About the writer

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.

brandywine in white

DSC_9005This has been the summer of old school fabulous summer parties. The summer began with Natural Lands Trust’s Stardust 2015 at Stroud Preserve and last Saturday it was capped off by the simply brilliant Brandywine in White at Chadds Peak Farm.

DSC_9072Until this summer I thought the time of DSC_9025gracious and beautiful and FUN summer parties were the stuff memories of the past were made of.  Not so! Brandywine in White was so sublimely civilized, we can’t wait for next year!

As opposed to Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia this is a more bucolic and intimate setting of DSC_9359about 200 people as opposed to the 4500 in Philadelphia.

Brandywine in White reminds me of summer picnic dinners in England and Europe. It was just so lovely.

DSC_9510A bunch of us purchased a table and a service table for our food and libations. As opposed to Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia, at Brandywine in White you rent your table and chairs and you can also rent DSC_9184service tables. The tables come with white chairs and the tables have plain white tablecloths.  The guests bring additional white everything and food and wine. In the true en blanc tradition, guests wear all white, but at Brandwine in White you saw more ladylike and beautiful summer hats versus citified high fashion fascinators. I have to be honest I preferred the summer hats.

DSC_9362

DSC_9374Guests traveled down an dirt road/driveway off the main road and as the trees parted to our right were beautiful fields and tables and people all in white.  We were greeted at the entrance and checked in, and were pointed in the direction of a second event hostess who provided us with our table location.

The tables were set up like a giant rectangle, but there was space in between each table for people to be able to move with ease.  Down the center were white poles supporting clear white lights all over the party area.DSC_9298

We set up next to a wonderful group of people and ended up trading some of our cheeses DSC_9258from iGourmet.com for some of their goodies including mushroom pinwheels. We served some luscious white wines and delightful French Rosé Wines with our picnic supper.

DSC_9164We knew know on other than our table and we soon met many people we enjoyed so much.  Brandywine in White guests floated from table to table visiting, snapping photos, and checking out the other white themed tablescapes.  We were “vintage en blanc“.

 

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There was croquet and there was also dancing – and the disc jockey was the best one I had heard in years. no electric slide and overt personal commentary. He just played great music and lots of it!DSC_9387

We are already planning ahead to next year!

Brandywine in White was amazing and they gave donations after expenses to the Sunday Breakfast Mission in Wilmington which really needs a hand up right now.DSC_9465

full tilt crazy

 

You see that lovely young woman?  Her name was Alison Parker and this morning she and her cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed near Roanoke, Virginia in a place called Moneta. She was 24 and was a graduate of James Madison University and he was 27 and a graduate of Virginia Tech. They were with Virgina CBS affiliate WDBJ7. They were killed in the middle of a live shot interview it looks like.

This story is so horrific and I like many others didn’t know either Ms. Parker or Mr. Ward. For me personally it hits home because I have friends who are reporters and cameramen as well as newspaper reporters and newspaper photographers . I thought of them all immediately as this news broke. You think of them covering the news, not becoming the news and victims of violence.

And even more horrible? It has been disclosed that the shooter was a former reporter, one of their own,  who for a while put what he did on video on Twitter! They are reporting he is being chased through Virginia and other media reports say he may have committed suicide.

Two WDBJ7 employees killed in attack at Bridgewater Plaza. Reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward were attacked during a live broadcast

Web Staff, WDBJ7, news@wdbj7.com
POSTED: 07:27 AM EDT Aug 26, 2015 UPDATED: 10:56 AM EDT Aug 26, 2015 
Virginia TV reporter, photographer killed in shooting during live interview

By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN

Updated 11:05 AM ET, Wed August 26, 2015
Sources: WDBJ shooting suspect is former reporter Bryce Williams

  Posted: Aug 26, 2015 8:20 AM EDT

Updated: Aug 26, 2015 11:34 AM EDT

By NBC12 NewsroomCONNECT

This county is on full tilt crazy again. You can click on the links above to read about this horrific event. But before everyone goes into another endless gun control debate, remember what just happened here yesterday at the Chester County Courthouse, which made national news.

Yesterday a guy named Curtis Smith of Coatesville went crazy with a knife inside our county courthouse, hurting people. He was shot and killed by Sheriff’s department personnel. As e dust began to settle we learned this guy had been arrested in Washington DC for scaling a wall of the White House.

Washington Post National Official: Deputy’s attacker arrested at White House in March

  
A Chester County sheriff’s deputy with a hand injury is taken from the lobby of the Chester County Courthouse following a shooting Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, in West Chester, Pa. The Daily Local News of West Chester reports that the shooting involved a member of the Chester County sheriff’s office and a man who apparently tried to enter the courthouse. (Pete Bannan/Daily Local News via AP) (Associated Press)

By Associated Press August 25 at 5:58 PM

Daily Local News Chester County Justice Center suspect dead

By Michael P. Rellahan, mrellahan@21st-centurymedia.com,, @ChescoCourtNews on Twitter

POSTED: 08/25/15, 12:31 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO

Questions linger in courthouse shooting

Justine McDaniel and Michaelle Bond, Inquirer Staff Writers

Last updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 1:06 AM

But seriously, this country is such a country of unpleasant extremes these days. When did we become a nation of violence?

Sad day again for this country. We need to dial back the violence.

nec·es·sar·y re-blog: “stoga grad sounds alarm on dog treats that choked and killed her puppy”

Stoga grad sounds alarm on dog treats that choked and killed her puppy.

I used to buy these treats. No more if the company can’t consider a shape change.

Photo from original savvymainline post. Please read entire post.

another reason why I love chester county

 

See that? Fresh pears and apples soon to become fruit butter! (the chicken bag was made for me by my friend Sara – it was perfect to load fruit into when I was up on a ladder picking!)

One of my awesome neighbors invited me to share the bounty of their fruit trees!

How cool is that?

pickled and put up

 

So I channeled my inner Pennsylvania German grandmother and pickled some stuff today.

I had a really fresh baby seedless watermelon in my CSA box, and I remembered how my grandmother used to pickle watermelon rind in the summer.

So I cleaned the rind (you remove the tough outer green shell and scrape out as much as the pink as possible left over from chunking up a watermelon) and cut it up into pieces of about an inch to 2 inches along with slicing up my remaining half bag of jalapeño peppers which also came from the CSA box. I brined both in salt water in the refrigerator overnight, bringing out today and draining and rinsing with clear water.

I brought to a boil a little over 3 cups (give or take) of a 1 to 3 part ratio of cider vinegar and white vinegar and sugar and spices. I had some white vinegar I wanted to use up, or I would’ve used all cider vinegar.  This is a sweet pickle so I had easily a cup and a half of sugar, mustard seed, pickling spice, dill, cinnamon sticks in the spice and sugar category. 

I cooked this mixture just shy of five minutes and then added first the watermelon rind, then about five minutes later I added the jalapeños and 4 sliced up medium carrots – slices of carrot no more than a half inch thick. 

Finally I added  slices of  1 large red onion. I cooked this until the watermelon rind reached a translucent stage, then removed everything from heat and ladled into preserving jars.

I did not put these in a hot water bath as I am going to store them in the refrigerator. They should last a few months that way.  It’s sort of an icebox pickle.

They will need to cure a couple weeks before trying them.

the highs and lows of community involvement

butterfly

I used to be a community activist. Really. It’s not so grand sounding, I think people just get to a point in their lives when they see change needs to occur and they seem to either choose activism or politics.  While I am fascinated by politics, I would never want to be an elected official, so I chose activism.

It all started innocently enough.

Prior to 9/11 I did mostly traditional volunteer work.  But there comes a time in your life when you can’t sit at the dinner table and murmur “that’s too bad.”

I come by my love of old houses and community by way of genetics. My late father was involved in every community we lived in starting with the early days of the Society Hill section of Philadelphia.

My personal entré into all of this started with my old neighborhood when the first of many developers sought to create infill development where I then lived. This developer was renovating an old factory/warehouse building which no one objected to.  But the ingress/egress onto our street where it was literally 12 feet wide we did object to.

Then, on the heels of that at the time my alma mater The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr wanted to tear down historic Beechwood House in Bryn Mawr  for a parking lot. I became part of a group headed by a fellow alumnae named Heather Hillman which raised the funds necessary to completely restore the house and give it a practical adaptive reuse in today’s world. The 9100 square foot home was an architectural gem designed by prominent late 19th century architect Addison Hutton. We did so well, the architects even won awards on the renovation. (A synopsis of what occurred can be found here.)

Then came the fateful night when I went to my friends’ restaurant in Ardmore and found the wife in tears.  “They want to take our building” she said.

That was my introduction to eminent domain and how I came to be part of a 501(c)(4) civic action organization called the Save Ardmore Coalition. The group was comprised of many people from different walks of life as well as different political parties. We came together because we felt positive change was needed. Instead local politicians (of course) labeled us as being obstructionist.

Eminent Domain in Ardmore, Lower Merion Township was a long and horrible process.  We went to Washington DC and stood beside people from all over the country including Long Branch, NJ, Camden NJ (Cramer Hill), Philadelphia and got to know  a lady from New London CT named Susette Kelo who became the symbol of the anti-eminent domain movement all across this country. (See Kelo vs. City of New London).

In Ardmore we were lucky and we were able to defeat eminent domain for private gain and at the time unseat half of the board of commissioners in Lower Merion (there are the ridiculous number of 14) . I was part of a group of wonderful people who learned that once in a while ordinary people could be right and it was worth fighting for what you believed in.

But all of this came at a personal cost.  We were labeled and tarred and feathered by developers and politicians and their cheerleaders and even paid publicists in Lower Merion Township. I was personally  subject to craziness like a letter to the editor by two then business owners like it was all my fault and I was wrong to have an opinion.  It was a crazy and angry time which lasted years and is still in fact going on. And people were and are nasty.

And nasty for what? Caring about where we lived? It was crazy, and I watch it still happen today and still think it is crazy. As residents I still believe that we need to be a much larger part of how our local governments decide things.

Essentially, I think a lot of communities need to taken back by residents before we are over-taxed, over-governed, and developed away. We  need better historic preservation on local and state levels. It has to mean something or people won’t do it.  We need the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code updated as well.

We need many things.  But people need to be involved more where they live.  It doesn’t matter if you are the loudest voice or the most quiet voice, just be a voice.

What started me on this post today? One word: Ardmore.

Once again Ardmore is embroiled in controversy over development. Carl Dranoff’s hideous behemoth of a project to be precise. Ardmore needed a train station and what it has suffered through now for way too many years is the emperor’s new clothes of ill advised development projects and plans. And developer driven zoning overlays.  And lots and lots of question over the use of public funds. In a nutshell, Lower Merion Township continues to be a shining example of what not to do (and the need for term limits in local government.)

So the new litigation was filed after the developer settled with business owners over other issues with “One Ardmore Place”. This litigation centers around the use of state funds known as RACP funds ( Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program ).

The new litigation has been filed by the successor citizens involved with the Save Ardmore Coalition.

August 17, 2015 Civic group files suit over Ardmore redevelopment: Save Ardmore Coalition claims project is missappropriation of public funds

By Sharon Lurye
PhillyVoice Staff

A civic group has filed a lawsuit against the governor of Pennsylvania, the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority and Lower Merion Township over a redevelopment project in Ardmore, saying that it is a “misappropriation of millions of dollars of public funds” for private use.

The Save Ardmore Coalition announced last week that it was filing suit in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. The issue at hand: $10.5 million in state grant funds set aside for One Ardmore Place, a proposed mixed-use development with apartments, retail and public parking.

Currently, the site is a parking lot. The civic group argues that the grant funds were supposed to be used for the Ardmore Train Station.

“We testified many times before the Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners and we were mocked. We brought petitions signed by residents only to see them disregarded,” said SAC President Philip Browndeis

I am no longer part of Save Ardmore Coaltion or in the executive branch of the group.  I resigned in the spring of 2011 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And then when that was all over with I moved. To Chester County.

So to say I had no idea this was going to happen next is an understatement.  When this news broke my phone and email started going crazy. “Why is this happening?” “What is going on?” “Why are you doing this?”

ME????

News flash: Alice doesn’t live in Ardmore any more. There is a new crew of people with some original folks doing this.  Contact Save Ardmore Coalition President Philip Browndeis at 267.250.2121 or email him at comments@saveardmorecoalition.org if you have questions.)

Of course, human nature being what it is, within days of the litigation being filed, a few anonymous cowards also and predictably rolled up on the Main Line Media News website to  drag me into this. The paper has since removed the comments and will continue to do so because I have nothing to do with this. I am sitting on the sidelines watching like everyone else and darn grateful not to be ensnared by this nonsense as I realized it is the same old rhetoric and whatnot rearing up again.

My personal opinion is I understand why new Save Ardmore Coalition has done this, but what I don’t understand is the timing of it. Why wasn’t this done a few years ago? And of course there is the other thing: residents can do whatever they think necessary to preserve their community but will they ever truly achieve their goals if they do not change the faces of who govern them? As in when are they going to vote the bums out?

I was in Ardmore a few weeks ago for a funeral viewing. I had not been in easily over a year.  The town looks run down and shabby and the public trash cans in front of the township were overflowing with trash.  It all looked welldepressed. And that is the effect of all the grand plans of developers, politics, and local government: inertia.

one ardmore placeSomething needs to happen in Ardmore.  I still don’t think it is “One Ardmore Place” because it is way out of touch with the reality of a small main street oriented town. It lacks human scale and design and if it gets built  it’s 8 stories in small building main street downtown Ardmore will make Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough look good.

People like to say I am anti-development. I am actually anti bad plans.  And every plan no matter where it is located looks the same these days. Homogenous and out of place and scale. The plans are presented where they look like they are situated in the Elysian Fields.

What is going on in Ardmore is going on all over Pennsylvania. Who knows when the madness will stop. Which is why I would rather cook, garden, treasure hunt and photograph butterflies. But I still believe people should be more active where they live.

Thanks for stopping by.