Top 10 Ways You Know You Are a Magician’s Wife Monday, Aug 19 2013 


B-123(Notice all the blades through the box? I’m still in there.)

You may know that I am married to magician Marshall Brodien. Marshall is the creator of TV Magic Cards and Marshall Brodien magic sets. He also played the clown/wizard character Wizzo for 26 years on WGN TV’s Bozo Circus Show.

In our 18 years of marriage, I’ve entertained a steady stream of guests here to see Marshall and his magic, assisted Marshall on stage a couple of dozen times, and have attended countless magic conventions with him. All this magic got me thinking about how it’s influenced me. Here are my top ten ways.


Mary Doyle Brodien’s Top 10 Ways You Know You are a Magician’s Wife

You know you are a magician’s wife when:

10. There is a magic museum in your home

9. Your ceilings are decorated with playing cards

8. You act surprised when you see the same trick for the hundredth time

7. You are shopping and notice clothes that would look good on stage

6. You discuss eyeliner and face powders for reducing shine with groups of men

5. Everyone in your household, including the family hamster, is part of the act

4. A romantic dinner out includes disappearing salt shakers and card tricks for the wait staff

3. You’re not opposed to your husband coming at you with swords

2. You look at a box and wonder if you could fit in it

And the number one way you know you are a magician’s wife –

You don’t consider it abusive if your husband ties you up, stuffs you into a cloth bag, and locks you in a crate.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

(Photos by Stephanie Maurie)

Nature’s Fireworks Monday, Aug 12 2013 

Every year around August 11th the Perseid meteor shower offers a fantastic sky show. This year’s is particularly dazzling because of a thin, waning moon. We are at the peak of the annual event, but it’s possible to see some of it until as late as August 24th.

NASA declared the Perseid shower to be the fireball champion of all meteor showers because of its high concentration of bright meteors. As many as 100 per hour may be seen.

Every year at this time the Earth passes through the orbit of the Swift Tuttle comet where tiny specks of 1,000 year-old dust from the comet charge at the Earth’s atmosphere at 37 miles per second, vaporize from the friction with the air, and leave behind a streak of light known as meteors.

Of all the events we attend over the summer, this one is especially memorable. If you want to catch the shower, try to get away from the city lights. The darker the area, the brighter it all will appear.

You can see an excellent video on the meteor shower at: or go to for general information.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Fun at the Fair Monday, Jul 29 2013 


Ferris wheels, prize cattle, ring toss, and funnel cakes all enjoyed on dusty fairgrounds; county and state fairs are the center of summer activity for towns across the Midwest.

Fairs attract patrons from all walks of life eager to enjoy the carnival rides and games, wide assortment of “junk” food, top musical bands, and often a side-show featuring entertainment of days gone by. Where else might you see a sword swallower or fire-eater; sink your teeth into a corn dog or cotton candy; learn about the varieties of chickens and pigs; test your strength; or win a stuffed unicorn all in one day? Whether on a date or out for a day with the family, there’s plenty of fun for everyone.


Since the first state fair in September of 1841 in New York, farming families scattered across the countryside have enjoyed renewing old friendships and making new acquaintances at these events. They were, and continue to be, predominately an opportunity to showcase award-winning produce and livestock, as well as some incredible canned and baked goods from home kitchens.

Don’t let the summer pass without attending a fair. Check out this website for ones near you:

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Shakespeare in the Park Monday, Jul 22 2013 


“Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?

Sleeping or walking? Mad or well-advis’d?

Known unto these, and to myself disguis’d!

I’ll say as they say, and persever so,

And in this mist at all adventures go.”

(The Comedy of Errors, Act Two, Antipholus of Syracuse)

The Comedy of Errors is one of the earliest, if not the first work by Shakespeare. It is the story of two sets of twin brothers who, while traveling together, each became separated from their twin during a storm at sea. They all end up in Ephesus 23 years later, but do not become reacquainted until after a series of humorous incidences occur because of their own and the townspeople’s confusion over all of their identities.

The underlying theme of the play is the principal characters’ search for identity and love. They come to know themselves and the true nature of love and marriage when they have learned to distinguish appearance from reality.


This past weekend, the play  was presented by The Midsummer Theater Troupe at the Seventh Annual Shakespeare in the Park at Island Park in Geneva, Illinois. The play was presented in a Ravinia-style setting, which for Chicago area patrons means picnic. The audience spreads across the park seated in lawn chairs and on blankets and enjoys a picnic meal or beverage, as desired.

The weather was lovely and the performance well-done. I really enjoyed the opportunity to see a Shakespeare play, and so close to home. Sponsored by the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission and the generosity of several local businesses, donations were requested but not required to attend.

Check your local paper for such events near you.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Summer Drives Thursday, Jul 18 2013 

mkd.yellow daisies

I recently took a five-hour drive one day and back home the next. Going was enjoyable and even relaxing. But the ride home was rough. I began the drive already exhausted and emotionally drained and so had difficulty keeping alert and awake.

My solution was to stop often and get out of the car and walk around. I also drank ice water, munched on jalapeno Cheetos, listened to upbeat music, and kept the air conditioning blowing on me.

Taking a long drive is a summer highlight for many families. It can be a fun and memorable way to visit loved ones and scenic and historic sites across the country. But staying awake while driving can be challenging, especially when we are in the midst of summer heat and draining physical activity.

In addition to stopping often and the ice water, loud music, and peppery treats, here are a few other suggestions to help keep your attention on the road :

  • Chew gum
  • Get enough rest before setting out
  • Suck on peppermints
  • Plug in an invigorating aromatherapy adapter
  • Periodically stretch arms and legs
  • Avoid sugar, which can make you sleepy
  • Avoid consuming alcohol prior to driving
  • Avoid medications known to make you drowsy
  • Keep wind or air conditioning blowing on you
  • Talk to passengers or friends on the phone

The bottom line is to be safe. Never forget the powerful weapon a vehicle can be. If you don’t feel able to drive  without hurting yourself or anyone else on the road, DON’T DRIVE. It is better to hand the keys over to someone else or arrive at a destination late or even on another day rather than risk anyone’s life.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Cantigny Formal Gardens Thursday, Jul 11 2013 


The 29 acres of gardens on the 500 acre Cantigny estate are in full bloom. The former home of Chicago Tribune editor and publisher, Robert R. McCormick, showcases themed gardens including an idea garden, reflection point, scalloped garden, fountain garden, rock garden, rose garden and prairie. Wandering down the manicured paths is both relaxing and educational as many of the plants are labeled.


Located in Wheaton, Illinois, the magnificent estate also includes the First Division War Museum, historic McCormick mansion, a café, gift shop, and a golf course. The grounds and facilities are open to the public daily and feature special events such as concerts, festivals, and a Revolutionary War Reenactment.

At only $5 per car, the ticket onto the grounds is an affordable family outing. (There is an additional fee for some events.)


See more about Cantigny at

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

It’s a Stretch Thursday, Nov 8 2012 

What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vender?

Make me one with everything.

I love that joke! I heard it from my yoga teacher, Al Oschner.

Yoga comes from a Sanskrit word meaning to join, unite, or attach. It is a relatively safe, non-aerobic form of exercise that’s been practiced for more than 5,000 years.  Nearly 11 million Americans currently practice yoga. Most Westernized classes focus on physical poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. Some also include a spiritual aspect, but this is seen more often in private yoga centers than public gyms and health clubs.

There are several styles of yoga with varying degrees of intensity. I attend a class at the health club that is quite gentle. Al reminds us that if a pose hurts, we shouldn’t do it. We are to modify as needed for a comfortable stretch. One thing I know for sure is that I always feel better afterwards.

Yoga improves flexibility, range of motion, and posture. It also decreases stress, reduces joint pain, lowers inflammation, and promotes relaxation and better sleep. Nearly all poses build core strength and deep abdominal muscles. Al says that one series of exercises that we practice is even believed to reduce the aging process.

Some caution should be taken with all forms of exercise. Consult your physician before practicing yoga if you have severe osteoporosis, high or low blood pressure, ear or spine problems, or are pregnant. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the most common yoga injuries involve over-stretching and strain from repetition to the neck, shoulders, spine, legs, and knees.

If a style of yoga or particular instructor is too intense for you, check out other classes. I tried a few different ones before settling on Al’s.


©2012, Mary K. Doyle

Raising Our Own Bar Monday, Oct 8 2012 

Congratulations to all the participants who completed the 35th annual Chicago Marathon this weekend. More than 40,000, including my son-in-law, Steve, ran the 26.2 miles. One of the intriguing aspects of this event is the opportunity to run alongside a range of participants from professional athletes and experienced competitors to first time marathon runners and those with disabilities.

My daughter-in-law, Ellie (Aurelie), participated in a different athletic event in Colorado. She rode 65 one mile laps in a mountain bike race. Ellie came in second place, only ten seconds behind first.

These competitions are grueling. It’s not unusual for competitors to vomit at the end or literally pass out. Their muscles feel achy and fatigued for days afterwards.

The reasons why people put themselves through such demanding tests are varied. They enter to promote awareness for a cause, in honor of a loved one, and to lose weight. Some simply enjoy the competition or want the prize money.

Whether it’s a bake-off, bowling tournament, or talent show, we humans love to compare ourselves to others. We want to know where we stand among the masses.

Mostly, we do it to push ourselves, to prove we can achieve a spectacular goal. We want to surpass our own expectations for ourselves. Later, when life throws us a curve ball, we can reflect on past achievements and know we can catch, outrun, or deflect it. We don’t doubt that we have the strength and ability to overcome great hurdles and reach for and attain the stars.

But yesterday’s winnings are in the past. Today is a new day and an opportunity to set our next goal. Because of some health issues, mine certainly won’t be athletic. I’m considering one I can accomplish from my desk.

What about you?

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

Folk Music and Storytelling Festival Monday, Sep 3 2012 

Geneva, Illinois loves festivals and we have some of the best. Swedish Days, Geneva Arts Fair, Festival of the Vine, and the Christmas Walk are the main ones but a lesser known festival marks the end of the summer for me.

The Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival is a funky, relaxing, family event held on Labor Day. Island Park came alive once again this holiday for the 36th year with continuous music, storytelling, and workshops on eight stages as performers from across the country sparked toe-tapping to the beat of drums, dulcimers, guitars, fiddles, and harps. Audience particpation often is encouraged as it was with the performance, Stories for Ninos & Ninas and their Papas and Mamas by Juan Dies and his group. A variety of food booths and vendors selling crafts and CDs also were on hand.

Sponsored by the Fox Valley Folklore Society in cooperation with the Geneva Park District, the festival has no paid organizing staff. It runs on thousands of volunteer hours. Donations cover 70% of the actual production expenses and more than 80 businesses sponsor the remainder.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

Powwow Monday, Aug 20 2012 

Drumming, lively dances, brightly colored costumes, crafts and exhibits, fry bread and corn, and ceremonial prayers, presentations, and recognitions. Native American powwows offer a day of outdoor culture and fun for the whole family. And we have several coming soon in the Midwest.

The Midwest was home to Native American tribes including the Algonquian, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Chippewa, Dakota, Delaware, Erie, Foxes,  Huron, Illinois, Iroquois, Kickapoo, Menominee, Miami, Minnesota, Mohawk, Mound Builders, Ojibwa, Omaha, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Sauk, Shawnee, Sioux, and Winnebago.

Today many of the country’s Native Americans live on reservations, some of which can be found in Midwest states including Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Residents often struggle financially, live in substandard housing, and experience high unemployment, alcoholism, and abuse. Supporting schools such as Red Cloud ( and St. Joseph Indian School ( in South Dakota assists young people in regaining pride in their culture and achieving a productive, positive future through education.

Keeping their rich and diverse heritage alive is an important element of not only their history but also the country as a whole, and a fun way to do this is by experiencing the celebration of a powwow. Following are a few upcoming ones from which to choose.

Aug 26-28th

  • Cha Cha Bah Ning 31st Annual Traditional Powwow, 21 miles north of Deer River, MN, Inger, MN

Aug 27-28th

  • Mending the Sacred Hoop Powwow, Adrian, MI
  • Heritage of Healing Summer Gathering & Powwow, Ypsilanti, MI
  • 18th Potawatomi Trails Traditional Powwow, Shiloh Park, Zion, IL
  • Three Fires Homecoming Powwow, New Credit Powwow Grounds, 1st Line Road, Hagersville, ON

September 2, 3

September 22 (11 a.m to 10 p.m.)  and 23 (11 a.m – 5 p.m.)

  • MSF 18th Annual Harvest Powwow, Naper Settlement, 523 Webster Street, Naperville, IL 60540

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

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