Monday, June 30, 2014

Picture Practice: Night

On Mondays I'm doing a picture linkup with Kelli at Just Beachy. If you'd like to participate, here are the prompts through July. This is my photo for the prompt night. It's the Salem Witch Museum...at night. A derr.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

TWTW - Relay For Life Edition

This weekend I got five hours of sleep on Friday night and zero on Saturday, so this is a picture dump of Relay For Life because as I type this I'm on 30 hours without sleep and I'm verging on hangry. For why I relay, see this post. For a little bit more of what it's like there, see Lori's (llf1020) comment below.

Thanks so much to all of my Random Acts of Kindness teammates and our framily who stopped by for 15 minutes, an hour, five hours, to show your support and walk some laps with us and buy some raffles and bring us food and coffee. Thanks also to all of you who donated to me online or via mail. You all rock. I've raised $1,730 so far. Sincerely. Thank you.

Survivors
People, plus AUB who stopped in to walk in the morning and Kimmie, who visited in the dark of night.
Scenes from Relay
Winnings of me & MFD, including the coveted DD basket that's all mine
Skies of Relay
HOPE of Relay
We switched it up this year - new to us Relay (Bensalem), Lori and Perry set stuff up like rockstars on Friday. Lori rocked out as my team co-pilot. I didn't walk my first lap until 3 p.m. and I walked all through the night aside from a visit with Sister Secrets and an hour doing time at the information station for our team. I wised up from last year, saved my energy to make it through the night and never wore flip flops and I'm not in as much pain this year. The last members of our team (me, Lori, and Debbie) punched out at 23 hours - a respectable showing but not the full 24. My feet said absolutely not another lap, my body said you stink, and my mouth said I would like to eat something with a fork instead of your hands. We left Relay at 10 a.m. Sunday.

On Mondays I'm doing a picture linkup with Kelli at Just Beachy. If you'd like to participate, here are the prompts through July. This is my photo for the prompt summer.
This weekend was great, and on the less pain, Hallelujah and Amen, beacuse this week? Kim and Steve's wedding in Salem. Time to trade my Relay shoes for maid of honor shoes.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sharing Stories - Why I Relay

I lost my source for this - I think it's Relay Canada's. 
Last Wednesday was the final full meeting before Relay For Life. I've been a team captain many times over, served on a Relay For Life committee for a few years, participated in three different Relays, and hell I even chaired a Relay for a few years. The basics of Relay don't change, even when you change locations. I skip a lot of monthly meetings in lieu of reading the minutes and stalking Relay on Facebook. 

The very last thing I felt like doing was leaving my house to attend a volunteer meeting that would start 15 minutes late and where things I've heard and said myself hundreds of times would be repeated. But I went. I wanted the map of the event and I wanted a Wawa hoagie on the way back. As forecasted, the meeting started 20 minutes late. I was annoyed, hungry, wishing I was at home...then three ladies stepped up to talk about why they Relay. Sharing why you Relay is a big part of Relay For Life.
Via
I sat and listened to a woman who had to stop and collect herself while talking about losing her Dad to cancer. She just wants everyone to be able to spend Father's Day with their dads. Next, a woman who was so full of fire after beating cancer that she could barely get the words out. 

I am a person who tears up at things like this. I always have been and I always will be. I teared up for those people and their stories, but also for my people and their stories. 

With her mention of Father's Day I teared up thinking about Laura's dad not being here on Father's Day for what will always be too many years in a row when we seem too young for that. I thought about how many family members are no longer with MFD and his cousins who are missing parents far too young. 

I thought about my Grandmom, an 80 year old woman certain she was going to beat pancreatic cancer, but also of how vulnerable, tired, and afraid she seemed when she thought you weren't paying attention. An image of my hand in hers flashed in my brain. I thought about looking down while I was holding her hand every day for the week she was unresponsive in hospice. How familiar a sight it was to me, that hand, how I had held it as a child, a teenager, a young adult. How she liked to hold hands and would rub yours with her thumb. How weird it felt to hold it now. How similar our hands were. How I wish she died circle of life style without the terrible pain that came along with the cancer but how that cancer is what made us much closer over her last year than we would've been otherwise. 
I thought about all the people who have lost loved ones to cancer over the years I've been doing this. Far too many people for me to name here, that's for sure. Not to mention those who got it, beat it, are still battling it - my father in law, Mrs. S, my Gwen, Lisa...again, far too many to name. 

I snapped back to the meeting in time to listen to a report from the Hope Lodge and how one of the patients staying there while he got treatment said that the volunteers and the Relayers give HIM hope. Just like that, I was back in the present and I was smiling, clapping, and thinking of the survivors in my life. So many people who have kicked cancer's ass. Their stories are incredible. 

I was reminded that physical attendance gives me something that meeting minutes do not - the ability to identify and empathize with other people. 

You volunteer and raise money against a disease that's painful, sad, heartbreaking, infuriating, hellish, and a million other bad things, but so much good comes from your experiences too. If you think about it, it's weird that anything related to cancer can be rewarding, but it is. It sucks to live a bad outcome. Losing someone you love and watching them suffer in the process hurts. But watching a survivor emerge victorious from this life or death battle is really fucking something too. It makes your heart soar, even if you don't know the person. 

Relays are 24 hours because cancer never sleeps. Last year was my first 24 hour Relay, I had only done 12s before. I loved being on the track at 2 a.m., walking slowly, reading the names on the luminaria bags and thinking how each bag is someone's story. Yes, it's a long day. It's usually hot. It's a lot of walking.You have to set up and break down. Your feet hurt. You likely smell. Some people are annoying. You don't sleep. But those things are nothing compared to battling cancer every day. Really. Nothing. And nothing compared to what you take away from the experience.
I think this is 4 a.m.
So that's why I Relay. For the people who've gone head to head with cancer and won. For the people doing intense battle now. For the people I've lost and the people you've lost, and for our ability to share their stories. To have a place and a time to do that surrounded by other people who have been there. To spend a day with framily raising money for a great cause. I find it cathartic. I hope if there's a Relay near you and you've never experienced it, that you go walk a lap, buy a cupcake from a team, tear up at a luminary ceremony, smile at a survivor. Be a part of the community for a minute, or an hour, or however long you'd like to stay. 
Thanks so much again to everyone who donated this year. I'm at $1,325 raised so far and still pushing on. If you'd like to donate, please click here, and if you're local, stop by Bensalem High School on Saturday, June 21, from 11 a.m. all through until Sunday at 11 a.m., walk a lap with me and see what Relay is all about.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Salads: Greek Orzo

I love cooking, but like all other things in the summer, I get lazy with it. I like to make up a pasta or potato salad on the weekend and have it for a side during the week. This is one of my favorites.

Ingredients
1 lb orzo
1/2 jar kalamata olives, sliced
small container of grape tomatoes, sliced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup feta cheese
salt to taste

dressing:

1 cup olive oil

1 cup red wine vinegar

2.5 tsp. garlic powder

2.5 tsp. dried oregano

2.5 tsp. dried basil

2 tsp. white pepper

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. onion powder

2 tsp. Dijon mustard


Mix together and shake well. Store at room temperature tightly covered until ready to use. 


Directions
Boil orzo to package directions and drain. Chop all veggies and put in a large bowl with pasta. Add cheese and olives.

Mix dressing ingredients together in a bowl and whisk well. Pour half over salad, mix well. Add more if parts are uncoated.
Cover salad and store in fridge, cover leftover dressing and store on counter top for up to two hours. Before serving, add more dressing if desired, then store in fridge.

The dressing really makes this - I used to use bottled and now I use this and it's delicious. It pairs well with grilled chicken and veggies or baked tilapia.

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Haikuesday
No whisking for you?
You could use bottled dressing, 
you weinerwhistle.
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Martinis & Bikinis

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In our house, Buddha wears rosary beads

I've said a few times that I wouldn't be discussing religion here. As we all know, I do what I want, so today I decided I will be discussing it.

MFD and I were both raised Catholic, me more so than him in that I received all of the sacraments except for marriage - we weren't married by a priest. I grew away from that belief system early in my life, but he never really did. He's always identified as a Catholic and I haven't for a very long time. 

Recently he's returned to being a practicing Catholic. Jesus is his homeboy and MFD will high five Jesus anywhere he pleases, Facebook included. He's out with his faith, which is directly opposite of how I approach religion: I feel that it's personal, private, and between me and my higher power alone. I don't even really discuss my beliefs with those closest to me. I will sort of wall you off if you approach me about it. 

A friend of mine, knowing how I feel about religion and organized religion in particular, asked me how I was with MFD's faith forward posture. 

Honestly? I'm great with it. It grounds him and makes him happy, and both of those things are extremely important to me. MFD knows I'm not interested in doing Church things, so he bops down to the parish a block from our house and I do my thing. Who am I to tell him, or anyone else for that matter, how to feed their soul?

In our house, we're accepting and tolerant of the belief systems of others and that starts right with us. Just because we're married doesn't mean we feel the same about everything and even if we did, people change over time and as long as they're not destructive changes, you have to roll with it. At the end of the day, what someone feels deep in their heart is their business, whatever deity they believe in or the absence of belief in a deity if that's how they roll.
Real life: I went to pull that weed, but when I went to do it Buddha's head fell off. Whoops. 
There's room enough in this world for the beliefs of all of us. If we really thought about it, we'd find more commonality than differences among our belief systems. We'd find that working hard, being a good person, sharing good energy, helping our neighbors and community, and minding what we're doing instead of what others are doing is where most religions rub up against one another, no matter what name that religion's higher power goes by. Which is why Buddha wears rosary beads in our house. Good is good, no matter what religion it falls under. 
My Joyful Buddha wearing MFD's rosary beads
If you use your religion to cast stones against others, I have to say I think you're doing it wrong and your God would probably be like hey...that's my job. Peaceful coexistence with people different from us is something this world sorely lacks. Let's work on that. 

 photo purple_zpse5f7f916.png Note: since this references MFD's beliefs, I ran it by him first. He insisted I did not receive all sacraments (what it originally said) because marriage is a sacrament. I got schooled.

Linking up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions.
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Linking up with Liz for Fitness Blondie's Blog Hop:
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Monday, June 2, 2014

Motion


On Mondays I'm doing a picture linkup with Kelli at She Crab Soup. If you'd like to participate, here are the prompts through July. This is my photo for the prompt motion. It's a surfer at 4th Street Beach in Ocean City, NJ.

Tomorrow: the weekend that was a day late since my four day weekend is still happening today.
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