Monday, December 31, 2012

Twelve for 12 - The Buzzer

Time's up.
A mere 365 days ago, I set forth in my attempt to complete 12 tasks or projects by the end of the year.  Some of them were easily tangible - a certain number of things to do, etc.  Others were a little more ephemeral and difficult to really mark off until today.
Well, let's take a look.

  1. Run a half marathon (considering I already signed up, I felt that it was best to put this as Thing #1)
  2. Begin painting the house (interior)
  3. Continue collecting my china pattern
  4. Participate in at least one new run/race event
  5. Declutter the master bedroom (or at least start)
  6. Begin my masters
  7. Start and finish at least 2 knitting projects (although in a post to be named later, I may carry one "start" from 2011 over)
  8. Take HRH to one, new, exciting Thing each month
  9. Obtain a post-race massage (this is not indulgent; studies show they help runners recover)
  10. Read a book that is not intended for the 3-year-old crowd
  11. Donate blood 4 times
  12. Spend more high-quality less-TV time with The Husband
Looks like I'm batting .500.  This is still better than Derek Jeter this year, so there.
As far as painting the house goes, I have determined the color that will cover about 85% of my walls, and for Christmas, I racked up enough Lowe's gift cards to get the party started.
I didn't complete as many races this year.  I'm OK with that.  Sometimes, it's not about being in an event but just being out there, like I was yesterday.
No, I didn't begin my masters.  Insert yet another lame excuse.
To my credit, numbers 8 and 12 are hard to quantify.  What is a "new, exciting Thing"?  Hell, going to JC Penney could (and should) count as that, really.  And what happens if I took her to TWO Things one month and nothing the next month.  I'm not sure I tallied twelve truly exciting new Things that we did this year, but I am certain that the Things we did do were full of the excitement I intended.  And what does count as quality time with one's significant other?  Does sitting and making fun of each other count?
And I donated blood twice, although one of those occasions was the "power red," which was a double donation, so technically, I think I can count three donations.  This is something I must be better about next year.  The pool of donors is very small anyway; if I miss a donation, it will have an impact.  I encourage you to consider being a blood donor, if you are not already.

Did I spread myself too thin this year with twelve separate goals?  Perhaps.  However, things change in 365 days.  What my plans were then are different from what they are now.  I'm not going to beat myself up for not writing down each exciting Thing HRH and I did together in order to blog about it.  I am going to, instead, celebrate what I was able to do.

I did spend time with both HRH and TH doing Fun Things like two children's museums, movies, and more.
I more than doubled my running mileage, even though it wasn't directed any new races.
I knitted several items with love for my family and friends.  Knitting is something that I find therapeutic, and I am wondering if there is a relationship between the higher number of knitting project this year and the smaller number of eczema breakouts in the same time span.
I have rejoiced in the victories and high points of my friends and family, and I have grieved with them at their losses.

In 2013, I'll not be working on a "thirteen for 13."  I'm not superstitious, but I just don't want to set a trend, and I think that I can better focus my goals, objectives, plans, or purposes on the year if I don't stick with a number because it's cute.

Did you have a goal (or resolution) this year?
What was it?
Did you stick with it?

Sunday, December 30, 2012


You guys, I did it.  I ran 700 miles this year.

OK. 700.4 miles.

In 2011, my first full calendar year of running, I ran 268.7 miles.
This year, I ran 431.7 miles MORE than that.
Oh.  My.  Word.

I knew today would be the day.  I had 3.4 miles left, and I haven't hit the trails all fall.  It was time.  My route - 3.7 miles.
The route I took:
Littleleaf-Goldmine-San Tan-Moonlight

Zooey barked the whole way to the park, which is about 30 minutes from the house.  My new pet barrier only came down on her once.  Things were looking up for her, too.
The weather was perfect - overcast, cool but not cold as it has been in the morning lately.  The sun was trying to peek through the clouds.  It smelled like rain and creosote bushes.  The smell of desert rain is one of my favorite things about living in Arizona.

This was only my second trail run, and it's not always easy to navigate some areas of trail, so I did have to slow to a walk sometimes, following Zooey, since she just instinctively knew which sides of the trail to take. I didn't have any music playing and actually heard coyotes off in the distance when I started, although, thankfully, we didn't see any animals save the greyhound out for its own family hike close to end of our run.
Right before I hit mile 700, a group of hikers passed by me, going out as I was headed back in.  The last straggler said, "Have a great time!"
And I did.

Then I cried.
Yes, I cried.  To know that I'd run that far was just... 11/10.
I still can't believe that I have run the equivalent of the distance between Phoenix, Arizona and Lubbock Texas.  I mean, that's freaking far!
Kat told me that next year is my 1000-mile year.  I did the math.  That's an average of 20 miles per week.  I'm not sure I'll hit that number, but I am sure that I will beat 700.4.

A little celebratory doggie kiss

Thirsty girl needed two water bottles today.
 In the last week, I have dedicated my runs to Victoria Soto, Daniel Barden, Ana Marquez-Greene, and Dawn Hochsprung, all victims of the Newtown tragedy.  Victoria Soto had wanted to be a teacher her entire life, and she was able to safely hide some of her students before being killed.  She is a heroine.  Daniel Barden had hoped to be a firefighter, and at his funeral, countless firefighters honored this little boy by saluting the procession.  Ana Marquez-Greene's last words to her mother that morning, after multiple goodbye hugs, were about the gift she had put under the Christmas tree for her mom.  Dawn Hochsprung, Sandy Hook Elementary School's principal, was shot as she attempted to stop the gunman.  These adults and children, and the families that they leave behind, are with me, as they are for so many of us.
But today, being out on the trails, I ran for me, and I ran for (and with) everyone.  I ran for my dad.  I ran for Lily.  I ran for all 27 victims of Newtown (27 because, regardless of your stance on gun rights and gun control and gun ownership, Nancy Lanza was a victim of this horrible event).  I ran for everyone who can no longer run.  I ran for my Running Pack in the Sky girlfriends who are scattered across the country.  I ran for my own daughter.  I ran for fun.
Tomorrow isn't promised, so we must always remember to make today worth every second.  And today was a damn good day.

Friday, December 28, 2012

One Kitchen, Many Hearts - Holiday Edition

One of my favorite facets of the Christmas season is giving gifts to my friends and family.  When, on the rare occasion, I find The Perfect Gift (which is becoming more and more rare), I become so fired up that I can hardly keep the secret.  I'm certain that I developed this trait from my dad, who would fill the holiday season with so much gift giving that he would have to schedule days on the calendar for various calendar-making or chutney-cooking just to get it all in.
What I didn't realize when I was younger is that my dad filled those days to make sure that he didn't have time to miss his own dad, who passed away either very late Christmas Eve or very early Christmas Day before my parents ever met.  He used the hours that it took to prep, chop, cook, and can chutney, etc., to be sure that he didn't have a spare moment to dwell on missing his father at what is supposed to be, for many, the "most wonderful time of year."
Now that I am older, I still find a great joy in giving others gifts, but I also find myself this year with less joy than I usually have.  While I was thrilled to see my own daughter decorate the Christmas tree and then open the gifts under it with great gusto, my heart was heavy knowing how many parents were not able to see the same sights this year.  Between Lily's passing and the horrific events in Connecticut, as a parent, I grieve with the mothers and fathers who can no longer wish their own babies a merry Christmas.

So the decision that my blogging girlfriends and I made to have a Secret Santa round of our gift exchange helped bring some more joy into this holiday season.

Top (L-R): Mads, Kirsten, Megan
Bottom (L-R): Jeanne, me, Kat
I feel incredibly fortunate to have become friends with all five of these ladies, and I've been doubly fortunate to meet Kirsten and Megan in person thus far - just in the last month and a half.  I'm hoping to get to see Mads, Kat, and Jeanne in 2013.
Kat has joked that we actually are all sister-wives, and while the polygamy jokes never get old with me, there is truth behind the humor.  After all, the six of us span multiple age demographics, and we can offer advice and insight to one another in so many areas, from child-rearing to footwear.  It's like the phrase "it takes a village" was created for us sometimes.  

Jeanne took charge of this exchange, drawing the secret Santa names and emailing them out, and I'm grateful to her, although I am kind of sad that, because of this, she knew her "secret" Santa the whole time.  We'll need to work on that for next time.  Since I'm pretty sure there will be a next time.
I, for one, could hardly contain my excitement and very nearly gave away my secret multiple times.  Every day.  I basically wanted to tell everyone.  It was determined that we could open and then email or private message one another once we received the packages in case there were perishables inside.  So as soon as I could, I sent off my package in hopes that it would arrive as early as possible.  Click here to see where it arrived.

Kat was my secret Santa.  And y'all, she just gets me:

In my package:
  • Trader Joe's salted caramel sauce, which she promised will change my life (I haven't cracked it open yet - I need some good, homemade ice cream and some serious alone time)
  • Thetalicious, her sorority's cookbook
  • Minnesota wild rice (with a suggested recipe)
  • hot cocoa mixes
  • Ghirardelli sea salt dark chocolate
  • maple sugar candies
  • a beautiful brown and orange scarf (which made a perfect staging item for the photo above), which goes perfectly with my winter coat
  • a bangle bracelet (that at picture time had been appropriated by HRH)
  • not one but two types of cookies which, uh... didn't quite make it to press time
And instead of labels, which we have been wont to include, she wrote a letter.  It's a rare event that we receive "real mail" anymore, so it was like the icing on an already lovely cake to have such sweet sentiments on paper:

The goodies were one thing, but some simple words of encouragement for logging even more miles in 2013 were just IT.  I mean, better than if Oprah gave me a car IT.  These words are especially important coming from Kat, who has run multiple marathons and plans to do more.  She will be a resource when I decide that it is Time for me to train for my first one.  That she believes in me to log 1000 miles in a year - that's an average of 20 miles a week! - means more than I can really convey.
And then of course, the obligatory "move to where I live" comment:

I am intrigued at the idea of living somewhere that doesn't house scorpions, but considering how chilled to the bone I was during our stay in Michigan over Thanksgiving, I'm not sure I could hang at the 45th parallel full time.  HOWEVER, being a snowbird is more and more appealing to me the longer I live in Arizona during the summer.

Thank you so much, Kat - it was so much fun waiting for and opening that package, but more importantly, it's been a wonderful year of friendship and fun.  I can't wait to see the shenanigans that 2013 has in store for us!

Of course, like I mentioned earlier, I love the gift giving - more so than gift receiving. So you must also check out the wonderful boxes that my friends received, too - I know I can't wait!
Click here to see what Megan (Wanna Be a Country Cleaver) received.
Click here to find out who was Kirsten's (Comfortably Domestic) secret Santa.
Click here to check out what Mads (La Petite Pancake) got.
Click here to see what came in the mail for Kat (Tenaciously Yours,).
Click here for the package sent to our main schemer, Jeanne (Inside Nanabread's Head.

And now that the holidays are coming to a close, take a minute and give someone - anyone - a fun little gift.  You might not be a secret Santa, but you will be doing something positive and kind and good, something that we can always use more of!

What was the best gift that you have ever given?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

This morning, I ran with Charlotte Bacon in my heart and my spirit.
Charlotte was 6 years old, and she loved pink.  On her last day on earth, she had convinced her parents to let her wear her new pink dress and boots that her parents had gotten her for the holiday season.  I love her fashion sense and the fact that we share the same desire to wear new togs the second we get them.  My heart breaks a little more knowing that this is a kindred spirit whom I'll never have the chance to meet.
Charlotte's was the first name I saw when the list of shooting victims was released.  I'm not quite sure why her  name jumped out at me so.  I have always loved the name Charlotte, and I have often thought that if we'd had another girl, I'd have liked to name her Charlotte.
Since Charlotte also wanted to be a veterinarian, I started off our run asking her if she'd like to hold Zooey's leash with me.  I explained that Zooey loved to snuggle, and invited her, if ever she gets cold, to come visit us - Zooey will curl up into a coonie ball next to her and keep her warm; all she asks in return is for her ears to be stroked.  I also told her about Frye Guy, the kitten who had been living in our backyard (and neighbor's backyard) for a little over a month.  We had to take him to the Humane Society today, I asked Charlotte if she could watch over him to help him find a loving forever home.  If anyone can help him find a home, it's a sweet girl who loved all animals and who strove to be a vet, even at such a young age.
Then I turned my attention to her family.  I asked her make sure that she helps her parents know that she's OK, that she is resting peacefully.  I hope that, somehow, Charlotte can take her mother's hand and hold it next to her heart, even if just for a little while.
There was a point at which I could barely see through my tears.  But I was grateful for the company that Charlotte provided me this morning, and I remain thankful for the place she now holds in my heart.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Blessed are the Merciful

I had planned for this weekend to be a post about how I had decided that this month would be a month of running, just for me.
But after the devastation of last week, which began with the loss of my friend's beautiful child to cancer and ended with the horrific loss of 26 other sweet souls, I knew that I cannot run for just "myself" ever again.
In my last post, I wrote that I (and we) can do some things, even simple ones, to help Lily's memory, and it's true, too, that I (and we) can also do simple acts to honor the children and teachers who lost their lives last week as well.
I truly believe that positive energy and prayer can make a difference.  It can turn the tide against evil, but it must be constant and firm.  We must be good to one another, not merely doing some good deeds in the weeks after the tragedy is Newtown and then allowing things to go back to the way they were, flipping the bird to someone who cuts us off in traffic once again.  No, we must be good to one another each day - today and one hundred days from now.
I had already decided that I would be dedicating each of my runs in 2013 to a different person.  Not just each race.  Each run.  From the 2-miler early in the morning to the next half marathon on the horizon, each run that I complete will have someone accompanying me.
But mindful of the darkness that descended upon us last week, this couldn't wait.

This morning, I ran for (and with) Anne Marie Murphy, who was one of the teachers slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday.
Reports have stated that Anne Marie was killed while she attempted to shield her students with her body so that they would not suffer a similar fate.
She threw herself between the killer and those children without a second thought.
And now, she is walking the overcrowded streets of Heaven this night.
As a teacher, I have a duty to fill my students' heads with the knowledge they will need as they become adults and enter that "real world."  But I also have the duty to let them know that they are loved and to keep them safe while inside my classroom.
Anne Marie Murphy loved her students so much that she died for - and with - them.

During our run this morning, I told Anne Marie that I hoped that she and her students didn't suffer, that I hoped that the shin pain I felt was worse than what she felt on Friday, and that if she had been in pain, that I would gladly take some of that on for her.  I told her she was a hero; I told her that my heart was broken at this unspeakable event but at the same time so full because of her love and commitment to those children.  I told her she would remain in my heart and in my mind.  I told her thank you.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

For Unto Us a Child Is Born

Today, December 13, Lily would have been 13 years old.
She breathed her last early Monday morning, after nearly two years of emotional (and health) highs and lows, leaving this world peacefully.
There are just no words to describe how my heart hurts for Alicia, Phillip, and Jacob.  If I could do something - anything - to help ease their pain and grief away, I would.
But I can't.
I can only celebrate the amazing person who Lily was - bright, thoughtful, generous, brave, creative, witty - and pray that I can raise my child to emulate the Goodness that just radiated from Lily.

There is, of course, no "best" time to lose a child.  Regardless of the moment that a life passes to the other side, there is always the first event without her - that first year is filled with "the first without."  Christmas is no different.  But still, this week my thoughts wandered down that path.  I don't know why; it just seems like right now is somehow worse.  Worse than what... I don't know.
I guess it's just this: during this time of year, millions of people throughout the world prepare to celebrate one of the most important events in the history of humankind.  Whether we believe that Jesus was the son of God, the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), or simply a teacher of extraordinary historical influence, the story of Jesus is, too, the story of a mother's child, from the jubilation of his birth to the heartbreak of his crucifixion.  But he has become everyone's child - the baby who lay in a manger, borne of the hope of the world.
I can't help but think that Lily has, in her own way, become everyone's child, too.  Every person who has met her or even just learned of her story accidentally can't help but love her and hope, desperately, to defeat this cancer that has taken her from her mother's arms.

And so I am reminded that I can do something else for Lily.  It's something we can all do.  We can - we must - press on in this crusade against cancer.  All cancer.  Colon cancer, which took my dad.  Ovarian cancer, which took my grandmother.  Leukemia, which took Kirsten's little sister.  Lymphoma, which threatens my brother-in-law.  Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), which took Lily.  Until cancer is no longer a feared word in a doctor's office and is no longer taking loved ones, I will do what I can to help others prevent, treat, and beat it.  I will run for a cure.  I will donate to a cause.  I will bake to fund research.

So, I honor Lily today, in at least a small way, by participating in this year's Cookie Week, a now-annual event with some of my food blogger girlfriends.  All the cookies shared this week are part of the Glad® to Give program, which donates a dollar to Cookies for Kids' Cancer for each cookie shared/swapped during this holiday season, up to $100,000 - that's up from ten cents per cookie during the same time frame last year.  In addition, OXO has pledged to match all donations from registered bake sales (through the Cookies for Kids' Cancer website) up to $100,000 as well.  These donations will help fund research and new treatments for children's cancers, both well-known, like leukemia, as well as those that desperately need more research and treatment options, like ARMS.
Last year, my friends and I exchanged nearly 4500 cookies among our various office events, holiday parties, and more.  This year, I hope that you may also be inspired to offer even a dozen cookies; if we all work together, we will see fewer parents say goodbye to their children.

My recipe is a twist on the ever-popular jam thumbprint cookies.  I've always loved squishing down the dough to make a little nesting spot for the jam, of which there is never enough for my liking.
Some thumbprint recipes are a basic sugar cookie recipe, but I'm rather partial to the peanut butter ones.  After all, peanut butter and jelly go together like... peanut butter and jelly.
But peanut butter has been done, and sometimes it's nice to have a little change.  This variation has a bit of an Asian taste to it, with sesame and plum coming together in sweet harmony.

Sesame Plum Thumbprints
(adapted from this recipe by Cooking Light magazine)
makes about 36 cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted*
  • cooking spray or olive oil
  • plum jam
Whisk together flour and salt in a bowl; set aside.
Cream together butter, sugars, and tahini in mixer on medium speed until smooth  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add in vanilla.  Mix in flour mixture, a little at a time, until just combined.  Add in sesame seeds.
Lightly coat hands with cooking spray or olive oil.  Shape dough into balls of about 2 Tbsp, and place onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Press thumb (or a round 1/2 tsp) into center of each ball to make an indentation.  Cover and chill for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Uncover dough and bake cookies at 350° for 10-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.  Remove and cool on cookie rack.  If you want the indentations to be bigger in order to hold more jam, use the 1/2 tsp to push down a little more while cookies are still warm.
Once cookies have cooled, spoon plum jam (at least 1/2 tsp) into indentation of each cookie.

*Make sure that when you toast your seeds, you keep a close eye on them to keep them from going to nicely toasty to horribly burned.  My recommendation is to use a toaster over and to not multi-task during this process.

Thank you, Lily, for being an inspiration to more people than you could possibly know.  I promise you that I will not stop working to help find a cure for cancer.  You may have left our world, but you will remain in the hearts of many forever, and we are all the more blessed for it.

One of the fairies that Lily drew using the computer,
one of her many creative hobbies.
She was an amazing artist.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Twelve for Twelve - It's Been a While

I had thought by now that the "crazy" part of the school year would be behind me, but to be honest, it's just been a crazy, difficult semester, and I suspect that it will follow me into the spring term.  Not my most favorite prediction ever, but it is what it is.
Add to that picking up both soccer and swim for HRH, I am about a bazillion ideas and projects behind.
So it really shouldn't be much of a surprise that I have been feeling like I'm not getting anything done.  And I'm not just saying that because that basket of laundry has been sitting there for a week, taunting me.
Crossing items off a list, then, has to give a little satisfaction, right?
Let's get to it.

#3 - Continue collecting my china pattern
This one was pretty awesome, as my mother-in-law made more pieces my birthday present this year.  At this point, I have a complete set of a few pieces in the collection, and I have seven complete place settings (my goal is 16).  
My china pattern, I think I have mentioned before, was my paternal grandmother's, and it's been discontinued by Sango, so it's really something I have to collect from online distributors.  There are a few pieces I may never find, but it's fun looking.
What has been amazing is to see the different in the sizes of the plates when I bust out the china during various dinners.  Plates certainly HAVE gotten bigger in the last half-century.

#5 - Declutter the master bedroom (or at least start)
I've started!  A few weeks ago, I went nuts on our closet, reorganizing all my shoes and everything.  I still need to take our donation items to Goodwill, but we're headed in the right direction.  I can see the floor of the closet again.
Regardless, I'm claiming this as crossed off.

#7 - Start and finish at least 2 knitting projects
This bad boy is done.  I've actually gotten more than two projects finished this year, and I have another one on the needles right now.

  • I made a baby blanket for my principal, who had a little girl in January.
  • I made a baby blanket for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who welcomed my precious niece in July.
  • I made a baby blanket for my cousin and her husband; their little one (the third girl in my knitting streak!) arrived in August.
  • I moved on to hats next, and I knitted an R2D2 hat for my other brother-in-law.  And like and IDIOT I sent it without taking any pictures of it!  It was awesome, though.  When we visit them, I'll try to get a snap.
  • Then I started to make him another hat and realized that it was so big it would really only fit Andre the Giant, so that one has been un-knitted and is back on the drawing board.
  • I made a fun scarf for HRH and another for me.  TH thinks they look like sea cucumbers.  He's not getting a scarf of his own now.

I'd say I've hit this one out of the park.

The edging for my niece's blanket

The blanket was apple green, turquoise, white, and bright pink
to match her room.

My cousin's blanket - pink and cream

HRH's "sea cucumber" scarf (mine is blue)

#9 Obtain a post-race massage
OK, so it wasn't really a post-race massage, but I have been scheduling massages a little more regularly during training.  It has made a HUGE difference in my running.  I highly recommend the sports massage; I made the "mistake" of getting a Swedish massage for one appointment, thinking it would be relaxing, and it just didn't get into the muscles deeply enough.  
I tend to carry my stress in my shoulders, so massage has been helpful working out those knots, but I also had a huge knot in my hamstring that I hadn't realized was there, and since that got worked out, my legs have been must fresher much faster.
So this totally counts.

Sadly, I'm pretty sure the master's is going to be put off again, and as I have requested Lowe's gift cards as the only non-donation Christmas gift that I would want, painting the house will probably be a new year's project, too.  As for less TV time, that damn boob tube has quite the siren song for the hubs.  There is a race next month that I'm hoping to do - it even comes with chocolate!

  1. Run a half marathon (considering I already signed up, I felt that it was best to put this as Thing #1)
  2. Begin painting the house (interior)
  3. Continue collecting my china pattern
  4. Participate in at least one new run/race event
  5. Declutter the master bedroom (or at least start)
  6. Begin my masters
  7. Start and finish at least 2 knitting projects (although in a post to be named later, I may carry one "start" from 2011 over)
  8. Take HRH to one, new, exciting Thing each month
  9. Obtain a post-race massage (this is not indulgent; studies show they help runners recover)
  10. Read a book that is not intended for the 3-year-old crowd
  11. Donate blood 4 times
  12. Spend more high-quality less-TV time with The Husband
Ahhhh, that felt good.

Do you have any big accomplishments that you'd like to virtually cross off?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

One Kitchen, Many Hearts - Tricks, Treats, and Thanks

I have found myself getting more and more excited each time we have one of our OKMH gift exchanges.  Not for the package that comes to my door (although that is darn exciting - way more exciting than the bills and election flyers I usually get), but to see what everyone else sent everyone else.  While we are scattered across the map, it's like we live just down the street from one another.
Which would be the awesomest block on the planet were it to actually happen.

Clockwise, from top left:
Mads, Kirsten, Megan, Kat, Moi, Jeanne

This month, we came full circle; I received my first OKMH package from Mads back in February, and it was finally my turn to send some goodies to her.  I had a lot of fun putting her package together, so make sure that she's your first stop on the train today.
And since Jeanne was the first lucky lady to get my gifties, her package was the one that I received this month.
For the record, Jeanne gets the award for the most beautifully packed boxes and probably some of the most hilarious handmade cards EVER.

My personal favorite is the grammar one - top left.
And while I could have laughed at the cards all day (I still am, actually), I was just touched at Jeanne's thoughtfulness with her selections.

Something for HRH (which didn't leave her side for a week and even made the trek to school for Friday Show and Tell).

Her name is Samantha.
Although for about 48 hours she was called "Pony Grap."
That's a "g" there.  In case you did a double take.
Something for TH - with an accompanying rude joke about smoking meat (I wouldn't have it any other way).

And some goodies for all of us to share.  OK, just TH and me to share.

"SOUP. There it is."
Hilarious, Jeanne.  I actually cried I was laughing so hard.
I can't wait to make this!!!!!

Because broken syrup IS unacceptable.
Got this one past you, USPS.

Who you calling fat and juicy?
Good news: we love bloody Marys.
Bad news: I used all the vodka to make my extracts.

Also in the package: one bandana (soon to be Zooey's new party clothes) and some farro, which I cannot wait to put into a soup.  Maybe some hot cereal for those mornings after a run now that the weather is (finally) cooling off.

Jeanne, you rock; thank you for all the great goods - we all appreciate them!  All of these wonderful women rock, and in this week when only a horrible hurricane can stop (some of) the hateful campaigning, it warms my heart that we can do something nice for someone else for the fun of it - because we can.
(And speaking of "because we can," click here to watch the video reveal of how much was raised at the Bake Sale for Beka over two days - I laughed, I cried, and I drooled over the cookies I didn't win, but I love that so many people are so generous for great causes - thanks to all those good people who bid; congratulations to all the winners!)

  • Now, I sent a gift package to Mads.
  • Mads sent her box to Kirsten.
  • Kirsten sent her gift along to Megan.
  • Megan (who must be exhausted after that two day auction!) shuttled her goods off to Kat.
  • Kat, to make the circle complete, sent her bundle down to Jeanne

Now, we have had SO much fun, we're continuing this.  Hopefully you've been inspired to grab a bunch of wonderful items and ship them off to a friend across the country - just for fun!  Go ahead - practice some random acts of OKMH!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bake Sale for Beka

The Internet is a crazy thing.  Not only can you find a corgi version of "Call Me Maybe" (Corgi Rae Jepsen?), but you can also meet the most amazing and wonderful people.
Megan is one of those amazing and wonderful people I've met thanks to The Internet.  She is funny and sharp as a tack.  She is a devoted lover of labra-dork retrievers.  She has a recipe for coconut curd that makes me weak at the knees.  But more most importantly, she has worked tirelessly to put together a bake sale to benefit her best friend, Beka.

Beka has Crohns disease.
You can click on the link there to get more information about what Crohns is, but here is what you really need to know: a chronic condition, Crohns currently has no cure.  Medications can help - some people can be in remission for years, but other people go through much more regular cycles of flare-ups.  It's not a fake disease, and it can have a huge impact on a person's personal and professional life.
But Beka, whom I've also gotten to know via that crazy Internet, doesn't appear to be letting something like Crohns affect her humor, vivacity, or really anything else.
Which is exactly how I would hope to deal with anything like Crohns, cancer, etc.  The less she allows it to boss her around, the less it will be the "one thing" that defines her.

What Beka IS doing is planning her first half marathon after realizing, during training for a 5K, that running seemed to quell some of the symptoms.  Her efforts in this will benefit the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America, specifically the Foundation's Camp Oasis, a camp for children diagnoses with Crohns and Colitis.  Camp Oasis allows these kids to be, well, KIDS, despite their conditions, which many times, other children don't understand.

Y'all know I am definitely on board with my sisters who run for their causes.  Beka and I have kind of bonded over the whole Crohns-colon cancer thing, finding 12-year-old humor in two diseases that are in all actuality NOT funny.

Good thing this bake sale is ANYTHING but funny.  It's simply full of Awesome.

Don't believe me?  Check it out - bid on the goods and goodies from 25 food bloggers (including yours truly) as well as some wonderfully generous companies to help Beka meet her goal for the CCFA and make a huge difference for the kids!  You can bid until 8PM Pacific Daylight Time tonight on some amazing treats - just by clicking here.

Just keep your grubby mitts off the double dark chocolate merlot cookies.  Those babies are MINE.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Seen On My Run - The Blog Post

Most runners who are on The Twitters know about the #seenonmyrun hashtag.  Lots of gorgeous sunrise, sunset, and water snaps.  Tons of "WTH" snaps.
I, of course, favor the latter but also relish the former.
Today I slept in a touch longer than I usually do on Fridays before heading out with Zooey.  It was nice to get an extra few minutes of sleep.
Apparently, that fifteen or so minutes (plus the extra minutes it took me to get out the door; it was a "move slower" kind of morning) makes a big difference in the interesting things that you'll get to see on a run along an Arizona canal.
Seen today:

  1. Lightning storm up in the clouds (thanks for the awesome show, Mother Nature!)
  2. Two tiny kittens (spooked by The Hound of the Doofervilles)
  3. Dude wearing FULL ON winter workout gear - long pants (obviously lined) and winter jacket with fleece collar (probably fleece-lined, too) -- yes, it was in the 60s when I ran, which is practically a cold snap here, but I still think people in Arizona are weird when it comes to weather "anomalies" like getting below 70° in the first half of October.  You should see what happens when there is the rare foggy morning.  But I digress.
  4. A "pack" (or whatever it's called) of six cats - black or black and white.  I've seen them before, but not in these numbers.  I'm planning to contact the local TNR folks to see if they can help
  5. A calf nursing from her momma
  6. Another cat, pooping unabashedly
  7. A black lab that I like to call Zooey's boyfriend; whenever he's in his yard, he gets up on the table to look over the fence - not aggressively - he's totally curious.  We always say hi.
  8. A gray cat who, in its attempt to get away from Zooey, jumped up onto said lab's fence.  Not his best morning, I'm sure.
  9. anas coitus - the poor hen was held UNDER WATER by her neck while the drake did his thing.  Fortunately for the hen's lungs, doing his "thing" lasted about three seconds.  Talk about a two-pump chump.  I guess that romance is dead, at least in the duck world.
  10. I really only add this to get a nice, round number, as it's not truly "interesting" by any stretch of the imagination - what seemed like a bazillion dump trucks, as the road that takes me to and from the canal is being repaved this week, meaning uneven pavement and lots of dust.  And police officers, in front of whom, apparently, Zooey likes to make an ass of herself.

We don't see a lot of wildlife on our weekly runs, unless you count that family of (probably) feral cats and the mallards who live along the canals.  Hopefully when we start trail running again we will also not see a lot of wildlife, at least of the poisonous/dangerous variety, although I will be happy to see a bunny or two cross our path.
I apologize for not having pics of any of the above events, but until I can get a fancy schmancy Garmin, the iPhone is going to be strapped to my arm, which makes it difficult to take pictures.  However, a few weeks ago I was compelled to take a few breaks to get a few snaps.  How I managed to not drop it while Zooey was pulling on me is basically a miracle.

What's the most interesting thing you've ever seen on a run?

Our favorite calf was quite interested in Zooey one morning.

Momma didn't care for Zooey barking at her baby.
(if you look carefully, she can see baby behind her;
she stepped in front of the calf when Zooey barked)

Not a snap of the telephone pole;
that's a vulture up there.
There had been two, but SOMEONE'S barking made one fly off.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

To Sleep, Perchance to Clench My Teeth?

I have been insanely busy of late.  Work has gotten me tied in fits, and between that, running, trying to keep the house from turning into the world's largest ball of dog fur, and keeping up with all of HRH's activities (right now she is in soccer and swim), I basically have been reduced to maintaining my online social life in tact thanks only to the PowPhone.
So there's LOTS that I have to say, but we'll try to parse that out over the course of the next few weeks.  Most of it is only interesting to me, although you know I'll try to spin it into absolute hilarity as I am wont to do.
For tonight, we have an update on sleep.
Don't get too excited there.
Ah, yes, sleep.  I've finally been getting some quality sleep, thanks to the Emperor.  For the most part, I wake up feeling like I have truly gotten the restful sleep that my body needs.
I say "for the most part" because even the Emperor can't keep HRH and Zooey from getting me up for various potty or bad dream emergencies.
In our next house, The Husband's side of the bed is going to be closer to the door.
I've felt stronger as a runner, too.  Not faster, but stronger.  My recovery time has improved a great deal, and this last weekend, on our ten-miler (which was a bit too much for my poor Zooey-girl, we discovered), I could have gone longer - I felt great.
But, like the Force, using a CPAP mask for my sleep apnea has its dark side.

"He that sleeps feels not the toothache."
Cymbeline, William Shakespeare

I have to laugh at my boy Will there.  For someone who coined about half the words we use in the English language (OK, so not half of the words, but a lot of them, including eyeball - there's your fun fact for today), he was way off here.
My mask only covers my nose and has two adjustable straps on either side of it; the straps should be adjusted so that the constant positive air pressure goes in my nose and doesn't "leak" out (it's also really noisy if that were to happen).  Since I sleep on my side, I have been fussing with the straps ever since I got the darn thing to achieve that perfect "tight but not too tight" setting.
Well, I thought I had it.
And then the sore jaw and headaches started.
Yeah.  Fun, that.
I have diagnosed the issue to be a result of the mask; I have been tightening it to the point that it's pushing on my upper jaw, just enough to make it sore.  If you have ever clenched your teeth (either at night or due to stress), you know that this can cause horrible headaches as well.  
So I have a sore jaw.  Sore teeth.  More frequent headaches.  Makes me tired just thinking about it (you see what I did there?).
OK, so I am loving the sleep I get.  I've even been able to sleep in on those rare occasions when HRH overnights at my mother-in-law's, and actually SLEEPING when I sleep in feels almost sinful, it's such a great feeling.  Now I just have to find a better balance of properly secured mask that won't make my head want to explode the next time I do.
But as I work toward that balance, a bit of a sore jaw is, right now, totally worth it when I am getting a full night's sleep almost every night.  The Emperor can stay, but he's not taking over the Galactic Senate any time soon.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bier Her! Bier Her! Oder Ich Fall Um!

"Das Leben is bezaubernd; man muß es nur durch die richtige Brille sehen."
~German toast

While most Americans think beer, beer, and more beer when they hear the word Oktoberfest, the tradition actually began with a wedding.

A big wedding.
On October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (he would one day become King Ludwig I, grandfather of "Mad" King Ludwig II, who built Schloß Neuschwanstein) married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.  A fan of the Olympic games, Ludwig invited basically everyone (it helps to be the crown prince; budgeting isn't as much of an issue) to partake in the weeklong festivities in front of the city gates, including horse racing.  In honor of Princess Therese, the fields that held the festivities were renamed the Theresienwiese (eventually shortened to Wiesn).
The Fest was so popular that it became a yearly event, which evolved into what we know as Oktoberfest.
Of course, Bavaria is home to great beers, thanks in great part of the Reinheinsgebot of 1516 (you can read me wax poetic about the Gebot and other Bavarian Bier wonders here), so it's not a surprise that beer stands soon popped up on the Wiesn.
Today, Oktoberfest begins at the end of September and goes into October, and millions of people flock to Bavaria to join in the celebrations.
But if you can't afford a plane ticket to München, you can always celebrate at home.  Just remember to raise a glass to Ludwig and Therese.

Hopefully you've been celebrating our Beer Week festivities, which, yes, was totally scheduled to coincide with the first week of Oktoberfest.  You'll have to figure out your own festivities next week.  I'd recommend checking out the ponies.  Ludwig would like that.

In my homage to Ludwig and Therese, I opted to start at a favorite location that has its own long history in the Tempe area: Four Peaks Brewery.  The building that now houses the brewery was once a creamery, and the red brick stands out against the stucco that surrounds it today (check out the website for old and current photos - you'll love them).
If you live in the Valley, you are likely familiar with the two beers that Four Peaks bottles and has made available in stores: 8th Street Ale, an English brown ale, and Kilt Lifter, their best-selling Scottish style ale that is intended to be similar to those ales brewed in Edinburgh.  In fact, Kilt Lifter is so popular that the October issue of Phoenix Magazine allows readers a tour of the brewing process.
But while I adore Kilt Lifter - so much so that I managed to ship Megan an entire six-pack a few months ago - when I go to Four Peaks, there is only one beer for me: the Arizona Peach Ale.
I first experienced it when The Husband and I went to Teakwoods for lunch a few months ago.  Teakwoods is one of the local restaurants that serves Arizona Peach Ale on tap, and I was surprised that The Husband ordered it, as he doesn't tend to enjoy "fruity" beers.
"It's not really fruity," he said.  "Here.  Take a sip."
Fateful words.
I know, sexy pic.
Try not to be jealous.
Before you take a big, fat gulp like you see me doing here, you need to take a moment and bring the beer up to your nose to take in the aroma.  Immediately, you'll be transported from wherever you are to a peach orchard.  It's ridiculous, really.  Fresh Arizona peaches.  In your beer.  It's almost mesmerizing.  You get the flowery sweetness that is identical to the perfume of a freshly plucked peach.  But the beer is anything but sweet.  While you can taste the peach on the back end, the beer is a light, clean, and refreshing ale that is perfect for the Arizona heat.  The peach just finishes each sip off so smoothly, and perhaps the only aspect of "sweet" that there might be is that there is no bitterness from beginning to end.  There is no syrupy aftertaste or heaviness in the fruitiness of this Arizona Peach Ale.  It's just as perfectly accessorized as Coco Chanel.
So in the last few weeks, I have found almost every excuse possible to trek over to Tempe in order to have a dinner date or a "late lunch" at Four Peaks.
Because the beer is good, and so is the food.  Get the salmon BLT.  You're welcome.
While the brewery is in the heart of Tempe, right by ASU, you'd think that it would be a crowded, college hangout.  But in all actuality, there are only a handful of students that you might see; the regular crowd will include families and professionals, all competing for a parking spot close to the front door.  There is room for young kids, as long as they don't sit at the bar, so the atmosphere is welcoming for anyone who walks in.

I love the industrial-red brick combo on the inside.
Sorry, though, that all my patio snaps were too dark to use;
it's quite lovely out there.
Unfortunately, until The Husband catches on to my hints about the growler of Arizona Peach that I think should live in our fridge and/or the brewery decides that I need to have six-packs available to me at my local grocery store, I have to get my fix at Four Peaks (I know - first world problem right here).  In the meantime, I'll be buying that six-pack of Kilt Lifter.  And using it in All The Things.

Like a German-style spicy mustard.

And ale-soaked sweet potato oven fries.  Served with said spicy mustard and bratwurst.  Because Ludwig and Therese would have wanted it that way.

And, because no course of a meal should ever be without beer, a maple-ale frozen custard for dessert.

Let's look a little more closely, shall we?
Basically, when we planned Beer Week, I had originally only intended to rave about Four Peaks and their Arizona Peach ale, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to take the opportunity to play around with the beer, even if it wasn't the beer I go to Four Peaks to drink.
Having had great luck (and tons of positive feedback) with the Guinness mustard I made for St. Patrick's Day (a.k.a. The Great Brisket Freakout of 2012), I figured that using Kilt Lifter in a mustard would be a cinch, although I wanted something a little more spicy and closer to the mustards that I loved when I lived in Regensburg as a student.  Good thing I found this recipe from Serious Eats to play around with and tweak thus:

Spicy German-Style Kilt Lifter Ale Mustard
(adapted from Serious Eats)
  • 1/3 cup each yellow and brown mustard seeds (I've found that I prefer the 50-50 combo of the two different seeds over having a greater percent of the yellow seeds)
  • 1/2 cup organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (it should have "the mother" in it, although try not to use it in the mustard)
  • 1 cup Kilt Lifter, divided into 1/2-cup measurements
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric (this is what gives mustard its beautiful yellow color)
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
Drink any remaining Kilt Lifter once you've measured out the cup needed in the recipe.
Combine the mustard seeds, the vinegar, and 1/2 cup of the ale; refrigerate at least overnight (or, until you have a free second).
Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of the ale and all other ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until just boiling.  Remove from heat and cool slightly (I would recommend doing this about 30 minutes before you plan to mix everything together).
In a blender, combine the mustard seeds and their liquid with the liquid from the saucepan.  Puree until smooth, although the brown seeds will remain solid.  Transfer to a pretty jar and refrigerate until you are ready to slather it over a properly made bratwurst (read: not national chain) or dunk some pommes frites into it.

And speaking of pommes frites...
All you have to do here is cut up some sweet potatoes (or any potatoes, I guess), soak them in Kilt Lifter for 15-20 minutes (you may have to toss it a few times), drain them, toss them in olive oil and seasoning, and then cook on a VERY well-oiled cookie sheet, into a 425° oven for 30-40 minutes, tossing at least once.  If you are using sweet potatoes, make sure that, unlike me, you are careful not to let them burn.  Or stick to the cookie sheet (my definition of "very" well oiled sheet was insufficient).
As a note, since I was using sweet potatoes, I thought we'd need a salty, savory combo, so my seasoning of choice was Bacon Salt, and I'd recommend that you do the same.

The above, of course, are best served with bratwurst, freshly grilled and topped with the mustard, caramelized onions, sauerkraut, and leek relish, and eaten while worshipping at the shrine of college football.
Go, Devils!

But as much as I love College GameDay and cheering on my beloved Devils while horking down ridiculous amounts of pub grub and washing it down with a favorite local beer (I mean, HONESTLY, what compares to that), this week, the star was the dessert.
As you might have figured out, I love maple syrup.  If you hadn't, now you know.  So of course I needed to find an ice cream recipe that combined maple and beer.
It turns out that I am not the first person to think that this is The Best Idea For Ice Cream Ever.  Not like I was surprised.  At first, I found a gingerbread ice cream recipe that I figured I could use, swapping the maple syrup for the molasses and omitting ALL the spices, but then I stumbled across this fabulous recipe for Peak Organic Maple Oat Ale Walnut ice cream over at Drink Craft Beer (bookmarked) that I knew was Perfect.
Of course, I used Kilt Lifter instead of the Peak Organic, so at first, I was a little nervous.  A Scottish style ale is totally different than an ale made with oats and maple syrup, and who knew if it would work in the same way?
Well, it did.
The reduction of the Kilt Lifter made me even more nervous, as the beer has a smoky aspect to it, which really came out when it was reduced from 22 ounces to 1/2 cup.  I mean, wow.  But what also came out was an almost coffee-like bitterness that was fantastic, I mean FREAKING FANTASTIC when combined with the sweet creaminess of this recipe.
Which, I should point out, is actually a frozen custard recipe, due to the addition of the egg yolks and the higher percentage of fat (thanks to the cream and half-and-half called for in the recipe instead of cream and milk).
OK, so basically, what you need to know is this: the Kilt Lifter really made this recipe.  I'm sure it would have been really good without the beer.  But it was really, really, REALLY good WITH the beer.  Since it was a creamier custard, and the maple syrup so sweet, the coffee-like bitterness of the ale reduction made a wonderful finish to each bite.  I think that without the beer, it honestly would have been too cloying.  With the beer, it was incredible.
Since we had plans to go to a dinner party at the house of some friends, I opted to take the custard as part of the dessert offering.
Now, aside from the fact that I had to share with several other people, this was a fabulous idea, as the other half of the dessert was a homemade tiramisu.  And since tiramisu is made with espresso, it was a slam-bam knockout combination.

I'm just glad that there was leftover custard that I was able to bring home and continue to sneak by the spoonful straight from the freezer.
All right, Four Peaks.  You already serve your delicious stoutamisu, made with your Oatmeal Stout.  Now I have the perfect accompaniment for it.  You're welcome.
(Now, could you please sell Arizona Peach Ale in bottles or cans?  Pretty please?)

So now... in case you missed any of the wonderful Beer Week posts, please make sure you check them out.  Do it for Ludwig and Therese.
  • Kirsten (Comfortably Domestic) kicked off the week with an amazing biography of a friend of hers who just happens to be a home brewer taking that passion and turning it into a livelihood.  I'm making The Husband read this one carefully.
  • Jeanne (Inside NanaBread's Head) offered an incredible dark chocolate espresso stout cake topped with a caramel and Kahlua whipped cream (I KNOW, RIGHT?????)
  • Kat (Tenaciously Yours,), who also writes for Minnesota Beer Activists, made me want to move to Minnesota even more with her overview of Gasthof's Oktoberfest.  There's something for everyone here.
  • Madeline (Munching in the Mitten), my former student, made a pumpkin beer bread, perfect for those crisp autumn days that we don't get here in Arizona.
  • Anne (From My Sweet Heart) made beer pretzel caramels - can I get a yum yum?
  • Lauren (Climbing Grier Mountain) made a pale ale shrimp po' boy that may actually convince my husband to move to Denver in order to get closer to it.
  • Beka (Kvetchin' Kitchen), who is the newest addition to our reindeer games, jumped right in with a review of the Outlander brewery, which I MUST check out when I'm in Seattle next.
  • Megan (Wanne Be a Country Cleaver), who knows the sweet, sweet taste of Kilt Lifter already, made my German heart go pitter pat with her schnitzel and dumplings.
  • Mads (La Petite Pancake) whipped up some beer battered shrimp tacos that I am dying for right now.
  • Carrie (Bakeaholic Mama) is helping finish off Beer Week tomorrow by opting to focus on a cider (an early American staple) recipe with her Woodchuck sweet potato bisque.
  • Katie (The Hill Country Cook) joins up with us again to share her review of the Double Horn Brewery.  TOOT TOOT!
  • And Kirsten is back tomorrow too, wrapping up the week with a black and tan brownie that my own black and tan girl would kill to get her grubby paws on if chocolate weren't so deadly to dogs. 
And lastly, because we can't celebrate a wedding without music, fill your glass one last time and get down to my favorite German beer song (you can find the lyrics here if you want to sing along, which I know you do).

And one more thing - please don't forget the Life For Lily Virtual Run next Friday through Sunday.  Your steps (you don't have to run - don't worry!) can make the biggest difference for a little girl fighting something harder than any of us can ever imagine.  So find your favorite kicks, sign up, and make a donation.  Your heart will never regret any of it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night*

Coming on the heels of two fairly self-centered blog posts in a row, you may take pause at my sincerity, but various events of this week have served to re-focus me on what actually is important.
Hopefully, in your perusings of this little blog, you've read the Life for Lily Virtual Run page, and, even more hopefully, perhaps you'd decided to participate and make a donation to help Lily.  And I have to tell you that if Lily's story tore your heart out like it does mine, you need to read on.  If Lily's story didn't tear your heart out, that's OK, but you need to read on, too.
As I noted in my posting on that page, this is Lily's second battle with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), and the family has chosen not to pursue traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatments this time.
The thing is, there aren't other treatments out there.
And in fact, there aren't that many chemotherapy treatments for Lily, either, seeing as during her first round of it, she reached the lifetime limits on many of the drugs that are used to combat ARMS.
So what IS out there is "experimental," at best.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Alicia told me today that there are few, if any, alternative treatments for pediatric cancers.  Why, I don't really know; she told me something about how most of the medical community told her they didn't want to risk using kids as guinea pigs, but considering there are plenty of "clinical trials" for various chemotherapy drugs, I am tempted to scream "BS" in all its letters at the top of my lungs at anyone who  made that argument.
What's worse is that because of lifetime limits, etc., recurrence of more rare pediatric cancers such as ARMS, the prognosis overall is not good (I can't even tell you how mildly that's putting it - I have no words to actually articulate the negativity surrounding these prognoses).
Basically, during our conversation, Alicia said that there are members of the medical community who have told the family that they can try to treat Lily, but they should not expect any miracles.

And a miracle is what it's going to take.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Well, I'm sorry.  I am not really one to resign myself to the impossible, so here I am, looking for that miracle.
This is the part of the conversation in which we talk about accepting The Plan meant for us.  Knowing that Our Plan is often different from The Plan.  Which is rather a departure, as this realm isn't really something I have ever discussed here.
Here's the thing.  I KNOW that sometimes the answer to a prayer isn't the one that I'm looking for.  I can sit here and tell you with every ounce of rationality and logic that I have that despite my grief at losing my own dad, his death made me a better person and served to point me in the direction of fundraising for colon cancer and advocacy of blood donation.
But when Logos Allison comes up against Pathos Allison, there's nothing that can be done to satisfy Pathos Allison.  She's pissed off, and you're going to hear about it.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I can accept The Plan at some point, but that doesn't mean I accept it now.  If I accept The Plan right now, that means that I stop.
I just... stop.
What would be the point of continuing to ask, urge, beg, petition, entreat, and beseech you to sign up for and make a donation for the Life for Lily Virtual Run if I accepted The Plan right now?
I GET IT that there is a finality for all of us.  And that finality can might come suddenly, and it might be stretched out over time.  We might know it's coming, and we might never know until it happens.
But those final hours aren't here yet, and I will not stop seeking that miracle.  Giving in to The Plan doesn't mean giving up, and so HERE I AM, looking for a miracle

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Will you signing up for the Life for Lily Virtual Run make a difference?
Will it cure her cancer?
Probably not.
But it can help bring relief to the pain she is feeling.  It can allow the family to make better use of their time together.  And can ensure that the plans the family is making and will be making are able to be seen through.
And that's a big difference.
We never really do know what or when a miracle will occur.  We just have to keep working for one, looking for one, praying for one.  I will accept The Plan, but right now My Plan is to fight it.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Yes, I suppose you can tell me that I'm just in denial.  Maybe you might wonder if I'm not unintentionally hurting Alicia and her family in some way in refusing to accept Things As They Will Be.
Dear God, I pray that I'm not.
I pray that my actions may help reduce the suffering of others.  Somehow.
And of course, that miracle I've been mentioning would be good right about now, too.

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Photo: Dream Lenz Photography

*"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," Dylan Thomas (originally published 1951)