pondering christmas decorating…

So this turned out to be an un-Thanksgiving for me and I actually sent my people to my mother’s without me. I have had a 3 day mystery headache…NO I DO NOT HAVE COVID! (Already neurotically tested as we all still do these days.) But today, after 2 Advil, 2 Tylenol, and French Press coffee I am up for a little while with the headache doing a dull roar in the back of my head. I really love Thanksgiving, so I was bummed to pretty much sleep through it.

But headache or not, I am thinking about the Christmas decorations. I watched a Christmas movie last night that had way too much fake garland. It was everywhere. Enough to make you dizzy, and I love Christmas decorating.

But I have only one chunk of imitation Christmas garland. It goes outside on a bench. I do not use real garland any longer, inside or out. It gets dried out too fast. I also just don’t like imitation lit garland inside. Maybe in other people’s homes it works, but definitely not my own. It is just not my aesthetic. What I do use for garland, is a little more old-fashioned. Some say home spun. Wool felted garland. I happened on this quite by accident a few years ago. I just love the old fashioned look of it.

I also love giving wool felted and quilted ornaments as gifts. They are durable, festive, and kid friendly.

In addition to felt garland, I also like rag garland for Christmas. Bits of fabric and burlap. It’s fun! It’s also simple and evokes a happy Christmas simplicity.

Where have I sourced this garland, both wool felted and rag? Everywhere. Locally at different places over the years. And on Etsy, Ebay, Wayfair, and more. It’s gotten popular again and this year I have seen it on Food52’s website, Pottery Barn Kids, some on Amazon, but unless they say what country it’s made in, I don’t buy it. I try to stick to US made. I also like the UK made wool felted garlands, but they can be more expensive.

Why do I like these wool felted garlands? And the rag garlands? They are warm. They aren’t standoffish, untouchable Christmas decorations. They kind of draw you in. I also like the “flag” garlands. My friend’s mom and aunt used to make those. I like a pretty Christmas, not an untouchable ice queen Christmas. I like the nostalgia of Christmas, and love vintage ornaments, so these garlands accomplish that quite nicely.

As I said, I want to decorate each Christmas so that it is warm. I want you to remember a happy echo, not something just randomly and decorator inspired. I think you achieve that each Christmas by collecting what you love. My friend does this in part with all her Christmas putz houses and her very vintage Annalee Christmas decorations. She also shares a love of German kugels with me.

Now something else I love? Wool felted Christmas mice. I seem to have accumulated a bunch of them. Life’s Patina always has amazing ones for their Holiday Open House (which has sadly passed already) and the Smithfield Barn. As a matter of fact, the Smithfield Barn has them at Gas Works in Frazer, PA right now.

Wool felted mice are also all over eBay and Etsy. They are fun and have whimsey. I tuck them into my trees. I have also found them this year on Amazon. And a website called Craftspring which I have never tried, has some wonderful felted ornaments. Even Target has some squishy felted ornaments, although I am only finding a few worth buying. The German Christmas Shop USA has some terrific felted ornaments.

That’s it for me today. Just pondering Christmas.

do we want to preserve chester county… or not?

So this is Chester county. Do we want to preserve her or not? Because we’re running out of time if we do wish to preserve her. If we do wish to preserve her history, her great open spaces (what’s left of them), her farms (what’s left of them) , her architecture (what hasn’t been replaced by endless fields of McBoxes.)

This isn’t a Republican or Democrat thing, this is the people coming together and working to save Chester County kind of thing.

People drive me crazy when they say “Oh but if you only elect this Republican or this Democrat that change will happen.” No it won’t. When did all of you get so dumb about community activism?

All of these politicians bring YOU to them. That’s not the way you do it. The way you do it is every time you have an election, the politicians take on your issues as their issues. Because if you just continue out there to take their issues on as your issues, you will always end up the loser.

No, often it is not nice. It’s hard. It’s a slog. You have all sorts of people screaming and yelling at you and calling you names. You know, kind of like my average day being a blogger. But you have to work if you really want to save something. You can’t just say oh let’s put up a Facebook page and save something. You actually have to do the work behind it. Look at Crebilly. Those folks did not give up. And they did it.

There have been countless groups who have put up private groups and Facebook pages proclaiming their issue. But the thing is they never really get off the social media pages, do they? They don’t go to meetings. They don’t take meetings with elected officials of all levels. It’s like they expect the world to come to them. I have to bite my tongue and not say how’s that working out for all of you?

If they do have loosely held “groups“, often these days you find different members of sad aforementioned “groups” are going in different directions with slightly different objectives that are often counterproductive. It doesn’t work because you all need to come together.

It doesn’t matter what political party you belong to when you’re working for a common goal and a greater good, you leave that bickering at the door. You need to forget the whole thing about oh if we just do this one little thing for this politician then they’ll help us. No they won’t. The goal of them and their campaigns is to make all of you come around to see their perspective. As we learned years ago fighting eminent domain mean in Ardmore, you have to flip that perspective.

And if the politicians make hollow promises, then you vote them out and you start all over again. And you keep repeating the process till you have government that you can work with, that works for the people.

And I have to say after doing the whole thing in Ardmore, also gave me some of the most amazing friends as an adult. I remember the first event I attended that the Save Ardmore Coalition did years ago. I entered a room a stranger and left with new friends, Friends I still have almost 20 years later. I did not start at the very, very beginning. I heard what they had to say, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. Oh and one election cycle we flipped half of the Board of Commissioners in Lower Merion Township to politicians of BOTH political parties who made our issue theirs. And they kept their word and ended eminent domain for good a few months later. As opposed to that eminent domain circus in East Goshen recently , it didn’t take a year to unwind. That my friends was BS, just like the self-aggrandizing Libertarian “award” , “honor” or whatever was bestowed upon supervisors or one supervisor in general, like the day before their spouse became the head of the Chester County Libertarian Party. That was no better than a publicity stunt. And it made me very sad.

So now that the elections are over, it’s time for communities across Chester County to come together to save what’s left of their character. Yesterday because we were going to visit friends further out in the county from us, we had this gorgeous drive back and forth. It made me think. It made me appreciate all over again the beauty of where we call home.

This also means that we have to start getting busy with our state elected officials, the lame ducks and the ones poised to take office in January. They need to start helping us preserve where we call home. And that means changing certain laws so that is possible.

One big thing requiring change is the Municipalities Planning Code. It hasn’t been comprehensively updated seriously since like 1969. And the last time it was comprehensively updated, do you know what one of the developments was that happened as a result of changes? Chesterbrook. We need fewer developments and that means we have to lobby for these people to get off the rear ends and enact an act of the state constitution. We need to redefine suburb and exurb. We need more meaningful historic preservation and land preservation with built-in components to make it more attractive so that more people are interested in doing it.

This isn’t my job to do this. I am a curtain raiser, and I am once again drawing attention to this very important issue. We live in a beautiful place that is not that far off of being completely ruined forever. And those of us who come from the Main Line can tell you all about that because once upon a time the Main Line was truly beautiful and somewhat magical with amazing homes and properties. Now it’s just a suburb with too many people with misplaced senses of entitlement.

And that suburban sprawl continues to move west, or should I say march west because it’s not flowing, it’s attacking. Every time you turn around there’s another development planned. Or land getting gobbled up now by things like data centers and worse which we don’t know enough about here in this area, but in other areas of the country they’re fighting tooth and nail to get these things out of their communities.

We also don’t have to scream to be heard. When we scream we’re no better than those people that annoy the crap out of us at every school board meeting because they are undoubtedly uncomfortable with their own sexuality, so everything they perceive as different, is bad.

Anyway, it’s not just t-shirts and post cards and endless lawn signs that are going to bring us change. It’s involvement in our communities. And it’s consistent involvement, not involvement when the horses are out of the proverbial barn and nothing can be done.

Since the onset of Covid we have the ability in a lot of places for hybrid meetings. They are both virtual and in person. And most meetings are recorded now, and if you are in a municipality that does not record their meetings, start there. You have a right to have your meetings recorded, and/or you have the right to record the meetings in their entirety and broadcast them on YouTube or Facebook live or whatever.

I think the beauty and character and history of this county are worth preserving. That’s all I have to say. But people have to be willing to get involved and stay involved.

I am a realist. Not every old house can be saved, not every old farm can be saved. But I think as an extended group of communities, we can ask better of our elected officials all the way to Washington DC when it comes to this. But we all have to put the political BS aside and try.

Thanks for stopping by.

hey lower merion residents, is this your billboard future?

Hey Lower Merion Township/Penn Valley/Gladwyne is this your future?

The secret is out. Once again the billboard baron is on the march. A reminder of what they did in East Whiteland Township, Chester County:

Oh and these are the trees they weren’t allowed to take in East Whiteland because residents went to PennDOT:

What has recently been heard regarding East Whiteland is that Catalyst withdrew their application from Penndot not so long ago and something like the billboard site is being sold to yet another billboard company?

And here are more views of current uses of the West Conshohocken sign not really so far away from where they want them in Lower Merion:

Yeah so read what came out from one Lower Merion Township Commissioner, Josh Grimes. And people say the commissioner in Bryn Mawr, Scott Zelov is all for moving the billboards so it now becomes the problem of another area of the township? Pretty obnoxious if true, right? Especially given all of the support other commissioners have gladly provided to him all these years over billboards in Bryn Mawr? Really hope this isn’t true don’t you? I also wonder who he’s using for a lawyer this time? Because unless I am mistaken I believe the lawyer he used and East Whiteland is actually Radnor Commissioner Jack Larkin and I wonder how he would feel if the shoe was on the other foot and they wanted to put billboards in Radnor?

And what’s with the carrot and rabbit psychology by billboard company? Kind of like what they did in East Whiteland, right? Perhaps it’s being done this way in Lower Merion because the objective all along was to get the giant TV billboards on the Schuylkill Expressway? Maybe the billboards should go up at “Maple Hill”? That’s in Gladwyne, right?

Please visit Daily Mail to read article

So my opinion which I’m entitled to have as I hope lower Merion fights these billboards because just because the man can buy a house in Lower Merion it doesn’t mean Lower Merion should have to be the location for his billboards unless they’re going on his own front lawn, Anyway, here is what Lower Merion residents are now facing:

things that matter: saying goodbye to pete’s produce

I have been coming here for 30 years” said the nice man yesterday who was taking photos of the farmhouse and remaining sunflowers like me. I think Pete Flynn AKA the Pete of Pete’s has been doing his thing for about 35 years. People tell me before he was a farmer with his namesake store, he was a truck farmer.

Yup. We all have been. Now granted for me, when I first discovered Pete’s I was a Main Liner, so I didn’t get out there often, but when I did, it was magical.

Going to Pete’s has always been magical. Decent prices, friendly people, plants, tradition….community.

But the magic is ending, and the auction signs have gone up and I am just sad.

Pete Flynn has been a beacon of hope in an area being swallowed up by development and pipelines. He deserves to retire, he has worked hard. What is sad is there is no one to take up the mantle after him. Now there will be no farm attached to Westtown School, just like there is no farm attached to Church Farm School. I hope the land is not eventually developed, but I don’t hold out much hope. No one wants to farm much any longer, and those who do have had land prices and taxes driven up by wanton development. That and government doesn’t adequately support farmers on any level.

I do not know how long his website will remain, so I am sharing it now. I hope he keeps it up. I really wish this wonderful place wasn’t leaving us. Farms and farmers deserve a better deal.

Thanks for the memories and great produce, Pete. Thanks for doing something that matters.

life and the nature of relationships. do we know what really matters any longer?

I will preface this post with this isn’t about anyone or any one thing in particular. This is something I have been thinking about. A meandering mash up of things.

In part this is about the nature of friendships and relationships, a lot of what I have been thinking about in part are relationships between women. Now these can be family members who are female or they can just be female friends. But I look at my male friends and they’re pretty consistent throughout our aging process. But the women? Not so much a lot of the time. Women can be hurtful friends. Even when that is not the intent. I am sure I have been guilty of this behavior myself.

Men in my opinion as friends will take you for who you are male or female, be less judgemental, and are upfront if something is bothering them. I will include a caveat and say sometimes men you are in intimate relationships or marriages with may be less open, but I think that’s because of a difference in those relationships to begin with. I actually will leave my own husband out of that category because he is who he is, and is very consistent and upfront with how he is feeling. But then again, sometimes I wonder if part of the way my husband is, has to do with the fact that we’ve known each other for so long and were friends first, or just because that is the way he is? I don’t know but I am grateful he is by my side.

I will admit that I am tough as a person at times. As in I can be tough on people. But I am very devoted to my friends, family, and others that I care about, so when I can’t understand certain behavior, and I seek clarity, but feel like a proverbial door gets shut in my face, I find it hard. I am not saying life is always about me, but what I am saying is sometimes the delivery or expression of what someone is trying to say, sucks. And again, not saying that I am not also capable of this or excusing my personal behavior. These are observations.

I have discovered over the past few years that a lot of the way my relationships have evolved, is I am the person people come to when they need someone to talk to. I keep my own counsel and if I give my word I keep my word. It is an honor to be a trustworthy friend/human being, but I have found sadly as I’ve aged that not everyone reciprocates similarly. Not everyone keeps conversations that are supposed to be private to themselves, and there are some people where conversations are sort of a one-way street, as in when they want to have one it’s cool, not when you might need to have one.

On occasion, I am the one who just needs to talk; needs someone else to listen. Reaching out when that occurs, is not something I just randomly do, so when I do and I feel shall we say, unheard by those who should know me pretty well, it’s not fun.

Sometimes I also find myself having basic trust issues with people, who I feel very guilty about having trust issues with. But I don’t know how to articulate it any better. Especially since COVID, a lot of people are just going through stuff. So I have discovered people don’t necessarily think the same way as they once did. The communication changed and we were all by ourselves for so long that sometimes I think people will just say whatever and have lost the ability to filter.

And the reason I’m writing about this now is I’m finding myself in situations where I’m a little unsure. Sometimes you just feel like you’re doing all of the emotional giving, with little receiving when you need it. It’s hard when you put your proverbial toe out to try to test the water to talk, and it’s like others are not available. Or don’t want to be available. And sometimes it feels hurtful, even if that is not the person’s intent. And well I think no one intentionally wants to be overly sensitive, I think this is a byproduct of all the alone time during COVID.

Now part of the problem with me personally I’m sure is I’ll open my mouth about politics and social issues and I’m not shy or reticent in my opinions in general. But if you’ve known me even briefly, you know that about me. Also as a blogger, I have had people say to me that they couldn’t possibly be friends with me because I am a blogger. Seriously.

There are people who no longer think I am worthy to be friends with since they realized my politics aren’t precisely theirs. They went from people I used to do things with and swap Christmas cards with to complete crickets. I don’t wish them ill, but they know where I live if they ever decide I am worthy again. But sadly, I feel they were but a season in life. You know that old phrase about people being in the categories of reason, season, and lifetime? Sometimes we just have to move on, even if we really don’t want to.

But also since COVID a lot of people have pulled in on themselves and aren’t as communicative. I can also say that about myself honestly, as well. I find that I’ve pulled in a bit. Maybe that’s because we all had to spend so much more time on our own, and perhaps it’s all about getting used to being around people again? Or has COVID made us all a little bit more selfish? Or has COVID just reset the clock a bit to perhaps more the way we were before social media?

In that vein, I can’t control how other people feel or their actions. And I know that I can only control my own actions and reactions. But still I have questions, I have doubts, and I have human frailties. Sometimes, right or wrong, I feel like I’m not supposed to have any of those in the eyes of others.

And then there are the perfect strangers who contact me every day, often all times of the day and night about things going on. I’m not just a blogger, I’m a human being. I have my own life. Sometimes it would be nice for people in general just to say “Hey how are you doing?” I can’t tell you how long it’s been since somebody has asked me something as simple as that.

If we are talking about me simply as a blogger, I like being able to help people when I can. I like being able to help people promote their events. But when I promote an event, generally speaking I have a connection. Either I know people involved with the event, or perhaps it’s just something I support and attend. I am not compensate it in any way when I do something like this I am just paying it forward.

Similarly when I write about an issue, it’s because it’s something I have discovered and I have an interest in. I am not compensated when I decide to do something with an issue. And again, it’s the whole paying it forward because there are so many things in our communities that don’t get any airtime they don’t see the light of day. When it comes to the issues then sometimes people like it, sometimes they don’t.

Recently I had somebody who was a perfect stranger contact me via another person whom I really don’t know to ask me to promote an event. An event was basically happening the next day. I did not reply. And I just didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t write about it, I didn’t share any links on social media about it, I just let it go. One reason was I wasn’t invited to the event in the first place. And I’m not paid to do these things again nor do I expect payment, but it’s also at times a simple question of feeling respected. And if you couldn’t invite me in the first place, yet you contact me in the 11th hour as an total stranger to promote it to save your bacon, how do you think that makes a person feel?

And then after the fact, you discover you did know someone involved with the event, who should have been the one reaching out to ask if I would do something, but then they would have had to have apologized for behavior less than friend worthy a few years ago when who you quietly just let go of that relationship. But this is a person who has left many bodies in their wake in their personal quest for social acceptance and basic climbing, and it will be a while yet before they realize that all of it came at a cost, and eventually they will be alone at the top of their solitary hill, wondering where their actual friends who didn’t care about their somewhat more humble past went? Honey, we’re all still here living our lives without you. We enjoyed your company, would have kept you as a lifetime, but you made yourself a season.

To promote an event or a local issue is not my actual job. As in I’m not paid to do any of this . I do things as the spirit moves me. And most of the people know who know me well know that it’s not a big thing if I decide not to cover something, it’s just not my jam. Yet some people if I don’t cover something, take it very personally. And they often forget the basic premise of I just write because that is my jam. I am not a compensated blogger, and I actually pay to have an ad-free site here.

Maybe sometimes what I’m finding confusing or what I’m actually lamenting are what we were raised with as far as social norms and niceties. You know, manners. A sense of right and wrong.

Also having style is not merely an outfit you wear, it goes a little deeper. Or it should.

One of the other things I’ve noticed since COVID are shall we say boundary issues. People will contact you at really odd times of the day and night. It could be people you know, people you work with, people who are strangers. It’s like all the stuff you learned as a kid growing up regarding when it was polite to contact someone and when you should wait for the following day and so on and so forth is simply gone.

Other seemingly simple things like saying thank you for something. Or sending an actual thank you note. How many of you out there feel like older than dirt because you still send thank you notes I know that you should send them? and that is something I get mad at myself when I don’t take the time for a proper note I just call or text. I know I wasn’t raised to do that. I know I was raised to sit down and take the time and write a note. And I have the note cards and stationary. (Note to self: use your stationary more, it’s a dying art form.)

And then you think about work relationships. How many people now have noticed how work relationships have changed since COVID ? Is it just me or does it seem like work from home also translates to a lot of people that you should be available 24/7/ 365? Is it work to live or live to work? And what about the people who either don’t understand what work from home means, or only want what they want on their schedule, forgetabout yours? I mean sometimes it’s easy to make a mistake because you don’t know what someone else’s schedule necessarily is, but other times is it a mistake?

As our world changes are we supposed to change with it or try to keep some of the niceties we were raised with in today’s world? I don’t know the answer. And it’s something I wish I knew the answers to. It would sometimes make the playing field a little more level or understandable.

Or at the end of the day there could be some things I just quite simply take too personally. And that’s a flaw. But I don’t think so. But I do think about it. Anyway as always, I like to write it out to try to figure things out.

And then there are the sobering realities of life that just make you think and pause.

Two of my friends became widows this year. Neither is old enough to be a widow.

Someone else I know has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and needs a transplant to live. And he’s got so much life left to live I am so upset. (Read about this here and share.)

Finally, another friend is rushing to their brother’s bedside, whom I also know. The family is about to say good-bye to a tremendous human being.

Sometimes I wonder what God is trying to teach us while I marvel at the pond scum who blithely inhabit this earth while good people suffer and even lose loved ones. Sometimes if I am honest, I struggle to see the beauty in this world, and remember life’s blessings, I actually really DO try to remember why we are here on earth. But as human beings is it just too much work to be the best we can be all of the time? If so, what is the solution?

I am open to conversation here, because I really would like to know how people feel about some of these topics I’ve raised today in this post.

Stay dry and have a cup of tea. It is the perfect weather for that!

Thanks for stopping by.

hot tip

I am a tea drinker as well as a coffee drinker. And I like looseleaf tea. Which means when you brew it you have to strain it unless you want to drink all the little tea leaves. You need some kind of a tea ball if you’re doing just one mug or big cup of tea for yourself. I also think brewing looseleaf tea just taste better than tea out of a tea bag.

My favorite tea strainers and tea balls are the ones that come from Germany. They are vintage or antique, and they are woven like a little baskets, hence the basket weave description.

These tea strainers come in brass and silver. But over time they can get quite dark because no one has cleaned them and also the tannin from the tea stains them.

I use and collect these whimsical tea strainers. Sometimes I even sell some because you can’t keep everything. But cleaning them up sometimes can be a bit of a bother. But the whole idea of using something that is going to sit in my tea cup as it strains, makes me think more holistically and chemical free as far as cleaning the actual strainers. So I use the old baking soda and tinfoil method.

I literally put the strainers in a mixing bowl of hot water lined with tinfoil and loaded up with baking soda. And then I just let everything soak. Sometimes I do it overnight and it’s fine, other times I have to do it over the course of a couple of days and change the water and baking soda out for fresh. And then I wash everything and polish it up with a soft cotton cloth.

It might not get shiny bright as if I used silver polish or brass cleaner, but I think that’s better for my cup of tea and me as far as ingesting chemicals.

Anyway that’s your hot tip, and if you’re wondering what tea company I like to buy a lot of my tea from that is looseleaf, it’s a company called Golden Moon. I discovered them completely by accident a few years ago and their teas are very good. I also like Scottish blended teas but they’re hard to get here.

a september soup tale

Soup. It’s just one of those things that once in a while you just want. There’s no rhyme or reason. Today was one of those days. This is a soup tale, not necessarily a traditional soup recipe, because I just made it up and you’ll have to follow along.

I save leftover chicken and actually bones and carcasses from roast chickens and freeze them to make bone broth . I also freeze necks and giblet that come inside a roast chicken when you purchase it from the store.

Today I also had acorn squash left over from a farm box, some fresh onions, garlic, a couple of hot peppers from my garden, and a big container of beautiful local mushrooms. So to me it said “don’t let anything go bad, make soup.”

First I got out my small instant pot and I added all my chicken bits. Then I added a sprinkle or two of kosher salt, fresh sage rosemary and thyme, a healthy dose of Lebanese Za’atar spice blend, Shawarma spice blend, and Persian Advieh.

I know, I know I have a weakness for exotic spice blends and different kinds of paprika. Paprika however was not in this recipe.

So I hit the broth setting on my instant pot after covering up my chicken parts and spices with water, leaving a gap of about an inch to an inch and a half at the top inside. After I cooked it all on the broth setting which is about 40 minutes, I added an extra five.

Meanwhile, I took out a cookie sheet pan and made a large tinfoil pouch and put inside of the pouch the acorn squash quartered, four medium to small size carrots cut into little circles, one large fresh onion chunked, and finally I added a small head of garlic, cloves peeled. I drizzled olive oil on top, tossed in a little bit of salt, folded everything up into a package and put it into a 400° oven for about 40 minutes. When the vegetables were done I turned off the oven and set it on the stove top as I waited for the broth to cool down.

When the vegetables were cool enough to handle, I scooped the squash from its skin and put it and the other roasted vegetables into a soup pot with fresh sage, thyme, rosemary. Not a lot just a little bit more, and a couple of dashes of Sherry vinegar.

After the broth had cooled down enough, I drained the broth through a strainer into my soup pot. I put the chicken parts and bits that I had used to create the broth in a metal mixing bowl to cool further. I used a hand blender and emulsified everything, adding to that believe it or not, 2/3 of a cup of creamy peanut butter.

I know peanut butter sounds odd, but when I was a kid and we first went to Historic Williamsburg one of the historic taverns in Williamsburg served a peanut soup, and it was a chicken stock base with peanut butter and it was amazing. It’s a flavor profile that I like. It doesn’t taste like a Reesie’s cup or anything like that but you do have that undertone of peanut butter flavor. Of course, if you’re allergic to nuts you can’t do this.

So what was my next step? I turned the stove on low underneath the soup. I added back the chicken I picked off the bones of the chicken I used to make the broth with. Then I sliced up all the beautiful mushrooms (baby Bella) I had, and tossed them into the soup pot, followed by two additional carrots and one apple grated. Finally, I had about a half a cup of Minnesota wild rice left over from last year, and since it only has a shelf life of so long, into the pot it went!

I have pretty much pre-cooked the soup and I will turn it off and just let it cook away in the pot with the lid on. I will let it come to room temperature and by that time it will be close to dinner, and I can then heat it up. And allowing this soup to sit hot like this will also help the wild rice cook because if you’ve ever cooked with wild rice you know it takes literally twice as long as any other kind of rice. I prefer wild rice in soup because it holds up very well.

For a made up soup of leftovers essentially, it is not bad. Sometimes I am like the kitchen sink cook, and it’s whatever is around goes in something. In this case it has worked out really well and I have to tell you the flavor profile of the soup is wonderful and emulsifying the vegetables and the broth with the peanut butter gives it a creamy texture without adding any dairy products.

Given inflation, food prices, and the economy, perhaps being a kitchen sink home cook is not so bad? I literally bought nothing special for this recipe I used everything I had around the house or in the garden.

The kitchen smells really good right now. Thanks for stopping by.

for the love of dogs: loss

Boo Boo Schnitzel 2012-2022

A few short days ago, I introduced you to my dog (see this post.)

Today we said good-bye to him at VRC in Malvern. The grief has been hiding at the edges since we took him in last week. Now it’s here. The tears are running so fast, I can’t see some moments. But writing has always been my catharsis, so I have to write it out. I need to tell a little of his story. A beautiful rescue dog who will forever, remain in my heart.

He is one of the happiest dogs we have ever had. Always wanted to play, always wanted to bring you a toy. Or greet you with a leaf he picked up off of the ground. A fearless chaser of squirrels, chipmunks, deer.

He came to us at six months old when he was dumped with his sibling on the streets of Philadelphia. I can’t find his first photo when I first met him. I have it somewhere.

Boo Boo came to us unexpectedly. We weren’t looking for him. I had (back then) recently said good-bye to his predecessors, Iggy and Mr. Peanut. Iggy we had lost at 8 to canine lymphoma. As I was finishing my radiation for breast cancer, Iggy was starting chemotherapy.

Anyway, one day a few months after losing first one then the other, I got a phone call at the office from Bill Smith, then at Main Line Animal Rescue. There was a puppy. He and his sister had been dumped on the streets of Philadelphia. A PSPCA volunteer was taking his sister. “Did I want him?” my friend Betsy asked (she was also on the call.) She knew it was soon, and we had just said good bye to Iggy and Mr. Peanut a couple of months before. Then they texted me a photo. It was all over. He came home. He was, as they say, a foster fail. He never left.

Keeping watch for squirrels and foxes and deer and chipmunks.

Ten years have gone by in a flash. I wish I could find the amazing words like John Grogan or James Herriot, but right now I feel, well, gutted. I can see him on the very first day we bought him home and so many moments in between.

He was almost Clarence, but then he was just a Boo Boo.

The kaleidoscope of memories includes him marching back and forth on top of the old logs in the woods, daring a chipmunk to pop up, chasing a deer out of my garden beds, investigating Christmas presents under the tree, rolling in deer poop (yes really, he was Captain Deer Poop), racing through the snow to chase who knows what, barking barking barking (boy loved to bark), curled up on someone’s lap, the grand poobah of the bed, begging food, under my feet like a trip hazard in the kitchen while I cooked, giving us kisses, and chasing the hose.

Oh that dog chasing the hose and water. I could garden up until watering time, and then I had to put him in the house. Then he would sit inside and whine. He just loved chasing the water.

Boo Boo also had a group of ladies. My friends. They would come over and he would sit in their laps making eyes at them.

Puppy dreams as a puppy.

This was a dog who was just happy, so very happy. He loved and was so loved in return.

Then last Tuesday, his world fell apart. It was like he couldn’t control his limbs. We called our regular vet Dr. Hahn at Main Line Vet in Malvern. “Take him to VRC.” Was he sure? Yes he was sure. We went to VRC.

At first they thought it was Myasthenia gravis. Then that test was negative, and so was the extra large tick borne disease panel. Yesterday they did an MRI. The only thing left was something brain related. We almost lost him going under anesthesia to go through the MRI machine. His heart rate dropped dramatically. They stabilized him, he went into the MRI on a ventilator, and he did really well with the test.

Dr. Tracy our neurologist called as he was coming out of anesthesia. We finally had what it was: something kind of rare. Immune mediated meningitis – not environmental. With a lot of dogs the recovery rate can be up to 85%. They treat it with steroids and something cytosar, which is a chemotherapy drug. His brain stem was inflamed, brain swollen.

Deep breath. Here we were again with a dog with a chemotherapy drug. Boo Boo was already on steroids, but they started the infusion yesterday afternoon, and we were ALL hopeful. This time yesterday, I was making plans to bring him home.

At a little before 9:00 AM the phone rang. It was Dr. Tracy. Boo Boo was worse, could we come in. Basically, we were out of options, and we needed to come back for his final time on earth.

We got to VRC and the parking lot was jammed. So many people, so many dogs. They took us back to ICU. We could see his time had come. VRC tried so hard. It was just simply too late when we finally figured it out. In the ICU with Boo Boo was that Bernese Mountain dog that got stuck in the mud on the banks of the Schuylkill River for 13 days until some kayakers saw her. She seems to be holding her own.

We weren’t so lucky. Boo Boo wasn’t so lucky. I am glad for that dog’s humans, but I selfishly wish my boy was in his bed under my desk as I write. Just like he has been for the past decade.

We went to the good bye room and waited for them to disconnect him from his IVs. My friend’s daughter is a nurse at VRC and she bought him to us, which was another blessing in the midst of this raw sadness and grief I am feeling. She is also a magnificent human being like Dr. Tracy, and has that soul of true kindness just like her mama.

We all held him, and in true Boo Boo fashion, he tried to rally because his humans were with him. He wagged his tail some, and gave us all a lot of kisses. That almost broke me then and there, because he had not been able to do that really for a week.

Boo Boo loved the snow.

I told him I loved him and always would. They came back with the drugs. I held him as he passed. He quietly slipped away and I felt his last beat of his little and huge dog heart. Dr. Tracy was with us the entire time. I am forever grateful for his care and for genuinely caring about our dog.

We are not bringing his ashes home. He is in every corner of our home and forever in our hearts. He is being donated to Penn Vet for science. Maybe then someday, other families will have answers more quickly and not go through what we are going through. Veterinary medicine, like human medicine is constantly evolving. I daresay, even a decade ago, we would not have even had this last week with him.

Now all we will have left after the sadness and grief recedes, are memories. Memories of a dog whom I loved fiercely (even when he decided to pee on the edge of a cabinet, or door, or something he wasn’t supposed to), and who loved all of us just as fiercely in return. It will be a long time before I stop thinking I see him running through the back yard into the woods, or running OVER a squirrel to chase the one beyond that particular squirrel. At night I will continue to hear the bark bark bark of his nightly routine and woods patrol for a long time.

Dogs give us that unconditional love. In return, we have to do what’s right when it’s time. And that is the hardest part, setting them free of what is ailing them. We want to keep them close, but then we have to say good bye, because it’s the terribly hard and right thing to do.

Well that is the abbreviated story of 10 years of a glorious dog life. How lucky we were to have him.

Chase those heavenly squirrels now my darling Boo. Run free forever. The bad stuff is over.

Me? I wish I could be brave and have the proverbial stiff upper lip. But I just can’t. My heart aches. These magnificent creatures are in our lives for such short periods of time. There is never enough time. Then they live forever in our hearts and memories.

Run free my darling dog. The bad things are over.

pay it forward: contribute to the love thy neighbor fund

When a friend texts you a photo like this holding THEIR wedding photo, you feel like the room is spinning. And in my world, we have been so caught up in a very sick dog in ICU at VRC, I had no idea my friend’s barn caught fire Saturday morning.

Thankfully, none of the animals or humans living on the farm were killed or injured. And no, the house didn’t catch fire. But they had just moved to the farm and were painting the farmhouse and fixing her floors….so all of their possessions: furniture, clothes, pictures, kid’s toys, books, shoes, etc, etc WERE IN THE BARN. Along with farm equipment.

The barn and contents are a total loss. Thanks to the marvelous firefighters in Chester County, the house was saved and so were all humans and animals. Kimberton Fire Company took the lead here, and they were so amazing.

It is a daunting loss. But we love our friend Ashley May Brenner and we are paying it forward for her, like she does for everyone else, every single day. It’s who she is. A hard working, pretty, intelligent woman who is also a young widow. She has the biggest heart. And she needs not only a barn raising right now, she needs a life raising.

So some of us who are her friends, along with some of our friends have banded together to give Ashley and her family a hand up. We have started a Go Fund Me and truly hope to surpass our posted goal because fundraising platforms charge a percentage. We are hoping you can help us out? Any amount you can spare?

Please?

Here is what we said in the Go Fund Me:

Love They Neighbor❤️

This past weekend an amazing local family lost just about everything in an early morning barn fire. Having just moved in two weeks ago all of their furniture, clothes, toys, and household items were being stored in the barn while they did some painting and renovating. While the true blessing is that no one was hurt and the animals were all rescued safely by our amazing local fire companies the reality is that a home needs furniture, and lamps and stuff, closets need filled, kids need toys, and so on. I have had the absolute pleasure of knowing this family for several years now and while I agree with her that all that was lost were just things and things can be replaced I also believe when a friend, a neighbor, when anyone needs help you simply help in any small way you can. This woman is truly an amazing, strong, and beautiful soul.. having lost her husband unexpectedly one month ago, to moving her family and animals to their new farm two weeks ago, to now this she has been nothing short of courageous and strong through it all. Always finding the silver lining in anything and everything she can… she is amazing, her kids are amazing, her animals bring smiles to so many, and it’s time to show them some good old local love in the form of a “house raising”. While the barn raising will happen in the future it’s the house we are focused on filling now… so…the barn is joining together with several other amazing local community members to reach out far and wide for help…

Help comes in all ways and forms… it comes in donating gift cards to the family for supplies, food, and more…. in contributing to a go fund me that will be going live later today, and most importantly through kind words, love, and support from the community around you. It takes a village and this village is going to show up for this family.. so if you can help rebuild dreams, help fill the house, help create new memories and smiles thank you. Thank you for showing this amazing family what a village can do when led by neighborly love…❤️

And… always, always, always remember your local fire departments.. always there when you need them and always going above and beyond.

❤️Love what…. and who…are local ❤️

If you want to help with this “house raising” gift cards can be dropped off at the barn (425 Little Conestoga Rd Downingtown). If you have furniture or other items to donate off the wish list please send me a private message to coordinate. 

If you’d like to send a card or note or something else to show your neighborly love that too can be dropped off here at the barn. If you’d like to help delivering furniture and other things let me know! First load is headed over today!! And if you’d like to help in any other way please just reach out….

Let’s join together to show this amazing family what a community can do when we all lend a helping hand❤️

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you❤️❤️❤️

~LOVE THY NEIGHBOR ❤️ASHLEY MAY BRENNER FUND❤️

Hunting for anything that might have survived among the ashes.

But for the Grace of God go any of us here. This could be any of us. So we are asking for the community to rally for one of our own.

Here is the story told by Kimberton Fire Company (CLICK HERE.)

I really hope that people in Chester County can put aside their differences that seem to grow by the day to help this family.

At the end of this post will be a slideshow of photos. This next photo is what the barn looked like before the fire. It was a magnificent 18th century barn and they also want to rebuild.

Shortly after they moved into Cloverleaf farm just outside the village of Kimberton.

Please help if you can. Even sharing to someone who can help if you can’t is a help. Yes this is personal for me, because Ashley is my friend. And she did not ask us to do this, because she is so self-reliant and independent. But she is our friend and we want to help. So please consider helping us help her.

Here is the link to LOVE THY NEIGHBOR ❤️ASHLEY MAY BRENNER FUND❤️ or https://gofund.me/55805ac1

Thank you for stopping by and thanks for reading.

But for the Grace of God go any of us. Also, please support your local fire department wherever you live.

sometimes local/regional political history is interesting. have you checked out “what kind of guy” from 2008?

From 2008

A lot of times websites that pop up during political campaigns disappear. While Googling for information on a 6th District Congressional Candidate, to see what a certain “guy” was about in past political endeavors, I stumbled upon a gold mine of elections past. There was this website devoted to this “guy” running for Congress, only back then he was running for State Rep and the website never came down.

https://whatkindofguy.wordpress.com/

Given the way that Chester County Republicans behave and the way this “guy” and his campaign behave, I will undoubtedly get blamed for this too. Because if you can’t figure out someone to blame, blame this blogger, right?

Only in this case? I didn’t know it existed because this “guy” wasn’t somebody I had to contemplate voting for prior to this.

Allow me to post a brief excerpt so you can go check it all out for yourself.

It’s just so funny it’s like it’s been waiting for him to run again. And no I don’t know who did the website but it’s very amusing.

We rest our case. (October 28, 2008)

Election Day is almost here, and we believe we have told you what Guy refuses to tell you about his record.

We have told it to you in a truthful manner.

You have a choice to make this Tuesday, November 4th.

Based on the evidence, there is no doubt that Guy is an extreme partisan Republican. He has been for 28 years. He is trying to hide from it, because he doesn’t think he can win if he tells you the truth. Personally, we can’t imagine changing who we are for anything; particularly while deceiving tens of thousands of people. Guy is obviously ashamed of who he is and who he has worked for in the past, and if I were George Bush or Dick Cheney or Rick Santorum or Melissa Hart or the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I’d be a little offended.

Guy wants to be your State Representative in the 157th District. He wanted to be the State Representative in the 185th District as well. He also wanted to represent the people in the 19th senatorial district. Amazing how Guy cares so passionately for the residents and communities of both South Philly and our community. And in just a matter of years! We wonder if Guy is more interested in elected office, than he is in you?

We would like to tell you why you should vote for Paul Drucker. But, this is a site about Guy. So, we will leave you with this: Paul Drucker is not a career politician. He is doing this for one reason: because he truly cares about this community where he has lived for almost 30 years, and because he enjoys helping people solve problems. He has no further political aspirations. He will listen to you, and work hard for you.

This race is now in your hands.

Thank you for listening.

~ https://whatkindofguy.wordpress.com/ October 2008

Wow just wow. So #NOTourGUY

Also read:

…should be measured by the company he keeps?

…won’t acknowledge his past attempts to seek elected office?

Heck, check it ALL out – https://whatkindofguy.wordpress.com/

You have to wonder if whoever did this site in 2008 is still around to update it to today? But it is a gold mine of public information publicly sourced if you are curious about one of your candidates for public office this coming November. If you’re not curious about your candidates don’t look at it.

But I’m telling you this is like a political Pandora’s box. And sadly for this candidate now running for U.S. Congress in the 6th District, perhaps still relevant?

#WhereisGUY ? Stuck still in 2008? Has this candidate evolved or is this “guy” still cut from the same cloth leopards don’t change their spots? Time will tell.

Enjoy your Monday. Taa taa for now….