Up the Hill, with Profound Determination

Photo by Andrew M. Daddio, Colgate University, August 5, 2009. Retrieved from flickr.com.
“1819” sung by the Colgate 13, Cutting it Close, 1980

I’m going on a bike ride, and I need your help.

After years of saying I don’t want to do charity rides, and I hate fundraising, I’m doing a ride to raise money.

Here’s what you need to know. My friend and college roommate, Tonya, has cancer. She has reached the stage where there are no more treatments available. Over the past several months, she has been in hospice care. In her words:

Facebook post, April 2021

Tonya has immeasurable wealth. It is not the kind backed by a federal agency, but a wealth of faith, determination, courage, and an ability to befriend anyone who crosses her path. My classmates and I want to honor this spirit; it is the “spirit that is Colgate.” In order to do so, we need to raise tangible funds. Everything we raise will go toward financial aid. Hopefully we will raise enough to endow a scholarship in Tonya’s name. Financial aid made Colgate possible for Tonya, and our goal is to pay that forward (More about Tonya in our official ask below).

It is in this same spirit that I am committing to ride my bike 113 miles, ending at East Hall, our freshman dorm. The ride will take place on Tonya’s birthday, July 22, 2021 (severe weather threats will change the date). I hope you will consider supporting this effort. My initial goal is $1300. All money raised will go directly to the fund set up by Colgate. This is not a glitzy fundraiser; swag is pretty limited. Any gift amount will be appreciated, you do not have to choose from Colgate’s default amounts. If you need some inspiration, here is a range of possibilities:

$13: Sets the thing in motion (listen to the song at the beginning of the post). Colgate’s lucky number.
$18.19: Year of Colgate’s founding.
$19.98: Year of our graduation.
$41.31: Tonya’s CU mailbox number
$56.50: 50 cents per mile!
Anyone pledging at this level or above will get a handwritten, rather than email, thank you note.
$113: One dollar per mile!
Anyone pledging at this level or above may opt to receive a text update from the road.
$133.46: Colgate’s zip code
Anyone pledging at this level or above may opt to receive a selfie from the road.
$197.75: One Slice per mile! (At current day prices. Still plain only.)
Anyone pledging at this level or above may opt to receive two selfies from the road (neither selfie will include pizza).
$282.50: Two and a half dollars per mile!
Anyone pledging at this level or above may opt to receive three selfies from the road.
$565: Five dollars per mile!
Anyone pledging at this level or above may opt to follow me electronically through Garmin’s Livetrack*, and receive three selfies.
$860: Number of students starting out in the Class of ’98. The biggest and the best!
Anyone pledging at this level or above may opt to receive four selfies.
$1130: Ten dollars per mile!
Anyone pledging at this level or above may opt to be tagged/thanked in social media posts, and receive five selfies.
$1300: Genuine fan of Tonya.
Pledge this much, I’ll buy you something from the bookstore.

*Limited number available

Prefer to drive rather than write a check? I am also looking for someone (must be fully vaccinated) to help get me to the Schenectady area (beginning of the ride) from Colgate (end of the ride). I would like to leave my car at Colgate, and have someone drive me from there – the day before the ride – to a hotel near the starting point. Please let me know if you can do this!

Next steps!

— Donate at: http://colgate.edu/hendersonfund (Please contact me if you’d prefer a different method. Please note that donating directly to Colgate comes with a tax deduction, other ways do not.)

— In the comments section, please write, “Jennifer’s bike ride.”

Email me your gift level and phone number (for texts or selfies)

If you would like to follow my training progress, sign up here to receive updates Sorry, too many issues with the site. See my usual FB updates.

— Follow the fund’s progress (updated weekly)

Also welcome are cheerleaders at East Hall! Our official ask is below the map. Please let me know if you have any questions. THANK YOU and GO GATE!

tonyasride@gmail.com
Tentative route – with elevation. It’s going to be a climb at the end!

Our official ask:

It is with a very heavy heart that we write to tell you that our classmate, Tonya Gscheidle Henderson, is losing her life to a rare form of cancer. Tonya was, to so many of us, the epitome of what was best about our Colgate years. She was a community builder, spreading ’gate enthusiasm and creating lasting friendships in every corner of her campus life. Tonya’s grit and joy forged the course of her life, and Colgate was a momentous chapter in that journey. 

After Colgate, Tonya earned her PhD in School Psychology and recently won School Psychologist of the Year for the state of Oklahoma. Tonya was the first person in her family to graduate from college. In many ways, Colgate changed the trajectory of Tonya’s life. We would like to ensure that more students like Tonya attend Colgate by raising $50,000 to endow a scholarship in Tonya’s name. 

We hope to make it possible for Colgate to be an important chapter in another student’s life, so that like Tonya, they can go on to build community wherever their life journey takes them. If we reach our $50k goal within the next year, an endowed scholarship will be named in perpetuity for Tonya.

$50k is a great deal of money to raise in a short period of time. “Up the hill with profound determination” is our guiding motto. Tonya has never given up. Not when she was told Colgate’s hills might be too difficult for her as someone diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. Not when she was told to retire because of her health, but continued to work. Not when she was told there were no more treatment options, and has lived long beyond any medical experts’ hopes. We will not give up. We will walk up that steep hill. Please join us on this climb as we raise $50k to honor our determined and brave classmate.

Return to Top

Goal accomplished!

I did what I set out to do. And the resulting cheer is that of one hand clapping.
Here are all thirteen books:

In the Shadow of the Moon

Mad Richard

Vulgar Tongues

Composting Basics

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Gardens of the High Line

By Any Name

Homegoing

The Witchfinder’s Sister

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

Vanishing New York

Before We Were Yours

Wild Things

From now on I will stick to blogging about bike rides, archives, historic structures, and other topics that lend themselves to blogging with pretty pictures.

Halfway Through

I am now a little over halfway through (or exactly halfway through, if you count the intro post) my summer project, thirteen book reviews. It isn’t all I wanted it to be, but it is keeping my nose (and ears, I’m currently working on an audio book) in a book.

On the off chance they are more impressive when posted all in one place, here are the seven reviews I have done so far:

In the Shadow of the Moon : The Science, Magic, and Mystery of Solar Eclipses
Vulgar Tongues : An Alternative History of English Slang

 

I have three more in progress, and the final three are yet to be selected. Stay tuned!

Summer fun

Lately I have felt like writing, but haven’t had a topic I felt like sharing with the entire internet. So I came up with a project for the summer, thirteen book reviews. It’s going to be on a separate page because, well, I feel like doing it that way.

Over the past few months I have taken on new responsibilities at work, including purchasing all the non-fiction for Downtown. I am also paying far more attention to the new fiction entering the building (in part because the new books cart rests against my cubicle wall). Together, these factors have me reading more than I have for some time.

So, follow along if you like! I am also open to suggestions (it’s fine to leave comments here or on the other site). Whether your goal is to read, to bike, or to do anything else, I hope you enjoy the warmth and daylight this season!

An Appreciation

“You?!”

“Yes, me.”

I have had this conversation more than once over the past year. I am slender, eat a healthy diet, and (as most people reading this know) don’t shy away from exercise. So my diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes has been a shock to many people, especially those who are more familiar with Type 2 and expect a diabetic to resemble Jabba the Hutt more than Princess Leia.

In many ways, I am lucky. There are far worse diseases to face; this is not a “you only have six months to live” situation. Some people are diagnosed after becoming very ill. My diabetes was initially discovered when I had a routine blood test for a physical. My pancreas still produces some insulin, so I only need to inject it when I have high carb meals. The biggest unknown for me, right now, is if/when my pancreas will give up completely.

Given all of this, it seems apt tonight to give a shout out to Mary Tyler Moore. I’m not going to pretend I’ve ever watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or actually find myself verklempt over her death. But the one thing I really knew about her – even before I started pricking my fingers multiple times a day – was that she, too, had T1D. Tonight I learned that we were both diagnosed while in our 30s. She managed to live close to another 50 years, and during that time was very active with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It’s definitely an organization I need to consider adding to my charitable donations list.

While it is great to know that reaching age 80 is still a strong possibility, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that following diabetes care is draining. In addition to the blood sugar level checks, there are a host of complications I have to watch out for. I schedule more doctors appointments in a year now than I had in the previous five years combined. Certainly I will remain grateful to Mary Tyler Moore for her work with the JDRF for many years to come. I’m sure it’s easier to live with T1D now than it was 50 years ago.

So to everyone who is working to find a cure for this disease, thank you. To everyone else living with it, fist bump.

A Good Year

For many people, 2016 was, to quote from social media, “a dumpster fire.” Between what feels like an incredibly large number of celebrity deaths, and the events of November 8, it certainly had its moments. For me, though, it has been one of the best years in quite a while.

The atmosphere at work changed from the very first day of the year. We started a new chapter (excuse the pun), which led to my getting a promotion. The job I have now is not anything I ever imagined I would do. However, I enjoy it. I’m good at it. And most importantly, my work is respected.

I dated. For many of you, this is no big deal. It was huge for me. Maybe I’m too particular (this did not involve any commercial web sites), maybe it’s social anxiety, maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that. Whatever. For a few hours this summer, I was able to put that all aside and hang out with a guy.

My best friend from high school and I started our birthday celebrations a couple months early this year. We spent a weekend in New York, having splurged on tickets to Hamilton. The show was (as you’ve probably heard once or twice) amazing. Getting to spend hours walking around the city, on beautiful, sunny days, talking about everything and anything, was equally wonderful.

Later in the summer I was asked to be the Vice Chair of the Hartford Jewish Film Fest (March 16-26, 2017…see you there!). I’ve been on the committee for a few years now, but this is my first leadership role with the Hartford Jewish community. The film fest falls into the category of ‘lots of fun and lots of hard work,’ and I’m looking forward to being more involved than I have been.

img_4893The next step in my birthday celebration was a week in Wisconsin with my family. We
stayed at a lake where my grandparents used to have a house. I was able to visit with friends I hadn’t seen in a few years, introduce my niece and nephew to some very dangerous (but incredibly beloved) playground equipment, and spend copious amounts of time outdoors. Swimming in the lake is one of my favorite activities, and I don’t get to do it nearly as often as I used to. Even the morning it was 48°, I was in for a dip before breakfast!

img_5152When my actual birthday arrived, I celebrated with a bike ride from West Hartford to Old Saybrook. It was another warm, sunny day, and perfect for the 54 mile trip. By mid-September, the water in Long Island Sound has reached a perfect temperature. It was incredibly refreshing after spending four hours on the bike. My mother met me at the beach, we had lunch, did some shopping, and then she drove me home. Later that day a friend and I went to Mozzicato’s, where I had just the right amount of cake.

Though I have branded myself as Cycling Archivist, over the past few years I have done increasingly more of the former and less of the latter. This fall I had the opportunity to process a collection for the Watkinson Library at Trinity College. It’s a small collection (less than three linear feet), but I welcomed the opportunity to get back in the game. Working full time at one job, and trying to fit in another four or five hours a week at a second job, is tough. There are some interesting pieces, though, and I’m glad I got to work with them (I wrote five blog entries between October 28 and December 14 about the collection. Search for ‘Wells’).

Cycling. It has continued to be a huge part of my life. On the last day of July I realized I was a mere 35 miles away from hitting 500 for the month on my road bike (I don’t keep track of distance on my hybrid). I couldn’t let that milestone slip by. My pace for the ride ended up being my fastest ever. Most Saturdays I have a friend to ride with, which is wonderful. One Sunday I went out with some racers. It was fast, and I couldn’t really keep up, but I gave myself points for going on a group ride (I’m a slow rider and generally avoid group rides because of the frustration they bring). My biggest cycling accomplishment of the year, though, is my new personal best record for biking to work. As of this writing, I haven’t missed a day commuting since February 23. That includes the day in April when it snowed, which I admit was a

img_5768
Commuting in December’s single degree temps.

mistake. Excluding weekends, holidays, and vacations, I have ridden to work 191 days in a row. For the year, I have 218 commutes. Yes, there have been days I’ve switched vehicles at lunch. But I still got in the bike ride. Who knows what Mother Nature has in store, but I am trying to get as close to February 23, 2017 as I can!

One of the best holiday gifts I got was the weather in Atlanta during my recent trip there. I was able to ride my sister’s bike each day, including Christmas Day, when it was 75°!

Don’t worry, the year wasn’t perfect. Amid all these high points, were certainly were some low ones. But the first time in a while, the highs were more numerous. A lot of this was luck, and things I won’t necessarily be able to replicate next year. Friends have had marriages end in 2016, and have lost family members and close friends. Certainly for them, this was not the best year. I hope everyone else, though, can look beyond the top headlines, and see that there were many good things that happened in 2016.

Film Fest Time!

It’s that time of year again. Tonight is opening night for the Mandell JCC’s Hartford Jewish Film Fest! As usual, I’d love to see some familiar faces in the crowd. You don’t need to be Jewish to attend! There’s a little something for everyone, and they are all worth viewing. Learn more about each of these films (and others – I left a few out), along with location information, on the film fest site (for the budget-conscious, I have not included opening and closing night in this list, but they’re worth seeing, too).

If you like…
…soccer and/or gay politics: Kicking Out Shoshana (Sat. 4/2 at 9PM and Wed. 4/6 at 7PM)
…mother-daughter relationships (good or bad): Look at Us Now, Mother! (Sun. 4/3 at 1PM)
…stories about pot brownies (no samples available): Dough (Sun. 4/3 at 7:30PM and Sun. 4/10 at 4:30PM)
…food: In Search of Israeli Cuisine (Mon. 4/4 at 7PM)
…#millennialproblems, improv, the Mark Twain House, or any post-film conversation moderated by Hartford’s own Julia Pistell: Are You Joking? (Mon. 4/4 at 7PM)
…art, artists, how art/lives are changed by illness, or learning about ALS: Imber’s Left Hand (Tue. 4/5 at 7PM)
…political incorrectness: Serial (Bad) Weddings (Wed. 4/6 at 7PM and Sun. 4/10 at 2:15PM)
…motivating and challenging inner city students and/or teaching about the Holocaust: Once in Lifetime (Thu. 4/7 at 8:15PM)
…perseverance through music: Rock in the Red Zone (Sat. 4/9 at 9PM)
…use of archival footage and/or stories of peacemakers: Rabin in His Own Words (Sun. 4/10 at 11AM)

While I mentioned above that I was not including it, I have to say that I am incredibly excited to see the preview of Trinity College History Professor Sam Kassow‘s Who Will Write Our History following The Last Mentsch on closing night. I recently read the book and was amazed by the work of Emanuel Ringelblum and the Oyneg Shabes Archive.

See you at the movies!

Buses, beauty, and bikes

IMG_2547

How do you get a Nutmegger to try something they’ve pretty much been against throughout its construction? Use the word “free.” That is how CTFastrak got me, and plenty of others, aboard their buses this weekend. I wasn’t excited enough about it go walk around in the snow on Saturday, but the bright sunshine lured me out today.

While Google Maps seems to think the Parrkville [sic] Station (or as I shall now refer to it, the Talk Like a Pirate Station) is closest to me, I chose to walk to the Kane Street Station. It isn’t a pretty walk, at least not one I would choose to do with any regularity. The most attractive portion is the convent, though the nuns don’t seem to forgive those who trespass.

The station is still clean and new, with plenty of amenities.

Once on board, it was, well, like riding a bus. I appreciate that the names of the stops are announced. When it snows, I take the bus downtown instead of biking, and I wish that feature were on the regular city buses. I had already read that the Fastrak wifi wasn’t working, but decided to try it anyway.

IMG_2556
Nope, not working.

I didn’t time the ride, but there were no issues, and I was soon in downtown New Britain. This was my first time walking in the city, though not my first time in town. Like many cities, New Britain has attractive architecture,

a public library, and buildings that have changed use (I walked past a synagogue now housing a church). Yesterday my friends were Instagraming photos from Polish restaurants. My destination, though, was the New Britain Museum of American Art. Last summer, when I rode in the Mandell JCC’s Poker Bike Ride, I received a free Guest Pass to the museum (notice a theme here?).

The NBMAA is pretty much the only reason I ever go to New Britain, and I don’t even go that often. Because I work two doors down from the Wadsworth Atheneum, I’m far more likely to go there for a cultural fix.  It’s great having access to both, though. As soon as I saw Custer’s Gun by Otis Kaye, I thought it looked a lot like The Faithful Colt, which I often see at the Wadsworth. Yup, there’s a reason for that!

My favorite piece of the day was this one, which I neglected to find the label for.

The best surprise, though, was the view of bicycle racing!

View of the race from the museum
View of the race from the museum

The 2015 Ronde de Walnut Hill was taking place, and a friend of mine was even riding. Hardly the Tour de France, but much less jet lag. After saying hello to my friend, I made my way back to the station.

The bus was overcrowded, and more than once the driver had trouble getting the rear door to close. But I made it back. I don’t foresee becoming a busway regular. For trips to downtown Hartford, it’s out of the way. And as I said, New Britain isn’t a big draw for me. When it warms up a bit, I would like to try the multiuse path that runs from Newington to New Britain. That’s more my speed.

Chilling

I prefer to spend at least a portion of my lunch hour outside of the library. There are two general rules I follow: 1) Unplug 2) Vary the route. This week I chose to break both of those.

I walked the same path along the river three days in a row. On Wednesday I had unplugged, but you can get an idea of what it was like by watching my friend Brendan’s short video. I believe he recorded that on Tuesday, so there were more sheets of ice floating by, and more frequently, when I was there. The ice sheets were jockeying for position as they made the trek. Some were trying to sink others, some were content to glide along without making a fuss. If you haven’t watched (and listened!) to something like that, I recommend it. It’s fairly mesmerizing.

Overnight it got pretty cold. All of the really cold days are blending together, but I think Thursday was the day we woke up to temperatures in the single digits. The river had slowed down, too.

IMG_2205

IMG_2211

IMG_2215

IMG_2212It warmed up on Friday, but not before we got a few inches of powdery snow.

IMG_2227

IMG_2230

IMG_2238

IMG_2235

It surprises me how much of a difference a day can make to a river.

January Snow

It’s January and the snowflakes are finally on top of their game, per Lucy.

I believe this is the third time it has snowed this season, but as it will be in the upper 50s tomorrow, I have no intention of shoveling. That seems to be the pattern this season. As it saves me from neck and shoulder pain, I’m fine with it continuing.

I love the look of my twinkle lights surrounded by snow, and set out to see what I could capture with my point-and-shoot. I didn’t really get exactly what I wanted, but I always enjoy playing with the various settings.

 

Snow and Light
Snow and Light

 

IMG_0955

 

I wish I’d gone out in the daylight to take a picture of the holly.

IMG_0959

But this one is fun:

IMG_0966

Stay warm!