'Sculpture in the Park' display worth a walk through Mount St. Mary Park
It was surprising to see research about Illinois residents declaring we had watched, on average, about 417 hours of TV so far during the pandemic lockdown.
Nearly 60% of those surveyed by software provider Ezvid Wiki confessed they have enjoyed being lazy during the lockdown.
This flies in the face of what I have observed. It seems far more people are walking or riding bikes through neighborhoods and downtowns.
In the spirit of saying that maybe both observations are correct, it's that time of year when I would encourage walking or bike riding. Watching TV works fine later at night.
For those in the Tri-Cities area, it's a great time for a walk through Mount St. Mary Park along the east side of Route 31 at Prairie Street in St. Charles to glance at the annual "Sculpture in the Park" display.
As I have in the past, I snapped a photo of my favorite sculpture from this year's park district display to share with readers.
It's a painted metal sculpture called "Blended Family," created by Paul Bobrowitz of Colgate, Wisconsin.
You have to use your imagination a bit, as you do with most sculptures, but you can definitely see the different family members of different colors enjoying this time together.
In many ways, you could say it is the most fitting sculpture for this moment in our history, as our country continues to struggle with the concept that Americans of all cultural backgrounds really should try to get along or at least respectfully disagree.
That may or may not even be what the sculptor had in mind, but it's a message worth noting.
Longtime St. Charles resident Vernon "Vern" Oie has passed away.
Sing with angels:
So, what will Vern Oie do upon his entry through the Pearly Gates? He'll sing a song, of course.
Oie, who passed away last week at age 93, was another person whose lasting legacy is simple: He was just a wonderful human being.
I first met Vern when he was heading the Fox Valley Airport Authority and had to dig in his heels when DuPage County pols were pushing hard to take our local voice away from what was going on at DuPage Airport. The power of DuPage County ultimately prevailed.
Later, he ran a solid campaign to become St. Charles mayor in 1993, but he was going up against Fred Norris, who had a strong track record and years of support. Norris won, but Oie didn't fade away from the city he loved.
He contributed in numerous other ways through city, service, theater and church organizations.
He and his wife Sharon sang a song about friendship the night they received the city's top honor, the Charlemagne Award, in 1998. Granted, they weren't going to turn the chairs of "The Voice" judges, but they knew how to sing and did it often in church and community settings. On this night, family and friends in attendance knew it was coming from two big hearts.
So, go ahead, Vern. Sing a few songs with your new friends in heaven.
Ready for Gaga Ball:
It's a kinder, gentler form of dodgeball. And elementary school kids are increasingly enjoying the game.
During this pandemic, I've had a few notes about the good things various youth organizations are doing -- and this is another.
Members of Girl Scout Troop 1657 recently completed a Bronze Award project in which they built a Gaga Ball Pit, which is a wooden octagon-shaped structure, at Louise White School in Batavia.
Inside the pit, students play a game with soft foam balls in which players try to hit opponents with the ball.
The Scouts reveal the pit during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon Sunday, Aug. 9, at the school. The fifth graders involved in the project were Avery Haney, Annelise Jensen and Taylor Kuchta.
Honoring his mother:
Gary Paris knew this day would come eventually, which is why his Atlas General Contractors company in St. Charles plans to donate a replacement roof to a cancer survivor annually.
Paris established the "Breast Cancer Warrior Roof Giveaway" as a tribute to his mother, Joella McWilliams. She had put up an incredible fight with breast cancer in 1997 and again with recurrences in other parts of her body, starting in 2006.
Because I had written about this great story of love and survival earlier this year, Paris sent a note to let me know Joella had passed away in late May at the age of 62.
Paris and his brothers chose the winner of the roof giveaway for this year. He planned on completing that work earlier this week at the home of Lorraine Kenston.
Kenston has faced numerous medical difficulties herself the past 12 years, after being diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer. While she has been cancer-free for eight years, she has suffered nerve damage and lung complications from chemotherapy.
Her husband died in October of 2019, so her family is thrilled that Atlas General Contractors is providing the new roof.
"Having this new roof will give her peace of mind and alleviate her worries," daughter Denise Kenston Blaszynski said in a thank-you note sent to Paris. "Receiving this generous gift is not only an honor to my mom, but to the memory of Joella McWilliams," she added.
A frightening merge:
Your favorite columnist (hoping that is me) almost saw his writing career -- and life -- come to an end in the stupid construction zone off the Farnsworth/Kirk ramp getting onto eastbound 88.
OK, that's maybe a bit dramatic. But it sure was a close call by any driver safety expert's analysis.
For those who luckily have avoided this merge, especially during busy times, this is how I had to "navigate" it: You have to pick up speed, as you always would to merge onto the expressway, but you get a "yield" sign or two warning you because of the construction.
The lane you are on quickly disappears, and you are suddenly right into a regular traffic lane, with little or no stretch of merging road to get your speed up and slip into your expressway lane.
Recently, and likely the last time I will get off this ramp, I was cruising along and ready to merge. Knowing the lanes merge quickly and that a car was right behind me, I noticed a huge truck barreling down in the same lane I was hoping to get in. I figured I would slow down and let it pass and slip in behind it.
However, there was another car that seemed like just inches behind the truck, cruising at the same speed. I had nowhere to go. So it was either knock down the road construction pylons or just go ahead and plow into the lane and see what happens.
I did the latter, while also telling my wife, "We're about to get in an accident." Somehow, the car trailing the truck slowed down and let me in at the last second.
I have no idea if that driver was aware of the new "zipper merge" being promoted as the proper way to merge in heavy traffic, but that's basically how this worked. It was my turn to get in the lane, and the other driver let me do it. Take a look at "zipper merge" on YouTube if you want to see how we're all supposed to be doing this.
But this was spooky, and something I don't need, as my reflexes get ever so weaker as I age. That, and I hate construction zones on the expressway.