The Blog Will Go On

Two of my blog readers (L) Georgia Cawley and (R) Marie Borg, who have encouraged me to keep the blog going. Photo taken at the open house for Joanie's Pizza, one year ago.

Two of my readers (L) Georgia Cawley and (R) Marie Borg, who have encouraged me to keep on blogging. Photo taken at the open house for Joanie’s Pizza, in April of 2016.

When I started this blog a little over two years ago, it was an experiment in trying to communicate more. My intention was to provide one additional way for residents of Long Grove to find out about major issues going on with the Village Board, and to give a little insight into what my job as Village President entails. I also wanted a platform that was not an official village communication, still publicly accessible on the web, but where I could use my own voice and perspectives and hopefully connect a bit on a personal level with the readers. Along the way I found that I could also use the blog to highlight the community, the downtown shops, festivals, our history, open spaces, community groups, scouts, schools, local citizens of merit, and generally all the good things that make life in Long Grove so special.

Last fall when I announced that I was not running for re-election, I planned to wrap up the blog when my term expires at the end of April. I thought it would be best for me to focus my energy on non-Long Grove things and take a break from any community involvement for awhile. But what I have found is that when you truly care about something, it is nearly impossible to give it up.

Two things have caused me to have a change of heart. The recent campaign to save our one-lane covered bridge and get it listed on the National Register has highlighted the importance and the need to stay involved in the preservation of our local history and the character that makes our Village unique. This has been a long term passion of mine as I have been an active volunteer and board member of the Long Grove Historical Society for the past 18 years, serving as President from 2009-2011. I have been asked to step back into this role, so in a few weeks I find myself taking up the gavel again as the President of the Historical Society.

The other reason I have decided to stay involved with Long Grove is because of so many of you, my faithful blog readers! The number of personal requests to ask me to please continue has been humbling, and as always, I appreciate the feedback. So yes, due to popular opinion, the blog will go on. I will continue to write about our wonderful community, our downtown and civic groups, local events and people, and whatever else pops into my head that somehow relates. Once I leave office the posts will no longer focus on government, but I may still write about local issues as they relate to the community. I guess we will all just have to see how this blog experiment continues to evolve–it’s still a work in progress!

Of Mice and Men

Historical Society member Georgia Cawley teaches her grandson Miles how to work the antique mousetrap.

Historical Society member Georgia Cawley teaches her grandson Miles how to work the antique mousetrap.

Today I have invited a guest to write a post for my blog–none other than Aaron Underwood, President of the Long Grove Historical Society. Aaron writes a regular column on Long Grove history for our local lifestyle magazine, and this favorite artifact of mine was the subject of a recent article.  Wait, I mean the mousetrap pictured above is a favorite artifact–but I guess the author is a valuable treasure too! Anyway, enjoy the following story which recently appeared in Long Grove Living:

Of Mice and Men

One of the joys of living in Long Grove is being in such close proximity to a variety of living creatures. Unfortunately, all those majestic animals are far outnumbered by those little pesky ones, such as the humble field mouse. When seasons change, it seems our local mice prefer the sanctuary of our homes rather than the acres of open space where they belong. The earliest settlers of Long Grove fought the battle to rid their homes of mice just like we do. One of the favorite artifacts in our restored 1840’s farmhouse, is a wire mousetrap. We think it dates to the late 1800’s and likely was sold out of one of Long Grove’s general stores.

The trap is laid with bait in the center and lures mice through a levered flap that is angled such that the mouse can “nose through” to enter, but can’t raise the flap to exit. The trap works as good today as it ever did. If evolution ever decides to bless the mouse with opposable thumbs, the effectiveness of this trap will go astray. Come to think of it, mice with upgraded thumbs might doom all of us.

The classic wooden mouse “snap” trap that you find sold in Long Grove today was invented in 1898. Given the extremely fertile “mouse friendly” environment we live in, perhaps it’s not surprising that the classic “snap” trap was invented in Illinois, about 150 miles from Long Grove. It was noteworthy in that it didn’t rely on gravity, but rather was spring powered. Called the “Little Nipper”, the design remains virtually unchanged today.

Recently a brewery in Chicago received much publicity for the feral cats they use to patrol their grain stores. Our own Long Grove Village Hall occasionally does this as well. When I moved here almost twenty years ago, we employed a cat named Drexler, and he was succeeded by another feline affectionately known as Drexler II. Like many roles in our community, these stray cats are unpaid volunteers. The role of Village mouse catcher is currently unfilled and available for the stray looking for some community service. To apply, simply show up at Village Hall looking hungry, meow a lot, and get to work. Not to take issue with anyone who may have reserved the name Drexler III for any new recruit, but might we dub the new mouse antagonist “Little Nipper” instead?

— Aaron Underwood, President, Long Grove Historical Society

Happy New Year!

Relaxing with UnWined Partner Maggie Iverson (center) and Village Trustee Lori Lyman (right).

Relaxing with UnWined Partner Maggie Iverson (center) and Village Trustee Lori Lyman (right) earlier this Fall.

Where does the time go? Here we are ready to ring in a new year, and I’m realizing that I have actually managed to keep a resolution that I made at the start of 2015–to create and maintain a blog. Like most of us, my resolutions usually last a month or two at most before old habits win out or will power wanes. But I have enjoyed the challenge of keeping up with the blog posts and I greatly appreciate all the feedback from my readers. So I’m asking all of you to help me keep the momentum going. One of my goals for the new year is to grow the number of blog subscribers, so if you like to keep informed by reading these occasional stories about life in Long Grove, please pass the word along to friends and neighbors. Clicking the envelope button at the top of the post allows you to email it to one of your contacts. Also, I have not run out of ideas yet for blog topics, but if you have something in mind that you would like to see me write about, suggestions are welcomed!

Downtown Long Grove has several cozy spots to toast the new year including the wine bar “UnWined” which opened this past summer. The fire pits and outdoor seating on Towner Green are not as easily enjoyed in January, but the indoor bar, fireplace and chocolate & cheese boards are a warm enticement on a cold winter’s night. I’m looking forward to checking out our newest restaurant, Village Pizza and BBQ, which opens in early January, and the addition of Finch’s Beer Tap Room later this year. Wherever you choose to celebrate, I hope that this next year brings you peace, happiness, and prosperity.

Cheers to 2016!

Office Hours

Signing a liquor license for Finch's Beer with Village Clerk Heidi Locker-Scheer at the Four Seasons in Chicago.

Signing a liquor license for Finch’s Beer with Village Clerk Heidi Locker-Scheer at the Four Seasons in Chicago.

One of the questions that I am often asked is how many hours a week do I spend volunteering as Village President? Is it a full-time job? While the time spent on Village concerns varies widely from day to day, one thing that I can guarantee is that this is a job without regular “office hours.”

Most weekdays I spend a minimum of two hours answering emails and phone calls, oftentimes more. Several days a week I have meetings to attend, many in Long Grove but others further afar in Lake County or downtown Chicago. Quite a few of my meetings are in the evening, including Village Board meetings which typically run until 10 pm or later. Invariably, issues “blow up” on weekends, and I will spend time dealing with something unexpected on a Saturday afternoon or while on vacation. The demands on my time are consistently unpredictable!

More of a surprise to me are the various locales that I find myself working in. Our Long Grove Village Hall is in a restored 1850’s Tavern, and while quaint and charming, it is short on work space. I do not have an office, and the only place for me to work at Village Hall is in the public meeting room, when available. So when I need to meet with someone, I most often go to them. I sometimes joke that our local coffee shop, Beans & Leaves, is my office because I use it so often as a spot to be available to others who want to talk with me one on one. I have also conducted meetings in many of the shops and restaurants in our historic downtown, and really, can you beat the atmosphere of the Village Tavern for a serious discussion with a couple of merchants? Recently, a liquor license needed to be signed ASAP for our newest establishment, Finch’s Beer. Neither I nor our Village Clerk work at Village Hall more than once or twice a week, but I just happened to be seeing Heidi that evening at a charity event in Chicago, so I took the document along and we were both able to sign it. And since our office that evening was the Four Seasons, we were able to enjoy a Finch’s Beer after making it legal to be sold in Long Grove!

Of course, a major amount of my work is done on the computer or over the phone from my home office. One benefit from working at home is that you can work from wherever that home may be at the moment. I am extremely blessed to have a personal “Camp David” where I can retreat for a few days of R & R with my family. And while it is mentally helpful to occasionally get out of Dodge, I do find myself working from my vacation home on a regular basis. The most unusual places I have worked on Village issues include exotic spots like Bora Bora and Anguilla. I used to quip that a tropical vacation for me would not be complete without a call from our Village attorney detailing some new threat of litigation. My husband broke the string recently by taking me to a tiny island in the Caribbean where my cell phone would not work. It was bliss! Probably the strangest experience of working for the Village remotely is when a reporter for the Daily Herald tracked me down at my hotel in Salzburg, Austria for my thoughts on the antics going on in Long Grove during a contentious Trustee election.

I do actually have an answer for that question about how many hours I put in on a weekly basis. For a three month period last fall, I kept track of my time spent volunteering for Long Grove and it averaged out to 30 hours per week. And for the record that does not include time spent blogging!

Captive to the Keyboard

In my home office, where I spend several hours each day responding to email and blogging!

In my home office, where I spend several hours each day responding to email and/or blogging!

One of my Trustees said to me recently, “Angie, it’s great that you like writing so much.” Actually, sometimes I really dislike writing. I often procrastinate when I have to write an article for the Village newsletter. Writing a formal letter or email response to a resident sometimes takes me five times longer than it should. Writing a speech can be agony. And coming up with topics for Long Grove Living articles is sometimes really a challenge. Like many jobs, my job as Village President involves a large amount of writing. Because of this, I was hesitant to add to the workload by committing to maintaining a blog.

But to my surprise, I love being a blogger. I guess it’s not that different than keeping a journal, and I have throughout different stages in life kept diaries, journals, and scrapbooks. In many ways, this is the digital version of keeping a record of my days, except that it is shared with everyone on the internet. Not that anyone on the internet would care to read my 16 year old dramas in exquisite detail, but you get the similarity.

When I asked my colleague why he thought I liked writing so much, he said “because you’re so good at it.” I have never really considered myself a good writer. I am an avid reader though, and maybe some of the millions of beautiful words and phrases I’ve consumed over the years have somehow rubbed off on me. Also, being proficient at a skill doesn’t necessarily correlate to liking it–such as mopping the floor or changing a diaper!

The writing that I get to create as a blogger is much more enjoyable though, because I get to use my own voice. When I write a piece as the Village President, I have to be so very careful of the tone and political correctness, because I am representing the entire community in what I say. In my blog entries I get to be Angie, and what you read is coming from my own point of view. It is infinitely easier to write when you can just be yourself, and hopefully some of my personality is coming through as well. There is always the risk that someone will be offended when being sincere and honest. But that is the beauty of the blog–no one is forcing you to read this. It is not an officially endorsed Village Communication.

I am very grateful for the feedback that I have gotten from my posts here since starting this new project, most have been positive and supportive. If you will keep reading, I will keep blogging about the never-ending ways in which I am surprised, delighted, and challenged by this crazy job as mayor. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of stories to tell!

Life in Long Grove Blog

One of the ways that I’ve decided to challenge myself in this new year is to finally create and maintain a blog.  The occasional postings that you read here will not be official opinions of the Village of Long Grove, but my own personal thoughts about local issues.  We do not have a Village newspaper, and while the monthly “Bridge” newsletter and “Long Grove Living” are great communications, they aren’t always timely.   So my hope is that this blog will serve as a handy format to quickly get news and musings out to the community, and give our residents one more way to be informed on local happenings.

In putting together my ideas for an initial post, I ran across this quote:

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” –Plato

I am confident in saying that most of the blog entries you will read here will fall somewhere in between the wise and foolish spectrum.  I’ll do my best to keep it brief and non-controversial.  I will not be enabling comments, but if there is a topic that you would like to see me write about, I am open to suggestions.  I promise to keep a civil tone, and will expect the same in return.