Friday, August 31, 2012


I had a splendid time this hot Friday afternoon in Kennett Square. First, at the Friday Farmer's Market, I bought some of Carol Krawczyk's amazing home-grown fresh Celeste figs. What a treat! Then I met a pal at the Half-Moon for a beer (alas, only hours before movie director Tim Burton showed up with his entourage), and afterward we walked over to La Pena Mexicana on Cypress Street to dine on their delicious tacos. En route my friend spotted some bills on the sidewalk and snatched them up with great alacrity. $31! Naturally, with a windfall like that, he sprung for our dinner.

In a fog

For once the Weather Channel got it right: this morning it displayed a little orange icon on my smartphone, which indicates that something's up, in this case what it called "patchy fog."
They weren't kidding. I was out in my car at about 7:30 a.m. (heading to a friend's house to shower) and it was spooky. I had noticed a cloud of fog hovering over the cornfields on my walk the previous evening, but this morning I was completely hemmed in by the white stuff and couldn't see beyond the fence lines on either side of my road. At one point three riders just materialized out of the fog.
By mid-morning it was gone completely, replaced by bright sunshine, but what a Gothic start to the day!

Hadley Fund

The schedule for this season's Hadley Memorial Fund programs is out; visit to see it. The 50th anniversary season will begin with a Sixties Celebration party and dance starting at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 29, at the Kennett Area Senior Center (a light supper is available to purchase). The first lecture of the season is "Disney and the Art of Transcending Science" by Jim Van Ostenbridge at Unionville High School at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12. As always, the lectures are free and open to all.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's back!

I'm sure you'll recall how, earlier this year, the beloved rabbit figure along Street Road at Schoolhouse Road was stolen by pranksters, then replaced, and then smashed by a vehicle.
Well, I drove by this morning on my way to Starbucks (the water at home is heavily chlorinated -- long story -- and it doesn't make for good coffee) and was delighted to see that the Bunny is back in place along the roadside.
Thank you to the family who tends to the rabbit; it means a lot to people. As one of my readers said, " Love the little things around the community that make me just feel a sense of belonging!" Said another: "All is right with the world again! Love that bunny!"


Mid-morning, a steady procession of cars was exiting the Route 1 bypass onto Route 82 south and then turning into Union Hill Cemetery. A group of VFW guys, in uniform, were already lined up at the gravesite, waiting for their part in the burial service. Everyone had gathered to pay their respects to yet another World War II veteran who had died, and I have to say that my eyes pricked a little at the thought that so many members of the Greatest Generation, along with all of the Holocaust survivors, are leaving us. Just this week I read an amazing piece about a 90-year-old woman and how she survived the Holocaust and was so glad that she had a chance to share her story.

On the shelf

R&P Nurseries is fixing the crumbling stone wall along the east side of Route 82 on the south side of Willowdale, across from the Willowdale Chapel. The nice new wall borders the level "shelf" where the trolley tracks used to run on the way to Kennett Square. You can see more remains of the "shelf" near the Kennett Country Club. (I know this only because I went to Ray McKay's fascinating lecture back in April about trolleys in our area, sponsored by the Southeastern Chester County Historical Society.)
And speaking of things historic, there's going to be a walking tour of Unionville on Thursday, Sept. 6, starting at 5:30 p.m., sponsored by the Chester County Parks & Recreation Department. "In the gently rolling Southeastern corner of Chester County lies the small village of Unionville, a community that dates back to the middle of the 18th century. Though locally manufactured brick is the predominant mode of construction, fine examples of stone and frame buildings also exist. Unionville Village has long played a vital role providing goods and services to area residents; this is still the case today." I plan to be there! (Please call to reserve a spot: 1-877-442-2476, ext. 111.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A good arm

Yesterday afternoon I was at a committee meeting: five ladies and a table full of fundraising letters to personalize. Fortunately we were outside on the porch of one of the most beautiful homes I know, overlooking a pond full of swans and geese.
One of the women started tossing tennis balls to the dog who was keeping us company, and we noted with some surprise how far and how hard she was throwing the balls. She has a good explanation: It turns out she used to be married to a Major League pitcher and would often "play catch" with him. Obviously, she hasn't lost her touch.

Thyme to change your password

A local garden center's Facebook page was hijacked by hackers who sent out a message to all the center's "friends" alerting them to a video that showed "somebody who looks like you" dancing. "Looks embarrassing!" said the message.
I knew instantly they'd been hacked because I for one haven't danced in any embarrassing videos in many years. But if anyone has a certain freshman orientation video I appeared in back in spring 1979 (I was cast as "the girlfriend"), I will pay well to get it back.

A tonic tonic

"Unionville in the News" reader Caroline sent the following note in reference to my item last week about an odd cure for nighttime leg cramps (putting a bar of Ivory soap at the foot of the bed):
"This problem cleared up completely for me with the following solution: One-third cup of tonic water, with quinine each day. I take it after dinner in the evening. You can add a little something to make it taste better."
Excellent advice, Caroline! Why, I have some tonic water and lime in the fridge right now. What a coincidence.


I'm not sure if this can be generalized to the outside world as a positive economic indicator, but I'm certainly seeing a lot of big construction projects going on here in West Marlborough, and there are new, tidy fences being installed all over the place. One nearby family is adding a whole wing to their stone house. A dressage arena is being built up the road, and this is a giant undertaking, with bulldozers moving all kinds of earth. And one of the township's major landowners has put in a lane stretching from Thouron Road all the way through to Route 841.

Just a blur

At the intersection by the Red Rose Inn at Jennersville are several signs stuck in the ground. I'm assuming they're campaign signs, but the letters are too small and skinny to read. There's a photo of a woman, but even though I've driven by the signs several times now, and made a point of really looking at them, I couldn't tell you if she's running for township supervisor or if she's hosting a marriage-enrichment seminar.
Those signs aren't cheap, and it's a shame that the client and the designer didn't think to ask the basic question, "Will a motorist driving by be able to read this?"

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Extended hours

A faithful Tilda reader (and fellow Hillendale homey!) asked me what day the Unionville post office is open late. I didn't know but quickly found out for her: it's Wednesday. The window closes at 4:30 and then reopens at 5 and stays open til 6:30.

The rest of the story

May I channel Paul Harvey for this one item?
I'm editing a fascinating book (a welcome change) on the human implications of medical imaging (x-rays, CT scanners and such). In one chapter the author, Dr. Richard Gunderman, tells the story of Ritchie, a Liverpool boy in the 1940s who suffered a ruptured appendix and was in the hospital for a year due to complications. During his stay he developed a deep love of music. 
Ritchie was Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr. He became the Beatles' drummer, and the Beatles' huge success greatly enriched their record label, EMI. With its windfall profits, EMI decided to expand into the nascent medical imaging business, and one of its scientists, Gregory Hounsfield, developed the CT scanner.
Had the CT scanner been around in the 1940s, Ringo's appendicitis might well have been diagnosed long before his appendix burst, and he would probably have been spared the long hospital stay.

Friday night lights

I was driving home from a wonderful dinner at the Taqueria Moroleon at 9:30 last night and was surprised to find that Newark Road, north of Toughkenamon, was lit up like a stadium. It seems they are installing new pipelines underneath the roadway and are doing the project at night, under portable floodlights. Because only one lane of traffic is allowed through at a time, I waited in a line behind one of Rob Pearson's dump trucks for a minute or so and then the flagger let us through.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Secret society

It seems that a underground society has been quietly forming in our area: people who miss Genuardi's! (The supermarket on Baltimore Pike east of Kennett was converted into a Giant this summer.)
In last week's column I mentioned a friend of mine last week who thought he was the only one, but others have subsequently revealed themselves to me:
"I MISS Genaurdi's!!!! Your friend is noooo way the only one. I miss $5 Fridays, and Giant is much more pricier... I now have to shop at Greg's Produce in Hockessin, a little bit of Giant, and now have to go towards DE more."  
Another said although she liked the Giant's produce, the new store's layout tried her patience.
Do the members have a stealth sign of recognition, maybe an old Genuardi's flyer or a Genuardi's bonus card?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eye, me, mine

This may well be the buggiest summer I remember. Not, thankfully, those awful stink bugs, but rather moths, spiders, flies, mosquitoes and those tiny bees. I can't sit outside on the deck or relax in the hammock without getting an ankle-full of itchy welts.
Yesterday after supper I was out for my usual walk on our beautiful back roads, maybe two miles from home. I was wired into my 80s playlist and Boy George was crooning, "Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry?" Just then a huge gnat flew straight into my eye. Impeccable timing!
A friend commented that it was lucky I wasn't listening to the Electric Light Orchestra's "Can't Get It Out of My Head" at the time.

The Great Ejection

My West Marlborough friend and neighbor Helen Martin told me that Tyndale Society (USA), of which she is secretary, will be holding a seminar at London Grove Friends Meeting House on Saturday, September 8, to mark the 350th anniversary of “Black Bartholomew” (August 24, 1662), "when almost 2,000 gospel ministers were ejected from their pulpits for reasons of conscience and England was left in religious turmoil from which it long suffered... The event marked the beginning of a period of severe persecution for Quakers and Roman Catholics also, and proved to be a watershed for the advance of religious liberty in general in the English-speaking world."
Speakers will include:

-- Dr. Carl Trueman, the Academic Dean and Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Chestnut Hill, will be speaking on "A Tale of Two Ejections: Richard Baxter, John Owen and 1662."
-- Historian Barbara Cross will share "Ministries Sealed by Suffering: Thomas Watson & Edmund Calamy," some forgotten heroes of the era.
-- Helen's brother, retired Avondale District Justice Tom Martin, will discuss "John Bunyan’s Imprisonment: Impact on America."
Something I really want to see is a unique folio copy of the "Book of Common Prayer" prepared for the Archbishop of Canterbury that is going to be on display. "This very rare 1662 book was the standard to which all university professors and English clergy were to conform."
The seminar will start at 9 a.m. and will run until 1 p.m. Suggested voluntary contribution is $10, and light refreshments will be served.
Helen asked me to say that everyone is welcome.

Around town

Random sightings around town today:
1. Route 82 has been repaved through Unionville, and double-yellow lines were added a day or so later.
2. Sure signs of fall: full parking lots at the schools, grape hyacinth leaves sprouting, and the first fixture card in the mail. And a sunny customer at the Willowdale produce stall pointed out that corn on the cob wouldn't be around much longer.
3. The Jennersville Starbucks is being redecorated.
4. Somebody's putting in a new fence over the hill; I can hear the rhythmic thumping of the post driver.
5. For the second time in recent days someone I know only through Facebook came up to me and introduced herself. It's fun to meet these online "friends" actually in person.


This month's West Marlborough Township meeting will be on Tuesday, Sept. 4. I don't think anything pressing is on the agenda, but it's worth coming out to the township hall/garage anyway. There's always something that makes me put down my knitting or phone (yes, there's Wi-Fi) and pick up my pen and reporter's notebook (or, um, whatever paper I can scrounge. Last month I forgot my notebook and got caught pinching a piece of office paper from the road department's desk).
The Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m., with the supervisors' meeting to follow.
If you should happen to have something else to do that evening (imagine), you can always read my account of the meeting in these pages the following week.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

AAA rating

Kennett Square's Mushroom Festival (Sept. 8 and 9) made it into the September/October issue of the AAA Mid-Atlantic magazine! "You've waited long enough," reads the item. "The first-even All Pro Eating-sanctioned Fried Mushroom Eating Championship will be held during the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. In the region where 65 percent of the country's mushrooms are grown, enjoy farm tours and exhibits, cooking demonstrations and plenty of fungi prepared every which way, including frozen in ice cream."
In the same magazine there's an ad for a Lancaster County hotel that cautions visitors: "GPS note: If you have a problem with Bird-in-Hand PA, try Ronks PA." GPS makes some odd choices sometimes.

Nothing new

A friend asked if I had heard anything new about equestrian writer and photographer Sarah Libbey Greenhalgh, 48, who was found dead in her burning home in Upperville, Fauquier County, Virginia, on July 9. No, I haven't. No new details have been released, and although police and the FBI are treating her death as a homicide, as far as I could find out no arrests have been made. I saw that the story was even picked up by the "Daily Mail" in England.

UCF Wants You!

My friend and neighbor Berta Rains is putting out a plea for volunteers to help with the Unionville Community Fair at the beginning of October.
She said that directors are needed for the following divisions:
1. Youth and Adult Wood and Metalwork
2. Adult Art, Handcrafts and Holiday Crafts
3. Adult Models
4. Youth Models (Legos)
5. Youth Pottery & Ceramics
6. Youth Baked Goods
7. Adult Pottery and Ceramics
Being a director is a lot of fun and it's not hard. Each position involves about 15 hours: accepting entries at the Fair on Wednesday afternoon/evening (Oct. 3), helping with judging on Thursday (Oct. 4), and then helping out on Sunday (Oct. 7) when the exhibits are taken down.
Also needed is an auction coordinator for the Denim & Diamonds Benefit Dinner and Auction (Thursday, Oct. 4).
Berta writes: "These positions are the backbone of the Fair and many have been doing the same job for years and are just waiting for other people to step up. Part of the problem is we do not seem to have a way to educate the community at large about this aspect of the fair, the contests. We want to encourage people to enter their home products, art creations, needlework, vegetables, flowers, etc. But there are so many "new" people in the area who have no idea what the fair is about that the best we seem to do is to get them to come."
So many of us live in our own little circles, and volunteering at the Fair is a great way to branch out and get to know a much broader cross-section of our community, old-timers and newcomers alike.
Visit the Fair's website for a lot more information:

Going to the dogs

The American Kennel Club is looking for a new chief operating officer, and their help-wanted ad in the Aug. 15 "Wall Street Journal" amused me. It sounds almost as if they're expecting a sea of resumes from people who think they'd be qualified for the job just because they love dogs: "In-depth knowledge of and experience in the sport of purebred dogs over and above mere dog ownership... is a huge plus," according to the ad.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

X again

A few weeks ago I wrote about a less reputable member of our community who was convicted of a mean-spirited crime a few years back but has resurfaced. For a brief moment I thought, well, perhaps X has indeed seen the light and is leading a reformed life.
Apparently not. I was just at a local self-service hay and straw farm and saw X's name listed on the Wall of Shame, and not just for a couple of bales: X owes them $130.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I was relaxing in my hammock the other afternoon when up jumped one of my backyard squirrels. I have to admit, they're pretty entertaining, even if they do scarf up the bird seed and suet and dig up my window boxes.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

House history

Received an e-mail this morning from an old (Wait. No. He's the same age as me. Make that "longstanding") friend who asked me to write an item about his mother, Mary Larkin Dugan of East Marlborough Township.
I'm very glad to do it. Mary is a very smart, literate and amusing woman -- she used to teach English at the Unionville Middle School -- and her business now is researching "house histories."
"People commission her to research the history of their property. She delivers a nice report on past owners, when transferred, etc." said her son.
Mary also runs the Kennett Underground Railroad Center and has written a charming history of East Linden Street in Kennett Square (her co-author was Ella Sestrich, who used to own the much-missed Sestrich's Market in Unionville).
Mary's website is

Civil discourse

On Facebook this morning a friend and neighbor said she is tired of the snarky mud-slinging and name-calling that so often passes for political discourse, and she is omitting from her list of Facebook friends people who engage in this kind of bad behavior.
Good for her! You may dislike a candidate, but please don't call him or her "an idiot." Totally inappropriate. Show some respect and civility. Every day I see otherwise intelligent people, of all political persuasions, using just plain mean terms that would get the Young Relative in trouble for bullying at his school.
And before you share sensationalist, scare-mongering malarkey about "war" on this, that, or the other group or "he will gut" this, that, or the other program ... please remember that most of it's trumped-up spin concocted by highly paid political operatives.
I've been "on the inside" in a few community controversies and I'm always astonished and appalled at how much total balderdash is put out there as fact, and how many people believe the hyperbole without questioning it.
All that the nasty slogans and immature caricatures (say, making fun of President Obama's ears or comparing Paul Ryan to Eddie Munster) do is contribute to poisonous polarization and mask the truth that most of us, actually, agree on quite a lot of the issues.
And why do so many folks quote TV comedians, actors and celebrities as if their opinions are gospel? Since when are they experts? They're entertainers, people! HELLO!
OK. Carry on. Less than three months til the election.


What a pretty wildflower meadow at Folly Hill and Lenape-Unionville Roads in Pocopson! I saw it this weekend while driving home from The Bakers at Red Lion (where I bought baps still hot from the oven, dripping with butter). I always thought those "meadows-in-a-can" were just a clever marketing idea to get rid of leftover seeds that didn't sell, but this one was beautiful, with lots of cosmos and black-eyed susan.

Latest from the Island of Unionville

Coming home from a family breakfast at the Longwood Family Restaurant late Saturday morning, I spotted a bright-red truck pulling a horse trailer along Route 82 in downtown Unionville.
"Oh!" I thought. "That must be my pals P & S coming back from hound-walking. Hope they had a good morning."
Then I looked at the trailer and realized, nope, it's not them; they don't have a yellow trailer.
It's a really small world when you recognize not only people's vehicles but also their horse trailers.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Dambro plan

What's with all the zoning hearings recently?
While enjoying an ice cream cone at Landhope one recent evening, I spotted on the bulletin board a notice that the East Marlborough Zoning Hearing Board is going to be reviewing plans submitted by Anthony and Shirley Dambro, who want to build a three-story, 24-unit apartment house ("multifamily dwelling," in zoning-speak) along the south side of Route 926 just east of Willowdale (122 E. Street Rd.). They are coming before the board because they need variances "to allow for disturbance of wetlands and associated inner and outer riparian buffers," according to the notice.
They've faced opposition in the past from neighbors concerned about the stormwater runoff and erosion that the development could produce; in fact, scrawled across the bottom of the notice at Landhope were the words "We Don't Want This in Willowdale!"
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, at the East Marlborough Township building on Route 82 north of Willowdale (721 Unionville Road).
(Parenthetically, while eating my dessert I overheard an unexpected conversation at the picnic tables about inflation in South American and how Ayn Rand predicted the coming economic collapse.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Curing leg cramps

I was getting a pedicure at Polished Salon in Kennett this afternoon and chatting with the pleasant woman next to me, Jean, and the two nail techs. Jean commented how good it felt to get her calves massaged and added that she suffers from horrible charley horses at night. Immediately Angela, the young woman working on my feet, suggested she put a bar of Ivory soap at the foot of her bed. Angela said it cured her awful leg cramps like a charm.
I can't imagine how it works, but I looked it up on the myth-busting website, Snopes, and the worst it had to say was that the efficacy was "undetermined."
"Skepticism aside," said Snopes, "this bit of folk wisdom is clearly worth a try."

Variance by Estoppel

A few weeks back I ran a brief item reporting that Chester County Court of Common Pleas Judge David F. Bortner overturned the West Marlborough Township Zoning Hearing Board's ruling last summer forbidding The Whip Tavern from using the house next door for business purposes.
Well, I finally got a copy of the 18-page decision and plowed through the legalese. It's interesting reading. I'd be glad to forward a PDF of the document to anyone who wants it; just send me an email at


Many, many locals are sad to see the "for sale" sign that has gone up in front of the former Unionville Feed Store on Route 82. The store moved to Pocopson. Driving the few extra miles isn't much of a nuisance for me, because I don't shop there all that often, and when I do I stock up on ample supplies of pet food and bird seed. But some of my friends who live on farms made nearly daily trips there, popping in as needed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


The annual end-of-summer shutdown week at the Jennersville Y starts Aug. 20, and my fitness instructor there gave us a send-off workout today that I suspect will stay with us the whole time. It featured something called a "tabata," which is a four-minute-long, high-intensity interval training that's supposed to be amazing for fat burning. It's very simple: you do one exercise -- say, good old jumping jacks -- for 20 seconds. Then you rest for 10 seconds. Then mountain-climbers, again for 20 seconds, and another rest, and then a different kind of jacks, rest, and another kind of mountain-climbers. Repeat. By the end of the eight exercise segments I was gasping for breath and the woman next to me was light-headed.
And then we had to do a non-cardio segment, and then back to the tabata. For a half-hour.
Grueling. But it certainly took my mind off the hassles of the day.
("Tabata," by the way, is the name of the Japanese exercise physiologist who developed it.)
(For those of you who don't know what mountain-climbers are, here's an illustration. You have to drive your knees in toward your arms, alternating legs, as quickly as possible. By about 10 seconds your thighs are screaming.)

One a day

I had dinner at Plaza Azteca the other night with a Kennett Square friend who claims he's the only person he knows of who actually misses the Genuardi's grocery store on Baltimore Pike, the one that was converted into a Giant this summer. A very healthy eater, he specifically misses the bags of mixed fresh vegetables made by a company called Mann's. Apparently Genuardi's carried them but the Giant doesn't. To get them, he now drives to the Acme in Avondale, which still stocks them.
He wanted me to alert the Giant produce people that they are losing the chance to sell him 365 bags of Mann's mixed vegetables a year (366 in leap year, he adds).

Dental et al.

Earlier this week I called to schedule an appointment at the dental practice where I've been a patient for probably 25 years, and the receptionist answered the phone in a different way. I hesitated and asked her if I had the right number.
She laughed and explained that one of the dentists had just retired, so they hired somebody new and took the opportunity to rejigger the office name. She also said, rather proudly, that she had not messed up on announcing the name ALL DAY LONG, probably because she had it written out in front of her on her desk.
I told her I hoped I hadn't jinxed her. 
Update: While at my appointment the hygienist complimented me on my oral health but suggested that I "keep an eye on the recession." This stopped me in my tracks. What on earth did she mean? I wondered to myself. Did I now have to bone up on the financial news before appointments so I could appear intelligent? Was she concerned that my business might be suffering?
Duh. Clearly I hadn't had my coffee. I quickly realized that what she meant was gums receding from the teeth. 

The Sermon! Live

Rob Mastrippolito asked me to mention that his band, The Sermon!, will be debuting its third studio album, "Get In," in a concert at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington on Friday, Sept. 7.
"Get In finds the West Chester organ-centric quartet at their most retrosonic, as the record brims with an array of vintage electric pianos and guitars," says the press release written (and rather well) by the band. "Reminiscent of a modern-day Booker T & the MG's, The Sermon! offers Get In as an album rich with the pleasures of late 60s instrumental organ-jazz and funk, and steeped in the classic warmth of analogue recording technology."
To buy tickets online, visit
(That's Rob upper right in the photo.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday drive

Today (Aug. 12) may have been one of the nicest days this summer. It was in the low 80s, with low humidity. I took a walk in the Laurels Preserve, where I saw a magnificent great blue heron and forded the Doe Run (Query: Who failed to replenish stock of dry socks and shoes in my car trunk?). I noticed that a lot of folks were out taking what we used to call "a Sunday drive." I saw a bunch of convertibles, some vintage cars and even a red Ferrari on Route 82 in "downtown" Unionville.
I also saw a Ford Fusion whose passenger tossed a soda can out the window along Route 82 near the Route 1 bypass at about 1:50 p.m. What a slob! If any of my readers should happen to have access to PennDOT's database, I got the tag number...

Friday, August 10, 2012

You could say that

Received this e-mail from my sister, an English professor and dressage rider in Minnesota:
"Have been watching the [Olympic] dressage and eventing with great interest--that beautiful, whimsical cross-country course was just a delight.  Heard Phillip Dutton introduced as being from West Grove, Pa., and since you know every living soul in the area, wondered what you might know of him? (He has an excellent sitting trot.)"
I'm assuming she is going to be teaching the rhetorical device "understatement" to her freshman students this coming semester.


This week's roadside-plant-of-the-week looks exotic (at least I think it does) but is cursed with the distinctly unromantic name of Ground Cherry. It's in the Nightshade family. What I thought was interesting is that I found two plants in different stages of development, just across the road from each other. One still showed the pretty dusty-yellow flowers that are hidden under the leaves, but the other had already advanced into the fruiting stage. It's hard to believe it's the same plant.

Road closed?

At their August meeting, the West Marlborough supervisors heard from two residents about traffic problems in our rural township.
Joan Silknitter brought in photos of the traffic confusion along Newark Road, between Route 82 and 842, during the Chesco Grand Prix bicycle race on July 4, and asked the supervisors to close that stretch of the road during next year's race.
Crosby Wood, one of the organizers of the race, agreed with her that traffic was "a mess" but said it was because of the unexpectedly high attendance. He said they would definitely ask to have the road closed next year (the race is proposed for July 3 and 4, 2013).
The supervisors also said they had heard from an Apple Grove Road resident who asked to have that road made one-way eastbound during the Plantation Field Horse Trials because it is too narrow to comfortably accommodate two oncoming horse trailers at a time. The supervisors said they would discuss the situation with the horse trials' organizers.

Generally accepted accounting principles

Residents of West Marlborough Township, which just imposed a 0.5% earned-income tax, might want to take a look online to see what they need to do to be in compliance.
It's fairly complicated.
1. If you are an employer in the township, you should have already been withholding earned income tax from your employees' pay based on where they live. Each worker has to fill out a form stating where he or she lives so the proper tax can be withheld. The employer is required to withhold the tax rate of the municipality where it's located or the municipality where the worker lives, whichever is greater.
2. If you work outside of the township, your employer should have been withholding the tax if you work in a municipality that already has the tax in place.
3. If you're self-employed and live in West Marlborough, you now have to submit estimated quarterly payments to the tax collector, Keystone Collections. You can download the forms you need from their website (which is very informative).
At the August township meeting, supervisor Michael Ledyard suggested researching Act 32 and Keystone online, "and maybe check with your accountant."

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Someone hung this simple peace sign at the site where David A. MacLeod died on the evening of August 3 in West Marlborough. His car ran off the road along Route 842, just east of Thouron Road, went up a steep bank and hit the trees at the top. David, who lived in New London, was a member of Newark (Del.) Friends Meeting, and I received this email that was sent out to some local Quakers:
"Over David’s life, many people have received the blessings of the love that was evident in David:  David’s smile, his kind and responsive words, and the uplift from his affirmations regarding the natural world, plants, animals and people included.  David lived 54 years. Please hold David’s mother, brothers and sister in the Light and let us all support one another."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dog attack

A reader sent in this scary tale about how her dog, Nani, was attacked at the Cheslen preserve:
"Yesterday, we were playing ball with Nani in the river under Corcoran's bridge, as we do almost every afternoon. When we were just about to go for a walk in the meadow to dry her off, a woman and her two unleashed, large, black dogs (perhaps shepherd mix?) rounded the corner to our left. We had passed these dogs the day before, and noted that they seemed aggressive (I had even mentioned to my daughter that they seemed to have a pack mentality). 
Without any warning, the dogs charged towards us. After a second of sniffing, Nani was pushed over onto the ground with a bite to her neck, and the two dogs began biting, pulling, and shaking her for about a minute. The only thing we had with us to help Nani was a small plastic butterfly net that we use to retrieve Nani's tennis balls in the river. Once the dogs finally stopped attacking Nani, they began charging at me and my two daughters, growling and snarling! We yelled at the woman, saying that we needed her contact information (she didn't even come to help!). 
My eldest daughter immediately called the police, who arrived after the woman had fled. Luckily, my youngest daughter's friend was on the bridge at the time, and heard the commotion. He was able to run to the car and take a photo of the license plate (silver Honda crossover with Arizona license plates) before the woman took off. 
What kind of a person would leave after watching what her dogs had done? We showed the photos to the police officer, who was very kind and helpful, and left in search of the woman.
We then took Nani to the emergency vet. The first question the vet asked upon seeing her was, 'How did you get the dogs off of her?' It became apparent to us that without the butterfly net, the dogs would have kept attacking, or could have even attacked us! The doctor is concerned that she may develop abscesses under her skin, which will require surgery, as a result of the concussive force of the dog bites over her entire body. (Surgery is needed in 1/3 dogs that are attacked.)
Nani is evidently in a great deal of pain, and has not been herself since yesterday.
We have already spent several hundred dollars in medical bills, not including having her staples removed and potential surgery. We are trying to locate the woman, as her dogs are a threat to other park-goers and as this point, we would like to see her be cited for the leash law and we seek retribution for medical bills. 
It is our hope to make other park-goers aware of what can potentially occur-- we never would have thought that something like this could happen to us!"
-----UPDATE ON NANI -----
From Nani's human companion:
"Good news! After days of skillful sleuthing, my girls and I have found the owner of the two dogs that attacked Nani. She had parked at the Cannery Rd. access to Cheslen Preserve rather than the main entrance on Embreeville Rd. We waited for her and her dogs to leave the parking area and we followed her to where she was staying: the KOA. Actually, we had been driving through the KOA daily looking for her car so it was no surprise to us when she pulled in there.
We called the police and he met us at the entrance to the KOA, where we were able to give him a description of her car etc. The trooper later called me and told me that he tracked her down and cited her for not having her dogs on a leash. He also informed her that Nani had been injured and that we took her to the emergency vet. He said that she was remorseful and that she had agreed to pay for all vet bills.
As far as Nani goes, she is doing much better! Thankfully it does not look as though she has developed any of the abscesses that vet warned us about. She has a follow-up appointment with the vet on Monday and then will have her staples out later next week.
Thank you for your concern and for putting the word out on your blog and Facebook page. I’m thrilled to say that we have found the woman and hope that this very unfortunate chapter will soon come to an end!"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I'm with the band

On Sunday I went to a party-slash-outdoor-concert in Unionville given by two dear friends of mine. The husband has a very grown-up day job tending to other people's money, but when he's off duty he plays guitar once a week in a rock band, Jimi's Not Home. He has always been dismissive about his musical skills, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect (but was prepared to be lavish with my praise anyway).
Turns out, he and the band -- another guitarist, a bass player, a drummer and a vocalist -- are very talented, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. Although it was very hot, the venue was perfect: in the back yard, with guests sitting on lawn chairs and dogs wandering around, occasionally mingling with the band and even barking at the drummer during "Satisfaction." The tunes were classics like "Heat Wave" and "Somebody to Love," the volume wasn't too loud, so you could carry on a conversation, and there was plenty of great food (indeed, the dining room was reserved for desserts exclusively).
These two are such great hosts. They actually mingle with the guests, assume that people are capable of getting their own food and drink, and create such a relaxed atmosphere that I felt perfectly comfortable just hanging out for a while in the rope sling chair on the deck, watching the thunderstorm roll in from the west. The band ended its set just in time, and everyone pitched in as roadies to carry chairs, tables and the sound equipment to safety.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Here's a shout-out to the Terras and the McNallys, two nice couples from East Marlborough whom I met on Saturday evening while I was out for a long walk. They were taking a leisurely drive through the back roads of West Marlborough and had stopped to admire Dick Hayne's chickens. We got to chatting, they mentioned something about West Marlborough they had read in the Kennett Paper -- and I had to 'fess up that I had written it. Turns out they are avid Tilda fans, which was very sweet to hear!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Grace stone

What an appropriate way to remember this Hunt follower who died earlier this year! This plaque was installed by the Cheshire Hunt at the West Marlborough farm belonging to Patti's sister, Bobbi O'Donnell. Bobbi said she is thrilled by the plaque and knows that her sister is, too.

Sticking it

While watching the astonishing Olympic gymnasts, a friend of mine got the itch to revisit her youth, when she competed in gymnastics. She booked a session with a gymnastics coach and then posted a video of herself doing one of those rapid-fire tumbling runs with handsprings and all manner of twisting acrobatics. She looked fantastic, even though she'd been away from the sport for a few years. Of course, she wasn't satisfied: "Bucket list: to get my full back at least once without tearing my ACL again."

Key points

People always ask me to remind them each time that gas points expire at the Giant grocery store. This time it's Saturday, August 18, and so far I'm getting 60 cents off per gallon! YES! Last time I was totally running on fumes: as I was driving through the village of London Grove on my way to the Giant fuel pumps, my gas gauge said I had 1 mile left. Good planning, huh!
In other consumer news, I went to make a peanut-butter sandwich on Aug. 1 and was unhappy to see that the loaf of bread (expiration date: Aug. 2) was already moldy. I took it back to the Jennersville Giant and pointed to the mold -- and they gave me double my money back, no questions asked. Three dollars!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Drop that name!

A man introduced himself to me last night, giving his name and telling me he worked for a local person, "X."
All quite proper and correct -- except that X got caught committing a Really, Really Stupid and particularly mean-spirited crime a few years back, and X's name has been mud around here ever since.
I tried not to look too surprised. Why on earth would he have mentioned X's name? Is it possible he didn't know about X's criminal record, even though it pops up on even the quickest Internet check?
Or maybe he just gets paid really, really well.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Easy Installation

Over the years my jack-of-all-trades neighbor and I have taken on many home-repair challenges, the most recent being replacing my garbage disposal. As usual, I played a vital role: I held the flashlight and handed him implements, like a plumbing scrub nurse.
"Easy installation," declared the box, and indeed the diagrams made it look like child's play: "(1) Remove old disposer; (2) Make electrical connections; (3) Install new disposer; (4) Make plumbing connections."
What they didn't mention was that you had to accomplish all this while lying on your back in the dark, confined space underneath the sink. The cartoon hand in this installation nirvana just mounted the disposer and tightened a few wire nuts. The connections fitted together perfectly and easily. No need for electrical tape! No stubborn wires! No rebellious pipe joints or hide-and-seek bolts or cumbersome mountings!
Well, between the two of us we got it done, and it works great, and I suppose I got a useful lesson in how elastic the word "easy" can be.

New knee

After breakfast at Perkins in Avondale yesterday, my friend and I were waiting at the cash register and she was telling me about her quest for an orthopaedic surgeon (she has a bum knee). I mentioned that a family friend had his orthopaedic surgery in Wilmington and instead of eating hospital food, he had his meals brought over from the Hotel Dupont. The woman behind us overheard and laughed. It seems her mother had just had knee surgery at one of the Delaware hospitals, and she couldn't say enough nice things about the surgeon. Small world: My friend was delighted to find that he was one of the names who had been recommended to her.

Mystery gift

At the post office the other day I saw a notice on the door about a new e-mail scam.
Apparently the bad guys, capitalizing on our eager curiosity about unexpected packages, are sending out
bogus e-mails saying that the U.S. Postal Service tried to deliver a package but was unsuccessful. You are asked to click on a link to find out when your package will be delivered.
Unfortunately, "clicking on the link will activate a virus that can steal information—such as your user name, password, and financial account information," advises the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Don't open it! And delete the e-mail.
And just as I was writing this item, a friend sent me an e-mail he had received headed "Olympics trip (sad news)," supposedly from a Jennersville real-estate agent:
"Just hoping this email reaches you well, I'm sorry for this emergency and for not informing you about my urgent trip to London,United Kingdom but I just have to let you know my present predicament. Everything was fine until I was attacked on my way back to the hotel, I wasn't hurt but I lost my money, bank cards, mobile phone and my bag in the course of this attack. I immediately contacted my bank in order to block my cards and also made a report at the nearest police station. I've been to the embassy and they are helping me with my documentation so i can fly out but I'm urgently in need of some money to pay for my hotel bills and my flight ticket home, will definitely REFUND as soon as back home .
Kindly let me know if you would be able to help me out so I can forward you the details required for a wire transfer.
Waiting to hear back from you."
Another scam! Don't fall for it.


In the first half of the Aug. 30 West Marlborough township double-header hearing, the supervisors approved a zoning change that would allow The Whip to seek an off-site parking area, helping to alleviate the parking problems that have plagued the popular Springdell tavern.
Harry Roth, the township's engineer, described the ordinance change as reasonable and said it would have a minimal impact on neighbors. And the Whip's attorney, Neil Land, said the change will give his client "the opportunity to fix what has been a problem for some time."
But many of the residents said they were worried about the unforeseen, "unintended consequences" of the new rules, which would affect not only Springdell village but also the village of London Grove.
Planning commission member Jeb Hannum said he would have voted against recommending the change had he been at the meeting where it was discussed, and fellow commission member Jake Chalfin said he had changed his mind since the meeting and wished he had opposed it too.
But at the end of the 90-minute hearing, Supervisor Michael Ledyard said he was satisfied that those "unintended consequences" had been anticipated as much as possible and "I'm much more confident than I was coming in." Supervisor Hugh Lofting said he too was comfortable with making the change, and Board Chairman Bill Wylie said the fact that the change affects "very few properties greatly limits the opportunity for unintended consequences."
Although the ordinance change affects both villages, it was clear that the focus was on Springdell and the Whip. "We cannot stand in the way of progress," said Springdell resident Bernie Langer, who suggested that the Whip is a much better neighbor than its rougher predecessors were. Yes, he said, there are more cars, "but at least they have mufflers" and "I have yet to hear a gunshot."
Now, of course, the big questions are:
1. Will the Whip be able to find a lot in Springdell that meets the criteria in the revised ordinance and could be used for parking?
2. How will the Whip's notoriously litigious neighbors, the "Springdell 8" (or however many of them there are these days), react to this decision?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Only two months away

My friend and neighbor Berta Rains is putting out the call for volunteers for this year's Unionville Community Fair.
"The Fair Needs You! What can you do??? Volunteer! Share your talents in the Demo Tent! Promote your business as a sponsor or vendor! Attend the Denim & Diamonds fundraiser Oct.4th! Jump in, pitch in, rally 'round the Fair!..... Still bringing the community wholesome fun for all after 88 years!"
For specifics, visit the fair's website at This year's fair will be Oct. 5 through 7, with the Willowdale Pro Rodeo on Saturday, Oct. 6.
I'm a huge fan of the "farm show." It's a great local tradition, and hats off to the folks who work so hard to keep it flourishing.

A chilling effect

Thank you to Chad Laurence of Corrective Chiropractic in Hockessin! After reading last week's item about my friend who is "bogarting" my reusable ice packs, he kindly offered to replenish my stock. I quickly took him up on it! I stopped by his office with a bunch of flowers and left with four new brand-new ice packs.

A local tax

In the second half of Monday night's meeting, the West Marlborough Township supervisors enacted a 0.5% earned-income tax on its residents that will take effect starting this October. That's $50 per $10,000 of your salary.
The board said the township needs the additional income source to offset the double-whammy that has depleted its coffers: a drop in income from real-estate transfer taxes and an increase in its legal expenses. They said the tax will generate about $100,000 a year, and the cost of collecting it will be minimal.
Speaker after speaker stood up and vigorously opposed the tax, arguing that it would be a hardship on working people, questioning the township's estimates about how much money it would bring in, asking whether alternative funding sources (such as increased fees) had been considered. Several said they'd even rather see their property taxes increase than have an earned-income tax imposed.
Despite the opposition, the supervisors unanimously approved the tax. In response to several residents' concerns that the tax was "a long-term solution for a short-term problem," however, they agreed to review the need for it annually as part of the budgeting process.

(I should disclose that I was one of the residents who stood up and opposed the tax. I'm going to get clobbered by it because I both live and work in the township.)
I've covered some hot-tempered municipal meetings in my day, and this one was not. Yes, feelings ran high; but people were calm, respectful, thoughtful, and eloquent (myself sadly excluded on that last point).
Who will pay this new tax? People who live and work in West Marlborough or who live in West Marlborough and work in a community that doesn't have an earned income tax. Many residents already pay the tax at their workplace. Those residents won't see a tax increase; rather, the money they already pay will come back to West Marlborough Township rather than staying in the municipality where they work.
Retired people and those with significant investment income get a break, as they are not considered to be receiving "earned" income.
Also, the current $10 per capita tax will be eliminated.
Just for comparison, here are the real-estate and the earned income tax rates in neighboring townships:

                                       Real Estate (mills)            Earned Income Tax (%)
East Fallowfield                      0                                    0.50
Highland                               2.3                                   1.00
Londonderry                         0                                     0.75
London Grove                     1.24                                 0.75
New Garden                        0.75                                 0.625
Kennett Twp.                       0.40                                 0.75
East Marlborough                1.43                                  0.0
Newlin                                 0.75                                 0.50
West Marlborough               1.70                                  0.5