Wednesday, November 30, 2016

UNIONVILLE: With one fell swoop

What happened to the traffic signs at the intersection of Routes 82 and 162/Wollaston Road in the middle of Unionville? A tractor-trailer knocked them down the morning of Monday, Nov. 28, and then just kept heading north on Route 82. The stop signs are back in place at the busy intersection; not so much the street signs.

TRADER JOE'S: Why not here?

A Unionville friend (need I add that she is a huge Trader Joe's fan?) asked me to mention to my readers that on the Trader Joe's website, there's a place where you can ask them to consider opening a branch near you. (It's under FAQs, "What can I do to bring a Trader Joe's to my neighborhood?") She personally thinks the vacant Superfresh store in the Longwood shops on Baltimore Pike would be a great spot for the fun, laid-back, high-quality store to move into.

PATTON: Celtic Christmas Concert

The Hadley Fund is presenting a Celtic Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, in the freshly renovated auditorium at Charles Patton Middle School. Performers will be the Seasons Family Band, Two Pipers Piping, the Washington Memorial Pipe Band, and the Campbell Scottish Dancers. Admission (as for all Hadley Fund programs) is free.

FAMILIES: Imagine, dinner table conversation!

A Kennett Square friend reports that she recently got tired of her family taking the path of least resistance and eating dinner while watching television, so she insisted that they start weaning themselves from the tube. We will sit at the table and actually talk to each other, she declared.
She and her husband started out this bold initiative by playing trivia games like naming state capitols and having mini-spelling bees. Much to their surprise, their teenage son, after a few days of sulking, starting joining in the conversation. My friend said she is delighted at the increase in "family time" they are enjoying merely by turning off the TV. 

A.I. DUPONT: True gratitude

The teenage son of a gym friend developed appendicitis on Thanksgiving eve and underwent emergency surgery.
"Wow!" I said. "So much for Thanksgiving!"
"No, not at all," she replied quickly. "We were just SO grateful we were at such a wonderful hospital."
She said the surgeons at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington took her son to the operating room as soon as he was diagnosed. He is recovering so well that he can't wait to get back into the pool for swim practice.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

MOVIES: "Fabulous Beasts"

Another Harry Potter fan and I headed over to the Painters Crossing AMC movie theater on Saturday to see "Fabulous Beasts and Where to Find Them," the "prequel" to the Harry Potter saga that is based on one of Harry's Hogwarts schoolbooks. The movie, written by J.K. Rowling, is about an English wizard, Newt Scamander, who comes to New York in 1926 in search of magical creatures.
The beasts were wonderfully imagined. There was a kleptomaniac little platypus (the Niffler), a snake that expanded to fill whatever space it was in (whether a teapot or the whole of Manhattan), a rhinoceros with a crush on an unfortunate Non-Maj (what Americans call Muggles), and a temperamental green plant-like pet prone to picking locks and pouting.
The sometimes dizzying visual effects were over the top for me, but probably most moviegoers would expect nothing less. Despite the enchanting mythical creatures, there are some distinctly dark themes and violent scenes, so I wouldn't think it would be appropriate for young elementary-age kids.

CABELA'S: The outdoor life

I am probably preaching to the choir here, as most of my readers already are well aware of this, but I want to say what an impressive store Cabela's is. We visited the Newark branch after breakfast on Sunday morning (it's next to the Christiana Mall) and we had a great time browsing through the vast array of hunting, camping and fishing paraphernalia. They stock everything from crossbows and ice-fishing huts to dehydrated meals and fleece nightshirts. 
As you walk in the main entrance there's a display of life-size stuffed wildlife on a mountainside, with a real waterfall cascading past them, and you can watch seriously large fish swimming around in the huge tank. They even have a kennel where your dog can hang out while you are shopping.
The store employees were wonderful: friendly and knowledgeable but not intrusive. One even took our photo in front of the moose!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

ELECTION: The local statistics

I finally got a chance to check the local statistics from the Nov. 8 general election and it was no surprise that the turnout numbers were much higher than usual, in the high seventies and low eighties. My own township had 75 percent turnout, and the highest turnout in our area was 85 percent in Kennett Township's Third Precinct, home of the Kendal at Longwood retirement community.
Hillary Clinton outpolled President-elect Donald Trump almost everywhere. The largest margin was 66 to 29 percent at the Kendal polling place. Mrs. Clinton beat Mr. Trump by only one vote in Newlin Township (396 to 395 votes). In Londonderry and Highland Townships, Mr. Trump won handily.
County-wide, turnout was 80%, and Mrs. Clinton received 52 percent of the vote vs. Mr. Trump's 43 percent. But Mr. Trump took the state of Pennsylvania by some 130,000 votes, 48.8 percent versus 47.63 percent.
Newlin Township's open space referendum passed by a vote of 492 to 332 (60 percent to 40 percent).
And by the way, as of Nov. 24 there were still several Susan Rzucidlo campaign signs on Route 162 near Harveys Bridge Road in Embreeville, and some Andy Dinniman signs at Newark Road and Route 41.

FOXHUNTERS: The annual Thanksgiving meet

A traditional part of the holiday for many people in Unionville is going to watch Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds meet at the Kennels on Thanksgiving morning. There was a big and sociable crowd this year, many carrying cups of coffee, bottles of beer, or Bloody Marys. Kids were tossing around footballs, and I saw several college kids home on break catching up.
I was offered food and drink but had to turn it down, as I was saving room for our early Thanksgiving dinner. Saying "no" to a cinnamon-scented apple strudel was especially tough.
As usual, the volunteers from the Po-Mar-Lin fire company were directing traffic, and I was careful this year to avoid getting my vehicle stuck while taking a shortcut (try living that one down when photos appeared on social media within minutes).
It was great to see everyone out enjoying the countryside. It was pretty easy to tell the "city folks," though. "Dad! I petted the horse!" said one thrilled kid (the rider advised him to keep his bagel well away from the horse's mouth). And  I heard two boys expressing shock as they watched a horse answering a call of nature.

THANKSGIVING: A diversity of celebrations

What a variety of Thanksgiving celebrations I heard about! Some people left the cooking to others: one family I know bought everything premade from Wegman's and another had their feast at the Mendenhall Inn (they gave it rave reviews).
One fellow spent his Thanksgiving eating with friends instead of family. Another said the highlight of his Thanksgiving dinner was reminiscing about the 1970 Avon Grove High School basketball team, which won the state championship (his brother was on the team). He said that after graduating, the alumni stayed in shape  and went on to beat the high school team at homecoming for the next several years.
I spent Thanksgiving in Perkasie, Bucks County. A couple there have family members over for Thanksgiving every year and then shut up the house and head to their place in Vermont for the skiing season. There were 20 people at the table (and two happy dogs wandering around underfoot) and endless platters of food; my strategy this year was to take a tiny portion of everything being offered. 
On the way up we took the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which is in the process of being widened to three lanes (a $189 million project funded using tolls), but for variety and amusement we took the long way home (without GPS assistance) and spotted such oddities as a typewriter sales and repair shop and a cafĂ© named The Abyss. Highly entertaining!
The road trip also taught us something about religion: we saw a sign in front of Lutheran church giving its times for Mass. I thought only Roman Catholic churches used that name for their divine services, but a little Internet research showed us that certain Protestant churches do as well.

SAWMILL: Now in Kennett Square

The Sawmill Grill, which has been so successful in downtown Oxford, has opened a branch at the corner of Birch and Broad Streets in Kennett Square (the former site of the Birch Inn, Kennett Steak & Mushroom, and A Taste of Puebla). We stopped in for dinner on Thanksgiving eve and found the place to be very laid-back and welcoming. There were colleagues enjoying a beer after work at the bar and friends, families and couples having dinner. My best dinner pal ordered the Irish chicken and I had the Caesar salad with shrimp.

FROLIC: A tribute in print

What a lovely booklet the Brandywine Conservancy put together to honor George A. "Frolic" Weymouth, who died April 24. It's full of photographs, paintings and stories about the larger-than-life conservationist, artist, fundraiser, carriage driver and bon vivant who is fondly remembered by so many. The front cover shows his 1963 painting "The Way Back," which depicts a horse-drawn cart from the driver's perspective, and in a nice piece of symmetry the back cover shows a Jim Graham photograph of Frolic driving a four-in-hand carriage.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

UNIONVILLE: Another lunch option

Earlier this fall I wrote about my friend Bob, who was unhappy that both Hood's BBQ and Foxy Loxy are shut on Mondays, severely limiting his lunch choices in Unionville. 
Perhaps it's just coincidence (although I know for a fact that Bob is a good customer of theirs), but Foxy Loxy will now be open on Mondays starting Nov. 28.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A postponed hearing

The Nov. 22 hearing for the couple who want to add a second floor to the garage on their Springdell Road property was postponed because a sign announcing the hearing wasn't posted on the property, as required by law. 
Because of the glitch, the members of the West Marlborough Township Zoning Hearing Board and Dr. Frances Koblenzer, one of the applicants, agreed to move the hearing to Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. at the township garage.
Dr. Koblenzer and Dr. Joshua Farber will need a variance because the height of the garage would be about 26 feet, higher than the zoning code's 15-foot limit for accessory buildings. The property is at 175 Springdell Road, which is on the west side of Springdell Road between Runnymede and Chapel Roads.
Even though the hearing couldn't be held as scheduled, the zoning board members took advantage of the fact that they were together and approved the appointment of the board's new solicitor, Fronefield Crawford Jr., of West Chester.

KENNETT: A century of life

One of my gym instructors could hardly contain his excitement when I saw him at the Y on Nov. 20. He leads a fitness class at the Friends Home in downtown Kennett Square and had a new participant in a recent class. She did really well, he said, but what really floored him was when she came up to him after class and told him that she was 100 years old.
"Wow!" he said, recalling the moment. "Can you imagine what she's seen in her life?"
Two world wars, the women's movement, the civil rights movement, the rise and fall of communism, the invention of computers ... he went through a whole list of 20th-century historic moments, amazed that one person's lifespan could encompass so much.
He said having the woman in his class was an honor and "it really made my year."

EAST MARLBOROUGH: Now a vacant lot

If you often travel on Doe Run Road, perhaps you've noticed the white cottage across the street from the Unionville bus parking lot, near the cemetery of the old Ebenezer AME Church. The long-vacant structure always intrigued me because of its odd proportions: it appeared to be taller than it was wide. I'm told that the last occupant was Florence Highfield.
Well, it is no more: it has been torn down. I drove past on Nov. 22 and workers were clearing away the rubble.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

BONFIRE: A fiery celebration

We had a great time at a giant bonfire in Unionville the other night. The hosts had started the fire mid-afternoon, so by 6:30 p.m. it was red-hot and visible all the way from the road. A strong cold front was blowing in, so we huddled next to the fire under quilts and drank hot chocolate. Being outside next to a fire creates a certain camaraderie, so even though we were among the older members of the group, it was heartwarming to meet so many welcoming and articulate young people.
At one point my hat blew off and I threw off my quilt and chased after it. It got caught in the wire fence and for a second I thought all was well, until another gust caught it and it blew right through! I raced along the fence line looking for the next break, which was a few hundred yards away, then backtracked as fast as I could, but with steadily diminishing hopes of ever seeing my hat again. Unbelievably, I found it not even too far away. It stayed tied securely to my head with a scarf the rest of the evening, no matter how silly it looked.

POLITICS: Nothing new under the sun

I believe in the next political campaign I will take the advice that I came across the other day -- too late -- in a 1937 etiquette book:
"If you care too intensely about a subject, it is dangerous to allow yourself to say anything. That is, if you can only lecture about your fixed point of view, then you should never mention it, except as a platform speaker. But if, no the other hand, you are able to listen with an open mind, the chances are that you need put no barriers whatever on any subject. At the present moment Mrs. Oldname and Mrs. Kindheart, really the most devoted of neighbors, are so violently opposed to each other on a certain political question of today, that the first person who mentions the taboo topic must pay a fine."
Sounds like an excellent idea to me!

NEW GARDEN: 19th-century Toughkenamon

A friend from Massachusetts visited our area this summer to do some Owens genealogy research and sent me these wonderful old photos of the Toughkenamon crossroads. Her great-grandparents owned the Toughkenamon general store (now replaced by Deanna's Market) and lived just across Newark Road in a house that is still standing.

The family home, at the southeast corner of Newark Road and Baltimore Pike.

The home as it appears today.

The Toughkenamon General Store, which stood at the southwest corner of Newark Road and Baltimore Pike.

Friday, November 18, 2016

GARDEN: Better later than never

This autumn's unseasonably warm weather has been a boon to those of us who have slacked off shamefully on our gardening responsibilities. Here it is mid-November and I'm just cutting down phlox and monkshood stalks and clearing lamium!
The upside of being a Garden Sluggard is that tulip bulbs were 25% off at Lowe's, and there was still a good selection. I can't say I've ever seen parrot tulips in the Lowe's gardening section before. And planting 165 bulbs in this afternoon's warm sun was a delight instead of the chilly, unpleasant task it usually is.
Similarly, some folks decided to take advantage of the warm weather to put their Christmas decorations up early. One took to social media to explain that she wasn't "rushing" the holiday, and promised not to turn on her lights until closer to Christmas, but just wanted to decorate in comfort. Understandable!

HIGHER EDUCATION: Doug goes back to school

My energetic friend Doug Stirling is a man who wears many hats-- family man, WCHE radio broadcaster, Kennett High School football announcer, pastor of the Bible Evangelical Church of Kennett Square, and former Kennett school board member among them. Now he's taking on one more responsibility: He has started an online doctoral program with an emphasis in Christian Ministry at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Doug, who recently moved from Kennett to the Oxford area, said he expects it will take him four years to complete his degree.
Doug, I'll be happy to proofread your papers. For a fee!

ELECTION: Time to take down those signs

Given the over-abundance of political signs along the roadsides during the campaign, the candidates, or their staffers, did a pretty good job of removing them promptly, but stragglers remain:
 -- Two Susan Rzucidlo signs and one Andy Dinniman sign at the intersection of Newark Road and Route 926 in West Marlborough Township
-- A Gary Johnson sign on Race Street near Cypress Street, and a Marty Molloy sign on North Union Street near Fairthorne Drive in Kennett Square borough
-- A Josh Shapiro sign and another Molloy sign on Baltimore Pike at McFarlan Road in Kennett Township
-- A David Cleary sign at the intersection of Baltimore Pike and the Route 1 bypass in Kennett Township
-- Three Jack London signs at the Chatham intersection in London Grove Township
-- Four Dinniman signs on Route 41 and Newark Road in New Garden Township
-- At least 20 Dinniman signs on Route 41 between the Wawa and Lowe's in London Grove Township
-- Orphan Rzucidlo signs on Route 842 near Oak Tree Road and on Route 162 by Scott Road, both in Newlin Township
One friend reports that she made it from Route 796 to Route 82 on the Route 1 bypass without seeing any political signs until she spotted several just before the Route 82 exit: "Roe, London, Rzucidlo and 'College Hunks.' Pretty sure they weren't running for office!"
Of course, some people are keeping signs posted in their own yards to indicate how they voted, and that's completely their right.

RUNNERS: It's important to hydrate

A running club has started, based at the Kennett Brewing Company, 109 S. Broad Street in Kennett Square. They meet at 6 p.m. Thursdays for a three- to-four mile run through Anson B. Nixon Park, followed by a free five-ounce beer (for runners only)! All paces are welcome and, according to their flier, they run "rain, snow, or shine."

LOCKER ROOM: Parents and kids

Overheard in the Kennett Y locker room, as two swim-team kids were getting dressed:
Girl 1: "Do you ever come here to swim?"
Girl 2 (sounding confused): "You mean, swim? Like for fun?"
The mother of one girl then briefly stuck her head around the corner of the lockers and proclaimed, "This train is leaving in two minutes."
Girl 1 (exasperated): "She ALWAYS says that, `this train is leaving'! "
The woman next to me and I shared a knowing glance. We've reached the age when our parents' stock phrases become precious and endearing memories, like my father's "Four on the floor!" when we kids were wrecking chairs by balancing on the back legs, and my mother's timeless wisdom, "When you're 18 and paying the bills, you can do whatever you want. But until then ..."

Monday, November 14, 2016

PARK: New entrance being built

Motorists, don't use the main entrance to Anson B. Nixon Park off North Walnut Road anymore. The awkward, potholed entrance is going to be closed permanently the week of Nov. 21 and will be replaced by a new entrance farther north on North Walnut Road, where there is currently a hiking trail. Construction of the new entrance should take six to eight weeks, and during construction, you can park at the Tino Leto soccer fields.

SPORTS: Friends Not Foes

The Young Relative and his father ran in Sunday's "Friends Not Foes" post-season race through Anson Nixon Park (the "friends" in the race name are the cross-country teams from neighboring Kennett and Unionville high schools).
At a delicious post-race meal at La Pena Mexicana, the elder Tally-ho admitted sheepishly that as he was really pushing himself and running hard, his son and some teammates easily breezed past him while joking around and carrying on a conversation.
"They should have a father/son competition," he suggested. "We would have won!"
The YR explained that the team's training regimen includes twice-a-week hydro workouts in the deep end of the Kennett Y pool, not just treading water but actually running in the water, half of the time with their arms raised above their heads. Serious pain!

FAITH: A talk about Quakerism

If you're interested in learning more about Quakerism, the faith that has played such a major role in our area all the way back to Colonial days, my friend Kevin Arnold is giving a talk about Friends and their beliefs at 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 29, at West Grove Friends Meeting. His talk will cover "the early history, the range of beliefs of Quakers today; the Quaker understanding of civil activism; how the ‘Quaker process’ works: threshing sessions, discernment, gaining the sense of the Meeting; and the different types of worship… mostly touching on the non-programmed service since that is most common in this area." 
We've attended several of the talks that West Grove Meeting has held about different religions, and they always produce an interesting, intelligent and spirited discussion.
West Grove Meeting is at 153 East Harmony Road in West Grove.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

NEW BAND: Meryl and the Magnetics

It was a very musical week for your columnist. All three concerts I went to were so good, in their own way, that I'm writing about all of them; please humor me.
Any bookers who are looking for fresh musical talent should check out the trio Meryl and the Magnetics. We saw online that they were performing on Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church on Route 52 across from Winterthur and decided, on a whim, to go.
Wow, I am so glad we did! It turns out it was their very first full concert together, and they were astonishingly talented. Their repertoire was all over the map: ballads, rock, jazz, instrumentals, solos, and a trio of original art songs honoring Josephine Baker, and hymns.  
Just when I thought, "I would love to hear her do a standard," Meryl sang the beautiful classic "Autumn Leaves." I was entranced with her voice.
The band comprises Meryl Joan Lammers (vocals, flute, guitar, maracas; she's also a music therapist), Chris Braddock (bass guitar, guitar and dobro), and Paul Boris (keyboards). I could easily see them being a big hit at the summer concert series at the Myrick Center or Anson B. Nixon Park.
At intermission the church pastor, the Rev. David Lovelace, graciously gave us a little behind-the-scenes tour of the beautiful church after we went up to him and asked him why there was a mirror hanging on one side of the choir area. (It seems the organist also directs the singers and hence needs a good sightline.)
After the show I was delighted to run into my friends of many years Mary Nell and Brownell Ferry from Kennett Square. How nice it was to see them and hear they are doing well!

BLUEGRASS: Seneca Rocks! rocked

On Nov. 11 we drove down to Newark to see a terrific show by the country-infused bluegrass band Seneca Rocks! as part of the Brandywine Friends of Old-Time Music's autumn concert series.
"Happy" was the operative word for the evening: there was a great turnout, the musicians were clearly having fun playing together, and the audience members had big smiles. The band comprised Dudley Connell on guitar, Sally Love on guitar, Tom Adams on banjo, David McLaughlin on mandolin (he was especially amazing), and Marshall Wilborn on bass; everybody took their turn with the vocals.
At one point the band performed a Kitty Wells song in which Sally was singing about visiting every bar and honky-tonk just to see who was there. My companion leaned over to me and said, "Hey! Just like Tilda!"
The next Brandywine Friends show will be by the Red Squirrel Chasers at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, 420 Willa Rd., Newark.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Raising the roof

A West Marlborough couple wants to add a second story to the garage on their Springdell Road property but will need permission from the township's zoning hearing board to do so.
The owners, Drs. Joshua Farber and Frances Koblenzer, will need a variance because the height of the garage would be about 26 feet, higher than the zoning code's 15-foot limit for accessory buildings. The property is at 175 Springdell Road, which is on the west side of Springdell Road between Runnymede and Chapel Roads.
The zoning board will hold its hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, at the township garage. I will be there.

UNIONVILLE: A new sign at Station 36

In last week's column I wrote that the Po-Mar-Lin firehouse in the middle of Unionville was finally getting a sign. I thought it was going to be a sign out by the street, but instead it's a very handsome medallion on the front of the building.

The new sign at Station 36.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

THE FLASH: A guitar virtuoso

On Nov. 9 three friends and I went to hear a performance by guitarist Adrian Legg at the Kennett Flash.
Before I talk about Adrian, I want to say what a great, relaxed, intimate venue the Flash is. We were up the balcony (it's only up a few steps), which is furnished with comfortable black couches, so you can stretch out like you're at a Roman banquet or a VIP lounge. The Flash even offers food service: we had a hamburger and a chicken Caesar salad, both tasty.
Now on to Adrian, an endearing 68-year-old great-grandfather from London who was not only an amazing musician but a hilarious storyteller. He plays a customized guitar and coaxes from it wonderful, soothing melodies of the sort that are regularly featured on 88.5 WXPN's "Echoes" program. He adjusts his guitar's tuning on the fly, and the observant guitarist in our party noted that the tuning pegs are pointed down, like a banjo's.
We never knew where his stories would end up. In one of them, he told us about how it's a good thing that the blues got started in America because it never would have gotten any traction in England. Had a blues musician in Britain bemoaned the fact that "I woke up this morning and my woman did me wrong," "someone would have said, 'oh, you poor chap, come in and have a cup of tea,' and boom! that would have been the end of it."
In another story he said whenever he is expecting a delivery through the mail and it's taking too long, he has developed a sure-fire way to guarantee that it will arrive: he gets into the bathtub and soaps up and just when he reaches "peak lather," his mailman, Aidan, is sure to show up.

SURGERY: Where's Diana?

I'm guessing regular patrons of the Kennett Square post office have been wondering where their friendly postal worker Diana has been. Here's your answer: she had rotator cuff surgery three weeks ago and is taking time off to recover.
I was delighted to see her pedaling away on a recumbent bike at the Kennett Y on Nov. 11 and asked her how things were going.
Very well, she said, although her shoulder is still quite painful. She's been going faithfully to physical therapy sessions at the Premier facility on McFarlan Road, where they give her a rigorous workout. She still can't lift her arm above her shoulder, so she has to recruit her husband or her son to do her hair (her son does a better job, she says). She still has to wear a brace on her right arm, although she'd temporarily removed it while on the exercise bike.
She doesn't think she'll be returning to the post office until at least the end of the year, she said, because she needs to be able to lift 70 pounds. In the meantime, she's watching Hallmark TV and reading Nora Roberts books.

GOODBYE: Final issue of Horse of DelVal

Well, this is a bummer: "The Horse of Delaware Valley" has published its final issue. The equestrian tabloid's December issue says "Thanks for the Memories" on page 1, along with thumbnails of 15 covers from the past. Its website says, "We wish you the best" but gives no reason for the abrupt closing. 
It was always funny to watch people pulling the newspaper out of their post office box at Unionville and immediately opening to page 2 to see if their photograph was there. Page 2 was reserved for shots of spectators and participants at horse events (bonus points if you were blonde, wearing a smart hat, carrying a cute dog or kissing your pony).
There were pages of full-color real estate ads featured gorgeous bucolic farms. Sometimes the locations were described using an insular shorthand like "Tuesday country" (translation for baffled outsiders: the areas where Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds hunt on Tuesdays).
Sorry to see another publication go by the wayside.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A great afternoon

We had a wonderful time Sunday at the 82nd running of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup races here in glorious West Marlborough. 
When you're outside for the afternoon, the weather matters, and this year it couldn't have been better: it was wonderfully warm for early November, although on the top of the hill where we were parked it was windy enough to blow over our folding chairs (but nothing like the memorable wind a few years ago that blew over the portable toilets).
We caught up with lots of friends and neighbors, ate fried chicken and way too many desserts, said hi to lots of dogs (a big brown Newfoundland was my favorite this year), and cheered for the jockeys we knew.
This year a couple of friends from Kimberton were participating in the carriage parade, so we stopped by to visit and got a close-up look at the carriages, among them some grand four-in-hands and some simple and completely charming pony carts, with everyone in elegant costumes. Our friends told us that everyone met up at New Bolton Center, then drove their carriages over to Wayne and Marjorie Grafton's farm and then on to the Hunt Cup.
The sidesaddle race was great fun to watch, and I marvelled at the skill and grit of the ladies -- and one gentleman -- who participated. Afterward we saw our friend and physician Dr. Mary-Anne Ost, a sidesaddle enthusiast herself, and she said she hopes the sidesaddle event becomes a regular feature on the Hunt Cup race card.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

ALL OVER TOWN: A little adventure

There is no such thing as a routine Saturday morning in Tilda's life.
We set out around 8:30 for the pancake breakfast at Masonic Lodge #475 in downtown Kennett Square. En route we saw two dear friends, already with their helmets on, driving their van to the Opening Day meet of their foxhunting club. We saw them only long enough to recognize them and wave, but we could tell how excited they were (they'd only been grooming horses and polishing tack for two full days).
At the breakfast, there was a good crowd, and I spotted my friends Lynn Sinclair, Blair Fleischmann, and East Marlborough supervisor Bob Weer and his family. The pancakes were great, as always, and the coffee -- with jugs of real milk! -- was top-notch. I was amused by the blue shirts that the breakfast staffers were wearing: forks and knives replaced the traditional square and compasses of the Masonic emblem.

After breakfast we checked out the re-routed Strasburg Road near Stargazer Road, where PennDOT is building a roundabout connecting Stargazer, Shadyside, and Romansville Roads at the site of the soon-to-be Stargazer Village development. The roadwork is pretty impressive. Even though it was Saturday, crews were removing the macadam from the now-abandoned part of Strasburg Road.
Then we headed down the newly reopened Frog Hollow Road to check out the renovated Speakman #1 Covered Bridge. A group of vintage car enthusiasts from the "Active A's" Region of the Model A Restorers Club had the same idea, forming a mini-parade of Model A's across the bridge as a group of bicyclists waved and took photos. 
After that my Saturday involved upgrading my computer memory and trying to avoid thinking about my soaring health insurance premium, neither of which, I am certain, you want to read about.

CLARENCE: The new moggie

Several readers asked for an update on Clarence, the nine-year-old cat I had the good fortune to adopt from the SPCA in West Chester a few weeks ago.
He is settling in very nicely, thank you, and has already gained a pound and a half. He is fascinated by water, has distinct preferences in both dry and canned food, has located the sunniest spots in the house for napping, and has a low tolerance for an even slightly soiled litter box (he has a very effective way of communicating his distaste of same).
As a new and doting cat mom, I have purchased numerous treats and cat paraphernalia for him, but he completely ignores them. When I told her this, my friend Susan nodded knowledgeably and said it's further proof of her long-held rule about cats: the more money you spend on something for them, the less interest they'll show.

AT SEA: They're out of touch

I was at Foxy Loxy the other morning at the same time that a few local men were gathering there to embark on a sailing trip. I asked two of them how they felt about being cut off for several days from cell phone calls, emails, the Internet and election news while they were at sea.  
Their beaming faces gave me an eloquent answer.

THE INTERNET: Another victim of hackers

In last week's column I mentioned a friend whose computer had been hacked by someone based in Lithuania after she clicked on what appeared to be a message from Federal Express. She wasn't the only one, it seems.
A reader writes: "A FedEx Secretary at our Coatesville church also clicked on a FedEx link and had all files encrypted. Fortunately financial files were backed up on church software company's server."

UNIONVILLE: We need to see some ID, please

Everyone already knows where Station 36 is, but now I guess it will be official: a sign is expected to be installed this week in front of the Po-Mar-Lin firehouse in downtown Unionville. Finally, joked one firefighter friend, the pizza delivery guy will be able to find us!

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Not much new on the agenda

The Nov. 1 meetings of the West Marlborough Township planning commission and supervisors did not yield a lot of news. In the public comments section of the meeting, once again citizens reported illegal parking at the Whip Tavern in Springdell and motorists running the stop signs at the London Grove crossroads. 
Supervisor Bill Wylie said he expects to present at the December meeting the streamlined schedule for township fees that the supervisors have been working on. And supervisor Hugh Lofting said the township road crew is "getting ready for winter."
The supervisors also announced they will be holding a budget meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at the township hall.

MUSHROOMS: A new role for the fungus?

The Wall Street Journal's recent special section about "the next hot trends in food" highlighted a potential new role for mushrooms. A company called MycoTechnology is experimenting with using the root systems of Kennett's favorite crop to block the bitterness in cacao beans so that chocolate products will need to have less sugar added.