Friday, September 28, 2012

Open door policy

I'm planning a story for next week on the return of the stinkbugs and I need your help. What's your grossest stinkbug story: Have you found them in your pillowcase? in your belly button? on your toothbrush? Help me out! Email me at

Clothes horse

I was leafing through the October "Vogue" at the hair salon the other day (my life is a difficult one) and found a four-page Tommy Hilfiger ad. It appears the designer has taken his inspiration this season from the sporting world, and the photos showed immaculately groomed models posing with immaculately groomed horses and foxhounds. (I did some research and found that the ad was shot in Warrenton, Virginia, by superstar fashion photographer Craig McDean.)
They're nice clothes and boots and bags, I suppose, though the checkered helmets are silly. But I couldn't help but notice the difference between Mr. Hilfiger's stylized view of equestrian garb and the smart, timeless clothes I see real people wearing when they are out riding and foxhunting around here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Another fall in Unionville

Last weekend a friend of mine took a tumble out of her hayloft when her hand got caught up in the twine around a bale. Almost incredibly, she landed on the bale itself and bounced off, unhurt, like she was a stunt person.
She said her descent was like Slim Pickens at the end of "Dr. Strangelove," except that she was clinging to the bale instead of a nuclear missile, and she didn't have time during the 12-foot fall to holler "Yeeeee-haw!"

Phillips head

Our area may be one of the wealthiest around, but that doesn't mean we can't be frugal as well. After only a few months my electric toothbrush started malfunctioning, just like its predecessor had. I decided that instead of just buying a new one, I'd call the company and complain.
"My toothbrush stopped shaking," I explained to the customer service rep, describing the problem in my usual sophisticated technical language.
"Are you saying the brush head is no longer vibrating?" he translated. Apparently this is a very common problem: it seems the little metal shaft loosens and no longer imparts the desired shaking motion, which greatly impairs the quality of your tooth-cleaning experience.
So they're sending me a new one! No questions asked about when I bought it, how much I paid, etc. I just have to send back the defective one. And they'll pay for shipping.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What is it?

This was unearthed by the men digging in the side yard. What is it? It's corroded brass and it's about six inches tall. The best guess I've had so far is that it's part of a sheet-music holder; actually my first thought was along musical lines, too, because it does kind of resemble a stylized lyre.

Wrong way

Thank you to "Unionville in the News" reader Joan for alerting me to the following questionable situation:
"I have just returned from a trip to the New Garden shopping center.  To get to my home in Avondale I go onto Scarlet Road across the one-way that goes to the right to Kennett to the top of the hill and turn left to go down old Baltimore Pike to Avondale.  At the top of that hill just along side of the “One Way” sign pointing left, is a Scarlet Road construction detour sign pointing right!  If they do that they will be going the wrong way on old Baltimore Pike. Very dangerous to an out-of-town driver! "
Indeed it would have been! As if pulling out from the traffic light on that hill isn't enough fun for anyone with a standard transmission. Fortunately, though, those detour signs have been removed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Something special just for me

Call me old-fashioned (go ahead; everyone else does), but the last time I deposited checks via my bank machine, I had to find and then fill out a deposit slip and then complete an envelope listing each check. No more! You just put your check in the slot and the ATM automatically scans it, reads the amount and then deposits it and e-mails you an image for your records. How cool is that! It even processes up to 30 checks at a time. Amazing.


Just another reminder, because this is important: the last day to register to vote before the Nov. 6 general election is Tuesday, October 9.

Holiday Home Tour

I've written many times about Kennett Square's annual candlelight Christmas tour. Well, they are already looking for volunteer greeters for the 13th annual tour, which is coming up on Sunday, December 9. There's a meeting for volunteers at 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 10, at Sinclair's Sunrise Cafe on State Street. The person to contact if you are interested in volunteering is Bobby (


Bakers at Red Lion, Twelves, and Doe Run Farm are among the local places featured in a beautiful new book, "The Brandywine Book of the Seasons," by Ella and Roger Morris. Nancy and Barbara at Red Lion contributed recipes for bread pudding and oatmeal bread. To order a copy, sign up at the Bakers at Red Lion, at Folly Hill Road and Route 926 in East Marlborough.


Forcing paperwhites indoors is one of my favorite things about winter. I thought I'd be organized this year and buy my bulbs early, so I stopped in at R-P Nurseries the other day. They have other bulbs in stock, but no paperwhites quite yet because if you plant them now, they'll bloom long before Christmas, which is when most people want them to be at their peak. (Not me: I like them all winter long.) They advised checking back because they are expecting shipments in shortly. Will do!

God's creatures

A kind Springdell resident sent me some more information about St. Michael Lutheran Church's third annual ‘Blessing of the Animals’ ceremony, which will begin at 9:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, in the Fellowship Hall. 

"All animals are welcome and, for animals unable to attend, pet photos or other representations will be blessed in their absence.
Please adhere to the following conditions below if bring an animal for blessing:

1.         To ensure a safe environment, please refrain from bringing aggressive animals to the service.  For pets remaining home, pet photos or other representations will be blessed in their absence.

2.         All dogs must be on leashes or in cages at all times while on the church premises.

3.         Cats, birds, hamsters, etc. must be in cages.

4.         Any animal on a leash must be housebroken.
In conjunction with the Blessing of the Animals, the Sunday School of Saint Michael has decided to raise awareness and supplies for local animal shelters (Chester County SPCA, Forgotten Cats, and La Mancha Animal Rescue). We’ve contacted the three shelters about their needs. Feel free to bring dog, puppy, cat or kitten food (Purina, Iams, and Pedigree are requested) or any of the items listed below to the Church during the month of October.  Folks at Saint Michael will distribute them to the agencies.  Monetary contributions will be accepted via checks made payable to Saint Michael with the memo note “Animal Shelter”.
Other items:  Leashes, rawhide chews, washable dog and/or cat toys, stainless steel dog and/or cat bowls, dog biscuits, cat treats, heating pads, dog and cat brushes and combs, kitty litter (non-clumping), pooper scoopers, towels, sheets and blankets, wash cloths, newspaper, shoe boxes."
St. Michael is on Doe Run Road, just east of the Unionville roundabout.

Final count

I got an update over the weekend about the Unionville Town Walk that I attended in early September: 260 people attended! Amazing. It was a fun evening and it was so interesting to learn about the houses we drive by every day.
And speaking of Unionville history, a member of the East Marlborough Historic Commission told me that they are looking for "about three people who are interested in learning and educating the public about our township's history and its historic buildings. Anyone interested should phone the township, 610-444-0725."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Plantation Field

"Why bother going to London?" asked a fellow jump-judge as we watched members of the U.S. Olympic team competing in the cross-country segment of the Plantation Field three-day event this past weekend.
The riders made it look just so darned easy as they soared over astonishingly large, imposing jumps while remaining perfectly steady, focused and fearless. Sitting just yards away, we were simply spellbound.

"These are the kinds of jumps I would walk around," said a fox-hunting pal in disbelief. She remarked repeatedly how beautifully trained (and valuable) these high-level horses were. In contrast, she said ruefully, her horse would have seen one of the big white tents and not made it past that point: "Ooo! It's so big and white and tentlike! What is it?"
During our afternoon shift we saw only one mishap, when a horse caught his back legs on the second part of an evil uphill jump and tumbled down, then ran off riderless. Fortunately the rider got back up and seemed OK (though I bet she was sore the next day), and the horse was caught as it ran back toward the stabling area.
Plantation Field was a blast, as always. It was beautifully organized, and the weather was marvelous (except for the last few competitors on Saturday, who rode in the pouring rain). I saw tons of friends and caught up with some neighbors I hadn't seen for a while. At the dressage competition on Friday I ran into my doctor, who counts among her patients many of the competitors.
In addition to the equestrian events there were a lot of shops selling all sorts of tack and country-themed clothes, jewelry and knick-knacks (a caddy for your remote-control devices with a fox painted on it! A sign saying "Groundhog Shooting Forbidden"!). As always, the Dubarry sales rep was standing in a basin of water to show how waterproof their boots are. The two alpacas that one farm brought along were adorable.
I didn't get up to the tailgating competition, but I understand that one resourceful contestant re-created miniature versions of some of the jumps using foodstuffs.
On my way out at the end of the day Saturday I saw another volunteer standing by her jump and asked her if she wanted me to find her a chair.
"Oh, no," she said. "I have one. I'm just too excited to sit down."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Early October

What a busy time of year this is! A few dates for early October:
1. Tuesday, Oct. 2, is the monthly West Marlborough Township meeting at 7 p.m. in the township garage in Doe Run.
2. Saturday, Oct. 6, is Chester County Day, which this year features our quadrant of the county. Among the local sites on the tour are Brooklawn, former home of Judge and Mrs. Hannum and still in the Hannum family; Mark and Anna Myers' beautifully restored Colonial home in the village of London Grove; and Primitive Hall, the magnificent country seat built by Joseph Pennock in 1738. Be prepared for some additional traffic on our narrow roads.
3. Also Saturday, Oct. 6, The Whip Tavern in Springdell will be kicking off National Fire Prevention Week from 9 to 11 a.m. "Stop by The Whip for a cup of coffee and a donut while we join the good folks from Lowe’s Home Improvement Center of Avondale & Po-Mar-Lin Volunteer Fire Company for a morning of education and fun. Lowe’s will be offering product and equipment demonstrations and offering vouchers for products that will protect your family and your property from the threat of fire. Po-Mar Lin will be bringing a fire truck and equipment for kids to explore."

4. Of course, Oct. 5 through 7 is the Unionville Community Fair.
5. And coming up on Oct. 13 is the 5th Annual Hoe Down Harvest Festival on October 13 at The Barn at Spring Brook Farm, 350 Locust Grove Road, Pocopson Township. The Barn, founded by Mary Beth Drobish, is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization that provides animal-assisted activities for children with disabilities. A board member tells me there will be food, wine, a bluegrass band and square dancing, as well as live and silent auctions; dress is "denim casual." All funds raised will support The Barn's programs to enrich the lives of children with disabilities.

Voter ID

You've probably received a postcard in the mail giving you all the details about the new Voter ID law that goes into effect in Pennsylvania with the Nov. 6 election, but I thought it would be worth pointing out that the deadline for registering to vote in the election is Oct. 6. October 30 is the last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot. I applied for a new voter registration card so that it matches the name on my driver's license exactly. It was probably unnecessary: the law says that the the names don't have to match exactly but must "substantially conform," but I wanted to be on the safe side. My new card arrived within three days; good work, Voter Services!

New homes for the vinyl

Thank you, readers! Within a day I got rid of all of my parents' old record albums. One woman emailed me immediately, saying she had many fond childhood memories of dancing to "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" album, and could she please have it; plus her son plays the sax, so she also wanted the jazz albums. Another fellow met me at Landhope Friday afternoon and took all the other albums. I had no idea so many people still had turntables!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In the sticks

It's pick-up sticks day around the yard for a lot of people after yesterday's rain and wind. Downed trees kept our West Marlborough Township road crew busy, with problems reported on Doe Run Station Road, Thouron Road and Route 842 near Wilson Road. The top of a neighbor's maple tree was twisted off, and I saw a small evergreen uprooted along a fence line along Route 842. A fallen tree crushed a parked car and a took out a porch roof in London Grove Village, but that happened a few days before the storm.
My phone was buzzing away with text alerts about tornado watches, wind advisories and thunderstorm warnings, but I heard maybe one rumble of thunder the entire day, and it wasn't even close by.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Giordano's was doing a brisk takeout business late Sunday afternoon when I stopped by to pick up a couple of pies. I suppose a lot of people had the same idea that we did when halftime rolled around in the Pittsburgh game! We'd forgotten how good their Southwest pizza is: it has chicken, peppers and onions. Two slices and that's all I needed for supper.

Not on the fence

"I have a Tilda item for you," a friend announced breathlessly. She did. And it's a good one!
As you drive south on Route 82 between Dupont Road and Blow Horn, look to the right: the property owner has mowed the name of his preferred presidential candidate into his hillside in giant letters.
I'm told that when he got married last year, he mowed his initials and those of his new wife into the hillside, too, inside a heart.

Trader Joe's

Armed with a grocery list for myself and a pal, I made a trip to Trader Joe's on Concord Pike a few days ago. Love that store, and I wish there were a closer one! Their shrimp potstickers, chicken teriyaki, macaroni and cheese, rack of lamb and biryani rice are staples in my kitchen; I'll bet you have some favorites, too (I opened a family member's garage freezer yesterday and found it well stocked with boxes of Trader Joe's butter chicken).
The day I was there they were giving out samples of their family-style meat lasagne and it was so tasty that I bought two packages. And another nice thing: I saw Unionville artist Lou Marshall working there!

Gym philosopher

At the Kennett Y this morning, I greeted a fellow exerciser and asked how he was doing.
"Any morning you can get out of bed and go and exercise is a good one," he said.
True indeed!

Fall foliage

We've had a stretch of gorgeous September days, haven't we? Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk at the Laurels and saw the end-of-summer milkweed, purple asters, ragweed and to my surprise a second crop of stinging nettle, looking as fresh as it did in early spring. While I was sitting by the Doe Run (like a former Girl Scout, I brought my sit-upon!) I heard a rustling behind me, looked back and saw a great blue heron taking flight over the creek, literally a few yards away from me.
In one of his more wholesome aphorisms, Oscar Wilde wrote that nothing cures the soul but the senses, and nothing cures the senses but the soul. I don't know about the latter part, but for me sitting under a sycamore tree, next to a burbling creek, looking up at the cloudless blue sky certainly helps out in the soul-nourishing department.

Reading time

A West Chester friend who is an avid reader came up with an amusing idea: she wishes that book reviewers would mention approximately how long it takes to read the book. "Maybe they could include a little graphic depicting arm chairs, 1 chair equals 2 hrs.," she suggests.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Smacking my head

I just saw this printed on a plastic bag: "How-to bag instructions. 1. Carry your purchase to your car and house. 2. Remove your purchase from the bag. 3. Reuse or return the bag for recycling."
Thanks. Would never have thought of that myself.
What's especially bad is that the bag is from a home improvement store. I would argue that you have absolutely no chance of installing drywall or building a deck successfully if you need instructions on how to use a plastic bag.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trunk dialing

A Cochranville friend reports that her son fractured his wrist when he fell out of a tree while texting her. I have no idea what the moral of this story should be. Playing outside? Adventurous? Keeping in touch with his mother? All highly praiseworthy qualities in a boy -- just maybe not together.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Local soldier

Congratulations to Mikael Wood, son of Diana and Frank Wood of Cochranville, who survived Army basic training! Diana, a longtime gym friend of mine, told me that she and Frank attended his graduation ceremonies at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in early September and were beyond proud that their son made it through the mental and physical hardships of boot camp. She said she was impressed by the show that the Army put on for the families and enjoyed meeting some of her son's new buddies.
Mikael, who graduated from Avon Grove High School in June, will next be attending Quartermaster School at Ft. Lee, Virginia.

Movie time

Here's some good news: Brett Irwin is organizing an independent film series at the Back Alley Theater at The Flash in downtown Kennett. The series kicked off on Sept. 7 with "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" and the next film, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 27. Future films are "Moonrise Kingdom" (7:30 p.m. Oct. 25) and "The Intouchables" (7:30 p.m. Nov. 15)
Good luck to him! The cozy Flash is a great venue for movies. As the Facebook page says, "Sofas and saucer chairs...can't get those at the multiplex!"
For ticket information and trailers, visit the "Films at the Flash" Facebook page. The Flash is at 102 Sycamore Alley, behind the restaurant that used to be Newton's and is now La Verona.

State Line (and Kreston's and Total Wine)

"Liquor buyers cross state line," read the page A2 headline in a recent "Wall Street Journal."
This grabbed my attention -- but, no, they actually weren't talking about Pennsylvania imbibers heading south to Delaware or Maryland to stock up. It seems that Washington state has privatized the sale of hard liquor, thus jacking up the cost with additional state fees, so Washington state residents are now traveling to neighboring Oregon to buy their liquor.
Gee. Who could have seen that one coming?
One Rainier, Oregon, liquor store owner told the newspaper that she hired more employees and expanded hours to accommodate the booming demand. "You know how the week is before Christmas? It's like that every single day," the reporter quoted her as saying.

Swine and roses

Each month at our West Marlborough Township meeting, the supervisors hear about the building permits that have been granted, including requests for demolition.
I thought of this when I saw a real-estate ad in the newspaper for Stacumny House, a 19th-century estate near Dublin, County Kildare, Ireland. It boasts all the amenities you'd expect in a $6.4 million property -- plus "an old piggery."
Who knew? Even pig sheds can become a selling point! Don't tear them down!
Here's the complete description from the Christie's website (I love the way British real-estate agents write): "A splendid and attractive Georgian mansion house set within manicured pleasure grounds, extending to some 6 acres and quite idyllic. The accommodation within the mansion house extends to some 8,000 square feet but is further complimented by a leisure complex with pool, sauna and gym, a private theatre with traditional pub and catering kitchen and further accommodation in a loft house, the old piggery and a gate lodge. A further stone outbuilding comprises a suite of private offices. The grounds include a walled garden, tennis court, kitchen garden, water garden and manicured lawns interspersed with mature trees and shrubs."
I especially like the grass tennis court, which is surrounded by a stone wall. That would certainly cut back on running to retrieve the ball; it would bounce off the stone and roll right back to you!

Little Free Library

Reader and Facebook friend Diane sent me a link to something called Little Free Library and said, "I would love to see these springing up around Southern Chesco and beyond." These "libraries" look like a cross between a colorful birdhouse and a bookshelf; everyone is encouraged to drop off books they've read and take ones that they haven't.
As their Facebook page explains, "We're building and promoting "Take a book, leave a book" structures that fit in a front yard, by a sidewalk, coffee shop or park and are just big enough to hold 20-30 books that kids and adults can give and take. Built with recycled materials, designed and decorated by neighborhood groups."
And according to their website, "If this were just about providing free books on a shelf, the whole idea might disappear after a few months.  There is something about the Little Library itself that people seem to know carries a lot more meaning.  Maybe they know that this isn't just a matter of advertising or distributing products. The unique, personal touch seems to matter, as does the understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books." 
The website for the group, based in Wisconsin, offers information about organizing, building, finding a site for and maintaining a Little Free Library.

The impatiens disease

I was waiting for "Kennett Paper" gardening columnist Duane Campbell to address this topic, but he hasn't yet so I will take up the charge. It seems that a disease called downy mildew has been wreaking havoc on impatiens this summer. The cause is a water mold, and symptoms are yellowing of foliage, stunting, defoliation and a whitish powder on the undersides of the leaves.
According to the newsletter from Groff's Plant Farm in Kirkwood, "Unfortunately there is no cure and once plants are sick, the only thing to do is bag them up and put them in the trash. DO NOT compost diseased plant material." Groff's advises not planting impatiens in any affected soil for 3 to 5 years; you can substitute begonias, New Guinea impatiens and coleus, which are mildew-resistant.

Hard work and horseplay

One of the places where I play tennis adjoins a large Amish farm, and we were playing on Tuesday afternoon while the hard-working farmer and several children were out there cutting cornstalks and hauling them away on horse-drawn carts. The stark contrast between their labor and our play made me feel both frivolous and extremely fortunate. My sole connection with the soil that day had been purchasing and planting two astilbes, two lungworts and a brunnera in my new shade garden.

Turn turn turn

As regular readers know, the senior Tally-hos moved house over the summer. I volunteered to get rid of their big box of old record albums ("vinyl," as I believe it's known these days). Nostalgic friends quickly snatched up the Mary Poppins movie soundtrack and the Flyers' Stanley Cup commemorative album (underwritten by Girard Bank), and a former colleague has put in dibs for the Herb Albert 1960s jazz LPs, but the rest are still up for grabs. Drop me an email at and they're yours, any or all of them!
-- Classical: Vivaldi, Four Seasons; Bach, Brandenburg Concertos 1, 2, 6;
Handel, Water Music & Fireworks;Ravel, Bolero; Rimsky-Korsakoff, Scheherazade.
-- Jazz: Ramsey Lewis Trio, Hang on Ramsey; Al Hirt, Sugar Lips, Cotton Candy; Maynard Ferguson, Live at Jimmy's, MF Horn 2; The Complete Bunny Berigan (2 records in plastic); Sounds of the Great Bands; Original Big Band Theme Songs; Maynard Ferguson, Conquistador; Sidney Bechet & Mezz Mezzrow; Mugsy Spanier, "Hot Horn"; Judith Kay (Wilmington jazz singer); Doc Severinsen, "Night Journey"; Ella Live (Verve); Best of Dixieland.
-- Christmas: Christmas Song, Nat King Cole;Little Drummer Boy, Harry Simeone Chorale.

-- Pop: Burt Bacharach; Maureen McGovern, And the Envelope Please, The Morning After; Billy Joel: Greatest Hits, Turnstiles, The Stranger, 52nd Street; Barbara Streisand Greatest Hits; Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron, The Royal Guardsmen.
-- Soundtracks: The Graduate; Camelot ("Living Strings"); "All in the Family" excerpts and soundtrack, 1971, with booklet; "Emmanuelle" soundtrack; Magnificent Motion Picture & Love Themes."
-- Disco: A Taste of Honey; Salsoul Orchestra: "Nice & Nasty"; Salsoul (with Strawbridge & Clothier price sticker)
-- Other: Promotional album by German laboratory equipment company Rudolf Brand; "Listening in Depth: An Introduction to Columbia Stereo Sound" (stolen from somebody named Gary Jenkins); "Stereo Action Unlimited" by RCA Victor; "Ebb Tide" stereo demonstration by Frank Chacksfield & Orchestra; "Moods in Music: Music for Relaxation."
Act now and I'll even throw in a bunch of cassette tapes! That email again:

Food for birds and people

Faithful and observant "Unionville in the News" reader Jim sent me an email urging me to keep my hummingbird feeder replenished with nectar through the end of September: "They may not have left for the season. This morning I would have written that I saw one last Wednesday, but now I shall report that I saw one just an hour ago sitting on one of my feeders. It is possible that the summer residents have departed, but now we have migrants to think of."
Jim also contributed his two cents to the ongoing Genuardi's/Giant compare-and-contrast discussion: "I believe that when Genuardi’s was sold to Safeway (or whoever), the prices went up and the quality went down. Three cheers for the Giant; especially for the gas discount!
Jim's thoughts are echoed by another of my correspondents, who said she stopped going to Genuardi's "except when they had a good sale" or she wanted their olive bread.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fungus fest

I am sure the Mushroom Fest will be covered amply elsewhere in these pages by my colleagues, so I will just say here that it was a good time and Kennett put its best foot forward. Obviously the organizers have things down to a science: just when I needed to throw out a napkin or a soup cup (the Kennett Square Inn's cream of mushroom soup!), there was a trash receptacle waiting. I was amused to see that residents in the neighborhoods "reserved" their on-street parking spaces with chairs, just like you see in South Philadelphia after snowstorms.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's what's for breakfast

Fran Keller's Eatery, 119 West State Street in Kennett, has two new regulars: my parents. Having moved to East Marlborough last month, they were looking for a new breakfast spot and were thrilled to find this popular downtown spot. My mother, who grew up in the South, said she hasn't had such thick, tasty grits for years. She also praised the friendly camaraderie and the puffy and delicious omelettes.

Spelling counts

The Young Relative is normally shrewd beyond his years when it comes to eliciting praise from Tilda, but he must be out of practice: he told me that on his first spelling pretest of the school year, he got 3 words wrong out of 16.
I let him know that was distinctly NOT up to Tally-ho standards.
He didn't improve matters by saying that only one kid in the class did better than he did -- that scholar, it seems, got every single word correct, including even "turquoise" and "whimsical."
The Young Relative almost made up for it, though, by correctly spelling "Barack Obama" and "Mitt Romney" when I quizzed him. And on the first Sunday of Football Season, he redeemed himself entirely by correctly spelling the surname of the Steelers QB: "Roethlisberger."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Blessed be

A Springdell resident was kind enough to alert me to the following, which sounds like a delightful event:
"St. Michael Lutheran Church has an annual "Blessing of the Animals" where people bring their pets (cats, dogs, hamsters, snakes, etc.) to receive a blessing.  This year it is being held on October 14th at 9:15 AM in the church's fellowship hall."
St. Michael is on Doe Run Road, just east of the Unionville roundabout.
According to Wikipedia, many churches hold ceremonies blessing animals around the time of Oct. 4, the feast day of Francis of Assisi, who is the patron saint of animals.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

That's my business

I didn't mind getting a birthday coupon for a free drink at Starbucks; in fact I was quite pleased. Same thing when the grocery store, obviously keeping track of my purchases, periodically sends me little coupon books for free ice cream and peanut butter and bagged salad.
But I take exception to getting a "Happy Birthday" mailer with coupons from a bunch of restaurants and businesses that I've never even been to. I realize there's no real privacy anymore, but how on earth do they know my birthdate?
I suppose the outfit that puts out these mailers had a go-getter rep and a nifty sales presentation. But for me, at least, it's a gambit that backfired: I'm LESS likely to patronize them, and I even thought it was a little creepy.

Town Tour

My friends and I had a terrific time at the Unionville Town Tour on Sept. 6. The turnout was great -- I don't think I've ever seen the fire hall/post office parking lot so full -- but because there were several guides, the pace of the tour was fine.
Doug Mooberry was our guide and did a wonderful job, adding many personal stories to the prepared script: he got the title to his first car at one place, and as a youth spent Sundays painting another one. Some of the homeowners were on hand and shared stories of the features (good and bad) of their houses, and Ella Sestrich, sporting a bonnet and long skirt, told us all about the building that used to house Sestrich's General Store (now Catherine's Restaurant).
I found it fascinating to learn that there were once three oyster bars in Unionville, and one resident told us that she still finds oyster shells whenever she digs in her garden.

Doug told us that he also helped out on a previous tour of Unionville that was held in 1976 for the Bicentennial, but this year's was much, MUCH easier and safer because of the brick sidewalks -- the Unionville Pathway -- that were installed in 2005. It was so interesting to walk through town because you notice so many more details of houses and gardens than you do when you're driving by. Plus we got to see the little garages and studios behind many of the buildings.
If I listed all of the people I saw on the tour I could fill up this column to my editor's satisfaction. I got to chatting to one nice woman, and I asked where she lived. Well! It was as if we were at one of those testimonial person-of-the-year dinners where they start giving general hints about the identity of the honoree and finally get so specific that even he or she figures it out. First she told me her road, and then the minute she said "schoolhouse" I knew EXACTLY where she lived and who she was and realized we were Facebook "friends" but had never met. It was so nice to finally shake hands!

At the end of the tour, going back to our cars, we saw people gathering in the hall behind the post office. Always curious, I went up and asked a guy with a tie if this was another part of the tour. He laughed and said I was more than welcome to stay, but it was actually a zoning hearing.
I left hurriedly.
For more information about Unionville history, a very good resource is the East Marlborough Township Historical Commission's website,
P.S. A few days later I mentioned to a pal that I'd seen Bob Weer at the town walk. I couldn't understand my friend's reaction at all: first he was in shock, and then he was absolutely beside himself with excitement and wanted to know what on earth he was doing in Unionville, what he looked like, etc. Turns out he thought I had met Bob Weir, the Grateful Dead guitarist, rather than the East Marlborough Township supervisor.


I see that the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library in Kennett has just launched a Facebook page focused on its Young Adult programming. "Welcome to the BTML Teens page! We're still a work in progress, but watch this space for info on upcoming events at the library, as well as book, movie and music recommendations! If you want to see any particular content, shoot us an email at!"
Here's a good example of the way libraries are thriving in the Internet era rather than being consigned to the bricks-and-mortar limbo that naysayers predicted.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

You'd better not build that

At their Sept. 4 monthly meeting the West Marlborough supervisors agreed to pay $1,500 toward the cost of preparing the Unionville Comprehensive Regional Plan, a document being worked on jointly by West Marlborough, East Marlborough and Newlin.
The total cost is $12,000, 60 percent of which is paid by Chester County, with the rest divided between the three municipalities.
Supervisor Michael Ledyard said that having a regional plan will benefit West Marlborough because rather than forcing each township to provide for higher-density use, such uses could be sited in the more densely populated East Marlborough.
Responding to one resident's concerns that the other townships might not share West Marlborough's rural zoning philosophy, Mr. Ledyard said that West Marlborough would be reserved for agricultural use only.
"It's not a problem," he said of the regional plan. "It's very good to us."
Supervisor Bill Wylie pointed out that the regional plan is the only document that ties together the townships; each municipality will still have its own distinctive zoning ordinance and regulations.
The 205-page plan is available on East Marlborough Township's website.

In other business...

In other business at the West Marlborough supervisors' September meeting on Sept. 4:
-- The board discussed a complaint that many truckloads of spent compost from mushroom houses are being dumped in huge mounds on a field off Hood Road (near the high-tension lines) rather than spread. A nearby farmer is concerned that runoff from the piles will damage his alfalfa crop, and the site is near the headwaters of the White Clay Creek, raising concerns about contamination. The supervisors said the company doing the dumping appears to have all the needed permits from the county, but township engineer Al Giannantonio said he will look into the situation.
-- The board received a report of building permits issued in August, including two to the Irelands to demolish buildings on their newly purchased property at 150 Springdell Road.
-- The board suggested that any residents wanting to do large-scale burning should inform the local fire department and should ascertain whether any burning bans are in effect.
-- Supervisor Hugh Lofting reported that the road crew repaved a few roads and worked on culverts along Hicks and Thouron Roads.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Way's Florist has opened a new shop at 625 East Cypress Street, Kennett Square, in the little shopping center where Minnie's Bakery used to be (and where the wonderful bakery Panaderia Lara now is). I remember going to Way's Greenhouses (off Ways Lane) years ago and buying newspaper-wrapped bunches of roses that were considered "seconds" but to my mind were just as pretty.


It wasn't especially hot today but it certainly was humid and sticky, more like the August weather that we didn't really have.
I saw a pal at the post office and she greeted me, "How are you? Fine, until you got out of your air-conditioned car, right?"

Spick and span

All of our local YMCA branches have reopened from their shutdown weeks, or "Enhancement Weeks" as they like to call them now. The steps, weighted bars, dumbbells, mats and jump ropes are all neatly stacked and organized, and everything looks and smells clean and freshly painted. I went to the Kennett Y on the first day that it reopened and was surprised to hear a grasshopper chirping at the top of the staircase: how did it get all the way upstairs? The wood floors in the Kennett Y's gymnasium were refinished and are absolutely gleaming, as are the floors in the Jennersville Y's aerobics room. It's surprising how easily the gliding discs (those round purple things that challenge your balance) actually glide over a clean surface as opposed to a gritty one.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Around the yard

Pumpkins were my experimental crop this year, and the vines started dying back a few weeks ago, revealing quite a nice crop. They're starting to turn orange. I've put straw underneath each one to discourage rot, but I'm not sure if they'll last until October.
A gardening feature in a home magazine I was reading suggested mixing vining crops with perennials. Are they kidding? I may not be a "style maker," but in my experience, those perennials wouldn't stand a chance. I thought I allotted enough space for the pumpkins, they quickly took over the lettuce, the carrots and one row of zinnias and they're using the sunflowers as a trellis.
In other signs of autumn, there were two stink bugs on the screen door yesterday, and although I'm still putting out fresh hummingbird nectar, I think they've left us for the season.

Dinner-table traveler

Barbara Landefeld Pratt, who describes herself as a "retired Unionville Elementary teacher/Kennett YMCA person," wrote to tell me about West Chester University's upcoming Travel Adventure Film Series.  
Here's this year's schedule: 
-- Canada's Maritime Provinces (John Holod), Mon., Sept. 17 or Tues., Sept 18 (dinner)
-- Northern Europe (Marlin Duran), Mon., Oct. 15 or Tues., Oct., 16 (dinner)
-- Jerusalem (Rick Ray), Mon., Nov. 12 or Tues., Nov. 13 (dinner)
-- Korea (Buddy Hatton), Mon., March 4 or Tues., March 5 (dinner)
-- San Francisco (Sandy Mortimer), Mon., March 18 or Tues., March 19 (dinner)
-- Royal Inca Road (Karin Muller), Mon., April 8 or Tues., April 9 (dinner)
She notes, "If you go to the film on Tuesday night instead of the Monday night 7 p.m. film, you can have cuisine of the film area. You need to reserve your 5:30 dinner in Sykes Hall about a week in advance."    
For information about reservations, tickets and prices, you can email Arlene Rengert ( or visit the website,
Thank you, Barbara, for the tip! If anyone ever wants to contact me, my email address is

Fair Hill

I spent Saturday night south of the Mason-Dixon line at a party sponsored by the Fair Hill Volunteer Mounted Patrol, which is raising money to buy large animal rescue equipment for the local equine community. It was heaps of fun, a country-and-western Cecil County evening with lots of friendly people in jeans and cowboy hats doing line dancing and sharing their drinks and snacks.
I knew a couple of people there from hound-walking, met a few more and realized that you really can't forget the steps to the Macarena no matter how much you may want to.
The Unionville friend I went with found out I had never been to Wesley's, the nearby Elkton saloon and restaurant, so we left the party at about 10 and headed over there for a nightcap. The place was hopping, and I delighted in the novelty of downing a Coors Light in a distinctly non-Unionville bar. (Wish we had been there earlier for the crabs!)
My pal, who is nursing a concussion after a foxhunting mishap on Thursday, played a video game involving zapping zombies. The way she went at it with both hands, I'm fairly comfortable she hasn't suffered any brain damage. The way she climbed back into the truck when we left, however, was less reassuring.
"That hurts, doesn't it," I said, watching her try not to wince as she settled onto her injured hip.
"You won't hear me complain," she replied firmly. "Ever."
Horse people are tough.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

All's well that ends well

Thanks to an almost unbelievable chain of mishaps that started on Monday, we didn't have running water for the better part of the week. Nothing coming out of the faucet. No toilet. No shower. No laundry. No ice cubes. No coffee. No dishwashing.
But with the help of lots of bottled water and kind friends, it really wasn't that bad. Living without electric power is infinitely worse. I've done both, and as long as I have my smartphone, my computer and plenty of work to do, I'm pretty much a happy camper, even if it does involve some "roughing it" skills I learned way back in the Girl Scouts.
Plus, if you've made up your mind to be a hardy country person with a well instead of public water, you really can't whine about such a minor hardship (minor for me, that is, but not for people who have horses or livestock they need to keep watered, of course). Nonetheless ... my deepest gratitude goes out to everyone who worked so hard to get the water back running!

Fields of gold

You probably remember the spectacular display of sunflowers that Longwood Gardens planted two summers ago at Schoolhouse and Longwood Roads. It seems the trend they started hasn't gone away. Don't miss the gorgeous field of sunflowers to the east of the Unionville roundabout on Route 82.