Posted on September 22, 2020
LARP Lecture Series: https://www.design.upenn.edu/landscape-architecture/events/activ-ism
Meyerson Hall is both closed and open. While students can get in and technically have workspace I know many of us would prefer to stay home. With the majority of classes online and the studio requirements adjusting to reflect that a workspace for model making and collaborating doesn’t seem to be needed.
However the downside to everything being online is the disappearance of spontaneous inspiration. Lectures that used to be good excuses to just change rooms and meet people not typically in your class now are events on a long calendar list of zoom meetings.
Despite the more limited interaction of these events the school has made an effort to create a lecture series that engages this years events directly. The Landscape Architecture series title Activism looks promising. I unfortunately missed the first lecture of the series but look forward to attending the future lectures.
While the lecture series are still in progress much of the typical school events seem to have dissapeared or become another zoom meeting. In their place students are self organizing zoom calls, video game sessions, bubble picnics, book clubs, and group chats of a wildly spontaneous and random nature. These are all nice touches and I am undecided as of yet whether I like them more than studio.
On one hand I can choose when to engage and when not to. On the other hand perhaps this only works because these are all students I already know and don’t have to force the interactions to function. It will certainly be interesting to see how the new class handles this odd disconnect.
On that note, the Student Mentorship Program is officially started. Mentors have been assigned mentees from the incoming class. Students should connect in the next few days so perhaps then I will have a better idea of how the new class is doing!
The semester is still young and I am sure to have plenty more updates as things start to settle! Til then, good luck with studies and work!
Posted on September 22, 2020
Philly Aids Thrift: http://phillyaidsthrift.com/
Shopping can be fun. A bit of a wasteful pastime, particularly if everything purchased is new every single time. Personally, I prefer the second hand market. There’s very few things that absolutely must be brand new in my book. The majority of things we own, tables, chairs, books, clothes, plates, etc are perfectly good second hand.
I have rummaged through a fair number of Goodwill’s and Buffalo Exchanges in the North. This weekend I went with a friend to a “new” thrift store I hadn’t been to: Philly Aids Thrift.
We went to the location in the Society Hill – Queens Village area of South Philly. As with all places in Covid era there is a maximum occupancy and so lines are to be expected to get into the store. Once inside it is a little chaotic. There is a sense of organization that is subverted by the sheer amount of things and the odd interior. The building seems to be two or three different buildings all joined together through a maze of wall openings and bizarre interior decor which most of which is for sale. A floor plan exists but is easily missed at the entrance, I am placing it down below for future visitors. I hope it doesn’t change too much!
Once you get used to the maze it is a delight to search through all the little things there! I know next time I go that I will spend more time going through the $1 dollar bins of clothes, books, and odds-n-ends. The clothing racks regardless of size or posted gender are all worth searching through as I found some things were jumbled into wrong categories. Perhaps shoppers take to hiding things? I am not sure if that works quite as well in a thrift store. Regardless of the reason be sure to set aside some time, an entire afternoon really, to just comb through this store. I didn’t really find some things till I had looked a second time.
Of course with such a treasure trove store I wasn’t going to be able to leave empty handed. I am very happy with two dresses I found that require no fixing to be worn. I have a few bracelets to jazz up my zoom conferences in which I move my hands around while talking and editing on google docs. I have a few more tea cups to entertain guests at future tea parties. My friend also did not leave empty handed. We had intended to find him a decent winter coat and we absolutely did! In fact, this coat look brand new, unused, and had both an outer and inner separable jackets with zippers, pockets galore, and nice hazard flashy “stickers”, if you will. To boot, it came in the most beautiful bright yellow! Honestly if he hadn’t taken it I just might have, although I would be swallowed whole by it. In addition to his intended find he finally bought wine glasses and happened across a working rice cooker.
Not every thrift store experience is quite this fruitful. A lot of thrift shopping is hunting and searching and checking in every couple days to see if what you’re looking for is there. I certainly had that experience this summer when looking for patio and interior furniture. I am excited to see how my next visit to Philly Aids Thrift goes!
Til then I will be visiting my old haunts, and searching for “new” places to check out. If you readers have any recommendations I am all ears! Let me know places you love, hate, or haven’t been to but have heard off and want a review. Till the next time!
Posted on September 3, 2020
With the Pandemic going strong more spaces are coming to serve multiple purposes. My childhood home was no longer a cozy place of memory but a chaotic work-live space with five other people vying for the same resources. My apartment in Philly is no longer the place I go to relax and crash after a long day since I now spend my entire day here.
One thing I realized quickly was that both places needed to undergo changes to function for everyone. I needed to subdivide these spaces and practice new habits to make the most of my live-work space. Here are some of the following ways I have adjusted my apartment (and even my childhood home) for the past and upcoming semester:
I understand that some of this advice is contingent on having lots of free space. And even space that isn’t shared. But this is do able even with five other people living in the same space! It really just requires communication, flexibility, and mobility.
Honestly be kind to yourself! Try things out, maybe one at a time, until things click. If anyone has any other suggestions for really pandemic proofing their work-live spaces for maximum livability and work productivity please share! I love to keep improving and hope this helps!
Posted on September 3, 2020
While at home I had a much larger garden to plan and a series of projects inside and outside the house, my second home doesn’t need quite as much work. Having left my apartment in March I knew that coming back in August one thing would certainly need work: my garden.
The before was just too sad to photograph but the after is quite lovely. I am sorry to the plants that didn’t make it. I am happy to say that a fair number of the plants were salvageable and are making strong comeback!
Some of the survivors include my 6 year old cactus, a number of succulents, a succulent like plant with gorgeous red flowers, a struggling but trying desert rose, some thai mint, staghorn fern, and a money tree. The newest member which I am most excited for is my yellow rose! I can’t wait for it to bloom!
The last blossom had a lovely strong perfume. I have since cut off the old buds and pruned away the sickly branches. New buds have started to form and I am super excited for the big reveal!
Posted on September 3, 2020
The Back Porch has seen better days. Up until this past week (think June when this started) it has been the safe house for many miscellaneous items from the Florida sun, rain, and heat. As the redesign of the backyard ramps up the design has extended into this poorly used space.
Project Porch was officially started earlier this week with a clean out. Bulky furniture, old toys, and gardening tools were pulled out of the space to make way for patch work. The Porch itself had suffered from a set of broken tiles (damaged by unknown source). These surrounding tiles in turn began to lift and became more susceptible to breaking as items were moved out of the porch. In all 12 tiles were cut out and replaced.
Thankfully we had an extra set of the correct tiles to patch together the hole in the floor. After a quick trip to Home Depot/Lowe’s to purchase grout and mortar, finally had everything necessary to fix the floor. My Mom and I spent the next two days, probably 3 hours a day, to sand, sweep, mix materials, and lay out the tiles. Thankfully the mortar and grout each had drying periods of 24 hours so once everything was set in we could work on other tasks.
Second task to occupy us while the tiles set were an old-to-new set of benches. There were two older backless benches in the porch which we decided to re-cover and keep. Several photographs of the porch and pool tiles and a quick trip to Joann’s and we had new blue fabric to complete the set. With fabric in hand and a note to check how much seating foam we had at home, we returned to the hard work of stripping down the seats. Surprisingly, despite all the other work, the task of removing staples from the benches to remove the original seating cover ripped up the skin on my finger. Honestly didn’t expect that task of all tasks to get me. Once the staples were all removed the benches needed to be sanded and prepped for staining.
Once the tiles were fully set and the benches ready we proceeded with our clean out. The porch was emptied of all furniture, potted plants, fishing cats, and other odds-n-ends. The walls were washed with a sprayer filled with a Jomax-bleach-water mix and then rewashed with a water rinse. The newly finished floor was swept, mopped, and shined. At least 6 wasp nests were removed and the very insistent occupants shooed away. Artwork was hung up on the walls.
The furniture and odds-n-ends that had be removed were now carefully sorted through. Furniture from the house was selected to update the indoor-outdoor look of the porch. Some of the original odds-n-ends were selected for resale and others were sent to the trash/recycling. A few pieces were salvaged to sand, paint, stain, refurbish and reintroduce to the porch.
The pieces selected for resale will help fund the redesign of the porch and backyard. There’s already a list of things to buy, including additional porch seating, planter boxes, gravel, good soil, cypress mulch, etc. Thankfully, thus far, each new part to the project has supported the rest of the project in surprising ways, from finding much needed resources to funding purchases.
A lot of time and some of the funding went into the search for chairs. Hunting for the style of chairs wanted, for the right price, and in the right time frame (August!!!) was different. From online sites like Wayfair and Amazon to local garage sales, thrift stores, Goodwills, and department stores it was a really interesting search with a lot of unique finds. Ultimately we purchased a set of wicker chairs and a center storage table. These beautiful pieces were purchased at a Goodwill for under $35 total! With a little, or a lot, of scrubbing, washing, sanding, refinishing, and completely new, homemade,pillows/cushions the porch has gained super comfy seating.
With seating down and storage solved, only a few small projects remain for this immediate area. A sandbag chain needs to be made and filled for flood prevention during storms. The floor drain between the pool deck and covered porch needs to be cleaned out and restored. The gutters just above need to be cleaned out, as they are annually, and a solution made to prevent them from clogging up. I am certain if this is solved then half the water concerns directly below will be taken care of. Once these are done there are sooo many more projects to take up in the back yard, pool deck, and inside!
I can’t wait to finish up these little projects and pull together at least one space for everyone to enjoy!
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