a look back at another community

I am a big fan of Main Line Parent, Philadelphia Family , Family Focus Media. I love what they do, and actually for a few years I was a freelancer with them. I wrote a couple of articles for them, but mostly I was their calendar girl. That is to say for a few years I hunted down and loaded events into their events calendar. I never talked about it much but it was something that was a lot of fun to do. And the ladies who are Main Line Parent are amazing!

Yesterday one of their folks posted the screen shot above. That mural went up in Ardmore in 2012, after I had moved to Chester County, but had been in the planning stages of a group I belonged to for many years, The Save Ardmore Coalition.

Main Line Media News Ardmore to get new mural

By Cheryl Allison callison@mainlinemedianews.com September 21, 2011

The Save Ardmore Coalition has finally found a location for its long-planned community mural, and the search has brought the group back home.

Lower Merion Township commissioners last week gave the green light to the organization’s application to install a mosaic mural on a wall of the Suburban Office Equipment building at 49 E. Lancaster Ave.

The unanimous vote by the Building and Planning Committee was to be finalized at a board meeting Wednesday night….The Save Ardmore Coalition has been seeking a site for a community artwork in downtown Ardmore for more than two years. In June 2009, the organization received a $20,000 grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Community Revitalization Program to be used for a mural and other community projects.

A portion of the grant money was used last holiday season to put up advertisements at local train stations to encourage township residents to “Discover More in Ardmore” and shop local, said SAC President Sharon Eckstein.

The $15,000 mural project had taken longer to get off the ground, though, because of the difficulty in finding an appropriate location. Eckstein said the group had talked to a number of property owners before focusing on Ardmore’s historic Lancaster Avenue business district.

Main Line Media News: Mural dedication in downtown Ardmore

By Cheryl Allison callison@mainlinemedianews.com Nov 4, 2012

The Save Ardmore Coalition celebrated the completion of its Ardmore Mural Project at 49 Lancaster Ave.in Ardmore Sunday The new mosaic mural depicting a street scene has been taking shape this summer on the side of Suburban Office Equipment, across Lancaster Avenue from Rittenhouse Place.

 Artist Jessica Gorlin Liddell was on hand to talk about her work. Special guests included state Sen. Daylin Leach, through whose office a grant was provided to support this work of public art; Suburban Office owners Scott Mahan and Peggy Savery; SAC Mural Coordinator Sharon Eckstein; and other SAC members.

A Penn Valley resident, Liddell specializes in creating architectural mosaic installations…..The Save Ardmore Coalition formed in early 2005 to fight against Lower Merion Township’s potential use of its eminent domain powers to take down several buildings, including the Suburban Office building, in a controversial Ardmore Transit Center and downtown development project.

While a later vote by township commissioners officially precluded the use of eminent domain for the redevelopment project, SAC, as the grant recognized, went on to focus efforts on community advancement by organizing community forums and supporting programs like First Friday Main Line.

The years have passed on by and those of us who made up The Save Ardmore Coalition have moved on with our lives, and some like me, literally moved out of the area. By the time the mural was dedicated in 2012 I was living in Chester County, and had not been part of Save Ardmore Coalition for a while. But the people I was in that group with will always be dear to me like family.

We accomplished a great deal. We actually won a whole bunch of awards locally, regionally, and even one nationally. We were apolitical and beholden to neither political party. And yes, one year to stop the craziness in Lower Merion Township we changed the faces of who governed us and flipped half of the board of commissioners, essentially. We walked into a room together once upon a time as all strangers with a common goal to want better for our community. We left those first rooms and meetings as friends.

The mural is kind of the last thing many of us did together. Once in a while some of us get together and a lot of us are in touch with one and other. But seeing that mural pop up in a photo reminded me of the good community can do.

Be kind to one and other today and never be afraid to stand together for the greater good.

big anti-billboard turnout in east whiteland

It was a packed room with people standing on the sides of the room for the Billboard hearings in East Whiteland tonight.

Tonight was about establishing party status for people with regard to each individual hearing for each individual application. As kind of expected pretty much everyone was objected to and if Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny had been present they would’ve been objected to as well.

The meeting was honestly quite contentious at times and once the video is up I will post a link so people can see it for themselves. One thing I did not care for was when East Whiteland ‘s solicitor threatened to have police remove a resident. It was a woman, a very nice woman whom I actually know, and she didn’t understand the process.

And that was something tonight that I thought was problematic – it was very confusing trying to understand the process. I sort of understood the process, or most of the process because I’ve been to these hearings before, but I was in the distinct minority and it wasn’t explained well.

Ginny Kerslake from West Whiteland showed up and suggested that East Whiteland do what West Whiteland did and request a full scale test of the signs.  That’s a really good common sense suggestion so I hope it happens.

Also the billboard company is going to have an open house coming up for residents of East Whiteland at the Desmond Hotel. I am a little fuzzy on the date ( I *think* it is Thursday, January 23 at 7 PM) and as soon as I have clarity I will post it here. I would suggest that residents go.

I have a feeling this is the first of many, many Billboard hearings. Tonight you had people showing up with legitimate reasons for wanting party status other than immediate proximity to the locations. Health impacts. Serious health impacts. I will give East Whiteland Supervisors kudos here for standing up for those residents, in particular, Supervisor Rich Orlow.

Anyway good job East Whiteland residents and others. Not a fun meeting for anyone. but if you care about your community this is just one of those issues where you have to keep showing up.

I did not see anyone from State Senator Dinniman’s office or anyone from State Rep. Kristine Howard’s office either.

christmas has left the building

Bit by bit, Christmas has left the building. It has taken longer this year post knee surgery. I also have been sorting the ornaments, honing down what I actually use versus what I haven’t been using.

I did decide I really liked the look of my copper tray loaded up with my old glass candlesticks, so that I am keeping that the same way. I have just put away the Christmas candles and the Christmas tablecloth I used this year which was a cheerful tartan. Now I have one of the vintage damask tablecloths I own on the table. It’s sort of a deep teal to green shade. Totally mid-century and totally fun.

Only the tree remains up and that is indeed a process to take down. The old ornaments all go into their own boxes. One by one. It’s old mercury glass topper has already been put away.

One thing I linger on is my great grandparents’ German Kugel that hung in their home in Lancaster when Mumma, my maternal grandmother, was a little girl. Mumma gave it to my mother, who gave it to me. I don’t have any daughters so I don’t know to whom I will pass it some day.

What I can’t ever decide about the Kugel is should I put it away. It hangs on the dining room chandelier and I love to look at it. So should I keep it hanging? I want to, but realistically if I keep it hanging all year round, chances are I will damage it. So into it’s box it will go until next year.

That is the funny thing about Christmas decorations. There are some you could look at all year round like the Kugel, and others like the Santas and Nutcrackers who seem to stare at you after a while.

Until next year, Christmas, until next year.

whisper down the lane

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I have written about gossip three times on this blog over the years (here, here, and here.)

As I have said before, I find people that are perfectly nice becoming collateral damage because they are judged quite literally by the company they keep, right or wrong. Or being targeted because they aren’t some cookie cutter Stepford Wife living in a cookie cutter development.

And it’s women who do the real damage here, not men. Why are women so cruel to each other? Some say it is a basic evolutionary drive of women that men don’t have. Some say it is low self-esteem. I think personally some people are just mean and have nothing better to do.

Some days I still feel as if I wear the Scarlet Letter, personally. No, not the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, although in a sense it’s similar. The Scarlet D for different. Yes, yes, shocking and sad as it may be, apparently once again I am failing Stepford Wife school? Whatever shall I do?

“People will question all the good things they hear about you but believe all the bad without a second thought.”

Well, I can tell you that increasingly I just do not care. Their problems are theirs, not mine, or yours.  Gossiping about someone because you really don’t know them or they don’t fit into a mold you decided they should fit into to make you more comfortable is just horse sh*t.  Yes, horse sh*t.

So this morning I heard about a gossip club. Yes really.  Apparently they even have a Facebook group ?   Here we are 2020 and some are still acting like an insipid bunch of 1950’s housewives?  I mean even I like to watch the Real Housewives franchises on Bravo, but y’all know that is not the real world, right?

So this group is not where I live thank the good lord but still are they for real? These “girls” gather under the guise of doing right in the community? Then do good in the community and stop throwing shade. And also? You aren’t from the Main Line, you don’t live on the Main Line, you are miles and miles away from the Main Line or anything remotely resembling what is left of it.

Dayummm, does that mean you are outed? Guess so, LOL.  Y’all are as bad as those who full body check there way into “society photos”. Never. Ever. In a million months of Sundays but thanks for the giggles.

I had to laugh when I heard about this gossip club because it reminded me when we were new to the Main Line when I was a kid.  My mother announced one night at dinner that she was invited to some sort of brown bag lunch with the neighbor women.

Now my mother was always an intermittent stay at home mom.  She worked, had a successful career. But the first few years on the Main Line was a transition for all of us, including her.  She also was a corporate wife at that time, and corporate wives had a whole different set of responsibilities, and that included kind of putting their lives in a way on hold for the corporate of it all.

My mother went to the lunch, which even I who was like 12 or 13 at the time,  found astounding. And weird.  My mother returned from the lunch somewhat shell shocked or gob smacked. Almost sputtering as to what the lunches really were about.

It was a ladies gossip club. You packed a lunch and brought gossip dessert and dished it. Shared the tea as it were. She couldn’t believe it. We all couldn’t believe it. It was the 1970’s and then we were wondering wasn’t suburbia better than a bunch of petty 1950’s housewives throwbacks?

Needless to say, my mother politely avoided future lunches…and generally speaking those women. And I remember during those early years on the Main Line one woman kept binoculars on her kitchen windowsill.  Seriously. And it wasn’t for bird watching and we will leave it at that.

It was crazy but it was real.  And even then it was destructive.  And back then there was no social media or Facebook groups or anything like that. But crap still spewed and spread like wildfire.

So here we are the 3rd day of 2020, and everything old is new again?

Aren’t we better than this?

I also have in the round about of life heard tell of another friend of mine being targeted. And why? Because she is very independent and essentially tells it like it is.  I respect that and it is how we became friends in the first place.  She championed me when I was being targeted by gossip that bordered on slander and she didn’t even know me then. But she knew it was wrong.

I remember another friend said to me recently that this bent towards malicious gossip is why people do not volunteer in their communities or elsewhere. You have these people who are like bunches of broody clucking chickens.  Ready to peck at anything that moves.  And why?  Again usually because someone is different.

Look ladies, we all don’t self-identify by development names instead of towns and roads. And maybe someone is a free spirit or an independent thinker. But does that make them bad people? NO. Get over yourselves. And stop it.

I do not pretend to be perfect. I just think we can do better.  And that includes not exhibiting behavior like this and then wondering where kids get the impetus to bully in the schools.

I saw this quote which sums it up:

Gossips are worse than thieves because they steal another person’s dignity, honest reputation and credibility… which are challenging to restore. Remember: When your feet slip, you can always recover your balance. But when your tongue slips, you cannot recover your words. — Karen Salmansohn

It’s not glamorous, it’s just being bitchy and destructive. Seriously? Try being actually kind to one and other.

Image result for 1950s  housewives gossiping

it’s 2020! new year, new decade!

Found this photo above on a Google search when I put in “New Year’s Eve 1920. ” It just seemed like a fun image to kick off a new decade a century forward. So happy 2020 y’all!

The last decade which just concluded has been the largest decade of change in my entire life. I thought about it last night as we watched the ball drop in NYC.

As 2010 rolled around, I knew or I sensed, or I hoped changes were coming.

I was in the tail end of the wrong relationship and life partnership for me. I knew I wasn’t happy but I still thought it was just me, that I wasn’t working hard enough in the relationship.

I remember feeling guilty on New Year’s Eve 2009 into 2010 because I thought to myself as I looked at this person did I want to be looking at them when I was 70? What a horrible thought I thought to myself as in that moment if I was honest the answer was hell no. But it was somehow oddly and accurately prophetic because a few short weeks later in a February blizzard that was just all over.

I think people were waiting to see if I fell apart but I didn’t. I mean I had my emotional moments, it was a decade out of my life, the prior decade, but it wasn’t right so it didn’t last. When someone asks you to commit your life to theirs and they didn’t 100% commit to you and never shared a lot of their life, even their friends and relatives, it’s not going to last because it’s not the right person. I should have been smarter, but sometimes you have to go through something to actually understand it don’t you?

Mostly I felt guilty about feeling relieved it was over.

So that started the last decade with a bang. But things happen for a reason. I have great friends and family who were all waiting for me on the other side of that. It took a while to not me angry at those who actually called this person to ask them to return to me . They didn’t understand that on that February night in 2010 I closed a door without regret. I didn’t need to have the wrong person in my life to complete me. I completed me. I just didn’t know it until I closed that door.

That new decade was a new start for me. That phrase god closes a door and opens a window comes to mind.

That winter of that new decade, my friend Sherry and I and others received a Congressional Commendation from then Congressman Jim Gerlach. It was for something that Sherry and a wonderful doctor named Ken Marx thought of and I helped with called Operation Angel Wings. This will always be something that I was so proud to be a part of. It was a truly amazing thing to volunteer on.

Somewhere in this year of the last new decade, my husband and I began to talk more and more. We had known each other in high school. And the First Friday Main Line in October of 2010 was where it truly began. I think that is exactly when my heart also opened to a little boy standing with a cup of cocoa in the doorway of MilkBoy Coffee. That was also the evening I got to reconnect with my friend Eric who passed away a few months ago.

Also in the fall of 2010 I got a historical marker from the idea stage to actually raising the money to make it happen. The Wayne Natatorium sign. It was a cool piece of history worth preserving.

Then time went on for 2010 until it ground to a halt in December. That was the year I burned Christmas cookies for the first time ever. That was the Christmas that never really happened except for the motions.

This was the Christmas we lost my beloved brother in law and my sister’s amazing husband to a deadly form of mesothelioma. He was gone in a little over 3 weeks.

There was a blizzard in NYC right before his funeral- NYC was white and fairly silent for a couple of days. Keith is still one of the best people I have ever known. And I miss him, especially around the holidays. He was all about the holidays. He loved Christmas cookies.

But then on New Year’s Eve 2010 into 2011 when I was sitting in the still of my apartment after returning that day from my sister’s in NYC, the phone rang. It was my now husband. We talked through the night and into the New Year on the phone and I killed his Blackberry battery LOL.

I think my husband thought I was very quiet last night for a while. And part of it was because I was thinking of that New Year’s Eve 2010 into 2011. And all of the past decade.

2011 was a magical year and one of the hardest. I fell in love truly and deeply and was also diagnosed with breast cancer. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Quite literally.

But breast cancer freed me to be my better self, I think. More and more time was being spent in Chester County and by the spring of 2012 the transition was completed and I was out here. Best thing that ever happened to me. I am home, truly home in Chester County.

Life moved forward and I reconnected with many of my favorite people from growing up who also were Main Line ex-pats who moved to Chester County.

I learned how to be a stepparent in this last decade. I am still learning. I guess the biggest thing I’ve learned later in life in becoming a parent is that it is always a work in progress.

I also gained a stepfather and amazing stepsiblings in this decade . I am very blessed to have an amazing second father and stepbrothers and a stepsister and step nieces and nephews. It is fun to be part of their crew!

This last decade is also when on my parent’s anniversary one year I married the love of my life. Surrounded by friends and family in an amazing old house. We were married by one of our friends.

This last decade I have also let my inner gardener and treasure hunter out. I left myself open to new opportunities. Many of you have followed my journey here and other places I write. This has been the decade where I have truly begun to evolve as a writer. I have some amazing professional writers as mentors who have guided me along the way. Write what you know.

I have met all sorts of cool new people who often have been kind enough to share their experiences and lives with me.

I have made some friends the past decade that I will keep forever. I made some others friends that I let go of for various reasons, including that they left this earth. That sounds awful but it’s not. It’s the cycle of life. Another old saying comes to mind about people who are in your life for a reason, or a season, or a lifetime.

So much in my life has changed in 10 years. It really makes you pause and reflect and count your blessings. I start this decade in a wholly better place. The right place for me with my amazing husband whom I love to the moon and back. I am truly blessed.

So here we all are on the first day of a new year and a new decade. I wish you all the best and cheers to 2020!

What a long strange (and wonderful) trip it has been.

Happy New Year!

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards

~ Soren Kierkegaard