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The Daily Local News

Jan 7

Movie Star

This was the first Christmas without our oldest friend, Marion (aka Marnee) Stevenson, who died much too young at 56, and suffered much throughout her life.  After a 2-yr. struggle with pancreatic cancer and a decades-long struggle with  bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, she left this world in August. Marnee was a brave soul and warrior, particularly for the mental health community.   She fought tooth and nail for more funding and recognition for mental disabilities, and for them to be acknowledged equally with diseases of the rest of the body. She had been a professional dancer, journalist for the Daily Local News, photographer, actor, cook, chauffeur, gardener, and lobbyist—a unique entrepreneur like us—which is why we were such longtime friends, empathetic and mutually supportive of each others struggles.  She attended almost all the gigs from when we performed in a band all over the region, as well as art openings, parties, you name it.  And she was famous for her dancing at our shows (sometimes she was the only one ha ha).

We three celebrated all major holidays and birthdays, but never on the official date, so much like  the way our lives functioned and it was our inside joke and we’d laugh about it.   So this Christmas, Deb was wrapping gifts, and for the first time there was no “Marnee bag” for her after so many years.  We both shed some tears over this reality.  One night a few weeks ago we’re channel surfing and come upon what looks to be a good movie, with Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges.  It was called “The Fisher King,” and  something kept nagging at us about the significance of the movie, but what??  It was an empathetic story about homelessness in NYC during the 1980s, and how it could happen to anyone.  Williams, as the lead “king” of the waterfront homeless community, was as usual excellent.  And Bridges had to really stretch himself beyond his usual “dude” persona.   Then partway through the plot,William’s character has an hallucination in Penn Station and suddenly the indifferent commuter hordes morph into dozens of beautifully waltzing couples swirling around him to gorgeous music.  And then it hits us simultaneously—that’s the movie Marnee was in!!  And 2 seconds later, a young and gorgeous Marnee waltzes by with her thick curly dark hair, more than once.  We were in shock.  

The significance of this movie for her goes beyond her appearing in it because it was  during filming that something happened.  She lost her keys.  Anyone who knew Marnee knew about her key collections.  Hundreds of them attached to her pocketbook.  They were her security blanket and obviously a diary of her life and struggles.  And if asked, she could tell a story about each of them.  So when Deb got a very confused and upset call from her up in New York, saying over and over that she’d lost her keys, something bad was up.  It was the beginning of her breakdown. So this film represented the before and after Marnee.  And so we were overwhelmed with smiles and sadness watching the rest, and the odd or not so odd thing was that some of the characters mirrored her journeys.  The next morning watching the movie, still in a sort of deja vu state, we receive a heartfelt letter from her parents (the 1st in many years) about her passing and her possessions, expressing gratitude to us as her longtime friends.  The coincidence was just eerie.

At her memorial service last summer at which we both witnessed about our friend, the woman who gave her eulogy mentioned the movie and how important and exciting  it had been to Marnee, especially that her part hadn’t been left on the cutting room floor.  Deb remembers her talking about that the fiiming and how she had to travel several times up to Manhattan and spend the night, hoping for her big break.  And being exhausted after getting back early the next morning in time for her other jobs. And thinking that her place in the scene had been cut.

So the world goes on without another spirit and fighter for justice and we all have to take up the slack.  If only she’d lived to know that Obamacare was going to cover the mental health issues for which she and her parents Marion and Bob had fought so long.   


Comments
Dec 16

Was the JFK Killing a Coup?

image     Did Oswald kill JFK?  Was he part of a broader conspiracy?  Or was he just a patsy, per his last recorded statement  just before he was shot?

On the 50th anniversary of the assassination last month, I was reading a front page account in The Philadelphia Inquirer.  Near the end of the article, the name of helicopter engineer/inventor Arthur Young came up along with a reference to his stepson’s (Michael Paine’s) wife, Ruth Paine.  Bells and whistles rang in my head and I got a knot in my stomach.  6 degrees of separation!  I never thought I or my family had any even remote connection to Oswald.  And on 11/22/63, we did not.

Who is Arthur Young?  In the  1980s, he, along with my  father and John Haas (of Rohm and Haas chemical company) were partners in founding The International Peace Academy, which was supposed to work behind the scene to end the Cold War.  Arthur Young lived in Downingtown with his wife Ruth Forbes Young when they weren’t at their other home in Berkeley, CA.  Young invented the Bell helicopter, which became the drone of that time for asymmetrical warfare:  A prime machine for moving troops, for surveillance, for killing from the sky, and for evacuating wounded soldiers.  I never met the man, but according to my father, by the ’80s Young was bereft at how his invention had been appropriated to cause so much destruction particularly during the Vietnam War.  Even though a loyal and conservative Republican, my father was against that war, and supported me from when I got drafted , then shafted, before he died.  So his heart and soul were in this project.

So seeing that reference in the paper, Deb and I looked up Ruth Paine, She was separated from her husband and had moved to Dallas, not a big hotbed of Quakerism in the early ’60s.  For some unknown reason or connection, Ruth invited Marina Oswald to move from New Orleans  to live with her and  teach her Russian, which Ruth was already fluent in. It turns out she was a CIA agent, as was her husband, who worked at Bell Helicopter at that time.  Several weeks before the assassination, Lee Oswald shows up in Dallas from New Orleans, jobless. Ruth secures a job for him at the Texas School Book Depository.  Even though Lee was offered a better job that Ruth got the call about, she never told him about it, and encouraged him into the TSBD job instead.  On Nov. 21, ‘63, he shows up at Ruth’s home and spends the night there with Marina, and leaves the next morning for his job.  Curiously, all of the Oswald’s possessions were stored in Ruth’s garage and coincidentally, the Fair Play For Cuba branch office was located in the house just behind Ruth’s.  And Lee had been the only member New Orleans branch (the infamous picture of him on the sidewalk handing out pamphlets).  Immediately after the killing, a Dallas patrol car parked in front of Ruth’s house, sat there for a moment, beeped its horn and left, not bothering to search the house.  Lee showed up a short time later, and then left.  

There are too many connections and holes in the official story to elaborate on here.  I suggest looking up Ruth Paine, Michael Paine, and both Oswalds and following the links.  The Paines were instruments of a vast group of officials in the military industrial complex who could not stand Kennedy because he refused to nuke Cuba or the USSR.  His Joint Chiefs were full of right wing crazies, one of whom stated that in a nuclear war, “the we win if we have two people left standing and the Soviets have one.”   Also, an article by Robert Kennedy Jr. in Rolling Stone mag last month confirming much of this from the inside via his father before he was murdered. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/john-f-kennedys-vision-of-peace-20131120  

I was in 10th grade and very politically astute and well read, and involved in politics with access to news magazines, 3 newspapers and of course the TV,  Even then I saw so many holes in the official explanation, including the killing of the only supposed witness , Oswald, to the crime. ( how convenient). which I saw on live on TV.  Since then there have been so many facts and disturbing connections with the CIA, the Hoover FBI, right wing politicians, Texas oil leaders, the  military, and the Mob to confirm our lack of knowledge about this essential part of our history.  Plus, it was an open secret that these oil people and other haters in the South wanted Northern Liberal president dead.

Ted Layton, John Haas, and  Arthur Young are all no longer with us. I knew the deep conscience of my father for peace and justice in this world, which he fought his whole life for.  I never met Haas or Young and I never knew how my father met them.  The only connection I had with Young is that I attended one of the annual outdoor music festivals on their property, staged in the ’80s by Bruce Lauer, who rented a cabin on their property. So if Arthur Young did a major turnaround for peace, it’s very odd that he never mentioned this connection with his stepson and his wife, since this would be essential to clear one’s conscience,  So I don’t know  if the International Peace Academy was a front and my father was duped by insiders and possibly even spied on for being active against the war and also being pro civil rights—both supposed treasonous positions to the right wing at the time.

Since the assassinations of the 1960s, esp. JFK’s , there has been a psychic hole in our national history.  These holes are not closed and people (most long dead) haven’t been  held responsible for this atrocity, and so America keeps repeating this history of crime and secrecy: Insubordination, rogue operations (the NSA, CIA et. al).  This culture is still a part of our government.  Example this week:  Seven year cover up of a rogue CIA operation in Iran.  See page 9 of the 12/16/13 Philadelphia Inquirer.

 Not to mention all the NSA  secrets with more revelations to com;all a direct line back to this cover up. Instead of America become a more  empathatic, caring and progressive nation, our politics took an hard right turn in Vietnam and politically otherwise, and we’re still trying to turn around. 

Spiritual philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr said:  ”The powerful will never give up their power without a right.”   The Truth about this dark chapter in our history called the Sixties is the ammunition for this battle.

Peace out. 


Comments
Mar 22

Of Gretchen, Gardening, and Coincidence

     

Tuesday night Greg and I were at the West Chester Library.  We were instructing one of my Let’s Get Dirty!  organic gardening classes, this one funded through a State DEP grant our organization C3A had received last year.  This was a continuation of a gardening series we had begun at the Library last fall.   As we attempted to park, it was obvious a service was happening at the Dellavechia Funeral home across the street.  The parking director said we’d have to move further down the street, because a lot of people were expected.  We set up, and then sat waiting for people to arrive in the meeting room, whose large picture window gave us a clear view across the street as many mourners arrived for the service.  “Someone well known,” I thought.  We both admired the beautiful architecture of the building, similar in style to the Library.   And Greg—Mr. Intuition who’d been reading remembrances in the DLN all week- had a vibe that the service was for Gretchen Metz.  Who had attended a Let’s Get Dirty! class a few years ago.  Who had sat next to Greg for class, where he got a chance to chat with her and get to know her a little on the common ground of gardening  rather than as a reporter.  Who seemed ill but we couldn’t know why.  Who enjoyed the class and hurried away with a smile.  Who I had met years before as Greg and I made our way through networking jungles promoting C3A events (she gave us some nice coverage too).                                          So now here we sat, wondering, remembering, talking gardening and growing and thinking of this accomplished woman who for all we knew could be hovering nearby picking up some last minute tips! 

     The next day we found out that indeed it was the service for her, as well as that Tuesday had been National Agriculture Day, and were doubly moved because she was known to be a big fan of farming and gardening.   So we felt confirmed that her spirit had been with us the night before.  We couldn’t attend, yet from across the street we could remember and celebrate the life of a great and beloved Chester County institution who used her life to enliven and enlighten us all.


Comments
Feb 20

Action For Some Country

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A child’s face is like an upturned flower.  Cast a thousand seeds and hope that one takes root. Questions turn like a clock.  Lead by example.

These are thoughts swimming in my head as I reflect on a wonderful experience last week.  Greg was invited by teacher Mandy (a new neighbor) to speak to her 5th grade class  at Avon Grove Charter School.  Since her property is near Layton Park and the West Caln Twp. Land Reserve, she wanted her students to understand how such a beautiful piece of land could come to be forever protected as a park.   They are studying environmental science, and this seemed a perfect topic.  But could an experience that took Greg and I ten years— a vision inspired by a dream he had as a child—be readily understandable to a class of 11 year-olds?

A meandering trip south along Rts. 82 and 841 took us through little burgs and lush farmland, much of which could only be protected by those with wealth (and knowing what was worth protecting from rising property values and pressures to develop).  We kept thinking about how the 5000-acre King Ranch area in Unionville, just east and north of our journey, almost became Disney World North, if not for the vision of the Frolic Weymouths, Bill Sellers, and others who helped found the Brandywine Conservancy. Later, the Disney Land part (it not happening that is) got some disappointed sighs from the students.  As a kid I might have reacted the same way too.  But then again, I craved playing in the woods vs. an amusement park.

We entered the school, housed in a beautiful old brick building once the area consolidated high school, and into the brightly decorated classroom.  Some 40 kids filed in from recess (two 5th grade classes combined for this talk), armed with questions and upturned adorable faces.  Greg began to unfold his story of history, community, family, land and legacy.  And I added my three cents here and there. 

Greg explained the huge impact the proposed 125-unit development (which was originally supposed to be 60 housing units) would have had on traffic, pollution, population, surrounding development pressures if it had moved forward.   And oh the terrific questions: 

Was it hard to save the land?  Were people mad at you?  If it was 147 acres big, how big’s an acre? Why did you want to do it?   Did your family like it? What about your neighbors? Were you happy when it was done?  When was the first Earth Day?  What were the traffic problems?  Do you walk in the park?  Could my family come there?  Why was it important?  Did you get paid much money?  Do your neighbors like it?  Will it always look like it does now? 

Not knowing their usual classroom behavior, it was hard to know how much they were got out of Greg’s talk, but both teachers confirmed it was a hit.  “If only they were this quiet for fractions!” one of them noted.  Greg and I were so happy that these kids were hearing this story, so they could appreciate beautiful places around them, and know a little of what’s at stake for all our futures. They drew pictures and charts as he talked, and they imagined.   It was an afternoon well spent.  They will work on projects connected to the talk, and we’ll be invited back to see them.  Can’t wait!

 


Comments
Jan 28

What Are You Waiting For?— We’re Not Dead Yet

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The future of the Middle Class depends on America investing in the one-of-a-kind creative products and services that all artists make in every community, in every state in this country.  Why?  Because most of the jobs that pay middle-class salaries, the jobs  lost in the 2008 financial meltdown, are not coming back. This according to a Associated Press study cited in an excellent if terrifying series in the Daily Local News business section last week (Jan. 23, 24,25) to help explain the impact of technology on middle-class jobs in developed countries.  Data from the last forty years  from twenty countries was collected and analyzed regarding hiring and pay, and job types, losses, and gains.  This was combined with interviews with economists, tech experts, robot manufacturers, software developers  and people in the labor force from CEOs to the unemployed.  And the results are enough to make your hair stand on end: The job displacement that began in the modern era with the Industrial Revolution is now at a dizzying speed. 

Buggy whip makers have long been used as a historical symbol for an industry which seemed to disappear overnight.  An entire segment of jobs was displaced by the onset of cars as a huge industry that supported transportation by horse (harnesses, carriages, feed, tools, blacksmiths, stable-builders, etc.) became a relic instantaneously.  The good news then was that lots and lots of new jobs were created centered around the car, including road construction.  People could retrain and get paid well.

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The bad news now is that robotics and high tech are displacing jobs in ALL segments of the world economy, not just one corner.  Large and small companies, schools, police, and entrepreneurs are utilizing ways to cut costs any way they can, i.e. cutting workers.  Robots can put stuff together and  master other tasks without health insurance, sick days and time off; software can count numbers, arrange schedules, make calls, put in data, figure  change orders, retrieve library books, drive cars and trucks (very soon) and generally do you one better after learning your routine. Cloud technology cuts need  for offices and tons of computer hardware.  So what you think is cool on your smart phone is finding ways to outsmart everybody.  And this power is exponentially increasing every month.

The study concludes that the most vulnerable workers are the repetitive jobs, many requiring a college degree, that provide middle-class salaries.  Moreover, the job retraining promoted by our political leaders is great in theory, but many of  those jobs are also being overtaken by high tech too. So when either party talks of  “job creation” it’s vague for a reason.  If we don’t watch out, the Brave New World won’t need us. 

So what’s a society to do?   What new field of jobs and (made-only-in-America exportable) commodities is out there waiting to be exploited, waiting for investment using all that money sitting around in the coffers of over-subsidized banks and corporations?    The creative, arts-based economy!  There are millions of creative people in every community in every state, and in every country who already make things coming out of their souls and brains that cannot be duplicated by a robot (which has no soul), waiting to be invested in.  We will soon become a country of people with  much more leisure time than we want, and ironically no money with which  to enjoy it, unless a new middle-class engine is created with new buying power.  Artists are the analogue internet:   Communicating, exchanging ideas, gaining new insights. Let’s put it to work for us. Art is Soul Food.  Invest in it.   With your Time.  With your Money. Be fearless.

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Comments

Lying, Cheating and Stealing

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My father, three brothers and I all played so many competitive sport while growing up.  And we were taught that cheaters never win and winners never cheat, a philosophy that I still adhere to in my artistic life. Unfortunately, in today’s upside-down, no value, winner-take-all world, we have heroes that have now been tarnished such as Lance Armstrong, Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, the Catholic Church, Roger Clemmon, Barry Bonds & Co., and lions of business and Wall Street. They  all  depend on the omerta of their peers,  all having the smell of mobster-ism. Not that winner-take-all hasn’t influenced the culture business from journalistic plagiarizers  to lip synchers to visual artists who let their minions do the hard work for them.  What to do—who can we trust?

First, we shouldn’t have hero worship except in our personal lives for people who have helped us survive the daily ins and outs of life as well as people in the greater picture like most police, soldiers, nurses and doctors, EMTs, teachers, social workers—all the people who are answering to a higher calling, not in it strictly for the money and glory.  And we know who we can trust because it always end of being the people who show you respect no matter what your predicament or station in life. My prayer is for this nation to have some consciousness-raising or change of mindset to shower these everyday people with praise, and a reward of a secure financial life.  


Comments
Oct 3

Sexy New Models

Job creators are getting all the press, not the us workers who do the jobs.  Our self worth is defined by our jobs and how well we do them.  And we feel as important as the people who hire us.  Without our labor, this country would disintegrate overnight. 

You would think, listening to some Ayn Rand, free enterprise pundits and economists, that there is only one way to do Capitalism.  But check out this model in Spain.  Something we could adopt here if we opened our economic minds.  One brief mention  caught my ear on the radio some months ago about a huge business cooperative called Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain that employs 84,000 people.  This corporation was founded in 1956, is comprised of 256 companies, and is the seventh largest Spanish company in terms of asset turnover.  It manufactures everything from kitchen appliances to data systems to sheet metal machines to furniture to architecture consulting to catering to educational systems to stock breeding, and on and on.  All over Europe and Asia, with yearly sales in the multi- billions.  !  Because it is worker-managed, not worker-owned, it is still in the capitalist camp, but a different approach. 

It’s business model offers strong social responsibility and respect to its workers without compromising corporation’s expansion and bottom line.  All workers must buy in and become members and can buy stock.   When one of the companies loses steam and has to reduce the work force, those workers go to other companies within the cooperative umbrella.  The boss makes six times the lowest salary of any worker. 

Shocking,since here in the U.S. the CEOs in large corporations often make SIX HUNDRED times the lowest-paid worker.  Do they deserve  that kind of pay scale?  Hell no.  Why not more of  this experimentation here, I ask!!

Well to answer my own question, here’s another cool idea that was just in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer. A Philadelphia-based venture capitalist named Terry Williams has come up with an innovative idea called CXP, which provides HR, IT, accounting and sales functions to mid-level companies that pay CXP a management fee.  But here it gets nifty:  Each company in which CXP has a minority share also has a  minority share in CXP.  So they swap equity! Growth squared!  I love it!  When smaller companies are having trouble, here is a way to offer support and gain growth at the same time.  So this is a cooperative model on another, local scale.

Let it all bloom and grow.  The lessons learned from the financial meltdown and the recovery should be an opportunity for new capitalism (since the old model has failed).  Let’s move away from the same old black and white lines of thinking  that got us in trouble in the first place.


Comments
Sep 26

To counter that Obama & Co. don’t do anything.

It’s not like they haven’t tried.


Comments
Sep 21

Betrayal

Even though we’re all supposedly working in this system called United States of America, you hear the word “betrayal” used to describe the predicament most of us feel, think and know we’re in today.  Not too long ago, by using that word, people accused you of playing the victim card with “Why don’t you just get a job.”  Back in the late 1960s when I felt, thought and knew that I was betrayed by the ruling class, that sort of cutting response always confused me.   Because I’ve worked hard my whole life, and was working hard  then as an orderly in a hospital because I’d been drafted.

Like most people with a privileged upbringing, I could have betrayed my belief in the American Dream by dodging the draft and letting some unfortunate working class person take my place in service.  Probably meaning on the front lines of Vietnam. Which could’ve been my fate as a medic:   stationed on the front lines without a gun—a well known suicidal role to play because medics were always in harm’s way and unarmed.  But crazy as I was, I was ready to go wherever they sent me.  However Nixon was supposedly “Vietnamizing” the war by bringing American soldiers home to be replaced by Vietnamese soldiers (what we’re attempting in Afghanistan right now).  I call it the ‘slow fake walkaway from a disaster we created.’  This never works out as planned  because no matter what we try to do, too many of the locals in the occupied countries are pissed because their relatives have been killed in these wars.  Does this ring a bell with all the violence going on since that agitprop anti-Mohammed tape was disseminated throughout the Middle East to add oil to this fire?  Smells like a Right Wing dirty trick to me to undercut Obama’s reputation for being strong on foreign affairs.  His poll numbers are down. Romney jumped the gun w/ his put down of Obama’s handling of the Middle East , most likely egged on by a Right Wing over-anxious  to re-boot his failing campaign and throw Israel ( and Netanyathu)  a giant bone.

It seems as though the Democrats had a dirty trick up their sleeve (the “47%”  video) , waiting for a scenario like this to expose the real attitudes the ruling class has about the rest of us.  So it’s not our imagination that we not only feel  betrayed, we’ve been betrayed.

Back to my original premise of being betrayed by the draft.  I and all my brothers and sisters who either were drafted or volunteered for the Vietnam War, were promised by the ruling class back then that we were the “good people” vs. all the whiny, pointy-headed intellectuals who were trying to stop the war, bring the troops home and also not get drafted themselves.  Guess since they were part of the privileged they knew something that other people didn’t know.  So even though I was one of those so-called privileged people who was able to graduate from college as a math major then get married and set up my home in Coatesville before I was drafted, I should have known better.  I didn’t serve in Vietnam, I served in the states like all the other Conscientious Objectors from 1970 on because the ruling class was going to lump us all together and blame us for this disastrous war.  Because after all we were nothing but a buncha:  Drug addled, hippie, losers, ne’er-do-wells that blamed American first and didn’t understand how wonderful the ruling class was and all their kids who didn’t serve.  FYI, only 10% of the U.S. families were negatively impacted by the war.  But the other  90% benefited and are still in denial about their nasty role of keeping vets in their place by all this name-calling. Since that time I’ve been trying to educate people about the betrayal of the American Dream  by the people who run the system and was told to shut up.  And now so many more know how we felt but that’s no consolation.  It divided Deb and my families and many others who are still trying to put the pieces back together again.

So please cut the Afghan and Iraqi War vets a major break and give them all the empathy and help you can conjure up.   Because if this can happen to the best, bravest and smartest defending the Constitution , what can be expected for the rest of us?


Comments
Jul 23

Take Your Mind Off and Relax through Arts this Saturday in Wagontown

C3A presents

Take Your Mind Off!    (Relaxation thru Art)

Saturday July 28th,   1pm til  !    

 

Problem:  Too much Stress & Worry 

Remedy:  Slow down and catch up with your Life through Arts and Nature.

 

Wander and wonder at  eARTh’s*

14 private acres of beautiful views in Wagontown, Chester Co.

Arts workshops and demos like drawing-as-mediation,

organic gardening, mosaic, music, and more, as well as old-time games.  Dig on nature, birdies (free tweets!), lovely gardens, and eARThArt sculptures,

 

Croquet, horseshoes, scrabble, cards     Nature Walks 

Bring yer own Picnic          Celebrate National Dance Day too!

»$5 recommended donation per car /rain/shine 

 

Want to demo and promote your creative product or skill? Contact us and come on out.  (early birdies get the better spaces)

 

info:  Gregc3a@verizon.net;    directions:  CthreeA.org

*everybody’s ART home    (CoatesvilleArea Arts Alliance cultural ctr.)        

 

COMING UP NEXT:  Let’s Jam!  Preserving Your Favorite Tastes          

Sat.  Aug. 11 (10a to 1pm) or Weds. Aug. 15 (6 to 9pm) at Deb’s Wagontown kitchen

Yum, all that delicious summer and fall bounty—what to do with it?

 Third-generation organic gardener and longtime canner Deborah Kates can show you how to save it deliciously from food you buy or grow yourself.  Learn whys and hows of hot water canning and how to make and “put up” :

 

 jams easy pickles tomatoes (sauce and whole) peaches and pears

  applesauce using a food grinder (it’s easy and fun!) and more;

tips on freezing fruits and vegetables correctly.

Survival skills that last a lifetime.   All take home treats made in class !

$80 p/p which includes all jars, other supplies and produce.

 

Space is limited.  Reserve at 610-384-2535 or debc3a@verizon.net

 

 

 

 


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