Monday, November 23, 2015

I Heart Philly


My girl's neighborhood in Philadelphia is a study in contrast. There are lovely old brick row houses with potted geraniums and mosaic murals and vintage bicycles painted turquoise parked next to the lamp posts, and across the street is razor wire and emtpy lots full of windblown trash. Gingko trees litter the sidewalks in gold.
This, a corner cafe next to the train station, has fairy-lit patio seating and a dog watering station. Fancy ice cream. A decorative pumpkin on each table. Across the street:
Spray-painted signs and piles of tires. There is beautiful, and there is grim. It's a neighborhood in regeneration, or else maybe this is the way it is in a city? The place is abundant with teensy dogs, being walked two and three at a time. Everyone, everyone is unfailingly friendly. Plastic bags blow around. A little girl wearing glasses kicks a pink ball. On the train, people sleep leaning against the window.
We walked forever, across the city in all directions, in search of one thing for me (soup dumplings, score!) and another for the doctor (vegan pizza!) and yet another for the girl (art). Being lazy in Starbucks on Sunday morning, we were surprised to see what could have been no other than a marathoner, wearing a finisher's medal and a safety blanket marked "Philadelphia Marathon 2015" and carrying a bag full of race swag. He was sprinkling cinnamon on his latte and whistling. More appeared, looking relaxed and pink-cheeked, if also slightly underfed. It was Marathon Day in the city. We walked toward the Museum of Art, through safety checkpoints and around barricades, once accidentally going into the wrong museum (!!) and asking at least four different clutches of uniformed police how we could get from right here to over there [" Go back to the 18th Street checkpoint." "Go up to 22nd and take a left, no more than ten minutes." "Maybe they'll let you through the barrier over there?"] It took forty minutes to hack through the race mobs and barricades to reach the famous steps by which time I could not imagine running up them. If that song had been playing anywhere, though, I would have. You would have, too. Best song in the world, ever.
They danced a little. It is really just the thing to do up there.
Inside, I tried to get a laugh out of the cashier by saying, "Hoo! It's crazy out there. This art better be worth it. These are the good paintings, right?" Which earned me a raised eyebrow and a tiny, indulgent sniff. Under her breath, my girl said, "That gets a laugh, like, 25% of the time," which cracked me up. We tried really hard to behave, quietly dissing the Renoirs ("Why does he have to blend everything into oblivion?") and the Monets ("That bridge over the waterfall is making me feel tense") and marveling at the Manets ("Just the suggestion of a waistcoat!") and the Klimts. A handful of docents saw us tilting our heads in mystification at Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase". One said, "I look at that every day and I still don't see it." Another came over, waved an arm at us all and said, "Stand back, Im'a teach you this painting. Her eyes? [points] Her arm? [gestures] The rest is movement." Click. The other docent was all, "Oh yeaaaaahhh! Now I see it!" The best.
Some parts of Philadelphia look like a movie set.
We walked down to Loop on South Street (oh please, let me live there) and I felt up all the Brooklyn Tweed and Madelinetosh. I couldn't help it with those four skeins of Shelter, dear me, it's divine.
Five minutes from home, it started to pour snow, and we came the last ten miles in a whiteout blizzard. Woke up to this:
And there are leftover soup dumplings in my fridge right now.

32 comments:

  1. Lovely blog and photos; thanks. Winter up here in Calgary, too.! Not so pretty, though.
    It seems the gingko leaves would do lovely contact dyeing? We don't have them up here.

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    1. They probably would! There are so many of them everywhere, it would be worth a try. :)

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  2. Philly is my favorite city that I've gotten to visit. I've been to NYC 2x, but I was too young and too afraid of adventure to have done it properly. Philly was the last city I went to on a business trip, and I was old enough and brave enough to explore. Reading Terminal Market was AWESOME because of DiNick's sammies. Then I walked to Loop. Zomg. So much yarn. Those gingkos are out of control too! :D

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    1. Oooh, I haven't had a DiNick's sammie yet! Must do that next time. :)

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  3. Yep, that's Philly all over--a study in contrast. Right down to the people. Part of you loves it, another part doesn't know what to make of it, and another part wants to roll its eyes and say "Yeah, that's about right."

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    1. I keep going back and forth--is it beautiful here? Is it? Do I love it? Or is it a mess? I still don't know, and my girl isn't sure either. :D

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  4. It is a city that I have only changed plane at rather than visited. But it certainly seems like a place of two halves. Sounds like a fun visit, which is what life is all about.

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    1. It's a place of mixed feelings, every time. :)

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  5. Great post. Good to see your people here too and the dancing. Soup dumplings! I am salivating. I haven't had soup dumplings since NYC 2008. I dream of them.

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    1. Sally, it is time for more dumplings! 2008 is ages ago! I wonder if Shanghai 1 would mail them? Hmmm...

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  6. I live right near Loop, and recognize your daughter's neighborhood! It is a funny place, where elegant and fancy sits just beside run down or just plain old. Walk for 5 blocks and you can see an entire study in demographics. It's part of what I love about living here.

    I'm glad you had such a wonderful time.

    Now I really wish I had some soup dumplings ...

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    1. Well, all you gotta do is walk up to 10th and Arch and get some! Lucky girl. :)

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  7. A wonderful virtual tour around Phily. Those gingko trees - that beautiful yarn. But I can't believe you have snow again!!

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    1. I know, right? I'm hardly over it from last year yet. :)

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  8. Wonderful trip you took us on in Philly. We're supposed to get our first measurable snow of the season tonight. Pretty...but cold.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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    1. Ugh, the cold. Must go shopping for some more tights. :)

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  9. Thanks for sharing your photos of Philly. I have never been there, but see the same
    contrasts in Chicago, when visiting our son. And he would take us to all kinds of neighborhoods to find the right deli!

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    1. I'm such a small town girl, so every city I've been to so far just seems magical. I love Chicago, too. :)

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  10. lovely photos!! i like the geranium! Philly is beautiful place!!thank by share!

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  11. Pardon the ignorance of this British granny, but what are soup dumplings? I know what dumplings are... coming from Yorkshire to me dumplings evoke small fluffy balls made from suet and flour, seasonings (and herbs, though this is going against the grain for some diehard Yorkshire folk) which you use to pop into a casserole. Are soup dumplings the same, perhaps one of you kind ladies would care to enlighten me?

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    1. We call those dumplings here, too. Chinese soup dumplings (I think they are a Shanghai cuisine thing) are a different creature altogether--they are made with a small ball of seasoned ground pork (or other meat, I suppose) and a bit of meaty gelatin-y stuff (the good part) inside a carefully sealed wrapper. They look like teeny pillows, and when steamed, the meaty gel-stuff melts into soup, inside the pillow. So you have this little dough wrapper, inside of which is a meatball and a mouthful of (boiling hot) soup. It's a challenge to eat them without losing any of the soup, and you really don't want to lose the soup because it's the best part. You have to hold it with chopsticks, bite a tiny hole in the dough, slurp out the soup, then eat the rest, all without spilling any. In my city, soup dumplings are not to be found--I think you need a big city with a flourishing Chinatown neighborhood. If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to try them, you should do it. And then life will never be the same! :)

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  12. Love your story telling! Been to Philly but never saw it through those glasses. Spray

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    1. We've been three times now, and there's still so much to do. Food, museums, architecture, more museums. YARN. Wonderful. :)

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  13. Wonderful photos. Looks like a nice time was had by all.

    South Street is pretty incredible.

    If you haven't done so yet, I recommend "doing the tourist thing" and seeing Independence Hall, Betsy Ross House, The Liberty Bell, The Mint...so much history all packed into a small place.

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    1. That is definitely on my list of must-dos. We've seen it all from the outside, but I'd like to do a real tour. :)

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    2. Based on things you've written here, I believe you will fall madly in love with the tour!

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  14. I don't know what soup dumplings are, but I bet that I'd like them! Dumplings in any form are perfection. Your daughter's block is wonderful - and how nice to have Purl down the way for mom's visits!
    Mostly, I loved seeing your snow. Call it crazy, but I live for this season. Glad you got home safely.

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    1. Soup dumplings = dough + seasoned pork + savory broth, all in one bite. Divine!!!! You would love.

      I'm working hard on the snow love thing. It's easiest right now. In March, not so much.

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  15. Kristen, your descriptions of your daughter's neighborhood reminded me of what it was like in the Brooklyn neighborhood I lived in back in the 1970s. Nowadays, that black is a millionnaires' row.

    Funny to have an early snow welcome you home. Happy Thanksgiving! xo

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  16. What a wonderful post! Love the black and white photo, especially. Must see Creed now! As for that tree with the crows, I'd keep it and say add some warm white battery fairy lights.

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  17. I want to agree with the comment above, black and white photos are really great! And what a tree! It is just so amazing and looking unbelievable!

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