Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chez Book Club

Part of me wants to tell you about the book we read for book club. Another part says, "Naperville Now, only you want to read about that. Get on with the good bits."

Good doesn't begin to describe it.
Remember those luncheons at church? Little sandwiches on glass plates with a punch cup to balance? Of course, our cups held watermelon gin punch, something Presbyterians might frown upon (in a church setting).
Alternatively, there was this:
Also, tarragon chicken salad, deviled eggs, crudités, lemon bars -- pretty much what one might find on a bridge party buffet circa mid-century, which is when our book was written.
We read Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding. I know not how I managed to graduate from high school without reading this stunning story.

Frankie, almost 13, says,
 "But what is it all about? People loose and at the same time caught. Caught and loose. All these people and you don't know what joins them up. There's bound to be some sort of reason and connection. Yet somehow I can't seem to name it. I don't know." 
McCullers describes Frankie's world brilliantly. Hot, sticky, lonesome, forlorn, waiting for something to happen. Which it does, sweetly, terrifyingly.

Which leads me to ask which books have you not read that you should have read? Do you have a literary bucket list? I ask because on a field trip to see The Great Gatsby, there were actually some in our group who had not read the book.

Apparently our British cousins are keeping a list of overlooked classics of American lit. The Member of the Wedding is on it, along with a lifetime of reading. Here's the link

Get busy.

With thanks to Carol, our host, for a wonderful evening. That homemade chocolate gelato changed my life.

Each week, Naperville Now participates in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. Read what others have to say about the letter Z here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 1962

I have no recollection of this bon voyage party for my aunt and uncle in May 1962.

I've seen other pictures. Many people were there that day in our 3-bedroom apartment in New York. Not exactly an easy place to avoid 20 adults.

And yet, this day is not in my memory. 

Here are my uncle and aunt, grandparents and parents, all dolled up for the event. The dining room table is decked out with candles and chocolate cake. Someone holds a wine glass on the left.

Dad's eyes are shut (in nearly every photograph of him, it was thus). Mom, 40-something, looks fabulous. Everyone looks happy, even my grandfather, who had had a stroke some years before. I like a man who can rock a bow tie, and a red one, at that.

I want to step into this moment and interview everyone (which is probably what I wanted to do in 1962, so I was farmed out to a neighbor so I wouldn't go all Edward R. Murrow during the party).

I want to ask my grandfather who his great-grandfather was. I want to thank my grandmother for sending me $5 every blessed week that I was in college. I want to get rid of that stupid ashtray on the end table and yell, "Smoking will kill you!"

The only non-smoker, my grandmother, will make it almost to 100. Not so for everyone else. 

Photographs quick-capture vitality and hold it for all time. When we look back, maybe we shore up our own light, their gift to us in the first place.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

In the Yard

Right on schedule, the squirrels have struck.

Is there anything worse than squirrels with revenge in their hearts?

This is what I think I know about tulips:

  • Squirrels are mad for ours, but not as a food source.  As far as I can tell, they just like to pop off the heads -- for fun and clearly out of spite.
  • Many gardeners consider tulips an annual in Chicago because the winters are so abominable. Our bulbs, however, have managed to soldier on, depleted in number, but holding on these past 10 years. 
  • Oddly, this variety closes at night. Have I overlooked this characteristic in Tulips 101? It's like having 2 different flowers -- coral/salmony at night, flaming red in the morning.
  • Tulips show up in strange and unremembered places.

(Is there anything better than a rogue tulip? I have no memory of planting this bulb.)

And then there's the field of Bluebells, which we inherited. It spreads so vigorously I am sure that one of these days, I will be drinking coffee and look down to see plants growing through the kitchen floor. "Hi!" they will say. "We're spreading. Pick up your feet."

Tell me how your garden grows and who/what you are battling this time of year.

FYI: Naperville Now is going to take a break from posting. I am contemplating a move to a different host, possibly under a different name. I need to gather my rosebuds while I may (and fight the squirrel population of Will County) to determine the next best thing. Thanks for reading.

Each week Naperville Now participates in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. See what others are writing about the letter Y here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Marks the Spot

Vacation slides! 

Hey, where's everyone going? There's popcorn. And geology.

Welcome to Balanced Rock, in North Salem, CT. (I hear David Letterman lives around here.)

Glacial activity was very big when the world was much younger. For years, this amazing formation near New York was believed to have been created by a glacier.

But now, there's a little reconsidering going on. (Cue dun dun DUN! music.)

Turns out, the ginormous rock, called an "erratic" by geologists, is formed from granite not indigenous to the area. It may be a dolmen, "a Celtic stone to memorialize the dead."

Celts in Connecticut. I may just write that musical.

(As you can read, it's been here at least since 1862, per the graffiti some idiot was compelled to carve one April day a year into the Civil War.)

Many years ago, we visited Carnac, France, renowned for its many, many standing stones lining the countryside. Most were erected around 3300 B.C., give or take a millennium.

I nearly failed geology my sophomore year. All those stupid rocks looked alike to me, and by the end of the semester, I achieved a passing grade by 4/10ths of a point. The romance of stones never came up. Had it, I might be in an entirely different line of work.

With thanks to Stephen and Kevin for the rock drive-by and a splendid dinner just up the road.

Each week Naperville Now participates in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. Read what others have to say about the letter X here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wild Things

Once again I am posting from my phone for Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. Note to self: take laptop on vacation.

I am in St. Louis with daughter #2, cruising the sights of the botanical garden.


I also managed to leave my camera on the kitchen table, so the iPhone is the best I can do.

One of these days I will create a collage of all the pictures I took, you lucky things.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dear Jane Fonda

You walked right by our table at Balthazar's in Manhattan's SoHo last weekend.

I was struck by two things: you are quite tall (and growing taller with each recollection of this brief event) and whoever does your color is genius. 

We don't get many celebrities in Naperville, IL, so forgive me if I sound a little star-struck in recalling your stroll past our dessert.

(I ask you, can one ever have too many profiteroles?)

The maître d' did a wonderful job running interference with a table of ladies, whose ringleader flew across the restaurant to take your picture. For a large man, he was very graceful as he put himself between you and madame and her iPhone. She tried not once but several times to bully her way in your direction, but he would not be breached. Hope you left him a nice tip.

I would not have expected such behavior from a woman 1.) dressed as Bergdorf Goodmanly as she was and 2.) old enough to know better. (For the record, we most assuredly stayed in our seats, mainly because the place was so packed, there wasn't much room to maneuver, especially after eating dessert.)

I wondered if you were meeting someone or would you have joined us for lunch had we asked. Do you hang out with everyday people? Get your nails done and go shopping with a BFF? Read blogs and shop for garden antiques on Sunday? More importantly, do you order profiteroles when you can?

At the very least, indulge in the last. They are fabulous.


Sue at Naperville Now

PS Let's do lunch next time you are in Chicago. I hear the Walnut Room at Marshall Field's Macy's does a nice Frango Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Pie. And I am fairly certain we will be left alone. Midwesterners are calm like that.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Vital Records

I'd like to say I'm sitting in the Grand Concourse of Grand Central Station to write this, but sitting is not particularly encouraged in the terminal. So my spastic thumb via iPhone on the train will have to do.

I'd also like to say ole George, my wily ancestor, was waiting for me at the New York Public Library in velvet waistcoat and breeches, but he was not.

I'd like to say he was there to greet me in the lobby of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, but alas, he remained the furtive triple-great grandfather that he is.

Researchers are essentially optimists. Which is why we read and scroll microfiche, pay money for fruitless document hunts, scour books (get sidetracked with the New York social register from 1904) and read stuff until our eyes can take it no more.

I'd like to say I have a lot of great stuff scrawled into my notebooks, but in truth there are just two things: the name of a guy who knows from early New York churches (this could be big) and record of Aunt Geraldine teaching at P.S. 50 in 1905.

Genealogy is rarely about the home run. Sometimes a crack at the bat is all we get. So we keep running.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Happy Birthday, my brother.

With love (and heartfelt thanks for the great week!)


Friday, April 12, 2013


We are in New York for a few days, so this post for Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday will be more imagery than fabu description, mainly because I cannot figure out how to write on this here crazy iPad. (Being undone by machines is maddening. Plus we are off to the Guggenheim shortly, and I don't have the patience to figure out how to placate the computer gods.)

These pictures were taken in Queens in the neighborhood of Astoria, a hopping place filled with the world.

Loved it.

The station by the 30th Avenue elevated train are the first two shots, followed by store signage and a really great street light.

Whatever you are doing this week, don't forget to look up.

Monday, April 8, 2013


April is showering today, so the world should start to green up.

The squirrels are particularly ecstatic about the rain. They skulk in our backyard waiting for the few pathetic tulips to reappear so they can snap their heads off.


I'm going to leave these by the window just to torment them.

(The vase was a wedding gift to my mother in 1943. It looks even better wearing daffodils.)

Meanwhile, we are off on a getaway this week to visit Stephen, Kevin and Bailey, with side trips planned to the Merchant's House, Broadway, and the library

While I am always a grateful and enthusiastic sightseer, I am particularly excited by the prospect of the NYPL visit because I have been trying to hunt down my grandfather's great-grandfather. He is an elusive guy whose paper trail may be waiting for me in the stacks. And because I know you guys are super excited about reading about my ancestors, I will do my best to check in with you this week on my progress with George, War of 1812 veteran and genealogical brick wall.

Happy Spring and safe travels to everyone everywhere, especially to Andy, who will travel 7400+ miles to the center of Asia next week. God bless you and keep you, my friend.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Touch Up

As you may recall, it's been photo central 'round these here parts. All winter, I've been pasting 125 years of photographs into albums. That's a lot of HGTV listening, photo cornering and observing my posterior spill over its banks while sitting and piecing together genealogies and chronology.

I can sit no longer, having created five huge albums of family history. There is still a tonnage of pictures from 1980 onward. (Note to my darling children: they will be a box in the basement with your names and the word "sorry" on it. Despite what you may think, I cannot do everything. )

With family photographs on the brain, I happened to notice that one of me and my mother had deteriorated in spectacular fashion. Dissolving, creased, and torn, it looked even older than I am  it is:

(And I've been careful with the photographs from my side of the family.)

I learned from a friend that Colbert Custom Framing in Naperville restores old photos very reasonably. They will do it for you or you can steer your own Photoshop ship right in their store.

Needless to say, Christy worked her magic on this moment from 1959 in front of the apartment in New York where I grew up. Thanks to her mad skills, Mom and I now look like this:
I think we all need more Photoshop in our lives, don't you?

In true HGTV fashion, here's the before and after:

There just aren't that many pictures of me with my mother, because she was almost always the one behind the Brownie box camera. On this February day, my godmother, Betsy, took the picture, according to the careful handwriting on the back.

I think we turned out quite well.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I wasn't perked to promote Colbert's. I'm just tickled to find a place close to home that does such smart work so reasonably. Rah.)

Each week, Naperville Now participates in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. See what others have to say about the letter T here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

And Pouf, She's Gone

How to get ready for Easter Sunday:
Tights, check.
White shoes, check.
Pouffy dress and shrug, check.
Foil-wrapped chocolate bunny in right hand unnoticed by Mom, check.

By the time Betsy rounded up her littlest chick, she was enjoying her treat behind the bedroom curtains.

The dress made it through mostly unfrosted.

Hope everyone enjoyed the day. We sure did.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter

Nothing says "Happy Easter" quite like hunting for eggs hardly hidden on the prairie while wearing your snow boots, parka and mittens.

Remembering Easter 1988, our first in Naperville.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Sculpture

I've had occasion to go through some pictures that I took in France a few years ago and found this for my contribution to Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday:

The letter was part of a larger sculpture in the town of Vence, located between Nice and Antibes. (I bet you knew that already.)  I think we were dashing, so I didn't have time to find a better angle to capture the whole shebang. Being partial to this particular letter, I snapped and moved on, probably to another glass of rosé across town.

Later on, we returned to this charming place to hear a string concert given by German musicians in the local church. You can see a placard promoting the event in the store window, just behind the picket fence.

As we listened to the musicians play through Vivaldi's The Four Seasons (in what can only be described as an acoustical heaven), I read the many engraved names of soldiers and nurses from Vence lost to the First World War, a silent roll call amidst this magnificent music, which was prayer unto itself.

You can glory in Vivaldi's work here.

Each week, Naperville Now participates in Alphabe-Thursday. See what others have to say about the letter S here.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Naperville Now apologizes for being a little on the lazy side of things. The gray and cold have sapped whatever inspiration I need to stay on top of this here little blog project.

As of today, however, I am feeling HUGELY enthusiastic. And here's pourquoi.

We are headed back to this:

And this:
And lots of this:
And this:

Oui, oui! We are going to France in October! Probably not bathing suit weather in Nice that time of year, but isn't that a bonus on any continent?

Merci to Kévin and Etienne for including us in this first autumnal voyage to the splendiferous (and I do mean splendiferous) part of the world that is southeastern France.

Let the Mistral blow if it must, we will not care. For we will be in France.

(Thank you for indulging this poor Francophile her pirouette of happiness. I'll bring 'ya back a croissant, I promise.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013


In honor of this week's lesson on the letter R over by Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday, I offer the word random, a state of mind/being/thinking that seems to be happening to me a lot lately. 

Drinking champagne at last night's book club didn't help.

Bubbly, awesome snacks and literary discussion rule the nights when we meet. If you don't have a club, invite your pals/random strangers and start one. Need book recommendations? The Snow Child by Ivey. The Member of the Wedding by McCullers. Olive Kitteridge by Strout. A start. 

You're welcome. 

My mother's vacuum cleaner, alive and well and living at the Home Show at Kane County last week.

A vendor had this beauty on display. It stopped traffic.  Then he tried to sell me a $2400 vacuum system. I just wanted the Electrolux. That chrome is irresistible.

(Sorry for the blur. I was so tickled with the backstory on these jeans that I couldn't keep my hands still.)

Last week, we were shopping en masse on 75th Street. Our daughter picked up darling outfits for the kids (spring break looms), among them these jeans with the sparkly belt.

Betsy got everything home and went to pre-wash her haul, pausing just long enough to call me and say, "Remember those jeans I picked out for Charley? They say dry-clean only! Who sends four-inch pants to the cleaners?"

They came through the wash just fine.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Will It Never End?

I received a furious email from my pal Sally, who lives even farther north in this world than I do.
After vowing to embrace the winter this year (which I have been very successful at, I might add), I am now officially into "screw this, it's past time for spring to show itself." 
Aaack! So on that page. 


And yet, despite the sleety mess that currently covers my neck of the woods, I could discern a cloud of something green.

Moss? Snow moss? Fungus-that-will-kill-everything-in-the-garden-this-year-bwah-haa-haa-haa?


Luckily, I have friends with actual garden knowledge who will identify this for me.

As for this, this I remember. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Thanks to Steve Jobs, we don't need Cheerios and crayons anymore. An iPhone is almost all it takes to keep everyone occupied until the DinoBites arrive.

There's a phone app called Gas Buddy, which Zachary uses to help Gramps hunt for the cheapest gas in Naperville. I've never used this app, so I can only testify to its soothing powers. On both of them.

There's the Camera Roll, of course, where pictures and videos are stored. Zach and Charley love this because they are the stars of 98 percent of it. Who doesn't like to look back on one's life two weeks ago and reminisce?

These kids hold these gadgets in near-reverence, for it is their go-to to toy within minutes of us sitting down to order.

And then there's the element of child-as-photographer. This may be the best app of all.

We can talk lighting and composition later.

Meanwhile, here's to calm at all dinner tables. And encouraging budgeting and art in one fell swoop.

Each week Naperville Now participates in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. See what others have to say about the letter Q here.

Monday, March 11, 2013


This past weekend, we ducked out for a second and discovered Crown Candy Kitchen, St. Louis' oldest soda fountain.

Malts and Phosphates and Newports*, oh my!

But first, the chocolates. 

Armies of solid bunnies, stacked on glass shelves from one end of the counter to the other. All made right there in the kitchen.


Even white chocolate crosses, which I've never seen before.

I was so preoccupied with admiring what they create in this 100-year-old kitchen that I forgot to buy anything solid. Instead, I became captive to the menu:

Chocolate malt for me. No, pineapple. Wait, cherry. Or maybe chocolate banana (I don't even like banana). Okay, make it marshmallow and chocolate. I think.

My mother, a St. Louis girl, told me when she was a child, her family received a gift of a gigantic chocolate bunny (or possibly pig, I can't remember). Her father used a hammer to chisel bits of it for their dessert throughout the coming months.

I remember being astounded that there once existed chocolate so big, it couldn't possibly be eaten in two bites, the only kind of chocolate I was familiar with. This was the very definition of joy, of mouth-watering heaven -- an epic, never-ending chocolate dessert that may have had its start in Old North St. Louis.

Ultimately, to the sorrow of everyone, the bunny/pig had to be pitched as summer descended in that pre-air-conditioned world.

On this day, we left in driving rain, but with a great view to the city.

Coincidence the Gateway Arch resembles a bunny hop trajectory? I think not.

*Apparently a Newport is a milkshake with added whipped cream and nuts. Being extremely health-conscious, we chose the way-better-for-you malts.