Philadelphia

Posted by Ellen

In my humble opinion, in my humble backyard, even the hibiscus is not completely happy with life when the mercury hits 94 and the heat index is over 100.

You'd think something tropical and well-watered that only had to hold it together for a single day could bloom right through the scorching. And you'd be almost right. These flowers are still beyond awesome, at least a 20 on a scale of 1 to 10. But the heat's in charge these days, not the petals.

Air conditioning is my friend.

Posted by Ellen

In the City of Brotherly Whatever, this truck shows up every weekday at 33rd and Arch streets, offering such bean blends as Palooka, Revolver, and Whistle & Cuss.

Posted by Ellen

Hats trimmed free of charge, according to the bronze lettering above the 8th Street entrance to the old Lit Brothers Department Store in Philadelphia. The original Lits opened here in 1891 and expanded to about a dozen locations in southeast Pennsylvania and south Jersey before the national chains killed it off in the 1970s. Today, Ross Dress for Less occupies part of the first floor.

Posted by Ellen

It's t-ball time at Taney Field in Schuylkill River Park.

Posted by Ellen

Pace, Mother Maybelle.

Posted by Ellen

After Drexel's women's basketball team won the National Invitational Tournament on Saturday, beating the University of Utah in the final seconds of the game, students poured onto the court to celebrate.

Yes, that's the wrestling team down in front, but they'd come to cheer the Lady Dragons, not to rassle. They were wearing their singlets in a team effort aimed at winning $250 being offered by the athletic department to whichever of Drexel's non-basketball teams showed the most spirit at the game. The wrestlers didn't win–the prize went to the women's crew team for their dragon-themed "Feel the Fire" display, complete with sideways tilted baseball caps–but in our opinion, everybody who dresses in a singlet at a basketball game is a winner. And the wrestlers, whose season on the mat ended a few weeks ago, looked well-fed and frisky on the hardwood.

The basketball was championship-caliber as well. Utah led until late in the second half, when Drexel caught up but never could pull ahead by more than a point or two. With 21 seconds to go, Utah again had the lead and the ball. But one Drexel woman managed to tip Utah's throw-in, another snagged the ball, a third drove to the basket for a layup through traffic, and they all won their program's first post-season championship.

Posted by Ellen

They say the original matzoh-makers were in a mad rush that first night out of slavery and couldn't bake their bread with customary care and patience. Somehow, that biblical hurry led to perfect squares of matzoh with neat rows of perforations, packaged in cardboard and sold at Passover time for next to nothing by supermarkets hoping to lure in customers for other holiday purchases.

At Metropolitan Bakery in Philadelphia, however, matzoh is the focus of a new business model. It's baked with black olives or sun-dried tomatoes, and it's primitive in appearance, artisanal by reputation. Crowds of people stand in line for it, and they pay a pretty penny.

It seems that there's more than one way to make money off "comfort foods" that invoke the bad old days. Happy Passover, y'all.

Posted by Ellen

There was a warm spell the other day, and it was a weekend, and there were people dancing in Rittenhouse Square.

Posted by Ellen

We all live in a yellow submarine, absolutely including my mother and yellow flowers upon yellow flowers. The theme of this year's flower show–Brilliant, as in British–was in the air everywhere, as the lads from Liverpool sang about Strawberry Fields  and "Doing the garden, digging the weeds...." There was also a yellow submarine sort of thing out on the floor, pictured here.

Most of the cultural references were literary, however, as opposed to musical. There were Peter Rabbit cottage gardens and Harry Potter owlish gardens, and allusion after allusion to Alice and the rabbit and the queen. There was a Jane Austen dooryard with a calling card left in the door; the name engraved on it in flowery script couldn't quite be made out from behind the picket fence that kept spectators out of the flower beds.

Posted by Ellen

If this is the first week of March in Philadelphia, then it must be time for the Flower Show. Here in the Urban Gardens exhibition, we see a green wall of collards and kale, growing in dirt packed into a latticework on the wall.

Both kale and collards are tough enough to last well into the wintertime in Pennsylvania, so something like this could theoretically eke a little green wonderfulness out of a tiny little yard like mine during the season after the tomatoes are all tuckered out. I'm sure that a green wall is way too demanding, both green-thumb-wise and carpentry-wise, for a wishful sort of lazy gardener like me, but I can already taste that pot liquor.

Meanwhile, needless to say, they're finally predicting a little snow for our city.