Friday, October 31, 2014

CONOWINGO: Our breath-taking national bird

I played hookey on Friday afternoon, dug out my binoculars and headed down Route 1 to the Conowingo Dam in Maryland in search of bald eagles. Standing on the west bank of the Susquehanna, I immediately spotted two of them perched on one of the concrete abutments at the base of the dam. And just a few minutes later I saw an eagle weave through the high-tension lines ("He's teasing us," muttered the photographer next to me, who wanted a clear shot of eagle and blue sky without power lines).
Then the eagle swooped down, plucked a fish out of the river with its talons and flew off, right toward me. It was spectacular. As he flew over, I heard a barrage of camera shutters, like when Nicole Kidman poses for the paparazzi on the red carpet. The wildlife photographers who gather at the dam are an interesting and patient bunch. The most serious ones dress in camouflage and even shroud their gigantic, tripod-mounted lenses in camo.
I highly recommend a trip to the dam to see our national bird, which has made a remarkable recovery since the pesticide DDT was banned 40 years ago (the chemical, funneled up the food chain, was causing their eggs to crack).
Saturday, Nov. 8, is Conowingo Eagles Day, with presentations on the dam and wildlife photography. The event will take place at the Dam pavilion on Shures Landing Road from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can sign up at, and there's more information on the "Support Conowingo Dam" Facebook page.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

UHS BOYS' SOCCER: Undefeated Ches-Mont champs!

A special "Hail Unionville" shout-out to the undefeated UHS varsity boys' soccer team. As Ches-Mont league champs, the Indians were the #1 seed going into the District 1 AAA playoffs and shut out Conestoga, 3-0, in their first-round match at UHS on October 25. They'll play Central Bucks East at Great Valley at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6.
Thank you to all-kinds-of-proud soccer mom Allison Stautberg for emailing me about the team and soccer dad Mark W. Shafer (who was clearly a sportswriter at some point in his life) for sharing this vivid description of the team:
"Led by senior captains Henry Shafer, Brian Cortese, Sam Alfonsi and Andrew Chegia (all of whom have been school teammates since Fall 2009 when they played on Patton Middle School's 7th grade team), the team plays an aggressive yet unselfish, ball-control style of play.
The mid-field is patrolled and dominated by midfielders Logan Carlow, AJ Bernstein, Tim Yarosh, and Jeff Stautberg.
The defense is anchored by Cortese, Dan Beckman, Jack Seilus, and Chegia with Shafer in goal.
Up top, the brunt of the offensive damage is inflicted by Peter Ferraro, Aiden Walsh, Alex "The Great Dane" Andersen and Alfonsi.
In addition to the senior-dominated squad, the roster has some outstanding talent from the UHS Class of 2016 which includes Juniors Mark Ellsworth, Eli Lipsman, Mike Kosuth, Austin Brown, Ryan Humes, Mike Ceribelli and EJ Jankowski."

IN THE MOOD: Borough Christmas tour is coming up Dec. 14

Lynn Sinclair asked me to spread the word that Kennett Square's 14th annual Candlelight Holiday Home Tour is coming up on Dec. 14 from 4 to 7 pm.
"We will not have a snow storm or a day-long drenching downpour," she stated confidently (as you might infer, the tour has had rotten luck weather-wise the past few years).
Tickets are available on the borough historical commission's website,

CANINE PARTNERS: Honoring a departed benefactor

Nancy Biddle Kelly sent me a message after reading my item about Bernie Langer's memorial service at St. Michael Lutheran Church on Oct. 11. Thanks to her, I learned something new and very, very nice about him.
She writes,  "He was a wonderful man (and quite the "character" too) and we all miss him so much. I was sitting in the narthex during the service since we are training a service puppy for Canine Partners for Life. Bernie and Claudette support CPL too, and named a puppy after their son, and that puppy and his puppy handler were at the service too."
I noticed a service dog in the lobby, and of course I knew Bernie loved dogs, but I didn't put two and two together. How wonderful, and how in character!

PENNOCKS: A prominent family in colonial Pennsylvania

Mark Myers's lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 19, entitled "The Cutting Edge of the Frontier: The Pennocks of Primitive Hall," will be of interest to anyone who has even a passing interest in local history. The talk will be at Primitive Hall, the 18th-century ancestral home of the Pennock family, which is located on North Chatham Road (Route 841) between Routes 926 and 842.
Mark, a member of Primitive Hall's Board of Trustees, plans to explore the Pennock family's role in colonial Pennsylvania and will highlight local "buildings and landscapes that they would have known in their daily lives," he wrote.
The lecture is a fundraiser for the Hall and tickets are $35. Signup is required by Nov. 15; email for more information. The talk will start at 7, with a reception at 6.

PUMPKINS: The Great Pumpkin comes to Chadds Ford

An athletic family member of mine is vigilant about eating right, and high on his list of approved foods are pumpkin seeds. Knowing that I grew an excellent crop of pumpkins this summer, he asked if I could save him the seeds.
Sure, I said. But then I thought it through and realized that my kitchen would be full of slimy pumpkin goo, every cookie sheet in the house would be full of drying seeds, and I'd have dozens of rotting empty rinds to dispose of.
A friend and a neighbor came up with a brilliant solution: Take him the seeds in their original packaging.
So for the past three days I have been delivering pumpkins to his house while he's at work. The first day I put them around his mailbox.
The second day I lined his driveway.
The third and final day I had intended, in a grand gesture, to delineate the first letter of our surname in pumpkins on his turnaround -- but I noticed he'd lined all the vegetables up neatly next to his house, so I just added a dozen more to the crowd.
He texted me, saying that he now believes in the Great Pumpkin with all his heart.

KIDS' PROGRAM AT BVA: What's not to like about books and boots?

We writers are asked frequently, "How did you learn how to write?" For me that's an easy question: I learned how to write by reading ravenously as a kid. My mother took us to the library one night a week after dinner, and I checked out a stack of books every single time.
So I was taken by a press release that crossed my desk from the Brandywine Valley Association/Red Clay Valley Association. Along with Baldwin's Book Barn, they are sponsoring a monthly kids' program called "Books & Boots" that includes not only a story with a nature theme (read by Potter the Otter!) but also an outside adventure (that's the "boots" part).
It starts on Friday, Nov. 21, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., at the Myrick Conservation Center on Route 842 and continues through the spring. It's for kids ages three to five. Each program costs $6 for BVA members, $8 for nonmembers; signup is required by the Wednesday before each program. Contact information is or 610-793-1090.

PREDICTIONS: What will the winter bring?

The woman who does my hair has not been happy about the harrowing forecasts for this coming winter -- that it's going to be just as cold and snowy as last year. She co-owns the salon, and last winter's bad weather translated into chaotic weeks of power outages, canceled appointments, staffing problems and decreased profits.
So after hearing one of these disturbing predictions the other day, she went home and told her partner she was getting worried.
He is a general contractor and hence both a practical man and very conscious of the weather. He pointed out that no-one had predicted last winter's heavy snowfall. Or this year's mild summer. Or the lighter stinkbug invasion this autumn.
She had to admit that this was true, and thanked him for giving her a different perspective.

CHIMING IN: A case of operant conditioning

In last week's column I mentioned the suggestion that a Buddhist made at the recent religion forum sponsored by West Grove Friends Meeting: Install a "mindfulness chime" on your computer and cellphone that sounds at random to remind you to take a deep breath and a mini-break from your workday.
For fun, I installed it. And Gilbert and Binnie, my guinea pigs, have welcomed it enthusiastically as a signal that they deserve carrots: "Gongggg .... WEEEK! WEEEK! WEEEK!"
Of course, when they get the requested carrot, this just reinforces the pattern. Who is training whom?

IN THE BAG: The consequences of technology

A neighbor and friend recounts the following story:
"It all began one day when a friend and I decided to take a short trip. We were not that familiar with the roads but as we got closer, we recognized landmarks. We got out of the car and went into the town's library to run an errand.
We got back into the car and continued on down the now-familiar road towards our destination and all seemed to be going well - UNTIL I heard a woman's voice coming from the trunk of my car!
I looked at my friend at the precise moment that she looked at me wondering if I had said something. We quickly realized that neither one of us had said a word.
Then we heard that woman's voice talking loudly to us again! We listened to the words: "Turn left at the next intersection on route ___."
Well, that gave it away. When they were on familiar ground, they no longer needed the GPS. When they got out to go into the library's they'd stashed it in a bag in the trunk.
They stopped by a restaurant and "we laughed and laughed and laughed and talked about the woman in the trunk ... and a poor woman looked at us quite frightened! We were forced to explain."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

JON OLSON: A life well lived, and the life of any party

My friend Jon Olson died on October 26 at his Jenners' Pond home. Jon served on the Bayard Taylor Library Board with me and was in my experience that truly rare combination: an engineer with a droll sense of humor. (Sorry, engineers, but you know it's true.)
Jon would cheerfully volunteer for just about any duty, from parking cars at the library's annual home and garden tour, to presenting an impromptu investment report at a board meeting, to helping design a Philadelphia Flower Show display for the Spade & Trowel garden club (he'd create these detailed sketches with numbers and calculations). Whatever task he performed, he did it with the greatest style and zest.
A proud Princeton grad, he often volunteered to serve drinks at our library fundraisers, and the liquor was poured with a generous hand whenever he was behind the bar.
A few years ago two other library board members and I joined Jon and his wife, Nancy, for dinner at Sake Hana in Avondale. Jon was grinning broadly throughout, reveling in the fact that he was having dinner with four women and was the only man at a table.
Jon was amusing, intelligent, urbane and kind: a great guy and a wonderful raconteur. Any encounter with him was a memorable one -- especially the last time I saw him, shopping at the Country Butcher.
Godspeed, Jon. Much love to your family.

Monday, October 27, 2014

LYME DISEASE: A talk about Lyme & other tick-borne diseases

A friend who is a member of the Lyme Disease Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (a family member of hers has the disease, as do so many people around here) asked me to put the word out that Pat Smith, the president of the Lyme Disease Association Inc., will be speaking at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 12, at the Genesis building at State and Union Streets in Kennett Square. Admission is free and anyone can attend. The speaker is a longtime advocate and fundraiser for Lyme research, education and policy. Her talk is entitled "Lyme & Other Tick-Borne Diseases: A National Overview & the Role of LDA."

MARY MCKAY: A new dogwood grows in Unionville

My friend Ray McKay reports that on October 26 the members of the Lesserton Garden Club planted a pink Kousa dogwood tree at the Charles F. Patton Middle School in memory of his wife, Mary, who taught there for many years. He said that Mary, a member of the garden club, "had planted the first gardens near the main entrance to the school office and sponsored a garden club at the school. Her dedication to others and her community were recounted by many members of the garden club in attendance. It was nice to see so many good friends honoring Mary."
Mary Mackenzie Tharp, president of the garden club, was nice enough to share these photographs of the planting ceremony. "It is nice to see this beloved, but modest friend receive recognition from the Community!" she writes.

 Members of the Lesserton Garden Club and Mary's family standing next to the tree.

Right to left: Ray McKay; his son, Donald; and his son-in-law, Jeff.

The pink Kousa dogwood tree.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

BOY SCOUTS: Troop 24 hosted a great spaghetti dinner

On Saturday evening Boy Scout Troop 24 hosted a spaghetti dinner at Kennett Friends Meeting --  and if the quality of the food is any indication, those Scouts eat very, very well.
Dads filled our plates with spaghetti, delicious homemade marinara sauce (I'm told they started cooking it on Wednesday), meatballs, and sautĂ©ed Kennett Square mushrooms. There were also salads, rolls and homemade desserts.
When we sat down a polite Scout with the nametag "Barnacle Boy" (I suspect that was an alias) took our drink orders. He came back later to check if we needed anything else.
It was all-you-can-eat, but one plate of spaghetti was more than ample even with our hearty appetites. A terrific meal and for $8 a great bargain!
I was also happy to catch up with two mothers of Scouts who were there, Sally Warren and Carol Anne Ganly.
Parenthetically, I noticed that one of the folding chairs at our table had a faded red-and-white sticker on the back announcing that it was the property of Thompson Roses. Old-timers will remember that the Thompson greenhouses used to be on Thompson Road in New Garden Township.

IN THE LIGHT: An amazing sendoff for Marcus Macaluso

I've never seen such a diverse group of people within the walls of London Grove Friends Meeting as I did on Saturday afternoon at Marcus Macaluso's amazing, standing-room-only memorial service. What a profound testimony it was to the number of circles that Marcus traveled in and the number of people he influenced.
Each time somebody stood up and spoke about the impact Marcus had on him or her, the reporter in me would make a mental note and say, "Oh, that was beautiful. I have to mention that in my story." Then the next person would speak, and it would be just as articulate and moving. It was a remarkable afternoon that reflected a life well lived.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

RELIGION: Learning about different faiths in West Grove

The five-week series on "Faiths of Our Neighbors" at West Grove Friends Meeting ended with a panel discussion among a Sufi, a Jew, a Hindu and a Buddhist, each of whom had presented a lecture on his or her faith tradition in preceding weeks. I was struck by the way that the practitioners individualized their spiritual practices to create the most meaning for them: meditating alone or with others, or doing yoga, or praying to a favorite god at a shrine, or downloading a mindfulness chime to their smartphones.
The final discussion was a bit cerebral for me, but overall I enjoyed the Wednesday-night talks very much. I'm told they are thinking of doing another series in the spring.

WAWA: Please build one in Jennersville!

Over large mochas in front of the cozy fire at Foxy Loxy one rainy morning last week, a friend told me that she learned that everyone's favorite convenience store, Wawa, is expanding into the Florida market.
"Florida!" she said with disbelief. "They can build Wawas in Florida but not in Jennersville!"
As soon as she said that, I realized that it would be perfect to have a Wawa near the Jennersville Giant, the Y, the hospital, and the Jenners Pond retirement community. Nary a Wawa exists between Avondale and Nottingham!
I'm sure Wawa's corporate office has a whole team of doctoral-level analysts devoted to crunching statistics on new store placement, but I can guarantee them that I would be a frequent customer.

Friday, October 24, 2014

BREEDERS' CUP: Win, place or show for these local favorites

The famed Breeders' Cup turf race will be run at Santa Anita Park, California,on Saturday, Nov. 1, and the Nielsen ratings will be sky-high around here, given that two horses with deep local connections will be vying for the $3 million purse. Main Sequence, trained by Graham Motion at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland, was undefeated this year and has won seven of his 17 starts. Hardest Core, trained by Eddie Graham here in Unionville, was the upset winner of the Arlington Million ("Million" as in a $1 million purse) back in August, making him eligible for the Breeders' Cup. He is owned by Andrew Bentley, son of Greg and Caroline Bentley; his exercise rider is Jody Petty and his groom is Brianne Slater.

NEWLIN: Fallout continues from the new equestrian ordinance

A friend who sees many people from the Unionville equestrian community on a daily basis as part of her job asked me for details about the controversial ordinance regulating equine operations that the Newlin Township supervisors approved on Oct. 13. She said she's asked many of her clients about the specifics of the ordinance -- but they get so angry that she's given up on the idea. She knows I'm not a Newlin resident and don't own an equine business, so she figured it was safer to ask me.

WHITEWATER: Combat-injured vets visit the Grand Canyon

Henry "Hank" Detering of Cochranville, a former Octorara High School principal, is helping to organize a Colorado River rafting trip for 24 combat-wounded, ill, and injured, active-duty U.S. Marines. The 10-day adventure is set for the summer of 2015 and is being run by the Grand Canyon River Runners Association. Hank, a retired Marine, is looking for donations to support the program; the cost to sponsor one of these brave soldiers is $3,500. There is much more information on this program, including Hank's contact information, at the website

MEMORY: Y staffers have a good memory for names

Back in college my friend George felt a sudden need to improve his memory and, for a few weeks, every time you'd see him he'd be carrying his little brain-training book. One of the tricks, I recall, was to create a vivid narrative to associate people's names with their faces. You could see him trying to do this at parties -- he'd stare at people fixedly. I never noticed that it had much of an impact; maybe he didn't practice enough.
In contrast, whatever the front-desk people at the Y are doing to improve their memories, it's working. They greet me by name every time I walk in, even staffers I don't know and would swear I've never seen before. Very impressive! I don't think Google glasses or face-recognition software is in play, but maybe they have a stash of ginger tea in the break room.

RIVER MUSEUM: A non-Wyeth landscape painter on display

The newest show at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, "Exalted Nature: The Real and Fantastic World of Charles E. Burchfield" was reviewed in the Oct. 7 "Leisure and Arts" page of the Wall Street Journal. The reviewer, Lance Esplund, writes, "On the museum's second and third floors, where foliage and tree limbs nearly press against the glass, one has the feeling of being suspended within the upper reaches of a forest." He finds this "a fitting perch" for the "charming" collection of watercolors and drawings. The show sounds mysterious, compelling and well worth a visit before it closes on Nov. 16.

MEETING ROOMS: Meetings rescheduled to accommodate the election

Municipal meetings are askew for the first week in November to accommodate the Nov. 4 General Election (perhaps you've heard some talk about it). In West Marlborough the monthly township meetings will start at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 3, instead of Tuesday. In East Marlborough the supervisors will meet for their regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5 (and as a bonus, according to the township's website, "immediately preceding the meeting, the Supervisors will hold a public hearing to take comments regarding the Zoning Ordinance Amendments under consideration").

Sunday, October 19, 2014

FAREWELL: Service for Marcus Macaluso

Just a reminder that the memorial service for Marcus Macaluso will be at London Grove Friends Meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25. Marcus died on Oct. 3. I'm told a large crowd is expected because he had so many friends and loved ones in the community.

LONDON GROVE: Faith, practice, tradition and a chicken dinner

London Grove Friends Meeting's 300th birthday party on Saturday was a highlight of the season for me. The chicken dinner by Hood's BBQ was delicious, as were the home-made pies for dessert. The slide show of weddings under the Penn Oak, roast beef suppers and Christmas pageants from years gone by was wonderful. I missed my neighbor Charlie Brosius's burial ground tour but I heard it was fascinating.
My favorite part of the celebration by far was the fellowship. It was so great to see so many friends (or should that be "Friends"?): Barb Pusey, Elinor Thomforde, Betsy Walker, Peg Jones, Anna Myers, Margaret Walton, the Mooberrys, Pat Horrocks, the Newbolds, Dawn Thompson, the Brosiuses, Edyie Joines and Ron Fenstermacher, Ellen Marsden, Karen Halstead, Georgia Delaney, Kelli Trice, Rebecca Mitchell, Eddie Paschall, Ruth Thompson and Leona Provinski, Cintra Murray, Grace Pfeifer, Cathy Quillman, Jill Benjamin and John Hodges, Lou Mandich, the Ciganeks . . . As my date said in amazement, "Every five seconds people were coming up to us!"
I could go on and on -- but I'll stop and just say thank you so much to Sandy Reber and everyone else who worked so hard to pull off this event.

DOWNWIND: Sending best wishes to Caryl Huffaker!

Best wishes to my friend and fellow columnist Caryl Huffaker. Caryl has been writing her "Downwind" column for as long as I've been reading "The Kennett Paper," and that's been more than 25 years. In last week's column she reported that she was at Chester County Hospital with two infections, and was being kept in isolation -- what a dreadful fate for such a gregarious soul!

THE LAURELS: The covered bridges are open again

What a beautiful autumn day it was for the reopening of the covered bridges in the Laurels, the Brandywine Conservancy's nature preserve off Route 82 near Doe Run. The bridges, used by many hikers and equestrians, had been shut for months so that critical structural repairs could be made.
Speaking at Saturday afternoon's ceremony at the Mary Ann Pyle Bridge over the Buck Run were Virginia Logan and "Frolic" Weymouth from the Conservancy, Amy McKenna of the Buck & Doe Trust, and D. D. Matz, representing the Robert J. Kleberg Jr. & Helen C. Kleberg Foundation (the Klebergs owned the King Ranch).They all thanked the donors who contributed to the project.
Among the "country casual" Unionville crowd I was happy to see the McClungs (human and canine), Janet and Tom Kenny, Georgie and Walter Stapleton, Richard Buchanan, Beth Harpham, Pat Branum, Nancy and John Mohr and their daughter Margot, Ed and Susan Brown, Liz and Jack Bailey, and Charlotte and Frank Reilly.
The event organizers had us enter the Laurels via the Fairview Road gate rather than the usual Apple Grove Road entrance. I'd never driven into the preserve that way before, and the views were stunning.
Mary Ann Pyle was an ancestor of one of my neighbors (he has a picture of her in his living room), and he told me the workers named the bridge in her honor because she kept them well supplied with beverages. Her hospitality continued at Saturday's event with the amazing vegetables, olives, cheeses, dips and other appetizers provided by the caterer, Jamie Minnick, who is based at the New Bolton Center ( More than one guest told me the food was the best they'd ever seen at such an event and urged me to head straight for the food table -- and these were buffet-hardened cocktail-party veterans! Needless to say, I did -- and in penance refused the golf-cart ride back to the parking area.

ST. MICHAEL: Bernie would have loved this service

I'm sure you've all sat through dull speeches at memorial services that offer little but bland, generic platitudes.
That was totally not the case at the unforgettable service for the late Bernie Langer on Saturday morning at St. Michael Lutheran Church. (Bernie, who lived in Springdell, West Marlborough Township, died Sept. 24 at age 78.) The Rev. Frederick DeRasmo Jr. donned a blue hard hat while speaking, a nod to Bernie's extremely active role on the church's building committee. "Pastor Rick" had us alternately laughing and reaching for our tissues as he recounted just a few of his experiences, good and bad, over the past two decades with Bernie, who was, in his words, "a character."
Andrea Loveland, who worked for Bernie and his wife, recalled accompanying Bernie and his beloved dog, Alfie, to the Jack Russell races recently; the dogs, she remembered, were not the only ones barking at her. And Gordon Rowe, who brought his adorable newborn daughter to the service, spoke fondly of the life-changing times he spent in idyllic "Langerland" along the banks of the Doe Run.
The music -- traditional hymns and Bach -- was beautiful and entirely appropriate to Bernie's tastes.
The standing-room-only service was a perfect sendoff for a man who will be missed by so many people.

PINK FLOYD: Everything under the sun is in tune

A Baby Boomer-age friend reported that earlier in the day she had been listening to Pink Floyd's 1973 classic album "Dark Side of the Moon" -- but for some reason she was feeling discombobulated rather than soothed; her head was "filled with dark forebodings." Eventually she realized why: her device was playing it in "shuffle" mode rather than straight through, the way it should be played and the way she was used to hearing it -- like all of us who grew up in the 1970s. After dozens of listenings, you sensed without thinking when the screaming lady was going to start screaming, and you knew to turn down the volume before the alarm bells blasted out your headphones.
"Dark Side of the Moon" was a soundtrack to our adolescent years, the backdrop to many enjoyable moments, and it just doesn't sound the same broken up into individual tracks. Then again, it was still great listening, even when the car's eight-track tape player would click over to the next track in the middle of a song.

Friday, October 17, 2014

SMALL WORLD: Where everybody knows your name -- or something

I often refer to living on "the island of Unionville," which means that the odds are really good you're going to know almost everyone you run into at Hood's, the post office or the food store. In fact, it feels odd and disorienting if you don't.
So the other day a non-Unionville friend was telling me about an instructor at the Jennersville Y who teaches a very good (read: tough and no-nonsense) class. She mentioned her first name, and I asked, "Oh. Do I know her?"
She gave me a strange look and said, "How on earth would I know?"
Now, if she were a Unionville resident, she would have said, "Yes, of course" and would have elaborated by telling me something about her family, her hobbies, her friends, where she lived, or her personal life. That would have provided enough of a clue for sure, something along the lines of "Oh, right, YES! She was the woman at the Hunt Cup that really cold year who wore that hat with a stuffed opossum on it!" or "She lives next door to the farm that used to have that hobbit-hole mailbox, until it kept getting smashed."
I had further proof of this just yesterday, when a woman recognized me at a church service. I had been a Christmas tour hostess at her home a few years back and she remembered me because I had graduated from the same central Pennsylvania college her son was just entering. Talk about a good memory!

SMALL TOWN: Tilda gets some much appreciated fan mail

A Chadds Ford reader sent me a wonderful email this morning that brought tears to my eyes. I quote:
"You show some of the small-town qualities of our area for which I am deeply indebted (growing up in a small town, then living in Chadds Ford with my husband for the last 28 years).  Thank you for the warm feelings."
You are very welcome. I am so lucky to have such kind readers!

UNIONVILLE: What, never? No, never too cold for ice cream!

I was in the mood for some ice cream after running errands one recent afternoon and stopped by Foxy Loxy in Unionville. The server was scooping up my bowl of chocolate almond when another customer, a stranger, asked me, "Isn't it too cold to eat ice cream?"
Never. NEVER!
In the parking lot I noticed that her car had a Philadelphia Parking Authority sticker on it; perhaps they think differently "in town" these days.
As one friend commented, "Poor soul; it's never too ANYTHING for ice cream!"

PERKINS: There are still good people out there

On Oct. 15, we had dinner at Perkins in Avondale (fried seafood for my date, open-faced turkey sandwich for me), and on our way out we stopped by a neighboring table to make a fuss over an adorable infant, who was sitting in her high chair happily eating macaroni-and-cheese.
Just then the manager came up and told the parents, a nice young couple, that another customer had picked up their check for them. The mom, stunned, asked who it was, and the manager told her he was sworn to secrecy.
Good stuff!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NEWLIN: Controversial new ordinance passed to regulate horse farms

Over the vehement objections of the equestrian community, the Newlin Township supervisors on Oct. 13 passed an ordinance that will regulate equine operations and boarding facilities.
As they have at meetings in August and September, residents turned out in force to object to the proposal, telling the board that the rules would jeopardize their livelihoods and would put at risk the township's rural character and lifestyle by placing undue hardships on horse farm owners. They asked the board to postpone its vote until the more contentious provisions are resolved.
The new ordinance allows the boarding of horses as long as the farm in question meets certain requirements. If the farm falls short, however, the owners, if they want to operate legally, will have to apply for a special exception from the township's Zoning Hearing Board. The township charges $1,500 to hold such a hearing.
After hearing the residents' comments, the supervisors explained why they support the new ordinance. The board chair, Janie Baird, explained that the rules were based on other townships' regulations (some were rejected as too restrictive) and had been approved by the township and county planning commissions. She said she has two horses and a pony herself and made extensive efforts to reach out to members of the horse community to discuss the ordinance. She also said that the current zoning on the books was stricter, requiring all boarding operations to obtain a special exception from the zoning board, although the rules had never been enforced.
Supervisor Bill Kelsall said the new rules "are not about shutting anybody down. It's about getting people legal."
Supervisor Rob Pearson mentioned the risks of not having sufficient township rules in place, recalling that a landfill was built in the township back in 1980 before zoning was enacted. He said that the supervisors must represent the whole township and speculated that the majority of the township residents were at home watching "Monday Night Football" rather than speaking up at the meeting.
The board then voted unanimously to approve the new rules, and Mrs. Baird said to the audience, "We love you all."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

COATESVILLE: Goodbye to a great police source and a good guy

It was an unhappy surprise to see an obituary for Bill Zielinski, a longtime employee of the Coatesville Police Department. I hadn't seen Bill in years, but when I was a police reporter I saw him every Tuesday morning while making my police station rounds.
Bill was one of my absolute favorites. If there had been a particularly weird incident that week (and there were plenty in the Ville), he'd have the case folder ready and he'd present it to me eagerly, like a waiter offering up a toothsome soufflĂ©. He was fond of sharing crime-scene photos (as a reporter you can't really protest, "too much information!") and once tested out the department's new mugshot software with me as the model. He was a history buff and enjoyed reading the genre of fiction where the author takes a real incident and morphs one part of it (for instance, what if the South had won the Civil War?).
As hardened as he was, he turned into a softie when talking about his daughter. Those were photos I actually enjoyed seeing.
My condolences to his family. I enjoyed working with you, Bill, and thanks.

ADAMSTOWN: Trying to recreate Bavaria in Lancaster County

On Saturday morning we headed north to Adamstown, Lancaster County. We'd been eager to check out a high-concept development there that a friend had told us about: it was supposed to be a recreation of a old Bavarian village, with shops on the first floor and living spaces on the second and third.
The concept, unfortunately, hadn't translated into reality. Although people clearly lived there -- there were Halloween decorations, planters and outdoor BBQs -- maybe two shops and a beer hall-style bar were open; the rest had "closed" signs or "for sale" signs. Only one shop actually had a display in the window so you could see what was being sold (Asian-style antiques). The cupcake shop and the candy shop were shuttered. Even the sales office, Heidelberg Custom Builders, was closed (the sign read "New homes integrating European inspired designs. Quaint shoppes. Olde World charm").
The streets are paved with cobblestones, and there's a big arch and a clock tower. The only sounds were a fountain in the plaza and oom-pah music being played over a speaker.
I especially liked the sign on one shop door: "Closing early to release 7 monarch butterflies for their migration to Mexico."
It was a pleasant drive up and back; we got to see lots of little Lancaster County towns like Terre Hill, Bowmansville, Goodville, and Churchtown.

NEWARK: Spencer & Rains give an old-time music concert

Friday evening we headed down to Newark to hear a concert by Tricia Spencer and Howard Rains as part of the Brandywine Friends of Old-Time Music series. They played fiddle, guitar and banjo and drew a crowd of knowledgeable fans who were avid to hear about the origins of the songs and how the two learned them. The two spent a lot of time tuning their instruments between songs. Howard joked that he really didn't need to use his electronic tuner, all he needed to do was look at whether Tricia, his wife, was smiling or wincing. Tricia and Howard, who live in Kansas, were spending the weekend in Oxford, giving a Texas Tune music workshop.
The concert was held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church, and there's a inspirational phrase written on the wall in big letters (the runic kind you'd see on a "Lord of the Rings" calendar). The last part is something about enacting change in the world and thus being changed ourselves. A light pole was in front of the final "changed" and depending on which way I leaned, the word could have been "changed," "charged," "charted" or "chanted." I kind of liked the latter.

AVONDALE: Getting ready for a big party for his daughter

I was picking up subs for supper on Friday at the Avondale Wawa and parked next to a pickup truck. The truck's door was ajar and the driver was standing by the bed of the truck, fixing something. I looked over and noticed that the entire passenger seat was taken up by an enormous centerpiece, wrapped in plastic with a light-blue ribbon.
"Wow!" I exclaimed. "Look at that!"
The man smiled and opened the back door of the truck for me, revealing another oversized centerpiece, this one a brunette doll in a very full white lace dress.
"Party for my daughter tomorrow," he explained proudly.
It  was his daughter's Quinceanara, the traditional Hispanic coming-of-age celebration for girls. In addition to the decorations, he had also been picking up the food and had a stack of large, foil-covered catering trays in the bed of the truck-- that's what he was securing with a bungee cord.
I wished him the best of luck for the party and I hope they had a great time, even though it turned out to be a rainy Saturday.

Friday, October 10, 2014

CURRIE: Raffle winner raises the bar for good grooming at the gym

A gym friend joked that she has friends coming out of the woodwork ever since they found out she won as a raffle prize an entire year's worth of massages, facials, manicures and pedicures from the Currie salon. Proceeds from the raffle went to help a salon employee who is going through some difficult times.

LONDON GROVE: A Friendly birthday party at London Grove Meeting

London Grove Friends Meeting has been celebrating its 300th birthday all year, but the "official" party will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18 at the meetinghouse. On the schedule are history talks, tours of the burial ground, and treasure hunts "highlighting historic Quaker artifacts." For the kids there will be a time capsule, games and art projects. There is more information on the website

BAD BEHAVIOR: A clear and present danger on the road

On Thursday night I was driving home from dinner at La Pena Mexicana (delicious shrimp tacos) when I noticed a car tailgating me on Newark Road. For the next few miles the driver sat on my bumper, all the way to my house. I was tempted to stop on my narrow road, walk back and confront him or her, but I thought better of it (the thought of the scolding I'd get from my mother dissuaded me).
Via social media I found out that the same vehicle had been speeding and tailgating on Route 926 and had passed in a no-passing zone on Newark Road.
A friend of mine told me about a program that Wyoming has that's called REDDI ("Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately"). I wish we had a program like that here. I would've called as soon as I pulled into my driveway.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Lots of township business, and a moment of silence

The West Marlborough Township supervisors got through quite a lot of business in their Oct. 7 meeting, but the most memorable part was the moment of silence in memory of Bernie Langer, who died Sept. 24. Fittingly, Chairman Bill Wylie called for the tribute during the public comment portion of the meeting, when Bernie would more often than not express his opinions. The uncharacteristic silence, and his empty chair in the second row, were poignant reminders of a spirited man who cared deeply about his community.
In his monthly report, zoning officer Al Giannantonio told the board that Ron Towber applied for a permit to build a two-car garage on his property in Springdell, but he needs to get a survey done to make sure he has adequate setback.
Building inspector Eddie Caudill reported that he issued certificates of occupancy for London Grove Friends Meeting for a shed and the Irelands for their renovated Springdell Road house. He also issued a building permit to the Sacks family on Richard Wilson Drive for HVAC work.
Mr. Giannantonio reported that he attended a workshop in Wagontown about the new state stormwater management regulations that municipalities were required to enact. He said the rules the West Marlborough planning commission crafted were the least onerous ones possible -- which was the township's goal. "By law, we couldn't have done less," he said. "There's no way we could be less restrictive."
Township resident Anna Myers alerted the board to a pothole on Newark Road, north of the intersection with Route 926. She was told to call the hotline for District 6 of the state Department of Transportation: 484-340-3200.
In a work session before the meeting, Mr. Wylie met with Mr. Caudill and Mr. Giannantonio to review the township's schedule of fees for obtaining permits. They concluded that many of the requirements could be eliminated, and they will work on preparing a revised list.
Also on Oct. 7 the township planning commission and Mr. Wylie met with township engineer Harry Roth to discuss making changes to the township's zoning ordinance so that it is compatible with the regional zoning ordinance approved in May by West Marlborough, East Marlborough, and Newlin Townships. Mr. Roth recommended redoing the ordinance from scratch rather than just plugging in those changes. He suggested incorporating recent changes in state law that govern floodplain use, cellphone towers, riparian buffers (stream banks) and timber harvesting. Any such ordinance changes would have to be presented at a public hearing.
Finally, the supervisors noted that the November municipal meetings will be held on Monday, Nov. 3, because the first Tuesday in November (the usual meeting date) is Election Day, and the township building will be used as the polling place.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Update on the overgrown house on Street Road

The mortgage company that owns an abandoned, overgrown house at the corner of Sportsman's Lane and Route 926 will be getting a letter from the West Marlborough Township supervisors pointing out that the property violates the township's grounds maintenance standards.
A neighbor reported the situation to the supervisors in September, saying that pokeweed and poison ivy are invading her yard, and at the October meeting she returned to ask the supervisors if any action had been taken. Zoning officer Al Giannantonio told her that he had visited the house, called the mortgage company and tracked down the property management company responsible for doing the maintenance. He said he'll inform the owner that fines could be imposed if the property is not cleaned up.

Monday, October 6, 2014

UPDATE: Service scheduled for the late Bernie Langer

In last week's column I wrote about the death of Bernie Langer, who lived in the village of Springdell here in West Marlborough Township. I just received word that his service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at St. Michael Lutheran Church in Unionville. Bernie was very interested in township matters, and there's going to be a noticeably empty chair at this week's municipal meeting.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

STATION 36: Firefighters show how they rescue car crash victims

Something new at the Unionville Community Fair this year was a demonstration by the Po-Mar-Lin firefighters of how they rescue people trapped in cars. It was fascinating to watch (given that there wasn't an injured victim inside, of course). First they secured the car in place, then they cut out the windshield, removed the doors and finally sawed off the top. The men and women worked with the efficiency of a well-trained pit crew. We're lucky to have these volunteers (Po-Mar-Lin is still an all-volunteer force) on our side when they're needed.

UNIONVILLE: Gratitude for the life of Marcus Macaluso

What an outpouring of both grief and gratitude there has been for Marcus Macaluso, who died on Oct. 3. During the week that he was in the hospital, his friends gathered at 7 p.m. each night under the Penn Oak at London Grove Friends Meeting to pray for him. Tributes on social media have mentioned what a kind and loving man he was and how he served as an inspiration to a great variety of people scattered far and wide. So many folks have shared how Marcus's example helped them to turn their lives around and put them on a healthier path toward recovery.
He will be greatly missed, and the community's thoughts are with his parents and his loved ones. May they find comfort in knowing what a hugely positive impact he had on so many people in his too-short life. As one mutual friend wrote on Facebook, "Don't know where I would be without your infinite kindness and wisdom. Will miss you dearly. Until another time & place, my friend."
Marcus' memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 25, at London Grove Friends Meeting House. Memorial contributions may be made to Kacie's Cause, 232 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348 (a nonprofit that raises awareness of heroin addiction) and Kennett Area Community Service, P.O. Box 1025, Kennett Square, PA 19348. Or simply do an act of kindness in his memory.

Friday, October 3, 2014

NEW LONDON: A variety show with words, music and dancing

Last Saturday evening we headed to the New London United Methodist Church's "open mic" coffeehouse, held at the church at 1010 State Road, west of Route 896. The old-fashioned wooden-floored hall, with a raised stage at one end, was a charming venue. Mercedes Case, the pastor, told us it was formerly a Grange Hall and an Odd Fellows Hall, with the church on the second floor (until a fire destroyed the second floor).
I had no clue what to expect from the performers, but it turned out to be an entertaining evening. The headliner was a pop trio comprising a guitarist, a bass player and a drummer. There was audience participation in three of their songs: for one we were all issued percussion instruments; in another we joined in on the chorus; and in "Lean on Me" six of us were called up to form a chorus line. (I percussed, sang and boogied with the greatest enthusiasm. Just ask my long-suffering date.)
After the band, the next performers were a poet named Rosemary who formerly sold ads for the Daily Local News; a guitarist who sang a few lively Appalachian ditties; a fiddler who alternated playing and singing verses of a hymn; and a trouper of a woman who sang the classic "Unforgettable."
I give them all credit for getting up there on stage! And wouldn't you know, I ran into the poet outside the Jennersville Starbucks a few days later.
The next coffeehouse is Saturday, Oct. 25, starting at 7 p.m. Admission is a bargain: only $5. There are baked goods and drinks for sale.

KENNETT PAPER: The ancestors of "Unionville in the News"

Yesterday in the Kennett Y locker room I ran into my friend Joan W., who worked for The Kennett Paper way back in its infancy, some 25 years ago. We started reminiscing about previous Kennett Paper columnists from way back in the day, like F. M. Mooberry, who did a gardening column that was the equivalent of a master class in horticulture; the late John "Jack" Horty, who wrote a charming local-history column; and of course the late Teddy Browning, whose beautifully written "Notes from Turtle Creek" remains an inspiration.

UNIONVILLE FAIR: Getting my priorities straight at the preview party

Not only is the Denim & Diamonds party a fun way to kick off the Unionville Community Fair, it's also utterly irresistible to hyper-competitive sorts like me who need to know as early as humanly possible how our entries fared.
Normally at a party I'm a pretty standard guest: I look around, see who's there and where the food is, and start socializing.
Not at Denim & Diamonds. Oh, no. I check in and then make a beeline for whatever entry I'm most excited about (this year, it was the Adult Vegetables table). The result was most gratifying: a blue ribbon tied to the stem of my pumpkin!
Having slaked my curiosity, it was time to see how my friends had done. I had volunteered to text two equally chomping-at-the-bit friends who weren't at the preview party. I wandered over to the eggs section, where I was delighted to find that a friend's blue eggs took a Best of Show ribbon! I took a photo and posted it on Facebook.
Then I returned to the Adult Vegetables competition; a gym friend had asked me to see how his entries had done. Turns out he is one of the most skilled gardeners around-- I have seen his name on Fair entries for years but never made the connection. As usual, at this year's Fair he won at least a dozen blue ribbons for his wonderful vegetable specimens. I texted him about his success; it was a lengthy message.
Duty out of the way, I got a glass of Chadds Ford white wine and put on my sociable hat, yacking with all of the great "Fair friends" I've made over the years, including Karen D'Agusto, Karen Statz, Debra Swayne, Dave Salomaki, Sharon Parker, Berta Rains, Barbara Rechenberg (mother of this year's Fair Queen, Carly Rechenberg), East Marlborough Township Supervisor John Sarro, Fair past president Jayne Shea and this year's president, Danielle Chamberlain. Jaclyn McCabe was the preview party coordinator.
I bid on a few silent auction items -- a Foxy Loxy gift card and a batik gym bag -- but was quickly outbid. The highlight of the live auction was Embreeville resident Robin Mastripolito's mouth-watering gourmet cupcakes, which sold for $80 a dozen!
Triple Fresh of Ercildoun did the catering and made pulled-pork and roast beef sliders, cooked-to-order pasta and a very nice salad.

SUPERMARKET: Sometimes going to the store is full of stories

Most days a trip to the grocery store is pretty routine: checking off the standard items on the list, using coupons, saying hi to a few people, deciding on what kind of ice cream to buy this week. But not today.
First off, in the produce aisle they were selling small plastic cartons of end-of-season blueberries for $7.99. Worse, all the boxes had bruised fruit on the bottom. The shopper next to me watched me turn over ever box looking for a passable one.
"Just shows you how long they've been sitting there, at that price," she astutely observed.
Then there was a woman wearing a surgical mask over her face who bought the newspaper -- either she'd been reading all the stories about the Ebola virus or she was especially sensitive to germs, poor thing.
A group of friends was chatting in the lobby. I heard only one line: "He don't dance, he don't drink, he don't party no more." Judging from the woman's tone of voice, this was not an improvement.
In the parking lot I saw a kind employee loading a woman's groceries in her car trunk as she approached slowly, pushing her walker.
And finally I saw a sweet little kid wearing a fancy princess dress sitting in the shopping cart as her mother unloaded groceries. I complimented her lovely dress and sparkly shoes.
"Who was dat?" she asked her mother as I walked away.
"That," said her mother, "was a very nice lady."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

TYPOS: Autocorrect goes to the dark side

This week's autocorrect FAIL: I was texting a friend, telling her about my entries at the Unionville Community Fair. I typed "zinnias and gomphrena" and it came out "zombies and Gomorrah." That would certainly take the Fair to a whole different level, wouldn't it!
And in another example of the strange new electronic world we live in, I just used a $100 rebate card that I received from a Verizon tablet purchase to buy a $100 parking pass to the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. That worked out well.

FAITH: Maury Hoberman explains Judaism

Maury Hoberman, president of the Kesher Israel synagogue in West Chester, gave this past week's "Faiths of our Neighbors" lecture at West Grove Friends Meeting on Oct. 1. An engaging and amusing speaker, he discussed Jewish history (very briefly), denominations (which vary widely in their interpretation of Biblical laws), religious practices and rituals (which again differ according to how observant the person is), and current trends in the faith. He believes it's important for rabbis to pursue continuing education and for congregations to keep and attract members by emphasizing the present-day relevance of their teachings.
He said that Jews are supposed to pray three times a day, mindfully and with clear intention. I didn't realize that Saturday-morning services last for three hours!
Dr. Hoberman used the interesting analogy of a human body to describe interfaith dialogue: different religions may be different body organs, but they're all necessary and they all have to work together to make up the whole. He also said that both vertical and horizontal connections are important ways of expressing faith: vertical connections with God and horizontal ones with our fellow humans.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

GED: Going back to the basics

A woman I know is studying for her GED (more power to her!). She was telling me she's having trouble memorizing the multiplication tables, because for decades she has just used a calculator to do any math she needed to do. And next on her semester's syllabus is algebra and trigonometry. I wonder how much of my high-school math I remember?
And speaking of getting stuck in a behavioral rut, I found myself annoyed that I had to park at the far end of the jammed parking lot at the Jennersville Y the other day. Fortunately I quickly realized how foolish this was: After all, the whole purpose of going to the gym is, in fact, to get some exercise.