Tag Archives: essay

What I Have Learned…

The Urban Dictionary defines Cabin Fever as: A type of hysteria brought on by spending too much time indoors.

It has now been forty-one days since I had surgery on my ankle. Due to the layout of our yard (it’s on a hill) and the steps leading in and out of my house, it has been next to impossible to leave my humble abode. That is where the Cabin Fever comes in. Being stuck in the house is no fun. The danger of doing nothing was, and is always there. You tend to get a little wacky sitting around. Luckily, I can say that I have had a lot of time to think and can tell you that I have learned many things over these last six weeks.

I have learned that:

  1. No matter how many precautions you take when you are hiking, things will go wrong. Case in point being I was the third person in line the day I fractured my ankle. I heard my friend say to #2, “Watch out, it’s slippery, move to the left.” #2 then turned to me and said, “Watch out, it’s slippery, move to the left.” So what did I do? I moved to the left and still ended up with a busted ankle.
  2. Even if you think that you drink a lot of water, drink more.  I drink a lot of water. I mean a lot. But somehow I still ended up in renal failure.  Think and Drink!!!!
  3. At 53 , you can learn to speak another language. One of my biggest fears in coming home was that I would sit in front of the boob tube all day. I went ahead and bought Rosetta Stone and have been pleasantly surprised to find out that an old dog can learn new tricks!
  4. I could rekindle my love of reading. Not that I sopped reading, but I have read more books this summer than I can remember. Old books, new books, short books and long books, nothing has been off limits!

Finally and most importantly:

If it hadn’t been for my friends, I would have been in serious trouble. They immediately knew that my ankle wasn’t the only issue and called 911 immediately. As my condition worsened, they didn’t panic and kept me calm. For this I am forever grateful!

Needless to say, these six weeks haven’t been easy. But by making decisions that would keep me moving mentally, it has lessened the effects of my perceived cabin fever.

Happy Hiking!!!

Hiker Culture

What do I love about hikers? Pretty much just about everything. With the exception of a couple of folks, I can tell you that every hiker that I have ever met have been unique individuals who have great stories to tell of one hike or another. Over the years the number of hikers that I have encountered has grown ten fold and for the most part that has been a good thing. I love seeing the sweaty smiling faces as I pass them on the trail. The greetings of “What’s up?” and “Have a nice hike!” stay with me as we each move past each other in our own space and time.

But what else is it about hikers? What has attracted to me to this culture of hiking and its intrepid travelers? Many things. But before we get into some specifics, what is culture?

A very simple definition of culture that I got from the Cambridge dictionary is the following and says that culture is “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time”. I would think that hikers, no matter what kind, fit this definition. They are an incredible diverse group of individuals that come together and create their own dialect, customs and lifestyle. So, what are my top three characteristics or values of what I see as hiker culture?

Overall, hikers are an incredibly welcoming group. It doesn’t matter what how old you are, your race, weight, height or religion, If you are out traversing the trails, then you are a full fledged member of the group. They aren’t afraid to break bread with strangers or share what they have if they encounter someone who may not have planned a hike properly.

I have also found that hikers aren’t afraid to ask for assistance from other hikers if they aren’t sure of where they are or where they may be going. And this is the coolest part. If they can, they will help you! Out comes the map and together you will work towards a solution to get you on your way. Although both of these provide an example of a sense of community, they are on different levels.

The one thing that truly makes me proud to be part of this tribe is the respect that fellow hikers have for trails that they are walking on. Words such as “Leave No Trace” actually mean something to people who hike. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have had to pick up trash while hiking. To me, that sends a powerful message.

Now remember, this list is by no means a comprehensive one. I have chosen my top three and shared them with you.

What are the values or characteristics that define hiker culture for you?

Happy Hiking!!!

 

 

Moving Forward

“It’s always hard to deal with injuries mentally, but I like to think about it as a new beginning. I can’t change what happened, so the focus needs to go toward healing and coming back stronger than before.”
-Carli Lloyd

Ever since I’ve been laid up with this fractured ankle, all I have been thinking about is hiking. My favorite hikes, not so favorite ones, ones that I’ve done many times and ones that I’ve done once. I’ve dreamed about hiking and have already started planning my “Return to Hiking” hike that will hopefully usher in a new era of hiking for me.

Will that first hike be a difficult one? You bet. But I need to get back on the trail. I need to be out there. I already miss the warm air moving through the trees, the sound of rushing water in the streams that run parallel to many of the rock strewn paths. I miss making my way around a corner and being mesmerized by an awesome view, captivated by the colors of the season and just sitting and breathing in the awesomeness that is just being there. If you have hiked, you know what I’m talking about!

Obviously, however, I am getting way ahead of myself. As I was laying in the hospital, all I could think about was getting the surgery to repair my ankle so I did everything that the doctors and nurses asked me to do. My goal was to go home.

Now that I have been home for ten days, I have the same anticipation as I sit and wait for my followup appointment with the surgeon.  The hope next Tuesday is that I will get a positive report on my progress and soon after PT will follow. For me, PT is the next step, the next chapter in not only in my physical recovery, but in my mental salvation as well.

Thanks for reading and your positive comments!

Happy Hiking!!!

 

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

“What do you think dignity’s all about?’
-Kazuo Ishiguro

“Without dignity, identity is erased.” 
-Laura Hillenbrand

“Nothing is so essential as dignity…Time will reveal who has it and who has it not.” 

-Elizabeth Gilbert

Yesterday marked the end of my journey as a travel hockey parent. For the better part of the last 15 years, I have been traveling to rinks in the Northeast making sure that both of my children made it to practices, games and tournaments. First when they played roller hockey, and then for the last 10 years, it has been solely been for hockey. We started in New York and then spent considerable time in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire I have traveled the many highways and byways of these states at all hours of the day and night to clean rinks, filthy rinks and all rinks in between. All so my kids could play hockey.

And I have loved every minute of it. But, as with everything, you have your good and bad moments. Have there been teams I wish that either my son or daughter hadn’t played on? Of course. Have some coaches been either to overbearing or lenient? Of course. Overall, however, they have benefited from the teamwork and camaraderie that comes with playing a team sport like hockey and they have made what I would hope to be life long friends in the process.

Of course as you read this you are probably wondering to yourself, “It can’t all be good, can it?” And with that I answer with a resounding, “NO!”

Over the years my kids have encountered teams, parents and coaches who, quite frankly, are a disgrace to the sport. You know who they are, the ones who are abusive in one way or another and who truly shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a hockey rink, let alone children. But there they are. Parents who laugh as a player lays injured on the ice. The same parents saying that opposing players are “faking” injuries, even as they lay crying because they were cross checked into the boards. Coaches who encourage their players to “take out” opposing players.

This weekend, probably the last one of my daughters hockey career, should have been one that she would remember for the rest of their lives. It will be, but for the wrong reasons.

My daughters team played a game on Saturday night in our end of the year competition against a very competitive team. On its face, the game would have been a good one no matter who won. On paper, they were equally matched and the girls felt they could do well. As the game progressed (and we were winning). the opposing team felt it necessary to start with the elbows to the head, tripping, slashing and boarding. For some reason the referees missed a majority of the infractions. The end result? We won the game.

As luck would have it, we ended up playing the same team the very next day in the championship game of the tournament. From the start the opposing team engaged in the same behavior as the day before. Several times our players were injured by members of the other team. On two occasions, as they lay on the ice, parents in the stands and the team itself were laughing as our player cried in pain after being cross checked into the boards and after being up ended in the middle of the ice. The most disgusting part of this display was the fact that the coach, the leader of the team, did nothing to stop the laughing.

In the end, we lost the game. And that’s ok. Although it would have been nice to win, I would have been embarrassed if our girls had lowered themselves and played at the level that this team decided to play at because they wanted to win.

I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again. The fact that the team plays in a way that can lead to serious injury says everything about the coaches and the parents. It sickens me that anyone would condone this type of behavior. If you aren’t telling them to stop, then you are part of the problem. And for what? A trophy?

Here’s the point to my story. As the medals were being handed out, one of our players who had been targeted by the other team the entire game both verbally and physically did something that showed the class of our team. She could have just taken her medal and gotten back on line with our girls. But no, she skated by the opposing team and offered her congratulations. No mean words, no punches, slashes or boarding. Just “congratulations.”

To me this erased the bad feelings I had about the loss. Our girls came away with something much more important than a championship and a trophy.

They came away with their dignity.

 

 

6 Days, 21 Hours And 15 Minutes

On Friday March 2nd and Wednesday March 7th, we were hit with two nor easters. The first one dumped 2 inches of rain and then 8 inches of snow. The second was a snow only event and when it was over, 19.5 inches of snow blanketed our area. To add insult to injury, high winds during both storms caused extensive damage to the Hudson Valley Of New York.

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The woods behind my house at the start of Wednesday’s storm.

This is where the fun begins. At 5pm that Friday, we lost power. Now when we lose power, that means everything. No heat, hot water, nothing. Of course we notified the power company and waited. Saturday came and went and we waited some more. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday passed and we waited. As each day creeped on, it got colder and colder in the house.

Daily calls to the power company did no good. Don’t worry they said, we’re doing everything we can to get you back online they said. Thursday then became an effort just to stay warm. Our county was in a state of emergency and all non emergency vehicles were not allowed on the roads.

Fast forward to Friday. With the house hovering at around 40 degrees, tempers were now starting to wear thin. After an incredibly long week, it was time. Time for life to get back to normal. So, after 6 days, 21 hours and 15 minutes, our power was restored and as if nothing ever happened, our lives continued.

With that said, it’s times like these that make me realize how lucky we are to live in the country that we do. We had to do without things that we take for granted-heat, hot water, just plain running water for a week and although it wasn’t the worst, it was uncomfortable.

This is my tale of woe.

It’s Now Or Never

DogMeditation

“Wake up! If you knew for certain you had a terminal illness–if you had little time left to live–you would waste precious little of it! Well, I’m telling you…you do have a terminal illness: It’s called birth. You don’t have more than a few years left. No one does! So be happy now, without reason–or you will never be at all.”

Dan Millman

This quote sends a very powerful message. One that not many people think about it. Whether you like it or not, you are, in fact, dying. The process began the second you were born. I can tell you that in my twenties, thirties and even into my forties, I was so wrapped up in the intricacies of every day life that I never gave death a thought. Now that I have ventured into my fifties, I have come to the realization that I have much less time on the earth than I have spent on it.

This is an odd feeling. I find myself thinking about my mortality and how it has laid claim to how it plays a role in the decisions that I make every day. My priorities on what it means to be happy, and how I can get to that level of happiness have evolved and is now paramount in my life. It also continues to be an ongoing exploration of seeing that being happy is much easier than we think it is.

I’m not talking about gaining material goods to see if I can make myself happy, it’s more of a choice of how I interact with everyone around me. These personal interactions are what I consider to be true measures of happiness.

Being happy is a choice made by every person every day and should last until our last day.

Stupid Uncle Louie? I Don’t Think So

To my readers-I try very hard not to stray from the intended purpose of this blog. It was meant to be about hiking, photography, woodworking etc. But after hearing and reading what this teacher in California said in front of a class of his high school students, stray I must. 

“We got all our freaking night vision goggles, all that kind of stuff, and we can’t freaking control these dudes wearing freaking robes and chanclas. Because we got a bunch of dumb shits over there. Think about the people who you know who are over there, your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whoever, they’re dumb shits. They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people. They’re the freaking lowest of our low. Not morally. I’m not saying they make bad moral decisions. They’re not talented people.”

I am a Marine. That’s right. One of the “dumb shits” that the Gregory Salcido, a HIGH SCHOOL teacher in California felt free to use as a term to describe those who decide to join the military.

Four months after graduating from high school in 1983 I got off the bus at Parris Island, stepped on the yellow footprints, and began my journey to become a US Marine. Now of course I can’t speak for everyone who joins the military, but most of the people I know who wanted to be Marines did so because they wanted to serve their country.

Does this make me a “dumb shit?” I don’t think so. I served with many Marines who were incredibly intelligent people. As a matter of fact, I can say that one Marine I had the pleasure to serve with is the most intelligent person I have ever met. I am truly dumbfounded as to how this teacher came to his conclusion that folks in the military are not “high level thinkers…or “not academic people”…or that they aren’t “intellectual people.”

To put it quite bluntly, this teacher and anyone else who believes this are imbeciles. Some will say that he has the right to say what he wants and they are correct. But when he spews this verbal diarrhea, he only highlights his own ignorance. Ignorance of who has served as well as who is currently serving. What is most disturbing and disgusting, however, is that he said this in front of high school students.

It is without a doubt that our nations high school students should be exposed to diverse points of view. But I can guarantee you that this teacher, like many others, only present these one sided and often horribly biased viewpoints. Although the teacher has been suspended with pay during the so called investigation, I am not confident that it will lead to a firing. He will more than likely be allowed to once again stand in front of a class room to regurgitate his vile nonsense.

This man has no business being in front of a classroom and I hope that his district leaders have the sense to see this. This person should have the common sense to realize that his right to say things like this, as ignorant as they may be, has been given to him by the very people that he despises. Our nations military, both past and present should be revered and honored, not though of as being the “lowest of the  low.”

In my humble opinion, Gregory Salcido is a despicable human being who should, and hopefully will, rot in hell. Our current and former military members deserve better than this.

In closing, I offer much respect to all currently serving military as well as all of our nations veterans. Most importantly-

Semper Fi Marines!!!

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