Wednesday, June 29, 2016

KENNETT SQUARE: A stolen first edition

A first edition of Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel "Lolita" has gone missing from RLD Books, 111 South Union Street in Kennett, on June 16 or 17, according to an online alert from the "New Antiquarian," the blog of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America. It was "likely" removed from its custom box. Any bookseller who is offered the stolen book is asked to contact the bookstore owner, Roz DuPont,

A description of the book: "Nabokov, Vladimir. LOLITA. Paris: Olympia Press, 1955. First edition. 12mo. Original green wrappers. 188/223 pages. Very good. Price on back of vol. 1 has sticker with new price 1200 fr. Price on vol. 2 is 900 fr. indicating title is correct first edition. Light edgewear to spines and previous owner's name on ffep of vol. 2. Some pencil notations to penultimate end paper in rear of vol. 2. Top half-inch corner of vol. 2 back cover is missing. Overall an attractive set of this fragile classic. (Protected by Mylar jackets. REMOVED from custom box.)"

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

KENNETT: "Stop committing fraud!"

Someone is certainly ticked off.
This afternoon I spotted a yellow sign posted where Chandler Mill Road meets Kaolin Road. It read (in all caps): "This is not Delaware. If you reside here, tag your vehicle in PA. Stop committing fraud!"
There was no indication of who posted it -- no website, no email address. I took a photograph and shared it on social media, and readers informed me that an identical one has appeared at Route 41 and Sunny Dell Road.
I asked Kennett Township manager Lisa Moore if the signs had been posted by the township, and she said they had not.
Apparently the sign-poster takes exception to the fact that some people who live close to the PA/Delaware border rent post office boxes in Delaware and register their cars in the First State to save on sales tax and inspection costs.
But there's also a fully above-board explanation: Many Pennsylvania residents work for Delaware businesses and drive company cars that, of course, display Delaware tags.
Commented one wag, "I wonder if the sign-posters buy their alcohol in PA state stores or slip across to DE to buy it..."
This sign has appeared at the intersection of Chandler Mill and Kaolin Roads in Kennett Township.

Monday, June 27, 2016

MICHAEL HERR: We've all been there

Journalists tend to be either good writers or good reporters. Michael Herr, who died June 23, was brilliant at both.
In his most famous work, "Dispatches," he plunged the reader into a confusing world of Hueys, clicks, tracers and sucking chest wounds, deliberately not explaining the military lingo and acronyms to give just a glimmer of the disorientation felt by the Americans fighting in Vietnam.
So many writers today are self-absorbed, shallow, snarky, only out to score points. Herr was none of those things. He was a good enough reporter to make his subjects comfortable, and then he'd just listen. They'd come out with heartbreaking, hilarious, perfect quotations, and then he'd weave those quotes and the details he observed (the peaches in the C-rations) into compelling, powerful sentences.
His writer's voice is unmistakeable, and the people he writes about are unforgettable: the avuncular soldier who simply can't believe that a comrade signed up for another whole year "in country" when he could be killed at any second; Tim Page, the British combat photographer who views "glamour" as an inherent part of war; the veteran with PTSD who only wishes he were as lucky as a blind sidewalk beggar whose sign reads "My Days Are Darker Than Your Nights."
I didn't need to look up any of those details. In fact, I don't have a copy of "Dispatches" anymore; I suspect it's in a former boyfriend's bookshelf. We were both newspaper people back in the early 1980s, and we read "Dispatches" so many times we almost memorized it. It was a stunning achievement of writing and reportage and passion we could only hope to emulate.

TRACK & FIELD: A road trip to Atlantic City

It's on to the Nationals in Houston for the Young Relative!
The UHS student won the 1,500-meter race in his age group on Sunday at the regional AAU qualifying meet at Stockton University, near Atlantic City.
Five members of the Tally-ho clan were there to cheer him on. The meet started at 8:30 a.m., and looking at the schedule the evening before we were happy to see that the YR's event was the second on the list. We'll get there by 9 and we'll be home before lunchtime, we thought.
Oh, so wrong. So very, very wrong. The first event was the 400-meter run. Each race was only one lap around the track, and as soon as one heat finished, the next one started.
There were THREE FULL HOURS of heats. Do the math as to how many heats that involves.
What's funny is that initially we were all boasting about how quickly we'd made the trek from Unionville to Atlantic City. I took the Walt Whitman Bridge and the AC Expressway and made it there in 90 minutes, beating my GPS's projected time by 15 minutes. Little did I know that I could have slept in and even gotten some yard work done!
The Tally-hos are eternally grateful to the coaches, parents and athletes of the iHolla Track Club of Philadelphia, who let us share the canopy they'd set up in the bleachers. Of course, we got to chatting and laughing with them during the seemingly endless 400-meter event, and by the time the YR's race started they were cheering for him as vigorously as we were.
As we were leaving after YR's race, one of the iHolla coaches congratulated the YR and told him he was more than welcome to join their club. "Where are you from?" he asked.
"Chadds Ford," replied the YR.
"Chadds Ford? They have a winery there!" said the coach.

THE AIR: Hot-air balloons overhead

The Chester County Balloon Festival was held at New Garden Flying Field this past weekend, and as I was heading east on Street Road toward Willowdale early Sunday morning it was very cool to see so many of the colorful hot-air balloons drifting along up in the air. Chase vehicles seemed to make up the majority of the traffic on the road. Later in the day local people were posting on social media photographs of the balloons floating above their neighborhoods.
Linda, who lives in the Traditions at Longwood development in East Marlborough, sent me this photograph, saying, "My husband was surprised while walking the dog to come upon a hot air balloon on our street."

A hot-air balloon lands in the Traditions at Longwood neighborhood.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

KENNETT: Concert series starts

The annual concert series at Anson B. Nixon Park started on Wednesday, June 22, and it was a terrific way to begin the summer. The performers were father and son Ken and Brad Kolodner, along with Alex Lacquement, playing "progressive Appalachian" (I especially liked the sound of the hammered dulcimer).
We were delighted to run into Kyle Kogut, who just received his MFA degree and is back in the area teaching. He was at the concert with his mother, Eileen. 
The food provider for the evening was Chef-a-Topia. Unfortunately their food truck broke down en route to the park, so a lot of people's stomachs were rumbling until the caterers arrived and fired up the BBQ grill. For dessert we had La Michoacana popsicles served by Noelia Scharon and her visiting Aunt Rosita.
The free concerts continue every Wednesday starting at 7 p.m.

Friday, June 24, 2016

JENNERSVILLE: If that's your bag

This afternoon I was walking across the parking lot toward the Jennersville Giant, carrying my motley collection of beat-up grocery tote bags from car dealerships, real estate firms and home-improvement businesses. I passed a woman unloaded into her car a cartload full of neatly loaded, perfectly matched grocery bags. They were white canvas with baby-blue straps and a lobster motif, like something you'd order from L.L. Bean.
"Wow, you are so organized!" I said to her.
She laughed and said she'd received the tote bags as part of a goodie package at a recent wedding.
"Believe me," she said, "There's nothing organized about it whatsoever."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

UNIONVILLE: A good place for a blaze

If I were to follow the lead of so many news outlets that use screaming, not-quite-the-whole-story headlines, I'd entitle this item "Book Burning in Unionville!"
Yes, books were indeed burned: cartons of used textbooks, that is, that were being discarded by the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. From what I gather, they caught fire while they were in the recycling truck being hauled away. The truck driver, obviously a level-headed person, drove straight to the Po-Mar-Lin fire station and dumped the smoldering cartons in the west parking lot. A half-dozen volunteer firefighters showed up and extinguished the smoky blaze.
I happened to be driving by at lunchtime Tuesday, June 21, and spotted (and smelled) the commotion. Of course I stopped to take a photograph.
One firefighter friend told me he even saw a book in the pile entitled "How the White House Works."
The volunteer Po-Mar-Lin firefighters extinguish a large pile of discarded books at lunchtime June 21.

UNIONVILLE: Rescued dogs on parade

The rescued dog parade at Unionville's Plantation Field on Wednesday, June 22, part of the "Jumps for Rescues" horse show, attracted two dozen canines and their human companions. The dogs were led around a grassy spot near the ring (the footing in the ring itself is too hot for their paws), and awards were given for the youngest (Benjamin), the oldest (I didn't catch the dog's name, sorry), the biggest (Nanook), and the smallest dog (Taco; competition was steep in this latter category). There was also a prize for the dog rescued from farthest away (Ireland! The lurcher, Fly, belongs to the new Cheshire huntsman, Barry Magner). Proceeds from the horse show's entry fees went to dog rescue organizations. Kathleen Crompton was the organizer of the charming event.
I didn't bring a dog, but I did get to hold a sweet little papillon named Bella during the parade while her mother showed her two rescues. Bella came from a breeder so she didn't get to participate.

Some of the human and canine participants in the Rescued Dog Parade at Plantation Field.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

CHATHAM: Latest plans for Route 41 traffic

PennDOT's latest plan for slowing Route 41 traffic involves installing median strips (PennDOT calls them "gateways") at the north and south edges of the village of Chatham. Officials from the state agency unveiled the plan at an informal public meeting on Tuesday evening at Stillwaters Presbyterian Church, and the church parking lot was filled with curious Chatham residents.
The northern median would be near the Chatham Diner and the southern one would be just south of Church Alley. The current northbound and southbound lanes would be shifted onto what is now the shoulder of the road to allow room for the median strip to be built. The project would be done completely on the state's right of way on either side of the road, which would speed the approval process.
Construction of the median strips could begin in 2017. The plan to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Routes 841 and 41, where there is now a flashing light, is still on the table, but the less involved "gateway" project would be done first.
Whether there would be landscaping in the median remains to be seen and would require a maintenance agreement with local officials.
The residents I spoke to at the meeting seemed pleased with the concept and happy at the thought that something might finally be done about the traffic. I heard one man asking about the width of the lanes and wondering whether oversize trucks would be able to negotiate the medians (Route 41 is heavily used by tractor-trailers).
Here are some of the charts and maps presented at the meeting.

The location of the proposed "gateways" on Route 41. Left is north (toward Gap) and right is south (toward Avondale).

This chart gives the specs for the medians.

The gateway on the north side of the village, near the Chatham Diner.

The gateway on the south side of the village, just south of Church Alley.

WEST GROVE: He should be standing up!

I complimented a Cochranville gym friend on his brand-new summer haircut, and he said he had to do a double-take when he walked into his West Grove barbershop earlier that day and saw the owner sitting in a chair getting his own hair cut by an employee.
"I had to look real close," my friend explained. "He was completely out of context, sitting down!"

KENNETT: Be prepared

A friend and I met for lunch at the Half-Moon today and found adjacent parking spots right on State Street. She went to feed the parking meter and found that it was out of order: a quarter was stuck in the slot. Being a resourceful country woman, my friend rummaged through her purse and found a nifty little Transformers-like tool, one incarnation of which was a pair of pliers. She readily pulled out the stuck quarter and handed it to me.
"Why are you giving it to me?" I asked.
"Because it's your turn to buy lunch," she said. (Silly me: I should have known.)
We sat on the rooftop and had a great view of the storm rolling in from the west, although in the end there were only a few drops of rain. What a tasty meal: I had bison sliders with a salad and my friend had a bison burger with cheese, mushrooms and caramelized onions. Yum!

Monday, June 20, 2016


The other day I was chatting with a couple visiting from Hayward, California (in the Bay Area), and they were awestruck by the beauty of our area. "Verdant" is the word they used, and they also noticed how loud and distinct the birds' songs are. I agreed. The wrens in my backyard are especially merry season. They've been singing all day long and have built a second nest, this time in the bird feeder. The juveniles are very cute, with that unmistakeable cocked-up tail.
I've seen occasional hummingbirds at my feeder but not as frequently as in previous years. I'm keeping the feeder filled with fresh nectar anyway.
A few other nature notes: I had a great lettuce crop this spring but wretched luck with my spinach, and a friend reports exactly the same thing. Perhaps it had something to do with the odd spring weather. And for the first time ever, my peony bloomed! Before this spring, a few buds would develop but they'd wither away. Not this year: they opened up into beautiful huge pink flowers.

UNIONVILLE: Father's Day surprise

Did you feel a distinct disturbance in the Earth's force-field on Sunday evening? That's because the Tally-ho patriarch permitted us to pick up the tab for his Father's Day dessert at Foxy Loxy in Unionville. He ALWAYS, everywhere, grabs the check, and any protests are met with a glare and a withering, "Come on." Happy Father's Day, Dad! (His choice for Father's Day ice cream was Raspberry Chip.)

UNIONVILLE: Father's Day surprise

Did you feel a distinct disturbance in the Earth's force-field on Sunday evening? That's because the Tally-ho patriarch permitted us to pick up the tab for his Father's Day dessert at Foxy Loxy in Unionville. He ALWAYS, everywhere, grabs the check, and any protests are met with a glare and a withering, "Come on." Happy Father's Day, Dad! (His choice for Father's Day ice cream was Raspberry Chip.)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

HONEY BROOK: A Fifties diner on Route 322

This week's dining adventure took us north to Honey Brook, which is so far away that it's hard to believe it's still within the Chester County limits. We'd heard good things about Wimpy & Dee's, a classic Fifties-style joint on Route 322, and we definitely were not disappointed.
Blessed with hearty appetites, we ordered hamburgers, and they turned out to be real, juicy, old-fashioned hamburgers, cooked to order, rather than the prefab meat-like discs that pass for burgers these days. They came with delicious sweet-potato fries.
My date ordered a double burger and it was so large that at first he faced logistical problems just managing to eat the thing. He confessed to the friendly young waitress that, not knowing it would be so big, he'd ordered a double because he was used to doing so at fast-food joints.
"Yep, that's what everybody does!" she exclaimed, nodding.
The place closes at 9 p.m. but even after the staff took the outside umbrellas inside, people were still arriving. As we left at about 8:30, a party of 13 young Mennonite people arrived and the staff didn't seem at all put out at having to move tables around to accommodate them.
As we were paying we told the cashier that we were first-time visitors, and she told us she approved of our first-time menu choices. Actually everything on the menu looked delicious. Next time I'm going for one of the milkshakes, served in those traditional metal cups (we could hear the whirring of the milkshake makers).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

QUAKERS: Summer meetings for worship

Each summer several of our area's normally closed historic Quaker meetinghouses open their doors for worship. Here's the schedule: London Britain Meeting (1415 New London Road, Landenberg), 10:30 a.m. each Sunday through September 4; Old Kennett Meeting (Route 1 at the entrance to the Kendal at Longwood community), 9 a.m. June 26, July 31, and August 28; Pennsgrove Meeting (725 Penns Grove Road, Lincoln University), 10 a.m. June 26, July 24, and August 28; Homeville Meeting (4904 Homeville Road, Cochranville), 2 p.m. August 28; Parkersville Meeting (1232 Parkersville Rd., Kennett Square), 2 p.m. Sept. 11.

LONDONDERRY: Former school up for auction

Attend any school board meeting and odds are you'll hear parents holding forth about the length of the school day, class size, textbooks, cafeteria food, homework, class rankings, bus safety, and so forth.
Well, irate parents, here's your chance: Start your own school!
The former George Fox Friends School in Cochranville is going on the auction block at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 28. Potential buyers can tour the 8,490-square-foot school on a 10.6-acre property from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 23; from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 25; and from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 30. The address is 2009 Gap-Newport Road (Route 41) in Londonderry Township. Beiler-Campbell Auction Services is the broker.

KENNETT SQUARE: Third Thursday starts up again

The first "Third Thursday" celebration of the summer occurred on June 16 in downtown Kennett. The heavy rain earlier in the day passed through, and from what I could see State Street was full of people sitting outside enjoying their dinner. One friend of mine who is a devoted Third Thursday attendee said she had delicious lasagna at La Verona.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Lowering permit fees

West Marlborough residents planning to do some home improvements may want to delay their projects for a month or so, because the township supervisors are planning to reduce the schedule of fees that the township charges for various household renovations.
At the June township meeting a Street Road resident asked the supervisors if they could cut him a break on the building permit fees he was being charged to finish his attic. The supervisors suggested he hold off on doing the project if possible.
The supervisors said they have been reviewing the township's fees and will present the revised fee schedule at a township meeting before approving it.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Chasin' for Chalfin

I just received an email reminding me about Chasin' for Chalfin, the 5K and 10K trail race to be held on Saturday, June 25, at the gorgeous Runnymede Sanctuary here in West Marlborough Township. It starts at 9 a.m. rain or shine at 128 Runnymede Rd. You can register onsite starting at 7:45 a.m. or save $10 by preregistering at
The race is run in honor of West Marlborough resident and township supervisor Jake Chalfin, who uses a wheelchair due to his injury during a steeplechase in 2010. Proceeds from the race initially went to help Jake meet his expenses, but according to the website of the sponsor, Trail Creek Outfitters, "Our race has evolved over the years and we are now able to share the race proceeds with other individuals needing adaptive equipment and organizations who support individuals with such needs."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

LONGWOOD: A silly evening with the Savoy Company

On Saturday evening we saw the Savoy Company's production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance" at the outdoor theater at Longwood Gardens. The extremely silly tone of the evening was set as soon as we walked into the amphitheater and heard shrill police whistles and disturbances in the audience. The actors playing police officers were warning the audience that there were pirates in the crowd -- horror! -- but assuring us that the constabulary had everything under control. One officer spotted an audience member in a bow tie and a seersucker jacket and summoned his fellow policemen, calling out, "Preppy pirate!"
The production was great fun, with a lot of laughs and familiar songs like "With cat-like tread" (better known as "Hail, hail the gang's all here"). Highlights for me were the amazing soprano Alize Rozsnyai as Mabel, Ethan M. Cadoff as "the very model of a modern major-general" and Guillermo L. Bosch as the sergeant of police ("a policeman's lot is not a happy one"). As for the plot, suffice it to say that it hinges on a misunderstanding between the words "pilot" and "pirate."
After a hot day, the evening could not have been more pleasant, with a lovely light breeze.
The only blot on the evening was a photographer who dashed back and forth in the aisle between the front and rear sections taking photos. During the finale she stood right in front of us, taking photos and then reviewing them on her camera's screen. It was distracting. Couldn't this have been done during the dress rehearsal?

HARRISBURG: The Young Relative runs again

Why would one drive all the way to Harrisburg for a five-minute event? Why, when it's the Young Relative competing in a Mid-Atlantic District track and field meet. On Saturday I got up early and headed west to Bishop McDevitt High School, a pleasant drive made much easier by the 65-mph speed limit on Route 283.
The stadium was full of athletes, running clubs and family members who had clearly been to many large events like this and made themselves at home with their own tents and canopies, folding chairs and coolers. I saw one proud father wearing a T-shirt that identified him as "Arianna's Dad," complete with photos of her in action. A few of the women were wearing head-to-toe black robes, and some of the female athletes wore hijabs (Muslim head scarves) while competing. Everyone from the Marlton Track Club was very conspicuous in orange, and one mother was already getting hoarse cheering for everyone on the team.
Male and female athletes were warming up around the campus. I saw one group of young boys from the Delaware Elite Track Club doing sideways jumping jacks while some other boys from the club practiced their starting technique again and again.
Fortunately the Young Relative's race was early in the day, before it got too hot. He had us worried there for a few laps -- my brother was tracking his lap times -- but he won. Of course, all of us cheered like lunatics. He shook hands with the other competitors after they finished, joked around with a boy he knew from Lionville and eventually met up with us to receive hugs and congratulations.
His next level of competition is a Region 2 meet at Stockton University near Atlantic City later in June. Perhaps he'll pack his spikes without being reminded.

UHS: A graduation day to remember

The day started inauspiciously for a friend of mine whose son was graduating from UHS, and then it just kept getting worse. The family was late getting started because my friend's mother was 10 minutes late. As they turned off Route 7 en route to the University of Delaware stadium, where the ceremony was taking place, they were a mere three cars behind a slow-moving line-painting crew. When they turned onto a side road to get past the crew, they encountered a parade of fire trucks. By the time they got to the stadium, they'd already missed the "Pomp and Circumstance" procession.
Things didn't get any better afterward. The family had planned to have lunch at Lily's in Kennett, but when they got there they found that the electricity was out. They headed to a West Chester restaurant and were seated. It was then that the waiter slipped on an ice cube and dumped a bowl of miso soup onto my friend's lap.
At that point, she said, all she could do was laugh.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

HOOD'S: Hard to resist

At lunch today in Unionville, my friend sat so she could keep a close eye on her truck bed, where she had stowed a brand-new, in-the-carton Husqvarna weed-whacker that she was returning to Lowe's.
At one point during lunch I noticed her peering suspiciously out the window. I turned around to see a group of people getting into their car somewhat near her truck.
"They really don't look like criminals," I protested.
"A new weed-whacker can turn ANYONE into a criminal," she said darkly.

JENNERSVILLE: The new Penn Medicine facility

If you haven't been to the spanking-new Penn Medicine facility in Jennersville, here's a navigation guide. It's not like your standard medical office building, with long corridors that lead to separate, clearly demarcated departments.
No: you walk in through the automatic doors and right there in front of you is a desk with a big sign behind it saying "Penn Medicine." It looks like a receptionist welcoming desk, but it's not: it's actually the place where you sign in for whatever study you're having done.
I didn't know this, so I looked at the directory sign on the wall, saw "Radiology" and walked in the direction indicated. But there didn't seem to be a separate "radiology" department; everything is in an open-plan kind of layout. I walked in the opposite direction and, without going through any doors, found myself in a bustling family medicine office.
Thank goodness one of the pleasant front-desk ladies spotted me wandering around looking increasingly anxious and clued me in.
At that point I did see a small sign on top of the desk indicating that was indeed the spot where you sign in if you're there for an imaging study or bloodwork. Perhaps the sign needs to be bigger to catch the attention of worried patients? Perhaps I need to be more observant?

WEST MARLBOROUGH: The future of Doe Run Village

The future of Doe Run Village was briefly discussed at the June meeting of the West Marlborough Township supervisors.
Nancy Truitt, whose family owns the village, told the supervisors that she is 63 years old and her mother is 93, so they are thinking about doing some preliminary estate planning. She said several times that they very much want to preserve the village, which they purchased in the late 1980s when the King Ranch was broken up. She said she and her family are thinking about options for what to do with the restored village, which she said takes "a lot of effort to maintain," and want to work with the township during the process.
Bill Wylie, chairman of the supervisors, thanked Ms. Truitt for attending and characterized the village as a unique entity.
Doe Run, which is one 15-acre tax parcel, encompasses several rental houses along Route 82, a garage that the Truitts rent to the township, and a small office building used by the township and the Brandywine Conservancy. The Truitts also live in the village.
Ms. Truitt was accompanied by her attorney, Jim Thomas of Lancaster.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Quarterly police report

Also at the June 7 West Marlborough Township meeting, Lieut. Rich D'Ambrosio, station commander of the Pennsylvania State Police barracks at Avondale, reported that in the past three months his troopers had responded to 52 calls in West Marlborough. There were nine crashes (three of them involved driving under the influence and three involved injuries), four criminal incidents, and two less serious incidents involving ID theft and disorderly conduct.
He said that as always, West Marlborough is a peaceful place to live. He noted that having only four criminal incidents in three months is "fantastic," saying that elsewhere the troopers deal with that many in a single shift.
He once again advised residents to keep their vehicles locked to prevent thefts and to report any suspicious activity.

FEMA: Revision of flood insurance map

Much of the June 7 West Marlborough Township meeting was taken up by a discussion of the new flood insurance map issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Township engineer Al Giannantonio explained the revisions, which affect only two houses in the township, one near Springdell and one on Highland Dairy Road. Al brought along the large-scale maps, thick binders of documents, checklists and even CDs containing information about the plan.
At one point the engineer held up a list of definitions.
"Government loves acronyms," he explained dryly.
A few audience members near me wondered aloud how many taxpayer dollars were being used to fund this federal government initiative.

TOUR: Postmortem on the Library tour

I've heard a lot of positive comments about the Library's Home & Garden Day on June 4. One seasoned tourgoer said she and her companion have learned to set their itinerary based on who is providing the food at each location. They first visit the homes that are serving their favorite food (Portabella's, in this case), just in case it runs out.
 The day after the tour, I ran into a couple whose house was on the tour and they couldn't stop talking about what a wonderful experience it had been.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

HOME AND GARDEN DAY: Another great tour

Thank you, Margaret Hennes.
If she hadn't persuaded us to visit the garden at WynEden on the Library's annual house and garden tour, we would have skipped it. Instead, it turned out to the most memorable part of the day.
What a magical property! There's a picturesque pond with water lilies and quaint bridges; a vast slope completely covered by hostas spills down from the house to the lake; and paths take you past other tucked-away gardens as they meander through the hills full of mountain laurels, azaleas, and rhododendrons. A high mesh deer fence surrounds the property.
In one bed near the lake I saw a variety of spiderwort I've never seen before, with beautiful white and pale purple flowers. And I had never seen pitcher plants growing anywhere except at the carnivorous plant room at Longwood Gardens, but there they were, thriving right at the lake's edge.
We heard the owner, Wayne Guymon, telling some other guests that maintaining the ten-acre property is a full-time job, although he views it as a pleasure and a privilege rather than a job.
Our West Marlborough neighbor Sunny McGeorge was stationed by the lake doing a painting of some flowers. She said she had visited WynEden before with her Garden Club and jumped at the chance to be one of the volunteer artists on the tour.
Other highlights on the tour were the gorgeous infinity pool at the Gahagans' on Smith Bridge Road; the recycled architectural details, the flower arrangements and the quirky artwork at Cloud Hill on Nine Gates Road; and the "three blind mice" perched on a tall clock at Luedekes' old schoolhouse on Fairville Road.
The parkers on the tour put in yeoman's duty this year, as several of the houses had limited parking areas and guests had to park on the shoulder of the road instead of in someone's field. The parkers were also very proactive about asking if we knew the way to the next house on the tour.
Just driving along the back roads of southern Chester County and northern New Castle County on our way between the houses was a treat. And unexpectedly we also saw some amazing sports cars out and about: two Ferraris, a Lamborghini and a Delorean.
Once again the well-organized ladies of the library's Special Events Committee did a terrific job coordinating all the details of the tour, from the well-drawn map, to the fresh flower arrangements, to the library program exhibits at each house. And I liked the new method of gaining admission: you turned in your tickets at the first house you visited and were issued a wristband. So much easier than the old system of tying a paper ticket onto your person with a piece of string.

CLOSED: Smith's Bridge is being painted

Just a warning that Smith's Bridge over the Brandywine in Montchanin is closed until the end of June for painting. Smith's Bridge Road is blocked at Route 100, but it's actually open past the Granogue estate and right up to the bridge itself, which is chained off.

Friday, June 3, 2016

PLANTATION FIELD: A show for horses and dogs

Kathleen Crompton asked me to mention an upcoming "Jump for Rescues" jumper/schooling horse show at the Plantation Field grounds starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 22. Net proceeds from entry fees will benefit dog rescues, and you are welcome to bring your rescue dog and join a parade in the ring at noon. More details are on Plantation Field's website. The PetValu store in Kennett is the sponsor.

SAFETY: Four feet is the law!

Just now I was asked by a bicyclist to remind motorists that, when they are passing a bicyclist, they must allow four feet between their vehicle and the bike. It's Pennsylvania law. It's also the safe and correct thing to do.
Four feet means 48 inches. Period. End of story. Even on winding, narrow Chester County roads with no shoulders, or if you're in a hurry to get somewhere and don't feel like crawling at 15 mph behind a bicyclist.
If you get the impression that Tilda takes this personally and is steaming mad at the moment, you would be correct.

Here's the language in the driver's manual:
1. Before passing, you must first decide whether you can maneuver around the bicyclist. Be sure to check for oncoming traffic. When passing, you must allow at least four (4) feet between your vehicle and a bicycle in order to pass safely. If necessary and if you can do it safely, you are permitted to cross the center double yellow line so you can maintain the four (4) feet of clearance between your vehicle and the bicycle.
2. Unless making a left turn, bicyclists traveling more slowly than passing vehicles must keep to the right side of the roadway and must travel in the same direction as the rest of traffic. However, this requirement is waived on roads with a single lane in each direction.
3. When there is only one travel lane, bicyclists may use any portion of the lane to avoid hazards on the roadway, including keeping a safe distance from stopped and parked cars.
4. Drivers cannot turn into the path of a bicyclist who is riding straight ahead on a roadway or shoulder.
5. You cannot force a bicyclist off the road. If you do this, you may face criminal charges.
6. Bicyclists are considered to be vehicle operators and are expected to obey all traffic laws; however, they may travel at less than the posted minimum speed and may not be cited for impeding traffic. Bicyclists may operate on a shoulder or berm, but are not required to do so.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

OPTICAL: Patients and patience

As anyone who has ever dealt with the public knows, it is not always an easy job. So I was especially impressed by the unfailingly kind and cheerful service provided by the front-desk people at Miller Eye Care in the Jennersville shopping center. A pal was having his eyes dilated for an exam, and I was asked to provide transport home, so I sat in the waiting room for an hour one evening, knitting and observing.
The place was extremely busy, with the phone ringing and customers coming in to pick up eyeglasses or contacts, to get eye exams and to get their glasses tweaked. Everyone was greeted, many by name, as soon as they entered. Some patients spoke limited English, and the front-desk ladies were amazingly patient, helping them to fill out forms or apologizing for not being able to pronounce a foreign name. One little girl beamed when the ladies told her how stylish her new purple specs were.
As we were checking out, I complimented the ladies and they were quick to say that they loved their jobs, and it was a team effort.
One amusing side note: for perhaps the first time ever, I became a fashion consultant. A total stranger buying new glasses asked me for my opinion about three frames she was considering. I suppose I do have pretty cool glasses, but absolutely nothing else about me is the least bit fashionable -- trust me on this. One pair of glasses suited her perfectly, so I had no trouble giving her my confident advice. I probably should have asked about the relative costs first, but it wasn't my money, was it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

PLANTS: A different country

Thanks to the Internet, e-mail and social media, our global world seems so much smaller these days. Just like we are, my friends in England are busy with work and family life and suffering through a contentious political season. But then a moment occurs when I remember that London is a long way from Unionville.
On social media yesterday I posted a photo of the monster jack-in-the-pulpit that's growing out back in the shade garden (40 inches tall!). A baffled British friend responded to the photo with a question mark: he was completely unfamiliar with the plant and had no idea what I was talking about or how remarkable it was.
It seems they don't have jack-in-the-pulpits in the UK, those wretched unfortunates.
Then again, they don't have poison ivy, either.

SCHOOL: Drawing to a close

Yesterday afternoon I was driving past UHS and Patton Middle School just before the end of the school day and slowed down to say hello to the crossing guard.
"Just a few days left!" I said.
"Twelve," she replied immediately. It was almost as if she were counting the days.