Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Friday, September 28, 2012

Harvest Lunch

We stood in line for veggies. In my younger days, when I was cultivating a close personal relationship with at least twenty-five of Baskin-Robbins’s 31 Flavors, never did I imagine eagerly awaiting a luncheon harvested from the gardens of friends and neighbors. But, the annual Harvest Lunch in Coos Bay is irresistible. It’s a perfect introduction to some vegetables that folks may never have tasted -- or ones they might feel hesitant to cook at home. 

For seven years now, the Southwest Community Garden Association and Chef Jardin Kazaar of Black Market Gourmet have cooked up a bounteous vegetable feast that’s worth standing in line to get.

Master gardeners provide the produce from their community garden plots and from their own home gardens as well. Kristen and Jardin Kazaar and their staff prep all the food and transport it, along with their portable grill and other catering gear, and orchestrate the whole event.

Patrons pour out of downtown offices and businesses, hustling to Ladybug Landing, the site of the original community garden in this area. Today, four additional community gardens thrive in nearby towns throughout Coos County. 

 Walking down our hill to the garden, Judy and I found our friend Karen (who is also one of the community garden founders) greeting everyone. A number of our buddies already had gathered. About half had just worked out together at the fitness center’s morning classes. For some of us, it was the chance to get together with folks whom we’d not yet seen this summer.

We helped ourselves to homegrown leaf lettuce with cherry tomatoes, drizzling Black Market Gourmet’s delicious, from-scratch raspberry vinaigrette over the top. Next, a marinated salad of yellow squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes awaited. We made our way down the line, where Jessica and Chef Jardin heaped our plates with rice and curry and a stir-fried vegetable mélange containing an assortment of greens, eggplant, squash, onions, green beans, and whatever else the master gardeners had harvested. It was colorful, gorgeous and delicious! And, healthy.

This event is one more opportunity for community bonding. We get to take in the lovely fall garden surroundings and soak up the beauty and peacefulness of the garden. One thing I loved was seeing all the people seated on bales of hay amongst the raised beds in the garden proper, visiting and eating.

Designated “runners” dashed in to pick up lunch for their co-workers. These angels swooped in and carted away stacks of take out cartons. Someone in line said, “We’ve been waiting all year for this!”

But, it wasn’t all veggies. Dessert was a mixture of freshly-picked berries cascading over a yummy, local vanilla ice cream. (Eat your heart out, Baskin-Robbins!). It was a perfect ending to the Harvest Lunch of 2012.

Now we wait, already anticipating next year.
~ xoA ~

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Doing "The PRE"

In this small coastal town of Coos Bay, Oregon, there’s always something going on. But, a single event that unifies this community occurs in mid-September. It’s “The PRE”.  In early July, Downtown Health & Fitness starts their “10 Weeks to a 10K” boot camp during which previous years’ racers and newbies prepare for the big day. Soon, people are asking everyone, “Are you doing The Pre this year?”

That’s short for the Steve Prefontaine Memorial Run, an annual race that commemorates the life and gifts of Steve Prefontaine, international track star and Coos Bay’s favorite son. 
Bonnie boogies on after the turn-around.
Hey, we're not last! Judy, me, Mary

This year marks the 33rd running of the 10K that takes participants over one of Pre’s favorite training courses. It’s a hilly route that begins in the heart of downtown, snakes out along Ocean Boulevard and over “Agony Hill” to the turn-around at the cemetery, over 3 miles out.We end passing by the Prefontaine family home and onto the Marshfield High School track, where we do that last quarter-mile to the finish line.

What? Consecutive race numbers!

In anticipation of the start, a carnival atmosphere infuses the nippy air. Some runners are costumed in wild leggings, others in tutus and weird hats. Most of us are moving around to stay warm in our light-weight clothing, chosen because we know that soon we’ll be hot sweaty. Some jog about the area, warming up or running out their “nerves.”  Participants search out and meet friends, taking photos and reminiscing about past Pres. Onlookers and well-wishers mingle with runners.

Long-time, hometown friends Marilyn and Mary assert that they aren’t nervous nowadays; it’s not like in past times when they were “real runners.” Today, they just want to finish.
Looking over Marilyn's shoulder at the crowd ahead

There’s our gun! And, we are off, a mass of humanity flowing west through downtown streets before the crowd spreads out, the real runners pulling away and the rest of us starting our first uphill climb.

Laurie - her 32nd annual race

Our friend Laurie has run in 32 of these races. Judy has walked and jogged it four times since 2005, and I’ve walked The Pre twice. This year, both Laurie and Judy took 3rd place in their respective age groups!

Judy was so surprised!

Marilyn's almost there!

For Marilyn and Mary, it is a panorama of familiar faces and old friends in both directions. Those whom they know are either running or walking in the race, too, or lining the streets, cheering and shouting encouragement. Amid the waves, smiles, and greetings, Marilyn says, “I love this! Seeing practically my whole life unfold before me in one day!”

Official time 1:40.03
Coos Bay, with its tradition of this celebration woven into the fabric of the community, has become my second home. You have to love it. Our friend Sue, who also did not grow up here, put it eloquently: Even though we never knew Steve Prefontaine, the emotion wells up inside and we find ourselves moved and touched by this incredible young man’s story, this race, and the hearts of our town.

~ xoA ~

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Summer of 2012

The DayMaker is back. This summer’s blogging hiatus grew into hibernation. Traveling many miles, and  experiencing emotional highs and lows, I have had an unusual summer. And, before I knew it, it was Labor Day! 

In early July, I spent a couple of weeks in The South, lapping up Southern Hospitality, love, and friendship. In North Carolina, I spent quality time with my daughter Asila and son-in-love David. 
Asila's personal trainers at Empower Personal Training developed a partner workout for us.

I met up with old and new friends, including some darling children who bestowed my grandma name on me! I am proudly “Nama Annis” to these toddlers.

 My brother Tom and his family drove down from Virginia, and we had a mini-reunion. How those precious grandkids have grown!
The Cassells Clan

In Greenville, SC, I communed with motorcycle pals at the Women on Wheels® International Ride-In, and I visited other buddies in Georgia.  It was an action-packed couple of weeks.

With WOW (R) Women Cris and Kathy

After returning to the Oregon Coast for 10 days, I climbed onto Big Red and headed out for Carson City, Nevada, for the Women & Motorcycling Conference. There I met up with my Sunblazers friends from California and Oregon, my best riding companions. 

Elaine & Sylvia

Laurie and Virginia

At the end of the conference, I rode home to Bakersfield with Sylvia and was able to have time with her and Trudy and Trudy’s sis, Rebecca. Our friend Beth made a marathon trip from Oregon to join us. It was a lovely time. Around the dinner table, we had an opportunity to have a heart-felt conversation of appreciation. And, Trudy was in good form. 

Beth, Trudy, me, Rebecca, and Sylvia

Trudy loved her birthday, and though it was a few days early, she enjoyed this mini-cake that Beth brought.

Eighteen days later, Trudy slipped away peacefully in her sleep. As we knew the time was near, I had made the trip back to speak love into her ear and help support Sylvia and Rebecca during this last stage.

Though it was a tough summer in many ways, I am grateful to have been wrapped in the love of so many and able to be available for dear friends.

Once again I was reminded of the power of love and the impact of being human and forthcoming with our feelings. It's a beautiful and sustaining thing. 
~ xoA ~