Magical summers

Many Baby Boomers growing up did not always have their summers planned with vacations. Some went to summer camp and many, like me, waited anxiously for best friends to get home from camp so we could play or create the next adventure. Some of us had no place to go during the summer with the exemption of exploring the neighborhood because we did have full freedom to go outside and play on a nice day.  Full freedom to explore and be back by 6 for dinner or for some until the street lights came on. No fear of stranger… danger!

Sometimes, we would go to the local playground or city park such as Chicago’s Bessemer which had a community pool or Stoney Island Park, which was popular for its ball fields, now known as Jessie Owen Park on the South Side of Chicago. Of course, riding our bikes(without helmets) often doing all sorts of stunts to get there. Many families had plastic, above ground pools in their backyard…not so different as those today.  The backyard sprinklers were are last resort but always fun once turned on. We never got sick drinking from the hoses either. Playing hopscotch, kick the can, red light, green light, red rover, Chinese jump rope, jacks( inside and out.)

I am not sure if it initially came from boredom or just not sure what to explore next but we produced plays, musicals and all sorts of summer shows for our families. One my friends and I did was about Betsy Ross and instead of the infamous lemonade s tand we re-created the Sip and Stir on a front porch which was originally an ice cream shop in Old Town. We made chocolate shakes and decorated the porch with tissue flowers. Though unless we had help from a Mom, we had to make sure that cooler was stocked with ice.

If in junior high and a Chicago city kid, sometimes we would ride the local Illinois Central Train downtown for lunch in the Narcissus room at Marshall Fields. Sometimes we would ride the bus to Evergreen Plaza in Evergreen Park on the west side; one of the first indoor malls.

However, screens did come into play when it was a rainy day. You could select from 3- 5 channels. If it was Saturday morning, you had a variety of cartoons to choose. Prime television was generally in the evening and reserved as a family event after your friends returned home. Board games or blind mans bluff were always an option and some of us had indoor ping pong or pool tables that we were allowed to play in the cooler finished basement since some did not have air conditioning.

Saturday afternoons could offer corny black and white horror movies such as Attack of The Crab Monsters,Teenagers From Outer Space and I Was A Teenage Werewolf. This was all after adjusting the TV antennas which could take some time especially if weather was poor and Mom watching over you while you made Jiffy Pop, the best stove- top popcorn that you loved to gently slide back and forth over the burner and watch the foil expand to new heights. Evenings were always spent with my favorite paint by number set from Bargain Town or reading which was encouraged before I went to bed. We always took trips to the local Chicago Public Library branch. Today, I am an avid reader and love to paint for fun.

Raising children in the 1990’s actually was pretty similar to the 1960’s though there television sets had a lot more channels to select. And they still made Jiffy Pop and my kids loved to help. Personal computers were just showing up in homes and they were pretty bad. So were pagers used mainly for work and more Mom’s needed jobs. I still let my children take over the neighborhood on bikes.Though, they did not have the run of as many blocks like we did in the old days. They did play outside and established some creative plays to perform for parents. Games were similar like tag, Red Rover with the exception of Marco Polo, a new game at the pool. I found sometimes, as parents,we would get too involved in the preparation of games and adventures. Maybe,we should have taken a back seat more often and just watched them build their creativity and love for one another. A very difficult exercise.

Today, just give kids markers, chalk, paper, and even washable paint. Let them go for it outside. Give them boxes, paper towel rolls, saved cereal boxes, tape and let them create their own summer houses, vehicles or forts. Pull out old clothes, dresses and see what they can do. Let them play with their friends and learn together. As far as games,Duck, Duck Goose and Monkey in the Middle seems to be popular. Gathering by themselves to play without you is the best of time for your children during the summer.

But never limit your field trip trips to the local library. You can actually cook Jiffy Pop on the grill outside. And watch the entire shows and movies from the past on Netflix. Maybe true summer fun hasn’t changed that much after all.

Could the answer to affordable living lie with Airbnb?

JUNE 2019, UK: A recent study by leading travel comparison site dealchecker, analysed the cost of living across the USA. The study compared the average cost of renting an apartment vs Airbnb which uncovered that in Joliet, IL, AirBnB is an eye-watering 4% cheaper than renting.

Findings revealed that the estimated daily rental price is $39.83 vs Airbnb at $38.15 per night. The high rental charges for residents reflect the changes seen in the national average market, with increased rental rises across the entire country. According to Yardi Matrix apartment rent reached an all-time high of $1,405 in June 2018, an increase by 2.9 percent year over year, and by 0.9 percent ($12) month over month.

So savings are to be had in Joliet, but what if is not quite the place for you? The study shows that on average it is cheaper to live in an Airbnb versus traditional renting in 18 of the 21 cities analysed across Illinois state. In Chicago, IL one of the largest cities in the US, Airbnb is $38 cheaper than renting, a substantial 48% saving for the 2.7 million strong population.

In Aurora, the estimated rental price per night is $54.25 taking into account bills and living costs attached to traditional renting, whilst choosing to Airbnb hop could offer a 29% saving, costing on average $38.42 per night, a price difference of $15.

City/Arbnb Rental Price/ Price Percentage Difference/ Savings per night

Joliet: $38.15, $39.83, 48%, $1.68

Naperville: $46.00, $59.88, 23%, $13.88

Aurora: $38.42, $54.25, 29%, $15.83

Peoria: $33.86, $58.17, 42%, $24.31

Springfield: $32.39, $58.17, 44%, $25.88

Chicago: $41.30, $78.88, 48%, $37.58 (largest savings)

Further findings revealed that in fact, it is cheaper in a staggering 74% of the 1,127 cities analysed across the USA with five Illinois cities sitting in the top 100. Renters could be saving in Glenview, Carbondale, Urbana and Campaign.

Airbnb has been flying the flag for flexible apartment stay for over a decade and since it’s conception 2008 has taken the world by storm. In 2017, alone, a colossal $93 million dollars in net income was generated by the company. The concept was born out of not being able to afford apartment rental prices and embraces a nomadic lifestyle for those who enjoy the flexibility of short-term stays providing the opportunity to explore different areas within a state, city or country.

For a generation of digital nomads where the appeal lies with fluidity in both work and living, it offers a sense of freedom and empowerment and the rise in choosing this way of life has coincided with the rapid global rise of remote work which is fast becoming a viable way to work, especially across global tech companies. This study has shown that Airbnb could become a viable living option in a climate of increased rental prices across the USA offering both affordability and flexibility to future generations.

Display patriotic TIKI torches for the Fourth of July

The best Fourth of July celebrations were at home or in the backyard of friends and family. Though when I was a child, it was easy to obtain sparklers which was our source of light along with the fading light of lightening bugs. Dad would handle a few, simple, fireworks but it was the sparklers in our hands that excited us the most. Then, as the mosquitoes began to bite, we would go inside and just watch the fireworks on TV since I was a Chicago city kid.

After moving to the suburbs and having my own children, once, again, we always celebrated Fourth of July in the backyard with neighbors though I don’t remember much about sparklers since those were not as easy to purchase as in the old days. Today, even as adults, my children and I can watch the suburban town fireworks from our backyard though we sometimes have to re-arrange our chairs away from the towering trees. Now, to add to our evening, we can establish a patriotic flare with a festive American Bamboo Torch from TIKI. Filled with the TIKI Brand Bite Fighter Torch Fuel, the easy to pour bottle really keeps the mosquitoes; lasting for several hours.

If you want to add a flame to a tabletop, the adjustable flame glass table torch( gold-dipped) is a beautiful addition to your yard or porch. TIKI torches truly create an outdoor oasis especially in celebration of the Fourth of July. Over fifty five items are available to choose as well as unique design idea options for your backyard or small porch on their website. Enjoy free shipping and join the TIKI Brand email list to get the latest news and offers.

When you gather on the Fourth with family and friends, it is a wonderful time to reflect on what we have accomplished as people, as a country, the continued freedom we have together and the simple beauties that surround us.

Happy Fourth of July from TIKI!

My Dad, Happy Fathers Day

When I looked up the definition of father, I was amazed at how many categorized fathers we have today. From the weekend/holiday fathersurprised father, stepfathersecond father to just mothers partner or husband; all of which define “the Dad”.  And, believe it or not, there is the DI Dad who is the social/legal father of children produced via donor insemination.

Father is also considered a founder of a body of knowledge or institution like George Washington; the Father of Our Country. And now I can understand why fathers are seen as authority figures and are suppose to possess experience and knowledge in life to pass onto others. That is what being a father is about; the active father who speaks of wisdom and guidance.

My father passed away when I was twelve and Fathers Day was not a Hallmark occasion that was at the top of my list. He was several years older than my Mom and always wanted a little girl. My mother never re-married and someone said that a father is a girl’s first love. Only he could push me on my new swing set at our home in Chicago.

With time, I realized my father, John, was gone and could not be replaced though I would always be grateful for the strong memories of his love for me. Some didn’t have any example in their lives. And as the years passed, I figured out that I could have as many fathers as I wanted; a trusted male friend who nurtures and helps you live a more fulfilling life.

They can be a neighbor that offers support when you struggle, comfort when you are down and their snow blower when there is a foot of snow in your driveway. They can be a manager who reminds you that you are truly worth it regardless of your awkward stumbles at work. They can be a co-worker that offers you a smile, something to laugh at, thumbs up and a cup of coffee when you are having a bad day.

They can be a brother who offers unconditional love and commitment regardless of how you frustrate him. They can be any relative who is protective, concerned and sees your success rather than incompetence. They can be your best friend’s father who spent hours tutoring you in math and building your self-esteem in a subject you never thought possible.

They can be the salesman or contractor that is really looking out for your safety and best interests. They can be your postman who always makes sure your mail is delivered on time and doesn’t rush off without saying hello. They can be teachers and role models to all children of any age and family.

Most of all, they can be the one above…you may not be able to see, but truly loves you.

(Re-posted-originally published June 17, 2018)

Dr Michelle Radwanski – Argonne Animal Hospital: A true gift

I sat in the chair in my living room rocking him gently, as he rested his face in my neck, purring.  For eighteen years, we had done this routine when he was sick or just needed special attention but this time I was deeply sobbing knowing what the rest of the day might bring.  He was seeing a new vet in a few hours. She was a Mom to a student at school and we talked about Joe Bo briefly on a school field trip.

We waited in the exam room, Len and I, taking turns holding him and I thought of our last cat who was the same age when she had died at home two years before. It was a holiday weekend and horrible to watch her fail without a vet’s assistance.

Dr. Radwanski, owner of Argonne Animal Hospital in Lemont, Illinois, walked in ready to examine Joe Bo. She had a thorough knowledge of explaining what was happening with the cat as she gently explored his body especially for not having seen him before or any  past veterinarian records. She was extremely skilled in determining that he was in his declining days as she communicated clearly and also mentioned some medical options that may prolong his life a few days, a few months. However, we knew as a family with advice from Dr. Radwanski, that euthanasia was best for him and the procedure was completed that day without pain. Joe Bo’s quality of life had been greatly reduced and the doctor cared only about his welfare and that he did not suffer any further.

Dr Radwanski completed her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine with honors in 2000 at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Since then, she has over 18 years of experience caring for animals in the western suburbs of Chicago. She is skilled in diagnostics, anesthetics, surgical, and dental procedures. She holds a special interest in preventative medicine, senior care, dermatology, pain management, and dentistry. Most of all, she has become a respected community veterinarian.

A true angel was brought into our lives that day in Dr Radwanski at Argonne Animal Hospital as we said goodbye to Joe Bo. If we get another kitten or maybe a puppy, he or she will be immediately attended by the doctor for the first annual exam, crisis, or whatever comes first. There are no other words to express her honest love and true calling for the animals she treats.

Please feel free to call her office anytime or visit her website at argonneanimalhospital.com

Memorial Day

By Caryl Clem:

Signs announce parade date, time information

Reminders of a deeper message

Our military personnel’s sacrifice and dedication

Battles remains, bloody carnage

Countless names and bodies

Final testament to fighting  bravely.

For those lost, not found, a painful memory.

 

Celebrate that their values did not perish

Invest in love, faith, hope and charity

Live these values with appreciation

So our freedoms and choices flourish.

 

Pay tribute to fallen soldiers in our military forces.

They insured Democracy is our past and future tense.

 

For Moms

By Caryl Clem

Babies, a magical blend of heaven and earth

Bring joy, laughter and mirth

As we re-discover life again

In your baby’s eyes, smiles or grin.

 

A world of adventure is waiting for both of you

Filled with love that spans every rainbows hue

Efforts spent are worth the reward

Life is all about moving forward.

 

New Years’ Revelation

By Caryl Clem:

Older bathroom scale, obvious time for an update

Compared to previous amounts, registers the wrong weight.

My washer and dryer, schedule an examination

Faded, dull clothes, tight waistband frustration.

Bargains, coupons, tempting sale promotions

Replacing my wardrobe, a  logical conclusion.

Check the market for commendable detergents

Just need to find the correct cleaning ingredients.

To protect my bright form fitting styles

The mirror test,  pass months later with smiles.

Athletic center nearby offering new membership deals

Tired after shopping, working out has no appeal.

Wall screen T.V. flashing adventurous sequels

I’m zestfully watching the good guy conquer evil.

Later, I’ll just eat just a little tasty snack

A new year tradition, cutting back.

Home for the holidays

By CARYL CLEM:

Festive holiday surround sound

Familiar refrains, bells and chimes

Baby, its cold outside, travel back to past times

Looking forward to being snowbound

Visiting with friends and family, staying warm.

Masterpiece art forms, radiant ornaments

Reflecting light and past traditions

Packages waiting for childlike astonishment

Glistening stars and snow, sparkling companions

Adorn the skies, trees, translucent accents.

Dine and enjoy once a year treats

Symbols of heritage and past sweets

Made with love and secret ingredients

While baking, unforgettable scents

Blend treasured old memories with new ones

Tell stories that tickle everyone’s funny bones.

Rejoice in the love that is shared

Stand united promoting everyone’s welfare.

Hold on to the holiday cheer through the New Year.

Generosity

By Caryl Clem:

Kindness and empathy spin

Words that make you grin.

Spreading mental sunshine

Spiritual goldmine.

 

Physical evidence of  caring

Charitable donation sharing

Multiple systems, non-profit versions

Human generosity, busy repairing

Play it forward, ease another’s burden.

 

Victims of major disasters crushed

By any Mother Nature’s devastation

Homesteads damaged or  broken

Victims feeling lost without protection.

Americans have a network to trust

Courageous trained rescue organizations

State to State Red Cross volunteers

Join Fire and Police Service workers

Create then secure a new beginning,

Human lifelines determined on winning.

 

I am thankful for educator’s ingenuity

Encouraging every student’s identity

Inspiring, planting the seed

Every student has the power to succeed.

 

Thankful for the spirit of generosity

Living on in human acts of charity.