the last post of 2022!

The last post of 2022. What a long strange year it has been, right? I don’t think anyone will mind showing the first year post COVID the door.

This afternoon I had my last reminder of why I think this year has been ridiculous when I had an unsolicited reach out from someone today who really was kind of douchey. A stranger no less, but kind of the way the year has been. And when it’s obnoxious outreach it’s always social media. Sometimes that is why it was nice pre-social media: less contact with unpleasant strangers.

It has been quite the year of blogging. It’s feast or famine, love me or hate me. But the thing is, I still write for myself really. I like to write.

I decided to end this year with food-ish post. The recipe as it exists for what I’m making for New Year’s Eve dinner which should be done shortly.

Aldi stores carry these Black Angus boneless beef ribs. I wanted to make something comfort food-ish since we were running around today and had some family obligations. It’s a bummer because we were invited to a fabulous black tie New Year’s Eve party but there was no way we would make it in time.

So what I did was brown the ribs in a dredge of flour and seasoned salt and Herbes de Provence. I pulled them out and set them aside.

Next I deglazed the pan with Marsala wine. Then I added chopped celery, 1 chopped white sweet onion, 1 chopped red onion, and a little head of garlic all chopped up.

When the onion and celery were translucent I added a couple of diced carrots and one container of fresh baby Bella mushrooms and one container of white button mushrooms.

After the remaining vegetables had cooked a bit I added back the beef. Then I added more Marsala and about half of a 32 ounce container of beef stock. Finally I added halved baby Yukon gold potatoes I had pre-cooked a little.

It all went into a 325° preheated oven, and a little over an hour it was all cooked and fork tender. If I make this again, I won’t pre-cook the potatoes and I will do it in a 250° oven, low and slow for a few hours.

It turned out pretty well for a dinner that was just a random thought the other day.

In between today’s obligations, I stopped to pick up a couple of vintage cook books from a vintage and antiques dealer. You know, I love vintage cookbooks! One was put out by the Washington DC Junior League years ago and it’s called Think Christmas, the other was published by Willistown Friends Meeting and called Quaker Flavors.

Anyway, I guess that’s it for 2022. In a little under 3 hours it will be 2023. Kind of hard to fathom. I remember all of the little kid years of New Year’s at my great aunts with Dick Clark on the little TV in their kitchen. They and their lady pals from the neighborhood played cards and drank anisette. At midnight if we were not already asleep, we would get these tiny thimble sized glasses of very watered down anisette to toast along with the ladies!

I would say most of my growing up and even adult years I have stayed home more than I have gone out for New Year’s Eve. I remember a particularly fun New Year’s Eve in my 20s where I went to dinner in Greenwich Village with someone and then to a hysterical off Broadway show called Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. It was one of the longest running off Broadway shows. It was so fun I still remember it .

There were other New Year’s Eves, where I got all dressed up and went to parties, and wondered why I bothered. I think we’ve all had those experiences. But still a lot of fun memories.

Outside I have heard fireworks starting. I am happy to say goodbye to a weird year and all of it’s drama and look forward to 2023.

Cheers and be safe wherever you are!

happy sober eve sounds great!

I think the article below is a really cool story. People who know me, know that I don’t drink so much. And it’s not because I’m an alcoholic, I just don’t drink that much, and I’m also allergic to different kinds of alcohol like red wine, for example.

I have plenty of friends in the “program” whom I support, and applaud because I know it’s hard, brutally hard work at times to maintain sobriety, and I really respect them for it.

As a matter of fact, it was some of my friends in the program helped me look at breast cancer very differently when I was first diagnosed. They told me to look at it as my own 12 step program, and to simply take things one day at a time.

There are some people I know of who aren’t particularly sober at this point in their lives. Sadly, some of these people just haven’t been able to keep it together. I’m not here to judge them, but there are a couple in particular that I really hope get their acts together because every time they go down the rabbit hole of a bad slip or a binge you wonder if they are going to crawl back out alive.

The sad thing about gaining sobriety and maintaining as per what my friends in the program have told me, is that there’s just a lot of work you have to do by yourself, and they’re are just a lot of people who don’t want to do the work.

I have seen too many people over the course of many many years completely tank their existences because of drugs and alcohol.

As a person who doesn’t have to be in any kind of an alcohol or drug related program, I am actually all for supporting a SOBER New Year’s Eve.

As a matter of fact, when all these developers are looking for their new business models, or they want to fill out their new shopping centers, apartment, buildings, or whatever, why don’t they consider an establishment like this out here? How many breweries and pubs do we need? How about a place where you can go and get a good Mocktail?

Here’s to a better 2023 for a lot of people .

Philadelphia Inquirer: FOOD
Spirits are high at The Volstead, Philly’s only sober bar

“It’s ‘Cheers’ without the hangover.”

by Rita Giordano
Updated Dec 28, 2022

The weather outside was frightful, but the warmth of the Main Street bar was so delightful, that one after the other, merry revelers came out of the cold Manayunk night last week to share some season’s cheer at The Volstead.

From the cozy, edgy-chic space arose the sounds of laughter, the chatter of holiday plans, and, of course, plenty of happy imbibing: a seasonal Partridge in a Pear Tree, swanky Manhattans, and, being Philly, the requisite down-and-dirty Citywide Special.

All the festivity you’d expect at a holiday gathering. Except for one thing.

None of those drinks had alcohol. Not a drop.

The Volstead is Philadelphia’s only zero-proof bar. Since it opened last March, its patrons have cheered on the Phillies and the Eagles while hoisting sober brews. They’ve dined from its modern vegan menu, toasted birthdays, and struck up acquaintances.

This Saturday, The Volstead will host a Zero Proof New Year’s Eve Party, ringing in 2023 with nonalcoholic sparkling wine and the kind of high spirits that onlycome from within. The restaurant will be open for dinner and bar snacks, there will be NA drink specials, and no reservations are required. Closing time is 12:30 a.m.

the curious case of the mysterious schmatta scammer and la ronda

La Ronda through trees that also really do not exist any longer. Taken by me 2009

This morning some man contacts my blog. Wants me to sign a boilerplate- from -the -internet licensing agreement so he can use one of my La Ronda photos or more in his “fashion ”

Please note, there was no mention of compensation to me for my images. He just wanted me to let him use them. Uhh no, you are kind of a random schmatta salesman.

Oh, and he sends me his Instagram page of his “fashion.” I wouldn’t call it fashion.

Yes, I know I’ll took a lot of photos of La Ronda before she came down in 2009. But I am also not a charity. And that’s kind of insulting. Someone wants to use my photos so they can make money and I’m just supposed to say “OK here you go, have fun!”

Funny thing about his Instagram page – when it was first in the comment you could see it, but as soon as I followed it after saying no? Page disappeared. Poof! Like magic!

If you ever see La Ronda photos show up being advertised on Instagram on T-shirts please let me know.

La Ronda was something quite emotional for me. I photographed the Addison Mizner mansion’s last few months of life through her gates. With my camera, I recorded the entirety of her demolition. So this schmatta scammer gives me the excuse to talk about La Ronda one more time as a PRIME example of WHY we need historic preservation and WHY what we have in Pennsylvania does not work.

Here is the article my friend Bonnie Cook wrote in 2009 that was one of the last about this amazing castle, because really, La Ronda was like a castle.

La Ronda, the grand Gothic castle that presided over a Bryn Mawr neighborhood for eight decades, is all but gone.

Five minutes after a township demolition permit allowed work to start yesterday morning, the long arm of a yellow excavator took the first bite of the mansion’s facade, sending shards of glass, wood, and stucco crashing to the ground.

The machine’s metal jaws chewed through walls and pieces of the Spanish-style roof. By day’s end, three-quarters of the building was rubble. All that was left of the 51-room house were the three-story tower and a piece of a library.

The demolition contractor said it would be weeks before all remnants of the building were removed. “As you can see, it moves fast,” said Keith Brubacher, who owns Brubacher Excavating Inc.

The building’s fate attracted the attention of preservationists and others who fought the planned demolition of the house designed by Addison Mizner at 1030 Mount Pleasant Rd.

Throughout the day, a stream of onlookers drove or walked by La Ronda – including Gladwyne Elementary School children who shouted “Save La Ronda” out the window of their yellow bus. At dusk, vehicles slowed as occupants snapped photos….The mansion was purchased in March for $6 million by Joseph and Sharon Kestenbaum of Penn Valley behind a pair of corporate identities. Plans were filed with the township to tear it down and replace it with a new house.

Ross Mitchell, vice president of the Lower Merion Township Historical Society, said yesterday he was shocked that a deal could not be struck to save the mansion. “He could have built his house anywhere,” Mitchell said.

Kestenbaum’s spokesman, Jeff Jubelirer, responded, “Mr. Mitchell could have purchased the home or the property and done whatever he wanted. He had from March till Sept. 18 to make an offer and raise the money.

“He didn’t execute, so Mr. Kestenbaum decided to do what he wanted to do in building his family’s home.”… The mechanical excavator, moving on treads like those of a bulldozer, used the rubble to build a platform from which to attack the next wall or roof.

Several times the operator punctured the mansion’s supports with a metal I-beam taken from the house, prompting preservationist Lori Salganicoff to comment: “Do you see what they’re doing?

“They’re using a piece of the building to destroy itself. This is surreal.”

~ bonnie cook philadelphia inquirer october 2, 2009

Remember the La Rondas of this world. And a house doesn’t have to be so grand to be worth saving. And we need state elected officials who give a damn about things like this. I was thinking about that yesterday as the Muppet from Radnor, former Radnor Commissioner Lisa Borowski posed for photos in Harrisburg with her bangs having returned (always a thing when she was a Radnor commissioner – you couldn’t see her face, just her bangs like she was a Muppet) in the PA House Chamber when she located her seat. So now that these folks are elected, will they do things that matter like update the Municipalities Planning Code to save communities from excessive development and get better and meaningful historic preservation and land preservation in place?

Time will tell.

La Ronda as Rubble. Photo by me October 2009

we should listen to our kids: books don’t belong behind bars…

My commentary is simple: don’t these parents in Radnor Township have anything better to do, either? Apparently some homophobic/everything phobic types down in Radnor filed a police report AGAINST the Radnor High School Librarians/Library for having Gender Queer in the library. (There is no police report I can find, although I know one exists, so if you are interested, please file a Right to Know with Radnor Township Police.)

So I don’t know if all of these insecure- about -their- own -sexuality- or- the- potential -sexuality- of- their -children parents all get together in dark rooms and swap war stories, but whomever did this is taking a page out of the Fenica Redman vs. Great Valley School District playbook. The descriptive adjective I have for the taxpayer time and money wasting people like this is ridiculous. If you don’t like a book, don’t read, but make it forbidden fruit or fall on your proverbial sword trying means every kid everywhere will want to read it. I mean, d’oh on that one, right?

These people give their kids Internet access and they are worried about ONE book? Do these people also care about the pariahs they are creating out of their own kids in these schools?

Now this issue has been ongoing in Radnor since November sometime if not earlier, but the words of the students via their own newspaper stopped me in my tracks. These are the words of the kids these “adults” claim to be protecting:

Sammy Rosin/Radnorite: Books Don’t Belong Behind Bars

December 14, 2022

As the hub of the school, students stream in and out of the RHS library all day, in groups or alone, but always feeling welcomed. Any RHS student can tell you about the warm ambience of this space filled with comfortable blue chairs, half-finished chess games, and shelves full of brightly covered books. Senior Sabina Eraso explained, “The RHS Library is not only a place where you can do homework, but also a place where you can hang out with friends and take a break. All of my friends and I love sitting together in the library during lunch and free periods, and we especially enjoy talking to the librarians.”  Even more than the friends, books, and study space that students find in the library, it is the kindness of the librarians, Mrs. Wetzel and Mrs. Richter, that helps so many students feel comfortable here. 

Unfortunately, certain parents in the Radnor School District do not understand or respect the importance of the library, the books within it, or the librarians themselves. On November 6th, a Radnor parent filed a police report about the Radnor High School library having the book Gender Queer available to students. This event occurred just months after a committee of Radnor parents and educators, including Dr. Batchelor, participated in thoughtful discourse that ultimately ended in a vote to keep Gender Queer in the Radnor High School Library. As Common Sense Media describes, Gender Queer: A Memoir is “a comics-style illustrated account of the author’s journey toward understanding nonconforming gender and sexuality.” In 2020, the book received an Alex Award from the American Library Association (ALA), which commends books that have a “special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.” Despite this thorough review and approval from members of the community and the ALA, the parents targeting the book labeled it as “porn” and felt it necessary to report it to the police. 

The trend of parents labeling books that focus on race or LGBTQ+ issues as dangerous or inappropriate has skyrocketed across the country, and Radnor has been no exception. Parents have tried to target books including All Boys Aren’t BlueGeorge, and Lawn Boy – all of which are LGBTQ+ inclusive. As these parents try to insert their belief system into the school for the “safety” of their children, they are simultaneously harming so many others. Sophomore Finn Metzger, who uses They/He pronouns, explained, “Some children are gay, some children are trans, and those children enjoy reading books that reflect their experiences and tell them that everything is going to be okay. It makes me incredibly sad to know that there are some parents out there who would deny their children that feeling of belonging.” The reason that parents have given for targeting books such as Gender Queer usually comes back to “explicit sexual content.” Senior Michael McNicholas drew attention to the hypocrisy of this claim, stating, “I have had to read plenty of books within this school with heterosexual sex scenes and those aren’t getting banned, so why the homosexual ones?” 

Despite parent attempts that started over a year ago to ban books in RTSD, many RHS students are still not aware that this is happening. Finn Metzger pointed out that they usually find out about these attempts through other students, adding that there is a need for “transparency and assurance that [the school administration] won’t give into these parent’s demands” from the school district. He also suggested that “a message on the [RTSD] website or on Schoology saying that [RTSD administrators] won’t stand for this hate would go a long way.”

To students, the RHS library is a place of trust and belonging, and these parents are trying to chip away at that with their attacks. Many students rely on the librarians’ kindness and support each day, but how can we expect them to do their job the same way if they’re threatened for doing it. At Radnor, our librarians do more than help people with books. RHS Executive Director Michael McNicholas emphasized, “One time last year I was about to have a panic attack, and neither my case manager nor the school psychologist was here. I was freaking out, and Mrs. Wetzel was there for me and helped talk me down.” Michael described the two librarians as “godsends” and “true inspirations,” a sentiment shared by so many students at Radnor. In addition, the librarians make great efforts to enhance every single students’ education. Finn Ryan,  class president for the Class of 2024, commented, “We have access to amazing resources that some students may not have access to outside of Radnor. Mrs. Wetzel and Mrs. Richter do a great job of bridging that gap and helping students get access to those resources, and they are able to help you figure out how to use them.” 

Along with the different databases and websites the library provides, books with representation, whether in regards to race, gender, or sexuality, are a critical resource for students. Finn Metgzer explained, “Books can act as the bridge between staying in the closet and coming out. For somebody who knows they’re not cishet but doesn’t have the confidence to do something like join SAGA or enter a queer online space, books can be a fantastic way to learn and experiment with their identity without having to tell other people.” They emphasized that these books help make the library and the school safer for many students, possibly even “safer than at home.”

Any parent is allowed the right to try to protect their children, but when it comes to efforts to ban books, our community really needs to consider who is being harmed in the long run and why parents see certain books as a threat. In surveying nearly 34,000 LGBTQ youth, The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that “LGBTQ youth who live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ people reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide than those who do not.” When parents actively denounce and vilify books that feature LGBTQ+ characters, they send a message to the children in our community. Finn M described that parents targeting certain books conveys the message that “[LGBTQ+ students] will only be accepted if we never talk about our identities and experiences.” He continued, “I was really hurt when I found out that Gender Queer was being targeted last year because I felt that the casual “‘I’m okay with gay people as long as they don’t shove it down my throat’” homophobia that I had sometimes faced at home was making its way into my school.”  Finn R. pointed out, “The books that certain parents might not agree with, just the fact that they’re in [the library] doesn’t really mean anything because someone has to choose to pick up that book. Even if they do choose to pick up that book, the books chosen serve no other purpose than to broaden the scope of understanding and the awareness of people, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing whatsoever.”

As students reach high school, we receive more freedom and more opportunities to make our own decisions. We are told that as high schoolers we now have more responsibility and that we must act as role models for younger students. In keeping with these messages, parents should be able to trust their students to read books that are right for them. Students should have the freedom to experiment and choose independently of their parents’ influence.  As Finn Ryan explained, “It’s sometimes a little insulting to students to think that just picking up a book means that we’re indoctrinated and learning all of these new things that we’ve never been exposed to before.” RTSD parents need to understand that while a high schooler can easily make the choice not to take a certain book off the shelf, if that book is not there in the first place, then so many students, including those who may be struggling with their identity, will be deprived of a safe outlet. 

We, as adults, need to actually listen to the kids at times. No, they may not legally be able to make their own decisions, but we need to rid our school districts of parents who feel they should act in the interest of EVERY kid, EVERY parent, EVERY everyone and they do not in fact speak for, nor have the ability to represent everyone. They don’t care about anyone other than themselves. They are selfish and ugly minded people who feel ALL of our rights don’t matter no matter how we feel, only theirs. Seems to me they need a basic refresher course on the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence but I am sure they are trying to ban those works from libraries and bookshelves as well.

Kids have enough issues being kids today without this nonsense. And it is nonsense. The phobias of the few, should not always be everyone in general’s problem.

The words of this student are profound and true. I hope someone gives Sammy Rosin a college scholarship somewhere so she can continue writing. Maybe adults should stop and listen?

To Sammy Rosin I say, brava, well done. And thank you.

retired epa official to pa dep: get busy in east whiteland at bishop tube site(s).

I was finally watching the replay of the December 14, 2022 East Whiteland Township Meeting. Here is the full recording:

Now quite honestly, I was not watching the meeting for any other reason that it was the last Supervisors Meeting of the year. No particular issue was driving me to the record.

Up for discussion came 9 and 10 Malin road. 9 Malin Road and 10 Malin Road are parcels adjacent to what we all know as the Bishop Tube site. But apparently unless I misheard, these two parcels were originally PART of what was once Bishop Tube.

Truthfully I am ambivalent about businesses over there. But I still feel strongly about whatever goes wherever that the PA DEP actually gets the clean up done. The PA DEP announced something in September. Haven’t heard anything since. (PA DEP Page for Bishop Tube found here)

So imagine my surprise when Sarah Caspar who is retired from the EPA showed up at the East Whiteland meeting to speak. She basically asked East Whiteland officials what they were waiting for with regard to the PA DEP and this area. Went into details about chemicals. She also called out the PA DEP, essentially telling them to get off of their collective asses and clean the place up so whatever is going to happen over all of what was once Bishop Tube as in the site in it’s entirety can happen. Whether it’s commercial use or residential use, the area needs to be cleaned up and has needed this for DECADES. She also reminded East Whiteland of the literal bad plumes that go under Lancaster Ave, “down east” to People’s Light property etc, etc.

Here are all of her comments:


Listening is a skill that a lot of people lack. It kind of goes into that same category of people not having empathy, or basic reading comprehension.

Two people hurt me on Christmas Day. They are people in my world that you would think knew better. Yet somehow, they, never, ever do. My husband sighed and said to me essentially it would hurt less if I accepted they would never change. One also made me angry by going to my husband instead of me like I am in fact a 1950’s housewife bobblehead.

To my husband I say, I know you are right. And yes I am admitting that out loud so write down the date and time. But my rational mind, knowing and accepting that they won’t change, is sort of caught between a rock and a hard place because my emotional self took a punch to the emotional guy on Christmas Day. That kind of damages the magic quality we all hope for on Christmas.

That being said, I committed social media taboo yesterday by posting how I really felt. Now we all know we are never, ever supposed to do that. We are supposed to live our best, fake Facebook and Instagram lives at all times.


Just because I vent and am honest about how I am feeling doesn’t mean I am loosing my marbles. I just had something to say and said it. Out loud. So it stopped running unchecked in my head.

Maybe that makes me odd or unusual because I am not living my best fake life on Facebook and Instagram, but I am actually O.K.

Venting is actually quite healthy. You all should stop worrying about how it looks and just do it once in a while.

When I wrote about it initially I said all I was doing was venting. I was NOT looking for opinions, advice, or free social media psychological analysis. Four dear friends from different stages of my life village got this completely.

One friend knew I needed to talk it out, so she gave up a good part of her morning for me and we had an awesome catch up in addition. She has recently moved into a new how out of state, so I appreciate the time truly.

Another friend, from a similar background including that of our fathers growing up, totally got where I was coming from. She has always been very intuitive that way.

A third friend, actually a classmate of my sister’s originally, also gets it. And she has been through a lot in her life, so I deeply respect her for surviving all of that and getting me.

The fourth? Just gets me, flaws and all 100% of the time and always has. She pulls no punches and will flat out go 100% Jersey on me if she thinks I am wrong.

Then there were people who messaged me was I O.K..? Yes, I am O.K., but I can’t just turn the other cheek on everything nor pretend bad behavior especially at Christmas is even remotely O.K..

And that is the biggest thing of all with this: it is Christmas. I work so hard to make Christmas magical for my world. Is it too much to ask for some not in my world every day to at least pretend for one day? I get I am not particularly important to them, that I make them uncomfortable for not being more like them. I get all that. Truthfully, I have to be me, whether they like that or not. But damn if I don’t keep hoping, thinking, wishing, wanting that they would be different.

Back to yesterday. Some took the social media path of essentially NOT listening to what I was saying. People, listen. Not just to me, but everyone in your world. And sometimes, like it is all about all of you, it is actually about someone else, and their feelings. Yesterday was bout MY feelings, not how you thought I should be feeling.

We all have to be selfish for ourselves at times, but the trick is recognizing that happening and that is is a temporary thing. Nothing fatal, not particularly permanent, but people occasionally just have to work through shit, even if it makes YOU uncomfortable.

I am working through a few things, and on Christmas Day, I realized sadly that how I feel when interacting with certain people, only hurts me, not them. To them I am not even really a blip on the radar. To realize on Christmas that fact of my life once again that the best course of action is to remove myself from the way some are and to just live my life is the best thing for me, is super hard. To realize you are not accepted or understood after expressing how you feel is so hard at any time. And I guess that is why I have sympathy in society for those whom the rest of or part of society feels the need to shame and bully and change and put down.

But what is that old adage? We can only control our feelings and behavior, not the feelings and behavior of others? O.K. note to self: go back to listening to yourself. Take your power back.

And I am not talking about taking back power on anything bad, just looking in the mirror and realizing you are not a bad person just because some people will never get the core or essence of you.

And if I want to vent, people, I will. It is far healthier to get things out then to chew on in, internalize it, let it fester. Have an emotional coming out party. We can’t always do everything at the expense of self to make others more comfortable as they steam roll over our feelings.

Emotional independence is a hard jam. Why? Because we all have that inner child wanting someone to make the boo boo better. Sadly, things only get better if we take those steps for ourselves.

And next time before your tiny keyboard runneth over on someone else’s social media page because they are shock and horrors living a real and more authentic life even on social media the land of narcissists, poseurs and fake it until you make types, hit the pause button. Maybe you should just let them vent. A very old fashioned notion that pre-dates social media, but often not a bad idea.

There, it’s out of my system. If you were able to listen, thanks for listening.

david’s grandmother’s pound cake

About two years ago my friend David randomly (and finally) gave me his grandmother’s poundcake recipe. I hadn’t made it yet until today, and finally did so as I was thinking about him this morning.

We lost David this year to a tragic, and senseless accident caused by a stranger. He was literally hit by a car as a pedestrian. It was a particularly hard lost process, because this was one of my oldest friends. He was also just a tremendous human being, and one of those genuinely good people you feel very fortunate to have known.

I always think of David around Christmas, because we used to go for decades with our parents to the same Christmas party on Christmas Eve. We would congregate in the host’s library away from all the adults and hang out.

We also went to JDA and SDA together, AKA Junior and Senior Dancing Assemblies for those of you Who did not grow up in the Main Line area. I always wondered if they ever found the remains of old stale pretzels we shoved down the heating grates at Merion Tribute House in the lobby. We shared many laughs there as Mrs. Farber in her gold lamé evening gowns, and her aqua net shellacked hair tried to civilize all of us. Mostly for all of us, it was like a bloodsport, trying to make her blow her stack at every dance we went to.

We always stayed friends, losing a connection for a year or two here or there as we grew up and lives took us to different states and locations per-Internet/social media. But as friends, we always found our way back to each other. When social media came around, it made it much easier to stay connected and we would talk or message more often. And then there was the one time he finally sent me his grandmother’s pound cake recipe. She made it with currants and walnuts, which makes it in my mind a perfect Christmas cake.

I did not have any currants left after baking, so I substituted this raisin mix I get from I also did add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. It’s a straightforward recipe and it is not super sweet which I kind of like because Christmas cookies are so sugary.

I will admit, I was laughing when I was making the pound cake because it is a little bit labor-intensive given the nature of the batter. And I was laughing, because as I am creaming the butter, I’m getting stuff everywhere as I’m adding the sugar, then the eggs, and so on, and so forth. And my friend David was one of the neatest people I ever met, so I really was laughing.

I think in the end, it did not take quite two hours to bake this cake at 325°, but it did take probably an hour and a half and a few minutes.

It’s a wonderfully old-school buttery pound cake. For me, the 2 cups of eggs amounted to 9 raw eggs. Yes, you break them into a measuring cup.

Anyway, I don’t know if I will be posting more before Christmas or not. It’s been a weird year, and I hope you all enjoy your Christmas holiday with your loved ones and friends and family.

We also have our first fire in the woodstove tonight, and it is the perfect evening for it!

….and to all a good night.

scrooge, still a timely character. file under: life lessons for christmas.

Ebenezer Scrooge. One of the most remembered characters in literature. Created by Charles Dickens in the 19th century for A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol was published December 19, 1843. 179 years ago this year. And the characters are still relevant today…179 years later.

The most recognizable and remembered of the characters is Scrooge. Also his clerk, Bob Cratchit. In his time Bob was the symbol in Victorian England of the overworked, essentially abused working class person. Long hours, low pay. The irony of course? This also sounds like today, doesn’t it?

In a Christmas Carol the Ghost of Christmas Present debunks Ebenezer Scrooge’s “un Christian” beliefs on religion and the “sabbath” in the context of business. This ghost also talks about how many people who claim a religious justification for their actions, yet in reality live literally not getting or caring about the true meaning of Christianity. Sort of a do as I say, not as I do thing and utter hypocrisy. Now today, we experience that hypocrisy of true Christians every day. You know like Stepford Wives for Totalitarianism and their ilk?

In any event this ghost thinks man should judge morality by the deed, not by how a man doing describes/labels his actions. Under the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present are two ragged spirit figures. They are supposed to be like starving children.

The identities of the sprit figures are “Ignorance and Want.” I have never been sure that was other than the proverbial metaphorically speaking of it all: this ghost cares for these children because society, or man, should care for ignorance and want always, and not just talk about it. For the good of mankind.

There are some on this earth of yours… who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us….they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. The boy is Ignorance. The girl is Want. Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.

~ghost of christmas present in a christmas carol

I started thinking about the metaphors in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol again a few years ago, when I read this article in The Guardian, a U.K. paper. I was able to find it again:

The Guardian: Ignorance and Want: why Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is as relevant today as ever

By Chris Priestley
Wed 23 Dec 2015

…A Christmas Carol is more than just a story. It is a tirade against greed, selfishness and neglect. It uses the story of a rich man – the startlingly nasty Scrooge – to highlight the plight of those affected by the greed and meanness he exemplifies.

The famous child in A Christmas Carol is poor “Tiny” Tim Cratchit but there are two others. When Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, he is shocked when two wild and ragged children tumble out from the giant’s robes.

He thinks they must belong to the giant, but he tells Scrooge that they are Man’s. He tells him the boy is called Ignorance and the girl Want.

“Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy…”

Every Christmas through the 70s (I was now on a council estate in Newcastle where snow was more familiar), the BBC showed an Oscar-winning animated version of the story by Richard Williams, with Alistair Sim voicing Scrooge. It is beautifully animated in a style that evokes the John Leech illustrations from the original publication, but whereas the children are fairly bland creations in those engravings, here they are snarling beasts. I was – and remain – fascinated by them.

It is a brief moment in the story but surely a key moment – and a big part of why the story is still so relevant. Ignorance and Want remain the prime movers behind so many of the worlds ills….But Dickens was having a go at his complacent readers – he was chastising them about their own ignorance…


A Christmas Carol is actually life lessons wrapped in a Victorian Christmas story. Allow me to liberally quote an article by a professor at Indiana University named Richard Gunderman in a publication called The Conversation:

…The story begins on Christmas Eve. The “grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner” Ebenezer Scrooge is toiling in his office, where he turns away two fundraisers seeking to provide for the poor, rudely rebuffs his nephew Fred’s invitation to Christmas dinner and berates his underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit, for expecting to get Christmas Day off with pay.

At home that night, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his partner Jacob Marley, who “died seven years ago, this very night.” Now wandering the earth dragging heavy chains forged by his own avarice, Marley warns Scrooge that he will meet the same fate if he does not listen to the three spirits who will visit him during the night.

The first of the spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past, takes Scrooge to scenes from his earlier life, where he is reminded that he was once a kinder and gentler person….

he reexperiences what it is like to be lonely at the holidays until he is rescued by his sister. He then visits the holiday party of his employer, Mr Fezziwig, who despite modest means embodies the spirit of celebration.

He then sees his younger self with his fiancée Belle, to whom he intended to devote the rest of his life, until he was gradually overmastered by the love of money. Belle eventually breaks their engagement and marries another man, whose large and happy family Christmas the ghost takes Scrooge to witness.

The Ghost of Christmas Present whisks Scrooge to celebrations of Christmas in different settings throughout the land. They then travel to the home of Fred, who valiantly defends his uncle against criticism, choosing to pity rather than condemn him. Then Scrooge finds himself at the modest holiday feast of the Cratchit family, where he meets Tiny Tim, their ailing youngest child, and learns that unless the course of events changes, this will be the boy’s last Christmas. Finally, the ghost shows Scrooge two starving children, Ignorance and Want…The ghost of Christmas Yet to Come transports Scrooge to the holiday one year later, where he witnesses the reactions of various people to the recent death of a “wretched man.” A businessman states that he will attend the funeral only if a lunch is provided, and various people sell stolen items from the dead man’s estate to a fence. The only people who feel any emotion at his passing are debtors who now have more time to repay their loans. After returning to the Cratchit home, where Scrooge sees the family mourning the passing of Tiny Tim, he is taken to a neglected grave, where to his horror, he sees the name Ebenezer Scrooge.

Dickens was always about teaching us lessons. Read any article about A Christmas Carol especially, and you will see that it is a cautionary tale wrapped in a tale of redemption. Dickens refers to the lessons of the present to see the effects on the present and into the future. He also makes us think about how the past influences it all.

That should give you chills, because this is so very true today. And it’s that old thing about ignoring the past means we are doomed to repeat terrible things. That is why some history, although unpleasant, should not be made to disappear. Look what the dumbing down of America has currently given us. If we don’t persist in being and doing better, where will we all end up?

I have felt this way since before the onset of our COVID-19 world view existence. But COVID and the Trump years and Trump mentality have definitely thrown us into a post Victorian world that once again shows the vast chasms of life between the haves and the have nots.

We live in a world full of exceedingly selfish and mean people a lot of the time. That is not being a Debbie Downer, as anyone in corporate America and they will tell you it’s a harsh and true reality.

Take this time of the year, for example. It’s the time of year when employees receive year end bonuses. Only that is at the discretion, more like whim, of corporate overlords. I have remarked before about the year of the canned Polish Ham or a box of chocolates that then Prudential Securities offered hard working sales assistants, other support staff, and operations personnel in the early to mid 80s while the stock brokers all got fat, monetary bonuses. I know it happened, because I was literally there. Essentially all of the people who slaved to make brokers look good, got the short end of the stick. If you were lucky a broker gave you a monetary bonus, but it was not a requirement.

Total Scrooge moments, indeed back then.

Then there was always working in an office where the proverbial office pets got bonuses, and the rest? Nothing. It didn’t matter how hard you worked, you were just forgotten. You got to watch as others received bonuses, as you were deliberately overlooked. Yet another Scrooge moment, but then you figure Karma is a bitch and everything that goes around will come around eventually. The universe is funny and true that way. Oh wait, another Dickens lesson, correct?

And then there were the generous and kind bosses. I had a few of those over the years. They remembered Christmas and the actual spirit of the season. If not with a monetary bonus, then a nice gift. I wonder, do those bosses still really and truly exist?

But there will always be the bosses who will Bob Cratchit as many as possible, whenever possible. For them, it is always how much money they can make, and everyone else is well, kind of expendable. I do believe those people will indeed have a reckoning. We may never see it, but it will happen. These are a lot of the people who end up terribly alone…wait for it….like Ebenezer Scrooge.

The holidays are supposed to be pleasant, and while business might always be business, it seems like today more than ever you hear these tales of being Scrooged. And here we are supposed to be living in a world and a time where worker bees are supposed to be respected and have rights, but do they?

We will always live in a world where the next guy might have a lot more, or a lot less. But it’s all about how do we deal with this in our world, isn’t it? It’s also about being kind once in a while.

My critics like to tell me I am not kind. That I am mean. But am I really, or is it just about speaking my truth? That’s for them to figure out, incidentally. I know who I am, and my self-worth.

Now I know speaking my truth comes with a cost. My cost is corporate America. I am like a whistleblower after a fashion, so they will shun me until I am of retirement age. So it is a good thing I am content as being self-employed, a variation on a gig worker. I use my talents for various gigs of varying durations. I am not and will never be wealthy, but it has become enough. That probably makes some uncomfortable because I should want more. But what will more get me precisely?

When more becomes too much, and more of too much becomes the focus you get the Scrooges. Self focused, bullying, miserly, cold. No spirit of generosity. Lacking in actual joy about anything.

So sure, would it be nice to have more? Yes, because having a little more makes paying the bills easier. But our society has become one where we live seemingly only to work, and there is no balance. And those who crave balance, are often punished for that. If you think about it, we seemingly live in a world at times which punishes us for being happy or even wanting to be happy.

We all deserve to be happy, don’t we? So maybe we have to hit the pause button and reflect? We all struggle at times, right? So why can’t we reflect and be human and move forward?

Life is short. Re-read A Christmas Carol and learn from it. Hopefully it is not on a banned or book burning list somewhere. Life and Dickens, still true today.

Thanks for stopping by.

why is historic and rotting lloyd farmhouse in caln not secured?

So I haven’t written about the Lloyd Farmhouse in Caln forever. As you recall, it was also a big story in The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2019.

The Lloyd farmhouse is older than the nation. Caln Township residents are fighting for its survival.

A developer has obtained a demolition permit for the Lloyd family’s 1757 farmhouse.

by Vinny Vella
Updated March 7, 2019

So it is now five days before Christmas in 2022. Nothing has happened except once again, Lloyd farmhouse is not secure. How I learned about this today was from someone whose dog got loose and they went in a panic across the field stopping the dog just before the entrance of the house.

This is not someone who’s been involved with this issue. They sent me photos and videos taken from outside the house asking me if this is the same house I used to write about. And I said yes it was.

So what I want to know, is why Caln Township is looking the other way? This house is for all intents and purposes, a construction site, correct? So legally, isn’t it supposed to be secured?

The inside apparently is more trashed than ever. I’m wondering if the owner of the property is just waiting for me to post something like this or for someone /anyone to post something like this, so they have an excuse to take it down because there’s nothing stopping them from getting a demolition permit?

Except Caln Township, hello? Why is everything look the other way in your neck of the woods? Of course, however, this does give me the opportunity to point out once again how this is a historic resource that is rotting to the point it’s criminal.

Now nothing has been built on the site and it’s been a few years, so is nothing going to get built? I’m guessing given the economy in the way rates have been the answer is nothing is happening right now. And since nothing is happening right now then perhaps the property owner should be securing the property or the township should be doing it for him and sending him a bill?

I also seem to recall that there were supervisors elected that were supposed to help with issues like this? Are they still there? What happens when kids decide to explore over here because you know they will and obviously have been, and what not f something bad happens?

Merry Christmas, Caln residents. This is another fine example of your government at work. And yes, Caln Township I can indeed have this opinion. Just like I can have the opinion that this is still one of the finest examples in Chester County of demolition by neglect. Such a time honored tradition.

Last word? This beautiful farmhouse, which is a prime example of the Chester County style of farmhouses, also predates the American Revolution, and nobody gives a shit. Yeah, you can still see even in this state of disarray her good bones.