JANUARY: From the halls of Montezuma to the Jennersville Y

January, as always, brings a new crop of folks to the Y, eager to fulfill their New Year's fitness resolutions. We had a newcomer in our 30-minute indoor cycling class the other day, a middle-aged gentleman who wore a bandana around his head and a red Marine Corps T-shirt. After class we made a fuss over him, as we do for all first-timers. One person asked if he'd worn the T-shirt on purpose.

Yes, he admitted with a laugh; he thought it would motivate him and remind him not to let down the Corps.

KATS: "Very talented people!"

As always, we had a great time at this year's pantomime, "Snow White and the Magic Mirror."

The madcap plot focused on a power struggle between the haughty Queen Turmeric (Beth Holladay), with her toadie Lord Mendicant (Kris Gibbons), and the equally vile Queen Bergamot (Lisa Teixeira) that involved the up-and-coming Princess Bianca (Clare Flanigan and Becky Galante); her governess Dame Flora (Kevin Sheridan, gloriously over-the-top in traditional and outlandish drag); Prince Valiant (Alec Salameda and Karen Belgam); Squire George (Stephen Ashby); Digby the Gardener (Kevin Pizzini); a posse of dwarves who doubled as the Greek chorus; Goldilocks (Kaitlyn Diehl) and the Three Bears (Elea Feit, Michelle Opalesky, and Annie Belgam). The show's title comes from the mirror created by a wizard (Nancy Goyda) that always tells the truth. It was voiced by Chase Gibbons, who did a flawless job in his first speaking role with KATS.

The song by the Dragon Ensemble (Weston and Zula Ali-Calabrese; their mother Becca Calabrese, and Becca's sister Guenevere Calabrese-Finley) was a show-stopper. The children's chorus was adorable; they played minions, a fire brigade, and baby dragons.

The show was the 19th annual pantomime in the British Tradition presented by the Kennett Amateur Theatrical Society. Gary Smith, one of the KATS founders, wrote the show and the songs, and his wife, Caroline Smith, was the director. The tuxedo-clad Gary was handing out programs at the door, and Caroline opened the show wearing a stunning liquid-silver gown.

Some friends of ours who are recent transplants from Manhattan attended the Panto for the first time and were impressed: "It was great! Very talented people!"

The show was held as scheduled on Friday evening, Jan. 17, at Kennett High School, but then the Saturday shows had to be postponed until Sunday due to the snow. Parking was at a premium on Sunday because there was also a wrestling tournament being held at the school. We nabbed the very last spot in the little parking lot across South Street and then hustled up the steep hill to the auditorium.

RIVER MUSEUM: David Ferron's first collection

Unionville fashion designer David Ferron has announced the date for his debut runway show: Saturday, March 28, at the Brandywine River Museum.

David, a Unionville native, writes, "The collection will showcase the strength and beauty of local women who have inspired artists for generations. This will be the first event of its kind at the museum and will include a runway show, cocktail reception, and open special exhibitions."

The fashion show begins at 5:45 p.m. Tickets start at $45 and are available through David's website, www.davidferron.com. David's shop is David Ferron at Unionville Saddle, 1712 West Doe Run Road.

RAINBOW BRIDGE: Saying goodbye to our furry friends

It's been a grim few weeks for our fur children.

Our sweet cat Clarence died of old age on the morning of Jan. 2. He was already a senior cat when we adopted him from the SPCA in West Chester, and we were blessed to spend three years with him. He was a dear, laid-back fellow. After his harrowing weeks of being a stray, he was just happy to have a warm place to live, plenty of food to eat and people to love him. We buried him in a dignified little ceremony with his favorite food and the blanket I knitted for him.

(Tina has quickly adjusted to being the only cat, although she misses filching Clarence's food.)

Since then, we know of two families who have lost their pets. One was a 21-year-old former barn cat the owners have had since she was six weeks old. They told me that for the past five years, they hadn't expected her to live through the winter.

The other beloved pet who's no longer with us was a neighbor's ever-vigilant border collie who faithfully protected her humans. She spent her long life barking and trying to herd passing horses, bicyclists, joggers, deer and any hapless delivery people who came up the driveway.

We do love our pets, and it certainly hurts when they leave us.

KENNETT SQUARE: A new sushi venue

What a good sport Dearest Partner is! Though not a sushi fan, he agreed to try Roll'Eat Sushi, the newest restaurant in the food court at the Market at Liberty Place in downtown Kennett. On Wednesday evening their "special rolls" are half-price, so we ordered two of them (a cooked one for him, a raw one for me), as well as a seaweed salad. They warned us that the sushi chef was so busy that there would be a half-hour wait -- which was fine with us.

We took our Japanese Ramune sodas to a table and between the two of us figured out how to open them. First you peel off the tight plastic wrapper around the cap (which required some assistance from a car key). Then you remove the cap and break off a little plastic plunger, which you use to dislodge the clear glass marble that seals the bottle. The marble drops down into the soda and makes it fizz. It's pretty cool.

When they arrived, the rolls were very attractive and came with packets of soy sauce and the customary fiery wasabi and fresh ginger on the side. I loved my Sunset roll (tempura shrimp, cucumber, avocado, salmon, scallions) and the D.P. allowed that his Firebird roll (tempura shrimp, avocado, salmon, cream cheese) "wasn't bad" and was agreeably spicy.

Tae Gum Lee is the owner/chef of Roll'Eat. Their menu is online at rolleatsushi.com.

COMMUNICATION: A demanding boss

For most of my working life, I've been a freelance copy editor. I enjoy the work and I love the freedom to set my own schedule. But sometimes there are irritations.

Early on January 14, I received an e-mail from my boss on a textbook project: "Please let me know when may I expect the second batch of copyedited files."

I scrambled and sent the requested batch of files by lunchtime.

Forty-five minutes later, I received this email: "Thank you for your email. I will respond when I return on 16th January."

On January 16, this appeared in my in-box: "Can I expect the next batch of copyedited files on 20th Jan?"

"Have a great weekend," she added, with no apparent irony.

A self-employed friend said he sometimes imposes what he calls a "stupid tax: when you do or request stupid stuff, it costs extra."

Unfortunately, I'd already agreed to a fee for this textbook.

GIANT: A red-letter day in the self-service line

My self-service register at the Kennett Giant was cooperating wonderfully: it accepted the odd grocery bags I bring, all my fruits and vegetables registered correctly, and it didn't falsely accuse me of failing to bag any items. No unwanted "Help is on the way" screen appeared.

"Wow!" I said to the clerk. "It's working great today!"

"Don't say that," she mock-scolded me.

Miracle of miracles, my credit card went through perfectly on the first try. I shared the good news with the clerk.

"OK, now you've really jinxed us!" she said.

COOKIES: Thinking outside the box

Once again, it's Girl Scout Cookie season. In this family, it seems, we are never safe. Just as one former Girl Scout has headed off to college, she is being replaced by another, a kindergartner who has just joined Daisy Scouts. The adorable five-year-old has already perfected her sales pitch and made a video. Why should people buy cookies from her? "They are delicious and my troop can do fun things." What will she learn from selling cookies? "I will learn how to count money and talk to customers and how to keep organized." I defy anyone to refuse her.

When I was a Scout in the 1960s, we walked door to door through our neighborhoods peddling cookies and had our parents (mostly our fathers in those days) take them into work. Nowadays you can order your Thin Mints online and have them delivered. What a world!

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