Claudia Stemler (right) and Laura Belmonte (left) are cramming bookshelves wherever they can into their“ brunettes’ bookshopbakery” – in a low swinging door and into upright support columns. They hope customers will buy cupcakes and books and talk books while the pair is baking away in their new shop in the Market on the Fareway (formerly the “Chestnut Hill Farmers Market”) Prices for the “gently used” books are $5 for hardbacks and $4 for trade paperbacks. Since people have been donating books, the brunettes are not yet accepting trade-ins. Additionally, they are cooking up plans for book-of-the-month picks and a book club. watch video here
Carol Isard talks about a library stool created by the renowned wood sculptor and furniture maker Wharton Esherick. Esherick made the stool for Isard's mother, a friend and patron, who used it to retrieve things from a tall closet in her home. Watch video interview here.
A young woman waiting for the bus is reading “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. It’s about managing your mind to think in a certain way to accomplish your financial goals and dreams, she says. She describes the book as “awesome” and although she has just started the book, she’s already re-read some pages she has found so worthwhile. As a financial advisor with Primerica Financial Services who handles the gamut of financial products from investments and insurance to debt elimination, she hopes to work her way up RVP and eventually to owning her own branch office one day. Watch video here.
October 26th through October 28th marked Harry Potter Weekend in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.
As part of the festivities 16 college quidditch teams competed in the 3rd Annual Philadelphia Brother Love Cup at Chestnut Hill College. In an initial match, it appeared that "The Hex" of the Ithaca Community team got trounced by "Those Guys" out of...where?
A young woman at one of the many tables on the college green sold muffins to support the Harry Potter Alliance, "an army of fans, activists, nerdfighters, teenagers, wizards and muggles dedicated to fighting for social justice with the greatest weapon we have-- love." The poster at her table bears a quote from J.K. Rowling's commencement address at Harvard University on June 5, 2008: "We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better." Watch video here.
On a walk around Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts we stopped at the site where Thoreau had built his cabin. I asked another tourist if she might not read aloud the quote from Thoreau carved on a sign. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Watch video here.
WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT? It’s like appreciation for this country. [referring to another song he played but not appearing in this video] My intuition, my intuitionish expression. I cannot explain well so that’s why I play. IS SOME OF YOUR MUSIC JAPANESE INSPIRED? Yes. Like the third song I played, “Takibi,” bonfire, it’s inspiration from my grandparents. HOW DID THEY INSPIRE YOU? My childhood. When I recall my childhood. That scenery made me write that song. The bonfire and the smoke going up in the sky. YOU GREW UP IN KYOTO? I’m from Kyoto, a very traditional city. But somehow I picked up a five-string banjo because my Dad was a crazy guy. And he brought me a banjo one day and asked me to play it. A new instrument for me. I didn’t know how to do it so I was just playing around with it. Yeah, that’s the story.
Guitarist/composer Hiroya Tsukamoto at the Walk a Crooked Mile Bookstore concert series, Mount Airy Philadelphia.
Nancy-Ellen sculpted characters from her book “Nana’s Wicker Back.” The title references the scarring pattern on her own grandmother’s back from whippings as a slave. “These women are bought and sold [many were bore] into slavery who were regarded as mules or just property. Yet I wanted to depict that they had spirits, they had souls, they fell in love, they cried and some were very overt in personality some were very quiet and timid. And I never know what I’m going to make. As I start pushing clay, they start telling me who they are.” Nancy-Ellen. Watch video interview here
Kelly Starling Lyons, an author of African American theme pictured books, shared her stories with students at the J.S Jenks Middle School in Philadelphia in celebration of Black History month in February.
One Million Men and Me is based on Lyons attending the Million Man March in Washington, DC in 1995 and seeing a little girl there with her father. In Lyons’ eyes the little girl looked like a princess surrounded by a sea of princes and kings. Lyons has met several men who were moved by their participation at the event to become leaders in the community. Watch Million Men interview here.
Tea Cakes for Tosh, coming out this fall, was inspired by her grandmother who recounted baking cookies called teacakes growing up and grandmother’s stories of her own grandmother’s family who would pop the cookies in their mouths while working out in the field. In Lyons’ re-working, the ancestor is a plantation cook who baked the cookies and, despite being forbidden from keeping any of them, snuck some for the children to eat so they could have a taste of freedom. Watch Tea Cakes video
Ellen’s Broom is about the legalization, during Reconstruction, of the marriages of former slaves. Marriages were not recognized and slave husbands and wives could be sold apart. To show their commitment to one another a slave couple would jump over a broom. In Lyons story, Ellen questions why her parents want to keep the custom. Jumping the broom is a link to the past, and, like other contemporary couples, part of Lyons and her husband made it part of their own wedding. Watch Broom video here.
“’Nobody dies at the end of this book. Try not to let this fact mislead you. As far as my Mother is concerned, it is important to distinguish between what death actually is and what it isn’t. There’s a body and there’s a soul. One dies, the other doesn’t, ever. And then there’s how I feel about it, which is complicated.’”
“My name is Susan Morse and I have written a book called, “The Habit” which is the story of my Mother who at age 85 in the middle of a health crisis which I was shepherding her through the medical system, became an Orthodox Christian nun. And it’s the story of our relationship…
She was on a quest. She was spiritually hungry her whole life. In the 1940s during the wartime she met my father and married him just as many people did -married a man who was about to go off to war. It was a relationship that was never really a true, passionate romance and there was a lot of trouble there. But they stuck it out. They raised four children together and end up actually quite content with each other by the end.
After the kids moved, out she started experimenting with lots of different religions and kept changing, Episcopalian to Roman Catholic to a different kind of Roman Catholic back to Episcopalian, all these different things. And she’s an artist and at one point she began taking these workshops painting Byzantine icons. And that is something you have to pray when you’re doing it, the workshops tell you. The whole system is really, really strict technique. And she discovered that her icons which she was feeling very satisfied with the process of doing those, were not legitimate in the Orthodox Church because she was not an Orthodox Christian.
My Mother really believes in- if you believe in something you really have to throw your whole self into it. So for her to be a Christian is not enough. She needed to go all the way.
She says now she dreamt about being a nun from when she was a little girl. She was 85 when she became a nun and she was frail. There was no question of her taking on a job. For the frail and elderly ones – she became, literally, she’s called a ‘house nun’, which means she stays in her house, and she prays. And that’s what she does!”
Susan Morse, reading from the preface to her newly published book, “The Habit.” Morse will be reading from her book on Wednesday, January 25th in the Bombay Room at the Chestnut Hill Hotel and on January 26th at Headhouse Books in Society Hill. Both events are from 7:00 to 8:30.
My book is called a deconstruction book and it’s like when you get a plain old book that nobody reads, sits on the shelves at stores and stuff and getting it and exposing the information in a 3-dimensional work of art. WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT? It’s about astronomy, all about the planets, the moons, suns, stars… I can name you everything inside. Right here there’s an asteroid and it’s called Hyperion and Hyperion back in Greek mythology was one of the Titans of the East.
Javier Peraza, of South Philly, with his project for an application interview at the Science Leadership Academy.