The grand facade so soon will burn.

In the Chicagoland suburbs there is a phenomena that I have observed recently since becoming a home owner, hostas.

Yes those plants that everyone seems to have on the side, and sometimes in the front or back, of their yards and homes. Big, green leaves that are usually streaked with white but can be darker or solid green.

I first actually noticed these plants growing during my childhood, in my dad’s parent’s yard. They have long stems that shoot up from the leaves with almost lily-like flowers that burst from clusters at the end. I remember being fascinated with the waxy things. Apparently, I was not alone.

My first house didn’t have them, nor did my parent’s house that I grew up in that I can remember. My second house, the on I live in now, however does. Again, on the sides of the house mostly. Why the sides? From what I can see, after finally noticing hostas is that’s where you find them. The second thing I noticed is that they cannot be stopped. Contained, yes. Stopped no.

And that’s the thing that really made me want to stop and write about it. I’ve come to notice hostas don’t stop. You can dig them up and give them away to people but the one you remove will quickly come back to fill in for the missing ones.

You will, want to dig them up and give them to people. And people, at least in the burbs out here, will take them. That also means that people will want to give you theirs.

My uncle is said to have a variety of at least two dozen different hosta types. Why? I’m not sure but he does. And if you ask, I’m sure he’ll offer some, no matter how many hostas you have. The whole “Would you like some hostas?” thing is like a handshake. You want to simultaneously give them away and receive them.

Again, these are not remarkable plants. You wouldn’t miss them if they have never been created as part of whatever God’s plan is for them. On the other hand, no one would notice were you to fill your whole yard with them. They are just that bland and banal…to me at least.

They are part of the Midwestern homestead landscape though and, therefore, part of my heritage. So, here’s to you hosta; the plant, the conversation piece, the gift, the dull wonder.


And the beat goes on…

Sadly, most of my time listening to music lately is done while behind the wheel of a car, going either to or from work.

This afternoon, I meant to sit down and write about Nirvana (the band, not the state of mind) and how it’s been twenty some odd years since I first listened to them. Thing is, that made me listen to them, which lead to me listening to more music, to see if I felt the same way about the music when I first heard it compared to what I think about it now, and all points in between. That of course, lead me to get off track with my train of thought.

There was a point in my early twenties that I drove around listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run in my cassette player? I’m not sure why that was that I did this but I vaguely remembered that I did the other night. I tried to remember why that was. After lots of hard thought I realized it was because I think someone either gave me the tape for free or I bought it for really cheap, after realizing I liked one or two songs on it, a lot. Not really a defining moment for me musically. Still, odder than usual. That was during a period where I drove around with one tape usually lodged into my tape player for months at a time, needing for some reason to listen to the same album repeatedly.



There was a time in my life, around ten years ago, when I was a stay at home father. Becoming a single father quickly put an end to that. Well, not abruptly quick but quicker than I had planned. For a time, before I transitioned from Mr. Mom back into the full time, office drone workforce I was a contractor, working at the job that I had worked for four years previous and would work for another eight years after I became full time again.

I seem to have had this character defect of revisiting things I had quit.

During that transition time, when I new I would soon be no longer working only three days a week, there was a day when I had to take my daughter to the doctor for an follow up doctor’s appointment  for an ear infection. For some reason, the doctor who my daughter went to was about forty minutes from our home in the far, far West Chicago Suburbs. That means it was only in the far West Chicago Suburbs, in an area where I had many fond memories of as a child, near the Yorktown mall. When I was a child, my mom’s sister’s family lived near there as did my grandmother so we spent lots of summer days either at that mall or the area around it. Not to mention, it was sort of between everyone’s houses and the zoo. Summers were about getting out and either going to a mall or to the zoo, if we weren’t spending the day at our cousin’s house.

This all ran through my mind that decade or so ago, as my daughter napped in the backseat on the ride to her appointment. It was hot and humid as it was during the day. We were at least thirty minutes early for a visit that I was pretty sure we’d have to sit in the waiting room until about an hour after our scheduled time, so I drove around the area, pondering.

Who are these people? The ones that are packing the highways and side streets of Downers Grove in the middle of the day in July. Are there really this many people out on the road because they aren’t stuck in a cubicle or office for their day job? Were they like me, home-bound and caretaker or something else? Rich? Unemployable?

Maybe there were this many people who didn’t have the normal 8-5 schedule or even ones that did have that schedule but who’s jobs took them on the road, during the center of the day in Chicago far suburbia.

What I was sure of, was that with the change in employment coming up for me I would surely not be able to do what I was doing right then anytime soon, driving through hot Downers Grove on a summer’s day. That is, unless I won the lottery or some other improbable way fell into a large sum of money that would help me not have to work. Even then, I realized, my fantasy life for what I would do as a rich, retired gentleman probably didn’t involve menial tasks like killing time on a humid summer day among the four lanes of non-scenic road that is perpetually under construction.

Funny where life flings you.

So here I am, that decade later, and almost daily I pass that one stretch of road that I pondered those thoughts and lamented how I would never again have a chance to think about my childhood days in that area as I drove though it.

My life has changed so much since then, as have my feelings and memories of my past, but the sights still seem to stay the same.