Saturday, March 31, 2012


The "Wall Street Journal" had an amusing piece about people who still use their "ancient" (meaning, maybe seven years old) cell phones, whether for thrift, because of inertia or even by preference. I'm enough of a pack rat to save my old phones, even though they don't work anymore, so I pulled them out this morning and had a laugh thinking of how trendy I felt with each upgrade. That one on the left isn't even my first -- that honor went to a classic clunky Nokia, whereabouts unknown, that did yeoman's duty back in 2004.
Also in the drawer with the phones were about a dozen charging cords, instruction manuals and I think even some old landline jacks. Definitely time to do some spring cleaning!

Four Dogs

I  had a nice lunch outside on the patio at Four Dogs in Marshallton yesterday, but it was still chilly enough to enjoy their delicious French onion soup. Marshallton, which has always been a charming town, is looking positively rejuvenated after undergoing a streetscape makeover, with nice brickwork, sidewalks and parking spaces along Strasburg Road.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Beep beep beep

Thanks to John and Anne Moss, Blow Horn once again has a Blow Horn sign. The old sign, painted on the corner of the mill at Routes 82 and 841 here in West Marlborough, was either painted over by the new occupant or eroded away (take your pick) last fall, prompting something of an outcry from tradition-loving locals. The Mosses, who live across the street, have erected a beautiful replacement sign in their yard.
(Thanks to Jackie at Country Properties for alerting me to this wonderful news!)

Found Money

When was the last time you saw a $2 bill? It was yesterday, for me. I (or, rather, "Current Resident") received a snail-mail letter asking me to participate in some kind of an ongoing survey called "Screenwise Select Panel." "By participating, you will help Google understand how people like you use media by watching TV and using computers, tablets and smartphones."
It seems they're going to pay people for giving their opinions, and as a token of their good faith enclosed a $2 bill, which I promptly pocketed.
Two days later I got another letter from these people, this time with five brand-new $1 bills. They enclosed a brochure with more details about this "exciting and very important" and "path-breaking research." The more I read, the more appalled I was. They want to install a wireless router that keeps track of your Internet, TV and smart phone use, including what websites you visit, so they can share the data with "university researchers and Internet and advertising industries."
Naturally, they pledge to keep all information confidential -- "in accordance with our privacy policy." No doubt.
Thanks for the seven bucks, guys, but I have absolutely no intention of exchanging my privacy for pocket change.

Nearer my God

Why, you may ask, am I seeing so many articles about the "Titanic"? It's because April 14 is the 100th anniversary of that North Atlantic tragedy, which killed 1,517 of the ship's 2,240 occupants. I'm reading a book called "Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From" by Richard Davenport-Hines and I highly recommend it: it's beautifully written and thoroughly researched and I've found only two typos so far (and, oddly, in the same line: "Meadeville, Pennylvania"). As you might guess from the title, the author focuses on the lives of the people involved in the tragedy and also does a riveting job describing the night of the accident and the short- and long-term repercussions it had around the world.
"Downton Abbey" fans will recall the pivotal role that the sinking of the "Titanic" plays in the plot: it kills off a key heir. Appropriately enough, there's a testimonial on the book jacket from Julian Fellowes, the creator and executive producer of "Downton Abbey": "An astonishing work of meticulous research, which allows us to know, in painful detail, the men and women on that fateful voyage. Even now, a hundred years later, Mr. Davenport-Hines finds a new and heartbreaking story to tell."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tick ... tick ... tick

"Ticks: They're Back Big-Time" reads the headline in the Wall Street Journal. I can vouch for that. I was on the phone Monday evening when I felt something little and hard stuck to my scalp. Sure enough, it was a tick, but fortunately only a dog tick, not the tiny Lyme-carrying variety. I pulled it out, stuck it between two pieces of tape, and daubed some alcohol on the spot. Friends have reported pulling ticks off their horses and dogs all winter: it just didn't get cold enough to kill the little pests.

Monday, March 26, 2012


People who stayed home from the Cheshire Point-to-Point Races because of the cloudy sky and the 47-degree temperature on Sunday morning made a really regrettable decision. By 1 p.m. the temperature started rising toward 60, the sun broke through and it turned into a beautiful afternoon at Plantation Field.
The inclement weather of the morning even gave a member of our party a chance to display her hunt-field hardiness. Yes, she admitted, it was certainly chilly, but at least there were no hornets buzzing around the trash cans! And one of the jockeys told me the weather and the footing were perfect for racing.
The jockeys are without a doubt the rock stars of the day. A friend said that seeing them getting ready for the race reminded him of watching astronauts walking to their rocket before a space shot: "Oh! Look! Is that one of them?"
I loved seeing the adorable kids on their ponies in the first two races. One little boy crossed the finish line but then started leaning precariously in his saddle, tilting a little further with each stride. Fortunately an outrider was right there to help him.
It was the first steeplechase for one friend of mine, and she was thrilled at how the spectators are right there on the course. (In fact, the outriders have quite a job keeping people out of harm's way.) I heard from her afterwards and she was exhausted from both following the action on the racecourse and wandering from one tailgate party to the next. (Props to Hood's in Unionville for some excellent subs and the best macaroni salad I've ever had.)
Great job by the entire race committee for organizing this lovely event.

On the move

Unionville Feed & Pet has purchased the Ace Hardware store in Pocopson and will be moving there by the end of July. I saw Ed at the Cheshire races on Sunday and he told me that they'll have much more room there and a bigger selection of products.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Testing... testing...

This time of year we read a lot of serious stories about PSSAs and how important they are, how they affect school districts' reputations and hence property values, etc. Those quoted in these stories are all worried-sounding adults. I thought I'd get a different viewpoint: someone who actually takes the tests.
So how did they go? I asked the elementary-school member of the Tally-ho family.
Good, he said. He liked the math test better than the reading one, but he found neither one particularly challenging. He couldn't remember any especially interesting problems.
Had he made any special preparations for the tests?
"Not really," he said. "I felt confident."
Next up is the science PSSA, as well as a writing test: a five-page essay (which I know he will totally ace).
He said what most impressed him about the whole experience was that the teachers allowed the kids to have extra recess time outside after the tests. Now there's incentive!

One-track mind

A dear friend spent a fair amount of time last week at New Bolton Center, where her horse underwent surgery for a sesamoid problem. He is back home now and has a veterinary nurse visiting every other day, but naturally, my friend has been beside herself with anxiety.
She phoned the other night and reported in great detail how the patient was standing, eating and behaving. In an attempt to distract her for even a moment, I told her that I had slept over at the home of a friend who is convalescing and needs a watchful eye.
"It was a very uneventful night, thank goodness," I said.
"Yes, I got up at about 2 and went out and checked on him, and he seemed alright," she said.
I gave up on further attempts to change the topic, and not for the first time had to smile to myself at how devoted people are to their horses.

Kindness of strangers

Andrew Forsthoefel, who describes himself as "a 23-year-old wonderer, wanderer, whathaveyou" from Chadds Ford, is on a cross-country walking tour in search of "the most basic human interface of them all: stories. Every one of us has an extraordinary story worth hearing, and I’m walking the country to listen."
He left home on Oct. 14, heading south, and is crossing Texas right now. You can follow along on his blog, "Walking to Listen," which he updates regularly with stories and photos. In the post I just read, he takes time to thank dozens of folks who have helped him out with everything from kind words to rides to accommodations to food (like a barbeque sausage, rice, and beans lunch, "a bomb seafood dinner," and "some ambrosial rabbit" down South).

Call to order

Just a heads up that the monthly West Marlborough Township meeting will be Tuesday, April 3. If you've been reading my accounts of these municipal meetings month after month and want to experience them first-hand, now's your chance. The planning commission meets at 7 and the supervisors convene after they are done, usually around 7:30. Meetings are in the township garage in Doe Run.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Season in the sun

This spring is just too amazing. It's March, and I just came in from pulling up clumps of chickweed! The spirea is already in bloom, and the forsythia, magnolias and grape hyacinths seem to have popped out overnight.
Last fall you may remember that I bought and -- eventually -- planted a giant-size sack of daffodil bulbs "for naturalizing," and I think every one of them is in bloom right now. Some are classic yellow, some are pale yellow, some are frizzled, some have multiple flowers, some are fragrant. Really a magnificent display. Every vase that I own is full of them.
Another sign of spring: I had my first dish of ice cream at La Michoacana in Kennett (coffee), and I hear there was a line stretching out the door there on Friday afternoon.


Metabolic syndrome and Cushing's disease are well-known endocrine ailments in humans, but did you know that horses are susceptible to them, too? I didn't, until I went to an interesting lecture sponsored by Unionville Equine Associates. The vet who gave the talk was a representative from a veterinary pharmaceutical company, and not only does she have horses herself (Tennessee Walkers) but she is obviously a pro at public speaking: she taped her next-to-invisible portable mike to her cheek to prevent feedback.
These lectures always attract a knowledgeable crowd who want practical information that applies to their horse: How should the medication be given? Are the tablets scored? What about alternative medications? What blood tests are important for monitoring?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Through the grapevine

Game theorists like to talk about "zero-sum" outcomes, but at one of our local gyms I think we have a "zero-zero" one.
It seems a long-running Saturday morning Step Aerobics class was cancelled and replaced with a trendy Body Combat class. The Steppers, who are extremely loyal to their workout, were furious and felt betrayed and cheated, because there are already 11 other Body Combat classes on the schedule, but few other Step classes. The bulletin board in the lobby was full of complaints with exclamation points and underlining.
Well, it turns out that the Saturday morning slot is indeed drawing a huge number of Body Combat participants.
So many, in fact, that they're complaining the room is too small and they don't have enough space to move around. Nobody's happy.
I feel sorry for the beleaguered class scheduler, who is tasked with the sometimes-conflicting jobs of (1) keeping members happy and (2) bringing as many people as possible through the door.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hey hey

The other day I was in Barnes & Noble in Exton and Monkees songs were being played on the store's PA system. I hadn't heard some of these songs in 40 years -- "Stepping Stone," "I Wanna Be Free," "Pleasant Valley Sunday" -- but I remembered every word of the lyrics like I had heard them yesterday. Amazing what sticks in our brains!
I didn't realize that Monkee Davy Jones, who died Feb. 29, was an avid horse person: he worked as a jockey in his pre-Monkee days and actually suffered his fatal heart attack in his stable. There's a memorial show at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Manhattan on April 3, and according to the website "all proceeds and donations from the show will go toward the Davy Jones Equine Memorial Fund for the care of the horses he loved."

I Found It

So I'm sitting in my car outside Two Bala Plaza in Bala Cynwyd after visiting my accountant, and I decide to check my e-mail before hitting the Expressway home.
And there it is, the Holy Grail: I'm in a 4G zone! I'd never seen that icon before, just 1, 2, and 3G. If I'd had more time I would've downloaded music and videos just to see if it's as lightning-fast as promised.
An odd aside is that when I stopped for coffee an hour earlier, just a few miles away on Montgomery Avenue, I could get only a poor signal. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Another kind of riding

I spent Saturday in Fairmount Park watching my nephew riding in the "Schuylkill Scrambler" collegiate cycling race. Whether the day was a success depends on your viewpoint. My highly competitive nephew certainly didn't think so, because he didn't win (a kid from Williams did). But his mother did, because he completed the 31.5-mile race unscathed; she was apprehensive, to put it mildly.
It didn't help matters when I asked him before the race where we should stand to get the best view.
"Well, it depends if you want to see crashes," he said matter-of-factly.
And of course there is no maximum age for causing maternal anxiety: my brother rode his bike from Chadds Ford into Philadelphia to join us. Fortunately our mother didn't find out about that one until he was safely back home.
"Remind your brother," she said to me acidly, "he is not 25 any more."
It was a beautiful warm day and I was amazed at how many colleges were represented: Harvard, Brown, West Point, MIT, Shippensburg, Kutztown, Penn, Penn State, Drexel and Dickinson are just a few I remember. Villanova and Yale seemed especially organized, bringing along folding tents and chairs and stationary bikes so their cyclists could stay warmed up. Driving home on the Expressway I saw van after van loaded up with bikes. (Speaking of the ride home: from the Girard Avenue on-ramp to I-76 westbound, there was not a single traffic light until Route 82 and Lincoln Highway in Coatesville. Made amazing time.)

See and be seen

The Chester County Historical Society has set a new standard for what a gala ought to be. Their party on Friday at Westtown School was just awesome: plenty of amazing food, lots of nice people and a beautiful array of antiques.
A friend had seen the menu and suggested that I arrive hungry, which I did. There were not just butlered hors d'oeuvres; there was also a pasta station, a roast beef station, an artisanal cheese station, a seafood station (shrimp and oysters), and then finally a dessert station. All really delicious. And I greatly appreciated the fact that next to the roast beef station there were actually tables where you could comfortably use a knife and fork to cut your meat, rather than trying to do so while juggling your plate, your drink and your program.
Saying that there were lots of Unionville folks there would be an understatement. One especially popular friend said she was going to have to come back to see the antiques because every single time she'd head for a booth, she'd run into somebody else and get involved in another conversation.
The antiques were lovely and it seemed like the dealers were getting really creative, bringing an assortment of items instead of the usual candlestands and highboys (though there were plenty of those, and the $55,000 secretary with original feet, brasses and finish was stunning).
One dealer displayed a delightful and unusual Audubon print of four little mice with a large and well-munched-on wheel of cheese. One of the mice was standing upright on his hind legs in the foreground, and the woman I was chatting with speculated that he was the PR person for the mouse group. Either that, or their look-out.

In another booth I saw one couple who are prominent in the carriage-driving world looking at a copper horse that, I imagine, once sat atop a weather vane. The dealer, who was from out of the area, approached them with a smile.
"Do you like horses?" he asked hopefully.
I hope the historical society raises lots of money. It was a great party and I can only imagine the hours that the committee spent planning and making umpteen decisions (and yes, we did notice the tasteful blue-and-white plates at the food stations).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Trash talk

Now here is a terrific idea from a Facebook friend and a good citizen of the Earth!
"I live in Pennsbury Township, and enjoy running on Pocopson, Chandler, Brintons Bridge Rds etc., and was disgusted seeing how much trash is littered on the sides of the roads. I pass walkers and runners daily, and was appalled by the lack of cans in streams, etc.
On my next walk, I took 2 bags, one for recycleables, and one for trash, and spent 1 hour walking about 2 miles, and picked up trash on one side of Chandler. I had over 40 lbs. of trash.
A challenge to your readers: next time they go for a stroll on our beautiful and pristine views, take 2 bags and pick up trash. They may just find how good they feel, and how little effort it is.
Let’s keep Southern Chester County scenic!"

Ollie's Bargain Outlet

A reader alerted me to the fact that there's a new store going on at the old Acme supermarket in New Garden. Habitat for Humanity's "Restore" has been there for a while, and "Ollie's Bargain Outlet" will join it on April 4. I drove by and saw "help wanted" signs, along with a few workers sitting out on the curb taking a break from getting the store stocked and ready to open. Based on a quick look through the door, the merchandise appears to be similar to the Dollar store and the Big Lots already in that shopping center. According to its website, Ollie's is "the Mid-Atlantic's largest retailer of close-outs, surplus and salvage merchandise" and its slogan is "Good Stuff Cheap!"
And Reader Nancy alerted me to "all the building and rebuilding of homes and barns on Mill Road. A lot of stone walls, fencing, plantings etc. Looks like a first-class job not to mention the expense." I took a drive by and she is certainly right -- there were a dozen work trucks in there, and the big barn that is being rebuilt looks terrific. (This is the farm with the quarter-mile-long white wall that a friend of mine has dubbed the Great Wall of Kennett.)

Non-bumper sticker

While sitting in traffic on Route 1 between Longwood Gardens and Route 1, I noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. Its topic was politics, but far more interesting was its location: it wasn't on the bumper; it was on the trunk lid.
Now why would someone put a bumper sticker facing upward? Is the intended audience only people who drive SUVs and pickups and sit up high? If so, what kind of a demographic would that be, Red or Blue?
Alternatively, is there a dent or stain on the trunk lid the owner wanted to cover?
Between pondering those questions and watching the road machinery grinding up the pavement, I was amply entertained.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


This item is going to make you hungry.
Two local emergency medical services folks, Tammy Whiteman (EMS coordinator at Longwood Fire Company) and Jerry Peters (ALS program director at West Chester's Good Fellow Ambulance Club's Training Institute), won first prize in a cooking contest at a national emergency medical services convention in Baltimore on March 2.
The contestants had to create a dinner that included flank steak, red onion, white button mushrooms, mayo and roasted red pepper. Tammy and Jerry cooked up an open-faced steak sandwich with a bacon, mushroom and red wine sauce, and served it with roasted red potatoes and an iceberg lettuce wedge with red pepper-ranch dressing and blue cheese.
The prize was an indoor grill.
(The keynote speaker at the convention was Randolph Mantooth, who played Johnny Gage, a Los Angeles paramedic, in the 1970s TV program Emergency! And while checking the spelling of his name online, I found a Chester County link: Mantooth spent part of his childhood in Coatesville and even sold newspapers for the "Coatesville Record.")


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Farm labor

I visited a friend's farm on a recent warm, sunny Sunday and stopped halfway up the driveway to say hi to her husband, who was spreading a mixture of grass seed and crabgrass retardant. After that, he told me, he had some bulbs to plant. And if the light held out, he was even going to tackle the manure pile, which was so full that his wife could barely dump a wheelbarrow into it.
This guy's enthusiasm for doing physical labor around the farm and operating heavy machinery tickles me to no end. Here is a man with a very responsible, demanding job who wears a suit to work (except on casual Friday). He handles big chunks of other people's money. He has assistants working for him.
And yet, as soon as he leaves the office, he sheds his executive persona and puts behind him the quirks of the stock market and his clients. I think it's very healthy: You should see him grinning as he drives up the steep driveway in the front-end loader, ready to dump a pile of manure.


The March issue of "Town & Country" magazine has a nice piece about family ties in the Cheshire Hunt. "As a rule it's mothers who teach the next generation to ride to the hounds," writes the author, Roger Morris. Appropriately enough, among the photographs that accompany the story are a shot of legendary Master of Foxhounds Mrs. Hannum in 1975, and a photo of one of her great-granddaughters hunting today.


What's that tiny blue flower springing up all over your lawn?
It's called speedwell (Veronica persica), which according to my field guide is a reference to how quickly it spreads. It's a widespread annual. Wikipedia says it has no known horticultural use, other than as a harbinger of spring.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Praise for our firefighters

Hats off to the firefighters who battled the remote Quonset hut fire in Newlin Township on Saturday evening. The metal outbuilding, which housed antique farm equipment, was located a mile off Brandywine Drive, up a steep gravel driveway -- which meant the firefighters had to lay a LOT of line to get water up to the scene.
A friend who was following along on the scanner in real time said the firefighters kept looking for more water, in addition to using the Brandywine Creek. (Memo to self: Download scanner app.)
I was at home at the time of the blaze and heard lots of sirens -- eventually five fire companies were summoned (Modena, West Bradford, Po-Mar-Lin, East Brandywine and Westwood), and Route 162 and Strasburg Road were temporarily closed. A friend who lives on top of a hill in Newlin reported she could see thick black smoke pouring from the scene.
I can't say enough about our volunteer firefighters. Once again, there they were when they were needed, doing really hard, hazardous, dirty and smelly work.
(What, you may ask, is a Quonset hut? It's a prefabricated building made of corrugated metal that was used to house military personnel, offices and equipment during World War II. There was one near our house when I was growing up in the 1960s, and I seem to recall a series of bohemian families occupying it.)

Health and food

Much to his credit, a retired Kennett friend has embarked on a new fitness program. He joined the Snap Fitness facility at the little strip mall east of Wal-mart and signed up for several sessions with a personal trainer. All is going well: he likes his trainer and certainly feels like he's getting a workout.
And he has an excellent motivation for exercising: he is a sociable fellow, and working out allows him to indulge in restaurant food more often.
For instance, on Saturday I had a craving for sushi and asked him to join me for lunch. Where do you want to go, I asked: Kyoto or Lily's (we like both)?
Kyoto, he said without hesitation. The reason: Snap Fitness is just a few doors down, so he'd be able to exercise after lunch.
What's funny is that the Snap Fitness gym in Avondale is also in a shopping center with a tasty sushi restaurant (Sake Hana). I wonder if that's in the location advice given to franchisees? 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"B" Happy

There is no happier, more wholesome or more efficient loop than the Bakers at Red Lion, Baily's Dairy and Barnard's Orchards. I just completed the trip and bought a bap, a brownie and a loaf of French bread; a bottle of milk; and vegetables, cider and fresh flowers. Wonderful! Not only are you getting superb products and visiting fun places, but you're also supporting local businesses run by your neighbors.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stars without makeup

Before having her new passport photo taken, a friend of mine had her face tastefully "done" by a professional makeup artist so she wouldn't have one of those mugshots that embarrass so many travelers.
The only problem is, she wears makeup for special occasions only. So on her trip to Australia, she said, the guard at every security checkpoint did a visible double-take when comparing the cosmetically enhanced photo to her everyday face.
"No makeup," she explained simply.

Traps for bugs

My high-school friend Eric is one of the few people who actually gets excited about stink bugs -- but that stands to reason, considering that his Exton company, nth Solutions, makes stink bug traps. Here's his response to last week's item about how we were getting off relatively lightly so far this year.
"It's still waaaaaaaay too early for the little fellas! Peak indoor infestations begin closer to the end of March and will last through mid-May. The ones coming out now are responding to convection heating of the walls and attics, but most will remain dormant (overwintering) for at least a few more weeks. Here's hoping for a banner year and LOTS of trap sales!!!"
Thanks for that, Eric.
And don't forget about the stink bug sticker made by Kennett's own Hal Lewis! The "Stik-a-Bug," available at Hal's State Street auto service shop, is a long-handled device with a sticky pad that traps the insects.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Clothes and the man

Though relations have thawed appreciably in recent months between billionaire Dick Hayne and his neighbors here in West Marlborough, Mr. Hayne and Urban Outfitters, the company he founded and runs, are still attracting plenty of controversy elsewhere, reports the "Philadelphia Business Journal."
Urban Outfitters drew the wrath of the Navajo Nation by selling a line of clothes, including women's underwear, with purportedly Navajo motifs. The tribe has sued, saying this infringes on their trademark.
And the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs asked the company to pull its St. Patrick's Day T-shirts, which linked Irish people and heavy drinking (for instance, a green T-shirt with the wording "I'm a Drinker, Not a Fighter" and a another saying "Irish I Were Drunk").

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Local government

Nothing dramatic happened at the West Marlborough Township supervisors' meeting on Tuesday, March 6, just the day-in-day-out stuff that townships do.
1. The supervisors heard about a July 4 bike race (with time trials the day before) that's going to start at Brooklawn, Mrs. Hannum's former home, on Newark Road. The cyclists will ride out to Chatham and back over a 13-mile loop.
2. Wayne Grafton, currently an alternate member of the township's Zoning Hearing Board, will be asked to join the board as a full member to replace Charlie Brosius, who has retired.
3. In an effort to resolve the ongoing dispute between The Whip tavern and some of its disgruntled neighbors in Springdell, Supervisor Bill Wylie announced that two private meetings have been held between all the parties and one of the supervisors. (Under the state's "Sunshine Law" all municipal business must be done in public, which means supervisors aren't allowed to discuss township matters in private, except for a few exceptions like legal and personnel matters. By limiting participation in these meetings to only one supervisor, the board is avoiding even the appearance of improper private discussion.)
4. The township hasn't heard anything more about Dick Hayne's greenhouse complex at his Doe Run Farm in Springdell. Last year he filed an application seeking permission to process vegetables that he grows there, but then withdrew the application and hasn't refiled it.
5. The supervisors want to increase by two the size of the township's Planning Commission.
See? I told you it wasn't much. Even so, it attracted the usual crowd of about 25 citizens who like to keep up with what's going on.

Frailty, thy name is ...

Over the weekend a friend of mine took advantage of the glorious sunshine to take a hike with her boyfriend and four dogs in the beautiful ChesLen Preserve. Alas, about a quarter-mile in, she slipped while crossing a creek and broke her ankle. Thank goodness for cell phones! Her boyfriend phoned her parents, who arrived promptly from Cochranville. Her mother splinted the ankle, and her boyfriend and her father managed to carry her out to the road, setting her down several times. Her mother took charge of the dogs.
They headed to the ER at Chester County Hospital, where the doctor applied a temporary cast, and the next stop was the orthopaedist.
My friend is an English teacher, and I'm told she was due to start teaching "Hamlet" today. That's appropriate: didn't Ophelia have an unfortunate encounter with a body of water as well?


Some young people, like the irresponsible Richard Carston in "Bleak House," just can't seem to "settle" into an occupation. Others have always known exactly what they want to do. A friend was telling me that her son, who will graduate this year with a mechanical engineering degree, just landed a job designing equipment for a major farm-machinery manufacturer. As a boy, she said, he loved tractors, to the point that he would haunt the local lawn-equipment store and deplete their stocks of promotional literature. As a teenager, he even became certified in the products made by what will soon be his employer. That might just have clinched the job interview, don't you think?

Good eats

If you should find yourself (a) hungry and (b) up in the Exton area, I recommend Bistro 24, a revamped diner at the corner of Route 100 and Marchwood Road, between the Exton crossroads and Lionville. I've been there twice in the past week, and the food and service are excellent. It's got all the usual comfort food -- breakfast, club sandwiches, meatloaf -- and something you don't often see in Chester County: a falafel platter! Yum! At lunch the other day I had tuna salad on a croissant, and for dessert a big piece of strawberry shortcake. The latter was so good that a woman at a neighboring table saw ours and ordered a piece herself.
I'm assuming the name comes from the fact that the place is open 24/7.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On the market

A Newlin friend of mine sent me the listing for her neighbor's house, which just went on the market. The ad says that the house is "in the heart of horse country" (that's for sure) and then gives a bizarre little paragraph describing Unionville: "Unionville, Pennsylvania, in Chester county, is 14 miles NW of Wilmington, Delaware (center to center) and 30 miles W of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Unionville residents donated more money to George W. Bush than to the other candidates in the 2004 Presidential race. Across all electoral races, the Republican party attracted the most donations from the town."
The locator map, however, showed the "other" Unionville, the one north of State College, so I'm not sure whether the information about our largesse to W applies to here or there. 

Open House

Brenda Hillard, who owns Tender Touch in Ercildoun, is celebrating the tack and gift shop's 17th anniversary "in this beautiful community" with an open house on Saturday, March 24, and Sunday, March 25. There will be refreshments and door prizes, and Brenda says that "many of our local artists, crafters and authors will be at the shop throughout the weekend. A special thank you to those who have supported my business throughout the years."
Tender Touch is, of course, right next to the Triple Fresh market at Route 82 and Buck Run Road.


A giant thanks to the kind readers who take the time to send me fan mail. Last week Susan Ross Clark, a local woman who now lives in New York, shared an excellent scary story about her encounter with a possible Yeti in Unionville. And this week Jean Baiordi suggested that I check out Spring Run Natural Foods on Route 1 -- where Phillips Mushroom Museum used to be -- while waiting, and waiting, and WAITING for the Whole Foods supermarket to open on Concord Pike. "I'm sure you will find the man helpful who works there," she said.
And thanks, also, to the many readers who send me story ideas, and my wonderful friends who do and say such amusing things that I simply have to write about them. You know who you are. And a shout-out to Eileen's friends, the Moms at the Kennett Co-op!


Last week I wrote about a rider (and faithful Tilda reader) whose filly took a tumble after being spooked by a speeding vehicle at Route 926 and Lamborntown Road. Our West Marlborough Township police officer, Bob Clarke, promptly headed out there and wrote some speeding tickets.
The response from the rider: "Happy doesn't describe the feeling I had when I saw people riding their brakes past the intersection... I knew he was down the road before I even saw him! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!"
Alas, a prominent local jockey (and very nice guy) reported on his Facebook page over the weekend that he had an unpleasant encounter with a group of bicyclists. 
"While riding today I asked the cyclists to wait till I got in the driveway so the horse didn't kick anyone, but as they couldn't wait I said, guys, I want to get off the road before you pass." The response to his reasonable request was short and unprintable. 
"Worst is, only a month ago my horse spooked at the bikes. I fell off as he tripped himself up spooking and got loose -- and not one person stopped to see if all was ok."
I know that most bicyclists are polite and responsible -- but others are rude, leave litter behind and ride side by side and refuse to pull over. Show some respect!

Monday, March 5, 2012

No snow

We're into March, and I fear that the window of opportunity for having a proper winter storm with heaps of snow is rapidly closing. The crocus are in bloom, daylight savings time is approaching, and my heating bill has plummeted. But looking on the bright side, at least our local municipalities are saving lots of money, not having to pay for snowplowing and salting. And the school district hasn't had to extend the school year to make up for snow days.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


How's the stinkbug situation in your home? It's not bad at all here. I'm getting maybe a half-dozen a day, mostly on walls, windows, pillows, and power cords, and perhaps one will spray me with its foul stench. And on Sunday evening when I went to check my schedule for this coming week, two of them were nestled in my schedule-book. But it's a far cry from last year, when the walls and ceilings were simply covered with the pests and you'd find them inside your shirt sleeves and pant legs. I'll leave it to the entomologists to explain why.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Calling all Pennocks

Those of you who are descendents of Joseph Pennock might be interested in attending a family reunion -- an "informal picnic-style event, with a mix of history, genealogy and camaraderie" -- at the family homestead in West Marlborough, Primitive Hall, on July 14. For more information, e-mail or visit the Hall's website,


The other day I was driving through Jennersville and could hardly believe my eyes: I saw a bald eagle in flight! The huge, magnificent bird -- "unmistakeable," as my Audubon guidebook says -- was soaring gracefully over the Red Rose Inn and then headed north, circling over the Route 1 bypass intersection. I had seen bald eagles nesting just down river of the Conowingo Dam in Maryland, but I had never seen one this far north.
Speaking of the Conowingo Dam, it's well worth a family trip. It's a short drive down Route 1 into Maryland. My friend John's father helped construct the hydroelectric power plant back in the late 1920s, and the postcard is a souvenir from a visit that his parents made on Sunday, Feb. 12, 1950.

Check that box

If you're a post office boxholder like me, you probably received a renewal notice in your box this past week. For the first time, I paid the yearly fee online at the USPS website instead of dropping off a check. They make it very easy and quick to do, one of the more user-friendly sites I've dealt with recently.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Yesterday I borrowed my brother's gigantic King Ranch model (how appropriate!) Ford pickup to help a friend pick up some artwork and believe you me, I was very sad to return it to its rightful owner this afternoon. It was so much fun to drive! Clambering up into the cab was a bit of a stretch for this petite blogger, but once I was perched in the super-comfy heated leather seat, I could look down on even the Denalis and such. And pulling out from East Locust Lane onto Route 82, or from Lamborntown Road onto Route 842,  was a breeze because I could spot any oncoming traffic so easily. My friend's artwork stacked easily into the truck bed and didn't move a bit during the trip. In fact, we could have moved a whole lot more.
I was surprised how smooth the ride was and even more surprised when I managed to back it up perfectly between the white lines of a parking spot, on the first try.
One local gentleman who is still sad that I traded in my sports car for an SUV spotted me in it.
"Now THAT's what you should've bought, girl!" he said approvingly.

In compliance

West Marlborough's Zoning Hearing Board has decided that Linda Brown's personal-training business at her North Chatham Road home in Springdell can continue operating and now complies with the township's zoning.
The fact that Mrs. Brown was running a business out of her home was brought to the township's attention by K.C. Kulp, one of the owners of The Whip tavern in Springdell. (A bit of context: Linda and her husband Gus Brown are among those who have complained repeatedly that the Whip has been in violation of township zoning laws and is diminishing the quality of life in Springdell.) After receiving that information, the township zoning officer informed the Browns that they would need to apply for a special exception to continue running the business.
At a March 1 hearing, Gus Brown told the board that there was ample parking for his wife's clients, whom she sees one at a time; that she does not intend to hold group classes; and that there would not be a sign out front advertising the business.
Mr. Kulp showed the board photos of the lack of required screening between the Browns' home and their neighbors. He also pointed out that Cathy Huston, wife of zoning board member Joe Huston, is a client of Mrs. Brown's (the Hustons are also part of the group that has taken legal action against the Whip). Mr. Huston subsequently recused himself from the vote.
After voting 3-0 to approve the special exception, the zoning board instructed Mr. Brown to obtain within 30 days letters from his neighbors saying they didn't object to the lack of driveway screening between the Browns' home and theirs.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


This week two unexpected deaths made the headlines: Davy Jones, a pop star from my childhood, and Andrew Breitbart, a young man who lived atop the political blogosphere. But just as noteworthy around here was the death of my friend Bob Hennes. Bob was charming, amusing and well-informed, a wonderful storyteller and conversationalist, and a true gentleman. The tributes at his memorial service by Jon Olson and former Kennett Square Mayor Ed Fahey were both droll and sophisticated, just like the man himself. Rest in peace, Bob. We'll miss you.

Slow down!

A Facebook friend reports that she had a riding mishap on Lamborntown Road near Route 926. Her filly took a tumble, but it "was probably a blessing in disguise because it prevented her from bolting out in the road in front of the car that was tailing the massive truck that was driving down the road like it was I-95....We're both ok, but it's never good when a horse falls over on you... for the rider OR the horse."
Her advice? "Just wish people would slow down... Especially if they see horses along the roads."
Amen to that.

Good times

You think you're having a bad day? I just got an e-mail from a Unionville friend saying that a feral cat was wrapped around her ceiling fan. Oh, and her new car stopped running.