land conservationists/preservationists in chester county should watch this curious case…in willistown

This is a post I have been struggling with. I am a big supporter of Natural Lands. But I am not sure what to think here.

Summerhill Preserve is acreage in Willistown. It was put in preservation. But was the intent of the gift of this land and the preservation of it to make it a public access site, or just a preserved swath of land?

I used to see stuff fly by the past few years mostly about birds and Summerhill. Here are some screenshots and note that these screenshots don’t seem to go anywhere now when you click on the link:

Ok well stuff gets updated and moved around on websites and links get broken. No biggie. But when you go to Natural Lands website and put in Summerhill all you get now is a handful of very old articles mentioning but not centered on Summerhill. I never thought much of it, because I never thought Summerhill was like a place you could just visit, although I am sure I would love it like I love so many of Natural Lands properties. But Summerhill? Not on their list of places to visit. I just checked again today.

Again, no big deal. I have always thought, whether it is right or wrong, even if land is in conservation/preservation, it is not necessarily just open to the public. And Natural Lands kind of always said that about Summerhill. Note this screenshot from a few years ago I found for an event listing about Summerhill :

So then someone randomly asked me what was going on with Summerhill. I replied truthfully, wouldn’t know, had forgotten about it. Why had I forgotten? Because I never knew you could visit it and it had been ages since I even saw something mentioning it.

Well there is a wee problem and Natural Lands is in court with the Summerhill neighbors. And Willistown too I guess? But this is not the same as the strange case of Wildflower Farm and those neighbors. No comparison. Among other things so much of this land abuts private property. It’s not a working farm, it’s land — open space.

If you ever ask anybody who lives adjacent to a trail or conserved land or even a park they will tell you there is good and bad and living La Vida COVID in some cases has made it awkward at times. Sometimes stupid human tricks prevail – leaving trash, trespassing on private property and taking stuff, even urinating and worse from our much loved trails onto private property. It happens. Sadly, it happens. I have heard about it on the Chester Valley Trail and the Radnor Trail even in years past on the trail at Haverford College. People have told me similar stories like this near Willisbrook in Willistown. Stupid human tricks and a lack of respecting boundaries and private property, and of course it makes you wonder if they even respect the actual nature preserve or trail?

This is not the fault of the people responsible for the trails or nature preserves, in my humble opinion. It is probably impossible to babysit all of these properties all of the time and how many operate is somewhat on an honor system of dawn to dusk without real actual bodies on site to close and open properties?

So it begs the question of ironing things out so people know what will happen with what they donate land maybe? And ironing out what the public can and can’t do also perhaps? Is it not OK for preserved/conserved land to just be well passive, pristine, and preserved? As in maybe it’s left alone or maybe it’s an occasional very special space not open dusk ’til dawn to the public? And what if that is what a donor or grantor said in the first place? What if that is what conservation easements said? So maybe you can’t just pave paradise after all and put up a parking lot or you can but not necessarily everywhere?

I remember when the Summerhill place was for sale, conserved land was a selling point (and it was in the Willistown Conservation Trust Barns and BBQ as well):

So yes, neighbors moved in here knowing about the land preservation/conservation. But I think the question from reading an Orphan’s Court thing is original intent vs. I guess Natural Lands wanting to open this up and build a parking lot, etc? But I am having a hard time envisioning how they would even do this because of all of the properties that touch what Natural Lands has if that makes sense?

After reading this Orphan’s Court thing, it makes a person wonder if the neighbors here are wrong? Because if the original intent was just preserved land and that can be proven, are they wrong?

I love Natural Lands. I know some will think me horrible for raising this issue. But isn’t it important? After all you want people to donate land but land in conservation and save it from development, right? That is why I feel this case bears watching. It also looks like there is other stuff other than what is in Orphan’s Court brewing.

I am sharing the Orphan’s Court thing. Not trying to slam Willistown Township or Natural Lands. But this makes for interesting reading and pondering. And these strike me as VERY different neighbors than the OTHER Wildflower Farm thing and a different situation altogether, correct? To me this will be a case that no matter what happens will possibly lay things out a little more clearly for others in the future and will you agree when all is said in done? I am all for the race to preserve open space to quote another organization, but it should be less foggy, and simple right? Or wrong?

Time and judges will tell.

women….a mystery even to other women

Essentially this has nothing to do with anything
and is just a painting I saw a while back
that I found interesting- and it’s women
and that’s the topic of this post.

Before I dive into writing my post, let’s talk about Gwyneth Paltrow for a second. Personally I think she’s bizarre. And narcissistic.

Gwyneth has announced she is going Sex Ed, including a new show that will be launching on Netflix this week. I saw an outtake of the show this morning on the Today Show, and they were talking Wolverine Claws. Yep sharp pointy claw things that can literally draw blood. Sex Ed with a side of kink, anyone? And like two in Bravo’s Real Housewives franchises , she will be selling vibrators on her Goop website and some female libido pill. But it’s a Goop product so they will be more wholesome, right?

I totally get her whole women having body issues. I especially get it after having breast cancer because quite frankly I have an uneven chest but I don’t want fake plastic boobs. Oh I guess this is going to be too much for some of my male readers, so I apologize in advance. But I have always said this blog is about whatever strikes my fancy and today the topic is women. This was just a quasi related segue.

Someone asked me the other day about a woman who used to be a very close friend. when we were in our 20s even up to my 30s. We did tons of stuff together. It wasn’t a weekend if I didn’t hang out with her at some point. She was a lot of fun and is still one of the most naturally beautiful women I have ever met. Men literally fell at her feet. Mostly they ignored the rest of us with her, although they would often buy us cocktails just so they could be in her presence. She was often a lot nicer to some of them than they deserved.

Our friendship started to change and wane a little when she got involved with this weird cult-like group. The group sold seminars under the whole guise of personal wellness and well-being but I remember going to a couple of things with her and it was like freaky Friday at least for me. I felt like the people that ran it were a bunch of charlatans and they were very happy to take people’s money, but I couldn’t get if the “help“ they offered had any value. But she was a friend so I didn’t say anything and I accepted this was something she needed in her life.

Then one day she asked me to help her rewrite her résumé. So I did it for her and she got a fabulous job in New York. And dropped me like a hot potato. There was no argument or disagreement, she was literally just done with me. Reinvented herself and was finished with those who knew her when. It really hurt. At this point in my life, this was the first time I had ever experienced anything like this. I have seen her fly by here and there over the years on the social media of others and she looks happy, and she got married. I hope she has everything she wants in life. But I hope she’s learned to treat people better.

Now this was a woman whose company I enjoyed very much, so she is someone I actually miss from time to time. But I think I just can’t let people in again all the time after great hurt. It’s not about not being able to forgive someone, it’s more about being practical because if they’ve done it once they will inevitably do it again and do you want to put yourself through that?

Next came a woman who was a very close friend, I was even one of her bridesmaids. Our parents kind of knew each other through other people, there was a lot of commonality. But I always kind of knew in the back of my head if I was honest she wouldn’t last.

When I realized this about this woman, ironically it was at her wedding. There were a lot of people she invited that none of us in her current circle had ever known existed in her world. She was one of those people that has one set of friends and then moves to the next set of friends and so on and so forth. She is also someone who would periodically disappear for long durations of time (years) from her friends’ lives and then just pop up like nothing had ever happened. She did that to me actually. And it was really weird, and hurt. But I forgave it the first time because it was nice to have her back in my life.

The second time I walked away from her entirely. The second time it occurred when I moved to Chester County. When I moved to Chester County I was the out of sight, out of mind person. And coming out here when I did in my 40s was a big change for me. I had lived my life and practically its entirety in only one other place except for early childhood. Chester County was completely unknown although I wanted very much to be here. So it wasn’t the simplest of transitions because it was so emotionally loaded. Here I am standing on the precipice of the rest of my life where I very much want to be, yet at the same time nervous because I was literally leaving everything else I knew someplace else.

This woman literally just stopped returning my calls after I was out here a little over a year. I was no longer geographically convenient for her as a friend, I suppose. But because I had given our friendship a second chance when she disappeared the first time, I was just quietly done. I am not going to chase after someone whom I had fulfilled my end of the friendship so to speak. And I had told myself after the first time, if it happened again, the life door was just not going to reopen.

The other thing I discovered with this other woman is she has become dependent on extreme forms of Christianity. That is her comfort level. It keeps her insulated from I think the reality she is trying to escape. That’s her jam, and I respect it because I think she actually deeply believes it. I have also seen her a couple of times here and there, and it made me realize that while I was over the hurt she caused me, I just I’m not going to let her back in this time. I will always be happy to run into her, but I just can’t again.

I have had some missteps with new women in my life moving to Chester County. There was one woman I actually really enjoyed. But she used confidences we shared with each other to curry favor with others. That’s a disloyalty that I can never get my head wrapped around. At the time when that happened, I was so new to Chester County and feeling the loss of my aforementioned friend, so this was briefly hurtful. But I just walked away. I closed the door. I realized after a bit they had their own issues, and this was for the best. And I hadn’t invested that much in knowing them at that point so it stung, but it wasn’t a permanent hurt.

Trust is a big value with me. And once you feel like it’s broken in a relationship for me that’s really hard to go back and deal with. Maybe that’s a character flaw on my part, I don’t know.

Then there were a couple of women that were kind of out of my childhood, and I was delighted to find them out here. Well one I already knew was out here, the other came out here after I moved here.

These couple of women are women I used to have a lot of fun with. And then one really wanted to just be the controlling person in the relationship like I was a child, and the other was kind of a copycat on things I liked. And of course then there were the extreme political views that emerged just like with a lot of people. I kind of said goodbye to both of these women at once. With one of them it wasn’t so hard a decision. The other one it was a harder decision, because I knew her longer and better. But having either of them in my life, meant chaos and unreal drama, so I chose myself and peace.

But as we grow and evolve as human beings, sometimes our friendships don’t grow in the same way. However, when you experience the loss of longer-term friendships it kind of makes it hard to trust sometimes the new people you meet. You want to let them in because they just seem so nice, but it takes a minute, know what I mean?

So there’s this one woman I met within the past couple of years whom I really enjoyed. I really thought she’d be a new friend. And maybe someday again she will be, but she did something I found completely disloyal. And when I kind of called her on it privately, she turned it around that it was my fault.

What my fault was is that she wanted to have a political discussion on a day where my head was just too full. You know those days, you just know that you can’t do one more thing. And I was working on something for a client. When I am working, I am working, and with the onset of Covid-19 a lot of people blur those lines. But I can’t be all things to all people 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. So I said I couldn’t talk. Because I literally couldn’t – I was working and I was just tired, physically and emotionally.

The other things people don’t realize is because I’m a blogger, some days I literally get private messages and reach outs from people around the clock. Can I look at this, can I comment on this, why haven’t I done that or the other thing? Some days I just get tired.

So this person blamed me for her essentially kind of being crappy to me. And I’m just done for now. This is not somebody I really want to walk away from because I think they’re really interesting, but this is a question of mutual respect and friend loyalty. Which means I’m letting go of them for now. I am not angry, although it has made me pissy. But it’s something I’m hitting the pause button on. At least for now. And it wasn’t an easy decision, either.

But as I said to someone who once taught me, and as an adult is a dear friend, these situations are one of those things that you think as you get older maybe the people will get better? But still it almost goes back to the same stuff you were dealing with in high school, just on a different playing field. Sociologically it’s interesting. Personally it can be hurtful, and you also get to a point in your life where you feel like you just need to hit pause.

And this is a very female on female or female response, because I also have encountered women who will just throw men and women under the bus just because they are threatened by change. Or they just crave attention good bad or indifferent.

My male friends aren’t this way. If one of my male friends has a problem, they don’t post it on social media they contact me and they pretty much say “so what’s up?”

I don’t pretend to be perfect, or to have led a perfect life. But I find women to be cruel and hurtful to one and other over the dumbest sheit.

I guess this just makes me a little sad because as I have settled into life over the years in Chester County, I have met some amazing women. But as we age as women, trust and loyalty go a long way.

If as a woman if you really have a problem with a woman you know, talk to them. And if they tell you one of the days you want to talk to them they just can’t do it, accept that at face value and try again another day. Maybe it will be a while, but sometimes it isn’t about what you want, it’s about what they need and whatever they have asked you to hit the pause button on.

Well ladies, that’s all I’ve got for today. Thanks for stopping by.

oh west whiteland, what is up with weston property on west king road?

What is going on? You can’t tell from this photo but if you were to stop at this spot along West King Road you would see what looks like a road cut through the forest now and why?

I am not trying to jump to conclusions here. BUT when you drive up West King Road and look at the Weston property which is on W. King Road where West Whiteland begins and East Whiteland ends. The property address is 1400 Weston Way, West Chester.

In June of 2020 I think it was I put up a post asking what was going on with the property. You see it popped up in a meeting. It then popped up in October, 2020.

So yeah, that’s a LOT to be right off King Road. And it’s the outer edges of West Whiteland Township, so it’s “they can’t see it from their windows” and essentially, my opinion is they don’t give a damn. If they give a damn would we be doing the future Ship Road Couplet dance and worrying about ALL that development around Ship and 30? And how will that giant Cluster F affect my friends on Ship? Let alone the problem intersections like Ship and King which West Whiteland doesn’t seem to see?

Yeah….so what are the plans for the Weston Property? It’s a lovely swath of land with beautiful mature trees, wetlands, etc. It’s been verrrry quiet for a while about this property, but given the oddness of the “road” thing cut through the woods is that a pipeline something or a development something?

So according to West Whiteland it was 100+ somethings, and then as of October, 2020 it was the idea of 75 single family homes? Maybe it’s time to ask questions because between that and other development projects like Reserve at Glen Loch, Exton Knoll, Lochiel Farm, etc etc, they are approving it seems like everything and these project do not exist in a tiny bubble, they will affect not only THEIR township residents, but residents of surrounding projects.

It’s not right, it’s not fair, what the hell happened to responsible development?

The Weston Property being developed is going to dump even MORE traffic on King Road in both directions. East Whiteland residents will be screwed because it’s not their township and they really don’t care about East Whiteland residents objecting, but do they care about what any residents have to say? When Weston gets developed (because I do not think it is an “if”, merely a “when”) West King will be even MORE of a speedway, unless Weston development gets a traffic signal? And then there are the environmental concerns of the constantly disappearing open space, which will mean those down King from Weston will experience more stormwater issues than experienced at present, which can be significant – just look a Lake Little League at the little league fields driveway every time it rains.

Here are some photos of Weston at present. A truly lovely property.

Thanks for stopping by.

more collateral damage in gladwyne, pa from hurricane ida

Old real estate listing photo
for Gladwyne’s 1690 House – it was for sale a few years back.

Damage from Hurricane Ida was a hot topic among fair goers at the Harriton Fair yesterday. I know because I saw Lower Merion Commissioner Scott Zelov getting his ear bent about it, especially about the Mill Creek Road Bridge.

Now sometimes over the years I have been hard on Commissioner Scott Zelov. We know each other from things Lower Merion. But where I will always give him credit is unlike others, he shows up to events in Lower Merion Township, and listens and engages with residents. I especially give him credit for supporting Historic Harriton House and the fair because the commissioner whose ward contains Harriton can never seem to show up for anything there which I find strange because it’s a wonderful place.

Anyway, River Road in Gladwyne was hit horribly and other places in Lower Merion as well. But I did not know about other Ida collateral damage until this morning when a member of Gladwyne Civic posted the following (and I am re-posting verbatim):

‼️📌MILL CREEK ROAD BRIDGE
From Scott Zelov, LM commissioner: the Mill Creek Road Bridge at the 1690 House has to be demolished and re-constructed due to extensive damage from Ida. The engineering and design could take 9 months, and then construction could be another 9 months, meaning that the bridge won’t re-open until March 2023. This bridge is owned by Montgomery County, not Lower Merion Township. We are working with the County to try to compress both the design and construction periods. TO CONTACT COMMISSIONER ZELOV
https://www.lowermerion.org/services/township-secretary-s-office/board-of-commissioners/commissioners/v-scott-zelov 📌‼️

An old art item found on Internet of 1690 house.

This makes me really sad. The history of the 1690 house is amazing. There is this website called Living Places which has a history. I will share an excerpt:

📌The Mill Creek Historic District is located in Gladwyne, Lower Merion Township, on the west side of the Schuylkill River. Approximately ten miles from downtown Philadelphia, it is situated at the juncture of Mill Creek and Old Gulph Roads alongside of Mill Creek.

…,The area was originally settled by a Welsh Quaker named John Roberts “the miller” who purchased the rights to 500 acres of land in the Welsh Tract in 1682. Taking title to 250 acres; he set up his grist mill called “The Wain” by 1690 or earlier….The house at 543 Mill Creek Road is the oldest in the area and possibly in Lower Merion Township. Originally it was the log house of John Roberts, the Miller, c.1683. The house, which is commonly called “the 1690 house” has been expanded several times and now bears no resemblance to the original. It is 1 1/2 stories has brick chimneys, and dormers with slanting overhangs. Presently, it is sheathed with wood shingles. Over the years, Mill Creek Road has been raised giving the house the appearance of being in a gully.📌

Lower Merion Conservancy photo

The 1690 house is a private residence. It’s a gem. I actually had senior portrait photos taken at the old mill across the street- way before it was restored into a private residence.

Of course this begs the topic of bridges in this area. And roads under construction BEFORE Ida . Everything seems to take so long. Like the hanging rock on 320 and the road closure that is supposed to be done by November, 2021. The hanging rock AKA “Drummonds Head” is actually located in Upper Merion Township and they are supposedly shifting the roadway AWAY from the rock, so it’s got me wondering what they are doing to the creek on the other side?

But my point is even THAT is taking forever. And you can’t get around easily and it’s right where 76 has an exit. The Mill Creek Road Bridge being out will mean a need for a huge work around connecting parts of Lower Merion Township to other parts of itself.

But I am glad the 1690 house can be saved. Here’s hoping the re-engineering can lift it up some and save parts of the original structure to incorporate into the re-build.

Ida was a real natural terror and my heart goes out to the people who own the 1690 House and my friends on River Road and elsewhere. And no, I have not seen photos of the 1690 house post-Ida

Part of an old real estate listing of 1690 House.

changes: yellow springs farm is for sale

Catherine Renzi from Yellow Springs Farm came over last week to drop off plants. My current garden is one of many over the course of 20 years that I have incorporated plants from Yellow Springs Farm into.

During this visit, Catherine entrusted me with the news she and her husband Al are now allowing me to tell all of you: Yellow Springs Farm is for sale. And before we go any further, know one thing: this is a conserved farm. This land will remain protected in perpetuity from subdivision or development because Catherine and Al Renzi donated a conservation easement in 2001.

While many land parcels in Chester County are NOT safe from wanton development, Yellow Springs Farm is.

I have know Catherine for many, many years. Before there was Yellow Springs Farm, she was a well respected financial advisor and for a few years I was a sales assistant in her office. As a matter of fact, I remember when she said she was taking her life in another direction and she and Al were buying a farm. To many of the stock jockeys, that sounded crazy. To me, it sounded wonderful.

Although Catherine started out essentially a boss, she has become my friend over the course of many, many years we have known each other. I have been buying goods from her farm as long as they have been selling them.

Yellow Springs Farm is a magical place and so beautiful. It has been a happy place for me in Chester County over the years. I always knew spring was truly here when there was an open farm day, and I could see the new kids. Kids, aka baby goats, are among the most joyful animals to be around. Goats can be a little stinky, but they are funny creatures guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The Yellow Springs goats are now gone from the farm. They went to live at another dairy.

Change can be hard, and Catherine and Al didn’t make this decision lightly. BUT people are entitled to new and different chapters, and if I am honest, when I saw Catherine had picked up her paint brushes again and started creating beautiful paintings, I knew change was coming.

Now while their location might be changing, Catherine will still be offering landscape design and consulting services (and hopefully plants!) from a new, TBD location.

With Catherine and Al’s permission, I am sharing their note to their Cheese CSA members:

📌📝Yellow Springs Farm Native Plants Nursery and Artisanal Goat Dairy will close this Fall. After 20 years of goats, gardens and countless community connections, Al and Catherine Renzi are ready to begin a new life chapter.

We are extremely grateful for the knowledge, friendships and warm memories you, our valued CSA members, have shared over the years. We could not have pursued our mission of connecting sustainable landscapes with local foodscapes without our customers, colleagues, chefs and so many Farm supporters, near and far.

The Farm real estate is for sale, but it remains protected in perpetuity from subdivision or development because of the conservation easement we donated in 2001. We imagine new owners will live their dreams here, and continue to care for this beautiful place. The goats were the soul of the Farm. They are safe, and have moved to another dairy. We receive their milk to continue making cheese until later this Fall– likely November. The dairy and cheesemaking equipment is available for purchase. Nursery plants not sold this season will come with us to our new location TBD. Change is hard to process, but we are focused on being glad that YSF happened (2001-2021), not sad that it is coming to an end. When we started this adventure in 2001, and now again in 2021, we made choices to take chances, and look forward to change ahead with refreshed aspirations. Every ending is a new beginning

We will connect with community venues and other means to pursue our interests in nature, conservation, and local food. Catherine’s creative muse, and Al’s analytical penchant for science are alive and well. We will share specifics as we know more details in coming weeks and months.

Thank you for sharing this fulfilling, challenging life chapter with us. Your support and enthusiasm for our Farm has been priceless. A piece of this place lives forever in our hearts, and we hope you too have fond memories of Yellow Springs Farm.

With warm regards and heartfelt thanks,

Al and Catherine Renzi
📌📝

So there is the news. If you are a realtor or a potential owner who is a farm lover with a conservation soul, follow this LINK and this LINK to the listing and schedule a showing. The farmhouse is sensitively and beautifully updated, and some lucky family could move in “as is.”

Yellow Springs Farm sits on a glorious conserved 8 acre parcel. The farmhouse as mentioned is restored and dates to 1850. A spring house, a bank barn, run in sheds and more await the right owner. The barn has a fabulous 1 bedroom apartment, suitable as a rental or space for visiting friends/family. If you think it’s you, contact:

Linda Burgwin
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
Office Ph: (610) 225-7400
Cell: (484)- 716-0163

And no, I am not getting into the real estate listing promotion business. This is a special place and the Renzis are special people. Please if you are interested in the farm, schedule a visit through a realtor properly. Please do not just drive up the driveway for a look see.

Catherine and Al, you know I wish you nothing but the best and look forward to your next chapter. Cheers to you both!

To those interested in preserving the character of Chester County, be like the Renzis and consider conservation. Conservation and preservation go hand in hand.

the last day of summer…at life’s patina

Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm is one of my favorite places. It has been a happy place for me since I photographed it for the first time in August of 2012. I never get tired of taking photos there.

Meg (right) and one of her fabulous designing women/right hand women, Julie (left)

This morning marked the preview of the Fall Barn Sale at Life’s Patina. My friend and I plan a girl’s day around Meg Veno’s amazing events. We went to the early session which featured “brunch with a view”, and because we had lunch plans, brunch was actually my dinner. (We were all given “brunch boxes” when leaving.)

The barn was a dazzling array of fabulous vignettes from top to bottom. I showed restraint and stayed away from the Johnson Brothers china….which was really hard. But I couldn’t say no to the fabulous creations of Tracy Phillips from Reimagined Style! And I may have snuck a fox kit statue into my garden. And bath salts from Zoet Bathlatier.

Meg and her team do such an amazing job with these sale events! And they are always so pleasant and fun! The charity Life’s Patina is introducing many of us to this time is SpeakUp! and it’s there for teens. If you go, pick up their literature as they do great things.

The Life’s Patina Fall Barn Sale is open to the public September 24th, 25th & 26th:

📌‼️We are back!!! This September, we’re bringing you our latest fabulous vintage and new home accessories, decor, furniture, gift items, and architectural salvage at our Fall Barn Sale. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be open to the public without a scheduled appointment so head on over to peruse all of our artfully curated finds while taking in Fall at Life’s Patina. Local purveyors of fabulous artisanal foods will be holding tastings and creations from local artisans will be shown as well. A portion of all proceeds from the sale will be donated to the amazing Speak Up!, a nonprofit dedicated to helping teens develop supportive relationships with the adults in their lives.

Barn Sale Hours:

Friday, September 24th, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Saturday, September 25th, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sunday, September 26th, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm📌‼️

It was a wonderful way to spend part of the last official day of summer! I hope you will check out Life’s Patina this weekend! BRING YOUR MASK PLEASE!

otoro sushi: amazing

Salmon “Rose”

I love sushi. Especially really good, top of the line sushi and sashimi. Fish so tender, it practically melts in your mouth.

Sushi “Tacos”

My friends in Berwyn have been telling me about Otoro at 668 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn (down from 30 Main.) They are BYOB if you are going for dinner.

Amazing doesn’t even begin to cover it. Sublime might come close. Everything is super fresh and beautifully presented. The staff is super nice and just the right amount of attentive and helpful. The prices are fair.

I went there for lunch today with a friend after going to the Life’s Patina preview.

I can’t wait to go there again!

here we go again: a new battle for the brandywine

Photo from The Marshallton Conservation Trust (MCT) Facebook page which promotes the preservation and improvement
of the Marshallton community

It’s like development Whack-a-mole. We hear the news that Crebilly is safe for now and about literally like 5 minutes later this spectacular property on the outskirts of Marshallton is threatened by development given the sales and marketing materials on the listing. As per The Marshallton Conservation Trust’s Facebook page:

“1451 and 1452 Camp Linden Road and is often referred to as “Tarad Hill” and sometimes as the Bunny Meister Farm. It consists of 136 acres and includes land spanning from Northbrook Road on the west to North Wawaset Road on the East.”

~ Marshallton Conservation Trust September 9th, 2021

I do not know the property, but I have been by the approximate location in the past. What is left of horse country in Chester County (not being flippant but development eats up the land like a giant game of PAC-MAN in this county) is upset my sources tell me. This property is being big ass big time marketed and there is a website up called “The Brandywine.

Here are some screen shots:

The Realtor has serious chops. It’s Lavinia Smerconish, yes as in Michael Smerconish’s wife. Sadly, I wouldn’t expect him to necessarily be sympathetic to preservationists because real estate is quite simply in his blood, but wow, what if this was happening in Bucks County where he hails from originally? Would it resonate?

Realtors just have a job to do like anyone else, but wow just wow.

So here we go again, Chester County. A trust owns the land per the deed (and the name of the Trust shows up in Pocopson Meeting Minutes from February, 2021), but the address is oddly familiar isn’t it? Shame on them, but am I surprised? Nope.

Above is what the Marshallton Conservation Trust has to say. They left out expressing concern to the Realtor or famous husband. All I have to say is if you contact any of these people, be polite. It’s all sharks and lawyers.

“Traffic is slow on Northbrook Road!” ~ Friends of Radnor Hunt quote and photo 9/9/21.

I don’t know all (or a lot) of these horse-associated properties. However, the name of this place “Tarad Hill”, kept dinging in my brain. I knew I had heard of it, so I dug around to find the reference and it is Radnor Hunt Club. So not all who belong to Radnor Hunt belong to the foxhunt part, and not all who ride with the hunt are club members…but anyway, that is the reference and one can’t help but wonder, wonder, wonder what the foxhunters think? After all if this parcel gets developed in any manner, chances are they lose another prime location to ride in, right?

I don’t know. Chester County is kind of a development sh*t show at this point, so I don’t know if miracles will happen here and a conservation/preservation buyer will be found because when you read the marketing materials, it’s a just a fancy git’ r’ done and sold site, isn’t it? That is how it reads exactly – see it translated to Coldwell Banker, Opus Elite (and isn’t that company name absurdly pretentious AF?), Monument Southeby’s, ReMax in York, etc., etc.

Tarad Hill as a property is spoken about by people — apparently there is so much wildlife on that farm. Wild turkeys, bald eagles, herons, the list goes on. It is reportedly (and looks) magical. There is also historical importance. I was told the Hessians went through the property crossing at Trimble’s Ford on their way to defeat the “colonists” at the Battle of the Brandywine, causing Washington to retreat to Valley Forge for the winter. Yep, it’s more than just “Washington slept here”. Does it have bog turtles?

This property could indeed find a conservation/preservation buyer even from within the Chester County foxhunting ranks, but people have to want to save and preserve this. Of course all of the Chester County Realtors who go to Radnor, Devon, Polo matches etc, etc might have a client…you just never know, do you?

But right now, the song in Chester County remains the same: another big ass property with history is at risk. (If you would like to donate to the Marshallton Conservation Trust, follow this LINK HERE.)

Tally-Ho, Chester County, the preservationists need to ride again…and quickly.

Facebook photo found on Marshallton Conservation Trust page

BREAKING: miracles do happen – westtown said NO to toll

So it appears it’s over?

People are saying Toll Brothers is no longer the equitable owner of Crebilly because the contract was terminated, as per the group Neighbors for Crebilly/Brandywine in White. Therefore, Westtown Township Board of Supervisors then ruled tonight to deny the conditional use to build all those hideous houses.

I mean pinch me. I did have my third COVID-19 shot today so am I hallucinating? Or did this actually happen?

It happened.

Damn. It happened. A municipality actually said NO to a developer in Chester County. The only media reporting that I can see is Chaddsford Live which has covered this from the beginning.

For all you naysayers out there, this is what the power of the people can do. I have no idea what will happen next for this property. This isn’t the first development plan that has been proposed for Crebilly over the years and I don’t think it’ll be the last.

But for now, Crebilly is safe.

I would suggest in closing, that people in communities all over Chester County take the spirit of Crebilly into their municipality boardrooms and fight to preserve where they call home.

4th of july 2021

4th of July. Our country’s annual birthday party. It’s not just about fireworks.

On July 4, 1776, the United States gained independence from Great Britain by the Continental Congress when 12 of the 13 “colonies” voted for the separation from Great Britain.

However, a lot of people don’t have a warm and fuzzy feelings about the 4th of July. Some people are ambivalent. Some people like myself don’t like the overt commercialism that tends to follow American holidays around.

I like and appreciate the history. I think we need to remember and appreciate our history. Is it perfect? Were things like slavery and indentured servitude acceptable during part of our history and world history for that matter? Were most women treated like chattel? Yes and yes and yes. Those things are part of our history and were (again) also part of world history at that time. We need to acknowledge that past as a different time, yet part of what formed this country.

BUT it doesn’t diminish what our founding fathers accomplished because times were different.

Yesterday I celebrated part of my 4th of July weekend at Historic Harriton House in Bryn Mawr. I have loved this magical and historical place since I was introduced to it when I was 12 by a neighbor.

Harriton House was originally known as “Bryn Mawr”, and was once the residence of Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress. This was originally built in 1704 by Rowland Ellis, a Welsh Quaker, and was called “Bryn Mawr”, meaning “high hill.”

The town of Bryn Mawr in Lower Merion Township is named after the house, and the National Register of Historic Places has it listed under the original name.

Historic Harriton House yesterday

The history of Harriton is undeniable, as well as the connection to the founding of our country. So it was an absolutely perfect place to celebrate part of the 4th of July weekend! People were invited to picnic (and we made ice cream with an old fashioned and fully functional ice cream machine!) and there was a lovely program and music.

Harriton House around 1919

The program was introduced by a wonderful man I am lucky to know because we have mutual friends. Chef Walter Staib. He was proprietor of The City Tavern for decades, and most of you know him as the host of A Taste of History which you can find streaming or on PBS. A Taste of History is one of my favorite shows. I love cooking, I love history, including the history of cooking. (They are filming a new season now.)

Chef Walter Staib addressing the guests yesterday.

Born in Germany, Chef Staib emigrated to America many years ago. He became a citizen, started his family here. He became a US Citizen a couple of years before the Bicentennial. And as well as loving to cook, he is a perpetual student of history. His love for the United States was the perfect was to kick off yesterday’s program which also featured this truly amazing brass ensemble called Festive Brass. I have included two snippets filmed with a phone. Sorry, not the best but I wanted to share their sound with my readers. Beautiful and festive music.

Yesterday at Historic Harriton House the program was free of charge and they asked for a free-will offering. These beloved historic sites need and deserve our support. Look no further than to the historic sites owned by the National Park Service that are either closed to tours or just closed and moldering.

Closed and moldering would be a lot of the houses in Valley Forge Park like the Kennedy Supplee Mansion which I have written about twice.

Closed to tours would include the houses of my childhood in Society Hill like the Bishop White House and the Todd House, places I actually gave tours of leading up to the Bicentennial as a child. I love those houses and I helped plant the kitchen garden in the Todd House way back when. It was there I learned a deterrent for cabbage worms in the garden were marijuana plants. Seriously. Fun little fact of historical gardening.

Also closed is a place I remember being saved and restored as a child. Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s house on 3rd Street in Society Hill. Most of you probably have no clue this place exists or the historical significance. And I swear that place has been closed more years than it has been open. Also owned by the National Park Service.

The City Tavern for that matter, also owned by the National Park Service. Also shuttered now that Chef Staib is not there. That in particular, is truly prime real estate, so one would think they would be polishing up the tavern and marketing her for a new chef and restaurant in residence, right? But are they? Or will The City Tavern go the way of the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion?

Do you sense a theme? Sorry for the segue, but literally every time I go to Valley Forge I think of all the wasted potential of the historic structures. Not all have to be open for tours, but the National Park Service should be more open to restoration and adaptive reuse. I also feel the last administration in Washington harnessed the red, white, and blue of American patriotism for their own selfish ends (including abject ugliness and tyranny) and did nothing for preservation or true patriotism of any kind. And the current administration should get on the ball with preserving more of our history.

History is not something to be neglected and erased. It should be embraced, even the less savory and inconvenient parts because it is all part of how we got to be quite literally.

History, metaphorically speaking, is a living breathing thing we need to embrace and preserve. Even the parts we don’t like because when people try to erase history like it never happened, we are doomed to repeat past mistakes. Look no further that two world wars for proof of that.

Today on the 4th of July, I hope you all pause and think about our history. Think about our founding fathers who bled and fought and died for us. What they accomplished was no small feat.

Me and some friends, mid 1970s doing a costumed re-enactment in the kitchen at Harriton House.

And remember your favorite historic sites with even a small donation. Like Historic Harriton House in Bryn Mawr. Remember your local historical societies that help preserve our history and keep it alive.

🪶🇺🇸In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.🪶🇺🇸