Thru the Windshield

By Marjorie Kliseoo-logo

Speaking of orchids and onions…oh, yeah, we weren’t really speaking of that. But it is such a good way to clearly show the difference between good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant.

So, here is my summer onion:
My fence goes down. Hit by a car? Blown by the wind? No matter. It is down. So, I called my insurance agent and, yes, I have replacement insurance. He calls the adjustor. The adjustor looks and calls with a value (less than 1/5th of what I paid for it over fifteen years ago). Since the price of lumber and labor will have gone up over the years, I object. I go out looking for bids. It is a busy time for
carpenters who do custom work and I am late getting on their schedule but several come. Most want to put in a pre-fab fence. I want replacement. I make more calls. Finally, I have only one bid. So I call my agent again to seek some help. “Does he have a contractor I could contact…this must happen often in his line of business?” His response, after consultation with the ‘experts’ in the office, was “to try the Yellow Pages.” (As if I had been calling names and numbers off the police blotter). And then he added that “if you put in a claim, you know your premiums will go up.” Was that a threat? I give up. He wins. I don’t get a replacement fence. Really big ONION experience.

On the other hand we have to concentrate on the Orchids in our lives:
My gutters badly need a serious cleaning, and they are also showing age and wear, so I call my roofer. He comes out to the house. He doesn’t send an apprentice or an adjuster. He comes within 48 hours. He looks carefully, offers several ideas and finally, he suggests that another company could do a good job and cheaper. And they probably could get to it sooner. HE calls the company. HE gets the bid. HE sets up the appointment. And I am ready to go. MY hero! My ORCHID.

How do we live our lives? As Orchids? As Onions? I am trying really hard to forget the ‘smelly’ agent and enjoy the ‘fragrant’ roofers in my life. Life is too short for the negatives to take up so much room.


Thru the Windshield…as others see us passing by.


by Marjorie Klise

Ours is a neighborhood of walkers.  We have those who need the exercise. We have dog owners out for their regular routine. The students and faculty enjoy the chance to wander away from campus into the local neighborhood. And some folks just have to get from one place to another and choose to walk by our homes.

It took several years to convince people that the quarter of a dollar it costs to leave your porch light on each night was worth it but we now know that we all feel safer at night when we are out and about. The area is much brighter. The walkers can avoid fallen branches and uneven pavement. Our houses look better. It says “Welcome” in a quiet way.

And now for the final touch…that glimpse inside our houses!  Of course no one wants excess exposure. We all value our privacy. That is totally understood by all. But what about just a peek? Raise a shade. Open a curtain. Pull back a drape.

We all love Tom Kallister’s grandfather clock looking out at us. Bonnie White’s elegant urn of flowers thrilled us all. The platters over the fireplace.The Christmas tree all lit and aglow. That library light reflecting on the bookcase. Such warmth and charm.

When all the windows are dark it is like trying to communicate with someone who will not open their eyes to us. The barrier is off-putting. Can we find that one window or foyer door or side porch where we can raise that shade or adjust that drape and say, once more,

“Welcome walkers.  You are among friends!”

Thru the Windshield… how do we look to those passing by?

By Marjorie Klise

Some summer questions/observations:

We have lost many of our beautiful large trees in the last few years. They are so vital to the character of our neighborhood. Is there a re-planting plan in place?

Have you noticed the presence of new young families? Children out playing? Welcome, all! We need your fresh ideas….and your strong bodies.

Are we more comfortable with the new traffic pattern at the Main and University intersection? The water gardens looked poorly this spring but perked up and came alive by summer. Good ecological message as well as a visual plus.

Is the corner of Bradley and Duryea looking particularly icky of late?

The lot at Union Hill and Moss had great promise as the owners planted prairie flowers and grasses and planned new construction. We are hoping things progress in the months ahead to make that area an inviting entrance to our neighborhood.

Speaking of Union Hill….will we ever get the ‘green wall’ we were promised when the wall went up? And what about the new trees that were going to replace all those we lost to the parking lot?

Harry’s Garden looks so nice. Thank to Norma and Ray. Can we take some time to tell some ‘Harry” stories sometime soon?   What a guy!

And now, do you want to hear the best story of the summer? Just to acknowledge that we are a special people? Well, there was an important neighborhood meeting scheduled to discuss a possible major investment in the area. Mrs. and Mr. X planned to attend. They knew it was important. Their hair was combed, the car was ready, and then the phone rang. The doctor delivered great positive medical news! So they turned back and popped the champagne cork and stayed home to celebrate. We applaud their choice.

We know our priorities!

Thru the Windshield: How do we look to those passing by?

Submitted by Marjorie Klise

According to the discussion at City council (Tuesday, Oct 28) things are moving in the East Bluff. What a plan!

All the handicapped will live in one block. And the subsidized units will be in another. Perhaps they will paint all the houses on another block green and have the Irish live there. Would a scarlet shade in another block do for the single mothers trying to raise their families? Maybe a row of  Quonset huts for returning veterans is a good idea. (Is this new urban planning? We used to call that segregation.)

In ‘unplanned neighborhoods’ we all live together. All mixed up. Two story duplexes have people updater who can be of service to their disabled neighbors on the first floor. And the Irish guy will meet and take a young boy who is living without a father to a ball game. Streets develop with similar sized structures because it looks right. And many have similar features. Can you imagine a house without a front porch! There is proportion and compatibility to the eye.

We blend, we compliment and we create community. Of course there are those few oddities to prove the rule, but no one group of buildings stands out. This diversity within harmony makes for beautiful music. And a nice place to live.

Thru the Windshield: How do we look to those passing by?

Submitted by Marjorie Klise

Look around. There is much to see in this neighborhood.

At first you might think this is the normal middle-class neighborhood. There are houses of varying sizes and shapes. Nothing too lavish and large. No mega mansions with three stall garages out front. Many of the small houses call for a second glance. Some yards are large and manicured, and others are smaller, detailed yards and there are some that are obviously played on by children on trikes and swing sets.

But don’t let our normalness distract you. Look closely at those front porches. The chairs are filled with people chatting and laughing and sipping adult beverages. Then look down that deadend street to see the raised platform with a live band playing and people relaxing in lawn chairs or on the curbside. The children run and dance and lick ice cream cones.

What about the couple busily digging and planting and reconfiguring the corner flower bed? Or the group of neighbors harvesting the crop grown by volunteers in our Greenway plot?
See the new ‘garden room’ going up?
See the new paint job?

Don’t miss the small group that is meeting to discuss who will represent us at the Historic commission meeting and who will host the holiday party.

Soon there will be some stalwart souls armed with ladders and pickup trucks assembling to hang the greens.

One neighbor helps another. If you need an answer, don’t hesitate to ask the question. When a problem arises, a solution will be found.

So look around and know that you are welcome in the Moss-Bradley neighborhood.

Thru the Windshield: How do we look to those passing by?

Submitted by Marjorie Klise

Our first fall monthly meeting of the neighborhood organization started out calmly enough. We praised an amazing neighbor for generous work on behalf of all of us, we learned about new ways to communicate neighborhood news and information, and we welcomed representatives of the police department who do such a good job of providing safety and security for all of us……

…..but then, it seemed to me, to all go NIMBY on a very small scale. Some residents sense an increase of traffic on their street. Some resented speeders on their street. Others had to change their routines slightly to avoid perceived congestion.

All of these are serious concerns and needed to be handled by the very generous members of city staff who came, in the evening, to answer our questions and update us on all things traffic. They listened and told us their plans. But we soon turned to suggestions of how we could solve these problems by sending them to other streets, to become other people’s problems.

I think we are better than that. We know, certainly, if a driver can’t come down my street he/she will drive down someone else’s street. If I can’t wait an extra minute at a traffic signal then I can’t blame another driver for cutting thru residential streets because of his/her busy schedule.  And if I don’t slow my speed, we can’t ask others to ease up to 20 mph.

We have had quite an upheaval with intersection construction, traffic delays, new speed limits, narrowed lanes and it will take some adjustment and tweaking. However as we make these adjustments I trust that we will consider that this is our neighborhood, these are our streets and we live in an inner city of commerce and education and residency where we work to make life better for us all!

Thru the Windshield…How do we look to those passing by?

Submitted by: Marjorie Klise

Our new year has begun and the Moss Bradley Residential Association calls its members and friends to join in making sure that our neighborhood is one that is strong, inclusive, friendly and productive. With that in mind we will take a few minutes here to take inventory and make sure that we are reaching those ambitious goals.

Are we strong?  Our voices are heard and respected by city officials. We host candidates’ night and vote in large numbers. We carry out activities and projects that promote our area and the good of the city as a whole.

Are we inclusive? All residents are part of any discussion, paid members or not. Renters are welcome as members and their input is appreciated. We coexist with educational and religious institutions where we support each other and work out difference when they occur.

Are we friendly? No one parties like we do! Our front porches are always filled with neighbors and conversation. The amazing number of dog-walkers act as ‘town criers’ and they spread the news to all.

Are we productive?  We raise funds to support our efforts. Our Moss Ave Sale and annual dues make possible our holiday evergreen swags, our Patriotic Ice cream Social and other celebrations thruout the year. We are represented at City hall commissions and hearings. We contribute financially and offer support  to other organizations that promote neighborhood health.

BUT, there is always room for improvement. So come to our next meeting…..the first Wednesday of every month…and help us do even better. We all have ideas…and complaints…and questions…and solutions.  Come with your ideas and questions. Bring your plans. Listen to others. Our Board of Directors will ask and we will tell and MBRA will be even stronger, more inclusive, friendlier and more productive because of you!

Thru the Windshield…How do we look to those passing by?

Submitted by: Marjorie Klise

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”  – Aristotle

This is a quote that we should all post up on our bulletin board. So often the first tendency is to respond “no way”, “won’t work”, “too hard” before we even “entertain the thought”.  I would imagine that many great ideas are lost just because they are quashed before they get that chance of a second look.. And conversely, what a joy it must be to be in the room when an impossible plan takes life.

Who said, “No way. We can’t form a small group to raise enough money and then buy and resell houses in order to attract new neighbors and save our unique building stock?” Voila…the Moss Bradley Revolving Fund!

Who said, “Wont work. …people won’t sell engraved bricks to raise money to fix up an unsightly triangle of ground at a focal point of the neighborhood. Who will lay the bricks and water the plantings? And we don’t think that the neighbors will continue this work for years to come”? Voila…Tricorn Park!

Who said, “Crazy!  How could we possibly buy/acquire almost all the houses, plus an abandoned gas station on the east side of Western Avenue, landscape the area and provide a beautiful buffer between traffic and homes”? Voila…our Western Avenue Greenway!

There are so many impossible deeds that become reality just because someone, some time, some where ‘entertains a thought’ instead of immediately crying uncle. Where is the next crazy plan? What is our next impossible task? It can be done and we have the history to prove it.

Thru the Windshield…How do we look to those passing by?

Thru the Windshield…How do we look to those passing by?
Submitted by: Marjorie Klise

Do you know the pain of birth? If not, ask your wife or your sister. Or better yet, ask your mother. Birth is hard but even scripture tells us that the subsequent joy is greater.

We are about to see the birth of a total new look at our largest neighborhood traffic intersection. The city traffic engineers provided ample opportunity for citizen input. The engineers and planners listened to our needs, our fears, our concerns and our wish list. And they gave us a plan. We tweaked that. And they listened again. And again. We have a unique sight project ahead of us. (It is a shame that none of the adjacent neighborhood groups sent representation to the Traffic Commission meeting where we could have shown our support.)

So we have a plan. The painful birth process begins now. We will have traffic delays. We will have traffic detours. We will have inconvenience beyond belief. But we will make the best of it. We will survive. Please be patient.

With porous pavement and water drain-off planters and attractive benches and safe pedestrian crossing, plus slower traffic and calming devices on the side streets, our neighborhood will thrive and our neighborhood businesses will flourish.

Birth is painful yet beautiful.


Thru the Windshield

How do we look to those passing by? Observations…questions…hopes…concerns
by Marjorie Elise

There are certain facts that occur to us…and surprise us…and prove to be so true that we wonder why we didn’t know it before now. Here are a few that shouldn’t have surprised me:

  •  If you pass a plate of cookies and fudge, the  fudge goes first!
  • Taking down holiday decorations isn’t as much fun as putting them up
  • Lego sets seem to take up a lot of time for fathers and mothers. Aren’t these supposed to be for kids? And if they are for adults why are there l00 teeny-tiny required pieces in each set that immediately get lost under the table or behind the sofa cushions?
  • Snow and ice are both just frozen water but snow is fun and romantic and good while ice is treacherous, dangerous and bad. Why?
  • If you have a drawer full of A, AA, AAA and D batteries, why does the toy require the XYZ variety?
  • Simple outdoor holiday decorations for a house are so much more attractive than the Disneyland over-the-top displays.
  • A big party is great….so much fun for everybody, but what about  that phone call that says ‘come on over right now for a glass of wine and some cheese…and maybe stay for chili if you’d like’…that’s the greatest!
  • We are surrounded by need and sickness and sadness every day of the year….and do nothing about it. But when a disaster occurs we rise to the occasion, open our wallets, give of our talents, and bring food where needed. Why don’t we heal the sick, feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted just because we can… and tomorrow and next week? What a world this would be!

Items of concern: Are we the masters of our destiny?

by Marjorie Klise

As we look out over a new year it is always wise to look at those issues that  cause concern for the neighborhood. We are fortunate to be well organized in the West Bluff. We have the strength to address our concerns. We may be able to find solutions. Two of these concerns that need our attention are grocery shopping and internet service. We are losing the neighborhood Aldi’s store and our area is not served by AT&T as far as fiber optic availability is concerned.

Aldi’s has been a vital part of this neighborhood’s grocery shopping for several years. It is a convenient place to shop. It is small enough to allow us to get in and out efficiently. It has wonderful fresh produce, quality canned goods and unique ‘specials’ to perk up our dining experience. This store provided the only national chain shopping opportunity between Harmon Highway and the 4200 block of Sheridan or the 3300 block of Sterling. We have seen what happens to neighborhoods that have no stores and it is not a good sight! Can we do anything to re-attract this business to our area?

The second issue is that AT&T provides many of us with our Internet connection. But it has been noticed that this service is very slow and below normal power. According to one of their technicians who came to my house to investigate this deficiency, AT&T has chosen to target their resources and install fiber optic potential in the northern end of Peoria…and they have NO plans for updating those of us who live in the West Bluff. Large institutions (i.e. Bradley University) have their own program so they aren’t pressuring AT&T for that update. We can certainly sign up for Comcast or other cable connection (which have their own problems) but why should we have to?

Please plan to attend our monthly neighborhood meetings where we can voice our preferences as to how we should address these two areas. We are presently under-served as far as vital services are concerned. As a group we are strong. As individuals our needs and opinions are easily over-looked.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Moss Bradley Residential Associations or its Board of Directors

Thru the Windshield

How do we look to those passing by? Observations…questions…hopes…concerns
by Marjorie Elise

The New Year brings snow and frigid temperatures and time for reflection. The days darken before dinner and we hurry indoors to the security of hearth and home. The gardens and lawns can wait for spring before we need to return to their care. We have the luxury of a slower pace. So the subject of gratitude comes to the fore. It is good to take the time to list the many ways that we are gifted and blessed:

Many hours given by our MBRA officers and board to keep our neighborhood thriving.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Scrumptious food at potlucks and parties.

Shade trees and gardens and landscaping works of art.

Bradley University’s lectures, recitals and services to our community.

Restoration of historic homes to honor our predecessors and reward our progeny.

Awesome ideas that come from free and open monthly meetings.

Deceased friends who taught us well and left their mark.

Leadership of city council members who care about our issues.

Eager volunteers each and every time they are called upon.

Young families without whom we would dry up and fade away…welcome!

Indeed, we are blessed and grateful.

Thru the Windshield

How do we look to those passing by? Observations…questions…hopes…concerns
by Marjorie Klise

I was in San Francisco last week, and as usual when I am there, I attended a particular church service. It is one of those situations that reassure me of the amazing breadth of humanity.

The first clue that this is not your usual congregation is the fact that if you drive to church you just double park along a very busy street and give your keys to a total stranger! Some of these people are church staff and some are members of the local homeless community. They are able to move cars to let those who have parked on the inside depart if necessary. There is no tip or payment required when you retrieve your keys and drive away….just a smile and a thank you.

Upon entering the church it doesn’t take long for someone to recognize you as a newcomer, so you get a hug and a hearty welcome…and someone motions you to join them in a pew. I sat with a gentleman who is HIV positive, a public defender with the SF courts, an accountant and a homeless woman who is wheelchair bound and sight impaired. (Robin Williams was a congregant when I was there last time.) We found many ideas and thoughts to share and when the loud, brash and totally professional choir began to sing with the aid of a great band, we stood and clapped and swayed and finger-clicked and hugged some more. I am not normally a big hugger but there is no stopping these folks.

When the homily began with the statement that “we are all part of a radical inclusive community” it occurred to me that the Moss-Bradley area also is a radical inclusive community. Here on the west bluff we step up to offer our services to each other and don’t expect anything in return. We welcome the newcomers with coffee and hugs. We are a mix of color, politics, race and profession. And we take a risk. We attempt to include, not exclude.

So if you see a bit of a swagger in our step it is just because we know this inclusive life can not only work but that it is the only way to make this world a better place…and to pass on our rich radical heritage to those who come after.

(And if you go to San Francisco head for the Tenderloin and see what radical inclusiveness can look like on Sunday AM.)

Thru the Windshield

How do we look to those passing by? Observations…questions…hopes…concerns

by Marjorie Klise

Darn it! It looks like Chicago will beat us to the bragging rights of innovative traffic control. We have suggested, several times, to our traffic folks at City Hall that the Main and University intersection would be the perfect place to introduce the “all-way” pedestrian walk pattern.

This method is used on the east coast and the west coast of our country as well as in Europe…and it works. It is especially effective when there is a wide intersection with a variety of turn lanes and pedestrian destinations on all corners. Our site is ideal!

So…the lights are green for east-west bound traffic.

Give them the full 80/90 seconds. Then the lights are green for all north-south traffic. No ‘right on red’ allowed. AND THEN THE LIGHTS ARE RED FOR ALL TRAFFIC AND PEDESTRIANS BEGIN TO WALK. They walk curb to curb, corner to corner, straight or diagonal.

This gets everybody across the street….college students, school children, mothers with strollers, neighbors and customers. After 35 seconds we go back to the traffic lights allowing the traffic to move quickly and safely with no need to guess who should have the right of way.

Roundabouts are fine for bucolic English lanes where gentlemen doff their hats to each other and motion the other fellow to precede them into the merge. But I have seen very little hat-doffing at the Main and University intersection.

If Chicago likes it for State Street, can’t we show a certain amount of imagination and give it a whirl? This is a mater of re-programming a few traffic lights, adding the speed table concept and spending some of the leftover dollars on trees, plantings and benches.

Let’s try it.