Sunday, September 28, 2014

UNIONVILLE: Hood's will rise again

By the time you read this, Hood's BBQ "old" building will be no more. Demolition was set for Monday, Sept. 29, and when we stopped by the evening before, it looked as if someone had taken a sledgehammer to the place, with a pane of shattered glass and bricks littering the front parking lot. Larry Hood Sr. told us that people had even been stopping by to take commemorative bricks home with them!
The demolition will make way for the new Hood's, on the same site. In the meantime, the Hood's trailer is open behind the restaurant for breakfast and lunch.

UNIONVILLE: And God saw that it was good

My new guinea pig Gilbert was a champ on Sunday afternoon at the Blessing of the Animals at the Unionville Presbyterian Church: he didn't nip at anyone and he didn't object when kids wanted to pet him. Gilbert was one of two guinea pigs to show up, in addition to a rabbit and many dogs (while we were there we saw a pug, a King Charles Cavalier named Charlie and a Yorkie). We arrived a little late, and the Rev. Annalie Korengel was kind enough to put her vestments back on to bless Gilbert and ask God for a happy life in his new home. She also wore a special stole emblazoned with animal silhouettes.
Gilbert is now the proud owner of a personalized certificate with a verse from Genesis: "So God created the great sea animals and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good."

INSECTS: They might be Gnats

This weekend's adventures took us to Warwick County Park, which is off Route 23 near St. Peters Village. We discovered that the northern part of Chester County has been suffering from an invasion of gnats this summer. As soon as we stepped out of the car they started swarming around our heads. "Welcome to Warwick," commented a park ranger, seeing us trying to bat them away. We remarked on the pesky bugs to two other visitors and they said, "Oh, we're used to it." They said it's been like that all summer.
Fortunately they seemed to bother us only within the confines of the park. While we were being tourists at St. Peters Village, there were no gnats.
On the (indirect) way home we drove through the neighborhood where I grew up. Giant houses have sprung up everywhere. The perfectly nice houses where my friends lived have been massively expanded. I was sad to see that cool little modern house around the corner where I babysat--it was full of plants, dog hair, beaded curtains and hippie books--was torn down and replaced by a large, immaculate and perfectly landscaped house. A former farm down the street, where a venerable horse and a noisy donkey were always grazing near the fence, has been replaced by a mega-house. Instead of Duchess and Nick, there's only a weird wire statue of a horse in the front yard.

Friday, September 26, 2014

POLITICS: More good advice from my mother

Over dinner last weekend the Young Relative was expounding on what he wants to do when he grows up, a favorite topic of his for many years. His latest idea was to somehow corner the market on knowledge and then be able to produce the correct answer for any problem. This, he believed, would guarantee him a powerful role in government.
His grandmother, normally the most supportive and sunny of women, was quick to dissuade him from this plan.
"Oh, no," she declared. "I don't want you going into politics. Politics is a dirty business."
It seems like an apt comment on this week's news.

WEST GROVE: Michael Green talks about Sufism

It was all about breathing for me on Wednesday evening, from Pilates class at the Y (where you "exhale to execute" the move) straight to a lecture on Sufism given by Michael Green, during which he paused several times and encouraged us to focus on our breathing instead of on his words.
The talk was part of "Faces and Faiths of our Neighbors," a series on world religions sponsored by West Grove Quaker Meeting, and it drew a few dozen people to the meetinghouse. Michael shared some basics about the origins of the faith, his teacher Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, and how Sufi teachings have shaped his life. (Michael is an artist who lives on an East Fallowfield farm; He also did a pretty funny imitation of an old-fashioned "Quaker" quaking and displayed remarkable dexterity when he illustrated a thumb and finger having an animated conversation. It was not a standard PowerPoint presentation, and thank goodness for that.
Oct. 1 is Judaism, presented by Maury Hoberman; October 8 is Hinduism with Milan Sandhu; and October 15 is Buddhism with Michele Siegel. The talks start at 7 p.m.; the meetinghouse is at 153 E. Harmony Rd. in West Grove.

KENNETT: Welcoming some out-of-towners

It's fun to see Kennett through a fresh eyes sometimes. After I popped in to the Bayard Taylor library on a recent sunny afternoon, I spied a couple eating ice cream outside La Michoacana across State Street and thought that a late-season cup of Brownie Delight would be an excellent reward for finishing up an unpleasant editing job (a book about the "dirty war" in Argentina; not cheerful).
So I started chatting with the man and woman, who were raving about how delicious their ice cream was. It turns out they were visiting from New York City and made a particular point of stopping in at La Michoacana; they even put the address on their GPS.
The woman asked me if she was correct in guessing that there was a significant Mexican population in the area. I said yes, indeed, and told her about the links with the mushroom industry. And that led to a discussion about the Mushroom Fest, Cinco de Mayo, and the very fine Mexican restaurants we are lucky to have in the area. They asked for a recommendation and I was happy to oblige!

PLANTATION FIELD: Lots of mums and pumpkins for sale

On Monday, after the big three-day equestrian event, I returned to Plantation Field for what has turned into an annual fall decorating sale. The organizers buy hundreds of mums and pumpkins to decorate the jumps and give an autumnal feel to the course -- and then they try to recoup some of the cost by selling them at bargain-basement prices.
I did my part by loading up my vehicle for myself and a pal, but it barely made a dent in the stock: workers just kept bringing more Gator-loads of leftovers off the course.

POCOPSON: Talking to the animals at Baily's

We spent Sunday afternoon with Jumpy the Turkey, Carlton the pot-bellied pig, a three-day-old calf, chickens, Jersey cows and lots of other farm animals at the open house at Bailey's Dairy in Pocopson. It was so much fun saying "hi" to the animals and watching the little kids interact with them. One toddler was fascinated by a pygmy goat and kept following him around; the goat ignored him and just kept munching grass.
There was a guess-the-pumpkin's-weight contest. My companion tried to lift the enormous vegetable and estimated it was about the weight of two-and-a-half economy-size bags of dog food. We wrote down 105 on the contest form; it turned out to be 139 lbs.
The winning name in the name-the-calf contest was "Magic" (it was supposed to be an "M" name because the calf's Mom is "Mistletoe").
There were ice-cream sundaes for sale, with the same chocolate syrup used in Baily's wonderful chocolate milk. And if farm animals and ice cream were enough, there was even a TV set up outside so hard-core NFL fans could watch the Eagles game.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

SPRINGDELL: Losing an old-timer

My friend and neighbor Bernie Langer died yesterday, and I will miss him very much. I met Bernie, who lived in the village of Springdell, when I started going to West Marlborough township meetings. He was a fixture at those meetings, even bringing along his little oxygen tank when he needed it in the past few years. He had an opinion about every township issue: when the "public comment" portion of the meeting arrived, every eye went straight to Bernie.
Bernie was a dog lover, a former fox hunter, and a family man; he was active at St. Michael Lutheran Church. He was a great storyteller and loved talking about "the old days." During a recent lull in a meeting he told me about how as a youth in New England he would cut ice on ponds. He had lived all over the world and had a huge range of interests (Thai food was a favorite topic). In July I wrote about the serpentine barrens in Nottingham, and he brought to the next township meeting some little vials containing rock specimens. Another time he and his wife Claudette gave me an orchid plant that he had won as a door prize; he thought it had a better chance of survival at my house than his.
West Marlborough will not be the same without you, Bernie. Rest in peace, my friend, with your beloved dogs and your son Michael.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A full evening of meetings

This month's West Marlborough township meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 7, is going to be a little bit different. First the township planning commission will meet at 6 p.m.; then the township supervisors will convene at 6:30 p.m. to discuss possible revisions to the township's schedule of fees for permits and hearings. The supervisors have said they want to revisit the list so they can remove unnecessary rules that are burdensome to homeowners. After that discussion, the board will hold its usual meeting.
I'm told that a possible item on the planning commission's agenda is a discussion about neighboring Newlin Township's proposed ordinance to regulate horse boarding operations. Newlin's supervisors are scheduled to vote Monday, Oct. 13, on the hugely controversial new ordinance, which has drawn an outcry from that township's equestrian community.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Field Day at the range

It's Field Day at the Southern Chester County Sportsmen's & Farmers' Association from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4. According to their flier, there will be demonstrations of black powder, long range, alternate target, archery, fly-fishing, trap shooting and a Gatling gun. The public is welcome, with the caveat "ear and eye protection recommended." The range is on Sportsmen's Lane off Route 926, just east of the village of London Grove. Their website is

Sunday, September 21, 2014

UNIONVILLE: Plantation Field horse trials

The prestigious Plantation Field Three-Day Event this past weekend attracted high-level and up-and-coming horses and riders to Unionville from far and wide. We stopped by on Saturday, watched the stadium jumping part of the competition, and walked through the vendors' area (mostly tack, art and antiques, and of course the Dubarry boot guy standing in a basin of water). On Sunday we spent a few hours out on the cross-country course with two friends who were fence-judging. On both days we got to see to lots and lots of friends (if I tried to name them all, I know I'd miss somebody).
It's amazing to watch these human and equestrian athletes at work: they make it look easy. I was simply staggered by the way they can clear a jump that's barely wider than the horse's body, or defy gravity by taking a jump that's at the top of a steep slope.
In addition to the horses, I always enjoy watching the photographers and the dogs at equestrian events. We spotted one photographer friend (unmistakable in her giant hat) standing right in the middle of the stadium jumping ring, next to a jump that wasn't being used in that round. On cross-country day the photographers clustered next to the especially dramatic "ruins" and water jumps.
Two of my best pals know quite a lot about dogs, and they have a great time at equestrian events identifying less-common breeds and mixes. On Saturday, among many others, we saw a very animated Vizsla and three Great Pyrenees.
And I loved the two-page tribute to my friend and neighbor Denis Glaccum in the Plantation Field program.
Even if nothing else is going on, I enjoy just being at Plantation Field: the sweeping views over the countryside are spectacular. Especially so at this year's competition, which was a picture-perfect weekend (once the Sunday morning fog cleared).

WEST GROVE: A good meal at a church BBQ

On Saturday we were running late for most of our adventures, but thank goodness we were early for the annual chicken BBQ at the West Grove United Methodist Church on North Guernsey Road. We showed up just before 5, when the doors officially opened, and the room quickly filled up. The big portion of chicken was very tasty, and you also got a hot potato, applesauce, a roll, coleslaw and home-made desserts. Talk about a filling meal! The Boy Scouts who acted as servers and bussers were very helpful. One of them got to dress up in a chicken suit and walk around making "bawk-BAWK" noises. And the opera overtures as background music were an unexpected touch!
Our fellow chicken-eaters were a very welcoming bunch. We shared a table with some Jenners' Pond residents and the retired Chester County sheriff, Robert Erling (his license plate reads "Sheriff Bob").The elderly woman next to me was quite amusing: She urged me to pick up the chicken rather then messing around with a knife and fork, and she sang the praises of putting an ample amount of butter on your potato.

UNIONVILLE: Pet blessing on Sunday

Annalie Korengel Lorgus, Pastor of the Unionville Presbyterian Church, alerted me that the church will be holding its second annual Pet Blessing and Ice Cream Social from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28, in the back yard of the manse (the building across Wollaston Road from the church). Last year I took my guinea pig Binnie to the event, and this year I hope to take my new little cavy, Gilbert.
Speaking of our furry friends, last night at an outdoor concert in Gap I saw a black-and-white rabbit being walked around on a leash. Can't say I've ever seen a rabbit on a leash before.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

LONDONDERRY: Improving the Route 41/926 crossroads

The Londonderry Township supervisors are inviting Londonderry township residents to share their opinions about the [insert adjective here] Route 41/926 intersection at an open house from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, at the township building, 103 Daleville Road, Cochranville. PennDOT representatives will be there too.
According to the posting on the township's website:
"This is to be a sharing of ideas as to the best way to make this intersection safer and more driver friendly. All ideas, drawings and sketches  are welcome. The Supervisors and PennDOT representatives will be available to answer any questions, but more importantly to listen to solutions presented by its residents." 

LONGWOOD GARDENS: Everyone's heard of it

The senior Tally-hos recently returned from an adventurous driving trip through New England with their antique car club. Members of the club traveled from around the country to attend my rally, and my parents, being friendly sorts, struck up conversations with everyone they could. Of course one of the first things you share when meeting strangers is where you're from, and for my parents this is "outside of Philadelphia, near Longwood Gardens."
To a person, no matter where they were from, their new friends had actually heard of Longwood Gardens. We tend to forget what a famous landmark we have in our back yards!

Friday, September 19, 2014

NEW GARDEN: 300th birthday party in the park

The indefatigable Mary Sproat (we see her everywhere!) asked if I could give some ink to New Garden Township's 300th birthday party, which is going to be held at the township park (along Route 41 near Newark Road) from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27 (rain date is Sept. 28). As befits such a momentous occasion, there will be a tree planting, a time capsule burial, historical photos, and a vintage tractor show -- in addition to music, food, games and the usual family activities.

NEWLIN TOWNSHIP: It takes a village to throw a party

Gail Abel of Newlin Township sent me the following thank-you note as a follow-up to the
Newlin Fire & EMS Party, a fundraiser for the Po-Mar-Lin, Modena and West Bradford fire companies that was held Sept. 13 at the Lenfest Center at the Cheslen Preserve. She and the organizers send their thanks to:
-- The local volunteer firefighters
-- Victory Brewing Company
-- Stargazer's, Galers. and Paradocx Wineries
-- Natural Lands Trust for the use of Lenfest Center
-- Megan Bittle, the emcee
-- Newlin Township
-- Raffle donors Martin May, Karen D'Alliard, Richard Chalfont, Andra Rudershausen, Loryn and Pete Schiffer of Schiffer Publishing, Bill Kelsall, Reddy Hannum and the Cheshire Hunt, Dr. and Mrs. Tim Manzone, Susan Drake of Sarah's Country Chocolates, and Lorraine's Frame Cellar in Willowdale.
"Plus Thank You to the entire Newlin Fire & EMS Support Committee and their friends who
volunteered their time and energy to help make this Party a huge success! It was a fantastic way to show our Volunteer Fire Fighters that they have our continued support!"

UTILITIES: How to annoy customers really quickly

I really should stick to my policy of not answering all "unknown" phone calls (that is, ones that don't give the caller's name).
This afternoon I got a call and out of curiosity picked it up. It was a recorded customer service survey from a Major Utility Company asking about my recent call to them. Was I satisfied with the service?
I responded yes; the rep had been helpful.
The recorded voice continued: "You answered yes. If this is correct, please say yes."
I did not answer "yes." In fact, I hung up. Were they going to ask me to confirm THAT "yes" with yet another one? This could have gone on all afternoon! And if they were going to accept the second "yes," why couldn't they just accept the first "yes" and move on? Who writes these scripts anyway?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

COUNTRY LIFE: Not all manure is the same

Tilda's brother, an avid recreational bicyclist, is supremely fit and often spends entire days out on the road. His idea of a good time is when his hi-tech cycling computer crunches the numbers (heart rate, temperature, humidity, speed, etc.) and reports that his Suffering Index is at the "Epic" level.
There's one factor his computer doesn't take into account, however: horse manure. On a recent ride he took a wrong turn and ended up riding through a drenching rain on the back roads of Lancaster County, which, it seems, had recently experienced an extraordinarily heavy volume of horse-drawn carriages and wagons.
I was confused: he often bikes through Unionville and never complains about the poop on our roads. What was so different about the Lancaster County variety, I asked.
"Trust me," he said, with a you-really-don't-want-to-know air. "It's different. They must have a different diet or something."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

POCOPSON: Preliminary progress report

This past Sunday we took a little detour -- not the approved one -- and explored the construction site at Route 52, Wawaset Road and Unionville-Lenape Road, where a traffic roundabout is being installed.
Frankly, it didn't look like much progress had been made, given the length of time the road has been shut down. The road surface had been removed for quite a distance, and what used to be pavement was dirt and stone. A lot of earth had been shifted around to level the area, leaving mini-Grand Canyon walls of dirt topped by utility poles. I did notice that some piping and drains had been installed.

[CAPTION: construction site of Pocopson roundabout]

[CAPTION: Route 52, looking south from Wawaset Road intersection]

I tried to get artsy and knelt down to take a photo through a metal pipe, hoping to caption it "a light at the end of the tunnel." Alas, at the end of the tunnel there was only a porta-potty.

PARKERSVILLE: New life for an old meetinghouse

Parkersville Friends Meeting House held its annual open house this past Sunday afternoon. There were representatives of three generations of Parkers, plus Elinor Thomforde, Louise Price, Mary Sproat, Karen Halstead, Dale Frens, Shirley Annand, Ellen Endslow, Director of Collections/Curator of the Chester County Historical Society, and maybe a dozen more. After an hour of silent worship we adjourned to the porch of the beautifully maintained meetinghouse, built in 1830, and enjoyed homemade chocolate-chip cookies and lemonade. We also admired the meeting's well-tended burial ground and the new National Register of Historic Places plaque.
The meeting, tucked away in a grove off Parkersville Road south of Route 926, is open for worship every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. after having been shuttered for many years. One of the senior Parkers told me he would love to see better attendance.

[CAPTION: Parkersville Friends Meeting House]

[CAPTION: National Register Plaque at Parkersville Meeting]

I learned that the house just across from the meetinghouse used to be the Parkerville schoolhouse. The new owners have done a splendid, and doubtless expensive, job renovating it up.

THE SEASONS: Autumn is upon us

Fall is upon us for sure after one of the most clement summers I can recall. The hummingbirds have abruptly headed south. I've harvested the pumpkins and the potatoes, and almost all the giant sunflowers have been blown over. Walnuts are starting to bang down on the roof, and I saw the first squished Osage orange fruit on the road the other day. Oddly, the gladioli are still in bloom; usually they flower at the beginning of August.
And of course school is back in session. When asked how things were going at Patton Middle School, the Young Relative produced only a monosyllabic response, but at least the monosyllable was "good." He was much more voluble about another autumnal ritual: his three Fantasy Football teams.

LONGWOOD: Final fireworks display of the summer

The final Longwood fireworks display of the summer took place on Saturday night, accompanied by the music of the Beatles. (I asked the Young Relative if he had heard of the Beatles. I received a withering look, and he asked with heavy sarcasm if I had heard of Martin Luther King. Fair enough!)
The pyrotechnics were tremendous, especially the ones that accompanied "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road" (the grand finale). (In case you were wondering: yes, they played "Here Comes the Sun" and "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.)
The red and green fireworks that lingered in the sky, slowly floating to the south, impressed even the mechanical engineer in our midst. "How do they DO that!" he marveled.
As always, we loved the loud ones and are developing our own Mach scale or Richter scale to rate the noise produced, using "car alarms triggered" and "crying babies" as the criteria.
Thanks, Longwood: You provided us with several nights of excellent entertainment this summer.

Friday, September 12, 2014

THE OTHER SIDE: Open house at the Parastudy center

When I was a kid, ESP cards were the rage for a while. They were white cards with simple symbols on them: a cross, a square, a circle, a star and wavy lines. The "sender" would select a card and try to send mental vibes about the identity to the "receiver."
My older sister was always the sender and I was always the hapless recipient. I never scored better than chance at identifying the symbols; indeed, sometimes worse. (It just occurred to me, years later, that maybe it was my sister's ESP that was deficient rather than mine. That possibility was never raised at the time, doubtless for some sibling-rivalry reason. Hmmm.)
So I may or may not be "sensitive" to spirits and such, but some friends who live in old homes around here swear they have experienced peculiar, inexplicable things. One friend goes to Gettysburg frequently to check out supposedly haunted places, and another makes a regular pilgrimage to Lilydale, New York, a hotspot for psychic mediums.
Those are the ones who might be interested in attending the 55th anniversary celebration of Parastudy, a group devoted to the "paranormal." "Founder's Day" will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28, at the group's Victorian mansion at 354 Valleybrook Road in Chester Heights (a little southeast of the Route 1/322 intersection). According to their website:
"The day will begin at 1 p.m. with honoring volunteers and leaders, past and present.
The afternoon will continue 1:45-4 p.m. with house tours, ESP tests, Pit games (a game invented by psychic Edgar Cayce), discounted psychic readings, including palmistry, tea readings, astrology readings and chair massage. There will also be aura readings, a herbal preparation sale, mini classes and a talk on the history of Parastudy’s Victorian mansion and its ghosts. The book store will be open. Bring a dish to share for the Pot Luck supper at 5  p.m. There is no admission charge to attend this event and the talks and tours are free."
(And if you want to try those ESP cards I mentioned, there's a printable version you can download from the Internet.)


HOBBIES: Yes, I still do needlepoint

I was at a particularly heated municipal meeting the other night (the one in Newlin) and brought along my needlepoint project to keep me occupied during the stretches when I wasn't schmoozing or taking notes.
I was surprised at the reaction my half-finished canvas got. A friend sitting next to me said it reminded her of a male needlework enthusiast she knows in England, and the time a stranger at an airport made a little hat for my friend's baby during a flight delay.
The woman behind me said she used to do needlepoint regularly but hadn't seen anyone doing it in 20 years. I guess she doesn't hang out with the hip crowd that I do: at a get-together on Saturday, another lady and I were both doing needlepoint, and she was enough of an expert not only to design her own patterns but also to critique my yarn choice (she thought a variegated yarn would be more suitable than the plain coral I was using).
I took the same project to a blood drive Thursday at St. Gabriel in Avondale, expecting to wait before they poked me. The older lady volunteering at the drive came over and said she misses doing embroidery because "they" don't make canvases anymore with the pattern stamped on it. Her daughter is trying to talk her into taking up counted cross-stitch, but she has her doubts. 
I find needlepoint to be an excellent hobby, very soothing and meditative, and you get a nice-looking pillow at the end of it.

SHOPPING CART: British food close to home

For the local Anglophiles (there seem to be an inordinate number), I have good news: there's a British food section at the Giant on Route 1 east of Kennett (the one that used to be a Genuardi's). Usually the only time I'm at that store is when I need to dash in and pick up an emergency missing item, so I hadn't really checked it out until a few weeks ago.
McVities Digestive Biscuits, Hobnobs, salad cream, Ribena, baked beans, canned mushy peas, Mars bars: all there! All in metric measurements! Such culinary delights, and such happy memories of the messy little kitchen in the dorm at my British university.
And when you're there, stop in and get a bagel at Palm-a-Bagel in the same shopping center. They are the best and so incredibly fresh.

[CAPTION: The British food section at the Longwood Giant.]

AVONDALE: Police are doing car seat safety checks

A "Unionville in the News" reader writes:
"Earlier this week my husband and I were at the Avondale State Police barracks to have our grandson's car seat installation inspected (upon the wishes of our daughter-in-law). 
Trooper Minnucci gave us the all okay after a good tutorial, checklist and inspection! The whole process took about 15 minutes and we were glad to know the car seat is secure for our grandchild. What a great idea for young families and extended families - and a challenge to something overlooked by many.
She mentioned there is going to be Troopers at a FREE Car Seat Inspection at the Avondale Fire Company, September 18th from 2:00 - 8:00pm. The only pre-requisite is to phone Trooper Minnucci at 610-268-2102 to secure a time without wait.
This is an ongoing service offered at the Avondale State Police barracks by appointment.  The troopers attend classes to be certified in car seat safety."
If you don't read this in time to make the inspection at the Avondale Fire Company, do call the state police and get your car seat checked. Car seats are new to many grandparents because when I was growing up, our only car safety measure was Mom shooting a protective hand across the front seat when she had to stop suddenly.


JENNERSVILLE: Age is just a number

There was a little bit of a backup checking in at the Y the other day. The woman in front of me was asking about swim lessons for her kid, and the polite (they are always polite) front-desk helper said, "Let me scan in these two young ladies behind you, and then I'll get you the information."
I, one of the so-called young ladies, looked at the woman next to me, who was of a similar age. In no sense, not even by courtesy, does the adjective apply to us.
"Young ladies?" I said. "Who's she talking about?"
"I think she needs bifocals," said my peer-group member with a laugh.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

TEXTING: This message was lost in translation

Yesterday I was texting a friend and wanted to suggest that perhaps her anger was causing her to read too much into a situation. "Cum grano salis," I wrote. At least I tried to: my autospeller changed it from Latin to "Cummings granola Salisbury."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Former Elvin property back on the market

In February 2013 the crumbling barn and long-abandoned farmhouse on the former Elvin farm along Apple Grove Road were torn down, lots of excavating was being done, and locals were curious about what the Rothmans would be building there. But no work has been done since, and now there's a for-sale sign on the property. Asking price for the 11-acre tract is $935,000. "Phenomenal hacking in all directions," reads the real-estate ad. ("Hacking," in equestrian lingo, means pleasure riding, not invading somebody else's computer.)
We stopped by the site on Saturday, disturbing a great blue heron. There are a few storage sheds on the property and the remains of barn walls. There's a giant pile of rubble from the demolition and earth-moving that's now covered by dense weeds and vines. Directly across the street from the site are the blue-and-white tents that will serve as stables for next weekend's big Plantation Field equestrian event.

[CAPTION: Ruin of a barn wall at the former Elvin property]

NEWLIN TOWNSHIP: Opposition to horse farm rules continues

At another standing-room-only meeting, Newlin Township residents voiced their passionate opposition to a proposed ordinance that would regulate equestrian operations.
At the Sept. 8 hearing, the residents made the same points to the township supervisors they had made at the township's Aug. 11 meeting: that the supervisors were jeopardizing their livelihoods without understanding the horse business and, in the longer term, endangering the sought-after rural character and lifestyle of Newlin by placing undue hardships on horse farm owners.
The supervisors said they will vote on the ordinance at their Oct. 13 meeting. Resident Lisa Thomas, who has collected almost 1,400 signatures on an online petition against the measure, asked if the supervisors would sit down and meet with the residents before the vote, but they did not answer her. Supervisors Rob Pearson said only that the board would take into account the residents' comments.
Among the speakers were landowners Ed and Susan Brown, Suzanne Schless, former Olympic rider and now coach Jessica Ransehousen of Blue Hill Farm on Powell Road, and Steven Siepser. Ben Barnett of Hilltop View Road drew a standing ovation when he asked if the supervisors had actually heard from anyone who supported the proposal. He suggested that the supervisors reject the ordinance and focus on more important issues facing the township, like the large development being proposed for the former Embreeville Hospital property.
A who's who of the local equestrian world was in the audience, including Olympic eventer Boyd Martin, who had just returned from competing in the World Equestrian Games in France.
The proposed ordinance would allow the boarding of horses as long as the farm in question meets certain requirements. If the farm fell short, however, the owners would have to apply for a special exception from the township's Zoning Hearing Board. The township charges $1,500 to hold such a hearing.
The residents' anger seems to focus on the requirements that the township wants to impose on boarding facilities, such as having at least three acres for the first horse and two acres for each additional one, as well as restrictions about where pastures can be located in terms of flood plains and steep slopes and where manure can be stored. The residents said the acreage requirements were arbitrary and unfair.
The supervisors have stressed that it was not their choice to deal with this situation but it was thrust upon them in the spring of 2013 when some Hilltop View Road residents complained that the new owners of a farm on the road, Mr. Barnett and his wife, had substantially increased the horse trailer traffic. The supervisors said the regulations on the books had never been enforced, and they couldn't enforce the rules on one boarding operation and not on all.
The proposed ordinance is posted on the township's website.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

NEW GARDEN: A special meal at the Fire Hill Pub

We just got home from an excellent birthday dinner at the Fire Hill Pub, the new incarnation of the Brown Derby in downtown Toughkenamon.
My mussels were delicious and full of garlic (that's a good thing). They came with French fries and a grilled baguette and were better than the ones I had at a Main Line place recently. My favorite dinner partner wolfed down his crabcakes without sharing ("Too late," he crowed). They were served with colorful potatoes and the vegetable of the day (perfectly cooked broccoli and carrots; I also ordered the vegetables and loved them). Our waiter was a friendly and polite fellow.
The interior is considerably freshened up, and word seems to be getting out that the place has reopened. In fact, we wound up there on Sunday because on Saturday evening the parking lot behind the restaurant was completely full (it was the Saturday of the Mushroom Fest). When we got there on Sunday at about 7, it was much less crowded: there were several people at the bar watching football and a few tables of diners. The atmosphere is relaxed, and I thought the prices were very reasonable.
According to the menu, the restaurant is named Fire Hill because the Lenni-Lenape Indians referred to a nearby hill as Fire Brand Hill. (The menu also includes some alternate spellings and pronunciations of Toughkenamon, which we had fun trying out.)
Our waiter told us he hoped we return soon, and I think we will. An excellent meal. You can see their menu online.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

KENNETT SQUARE: Paws and Claws is a gem of a pet store

What a gem the Paws & Claws pet store on West State Street is!
I stopped in to pick up some supplies for Gilbert the guinea pig, the newest resident of West Marlborough (I adopted the handsome boy from the Chester County SPCA shelter on Sept. 3), and found not only everything I needed but also knowledgeable advice and enthusiastic, friendly service from the staff.
I love a clean, well-organized pet store where dogs and cats greet you when you enter, and you can hear birds chirping and aquarium filters bubbling. After buying my bag of hay and a new food dish for Gilbert, I checked out some of the exotic critters they had for sale, including a corn albino snake, a tarantula and and a huge alligator gar (a kind of fish).
I heard from readers who also sing the store's praises:
"The people are so knowledgeable, kind and genuine. Two thumbs up! We will be spending a lot of time there just hanging out and giving love to the pets," wrote one.
"We adopted our two cats from there and ways get great advice about fish and they always have a great selection to choose from!" said another.
The store's groomer was also singled out for high praise.
Paws & Claws also has a huge assortment of pet accessories and treats. Check them out! It's a great store and it's right in downtown Kennett, in the little shopping center where El Ranchero Mexican restaurant is and Molly's Ice Cream and Papier used to be (this is going back many years).

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

HIGH FASHION: Unionville native launches a line of city shoes

Unionville native Mary Alice Malone Jr., a descendant of the Campbell's Soup founder, has launched Malone Souliers, a line of very glamorous shoes. According to an Aug. 18 item in "Town & Country" magazine, they debuted at a luncheon at posh retailer Bergdorf Goodman in New York. Nodding to Ms. Malone's equestrian roots, the writer noted: "More for the town rather than the country, the all-heels Fall line-up features beautifully constructed lace-ups, mules and mary janes."
This style is described as a "snake ankle-wrap pump" in "nude and pink" and is priced at $795 on Bergdorf's website.

And these "suede and lizard mid-calf boots" are $1,495 on the Saks website:
"Souliers," by the way, is French for shoes. We learned that shoes were "chaussures" in elementary-school French class, but it seems the French have many words for them.

ROUTE 1: The medians could use a little attention

An East Marlborough reader writes that en route to Trader Joe's the other day, "I became very disturbed over the maintenance conditions on the traffic medians along Route 1 (especially in Pennsbury Township and on into Chadds Ford). Seems like trees, weeds and other foreign objects have established permanent residency on the islands - some of which may cause a visual barrier for safety."
My observant reader also reports that the Pennsylvania state flag flying at the Willowdale Town Center is in poor condition and needs to be replaced.

STROUD CENTER: The wonders of water around the world

The folks at the Stroud Center will be showing the film "Watermark," described as "a visually dramatic documentary on how we shape water and how water shapes us around the world," from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, at Unionville High School. The 90-minute Canadian film is suitable for all ages. Admission is $15 per person (with a discount for groups of 10 or more), and tickets are available on the Stroud Center's website or at the door. Proceeds benefit the Stroud Center's freshwater research, education programs, and watershed restoration.

AFTER SCHOOL: We missed you so much! You too, Mommy!

On one of the first days of school, I was behind a school bus on Upland Road at just before 4 p.m. It stopped and let off two elementary-school kids, who went racing toward their mother, who was waiting for them by the side of the road with a big smile and outstretched arms.
The kids had a different idea: they went straight for the little dog next to her and smothered him with hugs.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Weeds are spreading from a vacant property

A Street Road resident told the West Marlborough supervisors at their monthly meeting that vines and weeds from the abandoned property next door are invading her yard, and she's concerned that the swimming pool may be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. She said the house, at the corner of Sportsman's Lane and Route 926, has been sitting empty for about seven years and is owned by the mortgage company.
The supervisors told her they'll ask the township's zoning officer to see if he can persuade the mortgage company to improve maintenance and resolve the issues.
I stopped by to check out this property and the neighbor is not exaggerating. Although the front lawn is mowed, an enormous stand of pokeweed blocks the garage doors. Overgrown shrubs and vines covered the front of the ranch house, obscuring the windows and the front door. I would have needed a machete to inspect the back yard.
In other business at the brief September meeting:
1. The supervisors announced that London Grove Friends Meeting had obtained both a zoning permit and a building permit to install a storage shed for the kindergarten.
2. Police officer Bob Clarke reported that he issued 12 citations in August, 11 for speeding and one for driving without a license. He said the worst violator was a vehicle traveling "in the mid-60s" in the 40-mph zone of Newark Road.
3. The supervisors named Tom Brosius, a West Marlborough native and one of the owners of Marlboro Mushrooms, to fill the Planning Commission vacancy created when Jeb Hannum moved to Virginia. (For lack of any business, the Planning Commission hasn't met since the spring.)
4. The board announced that it will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, to discuss the township's fee schedule for permits.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

LANCASTER COUNTY: This band was banned from playing a popular song

Band members and parents might be interested in a recent controversy just to our west, in the Garden Spot school district in Lancaster County.
It seems the high-school marching band wanted to perform Fall Out Boy's "Thanks for the Memories" (NOT the Frank Sinatra/Bob Hope standard) but after a parent objected to the lyrics on moral grounds, the song was banned from the band's repertoire.
Fall Out Boy heard about the flap and as a show of support invited the marching band to attend its show in Scranton on Aug. 31.
I heard about this when I was in New Holland at the annual Bluegrass Fest on Labor Day, and the delightful band member serving our (delicious) chicken BBQ apologized for yawning: the band didn't get home from the Fall Out Boy show until 3 a.m.
An interesting life lesson for all concerned in terms of community standards, squeaky wheels, and unforeseen consequences. I wanted to tell the band member that she would have a great story to tell for years to come (speaking of "thanks for the memories"!).
I checked out the lyrics in question, and although they're well beyond "I wanna hold your hand," they're about as tame as pop music gets these days. (I know, I know, I know: That's not saying much.) But as the band member quite sensibly pointed out, they were just playing the music, not singing the lyrics.

Monday, September 1, 2014

EAST MARLBOROUGH: The Unionville Community Park is officially open

The Unionville Community Park is now officially open for business after a short Labor Day morning ribbon-cutting ceremony with East Marlborough Township supervisors Cuyler Walker, Bob Weer, Buzz Hannum, and John Sarro, State Rep. Chris Ross, and State Sen. Dominic Pileggi. In a brief speech Mr. Walker acknowledged the generous state, local and private funding that helped the township purchase, plan and develop the 26-acre site, where a townhouse development was once proposed.
Afterward the officials set off for a stroll down the park's paved trails, which Mr. Walker noted are smooth, level and ADA-compliant.
The park is in the village of Unionville, on the south side of Route 82, behind the post office and firehouse.
Also attending the ceremony were East Marlborough Township manager Jane Laslo; township engineer Jim Hatfield; Barbara and Thelma Roney from the East Lynn Grange; Newlin Township supervisor Janie Baird; Bob Struble; East Marlborough police officer Bob Clarke; Unionville Community Fair president Danielle Chamberlain; several Unionville neighbors with their toddlers; many Po-Mar-Lin firefighters; and even two friendly representatives of the local canine population, who will doubtless be frequent users of the new park.
I had to confess that I have not yet explored the park, and I promised Jane Laslo I will do so.