Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mary D. Lang

Sounds like there is an unpopular move afoot to remove Mary D. Lang's name from the school on Center Street in Kennett Square when it becomes a kindergarten center beginning in the 2011-12 school year. I saw this petition on Facebook:
"This building was named after Miss Mary D. Lang, a teacher and well-known resident of Kennett Square. Miss Lang began her teaching career in 1883 and served 44 years in the profession, which was said to be some sort of a record in the state of Pennsylvania. In 1931 she was recognized for her years of service at the dedication of the new Kennett Consolidated School. In June of 1940, the community playground located on the corners of Center and Cedar Streets was named after her. Children from the town would go to the playground to play box hockey and basketball. Movies were even shown on the side of the building for the town. When the building was turned into a school in 1972 her name remained and the school became Mary D. Lang Elementary School. ...
We, the undersigned, oppose the plan to rename Mary D. Lang Elementary when it becomes a kindergarten center for the start of the 2011 school year. We call on the Kennett Consolidated School District and its Board of Directors to maintain the name Mary D. Lang for the new kindergarten center."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jake's Burgers

The other day at the shopping center a guy handed me a flyer for a special promotion at Jake's Wayback Burgers and informed me, with supreme confidence, that their milkshakes were simply the best.
I was not about to resist a sales pitch like that. So the other night, after an afternoon of yard work, I went to Jake's with two of my favorite dinner companions, all of us first-time visitors.
Taste-Testers #1 and #2 had Jake's Cheeseburgers (two patties) and they were delicious; Taste-Tester #3, the youngest member of the party, had the chicken fingers, his usual order at restaurants, and reported they were very good.
All of us had the French fries, which were fresh, hot and the right degree of crispy.
"I'm not a big fan of fries, but these were good," said Taste-Tester #1.
And, yes, all three of us had the milkshakes, which were ice-cold and just the right consistency -- very good.
The place was bustling on a Saturday at 6 p.m., mostly with families. There are ten tables, plus counter space, and you can order your meal to go as well.
Jake's is on Route 1 east of Kennett Square, between Applebee's and the Hilton Garden Inn.
(If it were up to me, I would add that the yummy milkshakes were enhanced by the retro-style metal containers they came in, but that didn't impress jaded Taste-Tester #3: "Who cares?" he opined.)

Book 'em

Hats off to Leah Gower and her staff, who undertook the mammoth job of running the Unionville Used Book Sale. I stopped by on Saturday -- opening night has just gotten too crowded for me -- and as always had a great time browsing though the vast selection of books, everything from Rod McKuen poetry to a lab manual for dissecting rabbits, from Nancy Drew to Richard Brautigan to John Fowles. There were coffee-table books, kids' books, romances, mysteries, foreign language dictionaries, textbooks and even old VHS tapes ("What are those?" I overheard a boy asking his mom). Everything was very well organized and labeled, and there were lots of volunteers on hand, including high-school kids racking up their community service hours.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Let's be careful out there

As soon as I posted last week's item about the international e-mail scam that almost trapped my parents, I heard from two readers who had received similar fraudulent e-mails last summer. So beware if you get an e-mail purporting to be from a traveling friend who claims to have gotten mugged and begs you to wire cash to a foreign address!

Good germs

According to a European study in the latest "New England Journal of Medicine," children who live on farms have a much lower risk of developing asthma than suburban and urban dwellers because the rural children are exposed to a greater diversity of germs, helping to fortify their immune systems. The researchers collected samples of dust from houses in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, analyzed the microbes in the samples and linked the data to the incidence of asthma in each family.
The scientists stressed that it was the variety of bugs that made the difference, not the sheer number.

Dollars and rubles

The ATM screen at my bank (Wachovia, soon to be Wells Fargo) informed me the other day that it now is capable of doing business in Russian, and even showed some sample Cyrillic lettering to prove it. Who knew there was a demand for Russian-language banking services in southern Chester County?
I visited Wells Fargo's website to find out about this new service and found a really interesting little essay by historian Ileana Bonilla about the bank's links with Russia, dating back to the early 20th century. For instance:
"In 1912, Wells Fargo made sending money to Russia easier by introducing Foreign Postal Remittances. D.G. Mellor, the Foreign Traffic Manager at the time, stated that in offering this service Russians were one of the groups at whom they were aiming "the great field of [their] efforts." These remittances would be for "people who have money to send to their home villages in Europe, where there are usually no banks and where our foreign money orders, printed in English, cannot be read or understood."
Through correspondent banks, Wells Fargo would arrange for cash to be mailed directly to the recipient. The new service allowed Russians in the U.S. the convenience of sending money back home easily, knowing it would arrive right at the door of their relative or friend."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fighting back

The Bayard Taylor Memorial Library, the Brandywine Valley Girl Scout service unit and the community group Consecha ("Harvest") are together sponsoring a showing of "Bullied," a documentary about a gay teenager who fights back against his tormenters. Dr. Loren Pearson, a psychologist with the Kennett Consolidated School District, will lead a discussion after the movie. The film is appropriate for sixth-graders and up. The movie will be shown at the library, 216 E. State St., Kennett, at 5:30 p.m. March 10. There is no admission charge, but please register with library director Donna Murray at or call 610-444-2702.
Loren told me that the bullying that today's kids face is not just the harassment you may remember from your school days: nowdays they have to contend with pervasive cyberbullying by e-mail, Facebook, MySpace and text messages. And, as we know from recent tragic headlines, the consequences can be deadly.


La Michoacana Homemade Ice Cream is opening for the season on Saturday, March 5! If I were a betting woman, I would wager this is the absolute best news you will read in "The Kennett Paper" this week. La Michoacana is at 321 East State Street in Kennett, and Noelia and her staff serve up delicious ice cream in traditional and exotic flavors. My favorites are coffee and mango, but I have friends who love their corn ice cream, with cinammon sprinkled on it.


I keep forgetting that Old Kennett Road is closed between the two branches of Snuff Mill Road, just into New Castle County, so a new cement culvert for the creek can be installed. The short detour (heading south) takes you on Snuff Mill, then Center Mill and Ashland Clinton School Road, and back to Old Kennett Road.
Old Kennett Road is supposed to reopen this April after the $990,496.03 project is completed, but when I was there on Saturday morning a pelleton of bicyclists seemed to be greatly enjoying the much-reduced traffic.
Speaking of roads in Delaware, southbound Route 7 really took a hit this winter: it seems to be mostly potholes as you're heading toward Pike Creek.
Perhaps you've noticed, not for the first time, that I'm a little on the obsessive side when it comes to directional references. That comes from being a reporter for a lot of years, having to describe on which corner a development was going to be built, or which direction each car in a crash was heading.
You can also blame William A. Nolen, M.D. As a teenager I read "A Surgeon's World," his terrific autobiography about life in Litchfield, Minnesota, and was determined to be more exact about directions after reading the following:
"The flatness leads to one characteristic of the Midwest that constantly confused me when I first moved here. It still does...Everyone gives directions in terms of the compass, because the roads, unlike the twisting roads of New England, run in straight lines."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Whip hearing #3

The West Marlborough Zoning Hearing Board threw out a major chunk of the Springdell residents' case against the Whip at a hearing on Monday, Feb. 21. (The residents are claiming that the operations of the popular bar and restaurant have had an increasingly negative impact on their quality of life in terms of noise, parking, lighting and so forth.) The zoning board ruled that according to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Code, the residents should have filed their complaint within 30 days after the permits were first issued to the Whip by the township zoning officer. (The residents' attorney previously argued that because the approvals process was flawed, the 30-day rule shouldn't even apply.)

The only remaining argument is whether the Whip is allowed to use the adjoining house just west of the restaurant as part of its business. The residents contend that it used to be a rental house and, because the Whip now uses it for storage, the owners should have applied to the township for permission for a change in use.

However, on Monday a woman who used to manage the Country Deli, which preceded The Whip, testified that for years she used the back of the house as an office for the deli and for storage, which means it is not a new use. She also testified that even the Country Deli used to have parking problems at the site.

Despite the fact that a snowstorm was predicted, the third hearing, which lasted 2 hours, drew a larger-than-usual audience, including the Springdell residents and their attorney, Kristin Camp; K.C. Kulp of the Whip and his attorney, Neil Land; the township's attorney, Dwight Yoder; township supervisor Hugh Lofting; Bernie Langer, who lives in Springdell but is not one of the plaintiffs; Al Giannantonio and Russell Yerkes, of Yerkes Associates, the township engineers; and a "Philadelphia Inquirer" reporter.

Members of the Zoning Board who attended were Elizabeth "Baz" Powell, Charlie Brosius, chairman Clayton Bright and solicitor Craig Kalemjian.

The next hearing is set for Wednesday, March 16, at 7 p.m.

Drugstores everywhere

A Walgreens drugstore is being built on Route 41, just west of the old Pyle's hardware store. But there's already a Walgreens store just 2 miles away, on the other side of Avondale, at Route 41 and Penn Green Road. I suppose pharmacy chains do a thorough market research study before embarking on a construction project for yet another store, but sometimes it makes you wonder.

"The Happening"

If it weren't for the howling wind outside on Saturday evening, you might well have heard our shouts of glee coming from a Powell Road farmhouse.
Two friends and I were watching "The Happening," the M. Night Shyamalan movie that was filmed, in part, literally just down the street from their home in the summer of 2007.
"That's the back of our property!" cried Susan.
"I have that exact same map book!" I yelled, startling the Corgi who had been snoozing on my belly. I made the host stop the DVD, and I jumped up from the sofa and pointed to exactly where I live. There were the words "West Marlborough" on the map, right there on the screen!
It was so much fun to recognize the Unionville countryside, which of course looked beautiful, even though the wind blowing through the trees and tall grass was meant to be ominous. Susan pointed out the road that was built just for the movie, so that folks fleeing the mysterious neurotoxin could arrive from four directions at "the triangle" formed by Powell and Scott Roads. (In real life the road ends abruptly on the top of a hill, just as it leaves camera range.) We see several corpses sprawled on what is clearly Scott Road.


Apparently working on location in Unionville didn't suit the actors, though. In the "Making of" feature, they were complaining about having to run through fields day after day and fending off large grasshoppers.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Broken limbs

The East Marlborough Township road crew is offering to pick up branches downed by the recent ice/wind/snow for township residents. According to the township website: "The road crew will be chipping branches that were damaged by this winter's ice storms. They can handle branches with a 10-inch diameter or less. They request that you bring the branches to the edge of the road with the "butt" end out and spread - not in a pile - for easier handling. Call the Garage to request pickup at 610-444-1375. Do leave a message if the phone is not answered."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Newlin officials

In Newlin Township for 2011, Janie Baird will remain chair of the Board of Supervisors, Bob Pearson vice-chair and Gail Abel secretary/treasurer. The third supervisor is William Kelsall. "Bob Pearson was reappointed as Road Master and he requested that he not be paid for the service," noted the "Newlin News." The township Planning Commission for 2011 comprises Jack Bailey, Bob Shippee, Lee Trainer, Barbara Forney, Bill Steuteville (replacing Gerry McCormick) and Gail Abel.


The warm weather last week was just delightful, even if the melting snow did turn the yard into a soggy rice paddy. It was just so nice to open the windows for fresh air and to go outside without putting on a jacket and hat. Best of all, on my way to refill the suet feeder on Feb. 18, I spotted these hardy snowdrops in bloom in the back yard!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In the navel

When it comes to stink bugs, I thought I had heard it all.
I was wrong.
This afternoon a friend who lives in Newlin Township told me she had found one of the foul creatures nestled IN HER BELLY BUTTON.
She deserves the Stink Bug Queen crown: that totally trumps having a stink bug perched on my toothbrush the other day.
Actually, my Zip-Loc bag method is working extremely well. I keep a bag in each room and trap the bugs. They can't escape, and the bag controls the smell. When the bag's full, I just open it up and dump them down the toilet. And as long as they are contained, it's fascinating to study their anatomy and watch them crawling around.

Grave issues

Owners of plots at the Unionville Cemetery are meeting at the Po-Mar-Lin fire hall in Unionville (right across from the cemetery) at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26. The future of the cemetery will be discussed; some gravesite owners are unhappy over rumors that the cemetery board plans to turn it over to the care of Union Hill Cemetery north of Kennett.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Giving back

Hillendale Elementary School principal Steve Dissinger reported that he received a $1,000 check from the Kennett Square Wal-Mart on Feb. 8. "Lois Rockey, Assistant Manager, said that an informal poll of store
associates and customers determined Hillendale to be a recipient of this year's grant," he wrote in an e-mail to parents.
Thanks to the Wal-Mart staff for being so community-minded!

Welcome home

A friend of mine spent the weekend in Chester County Hospital getting intravenous antibiotics for a nasty infection. She returned home on Valentine's Day -- only to be chided by her Wii Fit.
"It told me it had been 4 days since I had last been there and I should try and do a body test everyday," she reports. "I told the Balance Board that if he was so fired up to see me he could have dragged his scrawny little white butt down to the hospital himself and visited!"

Labor and management

I don't like teachers' strikes. Who does?
When I was in high school, the teachers' union went on strike, and the enmity between the teachers and the administration poisoned the rest of the year (though it was a useful real-life civics lesson for us).
And as a young reporter I had to cover a two-week-long teachers' strike in central Pennsylvania. I got some great stories out of it (yelling parents, teachers on the picket line), but it was a lot of work, and day after day my managing editor would write editorials that alienated half of my sources. I was so glad to get that 2 a.m. phone call saying that an agreement had finally been reached.
I'm not qualified to weigh in on the ongoing negotiations between the Unionville teachers' union and the school board, but I do talk to a fair cross-section of the community, and I can state that it's certainly the topic du jour around here.
The other day I had breakfast with a friend who is about as politically liberal as you can get. And to my surprise, she said that the union is being unrealistic in asking for raises when most folks are being asked to tighten their belts. And, she continued, it was a giant political mistake for the union to ask for a fact-finder's report and then to reject it.
If the union has lost her support, I think they may be in deep trouble. I'm hoping they recognize how strongly feelings are running against them in this community. Otherwise, I fear that hard-working reporters are once again going to be awaiting that strike-ending 2 a.m. phone call. Or probably text message, these days.

Customer service

I had a great time catching up with my friend Linda Kaat over brunch one recent Sunday, but she shared some unfortunate news: Charlie at the Unionville Post Office has retired! I will miss his unflappable efficiency and his pleasant smile, and I'll bet a lot of other customers will, too.
Linda, who is always one of the busiest people I know, reported that she is organizing the hospitality tent for the Cheshire Point-to-Point on March 27, only a month away, and asked me to put in a plug for this wonderful annual event:


Voting here in West Marlborough can be something of a social occasion, a chance to greet neighbors and friends, and one of the folks I always looked forward to seeing on Election Day was Donna Sharpless, who worked as an election inspector at our polling place for 32 years. Donna died of bone cancer on Feb. 13 at age 65. Condolences to her family and friends.

Watch for this Scam

My mother could barely contain her excitement over the phone.
"Your father and I were caught in an international scam this morning!" she said breathlessly.
They'd received an e-mail from Dick, an old and close family friend, saying that he was in Scotland on vacation and had been robbed and needed cash, $1,250 to be exact, wired to a Western Union office in Glasgow. Fortunately, before sending any money, my father became suspicious and asked "Dick" to call him. He didn't get a call, but he did get a mortified e-mail from the real Dick, explaining that his e-mail account had been hacked into and all of his friends had gotten the same fraudulent message.
"Isn't that awful!" exclaimed my mother, appalled at the thought of some greedy, cynical criminal out there trying to cash in on our natural desire to help a friend in trouble.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Once an editor...

The February edition of "Mid-Atlantic Horse" features some terrific photos taken at the Pennsylvania Farm Show by David Yeats-Thomas. I especially liked his photos of the draft horse sale ( David, who lives in West Marlborough, is the editor of the monthly newspaper, and those of you with long memories may recall that in the late 1980s he was the first editor of "The Kennett Paper."

Fast car

This morning I saw a white Ferrari speeding south on Route 841 in Springdell. I tried to catch up with it so I could tell you its model and year and perhaps even identify the driver, but it was already in Chatham by then. Or perhaps Washington D.C.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A cup of Joe with Joe

On the way home the other day I stopped off at Starbucks for a cup of coffee and who was there but my friend Joe Lordi, the now-retired director of the Bayard Taylor Library. We had a nice chat, and he said that his latest book, a photographic history of the small town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, is selling so well that he's considering embarking on a second printing.
He also told me a charming story about how he helped a friend of ours choose a diamond ring for his intended, and then helped him stage-manage the romantic -- and successful -- proposal at Longwood Gardens.

At the bar

Monday, Feb. 21, will be the third night of testimony before the West Marlborough Zoning Hearing Board in the case of the Springdell neighbors versus The Whip. The neighbors are arguing that the township officials were lax in allowing The Whip to expand to the point that it is having a negative impact on their lives in terms of parking, noise and litter. The hearing will start at 7 p.m. at the township building.
I've heard a lot of grumbling among residents about how much this zoning hearing process is costing the township -- and hence the taxpayers. The zoning hearing board itself employs a solicitor (Craig Kalemjian) and a court reporter, and because the township is a party to the case it also must pay for an attorney (Dwight Yoder) and any professionals who will testify on its behalf, such as the township engineer.
That's a lot of suits in the township garage at one time, and it adds up to a lot of billable hours for a township with a small budget.

Hither and yon

"Well, this is vexing," said my friend Susan into about hour #3 of our search for Week 5's mystery photo.
The Cheshire Hunt is running a contest in which they post a photo of the greater Unionville area each week and you have to identify where it is. I didn't find out about it until Week 2, which was easy (a farm on Green Valley Road). Week 3 was even easier (The Whip). Week 4, I needed some help but got the right answer (Fairview Road at Doe Run Church Road).
But week 5 was a doozy! I looked at the photo -- a coop, a snowy field, trees, cattle fencing -- and thought, I've seen that a million times. But trying to find it, as we discovered, is an entirely different matter.
We started our search on Apple Grove Road and Hilltop View Road, then took an invigorating hike through the snow- and ice-covered paths in the Laurels. Then we drove all over God's creation, gravel roads and paved, west to Runnymede and Cochranville (where we stopped for gas and coffee at the Turkey Hill), north to Strasburg Road, south to London Grove Road via Lamborntown Road.
We asked a woman on horseback near St. Malachi if she recognized the photo; she gave us a few suggestions that didn't pan out. We asked Ed at the Unionville Feed Mill; he said try Doe Run Church Road. We did, and that didn't work either, but on Doe Run Church near Route 82 we did see two longhorns in a field with a fox. (Elsewhere in our travels we spotted a bluebird, a red-tailed hawk, and a fox in a snowy field pouncing on a mouse.)
We enlisted the aid of a Springdell friend who sometimes hunts with Cheshire. She said she'd been over every coop around, and even she didn't recognize it.
At about 4:30 p.m. -- we'd been at it since lunchtime -- we gave up. Susan's parting words were, "Try Tapeworm Road on your way home."
No luck.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

As I remember him

If there's a Victorian mansion somewhere in the afterlife, it now has a new caretaker. Ted Marvin spent his life looking after Dunleigh Castle, his rambling home across Street Road from New Bolton Center, and he died there on Feb. 5. In his healthier years Ted was a generous host, an artist, a musician and a very good tennis player. He was a talented and devoted gardener -- perhaps you noticed the towering castor-bean plants by the gateposts flanking the driveway -- and several unusual specimens in my own garden came from Dunleigh. One can only wonder what will happen to the property without Ted there to repair the roof, haul the coal, and mow the lawn. Condolences to his friends and family.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


On my list of restaurants to try is Luigi & Giovanni's in Downingtown. Take a look at their menu online (; doesn't the pasta sound delectable? I'm not often in that part of the county, but it might well be worth a special trip.

I had never heard of the place until friends told me about it last week, and even the website describes it as "a secret dining spot." My friends had the Fior di Latte Pomodoro Alla Romana (fresh mozzarella, tomato, braseola, and extra-virgin olive oil on a bed of arugula) and the Pappardelle Luigi & Giovanni (Gulf shrimp, sea scallops, sauteed with fresh tomato tossed in a rich alfredo sauce). I think I'd try the Canneloni Rigati con Salsicce (rigatoni pasta filled with ground veal, spinach, & mozzarella topped with a hearty tomato cream sauce).

The "ristorante" is at 259 Church Street, Downingtown; they also run a catering operation in Downingtown and a specialty market in Newtown Square.

Breakfast spot

I had an excellent breakfast this morning at the Country Butcher's cafe. I had three wonderful pancakes, my breakfast companion had a mushroom and cheese omelet (the "Kennett"), and there were four kinds of coffee to choose from (I had the delicious hazelnut). I've heard good things about the oatmeal they serve, too, and the crepes and Belgian waffles sound terrific.
My friend and I were the only people there at 8 a.m., but lots more folks arrived soon afterward. I overheard a couple of well-dressed people doing business, one gentleman sat contentedly by himself reading, and a table of senior citizens looked like they had just come from the Y.
The Country Butcher is in a little shopping center at the southeast corner of Cypress and Walnut Streets, on the east side of Kennett Square.

We want information

I know that a lot of people refuse to have anything to do with Facebook. My mother, who is hands down the most curious person in the world, claims she just doesn't have time for it -- although, of course, she insists that I promptly forward any photos or snippets of news that her grandchildren post.
But this winter Facebook has been a huge boon to me and a lot of other locals, thanks to people who post frequent updates about weather and road conditions from their various mobile devices. For instance, my friend Kelly just this minute (6 p.m. Feb. 8) posted that the power's out in Jennersville. Another friend of mine is a township road crew member and provides predawn descriptions on his Facebook page about what roads are icy and where he'll be plowing next.
One snowy morning a farm owner on Route 926 posted that her employees had no trouble getting to work, so I decided it was safe to head out to Perkins. Another morning, a friend posted that his employer, Jackson ImmunoResearch in West Grove, was having a delayed opening, so I thought I'd probably stay put at home. Similarly, store owners, the library, and the Y have all been posting their schedule changes.
Facebook's like having an ultra-local weather report. When storms head in from the west, folks in Oxford and Parkesburg are the first to report signs of snow or power outages. And it's bizarre how different the weather can be in Unionville versus Exton, Swarthmore or Germantown. We can be getting freezing rain and they'll be getting nothing -- or vice versa.
Another reason to love the Internet.

A new truck

The Po-Mar-Lin Fire Company in Unionville bought a new truck from the Longwood Fire Co.
Station 36's website gives this photo and account: "On Saturday [Feb. 5] members spent the day removing decals and washing and waxing our new truck. After a few minor repairs the new truck is ready to serve the community. It will mainly be used to pull the trailer with Utility 36 and also carry manpower to any other type of incidents. It will be put to good use. Special thanks to Longwood Fire Co. for offering us this vehicle and working with us on purchasing it. We greatly appreciate it."

Civil War Road Show

A traveling exhibit called he Civil War Road Show will be coming to Chester County this summer.
"Although no battles were waged on our soil, Chester County had a tremendous network of Underground Railroad stations and was home to many pre-war abolitionists," according to the Chester County Parks & Recreation Department's website. "During the War, the county provided men for soldiers, charitable and medical relief via women’s organizations, and materials through the iron-making industry. Our railroad system, iron and steel industry, and agricultural wealth were vital to the war effort. After the war ended, the county’s contributions continued by operating the largest Veteran Orphanage, as well as other organizations such as the School Savings Bank."
The exhibit will be bivouaced at Penn State's Great Valley campus from July 28 through Aug. 1 (end of July: barring more snow days, Unionville students will probably be finished the 2010-11 school year by then). The website is: (And, unless they've changed it, you'll recognize the photo at the top of that website: it's the shopping center at Willowdale!)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is an excellent sentiment for year-round use, and it comes courtesy of John, who had a lot of love but not enough time.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sayonara, stink bugs!

Only someone who has suffered the stench and annoyance of these pests for the past several months will appreciate my ecstatic delight at discovering what I believe to be the perfect disposal method: a simple Zip-Loc bag. Drop them in, seal the top, and the bugs are trapped and their nauseating, lingering odor is contained. No squishing or flushing necessary, and no need to waste tissues, toilet paper or paper towels for collection purposes. I didn't get sprayed once while collecting this haul.
This photo represents half-a-day's worth of captured stink bugs -- and many of my friends around here have a much, much worse problem than I do. In them, I'm sure this photo will engender only a mirthless laugh.
I know some sensitive folks will bemoan this as emblematic of Americans' desire to dominate and destroy anything that inconveniences them. To them I say: I'd be glad to deliver the full bag to your house. YOU can coexist with them all you want.

Friday, February 4, 2011

West Marlborough business

It was a quick West Marlborough supervisors' meeting on Thursday, Feb. 3 (postponed from Feb. 1 because of icing).
  • Elizabeth Hershey-Ross was appointed to fill Elinor Thomforde's term on the township planning commission.
  • Supervisor Bill Wylie quipped that solar panels seem to be outnumbering run-in sheds in terms of building permit requests.
  • Supervisor Hugh Lofting noted that the township road crew has gone through a huge amount of salt already this winter. He also congratulated the crew for their hard work.
  • Richard Hayne applied for a permit to demolish a small house on his Springdell estate (the former Thouron and Tony Young properties); he plans to tear it down almost to the ground and will create a guest house on the same footprint, said Mr. Lofting. No word yet on when he plans to raze the Young mansion, which should be quite a spectacle.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Tony Young's sentencing has been scheduled for 2 p.m. March 23 in Philadelphia before the Hon. Judge Juan Sanchez. Keep your fingers crossed; it's been postponed twice before. Will this be Tony's day of reckoning at long last?

Charged up

I wasn't looking forward to receiving my January electric bill: after all, it was the first month that the longstanding price caps had been lifted, and I had heard dreadful stories about friends with skyrocketing bills ($400 for a small twin house in Kennett?). Well, the bill arrived, and yes, it's a few dollars higher than normal -- but it was also really cold, I did a lot of baking, and I had my computer running constantly. So I doubt I'll be switching carriers.

In the field

I received the following account from a hunter friend about his experiences on the final day of deer-hunting season near Cochranville:
"The last day was difficult and unproductive. Four of our group hunted for about 4 hours and saw few deer, never close enough or safe to shoot at. The snow made it a real workout and the deer were apparently off into the small thick refuges they find in such conditions. Very few shots were heard during the day and it appeared that few other hunters were as crazy as our group. Walking a couple miles in the snow, often uphill, while carrying a good 20-25 lbs. was a real workout.
This year the Game Commission, in its wisdom, eliminated the last two weeks of December antlerless (doe) hunting. Our group still kept its numbers up and helped keep the population under control. Many of the deer are given to others, neighbors and acquaintances who appreciate the healthy benefits of grain-fed venison. It was my first chance to get out since late December."

Three signs that spring is approaching

1. Chiropractor Chad Laurence is putting together a softball team and is looking for "competitive co-ed players" age 18 through 60. Games will be played weekday evenings from late April through August. Visit
2. Local tennis czar Tony DeFelice is looking for male and female adult players for his tennis teams. Visit Scroll down to 2011 Delaware United States Tennis Association.

3. The 66th running of Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds Point-to-Point is set for Sunday, March 27, at Plantation Field in Unionville.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ouch Times Two

Poor Babette Jenny! In early January this kind and mellow countrywoman took a tumble off the ladder to her hay loft and landed, on her feet, on the concrete floor. She broke both ankles and her heels are shattered, so she's laid up in casts for a few months. She told me that she's looking for a helper to do barn work at her Unionville farm on Fridays and said she'd be happy "to either pay or do reduced horse board" in return.
Holding her in the light and sending our best "heeling" thoughts for a speedy recovery.

Parking grace

I spotted this new sign in the parking lot of the Jennersville Y and knew there had to be a story. Well, it seems that at the yearly fund-raising dinner a benefactor "purchased" the rights to a prime parking spot, but instead of reserving it for herself, she had this sign installed.

A New Mule!

West Fallowfield has a new resident: the Dillon family is welcoming their new mule, Gidget (right), to their Cochranville farm. She arrived by trailer all the way from Idaho and joins her barn-mates, Ruby (left) and Blaze (who couldn't be coaxed into the photo). The Dillons ride the mules and also take them along on their camping trips.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Slant Play

After watching about the fifth replay of a Packers touchdown, my brother, a Steelers fan, had a brilliant idea: there should be two different broadcasts for each game, one geared to fans of each team. The announcers would be blatantly partisan in their commentary, praising one team's performance, tactics, hairstyles, tattoos and off-season conduct while criticizing those of the other. The referee's calls would be subject to scathing remarks -- if the penalty went against the favored team, that is. And the Steelers broadcast would show only Steelers highlights and Packers miscues and bad behavior.
So get to work, Fox Sports! With the current dispute between the NFL owners and players, you may have a very long time to get this off the ground before the next game is played.

Going, going...

APRIL 24 UPDATE: It's under contract, so no auction.
After it languished on the real-estate market for months, Charlotte du Pont Donaldson D'Arcy decided to sell Vezelay, her 52-acre Newlin Township estate, at auction on May 10. The property on Hilltop View Road was originally listed for almost $7 million, but the price has dropped to $4,480,000.
"Our clients are interested in pursuing other opportunities and simply want to move on," said Karen Nader, Ms. Donaldson D'Arcy's real estate agent.
Concierge Auctions out of New York will handle the sale. You can see photos of the property at I've never been there, but I can vouch for the very high quality of the neighbors.
(Thanks to my eagle-eyed buddy Susan for spotting this interesting item on, of all places, the Fox News website from Atlanta!)