Wednesday, October 1, 2014

GED: Going back to the basics

A woman I know is studying for her GED (more power to her!). She was telling me she's having trouble memorizing the multiplication tables, because for decades she has just used a calculator to do any math she needed to do. And next on her semester's syllabus is algebra and trigonometry. I wonder how much of my high-school math I remember?
And speaking of getting stuck in a behavioral rut, I found myself annoyed that I had to park at the far end of the jammed parking lot at the Jennersville Y the other day. Fortunately I quickly realized how foolish this was: After all, the whole purpose of going to the gym is, in fact, to get some exercise.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

UNIONVILLE: Hood's will rise again

By the time you read this, Hood's BBQ "old" building will be no more. Demolition was set for Monday, Sept. 29, and when we stopped by the evening before, it looked as if someone had taken a sledgehammer to the place, with a pane of shattered glass and bricks littering the front parking lot. Larry Hood Sr. told us that people had even been stopping by to take commemorative bricks home with them!
The demolition will make way for the new Hood's, on the same site. In the meantime, the Hood's trailer is open behind the restaurant for breakfast and lunch.

UNIONVILLE: And God saw that it was good

My new guinea pig Gilbert was a champ on Sunday afternoon at the Blessing of the Animals at the Unionville Presbyterian Church: he didn't nip at anyone and he didn't object when kids wanted to pet him. Gilbert was one of two guinea pigs to show up, in addition to a rabbit and many dogs (while we were there we saw a pug, a King Charles Cavalier named Charlie and a Yorkie). We arrived a little late, and the Rev. Annalie Korengel was kind enough to put her vestments back on to bless Gilbert and ask God for a happy life in his new home. She also wore a special stole emblazoned with animal silhouettes.
Gilbert is now the proud owner of a personalized certificate with a verse from Genesis: "So God created the great sea animals and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good."

INSECTS: They might be Gnats

This weekend's adventures took us to Warwick County Park, which is off Route 23 near St. Peters Village. We discovered that the northern part of Chester County has been suffering from an invasion of gnats this summer. As soon as we stepped out of the car they started swarming around our heads. "Welcome to Warwick," commented a park ranger, seeing us trying to bat them away. We remarked on the pesky bugs to two other visitors and they said, "Oh, we're used to it." They said it's been like that all summer.
Fortunately they seemed to bother us only within the confines of the park. While we were being tourists at St. Peters Village, there were no gnats.
On the (indirect) way home we drove through the neighborhood where I grew up. Giant houses have sprung up everywhere. The perfectly nice houses where my friends lived have been massively expanded. I was sad to see that cool little modern house around the corner where I babysat--it was full of plants, dog hair, beaded curtains and hippie books--was torn down and replaced by a large, immaculate and perfectly landscaped house. A former farm down the street, where a venerable horse and a noisy donkey were always grazing near the fence, has been replaced by a mega-house. Instead of Duchess and Nick, there's only a weird wire statue of a horse in the front yard.

Friday, September 26, 2014

POLITICS: More good advice from my mother

Over dinner last weekend the Young Relative was expounding on what he wants to do when he grows up, a favorite topic of his for many years. His latest idea was to somehow corner the market on knowledge and then be able to produce the correct answer for any problem. This, he believed, would guarantee him a powerful role in government.
His grandmother, normally the most supportive and sunny of women, was quick to dissuade him from this plan.
"Oh, no," she declared. "I don't want you going into politics. Politics is a dirty business."
It seems like an apt comment on this week's news.

WEST GROVE: Michael Green talks about Sufism

It was all about breathing for me on Wednesday evening, from Pilates class at the Y (where you "exhale to execute" the move) straight to a lecture on Sufism given by Michael Green, during which he paused several times and encouraged us to focus on our breathing instead of on his words.
The talk was part of "Faces and Faiths of our Neighbors," a series on world religions sponsored by West Grove Quaker Meeting, and it drew a few dozen people to the meetinghouse. Michael shared some basics about the origins of the faith, his teacher Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, and how Sufi teachings have shaped his life. (Michael is an artist who lives on an East Fallowfield farm; michaelgreenarts.com) He also did a pretty funny imitation of an old-fashioned "Quaker" quaking and displayed remarkable dexterity when he illustrated a thumb and finger having an animated conversation. It was not a standard PowerPoint presentation, and thank goodness for that.
Oct. 1 is Judaism, presented by Maury Hoberman; October 8 is Hinduism with Milan Sandhu; and October 15 is Buddhism with Michele Siegel. The talks start at 7 p.m.; the meetinghouse is at 153 E. Harmony Rd. in West Grove.

KENNETT: Welcoming some out-of-towners

It's fun to see Kennett through a fresh eyes sometimes. After I popped in to the Bayard Taylor library on a recent sunny afternoon, I spied a couple eating ice cream outside La Michoacana across State Street and thought that a late-season cup of Brownie Delight would be an excellent reward for finishing up an unpleasant editing job (a book about the "dirty war" in Argentina; not cheerful).
So I started chatting with the man and woman, who were raving about how delicious their ice cream was. It turns out they were visiting from New York City and made a particular point of stopping in at La Michoacana; they even put the address on their GPS.
The woman asked me if she was correct in guessing that there was a significant Mexican population in the area. I said yes, indeed, and told her about the links with the mushroom industry. And that led to a discussion about the Mushroom Fest, Cinco de Mayo, and the very fine Mexican restaurants we are lucky to have in the area. They asked for a recommendation and I was happy to oblige!