Friday, September 30, 2011

They're back

I got the following stinkbug update from Unionville resident Congressman Joe Pitts, who recently visited a Lancaster County orchard :
"In recent years, their fruit has been destroyed by the Asian stinkbug infestation. I toured the orchards with a professor from Penn State who is working closely with local growers to determine ways to fight the stinkbug. They’re looking into solutions to the problem including chemicals that block breeding and introduction of natural predators."
I know that some preternaturally tolerant people think that stinkbugs are just minor nuisances we should learn to live with, but they really are harmful to crops.
So far, I've had one very bad day where I picked literally dozens of the foul creatures off the walls and curtains and found them hiding in my clothes and bed. Yuck! Since then I've tried to keep all the doors, curtains and windows shut as much as possible, as tough as it is during pleasant fall weather, and that seems to be making a significant difference. My motivation is the memory I have of pulling a scarf out of a bureau drawer last winter and seeing dozens of stinkbugs clinging to it.

Rules of the road

Not for the first time, I almost had the front of my car removed today at the intersection of Routes 842 (Upland Road) and 82 (Doe Run Road) on the west side of Unionville, by the ballfield. When you're turning onto 82 from 842, you need to pull right up to the stop sign to see if any traffic is coming. But some people turning from 82 onto 842 cut the turn very sharply, like they're race-car drivers trying to maintain a straight line while accelerating through a curve.
C'mon, folks. Slow down and stay in your own darn lane of traffic!

State and local government

I missed the West Marlborough Township supervisors' meeting on Sept. 29 but got a full account from somebody who did attend (thank you to my source!). The board discussed the results of a road survey that McCormick Taylor Inc. conducted to help the township decide whether to "take back" several state roads, such as Routes 841, 842, 82, and 926 and Springdell Road. By doing so the township would have control over the roads in return for a flat fee from PennDOT -- but would lose the annual snow removal funding from the state and would have to foot the bill for maintenance, snowplowing and policing. The board talked about the pros and cons of taking back the roads and how it could fund the increased maintenance expenses, possibly by enacting an earned income tax. Most people who work outside of the township already pay this tax to the municipality where they work; if West Marlborough enacted such a tax, workers' taxes would not go up, but rather a portion would be forwarded to the township.
With U.S. Census data showing 398 households in West Marlborough and a mean household income of $137,172 (assumed to be half earned and half unearned), an earned income tax of 0.25% would bring in $68,243 and one of 0.50% would bring in $126,486.
The supervisors haven't made any decisions on the issue yet.
Speaking for myself, I'm still a little stunned by that mean household income figure.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Long ago but not so far away

Who knew that a movie showing people filing out of church and school, pigs in a truck, and bottles of milk could be so captivating?
I went to a meeting of the Southeastern Chester County Historical Society at the Friends Home on Sept. 28 and we watched an hour-long movie shot in 1940 in the Kennett area. It seems that a movie company went around to small towns and shot footage of businesses, churches, schools, shops, sports teams and local attractions, trying to capture on film as many local people as they could, then edited it into a video. It was so much fun recognizing buildings that still exist (like Kennett High School, Unionville Elementary, the old Kennett borough hall, St. Patrick's, Kennett Presbyterian and other churches, Longwood Gardens) and seeing once again those that are long gone (like the Eachus dairy in West Chester and the Anvil Inn). Some old-timers in the audience even recognized some of the people!
The fashions and hats were striking; we especially loved the bomber-pilot hats and pointy caps that the kids were wearing. Another highlight was a group of women dressed up in Indian costumes as part of a social club called the Daughters of Pocahontas, and a group of possibly tipsy men cavorting at a golf outing.
One mystery is why the Kennett sewage treatment plant rated such extensive coverage.
The lack of a teenager in the room was sorely felt when there were technical problems with the video setup only a few minutes into the movie. But the delay gave me time to catch up with several audience members I hadn't seen in ages.
Thanks so much to Mary Dugan and her group for showing this wonderful film, and to Damon Sinclair for converting it to DVD and adding the music.
Copies of the DVD are available for $10; contact Mary Dugan (610-347-2237 or mary@marylarkindugan.com).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Big success

Four things I loved about Saturday night: Windoview, Casey Cattie, the Kennett Flash and my hosts Denise and Jack.
Windoview is an acoustic band made up of three Unionville High School students, and they keep getting better and better (as well as more grown-up-looking). Casey, who opened their show, is a country music singer and guitar player, also a Unionville student, and simply cute as a button. I'm always struck by how comfortable and poised these teenagers are on stage.
The Kennett Flash was (literally) standing room only, but the acoustics were wonderful and the atmosphere could not have been nicer.
And Denise and Jack, the parents of one of the band members, were kind enough to provide not only the tickets but also beverages for their guests.
A marvelous evening!

Infrastructure

Poor Route 82! There it was, looking all spiffy and newly paved and striped -- when a big tree crashed down near Spottswood Lane on the afternon of Sept. 24, closing it down for a few hours.
Also, workers from Henkels & McCoy were out this past week maintaining the high-tension lines that run through our area. I saw them at the top of two towers, and several of their vehicles with giant spools of cable were parked at the Daleville PECO sub-station on White Horse Road on Thursday morning. They seemed to be all business, though, unlike the workers years who were repainting the towers and serenaded us with the Nat King Cole/Natalie Cole duet that was popular at the time, "Unforgettable."

Big party

I've been following the immense behind-the-scenes efforts to prepare for the Oct. 15 black-tie ball at the Brandywine River Museum to celebrate the museum's 40th anniversary. Some wonderfully creative folks, both employees and volunteers, have been busy for weeks creating oversized art tools -- brushes, paint tubes, colored pencils and the like -- as decorations for the party, in keeping with the theme "It's Gonna Be BIG."
That it is!
According to the museum's website, "We’ll mark the Museum’s huge range of achievements and impressive and growing collections with a monumental party to show members and other friends how enormously appreciative we are for four decades of support.   Held in the Museum’s vast tented courtyard, the ball will feature larger-than-life d├ęcor, a wide variety of artistic food and drink, and the big sounds of Ward Marston and his orchestra." 
The museum is 40 years old, imagine that. I remember going there on high school field trips shortly after it opened.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Big brother

I was driving on one of my favorite back roads on Sunday evening, on my way to dinner at the house of some dear friends, when I spotted a young boy, a man and a dog ambling along the side of the road. The boy waved to me, so I stopped and said hi. He explained that he had flagged me down so he could introduce me (a complete stranger) to his week-old baby sister, who was sleeping in her father's arms.
The lad told me about her birth, and how he is enjoying being a big brother -- and then asked me to demonstrate my car's sunroof and said he wanted a car like mine when he grew up.
The father said, somewhat apologetically, that if I let him the boy would've talked and asked questions all evening. If I wasn't already late for dinner I would've stayed longer. Charming child!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

D'oh!

Anyone who has ever handled a mass mailing will wince at the following, which I received from my college alumni office:
"Yesterday, we discovered that the recent mailing you received from the Annual Fund had an outside envelope that did not match the response card inside. The mail house which has served the college well for many years reported that they were responsible for collating this mailing incorrectly.
"You will receive an apology from our Vice President and the appropriate materials in the next few days. Your support and involvement is critically important to us, as is your trust that your support be handled in a confidential and respectful manner. I regret this very unfortunate occurrence and hope you will respond positively when you receive this follow-up mailing."
Sure enough, the response card I received was meant for a pair of alums in Brooklyn.
I can only imagine the panic and stress-filled meetings that ensued. Perversely, I'm going to give the college more money than usual this year just to show them I understand how easy it is for mistakes like that to happen.



Pancakes

Actor Michael J. Fox was in Greenville on Friday, Sept. 23, for an art auction and cocktail party to raise money for his Michael J. Fox Foundation, which supports Parkinson's disease research. Among the artworks auctioned off was a painting by Sarah Lamb of Downingtown depicting six delectable-looking pancakes; it brought $13,500!
Team Fox Delaware organized both the party and Pancakes for Parkinson's, the fundraising breakfast that was held the next morning on the Wilmington waterfront.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Big picture

When it comes to Chester County geography, I'm pretty sharp. But cross the line into New Castle County, Delaware, and it's a different story.
I can get to the Delaware location I want from Unionville just fine, but I don't have an overall mental picture of where First State places are in relation to each other, much less how to get from one to the other.
For instance, a friend said her new employer is near the intersection of Dupont Road and Route 48. OK. I could get there just fine: take Route 52 almost to Tower Hill and then hang a right. But until I looked on the atlas, I didn't realize how close that was to Greenville and Route 141, because I usually approach that area by taking Route 41 to Hockessin and then Route 48.
(And by the way, calling Route 48 "Lancaster Pike" doesn't help matters. That means Route 30 to a Pennsylvania native like me.)
I was glad to see that others share this blind spot. A very brainy Unionville grad said she even has difficulty getting from the Wilmington train station to the Concord Mall without returning to her home in Kennett!
(And speaking of things Delaware, happy eighth birthday to Susan Teiser's Centreville Cafe!)

They heard him

At lunch on Friday a friend told me a Verizon story with a happy ending.
The phones in his elderly father's house outside Coatesville suddenly went dead. The father went to a neighbor's house and called Verizon but got nothing but the automated menu, so he phoned his son for help. My friend got the same menu but kept pushing "O" for "operator" and after 20 minutes got through to a real person. Unfortunately, the operator said he was sorry, but no one was available to do a repair for several days.
"So if my father has a medical emergency and needs help, you'll be responsible?" said my friend. ("Hey, I had 20 minutes to come up with a good line," he explained to me.)
The operator promptly transferred him to a sympathetic supervisor, who not only sent a repairman out that very day but also called both my friend and his father back to make sure everything had been done to their satisfaction. The repairman even took out an old connection that was impairing the quality of the line!
Impressive.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

National news

The Gustavsson family of Kennett Square was featured on page 1 of the "Wall Street Journal" on Sept. 17-18. Christina Gustavsson, age 15, is a Kennett High School student who suffers from the debilitating ailment chronic fatigue syndrome, and the story was about the difficulties that can arise between families and school districts when it comes to educating children with CFS and similar "hidden disabilities that are difficult to observe, evaluation or understand."
In addition to Christina, the reporter, Amy Dockser Marcus, also spoke to Sharon S. Bennett, director of special education for the Kennett Consolidated School District (yes, the reporter got the district's full name correct); Christina's parents, Nils and Michelle; and their attorney, Charles Pugh of West Chester. There are also two photos of Christina, and the story even carries a "Kennett Square" dateline.

Tell a friend!

Remember the old Acme supermarket on Scarlett Road in New Garden, the one that's been sitting empty since February 2008? There's a lengthy entry about it on the "Acme Style Blog," a website that "features pictures and stories of Acme grocery stores, including closed, abandoned and repurposed locations throughout Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania." (The blog entry was written in November 2010.)
And speaking of empty buildings, I see that Newton's on State Street has closed. At least it lasted longer than the previous two restaurants in that space, Courtney's and Trumpets.

Taking action

I took a three-hour First Aid/CPR/AED class last night at the Exelon office building. It was excellent, and I appreciated the variety of methods that Glenn, the American Red Cross instructor, used: lecture, videos, discussion, demonstrations and actual practice using class members and mannequins.
One thing the instructor stressed was the importance of recognizing that an emergency exists and taking action. I think a lot of us are so used to being spectators -- we grew up watching TV, after all -- that we see ourselves as bystanders rather than as participants in what's going on.
I noticed that when I was fence-judging last week. When a horse fell at my fence, it took me a split second to realize that I wasn't sitting at home watching sports on TV; it was my responsibility to get up and do something.
By the way, just FYI, the Red Cross certification is good for two years now instead of only one year. Also, check out whether your health-insurance plan covers the cost of the course ($71). Mine did.

Walking out

This damp morning I helped exercise some Penn-Mary-Del foxhound puppies that will soon be out with the Andrews Bridge hunt field. It was their first time out on leashes, so you can imagine how excited they were to get out of the kennel. All the puppies in this year's three litters have names starting with M, and I walked Mary Kay and Mapquest and my friend Susan walked Manners. (Some of the others were Maybe, Mulan, and Makewell.)
They were so cute! The first time they encountered a log they had no clue what to do, so we helped them over. The second time, they were like, "Oh! A log! I can do this!"
It was a great workout being pulled around the fields and through the woods by these puppies.
When I got back home my own dog glared at me and sniffed my jeans like a suspicious spouse.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Newlyweds

I was walking to my car in a parking lot the other day and saw a pickup truck with "Happy Ever After" written in big blue letters on the back window. Aww, I thought, how sweet; that must've been the car that the bride and groom drove off in after the wedding.
I can tell you this: the honeymoon is over.
The wife was unloading the kids from the truck while shrieking at the husband, using a fluent stream of profanity. She made it very plain to everyone in earshot that she is not happy about being pregnant again, did not want to be sick and miss her own wedding, and does not appreciate the husband making her feel awful.
I didn't hear the husband's replies -- if he even got a chance to say anything.
It was a little depressing.
I mentioned this to a lawyer friend of mine, who promptly cited a case in which a man was arrested for violating a local law (she wasn't sure of the state) that banned cursing in front of minors; he uttered a curse word after his canoe tipped over. He was convicted but won on appeal on First Amendment grounds.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Road turn-back

If you're interested in hearing about West Marlborough Township's plans to take over maintenance responsibilities for certain rural roads from the state, there's a meeting at the township hall in Doe Run at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29. As a township resident who loves my rural road, I would be there, but alas it's the same night as the Denim & Diamonds opening night gala for the Unionville Fair.
And guess which event offers dinner catered by Triple Fresh.

Eventing event

I had a hugely fun day fence-judging at the Plantation Field International Horse Trials on Saturday. Twice before I'd helped out some friends who are experienced judges, and they (and the wonderful volunteer coordinator, Melissa) assured me I could handle it on my own -- though I begged to be assigned an easy, uncomplicated fence to monitor.
Your job as a cross-country fence judge is to sit at an obstacle and report in on your walkie-talkie whether each horse clears it, refuses, or falls. Mostly they clear it just fine, though there were plenty of falls at the challenging Fence 10A right next to mine, even among the highest-level riders.
Because you are right there where the action is, you get to hear the riders talking to their beautiful horses: "Good boy!" exclaimed one woman after her horse simply soared over the intimidating Fence 14B. And from where I was sitting, I could see the riders galloping full tilt (yes, time counts) south toward the fences closer to Route 82.
While concentrating on the rider numbers and who's coming next, you also have to play traffic cop. Folks aren't always aware that they are walking along a path that a galloping horse is going to be occupying in about 10 seconds. I got plenty of practice saying "Oi!" and "Yo!" and "Heads up!" in my best outside voice.
It take a lot to pull together a big three-day event like this, and I have to say that it was beautifully run. At the 7:30 a.m. briefing, the officials gave us clear explanations of what to do and what to watch out for (including any harsh treatment of horses). During one of the divisions I was assigned a slightly tricky fence where the riders had an option of what to do; before they started, the head guy came out and explained exactly what was and wasn't permitted.
When fences were damaged, the repair crews were there immediately. Folks in Gators drove around the course efficiently collecting our score sheets and passing out bottles of water.
Many of the competitors came up to me and thanked me for volunteering -- including some of the big names in the sport. Very nice.
To top it off we were even given coffee and donuts, a delicious lunch, and great T-shirts.
If you remember the weather Saturday, it was cloudy and a little bit chilly. Thank goodness I just happened to bring an extra pair of warm socks!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Worst. Day. Ever.

I think all of us of a certain age have one date in the year that kicks us in the teeth each time it rolls around. It's called an "anniversary reaction," and it's very real. For me it's Sept. 17, 2004, a day that started out with work and the gym and happily looking forward to weekend errands -- and ended up with a emergency trip to the hospital to find out that a loved one had just been diagnosed, out of the blue, with the disease, lung cancer, that would kill him three months later. 
I can't offer any wisdom that doesn't sound trite. Life can change drastically in a matter of seconds. Count your blessings every day and love your family and friends.
Oh, and don't smoke.

Hair of the dog

A friend's computer was acting up, running slowly and making alarming noises, so she took it to her computer place. The diagnosis: the insides of the computer were completely clogged with dog hair. The computer guys cleaned it up and updated her software and she is back in business.
Naturally, her three dogs didn't offer to help pay.

Garden surprises

I had two wonderful garden successes this year: the moonflower vine and the eucalyptus. The moonvine started out slowly but then wrapped itself not only around my lamppost but all the way up into the nearby evergreens. It has been flowering the past few weeks, big white sweet-smelling blooms that open up around suppertime.
The eucalyptus I planted in planters with geraniums, and the silver and red combination is very pleasing. I never would have thought of getting it until I saw some plants on a table outside the greenhouse where I was shopping this spring. I plan to cut it, dry it and use the fragrant leaves for therapeutic purposes if I get a cold this winter.
Don't forget to order your bulbs for fall planting! I decided to break with tradition and instead of my usual tulips I ordered 100 assorted daffodil bulbs and 50 crocus in what the catalog described as lavender shades.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Whip news

At the September West Marlborough Township meeting, Neil Land, the Whip's attorney, presented to the supervisors a proposed change to the township's zoning code that he said would allow the Whip more flexibility to find additional parking areas in Springdell for its patrons. (The lack of sufficient parking has been an ongoing headache, both for patrons of the popular bar and restaurant and some of the neighbors.)
The zoning changes, which would affect not only Springdell but also the village of London Grove, add four uses that would be permitted in the village residential zone:
  1. Restaurants (but not drive-through or fast-food ones)
  2. Nightclubs and taverns
  3. Offices
  4. Parking
Mr. Land argued that allowing small-scale businesses like these would be consistent with the history of villages and how they have traditionally been zoned. He also mentioned that passing an amendment like the one he proposed would bring to an end the lawsuits affecting the Whip. He said his client has appealed to the Court of Common Pleas the recent township Zoning Hearing Board decision that barred the Whip from using the house next door as an office or for storage.
Several of the neighbors who have complained for years that the Whip has a negative impact on their lives were at the meeting, along with one of their attorneys, Michael Gill. (They are the ones who brought the case before the Zoning Hearing Board.)
William Wylie, who chairs the Board of Supervisors, said the board would forward the proposed amendment to the township solicitor and then decide what the next step should be.




Marketing

A local small-business owner told me that over the summer she has been re-thinking her marketing strategy. She and her business partner have decided that instead of joining yet another business group, at a cost of several hundred dollars a year plus a monthly luncheon, they will spend the money on going out to lunch themselves. They are both sociable, pleasant women and realized that they inevitably end up chatting with a wide array of strangers in line or at the table next to them. What better opportunity to get to meet potential customers without having to do any high-pressure sales promotion, which is completely contrary to their nature?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Triathalon


A Marshalton resident was telling me that the Marshalton Triathalon on Sunday, Oct. 2, may have to change its route if the Northbrook Road bridge over the Brandywine isn't re-opened by then. The bridge has been undergoing extensive renovations since the early summer. Any updates to the 10-mile course will be posted on the triathalon's website, and competitors can register online through the site. This is the 38th year for the triathalon, which comprises canoeing, walking and biking legs.

Runnin' around my brain

After coffee with a friend at Landhope this beautiful morning, I was on my way home on Route 82. Near the elementary school a middle-aged jogger was trotting along on the shoulder of the road, and between him, my car and the oncoming tractor-trailer, it was a seriously tight fit.
Why on earth was he jogging on the narrow shoulder when there is a lovely, and much safer, brick sidewalk running alongside the road? I've been puzzling over that all day. Maybe he had a good reason, but as a runner myself I'm just not seeing it.
Also spotted in Unionville: the patriotic signs posted by Catherine's restaurant for the Sept. 11 anniversary. Just another reason this delightful place is way up there on my lunch playlist.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Plantation Field

You don't have to go far to attend a world-class eventing competition this weekend: the Plantation Field International Field Trials are being held at Plantation Field, along Route 82 between Green Valley and Tapeworm Roads, west of Unionville.
Katie Walker compares the sport of eventing to "a horse triathlon." The competitors participate in three phases over 3 days:
  • Friday, Sept. 16, is Dressage ("ballet for horses")
  • Saturday, Sept. 17, is Cross Country Jumping ("gallops across vast acres and jump whatever is on the course! BIG OBSTACLES - EXTREME riding, like the X GAMES of riding")
  • Sunday, Sept. 18, is Stadium Jumping  ("also BIG jumps but more traditional in style and contained in a ring or arena")
Going to an eventing competition is really lots of fun for spectators because you can get so close to the action. Plus, Katie notes, there are also shops and food and "great vibes." And all in a beautiful Unionville setting! For more information see http://www.plantationfieldhorsetrials.com/

Rainy season

So that's what they mean by "flash flood."
I was at my desk working all afternoon and heard the rain pelting down occasionally, but thought it was just a lot of rain.
Then I heard the dog barking like crazy, looked outside and saw a motorist backing up -- because the tiny creek in front of the house had flooded completely over the road!
I've never seen it like that. The water was flowing so fast that it looked like one of those infinity-edge pools, or the Eye of Water at Longwood Gardens. The drainpipe under the road where just days before, during the power outage, I had collected buckets of water to flush the toilet was almost completely submerged.

But the waters receded just as quickly; by the time I left home for dinner even my low-to-the-ground car made it through with no trouble.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Purple traps

A neighbor asked me to re-post the information that I ran earlier this year about those purple kite-like contraptions that you may have seen hanging from trees around here. They are traps for the emerald ash borer, a destructive insect that is moving east across Pennsylvania. The sticky traps, which are purple because the insect is attracted to the color, will enable wildlife officials to keep track of its spread.

Men at work

Workers have removed all the stucco from the office building on the southwest corner of Routes 82 and 926, revealing the stone work underneath. It should be beautiful after being repointed.
Further west on Route 926, in the village of London Grove, a handy construction guy has been completely replacing his front porch (his sign reads "A Touch of Class Construction," and the phone number is 610-268-0476). The other day I stopped for a moment and told him that I'd been following his progress and thought he was doing a really nice job. He grinned and thanked me and said to call if I ever had a project for him. I love a person who does a good job and takes pride in it.

A seedy story

A kind reader passed along the following: "Local sunflowers grown by the Hicks Brothers can be bought at Embreeville Mill. I get them and the birds love them!"
Most of my sunflowers got knocked over thanks to Irene's winds, so not only the birds but also the ground creatures are feasting on the seeds. But you can still see gorgeous fields of yellow and brown along Route 926, east of Willowdale, and on Wollaston Road, between Route 842 and 926.

Litterbugs

I just received a tip about some local workers who "sit on West Road in the morning to eat their breakfast before they head to work and then proceed to throw all of their trash out of their cars right on the road. I've had my ideas in the past of who was doing it but I actually caught one of them this am on my way to work! Just a thought...maybe if they are called out they will at least take their trash with them and we can maintain our beautiful surroundings."
Consider it done!

Watch out for Redcoats

The presidential stride, the distinctive nose, and the neat gray ponytail were unmistakable: I was sharing the track at the Kennett Y with General George Washington!
Or, at least, Carl Closs, the Kennett Square man who portrays our first president at presentations for schoolkids and business and community groups. According to his website, "Carl is a former educator and senior business executive who has dedicated his retirement toward helping children and adults discover George Washington."
Yes, he was wearing a uniform, but not his dashing military one: only sweatpants and a gray Y T-shirt.

Role models

My friend Betsy Ward Cagle was reminiscing the other day about a truly remarkable human being, the late Averell Penn Smith Walker (Mrs. Joseph Walker), who was Mrs. Hannum's sister. She writes:
"She was an amazing woman who was paralyzed in a racing accident in 1960, and there is not a day that goes by that she doesn't cross my mind. Someone asked her why no handicapped sticker for car and she said, "the only thing I can't do that you can is walk." I never once heard her complain about her situation." "She loved her sons, racing, her broodmares and her Norwich terriers. She called Dave [Leinhauser] and me the day before she died and I had the final opportunity to tell her we loved her and I'm so glad I said it. There will never be another Mrs. H or Mrs. W. Amazing women."

Birthday cake

For my birthday over the weekend, my family and a couple of special friends had a wonderful dinner at Floga Bistro and then went to the home of the senior Tally-hos for dessert and presents. Imagine the laughter when my mother and sister-in-law presented me with a chocolate-frosted birthday cake that read "Happy Birthday Tilda"!
A younger member of the family saw this and immediately knew what was coming.
"You're going to write about this, aren't you," he said.
You bet!
By the way, the cake was from Giant and it was delicious.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strasburg Road trip

On Tuesday I had an errand to run in West Chester and some spare time, so I decided to take Strasburg Road all the way into town, because for the first time in seemingly ages there are no road closures.
So I took Route 82 to the Triple Fresh Market (spiffy new signs), made a right and just kept going.
There were so many interesting sights along the way that next time I'm going to have somebody else drive so I can just goggle. I crossed the new Mortonville bridge and passed through Mortonville, the former home of Dugal's Inn (only the sign remains) and a long-closed bar on Creek Road that's now completely overgrown with vines. I saw one property where the homeowners apparently got fed up with mowing and replaced their entire lawn with dark-brown stones. A church's sign said it was offering a "backpack blessing" to mark the beginning of the school year. The abandoned brick buildings of the former Embreeville Hospital are boarded up and crumbling.
For once you can drive all the way through Marshallton, though the road improvements still aren't completed. At least I hope they're not, because the rumble strip that's supposed to run down the middle of the road is, instead, right where your driver's side tire is.
I spotted a couple of beautifully maintained old houses, right on the road, and I saw a few historical markers along the way but didn't get out and read them because it was pouring. Next time, definitely.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

How true!

A local gentleman told me that while on vacation, he was offered the chance to take several "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"-type tours, but he declined.
"If I'd wanted to see that," he said, "I'd've stayed home."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Open space

I received a flier urging residents to attend the next meeting of the Newlin Township supervisors, which will be held at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, in the hall behind the Unionville Post Office. The topic, once again, is the township's proposed purchase of a lot on Stargazers Road adjoining the historic Star Gazer's Stone. The township will buy the lot only if it receives a state grant to do so, and will keep it as open space, but apparently at least one neighbor objects to the idea.
The August meeting at which the controversy was aired drew a packed house; one resident told me he had never seen so many cars in Unionville.
According to Wikipedia, the stone "marks the site of a temporary observatory established in January 1764 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon which they used in their survey of the Mason-Dixon line."




Friday, September 2, 2011

Dollars and nonsense

I serve on the board of a local nonprofit organization, and back in June we had to make some changes to our bank account. The board president and I stopped by a local branch, and our experience could have been a case study of how not to treat customers.
One worker admitted that the bank had changed hands so many times that she wasn't sure of the correct procedure anymore. A boss cheerfully told one of her employees, in our earshot, that she could use us for practice, as she had never performed that specific transaction before. At one point I had to tell an employee how to do a computer search (the software wasn't DOS-based, but it was pretty close).
So far, so bad, but the worst was yet to come: we found out that the bank had never updated its list of authorized check-signers for our account. There were one guy listed who had not been a board member for years. Despite this, our checks were still being cashed.
We left the bank feeling queasy, and several more problems that cropped up over the next few months were the final nails in the coffin.
So the same woman and I returned to the bank to close our account. We had our game plan all ready, but much to our surprise they closed our account with no questions asked and simply handed over a cashier's check. No expressions of regret, no inquiries about why we were closing the account or what they could do to keep us as customers.
Something's wrong when it's much easier and more pleasant to close an account than to open one.

Immoderate rain and waters

Saturday morning, pre-Irene, a friend was telling me about a lecture she's organizing on Civil War surgery, complete with a demonstration. From there we started talking about how risky childbirth was back then, and how common it was for both the baby and the mother to die.
At that point I realized that in comparison to what our ancestors went through on a daily basis, the lengthy power outage that was almost certain to start that evening would be a painless and very minor hassle. And I vowed to remain cheerful throughout.
I think I did -- but only thanks to some awesome friends and neighbors who let me use their showers, e-mail access and electrical outlets and kept me wonderfully amused.
Herewith, some anecdotes.