cheer on face of america cyclists on their stop at east whiteland fire company saturday, april 29 at 7:45 a.m.

When it comes to our first responders and our military, we can put our political differences aside in this country and simply be patriots one and all.  On Saturday, April 29th, 2017 there is that opportunity at East Whiteland Fire Company (205 Conestoga Rd, Malvern, PA 19355)

I am asking you if you have the time to kindly turn out to cheer on the cyclists who are part of the Face of America Ride which has two different branches that meet at historic Gettysburg PA.

Since 1987, this Holbrook, New York-based non-profit  World Team Sports has created and directed dozens of inclusive outdoor sporting events for adaptive and able-bodied athletes. From coast to coast and around the world, our organization’s cross-country bicycle rides, challenging team competitions, high mountain climbs, water sports challenges and events for athletes of all ages have changed lives through sports.

Face of America 2017 Logo

Our Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride is their most popular event, with hundreds of riders annually. Since 2010, it has been one of the largest non-competitive charitable rides in the mid-Atlantic region.

Adaptive military veterans, along with currently active military and retired military from all service branches, will join first responders and civilian athletes for Face of America. Participating athletes can select between two distinctive routes ending in Gettysburg. This year for the very first time, here in Chester County, East Whiteland Fire Company is a pit stop for these wonderful men and women.

Yes, it’s true, East Whiteland Fire Company is for the first time a comfort station host for this national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ two-day Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride to historic Gettysburg . Not only is it cool that they are participating in this way,  it’s a real honor!

Please come out to this very special event and show your support for the riders by waving American flags (provided) as they come off the trail and ride into the East Whiteland Fire company!

This may be one of the most inspiring sporting events you’ll ever experience. The route, which culminates in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was developed to remember the exceptional sacrifices that First Respondors and Veterens and have made throughout our history in protecting our communities and our nation.

For more information please email  Ms. Debbie Abel at abeldeb88@gmail.com or click on
http://worldteamsports.org/face-of-america-gettysburg-2017-1/ .

It is also important to note that I was told East Whiteland Fire Company’s own Mike Matkovic has been a part of this race.

Look, these men and women are the living embodiment of service above self, so as a way to say “thank you for your service”  please turn out on Saturday, April 29th from 7:45 AM to 9 AM  and cheer on these riders and show your support for them and the fire company as they come off the trail and ride into the East Whiteland Fire company!

I had never heard of this organization until Debbie Abel sent me the website link.  I went to the web page and I watched this short little YouTube video:

I had tears running down my face within moments. These folks, our military and first responders are the real deal. These are our American Heroes.

Come cheer them on!

Face of America Ride 2017

Saturday, April 29th 7:45 AM – 9 AM (please arrive at 7:45 as per event page)

East Whiteland Fire Company 205 Conestoga Rd, Malvern, PA 19355

 

demolishing part of memory lane on the main line

Sometimes in those moments between waking and sleeping, memories of childhood come floating back.  This morning I awoke to memories of a pink stucco house with blueberry bushes beyond the pool, a pool where my little sister first learned to swim. The house was located at 134 Cheswold Lane in Haverford.

So, no this is not a post about Chester County. This post is about memories.

In the early 1970s, my parents were starting to think about moving from Society Hill to the Main Line. Somehow they were connected to lovely people named John and Jean Markel and they agreed to house sit for the entire summer. My sister and I were fairly little, and this was a strange idea for us because summer usually meant the beach, but this house was magical with a secret pool tucked into the back and lovely gardens to explore. Immediately adjacent to The Merion Cricket Club we could hear every day the pop pop sound of tennis balls when they hit the racquets-  and an added bonus when the tennis balls sailed over the pink stucco garden walls for us to collect.

I think the summer of ’73 because I remember it was the summer they tore down the Haverford Hotel and Mrs. Sharpe’s carriage house doors with the large heavy metal (iron?)  lion heads with rings in their mouths jutted out to the sidewalk on Haverford Station Road. I have distinct memories of walking along Haverford Station Road with my father and how large the lions heads and rings seemed, and the carriage house doors imposing.  I also remember before they demolished the Haverford Hotel they sold a lot of things off, like furniture and fixtures. At one point, the sweeping lawns of this old hotel had rows upon rows of mattresses lined up in the summer sun like corpses.

I have looked and looked for photos of the old hotel, and the only one I can find is from an old edition of the Main Line Times:

ML History: Recapping the summer of ’73 archives By Kathy O’Loughlin Aug 11, 2010

 

I also found reference to the hotel and Mrs. Sharpe on the Lower Merion Historical Society website:

Catherine H. Dixon Sharpe bequeathed her home and a 2 1/2-acre property at Montgomery Avenue and Haverford Station Road to the township for a bird sanctuary. In 1978 her house was razed, and fencing and trails for walking through the wooded area were added…..A Haverford landmark for sixty years was the Haverford Hotel, built of brick in 1913 at the corner of Grays Lane and Montgomery Avenue. Its stately white columns supported the roof over a wide and gracious porch entrance. Fifty rooms were decorated with Chippendale desks, Chinese screen paintings, mahogany china cabinets, brass sconces, and sparkling chandeliers. Many wedding receptions, including that of President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, balls, other parties, and meetings were held there, but in 1973 the hotel was demolished, and Gray’s Lane House, an apartment condominium designed by Vincent Kling, now occupies the site.

It was a lovely summer. My school friend Paula’s aunt I think it was, lived close by so I would see her and I remember visiting other people my parents knew on Elbow Lane, and other nearby roads and lanes in Haverford and Bryn Mawr.

My father’s job was in the city, so I remember a lot of the time he stayed in our house in Society Hill during the week, and took the Paoli Local to Haverford Station on the weekends.

The Markels house was a magical house, and there are details I remember to this day inside. A lovely wood paneled library with floor to ceiling books, a piano, a Butler’s Pantry loaded with the most beautiful and feminine sets of china and flatware.  I think it was that summer I fell in love with English and French porcelain. 

There were stools in the kitchen which was large and sunny. I remember watching television sitting on a stool – there was a tiny black and white television on one of the expansive kitchen counters.

Outside were what were to me at the time the best secret gardens ever. The gardens were so beautiful and there was also a  lovely pool. I remember the Markels had inside and outside staff who would come take care of things during the week.

Ironically this was the summer I also remember seeing Loch Aerie for the first time because I remember my parents exploring way past the borders of the Main Line.  I remember driving out Lancaster Avenue into Chester County for movies and antique stores.  I remember that there were also drive in movie theaters in Chester County at that time, but I digress.

The Markels house was old school Main Line beauty. The house was large and gracious, but just beautiful and subtle inside. It was also a very livable house.  I think it was because of this summer that a few years later my parents eventually settled in Haverford after a year in Gladwyne.

According to Montgomery County public property records, the people whom eventually bought this lovely house from the Markels sold it to Merion Cricket Club more than a few years ago for a little over $1.5 million:


Unless you lived back on those streets, you really weren’t paying attention to who was selling and who was buying.  I remember before I left the Main Line talks of Merion Cricket Club amassing neighboring properties so they could expand.  I just didn’t pay much attention to it. I was never a member, only ever a guest.

Recently, someone sent me a Zoning notice from Lower Merion Township:

Wow, so now we know why Merion was buying all the properties over the past years, right? They want to become a land locked Main Line Country Club? Forget that the history of the club, and the traditions of the club do not lend themselves to this, that there already are swim clubs and country clubs on the Main Line.  

But given the nouveau Main Line, I completely expect all of these lovely houses Merion Cricket has amassed in these still lovely neighborhoods will fall to the wrecking ball with hardly a whimper.

These are beautiful homes. They are also part of an increasing history of the Main Line no one cares about, or they find it is acceptable to just sacrifice these established and lovely neighborhoods.  This is a change that will impact this area.  For those of us with childhood memories it is sad and / or bittersweet.  I am guessing my own personal memories of a magical childhood summer have surfaced because of this news.

Here is a recent article on the topic:

LM Zoning: Merion Cricket Club seeks demo of club-owned historic homes Viability of club’s future addressed in plan
By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Apr 21, 2017 Updated Apr 21, 2017

Citing the need to attract additional members, officials from the Merion Cricket Club are seeking Lower Merion Township zoning approval of a plan to demolish seven historic homes in Haverford, including those built by famed architect Walter Durham, and repurpose others.

“The club has seen its membership levels drop over a significant period. In order to address the long-term, continued viability of the club, the club has, over the years, acquired the adjoining parcels and has embarked on a master planning process to develop a vision for proposed improvements to the club’s facilities. By providing for improved facilities, the club’s objective is to allow the club to stabilize membership levels, and thereafter return to and sustain its previous membership levels,” according to the application submitted to the Lower Merion Zoning Hearing Board…..The Cricket Club has owned many of the properties for more than a decade and under the plans will demolish houses on Elbow Lane near Cheswold Lane and ones near Grays Lane to the rear of its historic property. Four homes in the center of the Elbow Lane to the rear of the club will be retained and repurposed for other uses.

The Lower Merion Conservancy placed the Durham homes that date back to the early and mid-1900s on its Historic Preservation Watch List last year due to concerns that they would be demolished.


Sometimes things done in the name of “progress” are painful. But I no longer live there, so I write about this as an observer memorializing memories of a summer long ago.

Enjoy the lovely day.

vintage gardening books

Like the late Suzy Bales, another garden writer Chester County native garden writer David Culp inspires. 

Suzy Bales inspired me to truly make my current garden one of four seasons and to plant gardens around our home on all four sides. (I still consider it a work in progress, but it’s getting there.) The books she wrote titled Down to Earth Gardener and The Garden in Winter have truly guided me in my current garden to that end.  They are lovely books that you can find quite reasonably priced new and used on Amazon.com.  Mrs. Bales sadly passed away a year ago this time, but you can still benefit from her knowledge through her books.

David Culp is the author of The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage.  You can also find his book easily on Amazon.com. He is the one that made me see the beauty of layering your garden.  It is something that I have always sort of fidfled with, but his book took it to a whole new level.  

I love my gardening books as much as my cookbooks.

I have been collecting vintage gardening books since I was about 19. They are well loved and well used and much like my cookbooks, I do not lend them out. I totally encourage people to look for vintage gardening books, much like vintage cookbooks they often contain basic, time honored traditions that can get lost in translation in the Internet age.

Long before there was the Internet, Facebook, or Pinterest you relied on your own research. You poured through gardening books, you went on garden tours, you belonged to a local gardening club.

I have always been a rabid gardener, and I love to learn about gardens.  I discovered years ago quite by accident but every time you went to a garage sale or a rummage sale or thrift shop a lot of the books that people got rid of were gardening books and cookbooks.  And many of both kinds of books were as pretty to look at as they were practical for the information contained within them.

To an extent while I am a modern woman I am also an old fashioned woman. I love what people used to call the “home arts” – or making your house a home , creating your garden, decorating your home yourself, and cooking.

Some of the gardening books I have are quite old. And a lot of the ones I have are books of actual gardens, a lot of which no longer exist due to development and progress. Families die off, properties are sold.  It is a sad fact of life. Not every person moving into a house wants to garden. And sometimes depending on where something is located, the property and the gardens don’t survive. Often whomever acquires the property will give people permission to take plants, or buy them from them.

That’s how I ended up with really old hellebores years ago.  

There were a pair of old Victorian houses near the Rosemont, PA train station which had been run down apartments for years and years and finally when they were totally decrepit they were sold to a developer. I contacted the developer before they razed the houses for their condominium project.  For years in spite of watching these two once very cool Victorians deteriorate, I was fascinated by these lovely hellebores that I have never seen anyplace else to this day.  The developer let me take a bucketful of the hellebores. And although the gardens were quite overgrown by this point there were still some remnants of the design left and that was also valuable to check out and commit to my memory for future gardens.

I still look at the photos of these gardens in my books, captured and frozen in time, and the majority of the photos are black and white. They also inspire me.  The gardens of yesterday that only live in photos inside an old book.

These gardens that live only in photos of old books can so spark the imagination if you let them. They are to me as valuable as some people find the photos of gardens on Pinterest today.

Gardening is truly an art form. And how your garden looks is entirely personal. You literally get out of your garden what you put into it and as long as your garden make you happy that is what is important.

Look for garden books you like new and old and let them inspire you in your garden.  Good sources for gardening books, and even cookbooks are (again) locally at a garage or rummage sale, at a resale shop or used bookstore. If you want to go online, check out both Amazon and eBay.  Locally, I have also found many fabulous gardening books at Jenkins Arboretum.

I also love book swaps – if you are finished with the book swap it to a friend for another book.  A gardening book swap is also a great excuse for gardeners to get together!

Happy gardening!

the “art” of gardening

I have a gardening group that’s growing by leaps and bounds. Which makes me happy because I love to garden, and love looking at the gardens of others, and talking about gardens. 

I do not pretend to know everything. I am constantly learning. I think gardening is good for the soul and head in part because if you garden, you are always learning.

I have beds on all four sides of our house. The philosophy is simple: I want flowers everywhere. I am going for four seasons of interest and the late Suzy Bales (who was amazing gardener and garden writer who sadly passed away last spring) inspired me to that. She is not the only gardener or garden writer who has inspired me over te years, but she will always be one of my favorites because what she wrote about speaks to me still.

My current garden is pieces of every garden I have ever had, combined with elements I have admired in other gardens. I draw a lot of inspiration from English and Irish cottage gardens, truthfully.

With a few exceptions I have planted it all myself. Except for things I physically can’t do, I maintain my garden myself. Gardening makes me happy.

You get out of your garden what you put into it. A good garden is the result of trial and error, and what defines a good garden is simple: it makes YOU happy.

For me personally, given the knee injury I have been dealing with for several weeks at this point, this will be the year that tests my garden. But the up shot is I have done basically the majority of the planting, so maintenance will be the key. And hopefully I can find help for that until I am healed.

When you are putting your own garden together, it’s kind of like decorating your house – you draw inspiration from lots of places. Make a garden inspiration board on Pinterest- Pinterest is loaded with gardening stuff! I actually love using Pinterest for garden related things – it is so easy to create a virtual cork board of ideas.

In part that is why I created a gardening group and write about gardening is I believe gardeners inspire each other. And somewhere along the way when you least expect it, you develop your own gardening style.

My gardening style includes garden elements – bird baths, a stone path to dress up a hard to make look pretty area, seating areas, and so on. I also love the idea of creating “nooks”.

I love color and texture and how plants “fit” together. I love that you can plant almost anything in a pot, so it is not just about the garden beds. I love the smells and sounds of the garden and how nature rewards you when you plant.

Gardening is art, and trust me everyone has it in them to create their own artistic oasis. 

Happy gardening.

things that really matter

MBM photo/screenshot

Is this about Chester County? No, although we have our share of homeless too.

This is about the true goodness in human beings that exists in spite of mankind today.

Daily News Columnist Ronnie Polaneczky: Havertown homeless man gets a house for Easter

A chance conversation between two strangers brings a homeless man off the street

Updated: APRIL 15, 2017 — 9:00 AM EDT

Jonathan Sweet knows that Jesus loves him. But until he met Michelle McHugh, he wasn’t sure anyone else did.
“I had almost given up on humanity,” says Sweet, 52, a single, childless Havertown native who was homeless for seven years until a chance meeting with McHugh changed his fortunes. “Not every homeless person is a criminal or an addict. But people treat you like you’re a second-class citizen. It gets you down.”….Last December, he and McHugh were chatting at the 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby. McHugh, who lives in Havertown, was waiting for a train to Philly, where she works as associate director of Drexel University’s television management program….Christmas was approaching. McHugh asked Sweet where he’d spend the day.
 “Over there,” he answered, pointing to a forested area within walking distance of the neighborhood where McHugh lives with her husband, Jim, and their preschool son, Nolan.
“I was shocked,” says McHugh, 43. “While my family was warm inside a nice house, Jon was living in the woods behind us. It was heart-wrenching.”…..On Holy Thursday, Sweet moved into his new home, which is fully furnished thanks to donations and the enthusiastic services of Havertown interior designer Liz MacDonald (who even managed to find a sofa in purple, Jon’s favorite color).

This is but a brief excerpt of the article.  The article is so truly beautiful and moving that I hope everyone who reads this post, will read this article.

I remember when Michelle McHugh started the GoFundMe page to help.

You see, I am lucky enough to call Michelle McHugh a friend. 

Michelle and I met many years ago through our dear mutual friend Sherry Tillman.  Sherry, the proprietoress of Ardmore, PA’s Past*Present*Future is also the founder of First Friday Main Line.

We were planning a non-profit special event to benefit First Friday Main Line called “Foodapalooza” and Sherry tossed Michelle and I and our cameras together one Saturday to photograph chefs and local restaurants. Michelle and I had been introduced, but this was what really brought us together as friends. That and Sherry’s uncanny ability to share her friends and bring more people together.  This was in 2009.

I still love the photos I took that afternoon as I felt they were inspired by the company.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Michelle (who lives with MS) was one of my cheerleaders. Her positivity was contagious and she was one of my friends who buoyed me through quite the life challenge.  She always just checked in. Totally casual, no big deal, how are you doing, you’ve got this.

In 2012 when she and her husband welcomed their miracle baby, I was one of the ones who could cheer her on.  She is an example of unwavering faith and goodness. 

So am I surprised that my friend Michelle took on this project? No, although project is the wrong word because her efforts are so indicative of her heart and soul.

 Michelle is a kind and loving and humble person and she deserves the accolades and a beautiful article by Ronnie Polaneczky.

In the world we live in, it’s easy to tear people down. What’s hard and shouldn’t be, is paying it forward just because it’s the right thing to do.

On the holy weekend that is Easter is the perfect time to hear the story of  Jon Sweet and his friend, who is also my friend, Michelle McHugh.

Sometimes it is hard to believe in the goodness of others, but this is such a reminder of why we just have to believe.  It is also a reminder that it’s the right thing to pay it forward, and that doing good and doing the right thing has rewards more precious than money.

This is also a story of love and friendship and the many forms they both take.

I am so very proud of my friend Michelle.

Happy Easter