Monday, September 30, 2013

On the road

On Apple Grove Road yesterday I spotted a motorcycle pulled over to the side of the road; the driver was poring over an atlas and the passenger was checking her phone. As I tend to do, I stopped and asked if they were lost. Sort of yes, sort of no: It turns out that they were covered-bridge fans, and their map showed three in the vicinity but wasn't at all specific about their locations. Wow, something I actually knew about: I directed them to two in the Laurels and the one on Frog Hollow Road.
They were nice folks and extremely grateful. Somehow I just didn't expect Super Glide riders in black leather jackets to be covered-bridge enthusiasts: that'll teach me not to stereotype!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Every living creature that moves"

The Pet Blessing ceremony at Unionville Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoon was so sweet! I took Binnie, my brown-and-white guinea pig, and she attracted much attention from kids and adults alike, primarily because she was one of the few non-canines in attendance (I saw one cat). The church's pastor, the Rev. Annalie Korengel Lorgus, said a brief, lovely prayer over her, and then Binnie got a certificate and a seed treat -- which she started munching right away. There were refreshments for the humans, too. Annalie told me that the green stole she wore, featuring charming drawings of animals, was made especially for the occasion.


I got to spend some time this past week with a high-school and college pal who now lives in Camden, Maine, but was visiting family down here. He said he'd forgotten how beautiful Chester County was. And that's quite a compliment when you think of how lovely the seaside town of Camden is!

The Farm Show

This coming weekend is one of my favorite events of the year: the Unionville Community Fair, aka the Farm Show! All over our area people are getting their entries ready: baking, printing photos, putting the finishing touches on their craft projects, selecting a dozen uniform eggs from their hens, choosing unblemished gourds and harvesting what's left of their gardens. But of course you don't need to enter anything to enjoy the Fair: come out for the parade, the exhibits, the animals and the camaraderie. You can find the fair schedule and all the information you need at

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Another Saturday night

Pomegranate molasses, salad with local blue goat cheese and North Star Orchard pears, perfectly grilled hogfish, gin and tonics with two superlative gins (Hayman's Old Tom and Martin Miller's), great conversation on everything from the infamous "Butcher" album cover to the perils of getting sick in Phnom Penh adds up to one absolutely magical and memorable evening in Embreeville with old -- or, rather, longstanding -- friends. Thank you, Bob and Carol, for your hospitality!
Sources: the pomegranate molasses is available at Wegman's (of course), many of the fresh goodies were purchased at the West Chester Growers' Market, North Star Orchard is in Cochranville, the Beatles' "Yesterday and Today" album with the original gory cover is available online for a pretty penny, and the hogfish was from Gadaleto's in West Chester.


There was a group of serious picnickers at Wolf's Hollow County Park in Cochranville this beautiful fall afternoon. There were two men, four women and a tiny leashed dog. The men went ahead to see if the desired picnic tables were free. They set off, each carrying portable chairs and rolling a large wheeled cooler, and a few minutes later hollered back that the tables were unoccupied, and the ladies should join them. The women followed, each carrying two chairs, slung over their shoulders, and bags full of food. I got the sense they'd done this once or twice before.
I spotted something at the park I hadn't noticed before, the "Boathouse Ruins." It's basically just three low stone walls, but what an evocative name: doesn't it conjure up a Victorian-era picnic with ladies in white dresses with parasols and mustachioed gentlemen in boater hats?

Honey of a beer

Congratulations to West Marlborough beekeeper Walt Broughton! Iron Hill Brewery is using his Swarmbustin' Honey in its "Swarmbustin' Saison" ale ($5.75 for 16 oz.). Here's their description: "Belgian-style farmhouse ale brewed with 80 lbs of local Chester County honey. This pale, unfiltered beer stings the pallet [sic] with flavors of mandarin oranges, tangerines, peaches, bananas and light wisps of honey." (Thanks to the Sharp-Eyed Friend for spotting this on Iron Hill's menu.)

Stink bugs are back

You don't need me to tell you that the stink bugs are back, looking for a warm place to spend the winter. They started on my screen door, and now they've moved inside, flying around and landing on walls, curtains, appliance cords and lampshades. (The one in the photo obviously likes Sandra Bullock's back.)
I already have my zip-lock bags ready for action in each room: I drop the bugs in, zip up the bag and then toss it when it gets full.
Then, of course I repeat the process, because a few minutes after I've cleared a room, it's full of them again!
Let's just hope the smelly invasion is not as bad as it was two years ago. I well remember pulling a scarf from a bureau drawer and finding dozens of them nestled in its folds.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Asking for trouble

This evening I went to stash my stuff in the Kennett Y's locker room before Pilates class. I opened one locker -- and just sitting there was somebody's purse, wide open, with cash and an iPhone clearly in view. Sure, yes, it's nice to trust people, but that seems a bit foolhardy. Lock your locker!

A cutting remark

The Cranky Friend is extraordinarily loyal to the woman who cuts his hair, having followed her around from shop to shop over the many years of their relationship.
After his most recent haircut, he enthused about her skills.
"Monica is the ONLY person I know who totally knows what she's doing," he stated.
"Hey!" I retorted, stung. "I totally know what I'm doing!"
He left a perfectly timed little pause.
"That Monica," he said. "She is the BEST!"

Families That Thrive

On the post office bulletin board I spotted this interesting-sounding event that's going to be held at London Grove Friends Meeting on Friday, Oct. 11. It's a parenting workshop called "Creating Families that Thrive," led by John Scardina. It's free of charge, open to the public and kid-friendly: child care and kids' activities will be provided by the Meeting's kindergarten so that parents can attend the program! The family pizza dinner starts at 6 and the program runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. RSVP to or on Facebook.

Magnolia Place

Magnolia Place, the new Kennett Square development at the site of the former Shur-Fine market at Cypress Street and Mill Road, is finally getting under way. There's heavy equipment out there doing earth-moving, and a couple of the townhouses are taking shape. I checked out the development's website,, and learned that there are going to be 79 townhouses and twins, starting at $319,000. "Also included in the community will be a wonderful building that will further enhance Kennett Borough with a Nice Restaurant, Fine Retail Stores & Luxury Apartments." Among them, of course, Victory Brewing.
The real estate agents for the development are the Riggin Group of RE/MAX of Wilmington; the builder is SAI Builders, LLC.

The new HR world

Since when are job interviews held in public places? I was sitting outside at Starbucks on a Wednesday afternoon and overheard what was unmistakably an interview for a fairly high-level position happening at the next table.
All the standard questions: What do you like about your current job? Dislike? Any further educational plans? How many people do you supervise? What's a typical workweek like?
Because it was some kind of a data job, there was all kinds of jargon that was incomprehensible to me, like "aggressively growing IOS architecture." ("Sounds like something you'd spray bug killer on," commented a waggish friend of mine when I shared the story.)
The interviewee was pretty smooth. What he didn't like about his job, he said, was all the obstacles the company put in his way in terms of hiring people quickly; it made his team less nimble and less competitive. (Good answer!)
And as part of his management philosophy, he won't ask his employees to work extra hours if he's not willing to do so, and he gave an example of some kind of a recent computer system crash when they all worked 80 hours a week.
When the interviewer started asking frankly about salary, I could bear no more and got up and left. There is no privacy anymore.
Oh, and if you recognize yourself in this item? Let me know if you got the job. You aced the interview as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stocking up

I've had quite a few proofreading projects to do recently, which means frequent trips to the local office-supply company for ink cartridges and paper. Naturally, they are stocked at opposite ends, which means you have to walk through the entire store. And -- gee, what a surprise! -- inevitably you realize during that walk that you're out of rubber bands or mailing envelopes, or you spot some clever must-have office gadget. Today the Christmas card display caught my eye, and I was actually not outraged by the fact that Christmas wares were on sale a month before Halloween; rather, I made a mental note to check if I had any leftover cards from last year. Might as well buy them while there's a good selection.
(The friend who was with me was perturbed that you couldn't buy just one pen; he was baffled that they were sold by the dozen. Frankly, I don't understand why you would need to buy just one pen, much less ANY pens, in the first place: merchants and banks keep my home well stocked.)

Early verdict on Patton

As regular readers know, the Young Relative and his family had an excellent experience during his five years at Hillendale Elementary. And so far, Patton Middle School looks to be a continuation of the same, I'm glad to say. When I was a kid I resented few things more than "dumbed-down," condescending teaching and being told, "Oh, you can't read that; that's too advanced." Somehow I don't think that's going to be an issue at Patton: the Young Relative is being challenged to excel and grow. I've always said that the Unionville-Chadds Ford schools are the equivalent of a private school anywhere else.
In other education news, I was pleased to see a yard sign proclaiming that an occupant of the house  attended the Pennocks Bridge Technical College High School in West Grove. I receive their course catalog and am always very impressed with the high-level, up-to-date, practical programs being taught there.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pet blessing

I just got this email from the Rev. Annalie Korengel Lorgus, the pastor at Unionville Presbyterian Church: "My church is hosting a pet blessing on Sunday, September 29, at 3:00 in the backyard of the manse on 812 Wollaston Road. I would like to invite the community." Consider it done! (Speaking of pets, I was just remarking to my lunch pal today that my guinea pig Binnie is seven years old, a long-lived little cavvy indeed!)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

To Market, to Market

The Cranky Friend and I had an Abbott-and-Costello conversation while I was driving home from tennis this afternoon. I told him I was about to pull into the Maple Arch farm market on Route 10 and asked if he wanted anything.
"I was at the market yesterday. I bought beans," he said.
"Oh, I was at the market yesterday too; I'm surprised I didn't see you," I said.
"Well, I was there about 10 minutes before it closed down," he said.
I started getting suspicious, as the "market" I thought he meant -- the Kennett Giant -- is open 24/7. No, it turned out he meant the Kennett Farmer's Market, the one on State Street on Fridays.
Then he complicated matters by telling me about a person he met "at the market" the previous evening. After further questioning, I learned he was referring to the Market at Liberty Place.
By this point I just wanted to go into the Maple Arch market, buy some Chocolate Whoopie Pies and spinach and head home.

Sunflowers: From Farm to Feeder

The late sunflower crops are in bloom, and this year Longwood Gardens has a beautiful expanse of yellow along Route 1 on the west side of the "new" stretch of Route 52 north. On Sunday afternoon there were a dozen cars parked along the road. Families were wandering through the field, and I saw a photographer struggling under the weight of a giant tripod and all kinds of gear.
This coming Sunday, Sept. 29, from 1 to 3 p.m. there's going to be a celebration at another sunflower field: the Brandywine Valley Association's Myrick Conservation Center on Route 842. The seeds from the sunflowers grown at the BVA are sold as birdfeed at the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Hockessin.
Charles Shattuck, owner of the Wild Birds Unlimited, sent me this email: "We’re repeating a program that was a huge success last year. You get to meet the people behind the locally grown sunflowers. You’ll learn how this partnership between a farmer, business owner and a nature center works to the benefit of all involved. Jamie Hicks is the farmer, Charles Shattuck is the owner of Wild Birds Unlimited and Jim Jordan is the Director of the Myrick Center. There will be hay rides, games, refreshments and you get to pick your own sunflower."
Call the BVA to register, 610-793-1090. The fee is $8 for nonmembers and $5 for members.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Open carry

At the Longwood Starbucks this afternoon, I noticed a Pennsylvania State Trooper two people behind me in line. He was in his gray-and-black uniform, with his regulation Taser, communications equipment and holstered firearm in his belt. Coincidentally, when I got home I spotted a newspaper article saying that Starbucks is asking people not to bring guns into their stores.
Does this mean that police officers should leave their guns in the car?
No. I found the full letter from Howard Schultz, the chairman, president and CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company, and he makes a point of saying that the request doesn't apply to "authorized law enforcement personnel." But, he says, "The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers."


Today in the produce section of the Kennett Giant I ran into a 90-year-old friend, and we had a great time catching up. She recently got "new ears" -- hearing aids -- and was amazed at how she can hear the insects and birds again. She said among the other highlights of her summer, she and her 98-year-old husband hosted their grandson's wedding reception at their Kennett Township home.

That tree

Yesterday (Sept. 19) I was driving on Route 841 at Chapel Road and spotted some heavy equipment atop the hill at the former site of That Tree, the beloved lone hickory that toppled over in June after a heavy windstorm. Workers were removing the remaining roots, which had been sticking up, and digging out the crater left by the root ball. Will the landowner, Dick Hayne, plant a replacement? We're hoping so.

Smart cars

Have you noticed a lot more of those tiny Smart cars on the road? I saw this one in the parking lot on Union Street in Kennett between State and Cypress Streets. A friend of mine in England has one, loves it, and wants me to get one. I agreed with him that they are very cute, economical, environmentally friendly and easy to park -- but I would also need to purchase a pickup truck as well. He lives in a small flat with no garden, and never seems to haul things around or to make large grocery or Lowe's runs.

And speaking of easy to park: I've noticed recently that quite a few motorists on State Street in Kennett are parking so far away from the curb that cars have to veer into the other lane to get past them. Your tires should be INSIDE those white markings on the pavement when you park, not outside them. I remember the days when you would risked a ticket if you parked farther than a foot away from the curb; perhaps borough council could reinstitute that practice as a new money-maker?
Anyhow, those who need a refresher course in parallel parking should head out to a parking lot on Sunday afternoon and practice the way we used to as teens. It's not tricky; it's just a matter of geometry and practice. Think of it as a yoga pose.

Sofa is gone

A few weeks ago I wrote about the forlorn old sofa that was sitting on the corner of Route 82 and Wollaston Road in the center of Unionville with a cardboard "free" sign on it. It sat there for more than a week, much remarked upon, and then finally disappeared. I was surprised it took so long for someone to adopt it: goodness knows that as a student I had far seedier sofas.

West Marlborough meeting

Just a heads up that the monthly West Marlborough Township meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. at the township garage in Doe Run Village. I'm not sure what's going to be on the agenda, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were some discussion of the loud fireworks display at the Stone Barn on Sept. 7. Also, the township-imposed deadline is approaching for Russell Jones to remove the mounds of compost from his Hood Road farm; will he meet it?

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Today I finally got over to Longwood Gardens to see the water gardens and to walk through "Secrets of Victoria, Waterlily Queen," the special exhibition in the Conservatory's Music Room (it runs through Sept. 29). The exhibition was fascinating, with lots of information and photos about the history of the waterlily garden, beautiful antique prints -- and I mean, really, how often do you get to see the words "beetle-mating orgy" as a caption in a staid horticulture display?
I always love seeing the beautiful waterlily blooms and the huge, lipped, spiky platters. Since I was a kid the waterlily garden has been one of my favorite displays at Longwood. (By the way, there's a very nice and oversized $70 book about the Victoria display for sale in the Garden Shop.)
The people-watching at Longwood is always fun, too. One docent was showing a cute little girl the mimosa-like sensitive plant that was growing in the corner of some of the pools and let her stroke the fronds to see them close up protectively. Another docent sprayed a lotus leaf with water to show visitors how the water pooled into the middle, and another explained about the mosquito fish swimming around the lily pads.
Not everyone was there to admire the plants, though: one woman was seated on a bench in the sun wrapped up in a book, and a middle-aged courting couple in a shady corner of the patio were wrapped up in themselves, hugging and beaming at each other.
We are so lucky to live so close to Longwood, aren't we? The yearly pass has got to be one of the best deals around. I overheard a boy, maybe 8 but clearly already a Longwood veteran, instructing the other people in his group the best way to get to the Conservatory and telling them what was up that path (the restaurant).
While I was at Longwood the Greater Philadelphia Dahlia Society was setting up for its flower show. And next weekend there will be a flower show sponsored by several of our local garden clubs: the Four Seasons Garden Club and Spade & Trowel, both of Kennett Square; the Garden Club of Springfield; Country Gardeners; and the Garden Class of the Women's Community Club of Uwchlan. Show co-chairs are Kay Leto and Peggy Hartwick. Hours for that flower show are 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, and 10 a.m. to 6 pm. Sunday, Sept. 29.

The Mushroom Hunters

A new book called "The Mushroom Hunters" might well interest the fungus-fanciers around here, although it's about wild mushrooms rather than the cultivated kind. The author, Langdon Cook, travels all over the country with the colorful, peculiar characters who stalk expensive exotics like morels and chanterelles in the wilderness -- and then have to harvest them and get them to market as quickly as possible. The reviewer in the "Wall Street Journal" called the book "a rollicking narrative." Looks like a great read.

Boarders by right or by special exception?

The saga over Newlin's proposed "Riding School and Horse Boarding Facility" ordinance took an unusual twist this week, with the County Planning Commission first opposing and then recommending the changes.
Those of you who were patient enough to slog through my lengthy account in last week's column may remember that although the township supervisors wrote the ordinance, they didn't approve it at their September meeting because they were waiting for comments from the Chester County Planning Commission. (The township Planning Commission advised against adopting it.)
Well, the county comments have arrived. In fact, two sets of county comments have arrived. The first letter (Sept. 11) didn't favor the changes, but the second one (Sept. 19), which superseded the first, did.
In the first letter the County planners supported the township Planning Commission's position that having a stable with boarders (a very common use here in horse country) should continue to be a special exception rather than a "by-right" use. People who have boarders at their stables would have to seek a special exception in front of the township's Zoning Hearing Board.
"While the minimum lot size for this land use remains at not less than ten acres and the minimum acreage per horse in increased from the current regulations, riding schools and horse boarding facilities can involved substantial structures and require extensive stormwater management facilities. This amendment also potentially introduces a new commercial land use into the Township's zoning ordinance ... Therefore, we suggest that the Township consider retaining this land use as a special exception, because this will permit the Township Zoning Hearing Board to impose reasonable conditions on plan applications," reads the letter, over the signature of Ronald T. Bailey, the commission's secretary and executive director
The second letter, however, said the proposed ordinance complies with the guidelines of the County's comprehensive plan, Landscapes2, and recommended that the township adopt the ordinance. The letter made no mention of the earlier concerns about "substantial structures," "extensive stormwater management facilities" or commercial uses, stating instead that "horse riding, horse boarding and other related activities can be common elements of agricultural and rural areas."
The next township meeting is Oct. 14, and doubtless this matter will be on the agenda.
(For more background on what sparked this controversy, you can call up last week's piece online.)

Fly Eagles Fly

A routine Wednesday morning here in West Marlborough became memorable thanks to a sharp-eyed neighbor. I was sitting at my desk copy editing a book on political protests in America when the phone rang. It was a neighbor who was mowing a field near my house and thought I might be interested to know that he had just spotted a bald eagle. I was off the phone in a seconds and rushed over.
As I approached I saw one huge eagle land in a tree near the top of the hill; the branch moved under his weight. My neighbor and I stood next to his tractor watching and in just a few minutes an eagle soared slowly along the crest of the hill, barely flapping his wings, just gliding over the field. It was a magnificent sight. What a majestic bird!
My neighbor had captured a few photos before I got there and was kind enough to share them.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hay fire

Wow, what a sad sight: there was a big hay fire at the Hicks family's Meadow Springs Farm on Newark Road here in West Marlborough. I heard that between 1,500 and 2,000 bales were involved, and part of a barn. It started at about 2:30 Saturday afternoon (Sept. 14), and when I drove by at 5:30 p.m., the fire was still intense, and Newark Road was shut down between Spencer Road and the Route 1 bypass. Of course, all the local fire companies were there, supplemented by others from farther away. Tanker trucks were filling up with water at one of the housing developments along Street Road west of Willowdale and ferrying it to the scene. Curious motorists had pulled over on 926 near Sportsmen's Lane to watch the blaze.
When I drove by again at 9 p.m. flames were still visible from Route 926 and tankers were still hauling water to the fire. I could see the grand finale of Longwood Gardens' fireworks in the rear-view mirror and ahead of me was the brightly lit cloud of smoke.
On Sunday at suppertime smoke was still billowing from the hay piles, and I could smell it all along Route 926, past New Bolton Center to the east and almost to Lamborntown Road to the west. A keen-nosed friend who lives in Kennett Borough said he thinks he smelled the smoke Sunday morning.
It's sad to think of all the hours of hard work that have literally gone up in smoke. I saw a Meadow Springs truck Sunday morning on Chapel Road and wished there were a gesture I could make out the car window expressing "I am so sorry."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Too loud and too late

There's been a fair amount of grumbling -- some justified, some not -- over the lavish and loud fireworks display that occurred at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 7 following a wedding reception at the Stone Barn on Route 842. Unfortunately I slept through it, but I'm told it was quite a show, and people from near and far heard it or were awakened by it.
Many of the comments on social media the next day were along the lines of "rich Unionville people doing whatever they want, the heck with the rest of us" and "Bet they didn't have a permit!"
It's not my place to comment on the 1% remarks -- but yes, they actually did have a permit. The father of the bride, who lives outside of West Chester, spent months before the wedding jumping through all kinds of hoops to get permission for the display from the West Marlborough Township supervisors. The supervisors were quite worried that the noise might scare the high-dollar horses that live on neighboring farms and actually created the township's first-ever fireworks ordinance to ensure that neighbors would have fair warning.
Unfortunately, those heads-ups apparently didn't go as far as the sound did: the bangs and booms traveled far past just the adjoining West Marlborough farms, as far away as Longwood Gardens and way up to Stargazer Road. One Newlin Township resident reported that her horses were scared by the racket.
The timing of the display was also a problem. We are used to Longwood Gardens setting off its fireworks shortly after dusk, and they're over by 9:30 or so. This display was considerably later in the evening. 
Perhaps the supervisors might want to bear these factors in mind the next time someone seeks a fireworks permit?

Imperial Moth

Look at this handsome green caterpillar! Knowing my interests in critters, my neighbor brought it over to me at lunchtime today. I snapped its photo and posted it on Facebook, asking if anyone could identify it. I'm proud to say that within moments a recent environmental-science grad from my own alma mater chimed in: it's the larva of an Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) and will develop into a brown-and-tan moth. Based on the Wikipedia description and images, I believe it's a female, as they have more yellow-green coloration and are fatter.

Speaking of critters, I think the stinkbugs are realizing it's time to seek a warm home for the winter. I had five on the screen door the other day.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Before the storm

I'm spending some late-summer quality time in my backyard hammock on this hot afternoon. There's a storm threatening, and I can hear rumbles of thunder to the west (around Holtwood, according to the weather map). The breeze is picking up, the crows are circling around and cawing and for some reason the wind chimes are playing a jaunty version of the "Final Jeopardy" tune. And what is that worried-looking white rabbit doing checking his pocket watch?

Newlin meeting

The Newlin Township supervisors are at odds with the township's Planning Commission over a proposed ordinance that would change the way horse farms are regulated in the township.
At their Sept. 9 meeting, all three supervisors took issue with the planners' review letter that recommended keeping the ordinance the way it is and having residents go before the Zoning Hearing Board for permission to have outside horses boarding at their farms (which is an extremely common practice).
Supervisors' Chair Janie Baird said the "Riding School, Horse Boarding Facility" ordinance proposed by the supervisors, in contrast, would make boarding "lawful and regulated."
Supervisor Rob Pearson agreed, calling the controversial ordinance "appropriate."
"It's pretty simple," he said. "Eighty-five percent of people under the proposed ordinance will meet the requirements and be grandfathered in. The other people are the ones who will have some issues and will go before the Zoning Board ... No ordinance will make 100% of the people happy."
He said that if the current ordinance were enforced across the board, many residents would need to go before the zoning board, to achieve the very same end result, and that would be "almost ludicrous" in terms of time, effort and expense. Although the applicants do need to pay a fee for a hearing, it doesn't come close to covering the township's expenses in terms of legal and court-reporter fees.
The third supervisor, Bill Kelsall, said he believes the when the planners rejected the proposed ordinance, they were working from incorrect information about the number of people who would have to request special permission.
The Planning Commission's two-page letter (the Commission members are Robert Shippee Jr., Bill Steuteville, Jack Bailey, Barbara Forney and Lee Trainer) gives three reasons why it objects to the proposed ordinance:
1. "The unique nature of the township and these particular facilities makes any single, by-right ordinance necessarily too inflexible."
2. Making stables a use-by-right "stands in stark contrast to all other commercial uses in the township. The Planning Commission questions the defensibility of offering by-right status only to commercial facilities involving horses, particularly in the heart of horse country."
3. The number of facilities not in strict conformity "may be considerably smaller than previously considered."
The Commission, realizing full well which way the wind was blowing, also predicted in its letter that the supervisors would reject its recommendation.
The whole dispute started earlier this year when some new residents bought a horse farm on bucolic Hilltop View Road. They brought in additional boarders, to the point that some neighbors are claiming they are operating a commercial equestrian business instead of a private stable (those definitions are germane) and are bringing additional traffic to their quiet one-lane road, only the southern part of which is paved.
The residents asked the township supervisors to enforce the ordinance and issue a cease-and-desist order to limit the commercial use of the farm unless the owners apply for permission from the township. The township supervisors, however, responded that if they strictly enforce the ordinance, they'd have to shut down many such equestrian operations in the rural township; they also say that the use has not changed significantly enough from the prior one to warrant a township hearing. That's what led the supervisors to develop the new ordinance.
Because the supervisors have not received any comments yet from the Chester County Planning Commission, which is also reviewing the proposed ordinance, they delayed taking action until their Oct. 14 meeting. Meanwhile, many township equestrians are confused and worried as to whether the new regulations would apply to their stables.
A testy exchange early in the meeting symbolized how divisive this issue has become in Newlin and how some residents are suspicious about the process that has been followed to write the proposed ordinance. During the public comment session, a resident stood up and accused the township supervisors of holding a private meeting in violation of the state's Sunshine Law. Mrs. Baird said it was not in violation because the board met with township solicitor John Good to discuss pending litigation -- the lawsuit that some residents are filing in connection with the matter -- and that is permitted under the Sunshine Act.
The resident, unsatisfied, asked if there was any reason why he shouldn't file a complaint about the meeting in district court "tomorrow morning."
Replied Mr. Good: "Feel free to."

Out of date

If you haven't cleaned out your medicine cabinet for a while, here's your chance: the East Fallowfield Police Department will be collecting unused and expired medications on Saturday, October 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the East Fallowfield Township building, 2264 Strasburg Road. The police will safely dispose of the medications. No "sharps" or syringes, please.

Feeling old

I would say that the average age of the athletes in one of my gym classes is mid-40s, so the perky 14-year-old girl who came to class on Monday certainly stood out. Toward the end of class we did a Pilates move called the Ironing Board (it involved leaning backward with a straight back while kneeling), and as an aside our instructor said to the girl, "I'll bet you don't even know what an ironing board is."
"Sure I do!" she said brightly. "My grandmother used to have one!"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

As opposed to ...

I did a double-take on Tuesday morning when I spotted this warning sign that the Asplundh tree-cutters posted on one of West Marlborough's beautiful, narrow roads. Actually, the yellow trucks took up the whole width of the road, and motorists had to use the roadside temporarily.
Just sayin': We love our one-lane roads and our gravel roads!

Two Clocks

A lecture on the Nottingham/Octorara school of furniture drew upwards of 150 people to a meeting of the Oxford Area Historical Association the evening of Sept. 10. Two furniture experts from Winterthur -- Wendy Cooper, Curator Emeritus of Furniture, and Mark Anderson, senior furniture conservator -- discussed the creative cabinetmakers who flourished in the southwestern part of Chester County in the eighteenth century.
Ms. Cooper explained that the craftsmen were influenced by their peers in Philadelphia and by period architectural styles but put their own spin on the furniture they created, in one instance adding a little drawer for a tall-clock key. She argued that criticism of the non-urban furniture makers as being unsophisticated is wholly unfounded: "It's great," she said. "They were great craftsmen, and very creative."
The two curators used two locally made tall clocks as examples to highlight the characteristics of the school of design, such as Greek-key designs, dentil and drill patterns, fretwork, thick wood (usually walnut) and ogee feet. One slide showed a sketch in white chalk that they found inside one case, apparently an attempt by the maker to experiment with a vine pattern that he was planning before carving it.
Ms. Cooper also showed two letters, one a bill from clockmaker Benjamin Chandlee for 12 pounds for the clock movement. The other was from the casemaker, Jacob Brown, to the client, explaining that "the fever" had struck both his shop and his family and caused a delay in the process.

Monday, September 9, 2013

I got one right

OK, so I slept through the fireworks at the Stone Barn on Saturday night, even though I've been writing about our township's new fireworks ordinance for months. And I missed the launching of the moon rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia. But at least I witnessed the spectacular sight of Venus right next to the crescent moon in the western sky on Sunday evening as I was driving home. Magnificent!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A walk in the park

Congratulations and thanks are due to the management and the staff of the Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett. I became a regular visitor there this summer and clocked many laps of the walking trail. It wasn't until this past week, though, that I noticed this very appropriate memorial plaque on one of the park benches. I have fond memories of Marshall Newton -- a great guy.

Oh well

This may be an apt time to quote from Proverbs 16:18: "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." The large, handsome pumpkin I bragged about in my column a few weeks ago? It has unmistakably started to rot. So much for my hopes of a large-vegetable ribbon at the Farm Show.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Old friends

I was at a funeral today, a traditional Episcopal service at a beautifully simple church in Downingtown. It was my high-school friend Ed's father who had died, and despite the sad occasion it was wonderful to see Ed and his brother and sisters again after many years. A group of us were very close in school, and we can just pick up again no matter how much time has passed.
The priest knew Ed's Dad well -- he had been active in the parish -- and gave a moving speech about his virtues and his active life. The family photos on display bore out the priest's words. Ed's Dad was a Scoutmaster, and there were photos of him relaxing on his backpack out in the woods, and a Christmas family photo of the whole family that took me back at whiplash speed to my high-school days in the 1970s. We were able to confirm that Ed's three sons -- two of them are twins -- look exactly the way Ed did in high school: mischievous underneath an angelic, clean-cut exterior. As we were leaving, my pals and I agreed that we must make a point of seeing each other at events other than parents' funerals.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lunch surprise

What a nice surprise on Tuesday, running into my former work colleague Linda at Hood's! She was there lunching with her foursome after playing nine holes of golf. They were kind enough to invite me to sit down at their table, and we had a merry time. All four of them live in the Traditions at Longwood development, which as I've been finding out is quite a vibrant neighborhood. Linda shared the happy news that the back surgery she had over the winter was such a success that she's back on the links frequently.

Y Times

I enjoyed my week at the Kennett Y while my usual Y, the one at Jennersville, was closed for its annual maintenance week. I got to catch up with lots of old pals from several circles of my life (Melissa! Carol Anne! Judy!), tried some new classes (I have to admit it: Kennett Y people are tough) and watched the launch party for the new Sh'bam workout.
The Kennett Y is just completing a major overhaul, and one of the new things I noticed was the water fountain that automatically refills your water bottle. The lobby floor hadn't been finished yet, so members were given Sharpies and asked to write a message right on the concrete before it was covered over. I did so. No one will be surprised to learn that it mentions my affection for the Young Relative.

Ice Ice

The Stroud Water Research Center is sponsoring a showing of the documentary "Chasing Ice" on Sunday, Sept. 15, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Copeland Lecture Hall at Winterthur Museum. The film "is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of climate change. Using time-lapse cameras, his videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate." Director/producer Jeff Orlowski will be the guest speaker at the screening.
A wildlife photographer friend of mine who spends part of each summer in the Arctic raves about this film.
Tickets are $15 and you can buy them online. See the Stroud Center's website for more information and the movie's trailer.

Can't give it away

The burning question is: When will somebody take the cruddy sofa that's been sitting at Route 82 and Wollaston Road, smack in the middle of Unionville? It's been sitting out there for a week now with a cardboard "FREE" sign on it. I don't know whose it is.
One woman who lives nearby said she is thinking of going out there and sitting down to read the newspaper. Another believes it may actually be an art installation because it has attracted such attention and has us all talking about it.
(BTW, the sign had fallen over. I replaced it before I took the photo.)
P.S. I just drove by on my way home Sunday evening and it's still there!

Real Housewives

I had a great time at the "Real Housewives of Kennett Square" walking tour on Sept. 5. The tour was originally set for earlier this summer but was cancelled because of heavy rain. In contrast, Thursday night was perfect, and groups of maybe ten people apiece set out every half-hour or so from the starting point on the Genesis Walkway. Our guide, Grace P, did an excellent job -- as we strolled through town she added lots of interesting information about growing up here.
Along the tour route we encountered the "Real Housewives," notable women from the town's past: schoolteacher Mary D. Lang, photographer Annabelle Swayne, military nurse Marguerite Starr, physician Rebecca Moore, world traveler Emma Lamborn, Esther Hayes, Anna Hicks and Fannie Sinclair. The costumed actresses (in the latter case a lavishly costumed actor, the irrepressible Kirk Fetters) did a splendid job telling us about their lives and accomplishments. Quakerism, such a formative influence in the area, took center stage in many of their lives as they fought slavery and battled for women's rights.
(One anachronistic note: As we were listening to Annabelle Swayne telling us about her photography business, trucks from Majestic Midway were rumbling down Broad Street to set up for the Mushroom Fest carnival.)
I have to say that Kennett looked great, and the friend who went with me said that if she didn't live on a farm with all her critters, she would love to live in town.
Thank you and congratulations to the event's producers, the Kennett Square Historical Commission and the Kennett Amateur Theatrical Society. Great job!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

On the edge

The clouds on Monday evening were spectacular after a muggy day: big clouds outlined with a rim of bright gold. As I was stopped at a light in Kennett I spotted a pedestrian on North Union Street, a young woman, who caught a glimpse of the view, stopped and took out her camera to capture it.
"There's weather coming," predicted a friend, and he was right: the weather alerts started sounding and a windy but brief thunderstorm blew through at 9 p.m.

Go figure!

A bunch of us met up at Starbucks on Sunday and had a great gab-fest. At one point a friend who lives in Kennett held up his phone and showed us a photo of what his right forearm had looked like the previous weekend: a blistered mess.
"Yikes, poison ivy!" I said.
No, he said. It was actually an allergic reaction to his fig tree, of all things! He'd been pruning it and ended up with this awful rash. It turns out that fig tree sap, plus direct sun, can cause nasty blisters. He ended up at his dermatologist's.

Joy in the morning

What is it with yard art? First I spotted "Mitt" last autumn on a hillside near Blow Horn; then it was "Dad" for Father's Day near Kirkwood; then earlier this summer a religious message at the Chapel Road Baptist Church near Springdell. Now a prominent West Marlborough farm is getting into the act: I spotted "FAT CHANCE" embossed on a small hillside near where the high-tension lines run through that farm.


A pal of mine who lives amidst the hustle-bustle of downtown Kennett stopped by on Labor Day and we had a drink on the deck. It was a very peaceful afternoon even for West Marlborough, with a gentle breeze. My friend put his feet up on the railing, gazed at the conifers and said he wouldn't be at all surprised to see a few Zen monks drift by.

London Grove crash

Another vehicle crashed into the hillside where Route 926 meets Newark Road. A motorist heading west on Route 926 the evening of Aug. 28 saw the stop sign too late and went careening up two flights of the concrete steps leading to London Grove Friends Meeting. The van then flipped over and ended up on its side against the yellow house. Photos posted on Facebook show the giant Blittersdorf crane lifting it away from the house and setting it back on its tires.
The accident -- and the fact that it was far from the first at the crossroads -- sparked a discussion at the Sept. 3 West Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors meeting. Anna Myers, who lives near the intersection, suggested that a double-arrow sign be placed at the intersection to indicate that the road ends, like the sign at Route 82 and Newark Road (pictured here). Roadmaster Hugh Lofting said because it was a state road, the township could not take the responsibility of installing such a sign, but he would bring it up with the state Department of Transportation. There was some skepticism in the audience, however, whether any additional signage, or speed bumps, or rumble strips, would be effective in preventing accidents.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

West Marlborough meeting

It was a quiet West Marlborough township meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The planning commission didn't meet at all, and most of the business on the supervisors' agenda was routine.
Zoning officer Al Giannantonio announced that the Powells were given zoning permission to install a shed at their Springdell Road home, and Roadmaster Hugh Lofting noted that Officer Bob Clarke issued ten speeding tickets and three warnings in the month of August.
Mr. Giannantonio also discussed the Act 167 stormwater management ordinance that all Pennsylvania townships must enact by the beginning of 2014. Many of the requirements in the document have been dictated by the state, but the township planning commission will devote time at its next few meetings to adapt the language that it is permitted to change to meet the township's requirements as best it can.