Recommending a book

I read and enjoy Hugh Gilmore’s column on books. He writes about not reading the very popular novel, “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese. Hugh, don’t bother. The book is over 600 pages in which there is every calamity but incest.

It opens with a nun giving birth to twin boys and dying in the effort. Apparently for many that is a titillating opener. It ends with an organ donation operation with lots of issues (and tissues) in between.

To my mind, Verghese’s “The Tennis Player” is a much more satisfying read. It is half the length of “Stone,” non-fiction, and deals with Verghese’s relationship with a young colleague from Australia who has  a drug addiction. This is drama in real time. It doesn’t need embellishment.


Maggie Wolman
Mt. Airy


Why bus private schoolers?

While the school board has informed Jenks that it is losing $31K of its budget for the school year, I have noticed no cuts in the bus service to private schools paid for by public dollars.

If one can afford $15-20K a year for tuition, I am sure that one can pay to get one’s child to school.  If I am misunderstanding or misinformed on how this all works, I would be happy to receive clarification.

If there are any ideas on how to get rid of the “Reform Commission” and have elected school board officials in Philadelphia, please share them here. I would be happy to organize a meeting.

Darlene Heep
Chestnut Hill


Caruso comment is over-the-top

As a long-time resident of Chestnut Hill, soprano vocalist and board member of VoxAmaDeus, I feel compelled to respond to Michael Caruso’s critique of the VoxAmaDeus Dec. 17 performance of Handel’s “Messiah” at St. Paul’s Church.

Although I was not in attendance at that performance due to a wedding engagement, I have been singing the “Messiah” for 14 years under Valentin Radu’s conducting. I have witnessed his interpretative style.

The Baroque period and compositional style allows for improvisation and individual interpretation. Soloists are encouraged to add a personal touch to their cadenzas. A conductor who adds his or her own personal touches to the piece can bring excitement and passion to the music and text.

Sitting for three hours to a dry, boring run of the “Messiah” would not by all accounts have caused the audience at St. Paul’s to rise to their feet at the end.

As a board member and supporter of the classical arts, I do not agree with Mr. Caruso’s saying that Radu’s interpretation causes, “untold damage to the fabric of the music and the delivery of the text.” I feel that although Mr. Caruso may not prefer the interpretive endings of Radu, he (Mr. Caruso) wanted to lend self-importance to his writing by making such a false and over-the-top statement.

Andrea Smith
Chestnut Hill


Keep deer from being impaled

I am deeply disturbed by the recent information from an article in the Dec. 29 Local, “The deadly effects of a spiked fence” by John McGowan. John describes the impaling of several fawns and does and the death of one deer that occurred in November 2011 when the deer could not jump a spiked iron fence on a neighbor’s property.

John and his wife gallantly tried to save as many deer as they could, but the whole event was cruel and inhumane to the deer. I agree with John that if you have a spiked fence and have deer that frequent your properties, there are ways to alter the fence so that deer can safely jump over the fence.

One solution is to attach a rubber house over the top of the spikes or put a hole in small balls that can be attached to the top of the spikes. Another solution is to build higher fences to safely keep out wildlife like the deer. Especially in the winter, deer need to find any food available, and that means trying different areas; in this case another property to find food. Deer can get disoriented and confused by huge structures to block their movements. They often are not able to manage jumping over gates or barriers safely.

As neighbors who live in these areas, especially those who live near the Wissahickon, we have a civic and ethical responsibility to protect the precious wildlife that frequent our properties. We have options of building taller fences or protecting the deer by the means I described above. As the annual winter nightly killing of deer began in the Wissahickon in December, 2011, the earliest cull in many year, it is an especially cruel winter for the deer. Please take some time to consider how you can help keep the deer safe as they forage for food, and especially consider making your fences safer for the deer.

Mary Ann Baron
Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer
Chestnut Hill


‘Utter horror’ in neighborhood

After reading in the Local last week about the deer that was impaled on a fence, I must share my utter horror on coming upon this decimated body of a white-tailed doe while walking my dog through my own neighborhood. Following ancient trails, as they do in wooded suburban sites, or fleeing from alarm, she had tried to penetrate the fence and became trapped there, wedged between the iron uprights.

In her efforts to dislodge herself, she apparently dislocated her hindquarters, pinning her body even more firmly to the fencing. Hopefully, her body closed down from shock; otherwise her death was protracted and unimaginably agonizing.

I was not the only witness to this carnage. The vultures had already gathered. Don’t even think that “it’s nature’s way.” This was an unnatural wildlife death by torture, and the vultures should not have had to be summoned.

Fences are banned in my development. Yet, neighbors put them up anyway. They should be removed. Even where fences are permitted, I hope others will remember this image and refrain from wasting their money on them, and causing such unnecessary suffering.

Deer and other animals can also be impaled on fence spikes. Young are separated from parents. Some can jump a six-foot fence, and some try another way through. They don’t always see the fence. Remember, we humans invented the concept of land ownership. We have no moral right to keep it from wildlife.

Christina Kobland
Lafayette Hill