trying my hand at rooting from cuttings

Have you been outside this morning? It’s so humid you can cut it with a knife.

I did a little bit of gardening early this morning and had the sprinkler set up for a while on newer beds I had planted, like the one where my Franklinia Tree is growing. My Franklinia Tree is getting ready to bloom for the first time so the bed around is getting extra special treatment.

I also took a bit of a wander because plants for fall planting are already here. I have to baby them through the next heat wave and then I will begin to plot their planting locations.

Also this morning I decided to try my hand at propagating cuttings. I chose hydrangeas.

I took two cuttings from my mystery blue lacecap that was an end of season $5 buy at a grocery store a few years ago. It never had a tag and I have never seen it since.

I also took two cuttings from my Korean Mountain Hydrangea. They came originally from Lazy S Farm in Virginia. The owners retired and the nursery was sadly closed down. I used to get the most wonderful plants from them. They also introduced me to Indian Pinks. Anyway, I have not been able to specifically find Korean Mountain Hydrangea anywhere since, so hopefully I can grow my own.

I had a lovely English clay pot that until this morning housed a basil plant until I chucked it. It had gotten pot bound and unlovely so into the brush pile it went. I have loads more basil so it was fine to sacrifice that particular plant.

I put half compost and half organic potting soil into the pot, roughed up the stems of the Hydrangea slightly and plunked them in.

I don’t know if they will take given we’re about to get another heatwave, but they’re in a shady spot on the porch and had a drink of water with seaweed extract in it. I am hoping for the best!

I still have a lot of gardening this season ahead of me. But the heatwave that’s creeping in means a time out. Then it will be time to first tackle weeding and deadheading.

Stay cool!

are traffic accidents a symptom of over-development?

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August 14, 2019 PM accident at Route 30 and 352/Sproul Rd in East Whiteland.

WARNING: RANT AHEAD. TURN AWAY NOW IF YOU AREN’T INTERESTED.

There was ANOTHER accident at Route 352/ Sproul Road and Route 30/Lancaster Avenue in East Whiteland Township again earlier this evening. Right after I came through the intersection basically.

There was an accident at a similar time LAST evening. Same location.

Are traffic accidents a symptom of over-development due to stressed overcrowded roadways?

This intersection in East Whiteland is much like a couple of problematic intersections in West Whiteland.  Take for example the West Whiteland intersection at Whitford Road from the train station side and Route 30/ Lancaster Ave/Lincoln Highway. Maybe there should be NO right turn on red and whatever else can happen to ensure better safety on the roads? I go through that particular West Whiteland intersection at least twice a week and people run that light there and just dive into the intersection.  This afternoon at a little past noon as a matter of fact, a BIG truck was what dove onto Route 30 West towards Downingtown from Whitford Road.  The light had changed. It was red for Whitford on all sides, but it didn’t matter people were diving left and right. 

But I digress, back to East Whiteland.

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From the people in Linden Hall  (which sits at 30 and 352) I have learned there are at least 25 kids in that development. Ages are infant though high school. Plus all of the adult residents.  Are there lives to spare, East Whiteland? I don’t think so.  (And don’t get me started on the sloppy ugly construction site left by Linden Hall as in the historic structure. Has anyone from East Whiteland bother to swing by to see the “parking lot”? Would you be happy as residents to see that site?)

Now BACK to the traffic at the intersection of Route 30/Lancaster Ave and Route 352/Sproul Road in East Whiteland. Can we talk about the people turning LEFT from Lancaster (westbound direction) onto Route 352/Sproul Road sit in CENTER of intersection even through signal changes effectively blocking ability of Linden Hall residents to safely exit their development— this development which East Whiteland approved and allowed to be built. And someone keeps denying them a left turn signal  they have requested of the township (or PennDOT?) so they can exit  more safely.  They are crammed in like lemmings in that development so why aren’t there enough people to justify it?

Can’t have it both ways. If East Whiteland Township (as well as neighboring townships) are going to cram every square inch with development they have a responsibility to ensure the safety of residents. For goodness sake, make these developers pay for sufficient road improvements and for installing township parks and stuff. It’s called conditions of plan approval, right????

But hey, we all know how traffic concerns in East Whiteland from Carol Lane and Summit residents got translated by certain East Whiteland supervisors the last time, remember?  All of a sudden, their traffic issues became the impetus for a traffic circle at Route 352/Sproul Road/North Chester Road and King, correct?

So…once again Carol Lane and Summit Road neighbors are attempting to have a meaningful conversation with East Whiteland to get what they feel are much needed traffic corrections to Summit, Carol, and those streets in THAT neighborhood.

WHAT THE RESIDENTS ARE TRYING TO MAKE EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP UNDERSTAND IS THAT THEY WANT IS TRAFFIC CALMING ON SUMMIT AND CAROL, PART OF SUMMIT FROM CAROL TO MADELINE AND SUMMIT BETWEEN CAROL AND WOODCREST.

I have born witness to the speeding on Carol and Summit myself as recently I drove through there to just see if I could get the idea of what goes on. What goes on is people cut through and speed. I had someone on my tail and for a couple of moments I actually thought they might pass me for doing speed limit. My friends over there tell me they have had cut through speeders pass them for going the speed limit.

This neighborhood has at least 20 children on Summit from Carol to 352, 10 on Carol, 8 or 9 on another connecting street and dog walkers, walkers, and joggers. Are there lives to spare here at this location, East Whiteland?

People living in East Whiteland and neighboring townships are really struggling to co-exist with the insane amount of development. Residents should matter more than the ratables and ill-advised development saturated comprehensive plans on a local or county level. But do residents matter?

After all residents in East Whiteland have expressed concern about the number of living units for what they call “Frazer Lanes Redevelopment“. Everyone agrees the site could stand to be improved BUT what will life be like when 227 units in 4 stories on 5 acres is built with 330 total parking spaces across from the Wawa at the corner of 30 and Planebrook?

What will life be like as you go west on 30 and hit the intersection of Ship Road if that development gets built?

Inquirer: Another Wawa may be coming to Chester County after town officials change zoning rules
by Katie Park, Updated: May 23, 2019

A Wawa may soon be built next to a centuries-old chapel and tavern in Chester County after officials approved a zoning change that cleared the way for the convenience-store giant.

The West Whiteland Township Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 on Wednesday to allow Wawa to move into a yet-to-be-built 5,600-square-foot building — complete with eight gas pumps — at 690 E. Lincoln Highway, once home to an Entenmann’s pastry factory and outlet store….As a result of the supervisors’ decision, developer Eli Kahn, the owner of eight acres at 690 E. Lincoln Highway, said he would likely not go forward with his original plans to build 130 apartments and a three-story office building there in favor of about 80 townhouses, the building he plans to lease to Wawa, and two other retail buildings that he could also rent out.

NVR Homes, which teamed up with Kahn, has also indicated it would not build more than 400 apartments and townhouses on 52 acres at 500 E. Lincoln Highway — the former home of the Laborers’ Training Facility — and instead opt for about 90 single-family homes and 65 townhouses, West Whiteland officials said.

Is it just me or is the Ship Road Couplet and development insanity…well, crazy?

Here is where you click to see most of what West Whiteland has going on development-wise: Spring 2019 Present & Proposed Developments Map

Here is where you click to see most of what East Whiteland has going on development-wise: Subdivision and Land Development Plans.

And we can’t leave East Goshen out of the equation given the Paoli Pike debacle can we? You see, the East Goshen Board of Supervisors will meet to discuss the proposal from The Hankin Group on further development of 1351 Paoli Pike on Tuesday, August 29, 2019 at 7:00 pm.

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And don’t get me started on West Goshen and that hideous development at Greystone (I tell you what I sure wouldn’t be a bride paying for a pricey wedding at the Greystone Hall venue now.)

And there is what? Another elementary school being built over there? (But hey now development doesn’t add to the burdens of a school district, right? )

Back to East Whiteland (and anyone else in Great Valley School District).  I still think in my humble opinion it is not a question of IF but WHEN the Great Valley School District will be dealing with a Great Valley East and Great Valley West situation.  Whose land will they take to deal will the growing population and a need for larger if not additional schools?

Back to what inspired this post: stressed out infrastructure. In this case roads and intersections ill-equipped to effectively handle traffic. And it’s only getting worse.  In East Whiteland every which way you turn there is yet another development.  Much like West Whiteland. But the roads? The roads are essentially the same and how can they be?

Can I say planning in these townships and at the county level just sucks? It does. It just sucks.  Chester County Planning Commission has a NON-resident as it’s Executive Director and it shows. That guy is not invested in our communities. He is a non-resident carpetbagger the taxpayers are paying for.  Landscapes is a joke as well. The “vision” message is clear: development, development, development. Seriously. LOOK at the interactive development map.

Zoning in townships like East Whiteland and West Whiteland should benefit the residents. But can it be said zoning benefits special interests and developers mostly?

Oh I know, I know.  This is indeed a full-on rant but something has got to give.  And I say a side effect of development are accidents since I feel traffic accidents a symptom of over-development due to stressed and overcrowded roadways.

We as residents deserve better. We also need better representation in local government.  As residents, we need to take our power back collectively. After all did any of us move to Chester County so we could live in King of Prussia-lite or Bensalem-lite?

NOPE.

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August 13, 2019 PM accident at Route 30 and 352/Sproul Rd in East Whiteland.

august and garden chores

David Austin Rose “Mary Rose”

It’s August. August in the garden in general means early mornings, pace yourself, and you can only do so much.

As I get older I have a hard time with humidity. So until this morning I have not been out in the garden very much in the last week or so. The combination of hot and humid has left the garden somewhat bedraggled.

I got out there in the garden early this morning because I had to focus the sprinkler on specific planting beds – because if you don’t get up and do the sprinkler early it’s useless the water just evaporates as the heat of the day sets in.

I also had to check out a Japanese maple which is suffering from heat stress. I can only pray at this point that the plant will make it and it looks so awful because one day it was beautiful red and healthy and the next day the leaves started to look shriveled and shrunken

I had forgotten the Japanese maples in fact have a widespread but fairly shallow root system. I did have a Japanese maple do this decades ago and I thought it was a goner and cut it down and it sent up new shoots from the roots the following spring. So I am going to leave the tree be and see what happens next spring. Hopefully Mother Nature will be kind to me.

Today was also a day to deal with my roses. I love them and always have. Today was the last drench of systemic feed, systemic insecticide, and systemic disease control for the season. Depending on how things go it will also probably not be a bad idea for me to give them a drink with seaweed extract and a little Epsom salts and or pulverized banana peels in a week or so.

People like to get all uptight about chemicals. I am a cancer survivor I use them judiciously. Roses and other shrubs and trees need them once in a while especially now that we have to deal with the spotted lantern fly (which in nymph form does like roses.)

I use the Bayer 3 in 1 Rose and Flower Care on my roses. It contains the three chemicals that are found to kill spotted lantern fly after they ingest it.

Bayer does not compensate me in any way for mentioning this product. I mention it because I use it. In spring when the roses get their first dose I use the granular version. From June forward I use the drench. I will note that I do not really spray for bugs or disease since I use this product.

The seaweed-type fertilizer I use is Irish Organic Fertilizer. It has the sea weed but it also has goodness from Irish peat bogs. Humic Acid and Moor Water blended with organic seaweed. (Read more about it HERE.) I will also note I use this inside with houseplants as well all year round. Orchids in particular love it.

I was a test garden for this Irish Organic Fertilizer when it first was introduced here in the United States a couple of years ago, but I buy it all year round at this point. I buy it off of Amazon.

Back to my roses. All in all, in spite of the weather it has been a lovely year for roses. I have some I thought were dead that I basically put in little corners of my garden where I have plant infirmaries, and today I had to add a rose obelisk to one because it had recovered so nicely!

While I was out with my roses, I not only weeded around the base of all of them, but I did some deadheading and I also did some pruning to remove some canes that were causing issue with airflow in the middle of my rosebushes, and/or didn’t look so hot.

One problem I have a constant battle with in this garden are rose borers. And when I cut a cane I seal the top with one of two things: nail polish or wood glue. Yes nail polish.

David Austin Rose “Benjamin Britton”

My new roses that I planted this spring are all doing really well. The champion grower is the David Austin English Rose Benjamin Britton. It is a vigorous and gorgeous rose!

The rugosa roses I planted which were antique and old garden rugosas are coming along. The one I purchased from Antique Rose Emporium in Texas called Mary Manners is the most vigorous so far. It bloomed once in a couple of spots when it was tiny and now it has sent out a lot of growth and next year will be fabulous. It was a vigorous grower when I had it in my parents’ garden decades ago.

David Austin Rose “James L. Austin”

The other rugosas I planted at the rear of the berm bed that runs down the side of the driveway came from Heirloom Roses in Oregon. Blanc Double de Coubert (another vigorous grower that I had in my parents’ garden years and years ago) and Bayse’s Purple Rose are also growing really nicely and I can’t wait for next year!

I chose old rugosa roses because like most old and antique roses they are very disease-resistant and they are so thorny the deer don’t like them yet they are habitats as they grow for other animals like birds. The berm bed rugosa roses will eventually help me back the rear of the bed and next year I hope to add more old or antique roses at the back of that berm. I have my eye on Madame Hardy and Comte de Chambourd.

A white David Austin rose “Winchester Cathedral”

The found rose I planted from Antique Rose Emporium has also been terrific. I have been getting its name wrong all summer so I looked it up on their website. Caldwell Pink and I highly recommend it. It is an old rose and it has been blooming nonstop all summer. It gets these little button size carnation pink blooms that smell heavenly. It is called a found rose because they’re not really sure where it came from but it was found in a little town called Caldwell, Texas.

I should probably note that the roses I plant are not only bare root they are own root. I have mentioned this before because when you pay to buy own root roses they are not grown on root stock. They are grown and on their own root and might be smaller when they arrive but you will have in my opinion a much healthier vigorous plant as time goes on.

I will admit I kind of ignored my roses as it got really hot except for occasional deadheading. And they survived. They either got watered by torrential downpours or when I set the sprinkler. During the worst of the heat I gave everybody a little bit of Epsom salts. I do that about three times during the growing season but you have to be careful how much you use because you don’t want to upset the mineral balance in your soil.

A lot of people in the US when they plant roses plant them in sort of standalone beds. Often it’s only roses in a particular flower bed. I look at roses a little differently. I plant them in the English and Irish style. In other words, my roses are in among the rest of my plants.

My style of gardening is easiest described as cottage garden with shade and woodland garden beds. I definitely have a layered garden and it is also turning into a very nice four seasons garden.

My favorite kinds of gardens are the ones that hold your interest in the middle of winter just like they do in the middle of June. I don’t know if that makes sense to a lot of people but that’s what I like. I like having something to look at 12 months of the year.

Now that the last leg of summer has arrived I pretty much do maintenance until the fall. I have not religiously deadheaded things like coneflowers (echinaceas) and hostas and even bee balm (monarda). I have done some deadheading but a lot of it I have just let Mother Nature take her course.

As a lot of the hydrangea blooms fade and die I will trim them because that’s the way you keep the bushes in check. That little bit of deadheading you do really helps keep the size of hydrangeas to where you can deal with them. The one exception to that rule are my Oakleaf hydrangeas on the edge of the woods on the far side of the deck. I rarely prune those. I love their wild look on the edge of the woods.

I know a lot of people are feeling discouraged in their garden this time of year. August is tough. And what makes it more difficult is we are experiencing climate change. So the extremes have been really extreme the past couple of summers.

But don’t lose hope, Garden a little bit at a time and soon it will be September and the temperatures will get a little more even.

Thanks for stopping by!

David Austin Rose “England’s Rose”

there is still decency in this world.

It’s been a crazy 24 hours. A local business I wrote about after a less than satisfactory visit as fairly as I could decided to go Kamikaze on me for saying they were less than fabulous.

It doesn’t matter that my review was mild compared to some reviews out there. Apparently I am public enemy number one. My lot in life as a blogger, especially as a female bloggeress, is I am a baaaad person for having any opinions.

Female bloggers especially are supposed to be seen and not heard. We are supposed to stick to safe, pre-approved topics like trips to Disney and diapers, what we are making for dinner, and similar topics. (You know, the theory of bobble-headed, barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.)

Never, ever are you supposed to write about how you honestly feel about anything. Never are you supposed to utter a contrary opinion about the sad state of affairs of national politics. Or criticize LuLa Roe. Don’t ever criticize LuLa Roe.

Oopsies. I am just bad I guess?

No, not really. And if a local restaurant wants to crucify a now former customer, that’s on them.

The way their owner and staff reacted on their social media pages is unacceptable and it casts a pall on the entire business community that they are part of. And I am entitled to that opinion and many concur with that opinion. And people who wrote comments stating they thought the restaurant’s behavior towards me or any less than satisfied customer had their comments removed. Or snarky comments were left in response assuring people they could just call or stop in so why then did no one return my call? Their victim? Because I have stopped being their mere former customer and am a victim of their poor behavior aren’t I?

This behavior sends and reinforces a clear message that the customer is always wrong. Is that the message you want people to associate with the businesses in that area?

I feel sorry for these people in a way but not enough to allow them to just harass me via the comments of their followers. My opinion won’t make or break this business but sadly, their attitude and the poor way they have responded might. And that is on them. Sadly.

Anyway, where I was going with this today was in the middle of this swirling mass of bull twaddle something so incredibly nice happened.

Someone left me the beautiful bouquet of flowers you see in the photo above.

Why?

Because I had helped them with their garden and they wanted to show me what had grown.

I think this is one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done for me. And it’s so simple. It’s sharing your garden with a friend. And this is a friend I made because of gardening.

This of course reinforces to me the type of people you want to fill your life with. And the ones you should pass on by.

A quote from Gertrude Jekyll comes to mind:

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”

She also said:

The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.”

Through gardening I have truly been blessed to meet some amazing people. And now having been in Chester County a few years, I can also say that I am very fortunate to have met some wonderful people just by living here.

Yes life throws you the occasional curve ball and grows a few weeds that require pulling, but the universe has this weird balance to it. Part of that balance is when something unpleasant happens, there is a reminder that for the most part people are good and decent and we should ignore the static.

Thanks for stopping by.

types of butterflies

This will be a post that I am sure I will get criticism for. It’s a ramble. It’s more of a flowing stream of consciousness, and doesn’t really have purpose it’s just my thoughts jotted down. But I write when the spirit moves me, and sometimes the writing spirit sort of chooses me. So….here we go…..

I was out in the garden early this morning. The sounds of late summer have arrived. The hum of the cicada orchestra is the first sound. Followed by the Catbirds calling and Carolina Wrens scolding. A hummingbird darts around, completely unmoved by my presence. And hummingbirds they will bop you if you’re near their chosen food source. It’s actually pretty funny because you don’t expect a bird that small to be that aggressive.

As I look around, the butterflies dance. Monarchs and Swallowtails bobbing on and off the Joe Pye Weed, garden phlox, and swamp milkweed. To me, this is a slice of heaven. I’d rather be here than anyplace else.

There are of course other kinds of butterflies. Human ones. Social butterflies. They flit from party to party, wanting to belong. But that theory of belonging doesn’t just depend on attending a party and having a photo taken.

And maybe that is because the concept of what defines society has changed? Society used to have rules and lines one just did not cross. People you see today in “society photos” would not have even been invited to a lot of things even twenty years ago.

I put “society photos” in air quotes because essentially the era of the true society press has passed. When we had many newspapers once upon a time, we had many society editors. But they weren’t just taking photographs of people at the events they covered, they were telling you about the parties. Who was hosting them, why they were being hosted the charities involved, the decor, the food, the flowers.

That’s not what goes on today and of course when I look at social butterflies in current summer event photos I have to smile. That used to be there weren’t so many “events” in the summer because society went away in the summer. Much the way society escaped to Palm Beach or Palm Springs for a midwinter break. And you would look at the society photos from the away summer and mid winter black ties.

When I was in my 20s, a lot of summers some of my friends and I would go to Newport, Rhode Island here and there. For parties like Newport Night in White and the Gatsby Society. Here we went to summer parties at the Mann Music Center or proper garden parties here and there — some private, some to benefit a non-profit.

These parties were amazing. It wasn’t necessarily easy to find yourself on the invitation list, but if you did, these were parties that were so worth going to. We all dressed in appropriate summer black-tie or semi-formal attire. Dresses were pretty. It wasn’t about flashy or showing lots of skin or a designer label bag or how high were the heels you wore. It was civilized. They always had great music too. And if s party was casual, people still dressed well.

So now the idea of summer parties and gala events have changed. Just like the people who attend them. I look at the photos and wonder who are these people? Why do they matter? Or do they actually matter? And sometimes I look at the photos and see people who didn’t belong as hard as they pushed 30 years ago trying to reinvent themselves today. What will that gain them in the end?

Now I actually do know some who essentially chase their tails to go or get invited to these nouveau society events. What they don’t realize, of course, is when the novelty of their persona and/or use wears off, the gadflies will be onto the next new and amusing person. And it’s sad because some of these women will feel quite adrift when it’s over. That is one concept about society through the ages which has never changed. Maybe it’s human nature on some level? Maybe social Darwinism?

And it won’t last because this new idea of society today doesn’t have the cohesiveness of the past. In the past there was always at least a commonality of purpose. It was more than just buying a ticket to a party or finding someone to comp you.

Women served together on volunteer committees and they actually worked for the special events from beginning to end. Now most think it’s enough to just put their name on a committee list on an invitation or maybe give a mention on social media they are going. But they leave the actual work of the parties to paid staff. The parties aren’t as good and the event vibes are all different. More transient and temporary.

I think sometimes the true spirit of volunteerism is disappearing. And a lot of it isn’t just because the social norms of what is deemed acceptable behavior has changed. Sometimes it’s because the old guard who are left volunteering for certain events have turned into control freak old dragons. They literally chase away those who want to come up behind them and volunteer. They can’t let go.

I would rather be in my garden.

I know who my friends are, I appreciate them. But while I found the party scenes and gala and event scenes fun when I was younger, at this stage of my life I can take them or leave them. Maybe it’s because life priorities are different. Or maybe it’s because the “scene” as it were lost it’s luster.

I still like to dress up and put on lipstick, but I am picky at what I choose to go to. I look for things that are meaningful to me at this point in my life. And I want to go places where there are nice people. I am not jockeying for some imaginary social position. I also don’t need to. Sadly I have known people in who have chosen this insane need to belong over real friendships. That is their choice and perhaps they weren’t the people we really thought they were?

That is why I like being in my garden. My butterflies and flowers and birds are real. Just as my friends and family are. Society or what passes for it as a dim example today I will take a pass on.

Thanks for stopping by.

communing and cavorting with nature

It certainly has been a couple of days. I was delighted to get back into my garden today. And the weather was nice. Wasn’t overly humid and wasn’t overly hot. It was just right.

I love my garden. And what was so cool today, was the realization of few years of hard work really coming to fruition.

I started this garden seriously in 2013. And things that were just beginnings of ideas in some cases, are now really taking shape.

When I fell in love with red daylilies and red coneflowers and red zinnias I thought they would clash horribly and wondered if I had done the right thing. Well today I got to see how everything works together in the garden.

Bright color, light color strong color, soft color. I keep my colors complementary for the most part. I don’t like a jarring sensation.

That’s not to say that I don’t want the wow factor. I think this year I actually have the wow factor because plants are maturing.

As I was in the garden today it was just a great sense of accomplishment and pride and enjoyment. It is so rewarding to work with your hands because you can create a beautiful natural canvas.

Gardening is my painting. I don’t do watercolors, I don’t do oils or pastels, I garden. Horticulture and gardening really are a form of art and artistic expression.

Today as I weeded and deadheaded a little I had so much fun just watching my garden.

Baby Carolina Wrens nattering away in a nest. Cat Birds frolicking in a birdbath and a dive bombing hummingbird and lots and lots of butterflies. It was awesome. And it just makes you so happy to be out in the garden as all of this life is going on around you.

This is the experience that you can’t get when you pay the landscaper to plant your flats of impatiens. This is the satisfaction you get of trying and gardening yourself and being creative.

I wish more people would garden. I think if they did the world would be a happier place.

Thanks for stopping by.

social media: it’s enough to make one anti-social….

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Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.
~ Oprah Winfrey

So why don’t we do that? It’s a question I asked myself recently and am going to strive to do better in the future.

When social media first started it was “What a great idea and what fun!” Today? Today I often wonder.  It seems to be more and more the virtual play ground where the idiots you choose not to associate with in real life congregate.

As a blogger, I accept I am an acquired taste. I am fine with that.  As a human being off the screen in the real world I am also an acquired taste. But if we were all identical carbon copies of one and other the world would literally be overrun with Stepford Wives.

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As a blogger, I am not a compensated blogger.  When I write up a business I visited, or a restaurant I ate at, or a non-profit event I attended it is because I paid to do those things just like everyone else. Well maybe not like everyone else because there are bloggers and social media “influencers” who are…. well… compensated.  In other words their good opinion is paid for in some fashion.

When I write, it’s my own experience, good or bad. I bought the goods, ate in the restaurant, bought a ticket to the non-profit event, used the paid services of a company.  There are people out there who do not. They expect goods and services and even fees to write something up.  Sometimes businesses are afraid to NOT slide them stuff because of what they might write or say on social media.

There are even people who take money for supposedly all sorts of services but it is really just about getting free stuff and then moving on to the next business? I have a lot of friends with small businesses of all kinds, so that really bothers me. From a moral compass standpoint, it also bothers me. It’s like blackmail, isn’t it? How do you live with yourself? How do you take the proverbial food off of someone else’s table?

Now onto the more personal side of social media.  Why are the keyboard tigers allowed to roam freely and wreak havoc?

I am an admin of several Facebook groups.  I have strong opinions so I do not mind strong opinions. But I do mind people who harass, badger, curse a lot (so ugly to see in writing) or who are just mean spirited to be mean spirited.  Or love to be super passive aggressive while just simply trying to stir the pot.

Recently I just quietly deleted the comment of a man who was just being an ass.  To me. For no reason. I had never spoken with him or even interacted with him online.  The comment was essentially abusive.  I chose NOT to respond which would have started an online flame war.

What is a flame war? This is what a flame war is:

In online forums and other online discussion spaces, a flame war is a series of flame posts or messages in a thread that are considered derogatory in nature or are completely off-topic. Often these flames are posted for the sole purpose of offending or upsetting other users. The flame becomes a flame war when other users respond to the thread with their own flame message.

I chose to be an adult and admin for the greater good.  I never said anything, just removed the comment and took advantage of Facebook’s mute feature which is a handy tool if used properly to cool off a situation. Well, the person who commented then decided to start private messaging me.

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Note the use of your over you’re.  Up until this point I had not removed the person from the group.  Just muted them for flaming comments. Who they are is immaterial to the conversation.  They were a stranger with a case of keyboard cowboyism. After sitting on the interaction and pondering it with other admins, we decided they would be happier elsewhere.

One of the groups I admin is a gardening group.  It is large and popular and has grown from local to regional to national and international membership.  I wanted a place where people could come from all levels of expertise and even professionals.

My group is blessed to have not only regular people but gardening professionals and growers who freely share their knowledge and expertise.  A good portion of them are paid for their expertise handsomely so I think we are really lucky.  I am a rabid gardener but I don’t know everything so I like to learn and share information.

Sometimes even in a gardening group people get like the Sharks versus The Jets.  Yes, a theater reference. West Side Story — an award-winning decades old adaptation of the classic romantic tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet”. The feuding families become two warring New York City gangs. And that is what people get like on social media.

There was this thing happening in the gardening group that really was so ridiculous.  This divisiveness between organic based gardeners versus everyone else. Someone who was a professional posted about their own HOME garden with a helpful tip. A person I had had problems with before started challenging them.  The professional never lost their cool and answered all questions gracefully.

But the aggressor, who had demonstrated a similar pattern with others in the past, wouldn’t let it go. It turned from a conversation of opposing points of view to badgering.  It was unpleasant.  This person doing the haranguing hadn’t learned from the comments other admins had removed, so this time I muted them. And told them I was doing it and why.

They never said anything, but their supporters then started.  It was unfair and they should basically be allowed to turn a nice group into a place where many felt uncomfortable.  One of the champions of this person started messaging me.  They literally messaged me yesterday at 9:32 AM.  I did not see the message until 10:04 AM or maybe a few minutes later, because hello I was having an actual life. Do you live on the Internet? I don’t live on the Internet. I spend far too much time on it some days and I am making an effort to NOT be that way.  But when you are an admin of Facebook groups especially, people seem to have boundary issues.

So this person who messaged me was responded to.  But that wasn’t good enough.  They had to then try to start a passive aggressive situation of their own on the gardening group page. They wondered if they were “safe to post” like a pack of rabid dogs was suddenly going to appear on their doorstep and rip their keyboard, phone, or tablet from their hands.  As an admin that is a post that will escalate tensions that may exist.

I messaged the person and asked WHY they had to post that when I had actually taken the time to respond to them. My description of the timing was different she says. Ok she lives in my area is there a different time zone I am not aware of?

Then she says:

Not sure where the disconnect here is coming from, but blessed are the peacemakers.
Peace.

BTW, the word “ramblings” implies a kind of laid back, relaxed enjoyment of gardening. So, maybe chill out.

She goes on to say how she is just “speaking her truth” and she’s a “stream mom” and so on and so forth. And how I was wrong to mute the person who had been badgering people about…gardening.

No honey, I am not perfect and I get tired of being a babysitter. And with a couple of thousand people to manage virtually, some days it is exhausting. One gets tired of being a babysitter and a referee of adults who should all know better. But for some reason when it comes to social media they lose their manners and inhibitions….. social norms and acceptable public behavior flies out of the window. It is crazy. And face it, we have all seen people go off the rails.  Not naming names but look at a certain elected official on Twitter, right?

Having had enough of this back and forth, I blocked that person on messenger and removed them and the admins had to create a new rule so people got it:

New Group Rule as people seem confused: aggressive or passive aggressive comments towards gardeners for their decision to use biological (organic) or non-organic chemical controls in their garden will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be removed.

It’s a gardening group folks, not an environmental activist group. No one should be chastised for their gardening methods on their own property.

We all do not have to agree but just because someone chooses organic vs. non-organic or vice-versa does not make them a bad person.

Babysitting. Babysitting I do not get paid for and toddlers are better behaved at times.

It’s the love hate relationship with social media.

Then there are the people who capitulate to the whims of the social media haters and badgerers.

Years ago (as in 2013) I was part of a closed Facebook group still from where I used to live.  I was still new enough to Chester County that I wanted to keep up with where I had lived essentially most of my life. Moving to a place as an adult over 25 is very different than when you are young and starting out.  It is not as easy to meet and get to know people and although I had already fallen in love with Chester County, I sometimes still missed where I used to be because  I missed a lot of my friends.

I did not, however, miss the BS of the Main Line. And long before I moved west, back in the early days of Facebook I decided that some people I did not wish to interact with on social media because they were horrible to me in real life, even in public. You see, that was a drawback of being a blogger and a sort of social activist.

There were literally people who would eviscerate me in public and in letters to the editor of the local paper at the time as well as leave comments on local  and regional media website articles that were truly horrible.  They weren’t just being Internet trolls, they were bullying and harassing me.  They wanted to tear me down because at the end of the day I did not see things exactly the way they did and the way they told their minions to think.

It was a great sociological study.  It was taking the theory of bullying in the middle school lunch room to a whole new level.  And these were also the people who would holler like stuck pigs if kids were bullied in school or on the playground.  And I would just watch and wonder why they didn’t get where the kids were learning the unpleasant behaviors from?

So when I joined Facebook, I decided rather than risk further interaction with some fo these people, I would take the high road and just pretend they weren’t there and preemptively block them.  I wasn’t talking about them, I just wanted to limit their access to me personally. I am not a public official and wasn’t then either.  I was just a woman they didn’t like very much. I could live with that. Not seeing them around on Facebook was very peaceful.  Of course, that is why Facebook has privacy settings, right?

Lo and behold the admin of this community group from where I used to live messages me.  How she was going to have to remove me  from the group. Not for anything I had actually posted (which by 2013 was literally a couple of banal things like recommending a plumber), but because I had chosen to block these people who were miserable to me in the real world when I joined Facebook.

Say what??

I tried to explain to her that was to keep the peace, I wasn’t blocking her as an admin and group page owner. I was being responsible in an effort to avoid unnecessary online confrontations.  But oh no, her definition of community  was she chose to capitulate to literally adult mean girls and they had the right in community groups to see everyone.  I tried to explain I chose not to do that because I did not wish to have them have a window into my life.

Truthfully, I did not care about her group and belonging at that point.  I really didn’t need it, I was fine in my new life and her actions made me realize that.  But it was the principle of the thing. How can you self-profess to be a good person by demanding they open themselves up to unpleasant people in a social media group? (But this is a person who wants everyone to love them and needs to feel as if they belong, so in a weird way it made sense, didn’t it?)

The rules of social media groups in general include you can’t block the admins and moderators. But you CAN block people you don’t get along with or who make you feel uncomfortable for whatever reason. It is WHY privacy settings exist.

A couple of years ago, I decided to quietly unfriend this person on Facebook. We really were never truly friends, maybe short term acquaintances. So I decided to let her and some others go. Lives change, people change right? I never commented on it, I just let go.

Then yesterday, someone asked me about the garden group this person had.  They lived down closer to where this person lived so I said sure, I will send them the link I used to belong to it.  Only I could not find the group. So I asked someone else and they sent me the link.  They also told me I was no longer in the group.

A real WTF moment because it is a gardening group.  Not politics, not activism. Gardening. As in what I spend a lot of time doing. And I hadn’t been in the group, had never really posted in it ever and truthfully had never used the group much to begin with because to be honest I never learned anything from it. It was too basic for my knowledge base, and well, my group was better. But for whatever reason this person removed me and blocked me.

Oh social media Groundhog Day.  So I will admit I did message her about my discovery and how I discovered it.  I also said I really didn’t care that she did it, but  the principles of hypocrisy is what bothered me.  So I said to be equally fair I was removing her from my gardening group.  Sorry not sorry, you don’t get to benefit from my hard work and the expertise of those who post there and not share.  Not being able to share when it comes to gardening is just one of those things I find wrong.

Much to my amusement, when I went to look at the message I sent I saw that she had blocked me.  I still have her home address, I should really send her a thank you note. I do not need people like that in my life on any level, even peripherally. Kind of like the woman who made a point of telling me that she couldn’t invite me to her Christmas party because other people wouldn’t come if I was there. Yes, that is true.  Crazy, but true. And I didn’t ask to be invited in the first place.

Also crazy but true? Legitimate cyber bullies and cyber stalkers.  Social media is a kaleidoscope of crazy at times.

And that is the thing about social media. So many people need it to feel good about themselves. Or feel popular.  Or even powerful. But it’s all virtual.  I have come to the conclusion that I will more and more narrow my focus.  I have my writing, activism , love of historic preservation and things like gardening and cooking and photography.  I also have my true friends and I don’t need a huge collection of faux friends to fawn all over me.  I don’t need or want the self-proclaimed power brokers of people online, and those who take advantage…do you? (Think about it.)

Another thing that is getting to me on social media are the essentially social media based networking organizations you have to pay for.  Women are especially drawn to them and I have had friends who have belonged to these groups.

Women don’t realize they don’t have to pay these groups to raise their own business profiles and make friends (which exist mostly on social media – I can’t truly define it as camaraderie in real life can you ?)  And no one I know ever grew their business out of these groups but instead remarked on the cliquishness and time wasting of it all…and that these groups are expensive. You pay to join a group, you get let into their Facebook pages, then you are expected to pay to attend events, right? And what do they do for you? Who is making the money here and aren’t the chapters of these things like, if not actual  franchises?

Social media is a weird, weird place getting weirder every year. And I say that having been in it and on things like Twitter practically since inception (I joined in 2008, Twitter launched in 2006).

I started blogging back in the dark ages.  I was once part of this amazing site called Philly Futures which started in 1999.  I joined it at some point after 2002, and was part of it for a few years.  It was lots of different bloggers and was activism-centric.  They used to do things I thought were cool like Missing Monday which focused on missing persons. Philly Futures was an early voice in the genre of “citizen journalism.” It wasn’t a mommy blog or a monetized blog, it was a lot of good writing and interesting topics.  I miss it.

Sometimes I think social media has morphed into the land of the shallow.  And everything has to be light, happy, and airy fairy where unicorns fart only pastel rainbows. What I liked about the early blogosphere in the dawn of social media is it was real, and you could be real without chronic online castigation.

Look around at Facebook, Instagram, whatever your poison.  How can all those people have those perfect lives, really?  What happens if we pull the curtain back? And the photos.  Do some not realize that occasionally their personal photos are well photos that are better off left offline? To be enjoyed privately?

I am a blogger, yes, but I am still a fairly private person.  I like enjoying my family and friends offline.  You can’t grow a garden online.  You can’t cook a meal online.  You can’t go barn picking online. We can’t spend all of our lives online. Maybe it’s time to liberate ourselves somewhat from social media.  We used to exist fine without it, after all.

Think about it, when is the last time you wrote an actual letter?  I am going to hang out in my garden and commune with nature and check out butterflies.  I will leave you after this rambling post with an online article about types of Facebook posters. It’s very funny.

10+ Types of Facebook Posters

RobinB Creative
Humorous Caricatures of Social Media Users
Social media has existed since the earliest times.
Imagine, if you will:
An early, nomadic hominid, scratching an image onto the wall of her cave-shelter. Picture her wonder, joy, and surprise when she returns, a season later, to find an image left by an unknown “other”.
There, on the cave wall, is an “answering image” — with splashes of colour. She has no idea who “commented on her wall post”, but she knows she’s not alone. There has been a response to her unintended friend request. She is experiencing shared humanity and kinship, beyond the immediate circle of her tribe.
Over the years, they may have gone on to share information. I imagine them sharing hunting stories, food storage ideas, and even recipes. I see them inspiring each other to greater creativity by means of their developing art. Maybe, they even shared some personal details.
Did other people, passing through, add to the story on “her wall”?
Basically, humanity has been obsessed with “social media” ever since.
As cultures and technology developed over millennia, so did long-range social interaction. Passed messages, and formal mail services replaced cave paintings. Books spread thoughts and information to larger numbers. Telegraph, telephone, newspapers, and radio, further widened global information sharing.
….Social media, of various kinds — for good or bad — has become integral to our society. For people in my age-group (50s — plus or minus), that usually means Facebook.
I’ve isolated ten different caricatures of Facebook posters — although the first does have four sub-types. [CLICK HERE TO READ FURTHER AND YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID]

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