KCC_ KC Magazine May 2022

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entertainment E

MAY 2022







NOT OUR DEFAULT See immersive, futuristic art in Batavia Page 8

STORY BEHIND THE STORIES Meet 3 local authors Page 10

1years 00 of

r e el v a r T e The littl

The cornerstone of Geneva’s Third Street continues to wow customers one century later | PAGE 26

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NOTE I wasn’t seeking a food columnist when I walked into Two Wild Seeds for the first time 18 months ago. I was there to interview Katie McCall and her mother as a follow-up to their earlier feature in the magazine. Katie and I instantly connected over our shared passions for food and journalism … and next thing you know, “A Fresh Take” was in the works. Her column taught us about fresh ingredients, but also appreciation for nature and the ways that recipes bring together family members. As you’ll read in her column on P. 24, Katie is going to scale back “A Fresh Take” to a quarterly basis; she recently had a beautiful baby girl and is busy with a number of other projects. We’ll miss her monthly presence in the magazine — and I can say “we” based on the sheer number of those who have reached out with compliments on her writing style. Look for her next column later this summer! This month we embrace arts and entertainment. May, which marks the beginning of outdoor farmers markets and art festivals, always feels like the perfect time

to celebrate the artisans who share their talents with Kane County. Among others, you'll learn about a videographer who preserves history through documentaries and three local authors who have realized their dreams through publication (P. 18 and 10, respectively). Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t wish the happiest of birthdays to The Little Traveler! The longstanding Geneva shop celebrates 100 years of selling delightful treasures. You won’t regret reading Chris Walker’s article on the history of the shop; see P. 26. Thank you to all of the creators who make Kane County such a great place to experience the arts. And thank you for reading!

Hannah Hoffmeister, Editor

on the


The Little Traveler is celebrating 100 years as the cornerstone of Geneva’s historic Third Street shopping district. Read more on P. 26. Photo provided by Geneva History Museum. Next month: An ode to all things Fox River — picnics, artwork, water activities and more. Don’t miss it!




PUBLISHER Kane County Chronicle & Northwest Herald Laura Shaw 630-709-4497 lshaw@shawmedia.com EDITOR Hannah Hoffmeister 630-427-6263 hhoffmeister@shawmedia.com DESIGNER Allison LaPorta 630-427-6260 alaporta@shawmedia.com LOCAL SALES MANAGER Kane County Chronicle & Niche Publishing Jaclyn Cornell 630-845-5234 jcornell@shawmedia.com CORRESPONDENTS Jonathan Bilyk, Patti MacMillan, Katie McCall, Vicki Martinka Petersen, Erin Sauder, Diane Krieger Spivak, Louise Treeny and Chris Walker.

This magazine is available by subscription for $24 a year. If you would like each month’s edition mailed to your home, send your request with payment information to Shaw Media, 7717 S. Route 31, Crystal Lake, IL 60014 or via email at subscriptions@shawmedia.com.

Published by Shaw Media 7717 S. Route 31, Crystal Lake, IL 60014

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32 ESCAPE INTO NATURE The Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau on exploring outdoors

8 NOT OUR DEFAULT Nothing By Default brings immersive, futuristic art to downtown Batavia


10 STORY BEHIND THE STORIES Meet 3 local authors who have published books 13 'PEOPLE STILL NEED HELP' Ukrainian-born local photographer offers her talent to support her home country

18 PORTRAIT OF A DOCUMENTARY MAKER A Q&A with Phil Broxham, who preserves Elgin’s history with his craft

40 GROWING IN COMMUNITY Geneva Garden Club approaches 100 years of camaraderie and friendship

22 EAT HEALTHY, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE OUT Digestive expert Dr. Tarun Mullick visits Wok n Fire at its new location 24 THE LAST SUPPER Katie McCall reflects on her time with Kane County Magazine

OUT & ABOUT 26 100 YEARS OF THE LITTLE TRAVELER The cornerstone of Geneva’s Third Street continues to wow customers one century later 30 CALENDAR From a comedy show to outdoor shopping, here’s what’s happening in Kane County


HOME & LIFESTYLE 38 SHRUB MADNESS Learn more about over 20 of Wasco Nursery’s favorite shrubs



36 SWING INTO SUMMER The Primrose Farm Barn Dance is back

16 ARTIST OF THE MONTH Cameron Derby challenges herself to work with different materials

21 GRAB A BOOKMARK Two book recommendations to check out in May


34 ECHOES OF THE PAST Superdad recalls times when places seem to speak to him

BUSINESS & CIVIC 42 PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS Tom McCartney on the value of buy-sell agreements






ith remote work and online shopping fast becoming the new normal, two Batavia businessmen know these days people need a good reason to leave the confines of their homes. Andrew Heppner and Brennon Koedding, owners of Batavia’s Black Cactus Print House, are giving them just that with the launch of www. nothingbydefault.com, described as “a multimedia art platform for the future.” In late March, the community was invited to participate in — not just attend — a two-day exhibit presented through Nothing By Default called “Thank You for Leaving the House.” Held at Black Cactus, 11 E. Wilson St., the immersive art experience featured an art gallery and pop-up store. “Things are becoming a lot less brick-and-mortar so we wanted to create an over-the-top fun experience that’s worth leaving the house to go and buy something,” Heppner says. Featured art included hand-screenprinted newspapers, repurposed vintage clothing, scratch-off cards and more, all made by multiple artists. Heppner understands the reluctance these days


to venture far beyond the comforts of home. “With ‘Thank You for Leaving the House’ we’re not trying to go against the current too much, but we do need to be more in-person,” he says. “Sometimes it’s way more convenient to be at home but we wanted to condense these trips to shop for both art and clothing into really fun experiences.” He and Koedding hope to eventually host quarterly events like the one in March. The duo is partnering with Chicago artist Vic Lloyd on the initiative. Lloyd worked at Leaders 1354, a streetwear boutique in Chicago, before opening Fat Tiger Workshop in 2013. The streetwear retail destination has grown into a central hub for Chicago creatives. “His connections and abilities to do events are way further along than us,” Heppner says. “He has all kinds of plans … food trucks, pop-up shops. And in between little events to avoid ever having a boring retail storefront.” The launch of Nothing By Default fulfills a dream years in the making. Heppner and Koedding started their own clothing lines about a decade ago. “And those were doing really good but we had to put those on hold,” Heppner says. “We needed to

get Black Cactus Print House up and running to pay the bills. That ended up taking longer than we thought.” A custom apparel provider for businesses, brands and individuals all over the country, Black Cactus opened its doors in 2016. “Now we’re at a point where we can get back to doing our own designs,” Heppner says. He enjoys the idea of marrying an item purchase to an experience. For instance, the “Thank You for Leaving the House” exhibit featured elements to engage and challenge all the senses. “So everyone’s a little weirded out and out of their comfort zone,” Heppner says. “But then with something like this, you buy something and wear it and you can spend 30 minutes talking about it and the experience behind it.” For Koedding, seeing the “Thank You for Leaving the House” exhibit go from concept to reality over the past year has been gratifying. “We wanted it to be like an amusement park for the mind by triggering the senses in every room,” he says. “It’s been a fun experience from the beginning. It’s been a lot of work but now that it’s come to be I’m just so happy with how everything turned out. All that hard work has paid off.”



STORY BEHIND THE STORIES Meet 3 local authors who have published books By Vicki Martinka Petersen | Photos provided by all three authors

Some childhood dreams — becoming a space cowboy, for example — might be a little challenging to achieve. But for these local writers, who have been writing since childhood, their dreams of becoming published authors have come true.

 ANITRA ROWE SCHULTE Geneva resident and author of “Dancing with Daddy” Reading has always been a special time for Anitra Rowe Schulte and her daughters, Elsa, Cece and Lola. During trips to the library, Rowe Schulte longed to find books featuring families like theirs, with children who have disabilities. Elsa lives with a rare chromosomal disorder called WolfHirschhorn syndrome. Rowe Schulte wrote “Dancing with Daddy” (illustrated by Ziyue Chen) based on the dances her family attends. “We shared lots of photos of our family and Elsa’s equipment. The illustrator got all the details accurate,” she notes. The book won this year’s Dolly Gray Award in the picture book category. The award honors books for its authenticity in depicting developmental disabilities. But the best accolades came during a school event when a girl pointed to her gastrostomy tube and told Rowe Schulte she was excited to see another girl with a G-tube in the story. “What unites all my stories is they come from my own life, but they’re topics people can relate to,” she says. “Dancing with Daddy” is available for purchase at Harvey’s Tales in Geneva and online. In honor of Mobility Awareness Month, Rowe Schulte will be discussing her book at 10 a.m. May 21 at Geneva Public Library, 227 S. Seventh St.



10 BOOKS FOR READERS OF ALL AGES By Vicki Martinka Petersen


ooking for a book to read over summer vacation? Elizabeth Elsbree, library media specialist for East Aurora School District 131 and committee chair for Illinois’ Bluestem Award, shares her favorite books for readers of all ages.  PRESCHOOL-KINDERGARTEN “The Very Impatient Caterpillar” by Ross Burach “Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music” by Margarita Engle and Rafael López — “This picture book was inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a female drummer at a time in Cuba when that was taboo,” Elsbree says.

 ADAM GIBBONS Geneva resident and author of “An Ornament in Prosperity”


Since he was a teenager, Adam Gibbons has enjoyed doing genealogy and exploring local history. He’s gone on to write books exploring the history of Wasco, Campton Hills and Geneva.

“Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures” by Kwame Alexander and Joel Sartore

His most recent book, “An Ornament In Prosperity: A History of St. Charles Township’s Rural Schools,” contains a history of all rural schools in St. Charles Township, beginning with the opening of the region’s very first school in fall 1835. The book also explores the creation of St. Charles Community Unit School District 303, the closing of one-room schools and the conversion of some of these schools into homes. Gibbons was inspired to write this book after doing bus tours for Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley. After noticing many old school buildings were still around, he thought it would be interesting to explore their history. “I like working with old documents, reading newspapers to see what happened in the local area and putting research into a narrative so people can understand the history of a region in a meaningful way,” Gibbons says. “An Ornament in Prosperity” is available for purchase at the St. Charles History Museum, Town House Books in St. Charles and Harvey’s Tales in Geneva. Copies also are available to check out at local libraries in Elgin, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora and Wheaton as well as the reference sections at the Northwestern University Library and the Library of Congress. A limited number of signed copies is available by emailing gibbons0529@gmail.com.

Kane County Magazine featured Gibbons in March 2021 for his longstanding habit of journaling every day. Revisit the story at www.issuu.com/shawmedia/docs/kc_mag_march_2021.

“The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street” by Karina Yan Glaser

 MIDDLE SCHOOL “Vincent and Theo: the Van Gogh Brothers” by Deborah Heiligman — “This nonfiction narrative is about the little-known relationship between Vincent Van Gogh and his brother,” Elsbree notes. “Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow” by Jessica Townsend — “This fantasy series is perfect for fans of Harry Potter.”  HIGH SCHOOL “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer — “This futuristic Cinderella tale intertwines several different fairy tales together.” “Kent State” by Deborah Wiles — “Wiles uses extensive research, multiple perspectives and verse to explore what happened during the Kent State shootings in 1970,” Elsbree says.  ADULT “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson “The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women” by Kate Moore — “This story highlights the women who worked in unsafe conditions for years around radium, and helped change the laws around workers’ rights,” Elsbree says.






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 NICHOLAS FAGEN St. Charles resident and author of “A Moment in Time” Nicholas Fagen first became a published writer as a kindergartener when a local newspaper published a prayer/poem mashup he wrote. Fagan, who spent a lot of time with grandparents growing up, will never forget their reaction.

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“Seeing how happy and proud my grandparents were to see my writing published spoke volumes to me,” Fagen says.


He continued writing prose, poems and songs throughout middle school, high school and college. In 2019, Fagen met for a different project with a publisher, who mentored him on the publishing process.

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“He recommended I release my collection of poetry and prose as a way of introducing readers to my writing through small bits,” says Fagen, who pursued the self-publishing route for his first book, “A Moment in Time.” The book ranges from fun moments like “Ode to a Cheeseburger” to serious pieces on grief and depression. Fagen also started a blog, www. fagenblog.com, as a more conversational way to connect with readers and introduce them to the book. “I wish my grandparents were still alive to see my first book,” he adds. “A Moment in Time” is available for purchase on Amazon.

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Ukrainian-born local photographer offers her talent to support her home country By Hannah Hoffmeister | Photos provided by Olena Swoboda


orking in the arts seems only natural for Olena Swoboda.

Growing up in a small city in central Ukraine, she loved spending time with her grandparents.

Her maternal grandmother made handmade rugs and embroidered clothing and traditional towels, and her paternal grandma was an artist whose paintings hung in galleries. “I always wished I had this talent, but

I did not,” the Elburn photographer says. Swoboda went to photography school and did private lessons with a photographer in Ukraine in 2017, then moved to Kane County in 2018. ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT MAY 2022



She enjoys doing portraits, family photos, small weddings and events, and branding sessions for businesses, remarking that it’s always been her dream to find a job that doubles as something you would do for fun. She felt compelled to use her talent to help friends and family in Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia in late February. In mid-March, she posted to several Kane County Facebook groups, writing: “I was born and raised in Ukraine and the situation in my



home country is heartbreaking for me. My family and friends are in Ukraine as are millions of other people going through it now.” Her post went on to say that she was offering a discounted photography rate and that the money would be donated to kids and families in Ukraine. That discounted rate is still available this month — she’s offering a photo shoot with 20 highresolution photos for $100 instead of the usual $200, with proceeds going toward volunteers in Ukraine.

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For businesses that are already supporting Ukraine through their own fundraisers, she is offering a free branding photo session as a thank-you. Swoboda’s home city of Kropyvnytskyi is about 190 miles southeast of the capital, Kyiv. At press time, Kropyvnytskyi had been spared some of the bombing but was seeing a large influx of people who had been displaced. If you’re interested in helping, she says donating or supporting local fundraisers is often quicker than mailing supplies. “People still need help,” Swoboda says. “I want to help.”


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CAMERON DERBY The Tri-Cities are booming with arts and artists — perhaps nowhere more vibrantly than Batavia’s Water Street Studios, which hosts events, galleries and up to 25 artists in residence. Each month, Kane County Magazine and Water Street Studios are partnering to highlight artists and their work.


A 16

teacher since 2017, Cameron Derby came to Water Street Studios last July.

Columbia College Chicago.

“What attracted me to Water Street Studios was the great location and atmosphere,” says the Akron, Ohio-born artist and photographer. “I was also impressed at the amount of resident artists and opportunities the studio offers.”

In the last year or so, Derby began experimenting with mixed media portraits; see “Oriental Dwarf King Fisher,” made with collaged construction paper, for example. This work, among others, shows “how as an artist I’ve begun to push past my comfort zone and use different materials,” Derby notes.

Derby’s passion rests in portraiture — “whether it be people, pets or characters,” she says. She teaches drawing and sketching and is a graduate of

Derby started drawing at a young age and added photography to her repertoire around 2007. Through commissioned projects, she’s expanded


her talents. “I hand-painted three shower doors for a client that allowed me to have free rein with the design. It made me excited and nervous, but afterwards I was really proud of how they turned out and the client loved them,” she says. Art runs in her family; both parents work in the arts. “I believe art plays a huge role in the community and in people’s lives in general,” she says. “Art brings people together and it’s a way for people to express themselves.”





Cameron Derby earned a bachelor’s degree in photography from Columbia University Chicago. She works with a variety of materials and especially enjoys portraiture. To order prints and learn more, visit www. cameronderby.com.

DETAILS OF CAMERON DERBY’S WORK: To purchase or learn more about these creations, visit www.cameronderby.com or www.waterstreetstudios.org/shopwaterstreet.  Youngins’: colored pencil, 11x14, $40

 Black Cat: colored pencil on black paper, 11x14, $40

 Oriental Dwarf King Fisher: colored pencil and construction paper, 10x10, $40

 Summer: graphite and digital photography, 11x14, $40  Lil Wayne: graphite, 11x14, $40

For more information on the artist of the month, head to www.waterstreetstudios.org or the organization’s social media pages. ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT MAY 2022



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lgin resident Phil Broxham has produced three documentaries tied to his city. He has tackled its national influence on the dairy industry, its African American heritage and the famous Elgin National Watch Company. Through a conversation with him, Kane County Magazine took a look at how Broxham does what he does, why he does it — and why he’s not done yet. This interview has been edited slightly for length.  KANE COUNTY MAGAZINE: Did you always want to make documentaries? PHIL BROXHAM: No. I went to (Southern Illinois UniversityCarbondale) for radio/TV production. I started my company Broxham and Associates in 1988. I was the sole proprietor and started producing a fitness TV show that I did for about 12 years. We got it syndicated on regional sports networks around the country, back in the day of Spectrum and ON TV, almost at the advent of cable. We were able to grow that program to 48 states. It played itself out in the late ’90s. I changed the name of my company to Grindstone Productions and partnered with a friend of mine, Dave Briggs.

 KC: How did you make the switch to documentaries? PB: We decided we wanted to take a stab at a documentary and looked at what was the big story here in Elgin, and of course it was the Elgin National Watch Company, which was here for 100 years and was the world’s largest maker of fine jeweled watches.  KC: How did you start?

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PB: We approached the Elgin Historical Society to form a partnership to produce the documentary. They had a wonderful display on the second floor and experts on the company, including Mike Alft, who was a historian here for many years.  KC: How long did the production process take? PB: It took us about two and a half years. That was our first venture into documentary film production. It was awesome. It was a one-hour, PBS-style documentary. After five years Dave went on to another career. I’ve stayed here in Elgin in the professional building since 1994.  KC: What was your next documentary?

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PB: “Project 2-3-1, Two Boxcars, Three Blocks, One City: A Story of Elgin's African American Heritage,” with executive producer and host Ernie Broadnax. Ernie had been wanting to make a film for years. In 2013 we presented it to the historical society. The process was about two and a half years. Elgin was a strong abolitionist community, but it was split. At the outbreak of the Civil War, plantation owners would flee with a few servants and the rest were left behind. They would take refuge behind Union lines. Soldiers would write back to their communities to take in these refugees. They were called contraband, and 110 were sent to Cairo, Illinois, then boarded two boxcars to Elgin, where people took them into their homes and found them jobs. However, they were relegated to a three-block area that was turned into a settlement — Fremont, Hickory and Ann streets. That’s where Ernie grew up. His great-grandmother was one of the 110. That documentary was completed in 2016. It was a heralded project, and won the Mayor’s Award, the Elgin Image Award and all sorts of museum awards.  KC: What was the third documentary? PB: “Dairies to Prairies.” Elgin had a significant dairy heritage. Elgin was one of the first rail lines from Chicago and that afforded the opportunity for local farmers to sell milk to Chicago. They established the Elgin Board of Trade that dealt in butter and cheese.

It became more influential than the New York and Chicago boards of trade because of its quality. For 40 years it set prices for butter and cheese for most of the country. It was originally 90% prairie, so there’s a movement to transform these old dairy farms back to prairies. We talk about land use and its evolution.  KC: What other type of work do you do? PB: I also do corporate video production. I take the storytelling approach where it’s appropriate.  KC: What were your thoughts during and after making that first documentary? PB: The first was quite a learning curve, more on the fundraising side than the storytelling. The second was the research process and sourcing material. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. What’s so interesting about it for me is it’s an opportunity, in long form, to tell a story. I love it. It’s a lot of work and it becomes pretty stressful; I do every element of shooting and editing myself, guiding the story and scripting, where necessary. It challenges every part of your skillset. Nothing focuses you like a deadline.  KC: What’s next? PB: My focus is on local history. There are a lot of stories that haven’t been told that need to be told. I like the challenge of it and I’m ready to do it again.




Grab a Honor the arts this month with a new read! Here are two recommendations for your May reading list, courtesy of the librarians at Geneva Public Library.

 FOR YOUR KIDS OR GRANDKIDS: "What Comes Next" by Rob Buyea

 FOR OUR READERS: “The Chosen and the Beautiful" by Nghi Vo

If you love stories about how animals can help humans during difficult times, Rob Buyea's "What Comes Next" is the perfect book. Twelve-year-old Thea loses her best friend Charlie in a tragedy. This loss changes her life, and Thea no longer wants to play with her friends or talk to anyone. Her parents decide she needs a fresh start, and they move to a new town. While Thea feels they are running from their problems, the rest of her family is excited about a new life in a different community. And her younger sisters are especially thrilled when their parents get a rescue dog. Thea and Jack-Jack quickly bond, and their friendship allows both to heal. Through Jack-Jack, Thea realizes she is ready to find happiness again. She starts talking, makes new friends and begins to accept Charlie's loss. This middle school novel for ages 8-12 shows how compassion and love can change the future for the better. You’ll cry, cheer and laugh with its compassionate, engaging, funny and kind characters. This is a book you will consider reading again. — Lynne Schick, librarian

Dark magic meets the Jazz Age in "The Chosen and the Beautiful" by Nghi Vo. This fantasy is an original and intriguing take on "The Great Gatsby" that follows pro golfer and socialite Jordan Baker in 1920s America. In this version, Jordan is reimagined as a queer Vietnamese orphan who is adopted into the rich Baker family and thrust into a world of privilege and magic. She’s wealthy, well educated, has a great golf handicap and gets invited to all the exclusive parties. Jordan also discovers she has an innate magical talent that puts her at odds with the dazzling world around her. Demon blood flows as freely as wine at Jay Gatsby's dazzling soirees, where Jordan observes the entangled lives of Nick Carraway, Daisy Buchanan and the mysterious Gatsby himself. Jordan’s outsider observations of the privileged people in her world offers a new perspective on the characters we thought we knew so well. Dripping with dazzling atmosphere and lush prose, this exploration of race, magic, sexuality and class is perfect for fans of "Gatsby," as well as people who skipped the book in English class. — Sophie Popovich, librarian





eeping the season in mind, I wanted to spring into a new restaurant — or, should I say, new version in a new location — Wok n Fire. Now with a new location on the east side of St. Charles, this modern Asian-inspired restaurant has all the vibe of a downtown scene and the food to match. To get started, I tried the Tuna Poke appetizer. This fresh-cut tuna, which is packed with protein and health for you, is decoratively put together with bright green avocado and red onion. As if that was not enough, the chef has a ginger lime sauce that kicks this flavor up a few notches. All is served within three wontons. This one packs a punch. For the main course I went with the Las Vegas Roll. Yeah, baby! It’s a Vegas-styled roll … think “What happens in Wok n Fire stays in Wok n Fire.” This crispy maki roll is filled with cream cheese, jalapeño and crab mix and topped with tempura flakes, seafood mix, mayonnaise and unagi sauce. Japan meet Vegas! Healthy yet tasty! This is one roll you’ll never forget. So, check out this new version of Wok n Fire. It will take your palate to Asia while staying right here in St. Charles.

 Dr. Tarun Mullick is a specialist trained at Johns Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic in Gastroenterology and Endoscopy based in Geneva. Connect with him at www.mullickmd.com or by phone at 630-232-2025.





Ask the doctor

It is my honor and privilege to serve the community and readership of this publication. Our practice’s focus is to care for patients, to help them and tailor their care individually with current therapies.

Q: Has the pandemic changed the guidelines for screening? A: No, the guidelines for screening are the same even amid the pandemic. In fact, a lot of people have postponed their screenings or surveillance, which has resulted in more cancers and other later stage diseases. I recommend catching up with the screenings and surveillance so that you are up to date.

Q: What about hepatitis C — should I get screened? A: Hepatitis C is now treatable and testing is suggested for the

baby boomer generation and others with various potential risk habits. Given that treatment exists, it is reasonable to test for it.

Q: Do you offer telehealth? Many practices don’t? What do you think about that?

A: Yes, we offer telehealth. This means you can get treatment

without leaving your home. We will only bring you in for necessary tests, and you can choose locations away from hospitals. It’s safer to go to smaller practices and centers away like ours. In general, it appears telehealth is here to stay for years to come. It presents an alternative. And, for those, who don’t like waits — we call you. Thus, you can continue to do whatever you need to in the meanwhile.

Q: I took 14 days of over-the-counter medicine for my acid reflux. Am I done?

A: Patients who have tried over-the-counter medication or

prescription even by their primary doctor for more than 14 days at any point should present for an upper endoscopy with a GI doctor. This is a test where you can screen for any silent precancerous cells in the lining and look to see how much inflammation is in the food pipe or stomach. It also looks for structural changes that can increase your symptoms.

Q: Has the screening age of colonoscopy for cancer changed to 45?

A: Yes, recently a study was done that demonstrated a significant increase in colon cancer for current 27-year-olds compared to a 27-year-old from 40 years ago. This prompted the change of the guidelines for men and women to get screened with a colonoscopy at age 45 rather than 50.



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Dear Dr. Mullick, My family never had polyps or cancer. Do I really need a colonoscopy? Jane

Dear Jane: Great question. Colon cancer can affect anyone, regardless of family history. Everyone over age 45 should get a colonoscopy. If you have family history you should start at age 40 or 10 to 15 years before the youngest relative with a problem. Screening helps reduce risk.

Dr. Mullick, I’ve got bloating and gas. Sometimes I have diarrhea or nausea after I eat. Could I have food allergies? My doctor said it’s IBS (irritable bowel). Kristen

Dear Kristen: Yes, food intolerances to lactose, sucrose and fructose are common, so you may need to avoid those. We have tests in the office for that. The symptoms of IBS and food allergies are often similar, so testing for food allergies is reasonable. We can test for that, too. We have helped many patients diagnosed with food allergies, so it’s not all IBS.


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a fresh take



hen I was first offered the opportunity to write this column, we were less than a year into the pandemic, and the future of our bakery, Two Wild Seeds, was unknown. It seemed like the perfect chance to dip my toes back into professional writing after a 10-year hiatus. As I put pen to paper and conceptualized “A Fresh Take,” I imagined that it would, naturally, be heavily food-focused — covering different ingredients, various cooking techniques, gizmos and gadgets I couldn’t live without … and it was. But at its core, it was so much more. Looking back at the previous 15 columns (yes, this will be my 16th!), the topics varied, but one thread remained constant: It was always a creative space that allowed me to dive into my past, celebrate the present and explore dreams for the future — all through food’s key role in my life. From binge-watching the Food Network as a teen and enrolling in culinary school to working in restaurants around Chicago and eventually opening (and closing) our family bakery, I’ve taken you all on this journey of self-exploration through the means of food and sharing it with others.



Photo by Victoria C Photos


Together, we trudged through the woods hunting for morel mushrooms and gathered around the table in the garden for my birthday dinner. We talked about sustainability and finding new inspiration in the kitchen by simplifying our approach to cooking, as well as navigating awkward holiday get-togethers with dietary restrictions. We made hearty soup in the winter, pickled vegetables in the summer and even learned to churn butter from cream using a Mason jar. I shared with you some of my most beloved recipes, including my mom’s traditional Irish colcannon for St. Patrick’s Day, the bakery’s famous apple crumb coffee cake and the spiced cinnamon ornaments I grew up making every Christmas. This has given me a space to explore, educate, reflect and even vent. A space to share my love of food by way of storytelling through my own life experiences. And for this, I am truly humbled and honored that you’ve taken interest in my little corner of the world. When I think about my writing style, I’ve always tried to treat it like the food I prepare — approachable, honest, personal, meaningful, authentic and organic. I learned early on in my culinary career that a meal should tell a story and always keep you intrigued,


wondering what’s next. So … what’s next? While I’ve decided to step away from the monthly column to refocus my energy on my family and other personal career endeavors (currently writing and self-publishing our Two Wild Seeds cookbook … send coffee and lots of it!), I’m not completely leaving my seat at the dinner table. I’ll be a guest contributor every few months with a new approach: less about me and more about you! The world is a beautiful place — and our own community is such a great example of that beauty. Rich with makers, botanists, historians, artisans, farmers, gardeners, chefs and bakers, there are new stories to be told. So, I’m packing up my knives (and pens) and hitting the road to explore this next chapter … and, of course, eat. If you see me around town, please stop and say hello! I’ll be the one nose-deep in produce at the farmers market or sipping on a latte outside one of our local coffee shops, behind this laptop — most likely writing about food.

 Katie McCall, former owner of Two Wild Seeds Baking Co., is a bona fide Midwestern girl. Raised on four acres of rural property in Yorkville, she was always taught to respect nature and all of its bounty. From foraging morel mushrooms in the woods to picking wild black raspberries for homemade jam, Katie feels most at home when in nature and preparing food for others. When she’s not creating new dishes in the kitchen (and writing about them) she can be found nose-deep in cookbooks, exploring the outdoors with her family — and eating … always eating.

individual chocolate chip cookie Sending all of my loyal readers a big HUG with this delicious chocolate chip cookie that’s made in a mug — in less than 2 minutes! This is the perfect recipe to cure any sweet craving without having to make an entire batch of cookies. (You’re welcome.) SERVES 1-2 INGREDIENTS: • • • • •

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons brown sugar 2 tablespoons sugar 2 egg yolks 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt • 4 tablespoons flour (can sub in with gluten-free flour) • 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips

In a mug (no smaller than 8 ounces), melt the butter, about 35 seconds. Add the sugars to the melted butter and stir until well combined. Then add the egg yolks and stir again until egg is fully incorporated. Next, stir in the vanilla, salt and flour. Mix and then add the chocolate chips. Stir again, then microwave about 45 seconds. Test with a toothpick; if clean, it’s done. If gooey or any undercooked batter appears on top, cook an additional 15 seconds. Enjoy warm as is or with a scoop of your favorite ice cream!

Stay in touch!

To follow alon g with Katie’s culinar y journe y, follow her on Instagram at @katielmcc all. For questions or com email her at klm ments, ccall86@ gmail.com.

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@theuncommonfind DINING & ENTERTAINING MAY 2022


10 0 Y E A R S O F

Little Traveler The

The cornerstone of Geneva’s Third Street continues to wow customers one century later By Chris Walker Photos provided by The Little Traveler and Geneva History Museum



Never underestimate the power of a gift. It’s believed that the imported gifts Kate Raftery received from close friends early in the 1900s led to her selling similar items out of her home; today, The Little Traveler is celebrating 100 years of business, providing an unparalleled shopping experience within the comfy, charming environs of the mansion’s 36 rooms, which are loaded with treasures from all over the world. “It’s really humbling to realize the responsibility that goes with owning the Traveler and knowing it means so much to so many generations of people,” says owner Mike Simon. “I think the neatest part of the Traveler is meeting the multiple generations that come in every day knowing that it was the great-grandmother who introduced her daughter, who introduced her daughter, who introduced her daughter, and they’re coming in to have lunch

together and experience dining and shopping together. “It’s a magical place that we know means something special to people in a world where having experiences that are personal and profound are becoming increasingly rarer.” According to the Geneva History Museum, one of Raftery’s dearest friends, Lucy Calhoun, was married to the American ambassador to China. In 1912 Calhoun received an allowance from the Art Institute of Chicago to purchase items for the museum and would later purchase gifts for Raftery. Excited to show her friends the unique things she had received, Raftery invited them over to see the pewter figurines, jade ornaments, festival lanterns and other items that she displayed on top of her piano. In September 1922, she began selling similar items out of her home. The Little Traveler was destined for greatness. “So she starts in ’22 and by ’25 she’s already connecting the carriage house with the original

house and then her biggest addition happens right after World War II,” says Terry Emma, executive director of the Geneva History Museum, which is currently hosting an exhibit to mark the 100-year anniversary. “(Raftery) says women are now going to be working and they’re going to want to look their best, so she put in a huge dress and fashion wing. She knew the trends of the community, of society, and was ahead of her time.” At the same time The Little Traveler continued to gain in popularity, Raftery helped others achieve success, further molding Geneva into a shopping destination. She encouraged two sisters to start a restaurant in a former blacksmith shop along the Fox River. Their Mill Race Inn would become a famous dining spot for nearly 80 years before closing in 2011. Raftery welcomed Marian Michael Children’s Clothing Store into The Little Traveler in 1930. The Little Traveler’s book department ultimately outgrew its one-room home, and manager Robin Dienst and a friend opened Robin’s Book Shop in a two-bedroom cottage on South River Lane.



“She was very encouraging to other people to start businesses,” Emma says. “(Dienst) couldn’t afford rent so Kate gets her a house for the bookstore. She never saw them as competition. It didn’t matter if you swept her floor or if you were side by side with her in business, she was always good to everybody. She tried to look for your creativity and what you were good at.” Today, more than 160 specialty shops and restaurants surround The Little Traveler. “The Traveler certainly started that and we’ve all been incredibly fortunate since that time to have had a plethora of entrepreneurs pick up the baton and run with it to make the district what it is today,” Simon says. “When I was growing up in the ’60s, The Little Traveler was the unique

thing about Geneva. Now when you think of Geneva you can go on and on and on, the unique parks, the shopping, the sense of community. The Traveler started the ball rolling and it’s picked up momentum for generations to make it an incredibly cool place.”

While today’s world offers the convenience of shopping almost anywhere from our phones, The Little Traveler strives not only to continue offering an experience and history that you cannot find elsewhere, but also looks to delight shoppers.

No one was better than Raftery at finding treasures of all sorts and sizes for her customers. She had relationships all over the world that helped her secure unique merchandise.

“When we’re looking for products, our main focus is to make people say, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen this anywhere else,’” Simon says. “It’s always the wow factor that brings people and makes them want to come back, and just as important is what I’d call the people factor — the specialness of the people who work at the Traveler. As much as we work hard to find unusual merchandise that people will come back for, we also know that in today’s world people need to have a shopping

“She’d go into the Merchandise Mart or whatever they were back then and she’d ask if anyone from Geneva had bought the item because if they had, she wouldn’t want it,” Emma says. “But if no one else was carrying it, she wanted all of them. She wanted her place to be unique, and they listened to her.”

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experience where they feel special and valued and where they leave the store happier than when they first came in.” The Little Traveler has been making great first impressions since Warren G. Harding was POTUS. “Most people come in for the first time because somebody told them about The Little Traveler and they’re going to come in and look around and hopefully be impressed with something,” Simon says. “Unless they have an encounter with people who work here that makes them feel special and valued, and engages them, they’re going to go out the door. The warmth and intelligence of our people brings people back.” After Raftery died in 1953, Julia Steven and Walter Krafft purchased The Little Traveler and maintained ownership until selling it to famous restaurateur Fred Harvey in 1963.

Harvey had ambitions to take The Little Traveler global, opening The Little Traveler Shop inside the Albuquerque, New Mexico, airport, but it never took off. A few years later, Sol Simon, whose family was already successful with its Merra-Lee shops, purchased The Little Traveler. Upon Simon’s passing in 1987, his wife, Sylvia Simon, son Mike Simon and business partner Alvin Rosenthal took over. Rosenthal retired in 2013 and died shortly after; Mike Simon continues to run The Little Traveler today. Walking into The Little Traveler these days, you’re likely to be amazed by many of its exclusive offerings. There are Cookie Fries and Bone Suckin’ Sauce as well as Make-At-Home Ice Cream Mix For Dogs and Rosie the Riveter bobbleheads. There’s stuff for

babies, bath and body, candles, gourmet eats, garden items, jewelry, kitchenware, lighting, linens, pet accessories, shoes, stationery, toys, wine, women’s fashions and certainly much more. “My goal is to continue to build it and make it more and more unique until someone comes along who I’m able to pass the baton to take it to the next level for another generation,” Simon says. “I’ve been fortunate that my family are the fourth owners of the entity and no doubt if I’m able to pass it on to someone that has the same sensitive feel for creativity and uniqueness and service that they’ll take it on for the next 100 years.”  THE LITTLE TRAVELER 404 S. Third St., Geneva 630-232-4200 www.littletraveler.com

Learn more about The Little Traveler’s history at the Geneva History Museum’s exhibition commemorating 100 years! The exhibit, which features many artifacts and items from the early days of the shop, goes through Dec. 23. You’ll find the museum just a few blocks north of The Little Traveler, also on Third Street.


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MAY 2022 MON




From a comedy show to outdoor shopping, here’s what’s happening in Kane County


































Happy Mother’s Day! We recommend spending the day doing something local to celebrate the mothers in your life.

“Take me out to the ballgame…” — the Kane County Cougars mark opening weekend against Cleburne! Game starts at 1 p.m..



Stone Cold and the Jackal — aka Jason and Damian from “General Hospital” — perform at the Comedy Vault in Batavia. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Memorial Day marks the day to remember those who have died while serving in the military. Thank you to all who have served.

Check out the Geneva History Museum’s exhibit on the 100-year anniversary of The Little Traveler! Learn more on P. 26.

Happy National Wine Day to all who celebrate. Cheers to the amazing wineries in Kane County!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, visit a local Mexican restaurant! There are tons of fantastic options in Kane County.

Find new-to-you treasures at the Batavia City-Wide Garage Sale, held 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at more than 200 locations.

St. Charles Area Chamber of Commerce marks a century with its 100th annual Charlemagne Gala, held at Q Center.

The Batavia Boardwalk Shops celebrate the grand opening for 2022 vendors. The shops are open FridaySunday through Dec. 18.

TriCity Family Services hosts the Green Means Go 5K and Caterpillar Dash. Proceeds go toward the organization’s mental health services.

It’s National Windmill Day; visit the Batavia Depot Museum to learn more about the city’s history of windmills.

Don’t miss the Fine Art Show in downtown St. Charles! This event is free to attend.

Clip this page out

e all that May has to offer! Hang it on your fridge so you can celebrat Compiled by Hannah Hoffmeister


The Aurora Food Truck Festival is back and brimming with vendors serving delicious bites By Patti MacMillan | Photos by Jason Arthur and Joseph Weber


he sights, smells and sounds of a festival are meant to be savored: kids grinning from ear to ear as they grip ice cream cones, air fragrant with spices and seasonings, the happy chatter of friends and neighbors sharing a meal…

On May 6, those from communities far and wide are invited to enjoy this sensory-rich experience once again as the Aurora Food Truck Festival makes its return after a two-year, pandemic-related hiatus. The largest of its kind in the area, the festival will host more than two dozen food trucks, all of which will roll to a stop along either the east or west side of Benton Street in downtown Aurora. “What’s so great about having it along Benton is that people can really enjoy Aurora’s unique architecture from the event’s location right on the Fox River,” says Marissa Amoni, manager of Aurora Downtown, a nonprofit that works to enhance and promote the area. The organization is behind the festival as well as the long-running First Fridays event, which serves as an ongoing showcase for the downtown’s many businesses. The festival, which has welcomed as many as 7,000 people in years past, runs concurrently with May’s offering. Among the food trucks in attendance will be Holy Pierogi; Yum Dum, which sells dumplings, “baowiches” and rice balls; and seafood purveyor The Happy Lobster. Attendees lined up at Home Run Hot Dogs and Lemonade can choose from traditional fare as well as veggie dogs, and those saving room for dessert (or perhaps starting with it) may look no further than Rainbow Cone, Foxy’s Ice Cream or My Funnel Truck. Handcrafted burgers will be the draw at Gillerson’s Grubbery while Grumpy Gaucho dishes up Argentinian cuisine. “It has a great social vibe,” says Grumpy Gaucho owner Nestor Fortini, who plans to bring his signature empanadas as well as churros to the hungry masses. “We enjoy sharing the streets and the camaraderie with our fellow food truckers.” In addition to great eats, attendees can also stop by Tapville Social for a drink. A gated area will be reserved for those enjoying beer or wine. Once festivalgoers have had their fill, they are encouraged to explore the streets of the downtown and its numerous brick-and-mortar businesses. The options are many and run the gamut. “These events are really suitable for all ages,” Amoni says. “People can go as a family, with friends or make it a date night. They can easily find a handful of things to do with their group and curate based on what’s fun for them.” The Aurora Food Truck Festival is free to enter. Those interested in attending are encouraged to take public transportation — the event is easily accessible by train and bus — though the city offers free parking north of New York Street off of River Street. To learn more, visit www.auroradowntown.org/special-events. OUT & ABOUT MAY 2022


By the Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau


fter spending so much time inside during the winter, we miss being outside and exploring open spaces. It’s a great way to exercise and has so many mental and physical benefits. Treat yourself to a weekend away in the outdoors this year. We’ve made it easy! The planning and researching are already done — keep reading to discover your escape into nature. The portion of the Fox River Trail that runs through the Elgin area is full of things to do. It runs beside the scenic Fox River, alongside historic railroad lines, crossing six bridges and passing through nature preserves and charming towns. Riders can park for free and get on the trail in many locations including downtown Elgin by Festival Park or Gail Borden

e r u t a N into Public Library, South Elgin by the new Panton Mill Park or East Dundee’s Depot. If you would like to rent a bicycle, we recommend Main Street Bicycles in Carpentersville. The Fox River Trail is also very popular for kayaking

and canoeing, especially during the summer. We recommend renting equipment through Kayak Myak. Check out www.ExploreElginArea.com for a list of routes recommended by the experts for all different experience levels. Going out on an organized trip is best for beginners and groups. For the sportier visitor, you’ll want to know about all first-rate public fishing spots situated along the Fox River, which is popular for catching bass, catfish and walleye. And, of course, there are plenty of tackle shops to hook you up with the right gear. Local spots along the river in South Elgin, Carpentersville and West Dundee have become legendary among anglers for record-breaking walleye and smallmouth bass. Plan a three-day staycation in the Elgin area focused on reconnecting with nature at www.exploreelginarea.com/escape-into-nature.

Plan your adventure!

Whatever you decide to do in the Elgin Area, planning your adventure starts with a trip to www.ExploreElginArea.com. Check out the events section for all area events happening this summer!



Explore th the h Elgin l Area This Spring while enjoying the Fox River Trail

Family Fun

Gail Borden Library SEBA Park Escapade360

Arts & Culture

Elgin History Museum Public Arts Tour Live Music

Local Dining & Refrсhing Drinks

Black and Gray Brewing Bleuroot Farmers Market


Painted Lady Homes Self Guided Tours Sears Homes

Plan your next adventure on and off the Fox River Trail at www.ExploreElginArea.com and share your photos with us by using our hashtag on social media.





he decision to leave that wall in our walk-in pantry the color of a banana had nothing to do with whether we were sharing our home with ghosts. Or even if they may have been dropping in from time to time. I’d prefer to ascribe it to an abiding respect for history, neighborhood and family, but there was no escaping the gripping sensation that something would be offended if we painted over that wall.

For the record, if you were to pin me down, I’d tell you ghosts most likely don’t exist. At least, I’d say I’ve seen no evidence to prove they do. Indeed, many of you would probably conclude many of my beliefs veer far to the other side, toward mystery and things beyond this physical plane. There is wisdom in Master Yoda’s instruction to a young Skywalker: “Luminous beings are we. Not this crude matter.” (For the record, my religious and

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philosophical beliefs are not informed by sci-fi movies. The occasional pop culture reference just ensures we’re all still speaking the same language.)

cause, the spirit of that place spoke to my soul in a way no place had before. It took my breath away, almost refusing to give it back.

While the jury continues to await evidence on the existence of ghosts, I long ago felt places do have a spiritual aspect to them.

In the decades since, other places have similarly spoken to me. And often they come in the places you least expect it.

For me, it first came through strongly at age 14 while hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I can’t tell you the name of the trail (my parents picked it) or where we were (my brother had the map), but the image lives forever.

Like the day we moved into our previous home and saw the pantry wall adorned with a chart, listing names and ages next to lines and measurements, showing heights at various dates for all of the children and grandchildren who had either lived in that house, or been frequent visitors, dating back to the late 1980s.

The feeling hit the moment we entered a clearing in dense woods, on the side of a small, strangely still pool in the middle of an otherwise rushing stream, amid the mountains. Maybe it was the quiet, the stillness, broken only by bird calls and the dripping and slight gurgle of the stream. Perhaps it was the dizzying color palette of greens, grays, browns and blacks — how could there be so many variations on so few colors? — punctuated by a few splashes of color from rhododendron blossoms. Perhaps it was the sense that this place was old, in a way that few places ever experienced by Americans can be without getting on an airplane to somewhere else. Perhaps it was all of the above. But whatever the

Without that chart, the dingy yellow walls in that pantry, under the stairs and adjacent to the kitchen, would have most assuredly received a badly needed refresh. There is no telling, with any degree of certainty, if my wife or I had ever met any of the people whose names were scribbled on that wall. But it didn’t matter, because the feeling was overwhelming: To paint over that chart would be worse than vandalism. It would be akin to attempting to erase a history — not only of the family, but of that very place. So, through the 15 years we called that place home, the banana-colored walls remained. And when our turn arrived, our children took their turn standing with their backs to the wall, grinning and giggling, perhaps along

with the house, as we added their names and marks for their height. When the time came to part ways, we paused one last time, to mark our kids’ heights on that pantry wall. We took a couple of photos of the wall and copied our kids’ measurements on a notepad, so we could pick it back up again in the new house. On the way out the door, we said one last goodbye, hoping the next residents — and our kids — would catch the hint and grasp the importance of pausing from time to time, to watch and listen, and perhaps catch the still-beating reverberations of the living echoes of the past.  Jonathan Bilyk writes about the triumphs and travails of being a modernday dad who legitimately enjoys time with his family, while tolerating a dog that seems to adore him. He also doesn’t really like the moniker “Superdad” because it makes it sound like he wants to wear his undergarments on the outside of his pants. (Also, the cape remains on back order.)

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Swing INTO

SUMMER The Primrose Farm Barn Dance is back By Erika Young | Photos provided by St. Charles Park District


here’s no better way to swing into summer than with the annual Barn Dance held at Primrose Farm on May 21. With music provided by Shout Section Big Band, directed by Brett Dean, and dance lessons courtesy of Vargo’s Dance in Geneva, this evening under the stars at the Farm promises to be a jive-hot step back in time. Not one to rest on the laurels of previous exceedingly popular events, Alison Jones, manager of farm programs and interpretive services, and the farm staff have kicked things up a notch for this year’s highstepping night of fun and food and fancy footwork. But for anyone whose footwork may be less than fancy, the folks from Vargo’s Dance will be providing dance lessons to help dancers get in the — well, swing of things. The Farm will open its doors at 5:50 p.m. to allow plenty of time to check in before dance lessons begin at 6:15 p.m. And learning swing dance can be that much more fun if one dresses in costumes of the era. Anyone wearing



period-appropriate clothes from the 1930s and ’40s can choose to participate in a costume competition. This contest will reward creativity and authenticity in capturing the era through vintage clothes and accessories, so get ready to raid your grandma’s closet or sift through area thrift stores. Just as taking a break from the rigors of seasonal chores at events such as barn dances was a popular form of entertainment for farm families back in the 1930s, so was the chance to show off the fruits of their harvest and talents in their kitchen with a pie baking contest. In the spirit of keeping it authentic, guests at this year’s barn dance are encouraged to show off more than their Lindy Hop by bringing a homemade pie to compete for bragging rights. During band breaks, pies will be judged based on appearance and taste. Winners will be announced during the final break of the evening. At that point, let the eating begin! “The pies will be served on a first-come, first-served basis,” says Jones. “Previously, this part of the evening has been a big hit, and hopefully we’ll have enough


Spring Ephemerals through May 31 for everyone to at least enjoy a little taste of these homemade delicacies. It makes for a fun, community event.” But if you’d rather pass on the pie, there are plenty of other food options added to the evening’s fun and entertainment. The fire pit will be lit and while enthusiastic observers or energetic dancers are taking a break from the foxtrotting and jitterbugging, they can head over to the fire and enjoy the sounds of the band while watching the sun set. Fernando’s Street Kitchen will be on-site with its food trailer grilling up tacos and other delicious items. Dancing in the barn can be an energetic pursuit, so when dancers need to cool their heels, tractor-drawn wagon rides around the farm fields will give them a chance to catch their breaths. “They’ll get to see the Farm in a

whole new light,” says Jones. Twinkle lights and kerosene lanterns give the farmyard a festive glow, and vases of fresh-cut flowers also add to the party atmosphere. And lest one forgets that all this food, fun and music is taking place at a working farm, several of Primrose Farm’s resident animals will be overlooking the fun as well. Most of the farm animals will be accessible for petting in the lots and pastures closest to the barn. The live music and dancing begin at 7 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m. Advance tickets are $17 per person through May 20 while those purchased at the door are $20 each. Food and beverages are additional. Primrose Farm is located at 5N726 Crane Road. For more details, visit www.primrosefarm.org.

The return of colorful blooms is a much welcome sign of Spring! To aid naturalist staff with this project, please share any pictures of flowering blooms found anywhere in Kane County – natural areas, parks, forest preserves, back yards, etc. Record your discoveries on the free app iNaturalist.

Search for our project:

Kane County, IL: Spring 2022 Ephemerals HICKORY CKORY KNOLLS CENTER

For more information, call Hickory Knolls Discovery Center at 630-513-4399.

Servicing St. Charles, Batavia, Aurora, Elburn, Geneva, Naperville, Wheaton, Elgin, Fox Valley & Chicago suburbs.




get my love for perennials from my parents — my mom and dad have beautiful perennial gardens that they have been tending for over 30 years. My dad asked me the other day to recommend some shrubs as he has pretty much every perennial that grows in Illinois! I promised him a list, then realized it would make a great article, too! Shrubs are one of my favorite “genres” of plant material. I’ve come to appreciate their versatility and longevity in the garden as well as their value to pollinators and ease of maintenance. I am still a “perennials girl” but shrubs have edged out perennials lately in my own garden additions. Here’s some of my favorites (and my list for you, Pops!).  SMALL FLOWERING • Black chokeberry ‘Lowscape Mound’: this little guy is an excellent border shrub with spring flowers and good fall color. • Flowering quince: an old-fashioned shrub that has been bred to be smaller; a relative to apples that flowers with a large, jewel pink, red or coral flower in early spring. • Beautyberry: a little-known shrub that has purple berries in fall. Some have purple foliage too! • Hydrangea ‘Bobo,’ ‘Little Lime,’ ‘Firelight Tidbit,’ etc.: there are SO many new hydrangeas that run the gamut from 3 feet tall up to 10 feet tall and everything in between — there is one for every garden!! It’s a full-time job to keep up with the hydrangea introductions… • Azalea ‘Karen’: I love this little azalea as it’s hardier and easier than most rhododendrons, only grows to about 3 feet tall and blooms hot pink in early spring, a good burgundy fall/winter color too! • Deutzia: I use them frequently in designs; small, belllike flowers in pink or white, long bloom time (several weeks in spring), and a nice mounding habit that rarely needs pruning.

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• Diervilla ‘Kodiak Red/Orange/Black’: these tough shrubs are durable with great color, small yellow flowers in summer followed by good fall color, drought-tolerant, take some shade; makes a good border or foundation plant!  LARGE FLOWERING • Vernal witch hazel: a little-known native shrub that blooms in March with fragrant, orchid-like flowers, makes a good specimen large shrub/small tree with some pruning over time, tolerates a fair amount of shade (Common witch hazel is a cousin that blooms in fall — also native). • Sorbaria ‘Sem’: this unique shrub is good for places where not much else grows and you want something to spread and colonize, has bright lemon yellow ferny foliage with orange highlights, grows to about 4-6 feet tall but can spread to twice that with time.

• Ninebark: these are the shrubs for you if you have rabbits as they don’t usually bother them; the larger varieties can get up to 8 feet tall and make great screening shrubs. The dwarf forms are good foundation shrubs. • Doublefile viburnum: an interesting architecture in the garden with long horizontal branches covered with flat, baseball-sized flowers in midspring, can be finicky with cold temps so locate it in town or in a semiprotected spot rurally, great fall color, good for a spot you may need something horizontal vs. vertical.  SHRUBS WITH FOOD FOR BIRDS • Deciduous holly: I adore the deciduous hollies! ‘Berry Poppins’ and her male friend, ‘Mr. Poppins,’ reward you with bright red berries in October that last until spring when the cedar waxwings and jays pluck them clean, fairly “boring” in the spring/summer so use in a border where you can have one male for every two to three females and other plants for summer color. • Viburnum: this big family of plants is tried-and-true, white flowers that are always good for pollinators and bear fruit for birds, great fall colors, tough and versatile. Most of them are large so can be used as specimens or as large screening shrubs. A couple are fragrant too! • Elderberries: these are great substitutes for Japanese maples if you have a site that doesn’t work for the maples; deeply cut burgundy (comes in lemon yellow too) leaves with large, paper plate-sized flowers and clusters of fruit for the birds.  LITTLE-KNOWN SHRUBS THAT ARE COOL NONETHELESS • Bottlebrush buckeye: colonizing

shrub that grows to about 6-8 feet tall and wide, shade lover that can take a few years to establish, good flowers for hummingbirds and other pollinators, great for edge of woodlands. • American hazelnut: native shrub that has actual hazelnuts that you can eat if you beat the squirrels or deer to them, great fall color, tough and good for screening. • Saint-John’s-wort: the pollinators will LOVE you if you plant this summerblooming beauty with bright yellow flowers. After flowers fade, the seed heads have attractive fall/winter interest; some varieties are native. • Buttonbush: super cool native shrub that tolerates wet feet, little white round flowers in summer followed by good fall color, can grow fairly large with time so give some room, great around drainage swales or soggy spots in yard. • Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’: this is one of the coolest plants you’ll ever see! Steely BLUE foliage, good for part shade gardens, smaller stature (maybe 3-4 feet max) and amazing fall color. A collector’s item! (Protect from rabbits when young or they will go missing over the winter…)

Let us grow them into the garden of your dreams.

• Itoh peonies: these beauties are peonies x100, large crepe-papery flowers with amazing fragrance, and fancy colors such as peach, yellow, pale pink and red. Treat these like a shrub and don’t trim them at all other than to cut off spent flowers. Flower production increases with age. • Clethra: excellent shrub for areas that might be a bit wetter in the garden; fragrant flowers in summer attract tons of butterflies and hummingbirds, bright yellow fall color.

Meagan is the Senior Landscape Designer at Wasco Nursery in St. Charles. She can be reached at 630-584-4424 or design@ wasconursery.com. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!



Club meetings are on the first Tuesday of the month — join one to see if you’d like to get involved! Learn more on Facebook or at www.genevagardenclub.com.

GROWING IN community GENEVA GARDEN CLUB APPROACHES 100 YEARS OF CAMARADERIE AND FRIENDSHIP By Louise Treeny | Photos provided by Geneva Garden Club

ore than 90 years ago, two women started Geneva Garden Club with the goals of beautifying and educating the community about gardening. Now, about 80 members carry on their legacy, working toward those same goals, managing gardens around Geneva and meeting to discuss their own plots. “It’s an incredible group of talented, creative women who care about their community,” says Deb HallReppen, the group’s president. Hall-Reppen joined Geneva Garden Club in March 1996. Her interest in art and craft projects is a natural example of the club’s embrace of different talents: Hall-Reppen is going to sell her garden art at the upcoming plant sale. “You can share whatever your talent is,” says Pam Cabeen, publicity chair. A number of members volunteer at the Kane County Jail’s community garden, working alongside inmates. The resulting conversations about family, recipes and growing your own food have added to the success of the initiative. Other projects include tending CASA Kane County’s outdoor garden by the courthouse, planting urns



near Third Street and the Geneva History Museum, and a remembrance walkway for Geneva’s local American Legion chapter. The group raises money for local students who are studying sustainability and horticulture as well, furthering the goal for gardening education. “I think that the biggest misconception is that we’re ‘ladies who lunch’!” writes Hall-Reppen in an email. “First and foremost, we’re ladies who get down into the dirt, and plant, and weed, and educate, and beautify. Then we raise money so that we can plant and educate and beautify some more. Then we have lunch and celebrate!” Both Hall-Reppen and Cabeen describe the group as welcoming, educational and not cliquey. Many members’ gardens are a mix of flowers and vegetables, but a big garden is certainly not a requirement to be a part of the fun. “It’s not just flowers in your garden,” says Cabeen. “It’s so much more.” SPONSORED BY:

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THESE 2 EVENTS:  GARDEN SALE: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 14 at 2360 Kaneville Road, Geneva. You’ll find cuttings from members’ plants, all in good condition, along with yard art, coasters and more! Proceeds will go toward future projects.  FABYAN JAPANESE GARDEN DEDICATION: June 5 at Fabyan Forest Preserve. The ceremony will take place near the river and is open to the public. It will honor the late Darlene Larson, a former member who spent 40 years restoring the garden.






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ara* was a young, promising orthodontist who was invited to buy into an established practice. She was thrilled with the opportunity and signed the paperwork she was provided, including a Buy-Sell agreement. It was explained to her that if something should happen to any of the firm’s partners, this would ensure that the rest of the owners would not be stuck with an unintended owner who could not contribute to the business. This seemed to make sense and as she had no experience with agreements like this, she trusted that the other partners knew what they were doing. Six months later when one of the partners was unexpectedly killed in an automobile accident, she learned she should have asked more questions. She learned that this agreement was “unfunded” and suddenly she was faced with a requirement that she cut a six-figure check in order to buy out her portion of the deceased partner’s ownership position. As she was still paying off student loans, this dream situation had suddenly become a nightmare. Small, privately-held businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, making up nearly 45% of GDP. Owners of these businesses often put considerable blood, sweat and tears into building and running their business. They also often do not plan for what would happen if any of the following were to happen



to one of their business partners: • Death • Disability • Retirement • Divorce • Separation of Service/Resignation If you are one of these entrepreneurs, you don’t want to risk your business interest falling into the hands of someone who might not care for it. Some form of a Buy-Sell agreement can help keep the business under the owners’ control rather than having a portion of the business pass to the eliminated business owner’s family or ex-spouse. By establishing a Buy-Sell agreement early on, you can eliminate the risk of an unexpected event creating havoc. When set up correctly, a Buy-Sell agreement can help protect both business owners and the former business owner’s family.  KEY CONSIDERATIONS Due to space constraints, we cannot cover all the key considerations that should be taken into account here. Suffice to say that working with a qualified financial advisor and legal counsel is highly recommended. They should be able to walk you through everything from plan structure (for example, Cross-Purchase vs. Entity Agreement) to valuation methods for the business. What we do want to take a moment to discuss is the act of funding the plan.

 FUNDING A BUY-SELL AGREEMENT For the remaining owners to buy out a former owner’s business interest, they must have funds available. During this stressful time owners do not need the burden of having this additional business expense. The easiest way to avoid this scenario is to set up funding for the agreement as soon as it is established. There are various options for funding a Buy-Sell agreement. Some may be tempted to simply establish a reserve account. Another option, which also carries heavy risk, is to wait and simply take out a loan should something happen to one of the owners. The strategy that carries the least risk, however, is using life insurance and disability insurance to fund the agreement. It ensures that funds are immediately available when a crisis occurs and typically the cost of funding is comparatively attractive.  NOW WHAT? A Buy-Sell agreement can be essential to the survival and efficient management of a company. By establishing and funding the agreement early on and reviewing it as your business changes, you can ensure the best possible outcome for your business no matter what the future may bring. Make it a priority this week to either establish one or review yours.

Photo by Indre Cantero

 Tom McCartney is the Founding Principal of My Advisor & Planner and a Wealth Manager. Securities and Investment Advisory Services Offered Through Raymond James Financial Services, a Registered Broker/Dealer and Investment Adviser, Member FINRA/ SIPC. My Advisor & Planner is independently owned and operated.

Tom and his team can be reached at info@ mapyourfuture.net, at 630-457-4068, or you can visit them at www.mapyourfuture.net .

*Name changed to protect privacy. This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney, tax advisor or plan provider. Any opinions are those of Tom McCartney and not necessarily those of Raymond James.