yesterday, was not o.k.

Yesterday was not O.K. Yesterday was a study in horror. Yesterday we could have lost democracy and what makes America well….America. Every American regardless of creed, color, political affiliation, and so on should NOT be O.K. with January 6, 2021.

Watch the ITV video. I can’t post it here because of the raw violence it shows. [CLICK HERE ITV VIDEO] Also check out this photo array from Vanity Fair. Here is an excerpt of the article that goes with it:

VANITY FAIR: POLITICS
THE UNBEARABLE WHITENESS OF STORMING THE CAPITOL
If the Trump-incited rioters had been people of color, troops would have been out in force. And yet, there are positive lessons in the events of 1/6/21.

BY JIMMIE BRIGGS

JANUARY 7, 2021

Watching the mob scene on Capitol Hill over the last several hours, I was numbed by the whiteness that blanketed the screen.

As I get older, and possibly wiser, I find myself increasingly thinking about whiteness and of the mind-boggling degree to which my life as a Black American man has been impacted by it lately. Some 400 years since my ancestors were forcibly brought to these shores, and more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed them and their immediate descendants from enslavement, whiteness has dominated their (and now my) imagination, dreams of their/my future, and alas, even their/my joy.

To be clear, when I refer to whiteness, I mean the privileges, expectations, and elevated humanity afforded those in American society whose skin happens to be white; who exist daily in varying degrees of proximity to white people; who actively seek the affirmation of and their raison d’être from white people—and/or those whose aspirations for themselves, their families, and their communities are modeled on some kind of reflection of whiteness.

Today, this theme struck me with massive force. Televised scenes showed thousands of Donald Trump–supporting rioters and criminals, largely white and typically mask-less, descending on the nation’s largely Black capital.

I know according to Trump I am just a lowly suburban housewife, but my thoughts?

This is not America. And the last time the Capitol was stormed by invaders? 1814. Yes, sit with that a while. The last time was 1814 during the War of 1812 when British forces set fire to the Capitol. (You know when Dolly Madison was trying to save things in the White House?) These folks muscled by law enforcement and I am fascinated by what I saw on TV including when officers moved barricades to let the marauders in. I don’t know if that was tactical because they were being overwhelmed but it begs the question of why there wasn’t more of a law enforcement presence from jump?

One of those at risk yesterday was my friends’ daughter. She is young, and a Senate Page. I can’t imagine what her parents were feeling as this unfolded. I know I kept wondering how my own Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan was. And friends who just live in Washington D.C.


A special note to the one on Facebook a lot of my friends and I know who thinks we didn’t see her post “1.6.21” as a standalone post on her timeline. We saw. And she can delete what she posted and try to back peddle with people, but it will not change the ugliness she has deliberately been projecting with her posting for quite a long time. I still wonder if her little plastic housing development will secede from the union? And this woman was full of fake indignation and moral outrage at anyone suggesting those who stormed the Capitol were Trump supporters. Yes, seriously. I think she even had her virtual smelling salts out.


And for another woman who posted it must have been Antifa dressed as Trump supporters? Then honey, I must be the tooth fairy, and that must have been a Trump impersonator with Rudy Giuliani.


I will also note I know people that I believe are true patriots and they don’t behave like what you saw yesterday. And it wasn’t just some small percentage who were at fault because they got into the Capitol building. As we saw it unfold live before our eyes on television screens, computers, and smart phones from coast to coast, and around the world, that was the intent of the entire crowd. And was that the actual intent of Trump who really isn’t fit to be president even if he only has what? Two weeks left?


Yesterday was a crap show and that was 100% orchestrated by Trump and he is responsible and knew exactly what he was doing, so I hope you all who have gone unmasked for him at all those events are proud, because that all played a part in events leading up to this. You all have a degree of culpability. I watched everything yesterday unfold I couldn’t believe I was once proud for decades to be a Republican.

Yesterday was not democracy in action. This is not the constitutional right to express yourself and protest. This was ugliness, suborning anarchy, and basically acting like domestic terrorists.

I thought Joe Biden was marvelous when he spoke yesterday. My Congresswoman, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan said in a release to her constituents:

“The attack on our Capitol yesterday was unconscionable, but it was not inevitable,” said Houlahan. “It was a direct product of four years of division and dissent that has emanated from the very highest office in this country and a horrifying culmination of months-long baseless and unsubstantiated attacks on the very heart of our democracy. Those who carried out this attack and those who inspired it, implicitly and explicitly, must be held accountable.

My colleagues and I owe a debt of gratitude to those who worked to secure the Capitol, allowing the business of the people to continue. I was unequivocal last night and remain steadfast today that the work of this body, the work of the American people, cannot nor will not be halted, no matter the attacks levied against it.

We gathered yesterday in the tradition of the joint session of Congress to count the results of the Electoral College and to certify the victory of President elect Joe Biden and Vice President elect Kamala Harris. And despite the efforts of insurrectionists, we carried out our oath-bound duty.

I’ve heard many references recently to the War of 1812 and the attack on the U.S. Capitol but, as a Pennsylvanian, I am reminded of a particular different piece of our community’s history.

Many Americans have visited Philadelphia and the historic sites that are the cradle of our nation. Fewer people make it out to my community, which is home to Valley Forge. Here, General George Washington led the Continental Army to winter quarters. The Revolutionary War had not been going well for our young soldiers, and the winter of 1777-1778 was harder still. It was bitterly cold, there were food shortages and a smallpox outbreak. Many brave patriots died.

We remember what happened there because it was a test of endurance, a demonstration of devotion to mission and to country over self. Coming out of that awful winter and experience, our troops emerged better trained, united and ultimately victorious. In harsh, dark times, they found their common ground and their fortitude. The success was not by chance, General Washington led by putting service above self.

Just like then, it is in these trying moments where we learn who our leaders are. They are the ones who don’t just ‘represent’ or give orders, or ready us for a fight. They are the ones who also educate. Who speak the truth. They inspire confidence and unity rather than sowing division and strife.

There is a striking parallel between what our nascent country endured then in Valley Forge and what we are enduring now. A hard winter of division, with illness running rampant. And an uncertain future after yesterday’s attack.

Our country’s resolve is being tested. I believe we will pass this test together and we will be made stronger.

We owe it to the people of this country to move forward from this election with a focus on healing the divisions that have been created and on ensuring our communities build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. We must be a government that works for all people, a body politic that stands on the side of truth and justice.

We must move forward with a servant heart and a common resolve to preserve this great experiment that is the United States of America.”

These people yesterday are the ones who have listened to Trump since the election. Since he lost the election. They listened to his his repeated lies of election fraud. (Guess they all missed the part where he disemboweled the United States Postal Service so no one could vote successfully by mail?) Trump has undermined this country’s confidence in itself, and ourselves as Americans. It has been unconscionable and yesterday it turned violent. And yesterday they vandalized our Capitol. OUR Capitol. As a lover of history, I just do not get it.

And what else don’t I get is the double standard of treatment. If yesterday had been a women’s march, or a Black Lives Matter march, or anything else than what it was, how would the response have been? Hell they arrested Jane Fonda now a senior citizen again in December, 2020 at a climate change demonstration. The response disparity of yesterday is truly quite remarkable.

I have said it before, and will say it again, protesting is an American right by our very United States Constitution. I have done it. But not like that display of yesterday. But yesterday? That was destruction. That was an attempt to overthrow the government. Elections are won and lost, we don’t need to die over it. If these patriots would kindly remember this is why our forefathers fought so hard for us to have our lives today, it would be helpful.

It’s time for Trump to go away. Is their a straightjacket somewhere in his size? He does not get to destroy this country any longer like he has destroyed his businesses over the years. The true “art of the deal” is knowing when to fold ’em and leave…and please take your lovely family along with you, Donnie.

We have had four years of a nightmare reality TV show come to life. Trump, you’re fired. Now run along.

Thank you Twitter and Facebook for giving him a mute.

America the Beautiful? Let’s get back to that shall we? Thanks for stopping by and oh my oh my how many COVID19 cases will result in yesterday?.

ciao 2020. may you be a year not to be repeated.

I can’t take credit for that funny cartoon above as it is circling the Internet. But it is too perfect to ignore and just sums up this strange year we’ve survived.

Yes I thought about a week ago I had written my last post for 2020 and then things happened. I learned those who claim to be Christian and pious aren’t always pleasant on social media. And while I really appreciate the pastoral leadership at Covenant Presbyterian Church sending me an email to acknowledge my concerns, well, some of us discovered that we got word for word as in yes verbatim the same email. That made me a little disappointed in them, but it also made me realize that they just don’t get it (or don’t want to.) I still hope they abandon the fakakta idea for a 12 foot high LED sign in front of a historically charming church on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer. (And isn’t fakata just the most perfect word to describe so many things in 2020?)

And if we’re going to talk about giant electronics signs that look like movie screens and giant TVs come to life, it is worth remarking that West Whiteland has a planning commission meeting next week where yet another one of these giant digital billboards is being proposed. Yes, January 5th. And I predict much like East Whiteland and their “settlement agreement” which will face East Whiteland with a Sophie’s choice of where to put signs residents don’t want. And then there is Upper Merion Township. They have their own giant digital billboards issues. Same billboard company and same solicitor as East Whiteland. There is still a petition circling for them if you agree with all of the residents who don’t want zoning changed in parks to accommodate billboards. And in West Whiteland what is with the other billboard related LLC very close by to the one being discussed January 5th?

Other things on the hit parade of 2020 include another year of unending issues with the pipelines. Energy Transfer, Sunoco Logistics, pick a name they spent another year making a mess, putting residents at risk. One of my late fall favorites? Was seeing photos on social media of workers’ trucks parked in fire lanes at local shopping centers like they were big important people that couldn’t park in a spot, and what’s up with that FU to the community?

As we head into 2021 there is a story out of Lower Merion that no one’s talking about. It’s about that property adjacent to Stonleigh that Lower Merion School District “acquired” for playing fields after they bought the property on Montgomery Avenue (what once was the Clothier Estate) for the new school. OK so everybody knew that the County Line Road property was going to become playing fields. That’s not news at this point. But what bears pondering is exactly how many hundreds of trees is the Lower Merion School District going to take down in the end for these fields? This is a sizable property and it has heritage trees doesn’t it? It’s over 10 acres isn’t it? So that is a big chunk of property to deforest isn’t it?

Now I’ve heard neighbors over there in both Lower Merion and Radnor Township are very concerned about the trees of it all because this road straddles both municipalities in spots. Lower Merion School District’s Superintendent should give a rat’s fanny about the environment as involves the future of his students, right? One thing I have always wondered about this set of projects both for the school and the playing field is how is this going to affect skinny hilly windy County Line Road and some of the surrounding small streets near these projects? And aren’t first responders a little far away from both of these new education locations? So what does that mean in the future? Once again I reiterate how glad I am no longer on the Main Line and feel for my many friends who are still there.

Other things I won’t miss in 2020 is the conflicting ways people treat each other online in the same communities. Maybe it was because so many people were home and they spent way too much time on social media, but I think people have spent a lot of 2020 being miserable to each other in as much as others also have tried to lift each other up. I can tell you personally I am closing out 2020 feeling completely less patient with people. It is something I am going to work on for 2021, but I’m telling you right now it might be a struggle at times.

So how about the mask of it all? I am not going to get into the argument that has been almost the totality of the year of what stays open and what closes due to COVID-19 (including schools), but I am going to comment about what crap it is I think the people complain they have to wear a mask. I live an immunocompromised life. Elderly relatives live immunocompromised lives. I know so many people at this point personally and indirectly from all over the place (as in just not this area) who have gotten COVID-19 in 2020. And these were all people who were careful and wore masks.

I also think it’s crap with regard to the people who can’t keep their kids at home who then turn into super-spreaders of coronavirus at all ages and stages of life. No one has liked feeling as confined as we all have during the year 2020. No one has liked how it has affected our economy, our personal psychology, our sense of freedom. It has been a difficult year emotionally for everyone. Some people feel so isolated and alone. Even those of us who live with our families can have different times during the year where they could pinpoint feelings of loneliness and isolation.

We close the year with vaccines….finally. That will start up all the anti-vaxxers I’m sure, but I would remind them gently that this is no ordinary virus. And we have already seen in the past few years what an uptick of measles and other childhood diseases has done across the country. All I’m saying is, people please try to keep it together so we can get out of these various stages of quarantine and get back to life. It won’t be life as we once knew it as we are forever changed by 2020, but hopefully we can get there.

Another thing I will be glad to see in the rearview mirror is the ugliness of politics in the United States of America during the calendar year 2020. We have a new president to look forward to and that serial narcissistic sociopath who’s been living in the White House the past few years? I guess he’s going to be Florida’s problem isn’t he? He has continued throughout the holidays (including today) to try to make his case for anarchy and civil war while he discusses his imaginary voter fraud and “rigged elections”. Dude doesn’t get it that he was FIRED by the American people. FIRED. Here’s hoping that America’s political parties get their crap together so we don’t come this close to a dictator ever again, especially the Republican Party because they ALLOWED this to happen.

2020 was also the time of no longer tolerating racial injustice in this country and great sadness and anger as a result from coast to coast. People came together in the midst of a global pandemic over it. We should all offer up a prayer for a peaceful 2021 and meaningful resolution to some of these weighty issues. We the people as in all the people deserve as much.

2020 was a year of personal sadness for me. I said goodbye to people I really didn’t want to say goodbye to. And they didn’t lose their lives to COVID-19, but because of COVID-19 you couldn’t see anyone to say goodbye to those who were dying.

Other friends of mine faced heath crises that had to have been extra stressful every time they had to go in and out of a hospital setting. I know the two skin cancer procedures I dealt with had me holding my breath in and out and through the COVID tests before each procedure.

Now 2020 wasn’t all bad. I got to garden a lot and work on restoring my old quilts and that makes me happy. Fortunately for me I am more of a homebody than not so I have gotten through not seeing a ton of anyone at all but I do miss my friends and my family. FaceTime and Zoom just isn’t the same, but I will say I am grateful for the technology because being able to see someone when you’re catching up is a wonderful thing.

In 2020 we saw extremes all year long. Exhausting extremes at times. But hey, you know what? We are still standing. And that’s a good thing. We can do this. We can survive and get past this. We can see 2021.

For most this year, it will be a quiet New Year’s Eve. For us, pretty normal as we generally stay in. I keep seeing reality TV stars like Sonja Morgan flitting across Twitter and Instagram asking what we’re wearing for New Year’s at home. Not sequins. But I live in Chester County so I don’t think it would be sequins ever…haven’t really seen any live sequins since I moved here.

In my final reflection of 2020, I will freely admit that if we are honest with ourselves, 2020 taught us all things about ourselves and others. Some good things, some unflattering things. It’s all about human nature.

As we bid adieu to 2020 for sure it won’t be a fond, lingering goodbye. It will be an enough already move along nothing more to see here kind of goodbye.

Pope Francis said something this afternoon which has stayed with me: “We thank Good for the good things that have taken place during the pandemic, for the many people who, without making noise, have tried to make the weight of this trial more bearable.”

And for something else fun, click HERE for a lovely rendition of Auld Lang Syne from my lovely friend, Mindy Rhodes.

Wishing all of you a peaceful and happy New Year’s Eve as my 8th year writing this blog draws to a close. Cheers to 2021 and new and healthier beginnings for this country and around the world.

fire and brimstone

Well it turns out I have another post in me for 2020. And it’s about a 12 foot high sign for a church that contains LED. The church keeps saying the entire sign is not LED, so I will add that slight clarification although to me a 12 foot high sign with LED is a 12 foot high LED sign and the rest is a game of captain semantic.

A while back, Covenant Presbyterian Church on Lancaster Avenue or Route 30 in Frazer decided they wanted a new sign. They filed an application with East Whiteland Township:

I knew about this application because I had seen it somewhere on the East Whiteland Township website. I don’t recall exactly what it was but I think it was a meeting agenda or something. Digital billboards and electronic signs are a hot button topic in East Whiteland, and the township is currently in some settlement agreement with a shall remain nameless billboard company that will involve a true Sophie’s Choice of where do the ugly signs go to make this issue go away. Whatever happens it won’t truly be a win for the residents.Maybe the township solicitor will think it’s a win because it’s easier to push settlement conferences than to fight? Yes that is an actual question in my mind because I think the solicitor is just tired.

Regarding that find entire saga on the East Whiteland website HERE and see:

But back to Covenant Presbyterian. They want this sign. But it requires a zoning variance. So a hearing notice went out to a small amount of folks within the legal zoning notice defined area, and one local businesswoman posted about it in community Facebook groups. Word spread like wildfire. Some, like myself, had told the township prior to the hearing (which occurred last evening) how we felt about the proposed sign Covenant Presbyterian wants, and did so again, both by email and public comment before the zoning meeting was continued to January 25th at 7:15 PM (another zoom meeting.)

In the spirit of full disclosure I let the church elders/pastors know how I felt along with the township and community members.

What I said was:

Covenant Presbyterian Church does not NEED a 12’ high LED sign, they WANT one. Why is it a church of all things wishes to have a sign more appropriate for something on the Las Vegas strip or NYC’s Times Square?


Not to be irreverent, but God already knows they are there, as do all residents of East Whiteland. We can read their existing signage just fine and it is size and style appropriate for a church.


Let’s not forget the small LED sign of ridiculous brightness at Lincoln Court that no one controls and the numerous complaints to the township. Or the Gerhard’s sign that is also garish and too bright.


Also to be considered are the electronic billboard issues that the township is already embroiled in, which no one wants. If you approve this monstrosity of a sign at a church how does it affect other sign issues?


Other factors to be considered are light pollution and that is a very real worry. That is a proven environmental concern, just like it is indeed a distraction to drivers. And some drivers are blinded by these signs and I know people with medically documented neurological and health issues who can’t drive into the front of Lincoln Court because that sign which is lit 24/7/365.


Also shouldn’t we remember East Whiteland’s overpriced Route 30 corridor plan? Do you all really think people are going to want to live adjacent, next to, across, or down the road from this sign or any other electronic billboard? How is a sign like that in keeping with revitalization plans?


Does anyone care how this will affect existing residents who live close by?


This church wants to what amounts to an electronic billboard. It is out of character for a sweet looking church. It is an ugly and unnecessary concept.


The community deserves better.

Needless to say, my thoughts on the sign were not well received by the congregants. It became a full fledged digital online Salem Witch Hunt meets the Scarlet Letter. God help you quite literally if you dared said you were opposed to the sign. Most of the knitting needle-like prods were done by church ladies, and wow, right? Nothing like that cozy feeling of community fellowship, right?

All day these folks went at it in various community groups. Anyone who opposed the sign was anti-church and anti-christian. And then there were the ones who specifically did not like me because of what I said. I needed to be “reined” in. They said I did not understand what I was saying when I said “bless your heart.” That just made me laugh out loud when I read that. I actually do understand and I had actual southern ladies explain proper usage to me, bless their hearts. Yes I was deliberately sarcastic with some of them because their ridiculousness and fake piety deserved it. It was a day of God wants us to love our neighbors unless they are against a 12′ LED sign in front of the church.

We are all bad people if we don’t want this sign because their church wants this sign. Want being the operative term here. They don’t understand the difference between want and need, which is a somewhat important concept when it comes to zoning matters and proving hardship if denied or to avoid denial.

So then there was the meeting. 30 square feet overall to 49.8 square feet overall is what they want as per the Zoning Hearing Board that we heard on the meeting. That is not an insignificant difference is it?

And a want at the end of the day is not a hardship. The man presenting the church plan also essentially said they want a bigger sign because others have big signs. Not churches, businesses. And then there was that question they raised of a different zoning classification and to that a resident asked the simple question if they wish to reclassify, will they also pay taxes since non-profits generally escape them on real estate? (That was met like the proverbial fart in church as a comment.)

Throughout, East Whiteland’s Zoning Hearing Board lawyer gave both helpful and unhelpful commentary. This attorney’s law firm also does some work for Easttown I am told? Like East Whiteland’s solicitor is also the solicitor of Upper Merion? So many municipalities are related by these relationships and don’t even realize it, do they? (But I digress.)

My comment shortly after they determined party status and before they continued the meeting until January 25th at 7:15 PM (and I keep reminding you because East Whiteland’s Zoning Hearing Board attorney kept reminding people there would be no other notice and heck they didn’t even post last night’s meeting notice until this morning) was simple:

I am struggling after listening to the church’s presentation and what amounts to me as a sort of straw man argument on the part of the church. And I mean the church no disrespect saying that, because the good work and good deeds of the church have never been in question, and truly and sadly can’t really be justification for a sign change like this. No hardship has been proven, and again need vs. want are two very different conversations.

I also remarked as a breast cancer survivor of several years still on cancer meds, one of the side effects is the fact the meds affect my vision. I am growing cataracts. Not huge ones at this point, not at a medical point to be removed, but it means that super bright lights have a very negative effect and some of those LED signs (like the one at Lincoln Court) almost have a temporary blinding effect or I see lots and lots of spots. I also remarked how people with know neurological defects that are medically documented go out of their way to avoid these signs, including in our own community.

Why is it that these signs seem to be more important than how the residents feel about them and how they affect residents?

Here is a summation from someone who was on the call. Their words, not mine:

Last evening’s meeting was instructive and illustrates, yet again, how Zoning Hearing Board’s are not staying true to their mandate.


The Covenant Presbyterian Church applied for a variance in regards to a new sign they wish to erect on Church Road and Route 30 where the currently have a 30 square foot, old fashioned sign. The regulation in East Whiteland states that signs should be no more than 20 square feet in that zoning district and 8 feet tall. I presume the applicant was grandfathered in under older rules.

Fine.


The applicant wishes to erect a 50 square sign that is 12 feet high. They provided no real hardship but one of the individuals did recite all the good work they do in the community. I am certain that is true and people I know, who are against the placement of the sign, tell me that is case. That has ZERO bearing on this matter. The fact is that the applicant needs to illustrate a true hardship.


This is a “dimensional” variance which carries less of a standard than a “use” variance. Still, this is the benchmark the applicant must meet – “the standard approval for a dimensional variance is “practical difficulty”, which courts have defined to mean that strict compliance is “unnecessarily burdensome” and granting the variance would “do substantial justice to the owner”.


The applicant came nowhere near this in their presentation. Frankly, I was embarrassed for them. The reason they want to do this is because they want the sign. Even one of the Board members (I believe it was the Chair) said, “I am having a hard time finding a hardship here”.

Precisely.


This should have been a clear denial. Many residents spoke on this matter, the majority in opposition. This includes at least 2 members of this group. They were spot on with their remarks. Additionally, a business owner across the street who opposed the sign stated, “if you make this exception, I will be back for mine next”.

Exactly.

The slippery slope. Did I mention that half of the sign will be a bright, LED with changing messages? Yes, the same type of nonsense we see at the Giant with the light that is blinding.


A denial did NOT happen. Instead, the Zoning Hearing Board decided to enter into public negotiations with the applicant. It was like an episode of “Pawn Stars”. How about 40 feet? Well, we need it a bit lower. Oh gosh, maybe a little bit but we are not sure how much lower we can go. Yes, that is a paraphrase but it is what happened.


The role of the Zoning Hearing Board is to adjudicate on the matter at hand. They were to rule on whether or not there was sufficient hardship for the applicant to receive relief on a 50 square foot, 12 foot tall sign. That is it. Yes or no. It is NOT their role to negotiate. That should happen with Planning Commission. Then, the PC can provide a positive or negative recommendation to the ZHB who should still apply the same hardship standard for a dimensional variance as detailed above. What occurred last night was a complete joke. The applicant needs to meet that standard as long as they are proposing to erect a statue that is not within the zoning regulations. I could see relief for a 30 square foot sign since that is what they have currently. If there is no hardship at 50 feet, there is still no hardship at 40 or 35 feet. Essentially the ZHB is shifting the burden off of the applicant which goes against the Municipal Planning Code of PA. But hey, does that really matter anymore?


Contrary to the opinion of some, the burden is NOT on the public to first prove harm in this case. The first hurdle is for the applicant to show a true hardship. Incredibly one of the applicants stated that a smaller sign would not be a hardship and a member of the board basically agreed.


Yet, the matter was continued until January 25th so the applicant could make another proposal. This relief should have been denied. Then, the applicant could reapply with a smaller sign if they chose to go that route. The way Zoning Hearing Boards are acting now (and we have seen this in Easttown and Tredyffrin) is NOT in the interest of the community at large.


Regrettably, it is extremely difficult to remove members of a Zoning Hearing Board before their terms are up even if there is justification. I won’t go as far as to say that is necessary here but I know in another township a board member should have been removed already but is still serving due to the reluctance of the township to do what is necessary.


It is up to US to be a check on the Zoning Hearing Boards. We need to hold elected politicians (and those running) accountable for their appointments. Automatic renewals (like those that occur in Easttown for example) for members of Planning Commissions and Zoning Hearing Board must end!

This Zoning Hearing Board meeting last night made me remember the first one I ever attended as a then brand new resident. I went because of a proposed land subdivision that would directly affect our next door neighbors and us via potential stormwater management and I wanted to make sure I knew where the septic was going (which incidentally didn’t end up exactly where it was supposed to for whatever reason.)

At this very first Zoning Hearing Board meeting now years ago, I literally knew no one except the neighbors and them barely. Ironically I knew who the then Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor was because they were politically active with the Radnor Township Republicans way back when or something along those lines. A lot of the Zoning Hearing Board Members back then were elderly and I swear one gentleman in particular kept nodding off. He looked like central casting for the cute grandfather and in fairness, zoning meetings are not always exciting.

At this meeting I met some General Warren Villagers for the first time. They were there because of the then Cube Smart proposal (which is now built.) I remember feeling like they weren’t treated very well as residents which to me was surprising because Lower Merion Township Zoning Hearing Board was always decent to residents even if they had to reprimand them during a meeting.

The way meetings were run where I was from versus moving out to Chester County were and are vastly different. We had a literal timer on public comment (3 minutes individuals, 5 minutes groups), but at Lower Merion Commissioners meetings, public comment wasn’t always the last thing. And the zoning and planning were vastly different and so were the lawyers representing the municipalities. Zoning decisions were never instantaneous and the lawyers on the zoning hearing board in Lower Merion ran a tight ship and treated it like court proceedings. Everyone understood the boundaries and the procedure. Out here I am still trying to figure it out at times, and we’ll leave it at that.

I personally feel that the LED sign issue with Covenant Presbyterian should not have proceeded last night. I kind of think it should have been pulled from their agenda. I do not believe I will change my mind between now and the Zoning Hearing Board continuation meeting on January 25th at 7:15 PM.

However at the end of the day what I find the most troubling about the issue is the way residents who are supporting the church and are even members of the church or are possibly even related to people in the church are behaving and how can you blame anyone for having concerns? And this doesn’t just happen with these particular people over this issue. It’s the behavior patterns that some groups or even communities of people are seemingly oblivious to.

Yesterday in addition to the flame wars on community Facebook groups, there were the private messages people received. Some annoying, some borderline threatening, all inappropriate. They are just as bad as what happens if you dare criticize a school board or school district out here. And the messages and comments on the sign issue resumed after the meeting had concluded.

If you are against the sign, you are an enemy of the church community as far as these people are concerned. One guy also complained about those of us who protested the sign and participated in the meeting because there were very few people who showed up to the meeting in support of the sign and spoke. I mean HUH??? That is such a head scratcher because how are we responsible for the church supporters not showing up and publicly stating they support what their church is doing? Then there were the people who said all people online do is whine to the people who actually tuned into the virtual meeting if not participated with public or written comment. Again …..HUH?????

I actually had a very nice email from Rev. Dr. Moyer of Covenant Presbyterian today. He is a nice and thoughtful man by my estimation, but sadly that is not enough to mean they will get oe should get their variance on a sign they want but don’t really need. It’s great they want to get their message out, but the world is their oyster and an LED sign 12′ tall is not the only avenue of communication in this big wide world in which we live. I did write back to him my thoughts. I am happy to share them here:

Dear Rev. Dr. Moyer,

I truly thank you most kindly for taking the time to respond to me. It speaks volumes as to your personal character.

I will be honest that I still am against a sign that is LED and whether it is all LED or partially LED is somewhat of a conversation of semantics. I would like to think you can get your word out most effectively without having to do it with LED at all. And that is really what the community wants.

However, a bigger (and hopefully short term problem) there are many of us in the community, now myself included, who don’t know that they will ever truly feel comfortable or welcome for at least a while in the presence of anyone from your church community given the way people who are against the sign were treated by church members on social media.

Perhaps you and your fellow pastors do not feel responsible for how your flock behaves on social media and outside the four walls of the church itself, but it certainly bears reminding to all that they are the larger face of your church. After all, that is often what draws us as human beings to houses of worship: the people we know or have met who are already there.

I was not happy to have to deal with these people from Covenant yesterday and I was disturbed at the woman who suggested local businesses who were concerned about the sign should be boycotted. I don’t find that to be particularly Christian.

And the suggestion to not patronize any local businesses in a year where so many have gone wanting made it just wrong. Maybe I see this a little more personally than others because I have friends in other areas who are out of work, have lost family members to COVID-19, and or have had to make the sad decision to close a small business because COVID-19 made it impossible for them to stay open.

I realize because some of the people defending the church sign are literally family, and also because a lot of your membership feels like family they feel more strongly even than us on the outside over this issue. But to verbally barrage fellow community members like that gives me pause. Not wanting the sign is most certainly NOT an attack on your church or being Christian, it’s simply NOT wanting the sign for whatever reason.

In the past, I am one of those people that used my position in the community as well as my social media abilities to get the word out when your church needed donations for things like the food bank. There are times when God didn’t necessarily give me the bank account to write hefty checks, but he gave me a voice for a reason. And I always try to use it for good.

After yesterday, I’m going to have to hit the pause button before I’m supportive again, and that actually is a crisis of conscience for me because you’re a church. But community people who belong to your church need to act like it. And I say that as someone who was raised Catholic and knew wonderful priests and nuns growing up, and have also had friends for years who are among the truest Christians that I have ever met, as well as those who are Protestant ministers and pastors elsewhere.

But to throw verbal stones at people because they are not mirror images of who you are and what you believe is something that always troubles me – and I’m not just saying this is a fault of the members of your church because it’s most certainly not. It’s a negative aspect of human nature that I sometimes ponder. It’s also sort of like a community-wide disease around here sometimes. And as a man of God, I think you can understand that. Except because you have been a pastor for so many years, you can look past this more easily than a lot of us regular folk.

Again, I am happy that you took the time to respond to me. You seem like such a nice person and I wish we could be on the same side of this sign issue. But sadly this is an issue greater than your church and one which weighs heavily on the community at large.

I am sure I will see you virtually at the next meeting, and maybe sometime when COVID-19 is behind us we could have coffee or tea and meet in person.

Thank you also kindly for the blessings, after 2020 we all can use them no doubt.

Next is how this post got the title it did. It is because of these people who want the sign and belong to or support the church being so unpleasant that I titled this post fire and brimstone. It’s the way it made me feel. That whole Salem Witch Trial Scarlet Letter effect.

Something however I read that gave me hope was a nice way a local women said her “no” to the LED sign:

Please reconsider. Mary and Joseph didn’t need anything but a star to guide them. The Lord himself knows you don’t need a lit up sign to gain parishioners or to share messages

Next up is the January meeting. In between I am sure lots of community discussion. Or what I hope will be actual discussion versus social media flame wards and gang mentality.

Here is hoping in 2021 people learn to behave a little differently towards different opinions.

Here’s hoping in 2021 people more locally can actually learn to appreciate the differences in other human beings for whatever reason. People talk a good game about inclusion and understanding but it’s time to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Peace out.

No photo description available.
Flat Hal the plot plan man is 5′ 8″ tall. Him next to the sign is an idea of human scale.

gather wisely. give thanks.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A very beloved national holiday. And yes it is the year 2020, or the year of COVID19 and ugly politics.

However, it’s also the year that as a country we have started to come together and say enough to the specter of racism which has haunted our country for a very long time.

It’s definitely a year where more seems broken than fixable. Yet here we are. And we’re still standing. So we should indeed come together and give thanks.

Our first Thanksgiving in this country was basically people coming together to give thanks that they survived. I think that should resonate with all of us after the way 2020 has treated us.

In Pennsylvania, people are fixated on the fact that a lot of people won’t be able to go out to bars tonight. That they’re shutting down the sales of alcohol after a certain time. I was somewhat disgusted last night to see on the news a bar that was opening at 6 AM so they could make sure they serve all their drinks. In my humble opinion that’s playing Russian Roulette with their lives and the lives of others and is morally questionable.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of friends in the service/hospitality industry. Businesses are suffering terribly. But we’re talking about a global pandemic which is already spiking again way past our wildest imaginings. I know people whose restaurants have closed and will never reopen which makes me really sad. But I think wanting to keep people from gathering in large numbers right now isn’t a bad thing. It’s more like common sense. I have said it before to let history be your guide. Look at the last time a global pandemic gripped this country in 1918. In the Philadelphia area alone, it’s spread like wild fire because the parade wasn’t canceled.

If you want to support your local restaurants and businesses, and want to be safe, contact them and find out what kind of gift cards or gift certificates they offer. That will keep money coming into them and keep everyone safe until people feel more comfortable. Maybe it won’t be the monetary bonanza that everyone seeks this time of year, but if enough of us do that a lot of these places might be able to squeak by until 2021 when hopefully life will return if not to the old normal, a new normal.

Like it or not, and again let history be your guide, life will be a new normal. It won’t be the same old same old. And maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe this life reset we have experienced in 2020 has a larger meaning. Maybe it’s wanting us as Americans to get back to basics and appreciate what we already have and not be spoiled about what we don’t have right now.

Someone said to me yesterday that they weren’t going to really decorate for the holidays and even set a pretty table for Thanksgiving. I disagree wholeheartedly. I think if ever there was a year where we should deck the halls and use our good dishes, it’s this year. What are we waiting for? Maybe our pods will be smaller and our holiday tables won’t be bursting at the seams, but we’re alive. And we have survived 2020 thus far.

Instead of the glass half empty, maybe it’s the glass half full. It’s not what we thought the year would be when we rang it in on January 1, but it’s the hand fate has dealt us.

Give thanks tomorrow for what you still have and the people you still have in your life. Give thanks to the memories and the good times of the people who are no longer with us. Remember them fondly and with laughter. Just try to put aside the negative energy that has had us in the grip of stress all year long. And I really wish that the news would stop interviewing fools not wearing masks at places like major train stations complaining that their personal liberties are being impinged upon as they’re getting ready to board a train to go visit family. How about all of those complaining stop being selfish for five minutes? Maybe it’s not all about these lovers of purportedly missed freedoms, maybe it’s respecting and loving your family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers enough that everyone does things differently this year. It’s one year. And maybe you don’t believe that there is a virus, but given all of the millions of people who have died worldwide? Their families might beg to differ. We’re all a long time dead, right?

So tomorrow parades, football, and our Thanksgiving tables themselves will look much different. But we should still celebrate and give thanks for still standing at this point in this crazy ass year.

Gather wisely. Give thanks hugely.

Wishing all of my readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

wow. just wow. what a day!

Thank you Twitterverse for this giggle.

Wow.

It has been a long week in this country. And an even longer election season.

I am a realist and I know that the anger and vitriol is going to continue for a while longer. I really wish it wouldn’t, but I don’t think people know how to be anything different right now.

To Joe Biden and Kamala Harris I say well I sure picked the year to go blue, didn’t I? I have to admit I am feeling surprisingly emotional right now over your win, that and massive relief. Thank you for not giving up on us out here. (No, I don’t expect them to respond to me I’m not anybody special I’m just an every day American.)

I know I am not a true Democrat in the sense of the true Democrats that I know because I am late to this party. As I have maintained all along, I am more of a situational Democrat because I knew in 2016 when you-know-who became the nominee I was no longer a Republican because he didn’t represent my values or what I felt the values of the Republican Party were. I felt then like America was being punked.

In my heart I still believe that to be true.

I remember plenty of great Republicans and the party that was thoughtful and of Lincoln and of moderation. I have been told by friends of mine for years that I am more like a New England Democrat because I am more socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I still feel like I am more of an Independent than anything else so I don’t know that being an actual Democrat will stick long-term.

For this country to heal and swing back towards the center where it belongs, it has to swing a little in the other direction now. That does not mean that the United States of America is becoming a socialist country. And anyone who projects that is just wrong. Just like saying all Republicans are bad or all Democrats are bad or all Libertarians are bad or all Green Party people are bad is ridiculous.

We all know that the lawsuits are going to continue to be filed for a while. Rudy Giuliani needs a retirement project, after all. And let’s talk about him for a minute shall we? What a disappointment he ended up morphing into!

I believe it’s still going to be a bit of a process to get to inauguration day 2021. And I wonder with COVID-19 what this coming Inauguration Day 2021 will look like?

My reaction to Biden going over the top was somewhat delayed. I first I wasn’t sure if it was true or not. Then I yelled “yippee” in the garden, and I am not sure who heard me. Then I most unexpectedly felt slightly teary as well as overwhelmingly relieved. I had deliberately not been focusing on the news 24 hours a day much like when the Eagles won the Super Bowl I applied the same philosophy- I didn’t watch.

But this isn’t the end of “Crisis America”, it’s just a new chapter starting. Are we capable of putting all the nastiness aside and coming together as a country? We have to do that to survive as a nation.

To my friends that are true patriots and the real Republicans in the original sense of the word, I am sorry. I know this is going to be an adjustment for all of you. But Trump was never really a Republican and never will be. He’s like a one-man circus under the big top. Showman and charlatan, malignant narcissist and borderline sociopath. But he’s not and never has been a true Republican. He is a reality show in the White House that just got canceled.

To those whom I feel are total political hypocrites, please give it up. Your fake moral outrage and utter pretense of pretending to be genteel are as tired as Donnie on Twitter. Just stop. You will survive Biden in the White House much better without the fake palpitations.

It’s a beautiful day and a somewhat historic one. Here’s hoping America can come together for a brighter tomorrow.

Here is what Dan Rather had to say this afternoon:

Anyway what a day, right? And no I am not gloating. Like many people I am simply so tired after the past four years and especially this election season and 2020 with COVID-19 in general.

Even if your candidate is not the winner this time around, democracy is to be celebrated or maybe just respected. Look what happens when every day Americans throw off their cloaks of apathy and vote.

Enjoy the day. Be happy. Live your life.

Hugs and kisses from just another Suburban Housewife.

a wish and a prayer

What a grey, miserable, damp, dark day. In a year where many of us have too much time alone with our own thoughts, today’s atmosphere makes it a day to hibernate and ponder, doesn’t it?

Spotify has this time capsule playlist. Listening to it has made me reflective and a little pensive. Right now Simply Red “Holding back The Years” is playing.

Lyrics
 Holding back the years
 Thinking of the fear I've had so long
 When somebody hears
 Listen to the fear that's gone
 Strangled by the wishes of pater
 Hoping for the arms of mater
 Get to me the sooner or later
 Holding back the tears
 Chance for me to escape from all I know
 Holding back the tears
 'Cause nothing here has grown
 I've wasted all my tears
 Wasted all those years
 Nothing had the chance to be good
 Nothing ever could, yeah
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on, so tight
 Well I've wasted all my tears
 Wasted all of those years
 And nothing had the chance to be good
 'Cause nothing ever could
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 I'll keep holding on
 Holding
 Holding
 Holding
 Holding
 I said
 It's all I have today
 It's all I have to say

Those lyrics are still profound, maybe moreso. It makes me think of the friends I have lost. Bright lights, but they burned too fast. One overdosing thanks to addictions they would not admit to, another to I think that their body just giving out after years of substance abuse even though they cleaned up their act for decades. One although still technically alive, had her life end when she wrapped herself around a tree one night…very intoxicated. There was even one who “fell” off their apartment balcony in NYC. There are sadly more, but these are the ones who come to mind.

Now the one in the massive drunk driving incident? She is still alive as far as I know but the traumatic brain injuries at the time essentially made her a child once again, with a child’s memories. So essentially, after the accident she didn’t know who I was, it was like she was a kid again and her memories just didn’t exist after a point. And her parents quite frankly did not make it easy for you to visit and she was also a paraplegic in a wheelchair, so I was young and eventually just stopped going. I still think of her often. She was such a good person and so bright. But one night, someone gave her the keys to her car back after they had been taken away. She would have been an awesome mom, I think, and we will also never know what trajectories her career would have skyrocketed to.

Damned if I know why I still think of all of these people, but I do. I think because I don’t think they would have had a easy time living through 2020. I mean, look at the rest of us, right? None of us are perfect, and even with the blessings our lives have, it’s one damn hard, stressful, sad year.

I have written about this before during 2020, but it all seems to be coming to a head again: COVID19, racism, truly ugly politics, and more. If these friends had survived, where would they be?

It also makes me think of people whom I am no longer connected to by my choice mainly, but sometimes theirs. One in particular whom I felt was so alone before 2020. The thing 2020 has taught a lot of us is the sad lesson that although we should have compassion for the struggles of others, we need to be mindful of our own families first. So what happens to these people? Do they just fall between the cracks of life?

Lyrics
 Has anyone ever written anything for you
 In all your darkest hours
 Have you ever heard me sing
 Listen to me now
 You know I'd rather be alone
 Than be without you
 Don't you know
 Has anyone ever given anything to you
 In your darkest hours
 Did you ever give it back
 Well, I have
 I have given that to you
 If it's all I ever do
 This is your song
 And the rain comes down
 There's no pain and there's no doubt
 It was easy to say
 I believed in you everyday
 If not for me
 Then do it for the world
 Has anyone ever written anything for you
 In your darkest sorrow
 Did you ever hear me sing
 Listen to me now
 You know I'd rather be alone
 Than be without you
 Don't you know
 So, if not for me, then
 Do it for yourself
 If not for me then
 Do it for the world
 Poet priest of nothing
 Poet priest of nothing
 Source: LyricFind
 Songwriters: Stevie Nicks / Keith Olsen

Yesterday I posted “A lot of people are struggling right now. This has been a crazy tough year. Send up a prayer to mankind so that people know they are loved.

I mean that. But where I am conflicted is some people I know who are struggling have to find the inner steel to climb out of the hole they have dug for themselves, all by themselves…as in we can’t do it for them or enable them in any way. And for so many people right now that seems an impossible feat. Why? Because 2020 is the year the unimaginable is happening…every damn day.

And then there are the people who want to climb out of the self-dug hole but say “It’s hard, I tried.” No sugarpuffs, life can be damn hard. But please, do it for yourself and those who love you. But will they? I don’t know. I hope so, but I don’t know.

2020 is the year of self-conflict (in a sense and I will explain.I think. I hope.) Human beings are not stand alone beings necessarily. We need each other. But COVID19 is isolating a lot of us. Some of us could really use a hug or just human contact. But there is the whole virus thing. Today I gave a friend a hug. I kinda know where she has been and what she was up to. She needed a hug. Maybe I did too. Not sure.

I have days where I just marvel at people. Especially on social media. It’s like normal social media has morphed into this whole virtual mean girls platform on steroids. People are just online assassins some days, and often you have to wonder for what? Because you are different from them?

And then there are the people who in the face of 2020 seem to have to post additionally how marvelously their lives are….and you know their lives are anything but happy, and wonder why can’t people admit when they are having bad days or a series of bad days? Would it be so bad? To me it’s preferable to living the grand illusion.

And the people who are struggling? Sadly now you can start to recognize it. So much of our life has become virtual, that you can see far more easily when the cracks are showing. So what do you do? You try to be there…but this is a year we also have to be there for ourselves and our own families.

There are people you would never think suffered from depression…who are. And people who prior to this kept their issues to themselves, but because of COVID19, life is just extra scary. And then there are yes the people who are milking 2020 to get as much free stuff out of people as possible. That really bothers me. And no, not being jaded, it is happening quite a bit.

There are many people I know who are sick or who have been sick. No not COVID19. Just other horrible stuff, like the ever popular Russian Roulette of step up and pick a cancer.

It feels like every day you hear something crazy. I just heard about the barn fire in West Pikeland Township on Yellow Springs Road. It had all of the sets, tools and supplies for the SALT Performing Arts. They do wonderful things and the arts are so at risk thanks to the economic downturn because of COVID19, and prior changes to tax codes that affect charitable donations. If you can give SALT Performing Arts a donation, please do. No homes were lost and no one was hurt, but wow what a blow. Do they do old fashioned barn-raisings anymore? I hope they do because I think that was probably a historic barn too. And don’t forget your local volunteer fire companies and first responders. They are our heroes in ordinary time.

We all just need a break from 2020, I think. Except I also feel 2020 has made us pause for the self reflection that makes us appreciate what we do have. I feel very grateful for my life and family…yes even when they are driving me crazy. (Like the one playing video games loudly a room over from the home office I am typing this in.)

2020 has just been one exceptionally crazy year for the annals of history. It will be the year we all remember with far more detail then the future will want us to. But what will we learn from all of this? I mean we certainly won’t forget the year from hell known as 2020.

I hope you appreciate I made it through the post without mentioning a certain malignant narcissist occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Like all narcissists he hates when things aren’t about him, so the parting shot? #VOTE like your life and country depends upon it…because it does.

Stay safe out there and check in on people.

2020 is the year of comfort food overload and more humor and faith needed

It’s funny how cooking and gardening have helped make the crazy of 2020 fade for finite amounts of time. Maybe it is because I enjoy both.

This is not a recipe post. This is about how I feel headed into the last quarter of 2020.

I woke up this morning utterly sick of people and the way they are behaving. Between COVID-19 and the election, the constant barrage of smack talking crap is just too much some days. So this morning I started a loaf of sourdough bread and made some fresh tomato sauce with sausages so I could make a pasta sausage bake this evening.

Comfort food.

Like gardening, cooking is calming for me. It centers me. Maybe because it is such a basic purpose of life.

The whole feeding and cooking for people thing makes me think of a chef I know. I was taking photos for him once and he said to get a photo of diners breaking bread (each table had a small loaf of bread.) He remarked that people remember that simple act of breaking bread. It was a nice thing to remember this morning in the midst of crazy.

COVID-19 is still here. Infection numbers are rising because people are becoming complacent, or they are listening to #PresidentCOVID tweet his madness 24 hours a day which includes there is no problem with COVID-19 even if he did just get out of the hospital. (And when all else fails, there is the parallel universe of FOX News, even if it seems media mogul owner Rupert Murdoch is predicting #PresidentCOVID will lose.)

It seems the worse the news gets on T-rump, the more fanatical the devoted become. I think people who remember WWII era and post-WWII era dictators are probably the only ones who would have ever seen such behavior before. It’s also like a fanatical religious tent revival from the Great Depression. It’s like watching the proverbial train wreck/car wreck/plane wreck. You know you should look away, only you don’t, and then you get a headache…and the behavior is just depressing…and so sad.

Photo courtesy of Main Line Coyote on Twitter. Somewhere in Chester County.

I understand there are those out there who are solid conservatives who feel duty bound to vote the straight party ticket no matter what. Dinosaurs, some beloved to me, but dinosaurs nonetheless. I don’t begrudge them their voting choices, why do they begrudge me mine?

As Americans, we have to vote the way our own heart and own mind tell us to. Or in theory that is the way it is supposed to work, only it’s not, is it? In years past, I was equally appalled and fascinated by people outside polls in Ardmore, PA telling people to “vote the way we told you to.” And it still goes on, every election cycle. If you can even get people to the polls because a lot of people talk a good game and never actually vote, which blows my mind as I find it to be one of our greatest rights as Americans.

Somewhere else in Chester County. Thanks to Lost NYer on Twitter

I have had a long journey from Republican to Democrat with Independent in between. I still wonder if I am more of a situational Democrat, because it’s the state of this country , the various and continual mind boggling situations that brought me here. I do marvel because I was so resolute in my Republicanism, until 2016. Then it was like I lost and old friend, mourned them, and had to move on. I do not know what my political future holds and that does actually bother me but I know what calls itself the Republican party is not the Republican party I once knew, believed in, or volunteered for during the RNC 2000.

What else do I mourn? Civility in conversation even with supposed long-term friends. Especially lacking on social media. It’s all anger and vitriol, both sides of the political aisle. And when you sit still somewhat Malcolm in the Middle, it just takes your breath away. And more often than not, the worst offenders are women. Ladies we are not Stepford Wives, we all are not supposed to think, drink, chirp, and dress in unison. The behavior is so limiting…for them.

2020 has made me revisit the music of all stages of my life. Supertramp, first listened to in Strasbourg, France in the late 1970’s on a little portable record player. Take The Long Way Home. Old Fleetwood Mac. Old Genesis like Follow You Follow Me and Crosby Stills Nash and Young Our House which I remember where I was the first time I listened to it: the basement of my sorority the fall of 1981. I was homesick and used to do my homework in the downstairs of the sorority and listen to the records there.

Also revisiting Carly Simon, Rosanne Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Dire Straits, Johnny Hates Jazz, English Beat, Basia, Steely Dan, Steve Winwood, Little River Band, Joe Jackson, Alan Parsons Project. Also have been listening to more classical music (but NEVER opera!) which would make my late father happy.

Rosanne Cash actually dropped a new single today. Her take on the year (see bottom video.) Other artists I have been listening to? Taylor Swift. Yes seriously. Me. Her Folklore album was such a surprise. It’s a gem. Every song tells a story and many of them you can identify with. So many of the lyrics made me smile. I have always listened to the occasional song Taylor Swift has written. But when this album dropped on Spotify, I sat and I listened. I must play it at least once a week. It is transformative and it shows how she is maturing as an artist. It’s beautiful actually. In this crazy stressful year, this music is welcome.

Books. I am reading again. And watching lots of BritBox and ACORN streaming because their shows are just well, better. I am working on my vintage quilts which always need a patch or seven. Cooking with my late mother-in-law’s mixing bowls today. remembering my father when I plant daffodil bulbs.

Anything to escape this year where every time you turn around something bad or sad is happening. People I know are sick, friends are taking care of other sick family members. And illness is isolating enough in more normal times, but now? Now it’s just cruel.

And yes, I have had my sad moments in 2020. Who hasn’t if they are honest? Our new normal is anything but and I thought I was done with new normals when I survived breast cancer.

A friend of mine today told me to remember when people give me a hard time about how I run a community Facebook group to remember that today it helped distraught owners reunite with a wandering dog very quickly. She brought me to tears just now when she texted me that.

My friend also reminded me that human nature is backwards and more people complain than express appreciation and also reminded me that people are so unhappy because of the sheer helplessness we have felt since March. A global pandemic, a leader that doesn’t lead but rants on Twitter, confronting racism in this country, protests and rioting and looting and businesses failing…and politics. Politics that to an extent leave almost everyone behind at times. Depression and suicide rates are at all time high. People often are NOT seeking help, so they mistake pain and loneliness for anger. (These are a lot of her words paraphrased, she sums it up so beautifully.)

This is 2020. I don’t think any of us will ever forget it. But God willing and if the creek don’t rise, we will all survive. I met a Mennonite woman the other day. She was delivering something to me. She bid me good day and we talked for a while. She was probably the most Godly person I have met all year, and the simplicity of her belief and faith were inspiring. Her name was Esther and she said to me that she wondered what God was trying to teach us this year, and I replied I wondered if we could really all stop and listen to what he was wanting us to think about. I think a lot of it is taking us all back to basics and not taking life and love for granted.

And that is the thing about this crazy year: in the midst of the crazy and anger and vitriol and UNcivil discourse, there are occasional moments of joyful simplicity and beauty. Beauty in the things around us like our gardens, our friends, our neighbors, our families. If we learn nothing else in 2020, we learn not to take life for granted.

Life can be hard, but it can surprise us. We have to look for the positives in 2020 and it’s hard some days, trust me, I get it. Our next hurdles will be the holidays. How can we do big family gatherings? The short answer is if we love our families, we simply cannot. This bums me out because as much as holidays drive me crazy, I love the sounds of conversation and laughter around my table and Christmas Tree.

I am going to thank you now for meandering on this ramble with me and close with a Langston Hughes quote I have quite literally loved since the 4th or 5th grade:

Hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken-winged bird
that can not fly.

Hold fast to dreams
for when dreams go
life is a barren field
frozen with snow.”

Wishing you all the best in these crazy times. VOTE.

days gone by…frazer

Sometimes it’s just lighting. But it sets a mood.

I stopped to take pictures of the laundromat and car wash in Frazer, East Whiteland that are now closed and frozen in time. Eventually the wrecking ball will come a calling, but right now I can take some photos so one day when someone asks what was there, we remember.

A car wash and a laundromat. Things people still use. But not sexy enough when it comes to development and the future, right?

Enjoy the photos.

just another disgrace in frazer

Christmas 2016 there was a nasty fire adjacent to the Wawa on Planebrook Rd and Lancaster Avenue in Frazer. Here we are the last week of September, 2020 and that ramshackle and what visibly appears to be a structure quite unsafe.

What is going on with this structure? Everyone said that it would come down but it hasn’t so what’s up? We all of course also thought about it again when the human trafficking story broke in East Whiteland.

Anyway, I think the building is continuing to deteriorate, don’t you? Does it also give a whole new je ne sais quois to the term slumlord as well?

we get by with a little help from our friends, can you help one of mine? #teamtiger

My life long friend Tiger. Always a Marine 😊

So many years ago, I became friends with a boy named Tiger. His given name, his birth name was David but we always just knew him as Tiger.

I had this crew of guy friends who were amazing. I just hung out with them. I didn’t date any of them, we just were all friends. Tiger was one of those friends. Most of us are still connected today, as a matter of fact.

I used to get in trouble for talking to Tiger on the downstairs telephone too late into the night. Those were the days that every call was a charge, so come the end of some months my parents were ready to kill me for the jump in the bill and me spending too much time on the phone.

Tiger was also one of the guys who would prop you up and just be your friend when somebody he didn’t think you should’ve been liking in the first place was rotten to you. I knew a lot of those guys. I always felt lucky to have them as friends.

Tiger had a big head of curly hair. And he was tall. He still has a lot of curly hair and he’s still tall. So are his brothers. I feel like a positively short person next to them !

We all have Tiger stories. OTB for Over The Bridge. The story of moving the coffin in a station wagon on the Schuylkill Expressway that was a prop for a school play. My husband was involved with that. Trust me, that is a story that will make tears run down your face with laughter.

Tiger was the first of my friends to enter the military. He chose the Marine Corps.

Truthfully he love the Marine Corps and it was good for him.

And the thing about being a Marine that I have learned from all my male friends who have been in the Marine Corps is once a Marine always a Marine. And this Marine needs our help.

Over the weekend Tiger’s brother Christian called me. We are also really good friends. Tiger has stage 4 renal cancer. I just sat there stunned and probably talked a mile a minute because I don’t want to cry. This is another one of those things in the year 2020 that we could all use a do over for. It’s bad enough there’s COVID-19, but now this?

Oh but wait it gets worse. At some point when he started his treatment I don’t know when, his company eliminated his position. Which I think is really crappy and I think there’s a special place in hell for people who try to justify doing things like this. But this is why Tiger needs our help.

If you have ever been treated for a debilitating disease like cancer, you know quite simply how expensive it is. Even working through my treatment with breast cancer it’s still took me a few years to pay off just the radiation bills. And that was with having paid co-pays.

Tiger and I share common interests and loves in cooking and gardening as adults. We also have a love of chili peppers. But Tiger as a home chef so far surpasses me. Seriously, he’s like Jacques Pépin only American. And his gardens are lovely. Tiger is not perfect, none of us are, but he is a good dude, plain and simple.

Tiger and his beautiful wife Sarah

I am now going to let Tiger’s wife Sarah‘s word take over. She has started a go fund me, which was not easy I am sure because they are not the kind of people to have their hand out and ask for money. They are the people that usually help other people.

From Sarah:

📌*Many of you know David by the nickname given to him at birth, “Tiger”. We will use his nickname in the following campaign:

It all started with a little back pain:
Tiger started his new dream job on Monday, March 16, 2020. Like many of us, he was working remotely. About a month later he started to develop some annoying back pain. Many of us can relate to the back pain that “working from home” created–cramped spaces, uncomfortable chairs, etc. Tiger’s back pain persisted and grew increasingly worse.

On Tuesday, June 16 he had a spinal X-ray, and to our surprise, the radiologist saw a compression fracture in his thoracic spine. On June 18, he had an MRI of the spine and our lives changed forever.

As we were driving home from the MRI, our doctor called and told us to turn around and go immediately to a hospital specializing in spine injuries because the MRI showed a spinal tumor. He was concerned the spine could further destabilize and cause more serious damage. He was admitted there for 8 days and, while he did not remain at the spine hospital, he has not been home since.

While in the first hospital, more scans were done. The doctors speculated it was kidney cancer that had metastasized to the spine but would not know definitively until an interventional radiologist conducted a biopsy. There was a delay of at least a week to get the biopsy because Covid had backed up such procedures.

Knowing it was likely cancer, we started pushing for a transfer to world-renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. And within a couple days, Tiger was admitted to MSKCC into the neurosurgery unit due to the spinal tumors, and then the real process of diagnosing and treatment began.

….In early July, the love of my life, my active, energetic and seemingly healthy 56-year old husband was diagnosed with Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma (kidney cancer) Stage 4. He had no symptoms other than intense back pain. We realized we were going to need a lot of emotional support to navigate this…thus, the advent of TEAM TIGER…..On August 1st, yet another unexpected adjustment…he was told that his company could no longer keep his job for him as he was ineligible for additional leave or FMLA. Now unemployed and ineligible for benefits, not knowing what the future holds, he gathered up his courage and continued to keep in the fight……

…Covid safety precautions prevent visitors at the facility, so he has not seen his family in weeks. Since insurance will limit his time in the rehab facility to possibly another week, we must act now to make preparations for his transition back to our home.

How YOU can help support TEAM TIGER:
As a former US Marine, he has incredible resiliency and strength. Each day he has fought valiantly. He has been the model of courage, fortitude and persistence in the face of adversity.

……If you cannot donate to TEAM TIGER, you are still part of the team by keeping him in your thoughts and prayers!

With the loss of his salary and some medical/healthcare-related expenses not covered or only partially covered by insurance, we are asking for ANY amount of monetary contribution to help defray these expenses. We will have significant out-of-pocket costs to adapt our home (exterior and interior) to accommodate for Tiger’s mobility needs.”📌

There is more to the story and you can go to the Go Fund Me to read all of it.

A final personal note is I am definitely over 2020 now. I know this person doesn’t live in Chester County, I am going outside the borders because this is a lifelong friend. I am trying to pay it forward and you can make an anonymous donation to this fund if that more suits your comfort level. I personally choose that route a lot of the time because you just wanna give a little something you don’t need anything in return.

I am proud to be part of #TeamTiger. please help uplift his family during this difficult time. If you can help in any way, that’s amazing, and if you can just set the heavens on fire with prayer that is also welcome.

Thank you for your time this morning.

Click here to go to the Go Fund Me Campaign.