dick saha, you were an amazing man and a lot of us will miss you.

Mt. Airy Lavendar today.

Today life got a little too real. Someone very special, whom I truly admired, has died. Dick Saha of Wagontown/Coatesville.

I am trying to gather my thoughts cohesively, but if I am honest, right now tears are getting in the way.

I met Dick and Nancy Saha in the early 2000s. It was back in the days of eminent domain for private gain. They were fighting to save their family farm from Coatesville which decided his gorgeous property would make a great golf course. (Read about it here on the Castle Coalition/Institute for Justice.) We were trying to save Ardmore’s historic business district from a similar eminent domain for private gain fate.

Dick Saha May 2005

As a member of the Save Ardmore Coalition (see “success stories” on Castle Coaltion website) , we spent a fair amount of time with the Sahas. We all went to Washington DC together and other places. And the thing about Dick is he supported all of our efforts in Ardmore. He and Nancy came to community events.

Dick and Nancy visiting us in 2006 in Ardmore, PA

Dick Saha lived by the courage of his convictions. He was like a lion defending his farm, but I am telling you that man did it in the most pleasant no-nonsense way. One of my favorite memories of him was when he and his friends went to Radnor Township years ago to make sure the old Coatesville manager who was part of the eminent domain game was hired by Radnor as an interim township manager. The Radnor Commissioners were nervous that these people from Coatesville were there. It was hysterical. And all Dick Saha did was stand at the back of the boardroom. And smile. It was his John Wayne moment for sure.

One thing I also adored about Dick Saha was his devotion to his wife and family. The love was so real and you could see it. Magnificent and steady not gushy. You never saw Dick without Nancy, generally speaking.

Dick and Nancy Saha in Washington when we were all at an Institute for Justice conference. They are speaking with my friend Scott

The years passed and we all went on with our lives. I thought of Dick and Nancy here and there, especially when I moved to Chester County. Then as fate and luck would have it last year I learned about a lavender farm called Mt. Airy Lavender, otherwise known as the Saha farm. I was so excited about it, and went out to an open farm day. ( I wrote about it HERE. ) At that time I wrote:

It was a crazy time. What we all went through was hard. It was a brutal battle.  We went to Washington alongside the Sahas, Susett Kelo (think Little Pink House), people from Long Branch NJ, and many many more.  It was the time of the US Supreme Court case Kelo vs. New London.

Dick and Nancy Saha were inspirational.  They created a hands off my farm movement. (You can read about it here on the Institute for Justice website in more detail.) They had a great deal of local, regional, and national news attention.  We all did. It was kind of crazy.

It cost the Sahas hundreds of thousands of dollars and pure grit and hard work and they saved their farm.

I used to love seeing Dick and Nancy Saha.  They are the nicest people and they would make the drive from the Wagontown area to even visit us in Ardmore when we were hosting events.

But time and life move on and we all got on with our lives after eminent domain.  I moved to Chester County.  And since I moved to Chester County  I have thought about the Sahas once in a while.  I thought about reaching out, but then I thought well the battle was over so maybe it would seem weird.  But I always wondered what happened to the Saha family after.

So this morning an article from Main Line Today popped up in a social media feed. About two sisters named Joanne Voelcker and wait for it….Amy Saha! Dick and Nancy Saha’s daughters and their lavender farm! (Lavender farm? Wait what?? How awesome!!)


I wrote another post about my first Mt. Airy visit and also about an event I attended on the farm that was a wine tasting. One granddaughter, Gretchen Voelcker, is a very talented vintner (Luna Hart wines.). These were the last two times I saw Dick Saha. He had aged, and he looked frail to me. And now heaven has another angel. Dick Saha was 90.

Dick Saha, summer 2019

Dick Saha wasn’t a close friend or a family member, but I am feeling this as if he was. He and Nancy made an impression on me. They are good people (I can’t even really think if Dick in the past tense yet), and I am lucky to know people like this in my life even for a little while. Dick Saha is one of those people who made the world a better place.

Here we are in COVID19 land so how do families mourn their loved ones? This breaks my heart. I am sorry this post is not more eloquent. I am just sad.

Dick, it was an honor to have known you. Fly with the angels. (His funeral home has information here.)

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.

And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in
the hollow of His hand.

Dick and Nancy, summer 2019

sorry carolyn, already voted for don

Today I received yet another glossy mailer from Carolyn Comitta whom I really like as a person. But I have been uncomfortable if I am honest about her running for both state senate and the state house. I think politicians should stick to running one race at a time, and not hedging their bets.

Carolyn, to address you directly, I find your mailers confusing because it sounds like you are saying Tom Wolf endorses you personally? And that’s the biggest issue with this – Carolyn you say Tom Wolf trusts you but this is pipeline land in Chester County and most of us don’t trust Tom Wolf . So there you have it.

Carolyn, the best candidate for Andy Dinniman’s senate seat is Don Vymazal. Don’t mean you any disrespect but I already mailed in my ballot. I chose Don. And you can tell your bosom buddy Kristine Howard I also chose Ginny Kerslake.

I am not telling anyone how to vote, only whom I chose and whom I believe should NOT be in a particular office.

meandering through the covid19 world

Yesterday I went out. I never left the car mind you, but I went out into the world. To pick up my plants from the Philadelphia Unit of the Herb Society of America. I went up to Brooks Coventry Plants.

It was lovely to be out. A beautiful day, a beautiful county. A great day to be alive.

Observations: shopping centers sitting empty is eerie to see. Developments being built that are stopped? Makes me wish they would just disappear and farm and field would return.

Life at a veritable standstill continues to feel unnatural. Or maybe it’s that it’s a pace we don’t understand in our modern world. But not all of the time. Sometimes it’s actually nice. Except that it would be nice to be able to enjoy our slower life pace with our friends and family.

My husband is an awesome guy. He is so calm, and that keeps the rest of us calm. Most of the time.

However, I find myself waking up at odd times of the night. Worrying. I am not consciously worrying but my subconscious works overtime some nights when I am sleeping. Sigh.

How long have we been doing this now? Since March? How do we all get back into the world, wherever in the world it is we live?

I am teaching myself to bake bread. I have been repairing my vintage quilts. I have been gardening. But I will admit my inner domestic diva would love a manicure about now.

Do you find your thoughts jump around sometimes with all this time to ourselves? It’s like ADD by COVID19.

I can tell you I am anxious about upcoming medical appointments that are all turned around and a little sideways because of COVID19. And it’s almost my 9th anniversary post breast cancer…which is why it’s time for all of the testing and meeting with my oncologist. It’s kind of stressful under normal circumstances. Add a sprinkling of COVID19 precautions and new procedures and well…stressful and a little scary.

Well I am still not sure of the rhyme or the reason for this post. It kind of just “is”. We are muddling through but some days it just feels muddling.

Stay well.

Thanks for stopping by.

back to ebenezer…again…

Quote

Ebenezer December 2019

I received an e-mail today from the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

Preservation is about community.

Now is a time for us to come together as we have so many times before, but with a new sense of urgency and inclusion, and in ways that will last beyond the coronavirus crisis. As important visual and cultural clues, the places we preserve hold promise for the future we seek to reclaim, and each site stands as an historical indicator of our complex present. We need old buildings as much as old buildings need us. They prompt us to remember who we are.

The COVID-19 virus has devastated many across the country, but due to disinvestment and systemic policies, African Americans and communities of color have been disproportionately affected. Our nation is again reminded that this disparity mirrors and reflects historical and racial inequities. We are being reminded to face the truth about our past.

As a movement, preservation has also mirrored traditional social values. Yet, if we lean into hope and take time to self-reflect, we can be the change we seek. We can draw lessons from the past to create a prosperous future, while also reflecting on the promise of preservation as an equity-driven movement. In our individual moments of stillness, we should ask ourselves: Can we confront the economic challenges of COVID-19 and ignite a contemporary preservation movement as a force for positive social change? How can we weave a tapestry of places and stories to tell our full, shared history? Can we challenge ourselves to realize equity-driven outcomes that benefit all Americans? Because when we collaborate, we have the capacity to create a national identity that reflects the country’s true diversity.

In the spirit of envisioning a more prosperous and inclusive future, I invite you to join me for a special Virtual Preservation Month event with Ms. Phylicia Rashad, co-chair of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund on Friday, May 22, at 1:30 p.m. ET. (Register in advance for the webinar.) In our conversation, we will discuss the power of preservation, the work of the Action Fund, and the historic African American places that inspire all Americans to build a better world.

Our forebearers responded to earlier preservation threats and injustices with dogged leadership, tenacious thinking, and community organizing. From the foundational work of Ann Pamela Cunningham and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, to the groundbreaking activism of Mary B. Talbert and the National Association of Colored Women, our ancestors ignited our movement by honoring the cultural memories of George Washington and Frederick Douglass. Just like these trailblazing women, we have the fortitude to walk in their footsteps and prove that by cooperative agreement we can measure up. As social critic and author James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund will continue to examine and eliminate inequities through new forms of partnership, interpretation, and funding. Our leadership is about pursuing an idea, something yet to be seen, and a culture of learning to increase our relevancy and impact. We promote preservation as economic and social justice. We partner with humility in service of African Americans whose overlooked stories and contributions provide strength and examples of overcoming impossible-seeming odds. We draw inspiration and resilience from African American historic places.

Historic sites that bring forward a diverse and inclusive national narrative are playing a crucial role in redefining our collective history and, meaningfully, expanding the preservation movement in equitable ways. These cultural assets help us all walk toward a new era of justice. May our nation face its past to create a more just American culture with preservationists on the front lines protecting and preserving our diverse historic places and communities.

Be well and thrive.

 


Brent Leggs
Executive Director
African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

  

I immediately thought of Ebenezer sitting all forgotten and forlorn on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, and it annoyed me. So I sent the guy who wrote this email a note:

You know what irritates me about this email? It is that I have been trying to contact people in preservation for years about the ruins of one of the oldest AME cemeteries in the country, in the history of the country, is in the township in which I live.  Ebenezer on Bacton Hill Rd in East Whiteland Chester County PA.

Every time I contact anyone that has to do with African-American history or the AME church I get crickets. 1832 is the deed date.  The land was donated by a quaker named Malin. It used to sit amongst one of the oldest free black communities in Chester County. Development and everything else is making it all disappear and there are Civil War soldiers black Civil War soldiers buried in the cemetery. You can Google it. My blog will come up with all the coverage that I have done and things I have tried to do to save it over the years.

Richard Allen was not dead yet when this church was planned But not built. He died in 1831. From my research I think originally it was planned so there would be a burial ground for mother Bethel outside the city. And it’s either the AME Church or mother Bethel which holds the deed to this and like many other historic AME church is it rots.

So add this to your list of endangered places.

Read the Inquirer article from a few years ago

Visit the Facebook page devoted to the history and preservation of this site

Much to my surprise, he wrote back.

On Wed, May 20, 2020 at 10:06 AM Brent Leggs <BLeggs@savingplaces.org> wrote:

Good morning,

Thank you for emailing. It’s regrettable that you are irritated by my message of hope. I also regret that you’ve had difficulty securing support for the preservation of this historic AME cemetery. I have copied my colleague Lawana Holland-Moore who you should speak with about this site.

Best wishes to you,

Brent

BRENT LEGGS | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURAL HERITAGE ACTION FUND
P 202.588.6185 

NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION
The Watergate Office Building

2600 Virginia Avenue NW  Suite 1100  Washington, DC 20037

SavingPlaces.org

So this IS hopeful. I sent one last email back:

I get irritated because you know as well as I do, that in preservation, especially in places like PA where it doesn’t seem to matter much, hope can be quite selective.  I fell in love with this cemetery when I discovered the Civil War Soldiers and freed slave(s) who built some houses that STILL stand on nearby 401 (Conestoga Rd). I also have spent years being told my skin was the wrong color to care about this place which is enough to make me cry. Every time we have gotten people to clear out the weeds, the place is happy. I can’t explain it.  You feel welcomed there. I also had a structural engineer look at the ruin a few years ago.  It could be cleaned out (by hand) and capped but the AME church has never seen fit to do much of anything.  I have done some informal tracking and this is the case with a great deal of their sites.  The walls are bowing on the ruin so time is of the essence.  There is also development going up around it so I fear for it.

So dear readers, we are home with more time than we want still on our hands. Can YOU send these folks an email asking them to save the ruins and cemetery of Ebenezer on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, Chester County, PA? After all #ThisPlaceMatters

LHolland-Moore@savingplaces.org (Lawana Holland-Moore)

BLeggs@savingplaces.org (Brent Leggs)

Thanks and have a great day!

#covid-idiots in chester county

Reader submitted photo dated today 5/14/2020

I will preface what I am about to say with I do NOT disagree with the fact that we need to take steps to get things open again. Only I don’t really know what that looks like because there are some businesses that are going to be harder than others to re-open because of the proximity employees have to customers like with restaurants, bars, hair salons and barbershops.

But the photo you see above taken today in West Chester downtown at the old courthouse is not how to do it.

I think these people are freaking idiots, truthfully.

They aren’t wearing masks they aren’t even social distancing. They are just waving “open” flags. These are the kind of people who are going to keep us closed longer because these are the kind of people who are going to catch COVID-19 or coronavirus by their behavior and spread it.

Do these people think they are actually going to sway elected officials with this protest today? They aren’t. But if any of them pop up with the virus we’re going to be closed longer.

It’s an actual global pandemic. It’s not some political tool to control us. I think this is ridiculous.

Sign me irritated by stupidity.

ready for life again

The great masks my friend Ginny Kerslake made for me and my family.

We have been at this since March. I admit it, it’s getting old. Our birthday is in a couple of days and never in a million years did I think my husband and I would be celebrating a stay at home birthday. It’s not like we are party animals, but we always do something like have dinner at Fiorello’s Cafe in West Chester. I miss going to Fiorello’s.

We don’t go out tons and I am a homebody, but I am starting to miss the world around me. I talk to and FaceTime my friends but I miss seeing them. It’s spring and I miss treasure hunting with one friend. I miss having “Fran Days” with another. And I miss the Brunch Bunch. It feels like forever since we were all together.

I miss my parents . I haven’t seen them since before Christmas because everyone was sick and my knee surgery was the day after Christmas, so we all weren’t together. Which was weird.

So here we are in COVID19 land now until June 4th. I think we are extended in part because of all of the people not doing their part. There are so many people bitching. It’s enough to make you want to scream.

Do these people think we all collectively love what is going on? Hell no. But we’re a long time dead.

I will admit I am anxious. About money, security, paying my goddamn overpriced health insurance. I have had nightmares a couple of times a week for two months almost at this point. It happens every damn time I watch the news. The news is overwhelming over-saturation and it’s rather repetitive and gloomy. I stopped looking at Chester County’s statistics website. I no longer want to know how many are sick and how many have died.

June 1st is my 9 year anniversary of my breast cancer surgery and I am terrified of getting my mammogram. Not because of the mammogram, I am afraid to be around sick people. I am afraid to get sick. It’s ridiculous. I am feeling ridiculous.

I keep thinking about two of my neighbors’ kids. Seniors in high school. They should be going to prom and celebrating all their hard work. Instead they are just soldiering on being really great kids.

Dreams. Is anyone else having really screwy dreams since this whole Coronavirus started? I have had dreams about the places I have lived since I was a really little kid. It’s bizarre, strange, and comforting. It is also fascinating what your subconscious remembers after decades that you think you’ve long forgotten.

Assholeism. There seems to be a lot of that going around. There are a lot of people out there that should be ashamed of the way they are behaving. I’m not saying my behavior has been perfect. But this global pandemic has in a sense brought out the worst in a lot of people. And it’s like because we’re in the situation they have the perfect excuse to be their worst possible selves. I’m not buying it.

Also to be commented on is the political B.S. I am watching friends who take public service seriously getting the business put to them way too much.

It’s the political status quo. The do nothings are miserable and threatened and we can’t tolerate that crap as voters any longer. They all look so fab posing for photos on Facebook but they are still duplicitous jerks who are utterly self focused.

School districts. Like everyone else they are freaking out. But are we really going to have to watch them like hawks to make sure they don’t raise the hell out of our taxes? We are living in uncharted and unprecedented times in this global pandemic known as COVID-19 or Coronavirus.

People are out of work, they have reduced hours, reduced salaries. Now is not the time to raise taxes on the residents. Now is the time for school districts to tighten their proverbial belts and cut expenses. And don’t tell me it’s not possible, in every business and school district it is possible if you have to do it. They cannot ask all of the residents, many of whom are on very fixed and limited incomes, to pay more right now. Some are already choosing between things like food vs. medicine.

And oh my gosh if you dare say any of this out loud you are a very bad person who is anti-schools and anti-teachers which is crap. I reject that. It’s not fair.

People are stretched so thin. We all feel some days like a boomeranging rubber band with our literal nerves. How can we not? This is kind of crazy like a made for T.V. suspense movie masquerading as real life.

Today is one of those days I feel the weight of the crazy world we live in. My realistic mind knows the end is in sight, but I worry about what comes next. And we can’t predict the future and shouldn’t borrow trouble, but today is one of those days. The glass is not half empty per se, but I feel cranky and intolerant today.

This is when I need to count my blessings and take a deep breath. This too shall pass. And some day in the future, we will look back and talk about surviving a global pandemic.

We can do this. We can. But in the meantime I will keep on gardening and learning how to bake bread. I also might finish repairing two vintage quilts.

The thing about life is situations always teach us more about who we are as human beings. The good, and the bad. The imperfections which seem ridiculously magnified given what we are all living through right now. But love and caring? That grounds us, that anchors us. And the last part is faith. Faith in a higher power, God, each other that we will get through this.

Tomorrow is another day, Miss Scarlett. Tomorrow is another day.

Be well and stay well.

Thanks for stopping by.

facebook and censorship…. as in is facebook practicing censorship?

Yes (and unbelievably), Facebook is removing my gardening blog posts.

As my readers know I also write a gardening blog called the nightgown gardener. I started that blog because my readers asked me to have a blog just about gardening. I don’t make money off of it, I don’t get special favors because of it, it’s just writing about gardening. Like this blog I pay for it to be ad free.

As my readers know gardening is a passion of mine. So I share my knowledge and my tips and my sources and my resources and photos of my actual garden on this blog.

The times we live in gardening is a happy thing. It brings you closer to the earth, it brings you peace of mind , it lets you express yourself artistically and even grow your own food. and I have been sharing my garden rating since I started doing it both on this blog and my gardening specific blog.

Writing about gardening is not controversial it’s nice. And we need more nice in this world. So why on earth is Facebook censoring me? I don’t have the answer to that question but they are censoring me. For some unknown reason, starting yesterday, they started REMOVING and BANNING anything I had written about GARDENING.

Meanwhile Facebook allows cybercrimes to occur daily like cyber stalking and cyber harassment and fake news and heck even porn to pollute it. They allow racist propaganda and all sorts of other nasty things that you can think of yet they ban happy things like writing about gardening?

It makes NO sense. I am not a monetized blogger I don’t even promote my blog post with Facebook ads. I just share what I’m doing in my garden on my garden blog . And somehow that is a bad thing?

Facebook and their algorithms are all sorts of screwed up. And there is no one you can contact or talk to about this. Well I’m not taking this line down.

Their algorithms are actually in fact practicing censorship, then they need a serious makeover.

Mark Zuckerberg I know you won’t be reading my blog because you don’t care about anything other than all the money you are making, but you should you say you wanna make the world a better place and gardening is one of those things that accomplishes that.

Facebook is wrong here. They had this issue in March.

Yes, in Facebook’s fakakta wisdom, sharing about gardening is bad. Maybe they should fix their algorithms and “weed” out the bugs.

#EpicFail #FacebookHatesGardening #FacebookHatesGardeners

Below are posts Facebook removed. Please give them a read and I’m curious if you all think they go against “community standards“?

this and that

facebook hates gardeners now?

frost report

wandering the garden

welcome to my homeless plant encampment

Of course part of me wonders if Facebook has a problem with WordPress all of a sudden? At the end of the day I don’t really care why it’s happening I only know it shouldn’t be happening. Gardening and cooking are happy things in a world that is filled with COVID-19 nastiness right now.

Here’s hoping Facebook gets their act together.

sourdough day 3: looks like we made it!!!

This is what the dojo looked like when I took it out of the refrigerator where it had “rested“ overnight

So after I had done my morning running around the house I took the sourdough loaf of dough that was resting in the refrigerator out and let it sit. (for those just picking this up now see sourdough day one and sourdough day two)

As the dough warmed up it doubled in size!

So the dough, as my friend Tracey promised, doubled in size as it warmed up on the kitchen counter. As further to her instructions I preheated the oven to 500°.

When the oven was heated properly I quickly did slashes in the top of my loaf with a sharp knife like Tracey had instructed and threw it into the oven quickly and reduced the heat to 450° and baked for 30 minutes.

Just a close-up of the finished loaf I think it is so pretty and I’m so proud of myself for doing this!

Well oh my goodness, I made sourdough bread! And it’s delicious! I couldn’t resist tasting and we will be having it with spaghetti and meatballs for dinner! I know I am not the first person in the world to make homemade bread but it took me a long time to get to this point and I am thrilled that I can do this!

Taa Daa! Sourdough bread!

sourdough day 2

So this morning I got my sourdough starter out of the refrigerator and mixed up my first batch of dough ever. I wrote about day 1 yesterday. So welcome to day 2.

I will remind everyone that this is not my recipe, the recipe and instructions come courtesy of Tracey Deschaine who owns Dixie Picnic a marvelous scratch kitchen in Malvern/Frazer. If you live locally I hope you will patronize her business and she has been one of the bright lights in this whole stay at home of it all during COVID-19 by gifting starter and selling flour to those who wish to try.

I will be honest and say it took me almost a month to get fresh flour. Everyone has been sold out of it and even King Arthur is on a backlog for catalog ordering. But because of the generosity of Tracey some of us have been able to buy it when needed.

I actually have made bread before. Even focaccia. I took a baking class with Patricia Polin the pastry chef at The Master’s Baker. But I didn’t venture into bread making solo until now. Bread is like a fun science experiment!

So I used the food scale just like Patricia and Tracey taught me and measured out:

10 oz. of sourdough starter

8 oz. warm water

1 lb. bread flour

1.5 oz. of canola oil. (Tracey calls for Crisco but never use it so I don’t have it)

1.5 ounces of oil ends up being 9 teaspoons.

So I followed Tracey‘s instructions and first I mixed the water and starter and then I added the rest. I mixed the dough until it came together and was smooth and pliable in the bowl. I then let it rest covered with a linen towel at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Then Tracey‘s recipe asks for 0.5 oz (0.8 TBSP) of salt. That’s roughly 2.4 teaspoons. I mixed the salt into the dough and kneaded until the salt was all incorporated and the dough was once again smooth. You can feel the little granules of salt and when you stop feeling them it’s mixed.

I then took my dough and put it in a clean lightly oiled second mixing bowl and covered it with saran wrap. It will sit there and rise at room temperature for about eight hours until I take the next step.

I also decided to grow my starter again today so I could just bake next week again. The last picture in this post will show you that my bread is already starting to grow in size.

What I will do later is shape the dough and de-gas it, i.e. punch it down to remove large air bubbles. Then it will rest on a cookie sheet covered with the saran wrap I use to cover the ball this morning until tomorrow in the refrigerator. Then I bring it out to start the final process before baking.

So stay tuned and fingers crossed that I can do this right and make Tracey proud!