Friday, July 31, 2015

AROUND TOWN: Superfresh sale, Newark Road repaving, crash on 842

Random sights around town:
1. The Superfresh in the Longwood shopping center has a giant banner saying "Closing." That was quick! The store is being shuttered as part of the bankruptcy filing of its parent company, A&P. No word on who the new tenant will be. When I stopped in on Sunday evening, there were very few patrons and the shelves were still pretty well stocked. Discounts varied but were mostly 10% off.

Discounts are offered throughout the store.

Goodbye to the Superfresh supermarket.


2. Part of Newark Road between the Route 1 bypass and Route 926 are being repaved, including the infamous "S-curve" near Archie's in West Marlborough. The roadway is temporarily lacking its center and edge lines, but there are raised yellow reflectors indicating where the center stripes should be. I'm assuming they are temporary.
3. A tractor-trailer demolished a utility pole along Route 842 east of Byrd Road in East Marlborough on Thursday afternoon. No one was hurt, but nearby residents lost power. Crews were on the scene that evening to install a new pole. That area is quite marshy, and it will take a while for the muddy ruts to fill in.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

BOBROWNICKI: Catching up with Dawn and her family

On Friday I had the immense pleasure of catching up with my old Kennett YMCA friend Dawn Bobrownicki. She was great fun at the gym: she had a distinct personality and worked hard in our step aerobics class but was always ready with a mock-gripe about lunges.
When they weren't on some exotic trip or another, Dawn and her family used to live in the Baneswood development in Kennett Township. Her husband owned Raymond Dodge on Concord Pike (she called it "the Dodge store," which always cracked me up). They now live in South Carolina.
Dawn told me that her son Ray, who was a high-jump star at the Westtown School a dozen years ago, went on to compete for Brown University's track and field team. After graduating, he moved to Australia, where he fell in love with a woman from Northern Ireland. They got married and moved to Scotland, and he became a British citizen. She said he is just finishing up his doctoral degree in sports psychology at the University of Edinburgh.
Even at age 30, Ray is still able to clear a 2-meters high jump and is competing internationally.
Dawn said she blames me for Ray's settling down in the UK: apparently when he was a boy, I told him about how great the music was over there and even gave him a CD of favorite tunes from my college days in England.

MARYLAND: An afternoon down in Ceciltucky

On Sunday afternoon we headed south of the Mason-Dixon Line to the annual Cecil County Fair and had a great time. We listened to bluegrass music and marveled at huge farm equipment. We checked out the prize cows, sheep, goats, poultry, and rabbits in the livestock barns and the prize flowers, vegetables, crafts, artwork, canned goods, and baked items in the 4-H barn.
We skipped the midway, the demolition derby and the Deep Fried Oreo vendor; we tried the greasy battered cookies at last year's fair and immediately concluded that once in a lifetime is enough. Instead we ate tasty BBQ sandwiches and ice cream.
The highlight of the trip for me was the Diesel Truck Pull, in which specially fortified pickup trucks try to pull a giant weighted sled across the dirt arena. It was noisy and involved a lot of black smoke. There contest seemed to be a rivalry between Dodge enthusiasts and Ford fans; as my companion noted, "I'm not seeing a lot of Isuzus."
The two guys next to us in the bleachers spent a good 45 minutes talking about nothing but their own trucks, with a brief conversational tangent about their fathers' trucks.
The fair attracts a truly diverse group of people, from all ages and ethnic backgrounds. This year's fashion statement seemed to be the "Ceciltucky" T-shirt we saw on a number of fairgoers. My curious companion (a reporter in a previous life, or am I rubbing off on him?) actually went up to the T-shirt vendor and asked what the term meant. He explained that it was meant to indicate rural pride.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

LIBRARY: An outspoken board member departs

Geoff Birkett has resigned as vice president of the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library board, as the exodus of trustees from the embattled board continues.
Mr. Birkett, of Kennett Township, was the board member who memorably said it was obvious that the public liked the library's controversial name change because, after all, patrons were still using the library (earlier this year the board abruptly changed its historical name to the Kennett Public Library). He voted to ask the library's architect to rebid on the new library project (but was outvoted). He also chided the supporting townships for delving onto the library's finances, saying they just needed to trust the library board.
Mr. Birkett also drew the ire of Kennett Township supervisor Scudder Stevens, who wrote in a recent laundry list of the board's shortcomings that "It is interesting that the Vice President of that board is in the process of moving out of the area, but has failed to tell any of his fellow board members of his plans."

Sunday, July 26, 2015

HEAVENS: A blue moon on Friday, July 31

Don't forget that this Friday, July 31, we will have a Blue Moon, the second full moon of the month. They occur every 2.5 years on average (accounting for the phrase "once in a blue moon"), according to "The Old Farmer's Almanac." And you've probably noticed how the days are getting shorter: on July 1 the sun rose at 5:10 a.m. and set at 8:24 p.m. The corresponding figures for July 31 are 5:35 a.m. and 8:05 p.m.

LONGWOOD: An evening full of music and light

This year's musical by the Brandywiners, "Fiddler on the Roof," was lots of fun. As the lead character, the dairyman Tevye, Bill Fellner was a very likable presence (he played the same role in the Brandywiners' previous production of "Fiddler" back in 1977). It was great to hear songs like "Tradition," "If I Were a Rich Man" and "Sunrise, Sunset." I didn't realize that the charming "Do You Love Me?" was from the musical.
Aside from the songs, my favorite part of the play was the huge puppet of the butcher's deceased first wife. Think Marge Simpson in a bad mood. She appeared to Tevye in a nightmare and made it very clear that she did NOT want Tevye's oldest daughter to become the new Mrs. Wolf. (At least, that's Tevye's story and he's sticking to it.)
Thank you to my generous neighbors for sending tickets our way for the second summer in a row (speaking of "Tradition").
The play was held in the Open Air Theater at Longwood Gardens, and during intermission we walked through part of the new Nightscape exhibit. Frankly I thought it was going to be like those hokey rock-and-roll laser light shows we went to back in the 1970s, but I was so wrong: this was utterly spectacular. The creators use the Longwood landscape as a 3D canvas, projecting colorful moving light patterns across the trees. As we walked down one pathway, it was as if we were being encircled by light and were heading through some kind of a mysterious portal. It was like the best of psychedelia, science fiction and technology combined.
We made it as far as the big lake but had to hurry back to see the second half of the show. We will definitely return because there is quite a lot we didn't get to see.
In addition to all the other attractions, Longwood is always great for people-watching. As we were waiting for the play to start, two sweet older ladies walked down the aisle to their seats, and when they reached their row, one turned to the other and said with surprise, "They're waiting for us!"
And one man a few rows in front of us found his seat, only to realize that it was #13. Apparently a superstitious fellow, he made a dramatic show of refusing to sit down. Fortunately his companion had no problem with it.

QUAKERS: A chance to visit historic meetinghouses

Meeting for Worship at the Old Kennett Meetinghouse on Route 1 was lovely this morning. Old Kennett, built in 1710, is one of the historic Quaker meetinghouses in our area that opens its normally closed doors on certain First Days in the summer. I enjoy going to see the architecture, to soak up the ambiance and to imagine the generations of people who have sat there before me (I noticed "1812" carved on the wooden bench in front of me).
There were probably 40 people there this morning (including newlyweds Lars and Linda Farmer, who were married at the meetinghouse a few weeks ago). It seems that normally the summer meetings there are held at 11, but this time it started at 9 as an experiment to see if the traffic noise from Route 1 would be reduced. It was still pretty noisy during silent worship, but as one member told me, "I just block it out." 
Old Kennett will be open again for worship at 9 a.m. Aug. 30.
Homeville Meetinghouse, 4904 Homeville Road, Cochranville, will be open for worship at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30. 
London Britain Meetinghouse, 1415 New London Road, Landenberg, will be open for worship each Sunday through Sept. 6 at 10:30 am.
Parkersville Meetinghouse, 1232 Parkersville Road, Kennett Square, will be open for worship at 2 p.m. Sunday Sept. 13.
Colora Meetinghouse on Colora Road in Colora, Maryland, will be open for worship at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20.


Friday, July 24, 2015

OVERSEAS: Kindergarten teacher and her son travel to China

Bob Connolly was kind enough to write and tell me that his wife, Joanne Connolly (a teacher at the Mary D. Lang Kindergarten Center) is in China for three weeks teaching English. This summer she took along their son, Kennett High School senior Sean Connolly, as her teacher's assistant.
The travelers are keeping a blog about their travels and adventures at
I especially enjoyed reading one entry from Joanne:
"I have to say that I am proud of Sean.  He's tried every single food that has been placed in front of him no matter how disgusting it looked.....and with chopsticks! He is a hungry boy so his fine motor skills have improved significantly over the past couple of days."
Replied Bob: "Meanwhile. . . Dad goes hungry."



GROCERIES: Goodbye to the Superfresh store

You've probably heard the news that the Superfresh grocery store in the Longwood shopping center is going to be closing, possibly within a few months, as part of the bankruptcy filing of its parent company, A&P.
It's a shame for the employees who will be laid off, and for the regular customers. For me, the Giant (either New Garden or Jennersville) is my go-to store. I dash into the Superfresh only if I need a few items urgently (say, Gilbert the Guinea Pig is out of baby carrots, a situation that Must Not Happen) and I'm on that side of town.
What will move into the vacant store? I've always thought we need a Trader Joe's closer than Concord Pike. Speaking of vacant stores, there's a rumor floating around that an indoor target-shooting range is moving into the old Boomers in Avondale. I haven't been able to pin it down. As one wag quipped, "At least they'll be able to keep the name."

MUSIC: Mason Porter, Kategory 5 and One Alternative

Outdoor concerts are a wonderful part of summer for me, and I've been to three in the past 10 days. At Anson B. Nixon Park, local favorites Mason Porter played a terrific set on July 15 (with a delicious fried chicken dinner by the Kennett Inn), and on July 22 a band called Kategory5 ("Kat" is Kat Pigliacampi, the lead singer) covered classic hits from my youth: great stuff from Heart, Kansas, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, the Doobie Brothers and lots of others. No one needed to be encouraged to sing along; we knew all the words by heart. Loved their versions of "Hotel California" and "Rocket Man"!
It's always fun to hear the emcees at these Anson B. Nixon shows. Kennett merchant Doug Harris did his inimitable high-energy intro for Mason Porter, and Bob Listerman gave a spirited pitch for the local Rotary groups to open the July 22 show.
On July 23 we headed over to the Brandywine Valley Association to hear the jazz fusion band One Alternative (bass, guitar, oboe and drums). A couple we know attends these shows every Thursday, not only to hear the music but also to pick the wild raspberries that flourish back in the woods. They pointed us toward the brambles before the show started (after, of course, securing their own two pints). As the sun set it became actually blanket-worthy chilly, a far cry from the temperatures in the 90s just a few days earlier.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

FERRARI: A prancing pony of a different sort

Both the Young Relative and the Cranky Friend have mocked me since day 1 for writing about daily events they consider wholly trivial, and I can just imagine their sneering

reaction to this item: "Gee. You saw a car parked in a parking lot. Great."
Yeah, but, dudes: that was not just a car, it was a gray Ferrari convertible, in the first spot of the Kennett YMCA parking lot early Thursday afternoon. Some Internet research identified it as a 1982 308 GTS Quattrovalvole model.

The young boy who walked past it as I was taking a photo did not need the Internet to tell him that this was one special vehicle. He just stopped and stared at it. "He knows cool cars when he sees them," explained his mom.

LIBRARY: A plea for "civil civic discourse"

I had a Tilda item all ready to go about the nasty dustup between Bayard Taylor Library board president Susan Mackey-Kallis and Kennett Township supervisors' chairman Scudder Stevens, full of accusations and rebuttals and intemperate language on both sides. Juicy stuff!
But you know what? I decided not to run it.
I was on the library board during the bitter controversy 15 years ago, and one of the (many) life lessons I learned from that grueling experience was that politeness and cooperation get you a lot farther in the long run than pettiness and snarkiness, as tempting and satisfying as the latter may be at the moment.
And "the long run" is what the library board should be focused on: making friends and cultivating donors.
Of course the library board's first reaction is to fight back, and with as much spin as they can muster
("Save the Library!"). And that's understandable; the board members feel they're under attack.
But wouldn't it be a lot more constructive if, instead of devoting all that energy to generating spin, they did some serious thinking instead? "Wow. What have we done to tick off so many people? And how can we redeem ourselves?"
Hatred and divisiveness take a very long time to heal in a small, tightly knit community like this. Name-calling, ad hominem arguments, and "he said/she said" are not going to get us anywhere we want (including a good night's sleep).
As my friend and fellow board member the late Stefi Jackson used to say, "What has happened to civil civic discourse?"
One thing that everyone can agree on -- and that's worth repeating -- is that the library staff does a great job. When I was there for a meeting the other night, the perpetually enthusiastic children's librarian burst into the hallway, inviting me to attend an "egg drop" that was happening in five minutes. I was sorry the meeting was starting! And I just got an email about an Insta-Con event that's going on at the library this weekend, full of comic book and robot programs designed for teens. It's great to see the place packed full of kids.
Those of us who were on the library board back around the year 2000 spent countless hours at meetings, at community events, at our computers, at cocktail parties, lobbying for a new library.
Please. Let's not mess it up this time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

LIBRARY: More twists and turns than a complicated spy novel

The more-than-a-decade-long saga over where the new library should be located continues.
Last year, the board changed its mind about building on an "in-town site," said the library was definitely going to build at the Ways Lane site that the board bought 15 years ago, and took the five-acre Ways Lane lot off the real-estate market.
But at their July 21 meeting, they voted to work with the borough to investigate purchasing the Weinstein site, which is just down the block from the current library. (It's named for the former Weinstein plumbing store.)
Board vice president Geoff Birkett acknowledged that the change would be perceived by the public as "flip-flopping," but "it's flip-flopping because of external influences." The board will obtain bids to have the Ways Lane site and the Weinstein site appraised and said they think the current library site would sell readily because of its desirable location in the middle of town.
The Weinstein site, which was rejected by two past library boards because of lack of parking, would accommodate a two-story library with underground parking.
What has changed?
Board president Susan Mackey-Kallis said there is the possibility of more parking and grant funding. She said if the Weinstein deal comes to fruition, the board would sell the Ways Lane site and the library's current site.
But can the library board raise the money for a new library, no matter where it is located?
The board had on its meeting agenda "Feasibility Study Results" but did not discuss the results. The study was conducted by MacIntyre Associates to assess the public's attitude toward the library and to determine how much money the board could raise.
Also at the meeting, the board welcomed Jeff Yetter and Bill McLachlan, the board members whom Kennett Township recently appointed. Kennett Township also removed its sitting member, Rosa Quintana, in favor of the two gentlemen, but the board appointed her immediately as an at-large member. The board also voted to approve Chris Britt of Kennett Township as an at-large member.

HOLINESS: What am I hearing in the background?

On my errand run today, every radio station was playing nothing but "Shut Up and Dance With Me," "Honey I'm Good," "Style," or "Sugar." Even the predictably offbeat college station at the bottom of the dial was playing the ubiquitous "Uptown Funk."
So I switched over to the religious station out of Lancaster and heard a woman telling a story about how, after work one day, she decided to watch a DVD that she had heard was good but had a lot of cursing in it (she didn't give the name). While she was watching it, she got a call from a client, an executive in a prominent religious organization. She felt terribly guilty about doing something impure and took this as a reminder that God was watching her.
My immediate thought was more temporal than spiritual: did she mute the TV when talking to the guy?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

EGGS: Avian flu outbreak causes the egg market to fluctuate

The effects of the avian flu outbreak are being felt here, even though no Pennsylvania flocks have been affected. A sign at Saladworks in Jennersville said due to the national egg shortage caused by the outbreak, eggs would temporarily be off the menu. And prices are rising at the grocery store. Thank goodness for my friend who raises hens; she gives me eggs and I give her cookies, vegetables, flowers, lunch at Hood's or the occasional muscle power to help with farm chores.

TICKS: The creatures are rampant in Chester County

You've heard it many times, but based on my experience this past weekend, it bears repeating: Watch out for ticks! Our hour-long stroll through the woods on Saturday netted eight ticks on two people, one already embedded. Everyone around here seems to have a family member, neighbor, or friend who has either been on antibiotics for tick bites or has been diagnosed with full-blown Lyme disease. Do a tick check on yourself and your animals.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

NOTTINGHAM: Parenting skills on display in the park

Lovely Nottingham County Park (home of the Serpentine Barrens and the Mystery Hole) was full of picnickers, me included, on Saturday afternoon: all the pavilions were reserved, and you could smell hamburgers grilling and hear horseshoes clinking.
As we walked through the parking area in front of one of the pavilions, a family was just arriving. I overheard the dad telling his son, "You didn't set still in the restaurant, so you better not set still here!"
I had to laugh, because it actually made sense in a perverse sort of way.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A special treat in store for zoning board fans

West Marlborough Township zoning hearing board fans will get to attend a double-header starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, at the township building in Doe Run. First up, Gwilym Attwell and Colleen McLaughlin are asking for a variance from the front yard setback requirement so they can install a generator at their Upland Road home. Second, Daniel K. Waltson is appealing the township's cease-and-desist order against him, which forbids him from using the pole barn at his Springdell property for his lawncare business and as an apartment. The township issued the cease-and-desist order because he did not meet several zoning requirements.

UNIONVILLE: Mrs. Wood's fifth-grade class

Attention, UHS class of 1971: This old photo came across my desk (figuratively speaking) today, showing Mrs. Wood's fifth-grade class at Unionville Elementary School in 1964. One of the boys pictured was able to recall the names of several of his classmates, some of whom I see on a regular basis. Can you?

OXFORD: Restaurant-quality meals at a retirement home

This afternoon we stopped in to visit a fairly new resident of the Ware Presbyterian Village outside of Oxford and found him sitting on his front porch, reading a detective novel. During our conversation I asked him how the food was at Ware, and he said it was "very good" and said he'd tried dishes he'd never had before in his life. He showed me the printed-out menu that all the residents receive, and I was amazed at how appetizing it was: just a few of the offerings were fried calamari with marinara sauce, chicken with mango, rainbow trout, chicken salad on brioche, BBQ ribs, all with the calorie count and nutritional data spelled out.
As we were leaving, we saw a few of the senior citizens already heading up the hill to the dining hall.

Friday, July 17, 2015

UNIONVILLE: Won't somebody think of the children?

An update on the Wollaston Road speeding situation that I wrote about in last week's column:
A Buffington Street resident passed along the encouraging news that East Marlborough Township has installed its portable speed meter along Wollaston Road near her home, bringing to motorists' attention the fact that the limit is 25 m.p.h.
"Community wake-up call!" she said.

COUNTRY ROAD: Bicyclists certainly do love a challenge

There is a long (half-a-mile), steep hill on the country road where I live. It's a pleasant walk downhill, and coming back gives you a definite aerobic workout.
Yesterday evening, possibly the most beautiful day of the summer, I was starting off my walk and saw a bicyclist just finishing the hill. He was sweaty and panting.
"Long hill, isn't it?" I said.
His weary look disappeared.
"Yeah. Great hill!" he said. "Love it!"
I'd forgotten how hard-core bicyclists are. I should know, having several of them in my immediate family.
Later on my walk I saw another physical feat worth remarking on. Barn swallows were swooping down to catch insects on the surface of a little pond. My bird book describes them as marvelously agile birds, and their flying skills were certainly on display.

AVOIRDUPOIS: Everything tastes good on a red-checked tablecloth

I regret to say that I have put on a couple of pounds, and I know exactly why: weekend picnics. It is so hard to resist when you are faced with BBQ chicken, pasta salad, mac-and-cheese, chocolate-chip cookies, whoopie pies, and ice cream. You think you're safe and fill your plate with smart choices like salad and vegetables and watermelon and then your hostess says something along the lines of, "The dessert table is this way!"
Even the Blogger app that I use to write "Unionville in the News" mocks me! To prove that I am not a robot when posting, Blogger shows me nine extremely appetizing photos of food -- sushi, blueberry pie, and the like -- and asks me to check the ones that depict pizza. Oh, so helpful, Blogger.
Now I'm going to take a break and make some deviled eggs.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Battling the weeds at a vacant house

At the previous two West Marlborough Township meetings, the supervisors have discussed the overgrown house at the corner of Sportsmans Lane and Street Road in response to a neighbor's concerns. The house has been vacant for several years and is bank-owned. Township engineer Al Giannantonio said he would follow up with the owner's maintenance vendor, with apparent success: on the weekend of July 11, the property was tidied up. Here are the before and after photos.
What several of us can't figure out is why the bank doesn't just sell the property. OK, it gets a little noisy sometimes with the gun club just up the road, but it's "desirable" West Marlborough Township (as the real-estate ads say) and the coveted Unionville-Chadds Ford School District.



JENNERSVILLE: Editing the historic Red Rose Inn

Like a great many motorists, I've enjoyed following the progress of the Red Rose Inn project in Jennersville over the past few weeks. Contractors are tearing down the various additions to the long-vacant historic inn, which is now owned by Penn Township. First the east side came off, then the north, then the west, revealing doors, lighting fixtures and construction details from various periods. The fireplace still had its chain-link screen intact, and a brown-print valence still hung on an interior window. For once, I actually didn't mind missing the light at the Route 796/Baltimore Pike intersection because there were so many interesting things going on at the corner.
The remaining portion of the inn is going to be turned into a community meeting room.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

THE BRANDYWINE: Competitive tubing and a fine pig roast

The Brandywine Creek was a popular spot to be this past Saturday afternoon, with kayakers, canoeists and tubers enjoying the glorious weather. I was one of the latter. As part of his huge annual party, the host drives his guests a few miles upstream in a truck and drops them off.
The only problem is that there's a limited number of inner tubes, so you have to wait for the previous tubers to finish their trip. Tube-snagging became quite competitive: the "welcoming party" of people waiting for tubes moved steadily upstream throughout the afternoon to catch the returning tubers earlier in their trip.
I actually started to get a little cranky while waiting -- but then realized that there were far worse places to be than standing in the middle of the creek on a beautiful afternoon with amusing friends and some pretty funny kids. Nonetheless, next year we're bringing our own tubes.
While floating downstream, one fellow in our party, an arborist, commented on how majestic sycamores are. And sturdy, too, he said; you never see one uprooted. Of course, just around the next bend, there was a horizontal sycamore nearly touching the water.
Back at the picnic, the BBQ chef told me about the art of roasting a 189-lb pig (he bought it at a butcher shop on Ninth Street in Philadelphia). He started the cooking process early that morning. The fire was too hot at first, he said, and the dripping fat produced a fireworks-like jet of flame. He managed to tweak the temperature, and the end result, I assured him, could not have been better.
There was music throughout the day. As I drove in I heard someone doing "St. Tropez" from Pink Floyd's "Meddle"" album (not at all what you'd expect at a picnic). Other musicians took to the stage (made of wooden pallets) to do Dylan songs and Rolling Stones songs, and a DJ in another part of the property was spinning disco and Motown. QUITE a party.

ANSON B. NIXON: Beyond the Pale plays Celtic music on a summer evening

This past week's concert at Anson B. Nixon Park was by Beyond the Pale, a Celtic band who played original songs and traditional tunes (when was the last time you heard "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor"?), with the Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face" stuck in there as well. The evening started out hot and sticky, but as the sun went down it cooled off nicely. I even felt a little breeze, even if those around me didn't.
There were a couple of kids demonstrating Irish dancing, the usual cute toddlers rushing around as fast as their little legs could carry them (with parents at their heels), and a bearded fellow who danced by himself with great enthusiasm and abandon.
State Street Pizza & Grill provided the food, and just like last summer they ran out of pizza before the show even started and had to summon backup. One New Bolton Center researcher learned from his experience last year: instead of returning to his seat and missing the second and third backup deliveries, he stood his ground at the pavilion and was the first to score his slices when they arrived, still hot in an insulated bag.

UNIONVILLE: Wollaston Road is not a speedway

People who live on Wollaston Road in "downtown" Unionville are asking motorists to abide by the 25 m.p.h. speed limit and to remember that people and animals live in the neighborhood.
One friend wrote to me: "Folks make the turn onto Wollaston from 82 and are in third gear by the time they hit our little street (Buffington)." She said her husband bought two "Children Playing" signs and posted them "due to drivers' ridiculous disregard of the presence of young children in our little residential area. Speed bumps, judiciously placed, could help."
And my friend's daughter reports that "a young horse girl" driving a dark-blue pickup hit a dog on Wollaston Road, breaking the creature's leg, and almost hit the four-year-old walking the dog. The driver didn't even stop. I can't imagine.

Friday, July 10, 2015

VISIONING: Who was that shady character?

I got my eyes checked the other day, and as part of the exam my optometrist (Renny Sardella in Willowdale) instilled mydriatic eyedrops. They cause your pupils to expand temporarily, allowing the optometrist to examine your eye's inner structure more easily. Your eyes are very sensitive to light until the effect wears off. Three hours after my appointment I was still squinting and needed to wear my sunglasses, even inside at the Y. I felt the need to explain to everyone in my gym class that I was NOT, in fact, attempting to be cool (a lost cause anyway, the Young Relative would point out, and quite correctly).

Thursday, July 9, 2015

PLANTATION FIELD: A horse show honoring rescued dogs

My friend Bambi Glaccum kindly allowed me to share her account of the special horse show held at Plantation Field in June on behalf of rescued dogs.
"All the entry fees went to several Rescue Dog organizations. This idea was very well received by the entrants as there were over 200 rides. Five entrants took advantage of a free entry if they had a rescued dog. This was Plantation Field's way of saying thank you to them for their kindness. The last horse went into the ring at 7:30 p.m.! It was nearly the summer solstice and a bright summer day, so light was not an issue.
The highlight of the day was the Rescue Dog parade at noon. 30 dogs and their owners walked at the end of the arena for the judging of the smallest and largest dog. Amy McKenna and Mike Rotko won those prizes and all the other dogs received a treat from Pet Valu in Kennett, sponsor of the parade.
A huge thank you to Plantation Field for hosting this innovative day and special thanks to the owners and riders for supporting this cause."

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Trying to tidy up an overgrown house

There's not a lot to report from the July meeting of the West Marlborough Township supervisors.
Township engineer Al Giannantonio said he followed up on a resident's complaint in June about the lack of yard maintenance at a bank-owned, long-vacant house at the corner of Sportsmans Lane and Street Road. He said the bank's maintenance vendor, Safeguard Properties, assured him that the property would be cleaned up by mid-June. It wasn't. He said he will check with the township's solicitor to see what actions he should take next.
The woman who lives next door to the overgrown house was at the July meeting and thanked the supervisors for following up. She had the same problem last year as well.
I stopped by the house on Saturday morning and this is what I saw. There's a sharp line of demarcation from the neighbors' neatly tended lawns.

Mr. Giannantonio also said that there were no zoning permits issued in June and no subdivision or land development plans were submitted; in fact, the July planning commission meeting was cancelled for lack of business.
Robert Clarke, the East Marlborough police chief who spends 40 hours a month patrolling West Marlborough, reported that he investigated 13 incidents and issued eight speeding tickets, two stop-sign violations, two parking tickets and three warnings.
The supervisors rescheduled their public hearing on the amended zoning ordinance until 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4.

Monday, July 6, 2015

UNIONVILLE: The second annual Cheshire Foxhounds country fair

We had a great time at the Cheshire Foxhounds Country Fair at the Kennels on Sunday afternoon. Lots of friends and neighbors were there, including the senior Tally-hos, and there was good food from the Brandywine Picnic Park and ice cream from the Kilby Cream ice cream truck (minty moo, yum!). Kids competed in the egg-and-spoon race, the sack race and the three-legged race, and there were three hard-fought tug-of-wars.
Two equestrian friends of mine were mock-arguing over their respective times atop the mechanical bull (fortunately I wore a skirt so I had an excuse not to try it).
Lou Mandich of Unionville's Last Chance Garage persuaded several neighbors to drive their antique cars to the event, including Denis Glaccum's well-broken-in Plantation Field Jeep.
Cheshire's hounds, the "Cheshire Beauties," made a special appearance, parading out onto the lawn to say hello.
Thank you to the Hunt for a delightful afternoon!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

FOURTH OF JULY: A picnic, Hockessin fireworks and a very big chair

Independence Day was a jolly one even for those of us Unionville dwellers who weren't at the shore, the Hamptons, the mountains or Down East. At the wonderful picnic we went to in West Grove, the host perched in an oversized red folding chair that he could have used a set of steps to climb into. It had six drink holders in the arms. It rained a bit, but the huge sycamore in the back yard provided shelter for everyone.
We were a little late getting to the Hockessin fireworks and actually started seeing them as we were driving along Route 41, near the Hilltop Inn. We managed to park at a bank in Hockessin and found a great viewing spot next to George & Son's Seafood on Old Lancaster Pike. The fireworks were top-notch, especially the loud, huge, colorful ones in the grand finale. At the end of the display, we heard somebody's car alarm sounding, a sure-fire indicator of a successful display.
On our convoluted way home -- there was a lot of traffic -- we passed a development called "Tree Top Valley" and speculated whether or not, based on its ambiguous name, it would be a good place to watch fireworks.
Back home I heard fireworks going off until very late from parties around the area.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

CHADDS FORD: Explore the raspberry brambles at the Battlefield

As someone who can easily eat half of a $6 carton of raspberries on the way home from the grocery store, this event caught my eye. Brandywine Battlefield Park will be hosting three pick-your-own-raspberries days at the park, 1491 Baltimore Pike in Chadds Ford, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, July 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 18, and from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, July 19. You can pick as many berries as you want, but you have to purchase a "Brandywine Battlefield Wineberry Pail," available at the museum store for $5.00. I'm assuming that after your purchase your pail they'll direct you to the brambles.
Picking will go on rain or shine. Pickers are advised to wear long sleeves, trousers, shoes and bug repellent.

Friday, July 3, 2015

BIRTH: The afternoon of a fawn in East Marlborough

The Senior Tally-ho's report that a blessed event occurred in their front yard near Longwood Gardens the other night during a thunderstorm. My mother saw what she thought was a piece of wood and, during her morning gardening chores, went over to pick it up, only to realize it was a newborn fawn. The little thing was so young that it couldn't even get to its feet at first.
My mother kept a careful eye on the fawn the rest of the day. It managed to wriggle into the shade, but when that spot became sunny the creature started to pant -- and still no sign of its mother. My mother took a bowl of water outside, but the deer didn't know what to do with it.
Finally, in the early afternoon, the mother showed up, and the fawn was able to get up and go toward her. The doe ran off, and the baby tried to approach her. They repeated this, and the last my mother saw of them they were heading toward the woods. Let's hope the mother simply wanted to get the baby to safety and wasn't rejecting her.
There's been no sighting of the fawn since.

A MINUTE PASSED: And now for something completely different

What a sad state of affairs! I'm editing a writing manual that is aimed at engineering undergraduates. An early chapter explains how to construct a valid argument, and the author cites the classic "Argument Clinic" sketch by Monty Python.
All well and good -- but then he feels obliged to include a footnote explaining who Monty Python is! The routines from the British comedy troupe were a staple of my high school and college social life and provided a lingua franca for people of my generation.
"It's just a flesh wound!" protests an accident-prone friend after every fracture or concussion.
"I'm not dead yet!" said a friend at a picnic on Saturday, addressing a vulture perched on a pole who was looking down avidly at the crowd.
Imagine some poor Millennial not knowing about the Cheese Shop, or the Dead Parrot, or Eric the Half a Bee, or How Not To Be Seen!
Lovely Spam, wonderful Spam . . .

THE SKY IS FALLING: Pine cones and walnuts are coming down early

The gigantic white pines along the fence line behind my house are already dropping their long, greenish-brown, sticky pine cones (a neighbor said at first he mistook them for dog droppings). I've never seen so many, and I've never seen them fall so early.
The walnut tree, too, is already dropping its nearly full-sized green globes onto the roof.
I'm not sure what this signifies for the coming winter.

ANSON B. NIXON: The summer concert series gets a delayed start

Christine Havrilla and Gypsy Fuzz kicked off the summer series of concerts at Kennett Square's Anson B. Nixon Park on July 1. It was wonderful to be out there in the park again, listening to music and watching the sun set over the lake. (The series was supposed to start with Dukes of Destiny on June 24, but it had to be canceled because of the power outage.)
There was a big but not overwhelming crowd, and we saw many "regulars" who came to every concert last summer, like we did. Dennis Melton did the emcee honors.
One unexpected treat at this show was an impromptu performance of hula-hooping in front of the stage. Apparently hula-hoops are not only for little kids anymore: one lithe woman showed off some seriously amazing and gravity-defying moves, managing to spin two hoops up and down her body and from one shoulder to the other with barely perceptible movements. I was in awe. And yes, alright, I am envious.
The free concerts will continue every Wednesday at 7 p.m. through August 12. There's food for sale by a different vendor each week, or you can bring your own. A fellow from La Michoacana brought along a pushcart full of their popsicles for $2 each (the Butter Pecan was delicious). Leashed dogs are welcome at the concerts; we saw everything from a mastiff to a chihuahua.