old friends

29732668866_c470dbcae2_oLife is sometimes this windy path that takes you away from people, and then leads you back to them.

From the time we are little children, people are in and out of our lives for any multitude of reasons. Life takes us in different directions, quite literally.  People move, start families in other places, and get busy with the every day of their lives.

All of a sudden, years have past, and you still think of those people, but then you are busy too, so you don’t reconnect even if you think of these people.

And then, just like that, something happens, and you are back in each other’s lives and that is such a neat thing when it happens.

It happened to me today.  A four hour conversation with one of my oldest friends from high school.  Yes, those Shipley connections and friends I have written about before. That school gave me a wonderful foundation and the best relationships in my life, truly. This woman and I were thick as proverbial thieves for years, and then life just took us in diffferent directions, on different paths.

I will tell you how it came to be, this phone call today….

Recently the younger brother of a friend died of leukemia.  I have now lost several people I knew, admired, and cared about to virulent forms of leukemia.  This man was the brother of my friend I spoke with today.  He fought this disease so valiantly and was so positive.

He passed away and the first thing I thought of was my friend, one of his siblings.  So I looked up her address and sent her a note. We had not spoken in a few years, but how could I not? She was the one who introduced me to all her siblings, and well I have these memories of her brother as a little kid because of her.  He was this funny, very bright burning ball of energy with a very funny sense of humor.  And a very messy bedroom. Truthfully, all of her siblings were truly nice and interesting, even as kids.

When he got older he went to boarding school and then off to college, so I did not really know him for many years, and was just getting to know him as an adult with his own family when he got sick. In the intervening years, his one sister who was my friend and I grew apart. And it was for no other reason than time and distance.  She was in another state far enough away starting a family that we just lost touch, and became disconnected.

Yesterday in the mail, was a note for me.  Handwriting I had not seen in so many, many years. It was from my friend.  I opened it, read it, and wept, It was so good to hear from her and she is so sad about her brother.

So today she called.  And it was like high school again. It was such a marathon phone call that in the back of my mind I was waiting for one of our parents to pick up another phone in the respective houses and yell at us to get off the phone and do our homework.

Speaking with her, the years melted away like no time had past even if so many years actually had.  But that in and of itself is the value of real friendship – it is O.K. the time has passed, and now it is time to catch up.

This is my friend who introduced me to Chester County more than any other person had when I was a young adult.  She went to West Chester University and for a few years she lived in Malvern Borough too.   So speaking with her today after all this time, made me so happy, because when I moved out here I started to think about her a lot.  Every time I drive by Raintree in Malvern Borough I remember when she and another friend shared a condo there.  Or when I drive way down King until it almost meets Lancaster Ave and remember the places she was a hostess and waitress while in school.

Back in the day we would go to the restaurant festival in West Chester, the “Gobble Off” that used to be at what was the Bar and Restaurant the night before Thanksgiving with other friends, hanging out at WCU’s the Rat before she graduated, hanging out with people at the Marshalton Triathalon, dancing at Lionshare and Main Lion and more.

We were also roommates at the beach in the summer for a while.  We had a lot of fun together.

And then she moved and the years passed and we lived kind of separate lives, connecting here or there with a random phone call or letter.

When you meet people who are so disappointing, you remember the friends like this. I am a fortunate women to have so many of my old friends still in my life.  Thanks to her brothers we are reconnected.  That makes me happy. I wish her one brother was still with us to know, but somehow I  would like to think he does.

Life is short. Don’t waste it.

Thanks for stopping by.

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truth will out? a curious case of sunshine continues to brew and other tales

tape-face-west-goshenWhen I wrote about West Goshen last week, I did not realize I had ignited some sort of political powder keg and why is that is local governments are supposed to be so open and find it impossible? These people are elected to represent all residents equally, correct?

Anyway, apparently there was a rather heated West Goshen Board of Supervisors meeting last night?  I hear among other things, the recording of meetings was discussed? So as of now West Goshen records/films zero meetings and their website catalog of meeting minutes and agendas are somewhat, shall we say, deplorable? So I do not know the actual agenda. But, apparently the supervisors, or maybe it was solicitor or maybe both had their knickers in a twist about this topic and so did certain residents that in other townships are often referred to somewhat indelicately, albeit accurately, as cheerleaders?

The whole thing of recording meetings by the public has always been a hot button topic, not just in West Goshen but all over.  The reason a lot of residents will choose to record meetings often has to do with the basic fact that not all municipalities record or film (videotape) meetings, and many are not exactly current  on posting meeting minutes or even agendas. And some townships the meeting minutes are shall we say, sanitized?  So people record them. (and for the record, I have tried to pull up agendas for the West Goshen Supervisors for both August and September of this year, and I got Planning Commission Agendas, which is incorrect as per their posted meeting date.)

Municipalities will say to the public they are worried about privacy in the recording of public meetings held in public spaces.  We’re not talking about Executive Sessions to which the public is not included, we are talking about regular meetings. What is that whole no expectation to privacy in a public space?  And not a public bathroom where there IS an expectation of privacy, but a public board room, where there is NOT, correct?

Ok so yes municipalities will play Captains of Semantics to split hairs in their favor. (Not a dig, human nature, totally understandable.)

So in July I found courtesy of a Google cache that West Goshen was contemplating adopting an ordinance similar to East Goshen’s having to do with members of the public recording of meetings.  The ALSO discussed the possibility of RECORDING meetings so the public could see them in their entirety later, and I would assume that also means they are possibly speaking with Comcast and Verizon regarding a municipal channel that every municipality is entitled to if they so choose?

See here:

west-goshen-july

Ok so got that?  They are discussing their OWN recording of meetings so how is THAT not an issue? It does not compute. Anyway, her is hoping they join modern times because the more open a local government is, the happier the residents and taxpayers, right? And nothing makes residents happier then to NOT HAVE TO go to a meeting to find out what is going on where they live and pay taxes, right? Isn’t it nice to be able to sit in the comfort of your own home and watch a meeting and only have to attend a meeting if you wish to speak at public privilege/public participation?

West Goshen is beginning to sound like Haveford Township in the bad old days  (or West Vincent before last election) and I hope for the residents’ sake that isn’t the case, don’t you?  I don’t really know.  What piqued my curiosity was the case just filed by the resident Tom Casey against the township.  It is about open records, or “sunshine”.

Yikes.

Here is all I can get right now.  These are all filed with the court, and to the best of my knowledge are OPEN and not sealed, unless someone has other pertinent information?  In an effort to be a good citizen, I redacted e-mail addresses and whatnot to the best of my ability with the exception of the West Goshen township e-mail addresses because those are already public.

I am a big believer in sunshine and open meetings and freedom of information where local governments are concerned. I participated in a Sunshine protest in Lower Merion Township in 2010 and photographed it.  I have friends who have taken such things to court in Radnor Township over Right to Know Requests not being honored by school district and won. The Radnor case of a lack of sunshine was a very big deal. As well it should have been.

The situation in West Goshen is also a smelly one and has to do with the sewer plant.  I don’t know all the players or the politics, but I do know quite well the politics of being miserable to residents and even non-residents for discussing topics that local municipalities and school districts/school boards do not want out in the open. Everyone always says when things happen they are “coincidences” but are they really?

I am a big believer in our inalienable rights.  Ultimately the Chester County Court system will decide, and I hope this resident gets a fair hearing in front of the Judge hearing the case. I hope West Goshen lets the resident have their day in court FAIRLY without any outside shenanigans, don’t you?

Here is what I have dug up:

casey-v-wgt-appeal-to-oor-decision-ap-2016-0868-in-chester-cty-court-of-common-pleas_redacted

casey-v-wgt-oor-ap2016-0868-rebuttal

ex-a-b-oor-2016-0868_redacted

ex-c-f-oor-2016-0868

ex-g-oor-2016-0868

ex-h-j-oor-2016-0868_redacted

ex-k-oor-2016-0868

ex-l1-oor-2016-0868_redacted

ex-l2-oor-2016-0868_redacted

I am guessing unless the court posts otherwise that this will get a hearing date in the near future, right? A public hearing that media and the public can attend? Anyway, West Goshen is uncharted waters.  Who knows what will happen? I will hope for the best that they do the right thing and get over medieval style politics, right? After all, they owe their residents (ALL of their residents) to be the best, right?

when articles appear that tell but half a story

6876843369_4fcfdf5e31_oSeptember 4th an article appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer about East Whiteland.   Written by a reporter who actually interviewed me about growing roses in 1997, Alan J. Heavens.  I respect him a great deal and would love to know the impetus for this article.

The cynic in me thinks maybe it was placed as PR for the Great Valley Corporate Center or someone similar.

Now this article is well written, and the Inquirer sent one of their best photographers to capture some key shots of East Whiteland, including a very old farmhouse in a bucolic setting, ironically.

25960549603_96081cb1df_oBut the article neglects to mention the non-corporate residents of the township watching their way of life disappear one development at a time.  We live in Chester County because we choose not to live in a city or on the Main Line.  Yet development by development, what makes Chester County unique, even what makes East Whiteland special, is quickly disappearing.

27685291670_2d629ed33d_oJust the other day I wrote about the new fake General Warren Village over near the behemoth of ugliness called Atwater. In my post I mentioned a comment I had received on another blog post about East Whiteland:

The “Suburban Landscape” County planning category promotes infill and appropriate density. County buzzwords for “put all the crap in this part of the County so we can keep some parts of the County green.”  East Whiteland is already written off as far as controlling development….the more here, the better in the County’s eyes. The prior issue of County Plan had existing homes obliterated by corporate park….so their intent has been clear for a long time. All very sad.

 

Now this article.  This article had to have been placed by someone because people in regional newspapers don’t just arrive at the topic of East Whiteland just because.  East Whiteland is a place most people just drive through without even thinking about the non-corporate residents in the township. East Whiteland barely has it’s own identity and doesn’t have a town center so most people know nothing of East Whiteland. They have heard of Malvern, they have heard of Frazer, they have heard of Great Valley High School. But mention “East Whiteland” to most and you get a blank stare.

So this article paints this great picture of all those corporations everyone has  to thank for our way of life in Chester County, apparently. Something along the lines of on the 8th day God created Corporate America perhaps? Ok that’s great, these places are employing folks from all over. Some of whom live in East Whiteland, but a great deal more live elsewhere.

cornfieldEast Whiteland is not just a place people drive through or go to work.  It’s home to real people year ’round.  East Whiteland is also home to Immaculata University and Villa Maria which also deserves credit for employing so many folks. And truthfully, they are better neighbors than corporate America and they respect the local history, heritage, and keep open space.

22015047366_4dd7b6d264_zThe article quotes a Narberth realtor, John Duffy of Duffy Realty. Why quote a veritable Auslander? They also have a St. David’s office.  But they aren’t Chester County realtors, they are based in Narberth and may have branched out to St. David’s, but if you look at their listings, the ones for Chester County with the exception of some rental unit at Raintree in Malvern Borough are all listings that mention SUB-DIVISION, So they are moving west like the developers but are they really the voice of Chester County Realtors now?.

Snippets from their listings on their website include:

  • 1 listing on Flowing Springs Rd in Chester Springs – it’s lovely but oh yes, possibility of sub-division.
  • 2 Juicy sized properties on Willann Road in Phoenixville – 15 and 17 acre parcels and yes, sub-division is possible.
  • 1 10+ acre property on Hickory Grove Road in Owen J Roberts School District “Possibility of four prime building lots on 10.2 gently sloping and wooded acres. Take advantage of sweeping southeasterly views across the Kimberton Golf Club”

The article mentioned East Whiteland Historic assets Gunkle Spring Mill and Lapp Log House. It doesn’t mention some of my favorite places like Duffy’s Cut (site of the massacre of Irish rail workers in the early 19th century), Linden Hall which is still rotting while the townhouses rise,  Loch Aerie, and the ruins of Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill road which is nearly as old at 184 years as the AME Church itself which just turned 200. The article wouldn’t know how to find local landmarks like the Women’s Lib Barn. It certainly doesn’t mention the trailer parks and the itinerant worker housing seen on and off Route 30 near the Wawa and so on.

17047192442_1b07ce4e3d_oThe article touts the businesses as being responsible for a real estate boom, but neglects to add up all the living units currently in progress and being planned in East Whiteland and any potential/probable impact.  When all is said and done, East Whiteland will be compeletely overwhelmed by not hundreds, but thousands of  additional living units. The article states East Whiteland is 11 square miles, so think about it – a couple thousand new living units is a VERY big deal.  And no one wants to talk about how that will affect schools, municipal services, traffic, infrastructure, open space.  It’s not all happening in a vacuum and who is to say this zeal to build one cram plan after the other won’t affect residents detrimentally down the road? And who is to say economically East Whiteland can actually sustain so much development long term?

Oy vey. And it mentions two historic assets that I am sorry are darn lucky to be left standing in a township that doesn’t really do much with historic preservation even though the historical commission is headed now by a very knowledgeable and caring gentleman (and they posted minutes for August 2016!! ), legislatively the commission has no teeth because there is nothing in East Whiteland to give them teeth (much like Tredyffrin Township as well, yes?)

17045432081_e515193eb2_oThe realtor Duffy says he doesn’t recognize the names of the developers in East Whiteland.  

“Newly constructed homes are available, of course, but most of the builders are younger and their companies and developments smaller than the big names, Duffy says.

“In fact, when I’m asked by agents if I know anything about these builders, I have to call them,” he says.”

Funny, I find quite a lot of them familiar names as I first heard about them on the Main Line. The ones that actually develop, and others who get things approved but then sell their approved sites to other developers and even one or two who got approvals but thus far have done nothing and the names don’t ring a bell? And here I thought savvy realtors were always out and about?

You know O’Neill, Kahn, Pulte, Ryan Homes, Benson, Liberty Property? And if you don’t recognize their names there are others like Toll, JP Orleans, Bentley and more within spitting distance of East Whiteland because why? Oh yeah you can’t swing the proverbial dead cat in Chester County these days without hitting a developer, can you?

I realize you can’t fight city hall on everything, but this sundae with a cherry on top bubble view of East Whiteland doesn’t reflect the people who have lived here in some cases for decades who are terrified by the sheer volume of development and other things like gas pipelines which are coming at so many Chester County residents at a fast and furious pace.

16841236827_7e282e76de_oSo are there a lot of positives to this article? Yes but it still doesn’t mean East Whiteland needs to drown in development so it turns into Bensalem or King of Prussia, etc.  Open space is a real thing, and Chester County is losing it daily along with historic resources and equine and agricultural heritage.

The development which is occurring shows little architectural design aesthetic, aren’t exactly being built to withstand the test of time, and there is just too much of it.  Every square inch available is getting gobbled up. It’s insane, quite literally.

The Inquirer article neglects to mention all of this or the feelings of the existing residents and those in neighboring communities affected by all this development.

26774787724_76108f4124_oSo while the folks at places like the Great Valley Corporate Center are running around patting themselves on the back and realtors who aren’t truly representative of Chester County spout facts anyone with a computer can research on the Internet, there are the quiet voices of everyday people living in Chester County communities like in East Whiteland and elsewhere who are grateful for the commerce but don’t want to lose a way of life, open space, history, and so on.

What is this game we play? Bully for business and real estate developers and damn the existing residents, open space, agricultural heritage, and history?  Doesn’t seem like a very fun or fair game to me. Is moderation in growth really so goddamn difficult?

Here is the article:

Companies congregate here, drawing buyers

Updated: SEPTEMBER 4, 2016 — 3:00 AM EDT

by Alan J. Heavens, Real Estate Writer @alheavens

It’s high time we headed over to East Whiteland for a visit.

After all, without this 11-square-mile Chester County community, a good many folks in this region would be unemployed.

There are so many corporate headquarters in East Whiteland that every weekday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., the township’s population of 10,650 increases by more than 23,000.

Those companies include Cerner Corp. (formally Siemens Health Services), Vishay, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Ellucian Higher Education, Janssen Biotech (formerly Centocor), and Acme Markets.

Think Great Valley Corporate Center, five million square feet of office and research-and-development space on 700 acres – Liberty Property Trust’s largest domestic suburban project….

“It is a well-run township that cooperates with those around it, is convenient to everything, has a top school district and low taxes,” he says.

“Who can ask for more?”

 

The “more”  folks could ask for include slowing down the pace of development, open space and true historic preservation.  There are more than businesses living in East Whiteland Township.

The race for open space used to be just a tag line about saving it in Chester County. Now it describes every developer who gets their paws on a few acres.

moon over immaculataHappy Labor Day from the land of development, err Chester County. I really hope my feelings about this development are in the end proven wrong, but the reality is I have this sinking suspicion that when I am a very old lady I will be able to say I told you so and I won’t be happy doing it.

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tempest in an en blanc teapot

28987928280_23f3f673d1_oYears and years ago when I was working in New York, there was a party held every summer in Newport, Rhode Island on Bellevue in one of the old “cottages” (mansions) called Newport Night in White. I want to say it was maybe held at Belcourt Castle at the time, but it has been way too long (we are talking early 90s).

Anyway, it was not the Newport White Party held today which was held this past Saturday on August 27th in Rhode Island. Newport White Party is a different white  event which started in 2011. It also benefits non-profits, which Newport Night in White back in the 90s did too. The event I attended for two or three summers was held in the summer some weekend after the Gatsby Ball (or Gatsby Society Ball, I forget what it was called precisely.).  This was the first white party I ever attended and it was such an amazing event I still remember it. You dressed in all white cocktail attire to black tie.  There was dinner and dancing and it was held in this amazing mansion. And it was FUN.

Then white parties sort of petered out except in certain locations where they will always have white summer event like Provincetown, the Hamptons, and so on, and have had a general renaissance due to people discovering Dîner en Blanc de Paris as it grew from a man’s white picnic in Paris in the late 1980s.  Now of course, it is this huge thing, held world-wide and licensed. The irony is Dîner en Blanc de Paris was going on when Newport Night in White was, but I never heard of it back then. Who knows if the event organizers did back then, I didn’t know them personally, they just threw a heck of a summer party.

When I first heard about Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia (also known as DEBPhl or DEB) I was delighted.  I do like white parties and the idea of white parties even if dressing head to toe in white is hard to wear and hard to pull off. But white makes you think of summer, right?  The first Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia had well over 1000 people. A lot of my friends went.

I did not want to go. Why? Because August in Philadelphia outside is gross in my opinion a lot of the time because it is a major metropolitan city with lots of concrete and density.  Heat and humidity are bad enough without adding a city to it. I also did not want to go because while I loved the idea of white and a theoretical “white picnic”, already at over 1000 the event was too large for me. And you had to schlep furniture. I also do not like being in huge crowds. I do not like stadium sized events, even sports or rock concerts. It’s just not me and never has been. I find crowds of a couple of hundred too much at times. If you know me, you know I have always been this way.

Ok so those are my opinions, right? Nothing earth shattering.  They are not a damnation of Dîner en Blanc, it’s how I feel about events that are HUGE. And since its debut in Philadelphia, that event has grown to over 5000 people. I am not so sorry, but no, getting crammed in with 5000 other people in white like lemmings at an outdoor event in August in a big city is not for me. My opinion. Personal choice. Should be no big deal to express said opinion.

But no. That is criticism of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia. And critics are not welcome. My goodness the hubbub over Brian Hickey’s article after the most recent event was not to be believed.

Philly Voice AUGUST 19, 2016

Dîner en Blanc Philly is the worst and I hope it never goes away

BY BRIAN HICKEY  PhillyVoice Staff

This is America, and in America, you can spend $45 (or $93 a couple) on anything you want without fear of repercussions, provided it’s legal and all that.
This is America, and in America, you can damn well judge anybody who spends that kind of money for the right to prepare their own dinner, carry their own tables and utensils, don white clothing from head to toe and wave sparklers in the air after usurping a public space in the name of pretentious exclusivity.
Welcome to the morning after the fifth annual Dîner en Blanc Philly, the pop-up dinner picnic in a secret location.

Read the whole article. It is wonderfully written. And captures precisely right or wrong how  a lot of people feel about the event.

But no, drama ensued, serious drama. There was even a rebuttal from a writer attending the event as a journalist:

Philly Voice AUGUST 22, 2016

Dîner en Blanc: Philadelphians coming together, in a sea of positivity

BY SARAH MAIELLANO

In response to critics of his unfair, and sometimes silly, takedown-attempt of Thursday’s Dîner en Blanc, Brian Hickey suggested that, instead of tweeting at him, the pro-DEB crowd could submit their own commentary to Philly Voice.
It was a taunt: as if none of the event’s 5,000 attendees would be capable of writing 600 coherent words defending it. Well, I had an extra 45 minutes this weekend.
I attended DEB as a journalist (I cover Philadelphia and the rest of the country for a number of publications, including Washington Post, USA TODAY and Travel + Leisure).

Read the whole piece. “Takedown”? Seriously? What is this a mob hit? Seems to me Brian Hickey wrote an opinion piece.

And then there is this, anointed a “must read”  by  @DEBphl

Defending DEB

It’s cool to hate on Diner en Blanc, but is it necessary?

…Part of the cri­ti­cism is that this is elit­ist, pre­ten­tious and ob­nox­ious. Yet, at $45 a seat, it’s a far cheap­er night out than most black tie galas that run every oth­er week­end. And, if you look at the crowd, you’ll see these are far from just so­ci­ety reg­u­lars that pop­u­late those old-money events. This DEB crowd isn’t bring­ing out the an­tique jew­elry, it’s shop­ping on Etsy.

And among the big so­cial events of the city, DEB hap­pens to be the most di­verse. Far from be­ing the white­wash that many of the pop-up beer gar­dens and Fishtown fest­ivals tend to be, DEB ap­pears widely pop­u­lar among black at­tendees and oth­er minor­it­ies. And where else do you see people from vari­ous races and eco­nom­ic back­grounds din­ing el­bow to el­bow, fine china next to dixie cups and Tup­per­ware?

Ok that is the author’s opinion.  I do not quite see the event as a great equalizer, but she loves it and it’s her opinion.

But, you are not allowed apparently to have a negative or even a different opinion even if it is not particularly negative, just honest.

And yo’ Philly, birthplace of America and our freedom, do you remember the First Amendment regarding opinions?

First Amendment
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.

Land sakes do you people think this is the first person to write about these events in less than glowing terms??? Or to mock any social event?

(Queue Washington Post)

The Washington Post: Why do people hate Diner en Blanc? The word ‘pretentious’ keeps coming up.

By Maura Judkis August 26 , 2016

It is very, very easy to hate Diner en Blanc. The annual event, which returns to Washington on Saturday night, brings thousands of people to a surprise location, where they arrive dressed in head-to-toe white, eat gourmet picnics and drink champagne in full view of the uninvited masses. Those who are out and about this weekend may see a parade of them on the Metro, toting tables and chairs and china. And depending on your outlook, you’ll either wish you were one of those lucky 3,500 or loathe them with every fiber of your being.

“No event has ever made me want to plan a paintball rampage like this one,” said Tom Bridge, editor emeritus of We Love DC. He’s kidding, kidding, he promises! But he is not alone…..But no foodie trend seems to raise hackles quite like a very public, invitation-only party with a dress code and a $45 admission fee.

“The whole process is so unbelievably pretentious it seems to me to be a complete waste of effort,” Bridge said. “Pretentious” is a word that comes up a lot around Diner en Blanc. Is it the French name? Peut-être!

Again, read the whole article. They event mention the Philadelphia tempest in an en blanc pot.

Now here is another article on the Philadelphia event:

AUGUST 19, 2016

Diner en Blanc diner says event is a wasted opportunity

BY BERNIE CARLIN Philly Voice

For better or for worse, I’ve been a participant of Diner en Blanc for the past two years. My special lady friend’s mother enjoys it, therefore my special lady friend enjoys it, so I must enjoy it. Such is the law; I didn’t write it.

Before I ever attended, I found the amount of hatred the general public held for this gala to be entertaining, but didn’t think much about it. As an outsider, it struck me as just another us vs. them debate, in a city that is literally defined by us vs. them debates. Like all such debates, I figured there was some merit to the criticism, but felt pretty sure that it couldn’t be as bad as it was made out to be.

Now that I have two of these events under my belt, I can confidently say that it is…Its indulgence defined, and the true cost isn’t simply $93 per couple (plus the requisite two bottles of Cab Franc per person). It’s the wasted opportunity that comes and goes when 5,000 Philadelphians who have the time and money to do better with both, get together and waste it on taking drunk selfies on a Thursday….An estimated 5,000 people got together, and spent almost a quarter of a million dollars to do it. And no one – not one of us, not one citizen in the city that hosted it, is any better for it.

Let’s do this differently next year. Please. I’d like to be hungover because I helped someone, not (just) because I’m an entitled prick.

Again read the whole article. Of course the response of one of the originators of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia, was a little Marie-Antoinette-let-them-eat-cake  because they said “all” of “Philly” benefits.

There has been so much breast beating back and forth over this event on social media that it is somewhat crazy. People saying they will “unfriend” other  people for criticizing the event.  Seriously?

OK I get the picture, people love the event. But others don’t . And then there are others like myself that love to look at the event photos but have absolutely no desire to go to the event. My reasons for not wanting to go, my personal choice for choosing not to go also by the standards set by these people makes me a Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia hater. Alrighty then, pretzel logic.

I do like events that benefit charities.  I especially like events that benefit charities that do not take themselves so seriously and don’t (for example) call themselves “balls” when by definition they are not.

I grew up in Society Hill and on the Main Line. I went to a private school. I did the cotillion for the Charity Ball all in white. I did years and years of traditional non-profit events and traditional volunteering like my mother.

I stopped doing most of it after 9/11 by personal choice. I felt that most of those people on those committees and who attended those events would always need people like me more than I would ever need them.  I also felt bigger picture, there was more to life that was more important. Also, let’s get real: these parties are expensive and a new dress for every event adds up.

But I do like white parties and I do appreciate non-profit events that do good for legitimate local charities.  So when a friend suggested Brandywine in White and described it to me, I thought “why not”?

It is an absolutely lovely event.  It has a charming host and slew of people who put it together. While not a non-profit per se, part of the proceeds benefit a local charity. In 2015 it benefitted the Sunday Breakfast Mission in Wilmington, DE.   This year they were donating  to the Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County to help save Barnard’s Orchard.

Also this year held on the same evening of August 27th was the inaugural  WC Summer Soirée . This event had a non- profit formed first and benefitted three local Chester County Charities: St. Agnes Day Room, Chester County Food Bank, and Chester County Family Academy.

We went to WC Summer Soirée this year. Not because we didn’t love Brandywine in White, but because we thought we would be able to do both and both events ended up being on the same evening, and by the time we figured it out, the tickets for WC Summer Soirée were already purchased. (But a small donation did go to Brandywine in White as well.)

Both of these Chester County / Brandywine Valley events are summer white or en blanc parties. But they do not try to be Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia. They are white parties yes, but the feel is different.

These are lovely events that are more laid back. You have fun and it is a few hundred people versus a few thousand. You don’t schlep your furniture you buy tables and service tables or eat at communal tables. You do set up your tablescapes in white and dress in white, but your back drops, the settings are completely different. And yes they choose non-profits as event partners. To me that is more appealing.

And the people whiles mostly strangers to me at these events are so nice. People mingle and table hop and enjoy checking everyone’s tablescapes out.  I love to entertains, cook, and everyone knows I love vintage dishes and linens, so I totally have fun at these Brandywine Valley/ Chester County events.

We had a blast at WC Summer Soirée ! It was held at the American Helicopter Museum and there were even helicopter rides. People had fun! Dress code wise it was slightly more casual than Brandywine in White, but that’s fine as it was never intended to be a clone of Brandywine in White or a  Dîner en Blanc.

While at WC Summer Soirée I noticed people whose business promotes Philadelphia and the Brandywine Valley were at Brandywine in White and they would be tweeting live. How nice I thought for Brandywine in White. Next thing you know they post a selfie with the following “Nice event here at #brandywinwhite but it’s no @DEBphl.”

I thought the damnation by faint praise to be shall we say, ignorant and totally unnecessary. If they thought it was a nice party, why couldn’t they just say that? It is not supposed to be  Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia so why toss that in? White party yes, but DEB, no. And sorry not sorry, but DEB did not originate the concept of white parties or place a patent on them, they have revived an entertaining trend.

I responded to those people that I would rather support good causes in Chester County then to be among the 5000 lemmings dressed in white, in Philadelphia. You know what this is boys and girls ? Opinion and personal choice. I was never kept off a guest list for this thing, I chose not to go for valid reasons already discussed.

So then these people decided to follow me on Twitter .  I decided to back them because if you know social media and you know Twitter you know the next thing is a flat out Twitter war over whose opinion matters more. I didn’t want that, so I chose not to engage.

Next thing you know, the person I am told is the paid publicist for DEB Philadelphia pops up in 140 characters or less. How I am attending an event that almost “entirely copies DEB AND are rude about it. #goodbye #copycat”

Oh snap! I guess he schooled me, right? I also think that technically DEB Philadelphia (license or not) can be considered a copycat of other larger  established DEBs around the world and other white parties, yes? After all DEB Philadelphia did not originate the idea of a white party in general, did they?

I admit I told him to have a hissy fit other than at me and it was bourgeois that he did not realize not everything is trying to be DEB. Sorry not sorry, my opinion. Knowing a Twitter feud would definitely spring from this one, I blocked him. I shouldn’t have engaged in the first place, and chose not to engage further.

So his response to blocking was twofold. First was on Twitter – if I am going to criticize I am supposed to “stand behind my comments. Not block everyone. #coward”

Then he rolls up on my blog’s Facebook page and continues about how I blocked him. (wahhhhhh!) and how his comment was directed at me for being “rude”. And because he wasn’t limited to 140 characters, he goes on to say  that I couldn’t stand up for my comments and hid them from everyone and continues  “…it is clear you lack facts and just want to be hostile. First, that event was started and called Brandywine in White after DEB. And if you had half an education of course our event is based on Paris- who do you think started the idea and licensed it.”

He goes on to call me a troll. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre. He neglects to say he blocked me back which I find hysterical, so what is his very important point about blocking people again, I forget? And I guess he “encouraged” the “official”  @DEBphl  Twitter handle to block me too? ( Totally mature, totally amusing, totally cracks me up and do they think that means I can’t see what they post anyway? All you have to do is not be signed into Twitter to view it if you want to- so not difficult if it is a public versus private Twitter-feed. )

I mean seriously he is a publicist being paid to promote this event?  And part of the job description is being the DEB Philadelphia ankle biter? And my goodness, do the people who run Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia think this is acceptable behavior out of what amounts to someone they employ to positively promote their event? And as a professional publicist this person thinks their version of playing well with others is acceptable behavior?

Right or wrong, if I were hiring a publicist and saw this out of a publicist they would be the last publicist I ever hired. And seeing a publicist doing this even if not directed at me personally would mean if I didn’t want to go to something in the first place, I would never even ever reconsider the event or recommend it to others. And if I did want to go, I would choose another party because who wants to go to something represented by someone like that anyway? I guess this guy thinks that the White Party in Provincetown the past 30 years is also a “copycat” of DEB Philadelphia?

People were criticizing DEB events in 2013 too :

Le Diner en Blanc: The Great Doucheby

POSTED BY ON THU, APR 4, 2013 AT 3:26 PM

Hey New Orleans — here’s a dinner deal for you!

First you pay $35, then you bring your own food, utensils and your own goddam table.

You don’t know where you’re going, but you must wear white from head to toe. Oh, and there’s a three-step process for application and a waiting list (“Best of luck in your registration!”), because, you know, the experience of paying a stranger for the privilege of staging your own dinner party is not just for everyone, darling.

And you can’t cancel. Period…

We don’t need to pay to attend a dinner party and be told to bring “a picnic basket comprised of quality menu items and a china dinner service including proper stemware and flatware.”

Are we really turning into this, New Orleans? I hope not. Because this whole thing makes me feel like putting on an old Saints jersey and licking roast beef po-boy gravy off my forearm while doing the Cupid Shuffle.

 

And then there is this from Vancouver, Canada:

Side Dishes: The little black event

reject the mariner 2 east pipeline

reject

Reject the Mariner East 2 pipeline! (click on hyperlink to go to Sierra Club initiative)

Normally I do not pass these things on. But I hate Sunoco (and am not enthralled by the other gas line companies either, but they are more polite to deal with if you have to call and ask questions like I did today). Out here we are on wells and they put us, our families, our pets, our neighbors, our wildlife, our environment, our drinking water and more at risk.

Sunoco thus far seems to bully, lie, and intimidate their way through Chester County and elsewhere, raping the landscape as they go.

21784458790_3b3b49f6a6_oNone of use should  want them stealing any more land belonging to anymore individuals thru their B.S. Eminent Domain practices because they are not doing any of this for us….ever. With big oil and big gas, it is always and always will be….about them.

They put toxic, highly flammable, and highly combustible products too close to homes, and they are NOT protecting water sources or wildlife, let alone people.

This is NOT about us and our energy supply. They are just stealing it for other people. They don’t even adequately compensate people for what they do if you want to make it solely about money and it is so much more than that. And thus far the majority of local officials just bend over and give it up without much of a fight.

In the past two days I have had conversations with people from East Goshen and West Goshen Townships who both do not know each other and their experiences as related to me were virtually identical.

They were threatened with eminent domain and they felt they had no choice but to give them an easement; and both hired attorneys that cost many thousands of dollars!

21349816844_28eba2ef09_oThey feel the worst is yet to come as they haven’t started the pipeline invasion yet. They have heard that townships may give them rights to work 24 hours a day, which if true is insane!

So much for East Goshen and West Goshen townships… These folks both tell tales of strange men and women with Texas and Louisiana car plates on their properties TRESPASSING before they even had legal easements.

It just isn’t right and the elected officials are of no help at all.

One said to me (and I quote):

What many don’t know is how in the end our property values will be affected and it is my belief that my property value ( and all on the pipeline path) will go down because of the easement… But the same monies will be needed to support the town budget so everyone else’s taxes will go up to provide the same tax base . We are all losers.

 

We are all losers.  Yup.  I received a pamphlet recently from Spectra Energy about pipeline sapipelinefety.  I have not previously received any pipeline info before where we currently live.  So I called.  I spoke with a very nice man named Don in Gas Control.  And wow, we do not have a gas line on our property or in our immediate neighborhood, but wow, pretty darn close.
Another election year issue on a national scale.  Please sign the above petition and add your voice.  And for those of you tired of trespassers, call Andy Dinniman’s office in West Chester .  There should be rules as to when they can access easements and they should provide advance notice.

Anyway, that’s it. I hate pipelines and I hate what they are doing to our area.  And for what?

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zoya egan millinery

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#DEB16 For sale!

A photo posted by Zoya Egan (@hatsbyzoya) on Aug 7, 2016 at 4:38pm PDT

 

OPENING DISCLAIMER: Zoya  ( @hatsbyzoya  on Instagram and Zoya Egan Millinery is her Facebook business page) has NOT asked me to write this post. When she sees it, it will be a surprise. Zoya is NOT compensating me for this post. There will NOT be free stuff in return.  She deserves the accolades and is a small businesswoman, and well when possible, I like to support my friends. Especially when they are as talented as Zoya, which makes it a pleasure.

So back to it — One of the great things in my life are my super creative friends. Zoya Egan is no exception. Zoya is incredibly talented, smart, and just a genuinely wonderful gal. Now some have just discovered Zoya the past couple of years, and I have had the great privilege of knowing Zoya a few years longer.

She comes by her talent genetically, as her mother is a dressmaker of some renown in her native Russia.

What sets Zoya’s millinery apart from the herd of hat makers are several things:

  • Design – Zoya’s hats, headpieces, and fascinators are beautiful, almost lyrical. They are elegant and very wearable.  Her design sense is self-evident in each piece she makes. A lot of people will plop a Lucite salad bowl on their head with flowers and silk veggies and call it millinery.  Maybe if you are Carmen Miranda that works but on the rare occasions when I will need the right hat, I for one do not want to look like the side show in the circus, and the wrong hat can do that quite quickly.
  • Elegance– Goes hand in hand with design sophistication.  Think Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily. Zoya’s creations give you that certain je ne sais quois. You feel elegant, and you look elegant in her creations.
  • Fit – Not all hats are for all ladies.  Zoya will fit one of her creations to you, to make sure you can wear it and carry it off.  Her custom designs are created especially for the wearer. She measure and crafts the hats, headpieces, and fascinators to her ladies, taking into consideration their outfits as well.  Her hats will suit your outfit and you, not be a detraction and unwelcome distraction.
  • Quality craftsmanship – Zoya’s hats, headpieces, and fascinators are quite reasonably priced and she uses quality goods to create them. The devil is in the details and she has it down.
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#DEB16 For sale!

A photo posted by Zoya Egan (@hatsbyzoya) on Aug 7, 2016 at 4:40pm PDT

Zoya’s creations are not for the thundering herd, and I am fine with that. I have other friends who have been in the millinery business in the past and there are a lot of people who call themselves artisan hat makers, but ask my friends who were such artisans and crafts people and they will tell you, not all are.

Whichever En Blanc party suits your fancy (Dîner en Blanc – Philadelphia, Brandywine in White, or WC Summer Soirée, add Zoya to your resource list.

And don’t limit Zoya to her En Blanc/White Party expertise. Whatever the hat / head piece/ fascinator occasion is, check her out – Kentucky Derby events, Radnor Hunt, Devon Horse Show, Polo, weddings, ladies events, black and white tie – she can handle them all. Zoya specializes in designing beautiful, statement headpieces for any event using materials and embellishments of the highest quality.

Find Zoya and her hats on Facebook and Instagram!

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#DEB16 For sale!

A photo posted by Zoya Egan (@hatsbyzoya) on Aug 7, 2016 at 4:38pm PDT

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#DEB16 For sale!

A photo posted by Zoya Egan (@hatsbyzoya) on Aug 7, 2016 at 4:38pm PDT

 

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Look at this beauty! Silk flower, 8×8 inches, would look great on your fascinator for #dinerenblanc 2016

A photo posted by Zoya Egan (@hatsbyzoya) on Aug 2, 2016 at 5:32pm PDT

provenance

When you buy an antique or vintage or collectible item, people often speak of the “provenance” of the item. Provenance (from the French provenir, “to come from”), is the chronology of the ownership of an object. The term was originally mostly used in relation to works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of things and fields.

I like to know the provenance of things I buy, even if it isn’t an antique or true collectible. These things all have a story, and sometimes the back story or journey is more wonderful than the item.

Today, I had that happen.

I went to an estate sale in Malvern, but in Charlestown Township.  It was magical.

I drove up this beautiful little road that was deeply wooded, and so quiet save for the early morning song birds. I parked and walked down the driveway. It was a pretty house. Modest in size, it was lovely in its surroundings in the woods.

I greeted the estate sale people whom I like a great deal and have dealt with several times before – Caring Transitions of Chester County. When they run a sale or an auction they are so wonderful to deal with. They research what they are selling, price fairly if they are doing an estate sale, and the sales are neat and organized and easy to navigate with items priced clearly. They have staff in the majority of the rooms and it is always just a pleasure to deal with them. 

And they are legitimately estate sales when they hold them, as not all sales that call themselves that are. And while some estate sale companies seem to create states of chaos where people are just grabbing and often stealing things while nearly destroying the homes, Caring Transitions doesn’t operate in that manner. They are nice, knowledgable professionals.  They run a nice, tight ship.

I walked into the house and the first thing I noticed was how happy the house felt if that makes any sense. It was spotlessly clean, but just had a nice vibe. I had come for nutcrackers and Christmas ornaments I had seen advertised but found other things.

The woman who had lived there had been an amazing embroidery and needlepoint and petit point artist. The needlework took my breath away. An estate sale professional in an upstairs room told me the lady of the house had been German. I asked her if she had been a war bride. “How did you know?” said the employee. I pointed to some of the World War II uniforms hanging in a closet.

I have been to estate sales where old military uniforms were sort of tossed in piles in corners. Not these. Lovingly hung in closets, and neatly folded in opened footlockers or trucks. These uniforms meant something. Looking at them was like a history lesson.

I wandered into what had been the master bedroom and saw this completely lovely framed sampler, just lying displayed on the bed. I love vintage samplers. To me they are the ultimate in folk art. I have several little ones scattered around my house. 

I bought the sampler. 

I drove home thinking how warm and happy the house had felt.  When I got home I hung up the sampler. The woman who made it in 1988 had stitched her name in it. Annaliese Nagel.

I decided to Google her obituary to learn more about this needlework magician to give my sampler more of a provenance. I found it and learned more about Annaliese Nagel:

ANNELIESE NAGEL OF CHARLESTOWN Anneliese Nagel, 89, of Charlestown, was taken by her Lord on Friday, September 7, 2012. She was the wife of Harry W. Nagel, with whom she shared 66 years of marriage. Born in Heddesheim Germany, she was the youngest child of the late Katharine and Johannes Scherb. She moved with her family to Westtown where she lived for 17 years before moving to Charlestown. She attended schools in the Heidelberg area of Germany and later took courses at the Technical University in

Hannover, Germany where her husband was studying under a Fulbright grant.

She was a homemaker in the fullest sense of the word, an expert cook, baker and a gracious hostess who truly enjoyed people. She was also expert in many forms of needlework, through which her memory will live on in many of the homes of friends and family .

Now I wanted to know about her husband. So I Googled again. I found her beloved husband,  Harry Nagel. I hope his family is not upset, but I am sharing a big chunk of his obituary. He wrote it himself, and he was part of the Greatest Generation and theirs was such a love story, and what a life he lived!

 

Obituary for Harry W. Nagel

Hi everyone! It’s me, Harry. I’ve decided to create my obit myself prior to the actual event. I thought this might make for more interesting reading. The two photos illustrate the toll time takes on all of us. One was Harry at 20, the other is Harry at 82. 

I had hoped to survive until stem cell technology or some other medical procedure might enable once vital organs to be reproduced, therefore, extending life. However, should dementia or Alzheimer’s intervene, life extension would be a questionable goal.

I was born in Union City, NJ on 21 January 1925, the first child of Anne Elise Christine Nagel (nee Von Spreckelsen) and Harry Conrad Nagel. I grew up during the ‘Great Depression” in, strangely named, West New York , NJ . Upon graduation from Memorial High School in 1942, I was accepted at Columbia College (Columbia University), class of 1946. However, December 7, 19 41 changed America’s and my destiny. As most of my former classmates were already in the armed forces, I volunteered for the Army on my 18th birthday.

After training in lesser known vacation destinations in Alabama and Louisiana and having been introduced to such denizens as coral snakes, armadillos, wild boar, chiggers, heat rash and fellow Americans who could neither read nor write, we embarked for England on the army transport, George Washington, in the midst of a 100+ ship convoy.

While in England, we engaged in the same type of exciting training which we had done in Louisiana, substituting cool rain for heat and humidity. Then, that mysterious hand of fate loaded us onto ships, and, the next we knew, we were stepping off of LCIs (Landing Craft Infantry) into the mud and wreckage of Omaha Beach , France. The beach landing was required as all of the French ports were still incapable of accepting ships.

Life as a PFC (Private First Class), rifleman, infantry, was about as grim as it got. During WWI we were called ‘Cannon Fodder!’ Our division was employed in combat in Holland , Belgium and Germany . The Battle of the Bulge began on 16 Dec. 1944 . We were there on 17 December. It was there I earned my first Purple Heart medal (first of two). This got me out of the snow and a happy stay at a huge hospital in LeMans, France. There I was patched up and returned to my rifle company as ‘fit for duty’.

After crossing the Rhine we fought our way across Germany (Purple Heart #2) to link up with our Soviet comrades on the Elbe River . Shortly thereafter, as the territory we had bled for was to become the Soviet Zone of Occupation (later East Germany ), we were moved to the Heidelberg area. It was there I was to meet my future wife, Anneliese. As Americans were prohibited from marrying Germans at the time, I was returned to the US in November 1945 and discharged from the army in December 1945.

Resolved to return to Anneliese, I joined the Merchant Marines, signing on the George Washington (the ship which took me to England as an infantryman) as an engine room oiler. The ship was being used to return German soldiers who had been US prisoners of war to Europe. On one voyage to LeHavre , France , I jumped ship and, disguised as a German POW, made my way into the city of LeHavre , dressed as a seaman. From there I traveled by train to Strasburg via Paris. There, disguised as a French soldier, I was able to cross the Rhine back into Germany and back to Anneliese.

After a couple romantic months, with me disguised as a German civilian with a German ID card, I decided to turn myself in to the US authorities and try a legally approved approach to remain in Germany. This approach saw me incarcerated in the 19th century Bermen City prison. After my trial I was permitted to re-enlist in the US Army. I was assigned to third Army Hq. (General Patton) in the intelligence section in Heidelberg . Anneliese could not believe our good luck! As I was fluent in German, one of my more interesting assignments was to interrogate ex-SS personnel and war crimes suspects at the former concentration camp, Dachau . While there I also sat in on the trial of Ilsa Koch who had been the wife of the commandant of the concentration camp, Buchenwald. Ilsa, known as ‘The Bitch of Buchenwald ,” was accused of having inmates with interesting tattoos killed and skinned. She allegedly then made lamp shades of these skins.

In December 1948, Anneliese, our two children and I left Bremen on a tramp steamer bound for Mobile AL , and then on to Leonia, NJ to stay with my dad and two younger brothers. From there I commuted daily to Columbia where I had been re-admitted. Motivated by my family I earned three degrees in five years, receiving an AB, BS and MS in Chemical Engineering, topped off by a Fulbright Grant to do post-graduate work at the West German Petroleum Institute in Hanover , West Germany . While there Anneliese and I traveled widely and the children stayed with relatives and went to German schools. Upon returning to the US, I resumed work at Sunoco where I had already worked summers while at Columbia, retiring in 1983.

My second career! While at Columbia, the Cold War with the Soviet Union was intensifying. Having been an NCO (Non-commissioned Officer) in the Infantry, I was convinced, should war break out, I’d be right back at my old WWII job. As a result, I took advantage of an existing law and applied for a direct commission as a second lieutenant as I knew my family would be better off if something happened to me. At this time I had no further interest in the Army. Fate intervened! I met a fellow officer at Columbia who convinced me to attend an Army Reserve meeting with a group of ex-WWII infantrymen. I was hooked! 

At this writing I am a retired colonel, having completed the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Army War College at Carlisle, PA , with over 36 years of combined active and reserve service.


What a life they had! What quite literally,  a love story.  My sampler has its provenance. And I learned the happy house I visited today had as part of it’s history, it’s provenance, and amazing love story. 

Thank you Annaliese for my sampler. I will treasure it and remember your story.