Tuesday, December 18, 2012

my last night being 50

wow! and what a year it was!!

i didn't make my goal of doing 50 things i've never done before, but i did 27!! and out of that 27 there were three that were real highlights.

the first was the triathlon where i raised money to support the leukemia & lymphoma society. this was such an adventure, but so totally out of my comfort zone. but i really am proud of this one and proud of all the people who helped me achieve my fundraising goal. i believe i really did help someone by doing what i did, but also learning that i can't do everything by myself. life lesson learned.

the second was my volunteering to be a poll (yes, remember two Ls) worker during the 2012 elections. this really was a lifelong dream and i am soooooo glad i did it. there aren't many opportunities these days to really feel like you are contributing to the political process of democracy for which we all are so proud. this was an easy way to do it. amazingly, people thanked me for being there. i thanked them for giving me a reason to be there. it was a mutual admiration society and it, at least for a little while, restored my faith in my fellow americans.

the third is signing up for the american cancer society study. i come from a very small family, and i have no experience with relatives with any long-term or short-term sicknesses. at least that's what i used to tell myself, until i remembered that my stepfather died from pancreatic cancer. and that i had a scare with breast cancer. and my husband has a form of skin cancer. so signing up for this study is a really easy way to help. i filled out a form, gave a little blood and that was it. who knows? maybe it will help someone avoid the traumas of cancer.

but it's also been a year of growth, of new lessons learned, old lessons reinforced, and even a few disappointments along the way.

but the biggest lesson of all this year, was the fact that i don't have to do new things all the time (or any time), not that it wasn't fun to think of and accomplish. but that i have such blessings in my life in the form of my family and friends and, even, myself. that i still choose to get excited about little things like fireworks, shooting stars (still haven't seen one, but i hope), dancing for no reason, singing out of tune, and generally trying to squeeze all the life out of a day, a minute, a moment. trying to get that good out of the bad. it's not always easy, and as a matter of fact, it's not even always possible. but the possibility is always there.

this 50th year, for me, taught me so much that i have no choice but to be a changed person moving forward. and, that's good and that's bad. because change is hard, sometimes, but it's also good, sometimes.

good-bye year 50. it was fun. i'm a little sad. fifty-one just doesn't have the same ring to it. but it's certainly better than the alternative. :-)

maybe 51@51? i could work harder at it ... maybe.

Friday, November 23, 2012

new thanksgiving traditions...probably not

happy thanksgiving, everybody!!

i have such a love/hate relationship with this holiday. the prospect of having fun with family and friends is wonderful. the cooking . . . aaaarrrrggggghhhhh!!! the pressure, the pressure!! even after having done it for years.

this year, i had a few firsts. the first first, was letting my children contribute to the meal. my daughter purchased the groceries, my oldest son made sweet potato casserole and my youngest son provided the beverages. that is a FIRST!!

secondly, i decided to make something new . . . cranberry relish. sounded innocent enough. oranges, apples, cranberries, cinnamon, sugar, brandy. what's not to like? it was on NPR!!!!

the recipe started off by calling for the zest of four oranges. so there's another first . . . i have never zested anything. i've heard about it, probably seen it on the tv, but that's all.

luckily for me, al gore invented the internet and i googled how to zest an orange. and just let me say, knowing how to do it, and doing it are two different things. zesting fruits could be added to anyone's upper arm workout. sheesh. i think i broke into a sweat!!!

next, up is putting the items in a food processor on pulse. well, oops, i . . . kinda don't have a food processor. so, once again, i turn to al gore's internet. the suggestion . . . giant ziploc bag.

so i got a large ziploc bag. i also tried a small blender i have with a pulse feature.

between the two, i got the cranberries squashed and the oranges pureed. not sure that's what the recipe called for, but, oh well. i went with the hand chopping of the apples. it was tasty. there was also enough for a small army!!!

but the test would be when the picky former ankle-biters came over. i finally convinced each of them to try it. and they all liked it...kinda, sorta. we all came to the same conclusion . . . it was good, but what was it for. we figured it would go well with the turkey breast, and it did. it was a little sweet and orangy for my taste but it was still . . . tasty.

the rest of the dinner was pretty traditional . . . turkey, dressing, macaroni & cheese, candied yams, collard greens (courtesy of my daughter), crescent rolls and pumpkin pie. oh, and that delicious sweet potato casserole. :-)

during this whole thing, i also wound up tasting brandy for the first time (drinking liquid fire doesn't appeal to me at all), and drinking dragonberry vodka (extreeeeeeemely tasty). tooooo tasty.

but the best part is the part that will never be something i've never done . . . enjoying the company of my family on this most special of holidays. luckily for us, it's just another chance for us to do what we do every day of the year. appreciate, respect and love each other with a fierce loyalty and dependability that will never diminish over time or space.

in that way, i will NEVER worry about doing something i've never done before...why would i want to?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

first furman basketball game for me...and da boss!!

wow!  and it only took five years (well, almost five years)

as everyone well knows by now, i am a pretty BIG professional football fan. (i find i have to preface football with professional, or else people will be telling me about the tigers, gamecocks, aggies, or some such college affiliation . . . or rugby).

also, as some of you know, we have da boss (aka, grandson, aka big meanie, aka the boy who stole my heart) on friday nights for sleepovers.

entertaining an 18-month old is a LOT easier than entertaining a five (soon-to-be-six) year old, especially when the weather outside is frightful and he doesn't care if the fire's delightful.

soooooo...furman to the rescue. the athletic department sent out a reminder . . . the furman paladins basketball team will take on the clemson tigers team. not only that, but ESPN3 will be broadcasting the game. kinda exciting! but, MOST IMPORTANTLY . . . FREE ADMISSION AND FREE FOOD!!! and i mean food-pizza, hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, nachos...wahooooooooweeeee!

hmmmm...what to do, what to do? well, go to the game of course!!

it was a lot of fun. da boss had his binocs with him and was able to watch from the upper level. he got his fill of pizza, chips and sodas (because what else are grandparents for?), he got to meet shannice aka ktla, future tv broadcaster (and one of my library student assistants), hear the band, watch the cheerleaders and the dance troupe, and see a live basketball game.

a good time was had by all!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

i'm bleeeeeeeeeding for america!

yes, i spilled my blood for this country yesterday. and i'm not even in the military (and lucky for you i'm not, trust me)

no i am not crazy. but i am really getting in the spirit of this helping out thing. first the poll worker assignment and now this. what is this?

the american cancer society's cancer prevention study-3 (CPS-3). talk about an easy way to help people.

a little background: i come from a very small family. i am the only child of only children. i have no sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles or cousins. i was raised by my mother and her mother (my nanny)!

being from a small family, being a somewhat introvert (yes, i AM!!) who doesn't have a lot of friends, i have kinda been blessed in the fact that i have not had to face a lot of sickness in my life, either my own, my family's or my friends.

however, my stepfather died of pancreatic cancer and THAT is something i wouldn't wish on my worst enemy for the pain it inflicts on the person who has it, and their loved ones.

so, come to think of it, i have been affected. so when this opportunity came up, i jumped at it. why? mainly, and honestly, because it was sooooo easy! all i had to do was fill out a questionnaire (okay, they asked questions that i really had to use my memory for, but other than that it was okay). then i went over to my local hospital, gave 70 gallons of blood (okay, maybe that's an exaggeration since the human body only has about a gallon and a half, but it was a still a lot...okay, it was only 4 vials but it looked like a lot).

oh, yeah, the most traumatic part of the whole thing . . . they took my waist measurement!!! grrrr...

that was it. took less than 15 minutes. well worth the half day off from work that i took for the purpose of serving my country. :-)

sadly, statistics say that 1 out of 3 people will be affected by cancer at some point in their life.

i'm glad this study came along and i'm glad that because of the blessings in my life, i can participate. in this study. i know i am in a minority of folks. hopefully, my blessing will be a blessing to others.

if you are between the ages of 30 and 65 and have NO personal history of cancer, please consider joining this historic study. with a presidential election a week old, veterans day a few days passed, i can't think of an easier and better way to give a little for something that affects so many.

If you are interested in becoming a member of this historic study, please see the Locations of Enrollment page that highlights the various locations in your community that will be conducting CPS-3 enrollment.

and then you can walk around with a big smile on your heart . . . like me!

Friday, November 9, 2012

most important @50 - working the poll!

today's post is about the most important thing i did on my list of 50@50...i worked the poll!

no, not THAT pole . . . the POLL. the voting poll!! this year, for the first time, i did something i've wanted to do for all my adult life...i worked in a polling station during an election. and not just any election, a presidential election.

i've been voting ever since i could (including 1960 where i'm absolutely positive i voted for JFK in vitro!)

in reality, i've been voting since 1980, when i cast my first vote for jimmy carter, at the tender age of 18.

i've voted in just about every election i could ever since. mayor? check. governor? check. dog catcher . . . possibly. check. presidential? check.

and ever since that first time, when you had to pull a curtain around your voting station...i've been almost addicted to voting. i LOVE it. it's such an easy and simple way (well, not so simple if you take it seriously) to be engaged in your own country's democratic and governmental processes.

i LOVE voting.

why? well, for one, what i said above, but for another, it's a way to tangibly give something back to generations before you who stood up for you without even knowing you or that you would ever even exist.

i tell everyone i've ever met, if the subject comes up, why it's important to vote. no matter your race or gender, someone died for you to have the right to vote. the revolutionary war was fought for our american freedoms, which allowed white men to take responsibility for their own futures.

the mistreatment of women suffragettes in 1917 in occoquan workhouse prison in virginia, including beatings and forcefeedings, all because they picketed the white house for the right to vote. this and other activities by more well-known individuals led to the passage of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote.

it took the 15th amendment of 1870 AND the civil rights voting act of 1965 to ensure that persons of ALL races would have the right to vote.  (of course, it took tennessee until 1997 to ratify the 15th amendment...hmmmm)

fast forward to the 21st century, and it takes a lot of work by dedicated individuals to make our election process run smoothly and with integrity.

in order to be a poll manager (actual title), you have to take a mandatory 3.5 hour class. i had a wonderful instructor who was enthusiastic and patriotic about what we were doing. then there is online training and the next thing you know...the BIG days is here!

and what a day it was!! omg!! i worked with the most amazing people, two of which have been doing  this for over 20 years!!! mr. sandis sullivan and ms. yvonne reeder were the poll clerk (in charge) and 2nd-in-command, respectively.  i asked each of them what made them get involved that first time.

sandis paused, and then said "to be involved." to see what it really takes to keep this democracy of ours going. yvonne said,"my mentors." she was encouraged to become more involved in the political process. she's quick to point out that elected office is not in her future. "i'm an agitator," she says with a knowing wink.

i had the BEST time with my team at the poll. our ages ranged from late 20s to early 70s. black and white. we all worked together to make sure EVERYONE was given to ability to vote.

we especially celebrated our FIRST TIME voters, most of whom were 18 or 19 years of age. but we had two "young" ladies come in to vote for the first time, who were clearly in their 40s. that was joyous to see.

what else did i see? people coming to the polls using canes and walkers. dragging oxygen bottles. walking extremely slowly. or using curbside service because their age or frailty of health made it too difficult to come inside the poll. and some making the struggle to come inside. inspiring? absolutely!

many people thanked us at the polling station for volunteering.  i didn't expect that. it seems people really appreciated what we were doing. it's true, though. you have to arrive at the poll an hour before opening, which was 6:00 am. and you don't leave until after the polls close (7:00 pm) and you've cleaned up the area, broken down the voting machines, put away tables, printed off tallys, shut down computers, taken down signage and generally put the place back the way you found it. it's a long day, but it didn't feel that way.

i have been voting for 32 years. i thought that was a long time. some people have been voting longer than i've been alive. and one woman in spartanburg, south carolina, voted for the first time at 106 years of age. now THAT'S a FIRST!!

i am proud to have had the opportunity to serve my community, my state and my country to help people exercise their hard-fought RIGHT to vote, even if we didn't do the fighting. but we benefit so much from those that did.

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

those that fought and died over generations to enable us to enjoy freedoms today were the tree planters. by exercising our rights to vote, we enjoy that shade, but we also acknowledge the tree planters sacrifice and, hopefully, plant our own trees at the same time by example.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

life gets in the way and shows the way!

i can't believe it's been a couple of months since i've updated this 50@50 blog and only a month a half to go before my 50th year is over!!

believe it or not, i have done some stuff, but damn if i can remember what they were. old age?

one of the most interesting and fun, however, was witnessing (via webcam) the live birth of a baby giraffe!

what?? i know, right? get out! shut up!!

background: i live very close to the greenville zoo which is home to autumn and walter, two masai giraffes. well, it seems as though walter and autumn got jiggy, and autumn became pregnant.

giraffes take their sweet time about birthing . . . 15 months to be exact.

a couple of weeks before autumn was due, the greenville zoo sent out an announcement about her pregnancy and that she would be due "any day." they even had giraffecams set up so you could watch autumn and walter in their barn and in their paddock outside.

well, "any day" stretched into two weeks. two weeks where i became enamored with autumn (i'm a BIG giraffe fan) and started monitoring the webcam constantly. yes, this also meant work productivity suffered, but really, productivity is a relative term.

well, fast forward to a monday night. normally, as you know, i would be watching monday night football. well, the game was of no interest to me, so i meandered over to facebook where my friend dottie was talking about the giraffecam. which reminded me that i hadn't checked in. and, lo and behold, AUTUMN WAS IN LABOR!

i was hooked from that moment on, until shortly before midnight, when a baby giraffe was born, live, on the webcam, in front of my eyes. he was little...and blue...and not moving...and the suspense was palpable.

then, some breathing. then, a twitch. and another twitch, and then a leg moves. then another. and the next thing you know, there's a moving baby giraffe. but the best part . . . then there's a baby giraffe who is trying to walk. and, within an hour, walk he did. to see that is just a reminder of the beauty and power of life.

[autumn, kiko, walter]

Monday, August 27, 2012

سلام و خوش آمدید - hello and welcome

aha . . . you probably thought something was wrong with your computer, or your browser or something.

but fear not, this is a long-delayed post for 50@50. yes, i'm still here and i'm still FIF-TAY!!!!

a little bit of life got in the way (and some laziness), but i'm going to have to pick up the pace if i'm gonna get to fifty things before 11:59 pm on december 18th!

so, this is  #29 - my persian meal.

one of my co-workers, the lovely, talented janet, good 'ole southern girl, has been married to mano for oh, some such years. mano is of eastern heritage, and i don't mean new york. he is from iran and is quite fond of his persian delicacies. and leave it to janet to have taken to it with gusto since her newlywed days.

janet provided a persian new year meal for our library last year, and to celebrate the completion of a recent project, she offered to fix up another yummy persian delight. here's the mano, ummm, i mean menu:

Adas Polo (the vegetarian option with basmati rice, lentils, raisins, barberries and onions – it won’t be vegan because I will use some butter)

Khoreshte Bademjune(Eggplant stew with beef, yellow peas, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, spices and potatoes) 

Salad Shirazi : chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, with mint and other herbs and seasonings (I will not have the fancy tomato rose – I am not that skilled!!) she lied . . . she is!! 

needless to say, because of janet's talent, it was delicious. and i thank her for giving me another addition to my list and another edition of 50@50. see what i did there? addition, edition. oh, i crack myself up.

next time . . .