Monday, October 31, 2016


Saturday morning I was sitting at my computer working on my latest editing project (it's a 70-chapter book about how to start your own psychotherapy practice) when I heard the distinctive sound of wagon wheels and hooves on the road. I quickly looked outside and saw a procession of gorgeous horse-drawn carriages. The occupant of one was tootling his shiny horn as he passed by.
I found out later it was the fall drive of the Four-in-Hand Club of Philadelphia. What a spectacle!

FIELD HOCKEY: Hail Unionville!

On Sunday I had the pleasure of chatting with a member of the Unionville High School field hockey team, which this week is embarking on its post-season schedule. I asked her why the team is so successful. She thought for a moment and said that although there are some really talented individual players on the team, the real key is that everyone plays so well together on the field.
Best of luck, girls!

SCOUTS: Spaghetti with the stars

Some notable names from American history -- among them "Benjamin Franklin" and "The Alamo" -- served us an excellent spaghetti (actually linguini) dinner at Kennett Friends Meeting on Saturday. "Ronald Reagan," wearing a white apron, was working in the kitchen and told us we had just missed a visit from "Aaron Burr" ("you know, the guy who shot Hamilton!").
That is, if their name tags are to be believed, which I somehow doubt. I think it far more likely they were members of Boy Scout Troop 24, which organized the twice-yearly fundraising dinner. We look forward to chowing down on the Scouts' delicious meatballs, sauce and sauteed mushrooms every time.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

SPORTS: Hard-core fans

Among our party at dinner on Sunday night were some hard-core professional sports fans. One guy's cellphone kept making noises, and he explained that he had it programmed to alert him to goals, touchdowns or other significant plays made by the teams or athletes he was following (each on was assigned a different tone, which he had trained himself to recognize). I was fascinated by his level of devotion, which I don't think was financially motivated.
Another man at the table said you can actually buy (or rig up on your own) a wireless strobe light and siren combo that signals every time your favorite ice hockey team scores. His wife sensibly pointed out that such a gadget would cause some major household friction if the team is playing a West Coast game.

SPCA: Animal lovers

I have nothing but kind words to say about the good people at the Brandywine Valley SPCA in West Chester. Last weekend we stopped in to meet Clarence, a stray cat they were featuring on their website, and in short measure decided to give him a forever home.
As soon as word got out, the workers were thrilled, as he was a favorite with the staff. One woman who had become especially attached to him started to cry with happiness. We gave the SPCA a modest donation and you'd think we had single-handedly saved the place from bankruptcy, everyone was so grateful.
The adoption paperwork went smoothly and the staff were good enough to pack up Clarence's toys and favorite food for us to take home. He has spent the week sleeping, eating and exploring his new home, which we're trying to make as calm and loving as we can. Now he just needs to gain some weight!

Clarence takes a Sunday afternoon snooze on the sofa.

ROUTE 100: Closed at the Delaware line

As the message boards along Route 1 near Route 52 have doubtless informed you, Route 100 is going to be closed at the Delaware line starting at 7 a.m. Monday, Nov. 7.
According to the Delaware Department of Transportation's website, workers from Eastern Highway Specialists will be removing and replacing the concrete deck on a bridge along Route 100 (Montchanin Road) just north of Twaddell Mill Road.
The closure is expected to last until Friday, Dec. 9, depending on the weather. DelDOT suggests motorists use Route 52 (Kennett Pike) instead of Route 100 for the duration. 
(In case you're interested, the state line crosses Route 100 between Twaddell Mill and Cossart Roads.)

WEST GROVE: A Quaker dance party

The benches had been pushed back, creating a large and welcoming space at West Grove Friends Meetinghouse.
But Alyce Denver, the meeting's clerk, was frankly a little nervous as the blues band Dukes of Destiny got ready to take the stage the evening of Saturday, Oct. 22.
"Do you think people are going to dance?" she asked me.
She needn't have worried. As soon as the Dukes started playing, people started dancing and they didn't stop until music did.
We saw lots of friends and had a great time at the concert, which was organized jointly by the West Grove and London Grove Quaker meetings. A few days after the show I spoke to Rebecca Mitchell, one of the organizers, and she told me that about 80 people showed up. I was glad to hear that they plan to ask the Dukes to return!

WEST MARLBOROUGH: An impatient driver

At last month's West Marlborough Township meeting, a few residents said they had witnessed motorists running the stop signs on Newark Road where it intersects Route 926 (Street Road) at the London Grove crossroads and also where it intersects Route 842 (Upland Road).
I can top that: the evening of Oct. 25 I got honked at for NOT running the latter stop sign. I couldn't believe it. I looked in my rear-view mirror and the guy was making an X-shape by crossing his index fingers. What was that supposed to mean -- that it was an intersection? Yes. Thank you.
The impatient driver stayed behind me on Newark Road (that actually surprised me) but then zoomed past me as soon as he could on Route 926.

SWIMMERS: Big meet at the Y

Just a heads up to Kennett YMCA members that there is going to be a huge youth swim meet, "Dragon Fest 2016," there on Saturday evening, Nov. 5, and all day Sunday, Nov. 6. The Y is going to be jammed and, I speak from experience, parking will be next to impossible not only in the Y lots but on surrounding streets. Some Y classes will be cancelled because much of the facility will be taken over by kids in swimsuits, their parents and their siblings.
I greatly appreciate the fact that the Y management has given us ample notice of the event so we can plan accordingly.

KENNETT: Artisan Fair at Advent

My loyal reader Gaila (and good PR person!) asked me to put something in the paper about Artisan Fair that the Episcopal Church of the Advent, 401 N. Union St., Kennett Square, is holding from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12. "Local artists will be selling their paintings, photography, jewelry, fused glass, woodworking, ceramics, textiles, sculpture & more," she writes. "Admission is free, and the artists will be on hand to answer questions about their work." 

This will be the third year for the fundraising event, and she notes that the organizers even splurged for a banner across State Street this year!

LONGWOOD: The end of Nightscape

We went to Nightscape, the summer light show at Longwood Gardens, on Oct. 26, just a few days before it ended. Like last year's version, the creators use the gardens as their palette for a very cool experience.
Although the lake part of the show was great (the lights make it look like the water is splashing up as the jumping fish land), the topiary garden was my favorite part of the display. The shrubs are transformed into wedding cakes, with something different going on at each tier, either rolling tribal graphics or pulsating periscopes. And the music for this part of the show is lively and rhythmic, unlike the trippy, meditative sounds in the rest of the displays.
Nightscape has been hugely popular. Because we waited until almost the last minute to visit, the gardens were jammed with visitors. The crowds were moving especially slowly because it seemed like everyone was stopping to take photos on their cellphones or tablets. There were so many people standing in front of what looks like a swirling porthole into another dimension (it's just a hedge in daylight) that I could barely see it. If Nightscape returns next summer, we will try to pick a less crowded night.

HACKERS: Attack from Eastern Europe

A Unionville friend reports that she set off a potentially catastrophic attack on her computer merely by opening a text that appeared to be from Federal Express. The hackers -- they turned out to be from Lithuania -- managed to encrypt all of her computer files, and then demanded a ransom for them, to be paid within three days in bitcoins (an online medium of exchange).
She did some research and found someone willing to do a bitcoins transaction, but he wanted to meet her at a Starbucks in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. She decided against this and called a local computer guy who managed to salvage her files by finding an email attachment that had not been encrypted. He also installed a storage system that will automatically back up her files from now on. 
As she was sharing this harrowing tale, I recalled an odd text from Amazon that I had received, and opened, a few days before on my phone. I drove straight home and made sure my computer was OK. So far, so good -- and I also installed a backup system.

Monday, October 24, 2016

KENNETT: Haunted History Tour

We served as guides on Friday night's Haunted History Tour through downtown Kennett, and I can only hope that the tourgoers had as much fun as we did.
Starting off at the corner of State and Union Streets, we encountered the ghosts of Sandy Flash, Esther Hayes, William Chalfant, Mary Pennock, William H. Worrall (with an antique coffin), Letitia Aubrey, Esther Pennock, Marie Shortlidge, and the Rev. John Scott Gilmore. The actors all "got into" their roles as they shared their strange stories.
After the tour Lynn Sinclair, who wrote the script and recruited the actors and guides, offered cider and cookies at her Sunrise Cafe.
The turnout was terrific -- Union and Broad Streets were full of tour groups -- and despite the ominous skies (appropriate for the mood). we had only a little bit of rain.
I have to thank a friend of mine, an off-duty Kennett Square police officer, who spotted my large group trying to cross at the corner of Linden and Broad Streets. He stopped his truck and let us cross in front of him.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

KENNETT: "Friends Not Foes" run

A reader who wants to remain anonymous asked me to mention the inaugural "Friends Not Foes" 5K run scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 13, at 9 a.m. at Anson B. Nixon Park. Perhaps you've seen the signs for the race along the roadside (they stick out among the clutter of political signs).
The "friends not foes" are the Kennett and Unionville high school cross-country teams, which are coached by John Ramagano and Bob Anthony (Kennett coaches) and Mark Lacianca (Unionville head coach).
My reader writes: "Whether the student is the fastest runner or just gets their own PR (personal record), running is one sport that can promote a lifetime of fitness--not only giving physical but psychological benefits as well."
As a giant fan of exercise, and as someone with a personal stake in one of these XC teams, I agree! You can register online at; online registration ends Friday, Nov. 11. 

DOGS: The importance of a rabies shot

A friend of mine suffered a dog bite while she was running in the 400 block of South Walnut Street in Kennett Square on Oct. 18.  Unfortunately the dog that bit her was not up to date with its rabies vaccination, so not only does she have a painful bite, but she has to undergo a whole regimen of preventive shots.  She reported the situation to the police and the SPCA and asked me to urge dog owners to PLEASE have their animals vaccinated for rabies.

SCHOOL: Hail to the bus driver

Students in the Unionville-Chadds Ford district received a compliment from an unexpected source: a school bus driver I was chatting with the other day. He told me that the kids on his bus routinely thank him and wish him a nice day.
"They're being brought up right," he said -- although, he acknowledges, sometimes the Friday afternoon run can be a little rowdy!

GIRL SCOUTS: "The Lion King" on Broadway

My friend Karen D'Agusto of East Marlborough accompanied 56 Girl Scouts and their parents on a bus trip to see "The Lion King" on Broadway. It's an annual tradition in the Brandywine Valley Girl Scout Service Unit to visit the Big Apple to see a Disney musical. Karen writes that they were all "mesmerized" by this show and "for some girls, trips to the American Girl and M&M stores were an added treat!"

BRIDGE: Shhh! Frog Hollow Road is open again.

Five years after it was heavily damaged by an oversized truck, the Speakman #1 Covered Bridge on Frog Hollow Road is open again!
To mark the occasion, workers, neighbors and covered-bridge buffs gathered for an informal luncheon on Oct. 19. Tables were set up inside the bridge, and Triple Fresh Catering brought the sandwiches. There was a refreshing lack of the traditional ribbon stretched across the bridge, an oversized pair of scissors, and local dignitaries in hardhats grinning for photos.
The rebuilt bridge over the Buck Run looks wonderful. Eastern Highway Specialists is the contractor who dismantled and then rebuilt the bridge, and the timbers were restored over the winter by Lancaster County Timber Frame. At the opening-day party I met Bob Field, who owns Eastern Highway, and told him how wonderful the rejuvenated bridge looks.
Several residents told me they feel bittersweet about the reopening. Although they'd spent years urging East Fallowfield and West Marlborough township supervisors to act on the project, and they won't miss the lengthy detour up to Strasburg Road, they're not looking forward to the increased traffic and litter.
"It's like we've had a private road," said one.

Triple Fresh catered the bridge opening festivities.

During the opening ceremony, John McKenna (in blue shorts) offers his opinion about where traffic signs should be placed.

GOODBYE: Rest in peace, Leon

Godspeed to Leon Rowe, who died Oct. 19 after living with prostate cancer for many years. Leon, a native of West Grove, was the quintessential history buff: he taught social studies at Avon Grove High School for 30 years and, with his wife Dolores, collected old postcards and political campaign memorabilia.
Whenever I ran into Leon, whether having breakfast at Perkins or at a social get-together, I could be certain I'd hear a funny story or an interesting tidbit of local information. I've never forgotten how, during a period of grief in my life, Leon and Dolores reached out to me and took me out for a very nice dinner.
Rest easy, my friend. My heart goes out to Dolores, whose love and excellent caregiving kept him going for so long.
Visitation is 9 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at Kuzo and Grieco Funeral Home, 250 W. State St., Kennett Square, with a memorial service there at 11:30. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, contributions be sent to Neighborhood Hospice, 400 E. Marshall St., West Chester, PA 19380.

GREYMAN: Stray cat blues

Add this one to the "no good deed goes unpunished" file.
A couple of Saturdays ago a handsome gray cat showed up on my back deck, and as soon as I opened the storm door, he quickly scooted inside. He endeared himself to all and sundry and proved to be affectionate, good-tempered and tidy. His prime activity was napping in the sun on a pillow.
After no one claimed him on Facebook, and I saw no signs posted on telephone poles around here, I decided to give him a home myself and scheduled an appointment with the vet.
The vet checked to see if the cat was microchipped, and I was stunned and saddened to find out that he was. I left the cat at the office and they alerted the owner, who came and picked him up that afternoon.
I returned home with an empty cat carrier. I'd quickly gotten used to the dear critter waking me up, napping with me, and generally keeping me company around the house. And what shall I do with all the cat food, treats and paraphernalia I purchased? (Yes, that's a rhetorical question. We all know where this is going.)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

POW-WOW: Native American Harvest Fest

On Saturday we took advantage of the beautiful autumn weather and went to the Native American Harvest Festival in Hibernia Park. As newcomers we didn't know what to expect, and it turned out to be pretty amazing and moving. There were a lot of people dressed in Native American clothing, what they called their "regalia," but those of us outsiders wearing humdrum jeans and fleece were more than welcome to enter the dance circle and join in (yes, we did so).
During the inter-tribal dances, done to the accompaniment of drumming and chanting, the dancers moved in a slow circle around a smoldering log. At one point, one of the dancers felt moved to approach the drummers and "honor the drum," and we were asked to put away our cameras during this sacred moment.
The performance by Cenzontle Cuicatl, an Aztec dance troupe from Philadelphia, was nothing short of electrifying. They were amazingly vigorous and athletic dancers, and the muscular drummers who kept the beat had wonderful strength and stamina. Just when I thought they'd gotten as intense as they could (one even broke a drumstick), they took it up another notch.
We also watched a skilled hoop dancer, Matt White Eagle, who linked a few dozen hoops (smaller than hula-hoop size) to create globes and flapping wings, not missing a beat of his dance in the process. I would have been tripping all over myself.
It was incongruous to see a man wearing a full animal headdress lighting up a cigarette, another in Mohawk face paint using a baby-blue cellphone, and an intimidating man with an elaborate silver nose ring wearing orange sunglasses.
I wasn't aware that there was so much overlap between the Native American participants and the veterans' movement. There was even an official "Head Veteran," John Ironhorse. Several of the men wore costumes that combined Native American elements with their U.S. military badges and honors and POW/MIA emblems. There was a prominent booth raising money for Iron Warriors, a nonprofit that provides veterans with special service dogs to help them cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. And pow-wow proceeds were going to support David's Drive 831, a local nonprofit that helps homeless and hospitalized veterans.
Outside of the dance circle were vendors selling Native American jewelry, clothing and other paraphernalia. One food vendor had an apparent electrical problem with her truck: a pow-wow participant wearing suede moccasins, and standing on wet ground, informed her that he suffered a painful shock when he touched the truck's metal serving hatch. She immediately shut down operations.

MUSHROOMS: A maitake moment

Some weeks, especially if I've been editing until my eyes are bleary and haven't gotten out, I get a little concerned that I won't come up with enough items to fill this column (much less interesting ones).
Then something like this happens.
I was driving on a wooded back road on Friday when I saw a white pickup stopped on the side of the road and a man walking out of the woods carrying what looked like a brain.
You do not know me very well if you have to ask whether I stopped and asked him what was going on.
It turns out he is a mushroom forager named Jason, and what he was carrying was a maitake mushroom he had just harvested from the base of an oak tree. The friendly forager -- he was wearing a "Morel Whisperer" sweatshirt -- was happy to discuss his find and explained that the Latin name of the maitake, Grifola frondosa, comes from the fact that the large fungus does actually appear to be divided into fronds.
Jason displayed an impressive knowledge of mycology. He knows how long it will take for certain mushrooms to appear after a rainstorm, and he knows the frequency with which various species grow in our area. When I asked him how he spotted the maitake (aka hen of the woods), he said that he estimates they grow on one of every three oaks, so when he saw two maitake-less oaks, odds were good he'd find one on the third.
Jason kindly gave me a large portion of the maitake, saying he had 30 or 40 pounds back at the office, and the first thing I did was to smell it. The fragrance was mild, earthy and pleasant and could have been the distilled essence of a moist woods.

A wild maitake mushroom found by Forager Jason.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

ENERGY: Competing on efficiency

PECO has started sending me monthly letters and emails comparing my electricity usage with that of other local customers. They've rated my energy efficiency as "good" (indicated by one smiley face) but not "great" (two smiley faces).
What I want to know is, who are these "efficient neighbors" who are such paragons of sustainability? Do they bake as much as I do? Do they work at home? Do they need to launder many changes of gym clothes? Do they have animals who need to stay warm? I'm not sure it's a fair or useful comparison.
I'm perfectly happy with my energy footprint and have a clear conscience about it. If I were PECO, I'd dump this irritating program -- but who knows, maybe they got a grant for it, or it's the brainchild of some important person and Must Therefore Continue.
PECO just received a call from this customer to discontinue receiving these "smart usage profiles." The number is 888-212-8090.
One of my blog readers offered this comment: "We get this meaningless comparison, too. After a few months, I noticed that their records showed we have a house with 0 square feet. So, not surprisingly, our consumption is 37% above that of our neighbors. Gotta admit, though, I corrected our profile and we're still above usage for comparable houses.  We, too, spend most of our days at home since we're retired. And in my "elderly" years, I refuse to be cold, so we set our thermostat to be comfortable, not environmentally sacrificial."

HUNT CUP: An annual tradition

Signs are already up for the 86th running of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup races on Sunday, Nov. 6. (Imagine: A November event where the only mud being slung comes from the horses' hooves as they thunder by on the racecourse. What a novelty!)
I've already purchased my parking pass and lined up an excellent group of friends to eat, drink, socialize, identify dog breeds and (oh, yeah) watch the races.
The eternal question is "What will the weather be?" If it's windy and cold, you suddenly discover the urgent need to catch up with tailgating friends who have had the foresight to bring along portable heaters.
If it's sunny and warm, you can just stand there and feel like there's no better place in the entire world to be than on that beautiful West Marlborough hilltop. (The course is to the west of Newark Road, between Routes 926 and 842.)
Tickets are available online.

ROMANSVILLE: Roundabout construction

Here is the latest on the road closures for the Strasburg Road roundabout construction in Romansville. The information is from the West Bradford Township website: 
  • October 17, Strasburg Road will be CLOSED for ONE week while work takes place at the WEST END (heading west past Romansville Road).
  • Next, Strasburg Road will be CLOSED for ONE week while work takes place at the EAST END (near Bella Rosa).
  • After these two improvements are complete, all interior paving on the roundabout will be done. 
  • Next, Romansville and Shadyside Roads will be closed for 4 weeks to complete all the tie-ins and extend the sewer mains on Romansville Road. 
I was driving by on Oct. 14 and saw that they are making good progress on building the actual roundabout itself, which will be just south of the current Strasburg Road. Now it's just a matter of making the connections with the existing roads.

HISTORY: "Scandals, Scoundrels and Spirits"

I'll be a tour guide this Friday, Oct. 21, for the "Scandals, Scoundrels and Spirits" Haunted History walking tour of downtown Kennett Square, sponsored by Historic Kennett. The starting point is the walkway next to the Genesis Building on State Street, and the 13-stop tours will leave roughly every half-hour between 6 and 8 p.m. Come learn a little about Kennett history!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

AVONDALE: The high life

On Friday a bunch of us went out for a late dinner. We were a merry crew and lingered over our meals, chatting about one friend's upcoming move to Chicago and another's tap-dancing lessons. By the time we'd finished eating and conversation was slowing down, the waiters were restocking their tables and dimming the lights in the farther sections of the restaurant.
Whoa, I thought: Just like old times, closing down the place!
Then I realized we were at Perkins. And it was 10 p.m.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

DUKES OF DESTINY: Dance concert at West Grove Meeting

I'm told there's been some confusion over where the Oct. 22 Dukes of Destiny dance concert will be held. It's being sponsored by both London Grove and West Grove Friends Meetings, but it's being held at West Grove Meeting, 153 E. Harmony Road in West Grove. Doors open at 7 p.m., music starts at 7:30 p.m., and the recommended donation (to benefit London Grove Meeting's kindergarten and West Grove Meeting's daycare) is $15.

LIBRARY: Public input needed Oct. 13

Just a reminder that the Kennett Library's board of trustees will be holding open meetings all day Thursday, Oct. 13, to find out what people want in a new library. The meetings will be held at the Kennett Fire Co. on Dalmatian Street in Kennett Square.
The schedule is as follows, although people can stop by whenever it's convenient: 8:30 to 10 a.m., caregivers of children; 11 am to noon, seniors; 1 to 3 p.m., business and community; 3 to 4 p.m., persons with disabilities and special needs caregivers; and 4 to 5 p.m., young adults. 
At 7 p.m. the architects will convene to report what they heard.

KENNETT: New executive director at Friends Home

Christine McDonald is the new executive director at the Friends Home in downtown Kennett Square (147 West State Street). She lives in Kennett and has worked in the healthcare field for more than 30 years, including serving as the director of rehabilitation at Freedom Village in West Brandywine. She recently earned a master's degree in healthcare administration from St. Joseph's University and obtained her nursing home administrator's license.
"I look forward to getting to know all the employees, residents and their families and to working with everyone to guide Friends Home into the future and expand out abilities to provide quality, loving care to all of our residents," she wrote in the most recent Home newsletter.

ADVENTURE: Scout programs at elementary schools

My dear friend Karen D'Agusto -- we are living proof that people of opposing political viewpoints can still find plenty of common ground -- asked me to mention that the following Girl Scout information sessions are coming up:
1. Monday, Oct. 17, cafeteria of Pocopson Elementary School, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. RSVP to Karen D'Agusto at
2. Wednesday, Oct. 19, cafeteria of Hillendale Elementary, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. RSVP to Karen D'Agusto at
3. Wednesday, Oct. 26, cafeteria of Unionville Elementary, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. RSVP to Elise Anderson at 
Karen notes that both girls and parents are welcome to the information sessions. She writes: "The above programs are geared toward k-2nd grade. If you have a daughter or granddaughter who is interested in Scouts in 2nd-12th grade or you cannot make it to any of the Girls Scout Information sessions, please contact Lori Sullivan at or Ghisele Curcio at to find out how to join the Adventure that is Girl Scouts."

Friday, October 7, 2016

JENNERSVILLE: Two Stones Pub has opened

As it happens, I was in the Jennersville shopping center on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings last week, and it was hard to miss the fact that the whole western side of the parking lot was jammed. The reason: Two Stones Pub has opened.
On Wednesday at dinnertime I was waiting in the lobby of Mi Cocina Mexicana, which is next door to Two Stones, and to amuse myself I asked one of my fellow patrons, a preschool girl, what her doll's name was. She grinned impishly and refused to tell me, so I started guessing. After every wrong guess, she shook her head vigorously, and I could just imagine that this was providing further proof for her (if any were needed) that grownups are completely insane.
After about two dozen wrong guesses, her mother took pity on me and told me the doll was named "Poppy." I would never have guessed that.

BLUEGRASS: Paisley wins "Male Vocalist" award

Congratulations to local favorite Danny Paisley of Landenberg, who was just named "male vocalist of the year" by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Danny and his band (and his father's band before him), The Southern Grass, have released a new CD, "Weary River," and they perform frequently in Cecil County, Maryland, and throughout the East (although their North Carolina gig was cancelled due to the impending Hurricane Matthew).
Also recognized by the IBMA was the 44th Annual Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival, held over Labor Day weekend in Woodstown, N.J. Congrats to the organizers, Brandywine Friends of Old-Time Music! It turns out that Newlin Township resident Gail Honeycutt Abel and I both attended the (very windy) festival; too bad we didn't run into each other.

KENNETT: A pet lover and a Good Samaritan

On the afternoon of Oct. 4, a "Unionville in the News" reader was sitting in the waiting room at Thomas Auto, 110 Old Kennett Rd., when suddenly she heard "a horrible boom-crash-crack": an eighteen-wheeler had crashed into a utility pole, downing several poles, pulling down wires, damaging several vehicles and causing a widespread power outage. 
What was she going to do? Her car was stuck up on the lift. With two new knees and a hip that's going to be replaced presently, she couldn't walk any distance.
Enter Terry Kendall of Terry Lynn's Critters, the pen-free pet-boarding place next door. She spotted my reader standing outside the repair shop and saved the day by offering her a ride home.
"The kindness of strangers!" said my grateful reader.

TAGS: Nostalgia might play a role

Earlier this year I wrote about some roadside signs that were popping up near the Delaware border, lambasting Pennsylvania drivers for licensing their cars in Delaware. I never heard anything more about who posted the accusatory signs or why.
Richard Corkran, who lives in West Marlborough, came up to me after a meeting the other night and suggested that nostalgia might be a key reason why Pennsylvania residents use Delaware tags. He said although he lives in Pennsylvania, he still has the same Delaware tags that have been in his family for many years; he said they evoke happy memories. He said he has found that cost is pretty much "a wash" in terms of inspections, insurance and sales tax between the two states.

AVONDALE: Facebook page is no more

In last week's column I wrote about our visit to the grand opening of TSS, the new shooting range in Avondale.
A few days later the people who run Facebook deleted TSS's official Facebook page, saying they had received three complaints: two people objected to the pictures of guns and shooting shown on the page and a third objected to the "Osama bin Laden Zombie" target sold at the range. There was no right to appeal.
Of course, Facebook has every right to set and enforce any standards it wants, but to me this decision doesn't make a lot of sense.


HORSES: The near and the far

A horsewoman friend attended New Bolton Center's Oct. 4 lecture on lameness and apparently the subject was still fresh in her mind the next day, when she told her husband that the "left hind" tire of their trailer was flat.
"Ummm ... do you mean the driver's side?" he asked her, puzzled.
"Yes," she replied. "Oh. What did I say?"

Thursday, October 6, 2016

YOGURT: A dearth of Plenti

A delicious type of yogurt by Yoplait called "Plenti" showed up earlier this year on the shelves of the Giant supermarket. It's a type of fruity Greek yogurt with oats, flax, and pumpkin seeds mixed in, and I love it. There's also a variety that contains more oatmeal.
Unfortunately, in recent weeks both types have utterly disappeared from the Giant.
While shopping the other morning I saw two dairy employees restocking the yogurt area and told them how much I missed Plenti. This was not news to them; in fact one young man said they'd heard three complaints about it that very morning.
When I mentioned that the only place I can find it is a competing supermarket, the employees winced.
If you're a Plenti fan, too, you're not alone. Why not mention it to the dairy staff? (A helpful reader suggests putting a note in the store suggestion box, too.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A township lawsuit against the Whip?

The West Marlborough supervisors have put The Whip on notice that if the tavern doesn't act promptly to curb its patrons' illegal parking in Springdell village, the township will file a "public nuisance" lawsuit.
The latest development in the years-long friction over parking problems between the township and the popular tavern occurred at the township's Oct. 4 meeting.
"There continues to be illegal parking" near the Whip, said township supervisor Bill Wylie, and although the Whip owners have said they will try to resolve the problem, "we're not seeing a lot of evidence" that they are doing so.
"We don't want to perpetuate an unsafe situation," he said.
Supervisor Jake Chalfin agreed, saying that the township has had a lawsuit ready to file since May but the board has repeatedly delayed any action to give the Whip more time to work on the problem. However, he said, "We're not getting what we've been looking for."

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Other township business

Also at the Oct. 4 West Marlborough township meeting:
1. Supervisor Hugh Lofting said the state Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing the township's plans to stabilize the eroding stream bank along Rokeby Road at Richard Wilson Drive. He said hopefully that "we might see shovels in the ground this year."
2. The supervisors said they are revising the township's schedule of the fees that residents must pay to obtain various permits. Supervisor Bill Wylie said the fee schedule that is being developed is "far simpler and less expensive" while still covering the township's costs.
3. A London Grove village resident told the board that he thinks a growing number of motorists are running the stop signs at Newark Road and Route 926, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours. Supervisor Wylie said he sees a similar problem at the four-way stop at Newark Road and Route 842. The supervisors will notify the State Police about the ongoing problem.
4. Susan Elks from the Chester County Planning Commission spoke about the commission's timeline for preparing a third edition of its Landscapes document. The first version of Landscapes was written 20 years ago.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

GREENVILLE: The Harvest Moon Fest

I'm not sure the International Turtle Race really qualified as "international," although one of the contestants WAS from Maryland.
To my surprise, the two-yard-long race took only a couple of minutes. First to cross the finish line was veteran winner Vincent van Gone. He sprinted to the finish, well ahead of the completely immobile Speedbump and the sluggish Diamondback Terrapin Terror.
The entertaining race, held this past Sunday, was part of the Harvest Moon Festival at the Delaware Nature Center's Coverdale Farm preserve on Way Road in Greenville. The race announcer was very funny, ordering people to "do your crafts later" and come and watch the race: he was a cross between a circus ringmaster and a WWF impresario.
At one point he said something about Speedbump's latest rap release. The boy in front of us looked up at his Mom, baffled.
"Speedbump doesn't make music," she explained. "He's a turtle."
Although the sky was gray, it was wonderful to see many families outside enjoying nature and learning about animals, plants and traditional crafts. There was a scarecrow building area, and we saw many parents lugging scarecrows as big as they were all the way back to the car.
Several food trucks were there, including Woodside Creamery and Maiale, the "Sausage King of Delaware." The Brandywine Friends of Old-Time Music took care of providing live music, and during some of the tunes, a group of four cloggers danced in front of the stage.
One little vignette we witnessed was especially heartwarming in these overprotective parenting days. A little kid dropped his spoon in the dirt while eating ice cream. His mom simply said, "Just pick it up. It won't kill you." The laid-back mom noticed us chuckling and said, "That's what my Mom used to tell me!"

AVONDALE: The new shooting range

On Sunday we stopped in at the Grand Opening celebration at TSS (Target Shooting Solutions), the indoor shooting range on Route 41 in Avondale, next to Perkins. What a variety of people the range attracts: we saw families, men and women, old and young, novices who were renting firearms and experienced shooters who brought their own.
We watched a 10-minute video about gun safety, filled out liability release forms and showed our ID -- all of which are required before you're even allowed on the range. We didn't have a chance to shoot this weekend but we're looking forward to it. As we were leaving, we saw the owner relaxing in a chair in the lobby after what he described as a very busy weekend.

UNIONVILLE: The 92nd year for the Fair

The Unionville Community Fair is such a wonderful tradition. This year was the 92nd year for the Fair, which started out as "the Corn Show" at what is now Unionville Elementary School. The Fair is now held on the Landhope Farms grounds in Willowdale.
I was there for the judging of the vegetables on Thursday morning, and the Longwood Gardens horticulture students who were the judges took their responsibilities very seriously. They examined each vegetable closely and debated among themselves which entries deserved ribbons (the green peppers in particular sparked much conversation).
After judging was finished, many of the Longwood students wandered through the exhibits; I heard one young man saying the Fair reminded him of his childhood in North Carolina.
The preserved foods category drew about 75 entries this year; a cherry jam took the coveted "Best of Show" ribbon. Among the more unusual entries was a jar of pickled cherry peppers stuffed with sauerkraut. Seems to me that would ward off even the most determined of cold viruses!
On Saturday morning the parade wound its way through the fairgrounds, with Scouts, an honor guard, large trucks from Tri-M, the UHS marching band, Fair Queen Eva Sheppard and her court, Fair Chairman Deborah Deckman, Sen. Andy Dinniman, old tractors, and lots of fire trucks from Station 36. After the parade the Po-Mar-Lin firefighters demonstrated their rescue skills and equipment, methodically dismantling a junked car. 
At the baking competitions on Saturday, the judges sampled apple pies, chocolate cakes, and chocolate brownies and cookies. The nine-year-old boy who won the latter contest for his amazing minty, fudgy chocolate brownies was watching the judging and lit up with a huge grin when informed that he won. His family members cheered and embraced him and took lots of photos. The judges encouraged him to keep baking!
The "Tiny House" brought by Sheds Unlimited drew a lot of attention from fairgoers. In less than 400 square feet, the house managed to include a compact kitchen, bathroom, living room and loft bedroom, accessed by a ladder. It was the antithesis of the mega-mansions that seem so popular today. I overheard some guests saying it would serve as a wonderful beach house.
Storyteller Robin Moore brought to the Fair his home-made Ice Age hunting implements and clothing, explaining how he created the arrow and spear points from stone and bone, lashed them to the wooden handles with sinews, and welded them in place with glue and pine pitch. I didn't realize what a vital role dogs played in hunting: Robin explained that they would smell and track the prey, followed at quite a distance by the humans. They would also protect the freshly killed game from other hungry predators.
These paragraphs don't cover a fraction of all the activities and exhibits. Can you tell I love the Fair?

POCOPSON: New floors to be installed

Randy Mims, one of the folks who is active in preserving the Locust Grove Schoolhouse in Pocopson Township, told me that installation of new wooden floors will start by the end of the year.
"We have had fantastic support from the community this year," he said: with the historical committee's various fundraising projects, they've brought in about $15,000 this year to maintain and renovate the c. 1870 one-room schoolhouse, which is located at Corinne and Locust Grove Roads.
The schoolhouse operated from 1869 to 1932, and after the district's one-room schools were consolidated, the building served as a funeral home, a residence and a polling place.
The committee has a fascinating website about the history of the school and the restoration project ( They've even developed lesson plans so that today's schoolchildren can learn what it was like going to school 150 years ago. 

RODEO: New venue this year

This year's Willowdale Pro Rodeo has a new location. It will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Brandywine Polo Grounds, 232 Polo Road, Toughkenamon. Tickets are $17 for ages 13 and over, $12 for ages 4 to 12; kids 3 & under are free. Tickets are available through the Unionville Community Fair's website ( or at the gate (opens at 11 a.m. the day of the event).
The Rodeo was formerly held as part of the Fair, at the Willowdale Steeplechase grounds, but it was moved this year because the polo field offers "an outdoor equestrian arena with appropriate footing which will increase safety for our contestants in inclement weather conditions," according to the Fair's website. Proceeds from the Rodeo will still benefit the Fair.

COATESVILLE: Live Irish music

My regular readers know that I go to a lot of Irish music concerts, and I want to let you know there's a really special one coming up at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9. John Carty (on fiddle) and his daughter Maggie Carty (on banjo) will be playing as part of the Coatesville Traditional Irish Music Series at the Coatesville Cultural Center, 143 E. Lincoln Highway. (They'll be joined by Francis Gaffney on guitar.) Tickets are available online ( for $17 or you can buy them at the door for $20.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

LIBRARY: What do you want to see?

Jeff Yetter, the vice president of the Kennett Library's board of trustees, asked me to mention that the library will be holding open meetings all day Tuesday, Oct. 13, to find out what people want in a new library. The meetings will be held at the Kennett Fire Co. on Dalmatian Street in Kennett Square.
The schedule is as follows, although people can stop by whenever it's convenient: 8:30 to 10 a.m., caregivers of children; 11 am to noon, seniors; 1 to 3 p.m., business and community; 3 to 4 p.m., persons with disabilities and special needs caregivers; and 4 to 5 p.m., young adults. 
At 7 p.m. the architects will convene to report what they heard.
Jeff writes:  "Please tell us what you would like to see in a new regional library center in Kennett Square. We are gathering insight and opinions to guide our architects in their planning. What's important to you? Easy access as a senior or parents with kids? Better research tools? More meeting rooms and study space? Community event space? Longer hours? Training? Games? Vending machines? Parking? Tell us what matters to you, big or small. During these sessions there will be architects, planners and our vision team to listen and ask questions. It’s casual, quick and important."

LITTER: Buck & Doe Trust's cleanup

At lunchtime on Sept. 27 I joined the Buck & Doe Trust's trash cleanup along Route 82. The group of maybe eight of us met at the Brandywine Conservancy's office in Doe Run at noon. After eating a slice of pizza from the new place at Route 82 and Strasburg Road, we set off in pairs, walking along Route 82 armed with gloves and trash bags. I even got to try out a pincer-like trash-picking-up gadget, which I loved.
In 90 minutes, walking from Doe Run up to Dupont Road and back, my litter-mate Pam and I filled two-and-a-half garbage bags. Our finds included lots of water, beer and soda bottles and cans; a baby's pacifier; three hubcaps (near the singing bridge), all from different vehicles; and a mostly-full bottle of Clamato juice (near Blow Horn corner).
We also saw the driver of a huge horse van dealing with the major challenge of trying to make a right turn onto Route 82 from Dupont Road. He had to get out of the truck and check out the intersection to ensure he could make the turn safely. Traffic backed up nearly to Doe Run.
All in all, the group collected 17 garbage bags of litter. The Buck & Doe Trust has these cleanups several times a year, and not only are they fun (you never know what you'll find!), but they let us show our appreciation for our beautiful countryside.

INTERNET: The speed of technology

Whenever I'm dealing with a tech support person, I have a mental picture of a much younger person, a member of the generation who grew up with the Internet and has an innate understanding of all things digital. Sometimes, though, I'm wrong.
The other day I was on the phone for 20 minutes with Anton, a hugely competent Verizon Fios guy who was straightening out my account: it seems my Internet speed had never been upgraded over the years and was now slower than even their entry-level version.
Anton seemed distressed by this and asked with wonder how I had put up with it for so long. I laughed and, flipping easily into old-codger mode, told him about the early days of the digital age, circa 1992, when I could brush my teeth in the time it took for my computer to connect to the Internet (via a noisy external modem), and how even a rainstorm would sever the connection. Compared to that, even my current speed was a marvel.
I told him about how prior to cell phones, if you wanted privacy you had to drag the telephone phone into your bedroom.
Very much to my surprise, he could relate -- he was one of "us" dinosaurs! In fact, he said he used to get in trouble for stretching the phone cord of his family's kitchen phone so far and so often that it hung down to the floor.