Thursday, January 31, 2013

Up in the air

I first wrote about the Chester County Hot Air Balloon Festival two summers ago, when I was coming home from a party near Marshallton and just happened upon this huge event that I hadn't heard anything about. And then during last summer's fest, while I was out for an evening walk, I saw several of the balloons drifting silently over Doe Run.
Well, the ballooning enthusiasts had to move their event because the Embreeville Complex where it was held has been sold. So where's it going to be in 2013? At Plantation Field here in Unionville! Those of us who live nearby should be able to get a great view from our backyards. The event is set for June 14 and 15. Plantation Field is on the north side of Route 82 west of Unionville, between Green Valley Road and Tapeworm Road.

Coolness fail

So I'm watching TV at the Young Relative's house and a current celebrity comes on whom I actually recognize! (This is rare.)
"It's Pit Bull!" I exclaimed with glee, poking him in the arm. "See? And you thought your [Older Relative] Tilda wasn't hip!"
I got the same long-suffering sigh and pitying look that I've received since he was about age 5.
"[Older Relative] Tilda," he said patiently. "It said `Pit Bull' right there on the screen."
I was crestfallen: for once, I actually DO recognize a performer, and I can't even score any hipness points for it!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Weren't those few balmy days last week just wonderful? What a pleasant end to that fierce cold snap!
One of the places where I work out is an unheated garage in the borough of West Grove (it's a nicely gussied-up garage and it has a stuffed bear, a real bear, in a glass case in the lobby). During the cold spell, when the temperature was in the teens, I took my exercise class wearing a knit hat pulled down like a cloche, a fleece pullover, a turtleneck and fleece tights. I may have stripped off one layer of fleece halfway through class.
In contrast, on my most recent visit, it was 60 degrees out. I wore shorts and a tennis skirt and no socks.
However, one of my gym friends, who works as a contractor, takes issue with something I wrote in last week's column. I quoted a mechanic friend as saying that he prefers to work in the cold. My contractor friend begs to differ. He said he can drink hot coffee all summer long while working outside, but when it gets below freezing and the wind kicks in, "I think, man, I should've gone to a better college."
The wind and heavy rain that came through on Jan. 30 downed some power lines on a back road near me. I was passing by the next afternoon and asked one of the repair guys what had happened. He said a tree took out both a long stretch of wire and an entire utility pole. He and his colleagues were there until well after dark patching up the damage.

High praise

Wow, the Financial Times, Great Britain's equivalent of the Wall Street Journal, gave Longwood Gardens a giant green thumbs up. In a Jan. 25 column he wrote on the best garden tours around the world, the paper's gardening columnist, Robin Lane Fox, recommended that visitors to Southeastern Pennsylvania stop by the Barnes Foundation, the Chanticleer garden in Wayne, and then "the unsurpassed Longwood Gardens, where the conservatory displays are the world’s best."

Tractors for sale

The farm equipment collection of the late Bill Dreisbach is going to be auctioned off on March 7, starting at 9 a.m., at his farm, 829 Marlborough Spring Rd., East Marlborough Township. As the ad for the auction notes, Mr. Dreisbach was an "avid" John Deere collector, and there are a LOT of JD items listed, along with other farm equipment and antiques. The auctioneer is Wolgemuth Auction out of Leola.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Arrivals and departures

Last week I got an email from a friend and loyal reader urging me to see "Boeing Boeing," a comedy that opened Jan. 23 at the Delaware Theatre Company in Wilmington. I know she has a good sense of humor, so I took her advice and went to the Sunday matinee.
"Boeing Boeing" is a very funny, very silly classic farce that's set in Paris in the Swingin' Sixties. The American businessman Bernard manages to juggle three girlfriends, all stewardesses, by keeping meticulous track of their flight schedules. Given the vagaries of air travel, of course, the equilibrium doesn't last long, and inevitably the three women end up in his apartment at the same time. With the help of his visiting friend Robert and his temperamental housekeeper Berthe, romantic disaster is averted and -- unbelievably -- there's even a happy and symmetrical ending.
The energetic actors give the requisite over-the-top performances throughout this two-act whirlwind, taking quite a lot of pratfalls (the sofa in particular takes a beating). The physical comedy is hilarious -- one of the girlfriends, the German Valkyrie Gretchen, tosses everyone around. And I loved the Sixties costumes and decor.
The show runs through February 10. Thank you, Susan J., for the tip!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Risky turn

I've mentioned before how much I dislike turning left off Baltimore Pike into the Longwood Crossing shopping center (the one with Starbucks, Staples and Superfresh). It almost claimed another victim on Saturday afternoon. My friend was coming up to that turn when the light turned yellow. He started slowing down, but the car behind him didn't. He realized that he'd have to run the light if he didn't want to get rear-ended! And then the guy behind him ended up stopping at the light anyway.
It took my friend a good half-hour to calm down from this near-miss.
Awful intersection!
(As soon as I posted this, I heard from a few readers who had accidents here. It seems like every few weeks there's a new pile of refuse from an accident, some glass or broken trim, along the shoulder.)

Tough cookies

We hear a lot about how coddled and wimpy "kids these days" are, but that certainly wasn't the case with the hardy Girl Scouts who were selling cookies in subfreezing weather outside the Landhope in Willowdale this afternoon. I bought two boxes, Thin Mints and Shortbread. Stick with the classics!
Inside the store I said hi to a mechanic friend of mine who was just finishing up a Saturday at his garage. He was well wrapped up in thick cold-weather gear and a knit hat and said he vastly prefers working in the cold weather to the summer heat (he does work in a metal building). "This is like being in a cozy bed," he said of the cold snap.
I also spotted a woman wearing sandals, which looked very odd indeed -- but I suspect she had just had her toenails done and didn't want to smudge the silvery-green polish until it was fully dry.

Waste Oil Recyclers

My friends at Waste Oil Recyclers have added a wonderful video to their website, explaining how their company started and what it does. I had no idea how widespread their oil-collection business is -- they go all over the place! I got a sneak preview of the video when I stopped by their office in Modena last week, and the next day, while lunching at Hood's in Unionville, I was telling a friend of mine all about it.
The woman from the next table looked up suddenly: turns out she was Robin Mastrippolito, the proud mother of two of the Waste Oil guys. She pulled out her smartphone and we all watched the video, which is also available on YouTube.
Hood's, what a great meeting place! AND they sell The Kennett Paper.

Unionvillus in Nuntio

This morning I came across the tireless phrase "caveat emptor" (buyer beware) and it got me thinking about my years studying Latin in high school and college. What, I wondered, would be the Latin for a contemporary phrase like "email"? Well, according to the Latin version of Wikipedia (Vicipaedia), it's "cursus electronicus." SUCH an apt phrase!
In my search I also found that the ancient Roman poet Catullus figured in a sex-discrimination suit against a London hedge-fund manager, who is accused of emailing a particularly naughty snippet from one of his poems, in Latin, to a female underling. I remember translating that poem in high school and feeling secretly amazed we were allowed to do so.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Emily Litella

Living in Unionville, we can easily develop tunnel vision. Yesterday I was lunching with a friend who shares her home with three dogs, her "fur-children." She was scanning last week's Kennett Paper and came to a letter-to-the-editor about our Congressman with the headline (I'm paraphrasing): "Pitts to protect elderly." She thought a plan was being proposed to issue pit bulls to senior citizens for home-security purposes -- which she found to be a very sound idea. I burst out laughing, as did she, and she conceded that she had also misread a heading in my column, "2013 roster," as "2013 rooster." Did I mention she also keeps chickens?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Harp's delight

This looks great! On Friday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m., Cochranville residents Kevin and Janet Witman will be presenting the "Astral Harp Experience."
The blurb describes the show as "an exciting multimedia event combining amazing astro-photography with stellar harp playing!"
Kevin, a friend of mine from the Jennersville Y, is a planetarium operator/lecturer at the North Museum in Lancaster. He frequently posts his photos of the planets and stars on his Facebook site and they are astonishing. His wife, Janet, is a professional harpist and directs the Brandywine Harp Orchestra.
The show will be held at the Kennett Friends Meetinghouse on North Union and West Sickle Streets, and admission is free (as it always is at Hadley Fund programs). I'm really looking forward to this show.

Stock up now!

Frequent readers know that I have some fearless friends who are more than familiar with the local ERs, have their orthopaedic surgeon on speed-dial and can list from memory all the local 24-hour pharmacies. I've almost gotten used to receiving their alarmingly nonchalant calls about falls, concussions, sprains, dislocations, bites, stings and other mountain-biking, gymnastic, power-tool-related and equestrian mishaps.
Well, apparently the marketing powers have done their data-mining and now have me pegged as an Amateur Helper: I just received a catalog that offers a do-it-yourself surgical kit (including a suture set) and "a Trauma Pak with QuikClot" ("Let's hope you never have a sucking chest wound on the job." Indeed!). Or maybe the company figured that sending a catalog to everyone with a Unionville ZIP code would be a smart move.
And did I mention the combination nail puller, wrench and bottle opener depicted on the very same page? It's called the Exhumer. Ooooo! Just order me a gift card!

484 and all that

Outside a nearby apartment house, I spotted a home-made "for rent" sign that gave the landlord's phone number. It consisted of nothing but the digits 4 and 8. It was as if it was a 10-digit binary code, but with 4s and 8s instead of 0s and 1s. There were no hyphens, no spacing, nothing to help the prospective tenant remember the number by "chunking" it into smaller pieces. You'd have to stop and write it down digit by digit or snap a photo of it, tough to do at a busy intersection. If the landlord doesn't get any phone calls, he or she will probably blame the economy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Township business

The West Marlborough Township planning commission and supervisors will be having their monthly meetings on Tuesday, Feb. 5, starting at 7 p.m. I don't think there's much pressing business on either group's agenda, although the supervisors did mention at their January meeting that they are reviewing the fees that the township charges for various permits and hearings. I'll let you know if I hear that anything noteworthy will be discussed.


I can't remember the last time it was this cold for this long. I know that one winter back in the mid-90s it was so cold that the deck and the roof made weird creaking noises at night, and who can forget that hard winter when the thick ice on the roads would thaw, then freeze up again, and didn't disappear fully until spring.
A friend reports that her chickens were squawking at her this morning, as if she were responsible for the cold and could do something about it.
Still: daffodils have appeared in the floral section of the grocery store, the paperwhites I planted in pots weeks ago suddenly started growing and are flowering, and I just spotted snowdrops in bloom while I was outside refilling the bird feeder. And I've even received some gardening catalogs in the mail!
Also, my brother-in-law put our temps in perspective when he informed me that the high temperature -- the high, mind you! -- in his Minnesota town was minus 2. I believe he still rode his bike to work.

Good luck, Clancys

I was so sorry to see that "Steeplechase Times" is ceasing publication. As the press release put it:
"Steeplechase Times, a newspaper founded by Joe and Sean Clancy of ST Publishing, will become part of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, the monthly magazine published by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association effective with the March edition. The move brings to a close 19 years of print publishing for Steeplechase Times, but opens doors to more resources and expansion."
It took me a long time to figure out the racing jargon in the paper (I still haven't mastered the intricacies of how a claiming race works), but I admired the writing and photography from day 1. When the Clancys wrote about the untimely death of a horse or a jockey, or a great horse's retirement, the story came straight from the heart and reflected not only their deep insider's knowledge of the sport but also their love for it. And they had an excellent ear for the droll -- I always liked the list of timely witticisms they heard around town.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Country life

A tall, dark stranger came into my life on Saturday morning.
I was working at my desk when I heard whinnying. I knew that the foxhunters were meeting nearby, but this sounded REALLY close.
I looked out the window -- and there was a black horse standing in my driveway.
I'm an avid spectator of equestrian events but not much of a participant. But I did know enough to realize that I'd better try to get hold of him.
Without even saving what I had on the computer screen, I threw on jacket, hat and boots, walked outside and greeted my very handsome, very well-groomed visitor. He let me take hold of his lead rope with no fuss (thank goodness) and as I walked him down the driveway and onto the road I pondered where this guy might have come from and what on earth I should do with him. I knew he didn't belong to the ladies at the end of the road, because I know their horses well. Maybe he belonged to the trainer down the road?
First brilliant idea: I took his photo and posted it on Facebook, asking if anyone recognized him. A friend immediately chimed in, "Never look a gift horse in the mouth!" (So helpful, Rob; thanks.)
We walked up and down the road for about 15 minutes when I heard the sounds of a horse approaching -- sure enough, it was the grateful trainer down the road trotting up to collect his wayward horse. He told me that "Mr. Universo" is something of a rock star, likes to have his own way and has bolted before.
"This'll give you something to write about!" he said with a grin as I turned over the lead to him.
For sure! It was definitely an exciting morning for me -- much to the amusement of my friends who have all-too-frequent experience as horse catchers.
A pal of mine checked out Mr. Universo's pedigree and found that this Brazilian native has both Northern Dancer and Native Dancer in his bloodline. No wonder he's fast!


Wegman's has applied to build a supermarket in Concord Township, Delaware County, on the south side of Route 1 east of Route 202. The chain will need conditional use approval from the township supervisors before it can break ground. I'm not sure that this Wegman's would be a lot closer than the Downingtown one for me, but I'll bet it will be for a lot of my readers.
(Thanks to my friend Rich Schwartzman of "Chadds Ford Live" for this tip!)

Saturday, January 19, 2013


If only I got paid by the meeting like I did at the beginning of my journalism career! On Jan. 17 the West Marlborough supervisors had a conditional-use hearing that lasted all of two minutes; their only action was to postpone the Russell Jones spent compost hearing until 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21. One resident came in a few minutes late and missed the whole thing!
The court reporter, Bill Handy, had been forewarned that it was going to be a very brief meeting, so he brought his wife along and the two of them headed out to The Whip for dinner as soon as he packed up his court reporting machine.

Tires and turtles

Sure, a lot of places boast that they offer their customers "free Wi-Fi," and that's great, but really: how many have waiting rooms with two turtles and a great big South American fish swimming in a huge tank, overstuffed chairs, and a coffee table piled with current newspapers and magazines? Colledge Tire on West Cypress Street does, as I found out when I got a tire repaired there yesterday. The cause of the slow leak (which was quickly becoming a fast leak) turned out to be an inch-and-a-half-long nail. They fixed it and had me on my way in a half-hour. Loved those turtles!


Last night I had the great pleasure of seeing "Chasing," a short documentary about steeplechasing and specifically about Unionville's own Jake Chalfin. 
According to the press release: "The 23-minute film, produced for horse racing cable channel HRTV’s “Inside Information” series, looks inside the world of American steeplechasing through the eyes of an injured former jockey learning to cope with his new reality. The uplifting film features the beauty of steeplechasing and Thoroughbred racing as well as one person’s struggle to deal with a life-changing blow. An amateur jockey, Chalfin was injured in a fall at a point-to-point in 2010 and paralyzed from the chest down."
Jake is the true star of the show: he's articulate, inspiring and genuine. But it's also fun to see several locals on screen, as well as lots of shots of the Willowdale Steeplechase and some "helmet-cam" footage. The gorgeous green fields and hills of summertime Unionville are on full display, a welcome contrast to our current boot-sucking mud.
The premiere, hosted by Jake and filmmaker Kristy Cecil, was held at the Stroud Water Research Center in West Marlborough on Friday (complete with popcorn!). The film will be aired on the cable channel HRTV at 8, 8:30, and 11 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27.
Congratulations to everyone involved in making this beautiful and deeply moving film. At dinner afterward a friend of mine said he could have sat there and watched it several times in a row, and I completely agree.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Time to de-decorate

Not to sound like one of those zero-tolerance homeowners' associations ... but, really, it's nearing the end of January. Your Christmas wreath and garlands are turning brown and depressing, and it's high time to take them down. Christmas lights I will tolerate a little longer just because I love that super-bright gaslight blue color. Thank you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Silver lining

I decided to clean out my jewelry box, getting rid of anything that's not wearable or that no longer carries any sentimental value, and this afternoon I boxed it up and took it all to Kennett Square Jewelers at 123 West State Street. They quickly sorted out the "good stuff" from the costume jewelry, peered at stones and chains under magnification, did an actual acid test on one antique piece (it was indeed gold!) and paid me a surprising amount for the whole kit and caboodle. The cozy little shop sells lovely things, including some nice amethysts and opals in vintage settings; definitely worth a visit whether you're buying or selling.

Flu days

Let me tell you, it was pretty much a Slough of Despond at the local drugstore this morning. There was a long line of sick people waiting dispiritedly for their prescriptions, one looking more miserable than the next. One poor fed-up guy took issue with the prescription he'd been given, telling the pharmacist that he was certain it wasn't what his doctor had ordered, nor had he been given the proper number of pills. Meanwhile the intercom kept announcing yet another phone call for the pharmacist. It was about as cheerful as the Mines of Moria, if the Mines of Moria sold lozenges and tissues. I felt like apologizing for being so perky and healthy; I was just there to purchase a cane for an injured friend. I got out of there as fast as I could to avoid inhaling germs.

Jam for the Soldiers

My pal Dave Dickens is organizing a music festival on March 9 to benefit Project Healing Waters, which provides therapeutic fly-fishing programs for active-duty soldiers and veterans
Dave reports that the band lineup for "the 1st Annual Jam for the Soldiers" is "Hake and Jarema, Gateway Drugs, HellSaddle, Josh Komorowski and the Sons of Thunder, Mason Porter, The Rolling Thunder Blues Revue, WaveRadio, The Sermon!, and The Wallace Brothers Band. We may have a surprise visitor from Nashville as well. Talk about a lineup!" 
The event will be at the Dixons' Thorncroft Equestrian Center, 190 Line Rd., Malvern. Tickets are $20 each (you can get them at the door), with all proceeds going to Project Healing Waters.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chinese food

I had lunch today at the Kings Island Chinese restaurant on Baltimore Pike and was pleased to see that they're having their all-you-can-eat Chinese New Year buffet again. This year it's on three Sundays: February 10, 17, and 24. "Happy Snake Year!" reads the poster.

Slow down

If you're heading north on Newark Road from Toughkenamon, lighten up on the accelerator: the speed limit has been lowered to 25 m.p.h. I think the change was made quite recently, because there's still a warning sign at the curve in front of Modern Mushrooms telling motorists to slow down to 30 m.p.h. The limit goes up to 40 m.p.h. near the Route 1 bypass.

Tapeworm Road

An author named Dennis Wolfe of the Columbia-Mountour Area Vocational-Technical School in Bloomsburg wrote to me asking if I know how Tapeworm Road here in West Marlborough got its name. He said he's working on a book about "scenes and events" throughout Pennsylvania, and one chapter focuses on odd road names. This one certainly qualifies. If you have any information, you can email him at
Dennis sent me two funny photos from his collection of Pennsylvania road signs. One sign welcomes visitors to Freeland, which it boasts is Pennsylvania's highest borough, with an elevation of 1,942 feet. A contradictory sign, from the borough of Eagles Mere, however, gives an elevation of 2,126 feet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Under construction

As the next step in Kennett Y's ongoing renovation, the cycling studio, located off the gymnasium, is being expanded. This means that the adjacent equipment-storage room has to be emptied, so all the mats, dumbbells, bars, weights, and other equipment have been moved to the periphery of the gym (transferring all of the weights must have have been a good workout in itself!). I was in a hurry to pick up my hand weights before class on Tuesday and grabbed a 10-lb weight and a 12-lb weight instead of an identical set. I realized the discrepancy surprisingly late into class.
Before the workers dismantled it, the vacant equipment-storage room looked like something out of that old furniture store, This Side Up, with a wooden ladder and plywood platforms. The Y tells us that this phase of the work will take about two or three weeks.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ice cream in downtown Unionville?

An article in last week's Kennett Paper mentioned that an ice-cream parlor is being proposed for downtown Unionville! Being a big fan of ice cream, I asked around to find out a little bit more information. Jerry Brown of Newlin Township is the one who's contemplating the venture, which would be located in the building that until recently housed Andra Rudershausen's quilt shop. The East Marlborough Township supervisors are researching how such a business should be categorized and regulated under the zoning code, as either a retail shop or a restaurant.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Locked up

This afternoon I saw our township police officer, Lieutenant Robert Clarke, patrolling along Lamborntown Road and stopped to chat. He confirmed a rumor I'd heard, that thieves are rummaging through cars parked in driveways, even here in our rural area. Clarkie said the bad guys are apparently after whatever they can find: change, wallets, credit cards, electronics.
His advice: "Lock your doors!"

Rural bliss

What remarkable weather we had on Saturday! With the rain the night before, the Cheshire foxhunters didn't know whether they would be going out until almost the last minute (despite the mud and fog, they did). It was cloudy all morning, but then at about noon the clouds disappeared, the sun shone brightly and the temperature rose into the 50s. A glorious mid-winter day!
The fog reappeared as the sun went down. I was coming home through Willowdale a little after 5 p.m. and the dense low fog in the field along the east side of Route 82 reminded me of the end of the July 4 fireworks display, years ago when we had fireworks at Willowdale.

Reserve champ!

Huge congratulations to Bryce Fitzgerald of Cherry Knoll Farm, West Marlborough, whose Angus steer Fuzzy won second place for Purebred Angus Steer Lightweight and was named Purebred Angus Reserve Champion Steer at the 97th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg. As you read in last week's Kennett Paper, Bryce, age 14, is an eighth grader at Patton Middle School. Well done!
(I checked the Farm Show results to see how the baking contest winners from our Unionville Community Fair fared in the state competition, but I didn't see any local names. Better luck next year.)

Winter Soul

A young friend asked me to give a little publicity to an event he's involved in, the "Winter Soul Shakedown Festival," hosted by the Brandywine Folk Collective, to be held starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Charles A. Melton Arts and Education Center, 501 E. Miner St., West Chester.
The festival's Facebook page says that not only is this "the largest West Chester music party of the year" but also "all in attendance will get an extra special treat this evening from The Pretty Dittys as they release their new single and music video for Isabel." Performers, described as "the hottest Philadelphia area folk artists," are Left of Logic, The Sun Flights, Emma Nelson, Vita and the Woolf, The Pretty Dittys, Iamlove, and qiet. Admission to the all-ages event is $10.

Red, white and green

The former Barnwood restaurant on West Cypress Street outside of Kennett has a new tenant, a Mexican place called Panaderia y Taqueria Morelos. The outside has been repainted in red, white and green stripes. May they have better luck than their litany of predecessors, most recently another Mexican eatery!

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Fan!

Thank you to the nice neighbor who told me that my column is the first thing she turns to in The Kennett Paper each week! That was so heartening to hear, first because it means people are supporting local journalism -- and second because I really try to write about the things that interest folks in the different circles that make up our wonderful little community.

The Coffee Party

This afternoon I was having coffee at the Kennett Starbucks with a pal when my phone rang and I answered. It was a chronically cranky Kennett friend of mine, and over the hubbub at the coffee shop I could hear him say that he needed to apologize for a silly misunderstanding we had had.
I told him that was nice, but I could barely hear him because I was at Starbucks and it was jammed.
"Oh! I can't apologize if you're in a Republican place!" he said.
I didn't understand this at all: he's a staunch Democrat, certainly, but he's also a Starbucks fan.
"You can't apologize because I'm in a Republican place?!" I said, in some confusion.
"Public! PUBLIC!" he said, loudly enough that my friend across the table could hear. And at this point she was roaring with laughter, which is good, as I was trying to cheer her up.
Cranky friend and I decided we'd better talk later, in a quieter setting, lest we generate another misunderstanding.

Thoughts and prayers

Usually as I settle into bed for the night I review the day and think about who might need some special attention from above. So the other night I ran through my local friends and neighbors and realized that all sorts of calamities were besetting them: from the death of loved ones (human and animal), to catastrophic illness, to major surgery, to romantic heartbreak.
The next morning I mentioned this sad list to a friend, and she said she has found exactly the same thing. Her solution: she simply prays for everyone.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vintage Y

While clearing out some old files I found a four-page autumn 1990 brochure from the "Kennett-Unionville" branch of the YMCA, which was then located at 112 South Broad Street in Kennett Square.
Executive director was Nancy Donnelly, program director Betsy Benner, director of administration Nancy Rolfe, adult fitness coordinator Marlel Holloway and Board Chairman Jeff Whittle.
The Y's phone number was only seven digits long; the 215/610 split hadn't occurred yet.

According to the brochure, most of the Y exercise programs were held at the American Legion hall in Kennett and at local schools (one was the Unionville Middle School, which hadn't yet changed its name to Patton Middle School). As I recall, the South Broad Street facility boasted one small aerobics room that wasn't air conditioned. It would get sweltering during Step class in the summer!
(Just out of curiosity, this afternoon I walked past the old white building and saw that it's vacant and boarded up. In addition to the Y, it also formerly housed a billiard parlor, a music studio and I believe a boxing gym.)
Membership fees in 1990 were $35 for a youth, $40 for an adult and $60 for a family, with additional charges for each program. (Twenty-three years later, I pay $63 a month for my adult membership, which I think is very reasonable considering all that today's Y offers.)
If somebody from the Y wants this piece of memorabilia, please get in touch with me and I'll drop it off: (Update: It has been CLAIMED by Doug Nakashima of the Kennett Y!)

End of the year

At their January meeting, the West Marlborough supervisors heard a wrap-up report from the township engineer, Al Giannantonio, about 2012 development activity in the largely rural township: 12 zoning permits; 6 subdivision/land development plans; 23 building permits; 3 demolition permits; and 14 certificates of occupancy were issued. (The three building permits issued in December were for work being done on an old barn and house on Apple Grove Road; reroofing at the Powell property on Street Road; and construction of a retaining wall at the Dupreys' Cherry Knoll Farm on Wilson Road.)
The supervisors also said they're in the process of reviewing the township's schedule of fees for zoning and building permits.


How convenient -- if unexpected -- that we have a Dubarry store in West Nottingham, west of Oxford! To celebrate the completion of a rush editing project, I decided to splurge on a pair of their boots, but I really didn't want to buy them online without trying them on.
The friendly sales guy told me that the location of the retail store and warehouse is actually a strategic one because it's close to the port of Baltimore, where the Dubarry boots and clothes arrive from Ireland, and it's also a good central location for the various sporting events where the boots are sold. (The sales guy said he's the one who travels around to the events and stands in a bucket of water to advertise how waterproof the boots are!)
Coming home I thought I'd take the scenic route. Alas, that didn't work out so well: the "no outlet" sign along one-lane Glen Roy Road north of West Christine Road is quite accurate, no matter what my map said. And judging from the number of trees growing where the road used to be -- just past the "Road Closed" sign -- it has been abandoned for quite some time. I ended up on Route 926, where I got to drive past a farmhouse that always intrigues me: the ivy on the front wall  is so thick that it seems to play a structural role.
Update: The boots are as comfortable and waterproof as everyone promised. So far in the breaking-in process I've walked along a muddy road and across a marsh and stomped out some bonfire embers, and there's a little bit of chicken manure and cranberry sauce in the mix as well.

At New Bolton

New Bolton Center's First Tuesday lecture on Jan. 8 drew a big crowd. Dr. Olivia Schroeder, a veterinarian with New Bolton's Boucher Field Service, spoke about equine metabolic syndrome and pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction ("equine Cushing's disease"), two metabolic ailments that cause obesity in horses, and how they can be treated. These ailments are fairly common, which would explain the large audience. I was struck by the similarities between the equine metabolic syndrome and the human variety.
I attend these monthly lectures as often as I can and I'm always impressed with how knowledgeable and articulate these veterinarians are: they seem to have the latest research statistics at their fingertips, along with a wealth of practical experience to share.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 roster

In its annual reorganization meeting Monday evening, the West Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors elected Michael Ledyard as board chair for the coming year. Former chair William Wylie will become vice chairman, and the third supervisor, Hugh Lofting, will remain roadmaster and emergency management coordinator. Shirley Walton will continue as the township's secretary/treasurer, Dwight Yoder as the solicitor, Russell Yerkes as zoning officer, Al Giannantonio as engineer and Eddie Caudill as building inspector.
Tom Best and Clayton Bright were reappointed to the township's Zoning Hearing Board.
And in its three-minute-long meeting, the township's Planning Commission voted to stick with the status quo, re-electing Josh Taylor as chairman, Richard Corkran as vice chairman and Anna Myers as secretary.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Delayed compliments to the SECCRA landfill staff for their marvelous Christmas lights display! And I especially liked the single red ornament on the tiny evergreen tree just across Street Road from the landfill.

So much work to do

If you saw me at the post office, the gym, a party or the grocery store over the holidays, you may have thought, "My goodness, Tilda looks a bit harried!"
There's a reason for that.
In mid-November I had finished up all of my editing projects, so I sent out emails to my clients saying, "Hey, got anything in the pipeline for me?"
They all got back to me.
They all said, "YES!"
And I wasn't exactly in a position to turn them down, now, was I!
So in the past few weeks I've edited books on perioperative pain management, criminal procedure, the positive psychology of love, men's sexual problems (nice juxtaposition there!), musculoskeletal imaging, psychotherapy research, the American legal system, women in global politics, and a critical approach to the psychology of work. Next up is a 24-chapter book about "how we make decisions and how those decisions go wrong."


My globe-trotting photographer friend Paul seems to be recovering appropriately from his four frigid weeks on a small sailboat in Antarctica taking pictures of penguins, seals and other critters. I received this email from him yesterday:
"Things are good here. We flew down to Los Cabos at the southern tip of Baja yesterday, and are staying in a lovely little casita by the ocean. Currently looking out at the deep blue Pacific and listening to a sea breeze in the palms. Very civilized, except for my white legs and sandals."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Red light, green light

Yesterday I was waiting at the jammed-as-usual intersection of Routes 1 and 202 en route to the Young Relative's chosen venue for his birthday dinner, Outback Steakhouse. I heard a siren behind me, looked in the rear-view mirror and saw the flashing lights of an approaching emergency vehicle.
Fortunately the driver had one of those devices that enable emergency personnel to change red lights to green so they don't have to wait in traffic while a house is burning down or a person isn't breathing. It was pretty cool to see it work.
I looked online and found out that to buy one of these nifty Opticom gadgets, you are required to submit your order on official letterhead, complete with a picture ID proving that you are a real emergency-services person and not just an impatient motorist.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Silence is golden

Last week, you'll recall, I made the idiotic gaffe of mistaking a masculine-looking woman for a man in the locker room of the Kennett Y. A young friend who works at the gym managed to top this embarrassing story. She said a man came up to her and asked her when she was due. She's not pregnant. In fact, she has lost a significant amount of weight over the past year and has a perfectly flat belly.
She said the man was mortified and apologized profusely, but it still shook her up. She said no one ever asked her if she was expecting when she was heavier!
Speaking of the Y, we old-timers are expecting the annual January onslaught of the "Resolutionaries," the people who join for a New Year's resolution, show up at the gym a few times and then are never seen again. C'mon, newcomers: prove me wrong!

For sale

That ultramodern metal-and-glass house that overlooks the Brandywine on Route 100, up from Hank's, is on the market. You know the one, I'm sure. Asking price for the 19,000-square-foot house, on 21 acres, is $5.450 million. Annual taxes are $53,000. You can see all the details, and three aerial photos, online; the street address is 1245 S. Creek Rd. in Birmingham Township.

Making it easy

I can't believe the detailed responses I got to my plea a few weeks ago for the most direct route from Dick's Sporting Goods on Concord Pike to the Wild Birds Unlimited shop in Hockessin. (I described the roundabout Route 82 route that I took and was sure there had to be a better way.) Thank you to all of you who sent me your favorite routes!

1. Robert of Unionville suggested a very sensible option: taking Route 202 south to Route 141 (aka Powder Mill Rd.), crossing over Route 52, staying on 141 (now known as Barley Mill Rd.) to Route 48 (Lancaster Pike), and turning north onto 48 until it runs into Route 41 (still Lancaster Pike). "This leads you to Hockessin and the intersection of Yorklyn Rd. & Lancaster Pike."
2. Shelley tweaked the 141-to-48-to-41 route: "The faster route would have been to turn off 202/Mt. Lebanon onto 92 which turns into Rte 100, turn right on 141 and then right again on 48, which turns into Rte 41. It would be interesting to time both routes to see which is faster. But the way you went is most direct and certainly very pretty."
3. Jim G. offered this route: Naamans Road (Route 92) to Route 100 to Rockland and Montchanin; then north on 52, left onto Old Kennett Pike (the traffic light at Winterthur), then pick up Snuff Mill Rd. to Creek Rd. (Rte. 82) to Yorklyn. He added parenthetically, "I agree that Wild Birds Unlimited is a terrific store and would add Dover Saddlery and Concord Pet Foods & Supply to the list."
4. Richard B. of Landenberg suggested a slight variation of Jim's route: Beaver Valley Road to Smith Bridge Road, cross Route 100, take Center Meeting Road to Route 52, north on Route 52, left onto Snuff Mill Road ("it jig jogs at Old Kennett"), down to Route 82 at the Red Clay Creek. "Turn right on 82; follow 82/Creek Rd. to STOP sign and a left turn and over bridge at Yorklyn ... now you're on Yorklyn Rd....Wild Birds of course is at the end of Yorklyn Rd." He points out that motorists taking this route get to see Granogue, the historic/restored Center Meetinghouse, and Smith's Bridge ("one of the two or three covered bridges left in Delaware"). A former English teacher, Mr. B also noted a grammatical error that I made a few weeks back.
5. Before giving me her detailed directions, Marietta of Unionville first offered her qualifications as a direction-giver: she lived in northern Delaware for almost 30 years and worked at AstraZeneca on Route 202 until last year. She too suggested the Beaver Valley Road/Smith's Bridge/Snuff Mill Road option. "This one is almost as straight a line across northern Delaware . . .well, as straight a line as you can get in hilly terrain like that," she said. "But there are other ways that are a lot more user friendly but take longer and go miles out of the way. I'm a straight-line person. "   
6. And finally, Helen W. mused, "What is it that causes one to send an e-mail about directions on Christmas night?" She said she used to take the route I took but now endorses the same Beaver Valley/Smithbridge/Snuff Mill/Creek Road route given above. "I’ve found it to be a shorter drove when needing to get from one place to another, but not as scenic as 82 from Hoopes."

Physical therapy

Several of my friends are getting rehab at the physical therapy place in Willowdale: one has a new knee, one has a broken leg, another has a crushed foot. The woman with the new knee says the place is like "Starbucks for the disabled": a warm sense of camaraderie develops because the clients see each other there a few times each week, socialize while doing their PT exercises and note each others' progress.
After I wrote this, I found out that a gym friend is going to be joining them shortly. She managed to tear her anterior collateral and medial collateral ligaments AND her meniscus when she came off her horse and is having repair surgery this coming week.

"Fancy a free milkshake?"

My dear friend George, who lives on the south coast of England, rang in 2013 by eating at Dean's Diner, an American-style diner near his home. Dean's, which overlooks the harbor at Port Solent, features a black-and-white tile floor, red-and-white vinyl chairs, a jukebox, American flags and a menu heavy on burgers and milkshakes. "Dean's Favourite," for instance, is described as "a double burger, crispy bacon, griddled egg and double matured cheddar."
George was there for breakfast and enjoyed their "Authentic American Breakfast": pancakes with whipped cream and fresh berries. The photo on the website shows the stack of pancakes silhouetted against Mount Rushmore.

Making it complicated

The other night the Young Relative and his grandmother, visiting from western Pennsylvania, went out to dinner at Floga Bistro. This is normally a simple 10-minute trip west on Route 1 from their home, but it was dark and Grandmother, being unfamiliar with the roads, missed the left-hand turn into the shopping center. They went to the Route 82 exit, turned around and this time made it to the restaurant.
After dinner, they headed home east on Route. Grandmother then overshot the entrance into their neighborhood.
I think the only answer is for her to visit more often and learn the roads!

Sick bay

It seems like every other person around these parts was sick over the holidays. I heard miserable tales of digestive ailments and upper respiratory tract infections, even among usually hardy souls, and a nurse friend says she has never seen so many people sick with the flu. I've been unscathed so far, but I've been washing my hands the instant I get home.
One young friend's GI bug hit her acutely while she was halfway through a mint julep. Now she fears she'll forever associate that festive concoction with the sleepless night that followed. She ended up needing two bags of IV saline for rehydration.
In one scary local instance, a family who thought they had flu turned out to have carbon monoxide poisoning! Fortunately they are OK. They sat in the back of an ambulance being treated with oxygen while the fire company aired out their house.