Memorial Garden

I already learned that it’s still hard dealing with the fact my mom isn’t here….I realized that the 2nd year without was a lot harder than I anticipated. Even knowing all that, I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that would hit me today returning to my middle school. As soon as my sister and I were out of middle school, my mom became an Algebra teacher there. Today they dedicated the Patricia Gotimer Memorial Garden in her name. The garden came about as an Eagle Scout project for one of her students in her last year of teaching; even leaving school at Thanksgiving, my mom made a profound enough impact on this young man that he took the initiative to build a garden for her at her school.

Even knowing that I’d see her friends, colleagues and some former students, I wasn’t prepared for all the feelings – and that became abundantly clear as I couldn’t even get through my short speech I had prepared without tears, lots of tears…

Mom, this one’s for you. You always loved seeing your students succeed and watch them do amazing things…well Tommy knocked this one out of the park. The old beat up courtyard that used to just be used by skateboarders, well now it’s a permanent place for you at ERMS.

It has been said, “Being a good teacher is a lot like being a good gardener. Good gardeners are optimistic and patient. They are able to see the potential in those struggling young seedlings and enjoy watching them grow, develop and bloom. They give special tender loving care to those few plants that are struggling and not thriving.”

East Ridge was a second family to my mom; both the staff and students. My mother’s best friends were some of you here today. You were her friends, confidants and family when Sarah and I grew up and moved out. For about 1200 Ridgefield students, she was their math teacher who loved to teach Algebra and she was so fiercely passionate about her students’ successes. For 15 years, she started the school year by decorating her classroom with students’ favorite numbers covered in pictures of things that were important to them. I imagine if she created her own, it would be the symbol for Pi, adorned with math symbols, a deck of cards, a picture of Sarah and me, a Yankees’ logo, pictures of the beach and flowers. When she wasn’t preparing class plans or grading quizzes and tests, she always loved to garden.

I can think of no better way to honor my mom than through this garden. It is comforting to know that there will still be a little place in Ridgefield for her even though she is gone. On behalf of my sister, Sarah, myself and our entire extended family, we want to thank everyone involved in making this garden happen. We would especially like to thank Tommy for his idea and hard work to create this lasting memorial for my mom and thank the entire community for the love you have shown us over the past few years.

Why I’m Pissed After Sandy….

Priorities. Where are people’s priorities?

We all want life back to normal, like yesterday. We want power, water, Internet, cable, phones, heat, the ability to cook in our ovens, etc…. But how do we get there? Prioritize. First, let’s make sure everyone is safe, then we can get to the luxuries we are accustomed to.

First, people need to check in to reality. Let’s not harp on the vocabulary Rudy is using in our emergency update calls. Yes, you can’t actually postpone Halloween since it is a fixed date, but we all know he meant the activities, i.e.; trick-or-treating, since you know it’s DANGEROUS for kids to be walking around most of town right now. (Remember, priorities, people’s safety.) Or how about the fact that most of town seems to forget that the non-working lights on Main Street equate to a four-way stop sign? It seems people are in more of a hurry these days than normal…I drove to Stop & Shop today and witnessed more people cutting others off and doing things that are definitely illegal at any time, but maybe they don’t care if they get in an accident and land someone in the hospital, at least they’d have heat and power then… And let’s all drop the “woo is me” attitude. Most of town is in the same boat, or a worse one than you. And many other communities are far worse off than us, let’s just be glad our whole town wasn’t under water. We need perspective here, we’re all spoiled and used to having a lot of luxuries in life. Let’s be adults and realize this could be a lot worse!

But now, to why I’m really pissed. Last I knew, Ridgefield had 80 blocked roads. And 64% of us don’t have power. My house has no phone, cable, power and the road is blocked, sort of. Thanks to a good neighbor, I don’t know which, the branches on the pine tree blocking my road were sawed off. My neighbors and I are able to drive under the tree (I say a quick prayer each time hoping the tree doesn’t decide to give way) to get off of our dead end at the edge of town. But when I was driving to town to use the Internet and try to get some work done, what did I see? The town and a tree crew at the Little Red Schoolhouse – removing the tree that fell on the roof and caused minor damage to the roof and chimney. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about preserving the history of our town and I want the Little Red Schoolhouse to remain open after storm relief, but, I’m more interested in having fire trucks and ambulances able to get to my neighbors and my houses before first. I’m not even asking for power yet, how about just enabling emergency services to get to all of us? The town might be able to send in an ATV instead of an ambulance (yes, they do it, they did last year after Irene when a neighbor needed to be taken to the hospital, but tell me, how is clearing the Little Red Schoolhouse supposed to help anyone on my block, or any of the other blocked roads, when God forbid, someone’s house catches fire?

Now, before you decide to criticize my bluntness, or the lack of grammatical editing that I couldn’t be bothered to do, think about the things that really matter. Why don’t you use that negative energy of yours to go help everyone who needs it? Cause guess what, most of the region could find something productive for you to do.

Fallen Star

On Tuesday night two unleashed German shepherds attacked a man and his puppy, a Golden Retriever named Star. After the attack, the presumed owner of the German shepherds, took his dogs with him and fled the scene before the police or ambulance could arrive. (For the whole story, you can see the article in the Ridgefield Press, here). This incident makes two things come sprinting to the forefront of my mind. One, what kind of person just flees the scene after an attack like that? And two, why doesn’t Ridgefield have a leash law?

The very first thing that upset me about the whole story was that the man with the German shepherds got in his car, whistled for his dogs to get in the car and he drove off. A friend of mine who showed up just after the attack happened said she thought the owner was just putting the dogs in the car, not driving off. She jumped to the same conclusion I would have come to, one that I think most sensible people would come to. Who would assume this man was going to run off with the dogs? Even the wife of the man attacked was quoted in the Ridgefield Press saying, “My husband thought, ‘Oh, great he is putting the dogs in the car and is coming to help me,’ but he drove away.” It takes a special type of person to run away from something like this. What if the man’s German shepherds attacked a man with a baby, not a puppy? What if it were kids that were attacked instead? Would this man still have run away? Whatever this man was thinking at the time no longer matters. We live in a small town, and now this man has made the front page of the local paper and there is no doubt in my mind that almost everyone not on spring break with their families has heard what happened. Whoever this guy is, he needs to step up and take responsibility of what happened like a man.

At the same time, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the German shepherds were on a leash. Which leads me to my next question, why doesn’t Ridgefield have a leash law? This is important in a community like ours and I was shocked to find out we don’t have one. It especially surprises me that there isn’t at least a leash law in places like the rail trail and the walking trail at the Rec Center. While these are great places for people to take their dogs for walks, they are also places where people like me love to jog/run/walk and especially on the rail trail, there tend to be smaller children as well. Without a leash law, there will always be a higher risk of attacks such as this one. Besides just the risk of attacks, I think a leash law helps calm the nerve of the public. I personally have been scared of large dogs since I was a little kid thanks to a dog (who was not on a leash) chasing me around a tree for what seemed like ages at the time. This may make me somewhat biased on this topic, but I do know that I’m not looking forward to hitting up the rail trail this weekend knowing there could be an unleased dog out there with me. And it’s safe to say, I’ll be taking a turn as soon as I see any German shepherds on my foot travels through town.