Travel Feed

Gypsy jazz writer skirmishes

Canary sings

Sherry Canary, of the musical group “Hot Club Canaries” takes DJango Reinhardt songs and puts lyrics to them. And she writes her own songs in the gypsy jazz idiom. She does a lot of collaborating as a member of an Internet group FAWM February Album Writing month., Members compose 14 songs in 28 days and listen and comment on each other’s work. Participants include all kinds of composers from housewives to professionals. Canary also participates in “skirmishes” - writers have only one hour to write the music, the lyrics, produce it and get it online. Watch video interview and singing here. In another video, Canary sings her composition satirizing the world's dictators, "Coffee with Gadaffi." The Hot Club Canaries perform at the Mermaid Inn on Thursday May 10, 2012

By a Maine river, life as it should be for 87 year old

Natalie, life on the river

Natalie Kempner says it is a gift to be living in Maine by a river (the Kennebec) at the age of 87. She cherishes the beauty, the constantly changing river,the ice that breaks and goes up and down with the winter tides, the constantly changing seasons.  She swam as a kid all the time and if she had had a wish, she says,  it would have been to be able to live and swim out her front yard. And now she’s had it for twenty years after she and husband Fritz moved from Conshohocken just outside Philadelphia. She enjoys the company of her children and grandchildren and friends and the bustle of visitors in the summer and the quiet time to catch up on things in the winter. A sparkle comes into her eyes as she describes  the wildlife all about - seals in the river, foxes and skunks on land, the coyotes walking atop the frozen winter river,and ospreys and eagles up above. Quoting the common Maine slogan, Natalie says it’s “life as it should be.” Watch video interview here.

Valentines Day roses - does love hurt?


[Alexandra Serfass, Robertson's Flowers greenhouse employee]

In the 2004 movie, “Maria Full of Grace,” a pregnant young woman trades the harsh conditions of a flower packing operation in Colombia to come to the United States with a friend as a “drug mule.” It doesn't turn out well.

The flower export business is big business. Large, drab greenhouses, like those in Ecuador where “Maria” was filmed, can stretch for miles. From my bus window, I knew the eerily transformed landscape would not be on any picture postcard I would be sending home to the U.S.

Beauty has its cost to both the environment and people, however, according to “The Secrets Behind Your Flowers,” a February 2011 Smithsonian Magazine report. Because it may take three gallons of water to grow just one rose bloom, groundwater supplies become depleted.  The low-paying work is tedious and straining. In traditional growing operations, workers are exposed to the dangerous pesticides and fungicides that keep insects from taking the slightest nibble from an otherwise picture-perfect flower.

Public outcry in recent years has led to the introduction of fair trade practices.  Nicole Serfass, flower buyer at Robertson’s Flowers greenhouses in Wyndmoor, showed off the Veriflora label on the roses they import from South America.  Veriflora is one of a handful of certifying organizations that try to ensure that their growers are using sustainable agricultural methods and providing equitable, healthy conditions for their workers.

At Robertson’s showcase Chestnut Hill store, Sandy Robertson says they source their flowers locally  from New Jersey,  domestically from Florida when they can and even sees growing customer interest in organically or sustainably grown flowers. Serfass has been asking their growers about organic but believes it’s not yet economically worth it for them to invest the years required for organic certification.

“Aren’t they gorgeous?” Donna Beardell of  Chestnut Hill asks,  exiting Robertson’s with a brilliant bunch of pink tinged roses, destined for her nieces competing in a gymnastics meet. On Valentines Day, she’s hoping she’ll be the recipient.

watch video here


[Sandy Robertson]



[Donna Beardell of Chestnut Hill]


[Nicole Serfass Robertson's Flowers greenhouse, Buyer]

Vintage motorcycles ship to England


They’re all heading to England.There’s a big craze there right now with these older Japanese motorcycles forrestoring. So we traveled around North Jerseyand bought ten and were heading back. AND HOW DO THEY COME TO BE HERE INCHESTNUT HILL? I live in Wyndmoor. A friend of mine is a motor cycle dealer in England so hesent me on a mission to get 10 of these old bikes. It’s taken me about twomonths but I found them. HOW OLD ARE THEY AND WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THEM? Theoldest is 1970 and the newest is 1976. They’re all two-stroke engines which youcan’t buy anymore because of the emissions. And they’re becoming rarer andrarer. Some just rot away in garages. Others get in accidents and stuff andjust by attrition they get rarer and rarer. So they got some real value to themnow. HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT FINDING THEM? Mostly through caigslist. I got a coupleon eBay but almost purely on craigslist. But then you have to do a phoneinterview and really get down to nitty-gritty and asking prudent questions andfinding out what they have and then maybe it’s worth traveling 100 miles topick them up. AND WHICH IS YOUR PRIZE HERE? I would say these two.  It’s purely a money thing although I’d like to keep them. WHAT ARE THEY WORTH? Here they’re probably not worth more than$2000; in England,$5000, maybe 6 if you get the right buyer. Each of them cost about $400 to getto England and obviously there’s a profit to be made. Marc Bagwell, left,a contractor who lives in Wyndmoor with his brother-in-law Jack Leamy, of Chestnut Hill.
Watch video here.


Richard Morais' Hundred Foot Journey


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT READING YOUR BOOK ALOUD? “As you can see I’m a bit of a ham and authors love talking about themselves. Nothing gives them more pleasure. I actually always wanted to be an actor so I realized early enough on that I wasn’t a stable enough person to be an actor because it’s a very unstable life and the ragged edges of my personality would be magnified in that situation so I decided to be a writer… The next time I went down to Bombay, there was an actor who introduced me and I was sort of inspired by his presence to put on an Indian accent and so I went home and I called my wife up and I said, “Yeah I think it went pretty well. I read in an Indian accent” And she said, “Tell me you didn’t.” [Audience laughter] And the reason I say this is that the way I’m reading it now is the way I hear it. One of the great things about fiction writing is for a little while you can pretend you’re not who you are. You can pretend you’re someone else in the world. And that is the great joy and liberation of fiction writing.” Richard Morais, author, The Hundred Foot Journey. Watch video and Morais reading aloud from book in Indian accent here.

Geocaches to fight muscle disease


HOW’D YOU GET STARTED GEOCACHING? “A friend introduced me when we went to hawk mountain, you know the bird observatory. He had his IPhone or his Droid and he had a geocaching app on it. So we decided to do some caching and I got hooked because the first one I found was in the middle of a beautiful valley surrounded by pine trees with a mountain range in front of us. It was a gorgeous view. I think the name of the cache was ‘The View’. Went to Cabela’s, bought myself a GPS for a couple hundred bucks and I’ve been doing it ever since. And it gets me out. I’m on oxygen because I have a muscle disease. It gets me out and moving instead of being sedentary- you know, getting atrophied and dying.” Dan McGrogan, Core Creek Park, Middletown, Bucks County.

Watch video here.

Artist Brooke Schmidt travels places


DO YOU KNOW WHAT PATCHES YOU HAVE ON YOUR BACKPACK? The first one I think I got in Arches National Monument, I was hiking. My grand mom hiked to Delicate Arch and she was in her seventies. Then we have a cabin in Canada that I go to. Just went to Black Canyon in the Gunnison in October. WHICH IS WHERE? Colorado. I grew up in Florida, camping there. And Rocky Mountain National Park, I was just there on my own. I went to Costa Rica a couple years ago and I really enjoyed the butterfly gardens in Monteverde. I went to Ecuador to visit my friend a couple years ago. We had flown out to California for a weekend and ended up going to the Humboldt redwoods, which are really beautiful. Gimmelwald is in Switzerland. It’s a lovely little town to visit. I’ve been there a few times backpacking and Cape Breton we went there on our honeymoon, whales and moose, it was awesome. Blue Ridge Parkway we just did a road trip down there with the dogs in my V70 Volvo station wagon, which is really fun. And Boundary Waters, which is up on the border of Minnesota. There’s no motors allowed so it’s just canoeing the lakes. It’s really beautiful. I guess I did that about ten years ago WOW. So that’s my collection. And there are some that I’ve bought and I’ve lost like when we were in Scotland. I don’t know what happened to that one. Brooke Schmidt. Watch video interview here.

From Togo to snow on Christmas

I HAVEN'T SEEN PEOPLE OUT HERE ON CROSS COUNTRY SKIS. DO YOU GET OUT HERE MUCH ON THEM? Andrew Jacobs (left): "This is my first time." Steven Jacobs: " This is actually our first time. I just got a pair for Christmas so I decided to come out with my bro-

I HAVEN'T SEEN PEOPLE OUT HERE ON CROSS COUNTRY SKIS. DO YOU GET OUT HERE MUCH ON THEM? Andrew Jacobs (left): "This is my first time." Steven Jacobs: " This is actually our first time. I just got a pair for Christmas so I decided to come out with my brother. He just got back from the Peace Corps." AJ: "It's my first time on snow in a long time. My Dad has been out three or four times so far. It's great. I can't remember the last time I was in the Wissahickon there was snow on the ground at Christmas.” SJ: "It's a pretty hysterical thing being able to ski in the middle of Philadelphia." WHERE WERE YOU IN THE PEACE CORPS? AJ: "I was in Togo, in West Africa. So there was not much snow there, needless to say. HOW ARE THINGS IIN TOGO? AJ: "It's a very interesting, culturally rich country but they have a lot of problems. They have a long ways to go in terms of development. But it's peaceful, non-violent, which I think is a big plus in Africa. But in due time I think they'll start to make some advances. But it's great to be back in the U.S.-" SJ: "It's good to have him back" AJ: " with the family for Christmas." Forbidden Drive, Christmas Day. Click here to watch video interview. 

I HAVEN'T SEEN PEOPLE OUT HERE ON CROSS COUNTRY SKIS. DO YOU GET OUT HERE MUCH ON THEM? Andrew Jacobs (left): "This is my first time." Steven Jacobs: " This is actually our first time. I just got a pair for Christmas so I decided to come out with my brot

Matt Studner Commutes by Horse Carriage

matt studner pony - 1.jpg

“I live on Norwood, Matthew Studner, right behind the hospital. I’m taking a horse to work in Germantown every day now. I drop my son off at Germantown Friends and we carriage.” AND THE HORSE? “The horse doesn’t even have a name yet. We just got him from a nice Amish person yesterday. Our big horse is Jingle Bells and we have a couple minis and we’re starting to give rides. On Stag and Doe night we’ll be riding up and down with our big horse and sleigh.”Watch video here. matt studner pony - 2.jpg

Geography Teacher Luigi Borda Gets Around

The book is called “Andiamo- Let’s Go!” and the series is called “Luigi Gets Around dot com” And the first book is called “Luigi discovers Philadelphia” I’m Luigi and this is the Philly “Phiat” and it’s the true story of me coming over in my car from Cala

The book is called “Andiamo- Let’s Go!” and the series is called “Luigi Gets Around dot com” And the first book is called “Luigi discovers Philadelphia” I’m Luigi and this is the Philly “Phiat” and it’s the true story of me coming over in my car from Calabria Italy in 1969 on a boat like a lot of immigrants came to this country. We came to New York. We didn’t like New York because of its too fast-paced style and the truth of the matter is my cousin’s family lived in Philadelphia so we followed him to Philadelphia and there goes the skyline, our beautiful Philadelphia skyline. We settled here but it was real rough at first so we wanted to go home because people made fun of my name, Luigi. But then we started to run into people in Philadelphia. We ran into Danny and his Dodge. He told us to go the Art Museum Then we ran into Tracy my wife and her Triumph She said you got to check out Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell and learn about Philadelphia before we go back to Italy. And then we fell in love, me and Tracy. We started a family. Our first daughter is Angie and her Audi and she told us about the Mummers Museum which is a German tradition and my daughter’s half German. And then we ran into Veronica and her Volvo and she brought us to the American-Swedish museum. Show’em your blue eyes, Ronnie. Look at Ronnie, now look at her in the book! That’s Veronica and she gave me tickets to a Phillies game because Luigi loves baseball.” Masterman geography teacher and author, Luigi Borda.

Click here to see video