respecting personal space

Above you see the bank machine in the Giant on Boot Road in West Chester. It’s the Giant that locals say is in the Bermuda Triangle  of retirement homes (Hershey’s Mill, Bellingham, Wellington).

Anyway, it’s an interior bank machine next to a micro branch of PNC Bank. Sometimes it’s busy and when it’s busy you either wait your turn or come back later.

Today I was depositing a check at the bank machine, and I was literally endorsing the check over to the bank so I could pop it into the machine, when all of a sudden I felt someone right upon me and behind me.  That is a slightly disconcerting feeling let alone taking into consideration the fact I was standing at a bank machine with my wallet out.

So this older gent – I would say the late 60s early 70s – is literally right on top of me. Startled I turned and looked at him.  He was close enough that I could smell his breath.

“I’m in a hurry. You don’t mind if I jump ahead while you are doing that do you?” He says.

I think my mouth must’ve hung open first and I paused before I answered, and I looked at him and I said “Why yes , I do mind.”

He then says “Well  calm down sweetheart!”

Alrighty. I just turned my back to him and kept my mouth clamped firmly shot. I was honestly afraid of what might come out if I responded.

Let’s start with the fact that I’m not his sweetheart, and he’s completely ignorant.

The second thing is I patiently wait my turn whenever someone’s ahead of me at the bank machine, it’s what you do. And I don’t stand on top of them, I give them space and privacy because that’s what you’re supposed to do , it’s a banking transaction.

I don’t know what it is about people at interior location bank machines. But they seem to think normal rules don’t apply.

I think there should be signs at these interior machines like they have for pharmacy lines where they ask people to keep it respectful distance between the current customer and themselves.  

I have run into this problem before at this particular bank machine.  Last time it was a huffy and shouting woman who told me she was important and she was in a hurry and I should move over for her. Literally.

(You will note as to not embarrass this man’s family I did not post a picture of him. Just the bank machine so you could see the space.)

I sometimes wonder where basic manners have gone. And why people can’t respect the personal space of others when they expect you to respect their’s. 

The final thought is this had that man done that at a bank machine in Center City Philadelphia, I probably would have stepped on his foot and elbowed him in the stomach and asked questions later because I would’ve been even more concerned I was about to be mugged or something.

There is no accounting for rude behavior I suppose. At any age. if I had been feeling witty I probably would’ve turned him and said “Oh grandpa please!”

“netiquette” revisited


Yesterday I posted something in an online group that was never intended to be controversial or cause a hubbub, I was sharing information and personal experience. For doing that the comments I received were in two categories: very kind and polite, and mean and piling on. 

I had warned people to take it easy this year if they get the flu shot because I found it to be tougher than last year and I am home in bed sick.  The nurse in the chemo lounge where I got my shot after my oncology appointment warned me to take it easy, and I didn’t and well…here I am sitting in bed losing a day during the time deprived holiday season.

People reacted two ways: politely and often agreeing as they had similar reactions this year and the other reaction was just piling on. Saying things like they disagreed and I was “wrong”. Wrong? My experience was not something to either agree or disagree on, it happened to me, it just IS!  One person made some inane comment about how they got the flu shot and some other shot and would do it “100 times more” or something equally moronic.

All I was doing was passing along my experience and urging people if they did have to get one like I do, to take it easy on themselves. After all, I learned the hard way when I did not listen to the nurse warning me to take it easy. Trust me with a post -cancer compromised immune system, I wish I did not have to do things like get a flu shot, but I do. So I get it. But the reactions in an online community where hypothetically you are supposed to be able to share DID make me think about something overnight I feel is important: online behavior and this holiday season.

Sociologists and psychologists will tell you that the advent of online communities and social media has created behavior patterns that are very different ONline versus OFFline. In the real world face to face you might have a discussion that gets heated, but people don’t necessarily pile on in the same way they do online, which is a virtual experience.

Online in large groups, people pile on and can be very judgmental. It’s like their keyboards give them immunity from social norms and more acceptable patterns of behavior. Keyboard tigers, keyboard cowboys, keyboard killers – all the same thing and it is behavior that can be hurtful or offensive of others.

So I spend a lot of time often  just reading what people write in these groups  and NOT commenting. And what I see at times blows my mind because as human beings we can just be so darn mean to one and other.  Or they just post things that are so wholly inappropriate it confounds me.

It is the holiday season. We are not all the same, we are all individuals. Let’s try especially at this time of year to be respectful of each person’s individuality and opinion and NOT pile on.  Especially in online communities. When we pile on it is not right and is actually bullying, a behavior we teach our kids no matter what the age is wrong.

Opinions will be different from person to person and that is quite alright. If you disagree with someone’s opinion, that doesn’t make their opinion wrong, it just means yours is different.

Online communities were started in part so we could share information and be supportive of one and other; not tear each other down and be intolerant of differences.

Enjoy the magic this season has to offer to all ages. Think before you post online. Be more kind. Be the kind of adult you want your kids to be someday. If we can’t be kind and tolerant to one and other, how can we expect our kids to be that way?

Thanks

thank you jenkins arboretum!


Today a padded media mail envelope arrived from Jenkins Arboretum. I did not know what it was because I wasn’t expecting anything. I am a member of Jenkins, but not a major donor by any stretch of the imagination. 

I love to garden, and I love to look at gardens. Because I now have a good deal of shaded and woodland garden, I have had a renewed appreciation of the genius and beauty of Jenkins.  As a matter of fact some plants grown at Jenkins Arboretum are now part of my own garden. 

Anyway, want to know what was in the envelope? The most beautiful book, produced by Jenkins Arboretum about the history and legacy of  Jenkins Arboretum on their 40th anniversary!

Thank you, Jenkins Arboretum, I will treasure it always!

It has been a long time since I have received anything so nice or generous for just being a member anywhere. It is quite the gift and as a rabid gardener a most perfect one!

dear thanksgiving night drunk driver,


Dear Drunk Driver,

Thanks for the added tension on the roads this evening.  Like many others we were just driving home from a family Thanksgiving dinner and encountered YOU on 76 West (Schuylkill Expressway).
When you sober up in the morning  and you wonder HOW all that driver’s side damage occurred, I can tell you. You bounced off the center concrete barrier on the westbound side of the Schuylkill. MORE THAN ONCE.  We played dodge ball with what we believe was your driver’s side mirror as it flew by our car, narrowly missing our windshield.
If you look at the above drunk driver, that fuzzy bright ball in the center is YOU.  At different points of time, until we lost track of you, whether you were in front of us or behind us, or next to us (and we had to drive on the shoulder at one point  so you didn’t hit us), you were not just weaving a little, but sailing left and right as well as riding the center line like a slot car.
I did something I have never done before drunk driver because it had been so long since I had seen such a horrific drunk driver – I called the PA State Police. 
It was a busy night for PA State Troopers on the Schuylkill Expressway. Once past City Line Avenue, we passed several accidents east and westbound. So dear drunk driver, I don’t know if they caught you but I sure hope they did.
More than anything else, I hope you did not hurt yourself or anyone else.

on the eve of thanksgiving 

The day before Thanksgiving and I’m starting preparations for dinner tomorrow. I’ve learned little tricks over the years like making the broth for the turkey out of the turkey gizzards and neck is easier done the day before.  Once that broth starts cooking my kitchen is filled with the smells of Thanksgiving for the first time.  

Along with the smells of Thanksgiving come memories.

Memories of Thanksgivings past.

I actually woke up this morning thinking about Thanksgivings of my past.

When I think of the holidays I always think of my late father as well as my late brother in law because they both loved Christmas and Thanksgiving. When they were both alive Thanksgiving could almost be exhausting because they were perfectionists, but the meals were awesome!  

I have some very fond memories of Thanksgivings at my sister’s house in New York before my brother-in-law died. They have a beautiful dining room that is almost a square in shape so my sister uses two small tables that are round versus one large table.  I think after both my father and brother in law being lost within a few short years of each other it has taken us a while to get our Thanksgiving groove back.

When my sister and I were really little I remember going to my Uncle  Jackie’s and Aunt Connie’s house for Thanksgiving.  

All of my cousins, us, aunt and uncle, and Mumma and Poppy. Due to family drama I don’t have very many memories of very many of these Thanksgivings. But those I remember being much more fun than the Thanksgivings we spent at my father’s sister’s house.

My aunt, my father’s only sister, has never been an easy woman to read. I have always felt she didn’t like me very much or my mother and was jealous of my late father. She did seem to like my sister. Her daughters well, they were fine to get along with when we were little, but as we all grew up we did not have much to say to each other and still don’t to this day.

I have a distinct memory again of when we were very little, and my Aunt Theresa and Uncle Serge lived in Paoli.   Paoli was still a bit rural in spots.  I remember they lived down a really long driveway in a white farmhouse. It was a really cool farmhouse and I seem to recall it was Victorian in nature. I don’t know that anybody has photos of it anymore but I have a distinct memory of a Thanksgiving there.

It was a big crowd for dinner and I remember that the kids had their own table set up outside the dining room in the front hall by the staircase. I remember that we ate black eyed peas as one of the dishes.  My uncle is Cuban, and I also remember his mother was still alive.

Many years later we all tried the Thanksgiving together again with them when my grandmother – my father’s mother – was still alive. At this point my aunt and uncle had settled in Chestnut Hill where they still live today. I remember that Thanksgiving is being technically beautiful but emotionally cold. And I remember their dining room in their house in Chestnut Hill was quiet and dark, even in candlelight.

I remember other Thanksgivings we spent with our family friends the Cullens. They had been our neighbors in Society Hill when we were really little and they first moved to Bethesda because Mr. Cullen’s job took him to Washington DC, and then later they moved to Summit, New Jersey because his job eventually took him to New York City.

Growing up the Thanksgiving dinners we had with the Cullens are among my happiest memories of Thanksgiving as a child. Those were the holidays that were alive and boisterous and fun. Mr. Cullen was a tall Irishman with a big chest and a wonderful voice. And he was funny and he would say funny these things and you could just see the twinkle in his eye. Mrs. Cullen is still one of my favorite people on the face of this earth.  She is one of the brightest people I’ve ever had the privilege to know and she is also probably the closest thing to Julia Child I will ever know as a home cook. 

The thing about Thanksgiving dinners with them is it bought out the best in everyone. Although Mr. Cullen like my father, died years ago now, the family remains dear friends.

I especially liked the years they lived in Maryland because we would go down there for the weekend pretty much, and I would be able to wander around Georgetown while we were there and discovered fun things like Kemp Mill Records. That was this awesome record store in Georgetown where I listened to artists like Al Stewart for the first time.

We had other Thanksgiving dinners that were just our family and smaller that were equally memorable. It was always fun getting the table set with my mother and laying out the flatware and the china, making sure the crystal glasses were all sparkle and no smudges. The good smells eminated from the kitchen all day until dinner time.

Other memories of Thanksgiving include when I was in my early to mid 20s and my girlfriends and I would always go to West Chester for years the night before Thanksgiving. We would go to the Gobble Off at the Bar and Restaurant in West Chester.  I have written about this before, it was just that much fun. Now we’re all purported grownups with our own families and that seems so long ago and far away. There were other night before Thanksgiving nights out with my friend Pam in Manayunk. I forget what the name of the restaurant is where we all used to meet in those days but it was a lot of fun as well. Pam would get all sorts of people together from high school and she made the evening fun!

Along with the Thanksgiving memories are the years that were like being banished. It was because of a prior relationship that I used to have to go into Central Pennsylvania basically. It was like being a stranger in a strange land and sadly these were the people that were almost my in-laws. I just never quite fit. That made it hard before any of the other stuff.

They weren’t bad people. One sister-in-law probably because she wasn’t related to the siblings by blood I liked in particular, still do. Before she divorced her husband (my ex’s brother) I honestly did enjoy going to Thanksgiving at her house up around Mechanicsburg. She and her mom were all about tradition and it was festive and warm. But the majority of the years I spent going to another almost sister-in-law’s house outside of Allentown. That was not so much fun.

The entire car ride up my ex would berate me about one thing or the other. Usually he yelled. Why was I wearing what I was wearing? What I could say and what I couldn’t say, and basically the entire duration of our relationship he didn’t want me getting too close to his family and didn’t share the few friends he had.  It was always an unpleasant ride up. By the time I got to his sister’s house I was a bundle of raw nerves.

When we got to his sister’s house, which was a townhouse development on the edge of a golf course, we would circle around for parking and eventually find the spot he deemed suitable. Then we would haul in my contributions to the meal. And we generally speaking, well that was me.  

When you got inside the townhouse you had the welcoming smell of a Thanksgiving dinner.  Unfortunately you were also met with some pretty somewhat bitter and somewhat dissatisfied middle-age women all divorced older than myself. The nieces and nephews were nice when they were in town, but I couldn’t hang out with the kids I was one of the grown-ups.  

One of the most amusing part of those Thanksgiving dinners in exile was the way every year the one sister magically made photos of my ex’s ex-wife fall out of the drawer or a book somewhere.  And I also never understood why they went to the trouble to cook a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner and have people around the table and not put the food out in nice containers. They put the disposable aluminum pans and plastic containers and what not right on the sideboard.

The Thanksgivings I spent in exile so to speak made me appreciate my friends and family all the more.  Not every Thanksgiving is perfect, we’re human they are not supposed to be. And even on the Thanksgivings that don’t quite end up the way you envision there is always good. Or at least humor. 

I think we all have this goal to become like a Norman Rockwell painting for one day. The problem is we can’t help but fall short because we are actual people not subjects of someone’s artistic mind’s eye.

I love hearing about my friends’ traditions.  I woke up this morning thinking of someone I used to know who always spoke about making creamed onions in a sherry cream sauce every Thanksgiving.

Now sprinkled in between all the homemade Thanksgiving dinners were a couple club and restaurant made Thanksgiving dinners.  Those were beautiful dinners and we had a lot of fun, but it was sort of anti-climactic because you didn’t wake up the next day to Thanksgiving leftovers and that is part of the fun of Thanksgiving.

I think Thanksgiving is a holiday is something I enjoy more the older I get. I don’t know if that makes any sense. I think part of it has to do with feeling somewhat like I have come into my own. But I do love Thanksgiving and even more so, Christmas. I am the crazy person that likes to put out the china, iron and do up the old table linens,  and decorate and cook.

We all have a lot to be thankful for, even if it is not always immediately apparent. Hearth and home are powerful motivators. My wish for this Thanksgiving is as a country we start to put aside all the political divisiveness of this recent presidential campaign, and remember what it is to be an American.  

I don’t know about you but I am tired of all the hate and violence. I am tired of the protests. I am tired of the anger. It’s exhausting even to avoid. I hope everyone takes a breath tomorrow and enjoys the company they are with. tomorrow literally is the day to be grateful for what we have and who we have in our lives.

Well I have to get back to my meal preparations, because when you’re a kid you don’t realize the preparing Thanksgiving dinner actually takes a good couple solid days of work!

Wishing all of you my readers, a safe and happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

for the love of god and country: the ceremony at ebenezer

dsc_9202Today’s ceremony at the ruins of Ebenezer A.M.E. on Bacton Hill Road today literally made me cry.  I was so overcome with emotion that the ruin and cemetery are finally getting well-deserved recognition and attention.  #thisplacematters , all 184 years of it.

dsc_9253When I got to the graveyard, people were assembling. Media, neighbors, passers-by who decided to pull over and stop, descendants of those souls buried there, a representative from the East Whiteland Historical Commission, some of my “Ladies of Ebenezer”, the Willistown Troop 78 Scouts, Luke Phayre the Eagle Scout and his family (including his mom Kathy and grandfather) , many local veterans, three member of the East Whiteland Police Department,  WCU Student Veterans Group members, and  Al Terrell.

dsc_9082It was so overwhelming to me, it truly was such a beautiful sight. It was indeed something I was not sure I would ever see and among other things I so wished Ann Christie had lived long enough to see this happen – which is why some of the Ladies of Ebenezer were there today – we had made Ann a promise because she truly loved the site and had tried for years before my interest to get to this point.  We also felt today we were able to honor her, along with the black Civil War soldiers and other souls buried at Ebenezer. After so many decades of truly wanton neglect, these people were honored.

dsc_9300It was long overdue, but our very history is often such a cruel mistress.

dsc_9108Our ceremony was opened by Luke Phayre. He spoke about his project and thanked people who have been helping him.  He spoke very well and is truly a poised and wonderful young man.

dsc_9088Captain Howard A. Crawford, USAF, MSC (Ret) who is the Commander of the West Chester American Legion Post 134 (Bernard Schlegel Post) spoke simply and eloquently

“We’re here today to honor Civil War soldiers…African American soldiers that died…[who] weren’t given the honors of a true [military] burial.”

dsc_9273His son played taps for the soldiers on a bugle.  Veterans gave a military rifle salute, and if memory serves I think it is called a three volley salute.

dsc_9149And East Whiteland Police Department sent three representatives.  These fine gentlemen came in full uniform and participated.  I was so touched that they wanted to do this, especially today when they were on their way to bury a former brother officer who had served with them and passed away.  At a time in this country when people are so darn critical of our men in blue – like those Bryn Mawr College students this week for example – I think these are the quiet moments that most police critics tend to overlook that speak volumes as to the characters of those who serve. Bravo, East Whiteland Police Department. Such a generous gesture on your own day of loss.

dsc_9317In a nation currently torn asunder by varying political factions and beliefs, those of us involved at Ebenezer are humbled by this kind gesture on the part of Chester County veterans and local police and others who believe in our quest to save Ebenezer and honor those buried here.

Today we saw people leave their politics at home and come together. It was such a poignant and beautiful thing to be part of the week before Thanksgiving. This is what it means to come together and be Americans. There was no race, creed, color, or political divide we were all just Americans coming together to honor our dead. It was so inspiring and true and good a thing. Days like this give us all hope.

Thanks for stopping by.  Read the Daily Local tomorrow too.

dsc_9339