Saturday, April 30, 2016

SPRING: Talk on baby birds in Hockessin

The wren babies have hatched in my backyard birdhouse; I can hear their muffled, high-pitched peeping, and their hard-working parents are constantly bringing them food. Lisa Smith, the director of Tri-State Bird Rescue in Newark, will be giving a talk about baby birds at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Wild Birds Unlimited store, 7411 Lancaster Pike in Hockessin. How timely!
And if you sign up to become a member of the bird rescue on May 14, Charles Shattuck, the owner of Wild Birds, will give you a $20 coupon to use in his store that day.
You might also want to get on the Wild Birds mailing list, because they put out an excellent newsletter.

ELECTION: Here is how Unionville voted

I'm sure you'll be reading more about the primary election results elsewhere in this week's Kennett Paper (including the spirited write-in battle between Eric Roe and Perry Bentley for Chris Ross' General Assembly seat in Harrisburg), but here are the breakdowns by precinct for the Unionville area.
In East Marlborough Township's East precinct (the polling place is Patton Middle School), voter turnout was 52%. In the Democratic presidential race, Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders, 65% to 34%. On the Republican side, John R. Kasich beat Donald Trump by one vote (233 to 232) and Ted Cruz got 16%. In the U.S. Senate race, Joe Sestak beat Katie McGinty, 53% to 41%, on the Democratic side and Pat Toomey was unopposed on the Republican side. In the race for the retiring Joe Pitts' seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Chet Beiler beat Lloyd Smucker 56% to 40%.
In East Marlborough Township's West precinct (the polling place is the Willowdale Chapel),  voter turnout was 45%. Clinton beat Sanders, 60% to 38%. Trump beat Kasich, 49% to 33%, and  Cruz got 14%. Sestak beat McGinty by four votes (129 to 125). Beiler beat Smucker, 53% to 42%.
In East Marlborough Township's South precinct (the polling place is the Kennett Square Missionary Baptist Church),voter turnout was 43%. Clinton beat Sanders, 59% to 41%. Trump squeaked by Kasich by one vote (234 to 233) and Cruz got 16%. McGinty beat Sestak, 51% to 44%. Beiler beat Smucker, 60% to 36%.
In Newlin Township, voter turnout was 51%. Clinton beat Sanders, 55% to 45%. Trump got 51% of the vote, Kasich got 29% and Cruz got 17%. Sestak beat McGinty, 46% to 43%.
In Pocopson Township, voter turnout was 44%. Clinton beat Sanders, 62% to 38%. Trump got 45% of the vote, Kasich got 34% and Cruz got 17%. McGinty beat Sestak, 48% to 45%.
In West Marlborough Township, the voter turnout was 47%.  Clinton beat Sanders, 52% to 48%. Trump got 50% of the vote, Kasich got 29% and Cruz got 16%. McGinty beat Sestak, 50% to 42%. Beiler beat Smucker, 57% to 33%.
County-wide, turnout was 42%. Clinton beat Sanders, 55% to 44%. Trump got 46% of the vote, Kasich 31% and Cruz 20%. McGinty beat Sestak, 51% to 42%. Beiler beat Smucker, 58% to 41%, in Chester County but because the Congressional district also includes part of Lancaster County, Smucker was the ultimate winner, 55% to 45%. (Thank you to Lancaster Online reporter Sam Janesch for noting the interesting fact that Beiler and Smucker are second cousins and graduated in the same class at Lancaster Mennonite High School.)

ELECTION: Big turnout at Kendal/Crosslands

I always like to check the voter turnout at Kendal/Crosslands, the Quaker-run retirement community, where the residents are both politically active and left-leaning.
In the primary election on April 26, voter turnout in Kennett Township's third precinct (the polling place is at Kendal) was 62%; 74% of the 443 registered Democrats voted and 62% of the 316 Republicans. Hillary Clinton got 69% of the vote, Bernie Sanders 31%. Trump got 44%, Kasich got 34% and Cruz got 19%.
In Pennsbury Township's North-1 precinct (the polling place is at Crosslands), turnout was 64%; 75% of the 378 registered Democrats voted and 60% of the 223 Republicans. Clinton got 72% of the vote, Sanders 28%. Kasich got 60%, Trump 26% and Cruz 10%.

BERLIN: This market sounds like downtown Kennett

A classmate of mine, Steve Rogerson, lives in Nottingham, England, but constantly seems to be hopping on planes and traveling all over the world writing about beer (yes, apparently there is such a job).
Anyway, the reason I'm mentioning this is that Steve was in Berlin last week and wrote about "Street Food Thursday" at a downtown market (Markthalle Neun, 42 Eisenbahnstrasse) where they serve things like "Crunchy Fried Meatballs with olive oil Potato Mash and Apple ´n Cucumber Slaw" and "grilled cheese sandwiches: Blue Cheese, Cranberry Jam, walnuts, and Habanero-Tomato Sauce." 
Steve shared a photo of a brewstall called Heidenpeters; "they brew the beer in the basement of the market hall."
It sounded a lot like downtown Kennett!

Friday, April 29, 2016

COATESVILLE: Concert by an Irish master fiddler

Frank Dalton of Embreeville asked me to mention that Irish master fiddler Kevin Burke will be performing a solo show at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, as part of the Coatesville Traditional Irish Music Series.
Frank, who organizes the music series with his wife, Emily Fine, says he expects this show will sell out and urges fans to buy tickets online ( Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
The concert will be at the Coatesville Cultural Society, 143 E. Lincoln Highway in Coatesville. I've been to many shows at this facility and it's a charming and intimate setting. Parking is usually readily available on the street just outside the building.

KACS: A muddy-shoe tour of a new facility

On Thursday afternoon Barbara Larsen, president of the Kennett Area Community Services board, showed me around the former house that the agency is in the process of renovating on West Cedar Street, next to their current office space and the Food Cupboard warehouse. The building is going to be called the KACS Resource Center and will house offices for the case managers; space for "partner agencies" to provide services to clients (like the Family Benefits Program for Maternal and Child Health); a training and meeting space; and bathing and laundry facilities for clients who are homeless.
The new facility will free up space in the next-door Food Cupboard, doubling its storage capacity.
In the backyard, before the property drops off to the railroad tracks, a garden with raised vegetable beds is planned (and nutrition classes are planned to help clients learn how to use the produce).
KACS executive director Melanie Weiler, whom I'd met at the Empty Bowls fundraiser back in February, said it was pure luck that KACS acquired the building. She knew the property had been vacant for a while, and when saw an inspector there one day she asked about its status. Bingo! KACS snapped it up before it went on the market.
Melanie also told me about a training class that the agency will be holding the evening of Thursday, May 26, at Unionville Presbyterian Church. Called "Bridges Out of Poverty," the program is targeted at "employers, community organizations, churches, social service agencies and individuals" who are interested in helping people learn to move from poverty to long-term self-sufficiency, helping not only the individuals but the whole community.
I looked through some of the materials that will be used in the program, and they seem very sensible, focusing on learning basic, practical life and employment skills that most of us take for granted. It seems to me that this is the kind of approach that people from the Left and the Right could get behind: it's not a matter of giving handouts, but rather helping people to become independent, employed, responsible, contributing members of the community.
Melanie said that as with all of the KACS programs, the goal is to respect clients' dignity and guide them as needed rather than to tell them what to do.

KENNETT SQUARE: A man of the people

I'm surprised Kennett Square Borough Council member Doug Doerfler manages to get anywhere on time!
I was in my car on State Street at Union Street on Friday morning and saw him crossing the street while checking his phone. I called out the window to him, and he smiled and said hi. Seconds later, after he reached the opposite sidewalk, I saw him stop to greet somebody else.
"Keep your ear to the ground," as a former newspaper editor of mine used to say: it's a necessary skill for both reporters and local politicians!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

DELIVERY: Hey, pizza man

If you ordered a pizza from a well-known local delivery joint on Wednesday evening, April 27, and it was cold upon arrival, I may have an explanation.
At about 7 p.m., while I was on my way to pick up a West Grove friend for dinner, I noticed a pizza delivery vehicle pulled over by police at the intersection of  Rosehill and State Roads, near the Avon Grove High School. I was amused and was going to snap a photograph after I picked up my pal, but when we returned a few minutes later it was gone. We headed eagerly toward La Pena Mexicana in Kennett. But then the very same vehicle (it had some distinctive body damage, in addition to the pizza sign on the roof) passed us at a high rate of speed on Baltimore Pike between Toughkenamon and Kennett, possibly rushing back to his home base.
Apparently someone didn't learn his lesson.

FLOWERS: A floral design workshop

I know from a family member who is an avid bicyclist that "pavé" is a word for a rough, cobblestone kind of road much prized by some hardy riders. But I just learned it has another (and slightly contradictory) meaning: it's a type of floral design in which the flowers are tightly clustered and form a smooth surface.
Linda Southerling of the Four Seasons Garden Club of Kennett Square asked me to announce that they will be holding a pavé floral design workshop on Saturday, June 11, at the Episcopal Church of the Advent on North Union Street. There are two sessions, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. or from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Materials and a beverage and snack will be supplied; you are asked to bring your own garden clippers or small garden scissors. Cost is $35 and reservations are due June 1. For more information or to register, e-mail Carol Taylor at


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Appearances are deceiving

I heard a funny, and probably wise, story at the West Marlborough polling place today. A woman was telling me she was once helping to run a fundraising event and was given some sage advice by a more experienced colleague:
"If somebody pulls up in a BMW, hit 'em up for $1,000. But if you see a beat-up, muddy truck with hay flying off, ask them for $5,000!"

Sunday, April 24, 2016

ELECTION: So much for a paperless society

I can't believe the volume of election mailings I received this primary season. Granted, the write-in candidates for Chris Ross' seat in Harrisburg needed to get their names out there before the voting public, but it seems like every day there were a half-dozen flyers in the mailbox (they went straight into my recycling bin or the huge wheelie-bin at the post office).
Some of the ads appeared amateurish and hastily produced, with embarrassing typos. I especially dislike the negative "attack" ads with inflammatory language and unflattering photographs, but, sad to say, I suppose they must have some impact or politicians wouldn't use them.
And even after the votes have been counted on April 26, I suppose we'll have six more months of this before the general election in November. The printers and sign-makers must be happy.

KENNETT BOROUGH: Third Thursday extends its season

At a party on April 17, Claire Murray told me some news that will make a lot of people happy: by popular demand, the Third Thursday event in downtown Kennett Square will run from May through September this year! The dates are May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15.
On Third Thursday evenings from 6 to 10 p.m., State Street is closed to traffic from Broad to Center Streets, and the restaurants serve dinner at tables set up in the middle of the street. The event is hugely popular, and after two of the evenings were rained out last year, many folks asked for the season to be extended.
There's also live music: the lineup is Josh Komorowski and the Sons of Thunder on May 19, Hake and Jarema Band on June 16, the Sin City Band on July 21, the Rolling Thunder Blues Review on Aug. 18 and Wheelhouse on Sept. 15.

ROBOTS: Danger, Will Robinson!

The "Sixty Plussers" group at St. Michael Lutheran Church in Unionville is hosting what sounds like an excellent program on Thursday, May 12, at noon at the church (the late Bernie Langer of Springdell was an enthusiastic member of this senior citizens' fellowship and put me on their mailing list).
Dan Folmar, physics teacher at Kennett High School, and several members of the "Demon Robotics" team will talk about the robotics program and demonstrate their latest robot's talents. "Plan to be on hand as we see just how far robots have progressed since the 'Lost in Space' days," reads the church bulletin. 

STAIR WIT: People can be amusing

I admire quick-witted people, mostly because I am not one of them. If I think of a clever remark at all, it's while I'm leaving (that's why it's called "stair wit"), or even the next day. I was a witness to two examples this past week.
On Wednesday evening we were walking into Sake Hana, the Asian restaurant in Avondale, and the host asked, "Three?" (Another fellow came in just behind us.)
"Just two," I said to the host. Then I turned to the man behind us: "Unless you want to join us?"
"Absolutely," he said, not missing a beat. "If you're buying, I'm there."
Turns out he was just picking up his family's takeout order, so he didn't sit down wit us.
And then late Saturday evening we were returning home from an Earth Day party in Guthriesville. We made a quick stop at the Wawa on Lincoln Highway across from the Thorndale train station. We got our drinks and headed back to the car, passing a group of youths sitting in their car in the parking lot. We heard an announcement on the loudspeaker from the train platform.
"Thorndale," commented my companion as we were walking out of the store.
"Yeah, it is," said one of the youths -- simply, cheerfully, with pride. It was wholly unexpected.

Friday, April 22, 2016

PLANT SALES: Time to get the garden started

I have two more upcoming plant sales to tell you about.
Prissy Roberts sent me an email about the 51st annual Kennett Square Beautification Spring Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 30, in the Genesis Walkway in Kennett Square. Plants include "Mothers Day arrangements, succulents, annuals, perennials, hanging baskets, herbs, vegetables, house plants, plant donations of community gardeners and garden club members and locally grown dahlias." You can park in the parking garage for free. Proceeds go toward those lovely container plantings along the street in Kennett as well as beautification of the Police Department and Genesis Walkway.
The annual London Grove Friends Meeting Plant Sale is Saturday, May 7, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is a fixture on my calendar. Not only do they have great plants (love their geraniums), but it's also a wonderful social occasion. The meeting house is at Route 926 and Newark Road.

LOOKING UP: PECO removes a danger

One of those strong windstorms that blew through in early April broke a big tree limb along Ryan Road here in West Marlborough and left it hanging perilously above the road. Had it fallen, it also would have taken out some electric wires, so on the morning of April 15 PECO workers showed up with a huge bucket truck and removed it. Their cherry picker was extended to its full height because not only was the tree tall, but that stretch of the road is sunken between steep banks.

The dangling branch before PECO removed it.

No more dangling branch.

Those of us who use the road regularly feel much safer that the Branch of Damocles is no longer dangling above.

CALENDAR: A busy schedule

Late on a recent afternoon I was sitting on the sidelines of a school sporting event and noticed that the man next to me was yawning, discreetly. "Oh, please don't start," I begged him, feeling a little weary myself and knowing how contagious yawning can be.
He laughed and said that as soon as this practice was over, he and his wife were heading to another child's piano recital.
"And I haven't even made dinner yet," chimed in his wife.
I told them that compared to them, I had utterly no excuse for yawning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WRITING: Let me tell you a story

I receive some fairly flaky catalogues in the mail, and the New Age-y ones give me particular entertainment. The glossy one that showed up in my mailbox today was for a week-long writer's retreat geared toward people who always wanted to "be a writer" but didn't think they had the time or the ability. Save yourself $300 plus hotel, meals, airfare, and opportunity costs, and take my advice: Set yourself a deadline. You'll become a real writer, real fast.
My column is due first thing Monday morning, and every Friday I start pestering family, friends, neighbors, gym colleagues and random people in the post office for "Tilda items." Maybe it's my imagination, but I swear some people pretend not to see me. Family members included.

PLANTATION: The Tough Mudder is returning

Look for the obstacles to start going up shortly at Plantation Field: the Tough Mudder race is returning on May 21 and 22. The Tough Mudder, perhaps you'll recall from last year, is a 10-plus-mile endurance course with obstacles to climb over, under and through. A new one this year is called the Block Ness Monster; it consists of a muddy pool with slippery square columns set across the pool that you have to clamber over with the help of your teammates. Oh, and the columns are rotating. Judging from the preview video I watched, that appears to be one of the saner obstacles; others involve things like electricity, ice cubes and chain link fencing.
Tilda has been asked to join a Tough Mudder team by some of her gym colleagues; she politely but firmly declined. They could not understand why, and were reminiscing fondly about how cold and windy it was at last year's event and how long it took for the feeling in their hands and feet to return.
The Tough Mudder's website mentions the scenic Unionville surroundings, not that contestants will be paying much attention to aesthetics: "Set in beautiful Brandywine Valley, the Tough Mudder Philly Presented by Merrell course features rolling hills smattered with hay fields, trees, creeks and terrain that varies just enough to keep you constantly wondering what’s around the next bend."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

TRAFFIC: Weekday traffic on a Saturday

Why was there a major traffic backup at Routes 926 and 100 this past Saturday morning? We were heading back toward Unionville on 926 and encountered heavy traffic almost all the way from Route 202. Cars were at a standstill from Birmingham Road westward. The traffic dispersed as soon as we crossed the Brandywine Creek.
We couldn't figure it out until later in the day, when we saw online reports of the huge crowds who attended the "Massive Barn Market," an antiques sale being held at the Chadds Ford Historical Society on Route 100. Apparently the number of shoppers was overwhelming the intersection.

STATION 36: Firefighters at the Whip

About ten volunteer firefighters from Unionville's Po-Mar-Lin Fire Co. headed to the Whip Tavern in Springdell on April 11 to do some community outreach and raise a little money while they were at it. Firefighters Rob Mastrippolito and Bobby Abel took stints as guest bartenders, during which Rob discovered a hitherto-unknown skill: making a perfect Black Velvet (a layer of Guinness on top of cider). Several veteran firefighters and volunteers from neighboring companies showed up, as well as Chester County Fire Marshal John "Jackie" Weer. Rob told me the winner of the 50/50 raffle was generous enough to donate all the winnings back to the fire company.

DOG PARK: No treats for these owners

Sounds like these dog owners are the ones who need obedience school training! The London Grove Township supervisors have shut down the popular Dog Park at the township's Goddard Park until at least May 5. The reasons are as follows, per the township website:
"1. Dog waste not being placed in the appropriate containers, being placed in regular trash or recycling containers, being left in various areas in bags including along trails and/or not being picked up in general.
2. Dogs off leashes in areas other then the Dog Park, including when approaching the Dog Park area.
3. Toys and other items being left through out the Dog Park.
4. Trash and Dog waste being placed in the "Toy Bin."
5. General disregard for the Park Rules and the Dog Park Rules by Dog owners."
The township supervisors will revisit the issue at their May 4 township meeting.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

ELECTION: Counting down to the primary

I try to be a reasonably well-informed citizen, so this weekend I attended a meet-and-greet and spent an hour or so listening to a political candidate discuss his views. Some of his positions matched mine but others I disagreed with strongly, which will present me with a definite quandary at the polling place on April 26.
The candidate was obviously leading a pretty punishing campaign schedule: once or twice he had a slight lapse of concentration but smoothly recovered, falling back on his core talking points.
During the Q&A session, some of the attendees repeated their opinions several times, getting more worked up with each iteration. Immigration laws, government regulations and Social Security inequities seemed to be hot-button issues. I admired the way the candidate handled the more voluble talkers, apologizing for the shortness of time and gently redirecting the personal complaints back toward the arguments he wanted to stress.
I may not like the position this guy takes on some social issues, but his cookies were excellent.

PANCAKES: Not even close

As soon as we heard that a pal of ours -- a former U.S. Navy chef -- would be manning the griddle at a West Chester pancake breakfast, we put it on the schedule.
My fellow pancake-fan glanced at the tickets, saw the words "Green," "Lutheran Church" and "West Chester" and took it from there. We set off for West Chester, reached the church where he thought it was being held, saw some yellow signs saying "Event" and pulled in, tummies rumbling.
Alas, there were no signs whatsoever of pancakes being cooked. I looked at the tickets. Turns out this church was a Baptist one, and it was on Airport Road, which is somewhat near Greenhill Road. The correct church was a Lutheran church on Green Lane.
I pointed this out. The best defense he could muster was that, after all, "Green" and "Greenhill" share some letters.
After much laughter and a quick GPS check, we headed to the real church, where we enjoyed great pancakes and fellowship.

WILLOWDALE: The Steeplechase is May 15

West Marlborough resident Tom Herman told me he's looking forward to playing the National Anthem on his trumpet to kick off the Willowdale Steeplechase at noon on Sunday, May 15.
"I've never played the Star Spangled Banner as a solo so it will be a lot of fun," he said.
Tom has figured out a clever way to combine his interests in music and history: he's a Civil War re-enactor who portrays a Union Army bugler; you may have seen him marching in Kennett Square's epic Memorial Day parade. He'll also be working as the official timer at the races.
Gates open for the Steeplechase at 10 a.m. Pony races start at 12:15 p.m. and the final race is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. General admission tickets at $30 per person in advance, $35 at the gate. Willowdale always offers great races and terrific socializing and people-watching. I'm very much looking forward to it.
Proceeds from the Steeplechase benefit the Stroud Water Research Center, New Bolton Center and Quest Therapeutic Services.

PLANT SALE: In memory of Mrs. Coyne

My friend Helen Wagner of the West Chester Garden Club asked me to write about the club's annual plant sale, and I'm happy to do so. It will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at the Landhope Farms store in Willowdale. Helen writes: "The sale is named in honor of former Club President Paula Coyne, who passed away from ovarian cancer in 2012.  She was a fabulous horsewoman, avid conservationist, and as feisty as they come. Riding provided Paula a close look at the destruction invasive plants are causing. "
Proceeds from the plant sale benefit the garden club’s civic projects, including its public pollinator garden at East Goshen Park. 

TAXES: Don't take it out on the postal employees

Tax time is rough on all of us, goodness knows, but a friend who works at one of our local post offices got a double-whammy. Not only did she have to pay her own taxes, but she had to deal with cranky customers all day. She said the last-minute filers were whining about having to pay taxes AND having to pay extra for mailing their returns.
"Do I REALLY have to mail it certified?" was a frequent complaint. (She did a funny imitation of a petulant customer.)
I was at the Unionville post office mailing off my checks on April 15 and saw an organized man preparing his state and federal returns for the post. He seemed to have it down to a science, with the stacks of tax forms, special-delivery envelopes and hand-written address labels all neatly lined up on the counter.

MASS: Farewell to Mr. Hartsky

Early Friday morning we attended a funeral -- which, sadly, has become an all-too-frequent event on the calendar in the past few months.
The funeral Mass for "Bill" Hartsky was held at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Wilmington. He had ten children and many grandchildren, so there were lots of family members there, along with his fellow Knights of Columbus garbed in their suits, plumed hats and ceremonial swords.
The priest, the Rev. Joseph R. McMahon, was a plain-spoken, charming man who knew Mr. Hartsky very well and, with the help of jotted-down memories from the family, gave him an eloquent and moving sendoff. The priest said that sometimes when speaking at funerals he has trouble discerning how God had acted in someone's life, but not in this case: Mr. Hartsky had been instrumental in building the church's chapel and in raising funds for a multitude of church projects benefitting the poor, all the while supporting and nourishing his large family.
My favorite line was when Father McMahon spoke about the ultimate mystery of faith and the afterlife.
"Do I know? No. But I believe," he said. Then, gesturing toward his ornate, full-length robe, he said, "Would I wear these clothes in public if I didn't?"

PATTON: Going the distance

On the beautiful afternoon of April 12 I watched the Young Relative compete in his track meet at Patton Middle School. Though I enjoy cheering him on, it's also a pleasure to see all these healthy young people outside exercising and competing and -- for the most part -- enjoying themselves.
We hear a lot about obesity in teens and even younger kids and the pressure it's going to put on our already beleaguered healthcare system in the not-too-distant future in terms of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Let's hope these youths stay active and involved in sports.
Oh, and did I mention that the Young Relative set two personal bests that afternoon?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

LIBRARY: Is this a solution?

"Kennett Library at Bayard Taylor Commons" is the name the library's strategic consultant, Carl Francis, has proposed as a way to get past the recent controversy over the library's name.
On Tuesday, April 12, the library board held three invitation-only sessions so that Carl could present his findings.
He said the "Kennett Library" part of the name would be "public friendly," was easy to understand, could be readily translated into Spanish, and would work online and on building signage, printed materials and newsletters. He said it also had historic roots, as the library's earliest names were "The Kennett Square Library Company," "The Kennett Square Library" and "the Kennett Square Union Library Company."
Plus, he said, it's what many people call the library already.
He rejected both "Kennett Public Library" (he said "Public" is obsolete) and "Bayard Taylor Memorial Library" ("no location, confusing, frustrating, long, sounds old, Bayard has baggage"). By "baggage" he meant that Bayard is not politically correct these days, he said; to illustrate; he showed an old engraving of him drawing a dagger.
However, Carl said he realized how important history was to local residents, and he suggested the "Bayard Taylor Commons" as reflecting the way the new library could honor Bayard Taylor better than the current library does and make him and his accomplishments relevant to the modern world. (Think of how the Brandywine River Museum honors Andrew Wyeth, Carl said, or how Longwood Gardens honors Pierre DuPont.)
Carl said that the primary job of a name is "to get people's attention and bring them in."
Some background on the whole situation: For 120 years the library's name was the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library, until, in early 2015, the library board announced that they were changing the name to the Kennett Public Library. A firestorm ensued, with accusations from the public that the board was trying to erase Kennett's history and was not listening to the public. The repercussions derailed the library board's attempt to build a new building.
A new library board was elected early this year, and one of their first actions was to hire Carl Francis to map out a way forward.

Carl Francis will give his presentation to the public at 3 and 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, in the Kennett Township building meeting room.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

HIDDEN: The "Not In This Lifetime" tour

We know a young fellow, 28 to be exact, professional, father of two, a Unionville homeowner, for all intents and purposes a clean-cut, responsible, upstanding citizen. So it was more than a surprise when he told us over dinner the other night, with a sheepish grin,  that he had scored tickets to the Guns N' Roses reunion show in Hyattsville, Md., this June. He is going not with his wife and kids but with a co-worker who lives in the D.C. area. Tickets cost north of $150 -- and those were the cheaper seats. The VIP packages go for considerably more: for $2,500 you get a seat in the first 10 rows and a backstage tour (but not, alas, a meet-and-greet with Axl and Slash).
The marketers know what they're doing. Putting on one of these tours is hugely expensive, and they know their potential targets are just like our friend: men who want to relive their glory days and generally have much higher incomes than they did in their youth.

OUTDOOR FUN: Get them away from their devices

My gym friend Kelly just told me about the "Healthy Kids Running Series," a five-week program for kids from pre-K to eighth grade that's being held at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoons at Kennett Middle School, 195 Sunny Dell Road, Landenberg. The first week was April 10 and the series "runs" through May 8 (April 17 and 24 and May 1 and 8).
Age-appropriate events include the 50-yard dash, the quarter-mile, the half-mile and the one-mile run. "Kids compete each week of the Series for a chance to earn points and at the end of the Series the top boy and girl with the most points in their respective age division receive a trophy!"
Registration is $35 and covers the entire five weeks. The website is You can sign up via Facebook or at
And parents can also run! Parents will run the one-mile course each week and don't have to pay anything extra if they have a child registered.
The series is organized by David Berger of Landenberg , who is also organizing the Oct. 15 "Mushroom Cap" half-marathon.

JEN CHAPIN: A jazzy evening in Oxford

Jen Chapin and her trio, who performed at Oxford Friends Meeting on April 9, put on a show that was very far removed from the usual earnest and soulful singer-songwriter concert. She and her band put a distinctive jazzy edge on her songs about motherhood, world hunger, marriage, Paris, New York, and Zimbabwe.
Jen performed with bassist Stephan Crump (her husband) and guitarist Jamie Fox. The contrast between Stephan and Jamie was amusing: Jamie's face remained as deadpan as a buttoned-up actuary, while Stephan grinned and winced and tossed his head back and forth. Jen used graceful, studied hand gestures to accompany her words.
My favorite song of the evening was "Tangled-up Puppets," with music by Jen's father Harry Chapin and lyrics by her mother, Sandra Chapin. (Perhaps you remember the 1970s hits "Cat's in the Cradle" and "Taxi"? Yes, THAT Harry Chapin.) Stephan and Jen gave a shout-out to Sandra for babysitting their two sons back in Brooklyn, N.Y., so they could drive down to Oxford and do the show.
One odd side note: Jen said while she and the band were having dinner before the show at an Oxford restaurant, a woman came up to her and accused her of being very rude on a prior visit, wrapping up her insults by calling her an angry and miserable person. Jen said she was baffled as she had never even been to Oxford before.
Opening the show were Scott Birney and Steve Hobson of the local Sin City Band -- what a happy surprise! They performed a nice little set that included their tribute to the Chesapeake Bay and the old Sunset Park in Jennersville, as well as the late Merle Haggard's "Momma Tried.". We chatted with Scott at intermission and he talked about the "Harry Chapin" button he was wearing on his lapel -- it seems there's a move afoot to get him inducted into the songwriters' hall of fame.

GRIT GAMES: Some friendly competition

Folks who walk or jog around the Kennett Y's indoor track on Saturday morning enjoyed some bonus entertainment on April 9: we got a great view of the Grit Games going on in the gymnasium below. Teams of four athletes competed in grueling feats of strength, agility and stamina, such as doing tuck jumps and walking while carrying a giant weight straight overhead. Some groups had been practicing for weeks and wore matching T-shirts; others were more ad hoc.
In the playoff round the final three teams did a relay race across the gym, then box jumps, then crunches. These people are not the type to be satisfied with taking home a participation trophy, so they competed fiercely to the last second.
Just after the Games concluded, I talked with a friend who participated, and she said it had been hard but fun. And I spotted another participant in the fitness center running on the treadmill. Talk about hard core!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

DIABETES: Not-so-thin mints

A friend and I were breakfasting at Perkins the other day and she reported ruefully that her HBA1c number had jumped significantly (it's a blood test that shows how well you've been controlling your diabetes over the past few months).
"What happened?" I asked.
She said she hadn't been walking at Longwood Gardens as much as usual because she'd suffered a concussion in a car crash over the winter. And she admitted that one other factor just might have played a role in her weight gain: "It was Girl Scout cookie season."

POLICE: Reduced hours for Clarkie

East Marlborough Police Chief Robert Clarke ("Clarkie") will stay on patrol in West Marlborough Township, but his hours will be reduced from 40 to 12.5 a month.
At their April 5 meeting, the West Marlborough supervisors passed a resolution updating the township's policing arrangement with East Marlborough. West Marlborough will pay $1,000 a month (12.5 hours at $80 an hour) for Clarkie's services. That will decrease the total amount West Marlborough pays for police services from $42,000 to $12,000 each year.
"He will always be available by phone," explained Supervisor Bill Wylie. "We just don't have him for as many hours."
Earlier this year the West Marlborough supervisors considered eliminating local police services entirely in the township, leaving only the Pennsylvania State Police to provide protection. But numerous township residents told them that Clarkie did a great job and they liked being able to call him as needed. Mr. Wylie described him as "extremely well-liked."
The brief township meeting was lightly attended, with only the three supervisors (Mr. Wylie, Hugh Lofting Sr., and Jake Chalfin), township secretary Shirley Walton, Township Planning Commission members Tom Brosius and Anna Myers, road crew boss Hugh Lofting Jr., and myself in attendance.

WHIP: Possible litigation?

Also at the April township meeting, Supervisor Bill Wylie announced that the board members will be holding some unscheduled executive sessions to discuss with the township solicitor possible litigation on the township's part against the Whip Tavern. Mr. Wylie said he could not say anymore about the issue because it's a legal issue. Parking has been an ongoing issue for years at the popular Springdell bar, with patrons parking illegally along the road and on private property.

DINNER: A meal at the Market in Kennett

The patrons of the Market at Liberty Place definitely skewed toward the younger side the evening of April 6. The Market was hosting a fund-raiser for the Kennett Square Preschool Co-op, and lots of families showed up for dinner. We had excellent (as always) Buddy Burgers, followed by ice cream from Punk'd Pineapple. Other members of our clan (we took up an entire large table) had crepes or pizza. One fellow tried the cod sandwich and the lobster mac and cheese from Ray Maxwell's Chef-a-Topia and pronounced it fresh and excellent (it looked delicious).
During dinner I got to sit next to a certain very cool four-year-old. He claimed to be a "fast eater" but kept setting down his cheese sandwich because there were far more interesting things going on, like counting the number of working versus burned-out light bulbs in one display.

FARM MARKET: Opening for the season!

The King family's Maple Arch Farm south of Parkesburg is opening for the season on Friday, April 22. I've written several times about this roadside market, which sells organic produce, beef, chicken, eggs, plants, canned goods and homemade baked goods (love the whoopee pies!). The market is on the west side of Limestone Road (Route 10), just north of Friendship Church Road. They are closed on Sundays.

Monday, April 4, 2016

LGFK: A "garden party" at London Grove Kindergarten

Deni-lyn Lane, the Head of School at London Grove Friends Kindergarten, wrote to tell me that the kindergarten will be starting a preschool program this year. "I also wanted to let you know that we are having a Garden Party on Sunday, April 10, from 12:30-2:30," she wrote. "Families will be planting a lettuce garden in clementine boxes, enjoying spring activities, and getting to know our school community."
London Grove Friends Kindergarten is holding a "Garden Party" on April 10.

I asked Teacher Deni-lyn to please keep me apprised of Kindergarten goings-on because I know a lot of "graduates" read this column! LGFK is at the southwest corner of Newark and Street Roads in West Marlborough.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

INSECTS: What is this creature?

I wonder if any readers can help me identify this insect. It's an inch and a quarter long, antennae included, and I find one wandering around the house every few days. When I put its photo up on social media I got several different answers. Some say it's the so-called assassin bug, which is getting all kinds of bad press, but reader "Mr. S" thinks it's a harmless Western Conifer Seed Bug. Any entomological advice would be welcomed.
Tilda wants to know what kind of bug this is.

MUSIC: Two concerts coming up

1. Singer-songwriter Jen Chapin will be performing at Oxford Friends Meetinghouse, 260 S. Third St. in Oxford, on Saturday, April 9. Proceeds benefit the Meeting. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the music starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults; children 12 and under are free. Refreshments are available at intermission.
2. Catherine Marie Charlton of Kennett Square sent me an email announcing that her trio (herself on piano; Steve Meashey on double bass; J. Jody Janetta on drums/percussion) will be giving a concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 22, at the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Kennett. She said the show will feature a preview from what she calls her "Wyeth Album, a two-year project (so far) to be released in celebration of the Andrew Wyeth 2017 centennial, including 'Helga Chorale' by composer Ann Wyeth McCoy (Andrew Wyeth's sister)." Tickets are $10 at the door or online.
Steve Meashey, J. Jody Janetta, Catherine Marie Charlton; photo by Joe del Tufo.

LONGWOOD: A sea of daffodils

A kind reader recommended that I check out "the marvelous display of Tete-a-Tete daffodils" in Longwood Gardens' Oak and Conifer Knoll (near the Eye of Water), so we went over on Sunday afternoon (after the wind calmed down a bit). She was so right: the masses of yellow flowers are spectacular. The name comes from the fact that most of the flower stalks have two "heads."
Before it gets too warm, stop by and see the early spring display, which also includes

The tete-a-tete daffodils at Longwood Gardens.
blue scilla and yellow winter aconite. The hillside full of hellebores by the Chimes Tower was just lovely as well (and it was fun to get a glimpse of the progress being made on the fountain renovation project, a huge undertaking).
While we were at Longwood we had fun watching a Lancaster photographer and his assistant doing an engagement shoot. Later we spotted the two cameramen pull into the Longwood Wendy's for dinner: the glamorous life of professional photographers!

ICE CREAM: La Michoacana is open again

Spring is officially here: we've made our first (of many) visits to La Michoacana ice cream on East State Street in Kennett. I enjoyed a mango water ice for my inaugural visit of the season, and it was great to see the owner, Noelia, again.
On Sunday evening we were sitting outside the shop eating our ice cream when a father and daughter went in, and I heard them declare that it was their first visit of the year, too.

STORM: High wind warning

The big story from this weekend was the storm that blew in on Saturday night. The wind started kicking up around 9 and by a little after 10 a fierce storm was battering us, with thunder and lightning, hail and howling gusts of wind. We lost power for 15 minutes or so around 11 p.m.
On Sunday morning the yard was littered with pine branches. I was glad to see that the daffodils and tulips were unscathed, if perhaps leaning a bit to the east.
At the West Grove-Avondale Rotary Club Pancake Breakfast at the Avondale Fire Co. (top-notch pancakes!), everyone was sharing stories about detours they encountered due to downed trees. One tree fell on the notorious "S-curve" on Newark Road. I saw half a tree down along Route 842 west of Newark Road, and another tree fell all the way across Lamborntown Road south of Street Road.
I couldn't believe that two golfers were out on the golf course at Loch Nairn. And mid-morning I saw a large pack of bicyclists on my road. I'm assuming they were taking part in the 55-mile Brandywine Valley Roubaix, sponsored by Chester County Velo and WCCX ("this Grand Fondo/Gravel Grinder takes the rider through the scenic country-side of the Brandywine Valley, one of the most unspoiled areas in the Mid-Atlantic"; no argument from me!). Proceeds from the event went toward Quest Therapeutic Services, which offers equine-assisted therapy and other services for children with disabilities.

SPAGHETTI: Dinner with the Boy Scouts

I've written before about the twice-yearly Boy Scout Troop 24 spaghetti dinner at Kennett Friends Meeting, but I'm going to rave about it again. The home-made marinara sauce was so delicious; I'm told the recipe is an old family one, and they start the process of making it days ahead of time. We also enjoyed the meatballs, the sautéed Kennett Square mushrooms and the dessert buffet.
One mother told us that the boys in this troop go on a camping trip each month, even in cold or rainy weather. Glad to hear that such hardy youths still exist!

Friday, April 1, 2016

COACH: A first-class shopping trip

I wish all stores provided such a good shopping experience as does the Coach outlet in the Tanger outlet mall on Route 30 near Lancaster.
Almost as soon as I stepped into the shop, a saleswoman greeted me, noticed that I was carrying a Coach bag with a badly beat-up strap (it has been slammed in locker and car doors one too many times) and without my even asking checked to see if they had a replacement strap. When they didn't (the bag was a 2006 model, after all) the manager, Brandon, came over, introduced himself, bowed to me and apologized. I told him I fully expected to buy a new bag anyway but appreciated his research.
The first-quality, current merchandise was displayed neatly and attractively, the shop was well organized and the prices were so deeply discounted from "list" that I bought not only a regular bag but a smaller purse that will allow me to carry my phone/camera even if I don't have pockets.
As I was checking out (they opened up a register so I didn't have to wait), another customer came up to me and said she'd noticed that I had been eyeing a pink leather bag, and she didn't want to think she had unfairly taken it. I assured her that it was a lovely bag, and it was all hers.
The salesgirl and I looked at each other in amazement.
"I've never seen anyone do that, ever," she said.
On the way out to Lancaster I took Route 30 through Gap so that I could see the huge new Urban Outfitters warehouse. I didn't need to: it is so massive that you can see it all the way from Strasburg Road as well.

CHURCH: Shedding its skin

Somebody has taken on the major and doubtless expensive challenge of renovating the former "Crossroads of Faith" church building on Strasburg Road at Mt. Carmel Road in East Fallowfield Township. The church used to have a big sign by the road exhorting passersby to "REPENT" but went out of business after its longtime pastor pleaded guilty to some unsavory charges. 
The renovator has stripped off the siding and front porch to reveal bare stone walls. I looked inside and saw a battered-looking piano and a few pews. The "Repent" sign is gone.
Before renovation: the building's east side.
During renovation: the building' east side.

The building from the Strasburg Road side.