#dearcongress and mr. president

Taken by my friend Amy.  Obviously this guy needs spell check and has a lot to say, but it seems to sum up the stupidity Americans are currently being forced to deal with

Taken by my friend Amy. Obviously this guy needs spell check and has a lot to say, but it seems to sum up the stupidity Americans are currently being forced to deal with

#DearCongress and Mr. President,

Hi it’s me, the average American. I am Republican but don’t blame me for the current brand of Republicans as I think a Tea Party is best for little girls, teddy bears and dolls.

(And I am fresh out of pink ties and hankies for the ever tearful John Boehner and wow, I should have taken that photo of him smoking cigarettes and drinking red wine when he came to PA to stump for Gerlach in August 2010.)

You all claim it started over Obamacare. Well…Democrats you can’t blame everything you don’t like on Republicans, and Republicans you can’t blame it all on Obamacare. And while you puff, preen, and posture, we are still waiting for you to do what? Oh yes demand reform on the part of the insurance companies. While you all fight, they just get richer and nothing changes.

Anyway, I don’t care if you are Republicans and Democrats, I am over, yes o-v-e-r this Government Shut Down. It was a dumb ass idea that should have remained a Walter Mitty moment that never, ever happened.

We hold the following truth to be self-evident: we didn’t elect any of you people for this. And while you puff, preen, and posture on Capitol Hill, with an occasional scripted quip from the White House, ordinary people suffer. And pay for your mess.

Also, this whole idea of government shut down has roots in a guy from the Carter administration named Benjamin Civiletti. (Just thought I would toss that in there)

Now people are freaking out about the US defaulting on debt and investor confidence is shaken seriously by the government shut down. Well wow, what took them so long?

And when we are talking debt and stuff Mr. President and Congress, can we quote Mr. President before he was President?

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. Increasi…ng America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

~ Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006

America does deserve better. And I think any politician taking part in this farce known as government shut down should be voted out of office. I guess my sentiment is not so unusual because I noticed my Congressman Jim Gerlach has stepped away from the pack, hasn’t he? He joins Meehan, Dent and Fitzpatrick, right?

I want to believe in our party system of Republicans and Democrats but I do not see any of them doing what they should. I see both parties as having been marginalized by extremists, extremism, corruption, and special interests. And it doesn’t matter what any of us regular folk believe or want. The only ones BOTH parties of elected officials in Washington listen to are the super rich , well connected, and the very powerful. The proverbial political king makers. No one else matters.

You have closed our parks and monuments. Including Valley Forge Park. Public roads run through the park, will we get fined for being on public roads? Apparently you are fining everyone else who goes to land technically owned by the people. Maybe you should fine all the deer too?

VF closedI find it ironic that you can pay the park rangers to fine runners like John Bell of Chadds Ford, but you can’t get back to the business of government? Mr. Bell has now retained a lawyer and will fight the $100 ticket in Federal Court and who can blame him, except we all will end up paying for all litigation that this government shut down results in, won’t we?

Which brings me to the heart of the matter. I have to ask Mr. President and Congress why this government shut down is not a tax-free event? After all, we as every day Americans have nothing to do with this and I think this should be like when Comcast and Verizon and PECO screw up and they have to adjust your bill. Why not adjust our tax bills accordingly? I see no reason why we should pay for your foolishness anymore then we already have to.

And let’s talk salary and benefits Mr. President and Congress ok? I pay my own health benefits. As Americans, we all pay for YOU as a collective. That’s a great deal being a politician. You can declare war on each other and do less than you usually do, and we have to pay for it. You aren’t living up to your job descriptions and if you were in corporate America you would be what? Oh yes, oh my, you would be fired.

The Government Shutdown stinks. Why should we all be paying because you can’t get along? Has it ever occurred to you or do you care that you make us all embarrassed to be an American at this point on some level?

How can we take pride in a government that is no better than a bunch of kids fighting on the playground?

With all due respect #DearCongress and President Obama? GROW UP. Running this country needs to stop being about the agendas of politicians and special interest groups from BOTH parties.

Let’s end this #AmericanHorrorStory .

Love,

Me

this and that

DSC_0071The nature of humans and writing is a weird and complicated process, often because of what the reader expects from the writer.

Some posts write themselves in the middle of the night.  That is the genesis of this post.

Sometimes I do not sleep well.  I am on a drug for the treatment of breast cancer called Tamoxifen.  I have three years to go and one of its side effects is it can affect your sleep.  I don’t often talk about the whole breast cancer thing here, I have a dedicated (and well-respected blog for that.)

On this blog, I have had people who have taken issue with me speaking about my breast cancer. But  it is part of me and like it or not, and it has shaped my life experience.

Ironically, having had breast cancer has taught me many positive things including the value of life and living life well and being happy.  It gave me the courage to pursue my dreams, yes, like writing.DSC_0140

A lot of what annoys people about my discussing my breast cancer is when I measure it against other experiences. As it is the hardest and most difficult thing I ever experienced personally, heck yes I measure other experiences against it if the spirit moves me.

I have learned in life that often if your opinion differs from the comfort zone of others that can prove problematic.  Especially when you write.  You can verbally state your opinion more easily than if you write it down.  But the thing at the end of the day that people don’t get is I write for me.  Writing is first and foremost something I do for myself.  And I do actually do research things which I am curious about.

Maybe someday I will have a book in me and not just a blog or occasional byline. Maybe I will write the memoirs of a female blogger.  I will say I do have self-published photography books that I have done, and that was quite an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

DSC_0109As I make my way through this writing experience, I am often amused at what strikes a nerve. One of the first nerves was writing about West Vincent Township.  Then came horse rescue. Wow horse rescue is still one of the largest read topics on this blog with a close second to Justice for Argus and Fiona. And then there is of course my asking if a favorite restaurant would survive because of listings in both sheriff’s and tax sales lists coupled with an additional land purchase for another restaurant in another county.  Chicken little you would think the world was ending for verbalizing what quite a lot of people are still talking about.

Also amazing to me is how many people like my recipes and photography. I am so pleased about that.  Recipes and photos are something really personal to me, so I really am happy that people are receptive to both.

Not all, however, have been receptive to my photos.  Take for example the odd responses from the woman who grew up with the Women’s Lib Barn (yes I did do some research to ascertain it was a woman writing to me.)  To this day I shake my head at that – I loved that barn for so many different reasons and my photographing it was like paying homage to it.  But she so soured me on it, that now I just drive by….I don’t even look at it.

That was my favorite barn in Chester County.  It is the first one I really noticed when I moved here.  It spoke to me.  As a woman I find myself often torn between the old and new, and the old roles of women versus the women of today. It also speaks to me because to me it also represents the uniqueness, individuality, and independence of the people of Chester County – traits I admire and respect.

I also write about parenting on occasion, collecting (as in antiques and collectibles) and gardening. At my core, I am part Domestic Diva or Suzy Homemaker.  I love that for the first time in my life I actually have time for all of this, and can experience it without guilt or reserve.  I love sharing those experiences with people. I even write about childhood recollections.

I used to focus more on activism based blogging. That was what I did then, and while it still has a role in my writing, it is not the main focus. I will write about things that I find curious. Or strange. Now, I write about whatever strikes my fancy, and share fun things I discover along the way.

DSC_0096Recently I have written a couple of things that are in the category of religion and beliefs.  We should be able to talk about this stuff.  I have in the past too.  As a Catholic and as a human being I have expressed my disgust over pedophile priests.   I have also  touched on born again Christian stuff.  No one had a problem with that or pedophile priest discussions.  But when I touched on Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy, holy tomato Batman! It is like I personally corrupted the Holy Grail.

To me Anthroposophy represents communes and cult-like behavior. (Communes are intentional communities and intentional communities are communes, right?)  Oh my!  I have had people rear up….all associated with Waldorf or Steiner Schools.  Am I the first to question Anthroposophy or Steiner? No.  Go ahead, read THIS and THIS and THIS and THIS and THISWaldorf Watch a site devoted to this.  And then there is Waldorf Straight Talk and a lot of things submitted by former teachers to different sites. I am sure some can say they are all disgruntled employees or residents, but are they? I know one story personally.  It is not mine to share, but suffice it to say it was a former Kimberton Waldorf teacher and the person is hardly an axe grinder.

If you look at the comments regarding this touchy  topic I have this man who has popped up who told me I was “afraid of my neighbors” and that I had a “fear piñata” I swung wildly at. He is in addition to the woman who just seems angry in general that I have expressed an opinion on this.

The man wants to help me “confront” my fear and that by my opinion which as an individual I am entitled to have that I have instead performed an ad hominum  attack by “labeling” them. Oh and that I write in order to sound clever. And that I am not real.

Ah yes, the most devastating comment: because I don’t agree with what he is indeed trying to sell me, I am, therefore,  not “real”.

Am I a fan of CSAs, organic farming, taking care of the mentally and physically challenged in our community, and Kimberton Whole Foods? Yes to all of the above. Except when I measure saints among us, my definition of saints and Godly people are derived from a more traditional religious beliefs and practices. And yes I am aware that CampHill has done some truly nice things.  After all was it not CampHill Special School that took in the family of one of the defendant’s in the Milton Street trial a few years ago? That was very generous of them and honestly a good deed.

DSC_0247I am quite real, and I am clever, but not in the derogatory way the commenter intended.  And I am not fearful.  I merely stated my opinion based upon the research that I did.

It is always funny to me that people will feel free to tell you what you should and shouldn’t be writing about.  I have to ask why they aren’t writing if they feel so strongly about certain things?

Some accused me of perpetuating “hearsay” while stating my opinion.  I have to ask is the renowned publication The Atlantic “hearsay”? Is it only “hearsay” because they don’t want to believe people are writing about how they feel about Waldorf, Steiner, and Anthroposophy?

The Atlantic: Is This Grade School a ‘Cult’? (And Do Parents Care?)

 Nov 30 2012, 1:39 PM ET
Waldorf schools are popular with progressives. But how do you feel about a dose of spiritualism with your child’s reading and math?
Would you send your kid to a school where faceless dolls and pine-cones are the toys of choice? A school where kids don’t read proficiently until age 9 or 10 — and where time spared goes to knitting and playing the recorder? A school where students sing hymns to “spirit” every day?
DSC_0123

I am a fairly simple person with a complicated brain . I think about a lot of different things.

Things like why people abandon their homes, factories, churches, and farms and so on fascinate me.  You know I love to photograph the old and abandoned and there seems to be a lot of that in Chester County, unfortunately.  I believe it goes with areas that still have a rural component.

abandoned

Abandoned and desolate, this house suffers from not only overt neglect, but a dispute to its historical net worth. A friend was kind enough to share this photo. The location is (if I have it straight) is slightly west of Valley Forge Park , sort of behind VF Baptist Church.

Some days I write about things that make me go HMMMM and other days I also write about things I cook.  Other days I write about both. It’s just the way it is.

Like take this weekend for example – I made a tortellini saladtortellini salad with cucumber, shallots, string beans, tomato, tossed with fresh basil and Italian flat leaf parsley and rest with a homemade lemon tarragon mustard caper vinaigrette -The dressing ispeach pie homemade and came out of my head as I was preparing peach pie filling. Yes, I also made a double crust peach pie with the delicious peaches from Northstar Orchards whom I visit at The East Goshen Farmers Market.

And if Sears would ever come fix my oven, (even Whirlpool/Maytag is upset with Sears) I might roast tomatoes and write about it.  Roasted tomatoes make for awesome gazpacho as well as being delicious on their own as just a vegetable.

I also  write about simple fun things for my home when the spirit moves me.  I love the Smithfield Barn and Resellers Consignment for that reason.  This weekend at Smithfield Barn I got the vintage pie plate in which I baked that pie photo captioned above.

Some of the things I write about are things that I grew up with.  Like lamps.  My mother had these two lamps in our home growing up.  She hasn’t used them for years in her current home and had put them in a closet.  Over the weekend she passed them along to me along with for a lack of a better description, lamp parts.  You would be amazed how much better a lamp can look with a harp that gives a shade a different height.

The lamps are totally “me”.  The shades I plunked on them I had in the attic.  They came from a lady who used to be at Black Angus or Stoudt’s Antiques in Adamstown – she made these amazing pierced lampshades. I don’t even know if she is there any longer.  My friend Anna’s mother got me hooked on these lampshades as well as my mother – they both had this style of shade on lamps in their homes.

See the lamps – they are so fun:

lamp 1lamp 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lamps are in different parts of the house and I am so enjoying them! But as my mother said I like quirky lamps.  I think these are very cool!

I love old stuff. Not necessarily antiques, but vintage.  Setting my table with funky old dishes and vintage linens is total fun to me.

I actually organized my old linens yesterday.  I have accumulated them in essence for pennies on the dollar because I get them at thrift shops, tag sales, church sales – wherever I see them that I like them.  But I refuse to pay oodles of money for them. I love vintage linens basically because the quality is so much better than a lot of what you see today.  Also a lot of times it is just that much more fun.  I have a few kitschy 1950s and 1960s tablecloths for example – totally fun.

Also in the textile area are vintage and handmade quilts.  Again, I look at church sales, farm/barn and even on eBay.  I only buy what I can use and I am limited on what I am willing to pay.

Not one of mine. Made by a friend of mine for her granddaughter. A modern quilt that captured the vintage essence I love.

Not one of mine. Made by a friend of mine for her granddaughter. A modern quilt that captured the vintage essence I love.

What else is on my mind today?  Something troubling my friends who live in Schuylkill Township.  They are facing quite the unsavory and dense development more suitable for urban living on a parcel of land that makes some refer to it as Groundhog Day – apparently it is a bad repeating nightmare for residents in a particular spot where they have bog turtles, rare bats, serpentine asters, bald eagles roosting and the DEP, US Fish and Game, have all been involved in the past.  There are apparently steep slopes, egress and traffic issues.  It feels like an uphill battle to these folks where the developer always wins.  Who even cares about environmental and social degradation anymore is the last thing one friend said to me.

I know nothing except there is a public hearing TONIGHT.

Schuylkill Township

I know nothing much about  Schuylkill Township.  I think this is what has residents upset (click LINK). Here is their agenda.

I will fully admit that this whole create zoning to satisfy a particular developer or a slew of developers is problematic.  One needs to look no farther than Lower Merion Township in the heart of the Main Line.  When I tell you I spent years at meetings on similar development nightmares, I kid you not.  They have these zoning overlays that were in essence designed for specific developers so they could build (one developer who is familiar to Chester County even referred to one overlay as “his zoning” and a meeting.)  Another thing?  When new developers appear on the scene, they then append the original zoning to satisfy even more developers.

Now Schuylkill Township says (and I quote):

“Planned Residential  Developments” which are designed to afford flexibility to respond to growing demand  for housing of all types and design.  The  proposed Planned Residential Development Ordinance will allow mixed residential  uses on properties of at least 60 acres in Schuylkill Township.

The thing is this – I keep waiting for any of this zoning in any municipality to actually be about the residents with the best interest of the residents born in mind. I hate to sound jaded but it never is.  These weird zoning things are for the lining of the township ratables pockets and the developers.  The most bang for the buck on the profit margin side. If the zoning doesn’t fit the plans politicians want, they change the zoning. The flip side is when you try to get them to change the zoning to protect residents, environment, open space, you choose, it never seems “doable” does it? Or if they do regurgitate changes they are insufficient or weak enough that what people were trying to avoid happens anyway.

Zoning boards blame planning and commissioners/supervisors.  Supervisors/Commissioners/Planning Commissions blame the Municipalities Planning Code

Yes, community planning is a passion.  Where you live is a big deal.  And I hate to sound like a Myna bird but once open space is gone, it’s gone.  Once historic and older homes are gone, they are gone.  You can’t save everything, but communities should plan better to save some things.

I will also repeat my assertion that The Municipalities Planning Code is incredibly outdated and needs an overhaul.  How they looked at suburbs and exurbs and rural areas in 1968 is different from today. And the part of the code that Schuylkill Township is claiming like the divine right of kings has to do with Article VII of the  Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Act of 1968, P.L. 805, No. 247, as  reenacted and amended. Now this portion was last updated in 1988.  Don’t you think a few more things have changed since 1988?

What does this portion cover? Here:

AN ACT

To empower cities of the second class A, and third class, boroughs, incorporated towns, townships of the first and second classes including those within a county of the second class and counties of the second through eighth classes, individually or jointly, to plan their development and to govern the same by zoning, subdivision and land development ordinances, planned residential development and other ordinances, by official maps, by the reservation of certain land for future public purpose and by the acquisition of such land; to promote the conservation of energy through the use of planning practices and to promote the effective utilization of renewable energy sources; providing for the establishment of planning commissions, planning departments, planning committees and zoning hearing boards, authorizing them to charge fees, make inspections and hold public hearings; providing for mediation; providing for transferable development rights; providing for appropriations, appeals to courts and penalties for violations; and repealing acts and parts of acts. (Title amended Dec. 14, 1992, P.L.815, No.131)

Note this covers Transferable Development Rights?  That is what many residents in West Vincent are fighting as they also fight to keep their tiny, rural community from being overdeveloped.

You know, to control things like this from happening:

cluster f

cluster f 2

clster f 3

Having nothing to do with Chester County, I also have the Syria of it all on my busy brain.  I guess I just have an Obamariffic problem with a purportedly peace-loving president who pulls troops out of places like Iraq and Afghanistan to send them to Syria. So yes, I am thinking in this case a little isolationism might be good for the United States. 

We can’t be everyone’s champion and big brother world-wide if we can’t fix issues on the home front.  We have people starving and dying every day in the United States.  We also have a crappy economy that could deal with a little love not a few more smoke screens to divert away the attention of the average American.

Anyway. That is it for the day.  Love me or hate me, this is my blog.  If you do not like what I am writing about, I will miss you, but will completely understand if you go find other blogs to read. But the reality of life is we can all have different opinions.

where have all the roses gone?

rose4Happy first day of summer!

Where have all the roses gone?

Are local gardeners so lazy that nurseries don’t carry them any longer?

Or is the beautiful rose, once an iconic American and British garden staple merely out of fashion?

Have roses gone the way of any plant not easy for a developer to “shrub” a plastic coated development with?

I think the answer is yes to all questions above, and I think it is sad.

I love roses.  I love roses enough that once upon a time I wrote something for the American Rose Society which still exists over 15 years later on their website (Read it here on this website too! Roses-Thrive-on-Routine ).

more roses

I have a small collection of rose books in my personal library, including one of my favorites called In Search of Lost Roses by Thomas Christopher – here is a snippet of an old interview:

Thomas Christopher author of In Search of Lost Roses

Read an excerpt from the book.

Question: What are “lost roses,” and how did they get that way?

Christopher: Traditionally, gardeners grew a tremendous diversity of roses—some 6,000 different kinds were introduced by nurserymen in the nineteenth century alone. Not all of these roses were available at any given time, but still, a century ago gardeners took for granted that they would have access to roses of all sorts of sizes and colors, from tiny five-petalled roses very little different from the wild species, to huge, petal-packed puffs as much as six inches in diameter.

This situation changed at the beginning of the twentieth century. The nursery industry consolidated, so that the growing of roses was handled by a few giant firms. To maximize profits, these businesses trimmed the product lines, eliminating the less than best-selling roses. Eventually, the rose growers focused on the production of the widely-popular new hybrid tea roses to the exclusion of almost everything else.

The other roses, the heritage of 2,500 years of breeding and gardening, disappeared from nursery catalogs and eventually from gardens, too. They were lost and presumed dead until a handful of imaginative rosarians made it their business in the 1970s and 1980s to search out specimens surviving in abandoned gardens, cemeteries, and other inadvertent sanctuaries. My book is the story of these collectors and their crusade.

It was this book that got me hooked on old roses.  By the time I read it I already was in love with David Austin’s English Roses and the royalty of American Hybrid Tea roses like “Princesse de Monaco“, “John F. Kennedy” , “Climbing Joseph’s Coat“, and “Peace”.

But where are these and old garden roses today?  Thomas Christopher might want to consider a follow-up book as roses are quickly disappearing from the American garden landscape.

roses

A flower as American as Apple Pie shouldn’t disappear from gardens.  They are regal and amazing flowers and much like your pets and children will thrive on simple and consistent routines.  Has our world evolved so much that because a rose bush is not instant gratification that we can no longer grow it?

I went searching for roses this spring.  Chester County has a slew of nurseries and while I could find every other shrub, roses were on the endangered species list.  The only roses to be found were sorry specimens from prior seasons that should have been marked down for a rose lover to adopt, but weren’t and those “Knock Out Roses” – Knock Out Roses are apparently the evolution of the American Garden Rose and purportedly require little care.  They are o.k. but they don’t give me that true garden rose feeling.roses3

I finally had to order my roses bare root.  I hated to not give local nurseries the business, but they didn’t have the stock. I don’t mind planting bare root rose, it is fairly easy – just follow the directions of the grower.

Yes, I know deer like roses, but that is why you have fences and dogs.

So yesterday when I stopped at Woodlawn Landscaping and Nursery in Malvern (the old Potters site on Paoli Pike for those of you who haven’t been there), I got to talking roses with one of my favorite nurserywomen there as I picked out some perennials.  She told me how the rose industry had faltered and about  Jackson & Perkins bankruptcy a couple of years,  and financial issues other rose growers had experienced in this crazy economy of the past few years.

So roses are a victim of the economy too? Thanks, President Obama.  My healthcare keeps going up and now I can’t find a simple pleasure like rose bushes? I wonder if the White House Rose Garden has suffered as a result? (Sorry, didn’t mean to get political but roses are an American tradition are they not? Shouldn’t someone be indignant?)

Here is an article I found that I thought was interesting:

LA Times Bloom comes off the rose industry

In recent years, time-strapped homeowners have traded their big tea roses for the easier-growing compact shrub variety. Many hybrid varieties may disappear from the marketplace.

March 08, 2012|By Debbie Arrington

Future generations may never know the beauty of Diana, Princess of Wales; sniff Catalina in the sunshine; or fall for Beloved.For a century, devoted gardeners have appreciated the marvels of delicate and finicky hybrid roses and referred to them by name, like pets or family. The product of generations of breeding, the queen of flowers could act like a spoiled princess because its delicate blooms offered a special reward.

In recent years, though, time-strapped homeowners have traded their big teas for compact shrub roses — utilitarian soldiers in the landscape that could cover ground without fuss.

Our desire for the carefree — no-iron shirts, no-wax floors, and now low-maintenance yards — has brought the rose industry to a crossroads.

“At some point, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Charlie Anderson, president of Weeks Roses, the only major company still creating new varieties of full-size roses. “[Landscape] roses will be all you have; the beautiful, unique hybrid teas will be gone.”

The flagging economy has compounded the rose industry’s troubles.

Two years ago, rose giant Jackson & Perkins, which had annually shipped 10 million bushes nationwide, filed for bankruptcy protection. Many of the hybrid roses the company created — such as Diana, Catalina and Beloved — may soon disappear from the mass market as the supply of those bushes dries up.

“Roses are viewed as an extravagance, and they’re still trying to shed that stigma,” said Seth Taylor of Capital Nursery…..The annual wholesale value of California’s rose crop dropped 55% to $27.20 million in 2010 from a high of $61.05 million in 2003, according to nursery industry expert Hoy Carman, a retired UC Davis professor.

“The whole nursery industry is down,” Carman said. “In 2008, sales just plummeted.”

Said Adams of the Rose Society: “Roses are not the first thing homeowners think of when they want to plant a garden. Competition with other choice plants is fierce…. Most major rose growers have gone bankrupt or consolidated with other wholesale nurseries…..Jackson & Perkins, acquired by J&P Park Acquisitions Inc. of South Carolina, no longer develops and grows new roses. Before bankruptcy, the company farmed 5,000 acres in Wasco with 20,000 bushes per acre. Without buyers, many of those bushes were burned.

Once a breeder goes bankrupt, its roses usually disappear with it. Rose patents — good for 18 to 20 years — may be sold, but budwood and mother plants are lost. Many Jackson & Perkins roses are now on the endangered list.

“Some will be preserved,” Anderson said. “But a lot of varieties were lost; there was no budwood to collect [to create new hybrid bushes]. Most will just disappear into the ether.”

rose2

When is the last time any of you planted a rose bush?  I don’t think there is an app for that, so when is the last time you really dug in the dirt? As in planted things yourselves?  Gardening is a primal thing to be sure, a connection between you and the land and it doesn’t have to be all perfect and chemically induced lawns, either.

I know I am a little dotty when it comes to gardening because I love to do it.  Not for other people, just myself.  It gives me peace and satisfaction.  The easiest way to inner peace is a simple walk or cooking or gardening I think.

Roses are a part of every garden I have ever had large or small.  Granted I will never have the amount of roses in my garden that I grew in my parents’ old garden (read this June 1997 Philadelphia Inquirer article where I was interviewed about rose growing – Rosy Outlook ).  Pardon me while I ramble like a proverbial rambling rose, but  wow I still remember shortly after my parents sold that house the new owner ripping out and tossing over 51 different rose bushes so he could have a look that was more developer “shrubbed” and predictable (and someone else would take care of it.)

I am making a plea to all you gardeners who are left: if you have some sun, plant some roses.  Don’t let real roses disappear. You don’t have to plant dozens, just try one or two.   After all the rose is iconic enough to Americans that it has a parade, and it is still the state flower of New York, and last I checked the White House still had a rose garden, so aren’t they worth saving and trying again?  Not those landscaper roses that have taken over, but a real rose, with that real rose smell and regal appearance? And did you know that roses are a working flower too?  Don’t believe me? Check any wine producer and let them tell you about how they plant roses in the vineyards.  They have this canary in the coal mine role – grape vines and roses are susceptible to the same diseases.

My final word on the topic is yet another article, fairly recent, that I found about roses and life:

Sherry Young: Life is like growing roses, if you don’t tend to responsibilities it may fade on you

By , Deseret News Published: Thursday, May 23 2013

In frustration with all the roses in my yard I once wrote an article titled “Roses have thorns — and thorns have roses.” It sprang from a quote by writer and novelist Alphonse Kerr, who observed, “Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses.”

As a beleaguered gardener, I wrote, “My yard is filled with roses. Now, during the third summer learning curve for tending to them, I bear scars on my arms and legs from trying to figure out their perfidious nature.”

Today I stood looking around my yard, now sadly devoid of many of those beautiful plants. One by one they expired…

Whatever the cause, only a few remain to waft the air with their perfume this June. It is a great life lesson to deal with the thorns because at least there are roses.

As I stood looking, I had mixed feelings about the plight of those roses. It was actually a relief I didn’t need to prune them and feed them and chase away the aphids, but on the other hand I was sad to miss their beauty.

Life is like growing roses. If you don’t plant you won’t reap, if you don’t tend to responsibilities they may fade on you. Some varieties are hardier than others, and even among the same varieties there will be differences. Part of their success and beauty will be where they are planted.

Well, I do go on — parallels everywhere…“A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever,” advised British actor Richard Briers

 

Enjoy the first day of summer.  And remember, life is all about stopping to smell the roses.  But we have to plant some first.

playing “chicken” in west vincent

cluckThere has been a lot of discussion about “things” in West Vincent again, and once again the knee jerk reaction of someone is to post things which are tantamount to bullying at a minimum in a building that functions as a United States Post Office.

Posting harassing things to bully private citizens in a building designated a United States Post Office is like mailing the same things through the mail – it is not quite legal and that is why things like this are given to United States Postal inspectors, isn’t it?  Maybe it is past time to bump this up a notch?

west vincent harassment

So supporters, followers, politicians, township employees, whomever here is the 411: David Monteith is not and never has been “Chickenman”.  And Chickenman is not the one who started the inquiry into the problematic West Vincent Farmers Market.  Ordinary people did.  I have looked into it, does that make me Chickenman too?  Do the inconvenient facts that the Township Manager of Upper Uwchlan is following his zoning and the law make him , Cary Vargos , Chickenman?

I don’t know who Chickenman is and as an Auslander I stand a better chance of finding out than Ken Miller, Dave Brown, Claire Quinn and so on and so forth. Maybe Chickenman is Sam Cantrell and he is all organic? Maybe Ted Otteni or Gabe Pilotti is Chickenman?  What about West Vincent’s Township Manager and Township Solicitor? Are they in fact Chickenman?

I know David Monteith.  He runs a good business.  And because he stood up once upon a time in West Vincent he is harassed by supporters of “good government” as it currently stands in West Vincent.   These people stand in the shadows like vampires  afraid to be seen in daylight, don’t they?  And doesn’t this stuff oddly seem to happen to every other resident and taxpayer of West Vincent who stands up for the right things?  I figure it is only a matter of time before  John Jacobs and Maria Holderness will be targeted, right?  Maybe their residency will be challenged? How they tie their shoes? Maybe a case can be used against civilized, incorruptible, honest people some more in West Vincent?  Why does good = bad?

So are you going to attack me because I am sick of what you “good people” have been trying to do to an innocent man the past couple of years?  I get you are all working on mob mentality and like to hide in the shadows as bullies are wont to do, but sooner or later, probably sooner, you will be caught won’t you?  After all you never know where surveillance cameras lurk (other than in woods during private barbeques) do you?

The irony of this dumb as dirt thing posted today is the proposed farmers market for West Vincent is actually located in Upper Uwchlan .  So maybe Cary Vargo REALLY is Chickenman?  Hell maybe Jim Gerlach is Chickenman! Or what about that nasty Larry guy who left comments on this blog?  Is he Chickenman?

Lots of media follow this blog and eventually someone will say it is very odd the way West Vincent officials turn a seemingly blind eye while residents are bullied by government supporters.  And I bet that might include The Daily Local which some flannel mouth woman in West Vincent whose name begins with an “S” seems to think she controls, right? (I find that to be quite the accomplishment given she is neither editor, owner, nor publisher is she?)

If you people do not have the balls to come out of the shadows and man and woman up and have a conversation the right way maybe you should all just shut it?

But this bullying and harassing of private citizens who love where they live and want the best for residents IS going to stop. People get tired of it more and more every time. And the fact that May primary turned out the way it did and the fact that the placards in the United States Post Office are back says that someone or several someones are running scared and dare we say they are BIG CHICKENS?  Are they Chickenman????

Cluck, cluck, cluck.  This blog is my opinion as guaranteed by the founding fathers of this country via the First Amendment.  Guess they are Chickenmen too?

let’s talk election turkey, chester county

Politics and I have a love hate relationship. Lately it has been a supreme turn-off basically because I feel under assault from robo calls and a mind boggling display of obnoxious lawn signs (from both parties).

Seriously GOP, a robo call from Newt Gingrich at 7:15 in the morning is a bit much. This morning Arizona Jan Brewer called me.  Because you know she and I are tight BFFs, right?  I have also received robo calls from Barbara Hafer, Newt Gingrich, and no foolin’ home schoolin’ Rick Santorum. And Ann Romney – she and I have also made a date to go shopping, apparently.

If the political inundation isn’t enough from THAT side of the aisle, there are all the people who call for Obama that aren’t Obama. And then there are the Democrats’ ads.  You know like pick your congressman by their hair.  Really Manan Trivedi, that was the best you could come up with?

Here is how I feel about Jim Gerlach: I like the man and have known him for years.  I will admit I am a little disgusted the way he seems to have been sucking up to the fringe of the Republican Party and may have drunk too much tea, but I think that is more his campaign than him.  I know the good Jim Gerlach is capable of and does do every day.  He was my congressman in Lower Merion before my move to Chester County.  I am no one special and he has made much time for me and my questions over the years, so for the measure of the man, I still think he is aces.

I have met Manan Trivedi too.  He gets bonus points for being a candidate that doesn’t politick at non-profit sponsored events.  Which is more than I can say for Lower Merion ex-pat Bret Binder (but I will get to that in a moment.)

Manan Trivedi might be nice, he may have served his country admirably, but that doesn’t mean he is the right choice or equipped for public office.  He was plucked up last Obama election cycle by the Democrats to ride Obama’s coattails.  I think they figured their other election strategies hadn’t worked against Gerlach (they had pitted the whiny Lois Murphy against him, and others like Bob Roggio who used to politick at every non-profit event possible) so they picked Manan.

I think they picked Manan Trivedi basically because he represented another minority.  That type of political pandering is disgusting. He is a nice man, but he doesn’t have the chops, nor am I sure he actually lives in the district.  He is sort of like the Democrats’ answer to Rick Santorum on the whole residency thing and we all know how well that worked out at the time, don’t we?

I can’t vote for Manan Trivedi.  He is a nice guy who will just be a puppet.  There is enough of that in Washington.

But let us talk about the PA senate race for a minute, shall we?  As a woman, Tom Smith terrifies me.  Period.   Bob Casey will never light the world on fire, but I just can’t go the extreme to Tom Smith as a woman. (And I believe interestingly enough that before Tom Smith was a tea partier, he was a Democrat? Is that like confusion in politics?)  I also have a parent who collects social security and is on medicare, and I don’t believe his about-face on social security and medicare.  He can trot out aged mama in all the television ads he wants but the simple truth is his mother would never be affected by cuts to either as her son is a very wealthy man. And Tom, global warming is not a hoax.  Look at Hurricane Sandy.

Onto State Senate.  I am new to Chester County, but I like Andy Dinniman.  truthfully, I could not even tell you the name of his opponent.  Andy truly tries to work in a bi-partisan way for all the residents he serves.  I happen to respect and like that in my state senator.

However, I can’t say that I will show that love to Democrat Bret Binder.  Bret Binder is running for State Representative.  He is an ex patriot of Lower Merion Township, and to be honest, having recently moved out of Lower Merion and having lived how the Democratic majority there has made a mess out of Lower Merion even though they claimed they wouldn’t, I just can’t support someone like Binder.

And I am annoyed when he tells people he is “fully local” and is from Lower  Merion in the same breath.  Never the twain shall meet.

Hey look, as someone new to Chester County from Lower Merion I am not going to tell anyone I am “fully local”. I am not.  I am new to this area. Period.  And as someone who literally feels like they can breathe because I have escaped the horrid politics of Lower Merion I am not going to support someone born out of Lower Merion Democrats.  And that is not to say all Lower Merion Democrats are bad, but those who are in power do not even represent all the voices of Lower Merion Democrats.  Suffice it to say it is very Boss Tweedy in Lower Merion and I don’t want that again where I call home and I do not believe without the financial support of those outside the district he wants to run in, would he have made it this far.  Bret Binder’s campaign finance reports tell a tale of support from OUTSIDE Chester County. That is fine, everyone has a right to contribute how they see fit, but the thing is this: he is going to represent us, and who the heck is he?  Other than a Democrat from Lower Merion?

And what else? Oh yes, Bret Binder is currently running an ad against Dan Truitt where he laments the public school system.  People, he went to Harriton, which is a study of privilege and excess.  It’s certainly not your average public school, so I wouldn’t bet the farm on him from that angle, either.  Bret Binder also stretches and shapes the truth to fit his needs (as any good lawyer is wont to do) as far as Charter Schools getting money.   What is wrong with charter schools seeing some of the educational money available?   Does Mr. Binder have or has he had children in the public school system in West Chester?  The West Chester Area School District is haphazard and broken in my opinion (and I am allowed even if some will find that opinion irritating).

Mr. Binder should not be judged harshly if he is single and has no children in the district, don’t misunderstand me on that.  But I do know a lot of people in the West Chester Area School District who have pulled their kids out of this school district because of the problems in this district.  If you can’t afford private or parochial school, charter school is one of the few options out there.  And let me tell you this much: because of the West Chester Area School District feeling threatened by charter schools, charter schools in this area probably get about half of what they deserve.  And do not tell me that the WCASD can’t be petty about this, just ask anyone who wants their kid on a bus for any school other that West Chester Area School District Public Schools.

Mr. Binder made an appearance at the East Goshen Farmers Market which was recorded for posterity. Now the East Goshen Farmers Market is run kinda by a non-profit, right? The Friends of East Goshen? So why would Lisa O’Neill who is a member of this 501(c)(3) and one of the people who runs the farmers market be in a political ad so to speak?  Binder gets a grade of an F of politicking at a non-profit sponsored event that is SUPPOSED to be NON political and using it for campaign purposes like advertising and marketing, but wow really? One would think the farmers market folks would have known better?  That is the kind of stuff that can harm a non-profit status is it not?

Bret Binder candidate for State Rep. at East Goshen Farmers Market with Lisa O’Neill who runs the market for Friends of East Goshen Township

Now onto the presidential vote of it all.  I have to tell you that as of this minute writing this post, I am torn.  There is quite frankly so much I do not find appealing in both major candidates.

At the end of the day it may come down to the size of government, however.  While we have suffered through an economic period potentially as devastating as the Great Depression there is one sector that has had enormous job security: big government.  It keeps getting bigger and more Orwellian big brotherish.  I am not comfortable with that.

In this case, maybe change is good? Tomorrow will see.  But please, whatever you do, vote your own conscience tomorrow.  Do not vote a certain way because you were told to.  Hope, change, and forward are just words. Remember that.

I remain, as always, an opinionated inveterate ticket splitter.  I have not been compensated for any of my opinions by any candidate, nor do I donate finacially to campaigns.  I make my own decisions and am my own woman politically.  Sometimes it makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland Party of One, but seriously? I think that is the best way to be.  Politically Stepford I am not, and no matter how you vote tomorrow, that is what I encourage people to do: do not be politically Stepford.

Do not just pull one lever for one party if you have doubts about some candidates.  Mix it up.  It’s between you and your God, no one will know unless you tell them.

In my mind, the solution in American politics is simple: we need a return to balance.  Political extremism is ruining this country. So is not being able to hear the actual voice of the candidates over the din of the political party machines.

One size does not fit all in politics, either. And my last word on the subject? I wish municipalities would zone the SUPER sized political signs out of existence.  They are obnoxious.

school days: what happened to age appropriate?

I am going to wade into something some parents and people in general might take issue with, but I am going to do it, anyway. I think it is a conversation that parents everywhere need to have with educators.

I am not a prude.  I don’t believe in treating children as a collective of village idiots.  But I do believe there are topics that are age-appropriate.

A few years ago a friend told me about a program a private school was running with elementary/middle-school aged kids about being gay.  At that age, most kids have no inclination of what that means even if they have same-sex parents. Anyway, my friend told me of the confusion and upset it caused the children.  Not the parents – the kids.  At the time I wondered aloud to my friend why they did this with kids so young and naive.  Basically kids who hadn’t even had any sex ed classes, either.

Now I am asking the same question of schools preparing for mock elections: what is age appropriate and when does it cross a line and make people fear there is another political agenda? (And I will note that I have a BIG problem with educators who bring personal politics of ANY kind into a classroom – it is not right – they are supposed to teach and be apolitical, educational Switzerland. Not put forth political agendas.)

What has got me on this topic?  Things I am hearing from parents all over whose kids are getting ready for mock elections at school.  Some schools require kids to have specific homework projects on it.

I have no problem with mock elections, I participated in my first one in 7th or 8th grade (when Jimmy Carter ran and became president).

What I have a problem with are some teachers are not only asking kids to do this but include as age appropriate topics for the NOT upper levels of high school set: abortion and gay marriage. These kids are elementary and middle schoolers. Not even high schoolers.

That truly bothers me.  What life experience and complex emotional capability do 10 – 14 year olds have to discuss gay marriage and abortion?  This is a complex subject, and to me it is something to be discussed at home….when they are older, or basically when the PARENTS decide. And truthfully, I don’t think the lower end of high schoolers (9th and 10th grades) should have this shoved at them as appropriate discussion either.

I am not even sure the average middle schooler can comprehend and articulate on the topic of gun control either for that matter. I mean is it really necessary?

And let me be clear, I might be a Republican, but I am decidedly pro-choice which is why I am also a ticket splitter half the time.  And I believe that a woman should have a right to choose and it is also a personal matter.  It is not for political platforms, courts, or pulpits.

As for gay marriage. Really?  Who does it hurt? Can you see it from your window? I have friends who have kids in their kids’ classes with same-sex parents.  Everyone gets along just fine. No one feels the need to wave a flag. It just is. The kids and the parents are accepted.

I just feel that these are very complicated topics that adults can’t even discuss pleasantly for the most part.  So why do middle schoolers and elementary schoolers have to?

I just do not see it as appropriate, and I question the underlying motives of any teacher that does this and school that promotes or allows this.

There is enough to learn about the electoral process, the issues, and individual politicians without having to explain to kids who haven’t even had sex ed in a lot of cases what abortion is.  Or to give them a pre-disposition towards gay marriage.

We do need to teach our children well.  But certain topics? Best saved for another discussion…and to an extent, I feel that there are certain  conversations which should occur at home when parents decide the time is right.

Seriously, I think it is bad enough when parents dress their kids like mini-me versions of themselves and schedule them so hard they don’t really know what it is to just be a kid, but to weigh them down with topics they are not emotionally or intellectually equipped to handle?  Just not right.

politicians, election season, and blogging

Some of us blog all year round.  During election seasons, you will see candidates for public office “blog”.  To most politicians, blogs represent the devil. Yet during election season they seek to harnass the powers of citizen journalism.  It’s a love-hate relationship at best.

Only to me cutting and pasting press releases is not blogging, and is certainly not being done by the actual candidates. They probably don’t even know how to log onto their “blogs” let alone post.  Bet they would flunk a quiz on basic HTML code too.

West Chester Patch commented today on Facebook:

District 156 throw down on Patch.  Both Binder and Truitt are now blogging.  Truitt: http://patch.com/B-cxZt  Binder: http://patch.com/B-cxVF

Eternally curious with a few minutes to kill I went to take a peek.

Truitt Campaign: Posted on October 3, 2012 at 10:50 am

TRUITT ENDORSED BY CHESTER COUNTY

FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, LODGE 11

WEST CHESTER – State Representative Dan Truitt (R-156) today announced that he has received a letter of endorsement from the Chester County Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 11 in his bid for re-election.

Bret Binder (D) Applauds Commonwealth Court Ruling, Expresses Caution About Law’s Implementation Going Forward

EAST BRADFORD TOWNSHIP, PA –

Bret Binder reacted on Tuesday to the Commonwealth Court’s decision to prevent Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law from taking full effect.

“While I agree with Judge Simpson’s decision and it is indeed a victory for Pennsylvania voters, it does not change the fact that this law is a poorly designed attempt to disenfranchise a large portion of the electorate. Dan Truitt’s Republican friends in Harrisburg have made that very clear.”

Jumping Jehosaphats people!  That is NOT blogging in either case.  There is no first person recounting or any personal opinion whatsoever. Wow. I feel like I stepped into the fictional campaigns in the series “Boss” .

These are merely press releases written by other people .  If the candidates are going to blog, then really blog.  The campaigns of BOTH candidates are insulting the intellegence of Chester County voters.

And regarding the Presidential “debates”?  I am voting them a skip it.  They are completely scripted and they might as well have talking robots on stage tonight.

I respect candidates who can speak for themselves.  Let’s hope some of them learn to do that before election day.

Peace out.