threads of life

I was messaging with a friend today. We were talking about many things including friends we had lost in 2020. And she made the comment that metaphysics taught her about life being similar to a giant cobweb. She said there is no such thing as coincidence in her opinion; everything and everyone are connected.

Threads.

My friend is Italian or at least half Italian like me. I really am not sure which it is. But she laughed and said that Italians always look to find a thread. I agree with her — we do look to find the thread, it’s sort of inherent in our DNA. A thread is a connection. A connection brings us together as humans.

There are all of these threads the tie us together. How we meet people and become friends. Who we meet them through. Look at our communities. There are threads everywhere which tie us together. Schools, church, neighborhoods, volunteer work. Life in general.

In the Chinese culture, a red thread is believed to connect us all together. Think of it as a beautiful red ribbon. It weaves in and out, throughout our lives, throughout our communities.

If you look at Kabbalistic traditions, read is a symbol of courage, bravery, and protection against what people referred to as the “evil eye.” The whole “evil eye“ of it all is actually a symbol of someone you feel who looks at you with negative energy and jealousy. And that’s not what I’m talking about here.

If you are speaking specifically about wearing a red thread, it can be that these red threads or cords are supposed to bring luck and offer protection but also serve as a reminder of the vows if Buddhist vows were taken.

However the ancient Chinese legend to which my friend alluded, the red thread of fate, is this invisible thread that ties us all together, as in all of us whose lives will intertwine at some point. The Chinese god of marriage, Yue Lao, looks over this.

In Christianity I am told the red thread symbolizes redemption. I think in essence, the tradition of a red thread crosses over many cultures. And today things get blended tradition-wise.

I don’t wear a red thread, but I know people who do and who have. When I’m talking about this thread today I am visualizing the threads that softly twirl around us joining us together at different parts of our life or throughout our lives. More simply put, I’m speaking about the threads that tie us together and even draw us together.

There is that other old adage of people enter your life for a reason, a season, or for life. Personally I have found it difficult at times mourning the loss of people who are only around for a reason or a season and I thought they would be around for the entirety of our lives. However, even when people aren’t in your life anymore sometimes there are still these ties, these connections. Sometimes not. It really just depends how life happens.

I don’t ever pretend to have all the answers. And I certainly don’t exist on a mystical plane. I just think about these things because I think you have to sometimes. As human beings we are tied together. Our paths cross. We impact each others lives. That’s why I think the people in this country need to get back to the business of living and put aside the business of ugly politics and in essence, worshiping false political prophets.

Life is short. Value it. Value each other.

Thanks for stopping by.

a tale of two cities…err chester counties

A friend commented today that whomever thought all this new construction was a good idea has hopefully made buckets of money ruining the area.

Among other things I blame the Chester County Planning Commission as well as the various municipalities.

Now these aren’t thoughts I wouldn’t expect from this person but are they wrong? So much construction and so many unfortunate, truthfully ugly apartment buildings. It’s just too much.

Start in Easttown and move west. From fakakta apartments they want to build essentially in the shadow of traditional and lovely Devon Horse Show neighborhoods via rezoning, to the supersizing of Berwyn Village.

Move onto East Whiteland. Apartments everywhere in various stages of development. Ugly, architecturally unfortunate buildings utterly devoid of charm.

And West Whiteland. Oh we can’t forget West Whiteland. A sea of apartments and wait until they develop at Ship Road and Lancaster Avenue which will create the urban canyon corridor from hell.

Here we are at King of Prussia west. And it literally sucks.

The tale of two cities errr ….Chester County.

Here we are in one of the most beautiful counties in Pennsylvania. But due to greed and urban sprawl, how soon before Chester County is referred to as formerly one of the most beautiful counties in Pennsylvania?

We are getting towards the end of 2020 and even in this brutal year of the global pandemic known at COVID19 the development has continued it’s relentless march across Chester County.

I have to ask when will it stop? Single family, multi family, fake carriage homes, apartments, town houses whatever it is ALL TOO MUCH.

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.

roam with the angels, marine

In September, I wrote a post about my growing up friend Tiger, who was battling horrible cancer. This morning at 6:15 AM, Tiger went home to God.

His beloved wife Sarah was at his side.

One of his brothers contacted me, who is another kind of forever friend at this point. I owe my two friends whom I was with at the an apology, because I completely lost my composure (in a face mask no less) when I got the news. I knew the end was coming, but I don’t think you’re ever completely prepared for it nevertheless.

Tiger was also a friend to my husband growing up. They were in the same class in high school at Shipley. I was the year ahead of them. Tiger and I had been friends since I think I was about 14. I actually was friends with him a couple of years before my husband got to be friends with him.

2020 is just one of those years where I am ready for the next year. It has been a very difficult year for so many reasons for millions of people. This is just another glaring example of dear Lord, what a year.

And I don’t know about any of the rest of you but this is the year where I’ve been having weird dreams. Dreams of people who are no longer with us like my father, or people I am no longer connected to for no more of a reason then life took everyone in different directions.

I don’t know what all this means, and the dreams haven’t been bad it’s just been kind of pleasant. And I’m wondering if dreams can be a little more pleasant when the reality of the world we are living in is that it’s a little harsh right now.

And I know people are going to think I sound like a bit of a nutter, but my friend Tiger who died early this morning was in one of my dreams last night in the wee hours of the morning.

The dream was not anything weird or anything bad or sad, he was just wherever I was outside in someone’s garden and came up to say hello. I woke up shortly before 7 AM remembering that part of my dream because it was nice, and also because Tiger was probably even more of a rabid gardener than I am.

After I heard the news he passed away, which wasn’t until about lunchtime today, I’m still wondering if there was a reason I had that dream last night? This is where my Irish DNA kicks in and I feel a little fey, but I’ve had these experiences before over the course of my life.

When I found out the news I was with friends and for that I am really grateful. When it’s somebody who’s your own age who had meaning in your life it’s just so damn hard and it doesn’t matter how young or how old you are, it’s just hard.

This is just yet another reminder, a very somber reminder, of the value of life itself. Sometimes we take things for granted. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t take life for granted.

I know Thanksgiving is going to look very different for people this year. But don’t be sad if it’s just a smaller group of family, be grateful that you can spend any of it together or even together virtually over a zoom call.

Life will go on, but I wanted to pause and take a moment to write about this. Tiger was a United States Marine for many years of his life, so that is why I chose that title for the post. It was very important to him.

Thanks for stopping by. Live your lives gratefully and always appreciate the magic in ordinary days.

on thanksgiving will we be thankful or grateful?

Thanksgiving is only a matter of days away. What will it look like? What will people act like? We are now well into November, 2020 in he year of COVID19. Never in any of our wildest imaginations would we think that as an area, a region, and even a nation, we would be facing additional shut down times and continued surges of a deadly virus.

Yet here we are. Here we are.

Someone in Pennsylvania the other day how COVID19 is surging in Pennsylvania compared to other states. Why is that? Did all those election rallies and events across the state in the days preceding the election have anything to do with the recent surge? No I’m not a public health expert and I don’t pretend to be, but common sense would dictate perhaps these events had a hand in this surge?

Look for history to be your guide. Look no further than the last global pandemic, the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was one of the hardest hit cities. Why? Because the virus surged after the Liberty Loan/Liberty Bond parade that was not canceled although it should have been. So it’s not being politically negative to wonder how many people attending events that were political not social distancing and in many cases not wearing masks helped spread this new global pandemic of our time COVID-19? National Geographic has a fascinating article about the 1918 global pandemic.

While we were talking about politics, I will mention how I was treated recently because I correctly reported that a local and well known political figure who held a political office long term until this year had contracted and been hospitalized with COVID19.

I did not “virus shame” this person, I did not wish this person ill. I did comment accurately that this is why people should pay close attention to this virus because even those who don’t necessarily believe in the strength of this virus could contract it. I did not personally speculate on whether or not they may have contracted the virus at a specific time at a specific activity. And I wished this person well and meant it and still mean it because I wouldn’t wish COVID19 on anyone. And I say that even as people occasionally literally wish me dead because I am a blogger.

But because this person is a supporter of the man baby currently living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who has an almost cult-like following, some came out of the woodwork to purportedly defend the honor of the public figure and former elected office holder who was hospitalized due to COVID19, calling me despicable among other things. I did not impugn their honor. I did not virus shame. Hell, I was virus shamed personally when the virus first broke out and I didn’t have COVID19 nor did any of my family.

We were asked to voluntarily quarantine just as the virus was breaking out because I personally happened to be at an event where one of the first victims of COVID19 in Chester County (a stranger I did not actually meet) was also in attendance. The event was held before anyone even knew the virus was breaking out in Pennsylvania. So it was the final time of no masks and no social distancing.

We reported as we were asked to to the county. We followed the instructions we were given by Penn Medicine and when we came off of the voluntary quarantine, my husband was followed around while he was picking up my breast cancer meds and then as he stopped at other stores running errands. I was not with him. This person then decided to post this on social media. They had to comment how if we had been exposed he shouldn’t have been out. If we were inside the self quarantine time we were asked to keep they would’ve been correct. But the quarantine time we were asked to keep was over. It is my belief they chose to follow my husband around and try to virus shame me because I am a blogger. And vocal on issues at times. This person seemingly disappeared from social media after this.

I have been very honest all along about how I feel about COVID19 and how it has affected me and people I know. Way back when we were on self quarantine it was just before lockdown. So we came out of self quarantine to go into lockdown formally. I have also had Covid testing done. Why? Because I had surgical procedures in 2020 that were not exactly voluntary. They were due to squamous cell skin cancer which is in between basal cell and melanoma. It’s a very anxious process to have any kind of procedure or be in hospital settings in 2020, which is why I haven’t virus shamed anyone.

However, here we are with this damn virus and almost the end of the year. And this virus is intertwined in the political life of this country as well. And the reason that is can be laid directly at the feet of the current president. All along he has downplayed the virus, and he also maligned with his nicknames for the virus. Then he contracted the virus, and it’s still like he didn’t take it seriously.

Then we had the election, which he has lost. But he has yet to concede. And while he doesn’t concede and move on that causes the entire country to be stuck in this cycle. And that is wrong. These are the acts of a very selfish person at a minimum, and other things to consider which are very dark to contemplate indeed. And while all of this is happening it is sadly destroying the party of Abraham Lincoln which I find sad.

Maybe it’s time we leave the politicians and those who play them on television and twitter to their own devices? Maybe it’s time to remember we were once neighbors, friends, and even in some cases family? I mention family because I actually know people whose families are torn apart by both Covid and politics.

Maybe it’s time to remember what Thanksgiving is all about.

The American Thanksgiving – and I say American because there’s a Canadian Thanksgiving as well – was first held in October 1621 after the Pilgrims’ first harvest in their new world. Thanksgiving as we know it finally evolved after Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an act of Congress making the date of Thanksgiving a little more concrete of a thing. And I bet a lot of people don’t realize that the first Thanksgiving had lobsters not turkey on the menu. So were swans. They aren’t actually sure about turkey. My brother-in-law likes to celebrate Thanksgiving with lobsters in keeping with the first Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgivings are going to look very different this year. Because of COVID19 there won’t really be huge family gatherings, it will be more like little family pods. That’s how my family will be doing it. I imagine that is how Christmas will be.

Yes, it’s going to be different but we should still be giving thanks that we can have holidays with loved ones, even if we will mostly be doing it in our own homes in small pods. There are many people in this country who won’t be sharing Thanksgiving with family this year. A lot of people have lost friends and family to COVID19 and other conditions in 2020. There are so many people in this country who have lost jobs and businesses and more because of this year. And it’s not just because of COVID19- also what comes into play is the wanton destruction and looting of property that had absolutely nothing to do with protesting to address and end the specter of racial injustice and flat out racism in this country.

I just hope when Thanksgiving day actually arrives people can pause and remember what Thanksgiving is about. I hope people can use Thanksgiving as a re-set to focus on home and family and what is really important. And put politics into perspective: yes who governs us is of paramount importance, but the reality is for most of us is they don’t care we exist, they don’t know we exist, it doesn’t matter that we exist. So cult-like devotion is pretty disproportionate in the big picture of life as we know it.

Come together for Thanksgiving, people. Our future as a country depends upon it. And we need to come together to deal with COVID19 as much as anything else.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Love me or hate me these are just my thoughts. I will close with wishing everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

letter to my father

Dear Daddy,

I sometimes hate the way the Internet and certain things send you automatic reminders. But that is the electronic world we live in. Today, I received an e-mail reminder that as of Friday you are gone 15 years.

Fifteen years.

November 13, 2005 seems so very far away and long ago. Especially as 2020 has kind of been the year from hell at times.

I wonder what you would have made of a global pandemic? Or this presidential election? Would you have voted for Trump? I think you would have in 2016 because I know you never liked Hillary Clinton, but if you were alive today who would you have voted for?

I think you would be upset to see what a mess the City of Philadelphia has become. You always loved being a Philadelphian.

Can I say again, I can’t believe it’s almost 15 years? But I remember sitting with you on your bed on your last anniversary with mother, just two days before you died watching the original Sabrina in all it’s black and white movie glory and I knew then you were ready to leave us. I remember you lying there in bed and just the way you smiled that our time together was ending.

Ours was not a perfect relationship, what parent child relationship is if we are totally honest? But I loved you then, and love you now.

Did you know we borrowed your wedding date as our own? So yes, it lives on. It made me feel like you were there in spirit to be able to use it. It was the date that felt right.

You would love my husband. He is part of Mumma’s philosophy of going back from whence we came, which is that phrase also attributed to both John F. Kennedy and James Baldwin. To me it has meant my present and future came from my past. I ended up being a very lucky and loved woman. I think you would like that. We got married in a beautiful historic Chester County house called Oakbourne.

I think you would like my garden. I have some of your old favorites planted including one sad sack of a John F. Kennedy rose. Every year it looks like it’s going to give up the ghost, every spring it comes back. I have pussy willows planted. You remember how I loved it when you bought us the big bunches of pussy willows and peonies in the spring from Mr. Cullinan who drove a VW Bus from wherever his greenhouse was to the streets of Philadelphia with his plants and flowers? I also remember the truck farmers who would come from wherever their farms were to sell their produce door to door. None of that still exists today but I do have a milkman!

I still remember your funeral which was at Old St. Joseph’s where my sister and I were baptized. The church was packed. I remember that I had to focus on my friends in the very back. Otherwise I would have blubbered through my eulogy.

Some days I think of you with tears, like today. Other days with laughter and a smile. Sometimes when I am in the garden and I see one of the many bright red cardinals I even talk to you. Sometimes I swear I can still hear your voice and every Christmas I have a moment putting up the decorations when I run across a now vintage box of ornaments with your handwriting on it.

Life takes us on such journeys, and I wanted you to know you are loved and missed. I wanted you to know we are all happy and safe.

Love,

Me

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 micro example of issues in our region

Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough. Still don’t like them how many years later, although I do support the businesses. So who owns Eastside Flats now because I am uncertain at this point who owns the development and who manages it? It’s not the original developer.

Does everyone remember a couple of different things that put Eastside flats in the news early on? The amazingly and shockingly low amount of ratables Malvern Borough would receive for approving a development still out of scale and character for the Borough of Malvern? And the other kerfuffle when The Whip Tavern said no to Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough?

But then everyone heard Christopher’s was coming to town. It was like that one thing changed a lot of perception about this behemoth of a development. I have always felt like Christopher’s was a kind of anchor that drew people to Eastside Flats and other people and other businesses quite possibly. I know they are what initially made me personally give Eastside Flats a chance.

Christopher’s made Malvern more of a destination, which in turn benefited other businesses and the borough itself. And if there was a community event, Christopher’s in Malvern was right there for the community the way Christopher’s in Wayne always has been.

And for years Christopher’s did things like featured local artists on their walls. And they had wonderful staff. If you told one of the Christopher’s waitstaff you had a particular food allergy or a series of food allergies, they all knew the menu so well that they could bring you a flawless order that wouldn’t make you sick. They did this for a friend of mine one time when we went in for lunch. She had a lot of food allergies and they took care of her so perfectly. (it’s because of all these things that I will continue to go to Wayne once life returns to a more normal pattern.)

Recently, Christopher’s closed their Malvern location thanks to the COVID19 of it all, to return solely to a Wayne which leaves a giant, gaping, empty hole in the streetscape,and also, well they will be missed. In addition to being a wonderful business, Christopher’s offered food that wasn’t formula pub food and you didn’t just go there because it was a bar. You went there because it was a restaurant and it was a nice experience for all ages. It wasn’t huge or cavernous and cold as a space it was kind of just right. But can you imagine what the rent nut was to cover in Eastside Flats?

COVID-19 has caused America’s hospitality industry from coast to coast to take a direct and brutal hit. The largest in history for that industry. Restaurants and other hospitality industry businesses are closing left and right from coast to coast. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that not only are they getting no assistance, it’s the rents they are being charged.

But I have to ask, what kind of rent do these commercial landlords think they will get? After all, we are in a struggling in the present economy at a minimum, and nobody wants to look at what the other potential downside is, correct? I also think overall the economy has not been as strong as we have been led to believe. And people will argue with me about that but that’s just how I feel.

Malvern’s charm is in it’s history and size, much like the village portion of Berwyn and similarly scaled small towns and villages. Berwyn is in Easttown Township and a present is suffering from potential development implications of its own, but I think they need to look at what’s going on in Malvern Borough right now.

These new developments come in and even with old developments they will offer a lower rent to get somebody in the door. Then those rents get jumped over time to the point that the businesses have to look at their own financial viability and decide if they want to put food on the table of their families and staff or food on the table of whoever the commercial landlords are.

I know plenty of people who have over the years owned other restaurants or brick and mortar stores in various communities who had to make the painful decision to close because after their initial honeymoon when they first came to town and did business with their respective commercial landlords, they couldn’t justify the rents any longer.

And commercial property owners don’t really necessarily care about the empty storefronts in our communities, it’s about what they can make. So they won’t look at continual lease turnover the same way a community might. If one of their property sits empty, I am told they apply those losses to the bottom line of profits from other properties, so for them, it’s business as usual if a place is empty, right? Greedy is as greedy does right? And a lot of these commercial landlords aren’t local. So they don’t get what happens locally nor do they really care do they?

So now we are here in 2020. In October 2020 which has to be one of the most stressful and heartbreaking years a lot of us have experienced in our lifetimes. And a global pandemic known as COVID-19 is bringing the economy down like a house of cards, card by freaking card isn’t it? Drive Route 30 alone from further west to east to the city line. You really see the empty store fronts. This is no joke.

When it comes to local restaurants, not all of them have the space to put things outside and not all of the communities have the wherewithal to let the businesses put tables outside. And because this virus is not under control, and there’s no shot for it, everything is two steps forward and seven steps back is what it feels like. We are in the midst of additional outbreaks now. Which of course then makes businesses fear they will have to shut down again.

Someone said to me that essentially politics is driving all of this. And you can’t just blame it on one party or the other. Especially out here in these smaller municipalities. They don’t really have political savvy or Wiley Coyoteness. And yes, in Philadelphia they do (cue Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and the giant mess there), but out here? The politicians don’t necessarily run much, they are kind of run, aren’t they?

So when I heard about Christopher’s closing, I mentioned it to a chef in search of a space. And they didn’t want just any space they wanted the right space. And this is a chef who will blow a lot of culinary minds. They have the international and national credentials, they have the knowledge base and experience. So I told them about Eastside Flats. Selfishly, I want them to open a restaurant in our area. A lot of people do. They are also the kind of person who would bring people to the community just the way Christopher’s did and say Alba and General Warren do. It would be win-win to our communities and existing fine dining.

I asked this person the other day whatever had happened with them investigating Eastside Flats. And I think suffice it to say, unrealistic rents on the part of the commercial landlord happened. Did I mention this is a person with business experience? They essentially told me that what was being quoted for rent wouldn’t be sustainable during a normal period, let alone a global pandemic. Essentially, a business needs to sustain itself and with what whomever over there at Eastside is currently thinking, it just wouldn’t happen, that they wouldn’t even be able to break even. It’s a typical commercial property dilemma, and the dilemma is the only party who would be making a profit would be the commercial property owner and what small business in their right mind wants to assume that risk?

I am not an economist, but I remember hearing somewhere once that most restaurants only start to turn a profit in the 3 to 5 year mark if they are lucky and survive that long. Profit is revenue minus costs, both fixed and variable, right? Starting a restaurant is fantastically expensive correct? Also what fits into the equation is also not confusing profitability with revenue generating, yes? Even if a restaurant is generating high revenue, they’re not necessarily reflecting a similar profit, correct?

So I think Malvern Borough and other municipalities need to wake up. Stop just bending over for absentee commercial landlords and developers. Recognize that compromise is something that they have to negotiate so we get quality non-formula and not just chain or franchise businesses in our communities. We need a retail mix that has better planning, essentially. In a lot of other areas municipalities have retail coordinators who help recruit businesses to the communities in which they work and help the negotiation process between potential businesses and commercial landlords. Even business district authorities and business associations will do this. And the simple reason for that is nobody is as invested in the community as the community itself.

Eastside Flats is kind of looking like a ghost town. And they just let a huge opportunity for our community and for them walk away because of unrealistic rent expectations. They might not like my opinion but the first amendment allows me to have it.

So that is your food for thought so to speak for the day. How are your communities being impacted by commercial landlords during COVID-19? And how will the hospitality industry survive and what will it look like after this? And when you are formulating your response try to leave the politics out of it because politicians and political parties come and go but these are our local businesses.

Also if you are interested Bon Appétit Magazine has a terrific article from the end of September on how you can help those in the restaurant industry.

Thanks for stopping by.

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.

life in the land of women: social media power trips

Recently I wrote a post about women and social media. I will refer back to that post and some things that a woman I have made the acquaintance of said to me a while ago which was “women will never learn to simply lift each other up.”

Once again I should add, especially on social media. And it continues to be sad and true, no longer merely sad but true.

There was a woman I know whom I will also call a friend who started a local gifting group. She started a local Buy Nothing Project Facebook group.

The Buy Nothing Project operates on wonderful principles. They offer a simple platform of giving people the opportunity to give and receive in their community. They have inspired people to the extent that there is this whole network of these groups all over this country and I believe in other countries. It’s kind of about being neighborly and other often ignored old fashioned principles. It’s a “hyper-local gift community”.

It’s a way to recycle useful items without the whole barter, buy, sell of it all. You give because you want to give. You give to someone who needs it more than you, and they in turn (hopefully) will pay it forward someday to other people who might need something more than they do.

In a jaded world this is kind of nice.

I belonged to this local Buy Nothing group, but I didn’t spend a lot of time in the group. I would pop in when I had some thing to gift. Earlier this week the group seemed different. I didn’t pay it any mind. Truthfully I had no clue. But the group seemed different – for example, I was suddenly on post approval and I think I had posted in the group maybe five times. I had not been on post approval before in this group.

However, life is busy, and I didn’t pay it any mind as I had only popped in because there was something I was going to gift but when I realized I was on post approval (which seemed weird), I just gave the thing to a friend instead. But then as is the whisper down the lane of social media people started to ask me if I knew what was going on. Truthfully I had no clue.

Then I found out what was going on.

Basically a small group of other women whom I wouldn’t know if I fell over them in the grocery store, did a power-play that is something that is reminiscent of fighting over the popular girls lunch table in middle school. That kind of young female coup: nastiness and pettiness and meanness and then not owning your behavior. So you see it really is suitable for the age group of middle schoolers.

This group of three women removed the woman I know who founded this particular local group, and then were systematically removing any and every person who was either close to the founder, friendly with the founder, just knew the founder, or wondered where the founder had gotten to because they didn’t see her on the page.

When I heard about this I was essentially gobsmacked. Not only is this woman who originally founded the group one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, she is very genuine, and she is one of those rare birds who is never about the drama. Even if she’s not pleased with you, she’s kind. So as opposed to a woman like me who can be extraordinarily opinionated and sometimes a bitch about it, I’m listening to the story and I am incredulous.

And I am incredulous for the simple fact that we’re supposed to be grown ass women. I think one of my best friend’s 11-year-old is more mature than these women.

So these women did this for what reason? I don’t quite get it as a Buy Nothing Group is at its core based upon being nice to one and other.

I put a post in for post approval in this local Buy Nothing Group, and basically said I felt what they did was wrong and I didn’t want to be a part of this group anymore and I was leaving. And I left the group. I knew they would never publish my post, but they wouldn’t get the joy of deleting me personally I left because what they did was abhorrent and somewhat morally bankrupt.

Now the Buy Nothing Project says on their website and social media channels that they don’t get involved in issues with in local chapters. What’s a shame is then once this local chapter exists you can’t have another Buy Nothing namesake group. Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own hybrid group inspired by with the founders of Buy Nothing originally intended. Those founders would be Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller.

I have read a few articles about the Buy Nothing Project including this one from Huffington Post this past February:

Buy Nothing’ Groups: Stop Spending Money And Just Ask For What You Need/ These Facebook groups prohibit exchanging money and bartering, but they reduce waste and build communities.
By Casey Bond 02/28/2020 10:40am EST | Updated February 28, 2020

📌Americans tend to be a wasteful bunch. The United States, home to only 4% of the world population, is responsible for 30% of the planet’s total waste.

You’d probably like to contribute to that problem less. Not only would you help the environment, but you’d probably save a ton of money, too. But the county’s waste problem can seem like such a big issue that it’s tough to know where to start.


That’s where your local “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook can help.
The very first Buy Nothing group was founded in 2013 on Bainbridge Island, a 35-minute ferry ride from the heart of Seattle, by Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller….Clark and Rockefeller wanted to find a way to contribute less waste ― not just as individuals, but as a community. They decided the answer was to share what they already had. And the key, Rockefeller said, was to do it in a way that would build relationships among neighbors who might otherwise never connect.

….As the name implies, you can’t buy or sell anything in these groups. Trading or bartering is also prohibited…Members are also encouraged to participate as individuals and not as representatives of a business. “There’s no marketing,” Rockefeller added….As of now, Buy Nothing groups only exist on Facebook. The goal of the groups is to remain hyperlocal so that members connect with their immediate community. If a group becomes too large ― usually more than 1,000 members ― it gets split into smaller factions in a process called “sprouting.” Members are only allowed to belong to one group that serves their precise geographic location…..Though the project was founded out of purely benevolent intent, it’s not clear whether everyone who participates holds the same values….📌

So this is a great idea. But human nature is human nature. I have seen the seedy side of people with situations like this before who always just seem to have their hand out, they’re not offering a hand up.

And then of course there are the people who want free stuff so they can turn around and sell it for a profit. That bothers me as well because you think of the fact that this is supposed to go to someone because they need it not because they want to make money off of something. I think it should go to people that actually have a use for it or really need it.

These Buy Nothing Groups are also in my observation, more women than men by percentage of membership. When you get too many women together there are some who want to be in charge because they’re nurturing and they’re trying to do a good thing, and then there are the women who want to be in charge because it’s a whole lot of power tripping, condescension, and nonsense. And I think what happened in this local group was a whole lot of power tripping and nonsense.

The amusing thing is, anyone who asks what happened to the founder of this local chapter get removed. If you private message them because this group is on Facebook I have read conversation threads of these new women in charge so to speak leaving the conversations versus telling people what happened. I’m sure finger-pointing will be next. And I am told that it is not the only problem with these Buy Nothing Groups. I was told just today about a group about an hour away that also has been having issues. I think sometimes it boils down to people forget why they’re in this group or a group like this in the first place.

But it also goes back to my whole premise of women not lifting each other up which is kind of sad. Especially on social media. It is in the nature of women to be competitive. And for every woman who wants to do something because it’s the right thing there’s a woman who wants to do some thing for whatever attention they might get out of it.

And that whole doing something just to get something out of it personally but for the wrong reasons is something I really just don’t care for. This is the reason why I always tell my readers that I am not a monetized blogger. I just want readers to know that if I like a store or a restaurant or a nonprofit it’s based on my own personal experience enjoying whatever it is not because I’ve been compensated to say nice things.

I heard another example of it this week where woman who seems to spend her life running Facebook groups basically wanted to poach a post from a group she was part of and post in one of her groups. This woman does nothing unless she is indeed going to literally profit from it. And she is not someone who is share and share alike. Anything they do is to raise their personal profile, and I see that as sad and kind of lonely.

I don’t pretend to be perfect or lead a perfect life. At 56 I have made plenty of mistakes. Who hasn’t ? It’s part of life. but for me it’s the same from when I was a teenager: I don’t get how women treat each other at times. The way supposedly adult women treat each other and use each other on social media is astounding to watch.

I would say why can’t we all just get along, except I know that’s super trite and goes against human nature. I think I would settle some days for women just not being so bitchy to each other. I think that’s why I like the concept of Buy Nothing so much – it’s a simple way for us to lift each other up and pay it forward in our communities and try to be nicer in a world that is not so pleasant right now.

Thanks for stopping by.