Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Review

My annual year-end rite of passage is to transfer birthdays and anniversaries to a new calendar. I must confess seeing "Sam to groomer" in February and "Oh Baby! 8lbs 11 oz & 20 inches" in March put a lot of commotion in my head. Not sure I've got the words today, but I do have the pictures. You can hum "What a Wonderful World" to yourself.

From the Ancient Greek

Happy nearly New Year, everyone.

And just a quick reminder that the decade does not end with 2010. I have monumentally bad math skills, and even I get this. So get out those No. 2 pencils and ecoutez:

Deca comes from ancient Greek and means 10, as opposed to nine. So because a decade has 10 years in it, we are not at the end of the decade. This time next year (plus one day) will get us all the way. (And don't get me started over the "end" of the millennium in 2000. That still gives me a headache.)

If you have a resolution or two, share them in the comments box. I 'd love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, speak and count carefully on the roads tonight.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Expensive Day

Hello, again. It's been a bit since my last post. I hope you enjoyed reading about Karolyn Grimes as much as I enjoyed meeting her. A few days later, we had the opportunity to see the radio play It's a Wonderful Life at the American Theatre in Chicago. (Can we do a theme or what?) Not only is it a delightful annual production for the ATC, but they serve warm cookies and milk after each show. What's not to like.

But the wonderful life theme had to end eventually, specifically today. In that I'm about 17 loads of laundry behind, I ran a fast wash before work only to hear the machine screaming in agony during the rinse cycle. Sears can't come until 2010, but a local company can come tomorrow, bless them. Of course, the question is how much is too much to repair an appliance? The other question is, how come these stupid washers used to last forever and don't anymore? Get back to me on that.

While I was at work, the garage door spring exploded, scaring husband and dogs and the deer that were ambling around the front yard. Mercifully, the garage door people were circling the neighborhood and came to our rescue within an hour.

So what will be the third thing to croak?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

'Frank Capra Picked Me'

The Hollywood Palms Cinema hosted Karolyn Grimes this weekend. (And if you are a loyal follower of Naperville Now, you already know that Karolyn portrayed Zuzu Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life.) She is absolutely delightful and looks like a million bucks. Now if she had a million bucks, she wouldn't be autographing books about the movie and having her eyes assaulted by digital camera flash.

I was pretty much in starstruck mute mode, though I did manage to squeak out, "I hope you know how much you are beloved.  Because of you. In this movie."

She said something sweet in reply. Starstruck syndrome evidently affects my hearing and memory.

Prior to the full screening of It's a Wonderful Life, Karolyn talked about the making of the movie, its stars and her life (four movies before IAWL, filmed when she was 6 in 1946).

Did you know:
  • Uncle Billy's blackbird is named Jimmy. And it's the same bird that flies onto the Scarecrow's shoulder in The Wizard of Oz.
  • There a string with a loop in it that hangs down over George and Mary Bailey in the "You on the nest?" scene. Karolyn said she thinks it was included in the scene because that's how the lights would have been switched off in a bedroom in that era. This odd detail was evident on the big screen, not so much on a TV set.
  • All of the child stars get together twice a year. No one has ever been able to find the little girl who played Mary as a young girl. (Or was that Violet? Sorry. I didn't take notes. Bad reporter.)
  • The Martinis' house in Bailey Park still exists in California.
  • Frank Capra chose each of the 2000 extras in the movie. And he chose Karolyn to portray ZuZu, which is the name of a cookie made by the American Biscuit Company -- ZuZu Gingersnaps.
  • When Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton) asks George Bailey for $17.50, it was at Capra's suggestion. The ad lib prompted George to give Ellen a big kiss in the midst of the run on the Bailey Building and Loan.
  • Her mother named her Karolyn for Karo syrup.
  • Karolyn spent her young adulthood in Osceola, MO, which is where my great grandparents are from. Different century, however. She became a Medical Technician, had a wonderful life and was retired until a reporter knocked on her door in 1980 and asked if she was ZuZu. Interest in the movie has grown by leaps and bounds and is now wildly popular, something it was not when it was released. Every seat in the theatre was sold, and it was the third showing on Friday. (Did I mention they serve wine in this theatre? And food?)

KG: Hi! How would you like the inscription to read?
KG: ?
Me: Hi!
KG: Hi! Inscription?

(Karolyn was very gracious, particularly in light of my doh-ness. Luckily, my husband talked up the Milton Bradley trade to Seattle, Karolyn's home, while we were at the table. You know, I can recite nearly ALL of the movie dialogue, but I barely managed to squeak out a few words. And then my purse opened up and I nearly dumped everything across the atrium floor. Very smooth.) is Karolyn's website. Great and wonderful stories on it. Pay her a visit. She is a lovely person.

Friday, December 18, 2009

How Fun Was That?

The Hollywood Palms on Route 59 in Naperville is a veritable emporium of fun fun fun. Food, cocktails, movies. And a bunch of us indulged in all three to watch "The Blind Side" Tuesday night.

The Palms is ginormous, but the ticket prices are not. (Thank you.) The food ranges from C to C Plus, but as far as I'm concerned, if I didn't have to make the Lon Chaney burger or mix the Halle Berry martini, it's a B Plus to A Minus. Add another half credit for someone else delivering it to the long banquet tables at which you are seated. In comfy office chairs. That rotate.  And there's a whispery waitstaff who manage not to compete with Sandra Bullock's dialogue. Is that cool or what? Clearly, I should have thought of this concept.

(That's Lon Chaney on the right, in case you were wondering.)

(And Halle. As if you didn't know.)

Tonight (Dec. 18) there is a really neat twist to the whole cinematic eatery thing. The actress who portrayed ZuZu Bailey is appearing at the Hollywood Palms Friday and Saturday between showings of "It's a Wonderful Life." So we get to see my second favorite Christmas movie on the big screen. How cool is that? (I will let you know when they screen my top fave, "The Bishop's Wife." I doubt, however, that Loretta Young will be making a personal appearance.)

 (Karolyn Grimes, then and now.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Still Here (mostly)

I have a terrible confession: I haven't read a newspaper or watched the news in days, which is why I haven't posted to Naperville Now in forever. This seems to happen to me every December. Lots and lots of busyness, I think. Cards and gifts to be found, wrapped, annotated and mailed. Halls to deck. Brothers to move into their own apartments. (Wait, that was a new wrinkle in my usual harriedness.)

But tonight, ah tonight! I get to do something way fun -- the Hollywood Palms Cinema (and I suspect I'm the last one in town to attend a movie and have dinner at this cinematic eatery.) I will report back on this adventure sooner rather than later, except to say I just read on their website that they offer half price pitchers of Margaritas on Tuesday. Is this not a Christmas miracle?

Meanwhile, good luck with all that you have to do.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Feels Like 13

That's the happy observation of the AOL weather widget. Did I mention the temperature may go to 15 BELOW? Did I mention my husband is stranded in Iowa? Of course, there are people who live in Iowa and say that in summer. But this is legit. He is not on the side of the road, thank God, but the road he would take home is closed. Shut down. Not working. Broken. Crusted over.

Anyone else think this snowfall, affecting two-thirds of the country, is just a little too much too soon? That's what I like about you. You always agree with me. 

Meanwhile, it isn't easy to capture snow falling violently sideways, which is what it's doing over by der. And I noticed a definite lack of tracks, so even the rabbits and deer are hunkered down somewhere, waiting for this weather event to skedaddle so they can come back and eat what few branches they missed last week.

Monday, December 7, 2009

As In Cash Money?

In the interest of a little bah humbug, Sunday's Tribune had a spread on Christmas gift giving that featured a Timex watch, very colorful and fun, for (...wait for it...) $95! As in ninety-five dollars. Count 'em!

When did Timex go all Tag Heuer on us? And is a glam/retro Timex watch an object of desire this year? It is a fun watch, I admit, but not for 95 bucks. (Did I mention it was 95 bucks?)

If this puppy were priced at $19.95 (or, even better, at $9.95, which is what I think the price was when last I bought a Timex), I'd get one for everyone on my list.

As it is, it will be the usual coal and fruitcake for this family.

(You have to admit, though, it is kind of cute.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sun, Swag and Shoe

It was a fabulous, gorgeous Saturday, with the sun beckoning us outside to run errands like the we're-so-far-behind-we-think-we're-in-first crazies that we are becoming.

People: run to Home Depot. They have THE loveliest swags made of fresh greens and other unidentifiable organic stuff (I did recognize the pinecones, however) for $9.99. Absolutely fabulous. Hurry. There weren't many left after I bought three. They kind of look like this, without the plaid bow (because that would be an extra seven bucks.) WTG, Home Depot.

Meanwhile, wearing my brand new, really huge gym shoes (first time in a shoe since surgery and ressembling a crippled clown), it was a joy to be out and about in the sunshine without a knee-high plastic walking boot. While I did enjoy the kindness of strangers while using crutches, limping in large New Balance gym shoes doesn't elicit quite the same reaction. But that's okay. It feels good to be the one holding the door again.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain

I need to get out more to reconnoitre this lovely city because you know what? The ice cream store is gone! Vamoosed! Emptied! Skedaddled! As in not there anymore. Gone, baby, gone.When did that happen? Was anyone watching? Clearly, I wasn't.

Now I do know that it wasn't Baskin & Robbins for a long time. It morphed into something else, like a soda shop with dozens of candy jars.  I like ice cream and candy a lot, so this struck me as a sound business plan.

Prior to that, like every other red-blooded inept baker mother, I bought tons of cookie clowns, birthday cakes and ice cream pies for years. (This is obvious to the naked and not-so-naked eye.)

Our family spent many a summer's night in and outside that store. It's where daughter No. 1 eyed her sister's mint chip cone and asked if she could have a lick. Contemplating the request a beat longer than was necessary, daughter No. 2 shrugged, leaned in and licked her sister's arm.

In this life, sometimes you get what you ask for.

As for me, I'm hoping for another ice cream store.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

On Your Mark, Get Set....

Okay, pilgrims, scram.

The city hosted an electric Christmas parade on Friday, but due to a bum foot, we didn't join the masses. Same for Black Friday, though we did take advantage of some online toy buying, something we haven't done in maybe 15 years.

Did you know you can STILL buy this?

And this?

For once, I don't feel overly outside the space/time continuum. These toys are great. They are colorful. Most of all, they are reassuring because they still exist unchanged, like Moonpies and RC Cola.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Oyly Thankmas

Upon seeing Christmas wreaths outside the Jewel this afternoon, I realize that Oyly is the only proper response. It combines that perfect exclamatory response to every circumstance -- Oy veh! -- with early. For indeed, oyly it is. (And whom do we see about that?)

Clearly, retailers invented Thankmas to either annoy us and/or make us feel like we were being chased. Congratulations, I'm beginning to feel both annoyed AND out of breath.

Can we please respect the Pilgrims just a bit longer? Thank you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I'd like to introduce you to my greatest AND smallest fan, Zachary. We had a playdate this afternoon. I'm beat. Zachary, however, is still raring to go. A fine quality in any person, particularly one in the so-done-with-crawling-ready-to-walk phase of his life.

Naperville Now will take a short break for some fine tuning of the author on Friday the 13th (I am not suspicious in the slightest, knock wood.) So leave me a bunch of messages and ideas for the blog and I'll be back at it next week.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Honor, In Gratitude

Healing Field of Honor
Nov. 11, 2009 on Rotary Hill

2009 flags fly in honor and in gratitude for their military service

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On the Right Path

As you may have read here and elsewhere, residents living near Royce Road dodged a serious garden RPG this summer. The existing garden plots on West Street will be enhanced while our corner of paradise will remain unmolested, at least for the time being. Thank you once again, powers that be.

However, a new bike path was forged in the wilderness this summer at the intersection of Royce and Washington roads, meandering toward Whalon Lake. We headed out on Sunday to check on its progress.

I love this path. I've never been taller nor looked so thin. (Honey, you look great, too.)

There is still work to be done, of course. And on Sunday, when these awesome photographs were taken, workers were swarming on both sides of the path, raking, seeding and conferring. (Did I mention conferring?)

Bikers whizzed by us, joggers plodded onward and yellow labs outnumbered all other breeds 3-to-1. Go us, for being so aerobic on Nov. 8th.

Once complete, I daresay we will have a really awesome, available to everyone, cost effective, reasonably aesthetic enhancement to our town.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Night Life

I haven't been paying attention to downtown Naperville these past few months. With the construction on Washington, I've taken my meanderings well east and away from that unholy vehicular blood clot at Chicago and Washington.

Last night, however, the golfers and golfettes gathered for a little Irish cuisine (some might argue the pairing of those words) and then headed to Blackfinn. If you remember Leonardo's Pizza, this is the same building. Blackfinn fills all three stories, but the decor is definitely mahogany-er and HD-er than its predecessor. In fact, on the first level, each booth has its own flat screen TV. Each booth. More TVs are located on nearly every bit of wall space, except where there's a portrait of George Washington. I hope someone will get back to me on that.

Upstairs, there's more bar, BIGGER flat screens and MUSIC. And a nice wait staff. Plus another GW portrait. Our presence pretty much skewed the mean age of the patrons, but in that we left before 10 p.m., Gen Y was safe to hob and knob the night away.

A few buildings away, there's a new (to me) gelato place. And there's some construction on a building facade just beyond that. And is that a new awning on Front Street Cantina? Jefferson Street, change becomes you.

In that it would have been quicker to walk from southwest Naperville to downtown than find a parking place (and yes, we did cruise the parking garages), it would seem the world is spinning a little faster and a little more profitably. Glad to see that our economic shorts are less knotty these days, at least in downtown Naperville. Cheers.

If I can find a place to park, I'll get out and take a picture of the restaurant from the street level. This publicity photo could not be more uninspiring.

Friday, November 6, 2009


No, not cider, but what direction I want this blog to go (or limp, more fittingly). Frankly, I don't seem to be able to drum up conversation that is a.) funny and b.) sustainable over three paragraphs.

If you get a chance, read Heather Armstrong writes THE funniest blog with the best photography. It is priceless. Second runner-up is Tonics both. If you're a francopohile, leave a note here and I'll email you the urls to some delicious sites authored by natives and non-natives alike. Eye candy plus. Also, I can decipher most of the French, with a little help from babelfish. (Sorry, Pop. It's been a long long time, from May to December, and I haven't taken a French class since DeGaulle was in office.)

Off to the store to replenish our "cave." Passez un bon weekend, everyone.

(This should get us through until Monday.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Almost Halloween

This may not be very clear to the naked cyber eye, but Charlie carved the word "Naperville" as the teeth of our pumpkin last year. (Who knew?) And for the inquiring minds among you, the template was in the local paper in 2008.

A shout out to mending Freddy of Boca. Lots of Lassie reruns, my friend. And the occasional biscuit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Shenanigans

We are ankle-deep in leaves. Such a crop this year, all yellows and magenta. It would be a sight to behold, if we didn't have to rake the stupid things to the curb, over and over, days upon days on end. If only there were a simple, aesthetically-pleasing means to compost them. Not practical, I'm afraid, in a world of houses cheek-by-jowl.

Of course, leaves put me in a Halloween state of mind. Confession: I love candy! I love dress up! I love the kids (as long as they are small and marginally appreciative)! With glee, we have dressed and guided our kids and their playmates to the doors of Naperville, or at least to as many as feet and weather would allow. Fun fun fun!

And now, we have our youngest trick-or-treater in years, on the threshhold of his first Halloween. And to my utter astonishment, his parents can NOT agree on his costume. (Hello, this child's been on the earth since March.)
Actually, Ma and Pa have determined what Baby should wear, right down to purchasing a costume. Separately. So guess who bought the skeleton costume? Guess who bought the pumpkin costume? Guess which one was returned? (Okay, that was too easy.)

As my friend Mary Fran points out, the best costume in Chicago is the one the down jacket fits over most comfortably.

So as our baby takes to the streets this year, he'll be the cute one in the stroller. Wearing a parka over his jammies. He adores carrots and peas, as long as they are of that delightful, gummy consistency preferred by babies 3-to-1.