5 year bloggerversary

five-years

Facebook is always reminding you of “memories” to share.  Most of the time I ignore the prompts.  This morning for some reason I decided to look.

And guess what? #TBT and all that jazz made me realize that my blog is 5 years old this month!

Yes! Chester County Ramblings is 5!

Above is the banner my blog first had.  I chose it because of not only my love of Chester County but because that is still my favorite and what I feel is among the most iconic Chester County barns.

Well eventually I started to change the banners on the blog because I had at the time been contacted by one of the adult children of the folks who live there. Ironically after I had my photography show at Christopher’s in Malvern in 2015 I heard from one of the homeowners because one of my images mounted in that show was of that barn.  She hadn’t liked that I had cut off the question mark in the photo I chose, and to contact her if I wanted to hear the story of the barn and how it got the writing on the side of the barn. Well I did, and never heard back.  And I still love that barn.

Over the years my blog has stuck to my tag line meandering through, writing about whatever strikes my fancy.

This blog covers a lot of ground and a lot of Chester County. Sometimes I ramble off to other areas. It is my blog, after all. A lot of posts involve my photography, my cooking, crafting gardening, and passion for junking, barn picking and hunting antiques.

One of my blog’s early and still iconic photos taken by me (and not Chester County):

sign-of-the-times-1

I cover topics that make people uncomfortable at times. And the comments I get can at times be termed as hate mail.  It doesn’t matter that no one ever said they had to read this blog, or that just like when you do not like a particular TV station you can change the channel. People just want to comment.  Most comments I publish.  Some I do not but maintain for the Internet trail.

One of the hottest topics was my covering what can only be described as mommy DUIs.  My blog posts were written based on published media reports and public records.  The posts were carefully written and were compassionate.

It troubled me that there seemed to be a string of  cases of  well-educated, well-bred young women ending up with a DUI sometimes with kids in the car.

The pressure to be the perfect woman is a very real thing. And the sooner we, as women can learn to stop beating ourselves up for not being paragons of perfection, the better. And yes that is a lesson I also have to learn and accept. (Some days are just better than others and self-perception is a tricky and cheeky devil.)

I wish life and fixing life issues was as simple as Cher’s infamous line in “Moonstruck” – you know – “Snap out of it!” – but it’s not.  It takes work. Relationships take work, families take work.  Yes there is love and all the good stuff, but you get the good stuff by working together, don’t you?

And for these opinions, well the comments were not always…pleasant.   Such is life.

I experienced that even more when I wrote about teenage suicide.  For all we will discuss and even crowd source on community Facebook pages, people don’t want to talk about difficult topics.  I get that.

But I think we should talk about these things. That we have to.  For our kids we have to. For us as a society we have to.

Just like I think we need to really get moving on the drug epidemic attached to heroin.  The media puts a spotlight on it, but the drug deaths keep happening.  And these are not people from low income areas, but rather upscale more privileged backgrounds.

Politics. Now politics always pushes buttons.  I get messages telling me to stick to gardening and cooking posts.  I had a whole posse in West Vincent spreading garbage about me and supporting cyber bullying because they did not like what I wrote.

Cyber bullying is a hot button topic for me.  It’s real.  It has happened to me.

I first addressed it in June 2014. I asked then how do you keep your joy? How do you keep your joy in the face of unpleasantness?

It is very true that you cannot control the actions of others, you can only control your own actions and behavior.

Cyber bullying and cyber stalking. It’s real, it happens every day. It happens to kids and adults alike. It is an unpleasant side of the Internet.  And while there is plenty to help kids and young adults out there, there is in fact very little to help adults.

As a writer and a blogger I have been a target of unpleasantness. It is nothing new, but that never makes it right. When you write, you are putting yourself out there. You will have fans of your writing as well as the detractors. Sometimes the people are those you know, but a lot of the time they are just strangers.

When people love something I write, or a photo, or a recipe it is such a nice feeling. That is what makes blogging so fun. It’s a very neat connection at times.

I am blessed with meeting some very cool people throughout the years I have been writing. I have also had some unpleasant experiences. The two topics that seem to cause unpleasant experiences always seem to get whittled down to two topics: politics and animal rescue.

I also use this blog to talk about historic and land preservation.  Loch Aerie, Linden Hall, and Ebenezer AME are easily my three most covered in this category. Historic preservation needs to mean something in Pennsylvania in general. And more people need to get called out and fined by demolition by neglect ordinances.  The whole thing of just letting it rot is BS.

The need for preservation in Chester County is very, very real.  And it is up to us wherever we live.  Once places like Crebilly are gone, they are gone and never coming back.

Chester County has a rich agricultural and equine heritage in addition to just the history of what has transpired here, and I feel like it is all getting whittled away one bad development at a time.  Toll Brothers is one developer in particular which I think simply needs to be slowed down.  Pick a township. Pick a county for that matter.

Toll Brothers is hardly the only developer in Chester County but they certainly seem to be the most prolific.  Like ants at a picnic.

Yes, I write a lot about development.  I can’t help it.  There is just too damn much of it

Here are some of my favorite development posts:

when articles appear that tell but half a story
why don’t we have more control over our communities? we live here.
this is progress?
pause, downingtown?
spring oak farm
the bell “tolls” for thee, chester county
a love note to the chester county planning commission
the fairy tales of development

Along with everything else, I have shared more personal posts with you.  I have even mocked Ladies’ Hat Day at Devon. I know I know I have “some nerve”  and yes I do.  The ridiculous creatures I saw photographed at a recent theme ladies lunch (whether some were ladies of course is in question) should be glad I do not create a mockumentary over photos I saw.  Suffice it to say there should be an age limit on tutus and strapless…as well as more clearly defined parameters of who should wear Lily.

And one post that sort of stands alone had to do with the controversial topic of the followers of Rudolf Steiner or Anthroposophy. Sorry not sorry just not into communes and their belief system. I was reminded of it by this tweet at me this morning:


Yes I do receive all sorts of  tweets. And some of them  get retained like some of the comments. 

Here are some of my favorite “other posts” from the past five years:

is having an opinion social crucifixion?
girl power
this and that
surviving in the land of women
the curiousness of women as we age
women to women: a puzzle for the ages
who are we now?
anthony trollope, what would you think of us today?
childhood christmas memories
unexpected memories of childhood past
small and other gardens
provenance

I still love writing about gardening and cooking probably the most.  I actually have the mish mosh makings of a cookbook based on recipes on this blog I have yet to pin myself to my desk to write and self publish…but I will.

So thank you readers for being a part of my journey the past five years!  Cheers to the next five years!

Thanks for stopping by.

hello pravda?

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
~ Thomas Jefferson

You will note I have not said much politically as in national- elections-politically in a very long time. Except for mentioning that after the most recent US presidential primary I went from being a life long Republican to a registered Independent.

I haven’t mentioned anything because on both sides of the aisle the ranting and raving especially on social media has been upsetting.  We are officially a country of extremism politically at this point and I find that terrifying.

Our President Elect  seems incapable of getting out of his own way. He attained the highest office in the land, literally. So why is it at this point so close to the inauguration that he can’t behave in a more shall we say “Presidential” manner?

 He likes to criticize people like bloggers and the media and celebrities and basically anyone who disagrees with him in any way.   OK so it’s fine to be a cranky person who reacts to everything on Twitter, but this guy is going to be our president officially as in sworn in officially in a matter of days and the only thing he can do is attack Meryl Streep for exercising her right of free speech at the Golden Globes awards ceremony?

It’s not like it’s anything new is it? Award ceremonies are used by celebrities all the time to voice their political opinions and platforms.

  
Meryl Streep is eloquent and thoughtful. And once again our now President Elect has vilified yet another woman. Why does he have issues with women so often? 

Apparently no one else is allowed to say anything he might find upsetting, distressing, personally distasteful. But in that double standard world in which he lives, he can say whatever he wants it’s just everyone else who has to keep their mouths shut.

Newsflash Mr. President elect this isn’t Mother Russia. Pravda need not apply.  You don’t have to agree with everyone’s opinion, but our forefathers fought for our freedom’s including freedom of speech.

I actually wonder in addition to trying to completely dismantle our healthcare system if he will try to well rollback freedom of speech a couple hundred years. I am waiting for laws that will hurt bloggers and reporters and anyone at all who has an opinion that differs from the party line that the incoming administration wants out there.

Washington Post: Meryl Streep called out Donald Trump at the Golden Globes. He responded by calling her ‘over-rated

By Elahe Izadi and Amy B Wang Arts and Entertainment. January  9 at 8:32 am

Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. Okay. Go on with that thing.

You do not have to share Meryl Streep’s politics to know she speaks the truth. And this country was founded by people who fought so we could speak our truths and not live under the thumb of tyranny. They died for this.

As Americans are we going to allow the clock to be turned back to a more oppresive form of our country? you know a country where women were barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen, and didn’t open their mouths?

I could go on but I won’t. I just felt like I had to write about this. Every day I fear more and more that the next four years will be so ugly. We should not be ruled by political extremism and reactionary politics. We should not be ruled.

crebilly news

crebilly

I have nothing to do with this, I am merely an additional conduit of information. But I have been getting messages regarding what was new, so I will post what I received. E-mail mindyrhodes1 <at> gmail.com to get on her Crebilly updates list.

Here is what I received from Mindy today:

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your continued support regarding the pending development of Crebilly Farm by Toll Brothers.  I would like to reiterate what I have stated in previous emails:  I encourage all of you to forward this info to your friends and at any time you wish to be removed from this list, please let me know.
 
NEXT PLANNING COMMISSION MEETINGS:
 
Tuesday, January 10th, 6:30PM Rustin High School
Agenda:  traffic and sewer
 
Tuesday, January 24th, 6:30PM Rustin High School
Agenda:  engineering, fiscal impact and PC recommendations
 
NOTE:  The PC is going to ask for an extension from Toll to split the last January meeting into two separate meetings because they have been so long.  I will let you know when I hear more.
 
There are 850 seats in Rustin’s auditorium.  It is imperative we rally together and fill these seats.  Please invite your friends and neighbors to join you.  I recommend we all plan to sit forward this time.  In a much larger auditorium than Stetson Middle School, I believe it will send a message from all of us to the developer that we are united and strong.  As many of you already know, these meetings have been hours long and public comments are not permitted until the end.  Consider bringing a snack, a drink, your knitting:)  Take a break and come back, but try to make it for the long haul if you can.  Public comments are invaluable and need to be on record.  The more we can pick apart the application from the developer and speak on record, the better.  Though everyone has a voice and may speak, comments from Westtown Township residents and nearby Thornbury Township residents will have the most impact.
If you have not had the chance to view the beautiful and historic land of Crebilly Farm, here is the website:  www.crebilly.com
Attached is a map of the plans by Toll Brothers.  Their original map was green.  We had this one colored to clearly define the building lots (orange), waste water disposal and storm water retention (brown) and wetlands (green).  The terrain in the central part of the property, where the bulk of the building has been proposed, has many streams, valleys and wetlands.  The streams on the property flow into the Brandywine river.  This proposed development will impair the eco system and wildlife miles away.
I have had some inquiries with regards to donating money.  In my opinion, now is not the time to donate money.  Pulling funds together should happen if and when there is a call for buying down the development rights or Toll decides to pull out.  Until then, MASSIVE PUBLIC OUTCRY by attending the township meetings, along with raising awareness among local and national conservancies, county officials, state officials and historic organizations is where I believe we should be focusing our efforts.
Thank you again for your continued support.  I believe it is possible to respect land owners rights and also achieve a thoughtful development plan.  Without all of your participation, there would be no fight to preserve the integrity of this beautiful open space and the Brandywine Battlefield.  Together, we are making a difference.
Leave no stone unturned.
Mindy


Mindy Rhodes
Proprietress
WhisperWind Studios
(610)563-8788
www.whisperwindstudios.com

 #NoMoreTollberhoods

happy new year!


Yes January 1 definitely means winter things, so today I have been applying new patches to an old quilt.

How do I make an American quilt? Well truthfully I do not because I am not truly a quilter.  Quilting is an amazing folk art form. I have taught myself how to patch and restore old and vintage quilts. 

I have written before about my love of old and vintage quilts and that I use them in my home. Quilts are a happy thing to me. 

Very cheery.

That is a lot of what I have been doing this weekend. Not very exciting to New Year’s Eve party enthusiasts, but I have never been a big New Year’s Eve person. So yesterday, I patched a really cool depression era lap quilt that was made out of old wool suits.  It will be a quilt to snuggle up with and watch TV.

You could say finishing the three quilts I have come across in various stages of now  last year is my first New Year’s resolution and one I can keep!

It’s 2017. Let’s make the best of it. Make it your year to be better. We can’t control what others do, we can only control our own actions.

Pay it forward. Do something nice – you know like helping the family made homeless by the Frazer Christmas fire next to the WaWa?

Or attend municipal meetings where you live and stand up and be counted. Tell officials how you want your community to look and stop allowing developers to do the dictating.  Pick a township and pick a developer. In January I am told Bishop Tube in East Whiteland will go to zoning. 

If you live in East Whiteland bear in mind what has now happened in Lower Merion with the Rockhill Road site. Basically Lower Merion Township officials spent years jumping through hoops at the expense of residents to benefit the developer and many years later a shovel has never hit the ground and a decrepit site is still decrepit and now for sale. Same developer as for Bishop Tube site – O’Neill.  

Bishop Tube is a toxic site. Not to be crass, but it’s a flipper baby site and they want more zoning relief. Steep slopes and such.  East Whiteland had said in late November, 2015 that the meeting was postponed until January 23. Zoning means the people with true standing who can make an impact are people who reside in the shadow of Bishop Tube.  Also they haven’t finished site remediation yet have they? 

Other items up in January would be yes more meetings in Westtown over Crebilly. Meetings are subject to change so if you live in Westtown, keep an eye on township agendas and thus far please mark your calendars for the upcoming January Planning Commission meeting dates:

Tuesday, 1/10, 6:30 Rustin High School Auditorium

Tuesday, 1/24, 6:30 Rustin High School Auditorium

There is a chance locations may be changed. Mindy Rhodes and others will keep you posted or (which I wholeheartedly suggest) you can sign up for direct notifications from Westtown Township by clicking on ‘Get Email Alerts’ at the top of the website: westtownpa.org.  

Also, Chris Patriarca, Township Planning and Zoning Officer of Westtown Township, encourages people to reach out to him directly with questions: (610)692-1930 or cpatriarca@westtown.org.
 

And remember there are all sorts of communities suffering from Toll Brothers  plans. Take a drive down Little Conestoga Road in Upper Uwchlan. Google the debacle down on Jewelers Row in Philadelphia.

Politics as in national politics? Not going there. Look we need to change the tone in this country, so yes we need to be more active, but the ugliness has gotten us all what? Nothing but more ugliness.

This New Year’s I am grateful. Grateful for my friends and family and to still be in the breast cancer survivor category.

2017 marks my third year with a gratitude jar. It is a simple thing.

The gratitude jar is a private reminder to you. It’s a sweet and simple thing. I read my year of thoughts and have already added to my jar for 2017.

Creating the jar isn’t rocket science, but the home craftiness of creating the jar isn’t really what the jar is about. If you hang with the jar throughout the year you will find it is not just a bit of ribbon, lace, a jar, labels and itty bitty bits of paper.

Yes, something so simple can teach life lessons.

You don’t have to be perfect. Don’t write something for your jar just to fill it up with little slips of paper. Every once in a while (and how frequent is up to you), sit down for a moment and pause. Let the words come to you. They will. On good days and not such good days.

Some empty their jar each New Year’s Eve. I don’t. I let the little thoughts accumulate.  I don’t put something in my jar daily, so it’s fine.

Happy 2017!  Wishing all my readers a happy and healthy 2017.