fa la la la la…and just breathe…

I have to preface this post with this is just stuff I think about around the holidays. It’s not based on recent experiences, although some things may be based on past experiences. I am starting to get annoyed by the lack of reading comprehension with some of my posts. Take the one I wrote about the post office not delivering consistently. People are interpreting that as I am faulting the postal delivery workers themselves, I’m not and responsibility goes to the top of the post office here, but people aren’t reading enough into the post to figure that out.

So that’s the disclaimer. Either read on or scroll by.

Back to our regularly scheduled program….Let’s talk the holidays for a minute. It’s a chance for people to wind down OUTSIDE of work mode and spend time with their friends and families, right?

Well not everyone can manage this, sadly…Post COVID19 and living La Vida COVID, I have noticed boundary issues all across the board. The workplace is one of the worst examples.

We live in a world where technology allows us to work not only from everywhere, but all times of the day. So when you are working late at night or on weekends, you have to be mindful that while you feel you are being personally productive, you may be disturbing someone else.

How do I deal with this? If I am writing emails and responding at odd hours I may set an email up to actually send at a more appropriate time. Or I put things in draft form and set up a reminder to send them out at a more appropriate time. And I had to learn how to silence notifications, except for a select few on my phone, because I might be trying to be mindful of the time when I message people or email them, but others they don’t have the same compunction.

I work for myself and something that bugs me are people that think I should be available 24/7/365 even on holidays. Life doesn’t work that way, so I politely give them boundaries. “I am sorry that I couldn’t connect at that time dear client, I walk away from my email at X o’clock so I am present for my family.”

But then there are the people with whom you work with directly, or indirectly who never pick up on cues. Ever. You try to explain family time. Nope. You might have been sick. Nope. It doesn’t penetrate and it’s hard to deal with those with a lack of self awareness in this area. Those are the people whom I think you have to put on at least a temporary Amish shunning. Personally I am unapologetic about that after bosses from decades past who would literally call when I was home sick. I was never one who took recreational sick days, so if I was out sick, I was actually sick.

Being productive does not mean working 24/7/365. Don’t be a work martyr. The more life balance you have actually makes you MORE productive. It also shows your respect of others with whom you interact with and possibly work with as well.

I remember (and not fondly) the year-end and holiday frenzy when I was full on in the 5 days a week office trenches as in full time. People suddenly waking up to show how valuable (and neurotic) they were in hopes of getting that giant bonus. News flash: bonuses are the sum of the parts of the entire year. Be consistent all year round. Duh, it’s pretty simple.

And let’s talk bonuses. I remember being a sales assistant at Prudential Securities in the 80s. Brokers were getting big firm bonuses this one year at the holidays, yet the firm as in corporate, gave support staff a choice of a box of chocolates or a 5 pound canned Polish ham. Sales assistants and other support staff worked their asses off, so if you didn’t have a broker who paid you an actual bonus out of theirs, well that was not so fun. Back then I worked for a cheapskate who also wanted his assistants to cold call out of the social register.

I also remember what I called the “spawn tax.” Every year although who took what day off was supposed to be fair and equitable, it wasn’t. And if you were unmarried or without children you always got last pick of days off during the holidays. Try explaining that year after year to friends and family who wanted to do things with you. When I was single, I called it the “spawn tax” because if you didn’t have kids, there were plenty of co-workers who felt that you should just suck it up and let them take time off. Of course those were some of the same people shopping on QVC’s website during the work day.

This time of year, consideration matters. And in today’s world, boundaries should matter too. Unless of course one is pro-slavery.

Don’t be a Grinch and don’t be a Scrooge…and don’t be a suck up. Mutual respect also matters.

Happy Holidays from my desk to yours. I wish I could say I miss full on, full time Corporate America, but I do not.

And remember to tip and/or gift your service providers – USPS, refuse service folks, office cleaners. Even if you can’t afford money tips, a nice bag of Christmas cookies or something holiday festive is always appreciated. I tend NOT to give alcohol gifts because you don’t know who may have an issue.

And be thankful for what you have.

Carry on and Happy Holidays!

hey usps and louis dejoy, where’s the mail??

This was posted by a friend today:

I hate to sound nostalgic (AKA old!), but I fondly remember when the USPS managed to deliver mail REGULARLY. We — and our neighbors — have had no mail delivered since Tuesday, and that batch included only some of the mail that had been scheduled to land on Monday, when our carrier was also a no-show.

Because you can receive a daily email from USPS that shows images of what is scheduled to arrive in your box each day, it has been rather unsettling to see how many items qualify as missing. Well, the mystery has been solved.

This morning, my husband decided to pay a visit to the actual post office, after efforts to contact a human by phone went nowhere. A worker explained that the postal manager for the West Chester region issued an edict recently to deal with the agency’s short staffing: surreptitiously skipping delivery days. She said the office needs 80 carriers to handle the load: It has 40. As a result, she said we should expect to see a delivery every 2 or 3 days.

I guess the idea of notifying customers about the worker shortage wasn’t part of the plan. Would it really have been too difficult to put a notice in people’s boxes on their lucky delivery day? Perhaps some publicity about this problem would help solve it. Sigh. End of rant, but curious about whether this is happening in other areas.

~ Chester County Resident # 1

Now this is the second such tale in less than a week.

I have you on my mailing list but my mailman hasn’t been seen for five days. I was told that he had health problems but there were no replacements. Also, PO closed in town. So I will try for Christmas card instead.

~ Chester County Resident # 2

My second friend lives in the Borough of West Chester. She works from home and is self employed and well…mail is kind of essential.

So Louis De Joy you plastic arsehole, where’s the mail? Santa might want to deliver the Christmas cards himself I guess?

It’s time for Washington to deal with this. We need our mail. This is happening all over. It’s bullshit.

today.

Today is the day, Pennsylvania. No excuses. Get out and vote.

Happy Election Day!

From a friend who works the polls:

Please do not post photos of poll workers OR of your ballot. Please remember that people in line to vote NEVER ASKED TO BE IN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS- PLEASE DON’T POST THEIR FACES

If you want change in Pennsylvania, be the change. Use your power of your vote. Today is a day where people with a brain know the power of apathy and excuses for not getting to the polls to vote won’t cut it.

If you spot something wrong at your poll, call the police. Report it. Document it. Do not be intimidated by people at the polls and if that happens, call the police. Your vote is between you and your conscience.

This morning when I logged onto my blog’s Facebook page, to follow is what was waiting for me. I am giving you the screenshots I am not covering anything up. I am finished with being harassed by people like this.

And these are people, women like this especially, who don’t realize that the reason you fight for rights and free and fair elections is so even idiots like herself can have those rights. Bless her heart she is so limited in her personal worldview that she doesn’t get that visiting anyone’s Facebook page public or private is a privilege, not a right.

Needless to say she can shove it where the sun don’t shine. If this is who is lecturing anyone on manners, what a sad sorry state of affairs the world is.

If you choose not to vote, please don’t complain after the fact as you will only have yourself to blame.

I already voted. My vote is counted. I voted to protect a woman’s right to choose. as in every woman, no matter what that choice might be.

There’s nothing left to say. Go vote.

Pax

lmsd is front page over eminent domain…again

Lower Merion School District is front page news over Oakwell, next door to Stoneleigh in Villanova.

Why? Eminent domain….again

We shouldn’t be surprised because Lower Merion School District probably wields eminent domain or the threat of eminent domain more than any institution I’ve ever heard of. I could be wrong, I am sure there are some that do it more but in my worldview they are one of the worst offenders.

Lower Merion School District in my humble opinion has always abused eminent domain powers. It’s like they think they are LMSD and everybody should just bow down. 

In their vision quest with blinders they’ve gone after Stoneleigh, Ashbridge Park, etc. I think if they had bought this property with the intention of using the house as the administration building for the school district or something like that I wouldn’t care. But to so wantonly wish to destroy so much green space, so many trees, so much beauty for turf fields for middle schoolers is really kind of tone deaf in today’s world and it’s just wrong, pick a reason.

The house itself is super cool and historic. Things on the grounds are historic. There’s a teahouse with a beautiful giant old terra-cotta warrior who is just spectacular. It’s an amazing property, and once again it’s something that will be destroyed because of this school district if they aren’t stopped.

It doesn’t matter who the superintendent of the school district is, they just think if it’s something they want they can take it. Again, this is my opinion and I’m allowed to have it. I spent 30+ years living in Lower Merion Township.

Something else I find interesting is literally across the road is Delaware County and Radnor Township. How do they feel about this? How do their residents feel?

The whole Oakwell issue has been a slow burn that seems to have ignited. I don’t have a crystal ball on how it will play out, but I don’t think middle schoolers need turf fields and artificial turf as much as they need nature. Kids need to be able to be kids. A lot of kids today don’t want to be on organized sports teams. There are also field alternatives where they can share fields. But the problem with the school district is they don’t do anything nicely, sharing among them.

So once again we’re staring in the face of Lower Merion School District’s misplaced sense of entitlement.

The Philadelphia Inquirer did an amazing job on this article and I think everyone should read it.

Lower Merion schools’ condemnation of storied Main Line estate for ball fields encounters growing resistance

by Frank Kummer and Oona Goodin-Smith

Updated Nov. 3, 2022

John Bennett kindled the hearth on a recent day in what was once his 20,000-square-foot brick Tudor Revival manor replete with heavy wooden doors, wainscoted library, and Mercer floor tile.

The 72-year-old physician-turned-medical-device-entrepreneur recalled how he lost the home and its 10 acres off County Line Road in Villanova through eminent domain in 2018 to make way for middle-school athletic fields. The property, known as Oakwell, contains nearly 700 trees, some of which are thought to date back centuries.

“Everything happened so quickly that there was no way to save it,” Bennett said as he recounted stories about the house, including having a ghost exorcised.

The Lower Merion School District — one of the wealthiest in Pennsylvania — paid Bennett $9.9 million for the house and grounds in the condemnation with plans to clear-cut hundreds of the trees for athletic fields for newly opened Black Rock Middle School. Updated plans show it would keep the Oakwell mansion and a pool house, but a teahouse watched over by a terra cotta warrior, stone fencing, and a brick-walled garden complex all dating back at least 120 years would be razed. The $90 million middle school opened this year. The district plans to start breaking ground for the fields in June…..

What is eminent domain?

The taking of Oakwell marks one of several district attempts to build athletic fields for the new school. The board faced an outcry in 2018 when it tried to condemn part of the Stoneleigh estate next door, which is preserved under a conservation easement. Efforts to use the nearby Ashbridge Memorial Park were halted by a long-standing deed restriction. An attempt to use another nearby property also fizzled, while other lots were deemed unsuitable…..

Eminent domain — or the ability of the government to pay landowners to seize their private property for public use — is a power “inherent to the government,” said Matthew Hovey, a municipal attorney with the High Swartz law firm that represents clients in the area.

Typically, Hovey said, the power is used as a last resort as it can prove “politically unpopular” and may lead to costly and lengthy legal challenges.

~ Philadelphia Inquirer

#saveOakwell #stopLMSD

it’s november, so of course we need soup…french onion mushroom soup….

I have a slight obsession with French Onion Soup. I’ve written about it before and my quest to find and develop a recipe I really liked and I think that was in 2015. I have been fiddling and fiddling with the way I make it, and I think this is the best batch so far.

My friend Karen‘s mother made the best French Onion Soup I’ve ever had anywhere. It was even better than the H.A. Winston soup that we all loved growing up. But I’ve kind of developed my own now which isn’t bad if I do say so myself. But I definitely have a memory of being in Karen‘s mother’s kitchen when she had that soup cooking. The aroma and the fragrance of it just filled the room.

I start my soup the day before with roasting my beef bones in the oven for beef stock. Then I throw everything into a stockpot with wine, water, and a 32 oz. container of low salt beef broth. To that I had a couple of carrots, celery or Celeriac (celery root), onion, fresh herbs, and that’s how I make my beef broth. This time I made my beef bone broth with Celeriac, because that is what I had. I cook this for a few hours. I let it simmer and cook down and condense. If I do it in the instant pot it takes a lot less time for the broth component.

I prepare the beef bone broth the day before because I like to fish the bones out of the broth and dispose of them, and then put the broth in the refrigerator overnight because then as you can see from the photo I shared above, I can skim the fat off the top very easily. This bone broth I made this time was truly gorgeous. This morning it was totally gelatinous like a consommé. That’s what you want.

Also, people always ask me how many beef bones I use. Honestly? It varies and this time I had 10 beef bones.

I line a big sheet pan with aluminum foil. Then I sprinkle them with just a smidge of olive oil and add salt pepper, Herbes de Provence, and garlic. When I roast them I do it at a 375° oven. I just keep an eye on the oven I think they were roasted through in about 35 to 40 minutes. Then I just turned the oven off and let everything cool down a bit before I bring them out of the oven and throw them into the stockpot as indicated above.

These bones were actually a surprise I did not know I still had in the bottom of our chest freezer they had come with a meat order from our local butcher, Worrell’s. Truthfully, you really do have to go to a local farmers market meat purveyor, or a local butcher shop to get good bones. And ask before you want to make the soup, because it’s not like the good old days and they don’t always have the bones.

The next day I start with caramelizing my onions, and today’s onions are the last I will ever get at Pete’s Produce Farm in Westtown which makes me sad. I use a combination of red and white onions. I add a little salt, a couple of tablespoons of butter, and a couple of dashes of balsamic vinegar to the bottom of the pot. You do want to caramelize your onions, but pay attention or they will burn. I almost killed them today because I was on the phone when I was doing this.

I also add mushrooms now to my recipe and that is pretty much because my husband loves mushrooms. The mushrooms, Cremini, came from Pete’s as well. I am so going to miss the produce and that store because these mushrooms were the prettiest I’ve had all year to cook with. But I have to admit that adding mushrooms especially this kind to soup add another layer of flavor that is just wonderful.

When I’m putting it all together after the onions have cooked down and caramelized, if I feel there is not enough liquid, then I will use a little additional bone broth or Better Than Bouillon to help it along. And you also cannot forget your healthy dash of Flavor Master’s Gravy Master. Why? Because that is something they put in the H.A. Winston soup when they were making it.

Today I did add an 8 ounce container additionally of bone broth. I also added a good half a bottle of wine

I wish I had a more exact and proportionate recipe written down, but I don’t a lot of times I cook things by the way I think they feel.

I will serve my French onion soup in a few minutes with a little shredded Gruyère on top but I don’t do the whole thing with the big hunk of bread and put it in the broiler. That’s too much work for me. The soup is work enough on its own. Besides it’s something I always eat around French onion soup when I get it at a restaurant, anyway.

We are also having an arugula and spinach salad with elite seasoning tomato and a honey mustard vinaigrette.

Bon appétit 👩‍🍳

an old pot cleaning hack that is still the best

I am making soup. And I had to start at one step of the soup which involved caramelizing onions, and the phone rang. It was someone I hadn’t spoken with in a while and I moved to the next room to take the call and forgot about what I was cooking on the stove.

I am sorry I forgot to take a picture of what it looked like when I returned to the kitchen and almost had a stroke. I removed the onions that were caramelized and not utterly destroyed and put them in a mixing bowl.

But then I was looking at the bottom of the pan and I’m thinking to myself I am never going get this clean. And it’s one of my favorite pots (by Great Jones– I am a fan of their cookware.)

So I’m standing there wondering what I’m going to do and I remembered what my mother’s mother, my maternal grandmother taught us to do. She used to make a paste out of baking soda let it sit for a minute, then add water and basically boil it on the stove. The burnt on bits literally float to the top of the water surface which is what you see in the first photo.

Next you allow the pan to cool down and it’s an easy cleanup with not a lot of scrubbing. Basically I used one of those safe scrub sponges with Dawn dish soap on it and cleaned the rest up.

I don’t know if anyone else does this or knows about it. But I’m glad I remembered it this morning because the second photo you will see as what the pan looks like now.

I will now go back and start this step of my recipe over.

Sometimes old hacks are the best, and I was reminded not to leave my pans unattended when I’m cooking!

Have a great day!

things that matter: saying goodbye to pete’s produce

I have been coming here for 30 years” said the nice man yesterday who was taking photos of the farmhouse and remaining sunflowers like me. I think Pete Flynn AKA the Pete of Pete’s has been doing his thing for about 35 years. People tell me before he was a farmer with his namesake store, he was a truck farmer.

Yup. We all have been. Now granted for me, when I first discovered Pete’s I was a Main Liner, so I didn’t get out there often, but when I did, it was magical.

Going to Pete’s has always been magical. Decent prices, friendly people, plants, tradition….community.

But the magic is ending, and the auction signs have gone up and I am just sad.

Pete Flynn has been a beacon of hope in an area being swallowed up by development and pipelines. He deserves to retire, he has worked hard. What is sad is there is no one to take up the mantle after him. Now there will be no farm attached to Westtown School, just like there is no farm attached to Church Farm School. I hope the land is not eventually developed, but I don’t hold out much hope. No one wants to farm much any longer, and those who do have had land prices and taxes driven up by wanton development. That and government doesn’t adequately support farmers on any level.

I do not know how long his website will remain, so I am sharing it now. I hope he keeps it up. I really wish this wonderful place wasn’t leaving us. Farms and farmers deserve a better deal.

Thanks for the memories and great produce, Pete. Thanks for doing something that matters.

ladies who lunch en masse, connect via linkedin?

LinkedIn. I don’t know. I’ve never quite gotten it. It’s never really done anything for me, except personally allowed me to connect to some friends and former co-workers I don’t see or speak with very often who aren’t on any other social media platform.

But has LinkedIn ever done anything for me professionally? I don’t know truthfully, but I kind of do use it as a place to share my blog posts. I have also discovered by accident it’s a place where corporate America goes to hide so if you have a problem it’s a great place to tag people to get something accomplished because it makes their marketing departments vibrate to get what they deem unwanted attention.

LinkedIn is also a place where people go to spy on other people. As a blogger, people do that to me all of the time. And I am always amused by who is looking.

I was also fascinated when I saw this article recently :

CNBC: PSYCHOLOGY AND RELATIONSHIPS
Why is everyone crying on LinkedIn? Users share why they’re getting so personal on the networking site

Published Wed, Sep 28 2022 12:02 PM EDT
Updated Wed, Sep 28 2022 4:11 PM EDT
Aditi Shrikant
@ADITI_SHRIKANT

“Dominic hit Kai in the face with a broom,” begins Kwame Christian’s LinkedIn post. Christian is an attorney and CEO at the American Negotiation Institute

“Understandably, Kai wasn’t thrilled about it…..

It continues like this for another eight, double-spaced lines before Dominic and Kai reconcile under Christian’s guidance. 

If you’ve scrolled through LinkedIn lately, you know Christian’s post is not unique.

Stories from and about crying CEOs, overwhelmed parents, and burnt out millennials have ferried us into an entirely new type of LinkedIn — one that looks a lot like Facebook.

The flooding of the professional platform with selfies, family photos, and somewhat chaotic “life lessons” was propelled by the pandemic and bolstered by LinkedIn’s algorithm favoring more personal content.

~ CNBC 9/28/22

Ahhh get personal, it’s good marketing. I see.

LinkedIn is amusing and the beautiful online place for marketing departments then? Honestly this is a fascinating article and I really suggest people read it. It touches on our over-sharing on social media in general, and how it is used now like a marketing tool on LinkedIn.

“We came out of the pandemic struggling with finding a work-life balance and we saw other people being forthcoming with those challenges,” she says. 

When she posted her own story, she felt re-affirmed that it got so much interaction. 

“It reminded me that business is run by people and we all have lives,” she says. “At least for me, seeing people at their desk doing exercise, seeing it come to life, it all seems more achievable.”

~ CNBC 9/28/22

I guess the thing is I don’t see my life as a marketing tool. If I feel like sharing I’m just sharing, I’m not sharing so I get a new customer.

But the other thing about LinkedIn that is starting to grind on my nerves is the amount of unsolicited messages we get. Take this morning for example:

So Mary Elizabeth, what made you choose me to ask? Was that just some list you purchased? Or did you just go through and do a search for women in the area? Why would you think anything I did would be interesting? How is your group “curated“ to help me do what I do? It sounds like a marketing pitch, dear. Marketing pitch as in sales pitch. So again what specifically drew me to you for dining en masse?

This is actually just a marketing solicitation/sales pitch to me, isn’t it? Kind of like have dinner at Red Lobster and meet your perfect financial advisor?

First of all if you actually knew me, you know the last thing I want to do is be in a room full of women who are strangers at lunch talking about themselves. And if you actually knew me, you would know I never, ever will fit this mold.

Also there is nothing on earth more suspicious than the supposed “free lunch“ from strangers is there? And why do I say that? Because it comes with a sales pitch. People, come on now, try to keep up. There is no such thing as a free lunch, remember that saying?

This isn’t because someone has an interest in me as an individual human being at 58, this is just me as a body to get into a room in the hopes you can sell me something.

And these purported all female empowering networking groups are they really that? Or is it just an excuse for some of them to promote themselves to you? because the real hard-working women I know out there never have time for things like this because why? Oh yes… they’re actually working.

And it goes back to why do they really want to have lunch with me? And why do they presume that I want to have lunch with them? Selfishly, I hope they sent an invitation to somebody I went to high school with who is now completely and truly off her rocker because that would be really funny. Just hope there is no open bar, right?

If I have lunch it’s with friends, or family. I’m kind of past the stage of the Melrose Place power suit and lunch. I don’t even like wearing make up unless I pretty much have to. Maybe that is a subconscious thing in me revolting from the years gone by where you had to wear make up, suits, and pantyhose to work. Or maybe it’s just because I find the whole idea of this so utterly boring. Or maybe it’s a combination of both.

When I lunch with the ladies, they’re my ladies. We’ve known each other for years and we’re getting together. Or it’s a quick hour with a colleague. But it’s not something super contrived in a restaurant where I can buy my own lunch.

Things I have observed about super marketing over the years includes often in the marketing departments it’s hype and fluff, but in reality can they deliver? Or is it just about the hype and a golden façade and you are never supposed to see behind the magic curtain?

Dining en masse with strangers so you can be sold something isn’t my idea of fun. Sorry.

And please, can someone tell me why any of us truly should stay on LinkedIn? And does anyone ever really get anything beneficial out of their paid platform?

Life is just a funny place to be some days. And then there is LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by.

hmmm all that glitters and all that

The Republican Committee of Chester County has issues. Everyone knows that. But who knew that the groups, etc even they pander to might umm be shall we say dissension in the ranks? And it’s funny considering how the Chester County GOP shares their social media postings at times, right? Of course then after something they share from one of these groups causes a problem it magically disappears from their Facebook feed, but it doesn’t mean their hands are clean does it?

The above examples are just examples from one of the originating pages and predictably distasteful. But this page, Chester County Coalition of Republican Women doesn’t speak for all Republican women, so I have some screenshots to share. The other interesting thing about the screenshots is that this page doesn’t necessarily have love lost for the official Chester County Republican page and isn’t that amusing?

Anyway….how are these people actually Republicans or true conservatives? It’s like they would all just eat their young given half a chance. Just Stepford Wives for Totalitarianism in another outfit. And one would hope that the Republican Committee of Chester County would learn to source their fake news better, right?