the song and dance that happens when we've talked the whole night through and it's just too late to say good night.

Posted by Ellen

Both of these Brittany Spaniels–bird dogs, for certain sure–believe they're onto something, here in a Pennsylvania marsh where just a few short months ago, sunflowers were smiling.

Posted by Ellen

Thanks to the work of this volunteer and many hundreds of others, Philadelphia got 850 new street trees on Saturday, bringing the overall regional total of trees planted to–according to the calculations of somebody or other, as of Saturday night–exactly 262,236.

The goal is a million new trees, in hopes of restoring the forest canopy area heareabouts to 30%, which would provide enough shade to significantly mitigate the urban heat-island effect and would improve air and water quality, reduce erosion and water pollution, and lessen the frequency and severity of flooding.

The tree roots at bottom right in this photo belong to a variety of maple tree that is particularly hardy in urban settings and has a growth habit suitable for its new home in the urban jungle on South 21st Street, in front of a dentist's office and across the street from a dry cleaner's.

Posted by Ellen

They're gutting yet another house in the neighborhood.

Posted by Ellen

Since it's November 22, our picture today is from Dallas, Texas. But so far as we know–and we believe we know far enough–it shows us nothing that adds anything whatsoever to our understanding of what happened in Dallas back then. It's just kind of a nice wall.

Posted by Ellen

Down at the far edge of South Philly, in the land of the Big Box Stores, floats the biggest box of them all, the old SS United States.

She was the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner ever built, more than 100 feet longer than the Titanic. There is more aluminum in her hull than in anything else on the planet. When she traversed the locks in the Panama Canal, there was just two feet of clearance on either side.

On her maiden voyage in 1952, she shattered the trans-Atlantic speed records in both directions. But 1952 was near the wrong end of the era of gilded passenger liners, and the SS United States has now spent more than half her life quietly rusting away at pierside in Philadelphia, across the street from an Ikea store that could probably fit comfortably in her ballroom.

That's an exaggeration. Most likely, her ballroom could only hold Best Buy.

Posted by Ellen

Horses are washed in the Eden River before being paraded through town for the Appleby Horse Fair last June.

The annual fair is Europe's largest gathering of gypsies and travellers. It is also one of the oldest fairs in England, occurring every June since 1685, when King James II granted a royal charter permitting a horse fair "near to the River Eden" in Cumbria; an estimated 10,000 English and Welsh gypsies, Irish travellers, and Scottish gypsy/travellers assemble for the fair to buy and sell horses and catch up with friends and relatives.

In recent years, the gypsies are joined by about 30,000 non-travellers (muggles?)  who travel to Appleby to see the gypsies and their horses.

"Appleby Horse Fair is not an organised event," warns a local government publication aimed at potential tourists. "There is no set programme for anything happening. The horses are washed and trotted up and down the flashing lane.

"There is a market on Jimmy Winter's field selling a variety of goods–some traditional to the gypsy/travelling community–and other. To arrange to sell on that field, please contact Jimmy Winter....

"There is no horse auction. Sale arrangements are made buyer to seller for cash. The price will usually include extra for Luck Money."

Tourists are also warned that accommodations in the vicinity during fair week will be "rarer than hen's teeth. If you have a tent, however, you may be able to camp at Holme Farm Field. Speak to Mrs. Bousfield."