Introducing Our New Sales Manager

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Wilcox People

Two weeks ago Deb Cooper joined the Maples at the Sonatas staff as its new home sales Deb2consultant. Deb, who also answers to Coop, is new to the community and our Epcon homes, but she brings with her 15 years of experience in sales of new construction.

Though she is busy learning the ins and outs of her position, she graciously took time to chat with me for this post. Here’s what I’ve learned about her.

“I’m a people person,” she told me. “I love to listen to them talk and hear their story. Everyone who comes in the door has a story to tell. You can learn from everybody.” She paused, smiled, and added, “Well… I like to talk too!”

Deb especially enjoys selling new homes. She said, “I love helping people make their dreams come true, helping them with probably the biggest purchase of their lives. My first goal is to get the right home for the right person and see that they are happy. That comes before making money.”

Deb lives just 12 miles away in Marengo, with her husband and her Airedale, Kodi. She has been familiar with Woodstock for a long time. She and her husband have been coming here to go to Farm Fleet and Harley Davidson, and they like to have breakfast on the square.

It was more recently that she learned about the existence of Maples at the Sonatas. She noticed a sign on Highway 47 when she and her husband were on their way to Crandall’s in Hebron. But Deb had not visited our community until the day she came here to interview with Jamie Wilcox.

She learned about the job opening from a girlfriend who had seen it online. Deb studied the Maples website and liked what she saw. She submitted her resume online and soon received a call from Jamie. “I had such a good feeling about this,” she said. “From the beginning, it just felt right.”

Her first impressions have been all positive. Of the The Maples, she said, “This is the cutest place. It’s quaint like Woodstock, unique like Woodstock.” Of her new boss, she said, “I want to work for someone like Jamie, someone who is successful but also a family man.”

Finally, I asked her to sum up herself  in two sentences. If you think that’s easy, try to do it yourself. Here is Deb’s answer: “I try to be honest and sincere. I love life.”

Deb enjoys meeting both buyers and homeowners. If you’d like to stop in to say hi, she works Thursdays through Mondays.


Cubs Fever Never Ends

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Awards/recognitions / Just for Fun

My right hand is bothering me this afternoon. It’s not sore, really. It’s more like it’s lonely.

I think my hand might be missing the Cubs championship ring that I was privileged to wear for a few moments this morning. Doesn’t it look good on my finger?


Let me back up and explain. Today was my monthly breakfast with several English department people I taught with before we all retired. One of them, Tony Casalino, undoubtedly has the coolest retirement job of anyone I know. He is also the proud owner of the ring.

Tony is in his eighth season working for the Chicago Cubs. He is currently a supervisor in guest services, having also worked as an usher and in ticketing. And he was thrilled to learn he would receive one of the 1908 rings that the Cubs gave out.

There are different categories of rings, Tony explained. The ones the players and front office people received are larger and heavier than his. They are adorned with 108 diamonds, along with rubies and sapphires. Tony’s ring, by comparison, has  21 cubic zirconia stones but no real gems.

Tony and his fellow staff members received their rings a few days after the players were given theirs. And that timing worked out well for him. On the night of the official players’ ring ceremony, Tony and his wife were in California for the birth of their second grandchild. It looks like baby Will is fated to be a Cubs fan too, since he was born at the moment the championship banners were being raised at Wrigley Field. Did I mention that Tony was a drama teacher? His whole family obviously has a flair for the dramatic.

Tony was back home in time to receive his ring. He said his supervisor gave him the box before a game but told him not to open it until after the game. Then Tony and his coworkers all saw their rings at the same time and celebrated with champagne.

Receiving his ring capped a magical time of celebrating the Cubs World Series victory. Tony also rode in the celebration parade in November and has this keepsake photo of himself with the trophy.


If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may think that you have seen the name Casalino before. Last year I wrote about Tony’s son, James Casalino, the proud dad of baby Will and his older sister, Hannah. James is the mechanical engineer who headed up the team that designed and constructed the set for the halftime shows of five Super Bowls.

If you would like to take another look at that post, you will find it here. It still holds the record for the most views of any of the 271 posts on my blog.


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Construction / Nature

One of my favorite parts of spring is all of its new beginnings. Flowers reappear from the soil and bloom again. Or they are planted for the first time, sharing color and fragrance from their very beginning. Baby animals come into the world. Trees begin another year by putting on their loveliest blossoms. Like this one.


And it’s not only nature celebrating new beginnings. The Maples is all about new beginnings too. For as long as we remain a community under construction, we will offer folks new beginnings, whether it’s a new home or a new home in a new town.

If you are looking for a do-over in your life, you can find that here. Choose a brand new, never-been-lived-in-before home, perhaps for your first time ever. Come surround yourself with people who know nothing about who or what you have been. Then reveal as much or as little as you want as you make friends.

There is a beauty in new construction. It’s not exactly like trees or flowers or puppies. It’s more about angles and symmetry and rising profiles. It is a fleeting beauty because most of it will be covered up during the building process. But it is to be enjoyed in its brief moment, much like the blossoms in the photo above.



Oh, yes, the lumber smells great too! It’s an aroma that will last for months after you move in.


Breathe deeply. This is the smell of home.

Welcoming Spring

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Nature / Neighbors / Social Life

Yes, spring has sprung here at the Maples. After countless days of dark, cold skies, punctuated by driving rain, the sun returned today. And a most welcome visitor it was.


This afternoon I sat at my computer, diligently working on a writing project. At one point, I glanced out the window behind my monitor and saw activity across the street. First, it was two neighbors talking near our community garden. Then a third came along and joined the conversation. Next a neighbor and his dog stopped to chat with them. By the time I got outside with my camera, two more had joined the group.

These impromptu gatherings are indeed a sign of spring, as much as the greening grass and budding perennials. We are a group of people who enjoy each other’s company. And after a winter’s hibernation, it felt great to spontaneously get together outdoors.

Most of the time, we chat about little things. Today’s conversations focused on spring topics, like what to plant in the garden and how to get rid of the pesky box elder bugs that have returned.

No, our gathering at the garden did not solve any of the problems of the world. But it added a little more happiness to this sunny, early spring day. And that was enough.

The Happiness Quotient

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Mostly Musings / Neighbors / Woodstock

I was feeling happy that morning as I began another day of retirement. And why not?

I had slept until after 8, with no alarm clock or cat waking me up. Sunshine was streaming in my windows. Angie and Shadow kept me company, until they left for their own happy places in the sunroom.

I had finished breakfast and was reading my print copy of the Chicago Tribune while I sipped a second mug of Dark Magic coffee. Though I may not have been fully conscious of my happiness, I truly was. Life was very, very good.

Then, a few pages into the paper, a headline caught my eye: Sadly, U.S. happiness ranking falls, now 14th. How could that be? It ran jarringly counter to my mood.

So I read the article. Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press was reporting on the latest World Happiness Report. It ranks the countries of the world on their overall happiness, based on a combination of economic, health, and polling data. Our country, in fact, had slipped from 13th to 14th place in a year’s time.

So which are the happiest countries on Earth? This year Norway tops the list, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland. Isn’t it interesting that all five are in the same general region of the world? As Borenstein points out, it takes more than just money to be happy. I would add that it also takes more than climate or scenery. But what does it take?

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, said, “What works in the Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding in the common good.”

a sense of community and understanding in the common good

I read those words twice because they struck a chord with me. They define a key element of the atmosphere here at Maples at the Sonatas. Most of the 125 or so of us do share a sense of community and an understanding of our common good. At least, in my experiences we do.

Let’s take it a step farther, to our city of Woodstock, which numbers 25,000 residents. I believe a similar sense of community and concern for the common good exist there too, though perhaps in a slightly diluted form.

Enough musing. I finished reading the newspaper and went on with the rest of my day. And it was a good day, a happy day. Of course it was. I am surrounded by an abundance of one of the key elements of happiness.

I hope you are too.