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!

airing dirty laundry?

I am now a good bit into Janny Scott’s The Beneficiary and I can’t decide if I like it. Maybe I am just but one of the rubber neckers or gawkers alluded to in the book who attended the funeral? (No, I didn’t attend the funeral.)

Right or wrong, page six of the book left a bad taste in my mouth that continues to linger the further I get into the book.

Page six is where one finds the snarky criticism of her late father’s caterer. Who also happens to be my favorite caterer and the caterer many families including my own have used for years. It was just unexpected and somewhat unnecessary in its meanness.

Her late father had undoubtedly given instructions for his funeral down to the catering. It was his last big party, after all. And his money paid for it…but I guess it meant less for the heirs, right?

I think the author loved her father, but she certainly didn’t seem like him a lot of the time. This book if you distill it down is less about the familial history (which is truly fascinating) and more of a huge middle finger directed at her late father, and what is left of Philadelphia society.

Personally, I would take the old guard even at their dragon-y best over the ludicrous Oscar Wilde and Richard Brinsley Sheridan worthy characters who literally mug for the cameras today.

Now in fairness to the author obviously she didn’t choose to be born into quite literally The Philadelphia Story.

If you grew up on the Main Line, you grew up in awe of Ardrossan. It was a beautiful property. Now it’s getting carved up into McMansions and I have my doubts the great house will survive in perpetuity, sadly.

I was lucky enough to be on the property at different times growing up. Those times I was there was for non-profit events like parties for organizations like The Philadelphia Orchestra.

The great house, or mansion, was glorious and sort of like going to a dinner party hosted by Dickens’ Miss Havisham. You would have to watch your heels didn’t catch in a frayed side of an oriental rug. But it was a marvelous house. I especially liked the beautiful terraces I remember out back which lent itself to the garden party type benefit I went to one time with my parents.

There are some videos on YouTube about the estate:

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Now of course, developers are laying claim to Ardrossan. Which, needless to say, is a giant bleck to me.

Anyway, my people aren’t the author’s people so I can’t say I share her experiences. This book sometimes reads like therapy and revenge rolled into one. But seriously? How hard a life has the author had had? Her family money made her very existence possible, didn’t it? It opened all the doors she is now kind of thumbing her nose at it, and that is kind of sad.

I appreciate the delving into her fascinating family history and I hope by the end of the book the phrase that keeps running through my head dissipates.

That phrase is poor little rich girl, sadly.

But hey it is sure ripping open the dusty volumes of dirty family laundry, right?

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.

no thank you.

Dear “Chris“,

I got this in the mail. Everyone who lives around me got this in the mail. I hate getting things like this in the mail. I find things like this offensive.

So I called the number on this post card, (which was very cheap by the way.) I got “Gary” on the phone. So I asked Gary why would I want to sell my house to him.

“Gary” said something along the lines of oh no offense but we send these out to everyone when we’re working in the area. Funny thing is I don’t know anyone in the area that sold a house to you recently, or at all.

I looked at your website and I looked at your Facebook page and my house is not the type of house that you are picturing. My house is not run down and it has a terrific garden. So why would I want to leave that? The answer is of course I wouldn’t.

I have a lot of friends who are realtors and have known a few real estate investors and real estate attorneys in my day. I kind of have a problem with people who say “here take the easy way out and avoid all the people who are the professionals.”

All you did was buy a mailing list somewhere. If someone is going to sell their home, I suggest a licensed realtor. Period.

Sign me,

No Thank You.

another apocalyptic spring

I remember when my husband and I were dating and I would make the trek from the Main Line to Chester County on weekends. Sometimes I would come out Route 3 and turn onto Route 352.

Once I hit 352 it would start to get green and lush as I made my way out. I traveled part of that same route today and it is a war zone.

This is what the pipelines give us. There is not anything positive or good about them. They rape the land, scar the landscape and ship out gas and “other hydrocarbons” to places like Scotland to make plastics.

We the residents of Chester County and all of the other counties get to assume all sorts of risk. But these pipeline companies are like an invading army and they just keep marching. It’s all about the money, honey, and we simply don’t matter.

I haven’t written a pipeline post a long time. But today seeing another apocalyptic spring thanks to Energy Transfer or Sunoco Logistic or Sunoco or whatever they may call themselves, the words have come tumbling out.

There is always some problem with the pipelines and residents hold their breath and pray their wells will survive, sinkholes won’t open up, and that nothing will blow up.

Pipeline company told to repair, restore all damaged streams, wetlands

By Paul J. Gough

Reporter, Pittsburgh Business Times

May 15, 2019, 7:35am EDT

A subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners is being ordered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to restore or repair dozens of streams and wetlands that it said were either eliminated or altered by the construction of the Revolution Pipeline.

DEP said ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC violated Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Laws, Dam Safety and Encroachments Acts, the Oil & Gas Act of 2012 and regulations over erosion, sediment control, dam safety and waterway management. The order came out of its probe into Sept. 10, 2018, explosion in Center Township, Beaver County.

MAY 21, 2019 | 8:30 AM

Federal pipeline safety regulators issue warning on floods and subsidence

The PHMSA advisory bulletin says pipeline incidents caused by erosion have increased in the eastern U.S.

Susan Phillips

Citing a number of recent incidents, including one in Pennsylvania, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, sent a warningto natural gas and hazardous liquids pipeline operators earlier this month detailing the dangers of flooding and heavy rain events.

The advisory points to “land movement, severe flooding, river scour, and river channel migration” as causes of the type of damage that can lead to leaks and explosions. It outlines current regulations, and details requirements for insuring safe pipeline construction and continued monitoring once a pipeline is in operation.

APRIL 29, 2019 | 4:33 PM

UPDATED: APRIL 30, 2019 | 11:48 AM

Sunoco buys two homes at Chester County site of Mariner East 2-related sinkhole

State and county documents show company paid $400,000 each for properties

Jon Hurdle

Sunoco Pipeline bought two homes on Lisa Drive, the Chester County development and pipeline construction site where residents have been tormented by sinkholes since late 2017, according to state and county documents obtained on Monday.

The documents said Sunoco agreed to buy the homes and land of John Mattia and his next-door neighbors, T.J. Allen and Carol Ann Allen, for $400,000 each in transactions dated April 18.

A Realty Transfer Tax Statement of Value filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue records a “total consideration” of $400,000 for each of the properties.

The home sold by the Allens is estimated with a market value of about $300,000-$330,000, according to listings by Zillow and Realtor.com. The value of the former Mattia home is estimated at about $340,000, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage….Two of the Lisa Drive residents, Russell and Mary March, and another nearby homeowner sued Sunoco in March 2018, claiming the company had negligently drilled through porous rock near their homes without recognizing that sinkholes would likely result, and ignoring the results of a geotechnical investigation there. The suit was settled but the terms were not disclosed.

The company’s activities at Lisa Drive have been shut down twice by regulators on the grounds that public safety is endangered by construction of two new pipelines – Mariner East 2 and 2X – plus the operation of an existing natural gas liquids pipeline – Mariner East 1 – on a geologically unstable site.

State Impact PA does a LOT of coverage of the pipeline horror show and you can CLICK HERE to read some of the coverage.

Look at what pipelines has already destroyed and you understand why we don’t want anymore pipeline companies coming to town. This is why we are so uneasy about Adelphia, for example, and can’t figure out why municipalities where Adelphia will be in Chester County don’t appear to be particularly proactive on behalf of their residents.

Yesterday my friend Ginny Kerslake did not prevail in her bid to be a candidate for Chester County Commissioner in the fall. The Democrat party chose to endorse others over her. That is our great loss.

Ginny is a true warrior in this pipeline hell. A courageous, educated and ethical voice. In the fall, the woman the Democrat party decided to back will ask for your vote and tell everyone she is as dedicated as Ginny. She is not. Political opportunism is not community caring. Fortunately Josh Maxwell prevailed and he will get one of my county commissioner votes.

I know I got off on a pipeline/political segue there for a minute, and I am sorry, but it was also on my mind because the pipelines in Pennsylvania have indeed become a political hot button topic. And I think any politician that wants our vote has to prove they support residents a.k.a. people over pipelines. You know, like State Senator Andy Dinniman.

I was so sad traveling part of the pipeline path today. I feel like I am 100 million years old because I can remember where a certain tree one stood or where I used to watch a man mow his lawn when I drove by.

Energy Transfer/Sunoco has bought pain and sorrow and a path of destruction. As Pennsylvanians we deserve better. Our homes are our proverbial castles and all these pipeline companies do is destroy.

People over pipelines. Pass it on.