Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rain or shine

"Wintry mix" is not what you want to hear when you're headed outside for the afternoon. But that's the risk of attending an outdoor event at the end of March, and despite the cold, rain, wind and sleet the mood at the Cheshire Point-to-Point Races on Sunday was surprisingly upbeat.
Due to the muddy conditions and safety concerns, the race schedule was condensed, and attendance was much reduced -- but those who showed up were the truly hardcore fans.
The heroes of the day were the Hickses, who were hauling vehicles, even four-wheel-drive ones, out of the mud with their tractors almost as fast as they were getting stuck.
I brought along a first-time point-to-point visitor and was reduced to pointing to the empty spaces where, at a normal sunny Sunday event, there are rows of cars hosting lavish tailgate feasts. Thank goodness for the food tent (aka the oasis), where you could stand for a few welcome minutes without precipitation falling on you.
A considerable amount of real estate left Plantation Field via people's boots and tires. When we got back home, our host rinsed off our boots using an outdoor hose as if we were at a beach house -- and as if it was forty degrees warmer.

Thomas Pandolfi

If you get a chance to see pianist Thomas Pandolfi, do so. Pay good money to do so. We were incredibly lucky on Saturday evening to see him (for free!) at the London Grove Meeting House in a concert co-sponsored by the Meeting and the Hadley Fund.
Mr. Pandolfi is not only a gifted musician but also a personable and entertaining performer. He shared fascinating information about each piece before he played it; thanks to his explanation, we could picture the sunken Breton cathedral rising above the waves, with the chanting monks and the organ chorale, in Debussy's "La Cathedrale Engloutie." His performances of Debussy's "Clair de Lune" and Chopin's "Nocturne in E-Flat Major" were so exquisite that I had to pause a moment before applauding; I didn't want to break the spell.
In the second half of the program he played three Gershwin preludes, a medley of three Gershwin songs, a Respighi nocturne, a medley of "Phantom of the Opera" songs (during which I could swear he was channeling the fiery 19th-century virtuoso Louis Moreau Gottschalk), a little more Chopin, and even -- during the question-and-answer session -- "O Sole Mio." He had to scratch Gershwin's "Concerto in F" because some of the piano's bass keys were sticking.
I had no idea that the Meeting's piano, normally used just to accompany hymns each First Day, could produce such amazing sound, nor that the meeting house had such nice acoustics. We were sitting in the balcony and had a wonderful vantage point to watch not only Mr. Pandolfi's hands but also the inner workings of the piano.
In response to questions from the audience, Mr. Pandolfi said he lives in both Maryland and Charlotte, NC, but spends most of his time on the road performing. He started playing the piano at age 4 and studied with the same teacher until he went off to the Julliard School. His first exposure to classical music was his father's extensive record collection. (He said when he performs at schools, he has to explain to the kids that LPs were "big CDs.")
It was a wonderful concert, and we also enjoyed the social time and delicious refreshments afterwards with our London Grove friends and West Marlborough neighbors.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Somebody's watching me

This week's editing project is a book on how rural villages in China are governed and how the status quo is being changed by government policies and in particular the widespread migration of workers to cities. It's actually not as dull as it sounds. One sentence in particular jumped out at me because I found it so relevant to Unionville, or indeed any small town anywhere in the world: "Any member’s good or bad behavior, including their words, is very likely to be in the public domain and accessible to the whole community."
Next in the pipeline: a book on the often-uneasy relationship between science and religion and then a textbook about responsible journalism. (Yes, really.)


An ambitious fellow is renovating a old house near here, and this morning as I drove by I saw him unloading brand-new boxed bathroom fixtures from a horse trailer. (And yes, the trailer looked thoroughly swept out.) Wish I'd seen this resourceful guy loading up at Lowe's or whatever DIY store he went to; that would've made for a funny photo!

Fiat Lux

On this gray, rainy Saturday morning, a friend reports that he was dawdling around, deciding whether to get started on his day, and was pleased to find that his room was getting much brighter. He thought the sun had broken out from behind the clouds; alas, he discovered that the light was coming from his computer monitor, which had come to life unexpectedly.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Road food

As regular readers know, I never get tired of eating at the wonderful Mexican restaurants we are lucky enough to have around here. But on a trip to Central Jersey today I was captivated by the different ethnic restaurants that flourish there: in one strip mall along Route 1 there was an Indian curry and BBQ place (yes, that's what the sign said); a Jamaican restaurant; an Asian food store; and a Chinese restaurant. Toward Somerset there was a Hungarian diner, and a gyro place was about to open in what looked like an old gas station.
Route 1 is lined with not only shopping centers but also gigantic corporate headquarters, like Dow Jones and Novo Nordisk. I was especially intrigued by a sign pointing to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Though that's doubtless an official part of the university, I got the feeling that in central Jersey "Princeton" is kind of like "Main Line" here; everyone tries to milk its cachet by appropriating the name.

Bah humbug

Granted, it's been a long, cold (though not lonely!) winter, and there are still piles of unmelted snow in some parking lots and roadbanks where it was piled high. But I humbly suggest that it's time the red and green "Seasons Greetings" banners were removed from the parking lot of the Giant shopping center on Scarlett Road in New Garden. One friend said she even thinks they've been hanging there for at least two Christmas seasons.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Ah, good old muscle memory. For years I've been doing deep squats at the gym, and the trainers always emphasize the importance of using proper form so as to work the right muscles without risking joint damage.
So today at lunchtime, during the springtime snow flurries, I was standing knee-deep in the middle of a little creek taking close-up photos of some of the first skunk cabbages I'd seen this season -- beautiful little green and purple things. I took a couple of photos -- and then noticed that my rear end seemed to be getting extremely cold.
Sure enough, without even thinking about it I had assumed a textbook-perfect squat position -- except at the gym there's not an ice-cold body of water toward which you're lowering yourself. I found that my hind end had in fact dipped an inch or so beneath the surface of the water.
To add insult to injury, my wannabe-artsy photos weren't even any good.

Seen around town

1. A "Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission" vehicle was parked at the abandoned Red Rose Inn in Jennersville. The parking lot is well secured with a chain across the entrance, so I'm assuming the vehicle was there on some kind of official business.
2. Vehicles from Henkels & McCoy and Asplundh were doing maintenance work along the towers that carry the high-tension wires up from the Conowingo Dam through our area. Off one back road in West Marlborough, the workers had laid down a long pathway of wooden pallets to the electric company's right-of-way so that the heavy equipment wouldn't tear up the fields. (And a few days later I saw another pallet-road being built off Route 82, opposite Apple Grove Road.) Can you imagine working in a bucket on one of those sky-high cherry pickers? Shudder.
3. Along Route 82 through Unionville, residents had neatly stacked their downed tree limbs for pickup, with the trunk ends toward the curb, as instructed. It looked like a super-organized troop of beavers had made its way through town.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A good send-off

Just got home from Lydia Willits Bartholomew's very well-attended pre-Hunt social at Plumsted, her West Marlborough farm. It was great to see the Cheshire hounds and horses in action after such a long layoff due to the bad weather, and just as nice to greet some friends and neighbors I hadn't seen for ages. We were glad to see lots of kids, both as riders and spectators. The hospitable Mrs. Bartholomew set out quite a spread for her guests: urns of hot coffee (the Jameson's was optional), subs, pastries (loved the sticky buns!) and desserts. The muddy parking area claimed one victim, a Lexus that had to be extracted by a cheerful guy with a tractor. The non-participating horses at the farm were very curious and excited by all the unaccustomed activity, poking their heads out of their stalls and running around their paddock.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Prom time

The red carpet is very far from my natural habitat, but I had a fine time anyway on Friday evening watching Unionville High School students strut their stuff at the annual fashion show to raise money for the After-Prom party. The formal wear was stunning: the girls looked happy and beautiful in their tasteful, classy, glamorous and vividly colored evening gowns and cocktail dresses, with their hair elaborately swept up or in braids or long curls, and the boys--what good sports to serve as models!--were handsome, well groomed and dapper in their nicely tailored classic or modern tuxedos.
I recognized several of the models from the recent production of "Grease" (they have obviously mastered the useful skills of time management at a young age) and one poised young woman, who looked ravishing in green chiffon, I've known since she was an infant.

Spade and Trowel

My belated congratulations to my friends in Kennett Square's Spade and Trowel Club for their prize-winning exhibit at this year's Philadelphia International Flower Show. Not only do the dedicated club members have to design, create and install the exhibit, but they also have to maintain it in perfect condition throughout the show -- which entails daily predawn trips into the Philadelphia Convention Center.
"Unionville in the News" reader Marcia H. wrote to me recently and said she wanted to pay special tribute to her fellow Spade and Trowel member Alice Bucher, who lives in Kennett Township. She describes Mrs. Bucher as "fun loving, creative, organized, dedicated, energetic, enthusiastic, and well known and respected in Garden Club circles... She has been a master judge with the Federated Garden Clubs of Pennsylvania for 35 years.  The Philadelphia Horticulture Society is lucky to have her as the chairperson of Competitive Classes Committee for the Philadelphia Flower Show.   
"Each flower show requires a full year of planning.  As Chair, Alice has the responsibility of all amateur classes, which include horticulture plus nine design classes.  Her committee recruits exhibitors and helps to guide them in the planning and executing of their entries.  The rewarding part of the process is being on the show floor seeing the Philadelphia Convention Center being converted into an oasis of creative horticultural interpretations and design.  Alice enjoys the challenge of assisting with the set-up, troubleshooting and supporting all exhibitors as they prepare their exhibits. Her job is key to the success of the show, her enthusiasm is contagious as she delights in ways to keep, attract and inspire exhibitors."
Marcia summed up her friend with the lovely words, "Where you find flowers, you may find Alice."

Red Clay Valley clean up

My friend Charles Shattuck, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Hockessin, reminds me that the annual Red Clay Valley Clean Up will be held starting on Saturday, March 29. Volunteers are welcome; assemble at 8 a.m. at Anson Nixon Park in Kennett or the Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin to get your gloves, bags, t-shirts and road assignments.
"We're picking up trash on over 65 miles of roads and stream beds from Kennett Square to Greenbank Mills in Wilmington," Charles says. "Last year over 700 volunteers collected 13 tons of trash and since its inception, those many years ago; the cleanup has removed over 342 tons of litter. Discarded trash is not only unsightly to you but is potentially harmful to fish and wildlife."
Also the same weekend (I've mentioned these two events before): a free Hadley Fund concert by pianist Thomas Pandolfi at London Grove Friends Meeting at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 29, and the 69th running of the Cheshire Point-to-Point Races on Sunday, March 30.

Wall of Honor

You will read plenty more about the Unionville High School Wall of Honor inductees in the March 27 Kennett Paper, but I want to add my congratulations to Helen Martin and Ray McKay, who were honored on March 20 along with Ray's late wife, Mary, and the late Sam Wilson. Excellent choices, and they join an already stellar crew of alumni/ae whose photos are displayed on the wall outside the high school auditorium.

A shadow of her former self

Total strangers share the most amazing stories with me. I was sitting in a waiting room this morning and the West Grove woman next to me started telling me about her hugely successful gastric bypass surgery. She used to weigh 449 pounds and suffered all kinds of healthy problems; now she is just over 200 pounds (she looks even lighter than that). She was an excellent storyteller, full of great quotes ("I'm limited with what I can eat, but hey, I'm alive"), and she even provided illustrations: her driver's license photos before and after the weight loss. The change in her face was so dramatic, from morbidly obese to normally shaped, that a police officer who pulled her over soon after the surgery almost charged her with carrying someone else's license.

Township meeting

Looking ahead to the first week in April: West Marlborough Township will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 1, in the township hall in Doe Run Village. The township planning commission meeting starts at 7 p.m. (if they have any business to handle), followed by the supervisors' meeting. Come out and see your supervisors in action, meet the hardy residents who show up for each and every meeting, and get an up-close-and-personal view of the road equipment that kept your streets clear.


If you're in the mood for a good pub crawl/robot movie, try "The World's End." I saw a trailer for the 2013 movie and immediately put it on my Netflix queue. What's not to like for this Anglophile? I thought it would be a bittersweet, nostalgic British comedy about high school friends getting back together for a lively evening of drinking in their home town, resolving old differences and regaining some of their dormant sense of fun.
Which it was, until about 45 minutes in, when a fistfight ensued in the men's room of a pub and the group's leader punched a surly teen. The boy's head came off like a Rock-em Sock-em Robot, revealing that the lad and his mates were all alien (that could sober you up quickly).
I checked online and found that I had stumbled into a sci-fi franchise called the Cornetto Trilogy, also comprising "Shaun of the Dead" (2004) and "Hot Fuzz" (2007). The summary on IMDB says it all: "Five friends return to their hometown to relive a pub crawl they never finished in their youth; however, they find their town has been invaded by interstellar beings 'Blanks' and the crawl could literally kill them. ..  As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realize the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind's."


A Cochranville friend who lives near the SECCRA landfill reports seeing a bald eagle just across the road from his home on Thursday morning. "Took a dead possum that was in the field across the road," he said.

Three highways

Loyal reader Joan S. answered my question in last week's column about how Unionville got its name, quoting from Edward Pinkowski's 1962 book, "Chester County Place Names":
"Unionville (pop. 400) was first called Jackson's Corner when in 1750 John Jackson built a brick inn at a crossroads four miles north of Kennett Square. As the first storekeeper of the village, Jesse Buffington had much to do with changing the name to Unionville. The fact that three highways united at the village suggested the name. On Dec. 5, 1821, Unionville post office was put on the Chester County list with Charles Buffington as postmaster." 
Joan says, "I can't vouch for the accuracy of this, but it is what Mr. Pinkowski says."
Now I'm left wondering what the three "highways" would be: Route 82, certainly; but did Routes 162 and 842 exist back then? Or maybe Doe Run Road, or Wollaston Road?


Thursday, March 20, 2014


An exercise in futility: I saw someone trying to make a left turn onto Route 82 from East Locust Lane at 5:30 p.m. this afternoon. It's a tricky intersection to start with, and as far as I could tell there was rush-hour traffic coming in both directions all the way from Willowdale to the bypass. I wonder how long it took the poor woman to pull out?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

70s flashback

Driving home tonight on Route 41 was a bit mind-blowing. Coming the other way was a convoy of tractor-trailers whose every surface was outlined with bright red lights, kind of like a movie marquee. Add in the rain, the fog, the puddles, the flashing traffic light at Route 841 and the Chatham streetlights and it was as if there was a disco ball somewhere overhead, sending random colored lights bouncing every which way.


With most of the snow melted (I liked the message on the sandwich board outside the Kennett Square Inn: "Say No to Snow"), I took a hopeful look around the yard yesterday afternoon. Sure enough, a few clusters of brave purple crocus are in bloom. The daffodils are pushing up through the earth, along with a few early tulips and a very late hellebore. In one especially sheltered nook I even saw the beginning of some phlox leaves.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Acres of green

I'm actually not sure I'd ever been to a St. Patrick's Day celebration until this past Saturday, when I went to the St. Patrick's Church party at the Red Clay Room in Kennett. The place was packed and lively, with almost everyone wearing something green: there were green Mardi Gras beads, green sweatshirts and sweaters, sky-high green-and-white Cat-in-the-Hat-style hats, sparkly green bowler hats and -- my favorite -- a tiny leprechaun hat set at a rakish angle atop a bald head.
The delicious dinner included the traditional corned beef and cabbage, ham and green beans and Irish potatoes; dessert was brownie cakes and sugar cookies encrusted with green sprinkles on both sides. There were a lot of very cute and well-behaved little kids toddling around. Around the room were tables with silent auction items from just about every business in the area -- two special items were a dinner cooked by the parish priest, Father Victor Sharrett, and a limo ride in Kennett's Memorial Day parade.
We heard some of the Irish songs but unfortunately had to leave before the troupe of Irish dancers performed -- they were warming up in the lobby as we left.
One of the organizers, the local Knights of Columbus, told us that they were thrilled with the turnout for this year's event. As well they should be -- the parking lot was full and I don't think many more revelers could have fit into the room!

Brown sugar

This item has nothing to do with Unionville at all, other than it saved me from an unexpected trip to the grocery store this afternoon. I rarely use brown sugar in my baking, so when I went to make a batch of chocolate-chip cookies today, the brown sugar in the pantry consisted of three large, diamond-hard clumps. I vaguely remembered some old hint that you could soften brown sugar using a slice of apple; alas, I didn't have an apple. I'd tried grating the clumps previously and that hadn't worked out well at all.
So I tried the hint on the side of the brown-sugar box -- and it worked great. Put the hardened sugar in a Tupperware-clone dish and cover it with damp paper towels. Seal the lid. Nuke it for 30 seconds and try unclumping it with a fork (it'll be hot). If needed, nuke for another 30 seconds. It took a total of a minute for the sugar to crumble.
(I hear that the questions on the SAT college-entrance exams are being revamped to make them more relevant. Perhaps useful information like this might be added?)

On the fence

I've received a few emails from people interested in participating in the Unionville Cemetery's fence project and wanted to pass along this announcement to them: "The next meeting of the Unionville Cemetery Assoc. will be held at the cemetery (weather permitting) on Saturday May 17th, starting at 9 a.m. This will also be a work day to do more work under the fence prior to blasting and painting. General cleanup will also be done. Donations are still being accepted for the fence restoration project. All volunteers are welcome! We will also have a picnic for all workers that day."
You can contact the organizers on the cemetery's Facebook page or at
This is the cemetery on Route 82 right across from the Unionville Post Office and the Po-Mar-Lin fire station.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Nee Jacksonville

How did Unionville get its name? A reader wanted to know, and try as I might I can't seem to find out; I'm hoping someone more knowledgeable will contact me ( According to the East Marlborough Historic Commission's website, the town was originally called Jacksonville, after a prominent family of settlers, but the name was changed to Unionville in the early 1800s.
"In 1979 Unionville Village Historic District was named to the National Register of Historic Places, as an example of a 19th-century rural village which has kept much of its early appearance and character."

Spring events

Three excellent events are coming up that are already on my schedule!
1. Baily's Dairy at Pocopson Meadow on Lenape-Unionville Road is having a spring celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 19. "We will have all of our newest Spring babies out for the first time. Just like last year, we will have chicks, ducklings, bunnies, lambs, kids (goats) and calves out for pictures with the kids." (I, for one, greet as many creatures as I see every time I stop in for Baily's fresh milk -- especially the bunnies.)
2. The folks at Waste Oil Recyclers in downtown Modena (aka "Mogreena") are having their Sixth Annual Energy Independence Day from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 18. This is always a fun afternoon, with music, food, exhibits and some of the nicest and coolest people around.
3. And on May 17th and 18th there's going to be a very special event commemorating the Battle of the Brandywine: hundreds of historical reenactors will recreate the pivotal Revolutionary War battle on the actual ground where it was fought back in 1777. Proceeds benefit The Wounded Warrior Project and Birmingham Battlefields Preservation. There's more information on

Farm Girl

In return for taking care of their animals (one aged collie, one cat, and a coop full of chickens) for a few days while they took a mini-break, two friends of mine gave me not only all the wonderful fresh eggs I could collect but also a far-too-generous gift card to Kyoto, the sushi and Asian restaurant on Onix Drive, east of the Kennett Wal-Mart.
I'd forgotten that Kyoto offers a terrific lunch special: two of their sushi rolls for $6.99. After cleaning up from my mid-day farm duties on  Monday, I had a tuna roll and a smoked salmon/cream cheese/avocado one, along with a seaweed salad. FYI, there's also a Subway sandwich shop and the Plaza Azteca Mexican restaurant (great guacamole!) in that little strip shopping center.
I lucked out in terms of chicken duty: it was mostly above freezing, which meant the feeding and watering chores were easy (if muddy), I could spend some extra time "bawk-BAWKing" with the chickens without freezing, and the egg yield was exceptional.

Nothing that Spring won't cure

What an array of ailments I've been hearing about in the past few weeks from my "walking wounded" friends! Nagging sinus headaches and infections; a badly wrenched back from snow shoveling (the "chiropractor's friend"); and protracted sleep deprivation due to a new puppy in the home (a Boxer named Rocky). I found out about the latter when two of the puppy's minders, a mother and daughter, yawned simultaneously in gym class the other day.

Mr. Chips

Tree services and property managers (paid and de facto) are going to be BUSY this spring. The strong winds the other night brought down still more tree limbs, and not only ones that had been weakened in February's major ice storm. Mother Nature actually did some housekeeping in the white pines behind me, bringing down some limbs that had been broken off but were just hanging there precariously -- like the sword of Damocles. (Naturally, though, the black oak limb that has been looming over Route 842 between Byrd and Mill Roads for a few years now remains perfectly intact.)
On Wednesday I stopped by to visit two friends who live on a back road in Cochranville. I hadn't heard from them for a while, and when I got to their house I saw why. They were out of power for five days during the ice storm, and since then they've been clearing limbs from their property pretty much nonstop. So many of the trees along the road came down that it looks like there's room for a nice walking path; goodness knows they have enough pine chips for the footing.
Here's the problem: I play tennis against these two, and their upper-body strength is going to be formidable after all that manual labor.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Looking up

Things are looking up here in West Marlborough Township: in the past few days I've received two emails from neighbors sharing their avian news.
One was nice enough to sent me a video she took showing flocks of black birds flying past the bare trees, chirping away like crazy. She wrote: "Every Spring, we get literally thousands of little birds that swarm through our property for just one day. They are so noisy that we can hear them from inside the house, even with the doors and windows shut. It really is magical!"
Reports another: "I am so very EXCITED - I heard the Canada geese begin their northern migration on Monday over the farm.  Every year they make a particular sound as they migrate north or south over the farm. I put that on Facebook and several said it was no big deal, but then another friend who is really into birding posted photos of the migration which he saw over towards the Oxford area.  Then the migration continued yesterday and this morning  - TRUMPET SOUND!!!!!!" She adds that there are Purple Martins building nests in her back-yard Purple Martin house. "Spring is really on its way!"
I think we are ALL ready for spring. Didn't it feel positively balmy when the thermometer rose above freezing for a few days? Muddy, yes, but warm!

The optimum ride

Each spring I receive a thick, glossy catalog of summer programs from a New Age retreat center. Among the varied offerings on yoga, telepathy, cleansing, memoir-writing, shamanic journeying, empowerment, and meditation, one might be of particular interest to some Unionville readers: "Conscious Horseback Riding." According to its description, the goal of this class is to learn "how we create our own experience" and to "achieve the optimum ride" using "a series of mounted asanas and breathwork." There are two hours of instruction in the mornings and "some bareback work" in the afternoons.
Perhaps they could offer a special deal if you take that class along with "Soul-Level Animal Communication" ("Learn about animal soul contracts and how animals use them to assist and heal us") and the numerous courses that are offered about spiritual healing from chronic injuries, trauma and pain.

Staples removed?

I saw a newspaper story about how Staples is planning to close many of its office-supply stores and reduce the size of the remaining ones; no word on whether the Kennett store will be affected. Staples management is saying that, like many retailers, to remain competitive they need to reduce their brick-and-mortar footprint because so much buying has shifted to the Internet. But as the Cranky Friend commented, who wants to buy a box of paperclips online? I always appreciate the helpful staff at the local Staples, too, who met the significant challenge of helping me buy and configure a new computer last year.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


We saw the Unionville High School production of "Grease" on Saturday night. It was super; what a talented, energetic bunch of kids! The singing and dancing in the big production numbers were just terrific, and I loved some of the clever background "business," like when the greaser boys stacked tires around the hapless nerd Eugene.
After the curtain call, the cast presented flowers and thanks to the adults who directed the show (and what a logistical challenge that must have been, with all the snow days this winter!). It was so sweet when Jackie Tremblay, who did a marvelous job playing the cynical, hardened Rizzo, choked up when she gave director Betsy Ballard her bouquet.
Huge congratulations to everyone involved in this terrific production, and I hope you had an awesome and memorable cast party. You will be happy to know that my date did a doo-wop shuffle on the way back to the car, and I found myself belting out "Hopelessly Devoted to You" in the shower this morning.

Levi Weaver

Singer Levi Weaver presented a fascinating show at the Hockessin Baptist Church on Friday night. He used a suitcase full of digital gadgets to create amazing aural effects; he recorded snippets of his voice and then played them back while singing along with himself, adding layer upon layer of harmony. One mike that he used made his voice sound like an ethereal choir encircling around the room.
Levi, a gangly fellow with a shock of dark hair, hails from Texas, is the son of a rodeo cowboy, and now lives in an RV with his wife and kids. Between songs he spoke about his struggles with keeping religious faith (after all, the concert was in a church hall). He said that a few years ago he was diagnosed with depression and checked "yes" to almost all the boxes on a depression survey the doctor gave him. Then they asked for his occupation: "I wrote down, `Musician'. It was kind of like extra credit."
Headlining the show was an adorable and earnest young couple, Jenny & Tyler. They sang some very sweet love songs, including one about how Jenny gave up her beloved one-eyed cat because Tyler was allergic to him.

Harry Sighting

On Daylight Savings Sunday morning (possibly afternoon) I stopped in at Hood's for a breakfast sandwich and was delighted to run into my old friend Harry Wackerman, who runs the Kennett Senior Center's used bookstore on Union Street in downtown Kennett. Harry was telling me how much he enjoys living out here in the beautiful West Marlborough countryside.

Friday, March 7, 2014


The large monument honoring Indian Hannah, considered the last of the Lenni-Lenape Indians, was moved on Thursday, March 6, from its old site along Route 52 north -- the stretch that was abandoned when the new road opened -- and now sits opposite the main entrance of Longwood Gardens, just across Longwood Road, at the Brandywine Valley Tourism Information building. When I saw the freshly transplanted monument at its new home the afternoon of Friday, March 7, the base was still swaddled in a blue tarpaulin. I was very glad to see the marker again, and it will certainly get a lot more sun than it did in its old shaded location. I'm told a re-dedication ceremony is planned for the spring, with dignitaries.

Jerry Poe

Best wishes for a happy retirement to Jerry Poe, the longtime maintenance supervisor at the Kennett YMCA. The staff threw a Hawaiian-themed party to honor Jerry the afternoon of Friday, March 7. Jerry assured me he will still be around -- but working out, not working. Jerry and his crew certainly rose to the challenge that this winter posed, doing their best to keep the Y functioning and accessible despite all the snow and power outages.

Once a Girl Scout ...

The Alumnae Girl Scouts of Chester County will be holding "Tea Time at Tweedale" on Sunday, April 13, from 2 to 5 p.m. All women who were Girl Scouts, or still are Girl Scouts, are invited to attend. Please RSVP to Ann Beccomen at, and bring a tea cup or mug and a snack or dessert to share. Camp Tweedale is in Lower Oxford Township at the Chester/Lancaster County border, on the Octoraro Lake.
As part of the celebration, the Brandywine Valley Girl Scout Service Unit is looking to honor the oldest Girl Scout in Chester County. Anyone who thinks she qualifies -- or knows someone who might -- is asked to contact Linda Ingenthron  at 610-869-2387 or I think we may have a winner right here in West Marlborough Township ...

St. Pat's Gala

What more authentic way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day than with the Knights of Columbus from -- you guessed it -- St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Kennett? They'll be holding their third annual St. Patrick's Day Gala Celebration at the Red Clay Room on Dalmatian Street in Kennett Square on Saturday, March 15, from 6 to 11 p.m. 
My dear friend Doug sent me this email about the event:
"This year we are pleased to host the 2013 Rose of Tralee winner Brittany Killion who will sing and share what it was like to compete in Ireland, The Do Cairde Irish Dancers, The Laddeens with their fiddle, whistles and uillean pipes, The St. Patrick Youth Choir, our Youth Choir, singer Laura La Pelusa who will solo and lead an old-fashioned Irish sing-along. There will be musical Salutes to our Veterans and those families with loved ones now serving world-wide, our Fathers since gone, and Couples who have voyaged together.
"The menu is a traditional Irish Buffet with ham, roasted bliss potatoes, cole slaw, corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread and desserts.  Wine and beer is included. There will be a Silent Auction, baskets of cheer, and a 50/50."
Tickets are $25 for adults, $16 for kids 6 to 12; children 5 and under are FREE. (Tickets are available at 484.643.8451.) Proceeds benefit the Knights of Columbus.  Dress is "come as you are."
I receive a lot of press releases for people who want me to promote and/or attend their events. But, I have to say, this email contained one heckuva persuasive kicker: "Great food, wonderful entertainment, camaraderie and wholesome family fun hosted by the Knights of Columbus!!!!" 



Two friends were telling me they had some excitement on their East Marlborough cul-de-sac the other evening: fire trucks and an ambulance appeared at the house across the street. It seems that the couple had had some work done on their furnace earlier in the day, and a few hours later the carbon monoxide alarms sounded. The fire company brought in large fans to air out the house and treated the residents in the ambulance.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Point to Point

Let me say upfront that this item about the Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds Point-to-Point is completely uncoerced, even if its chairman, John B. Hannum Jr., did buy me lunch at the Foxy Loxy in Unionville (a turkey, Brie, and apple Panini with mushroom soup). I tried to tell him that I'm always delighted to write about the unofficial end-of-winter-in-Unionville event and really didn't need to be bribed -- but you just try saying "no" to Jock Hannum when he is determined to pick up the tab.
Anyhow, the 69th running of the Point-to-Point is on Sunday, March 30. Gates open at 11 a.m., and don't miss the Pony Races, which kick off the race day. The course is at the Walkers' Plantation Field, off Route 82 west of Green Valley Road.
I look forward to this event every spring. The horse races are always exciting, and you get to see them close up, and there's also a terrific social aspect to the day: it's a chance to greet folks you haven't seen all winter, and there are truly world-class people- and dog-watching opportunities.
During our lunch Jock made a point of praising the members of the race committee for their work organizing the day's events. He himself was hard at work selling ad space in the program to local businesses and showed me a marked-up copy of last year's program that he was using as a template.
You can get all the information you need about tickets at

There's no business...

There's very little to report from this month's West Marlborough Township supervisors' brief meeting, which was held on Tuesday, March 4. The Planning Commission had nothing on its agenda, so it cancelled its meeting. There were no zoning permits or applications filed; there were no building permits issued or inspections done. The only public comment at the meeting came from a Springdell resident who praised the work of the township road crew in clearing the roads this winter.
Supervisor Bill Wylie said he agreed with that sentiment, noting that despite West Marlborough's small tax base, the township supervisors had made a deliberate decision to take care of their own roads rather than outsourcing because of the advantages of having a local crew that "understands the community they work in."
The next township meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 1.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

"For here"

La Michoacana Grill's indoor seating area opened on Friday, Feb. 28, and the next day we were there for dinner to check it out. It's a very nice room, decorated in tasteful shades of gold and brown. You can take your meal and sit at one of the five tables. My chicken burrito, as always, was stuffed so full that it looked like a bolster. Delicious! And I was glad to see that the place was doing a really good business. La Michoacana Grill is at Cypress and Union Streets in downtown Kennett, and there's an adjacent parking area on the south side of Cypress Street.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

No baguettes yet

The sign in front of the Bakers at Red Lion tells you all you need to know:

Waiting game

Motorists in Pocopson this past Saturday morning certainly had lots of unexpected time to enjoy the snow-covered Pocopson scenery. First a very lengthy train was crossing Route 926 at Ace Hardware, backing up traffic all the way to Brinton's Bridge Road. One motorist ahead of us got tired of waiting and turned around. As he passed us he made the rotating-index-finger sign by the side of his head. At first I thought he was indicating that some wingnut move by a motorist was causing the delay, but on reflection I realized he was probably advising us to follow his lead and turn around. We did so.
And then construction crews were working on Route 52 at the site of the forthcoming traffic circle at Unionville-Lenape Road, in front of the Pocopson Home. Cars were being detoured via the little triangle of roads there.

Left out in the cold

Re: last week's item about my frozen Valentine's Day flowers: a friend reports that her flowers, purchased at Wegman's, were also unsatisfactory. On her next trip there she stopped in at the floral department and let them know. The woman apologized, refunded her money and explained that the whole shipment had been left out in the bitter cold for too long. She said she appreciated it when customers came in and expressed their dissatisfaction; that way she could stress that this was just an unfortunate one-time occurrence rather than reflecting the usual quality of Wegman's flowers.

Old Doe Run

"Unionville in the News" reader Laura Deckman was kind enough to write to me (via "Hood's post"!)after reading my item about the vintage Doe Run postcard that sold on eBay for $125. She said she lived in Doe Run, at the corner of Highland Dairy Road and Route 82, for 35 years, and she enclosed a photo of that very same postcard (I dropped out of the bidding at $45). She also sent an aerial photo showing their house in 1950, when they moved in, and two earlier photos of the damage the house sustained in a 1906 tornado: trees were snapped off and the roof collapsed.
Thank you so much, Mrs. Deckman!