Town Hall

My Congressional district is the Illinois 10th.  We seem to identify as Moderates, which has us sending the following people to Congress:

2010:  Robert Dold – R

2012:  Brad Schneider – D

2014:  Robert Dold – R

2016:  Brad Schneider – D

There was redistricting in the middle of that, too.

Since the election, I have been rather more engaged with my elected officials, and I have listened in on recent town hall conference calls with both Brad Schneider and my state Senator.  In both cases, a short introduction was made with a summary of some current events and then there was Q&A.  I remember hanging up with two feelings:

  1. People aren’t asking questions – they are putting their opinions out there in the form of questions.  And Ugh – who wants to listen to that?
  2. I appreciate hearing what my representative has to say and am glad that no one is being nasty.  Wait.  Are the questions being vetted before they are asked?  There have been no follow ups, are people being cut off?


Well.  Today, I decided to show up to one in person.  I arrived..perhaps 20 minutes early, and was the fourth person to sit.  The staff was friendly, thanking us for coming and asking us to sign in.  Rep. Schneider arrived, with apologies for being late (I hadn’t noticed.  He said that his staff made him get a haircut.) and then dove right in to his talking points about the congressional committees on which he serves.  This included a side note that the Judiciary Committee is where Articles of Impeachment happen.  Smooth.

Then to the Q&A.  A guy from Arlington Heights went first, with one of those multiple-part questions about health care.  I stopped listening about halfway through when he said, “And how do you expect to do that without the doctors in the room?!”  I might have tweeted something snarky at that point.  Several questions were like that.

Nothing was particularly contentious or confrontational.  Wait, there was one guy that tried to challenge Schneider’s “flip-flop” on the Iran agreement.  I think I heard him ask if the congressman had even read it.  I almost snorted.

I was keeping mental notes on how many men as opposed to women were given the opportunity to speak – and where in the district each speaker lived.  Eight men and three women was my count.  None of the women were asking five part questions, either.

The first woman exclaimed, “We are losing our rights!  What are the Democrats doing about it?!”  I have a Republican friend that would have dismissed her as an hysterical liberal, but the question, “What are Democrats doing?” is perfectly valid and, in my opinion, led to the only small bit of tap-dancing that Schneider did.

The second woman was rather long-winded, but asked what was being done about the hyper-partisanship in Congress right now.  Schneider answered that negotiations are happening, but always behind closed doors.  Apparently, some Republicans need the cover of darkness to reach across the aisle.  (OK, maybe some Democrats, too.)

The third woman asked about the erosion of Voting Rights, which I thought was a great question because that is something we take for granted in our part of Illinois.  Schneider noted that in some rural areas, the offices to obtain the official state identification needed to vote are prohibitively far away.  He noted the rural poor in Alabama, in particular, just have no way to get to those offices in person.

Overall,  I appreciated the meeting.  I wish that more women were given the microphone, and that’s on the staff, not on Rep. Schneider.  I will stipulate that women were somewhat more tentative in raising their hands, but there was absolutely no shortage of women looking for a chance to speak.  I wrote up a comment card on the way out.

An Evening with the History Nerds

Civil War BooksFriends of the Glenview Library hosted a program last night with John Alexander, a Civil War scholar who runs a used bookstore downstate with his lovely wife.  I found him particularly charming because he said several times that his interest was not necessarily in the military, so when he was doing the Q&A and someone asked about the action he would say something like, “Well, my military friends would tell you that the West had the A team in the field.”

He argued that Senator Douglas has been made to look like a villain because “every hero needs a villain”.  But in fact, Douglas totally had Lincoln’s back after the election was over and he made sure to bring the unionist democrats with him.  Mr. Alexander maintained that the election of 1860 killed Douglas and I rather believe it.

Another intriguing line of thought was that it has been popular to argue that Grant was the worst president ever, but he thinks the tide is going to turn and History will declare that he wasn’t so bad after all.  He didn’t have time to elaborate  – he literally had to talk over the “library is closing” announcements.

So.  Next time you are downstate, please look up Books on the Square in Virden, IL.  It’s for history nerds.

One More Thing to Love about My Library

Reprinted from my blog on the Glenview Patch:

I love to read.  My average is at least one book per week, and has been for many years.  But when I started making blankets with our local chapter of Project Linus, it really cut into my reading time.   So I went to the Glenview Public Library and took a look in the audio section.  There were plenty of books from my “to be read” pile (OK, it is a bookcase.  An overflowing bookcase.  With piles in other rooms.) to be found.  I began checking them out and was back “on pace” in no time.

In an attempt to control the size of the “to be read” pile (“TBR” to the bookworms), I generally borrow audio books from the library that I already have in some other form at home.

Eventually, I started to run out of audio books to borrow from Glenview.  Which is not to criticize the size of the collection, I really am trying to clear out the TBR pile and sticking to that list of books.  So I started checking them out from Northbrook’s library.  It felt like cheating on Glenview, but you gotta love the reciprocity.  The Glenview Library’s website even has the online record of audio books I have checked out from Northbrook, so I receive the same reminder e-mail when they are due.

One day, when I went online to renew a book, I saw a link that says, “Suggest an item for the Library to purchase.”

Whoa.  I can ask the Library to buy a book just so I can borrow it?!  Sign me up.

I blindly looked at my bookcase and submitted some titles, requesting audio format.  Within a couple of days, I received an e-mail from a librarian saying that none of my requests were available in CD audio, but a neighboring library had one of them in cassette form.  She asked if she could reserve it for me.  I wasn’t interested, but really happy that the response was so quick and thorough.

I tried again, this time checking to see if a CD audio version existed before putting in the request.  (Note:  I realize that is not the all-knowing resource, but it is easy and helped me to refine my request list a bit.)   This time, it took a bit longer for a response.  But when it came:

Three of the four books I named are being ordered!

The website is careful to remind us that not every request can be honored.  As in my case, sometimes things just aren’t available.  And of course, we know there is a limited budget.  But this just made my day.

I hit “Reply” and told the librarian so.

Small Business Saturday on Sunday

Yesterday was Ainslie’s birthday party, and while I got some shopping done, I neglected Small Business Saturday:

The 2nd annual Small Business Saturday® is

a day dedicated to supporting small businesses

on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

So today, I went to Wishes Toy Wonderland, an independent toy store in Glenview.

The great thing about this store is that it carries products that you just can’t find at the big box stores.  The downside, of course, is that it is rather pricey.

I didn’t find anything for Alex, (because I refuse to spend money on Angry Birds stuff) but there was plenty for Ainslie and Ashlyn.

Now to start thinking about Cyber Giving Monday.

Community Bark West

Almost from the day I adopted Gibbs, I have wanted to take him places.  I want him to grow up to be a well-adjusted, well-socialized dog.  It took forever before his immunizations were done, but then I started taking him to Doggie Do Rite, a day care center in Northbrook.  By the second day, he was running with the big dogs.  On the third, he was trying to make a labrador his girlfriend.

For various reasons – his surgery, illness in my house, my goofy schedule – I’m not quite where I want to be in his training.  He has no leash manners, selective hearing when he is called, and he barks.

Oh, how he barks.  

The ladies at Doggie Do Rite are fairly sure the problem is simply that he doesn’t know enough people yet.  How, I wondered, do I manage to socialize a dog that refuses to behave in public?

Community Bark West.

Glenview’s Dog Park is run by the Park District.  It is large, clean, fenced in and has running water for the dogs to drink.  It has walking paths and plenty of doggie waste bags and cans so as to clean up after your pet.

The rules are extensive, and one of them is that your dog has to be at least six months old.  Gibbs cleared that on Saturday.  We had a pass on Monday and went over tonight.

He was a bit barky at first, but as soon as the other dogs came over to greet him, Gibbs was all in the game.  He ran and ran and ran.  When I wanted to check out the walking paths, he followed me.  He greeted other dogs as they came around.  When I called him, he came to me.  Yeah, he jumped on people, but he barely barked again. 

And now, he is asleep. 

We love this place.  How awesome is Glenview to have built this?

The Park District charges a fee of $50 per year for a pass ($100 for non-residents).  You can find the application here.

We hope to see you over there.

Also posted on Glenview Patch

Sam Martirano’s

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A couple of weeks ago, Miss Judy, who writes the Hug the Bear blog, posted about her favorite spa in Glenview.   Not to invade her territory, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to mine:
Sam Martirano Salon and Spa has been in Glenview for as long as I can remember.  When you walk in the front door, there is so much activity that it is hard to believe you can find a relaxing massage.  Head to the back, through the glass door.  You’ll find it.
But here’s the truth – I am not a connoisseur of the massage.  I go for the facials.  As I get older, taking care of my skin has become more important.   Marilyn and her colleague, Dorota have helping me for years.
The great thing about Marilyn is that she doesn’t just go through the process – cleansing, exfoliating, masks, etc.   She gives me an education on skin care:
Those break outs on my chin are from stress.  Yes, I do need SPF.  Even when I sit in an office all day.  My freckles may be cute, but they are also called sun damage. 
She tests out all kinds of products herself.  I remember asking her, “Doesn’t your skin ever freak out from trying new products all the time?”
“Yes,” was her answer.
But in my experience, no one at Sam Martirano’s ever pushes product sales.  They give recommendations, and answer questions, but I never feel pressured to buy more.
That makes for a relaxing experience. 
Sam Martirano’s Glenview location is in Plaza del Prado at Willow and Pfingsten.  You can visit them on the web at: .      

Cross Posted to Glenview Patch.

Packing Up

About a week ago my dog, Shadow, died. It was not an epic tragedy, but if you are interested in the details, you can find them here. We haven’t decided if or when we might look for another dog, so I packed up the perishable stuff, thinking I would take it to a friend with dogs.

Except it was a lot of stuff. I filled the first box and knew it was too much for a couple of little dogs.

Bags and bags of treats, some opened and some brand new. Extra doses of Frontline, Heartgard, glucosamine. Different types of canned food. So I loaded up the car and took it to Heartland Animal Shelter, in Northbrook, along with a pile of old newspapers.

I walked in the front door and was greeted by two ladies, thrilled that I was bringing things for the dogs. I wasn’t sure if they would want it all, particularly the open boxes and bags of treats. They sure did – particularly all of the things we’d tried for Shadow’s sensitive stomach. Which made me think about the rest of the kibble – I’d left it in the pantry at home. They were happy to have that, too.

Just like the parrots at the Refuge, where I volunteer, dogs and cats have different likes and different needs and it is not always easy for a non-profit to come up with them. Factor in an allergy or a sensitive stomach, and you might start to worry about getting a dog to eat at all.

So, those treats that your dog doesn’t like? Those vitamins my cat refuses to take? The toys they never touched? Those blankets and towels you were ready to throw away? Think of Heartland, or any other local animal shelter.

Shadow was also a shelter dog, and I can’t tell you how much easier it was to pack up his stuff, knowing it was going to help out other animals. You can find Heartland’s wish list here.

Reposted to the Glenview Patch.