Tough Mudder

Some of the equipment used to build last spring's Tough Mudder course at Plantation Field.

TOUGH MUDDER: A financial obstacle for the endurance race

For the past several years, the "extreme" endurance race called the Tough Mudder has been held at Unionville's Plantation Field, with filthy but grinning squads of athletes clambering over intimidating obstacles and slogging through mud pits.

But this year the status of the race is in question. Tough Mudder was forced into bankruptcy in January by its creditors, who say the company owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars for constructing the obstacle courses around the country.

Tough Mudder's rival, the Boston-based Spartan Race Inc., has bought Tough Mudder's British operations and will continue to run events there, but a sale on this side of the pond is still working its way through bankruptcy court proceedings in Wilmington.

Tough Mudder's website still shows an event scheduled for Plantation Field on May 16, but registrations are not being taken. In a Feb. 11 article, The Wall Street Journal quotes bankruptcy trustee Derek Abbott as saying that "the events scheduled for the first three quarters of 2020 are no longer salvageable."

WINTER: Will we get any snow?

Everyone is wondering whether we're ever going to get any snow this winter. Goodness knows we've had plenty of rain and many subfreezing days; they just haven't coincided, much to the relief of our hard-working local road crews.

At the Y the other day our fitness teacher was reading aloud the weekly announcements, as instructors are supposed to do before class. When she got to the part about the Y's snow-closing policy, ears perked up.

"What? Is it going to snow!?" asked one student, immediately alarmed.

In contrast, another friend says she wishes all this rain were snow.

"But you're from sunny California!" I said.

"Yep, that's why," she replied.

On a recent warm, windy afternoon I got outside to do a bit of yard cleanup and was happy to see the daffodils, crocuses, grape hyacinths, anise hyssop and motherwort poking their heads up. The hellebores are unfurling their leaves but I haven't spotted any pink blooms yet -- a friend only a few miles away reports that hers have been flowering for a few weeks already.

A mysterious muddy trench has undermined the black plastic garden edging in one part of my perennial garden; I'm not sure if it was caused by heavy rainfall or a critter, but I'll need to fill it in.

For once I remembered to save the little plant ID sticks to remind me of what did so well last year around the lamppost: dragon wing begonias (pink and red) and "Flame Thrower" coleus (spiced curry).

PRIMARIES: Getting petitions filed

I was much in demand on Wednesday evening -- at least, my signature was. I'm known as a "supervoter" -- someone who faithfully shows up at the polls twice a year -- and was asked to attend a petition-signing party on behalf of the candidates from my political party who want to be listed on the April 28 primary ballot.

So I stopped by as requested. I shook a lot of hands, listened to political chitchat, and signed the petitions of candidates I supported. Deadlines for filing were approaching, so four petition-signing parties were being held that evening around the county.

I had to turn down the really nice-looking spread of food, though, because I was en route to dinner (salmon over bok choy at Sake Hana in Avondale!).

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Hungry birds

I headed down to Wild Birds Unlimited in Hockessin to stock up on bird seed and suet and learned that my timing was excellent: owner Charles Shattuck informed me they're having a sale on bagged seed, suet, mealworms, bark butter and seed cylinders through February 29.

After a slow start, my backyard birdfeeders have been busy. The woodpeckers can go through a suet cake within a few days. I bought two bags of seed and a case of "Naturally Nuts" suet, which should hold them for a while.

Charles also told me that his store has started a new program: they're working with Eco-Plastic Products to recycle the plastic birdseed bags and turn them into park benches. Jim Kelley, a representative from the small Wilmington nonprofit, will be discussing the "Bags to Benches" project on Saturday, February 22, at 9 a.m. at the Wild Birds store.

UHS: A Sondheim musical

This spring's musical at UHS, "Into the Woods," will be presented in the high school auditorium at 7 p.m. March 19, 20, and 21. Nicole Norton is the director (she also directed last year's spring musical, "Little Shop of Horrors"). Music and lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim and the book is by James Lapine. On March 20 there will be a 2 p.m. performance by the understudies.

Tickets go on sale February 23 at www.showtix4u.com. Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 adults and $12 students/seniors at the door; and $5 for the matinee.

Unionville's musicals are so good that often, after attending a professional production, we'll comment, "The Unionville kids would have done a better job."

COUNTRY LIFE: Feeding the critters

I was en route to the Jennersville Y the other afternoon when a small car with a hay bale on the roof turned off Route 926 onto Hood Road, near the SECCRA landfill. Predictably, the unsecured bale fell off onto the road. I pulled over, as did the hay-hauling car. I picked up the bale and carried it up to the car, which was battered and so full of bales that the hatchback barely closed.

The elderly, weather-beaten passenger got out, thanked me and asked me to put the bale next to the car rather than replacing it on the roof. She said she didn't want my legs to get scratched up (I was wearing a gym skirt).

I hope they didn't have to go around many more corners to get to their farm.

When I shared this story with Dearest Partner, his comment was "You certainly see some odd things." He reminded me of the time a few months ago when I drove past a cow peacefully grazing in a cemetery.

COOKIES: A busy family in a big house

Most of my friends no longer have little ones at home, so I'm not often exposed to the life of young parents. This past Saturday we tried to set up a time to pick up our Girl Scout cookie order (!!!) from the East Marlborough home of a two-career couple with two grade-school kids.

To say the family is busy is an understatement. In the morning there were karate lessons for the son, dance lessons for the daughter. In the afternoon the daughter was attending a friend's birthday party, and these days birthday parties are not the simple, in-home events they were when I was growing up.

Anyhow, via a series of texts, we managed to find a mutually agreeable time. When we got there, the son was immersed in the latest "Dog Man" book, and the dad offered to show us around the family's massive new house. We were amazed to see that each kid has his or her own full en-suite bath. There's an unfinished basement that's the size of the entire house. I've never lived in a 21st-century house, so the modern plumbing system, called a PEX manifold system, was new to me. The manifold in the basement, the dad explained, acts as a central distribution point, with the hot water (red pipes) and cold water (blue pipes) branching off it and running through the house.

If you don't know a Scout and have a hankering for Thin Mints, Trefoil shortbreads, peanut butter sandwich cookies, or the newer treats, I've seen girls selling cookies outside the Kennett Walmart on weekends. They'd be happy to take your money.

Our friend said her favorites this year are the lemon cookies, which come in a package of 12. She ate 10 and, not wanting to acknowledge that she ate an entire box, left the remaining two for her husband.

ST. PAT'S: Irish tenor returns

Irish tenor Mark Forrest is returning to St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Kennett Square for "Come Walk With Me," described as "an evening of music, reflection, and healing." All are welcome, no registration is needed, and there is no admission fee. The even will be held on Friday, March 6, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mr. Forrest performed at St. Patrick's in December 2018 to kick off the church's 150th anniversary celebration.

WILMINGTON: International photo show

A member of the Delaware Photographic Society asked if I could mention that her camera club is hosting the 87th Wilmington International Exhibition of Photography from Sunday, March 15, to Sunday, March 22. The exhibition will be held at Arsht Hall at the University of Delaware's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (off Route 52 across from the Tower Hill School). Hours are noon to 5 p.m. March 15; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 16 through 20; and noon to 4 p.m. March 22. Special audiovisual shows will be held at 1, 2, and 3 p.m. March 15 and 22. Admission is free. More information is available at wilmingtoninternational.org.

Write to Tilda at uvilleblogger@gmail.com. Thanks!
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