Category archive for ‘Columnists’ rss

  • Sit back and enjoy the view in Heart Spring Mountain

    Maple is an obvious word to start a story set in rural Vermont, but in author Robin MacArthur’s new novel Heart Spring Mountain, the obvious ends there because what follows is a beautifully original tale of a family and the imperfections that bind three generations of women to each other and the landscape and history that has shaped their lives.

  • A New Year’s journey into the Twilight Zone

    I spent New Year’s Eve binge-watching “The Twilight Zone” on the SY-FY channel.

    Oh, I know, that’s not what most people think of as a rockin’ New Year’s Eve. Most people want a night on the town that would cause them to wake up in the morning (or afternoon), rub their aching head and moan: “Never again” — behavior that probably involves copious amounts of alcohol and so many drinking games they could make an Olympics out of it.

  • Northern Europe, Part 4

    One of the great things about independent travel is that sometimes you stumble upon places and sites that you would most likely never have visited, but are totally glad you did once you experience it.

  • Ask the Woodchucks: Instant Hot Water

    We recently moved to Sun City and love our house, but it takes forever in the morning to get hot water to the bathroom sink. Is there any way to get hot water faster?

  • It’s Miller time

    T’was the week before Christmas and all the presents were wrapped, the cookies were baked, and the tension within our family was running rampant. As they say in the movie Christmas Vacation, “It’s the holidays, and we’re all in misery.” Since we had the time, and Nancy needed a beer, we put ourselves in harms way, and ventured out near Woodfield Mall. We went to review the newest restaurant in Schaumburg called Miller’s Ale House.

  • Ask an Angel: January 11, 2018

    I am single, and have no children. I also was an only child, so I have no siblings or much family to speak of. As I enter the later years of life I know I must start paying attention to my future care. Do you have recommendations on what to have in place?

  • The immutable laws of physics and Froot Loops

    Several decades ago, my father-in-law came out of a public restroom and said to me with a grim shake of his head: “Whoever put that toilet paper on the roll has no understanding of the laws of physics.”

  • The Dining Duo’s Best of 2017

    “Father Time” for the year 2017 is getting old and wrinkled, just like most of us here in Del Webb, with the exception of Nancy. I better say that because my back can’t take sleeping on the couch anymore at my age. Another 23 restaurants, and several inches added on to our waistline, brings us to our annual “Best Of” article. So sit back, relax, get your reading glasses and antacids ready, ’cause here we go… All restaurants are handicap accessible.

  • When the cat is away, the mice will play

    I simply do not do well with mice. Some of the scariest moments of my life have involved an animal that is no bigger than 4”, but has the ability to turn me from relatively calm to screaming, swearing and running at a moment’s notice. My kids learned this lesson when they were very young. Sarah, aged 3, was forced to pick up a stick and say “I’ll protect you Mommy” after a mouse nest was discovered on our deck.

  • Ask an Angel: December 14, 2017

    My father has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t sleep very well at night as well as wanders now and then. Since the time change, it seems to have gotten worse. Is there anything we can do to help this situation?

  • Repair your Keurig coffee maker

    Keurig coffee makers will make single cups of coffee easily, quickly and with no cleanup, but they do occasionally need a simple tune up. If your Keurig is brewing slowly, shorting your cup, or won’t work at all, don’t throw it away until you’ve tried these tips first.

  • Merry Christmas to all!

    This is our last publication of the year, and due to a scheduling issue my next column will not be published until the January 25 edition. During that time, there will be some “highly anticipated” films making their appearance, with of course no assurance they will live up to the hype preceding them, which sadly is often the case.

  • Another real-life adventure in naked garden shopping

    Don’t you just hate it when you’re standing in the checkout line, next to be served, and you suddenly realize that you’re naked?

  • Planning for a winter wonderland

    For this column I have interviewed Shane Jordi of Hansen Heating and Plumbing. Since 1946, Hansen Heating and Plumbing has been serving McHenry County and the surrounding area.

  • The Man Who Invented Christmas – worth a watch

    A quick heads up before starting. For the first time in ten years Netflix made a mistake and sent me the wrong DVD. Instead of what I ordered, I got Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2016, PG-13. I thought “what the heck,” I’ll take a look. That was the second mistake. I lasted ten minutes and that was it.  If you are a Harry Potter fan you might enjoy it, otherwise forget it.

  • Vacation Checklist

    As many Sun City residents pack for warmer climates it is important to spend an hour or so to get your house ready for winter. When you are going to be away for a week or more you should prepare your home so there will be no surprises on your return.

  • Ask an Angel: December 7, 2017

    My father has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t sleep very well at night as well as wanders now and then. Since the time change, it seems to have gotten worse. Is there anything we can do to help this situation?

  • Just wing it

    Today’s restaurant was closed for vacation the first time we attempted to review it. Because we received so many letters recommending this restaurant, we decided to give it another try.  Nancy, aka “Debbie Downer”, said we should call first to avoid spending half a day scouring the countryside for another restaurant if this one was closed again. Me with my “devil may care” attitude said, “let’s just wing it.” So off we went to Heng Wing Restaurant in Palatine.

  • Make America “safe” as it used to be? Careful what you wish for

    Who doesn’t long for those lazy, hazy days of their childhood?

    I was raised in quiet Elmwood Park, just a stone’s throw from Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, and I have always thought of my 1950s childhood as idyllic, calm, and peaceful.

    And yet…

  • Murder on the Orient Express – derailed by the accent

    It may surprise you to learn that Agatha Christie is the best- selling author of all time. Her novels have sold over two billion copies so far, and still going strong. Her books have been translated into more languages than any others, save the Bible and the works of Shakespeare.

  • Ask an Angel: November 16, 2017

    Mom lives alone, but I am her caregiver, checking in on her daily with a phone call or a visit at least on the weekends. We will be traveling during the holidays and I don’t think I can leave her alone. What options are out there?

  • Ask the Woodchucks: November 16, 2017

    We have Moen faucets in the bathrooms of our Pulte built home. The handle (hot) on one faucet has become very loose and wobbly. I’ve attached a short video. It works fine but will likely get worse in the future.

  • Tips for extended stays away from home, Part I

    Each year our family heads to Galena for the 4th of July holiday. The rolling hills, patriotic parade and rich history of the town offer us a chance to reconnect. Prior to leaving I go on a cleaning spree. As my family can attest I cannot physically leave the house until the beds are made, the floors are cleaned, and the clothes are all washed and put away.

  • “Famiglia” style … not

    A long, long time ago, on a Del Webb day trip far, far away, as we were passing by a restaurant, our friendly escorts Jan and Jerry suggested we review it. We put them on the “fast track” and only three short years later, we finally found the time to do it.

  • ‘Tis the season for hay, straw, and a sweet-smelling dog

    It’s autumn, and as the Halloween-and-Thanksgiving season approaches, folks in my Illinois neighborhood like to decorate their front porches with pumpkins and corn stalks sitting on hay bales.

    And every time I see that, I can’t help but think of Schatze, the sweet-smelling dog of my youth.

  • A Polska Tradycja

    Over the Labor Day weekend, we were invited to an “end of the summer” party. Jim must be slipping in his old age, since it took him a while to nonchalantly drop the fact that we are the Dining Duo into the casual conversation with other guests. As a result, we did receive a lot of good recommendations and were asked several questions. One inquiry was about a new Polish restaurant in Hoffman Estates called Tradycja (Tradition).

  • Ask the Woodchucks: Fall Maintenance

    As winter approaches, you should remove all hoses from the outside faucets, drain them, and store them in the garage to prevent them from freezing and damaging the hose. If you have a basement with a sump pump, be sure to remove the extension hose from the sump pump discharge pipe on the outside of the house. This is a black hose that directs sump water away from the foundation.

  • Let it snow outside and let it grow indoors

    Life can be stressful. We all experience the stress of family, money, and health. My current angst is that of being a mom of 3 teenagers. While I used to be their most loved and admired person, as they naturally grow up and away, I am now that out of touch person whose IQ level keeps decreasing as their age increases. My beloved husband has realized that a walk around the block with me will cure any amount of stress that I experience with our children.

  • Suburbicon: What goes around comes around

    American filmmakers the Coen brothers have a long list of movies they have written, and in some cases directed. They have won and/or been nominated for a number of Oscars and may be the best known team of writers in Hollywood. I have not seen all of their films by any stretch, but those I have left a lasting impression.

  • Ask an Angel: November 2, 2017

    Please tell me what types of care options are available to seniors. I see lots of construction going on, but I’m not sure what these communities offer.