Monday, November 29, 2010

Marlborough Carol Sing

The historic Marlborough Friends Meeting, at the intersection of Marlboro and Marlboro Springs Roads, opens its doors each December for a Christmas Carol Sing. This year it will start at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19.

The Carol Sing includes a few minutes of Quaker silent worship and some short Bible readings, "but at the heart of the experience is a community joined together in song," according to a member of the Meeting. "Holiday treats follow the carols. Christmas Spirit and fellowship are present each year."

Everyone from the community is welcome to attend. It's a peaceful, old-fashioned antidote to the commercialism and busy-ness that so many of us can fall prey to this time of year.
More information about the Meeting is at

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A-hunting we will go

Lucy Glitters (great pen name!) has started writing an entertaining blog about the local Cheshire Hunt, vividly recounting the action at each meet. You can read it at; click on "News" and then "Full Cry."
Lucy also includes hunting trivia like this: "Did you know that hunt staff wear the ribbons on their caps down so that the rain will run over their collar and members wear them up as they can go in if they are wet."
And another local blog,, features beautiful photos of the Hunt in action, as well as other equestrian activities.
While you're online, read Max Hastings' very, very funny article about the importance of foxhunting in British culture in "The Guardian": I laughed out loud at the anecdote he says is his favorite hunting story.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Scene from an Italian restaurant

Overheard at Floga Bistro the day after Thanksgiving: The chef came out to greet some customers, who asked about his Thanksgiving. He told them he had gotten up at 5 a.m. and spent the day in Philadelphia, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for homeless people. (What a really nice thing to do!)
When he returned home, he said, his wife asked if he wanted turkey. No, he told her, he had spent the whole day serving turkey; what he really wanted was a nice plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

Brake lights and headlights, too

Just a reminder that Longwood Gardens' extremely popular Christmas lights display is up and running, so plan your late-afternoon/evening trips along Route 1 accordingly. Traffic has been known to back up all the way to Chadds Ford.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


My hipness quotient peaked 30 years ago (at a below-average level even then) and has fallen ever since. Even my father knew what the rap lyrics "fly like a G6" meant. (A G6, it seems, is a Gulfstream G650, a luxury private jet.) I thought a G6 was an international summit meeting and puzzled over how to reconcile this with the song's chorus: "Popping bottles in the ice, like a blizzard, When we drink we do it right."
But hey, at least I'm on top of one trend: that ubiquitous Justin Bieber-inspired haircut is on its way out. I was getting my hair done the other day when a teenage boy sporting the brushed-forward style came in for his appointment.
"So what are we doing today?" his stylist asked him.
He showed her a photo of a drastically shorter haircut.
The stylist looked thrilled at the prospect of creating a different look.
"Cool!" she said, nodding vigorously with approval. "Yeah, we can do that."

Coffee break on the Internet

This "helmet-cam" video of the cross-country competition at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington is just amazing.


In one of my favorite Agatha Christie mysteries, "A Murder is Announced," a Chipping Cleghorn resident informs a policeman that it's the village custom to drop off knitting patterns and vegetables at each others' houses, whether or not the recipient is home.
"I just brought up some of my quinces," explained Mrs. Swettenham. "Miss Blacklock wants to make quince jelly and she hasn't got a quince tree here. I left them in the dining room."
Sergeant Fletcher is not at all happy to hear this, as it will greatly complicate his investigation into the murder at Little Paddocks.
Unionville has a very neighborly barter system very similar to that in Chipping Cleghorn. I love to bake, and people seem to like the results (especially my ginger snaps). So, in just the past few weeks, I've swapped my home-made baked goods for a friend's home-raised eggs (they won a Best of Show ribbon at the Unionville Fair, how cool is that!), home-made strawberry jam, just-harvested mushrooms, and even greeting cards made by a photographer friend. I don't like white meat turkey and a friend does, so I exchanged the remains of my Thanksgiving bird for her egg salad with dill and mustard.
When friends ask me to do proofreading or editing work, it just doesn't feel right to charge them, so I'll barter for a nice lunch instead. Both parties in the transaction seem happy.
I learned the power of barter way back in high school when I noticed that if I brought goodies to the attendance ladies (could even be Entenmann's) they'd be much more likely to overlook certain self-initiated alternative educational experiences. A useful life lesson.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Perhaps the only upside of this autumn's stink bug invasion was that I got rid of a LOT of old clothes. To dislodge the reclusive little critters, I had to remove each item from the closet and shake it violently. As I was doing so, I realized I had clothes that I hadn't worn in literally years; I simply don't wear suits and other office clothes anymore (thank goodness!). Yes, the pink suede skirt was fun for a while, but it also required expensive and frequent leather cleaning. And that turquoise frock with the tag still on it? If I haven't found a place to wear it in three summers, odds are really good I'm not going to.
I was ruthless, not letting original cost or sentimental value get in the way. And soon I had an enormous pile of clothes to give away to charity. (I wanted to donate to a group that provides professional outfits for women trying to get back on their feet, but alas they needed only plus-size clothes.)
So now I have a lot less stuff, no stink bugs, and a lot more space in my closets, all of which is very satisfying.


The middle of December is just about the latest you can plant bulbs around here, which is why the few remaining bulbs left at garden centers are deeply discounted. What I've always heard is that you should get bulbs in six weeks before the ground freezes so they have a chance to form roots.

Some of the allium bulbs my mother was planting were so small that she couldn't tell which was the top and which was the bottom. So she compromised: she planted them sideways and then exhorted them, out loud, to sprout the correct way. And they'd better.
(The spectacular flowers pictured here are my parrot tulips, which I grow every year. I buy my bulbs from White Flower Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut.)


On Nov. 22 I took this photograph along White Horse Road, south of Route 41, at PECO's Daleville Substation in Londonderry Township. I posted a blog entry fretting that it was only going to get worse over the winter.
By Nov. 24 it was fixed -- completely level and smooth.
Whether it was just a coincidence or speedy service by the road crew, I for one am very grateful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

eBay entrepreneur

I wouldn't be surprised if Jared Mizrahi, Unionville class of 2006, went really far.
While still a student at Patton Middle School, he started his own eBay business, selling golf balls that he collected from the fairways of a golf course near his house. He received stellar feedback, became one of eBay's elite sites, and branched out into selling other items, expanding his business while going through high school and college (Millersville 2010). Now, in addition to teaching math at J.P. McCaskey High School in Lancaster, he has launched
Jared is one impressive and multi-tasking young man.
For two years he taught classes on online selling at Chester County Adult Night School, and now he teaches them at Harrisburg Area Community College's York and Lancaster campuses. He's an education specialist trained by eBay, and also a Pennsylvania-licensed and bonded eBay Trading Assistant ("this is the fancy way of saying that I am certified to go to client's houses, research items, take those that will sell for $30 or more on eBay, list them, ship them and send the clients a check").
A few years back I gave Jared a few items to sell. He photographed them, provided accurate online descriptions, priced them competitively and took care of the shipping and collections. After the sale, he promptly sent me a check and a detailed, accurate summary of the transactions.
Good luck to him!

A Purist

Overheard Nov. 20: Customer, after completing his transaction at the Giant's pharmacy counter: "Happy Thanksgiving! I refuse to call it `Turkey Day.' "

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Penn State 4-H Creating Community Networks held its annual "Be a Sweetheart" fundraiser on a recent Tuesday evening at the Kennett Flash, and I don't think I've seen so many goodies since the Hershey's baking contest at the Unionville Community Fair. The wonderful desserts and drinks were all donated by local restaurants, caterers and businesses, and after eating, the sugared-up guests had the chance to "sponsor" various health, welfare and enrichment programs that the group runs for underserved children in our area -- things like reading, crafts, yoga, dance, riding, nutrition, and computer skills. (I donated money toward books for the literacy program.)
Committee members Connie Carter, Laurie Szoke and Harold Brosius did a great job explaining the group's services, using the metaphor of "a one-room schoolhouse on wheels" that travels to bring programs to those in need.

Thanks from Tilda

This being Thanksgiving (and what a wonderful holiday it is!), I want to say thank you to my readers for all the kind comments I've received about my little column since it started in September:
  • "It's like an old-fashioned hometown paper, the way newspapers used to be."
  • "It's the first thing I read in the paper."
  • "I wish we had one in my town!"
  • "We absolutely love it. It's so local."
  • "How do you find out all that stuff?"
Quite frankly, I was surprised when the editor of this paper told me he had fallen in love with my blog and asked if he could run it as a weekly column. But apparently he knows his audience: I think people want a change from the ugly, nasty, snark-filled name-calling that passes for discourse these days, and they seem to adore reading about the "little" news, with no "spin" added, that's going on in their backyard.
Especially when it's such a colorful backyard as Unionville.

Friday, November 19, 2010

100 Artists

My friend and former newspaper colleague Catherine Quillman's wonderful new book "100 Artists of the Brandywine Valley" has finally arrived from the printer, just in time for Christmas (apparently it literally took a slow boat from China). I had the pleasure of editing the introduction, so I can tell you that Cathy profiles not only the "old favorites" but also fascinating newer artists working in all sorts of media.
According to her website: "The book focuses on 100 contemporary painters, photographers, and sculptors. However, it also includes illustrated sections describing 18th and 19th century painters as well as the early photographers of the Brandywine Valley. There are also several contemporary photographers who work in either traditional (large format cameras) or experimental forms."
Like the good marketer that she is, Cathy will be holding several local book signings in December; the schedule is at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Infrastructure issue

Brinton's Bridge Road in Pennsbury Township has been closed for the past few weeks due to a crumbling bridge between Chaddwyck Lane and Pocopson Road, forcing residents to take a lengthy detour. Neighbors say that what's especially aggravating is that the same bridge, which crosses a tiny stream, was completely rebuilt only a few years back.

Year of the Locked Door

This afternoon I walked past the King's Island Chinese restaurant in the Longwood Village shopping center, which has been closed since a kitchen fire this spring, and was thrilled to see active signs of repair work going on inside! The lights were on, and I saw a ladder, extension cords and some new recessed lights. I hope they manage to reopen in time for their wonderful annual Chinese New Year buffet. For the past five years, three friends and I have made that a much-anticipated winter ritual, and we would really miss the delicious food. (And I'm sure John and the rest of the staff would miss us taking up a table for three hours.)
In contrast, still dark, vacant and up for rent is the former Acme supermarket in New Garden. The grocery store moved to Avondale in February 2008.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coffee Schopenhauer

The past few weeks, I've become a fixture at the Starbucks at Jennersville. I've been proofreading a 1,200-page philosophy textbook on hard copy, and this required more spreading-out space than I could find at home. The tables at Starbucks are exactly the right size and height, so I could work for literally hours without slouching or getting a crick in my neck.
(You may ask: Why not Longwood Starbucks, or the Bayard Taylor library, or Cafe Lindo? Answer: I'd see too many people I know and would get no work done.)
Apparently a lot of folks besides me use Starbucks as their office or a daily stopping-off spot, and the extraordinarily friendly and dedicated staff greeted regulars by name and knew exactly what drink they'd want.
Because a lot of my work was pretty mechanical, I could amuse myself by people-watching. One day at the table next to me I overheard a woman give a sales pitch, complete with little flip charts, for her jewelry "home party" business. I wouldn't say she was exactly pushy, but she obviously had plenty of experience overcoming objections. When this one demurred, she asked her to set a date when she might be ready to reconsider. "Go home, talk to your husband," she advised. "He can call my husband if he wants."
Then there's the music Starbucks plays. I never knew what to expect: the Beatles, Bob Dylan, "Saturday Night Fever," reggae, squawky progressive jazz. It was surreal, proofreading Marx's "Communist Manifesto" while listening to a swingin' Frank Sinatra medley.
So now I'm finished, all the way from ancient Greece to Martin Luther King Jr.'s amazing Washington D.C. speech. And I think it'll be quite a few days before I have another Tall Iced Non-Fat Caramel Macchiato.

Not just for horses

In the words of Dave Barry, "I am not making this up."  According to an article in the "Wall Street Journal," "a growing number of top kitchens...are harnessing hay's comforting, pastoral quality in their dishes." The article gives example of how chefs at six trendy restaurants use hay's "grassy, autumnal, haute-barnyard goodness" and includes a recipe for hay-charred scallops with horseradish mayo. (The link to the article is too long, so just do a search for "hay-charred.")

Formerly known as Sestrich's

Catherine's Restaurant in downtown Unionville is now open for breakfast and lunch, and my friend Susan and I enjoyed a terrific lunch there. It's as if it's a different restaurant in the daytime -- at night it's very dimly lit. Our waitress was very friendly and the food was just delicious -- I had a crabcake sandwich and Susan had chicken salad, and we split a dessert (lemon pound cake with black raspberry ice cream). Even on a chilly, bleak day, they were several other folks lunching there, so I hope business is good.
Menus and hours (they're closed Mondays) are at

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bricks and mortar

A woman named Tracy Culgan has organized a fundraising group to try to preserve the historic but now-abandoned Red Rose Inn in Jennersville. The website is, and she has a Facebook page by the same name. "Any rich ghost hunters or historical benefactors, get in touch with me," she suggests.


The Fourth Continental Light Dragoons had a beautiful sunny weekend for their encampment at Primitive Hall, and the Hillendale Cub Scouts and lots of other history buffs, local folks, children and photographers stopped by to watch and gain a new appreciation for our Revolutionary War soldiers.
It was so amusing watching the kids practice drilling with wooden pretend muskets under the direction of the Dragoon's commander, Bill Ochester. And when the soldiers were firing their muskets and demonstrating how they would've operated in battle, even the high-energy Cub Scouts stopped racing around and watched with rapt attention.

"No, we don't use real bullets," deadpanned Ochester. "There would be a lot fewer re-enactors if we did."
A few women accompanied the soldiers, and they were busy sewing and roasting a turkey on a spit over a campfire. The turkey was blackened on one side; the cook said ruefully that it caught on fire early in the proceedings.
The officers held a mock court-martial for one soldier who provided alcoholic beverages to the troops, above and beyond their ration. The unfortunate soldier, who hammed it up to the hilt, was found guilty after a brief, no-nonsense trial inside the Hall. His sentence was to run the gantlet, being smacked by each of his comrades, then undergo 12 lashes, and then -- dreadful! -- be demoted to the infantry. "Which is a fate worse than death," the commander informed him matter-of-factly.
His parting words as he was hauled off: "Could I have some rum?"
(Photo courtesy of Tilda's sister-in-law.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thank you!

It was as if Christmas had arrived early when I saw that PennDOT had erected two additional stop signs at the intersection of Routes 841 and 926, making it into a four-way stop. Those of us who frequent this intersection have become accustomed to seeing both near-misses and the aftermath of non-misses. Motorists on 926 seem to be getting used to stopping, but I'm still going to be really cautious for a while before assuming that they will.
I've come in for some gentle teasing about this by an urban sophisticate friend (he lives in downtown West Chester), but it really does improve my life and the lives of other locals, judging by the downright joyous comments on Facebook. Next on my wish list: a similar four-way stop at the intersection of Routes 841 and 842.
Other thank you's, in addition to PennDOT and the local officials who made the stop signs possible:
  • The guys at Unionville Feed and Pet, for always knowing exactly I'm looking for 
  • Charlie at the Unionville Post Office, for always being so cheerful
  • Paula at Perkins, for remembering how I like my eggs and ensuring we always get perfectly cooked pancakes
  • Cintra and Judy at Willowdale Country Store, for helping me choose a scarf
  • John at Sterling Optical, for fixing my eyeglasses so quickly
  • Jen and the rest of the staff, front and back of house, at the Farmhouse Restaurant, for making a recent family celebration a beautiful and memorable event.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The other Las Vegas

As always, books are playing a vital part in Joe Lordi's life. Joe, who retired after 30 years as director of the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library, has just finished writing another book. After doing three books about Kennett and one about Oxford, Joe went a little further afield this time: his latest is a 144-page postcard book about Las Vegas, New Mexico. Joe, who lives in Kennett, visits the Southwest often and became fascinated by this colorful little town. Over a period of a few years, he collected stories and postcards, talked to residents, did research, and took photographs of Las Vegas as it is today.
It's an entertaining and thoroughly researched story about the history, schools, churches, businesses, architecture, fraternal groups, houses and people of the town. Joe's book is at the printer, DavCo in Kinzers, and should be ready for purchase by the end of the year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Yes, I know, she could well have been packing heat. I don't care. I'm sick of people who selfishly risk accidents by flouting traffic signs.
The busy parking lot at the Y has clearly marked one-way routes through the lot. There are arrows indicating which direction you're supposed to drive. But the other morning, no sooner did I pull into a space than a woman in a leviathan black vehicle drove into the lot the wrong way, against the arrows, and parked.
I went up to her and pointed out how dangerous that was.
Rather glibly, I thought, she said that she was "cognizant" of the traffic and would never have done it at a busy time.
I felt like saying, Oh, really? Did you look into every single car and make sure no one was about to back out? In order to save herself a couple of seconds, and to get a space closer to the Y WHERE SHE WAS GOING FOR EXERCISE (!!), she was willing to risk wrecking somebody's vehicle -- and greatly complicating someone's day.
The definition of selfish.


If you feel like throwing up your hands in dismay with everything that's wrong with the world, here's some advice: Attend an elementary school program. You will see the world in a new and rosier light.
I went to Hillendale Elementary's Veterans Day assembly and cannot imagine a more heart-warming event. Relatives of the Hillendale students and staff who are veterans were invited to the program and were given seats of honor. The kids recited the Pledge of Allegience (yes, they still say "under God") and sang the National Anthem, and then Principal Steve Dissinger, wearing an American-flag tie, read the names of the veterans, their branch of the service, and when they served. There were veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam (one man fought there in the 101st Airborne, the "Screaming Eagles").
I was moved to tears watching these quiet heroes, now mostly in their 70s and 80s, stand proudly and wave at their beloved grandkids in the audience.
And then a sweet little girl got up and sang "America the Beautiful" in front of the whole school -- imagine the guts!
It was a beautiful event, and I'm so glad I got to be there. Mr. D, you know how to put on a great assembly. And maybe the world would be a more peaceful place if everyone everywhere would take to heart the slogans around the school gym about safety, teamwork, cooperation, fitness and making good choices.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pain and Love

It's really hard to get any sympathy for an ache or pain when you're around serious horse people. Just try mentioning that your back is out of whack and you can't bend over. They'll launch into a story about how they "came off" their horse, lacerated their liver, suffered a concussion, underwent hours of surgery -- and then were back in the saddle within a week, strictly against doctor's orders.
As if that's perfectly normal. Broken ribs are scarcely worth a mention unless they puncture something. Get more than one rider together, and believe me, the litany of injury stories you will hear will be downright gruesome.
I was told recently that I had a high pain threshold. It was a nice thought, but obviously the person had no other Unionville clients.
All kidding aside, though, sometimes catastrophic accidents do happen. Local amateur steeplechase jockey Jake Chalfin, age 32, was severely hurt in a Sept. 18 accident at the Blue Ridge Fall Races in Berryville, Va. "Stealin' the Start," a fundraiser to help with his expenses, is planned for Dec. 4 at The Stone Barn in West Marlborough. Details are on


1. Sign on the gas pump at a local convenience store: "Gas Prices You Can Trust." I'm not sure how "trust" comes into it. I choose where to buy gas based on where I am when I'm running low, plain and simple.
2. In a drugstore circular: "Get a FREE Eagles T-shirt with $30 purchase." Seems to me the Eagles, and any other commercial enterprise, should be the ones paying us to wear their logo-emblazoned clothes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Game Set Match

My tennis partners and I finally decided to pack it in for the year: It's just gotten too cold and windy to have fun. It was a terrific season, despite the kamikaze vole that raced across the court at game point and that marathon game-that-wouldn't-end in the rain (it must've gone to 12 deuces). And though we had a few spectacular falls and some mid-season dental surgery, there weren't any career-ending injuries.
It must be amusing to watch us getting ready for a match, coddling our aging joints with various braces and wraps, anointing ourselves with SPF100 sunblock per doctor's orders, and making sure there are plenty of ice packs ready for the drive home.
A young member of my family has been taking lessons from Tony DeFelice of Tony's Tennis Camp, and I'm so glad to see the kids having fun learning the sport. He's a terrific instructor.
(Pay-to-play FYI: the district cost per participant at Unionville High School is $184 for the boys' tennis team and $243 for the girls' tennis team. That's less than basketball, cheerleading, field hockey, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, sottball, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling.)

Sentence structure

Ponzi schemer Tony Young will learn his fate in two weeks. Sentencing is set for 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, before the Honorable Juan R. Sanchez. Mr. Young pleaded guilty in July to wire fraud and money laundering.

Monday, November 8, 2010

From the past

Just a reminder that the Revolutionary War re-enactors from the Fourth Continental Light Dragoons will be camping out at Primitive Hall this weekend, and you are welcome to visit the encampment, free of charge, and talk to the soldiers from noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 13. At 1 p.m. there will be a mock court-martial for an unruly soldier. At 2 p.m. there will be a "Children's Muster," where the soldiers will teach kids how to drill using wooden muskets. Then at 3 p.m. "the infantry and cavalry will perform a joint drill to demonstrate how a combined legion of troops operated in the 18th century."
Primitive Hall is on Route 841, between Route 926 and Route 842, near the village of Chatham (830 North Chatham Road).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Over timber

It was a beautiful, sunny, bracing afternoon for the 76th running of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup on Sunday. My friends and I had the best (and possibly warmest) vantage point on the entire gorgeous course, and we had heaps of fantastic food (from Hood's) and drinks. It was great to see so many friends and neighbors and dogs, and the races were dramatic. It's especially exciting when you know some of the jockeys who are galloping by.
Many of the spectators were so wrapped up in jackets, blankets, scarves and sunglasses that it was sometimes hard to recognize folks walking by. But we saw one unfortunate woman in a short skirt walking in stocking feet toward the parking area, carrying her high-heeled shoes. It looked painful.
At one point the wind died down, we were standing there looking over this beautiful vista and somebody waxed philosophical and said, "We are so lucky." Yes, indeed.
One particularly merry group of Unionville tailgaters set up their lavish buffet table under a large white banner featuring a brown stink bug emblazoned with the red letters SBP.
What does that stand for, a curious passerby asked.
"Stink Bug Party!" they chorused, going on to explain that their party's platform consisted of flatness, persistence and sheer strength in numbers.
(I will spare you my own stink bug experience this week. Suffice it to say that they really, really like my scarf drawer.)

Friday, November 5, 2010


Congratulations to my friend Joel, who on Election Day bagged an eight-point buck with a crossbow near his home in Cochranville. It was his first-ever success with a crossbow. The buck is already at the butcher's, and I have dibs on some of his wife's delicious venison lasagna.

A new restaurant to try

Two friends and I had an excellent dinner at the Taste of Puebla, a new Mexican restaurant in West Grove. The food was terrific and the service was quick and friendly. We devoured the chips with salsa verde, and then I had marvelous chicken fajitas. It was a perfect meal for a chilly, rainy evening. And we will definitely go back, because there were lots of other dishes we wanted to try.
You can see their menu at The restaurant is in a little strip shopping center at 304 E. Baltimore Pike.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Talkin' trash

I took my recycling over to the landfill today, a task I always enjoy. I can trace this back to my childhood summer vacations spent at a cabin on Lake Florence in the Poconos. It was a wholesome couple of weeks: swimming out to the float, catching sunfish and catfish, sailing and canoeing, hiking through the woods, outwitting the ancient soda machine under Cabin #9 and debating whether the giant snapping turtle was still alive. If it rained there were jigsaw puzzles and crosswords to do and books to read, but there was no television reception. (We were at the cabin when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and we still berate my father because we didn't get to watch this historic event.)
But the highlight was the weekly trip to the garbage dump in old Mr. Treat's ramshackle pickup. We kids would jump in the back, along with the trash from all the families around the lake, and head up the unpaved, rutted driveway out to the main road. If you were on one side of the truck you could catch a glimpse of the mysterious little spring-fed pool where Mr. Treat raised bait.
Such a adventure probably broke all kinds of safety rules and would never be permitted nowadays (get the helmets and hand sanitizer!), but we had a great time bouncing around as the truck hit potholes and lurched around corners.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

To die for

It goes completely against the grain for me to lecture people about their choices in life. You can drive a Prius or a Hummer, plant your bulbs in rows or clumps, support the Eagles or the Steelers: that's up to you; I'm not going to get in your face about it. The sole exception is this: cigarette smoking.
The American Cancer Society is sponsoring its annual Great American Smokeout on Nov. 18, and if you smoke, I beg you, I implore you, to try quitting. The Cancer Society's website ( offers a lot of resources to make it easier.
Tobacco causes almost 90% of all cases of lung cancer. If people didn't smoke, lung cancer would be rare, as opposed to being the leading cause of cancer death in Americans, both men and women. More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
Why am I so vehement about this? Because a dear friend of mine was a smoker, and he died of lung cancer in 2005 at the age of 52. And a lot of people remember him and miss him.

Garden blues

Perhaps in the past few weeks you've noticed the striking tall blue flowers at Fairthorn on North Union Street in Kennett. Their Latin name is Aconitum napellus, but they are most commonly called monkshood (after the shape of each flower). As lovely as it is -- and as useful in the late autumn garden -- it also contains a toxic alkaloid called aconitine.
The plant is also known as wolfsbane, as Harry Potter fans with sharp memories may recall. In "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Potions master Severus Snape uses the plant to brew a concoction that Defense Against the Dark Arts master Remus Lupin takes the week before he transforms into a werewolf during each full moon. By drinking the potion, Professor Lupin explains, "I keep my mind when I transform...I am able to curl up in my office, a harmless wolf, and wait for the moon to wane again."

As part of their witness

Whether you agree or disagree with their politics, the folks who live in our local Quaker retirement communities deserve a round of applause: they always turn out in droves for every election. Turnout on Nov. 2 was 74% both in Pennsbury's north-1 precinct (the polling place was at Crosslands) and in Kennett Township's precinct 3 (Kendal at Longwood). County-wide, the turnout was 52%, which is much higher than for the usual mid-term elections.

Deep pockets in Doe Run

Urban Outfitters founder Richard Hayne is continuing to build his elaborate greenhouse complex on what used to be Tony Young's property near Springdell. However, it seems that he started the work before getting all the necessary permits. West Marlborough Township zoning officials served him with a cease-and-desist order on Sept. 28 and fined him $500 for each day of work that was done before the permits were finally issued on Oct. 13.
Mr. Hayne's attorney is appealing the fines, claiming that the order was invalid because it was addressed to Mr. Hayne rather than the property's legal owner, Doe Run L.P.
For the record, Mr. Hayne ranks #773 on Forbes magazine's 2010 list of the world's billionaires, with net assets of $1.250 billion.

Monday, November 1, 2010


If the nastiness and incessant "spin" of the recent election left you yearning for intelligent and civil discourse, London Grove Friends Meeting is offering what promises to be an interesting evening on Saturday, Nov. 20: a discussion entitled "If War is not the Answer, What Is?" ("Victory," according to a bumper sticker I saw recently.)
Mark Bowden, the Oxford author who wrote "Black Hawk Down" and "Guests of the Ayatollah," will be joining Dan Seeger, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, and Matt Southworth, campaigns program assistant for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, to wrestle with the question of whether traditional Quaker peace testimony is relevant today.
The program starts at 7:30 p.m. The meetinghouse is at Route 926 and Newark Road.