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preservation party with a purpose

When you go to a party at Duportail it’s alway fabulous. But it’s especially fun when it is a Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust event.

This evening was the preview party for the TPT Historic House Tour which is Saturday, September 23. (You can still buy tickets and it’s so awesome a day!)

This event is courtesy of my dear friend Pattye Benson who is President of the Trust and Innkeeper at The Great Valley House of Valley Forge.

The preview party was terrific and as always wonderful food and gracious company.

And the music. The music was fabulous! We had the pleasure of listening to the CPFA Jazz Mavericks from the Center for Performing and Fine Arts in West Chester. These young musicians were incredible!

A wonderful evening and all about historic preservation. All proceeds benefit the Living History Center at Duportail.

Remember you can still sign up for the house tour! It’s going to be amazing and there will be a stop at another favorite place – Life’s Patina at Williwbrook Farm! (It’s their fall sale weekend)

remember our history!


**Robin Ashby photo credit.**

Look how cool! The 240th Anniversary of The Battle of The Brandywine. If I have my numbers right, I believe there are over 800 re-enactors here for this.

These events remember how our founding fathers fought and died for our freedoms. They deserve to be honored, and as Americans we should honor their legacy.

Also remember sites like this and the importance of preserving our history the next time there is a meeting on Crebilly — which is this Tuesday.

There is a conditional use hearing coming up this coming week as per Crebilly Farm Friends:

NEXT CONDITIONAL USE HEARING

Tuesday, September 19th, 6PM – 10PM

RUSTIN HIGH SCHOOL

1100 Shiloh Road, West Chester, PA 19382

Historical Significance Letter to your legislator

Negative Impact Letter to your legislator

Preserve the Brandywine Battlefield on Crebilly Farm

Neighbors for Crebilly also tells us:

John Snook of the Brandywine Conservancy will be the last expert for the Westtown Planning Commission to testify after which time groups and people with party status will be permitted to present their own witnesses.

small art

Small art is anything but. They are a little jewel boxes of works of art that you can tuck into small corners in your home. You can even tuck them into bookcases.

My friend Sherry Tillman, who is an artist and owns a store in Ardmore, PA called Past*Present*Future used to have an artist show hang in her store occasionally during First Friday Main Line events called a "Square Deal".

This "Square Deal" was a show that always intrigued me – it was a show of literally small art as in inches big that was affordable to everyone, and helped spread the principle of art in unexpected places and didn't intimidate people. Because that is the thing about art – it shouldn't intimidate people but it often does.

A lot of people when it comes to the art in their homes are hung up with names and value. To me it is more important to have something hanging that you love to look at, versus an actual monetary value.

Nothing is worth anything if it does not bring you pleasure when it comes to art. And beautiful art can be sourced from all sorts of places and doesn't have to cost a lot.

For example, one of my favorite pieces in my home has no real value and I found it quite literally on a trash pile before a home in Haverford, PA was demolished years ago near the Haverford School. It had meant something to the occupants of the home at one time, but it wasn't anything that would ever have resale value so after the property was sold the house with everything that was left inside of it was demolished. This one piece was left propped up with bags and bags and boxes of trash and I happened to see it walking my dogs. So I took it off the trash pile, and had it reframed.

Again, nothing valuable, I just like it.

And that is how I have chosen my art. Do I like it when I see it? Does it evoke emotion in me? Do I think it's pretty?

I have never forgotten those "Square Deal" art shows. They have made me mindful of the beauty of small pieces, so when I see ones that I love I don't pass them by.

Recently I found three very small pieces. Not expensive, in fact so inexpensive you might term them "cheap" yet there's nothing "cheap" about them.

These pieces are Chester County scenes and they are literally inches big. None of them are signed that I can determine, but I think they're beautiful.

I just tucked them into little spots around my house. And there they will hang, bringing me pleasure.

I have written before about how you can find art all over the place. You can find artists hanging art at local fairs and festivals. You can find art at garage and yard sales and even estate sales. You can pick art out of barns, and find it in thrift shops and consignment stores. The piece just above this paragraph is a little winter scene oil painting. I paid six dollars for it. It is about 3" x 5". Tiny and I love it.

You can also find reasonably priced art of lesser known artists at local galleries. It doesn't have to be expensive – the most basic of rules (again) is you just have to like it.

The only person you need to impress with your art choices is yourself. Art is a very personal thing – just ask any artist who creates. And don't forget as we grow as human beings, often or tastes will change or evolve. So you don't have to be wed to pieces. You can swap things out.

Twenty years ago I would've looked at people like they were crazy if someone mentioned to me how cool small art was. Today, I totally get it and appreciate it.

Experiment with small art. And always remember you can source local art probably more inexpensively wherever you live then the fake art canvases you will find at stores like Home Goods or TJ Maxx.

When you find yourself a piece of local art it ties you to where you are from no matter where you move in the course of your life. Small art is portable. And to me the other thing that is important to me is someone actually took the time to create it, it just wasn't an image transferred in a factory onto a canvas.

One of the great things about living in Chester County is the fact that there is a thriving arts scene. You can find beautiful quality pieces hanging in local galleries and shops, festivals, fairs, and so on. And one of the things I love is the abundance of small pieces out there that you can buy to experiment with.

Small art. It's a good thing 😊

Thanks for stopping by.

drivers have rights too

I am all for cycling. But as a driver I have rights too.

I was driving on Ravine Road in East Whiteland. It's twisty and narrow. The cyclists were not going one by one up the road, they were traveling a couple across which would not have made for safe passing. (And it's a road where you could not even pass safely in my opinion.)

So I put on my hazards and stayed behind them at literally a snail's pace. And these two cyclists in front of me were talking to each other on their way up the hill. No offense to them, but they were on a windy and narrow public road with cars behind them and opposite them, not a nature trail.

And when they got up to where Ravine meets West King, you can see clearly in the second photo where they just migrated across the road without even the courtesy of a hand signal.

Once years ago when I worked in Conshohocken, on my way to work traveling down Conshohocken State Road which is another windy and somewhat hilly narrow road, I passed by police and paramedics tending to a cyclist who had been hit. I never forgot that scene. It was horrible.

I have a lot of friends who cycle, and they're courteous to drivers. When you run into cyclists like this who seemed so oblivious to their surroundings and vehicles, this is why motorists get frustrated with cyclists.

Please cyclists, we as motorists are trying to be courteous and cautious when you are on the road with us. Please afford us the same courtesy.

the pipeline destruction of chester county breaks my heart

The ugliness of the Sunoco pipeline takes my breath away every time I see it.

Where there once were trees and beautiful landscapes, all you see is destruction. It's now a barren, jagged, raped landscape.

I travel down Boot Road, 352, and similar roads and I see the little orange flags that mean what once was someone's front yard will now be pipeline. I have seen photos all over social media of people's gardens dying because of what Sunoco has done to the landscape.

Every time you see land that was once graceful and lovely or even just had trees that now has become all jagged and bare and dotted with construction equipment and orange construction fencing you can't help but wonder how can they not see this? How can they not care? How can our elected officials seemingly not care?

Sunoco has just stomped along and taken what it wants, when it wants, like a big corporate bully that it is. And the people working for them often seem lacking in respect in my opinion for the residents a lot of the time. We all understand that they have jobs to do and families of their own to feed, but do you think they could even be a little bit more considerate where they are parking at times?

Sunoco's talking heads will tell everyone how they care, but really? Do they think we are stupid? We know they don't care…..except about their bottom line of course.

It's like the inalienable rights that we are all supposed to have as US citizens and even as residents of Pennsylvania mean nothing.

And how will we benefit from the pipeline? I don't think we will and only corporate greed will benefit, correct? How is any of this being done for us?

It would be great if politicians enamored of big gas and big oil would travel the roads and see what we see. Let them deal personally with their land that is part of their home being stolen via eminent domain. (And in my opinion it's also eminent domain for private gain which is detestable. ) Let these politicians personally deal with wondering if their kids are safe, their first responders are safe, and the drinking water is safe, right? Let them watch their real estate values plummet, right?

So how about it Governor Tom Wolf? U.S. Senator Pat Toomey? Congressman Pat Meehan? Care to walk a mile in the shoes of Chester County, PA and Delaware County, PA residents? Never mind, don't bother answering we know you don't care.

This pipeline is a referendum on why we must choose our elected officials on every level better. It might be an off year election this fall but it's never too early to start. It's time to clean political house in Pennsylvania.

the evolving gardener

One of my gardening heroes (and friends), Gene Bush had sent me a note to check in and say hello. He said in part:

I was hoping that I could convince you to write the story of your surgery and how it affected your gardening.

Well I hadn’t thought about it, but it has most definitely affected my gardening. I will note it is not necessarily bad, however it makes the game different now.

My travails with my right knee started in the winter. At the bitter end of February and first couple of days in March, one day, something went pop. It was so loud a sound, literally a “pop”.

That pop was my meniscus. The day it happened I was in the house alone and the pop sent me to the floor, where I stayed for a while, in considerable pain not able to get up and afraid to move.

Eventually I pulled myself up by using the low, heavy bureau I crumpled in front of and hobbled to the bed. This was how I spent the next couple of months – hobbling in pain within my home . It was my right leg, so that also meant no driving….and no walking….and worst of all, no gardening.

I pretty much spent weeks and weeks with my leg elevated and supported in bed as I went through the process of our healthcare system. Getting a surgeon, let alone getting approved for a surgeon by health insurance companies is NOT a speedy process any longer.

As I the days stretched into weeks, I realized that I would not be doing my late winter/early spring clean-up in my garden myself. That meant I also wasn’t going to be putting down all of the mulch I put down every spring.

I am a hands on gardener. I am used to doing for myself. So now I had to find some qualified gardening help.

For a while I had toyed around with using someone I had used in the past, but decided against that person. They were not inexpensive and when I had used them last, quite a few actual plants were removed with weeds. And the plants weren’t, say little clumps of mint or something, one of the plants was my white currant bush and I have been looking for about three years for another one.

I received a referral from a friend for a local landscaper. He spread most of the mulch and God bless him, dug out a 40 year old patch of forsythia so I could have another flower bed. Forsythia is miserable to remove as I removed a lot last summer. Forsythia is why I invested in a spearheaded spade, truthfully.

I paid the landscaper for the work I had initially contracted with him about, and scheduled some more, including driveway edging. The problem is he never returned. He kept making and breaking appointments so eventually I gave up. I will note that I have since done my own driveway edging, I just had to do it standing with more movement of my arms and shoulders then my knees.

By this point we are into May and I had finally had my surgery. Yes, it took that long. Between dealing with insurance company nonsense and the busy schedules of competent surgeons and all the pre-procedure minutia, it was May before I had my surgery.

If you are a gardener you know that a surgery like knee surgery can put you tremendously behind the eight ball. I did my best to find other garden help, but to no avail.

The irony is, I would never hire anyone to do something I was not willing to do myself or generally speaking usually did do myself. But I had people show up, look at my garden which is the rather good shape truthfully, tell me what they might charge… and then they just disappeared.

I can’t tell you how frustrating this has been. So it has made me rethink how I garden. Here I am, offering to pay someone to assist me, and basically they don’t want to do the work.

I am also frustrated by those I interviewed who wanted to tell me how my garden should be. That wasn’t why I was trying to contract with them for garden help. I have my vision, I just need a little help now and again executing it. It’s hardly impossible, it just requires thought and effort. But the difference is, I have an actual garden and in today’s society a lot of people do not. They live in developments where associations within that development make the gardening decisions and often contract out for all of the residents. Everything is the samey- same from house to house.

I will admit I found recovering from breast cancer surgery and other surgeries I have had over the past few years easier than knee surgery. A lot of that had to do with the length of time I was basically forced to sit still and rest prior to my surgery. My muscles went kerplunk along with endurance.

When I first started physical therapy I never thought I was going to be able to do it. I was as weak as a kitten quite literally, except a kitten could move much faster than I could.

But I was lucky to get an amazing therapist through my surgeon. His background before physical therapy was in sports training so he has been and an enormous help, and I discovered his physical therapy practice has a lot of gardeners in it! (Yes I am still doing physical therapy. I actually only started driving by myself a couple of weeks ago, and I’m still not driving long distances. )

I am back in the garden but it’s different than it used to be. One thing that is different is I broke down and bought myself a good garden seat on wheels with a little rack on the back of it. That way I can sit and weed and not bend over or have to kneel. It takes longer, but it saves the strain on my knee. The seat pivots, and there is a little basket on the back for my hand tools. At the bottom of this post is a picture that is close to what mine looks like as I can find.

I bought my wheelie garden seat from a member of my gardening group actually. People don’t realize the good gardening tools do not have to be brand spanking new to be good. As a matter of fact (and it’s somewhat a topic for another post), I search out gently used gardening tools at times.

From pruners that can be sharpened and are built in a more sturdy fashion in the vintage variety, to having back ups for the things I occasionally kill like gardening spades large and small, I am not adverse to garage sale hunting of garden tools.

But back to post surgical gardening. I have learned I have to accept that at least for the near term, there are things I can’t do unless of course I want to end up with an entire knee replacement next time. It’s hard for me to ask for help, but like it or not I know I have to at times now.

Post surgical gardening also means I can’t just do giant guerrilla sessions of gardening any longer. I have to pace myself. I tend now to go out in spurts of an hour to 90 minutes tops. I have to ice my knee every time I have gardened. I also have discovered I can’t garden multiple days in a row, or at least not yet.

Thanks to my physical therapist and tips he has given me I am also learning better posture for gardening for lack of a better description.

Having to adjust my mindset also means my garden has some adjustment. It is not as perfectly weeded as it once was. And I have to be more accepting of that, which I am the first one to admit is incredibly hard. Some people who have come to look at my garden this summer I think are surprised by that in particular, because I’m a little obsessive about my gardening beds. But I have to pace myself or I will literally become a cripple. And if I become a cripple I won’t enjoy my garden or anyone else’s garden.

I have learned this summer that knee injuries in particular are a very common complaint for rabid gardeners. When I had to let the hosta society know I would not be coming to their summer function because my knee wasn’t up to it yet post surgery, one of the event organizers laughed and said there was a lot of that going around this summer with gardeners that they know.

Is it frustrating to have to reset the pace of my gardening? Yes it is and incredibly so. The garden I have now established is a layered garden, so the work is pretty much on going in it.

But now post knee surgery, I have to slow the pace. It has also made me start to seek out some plants that may have lower maintenance – it’s a garden I will let you know ha ha ha when I’ve discovered that for sure.

However, all that being said, my garden is my truly happy place and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I still love it and love to take care of it… only now I have to be a grown-up and do it at a slower pace.

Thanks for stopping by!