Believe


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, December 8, 2016

The Conductor: Well, ya comin’?

The Boy: Where?

The Conductor: To the North Pole, of course! This is the Polar Express!

We sat in our seats and took the long trip up the mountain. It was a wild ride, and routinely had dips, twist and turns where it seemed impossible the train and it’s passengers would make it to the destination. You need a golden ticket to ride to the North Pole, right? Not to fear, the “conductors” came down the aisles with one for each of us – an authentic ticket, paper-punched with the word “believe”. And then, with another magic moment sequenced to music, the piping hot, hot chocolate was served to all of the attendees, while perfectly tracking with the movie – The Polar Express.

A few years ago, my family acted on a posted announcement that the Christian Church of Clarendon Hills was hosting a free interactive viewing of The Polar Express.

It was a well received invitation for many reasons. First of all, our daughter’s birthday was coming up soon. We knew that she loved the classic Christmas movie, and we were looking for a place large enough for a birthday party for 20 of her closest friends.

With it being wintertime (and the church within walking distance), we could have stumbled through a real polar blizzard if we absolutely needed to. It was the perfect venue to have her birthday bash!

After attending the viewing, I told their senior minister, Matthew Rogers, that the free event was a really great idea, and that it was such a gift to us and to the community. I know they’ve gifted other events over the years, including non-church meetings, for the Village of Clarendon Hills, a backdrop for the Westview Hills Middle School musical, and a voting place for the local communities. It’s just nice to have such a large, beautiful venue that not only provides a place for worship, but also gives back by opening its doors to neighbors.

I think they deserve a shout out – and also a big thanks for being good a host!

In the movie, Santa tells the boy – “This bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas as am I. Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.”

And with that, all twenty of our girls (sporting their pajamas proudly) were handed a bell just like the one from the movie. And yes, it also taken from the reindeer’s harnesses. They went home with a piece of the movie.

The best part, in my opinion, the “believe” message.

The magic of Christmas is once again upon us. And some of these classic movies help us get in the mood, to forget about the hustle and bustle, the commercial side of it all, and remember – to believe.

The Christian Church of Clarendon Hills is once again hosting the interactive showing of The Polar Express this Sunday, December 11, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. It is free, and open to everyone. You are encouraged to wear your pajamas, and sit back, and be served by the good folks at 5750 Holmes Ave.

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

believe

The Thank-you Note


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, November 24, 2016

The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon does a weekly segment where he pretends to catch up on some personal items – like his thank-you notes. This hilarious skit is usually perfectly timed to piano music played by the stoic, James Poyser. Fallon writes out what seems to be heartfelt thank-you notes to people and things, and is often political or pop culture in nature. A silly example of his notes, are to “hard taco shells, for surviving the long journey from factory, to supermarket, to my plate, and then breaking the moment I put something inside you. Thank you”. And “thank you, thanksgiving football, for giving me a chance to eat too much then pretend to work it off by watching other people exercise.”

One of my close friends and pastors, Tracey Bianchi, recently preached a sermon at my church about gratitude. She asked “if we were to write a thank you note to God, what would it say?” Would we thank him for the parking spot, or that it’s not raining, or for the Cubs finally winning the World Series? Maybe we would thank him for our job or for the people in our lives who love us.

She explained that most words of thanks have a truncated ending, and gratitude usually stops after the words leave our mouths – and that thanks should not just be a quick word of gratitude but should overflow everyday from within us by our service to others, and should change everything we touch. Lives lived with gratitude will actually be contagious, and have a healing effect on us and on others.

Not too long ago, my father in law and I took my boys to United Center to see a Bulls game. While walking around the statues of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Michael Jordan, I read to them the inscribed accomplishments of the Bulls superstar. For a moment, they seemed to be impressed with the amount of points Jordan amassed and championships he won. But soon, they were bored and began to bicker and fight, as typical siblings would, almost as if they were looking for something more.

I was shocked that they weren’t appreciative of the special moments that we experiencing together. I was expecting excitement, reverence, and of thankfulness, that their grampa and I shared this experience and special place with them.

As adults, we often lose our way, and forget to have an attitude of thanks for all that we have been given. Like children, we get caught up wondering if we have enough, and we get board and oftentimes believe we deserve to have more.

When you think about it, gratitude is the secret ingredient that helps us be more grounded, and helps life to be more joy-filled. An attitude of gratitude makes us a remarkably different people than if we had an attitude of expectation.

American novelist Ann Lemont said, “Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and in the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.”

If you were writing a thank you note today, what would you say?

 

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 Thank-you Note

My top-five “MUST-DO” home maintenance for this fall


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, November 10, 2016

A Change of Seasons

The Chicago brick bungalow had seen better days, and was evident from the dilapidated state that it must have been vacant for years. Grass and scrub trees had grown wildly over the property and into the structure, as if nature was taking it back. After years of neglect, only a single gutter remained, and it was completely full of leaves.

With the loss of water control, these midwest seasons were in charge now, deciding a newer, more natural topography, while destroying the stability of the soil that was barely holding up this home. A view from the street makes it look like a distant relative to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Unlike the famous Italian medieval tourist destination, this property had shifted to the breaking point, and the front porch was indeed detaching from house.

Sure, it’s an extreme example of what can go wrong with a home, if not properly maintained, but it also gives me a platform to share some practical advice for preparing for what is ahead – the winter! Here are my top five “must-dos” for the changing of seasons.

1) Trim your trees and shrubbery now. When we bought our old house, the arborvitaes were like massive trees growing over the roof. Don’t let this happen to your home! Cutting them away will keep rodents from climbing onto your roof, into your attic and making a mess of everything. Having well-kept plantings also keeps your foundation from being compromised by the roots pushing into your foundation and causing cracks.

2) Have the roof checked for cracked, missing or pulled away flashing or caulk. Flashing is a fancy word for a thin piece of impervious material that keeps water from entering through a joint, valley or edge. Use binoculars or have a contractor examine your roof for cracked or missing caulk, so melting snow can’t get into the edges, where the roof meets the chimneys or vents areas.

3) Have the gutters and downspouts cleaned. It happens every winter when you least expect it – perfect conditions for ice-damming. The warm afternoon sun melts just enough of that ten-inch snow pile sitting ever-so-pretty on your roof. The evening temperature reaches arctic conditions, and that water under the snow starts to climb up, freezing under your shingles. After a few more ideal days of sun, it finds its way into your home and through your drywall. This is when the roofers come out of hibernation, and are helping homeowners all over town shovel snow from the roofs.

4) Most importantly, have your sump pumps changed or serviced. Changing them every few years serves as good insurance for what could be a disaster. You can ask a plumber for advise, but the best ones will say to be safe, and replace. Make sure you have the underground drain-lines in your yard cleaned as well. When your sump-pump pushes that first big melt out, it will pour back into your home if roots have been growing all summer long are blocking it. While you are at it, go ahead and clean the leaves and debris out of the window wells. These are a vital part of your sump and drainage system.

5) Lastly, have the generator serviced, disconnect hoses from spigots, caulk around windows and doors, fill the holes around gas, the water line and furnace PVC discharge so you can keep the rodents out. Go ahead and put some bait in areas where they come in, especially in the garage.

Just keep in mind that the earth wants to cause havoc with your home, so keep watch and take care of your investment.

The story about the broken-down bungalow was really true. The plaster walls inside were falling from their lath, and the floors were crooked and slanted. I recently drove by, and it looked as though someone had moved in. The grass was cut and the scrub was gone. It was still leaning, however, and I wondered for a moment, would it make a good tourist destination?

 

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

Exterior of the Leaning tower of Pisa

Exterior of the Leaning tower of Pisa

The Goat


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, October 27, 2016

The smell was obnoxious, and it was more than anyone could stand. Several rows of Cubs fans at Wrigley were enjoying the game, but were appalled by the stench, so they organized, and sent a representative to talk to the management to remove the offender.

The year was 1945, and the country was celebrating the end of World War II. America’s favorite pastime was baseball, and it was even a happier times in Chicago, especially since the Cubbies were in a pennant race. They were finally over a dry-spell that hadn’t yielded a World Series title since 1908. These Cub fans love their baseball, and were excited to be back in the race, but didn’t like the smell of goats.

As the story goes, The Billy Goat tavern owner, William “Billy Goat” Sianis, and his Goat, Murphy, after being ousted from Wrigley Field, later sent a telegram to the Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley, which read, “Who stinks now? You are going to lose this World Series, and you are never going to win another World Series again. You are never going to win a World Series again, because you insulted my goat.”

And so, the legend of the “Curse of the Billy Goat” was born.

No one could ever anticipate the Cubs would be out of the series for so long after that 1945 season, but in late 2003, it looked hopeful they might return.

That was until the “curse” raised its ugly head again.

It was a good year for the cubs and for their newly-hired manager, Dusty Baker. Fans in Chicago and around the county were hopeful that they would finally make it back to the World Series. But at game 6 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), sitting in Aisle 4, Row 8, Seat 113, was a then-anonymous Cubs fan named Steve Bartman. Being an excited spectator, he reached for a foul ball, deflecting it and disrupting a potential snag by Cubs left-fielder Moisés Alou. If Alou had caught the ball, the game most likely would have had a different outcome – although no one knows what really would have happened had Alou secured the second out of the inning by reaching into the stands.

But in sports, oftentimes there are game-changers where momentum shifts from one team to the other. This was one of those moments, or, as some Cub Fans wondered, “was it was the curse?”

The Cubs were eventually eliminated in the 2003 NLCS in seven games, and the superstition of the 1945 goat curse continued.

The “Billy Goat” curse ended last Saturday night, when the Chicago Cubs beat the Dodgers,  5-0, in game 6 of the NLCS, and advanced to the World Series. It has been 71 years since they were the series, and 108 years since they won it – It was an amazing night!

All around Clarendon Hills, you can see the White “W” flags signifying Cubs wins flying on flag poles, on the front of houses and from the windows of cars. Some are not so happy, and you might even catch them wearing their Cub “hater” t-shirts like underwear. But if you are lucky enough to have a game ticket this week, it probably cost you a ton, but it will be worth it.

When you get to Wrigley Field, breath in deep through your nose and see if the smell is gone. Some might say that it depends on if you are from the north, or from the south side. 

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 Goat

Progress! A straight forward look at why we move forward


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, September 29, 2016

There was a time when the hill on the corner of Prospect and Park Aves. provided a place for my kids to run around and to throw a football. That free, park-like area all went away this week when a big earthmover started churning up the dirt.

This is progress.

“It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.” Theodore Roosevelt

In the spring of 2013, the village board asked the staff to engage local people of Clarendon Hills to help update the old 2006 Downtown Master Plan (DTMP). The village needed the community to get involve to help figure out what we could make of our downtown. They held several “town Hall” type meetings at Clarendon Hills Middle School to start a dialog, and create a vision for moving forward.

After a lot of public discussion and honing down of ideas, a vision statement was created to help guide the process of moving forward with the plan.

“The Plan should encourage downtown public and private investment provided that such investment  protects  or  creates  evolving/gradual  change,  small  town  charm,  more  retail choices,  unique  draw  or  destination,  services  for  local  residents,  a  family  friendly atmosphere,  safe  pedestrian  circulation,  and  active  living  with  photogenic,  vibrant, progressive/self-sustaining pleasant spaces.”

This was such an exciting time for many of the businesses in town. To get the community talking about new streetscapes, how to enhance the area and how to attract more shoppers was good news for the shops. There was a lot of people involved, and it allowed for free-flowing ideas.

One of our schools surveyed the students to what they wanted, and a passionate young person came up with an idea to have a rollercoaster looping around the town. That was creative and it certainly would make our town a destination!

The village asked 20 stakeholders comprising of business owners and residents to get involved and join committees for the DTMP.

I wrote a column in April of 2014 about how I admired the people on the committee I was asked to join: the zoning committee.

It was a seasoned and diverse group of people who worked well together for a common cause. It was so diverse with backgrounds and ideas that any one person could have easily hijacked the process for their own agenda, but didn’t.

As we went along, everyone involved had a genuine interest to help the cause, and to find out what the future would hold for downtown Clarendon Hills.

One of the basic principles of the vision statement was to keep the small town charm. We realized there would be no charm without businesses providing retail choices and services. We needed to either open the traffic flow from Ogden Ave, and from 55th Street, or get more people to live in and around the downtown area that would use the shops. Opening up traffic was not an option.

I have the honor of living in Clarendon Hills and have wonderful neighbors. Because of my job, I spend a good portion of my life in the business district, and consider the businesses and building owners my neighbors too. I’ve helped many of them with their leases over the years, and have a strong desire for them to survive.

I love walking down to get lunch he Village Gourmet or at the Little Creperie for one of their unique crepes. What would we do without a hardware store? The new addition of Sue’s Cakery certainly builds on the charm that we have. Add an English Garden Flower Shop and Talley’s Kitchen + Bar, and we have a recipe for a family-friendly atmosphere.

Progress feels good, doesn’t it? It might put our village back on the map to the young homebuyers who might have skipped over us and went to other towns. That’s a discussion for another column…..

When the corner of Park and Prospect is complete, there will be more people who will gladly contribute to the vitality of our town. I might be loosing a park, but it wasn’t mine after all.

As Dr. Benjamin Franklin said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

 

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

 

88 Park Ave

                                                                           88 Park Ave

Progress!

Teachers make the first day a success


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, August 18, 2016

 

For the new kindergartner, going to school for the first time was very scary. He didn’t know a single child, and he only met his teachers for the first time that first day of class. There were so many new things to learn. He had to remember the location and number of his big new locker, which was down a long hallway, and far from his homeroom.

To say it was frightening is an understatement. The idea of navigating a new school (and potentially getting lost) was so overwhelming to this 5 year-old child that there were tears and a brief tearing away from mom. She had tears too. Her child was growing up and it was the first time they had been separated for an entire morning.

If you are like most school age parents, you are ready for the children to go back to the classroom. The bickering and fighting around the house reaches full throttle by this point in the summer. On the other hand, It might be a little scary for the parents sending a child off to school for the first time.  Not knowing what to expect can certainly be a little intimidating.

If you are a seasoned veteran, you have come to understand what goes into the preparation of getting them back to school. Shopping for new clothes and a new backpack come easy for you. Getting the extra shoes for gym – no problem. It’s the extra admission fee that heats you up. Does anyone (besides me) wonder why our taxes are not enough to cover it all?

From the teacher’s perspective, they’ve been anticipating and preparing for this day for quite some time now. They’ve been busy meeting with administrators, new families and have been getting their classrooms ready for the pupils. They are working on seat assignments and practicing pronouncing the names of their students. They are cleaning, filling up supplies, organizing bulletin boards, prepping lesson plans, and getting new first-aid kits (hopefully not used on the first day). There are calendars to be filled, and PowerPoint presentations to be made. Many might be rehearsing their first day speeches so an excellent first impression can be made.

Our experience with the beginning of the school year has been flawless – well, except for last year, when my youngest (with a few other children) were stung by bees while walking to close to a buzzing hive nestled in a tree along the path to school!

Our children have always felt welcome and known by their teachers at Walker and Clarendon Hills Middle School. There appears to be something magical to little ears when they hear their names called out by the teacher as they enter the classroom.

The CHMS principal, Griffin Sonntag recently told me that the teachers were going through a four-day professional development series prior to school starting, including a half-day dedicated to learning about the children attending this year.

We recently had our orientation at CHMS and we could tell that the staff had prepared for us. The school looked great, there were some new lockers and the floor shined like it was brand new.

As for that frightened kindergartner, the first day turned out well after all. The teacher asked one of the more confident boys to let me play with a wooden dumpster-truck at recess. The truck became a cherished toy by the boys in my class, and by the middle of the year, the teachers found a way to turn it into a reward for good behavior.
Carousing through a yard sale several years ago, I found a wooden truck just like it on sale for just a few dollars. I would have paid a fortune for it.

After all, it meant so much to me and helped make my first day of school a success.

 

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

 

Teachers make first day a success

Different Autos for Different Seasons


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, July 21, 2016

The car salesman in his effort to show off the fancy new parking sensors instructed me to back up towards the car behind us, just to see what happens.  Being new to the car market (and not having ever experienced the beeping parking sensor), I thought he meant that the truck would stop itself.

So I put it in reverse and hit the gas!

The salesman soon realized that if he didn’t stop me, we were going to crash into the side of a new Cadillac.  Luckily for my cat-like reaction-time, at the last second I hit the brake, nearly ruining my shopping experience, and most likely causing my passenger to get fired.

I read recently on Bloomberg News that new car buyers hang onto their vehicles for an average of almost six years, or 71.4 months.

With all of the shiny new vehicles we see around town, that average seems a bit high. There are many reasons we buy big new vehicles.

For one reason around here, you can’t get into a carpool if you own a four passenger car! Many people purchase minivans or SUV’s even when they have only one or two children for this reason. You simply need a bigger vehicle when you’re carting around 5-6 children to a ballgame!

I was thinking lately about the evolution of my car ownership and what affected my buying decisions over the years.

I purchased my first car for college.

I paid $2000 for that yellow 1979 Mazda GLC (“Great Little Car”). It lasted all through my college experience and for a few years afterwards. It was It was a sad day when that Mazda finally died. It truly was a great little car.

The second car was my bachelor car – a tricked-out black Riviera.

It was a coupe with only two doors, and had a sound system that would pump out the beats.  When I sold the Riviera, it brought in more than I paid for it because there were plenty of guys like me who wanted who appreciated a sweet ride.

As I got into business, I needed to “look the part,” so I had a series of fat Caddys, my favorite of which was the Cadillac Concours DeVille. It was the higher-performance car in the Cadillac line, and had more of a road feel than a traditional cushy ride.

After getting married and we began to have children, we graduated into the minivan. Yes, it happens folks. We needed a vehicle that is made for transferring car seats seamlessly. The first thing we did was go see our buddy Mark Rediehs at the firehouse to help install them.

We haven’t graduated from that minivan yet but Amy would like to.

My last vehicle that I purchased is a permanent fixture around town. Some people might think that I’ll even be buried in it. Yes, the Cadillac Escalade truck is older than my first child (thirteen years) and has beat the average age of ownership for sure.
I’m sure the dealership caries new vehicles that have many more fancy gadgets today than when I last purchased.  I wouldn’t mind having a back up camera to take the place of my parking sensors. I heard cars might even park themselves one day and save you from accidents. As for our minivan and the truck, maybe I’ll wait to buy a new one when they do.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; 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

 

1979 Mazda GLC

1979 Mazda GLC