Horrible Bosses

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Have you ever had someone make you feel small or insignificant?  I feel like this has happened to me quite a few times in life.  There are times when people are afraid to address me.  I am not sure if this is because I look different, or they think I am incapable of answering for myself.  When this occurs, I feel less than human.  Perhaps there is no better illustration of what I am talking about than when I worked as a high school guidance counselor. 

In May of 2012, I received my master’s degree in school counseling and I was eager to find a job where I thought I could make an impact on the lives of students.  Just before receiving my master’s I did a year-long practicum at a local middle school.  I enjoyed working with kids this age, as I felt like I could relate to them.  When I was in junior high my father had just died, I felt like a freak due to my disability, and I was afraid to talk to most people.  I think it is fairly common for most kids this age to have insecurities.  Therefore, I felt right at home mentoring these students and helping them to navigate social and emotional issues.  However, the year ended quickly and it was time to move on to other work.  So, with my master’s degree complete I set off to find a job within my chosen field.

Dozens and dozens of job applications were completed, and there were a few job interviews along the way.  However, it was two months before I was offered a job.  Without many other options I felt as if I had to take this job, as I was about to get married and I wanted to be employed before the wedding.  So, I took a job at a small high school with a student body of nearly 300 students.  In hindsight this was probably not the best decision that I could have made, however, I learned some things about myself through this job. 

Just weeks before my wedding I moved all of my books, and other belongings into my new office at the high school where I’d be setting off on this new adventure of being a guidance counselor.  Little did I know that it would also be the beginning of five very stressful years of life.  This was due to several factors. 

To begin, the principal that I worked under my first year seemed to have some issues relating to the staff.  The building that I worked in seemed very divided.  There were those that liked the principal and those that despised him.  Oftentimes, I was caught in the crossfire.  There were times when I was approached by staff members to make decisions that only a school administrator should be making.  I also felt like kids were being sent to me for disciplinary reasons, which again the principal should have been handling.  I began to get a sense that something was wrong with my boss. 

He was not just a poor administrator, there seemed to be something wrong with his mind. Sadly, this would turn out to be true, as he retired before my second year. He then died just a few years after of Alzheimer’s disease. He was a kind and honorable man who gave me my first job as a counselor. For that, I will forever be grateful. He also encouraged me along the way that first year, which meant a lot to me. Things would change quite dramatically the next year.

The school board hired a man who had been a police officer at one point in his career.  He then decided to get into education and had served for several years as a vice-principal at another area high school.  From the very start I sensed that things would be different with this man.  He was much more of a leader.  He also had a strong work ethic.  Furthermore, he was a man that did a lot of good for the school.  However, he also had a way of making others feel small. 

Growing up I always had insecurities about myself.  I never felt like I was good enough for anyone or anything.  Some of these feelings I still harbor today.  My new boss deepened these insecurities.  He did this by making me feel like there was only one way to do things, and that was “his way.”  This began to paralyze me in an emotional way.  It made me question every decision that I made.  I would often ask myself questions like, “is this the way he would do it?”  This made going to work each day a living hell.  I felt like I was always under a microscope.  Being micromanaged  when you feel as if you already don’t measure up to an impossible standard is horrifying. 

Many sleepless nights were spent worrying about going to work the next day.  Would I be called into the bosses’ office for doing something “incorrectly?”  Would I be criticized for handling a situation “poorly?”  It seemed like a never ending cycle of not being good enough.  I felt smaller than I have ever felt in my life.  After four years, with the support of my loving wife, I turned in my resignation letter.  On the day that I did this, my boss asked me if there was something he did to cause me to leave.  I glossed over the situation and told him that the job was just too stressful and that I needed to leave.  I wish I would have had the courage to tell him how he had made me feel for those four years that I worked under him. 

I was the only counselor at this high school.  I was responsible for helping students not only socially and emotionally, but I was also in charge of insuring that certain special educational plans that had been put in place for several students were followed.  I was also responsible for creating class schedules for each student every year.  This alone occupied most of my time from early December through June of each year.  Likewise, it was my responsibility to oversee that every student throughout the district who was classified as homeless was provided certain accommodations.  I was also expected to be at every IEP meeting for every special education student in my building.  There simply was not enough time to do everything that was expected of me, let alone worry about whether or not I was doing things “the correct way.” One conversation that I had with my boss that will always stick with me is one in which he told me, “I always do things the correct way.”  The arrogance in these words shocked me.  They also were certainly not true.  For, he did not treat his staff with the respect that they deserved.  The year that I resigned, there were 6 other staff members that left as well.  It makes me wonder if they felt as small as I did when I left that school.                      

Family

Recently I took one of those DNA tests.  The kind where you spit into a vial, seal it all up in a bag, and ship it to a lab in Utah.  I did this because I was curious to find out my ancestral roots.  For the most part, the results were not a surprise.  I knew I had roots in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy.  However, I was surprised to see that I also had traces of French, Swedish, and Russian blood. 

It was fascinating to see the results broken down into percentages.  My ethnicity breaks down as follows:

English, Welsh, & Northwestern European – 36%

Germanic European – 29%

Italian – 12%

Eastern European & Russian – 8%

French – 8%

Irish & Scottish – 3%

Swedish – 2%

Baltic European – 2%

Seeing all of these percentages laid out like this made me yearn to know the stories of my ancestors.  What were there lives like?  What kinds of personalities did they have?  Where did they stand politically?  These are all questions that I will never will be able to answer.  However, I would love to do a little more research into who some of these people were.

I know that much of my mother’s family were Germans who came to the U.S. and settled in rural parts of Pennsylvania.  I am sure many of them were farmers who tried to make a better life for their children.  Fortunately, many of them came before Europe was torn apart by war.  I would like to go back and hear their stories.  It would be fascinating to learn why they decided to leave behind loved ones to come to a new country.  This to me would have been terrifying. 

My maternal grandparents Lauren and Betty Geil were both great people.  I did not know my grandfather very well, as I was quite young when he died.  But I do have memories of him.  My grandmother Betty, was perhaps the coolest grandmother there ever was.  I can remember her doing the “Moonwalk” after Michael Jackson made it famous.  She was also one of the most giving people that I have ever known.    

Lauren and Betty Geil

On my father’s side things are a little more ethnically diverse.  I have been able to research the Bradshaw family back to the 1600’s.  It appears many of them came from Lancashire, a county in the northwest of England.  The Bradshaw line that I am from first settled in Virginia, where it appears they were quite successful farmers, as census records show many of them had quite a bit of land, and a few even owned slaves.  The Bradshaw family began to spread out through the Carolinas, Tennessee, and then into Illinois. 

My great grandparents Shannon and Etna Bradshaw on the far left. I believe the other men in this picture might be Shannon’s brothers with their families.

A few summers ago my wife Amanda and I visited a cemetery just outside of White Hall, Illinois where several of my distant relatives are buried, including my great, great grandfather. I wish they could have all spoken from beyond the grave to tell me what their lives were like. There is a place near White Hall called Bradshaw Mound. I’d like to find out the history of this place. It makes me wish that I’d have asked my grandfather these questions before he passed away several years ago. He was born in White Hall and maybe he could have filled me in on the history of the town where many of my distant relatives lived.

My fraternal grandmother was born and raised on the outskirts of Shaw, Mississippi.  She grew up on a farm where her and her siblings picked cotton, that is until my great-grandmother passed away.  After this event, my grandmother took over as caretaker of the family.  She did the cooking, cleaning, and other chores that her mother once did.  This means that my grandmother was also unable to finish school.  However, she was a woman who knew how to take care of her family. 

Growing up I loved hearing the names of her brothers and sisters, many of whom had been born in Italy before my great-grandparents Vincenzo and Palmina Bastari came to America.  My grandmother’s brothers names were Rigo, Tilio, Aldo, Amilio, Cerro, and Sam.  My grandmother’s name was Mary, and her sisters were Edith, Emma, Jenny, and Clara.  I never had the opportunity to meet my great uncles, but I am sure they all had great stories to tell about growing up in Mississippi.  I can also imagine their lives, especially as they were growing up, were very difficult.  However, they all went on to have their own families and lived full lives. 

From L to R: My great aunts Jenny, Edith, Emma, Clara, and my grandmother Mary Bradshaw

I did have the privilege of meeting all but one of my great aunts and they were all feisty women.  They also were all quite beautiful.  Each one of them maintained part of their Italian accents as well.  My grandmother’s accent was unique.  It was part Mississippi and part Italian.  Her family was from the town of Assisi, which is in central Italy.  Hopefully, I’ll make it there someday.  I am sure there are still some long-lost cousins who live there.

Vincenzo and Palmina Bastari

My dad’s parents, Oris and Mary were married in 1940 in Hernando, Mississippi.  They lived for a time in Memphis, Tennessee before moving north to Rock Falls, Illinois.  I think it was hard for them to move away from Memphis, but my grandfather came north to help his father and mother. 

My grandfather was one of the most selfless men that I have ever met.  He always put family ahead of himself.  He gave up a career with the Walgreen’s Company so that he could take better care of his children once his first wife died.  He then remarried, moved to Illinois and did various jobs to support his family.  He was a Coke delivery man, and then towards the end of his working life, he was a custodian at the high school just down the street from where I live now. 

My grandpa Oris

I miss him every day. When my own father passed away I was just a boy. My grandpa always made sure we were all right. We all knew we could talk to him, as he was very patient and kind. He was also full of wisdom. He taught me the importance of staying connected to your family. Family always has been, and always will be important to me. Take time to learn your family’s history. Some things may be ugly, but I am sure you’ll also find some incredible things as well. I appreciate the things that I have learned about mine.

Bleeding Cubbie Blue

In celebration of the of the Major League Baseball season getting underway this week the following is a story that I shared on Facebook a few years ago after one of the best days of my life:

So, let me tell you my story.  It all began at 2:30 a.m. on Friday, November 4, 2016. I was awake this early in anticipation of the day before me.  My brother Cory, my niece Clair, and I would be setting off at 4:30 a.m. to be a part of the Cubs World Series victory parade and rally in Grant Park.  We decided to leave this early so that we could catch one of the earliest trains into the city, as we knew that there would be millions of people attending the rally.

We arrived in Elburn, Illinois at a little after 6 a.m. and promptly caught the train that would take us into downtown Chicago.  On the way we sat in nervous anticipation of the sights and sounds we would encounter as we made our way to the rally.  We arrived in Chicago a little after 7 and we hopped off the train. Almost as soon as we left the train, there was singing and people waving banners.  It was going to be a party!

On excursions such as these I usually take a wheelchair, as it makes getting around so much easier for me.  So, I in my wheelchair, and my brother and niece on foot, set out for Grant Park, which is nearly a mile from the train station.

On our way, we saw thousands of others headed in the same direction.  The streets were a flurry of activity, as vendors were selling t-shirts, beads, and flags.  Street musicians were there providing a soundtrack to the city that was oozing with World Series euphoria.  Was this really happening, or had the last two weeks just all been a dream? The Chicago Cubs, my team, our team, had finally done it.  They had become champions, and we were going to celebrate!

We slowly made our way towards Lake Michigan.  We then walked past the lions that guard the entrance to Chicago’s Art Institute.  They were standing there proudly with their Cubs helmets on greeting the masses as they strolled passed.  As we got closer to Grant Park, the crowds really began to thicken, for we all had to pass through a security checkpoint before gaining access to the park.  We inched along with the thousands of others that had gathered until we finally reached the entrance to the park.

One of the lions outside Chicago’s Art Institute adorned with his Cubs hat.


Hundreds of thousands of people were lined up along the parade route, while hundreds of thousands more began to find their places for the rally inside the park.  Cory, Clair, and I made our way down a rather steep, and muddy hill into the park. This was kind of fun in a wheelchair. I don’t know how Cory was able to keep ahold of me and the chair.  We eventually made it down the hill, with the help of a fellow Cubs fan. Some people are still very kind, a lesson that I was to be reminded of yet again a short time later.

We staked out our spot, which was nowhere near the stage, but close enough to a video board, that we’d be able to catch all of the events of the rally there.  Cory and Clair then went to get some food from one of the many food trucks lining the streets outside the park. The smells in the air were amazing! As I was sitting waiting for their return I made some small talk with a police officer, who was standing inside the security fence that lined the interior of the park.  We chatted for a bit and then I was approached by a very kind looking gentlemen, who was very busy, yet took time to speak to me.

This gentleman asked how long I had been a Cubs fan and how long I had been at the rally.  He then asked me who was at the rally with me. I explained that I was with my brother and my niece.  He asked where they were at, and I replied that they were getting some food. He asked if they would be returning soon, and I said yes.  That is when I knew that this man had something in store for us. Something that would be like Christmas, my birthday, and Thanksgiving all rolled into one.  

I quickly sent Cory a text letting him know that he had better return quickly, as our day was going to be getting better than we had ever expected.  Cory and Clair returned in a matter of minutes, upon which the kind gentleman opened a gate and led us down a long aisle that led directly to the front of the park.  On the way he checked to make sure that I was not embarrassed by being wheeled along in front of thousands of others who were not being afforded the same treatment. He did all of this for me purely out of the kindness of his heart.  Cory, Clair, and I were now approximately 30 feet from the stage. The stage that our Cubbies would be speaking from in just a matter of hours! We thanked the man for allowing us access to this part of the park, and he went about his tasks making sure that everything was ready for the rally to begin.  

I assume by observing him that this man was the director of the event, as he went about making sure that others were doing their assigned tasks.  I wish I knew how to thank him, as he gave us all an experience that we will never forget. In the few hours that we spent at the rally I had to keep asking myself why would someone do this for us?  We did not deserve this this type of treatment. We were just there to watch the rally and soak it all in as best we could. The simple answer, there are still humble and kind people in the world. I fall short of this every day.  This man taught me a lesson by giving me an incredible gift. It may not seem like much to others but I spent the day just appreciating being with family, enjoying the beautiful, blue sky, and getting to experience something that is truly once in a lifetime.  I was a part of history today, a beautiful, blue humbling history. GO CUBS!

My brother Cory, me, and my niece Clair at the rally. We were really this close to the stage.

Roger That!

In a few previous posts I have written about my time at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.  It perhaps is a place that I could write dozens of stories about, as there were all kinds of people that I met there as a young boy.  I was exposed to individuals from various ethnicities, religions, and family backgrounds.  Children’s was a place that taught me that we are all people and that we should treat each other with respect.  It also was a place that showed me just how funny life can be. 

As I’ve noted before I was often at Children’s for extended periods of time.  During these stays I had the opportunity to experience things that other children my age would never experience.  For instance, there were times when naval recruits from Great Lakes Naval Station, which is just north of Chicago, would come by and visit patients.  I remember one time a particular recruit came to visit me.  He was a pretty good artist and he made a drawing for me.  This is a picture that I still have stored away somewhere.

When these young sailors would come by for a visit it would make me feel very special because they gave me their full attention.  I felt like I was important to them.  These feelings are something that I will never forget. 

I also had some interesting roommates along the way during my stays at Children’s.  One that often comes to mind when I think of those days is a little girl by the name of Courtney.  She rarely had family come to see her, which always made me feel sorry for her, as it can be terrifying to be in the hospital all alone.  This is especially true for a young child. 

It was around Easter one year when Courtney and I were roommates, and to help her feel better, my mother and father went out and bought her an Easter bonnet and a small purse.  These are two things that I am sure she had never had before.  When she saw them her eyes lit up as if they were the greatest things she had ever seen.  I can remember Courtney calling her parents and telling them about the gifts she had received.  It was heartbreaking to learn that just a few weeks later her brother had gotten jealous of the gifts she had received and proceeded to fill her purse with dirt.  I would like to know what became of Courtney along with some of the other people that I met while I was in the hospital.         

Despite the pain I was often in when I was in the hospital, the nurses and doctors always seemed to make things better.  I think this was because they knew how to treat children who were suffering.  Plus there always seemed to be plenty of things to do to keep one’s mind off of the pain.  For instance, you could make your way up to the ninth floor where there were a few arcade games to play.  Or, there were often magic shows put on by a local magician by the name of Danny Orleans.

Growing up I was a huge fan of Matchbox and Hot Wheels toy cars, and the gift shop at Children’s was always a treasure trove for these.  I can remember several times when I was hospitalized that my parents and I would go to the gift shop where I was allowed to pick out one or two Matchbox cars.  I still have many of these stored away.  They will always bring back great memories.     

Then of course there was the tutor who you went to if you were in the hospital for an extended period.  She was kind of a crotchety old lady who would look over her wire-rimmed glasses at you as she spoke.  You would think having to do school work while hospitalized would have been torture.  The tutor that I had while at Children’s made it all worthwhile though.  I am sure she had been a teacher in the Chicago Public School System since around the time that Al Capone ruled the city.  However, despite her gruff exterior she was actually charming in her own special way.  I think she had a good heart and truly cared for the children with whom she was working.  I just wish her memory had been a little sharper, because she never could get my name correct.  For some reason she always called me Roger, which to this day is one of the nicknames that my family uses for me.  I never really had the heart to correct her.  This woman, I am certain, has long since passed, but the memory of her will live on every time someone calls me Roger.       

Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois shortly before it was demolished. Just inside those doors on the left were two stone elephant sculptures. I wish I could have gotten one of those before they tore this place down.

Patience – Part 2

Eventually the rest of the group caught up to where I was on the river and we continued on our way.  At times the river’s current began to pick up, which made it a little more difficult to avoid obstacles that were in the water.  However, I did fairly well dodging these logs, rocks, and small rapids.  As time went on I was beginning to feel more confident in my abilities to make my way down the river. 

After floating a few more miles, the group decided to take a break along a sandbar.  Despite the fact that this was a July day, it was quite cool and there had been sprinkles of rain on and off throughout our journey down the river.  It perhaps was not the best day to be out on the water, but we continued on after a brief rest. 

As we got further down the river the current became a little more swift.  Likewise, there were a few more rapids to navigate.  By this time I was beginning to feel like I wanted this trip to end.  Little did I know, it was actually just beginning. 

As noted in part one of this story, I am quite inexperienced kayaking on rivers.  So, as the current began to flow a little quicker, I began to feel uneasy.  I just wanted to be out of the kayak and back on dry land where I could warm up a little.  However, things were going to get a lot colder in just a little while. 

More and more obstacles began to come into view the farther we got down the river.  Lots of trees had fallen into the river, which meant we had to navigate around them.  There were also more and more rocks to swerve around as well.  At times there were only very narrow spaces to float through as we went along downstream.  It was in one of these tighter spaces that the front of my kayak snagged a log that had become partially submerged.  This was also a spot where the water was moving quite rapidly. 

As my kayak smacked into the log, I was flipped upside down.  Upon realizing what was happening I tried to grab ahold of my crutches, which I foolishly had brought with me in the kayak.  Despite my best efforts they both shot away from me very quickly as did my glasses.  So there I was submerged upside down in the river trapped inside my kayak.  Fortunately, I was able to squirm my way out of the craft.  I then swam up to the surface, where luckily I found a nearby sandbar. 

I climbed out of the water in a daze not being able to see anything at all, as my glasses had quickly disappeared to the bottom of the river.  The rest of the group came to see if I was all right.  After assuring them that I was, they began to trudge around the river bottom looking for my crutches and my glasses.  However, after searching for several minutes neither my crutches nor my glasses were found. 

So, without being able to see anything, I hopped into a canoe with Amanda, while her cousin Doug took over piloting the kayak I had been floating in throughout the day.  Despite having very little idea of what was going on around me, I still felt it necessary to be a “backseat driver.”  Fortunately, Amanda did not whack me across the face with one of her paddles.  Although, I am quite certain she felt like doing that at some point.

As we got to the spot where we were to climb out of our canoes and kayaks there was yet another obstacle for me to face.  Without my crutches or my glasses, I would need to crawl several feet back to the car.  So, there I was sopping wet, cold, and nearly blind.  As I was drenched from head to toe, I decided to climb in the back Alice’s SUV and lay across some blankets that had been put down for me. 

I can say without a doubt that the trip back to my in-laws house was one of the longest car rides I have ever experienced.  On the way calls were made to various medical supply stores to see if they sold the type of crutches that I use.  However, by this time, it was fairly late in the day, so no shops were open.  This is when I remembered that I had a spare pair of crutches in the trunk of my car.  I also had stashed a pair of old glasses in the glove compartment as well.  So, once we got back to my in-laws house, I took a nice warm bath, cleaned the sand from all my cracks and crevices.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend walking around on an old pair of crutches and staring through lenses that were a few prescriptions too old. 

From now on I will always have a spare pair of glasses and some old crutches with me just in case I need them.  I have also decided that I will stick to calm lakes and streams from now on if I want to go kayaking.  However, I don’t think I have much of a desire to do that, at least for several more years.  Finally, I will always be grateful for the patience of Amanda.   

Oh, and one last thing before I go. If you are ever on the Meramec River in Missouri and you come across a pair of crutches, let me know, as I will forever wonder what became of those sticks of mine.                     

Patience – Part 1

“Patience is not passive, on the contrary, it is concentrated strength.” – Bruce Lee

My wife Amanda is one of the most patient people that I know. I am very thankful that God has placed her in my life. This is because I often test my own limits, and she is there to pick up the pieces. It is a great thing that we live right across the street from our local hospital, as we visit the ER at least once every six months. The reasons for our trips have varied over the years. One of the last times we were there was for a surgical incision that had split open and had become infected. This was probably due to me trying to resume normal activity too soon.

Perhaps one of the best illustrations of Amanda’s patience was during a canoe trip that we took a few summers ago with her sister Alice, and some of their cousins. This was the second canoe trip Amanda and I had been on together. The first one ended with me tipping over the canoe in which we were floating. Fortunately, it was pretty hot that day and we both dried off rather quickly. However, I think due to this experience, Amanda was a little apprehensive to have me float along in a canoe with her on our trip with Alice and the cousins. Therefore, I was exiled to my own kayak, which was fine with me, as I enjoy kayaking very much. The only problem is that before this second canoe trip I had never taken a kayak out onto a river. I had only ever floated in rather calm lakes.

Despite my inexperience kayaking on anything but a serene lake, we all set off down the Meramec River, which winds its way through various parts of Missouri.  About five minutes into the trip I floated my way over to some rather large rocks that were near the bank of the river.  I then extended my right hand out in order to grab ahold of one of the rocks, as I had gotten ahead of the rest of the group.  Fortunately, just before I touched one of the rocks, I noticed that a snake was perched about 6 inches from my hand.  I believe this was a pretty harmless snake, as it slithered its way into the river and out of my sight.  However, this was perhaps a sign of things to come.   

Dew Shine

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

As winter slowly melts into spring here in Northwest Illinois, my thoughts are turning more and more to being outdoors and to soak up the sunshine.  The sun is something that we do not see much during the winter. One of my favorite outdoor activities in the spring and summer is bicycling. I have a Sun HT-3, which is ahand-powered trike.  It is a pleasure to ride for hours, just taking in the sights and sounds of the outdoors. 

Here in my hometown of Sterling, Illinois there are various bike paths on which I enjoy riding.  A few of these run along the Rock River, which can be beautiful around sunset, as you can see in the picture below.  The park district has done a great job maintaining these paths for all cyclists to enjoy.

Sunset along the Rock River

On occasion my wife Amanda and I will also load our bikes into the back of our SUV and drive to other cities where there are great paths to explore.  Chicago has a great bike trail that runs along Lake Michigan. This is perhaps one of my most favorite paths on which to ride.  There are so many things to see, and best of all, there are places to stop and eat. 

Another city nearby that has a great trail system which to explore is Madison, Wisconsin.  Madison is home to two lakes, along which you can ride. One of these paths takes you through various neighborhoods of the city with lots of beautiful homes and well-manicured lawns.  However, the best parts are along Lake Monona, where you can catch views of the city’s skyline.  Then after you are done riding you can stop in at Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry and have one of their delicious cheeseburgers andsome deep-fried cheese curds.

There are times when my trike has needed repairs and thereis no better place to go than a shop we have right here in Sterling.  I cannot say enough about the staff at Mead’s Bike Shop, especially the owners, Bryce and Marcy Mead.  Their customer service is second tonone. 

When I was looking for a bicycle, Bryce took the time tohelp me order my hand trike.  His teamthen assembled it when it arrived. Thanks to Mead’s I have spent hundreds of hours riding and enjoying theoutdoors.  However, without the help ofanother organization I would not have been able to purchase my trike. 

A few years ago I was looking for a bicycle that I couldride where I could use my hands to pedal, as the strength in my legs is not the greatest. That is when a friend of mine told me about something called the Challenged Athletes Foundation. 

This organization helps provide sportingequipment to disabled individuals.  So, I wrote a grant, which they accepted, and thus I had a shiny, new trike.  One on which I have had many adventures.

Perhaps, one of the most fun rides that I have had since getting my trike, at least in hindsight, was with my nephew Dalen a few summers ago.  He and I decided to set out one warm and sunny afternoon.  We had no particular goal in mind.  We were just out for a joyride.

About 30 minutes into our aimless journey, Dalen asked if we could stop at the store so that he could get something to drink.  Thanking that he was just going to go in and grab a bottle of Coke, I agreed and we stopped at a store just down the street.  Little did I know that he was going to come back out with a four-pack of glass bottles of a soda he was into at the time called “Dew Shine.”  I am not sure what he was thinking when he bought those glass bottles, as we had no way to carry them while riding.  However, this is typical of Dalen, to not think ahead. 

So, there we were a few miles from either one of our homes with 4 glass bottles of soda and no place to put them.  I suggested that we each carry two bottles and make our way towards his house. However, in doing so we would need to ride along a fairly busy highway.

We started out quite well but it was difficult to hold two glass bottles between my legs and for him to carry two and hold on to the handle bars of his bike at the same time.  So, we pulled over at a nearby gas station where we each downed a bottle.  We then carried on a little further before the chain on my bike slipped off.  Fortunately, it was an easy fix and we were back on our way.  However, a short time later, the chain slipped off of Dalen’s bike, which wasn’t as easy to fix.  We did eventually get the chain back on his bike, and made it home shortly thereafter.  This was the last time he and I ever rode together. 

This was a great 22-mile ride along Lake Michigan in Chicago