Home / Columns

Columns

How long does it really take to buy a home?

That’s a huge question, especially for buyers who are looking to close at a specific time. Whether the end of your lease or the start of the school year is looming, this can be a time-sensitive issue that will need to be managed. Usually you can expect your home-buying process to take three to four months. With a timetable like that buying a home clearly should never be an impulse purchase. Here are some stages you can expect to pass through on your way to ownership. Your first step is to contact a lender regarding a pre-approval letter if you ...

Read More »

The ‘great unwind’ begins

The Federal Reserve kept rates steady in September but announced that it would begin to reduce its massive $4.5 trillion balance sheet of bonds. The Fed began buying mortgage and treasury bonds in early 2009 in an effort to artificially push interest rates down to help stimulate an ailing economy. This went on until December 2013 with a few pauses in between. The Fed’s balance sheet was roughly $800 billion at the time, so they have accumulated $3.7 trillion during that time period. The Fed announced in October that it would begin buying $10 billion less in bonds per month: ...

Read More »

So what should we call grandpa?

Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” but we should be asking, “What IS his name?” Recently I have been going through a lot of Cook County birth and death certificates, and it reminded me that people don’t always carry exactly the same name from birth through to death. We are all aware of the problems researchers in encounter because women tend to take the names of their husbands when they marry. But traditionally in Italy, women used their maiden names throughout their lives. It is easier to deal with looking for the birth of Anna Volpe in 1822 and the ...

Read More »

A Merry ‘Grustoli’ Christmas!

  Italian traditions don’t come and go. That’s why they’re traditions, and one way or the other, we figure out how to preserve them and pass them along to the next generation. When my mom passed away, she took her “grustoli” recipe with her — almost! My wife at that time, the former Marilyn Chao of Roseland’s Tea Garden Chinese Restaurant family (Fenger High class of January 1967), took the time to work with my mother, Angelina, as she baked a batch, and wrote down a complete recipe. My family and many others in Roseland know this traditional Italian treat as “grustoli,” though it’s ...

Read More »

Harris Theater ‘L’Orfeo’ underscores Monteverdi’s genius

All concerned at the very handsome Harris Theater are to be congratulated for staging Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo,” the first of the three works by that composer to be performed as part of the windup of the international ‘Monteverdi 450’ tour. (A production of this trio of early operas concluded the tour at the Lincoln Center in New York.) For one like myself, who has experienced and has come to love opera based on seeing and hearing operas strictly from the Classic and Romantic periods (Mozart through Puccini) for over half a century, “L’Orfeo” definitely presented some revelations. Most importantly, Claudio Monteverdi ...

Read More »

“Fall” into spring

The end of the year is nearing and in the blink of an eye the spring real estate market will be here. If you tackle certain issues before the snows hit, you could prevent damage that results in costly repairs or a lower selling price when you’re ready to put your home up for sale. Let’s start on the outside with your siding and gutters. If you’re gutters are clogged, the winter ice and snow can accumulate and damage them. Many people are reluctant to get onto a long ladder and climb up just to check on the status of ...

Read More »

The Fed keeps a steady hand

The September meeting of the Federal Reserve Board came and went without a move. The Fed had hoped to raise rates at least four times in 2017, but ended up limiting upward motion to only two quarter-point increases. They chose to stop raising rates when inflation remained below their target range of 2 percent even with low unemployment. In addition to a more dramatic rate increase, the Fed had hoped to start selling some of their $4.5-trillion balance sheet. The balance sheet started below $1 trillion back when the Fed began buying bonds in early 2009. They did this in ...

Read More »

A microfilm research roadmap

This has been a summer and fall of big news in genealogy both nationally and in Chicago. In mid-July, the Family History Library decided to end their program of sending microfilm to local family history centers. The decision was made due to technological advancements as well as rising microfilm copying costs. I’m sure most of you know that when you are researching your ancestral towns in Italy, you need to choose which microfilms you need based on which record type you want (birth, marriage, death, allegati, processeti etc.) and which year range you need in order to find your immigrant ...

Read More »

The many faces of Thanksgiving

What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving Day? The Thanksgiving celebrations of our youth will yield one answer. And if you’re talking about Thanksgiving today, the answer will be completely different. And what about your favorite Thanksgiving memory? The truth is that our view of Thanksgiving has most likely changed over time as we have been exposed to a variety of celebrations. My family would gather at my parent’s home every Sunday for the family lunch meal. Ma — God knows there’s no way I’d be calling her “Mom,” that was for the American kids — would put ...

Read More »

The power of pasta

With red sauce running through my veins and olive oil on my skin, I love as much as any Italian American. And through the years, as I grew my career in music, I brought backstage with me as much of the pasta-and-meatball experience as I could. What started with my grandmother in Chicago’s Little Italy on Taylor Street where I was born has turned into a part of my rock ’n’ roll business model. Sadly I never met my grandparents. My Nonna Sabina came over from Naples in 1911 to start a new life in America. She died two weeks ...

Read More »