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Friday, September 26, 2014

Save the Newburgh DMV!

AN OPEN LETTER TO ANNIE RABBITT FROM MRS. LO:  PLEASE DON’T CLOSE THE NEWBURGH DMV!  For those of you not up to speed, there are currently 3 DMV offices in Orange County:  Port Jervis, Middletown, and Newburgh.  The Goshen DMV closed in 2010.  The DMV Commissioner, Annie Rabbitt has recommended that:  “(w)e should merge the three Departments of Motor Vehicle offices into one location, preferably the Middletown location while discussion of the Government Center continues.”  In other words, create a Mega-DMV for Orange County.

            I have an idea:  why not build the mega-DMV in Newburgh and make that the Central Office?  And just leave the other offices open for now.  The disruption to the City of Newburgh would be a kick in the teeth.  Why should Goshen get the mega DMV, why not Newburgh?  Given the choice, I for one will not be going to Middletown, I will be going to the Beacon DMV, as will many people in this part of the County, and taking our money right out of Orange County and into Dutchess County.
            The problem is that so many people in Newburgh will be disenfranchised by the closing of the DMV here.  Here is how the number of transaction stack up, according to the DMV’s most recent report:
Year
Goshen
Newburgh
Middletown
Port Jervis
2010
414 / day
304 / day
295 / day
100 / day
2011
394 / day *
361 / day
364 / day
101 / day
2012

390 / day
508 / day
120 / day
2013

354 / day
484 / day
117 / day
2014

356/day
506/day
154/day

So, when all four offices were open back in 2010, Goshen did the most transactions (414), followed by Newburgh (304), followed by Middletown (295), then Port Jervis (100).  With the closing of Goshen, transactions in Middletown AND Newburgh increased, as well as Port Jervis. 
            Why is Newburgh being targeted?  Here is what is proposed for the new Middletown Super-Office, which is absolutely something that can be built right here in Newburgh:
“Middletown has ten window stations and with the merge we can keep every window open and operating all day without disruption of service. We presently do not have that capability.  The DMV would do early morning, evening and Saturday hours with staggered work shifts … We could add four windows just for licenses and renewals, two enforcement windows and two dealership windows. An information window and the two permit windows can remain open all day.”
Wow, sounds this new proposed Mega-DMV that is 50 miles away round-trip will be a great way to spend the day (NOT). 
            The people on this end of the county are going to fall into two categories:  those who are not able to afford a 50-mile round trip car ride to Middletown and cannot give up half a day of work, and who will be completely disenfranchised.  And those of us who can afford it but will choose to go to Beacon instead, or do everything possible online.
            Either way, it’s a lose/ lose for Newburgh and this part of the county.  The Newburgh office is always busy, and we do not need to run the DMV like it’s a for-profit business.
            The DMV in Newburgh is vital to our economy and our way of life.  Sure, it a pain to wait on line there but that’s because the office is so busy, why close it?  Where will the employees go?  Are they going to be fired or do they have to go to the Mega-DMV proposed for Middletown? 
            Newburgh is hungry for new businesses and I’m sure the County could get its pick of office buildings.  Or, they could possible expand the current Newburgh DMV, there is a vacant lot next door.  We already have a very active County Office on Ann Street/ Broadway (the old Armory building) with Orange County probation, District Attorney and other offices in there.  We have a robust City Hall building across from the DMV and an active City Courthouse.  We once had a County Court building here.  Why not have the Orange County DMV Mega-Office as well?  I think it’s a great idea, who’s with me? 
            I signed a change.org petition put forth by Assemblyman Skartados, asking that the Commissioner reconsider and NOT close the Newburgh DMV.  I will go one step further, and ask that, instead of building a new Mega-DMV in Goshen, build it in Newburgh!             
            Here is the Petition, please consider signing it, thanks everyone, and have a GREAT day!  <3 Mrs. Lo https://www.change.org/p/orange-county-clerk-annie-rabbit-don-t-close-the-newburgh-dmv?recruiter=76830306&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_facebook_responsive (photo from the Team Mom Mobile, driving up Broadway in Newburgh)

            

Friday, September 19, 2014

DO YOU THINK WE CAN OUTROW THE MOTORBOAT?”

People ask me all the time: “How do you find the time to workout?”  And what I tell them is: somebody busier than me is working out right now.  We are all busy.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise, at least 5 times a week, for adults.  I’m at an age where I have to worry about things like heart disease, stroke, cholesterol, all the ((CENSORED)) we didn’t worry about in our party days, I mean, our twenties.  Basically, the older and busier we get, the more we need to make time for our workouts.

            The #1 key to working out is to not workout.  By that I mean, take up an actual sport or physical activity that you love and have fun with, and it will never feel like working out.  Also, if you choose a sport your kids are already doing, you don’t need to worry about childcare/ dropping off or picking up.
            That was how I started rowing.  Basically, four years ago, I was sitting down at the Boathouse watching my kid coxy a boat of varsity rowers.  Big Coach walked over and said:  “You don’t like like a person who wastes time.  But you are just wasting time watching them row when you could be out there rowing yourself.”  He got me with that one. 
There was an adult rowing club but, at the time, they were way ahead of me, so Big Coach said he would teach me the fundamentals of rowing.  He decided he was going to do such a thorough job of teaching me the mechanics of rowing that he spent weeks teaching me that that pin in the oarlock always points forward.  Really.  Two weeks quizzing me on which way the dang oarlock points. Then he got busy with other stuff and that was the end of my private tutelage.  It was fine, I joined the adults and at this point I’m way ahead of where they were back then.  But there is a method to Big Coach’s teaching.  Today, I forget lots of basic things (although my Rowing BFF has a great knowledge of the fundamentals).  But I have never, ever forgotten which way to point the oarlock.
            Over the years, my rowing has been interrupted by all kinds of things, one rowing crisis or child-centered activity another.  But today, I will not sacrifice my rowing practice for anyone or anything.  Committee meeting?  Take notes.  Board meeting?  Take me off the Board.  Open house?  Who cares.  I will not sacrifice my precious time in the therapeutic double with my rowing BFF, nor does my family want me to.
            Kathe and I love to row.  It’s not easy for either of us to get there by 5 pm, or 5 am, in spandex, but we do it (spandex is necessary so you don’t get your shorts or sweats caught in the sliding seat).   For the first few years, when I was  rowing on and off, it was difficult.  Unless you commit to rowing regularly, you don’t really get the hang of it.  You catch a lot of crabs.  You get frustrated.  But if you row on a regular basis, one day, it finally clicks.  Then, you don’t worry about catching crabs (getting your oar stuck), you concentrate on form (do we exaggerate the Leanback every 5 strokes like Big Coach says, or keep it at a constant 45 degrees, like the Olympic Youtube video says?  What Coach says).
            Rowing up to the Beacon-Newburgh Bridge (4,000 meters roundtrip) used to be a monumental task that required a full on massage afterward.  Now, we go to Plum Point or Cornwall Landing (8,000 and 9,000 meters) reguarly, and only turn around because we run out of time.  If we had unlimited practice time, we would keep going until we ran out of steam.  Sometimes, we chat and chat therapeutically.  Other times, one or both of us has had a hard day and we decide to “shut up and dig in” and row hard for stress relief.
            The most disappointing part of the practice is when we can see the coaches in the motorboat are coming to catch up with us, to tell us to turn around because practice is almost over.
            The other night, we were in the middle of the majestic Hudson River, digging in, the pinks and tangerines of the sunset just starting to make their way into the perfect blue sky, the mountains rising up beyond the River.  We were all business, rowing hard, but enjoying the incredible natural beauty around us.  We were lost in our own world.  Then we heard the motorboat gunning and coming toward us.
            “Do you think we can outrow the motorboat?” I asked Kathe. 
            “Only if they run out of fuel,” she answered, laughing.  “Let’s not make him come all the way up here, let’s just spin it.”  And we turned and headed for home, drinking in the sunset and turning down the burners.  Only to spend another 20 minutes carrying our boat and other boats into the Boathouse, which is plenty good exercise in and of itself.  We felt, as we always do after a good, row, fabulous.
            This Summer, I’m going to be 50 years old.  I had a physical recently.  My body fat percentage and BMI are in the same category as a college athlete.  My blood pressure is low, my cholesterol is down 60 points from last year, I am 10 pounds lighter than I was last year, and my bone density and vitamin D levels are great.  “Keep doing what you’re doing,” said my physician and dear friend of many years.  Which I took to mean, Doctor’s orders:  Keep Rowing.  And doing Zumba.
            So, my dear Readers, I say:  find a physical activity you love, and make the time for it.  Whether it’s running, swimming, hiking, kayaking, or Zumba.  Yes, it takes time.  But so does heart surgery.
            And if you want to try a great day of Family Kayaking, come on down for the Newburgh Rowing Club’s biggest Family Day of the Year:  the Great 5-Mile Paddle and Oars Challenge, Sunday 9/21 at 8 am at the Boathouse.  It’s a challenge, not a race, you don’t have to kayak the full 5-miles.  My rowing BFF and I will be rowing in it, so tell them Mrs. Lo sent you -- and I will look for you on the water!  Have a great day, everyone and, as always, Remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo www.LoBiondopage.Blogspot.com (photo of Mrs. Lo and Mrs. Mills in the therapeutic double)

            

Friday, September 12, 2014

What is a Weekend, Anyway?

“I wish I had one more day before the weekend started,” a fellow crew mom said to me.  I knew exactly what she meant.  This weekend, we will be making our Return to Coastweeks in Mystic, CT, one of the our favorite regattas of the year.  But not without a few stops along the way.

            Christian rowed or coxy’d boats in Mystic in 2013, 2012, and 2011.  Our first time going up, there were about a dozen athletes.  Last year, there were 45 athletes, this year I believe we have 52, including the Adult Rowers (you guessed it, that would be me and my Rowing BFF, Kathe).  That’s a really big contingency.  This is the first year I’m going to Mystic and Christian is not in a boat.  He’s on the Freshman Football team for Don Bosco Prep.
            Therefore, the weekend looks like this.  Friday at 4 pm, Kathe and I went to our own Rowing practice.  Then, we generally milled around waiting for our kids to get done loading the trailer with the crew shells we are taking up, meaning we left the Boathouse at 8 pm.   My rowing kids slept over because we have an early start Saturday morning.
            Christian has to be at Don Bosco in NJ at 6:30 am Saturday, and we will leave Newburgh with our rowing kids at 7:30 am to watch his football game in Darien, CT, where we will cheer wildly and I will take photographs (GO IRONMEN!).  Then I will pack the rowers into the Team Mom Mobile and head up to Mystic, CT.  We will meet up with Big Coach and the Newburgh Rowing Club trailer and help unload and rig the boats.  Then dinner and at least one of us (Yep, that would be me) is going to bed super early.  There is a coaches, coxswain and scullers meeting at 7:30 am at the Regatta course Sunday morning.
            First, Kathe and I will race, then my rowing kids.  In the meantime, much bonding will have occurred on the football field, and in and amongst the boats.  We have Student Ambassadors, rowing for us on scholarship, who have never left Newburgh before.  These girls are so excited to be going to Mystic, there are really no words.  I am so happy to know I was a part of making that happen. We will all cheer wildly for each other and then, eventually, after the last boat is loaded, it will be quiet. 
            By the time I get home and start writing my press release for the Regatta, I will be slathering on the Icy Hot, snuggling into my electric blanket and it will be Sunday night.  And there goes the “Weekend”.
            But that’s how it is for so many of us, who are lucky enough to have active families.   A friend of mine who’s an empty nester said to me recently:  “That’s how it is, it’s very loud and very boisterous all the time, and then all of a sudden, it gets very, very  quiet.”  I cannot even imagine that concept right now. 
            Once upon a time, my husband and I enjoyed long, languorous weekends.  We slept late (you know, past 6 am), we enjoyed elaborate brunches involving brioche and espresso, and nights out with friends listening to Jazz, going to the theatre and symphony, dressing up in designer clothes, and enjoying gourmet meals.  And those days will return again someday, God willing, although we will be substantially grayer. 
            Until then, we will continue to enjoy the blessing that is our Loud, Busy, Active, Crazy “Weekend.” Frankly, I wouldn’t want to have it any other way!
Have a great day, everyone, and as always, Remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo www.LoBiondoPage.Blogspot.com (photo of Michael and Kierstin at Coastweeks 2013)


Friday, September 5, 2014

You Deserve to be Happy

“YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY, MOM” – today, I will be doing something very different.  My rowing BFF and I will be rowing in a Regatta in Springfield, Mass.  While that is a first, in and of itself, what makes it different is that I will be missing my older son’s football scrimmage for Don Bosco Prep, where he is on the Freshman Football Team.

            I have never missed an athletic or artistic event for either of my children, unless it was to attend the other’s child’s event.  Christian started playing rec soccer when he was 6.  Michael started rowing when he was 8.   I have made it to everything:  soccer, crew, basketball, football, Irish step dancing recitals, band recitals, piano recitals, Drama Club productions, you name it.  And Hubby has made it to most of them as well.
            Originally, Christian had Saturday, September 6th free.  The originally scheduled game had been canceled.  Then, Big Coach told me and my Rowing BFF he wanted to take us up to a “fun and friendly stakes race” in Springfield, Mass to meet the Programs Director and race in our therapeutic double (that’s what we have nicknamed “our” crew shell).  This was his treat, to pay us back for all the countless hours of volunteer work we had put in.  We decided to take our kids with us, to help out rigging and carrying the crew shells.  Two of my BFF’s kids and one of her rowing kids are all experienced rowers.  You don’t just throw a boat on the back of a trailer and go.  Someone has to get out the tools and derig the boats, get them on the trailer, and strap them down; then when you get to the regatta, you need to lift the boats off, get out the tools, rig the boats and get them to the water.  When it’s all over, guess how you get the boats back on the trailer?  That’s right, you have to de-rig.  Then there’s the oars and keeping track of the gear. It’s nice to have young people to help out what that kind of thing.
            Originally, Christian, the one who started the whole LoBiondo Rowing Craze, was going to use his bye week to come up and help me with my boat.  Then, we got the email that a Scrimmage had been scheduled for this Saturday against Montclair High School.
            ((CENSORED))!, I said to myself.  “Wow, I was really looking forward to that Regatta,” I told Christian.  “Let me call Big Coach and tell him I have to cancel.”
            “You’re not canceling, Mom,” said my older son.  “I won’t let you cancel because of me.  I know you’re really working hard for this and you really want it.  And isn’t that what you’re always telling us?  To set goals then work towards them?”
            Jeez, I thought to myself, I didn’t think they were actually listening to me, I guess they were.
            “It’s all right, son,” I said, “Just the fact that you want me to go to Springfield is enough.”
            “No,” he said.  “It’s not enough.  You do everything for us, and for a lot of other kids.”  See, the thing is, I knew that he understood something most people don’t.
            The Joy of Rowing is ageless.  In those moments where your boat is in unison, moments where you are on the water early enough to watch the sun rise, moments where every muscle in your body is firing to both set and power the boat – in those moments nothing else matters.   When you are on the water, burying your blades, blasting off and pulling your blades through the water – in that perfect stroke, those perfect moments --  there is a feeling of Power, a feeling of Peace, and a feeling of Freedom, all at the same time.  No matter how old you are, all rowers are out there trying to catch that “perfect stroke feeling” again and again.
            I looked at my son and, although he wasn’t articulating it, I knew from the look in his eyes that he understood all this.  He understood it as a competitive athlete; and as a rower himself. 
            “I don’t want you to live through me,” he said simply.  “You deserve to be happy.”
            Think about it, moms and dads.  Our kids want us to be happy.  Isn’t that a kick in the can!  Let’s face it, happy parents are well adjusted parents.  Happy parents are more likely to say:  don’t sweat the small stuff.
            And so I am taking one of my rowing kids, Kelvin, to Springfield with us, to help rig, carry the boat, and just generally provide moral support.  And Anthony, my hubby, will be cheering wildly and taking photos at Christian’s football scrimmage.  And by Saturday night, we will all be sitting around the dinner table, carbing up, sharing our stories from the day, and weaving together the tapestry that is our Family.

            Have a great day, everyone and, as always, remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo ~~ GO IRONMEN!   www.LoBiondoPage.Blogspot.com  (Photo of Mrs. Lo and Mrs. Mills in the Therapeutic Double at sunrise, photo by Coach Jackilyn Naparano)