Tuesday, November 15, 2011

She's Imagination.

First note, before my main entry:

When I started this blog, my first entry was on 10/10/10.  How did I miss writing on 11/11/11 ?  I don't know what I was thinking?  But to give myself some credit on 11/11/11 at 11:11am I was at the Plymouth Town Green, after walking in the Veterans Day Parade, listening to TAPS being played by a bugle.  I cannot listen to TAPS without tears swelling up in my eyes.  It happens each time.  I stopped trying to figure out why, and just know to have tissues on hand ready to be used.

OK, so Here goes to my Title:  SHE's IMAGINATION

Right now I am not working and searching for a new path of a career.  My imagination is endless.  I feel like I am 12 years old trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.  I am now 46 years young, and feel like I need to have some imagination and creativity as to how I want to proceed with my life.  I have SO many interests and passions.  I need to channel those into an energy that will enable me to find a job/career that I am really interested in pursuing.  I am Imagining myself in Graduate School working on a Masters Degree in Education Policy and Management.  I have a program in mind.  There are quite a few steps I need to take before I can start applying, however now is that time to start planning.

Let me first say that this is a big step for me, school has never been easy for me.  It has been a goal for quite some time, however getting the courage to follow what my dreams are has been my biggest hurdle.  I remember hearing Dr.Maestas ( Plymouth Superintendent) say at one of his assemblies to the kids that when you want to set a goal and accomplish it, you need to SAY SOMETHING and let the people around you know your goal. This for me has been the hard part.  It is hard because what if I fail?  Will people judge me harshly?  What if it takes longer than I anticipated?  So many variables.  That is where the courage comes into place.  I first need to IMAGINE myself accomplishing this lofty goal.  I then need to set smaller goals to go along the way.  Faith and Courage will help me Imagine.

So here I go, I have a goal in place.  My mind is set and I am using my Imagination to visualize success.

Friday, July 1, 2011

She is the Dreamer.

My top "5"s in no particular order:

Top 5 Places in the world I want to see:

1.  Visit the Galapagos Islands ~  I want to see what Darwin Saw.
2.  Attend the French Open ( While Nadal is still playing)
3.  Experience Mt. Rushmore
4.  Witness a volcano/ lava flow in Iceland
5.  Cape Town, South Africa  ( on trip to re-visit Lesotho)

5 Personal Goals:
1. By end of 2011 have my fathers estate behind me.  Lucky #7
2. Read the New Testament again.
3. Be kind
4.  Be come a published author
5.  study photography

5 Dreams for my kids:
1.  Encourage them to apply themselves to achieve to their potential
2.  Pray with them
3.  They will become Eagle Scouts
4.  They will be kind citizens
5.  Do their own laundry

5 Books I want to Read:

1. Harry Potter 1
2. Harry Potter 2
3. Harry Potter 3
4. Harry Potter 4
5. Rest of Harry Potter books

5 Things about myself I want to improve:
1.  Patience
2.  Be kind
3.  Patience
4.  Physical activity
5.  Diet Coke ( decrease consumption)

Monday, June 13, 2011

DreamRide ~ We are all Friends Here.....

What can I say, other than I have just experienced one of the funnest/ craziest weeks of my life.  Who knew that when Gary Maestas, Superintendent of Schools in Plymouth MA,  asked me back in the fall to join him on this adventure, that it would be such a wonderful experience.

DreamRide ~  A bike ride from our nations capital, Washington DC to our nations home town, Plymouth Massachusetts !

I was the Director of Logistics for the ride.  I was in charge of 15 people to get from DC to Plymouth all in one piece, and on time to each location. ( I was also known as the RV mom)

Day 1

We leave Plymouth by meeting at the parking lot of Jordan Hospital at 5:30 am.  Yesterday was graduation.  Six of the seven students participated in graduation the day before, one other student traveling is a junior and is taking a week off of school to participate.

Members of our Dream Team:

Gary Maestas ( Dream Rider, Superintendent of Schools, Plymouth MA )
Peter Holden ( CEO Jordan Hospital & Dream Rider)
Me ( Director of Logistics)
Dan Riley ( Video Director)
Paul McCaulduff ( Director of Transportation)
Ann Powers (Nurse Leader)
Mike Petrasko ( Driver of lead car)
Nancy Silvia ( Teacher)
Media Students:
Bike Mechanics:

Mike and Ann are in the lead car following the RV from Plymouth to Washington DC on this fine Sunday morning with Maxx and Walter.  The rest of the students are asleep on the RV.

We arrive at the hotel in DC to find out that it is in a questionable area of DC.  It is a Quality INN.  Let's just say it was not a vacation destination.  The front lobby did have hourly rental rates, and the hotel staff was behind bullet proof glass.  We were there just to sleep.  Safety in numbers.

Members of the Plymouth Education Foundation flew in the night before, and we all took taxi's to the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown DC.  It just so happened that right next store at the Ford Theater that Vice President Biden was attending an event, so the security in the area was heightened.  We saw many secret service people and police officers in the area.

Dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe was fun, we had a great time starting to get to know each other.  Instead of the HRC staff singing Happy Birthday to Gary & Peter, they had the whole restaurant wish them good luck for their upcoming venture!

Some of us leave the Hard Rock and take cabs to the back of the capital and the reflecting pool to see what it looks like at night. Some of the kids play hide and seek.  Not really a good idea in the dark in downtown DC, but all is well.  Florence and Sean climb a statue and pose for photos on the back of the lion.

We leave the area, take a cab and hear for the first time the phrase that will stick with us the rest of the week:

" It's OK, we are all friends here".  Those in that taxi will know the meaning behind that !

(Thanks Sean for my new favorite phrase!)

Day 2

Monday Morning bright and early, ate breakfast at hotel, then off to the nations Capital building.  It was an adventure getting from the hotel to the Capital.  The RV followed the lead car.  We had our first scare and thought we were going to squash the lead car when they stopped suddenly in front of us.

We arrived at the park in front of the capital in front of the reflecting pool.  We were able to take some photos here.

Gary and Peter left the Capital, and ventured off onto the streets of DC for the start of their 600 mile journey back to Plymouth.  Only 3 miles into the start of the Dream Ride, they encountered difficulties with the navigation of the route with their GPS.  The lead car was called back, and they started from a new location.

The first school stop was Adrundel High School in Gambrills Maryland.  Gary and Peter spoke to about 125 PE students.  They were attentive and ready to hear about his dream and his bike ride.

Next stop was the Walter and Betty Ward YMCA in Abingdon, Maryland.  Peter and Gary, with all of their mapping delays, arrived about an hour late.  They were greeted by a curbside audience of youngsters with signs and yelling cheers of encouragement.  They then spoke to the children about the Dream Ride, and Peter spoke about the importance of staying active and having fun playing.  We were especially lucky to have Mrs. Betty Ward in attendance, whom the building was named after, to hear Gary and Peter speak.  The students were able to work out and use the rock wall facilities, while Mike and I took the riders to check into the hotel to shower and change before dinner.  The YMCA was so gracious and provided us with a yummy pasta and salad dinner.  We all then left the YMCA and went to the hotel.

I did not realize this when booking the hotel, but this hotel included a $25 per room credit to their restaurant.  Some of us then had a second dinner and some had dessert.

New Motto:  Evaluate and Re-access. 

Day 3

We leave the hotel and drive to our next school stop in Newark ( New- ahrk) Delaware to start the this day of the dream ride.  We are at the William B. Keene Elementary school, and Bea Spear is the principal.  She and I have been corresponding for the past 3 months, and it is wonderful to finally meet her.  About 650 elementary students fill up the cafeteria floor.  They are intently listening to Gary speak about his dream and encourages them to find a dream of their own and to talk about it to those around them.  He also talks about finding people to support your dreams.  Peter then speaks about being active and to try and stay out of his hospital by eating healthy and exercising.

Next stop, the Christian Street YMCA.  It is about 90 degrees. Hot and humid.  There is no air conditioning in the RV.  People always ask if we are staying in the RV, no, we are not, thankfully.  We are staying in a hotel each night.  We spend about 10 hours a day in the RV.

Again, the RV arrives early, and we are waiting for the Dream Riders.  Michelle Stevenson who is the director at the Philly YMCA is riding the last 2-3 miles with Gary and Peter.  About a mile out, Gary has his first flat tire.  The bike guys change it with in minutes, and they are off again.  Another warm and wonderful reception of children waiting outside of the YMCA holding signs of encouragement and yelling cheers awaits the riders.  Everyone is going crazy and jumping for joy.  It was truly amazing.  We go into the gym and the kids are going crazy talking to Gary and Peter.  I look around and see Gary's bike with a kid on it, same with Peter's bike.  The bikes do not go far from their owners.  They always have a hand on one when the kids are sitting on its seat.

The YMCA has a dinner prepared for us, typical Philly food.  Michelle speaks briefly to us.  I am in tears.  She is a wonderful woman and cares deeply for kids.  This YMCA was the first Black YMCA.  Great athletes like Wilt Chamberland and many other athletes from the Philly area played on these floors and hoops!  Our kids were amazed.  We sat and chatted for quite a while.  I made a new best friend, the President of their Board of Directors, Alicia.  She plans on coming up to Plymouth for the 4th of July parade and the Dream Ride Float !!

Our hotel out side of Philly is less than remarkable.  Ann ( the nurse) says she saw a large mouse in her room.  Peter thought her description of the mouse sounded more like a rat.  Oh joy.  Glad I heard that on day 7 and not sooner!

Day 4  

First stop of the day is to start the Dream Ride at an elementary school in Jenkingtown Pennsylvania.  We need to drive through Philly to get there.  It was eye opening for our students traveling to  see what the inner city of an impoverished area looks like.  Very different than what they see in Plymouth or its surrounding towns.

Jenkingtown Elementary school's Principal is Keith Purcaro.  Since today is going to be a very hot day ( expected to get into the mid 90's today) we start early and Gary and Peter go on first, followed by Nancy our 4th grade teacher that has come up with the Dream Ride curriculum.  This school is remarkable.  There are 600 students from K-12th grade.  It is on one location.  The elementary school is on the right, and the high school on the left.  They are linked by a building called "THE LINK", and by all accounts it looks like it works well for their community.  Gary and Peter spoke to about 150 students.  Some students were away that day to NY on a field trip.

After an VERY VERY VERY hot day, we arrive at the Quitman Street Elementary School in Newark New Jersey.  Gary and Peter and speaking to a group of about 80 youngsters in their after YMCA program at the school.  But before Gary and Peter arrive, the children are treated to a special appearance of the Mayor of Newark, Cory A. Booker.  Mr. Booker on the board of directors for the Lets Move program supported by the First Lady, Michelle Obama.  Mr. Booker spends about 20 minutes with the children as we wait for Gary and Peter to arrive.  They finally arrive, I am outside signaling them to pick up their bikes and run up the stairs and to get on their bikes and ride down the halls to the gym where the Mayor and the children were waiting.  They are able to meet each other.  The mayor stays for a few minutes, and leaves as he has another appointment he is late in leaving the kids.  We feel honored that he has stayed for so long, as he has a busy schedule.  The director of the Newark YMCA, Michael Bright says that the Mayor never stays that long.  They too, are honored that he stayed and that even though he was late to his next appointment, that spending time with the Dream Team and the kids at the YMCA was very important to him.   The YMCA had another special treat. They were raffling off a bike to the kids in the after school program.  Principal Glover was happy to award the bike to a lucky girl~!

We leave the school and venture to the Newark YMCA down town following Michael.  We arrived and had a wonderfully prepared meal.  It was great getting to know new friends and spending time with them and talking about our adventure thus far.

Today was one of the hottest days on record for this time of year.  The YMCA did not have air conditioning for all of its rooms, and they decided to transport us to another location.  We were supposed to stay in their hotel.  We ended up in Clifton NJ at a Howard Johnsons.  Another adventure awaited us. We were finally checked in around 10pm, and ready for a good nights rest in A/C.

We are all Friends Here !

Day 5

We leave New Jersey and today we do not have any schools to attend.  New York City schools  have the day off.  We also thought with scheduling it would be difficult because today would be the hard ride through New York City.  The Dream Riders are able to fulfill a dream by riding their bikes across the Hudson River on the George Washington Bridge.  Gary took a video, and it looked amazing.  In the RV the students are working diligently and putting together footage for the website.

We arrive in Statford Connecticut to our nicest hotel yet.  Today it was stormy, luckily the rain did not start pounding down until the Dream Riders arrived at the hotel.

It was about an hour, and we were in our car and a van to friends of Peters, who lived in Fairfield, CT.  They were so gracious to host our crew.  We had a tasty bbq dinner and awesome nachos before hand.  It was a great time to relax and to get to know each other a bit better.  The night ended with us gathering around a table and Dan doing a card trick.  He must have done is 7 or 8 times.  We were trying to figure it out.  Kaitlin recorded it with her phone. 

Day 6

Second Hill Elementary School in Stratford CT is our first stop of the day.  It was only 2 miles from the hotel.  Problem was that it was on the other side of the train tracks. Our RV height clearance is 12' 6".  Each time we came to a train track to go under, they were about 10 feet high.  We had to back track and find a way over the tracks, and not under them.  We stopped and asked an nice Salvation Army truck driver, and he gave us directions.

At the school we were greeted by Principal Jamie Palladino.  He is the brother to our middle school principal Brian Palladino.  The riders waited until the students were ready, and rode right into the gym.  Gary and Peter spoke for about 15  minutes.  What was really cool about this school visit was that we had SKYPE hook up so both schools could speak to each other.  Students from PCIS asked questions to the CT students, and vice versa).  It was amazing to see technology at work.  The students here have decorated the gym with posters and landmarks of the sights we will see along the way from DC to Plymouth.  Amazing art work.

We meet for lunch.  Apparently there have been may hills between here and Stratford.  Peter decides to take a break from riding, and lets two of our boys take a turn on the wheels.  First Maxx, and then Walter.  Each ride about 20 miles with Gary.  For Maxx it is a conquering of a fear.  When he was younger, he fell off a bike and broke his arm.  He has a huge scar on his forearm as a reminder.  For Walter, why would he miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to ride with the Superintendent of Schools?  Both students did exceedingly well.  Their parents should be proud of them for this accomplishment.

While the Dream Riders are biking their way through Connecticut, we arrive at our next location, the Mystic CT YMCA.  What a beautiful location, right on the water in Mystic Harbor.  Our crew is able to Kayak in the harbor for about 2 hours.  A great break for everyone who has been stuck in RV all week.  I do not venture to kayak. I have never done it before, and I did not feel this was the place for me to learn for my first time.  I had many other things I needed to do to prepare for the next day.

Dream Riders arrive at the hotel.  Maxx is walking gingerly, as I am sure the seat of the bike was not was he was used to, however he and Walter did and exceptional job keeping up with Gary.  Both boys are beaming with accomplishment.  One says, when would he ever get a chance do be a part of something like this again.  We meet for dinner at the Diner attached to the hotel.  Dan from the YMCA is so gracious and treats our group to dinner.  We are so thankful for the support of all of the YMCAs on our trip back home.  They have truly been amazing.  I want a job working for the YMCA.

Tonight we are joined by Ruby ( Gary's wife) and his son AJ.  AJ will be riding next to his dad for the rest of the trip.   

Day 7

It is cold and rainy. It is amazing what a difference latitude makes in the weather conditions.  Two days ago we were in 96 degree weather, and now it is 55 degrees.  The bikers are off and ready to go.  There are now 3 of them as Peter, Gary and AJ take off.

The RV lingers in Mystic, and returns back to the Mystic YMCA to take additional footage and photos.  We then venture to Boston and arrive at the YMCA Constitution Inn in the Navy Yard in Charlestown.  Great location, and wonderful people again at the Boston YMCA.  We are so blessed !

While we are waiting for the Dream Riders, we accidentally take a walking tour of Charlestown in search for a Dunkin Donuts.  Finally we find it, sit for a break then head back to the hotel.

The Dream Riders arrive, we have dinner reservations at 7:30 pm at the Warren Tavern in Charlestown. It was a great meal. Students ( kids) at one table, and adults at the other table.  At the end of each night it was wonderful to recapture the events of the day/week and discuss them.  This is our last night together.  We are all taking it in and feel that tomorrow we will be excited to be home with our families, but yet the bonds we have made are strong and saying good bye will be difficult.

Day 8

Wow, is it really Day 8 ?  Have I been with these people for this long?  It has gone by SO quickly!  I am amazed that we are all still friends.  There have not been any issues along the way.  That is a testament to itself knowing that there are 15 people here in close quarters.  I think it is because we all are on board with the purpose of this adventure, and we are here to support Gary accomplish his dream. 

We arrive at the State House on Beacon Hill in Boston.  Gary and Peter and joined by about 20 people who will ride from Boston to Plymouth.  What we did not have from the beginning of this adventure  was police escort for the Dream Riders.  We are SO lucky that with prior planning, we are able to have an escort from Boston to Plymouth from all of the towns in between, along with the Plymouth Police Department.

Bike boys were able to ride with the Plymouth Police Chief in his car.  They had been cooped up for most of the trip in the SUV, and I found out they have never been in a police car.  ( YEA !  good news!), so I spoke with the Chief and arranged for them to ride along with him.  I hope they had a good time using the sirens and lights.

Driving through Boston with police escort was phenomenal.  Being allowed to go through red lights while the motorcycle police held traffic was amazing.  I was in the RV, police cars in front, and Dream Riders behind us.

First stop of the day was the Quincy YMCA.  We met some members that were in their transitional program.  Gary and Peter spoke for a few minutes, and they had a snack.  Off to the next YMCA location in Hanover.  This facility was beautiful, I think one of the best ones I have ever been in.  They provided lunch for us.  We then left and headed for Plymouth.

This part of the trip was bittersweet.  We would be leaving the RV and going back to our lives.  Plymouth was on the horizon.  I was wonderful coming down 3A into North Plymouth, taking the left onto Water Street and driving by the Mayflower II and Plymouth Rock.  The bikers took a short break at Stephens Field, then we reorganized and put Gary and Peter at the front with the Chief behind, then us ( RV) and then the bikers followed by other police cars.  

The procession pulled into Jordan Hospital with a huge crowd awaiting our arrival.  It was amazing to see the support from the Town of Plymouth.

We then were on a stage behind the Senate President, Theresa Murray MCing the festivities.  It was great to hear Peter speak.  He brought tears to my eyes.  What a great and caring man to have at the head of our hospital.  Gary spoke about his dream being accomplished.  Lastly Florence, one of our students, spoke briefly about her experience along the trip.  She had a prepared speech typed out on her lap top, but ended up folding that lap top away and spoke from the heart.

What an amazing 8 days.

I feel privileged to have been invited to participate.  

I know each of the 15 people were hand selected by Gary.

We were there to support him accomplish his dream, and in doing so he has inspired many of us to think about what our dreams are and to set goals to accomplish them.

As we go our separate ways, some to college, one to the Navy in October, some back to work, and all of us back to our families, we can look back on the great memories and realize that we have been a part of something bigger than us.  We were team members of the DreamRide. 

We are all friends Here !

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An Arm and A Leg ~ My trip to Colorado and Utah May 20-26 2011

Two years ago I purchased tickets to see U2 open the last leg of the US 360 tour that was to start in Salt Lake City in June of 2010.  Well, that did not happen as Bono had back surgery last summer and needed to postpone this part of the tour.  It was disappointing last year, but I am sure glad I had an extra year to anticipate seeing my favorite band in Salt Lake City.

I left Boston on Friday May 20th aboard a SouthWest flight that was direct to Denver.  As per usual it seems with this airline, it was late in leaving the gate.  For me, that was not that dramatic, as I did not have a connecting flight.  For some people, there was some anxiety.  

My arrival in Denver later than expected, got settled into the hotel.  I heard the last bit of a private concert that U2 was playing inside of the stadium.  It was weird, I thought it was just sound checking, but I was later told it was a full concert for some VIP's.  I guess I must have left my invite at home.  I then decided to check out the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Denver.  Luckily the hotel had a shuttle service that took me there, and then I took a cab back.  I had my usual, twisted mac & cheese with chicken.  I also got my collector pins, and Steve's t-shirt.  They had a U2-tribute band there playing, and it was great to watch the last few songs.

The next morning woke up leisurely and went to the Four Seasons Hotel for Brunch.  It was called THE EDGE.  Go figure !  I think I had the best Corned Beef and Hash I have ever had.  It was amazing!  Service was excellent ( as would be expected).  Celebrity sightings:  Bono's daughter, Bono's Brother, and Joe O'Herley ( their sound guy for past 30+ years)

Got to the GA line around 3:30pm, waited in line until they let us in around 5-5:30pm.  Found a great spot on the rail inside of the inner circle on Adams side.  Awesome show !  It was wonderful to see U2 perform again, my last concert was in September 2009 in Foxboro.  Where I was, I think the tallest guy on the floor decided to stand in front of me with his white hat and TALL ARMS !!  That is OK, I still had an amazing time.  Nothing could ruin this, even that stupid drunk guy that tried to get by me and ended up falling on me, luckily he did not have a beer in his hand. ( always a bright side)

The next day I trekked to the famous Red Rock Amphitheater.  It was everything I expected, only I did not imagine it was going to used a a gym.  I had to laugh seeing YOGA being done on the same state where U2 performed in 1983.

It was this stage that I fell in love with U2.  MTV was just beginning in the 1980's, and I remember vividly seeing Bono marching across the stage at Red Rocks with a flag singing "Sunday Bloody Sunday", and it was love at first sight. ( Hey, I was 18 years old !)  I will always remember that feeling seeing them on TV.  I had heard of them, and I believe even had a cassette, but never had I seen a video of them until that moment.  

After visiting this hallowed ground, I went to the surrounding town of Morrison.  ( I should have worn my THE DOORS shirt, but I wore it the day before to the U2 show!).  Had brunch at the BLUE COW. OMHeck, another fabulous dish of Corned Beef Hash.  Now I am confused.  I am not sure which is better, this one or at the Four Seasons in Denver.  Both were the YUMMIEST I have EVER had & that is saying a lot because I always order that when going out for breakfast/brunch.

In the small gas station I spoke to a gentlemen who suggested I visit a small town called Evergreen.  It was about 12 miles from Morrison through a beautiful canyon.  What a cute little Western Town.  Looks like I would love to come back and visit with my family !

On my way back to Denver I saw on the highway a sign for Buffalo Bill's Grave Site.  WOW, I am SO excited, and this was SO unexpected !!!  William Cody is a co-author of one of my prized collectable books, "The Great Salt Lake Trail".  It was amazing & I am glad I went back to visit where he was buried and the small gifts shop that was there that was full of great information on the life of Buffalo Bill. This was one of the best spontaneous stops that I have come across on a trip.

Before I checked into my hotel, I had been thinking a lot about visiting Columbine.  Twice in the past few years we have had Craig Scott, a survivor from the Columbine school shootings visit our high schools and present Rachel's Challenge. ( www.rachelschallenge.org).  I felt that since I was soooo close, that I should go and pay tribute and say a prayer at the memorial for the children that were affected in that school shooting.  The reverence of the memorial was amazing.  It was surrounded by fields where kids were playing all sorts of athletic activities, yet in that memorial one could feel a sense of respect and reverence.  I was truly happy that I made that trek.  I am not sure when I will be in that neck of the woods again.  I am thankful for the town of Columbine for recognizing the need for a beautiful place to remember the lives of some ordinary kids that have effected the lives of so many now.

Checking into the airport hotel for a nap...flight leaves in 5 hours !!!

6:15 flight to Salt Lake City UTAH !!  Last time I was in Utah was in 1988.  I know, TOO long ago.  Hopefully I will be back before another 23 years pass by !!

My first stop was Temple Square.  I had never been to the Salt Lake Temple.  It was amazing to behold inside.  I stand all amazed at the sight.  I can see why it took 40 years to build.  After my session of service in the Temple I had a nice lunch at the Nauvoo Cafe in the Joseph Smith Building.  Yummy soup and sandwich with Mormon Mint Brownie Squares.  Oh, yes, it had been SOOO long !!

I made my way to my new found friend home, Julie Newsome.  This is our first meeting & I am staying at her home.  She does not know me, other than a few messages on Facebook.  How do I know this lady?  Well, her son was a missionary serving in the Plymouth area for about 9 months ( great kid), and he once said that his mom & I would be great friends.  He was right !  ( THis whole story is a longer story, but this will suffice for now!)

Julie & I chat like we have known each other for years !  We then go out to dinner with her 2 friends for Mexican Monday.

Next morning, wake up, have a great nights sleep in Elder Newsome's room ( no worries, Elder Newsome is still on his mission), and Julie & I ran some errands.  Yummy yogurt, delicious chocolate and a drive up to the Bountiful Temple. WOW, she is my kind of friend !  We ate lunch at The Red Iguana, a famous Mexican restaurant in Salt Lake City known for their Mole' sauces.  It was hard to choose.  They brought out a sample plate, which made it easier.  Now I want to go back & try them all! 

Now, what we have been waiting for !! Off to the University of Utah to see U2 ! !  We got to the GA line around 4pm after finding a great parking spot FREE in the VIP parking.  Yes, my MOJO was working!  Got into the inner circle of the floor, and we were about 10 people from the main stage, and about 3 people from the outer stage.  An amazing spot.  It was Julie's first time seeing U2 live.  I think it was my 32nd time, but who's counting?  

The people around us were amazing.  This is the first concert that I have EVER been to that is alcohol free!!!  AMAZING  !!!  NO drunk people !  WOW !!

OK, so here comes the part about the LEG !!  ( I bet you were wondering when I would get to that part) A lady near us was looking for her husband, Jonathan.  She could not find him in the crowd.  Right behind us was this guy in his twenties, and a bit tall.  Girl asks this guy if she will "hold up her leg" because her husband will then be able to find her.  WHAT?  YES, she takes OFF her prosthetic leg, proceeds to give it to the guy to hold up, meanwhile she is leaning on her friend to give her balance.  So all of us around her then in unison shout " JONATHAN", he yells back, he is across the stage on the other side.  They find each other, she then puts her leg back on.  Weirdest thing ever happened at a concert.... SO it doesn't end here !  I am taking photos of the show, and guess what?  After the show I am showing Julie the photos while we are waiting in the traffic in the parking lot, and low and behold I see said lady's leg ( with clog) in my photo.  Not only that, it is with Bono and it looks like leg is kicking Bono.   I think this is my FUNNIEST photo !

So there you have it.  
Arms in the way in Denver, 
and Leg in Salt Lake City.  
My ARM and a LEG story.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Italian in ME.

4 Generations of Carbones:  
LtoR  Deb Betz, Spencer Betz, Stewart Betz, Mel Carbone, Guiseppe Carbone
Photo taken Christmas 2001

On May 13, 2004 my father Mel Carbone lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.  It was a hard and tough fight, but nevertheless, Gods' will was done and he returned back to heaven.  It was sooner than everyone had expected, he was only 59 years old.  It was not his first bout with this deadly disease.  In fact, he was a medical miracle.  He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1993, 11 years before he passed away.  He was blessed to have that many years with our family.  He was able to meet his two grandsons, Stewart was born in 1996, and Spencer in 1998.  Both boys adored their grandfather.

Now it is 7 years later.  I am in an ugly court battle with my fathers brother. He was my uncle, but now he is not a person who I consider a family member.  He is truly an evil man.  He was the executor of my fathers estate.  On April 13, 2011 he was suspended as executor for "his self-dealing and mismanagement of estate funds as its fiduciary".

On the anniversary of my fathers death, I have been named the executor and I have finally received papers.    I am not happy to have this position.  My fathers brother has expended about 90% of the estate proceeds and has allocated SO much money to himself, his daughter and his son as well as other family members.

I ask why?

There is no answer.

They feel I am not Italian enough, and I do not deserve the money.

LUCKILY, however the courts in New York disagree.  Justice will soon be served.

I know there is the Italian in ME, I look in the mirror and see it everyday.  I look and I see Mel Carbone. I also look at my son Stewart.  He is the spitting image of my father.  He received those handsome Carbone genes.

Many of my friends have suggested I write a book about the crazy events that have happened over the past 7 years.  It is SO out of the park, I could not make this stuff up.  One friend said she would pay to go see this at the movies.

Maybe that is my "revenge".

"The Italian in Me" by Deb Betz

Sounds like a great book !

Let the typing begin......................

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Breathe, THEN shoot.

Let me start by saying that I have NEVER held a GUN, and NEVER have shot a gun before tonight.

( I also am not sure of the names of the guns, so please excuse the lack of details about the guns)

Tonight was the night I have been anticipating for about 2 months.  Half of our class met at the Police station, and the other half went on the tour of the County Jail.  We started with about an hour briefing on gun safety.  The Sergeant went over basic marksmanship:

After familiarizing us with the weapons we were going to shoot, we loaded into the police van and headed to the Gun & Rod Club in Plymouth.  http://www.plymouthrodandgun.org  We all put on our bullet proof vests, ear protection and eye protection, and listened to more safety instructions.

We arrived at the range and there were 4 stations, 2 pistol station, 1 rifle, and 1 shot gun.  Each station had a police officer there handling the gun and going over complete safety instructions again.  It is all about safety.

Most of the class was down at the pistols first.  I decided to go BIG and start with the shot gun.  I think it was an A 25 ?  At first I was a bit intimidated at the size of the gun.  The metal was heavy.  With the help of the officer, I loaded the gun, took aim and shot the gun.  There was not much kick back, what shocked me was the loud noise of the gun.  I think I jumped big.  Everyone around me laughed & I did not know what they were laughing at.  I shot another 4 rounds for a total of 5 rounds.  By the end of this station, I felt comfortable with the gun and had a bit of a rush.  Can't quite explain it, but I gotta say I did enjoy it !  It is no wonder that this is a powerful and loud gun.  Seeing the size of the ammunition one can only imagine the noise and the strength of this powerful weapon.  After 5 rounds my arms were tired.  This is a heavy piece of machinery.

Next up was the hand gun.  The Smith & Wesson 45 pistol.  The Sergeant was at this station.  He kept reminding me of my grip and the having the thumbs together.  I do not know why, but I was more nervous shooting this gun than the shot gun.  It was hard to keep my arm locked and straight.  The gun clicked up as I shot the weapon.  I did not like that feeling.  It was harder to feel the control of the metal when it was so far away.  I preferred the up and close contact with the shot gun.

Lastly was the  semi-automatic rifle.  This by far was the easiest to shoot for me.  Again though, I think it was the loudest as well.  The metal was not as heavy as the shot gun.  By this point I had shot a shot gun and a pistol. I felt more conformable with the fact that this one you could shot repetitive shots and no need to reload.  I can see why this would be important in an emergency situation.

My ears are still ringing.  I did not think it would have been so loud, I cant even imagine if the range was full of people practicing.  There were only 4 guns going off, and not always all at the same time.  

It was amazing.  An experience I will not soon forget.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Every Wedding is a Royal Wedding

I had been a spectator in two famous Royal Weddings, Prince Charles and Lady Dianna in 1981.  I was in boarding school in Bloemfontein, South Africa.  We woke up early to watch the event in a commons room on a small TV ( as compared to today's standards)  Now 30 years later, another Royal fairytale wedding took place in London.
It is now a day later after the royal wedding of Prince Charles Arthur Phillip Louis and Catherine Elizabeth Middleton who were married at Westminster Abby in London.

Yesterday I woke up at 4am and proceeded to get ready for an action packed day.  The Plimoth Plantation had an event starting at 4am in their theater to watch the royal wedding on a big screen. I arrived about 4:45am.

I was dressed in a party dress and a fancy hat.  Many people had hats special for this historic occasion.  I was so surprised to see so many people there so early in the morning.  There were about 150 attendees all eager to watch the ceremony of Prince William marry Kate Middleton.

It was exciting to see Prince William and Prince Harry drive down the street in their car towards the Abby.  They both do not have the "queens wave".  It was a childlike wave to the audience that caught my eye.  They both looked truly excited to be there and were absorbing the moments of the day that would add to a life time of memories.

When Prince William arrived at the Abby, in respect to entering the church he removed his hat.  Hat hair.  It was endearing that he had messed up hair on his wedding day and that he too is human and not everything is perfect, even for the Royals.

When Kate arrived there was a gasp in the crowd.  Everyone wanted to see what she was wearing.  Who the designer of the dress was, and what type of veil or tiara was she wearing.  There had been so much speculation, but now here it was about to happen.

She looked beautiful.  Not only that, she looked happy.

As she made her procession down the aisle, it was endearing that Prince William did not watch her approach.  Prince Harry chatted to him and by the accounts of reports from the lip readers, he was saying how beautiful Kate looked.

The ceremony was beautiful.  The voices of the young boys choir was angelic.

Another funny point, Prince William had troubles putting the ring on her finger.  There was almost a gasp in the crowd at that point.

The Bishop of Canterbury in his statements to the Royal couple said a wonderful quote that I will always hope to remember.

"Every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future."

Another funny moment was when the Bishop asked "who gives this woman", the father in law gives Kate's hand to Prince William, and Prince William says something to him.  During the ceremony we do not know what was said.  One of the commentators afterwards that the expert lip reader interpreted what Prince William said to his father in law was, " I thought this going to be a small family affair".  How funny !

I missed the part where they coverage showed the guests arriving.  I was told from another friend that one of our friends from Lesotho was at the wedding.  WOW, so I knew someone who was at this Royal wedding !  OMGosh !  In my Facebook photo albums I have photos of when I was in Lesotho in 1981-83.  Prince Seeiso is playing soccer with another friend of mine Patrick who lives in Sweden now.  When I lived there I knew he was a Prince, but that did not really mean anything to me, as he was just another kid.

My speculation is that Prince Seeiso was there because of the close tie that he and Lesotho has with Prince Harry.  (  http://www.sentebale.org/home/PrinceSeeiso.html  )  Read more about Lesotho here.

My friend also told me that there was coverage about Lesotho during the wedding coverage.  I must have missed that too.  I will look for it on the Internet.  I have a very special place in my heart for Mountain Kingdom.

I know that some people think watching the royal wedding in a time of economic hardships is wrong.  However I disagree.  I think when we as a world economy are in our hardest times, we can use an event like this to remind us of the optimism that life has to offer us.  It was romantic.  It was full of funny little moments that in the end will make a lasting memory for many of those who watched in awe as Kate Middleton became a princess and Prince William married a beautiful woman whom he loves dearly.

My best wishes are with them both because ultimately in the end they are just a boy and a girl in love wanting to commit to one another.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blue Lights and Sirens

About a month ago I enrolled in the Plymouth Police Departments Citizens Academy.  I have not had that much interest in law enforcement before, but became involved because I wanted to see what happens behind the blue lights and sirens.

It all started because I was at a function where one of the police Captains was talking about a story when he was a new police officer and shot his foot accidentally.  I interjected in the conversation that I had not shot a gun or even held a gun before. ( I didn't count the carnival or fair where you shoot water into the clowns mouth & blow up a balloon).  The Captain then went on to say that they were starting a citizens academy the following week, and that during the course, they would be going to the riffle range & shooting all of the police weapons.  WOW !  I got really excited.  He then went onto say that the class was full.  I said, really?  You don't even have room for "the Chair" ( Japan Reference).  He said to talk to his boss, the Chief.

As many of my friends know, I went to Japan in October.  It was a delegation of 11 people from Plymouth.  Among those who went was the Chief of Police for Plymouth.  At this same event where I had been speaking to the Captain, the Chief was also in attendance.  So I spoke to the Chief.  He laughed, and said, we always have room for "the Chair".  I later found out that the class was not yet full, but close as they let me in and 2 others after me! (So no special treatment here!)

I had to fill out an application to be accepted.  Apparently they do not accept everyone as they do a background check.  The day before the class started I still had not turned in my application.  I got an email asking me if I was still going to attend the class.  I went down to the station & dropped off my application.  Chief told me if I received a call that "The Class was FULL", really meant that I did not pass the background check.  Later that day I received a call from the Chief, I had a moment of panic, but be called for another matter, WHEW !!!  I PASSED.  ( not that I was worried !  :)  )

So now we are 4 weeks into the class and as part of the class we are able to do a "ride along"  During class #3 we had the speciality units come in and speak to us.  Plymouth has a Bicycle unit ( summertime especially good), Mounted Unit, Motor Cycle Unit, K-9, and Marine Units.  I wanted to do my ride along with the Mounted Unit, but everyone laughed & said a resounding NO.  Someday !  I want to go and see those beautiful horses.  Plymouth has an agreement with the County Sheriffs Department & they share responsibility for the horses, but they are self funded and are at no cost to the Plymouth Police Department.

The K-9 demonstration was impressive.  It is amazing what those dogs can do and their accuracy in finding illegal substances.

So this past Friday night ( 4/23/11) was my ride along.

I was assigned to car # 16.  We were in a floater car & cruised around downtown Plymouth and North Plymouth.  My hood.

The night was pretty quiet.  Rainy.  He said sometimes the rain keeps people inside from doing crazy things.  Who knows?

First call we responded to was a homeless woman setting up a tent.  So sad.  I did not realize we had that many homeless people in Plymouth.  Mostly men.

Second call was a man that was being aggressive in a hotel parking lot.  He had dementia and his caregiver was concerned because he had taken off & she could not find him.  Officers finally found him. I stayed in the car.

Speeding tickets.

Woman pulled over for not using turn signal & brake light was out.  Officer gave her a verbal warning.  He said his pet peeve was people talking on the phone.  Apparently when he walked up to her car she was chatting along.  Very rude!  (Note to self, do not be rude to police officers, they do not like that !)

It was basically a pretty quiet night for us.  That was until about a half an hour before my "shift" was to end.  A call came over the radio that there was fight going on between individuals and that there was mention of guns being involved.  I heard the address.  Whoa, wait a second, that is in MY neighborhood!!  We were in West Plymouth.  The Officer put on his blue lights and sirens, and we were off to the call. OMGosh !  I do not think I have ever gone that fast in a car before in Plymouth on roads that are not highways.  I looked over at the dash and we were going about 90 MPH.  I closed my eyes and for a brief second said a simple prayer.  I was not worried about the Officers skills as a driver.  He was very confident and was focused on getting us where we needed to be.  I, on the other hand, was worried about the people or cars that might happen to be in our way.  Needless to say we made it there fully intact.  We, along with 8 other police cars.  Since it is right next door to Kingston ( next town over), there were officers from there as well, so all 9 cars were not from Plymouth!

This is happening 4 houses away from MY home.

There are Officers everywhere.  Even the K-9 unit is here.  I am in the car.  I text Steve and let him know what is going on & to NOT bring the dog out for a walk.

For about 20 minutes the Officers are taking statements from people.  I see them doing some searches on persons.

The Officer comes back to our car.  He reports that there was fighting going on, but they could find any weapons.  One of the kids that was searched though did have a knife.  It was supposedly a birthday party gone foul when some of the people were leaving.

Now I know.  Apparently that house has had a lot of police action.  I feel very safe in my neighborhood. This is not going to make a difference.  It is just good knowledge to have and to be mindful of what is happening close to me.

We then went back to the station & he dropped me off to get my car.  I drove back home with my car on those same streets that just 45 minutes prior we had had BLUE LIGHTS and SIRENS going 90 MPH.  In my beetle bug, I drove well below the speed limit.  I had enough of the fast car pursuit for one evening.  I had already had an enormous respect for our Men & Women on the Police force, but tonight I gained a greater understanding of what they do, and how important and sometimes dangerous their life can be while in the service of our community.

Riffle Range in 2 weeks !

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Cupcake, a diet Coke and U2.

My birthday was 2 days ago, there is always so much going on around this time of year.  Since my birthday is the day before St. Patrick's Day, I seem to become more and more Irish as I get older!  I love the green holiday with all of its craziness.  Steve bought me a cupcake for my birthday instead of a cake.  YUM!

This is a peanut butter, ganache filled cupcake from a place in downtown Plymouth called Cupcake Charlie's.  This little bakery was featured on the Food Network show, "CUPCAKE WARS", and made it to the finals.  They unfortunately lost, however I am glad they were on the show because I had never been there before & I did not know that they existed.  I was watching the show, and WOW, I saw they were from Plymouth MA !!  Too funny

Beside this yummy treat is my Yellow Submarine mug with my diet coke.  I am trying my best to reduce my consumption of this delicious drink, however hard it is to do.  I do not drink coffee.  This beverage is my drink of choice, and I know how bad it is, and I am trying to ween myself off of it !

It was an uneventful birthday for me, as most adult birthdays are I am guessing.  It was my 46th birthday.  Now I am in my "late 40's", but that is just fine with me.  I much rather be this age than to repeat my teen years or the 20's... they were not fun !

My birthday gift from my family is a week end away in May.  What pray tell could I be doing then in May?  Well if you know me, you will know my obsession.  U2 is kicking off their North American Tour on May 21st in Denver Colorado.  I am meeting friends in Denver.  I will be driving with a friend from Denver to Salt Lake City, where I will see them play on May 24th.  Am I excited?  Heck YAAAAA !!!

This is not my first U2 birthday trip.  In 2001 Steve asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said tickets to U2.  They started their Elevation Tour in 2001 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in March of that year.  I flew down by myself.  It was great fun!  It was the first of many memorable shows that year.  My U2 fandom changed in 2001 and went to the next level of craziness!  I was so blessed to meet some amazing fans, who I can still call my friends, even after all of these years!

Thank you Steve for the Cupcake, running to 7-11 for the diet coke, and for being the kind of husband that does not get upset about my U2 obsession and need to travel to see them in concert.  YOU ROCK!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Body of Mine, Beware the Ides of March

For the Romans the 15th of March could have been a full moon and for Julius Ceasar it was not such a good day for him, lets just say. 

However, today for me the Ides of March, ( aka March 15th), is a day of a new beginning and a day where I am warning my body to beware of what is going to happen to it starting today.

I joined a GYM.

Beware Body, movement and exercise is hopefully going to kill the fat cells, and strengthen my heart and body.

WHY now ?

I don't know, other than tomorrow is my birthday ( I will be 46 years young), and I really feel the need to get my body moving.  Lately I have lived a sedentary existence.  My movement includes a bit of walking of our dog, and regular household stuff, but not to the extent that I need to be healthy.  For my job, I drive around in my car a lot and do not get much exercise.  Now that I am entering my "late 40's", I feel a need to take control of something that has had control of most of my adult life.

It isn't so much about weight loss, ( yes that would be great too !!), but it is more on how I feel.  Right now I do not feel as healthy as I did in years past.  I am tired easily, I am less than motivated, etc.  I need a kick start, and the energy that comes from exercise and being physically active.  I want to be able to accomplish one of my dreams before I am 50 years old, and I need to get fit before then, so today is the start of a great journey.

Body of mine, BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH !!!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Devastation and Hope.

My VERY first time blogging was on 10/10/10.  The title was EARTHQUAKE.  ( Go back and read it!)

Little did I know that 5 months later an Earthquake would hit the area of Japan I had visited.  Little news has come out about Shichigahama Japan, the coastal town that is a sister town with Plymouth.  Reports have come in of towns north and south that have been totally wiped away into the sea because of the Tsunami.

If you also read back on my blogs about my trip to Japan, you will see the topic of conversation when we visited the Fire Department.  Their biggest concern of safety was earthquake preparedness.  Also, when we went to the town hall, we were invited to see some middle school  children present to their town officials a project they did, which included simulating an earthquake and living in emergency conditions all day at school as a drill.

I have found out this morning that our translator, Marti (from the USA) is reported to be safe.  I am not sure of her circumstances.  Jamie Rosenberg, another translator  who worked with other Plymouth groups in Shichigahama reports:

"There seems to have been very major damage to Sendai, and a lot of deaths in the area close to where I used to live, but I have not been able to contact anyone in the town, yet. I have heard reports on the news of a tsunami as high as 10 meters, and those who have been to Shichigahama know that our tsunami walls are only about 2 meters high at their highest.  The Kokusaimura is a designated tsunami and earthquake refuge area, and Town Hall just had his earthquake proofing redone less than a month ago. The earthquake struck while most people we know were at work or school, so it's likely that they were safe in reinforced areas."

The waiting for information is difficult.  My thoughts and prayers are with the new friends that I met in Japan and their families.  

There is always Hope.  I believe in Miracles.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Winter blues Spring into Yellows......

I am looking outside at the tundra where I live and I am seeing the gray and blues of winter time.  They are overcome by some sandy brown tones as well.  It is dreary out and I can't help but feeling uninspired about the day.  There is so much I need to do today around the house.  The kids & Steve were on vacation last week while I worked.  I did take one day off & Steve & I went to NYC for the day.  One can imagine how the house looks today.  

Focusing on what is chaotic in my life would be counter productive for me.  I am going to focus on what lies ahead, and that is the yellows of spring.  I love yellow.  My favorite flower is the daffodil.  I just recently found out that the daffodil is my birth month flower.  No wonder I have always been drawn to the simplicity of that single bloom brightly glowing on the green stem.  There is so much to be optimistic for, even though it seems so long in coming.  Spring is around the corner.  That is what the groundhog said earlier this month, right?

Yellow makes me smile.  Lemons make me smirk.  I love to pucker at the taste of a fresh lemon.  That sour flavor is so refreshing.  Some famous songs with "Yellow" in it are some of my favorites:

First comes to my mind is "Yellow Submarine" ~ Beatles. Who doesn't love that song?  I used to play that CD in the car when traveling with my kids.  It was too funny hearing toddlers belting out Beatles tunes at the top of their lungs.   When I went to France in 2007, we also traveled to Monaco.  We visited the aquarium in Monaco, and they had a Yellow Submarine outside.  It was so random and unexpected.  I took a photo of Stewart & Spencer in front of it.  It is displayed on our photo table still today.  The Beetles have always been a part of my life.  I cannot remember a time when I did not listen to them.  I have a few 45 records that are still in pretty good shape from many years ago when I had a small record player.  I love listening to vinyl.  That scratching of the needle is priceless.  You cant replicate that on HD CD's.  The Beatles have also gone through generations.  My son Stewart plays the piano.  His first "real" songs were Beatles tunes.  I remember how precious it was seeing my 8 year old playing "Let it Be" on the piano and singing along.

Next "Yellow" song that comes to my mind is that 1970's song, "Mellow Yellow".  I laugh when I hear this song.  It reminds me of driving in my moms old Corvair ( not to be confused with corvette), and going to the beach with her and my longest friend, Kacey.  I remember hot and sticky days driving in my mom's convertible and this song.  Silly memories.

I can only think of two more "Yellow" songs, Coldplays, "Yellow", and  Eminem's " Yellow Brick Road".  ( Yes, I have on occasion listened to Eminem & I actually do like him).

While all of the songs I have talked about above are "Yellow" songs, the song LEMON is what really makes me smile.  That is by none other than U2. 

Lemon lyrics

See through in the sunlight
She wore lemon
But never in the daylight
She's gonna make you cry
She's gonna make you whisper and moan
And when you're dry
She draws her water from the stone

And I feel
Like I'm slowly, slowly, slowly slipping under
And I feel
Like I'm holding onto nothing

She wore lemon
To colour in the cold grey night
She had heaven
And she held on so tight

A man makes a picture
A moving picture
Through the light projected
He can see himself up close
A man captures colour
A man likes to stare
He turns his money into light to look for her

And I feel
Like I'm drifting, drifting, drifting from the shore
And I feel
Like I'm swimming out to her

Midnight is where the day begins
Midnight is where the day begins
Midnight is where the day begins

See through in the sunlight

A man builds a city
With banks and cathedrals
A man melts the sand so he can
[ From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/u/u2-lyrics/lemon-lyrics.html ]
See the world outside You're gonna meet her there
A man makes a car She's your destination
And builds roads to run them on You gotta get to her
A man dreams of leaving She's imagination
But he always stays behind

And these are the days
When our work has come assunder
And these are the days
When we look for something other

Midnight is where the day begins 
[Repeat 4 times]

Midnight is where the day begins 
[Repeat 4 times]

A man makes a picture
A moving picture
Through the light projected
He can see himself up close You're gonna meet her there
A man captures colour She's your destination
A man likes to stare There's no sleeping there
He turns his money into light She's imagination
To look for her Lemon
She is the dreamer
She's imagination She had heaven
Through the light projected
He can see himself up close She wore lemon

So on this dreary Winter blue and gray day, I bring you LEMON !

I am the Dreamer.
I have Heaven.
I wear Lemon.


(take a look at this video.  It always makes me smile)