sense and sensabilities?

So I wrote a post yesterday on how I feel about some of the politics in this country. Wow, the brew ha ha which has ensued one would have thought I was chicken little and the sky was falling in.

It actually made me ask a question:

So if you don’t like tea partiers and question them and other political extremists, does that make you a bad Republican? Or a bad Democrat for that matter? If we can’t question politics are we truly free?

Well?

Why can’t I question what makes me uncomfortable along with what I do not understand?  Why does that suddenly make me a political undesirable? As a woman am I supposed to walk ten steps behing, be barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen and MUTE?

Let’s review something – I blog for me first and foremost.  I share my opinions because it is what I feel like writing about in that moment.  It is not always going to be  placid and necessarily comfortable for all.  It’s not always going to be a pretty photo, or a fantastic recipe to share. Sometimes it will be topics like politics, from a local stage to a national level. It depends where the inspiration comes from at that moment.

I feel that the basic framework on which this country was founded is exactly why we should question things now.  I feel that in an odd way certain groups in this country are trying to suppress some of the very freedoms and philosophies on which this nation was founded and grew.

That, dear readers, doesn’t make me a bad female Republican. It means I think about things.

I was a volunteer, a media relations volunteer at RNC2000.  Twelve years ago I felt strongly enough about being a part of that to seek out friends in Washington who could help me get a better volunteer position.  Truthfully, I was one of the few volunteering in my capacity that did not come out of politically connected PR and advertising shops.

I approached it all with an open mind and as a result, met some truly remarkable people.  And I lent a Congressman at the time  named Chip Pickering cab fare when he got off a train without his wallet and no one else believed he was who he was.  (And yes he paid me back and my reward were invitations to some pretty awesome A list parties.)  But what I noticed was at that time the Republican party worked really hard to extremists on the fringe so everyone felt honestly welcome within the party.  Not so any longer.  The extremists are being embraced at the expense of ordinary Americans in the middle. That is an act of desperation that I feel quite strongly will bite them in the rear.

Both political parties are guilty of the dumbing down of America and that bothers me. Washington is full of politicians spending our tax dollars to prove each side right and wrong.  These politicians aren’t worried so much about the constituencies they represent, but seem to be constantly running for re-election.  I think that is crap.

Truthfully, I have been reading up on things in Washington, and I think Democrats and their assorted pals are nervous about the upcoming election.  I believe people should start paying attention to who is leaving what and taking what new job.  Because face it, with a new administration a lot of people could find themselves on the outside looking in.

One example I see recently and locally to an extent is the latest headmaster appointed at The Haverford School.  John A. Nagl.  His experience and current responsibilities are truly remarkable.  But a change of course to headmaster of the Haverford School?  To me that might be commentary on the current political climate and fear of things to come. (of course what a lot of people are also asking is why Haverford is choosing yet another ex military to run a non-military school?)

Ok, so back to the topic at hand: questioning politics.

If we can’t question and discuss politics, let alone express our feelings as to what is bothering us, we are no longer truly free.

You can’t just drink the kool-aid in either political party and it would behoove more people to look at who they are voting for a little more closely. It would also behoove more to be of an independent mind.

And if you want to discuss with me what I am thinking about, that is fine, but don’t just tell me I am across the board wrong.  I know I am not.  Maybe I make some of you uncomfortable with my pondering, and I am sorry.  But you have to think.  You can’t just act like a Stepford wife or Moonie and pull the lever for any candidate.  You need to ponder. You have to ponder. You have as a resident of the United States of America an obligation to carefully ponder as far as I am concerned.

Here are a couple of notes I received from people I know with regard to my blog post yesterday:

 I LONG for moderate Republicans to take back their party from the crazies. Leave women’s bodies alone and focus on the types of spending reform for which the party is supposed to stand.

What makes me crazy is how many have signed a PLEDGE that makes them beholden to a LOBBYIST. They sold out their ability to compromise and act in the best interest of our country because Grover Norquist made them do it. To me, that is treason. When a leader like Mitch McConnell says that Congress’ goal for two years should be to unseat the President in the next election, ergo not pass any legislation that would seem like a “win” for the D side, regardless of how much it would benefit people and businesses that are hurting, where are we?

Stop worrying about who people are schtupping. Stop worrying about women who take a pill so that they have two children instead of 20, and pass the existing legislation that lowers corporate tax rates, invests in retraining for people in hard-hit areas that have been laid off. Stop blindly protecting the defense budget and question why we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars building up bases in the Caribbean to combat drugs.

Someone…please…take back the reins. When Reagan’s key tax policy advisor has said that the GOP has gone off the rails and is hurting the country, there’s a problem. I think we need a more-than-two-party system. But, at the very least, we need TWO functional parties that welcome debate and dissent, can compromise, and don’t accuse anyone who disagrees with them as being “un-American.”

Another one (ironically from a friend in DC who reads Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Karen Heller):

And please be sure to read the sentence where Smith says to put yourself in the father’s position. Yeah, the father’s position is MUCH more difficult to be in than the poor girl who got raped and pregnant.

Karen Heller: Another GOP moment: Smith comparing daughter’s unintended pregnancy to rape  August 29, 2012|By Karen Heller, Inquirer Columnist

“Maybe Tom Smith just wanted us to remember his name.  Or realize he’s the Pennsylvania Republican running for the U.S. Senate.

Or perhaps he’s jealous of headline-hogging Todd Akin, that Missouri master of creative obstetrics, and wanted his own moment in the sun and on this paper’s front page.

In any event, Smith finally made news Monday by comparing unintended pregnancy to rape.

Specifically, his daughter’s unintended pregnancy to rape, after a Harrisburg press luncheon in front of a group of reporters….

Smith answered, “I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But fortunately for me, I didn’t have to. . . . She chose the way I thought. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t rape.”

Scolforo: “Similar how?”

Smith: “Having a baby out of wedlock.

Scolforo: “That is similar to rape?”

Smith: “No, no, no. Well, put yourself in a father’s position. Yes, I mean it is similar.” “

The last comment is from someone who was a life long Republican until not so long ago:

I have been enjoying newsroom all along – despite the nasty reviews from the “pros.”
I also found Sunday night’s show to be spot on.
So who owns the term rino these days? I sure as heck can’t say. That we are even asking that question is just plain sad.
For me, long ago my personal experiences informed my decision to leave a party that so deliberately and decidedly was extremely comfortable with treating women as second class citizens. But the fact that the Republican party is now, in 2012, hell-bent on controlling women’s bodies in ways I really never dreamed could happen in my lifetime makes it impossible for me to contemplate ever returning. And please, how is it that creationism is even a topic we have to contemplate – let alone discuss in the public discourse?
But these are only the most obvious of issues. what is deeply, deeply disturbing to me is the lack of caring and compassion for those in need. Not every person is a lazy worthless free loader living off/on the public dole, and the insanity – to say nothing of the fundamental selfishness – which seems to be at the center of policies that so callously and inappropriately ignore those less fortunate, I just can not understand or grasp such perspectives.
So there – I joined you on the soap box…..thanks for listening.
Remember what Thomas Jefferson said – “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
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six minutes of television worth watching before the election

Last night I did not watch the Republican National Convention, or listen to Ann Romney’s speech. (See and interview with her here.) To get personal, I am sorry she had breast cancer, but you know what? I am a survivor too.  She also spoke about having multiple sclerosis, and again, I am sorry, but I know a very brave woman who struggles with this every day who I think is amazing.  And she doesn’t tell people about her disease, nor do I tell people what I had so other women will identify with me.  It is simply now part of who I am, and to an extent how I view the world.

What did I watch? The season finale of HBO’s The Newsroom which I had missed on Sunday night.

But what I do not get about my own political party, the Republican party, is they put the candidate’s wife, Ann Romney, out there to speak to the women of this country, yet behind the scenes there is embracing of political zealots who I feel have very little respect for women, their bodies, their opinions, their wants, their needs.

Look at Rep. Todd Akin and his “legitimate rape” comments. According to him,and his vast medical knowledge,women’s bodies shut down upon violation making pregnanacy, etc impossible. And look in our own political trashcan in Pennsylvania to Tom Smith, who is running for senate.  He drew a parallel in an interview with the AP between babies born out-of-wedlock and rape. HUH????

Neither of these men should be running for those reasons alone, yet they are.  And they aren’t alone.  How am I as a Republican woman supposed to vote a Republican ticket when just underneath the surface exists a current that is terrifying to me?   Don’t misunderstand me, I am not feeling it for Obama for a second term, but I am having a personal political crisis wondering how the hell I am going to vote?

I have said before that I feel the politics of extremism is ruining this country. It is the undeniable truth.  Which is why when I heard what a fictional newsman (who sadly does better reporting the news that major networks in this country do in reality) talk about Republicans and the Tea Party as a fictional Republican, it was very interesting.

Writers do not just draw from imagination, they draw from real life,  out there are a lot of  people who are torn and apathetic at the same time just like me.  I don’t think this all came out of Aaron Sorkin’s vivid imagination alone.  (Read an interesting article on the series in the Atlantic HERE)

I volunteered for the RNC2000 when it was in Philadelphia.  I have to tell you, I believed a lot more than I do now.  But at that convention, the Republican Party on a national level had some balls and the political  zealots and extremists stayed firmly where they belong on the fringe.

I almost wonder what kind of target I will become now as a blogger for saying I am a Republican but political extremism isn’t the way to go?

Anyway, watch the clip I posted.  I don’t care who did it, or what their political persuasion may or may not be, as Americans it is a perspective we should at least hear out.

Here is what Buffalonews.com had to say:

Brilliant ‘Newsroom’ finale has impeccable timing By Jeff Simon

Enough of all the supremely supercilious Sorkin-bashing. No more. Sunday’s season finale of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” managed to be the most timely – and one of the best – season finales of a television show I’ve ever seen (and, in my case, that “ever” covers a lot of chronological distance).

On this very evening, the Republicans are gathered in Tampa to see how much commandeering of the American journalistic agenda a storm called Isaac will allow. Two days earlier, “The Newsroom’s” finale led off with fictional journalistic crusader Will McEvoy leading off his news broadcast with a very real issue hotly debated (“defended” is the most apt word) just a few weeks ago: efforts to deny voting rights to those who have no photographic identification…..Put it together with “The Newsroom’s” usual blowtorching of the Tea Party on the (also) plausible grounds that it represents extremism, not Republicanism, and you’ve got the most extraordinary timeliness ever recorded for a TV show in a presidential election year. And all this, mind you, from an HBO fantasy that, thus far, has had to restrict itself to actual events from 2010, when some of the writing was being done….

In the terrific season finale of “The Newsroom” – complete with historically appropriate sideswipes at “Sex and the City” – Sorkin revealed what his theme music all along should have been: bad, scratchy old recordings of Broadway cast albums from “Camelot” and “Man of La Mancha.”

Now THAT would have been the proper introductory tone – smartass, ironic, dweeby, willing to get bruised while pushing boundaries rather than defending a bunch of Holy Prophets who were never anything of a sort.

 

Like it or not, Aaron Sorkin and HBO via fictional characters have given a voice to people questioning the tides of American politics.  Even registered Republicans.

We, as Americans, have been suffering through an economy not seen since the Great Depression if we are all honest with ourselves.  We don’t (thankfully) have a World War looming on the horizon to snap us out of it, but you know what?  We all need something to believe in.

We need as Americans, to have not only something and someones we can believe in, but practical solutions and not pie in the sky ideals.

We do not need to set women back a century or better, and we need to stop a lot of rhetoric which if continued will merely induce more hatred between races.  We need people who actually want to get together from both parties and govern for the good of the people and this country.

Right now it is bull twaddle as usual in Washington, DC.  And in the actual district you see people running around hedging their bets in case the seat of power changes, which in effect means nothing is getting done and we are still paying for it as taxpayers.

You know, I had a ticket for Paul Ryan’s visit to West Chester but I did not go.  I did not go because I did not feel like dealing with the extremeists from either side who were there, including that old fool Frank Lautenberg.  I enjoy politics, I enjoy hearing what candidates have to say, and sometimes even their wives, which is how I got to meet Michele Obama last election in a small setting. I like to hear what candidates have to say, but I can’t hear any of them this election season because they are getting drowned out by the politics of extremism on both sides.

I am getting off the soap box now.

meanwhile, business as usual in west vincent?

 Wow West Vincent.

I mean REALLY?  Is this true? Did you think no one would say anything?  And truthfully, I have recently heard other West Vincent tales from people I have continued to meet socially who aren’t “active”. They are just ordinary people trying to live their lives.  Suffice it to say their tales lend even more credence to everything Chickenman and others say.

I do not understand why the state doesn’t have a corruption squad to come into West Vincent?  Silly me, I thought Corbett was a law and order kind of guy?

From Chickenman this evening:

Now, I wondered, why would that sign appear?

It seems there was a “private meeting” between township representatives and the Hilltop Road residents on August 14 about road ‘improvements’ estimated to cost over $100,000.

I discover that no surveying, engineering, or professional planning has been done.  It seems, judging by the sign, that the residents don’t actually want the road improvements. They don’t want the bottom part of Hilltop widened and  paved.

So I leave you, my dear reader, to ponder over the question over who might benefit from this road improvement scheme?  Could it be something to do with money and not to do with local benefits?  Could it just be that a local contractor needs the work and a certain local farmer might benefit indirectly?  Answers on a postcard please, and there are no prizes.

If you don’t agree your tax monies being spent in this way, please follow the sign, and go to the meeting.  Support your neighbors and follow the sign. YOU might be the next. It’s what happens in West Vincent.

Now a tiny little gripe.  I only just heard about this.  Please tell me earlier, I can often help.  I can’t do anything if I don’t know about it.

To see my previous mailings please click on http://tinyurl.com/westvincentinfos
As usual, if you want to be on or off my list, or have some comments or  suggestions, or know someone who would like to be on the list, please let me know.  Feel free to forward this email on to anyone you think might be interested.   Especially though, if you don’t want to continue to receive my mails, please tell me, it will be done.  Just hit reply to this email or write  to chestercountynews@gmail.com

Best wishes  Chickenman

Also don’t forget in addition to Chickenman there is also the group http://www.birchrunvillepeople.com/index.html – they point out how people might want to look at Second Class Township Codes to see how West Vincent follows the basics.

I found something interesting when reading about Second Class Townships:

Section 503. Removal for Failure to Perform Duties.-If any township officer fails to perform the duties of the office, the court of common pleas upon complaint in writing by five percent of the electors of the township may issue a rule upon the officer to show cause why the office should not be declared vacant. The officer shall respond to the rule within thirty days from its date of issue. Upon hearing, the court may declare the office vacant and require the vacancy to be filled under section 407.

Folks, it also wouldn’t hurt to remind Congressman Jim Gerlach the issues have issues in West Vincent.  Call his Chester County office or campaign office in Eagle. You also need to write letters to the Daily Local.  Go to meetings.

Again, I can write the occasional blog post but I do not live in your community.  Small minded petty politicos only have as much power as you allow them to have.

very curious indeed, tredyffrin

Suzanne Pratowski is blonde in black and white outfit in center – very petite – original caption to photo was “John Dibuonaventuro of Berwyn and Suzy Pratowski of Wayne center in white at a 2011 Devereux charity event. File photo Joan Bang” John Dibuonaventuro is a Supervisor in Tredyffrin, correct? Ok, public officials have personal lives, but how does this play in here?

Tredyffrin zoning hearing board member not guilty after police are a no-show at her trial

Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012

By Richard Ilgenfritz
rilgenfritz@mainlinemedianews.com

A member of Tredyffrin’s Zoning Hearing Board appears to have caught a lucky break in court this week following her arrest in May on charges of public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

And just what was the lucky break?

A police officer failed to appear on the day of her scheduled summary trial. As a result, she was found not guilty, records show.

According to the citations, Suzanne Pratowski, 37, of Wayne was arrested and charged with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct following incidents May 29.

Messages left for Pratowski Thursday and Friday seeking comment were not returned.

Police officials Thursday describe the absence of the officer at the hearing as an oversight….But another question is whether or not someone from outside of the department could have influenced a member of the police department since Pratowski would be considered a township official in a position that is appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

“Oh no. That does not happen,” Landis said emphatically. “We are equal opportunity arresters. Missing a hearing, that can happen. But influence from someone outside – we can’t tell officers that and we wouldn’t. More than likely, if a police administrator told an officer [not to go to a hearing] he would go anyway.”

The public drunkenness and disorderly conduct charges date back to May when, police say, Pratowski was supposed to pick up her kids at her ex-husband’s house on Franklin Lane….The ex-husband then showed police a custody agreement that indicated Pratowski was not allowed to drink alcohol 10 hours before driving and picking up the children. Pratowski had previously been arrested and charged with DUI in 2010. In that case, she was initially charged with endangering the welfare of children.

According to records, the endangering charges were later withdrawn but she did plead guilty to the DUI charges from that incident….Later that night, police say Pratowski rode her bike to the area near her ex-husband’s house. After being stopped by police, an officer reported getting a .18 blood alcohol level on her by using a portable breath test. That was when the officer wrote that he Pratowski would be cited for public drunkenness and criminal mischief.

Is it just me or is this just a little funky?  Suzanne Pratowski, Zoning Hearing Board member in Tredyffrin gets picked up and pulled over for public drunkeness and related offenses like disorderly conduct in May (see dockets below – follow hyperlinks), and well isn’t it just so cute and magical that the Tredyffrin police officers failed to show in court the other day which means she goes free.

Wow.

I am so sorry, but really, is that a “lucky” break?  No show or failed to show?  I mean seriously?  I have yes heard of police officers having conflicts, but then often another officer is sent for a stand-in or there is a rescheduling.

What else struck me as odd when I pulled up the dockets? If I am reading them correctly the cases were also transferred to another judge?  Why the case transfers in between Magisterial District Judge Thomas W. Tartaglio and Magisterial District Judge Analisa Sondergaard?

I found that I believe  Suzanne Pratowski works for Kuranda Mortgage?  Would that be the place next to the thankfully defunct Cooz’s Corner in Wayne?

Here is what her business profile on the Kuranda site says:

Suzanne Pratowski started her insurance career as a Surety underwriter in 2000 with Chubb Group of Insurance Companies in Philadelphia. After two and a half years there, she moved on to a more senior position as a Contract Surety  underwriter at The Hartford in King of Prussia. Suzy made the difficult decision to leave The Hartford after 3 years to spend more time at home with her two small children….Suzy grew up in Montgomery County and has been living on the Main Line since 1995. She graduated from Villanova University and lives in Wayne, PA. Suzy is an active member in the community, volunteers at her children’s schools, and sits on the Zoning Hearing Board for Tredyffrin Township. When she is not busy with all of her volunteer activities, Suzy enjoys spending time with her two boys, cooking, and playing golf.

Ok so based on the article she’s a divorcee.  Logic would dictate she probably has primary custody of her kids, which means she might need a night out once in a while to let off steam.  But I am sorry, she is a PUBLIC official as well as a MOTHER and she isn’t 18.  She should be embarrassed, I would question her fitness to serve on the zoning board in Tredyffrin because maybe she has some unfortunate *stress* issues, and who doesn’t  question the mysteriously disappearing Tredyffrin police officers when it came to court? And doesn’t THAT bite the big one to put officers of the law in a position like this?

Not trying to be a hard ass with this woman if she is having issues, but seriously, she is old enough not to act like an alley cat when she goes out. And she is very lucky because a lot of employers do not smile favorably on behavior like this.

The Main Line Media News article says she had a DUI in 2010.  I could not find that court docket, so the record may be expunged.

I don’t know people this who thing just smells funky. REALLY, REALLY FUNKY. Do I file this under “how embarrassing to be a Republican in Chester County?”

Am I missing something?  Or is this just Tredyffrin being Tredyffrin?

This woman sounds like she needs a come to Jesus talk and a 12 step program at a minimum. And once again I question her fitness to serve on any board in Tredyffrin at this time.  And the hall pass she in effect got needs a LOT more explaining.  Things that seem too cute in politics, generally are.

MDJReport Suzanne 1

MDJReport Suzanne 2

MDJReport Suzanne 3

MDJReport Suzanne 4

At the end of the day, I have to still wonder who was in the car with Ms. Pratowski?  No one ever said and don’t you wonder given the cozy society photo the MEDIA (not me, not any blogger) put out there?

What is Suzanne Pratowski’s relationship with Tredyffrin Township Supervisor John “J.D”. DiBuonaventuro?  I think whatever it is, maybe that needs to be cleared up, don’t you? Public officials do indeed deserve private lives, but unfortunately for Mr. DiBuonaventuro as per Tredyffrin’s website he is Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors.  And Suzanne Pratowski is on the Zoning Hearing Board.  So whether they like it or not, people are going to talk.  Best to clear it up now so there is no misperception, right?

Oh Tredyffrin, the way the tongues are way wagging on this one (I had NO idea until I put up this post), it might get really ugly.  For Suzanne Pratowski’s sake I hope not…..she obviously needs help, not more weird pressure.

And why is it we did not hear about this incident which happened in May until August?  Has anyone found this in the police briefs? Usually when a public official does something like this some paper or media source will pick it up ASAP?  Like remember when the former police chief let his kid drive an official vehicle? That was EVERYWHERE so fast, yet this? Was this incident covered up and only got out with the whole court thing by accident?

End Note: I took down the photo with the kids in it. I did NOT have to take it down, as it was Suzanne Pratowski herself who must have provided the photo to Kuranda Mortgage.  I have received a lot of feedback on and off the blog for this post, and as someone sagely said to me today:

…..And, she most certainly could have been arrested for DUI for riding the bike drunk. It happens all the time. People have even gotten DUI’s on horses. So that is ANOTHER break she got.
Obviously this woman has a drinking problem, is most likely an alcoholic and should be at the very least attending AA to discover the extent of her problem and address it – if not immediate detox/rehab depending on the severity.
I don’t like to judge those with drinking problems as I consider it a disease. At the same time, you are responsible for your actions regardless and she is a public figure and has obviously gotten preferential treatment so I see what has happened along those lines as an issue of public concern
And let me be clear, I am not judging her for having issues with alcohol, but I think she needs to quite playing Party Barbie and get some help.  Anyone, yes anyone who encourages this woman to drink is not her friend.  Comments on media sites keep pointing to the preferential treatment calling for people involved to step down.  I personally do not feel that the cop who did not show up should be punished, because if conspiracy theorists are right, can it be construed he received serious pressure to do so from above?   I do think Suzanne Pratowski needs to come off the zoning hearing board, and depending on what his role is in this is that Supervisor John “J.D”. DiBuonaventuro ethically sound to continue to serve the residents of Tredyffrin?
There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, and I just think at a minimum Suzanne Pratowski needs to deal with her issues.  She would be best served doing that as a completely private citizen, which means getting off the zoning board ASAP.
Sorry but this whole thing is give you the shivers creepy.

just bananas/just desserts

Ok, what happens when I am supposed to be resting on a sprained ankle? I get restless.

The result: Banana Cake with Banana Buttercream Frosting. (I had leftover bananas to use up )

Banana Cake:

350 degree oven (pre-heat)

Grease and flour two round cake pans (mine are 9 1/2 inch) and line bottom with parchment or brown paper (cut out a circle just like your mom used to do.)

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk powder *

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1  teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (regular not large crystal sea salt)

3/4 cup sour milk**

1 cup smushed ripe bananas

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup white raisins

1/2 teaspoon EACH of cinnamon, green cardamom powder, ground ginger

* = sour milk is regular milk with 2 teaspoons of white vinegar added. Stir in vinegar to mix, let sit 5 to 10 minutes

**= buttermilk powder can be gotten at baking supply places or online.  It must be refrigerated when opened.  You can use buttermilk powder AND sour milk OR regular buttermilk.

Take nuts and raisins and toss in a tablespoon or so of flour and set aside in small bowl.

Mix all dry ingredients.

Add bananas.

Add buttermilk or sour milk.

Add vanilla

Add butter

Beat everything on a low speed until blended and then pop up the power to medium high for about 2 minutes

Split batter evenly between prepared pans. Sprinkle nuts and raisins evenly over both plans (split in other words)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until toothpick or skewer comes out clean.

Cool in pans on rack for 10 – 15 minutes.

Remove cakes from pans and cool thoroughly.

When cool remove parchment or brown paper from bottom. Carefully or you will take chunks of cake away

Banana Butter Cream Frosting:

1 cup butter

1/2 smushed banana

4 cups confectioners sugar

scant 1/4 cup meringue powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 tablespoons soft cream cheese

2 tablespoons of milk

1/2 teaspoon EACH of ground ginger and cinnamon

First cream butter and cream cheese.  Add vanilla and spices and banana.  Add sugar. Add milk.  Beat with hand mixer until frosting is smooth and creamy.

Frost the cake.  I will note that after I frost this cake I place four evenly placed wooden skewers in the top and place cake in refrigerator for frosting to harden.  This is a cake that has to have leftovers stay covered and refrigerated. I will also note that I decided to add the meringue powder (also available at specialty food/baking supply or online) to this because the banana makes the butter cream frosting too soft I think.  The meringue powder which I generally keep on hand for royal icing stiffens the frosting up nicely.

I don’t think I left anything out.

Enjoy!

stealing history

On the Main Line they are stealing history now.  Specifically in my former home community of Lower Merion.

Lower Merion seems to have increasing issues with crime.  Maybe that is why insurance premiums often drop when you now leave this municipality?  Read this article and be disgusted.  More commentary below.

Posted: Sun, Aug. 26, 2012, 3:01 AM

Ex-household staffer sought in $3M Bryn Mawr art theft

By Jonathan Lai and Bonnie L. Cook Inquirer Staff Writers

For a brief period this summer, Andrea Lawton worked on the housekeeping staff of their home, according to a Bryn Mawr couple. Now, say Lower Merion police, she is suspected of cleaning them out of a rare bust of Benjamin Franklin said to be worth more than $3 million.

Lawton, 46, of Philadelphia, learned her employers’ routine during her month working at their residence on the 600 block of Black Rock Road, according to homeowner George A. D’Angelo.

Police responded to a call by the household staff, which reported the burglary about 12:30 p.m. Friday, while he and his wife, Brenda, were not home, D’Angelo said. But the porcelain bust and a small, framed portrait were already gone, he said.

The bust is 28 inches tall and weighs 25 pounds, including its brass supporting structure, D’Angelo said. Made by Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1778, while Franklin was visiting Paris, the bust is one of four in existence, he said….The three other busts are at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Louvre in Paris, according to D’Angelo. The Louvre version is made of terra cotta; the two others are marble.

When the marble bust was donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it was valued at about $3 million, said D’Angelo, who believes the stolen work is worth at least as much.

It is unique, he said, because Franklin’s expression seems to vary from different angles. The work is part of a collection of historical objects his family has collected, D’Angelo said.

Lawton and another woman were seen leaving the house Friday by a staff member, D’Angelo said. But because both had been recent employees there, their presence did not raise suspicion, he said….D’Angelo said he was considering offering a reward as an incentive for the safe recovery of the historic Franklin bust.

“I just hope it’s returned,” he said. “It’s our history – American history.”

I am posting this because this is one of these things that just pisses me off.  The stories of housekeepers and house cleaners or anyone who basically take domestic jobs to rip people off is just the lowest of the low.

There is honor in any job, as long as it is well-done.  That includes being part of someone’s domestic staff.  Domestic staff has unusually close access to people and whether they are gardener, nanny, housekeeper, cook, nursing aide or someone who helps one of the aforementioned, one would think they would do the job with some sort of honor and ethics.  After all they chose to do the job.

But to steal from nice people?  Ugh.  I know all too well what it is like, it happened to my mother shortly after my father passed away.  There was a lady who was helping clean her home, who had been in and out of the homes of many my mother knew.  Your basic cleaning lady.  She had been around long enough to steal my mother’s trust, and then her valuables.  This woman stole most of the jewelry my late father ever gave my mother, silk scarves, underwear with the tags still on it, and oh yes a dog collar because it had a silver tag.  Flash forward a couple of years and another woman my mother knew was also cleaned out.  Nothing was ever recovered.  And face it, when you steal from a widow, it doesn’t get much lower, does it?

Truthfully, the news has too many of these stories.  There was one in May covered by The Times Herald.  Let’s not forget the story of domestic theft from 2009 that had Main Line and West Chester connections, right?

Remember this:Prosecutor: Housekeeper’s story is lying, stealing By Carl Hessler Jr. Wednesday, October 06, 2010

NORRISTOWN — A former East Goshen housekeeper earned the trust of her wealthy Main Line clients and then stole their jewelry and valuable sports memorabilia out from under them, according to prosecutors.

“Kimberley Williams is a story of stealing and of lying,” Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Bradford Richman argued to a jury as Williams’ theft trial got under way Tuesday. “She ingratiated herself … so that these families grew to trust her.”

But Williams, through her lawyer Douglas Breidenbach Jr., implied to the jury that Williams’ estranged husband, a Marple Township police officer, had the opportunity to enter the homes from which the items went missing and had “great motive” to frame Williams for the thefts….Williams, 46, formerly of Margo Lane, is charged with theft by unlawful taking or disposition and receiving stolen property in connection with alleged incidents that occurred in Montgomery and Delaware counties between January 2007 and December 2008 at the homes of five people who hired her as a housekeeper.

Williams is accused of making more than $50,000 by selling jewelry, sports memorabilia and other items she allegedly stole from the homes. Williams, who most recently resided in Summerville, S.C., faces a possible maximum sentence of 35 to 70 years in prison if she’s convicted of all the charges.

 

So anyway, this stealing of history is a new all time low as far as I am concerned.  And stealing something so famous as one of the busts Jean-Antoine Houdon did of founding father Benjamin Franklin while he was not only alive, but in Paris in the 18th century?

Now I have to wonder, as this (at least to me) seems somewhat a very specific thing to steal, was this housekeeping staffer turned  thief sent in specifically by someone else to steal this?   After all what are the chances of an every day person no matter who they are recognizing this as a priceless artifact? How would someone sell this other than on a very specific black market?  Did this suspect only take the job to case the house?

There are only four other versions of this bust by Houdon – one in terra-cotta, two in marble.  If I did my research correctly, one of the marble busts last came up at auction in 1996.  Follow this link to check out the one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  My research indicates there are ones that are of the Houdon school, probably students of his at the time that come up.  In your mind’s eye you can almost see Benjamin Franklin sitting for this sculpture.

Well hopefully Lower Merion cops will be information sharing with other police departments and even law enforcement on a Federal level who deal with art theft to bring this piece of history home.  Read more on Houdon here.

And I have to wonder, are there any other art thefts that have not been reported to the media?

For more on Benjamin Franklin click HERE.  The Biography Channel did a piece on him over the past couple of years (click HERE).  The best biography/documentary I have seen on Franklin and his life was done by The History Channel.

This whole thing is so White Collar I can’t stand it.  Here’s hoping they find Ben Franklin before some fool who doesn’t know Wal Mart for Art breaks him.