Thursday, March 31, 2011

Non-fit

Dunkin' Donuts sent me a coupon for a free iced coffee each Monday in April. No strings attached, no purchase required.
I love iced coffee, but I gave the coupon away. I simply couldn't go into a DD and say, "Give me my free iced coffee, please." I couldn't bring myself to demand something for nothing; it would feel all wrong. Which means to get the "free" coffee, I'd need to order a muffin or a doughnut as well.
Hmmm ... could that have been the whole point of the marketing strategy?
I should add that the coupon will be well used: I gave it to a friend who considers DD's "Boston Kreme Donut" to be the perfect food.

Local band

Philadelphia-based rock band Dr. Dog, which has a giant local fanbase, got a plug from an unexpected source: celebrity chef and restaurant owner Tom Colicchio. In a profile in April's "Wall Street Journal Magazine," the head judge of the TV show "Top Chef" said that in addition to old country music, he's also been listening to Dr. Dog recently.
Current band members are Toby Leaman (bass), Scott McMicken (lead guitar), Frank McElroy (rhythm guitar), Zach Miller (keyboard), and Eric Slick (drums).
By the way, as part of its spring tour, Dr. Dog will perform at the Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem on May 6.

Shoe time!

On page 11 of the April edition of "The Horse of Delaware Valley," there's a 10-percent-off coupon for the Dansko Company Store, valid through May 30. Store hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store is on Old Baltimore Pike in Jennersville. So be sure to save your copy after you've finished poring through for news and photos of yourself and friends!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Skeleton stuff

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District is going through some tough times: labor unrest, difficult decisions about outsourcing bussing and food service, drastic funding cuts. But on the front lines of teaching and learning, amazing things are happening every day.
During dinner the other night, an elementary-school member of my family told me that in health class, he was learning all about bones.
I started quizzing him about the common and Latin names of bones. What's the thigh bone? How did the "funny bone" get its name? What's a greenstick fracture?
Try as I might, I could not stump this kid. He knew them all: femur, humerus, vertebrae, clavicle, cranium. He even knew how to spell them! Best of all, he corrected me when I mixed up mandible and maxilla.
He gets an A+ in my book -- and so do his teachers.

"Delaware, we like your style"

The new Nordstrom's department store opens at the Christiana Mall on Friday, April 8, and as part of the kick-off splash I received in the mail a store catalog that looked a lot like a high-fashion magazine: glossy paper, beautiful photography, clean graphics, nice-smelling perfume inserts.
In addition to the fancy "designer" items, there were some quite nice and wearable clothes and some actually reasonable shoes (as you may have guessed, Tilda is not a fashion plate). And I was pleased to see healthy-looking, smiling models, and not just the skeletal waifs that you see in some "edgy" magazines.
Nordstrom's is known for its excellent customer service, which is more and more important to me these days. And this is very nice: proceeds from its "unabashed fashion fete" opening party went to the Delaware Art Museum, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, and the Wilmington chapter of The Links.

Camp Cadet

May 15 is the deadline for applications to Camp Cadet of Chester County, a free overnight program for county boys and girls ages 11 to 13 that's run by our Pennsylvania State Police. It runs from Aug. 14 through 20.
According to the website (http://www.cccampcadet.org/):
“Camp Cadet was created by the Pennsylvania State Police in 1970, as a way to promote good relations between police and young people. Our program provides kids with an understanding of law enforcement activities, as well as comfort with the professionals who serve their communities. While living in an atmosphere similar to the State Police Academy, emphasis is placed on improving self-discipline, confidence and self-esteem. During this action-packed week, “Cadets” will learn to make good decisions and to respect others. All counselors are Troopers or other specially selected law enforcement professionals working within Chester County."
The website emphasizes that it's NOT a boot camp.

Oh, dear.

Apparently the Main Line will be the next community featured as part of the "Real Housewives" franchise. Here's the press release for the casting call:


"Personify Productions is currently casting housewives that live on the Main Line (Gladwyne, Bryn Mawr, Wayne, Devon etc.) for a potential Television Pilot. Will consider Philadelphia residents if personality is dynamite and you run in the same social circles as the Main Line.

We are seeking women who are extremely charismatic, outgoing, candid and self-confident with strong fashion sense and style. Married, Divorced Re-Married and Single women are all invited to apply. All family types will be considered but most importantly we are looking for dynamic Main Line women with defined opinions and views and who are plugged in to the storied social scene of the legendary Main Line. Personality is paramount as we are looking for lively and energetic women who are "Housewives" in the present-day sense, leading busy lives with a strong work ethic but still enjoying the "good life."

Blue Bloods, Nouveau Riche and Career women are invited to apply. Groups of women who are already friends in the same social circle are also encouraged to apply."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Off to the races

It was a world-class day at the 66th running of Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds Point-to-Point on March 27. We had a perfect parking spot, right near the finish line, and tons of friends stopped by for a glass of Champagne and cookies. The races were very exciting and nobody got hurt, horse or human. The food (from Hood's and the Whip) was delicious; we especially liked the lamb stew. And unlike what was predicted earlier in the week, we didn't get snow showers: the weather was beautifully sunny all afternoon and not too cold until the very end of the day.
Thanks so much to all of the organizers for a terrific day. The only suggestion I heard was that it would set a great example for all the young riders if the outriders (those who patrol the course) were required to wear safety helmets; some of them were wearing the traditional bowler hats.

Star Wars party

A friend in East Marlborough recently hosted a "Star Wars"-themed party that was very cleverly done.
"We all had a great time watching the movies and playing the trivia game, and Star Wars Clone Wars on the Wii," she reports.

The food included Ewok and Princess Leia cupcakes and Han Solo embedded in carbonite Jello (see photos), Darth Maul dip, Darkside Salsa, Wookie Cookies, Yoda Soda and Batha Milk. All the recipes came from "Star Wars Cookbooks," volumes 1 and 2, which the hostess borrowed from the Bayard Taylor Library.

Generations

It was a great week here -- lots of fun with friends, a challenging work project -- but the highlight was getting to cuddle and play with the two brand-new members of our family, a little boy and his minute-younger sister, fraternal twins. They had a bit of a rocky start, but thanks to wonderful medical and nursing care at Lankenau and Paoli hospitals, they are healthy and thriving. It's heart-warming to watch the new parents caring for the two of them -- talk about a full-time job! -- with such skill and love. And seeing my own parents hold their great-grandchildren? Priceless.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sold!

Pook & Pook's big auction of J. William Warehime's collection brought in just over $600,000, almost double the high estimate. All 395 lots of furniture, artwork, jewelry, urns, lamps, sconces, mirrors, silver, candelabra, and so forth sold.
"Hundreds of bidders from all over the world bid online, in house and over the phone," announced the Downingtown auction house after the March 26 sale.
I was amused reading the condition report of a Chinese stand ("wobbly") and an elephant figurine ("one ear reattached, small repair at tail").
Warehime was the son of Harry and Airie Warehime, founders of the Hanover Foods Corporation.

Good Samaritans

A mini-drama unfolded at the Kennett Y on Saturday. It seems that a woman accidentally left her bag at the New York Bagel shop in West Goshen. A bagel-shop employee, who noticed the left-behind bag when the cell phone inside kept ringing, spotted a YMCA card on it and phoned the Kennett Y, hoping that they could use the information to track down the owner. Sure enough, a Y employee looked up the member, phoned and left a message telling her where her bag was. 
I'll bet that was one very relieved person.

The end is near

There's a sign on Route 82 at the Route 1 bypass predicting that May 21, 2011, is going to be Judgment Day. A religious group has pinpointed this day for "The Rapture" and believes that God will destroy this world 5 months later, on Oct. 21. "These dates are 100% accurate and beyond dispute," says its website.
Clearly somebody was motivated enough to have these signs printed up and to go out and post them. How is he or she going to feel, I wondered, if May 21 passes by without incident and the sun comes up just as usual on Oct. 22?
"When Prophecy Fails," a classic 1956 book by social psychologists Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter, addressed this very issue. They studied a UFO cult that believed the world was going to end in a flood on Dec. 21, 1954, but because they were such fervent believers they alone were going to be rescued on a flying saucer. The book gives an account of the key evening:
  • Dec. 20: The group expects a visitor from outer space to call upon them at midnight and to escort them to a waiting spacecraft. As instructed, the group goes to great lengths to remove all metallic items from their persons. As midnight approaches, zippers, bra straps, and other objects are discarded. The group waits.
  • 12:05 A.M., December 21. No visitor. Someone in the group notices that another clock in the room shows 11:55. The group agrees that it is not yet midnight.
  • 12:10 A.M. The second clock strikes midnight. Still no visitor. The group sits in stunned silence. The cataclysm itself is no more than seven hours away.
  • 4:00 A.M. The group has been sitting in stunned silence. A few attempts at finding explanations have failed.
  • 4:45 A.M. Another message by automatic writing: "The cataclysm has been called off."
To try to reconcile their cognitive dissonance between what had happened and what they had believed, the members decided that aliens actually were visiting them, only in human form. They also believed that by believing so strongly and preparing so diligently for the planet's doom, "they had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pizza Connection

Order a large pizza from Fox's Pizza Den this Sunday, April 3, and the owners will donate $5 to the Unionville Community Fair. The pizzeria (http://www.foxspizzakennettsquare.com/) is in the New Garden Shopping Center, near Big Lots. Be sure to mention the Fair when you order! The special deal is running the first Sunday of each month through September.

West Marlborough meeting

In case you'd like to attend a West Marlborough Township supervisors' meeting, the next one is Tuesday, April 5, at the township building in Doe Run. Things usually get started around 7 p.m. It's a good way to see your neighbors, hear some news and keep abreast of what's going on.

Above and beyond

I stopped by Wal-Mart the other day to pick up a few things and I am delighted to report the good service that I got.
First, a housewares clerk asked if she could help me, and then spent a few minutes searching for picnic-type platters. She seemed genuinely disappointed when she couldn't find any. "I guess they didn't send me any this year," she said, perplexed. Two seconds later I spotted them at the end of the aisle, and her face immediately cleared.
Then I was waiting in line at checkout, with my a-dollar-apiece platters, and a guy at the watch counter called me over and offered to ring up my items so I could be on my way.
Nice!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Downtown Kennett

1. Challie's Famous Grille on East State Street closed down last week.
"Challie has retired (briefly)," the owner said on Facebook. "We would like to thank each and everyone of you for everything over the past 5 years!"
The property used to be a grocery store, and when Strato Moriello was renovating it as the Pizza Gallery back in the late 1990s he took us on a tour and showed us the stacks of old wooden soda crates still sitting in the old dirt-floored basement.
2. One block east, the sign at the old Kennett Cafe still says that Jack McFadden's new restaurant will open in "early spring," but I'd say that's wishful thinking. According to Historic Kennett Square's January newsletter, "Jack McFadden has begun to earnestly work on his property. He is hoping to have renovations completed by June but admits that it may take a bit longer."
Cinder blocks, stones and other construction materials are piled in the alley next door, along with many bags of potting soil, and it looks as if there's going to be a sunken patio out back--which would be very cool.
3. On South Broad Street, a "for lease" sign has gone up at the former Cafe Lindo, which shut down a few weeks ago. One of the Lindo regulars hasn't gone far, though: I spotted him, along with his dog, having coffee at Talula's Table, just around the corner.

Alarming

A house burglary in West Marlborough on March 22 has sent shudders through our community. The victim, understandably, didn't want her name or address published, but here's the account she wrote for me:
"I was away from my home from noon till 9:30 pm Tues. afternoon. My front door was locked, the back door was not. Had I locked the back door the door window could easily have been broken and the door opened. Had I applied the dead bolt the process would have been more difficult and possibly deterred the thieves.
"I believe there must have been more than one thief or they would not have been so bold as to go up the narrow stairs to the second floor, or down the very narrow and awkward stairs to the cellar.
"Electronics were taken: 2 external hard drives, one cell phone, one pair of binoculars, one expensive pro-level digital camera, one pro lens, the camera case with batteries, filters, memory cards etc. Guess my old glass tube TV was not worth taking and thank God my desktop PC was left behind. One of the external hard drives was totally full of four years of photo work, most of which I have also saved on DVD's, but some of the recent work I had not saved elsewhere.
"All of my filing cabinets had been opened. I was unable to discern if any documents were removed. They left the back door open, the glass door was shut, the light was on in the upstairs back room.
"The police were helpful; they reprimanded me for staying in the house waiting for their arrival. I did wait two hours for them to arrive. A forensics detective visited the following morning and was able to retrieve fingerprints that might or might not be useful.
"That's all I know right now. I phoned a few pawn shops and was informed that they all send in reports to the police of merchandise brought in on a daily basis."
This hits really close to home, and it's scary stuff. The victim asked me to say that she's offering a reward for the return of her stolen property.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just Peachy!

Congratulations to my pal Susan Hoffman of Over the Top Farm in Newlin for winning a well-deserved first prize in the "Dessert and Sweets" category of the Hunt Breakfast recipe contest sponsored by "Foxhunting Life"! Susan's winner was "Andrews Bridge Peachy Bread Pudding," and she was kind enough to share it with all of us.

Ingredients:


2 large Challah bread loaves, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 large ripe yellow or white peaches, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup sugar, plus a few Tablespoons for topping
½ cup peach schnapps
8 large eggs, well beaten
4 cups milk
1 cup grade A maple syrup
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) cold salted butter, cut into pieces
Cooking spray or a few Tablespoons melted butter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread bread pieces on baking sheet and toast for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly browned.
2. Whisk all liquid ingredients together (schnapps, eggs, milk and maple syrup.)
3. Add sugar to liquid mixture and stir well.
4. In a large bowl, combine toasted bread pieces, liquid mixture and peaches. Fold gently until bread pieces are evenly coated with liquid and the peaches are well distributed. Let sit about 5 minutes for liquid to soak into bread.
5. Coat bottom and sides of a large baking dish with cooking spray or butter.
6. Turn bread mixture into the dish and gently spread evenly. Dot with cold butter pieces and dust with sugar.
7. Bake for about an hour or until pudding is set and top is golden brown.
8. Note: Depending on size of the bread loaves, you may need to add or cut back on liquid amounts. More maple syrup and/or schnapps can be added if mixture looks too dry.

Being green


I checked out one of my favorite way-off-the-beaten-track places on Monday and found both skunk cabbage and watercress already sprouting. Magical!
By the way, Claire Murray of Inverbrook Farm here in West Marlborough writes a wonderful, thoughtful blog about farming, nature and country life at http://inverbrook.blogspot.com/. She spotted skunk cabbage and heard peepers long before I did this spring.

Nice people

How nice to see that lovely photo of Peggy Newton on page 2 of last week's "Kennett Paper"! Each year at the Kennett YMCA's Good Kids fundraising dinner, Peggy presents an award in honor of her late husband, E. Marshall Newton III, which "recognizes a volunteer who exemplifies the YMCA values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility." What an appropriate way to remember Marshall, a good man who gave so much back to the community. And Peggy is a classy, gracious woman and a delightful human being.

On the House

Probably like many of you, I received a postcard from our U.S. Congressman (and Unionville resident) Joe Pitts the other day: "If you would like to hear from me regularly, please visit www.house.gov/pitts and sign up for my weekly e-newsletter."
I did so.
Little-known fact: Joe was my ninth-grade science teacher.

After all is said and done

Yes, he has nasty habits (or at least he did), and he probably does take tea at 3, but I've been totally riveted to Keith Richards' autobiography "Life," which I borrowed in CD form from the Bayard Taylor Library. The Rolling Stones guitarist tells about his boyhood in post-war England, the fledgling days of the band and their many years of international success and wild excess. It's funny, endearing and profound, revolting and maddening, but always fascinating. The best parts are the ones that Keith himself narrates with that trademark raspy voice and throaty chuckle. But please don't listen if you mind lots of really bad language or really stupid behavior.

The Long Way Home

For some Pennsbury Township residents, getting out and about is back to normal. A Brintons Bridge Road bridge crossing a tiny tributary to the Brandywine reopened last week after being shut down for reconstruction for 18-1/2 weeks, forcing motorists to take lengthy detours.
As one of those affected, my mother has been tracking the bridge's progress closely. She said she came home to find that the detour signs blocking the road had been pushed out of the way. She'd been told that the final blacktop coat wouldn't be applied until warmer weather, but hoping against hope, she drove down to the bridge site and found, to her great delight, that it was completed.

With an extra shot

As a frequent Starbucks consumer (in the past few weeks I've been to the Longwood, Jennersville, downtown West Chester, and Lionville branches) I was interested to read that Howard Schultz, the CEO, received his largest-ever bonus in 2010: $3.5 million, up from a paltry $1 million the previous year.
Based on a story in the March 18 "Wall Street Journal," it was well deserved: "Starbucks recently turned around sales after the toughest stretch in its 40 years. The company's profit more than doubled to record levels...Starbucks investors also got richer, with gains in the stock plus dividends up 24.9% last year."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Amazing service

The food at Floga Bistro is so delicious, and the portions are so hearty, that my mother and I asked for doggie bags the other night. The waitress brought back them back with an apology for taking so long. It seemed the busboy had accidentally dumped my mother's leftovers into the trash -- so the cook prepared an entirely new portion of chicken parmigiana for her just to take home!

Social media

I'd love it if you'd "friend" me on Facebook. Just do a search for Tilda Tally-ho. Your story ideas and local news tips are always welcome. And thanks so much for all the kind messages and feedback! I hope you enjoy reading my column as much as I do writing it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Upland Bar

A West Marlborough neighbor, having read last week's story about the vacant Red Rose Inn in Jennersville, told me that the inn's bar is the very same one that was in the 19th-century Upland Hotel at Newark and Upland Roads (now a private home). Could the bar be worth salvaging?

Flowers

We are so lucky to have Longwood Gardens so close. It's a world-class attraction -- and we can be there in 15 minutes.
On Friday, March 18, that gloriously warm, sunny day, a friend and I met there for lunch (love their chili!) and a stroll. Specifically, I wanted to see the blue poppies, which are really unusual, and with the help of a volunteer information-giver, we found them in the "estate fruit house" area in the conservatory. As you can see, they were beautiful.
As I have during every visit to Longwood from childhood on up, I insisted on stopping by the carnivorous plant area. I wonder if the pitcher plants like stink bugs?
Outside we found ourselves walking along a path bordered by sweet-box, the smell of which was intoxicating. Then again, even the freshly dug-up lawn by the bell tower smelled marvelous on such a spring-like day. And the fields by the Eye of Water (not operating yet) were spectacular with seas of light-purple crocus.
An FYI in case you haven't been to Longwood recently: there's a new rule that you have to show ID at the admission gate along with your season pass. As per the website:
"To help us maintain and protect our Garden Pass promise to you, we kindly request that you present proof of identification along with your Garden Pass membership card when visiting the Gardens. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you, but our intention is to honor you, our most loyal friends, who generously participate in our Garden Pass program."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Southbound

**UPDATE: Jessie wrote to me on March 28 and said that her plans have changed, and she will be staying in town and on council.**

Kennett Borough Council member and local Democratic Party activist Jessie Cocks and her husband, Patrick Seyler, have put their house on the market and are moving south.

Duels of evidence

The Whip hearings continue to drag on ever so slowly, with lots of objections from attorneys, numbered exhibits and lawyerly talk about vested rights and estoppal and offers of proof.
(You'll recall that a group of Springdell residents believe that the Whip tavern and restaurant is in violation of various township regulations and have filed an appeal with the township's Zoning Hearing Board.)
The only issue that the zoning board is still considering is whether the Whip should be using the house just to the west of it in Springdell as an office.
The Whip's attorney (Neil Land) argues that the house was used as an office by the owner of the Country Deli, the business that preceded the Whip, so it's OK for the Whip to do so.
But the residents' attorneys (Kristin Camp and Michael Gill) argue that the house was being used as an rental house when the Whip's owners bought it, so it's not OK for the Whip to use it as an office.
To relieve all this dull testimony, who can blame us loyal attendees if we relish the occasional squabbles between the lawyers or interesting nugget of gossip?
To wit:
  • According to the Whip's operating partner, K.C. Kulp, local scoundrel Tony Young was almost a partner in the Whip but pulled out the week before they closed on the property, claiming that his financial advisor had urged him not to invest in an alcohol-related business.
  • When asked about the original plans for the house next to the Whip, K.C. said that Tony was going to use it to house his polo grooms, but when he backed out, the apartment idea became a non-starter.
  • K.C. also said the township officer was fully aware of the extensive renovations they were doing to the house and told them that no township permits were needed because they were not expanding the house's footprint and because it had previously been used as an office.
The hearing continues on May 10 at 7 p.m. Mr. Land is expected to call as a witness Harold Young, who owned the Country Deli.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Horse health

Two things I learned Tuesday night: (1) It's a really good idea to keep your horses' vaccinations up to date and (2) the second cutting of hay has more nutritional value than the first.
A friend asked me if I wanted to go to a lecture on neurologic diseases in horses sponsored by Unionville Equine Associates. When she added that dinner was involved and that she would drive, I jumped at the chance.
It was actually a really interesting evening (though not as entertaining as a previous fully illustrated presentation on worms, I'm told).
First we saw a presentation on Lameness Locator, an ingenious new diagnostic tool developed by Equinosis.
Then veterinarian Rob Keene discussed West Nile Virus, Eastern and Western encephalitis, rabies, influenza, equine herpes virus, and equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). EPM is caused by a protozoan called Sarcocystis neurona, which Dr. Keene said "loves the central nervous system of the horse." The opossum is a key source.
And finally Dave from Oxford Feed & Lumber spoke about proper nutrition for horses (he's the one who ventured that opinion on hay).
Thanks to John W. Lee, Jr., DVM, Unionville Equine's founder, for inviting us to such a useful evening -- and for the Capriotti's subs and nifty tote bags.

Legally Blonde

The London stage production of "Legally Blonde: The Musical" hit it big at the Laurence Olivier Awards (the British equivalent of our Tony Awards) on March 13. It won Best New Musical, Sheridan Smith won Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Elle Woods, and Jill Halfpenny won Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical as Paulette.
How is this West End news relevant to Unionville? Because one of the show's producers is Frank ("Buddy") Martin, who lives near Chatham! Mr. Martin, who is also producing artistic director of Act II Playhouse in Ambler, has produced "The Story of My Life," "9 to 5," "Burn the Floor" and "Time Stands Still" on Broadway and "La BĂȘte" as well as "Legally Blonde" in London.
Congratulations!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Discounts

It's a minor nuisance keeping track of those "loyal customer" programs, and you just know the stores are amassing all kinds of data about the products you use, but there's also a real upside: saving money.
For instance, I go through a lot of printer ink. By returning my "empties" to Staples and using my customer card, the other day I paid only $2.99 plus tax for a black-ink cartridge that normally sells for $14.99.
And by doing all my shopping at Giant, I get a discount at their gas station. I waited til my tank was almost empty -- 12 miles left, according to the gauge! -- and then used all of my discount points to fill it up, saving 30 cents a gallon. Not bad at all!

Exile on East Market Street

So, like, it's 4:30, and there I am, in the upstairs lounge at a hip nightclub at a CD launch party...
OK, OK. It was 4:30 in the afternoon, and the crowd at The Note in West Chester was mostly high-school kids and their camera-toting parents. I was there with my friends Denise and Jack Mizrahi listening to Windoview, the band their son Jordan plays in.
Windoview, which just released its second CD, "Pine Island," is three Unionville High School juniors: Jordan (who plays lead guitar), Andy Joseph (vocals, percussion and ukelele) and Hunter Conover (rhythm guitar and harmonica). I've seen them play several times in the past few years, and it's great to see them developing, writing new material and trying out new instruments. They recorded the new CD at TribeSounds Records.
Denise always thanks me fulsomely for coming out to see them, but it is a real pleasure to watch such talented, confident and extraordinarily poised young musicians.
Plus, The Note is a very cool venue and made me feel extremely adventurous. I can't remember the last time I was in a place where you get your hand stamped when you pay admission, or where there are burly, tattooed bouncers hanging around.
You can see Windoview live at the "Battle of the Bands" at Unionville High School from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 1. Admission is $5.

Hi, Tech!

A former boss of mine reported the following on Facebook: "Ordered an Ipad2 with 4G. Whoa! Then I get a call from Amex worried that some dude stole my card to get an Ipad. So I asked her: Thanks for thinking fraud, but ain't I hip enuf to buy an Ipad? She laughed. I didn't."
Further mortification was on the way for Jim: several friends promptly commented on his post, informing him that the new iPad is actually only 3G.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In the Sunday papers

I was a bit late making my coffee and changing my clocks on Sunday morning because I was so engrossed in two very interesting stories in the Sunday papers.
Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Kathy Brady Shea did a lengthy story on Richard Hayne's projects in Springdell. She put a lot of work into it and spoke to several local residents, came to several township meetings, sorted through a lot of documents and interviewed all three township supervisors -- but alas, she didn't get to talk to Mr. Hayne himself.
And Mike Rellahan of the Daily Local News interviewed West Marlborough supervisor Bill Wylie about the fact that West Marlborough actually showed a decreased population in the latest census (2000 -- 859; 2010 -- 814).
From Mike's story:
"I think the quality of life here and its rural aspect is very appealing to everybody [who lives here]," [Mr. Wylie] said, noting that the township had designed its zoning laws in part to encourage agricultural preservation and discourage residential or business development. "It has a small town feeling, everybody knows everybody else. We enjoy that."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Save the date!

Things always get so busy in June with graduations and weddings that you might want to put this on your calendar Right Now: Saturday, June 4, is this year's Home & Garden Day, which as always benefits children's and literacy programs at the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library.
"The focus will be the southeastern corner of Chester County and a sliver of Delaware," reports Stefanie Jackson, who is a member of the Library's Special Events Committee, which always does such a splendid job organizing this marvelous tour.
More details will be available soon -- in fact, Stefanie is busy preparing the tour program -- but I wanted to let you know the date as soon as I could.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Border line

The other morning some friends were discussing what they've dubbed "the Great Wall of Kennett," and I just had to drive by on the way home and see it for myself. It's a VERY long (and doubtless VERY expensive) stone wall that somebody's building along the east side of Mill Road, across from Dr. Kenneth Barnsley's Kennett Square Veterinary Hospital. The photo shows only a small portion of it, sitting at the crest of the steep roadbank.
Apparently the construction work has been going on for months, and in all weather. It ends at the farm's barn, where you can see the stone pieces being affixed to the wall.

Anticipating spring

The next time you are on Route 926 near New Bolton, check out the deep-green grass-like stems sprouting along the sides of the road. It's a wonderful perennial called Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), and it spreads like crazy. In the next couple of weeks each plant will be sending up its flower stalk, and there will be a beautiful sea of white flowers.
And don't miss the striking yellow-brown color of willow and forsythia branches, just getting ready to sprout. The color is so distinctive against the still-brown late-winter fields.
I haven't heard the pond peepers quite yet, even though I was outside at dusk today with my head cocked toward the marsh, listening really hard, like the Grinch on Christmas morning.

Flood alert

What a storm! The heavy rain and howling winds that swept through our area last Thursday sent the Brandywine over its banks at Pocopson, Chadds Ford and Northbrook, closing Unionville schools on Friday. (My ear-to-the-ground sister-in-law knew about the school closing even before it hit cyberspace -- well done!)
Here in West Marlborough, Doe Run flooded across Route 82, detouring motorists up Wilson Road, where a big tree had toppled across the road. The spillway at Rokeby Mill held, though water was still pouring over the waterfall well into Friday afternoon. The two ponds at the Stone Barn on Upland Road merged for a while. Downed branches littered Routes 82 and 926, and there were stubborn power outages throughout our community.
One friend who lives in Marshalton had to cross the Brandywine to join me and a few others at a breakfast meeting at the Country Butcher's Cafe in Kennett on Friday morning. Northbrook was flooded ("absolute whitecaps," she said), but she was able to get across at Embreeville.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Constituent service

As something of a local-government junkie (which I don't need to tell my regular readers!) I greatly appreciate what I call "The Blue Book" -- the resident's guide that State Rep. Chris Ross sends out each year. It's got heaps of useful information about local government: names, e-mail addresses, websites, phone numbers, and so forth. And, amazingly, I have yet to find an error in it.
There aren't many actual hard-copy publications on my once-crowded reference shelf anymore, since so much information is available online, but The Blue Book is still one of them.

A hearty appetite


Tilda and two dear friends, a married couple, were ordering breakfast at Longwood Family Restaurant on Sunday.
Husband: "I'll have an omelette, with mushrooms, onions, peppers, Cheddar cheese, bacon, sausage--"
Wife: "Uh . . . Honey?"
Husband: "OK. No sausage."

Adios, Lindo

Say good-bye to Cafe Lindo, the coffeeshop on Broad Street between Cypress and State Streets in Kennett. Its last day was Saturday, March 5, and the windows were now covered with brown paper.
A letter on the door from "Cafe Management" announces the closing and thanks customers for their patronage.
It's a good thing a friend e-mailed me the news; otherwise I would've showed up for a committee meeting that was scheduled there.
It was a nice, bright space to meet a friend or two for coffee, and it was right there on a main street so you could see folks walking by. I'll miss the place. It was the second coffeeshop to occupy that location in the past few years.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Paul got married!

This item has little to do with Unionville, or Chester County at all, unless you saw me grinning ear to ear and floating about two feet off the ground all day Saturday as I ran errands around town.
Why was I so happy? That morning my friend Paul had announced to his friends and family on Facebook that, secretly, he had gone and tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend, Janet, in the Seychelles Islands. He posted a photo of the two of them beaming on the beach, Paul in a sport jacket and non-jeans and Janet in a lovely white strapless dress.
May the two of them enjoy many years of happiness, health and prosperity together, on the road and at home.

Double date

Court reporters are going to be busy next week! Tony Young's sentencing for his money-laundering conviction is scheduled for Wednesday, March 23, in federal court in Philadelphia. Aggie O'Brien's trial on extortion charges was scheduled to start Tuesday, March 22 (also in federal court), but it's unclear whether that will actually happen.
UPDATE: The O'Brien trial has been postponed for 45 days.

The Whip South

If all goes as planned, a southern branch of The Whip is going to open this summer in Odessa, Del.
The new restaurant, to be called Cantwell's Tavern Restaurant, will be located in the former Brick Hotel (circa 1822).
K.C. Culp, the operating partner of the popular Springdell tavern, told me that he is involved in the new venture thanks to a Whip patron, Donnan Sharp Jones of West Marlborough, who is vice president of the Historic Odessa Foundation. The Foundation, dedicated to preserving the small town's 18th- and 19th-century buildings, was considering opening a restaurant to raise money and attract visitors, and Donnan asked K.C. if he'd be interested in running it.
K.C. said he has been assured that there will be ample parking for patrons.
Here's what the site at Second and Main Streets looked like back in February when I took a little road trip south of the C&D Canal (love the magnificent Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge!). That's the future kitchen that is being built behind the Brick Hotel.
According to Historic Odessa's website: "Cantwell’s Tavern will offer lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday, and will be open on Sundays for brunch and dinner. Furnishings will reflect an early 19th century American Tavern including six rooms with fireplaces and a reproduction of a period bar in the tavern room. Menus will reflect the culinary history of the region and change seasonally to feature traditional American tavern fare and locally grown and organic produce, meat, and seafood."

In bad shape

The vacant Red Rose Inn continues to deteriorate at Baltimore Pike and Route 796. As I was driving by on Wednesday I noticed that a second-floor window on the south side of the historic structure is broken, which means creatures and the weather can now get in and wreak further havoc. I know a group of public-spirited citizens got together last fall to try to "do something" about preserving the inn, but I haven't heard anything from them recently.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brunch

Lynn Sinclair's Sunrise Cafe & Tearoom, 127 East State Street, is featured in the March issue of "County Lines" magazine. "The way Sunrise CafĂ© devotees devour Sinclair’s poached egg dishes, sandwiches and gourmet whole grain pancakes shows just how much this small town loves her back," says the writer, Laura Muzzi Brennan.
In the magazine piece Lynn shares her recipes for Ham, Asparagus and Asiago Quicha-dilla; the Bayard Taylor Hunt Sandwich; Huevos Ranchero Sauce; and Rosemary Polenta.
The website is http://www.countylinesmagazine.com/; click on "Articles." Or, for that matter, you can just go to the cafe's website: www.sunrisecafe-tearoom.com/

Goodbye to Ted

Family and friends gathered at the Chapel of the Christ Child at Christ Church Christiana Hundred on March 5 to celebrate the life of Ted Marvin, who died unexpectedly at Dunleigh, his beloved East Marlborough home. After the service, which featured a moving tribute by his sister, Ann, we shared Ted stories and watched a video of him playing Ravel on the piano for his mother and his cat. Rest in peace, Theo.

Milk

This is welcome news for folks who love Baily's locally produced milk. It's available at three new locations: (1) the Triple Fresh Market in Ercildoun; (2) Spring Run Natural Foods on Route 1 between Bayard Road and Route 52; and (3) the Westtown Meat Market on Route 202, just south of where High Street and Route 202 meet outside West Chester. In addition, of course, to the dairy itself at Pocopson Meadow Farm, 1821 Lenape Unionville Road; Archie's on Newark Road south of London Grove village; and the Northbrook Marketplace on Route 842 at Northbrook Road.
You can find out more about Baily's, its products and its people (and animals) at http://www.bailysdairy.com/.

Friday, March 4, 2011

This week's stink bug story

I came home from the gym especially thirsty and downed a nice cold glass of pure West Marlborough water. Then I noticed that there was a stink bug clinging under the spigot, right where the water comes out. I'd just enjoyed a full glass of what was essentially stink bug bath water.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Touching a chord

I love to see people who take joy in their job, especially if it's a job worth doing.
My former colleague Gloria Hoffner takes her guitar around to retirement communities, assisted-living homes, adult day-care centers and other facilities and conducts sing-alongs with the residents: holiday songs, hymns, oldies, patriotic songs, you name it.
She seems to have as much fun as the residents do, and she finds that familiar music somehow "gets through" to even patients suffering from memory loss. On her website she gives the following as a few examples:
1) A former Girl Scout leader now suffering with dementia recalled the past. I played campfire songs for her and six weeks later she was still talking about the sing-a-long to her children and facility staff!
2) A husband and wife's special memory. I played love songs and the wife, who had severe dementia and was usually not speaking, spoke up and delighted her husband when she said, "They were playing that song when we met."
3) A resident with dementia who almost never speaks, who sings every word of "Amazing Grace" when I do the weekly sing-a-long.
Gloria's website is http://www.guitarwithgloria.com/. She also does science programs for seniors!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pax Verizon

The other day a friend's Droid rang in the middle of a meal, and it sounded exactly like church bells chiming (though it was actually a grandfather clock). He said he chose the ringtone because if he forgets to turn his phone off during Mass at St. Patrick's, his fellow churchgoers will just assume it's bells from some other place of worship across town on a Sunday morning.

You know the place

We are so insular in Unionville sometimes! Yesterday I was giving directions to a friend who lives toward West Grove and told her the usual landmarks: pass Blow Horn, turn right at such-and-such's place, that sort of thing. We get used to dealing only with the local people who know perfectly well where these things are.
But, quite reasonably, she gave me a completely blank look, and I laughed at myself and remembered how baffling and aggravating it was when I first moved here. I apologized and reverted to actual street directions, not using anybody's farm name, what grazes in the pasture, or who used to own it.

Lighten up

The West Marlborough township meeting on March 1 was all about lights in the night.
  • A Springdell resident told the supervisors that the light coming from Richard Hayne's greenhouses one night was so bright that "it was like we had a UFO land in the middle of the field."
(You'll recall that Richard Hayne, the billionaire founder of the Urban Outfitters chain, is installing large greenhouses and "potting sheds" on the former Tony Young property.)
The township engineer, Al Giannantonio, said he would check into what screening was supposed to be installed around the site to block the light.
Bright lights, small village.
  • And then a representative from the owner of a large farm on Route 82 asked if the township could install a street light at the end of the farm's long driveway to discourage criminals; the owner's car was stolen recently. The supervisors suggested that the owner could install a pole light herself, or perhaps could provide illumination for the farm's outbuildings. (Police Lieut. Robert C. Clarke added that there have been a few car thefts recently along Route 82 in both East and West Marlborough, and some of the vehicles have been found in Reading.)
  • In other business at the meeting, township building inspector Eddie Caudill reported that it was a "really busy" month for him: he issued permits for Lockwood Rush to install solar panels at his Newark Road home and for Mr. Hayne to demolish a house on the former Thouron property (which he also owns) and to gut the interior of a stable and to convert it into a dining room and kitchen.

Sushi Sunday

For the seventh year in a row, three dear friends and I celebrated Chinese New Year's by going out for a wonderful meal. For a change, this February we met at a Japanese restaurant, Kyoto, rather than at the King's Island Chinese restaurant, which is still closed after a 2010 fire (an insurance dispute is holding up renovations, I'm told).
We had an absolutely delicious and memorable meal. Doug and I both ordered the sushi lunch platter (miso soup, followed by six kinds of sushi and California rolls); Stef had a Kyoto lunch box sampler, which included sashimi, tempura and fried rice; and Joe had the chicken curry and a few pieces of sushi. All were beautifully presented.
Japanese restaurants are rarely known for their desserts, but Kyoto is a happy exception. We split three exquisite desserts: a heart-shaped cake with raspberry mousse ("It's like a giant petit-four!" said Doug); a rich chocolate and nut layer cake; and green-tea ice cream.
For all that delicious food, the bill for four of us was only $100, which I found very reasonable.
The four of us met probably 15 years ago, while serving on a nonprofit board, and although we are very different personalities, we never have any trouble spending the better part of the afternoon eating and talking and laughing, catching up on what we've been doing and what's going on with friends, family and the community. What marvelous friends!
Kyoto is located in that little shopping center just east of the Wal-Mart on Baltimore Pike, behind the Hilton Garden Inn. It's a BYOB. (They also have locations on New Linden Hill Road in Delaware and the Shoppes at Dilworthtown Crossing in West Chester.)

Giant changes

"Grand Re-opening!" trumpeted last week's Giant circular, so I made a special trip to the New Garden supermarket to inspect the alterations. The biggest change is that the health food products have their own special section toward the center of the store, rather than being in a regular aisle near the produce area. There's an enlarged take-out section near the deli, and I think some of the self-checkout scanners are new.
Best of all, although this isn't anything to do with renovations, there were hyacinths and daffodils for sale in the floral section!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An amiable dwelling

The late Mrs. Hannum's 60-acre estate, Brooklawn, is on the market for $2.9 million. The house, which dates back to 1791, is at 1825 Newark Road in West Marlborough. Chris Patterson of Patterson-Schwartz, Greenville, has the listing.
Part of the 1964 Alfred Hitchcock movie "Marnie" was filmed at Brooklawn (as well as at Rokeby Mill nearby on Route 82); the late Susan Cocks Small Jones did the riding in the film.