For once in our lives we can be proud, smugly proud, of our brown lawns. We are saving water. We have made our statement that the planet is more important than a green lawn. So if your yard is brown, thank you.

Sympathy to the many friends, neighbors and relatives of Clare Chenicek, who died last week. George (who died a few years ago) and Clare were gentle, kind people who got along with everyone and were loved by all who knew them and especially by all the animals in town. I relearned a lesson by Clare’s death. Every time I drove past her house I’d say to myself “I’ve got to stop in and see how she is.” Alas I never did stop, and now it’s too late, as it often is in life. We tell ourselves do it now. And don’t.

Sympathy to Virginia Rossi and her family on the death of dear John Rossi, who loved his church, Cardinal Cody, the Knights of Columbus and the archdiocese of Chicago. John was a legend in his own time.

We can all sympathize with Illinois treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, who is in a state of anxiety over the health of her beloved dog,Andy.Andy is suffering from Cushing’s Disease. Our thoughts and prayers are with Judy and any animal lover who is going through that awful time of life. Joan Perell and her cat met Judy at the vet’s, where they exchenged animal stories.

The “Young Gourmets” at the Howard Mohr Community Center had a really great time under the supervision.of a real honest-to-goodness chef, Denise Murray, formerly one of the chefs at “The 95th” atop the Hancock Building and several other five star dining establishments. Chef Murray guided the young cooks as they created unique dishes. Here are Mallory Pergulski and her new friend Vicki Tanquary preparing Indian Flat Bread. Chef Murray has some great recipes, all of which can be mixed up in a plastic bag, including “breakfast in a bag,” home made doughnuts, and even ice cream! Among the many dishes the kids prepared were marshmallows, inside out burgers,home made soda, corn dogs and lemon shake-ups. The course for kids will be offered again in the fall and there are plans afoot for Chef Murray to offer an adult course on “meal in a minute” recipes. Sign us up!

Welcome to Forest Park to Cheryl Kizelevicus, a former Oak Parker who is working at Elmhurst Hospital as an Occupational Therapist. Cheryls company sends her to different places across the U.S. for three months at a time. She has recenlty returned from Ketchikan, Alaska. Before her Alaska venture, Cheryl worked at West Suburban Hospital and a hospital near Boston, Massachusetts. She is happy to be in her Forest Park apartment and anxious to check out all the bright lights of Madison Street. By the way, a few years ago while Cheryl was still in school, she worked for the Forest Park Review.

Author Sara Paretsky had quite a gathering at Centuries & Sleuths last Tuesday evening. Among the Foret Park fans of Ms.Paretsky were Betty Gilchrist, Terry and Tony Sarli and Mary Rose Loughran. Art Jones,Ed O’Shea and Andy Collis could only put their noses against the window and wish there were more room. Sorry, boys. Come earlier next time.

There are a few seats left on the August 10th community center bus for “A Kiss from Alexander”. No nudity,but lots of innuendo from what I gather. Chris Jones, critic from the Chicago Tribune, says “it’s by far the wittiest thing I’ve ever seen at Baliwick…”Lots of classical mythology references,”witty Aristophanic puns you’d expect from the Harvard lampoon,” wrote Jones. Be forwarned it’s a gay version of “the Producers”,and R-rated.

On to the birthdays:July 28 and a happy birthday to Brett McNeill; on the 29th the same to Debbie Wall,Hope Simon and Brent Marler; on July 30 Cecilia Rossi will be five years old already. Dan Venske also has a birthday on the 30th; On July 31 happy birthday to Kelly Rice. And here’s August already! On the 1st, happy birthday to Jon Scheiwe; August 2nd, Chris Behnke and Kathleen Marie Lane share a birthday; on the 3rd it’s Dyonne Scheiweand Carli Carlson; on August 4 Ashley Ernst, Sandy Boy, Brianna Nicole Balsavich get a birthday wish and Gary and Janet Fink get a happy anniversary wish. Belated happy birthday on July 20 to Ginger McKay.

Congratulations to the current library workers who will receive an unexpected bonus in their paychecks next week!

Jackie is a former Chicago and Elmwood Park schoolteacher with an undying love for music, friendly pets and a host of life's other treasures too numerous to list. She was born on the far southwest side...