remembering with love

Today is an anniversary of sorts in our family.

14 years to the day when we lost my father to cancer.

13 years to the day when we lost my cousin Suzy to cancer.

Both people who played a big part in my life.

But it’s a day to remember them with smiles and happy tears. I don’t think we should bury them in memories of sadness.

I have never actually really written about this before. And today it just seemed like time.

My late father was at times a complicated man, but well-loved by us all. He was often described as a Renaissance man by his friends, and there are a lot of things that I get in part from him. He taught me how to garden. He gave me my Christmas disease. He taught me how to go to antique shows to educate my eye and when I was very little he put me on top of his shoulders so I could see all of the Van Gogh paintings on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. as an adult I would do things like go to estate sales with him.

I have lots of memories of my father like little Kodachrome snap shots in my head. The same with my cousin Suzy.

Suzy was my mother’s niece, goddaughter, and my first cousin. To me for most of my life she was also like the big sister I didn’t have because technically in my immediate family I was the big sister. As a little girl, I remember her sleeping over and spending the night on the sofa when we didn’t have a guest room – my parents were restoring an old house in Society Hill and for my younger childhood years a lot of the time it was like living in a construction site.

Suzy got married young, and my parents hosted her wedding. She got married out of our parish church – Old Saint Joseph’s on Willing’s Alley. The reception was at my parents’ house in Society Hill, by that time was put enough together at least on two floors that we were able to have the wedding.

Jimmy Duffy and Sons did the catering. They would in later years, cater my sister’s wedding, and mine as well. From my cousin Suzy’s wedding, I have a few distinct memories, including sitting with my cousin Carol on the steps to the back staircase off the breakfast room eating hors d’oeuvres. I remember we were specifically eating water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, which is why when I got married, they were added to the list of hors d’oeuvres we served.

From Suzy I got my love of junking and flea markets. She also was a Christmas fanatic (she would organize caroling parties every a Christmas season) and liked to go in and out of antique stores.

Suzy and her first husband raised their daughters in Newtown, Bucks County. She lived for her girls. I would spend a lot of weekends with them during those years and we would do things like get up at the crack of dawn and go to Rice’s Market in New Hope when it was really cool. We would spend days exploring small towns like New Hope and Lambertville and Pennington and other places along the river on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania side. I treasure those times and it was so much fun! I remember going into a store with her once on the New Jersey side that was all Russian nesting dolls and Fiestaware.

So much time has passed since they both left us and so much in all of our lives has happened. That’s the thing of life isn’t it? It goes on. And I think while we have to mourn the loss of loved ones, I also think we should celebrate them by trying to live our best lives.

Life is for the living and we shouldn’t squander it.

Anyway, that’s it from me this morning. Remembering with love, my father Peter and cousin Suzy.

Thanks for stopping by.

why are we perpetually punished by politicians over healthcare in this country?

I just completed my open enrollment for next year’s health insurance. My premiums will double each month starting in January, 2020.

Double.

I am literally back to the pre-Affordable Care Act premiums yet the Affordable Care Act is still in place. I don’t live below the poverty line yet I am punished for being solidly middle class and these premiums make you feel like you are dancing on the edge of precipice of living at or below the poverty line, and why? Why does it have to be this way?

I didn’t necessarily wish to embrace the Affordable Care Act at first if I’m completely honest. But it did make it much easier as a self paying insured to get insurance that was a bit more affordable for a couple of years.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, I was self-pay. The reason I was self-pay in corporate America is because my employer at the time was not required by law to offer employees insurance. Before that job I was always covered under employer plans. Now as a self-employed person I continue to be self-pay. I’m fine with that. But whether you are self-pay or through an employer plan health insurance is crazy expensive. And does it have to be?

Now before I became self-pay, the employer plans had already started to slip. We were paying more and getting less. And that has nothing to do with what the employers actually allowed to be covered via the underwriting. It has to do with what the insurance companies gave us out of the generosity of their hearts. Their hands are outstretched for premiums, but what about the quid pro quo? Do we fairly and equitably get what we pay for? And what about the medical providers? Have you ever looked at what they actually receive versus what is paid into the insurance companies?

We have had a healthcare system in this country that has continually broken down by bits and pieces over the decades because there is one consistency that is never addressed: the insurance companies themselves. There have never been any comprehensive reforms of the insurance companies. Yet corporate executives keep their private jets and other perks, right?

I will pay my insurance premiums. I always do. But I will be forced to economize in other areas.  I have no other option for benefits, so I will make do. I am a rule follower not a rule breaker, but I don’t think the rules are fair and equitable with regard to health insurance in this country or in Pennsylvania.

I don’t cheat at life, I pay my fair share. But when it comes to health insurance in this country I feel like I am cheated at times, don’t you?

As a cancer survivor and still active cancer patient I have paid extraordinary amounts of healthcare related expenses for many years at this point. And that is in addition to monthly health insurance premiums. And I’ve paid it all off. It takes time, I have to do payment plans, but I’m not asking for handouts. But year after year when open enrollment rolls around I feel like Sisyphus with the healthcare rock to roll up the damn hill.

I don’t think as Americans we should be punished every open enrollment period for having health insurance. We are told by law we have to have health insurance, I also always had health insurance before it was the law to always have health insurance.

Yet, I look at elected officials on both sides of the aisle fighting about health insurance and everything else in this country. As taxpayers we pay towards their health benefits that they don’t really pay for. But they want to tell me how I’m supposed to spend my money on health insurance just like they want to have control over a woman’s reproductive rights? And I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, that’s bullsh🤬t.

Americans, average everyday Americans, are the perpetual pawns of politics and politicians. Depending on which party is in power, you get something for a few years, then the next administration takes it away and so on and so forth. It’s a vicious cycle without end and there should be an end to it.

We didn’t ask for political parties to battle it out and for politicians to beat their breastbones telling each other how fabulous they are at our expense.

Elected officials aren’t so fabulous because they won’t sit down and figure this out. It is just a perennial game of whomever gets all the toys wins with regular every day Americans as the losers in perpetuity.

I am grateful I am able to get health insurance. But not everybody can. And the prices go up but the services don’t necessarily coincide do they? 

I will note for all you far more conservative than me, I have never ever expected someone else to pay for my health insurance. I just would like it to be priced fairly and consistently.

We need real and lasting healthcare reform. Not more extremes in politics.

Rant over.



scenes of west chester before the leaves came down

DSC_0954

I took these photos back in September the weekend of the Barclay Friends Secret Gardens Tour.

West Chester is a cool place to explore and I love the houses and the gardens and the park spaces.  Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

vintage and handmade ornaments are the best!

Most of the Christmas ornaments I have are varying degrees of vintage. I even have some that belonged to my great grandparents who lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

I told all of you about the wonderful vintage Christmas market at the Smithfield Barn. It’s happening today and tomorrow. I realized I never showed you what I bought!

I was actually pretty restrained for me. I tend to go crazy over the ornaments my friend Kristin finds! This year was no exception as she had some vintage ones that were made in the Ukraine. The Ukrainian ornaments are different from the German ornaments and the glass feels different in your hands. And they are so lovely just like old German ornaments!

I am pretty sappy when it comes to Christmas. It literally makes me so happy to decorate and cook for friends and family. And I have always loved vintage ornaments.

My late father loved silver and gold. And somewhere my mother still has boxes of now vintage silver and gold glass ornaments. But I like color in my tree and decorations. I am however primarily a red and green person.

I also love Santas, elves, and nutcrackers. I love handmade and hand carved Christmas decorations as well! I have a whole bunch of folk art Santas and it makes me grin when every one of them comes out of the storage bin where they live the rest of the year.

I also like ornaments that remind me of the nature that is all around me. I have a lot of mercury glass birds both old and new. It’s hard to get really amazing vintage glass birds because people hang onto them. And the vintage ones I have are from my father. A lot of the glass birds are the ones that I see in my own garden. And I even have a glass fox or two.

Also with the nature theme? Mercury glass pinecones. They are among my favorite Christmas tree ornaments and I found some new ones this year at the Smithfield Barn!

The thing you’ll find about shopping at the Christmas market for the Smithfield Barn is they don’t rake you over the coals in price. Things are priced fairly and definitely a lot of the time below other dealers elsewhere. Way below. Part of what makes the Smithfield Barn so special is the way things are paid forward.

And yes, I will also admit I am a not so closet Hallmark Christmas movie watcher. There’s so much ugliness and unpleasantness in the world, the Christmas and decorating for the holidays it’s just a beautiful and warm respite from all of that.

Thanks for stopping by.



BREAKING: another eminent domain threat in chester county?

I’m gonna leave this right here.

This is yet another potential example of the devastating cost of over development in Chester County. School districts in particular piss me off with this crap because they always act like they know nothing about what’s going on around them.

These people should not be forced to lose their properties, the developer should give up part of their land to build the school there.

People need to go after the school district now please contact all your elected officials local, county, state, federal.

Contact the media. Attend this upcoming meeting and raise hell.

This is another piece of the cost of development at the expense of where we call home.

It’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s not just, it must be protested.

I know nothing more than what I am showing you right here right now.

vintage christmas wonderland

The Smithfield Barn opens it’s big barn doors November 8th – 10th for their Vintage Holiday Market in Downingtown.

Me and my cane got a look see this evening (NOT open to the public.)

I love Christmas and I love vintage Christmas and Kristin has outdone herself with the spectacular ornaments and lovely Christmas things.

There is some new mixed in with the old because for example there is this amazing wood carver who has some things in the barn.

There are also some fabulous vintage Christmas ornaments from the Ukraine. They’re very different and beautiful.

Yes, I literally have a torn meniscus and I had to brace my knee up and bring a cane just so I could take a look because I don’t know when (given the state of my leg) I will be out again. One of my best friends was nice enough to drive me.

This was just what the doctor ordered and it makes me so happy to see a little Christmas in a big old Chester County barn. This is literally a big old barn and this is not a store so you can’t just show up whenever.

Smithfield Barn 425 Little Conestoga Road Downingtown, Pennsylvania 19335.

don’t use grubhub

I decided to give GrubHub one more try. They screwed up again with a super delayed order, and then delivered stone cold food.

See that burger? Do you know how gross cold, congealed melted cheese is? I bit into that burger and know now.

Disgusting, utterly disgusting, and not the restaurant’s fault but GrubHub’s

I have torn the meniscus in my left knee and my poor husband had to rush home from work to take me to Chester County Hospital, only to have to come home again because I did not break a bone so I need an MRI and you can’t get that from the ER (did not know, all I know is I was doubled over in pain, don’t like to go near hospitals but you are told to go if pain is that bad, right?)

So I ordered GrubHub as a treat. Only once again they were horrible.

The order that took about an hour plus longer than it should have. Their customer service was abysmal. I tried calling first but couldn’t get through. Perma-hold. So I try the “chat”.

I explain to “Jesus” the agent the problem…and the fact the driver did not reply to a polite text looking for the order when it became super late.

Do I want like GrubHub dollars or something.

No I kept saying, I want my order and should get an adjustment to my bill.

“We can’t do that.”

So yeah, I said here comes the blog post and Twitter. I also told them that they are SO bad around here that this was the SECOND restaurant this year to suggest DoorDash and Caviar!

That resonated and all of a sudden from online Jesus to his Supervisor Athena we went from $5 back to slightly more like magic.

In the end, a refund on less than half of my total order was what they promised, if they actually refund it. Nothing has been initiated as a refund. They took money out of my bank account initially in maybe 30 seconds.

So I am deleting their app and NEVER using them again. You can’t trust them.

They suck and there is always a problem. I haven’t used them that much, but every order has been a problem.

If you look on social media sites like Twitter, there is no “GrubHub” love…just complaint after complaint after complaint…from all over the country! (note the random examples I posted)

Ditch GrubHub.