social media: it’s enough to make one anti-social….

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Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.
~ Oprah Winfrey

So why don’t we do that? It’s a question I asked myself recently and am going to strive to do better in the future.

When social media first started it was “What a great idea and what fun!” Today? Today I often wonder.  It seems to be more and more the virtual play ground where the idiots you choose not to associate with in real life congregate.

As a blogger, I accept I am an acquired taste. I am fine with that.  As a human being off the screen in the real world I am also an acquired taste. But if we were all identical carbon copies of one and other the world would literally be overrun with Stepford Wives.

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As a blogger, I am not a compensated blogger.  When I write up a business I visited, or a restaurant I ate at, or a non-profit event I attended it is because I paid to do those things just like everyone else. Well maybe not like everyone else because there are bloggers and social media “influencers” who are…. well… compensated.  In other words their good opinion is paid for in some fashion.

When I write, it’s my own experience, good or bad. I bought the goods, ate in the restaurant, bought a ticket to the non-profit event, used the paid services of a company.  There are people out there who do not. They expect goods and services and even fees to write something up.  Sometimes businesses are afraid to NOT slide them stuff because of what they might write or say on social media.

There are even people who take money for supposedly all sorts of services but it is really just about getting free stuff and then moving on to the next business? I have a lot of friends with small businesses of all kinds, so that really bothers me. From a moral compass standpoint, it also bothers me. It’s like blackmail, isn’t it? How do you live with yourself? How do you take the proverbial food off of someone else’s table?

Now onto the more personal side of social media.  Why are the keyboard tigers allowed to roam freely and wreak havoc?

I am an admin of several Facebook groups.  I have strong opinions so I do not mind strong opinions. But I do mind people who harass, badger, curse a lot (so ugly to see in writing) or who are just mean spirited to be mean spirited.  Or love to be super passive aggressive while just simply trying to stir the pot.

Recently I just quietly deleted the comment of a man who was just being an ass.  To me. For no reason. I had never spoken with him or even interacted with him online.  The comment was essentially abusive.  I chose NOT to respond which would have started an online flame war.

What is a flame war? This is what a flame war is:

In online forums and other online discussion spaces, a flame war is a series of flame posts or messages in a thread that are considered derogatory in nature or are completely off-topic. Often these flames are posted for the sole purpose of offending or upsetting other users. The flame becomes a flame war when other users respond to the thread with their own flame message.

I chose to be an adult and admin for the greater good.  I never said anything, just removed the comment and took advantage of Facebook’s mute feature which is a handy tool if used properly to cool off a situation. Well, the person who commented then decided to start private messaging me.

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Note the use of your over you’re.  Up until this point I had not removed the person from the group.  Just muted them for flaming comments. Who they are is immaterial to the conversation.  They were a stranger with a case of keyboard cowboyism. After sitting on the interaction and pondering it with other admins, we decided they would be happier elsewhere.

One of the groups I admin is a gardening group.  It is large and popular and has grown from local to regional to national and international membership.  I wanted a place where people could come from all levels of expertise and even professionals.

My group is blessed to have not only regular people but gardening professionals and growers who freely share their knowledge and expertise.  A good portion of them are paid for their expertise handsomely so I think we are really lucky.  I am a rabid gardener but I don’t know everything so I like to learn and share information.

Sometimes even in a gardening group people get like the Sharks versus The Jets.  Yes, a theater reference. West Side Story — an award-winning decades old adaptation of the classic romantic tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet”. The feuding families become two warring New York City gangs. And that is what people get like on social media.

There was this thing happening in the gardening group that really was so ridiculous.  This divisiveness between organic based gardeners versus everyone else. Someone who was a professional posted about their own HOME garden with a helpful tip. A person I had had problems with before started challenging them.  The professional never lost their cool and answered all questions gracefully.

But the aggressor, who had demonstrated a similar pattern with others in the past, wouldn’t let it go. It turned from a conversation of opposing points of view to badgering.  It was unpleasant.  This person doing the haranguing hadn’t learned from the comments other admins had removed, so this time I muted them. And told them I was doing it and why.

They never said anything, but their supporters then started.  It was unfair and they should basically be allowed to turn a nice group into a place where many felt uncomfortable.  One of the champions of this person started messaging me.  They literally messaged me yesterday at 9:32 AM.  I did not see the message until 10:04 AM or maybe a few minutes later, because hello I was having an actual life. Do you live on the Internet? I don’t live on the Internet. I spend far too much time on it some days and I am making an effort to NOT be that way.  But when you are an admin of Facebook groups especially, people seem to have boundary issues.

So this person who messaged me was responded to.  But that wasn’t good enough.  They had to then try to start a passive aggressive situation of their own on the gardening group page. They wondered if they were “safe to post” like a pack of rabid dogs was suddenly going to appear on their doorstep and rip their keyboard, phone, or tablet from their hands.  As an admin that is a post that will escalate tensions that may exist.

I messaged the person and asked WHY they had to post that when I had actually taken the time to respond to them. My description of the timing was different she says. Ok she lives in my area is there a different time zone I am not aware of?

Then she says:

Not sure where the disconnect here is coming from, but blessed are the peacemakers.
Peace.

BTW, the word “ramblings” implies a kind of laid back, relaxed enjoyment of gardening. So, maybe chill out.

She goes on to say how she is just “speaking her truth” and she’s a “stream mom” and so on and so forth. And how I was wrong to mute the person who had been badgering people about…gardening.

No honey, I am not perfect and I get tired of being a babysitter. And with a couple of thousand people to manage virtually, some days it is exhausting. One gets tired of being a babysitter and a referee of adults who should all know better. But for some reason when it comes to social media they lose their manners and inhibitions….. social norms and acceptable public behavior flies out of the window. It is crazy. And face it, we have all seen people go off the rails.  Not naming names but look at a certain elected official on Twitter, right?

Having had enough of this back and forth, I blocked that person on messenger and removed them and the admins had to create a new rule so people got it:

New Group Rule as people seem confused: aggressive or passive aggressive comments towards gardeners for their decision to use biological (organic) or non-organic chemical controls in their garden will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be removed.

It’s a gardening group folks, not an environmental activist group. No one should be chastised for their gardening methods on their own property.

We all do not have to agree but just because someone chooses organic vs. non-organic or vice-versa does not make them a bad person.

Babysitting. Babysitting I do not get paid for and toddlers are better behaved at times.

It’s the love hate relationship with social media.

Then there are the people who capitulate to the whims of the social media haters and badgerers.

Years ago (as in 2013) I was part of a closed Facebook group still from where I used to live.  I was still new enough to Chester County that I wanted to keep up with where I had lived essentially most of my life. Moving to a place as an adult over 25 is very different than when you are young and starting out.  It is not as easy to meet and get to know people and although I had already fallen in love with Chester County, I sometimes still missed where I used to be because  I missed a lot of my friends.

I did not, however, miss the BS of the Main Line. And long before I moved west, back in the early days of Facebook I decided that some people I did not wish to interact with on social media because they were horrible to me in real life, even in public. You see, that was a drawback of being a blogger and a sort of social activist.

There were literally people who would eviscerate me in public and in letters to the editor of the local paper at the time as well as leave comments on local  and regional media website articles that were truly horrible.  They weren’t just being Internet trolls, they were bullying and harassing me.  They wanted to tear me down because at the end of the day I did not see things exactly the way they did and the way they told their minions to think.

It was a great sociological study.  It was taking the theory of bullying in the middle school lunch room to a whole new level.  And these were also the people who would holler like stuck pigs if kids were bullied in school or on the playground.  And I would just watch and wonder why they didn’t get where the kids were learning the unpleasant behaviors from?

So when I joined Facebook, I decided rather than risk further interaction with some fo these people, I would take the high road and just pretend they weren’t there and preemptively block them.  I wasn’t talking about them, I just wanted to limit their access to me personally. I am not a public official and wasn’t then either.  I was just a woman they didn’t like very much. I could live with that. Not seeing them around on Facebook was very peaceful.  Of course, that is why Facebook has privacy settings, right?

Lo and behold the admin of this community group from where I used to live messages me.  How she was going to have to remove me  from the group. Not for anything I had actually posted (which by 2013 was literally a couple of banal things like recommending a plumber), but because I had chosen to block these people who were miserable to me in the real world when I joined Facebook.

Say what??

I tried to explain to her that was to keep the peace, I wasn’t blocking her as an admin and group page owner. I was being responsible in an effort to avoid unnecessary online confrontations.  But oh no, her definition of community  was she chose to capitulate to literally adult mean girls and they had the right in community groups to see everyone.  I tried to explain I chose not to do that because I did not wish to have them have a window into my life.

Truthfully, I did not care about her group and belonging at that point.  I really didn’t need it, I was fine in my new life and her actions made me realize that.  But it was the principle of the thing. How can you self-profess to be a good person by demanding they open themselves up to unpleasant people in a social media group? (But this is a person who wants everyone to love them and needs to feel as if they belong, so in a weird way it made sense, didn’t it?)

The rules of social media groups in general include you can’t block the admins and moderators. But you CAN block people you don’t get along with or who make you feel uncomfortable for whatever reason. It is WHY privacy settings exist.

A couple of years ago, I decided to quietly unfriend this person on Facebook. We really were never truly friends, maybe short term acquaintances. So I decided to let her and some others go. Lives change, people change right? I never commented on it, I just let go.

Then yesterday, someone asked me about the garden group this person had.  They lived down closer to where this person lived so I said sure, I will send them the link I used to belong to it.  Only I could not find the group. So I asked someone else and they sent me the link.  They also told me I was no longer in the group.

A real WTF moment because it is a gardening group.  Not politics, not activism. Gardening. As in what I spend a lot of time doing. And I hadn’t been in the group, had never really posted in it ever and truthfully had never used the group much to begin with because to be honest I never learned anything from it. It was too basic for my knowledge base, and well, my group was better. But for whatever reason this person removed me and blocked me.

Oh social media Groundhog Day.  So I will admit I did message her about my discovery and how I discovered it.  I also said I really didn’t care that she did it, but  the principles of hypocrisy is what bothered me.  So I said to be equally fair I was removing her from my gardening group.  Sorry not sorry, you don’t get to benefit from my hard work and the expertise of those who post there and not share.  Not being able to share when it comes to gardening is just one of those things I find wrong.

Much to my amusement, when I went to look at the message I sent I saw that she had blocked me.  I still have her home address, I should really send her a thank you note. I do not need people like that in my life on any level, even peripherally. Kind of like the woman who made a point of telling me that she couldn’t invite me to her Christmas party because other people wouldn’t come if I was there. Yes, that is true.  Crazy, but true. And I didn’t ask to be invited in the first place.

Also crazy but true? Legitimate cyber bullies and cyber stalkers.  Social media is a kaleidoscope of crazy at times.

And that is the thing about social media. So many people need it to feel good about themselves. Or feel popular.  Or even powerful. But it’s all virtual.  I have come to the conclusion that I will more and more narrow my focus.  I have my writing, activism , love of historic preservation and things like gardening and cooking and photography.  I also have my true friends and I don’t need a huge collection of faux friends to fawn all over me.  I don’t need or want the self-proclaimed power brokers of people online, and those who take advantage…do you? (Think about it.)

Another thing that is getting to me on social media are the essentially social media based networking organizations you have to pay for.  Women are especially drawn to them and I have had friends who have belonged to these groups.

Women don’t realize they don’t have to pay these groups to raise their own business profiles and make friends (which exist mostly on social media – I can’t truly define it as camaraderie in real life can you ?)  And no one I know ever grew their business out of these groups but instead remarked on the cliquishness and time wasting of it all…and that these groups are expensive. You pay to join a group, you get let into their Facebook pages, then you are expected to pay to attend events, right? And what do they do for you? Who is making the money here and aren’t the chapters of these things like, if not actual  franchises?

Social media is a weird, weird place getting weirder every year. And I say that having been in it and on things like Twitter practically since inception (I joined in 2008, Twitter launched in 2006).

I started blogging back in the dark ages.  I was once part of this amazing site called Philly Futures which started in 1999.  I joined it at some point after 2002, and was part of it for a few years.  It was lots of different bloggers and was activism-centric.  They used to do things I thought were cool like Missing Monday which focused on missing persons. Philly Futures was an early voice in the genre of “citizen journalism.” It wasn’t a mommy blog or a monetized blog, it was a lot of good writing and interesting topics.  I miss it.

Sometimes I think social media has morphed into the land of the shallow.  And everything has to be light, happy, and airy fairy where unicorns fart only pastel rainbows. What I liked about the early blogosphere in the dawn of social media is it was real, and you could be real without chronic online castigation.

Look around at Facebook, Instagram, whatever your poison.  How can all those people have those perfect lives, really?  What happens if we pull the curtain back? And the photos.  Do some not realize that occasionally their personal photos are well photos that are better off left offline? To be enjoyed privately?

I am a blogger, yes, but I am still a fairly private person.  I like enjoying my family and friends offline.  You can’t grow a garden online.  You can’t cook a meal online.  You can’t go barn picking online. We can’t spend all of our lives online. Maybe it’s time to liberate ourselves somewhat from social media.  We used to exist fine without it, after all.

Think about it, when is the last time you wrote an actual letter?  I am going to hang out in my garden and commune with nature and check out butterflies.  I will leave you after this rambling post with an online article about types of Facebook posters. It’s very funny.

10+ Types of Facebook Posters

RobinB Creative
Humorous Caricatures of Social Media Users
Social media has existed since the earliest times.
Imagine, if you will:
An early, nomadic hominid, scratching an image onto the wall of her cave-shelter. Picture her wonder, joy, and surprise when she returns, a season later, to find an image left by an unknown “other”.
There, on the cave wall, is an “answering image” — with splashes of colour. She has no idea who “commented on her wall post”, but she knows she’s not alone. There has been a response to her unintended friend request. She is experiencing shared humanity and kinship, beyond the immediate circle of her tribe.
Over the years, they may have gone on to share information. I imagine them sharing hunting stories, food storage ideas, and even recipes. I see them inspiring each other to greater creativity by means of their developing art. Maybe, they even shared some personal details.
Did other people, passing through, add to the story on “her wall”?
Basically, humanity has been obsessed with “social media” ever since.
As cultures and technology developed over millennia, so did long-range social interaction. Passed messages, and formal mail services replaced cave paintings. Books spread thoughts and information to larger numbers. Telegraph, telephone, newspapers, and radio, further widened global information sharing.
….Social media, of various kinds — for good or bad — has become integral to our society. For people in my age-group (50s — plus or minus), that usually means Facebook.
I’ve isolated ten different caricatures of Facebook posters — although the first does have four sub-types. [CLICK HERE TO READ FURTHER AND YOU WILL BE GLAD YOU DID]

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dueling white events august 27

Brandywine in White 2015, my photo.


Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia is a lovely idea, but holds no real appeal because it is for me, a zoo. It is well over 4000 people at this point, and that is just too many to picnic/dine with.  Also, if I am going to do head to toe white and put together a tablescape and wine and food, the last thing I want to do is schlep tables and chairs around Center City Philadelphia in the heat of the summer.

Which is why I was so psyched to discover Brandywine in White. It was lovely to attend last summer. The people attending were marvelous as well. Brandywine in White is an elegant, BYO-everything affair where guests clad in all-white bring a magical touch to an end-of-summer picnic dinner. In other words, a beaucolic and lovely Dîner en Blanc without the maddening crowd and smells of a major metropolitan city in the heat of summer.

Brandywine in a White is set to make it’s return August, 27th, 2016. Only this year it has competition out of West Chester. Last year Brandywine in White raised funds for the Sunday Breakfast Mission I. Wilmington, DE.

A new event is debuting the SAME date at Brandywine in White and it is called WC Summer Soirée . It is ALSO August 27, 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm. They also have a Facebook page. They are very clear on who they wish to help, and one of their charities is Chester County Food Bank. Another is a Chester County Family Academy and Saint Agnes Day Room.


Like Brandywine in White, this event provides tables and chairs. Tickets are moderately priced for both events (Brandywine in White and WC Summer Soirée ).

The location for WC Summer Soirée will be released prior to the event and will be within a five mile radius of downtown West Chester the event planners say.

Last year Brandywine in White was at Chadds Peak Farm. It was truly beautiful and a wonderful event. But sigh, the newcomer event is logistically more appealing. 

I can’t be at two places at the same time, so this is going to be a difficult choice!

yard sale etiquette

It’s summertime and who doesn’t like a really fun yard sale, right? Well there are rules. You are basically a guest on someone else’s property, so try to remember that. 

Are there rules? Maybe they aren’t written down or codified in our unspoken but yes, there are rules.

When you go to yard sale, you are in essence a guest at someone else’s house/property. So try to behave – just the way you would expect your children to (or one would hope.)

Respect the property you are visiting. 

Don’t let your kids just run all over if you bring them with you and please don’t let them just manhandle the goods. 

Leave your dogs at home. Even if the garage sale or yard sale you are going to has animals, it doesn’t mean they want yours there. 

Do not go trampling through their gardens and flowerbeds. 

Do not take yourself on an uninvited tour of the property or specific areas that they have said are off-limits. If the sale is at the head of the driveway, that’s where you stay – you don’t wander onto the porch or into the garage or God forbid into the basement or house.

Do not block their driveway or the neighbors’ driveways. If you are so unwell that you can’t walk a couple extra feet parking on the street, stay home. Also don’t speed on the street you are visiting for a yard or garage sale, their stuff will be there if you do the speed limit.

Don’t be an early bird. If the sign or ad says it starts at 9 AM or whatever the time is, respect that. Give people the time to set up without hawking over them. And those people who do the night before drive-bys and then stop with a flashlight to see if they can see things? Come on now, would you want that if it was YOUR home?

Haggling. If you are given a price on something and you want to counter politely, that’s fine. But aggressive haggling or lowballing to the point of being insulting? That’s just not nice, and it makes people not want to have garage and yard sales.

 People throwing garage and yard sales also don’t want those who believe in the power of the five finger discount. Stealing is morally reprehensible…and it’s also against the law.

Try not to get loud. Being loud and obnoxious at a garage or yard sale in order to get what you want makes it uncomfortable for everyone. Also try to go to the bathroom before you come to a garage or yard sale, because I’m sorry people do not want strangers in their homes or relieving themselves in  flowerbeds.

After the transaction is completed and the price is agreed-upon on larger items if you have to come and pick something up later, pay for it first. These people are not running a store. There is no staff to put something back into inventory and there is no inventory or warehouse. And when it comes to transactions, come to the sale with change and small bills like you would if you were going to a fleamarket for example.

Again, you are a guest at someone else’s home. Maybe they don’t have their yard or garage sale set up the way you would want it, but it’s their sale and you are a guest. So you either play by the house rules or you pick up your toys and go home.

And today we don’t just have real live garage and yard sales, we have the virtual kind that live the social media platforms Facebook. There are yard sale groups for all sorts of things. 

All yard sale groups have rules of some kind or another so try to follow them.  Not all yard sale groups sell or allow the same things, so read the rules or ask a yard sale group admin if something is OK or not if you are unsure even after reading the group rules.

Virtual yard sale groups have lingo. Common terminology includes but is not limited to the following:

Bump – Posted in the comments section of a sale listing BY the seller so that the item is placed back at the top of the feed. Most limit the amount of times you can bump an item.

PPU – pending pick up – that means seller and the buyer have come to terms and the seller is waiting for the buyer to come pick up the item and is not entertaining any other current offers at present.

Porch pickup –  porch pick up is fairly self-explanatory. It means you are picking up the item from the sellers home and a lot of times they will meet you on their front porch, or they will leave the item on the front porch and tell you where to leave the money. If somebody says porch pick up only you don’t ask them to meet in a supermarket parking lot. If you’re doing a porch pick up do it during daylight hours, if you’re doing a meet which is a mutually agreed-upon spot out in the public view, I also suggest doing that during daylight hours.

Meet up– A meet up is when you are meeting someone at a mutually agreed place to complete a transaction – if a person doesn’t have the comfort level of anyone coming to their home they might say I will meet you in the XYZ supermarket parking lot. If you do a public meet, use common sense. Meet in a visible location during daylight hours. Tell the other party what your car looks like and what time you will be there and stick to it. Exchange cell phone numbers in case someone runs into traffic.

Cross-posted or xp or OOS – cross posted (also known as XP) or OOS literally means an item is cross posted on other sites. That means the seller has the same item on multiple sites to maximize their exposure and chance of a sale.

ISO –  This means ‘in search of.’ People post these things when they are hunting an item they don’t see listed on a particular yard sale group at the time. These posts are not for sale posts however, they are just regular posts.  So don’t create such a post in the sale post form and put some made up number in the price line –  you aren’t selling something you are looking for something. It is also super annoying when you see people post in search of posts and the yard sale group has 10 of that item. So do a quick search of your group for what you are looking for before you post in search of.

PM – Private Message – this is what buyers and sellers should do to work out the kinks and details of the pick up and to answer questions. However if you are a buyer try not to message incessantly. If you are a seller try to answer your messages as promptly as possible. And remember if buyers and  sellers are not connected in anyway on Facebook you will have to look in Facebook’s dreaded “other” folder or in “message requests” if you use messenger,

Next – Next is what you say when you are literally the next person in line and you have interest in the item. Person A says “I’m interested I will private message you for pick up”. Person B says if they are interested “next”. And if the seller says sold pending pick up, people really should stop saying “next”.

NWT – This was something I didn’t know what it meant for the longest time. It means new with tags. If you then see NWOT that means new without tags.

Do virtual yard sale groups have etiquette in addition to the rules that are posted? Generally speaking yes but it all usually comes in the form of posted rules. Because the groups are virtual most will have codified rules that people should follow. It just makes it easier. If you don’t like the rules find a yard sale group you’re more comfortable with.

But as far as actual etiquette, it’s following the golden rule: do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Be polite. Respond as promptly as possible. When you are arranging a pick up on either side of the deal, choose a time and stick to it. Everyone’s time is valuable. Delays like traffic jams happen. So do unforeseen circumstances like not having childcare suddenly, or getting stuck at work. Just communicate with each other as the buyer and seller. But if on either side of the transaction you have more than one instance where pick up or meet is canceled or you inexplicably get blown off, go to your group admin and see if it’s OK with them for you to move on to the next interested person because of that or if you are the buyer to just walk away altogether.

When you are a seller you should make your for sale post as clear as possible. A full description , your terms , your availability, price and PHOTOS . Put your photos in the body of your post. No one wants to chase photos in the comment section, and in most groups if you post something for sale and say there is no photo to post you will get deleted. After all you are on a social media site called Facebook which is driven by photos and it is not rocket science to add them.

When you are a seller don’t accept strange terms. Don’t let someone mail you a check , for example. I had that happened to a friend and it ended up the check was counterfeit. If you tell someone cash only and they show up with a check, you don’t have to accept that check.

Buyers when you were going to pick something up try to bring exact change. You are NOT going to a store you’re going to an individual. And buyers  when you say you are interested in something and you want to buy it don’t leave the seller hanging. 

What prompted this post on this blog? Observations at  a couple of yard sales this summer and a recent experience that is nothing short of frustrating as hell when trying to sell something on a local yard sale group.

We will start with a local and real yard sale/garage sale I went to recently. I went at the start time of the signs I saw. When I got there there were people who had shown up almost an hour early. That is so impolite. This homeowner is nicer than I would’ve been, because I actually have no problem telling people to leave and come back when we’re open for business.

At this real yard sale I also saw people going into places the homeowner specifically asked people not to be. This is something that truly bothers me because years ago I had a couple of neighbors who wanted to have a yard sale. They had people show up working as a team where one person distracted the yard sale throwers and the other person slipped inside their home and robbed them.  

At other  yard sales in the past, I have also seen people take things that weren’t  for sale and walk up to the homeowners and asked to buy them. In other words, they went where they weren’t supposed to be took items from wherever and walked up to the homeowners and said “I’d like to buy this.” The homeowners naturally responded “oh we’re sorry, that wasn’t in a public area and isn’t for sale.” And I watched one time where this person at a sale pitched a fit, end it was like watching a train wreck – you couldn’t look away. There was this person making a scene and it wasn’t something that was for sale. They basically trust past where they were NOT supposed to be and expected the homeowner to just say  “OK fine it’s five dollars.”

At a recent yard sale I watched in amazement as the homeowner try to work with someone wishing to purchase multiple items. That is what you call a bundle and a lot of times people will work with you and give you a slight discount if you’re buying a bunch of things together versus just one. I watched this man haggle over a very fair bundle price and basically lowballed to the point where the homeowner smiled graciously and said “no I am sorry I just can’t do that.”  The homeowner was so incredibly gracious. What a nice person.

At a recent real yard sale I also was somewhat amazed by the people that just showed up with dogs at someone else’s property without so much as even asking if it’s OK. Generally speaking, people don’t want to be rude about it, but you are indeed being rude by taking your animals onto someone else’s property that you do not know. Even if you know the person, they’re having a yard sale and they don’t want to have to keep an eye on someone else’s pets, nor do they want to deal with the inevitable which is someone else will be at the sale who is allergic or scared of dogs. Or the dog or dogs of the folks visiting the sale will want to get in a fight with the homeowners dogs if they are out.  Maybe nothing will happen, but that’s not the point.  It’s not a love me love my dogs situations. You bring your pets places where you have asked in advance if it’s OK or not.

Now most people expect people to show up to yard sales in the summertime with kids in tow. However the kids need to know the ground rules when they get out of the car from the parents. It’s not the job of the people throwing the garage or yard sale to babysit your children. And it is your responsibility as a parent, especially if your children are small to keep an eye on them and to not let them handle everything, especially breakables. Which brings me to another topic.

Why is it yard sales always seem to end up with the proverbial bull in the china shop? Accidents happen and it’s easy to knock over a glass for example and not do it intentionally. But what I’m talking about are the people that push everyone out of the way to get that item on the table and they don’t care if they knock stuff over and break other things to get to it. And these are the people that don’t say “oh I’m sorry let me pay for that”, they look at the people hosting the garage and yard sale like it’s their fault.

And let’s go to the inspiration or impetus of why I also wrote about virtual yard sale groups in this post. It’s a two-pronged approach: it’s my experience as a buyer and a seller, and as an admin.

I am an admin of one of the millions of yard sale group pages on Facebook. I share the duty with several other people. There are days when we just have a gabfest in messenger because we can’t believe the items we are having to delete, and the way some people behave.

This of course means when I am a buyer or a seller on a virtual yard sale group page I try harder then probably a lot of people to make my transactions go smoothly. Because I sit in the catbird seat of observing as an admin of one page, I really try to follow the rules of whichever group I am in, and  try extra hard to be nice and accommodating. 

Well right now, I am in a transaction that has been going on for a week. I picked the brain of one of the group admins yesterday, and this morning I wrote to them that  want to message the buyer politely  to let the buyer  out of the transaction if need be. Now I’m going to tell all of you why.

I have this nice area rug. I decided it didn’t go with the decor in a room any longer. So I decided to pull it off the floor. When I did that, I didn’t just toss it in the attic, I sent it out to be professionally cleaned and mothproofed.

When the rug came back I lived with it for a few weeks all rolled up in the attic until I decided it was taking up too much space and I wanted to sell it. All I want out of it is close to what I paid to have it cleaned and mothproofed.

Now this rug is not some antique prized Persian carpet, but it is nice. So it’s not going to be $10 on a yard sale group. I dragged it out of the attic, unwrapped it and inspected it to make sure the people I had paid to clean it did their job. 

After I ascertained  that they had done what I paid them to do, I measured the rug and I took lots of photos and I posted it with a complete description on a couple of yard sale group pages. I had varying indications of interest, and a couple of people who measured or asked their spouses and came back and said no I’m sorry I have to pass. I have no problems with that. 

Shortly before the Fourth of July weekend was about to begin – as in last Thursday someone came along who wanted to buy my rug. They asked for my indulgence when I got back to them because they were out of town. I agreed although I didn’t have to because the general rule of thumb is if you agree to purchase something, you pick it up within a couple of days. If you aren’t going to be home or are out of town, you arrange for someone to pick it up and pay for it on your behalf and you clear that with the seller first. But I thought I don’t want to be a hard ass about it, I will give this person the benefit of the doubt. My prospective  buyer said they would connect at the end of fourth of July weekend.

So Tuesday rolls around and I still haven’t heard from my prospective buyer. So I do what you’re supposed to do which is to tag them on the sale post and say that you’re trying to connect and send them a private message. My prospective buyer leaves a comment back on the sale post that she is private messaging me. Actually she was at that point responding to my private message but I’m not going to split hairs.

This person then proceeds to ask me a bunch of questions about the item that were somewhat redundant, but in an effort to keep the sale moving forward I answered them to the best of my of my ability. I will admit I was at somewhat of a loss how to answer question would her employee have an allergic reaction to the rug because I have pets.

Huh? 

So basically I say once again that I had paid to have rug  professionally and mothproofed. I explained again that I had to unroll the rug in my clean house to photograph it for the yard sale sites, and then I rolled it back up again with dryer sheets in it to make sure it stayed as fresh smelling as it was when I unrolled it back from the rug cleaners. I pushed away any feelings that I was insulted because I have a clean home. I told them if they were worried about their employee then they should have it cleaned again. (I mean, what else could I say?)

My buyer said that  it was OK and could I do a pick up with her sometime later this week because they were trying to give their employees a break before they got busy again.  I wasn’t sure what that has to do with me exactly but what I said was that was fine. But then I also said I would like her to give me the day that she would like to pick up. I also gave her some hours where it wouldn’t work for me as the seller.

 OK now it is later in the week.  And she has not told me when she is picking it up. I have now held onto this item for this prospective buyer for a week. Normally people don’t do that because people take advantage.  I think I’ve been accommodating enough. 

Yes, it’s a bigger item so it won’t necessarily sell as quickly as something smaller. I don’t have to sell this item, I am choosing to sell this item. I have worked with this prospective buyer for a week now. Just to make sure I am following all the rules correctly, I am running it up the flagpole with the admins of this group to make sure they are OK with it. Maybe, this will all work out because the buyer is just having tough week. I hope so. But if not, what time is valuable to and if I have to move on to the next buyer I would like to do it sooner rather than later.

We live in a ever evolving world, which means even our garage and yard sales are changing. We have them still seasonally in real time, and virtually year round. But we are all grown-ups, or sre supposed to be, so we should try to be considerate regardless of if it is a real actual yard sale or garage sale or a virtual one on Facebook.

Am I Emily Post? No. But I think good manners should never go out of style even with the humble garage sale , virtual or real.

Thanks for stopping by.

vintage en blanc

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Next week is the En Blanc week in our area.  These all white outdoor picnics for grown-ups start August 20th, when Diner en Blanc hits center city Philadelphia. It’s slightly more laid back Chester County/Brandywine Valley counterpart Brandywine in White is August 22nd. (Yes you need to have registered and paid in advance for both events – both sell out.)

En Blanc events have been all the rage coast to coast in the US, Canada, and Europe for the past few years. I don’t know how long for certain – other than the first one was in Paris over 20 years ago.

These white dinner picnic party organizers are serious about their white…decorations, dishes, attire and even food.

So to me it is a perfect excuse to have fun with vintage finds.  And you don’t have to spend a fortune.  Places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, hospital and church thrift shops, the Smithfield Barn, Consign-It in Kennett, the Habitat for Humanity ReStores in Kennett and Caln, are just a few places you can find fun things at a fraction of the cost. Also don’t forget yard sale groups on Facebook, eBay, Etsy, and the humble garage and yard sale. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a look.

Now some people prefer Crate and Barrell or say William Sonoma, and that is fine, but how often are you going to do ALL WHITE? So why spend like it is the proverbial last supper? Have fun with it and you can mix and match! Personally, I had the vintage glassware already for years and the napkins and tablecloths.

The glassware had been gifts from friends who were cleaning out their pantry closets and cabinets when I needed stuff. Again,  I have had them for years. The linens came from church sales and the Smithfield Barn.  All stuff I have used before and love.

The tablecloths at the time were like $8 and $12 and the napkins were part of a lot I bought from the Smithfield Barn for under $20 and the plates came from the barn too (recently) and were a big $1 a piece.

vontage 1The mid century funky silverware was a steal of a deal from a thrift shop in Virginia that also sells on eBay. It was truly inexpensive and the silver plate napkin rings are just something I have picked up here and there for at least 25 years. None of the napkin rings match and I never pay more than a couple of dollars an orphaned napkin ring.

Old picnic baskets can be found at a lot of church rummage sales especially.

You have the most fun with these picnic events if you do it with a group of friends. You divvy up the table settings, food, flowers, beverages, and so on.

If you are attending one of these events and still looking for your “look”, seriously try thrift shops and garage sales and whatnot (as mentioned).  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a fab and fun tablescape! (You can also get great ideas off of Pinterest!)

Thanks for stopping by!

curt schilling takes on cyberbullies. good. for. him.



Good. For. Him. 

Seriously, I have quite a bit of respect for former Phillie and World Series winning former RedSox pitcher Curt Schilling.  Talk about good sportsmanship.

Why?

Because he took on cyberbullies  to defend the honor of his precious daughter. 

It started innocently enough. He sent a tweet out to congratulate his daughter on where she was going to college.



Even if he is a public figure he should be allowed to do that, right? 

Apparently not, and soon it was raining cyberbully trolls on Twitter.



There were a lot more than this and some were kids, but a lot were adults including a DJ somewhere and some part time person who worked for the NY Yankees.  So Curt took on cyberbullies and outed them to the world.

Good.For. Him.

As you all who read my blog know, I was cyberbullied over a period of months last year . I knew exactly who was doing it , and much like  Curt I kept a record of it. This was done to me via Facebook. Not many people “liked” the page and I found out after the page was removed that my friends reported the page daily to Facebook for months as being vile and cyberbullying. 

I had the main cyberbully, the author of the page, and then there was a person who shared the posts and obviously fed them information. I considered them a bully too. 

Then there was the handful of people out there who would chime in. Not one of them knew me, had ever had a conversation with me, had ever met me socially. They knew nothing about me.  They didn’t know the cyberbullies.  They didn’t like some of what I wrote and some cases, and that was the justification for their behavior.

Around 20 or 22 men and women, some who are members of the Chester County community and them participating with a cyberbullying effort is kind of astounding, yet they did it. They  just decided to pile on in that mob mentality that any kind of bullying often takes on. A few of these people even have school age children. 

And again, they didn’t know me, they have still never met me, they have never ever had a conversation with me, and they had nothing to judge me on other then they didn’t like some of the things I had written over the years. It sounds crazy and it is crazy. But it happened and it’s true.

Shortly before Christmas, the page disappeared. It was a wonderful Christmas gift and I have never publicly thank my friends (but I am now)  who worked so hard to get that page removed. You see Facebook, doesn’t take cyber bullying particularly seriously when it is happening to adults  , and I had gotten to the point where I was tuning it out but occasionally saving screenshots as evidence. (I was advised to do that by law-enforcement. )

Now I’m sure my critics are saying “I can’t believe she is making this all about her ” but I am not. I merely sharing my personal experience as it applies to what I am writing about. And unfortunately for me, I can now say I have personal life experience with cyberbullying. And similarly to what Curt Schilling writes about, it’s not too difficult to figure out who it is exactly who is bullying you. And it’s astounding that people think it’s okay that these things are done to you. Or that you won’t discover who it is exactly. What is even more astounding is contemplating how people who used to be part of your life in a loving and supportive manner actually do these things, let alone total strangers. A thin line between love and hate and all that.

As I said before, as an adult, you often have the ability to have better coping mechanisms then the kids who experience cyberbullying , but it doesn’t mean anyone should experience it. When it happens to our kids, the cyberbullying is often just part and parcel of other real-time in-your-face bullying that kids experience.

What Curt Schilling has done is huge. He used his celebrity for good here. He is to be commended. Because of him an even brighter light now shines on cyberbullying and he has given courage and fortitude to those being bullied; through his actions and his position he has shown people how wrong this is. I also applaud him for doing this as a father for his child. That is love.

Now it would be terrific  it if other celebrities and sports figures would follow suit and just spearhead a grassroots nationwide campaign to declare war on #cyberbullying. For those who are doing the bullying out there, save your retort. Opinion is one thing, cyberbullying is something else entirely.

And it doesn’t just happen to kids. It happened to adults and not much is done  to combat adult on adult cyberbullying.

Before I link up Curt Schilling’s blog post, here is some other coverage on this:

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling fires back after trolls’ violent, sexual tweets about teen daughter

 NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. Published: Monday, March 2, 2015

Christian Science Monitor: Curt Schilling defends daughter from Twitter bullies with help of followers

Former Red Sox pitching star Curt Schilling named the cyber bullies on Monday who targeted his daughter online with vulgar comments.

Washington Post Early Lead 

 March 2 at 8:31 PM  

Boston.com: Schilling Throws Perfect Game With Response to Misogynist Trolls

Here is an excerpt from Curt Schilling’s blog post:

The world we live in…Man has it changed. ADDENDUM!

MARCH 1, 2015


I thank God every day that Facebook and Twitter, instagram, vine, Youtube, all of it, did not exist when I went to High School. I can’t imagine the dumb stuff I’d have been caught saying and doing.
If you are a dad this is something you well know already, if you are a dad with a daughter this is likely to get your blood going. If you are a boy, or young man, or husband, and you haven’t experienced children yet, or haven’t had a daughter, it’s next to impossible for you to understand.
My daughter, my one and only daughter, has worked her ass off playing sports the past 9-10 years. She’s loved it, and I’ve loved being able to both watch, and coach along the way.
Last week we were told she’d been accepted to college and will begin playing softball there next year.
Clearly an incredibly proud day.
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And of course, like any dad in the modern world I said so.
Now I’ve been using computers since 1981. I was a professional baseball player for 22 years. I played 10+ years in Philadelphia. I played 5 in Boston. I shared a locker room with well over a thousand teammates and I played and lived at school a year before doing so.
That’s all to say I am absolutely aware of social media and how it works. As someone who’s said about 2.34 billion things he shouldn’t have, I get it.
….tweets with the word rape, bloody underwear and pretty much every other vulgar and defiling word you could likely fathom began to follow.
Now let me emphasize again. I was a jock my whole life. I played sports my whole life. Baseball since I was 5 until I retired at 41. I know clubhouses. I lived in a dorm. I get it. Guys will be guys. Guys will say dumb crap, often. But I can’t ever remember, drunk, in a clubhouse, with best friends, with anyone, ever speaking like this to someone…I understand this……I have a nasty habit of talking, a lot, about anything anyone asks me and totally unconcerned about giving you my opinion. You will never question where I stand, right or wrong agree or disagree on anything….The amount of vitriol I’ve heard is not an issue. I am sure I’ll hear more.
But I have to ask, is this even remotely ok? In ANY world? At ANY time?
Worse yet? No less than 7 of the clowns who sent vile or worse tweets are athletes playing college sports.
I knew every name and school, sport and position, of every one of them in less than an hour. The ones that didn’t play sports were just as easy to locate.

I’ve kept every tweet…

women and social media

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One of my mother’s favorite expressions is “never complain, never explain”. As I flip through Facebook this morning while having my coffee, I thought I would pass it on. Some people might actually need it cross stitched and framed. Do you sense sarcasm here? Just a little bit? Sorry, I just find women and social media an oddity at times.

There is a lot of glass half empty and what the world owes people going on online. But maybe that is just social media: our own personal platforms for way too much grexing. (“Grexing” is Pennsylvania German for whining, complaining, or brutzing.)

I understand that everyone has troubles at different points in their lives and I totally get feeling the need to vent now and then, but there are some who are always seeming to be this way. I don’t know if they are this way in person all the time at this point or if this is just their online persona. But it’s like they are constantly negative and chronically angry and how is that healthy?

Trust me, I can whine with the best of them. But when you seem to be barraged with it from certain people all the time it gives you pause for thought. Is the glass really always half-empty? Why isn’t it ever half-full?

None of us are perfect, but do some of us simply expect too much of other people without looking to see what we can do by standing on our own two feet? It’s just that when I see some of what some people are putting “out there” for the world to see versus friends I have who lives with horrible diseases every single day and are among the most positive people I’ve ever met, it just makes me stop and think. I know women who are living with diseases like multiple sclerosis and metastatic breast cancer. Truthfully, these are the women that inspire me. They have every right to complain, but they don’t. They live. And they live positively and with love.

Whatever happened to personal accountability? Why is the world responsible for everything that goes wrong in our lives? We are all capable of free will, so unless we are being dangerously coerced or abused, aren’t we the ones making those decisions? From businesses to kids to life to men it’s giant gripe-fest some mornings. In some cases I can’t help but wonder if it’s karma, and I feel bad even thinking that, but when you treat other people poorly or rudely for long enough, what happens? Is it the old adage of everything that goes around eventually comes around?

A dear friend’s husband said to me that I need new people in my sphere, and I don’t think I necessarily that but I think some need a new outlook. And I’m not Pollyanna every day, so don’t misunderstand me, it’s just sometimes I am left silently asking these people a question. That question is how are we responsible for your personal happiness? And I am not silently asking that question to be mean. I want to know how it is we are supposed to be responsible for own lives and our families and their happiness? And yet we are called disloyal and worse if we don’t jump on the online bandwagon of support, which I don’t get. Do these people want true friends or sychophants?

Personally, I am someone who can be extraordinarily hard on myself. I am probably harder on myself than anyone else ever is. But when I see other people’s negativity head on it gives me pause, and makes me look inward at myself and my attitude too for that matter.

And then there are the women I see in groups who ask questions of total strangers that I don’t know that I would even voice out loud to people I know. Some of the questions range from the “lady you need boundaries that’s very personal” to “say what did she really just say that?”

And in group forums, there are some women who seem to view everyone else as the Shell Answer Man for lack of a better description. Sometimes I wonder if these people can get out of bed in the morning without seeking consensus first. Looking for referrals for a doctor, hair salon, restaurant, service provider I get those questions. But what I don’t get is when people post things like they have a cheating spouse and spouse was a cheating person before they married them and they just caught them at it again and what should they do should they just stay or should they leave? Really??? This is something you ask a thousand strangers ??

Another another favorite topic in the group forums is what to pay the babysitter. I’ve come to the conclusion there are a lot of cheap women out there.

And then there are the women who seek actual medical advice from a thousand strangers they don’t know and who definitely aren’t medical professionals- yes, that consensus seeking syndrome again. And I’m not talking about their asking medical related questions in a group that is geared specifically towards a disease or disorder. I’m talking about the women who should be filed under the category of “there are no boundaries on this bus”. And really, I don’t need to read what color your kid’s poop is either. (Yes seriously I have seen people post things about that.)

The thing that amuses me about some of these women when I see what they’re writing in public (and if it’s on Facebook or Twitter or other social media, it’s in public) is that these are often the type of women that I would run into a few short years ago who would say “I don’t know how you can blog. It’s so public.” And the tone of voice and face that would accompany comments like this was like I was doing something well, dirty.

Yes, to an extent, the Internet is like a giant bathroom wall. Which means what exactly? A society we are changing how we share? Or it’s just nice to have a place to vent? Or we should learn to once again to occasionally curb the streams of flowing consciousness?

Another amusing thing about women and social media are the ones who try to develop a particular persona that’s really not who they are in real time. I’m talking about the ones who are all so sickly sweet and posting cute little phrases often with photos constantly while they God bless everyone and thank God for blessings everything. And I am not speaking of the people I know who are truly good and Christian women, I’m talking about the ones that think we don’t know how they treat other people in real time and how viciously they gossip when they’re off their social media pages.

I really respect women who are who real and true online and off.

One of my favorite things hands-down still about connecting with women I know on social media is it’s a way to keep up with relatives and friends who are spread out and scattered to the four winds. It’s really nice to see pictures of their kids, and hear about what everyone is doing. One of the sad things however, is you can also see those who are starting to self-destruct and disintegrate. It makes you wonder why their families don’t see it too at times.

And then we all know people who seem unable to have actual conversations any longer, yet you can read all about it on social media. Maybe I am showing my age that I lament the lost art of conversation and even thank you notes. But I do think people don’t talk to each other enough any longer. Texting and tweeting and Facebooking are not talking. They might be a form of communication, but it is not the same nor a substitute for speaking and having conversations. And this doesn’t just occur with adults, it occurs with the young – our kids. And I think our kids need to be able to communicate and express how they’re feeling traditionally not just via social media and texting. And a lot of times they can’t.

I know some people I know are going to be annoyed or almost paranoid by this post I’ve written. Ladies, rest easy, the one thing that has never changed with me in all these years is telling you exactly how I am feeling person to person. If I had an issue with you I wouldn’t allude to it vaguely on a social media feed or in a blog post, I would tell you. In other words I’m not gonna play whisper down the lane behind your back yet in front of your face like a lot of people do on social media, this is just something I was thinking about as I was drinking my coffee this morning.

Thanks for stopping by and please, try to see the bright spots in life. It’s really easy to be negative, it’s much more work to be positive but so worth it. Life, every day, is a gift.

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saving seeds

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September is here and it makes me think about starting garden planning for next year. I will do one or two more rounds of planting, including bulbs, but now is when I start to think about garden seasons yet to come.

I am not much of a seed saver for being a rabid gardener. Mostly because in years past I have forgotten I saved seeds and discovered them years later when they were no longer viable.

I am told saving seeds is not rocket science, it’s all about clipping the seed pods and flower heads when they are dried on the plant. In my photo you will see some flower heads that while spent aren’t really dried enough. That is mostly artistic license because I was staging my photo to show what I was snipping.

I decided that now that I am into my new garden a couple of years that although I did not really have much as far as clumps of perennials to split yet, I did have enough to let some plants start to go to seed.

I should probably be more studious in my approach and separate all of my seeds, but I have decided to create my own seed mix. I like what I have in my flower beds and want to replicate the plant combinations. To further outrage the seed cataloguers out there and the meticulous seed gatherers I have thrown caution to the wind and have mixed annuals and perennials.

Better Homes and Gardens says:

Seed saving has long been the primary way to pass plants down from generation to generation. Continue the tradition of sharing the best of nature’s gifts by saving seeds in your garden.

The best plants for seed saving are heirlooms, old-fashioned varieties, and open-pollinated plants. This is because the seeds usually grow into plants that look like their parents. Seeds saved from hybrids will not usually grow into the same plants as their parents.

I have grown a lot of old fashioned favorites in this garden. I have also planted new cultivars of old fashioned favorites. Zinnias, buddleia, rudbeckia, echinacea, false blue indigo, lisianthus, daisies, and sunflowers. I like the jumble of them in my beds. I plant them with various other plants, herbs, and shrubs. I am cultivating a cottage garden look.

I know that with some of the seeds I have collected, I might end up with a plant different than the “parent”. But that might be fun! I am a direct sow person when it comes to seeds for the most part. Depending on how I feel later this winter I might attempt starting seeds indoors. I will collect some seeds and leave the balance of plant blooms to dry and self seed in the garden.

Here is what Fine Gardening has to say about saving seeds:

When I was new to ­gardening, I depended upon the kindness of friends and strangers to help fill my beds. Unfortunately, I was too green to realize what treasures I had in hand until I’d wasted them…..Collecting seeds is one of those activities that makes me feel like a wealthy woman. As the seed supply spills out of the first, small envelopes into manila 8210s and Mason jars, I take as much pleasure as Midas in counting my riches….. By the time I’m finished in fall, I will have shelves stuffed with the makings of next year’s garden.

….A few minutes of shaking ripe seed into an envelope in the early fall can produce a summer garden next year that is filled with mallows, petunias, marigolds, and other favor­ites—all grown for free. ­Saving your own seeds ­enables you to use your garden budget for major nonplant investments, like that teakwood table and chairs you’ve been lusting after.

You can save seeds from all kinds of plants. Annuals are the easiest because they’re the most prolific at producing seeds, but perennials and biennials are entirely possible.

For more on seeds and starting them, visit Fine Gardening HERE.

And for those of you on Facebook, I have started a Chester County Ramblings Gardening Group. I had noticed that while there were many yard sale, garage sale, and related household items groups, there wasn’t a place for Chester County Gardeners and other local gardeners. I am pleased to report that less than 24 hours since creation, gardening enthusiasts are lining up!

The Chester County Ramblings Gardening Group is a closed group, so you will need to request to join or ask a friend already in the group to add you pending admin approval.

I love to garden and many of you do as well. I thought it would be fun to have a group devoted to gardening. A place for folks to swap seeds, look for plants, re-home perennials and other garden plants, share advice and tips, share garden photos.

This will be a closed group and we will be pleasant. I reserve the right to remove anyone who cannot garden well with others.

People may also post to sell garden furniture, tools, plants, statuary, you name it….as long as it is garden or plant related.

People may post what they are in search of acquiring for their gardens, from plants to patio furniture.

Chester County residents are preferred, but no true gardener refused.

Chester County nurseries and plant growers are welcome to post sales and promotions.

Chester County businesses who deal in gardening supplies, vintage garden accents, bird houses, bird baths, hardscaping, landscaping,garden furniture,statuary and so on also welcome.

Thanks for stopping by!