dear duracell, thanks for the exploding battery

Your eyes do not deceive you, that is indeed a partially melted down AAA battery by Duracell. It was taken out of a new pack of batteries recently purchased by my husband.

Sometimes I succumb to cooking gadgets and I had bought us a pair of electronic salt and pepper shakers. I had taken the housing apart on the salt and pepper shakers to insert the batteries. Each shaker takes six AAA batteries.

I had just put the batteries in one of the shakers and was going to close up the housing of the unit and I accidentally touched the side of the battery and burnt the side of my hand a little. It wasn’t a bad burn by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not what you expect when you put fresh batteries into something. I am just grateful that the damn thing didn’t explode and get battery acid in my eyes.

Duracell likes to advertise they are the most trusted brand of battery. Not so much for me anymore.

visiting the lockwoods

Today I went to St. Paul’s in Exton for the Loving Our Earth Expo. It was a lot of fun and they had interesting vendors and terrific speakers including Mike McGrath from You Bet Your Garden.

While I was there, I decided to find the Lockwood family whom are buried in the graveyard adjacent to the church.

St. Paul’s is quite old and was started around 1827. It actually was apparently and offshoot of one of my favorite churches Old St. David’s Radnor. It was consecrated by Bishop William White in 1829. I will note they could probably use some angels to get some of the headstones in that graveyard repaired.

The Lockwood family are the people for whom Loch Aerie was built. I have been meaning to visit their graves for a few years, so today I made the time for it and I’m glad I did. I will also note one of the newer buildings is named after the Lockwood sisters.

sometimes there is just twitter love

Sometimes I just love the Internet, specifically Twitter. Lately it’s been dismal because of all that tweeting from places like bathrooms in the White House. When someone disses a genuine U.S. hero months after their death, it gets a little dismal.

But then up pops an Internet coyote, and a Main Line one no less! Radnor Coyote felt they had to have a voice after Radnor Township Police issued a coyote warning, I am guessing.

Now Radnor Coyote is a media darling. Everyone is talking about them – philly.com , Delco Times , and TV reporters galore! (Well come on, let’s face it, @RadnorCoyote is a heck of a lot less scary than the cougars that roam Wayne and pop up at local Wayne watering holes like The White Dog or Paramour right?)

I am not sure if they are howling at the moon tonight or not because from my windows the moon is under cloud cover.

Radnor Coyote is very witty. They are an excellent twittersationalist, so check them out!

reaffirming the gratitude jar

I have mentioned for years now that I have a gratitude jar. I had read about it a few years ago and it was just a simple thing to make us as human beings focus on the positives and the good things in our lives.

Sometimes when a bunch of negative things happen all in a row, it’s hard to stay positive. I find it hard to stay positive because I do not think by my very nature I am naturally positive. I have to work at it.

I think positive for me has been learned behavior, and it’s something I have to relearn and reaffirm again and again. Hopefully, someday it will be second nature to me.

A quote I found on another blogger’s post about gratitude jars is something I would like to share:

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

I think that’s a pretty powerful statement. In the instant gratification social media-centric world in which we live, this quote which is pretty damn old is still current, isn’t it?

Lao Tzu was known as the father of Taoism. Mind you, many modern writers feel this is NOT a real person at all, but a legendary figure whose writings were actually created by many different people. And yes I got off on a tangent, so back to the gratitude jar.

Having a gratitude jar is a simple reminder that life is not all bad or all difficult. Having a gratitude jar helps you focus on the things that are wonderful in your life. Even every day little things are wonderful.

Having a gratitude jar helps us reaffirm the many positives in our life. Life can be hard. I am not trying to be Pollyanna and say everything is always wonderful with fuzzy caterpillars that turn into magical butterflies. I am more of a realist than that.

I just think we live in a completely crazy world at times and a simple thing like a gratitude jar is a great way to keep us honest and keep us thankful and keep us grateful.

Here is an old post from girls on the run on how to make a gratitude jar with your children (click on the hyperlink).

Some people empty their gratitude jars on an annual basis and re-read everything at the end of the old year or beginning of the new year. I don’t do that. I intermittently check out what I have written in the past and add a new note to the jar. I don’t add notes every day. Sometimes I go quite a while without adding anything. This morning I added two notes.

I will close with something I learned as a small child while attending Saint Peter’s School in Philadelphia. We used to learn songs seasonally for lack of a better description, and in the fall around harvest time or what would’ve been harvest time since we were at school in the middle of Society Hill, we used to sing a song called Simple Gifts. It was a Shaker song / hymn written by a Shaker Elder named Joseph Brackett in the 1840s.

Even Yo Yo Ma has recorded a version of it. It’s a classic in my opinion and it’s very beautiful. And I am not a particularly religious person although I have my faith.

The song was largely unknown outside of Shaker communities until the composer Aaron Copland used its melody for the score of Martha Graham’s ballet Appalachian Spring (Shakers once worshipped on Holy Mount, in the Appalachians), first performed in 1944.

Mr. Copland also reportedly used “Simple Gifts” a second time in his first set of “Old American Songs for voice and piano”, which was later orchestrated

Here are the lyrics and thanks for stopping by:

Simple Gifts Lyrics

Joseph Brackett (1797 – 1882)

(Shaker dancing song)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

  ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,

  To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

  Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

santa will be bringing pipeline liens in pa this holiday season? sounds pretty grinch-y.

Letter threatens mechanic’s lien against pipeline property owners

WGAL News 8

Lebanon County PA: The Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline is now operating through the Susquehanna Valley.

But some landowners along the route in Lebanon County received an alarming legal notice in the mail this week.

The pipeline runs through northern Lebanon county, where crews only left a few weeks ago.

But this week, resident Deb Wolfe got a letter in the mail, claiming she was going to have a mechanic’s lien placed against her property because of a contractor that was not paid for their pipeline work.

The letter explains Dykon Blasting is requesting money from Williams Transco and Welding Construction for work done on the Atlantic Sunrise through Lebanon County.

The Wolfes aren’t the only property owners facing this potential headache.

I only just learned about this but this is certainly food for thought with regard to Adelphia, Sunoco/Mariner East/Sunoco Logistics/Energy Transfer Partners, right?

To follow are screen shots from Just The Facts Please on Facebook and please connect with them directly on this:

american on american terrorism is NOT o.k.!

Today the news broke that someone in this country that someone is mailing pipe bombs to people like the Clintons, Obama, George Soros, and others.

That is truly a WTF moment.

These actions are not what the USA is about. These are not the actions of loyal Americans, but acts of domestic terrorism.

These actions are horrible. I don’t care what your politics are or what political party you belong to, no one should be mailing anyone pipe bombs.

I posted the New York Times article they published a couple of hours ago on my blog’s Facebook page with the sole comment of WTF. Sorry not sorry, it’s how I felt.

After I posted the article, the comments started. The one person who liked the article as in liked it because it was a good thing someone was mailing pipe bomb things to high ranking Democrats, took me to task because apparently I hadn’t posted articles when some Republicans were mailed envelopes with suspicious content.

Excuse the hell out of me, I didn’t know it was a domestic terrorism contest between political parties. I also had been blissfully unaware of that news report.

I used to be a total news junkie. I don’t watch the news very much anymore. Ever since this administration came to Washington our country has devolved into an angry hateful nation.

That is not my America. To me that is not being an American.

Truthfully, I am kind of sick of both political parties at this point.

The Democrats in Chester County evicted two teenage girls from the “Sunrise Movement” an event recently because they didn’t want them asking Governor Wolf environmental or pipeline questions at an event. They bought event tickets fair and square. So wrong. Of course one of the young ladies was already essentially ridiculed this summer by Wolf’s golf spike shoe wearing opponent Scott Wagner.

The younger voters might not have all the life experience of an older person, but they are the ones who will be inheriting the hot mess this country is becoming. Don’t discourage involvement. People are growing apathetic enough, myself included if I am honest.

The anger and rage coursing through this great nation is utterly terrifying. It has to stop.

We need to get back to civility within our political system.

In my humble opinion that also means we need to start systematically electing different kinds of politicians. We need to have representatives in elected office who actually represent us, not special interest groups, big donors, political party bigwigs.

Since the founding of this great nation people have fought and died for our freedoms. People need to remember what it is to be an American, and part of that is the ability to embrace differences in others. We are all not supposed to be identical. We are a nation founded by immigrants, and those people risked their lives to come here to escape political persecution, religious persecution, etc.

We need to stop the anger.

We need to stop the violence.

We need to just hit the pause button even in our own individual lives to be appreciative for the gifts we have been given by God.

Do something nice for a change. Turn off the political vitriol.

9/11 : 17 years. never forget.

It’s 8:45 AM and 8:46 AM the moment of silence at the World Trade Center Memorial in NYC begins.

17 years ago today, everything changed. 2983 people lost their lives.

On February 23, 1993 there was the first attack on the World Trade Center. 25 years ago.

The years move away from the dates, but we never forget. They are literally dates which live in our minds in infamy. To paraphrase FDR, who was in his time, referring to Pearl Harbor.

The photo this post opens with is one I took this summer and it is the controversial 9/11 Memorial in New Jersey. Known as the “teardrop memorial”, it is located in Bayonne. I think it has a kind of strength and beauty to it.

On the anniversary of 9/11 in 2012 I was invited to ride in my friend Barry’s American flag hot air balloon over Chester County. As we left on our hot air balloon flight when I looked down this is what I saw:

This is what they were looking at and what I saw looking up:

I am forever grateful to my friend Barry because this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that was deeply meaningful and I shall never forget it.

In the last 17 years our country has gone through crazy times, perhaps none more so than today. But we have to take a moment and pause and remember all those Americans who lost their lives for our freedoms. Because even if they did not die on a battlefield or in combat, they died for all of us.

I will close with a reader’s editorial I wrote for the then editor of Main Line Life, Tom Murray. Folks in Chester County will remember him as the editor of The Daily Local before he passed away.

I wrote this piece in 2006:

Sept. 11, 2006, is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and United Airlines Flight 93’s crash in the field in Shanksville, Somerset County. This date has special significance to every American, and intense personal significance to far too many individuals who lost friends and loved ones.

But September 11, wasn’t the first time terrorists visited the World Trade Center. In truth, Feb. 26, 1993. was the date of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I worked in New York at that time at an office located downtown in the financial district.

On that day, I had accompanied an office friend to the World Trade Center to grab an early lunch and to check out some stores in the shopping concourse. We were back outside the Trade Center buildings, getting ready to cross the street, when suddenly the ground shook and moved. I remember that we were looking directly across the street at Century 21, a department store in Lower Manhattan. Then something happened that rarely happens in New York: Everything went eerily still and quiet. We looked up at what we first thought were snowflakes beginning to float and fall from the sky. After all, it was February. Then car alarms began to go off one by one like the cacophony of many distorted bells. The snowflakes, we soon discovered, were in reality ashes.

People began yelling and screaming. It became very confusing and chaotic all at once, like someone flipped a switch to “on.” At first, we both felt rooted to the sidewalk, unable to move. I remember feeling a sense of panic at the unknown. We had absolutely no idea what had happened, and hurried back to our office. Reaching it, we were greeted by worried coworkers who told us that someone had set off a bomb underground in the World Trade Center garage.

I will never forget the crazy kaleidoscope of images, throughout that afternoon, of all the people who were related to or knew people in my office who sought refuge in our office after walking down the innumerable flights of steps in the dark to exit the World Trade Center Towers. They arrived with soot all over their faces, hands and clothes. They all wore zombie looks of shock, disbelief and panic.

Of course, the oddest thing about the first terrorist attack on New York City is that I don’t remember much lasting fuss about it. I do remember that President Bill Clinton was newly sworn into office, but I don’t remember him coming to visit New York after the attack. Everything was back to normal in Lower Manhattan in about a month, maybe two. After a while, unless you had worked in New York, or lived in New York, you simply forgot about this “incident.”

So, on the morning of 9/11, as I pulled into my office building’s garage and listened to the breaking news on the radio announcing that a plane had struck the World Trade Center, tears began to run down my face unbidden. I knew in my heart of hearts what happened. I said to myself, “Oh no. They came back.”

I remember picking up my cell phone to call my father, whom I knew to be, at that time, on an Amtrak train bound for New York City. I remember him telling me it was fine and he’d be fine. I wanted him to get off in New Jersey and take a train back to Philadelphia. But the train was already pretty much past all the stations and getting ready to go into the tunnel to New York. That very thought terrified me. To this day, I still do not understand why Amtrak did not stop those last trains from going into New York City as the news of the World Trade Center attacks first broke.

I next remember getting in the elevator and getting off on my office floor to find people clustered around television sets and radios. And the news kept getting worse: first one plane, then a second, then a third, and then a fourth.

The images and news just didn’t stop. Camera cuts from lower Manhattan to Washington to Somerset County. They are images that have to be ingrained in everyone’s mind forever like indelible ink.

It took a couple of days for my father and brother-in-law (who had already been in New York on business) to get out of the city, but eventually they got home safely with many stories to tell of what New York was like in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A lot of people weren’t so lucky. They never saw their loved ones again after that fateful morning. Many people in the Philadelphia and greater Main Line area lost friends, coworkers and loved ones.

On September 11, I knew people who were lost, but fortunately I didn’t lose any loved ones. I remember for a brief time it seemed we were all a little nicer to each other, and politicians actually seemed to come together as one and grieve as a nation grieved.

But here we are five short years later. I have only seen the site one time where the World Trade Center once stood proudly. That was about a year after the attacks. I remember a distinct pit in my stomach and looked away from the car window. This past June I was in Washington, and had the same intense, awful feeling in my stomach as we drove on the highway past the Pentagon.

Life must go on and time can’t stand still, but all in all I can’t help but wonder: What have we learned since about our country and about ourselves? Five years after 9/11 what have we learned and what have we forgotten? What do we need to remember?