cooking up sunday “gravy” memories

My father’s mother, my paternal grandmother was not an easy woman. She was incredibly strong, the oldest breast cancer survivor I ever knew (savage mastectomy in the 1940s, lived into her 90s), and her relationships, including with all of us was a complicated relationship at best.

She and my father had periods of detente and I know they loved each other but there were many years were they just didn’t get along, especially after my grandfather died. I still remember the night as a little girl when my father came home after seeing his mother after Pop Pop had died. 

My paternal grandmother, whom I called Grandmom, in a photo taken by either my uncle or one of my cousins. She would’ve looked like this when I was a teenager.

Anyway, I remember creeping down the steps to see him, and stopping in the doorway to the living room and silently going back upstairs. I will never forget the visual of him sitting next to a single lit lamp in the living room on 4th street smoking cigarette after cigarette, staring off at I don’t know what.. At his feet were boxes of his childhood – books and what not. 

I loved my paternal grandmother, but some times growing up I didn’t like her very much. She is a woman who was truthfully better with adults than children, and she had a closer affinity for my aunt and uncle’s children because they were closer to her than my father was. Truthfully my aunt and uncle and cousins seemed to resent having to share her with my immediate family at any time, it was like they felt they had proprietary rights to her or something.

And that was OK with me. I understood it even when I was little and really didn’t understand it, if you know what I mean. They just needed her more for whatever reason. 

 But sometimes the relationship was more normal with Grandmom and she would do things like come out to our house and babysit us while my father traveled on business when mother had to accompany him.
That is where my memories of her Sunday pasta sauce, which she (Grandmom) and my great aunts called gravy, came from.

I remember being a teenager and younger with the smells wafting up the stairs to my bedroom circling the rooms like a comfortable quilt. The smells were intertwined and co-mingled: fresh coffee perking and onion and garlic cooking. There she would be, at the stove with a big wooden spoon stirring the sauce in an apron she made – she made great aprons – I still have one somewhere.

Me as a little girl with my grandmom and the German Shepherd my father hated named Lily Marlene who eventually went to live with my Uncle Jack.

So much like the smell of Christmas cookies baking in the oven, or Thanksgiving dinner aromas filling the air, the smell of pasta sauce being made on a Sunday morning is very much a feeling of home and family for me.

She would start with the onion and garlic and if there were peppers or mushrooms, those as well. They would meld together in olive oil with salt in the bottom of a crazy heavy cast aluminum pot that had a wooden handle and the wooden knob on the lid. My mother whom she gave this pot, still uses this pot to this day. I use my vintage Dansk Dutch oven.

If she was making meatballs or sausage she would brown her meat in a frying pan. I don’t do that anymore, I cook everything in the oven and drain off the grease. My grandmother always had lamb or pork neck bones to add to the sauce. The lamb and particular adds a level of flavor that I still find amazing and prefer to this day. But it’s often hard to find these little neck bones as there are fewer and fewer real butchers out there.

To the vegetables in olive oil in the pot once they were cooked down almost to the point of caramelization at times, she would add tomatoes, tomato purée, and tomato paste. When I was little I also remember going through this ritual at my great aunts with the tomatoes that came out of my Aunt Rose”s garden that my Aunt Josie would put up at the end of every growing season.

The tomatoes were canned in the basement kitchen that my great aunt had for this purpose. I still to this day can see in my mind’s eye how beautiful all the jars of pickles and tomatoes were lined up next to one and other like little rows of soldiers.

Me at Easter as a baby with my mother and my maternal grandmother whom I called mumma

My great Aunt Rose and her husband my Uncle Carl, lived in the “country” as it was referred to by the others. They had moved to Collegeville after they were married and build a house on a large plot of land next to a farm that had horses. Of course today, what was their house, sits set back off of busy Ridge Pike in the midst of commercial and residential development. But I will always remember it with the memory of a child: next to a farm and lots of apple trees and a big kitchen garden and a sort of gruff German Shepherd named Lancelot.

The thing about all of my great aunts, and the reason I write about them so often, is because the memories I have with them in particular are very, very happy. They did not get into the middle of the battles between my father and his mother and his siblings.  

Mind you, I never really blamed my father for any of this because I don’t care for my aunt and uncle, and as an adult after we buried my father, I pretty much decided right or wrong I was finished with those familial relationships. I remember something my father used to say when I was little and it was “sometimes, guilt is just wasted.”


Sadly, my father’s siblings made it easy for me to reach this decision as an adult. My aunt is just not someone I’m ever going to be close to, she just is who she is. I am somewhat ambivalent when it comes to her because I never really grew to love her as a child, felt her coldness, and as an adult she never really chose to know me. So after a while you just stop trying with people like that, even if they are family.

My uncle, however, is a very different story. When my grandmother was in her final decline before she had passed, she and my father had made their peace with each other. He was actually spending time with her almost regularly and I think it was good for him. But there was this one day when my father and I had gone to visit Grandmom in her nursing home and my uncle had driven down from Buffalo to see her.

My father with Aunt Josie before one of his Saint Joe’s Prep dances

There we were, all standing somewhat awkwardly around my grandmothers bed – her deathbed if we’re honest about what was going on. My uncle brings himself up to his full height (he was a little taller than my father – my father was 6 feet tall) and he looks at my father with righteous indignation and tells him how my father was a “bad son.”

 And it went on from there.

At first I was shocked. I couldn’t believe even with all the animosity he exhibited towards daddy over the years, that anyone would be so cruel as to do this over their mother’s death bed. Never shying away from anything (even when I probably should), I told my uncle off. Right there, right then, in that moment. The thing I will never forget about that is my grandmother did not say a word, but she looked at me from her pillow…..and smiled. 

When my father died, my aunt was there. I don’t remember if any of her kids were there but she was there. My uncle, my father’s only brother, wasn’t. He made some lame excuses how he was just “too busy” to come to the funeral. That was the moment I decided completely free of guilt, that I was done trying to pretend to care about and have a relationship with my uncle. And I pretty much sent him a letter telling him so.  

I did try, out of respect, to have a relationship with my aunt one last time after my father had passed, but I came to the sad realization that she didn’t really want a relationship with me, there was too much water I think under the familial bridge. I let that relationship just go. I think my sister hears from her occasionally, but I really don’t know and I don’t ask. 

 I have a memory of my father’s  sister from after my grandmother died, and I’m not sure if my father was still alive or not.  I had contacted her to ask for some of my father’s baby pictures, so I’m thinking he was no longer with us. And I received a box in the mail of photos of my father ripped out of family photo albums I never knew existed in the first place. It was really odd to go through the photos as I have never seen any of them before. Part of me wondered what the rest of the photo albums look like, and the other part of me realized I never would know.  I was grateful to receive the photos and thanked her properly, but it was still all a little odd.

Now that I let my aunt and uncle go the ones I stay in touch with the most are the cousins my father loved the most. The children of his beloved Aunt Helen. Much like my great aunts, they are just lovely people with hearts full of love. They don’t judge or criticize or critique, they are just happy to be family. I love them too.

It’s weird how the smells of cooking something in my adult kitchen can provoke so many memories. But when the memories bubble to the surface I like to write them down now. I want to remember all the memories and the happy feelings these people gave me as a child. And that’s not because I had some kind of an awful childhood, because I didn’t. These people are my roots.

Something I feel is really important are roots. So many people are rudderless today, and they never pay any homage to their roots. I might’ve spent a childhood that some people considered breathing rarefied air between Society Hill and the Main Line, but always more important than any of those experiences, were these old people in my life. 

And not just on my father’s side, but on my mother’s as well. Being from pure peasant stock is actually kind of cool. And I like to acknowledge it because I think it makes up who I am as an adult in my own right. I also acknowledge them because they always got me, which is something I appreciated in them even as a child.

My paternal grandparents on their wedding day.

I’m only sorry that these people aren’t around today to see my life, to see me happy with my own family. But somehow for every pot of Sunday gravy or sauce that I make I think they know.

I write these memories down because I have no daughters and I do not at this point have grandchildren, so a lot of these traditions passed me may eventually die with me, if I don’t write them down and try to pass them on. So I think if I write these things down, the traditions won’t be lost and someone, maybe someone I don’t even know will carry on these things I learned to cook in the kitchens of my great aunts and my parents.

And out of the older relatives, predominantly it was the women who made an impact on me as a girl growing up. All of these women were strong independent individuals in their own right. My memories of both my grandfathers and my Uncle Pat (P.J.) are more fuzzy and less defined because I was young when all of them passed away. I have photos of my maternal grandfather, but sadly I don’t have any photos of my paternal grandfather as he would’ve been when I was a little girl before he died. Nor do I have photos of P.J.

Now I’m going to go back to my own sauce- it’s time to add the herbs and spices and tomatoes. And when the sausage comes out of the oven it will go into the sauce and it will all simmer, filling my house with the smells and memories of my childhood.

Happy Sunday.

lost and found


I was rearranging my cookbooks and going through some older ones that were my mother’s at one point, and when I open one cookbook it was like opening Pandora’s box. Old photos and recipes. One recipe was hand typed by someone for my mother, and I remember her making this cake. I think this was a childhood friend’s  mother’s carrot cake recipe.

The other recipes were torn out of magazines and print publications. 

These are all from the late 1960s and early 1970s. I thought it would be fun to share.


to loch aerie we went!

Today, my friend author and East Whiteland native, Thom Nickels and I went to Loch Aerie. The new owner graciously allowed us to come in a photograph and shoot a little video tour.

It made me so happy to visit the grande dame of Frazer!

I will have photos soon, and I have to thank this old house for inspiring my photography today. I had not felt so inspired of late, so it felt good.

Loch Aerie has a future and new owners who care about her and are not scared of her. They love the old gal.

Thanks for stopping by!

another unexpected loss. good-bye tom murray.

Tom at the Harriton House annual Plantation Fair in 2008 with reporter and photographer Ryan Richards.

Tom at the Harriton House annual Plantation Fair (Bryn Mawr, PA) in 2008 with then reporter and photographer Ryan Richards . Tom supported local events and he would pop up at many personally, not just send a reporter.

Yesterday I went to say good-bye to my friend Al Terrell.  This morning I am writing about saying good-bye to someone else I called friend.  Tom Murray, Managing Editor/Lead Content Manager of The Daily Local, our Chester County daily newspaper.

Yes Tom, yes Sam, I know…I just buried the lede. But it is like I have to get my head all wrapped around this. And this one is tough.

It was not quite a year ago that I wrote my blog post about Tom Murray coming on as managing editor of The Daily Local .

We had a joke he and I from way back when he took over for Warren Patton at then Main Line Life (eventually Tom’s job grew and he helped create the whole thing known as Main Line Media News and bring multiple papers together.) When he had come on board to Main Line Life, I had as a local blogger and community activist with the then fledgling Save Ardmore Coalition (back in the days of eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore) sent him an email welcoming the “new sheriff in town.”  He laughed and we became friends.  

Just like that.

These photos I am sharing are my favorites that I took of him. September 2008 at the Harriton House Fair in Bryn Mawr. And one he sent me when I said I wanted to write about him assuming the editorial helm at The Daily Local. The other is a newspaper box from Saturday. And a photo shared by whom he first referred to as “his lady” when he first told me about her, Terry Hardin.

Terry sent me this photo this morning. She loved him so much.

Terry sent me this photo. She loved him so much.

Tom gave a lot of us voices back in the day and today, and all my reader’s editorials were published under him. His “As I see it” columns for readers to have a voice.

But he also then became a friend.

I loved talking to Tom. He was a real daily newspaper guy. He was also a modern media guy and not afraid to try new things, new media platforms. He also was with Patch early on – when they were actually micro news sites and not just regurgitations and shameless re-publishers of the work of others that they are today.

When I was stiffed on fees for some freelance writing last year, he was someone whose wise counsel I sought.  What he told me left me better prepared to take on writing assignments after that.  And I loved the few choice words he had for the person who reneged on payment and said I was a lousy writer. “You know you can write, ” he told me “How many years did I edit what you wrote?”

Tom and Diane - photo taken at Harriton Fair 2008.

Tom and Diane – photo taken at Harriton Fair 2008.

I watched him support his late wife Diane through cancer and we all learned the hashtag #distrong . Like everyone else who knew him our hearts all broke a little when he lost Diane. And then when he met his Terry, we smiled and our hearts were happy.  He and Terry were to be married.

One of Tom’s photos from his Main Line Life Days when he also has a local access TV show.

I was at a dinner party Saturday night with my sweet man n Philadelphia when I checked my phone around 10:00 pm. At 9:47 pm my childhood friend Bob Robinson had messaged me to tell me he had heard from Tom’s son Ian that he had suffered a fatal heart attack around 7 pm. Bob and I shared Tom as a friend.

Behind me I heard the chatter of a happy dinner party as I stared at my phone re-reading Bob’s message. A surreal moment. There I am having a conversation with myself in my head “No, no, no. This can’t be true, it must be a mistake” and around me the cheerful banter of friends.

Because of Tom I got to know so many great people who I am lucky to call friends today. One of them, Cheryl Allison (who was a reporter at Main Line Media News for years) said to me

“I’ve never known anyone who was more passionate about the process of gathering and reporting the news. What many may not have known, but what I had the opportunity to witness, was how Tom delighted in finding, encouraging and mentoring talented young journalists starting their careers.”

Another friend, Caroline Mangan O’Halloran, who wrote for him when he was with Main Line Life and Main Line Media News and now pens the fabulous Savvy said to me

“I am terribly saddened by his loss. Tom was my boss at Main Line Life after Warren Patton. Tom and I bantered about (and disagreed) over many things, but he always played fair and shot straight. He respected everyone and was a kind and generous man. An old-fashioned newsman, he was a a truth teller. I too plan to pay him tribute in SAVVY.”

Truer words were never spoken.  He encouraged the inner writer in both professional writers and citizen journalists.   (And yes, perfectionists of the craft of writing I have done these two quotes like this on purpose.  They are beautiful and I want them to stand out.)

I started blogging before it was quite fashionable, and when I started it was often perceived as a bit scandalous and definitely controversial. He was an early champion, yet would call me out if he felt I could do better.

As I had mentioned earlier, during his many year tenure at Main Line Life/Main Line Media News I wrote a lot of reader’s editorials. I wasn’t the only one – Tom was a big believer in the vox populi or the voice of the people.  Tom is one the many traditional journalists I know that has helped me become a better writer. More importantly, this guy does good newspaper. He did the First Amendment and “sunshine” right.

And so I am writing about Tom for my blog. As I write I remember a really great guy and friend. And a man who was a true newspaperman, a dying breed indeed. True newspapermen are to journalism as cowboys were to founding the west. Mavericks, yet good and true. And so darn American if you want to distill it down.

I thought of Tom Saturday morning when we went over to the D.K. Diner in West Chester for a bite to eat in the afternoon. The first thing that greeted us before we went inside was a Daily News newspaper box.  Way back when in the days of Main Line Life I would always tell him if a box emptied out fast.  He liked to know which issues were selling big time.

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Life is fleeting.

RIP Tom Murray. So many of us will miss you. I had no idea when we spoke last week it would be for the last time. The future of true journalism just dimmed a little.

Updated: JANUARY 25, 2017 — 3:21 PM EST by Bonnie L. Cook, Staff Writer @cookb

The Heron’s Nest: RIP, Tom Murray – an ‘old school’ newspaperman

  • By Phil Heron editor@21st-centurymedia.com @philheron on Twitter
  • Jan 23, 2017

Tom Murray, old-school editor with love of the future, dies
By Michael Rellahan, Daily Local News
POSTED: 01/23/17, 5:00 PM EST

Tom Murray had sent me this photo a little over a year ago. Tom at work. He loved the newspaper business even when it frustrated him.

Tom Murray had sent me this photo a little over a year ago. Tom at work. He loved the newspaper business even when it frustrated him.

unexpected loss: r.i.p. al terrell

I took this photo of Al Terrell this fall

I took this photo of Al Terrell this fall

I do not even really know how to begin this post.  I am so sad, I am in shock.  Al Terrell my friend who made the clean up of Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer possible has died quite suddenly.

I knew in November when we were getting ready for the special ceremony at Ebenezer that Al was not feeling well.  We talked about it.  When I saw him at the ceremony he was so happy it was happening but I saw this stillness about him . And I could tell he felt poorly and it bothered me.

Al at the ceremony this past fall right next to our soldier Joshua's grave

Al at the ceremony this past fall right next to our soldier Joshua’s grave

After the ceremony we swapped emails, text messages and one or two phone calls.  Christmas and beyond it was just text messages.  He still did not feel well and wasn’t sleeping.  At that point he made me promise to not give up on Ebenezer in case something was really wrong with him.  I promised.

And oddly he had been on my mind because a couple of people had asked me if I heard from him.

One of the things we last spoke of was his disappointment in the AME Church not responding to him further about what he wanted to see happen at Ebenezer.  I had a licensed structural engineer look at Ebenezer.  The long story short on that is the long walls are showing signs of bowing and need to be shored up to save what is left of the church ruin.  In order to do a more comprehensive engineering report, the walls would have to be shored up and the center of the ruin hand cleared of debris.  If properly stabilized, the church could be saved as a ruin, and possibly restored if money was no option.   But for that the AME Church as landowner would have to give permission for any of this.  They never replied to him. SHame on them for doing that to him. He never asked them for a cent.

We were also trying to get someone with special radar equipment into the graveyard to properly map the graves once and for all.  I won’t give up on that and I hope Dr. Watson at Immaculata will help me with that.

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Clean up this fall

I won’t give up on Ebenezer but I am so sad that this is the second friend I have made because of this sacred place who has gone home to God.  Maybe somewhere in heaven Al will meet up with Ann Christie and they will talk about Ebenezer.

Al and I became friends only in 2016.  He had contacted me initially  to tell me he would get Ebenezer cleaned up.  AT first I was like “yeah, ok” because I was so disappointed in mankind and AME church professionals and leaders in particular who had led me on a merry chase about saving and cleaning up Ebenezer for a few years at that point.

But Al just stayed in touch and slowly things began to happen.  Throughout the summer and into the fall of 2016, Al was often my first message in the morning or before I went to sleep about Ebenezer.

Al and I used to visit the same soldier before Ebenezer got too overgrown.  We shared Joshua Johnson.

Al had this quiet doing about him, he just persisted until things happened.  Every new grave uncovered, or progress made by the Willistown Scouts he texted me about. Al restored my faith in humankind.  Sounds kind of silly or even trite to my ears, but it is true. He was just a decent, nice, and caring man.  He had a deep faith about him.

Myself and the other ladies of Ebenezer as I call them will miss him terribly.  They do not make people with such honor and godliness and human kindness like Al anymore.

After Luke Phayre the Eagle Scout’s mom Kathy called me this afternoon it was like someone had punched me in the stomach.  Al was someone I knew such a short time. But he made an impact.  He mattered.

To Al Terrell’s widow and family, my deepest condolences.  Heaven truly has another angel.  Selfishly, I wished  heaven did not.  Al and I had clean up plans for the spring already.

Al Terrell with reporter Adam Farence of the Daily Local in November.

Al Terrell with reporter Adam Farence of the Daily Local in November.

Kathy Phayre and I would like to keep this going for Al Terrell.  There is the page on Facebook Save the Ruins and Cemetery of Ebenezer AME Church Frazer PA   @saveebenezeramefrazerpa – when winter turns to spring we will need volunteers.

Al Terrell you were one of a kind.  I feel blessed having known you even a short while. You were a good man.  Whenever I visit Joshua I will think of you. You will be missed. I will miss your text messages with photos of what was uncovered at Ebenezer and even your unabashed joy when people in the area just stopped by Ebenezer to pay their respects.

Everyone, I wish I could write more or be more eloquent.  I am just so truly sad at this moment.

Here is Al’s death notice and the service is this coming Saturday, January 21 at Saints Philip and James in Exton. The viewing starts at 9:30 am:

Al Terrell  May 2, 1945 – January 15, 2017 (Age 71)

 TERRELL Al, age 71, of Malvern and Cape May Point, NJ, died on January 15, 2017. Survived by his wife, Darryl (Waller); his children; Lana, Andrew (Jessica) and Joseph Terrell and his grandchildren; Ella and Sophia. Relatives and friends are invited to his Visitation on Saturday, 9:30-10:45 AM followed by his Funeral Mass at 11 AM at Sts. Philip and James Church, 723 E. Lincoln Highway, Exton, PA 19341. Interment Private. In lieu of flowers, contributions to Willistown Boy Scout Troop 78, 2 Mill Rd., Malvern, PA 19355 or Triangle Park, P.O. Box 74, Cape May Point, NJ 08212 would be appreciated.

 Here is a tribute that came in from Kimberly Boddy a friend of mine (and grand daughter of the late and beloved Chester County Artist, Lee Carter):

There are no words that can possible alleviate the shock and heartache that Mr. Terrell’s family, friends and associates are feeling at this moment in time. 

We know God has spoken and we are left to say Amen, while simultaneously asking ourselves, WHY. You are right Mr. Terrell was a special soul who touched the hearts of those who were blessed to meet him. I agree that we must carry one the Restoration of Ebenezer in honor of Mr. Terrell.

We can take solace in the fact that he did indeed honor the Civil War Colored Troops buried at Ebenezer in spite of the run around he received from the A.M.E Church, District and Local Leaders.

Mr. Terrell did not have historical amnesia or seek notoriety or financial gains. His only desire was to honored those that came before him in the most respectful way and even when he received no response, support or acknowledgement from the landowners he still honored those souls interred at Ebenezer. 

And here are the articles about Ebenezer:

Updated: OCTOBER 16, 2016 — 5:34 AM EDT

By Adam Farence, Daily Local News

POSTED: 11/19/16, 7:11 PM EST

EAST WHITELAND >> During a humble autumn afternoon, a small ceremony paid homage to a long since abandoned graveyard housing African-American Civil War veterans, and others whose names have been lost to time and erosion.

For Bruce Reason and Al Terrell, the sight of the cleaned up Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church cemetery on Saturday was a welcome one…

The person who came along and led the clean-up effort was Henderson High School sophomore Luke Phayre.

Phayre, a member of the Willistown Boy Scout Troop 78, had been looking for a project to complete so he could become an Eagle Scout.

And Terrell, himself a former assistant scoutmaster working on rejoining the troop, suggested to Phayre that he clean up the graveyard as his own son, Andrew did almost two decades earlier.

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5 year bloggerversary

five-years

Facebook is always reminding you of “memories” to share.  Most of the time I ignore the prompts.  This morning for some reason I decided to look.

And guess what? #TBT and all that jazz made me realize that my blog is 5 years old this month!

Yes! Chester County Ramblings is 5!

Above is the banner my blog first had.  I chose it because of not only my love of Chester County but because that is still my favorite and what I feel is among the most iconic Chester County barns.

Well eventually I started to change the banners on the blog because I had at the time been contacted by one of the adult children of the folks who live there. Ironically after I had my photography show at Christopher’s in Malvern in 2015 I heard from one of the homeowners because one of my images mounted in that show was of that barn.  She hadn’t liked that I had cut off the question mark in the photo I chose, and to contact her if I wanted to hear the story of the barn and how it got the writing on the side of the barn. Well I did, and never heard back.  And I still love that barn.

Over the years my blog has stuck to my tag line meandering through, writing about whatever strikes my fancy.

This blog covers a lot of ground and a lot of Chester County. Sometimes I ramble off to other areas. It is my blog, after all. A lot of posts involve my photography, my cooking, crafting gardening, and passion for junking, barn picking and hunting antiques.

One of my blog’s early and still iconic photos taken by me (and not Chester County):

sign-of-the-times-1

I cover topics that make people uncomfortable at times. And the comments I get can at times be termed as hate mail.  It doesn’t matter that no one ever said they had to read this blog, or that just like when you do not like a particular TV station you can change the channel. People just want to comment.  Most comments I publish.  Some I do not but maintain for the Internet trail.

One of the hottest topics was my covering what can only be described as mommy DUIs.  My blog posts were written based on published media reports and public records.  The posts were carefully written and were compassionate.

It troubled me that there seemed to be a string of  cases of  well-educated, well-bred young women ending up with a DUI sometimes with kids in the car.

The pressure to be the perfect woman is a very real thing. And the sooner we, as women can learn to stop beating ourselves up for not being paragons of perfection, the better. And yes that is a lesson I also have to learn and accept. (Some days are just better than others and self-perception is a tricky and cheeky devil.)

I wish life and fixing life issues was as simple as Cher’s infamous line in “Moonstruck” – you know – “Snap out of it!” – but it’s not.  It takes work. Relationships take work, families take work.  Yes there is love and all the good stuff, but you get the good stuff by working together, don’t you?

And for these opinions, well the comments were not always…pleasant.   Such is life.

I experienced that even more when I wrote about teenage suicide.  For all we will discuss and even crowd source on community Facebook pages, people don’t want to talk about difficult topics.  I get that.

But I think we should talk about these things. That we have to.  For our kids we have to. For us as a society we have to.

Just like I think we need to really get moving on the drug epidemic attached to heroin.  The media puts a spotlight on it, but the drug deaths keep happening.  And these are not people from low income areas, but rather upscale more privileged backgrounds.

Politics. Now politics always pushes buttons.  I get messages telling me to stick to gardening and cooking posts.  I had a whole posse in West Vincent spreading garbage about me and supporting cyber bullying because they did not like what I wrote.

Cyber bullying is a hot button topic for me.  It’s real.  It has happened to me.

I first addressed it in June 2014. I asked then how do you keep your joy? How do you keep your joy in the face of unpleasantness?

It is very true that you cannot control the actions of others, you can only control your own actions and behavior.

Cyber bullying and cyber stalking. It’s real, it happens every day. It happens to kids and adults alike. It is an unpleasant side of the Internet.  And while there is plenty to help kids and young adults out there, there is in fact very little to help adults.

As a writer and a blogger I have been a target of unpleasantness. It is nothing new, but that never makes it right. When you write, you are putting yourself out there. You will have fans of your writing as well as the detractors. Sometimes the people are those you know, but a lot of the time they are just strangers.

When people love something I write, or a photo, or a recipe it is such a nice feeling. That is what makes blogging so fun. It’s a very neat connection at times.

I am blessed with meeting some very cool people throughout the years I have been writing. I have also had some unpleasant experiences. The two topics that seem to cause unpleasant experiences always seem to get whittled down to two topics: politics and animal rescue.

I also use this blog to talk about historic and land preservation.  Loch Aerie, Linden Hall, and Ebenezer AME are easily my three most covered in this category. Historic preservation needs to mean something in Pennsylvania in general. And more people need to get called out and fined by demolition by neglect ordinances.  The whole thing of just letting it rot is BS.

The need for preservation in Chester County is very, very real.  And it is up to us wherever we live.  Once places like Crebilly are gone, they are gone and never coming back.

Chester County has a rich agricultural and equine heritage in addition to just the history of what has transpired here, and I feel like it is all getting whittled away one bad development at a time.  Toll Brothers is one developer in particular which I think simply needs to be slowed down.  Pick a township. Pick a county for that matter.

Toll Brothers is hardly the only developer in Chester County but they certainly seem to be the most prolific.  Like ants at a picnic.

Yes, I write a lot about development.  I can’t help it.  There is just too damn much of it

Here are some of my favorite development posts:

when articles appear that tell but half a story
why don’t we have more control over our communities? we live here.
this is progress?
pause, downingtown?
spring oak farm
the bell “tolls” for thee, chester county
a love note to the chester county planning commission
the fairy tales of development

Along with everything else, I have shared more personal posts with you.  I have even mocked Ladies’ Hat Day at Devon. I know I know I have “some nerve”  and yes I do.  The ridiculous creatures I saw photographed at a recent theme ladies lunch (whether some were ladies of course is in question) should be glad I do not create a mockumentary over photos I saw.  Suffice it to say there should be an age limit on tutus and strapless…as well as more clearly defined parameters of who should wear Lily.

And one post that sort of stands alone had to do with the controversial topic of the followers of Rudolf Steiner or Anthroposophy. Sorry not sorry just not into communes and their belief system. I was reminded of it by this tweet at me this morning:


Yes I do receive all sorts of  tweets. And some of them  get retained like some of the comments. 

Here are some of my favorite “other posts” from the past five years:

is having an opinion social crucifixion?
girl power
this and that
surviving in the land of women
the curiousness of women as we age
women to women: a puzzle for the ages
who are we now?
anthony trollope, what would you think of us today?
childhood christmas memories
unexpected memories of childhood past
small and other gardens
provenance

I still love writing about gardening and cooking probably the most.  I actually have the mish mosh makings of a cookbook based on recipes on this blog I have yet to pin myself to my desk to write and self publish…but I will.

So thank you readers for being a part of my journey the past five years!  Cheers to the next five years!

Thanks for stopping by.