this is why artists are drawn to our area

Yesterday with the storms was also a marvelous day for photographers. Here are some that I took.

This is why we need more open space preservation and fewer fields of ticky tacky plastic mushroom houses.

bucket list: tickets to antiques roadshow

Waiting in line to be “triaged” at Antiques Roadshow

It only took about 15 years, but I finally got tickets to Antiques Roadshow! Tickets are a lottery process – you apply and hope you get tickets. But 2019 was my year, and in February I got the magic email that said I had won tickets for filming at Winterthur, which was today.

The drive to Winterthur once you get off the highway is magical. My friend Amy went with me as my Antiques Roadshow plus one.

We arrived and wound our way through Winterthur and the Antiques Roadshow checkpoints along the way.

We parked in one of the lots and meandered down a shady path to a building where we checked in with our tickets.

When we reached the check-in building, we then had our tickets checked again and we got in a longer line to queue up for shuttle buses.

The shuttle buses took us further into Winterthur where we assembled in yet another line and waited to be “triaged”.

Being “triaged” means they preview the two items that each Antiques Roadshow ticket holder can bring with them. We then get our tickets that list the categories our items fall into. I bought a book and a little Chinese porcelain box I picked out of a barn. My friend Amy bought some other decorative arts category items to be appraised.

It was waiting in this line that Amy and I encountered our first few grumpy old women ticket holders.

I had taken a photo of the “triage” that we were waiting for and the Winterthur building rising beyond it that we would eventually go into and this super cranky old woman with her two cranky wing women had to point out the sign a good ways up ahead where we would be in a cell phone free zone. With filming and other things they wanted our phones off, which was understandable.

But honestly this group of three cranky old women with their fearless leader of multiple comments was a bit much. I smiled and said we hadn’t reached the point of turning off our phones yet and I was taking a picture of the line leading to the building because I was writing about my Antiques Roadshow experience afterwards. She mumbled some final huffy comment and they shuffled off to their “triage” x 3.

First stop post “triage” was having my book looked at. It was a 1950s Modern Library edition of Robert Frost poetry that Robert Frost had signed up at St. Paul’s School when he was visiting as part of I think their Conroy Distinguished Visitors Program.

I love Robert Frost poetry. I had picked up this volume out of a box of books marked 25 cents at the Christmas Bazaar at the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr at some point in the 1990s.

After I had given the book room volunteer their quarter, I flipped it open to check the table of contents so I could read The Road Not Taken. What I discovered next was Robert Frost had signed the book to a student. And then the book was stamped Waverly Heights Library (as in the senior living community in Gladwyne.)

I had always wanted to have this book looked at to see what it was worth. Not because I expected it to be priceless but out of curiosity.

So I stood in the book line until it was my turn. Ken Gloss of Brattle Book Shop in Boston appraised it. Mr. Gloss was kind of antiseptic about my book. He had to point out it was a student edition so the book wasn’t worth much. He didn’t love my book as I love my book. He valued it at $100 because of the poet’s signature.

Next stop was Asian Art. My appraiser was Robert Waterhouse. He and Lark Mason were doing appraisals in a courtyard in front of the Chinese Pavilion Folly. It’s actually part of a current garden art installation. He appraised a green and white Chinese porcelain box I have.

Mr. Waterhouse was very nice and my box which cost me the princely sum of $2 is a modern 20th century Chinese box worth about $20. So while my box might not be the next great artifact, it’s still a treasure to me! And Mr. Waterhouse took the time to explain to me what to look for if I ever found another box.

My friend Amy had her items appraised and was verbally accosted by yet another grumpy old lady. This one was concerned about her umbrella which was neatly folded up and not accosting anyone.

The Antiques Roadshow made for amazing people watching. And it was fun seeing everyone’s treasures while we were waiting in line. There was a couple ahead of me in the book appraisal line with a really unusual box who got whisked away by producers and there was a man to my left that show producers were talking to who had this crazy cool Civil War porcelain pitcher and some other Civil War memorabilia item that was a textile of some kind.

It was really interesting watching them do the show. We learned that for the folks they filmed although we will only see a couple of quick minutes when the Winterthur shows air, they actually take a lot of time with people. We certainly didn’t feel rushed. I didn’t get the warm and fuzzies from the book appraiser that was for sure, but he wasn’t as bad as all of the cranky old women.

Seriously – for all the excited happy people like us who were having a ball being at the one and only Antiques Roadshow, there were literally these legions of cranky old women. It was bizarre to watch. I am not a patient person and hate waiting in lines and I loved every minute! And the Antiques Roadshow staff? They were all so nice! It was amazing!

On our way into the gift shop and ladies room we met the current Ms. Maryland! She was my first beauty queen and couldn’t have been nicer!

We somehow missed the famous feedback booth and then were on our way back to the car. We both thought it was over too soon. It totally lived up to our expectations.

On our way home we were going to go to Buckley’s Tavern for dinner, but we ended up at Brandywine Prime.

Why?

Because when we pulled into the parking lot of Buckley’s walking into the front door was the first gaggle of cranky old women we encountered standing in the “triage” line! We looked at each other and burst out laughing and said with our luck we would get seated next to them and be under their disapproving stare for dinner.

We had a great dinner at Brandywine Prime and headed home. Amusingly enough, the Philadelphia Inquirer was there covering the Roadshow:

The 5 best finds from Antiques Roadshow’s Delaware taping

by Stephanie Farr, Updated: June 18, 2019 – 6:46 PM

Delaware News Journal was there too:

How many ‘Antiques Roadshow’ lovers can you cram into Winterthur? A lot

BETSY PRICE | DELAWARE NEWS JOURNAL | 5 hours ago

I highly recommend that people fill out the application for the ticket lottery if Antiques Roadshow is ever coming to your neck of the woods. It was so much fun!

when good conquors evil eminent domain you get lavender fields

Long ago is what feels to be now another lifetime, I was part of the original Save Ardmore Coalition. We were ordinary people who banded together to save friends’ and neighbors’ businesses from eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore PA.

Along our journey the wonderful people at the Institute for Justice helped us and taught us and encouraged us. Through IJ we also met some amazing and inspirational people.  (and if your community is facing eminent domain check out the Castle Coalition part of the IJ website.)

Here straight from IJ (Institute for Justice’s website success stories):

Pennsylvania
Ardmore
Through the grassroots and political processes, a citizens group called the Save Ardmore Coalition (SAC) successfully defeated Lower Merion Township’s attempt to seize and bulldoze 10 thriving businesses in Ardmore’s charming historic district. When it comes to grassroots activism, the SAC did it all — rallies, protests, publicity campaigns and coordinated efforts to unseat local officials who supported eminent domain abuse. Its members testified before state and local bodies urging the reform of eminent domain laws, attended the Castle Coalition’s national and regional conferences, and worked with the media to bring attention to their battle. In March 2006, the Township took its condemnation threats off the table — no doubt in response to the public outcry generated by the SAC.

Valley Township
It cost Nancy and Dick Saha $300,000 of their retirement savings and six hard years, but they prevailed in their bout with the City of Coatesville. The couple bought their Pennsylvania farmhouse in 1971, making lifelong dreams of owning a small horse farm a reality. With their five children, the Sahas moved to Chester County and restored their charming 250-year-old residence. Truly a family farm, two of their daughters married and built their family homes on the land, giving Nancy and Dick the chance to see their five grandchildren grow up next door.

When Coatesville threatened to take their property by eminent domain to build a golf course—plans for which didn’t even include their farm in the first place—the Sahas remained fully committed to a grassroots battle. They submitted three petitions, protested at local meetings and took their fight to court. Ultimately, the city council backed off when the Sahas pushed to elect new representatives, agreeing to purchase five acres that the Sahas had offered to give the government for free at the beginning of the dispute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Sisters Transformed Their Family’s Chester County Farm Into a 42-Acre Lavender Oasis
Amy Saha and Joanne Voelcker, the owners of Wagontown’s Mt Airy Lavender, have dedicated themselves to growing and harvesting seven different varieties of the plant.
BY LISA DUKART

In the heart of Chester County, there’s a little piece of Provençe, France, thanks to sisters Amy Saha and Joanne Voelcker. On their 42-acre Wagontown farm, some 1,200 lavender plants flourish. In the warm months, those fields are abuzz with bees and butterflies. They flit from plant to plant, drunk on the heady scent the flowers release as they sway in the breeze.

Creating and maintaining such an idyll has been no small feat. Saha and Voelcker’s Mt Airy Lavender has required years of dedication and hard work. Their parents bought the farm in 1971, moving their family from Media to the homestead just outside Coatesville. With love and care, its rundown 48 acres began to thrive.

Years later, in 1991, the city of Coatesville tried to build on the property, claiming eminent domain. After a six-year legal battle, the family won, losing just six acres in the process. As their parents aged, preserving the land they fought so hard to protect became more and more important to the sisters. They couldn’t bear to see it sold.

Over the years, Saha and Voelcker built their own homes on the farm to be near their parents. The houses sit on either side of a long, shaded driveway that wends by pastures where horses can be seen cropping the grass. One lavender field is right behind Voelcker’s home. She began planting it in 2012, a year after she and her husband returned from a five-year stay in Brussels. “I worked and lived over there,” says Voelcker, the former head of client insight and marketing technology at Vanguard. “I got a chance to visit the South of France, and I just fell in love with the lavender.”

Please take the time to read the entire article. It’s so wonderful. I am so happy for the Sahas and this new success I am am all choked up with emotion.  It is so awesome to hear about nice things happening to nice people in a world that some days is truly nuts.

I can’t wait to visit the farm on open farm days.  Via their Facebook page for Mt. Airy Lavender I found their website.

They have great products they make that you can order online and they hose all sorts of events .

Events that interest me are the upcoming open farm days and I hope my husband will want to check it out:

Visit us when the lavender is expected to be in bloom – Mt Airy Lavender Open Houses – Sat. June 22, Sun. June 23, Sat. June 29, Sun. June 30
Come visit Mt Airy Lavender these weekends when we expect the lavender to be in bloom. Shop our products, bring your cameras and a picnic lunch. Fresh cut lavender and a variety of lavender products will be available for purchase. We aren’t normally open to the public, so this is a great opportunity to enjoy the farm. Please note – we lost quite a bit of lavender due to all the rain and lack of sun. We are in the process of replanting. The farm is still quite beautiful so we hope to see you at our Open Houses.

We will be open 11 am to 4pm on:

Saturday, June 22 & Sunday, June 23

Saturday, June 29 & Sunday, June 30

Note: Bees love lavender, please be aware that bees will be attending the Open House as well. If you are allergic to them, please take special precautions!

Click here for directions to their slice of heaven.

What else makes me happy? Not just that this is still a farm and was saved, but how farmers in Chester County get creative to exist in today’s world.  See? We don’t need fields of plastic mushroom houses, we can have things like fields of lavender instead!

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Another view of the Saha Farm today courtesy of Mt. Airy Lavender 

what is on your bedside table to read?

So what books are on your bedside table or queued up on your tablet? I love to read so I am never happier when piles of novels await me.

My summer reading so far includes:

The Beneficiary by Janny Scott – as a native Philadelphian you have to be curious.

A Discovery of Witches and the companion novels by Deborah Harkness. I blame these books on the BBC series based upon these books. Great series and the books so far? Awesome!

Wild Fire and the other Shetland series novels by Ann Cleaves. I have been obsessed with the ITV series Shetland for a few years (BritBox on Amazon), so it’s time to dig into the novels.

In Search of Lost Roses by Thomas Christopher. Not a novel but a repeat read about 20 years later. It’s about people who hunt old, antique and forgotten roses. Rose rustlers.

Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline. Yes a long time Lisa fan girl from way back when she was starting out as a new novelist and I met her a few times at signings at Barnes and Noble in Bryn Mawr (sadly the location is now a drug store.) Back then my mother booked the events and Lisa Scottoline was one of her picks.

Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens. I have no idea what I will think but my mother and stepfather both think this is an amazing book!

Let me know what you are reading! I will close that I am also reading gardening books by people like Helen Dillon and Monty Don.

one development that is looking good in chester county

I am not a fan of the color scheme which was chosen (too blah beige) but the new apartment building on King in Malvern Borough really looks good. It’s not quite done as you can see from the lawn that isn’t a lawn yet, but I like it.

They put a lot of time and attention into architectural design and detail. And it’s all the way around the building not just a false front, which is the case most of the time.

Everyone always thinks I hate every bit of development. The truth is, I don’t. When you have people like this who are thoughtful about what their finished product is going to be I totally respect that. These people put a lot of time and effort into trying to make their building blend with the surrounding area and structures. It’s a modern building with homage to the past.

for the love of goats

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One of the New Kids on The Block at Yellow Springs Farm

Ha! That title caught your eye, eh gentle readers?

Good! I love my Yellow Springs Farm goats! Well they aren’t really my goats but I love them. And every year, this time of year Yellow Springs Farm has open farm weekends :

Sat, 05/18/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Sun, 05/19/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Yellow Springs Farm Native Plant Nursery and Artisanal Goat Cheese Dairy, will be having our Springs Native Plant sale over 2 weekends in May. Originally a dairy farm 150 years ago,the farm and nursery consists of an historic farmhouse, dairy barn, a springhouse with pond on 8 acres of land. We grow native plants, design and install native landscapes and produce over 25 varieties of fresh and aged artisanal goat cheeses. So come on out and take a picture on our Open Farm day weekends(May 11th/12th and May 18th and 19th) with our Nubian Goats, sample cheeses, and see our blooming wildflowers! Plant experts will be available to help you select plants for your garden or landscape plan.

It’s a little slice of heaven. The goats are total characters. The plants are awesome – I have planted three gardens with them now. And the goat cheese and yogurt? Award winning for a very good reason – totally delicious.

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People visiting with the goats this weekend.

I have known the farmers Catherine and Al Renzi for years.  I remember back to circa 2001 when they decided to start their farm and when they bought it.

Over the years a well-deserved following has developed and the event has grown…as in the number of visitors increases every year. And this is where I am going to open my big mouth because it is a distinct privilege being able to visit Catherine and Al’s farm. And no, I don’t work or speak for the farm, I am speaking my mind based upon what I saw out of guests this year that I thought wasn’t the best behavior ever considering these farmers open up their farm (where they live and work) to all of us. 

Let’s start with parking.  They know their farm and their road so they tell you quite politely where to park.  That doesn’t mean the road and it doesn’t mean parking in roped off areas of the farm or blocking people in or even taking what amount to multiple spaces. Be polite, you are a guest.

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This is a farm. Not a dog park.

Pets.  This weekend people bought their dogs. Yes their dogs like it was a dog park.  It’s not a dog park, it’s a working farm with valuable animals including the farm’s own dog.  It is simply not fair to presume YOUR pets are welcome.  Keep them at home. Please. That’s like bringing uninvited guests to a sit-down dinner party.

The goats.  The goats are lovely creatures who are independent minded.  So listen to the goat herders. They know their charges.  And please do not feed their charges.  They have plenty of their own food.  Yes, they look at you with those big brown eyes but resist LOL, resist!

The plants. The plants are awesome!  Around 200 varieties of native plants. From all over the Mid Atlantic and Northeast.  I bought my first witch hazels ever here years ago.  On Saturday I had an impulse buy: one of my favorite kinds of oak trees, a Chestnut Oak. It was here at Yellow Springs that I discovered one of my favorite native perennials called Indian Pinks. Also flame azaleas.

And the cheeses? Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmm.  I recommend the goat cheese with mushrooms that was recommended to me this weekend. I can’t remember it’s proper name but it was delicious.

Yellow Springs Farm is located at:

1165 Yellow Springs Rd  
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania 19425
 (610) 827-2014
 www.yellowspringsfarm.com

Enjoy the goat photos and thanks for stopping by.

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no…it wasn’t the easter bunny seen this morning…

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Without fail, every time it is early in the morning or late at night and I am out in my woods and back gardens with dogs in my nightgown, something funny or magical happens. Last night it was a great owl hoot hooting from high a top the trees and this morning? A hot air balloon.

Yep. A hot air balloon. Around 7 AM.  Looks like a solo flight. Not sure where they came down in the end, thought it was going to be the cornfield next to our woods, but they bounced back up and sailed over and onward.  We never get hot air balloons over us so I wonder where they took off from for their Easter morning flight. What we usually get are helicopters (military and helicopter museum variety) and small planes.

I love these balloons.  I have to be distracted until they get up into the sky, but riding in one is such a cool experience.  Our friend Barry has taken us up. ( Here is a link to his website if you wish to go on a balloon ride – he is the owner of the cool American Flag balloon.)

It was so funny this morning. I was one the edge of the woods looking further into the woods and I kept hearing this sound.  Sort of like a big whoosh whoosh.  I looked around, saw nothing. Looked up and there it was, the Easter sunrise balloon.  Given the time I saw them, I would say they went up when the sun was rising and how beautiful that must have been.

To whomever the pilot was, thank you for my Easter surprise.  It was fun watching you float by.

Happy Easter everyone, enjoy the spring day.

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