Sunday, April 30, 2017

EAST MARLBOROUGH: Activity at the Superfresh

We did a double-take on Sunday evening when we saw that the parking lot in front of the former Superfresh store on Baltimore Pike was full of cars. Since the supermarket shut down, that entire side of the parking lot is usually empty.
So naturally we drove over to see what was going on, and it turns out that it was a car meet sponsored by Nex Gen Motors, a group of local automotive enthusiasts who get together every other Sunday. Dozens of gleaming, souped-up cars were on display, some with their hoods raised so that admirers could inspect the engines. Mostly men, with a few women and kids, were socializing and looking at the cars.
Other car enthusiasts, however, were more interested in function than form: many drivers were showing off their cars' acceleration, peeling out of the parking lot with high-revving engines and squealing tires.
When I got home I checked out the club's Facebook page, and they describe themselves as "a car club that promotes RideRespect, in which our philosophy is based on the idea of respecting your vehicle as well as the ones around you."

DEMOCRACY: Yes, another election

Tuesday, May 16, is the primary election, and I just received my first ad in the mail.
Judging from the number of campaign signs along the roads, most of the attention locally seems to be focused on the race for Kennett Square district judge (officially, District 15-3-04). All five candidates (David Cox, Lorraine Ramunno, Al Iacocca, Jane Donze and Sean Rafferty) are registered as both Democrat and Republican.
A celebrity of sorts is running for a seat on the Kennett school board: borough resident Mark Bowden, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and the author of "Black Hawk Down," "Killing Pablo," "Guests of the Ayatollah" and (most recently) "The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden." I met Mark in my reporter days and found him to be friendly, smart, humble and fair. He is cross-filed and is the only candidate running for the school board seat in Kennett Region A.
In the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, Jeff Hellrung and Elise Anderson are running for two seats in Region A and Thomas Day and Steven Simonson are running for two seats in Region B. All four are cross-filed.
In East Marlborough Township, there are two seats on the Board of Supervisors open. On the primary ballot are Democrats Aasif Chanandin, Robert B. McKinstry Jr., and Julia McGovern Lacy and Republicans Eddie Caudill and Tom Simpers.  
Ricki Stumpo is running for re-election for a six-year term as a Pocopson Township supervisor; same for Rob Pearson in Newlin Township, Wendell Fenton in Pennsbury Township, Curtis Mason in Penn Township, Jake Chalfin in West Marlborough Township, and Scudder Stevens in Kennett Township.
There are four seats open on Kennett Square Borough Council. On the primary ballot are Democrats Peter Waterkotte, Brenda Mercomes, Ethan Cramer and Latoya Myers; on the Republican side are Gregory Deveney, Matthew McGill and Dan Maffei. Matt Fetick is running for another four-year term as Kennett Square Mayor.
On the Chester County website there is a link to a complete list of the candidates, from state Supreme Court Justice all the way to local inspector of elections.

CLARENCE: What is this noise?

In the wee hours of Saturday morning I was awakened by flashes of lightning in the western sky. I checked the weather app on my phone, and sure enough, a line of storms was on its way east from Lancaster.
This was the first thunderstorm during which Clarence, our amazing wonderful rescue cat, has been living here, and I think we've established that he does not like them. As the rumbles of thunder started, he moved from the foot of the bed steadily closer to me, and during the height of the storm he pretty much resembled a 12-pound necktie around my neck.

HORSEBACK: A busy week

This past week was certainly a busy one for Unionville equestrians.
Many local eventers headed south to the world-renowned Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington, either to compete or to spectate. One friend of mine went to support her Cochranville trainer (who ended up doing extremely well), and said she planned to drive down with her barn-mates on Friday afternoon after work.
"We'll get there about midnight," she said nonchalantly (it turned out to be more like 2 a.m.).
And other Unionville folks went to the notoriously challenging Maryland Hunt Cup, where this year only two horses crossed the finish line. The Hunt Cup was featured in an April 23 segment of the TV news show "60 Minutes" about the exhilaration -- and the danger -- of timber racing. Charlie Rose interviewed Hunt Cup veteran Louis "Paddy" Nielson and his daughters Sanna and Kathy; trainers Joe and Blythe Davies; and jockey Mark Beecher (who listed and pointed to the many fractures he has suffered).
The segment included a lot of action shots taken at last November's Pennsylvania Hunt Cup (including some great drone shots), and of course I tried to find myself and my friends. Every time I paused the video to rewatch it, though, an ad for an oral rheumatoid arthritis drug came on. After about the fourth time of seeing a now-pain-free woman happily walking through the zoo, I gave up. Thank you, Pfizer.

LONGWOOD: Music of the night

People who live near Longwood Gardens recently received a "Dear Neighbor" letter explaining what's involved in getting the renovated Fountain Garden ready for its May 27 grand opening.
"You may hear loud popping sounds and music as we test fountain functionality and appropriate sound levels," reads the letters, which is over the signature of Longwood's president and CEO Paul Redman.
"We appreciate your patience as we fine tune our performances before and after our public hours of operation. We are, of course, adhering to any and all codes for sound levels to ensure that we are not being a disruptive neighbor."
Two free admission tickets were enclosed.

TRACK: The Unionville Invitational

We stopped by the Unionville Invitational track meet on Saturday to support the Young Relative and were amazed at the dozens of schools represented, from Lower Merion to Dock Mennonite to the "Valleys" (Great, Garnet, Sun, and Twin) and the private schools in Delaware.
It was quite warm on Saturday, and I'll bet there were some sunburnt fans the next morning. It's hard to believe that just a few weeks ago I was shivering under a drop cloth at the same venue!
Track-meet veterans know to bring portable seat cushions, because those metal bleachers get mighty uncomfortable after a while. A few minutes after we got there, a man chose a seat two rows down from us and pulled out his trusty foam sit-upon.
"Oh," I groaned to my companions. "I forgot my seat cushion!"
The newcomer didn't miss a beat.
"I'll rent you mine," he said, turning toward me. "Very reasonable!"
(As it turns out, a few minutes later his son brought him an actual bed pillow to sit on, so I did get to use his cushion after all.)
We got a chuckle when the PA guy announced the makes and tag numbers of four vehicles that were blocking key parts of the roadway: two of them were Mercedes SUVs.

NEW GARDEN: Mexican buffet

On Saturday we visited Los 5 Arcos, a Mexican buffet restaurant in the Big Lots shopping center on Scarlett Road, on the west side of Kennett Square.
The décor is basic but the food is top-notch, and how great is the idea of a Mexican buffet: you can sample as many types of food as you want and then go back for more. The names of the dishes were written in Spanish and English.
I started with a big bowl of the amazing seafood soup, which was full of mussels and big chunks of carrots and celery. Then we both tried a variety of delicious chicken and pork dishes, cactus, rice, and salsa. The waitress brought a basket of tortillas so we could "roll our own."
There were also tamales, flan, and a variety of fruit set out on the buffet, but I was too full to try them. 
The only dish that was even slightly spicy was the meatballs with chipotle, and even that wasn't too hot for our wimpy gringo palates.
For the two of us the bill was $25.
We were at the restaurant at about 6 p.m., and only two tables were occupied. Los 5 Arcos is in the space where Taqueria Moroleon was located before it moved to Route 41 near Hockessin.

Monday, April 24, 2017

SALES: An amusing salesman

If we must have telemarketers, let them all be like Kevin.
He phoned me the other evening and tried to sell me a subscription to a series of plays in Philadelphia. He described the theater's upcoming shows with great and seemingly unfeigned enthusiasm, especially the musical "Mamma Mia!"
"Don't you just LOVE Abba?!" he exclaimed, almost squealing with delight. How he maintained this level of energy over his entire work shift, I don't know.
I explained that we live some distance from Center City and like going to matinees, and he smoothly segued into the associated discounts on parking lots and restaurants that we'd receive by buying a subscription.
"Would you let me send you an email about all this?" he asked, hesitantly, as if I'd be doing him a personal favor.
I hope they pay him well.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

POCOPSON: Bank closure

Access to the Brandywine Creek is blocked at the Northbrook Road bridge, thanks to a huge tree that (it seems) was cut down by the electric company. "Peco cut it down and left it here," someone spray-painted on the trunk.
An enterprising person has hewn a step in it to enable anglers to pass, but canoeists will be out of luck.

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A tree is blocking access to the Brandywine at the Northbrook Road bridge.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: It's now for sale

The long-vacant ranch house at Sportsman's Lane and Street Road is now for sale, with an asking price of $399,900. The weeds and vines that choked the property have been cut down, the interior has been completely renovated, the swimming pool has been cleaned and filled and furniture has been imported for "staging" purposes.
The 1,800-square-foot house was built in 1969 and sits on an acre.
I had to laugh at the real-estate listing agent's description that it's located on "a quiet, no-outlet street." Perhaps he didn't realize that there's a popular gun club right across the road.
The house was the source of annual complaints from a next-door neighbor, who would attend township meetings to tell the supervisors that weeds from the neglected property were trespassing onto her property.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

ROAD TRIP: A day at Hawk Mountain

We had a marvelous time on Saturday hiking at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, which is about 75 miles almost due north of Unionville. I hadn't been there for about a dozen years and the changes are amazing.
The first one we noticed was the beautiful new native plant garden next to the visitors' center. It's surrounded by a high fence (the "deer exclosure") to keep out the hungry creatures. The early spring plants were just lovely: we saw trillium, Dutchman's breeches, bloodroot, spring beauty, Virginia bluebells, trout lily, jack-in-the-pulpit, wood poppy, wild ginger, marsh marigold (the native kind) and lots of ferns. Lily pads were lurking just under the surface of the little pond.

Virginia bluebells.


Wood poppy and ferns.

Before heading out on the trail we caught the end of a talk about raptors. The lecturer explained how raptors fly using thermals, and told us how they can lock their talons into their prey, avoiding undue strain on their muscles. The hawk perched on his gauntleted arm was actually the only one we saw that day.
Having paid our $9-per-person trail fee (a bargain), we crossed Hawk Mountain Road and set off along the new handicapped-accessible Silhouette Trail (with a changing display of life-size bird silhouettes set up along the trail).
The well-marked trails vary in difficulty. At one crossroads we were given the choice of the Lookout Trail or the Escarpment Trail, which was described as "rough" and "rocky." Well, that was a no-brainer: of course we took the latter. After about 10 minutes of clambering over slippery rocks (it was lightly raining), I felt like I'd just finished an hour-long exercise class at the Y.
And what spectacular views from the top! North Lookout is 1,521 feet above sea level, and you can see for miles over the valley. I've been there in summer and fall, but never before in spring, and the green of the trees just leafing out was beautiful. 

View from South Outlook at Hawk Mountain.

At the South Lookout we had a lovely conversation with two conservation trainees who are over here from Africa studying, a woman from Zimbabwe and a man from Ghana. Both of them were pleasant and knowledgeable. I didn't realize that Hawk Mountain enjoys an international reputation for its conservation education.
I also noticed that a lot of new railings (made of composite rather than wood) had been installed along the especially steep paths. And along some of the trails are posts with QR codes that you can scan with your phone to find out details about trees and geology.
There were quite a few Cub Scouts hiking at the Sanctuary on Saturday, and they kept us entertained with their chatter and enthusiasm. They were an amazingly energetic group: as we were walking toward the parking lot, thirsty and a little worse for wear, they were still running around the paths outside the visitors' center at top speed. (Like us, though, their leaders were showing some signs of fatigue.) 

ERCILDOUN: Not from around here!

A little ritual we have before heading off on road trips is to stop at Triple Fresh in Ercildoun for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. While we were enjoyed our breakfast while sitting at an outside table, a pickup truck pulled into the parking lot and two men walked past us toward the store.
One said to the other, "Out here, a lot of places have these boot things by the door."
I don't know if he was merely warning his buddy not to trip over the boot scraper or was filling him in about an odd quirk of these strange country folks "out here."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

STARS: The night sky

Once again the Chester County Astronomical Society is hosting a Sky Tour for kids and adults at Anson B. Nixon Park, at the Tino Leto athletic fields on North Walnut Street, Kennett Square. The event starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 13.
Club members will bring their telescopes for all to use. "Learn about the use of laptops, iPhones, tablets and the best apps to identify and find planets, their moons, nebulas, the constellations, satellites, etc.," reads the press release. Stargazers are asked to bring a small flashlight and to dress for the weather.

MUDDER: Overcoming obstacles

In the next few weeks, you may see some unusual activity as you drive past Plantation Field on Route 82. That's because, for the second year in a row, the Tough Mudder competition is coming to Unionville, and it involves the construction of numerous obstacles that these thrill-seeking athletes must overcome. Last year it looked like a mini-village was taking shape at Plantation.
I was asked to join two separate Tough Mudder teams by my gym friends but did not hesitate to reply, "What are you, NUTS?!" 
One veteran Mudder admits she is worried about this year's new obstacles. For example, instead of just having to plunge into an ice bath (bad enough!), now you have to swim into it under a barrier; there's even a cage placed on top of the barrier so you can't cheat and clamber over it.  
Yet, go figure: otherwise sane people love this event, exclaiming about the challenge and the wonderful camaraderie, and are eager to pay for the privilege of getting wet, filthy, cold and bruised.
It all goes down May 20 and 21.

GOOD-BYE: A life well lived

As a lot of you know, we lost one half of the senior Tally-hos on April 4, my Dear Old Dad. The support we have received from the community has warmed our hearts. It's amazing how many people knew and loved Dad, from the good folks at Hood's BBQ and the Last Chance Garage, to the kind mail-lady, to Dad's airport buddies and the people he worked with for so many years. 
We are hearing so many wonderful "Dad stories," but the one that we hear most often is Dad's standard reply to "How are you, Jack?" An enthusiastic "Better for seeing you!" was his apparently universal response.
I've even heard from several "Unionville in the News" readers who never met him in person but have told me they'll miss reading my little anecdotes about him. I'll miss writing them, too . . . and having him demand his (never-collected) $5 per item.
Thank you all -- readers, friends, neighbors, my Y family, Facebook friends -- for making this path a little easier, especially for my mother.

Monday, April 17, 2017

NEWLIN: A small bridge reopens

After a year of being shut, the stretch of Green Valley Road between Powell Road and Brandywine Creek Road in Newlin Township is once again officially open to traffic.
In May 2016, PennDOT declared that the small bridge over Sweet Creek, a tiny tributary to the Brandywine, was unsafe because the steel beams underneath had deteriorated. They have fixed it, but it doesn't look much different other than the new asphalt on the road and the shiny metal guardrails. But what a beautiful back road Green Valley is, especially in the early spring! I saw a hillside covered with may apples and yellow trout lilies, a wonderful sight.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

TRACK: A big meet at Rustin

On Wednesday the Tally-ho clan (very sadly, minus our patriarch) headed to West Chester to watch the Young Relative and his UHS teammates compete in the Rustin Invitational track meet. It was a huge multi-school meet, with kids from everywhere from Oxford to Souderton to Germantown, but it was well managed, with only seconds of downtime between heats.
The YR and his teammate did extremely well in what ended up being a very fast race and were pleased with their performance.
In any case, it was a lovely warm day to sit in the bleachers and enjoy family time while watching the athletes. One youth was coming off the track toward the bleachers and, instead of walking around to the gate, simply hopped over the chain-link fence. He didn't need to run to gain momentum; he simply jumped over it, matter-of-factly, like a white-tailed deer, and cleared it by a considerable margin. His less ambitious friend held on to the top rail and clambered over.

CRAFTS: Tied up in knots

Who remembers macramé? On Friday at the Kennett I saw a woman wearing a pretty blue top with an intricately knotted design on the back.
I told her it brought back happy memories of the 1970s, when macramé was a popular craft and we all created elaborate plant hangers and friendship bracelets, often accented by wooden beads. I recall making a purse for myself, but the knots were too far apart and things kept falling out of it.

FRAUD: Be careful out there

On Saturday night, just as I was thinking about heading to bed, I received a text saying that my main credit card had been used to make a payment of 55 cents at the "PHLLPSBRGINN" (I'm assuming that's the Phillipsburg Inn). My credit-card company's algorithms had flagged this as a "nibble" by some scam artist to see if the account was valid.
Rather than responding to the text (just in case it, too, wasn't legitimate), I phoned the company and they closed the account. I thanked them for letting me know so quickly.
Two questions:
1. Who on earth makes a credit-card payment of 55 cents?
2. And where is the Phillipsburg Inn? There's one on Route 22 in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. An online review said it was "without question" the worst hotel the reviewer had ever stayed at.

CHANGES: Goodbye to Tender Touch

A few local changes that equestrian friends will want to know about:
After 21 years, Brenda Hillard has decided to close Tender Touch, her gift shop and consignment shop for tack and riding apparel in Ercildoun; its last day was Saturday, April 15. Brenda said although she is closing the shop, she plans on "keeping the business name, networking and doing some shows and Holiday Open Houses . . . I will call consignees as I get all sorted, along with paperwork."
And Pisano & Son Riding Boot Repair is closing its store at 108 West Market Street, West Chester, as of May 1. Boot repairs will still be done at the Phoenixville shop (702 Eland Village), shoe repairs at the Malvern one (5 Channing Ave.)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

OVERHEAD: Along those lines

The other morning a helicopter was flying very low along the high-tension wires near my house; my guess was that the occupants were inspecting for any problems with the lines or the towers. The passenger's door was completely open, and the chopper was low enough that I could see he had his foot outside resting on the strut. Definitely not a job I would want!
A nearby neighbor reported that she was not at all happy with the helicopter's low altitude, as the racket was alarming her already high-strung yearlings.

TAXES: Share of income

I know this is a First World gripe, but why are "flow-through entities" allowed to send out their K-1 forms, which you need in order to fill out your tax return, AFTER the April 15 tax deadline? The deadline for every tax form and statement from banks, employers, and so forth is Jan. 30; why not K-1s?
Every year I get all my tax paperwork together early, and then I wait and wait for the stupid K-1s to show up in the mailbox. As of this writing, on April 15, I have not received a single one. 
The only completely safe option is to apply for an extension to file your tax return. Or, of course, to ditch the investment completely.

EARTH DAY: The 47th year

Earth Day is Saturday, April 22. Among those who attended the first Earth Day celebration in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park back in 1970 was Unionville's own Ian McHarg, the internationally known landscape designer and land-use planner.
Ed Muskie, then a U.S. Senator from Maine and later U.S. Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter, was the keynote speaker at the Philadelphia event, and Ralph Nader and Allen Ginsberg were also there.


Sunday, April 9, 2017


Traffic was the main topic of discussion at the April 4 meeting of the West Marlborough Township Board of Supervisors.
With improvements proposed for the intersection of Baltimore Pike and Newark Road in neighboring New Garden Township, and steadily increasing traffic volumes and speeds through West Marlborough, the supervisors decided to contact Al Federico, the traffic engineer who had done a previous study, so that he could update the results. Bill Wylie, who chairs the Board of Supervisors, said the plan could include possible steps the township could take to control traffic, such as installing four-way stop signs, lowering speed limits, and assuming maintenance responsibilities for road currently owned by the state.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

WEST MARLBOROUGH: An unsigned letter

Also at the monthly meeting, Bill Wylie, who chairs the West Marlborough Board of Supervisors, said the township office had received a second anonymous letter of complaint; he didn't reveal the topic.
Mr. Wylie said he and his fellow supervisors are all well known and visible in the community and residents are free to approach them with any concerns, so they plan to ignore the unsigned letter without comment.
"There are plenty of channels to communicate with us," said Supervisor Jake Chalfin.

HORSES: Accuracy in animation

A horseback riding friend reports that Disney's new "Beauty and the Beast" live-action/CGI-animated movie must have had some knowledgeable equestrians as production consultants, because "they got all the details right -- for once!"
She said the movie showed the horse Philippe dealing with an icy spot exactly as he would have in real life, and was even accurate in depicting the way that reins move. The film stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley from "Downton Abbey") as the Beast.

KENNETT: Renovations underway

While strolling along State Street in Kennett the other day we peered through the window of the former Half-Moon Saloon to see what was progress was being made in its transition to Grain Craft Bar & Kitchen. It looks as if the Half-Moon's bar will remain where it is, but all the tables were removed, and painting and renovations were well underway. "Help wanted" signs were posted outside. If you want a sneak preview of what's coming, you can visit the Grain at 270 E. Main St. in Newark, Del.

KENNETT: Ice cream shop opens

Last week I wrote that we were determined to visit the new ice-cream place in the Market at Liberty Place, and on Tuesday evening we did. It's called Dylan's Desserts, it serves up ice cream from the Woodside Farm Creamery in Hockessin (I had chocolate, my date had cherry vanilla), and its mascot is a tabby cat exclaiming, "That ice cream is purrrfect." Do you really need to know anything more?

ST. PAT'S: A grotto and garden

St. Patrick's Church on Lafayette Street in Kennett will be building a grotto and garden this spring in the courtyard between the church and the school. 
As Father Chris Rodgers wrote to his parishioners:
"The vacant land between our Church and School was for decades the place of our parish convent and the home of the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught in our parish school. As such, the ground is holy. Our project will recapture that holiness, creating a welcoming path and entrance in the shape of a Celtic cross, a shrine on the convent porch and a garden with benches, beauty and life. The ground that housed our Religious Sisters will once again be a place of welcome, reflection and prayer for many years to come."
You can see plans for the garden are on the church's website as well as on signs at both ends of the courtyard.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

UNIONVILLE: Tour date is announced

Each spring I get to visit the houses on the Kennett Library's Bayard Taylor House & Garden Day so that I can write the descriptions for the tour program. So I had a certain sense of deja vu the other day when I received a press release about the tour that contained some of my own verbiage!
The tour, which as always benefits the library’s children’s programs and adult literacy, will be held on Saturday, June 3, from 10 to 4. It focuses on the Unionville area -- in fact, you probably know several of the homeowners. There are eight properties (three of them are on one of my favorite back roads, Hilltop View Road in Newlin Township), plus a lunch stop at the Stroud Water Research Center in West Marlborough. Tickets are $40 (a huge bargain) and go on sale May 1. You can purchase them online ( or in person at the library.

POCOPSON: Retract!

On Wednesday I stopped in at Garden Thyme in Pocopson to buy pansies for my windowboxes and planters and noticed a sign on the front door of Dr. Spancake's veterinary office next door: "Please LOCK Flexi Leads! Thank you!" One can only imagine the waiting room mayhem that necessitated the posting of that sign.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

HADLEY PRESENTS: A memorable concert

Singer/songwriter/fiddler/guitarist Jake Armerding put on a terrific show at West Grove Friends Meeting on Saturday evening as part of the Hadley Fund series. I hadn't heard of him and didn't get a chance to check out any YouTube videos ahead of time, so the fact that he was both talented and adorable came as a wonderful surprise.
His songs included from a soulful "Ashokan Farewell," a funny song about how Midwesterners (he lives in Minnesota) insist on being nice no matter how they're actually feeling, "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" from Paul Simon's "Graceland," a bluegrass song with the words slightly altered to apply to his little boy, and a sweet love song called "Favorite Person" that had me sentimentally squeezing my date's hand.
Jake mentioned several times during the show how much he loves the acoustics at West Grove Meeting (Alyce Denver, the clerk of the Meeting, told me later that he has actually done some recordings there). At the end of the evening he thanked Hadley Fund program coordinator Sheila Tekavec for organizing the show and Joe Young for doing the sound. "You have two gems there," he said to the audience.
It was great to see so many folks at the show, including some youngsters, and people were raving about it the next day on social media.

PHILLY: A busy day in Center City

Every so often we all need to get a bracing dose of city life, so on Sunday we headed into Philadelphia to see a matinee of "The Importance of Being Earnest" at the Walnut Street Theater. The play was fun, the actress who played the imperious Lady Bracknell (Mary Martello) was very funny, and the sets were beautiful -- the garden in the second half of the play looked like a prize-winning display from the Philadelphia Flower Show.
But oh, the traffic! Usually weekends are calmer in the city, but not this time. First an unfortunate Subaru broke down on the Schuylkill Expressway near the Girard Avenue exit, causing a long backup. And in Center City we couldn't go more than a quarter-block without having to stop for absolute masses of pedestrians, busses, a horse-drawn carriage, an ambulance, police vehicles and even a trailer carrying Penn's sculls, on their way to Boathouse Row. I don't think we made two consecutive green lights. Unbelievably, and with great relief, we got to our seats 10 minutes before curtain time.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

SHOES: No choice in the matter

Thank you to the kind folks at Famous Footwear in the Longwood shopping center! On Saturday evening, while we were en route to a concert and pressed for time, both of my shoes decided to self-destruct: the soles and uppers completely parted company. 
My companion dropped me off at the doorway of the shoe store and went to park as I shuffled inside. The clerk took one look at my now-useless shoes, chuckled and suggested a few possible replacements. I handed her the four pieces of my former shoes and I heard them "clunk" into a trash can.
Her suggestion of a pair of Skechers was perfect. I found my size, bought them and put them on, and we were on our way with plenty of time to spare.

BREW-HA-HA: You can eat there now

The Brew-Ha-Ha coffee shop in Greenville now serves food and alcohol! Although the shop is still located in the Powder Mill Square shopping center off Route 52, it has moved to the back portion of the shopping center. When we were there late Saturday afternoon, there were numerous families and groups of friends eating, chatting or tapping away on their computers. A few hardy folks were even sitting outside on the patio, though it wasn't especially warm.
I ordered a turkey and cheese sandwich on a sourdough baguette and my date had the tortellini -- both were tasty, and our server was charming. We were also brought two warm brioche rolls with cinnamon butter, on the house. I had never had Boylan Cola before, and it tasted like a mixture of Coca-Cola and old-fashioned root beer.
On the walls I recognized a few of the oversized, old-fashioned French advertising posters from the "old" Brew-ha-ha, along with an eclectic mix of other artwork and bric-a-brac. The tables and chairs are rustic wood, and the whole atmosphere is comfortable and casual. I could definitely see myself bringing a proofreading project there and camping out for an afternoon.

EAST MARLBOROUGH: Slow down through town

I'm seeing signs that speed enforcement is being stepped up on Route 82 through Unionville. The police vehicle (with or without Chief Robert "Clarkie" Clarke) has been parked at the URA fields across from Hood's, in the former feed store parking lot next to the post office and at the four-way stop at Wollaston Road. There are also timers on Route 82, near Hood's and near Unionville Elementary School, that tell you how fast you are going. They blink reprovingly when you are doing more than the 30mph limit.
One of my spies also reports that the Pennsylvania State Police had a speeder stopped on Newark Road near London Grove Friends Meeting the other afternoon. I was glad to hear it; people drive dangerously fast on that stretch of road.

UHS: A track meet

On Wednesday afternoon we attended the Young Relative's first home track meet of the spring season. Naturally we focus on him (thoughtfully, he wears bright sneakers so we can spot him even across the field), but we enjoy seeing all the athletes out there. The kids joke around with each other between races, and stretch and jog and do high-knee runs and (apparently effortless) sky-high tuck jumps to keep themselves loose.
I love the good sportsmanship on display: one girl cried out in delight when realized she had just set a PR (personal record) and all the girls, whether on her team or not, congratulated her.
The PIAA official running the race was quite an amusing character. He was strict about the rules forbidding earrings, necklaces and watches and made the competitors hand over the offending items to their coaches. He had little patience when some athletes were confused about who was running in a certain relay race: "If you don't know who's on your team, I can't help you!"
When the meet started at 3:30 it was a beautiful warm afternoon and I dressed accordingly, forgetting that the UHS stadium can be a treacherous microclimate. By 7 p.m. (of course, the Young Relative ran the very last leg in the very last race!), as the sun was setting, it was cold and very windy. I had unearthed a sweatshirt from the work truck and had a painter's dropcloth wrapped around my bare legs, sarong-style. I was still shivering. I noticed that even the YR, who wears shorts year-round, donned some leggings and a sweatshirt over his shorts and running singlet. A more seasoned mom told me she keeps in her car three weights of jackets for just this reason.

NIXON PARK: Gardens on the move

Christine and Steve Denno were good enough to send me an update about the Kennett Community Gardens at Anson B. Nixon Park. The garden area is moving from the south side of the parking lot (the one near the tennis courts) to the west side.
A group of gardeners and volunteers dismantled the old raised beds, a task that took about four hours. The next step will be to transfer the "old" soil to the new garden, where it will be used the shared herb bed, the Kennett Area Community Services garden plots, and the children's garden area. Laurel Valley Soils has generously agreed to donate "new" soil to fill the new garden plots.
"The next step is to install a fence, and once that is done we can then schedule a date to build out the plots, move the soil, spread the wood chips and start gardening!" An opening celebration is set for May 5th.
The new garden will have about 50 raised beds, measuring 3-by-10 feet each. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of $25 for the year. Gardeners supply their own tools, plants, seeds, organic fertilizer and herbicides and share communal responsibilities.
Here is the contact information for anyone interested in reserving a garden: phone, 610-444-1416; email; internet