Two Homegrown Events for Earth Day


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, March 30, 2017

What is the landscape look like for you this week? A desert, a beach, white powder on a mountain side, a museum or maybe a water park?

Having children in our public schools, I know that it’s spring break for Hinsdale School District 181, and a few of our school friends are on a beach in Florida, some are on the ski slopes in Colorado and Canada. A picture of one of our friends on Facebook showed their family in the Scottsdale desert. Another picture artistically captures a Corona, with lime in the foreground and beach and feet in the background.

Meanwhile –  a freight train passed by my office in downtown Clarendon Hills today, and after several minutes the gate finally went up. A pretty typical scenario – except that there were no cars waiting to cross the tracks afterwards. It was like I was in a ghost town with a train just passing through it.

When all those lucky vacationers return to town from their fun in the sun and snow, we will have a few short weeks until our landscapes and yards here in the Midwest explode into spring, and into an uncontrollable jungle. Now is the time to seize the moment, start planning and line up your service partners for your outdoor spring landscaping projects. If you are installing a new patio or deck, or just trimming some of your trees and bushes, we all know that the landscapers get busy all at the same time.

It was a year last October when we moved from our home, just two blocks away from where we currently live. We spent a considerable amount of energy thinking and working through the landscape design of our old residence, so we wanted to give at least a full season before we embarked on any new projects for our new home. We decided to enjoy and live in the home for at least a year, and to see how we used it before changing anything. For us, entertaining guest is important, and because the home came complete with a pool, there was a lot to think about as far as a landscape design.

And because I love anything to do with landscape design –  especially the progress that comes with it -, we hired a talented and artistic landscape architect to present ideas that we could implement in time. We are now in the middle of that planning, and are almost ready to move forward with some projects. We can’t do it all on our own, and because I know that my service partners are going to be busy, I’m getting on their schedule now – and so should you!

Speaking of planning – The village of Clarendon Hills has been planning the groundbreaking celebration for the Richmond Education Gardens and Apiary, which will be held at 10 am to noon on Saturday, April 22.

Located just West of the police station and public works facility is a space owned by the villages of Westmont and Clarendon Hills. The gardens are designed to educate our community about our environment and natural and organic gardening. There will be rain gardens, native vegetables, wildflowers, a butterfly garden — and even a collection of beehives. This is an exciting project that will benefit our schools and our community. At the celebration, activities will include tours of the garden and apiary, story reading by The Birches, and the Clarendon Hills Public Library will supply animal balloons. To learn more about the project, go to http://www.richmond gardens.org

You might need to divide your time on April 22: The Park District of Clarendon Hills is also hosting its Earth Day event at Prospect Park Pavilion. Residents will enjoy a fun morning making crafts from recycled items, building birdhouses, planting flowers, playing some games and getting their faces painted by our friendly Park District friends!

Welcome home!

We were that family that got away for a few days at the water-park, and now it’s time to start planning, and to start digging in the dirt.

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

 

The Great Easter Egg Hunt


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, April 13, 2017

Dozens of kids lined up at the south edge of Steves Park, armed with baskets in hand, and ready to pounce on the first colored egg their little eyes could spy. The anticipation was getting the best of a few, and there were some meltdowns in the crowd. Knowing the older kids would just plow over the toddlers if they were all sent out together, the organizers of the event let loose the 5-year-pld and under group first. It was by far the largest wave of children, and marking the start of the great Easter egg hunt.

These toddlers didn’t need an adult to help locate their prize – the colorful blue, pink, orange, yellow and purple eggs were everywhere the eye could see. But most had a parent in tow to help keep the focus, and to save them from devouring all the jelly beans, chocolates and whatever morsels they could eat while on the run.

The next couple of waves set free were older; these were cognizant of the brief announcement that came from the man with the microphone. He explained there were a few golden eggs containing a fresh $50 dollar bill. The finder of these golden eggs could do whatever they desired with the money (with parental permission of course). And for these kids, that money would buy a lot more fun on their itunes account, or a new game for their Xbox. For the Walker Elementary parents who promoted the hunt, they knew how to get the older siblings running at this early hour of the morning – throw in some gold with a little green incentive!

The good news is, the Clarendon Hills Park District is hosting its’ Annual Easter Egg Hunt tomorrow – Friday, April 14 at 10:50 – in Prospect Park (not at Steves Park!). Children from 3-12 years of age are encouraged to bring a basket to hold all of the colorful eggs they collect. The park district not saying what special prizes are in the eggs just yet, but there will be something special for sure (maybe a $50 bill?)

If you are wondering where all those eggs come from, you can visit the Easter Bunny before the Egg Hunt, and ask him for yourself. He will be at a breakfast served by our Park District friends from 8:30-10AM. The famous park District face painters and tatoos artist will be there with “washable” tatoos.

Like most Easter egg hunts, the one hosted a few years ago at Steves Park was well-attended, the weather held up perfectly, and no one got ran over. The parents were brilliant to sweeten the pot with the golden eggs. Come to think of it, the pot was sweetened for the adults too – a buffet table was full of lots of food, and an abundant of garnish for the well-received brunch cocktails. What a great town we live in – it’s great to share these fun, family events with our neighbors, right in our own community.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

Ten measures of grace for us, and for our neighbors


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, March 16, 2017

I’ve been thinking about perceptions lately, and how they are playing out between folks in Clarendon Hills and the people in the Village of Hinsdale. I’ve heard a lot of opinions over the years about the perceived differences each town has, and what they liked, or disliked about their respective villages. Some perceptions are healthy, and some are not.

With these differences, often comes competition. I’ve heard people arguing that Aguamiel is more authentic than both Cine and Casa Margarita in Hinsdale, or that Dip & Dogs has better ice cream than The Daily Scoop. (Just for the record, I think the moose tracks at Scoop is the best.) But I’ve also heard some chatter coming from Hinsdale, that there isn’t a desire to support Clarendon Hills anymore, and that bothers me.

Unfortunately, a more serious argument between our two towns has begun. A lawsuit filed on Dec. 28 by five Clarendon Hills residence against Hinsdale District 181, threatens to destroy the interwoven social, economic and educational fabric that we have enjoyed for so long. A lawsuit by people in our own town, will most likely stop the building of the middle school for Hinsdale children, at least for now.

For the record, this is not a political column, but one written out of concern about what the lawsuit looks like to our sister town. The perception is that we don’t care about the greater good of the school district, and for what is good for Hinsdale. And the reality of it is, there are five people who are perceived as representing one voice for most of Clarendon Hills.

The similarities and roots run deep interconnecting the two respective towns. It seems as there are too-many-to-count 2nd and 3rd generation Hinsdalean’s living in Clarendon Hills, and probably the same amount who grew up here, and move to our neighboring town to the east. My wife and many of her childhood friends from Hinsdale are a good example of adults who have made their homes in our community. It’s like our fabric is interwoven generationally.

The amount of friends we have in Hinsdale continue to grow, primarily because our children play sports, take classes at The Community House, or go to church and school together. There are a vast many of outlets for our two towns to connect and raise families together.

Further differences also make us unique. The biggest difference is that Hinsdale is actually bigger; it’s more than double Clarendon Hills in terms of area and population. Their downtown business district is at least four times the size of ours, and with all of their lovely specialty shops, and restaurants, they have more choices than we do. Ours is small and quaint and theirs is quaint and large.

It shouldn’t be hard to figure out where most the money for our schools comes from, and that the larger town gave multiple times aggregately in taxes to build three new schools we enjoy here in our town, and they may not get to enjoy the same.

It’s interesting that our governments work together for the good of the cause. Did you know that our fire departments, when needed, support and show up to each other’s emergency calls? At one time, they tried (unsuccessfully) to merge together. It was a great example of being willing to help each other, and save on resources.

Our schools are also a good example of sharing cost and resources with our neighbors, and I hope that we can continue to do so.

I’ve heard it said that you should give an measure of grace with everyone you know, and always give an extra ten to your neighbors. I hope that the people of Clarendon Hills will let our neighbors in Hinsdale know that we care about them, and request that extra measure for us, and for the five other voices.

“Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the sombre colours are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision.”

― Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

 


A Lenten Devotional – Ashes and Dirt, and a Fresh New Focus


“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

If you have ever watched your own children kneel and receive the ashes smeared on their foreheads in a form of a cross, it’s a humbling sight. The realization of knowing that my own destiny on earth, and those who I love, are going to eventually be part of its dirt, helps me to be more centered and focused on important things. The journey of Lent began yesterday with Ash Wednesday, and will end the Thursday before Good Friday and Easter, a little over 40 days later.

For many of us, it actually began with Fat Tuesday.

Since the Lenten season is about self-denial, prayer, repentance, and aligning oneself with God’s direction, the (almost out of control) ramp up on excesses of food, drink and indulgence culminates in a need to hit the reset button. Admittedly, I oftentimes need this hard stop of life’s luxuries to help me get back into perspective with God’s plan for my life.

I not alone, am I?

I know a few people (one very close to me) who are very disciplined with their consumption habits. Their weight doesn’t fluctuate more than 2 to 3 pounds during the year. They take what they need, and leave the rest behind – on the plate.

I’m not like that.

Consuming a lot is a hard habit to break. In my earlier years, and being a former football player, I needed to consume a lot of food as part of my training. Eating a lot became almost burdensome to me. I don’t think I ate as much as Houston Texans All Pro defensive end JJ Watts, who reportedly eats between 6000 and 9000 calories a day, but I might have been close to it. Like me, it will be hard for him when he’s finished with football.

Lent is not about dieting.

But through a slowing down and examining ones consumption habits, it might expose our need to fill the empty void or a somewhat narcissistic focus on the most important and false gods in our lives: ourselves. By this time of year, I’ve usually gone off the rails, and I’m looking forward to getting back on track, and to return to God with a fresh new focus.

Maybe Lent is about second chances.

Every year, we get this season to reflect on where we’ve been, and to examine if our values and priorities actually match up to what God’s has in store for us. It’s the re-set button that we’re longing to have. Lent is a six-week journey to take the focus off of ourselves, and put the focus on the one who deserves it.

The fallacy about second chances is that we need to do work to be in God’s favor; – in reality, Christ did all the work for us on the cross. It is by grace, and through faith that we are aligned to God. The Lenten journey might be less about us, and more about realizing who He is.

So if you notice some ashes on the unwashed foreheads today, just remember, on this earth, we’re all on track for the same destiny.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 27 years, and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514.

His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

Ashes and Dirt

Pink Influencers – What drives the evolving design trends?


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, February 16, 2017

I recently read a story about a man who bought a mid-century Chicago bungalow from the original owner, who apparently never moved into the home. For some undisclosed reason, it was left vacant more than 50 years. It was like the new owner had purchased a piece of history that was perfectly preserved in museum-like condition. The kitchen was never used, and still had the original manuals taped to the appliances. I was fascinated to find out that this state-of-the-art kitchen was almost entirely pink; it’s countertop was pink, the sink was pink and even the GE appliances were accented in pink.

Design trends have piqued my interest lately, so I’ve been studying the history of how our ideas have evolved throughout the 20th century., figuring that anything that be can learned about the present or future, is better explained by our past.

Much of our design trends came out of function, not style, and up until the 1920’s, designing one’s home was left for the rich and affluent. So how did we get to this point in history that many home interiors look so similar? Who influenced us with the modern farmhouse, white kitchens, white subway tile, marble counters and gray walls (specifically Benjamin Moore – Revere Pewter HC-172)?

I’m interested to know where the trends began and who started them.

Certainly that 1950 pink kitchen was influenced by Mamie Eisenhower. It was the first lady’s favorite color and well known to American women at the time. She was such a pink influencer, while her husband, Dwight D. Eisenhower was our president, that the press began calling the White House “the pink palace”. Without even having a social sharing platform like Pinterest, she was the reason so many homes around the country were filled with pink.

So who is influencing us today?

Maybe it comes from the California designers, or from Pinterest, or a it might come from plethora of magazines that promote the sale of new building products.

My Houzz.com account recently sent me a “push” notification with its 2017 predictions for paint colors, lighting, hardware and other home design ideas. Do they have their finger on the proverbial fashion pulse? I actually do love the Houzz Web site, because it allows you to store pictures and ideas of projects that you’re dreaming of doing in the future, but since they sell products and services, they might be just a little bias.

Having moved into our home in October 2015, we wanted to live in the space for at least a year before making any changes. The former owners had meticulously built the home in 1998, custom for themselves, and their three children. It is a wonderfully warm and inviting family home, but it is now 19 years old, and we are considering some changes. I would like to integrate more smart-home technology, so it will serve our lifestyle better, but we’re trying to avoid making changes that will soon be gone with the next trend. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t oppose the fashionable and trendy, but by the time we downsize, chances are high that the changes we make today will go over then like the pink of the 1950’s.

Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The architect must be a prophet… a prophet in the true sense of the term… if he can’t see at least ten years ahead don’t call him an architect.”

Who knows how long the current trends will last, and if gray will be gone today or tomorrow, but according to Houze.com, Jewel tones are on their way in, and so are gold fixtures. Maybe even the pink kitchens will too.

Who is influencing us today? Will it be Melania Trump?

I think it might just be, each other.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 27 years, and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514.

His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

Pink Influencers

Pink Influencers

Pink Influencers

Pink Influencers

Pink Influencers

Pink Influencers

Pink Influencers

My Simple Little Town


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, February 2, 2017

For the folks who rack up the miles while globetrotting all over the planet, you get to stay in those wonderful hotel rooms, and you go to business dinners in those fantastic restaurants. You must think my simple existence here in Clarendon Hills is pretty dull. My occupation doesn’t take me all over the place, like you, and like many of my friends. Yes, I retreat occasionally to Florida, but for most of the time, I stay put in our small town. My car’s odometer doesn’t change all that much, because I leave it parked at home, and walk just one block to my office into town. When I have an appointment outside of my office, I’ll walk back and get my car, as if it was parked in a parking lot.

The only miles I rack up are on my credit card, and that is from buying too much stuff at Costco.

With the extra time spend around around town, I oftentimes stare out my office window and dream. I dream about what our downtown will become, and how it will look in the future. I wonder what kinds of businesses would do well, and we consumers would want here. There has been plenty of change lately, too, and with recent vacancies, come new opportunities. It has got me thinking about the possibilities.

With after 30 years at one location, (for now) Quinn’s is out, opening up a retail space in the #1 space in town.

I can’t help but to envision that building having some new windows, a new sign and a business where it will not only survive, but thrive, (I really do see this building from my office window, every day). Maybe another sandwich shop or a bourbon tasting room?

This space has such a prominent location that it would be fantastic to have a great retailer there to help encourage and be an ambassador for more retailers and patrons to come into town.

Maybe Quinn’s will re-open after all. There has been some talk lately that Quinn’s was looking to stay. Would the town support it re-opening? They were in the space for 30 years, so it would kind of be a nostalgic comeback.

On December 31st, Scapa Italian Kitchen left a void – and left a beautiful space – at 1 Walker Ave.

The 1 Walker building is arguably the nicest, if not the biggest venue around, having the capacity to host large parties and gatherings. So many of us have been to after-hour functions and special occasions there, and for a while, the space was the go-to location for Clarendon Hills families. Now that gift cards have (hopefully) been reimbursed, surely a new and exciting restaurant will want this place, right? Does anyone remember Soul Restaurant, which occupied the space before Scapa? What would you want there now?

And then there’s the property that was previous home to Mario’s (or The Hills, or whatever you want to call it) at 34 S Prospect Ave.

This space left a gaping hole on the side end of town. I dream of an Irish pub-restaurant, or a really good burger joint, where you walk in anytime and meet friends. Many people have wanted to bring Mike LaGrange back to town to revive the old Delizioso’s Pizza. It was recently told to me that a new pizza restaurant will open this coming spring called, Brama La Pizza.

It won’t be long until that corner around Prospect, Park and Walker Aves. will look much different, and more modern. The residential building behind Mario’s will be built soon, and will replace a longstanding eyesore of a vacant piece of land. The Fifth Third building is now empty but hopefully a new business will value the people who take up residence next door, and they will support and shop in town in turn.

From my window, I can see the old Village Art’s building, which sat next to the police station. I’m still hoping for a beautiful restaurant, a gazebo and gardens to meander. I’m wondering, like you, what will become of it?

So when you return home from your trip –  maybe one day soon -, we will have more of those fantastic places for me, and you to go, right in our own simple, little town.

Clarendon Hills

My Simple Little Town

A Day Off – What does MLK mean to us


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, January 19, 2017

How has MLK changed us?

This past Monday was Martin Luther King Jr.’s (MLK) birthday. We were enjoying a day off of school, and I wondered what the holiday meant to my family, and to others I know. I began noticing my Facebook feed leading up today were spattered with MLK tributes and quotes. There were a few longer ramblings speaking out against the social injustices and discrimination, so it was easy to see that on social media this was an important holiday to people I know.

To find out what my children thought, I decided to interview all four of them separately. I would ask: “What do you know about MLK, and what does this day mean to you?” A little disclosure here – I took each of them away from playing games on the Nintendo and X-box. They were interested in the questions but more interested in getting back to the games.

Here were some of their answers:

“We are celebrating him and his ‘I have a dream speech’, and that he changed the rules about dark and white people. And sitting on the bus, dark people don’t have to give up their seats.”

“I read a book about him and he was a good leader, and helped people who were mistreated. He helped our world be different so that everyone would be treated equally.”

“He was great because he helped all people, and was a protector.

My oldest child said’ “Blacks were freed but were still segregated, and he was a great person in the Civil Rights movement to help start that change. He went against the rules of society and paved the path for others to speak out.  

After my deposition of their young minds, (and in their small world) I don’t think they can fully understand the meaning of discrimination – nor do they believe segregation still exist.

Growing up in Indianapolis, in my high school had a demographic split of around 60 percent white, and 40 percent black. I certainly had an opportunity for a good mix of cultural experiences. As I went off to college, I had roommates of color throughout. With that said, I still don’t know what it would be like to walk in the shoes of an African-American – to be denied service, routinely pulled over, or to be scrutinized by the color of my skin. I cannot even begin to understand what that is like, and it’s simply not my world.

I wonder if today’s segregation is now a symptom of lack of opportunities, and is undergirded by discrimination. Yes, we see there are now football coaches, quarterbacks and even a president who is black. These achievements have all happened in my lifetime, but there are so many industries where the glass ceiling is still a reality for many today.

I know that MLK’s work is not yet done – especially when we see pockets of poverty around us and where there is limited opportunities for these folks. The city of Chicago deciding to eliminate many of the low-income housing options forced a lot of these residents to find homes in Dupage County.

You don’t need to look far to find opportunities to continue the work of MLK.

Many people in our community are involved in a charitable organization called Willowbrook Corner. Located in unincorporated areas near Interstate 55 and IL. Rte. 83, Willowbrook Corner is an outreach of The Community House in Hinsdale, providing academic tutoring and social support to local at-risk youth and families.

Another pocket that gaining traction is known as the Roosevelt Road Initiative. My home church is involved in this venture, and is partnering with organizations and people to develop sustainable relationships so that folks in need get the education and opportunity that MLK had hoped for.

Helping people to have more opportunities and to be treated as equal is just the beginning, and my hope is that my children will one day see a new reality – a reality that MLK saw at the mountain-top.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” MLK

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

Courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution King family portrait: The last official portrait taken of the entire family. Photo was taken in the study of Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1966. From left are Dexter King, Yolanda King (standing next to MLK), Martin Luther King Jr., Bernice King (sitting on Coretta's lap), Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King III.

Courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
King family portrait: The last official portrait taken of the entire family. Photo was taken in the study of Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1966. From left are Dexter King, Yolanda King (standing next to MLK), Martin Luther King Jr., Bernice King (sitting on Coretta’s lap), Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King III.