Sunday, January 30, 2011


I wish I could have heard more of this conversation between two women at Starbucks on Sunday morning: "So I told her, `I wish you'd stop treating me like a race horse!'"
I texted a friend, who promptly replied: "Would she rather be treated like a nag?"

Good Samaritan

I don't know if there's more than one person whose vehicle has a front license plate saying "Deputy Chief, Westwood Fire Company," or if there's only one Deputy Chief and he is just an extra-nice and considerate person. On Thursday he was helping dig out a motorist struck in a drift on Route 82, catty-cornered from the Triple Fresh market. Then on Saturday the same vehicle pulled aside on my one-lane road to let me by, even though he had the right of way. Nice guy!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mushroom Adventures

In the Jan. 26 "Wall Street Journal" there's an interesting story about home mushroom-growing kits, with photos of shiitakes, portobellos and other varieties. I scanned it eagerly, looking for the words "Kennett Square"...but alas, to no avail. There is, however, an amusing quote from the president of the American Mushroom Institute, Laura Phelps:
"If it gets kids eating mushrooms, then that's great...But you'd be better off economically going to the grocery store."
Kathi Lafferty told me that her Kennett Square shop, The Mushroom Cap, stocks several of the growing kits, and she said that one of the people mentioned in the story, Donald Simoni, sold his kits at the Mushroom Festival a few years back.

Got milk?

I was unloading my groceries Saturday afternoon when I realized that the gallon of milk I'd just purchased was nowhere to be found. I checked the car trunk. No luck. I knew I hadn't left it in the grocery cart. The only answer was that I'd left it at the busy checkout counter.
So I drove back, went to customer service and, sure enough, there was my milk. They checked my receipt and I was on my way. The kind employee, Joanne, said it happens all the time, and usually people don't even come back and retrieve their groceries.
"Maybe they just don't notice," she said, looked baffled.

Friday, January 28, 2011

On the market

I'm curious what's going to happen to the 11-acre parcel of land directly across Street Road (Route 926) from the New Bolton Center in East Marlborough. According to the agent's sign, it's zoned "RB" for residential use (I remembered the "RB" all the way home by thinking of a Reuben sandwich).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Time Warp

The other day some friends and I, all of whom grew up in the Delaware Valley, were reminiscing about television in the 1970s, and we started talking about Dr. Shock. Remember him? He was this mad-scientist character who hosted the Saturday-afternoon horror movies on Channel 17. He'd introduce the terrible movie, shriek a couple of times and then perform magic tricks and goofy skits during intermission. (His real name was Joe Zawislak, and he hailed from Manayunk.)
The real highlight of "Scream-In," though, was the advertising. The low-budget local commercials were completely cheesy, and to this day I remember them.
The ones for a local transmission shop featured a brassy, heavily-made-up woman with a beehive hairdo: "The boss's wife for Atlantic Transmission," she'd announce in a nails-on-chalkboard South Philly accent.
"Do you feel trapped by high repair costs?" she'd ask, lowering onto a toy car the kind of plastic basket that onion rings come in at a diner.
And then there was the narrator on the plastic slipcovers ad, who pronounced "beautiful" as "bee-you-dee-full."
Our trip down memory lane led to Dr. Demento and Stella the Man-Eater from Manayunk, but I'll save them for another blog entry.

Main Line plus

The January issue of "Main Line Today" magazine features a fascinating story with some great old photos about big local storms over the past 100 years of so -- and many of them seem to have occurred out our way here in Chester County, like a huge windstorm that hit Ercildoun.
The magazine seems to have an elastic definition of the "Main Line." I always thought it ended at Paoli, just like the old Paoli Local, but apparently not. Perhaps now it's just a State of Mind.

Heaps of fun

I'm all plowed out here from that two-stage snowstorm on Jan. 26-27, and the roads were fine this afternoon (Jan. 27) except for (surprisingly) one stretch of Route 82 north of Ercildoun, and (no surprise) White Horse Road west of Route 41. We didn't lose electric power, but my parents in Chadds Ford did, for 15 hours, after a tree fell on the lines. It was down to 56 degrees in their house before my mother phoned me, jubilantly, to announce that the lights and heat were back on.
And my extremely hardy young friend Amy, who lives out toward Oxford, lost power for 18 hours during the storm. She posted the following on Facebook:
"No power. Dad's still out plowing, going on hour 13. Hope he comes home to help us get out to some place with heat and water. Until then, creek water on shop woodstove will do. Haha!"
Also, I was very disappointed to hear that we had "thundersnow," which is thunder and lightning during a snowstorm. How on earth could I have slept through something so exciting?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tasty tasty

"Pizza or Chinese?" I texted my sister-in-law before the Steelers-Jets game.
Chinese, we decided, and she called in our order to the China Garden restaurant in the Marlborough Square shopping center on Route 1 (the center where Genuardi's and Floga Bistro are).
The take-out food, which the four of us ate on trays in front of the giant TV, was delicious, with just the right amount of spiciness. I had a full plate of sesame chicken and broccoli with rice and remarked that it was a perfectly sized portion.
My sister-in-law laughed and said there was plenty more: it wasn't even half of what was in the container. Eventually I got three full meals out of a single order!
You can see their menu at their website, The restaurant seemed to be doing a good business on a football playoff Sunday.
Oh, and GO STEELERS in the Super Bowl!

Outta here

People seem to be vacating our part of the world at a rapid pace, much like the exodus to Maine in the summer. My parents are heading to Florida as they do each winter for a well-deserved month in the sun. Various other locals are on vacation in Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, and another is taking a training course in Houston.
And my photographer friend Paul, who usually hangs out in Iceland, Norway and Alaska, managed to score a timely assignment in the Caribbean and has been sending back ravishing photos of minimally clad people frolicing on the beaches of the Dominican Republic and St. Maarten:
"I'm on the last day in the Caribbean, notably unimpressed with Aruba's charms. Bonaire was my favorite by far. Didn't have enough time in Curacao to know for sure. Lovely beaches and great architecture in the old town, plus huge Venezuelan refinery belching smoke and flames. Really, it's a win-win."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cold cold cold

This is the fourth day of single-digit temperatures, but I much prefer the invigorating cold to those awful, enervating heat waves. I drink iced coffee year-round, and I never mind putting ice packs on sore muscles. In the cold, you can always put on a hat or another layer of clothing, and it's kind of exciting to watch the car's thermometer drop steadily -- how low will it go? (Down to 5 so far.)
"Stay warm," friends say to each other, and somehow that's so much cozier than "Stay cool!"
Shoveling the driveway was a great cardio workout and a satisfying break from work, but I was a little surprised to see a jogger run by yesterday morning. And a family member in Minnesota told me he biked to work the other day despite the 28-below weather. Now that's a little extreme!
Of course, I don't have to go outside unless I want to, unlike people with snow to plow, farms to run and animals to tend. My friend Susan, who has horses and chickens at her Newlin Township farm, said her horses have little icicles on their nose and chin hairs from their frozen breath, and the bucket of 60-degree water for her chickens is actually steaming as she hauls it on her wagon to the chicken coop.
Not surprisingly, she much, much prefers the summer.
(The photos show Susan's horses, Danny and Diesel, enjoying a snowy breakfast, and the chicken coop.)

Winter malady

When I was a cub reporter, if our editor's kid developed a sniffle, the next morning we'd be assigned to do a story about the epidemic that was hitting the town. We'd have to call the hospital PR woman, and she'd call back on deadline with an innocuous quote from some agreeable MD -- and oh! by the way, did we know that the hospital's ER waiting times had dropped, and didn't we want to do a story about the medical society's upcoming gala?
But I really think something has been going around town this past week. Several very hardy and noncomplaining souls, all grown-ups, have been hit, and hit hard -- to the point of actually missing work and visiting a doctor. Pounding headaches, acute gastrointestinal distress and sore throats seem to be the presenting, and persistent, symptoms.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fair Queen

Congratulations to Claire Werkiser, a senior at Unionville High School, who was crowned the 2011 Pennsylvania State Fair Queen in Hershey on Saturday, Jan. 22! Claire, the 2010 Unionville Community Fair Queen, represented our fair at the state-wide pageant.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


At their December meeting, the Newlin Township supervisors (Janie Baird, Rob Pearson and Bill Kelsall) opened bids for the sale of the township's old truck, described as a "1995 Chevy 3500 HD Dump Truck, 6.5 turbo diesel engine, 81,000 miles, fresh Pa. inspection, automatic transmission, 2WD, all central hydraulics, equipped with 9' western uni-mount snow plow and rear mounted tailgate spreader." The winning bid was $7,777, well over the $3,000 minimum.
A newer four-wheel-drive truck, purchased from Pocopson Township, "will enable the Township to better perform its responsibilities in inclement weather," according to a report in "The Newlin News."

Say what?

Overheard on Saturday afternoon: one youth to another, as they were leaving the Y after working out: "Aw, man, I had to park so far away, it's insane!"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Power shift

Wow, did we dodge a bullet this afternoon (Jan. 21). The temperatures had been dropping to well below freezing and the wind had been picking up since lunchtime, and bang: the power went out at about 3 p.m. I think there was probably a car accident, or a tree fell on the wires. I called PECO to report the outage and the automated voice said that 51 customers were affected, and power should be back on by 6:30 p.m.
At about 4:30 I was just thinking about heading out to Starbucks for the duration when -- wonder of wonders! -- I heard my printer start up and saw the digital clock flashing. Back to normal!
Living without power is awful at any time of the year -- no cooking, no water, no computer for work or e-mail or the Internet -- but in the winter it's especially nasty because it gets dark so early, and I have electric heat. Even with my Aladdin oil lamp burning, it had dropped to 58 degrees inside by the time the power came back on.
Thank you for the quick repair, PECO!
Earlier in the week, lots of folks lost power late Tuesday afternoon in the wake of some motor vehicle accidents near Willowdale. I'm told that Route 82 was shut down between the high school and Route 926.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Business for sale

If it's your New Year's resolution to start a mushroom farm, you're in luck: there's one for sale on the west side of Newark Road at Spencer Road in West Marlborough Township. Drive by and take a look. There are signs on the site giving the owner's contact information.

Vested rights

No one expects rapier-sharp legal arguments and riveting testimony at a municipal zoning hearing, but even by those standards the three-hour hearing at West Marlborough Township the evening of Jan. 19 was exceptionally dull. The only excitement came when a stink bug crawled up the back of attorney Michael Gill's brown suit jacket. The spectators behind him were mesmerized, wondering whether it was going to crawl into his long, wavy hair before he noticed. (It didn't; one of his clients flicked it off him.)
Here's some background. Some Springdell residents don't like the impact that the popular tavern/restaurant The Whip has had on their quality of life: it brings noise, traffic and trash, they say. They've sought various remedies over the years, but the problems have persisted, so they presented a formal complaint to the township in 2010, claiming that the township zoning officer ignored the township's ordinance when he issued the initial permits and then permitted expansion of the Whip.
The township's attorney responded that the zoning officer had in fact done his job properly. The neighbors then filed an appeal to the township Zoning Hearing Board, which is what led to the Jan. 19 hearing.
The Whip, argued the neighbors' attorney, Mr. Gill, has become "very, very, very successful" and "a regional restaurant attraction," but its popularity has created "intolerable conditions" in Springdell.

The position taken by The Whip and the township is that the neighbors knew about the situation for years but did not file a complaint on a timely basis. The Whip's attorney said his clients did exactly what the township instructed them to do when renovating the property and opening the restaurant.
Moderating the hearing was the Zoning Hearing Board's solicitor, E. Craig Kalemjian of West Chester, and chairing the zoning board was Clayton Bright.
Other attorneys present were:
  • Mr. Gill and Kristin S. Camp, both of Buckley, Brion, McGuire, Morris, & Sommer, West Chester, representing the Springdell neighbors (Joe and Cathy Huston, Gus and Linda Brown, George Strawbridge and several others)
  • Neil Land of Brutscher, Foley, Milliner & Land, Kennett Square, representing The Whip's owners, Luke Allen and K.C. Culp
  • J. Dwight Yoder of Gibbel Kraybill & Hess, Lancaster, representing the township.
The three township supervisors were also present, but only as spectators.
The hearing was to continue on Tuesday, Jan. 25. You are welcome to attend, but I'm going to find something more interesting to do: there's no guarantee that adventurous stink bug will return to entertain us.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Where am I?

Think you know our neck of the woods? The Cheshire Hunt Conservancy has started a fun "name-that-view" photo contest on its website,

On hold

I'm not sure how many people know about a truly amazing service that our county library system offers. You can go online (, search the catalog, reserve a book and have it sent to the library that's most convenient for you. You'll get an email when it arrives, and you have five days to go to the library and pick it up. No extra charge!
I put "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett on hold and it arrived in only four days -- and it's a bestseller. I'm impressed. (By the way, it's an excellent and entertaining book, and very timely for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.)
One caveat, though: on my computer, the county library website doesn't function very well using Internet Explorer, but it works perfectly with Mozilla Firefox.

Get well soon!

Sending healing thoughts and best wishes to Jim Graham, the talented and charming photographer who makes those wonderful images in "The Hunt" magazine, all the equestrian event programs, and lots of other publications. Jim had heart surgery last week at Christiana Hospital and is recuperating at home. I'm sure he'll be back on his feet for the spring wedding season!


People have been asking me if I've heard anything about Aggie O'Brien's legal troubles. You'll recall that the Kennett Square caterer stands accused of trying to blackmail a very wealthy local horse breeder and former friend, threatening to say mean (but unspecified) things about the woman and her family unless she received substantial sums of money.
Ms. O'Brien has been free on $10,000 unsecured bail since the extortion charges were filed in August. The latest I've heard is that a jury trial is set for March 22 before the Honorable C. Darnell Jones II of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Do you have friends whose invitations you accept without a nanosecond's hesitation? They're fun, relaxed and welcoming, they offer great food and drinks and they have a genius for gathering the most amusing, interesting, diverse people at their homes.
I went to a Unionville brunch on Sunday where I knew the host and hostess and only one other person, but the entire group of us ended up staying until the middle of the afternoon, laughing and swapping stories and getting to know each other. Although we came from widely varying backgrounds, we had no trouble finding plenty of connections, whether neighbors, hobbies, or stink bug problems. A wonderful party!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Scrapbooking was the main focus of a recent Girl Scout weekend at Camp Tweedale in Nottingham, but there was a lot of relaxing and gourmet food as well. Taking part were Dawn Talley and her troop of 9 girls; Rosalee Wortmann and her daughter, Rachel; Karen D'Agusto and her daughter, Stephanie Bernasconi; and Michal Rittler (who was also the chef) and her daughter, Kate. This is the third year in a row for the Brandywine Valley Girl Scout Service Unit event, which is open only to scouts in high school and former scouts who are now in college.
"The cabins were toasty and the event was a great success," reported Karen.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I spent part of Friday evening in the 5-degree cold watching my friend Susan feed her horses, and I noticed that she added to their feed a scoop of vitamin E and selenium powder.
She explained that both are key nutrients in a horse's diet, and said she had heard years ago that a selenium problem in horses had somehow played a role in the 1876 defeat of  Lt. Col. George Amstrong Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana.
I checked this out online when I got home (and my fingers warmed up enough to type), and it appears that an excess of selenium may have been to blame.
According to Karen E. Davison, manager of equine technical services for Purina Mills:
Custer’s demise at the Battle of Little Bighorn has also been attributed to selenium toxicity by some accounts. Some believe that Custer would not have been defeated at the Battle of Little Bighorn if the troops of [Capt. Frederick] Benteen and [Major Marcus] Reno had arrived in time. One report indicated that the horses and mules in the pack train with Benteen and Reno were lame and acting crazy, which delayed their arrival. The lameness may have been caused by selenium toxicity but the odd behavior was more likely caused by swainsonine, which along with high selenium levels, is found in some types of locoweeds that grow in the region. So, Custer’s last stand might have been avoided if Benteen and Reno had known their animals were grazing on locoweeds.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I was thumbing through the annual list of awards presented by the Antique Automobile Club of America for car restoration and saw that Lou Mandich, of the Last Chance Garage in Unionville, received a Historic Preservation award for his 1955 MG at the Eastern Division National Fall Meet in Hershey in October. Well done!


Apologies to my friends who drive school buses and plow roads, but I was underwhelmed by the Jan. 12 storm. "Severe weather!" warned, churning out multiple text messages the day before. As it was, we got only about four inches and the road was already plowed when I woke up. Schools had a two-hour delay, and I made it to my gym class as usual.
I work with a lot of wonderful software people in the Hebbal section of Bangalore, India, where it rarely drops below 55 degrees F, and they worry about me in the winter.
"I heard that a Snowstorm has hit the East Coast of the US. Are you all safe there?" asked Kiran via email.
"I hope that the weather has improved in Pennsylvania as is not as cold as it was last month," fretted Smitha.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A pirate's life for me

"If sharing is stealing then Librarians are Pirates," read the sandwich board in front of the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library. Baffled, I asked the Sandwich Board Coordinator for an explanation. She explained that it was in response to some curmudegeonly TV personality who had expressed the view that public libraries were no more than common thieves, cheating authors out of their royalties by allowing people to check books out instead of buying them.

Careful with that wrench, Eugene

Those of you who grew up in the 1970s will doubtless recall listening to Pink Floyd, loudly, either through headphones while sulking in your room or grooving with your pals on a worn-out sofa in somebody's rec room.
I decided to give "Meddle" a listen after many years. You may recall (but probably not) the 23-minute piece "Echoes." It consists of trippy electric organ and guitar noodling and lots of electronic and real bird chirps, and toward the end they add these "plink" noises. Plink...a few seconds...plink....a few seconds...plink plonk.
All I could think of was the leaky bathroom faucet that I really should see to.
I am getting so old.
(Extra-credit question: What body part does the cover photo depict?)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Over my head

There's a vertical branch dangling from a tree above the westbound lane of Hilton Road at Route 796. Even with all the wind we've had this winter, it's been hanging there precariously for weeks now, like the sword of Damocles, just waiting to fall and spear any oncoming motorist. I have to confess that I deliberately cross into the other lane to avoid it.


I was so sorry to hear this afternoon that Simon Pearce, the restaurant on the Brandywine at Lenape, is closing. I had a lot of fine meals there, including a memorable salmon en croute with cauliflower. I don't remember how the cauliflower was prepared, but it was the first time in my life that I actually enjoyed that vegetable.

They also made their own glassware, and it was exquisite. Pictured here are a Champagne flute (with a mimosa) and a vase (with summer flowers).
Old-timers will remember that the restaurant used to be called the Lenape Inn, and it was considered very ritzy back then -- not the place for a family meal. And the Pocopson post office used to be located on the building's ground floor, on the river side. There were usually geese loitering around.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Altogether spooky

When I was a kid in the early 1960s, I loved the TV show "The Addams Family." Based on characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams, it was about a loving, happy, and quite eccentric family.
Last fall I said to a young member of my family that if he didn't get a haircut soon, he would start to look like Cousin Itt. He gave me a blank look.
Well, I decided then and there, this cannot be. No child should grow up ignorant of Cousin Itt, and Lurch, and Thing, and Cleopatra the carnivorous plant. I bought the DVD set as a Christmas present and waited with some trepidation for the verdict, worried that the simple black-and-white series would seem hopelessly quaint to a youngster raised on Wii and high-tech computer games.
I needn't have worried. He LOVES the program. He didn't want to watch the Eagles in the playoffs on Sunday afternoon. No, he wanted us to watch "The Addams Family." He has taken to quizzing me on Addams Family trivia (What is Pugsley's pet?), says "You Rang?" and snaps his fingers at the drop of a hat, and couldn't wait to tell me that he knew the answer to the "Jeopardy!" question about who could light up a light bulb in his mouth (Uncle Fester).
There is hope for the next generation.
Oh, and by the way: is Thing left-handed or right-handed?

In Your Wardrobe

"Six Items or Less began as a small experiment between friends and quickly grew to become a global movement questioning the power of what we don’t wear."

Perhaps you've heard of this "experiment" where you choose six items of clothing and wear nothing else for a month straight. You're allowed to do laundry ad libitum, and underwear, workout clothes, shoes, accessories and coats are excluded from the six items.
A blogger I know is getting herself into a tizzy selecting her clothes for this ascetic month, but for me, and I suspect for a lot of my country neighbors, six items would work just fine. Jeans or leggings, a turtleneck, and a fleece pullover are my daily winter uniform. Add a skirt and nice top for any festive occasions that come up. Done. Summer would be even easier.
A lot of men already live by the six-or-less rule, blue shirt, white shirt, navy blue sport jacket and tan trousers.
As my friend Susan said, "I wear the same sweat pants and shirt every day to clean the barn. Do I win anything?"


I stopped off at the Jennersville Giant after working out today to stock up for the impending storm. At check-out, the elderly gentleman in front of me told the cashier that the six-pack of steak rolls was on sale for $2.79, but he was being charged more. The cashier called over her supervisor. The supervisor phoned the bakery department, confirmed that $2.79 was the correct price, pushed a few buttons on the register and said, "There. Now you got them for free."
The guy absolutely beamed. I'll bet those rolls will taste extra-good.

Good signs

The sign at a house for sale along Wollaston Road reads, "Unionville-Chadds Ford School District," in big red letters, right where agents usually like to tout the house's biggest selling point. That's certainly a vote of confidence for the district -- and good news for homeowners.

Monday, January 10, 2011

More than coincidence?

Posted on The Whip's Facebook page on Monday, Jan. 10: "Starting next Wednesday, we will be starting "Locals" Happy Hour! Bar patrons whose photo ID has a zip code which falls within a 5 mile radius of the pub will get $2 of drafts from 5-7PM."
Hmmm. Might this have something to do with the longstanding disagreement the Whip is having with "locals," namely some of its close neighbors in Springdell? And the fact that the zoning hearing set to consider the dispute is scheduled for . . . Wednesday evening, Jan. 19?

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Coming back from an afternoon of errands in Delaware, I was driving south on Route 1 past Hank's when I saw a Honda Fit with a Hawaii license plate. It was purchased at the Honda Windward dealership in Kaneohe. How on earth did it get here?

Little orbs

Thanks to all my readers who reminded me that Barnard's Orchards stocks local eggs from the Wickersham farm year-round. I will definitely stop by the next time I need them. Whether you use them in baking or for breakfast, there's really no comparison between "the real thing" and the supermarket variety.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Snow events

This is the second morning in a row we've awoken to light snow.
Friday I met my friend Susan at Perkins for breakfast and although the roads were okay, business was so slow they were sending some of the wait staff home.
Saturday I got an email from the school district announcing that all district activities were cancelled -- except for the Middle School Lego Robotics tournament. This didn't surprise me: I've been to some of these tourneys, and the participants are intense and focused competitors, with astonishing talent and creativity. In 20 years we'll be reading an interview with the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs and he or she will be reminiscing about learning to write code as part of Lego Robotics club.

Friday, January 7, 2011


I was taking down my Christmas tree a few days ago, and as I was sweeping up the needles (very few; it was a great tree) I recalled a fond memory from 1979.

Like most of my college class, I spent my junior year studying (I use the term loosely) overseas. This was long before e-mail, cell phones, and Skype, and Europe was much more remote. Trans-Atlantic calls were almost unheard of: you had to book them in advance with the college porter, Colin, and the quality of the connection was deplorable, full of echoes and delays.
So my mother and I communicated via letters, written on blue, tissue-paper-thin mailers that could be folded up and sealed to create their own envelope.
I received one letter from her in January. I slit the edges immediately and eagerly read all the home news, but what I remember most is the fact that she had disobeyed the strict injunction against putting any enclosures in these mailers -- and had sent me a few needles from our family's Christmas tree.
Thanks, Mum.

No place like Homeville

A foxhunting friend reports that during a recent meet her horse was so hyperactive ("Rodeo Boy," she dubbed him) that for safety's sake (her own) she decided to call it a day. She asked her fellow riders how to backtrack to the trailers parked near Homeville, and they pointed her in the general direction.
She rode along the perimeter of a few fields and flagged down a mail carrier approaching in his vehicle to confirm what road she was on.

To her dismay, he didn't know. He was just filling in, he said, and all he could tell her was that he had turned off Homeville Road nearby.
She knew exactly where to find her trailer from that point, but wouldn't you think that a person delivering mail would be a ready source of accurate information about road names?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Remember Jim?

I'm sure a lot of folks have fond memories of Jim Robinson, our former Postmaster in Unionville. He and his partner are living in Evergreen, Colorado, and I received a sweet Christmas card from them. "No snow yet!" he reports.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crunch time

Every January lots of folks make the praiseworthy resolution to get in shape, and a certain proportion of them will join the YMCA in order to do so. The result is that during the first few weeks of the year, the Y gets unusually crowded. This morning, a sign at the Jennersville Y announced a 30-minute limit on the cardio equipment (I disobeyed; nobody was waiting), and I'm told there has been double-parking in the parking lot of the West Chester Y. Unfamiliar faces can be seen walking the track, testing out the fitness equipment, taking a dip in the pool or doing an aerobics or yoga class.
But by the end of January, sad to say, most of them are gone. It happens every year.
If you want to stay the course, my advice is to find an activity you like and to make working out part of your schedule. The Y is open all kinds of hours to accommodate busy people; some high-powered local executives I know get their workouts in before dawn.

For political junkies only

Each January, the board of supervisors in each township in Pennsylvania is required to "reorganize," part of which involves electing a chairman and vice-chair. In a brief session on Jan. 3, the West Marlborough board decided to keep the same officers as in 2010: Bill Wylie as chair and Mike Ledyard as vice-chair. The third supervisor, Hugh Lofting, will remain Roadmaster and Emergency Management Coordinator. Shirley Walton remains township secretary-treasurer.
Mr. Wylie is president of Mitchell, Sinkler & Starr, investment advisors in Philadelphia. Mr. Ledyard is a partner with Morris James, the Delaware law firm. Mr. Lofting owns Hugh Lofting Timber Framing Inc. in Kennett Square.
Supervisors' meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, preceeded by the Planning Commission at 7 p.m. Despite West Marlborough's small population (fewer than 900 people), these meetings attract a loyal following to the township building, which is a comment either on our civic-mindedness or our boundless curiosity about our neighbors.

Could be worse

A commenter on my blog asked me if stink bugs make a sound.
Not that I've noticed. As they fly they make a droning, monotonic noise, lower in pitch than that of a darting hummingbird. And then they make a quiet little "thud" as they land on the windowsill or wall.
Certainly I make some noises, and often some very unladylike ones, when I see, say, the 27th bug of the day, and just as I'm getting into bed for the night.
And an East Marlborough reader reports an alarming symptom of stink bug overload: she finds herself "mistaking nail holes, bits of dust or leaves, etc." for the little creatures. I can SO relate to that.

Proofreaders never sleep....

Or, why you can't rely on spell-checking programs:
1. Classified section of the "Community Courier," Jan. 5: "Cut & spilt firewood."
2. Sports page of the "Wall Street Journal," Dec. 31: two references to a Wisconsin football player who grew up on a farm "bailing hay."

Concrete bland

There's a Philadelphia radio station (headquartered in the same Bala Cynwyd office building as my accountant) that has started using a recorded female voice to announce the titles and artists of the songs they play:

"Culture Club. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me."

"Hall and Oates. You Make My Dreams Come True."

"Modern English. Melt With You."

Her robotic, almost narcotized tone conveys about as much emotion as the recorded voice that tells you to press 1 on an automated voice-mail system. It's really jarring and, these days, unnecessary: if you're curious about a song title or who sings it, and it doesn't show up on your car's video screen, just do an online search for a couple of words in the lyrics. Piece of cake.
Then again, what do I know? The station honchos may have done extensive focus-group research and found that the robo-announcer was the top choice among their favored demographic.

Night out

Dukes of Destiny will be playing its annual concert at West Grove Friends Meeting at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29. Yes, a dance party in a Quaker meetinghouse, and everybody from little kids to aging hippies gets out on the floor for this one! To listen to the Dukes, visit their Facebook page, and for tickets, visit The show is presented by the Turtledove Folk Club.


I hadn't ventured east of the Route 1/202 intersection for some time and was amazed at all the new businesses that have sprung up along Route 1 from 202 to 322. One of them is the Texas Roadhouse, a restaurant where a young member of our family decided we would celebrate his birthday. We got there at 5 p.m. on a Sunday and the place was already crowded; when we finished dinner there were people lined up in the lobby.
It's a cheerful, reasonably priced family restaurant where you can get a good steak and a beer, and the service was accommodating and friendly, even as busy as it was. They made a fuss over the birthday boy, and at one point the staff launched into a line dance.
In other restaurant news, there's a sign up at the King's Island Chinese restaurant announcing "Grand Re-opening Soon." Alas, in smaller print underneath, it says "Mid-December."

Sunday, January 2, 2011


It was a wonderful and busy holiday season. I've got one final party to attend today, and then comes that seemingly endless bleak period when there's absolutely nothing social going on. Every December I re-learn my small talk and mingling skills and remember how to balance a wine glass and a full plate of food while standing up and chatting brightly (bonus points for being able to shake hands or pet a dog in the meantime). Then those abilities get stashed away again til the next season, just like the festive red and black outfits and the Christmas platters.