Travel Tuesdays – S1 E23 autumn foliage

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I love living in the northeast. The northeast enjoys four distinct seasons. Even though lately one season seems to leap-frog over another and then we go back to the “correct” season. Warm weather in April then back to rain in May and then back to whatever in June. The last few days I have been noticing that the leaves are starting to change color. When my daughters were growing up, they commuted with me to my work, their childcare then their elementary school and eventually high school. This time of year I would ask “which coloring is winning?”. Basically to keep them entertained and on occasion as a teachable moment about seasons or colors or creation. As the year’s past and my daughter’s grew too old for the color game, but every now and then one of them would randomly say “I think orange is winning”. 🙂 Today as I drove that same route I smiled and thought I think green is still winning but soon it will orange or yellow or red. From the looks of the fall foliage map, you have time to plan a drive to check out “what color is winning?” Don’t forget your camera. And why not stop for some cider and donuts.

Autumn Leaves
The autumn leaves swirl to the ground in their millions.
Gold, russet, ochre, burnt umber, and deep vermillion.
Down to the ground, the dying leaves flit and flutter;
On to the grassy bank, the pathway, and into the gutter.

Some of the colours of the leaves are deep and so very rich.
Whirling along the ground, some leaves tumble into the ditch.
A thick layer of multicoloured leaves now carpets the earth,
Leaving the trees bare, in readiness, for next spring’s rebirth.

With changing leaf colours, many people love this time of year,
But, that summer is well and truly over, it is now perfectly clear.
The many colours mixed together are a magical sight to behold;
I love the shades of yellow, crimson, sienna, and ruby red, so bold.

Some leaves are mottled, with two glorious colours or more;
Adding to the fabulous display, which now lies upon the floor.
Children love nothing better, than to frolic through the fallen leaves;
When workmen collect them up, they’re left feeling very aggrieved.

Even though the weather is getting cold, the colours look so warm.
Fiery reds and oranges, and golden hues, like those of ripened corn.
Photographers find this time of year, so very evocative and inspiring;
The spectacular displays before them, they spend much time admiring.

As the season draws on, the once vibrant colours begin to dull and fade.
Soon, all that is left are brown leaves, which once boasted brilliant shades.
When leaves first change their colour, they create much admired foliage,
But with age and weather, over the coming weeks, there is much spoilage.

I love the dark green leaves, with their edges tinged with a brilliant red.
But, alas, those colours will fade, now that the leaf is no longer being fed.
The crisp, bright colours can offer cheer on even the very dullest of days,
But in our minds, we know it won’t be long before winter comes our way.

Angela Wybrow

Travel Tuesdays -S1E22- national preparedness month

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September is National Preparedness Month. Both the Red Cross and FEMA have some great information on their websites. I thought I would share a few thoughts for emergency preparedness when traveling.

1. Add a I.C.E. ( in case of emergency ) contact to your phone.

2. If traveling oversees, add the American Embassy’s phone number to your phone.

3. Pack a flashlight and extra batteries.

4. Carry your prescriptions in your carry on. Put an extra glasses in your carry on. Hearing aid batteries in your carry on as well.

5. Pick an emergency meeting place. This is something we usually do when we travel as a family. In case things “go bad”. Last year, my daughter and I were at a conference together in CA and the convention center had to be evacuated. We were able to reach other by phone but the first thing we said to each other was “we forgot to pick a spot.”

6. If you are told to evacuate, evacuate!!!

7. Let someone know your travel plans. Even if you are “running away”, let someone who will not bug you know where you are.

8. As I say to the school groups at the Tribute Center, we don’t live “afraid”, we live “aware”. Pay attention to what is happening around you.

9. Have a photocopy of your passport.

10. Write the toll free number for your credit card on a piece of paper, in case your card is lost or stolen.


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This morning as I was standing outside of the Tribute Center waiting for the 11:00 am walking tour to begin there were many people walking down the street. Which that in itself isn’t unusually. Walking by were your basic slightly confused visitors who aren’t sure where the entrance to the National September 11 Memorial is. There were your average New Yorkers weaving in and out of the slower walking visitors and then there was a group of Naval officers in their dress whites. And mixed in with the officers were a group of kids and adults in bright blue t-shirts. At first glance we thought they were together which made no sense but who knows. This is New York. As more and more Naval Officers kept coming down the street, we realized they were from all different countries. But every now and then there was a kid, two or three in a bright blue t-shirt. Finally one of the Tribute staff asked one of the passing Naval Officers who they were? Obviously we knew where they were going but who were they? The gentleman stated “they were Naval Officers from the War College in Norfolk, VA.” My curiosity was getting the better of me so I asked one of the passing children who they were? A delightful ten-year old said “Kids for Peace” and handed me a construction paper heart with a lovely message on it about hope, love and peace being in your soul and bubbling out into the world. Then I asked one of the blue t-shirted adults “are you with the Naval officers?” She gave me a strange look. “No!” They were just walking down the street at the same time, heading to the same Memorial. And there was just something amazing about that.

As we started our tour and came around the corner, the “Kids for Peace” were standing in front of FDNY 9/11 Memorial singing to the “War College” Naval Officers. And I thought wow!!! The word juxtaposition came to mind not sure if it is actually the right use of the word but wow!!

Kids for peace pledge:
I pledge to use my words to speak in a kind way.
I pledge to help others as I go throughout my day.
I pledge to care for our earth with my healing heart and hands.
I pledge to respect people in each and every land.
I pledge to join together as we unite the big and small.
I pledge to do my part to create PEACE for one and all.

aha moment!!!

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I have to share this story. I know some people wouldn’t agree with me and that is fine. Some people may not even get it and that is fine, too. But this morning I just witnessed the most amazing example of God’s love for me. An example of his fingerprints all over everything.

As I checked my email, I had my daily 9/11 list server email. I subscribe to this post and most days I glance down the list is see if there is anything I should know. I may or may not click on an article or YouTube video. Some days I delete it without reading anything. It helps to keep me informed about all things September 11 including books, the National Museum, etc.. Today a YouTube video by New York City Ballet was included. I clicked on it, watched a beautiful piece that was performed on the roof of 4WTC at dawn. 1WTC is visible in the background. The music, the choreography, the dancers everything about it is fitting and appropriate as a September 11 tribute which it is. New York City Ballet presented this as a “gift of remembrance”. It is stunning.

I posted it on twitter because I felt it was worth sharing. My twitter account is connected to my Facebook page. So then on Facebook I tagged a few dancers who I wanted to make sure saw it because I knew they would enjoy seeing it. And then a comment of Facebook brought me to tears. Good tears. The kind of tears that remind me how much I am loved by God. I actually had an aha moment!! I suddenly realized what a gift this video was. Let me explain. As you probably know my husband was one of he 343 firefighters killed on September 11. Thus my interest in “all things September 11”. You may or may not know that as a little girl I wanted to be a ballerina. Starting in my teens and through most of my adult life I taught ballet. I taught ballet and other forms of dance for 40 years. For 35 of those years a friend and I owned a dancing school. We retired two years ago and were able to “gift” the studio to a wonderful, talented young woman. I have known that young woman since she was a little girl. Actually I have also known her husband since he was a little boy. Her husband worked on building the building the dancers in the video are dancing on. So here are all these parts that came together in this one video – September 11, ballet, the building. But it was so much more than that. It is hard to explain but I had a moment of clarity where I understood the Bible story of Joseph and I understood “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…”

Social media connects us is marvelous ways. I believe God is constantly connecting us to each other and to Him. I am grateful and awed.

a few words

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033The question is usually posed in one of two ways. “Would you mind saying a few words?” or “Would you like to say a few words?” My answer is typically “No, I don’t mind” or “Yes, I would like to?” Breath! Think! Smile! Lucky for me the person who asked either question can’t read my thoughts. “Okay now what?!?” “How many words are a few words? ” “What do you want me to say Lord!” “Oh boy, that may have been the wrong answer?”

Yesterday, I had two amazing opportunities to say a “few words”. As I began my day, I knew I was the spokes person for the Tribute Center at the ringing of the bell at NASDAQ. That whole experience makes me smile because really, what the heck am I doing at the NASDAQ? A few weeks ago, Tribute Center had asked for volunteers to ring the opening bell on September 11. At that point in time, I was sorting through how I would spend the day. I was already planning on attending the dedication of a memorial in Bruce’s hometown of Rochelle Park, NJ but that was in the evening. At first I thought nah, I won’t say yes to the NASDAQ and then I thought why not? So I said “yes”. Then last Friday the volunteer coordinator from the Tribute Center called and asked if I would mind saying “a few words” as Tribute’s spokes person. I chuckled and said “this is so weird on so many levels but why not?”. Then they asked “would you like talking points?” “Yes, please.” Now this whole time I am assuming that ALL the people representing the Tribute Center, Tuesday’s Children, New York Fire & Police Widow and Children Fund, the NYPD and FDNY will be on stage. Not!! It is just me and 4 other people – one from each organization. “Oh, my! how did I get here?” . So much for safety in numbers. Eventually, all those other people join in. Thank you, Jesus!! But the piece de resistance was when we went outside for our tower photos. The photographer took a few photos of the five representatives standing in the middle of Time Square with the NASDAQ tower in the background. And then he took individual photos* and there was my name in huge letters on the tower. Unbelievable. And I had to laugh. I remembered my dancing teacher, Miss Betty, saying “Stick with me kid, you will have your name in lights and your ass in tights!!” But it was my hubby that got my name in lights. Thanks, Bruce. 🙂

Last evening I attended the dedication of the September 11 memorial in Rochelle Park, NJ. When I arrived, I was asked “would you like to say a few words?” The memorial in Rochelle Park has two names on it – Richard Bruce Van Hine and Father Mychal Judge. As I pondered what to say I thought about was there any connection between Bruce and Father Judge besides they were both FDNY deaths on September 11. And then it came to me or probably more accurately God whispered in my ear. They both loved God and they both fulfilled their callings. So my “few words” included that Bruce and Father Judge both loved God. I also stated “I never had the privilege of meeting Father Judge but from what I read about him I can think Bruce and Father Judge have something else in common. They fulfilled their callings. My prayer and hope is that each of us will fulfill the callings on our life.” 034

“Lord, Take me where you want me to go,Let me meet who you want me to meet,Tell me what you want me to say and keep me out of your way” Father Mychal Judge

*I don’t have the photo yet but when I do I will post it.

Travel Tuesdays S1E21 – National September 11 Memorial and Museum

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052It seemed appropriate to write about the National September 11 Memorial and Museum today. I do want to clarify a couple of things. First the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is currently just a Memorial. The projected date for the Museum to open is Spring 2014. Secondly even though it is called the National September 11 Memorial and Museum it is not funded by or overseen by the government. It is a private entity and funded by donations. The Memorial recognizes all who were killed at the three attack locations on September 11, 2001 – World Trade Center, Shanksville, PA and the Pentagon. It also recognizes the 6 people including the pregnant woman and her unborn child who were killed in the Feb 26, 1993 terrorist bombing at the World Trade Center.

I would suggest you start your visit to the Memorial and the Tribute Center, 120 Liberty St where you can view 5 small galleries that tell the timeline of September 11 from the attacks to the rebuilding and sign up for a walking tour. The Tribute Center is a project of the September 11 Families Association and opened in September of 2006. Walking tours led by volunteers who have a personal connection to September 11 started in the fall of 2005. Each walking tour is led by either a family member, first responder, downtown resident, survivor or someone who volunteered at the site. The basic concept behind Tribute is person to person history. You will hear the facts of September 11, the development of the original WTC will be discussed, the rescue, the recovery and the rebuilding will be explained. But by far the most amazing part will be hearing the stories of the two docents leading your tour. I have personally been volunteering since February 2006.

The tour starts at the Tribute Center, proceeds to Greenwich Street where you see and learn about the FDNY Memorial. This is also the “Photo Op Spot” to get the great photo of 1 WTC and 7 WTC. Once you are on the Memorial you are too close to 1 WTC to get a photo of the whole building. The tour then continues through security, under the south bridge which is the last remaining above ground piece of the original WTC. One more security checkpoint and you are standing on the Memorial Plaza. If the buildings were still standing, you would be in the lobby of the Marriott (formerly the Vista) Hotel. The Memorial Plaza is and should be considered hallowed ground. Of the 2,749 people who were killed here on September 11, 2001, 40% of their families have never had any human remains. One of the first things you will notice is the trees. When the Memorial Plaza is completed there will be 400 trees. If you look north to south, the trees appear to be random. In a few years the trees will have grown to their full height, as you look east to west the tress will be arched to form the look of an arbor or the entrance to a cathedral. As you approach the South Memorial pool, you will hear the sounds of the waterfall and the sounds of the city will drift away. Once you walk past the last row of trees, you are standing in what would have been 2 WTC or the South Tower. The last row of trees before the pool is where the outside walls of the South Tower used to stand. The trees mark the acre in size. The black granite in front of you contains the names of the 595 people killed in the South Tower, the passengers and crew of the flight that crashed into the south tower, the passengers and crew killed on the plane and in the Pentagon, the passengers and crew of United 93 and all first responders – 343 FDNY, 23 NYPD, 37 PAPD as well as a court officer, FBI agent and WTC security people. There names are etched out because they are gone. Below the granite panel there is a shelf of water that will become the waterfall then pond and then become a waterfall again disappearing into a void that you taken see the bottom of. You can touch the water. You can rub water over a name. And whether it is very hot out or very cold out you can always touch the names because the panel is cooled in the summer and heated in the winter. The north pool is similar in design but has different names etched into it. The names of 1360 people who were killed in the 1 WTC or the North Tower, the passengers and crew of the plane that crashed into the North Tower and the people who were killed in the Feb 1993 bombing.

There is all kinds of interesting facts and stories I could tell you about “meaningful adjacencies”, the rebuilding, the survivor tree, the surrounding neighborhood, the new Museum and St Paul’s Chapel and an urban legion but then you won’t need to take a tour. 🙂 You can go to the Memorial by yourself but trust me you will get so much more out of the experience if you do a Tribute Center walking tour.


always remember or never forget

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As my dentist walked into the examining room last Friday, he commented “I was just talking about you the other day.” Of course, I commented “why”. He told me that he has a foreign exchange student living with him and the student’s assignment was to write about what he remembers about September 11, 2001. There were two problems with that assignment this particular student is from China and this is a class of high school sophomores. This young man is a little older than his classmates but he is still only 17 so he was 5 in 2001. We chatted back and forth about how young these students were when September 11, 2001 happened and that they shouldn’t really have memories of that day. I asked “what did the young man write about.” My dentist asked the student what he knew and he remembered learning that something had happened in America but no real details. My dentist told the student that he had patients who were directly affected, shared my story and also told his personal memories of that day.

We also chatted about the idea that people say they will never forget but that they probably will. I mentioned that I had commented to my daughters at one point that when you hear on the radio that it is Pearl Harbor Day that still really means something to someone because they loss a father, grandparent, great-uncle. My dentist went on to tell me that when he was in the Navy stationed in Norfolk, VA. An urgent call had come through for all the ships to immediately lower their flags to half-staff because it was December 7. Wow, even the Navy forgot. 😦

And so 12 years from September 11, 2001 you have people who have real personal “I remember…” memories but you also have a generation who wasn’t old enough to have memories or weren’t even born. And very soon “I remember on September 11…” will sound to kids/teens the same way “I remember on December 7…” sounded to me. Even though it seems like ancient history to young people, we have to share those stories so those stories can be retold to future generations.

September 11 was named National Day of Service and Remembrance by the US Congress in 2009. Their website has some suggestions for service and has teaching tools. The Tribute Center also has teaching tools.

As September 11, 2013 approaches, my hope is you will tell the next generation your September 11 story. My prayer is that the next generation will not have their own December 7 or September 11.