Saturday, December 15, 2018

EAST MARLBOROUGH: Carol sing

Just a reminder that Marlborough Friends Meeting's annual carol sing will be held at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23. The meetinghouse is at 361 Marlborough Road, Kennett Square.
This simple and peaceful event is a highlight of our Yuletide season. The description that the Meeting sent out rings absolutely true: "The Spirit of Christmas never fails to visit as the Marlborough community gathers for a time of song and fellowship. Harp and guitar music blend easily into centuries old woodwork. Candlelight creates an authentic holiday atmosphere as children shake sleigh bells and sing Rudolph’s story."

VETERINARIAN: Clarence on the mend

Thank you to the good folks at Brandywine Valley Veterinary Hospital, who took such good care of our beloved rescue cat Clarence when he had surgery recently. They did everything they could to make sure he was happy and comfortable throughout. They even had a heated cushion all ready for him when I brought him in.
Dr. Carol Schaefer phoned me with the good news as soon as the operation was over, and both she and Dr. Toni-Ann Vidal kept me updated when his lab results came in. I've received two follow-up phone calls from the practice since, just checking on him. I was delighted to tell them that our elderly purr-boy has been returning to his normal self, eating more, jumping into the bathtub, and gaining weight. It does my heart good to see him snuggled up on his cozy fleece blanket.

Clarence living the good life.

STAPLES: Winding down

As I've written before, the Staples store in the Longwood shopping center is closing on Jan. 4. They're having a clearance sale (so there's less inventory to pack up and move), and the place looks distinctly woebegone. A sign on the door point out that other Staples stores will remain open, like the ones in Glen Mills, Wilmington (on Concord Pike), and West Goshen. Nonetheless, Tilda, who has been a good Staples customer at this location for years, is not happy.
Meanwhile, next to Staples, work continues on the former SuperFresh supermarket, which is being divided into Oshkosh B'Gosh, Ross Dress for Less, and Ulta Beauty. They're expected to open in spring 2019, along with a state liquor store.

EAST MARLBOROUGH: Tree removal

Some people who live near Green Valley Road are unhappy with what they consider to be overly aggressive tree removal by PECO. In the past month or so the electric company's contractor has cut down many trees and sawed off branches along both sides of the winding rural road, from the Plantation Field driveway south to Route 82, near the Cheshire kennels. The tree-removal company left many branches and logs sitting alongside the road (which, I'm told, residents were allowed to collect for firewood). I drove through that stretch of road the other morning, and the change is certainly dramatic. I also noticed some wire rings and paper blobs still stuck in tree branches from the "Lights Festival" lantern launches at Plantation Field.

KENNETT: A walk in the park

To clear our muddled heads, Dearest Partner suggested a walk in Anson B. Nixon Park. Even though it was cloudy and freezing, we had a pleasant time -- as long as we kept up a brisk pace rather than a leisurely stroll.
The park wasn't entirely empty. We saw folks walking their dogs, kids playing on the playground equipment, and a young couple who I assumed were on a date -- she was holding a bouquet wrapped in plastic. The only critters we saw, other than the dogs on leashes, were geese and one stock-still squirrel. Ice was starting to form on the ponds.
As we walked past the amphitheater, we couldn't help but notice how different the wintertime park is from the Wednesday evenings in the summer, when the park hosts free concerts: there were no little kids dancing in front of the stage, no musicians taking a break out back, no merch table.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

KENNETT SQUARE: Irish tenor

Being a celebrated Irish tenor isn't all Guinness and Jameson's, Mark Forrest told us during his Dec. 8 concert at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Kennett Square. Sure, he has a degree in musical theater, another in liturgical music and a third in international marketing, but nobody really cares, he said: "All they want to know is, 'Do you sing "Danny Boy"?' "
Mr. Forrest's voice was wonderful -- yes, he did "Danny Boy," as well as other traditional Irish songs, songs of Christian faith, and Christmas carols. He asked veterans in the audience to stand and be recognized and in their honor sang Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA." He did a thrilling duet of "Ave Maria" with young St. Pat's parishioner Leah Owens, who has a stunning future in vocal performance ahead of her. 
Mr. Forrest also spoke about his deep belief in the sanctity of life and told the audience about his eight children, one who died as an infant of a heart defect and two others who have a severe metabolic disorder. His experience led him and his wife, Muriel, to found the Faith and Family Foundation. It supports Wheatland Farm in Purcellville, Virginia, which provides equestrian programs for special needs children.
The concert, sponsored by the church's Knights of Columbus, was funny, moving and magical, all at once, and was a memorable prelude to what will be the parish's 150th anniversary in 2019. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

HARRISBURG: Good service

The bureaucracy in Harrisburg often gets a bad rap, so I was amazed at the good service I received the other day from the Department of State.
The Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations had sent me a stern letter accusing me of sending in an unsigned registration document -- followed by two ominous paragraphs about applicable fines and deadlines.
Well, I knew that I had gotten the document signed and had returned well within the deadline. In fact, I had made a special trip to get it signed because the signer in question was about to fly off to Europe on vacation.
So, full of righteous indignation, I phoned Harrisburg.
My first pleasant surprise was the Miles Davis jazz as hold music. A clerk got on the line after not too long of a wait, pulled up my account and informed me, with some measure of surprise, that "Oh. Yes. There IS a signature."
She apologized, told me that she had approved our account and told me she'd send out the confirmation letter that very afternoon.
And then she apologized again.