a thank you is in order

In 2016 I wrote five pieces for Vista Today. As many know, including my writing mentors, the editor at that time stiffed me. Also the person had all of these weird reasons for not paying like all of a sudden I was supposed to charge the people I was doing articles about which really made me scratch my head because a couple of the things I had done were obituaries so what did I do send the estate a bill or something? And of course also telling me I was a horrible writer and it took too long to edit me. (People who had edited me professionally actually laughed out loud at that when I asked them was I so bad.)

I chased what I was owed for a while and then I felt well screw them they can choke on the money. But still it sat with me a little bit because it was the principle of the issue.

Then a few days ago I got an email asking for nominations for something Vista was doing and I was feeling cranky. I replied back that I wouldn’t nominate Mickey Mouse essentially since they ghosted me on what I was owed a few years ago.

Guess what? They paid me. I received the check today just like they promised.

It was never, ever a dollar amount that would have broken me financially, it was the principal of the thing: I did the work, they have kept the articles on their website. And when you work for yourself and you’re a freelancer, it can be really difficult when people either stiff you or are slow pay. I am fortunate that this is the only time something like this happened to me.

So while I don’t agree necessarily with the way they do business all of the time, or the fact that they have some kind of involvement with Energy Transfer Company – it’s called “An Affiliated Partner”, I am saying thank you for making my issue right and paying me. (But I do think Energy Transfer anywhere on your website is not a good look.)

Thank you Ken Knickerbocker and Vista Today for paying me for those articles. I appreciate people who keep their word.

the new trend in willistown, the land of farms and open space is NOFIMBY?

So in 2014 there was this little video done by one Robert Van Alen, a Realtor. Related to Bonnie Van Alen of Willistown Conservation Trust fame we are to presume? Now I am sure as soon as it is seen to exist still on the internet it will disappear, but until then:

So imagine the joy when a nice young family saw that their dreams to own a farm that sells FLOWERS was possible, right?

So yes, a little slice of heave called Wildflower Farm was born.

But then they moved to Castlebar Lane, which has the neighbors from hell, and yes I can indeed have that opinion. Why are these neighbors so hell bent for leather to make the dream of an organic flower farm an nightmare?

And why are these neighbors NOFIMBY ?

NOFIMBY is a new acronym developed just for this ridiculous issue in Willistown It means No Farm In My Back Yard.

So yes you ask, why are we still discussing this? Because…

Oh yes, the NOFIMBY neighbors of Castlebar Lane and adjacent streets (because no all in that suit actually LIVE on Castlebar Lane) have now filed suit against their township.

Please note a very neat trick for one neighbor in particular who sits as an appointed official on the Willistown Planning Commission, right? I mean this guy as an appointed official is supposed to uphold the laws of the township like all other appointed and elected officials, right? So how is suing the township whose laws you are supposed to uphold a thing he should be doing? Shouldn’t he step down or be removed?

But I digress.

Because the other wonder is a person who doesn’t live on Castlebar, but has real estate lots there but has other property in Willistown, yet claims to have primary residence in Wyoming? Why would they care? And given their support of Willistown Conservation Trust (see this nifty article on Willistown Conservation Trust website and note photo lower right.) one would think they would find an ORGANIC FLOWER FARM ( Wildflower Farm) TO THEIR LIKING, right?

Come to think of it again I ask why isn’t Willistown Conservation Trust publicly supporting Wildflower Farm? Or are they and we all just are oblivious?

Back to the matter at hand:

Seriously, what strange hell is this? So is this really an appeal of Zoning Hearing Board decision, the settlement agreement between Willistown and Wildflower Farm, some kind of private enforcement action against Wildflower Farm, and some DEP thing that the DEP already settled?

Oh and the settlement agreement is executed and public so here:

So now what is the pretzel logic of these neighbors? Why do they hate farms so much? Why did they even move to Willistown Township if they have such issues with farms and open space on farms?

I think this is very sad. Do state laws surrounding farms not matter? Do Willistown’s laws not matter? Do farms and open space not matter? Why is ok for Radnor Hunt, their horses, pack, and follow cars OK to be on Castlebar (a public road FYI), but not a flower farm? Especially when people visiting flower farm park on flower farm? When you think of Willistown don’t you think of horses, Radnor Hunt, open space and FARMS?

Is these because these people were told NO ?

Sigh….happy new year, Chester County….

Street view of Wildflower Farm from real estate listing before Wildflower Farm came to be. Still pretty much the same view except for better maintenance and tree pruning.

christmas traditions, baking, and even a miracle

As I have mentioned in previous years on this blog, in our neighborhood we have our own little tradition. We leave each other a little gift. I delivered mine yesterday and so did my one next-door neighbor, and bit by bit there are more little surprises appearing on our doorsteps in time for Christmas. We know these elves well, they are our neighbors. And this is one of my favorite Christmas traditions since moving to this neighborhood.

The neighborhood behind us does luminaries up and down their street on Christmas Eve. We see it through our woods from upstairs and it’s so lovely to look at!

I have done my baking including the Christmas stollen. This year I tried a new recipe using sourdough starter and oh and how it did rise! I did deviate slightly because I filled mine with marzipan.

I also made Lebkuchen for the first time. I could not find those German wafers you are supposed to use so I used a King Arthur recipe that makes them like bar cookies. This is the case with many king Arthur recipes I have discovered over the years I have had to tweak it. Their recipe was very dry and it omitted powdered anise which most other recipes contain. You don’t use a lot just a little smidgen. To combat the dryness of the dough, and I added about four or 5 tablespoons of buttermilk. The dough also completely crumbled apart once I was able to start to roll it the next day so I ended up pressing it into the pan. But it did turn out well and I added more liquid to the glaze because 2 tablespoons of brandy was not enough. I actually used about 4. I actually used a local Brandy that is apple brandy from Manatawny Still Works .

I will note I tried to tell King Arthur flour about the issues in their recipe and they were kind of ridiculous about it. Told me maybe I lived in a dry high altitude climate. (Umm no, live in Chester County, PA) and then they had to tell me how maybe I let some extra flower “slip into the bowl”. Umm no again so I will just tell you all my workarounds.

I didn’t get around to my anisette cookies or biscotti this year, but I baked a whole bunch of still traditional Christmas cookies. Big soft ginger cookies, sugar cookies, a couple different kind of chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, and white chocolate oatmeal cookies. On one batch of the chocolate chip cookies I was in too much of a rush and I forgot to add the eggs. So they ended up like chocolate chip lace cookies. Still perfectly edible.

Now for my Christmas miracle. I just found out that one of my growing up friends who lives in upstate New York just emerged from a coma. She was in a coma for the past two months.

It was kind of freaky the way I found out I just had this weird feeling because I hadn’t heard from her and we usually speak every couple of months. I thought about her a few days ago because I heard the old Kansas song “dust in the wind”. She and one other person I know from high school loved that song. And then the other day she just popped into my head and I realized I hadn’t heard from her.

I went to call her cell phone and the call just dropped and went nowhere. So I went to social media and saw that her brother had posted she’s been in a coma and was awake. So thanks to Facebook I was able to message and then video chat with her yesterday. That makes her the official Christmas miracle. She literally could have never ever woken up.

It was one of those things where everyone who knew thought those of us who did not know knew, only we didn’t. She was even a story in a newspaper in Auburn, NY that contains a link to a Go Fund Me to help with expenses. Yes she has health insurance, but another thing happened to her while she was in a coma for two months: somebody who went to “visit her“ in the hospital made off with her cell phone and the bank card that was tucked inside the case that no one knew was there.

As she told me yesterday this person essentially cloned her identity, emptied her bank account, and sold her expensive phone to one of those we buy used phone places near her. That apparently was caught on some kind of security camera I guess it was in a mall. As I am told the police have not apprehended this person yet but Karma is a bitch and they should just turn themselves in. I mean how do you do that to somebody in a coma? I hope as an additional Christmas present somebody turns that person in, and I think that if the phone was sold at a place that buys used phones, obviously that store knows who they are and they should come forward because that cell phone contained photos of her son who passed away a couple years ago and also of her late mother.

But for the grace of God go any of us, and his Christmas day is now literally right around the corner, I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed Christmas. I also hope everyone is safe because Covid is on the rise again.

If I don’t post again, I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas.

wondering about willistown conservation trust and a public meeting TONIGHT about rock creek farm

Willistown Conservation Trust (WCT) used to be an organization I thought was awesome… but to be honest that was many years ago when some I knew worked there and were involved there. As time has passed I have wondered like many of these nonprofits, if they are more about being like a club and social than their actual mission? And are they a little insular and perhaps not as welcoming as they should be to what their membership perceives as outsiders? (Radnor Conservancy also comes to mind with this train of thought because what do they actually do and what have they done in years?)

I was wondering about them (WCT) when we all found out what Wildflower Farm was going through because of their “neighbors”. I put “neighbors” in quotes because these people don’t act like neighbors and I’m allowed that opinion. I found it strange that Willistown Conservation Trust (WCT) hadn’t spoken up in favor of this farm. And if they did speak up in favor of Wildflower Farm by all means someone tell me and I will stand corrected but I can’t find it anywhere can you?

And then I found out that the family that owns the farm is supportive of Willistown Conservation Trust (WCT) so now that a settlement agreement has been inked between Willistown Township and Wildflower Farm will they actually support a farm, family, and business that kinda sorta live the philosophies espoused by WCT?

And then there is the whole Rock Hill Farm of it all, isn’t there? Considering who’s on the board of WCT, is it just me who finds it odd that after all these years none of the land on that farm made it into conservation before someone died?

I don’t really have a horse in the race of Rock Hill Farm, but considering the sheer amount of acreage and history, it would be nice if at least a good part of it was conserved, right ? How many fields of McMansions do we need in one county? And if it’s not McMansions it’s fake carriage homes and town houses where everyone is squeezed in like lemmings. And then the third option of course are unattractive institutional looking apartment buildings.

Now tonight there is a meeting about Rock Hill Farm. The Daily Local has an article about it:

Daily Local: Public hearing set to save Rock Hill Farm and thwart development in Willistown
Public meeting set Dec. 15

📌📌WILLISTOWN — Professionals in the legal, land planning and engineering professions are assisting neighbors and community members working to save Rock Hill Farm, one of the township’s most scenic, environmentally threatened and historic estates, from unwanted and potentially destructive development.

Plans have been proposed to develop large sections of the property, located in the Great Valley School District. More than 100 people attended each of two township planning commission meetings at which these plans were presented.

Doubts have been raised, suggesting that these plans do not comply with the Township Zoning Code. Large sections of the Rural Zoning District of Willistown are conserved farms and nothing like the proposed plans exists in that agricultural and natural area of the township.

The Rock Hill Farm property has long been a Willistown Township ecological gem worthy of protection. The property, located at 2320 South Valley Road and 185 Grubb Road, includes more than 200 acres of old-growth forests, wetlands, rolling hills and streams. Crum Creek, one of the purest waterways in the region, runs through the property.

Those interested in assisting in community efforts to influence the future of Rock Hill Farm are invited to attend a public meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, at 7 p.m. at Waynesborough Country Club, 440 Darby Paoli Road, Paoli.

The speakers will include a team of professionals, including attorney George Asimos, land planner Tom Comitta and engineer Chuck Dobson….Rock Hill, since 1985, has been preserved by the family of Tristram C. Colket Jr., a grandson of John T. Dorrance Sr., founder of the Campbell Soup fortune…Rock Hill has been an operating farm, growing plants in the greenhouses, bee keeping, raising chickens and harvesting an apple orchard.

The property came up for sale after his death in 2020.📌📌

So I just wonder about stuff sometimes. I also wonder who else wonders?

If you are interested in Rock Hill Farm I suggest you make time for this meeting this evening. I believe it to be ONLY in person I have not heard anything about virtual streaming.

magnolia cottage shop in malvern is looking magical and holiday bright!

Last year none of us were out much because of COVID19. This year we are taking baby steps. It is sometimes disconcerting being out because face it, we are not used to it. I think that’s why I appreciate the small businesses in our area even more.

One of my favorites, Magnolia Cottage Shop is all decked out for Christmas and Kathy the owner has gone out of her way to make it so wonderful and welcoming. The shop is full of so many fun things right now, I could have stayed far longer than I did!

I found a few things I loved including this little vintage Annalee white elf. I don’t know much about these Christmas collectibles, I have a couple of friends that love them so I have gotten a few here and there over the years and I think this one is a Frosty! He looks really cute on my tree!

Magnolia Cottage Shop has something for everyone and one of my other favorite things were the vintage Pimpernel Santa placemats:

Magnolia Cottage Shop is located at 288 Lancaster Avenue Frazer/Malvern PA 19355. They are closed Mondays. See website and Facebook and Instagram for more!

art imitates life or life imitates art?

In 1998 a little show launched on HBO called “Sex and the City” based on Candace Bushnell’s 1997 book of the same title.

That show spoke to so many women. I was 34 when it launched. So 23 years have passed and I still watch re-runs of the show. With the show you also had all the fabulous New York City settings and the clothes…and the shoes…. I still can love the shoes and still not be able to walk in them!

The show back then was not only a fun escape, it also provided humor into the lives of women then. As far as TV goes it was ground breaking in its own right. We identified with some aspects of the life situations (though a lot of it was often portrayed in a campy unrealistic fashion), and wished we had the clothes, shoes, and even apartments and more.

I remember some of my friends and I knew a guy we used to call “Mr.Big” (like one of the characters from the show.) We didn’t date him, he used to come down from NYC and visit other friends sometimes for things like Radnor Hunt. Expensive cars, expensive cigars, big career. At the time it was kind of amusing. Always fun to be around, and if you ever happened to be in New York City, and he was free, he would always take you out for a fabulous dinner or drinks. I remember having dinner with him one time at The Monkey Bar, which was definitely New York City iconic, and closed during COVID in July, 2020. The guy we laughed at being a very “Big” and larger than life died in 2008 in NYC. He was 48.

Sex and the City ran as a series until 2004. Then there were two movies, one in 2008 and one in 2010.

Meanwhile, time passes for all of us. Some of us got married, others divorced, and some of us were liberated from bad relationships and were fortunate to find the relationships we should have waited for life to show us in the first place. Some of us had kids, some of us didn’t. Some of us got sick, had things like breast cancer. Some of us were widowed and lost life partners.

We’re not kids anymore. So it makes sense that some of the TV characters some of us followed for years would also grow and change, yet parts of them like parts of ourselves remain the same. Enter the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That.

I watched the first two episodes early this morning, before I even had coffee. Yes, I know, ridiculous at 57, but I loved that show. I wanted to see where they went.

I wasn’t disappointed, and if you loved the show, you will too. It’s real, it’s funny, and the first two episodes, much of it is bittersweet. They covered the no Samantha thing as actress Kim Cattrall chose not to reprise her role. Her part was pretty iconic, so I’m glad they did not try to recast her because I don’t think it would work .

Spoiler alert: they moved Samantha to London. And like happens to many of us as we age, some friendships don’t stand the test of time, and this is what is alluded to here. But the biggest spoiler is literally kill off Mr. Big in the first episode. That was fairly realistic and so sad. And a shock. Throughout the first series we always rooted for the off again and on again relationship of Carrie and Mr. Big. But I guess that is the case with real life, with age, also comes loss.

But even within this kind of television earthquake is so much of what we love about the original series. The characters are just older. They are dealing with different things: career shifts, kids growing up, dealing with teenagers of both sexes, being parents. And the clothes. Still great. And the sets? Still amazing. It’s adulting with flair, and they still have the clothes, cool apartments and houses that made the original show so fun.

I think this show is going to be a nice escape this winter and I hope it does more than one season. It is not Shakespeare, and it’s not the world that most of us live in, although certain situations with touch us, but it’s still entertaining to watch. And it reflects bits of our world as it now exists.

Life doesn’t stand still frozen in time, so I am guessing our TV shows can’t either.

Here are some articles about it:

Hollywood Reporter: ‘Sex and the City’ Boss on His HBO Max Revival: “This Isn’t What Was; It’s What’s Next”

Washington Post: ‘And Just Like That …’ is ‘Sex and the City’ for 2021: A bloated, laugh-free comedy about grief

Time: Why that Big twist was necessary

New York Magazine: And Just Like That … Series-Premiere Recap: A New Start
By Maggie Fremont

the little christmas things

“It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”
— W.T. Ellis

For years I have been hunting for a mistletoe ball like the one that hung from a chandelier in our house when I was really little. I have seen some from time to time, but they were never quite right.

Until today. And it was like a friend of mine reached decades into the past and pulled it forward. I have found the doppelgänger of the one from my childhood!

I hung my new old mistletoe ball on a chandelier that may have hosted the original one in my parents house in the 1960s.

It’s such a simple thing and really gave me some extra Christmas spirit today.

Thanks for stopping by.

festive and fun: creekside antiques downingtown by the brandywine

Today was a lot of fun a friend and I had the chance to go back to Creekside Antiques Downingtown by The Brandywine. We hadn’t been in a long time, and it was nice to see them open and busy after all they experienced with Hurricane Ida.

Creekside is as wonderful as ever! I highly recommend going in and checking out all the fun. I scored an amazing vintage Santa tree topper, a skiing nordic gnome, a felted reindeer, and a couple of other things.

I am not being asked to promote them, I am merely a happy customer and paying it forward.

Creekside is located at 35 W. Lancaster Avenue, Downingtown, PA 19335 (610)-269-5589.

#ShopSmall #ShopLocal

happy thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving readers! Preparations are underway in my house and the pie is not as perfect as I had hoped, but will taste good. This year‘s pie is pumpkin with maple sugar candied pecans and diced candied ginger.

My husband brined the bird (a beautiful fresh turkey from Loags in Elverson, PA). Now the lady of the day is resting in refrigerated splendor waiting to be stuffed and roasted. The stuffing has been prepared and is also being refrigerated in a mixing bowl. This year I am doing a sage and sausage stuffing with mushrooms and diced apricots.

This year I chunked and par boiled the sweet potatoes slightly . I will roast them in the oven when the turkey comes out to rest. I think they will be roasted savory and sweet with just a hint of spice. I will also be serving a green salad with a maple mustard vinaigrette and it will be topped with some candied walnuts and cranberries. And yes there is homemade cranberry sauce. This year I made cranberry sauce with tangerines.

I don’t actually consult lots of cookbooks for Thanksgiving. It’s kind of based on things I’ve seen, other things I’ve been reading about and flavor profiles that I just think will go together. If you can read my chicken scratch and homemade shorthand you can see some of what I wrote down because I do write it down sort of…

I’m lucky this year I have lots of fresh herbs in the garden and although I’m only making one pie and one turkey as opposed to Martha Stewart posting on Instagram the ridiculous amount of turkeys and pies she was baking. I guess she’s feeding an entire town or something.

I think one of the things I love best about Thanksgiving or the smells that fill the house. It’s familiar, comfortable, holiday.

I also watched the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time in decades. It was really good! I think I liked it better than the New York parade! It was more holiday happy!

Anyway Happy Thanksgiving all!

thanksgiving 2021

I don’t know that I have anything particularly profound to say this Thanksgiving. It has been quite a slog these past two years between hideous politics and COVID-19. This will be the year that a lot of us finally have a true holiday with family. Hopefully it will be a day to just pause and be together.

Some will travel, others will open their doors to friends and family. For some I know, it will be a perhaps bittersweet and poignant start to the holiday season – it has been a year of loss for so many.

I lost a few friends this year who passed away. Two were friends I made in adulthood, two were among the great ladies of my childhood, and one more recently was a neighbor for many years and a friend for so many more years preceding that.

How do we honor these wonderful people who were in our lives? I guess by trying to be the best people we can be. It made me think of this Dutch Hymm we used to sing this time of year when we were at St. Peter’s titled “We Gather Together”.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday filled with history and tradition. Hopefully we can all gather and have wonderful days wherever we are. Awesome that will mean watching endless football, and the first year I do that will be I don’t know when because I don’t really watch football. And I bet some of my armchair critics are saying “Aha that’s what’s wrong with her!” (Should I ‘fess up that I don’t like beer now too?)

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday for us and dates back to 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is now acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the “colonies.”

For the centuries that followed here in the US, “days of thanksgiving” were celebrated by individual colonies and then states. It wasn’t until 1863, during the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

This year a lot of Thanksgiving Day Parades will return. Our new normal thanks to COVID19 will be meeting our old normal, Thanksgiving Day Parades and activities.

But for some the holiday season is hard, and it kicks off tomorrow. I hope they get through it o.k.

Take tomorrow to enjoy your time with your people whomever they may be: your family, your friends, your neighbors. And take a moment to give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving.