“vehement and gusty, leonine, hale, and lusty.”


When I was 10-years old, I got a shiny, red bicycle for Christmas.  It wasn’t a Schwinn or even a Cannondale. It was a bike my father bought for $1 from the Salvation Army Thrift Store.  He sanded off the rust.  Took the spokes from the wheels , sanded and oiled those.  He removed rust from the chain and oiled that.  He painted the frame red, he put on new tires, a new seat cover and new red plastic handlebar grips.  I was so proud of my new bike, and my father said I could ride my bike to school.  This meant I didn’t have to walk the mile and a half to school and home again.  It meant I could have more time to play with my friends after school.  My tutu, my grandma said it meant I could have more time to study and to help with family chores.
It was about two weeks after Christmas, when my tutu came over to our house and she asked to ride my bicycle.  Let me explain, my grandmother is a formidable woman.  She had 10 children, 7 boys and 3 girls.  My mom was the youngest. But this story isn’t about my mother it is about my tutu.  She was short, about 4 ft. 8. and she was about that wide too.
So, when she asked to ride my bike, my first reaction was to say, “Tutu, you can’t ride a bike.”
She looked at me; gave me her stink eye, “Who are you, young lady, to tell me what I can and can’t do?  I’ll have you know when I was your age, no when I was younger than you, I used to bike all over.”
I looked at my prized bicycle, and I looked at my grandma, and I moved to hand over my bicycle.  I had been taught to respect my elders, but I hoped she didn’t break my bike, or worse yet crash it and hurt herself.
“Naw, Sweetheart,” she said. “I don’t want to peddle; I want to ride.  You peddle.” and with that she hefted her robust rear end over the handlebar.  She leaned back to grip the handlebars and lifted her feet off the ground in front of her.  “Now peddle.”
Slowly, I started to peddle.
“Faster,” my tutu commanded.  “Whee!,” she screamed and started to laugh.
She laughed and screamed and laughed as I started to peddle a little faster.
I started to laugh and scream and laugh too.  All the while her round bottom jiggled and rolled over the handlebar. We both laughed and laughed.
We were bicycling for a good 10 minutes when Grandma finally said, “OK, you stop now.”
I was glad because it is really difficult to peddle while you’re laughing so hard.  I slowly applied the breaks, and when I was finally going slow enough I put my feet on the pavement to stop and balance the bike.
My tutu leaped from the handlebar and rushed to throw her arms around me, still laughing.
I’ll always remember that day.
“Now Little Girl, I want you to remember, never judge a book by its cover.”
That day I learned it wasn’t my job to set limitations for other people.  I thought my tutu was too old and too fat to ride a bicycle, and if I had refused to let my tutu get on my bike, I would have missed all the laughter and the memory of my grandma jiggling on the handlebars while yelling, “Whee!’
My job is to help raise people up to see beyond their limitations, and to help them strive to reach beyond what they think is possible.
I ask you, my fellow Toastmasters, do you see people by their limitations? Do you define them by their handicaps?  Or do you work to help others to reach beyond what they thought was possible?  As you know, anything is possible with Toastmasters.
This story was shared with me by Joy Acey

Thunder Storms in Sullivan County

A&O@Spring Recess2016

A sunny day in Austerlitz on Spring Break

I huddle under thunder-hail

heated-with high-speed internet.

The grands explore the creek and its mysteries-

sun-dappled creatures swimming by.

Grand trees grab sun and lichen-

Grands celebrate forces of nature.

All generations bow before beauty

in  the rain, sun, valley and mountains.

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