Tuesday, September 29, 2015

WELL-SHOD: Upscale shoes for the fashion-forward

Shoe designer Mary Alice Malone, a Unionville native, got a nice mention in a recent "Wall Street Journal" story about New York Fashion Week. She is the founder of Malone Souliers, which sells fancy high-heeled shoes that are a far cry from paddock boots.

The founder and creative director of this shoe company is Unionville native Mary Alice Malone.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

ANSON B. NIXON: Love Seed Mama Jump rocked the park

Based on the size of the crowd at Sunday's fundraising concert, the Kennett Area Park Authority should be able to plant MANY trees at Anson B. Nixon Park.
The cover band Love Seed Mama Jump (which donated its fee to the cause) attracted families, rock fans, and park fans, along with its own fan base. They played everything from Credence Clearwater Revival to the Clash to the Monkees to the Ramones. During the first set, the gravel space in front of the stage was taken over by kids running around and doing acrobatics. After intermission, though, the lively grown-ups filled the dance floor.
I think everyone was surprised by the large turnout, including the food vendors.
We got to the park at about 4:15 and were lucky enough to buy a piece of quiche and a steak and mushroom pie (both delicious) from the Nomadic Pie truck, because they sold out shortly afterward. There was a long line at the El Ranchero Mexican-food truck the entire time. We spent the entire intermission waiting in line for ice cream at the Punk'd Pineapple truck. A pizza delivery guy carried in a stack of pizzas in at intermission and they were being sold by the slice.
Victory Brewing had beer and root beer on tap, and we had fun watching people carefully bring cups of beer back to their friends. One especially dexterous couple was carrying four beers apiece.
The band's sound guy was controlling the audio via tablet. For a while he was working right in front of us so we could see him adjusting the little sliders on the screen. He had to jump into action twice, though: first when the sound went out abruptly near the start of the show and next when one of the musicians' monitors died.
Everyone I talked to said they were more than glad to contribute $10 toward the park, especially those who attend the free Wednesday evening concerts all summer. Perhaps this fundraiser could become an annual event?

NIXON PARK: Astronomy group is hosting a "sky tour"

As I'm writing this on Sept. 27, I'm looking forward to tonight's full moon and lunar eclipse. If you too love gazing up at our night skies, you might want to join  the"sky tour" that the Chester County Astronomical Society is going to host at  Anson B. Nixon Park on Saturday, October 10, starting at 7 p.m.
"Bring a small flashlight (light pollution), dress for the weather, and meet at the Tino Leto Athletic Fields, North Walnut Street, about ¼ mile north of the main Nixon Park entrance. Several telescopes will be set up for viewing, and celestial wonders will be pointed out using a green laser light. We will also discuss keeping the sky dark (reducing light pollution) for better viewing. For more information, call Pete Kellerman at 610-444-4479 or Don Knabb at 484-888-1831."


SUBSCRIPTION: A plea to keep supporting local journalism

This past week I talked to two people who were upset about the significant price increase for a year's subscription to The Kennett Paper. I too was taken aback when I went to write my renewal check.
I don't know what went into the increase, but as a columnist I'd appreciate it if you'd renew. In the scheme of things, thirty-nine dollars for a newspaper every week is not a whole lot of money. In addition to the local news and features, you get letters to the editor, ads and coupons.
And, more abstractly, you're supporting a valuable and increasingly scarce commodity: local journalism. Really, where else would you read who got a building permit to put in a new garage and how the rumor about the cart corrals being removed from the Giant parking lot is completely false?

EAST MARLBOROUGH: The 2015 Unionville Community Fair

This week is the 91st annual Unionville Community Fair & Farm Show, and I'm sure you'll read lots more about it elsewhere in this week's paper. The full schedule is available on www.ucfairinc.org. The Fair is a great Unionville tradition, and it has been a special part of my life for many years. I'm looking forward to seeing my "Fair Friends" like Debra, Dave, Berta, Karen (actually two of them), Jayne, Terry, and Bonnie.
The Fair president, Danielle Chamberlain, asked me to share two last-minute bits of information with my readers:
1. There will be a truck from the Kennett Area Community Service accepting donations of nonperishable foods. The truck will be parked near the gray barn, where you enter off Route 926 for public parking.
2. Volunteers are needed to help with parking throughout the week, but especially on Saturday night (for the Willowdale Pro Rodeo). Call Berta Rains at 610-283-9091  to sign up for a time slot.   

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Longwood Gardens' "ambassador cat" Belin died on Wednesday, Sept. 23, after a short illness. What a wonderful life the beloved creature had, and how much he contributed to the ambiance at the Gardens! He will be missed.

Belin, the beloved Longwood Gardens cat, died on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

LIBRARY: What should the Library task force do?

Elsewhere in this paper you can read Fran Maye's story about how Kennett Square Borough Council voted to work with East Marlborough and Kennett Townships to form a Library Task Force. Its goal is to clear the air and speed the healing after all the issues involving the Bayard Taylor Library's board this year.
I liked Mayor Matt Fetick's quote as he spoke in favor of getting a group from outside the library board involved: "It's very difficult to be able to self-heal."
If you've been following the issue, you know that the library board, headed by Susan Mackey-Kallis, has been embroiled in controversy since this spring, when they surprised the town by hanging a banner across State Street declaring that they had changed the library's name to the "Kennett Public Library." That decision led to increased public attention to, and concern over, how the library was being run. A feasibility study for the proposed new library shows that the public is not likely to donate money, largely because of lack of trust in the board. (No one, however, disputes the quality of the library's programs.)
It's still unclear how the Task Force will operate or what they will focus on. Its members so far include Collis Townsend of Kennett Township and Tom Swett of East Marlborough, both of whom served on the library board many years ago.
The suggestions I've heard for getting the board back on track are (1) changing the name back to Bayard Taylor Memorial Library; (2) bringing new members onto the board, ideally people from different circles of the community who have expertise in nonprofit management and fundraising; (3) refocusing the "culture" of the board so that it is more open and less divisive; and (4) safeguarding the library's valuable historical collection.
Joseph Lordi, a town historian who served as library director for 30 years, told me he would be happy to serve as a resource person for the task force, especially in terms of the latter objective. The safety of that collection has been a subject of concern since it became public that the 1911 Wanamaker tall-case clock, donated by the Darlington family to the library, was removed during this spring's renovations and has been in library vice-president Karen Ammon's house. Library director Donna Murray said the clock would be put back on display at the library as soon as a suitable place could be found for it; no firm date was given.

LANDFILL: Capping work proceeds at SECCRA

Here's an update to the item I wrote a few weeks ago about the ongoing work at the SECCRA landfill in London Grove Township. A portion of the landfill is being "capped" or sealed off. Huge black tarps were laid down along the steep slopes and temporarily held in place with white sandbags. Now the tarps, which block rainwater from getting into the full garbage "cells," are being covered with a layer of soil. Next grass and other plants with shallow roots will be planted.

A bulldozer covers the black tarps with a layer of soil.


Monday, September 21, 2015

PLANTATION: Another fantastic equestrian event

Organizer Katie Walker likes to refer to the Plantation Field International Horse Trials as the "Best Event Ever," and the thing is, she's right: not only is there amazing, Olympic-level competition in a beautiful Unionville setting, but there's also great socializing.
We were there Sunday afternoon to watch the cross-country portion of the three-day event (dressage and stadium jumping are the other parts). Our party (four people, two Corgis) hung out at the water jump, where in the space of only a few strides the horses had to negotiate first one large jump on land, go downhill and into a small pond to jump another, make a sharp right turn and jump out of the pond and then head uphill for the final jump of the combination. Then they took off at a gallop to the next jump. It was just astonishing to watch, especially when the highest-level riders made it look easy.
There were a fair number of mishaps (not surprising, given the difficulty of the course) and "holds on course" for fence repairs, and we saw the occasional riderless horse running around. We joked that the British-accented announcer had a checklist of euphemisms for "fell off" that he kept rotating through: "parted company," "went their separate ways." Fortunately I didn't hear about any serious injuries to horses or riders.
Congratulations and thanks to the organizers and volunteers -- what a massive undertaking it is to pull this event together!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

LIBRARY: Feasibility study shows the public isn't likely to donate

A banner on State Street highlights the importance of preserving the town's history.

In this week's library news, the feasibility study commissioned by the library board showed that there is not enough support in the community to launch a capital campaign to build a new, multimillion-dollar library. The people interviewed for the study, although they thought a new facility was a worthwhile project, cited a lack of confidence in the board's leadership and abilities. The controversial name change to "Kennett Public Library" was also mentioned as a problem.
I spoke to several people who were contacted, and they told the interviewer that the board is out of touch with the community and just doesn't have the necessary experience or connections.
The board will release the study after editing out the names of those who were interviewed. I'll get a copy and will let you know the details.

WEST GROVE: A chicken BBQ and a walk in the park

What a nice meal we had at West Grove United Methodist Church's annual chicken BBQ on Saturday: chicken, a baked potato, applesauce, coleslaw, a roll and a whole buffet of home-made desserts. We were hungry and arrived a few minutes early, so we watched the Boy Scouts, working in assembly-line fashion, put together dinners for take-out customers.
When they were ready for us in the "dining room" (actually the church's worship space), we sat down at a table with several older folks. After eating (priorities!), we struck up a conversation with one of the gentlemen, a farmer. He told us how proud he was to be a member of the growing church congregation, which he said is full of enthusiastic people and many young families.
After such a hearty dinner (I even took home a doggy bag of chicken) we felt the need for some exercise, so we headed to the southern part of Goddard Park on Route 841 in London Grove Township. The northern part of the park has a dog park, a little playground and a paved walking path, but the less-developed southern half is just woods and fields, with gravel and dirt trails.

KENNETT SQUARE: "Rock the Park" at Anson B. Nixon on Sunday

Did you attend those wonderful free concerts in Anson B. Nixon Park this summer? Here's your chance to show the park a little love.
Love Seed Mama Jump is going to play a "Rock the Park" concert from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, September 27, with proceeds going toward planting native oaks, maples and sycamores in the park. Tickets are $10, with kids under 12 free. Food trucks and Victory Brewing will be there for refreshments.
I am really looking forward to it.

NEWLIN: A farm lane created for a movie

Autumn is the time when the farm lane at the intersection of Scott and Powell Roads in Newlin Township really stands out. The lane was created for the 2008 movie "The Happening" because director M. Night Shyamalan, shooting on location in Unionville, wanted the intersection to be a complete crossroads, so he had to add another road. The lane goes only as far as the crest of the hill, when it would disappear from the camera's field of view.
Speaking of Newlin Township and earth-moving projects, this morning I saw township supervisor Rob Pearson at the Unionville roundabout, driving a giant flatbed truck. He always looks so happy when he's at the helm of one of his company's pieces of heavy equipment.

A film director took matters into his own hands to make this a crossroads.

BICYCLISTS: Hills are all a matter of perspective

I have some hard-core bicyclists in my family, so I shouldn't be surprised at what a tough breed these athletes are. On my way home from errands this morning (Walmart for buttons, Foxy Loxy for iced coffee) I saw a guy pedaling doggedly up the long, steep hill on my road. (Just walking up this hill gets your heart rate going.)
I rolled down my window as I drove past him.
"This is a tough hill. Good job!" I said.
"This is an easier one," he replied. "I gave up on the hard ones."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

MUSHROOM DROP: What goes down, must go up?

My readers are such a creative and articulate bunch. One wrote to me this week to say how pleased she was with the Mushroom Festival, and then she went on to think about the upcoming New Year's Eve Mushroom Drop:

"But - here's a question to ponder.  Why does our Mushroom have to Drop? 
Wouldn't it be great if the powerful Mushroom could ascend and rise (85 feet above the Square) and with it, all our community hearts and watchful eyes as we lead upward and lift our spirits (precisely at the stroke of midnight) and begin a New Year?  They must have to raise it only to make it drop right?  So, it could be an annual Mushroom Rise - Only in Kennett Square!
Gosh, reading all the news that is news in our world of [2015], do I really want to watch something else drop?  I have to wonder if I'm not the only one wishing for a little lift of conventions."

What do you think? In dramatic terms, there's a certain resolution of tension to seeing the mushroom land at the intersection of State and Union Street. It's on the ground; it can go no farther. Would that ending point be as definitive at the top of the crane? A friend suggests an outside-the-box solution:  as the mushroom reaches the apex, it could close an electrical circuit, triggering a fireworks display.

Friday, September 18, 2015

AN OLD SONG: Deconstructing "I found her diary underneath a tree"

Remember the 1972 song by the band Bread called "Diary"? It's a sentimental ballad about a guy who finds his girlfriend's diary under a tree and starts reading about how much in love she is with a wonderful guy. Warm fuzzies: until he gets to the end and discovers she's actually writing about another boy. Ouch.
Back in the day, we all felt sorry for the guy, who was noble and self-sacrificing enough to give up his girl and even wish her well with her soulmate.
Four of us were sitting outside the aerobics room the other day putting on our shoes after Yoga/Pilates class, and the instructor of the next class started playing her music. "Diary" came on.
"Wow, I remember that song!" said I.
Another fellow did, too. "Yeah," he said. "That cheating hussy! Isn't that just like a woman!"
"Hey!" I retorted. "He was the one reading her diary!"
"Maybe she left it there for him," suggested another.
Funny, in junior high we never considered passive-aggressive behavior. Interpretation of lyrics has certainly changed with forty years of interpersonal experience.

BAD BEHAVIOR: I couldn't believe what I was seeing

In the past few days I've witnessed two incidents of bad behavior.
We were coming out of a local restaurant after dinner on Wednesday night, and a young couple followed shortly after us. They got to their car, and the woman walked around to the front of it and squatted down.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing and tried to craft an alternative explanation other than the obvious: Perhaps she was checking a headlight. Perhaps there was a clump of mud on the grille.
Nope. She stood up, pulled up her pants and got into the car. The man with her wasn't fazed at all.
Now, we've all had emergency situations where you need to improvise. But this wasn't one of them.
They didn't appear impaired in any way. She showed no signs of urgency, distress or pregnancy. The restaurant's bathrooms were functional and there wasn't a line.
Why would you relieve yourself in a brightly lit parking lot, mere feet from Route 1, rather than using the restaurant's bathroom? WHY?
I'm told that three friends spent most of their Saturday brunch discussing this crazy story. I feel sorry for the people at the table next to them, as I know how raucous they can get! And another friend told me that on Saturday she saw parents instructing their daughter to relieve herself -- right next to a Porta-Potty. Again: WHY?
And here is the second incident of bad public behavior. Today I was walking into one of our local grocery stores and a woman came out carrying a bunch of red roses. How sweet, I thought.
Nope again. In the cart lobby a fellow shopper told me she'd seen the woman walk into the store, grab the flowers and walk out without paying.
"Oh my gosh!" I exclaimed, and hurried back out to the parking lot to have words with her. She had disappeared, fortunately for her. I mean, not only is stealing wrong, but it raises the prices for the rest of us!

WEST MARLBOROUGH: New stone walls using a vintage design

Some West Marlborough neighbors are installing two lovely stone walls flanking their driveway. I've been watching the craftsmen from Steinbauten Artistry in Stone working through the stages from a ditch in the ground, through a cinderblock skeletons, to the stonework, mortar and decorative cones atop the pillars. They are making it look like it's been there for years rather than days.
The other morning as I was driving by I saw my friend Chuck Ginty consulting with the stone mason and stopped to chat. Chuck, a restoration specialist who focuses on historic properties (he is doing the mill at Blow Horn), told me that the house was designed by Philadelphia architect Arthur Ingersoll Meigs. Chuck managed to track down photos of a gate at another Meigs property and had it replicated here.
Meigs (Princeton class of 1903) was known for "country residences designed in styles which were popular at the time, i.e., the Pennsylvania farmhouse, the Cotswold, and the Norman farmhouse styles. Meigs's family and social connections aided in their gaining clients both in the residential field and for clubs, such as the Princeton Charter Club and the Radnor Hunt Club," according to the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings website.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

SENIOR LIVING: Scout & Gilbert & Oboe & a chicken

Sept. 15 was "Pet Day" at Brandywine Senior Living in Kennett, and my friend Susan, whose parents live there, asked me to bring my guinea pig, Gilbert, for a sort of show-and-tell.
So I put Gilbert in the little traveling carrier that the Chester County SPCA gave me when I adopted him (he barely fits into it now) and I packed a bag of baby carrots, and we headed over to Susan's farm. She had gotten up before daybreak to catch one of her chickens, which was sitting in a cage in the back of the pickup. She already had the horse trailer hitched up and loaded Scout without delay. I put Gilbert at my feet in the truck and we set off for the retirement home.
It was a beautiful sunny day, and the patio was soon full of residents eager to see our animals and hear our presentations (I hadn't been told in advance that I was supposed to make a presentation, but hey, whatever!). Susan had called in some kind of a major favor with someone else, too, because Adam, the huntsman from her foxhunting club (Andrews Bridge), agreed to show up in his full regalia, with "Oboe," one of their Penn-Marydel foxhounds.
Adam gave a great presentation about foxhunting and blew some of the calls on his horn (Scout looked up immediately, as if to say "Hey! I know that sound!").
Then Susan talked about her chicken, providing all kinds of graphic details about how exactly hens produce eggs (what can you do when a resident asks "So what's the rooster for?") and showing the different-colored eggs that the different breeds produce.
Then I wrapped Gilbert in a white towel, gave him a carrot to munch on, and spoke a little bit about him. Then I took him around and let the residents stroke him, which he bore with great patience. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw the love that the seniors lavished on the little critter. Several asked me to repeat how old he was, and what guinea pigs' life spans were.
One resident couldn't quite pronounce "Gilbert" and gave his name a definite French flavor that I think he quite liked. Another fellow, who I think must be on a restricted diet, asked me what Gilbert ate. I told him I feed him salad twice a day.
"Huh!" the man grumbled. "He'd fit right in here."
Scout stayed in his trailer, but the residents who were able went up to him and fed him carrots and apples. By the end of the afternoon Scout was actually full and showed no interest in eating any more carrots -- a rare event!
I can't speak for Oboe, Scout, the chicken and Gilbert, but Susan and I had a great time, and I hope we were able to provide the residents with a diverting afternoon.
P.S. What a sweet comment I got on this post: "A special place in Heaven awaits those who visit senior care facilities and amuse the residents, especially in the dementia units. On behalf of someone who has a family member in one, infinite and immense thanks."

Scout was tired of carrots and apples by the end of the day!

Oboe makes friends with some of the front-row residents.

Susan talks about the care and feeding of her chickens.

Gilbert and Laurel eye each other warily.

Monday, September 14, 2015

THE FAIR: The seventh annual Denim & Diamonds fundraiser

Unionville Community Fair & Farm Show president Danielle Chamberlain asked me to put in a plug for the Fair's annual fundraising Event, "Denim & Diamonds," which is coming up on Thursday, Oct. 1, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. As always, it is held on the Fair grounds in the Red Barn, where all the exhibits are displayed. I attend this great party every year so I can visit with my Fair friends and see whether my entries have won any ribbons (my friends know this, and I'm now also responsible for texting them about how their eggs, flowers and vegetables fared).
Instead of being provided by just one caterer, this year's Denim & Diamonds party will feature food from a variety of local restaurants and vineyards. There will also be music, and the homemade beer and wine exhibits will be judged.
More information and tickets ($75, down from the previous years' $100) are available through the Fair's website, www.ucfairinc.org.
And don't forget, the 91st Fair is coming up Oct. 2 through 4. I've seen stacks of catalogs ready for pickup at the Unionville Post Office 91st and Foxy Loxy.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

UNIONVILLE: A mini-library thrives on a front porch

"Books are my thing," says Rutgers English professor, model, writer and horsewoman Shanyn Fiske. Stacks of books fill her living room, and even though she has lived in her Unionville house for two years, she says she has dozens of boxes still to unpack.
In fact, she loves books so much that she has started a mini-lending library housed in two metal cabinets on her porch at 1652 West Doe Run Road (two houses north of Hood's BBQ in "downtown" Unionville). Anyone is welcome to stop by and take books and replace them with others. On Sunday morning, the shelves were full of everything from romances to thrillers to "Star Wars" books. I swapped two mysteries and a children's book for a big book of Sudoku puzzles.
Shanyn, a charming, enthusiastic woman, sees her library as only a first step: she dreams of starting a community group to discuss literature. For now, though, "I just want people to come up on my porch." She suggests parking on the opposite side of Route 82 at the URA fields.
Thank you to Sunny, who rides with Shanyn, for introducing us!

The mini-library is stocked with a wide array of books. The flowers are from a well-wisher.
English professor Shanyn Fiske welcomes people to visit her porch.





SUNFLOWERS: Acres of green and yellow near Willowdale

The spectacular expanse of sunflowers on Route 926 at Walnut Road drew crowds of visitors and photographers this weekend. Although most of the tourists stayed at the edge of the field, I saw a few people taking selfies several rows in. One fellow was even piloting a drone over the field, which should produce some amazing shots. The best shot I've seen was taken by my friend Mary, who took a beautiful photo of one sunflower that towered over the rest: "Rising above the crowd" was her caption.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

PATTON MIDDLE SCHOOL: Wheeling and dealing in the lunch room

At our dinner at the Senior Tally-hos' house on Saturday, the Young Relative reported that his father has developed serious lunch-packing skills. His school lunch this past Thursday consisted of (he remembered every detail) a sandwich, on sourdough bread, of Muenster cheese and tomatoes; chocolate pudding with strawberries; pretzels; and his favorite peanut butter crackers.
"That lunch," declared the YR, "is legend."
The YR's awesome lunches have not gone unnoticed among his Patton cafeteria peers. Always one step ahead, he sees the potential to use Dad lunches as a bargaining chip in trades -- and not just for Butterscotch Krimpets like in my day, but for desirable Fantasy Football players.
At the end of our dinner, the Senior Tally-hos brought out some Asher's pretzels covered with dark chocolate, and the YR eagerly bit into one. He loved them and immediately convinced his father to include them in this week's lunch: "With these I should be able to get Aaron Rogers!"
By the way, the YR says the start of his school year, aside from the intrusive school-construction project, has been the best he can remember. Good news.

HOBBIES: Does not follow instructions well

I don't need to tell my fellow knitters what a humbling hobby it can be. I'm working on a sweet little cardigan sweater for a year-old girl. It is tiny but mighty challenging. I lost track of how many times I had to rip out the front band, where the buttons are sewn: either I was picking up stitches irregularly, or I overshot the mark and trespassed into the collar part. Imagine my pride when I finally got the darn thing just right, with the bottom of the band exactly matching the bottom of the sweater TO THE VERY ROW!
Then it was time to knit the other band, the one with the buttonholes. Piece of cake. I placed a marker at the top of where the band should go and hit it precisely. I kept track of the ribbing rows, comparing the width to the opposite band to make sure they matched. I started composing this Tilda item in my head as I knitted, trying to figure out how to make knitting terminology intelligible to a lay audience.
As it says in the Book of Proverbs, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall": I completely forgot to bind off for the buttonholes.
At least I'm getting really competent at ripping out.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Upcoming events at the Stroud Center

The Stroud Water Research Center is hosting a "moonlit stream stroll" for adults from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25. Director Bern Sweeney will lead a nature walk along the White Clay Creek, with "nibbles and a nightcap around the bonfire" to follow. No flashlights will be allowed!
And from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, the Young Friends of the Stroud Center will host "Stroud Uncorked," with a presentation by assistant director Dave Arscott, cocktails, music and hors d'oeuvres.
Tickets and more information are available at the Stroud Center's website.

WILLOWDALE: The Yellow House is no longer available

An observant reader pointed out that the sign for the Yellow House on Route 926 just east of the Willowdale crossroads is no longer there. I checked into this and found that apparently the place is no longer operating as a venue for wedding receptions, parties and other functions; it has reverted to being a private residence.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

NEW BOLTON: Yes, your horse can see in the dark

New Bolton's "First Tuesday" lecture series started off its season with a fascinating talk on equine vision by Dr. Catherine Nunnery, who is a large-animal ophthalmologist at the veterinary school. She discussed the physiology of the horse's eye and how it affects how the horse sees: for instance, the tapetum lucidum layer of the eye acts as a sort of mirror, allowing the horse to see better at night than humans do, and the oval pupil broadens the horse's field of view, allowing it to see prey from almost every angle. However, at the very edges of the field of view, the horse's vision is fuzzy and it recognizes only light and motion -- which is why a horse may spook at any movement, no matter how innocuous (e.g., a flapping plastic trash bag).
Dr. Nunnery used a panoramic photo of the entrance off Route 926 to New Bolton to illustrate the wide field of view. But horses have a narrow blind spot right in front of their heads, like a unicorn horn. She showed an amusing photo of a young rider trying to bond with her horse by getting up close -- but unfortunately, her  face was precisely in the horse's blind spot.
Dr. Nunnery said most horses have perfect to near-perfect vision, so the answer to everyone's question -- "Does my horse need glasses?" -- is almost always no. She showed a slide of a standard human eye chart and said she wished testing equine vision were that easy. She said they often use what is called the "Menace test," in which the vet moves a hand toward the horse's head and assesses the animal's reaction.
The talk was followed by numerous questions from the audience about UV fly masks, cataracts, what difference eye colors make, treating corneal ulcers, and much more. I love how articulate and enthusiastic the presenters are, and they make wonderful use of graphics.

AVONDALE: An outstanding dinner at Sake Hana

What a great meal we had at Sake Hana in Avondale on Monday night! Appetizers: shrimp tempura and seaweed salad. Entrees: seared salmon on a bed of delicious gingery greens, and tuna/avocado sushi rolls. Dessert: a chocolate ice cream ball with hazelnuts and whipped cream.
You absolutely don't need to be a sushi lover to enjoy this place; check out their menu on line if you doubt me. I've been urged to try the chicken satay appetizer on our next visit; and there will be a next visit, soon.
A special thank you to our waiter, Nick, who was cheerful, accommodating and professional.
I was happy to see that the place was doing a good business even on Labor Day evening.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

POST OFFICE: Looking for the owner of a deceased pigeon

The staff at the Kennett Square Post Office is looking for a pigeon fancier who might be missing one of his or flock. Alas, they have some bad news for you. It seems that a pigeon was hanging out in the parking lot behind the post office for a while and on Thursday met its demise underneath the tires of a large mail delivery truck.
A friend who works at the P.O. told me the staff noticed that the bird had a white band around one of its legs with the letters "LPC," and a red band around the other leg. They just wanted to try to track down the owner.
"We do ship homing pigeons for a customer on a regular basis. Wonder if one got loose and thought the PO was his home?" speculated my friend.

LIBRARY: Using Bayard Taylor's name to try to raise money

I received an annual appeal letter the other day from an institution calling itself the "Kennett Public Library." You'll recall that earlier this year, the library board changed its name from the "Bayard Taylor Memorial Library," prompting much outrage from the public (and from this columnist). I still have people coming up to me and saying how upset they are about the change, and some have even said they will refuse to give any money for that reason alone.
The board said they changed the name partly to reflect a forward-looking image instead of looking backward. Nonetheless, in their fundraising letter they mention Bayard Taylor several times, even stating that "A favorite son from the 1800's, local literary Bayard Taylor, would appreciate our efforts."

It seems he's good enough to use in the fundraising letter.

And was your letter personalized? Mine wasn't. I know when I was on the library board, we spent hours writing little personal notes on appeal letters, especially if the recipient was someone we knew and who had donated in the past.
The next library board meeting is Tuesday, September 15, at 7 p.m. at the library. No agenda has yet been posted online, but perhaps they'll discuss (1) their negotiations with the borough of Kennett Square to site the proposed new library on the Weinstein property on East State Street, just a few doors east of the current library, and (2) the results of the board's recently completed feasibility study assessing the likelihood that they'll be able to raise millions of dollars for the new library.

KENNETT YMCA: An upgrade for a heavily used facility

Doesn't the Kennett YMCA look spiffy? During the annual "shutdown week," among a lot of other upgrades, new lockers were installed, the wooden floors in the gym and the aerobics studios were resurfaced and the signage in the parking lot was tweaked (the directional arrows were repainted, but I'm sure people will still ignore them). The new blue lockers are nice, and I didn't realize how well worn the floors had gotten until my sneakers, knees and hands experienced the pristine, gleaming new surfaces.

LONDON GROVE: Part of the SECCRA landfill is being capped

Several local people have asked me what is going on at the SECCRA landfill in London Grove Township: huge black tarps are being laid down along the steep slopes and held in place with white sandbags.
What I learned is that a portion of the landfill is being "capped" or sealed off. The tarps, which block rainwater from getting into the full garbage "cells," will be covered with a layer of soil, and then grass and other plants with shallow roots will be planted. Underground pipes collect the methane gas that the decomposing garbage produces.
There is a lot more information online about the capping process for those who are curious, including a 700-page document, dense with legalese, that was prepared for the SECCRA project bidders.
I drive by the landfill frequently and am always amazed at how talented those heavy equipment operators are, piloting their giant machines along the landfill's terraces and steep slopes.
This is the part of the SECCRA landfill that is being capped.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

LONGWOOD GARDENS: Local clubs are sponsoring a flower show

Laurie Reynolds Taylor asked me to mention that her garden club, Spade and Trowel, along with The Country Gardens, Four Seasons Garden Club, and the Garden Class of the Woman’s Community Club of Uwchlan will be sponsoring a flower show at Longwood Gardens on September 19 and 20 in the Conservatory’s Exhibition Hall. 
Hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, September 19, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, September 20. "Don’t arrive before 1 pm on Saturday because the panel of judges will still be judging," she cautions.
There will be a class of "fascinators," those charming mini-hats that we love seeing at British weddings and royal events. There is also a Horticulture Division, a Design Division, a Photography Division, and a Youth Division called “Disney Land.”


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Police news and zoning permits

Not a lot happened at the September meeting of the West Marlborough Township board of supervisors. Supervisor Hugh Lofting Sr. said that the maintenance crews have been busy mowing the road banks and trying to keep the dust down on the township's gravel roads.
Township police officer Chief Robert Clarke reported that there were 14 incidents in the township in August (11 speeding tickets, two stop sign violations, and one unregistered vehicle), and he issued seven warnings.
Township engineer Al Giannantonio reported that the township's Zoning Hearing Board approved the installation of a generator at a house in the 500 block of Upland Road. Those homeowners also obtained permission to put in a three-car garage.
He also approved zoning permits for the construction of (1) a one-car garage at a house at Greenlawn Road and Route 841; (2) an addition to a Mosquito Lane house; and (3) a run-in shed, a farm shop, and a storage building at a Bartram Road farm. That homeowner's request to install three windmills is pending.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: This township meeting was bugged!

Thankfully, the West Marlborough Township supervisors meeting on Sept. 1 was a brief one. Because it was hot, the township garage in Doe Run (which serves as the board's meeting place) had its doors wide open. As soon as it got dark, thick swarms of gnats -- I mean, thousands of them -- invaded the place, attracted by the overhead lights, and crawled all over those of us in the audience. I flailed around with my reporter's notebook trying to smack them. Baz Powell, normally the gentlest of Quakers, pointed with pleasure to the pile of corpses she had swatted. The normally stoic mushroom farmer sitting next to me left early, and all the gnats that had been crawling on him turned their attention to me.
The instant the meeting ended, I escaped to the comparative darkness of the parking lot. Bizarrely, my first thought was of Erich Fromm's psychology book "Escape From Freedom," in which he contrasts negative freedom ("freedom from") with positive freedom ("freedom to"). Most definitely the former, in this case: freedom from gnats!

UNIONVILLE: A story about doing the right thing

Reading the news can get really depressing: violence, dreadful behavior, destruction.
And then there's a story like this.

Stephanie Boyer, in the blue coat, leads in the foxhounds before a Hunt Meet.

Stephanie Boyer, who whips for the Cheshire Hunt, was in the Unionville Post Office the other day and found an envelope on the floor. It contained about $2,500 in cash. She immediately turned it in to Postmaster Bill, who was able to trace the owner through a check that was inside the envelope.
The customer, who was incredibly relieved, was an elderly gentleman, a military veteran who still pays a lot of his bills in cash. He told Bill that recently a bank teller had given him twice the amount she was supposed to, and when he discovered the error he promptly returned the money. She, too, was incredibly relieved, as the error could have cost her her job.
This pair of vignettes kind of makes you think that there is something to the notion of "paying it forward," doesn't it.
Well done, Stephanie, and well done, elderly veteran. Kudos to Postmaster Bill for doing the legwork and sharing the story.