Am I a rabologist?

We have three walking sticks currently in the house. Does that make me a ‘rabologist,’ a collector of walking sticks?

When I was recently at the Grove, in Glenview, IL, I picked up several walking sticks. First, I picked out one for myself. As it happens, I didn’t pick up the right size, it was too short, as it should be higher than your elbow. I went back and got another, keeping the first since Mary Kay could use it. I contacted Joel, to see if he wanted one for our trip to Starved Rock, and he did, so I bought a third. So now, we have a collection of three. Joel opted not to take his home on the plane with him.

I was wondering how it would work and it surpassed my expectations.

The funny thing about it is that using one is just intuitive. It was helpful when going up steep steps, it was helpful when stepping on rocks and keeping my balance when I was trying to avoid falling in the water, and just helpful in an overall way.

I noticed that Starved Rock even sold walking sticks that are similar to mine. They were in the same price range. People of all ages and sizes were using them as they went on the many different kinds of trails at the state park.

I really liked the walking sticks I bought as they were repurposed pieces of wood found in the forest, sanded, and varnished. They are from Appalachia, a place near and dear to my heart as my college was in the Appalachian foothills. They drilled a hole in the top and added a leather cord that goes around your wrist. Not only are they useful, they are actually almost like pieces of art. The larger two walking sticks currently in my house are from a Gum Tree and a Hickory Tree, the smaller one is Maple.

I guess that maybe I am a rabologist after all.

Posted in Hiking, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks

The actual ‘Starved Rock, hard to see from the trees, overlooking the Illinois River.

Matthiessen State Park

St. Louis Canyon

For years I have been talking about Starved Rock State Park and luckily, this past weekend, I managed to return. I remember the fun we had as a family when we took the boys there, staying overnight at the lodge and hiking during the day and swimming at night in the lodge pool.

A friend of mine, Joel, likes hiking as well as I do, and we decided to make a weekend of it. We arrived on Friday, on a weekend that was supposed to be relatively nice, that is, until the last minute. Strangely, although it seemed as if we would be rained out, we were not, and we had a great hike.

We arrived on Friday, on a day that was warmer than planned, had lunch at the lodge, and then headed out for the actual Starved Rock. There is a legend attached to it, involving the murder of the Ottawa chief, Pontiac, which caused a clash between the Illinois tribe and the Ottawas (accompanied by other tribes) and forced the Illinois to seek haven on the top of what was then called ‘Le Rocher,’ a tall piece of rock facing the Illinois River. As it turns out, their haven had neither food nor water and instead of coming down to meet the other tribe, the Illinois stayed on top and starved and died from lack of food and water.

After that, we hiked in the drizzle and heat (it was well over 70 degrees) and visited other locations east of the ‘Rock.’

The next day we went to the nearby Matthiessen State Park, which I have been wanting to visit for years and took a walk below to the beautiful Dells it has. Despite lack of rain, of late, there was a small creek, waterfall, and pool as well and it was well worth the effort. On our way down, we also saw a very large snake coiled around the post and fence piece protecting us from a fall into the abyss. This was all during the morning, because in the afternoon, there was quite a downpour. From my research, it looks as if the snake was a water snake.

On Sunday, we were back at Starved Rock and went to the St. Louis Canyon, which was amazing and also worth the effort, a cascade of water from a very tall height. Once again, even though it was October, it was hot out.

It was definitely something I would do again, and more than once. The Parks, which are free, are spectacular; especially when you juxtapose their canyons with the flat prairie surrounding them.

Posted in Friends, Hiking, History, IL, Life in general, Snakes, State Parks, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Chandeliers

The new chandelier being ‘loaded’ with lead crystals.

The bedroom chandelier.

The dining room chandelier.

I had two major household goals this weekend and I managed to get through them.

We had decided to purchase a smaller chandelier, very similar to the one we had recently placed in the dining room, to put in the former master bedroom, the second largest bedroom. From a spot near the fireplace, one can see both the dining room chandelier and the bedroom chandelier.

The bedroom had had a lackluster, boring light fixture, so it was time. We ordered the chandelier from Overstock.com and it came last week. It took well over five hours for one person to put together. I had to do what MK and I had done with the first, put lead crystals on one at a time, put a pin through, and then clamp it shut. Add into that, it took me forever to get the wiring through the upper portion of the fixture since it was so narrow.

Once that was done, I worked on getting it up. That took forever because the electric box on the ceiling in that room required more work than I expected. It took the longest time and then I also realized that I had to put some paint around the hole in the ceiling since the new fixture cover was smaller than the previous one. I also did not have enough light bulbs.

I picked up the light bulbs from Home Depot after going to the gym to burn off my frustration as well as a dimmer for the chandelier and an outlet to replace one in that bedroom that was long overdue. I also changed out the outlet and switch cover as well to match the bronze of the chandelier.

MK started doing the master bedroom windows and I helped her with those (they were on my list) and we thus have managed to clean all the windows before winter.

Now, I soon need to head outside, as there are things I need to do there.

Posted in Honey Don't List, Household and yard tasks, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

My Mail Merge Wars

I have been using Mail Merge for years. It goes back to my time of teaching in the high school arena and to my running an exchange program between France and the United States for some ten years.

Mail merge and I are truly friends and enemies.

Friends because I find that it is an amazing thing; amazing, that is, when it works without making one pull out one’s hair. The real problem here is that I find that it is not the most intuitive process, at least not for me, and that I don’t use it frequently enough to truly remember the process.

I was helping Mary Kay to send out the snow removal contracts, as she works for our son’s business, Koerner Snow Removal. I was taking the Excel Database and merging it with the contract, putting in the individualized numbers for snow removal and services like salting and shoveling.

Mail merge can be seamless, but it can also be next to impossible. When you google it, you see the steps but when you look for what they tell you to find, sometimes the terminology is less than clear and some steps may be missing. Virtually every time I have succeeded in Mail Merge, it has been somewhat of an accident.

Today was no different, I ran into crazy situations like the Merge not happening and then I click on an icon in a somewhat haphazard way and it happens. Then, when I went to print, I couldn’t connect with my printer. I found out that it was a Wi-Fi issue. I had to shut down the printer, shut down my laptop, etc. There is always a lot of troubleshooting pretty much every step of the way when Mail Merge is to occur. Following that, my printer wanted to print double-sided and I needed to figure out how to switch that out.

Technology and being an immigrant to it can be daunting!

Posted in Life in general, Snow and Ice, Snow Removal, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Wi-Fi Printing

I think I have come up with an answer to a question. Why is it that my sons often come to my house to print things? It is because printers, for whatever it is worth, have become somewhat unreliable. Those of us who teach, found it extremely convenient to have a printer so that we could just take it to the copying machine and make what we needed. Those who don’t, just don’t need to print all that often. My current situation is teaching online so it is not an issue. If I were teaching F2F (Face to Face) classes, it would be, however, as it is not wanted for someone to walk in and use the copying machines at Oakton. You can, but copies are limited and the hope is that we will not. If we do, we are asked to forward an electronic copy to a site and then pick up the copies later. As much of a person I am who prepares ahead of time, I would find that somewhat annoying as I lose the control and I have one more thing to worry about.

It seems that my sons have printers but that they are not always working. Our granddaughter was bargaining with her dad yesterday to come to our house and make copies of a play she is writing. As it turned out, she had to delay her plans as her dad pointed out to her that her needs were not urgent.

Our current printer is great, when it works. It is subject, however, to the whims of my laptop as well as my Wi-Fi. I am seriously going to check and see if I can attach a cable (which I think I can) so I can have a ‘hard’ hookup as opposed to my whimsical Wi-Fi. I found that yesterday, since my Xfinity signal had apparently not been strong enough, my laptop jumped from our regular signal to the generic Xfinity.com signal which never seems strong enough to make anything work. It looks as if it is working but really doesn’t.

There is always some sort of fun to deal with!

Posted in Life in general, Old Technology, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment