if walls could talk…

If walls could talk, the tales they would tell, right? So I was down in my basement today putting some summer garden things away for the year and in the little wood shop room on one wall I noticed this. I had not seen it before. In this house on the basement and attic walls there are little things written here and there. All from the original owner.

I have no idea……all I know is I don’t have mice….could be a reason….maybe this was evidence of rodent wars once upon a time…..not sure if the mice were winning at the time….or losing….

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observing “grown-ups”

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Human nature is a funny thing. People can be funny. But sometimes it’s not so much funny as simply astounding.

Having a high schooler means a whole new world. Kids are growing up, and we should be letting them solve some of their own issues. But instead, what I am seeing can only be described as well…extreme helicopter parenting.

Helicopter parents are the extra super involved parents who are too involved, and that is putting it mildly and kindly. Basically their kids don’t make a move without their involvement and that includes running interference. On everything.

Parenting Magazine has an interesting article online about this phenomenon:

What Is Helicopter Parenting? Confused about how to be an involved parent without smothering your kids? Here’s how to tell if you’re a helicopter parent, along with expert advice to curb the hovering. By Kate Bayless


The term “helicopter parent” was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969 book Parents & Teenagers by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a dictionary entry in 2011. Similar terms include “lawnmower parenting,” “cosseting parent,” or “bulldoze parenting.” Helicopter parenting refers to “a style of parents who are over focused on their children,” says Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D…..Ann Dunnewold, Ph. D., a licensed psychologist and author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, calls it “overparenting.” “It means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way that is in excess of responsible parenting,” Dr. Dunnewold explains.

Although the term is most often applied to parents of high school or college-aged students who do tasks the child is capable of doing alone (for instance, calling a professor about poor grades, arranging a class schedule, manage exercising habits), helicopter parenting can apply at any age. “In toddlerhood, a helicopter parent might constantly shadow the child, always playing with and directing his behavior, allowing him zero alone time,” Dr. Dunnewold says. In elementary school, helicopter parenting can be revealed through a parent ensuring a child has a certain teacher or coach, selecting the child’s friends and activities, or providing disproportionate assistance for homework and school projects.

Even The Washington Post had an interesting article on this topic recently:

Washington Post: On Parenting How helicopter parents are ruining college students By Amy Joyce September 2


Attention, parents of college students.

Say your kid has a problem with a roommate. Maybe one “borrowed” his favorite t-shirt. Maybe your daughter’s roommate leaves old, stinky Chinese take out in the mini-fridge. Perhaps your child is so upset about this he texts you five times a day to complain.

Here’s the thing: Don’t call the college president to ask him to handle the situation. (Yes, that happens.)

So you figure all the normal helicopter parenting is having to do with academics and sports, right? Well, what about meddling essentially in the interpersonal relationships of teenagers?

Ok I get wanting to know who your kid is hanging out with. Especially when kids start dating and then driving. But where do you draw the line? I ask because I am seeing crazy stuff. As in parents getting involved when teenage romances go south.

Sounds crazy, but is totally true.

Those first couple years of high school teenagers are in love every other day. Hook ups and break ups are part of being a teenager, like a right of passage. With the break ups comes guaranteed drama, especially from girls. And every mood is mercurial and changes with the weather and somehow we all survived, right?

But are we supposed to let what amounts to teen angst rule the purported grown ups today? I ask because I have been observing these parents of this teen girl run roughshod over parents where their kid is friends with their kids over a break up. I know tough to follow but it’s like this: girl and boy break up. Girl is not happy so everyone needs to see it her way and the parents are involved in this too. And these are young kids, as in they are like 8th or 9th graders! (And don’t get me started on I do not understand dating at this age which to me is so young anyway, and wow, really?)

Seriously, these parents are telling other parents not to let their kids be friends with another kid no longer dating their kid. And if the parents don’t comply, they are thrown off these other parents’ fantasy island. Yes, If Alice is looking through the looking glass on this one, she really might go down the rabbit hole to get away from this scene. I have coined this “mama drama” and well, I am embarrassed for them because what does bullying other parents do? Other than teach their children that bullying behavior like this is acceptable?

And while the parents are helicoptering in teen romance, the kids aren’t behaving any better. The drama feeds the drama feeds the drama. I would say I am astounded by this behavior from adults, except, well I have as a blogger, cyber bullies to deal with. If I can’t explain why a middle-aged woman pushing 60 living in a rural southern town sits on her smart phone in her double wide cyber bullying and cyber stalking me on basically a daily basis, how can I explain what these parents are doing? The answer is I can’t .

All I do know is we are supposed to support our kids and lead by good, not negative example. And how can we ask the kids to do better and be better if the parents can’t even do that ?

In the midst of all this I am seeing another form of helicopter parent that puzzles me even more. These are the helicopter parents that also want to hang out with their kids like they are peers and not parents. How is that supposed to work? When the kids go to college will these parents be working the tap at the frat house kegger?

Again, a lot of what I do is sit back and observe. Sometimes I think it is me just not getting something because I haven’t been a parent for all that long. But then I talk to parents I know and they tell me their stories and I shake my head even more. I guess I just don’t understand. We want to control things to an extent to protect our kids, but shouldn’t we have a line in the sand somewhere? After all, how does anyone start to grow up if the parents are hovering quite literally over everything?

Thanks for stopping by.

an essay worth reading

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Someone had the essay below from Vogue posted on their Facebook timeline. In addition to the fact that it is a beautifully written piece that literally makes you feel you are with the writer in his journey from city dweller to his now Woodstock, NY home, I get the whole move-to-the-country thing and how it fits me personally. Mind you I am not as deep in the country as the author, but I can’t help but feel a sort of parallel after a fashion. Similarly age, and life changes including where I live now versus where I used to.

Having moved a few short years ago from the Main Line to Chester County,I get it the whole change of venue and lifestyle. When I initially told people I was moving a lot were like “Why? You guys could live on the Main Line.”

They didn’t get that I didn’t want to and much like the feelings of the author watching where he lived in NYC change, I was ready and wanted to live a more country existence . Change is inevitable, but as the area I once called home had changed, truthfully so had I.

What I had grown up in and amongst no longer existed on the Main Line. Everything was going from being a beautiful place to a place that no longer fit me. Glorious gardens and beautiful houses were being replaced one by one with Tvyec monogrammed infill development and the Main Line was evolving from being suburban to becoming what I continue to see happening: a crammed, noisy, traffic filled urban existence with a homogenous feel that is less than special.

And the people were changing in addition to the landscape. A lot of the the people on the Main Line had gone from being the gracious, civilized, and genteel people I grew up with, to being a whole lot of overly ambitious crass and not so pleasant social climbers whose favorite game was constant one upsmanship. And dermatological fillers. I also didn’t care about designer, car, and more general people name dropping. My friends still there are not those people, but if they are honest they are now the exceptions rather than the rule.

Living out here in Chester County completes the adult me. I am happy. And many of my Main Line friends still treat me like I live in Iowa. Some of them have never been out to see where I live although invited. The constant chorus of “It’s so far” …..yet amazingly enough I can always go back there. The funny thing is when I do go back, I now look at where I used to live through the eyes of a stranger…..and can’t wait to get back to my little slice of heaven in Chester County.

I look at where I used to be and where I am now and well, I can just breathe and be myself. There is something very luxurious about that, and living on the Main Line can’t buy that feeling as far as I am concerned. And as I have said before, many of the people I enjoyed in various stages of my younger self now live out here as well.

I am posting the article below. I love, not like living more in the country. Give this essay a read. Thanks for stopping by on a rainy morning!

Vogue Magazine: A Die-Hard New Yorker Leaves Manhattan and Embraces the Country Life OCTOBER 6, 2014 6:00 AM by JONATHAN VAN METER


At the risk of sounding appallingly pretentious, it was Cate Blanchett who made me realize it was time to leave New York City. It was a year ago, last October, and we had just finished a leisurely interview over a late dinner in a London restaurant when we found ourselves standing on a rainy street corner, not quite ready to say good night. She asked what I was doing the next day, and I said I had no plans because I have no friends who live in central London anymore. Like my friends in Manhattan, most of them have moved somewhere less ruinous. Blanchett, who’d left London herself a few years earlier, looked a little wistful and said, “It’s a different place.” Having recently turned 50, I muttered something about being older—maybe that’s what had changed. “No,” she said firmly. “The world’s changed. It’s very difficult to know where to be.”…..That was the moment, right there, the speech delivered toward the end of the story by the passing character in the protagonist’s life that turns on the light and shifts everything. As I said goodbye and walked away, my heart pounding, I was filled with a rush of certainty about something I had been puzzling over for years: Where should I be? I hopped in a cab and called my boyfriend, Andy, back in New York: Quit your job, and let’s move upstate.

fall garden gifts and old friends

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Yes a bowl full of quince.

The quince arrived in a beautiful basket on the arm of a friend from high school. She and her husband recently moved out here to Chester County a few minutes away from us. Her house came with a crazy cool old garden which includes quince trees.

This is a woman who I have enjoyed knowing since I was a teenager. Today it was so nice to see her. She is as an adult as lovely as she was when we were growing up. It’s so nice to see that consistency in people.

The quince will become quince apple butter.

I look forward to seeing more of my friend now that she is in the “neighborhood”.

Life truly has so many amazing yet simple moments.

Thanks for stopping by.

contrasts

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Yesterday was a study in contrasts. Started out my morning in Chester County, and headed up to New York City for the day.

New York City in October is very alive and bustling. A cacophony of sights and sounds and smells. I worked in New York for a few years when I was younger and fall and spring were my favorite seasons. It is such a contrast now to go from the quiet of Chester County to the very definition of urban.

From the east side to the west side, New York City is a sea of constant motion…and taxi cabs. It’s beeping and honking and massive waves of people bustling across giant intersections.

It is one of my favorite places to take photos, but yesterday there wasn’t time for that. I appreciate the beauty and the urban canyons of Manhattan, but I truly am a Chester County person now….I love getting back to the trees and fields.

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From New York City it was back to Ardmore for the last First Friday Main Line. The event was the Happy Howl O’Ween dress up your dog contest.

Since 2006 First Friday Main Line has been there to bring art and music to every day life ; bringing local artists, musicians, and small businesses together. Inspired by the Old City (Philadelphia) First Friday, First Friday Main Line has had people discovering art in unexpected places.

Because Ardmore doesn’t really have gallery spaces, the art and music were tucked in alleys, store fronts, restaurants and on the street. All of this was done by Executive Director and Ardmore business owner and resident, Sherry Tillman. These were never Lower Merion Township as in municipal sponsored events. Many municipalities are deeply involved in the First Friday celebrations of their communities, but the extent of Lower Merion’s involvement was basically collecting permit fees.

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First Friday Main Line was something I was deeply involved in until the spring of 2013. I did the publicity and event photography and it was an amazing ride, including a Congressional Commendation in 2010 for our Operation Angel Wings initiative.

But change is inevitable. Sherry called me a couple of months ago to let me know she was putting First Friday on hiatus. I had stopped actively participating because of my move to Chester County and new life here. I was sad to hear her news, but understood. She wanted to focus on different kinds of art events and get back to creating on her own. Sherry is an artist in her own right.

Coming back to the last First Friday Main Line was a bittersweet, yet sentimental journey. I had spent so much time in Ardmore between First Friday Main Line and the community activism I was part of a few years ago. (Lower Merion Township had once to seize part of the historic business district via eminent domain for private gain.)

Coming back to the area I once called home is now like being a stranger in a strange land. What once was home, is now just a place I used to live. The contrast was very pronounced to me this visit. I loved seeing all the old and in many cases beloved familiar faces, but I see everything now through different eyes in a thanks for the memories kind of way. I no longer belong to these old places, I belong to Chester County.

Part of the contrast which was sad to see is just well, how grungy and almost worn around the edges Lower Merion Township seems to look. And that isn’t just the business districts. When I was a kid Lower Merion really was a beautiful place to live. Now it is just an expensive place to live, which is not the same thing.

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What I observed was a lot of the sense of community and neighborliness no longer seems to be self evident. A lot of strangers bustling by, and I wonder are there still people stepping up to foster a true sense of community? Or maybe it’s no longer that kind of place?

I have to be honest I do not miss the congestion and traffic of the Main Line nor do I miss the constant development. I felt really old passing by locations where I remember the house and the people who lived there, only now planted on those spots were condos and McMansions and such. All of what replaced what was in these spots are built out to the last possible inch with no real attempt at human scale let alone compatible style. In fact, no real style at all, these projects between Wayne and Ardmore scream nothing more than “new”. Sad.

Down the street from where my parents used to live, I read recently about a house which has a property which is now the subject of potential development. I knew it as the Woodruff House.. The super family which once lived there is long gone and sadly mostly passed away. Realistically, the development will probably happen. There is no zoning and planning to prevent it even if it is a ridiculous and vastly inappropriate spot for infill development.

But it has been almost 40 years at this point since Lower Merion Township had a comprehensive plan update, and the lack of planning is showing. What worries me about what is happening on the Main Line is the same developers snapping up whatever they can there are also in Chester County.

Take Downingtown, as in the borough. If they don’t watch it, they will make the same mistake that Malvern Borough did with Eli Kahn and Eastside Flats, which should really be seen from the rear too. An article appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer recently:

Archdiocese sells Delco property, 2 others for $56.2M By Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: October 04, 2014

…..In addition ……..the archdiocese said that it had an agreement to sell a 454-acre property in Northampton County for $5.5 million, and that it had sold 55 acres in Chester County for $3.7 million.

The $3.7 million from the sale of excess land at the St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, a behavioral-health center for clergy and women religious, was deposited into the archdiocesan priests’ pension fund. That fund previously had a $76.3 million deficit.

The buyer was Woodbine Partners L.P., a partnership of Chester County developers E. Kahn Development and J. Lowe & Associates.

Stephen Sullins, Downingtown’s borough manager, said the expected mixed-use development was significant for the town, which covers just two square miles.

“It looks like it is going to expand our tax base somewhat. We’re looking forward to some new jobs,” Sullins said.

Yep, Eli Kahn.again….Eastside Flats which still look vastly out of place in Malvern and unfinished although they are finished and the project is for sale (See Philadelphia Business Journal, July 2, 2014) .

And remember that very telling Patch article a couple years ago that told a very different tale of how much money Malvern Borough would actually make off of this project?

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$60,000: East King Revitalization’s Impact on the Borough The new apartments and businesses won’t be a windfall for the borough. By Pete Kennedy (Open Post) Updated June 29, 2012 at 1:38 am

During a discussion…at….Malvern Borough Council, resident Joan Yeager asked a related question:

“Once the King Street project is completed, how much additional money is going to come into the borough? In taxes and all,” she said.

“Something in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year,” council president Woody Van Sciver said, citing a financial feasibility study done before the project was approved.

“That’s it?” Yeager replied, expecting a bigger payoff from the several new businesses and hundreds of new residents that will be moving to the east end of the borough.

Downingtown can afford a development misstep even less than Malvern Borough. And I love Malvern, but if there is some benefit to having that Christ awful development once you get beyond having Christopher’s there and Kimberton Whole Foods moving in, I haven’t seen it. And the development looks like giant Lego buildings (with about as much finesse) plunked down in Lilliput.

There are a lot of empty store fronts in Eastside Flats and the borough itself, and last time I was there to have lunch at Christopher’s there were cigarette butts all over the sidewalk in front of the nail salon. Of course I also wondered why such “high end” and new real estate could only get a nail salon? And have you ever see Eastside Flats from the rear? It shows it’s backside to a lot of Malvern residents over the tracks and wow, a little landscaping might help. But do developers like this care about the existing residents?

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My travels yesterday merely reaffirmed the true contrast between urban, suburban, and Chester County. And suburban doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be the mini-me to urban, and well for us out here in Chester County, we shouldn’t want developers to spin their tales of the Emperor’s New Clothes out here and give us the awkward new urbanism fairy tale or hybrid cross of what they are shoe horning in everywhere else. Maybe that is NIMBY (not in my back yard) of me, but heck I have lived with bad projects and bad planning in my back yard–it’s one of the things I was happy to leave behind on the Main Line when I moved to Chester County.

I still believe Chester County is incredibly vulnerable to these projects, and these tiny towns and boroughs need to think carefully before jumping to the extremes of these very dense developments. Places grow and evolve and not all development is bad, but there is just way too much of it. The pace needs to slow.

The open space and gracious rolling farm lands,fields, and forests which make up Chester County are worth preserving. So is the way of life which accompanies it. Thanks for stopping by today. I know this post has rambled along, and when I started out with my original thought of contrast I wasn’t quite sure where this post would lead me.

Enjoy the beautiful day!

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life and scarab bracelets

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I have now had a few falls living in Chester County. I woke up today realizing that I didn’t feel like a stranger in a strange land any longer. It was a great feeling.

I love living out here. I love discovering cool things and bits of history. I love that almost every day there is something beautiful to take a photo of or something new to experience. Next on my living in Chester County bucket list is to go to a mud sale next spring. They don’t just occur in Lancaster County, there are several in Chester County as well.

The PaDutchCountry.com website describes mud sales this way:

Mud sales, named for the condition of the thawing early spring ground, are major fundraisers for the volunteer fire companies throughout Amish communities. They are huge events, sometimes drawing as many as 20,000 people, where everything from hand-stitched quilts (donated by the Amish women’s groups) and locally-made crafts to livestock, furniture, produce, baked goods, antiques, housewares, even the kitchen sink are all up for bid. In a sight that may seem like organized chaos to the novice mud sale visitors, six or seven auctions are conducted simultaneously as the Amish and English mill together over the many items bound for the auction block.

A woman in my gardening group went to one recently (they start in early spring and run through fall she tells me). She got amazing deals on shrubs and perennials and told me the quilts and other things being auctioned off were amazing. And yes she had me at patchwork quilts and plants! Apparently there is one coming up in Cochranville:

October 25 – Cochranville Fire Company Mud Sale
Cochranville Volunteer Fire Company
3135 Limestone Road, Cochranville
610-593-5800
http://www.cochranvillefire.com

Onto other things. The other evening I went to a ladies’ get together hosted by a dear friend from college. She was one of those people I didn’t see during the ex-factor years and reconnected with after he was gone.

During that particular stage of my life there were a lot of people I didn’t see because they didn’t want to be around him but didn’t want to tell me that, either. There were also people I sort of steered away from because I was afraid of how he would react to them. It wasn’t always like that with him, but that is what he seem to become. Or maybe that was true self showing through and I was afraid to acknowledge that at the time?

I am only sorry I put my friends and family through all that at the time. I’m especially sorry to my late father and brother-in-law. They only wanted me to be happy, didn’t see my happy as being him, but I never knew that until they were both gone from this earth. On some level I believe that both of them can see me in my life now and are happy with my choices, but I really wish both of them were around to be with us still. But death, like life is part of our life cycle and life experiences, right?

It’s funny, the ex factor is finally fading like the bad memory he should be, yet for some reason people like him seem to keep tabs on my life and isn’t that bizarre? After all, he left me in a blizzard, isn’t that the truth? Why would he want any kind of connection? Because I was supposed to be miserable but life led me in a new direction leaving me happy and content and where I am supposed to be and who I am supposed to be with? Because I survived breast cancer? Morbid curiosity? And is it true, does he have full knowledge of certain cyber bullies? Really?

I have asked myself plenty of times why would someone care about my life basically literally years after they ended a relationship by their own personal choice? Is it because they have been part of my writing as having been part of my life experience? Many writers write about their lives. For example, a woman I know wrote about her divorce with brutal unvarnished honesty earlier this summer. Does that make her a bad person too? Is her almost ex-husband similarly afflicted?

But you know what? I really and truly do not care at the end of the day. It’s like dealing with cyber bullies who stalk everyday existence trolling for bits of anything to twist and pervert. It is simply a reaffirmation of my life blessings. And wow aren’t I lucky? Yes, yes I am.

People seem to have a fascination in general with people who blog and write. What they are writing about, how they write, why they write. For me writing is like my photography, it is simply part of who I am.

I was speaking recently with a woman I know. She is a friend and follows my blog quite closely. She was quite complimentary overall with how I write and my writing style. She was also honest about my writings which can be placed in the category of activism driven. Some she has liked, some not so much. Did I get all up in arms about that? No, it was a conversation. It wasn’t an attack, it was looking at what I write through a different pair of eyes. I value input like that.

We also talked about scarab bracelets. Decidedly vintage, and not very expensive to pick up and so much fun to wear. They scream 50s and 60s and like myself, she loves them. They are something that is a happy association of my childhood. When I was little my mother and a lot of her friends always wore scarab bracelets and I have loved them since I was a little girl. They are something most consider to be a classic. I see them in thrift shops all the time and while some people love the look of Bakelite and vintage rhinestones, I love the look of scarab bracelets.

Commonality and mutual likes. It is what draws us together. I have met so many cool new people through my Chester County Ramblings Gardening Group and Chester County Ramblings Home Cooking Group. It is so nice to connect with people who like to do some of what I like to do.

Moving to Chester County I am discovering myself again, not just Chester County. What I am discovering are parts of myself that are incredibly positive that I thought I lost through the twists and turns in life. Maybe it’s turning 50 too. At 30 I learned it was o.k. to be who I was, but at 50 I have learned to be myself.

I think that’s pretty cool.

I will close with song lyrics sticking in my head. I am not a huge U2 aficionado (that would be my sister since forever!), but a verse of new lyrics that I keep hearing again and again because of Apple goes like this:


I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred
Heard a song that made some sense out of the world
Everything I ever lost now has been returned
The most beautiful sound I ever heard

Thanks for stopping by today.

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