We Did It!

We did it! With 33 sponsors and in just 20 days, we raised $2,414 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation!  I can't thank you enough for your generosity and encouragement as I have been training and fundraising for this big event — the Susan G. Komen 3-Day — in which I will walk 60 miles in three days.  Thank you for your support!

I'm also excited and honored to announce that the San-Diego-based team I joined on this adventure — TEAM: Powered By Optimism — has eclipsed the $250,000 mark in our fundraising efforts. QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS, y'all!  If you donated to my campaign, then YOU personally helped make this happen.  We appreciate you! 

I leave Alaska this Thursday for San Diego, and Friday is when things get really serious — and fun.  Quite possibly, this will be one of the most physically demanding things I've ever done — but it will be worth it.  I look forward to sharing this journey with you.  

The Day of All Saints

Since losing my Mom in March, I have appreciated the gentle guidance of a page-a-day journal called "Healing After Loss." Today's meditation was on the topic of the "communion of saints" — the fellowship between the living and the departed. It was a fitting subject because today, the 1st of November, also happens to be All Saints' Day.

Admittedly, I never really paid much attention to this day of remembrance when I was growing up in the Deep South. It seems I was always recovering from the sugar high of Halloween or more focused on trading candy with my parents and my friends.

I'm thankful that today, my lovely friends, Jenny and Chelsea, introduced me to the tradition of All Saints' Day when they hosted a potluck in honor of the occasion.

Their invitation simply stated, "You are invited to bring anything to share which reminds you of those {saints} you love." I knew instantly what to contribute. That's right, you guessed it: Momma's peach cobbler. Other than that, I wasn't sure what else to expect for the evening.

As folks gathered together in the cozy space of my friends' home, we had a smorgasbord of memorial dishes laid before us — lasagna from a WWII recipe, mashed potatoes with a secret ingredient, broccoli and mayo, white chicken enchiladas, kielbasa in pumpkin porter, grandpa's pecan pie, grandma's peanut brittle, decadent chocolate sauce, and saucy finger lickin' good barbecue ribs.

We sat around eating and sharing our cherished memories and celebrating our Loved Ones. It was a deeply touching evening, one I hope to take part in again next year.

Here's to the blessing of shared memories, warm hugs, and the comforting presence of dear friends. May the memory of your Loved Ones be eternal.


Making Their Case

Thankfully, it happens just once every four years -- the first debate between presidential candidates.  Like many Americans, I am looking forward to this election season being over -- and with just 42 days to go, Election Day can't get here quickly enough.

This evening, my good friend Richard and I co-hosted a viewing party of what turned out to be a rousing debate (no surprise there) between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Richard invited his friends, I invited mine, and it was a wonderful inter-mingling of folks from different backgrounds, everyone eager to listen to our next Commander in Chief (whoever that may be).  

We reserved the "Owner's Box," a big private room at McGivney's Sports Bar and Grill in downtown Juneau.  Hats off to McGivney's staff for their attentive service, especially with my insistence that televisions were all set to different channels, so we could see the variety of coverage.  And, oh, was there a variety of coverage amongst CNN, FOX News, and Free Speech TV!

It was so much fun having a secluded space to broadcast the debate on the multiple big screens.  The reclining theater-style seats were a big hit, too.  Richard's friend, Bev, organized entertaining bingo cards, fortunately taking the place of any drinking game that could have been disastrous.  About 30 people came out for the festivities, and I'm happy to say there was no fighting or bad temperament!

But the best part of the evening here in Juneau?  On the block for the winner of the bingo game: a 1992 vintage Ross Perot sweatshirt, donated from Richard's personal collection.  At the end of the 90-minute debate, I didn't win, but I sure had fun trying.


G'Day Mate

Alaska brings people together.  Case in point: during my First Friday exhibit earlier this month in downtown Juneau, my first customers of the evening were a cute couple of tourists who came into the store and walked straight up to me, letting out a sudden and LOUD squeal.  I stared back at them blankly, wondering to myself, "Oh boy, this is going to be interesting!"  And interesting it quickly became. 

As the woman spoke rapidly, I noticed her charming Australian accent.  I hollered when I realized who was standing in front of me.  At first I didn't recognize them because it had been four years since I had last seen them, when we first met during a day cruise to Tracy Arm Fjord. But lo and behold, there they were - Barb and Tony Blair, my friends from Melbourne, Australia. 

Barb and Tony had been traveling through Alaska for five weeks, so they hadn't been on Facebook yet to see the announcement about my art show.  They just happened to be in Juneau, walking down Seward Street when they saw the sidewalk sign advertising my show.  Recognizing my name, they waltzed right in and gave me such a big surprise!

We were able to catch up over lunch a week later when they found themselves traveling through Juneau again.  It was so wonderful to share a meal with my two friends from Down Under.  Needless to say, I'm looking forward to seeing them again - and next time it'll on their home turf - Australia in 2016!

Barb and Tony gave me a big surprise during my First Friday show.

All smiles in Juneau, Alaska.

One must take a selfie with friends when they visit from halfway across the world! I just adore Barb's sweet expression in this picture. 

Catching up over lunch at the Sandpiper Cafe.

FLASHBACK: I took this photo in 2011 when I first met Barb and Tony.  They were all smiles then - and still are!

FLASHBACK: The precious couple on an Adventure Bound cruise to Tracy Arm Fjord in 2011.