Sunday, August 13, 2017

FAMILY: Together again

It's been many years since I've actually lived in the same house with my siblings, so the past few weeks have been instructive. I have learned, for instance, that my sister detests bananas and microwave ovens and uses sunscreen from India, herbal cough drops from Switzerland, and headache "powders" from England. My brother, an engineer and a serious athlete, can go through a two-pound barrel of mini-pretzels in a matter of days and washes everyone's dishes immediately after use. And neither one of them likes the ticking of a clock, which I find soothing. In fact, they actually took the offending timepiece down from the wall and stuffed it under a sofa cushion.

LONGWOOD: A great fireworks show

After a week of wall-to-wall challenges, it was a pleasure to just sit and watch the Longwood fireworks on Saturday evening. How do they keep coming up with new pyrotechnics every time?There were fireworks that blinked at random, ones that multiplied like the sorcerer's apprentice, orange ones with a green eye, like a celestial fiber-optic cable, roller-coaster ones that rose and then fell, and even some that resembled Longwood's beautiful pink-and-white hydrangeas. My favorite may have been the ones that lined themselves into rows and then burst into multiple colors, like a monitor screen full of icons.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

KENNETT: Furry fun

The Treetops Kitty Café, 305 W. State St. in downtown Kennett, is having its grand opening from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19.
"Admission to the cat lounge for that day will be $1 per person and as always, there will be drinks and snacks available to buy. We’ll have a face-painter and some cat-centric activities for kids and at 2 pm, we’ll be featuring cat stories and books. At 3 pm we’ll have presentations about cats  (e.g., bottle-feeding, socializing young kittens, general cat care, health  and behavior), as well as information on cat rescue and volunteering for the café."
What is a kitty café, you ask? It's a place where, for a small fee, you can hang out and play with the dozen or so cats up for adoption who wander around the lounge. There's Wi-Fi, and there are drinks, snacks, and pet supplies for sale, with all income going toward operating expenses and animal care. 
Treetops Kitty Café is run by the non-profit TreeTops Animal Rescue.  Normal hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

EAST MARLBOROUGH: Peace in our time

A fed-up East Marlborough reader writes:
"Why is it some folks decide on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening to mow their lawn, blow off a deck, trim their yard or do some other very noisy activity?"
She says she and her husband were enjoying a glass of wine on their deck one recent weekend evening when a neighbor decided to fire up some yard equipment and then proceeded to operate it for more than an hour. She said she was so angry she got in her car and made the rounds of the neighborhood, asking residents to be more considerate and not use power equipment after 6 p.m., at least not on weekends.
"I never did identify the culprit, but I did meet more neighbors than I had previously known," she writes.

FAIR HILL: Spotlight on Cecil County

Three-day-eventing fans are excited that Fair Hill International, just across the line in Maryland, has been nominated by the U.S. Equestrian Federation to host a prestigious four-star competition. The sport's governing body, the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), will make the final decision this fall. If approved, the first four-star event at Fair Hill would be in fall 2019.
If selected to host the event, the 5,613-acre property would see major upgrades (funded privately), including "an irrigated turf racecourse, new cross-country course, rings and graded grass field on the infield, and a grandstand overlooking the turf track and rings," according to a press release.
The competition would also bring a significant number of horses, riders, grooms and spectators to Cecil County, all of whom would need a place to stay and food to eat. 
A three-day-eventing competition comprises dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping phases. A four-star event indicates the highest level of competition.

KENNETT: The final show

The blue-shirted musicians of the West Chester Community Concert Band filled the stage at Anson B. Nixon park on Aug. 9 in the final concert of the summer series, and they played a wonderful mixture that ran the gamut from marches and ragtime to Sinatra and Gershwin (hearing the sublime "Someone to Watch Over Me" brought a smile to my face). During a medley of early 20th-century dance tunes, the woman in front of us was inspired to get up and dance the Charleston with considerable spirit.  
The crowd skewed toward the more mature end of the spectrum; in fact, the Friends Home mini-bus brought a whole row of residents and staffers to the show.
And one friend told us that this show was by far her favorite of the summer; she admitted that although she attends all the concerts, she wears earplugs during the louder rock-and-roll ones.
The State Street restaurant Portobello's was the food vendor for the evening, and their exotic mushroom crepes were just delicious.

SUMMER: A few more weeks

"Where did the summer go?" is a lament I've heard repeatedly this week. There's a "Welcome Back" banner at UHS, school supplies of innumerable variety are on sale, and at least one student of my acquaintance really needs to get cracking if he hopes to finish his summer reading ("Brave New World" and "Animal Farm," never more relevant). It will be interesting to see how the high school's delayed-opening experiment goes this year: will the students actually get more sleep?
The man next to me on a recent flight told me that in June he and his family had moved from Iowa to Florida. His kids were dismayed to learn that their summer vacation would last only a few weeks, as Florida schools start in early August. (However, the children were mollified by the fact that their new house has a backyard swimming pool.)