Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bee You

Mile Marker 5479:

"That's not a SKIN leg!"

From across a cobblestone alley, I hear the most creative (and cutest) take on my prosthetic leg.

It comes from a 4-year-old girl with a shiny bob haircut.  She's pointing.  At me.

It may be September, but it's still shorts season.

My friend Jasmine and I have just stepped out of Fezziwig's Sweet Shoppe.  I'm holding a drippy, green cup of mint chip ice cream.  Jasmine, next to me, holds salted caramel.

I walk cautiously over the cobbles, even more so now that the girl's whole family is watching.  The little girl follows us with her gaze.  Jaw dropped.  Eyes locked on my Genium.

"Do you want to see it?" I ask as we get closer.

Suddenly she looks down at her sandals.  Embarrassed.  Or maybe just shy.

"It's ok," I say.  "You're right.  It isn't a skin leg.  It's a robot leg.  It's called a prosthesis."  She nods.  I ask her if she likes my painted toe nails, and her eyes shift to the purple polish.

We chat with her family for a few seconds more.  Then Jasmine and I continue on our way.

Not all legs are skin legs.

Although my back is to her, I'm pretty sure that little girl is still watching.  And digesting all she's learned.

Mile Marker 5480:

The next mile is at Philly Honeyfest where friends Davey and Carol are demonstrating how to extract honey.

Davey and Carol are old friends of mine.  They're also local beekeepers.  Really local.  They live in South Philly, my old stomping grounds, just blocks from the Italian Market.  My house had a garden, but theirs has a roof deck -- where they've installed 4 beehives. 

My friend Jen and I watch as they insert a hive frame into a huge urn called an extractor.   Davey turns the crank, and a syrupy stream of gold oozes from the spout.

Carol hands out popsicle sticks.  We use them to catch the honey.

It's as sweet -- and as raw -- as it gets!  Fresh from the hive, there are chunks of honeycomb floating in it, along with a few scattered bee legs.  I get the feeling there are a few "ampu-bees" back at the hive :)

Davey scoops up a pea-sized wad of the mixture and places it on the edge of my finger.  Part honeycomb, part honey, and thankfully, no part bee.  "It has a consistency like chewing gum," he says.

Just then, a wide-eyed little boy looks up at me with a huge toothless smile.   I'm expecting a comment about my robot leg, but that's not what impresses him.  It's that I know the beekeepers!

I offer him the honey in my hand.  "Wanna try?"

Without missing a beat, he sticks out his tongue and laps it right off the end of my finger.  Yep, we're "bee-ing" friendly.

In case you're wondering what roof bees make, well, here's the final product.  100% Pure.  100% Raw.

100% Made on a roof!

Mile Marker 5515:

A few miles later, Mom and I grab breakfast with two of our good friends, Zita and Mattie.

For my birthday, Zita brings me a copy of Pantsuit Nation, a book filled with essays and photos from the Facebook group of the same name.  (Maybe you've heard of it?)  While the Facebook page originated to support Hillary Clinton, the need to celebrate our differences is even stronger now.

Pantsuit Nation is beautiful book.  I highly recommend it.

Especially pages 190-191.  Go Zita!

Being ourselves is about more than explaining prosthetics to kids or raising bees on a city roof.  It's about being who we are, however it might look and wherever it might take us.

I'm not afraid to show my prosthetic leg, or talk about it, or answer the many questions that come my way.  But I'm self-conscious too.  I haven't walked well in months.  When people look at me, I hope they see more than my gait.  I hope they see that I'm living my life.  A good life.  Challenging and complex, yet rich and rewarding.

Kind of like harvesting Roof Honey.

So BEE YOU.  There's strength in diversity.

And you never know the sweetness it might bring.

Thanks Jen & Zita for the photos.  For more beekeeping adventures, check out Davey and Carol's blog here!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Mountain Time

Mile Marker 5400:

Halfway between Woodstock and Thornton is a place that runs on mountain time.

When the sun rises, I'm awakened by real birds, not the artificial "birdsong" of my iPhone alarm.  And instead of walking to get coffee, I drive 9 miles.

It's worth it!

In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I'm sharing a house with my parents, my sister Sam, her husband Gregg, and nieces and nephew Riley, Brennan, and Dylan.  In case you lost count, that makes 8 of us.  So while it's quiet and serene outside the house, there's a constant hum inside.  The TV surfs between Sprout and CNN.  The washer and dryer tumble with endless loads of towels.

And Dilly wakes up long before the birds!

She's cute, so we let her slide!

I'm used to living on my own and doing what I want, but on this trip the kids set the pace.  We're on mountain time.

We befriend bears.

Climb rock walls.

Bungee jump.  (Safely!)

Get lost in life-size mazes.

And ride a gondola high above the world!

At Lost River Gorge, we hike a one-mile boardwalk.  It has a thousand stairs, cascading waterfalls, and a suspension bridge that makes Mom nervous.

The trail is lined with boulder caves carved by glaciers long ago.  Determined to follow the kids, I cover my Genium with plastic.  While my parents hang onto Dylan, the rest of us squeeze between stone walls, belly through passageways, and snake over puddles.

More than once,
I get stuck between
a rock and a hard place!

Each cave comes with unique challenges.  How will I tunnel under that low-hanging rock?  Hoist over that boulder?  Slip through that tight spot without releasing my socket? 

And of course, where's the best place for a selfie?

By the time I emerge there's an audience.  When I crawl bear-style up a wooden ladder, I accidentally knock my hip against the edge of a boulder.  Luckily we have a 7-year-old commentator to capture the moment.  Turn up the volume.  Here's a replay...

In the mountains, there's time for everything.  I even catch up with my old friend Bob, whom I haven't seen since long before the accident.  He and his family live about 50 miles from here, which by mountain standards is pretty much next door!

Exactly 2 years ago, I wrote a post called Small Happiness.  More than 2000 miles have passed since then, and that happiness has grown exponentially.

Riley, who took her first steps when I did, back at Mile 15, is now entering 2nd grade.

Brennan (born at Mile 436) is our newest kindergartner.

And prosthetist in training!

As for Baby Dyl?

On our last night in the house, she disappears.  While Dad's outside at the grill, and we're hustling to get dinner on the table, Dylan is suddenly no where to be found!  We can hear her little voice, those soft baby babbles, but we don't see her anywhere.  That's when she peeks her nose over the second floor landing.  Mom and Sam race up the winding stairway to find Dylan sitting at the top with a proud smile, pleased as punch with her newest accomplishment.  Her first time climbing stairs alone!

It's summer here, but autumn is on the way.  Already the night air smells like Halloween.

Time flies.  Seasons pass.
Things change.  It's good to take a break and enjoy them for a while.

That's the beauty of mountain time.