did you hear the one about a meeting in a municipal garage, a porta potty and no air conditioning? ask westtown…

I am going to let Mindy’s words stand on their own. Yes, Westtown is trying to hold the FINAL planning commission meeting for Crebilly and Troll Brothers in a public works garage.

No air-conditioning, July.

No plumbing, July.

Porta potty in the time of coronavirus, July.

With all residents have been through with this AND coronavirus, this is the plan? Wow. One would think that with all the money the developer and family selling would stand to make one would think they could rent a ballroom in a hotel like the Desmond, right? Or hold it when all could gather safely, right?

But nooooo, it’s a saddle up occasion and here is whom to contact ASAP:

Westtown Township Main Number: 610-692-1930Rob Pingar, Township Manager: rpingar@westtown.orgWill Ethridge, Secretary Planning Commission: wethridge@westtown.orgBoard of Supervisors: supervisors@westtown.org

As Mindy says with every post, IF NOT YOU THEN WHO?

world weary, need humor

I decided yesterday that we have been in our homes since mid-March and I haven’t seen many people since we’ve all been home, but I am really sick of people.

The behavior I have seen traipse over social media is staggering.

The behavior off of social media? Well looting and rioting are not my thing although I have no problems with peaceful protests. The rare occasions I have been out, people drive crazy and seem to act kooky too. So I have actually been happy to stay home.

But even staying home you can’t escape the crazy afflicting people in 2020. It is staggering. And depressing.

I get tired of people not understanding that we can all express ourselves and have different opinions and it’s not the death of us. I get tired of people telling me how I should feel. I get tired of people assuming they know what anyone is thinking.

I get everyone is stressed out of their gourds, but they need to have a little sensitivity towards others. Like all of the people who decided I was a bad person because I asked if more protests were a good thing.

Let’s review: it has been nearly a week since they started in Philadelphia. We still can’t get my parents out of the city because of road closures and more protests.

I see all these businesses that are trashed in a time when the economy can’t take anymore. I worry that protests will spread COVID19 and we will never be free of it.

I worry that we have a Tweeter in Chief who fans the flames of discontent, is unable to unify anything (look at his marital track record so are we really so surprised?) and used a historic church and a bible as a photo op and political prop and cleared his path by using god knows what flash stuff and we are supposed to be O.K. with that? He wants our lives under military rule and we’re supposed to be O.K. with that?

As I reflect on current events, I am mindful of the riots which have occurred in my own lifetime due to racial injustice. The Chicago Tribune even has a sort of timeline because I do not think they have everything listed, just the biggest ones. How many decades do we have to be outraged before real and mindful change occurs? It’s depressing. We says as a nation we want change, but then it doesn’t change. IT HAS TO CHANGE!

And in addition to the George Floyd nationwide response, we have a flailing economy and the great unknown of the COVID19 global pandemic. And the crazy behaviors associated with COVID19. Take for example a friend of mine took a walk today. Noted that a local kiddy playground was still closed when they were walking by. They posted about it. Immediately people jumped all over them and asked why they were outside. Seriously.

And as I type this, many of my friends are still without power after the crazy storms the other day. They have a name – Derecho. It was a storm where you were waiting for Dorothy, the Wicked Witch of the West and the residents of Oz blow by.

2020 is crazy so far. I want a do-over, don’t you?

So I need humor. This comes from a friend of my mother’s. I can’t take credit:

  1. I hope they give us two weeks notice before sending us back out into the real world. I think we’ll all need the time to become ourselves again. And by “ourselves” I mean lose 10 pounds, cut our hair and get used to not drinking at 9:00 a.m.
  2. New monthly budget: Gas $0 Entertainment $0 Clothes $0 Groceries $2,799.
  3. Breaking News: Wearing a mask inside your home is now highly recommended. Not so much to stop COVID-19, but to stop eating.
  4. Low maintenance chicks are having their moment right now. We don’t have nails to file and paint, roots to dye, eyelashes to re-mink, and are thrilled not to have to get dressed every day. I have been training for this moment my entire life!
  5. When this quarantine is over, let’s not tell some people.
  6. I stepped on my scale this morning. It said: “Please practice social distancing. Only one person at a time on scale.”
  7. Not to brag, but I haven’t been late to anything in over 6 weeks.
  8. It may take a village to raise a child but I swear it’s going to take a vineyard to home school one.
  9. I wanted zombies and anarchy Instead we got working from home and toilet paper shortages. Worst Apocalypse Ever.
  10. They can open things up next month, I’m staying in until July to see what happens to you all first
  11. I was in a long line this morning at the grocery store and it was opening at 8:00 AM for seniors only . A young man came from the parking lot and tried to cut in at the front of the line, but an old lady beat him back into the parking lot with her cane. As he approached the line for the 2nd time he said, “If you don’t let me unlock the door, you’re never going to get in there.”

Enjoy your day. You don’t have anything else.

sourdough day 3: looks like we made it!!!

This is what the dojo looked like when I took it out of the refrigerator where it had “rested“ overnight

So after I had done my morning running around the house I took the sourdough loaf of dough that was resting in the refrigerator out and let it sit. (for those just picking this up now see sourdough day one and sourdough day two)

As the dough warmed up it doubled in size!

So the dough, as my friend Tracey promised, doubled in size as it warmed up on the kitchen counter. As further to her instructions I preheated the oven to 500°.

When the oven was heated properly I quickly did slashes in the top of my loaf with a sharp knife like Tracey had instructed and threw it into the oven quickly and reduced the heat to 450° and baked for 30 minutes.

Just a close-up of the finished loaf I think it is so pretty and I’m so proud of myself for doing this!

Well oh my goodness, I made sourdough bread! And it’s delicious! I couldn’t resist tasting and we will be having it with spaghetti and meatballs for dinner! I know I am not the first person in the world to make homemade bread but it took me a long time to get to this point and I am thrilled that I can do this!

Taa Daa! Sourdough bread!

sourdough day 2

So this morning I got my sourdough starter out of the refrigerator and mixed up my first batch of dough ever. I wrote about day 1 yesterday. So welcome to day 2.

I will remind everyone that this is not my recipe, the recipe and instructions come courtesy of Tracey Deschaine who owns Dixie Picnic a marvelous scratch kitchen in Malvern/Frazer. If you live locally I hope you will patronize her business and she has been one of the bright lights in this whole stay at home of it all during COVID-19 by gifting starter and selling flour to those who wish to try.

I will be honest and say it took me almost a month to get fresh flour. Everyone has been sold out of it and even King Arthur is on a backlog for catalog ordering. But because of the generosity of Tracey some of us have been able to buy it when needed.

I actually have made bread before. Even focaccia. I took a baking class with Patricia Polin the pastry chef at The Master’s Baker. But I didn’t venture into bread making solo until now. Bread is like a fun science experiment!

So I used the food scale just like Patricia and Tracey taught me and measured out:

10 oz. of sourdough starter

8 oz. warm water

1 lb. bread flour

1.5 oz. of canola oil. (Tracey calls for Crisco but never use it so I don’t have it)

1.5 ounces of oil ends up being 9 teaspoons.

So I followed Tracey‘s instructions and first I mixed the water and starter and then I added the rest. I mixed the dough until it came together and was smooth and pliable in the bowl. I then let it rest covered with a linen towel at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Then Tracey‘s recipe asks for 0.5 oz (0.8 TBSP) of salt. That’s roughly 2.4 teaspoons. I mixed the salt into the dough and kneaded until the salt was all incorporated and the dough was once again smooth. You can feel the little granules of salt and when you stop feeling them it’s mixed.

I then took my dough and put it in a clean lightly oiled second mixing bowl and covered it with saran wrap. It will sit there and rise at room temperature for about eight hours until I take the next step.

I also decided to grow my starter again today so I could just bake next week again. The last picture in this post will show you that my bread is already starting to grow in size.

What I will do later is shape the dough and de-gas it, i.e. punch it down to remove large air bubbles. Then it will rest on a cookie sheet covered with the saran wrap I use to cover the ball this morning until tomorrow in the refrigerator. Then I bring it out to start the final process before baking.

So stay tuned and fingers crossed that I can do this right and make Tracey proud!

happy 75th frank 😊❤️

This is the thing about true community that no developer in the world or urban planner can bottle and replicate. It just has to exist. Today is my neighbor Frank’s 75th birthday. His friends got a parade together!

I am deeply honored that I was included as I am a new kid on the block, relatively speaking. I have really great neighbors. These people are good honest folk. Frank keeps chickens and through a lot of this stay at home he has been keeping a lot of us in fresh eggs. Fun fact I learned today was that he used to work for Saint Peter’s School at 4th and Pine in Philadelphia for Miss Seamens who was our head mistress or principal. So I actually could have met him when I was little.

Happy 75th Frank! We love ya!

news you can use: you CAN vote by mail and ballots are starting to flow through the mail

Like many others out there, I am choosing to vote by mail this coming primary election. The date for the primary election is now June 2nd.

When I found out in mid-March that we could do this, I registered online for my mail in ballot. I am someone, who as a cancer survivor and still active cancer patient, is considered immunocompromised.

After I registered online at https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/OnlineAbsenteeApplication, I first received a confirmation letter acknowledging my application. Then a couple weeks later I received an email that I mistakenly thought was from Chester County telling me my ballot was being mailed out. Only I never received anything. And because my mail sorts through Wilmington, Delaware before coming back to Chester County, I tried to contact Chester County Voter Services.

Because of the coronavirus world we live in I wasn’t successful at first in contacting the county. So I completed a second ballot application. I still received nothing. So I reached out to Chester County Voter Services again. This morning a lovely lady called me back.

Apparently the acknowledgment email we receive along with the additional email that tells us our ballots are being mailed out are generated on a state platform and not a county level. I mistakenly thought the notification of ballots being mailed out came from the county. Apparently I am also not alone in that misperception. This has created some confusion, as have a lot of things quite frankly being issued from the state level these days. (This is all uncharted territory in a global pandemic and health crisis, so for once in my life I’m actually trying not to be hypercritical.)

Chester County IS mailing their ballots now. BUT if you filed more than one application with the state (like I did) because you were afraid your ballot was lost it’s gumming up the works quite literally. Every time you do a new application it sounds like it kind of voids the other applications, so what is happening is it’s essentially a stop check in the system so people don’t get more than one ballot. Basically we’re slowing ourselves down if we’ve done this. And while I only filed a second application, there are a lot of voters who have filed multiple applications.

If you think your ballot is late but you have the email that proves that you successfully completed the application, DO NOT complete additional applications like I for one did. Contact voter services. They are essential workers so a lot of the time they actually are in the offices but the phones are restricted sometimes because I don’t think there are as many people in the officers to answer them. The phone number is 610-344-6410.

Below is a screenshot of what the online request for mail in ballot looks like. Please note if you want to vote by mail, your county office MUST have your application NO LATER THAN 5PM on May 26. Please make sure you complete and mail it ASAP when you receive it because it has to be received by Election Day which again is now June 2nd.

Thanks for stopping by.

happy may day in coronavirus land

May Day 2017 St. Peter’s School Philadelphia, PA

It’s May Day. Some are scratching your heads. Beltane. Still scratching your head?

From the History Channel:

Beltane
The Celts of the British Isles believed May 1 to be the most important day of the year, when the festival of Beltane was held.
This May Day festival was thought to divide the year in half, between the light and the dark. Symbolic fire was one of the main rituals of the festival, helping to celebrate the return of life and fertility to the world.
When the Romans took over the British Isles, they brought with them their five-day celebration known as Floralia, devoted to the worship of the goddess of flowers, Flora. Taking place between April 20 and May 2, the rituals of this celebration were eventually combined with Beltane.
Maypole Dance
Another popular tradition of May Day involves the maypole. While the exact origins of the maypole remain unknown, the annual traditions surrounding it can be traced back to medieval times, and some are still celebrated today.
Villagers would enter the woods to find a maypole that was set up for the day in small towns (or sometimes permanently in larger cities). The day’s festivities involved merriment, as people would dance around the pole clad with colorful streamers and ribbons.

May is named for Maia, the ancient Roman Goddess who was the incarnation of the earth mother and goddess of spring.

Those of us who went to St. Peter’s School at 4th and Pine in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia will always remember May 1 fondly. Heck if you lived near the school on May 1st you will always have May Day memories. Which is why I was a little wistful this morning when I realized there would be no Maypole or dancing at St. Peter’s today.

May Day, early 1970’s St. Peter’s

May Day was so awesome. We donned our spring best and we did many traditional Celtic things including dancing around the Maypole. The multi-colored ribbons being woven in and out as we danced. (Here is a video from the School in Rose Valley so you can see.) There were also pipe dancers over clay pipes.

May Day was one of the best things about being a kid back then. Ribbons and balloons and music. All your friends and parents were there. It was so joyful. (St. Peter’s photos found here – not mine.)

So Happy May Day to my childhood friends! Happy May Day to all of you!

May Day Maypole Dance Early 1970s (circa 1974 maybe) St. Peter’s School Philadelphia PA

coronovirus emotions are high…can we pause a moment?

Gardens in the Rain : abstract serene rainy garden painting ...

 

We are ALL struggling to varying degrees on some days because this is not an easy thing we are going through.

The world of Coronovirus / COVID19 sucks.  There is no other word for it. We all need to be able to hit the pause button, or should hit the pause button, but so many aren’t, are they? And so many can’t.  Their head is stuck on a loop of uncertainty.

I have not cried at all over this thing we’re all stuck in… until this morning.  CBS This Morning honored some of the dead. Yes, those who died from Coronovirus.  A young firefighter from Chicago.  And the one that really got me? A mom who was my age who died and her son with Down’s Syndrome a few days later.

Did I know any of these people? No, but I cried just the same.  This could be any of us right now.

This crapola is real, people.  And no, Lysol isn’t going to save us so for God’s sake ignore that suggestion from our President to inject disinfectants.  And no, it’s not fake news. Just the verbal meanderings of an utter narcissist.

I know people are delaminating, and rainy days don’t help.  But there are people with real troubles so I have a problem with the attention seekers.  These people are popping up on social media.  They are freaking out friends and acquaintances.

Suffice it to say, things I do not respect include people threatening to harm themselves… just for attention.

Please do NOT cry wolf for attention.

Why? Because it means when someone is truly in crisis, help might not get there in time.

I have seen it happening and the other day someone who is not someone I personally know freaked a lot of people out.  Not very nice. And very, very selfish.

 

 

Maybe I sound hard-hearted here.  I am not.  I think this person probably really needs help.  I hope they get help.  But I have lost people in my life who were friends to suicide.  They didn’t warn us.  They didn’t announce anything on social media or elsewhere. They just did it.  And left lots of people to pick up the pieces.  It’s a heartbreaking thing that haunts those left behind.  But I think in a time like this to cry wolf is perhaps even more awful.

 

 

So again, please don’t cry wolf.  Please.  We are all having good and bad days right now.   I have a friend who is living with a man whom I know is delaminating.  This person has been completely irrational and I am worried about my friend.  Part of me wishes he would just pack up and leave.  He is creating a verbal and emotional reign of terror.

Whether we have families we are home with or even if we are living alone, this COVID19 existence is lonely.  I for example hate the hashtag #TogetherApart because in my head it’s #TogetherAlone, which is so depressing.

 

 

Even a homebody like me wants to get out of the house. But I know I have to stay home. I miss my friends and my family.  I miss my routine.  I miss normalcy.

Except I can’t help but wonder what normal will mean and what normal will become when restrictions are lifted?  What will be our new normal going forward? Going back in time to the last global pandemic, don’t you wish we had some survivors of that to talk to?  To learn what their lives were like and what changed?  What became their new normal?

 

History seems to go on a loop.  Just when we think we’ve learned, history repeats itself.  How can we actually learn from history so it sticks?

A friend of mine said today that her emotions are very close to the surface these days.  That resonates.  We all are living a heightened emotional existence to an extent  because nothing much is normal.  And some days I think we all do have to dig deep to stay positive and to be present.

I wish personally some days I could turn my head off.  But I have to remind myself we don’t know what is next, and not to borrow trouble.  We have to believe. I am grateful my family is alright near and far.  I am grateful I have a garden I can tend and a home I can nest in.

The song videos? Just songs I have listened to this week on Spotify playlists. You have to have music in your life. No particular underlying meaning.  Just songs I like that appeared on playlists this week.

Hit the pause button. Listen to some music.  Remember the blessings we do have all around us even in a world full of turmoil and uncertainty.

I will close with a quote a friend of mine put up:

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to his heart.
Isaiah 40:11a

 

 

can’t stand the social media and other covid-19 stupidity, so might as well bake.

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Bread.

A baking art form I have never mastered.  Well I am going to give it a whirl.  My childhood friend Martha made that beautiful loaf you see above.  (And no, I am NOT sitting in her kitchen in Philadelphia, I borrowed the photo from her Facebook page.)

It’s No-Knead Bread and it is a New York Times recipe:

INGREDIENTS
3 cups/385 grams all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed

PREPARATION
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K.

Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

And why am I conquering my fear of bread making? Well among other things, I have a friend who owns a restaurant who is teaching everyone the fun of baking sourdough bread with her sourdough starter.  So baby steps.

But baking and gardening and cooking distracts me from the idiots on social media.  And it keeps me from looking at the Chester County COVID19 maps. Both of which are good things.

Off to start my dough!

Have a good evening!

corona cooking the good friday edition: salmon loaf

Yes…Salmon Loaf the finished product.

I know it’s one of those things that kind of reminds you of your grandmother. Salmon loaf. I’m told it was a big thing in the depression because canned salmon (or canned mackerel) was something that a lot of people could get a hold of and it stretched a meal.

Today in coronavirus land, I was looking to use things up. In my refrigerator, I had three foil packets of Harry and David cooked salmon. Each is about 4 to 6 ounces per packet. They came in gift baskets over the holidays. And they last forever in the refrigerator unopened but it’s not like nova or gravlax, so I’m always at a loss what to do with it. then I remembered things my mother used to make on Good Friday when we were little.

So I put Carly Simon on Alexa, and got to cooking. Yes Carly Simon. Sorry not sorry but her music is something I have always loved, along with Cat Stevens AKA Yusuf.

First preheat the oven to 350°F.

Next I made the white sauce to go with the salmon loaf after it is cooked.

White Sauce – 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, a 1/4 cup of sour cream, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of dill, a good dash of Tabasco sauce, 1 tablespoon of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper. All you do is whisk it together and refrigerate it until you serve the salmon loaf.

Salmon Loaf– If you don’t have Harry and David cooked salmon to use, 1 large can of red or pink sockeye salmon will do. I would say you need a good 14 ounces of salmon. You also need 1 can of cream of celery soup, 1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs, 1 small sweet onion chopped fine, 3 ribs of fresh celery diced, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1 egg beaten, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of dill weed, 4 tablespoons of whipped cream cheese or the equivalent of block cream cheese mushed up, a little salt and pepper to taste, some potato chips, and Tabasco sauce.

Mix the cream cheese with the Tabasco sauce (just a dash or two to taste), the lemon juice, the beaten egg, the mayonnaise, the cream of celery soup, the celery, and the onion. Next incorporate the salmon which should be pre-fork mashed in its own little bowl. Finally add the breadcrumbs and a little bit of salt and pepper – about a teaspoon of salt and pepper together. I think I used less.

Take a loaf pan and grease it. I used butter because it happened to be out on the counter. I’m sure you could use olive oil. Spread the loaf mixture evenly into your prepared and greased loaf pan and crumple potato chips over the top.

I will note we rarely have potato chips in the house, we just happen to have them from a take out order a couple of days ago.

Then all you do is throw it into your preheated 350°F oven and set your timer for an hour. For those of you who don’t know the size of a loaf pan it is roughly 9“ x 5“. serve with the white sauce and a simple salad. Note that you’re not actually taking the entire loaf out of the loaf pan it will fall apart you get your servings out and refrigerate the rest in the loaf pan once it’s cooled.

Thanks for stopping by.

Salmon Loaf just before going into the oven