UNIONVILLE: Hearing things

Like many others, a Unionville friend lost her electric power in the intense storm that blew through on July 2. Her gasoline-powered generator produces only enough juice to run the well pump for the animals, leaving her unable to shower, brew coffee or charge her phone. To add to her problems, her Verizon-powered internet was out. She felt unclean, undercaffeinated and unconnected with the world.

Then, while sitting at her kitchen desk, she heard a mysterious, barely audible mumbling but couldn't decipher the words.

"Oh, great!" she thought. "Now I'm hearing spirit voices."

She pulled herself together, looked around -- and realized the sounds were coming from her husband's radio headphones. He hadn't turned them off after mowing the night before.

EAST MARLBOROUGH: Awesome fireworks

Regular readers know that we watch the Longwood fireworks for free from the parking lot of the Shoppes at Longwood Village on Route 1, and the practice seems to be catching on: I've never seen the parking lot as full as it was on Wednesday, July 3. Even the Young Relative and his UHS friends showed up (so you just know it was the happening place to be). I'm told that the neighboring Walmart parking lot was also jammed with spectators.

A couple I know have found what they consider a perfect spot to view the fireworks but, casting a certain chill on our friendship, they steadfastly refuse to share the location.

The half-hour display was terrific, as always. My brother and I were intrigued by the ferning, branching fireworks and, per usual, are suckers for the super-loud ones.

Now, if only the shopping center management would kill the bright parking-lot lights during the fireworks, we'd be very grateful and our photos would be much improved.

QUAKERS: Summer schedule

As usual, several of the "laid-down" (usually closed) Quaker meetinghouses in the Western Quarter will be open to visitors for worship this summer. It's a great opportunity to see some old buildings where generations of people have worshipped, leaving a distinctly spiritual atmosphere. All are welcome.

Here is the schedule:

-- Pennsgrove (725 Pennsgrove Rd., West Grove): 10 a.m. July 28 and August 25

-- Old Kennett (Route 1 at Kendal at Longwood, across from the Hamorton Woods neighborhood): 9 a.m. July 28 and August 25

-- Homeville (4904 Homeville Rd., Cochranville): 2 p.m. August 25

-- Parkersville (1232 Parkersville Rd., Kennett Square): 2 p.m. Sept. 8

-- Colora (22 Corn Cake Row, Colora, MD): 2 p.m. Sept. 15.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: A new neighbor

Saturday evening, between the ominous flash-flood warnings, we took a stroll down the road and saw an oncoming bicyclist. He stopped and introduced himself and said he had recently moved here from Philadelphia.

"I'm still in shock," he said, about how beautiful his new surroundings are. A retired park ranger in Maryland, he explained that he enjoys observing nature and is thrilled to see all the types of birds that live here. As far as the bicycling goes, he is trying to follow his doctor's advice to drop a few pounds and intends to pedal a little farther up the steep hill each day.

BANKS: Citadel opens

The Kennett branch of Citadel Bank is having its "grand opening" July 12 and 13, but it actually opened last week. It's "tellerless," meaning that souped-up ATMs do most of the work that tellers used to do, including counting stacks of cash. Employees are still on duty, of course, to handle the nonroutine tasks.

We stopped in on Saturday, June 29. to check the place out and lots of other customers were doing the same thing. The ATMs were busy and all the employee had people sitting at their desks. The fellow who was tasked with welcoming people and explaining the system was so busy that he (unnecessarily) apologized to us several times for not being more attentive.

The new bank -- it has a distinctive seamed sloping rust-colored roof -- is on Route 1 west of Bayard Road, where the Burger King used to be.

MUSIC: What a wonderful world

While cleaning under the sofa I found a dusty $15 iTunes gift card and thought I'd better redeem it soon, considering Apple plans to change the way its music download store operates. Little did I know that doing so would take a full Saturday morning in front of the computer. First I had to download the iTunes app on my PC and my phone. Then I had to obtain an Apple ID, figure out (mostly by trial and error) how to download songs to my PC, and then finally to transfer all the music onto my Android phone. Finding an app to actually play the music was another struggle.

All the while I was painfully conscious that this would take the Young Relative literally seconds, with a few mouse clicks and much eye-rolling at the sad ignorance of people born pre-Internet.

The easy and fun part of the process was finding great music to purchase: iTunes has everything. I remember spending months in the 1990s searching obscure record shops for a jazz album by John Coltrane and Duke Ellington that contained the sublime "In a Sentimental Mood" -- and now I can listen to it while running errands.

The $15 was spent in no time, at $1.29 a song (well, OK, 99 cents for some less popular items like my guilty pleasure "Who Do You Think You Are" by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods). Among my other first-day downloads were current rap/country hit "Old Town Road" (misconstrued lyric: "Take my horse to the hotel room"); Bob Marley's live version of "No Woman, No Cry," Ella Fitzgerald's magnificent "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" (which is playing as I'm typing; heavenly) and Luciano Pavarotti singing "Nessun Dorma."

Prediction: iTunes will be a regular line item on my credit card statement from now on.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Tax increases?

Do West Marlborough residents consider themselves to be part of the Kennett Library's service area, and if so would they pay to fund construction of the long-discussed new library building?

That question will be placed on the November ballot in West Marlborough, the supervisors decided at their July 2 meeting.

The matter arose because library board president Tom Swett emailed all the municipalities in the library's service area asking them to help fund construction of the proposed $10 million building, possibly by enacting an 0.3-mill real-estate tax for three years. Supervisor Bill Wylie noted that the suggested number would represent "a 17 percent increase" in the township's real-estate tax.

In other business, the supervisors said that at their August 6 meeting they plan to discuss the findings of the township's emergency medical services task force, which has spent months gathering data about how West Marlborough should fund local fire and ambulance companies.

Supervisor Jake Chalfin noted it was unfortunate that two matters that might require tax increases -- EMS services and library construction -- have arisen almost simultaneously.

Also at the board meeting, which took place during a torrential thunderstorm, the supervisors appointed Josh Taylor as a member of the zoning hearing board to replace Elizabeth "Baz" Powell, who died in January. Josh is a former township supervisor.

WEST MARLBOROUGH: Traffic calming

Roads and traffic problems have become a standard part of the agenda at West Marlborough township meetings.

At the July meeting, Supervisor Bill Wylie said he spoke with a local PennDOT representative about reducing the level of maintenance on some state roads in the township in an attempt to deter motorists from using them as through-roads. He said his sense is that township residents would prefer rougher roads without lines painted on them, even though "outsiders" and bicyclists might not. Mr. Wylie said he was unsure what the result of that conversation would be, if any.

Supervisor Jake Chalfin discussed the tradeoffs that would be involved if PennDOT improved the "compromised" bridge on Route 82 at Rokeby Mill. Currently heavy tri-axle trucks aren't allowed to use the bridge and have to take a roundabout detour through narrow West Marlborough roads. But if the bridge is fixed, Mr. Chalfin said, "it'll pop up on truckers' routes as options … and it'll double truck traffic on 82."

Supervisor and township roadmaster Hugh Lofting Sr. said the township will be getting estimates to fix a pipe under Spencer Road that is caving in and causing drainage problems. Funding is expected to come from the state. Mr. Lofting said the project might also involve draining a stagnant pond and turning it into a wetland.

EAST NOTTINGHAM: A memorable morning

I wrote a weekly police blotter column for a newspaper for years and I miss it when I come across items like this one from East Nottingham Township.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police at Avondale, early on June 22 a man crashed his car into an embankment and police suspected him of driving under the influence. While he was being processed at the station, a trooper gave the man's border collie, Angus, a ride home. Nobody answered the door of his house, so the trooper knocked on the door of the camper parked in the driveway, with its lights on at 3 in the morning. It was then the trooper noticed "several mature marijuana plants growing inside."

When Angus's owner returned home from his DUI arrest, he thanked the trooper for returning his dog. "The owner, however, was not so thankful that his small grow operation had been discovered."

LIBRARY: A busy spot

I stopped in at the Avon Grove Library this afternoon to check out some hammock reading (the Young Relative's "Naked Economics" doesn't qualify) and found that the place was a hotbed of not only summer reading programs but also math tutoring.

At one table an instructor was sitting across from his student teaching him how to plot algebraic functions: "OK, this is a really nice function, but they're not all going to be so neat," he said, pointing to a graph and asking the youth to identify the asymptote.

Another teacher, working with a younger pupil, was discussing the principles of rounding in the tenths and hundredths columns: "Here's how you can remember it," she told him. "Five and up, give it a shove. Four and below, let it go."

And a third tutor was using old-fashioned but still effective flashcards to teach the times tables.

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