Cheshire Point-to-Point Races

The new course for the Cheshire Point-to-Point Races on March 31.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Labs on the loose

My neighbors had a stressful day on Friday: their two Labs, one yellow, one chocolate, ran off at 8 a.m., possibly in pursuit of the large herd of deer in the neighborhood. When they didn't return, the anxious owners put out the word and started scouring the area.

At about 2 p.m., just a stone's throw away from their farm, one of the owners saw a Good Samaritan trying to round up the two escapees, who were exhausted and covered with swamp mud.

The dogs are fine but stiff, one of the owners told me the next morning -- which explains why he was walking by himself instead of with his usual companions. He said "relieved" is an understatement for how he and his wife feel.

PANTO: Just des(s)erts

It was so satisfying to see the Dame of Pikes (Lisa Teixeira) and her toady, Lord Jabbers (Kris Gibbons), get their comeuppance at the end of "Alice and the Stolen Tarts," the 18th annual pantomime by the Kennett Amateur Theatrical Society.

By trickery, the oily Jabbers managed to steal the powerful tarts, enabling the greedy Duchess to turn Wonderland into a grim, colorless theme park for tourists. In the end, though, the tarts were returned to Wonderland and good triumphed. The once-haughty Queen was demoted to an apron-clad servant, and Jabbers grovelled and begged to be beheaded after learning he would be sentenced to work at the Kennett Inn.

The show was a delight, as always. Lisa Teixeira was hilariously over-the-top in her gleeful wickedness. Alice (Jules Weiler) and her maid Mary Ann (Kaitlyn Diehl) were delightfully spunky. We laughed at the spaced-out drawl of the hookah-smoking Caterpillar (Katherine Casey). The Cheshire Cat (Beth Holladay)'s languorous stretching and laser-light chasing reminded me of my own cat at home. Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Tessa and Gillian Haldeman) were hilarious, pummeling each other with bats at random moments. The children's chorus -- this year they were baby pigs -- was adorable.

In accord with Panto traditions, we sang the Silly Song, booed and hissed at the villains, greeted the Queen of Hearts (Steven Ashby) and Jacko (Holly Gouge) whenever they appeared and called out "Behind you!" at appropriate moments.

We were sitting close enough that we could watch music director Brenten Megee conducting from the piano, swiping from song to song on his digital score.

OBITS: Fascinating lives

It's a little morbid, maybe, but I love reading obituaries. I think they represent one of the most fascinating parts of the newspaper. Where else can you read about a woman who outlived four husbands (she lived to be 95), or find out that an acquaintance had several important patents to his credit?

One woman's obit that I read recently was especially poignant: after her husband went missing in action during World War II, she wed his best Army buddy -- and they were married for the next 60-some years.

As a reporter, at first I dreaded making what felt like intrusive calls to bereaved families to gather obit information, but you'd be surprised: in most cases they actually appreciated the chance to share their loved one's life.

NEW GARDEN: Meeting Rep. Sappey

On Jan. 24 our new state representative, Christina Sappey, hosted a timely lecture about bridging the divisions between people that seem to plague our polarized society.

The speaker, school psychologist Dr. Kirby L. Wycoff, Psy.D., talked about how our brain's instinctive fight-or-flight response to perceived danger gets in the way of reasoned discourse. She said it's important to ask questions and truly listen to the other person's point of view without focusing on what our snappy comeback is going to be and to try to find some common ground no matter how divergent our opinions seem to be. All of which is not, she acknowledged, an easy process. (You can watch the talk on Rep. Sappey's Facebook page.)

Rep. Sappey told the audience at the New Garden township building that she will soon be opening her district office next to Sovanna Bistro at the intersection of Routes 82 and 926. The wide-ranging 158th district comprises Avondale, East Bradford, East Marlborough, London Britain, New Garden, Newlin, West Bradford, West Marlborough and parts of West Goshen.

Rep. Sappey, a Democrat, ousted former Rep. Eric Roe, a Republican, in the November election, by a 53% to 47% margin. The seat was held from 1997 to 2016 by Republican Chris Ross, and before that by Republican Joseph Pitts (from 1973 to 1996).

PENNSYLVANIA: Penn biography

Readers interested in Colonial history might enjoy getting a copy of "William Penn: A Life" by Rutgers University professor Andrew Murphy, just released by the Oxford University Press. The Chester County Library System has two copies you can check out.

I had the pleasure of copy-editing the manuscript last February and learned a lot about not only Penn as a human, a devout Quaker and an administrator but also the history of our area and Quakerism.

The Wall Street Journal reviewer called the book "admirable" but noted that Murphy "has not quite managed to transform that life in to a page-turner." It is a scholarly book with a lot of footnotes and details, including Penn's lifelong financial problems, but the fact that the subject is close to us certainly adds a great deal of interest.

UNIONVILLE: The Cheshire Races

The 73rd running of the Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds Point-to-Point Meeting will be Sunday, March 31, at Cuyler Walker's Plantation Field in Unionville. Dixon Stroud has designed a new course that will allow spectators standing at the top of the hill to see all 14 fences.

Eight races are on the card: three pony races, followed by the Mrs. E. Miles Valentine Memorial side-saddle race, the amateur apprentice rider timber race, the Joseph Walker III Memorial Cheshire Bowl, and finally the Jill Fanning Memorial flat race. Post time for the first race is 11:30 a.m.

KENNETT SQUARE: House & Garden Day

The date for this year's Bayard Taylor Home and Garden Day has been set: Saturday, June 1. This year's tour, organized by the Kennett Library's Special Events Committee, will focus on houses and gardens within the borough of Kennett Square.

Every year the ladies on the committee ask me to write the house descriptions for the program, so I get a sneak preview. I've been to two of the properties so far, and I can tell you this: it's going to be a really special and "walkable" tour this year. Tickets will be available from the library closer to the date, but you will want to put this on your calendar.

BUDGETS: Wealth management

A friend mentioned that she and her husband had sold their condo at the Jersey shore.

"Oh no!" I said. "You loved that place!"

Yes, she agreed with a sigh; but it was a little matter of looming college tuitions for their two sons.

"Cash flow," she lamented. "There's no escaping it."

Write to Tilda at Thanks!

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