Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Purple Heart for a Heart of Gold

The Olympics have stirred quite a bit of patriotism in me. I can't help but get a little choked up when I see the the smiles and high fives among teammates after a successful race, or routine, or play.  What gets me even more emotional, is seeing the hugs and congratulations between competitors.  It makes you realize that every nation can put aside their differences and appreciate that they are all working toward the same goal.  

Today, my Mom sent me this article.  I am attaching it below as well.  While our Olympic teams are receiving medals, my 24 year old cousin, Joe (Ja-Joe) Gerarde just received an even more honorable medal: a Purple Heart!  

I am so proud of you Joe, wherever you may be tonight.  We love you and are so thankfully for the sacrifices you are making for your platoon and your country.  Thank you to all the men and women serving our country. Get home safely!

A Purple Heart medal is pinned on Joseph Gerarde, right, of Queensbury. Gerarde, a soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, was injured on Memorial Day in Afghanistan during a mortar strike.

QUEENSBURY ♦ Connie Gerarde-Niles got the news two days after her son Joseph was wounded on Memorial Day in Afghanistan.

“I was notified two days later, but as a mom, I knew on Memorial Day. I had a feeling,” Gerarde-Niles said. “Joseph called me himself, and we chatted for a minute or two, and then he said, ‘Mom, I do need to tell you something, but you can’t freak out. I do have all my limbs, and my head is attached,’ and then the phone went dead.”

It was a frantic few minutes, as Gerarde-Niles called for her other son, Michael Gerarde, to get her husband, Michael Niles. The three sat together and waited for Joseph to call back.

His platoon had just completed a successful mission and was about to leave the mission area when one of the officers asked for a volunteer to stay behind with other soldiers.

Gerarde volunteered. His platoon left, and the sergeant from another platoon told him to put his gear where other soldiers had put theirs.

“That’s when the mortar hit, 15 feet from him,” Gerarde-Niles said. “I guess it threw him and covered him in dirt. They got him out shortly after — everyone said he was lucky to be alive and not bleeding to death.”

Joseph Gerarde, 24, is serving as an infantryman with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He received a Purple Heart after the Memorial Day incident, Gerarde-Niles said.

He didn’t suffer shrapnel wounds, which are common with mortar strikes, but he had a concussion and suffered hearing loss, Niles said.

The family heard from Gerarde about once a week when he was able to call from the hospital in Afghanistan. His hearing loss seemed to improve during that time, and he was released from the hospital last week, Gerarde-Niles said.

“It was a bad concussion from what I’m assuming; he was not able to sleep nights and had terrible headaches,” said Gerarde-Niles, who got emotional speaking about her son’s injuries. “But he was just anxious to get back to his platoon.”

Gerarde-Niles is the president of Keena Staffing in Queensbury. Joseph told her last year he planned to join the military, and he’s been deployed overseas since March.

He attended high school in Queensbury through 10th grade before attending boarding schools, Gerarde-Niles said.

After Joseph was released from the hospital last week, he went back on active duty. Both Gerarde-Niles and Niles said they have been fighting an “imaginary war” of their own internally, as they worry about his safety.

“When Joseph is on a mission, it weighs on your mind,” Niles said. “But we’ve been blessed with a network that’s very supportive.”

Since her son deployed, Gerarde-Niles has connected with other local mothers whose sons are serving overseas. She communicates with them daily, she said.

“It’s a feeling I never thought I would experience,” Gerarde-Niles said. “But I couldn’t be more proud of my son.”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

To the Maxx

Due to my offices close proximety to a shopping center, there is a TJ Maxx that beckons me every day on my drive home.  I stopped in Friday afternoon, and left with 2 Susana Monaco dresses for nearly 60% off retail!

This one
and This one
I told an underwhelmed store clerk how thrilled I was that The Teej was now carrying Susana Monaco, debatably, my favorite designer.  After my monologue, he told me I should check out the Brentwood store since they have a "Runway" section.  I wasn't entirely sure if this was a fact, or just an attempt to get the annoying girl out of the store. Either way, I headed to Brentwood the next morning and low and behold...

 In all the years I have been a Maxxinista, I never knew there was a distinguished Runway section in select stores.  The section featured designers like Nanette Lepore, Alice & Olivia, Tory Burch, and Elizabeth and James, just to name a few. There was even a Givenchy purse up for grabs at a modest $1,800.  I couldn't believe it!

The one down side to The Runway section: the sensitive alarms on the garments.  I tried on 8 articles of clothing and managed to set off the blaring sensors not once, but twice.  I now have 2 TJ Maxx associates within a 10 mile radius who will probably hide when I come in the store.  Too bad, because I will definitely back soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Farmer's Market

Every Tuesday night, there is a farmer's market in Sevier Park, a few blocks from my apartment. It's a great way to support local growers and entrepreneurs and enjoy some fresh air after a day in the office.

The 12 South Farmer's Market is open to the public from May-October and ends at 6:30pm.  I hustled home, threw off my heels, and hopped into the car.

Bruce was happy to join us!
The Market features local music, produce, and meats.  One of these days, I will have the patience to cook healthy and tasty meals.  When that day comes, I know where I am buying my fruits and veggies.

 I had never eaten from a kitchen on wheels, but was eager to try something new.  I headed straight for the Grilled Cheeserie, and was pleasantly surprised by my Cheddar, Gruyere, and bacon sammy.

Who doesn't love a grilled cheese sandwich?
Will and I inhaled our respective sandwiches, but we saved a few table scraps for The Tank.  Needless to say, we are all counting down until our next "truck stop" Tuesday. 

More cheese please!