when good conquers evil eminent domain you get lavender fields

Long ago is what feels to be now another lifetime, I was part of the original Save Ardmore Coalition. We were ordinary people who banded together to save friends’ and neighbors’ businesses from eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore PA.

Along our journey the wonderful people at the Institute for Justice helped us and taught us and encouraged us. Through IJ we also met some amazing and inspirational people.  (and if your community is facing eminent domain check out the Castle Coalition part of the IJ website.)

Here straight from IJ (Institute for Justice’s website success stories):

Pennsylvania
Ardmore
Through the grassroots and political processes, a citizens group called the Save Ardmore Coalition (SAC) successfully defeated Lower Merion Township’s attempt to seize and bulldoze 10 thriving businesses in Ardmore’s charming historic district. When it comes to grassroots activism, the SAC did it all — rallies, protests, publicity campaigns and coordinated efforts to unseat local officials who supported eminent domain abuse. Its members testified before state and local bodies urging the reform of eminent domain laws, attended the Castle Coalition’s national and regional conferences, and worked with the media to bring attention to their battle. In March 2006, the Township took its condemnation threats off the table — no doubt in response to the public outcry generated by the SAC.

Valley Township
It cost Nancy and Dick Saha $300,000 of their retirement savings and six hard years, but they prevailed in their bout with the City of Coatesville. The couple bought their Pennsylvania farmhouse in 1971, making lifelong dreams of owning a small horse farm a reality. With their five children, the Sahas moved to Chester County and restored their charming 250-year-old residence. Truly a family farm, two of their daughters married and built their family homes on the land, giving Nancy and Dick the chance to see their five grandchildren grow up next door.

When Coatesville threatened to take their property by eminent domain to build a golf course—plans for which didn’t even include their farm in the first place—the Sahas remained fully committed to a grassroots battle. They submitted three petitions, protested at local meetings and took their fight to court. Ultimately, the city council backed off when the Sahas pushed to elect new representatives, agreeing to purchase five acres that the Sahas had offered to give the government for free at the beginning of the dispute.

It was a crazy time. What we all went through was hard. It was a brutal battle.  We went to Washington alongside the Sahas, Susett Kelo (think Little Pink House), people from Long Branch NJ, and many many more.  It was the time of the US Supreme Court case Kelo vs. New London.

Dick and Nancy Saha were inspirational.  They created a hand off my farm movement. (You can read about it here on the Institute for Justice website in more detail.) They had a great deal of local, regional, and national news attention.  We all did. It was kind of crazy.

It cost the Sahas hundreds of thousands of dollars and pure grit and hard work and they saved their farm.

I used to love seeing Dick and Nancy Saha.  They are the nicest people and they would make the drive from the Wagontown area to even visit us in Ardmore when we were hosting events.

But time and life move on and we all got on with our lives after eminent domain.  I moved to Chester County.  And since I moved to Chester County  I have thought about the Sahas once in a while.  I thought about reaching out, but then I thought well the battle was over so maybe it would seem weird.  But I always wondered what happened to the Saha family after.

So this morning an article from Main Line Today popped up in a social media feed. About two sisters named Joanne Voelcker and wait for it….Amy Saha! Dick and Nancy Saha’s daughters and their lavender farm! (Lavender farm? Wait what?? How awesome!!)

Two Sisters Transformed Their Family’s Chester County Farm Into a 42-Acre Lavender Oasis
Amy Saha and Joanne Voelcker, the owners of Wagontown’s Mt Airy Lavender, have dedicated themselves to growing and harvesting seven different varieties of the plant.
BY LISA DUKART

In the heart of Chester County, there’s a little piece of Provençe, France, thanks to sisters Amy Saha and Joanne Voelcker. On their 42-acre Wagontown farm, some 1,200 lavender plants flourish. In the warm months, those fields are abuzz with bees and butterflies. They flit from plant to plant, drunk on the heady scent the flowers release as they sway in the breeze.

Creating and maintaining such an idyll has been no small feat. Saha and Voelcker’s Mt Airy Lavender has required years of dedication and hard work. Their parents bought the farm in 1971, moving their family from Media to the homestead just outside Coatesville. With love and care, its rundown 48 acres began to thrive.

Years later, in 1991, the city of Coatesville tried to build on the property, claiming eminent domain. After a six-year legal battle, the family won, losing just six acres in the process. As their parents aged, preserving the land they fought so hard to protect became more and more important to the sisters. They couldn’t bear to see it sold.

Over the years, Saha and Voelcker built their own homes on the farm to be near their parents. The houses sit on either side of a long, shaded driveway that wends by pastures where horses can be seen cropping the grass. One lavender field is right behind Voelcker’s home. She began planting it in 2012, a year after she and her husband returned from a five-year stay in Brussels. “I worked and lived over there,” says Voelcker, the former head of client insight and marketing technology at Vanguard. “I got a chance to visit the South of France, and I just fell in love with the lavender.”

Please take the time to read the entire article. It’s so wonderful. I am so happy for the Sahas and this new success I am am all choked up with emotion.  It is so awesome to hear about nice things happening to nice people in a world that some days is truly nuts.

I can’t wait to visit the farm on open farm days.  Via their Facebook page for Mt. Airy Lavender I found their website.

They have great products they make that you can order online and they hose all sorts of events .

Events that interest me are the upcoming open farm days and I hope my husband will want to check it out:

Visit us when the lavender is expected to be in bloom – Mt Airy Lavender Open Houses – Sat. June 22, Sun. June 23, Sat. June 29, Sun. June 30
Come visit Mt Airy Lavender these weekends when we expect the lavender to be in bloom. Shop our products, bring your cameras and a picnic lunch. Fresh cut lavender and a variety of lavender products will be available for purchase. We aren’t normally open to the public, so this is a great opportunity to enjoy the farm. Please note – we lost quite a bit of lavender due to all the rain and lack of sun. We are in the process of replanting. The farm is still quite beautiful so we hope to see you at our Open Houses.

We will be open 11 am to 4pm on:

Saturday, June 22 & Sunday, June 23

Saturday, June 29 & Sunday, June 30

Note: Bees love lavender, please be aware that bees will be attending the Open House as well. If you are allergic to them, please take special precautions!

Click here for directions to their slice of heaven.

What else makes me happy? Not just that this is still a farm and was saved, but how farmers in Chester County get creative to exist in today’s world.  See? We don’t need fields of plastic mushroom houses, we can have things like fields of lavender instead!

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Another view of the Saha Farm today courtesy of Mt. Airy Lavender 

r.i.p. jack bogle

(PRNewsfoto/Vanguard/Shannon Stapleton Reuters) Have seen this photo used in multiple places on the Internet, especially today.

I just learned a little while ago of the death of Vanguard founder John “Jack” Bogle.

I guess you could call me and the rest of the folks who knew him first and other than the founder of Vanguard and founder of index funds as original “Bogleheads“. Bogleheads are in fact really disciples of his investment philosophies and strategies.  They began around 1998 if I recall correctly.  (They have chapters all over and meet in the Philadelphia area annually for a conference.)

Jack Bogle, Mr. Bogle as I always called him was my neighbor my growing up years living  in Haverford.  He was a contemporary of my parents and a Shipley dad.  Mr. Bogle’s wife, Eve, was also a Shipley alumnus, so I would see them mostly at alumni events once we all moved away from the Haverford neighborhood I grew up in.

Mr. Bogle and his wife are two of the kindest people you could ever hope to meet.  When I was growing up they had an English Springer Spaniel and so did we. (Maybe I should be saying “were” instead of “are” but I am still just sort of stunned that Mr. Bogle is gone.)

It’s funny, when you are a kid, you don’t realize someone is a Titan of Commerce and Industry and a pretty big deal.  He was just our super nice neighbor and I think that was the way he liked it.

You can read article after article about Mr. Bogle saying how unpretentious and wonderful he was and think “how is that possible, that someone who had achieved so much was such a regular and caring person?” It is all true.  He was just exactly that way.  Humble, philanthropic, interested in people, loved to walk in our neighborhood. Genuine.

Over the past I would say 25 years literally where I saw Mr. Bogle most was accompanying Mrs. Bogle to events at Shipley.  He was always current even on the most local of politics.  Way back when I was part of the Save Ardmore Coalition and we were fighting Lower Merion Township over eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore, he and Mrs. Bogle did not treat me like I had leprosy when I saw them at a Shipley event at that time, and yes some more stiff upper lip Main Liners and Shipley personnel most assuredly did do that back then.

My first real job was as a registered marketing representative for The Delaware Group of Mutual Funds in Philadelphia when it was still independently owned.  We are talking the 1980’s. I remember back then running into him and Mrs. Bogle somewhere and him asking me why I didn’t apply for a job at Vanguard.  He was very amused when I told him salary and location.

At that time my position which was entry-level was around $13,000 a year at Delaware Group and $11,000 a year for a similar position at Vanguard.  Actually, I would have loved back then to have been at Vanguard, but the money differential and being young and working in a city was just more attractive than suburbia and a suburban business campus.  The irony? The attractiveness of being a city slicker going to happy hour at The Irish Pub eventually wore off.

I apologize, I don’t think I am writing this post very well.  I am just sad.  Mr. Bogle was just so nice. He had eyes that twinkled when he smiled or laughed. He was just of those people I enjoyed speaking to if even for a moment. Always.

When the news flit across my computer screen that he died, I just kind of sat there and said oh wow, oh wow.  It is kind of like another door on growing up closing.  I had a flashback memory of him walking in our neighborhood with his wife Eve (oh, how they adored one and other) – it’s amazing what lives in our subconscious, isn’t it?  I also thought of his children – just as nice as the parents.

Were these people I was super close to? No but they were neighbors and part of the world in which I lived growing up. And wasn’t I lucky, because you truly don’t often meet people as genuine.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a marvelous article about Mr. Bogle today.  This was one of the things that just stood out to me this afternoon:

A man who believed in the value of introspection and who was always questioning his own motives and behavior, Mr. Bogle sought to define what it means to lead a good life. It was not about wealth, power, fame and other conventional notions of success, he concluded.

“It’s about being a good husband, a good father, a good colleague, a good member of the community. Everything else pales by comparison. The accumulation of material goods is a waste — you can’t take them with you, anyway — and the waste is typified by our financial system. The essential message is, stop focusing on self and start thinking about service to others.”

There are so many things popping up everywhere on major media outlets now, and the tributes and accolades will continue to flow. Like I said earlier, growing up for years I had no idea what he did and then how important he was.  He was just Mr. Bogle from down the road.

Mr. Bogle had 8 basic rules for investing (and yes I cheated and pulled them off of his Wikipedia page) and here they are:

  1. Select low-cost funds
  2. Consider carefully the added costs of advice
  3. Do not overrate past fund performance
  4. Use past performance to determine consistency and risk
  5. Beware of stars (as in, star mutual fund managers)
  6. Beware of asset size
  7. Don’t own too many funds
  8. Buy your fund portfolio – and hold it

When people like Mr. Bogle pass away it is also sad because he was a true gentleman too.  When you think Captains or Titans of Industry today you don’t see that very often.  After all just look at who inhabits 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at present.  Now there is a guy who could have learned from Jack Bogle.  But I digress. (I do that.)

Before I share the obituary articles on Mr. Bogle I will also say there are two more local articles I like, one from 2017 in Philadelphia Magazine and an article from Main Line Today Magazine in 2012.

Mr. Bogle, may your memory always be a blessing.  Requiescat in pace, sir.

Here is what I have read thus far:

Vanguard Announces The Passing Of Founder John C. Bogle (PR Newswire)

Vanguard Founder Jack Bogle Dead At 89 (Zero Hedge)

Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard Group and creator of the index fund, dies at age 89 (CNBC)

Financial pioneer: John Bogle, who founded Vanguard and revolutionized retirement savings, dies at 89.
by Art Carey and Erin Arvedlund,Philadelphia Inquirer

Vanguard founder Jack Bogle dies at 89; pioneered the index fund Thomas Heath Wasington Post

Jack Bogle, Legendary Index Fund Inventor, Dies at 89 Leslie P Norton, Barron’s

John C. Bogle, Founder of Vanguard Group, Dies at 89
Bogle’s campaign to cut fees put him squarely into a U.S. tradition of iconoclastic discounters  By Jason Zweig and Sarah Krouse Wall Street Journal

John Bogle, Founder of Vanguard and Creator of Index Fund, Dies at 89
Wall Street legend John Bogle championed individual investors, creating tools to help them access American growth. Tom Bemis The Street

John C. Bogle, Founder of Financial Giant Vanguard, Is Dead at 89 by Edward Wyatt  New York Times

things that are hard

Life throws you curveballs. I don’t talk about personal things, truly personal things too often because people who are reading what I am writing don’t seem to get that I am a private person. They incorrectly perceive me as a public person, and I’m not. Just because I am a writer and I write a blog does not make me some bizarre sort of celebrity or public persona.

In December, I shared a media report from main stream media on my blog’s Facebook page. A news story link from a television station. No commentary.

Because it is social media, the comments started. I drew the line when someone started posting comments that inferred I was a racist because I posted a link to the news story that several news media outlets reported on. I might be many things, but a racist I am not and I both found offense and took offense to that.

Added to that mix was a woman whom I do not know personally, but know of. We don’t exactly travel in the same social circles. Literally, she is someone local-ish I see around social media. She’s one of those people I would not choose as a friend in real life because she is a perennial pot stirrer.

She chose to be a pot stirrer in this situation and tried to add fuel to the fire. I did ask her if she had nothing better to do and then I decided I wasn’t going to engage further with these people. What people don’t understand about social media is that is completely acceptable – I was choosing NOT to engage further pretty much because I found it all distasteful .

When I decided I had had enough I removed the pot stirrer (blocked them too) and I think one other person. And then I just decided to delete the post I had initially posted. I chose to delete the post because although all I did was share a news link, it was a controversial enough topic that I was going to spend my life babysitting the post and I didn’t care to do that. I didn’t announce that I was removing people or removing the post I just did it and moved on. There is enough ugly going on in this world as it is.

A lot of people who are admins and/or social media page owners/creators will make a big deal about every person they remove. They will even create a post to that effect. I know because after a fashion in the past, I have done that.

However, what I have learned is that just opens the door to other not positive behaviors, so I have tried to make a conscious decision to behave differently. You can’t control the actions of others you can only do your best to control your own actions.

I don’t pretend to be a perfect person. I don’t pretend I’ve led a 100% perfect life. I am human I make mistakes. We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn from them that sets us apart from one and other.

But it’s like people truly don’t understand that just like there are parameters and boundaries in the real world, there are parameters and boundaries of good taste, bad taste, and what’s acceptable and what’s just wrong also on social media. And I have seen this same situation repeat over and over and over.

So I don’t give this whole deleting a post a second thought and like everyone else, my family and I got into the Christmas season and I was busy. (There were 16 of us this year for Christmas dinner alone, and that’s a lot to prepare for!)

We had family in from out of town, friends in from out of town, and so on and so forth. So although I was on social media it wasn’t like I was exactly checking everything. Or cared to. I love Christmas and I love to experience it in the moment which means you have to be present with people.

Sometime right before Christmas the pot stirrer I removed posted in a Facebook group I belong to. The post was about me. Who was the Chester County Ramblings Blogger and how I was an awful person. People piled on right behind her with comments. Because I had blocked her, even though we were in the same group I was spared knowing about all of this at first.

But as in all things social media, I learned of what was going on because on the same thread someone else I know became a target. People started sending me screenshots.

Sadly, this should have been dealt with but the person who administers the page was really sick. However, since the page is populated by adults some folks basically started to say what was happening wasn’t right.

Then along came what could only be described as a troll. This person (who seemed to be a woman and who had a profile that said they had been on Facebook since 2010 and currently reside in Phoenixville) started posting nasty and malicious things about me and also about a second woman who had the misfortune of also being discussed. At this point there was more than comments on the original post digging at me, there were a few posts. It was kind of crazy.

I should not have been surprised as it was yet another example of the kind of the pack mentality behavior and mob mentality behavior which seems to take people over on social media at times.

People know what is going on is wrong, yet none of them will be a grown-up and say “stop”. A lot of reasons why is when you say “stop” you then become a target. The other woman who was targeted along with me had been the subject of a social media beat down prior to this incident. And I had actually been someone at that time who said I thought it was wrong and it needed to stop.

So is that how we became connected in this craziness? I honestly don’t know. I think that a lot of times people just consider me an easy target because I am a blogger. It doesn’t matter if I cover a lot of the same territory that traditional media covers, where they wouldn’t ever go after an actual reporter they seem to think they can go after me.

And where going after me is bad enough, the minute you come near my family, I am done. And that’s what was done to myself and this other woman. I will also note and she will back me up we don’t know each other that well. We were starting to get to know each other prior to where she lives now, and it’s just one of those things where we lost touch for a while and then reconnected. Life happens, yes?

So is this woman my bestie? No but I think she’s a good person and I like her. She didn’t deserve this and neither did I.

Now comes the personal stuff for me that I am almost loathe to share because it’s about something I love very much. One of my pets.

While a lot of this stuff was happening, my young dog ruptured a disc in their back. There was no overt reason or fall, everything changed literally in a matter of minutes.

In a matter of minutes the dog was dragging a rear leg. We went immediately to the vet and within two hours they were completely paralyzed in the rear.

So while some freak is posting information about the children and husband of this woman I know, essentially doing the same with regard to me, I was experiencing the most horrible life and death situation. Was I going to lose my dog? Were they going to be able to have surgery?

You know, the stuff in life that matters. Not bullshit (yes, bullshit) adult on adult bullying, doxxing, and cyber stalking.

I am tired of living the modern version of the Salem freaking witch trials. Just because I write and have strong opinions it doesn’t mean I am the evil other. Just because I write and have strong opinions it doesn’t make me public enemy number one. Just because you don’t happen to agree with the thought process and position of anyone it does not give you the right to attack like that.

And I will also say it outright that I do not respect the social media pot stirrers in this world. These are people that are not adding anything valuable to a conversation or striving to better their community, they are just stirring the pot.

I mean come on? Are we in middle school still? It sort of feels that way.

Back to things that matter.

My dog survived a very serious and invasive surgery at Hope Veterinary Hospital, complete with a back full of vicious looking metal staples. But St. Francis was looking out and the dog is alive. It will be a long road to recovery and at this point we hope the dog will walk again, but we don’t know. We will love them either way.

To the keyboard cowboys out there, take a moment. Hit the pause button. Walk away. Doxxing, cyber bullying, cyber stalking, cyber harassing and so on are actually cybercrime. People can and do seek out law enforcement when these things happen.

People, live your best life. Not everyone you meet in this world is going to like you, nor are you going to like everyone you meet. Not everyone you meet in this world is going to share your opinions and perspectives, and that’s OK. What’s NOT OK is punishing and persecuting people because you disagree with them or because you don’t understand them or know them and perhaps they don’t want to get to know you. It happens.

And if you are someone’s friend, be their friend.  Don’t be opportunistic.  Friends are people you care about and are loyal to.  You do not just pop into their life when you need or want something. I have seen too much of that lately, too.  It’s damn disappointing.

Don’t just talk about manners and family values, actually have them. Life is real. Life is not a Real Housewives show on Bravo that we watch for distraction.

Thanks for stopping by.

on the eve of 2019

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As 2018 draws to a close, what another long, strange trip it’s been.  As is the case with every year, there were beginnings and endings.

This was a year where once again I found mankind in general a wee bit disappointing.  Especially with the political vitriol. From coast to coast, print media to Internet to social media to television, it began always with the swirling inanity / insanity coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

One New Year’s Resolution? Just because he tweets, it doesn’t mean I have to read or listen. And for those of you who don’t like my opinion over the dictatorship in place, well cheerfully and with respect, you can stuff it.  I didn’t vote for him, I have never liked him, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing meets charlatan and circus big top ringmaster.

I was a Republican for most of my life, perhaps when sanity returns I will be once again. Truthfully I think both political parties are screwy right now.  I think Republicans and Democrats need to get back to the business of doing what is best for the entire plurality, not just selective factions.  Our government was founded by the people for and of the people and it feels like a dictatorship meets turf wars.  The anger that fuels this country is sick and twisted, and building a wall ain’t gonna change a thing.

In 2019, you don’t have to like my opinion or anyone else’s but we should be going back to the Founding Father’s and our rights to our own opinions. And respect for that lovely thing called the First Amendment. As a SLAPP suit survivor I know of what I speak, don’t I?

Our rights to expression and freedom of speech and the press are neither selective nor subjective. They are freaking inalienable and if you don’t like what someone says, it’s a big world with lots of opinions. And the right to have opinions. So if you don’t like something, move along, nothing to see here. (And that includes this blog.)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is why I support groups in this country like the Institute for Justice.

And can we talk eminent domain? Eminent domain is a vile thing. 2018 saw the rally to Save Stoneleigh (Natural Lands/Villanova/Former Haas Estate/Amazing) from eminent domain (and I will note I had the first big regional editorial on the topic May 18, 2018 in the Philadelphia Inquirer.)

Well, we saved Stoneleigh and on Christmas Eve Eve we learned that Scrooge, I mean the Lower Merion School District, has started yet another eminent domain attempt. Is this the third time is the charm for Copeland and Lower Merion School Board and Lower Merion School District? 2017 was the attempt to go after Ashbridge Park, then Stoneleigh, now two other nearby properties that Villanova University was poised to purchase?

newyears0What remains to be seen is if Villanova will take this lying down.  I hope they don’t. I hope Villanova University files suit against Lower Merion School District.  Some may find my opinion surprising, but I think Villanova is a preferable neighbor when compared to Lower Merion School District and they aren’t wasting taxpayer money like the school district does every time they go on their vision quests of arrogance and greed.

Also 2018 saw all sorts of craziness when it comes to the Mariner II pipeline.  Sinkholes, ruined wells, lessened property values, and raping and pillaging of Chester County.  And a Governor of Pennsylvania who doesn’t give a crap but was the lesser of two evils in the twisted mid-term elections of 2018.

Finally, right before Christmas the residents of Chester County received a gift from District Attorney Tom Hogan when he filed criminal charges against Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners/Sunoco Logistics. What will happen now that DA Hogan has done this is of course anyone’s guess, but for 2019 I hope justice prevails.  What has happened since this news broke is residents of Berks County pressuring THEIR District Attorney to follow Tom Hogan’s lead.  Hopefully Berks, Bucks, and Delaware Counties ALL follow Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan’s lead, right?

thisAdelphia Gateway are you listening? If one pipeline is on our District Attorney’s radar, doesn’t it make sense he will keep tabs on all of them?

And speaking of pipelines, there is this thing (see screen shots on left) which floated by my Twitter feed.  So Mariner II/Sunoco Logistics/Energy Transfer Partners are you ok with this? A homeowner essentially being threatened?

How is this O.K.? You bar people from parts of their own properties, and how is this O.K.???

How is any of this O.K.?  We as residents are not benefitting here. What is raped from the land is shipped away from here to places like Scotland to make plastics, so what do we gain? And doesn’t that in fact make the eminent domain takings of land for pipelines more like eminent domain for private gain? And don’t forget about the bullsh*t fake public utility status and how is it politicians all looked the other way for that again?

not ok2018 with the march of the Frankenpipe has done what exactly to benefit us? The workers aren’t even local guys – you can see it when you drive by job sites.  And with all the work stoppages due to issues and fines, how is this pipeline safe? How are any of the pipelines safe?

As we move forward into 2019, we also need to look at Chester County municipalities and development fever.  East Goshen, East Whiteland, West Whiteland, West Goshen, Tredyffrin, Easttown, and finally Caln Township come to mind immediately.  So hey now? Elected officials? Who is it exactly you are representing again? From ginormous digital billboards to overly dense developments residents do not want (and destruction of open space and historic structures), who are all of you collectively working for? Us? Doesn’t feel that way.

newyearsdwarvesAnd elected officials in Harrisburg? Do we need an act of God before you update the Municipalities Planning Code to offer Pennsylvania residents some protections, land and historic preservation?

Personally, it has been an interesting year.  Lots of wonderful gardening and spending time with friends and family.  It has been a year of reconnecting with friends I had not seen in a long time, and also closing the door on some other relationships.  Cleaning house and recognizing who your friends are is not a bad thing.  Introspection is good, and we do not need to be “friends” with everyone on social media.

I have rediscovered how local politics can be a blood sport out here, but can we say one of the roots of the cause can be when folks deal out good old-fashioned shady assed behavior?

I’m no fool, and I have my battle scars from just a few years living here. I’m outspoken and I’m a blogger. I don’t think you’re supposed to be either in the minds of some people. You are simply supposed to be some form of a Stepford wife. Or a bobble head.

d4a9539112f1d85988f92f91aac1ed48--christmas-images-christmas-holidaysI have done my time over the years of being the subject of gossip for being outspoken and a blogger and this whole theory of knives and knitting needles. And I have been the target of behavior that is so incredibly malicious and hurtful directed at me mostly because I was different from the way they were, or even because I just did not like them.

I think adult social bullying is the worst, and I truly think that a lot of people don’t even realize they are doing it.  Suffice it to say, human beings can be so incredibly cruel to one and other.

I think 2018 will go down in the history books as a year where everyone, everywhere was totally mean to each other. As I have said before, I do believe a lot of this has to do with the stage that has been set in Washington DC. People are so angry from coast to coast, and here in our little corner of the world you see it as well.

fc6e8139e3044880e3a378d28541fe042018 will end with two people still missing whom we have come to know through the people who care about them.   Geoff Partridge of Villanova and Anna Maciejewska Gould of Malvern. Today is #MissingMonday and I hope these people are located.

2018 saw a year where our family lost a beloved pet.  As a matter of fact many dear to me lost pets this year.  The unconditional love and joy they bring us are like nothing else in this world. Remember the pets who have gone over the Rainbow Bridge with a prayer to St. Francis and support local animal rescues.

Although 2018 has been a tumultuous year from coast to coast and locally, it is not without bright spots.  People are good even in the midst of bad.  There are those who offer hope and bright spots when others have disappointed you.  God may close doors, but always look for that window he left open.

573ec8d3396cb6b83fdbbd77c649bad0--ww-posters-ww-propaganda-postersI will tell you honestly I am not a big New Year’s Eve party person and much like St. Patrick’s Day, I would rather be at home.

When I was younger people would look at me funny when I said this. I suffered through many a New Year’s Eve at loud parties that did not suit me.

One of my favorite New Year’s Eves was in the late 1980s.  I was taken to a funny as hell off-Broadway show called Lesbian Vampires of Sodom. Bizarre title and it was (in my opinion) one of the great NYC theater experiences.  I laughed from beginning to end. Pure camp, very funny.

The show was at a small and legendary playhouse in the East Village – the Provincetown Playhouse on McDougal Street. Sadly, after being ruled eligible for preservation status, NYU essentially demolished one the most historic theatres in New York City a while back. The history didn’t matter there, either.

This New Year’s Eve long ago was a New Year’s Eve where some of my girlfriends were seriously pissed at me for leaving the fold and NOT going to a New Year’s Eve party with them.  It was an eventful evening for a few of them that New Year’s Eve. I remember one of my friends met her future husband at the party I blew off for off-Broadway and the East Village of NYC.

But seriously? Usually I am fast asleep waaaayyyy before the ball drops in New York City’s Time’s Square. And at least in my 50s it’s quite alright to stay at home. Even from the Mummers Parade.

I have rambled far long than I intended to today.  My humble apologies, but sometimes the words come pouring out.  I will close by wishing all of you have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve.  Cheers to 2019, and farewell to 2018.

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light a candle for the missing

As 2018 draws to a close, light a candle for the missing. I have lit two bay candles.

One candle is lit for Geoff Partridge of Villanova.

One candle is lit for Anna Maciejewska Gould of Malvern.

They have people who love them and the families deserve the answers they seek. My wish as I lit the candles are for the missing to find their way home.

I know neither of these missing people personally, but this could happen to any family.

Here’s hoping the new year brings answers and the missing do indeed find their way home.

Thanks for stopping by.

the company you keep: gossip and politics

I think I sometimes truly grow weary of the politics of politics and all it entails including gossip….locally. Sometimes I find people that are perfectly nice becoming collateral damage because they are judged quite literally by the company they keep, right or wrong.

Ahh yes, the old adage you are judged by the company you keep. I remember my own mother telling me that when I was a teenager, and I remember scoffing at the idea. Then I remember being in my mid 20s and figuring out exactly what she was talking about and it was one of those a-ha moments that sometimes your mother is right. A friend of mine and I were talking about it recently and they said their mother said to them “show me your friends, I’ll show you your future.”

(Please don’t tell my mother I said she was right about something LOL, I will never hear the end of it.)

Anyway, this friend came to me to talk about a tsunami of really unpleasant social media. She’s not someone I know real well but I have known for a few years. I met her when she lived elsewhere and I was first out here. She’s been living for the past few years in a place in Chester County where I have a lot of friends. Only I don’t know if her experience has been so friendly all of the time while living there.

This person is fast becoming what I can only describe as collateral damage in a power struggle that she should just be left out of. But it’s kind of hard when you live in a small community. My friend’s opinions are strong, which I respect because I have some pretty strong opinions at times.

My friend is a very loyal person, and she has formed friendships in this community that I would not personally choose for myself, but it’s her decision. And I dance around the subject of these people with her because I don’t think it’s fair for my perspective to influence or taint hers. But if I was going to be dead on honest I would have to say that I hope these people remain good and decent people towards her. I have to admit I don’t know if they are capable of it, but that’s just my opinion, and I hope I am wrong.

This power struggle which exists for very good reasons can be contentious enough at times that it is literally like a battle of the Hatfields and the McCoys. And sadly, the people this person has aligned herself with have indeed hurt other people I care about. They have also come for me on occasion because I have my own opinions on things. But because I don’t live in the middle of all of them, I can be more objective at times and say I just don’t like them.

But this person whom I know, is again, literally being judged by the company she keeps. And I understand why, but it’s Christmas and I just wish everybody would let up a bit.

Chester County is an amazing place to live. Her residents have amazing heart. However, when it comes to politics and local shenanigans, it gets ugly. I have seen it in municipality after municipality. I used to think nothing could get more upsetting than Main Line or Delaware county gossip and politics… Until I moved to Chester County. Local politics can be a bloodsport out here, but can we say one of the roots of the cause can be when folks deal out good old-fashioned shady assed behavior?

I’m no fool, and I have my battle scars from just a few years living here. I’m outspoken and I’m a blogger. I don’t think you’re supposed to be either in the minds of some people. You are simply supposed to be some form of a Stepford wife. Or a bobble head.

I have done my time over the years of being the subject of gossip for being outspoken and a blogger and this whole theory of knives and knitting needles. And I have been the target of behavior that is so incredibly malicious and hurtful directed at me mostly because I was different than they were, or even because I just did not like them.

I think adult social bullying is the worst, and I truly think that a lot of people don’t even realize they are doing it. Another friend of mine and I were discussing this recently. She lives down on the Main Line and she noted that a child who was sadly very bullying towards classmates in school had parents who exhibited the exact same behavioral patterns towards adults.

Suffice it to say, human beings can be so incredibly cruel to one and other.

I think 2018 will go down in the history books as a year where everyone was totally mean to each other. I think a lot of this has to do with the stage that has been set in Washington DC , truthfully. People are so angry from coast to coast, and here in our little corner of the world you see it as well.

It’s Christmas. And my wish for Christmas as far as this nonsense goes, is a hope it just at takes a cease-fire at a minimum. Just slow your roll and stop being so mean to one and other. And you know what? I’m taking myself to task here as well. I haven’t been as nice this year as I should have been.

Just because someone doesn’t share in your exact ideology and belief system it doesn’t make them a bad person. And yes, even if they are friends with people you can’t stand it doesn’t make them a bad person.

In this life, we are all judged by the company we keep. And we also need to pause and remember we can’t control the actions of others we can only control the actions of ourselves.

Peace on earth, good will towards men, remember?

Thanks for stopping by.

we have to be the change we want

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(WHY I won’t be voting Republican in the PA6 Congressional race this fall.)

Until the last Presidential Election, I was a life-long Republican.  I had always been an inveterate ticket splitter, but I remained a Republican…until this last presidential race.

But I couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t pretend this was the political party that once made me believe.  When I was a Media Relations Volunteer at the RNC2000, I never, ever would have thought they would boil down to this hot party mess they have devolved to.

But they have.

I know I am not a true Democrat, anymore than I am a current-style Republican.  So I went Independent. Yes, I lost my primary voting rights because it’s Pennsylvania, but I felt I had taken something back for myself by freeing myself from political rhetoric I could not get behind.

I have never voted Democrat in the PA 6th Congressional District. And I have been in this district seemingly forever.  First in Lower Merion Township, and now even after a couple rounds of redistricting, here in Chester County.  I voted gladly for Jim Gerlach every time he ran, and I also voted for Ryan Costello.

I did not really know who I would vote for until September 1st.  There seemed to be mass confusion for a while, namely with regard to Costello bailing out and the redistricting and the redistricting court battles. Like many, I wasn’t actually sure for a while who would be running.

If we had somehow magically gotten redistricted to the PA 7th Congressional District which now has kind of sort of become the new PA 5th Congressional District, I would have chosen Pearl Kim.  (I do not even know who is running in the now PA 7th at this point.)

To an extent, I am so turned off by American politics and the nouveau Republican party, I kind of just literally closed my ears for months and months.  No easy feat for a political junkie.

I had heard about Greg McCauley and would have actually considered him because of his Philadelphia area familial and legal profession lineage. Until that September 1st tweet. I realize it was probably some campaign minion, but it doesn’t matter.  As a candidate he let it go forward, right?

Chester County needs Republicans they can count on, not #TrumpLite . This is why Chester County continues to veer away from it’s Republican roots and history and will soon be another county in PA with a Democratic majority.

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I found this position VERY interesting. 

Chrissy Houlahan has served her country proudly in the US Armed Forces and deserves what the Brits call worthy opposition. A Republican man demeaning his female opposition is not someone voters today will find worthy.  

This kind of behavior in PA 6 is nothing new, but it IS old and used.

Today as a candidate (in my humble opinion), you  need to run a campaign based on what YOU would bring to the table not tired sexist rhetoric that the “party” wants. We don’t want in PA.  Jim Gerlach was always his own man. McCauley needed to be THAT guy for his own sake as well as voters.

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My Democratic door knocker said to tell all of you he was tall and dashingly handsome. He made me laugh and was super pleasant to deal with.

Today, a little while ago, a very nice man came knocking on my door.  Wanting to speak to my husband.  Poor man he got me.

He was a door knocker for the Democrats.  ( I will admit I handed him back his Tom Wolf palm card and told him why : PIPELINES AND BROKEN PROMISES FROM THE LAST CAMPAIGN. But I digress….)

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Chrissy and her campaign like to tell you what she believes in. She doesn’t waste the voters’ time just slamming and denigrating her opponent, does she?

These days Republicans seem to take a lot of us voters in Chester County for granted.  I have not seen anyone from the Republicans door knock in a couple of years, and even then it was merely committee people, not actual candidates.

So this afternoon this Democratic door knocker told me a little bit more about Chrissy Houlahan, and I in turn told him about what made me look at her again the other day. And decide.

Yes, all it took was one sexist, rude, misogynistic tweet.

He also told me about Kristine Howard who is running against Duane Milne in the PA 167th legislative district. Kristine Howard (according to her Facebook political page biography ):

“is known in suburban Philadelphia as a political activist who spent most of the last decade working for progressive Democratic candidates and serving diligently as a member of the Chester County Democratic Committee from Malvern while balancing the responsibilities of work and single-mother parenting…. After law school she planned to pursue a career in public interest law but her career plans took a detour after getting married and having two babies while in law school. After law school, she spent five years in New Mexico, where she ran a small legal and social services organization while her family grew. When she came back to Pennsylvania, she devoted the next many years focused on raising her three boys and four girls. It was not easy to combine a “real” career with raising a large family but she always found something to do to stay engaged in her civic interests and social activism. She worked for Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and was a child advocate for children in foster care in Philadelphia. Her keen interest in children and child welfare opened the door to her current position, working for the County investigating child abuse cases. As a caseworker, she has come to see a darker side of the wealthy and beautiful Chester County communities where she has raised her family. Her experiences as a social worker, mother and political activist have come together in her decision…”

Honestly, I never heard of her. But that is a lot of the problem about Chester County politics. You do not hear about some candidates at all. Especially, I am learning, if you are an Independent.

But this post is not about THAT race.  This post is about the 6th Congressional District Race.

And something has got to give.

So I am thinking this indeed might be the election that flips the 6th.  John Micek from PennLive.com has been saying so for months.

It’s a relatively simple concept that has more to do with us as Pennsylvanians than anything else.  We need someone with a spine. A backbone. A strong moral compass.  This race, it seems more and more that Chrissie Houlahan is the woman for the job.

Check out this September 2nd piece in the New York Times.

Please note these are only my opinions and I was not asked to write this nor compensated in any way to write this.  I am writing this post because it’s time to say something.  We have to be the change we want. 

I want change. Not more tired rhetoric. It’s time for more women in Congress and I would like to start with my very own district. If that makes me a potential “enemy of the state” by some of my Republican friends, I am sorry you feel that way. I think Chrissy is the best choice for me at this time in my life. If Chrissy Houlahan came knocking on my door personally, I would be very please to chat with her. As a woman, I like what I hear.  Now more than ever, that matters to me.