Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'll tumble for you

Whenever we lose power here, almost inevitably it's due to a tree down on the power lines along one short, wooded stretch of one-lane gravel road. It's what happened during the tornado back in the 1990s, when we out of power for 4 days. It's what happened just three weeks ago, at the beginning of August. Believe me, I've got years of photographs.
So it was no surprise to walk up there on Sunday morning and see the wires acting as a hammock for a big walnut. The clever PECO guys managed to reroute the power around it before clearing it on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, there are many more trees nearby just waiting to fall onto those lines. I'm told the homeowners along the road even "joke" about whose turn it is next.
I wonder if some judicious pruning along that stretch of road might be in order. I'd supply home-made cookies for the workers!
Other that than, there weren't too many big branches down chez Tally-ho, and most of the ones that fell off the giant sycamore were quickly cleared by the wonderful hard-working boys from the farm next door. I think most of the white pine branches that were going to fall had already come down during last winter's ice storms.
At a construction site up the road, a portable toilet did get blown over. First thing Sunday morning it was leaning, but by the end of the windy morning it was completely horizontal.
On a serious note, though, I heard that four tulip poplars demolished a house in the Hamorton Woods development. It's a complete loss.

Only in Unionville

On Sunday I sought refuge at the Unionville home of my friends Phil and Susan, who were out of power but have a gasoline-powered generator to keep the key parts of their farm running (bless them). By flashlight we rummaged around in a storage room in the basement and emerged with a jigsaw puzzle and Scrabble.
The 1,000-piece puzzle depicted a cartoon foxhunting scene. All three of us became very intent sorting through the pieces and occasionally would talk to ourselves: "YES! That's the huntsman's jacket done!" or "Is that part of a hound, or the front of the manor house?"
After a couple of hours we started getting fractious -- it was a tricky puzzle and we hadn't even finished the outside edges -- and switched to Scrabble. My best word of the game, "Diesel," was the name of Phil's horse! There should be a bonus for such a feat, don't you think?

Silence in the Studio

My power-outage soundtrack was Pink Floyd's 1970 album "Atom Heart Mother." I listened to it over and over while I was on my way to Starbucks on Sunday morning (it was closed), to the Kennett Y on Monday morning (it was closed), to La Michoacana as a Monday afternoon treat (coffee ice cream with chocolate chips!) and back and forth to the houses of friends who had power or generators. I'm glad I filled up my gas tank before the storm.

Roses and thorns

My admiration for PECO workers knows no bounds. I heard them working at about 10 p.m. on Monday and figured they were making some final adjustments, as the power had come back on for a while but then clicked off again. So I went outside to watch and -- yep! just then the outside lights came back on.
I could have kissed the workers flipping the final switches with their long-handled switch-flipper.
"Thanks!" I yelled into the night, startling the dog.
"You're welcome!" I heard back. "Have a good evening!"
However: PECO's phone system could use some work. Maybe the system was overloaded -- I mean, it WAS a bad storm -- but I never got a timeframe for repairs like I usually do. All I got was exactly the same message that I'd gotten the first time I reported the outage, which is that I was welcome to call back for an update. I called repeatedly. Every time I went through the same menu, no update was given, and I was invited to call back for an update. 
Get your act together, folks.

Gen X

Some people's generators worked perfectly, clicking into action the moment power went out and keeping the whole house running almost normally. But one Facebook friend said her high-end built-in generator turned out to be useless (she used other words).
Some generators are hooked up in a really selective way. A neighbor told me that at one point she and her family were watching TV -- by candlelight. Hope they were watching a Dracula movie!
Speaking of generators, I have to admit I got a little choked up reading a pre-storm Facebook entry from one of our township road-crew guys about his storm preparations: "I am totally ready for my family and the township."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Life in the States

I was talking this morning with my friend George, who lives on the south coast of England, and not for the first time he expressed disbelief that anyone can live in our American climate: first the earthquake on Tuesday, and then a pending hurricane!
He was astonished when I told him that people were camping out at Lowe's for generators, waiting in line for gas (I translated for him: "queuing for petrol"), and stocking up on water, batteries, ice, cash, and food that doesn't need refrigeration, all the suggested emergency preparedness stuff. Apparently they don't have sustained power outages over there.
George later said he mentioned this at his workplace and a lively conversation ensued. I think that many of the residents of Portsmouth must now think that we Americans are a bunch of hardy pioneers in the wilderness.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Price beyond rubies

I've been a blood donor off and on since college, and when I donated earlier today I was struck by how the process has changed over the years. Now almost every step is computerized, complete with barcodes that they print out to label your paperwork and the blood bag.
What hasn't changed one bit is the value of what you give. If you've ever seen the miraculous improvement that a transfusion can produce in a very sick person, you understand. If you're eligible to give, it's really a generous thing to do, and the American Red Cross makes it very easy. You can locate a blood drive and sign up online, it absolutely doesn't hurt, the nurses are nice and skilled, the whole process takes only a few minutes, and you even get a snack afterward (I donated at the Jennersville Y, and the snacks were very kindly donated by Herrs).
Hint: Drink a lot of water ahead of time. It expedites the donation process.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


It's been a year since I've started monopolizing page A3 of the Kennett Paper, and what fun it has been! People have told me that they've heard folks talking about "Tilda" everywhere from the hunt field to the nail salon to PTO meetings, so I guess I'm doing something right.
I started writing this column partly in response to all the mean, snarky, smart-alecky blogs out there. In contrast, I try to be even-handed and charitable in everything I write -- if I have a bad meal at a restaurant, for instance, I won't trash somebody's livelihood, I simply won't write about the place.
But, as you've doubtless noticed, neither do I shy away from covering our local controversies (and goodness knows there are plenty). I realize I'm not going to please everybody; that just comes with the territory and the wonderfully opinionated, vital, distinctive people who live here.
Thanks, readers, for slogging through updates about my garden and for putting up with my ill-concealed boasting about my family members. Thank you so much for offering all of your comments and suggestions, and a special thanks to everyone who regularly supplies me with such superb items!

More fungus

Have you noticed the fascinating fungi that have been springing up with all this rain? A bright-orange dog stinkhorn, probably eight inches tall, arose overnight in the middle of my nasturtiums. A plethora of puffballs, from barely-there to saucer size, are scattered around the lawn in places I've never seen them before.
At a friend's farm a circle of picture-perfect toadstools surrounds a maple tree; a bearded gnome would look perfectly at home. And I spotted some perfectly white little nubbins just starting to sprout in her manure pit; the mature fungus resembled a sea urchin.
And while we're talking about growing things, let me take this opportunity to commend Burpee for its "Mammoth" brand of sunflower seeds. My sunflowers this summer are beautiful, and without question the tallest I've ever grown. I would guess some of them are 12 feet tall.


The Doe Run Farm conditional-use hearings scheduled for Aug. 25 were postponed at the request of Richard Hayne's representatives. No new date has been set. The two hearings were for "processing of cheese and yogurt" and "processing of vegetables of preserves" at the Springdell farm.
Unfortunately, a reporter friend didn't get the word that the hearing was postponed and showed up at the township hall anyway. She phoned me at 7:10 p.m. wondering where everyone was.
I explained, and then suggested the obvious alternative course of action: let's go have a drink at the Whip! Which we did.

The earth didn't move

Forgive Tilda if she is slightly peeved ... but she completely missed the earthquake! I was out running errands; first I popped by the Kennett library to pick up some DVDs and then I went to Baily's Dairy in Pocopson. As soon as I left Baily's with my milk and peaches, my cell phone rang. It was my reporter pal Mike calling from West Chester to find out if the quake had hit Unionville.
I told him I certainly hadn't noticed anything, but I would find out.
What I did feel was a sinking sensation that I had totally missed a Really Newsworthy Event.
Sure enough, I stopped by a Unionville office on the way home.
"Did you feel it?!" one of the staffers asked without preamble as I walked in.
Another arrived a few minutes later in a state of breathless excitement; she'd been shopping at Walmart over her lunch break and felt the trembling.
The hideous sinking sensation continued as I read on Facebook a stream of juicy earthquake stories from not only Chester County friends but also those as far away as Asheville, Oneida, NY, and Wilkes-Barre.
Several friends compared the sensation to the vibration from a washing machine on spin cycle. Another said it felt like a heavy truck flying by, or workers on the roof. 
Or, as one Kennett friend summarized: "Was way cool!" (Yeah. Thanks for sharing, Karen.)
But I took comfort in the fact that there were several of us who, like me, were in cars, or outside, and missed it. So unfair!
It seems that most people's pets, if they reacted at all, were simply startled by the quake. But a family member's cat seemed to sense that it was coming: just before the quake she flattened herself on the kitchen floor, as low as possible, and looked utterly terrified.

Green and White

Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz is a Tower Hill School graduate! He went on to Harvard for his undergraduate degree and then earned a joint MD and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Wharton School. In addition to being an author and TV personality, he's also a cardiothoracic surgeon and a father of four.
(Thanks to the mom of another Tower Hill grad for this bit of trivia.)


A friend who is an avid bargain-hunter couldn't wait to tell me about the beautiful Oriental rug she bought at a West Chester community garage sale last Saturday.
She wasn't looking for a carpet, but out of curiosity asked the seller to unroll it for her. The size (five by eight) and colors (beige and red) won her over -- as well as the seller's Southern accent and blue eyes, she confessed. The asking price for the 100% wool, made-in-Iran carpet was $80; she got it for $65. It's now in the foyer of her East Marlborough house.
When she asked about its provenance, the seller told her he had the carpet in his house before he got married, but when it came time to combine his household with his wife's, not everything would fit into their new home. My friend said this is a story she often hears at garage sales because people are getting married later in life, after they've established households.


Once the foxhunting bug bites, the effects are chronic. Consider:
1. An avid foxhunter announced to her friends that she had just gotten engaged, and naturally they asked about her wedding plans. It went without saying that she'd wait until at least next April, after hunting season was over.
2. Because of bridge construction, another foxhunting friend is obliged to turn left out of her driveway instead of right. It's a tricky turn to make even with a car, between two steep embankments, much less when you're heading out before dawn hauling a trailer.
Foregoing hunting during the month-long bridge repair was, of course, unthinkable. First she got a quote from an excavator to widen the driveway, but she and her husband balked at the price.
So, being a resourceful soul, she pinpointed the exact spot at which she needs to cut the wheel so that she doesn't send her rig plummeting into the creek on the other side of the one-lane road. She marked the spot by erecting a tomato stake with a CD duct-taped to it. The moment her headlights catch the CD, she makes the turn and is on her way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In the mail

Two interesting pieces of snail mail this week:
1) A letter from PECO saying that its residential heating discounts are being phased out in 2012. Perhaps coincidentally, I noticed that Lowe's has a large display of portable heaters already on the sales floor.
2) A postcard from the Unionville Chadds Ford Education Association giving the union's version of the ongoing labor negotiations. I hope an English teacher wasn't involved in writing it; one sentence reads, "UCFEA is the first and foremost proud of our students and their accomplishments."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sanford estate

In April I wrote that Dick and Sheila Sanford had their 43-acre Chadds Ford estate on the market. Well, according to the Pennsbury Township newsletter, it looks as if it's going to become Windmill Hollow, a ten-lot subdivision. The plan "has completed the plan review process but has not received final approval." The property is on Brinton's Bridge Road.

Like thunder and lightning

For me, excitement is optional at social events. I love good company, good food and drink -- but drama, not so much.
Oh well: we got all of those, and in spades, last Thursday evening at a picnic at the idyllic Plantation Field. As soon as I arrived I saw heaps of friends I wanted to chat with, and people were just starting to tuck into the terrific buffet under a tent set up on top of the hill. What could be better? Hey, let's check out the new dressage ring and ignore those rumbles of thunder in the distance!
Well, at about 6:45 a classic summer thunderstorm broke. Lightning was flashing all around, the rain was pelting down and the fierce wind sent table covers, baseball caps, plastic cups and water bottles flying all over. The temperature dropped by probably 15 degrees in a few minutes.
A lot of people went dashing for their cars, but I stayed on; I hadn't had dessert yet. I tried to make sure there was a large person standing between me and the rain, but with the wind it was pointless; my cotton dress got sopping wet.
When I started shivering, and after I had had a piece of the wonderful cake, I headed back to the car.
Alas, I had left my driver's side window down about two inches; the inside was damp all the way over to the passenger seat.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How did it get there?

You know those colorful pennants you see at the grand openings of banks and gas stations? The plastic strands with red, yellow, blue, and green triangles that flap in the breeze?
There is one tangled in the top of a tall beech tree in my parents' woods. How did it get there? It's unlikely that it would have blown up there, because it would have caught on many other branches en route. But what aircraft would have dropped such a thing?
My mother thinks there is some kind of writing on one of the triangles, but even with her binoculars she can't quite decipher it. As you might expect, it's driving her crazy.

Chester County Master Gardeners

Regular Facebook users like me know that there is a lot of junk to sort through every day. But one page that I always look forward to reading is Chester County Master Gardeners. They run lovely photos and amusing plant-identification quizzes, pose tricky diagnosis problems, and offer helpful advice about things like preventing powdery mildew on your phlox (welcome to my life). Yesterday they reminded me that it's potato harvesting time.


Sounds like there's all kinds of excitement going on in Newlin Township. And not just the bridge repair on Powell Road, either.
Dozens of residents turned out for a recent township meeting to discuss the purchase of the property next to the Stargazer's Stone on Stargazer Road in Embreeville, and I'm told that tempers flared to the point that the supervisors had to adjourn the meeting.
After months of discussion, the township signed an agreement to buy the five-acre property, which it would keep as open space, contingent on receiving state grant money to do so. But some neighbors are objecting vehemently, fearing that it will increase traffic and have a negative impact on their lives, especially one woman who shares a driveway with the property in question.
"Newlin hasn't had this much excitement since we did our subdivision & zoning ordinances years ago," reports one of my Newlin pals.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I knew something was up when I turned into my normally quiet road at 11 on a Sunday morning and saw a row of cars coming toward me. If it had been 4 p.m., quitting time for the farm workers down the road, that would have been different. Plus I didn't recognize the drivers, and they didn't even wave: definitely outsiders.
I got home, checked Facebook and found out what was going on: a tree had fallen across Route 82 near West Road early that morning, blocking both lanes and knocking out power (but not to us, for a change). The hard-working road crew cleared the tree by that afternoon, and our road was back to its normal calm once again.
I noticed the same thing the following Saturday morning: there was an unusual amount of westbound traffic on Upland Road (Route 842). Then I got to Newark Road and realized why: a tree had fallen just north of Route 926, blocking Newark Road from the London Grove intersection north to 842.

Corner Cafe

Tilda's sister-in-law reports that her coffeemaker, though only four months old, is defective: instead of dripping the brew into the carafe, it goes all over the countertop. Morning coffee is vital to both her and her husband, so on Sunday she asked him if he wanted her to go out and get two cups.
No, he said, what he wanted was a full pot.
Being a resourceful woman, she took the carafe to Mushrooms Cafe, the new place at Hickory Hill Road and Route 1 (where the White Barn was years ago), and explained the situation. The owner very kindly brewed an entire pot using her carafe, much to the amusement of the people having breakfast there.
So my sis-in-law left with a pot of coffee, which was still hot by the time she got home, and also some gazpacho.
I stopped by for coffee and an "everything" bagel the other morning and found Mushrooms to be a delightful place for breakfast or lunch, with lovely farmhouse-style tables and lots of country antiques for sale. They sell fresh mushrooms and also make their own mushroom soup, which a member of a mushroom-growing family tells me is very good. And there's Wifi!

Truth, unity and concord

Two friends of mine asked me about a big building they spotted along Route 1 in Concordville. I knew the one they were talking about, it's on the south side of Route 1, just beyond Route 322, and I remembered years ago seeing a sign that the property belonged to some kind of a church.
Well! With a little online digging, what a sleazy and sad story I discovered. The church, called "Church of the Savior," was active in the 1970s and was run by a preacher from South Africa named Frederick Drummond. He soon faced accusations of squandering church money, bullying and beating his followers (as well as his children and his dog), falsifying his credentials, among even more unseemly acts, chronicled in fairly sickening detail in a collection of local newspaper articles at
Drummond's spin on the story? He writes on his personal website:
"His best learning experiences were gained in the school of hard knocks during his thirty-three-year tenure at the church in Concordville. It was there that he came to grips with himself, the angels in the attic and the demons in the basement."
Drummond appears to be involved with a Ft. Lauderdale church now. "Beginning in 1978, after a terrible church split that was mostly my fault, God began to teach me about His grace," he writes in the section of his new church's website modestly called "How God Qualified Me to Take My Place in the Kingdom as an End-Time Prophet."
The former church property on Route 1 now seems to be serving a happier function, as Concord Township offices and a community center.
I told a few old-time local reporter pals about this lurid story and it was news to them, as it was to me.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tilda's parents

One recent Saturday I walked into the Y, scanned my card, and asked one of the helpers at the desk, "Have my parents been in yet today?"
No, she answered, but she'd only been there since 11 a.m.
It didn't occur to me until later how many assumptions I had made: that she knew who my parents were in the first place, and that she had noticed whether they were among the hordes of folks who visit the Y on a weekend.
Then I realized: No. We're talking about MY parents. People remember them, and vividly.
My mother is endlessly curious. She is the reason why I delight in writing about odd plants sprouting in the garden, or who I saw across the room at lunch, and what we ate. When I leave questions unanswered in this column, I get a phone call from her.
"Tilda Lee," she'll chide me. "Where is that man's farm that you wrote about? You didn't say. And what does he do for a living?"
She is also compassionate, friendly to all, and optimistic and has both an uproarious laugh and a well-honed sense of agency and justice that sends her flying to the phone if she spots an error on a bill ("What is this? I don't even know what texting is!"), or if a bag of salad goes bad before its expiration date. My English skills, which pay the bills nowadays, are thanks to her; as long as I can remember we made weekly trips to the public library and joyfully brought home stacks of books.
The other half of the couple is, of necessity, quieter but no less memorable and distinctive himself. My father taught his three children how to talk to anyone, how to shake hands correctly, how to save and spend money wisely and how to negotiate a great deal from even veteran car salespeople. Both he and my mother, by example, instilled in us a competitive drive to "do it right" and a love of work that is a gift beyond price.
My folks started out modestly, and all of us kids now urge them, with exasperation, to splurge on whatever they want, be it Champagne or a condo on Sanibel (yes, even in high season). But just try grabbing a dinner check from Dad; it's not gonna happen.
I'm beyond proud to introduce them to my friends and neighbors, and it tickles me that they enjoy this silly column so much (even though it took them weeks to figure out it was their daughter writing it).
They celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary this month.
Happy Anniversary, Mum and Dad.

Mail in Willowdale?

During a convesation about plans to close many rural post offices, my friend Joel said he remembered when there was a tiny post office at Willowdale (the crossroads of Routes 926 and 82 in East Marlborough).
I didn't remember one, but he seemed very sure and he's been around here longer than I have, so I thought maybe it was just before my time. Especially when he offered to bet me $1,000.
When I got home, I questioned a few longtime residents. Neither Mary Dugan nor Chris Barber remembered a Willowdale post office. Jessie Cocks said she remembered picking up the mail in the building that's now Catherine's Restaurant in Unionville.
Don Silknitter, a retired Unionville schoolteacher (and a new father-in-law!), forwarded me a complete list of Chester County post offices, dating back to 1798 (Downingtown). Sure enough, a Willowdale post office was established on May 21, 1869, with Joseph S. Pyle as postmaster. There's no mention of when it was shut down.
If anyone has more information about it, I'd love to find out.

Quantity, not Quality

I went into the Jennersville state store to buy a bottle of Scotch whisky for a friend's birthday and couldn't find the one he had requested, Dalwhinnie. I asked the clerk for help and he said that although it is certainly a delicious single-malt, they didn't stock it.
"But why not?" I felt compelled to ask.
He explained that each store's inventory is determined by its volume of sales. The Kennett state store sells more, so they are assigned a higher grade and thus have more of a variety. Apparently it has nothing to do with what the store sells, or with the demographics of the area.
So he checked the Liquor Control Board's database and found that both the Kennett and Oxford stores had Dalwhinnie in stock. I chose Oxford, and he called the store to have them set aside one of their two bottles for me.
(In case you're ever looking, the Oxford state store is tucked away in the shopping center on Route 10, north of town.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lift that bale!

The other morning my presence was requested on a little jaunt to pick up hay in Cochranville.
"You'll get a good workout," I was assured.
Well, I was like an eager dog ready for a road trip. I immediately fired back an e-mail RSVPing and grabbed my work gloves.
We headed west on Route 926 across Route 41 to Melvin King's Car-Mar Farm, a self-service hay and straw place. You back your truck into the barn, choose which type of hay you want and start loading. When you're done, you drop your money or check into a pipe with a padlocked lid. And woe to any would-be deadbeats: there are security cameras and a prominent "Wall of Shame" with the names of check-bouncers (I didn't recognize any).
So we loaded up my pal's new truck (she stayed in the truckbed, I brought the bales to her and she stacked), paid (20 bales @ $6.50), and headed back east. We approached my house -- but she didn't turn.
"Um missed my road," I said.
She shot me an incredulous look.
"What, you think you're done?" she said. "Now we have to unload."
To her credit, she let us swap jobs: this time I got to stay in the truck and hand her the bales.
Car-Mar's current hours are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., and they are shut on Sundays.

On the right track

From the sports page of the Aug. 5 "Wall Street Journal":
"44: The number of consecutive years that thoroughbred trainer Jonathan Sheppard has won at least one race at Saratoga. On Thursday, the Sheppard-trained Divine Fortune won the A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase."

Family dinner

Three generations of Tally-hos gathered for a family dinner at Floga Bistro on a recent Saturday and had a great time.
The Tally-ho patriarch raves about the chicken parmigiana, so I ordered it this time, and he was right. My brother had the wonderful spaghetti aglio olio (garlic, olive oil and Pecorino), which I've ordered many times before. Prices are reasonable, and the portions are large enough that most of us took home doggie bags. 
There was one vegetarian in our group, and we made sure there were menu choices for her (she ended up ordering a small pizza). Another young family member ordered mussels, which allowed Tilda to order him to spell both the shellfish and the biceps type (even at the end of summer vacation, he still got them right!).
Our poor waitress had a broken hand but still managed to clear our whole party's dishes in one armload. And the genial chef came out after dinner and visited our table for a bit.
Floga is between Kennett and Longwood Gardens, on the south side of Baltimore Pike, in the Genuardi's shopping center.

West Nile

Mosquitos collected from a West Chester park have tested positive for West Nile Virus, according to a press release from the Chester County Health Department. Although the health department experts say that the chances of contracting the virus from an infected mosquito and getting sick are very low, they advise staying indoors at dawn and dusk, turning over containers where water can collect, stocking ponds with fish, using bug repellent and wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts (I would add socks to that list, as skeeters always seem to go straight for my ankles).
(Thanks to the "Newlin News" for this item.)

Liz Marden

I've learned that it's just plain foolish to ignore any recommendations that my sister-in-law makes for businesses, restaurants, etc. So when she raved about Liz Marden, the new bakery at 110 South Union Street in Kennett, I put it on my list right away.
I stopped by on a weekday afternoon and of course she was right: the coffee is great and the baked goods were delicious (I had a vanilla cupcake with a swirl of chocolate frosting, and a sample of the raspberry Linzer tart). You can get your goodies to go or take a moment to sit down at one of the tables inside. There were two families getting treats when I was there; at one table, a woman and two extremely well-behaved young boys were taking turns reading aloud to each other (how heart-warming is that!). You can also watch the busy white-coated bakers at work.
By the way, if the name Liz Marden sounds familiar, it's because her bakery was formerly in Hockessin.


Over the past 10 years or so I've noticed some real changes in local insect life. Dozens of red-and-black box-elder bugs used to cluster on the outside of windows for a few weeks in the autumn; now I rarely see even one. And I used to set out traps for those iridescent Japanese beetles, and I'd have to replace the full bags several times in mid-summer. Now there are just a few of the beetles, and all they do is eat a few zinnia and four-o'-clock leaves rather than ruining whole plants.
As far as stink bugs go, I've seen a few immature ones in the garden, but nothing inside the house yet. It has been so nice these past few months not to have to cope with them at all! Let's hope it lasts. But a high-school pal of mine who is marketing a clever stink bug trap ( predicts they will be four to ten times worse this year, if you can imagine.
"Newer homes are less prone to infestation, but any home that is roof/attic vented is a prime target for the stinky critters," he says.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"We got lucky"

Even old-timers learned something new when David Shields of the Brandywine Conservancy gave a fascinating talk about the history of the King Ranch in Newlin, East Fallowfield and West Marlborough.
When the ranch wanted to sell the pristine land to developers, the Conservancy stepped in and tried to raise the purchase price by recruiting very wealthy people who would be interested in owning a piece of the ranch. Given the obstacles the Conservancy faced in putting together the unprecedented, years-long deal, what with conservation easements, IRS regulations, and a multitude of other complications, it's amazing that they eventually succeeded in saving the land from development and creating the Laurels nature preserve.
"We got lucky," said Mr. Shields.
He mentioned that before closing, the ranch owners insisted on checking how much oil was left in the tanks of all the houses on the property -- but then left $40,000 in first-cutting hay unharvested. He also recalled how the late Teddy Browning of Pocopson did a natural resources survey of the entire property and would sometimes take both hands off the wheel of his truck in excitement to point to an especially beautiful spot.
Mr. Shields gave his talk to a standing-room-only audience at the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library. A friend who missed the talk wondered if the library might invite Mr. Shields to reprise the lecture, and that would be a great idea. I'd go back again.
Also, Mr. Shields, who is associate director of the Conservancy's Land Stewardship program, is writing a book on the King Ranch and the Conservancy's role in saving the land, and I can't wait to read it.

Wear and Tear

You can't hang around with riders for very long without realizing they have a fatalistic attitude toward injuries. Concussions, fractures and pain go with the territory; it's a matter of when, not if. The critical question they have is, how soon can I get back to foxhunting, or eventing, or hacking?
Recently my dear pal Susan sprained her ankle badly when she stepped in a hole dug by one of her free-range hens for dust-bath purposes. It hurts, but of course it didn't stop her from participating, joyously and vigorously, bright and early at 6 a.m. on the first day of cubbing (once she got her foot into a boot, that is).
Why, then, is she so excessively peeved?
Because she knows there are only so many serious injuries you can suffer over a lifetime and still manage to ride.
"I wasted a perfectly good injury and it wasn’t even on a horse or in the barn," she grumbled.

Wildlife management

I noticed two big red envelopes on the dashboard of my friend Joel's Jeep -- actually, they looked like parking tickets -- and asked about them. Turns out that this year Monday, Aug. 1, was a key date for sportsmen, and Joel had his antlerless license applications all stamped and ready to mail to the Chester County treasurer.
This whole business of securing hunting permits is far more complicated than I thought.
Let the state Game Commission explain: "Starting Monday, August 1, applications for unsold antlerless tags will be accepted by mail by County Treasurers for wildlife management units with licenses still on hand. An individual may apply for only one unsold tag on August 1, and if available, a second unsold tag by mail on Monday, August 15, for a total of not more than two unsold tags anywhere in the state."
As Joel says dryly, "The PA Game Commission is finally getting up to date compared to other states, but they still are not crystal clear and simple in their explanations."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Makeup by Lowe's

I'm most definitely not a devotee of the Higher Beauty Culture, so I was simultaneously amused and a little grossed out to read about a new type of cosmetic called "primers," described by a fashion columnist as "thin gels you apply to fill in fine lines and even out your skin surface before you put on your foundation."
Sounds like spackle to me, but I'll bet a tiny tube of this goo is lots more expensive than a whole tub of drywall mud.
The other morning I was doing barn work with a similarly low-maintenance, middle-aged friend and mentioned this product to her, expecting hoots of derision.
Nope: "That sounds like a great idea!" she said. "I'd buy it!"


Whoo-hoo! I hear from the organizers of the Unionville Community Fair that we are going to have a real live rodeo at the fair this fall!
A group of Unionville residents simply couldn't wait that long to don their cowboy hats, though, and made the 40-minute trek to Cowtown Rodeo in Salem County, N.J., on a recent Saturday evening. They had a great time watching the riding and roping competitions and the crowd, and ate dinner at the snack bar (I'm told the brisket sandwich was very tasty).
As far as liquid refreshments go, you're allowed to bring six-packs of beer into the stadium if they're in a cooler. But my friends like wine, so they phoned and asked about the regulations. The rep told them they'd have to pour the wine into Mason jars and bring it in a six-pack cooler. So they decanted their expensive French wine into Mason jars and had a blast downing it like backwoods moonshine. Yee-hah!
Cowtown Rodeo is open every Saturday evening through Sept. 24.

Maple yogurt

Whenever I see reps from Doe Run Farm sitting in the audience at a West Marlborough Township meeting, I know it's going to be an interesting evening.
On Aug. 2 three men representing the farm's owner, billionaire Urban Outfitters founder Richard Hayne, were there to explain why he wants conditional use permission for the cheese-making facility and greenhouses at the large Springdell farm. The conditional uses, they said, would allow him to wholesale the cheese (which he, ahem, already does) and to make and sell tomato products.
What concerns neighbors and township officials is that previously Mr. Hayne's reps had said the cheese would be made for his personal use only, and the greenhouses were there only so the Haynes could putter with orchids and vegetables in their retirement years. But then, without permission from the township, the excess "for personal use only" cheese started going on sale at Terrain, the upscale Urban Outfitters shop in Concordville.
Adding to the local discomfort level is the fact that Mr. Hayne has never appeared at any township meeting, so township officials have had to rely solely on statements from an array of lawyers and other reps about his intentions.
"We're leery," summarized Josh Taylor, who chairs the township planning commission.
Mr. Hayne's reps said if the conditional uses were approved, residents would see no change in the farm's operations, which would remain "non-intensive" and "not a label like Paul Newman." But skeptical neighbors peppered them with questions about how big the operation could get and still constitute a "non-intensive" use.
One rep said he would agree to stipulations that there would not be any retail use or restaurant allowed on the property. And in a quirky aside, he informed the audience that Mr. Hayne eats the maple-flavored yogurt made at the creamery every day.
The conditional use hearing will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 25.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hot cars

The hyper-busy Bernasconi family of East Marlborough met for dinner at Applebee's on Friday night, and what did they see but FOUR DeLoreans parked next to each other at the Hilton Garden Inn!
One even had a license tag saying "McFly," as in Marty McFly of the "Back to the Future" movies. (Marty traveled back in time using a DeLorean DMC-12 that had been retrofitted as a time machine.)

The photo shows Stephanie Bernasconi and her boyfriend Jeff Nelson.

Nurse Donna

Unionville's Donna Taylor was quoted in a story on nursing excellence in "Synapse," the Chester County Hospital's magazine. Donna is a cardiovascular nurse navigator at the hospital, where she has worked for 19 years. Not only is she a compassionate nurse, but also a kind friend -- and quite an astonishing athlete.

Bumps and detours

If you're on Doe Run Station Road heading toward the village of Gum Tree, slow down and be really careful as you approach Buck Run Road. There are several treacherous rough spots along the road, and they're tough to see because the road changes abruptly from being in the sun to being in the deep shade. I speak from experience.
In other vehicular news, at the Longwood Starbucks one recent morning I ran into my friend Diana, who was on her way to fill up her gas tank at Giant using her $2-per-gallon discount. She was unfamiliar with Kennett back roads, and with Baltimore Pike closed toward Toughkenamon for roadwork, she wanted to know the best way to get home to Jennersville.
I told her to take Bancroft Road north, past the new elementary school; then Line Road west to Newark Road; then the Route 1 bypass. The next day when I saw her she thanked me for mentioning new school; that way she knew she was on the right track.

"Healthy" tattoo: a rash idea?

A friend who is a yoga instructor reports that she recently got a cool "all-natural" henna tattoo applied to her hip. Unfortunately she was allergic to it and became "itchy and red all over."
What did this tattoo depict? A symbol for "health and wellness."