If not for a card game, beautiful murals of the Chicago skyline and the Tri-Cities might never have graced the walls of the community building at The Crossings condominiums in Geneva.
How do cards and murals mix in such a way?
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Crossings resident Flora Kaindl joins other ladies to play cards on occasion in that building, and during one of those games some complained the large room produced an echo.
"I told them that some big pictures on the walls might absorb some of that echo, and they asked who I thought could provide some art," the 80-year-old Kaindl said. "Like a crazy, I said I could do it, and it proved to be quite an undertaking."
An undertaking, indeed. It was about six months of painting in an empty condo at the complex -- after several months of planning, she said.
But Kaindl, who moved to Geneva from Elk Grove Village just five years ago with her husband, John, completed three murals of Chicago, and then a 10-foot-by-5-foot mural of well-known sites in the Tri-Cities. The local mural took its place on the community room wall three weeks ago.
"I took some art classes in high school, but I have mostly been designing clothes forever," Kaindl said. "I also do a lot of quilting, and all of these things are like art."
The Tri-Cities mural highlights Johnson's Mound in Elburn, the Hotel Baker in St. Charles, and everything in between. You can spot the Batavia Methodist Church, the Pure Oil site and Delnor Hospital in Geneva, as well as the city logos for St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia.
To show how quickly a site can become part of our past, the mural also illustrates Mel's Diner in Geneva, which recently became State Street Diner.
While Kaindl enjoys painting, she is mostly focusing on making quilts for her grandchildren and First Communion replica doll dresses for young girls at St. Peter's in Geneva who want something to commemorate the sacrament.
"It all keeps your mind sharp," she said.
Cast those votes: The dance event of the year is nearly upon us. Yes, that's the fifth annual "Dancing with the Geneva Stars" Saturday, Feb. 9, at Eagle Brook Country Club.
You can support your favorite couples with as many $1 votes as you'd like at genevarts.org or through printed ballots at various Geneva locations. You can also buy tickets for the event online, and some seats are still available. But, as with past events, you should reserve those seats fairly quickly.
Of course, those who are fortunate enough to land a ticket for the event will also cast votes that night for their favorites.
Anyone who has ever participated as a dancer is likely to remember it fondly the rest of their lives. That includes the majority of the men, who often come into this fray relatively unsure of themselves. In the end, they know it was a great time.
Crimson for a night: Because attending a school board meeting would likely give me a headache, I can't say that I saw Geneva board member Mary Stith wearing an Alabama shirt last week, despite her allegiance to Notre Dame.
She had to wear it, and maybe eat a little crow, because fellow board member Tim Moran won a friendly wager between the two. Moran's son attends Alabama, Stith's attends Notre Dame.
Hey, there are worse colors to wear than the Crimson of the Tide.
For the homeless: Rosary High School freshman Emily Laughhead spent a fair amount of time just before the holidays raising money for Hesed House homeless shelter in Aurora.
An advocate for Type 1 diabetes research, Laughhead said she saw a homeless man on her way to school one day, and it inspired her to create a project for the homeless.
She collected $508 in going door-to-door in her North Aurora neighborhood, and she was able to purchase various items as Christmas gifts for those in the shelter.
You can visit her EmilysHope.org website to see what her efforts were all about.
Center's highlight: The LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva calls it the "highlight of the social season." If that's true, those who have received an invitation will surely want to attend the center's eighth annual Winter Wine Festival Saturday, Feb. 16, at the home of Ed and Karen French in St. Charles.
The fundraiser will feature wine, gourmet food, a live auction and music.
Jazz vocalist Tammy McCann will perform, while Eric Ferguson of 101.9FM The Mix will emcee.
For details, call Lori Hansen at (630) 262-1111.
A Charlestowne option?: Empty storefront windows at malls and in downtown areas around the globe are being put to use in a different way that we're likely to be hearing more about in the near future.
They become the perfect settings for digital stores in which companies display products and ads with QR -- quick response -- codes that allow a consumer to make a purchase with a smartphone right at the display window.
Does this mean that Charlestowne Mall could eventually become the first entirely digital shopping location in the world?
In a few more years, it could be a perfect fit. And are there any other viable options on the table?