Sunday, March 2, 2014

Is chivalry gone?

In bygone days a lady was a lady and a gentleman was a gentleman. Each had its role in society and knew how to respect the other. A gentleman held the door open for a lady and the lady would be thankful. At some point the lady wanted to open the door for herself and chivalry began to disappear and go into a deep hibernation.

A lady can do many of the same things as a gentlemen, in todays modern world. But I do recognize there are some things I as a lady can't do, be they physically or mentally. In todays society women and even our girls are being taught to be tough and not rely on a boy/man to support or assist them. Our boys are growing up not being able to recognize the difference between a lady and another member of the group of guys. I was recently told that if by chance a gentleman should open a door sometimes they are chastised by a women. What kind of message are we spreading ladies to our young gentlemen and those who were raised to be a gentleman if they are now chastised for being a gentleman?

I like being treated not only as a lady but as someone that is equal to the next guy. I work in a field where girls are still the minority, I am thankful for the opportunity to work in my career but at the same time I like the door to be opened for me. In today's society we can all still be ladies and gentlemen, it may not be by our grandmother's standards, but it can be of an all new standard. But it begins today with our young gentlemen and ladies. I have taught my boys to open doors, to assist a lady up or down stairs, lets face it todays shoes can be dangerous. They give up their seats on a bus, and they let ladies go first. They realize though ladies can do most of what they can do, and should be treated as equals; but at the same time treat them as ladies.

Chivalry is not dead, but is awakening from a long hibernation. I rejoice in its return and having the door opened for me and an elbow to hold as I walk in these new shoes.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

writing assignment- the accident

This weeks assignment for our writers group was to write about an accident.  So many great stories, both fictional and not-fictional were shared.  This is what I read to the group.  Mom have a box of tissues ready because I can't even read it without tearing up myself.  

There are some moments in life that stay with you forever.  The face of one little boy has stayed with me for over twenty years.  This is our story and how he still lives on through my memory. 

The morning air was crisp and cool on my arms.  Today was going to be a day filled with friends and family.  As a treat to our baseball family we are all going to a water park for a picnic and with awards being handed out at the end of the day.  There are going to be salads, hot dogs, fruit bowls and lots of brownies; oh and a few cute boys.  I am even going to be able to ride shotgun the whole way down and back again, how exciting!

 First we had to pick up one other boy to ride with us; his parents had to work and my dad did not want any of his boys to miss out on the picnic.  We had extra room anyways, because my mom was going to be driving a friend’s car.  Her friend had been stung by a bee the day before and was unable to drive due to her medication; her son was on the team and she didn’t want him to miss out in the festivities. 

We went over to her house to drop off my mom early in the morning; it was  that moment I will always remember.  He was sitting on the picnic table petting his dog; the expression on his face was both peaceful and saddened.  Thinking back now as an adult, I think somewhere inside he knew.  But he never led on, nor told anyone what he knew.  But he knew.

As he was stroking his dogs’ ears he looked up at our car, his eyes locked onto mine.  I could not look away; I could not break the connection.  He smiled after what felt like eternity, but were only a few seconds.  In that moment I believe he decided both of our fates, he was at peace with the path god had chosen for him and he was ready.  His smile was that of an angel in the making.

It took me a few days to process the remainder of that fateful day.  I was surrounded by members of our baseball family on the slope of a small hill that overlooked the baseball diamond.  We were all grieving and in shock; it was then I realized the part I had played on  that eventful day.  If I had let him switch cars with me, at the end of the day, he would have lived. He wanted to ride with the other boy in our car, and I did not want to give up my shotgun seat.   But maybe, just maybe he had relented easily during the discussion to switch places because he knew what would happen in the matter of a few hours, and he was ready. 

I still see that little boy sitting on the picnic table with his dog.  He is smiling at me, but sometimes he is not alone.  Standing behind him is his mother.  They left together that night, on a cold dark country road, when another mans decision decided their fates and the fates of those left behind.  Maybe that’s why he made the decision, because he knew he would not be making the final  journey alone.

When he looked into my eyes that fateful day, I think he looked into my soul and saw what I have yet to find out.  Gods’ greatest plans for me during this lifetime .  Everyday when his face comes to the front of my mind, I remember.  I remember how he  allowed me the chance to experience the beauty and the joys around me. 

  But I can not deny it, I also wonder some-days  if he made the right choice or what he saw in me that fateful morning. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summers End

As I sat in the Adirondack chair, I may have appeared to be reading my book or napping, but  actually I was reflecting on the incredible summer I had just experienced.  I had said hello to many new friends, said good bye to an old friend, challenged myself beyond what I thought were my limits and seen sights that once I had overlooked. 
I will never forget my experience with the Stihl Tour des Trees; how could I ever think of forgetting all of the wonderful memories associated with it?  I play out those memories often in my sleep and in quiet reflection, could I have been faster, yes; could I have observed more, yes; will I do it again, hell yes.  From the first peddle to the last peddle it was monumental.  My boys often tell me how proud they are of me, that in itself makes me proud that I accomplished the ride; but every now and then I hear of how someone read my stories nightly and how I brought them along with me.  I am very thankful for that, and for those readers who followed me, stay tuned, lots of adventures are just waiting to happen. 
On the last leg of the bike ride, I received the one call we all do not want; the call of a loved one dying.  She was our first child, our practice child you may say; but now I think she wasn't our practice child, we were her practice children.  She taught me to love, care and to take moments in time to enjoy the time we have together.  It is hard watching a love one deteriorate but throughout it she never loss her joy for life.  Even when she could no longer walk one block to the park with us without going the pace of a snail, her tail would wag consistently and she would give it her all.  Whenever she saw her leash come out of hiding she knew she had to pull it together and give me her biggest smile; sadly towards the end though I knew she would not make it to the end without being sore for a long time, so she started staying home more often.  But when I returned an hour later she was still by that door and ready to walk around the yard with me and pretend in our own way that we had just completed a long walk.  At the end of her beautiful life she went surrounded with love and with her family; I can only be so lucky to go to heaven as she did.  But now she rests in heaven with all my other past loved ones and I await the time when once again we shall be reunited. 
Throughout the summer I traveled all over New York and Vermont and favorite thing about all those trips is of course the food and time with the boys.  I have a knack to find the best places for food, and its really good food.  My favorite place this year has to be the barbeque place in Brattleboro; if you have ever been there then you know the place.  It had the yummiest veggie sandwich I tasted all summer and  the company I had there was wonderful too.  I met Jeff's uncle Ken there and it was such a treat to really have a chance to talk with him and get to know him better.  I left the restaurant with a full belly and the appreciation of a wonderful gentlemen. 
Although I was on the road this summer alot, I made the most of my time with my boys.  They have truly grown into the most wonderful young gentlemen.  Everyday I am amazed at their love for nature, their friends and life itself.  As John was removing one of many fish he caught this weekend he would talk so sweetly to the fish telling it was okay, don't worry, I won't hurt you and then he would give it a kiss and throw it back in the river.  He is truly sent from heaven and I hope they don't want him back any time soon because I am going to hold onto him for a very long time and never through him back as he threw those fish back. 
Mathew has matured so much also and has become a wonderful young gentlemen.  He has started helping me around the house, helping his grandpa and grandma and really learned alot through reading and watching the Discovery Channel.  He is always checking up on me and making sure everything is alright, so much so I often wonder who the parent is and who is the child.  Seeing him and John on the last day of the bike ride gave me the energy to keep going, and to finish the ride so I could hold them in my arms.  When I go days without seeing them my arms truly ache for them, and nothing stops that ache till I have them close once more.
Along the way this summer though I truly tried to stop and smell the roses a little bit more.  I stopped for scenic overlooks and took the time to talk to complete strangers.  I learned more about the world around me than I ever thought possible.  As soon begins tomorrow and another season is in the past, I am not sadden over its loss; I am looking forward to the great adventures that await me in the next season.  Who knows maybe fate will throw me a curve ball and something new and exciting will come my way, something I never expected.  I await the next adventure with gleeful anticipation, how about you?

Friday, August 2, 2013


Every now and then we are pushed to our extreme levels, either by force or by choice.  In my case this week has been by choice.  I am loving this week it has taught me how to challenge myself and it is making me stronger; both physically and mentally.  The last two days have been very difficult to say the least.  This has been my first time riding in the rain, and I will say it, I hate riding in the rain.  But with it I have learned some new lessons, such as do not use the back brake to stop at red lights; you will fishtail and hydroplane like nobodys business.  Do wear a good rain coat, those rain drops feel like acupuncture when they hit you while pedaling.  Do wear a shower curtain on your helmet in the rain, it keeps the rain from dripping down and then running through the sunblock and down into your eyes.  Do have a blinky light on your bike, that way motorist can see you better.  Don't go fast down a hill, you will hydroplane.  Do have fun, because no matter what the weather is going to do what it wants and you must make the most of it.
The only bummer so far is my knee; it has decided to swell up to almost twice its size and to hurt like the dickens.  But with a little massage and some ice I am hopeful all will be great.  Really though it does not make a difference because either way I will be out there again tomorrow finishing what I started.
It has been great along the way to see how many people come out to support us, cheer us on and to learn about trees.  There are days I feel we are in this battle alone trying to make the world a better place.  But after traveling around Lake Ontario this week I can say, we are not alone.  There is another generation coming up that is going to step up to the plate and help us.  If that doesn't put a smile on your face like it does mine then you are not seeing the big picture and their love of trees.
There have been so many lessons this week that I hope I never forget them all.  But the greatest thing I don't want to forget is this; you are the only one that can determine what your limitations are in life.  You can either embrace them and make your self better or fall to the wayside and curl up along the side of the road and wait for help to come along.  I choose to embrace and be stronger in the long run.  Which road will you choose?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day Three and Day Four

Ahhh how the days are blending together, I am not even sure what day of the week it is or where I am anymore.  The only thing I know is that I get on my bike in the morning and I stop where they tell me.  Yesterday was a tough day for sure.  We rode from Syracuse to Watertown, not too far of a jaunt, but long enough for my tired legs and sore....bottom.  Towards the end I was not sure if I could do it to tell you the truth.  Every muscle on my body was screaming at me, I felt incredibly dehydrated, my belly was rejecting food and I was just spent.  But being the trooper I am, or the stubborn swede that I am, I pulled up the strength and I started pedaling.  I could hear my father in the back of my head telling me to suck it up, and I could also hear my little John telling me, You Got This Mom.  So I popped to ibuprofens and started pedaling.  It was well worth the journey, for at the end of the ride there was my good friend Brian Sayers waiting for me.  He waited three hours he said for me, now that is a good friend.  I will confess though that I was exhausted last night, I felt horrible, as I was talking to my room mate I would completely blank out and loose all train of thought.  Also for the life of me I could not remember the word menthol,   to describe how all the creams smelled that we lathered on our poor sore muscles. 
Today being day four is hump day and recoup day, and it was much appreciated.  We had a short 28 mile ride to the border crossing in which we rode a ferry across and then a nice 7 mile ride on the island followed by another ferry ride.  As we rode into Kingston people honked at us, rang bells or just stood on the sidewalk and waved or clapped for us.  It was such an incredible warm welcome, they are proud of their town and were more than happy to welcome us to it.  Today we had no other schedule, what a wonderful feeling that was, to be able to do whatever you want, and Kingston is a wonderful City to have a free day.  It is absolutely beautiful, the old buildings and alley ways are breath taking.  Below are a few shots I took tonight. They also have incredible restaurants and pubs, there is nothing more yummy than a cold guiness for a very sore body. 
So my lesson for the last two days is this, enjoy the moment, relax and just go where you feel you should be at the moment.  My intention for today was to go sit at the park and read or write, but instead I enjoyed a Guinness with some new friends and ended the day having ice cream with other new friends.  All in all I would say it was a great day.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Today was an epic day, for me atleast.  I rode another 100 miles today, but it was only 100 of the 124 that were scheduled.  What I am most proud of though is that I knew when to say when and I pulled out.  Typically I would just suck it up and keep going, but not today, too many body parts were sore and starting to hurt.  I never knew my body could hurt this bad, from the calves on up to the neck, but it’s a good kind of hurt.  I hurt because I did not just sit at home and keep saying what if…. What if I did sign up for this ride, what if I did not.  I am so very glad that I did sign up for the tour, there is nothing that can compare to the challenges you may face everyday and the many people you meet along the way. 
We all look the same, in some aspects, we all have shorts, the same jersey, the same helmets but we differ in glasses, pants and of course bicycles.  But overall as you are pedaling along, we all look the same.  Its not till dinner time and everyone has had a chance to shower and put on normal attire that you really notice how different we are and yet we all have the same goals and love of trees.  There are people from all over the world here and all different age groups.  There is one guy who is in his 80’s and let me tell you he can put me to shame all day long.  He gives me so much inspiration to continue cycling because obviously cycling can make you stronger and allow your life to be full and very enjoyable. 
Today at a rest area, one of the support crew members noticed I carried an inhaler in my bag.  I have had asthma most of my life, but I do not approach it as a limitation, it is a challenge and every challenge can be conquered.  She asked me if I would be alright, and I just smiled and said, sure I just keep on pedaling and if I have problems then I will address it, no problem.  Asthma is a weakness of the lungs and what better way to make them stronger than cycling and pushing yourself.  I did take two hits yesterday but today, not a single one.  So I must be getting stronger :) 
The closing message for tonight, don’t let your challenges slow you down, look at them as a challenge and find a way to conquer them.  You are only as strong as your  last challenge, so what are your challenges and how are you going to tackle them?  Me, I will get out of bed tomorrow and ride another 85 miles in the name of trees.  I’ve got this. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 1 of the Tour des Trees

Day 1
Wow what a day it has been, it has definitely been a day that will not leave my memory too soon; well atleast not until tomorrow when I do it again.   First of all I have to start by saying, I DID IT!!!!!  I rode my first centurion on my bicycle.  To tell the truth I did not think I had it in me, but low and behold I did.  As Johnathon told me last night as he grasped my face with both of his hands, " You got this mom, you can do it,"  I can't tell you how many times I have told him those same words, but it sounds so sweet hearing it from him and seeing his belief in me through his eyes.
  I have been told the Stihl Tour des Trees is not all about the bike ride, but it really embodies a fellowship amongst fellow tree lovers.  I must say I have never experienced such an open arm welcome from everyone I met, this is a tree family that has many branches but we are all connected by one central stem, the love of trees.  I rode with a variety of people today of all different levels and from all parts of the country.  I must say even if you were not up to their level they would not leave you behind, that is until you found another group to become a part of,  no one really rides alone. 
I must say a big huge thank you to all the support along the way, especially my children and husband.  They were there at every rest stop and at the lunch to share their support and to keep telling me I can do it.  Towards the end they were on the side of road continuously cheering not only me on, but all the riders that passed them.  It made a big difference not only to me, but also to my fellow riders. Seeing them at the finish line was incredible, and having them help me with my bike and suitcase was wonderful.  
I also want to say thank you to all the moral support, from the rest area attendees and fellow riders.  Everyone cheers on everyone, no matter what your skill level is or where you are in the pack.  It was wonderful seeing fellow arborist along the way from the NYS ISA chapter, but it was also great meeting new friends. 
I also need to say thank you to the support vehicles.  They would drive by you, cheering you on and making sure you were okay.  God forbid I should have a breakdown, be it emotional or technical, but knowing they will be along certainly does help.  

The main thought or message I would like to leave for me to remember this day is this:  In life we have a lot of support that sometimes we take for granted.  Let’s face it our lives are busy and sometimes we forget to breathe and take a look around us.  Today I learned and thought about all the support in my life, not only here on the tour but also in my daily life.  I am complimented on the outstanding behavior and citizenship of my boys very frequently  but they are not that way by chance; it really takes a village to raise great boys or in my case a great support group.  So thank you to everyone who has helped me and them along the way, I don’t think I could list everyone, but know this, I know who you are and so do my boys.  We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and wish you the best always and please  know there are two outstanding boys in this world that will leave this planet a better place than when they entered.  Together we have changed the world one boy and one tree at a time.

Thank you.