life’s little observations

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Something occurred to me the other day.  And I am not a psychologist or expert in the field of how negativity affects people, especially where they live, so these are merely my opinions and observations.

Stress and it’s impacts on us is widely studied.  This article from 2018 was insightful-  Stress and our mental health – what is the impact & how can we tackle it?. So was this article- Psychological Stress, Physical Stress, and Emotional Stress, and this one – All the Ways Living in a City Messes With Your Mental Health.

We live in an area that was bucolic and peaceful. Agricultural and equine heritage and traditions.  It is now being overrun by development.  Every time you turn around, another community is threatened. That is stressful if you are directly affected/impacted, and it can raise your blood pressure just driving by a place where you used to see cows, or horses swishing their tails while they grazed to seeing how  it is now just a big pit of scraped earth or budding Tyvec-wrapped communities where everyone is or will be jammed in like lemmings.

And then there are all of the pipeline sites. They are ugly and raw and NOISY.  People’s property values are declining, their wells being poisoned by whatever the heck it all is they drill with (there are enough articles in local papers etc about this, right?) And we can’t forget the sinkholes. When I was first coming out to Chester County before I moved here, I used to love when I turned on 352 off of West Chester Pike if I came that way.  All of a sudden it was just green with rolling stretches of lawn and trees. Now it is a raped landscape that actually stresses me out just driving by it, so I can’t even imagine how directly affected residents feel.

Or other area stressers like contested sites within municipalities where state agencies like PennDOT are concerned.  Take the site of Route 352 (A/K/A N. Chester R or Sproul Rd) and King Road in Malvern.  This directly affects residents in East Whiteland and East Goshen.

And here we are at year end and no one knows what is happening for sure at that intersection, and that includes the directly affected residents.  Will they face any eminent domain? Will they face a complete loss of certain properties through eminent domain? It’s a big mystery. And I watch email after email by affected residents go by to municipal officials and PennDOT.  PennDOT never replies. It is like they are ignoring the residents utterly and completely, which adds to the feelings of stress, dismay and uncertainty.

Is it just me or have any of you noticed how people aren’t putting up their usual Christmas displays in some of these areas targeted by pipelines, development,  construction, and PennDOT? This is what I have noticed, and it bums me out to see houses usually bright and cheery at the holidays look dark and sad. But in all fairness, if you were facing any of these things, how cheerful and full of Christmas spirit would you feel?

Life can be hard, that is the reality of life.  But for a lot of these people, it shouldn’t be so hard. These folks moved here and bought their homes to raise their families.  Their piece of the American Dream.  You live right, pay your taxes, are part of your community.  And your home is indeed your castle, and for a lot of these people there are quite literally barbarians at the gate.

Elected officials NEED to think about how these scenarios are affecting their constituents. All they have to do is drive by and notice how the longer these negative issues persist, how they affect people. Real people. People who in a lot of cases voted for them. It shows in the little things like gardening and holiday decorations.  I think it is criminal to drive by homes where you know the owners were once so house proud and see these changes.

Just some of life’s little observations.  Wishing these people peace.

in the shadow of the goshen fire company on greenhill and boot

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I still do not understand how it is Sunoco/Energy Transfer/Sunoco Logistics is doing anything next to a fire house?

How is this even safe?  I thought firehouses were supposed to be respected and protected? How can our first responders keep us safe when they are literally not safe?

This is what it used to look like:

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Now it’s this and I just don’t get it:

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for the love of goats

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One of the New Kids on The Block at Yellow Springs Farm

Ha! That title caught your eye, eh gentle readers?

Good! I love my Yellow Springs Farm goats! Well they aren’t really my goats but I love them. And every year, this time of year Yellow Springs Farm has open farm weekends :

Sat, 05/18/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Sun, 05/19/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Yellow Springs Farm Native Plant Nursery and Artisanal Goat Cheese Dairy, will be having our Springs Native Plant sale over 2 weekends in May. Originally a dairy farm 150 years ago,the farm and nursery consists of an historic farmhouse, dairy barn, a springhouse with pond on 8 acres of land. We grow native plants, design and install native landscapes and produce over 25 varieties of fresh and aged artisanal goat cheeses. So come on out and take a picture on our Open Farm day weekends(May 11th/12th and May 18th and 19th) with our Nubian Goats, sample cheeses, and see our blooming wildflowers! Plant experts will be available to help you select plants for your garden or landscape plan.

It’s a little slice of heaven. The goats are total characters. The plants are awesome – I have planted three gardens with them now. And the goat cheese and yogurt? Award winning for a very good reason – totally delicious.

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People visiting with the goats this weekend.

I have known the farmers Catherine and Al Renzi for years.  I remember back to circa 2001 when they decided to start their farm and when they bought it.

Over the years a well-deserved following has developed and the event has grown…as in the number of visitors increases every year. And this is where I am going to open my big mouth because it is a distinct privilege being able to visit Catherine and Al’s farm. And no, I don’t work or speak for the farm, I am speaking my mind based upon what I saw out of guests this year that I thought wasn’t the best behavior ever considering these farmers open up their farm (where they live and work) to all of us. 

Let’s start with parking.  They know their farm and their road so they tell you quite politely where to park.  That doesn’t mean the road and it doesn’t mean parking in roped off areas of the farm or blocking people in or even taking what amount to multiple spaces. Be polite, you are a guest.

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This is a farm. Not a dog park.

Pets.  This weekend people bought their dogs. Yes their dogs like it was a dog park.  It’s not a dog park, it’s a working farm with valuable animals including the farm’s own dog.  It is simply not fair to presume YOUR pets are welcome.  Keep them at home. Please. That’s like bringing uninvited guests to a sit-down dinner party.

The goats.  The goats are lovely creatures who are independent minded.  So listen to the goat herders. They know their charges.  And please do not feed their charges.  They have plenty of their own food.  Yes, they look at you with those big brown eyes but resist LOL, resist!

The plants. The plants are awesome!  Around 200 varieties of native plants. From all over the Mid Atlantic and Northeast.  I bought my first witch hazels ever here years ago.  On Saturday I had an impulse buy: one of my favorite kinds of oak trees, a Chestnut Oak. It was here at Yellow Springs that I discovered one of my favorite native perennials called Indian Pinks. Also flame azaleas.

And the cheeses? Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmm.  I recommend the goat cheese with mushrooms that was recommended to me this weekend. I can’t remember it’s proper name but it was delicious.

Yellow Springs Farm is located at:

1165 Yellow Springs Rd  
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania 19425
 (610) 827-2014
 www.yellowspringsfarm.com

Enjoy the goat photos and thanks for stopping by.

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#tbt gunkle spring mill in east whiteland

DSC_8213Yes…more life got in the way and I never posted these photos after Chester County Day in October and well…enjoy them now!

Gunkle Spring Mill is a very cool treasure in East Whiteland Township.

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like visiting an old friend: going back to baldwin’s book barn

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Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night, have a passing thought, go back to sleep?  Well, my weird passing thought in the wee small hours overnight was I had not been to Baldwin’s Book Barn on Lenape Road in literally about 20 years!

I am and always have been a bibliophile. A bookworm. A book hoarder. I love my books.  They have moved with me thoughout my life. Even books from my childhood. Books from my parents. Cookbooks. History books. Gardening books. Fiction by Laura Ingalls Wilder to Daphne DuMaurier to Elizabeth Goudge to Marguerite de Angeli to Dickens to Robert Frost and the list goes on.  I married another bibliophile.  We love out books and they are all over the house in various bookshelves.

Growing up I loved the book store at Bryn Mawr College known as The Owl.  The college disbanded the beloved Owl years ago to make way for progress. There is still The Title Page in Bryn Mawr (which was started originally by ladies who were at The Owl), and that is amazing, but for those of us in Chetser County, and book nuts in general, there is nothing like Baldwin’s Book Barn. Nothing.

And yes, when I popped awake in the middle of the night last night, my mind was on a big stone barn full of books…Baldwin’s Book Barn. What’s not to love? A giant Chester County stone barn built in 1822 filled to the rafters with books? Used books, out of print books, rare books, fun books, paperback books, bags of specially priced books….it’s book Nirvana…and it’s Chester County tradition.

As per their website:

William and Lilla Baldwin established their used book and collectible business in 1934 in nearby Wilmington, DE. In 1946 they moved to “The Barn”. The old milking house was converted into a residence for the Baldwin Family and the stone barn became the bookshop and for some years, a country store museum. We are located deep in the heart of the enchanting and historical Brandywine Valley. Baldwin’s Book Barn is one of America’s truly distinctive bookstores. Step inside and you are transported to another time and place. Today, our store is stuffed to the rafters with a treasure trove of 300,000 used and rare books, manuscripts, maps as well as fine paintings, prints, estate antiques, and other valued collectibles.

Store Hours: 10AM – 6PM Every Day
Except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
Baldwin’s Book Barn
865 Lenape Road, West Chester, PA 19382
Phone: 610-696-0816        E-mail: info@bookbarn.com

So when I woke up woke up this morning and my husband asked what else I would like to do today, I said “let’s go to Baldwin’s Book Barn.”  So to the Book Barn we went. And it was like visiting a fondly remembered old friend.

Ahhh the smell of books greets you still even with the door just cracked!!!  And the door still creaked the same was going in. Still the same smell of woodstove fires. And still the same floor to ceiling books! I will note they still have a terrific Wyeth section and Chester County section.

We went from bottom to top, top to bottom. I bought a couple of cookbooks. It is nice that some things remain the same in this life.

I will note as an aside as I overheard this, that they could use firewood for their woodstove cut to 14″ or 15″ lengths if you can GIVE them any.  There are enough woodstove folks in Chester County and so many people with firewood, how about paying it forward a little?

Here are some photos I took.  I will note with amusement that I never knew Paris Hilton wrote a book. I had a lovely time and won’t wait 20 years to go back. Go buy a book!

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talk to the hand…

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Sometimes you just need something funky.  I found something funky today.

Talk to the hand.

Sorry, I just crack myself up. But hey, it’s a great funky piece to hang jewelry when you are doing the dishes.  It’s a vintage glass jewelry display basically.  These were/are used for holding or displaying rings, watches, scarves, other jewelry items, and fashion accessories.  And for $10…. I splurged.

I was at Resellers in Frazer when I found the blue hand. I was loving on a couple of pieces of furniture and an oriental rug I have neither need nor room for (but ohhh that chair!):

They have a lot of cool stuff right now. I am glad they are still there considering all the upheaval around the shopping center where they are a tenant (you know like Beam’s Music, Frazer Dental, the Frazer Post Office, etc?) – here is what showed up on the Chester County Sheriff Sale Lists:

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Today I was told this wasn’t happening tomorrow, but who knows? Maybe there was a stay of execution?

And don’t you feel so incredibly sorry for all of the small business owners like Reseller’s there? To be in this not knowing?

I went noodling around and found this:

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Sadly, this is almost perfect for development vultures if they have $8 Million lying around, right?

But please NO MORE MIXED USE APARTMENT TOWERS CARRIAGE HOMES PLASTIC TOWN HOUSES.  East Whiteland where this is located is full up. (In my humble opinion.)

There was this thing in Federal Court from March, 2018 – some sort of court order:

Order from judge (CLICK HERE TO READ)

It’s all public record.  According to a sign on the property the agent for Wells Fargo managing now is Metro Commercial.  According to some thing I found in a New York State (as in government) register, this local shopping center is owned by guys in Brooklyn NY.

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When you plunk that Brooklyn address into Google what comes up is a little random. So it’s no wonder why not very much attention was ever paid to the shopping center, right? Out of sight, out of mind, cash the rent checks?

Anyway, back to talk to the hand…A fun little treat. Go visit Reseller’s . They are still open.  Just like the other businesses suffering through this along with the post office. It has also been hard on all of  them because the sign to the shopping center has literally been broken for months.  They were working on it today.

Nancy Drew over and out….talk to the hand….

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bad gardener?

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David Austin English Rose in the rain today

Recently Fine Gardening has featured my Chester County garden in their online Garden of the Day section.  That has been such a thrill and honor for me because…well…I have been sending them garden photos for years. They have been a gardening resource forever, and I subscribe to their print magazine.

Fine Gardening is a go to resource for information, new cultivar suggestions, and all around inspiration.

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I can tell you I purchased this from Applied Climatology at The West Chester Growers Market a couple of years ago.  The tag has long since disappeared.

Well Fine Gardening most recently featured some of my daylilies and hydrangeas together.  Naturally it provoked a conversation with the editor I was working with over cultivars.  I can tell people the names of a few of them like Cherokee Star because I planted some particularly well loved cultivars in clumps of several plants. (Well exception to the clump rule were the $5 pots of mystery daylilies from Home Depot end of summer sale a few years ago! I still don’t know who they are!)

When asked about my daylily cultivars, this is what I told them:

OK, you know where I am a really bad gardener? I see things and I think to myself, “They are perfect,” and then I forget what the cultivars are. I can tell you who I purchased all the daylilies from plant by plant, but as far as cultivars, I am so bad. I am going to have to start writing things down.

I try to plant everything with the tags, but as time progresses and I add more shredded leaves or wood chips for mulch, they disappear.

The thing about daylilies is that I buy them for the color. They don’t get purchased because they are rare or anything like that per se; it’s based on the color. I love white daylilies, but my obsession the past few years has been the reds. I also like the pink and the ruffly daylilies depending on the color because they look so ladylike. I don’t know how else to describe it.

Every once in a while I will pick up daylilies on clearance from a big box store to plug a hole, but for the most part I spend the money to shop from nurseries I know because then I’ll avoid things like daylily rust.

Confession time: I do this with well….the majority of plants. I buy plants for how they hit me when I see them.  And that is in person or in a magazine or in a plant grower’s inventory photos.

To me, right or wrong it’s the visual. Color. Texture. Shape. Size. How does the plant strike me? My poor hostas are also victims of garden anonymity.  They live happily in plant witness protection services with many of my other shrubs and perennials.

I always have good intentions.  I plant new thing with their tags.  But then I either get tired of a forest of plastic tags, or I decide I will always remember their cultivar and yank them out, or they get buried by seasonal layers of mulch and applications of fallen leaves. And then there are the plastic tags that chipmunks and squirrels dig up and relocate (oh yes they DO do that!)

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Hydrangea “Little Lime”

This is where I am a bad gardener to some. But you know what? I have been through plenty of gardens, including European ones and  I see tags for rare specimen trees and some shrubs, but not tags for much of anything else. And for the most part, I do not like looking at plastic nursery tags and I do not have the time or inclination for pretty write on copper ones.

It is what it is. I created my garden because it brings me joy.

I look at what I plant much in the way an artist looks at something for subject matter.  It is also very visceral. I look at something and can visualize it in a spot in the garden and then I plant it.  Truthfully it is almost a kissing cousin of the techniques people who are practitioners of Shamanic Gardening. And I didn’t intend it to be.  It’s just what happened.

Shamanic Gardening? What’s that you ask?

Shamanic Gardening integrates sustainable ancient and traditional gardening methods with shamanic principles and modern permaculture. The practices, history, myths, recipes, and philosophies inside this book will enhance your relationship with nature, sustain the earth, delight your senses, and nourish your soul.

Shamanic Gardening [book] includes a cultural history of sustainable gardening, including gardening techniques used by Cleopatra, the Japanese, the Pueblo Indians, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and many others.

I learned about the theories of Shamanic Gardening from Melinda Joy Miller’s book Shamanic Gardening. You can find the book on Amazon and other places.

As a theory, it sounds new-agey.  To an extent it is. It also fits in with the principles of Feng Shui. (See Shambhalla Institute and NO I am not one of their clients or practitioners. I just went ‘web wandering as I was reading the book out of curiosity. But heck even the esteemed British Royal Horticultural Society has been interested in this or they would not have sold the book.)

The reason I delved into the book were funny little things like they say to essentially ask the plant where it want so go.  Any rabid gardener will tell you we all talk to our plants…and weeds.  It’s just a thing. But because it also reminds me of using the principles of feng shui in gardens. Yes really. (Read more here.)

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Echinacea “White Double Delight”

Anyway back to bad gardener of it all. Since my garden has been in Fine Gardening there has been interest in my garden for local tours. That never happened before.  My garden is a layered garden with four season interest and of my own design, not formal with fussy parterres and fountains.

Today some really nice ladies toured my garden.  For consideration in a 2019 event.  But when they asked me if I knew all of the names of a few of my hostas I answered truthfully  that no I did not.  I explained to them how I chose my plants for color, shape, texture, etc and how I thought they would fit.  I also said some were gifted out of other gardens where they had lived for many years without anyone remembering their names. Right or wrong, I felt in the moment like a very bad gardener who had flunked a horticulture class.

IMG_9059Really, I am sorry for my plant amnesia.  I should write down cultivars more diligently. I just don’t.  I see, I feel, I plant, I enjoy.

My garden is something I enjoy very much.  It’s not a formal arboretum — its a four sided, rambling, four seasons kind of a country garden.  To my English and Irish friends it is I am told very similar to their native cottage gardens. But to old school garden club folks, that is not necessarily acceptable here in the U.S.

Cottage gardens and layered gardens are actually a lot more work than a lot of other gardens.  It’s a sensory thing with jumbles of flowers and plants and paths and nooks and seating areas. And other elements to add whimsy. But you have to keep everything trimmed properly or all of a sudden it is just too much garden.

IMG_9058But a cottage garden is the perfect rule breakers garden. Plant what you love. Appeal to your own taste and style.  Make it romantic. And lush.

A true cottage garden says come in and wander and stay a while.  So if people think that about my garden, that is the nicest thing for me.  After all, gardens should be shared…just forgive the garden amnesia.  I can tell you who I bought each plant from, just not it’s particular cultivar name necessarily.  And I never took Latin, so what you get in Latin from me is a gift, usually mispronounced.

I must also note that  just because someone’s garden is welcoming, it doesn’t mean you should just come wander.  Ask the gardener first. Otherwise, it’s sadly trespassing and at a minimum a little disconcerting to the homeowner who wasn’t expecting guests.

Thanks for stopping by.

Here are the Fine Gardening posts:

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