After what only seemed like a few days, it was time for me to leave my Kansas home and head back to my newly adopted Cambodian one. Bitter sweet as always as I am trading missing one family for the joy of seeing another. I am just thankful that I have the ability to do so. In reminiscing about my trip, I am reminded of the fun I had with family and friends. Immense amounts of laughter with a sprinkling of sadness when thoughts of those who are no longer physically present ran through my mind. Grandma's house is now occupied by a young couple just starting to make memories of their own, in the house that holds 43 years of memories for me. I went to Vrana Chiropractic and Acupuncture which is located in the next to my dad's former barber shop. Life moves on whether you want it to or not…
First on the agenda at Mom's house was the arrival of my sister, Pam. Somewhere along the lines, we became a family of Do It Yourself(ers) (DIY was a term that I had never heard of, but was seemed to be the new acronym for "you have had enough relaxation, get to work" or "you can talk why you work, so...get to work" or the best one "jet lag; that's all in your mind, get to work". So before Pam could even have a cup of coffee, she was up and running us to the home depot stores to get paint and all the fixings to renovate mom's basement - something she has been wanting done for a while now.
Paint in hand, we start priming the outdated paneling one one wall and ripping off the half paneling on the other 3 walls. Vic mudded where needed as I moved outside to repaint the ancient wall sconces; thus bringing them into the 21st century.
Pam took a nose dive off the ladder; apparently she is only good with Ohio based climbing equipment…
but with Vic's quick reaction; apparently she has cleaned up messes like this before…
the carpet was soon back to normal, a clean shirt put on Pam's back and Miss Averie continued to be un-fazed about the whole incident.
I pocketed my camera for the next adventure.
Next up was my birthday! I found an egg-less blueberry angel food cake recipe and Mom and Aunt Bev put it to the test…I mean, I couldn't possibly make my own cake could I?
TA DA!! The delicious finished product!!
Add a few matchsticks for candles and a real birthday wish and I had myself one wonderful 44th birthday!
A few days later we organized an Open House Fundraiser at the Lil' R&R Guest House; to help support my ability to stay at Wat Opot. My niece, Taylor, (who spear-headed a talk I gave at her high school (my Alma Mata); titled "Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone") helped organize the jewelry! The Open House was a wonderful success and a chance for me to meet up with family and friends and was able to reconnect with a dear friend from grade school. The best part about meeting 'old' friends is that when you do meet again, it seems like no time has past. Wat Opot Jewelry sales skyrocketed and by the end of my trip, I was able to bring almost $1,000 from the sale of the jewelry back to Wat Opot, which was promptly put into the education fund.
I then boarded a plane to DC to visit the awesome Cannova's, Ms. Kat Chama (a.k.a. Kate Bernoski), and former co-workers (office mates), and friends. Of course time went by way too fast and my 5 days seemed like 5 hours as I headed back to Kansas.
Once settled back at home, I was taken aback by a visit from my Texas friend, Toni and her mom, Paulette. I had not seen Toni since I left Austin in 2006. She and her mom flew to OK City and then rented a car and drove the 3 hours to Colwich. It was a total surprise (mom's getting better at keeping the cat in the bag - and even hacked into my GMail account to re-arrange some plans I had already made so they wouldn't interfere with Toni's arrival). Little scary, Mom…little scary - which reminds me…change all passwords, Melinda. ha ha Mom and Paulette met for the first time and they hit it off famously!
Since I had left my camera in DC, accidentally, I don't have any photo's of their time with me. Which is sad, because I had such a great time and laughed until my cheeks hurt and my abs were aching!
After their too-soon departure, I caught up with some friends over dinner and others at lunch; had my yearly hair cut with Sam; compliments (as always) of Sandy (another grade school friend who has followed me to Greece and Austria, and DC not to mention all the trips to see me in Austin!) It makes me realize that being a humanitarian, and earning no wage brings out the best in the people I know and love. The outpouring of support; financial, physical and emotional was humbling. I barely had to pay for a thing the whole time away; which makes the high price of the plane ticket more tolerable. From the bottom of my heart, I learned compassion can come in many forms, faces and places and I am honored to have such people in my life.
I regret not being able to see all people I would have liked to. I guess I need to hire a personal assistant to book my schedule before I even enter the country. Next time I will make a list and stick to it!
This post wouldn't be complete without a photo of the newest member of my KS family; introducing Miss Averie Riley - who's amazing personality and disposition made me laugh until I cried!