Springtime



Sweet Violets and shy
Lady Slippers pop up in
The glorious woods.

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Sense of Proportion


I am to these ants
As the universe to me
At once big and small.

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Morning News


New ferns are coming
Now, all green and tightly curled
Ready to unfurl.

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Enough



Let springtime magic
Be enough and stop adding
Resurrection stuff.

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Coming Clean



I lack ambition.
Try to make it something deep,
Honestly, it’s not.

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A Philadelphia Rabbit Hole

Warning: This post represents a self-indulgence that was interesting to me, and probably me alone. It’s navel-gazing at its worst, or best — depending on whether you’re me or not.

So, yes, this past Monday I went down a rabbit hole made possible by the wonders of the internet. I forget how I got started, but am sure it was fairly innocent. Wherever it began, what I know is that several hours later I ‘came to’ having ‘visited’ every house I can remember occupying in my years here on earth. And it was interesting (and slightly disturbing) to note that I can’t actually remember the exact location of some of those places. But what follows is a basic chronology…with photos when I can find them, and links, when it’s all I’ve got!

It’s an enterprise that I highly recommend to you, dear reader. After Googling and pinning down every domicile I could think of in my history, I came away having remembered things long out-of-mind. And I felt like I had a much more holistic perspective on my life. Seems like that’s never a bad thing.

The first house:

I’ll not share the address of this one, as I use parts of it occasionally in passwords. Norton opines that this is not a great idea. But, as you may have figured out by now, I sometimes ignore good advice. So here’s the house, as depicted in a painting that my father did many years ago. This is where I spent my earliest years, up through first grade.

After this home, we moved, in 1959, to another house in Havertown, Pennsylvania. This is where I lived through the rest of my childhood and, off and on, until I left Pennsylvania in 1984. Click this link for a tour — I’m not too impressed with what the most recent owners did to the place, but unfortunately, what you see is all-too-often often the shiny face of ‘progress.’

Here’s the fireplace in the living room.

This is where Aunt Emma and I had our conversation.

Nothing looks the same, except the fireplace itself, the half-circle window above it, and the two French doors going out to what was a sunporch back then.

Next steps…

After college I lived in a few different places, starting with a row house on Lombard Street in Philadelphia whose address I cannot recall. It was great being in Center City back then. I remember seeing Melissa Manchester in concert on the steps of the Art Museum. In other concerts there I saw Mary Travers and also Manhattan Transfer. I biked all over, and thoroughly enjoyed the time. The first Star Wars movie came out while I was living there that summer, and Elvis died.

The entire area has been lavishly gentrified since that summer of 1977.

Here’s a photo of what the place looked like from the outside. Click the photo and you can tour the inside of another Lombard Street house to get an idea of what folks are doing with these spaces now. It’s all WAY fancier than anything was in that area back then.

Ardmore

My next landing spot, after Lombard Street, was Ardmore, where I began a 6-year visit to the Main Line. (Speaking of gentrified, I believe the Main Line may have invented the term.)

The place I call ‘The Ardmore House’ was at 207 Church Road and I’ve written about it here. It was an interesting and warm place to live, and may have been the first place where I experienced hints of what it was like to feel at home.

The house was owned by Philadelphia Electric and they basically ignored the place, which was great for us. There were 8 bedrooms, and a core group of 4 or 5 that didn’t vary much (myself included) lived there with others in and out. My third floor room, in 1978, cost $49 a month.

Rosemont

I briefly moved out of the Ardmore House and into ‘The Rosemont House’ in 1980. This was a feminist house and I was intrigued and also, I think, flattered when they reached out, although it was sad to leave Ardmore. At the time I moved in there were 4 women and 2 kids living there. I made the 5th adult.

My bike on the porch

Over the course of that year people started moving out. As the exodus gained momentum the household in Rosemont basically became unsustainable, so I moved back to the Ardmore House.

Sadly, the Rosemont House was torn down many years later. I don’t know precisely when, but now there’s a big vacant lot on Montgomery Avenue, where it used to stand.

Looking back, I shudder to think how many bricks and boards and books and record albums and other precious objects got moved from place-to-place during these years. But it’s what we all did. And some of those boards and wooden crates are still kicking around here in 2022.

Peripatetic JordanCornblog

A couple of years later, we learned that Philadelphia Electric was looking to sell the Ardmore House. So we all needed to move out.

I moved, with two other folks from the house, to a house in Narberth (another Main Line Town) that we rented from the family of someone who had lived at the Ardmore House during the summers for many years. We lived here for about a year.

And all this time I was working for the Lower Merion School District. But then in 1982 or 3 I applied for a job at Bryn Mawr College, more or less on a whim. Uncharacteristically, when they offered me the job I negotiated. I asked for things I wanted, like more salary, etc. They kept saying okay so it got to a point where I felt guilty NOT accepting the position. So I did, and I worked at Bryn Mawr’s Child Study Center until I moved to NH in the summer of 1984.

It’s the house with the fence.

Meanwhile, while I was changing jobs, I moved again, this time to a house in Roxborough (part of Philly) that had been bought by the two friends I’d been living with in Ardmore and then again in Narberth.

I’m not sure of the exact address, but it was on Leverington Avenue. The house was a definite fixer-upper and I only lived there for a couple of months before moving back to Havertown for an easier commute to Bryn Mawr. Now, this is another section of Philly that is significantly gentrified. I’m pretty sure that the picture here is of the actual house that we were living in — but the environment was WAY different! Click on the picture to see more photos of the house. Its layout was very much like Aunt Emma and Aunt Helen’s house in Germantown (another section of Philadelphia).

New Hampshire

I moved to New Hampshire in the summer of 1984, living first on Southwest Road, then Wyven Road, then Abbott Road, and starting in 1990, where I live today. And to end, here’s a picture of this last house, also painted by my father.

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Arguing with Coyotes

Coyote





Daily interchange:
I move poop off the trail and
Nightly they add more.

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Aunt Emma — Part 2

After my weekend at Great Aunt Emma and Helen’s, I was shyly enamored of them (emphasis on the ‘shyly’). How that worked for me as a kid was pretty self-defeating. Basically, I tended to avoid people that I was drawn to. (I know, I know…)

But the opportunities to actually avoid Aunt Emma were few and far between, since we saw the two of them so seldom. So the bigger change for me was that Aunt Emma’s opinion mattered in ways that it hadn’t before. I’d find myself wondering what she thought about things. She was there in the back of my mind.

Years passed by — picture the wind blowing the open pages in a book. I went from happily playing football in our yard with my friend Beth to being invited to birthday parties that involved going to torturous Junior High School dances. For sweaty hours I’d lean against the bleachers trying to look nonchalant while counting the minutes til I could leave. I was madly out of sync with what most of my cohort seemed to think was ‘fun’ and worked hard to avoid as much of the ‘fun’ as I could, without seeming too weird.

Alone time was still good. I remember spending one rainy Saturday in March eating an entire, huge Hershey Bar while reading “Descent Into the Maelstrom” and other short stories by Poe. No social pressure whatsoever. (And come to think of it, that title was an apt descriptor for life in the Cornblog family, those days.)

Anyway, for me there was the added bonus of feeling that Aunt Emma would probably think that was a good way to spend an afternoon. That wasn’t a conscious thought — it’s just happens when you’ve got someone in the back of your mind.

Junior High became Senior High. Life at home was increasingly tumultuous. And in some ways I think the intensity of THAT dysfunction allowed me to avoid some of the painful awkwardness of navigating adolescence. I was trying to make sense of what was going on in my immediate vicinity, and that gave me a built-in excuse for pretty much any behavior I chose to indulge.

I drew inward and read and wrote and thought a lot, when it was quiet enough at home to do that. Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” was a lifeline whose ‘barbaric yawp’ filled me with wonder and hope. Bronson Alcott and the rest of the Transcendentalists were mesmerizing and I imagined living in Concord, Massachusetts and running into Thoreau on the road. I was drawn to older times and quieter ways of living. Aunt Emma’s times and before. And questions of meaning — call them spiritual or philosophical or religious — were actually things I was interested in and grappled with. It was the ‘60’s — a lot of people were doing that. (I think it may have been the one aspect of the ‘60’s that didn’t scare me.)

And so, slipshod memory brings me to a scene that I’ve carried with me ever after. I was in our living room, maybe in 11th or 12th grade. Aunt Emma and Aunt Helen were visiting. Maybe they were back from one of their trips. I was sitting on the floor in front of our fireplace and Aunt Emma came over and sat down next to me. That alone felt momentous and intimate — I can feel it even as I write this. It thrilled and terrified me.

And as we chatted, she asked me a question. I can’t remember the specifics, but it had something to do with meaning and spirituality. It felt like a question one would ask a peer. I so wish I could recall, but I can’t recount what she said, or what I said.

All I know, and what I have carried with me since, is that this person whom I revered sat down on the floor with me. And she looked at me and was interested to hear what I thought about something. That simple moment — even though I can’t recall the content — was nourishing in ways that were incredibly sustaining for me. And I am sure she had no idea about the impact her words, her honest interest, had on my life.

It’s something I think about still. When I am not being a PIA, I try to be aware of the tender import of the many small moments that we humans exchange with one another every single day.

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I Guess Pee Must Be Different




Caleb always walks
By last night’s scat on the trail
With nary a sniff.

Looked up why animals leave scat in the middle of the trail ALL the time, and found:

  • Coyotes use scat to communicate and so they usually deposit scats in the middle of trails or near the borders of their territories where they are easily seen. 
  • Bits of plant material (stems, seeds, husks, and stalks) indicate an herbivore source. There’s almost no scent to the droppings of a plant-eater, although those that have gorged on berries leave (believe it or not) sweet-smelling dung.
  • Scat filled with animal material (scales, bones, and fur) was left by a carnivore, and usually has a rank smell.
  • Listen, as well as look. A mass of flies indicates a pile of fresh scat. If you hear flies buzzing but can’t spot any scat, you may have a fresh predator kill on your hands. Leave the area immediately.
  • Moose pellets are larger than those of deer. Deer and rabbit pellets are about the same size, but deer pellets are pointed; rabbit scat is rounder.
  • Mink, weasels, marten, and fishers leave their calling cards on prominent objects, such as rocks and logs, in the middle of the trail. Their spoor are compacted, twisted bits of fecal material and hair, but if you find seeds in them, you’re on the trail of the omnivorous marten.
  • Mouse droppings are the size of rice, very rough, wrinkled, and irregularly shaped. Squirrels produce smooth, oval pellets that are slightly larger.
  • Wild cat scat is more segmented, as opposed to the loglike canid feces.
  • Piles of scat at a tree’s trunk were left by a raccoon or a raptor. Look up for a nest or roost.

And if you really want to get into the details, there’s THIS!

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Magic



Where water meets shore
Is a magical place that
Children’s eyes see best.

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