the last hurrah

Life got busy and sort of in the way and although the rest of the Christmas decorations have been put away for a while, I never actually took the Christmas tree down.

So today, I decided to bite the bullet and git r’ done.

I really hate putting the Christmas tree away. And because of that it’s probably good we use an artificial tree now.

I know there are people who keep Christmas decorations and Christmas trees up all year round. That I couldn’t do. I’m afraid if I did that they would start calling me Miss Havisham right out of Charles Dickens or something. Or sign me up for Christmasaholics Anonymous.

I am saying goodbye to my ornaments one by one. Like every year I swear I am going to put every ornament away perfectly and I know next year I will be telling myself I should’ve done a better job now in this moment.

Every ornament has its own little story.

The ornaments that came from my late father will go back into the boxes he had them in hopefully for one more year. The boxes sadly are falling apart and I know I am only going to be able to hang onto them for just so long. It’s not that I find the boxes of any great value, it’s just that it’s his writing on the outside of the boxes. So it’s a nice memory.

As I put the final bits of Christmas away I wonder if many years in the future whomever has my ornaments will love them as much as I do?

Perhaps to some that is a very strange and fatalistic thought. It’s just one of the funny things that my busy brain occasionally wonders. And I think part of the reason I wondered that is because of the vintage ornaments I have collected from estate sales and similar situations over the years. You can always tell when you’re buying an ornament if the ornaments were well loved.

OK well enough procrastination for me I have to finish up.

Thanks for stopping by.

saying good-bye to christmas…bit by bit

I really don’t like saying goodbye to Christmas. But it has gotten to the point as it does every year where the Santas and Nutcrackers seem to be staring at me throughout the house. It’s like they’re telling me it’s time for them to come down and go away into their bins until next year.

I started a few days ago by putting away the outside decorations. And then I began inside with the Christmas plates and linens. Everything back onto their storage shelves and into trunks.

Today the Santas went away. They always look so sad lined up ready to go into the bins. I am getting better at putting Christmas decorations away in a less haphazard manner. But next year I still won’t remember which decorations are in each bin. I swear it’s part of the decorating process!

Piece by piece, bit by bit. Deconstructing Christmas and bringing the house back to non-holiday normal. By the time all of the ornaments are put away I will once again swear I am NOT, NOT, NOT doing all of those decorations again next year….and then next December will roll around and I will do it all over again.

Until next year, Christmas, until next year.

on the eve of 2019

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As 2018 draws to a close, what another long, strange trip it’s been.  As is the case with every year, there were beginnings and endings.

This was a year where once again I found mankind in general a wee bit disappointing.  Especially with the political vitriol. From coast to coast, print media to Internet to social media to television, it began always with the swirling inanity / insanity coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

One New Year’s Resolution? Just because he tweets, it doesn’t mean I have to read or listen. And for those of you who don’t like my opinion over the dictatorship in place, well cheerfully and with respect, you can stuff it.  I didn’t vote for him, I have never liked him, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing meets charlatan and circus big top ringmaster.

I was a Republican for most of my life, perhaps when sanity returns I will be once again. Truthfully I think both political parties are screwy right now.  I think Republicans and Democrats need to get back to the business of doing what is best for the entire plurality, not just selective factions.  Our government was founded by the people for and of the people and it feels like a dictatorship meets turf wars.  The anger that fuels this country is sick and twisted, and building a wall ain’t gonna change a thing.

In 2019, you don’t have to like my opinion or anyone else’s but we should be going back to the Founding Father’s and our rights to our own opinions. And respect for that lovely thing called the First Amendment. As a SLAPP suit survivor I know of what I speak, don’t I?

Our rights to expression and freedom of speech and the press are neither selective nor subjective. They are freaking inalienable and if you don’t like what someone says, it’s a big world with lots of opinions. And the right to have opinions. So if you don’t like something, move along, nothing to see here. (And that includes this blog.)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is why I support groups in this country like the Institute for Justice.

And can we talk eminent domain? Eminent domain is a vile thing. 2018 saw the rally to Save Stoneleigh (Natural Lands/Villanova/Former Haas Estate/Amazing) from eminent domain (and I will note I had the first big regional editorial on the topic May 18, 2018 in the Philadelphia Inquirer.)

Well, we saved Stoneleigh and on Christmas Eve Eve we learned that Scrooge, I mean the Lower Merion School District, has started yet another eminent domain attempt. Is this the third time is the charm for Copeland and Lower Merion School Board and Lower Merion School District? 2017 was the attempt to go after Ashbridge Park, then Stoneleigh, now two other nearby properties that Villanova University was poised to purchase?

newyears0What remains to be seen is if Villanova will take this lying down.  I hope they don’t. I hope Villanova University files suit against Lower Merion School District.  Some may find my opinion surprising, but I think Villanova is a preferable neighbor when compared to Lower Merion School District and they aren’t wasting taxpayer money like the school district does every time they go on their vision quests of arrogance and greed.

Also 2018 saw all sorts of craziness when it comes to the Mariner II pipeline.  Sinkholes, ruined wells, lessened property values, and raping and pillaging of Chester County.  And a Governor of Pennsylvania who doesn’t give a crap but was the lesser of two evils in the twisted mid-term elections of 2018.

Finally, right before Christmas the residents of Chester County received a gift from District Attorney Tom Hogan when he filed criminal charges against Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners/Sunoco Logistics. What will happen now that DA Hogan has done this is of course anyone’s guess, but for 2019 I hope justice prevails.  What has happened since this news broke is residents of Berks County pressuring THEIR District Attorney to follow Tom Hogan’s lead.  Hopefully Berks, Bucks, and Delaware Counties ALL follow Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan’s lead, right?

thisAdelphia Gateway are you listening? If one pipeline is on our District Attorney’s radar, doesn’t it make sense he will keep tabs on all of them?

And speaking of pipelines, there is this thing (see screen shots on left) which floated by my Twitter feed.  So Mariner II/Sunoco Logistics/Energy Transfer Partners are you ok with this? A homeowner essentially being threatened?

How is this O.K.? You bar people from parts of their own properties, and how is this O.K.???

How is any of this O.K.?  We as residents are not benefitting here. What is raped from the land is shipped away from here to places like Scotland to make plastics, so what do we gain? And doesn’t that in fact make the eminent domain takings of land for pipelines more like eminent domain for private gain? And don’t forget about the bullsh*t fake public utility status and how is it politicians all looked the other way for that again?

not ok2018 with the march of the Frankenpipe has done what exactly to benefit us? The workers aren’t even local guys – you can see it when you drive by job sites.  And with all the work stoppages due to issues and fines, how is this pipeline safe? How are any of the pipelines safe?

As we move forward into 2019, we also need to look at Chester County municipalities and development fever.  East Goshen, East Whiteland, West Whiteland, West Goshen, Tredyffrin, Easttown, and finally Caln Township come to mind immediately.  So hey now? Elected officials? Who is it exactly you are representing again? From ginormous digital billboards to overly dense developments residents do not want (and destruction of open space and historic structures), who are all of you collectively working for? Us? Doesn’t feel that way.

newyearsdwarvesAnd elected officials in Harrisburg? Do we need an act of God before you update the Municipalities Planning Code to offer Pennsylvania residents some protections, land and historic preservation?

Personally, it has been an interesting year.  Lots of wonderful gardening and spending time with friends and family.  It has been a year of reconnecting with friends I had not seen in a long time, and also closing the door on some other relationships.  Cleaning house and recognizing who your friends are is not a bad thing.  Introspection is good, and we do not need to be “friends” with everyone on social media.

I have rediscovered how local politics can be a blood sport out here, but can we say one of the roots of the cause can be when folks deal out good old-fashioned shady assed behavior?

I’m no fool, and I have my battle scars from just a few years living here. I’m outspoken and I’m a blogger. I don’t think you’re supposed to be either in the minds of some people. You are simply supposed to be some form of a Stepford wife. Or a bobble head.

d4a9539112f1d85988f92f91aac1ed48--christmas-images-christmas-holidaysI have done my time over the years of being the subject of gossip for being outspoken and a blogger and this whole theory of knives and knitting needles. And I have been the target of behavior that is so incredibly malicious and hurtful directed at me mostly because I was different from the way they were, or even because I just did not like them.

I think adult social bullying is the worst, and I truly think that a lot of people don’t even realize they are doing it.  Suffice it to say, human beings can be so incredibly cruel to one and other.

I think 2018 will go down in the history books as a year where everyone, everywhere was totally mean to each other. As I have said before, I do believe a lot of this has to do with the stage that has been set in Washington DC. People are so angry from coast to coast, and here in our little corner of the world you see it as well.

fc6e8139e3044880e3a378d28541fe042018 will end with two people still missing whom we have come to know through the people who care about them.   Geoff Partridge of Villanova and Anna Maciejewska Gould of Malvern. Today is #MissingMonday and I hope these people are located.

2018 saw a year where our family lost a beloved pet.  As a matter of fact many dear to me lost pets this year.  The unconditional love and joy they bring us are like nothing else in this world. Remember the pets who have gone over the Rainbow Bridge with a prayer to St. Francis and support local animal rescues.

Although 2018 has been a tumultuous year from coast to coast and locally, it is not without bright spots.  People are good even in the midst of bad.  There are those who offer hope and bright spots when others have disappointed you.  God may close doors, but always look for that window he left open.

573ec8d3396cb6b83fdbbd77c649bad0--ww-posters-ww-propaganda-postersI will tell you honestly I am not a big New Year’s Eve party person and much like St. Patrick’s Day, I would rather be at home.

When I was younger people would look at me funny when I said this. I suffered through many a New Year’s Eve at loud parties that did not suit me.

One of my favorite New Year’s Eves was in the late 1980s.  I was taken to a funny as hell off-Broadway show called Lesbian Vampires of Sodom. Bizarre title and it was (in my opinion) one of the great NYC theater experiences.  I laughed from beginning to end. Pure camp, very funny.

The show was at a small and legendary playhouse in the East Village – the Provincetown Playhouse on McDougal Street. Sadly, after being ruled eligible for preservation status, NYU essentially demolished one the most historic theatres in New York City a while back. The history didn’t matter there, either.

This New Year’s Eve long ago was a New Year’s Eve where some of my girlfriends were seriously pissed at me for leaving the fold and NOT going to a New Year’s Eve party with them.  It was an eventful evening for a few of them that New Year’s Eve. I remember one of my friends met her future husband at the party I blew off for off-Broadway and the East Village of NYC.

But seriously? Usually I am fast asleep waaaayyyy before the ball drops in New York City’s Time’s Square. And at least in my 50s it’s quite alright to stay at home. Even from the Mummers Parade.

I have rambled far long than I intended to today.  My humble apologies, but sometimes the words come pouring out.  I will close by wishing all of you have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve.  Cheers to 2019, and farewell to 2018.

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ghosts of christmas cards past

This morning I slept much later than usual. So waking up was a slow, slow process from a deep, deep sleep.

As I waited for my French Press coffee to be ready I sat there on the sofa looking at our Christmas tree which sits in front of our bookcases. My eyes caught the glimpse of what looked like forgotten mail on top of books on a lower bookshelf. I got up and walked over to pull the pile out. (I have a habit of stashing mail if it’s lying around and people come over. It looks messy to me to have mail lying around.)

It wasn’t old mail, per se, that I pulled out of the bookshelf. What I pulled out was an old pile of Christmas cards tied up with a Christmas ribbon.

Ah yes, another habit of mine. I hang onto Christmas cards. People put so much effort into their cards. They are pretty, personal, and festive. The photo cards are people’s families caught in a moment in time. Sometimes it’s fun to see how everyone has grown, so I untied the ribbon to look at them once more.

These were the Christmas 2016 Christmas cards received. The first card which caught my eye, was one where the envelope had spidery Catholic school taught cursive of years gone by. It was the last Christmas card I ever received from my Godmother who passed away last Christmas Day.

That card had me in an emotional puddle immediately. Was it really a year almost already? She was one of my mother’s oldest friends. She is missed.

Next up was a Christmas card that was literally an annual production. Family friends whose cards often showed up closer to the New Year. When we were growing up, the cards were of the family in various landmark locations throughout the Philadelphia area. They are among my favorite cards because they were always among my favorite people

As the kids in the family, (who are essentially the age of my sister and I) grew up and started families of their own, the cards changed. The Christmas cards became a story of what everyone was doing via photos. Soon their children were also in the photos. I have saved a lot of their cards here and there over the years, they are among my favorites.

Another card which was in the pile was from a local woman I was friendly with for my first few years of living here. That was a card that sort of hit me with irony today because she was a woman who tossed me out of her community Facebook group over my opinions on development in Chester County. At the time she also sent me a note which sort of contained a play on words of my middle name that I didn’t bring her joy any longer. This person wasn’t terribly important to me in the grand scheme of life, and of course I wish her well in her life, but real friends don’t do things like that to one and other. Today I threw out her old Christmas card. There is no point in keeping it.

Another card is from a friend of mine who is an artist. I love her cards and they are a fun different card every year, created and illustrated by her.

My other favorite Christmas “card” is of course from our family friend Margery Niblock. But her cards are not cards they are woodcuts, and they hang on my wall. They never end up in a pile of Christmas cards wrapped in a ribbon. I wish I could show you this year’s woodcut but I’m not sure everyone has received theirs yet that she sends them to.

The rest of the cards are a kaleidoscope of images from friends and family. Kids, dogs, Christmas trees. With the photos of everyone’s kids, it’s like a journal of how they have grown up from year to year. I find those cards fun and very sweet to look back upon.

I do love all my Christmas cards that I receive, and next year I’m going to have to be a better friend and family member and actually get my act together to get a card out in time.

I have a lot of friends who are very creative and saving and displaying their current an old Christmas cards. I am not so original. Every year they end up with either a ribbon around them or in a Ziploc bag and I tuck them away. And every once in a while, like this morning, they fall out of a shelf or a place for me to look at again.

It’s wonderful to have Christmas memories. Even in the form of the ghosts of Christmas cards past.

Thanks for stopping by.

christmas magic

My friend Sara came over this morning. And either while she was here or before she got here someone else was here. And it’s the great Christmas mystery thus far.

Someone left me this beautiful bag with two of the cutest nutcrackers ever in the bag. There was no card, there was no note. It’s like my O. Henry Christmas magic moment.

Only I do not know whom to thank!

If you are my Christmas elf know that I love this present! It’s so awesome and perfectly Christmas!

See that’s the thing about Christmas: if you just believe these amazing things happen.