Sunday, November 29, 2015

HERR'S: Bright lights, and lots of them

The spectacular Christmas light display at Herr's in Nottingham is well worth the trip down the Route 1 bypass. Hundreds of shrubs and trees throughout the potato-chip factory's large campus are decorated with lights. I felt like I was in downtown Who-ville as we drove through (the route is very well marked; at one turn a huge gingerbread man points the way). It's enchanting, and odds are good we'll be making a second trip.
And in the non-Christmas department, I chuckled when I saw a pedestrian-crossing sign in which the pedestrian stick figure was carrying -- you guessed it, a bag of Herr's potato chips.

FATHER DENNY: Kennett loses a downtown fixture

Downtown Kennett Square has lost one of its beloved fixtures: Dennis Van Thuyne, better known as Father Denny, died on Saturday, Nov. 28, at age 64.
Father Denny outside his State Street second-hand store in 2011.

Father Denny organized a bike helmet drive for kids in 2009.

A former priest at St. Patrick's in Kennett many years ago, Fr. Denny suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2005 when he was mugged in Philadelphia. He returned to Kennett and opened his second-hand store, the Kennett General Store, so that he could raise funds to help support fellow victims.
On Sunday, as word spread about his unexpected death, tributes to Father Denny poured in. People shared stories about what a kind and pleasant man he was, always ready with a gentle smile for children and a treat for dogs. It seemed that whenever I walked or drove past his shop, he was standing outside in an apron, doing little chores, puttering with the plants in his windowboxes and ready to strike up a conversation with anyone who passed by.
"Kennett Square won't be the same without him," commented one friend. "He always gave me hope when talking to him about my health issues. Our niece was in a horrible car accident several years ago and suffered a traumatic brain injury; my husband and I were in the store one time and he told us his story and we told him about our niece. He was so helpful in explaining the effects of a TBI and really helped us to understand better what she was going through."
Hal Lewis, who used to own H & R Auto in town, recalled that he "had many good talks with Father Denny at my shop, he stopped by every day...he will be missed."
Said another friend of his:."Look for flowers from Saint Theresa, he loved Saint Theresa! Told me lots about her. He was really smart about a lot of things. Never minded giving him whatever was in my purse/pocket for his cause." 
May he rest in peace.

, .

Saturday, November 28, 2015

LIGHTS: She doesn't love a parade

So there I was at the Kennett Y on Friday evening, looking out the windows forlornly and watching tractors and farm equipment festooned with strings of lights getting lined up for Kennett's annual Holiday Light Parade down State Street.
I opted to miss the parade only because the Friday night gym class is one of my absolute favorites. It caused me pain to see Chris Barber's wonderful photos of the parade online (doubtless you'll see them elsewhere in the paper this week, too).
One woman in my gym class had no such regrets, though: She hates parades, she announced.
I stared at her, speechless at this heresy. She explained that as a child, she and her family went on vacation to Disney World, and her older siblings got to ride the rides but she was only allowed to watch the parade. Ever since, she has loathed parades.
"What's the point?" she said, with great animation. "You stand there and wave at people. 'I don't know you, but hi there! Hi!'"
I told her she really needs to come and watch one of Kennett Square's blockbuster Memorial Day parades. If that doesn't change her opinion, nothing will.

OLEN GRIMES: Let's help out a really nice guy

Odds are really good that you know Olen Grimes. He's a pillar in the downtown Kennett Square business community, a super-friendly, high-energy guy who owns the ArtWorks gallery and its Union Street neighbor, the My Polished nail salon.
Olen was in a bad car accident on Nov. 11 and broke his left hip, leg, ankle and foot. He's going to need multiple surgeries and an extended period of physical therapy. Besides the health implications, this is catastrophic news for someone who's a small business owner.
We pride ourselves on our close-knit community and how we pitch in to help others in trouble. Here's your turn to join me in walking the walk. Support Olen's businesses while he's out of commission, and donate to the online GoFundMe account that his fellow Rotarian Matt Grieco has set up to help Olen and his family with their medical bills and lost income. (As I'm writing this, 33 people have donated in the four days the site has been active.)
I miss seeing Olen at My Polished, which is where I get my nails done. He pops in, sits down in a pedicure chair for split second to talk to me (usually town politics, or what I think of his latest improvement to the shop), then jumps up to answer the phone or ring up a customer before rushing back down the street to his gallery.

Olen Grimes at his ArtWorks Gallery on Union Street.

THE HUNT: A Unionville tradition

The traditional Thanksgiving morning hunt of Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds could not have gone better had it been stage-managed. It was a remarkably warm morning (good for us spectators but not so good for the hunt; it seems the hounds have an easier time picking up the fox's scent when it's cold). Dozens of cars filled the Kennel Lawn. Many people set up tailgate parties, and folks were walking around carrying beer bottles, red plastic cups with celery sticks, Champagne flutes, or coffee cups as they greeted their friends. I talked to lots of wonderful people I hadn't seen for ages and just hope I didn't mess up too many people's names.
As the time approached for the foxhunters and hounds to move off, Anne Moran, one of the Masters, said a few words of welcome and thanked the spectators for coming and the landowners for allowing the Hunt on their properties.
And then just as the field was heading down the hill toward Plantation Field, a fox raced along the crest of the hill in full view of the crowd. Perfect timing; it was almost like he knew he had an audience! The hounds soon followed, and the perfectly turned-out riders and horses streamed behind, making for a gloriously colorful scene straight out of a vintage English hunting print.

FRIENDS HOME: Goodbye to Renna

Best wishes to Renna Van Oot, who left her position as Executive Director of the Friends Home in Kennett to take a new job as chief operating officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Dana Smiles will serve as interim director of the 117-year-old senior citizens' home until the board of directors hires a replacement for Renna.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

BUCKS COUNTY: A short road trip for dinner

I went to a wonderful Thanksgiving feast up in Perkasie, with ample food, three little kids and two large dogs. The host is a marvelous gardener; in fact, his backyard garden is big enough that I could plainly see an aerial view of it on Google Maps. He grows his hardy crops in a plastic-covered tent with heat lamps, so the Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and coleslaw on the table came straight from the garden.

Ron's sheltered garden, where hardy crops like cabbage can overwinter.

Milk in old-fashioned glass bottles from Pennview Farms.

Another highlight was the milk, which came in old-fashioned returnable glass bottles from Pennview Farms in Perkasie. The chocolate milk was so thick it was like drinking a milkshake.
This wasn't my biological family, so a lot of the family members were new to me. I come from a small family, so trying to sort out siblings, cousins, nephews and companions was quite a challenge. I got absolutely nowhere asking my date to identify everyone around the table (he is SO not a reporter!), so I just gave up and thanked everybody for their extraordinary hospitality.
I had a great time driving to Perkasie. Because of an accident on the Northeast Extension, my GPS (my new best friend!) rerouted me through Worcester and Hatfield. Bucks County has a lot of highways that end in the number "63," and I think I was on all of them, in addition to a short stint on "Unionville Pike" (that was a surprise).
On Bustard Road I passed a Century Farm owned by, of course, the Bustard family. I also saw some entertaining signs: a barn that promises "A Spiritual Walk With a Horse"; "Mrs. Benner's Homemade Slap Jack Candy"; "Good Time Rentals" (offering a winter discount); "The Rockhill Filling Station" (a restaurant; get it?); and a lounge billing a special holiday performance by "Bobby Himself"!
I enjoyed the slow-lane trip so much that I was actually sorry when the GPS directed me onto Route 309 for a while. On the way home, though, after sundown, I just got onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Sumneytown Pike and cruised nonstop all the way to Coatesville.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

SMALL TOWN: A merchant does a good deed

A Tilda reader who wants to remain anonymous was kind enough to share this delightful story with me:

I wanted to relate an experience I had yesterday shopping in the Borough of Kennett Square.  I popped into Bedbugzzz to pick up a gift for a newborn baby and parked outside the store.  I put money in the meter and did overstay my time there and received a ticket for this violation in the amount of $20 (twenty dollars!!!). 
The irony is that while I was making my selections (just shy of $150) and the helpful sales associate wrapped the gift, I shared that I'd looked at a baby boutique in Greenville, Delaware, and found its inventory wasn't more interesting or better priced than Bedbugzzz so I opted to return to Kennett to purchase the gift and support our stores in town. 
I was angry and disappointed at the outcome but had another stop to make at STATE AND UNION.  While purchasing items there, I laid the ticket on the counter to access my wallet.  The proprietor, Doug Harris, noticed the ticket and asked if I'd just received it.  My answer and explanation followed and he did the most amazing thing. 
Wanting me to feel good about shopping in Kennett and to smooth my ruffled feathers, Doug insisted on taking the ticket to pay my fine.  Although I protested his courtesy, he prevailed in absorbing my anxiety and the $20 ticket. 
That is the pleasure of our small town shopping and forward thinking of the merchants.  Please consider supporting our local merchants every day, not just on the upcoming Small Business Day, November 28th. As for the borough meters... 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

THANKSGIVING: Much gratitude at the Tally-hos'

The Tally-ho family celebrated Thanksgiving a few days early for scheduling reasons and had a jolly time together, with conversation ranging from the new Wegman's supermarket ("huge!") to the history and future of trade unions. The evening was punctuated with calls of "What's the password?" as we all tried to connect our devices to the host's WiFi and Facebook to share photos and stories. Family tradition was broken when my mother banned cranberry sauce from the table as being too high in sugar. But she atoned for it when she issued a few of us pens and an L.L. Bean catalogue and told us to select our Christmas presents.
All of us offered suggestions for what word the trend-setting Young Relative should introduce at Patton Middle School to replace the now-tired "indeed." If your kids start saying "Insightful!" or "That party was such a romp," you have Tilda to thank.
Happy Thanksgiving to my readers. As I am all year round, I'm grateful for your tips, your praise, your criticism and your support in so many ways.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

KENNETT: Lunch at the meetinghouse

Among their many virtues, Quakers have a reputation as being astute businesspeople. This was certainly on display on Saturday, when I stopped by the "Quaker Fare" luncheon at Kennett Friends Meeting. I explained to the lady selling tickets at the door that I was there just to say hi; for scheduling reasons my family was celebrating Thanksgiving on Saturday, so I couldn't fill up on the chicken salad sandwiches and other goodies that this annual event is known for.
She didn't miss a beat.
"Then how about a quart of mushroom soup to go?" she suggested.
And of course I got to socialize, too: I had a nice time chatting with Kennett Township supervisor Scudder Stevens, Kevin Arnold, Tish Dalton, Jessie Cocks, and Jean Tennant, who is as energetic as always at age 92. She said her husband, soon to turn 100, is even more youthful: "If you called me up and he answered the phone, you would think it was a kid who answered! Well, except that he's very serious."

ART GALA: Works by artists young and old

The 40th annual Unionville Art Gala fundraiser at the high school this weekend comprised such a variety of media, like paintings, pottery, jewelry, photography, sculptures, woodworks, glassware and mosaics. I had a great time browsing through the works by the professional artists, but as always my favorite part was looking at the student art (and not just to see works by my friends' kids, honest). The pencil sketches done by the students in "Intro to Drawing" were wonderfully creative; I also liked the self-portraits and the intricate 3D artworks. What a lot of talent there is in the district! The fundraiser is organized by the Unionville High School PTO -- which must be a monumental task given the number of artists who participate.

MESSIAH: "Glory to God in the highest"

George Frideric Handel’s "Messiah" will be sung at the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Kennett Square from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13. Director Wilson G. Somers will lead the Chancel Choir of Advent and the Tatnall School Choir as well as professional soloists sopranos Alexis Droke and Courtney Ames, mezzo Charlotte Paulsen, tenor Kameron Ghanavati, and bass Brian Carter.
Admission is free but, according to the press release, "since it’s the season of giving, attendees are encouraged to donate to a fund established by the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania to support southern churches in need of rebuilding following several cases of arson earlier this year."
It's so fitting that proceeds are being earmarked for charity, because the first performance of "Messiah," in April 1742 in Dublin, benefitted three charities" prisoners' debt relief, the Mercer's Hospital, and the Charitable Infirmary. Seven hundred people attended the concert, and, according to Wikipedia, "So that the largest possible audience could be admitted to the concert, gentlemen were requested to remove their swords, and ladies were asked not to wear hoops in their dresses. . . .The takings amounted to around £400, providing about £127 to each of the three nominated charities and securing the release of 142 indebted prisoners."


NEW BOLTON: Vet will lecture about colic

December's First Tuesday lecture at New Bolton Center is about colic (the life-threatening equine kind). Large animal surgery resident Hope Douglas, VMD, will discuss "types of colic, evaluation and treatment of colic on the farm, and evaluation and treatment of colic at New Bolton Center."
The lecture, as are all the First Tuesday talks, is free and runs from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall at New Bolton. RSVP to Barbara Belt at
Every one of these lectures I've been to has been extremely educational. The speakers are always articulate, interesting and at the cutting edge of their fields.

HOCKESSIN: A Grinchy sing-along

Last December we had a fantastic time at the sing-along "How the Grinch Stole Who-kessin" at the Hockessin Library, so I was delighted to see the Hockessin Business Association is doing it again at 1 p.m. Saturday, December 12. The Hockessin Library is at 1023 Valley Road and admission is free.
One of the stars (the Grinch himself!) asked me the other day if I wanted to be a plant in this year's show. I assumed he meant one of the Whos' Christmas trees or something, so I said, no, I'd rather be a spectator. He looked a little nonplussed -- and then I realized he meant "a plant" as in somebody who models and encourages audience participation.
"Oh, wow, yes!" I said. "That I can do!"
He tells me this year's show will feature a 39-1/2-foot pole (well, more or less), a seasick crocodile and the return of the Grinchettes.
My date and I had a great time last year, singing and laughing and watching not only the show but the parents, grandparents and kids.

FOXY LOXY: Livening up evenings in Unionville

Jayne Shea, who runs Foxy Loxy in Unionville, is looking for ideas on what the coffee shop/ice cream parlor/community meeting place can do in the evenings. She's thinking of maybe starting movie nights for kids, or casual BYOB get-togethers with little nibbles. I said I'd put the word out there. Let Jayne know your thoughts next time you stop in for lunch, breakfast, dessert or a cup of their superb coffee!
I've been a big fan of Foxy Loxy since the start: it feels like you're in someone's cozy Unionville living room.

Friday, November 20, 2015

PENN OAK: It's still "in press"

For those of you who are curious about whether the London Grove Oak has appeared in "National Geographic" yet: no, it hasn't.
Back in July 2014 I wrote about the husband-and-wife team of Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, who stopped by London Grove Friends Meeting to make photos of the Penn Oak as part of a "National Geographic" story on "wise trees." They told me they wanted to include the Penn Oak not only for its majesty but also because it was a witness to William Penn's requirement that Pennsylvania settlers preserve one acre of trees for every five acres cleared. The assignment also took them to India, Mexico and Ground Zero in Manhattan, where they shot the "survivor" Callery pear tree that lived through 9/11. Diane told me back then that the story was scheduled to come out in the August 2015 issue, but apparently it has been delayed -- par for the course in the magazine world!.

Len Jenshel and Diane Cook shooting the Penn Oak in July 2014.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

DINNER: Dining out for the preschoolers

On Nov. 18 the restaurants at the Market at Liberty Place in Kennett Square donated 15 percent of its dinner proceeds to the Kennett Square Preschool Coop. I know a few families who are involved with this wonderful school, so my dinner date and I enjoyed our Buddy Burgers with Cheese even more than usual, knowing we were contributing to a good cause. We saw a lot of families with young kids, some wearing T-shirts from the preschool.
And what's dinner at Liberty Place without delicious ice cream afterward from Punk'd Pineapple? And where else could you overhear the unsettling words, "Do you want to eat your eyes or should I take them out?" (This was a Dad asking his daughter about her preference re: the candy "eyes" that they put atop your ice cream serving at Punk'd Pineapple!)

PROOFREADING: Always a profitable skill

On Wednesday I had an hour between the end of my gym class at the Kennett Y and my dinner plans, so I brought along my current proofreading project to work on, a dry, tiresome and mistake-laden psychology tome. I spread out at one of the lobby tables, plugged my earbuds into some concentration-enhancing yoga music and settled in to work. After a while, I looked up to stretch my neck and noticed a young man and his mother across the table working on a homework assignment. The title of his worksheet: "Proofreading a Sentence."
I took out my earbuds, excused myself for butting into their conversation and pointed out that I was doing exactly that -- and getting paid for it! The Mom said she had noticed my work and mentioned it to her son.
I told the boy what a useful skill I had found proofreading to be over the years.
"When you're in college," I told him, "you can proofread your friend's papers, and they'll cook dinner for you!"

Sunday, November 15, 2015

ARCHIVE: Reading across the curriculum

I have to share a funny error that I found while editing an interesting book about how the Internet is changing publication practices in the sciences and humanities (short answer: much more in the former than the latter). The author was talking about how copyright protections sometimes pose a barrier to publishing articles and books that try to include more than just standard illustrations and wrote, "The Grateful Dead posters owned by the Billy Graham Archive were reproduced in a biography of the music group."
I'm guessing the posters are owned by the concert promoter Bill Graham rather than the evangelist Billy Graham, but I could be wrong! (What's amazing is that my reading of "Rolling Stone" magazine back in the 1970s has actually come in handy in my career.)

SOCIAL MEDIA: Not the Patient Privacy Act

As I've mentioned before, Facebook has become the go-to way to share updates on one's medical ailments. This past Monday a dear friend got a new hip, and soon after surgery his wife posted a photo of him giving a broad smile and a thumbs-up sign. The caption said that he was "on narcotics with access to dozens of pay-for-movie channels on the TV. What could possibly go wrong?"
(He was out of the hospital the day after surgery and will doubtless be back on horseback soon.)
Another friend didn't quite get it right: He posted a photo of a grim-looking medical facility with no explanation, leading many to express concern. He finally relieved us by saying, "Thank you friends for the outpouring of support but it was my Mother who was in the hospital having a heart procedure. Thankfully she came through the operation with flying colors and is on the mend."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

UNIONVILLE: Kinloch's annual open house

On Saturday afternoon I stopped by Kinloch Woodworking's annual autumn open house in "downtown" Unionville and, as always, had a wonderful time socializing and seeing Doug Mooberry's breath-taking furniture. Barb Pusey was there with her granddaughter, Jessie Mooberry, who was visiting from Istanbul, where she is working to promote humanitarian uses of drones. I also got to catch up with Anna Myers and Diane Thierry for a few minutes.
In addition to his beautiful tables, tall clocks, spice chests, mirrors and stools, Doug showcased two unusual pieces this year: a Wharton Esherick-inspired curly-cherry desk that opened into a self-contained, fully fitted office, complete with drawers, lights and a chair, and a remarkable wall hanging made from Paulownia wood that resembled a shark.
The wall hanging, made of wood from a Paulownia tree, looks like a shark.

CRANESBILL: Another way that seeds spread

After planting 25 tulip bulbs (only a third of this year's order from White Flower Farm) in the garden, I came back inside and noticed dozens of small black spears, maybe an inch long, sticking out of my fleece vest, as if I were a pin cushion or a voodoo doll.
I did some online research and found that the spikes were from the cranesbill (a hardy geranium) that's been growing in the garden for many years. I quote from Rob's Plants website:
"The cranesbill for which the plants are named describes the shape of the spikes extending from the fruiting bodies left behind when flowers fade. The seeds are formed in the puffy part at the bottom of the fruiting body. The problem is that the whole assembly was manufactured to serve as a catapult. When ripe, the seeds are flung out of their dry hull using the spring force of connective tissue that runs along the spikey bit (this is not a botanically correct description, by the way)."
As I discovered when trying to remove the hulls from my vest, not only are they sharply pointed but they also have a rough coating, which makes them even more adherent.

HOUPPETTE: Old-fashioned personal service

What flawless customer service I experienced at Houppette, the new little boutique at State and Union streets in downtown Kennett. Though not at all a high-maintenance kind of woman, I stopped in seeking a remedy for my increasingly dry winter skin. The nice saleswoman listened carefully to my concerns, asked a few questions, suggested two products and let me try both. I bought one of the creams she suggested and have been very happy with it. I'm so glad I visited: no pressure, no upselling, and even some fun samples to take home!

SPIRIT WING: An evening of Native American music

On Friday evening we traveled to Oxford Friends Meeting to see Spirit Wing, a husband-and-wife duo who perform Native American-inspired music. We've seen the Phoenixville couple perform three times before, but they changed up their show a little this time: Barry Lee added some guitar flourishes, and he and his wife, Barbara Gregg Andrews-Christy, added some more contemporary songs to the mix. Barbara was such a trouper, singing, dancing, playing the flute and bantering despite a scratchy throat that had her reaching for lozenges and her water bottle between each song.
After the show the two, who are active in Native American issues, talked about recent efforts to create a heritage center at the Carlisle Indian School, where thousands of Indian youths were taken between 1879 and 1918 in an effort to erase their own culture and make them fit into mainstream white society. John Sayles is directing a movie, "To Save the Man," about the school; Robert Redford is executive producer and production is set to start next summer. (It won't be shot in Carlisle.)
We'll probably be back at the meetinghouse for Charlie Zahm's annual Christmas show at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11. Doors open at 7 p.m. and -- heads up -- last year the place was packed, so get there early.

LIBRARY: A new website, the same controversies

Even launching a new website has proved controversial for the board of the "Kennett Public Library." This past Friday they took the site (with its blue apostrophe logo) live to replace Predictably, this did not sit well with people who are still stewing about the way the board changed the library's name from "Bayard Taylor Memorial" to "Kennett Public."
This is the way the new website's FAQ page explains the unpopular name change: "This decision was informed by a focus group of Board and Staff members who believed that the name should reflect the community of eight municipalities that we serve, and that it would clear up confusion about where the Library was located."
But they didn't ask the public -- which explains the community outcry that has ensued. A couple of waggish friends, both dead set against the name change, remarked on an obvious error on the new site: the spelling of the library's name.
A neighbor wrote on the new site: "No, you have not listened!!! Change the name back to Bayard Taylor Memorial Library and the community will support you. If you do not, nothing you do will cause the community to support you!"
(She is a retired Unionville schoolteacher, so I'll forgive her for writing better than me. She's also 100% correct, in my opinion.)
Another FAQ on the site: "Are you really building a new library?" The answer: "We plan to! Currently, our Board of Trustees is negotiating with Kennett Square Borough and Kennett Township regarding a site within the Borough. As soon as a Memorandum of Understanding is finalized, design and funding will begin. In the event that we stay in the Borough, the parcel of land that we own on Way's Lane will be sold."
I'd like to suggest a more important FAQ: "How are you going to afford this new library given the extremely negative results of your recent feasibility study?"

CHESLEN PRESERVE: Trying to curb off-leash dogs

Kirstin Werner, the director of communications for the Natural Lands Trust (which runs the lovely ChesLen Preserve) sent me an email in response to an item I wrote a few weeks ago about a lost (and found) Yorkie at the preserve. I think it will be of interest to the many local people who walk their dogs there.
"I was relieved to hear of Stuart’s happy ending… It occurred to me, though, that Stuart must have been off-leash for his “adventure."
"Off-leash dogs at ChesLen Preserve (and all of Natural Lands Trust's 42 nature preserves) are a huge problem for us. 
"Though it may seem harmless to let one’s dog run free and play in the woods, fields, and wetlands, consider this from a Bluebird’s point of view. An unleashed dog can disturb feeding, mating, nesting, and rearing young—not just for Bluebirds but for many other wildlife species as well. In addition, we receive numerous complaints from other visitors who don’t feel safe or whose peaceful visit to a preserve was ruined by an off-leash dog jumping up or aggressing on their own dogs.
"Over the years, we’ve tried signage, brochures, talking to visitors individually, etc. Not much has worked effectively.
"So we’ve developed a new program called Green Dogs. Green Dog members receive a custom Natural Lands Trust leash when they join and pledge to be “Nature’s Best Friend.”
"I thought I’d share this with you in case you think it might be worthy of a mention on your blog or in the paper. We want to do all we can to ensure our preserves are safe and enjoyable for everyone who visits (including our beloved four-legged friends). Thanks!"
You can find more information about the "Green Dogs" program on the website.


Monday, November 9, 2015

NEWLIN: Back on the front burner

The state Attorney General's office has found that Newlin Township's controversial zoning ordinance places excessive regulations on farms and other agricultural businesses, thus violating the state's Agricultural Communities and Rural Environment (ACRE) law.
You may recall the issue: the new ordinance raised the ire of many township residents because it required the owners of many horse boarding facilities to seek an expensive special exception from the township's zoning hearing board if they wanted to continue the operations they'd been running for years (well, if they wanted to operate legally, at least). 
In its Nov. 8 letter, the state Attorney General's office suggested numerous and substantive wording changes that the township supervisors need to make to bring the ordinance into compliance. The AG's office attached a stick, too: the supervisors were told that legal measures could follow if they don't amend the ordinance.
An open question is whether the farm owners who obeyed the law and paid for a zoning hearing could get their money refunded.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

FUNERAL: A comforting good-bye ritual

I went to a funeral for a friend's Dad this week and was reminded what an important and comforting ritual it can be, when friends, relatives, work colleagues past and present, neighbors, acquaintances and friends of friends come out to offer their support for those who are grieving. The service was simple and moving, and the luncheon that followed gave everyone a chance to decompress a little (I noticed several neckties were quickly loosened), reminisce and catch up. There was a lot of laughter, and happy memories, and I think that's the way it should be. My friend's Dad was an honorable, hard-working, religious family-oriented man, and the entire day was a fitting tribute to his life.
As we were leaving the funeral home to drive to the cemetery, the funeral director warned us that motorists these days don't always respect the right-of-way of a funeral procession. I was astonished. Bad manners, indeed! Not to mention bad karma.

PHOENIXVILLE: A walk on the wild side

The dining establishments we frequent are pretty tame institutions. Not so much this past Saturday night, though, when we stopped into what turned out to be a fairly rowdy spot in Phoenixville for dinner before the Al Stewart concert at the Colonial Theater. The restaurant was busy -- it was 7 p.m. -- and we stood in the lobby waiting for a table as waitresses scurried by carrying trays of food and drink (this place had several dining nooks and crannies scattered around). The couple waiting ahead of us declined, with ill grace, to take the table they were offered -- there was a family with young kids at the next table -- so we took it, gratefully.
As we ordered, the scene got even more amusing: a half-dozen revelers entered and crowded around the bar. They had reached that boisterous stage of intoxication when they were singing (badly), gesturing wildly and howling with laughter -- in other words, sloppy drunk. They were such an assorted bunch that we had fun speculating how they knew each other and what they were doing out on a Saturday evening pub crawl: a tall woman in a black leather jacket, high-heeled black boots and a punk hairdo drinking a Heineken; a suburban-looking woman; some middle-aged guys you'd see in any office. We were a little disappointed when they left after only a few minutes -- apparently the place wasn't to their liking or they weren't getting served.
Our dinners arrived and we ate with pleasure. Meanwhile, the ornery guy, who'd finally gotten an acceptable table, went up to the beleaguered hostess with what appeared to be another complaint before he and his wife left the restaurant. The waitress (we'd told her we were in a hurry) dropped off our check, and just as we were about to leave the ornery guy walked back in complain some more!
The whole episode was like pre-show entertainment for us, but certainly not for the staff. I've said it before: Every kid should have to work in a restaurant and in a blue-collar job for part of their life.

CENTERPIECE: Holiday workshop and greens sale

My friend Linda Southerling from the Four Seasons Garden Club asked me to publicize the club's annual "Make-It-Yourself Holiday Centerpiece Workshop" on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Kennett Square. The $35 fee includes all the materials needed to create the centerpiece, as well as lunch. E-mail to register. There will also be fresh greens and "assorted embellishments" on sale even if you're not taking part in the workshop.
(Good Lord. I haven't put away my pumpkin display yet and still haven't gotten around to cutting bittersweet and rose hips for my fall wreath!)



GOOD CONSUMERS: It never hurts to ask

My parents passed along to all of us kids a strong sense of self-agency. I can remember my mother urging me to write a letter to the editor when the school board wanted to squeeze more lockers into the corridors of my middle school (I urged the school board members to visit and see how impossibly crowded the hallways already were between classes).
So when my electric toothbrush died last week, I was just about ready to order a new one, because I didn't feel like digging through dusty files to find the date I'd bought it and so forth. But my training held good: I called the 1-800 number anyway, talked to a customer service guy named Lloyd and much to my surprise, no questions asked, they are sending me a brand-new one!
Thank you, Philips. As a wise friend said, "Never underestimate the power of asking."

ELECTIONS: Results from five local townships

Tuesday, Nov. 3, was election day, and a few municipalities in the Unionville area had some contested races. I'm sure you'll read much more about the results elsewhere in this week's paper, but here are the stats from five townships. For complete information, you can go to Chester County's election results page.
In my township, West Marlborough, turnout was 28% (167/592). We re-elected Jake Chalfin and Hugh Lofting Sr. to their seats on the Board of Supervisors.
In Newlin Township, turnout was 33% (324/973). Voters there returned William Kelsall to his chair at the supervisors' table.
In Pocopson Township, turnout was  25% (645/2,597) (this was a surprise to me, given all of the controversy that's been going on at township meetings over the Barnard House renovations). Elaine DiMonte and Alice Balsana were elected as supervisors.
In East Marlborough, turnout was 28% (1,553/5,469). Republican Christine Kimmel beat Democrat Richard Hicks in all three precincts, 939-593, to win the seat on the township Board of Supervisors that Cuyler Walker is leaving.
In Kennett Township, turnout varied from 30% in the second precinct (the polling place was Church of the Advent) to 56% at Kendal at Longwood, the Quaker retirement community, where half the residents voted straight-party Democrat. Democrat Whitney Hoffman beat Republican Ted Moxon, 1,054 to 908, for a seat on the township Board of Supervisors. By precinct, the results were Hoffman 235, Moxon 217 in the first precinct (the polling place was at the township building); Hoffman 242, Moxon 261 in the second precinct; Hoffman 316, Moxon 155 in the third precinct (at Kendal); and Hoffman 261, Moxon 275 in the fourth precinct (at Greenwood Elementary).

UNIONVILLE: Open house at Kinloch Woodworking

While I was getting my coffee at Foxy Loxy in Unionville on Saturday morning, I ran into Doug Mooberry and he reminded me about the open house he's hosting at Kinloch Woodworking from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14. He told me they took a year off from the annual event in 2014, but so many people told him they missed the show that it's back. Kinloch is at 1721 West Doe Run Road (Route 82) in the heart of Unionville.
Doug wrote to me that the folks at Kinloch "have been working on a really neat Wharton Esherick inspired desk,  a shark wall hanging (it’s wood but I still wouldn’t stick my fingers in its mouth), some Chinese sideboards and an inlaid sea chest made from wood salvaged from the USS CONSTITUTION. A couple new coffee tables and 2 secretary desks."
I've been to the Kinloch show many times over the years and it's always a lovely event, with beautiful pieces of furniture to marvel over and lots of local folks to chat with. Plus you get to walk through the wood shop where the pieces are created.
Pat Mooberry, Doug's wife, will also be showing her pottery.
Before or after the show, you can stay in "downtown" Unionville and get something to eat. Doug says, "Foxy Loxy will be open for coffee, ice cream, breakfast, and lunch and Hood’s invites everyone to have lunch or dinner after attending the show. Catherine’s Restaurant and they would welcome any Fall Show attendees and will waive the BYOB charge.  Hood’s and Catherine’s both recommend reservations."
Doug Mooberry is the owner of Kinloch Woodworking.

Pat Mooberry's pottery will be on display.

A beautiful piece of craftsmanship from Kinloch Woodworking.

Kinloch Woodworking's open house will be Nov. 13 and 14.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Routine township business

Just a few items to report from the West Marlborough Township supervisors' November meeting:
1. Gus Brown resigned from the township Planning Commission.
2. George and Gretchen Wintersteen were granted zoning permission and a building permit to build a solarium over an existing porch at their Ryan Road house.
3. Police Chief Robert Clarke reported that he issued eight speeding tickets and three parking tickets in the township in October.
4. The township road crew completed a project to install pipes along Thouron and Hicks Roads. They received a state grant (administered through the county) for $25,000 but had a $10,000 cost overrun due to unexpected problems that they encountered.

Monday, November 2, 2015

HUNT CUP: A beautiful afternoon in Unionville

Every year, my friends and I remember the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup for one particular reason. In 2014 it was the strong wind that felled a port-a-potty. The year before, our dogs didn't get along, in somewhat spectacular fashion. And the year before that, the freezing temperatures sent one of us home on a rescue mission to bring back warm socks and Irish coffee for everyone.
This year the weather was warm and sunny and we brought only one dog, so I suspect we'll remember the event for the absence of a well-loved member of our party, who had a death in the family the day before and had to help sort out the myriad of funeral details.
Although it just wasn't the same without him (he would have loved seeing the tiny Papillon and the gigantic but gentle deerhound), we still had a great time watching the horse races, especially when we knew the jockeys, and socializing with friends in between.
It was fun to see Ivan Dowling and Kelly Merette bring out the "Cheshire Beauties," the foxhounds of the Cheshire Hunt.
Food is always an important component of the event. I baked two kinds of cookies, and the other members of our merry band brought caprese salad and turkey meatballs (which turned out to be a wonderful and not-too-unnutritious combination). At other people's tailgate parties I enjoyed marvelous chili, marinated asparagus, and smoked salmon.
Hats off to the members of the Hunt Cup committee, who work long and hard to organize this yearly tradition, and thanks to the landowners who let us invade their lovely property.