So yesterday I did a thing. I went and checked out the new Sycamore & Stone on 401!
Jeff Devlin‘s new property is one I am familiar with, because I used to patronize the antique store that was once in this barn. I love this property and was sad when it went up for sale because I was afraid some developers would snatch up the property and the beautiful barns and house would disappear. However when Jeff announced he had purchased this property I was totally psyched because I knew it was going to be saved, preserved, and wonderful!
Along with the barn which has the store there will be other things available to do on this property including the house becoming a fabulous Airbnb.
I will note that both the Mercantile/Jenny Lind and Jeff’s Sycamore & Stone are both located in West Pikeland Township. West Pikeland is a treasure trove of amazing historic properties. I hope that Township realizes how fortunate and blessed they are that they have people willing to come in and do these amazing adaptive resources that are viable on historic properties.
Jeff’s store is a feast for the eyes and there is all sorts of fun stuff! It has a great Americana country vibe. It’s a lovely space and shoppers feel relaxed in it. It is almost like welcoming someone into a great big farmhouse and not just a hands down super amazing barn. I gravitate to places that are warm and welcoming. And their staff is equally warm and welcoming!
One of the things I liked best are the reproduction hog scraper candlesticks he has available for sale. I collect the actual vintage/antique variety, so these are a real favorite with me! If Jeff Devlin had a wish list for customers mine would be to carry hand dipped taper candles that fit into hog scrapers because that is the right shape for them!
I look forward to this property further coming back to life and it is such a joy to see the work occurring on it every time I drive by. Jeff is a quality craftsman, and such a nice guy so I am glad he found his spot here on this property. My only lament is I don’t have a super old farmhouse for him to help me restore!
Sycamore & Stone is located at 1251 Conestoga Road, Chester Springs, PA. Right now the hours are WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY 12PM-7PM, SATURDAY 10AM-7PM, SUNDAY 10AM-4PM.
I will note that I have not been compensated in any way, shape, or form to write this post. I’m merely visited the store and I am now a happy customer: I like to shop local and support the businesses of people I know.
Now, I am not accusing any particular neighbor over this website since I don’t know YET who created it, unless any of you do perhaps? Also, there is also a flyer that has been distributed. Physically mailed to residents like one of those tacky campaign glossies.
I know, I know, it is a little crazy. Especially since when you heard recently from these neighbors, it was to say “Oh gosh, oh golly, we don’t want to ruin their lives!” (paraphrasing, but here READ THIS).
(If you think an image is too small, click on it to bring it up on your screen larger)
Let’s talk vilified since those farm hating angels feel put out and/or misunderstood, OK? How about this little website recently developed?
Wildflower Farm is a farm. They grow flowers. Oh my gosh, such a threat to humanity, can you imagine????
The “review” they posted in Wix land was a FRIEND for whom they had a birthday party. NO MONEY changed hands. It was two years ago – and the friend thought she was helping by posting a review.
Next the Friendly Sons thing is a NON-PROFIT Ryan Heenan is part of and is a past president of. That was a private event that anyone could host on their property. The Friendly Sons is an Irish organization which is well-respected and has existed since the 18th century in Philadelphia, so do the neighbors have a prejudice against the Irish I wonder? Could this be a modern spin on “Irish Need Not Apply”???
And the winery license thing has to do with HONEY, as in bees make honey. If you want to make mead, you have to have a permit as far as I understand. Maybe I don’t have that completely right, but that is what that is about. It’s not about having keggers for profit.
The “brochure” was a mock up from years ago when they had not done anything and were exploring what to do with the farm. Some web person put together a mock up of a brochure that was never formally developed or distributed and apparently left it on her website as an example of work product. It wasn’t actually a real thing. Did they explore options? Sure, who doesn’t today with a farm if they want to survive? There are actually plenty of fabulous farms in Chester County you can rent space from, so it makes sense they would look into it, right?
The Mother’s Day event last year was their grand opening. Done with permission from Willistown Township.
And as far as the creek issues go, I have been on their property – NO WETLANDS. They did rebuild a stream and put it back that a prior property owner had done stuff to in order to create a winter skating rink thingy, and why didn’t the neighbors complain about that? And how did they get those photos without trespassing? Here I have photos, that I was invited to take (as in I did not have to trespass to get them) :
They do use the barn for things like family parties. But people are allowed to entertain. They even had Santa Claus for a few friends with little in November, 2020 because Santa experiences were scarce due to COVID-19. Yes, there was a photographer, so the kids had their Santa photos. NOT a public event, just doing something nice with a few friends after a horrible year so kids could have some normalcy at Christmas. How is that a horrible thing? The answer of course it’s not, but I would say the Scrooges of Castlebar Lane probably would say otherwise, yes?
It’s time to take a stand against NOFIMBY people in Chester County And to be clear, these people are not doing anything for the benefit of all in Willistown.
This is only about THEM.
And yes Ryan Heenan and family members are in real estate. Real estate investors. So what? So are lots of people.
Wildflower Farm is this family’s HOME. And they grow freaking flowers.
Would the NOFIMBY neighbors of Castlebar Lane be more comfortable with say an actual developer carving up their ‘hood? Maybe they would like some townhouses or apartments where all are crammed in like lemmings?
And nothing being done on Wildflower Farm goes against state agricultural/farming laws (ACRE law). Local ordinances from what I have been told are supposed to conform to state laws?
I know Willistown people to be BETTER than this. BE better than this. Please contact Willistown Township and politely ask them to stop this madness. Their zoning needs to go along with state law. If it isn’t, they respectfully need to change that. They also need to consider the fact that one of their planning commission members is one of these unpleasant neighbors on Castlebar, and has shown up on stuff about this filed against township, hasn’t he?
And lest I forget to post photos of it, someone indeed paid for a campaign-like glossy mailer to go out about Wildflower Farm. Nothing like harassing your neighbors because you want the advantages of living with agricultural districts which give regular homeowners perks but not living near actual farms, right? And I have to ask again, do they have a publicist doing these flyers and placements? That would be nice to know so people can avoid giving them business in the future, right? And that mailer requires a permit so who got the permit?
And OMG BUS TOURS? 😛 😛 COME ONE. What do you think they are The Barnes Foundation or maybe Dorney Park or Dutch Wonderland? 😛 😛
Here is a mash-up of little video snippets from when they opened last year. Tell me you think these neighbors are normal in the way they treat the Heenans?
I mean dayummmm, it’s almost Good Friday and Easter is Sunday. Way to nail the Heenans to a proverbial cross or try to, right?
You literally can’t make this stuff up: The NOFIMBY Neighbors Who Want To Crucify Their Neighbors For Easter.
I love the smell of “placed” media, don’t you ? It’s marvelous spin describing a working farm as “an event venue”.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about a little piece that has appeared in places over the last day or so. It’s about Wildflower Farm. But this time, it’s from the neighbors perspective. And I am of the opinion, and allowed to have the opinion that it smells of professional placement. It’s not even honest, is it?
Yes it’s a clear case of spinny, spin, spin isn’t it?
I mean let’s get real these neighbors will do anything to get this farm and these people out of their neighborhood, won’t they? And you have someone who is portrayed as Mother Freaking Theresa in a sweet little media-esque blip when she has shown her true colors even at public township meetings?
And the Emmy goes to…the NOFIMBY (no farm in my back yard) neighbors of Castlebar Lane.
Oh bless their cold, dark hearts and clap, clap, clap. Cue the tiny violins of pity with a side of barf bag. Sorry not sorry that is how this makes me feel.
By Leah Mikulich Published: 5:30 am EDT April 6, 2022
Wildflower Farm in Willistown Township has been a point of contention for months, as neighbors believe they have been demonized on social media and ignored by township officials, writes Davis Giangiulio for Main Line Tonight.
However, when its opening event drew around 100 people, Gray and several other neighbors voiced their concern, and it ultimately led to a call to the police…
Gray is adamant about one thing.
“We are not trying to shut down the Heenans,” she said. “We just don’t want an event venue in our neighborhood.”
The neighbors have complained to the township about the farm. However, after the Heenans reached what neighbors allege was a “backroom deal” with the township without anybody else’s input, they decided to involve lawyers.
Let’s unpack this: It’s not an event venue, it’s a farm. And is it REALLY true that some affiliated with these people tried to inquire or perhaps set up the farm early on when they made a folksy, friendly inquiry to see if they could host a small gathering there? And was the answer not essentially that the Heenans did not know then it would be possible? They were not told yes, no deposits were taken, and no “event” was planned or held, was it? It was a fishing expedition, wasn’t it? Yes, yes person who asked, I know this happened and I know who you are and I found that very sad that you stooped so low to shall we say, curry favor with whom you perceive to be the popular kids of the McMansion set?
Let’s also discuss Our Heroine of Castlebar Lane. When we last left she was (metaphorically speaking) wringing her hands in a seemingly “placed” puff piece? Their side or just her side? Are we to interpret that the NOFIMBY neighbors aren’t really so bad, they just fear for their PUBLIC road in Willistown Township? That they really aren’t UNneighborly when they call the police on their neighbors? And is this the neighbor with that Brooklyn Bridge project of a Mt. Rushmore berm that always seems to be being worked on whenever I have popped over to visit my friends the Heenans? And that’s a funny thing, Our Heroine always seems to have lots of vehicles in and out? I mean, maybe I am imagining things, but does she have a home based business that generates traffic? Or is that just berm building?
And was it not Our Heroine who said
“It’s beyond comprehension why they would invite the public to come and spend time in the country.”
“Bringing the public into the neighborhood is completely unacceptable.”
And while we are at our revisionist history best, if these are neighbors NOT trying to ruin the lives of other neighbors do we remember them at a township meeting in Willistown December 2021? By all means, explain how they are lovely people not trying to ruin their neighbors’ lives?
My understanding is that a possible settlement has been reached between the township and the Heenans. Again, the neighbors who will be most affected by the traffic, noise, invasion of privacy, liability, and a reduction in the quality of life not to mention our property values have no idea of what has or will transpire through this agreement.
I understand the zoning and the Farmstand ordinance, let’s keep it to a farmstand and not a full fledged business which is what I believe the Heenans intend. You determine the quality of life in Willistown and I urge you to be guided by the long standing nature of what exists here, open space, conservation, protection of the land, privacy, and a quality of life that is the model for other townships.
Letter discovered via RTK written 12/2021
So the Vista piece came out of a larger more expansive “article” from “Main Line Tonight”. They have an interesting “board”. However, I will point out, we are Chester County, and not the Main Line. And Wildflower farm is in Willistown in the heart of Radnor Hunt. Historically speaking, farms were here before any of the rest of us today, yes?
Lonnie Gray wants to make one thing clear: “We are not trying to shut down the Heenans. We just don’t want an event venue in our neighborhood.”
That “event venue” is Wildflower Farm, a 4-acre property that opened in May 2021 on Castlebar Lane in Malvern. Ryan and Lori Heenan billed Wildflower as a flower farm that would host small workshops and classes. But Wildflower’s grand opening event on Mother’s Day of 2021 alarmed neighbors. “We were in shock,” Gray said. “Over 70 cars, 100 people, a pizza truck, and all kinds of stuff. We’re going, ‘Wow this is crazy.’”
It got crazier. According to the Heenans, neighbors interrupted that Mother’s Day event, causing so much commotion that police were called.
From Gray’s point of view, the commotion was caused by the Heenans’ event. She and a few of her neighbors hired attorney Marc D. Jonas at Eastburn and Gray PC to protect their rights as homeowners. “No one is going to want to live next door to that,” she said. “It’s living in a residential area and then having it become something very different.”….. Throughout Willistown Twp., and especially on Castlebar Lane, privacy is a luxury. That’s one of the things that attracted Gray, who purchased her four-bedroom, three-bathroom, 5,000 square foot home in 2013.
I just feel that this piece I excerpted is placed. And oh, not all of the hyperlinks in this piece work. Here are some things released under a Right to Know. Now that the public face of the neighbors of the poor, poor neighbors who feel demonized has been polished and scrubbed like shiny new pennies, how about reading what has flown around Willistown over this issue:
The above is just a sampling. Do you want me to REALLY believe they don’t want to destroy the Heenans and Wildflower Farm? And they talk about “back room deals” ? Where? Are they confusing public township meetings as “back room” deals? Yet they can send somewhat unctuous emails to Willistown Supervisors essentially saying “hop to”?
I just do not GET IT, do you? I mean, and correct me if I am wrong, but do these neighbors NOT benefit from living in McMansions in an agricultural district? And Willistown is one of those places where farms still exist, so if they had their way would farms cease to exist? What’s their next target? Farms like Sugartown Straberries? Heartwood Farm? Ohana Farm? Windy Hill farm? Canter Hill Farm? Willisbrook Farm? That farm with the “oreo” cows AKA Belted Galloways?
Now a lot of what is going on here is of interest to those who follow the ACRE law, correct?
We’ve been talking about Wildflower Farm and the NOFIMBY neighbors for a long time now. How can people be so determined to all but literally kill their neighbors? Why is a flower farm so bad? I still think this is one of the ugliest examples of misplaced sense of entitlement I have ever seen.
At the end of the day, this just makes me sad. These NOFIMBY neighbors can say they are lovely, caring people but the thing is this: actions speak louder than words. If they want to be seen as good, they can’t just write lovely checks to non-profits can they? They actually have to be good. I can’t help but wonder what they are in fact costing the taxpayers of Willistown with all of this swirling nastiness?
Sadly the NOFIMBY drama seems to go on and on and on. As I said the first time I waded into this topic, I think these people are wrong. Their lives aren’t adversely affected by flowers and a flower farm. They are responsible for this swirling ugliness, not the Heenans.
I am a lover of farms. Small farms matter. All farms matter.
I am also a gardener. Plant more flowers. Stop and smell the flowers NOFIMBY neighbors. Stop this madness, except you won’t will you? So sad.
My husband loves Al Stewart’s music. I have always liked it as well. So every once on Spotify, I turn on some Al Stewart. One of his songs is running in a loop through my brain. Has been since I received some news that kind of upended me yesterday and today. The song is Time Passages. So that is why the video is in this post. Another song too has been in that loop. Supertramp’s Lord Is It Mine. Both my husband and I also love Supertramp. Also added a favorite Genesis song and a Steve Winwood too. Might as well do the full music I liked then and today. Music helps.
But…..Damn my age is showing. The music is all from “back in the [proverbial] day”. And this really has nothing to do with what I have been trying to write since this morning. It’s like if I write it out, it becomes more real. Music cushions the thoughts.
I have been sitting in front of my computer screen. I know what I want to say, but have been somewhat stuck in my own head since last evening when I received completely unexpected news.
One of my favorite people, a friend who feels like he’s been around literally since almost forever has died. Forever meaning I think we met circa 1976 or so. I know this is something I have to write about because it just needs to leave my brain. The memories need to settle and go back to happy, not swirl in my brain like an unhappy tornado.
Yes, a lot of tears have been quietly shed today.
He was hit by a car while walking. Just a freak accident a fluke. He wasn’t sick, he loved his life, was in the prime of his life, nice career, nice man. The kind of person you want in your life until we are really old and gray, only that won’t happen now.
Somewhere in a trunk I have photos from when we were teenagers and older. So many memories. Damn it David, I am not grown up enough for this.
I will start with one a friend reminded me of last night. Sitting in the middle of my parents’ driveway and David shouting “To the airport and hop on it!” when a VW rabbit went by. And that day multiple VW rabbits drove down our then quiet road. It was a hot car then. We laughed and laughed.
Another memory sitting in my parents’ library with him and three or four other friends. Don’t know why. It may have been after JDA (Junior Dancing Assemblies.)
Ahh what were the Junior Dancing Assemblies (“JDA”)? They were formal by invitation dances. The Senior Dancing Assemblies (‘SDA”) followed. They were held at the Merion Tribute House in Merion Station. Every time it was my father’s turn to drive us kids, he got lost. I still get lost going there.
Girls in long dresses or long formal tartan skirts and an appropriate top. Note that appropriate those days was NOT short skirts or skimpy tops or even spaghetti straps or strapless. Somewhere I have the original invitation that had the dress code. It was a tradition starting to wane by the time we went. Sometimes it was a bad cover band, other times a D.J.
A few years ago, David and I had some serious giggles over JDA and SDA and that Gold Lamé dragon Mrs. Farber. She was the one who ran the dances. Seriously, she seemed to have an endless supply of Gold Lamé dresses that had these almost bullet bra tops and didn’t move anymore than her Aqua Net cemented hair do. She was terrifying. She dragged me into the service kitchen at Merion Tribute one night and called my mother on the kitchen phone to report that I wouldn’t dance with someone she picked out for me to dance with. Fortunately, David and another friend rescued me. I remember coming home that night and my mother wondering why THAT woman called her. And of course a resounding chorus of “Don’t do that again, you were lucky to be invited.”
We would camp out during JDA and SDA intermissions or breaks and hangout on the window seats at Merion Tribute House and the other seating areas and shove stale pretzels down the heater grates as we drank our slightly warm and slightly flat Coca Colas out of Dixie Cups. During those intermissions we would think up grand schemes never executed to torture Mrs. Farber. Mostly we wondered how her bras were so pointy, how big was that closet of Gold Lamé dresses, and what was actually in her hair.
And then there were our mischief night escapades. One year we took apart a split rail fence and created an obstacle course on the road. We almost got caught that year as we also toilet papered several trees. Another year someone (David) magically re-painted the tops of someone’s wrought iron fence from gaudy gold to black I think it was.
Another thing we did once in a while? Roaming around the back of the estate known as Dolobran in Haverford. Why? So we could peek in the windows of the ballroom. It was so cool. At that point I believe there was just one tiny old lady living there. That was back when said little old lady gave me a $20 bill for Halloween one year back then. I had dressed my dog up as a cat to go trick or treating.
During the high school years we all went to different schools. So there were parties at Kip’s house or Adam’s house. Then there were the Philadelphia Charity Ball Years. David rescued me a couple of times when I did not have a date and my mother said I could not go with “just friends.” So he really wasn’t my escort, but covered for me and another friend so we could go.
Eventually we all went our separate ways and wouldn’t see each other as often. While I stayed pretty much in the Philadelphia area, David and other friends were spread out all over the east coast, out west, down south. So then there was Christmas.
Christmas Eve for decades meant one Christmas party in particular for many of us in Gladwyne. So I always saw David and his family there. When we were younger, we would be with the kids downstairs in a big rec room for the most part. As we got older we migrated upstairs and would take over the hosts’ study.
Then at some point, we all stopped going. In recent years, David and I would connect by phone, email, and like so many others Facebook. We would occasionally see each other when he was up from Florida to see family still in the area.
David did things liked sent me little gifts sometimes for no reason. A couple of years ago it was a set of whimsical kitchen towels he thought I would like.
The last time we connected was his birthday….barely a month ago.
Hopping around: I remember when his mother died. April, 1978. Not too long from now is the anniversary. I remember when he called me. She was the first parent of someone I knew who passed away. His dad remarried a few years later, and his father and stepmother and siblings and family and friends all survive him. His stepmother is truly lovely. And I remember that was not easy coming into the world of three boys of various ages who had lost their mother.
My head is calmer now as I have written down some of these memories and allowed the memories of laughter wash over me. Today has been full of phone calls from some of our old friends, which is comforting for all of us. It gives us a chance to quietly remember someone who was just a wonderful person, one of our life long friends.
Telling my mother was no fun. She always adored David. My past is her past here. And his stepmother and father are still alive and such nice people. She said to me no parent wants to outlive their children.
Now David wasn’t someone who would want us to be endlessly sad. So I am celebrating him right now with a post traveling down a meandering multi-decade memory lane. The meandering includes music. What I have shared plus a favorite playlist from Spotify.
David gave his friends a precious gift one last time. And that gift is allowing some of us to reconnect. We will honor that gift and remember him. (Umm he also gave me his grandmother’s pound cake recipe and THAT is priceless.)
David, we will all miss you, and when I have my next glass of Rosé, I will lift a glass in your honor. Thanks for the memories, but it just wasn’t time enough.
The older I get, the more I realize loss is not for sissies.
Before I get to a recap of sorts of 2021, let’s talk Christmas decorations. Mine stay up to Epiphany (maybe a little later.) When do you take your decorations down? I have to be honest, I also just like them so much I wish the Christmas season were just a little bit longer. However, I know once January rolls around the nutcrackers and elves kind of look like they are staring at me from the bookshelves, so down they come until next year.
2021 has been a crazy year and let’s start with more current events. Recently a person purported to live in the Malvern area was arrested in West Chester after a bar fight. Not just any old bar fight, she (yes she) also was charged with biting and spitting on employees. Hey I am not making this up, just ask the West Chester Borough Police who posted it. THAT is why the media picked up the story and wrote about it.
Biting and spitting during what is still a GLOBAL pandemic known as COVID-19. Why am I talking about this? Well it made the news so I posted a link to a published article. No real rhyme or reason, I just posted it. I do post crime stuff every now and again. I will note that I posted with NO opinion. Just posted the article.
Up pops the Stepford -With -Matching -Capes- Crusaders. I was a bad person for sharing it. Why was I posting it. Oh and the best? I was a threat to the community for posting it. Say what? Oh and middle school behavior for posting it. Did I mention it was in the news?
All I did was post the link. If something is in the news and it’s posted, it doesn’t make anyone a bad person for posting a link unless of course it’s fake news. It wasn’t. Now if you don’t like something someone posts, we are supposed to be grown-ups, right? So why not just scroll by for something more to your comfort level? (I will note another news story, similar topic also has surfaced out of Bear, DE at a WaWa of all places. Same age range women. Bizarre, dangerous, and hideous behavior in the age of COVID19.)
Social media behavior in general (as in everywhere) has greatly deteriorated since the last presidential election and COVID19. Maybe all of you armchair critics merely like the sounds of your own voices but not everybody has to listen to it. And so we are clear, I am not speaking about that old-fashioned concept of disagreeing, yet having a thing called a conversation. I am referring to the beyond the nipping at the virtual ankles, being flat out obnoxious if not more. And yet these are the same people who don’t understand where kids learn about bullying.
Sometimes I turn the other cheek with these village idiots in local social media groups. This was not one of those times. I grow increasingly intolerant of this brand of bullsheit. And that doesn’t make me a bad person, it means I have had enough of those who wish to have local social media domination in a puffy cloud world where cute bunnies and unicorns fart rainbows.
Then the other day I had the best giggle all day from a writer, Brian Hickey:
“Let’s Go Brandon: the rallying cry of people who peaked in high school.”
~ Brian Hickey 12/28/21
That makes a nice segue to the comments of 2021 on this blog having to do with politics, maskers vs. anti maskers, anti-vaxxers and more:
I only posted a snippet of the hate mail comments I receive. But these show the range from I am a horrible person to why don’t I just kill myself. Ah yes the milk of human kindness at it’s finest. And mind you, I will get these comments when writing about a garden tour. It’s me I suppose. I am too different in opinion from them, I don’t know “my place”, whatever. Someone I know had this to say about one person being a keyboard tiger jackass:
I hope he accidentally uses his poison ivy as toilet tissue And deserves the kind of life that is small minded, mean, douche-y comment deserves. You on the other hand deserve to have a wonderful day that you had and being able to celebrate it free from pestilence.
Your “I’m-not-afraid-to-go-low” friend from New York.
I have to admit that made me laugh. My New Yorkers are fierce.
And as far as social media groups like on Facebook go, if you as an admin have the audacity to remove an ankle biter, that is rarely the end of it. Some of them keep trying to get back into a group. Others keep sending their friends and relatives to either keep beating their drum in their absence, or to spy and see if people are still talking about them. Hence the reason most groups these days do not let you join automatically. Everyone is tired especially of the Facebook ankle biters.
Even inane NextDoor isn’t immune from insane social media behavior. 2021 saw the oddly obsessed CVS man and the people who recently piled onto the poor woman who was just concerned about a homeless couple living in their car in a grocery store parking lot in Phoenixville. And let’s not forget the freak flag flying political posts of NextDoor and the crowd sourcing for should people call the police about things, or posting personal information publicly like it isn’t social media, although it most assuredly is.. That site in general is a big headscratcher.
Also in 2021 we had the woman who thinks Tredyffrin Easttown School District school board meetings are for her to throw extra blonde temper tantrums. She didn’t like me mocking her public comments at a public meeting. And at that time she was blathering to anyone who would listen to her (including local media) about her views on life, vaccines, masks, politics, the universe.
This was the same woman who during breast cancer awareness month (the dreaded and disliked Pinktober to many of us) posted a photo of me on Facebook in a hospital gown taken either before my breast cancer surgery or after my surgery but before I started treatment. It was like a wanted poster with piss poor timing. Among other things it was supposed to intimidate me. Purely female BS.
The school board follies on the whole were quite insane in 2021. The ugliest of the ugliest. And it’s not over. Even if so many of the anti-vaxxer anti-maskers, and Qanon cuties lost their school board races, they are still around. At least one was a nurse. A pediatric nurse, no less. I hope whomever she works for is proud of her efforts, right? Others of their ilk did not lose and made it onto school boards. Essentially the politics of crazy will continue to threaten public school education just like it threatens the very tenets of our society and democracy.
The most frightening example of threatening our democracy occurred this year on January 6, 2021. That is another highlight of the sheer volume crazy of 2021. Who would have ever thought we would be watching news reports of mob of Americans storming our beloved Capitol? On January 6, 2021, a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump attacked the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. hoping to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election by disrupting the joint session of Congress assembled to count electoral votes that would formalize then President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. This effort failed, and it has been in court and all over social media ever since. Mob members who have been identified are being prosecuted. One of the oldest mob members is from the West Chester area and I think I read he is in his 80s.
Living La Vida COVID in 2021 meant a lot of us spent a lot of time keeping to ourselves. And given the climate of the world around us, it was a perfectly acceptable alternative. As the world re-opened we still couldn’t be sure who was vaccinated, who was not, who had COVID, and who may or may not act crazy if they saw you wearing a mask or saw someone not wearing a mask.
This extended to a lot of our recent Christmas celebrations, which for most were considerably smaller to be safe, because what has arrived? The lovely Omicron variant. I know quite a few people who have picked it up, including at a Christmas concert I love but decided to skip this year because of COVID. Some people who were vaccinated I know who got snagged by the latest variant but they hadn’t had their booster yet. But most of the people I know who now have COVID19 have never gotten shots yet. I wonder if they will now?
Now that COVID cases are on the insane rise again, there are other issues. Remember we have one hospital in Chester County – Jennersville – closing at the end of this week, and another, Brandywine closing at the end January. It seems no one can stop Tower Health from doing this. But then again no one could stop Hahnemann in Philadelphia from closing, either.
Tower Health by these actions is essentially going to cause unbelievable problems for ALL residents of Chester County, not just the communities affected most directly by the hospitals they are closing. It’s a shame Chester County can’t sue Tower Health or federal entities like The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, isn’t it? Or can they?
Back to politics. The politics of extremism still rules the day. I have watched friendships erode over politics, even my own. I have a friend who is super conservative. I sent her a Christmas card like always. No card received here. Crickets.
I feel it is because I could never join the cult of Trump. I never judged this friend’s conservatism because it’s their belief system, and even if I don’t agree with a lot of it now, the world is big enough for more than one point of view. But I am wondering if I instead were judged? Makes me sad, but I can only control me. I won’t shut the door, but it makes me sad because there are a bunch of those in my life. I was fine when I was a Republican, but now I am not, I am somehow not worthy. Or I am not worthy to some because I am not liberal enough.
How did this world happen? I remember a time when you could be many political persuasions in a room, yet you would all leave the conversations friends. Now it’s “off with their heads” and you can’t have an actual conversation, let alone sit on different sides of the political fence. What good is that doing anyone?
Other things that marred 2021 was crime. Usually surrounding the City of Philadelphia, which has deteriorated into a filthy dirty, crime ridden city with a joke of a mayor and a doofus of a district attorney. But when Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon got carjacked at gunpoint at FDR Park in Philadelphia recently they got the bad guys in like a day….which NEVER happens to regular folk. I am very glad she is OK but I sure hope this keeps a GIANT spotlight on the hot mess that is the City of Philadelphia.
Crime has made it’s way more and more into what was bucolic Chester County. It sucks, frankly. And the police forces are smaller than in a big city.A lot of areas are covered by the Pennsylvania State Police. Like Charlestown where Anna Bronislawa Maciejewska-Gould went missing on April 10, 2017. In April, 2022 it is FIVE years. FIVE years.
In 2021 we saw the ugliness of development march on in Chester County. Even in a global pandemic it’s more, more, more. From butt ass ugly billboards to apartment buildings to fake carriage homes to townhouses for lemmings and more, over-development is now Chester County’s middle name, isn’t it?
We saw things like Tarad Hill Farm in West Bradford go up for sale. It remains to be seen what will happen, but it was being marketed for it’s development possibilities by the nouveau gentry who acquired it and now appears to be selling it. Support the efforts of groups like the Marshallton Conservation Trust in that area (please).
We also saw Rock Hill Farm in Willistown go into a sales agreement I guess since in that case there have already been plans submitted for development. (See here on Willistown website) That is 200 plus acres of what is not only amazing open space, but what about the history of the property? And it has Crum Creek going through it and is old-growth forest, wetlands, rolling hills and streams, and productive farmland. The big puzzle for me in this case is the son of the deceased owner or co-owner is on the Board of Willistown Conservation Trust and has been for a while, right? So why was nothing on that parcel ever put into conservation? In 2022 Willistown residents will see what will happen I suppose. So many object to it, but in the end I think the horse is sadly out of that barn. Someone recently put up a website.
Also in Willistown this year there has been the strange tale of the neighbors of Castlebar Lane and Wildflower Farm. They live in Willistown but apparently farms to them are verboten? Is this just a case of NOFIMBY (No Farm In My Back Yard) ? This is one of the most bizarre things in Chester County in 2021 and it’s so Scary Spice meets Stepford Wives meets Knotts Landing meets Desperate Housewives. Except in this case it’s a whole Scare Spice RACK. The township came to an agreement with Wildflower Farm recently, but we’ll see if the narsty neighbors (yes narsty) are finished yet. But hey look, they can always build bigger berms, right?
This year has also been a crazy year in the seemingly unending saga of the pipelines. Sunoco/Mariner East/ Energy Transfer. Josh Shapiro announced criminal charges and then it seemed like a short time later announce a run for governor, so is this for him or for the residents of Chester County? And then they just announce that pipeline work would resume? Which came first, the chicken or the pipeline? File under to be continued….
However, in 2021 here at the end of the year have been a few surprises. Let’s start with Township Managers.
Casey LaLonde is done at West Goshen. Yup at the meeting on the 21st of December, he is leaving West Goshen for greener pastures somewhere in the private sector but where? Kiss kiss Casey and will folks find you at the Joan Crawford Museum as a docent?
Then today the news eeeked out that Mimi Gleason is out at West Whiteland? Fie under Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus in West Whiteland. Will it be AprèsMimi, le deluge? Only time will tell and I think people should fasten their seatbelts.
Speaking of seatbelt fastening, today I learned that in East Goshen they will be “investigating” undoing eminent domain at the Hicks Farm. That was the word used in the meeting packet for next week. East Goshen Supervisors can you not begin next week with a simple resolution to end eminent domain? Okay semi rhetorical, because they can. It was done in West Vincent, it was done in Ardmore years ago. And so on in so forth. (Good lord they can even look on the Institute for Justice’s website for how tos probably, right? They practically have a legal zoom for eminent domain. Even a good Google can help you.)
And one of my favorite bright spots was the news on Crebilly Farm in Westtown. Recently the Westtown Township Board of Supervisors granted funding to Natural Lands to begin the process of grant proposal writing for the conservation of Crebilly Farm. I had to pinch myself on that one. But prayers up, there is something to work towards, even if there does seem to be an active real estatelisting on the property?
Personally this has been a year for me. I reached a ten year milestone being breast cancer free, yet I lost two long time friends to cancer. Also this year two of the great ladies of my childhood passed away, and one of my late father’s favorite cousins. And the thing is none of these losses were due to COVID-19 but COVID kept people from saying goodbye to loved ones and friends all over the globe. And if we don’t all get it together, 2022 will be another long COVID riddled year. You aren’t having your first amendment rights threatened if you are asked to get a shot or wear a mask.
BUT I still had a wonderful year with my friends and family including being able to tour David Culp’s Brandywine Cottage gardens and have a couple of small and safe gatherings with vaccinated friends and family.
Life is what we make of it and it is the simple things that bring me joy. Like a phone call from a very dear friend who just wanted to thank me for being able to see my Christmas decorations. Of course I laughed and told her but now I had to start thinking about disassembling the tree and more and putting all of the ornaments away. When that happens it is like saying good bye to old friends for a year. But then we all start planning our gardens, don’t we, so it is a cycle of happiness, right?
As we literally count down the hours until 2022, I hope some of you can just hit the pause button. I wish for you health and happiness in 2022 and pray for a more peaceful world and a little less political craziness. I won’t be unrealistic and wish for it all to disappear, but maybe hope for just a little less mania.
Thanks for stopping by in 2021. 2022 marks this site turning 10. Happy New Year kids!
Today was the day I had slated to address our Christmas Cards. It will have to wait until tomorrow. I hit a holiday landmine this afternoon.
I received a few Christmas cards, and ever the Christmas card addressing procrastinator, I thought I would open them. Well one was a note from a friend who lost their spouse. They said something along the lines is the problem with looking at photos is you can’t hold hands with it.
That just made me stop. So beautiful and yet so sad and heart-breaking and tragic a sentiment. It made me remember the breadth and depth of their love. And I know there are others out there in my friend group who is having the same emotional struggles right now.
So I thought to myself, tomorrow is another day and I will do the cards then.
It made me think of last week when I was getting out more of the Christmas ornaments. Every year I know these boxes containing some of my late father’s ornaments are in a certain ornament tub in the attic. Every year the boxes fall apart a little more, and the handwriting fades a little more. And every year, I am a puddle for a few minutes all over again when I see them. And I remember when the boxes were newer and sturdy. And the handwriting bold and definite.
Christmas is magical. And often bittersweet. And sometimes it can be sad within the beauty of the season. I know quite a few people this year who will be spending the holidays with one person down in their lives. Someone who completed their circle in some way.
We need to take a beat and pause during this time of year. These are the things that are actually important — those who remain and those who have left us. Christmas memories. Keeping old and good memories and making new ones while remembering those who are no longer here.
All of this occurred to me today as those twisted Stepford Wives in the local chapter of “Moms for Liberty” who released their book burning list I guess recently (or it surfaced again in time for Christmas?) The list includes The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Outlander by Diana Galbadon, Forever by Judy Blume (which they were flipping out about when I was a kid), Beloved by Toni Morrison.
The funniest bad book was 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James which literally made me laugh because the kids are probably stealing it from their mother’s bedside table – and yes that book is total trash. And of course all of the books that are geared towards kids who may be LGBTQIA are always bad, and well let’s sprinkle the world with extra racism at Christmas to show how Christian they all are. But let’s not forget as soon as you tell a kid something is BAD, they want to know all about it.
All I can think is how can these people have such sad, narrow-minded lives? And then my mind goes back to people I know who are struggling this Christmas season. As my friend Tom said:
“The most moronic group name I’ve seen in a while. They don’t know what they want to believe and others to follow. Liberty defined is, “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” So by asking authority to impose restrictions on freedoms is insane.”
I don’t know what it will take for people to wake up in our world and realize being different is what makes us unique. It makes us individuals. It makes us human. And these oddly empowered people who worship still at the altar of extremism in politics Just.Don’t.Get.It.
I just don’t get people. I want to think some of these people may also find the holiday season difficult except they seem to be like this all of the time, right?
Christmas is in 10 days. Can we be kind and supportive of those who need it and stop all the extraneous B.S.? (And that includes the crazy rage-o-riffic impatient driving patterns everywhere.)
But oh yes! Before I forget: HUMOR. The Christmas star on this local tree has had too much Egg Nog, apparently:
That reminds me of the tree we had as a kid that my mother swore had spinal meningitis. It looked all perfect on the lot and we got it home and it leaned at such an angle that my father put it in a corner and kind of leaned it against the wall so people didn’t notice as much!
Personally, I miss my father and my great aunts and my brother in law and my maternal grandmother at Christmas. These are the people who loved Christmas even more than me I think. And they always made it fun…even if decorating a tree with my father could be maddening because he had a specific ORDER to adding ornaments to the tree. And I just realized now that I *think* I do the same thing. So that just made me smile.
Well that brings another rambling stream of consciousness to an end.
Try loving one and other for at least a short while? Life is short, it’s Christmas.
Bah humbug to all Christmas crabs and to all a good night.
This evening at Willistown Township, the Township officials voted in an agreement with Wildflower Farm, specifically a settlement agreement. As I am a friend of the Heenans, I knew the agreement was coming, but was waiting for the official evening which was the Supervisors Meeting this evening. I have not been privy to the terms of the agreement, I should be CLEAR about that. I also didn’t ask because it’s not my business. I am just happy an agreement was reached.
Well, here it is:
I have to admit the Willistown Supervisors were very patient with the charming neighbors of Castlebar Lane. Still can’t decide if they are Super Stepford, Desperate Housewives throwbacks, Knotts Landing or just jerks of the first order.
And yes, Castlebar dwellers, that is my opinion and I am allowed said opinion. I would never have thought twice about any of this if I hadn’t seen things with my own eyes, including but not limited to someone driving back and forth and back and forth in front of Wildflower Farm’s driveways when I was there one time. For quite a while. I still think that was super creepy and stalkeriffic.
One of the neighbors, who was speaking a lot during settlement agreement identified himself as Frank Houder. He is on the Willistown Planning Commission and his business has gotten a lot of work out of Willistown Township over the years, correct? So I guess as an observer this evening I am a little surprised that he seemingly doesn’t get how things and ordinances work?
I don’t know. It’s a great mystery of life. How these neighbors can be so horrible even when tamed down at a meeting being recorded, escapes me. Again, my opinion and it’s allowable. But those people are why I do not go to many meetings and am grateful for Zoom and streaming. I can watch them and have my meeting Tourette’s and not disturb anyone. Because frankly, people like this make me want to stand up and tell them they are terrible and would they please just STOP.
So all these Scrooges of Castlebar Lane and their ilk will now sit and stew in their McMansions with their cold, dark hearts?? Will they keep filing things against Wildflower Farm? Will they keep essentially spying on Wildflower Farm?
People, it’s freaking CHRISTMAS. Do you get the whole reason for the season? Do you get how horrible you have been to your NEIGHBORS you supposedly wish to get along with?
And why do these neighbors think they should have been privy to a settlement agreement between the township and the farm? That has nothing to do with the neighbors, does it? Or do these people think so highly of themselves that everything has to do with them? (Umm hello, if the world revolves around them, stop it I want to get off.)
Well only time will tell what the Scrooge Collective on Castlebar Lane does. Here’s hoping they just accept they live in an area where farms used to be more plentiful than McMansions. Here’s hoping they realize how LUCKY they are to have a Wildflower Farm in their midst. I mean what if they were allowed to be pig farmers? Me thinks pigs would be far more offensive and odiferous than flowers, yes? And they could have a field of townhouses or ticky tacky new construction crammed in, but they are looking at a FARM and a nice rehabbed one at that. Be GRATEFUL.
As a gardener I have shared my garden resources with this farm – sources for unusual bulbs, tubers, roses, and native plants/trees. As a gardener, I am thrilled to have them close to home. They are wonderful and their flowers are awesome and so is their honey. And they are nice people I have come to know and I am grateful to call friends. Nice people. Beautiful children, hardworking. Chester County is LUCKY to have them.
Merry Christmas Wildflower Farm. Your friends and customers and nice neighbors believe in what you are doing!
Well dear readers, it is December 1st. 2021 is in the home stretch.
And what a year it has been. More crazy politics and the COVID-19 of it all still lurks, now with a new variant just in time for Christmas: “Omnicron”. (Who names these things? The hurricane namers?)
In some regards it has been a good year, in some regards rather difficult.
For me it has been a year of personal loss. A friend I had since 7th grade left this earth literally right after we did the memorial service for another friend I had since the 10th grade and lost during 2020. They were tough losses for me. Then almost too close together two friends from adulthood, and I wouldn’t have ever met one, had I not known the other. Then a favorite cousin, and two of the ladies who were part and parcel of happy memories of childhood and Society Hill…and whom I had seen throughout adulthood. The older we get, every now and again the fabric of our lives snags and pulls at our heart and memories.
I will admit parts of this year just got to me. Sometimes for different reasons. Yet here we are, entering into the Christmas season, one of my favorite times of the year. It makes up for me missing all the months of mad gardening, which still make me look out of the window to wonder what everything will look like when it comes up next year.
2021 was a year I definitely marveled at people…like the woman who posted the photo of me on Facebook in a hospital gown during October (AKA “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”). The photo was from either right before my 2011 surgery or just after but before I started treatment. More recently, is this rather obsessive and wound guy who is running around social media calling me a “shill for CVS” because I had posted information I had learned because I had the initiative to go to CVS corporate and tell them how bad things were here and ask what they were going to do about it. Once again I have to say, I am not paid to do these things and am not a compensated blogger.
2021 was us getting back to trying to feel normal and see friends and family. But I have to ask, who else almost has a panicky feeling if they are somewhere where a lot of people are? Or even if it is not a lot of people it feels like a lot of people? Of course now we are getting into corporate Christmas party season. I do not miss those days and wouldn’t be going if I was still a teeny cog in a large corporate wheel.
2021 is a year where the hangover of 2020 politics haunted us all year long. I expect these politics will haunt us for a very long time. I miss some whom I consider friends, but who don’t seem to have time for me now that they consider me ” super liberal” which I am still truly not. But I can’t and won’t conform to Stepford Wife style politics or herd mentality and follow the sheeple. Simply not my jam, and those who truly know me have no problem with that no matter what their politics are. I wonder will we ever be able to have civil political conversations again some day?
2021 was feeling like I was under siege as a blogger at times. I have been blogging long before it was commonplace and I will never understand why I am so, shall we say, “fascinating” to some? I am not so unusual, I actually quite ordinary. Is having a point of view that doesn’t have to be crowdsourced first on Facebook so unusual?
2021 was a year I cherished my family and friends even more than ever. But there for the Grace of God, go I. When you look at what others are going through, you do quite literally count your blessings. Life is not a Hallmark Christmas movie with a hero at the end and a happy ending, but it’s not so bad, and I am blessed. A phrase I don’t use often like tossing bits of popcorn into the air. But this year marks my 10th year surviving breast cancer among other things.
For all of us, it has felt like an eternity since our world went upside down in March of 2020 due to COVID-19. And honestly, I don’t feel we are out of the woods yet. And please, save your conspiracy theories like the one I heard last weekend when someone said to me that the people spreading COVID-19 were all the people who got their shots. And that, friends is one of the more irritating as hell aspects of 2021: it has been the year of the anti-masker/anti-vaxxer. By all means, keep protesting in front of malls and such, just stay out of my way. And don’t tell me I am wrong if I wear a mask somewhere. I hate wearing masks, but sometimes you just have to.
Now I am going to turn my attention towards getting my decorations up for Christmas. I am excited to be able to share this holiday season with some of my family. Nothing huge, but it will be Christmas.
I am, however, amused by somewhat extended family whom I have not heard from since way before COVID -19 hit inquiring as to Christmas plans. I would be offended, but that would require more head space than it deserves. Yes, it’s Christmas but umm where have you been? Some people sadly have no sense of their own optics based on behavior. You can’t always ask, sometimes you have to give.
Today I marked December 1st by having a photo taken with Santa. Nope sorry, that is my photo for my Christmas memories, but he was a rather marvelous Santa as you can see in the photo.
Seeing a Santa today really made me believe in the magic of Christmas. Here’s hoping we all have a magical season sprinkled with happiness. (And if you use Spotify listen to their just released list of what we listened to in 2021 – I like my list so far!)
I don’t know that I have anything particularly profound to say this Thanksgiving. It has been quite a slog these past two years between hideous politics and COVID-19. This will be the year that a lot of us finally have a true holiday with family. Hopefully it will be a day to just pause and be together.
Some will travel, others will open their doors to friends and family. For some I know, it will be a perhaps bittersweet and poignant start to the holiday season – it has been a year of loss for so many.
I lost a few friends this year who passed away. Two were friends I made in adulthood, two were among the great ladies of my childhood, and one more recently was a neighbor for many years and a friend for so many more years preceding that.
How do we honor these wonderful people who were in our lives? I guess by trying to be the best people we can be. It made me think of this Dutch Hymm we used to sing this time of year when we were at St. Peter’s titled “We Gather Together”.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday filled with history and tradition. Hopefully we can all gather and have wonderful days wherever we are. Awesome that will mean watching endless football, and the first year I do that will be I don’t know when because I don’t really watch football. And I bet some of my armchair critics are saying “Aha that’s what’s wrong with her!” (Should I ‘fess up that I don’t like beer now too?)
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday for us and dates back to 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is now acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the “colonies.”
For the centuries that followed here in the US, “days of thanksgiving” were celebrated by individual colonies and then states. It wasn’t until 1863, during the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
This year a lot of Thanksgiving Day Parades will return. Our new normal thanks to COVID19 will be meeting our old normal, Thanksgiving Day Parades and activities.
But for some the holiday season is hard, and it kicks off tomorrow. I hope they get through it o.k.
Take tomorrow to enjoy your time with your people whomever they may be: your family, your friends, your neighbors. And take a moment to give thanks.
I have written about family friend and Philadelphia artist Margery Niblock a few times before. Her art is just something I have loved since I was a child. She was kind of my first artist.
She was a part of my childhood and I remember her home studio and her prints wafting in the breeze pinned to a clothesline with old fashioned wooden clothes pins at the Head House Craft Fair.
Margery also was one of my teachers back in the day. As a child she taught me to do woodblock and linoleum prints. I actually wasn’t that bad at it. It was a very fun process.
So recently, a very nice friend gave me some prints that he and his wife had collected while they lived not too far from where we lived when I was little. Prints I had literally not seen since I was a child! And three were owls! (I love owls!)
Receiving these prints was so exciting! They had literally never seen the light of day since they were purchased.
I took them over to Framers Market Gallery in Malvern to be framed. (Jayne and Dave the owners do all of my framing and re-framing at this point.) Jayne and I spent a good part of an afternoon about a month ago choosing the framing and mats. The store is so much fun because they have so many beautiful choices.
So here we are! The finished product!
Art makes me happy. And it doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive to have value to you. Buy what you like and hang what you like. Check thrift shops and flea markets and fairs and local art shows. Find your artist and enjoy them.