Saturday, October 31, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Sharpening the clipper blades

Hooray for Chip Miller and PJ Arnold, who had their heads shaved at The Whip on Thursday night to raise money for children's cancer research. Karen and Bob from Burton's Barber Shop in Kennett sheared the two of them, raising $600 in donations for the Children's Cancer Research Fund. I'm told the two have more fund-raising schemes up their sleeves.
PJ Arnold (left) and Chip Miller (right) had their heads shaved for charity.

KENNETT Y: Getting into the holiday

The Kennett Y went all out for Halloween this year, with lots of decorations, costumed staff and kids' parties. One of my instructors placed what looked like a severed foot strategically at the doorway to her classroom. And a giant black spider loomed over the lobby like something out of a Steven King horror novel. The mother of one toddler told me that her son was at first terrified of the arachnid -- but then was just as upset when they took it down.

CIRCLE GAME: Improving roundabout etiquette

A woman who lives near the Unionville roundabout on Route 82 came up to me at the Kennett Y on Monday and asked me to remind people that cars actually in the circle have the right of way and motorists who are entering the circle are required to yield. Apparently some drivers haven't quite internalized this notion yet (and I imagine the same applies to the Route 52 roundabout as well). She also stressed how helpful it is for drivers to use their turn signals to indicate to others which road they intend to take when leaving the circle.

MASONS: It's time for pancakes again!

Just the other day I was driving past Kennett Masonic Lodge 475 at Cypress and Center Streets and wondered whether it wasn't time for their famous pancake-and-sausage breakfast again. Sure enough: it will be held this coming Saturday, Nov. 7, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $8 for adults, $4 for kids. We went for the first time last November, and the pancakes were really excellent. My breakfast-mate and I devoured four each, plus sausage, coffee and orange juice.

LONGWOOD: Classes in art, gardening, landscape design and more

I just received Longwood Garden's "field guide" of courses and trips for the coming months, and what an intriguing assortment! Just a random sample of the classes includes botanical illustration, deciduous plants, flower arranging, pruning techniques, photography, and "the afterlife of trees"; they're even sponsoring visits to some private gardens and top-tier nurseries.
I saw several local people listed as instructors.
Aimee Olexy, owner of Talula's Table, is teaching a class on herbs. Kennett Square borough council member Dan Maffei is teaching landscape design (which is his profession). In a day-long program called "The World of Mushrooms," Jim Angelucci of Phillips Mushroom Farms will discuss the history of mushrooms in Kennett Square and my West Marlborough neighbor Jake Chalfin of Laurel Valley Soils will talk about repurposing mushroom compost. After a mushroom-themed lunch at the Terrace Restaurant, tours of Phillips and Basciani Foods are planned.

Friday, October 30, 2015

THORNDALE: A Mexican restaurant with a kaleidoscopic interior

We have great Mexican restaurants here in Kennett, but we decided to try a new place last weekend up in Thorndale en route to an Irish-music concert in Coatesville (multicultural much?). It's called Casa Herrera, and it is worth the trip for the d├ęcor alone. I was told it was "colorful" inside; what an understatement THAT was! Every surface of the restaurant is brightly painted and lavishly decorated with folk art. The zombies, skulls and other Halloween decorations were just the salsa on the tacos.
The food, you ask? My dinner partner and I both had shrimp dishes, and the shrimp were large, tender and perfectly cooked. Delicious! Prices were reasonable, our sweet waitress was cheerful and efficient, and the place was doing a good business by 7:30 p.m.
Casa Herrera, which is owned and run by former mushroom worker German Herrera and his family, opened early this year at 2755 Lincoln Hwy (Business Route 30) in Thorndale.

Monday, October 26, 2015

TASK FORCE: Library task force issues its mission statement

This information about the task force was released Oct. 26, and I reprint it verbatim. It is on the Kennett Township website.

"Kennett Township and Kennett Borough have created a Task Force in order to support the library in addressing community concerns and rebuilding community support for the library in order to be successful in building a new library.  

The other participating municipalities have been invited to join the Task Force. The library is an important asset to our entire community and we need to continue the support!

The mission of the Library Task Force (LTF) is to inform, enrich and educate the members of the community of the value of the Kennett Public Library aka Bayard Taylor Library (library). In accomplishing its mission, the LTF will create unified support and vision for the future of the library, establish financial transparency, create and formalize professional communication channels and assist the library in determining the appropriate location for a new library and seeing it through to completion. 
Goals of the LTF:
• Create and formalize communication channels
• Assist the library in determining the location of the new library and seeing it through to construction
• Establish financial transparency 
• Inform the public of the value of the library – PR
• Unified support and vision for the future of the library 
• One representative from each of the participating municipalities 
• One representative from the Library Board."

HERON: An unexpected sight in the side yard

We had a very welcome visitor on Sunday morning: a great blue heron, walking slowly and deliberately across the yard near a tiny creek. The majestic bird (Ardea herodias) was actually more gray than blue. I tried to get a photograph but couldn't get close enough: I didn't want to scare him off. He ended up walking farther along the little creek and out of sight.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

RED FACES: Two mortifying things that happened to other people

On Saturday I witnessed two embarrassing moments and my first reaction to both was, "thank goodness it wasn't me this time!"
Near the beginning of a memorial service, as everyone was settling into silence, a friend's cell phone rang. She manage to silence it after a few chimes, and it was funny to watch everyone else quickly putting a hand into pocket or purse to make sure their phones were muted, too.
And at intermission at an Irish music concert, a gentleman accidentally knocked an Orangina bottle off the counter onto a tile floor. It shattered, sending glass shards flying yards away. He asked the attendant for a broom and dustpan and swept it up. (His family kept pointing out small flecks of glass he missed.) After he finished he said, "I'm just going to crawl away now."

BELIN: More love for the Longwood Gardens cat

People are still writing to me to express how much they miss Belin, the beloved "ambassador cat" at Longwood Gardens, who died on Sept. 23. Belin made his home in the Peirce-du Pont House.
1. Reader Ann writes: "I was so pleased that you put the Belin story in your column.  He had a wonderful personality, if he felt like it , he would meow back a good morning.   As a regular morning walker I miss him. " (She added, much to my delight: "Keep up the Library Story, maybe we can get our name back?")
2. "We always made the time to stop by and see Belin each time we came to the gardens. Inside or outside, he always loved a good chin scratch and we loved giving him the attention. We were saddened today to find out he has crossed the rainbow bridge. We will miss you Belin, you were special!"
3. "Dear Belin, We will miss you. You were always there for us when we visited. Love,
MiMi and PaPa."

ARTISANS: Church of the Advent will host a fair

Episcopal Church of the Advent member Gaila Ciccarone wrote to me about an artisan fair that the church will be hosting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14: "The fair will showcase local artisans and their specialty creations including: handcrafted jewelry, sculpture and tile ceramics, fused glass pieces, custom painted furniture, original mixed media artwork and pottery, textiles, photography, and much more."
The artists will be at the event to discuss their work. Admission is free, and the church is at 401 N. Union St. in Kennett. The website is

HADLEY: Elliot Engel will give a lecture on wine

Historian Elliot Engel is returning to Kennett Square on Saturday, Nov. 7, to give his 16th Hadley Fund lecture. This year he'll be talking about "The History and Mystery of Wine": "Dr. Engel will trace the phenomenal ancient origins of wine and continue the story through the wide and often wild popularity of wine today."
You may recall that last year Dr. Engel explained to us how Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol" changed the modern conception of Christmas -- as well as the greeting card and publishing industries.
Professor Engel is an excellent speaker, with the impeccable timing of a stand-up comedian. He is also very popular, so I suggest getting to the talk early. It will start at 3 p.m. at Kennett Friends Meeting. As with all Hadley Fund programs, admission is free.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

TUFFIES: Looking for some info on this pennant

My friend Joan is looking for information about this handsome "Toughkenamon" pennant that someone donated to the New Garden Township Historic Commission.

"I want to get it framed to hang in our history room In the NG Twp. building and would like to be able to put the information with it. I thought if you would mention it in the Tilda Tally Ho column we might have a good chance that someone will recognize it and provide its history."
Joan also posted a photo of the pennant on the "You Know You're from Kennett Square" Facebook page and some readers said it may have been for the "Tuffies" baseball team, which played in the 1940s. Another person recalled that "After the War, Toughkenamon and Kennett Square played an annual Thanksgiving Day football game. It was quite a big deal locally. I'll take a guess and suggest this: That pennant dates from the football rivalry."
Readers, does anybody have any more information? Let me know at if you do!

SCHOOL BOARD: Looking for a new school board member

Keith Knauss' recent resignation has created a vacancy on the Unionville-Chadds Ford school board for a resident of East or West Marlborough Township. You can get an application from the Superintendent's Office (call 610-347-0970, ex. 3315); pick one up at the District Office weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.; or download one from the district website. Applications are due by noon on Friday, Nov. 6 The board will interview candidates at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9, and will name the new board member at their meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16.

Friday, October 23, 2015

COOKIES: Really good and easy to bake

If you're looking for a terrific autumn cookie, here's my blue ribbon-winning recipe for ginger cookies. The bones of the recipe come from "Philadelphia" magazine probably 15 years ago. I adapted it when my neighbor was having oral surgery and I wanted to make him a cookie with a softer texture.
People have told me that this is not only the best cookie they've ever had, but the best food of any sort they've ever ingested in their entire lives.
Let me know how it turns out for you. I use standard store brands for the ingredients unless noted.

1. In a small bowl mix 2 C flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 2.5 tsp ground ginger (McCormick's), 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cloves.

2. Melt 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter in microwave. In a large bowl, add the butter to 1-1/8 C white sugar. Add 1 standard-size egg (local of course!), 1/4 C molasses (Brer Rabbit mild flavor), 3/4 tsp vanilla extract.

3. Beat with electric mixer and add the dry ingredients. Make sure all flour is incorporated (otherwise you will have weird markings on cookies).

4. Let the batter stand to thicken for a few minutes.

5. Form batter into balls (about 1 T each) and drop onto cookie sheets covered with parchment paper (this is key to the cookies' appearance). They spread, so space them widely! 

6. Bake on top rack (in my quirky oven, at least) at 350 degrees. The timing is critical. If you want them to be chewy, bake for 9-10 minutes. For crunchier, bake for 12 minutes.

7. No special cooling protocol.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

STATION 36: Come out and help the volunteer fire company

I had a terrific tour of the Po-Mar-Lin firehouse on Monday night, thanks to firefighter Rob Mastrippolito and his mother, Robin. Rob showed me the company's vehicles (which are much bigger when you're standing next to them!) and some of the heavy-duty tools of the trade. I took off my boots and tried on some bunker gear, which is really heavy and bulky (of course, photos of me showed up on Facebook within minutes). I can't imagine climbing up a ladder in it; these are some crazy strong people!
Rob also demonstrated a very cool smartphone app that the firefighters can use to signal they're on their way to the station in case of a call; a list of those who are en route shows up on a screen, which helps make the company's response as efficient as possible.
Every Monday at 7 p.m. is "work night" at the station, and I was pleased to see so many young men and women showing up (and what a nice bunch they seemed!). Robin asked me to spread the word that the company is always looking for more volunteers. "Even if they just show up to ask questions about what commitment is involved, training, etc.," she said.

LIBRARY: Seems to be a disconnect here

It was a little surreal sitting at the Bayard Taylor Library board meeting on Oct. 20, listening to the board members talk with great excitement about architects, land deals, appraisals, and so forth -- when they just got pretty much the most negative feasibility study possible, telling them there was no way they were ready to start a capital campaign.
The only part of the feasibility study the board seems to be paying attention to is the consultant's recommendation to embark on a massive communication program. The board seems confident that hiring a communications person and doing some newsletters, emails and focus groups will do the trick in terms of improving their tarnished reputation and winning back support from the community.
Board President Susan Mackey-Kallis said, "If we show a commitment that we're serious about moving forward, if we send that message, that might be the way to show we're past the back-and-forth, back-and-forth."
At the meeting John Cacciola of the Aegis Property Group gave a presentation about steps needed to get the building project for the new library moving. He talked about the positive discussions he has had with officials from Kennett Square borough over the Weinstein property on East State Street (the latest site the library is eyeing for its new building). It all sounded great -- except for the key caveat that the board seemed to skip over: "assuming funding is positive along the way."
I don't want to sound churlish, but that's a big "if."
I heard no hint among the board members that they really "heard" the negative statements about the board and its chances for raising millions of dollars that came out loud and clear in the feasibility study. I didn't hear, "Wow! We really need to take a look at how we messed up."
Instead there were optimistic discussions about when to put the Waywood site back on the market, when to embark on the "silent phase" of the fundraising campaign, and whether the board should use Dropbox to share documents among themselves.

LIBRARY: The historic clock will stay at a board member's house

Some good news came out of the Bayard Taylor Library meeting on Oct. 20: it seems as if the 1911 Wanamaker clock, donated to the library by the Darlington family, is in a safe place.
Board Vice President Karen Ammon said the clock had to be removed from the library during renovations. She had the clock moved to her house and tuned up by The Moon Dial. The board agreed that it should stay at the Ammon home until a suitable and safe place could be found for it back at the library.
Karen Darlington Halstead, whose uncle donated the clock, said she was satisfied with the outcome. She wrote:
"I have faith that the Darlington family clock will be in safe hands until a new home is found. Karen has been in touch with me to keep me in the loop. She had the clock moved professionally to her home temporarily. My uncle envisioned the clock to be a centerpiece of the other historical artifacts stored within to keep the history of Kennett Square alive and relevant." 
Ms. Ammon said she was concerned that the fate of the clock had become a contentious issue on social media, adding to the library's PR problems.
(May I offer a suggestion on how the situation should have been handled? As soon as the library became aware that people were getting upset, someone from the board should've jumped in immediately and said, look, here's where the clock is, it's being taken care of, there is nothing underhanded going on. Instead the only reaction was a statement from the library director saying the discussion shouldn't be taking place on social media.)
The bigger issue, of course, is the perception among the public that a board that would strip Bayard Taylor's name from the library has no respect for, interest in, and even knowledge about the library's history and heritage. Unfortunately, that perception was reinforced at the end of the Board meeting on Tuesday, when the board members admitted they have no idea what is in the library's valuable historic collection, which was painstakingly gathered over the years by former library director Joe Lordi. Ms. Ammon did said she plans to reach out to Mr. Lordi and former library board Bill Landmesser to learn about the collection. Gold star, belatedly. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

FORMS: A bumper sticker beyond my comprehension

There's a great line in Kingsley Amis's dated but still funny novel "Lucky Jim": "Dixon fell silent again, reflecting, not for the first time, that he knew absolutely nothing whatsoever about other people or their lives." (A friend had just told him that "of course" she informed her husband about her infidelity.)
I was reminded of that this morning at the Kennett Y when I saw the following bumper sticker: "Read the forms, yo!"
My first thought was the "Daily Racing Form," but that hallowed periodical is singular, not plural.
Then I thought of concrete forms; perhaps the advice was directed to construction workers (hence the Philadelphia idiom "yo")?
Or was it "tax forms" that were meant? Was the car driven by a tax lawyer fed up with his lazy clients?
Of course I Googled the phrase, but nothing popped up. Baffling.

MEMORIAL: A fitting service for Brian Shultz

It was standing room only at London Grove Meeting on Thursday for Brian Shultz's memorial service. Brian worked for Waste Oil Recyclers, that merry and close-knit band of good folks based in "Mogreena," and I'm guessing not much used oil was collected that afternoon, given how many of his colleagues came to pay their respects.
Brian's son Dan and daughter-in-law Jen were both so eloquent as they talked about Brian's values and spirituality. Dan read from Psalm 42 and from a young adult book that he said spoke powerfully to him, "The Monster in the Hollows" from Andrew Peterson's Wingfeather Saga.
The stories that Brian's friends shared at the service were so colorful: about a porcupine head he offered, quite sincerely, as a gift; about the office bathroom he built, complete with revealing windows; and about the large snakes he kept at his home. The common thread was his love for nature and what a loyal, generous friend he was. And how very much he will be missed.

SICK BAY: Sharing his hospital stay

Not too many years ago, lists of the local hospital's admissions, discharges, and births were a staple of many small-town newspapers. How that has changed with the advent of the Internet!
Lars, a friend who lives in downtown Kennett, shared the whole trajectory of his bout with diverticulitis via Facebook, from his excruciating abdominal pain and worrisome diagnostic uncertainty, through his admission, imaging and surgery at Jennersville Regional Hospital, to his happy return home. We heard about his NPO status and his almost overpowering longing for a Sonic Cherry Limeade, and we read his entertaining comments about his pain relievers of choice (alas, not on the hospital's formulary).
As soon as he got home, he shared his gratitude to the caregivers at Jennersville, to his new wife, and to his friends at Kennett Meeting.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

DENTISTS: An unpalatable policy

If you read this column regularly, you know that I'm not crazy about making changes in my life. For instance, when I see a "new and improved" label on my cereal or detergent, I'm not a happy camper.
But I said good-bye without a bit of hesitation when my dentist, whom I've seen faithfully twice a year since the late 1980s, announced that I was no longer welcome in the practice unless I submitted to yearly x-rays.
I've had one cavity in my entire life, and suddenly they claim they really can't treat me adequately without annual x-rays? Hmmmm. And they found that one tiny cavity how? By poking it with a pointy stick. No x-rays involved.
It makes you wonder what's behind this new and apparently widespread policy: concerns about liability and lawsuits? dicta from insurance companies? Even the American Dental Association recommends x-rays only every two or three years for those of us with good teeth and good hygiene.
Not to mention the radiation involved, and, yes, the cost. I absolutely don't mind spending time and money on preventive care that I consider valuable. But I think this is unnecessary overtreatment, and the whole situation makes me feel used. I also don't like the fact that the dentist delegated to the hygienist the onerous task of informing patients about this policy change.
As consumers we're told that an important part of containing health-care costs in this country is asking questions and making informed choices about treatment rather than submitting to cookie-cutter-style medicine (or dentistry). Well, that's what I'm doing.
Let me know if your dentist's office has instituted a similar policy, and what your reaction is. Based on the reactions I got on social media, dentists are at risk of losing a lot of patients over this:
1. "We left our family dentist for the same reason; also because so many of the heavily pitched services seemed to be designed to generate income."
2. "They did same thing at my dentist's office. I told them I would not come in if they required that. Dentist agreed that it would not be required. Really, once a year is just too much!"
3. "My longtime dentist retired a few years ago. The new guy installed tons of new equipment, started charging more for everything, and insists on panoramic x-rays, which I have avoided thus far. I'm looking for a new dentist before my next appointment, too."
4. "Sad when Drs and dentists do hard-sell one-size-fits-all work," said another friend, whose husband and kids joined her in leaving their dentist after he insisted on yearly x-rays. "We don't go to a dentist to pay off the equipment debt," she said. 

LONGWOOD: Nightscape is closing soon

Just a heads up that Longwood Gardens' amazing Nightscape light-and-sound show ends at the end of this month. If you haven't gone, I recommend it highly: we thought it was really magical and a great couple's night out. You'll hear a lot of people talking about the big display by the lake, where the projected lights make it look like that the trees are progressing through the seasons, but I thought the trippy indoor Palm House display was just as cool and a lot more intimate.
My favorite part of the show, though, was the more playful topiary garden display, where the bushes seemed to change into yurts, stone idols, rotating tractor tires, and then ranks of blaring horns, all set to the rhythm of pulsing tribal music.
Don't miss taking a look at the main fountain renovation project. I knew it was a major work in progress, but somehow it didn't occur to me the massive amount of earthmoving that would be involved. There's an information kiosk on the terrace overlooking the fountain garden that tells you all about the fountain project, which is slated for completion in 2017.

INJURIES: An unfortunate return to the saddle

A friend reports that she was getting her mail at the Unionville post office when she encountered a fellow customer walking with a crutch. The postal employee told the patron that her black eye looked much better than the last time she'd been in.
"Let me guess," said my friend to the injured woman. "A riding accident?"
The woman looked amazed.
"How did you know?" she gasped.
"Oh, just a wild guess," said my friend.
The woman shared the story of what happened: THE VERY FIRST TIME she'd gotten on a horse after a 20-year hiatus, she'd gotten bucked off and broke her pelvis.

Friday, October 16, 2015

TOUGHKENAMON: Three cheers for New Garden!

My friend Joan is looking for information about this handsome "Toughkenamon" pennant that someone donated to the New Garden Historic Commission.

"I want to get it framed to hang in our history room In the NG Twp. building and would like to be able to put the information with it.I thought if you would mention it in the Tilda Tally Ho column we might have a good chance that someone will recognize it and provide its history."
Readers, does anybody have any information? Let me know at if you do!

SPORTS: A scholar, an athlete and a gentleman

Yesterday afternoon I watched the Young Relative win a Patton Middle School athletic competition (I don't want to "out" him by being more specific). He did an awesome job, came up and gave me a sweaty hug after the race, and I didn't think any one human being could possibly be any prouder of another -- until I saw him go up to the boy who finished behind him, shake his hand, and say, "You gave me a run for my money!"
Sportsmanship is alive and well, at least in the amateur leagues.
While walking across the field to the competition, I passed the middle-school football team practicing. They had to do a bear crawl up a steep slope, in their full gear, while the coaches stood at the top watching.
"Come on!" called out one coach. "You can dog it when you're old!"
I can't wait to share that one with my Y teacher.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

LIBRARY: A Curiosity Creates grant for children's programs

While the Bayard Taylor Library's Board may be dysfunctional, the library staff is soldiering on nonetheless and still managing to provide excellent services to the public.
In fact, the library recently received a "Curiosity Creates" grant from a program that Disney funds through the Association for Library Service to Children. Seventy-nine grant applications were funded out of more than 400 applications. Other Pennsylvania winners were the Carnegie Free Library of Beaver Falls; the Free Library of Philadelphia's Kensington Neighborhood Library; the Lillian Marrero Neighborhood Library; the Monroeville Public Library; the Reading Public Library; and the Widener Neighborhood Library.
(I couldn't help noticing that the grant was awarded in the name of the "Bayard Taylor Memorial Library" rather than the "Kennett Public Library.")

CLUELESS: The path not taken

Apparently some people manage to reach middle age without the experience of pushing an injured or ill friend or relative in a wheelchair. We were at an event last night and the woman behind us said peevishly to her friend, "Why are those people being allowed to take a shortcut?"
To his credit, my companion turned around and said, "Because they're in wheelchairs, and wheelchairs have a hard time on gravel."
"Oh," she said, possibly aware of how insensitive she was being. "Oh. Well then that makes sense, I guess."

Sunday, October 11, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A fundraising party for young adults at the Stroud Center

The Young Friends Committee at the Stroud Water Research Center hosted "Stroud Uncorked" this past Friday night. Emily Scott, one of the organizers, told me that the goal of the event was not only to raise money for freshwater research but also to "introduce a younger demographic to the world of freshwater research and stream restoration. It was a celebration of environmental stewardship and the amazing scientific work being done by the Stroud Center."

The Stroud Center in West Marlborough held a fundraiser on Oct. 9.

As they arrived, guests got their very own Klean Kanteen stainless-steel drinking cup in an effort to cut down on waste at the party. Dave Arscott, Ph.D., the center's assistant director, gave an introductory talk before the guests tucked into the food and drink.

Emily sent along a mouth-watering list of the refreshments. Food was from Archie’s, Buck Run Farm, The Cake Crafter, Eclat chocolates, Landhope Farms, Sovana Bistro, The Whip Tavern and Yo’r So Sweet. Beer and booze were from Dogfish Head Distillery, Evil Genius Brewing Company, Galer Estate, Kennett Brewing Company, Victory Brewing Company, Yards Brewery and Tito's Handmade Vodka.
Sponsors for the party were Labware, Fusco Enterprises, Legal Internet Solutions Incorporated, Studio 882 Furniture + Design, and Gross Realty.

DOWN EAST: Reading another weekly newspaper

My friend Emily, who keeps Dr. Renny Sardella's optometry office humming in Willowdale, spent part of her summer Down East and brought me back a charming weekly paper from Damariscotta, Maine, full of homey news, minutely detailed reports from the police and courts, and ads from upscale art galleries and seafood restaurants. The photos of the Midcoast Maine "cottages" for sale are especially impressive.
Emily said she thought one particular column in the paper would amuse me. It's written by a woman who lives in a retirement home and chronicles her every activity, mostly related to doctor's appointments, ailments, and meals. She refers to her husband "my sweetheart," which I found endearing.
At the other end of the spectrum, one of her fellow columnists is a retired economist who writes an erudite column about investing and economic history. It's so well written and lengthy it's hard to believe he cranks one out every week.
There's also a cooking column called "Ponder and Stir" that blends nostalgia and recipes. In the column I read, the author shares her mother's "kitchen motto": "Cast your bread upon the water -- and it may come back with peanut butter and jelly."

UNIONVILLE: Congrats to one of Po-Mar-Lin's own

Congratulations to Unionville's own John "Jackie" Weer, who was named Chief Fire Marshal by Chester County's Department of Emergency Services. John is a past chief and a current trustee of the Po-Mar-Lin Fire Company (Station 36).
According to the press release from the county, John has served since 2008 as the county's assistant chief fire marshal. "His responsibilities have included assisting Chester County fire and police departments, along with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office and Pennsylvania State Police with fire scene investigations. John also supervised and administered the Chester County Juvenile Fire Setters program. John started his career with DES in 1988 as a Hazardous Materials Response Team member. In 1994, he went on to serve as Fire/Rescue Training Coordinator where his primary role was the coordination of all training logistics for fire first responders in Chester County."
John's father is East Marlborough Township supervisor Bob Weer.


PLUMBING: An indoor rain shower

My pal George tends to be something of an alarmist. I get texts from him saying he's worried about a bad weather forecast, or he's feeling symptoms that might indicate a cold is coming on, or his favorite gym class was cancelled at the last minute.
But this one seemed to indicate a true calamity: "Had big leak from upstairs condo. Bathroom ceiling wrecked."
I envisioned a gaping hole in the ceiling with soggy rubble, or worse, all over his bathroom. But as I questioned him further, it turned out things were not as bad as expected. By extremely good fortune, the leak had sprung directly over top of George's bathtub, and minimal replastering was the only repair that would be needed.
"Their landlord came to see the damage," he wrote in a follow-up. "He's put me in touch with his insurance people. He was very apologetic."
I'll bet he was!

SEASONS: Sure signs that autumn is here

I don't know what this bodes in terms of the harshness of the coming winter, but I have never seen so many pine cones falling from the white pines in my back yard. Last autumn there were very few; this year I'm tripping over them and bringing sticky, turpentine-smelling sap into the house on my shoes.
Black walnuts are hammering down on my roof, and I've seen a few yellow-green Osage orange fruits on the road ready to be run over.
Another sign of fall is stink bugs, but there have been just a few of them inside my house. They are so logy that it's easy to trap them (I use the Zip-Loc bag method).

NEWLIN: Dog, found

On Sunday morning at Foxy Loxy, I ran into a very relieved Carol McHarg. She had just located her Yorkshire terrier, Stuart, who had gone missing on a walk at the Cheslen Preserve.
Carol told me that after Stuart ran off she returned to her car, thinking maybe he had headed there. No luck. She asked two passersby if they had seen Stuart, and one of them said yes. They retraced their steps to a wooded area where he'd been spotted, and indeed the terrified Stuart was still there. The black-and-tan dog was barely visible because he blended in so well with the background.
As they walked back to the parking lot, Carol learned that the woman who helped her find him was a professional dog tracker.
"What are the odds?" Carol marveled.
Carol's other canine, William, is just the opposite of the tiny Yorkie: he is a Scottish deerhound!

Friday, October 9, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Stop the presses: a full parking lot at the Whip!

It's been months since you read about the Whip in this column, but the Springdell tavern's perennial parking problems came to the attention of the West Marlborough Township supervisors once again at their Oct. 6 monthly meeting.
A resident who lives near the pub told the board that patrons are ignoring the "no parking" regulations and are parking along Route 841 because the parking lot is full. The parking problem is especially acute when rugby tournaments and steeplechases are being broadcast inside the tavern.
Supervisors Chairman Bill Wylie said the supervisors were well aware of the ongoing problems, and the township's solicitor is discussing the situation with the Whip's attorneys.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: The monthly facts and figures

Here are the regular monthly reports that were presented at the West Marlborough Township meeting on Oct. 6.
Township engineer Al Giannantonio said he received a zoning application from a Springdell resident to build a shed on his property in the 1300 block of North Chatham Road (Route 841), next to the Whip tavern. The application is pending.
Building inspector Eddie Caudill reported that he did one inspection, a garage being built at Newark and Upland Roads.
Police Chief Robert Clarke said that in September he wrote six speeding tickets, one stop-sign violation, one no-passing violation, nine parking tickets, and five warnings and conducted one investigation.
And supervisor Hugh Lofting reported that the township road crew has been working on installing piping on Thouron Road, a project for which the township received a grant, and are mowing and getting the equipment ready for winter.

NEW GARDEN: Now that's what I call funny

On Newark Road this morning, near Toughkenamon, I saw a white work truck from Tedco Insulation of Kennett Square with the slogan, "We Itch for Your Business!" Cleverest slogan I've seen in a long time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A new meaning to "mowing the grass"

Police Chief Robert Clarke shared a vivid account of some on-the-job gardening he did in West Marlborough on Sept. 30.
"Clarkie" told me he got a call from Jamie Hicks, who was cutting corn on the west side of Newark Road across from Archie's restaurant and was surprised to find some marijuana plants in the middle of the field.
Clarkie arrived at the scene and uprooted the healthy green pot plants, the tallest of which was six and a half feet. He bundled them into garbage bags, took them back to the East Marlborough Township building and asked township roadmaster Dennis Mellinger to destroy them with a Kubota lawn mower. Dennis was glad to oblige, running over them repeatedly while Clarkie recorded the scene on his phone.
"Here's what I don't get," Clarkie mused. "They knew the corn was gonna be cut down. Why didn't they just get out there and harvest their stuff?"
(One friend of mine predicted that avid potheads would be scouring the East Marlborough Township property with their Dustbusters to scavenge the ground-up dope.)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

THE FAIR: Soggy and cold but still a great tradition

This year's Unionville Community Fair was cold, wet, and windy -- but still awesome in my book.
The Denim & Diamonds opening-night party had great food: mushroom soup from the Kennett Square Inn, pulled pork from Hood's BBQ, salad from Kendal/Crosslands Communities, shrimp and grits from The Gables in Chadds Ford, flatbreads from Sovana Bistro, a glorious cake by Vanessa Ross Cakes, and butlered hors d'oeuvres by Triple Fresh (with Doe Run cheese). The drinks were from Paradocx Vineyard, Victory Brewing and Waywood Beverage. Everything was so well done that it was hard to believe it was only Michele Berardi's first year running the party.
I had fun seeing my "Fair Friends," including this year's Fair honoree, Dave Salomaki. The students from the Pennock's Bridge Technical College High School who printed out the entry tags were wonderfully efficient and amusing, drinking jumbo-size energy drinks and eating Landhope subs as they worked.
The judging day was Thursday, and it was fun to watch the students from Longwood Gardens judging the flowers and vegetables, poring over the specimens as carefully as pathologists. (I got dinged for my amaranth's foliage, and my pumpkin was completely out of the ribbons.)
This year I was the volunteer director of one of the baked goods areas, and we got a terrific number of entries, most of them of high caliber. My judges, three professionals in the food industry, spent two hours taste-testing the various breads, cookies, muffins, and candies and debating their merits. They had no trouble deciding on the best-of-show winner, though: a creamy chocolate fudge that looked and tasted like heaven.
There were a couple of conspicuous absences at the Fair this year (other than the parade and rodeo, which were casualties of the Nor'Easter). We missed Vincent Sun's beautiful flowers and garden produce (he told me he felt like he was monopolizing the competition, having won the overall David J. Whenry Award several times running) and Jared Murphy's chocolate cookies (he had the nerve to age out of the contest).
Congrats to all the Fair volunteers. What a huge undertaking!

EAST MARLBOROUGH: The beginnings of the "Walnut Walk" development

The old mushroom houses in the 500 block of North Walnut Street, East Marlborough Township, are now just a pile of rubble, razed to make way for "Walnut Walk," a Bentley Homes townhouse development. There's a marketing trailer on the site now. According to the website, prices start at $350,000 and the first new units are expected to be complete in early 2016.
The website mentions the development's proximity to downtown Kennett Square, the Kennett Golf & Country Club, Anson B. Nixon Park, Longwood Gardens, and the Galer Estate Vineyard, as well as the fact that it's in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District.

Mushroom houses were razed to make room for the "Walnut Walk" development.

LONGWOOD: An outpouring of love for Belin

I want to share with you a few of the sweet comments I've received about Belin, the beloved "ambassador cat" at Longwood Gardens, who died on Sept. 23. Belin made his home in the Peirce-du Pont House.
1. "I used to give Belin a belly scratch every morning on my walk. I thought maybe he was spending some leisure time in the house on one of his favorite pieces of furniture. I'll miss you old buddy."
2. "Belin, we have five wonderful cats. We know all about all the different kinds of cat personalities. You were something special, Belin. We'll never forget you. You will be missed❤️."
3. "I loved that guy. He reminded me of my Jackson Browne tabby that I lost almost 7 years ago. RIP, Belin, I'm glad you didn't suffer. You brought a lot of joy to LG visitors."
4. "Belin would saunter over and hang out with me while I worked. Another great cat for me to be glad I met."
5. "Such a lovely part of the Longwood experience! Peace, Belin."

Belin, the beloved Longwood Gardens cat, died Sept. 23.

ADDICTION: A memorial service for a friend's husband

On Friday night I went to a moving memorial service for a friend's husband, and I was glad the speakers didn't shy away from talking about the illness that killed him at age 59: alcoholism. Fortunately the stigma of alcoholism has been reduced these days: I remember when newspaper stories would refer to someone as "an admitted alcoholic," as if it was some kind of an embarrassing moral failing rather than a devastating addictive disease.
One of the speakers at the service urged those present to contact someone if they thought they might have a drinking problem -- perhaps their physician or a self-help group like AA. "You are not alone," he said, emotion breaking through his words as he talked about the critical importance of seeking support.

PERKINS: A fundraiser to benefit the East Marlborough Auxiliary

Marie O'Brien asked me to share this information about a fundraiser at Perkins restaurant in Avondale that the East Marlborough Auxiliary of the Chester County Hospital is sponsoring. It will be on Monday, October 19, from 4 to 8 p.m.
"We'd love for lots and lots of folks to come out and enjoy dinner at Perkins that evening," she writes. "Cost is just the normal cost of  dinner. Not a dime extra!! All you have to do is let your waitress know that you are there to support the Chester County Hospital, and Perkins will donate a portion of their profit to the hospital."
Marie also adds that "the Auxiliary is open to new members. We'd love for folks to join the organization, make new friends and participate in activities to support the hospital. Anyone interested in joining the Auxiliary can call  Pres. Barbara Roney. She can be reached at 610 444-1402."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

EMAIL: Premature patting myself on the back

At breakfast the other day I was bragging to a friend that I'd received a nice compliment from a business associate: he said I was always incredibly prompt at responding to emails, even if I just send a confirmation that the email has been received.
Then I got home and found an email from my friend Amy: she "just wanted to check" if I had received the email she'd sent the previous week about RSVPing to a social event. I had received it. I hadn't replied.
I thanked her for shrinking my ego back to a more appropriate size.

LIBRARY: Study shows a profound mistrust of the library board

I've gotten some complaints that I've been too hard on the Bayard Taylor Library board: after all, they're volunteers, doing their best, the argument goes.
Compared to some of the comments made in the feasibility study commissioned by the Board, I sound like a fawning yes-woman.
"People who move into an area have their own opinions and seek to impose their beliefs without much in-depth sensitivity as to what the BTL meant to the community. They don't have a clue," said one person who was interviewed.
"People love a winner. And the library has loser written all over it," commented another.
Even the firm that did the survey, MacIntyre Associates, said, in an underlined paragraph, "The comments we recorded point to a perception among respondents that the Kennett Public Library's volunteer leadership has not kept in touch with its base of support and has not partnered with the communities it serves to fulfill the "public" part of its mission and its societal contract."
Perhaps the most jaw-dropping sentence came in the recommendations section of the report: "The current Board President and Vice-President need to consider withdrawing from Board leadership."
Wow. That's a gutsy statement to make to the people who are signing your paycheck!
The Board, in its cover letter to the study, said that people who wanted to read the report would have to come into the library and read a copy that was there; it emailed a copy only to the municipalities in its service area. So much for the consultant's strong recommendation for "a massive communications strategy" with the public! However, I managed to get a PDF copy and put it up online for your convenience:
(The "redacted" means they took out people's names.)

Oh, the irony! The Board is trying to strip "Bayard Taylor" from the Library's name.