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W is for wreath-laying

WWAA logoThis will end up being a two-part RAoK. The first part was easy…I went online to Wreaths Across America and donated $15 to sponsor a holiday wreath to be laid on a soldier’s grave. Anyone can do this at any time during the year, choosing to sponsor a wreath to be laid on a specified Saturday in December (the 13th this year) at Arlington National Cemetery or at a local cemetery in any of the 50 states (dates vary). I opted to sponsor an Arlington wreath because my paternal grandfather was a WWII veteran who was laid to rest there (although he does not have a grave–he was inurned in the Columbarium).

The second part of this RAoK will have to wait approximately 7 1/2 months. In December, I would like to volunteer to place wreaths on the graves of this country’s fallen heroes. Ideally, I’d like to do this at Arlington, but it might end up being more practical to volunteer at a local cemetery. Regardless, I expect it to be a moving experience, and one that I won’t soon forget.

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In an attempt to overwrite all the negative feelings I have about April I have made a pledge to complete 26 random acts of kindness this month. Reporting on these acts is the theme of my participation in this year’s April A to Z Challenge. If what you read here inspires you to commit your own RAoKs this month, please share what you’ve done in the comments. Together, we can rewrite April’s legacy!

If you’d like to check out how some other bloggers are responding to the A to Z Challenge, click here. Beware, there are 2034 participants at the time of this posting…I accept no responsibility for the hours you are likely to lose once you start browsing! 🙂

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

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Posted by on April 26, 2014 in Challenges, True Life

 

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V is for volunteering my veins

V“This is the American Red Cross calling to remind you of your commitment to donate blood. Please bring your bed [garbled]…Eat well and drink water before your donation. If you got any questions, please call us at 1 800 Red Cross. Thank you for your gift of life.” (This was the Google Voice transcription of an automated reminder phone call I missed while at work yesterday. Upon playing the audio recording, I was relieved to hear they didn’t actually want me to bring my bed, just my Red Cross donor card. And, for the grammar police out there, they didn’t really say “if you got any questions.”)

My first attempts to donate blood, while I was still in college, did not go well. The first time, I was sent away because my hemoglobin was too low. The next time, the needle clotted about halfway through the donation, and despite the technician’s attempts to free the blockage by rolling the needle a thousand different ways in my arm, I walked out again without leaving a pint. The third time I managed to successfully log a real donation, but I learned the hard way what happens if you don’t say, “Yes, I feel great!” when the tech asks if you feel okay midway through the process (it involves several panicky staff members jacking your feet in the air, dropping your head below your heart, and hovering nearby with smelling salts–quite embarrassing). With such a rocky beginning, it would have been easy to say, “Forget it, this ain’t for me.” But I just couldn’t ignore the fact that 45 minutes of my time had the potential to save three lives. So, every 56 days you’ll find me patiently squeezing a rubber ball and eyeballing the selection of post-donation snacks in the canteen while a pint of A+ collects in a little plastic bag beneath my chair.

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In an attempt to overwrite all the negative feelings I have about April I have made a pledge to complete 26 random acts of kindness this month. Reporting on these acts is the theme of my participation in this year’s April A to Z Challenge. If what you read here inspires you to commit your own RAoKs this month, please share what you’ve done in the comments. Together, we can rewrite April’s legacy!

If you’d like to check out how some other bloggers are responding to the A to Z Challenge, click here. Beware, there are 2048 participants at the time of this posting…I accept no responsibility for the hours you are likely to lose once you start browsing! 🙂

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Challenges, True Life

 

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U is for under my umbrella

U

Ahh, Mother Nature. Laying waste to best laid plans.

It was supposed to rain on Tuesday. For a good part of the afternoon. I have a fantastic raincoat that I much prefer to an umbrella. It keeps more of me drier. I don’t have to fight with it in the wind. I still have two hands free to carry all the other crap I routinely juggle. I took this super raincoat to work with me on Tuesday, anticipating that I would need it when I was ready to depart. I took my umbrella, too, because based on the forecast, I had a great RAoK all planned.

101_3511I was going to walk out the front door of the college, all bundled up against the downpour, and look for a student unprepared for the deluge. I was then going to gallantly offer the umbrella that I was not going to need, telling my target to just return it to me the next time he or she was on campus.

As luck would have it, it rained for about five minutes around lunch time. That’s it. The sun was peeking through the clouds by the time I left. Thanks, Mother Nature, for ruining my RAoK. I guess I’ll just save this one for a rainy day.

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In an attempt to overwrite all the negative feelings I have about April I have made a pledge to complete 26 random acts of kindness this month. Reporting on these acts is the theme of my participation in this year’s April A to Z Challenge. If what you read here inspires you to commit your own RAoKs this month, please share what you’ve done in the comments. Together, we can rewrite April’s legacy!

If you’d like to check out how some other bloggers are responding to the A to Z Challenge, click here. Beware, there are 2048 participants at the time of this posting…I accept no responsibility for the hours you are likely to lose once you start browsing! 🙂

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Challenges, True Life

 

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T is for trash not my neighborhood

T

Not my neighborhood. Photo credit

Not my neighborhood.
Photo credit

I don’t want to give anyone the impression that my neighborhood is a trash heap. Far from it, in fact. But occasionally when I go for a walk, I notice odds and ends that should be in a bin rather than lying on the shoulder of the road. With the exception of the large pile of McDonald’s wrappers on the corner Monday morning (jettisoned, I imagine, by a carful of rowdy teens after a late-night binge) I am fairly certain that most of the trash actually was placed responsibly in a bin at one point.

The trouble comes from the design of the bins and the truck that comes to collect the garbage each week. The bins are made so that trash collection is a one-man automated job–no longer do two guys ride on the back slinging Hefty bags up from the curb, pausing every few houses to compact the shiny black bags and their contents. Now, a lone driver pulls up and a large claw clamps the bin, then flings it rather violently up over the side of the truck, where gravity opens the hinged lid of the bin and trash falls into the open top of the truck. Not a bad design in theory, but it doesn’t take into account the families who overfill the bin to the point that the lid doesn’t close–as a result, trash falls out onto the road while the claw is lifting the bin. Nor does the design work if there is even the slightest hint of a breeze. If the wind is blowing on trash day, bits of paper and other lightweight items sail away while the bin is upended over the truck.

That’s the stuff I’ve been seeing on my walks. A tissue here. A green Starbucks straw there. A flattened CapriSun pouch in the ditch. So instead of continuing to walk by it day after day, I took an old plastic shopping bag with me and collected the stray bits. It took a couple of miles for the bag to start to fill up, which just shows how clean the neighborhood really is. Anybody driving by before and after I’d been down the street probably wouldn’t have noticed any difference (not like the main road leading to the neighborhood, where regular trash patrols are desperately needed and regularly yield scores of orange bags filled with intentionally discarded garbage). But perhaps my little clean-up will ensure that the neighborhood never does look like that main road.

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In an attempt to overwrite all the negative feelings I have about April I have made a pledge to complete 26 random acts of kindness this month. Reporting on these acts is the theme of my participation in this year’s April A to Z Challenge. If what you read here inspires you to commit your own RAoKs this month, please share what you’ve done in the comments. Together, we can rewrite April’s legacy!

If you’d like to check out how some other bloggers are responding to the A to Z Challenge, click here. Beware, there are 2048 participants at the time of this posting…I accept no responsibility for the hours you are likely to lose once you start browsing! 🙂

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Challenges, True Life

 

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S is for something to wet your whistle

SI got to work a few minutes early this morning, and armed with a baggie full of dollar bills, I committed a Random Act of Kindness on the soda machine. Unfortunately I had not researched the going price of a soda ahead of time, or I would have filled the baggie with six ones instead of five. At some point during the day, three students got a drink, and someone got fifty cents. Sorry!

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In an attempt to overwrite all the negative feelings I have about April I have made a pledge to complete 26 random acts of kindness this month. Reporting on these acts is the theme of my participation in this year’s April A to Z Challenge. If what you read here inspires you to commit your own RAoKs this month, please share what you’ve done in the comments. Together, we can rewrite April’s legacy!

If you’d like to check out how some other bloggers are responding to the A to Z Challenge, click here. Beware, there are 2048 participants at the time of this posting…I accept no responsibility for the hours you are likely to lose once you start browsing! 🙂

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2014 in Challenges, True Life

 

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R is for rice, rice, baby

RDid you know that just by answering some multiple choice questions when I’m watching mindless reality shows in the evening, I am feeding starving people around the world? At Freerice.com, for every correct answer I choose, 10 grains of rice are donated through the World Food Program to end hunger. There are multiple subjects to choose from, so depending on my mood, I can either stick with a sure thing (multiplication tables) or challenge my memory with subjects studied eons ago (French vocabulary).

free rice

I am under no illusion that I am going to single-handedly stamp out world hunger via this website. According to my very lazy calculations (I measured out a serving, counted and piled up 100 grains, then scraped together similarly-sized piles until it was all gone), there are somewhere around 2500 grains of Uncle Ben’s in one 1/4 cup (uncooked) serving. But if a hungry child gets even one serving of rice because of my efforts, well, that’s one more serving than he would have had if I hadn’t logged on.

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In an attempt to overwrite all the negative feelings I have about April I have made a pledge to complete 26 random acts of kindness this month. Reporting on these acts is the theme of my participation in this year’s April A to Z Challenge. If what you read here inspires you to commit your own RAoKs this month, please share what you’ve done in the comments. Together, we can rewrite April’s legacy!

If you’d like to check out how some other bloggers are responding to the A to Z Challenge, click here. Beware, there are 2048 participants at the time of this posting…I accept no responsibility for the hours you are likely to lose once you start browsing! 🙂

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Challenges, True Life

 

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Q is for quiet hero

QThis post is sort of cheating on my theme, because I am not reporting on one of my own Random Acts of Kindness. Instead, I want to tell you about a friend who is a walking, talking, breathing RAoK.

A couple of years ago, this friend, whom we like to call WGPP, reluctantly retired from a job that was really more like one of his hobbies. That left him with a lot of free time each day, hours that couldn’t be entirely filled by his other main hobbies, fishing, reading, and poker. WGPP’s wife steadfastly refuses to let him stay home all day, so he had no option but to go out and find something else to occupy his time. What he found was a bunch of friends in need of transportation. One needed rides to chemo treatments, a double amputee needed rides to appointments at the VA hospital, an elderly woman with failing sight needed rides everywhere. His wife and a couple of friends, who shall remain nameless but look very much like me and the hubby, needed a sober driver to take them to local wineries for wine tastings.

Driving-visibilityWGPP is a consummate driver. He drove for more than 20 years in his job, and there are very few places in this state he can’t get to (he’s also one of the few people I know who never uses a GPS to get anywhere). He is happy being on the road. He enjoys being able to share stories with a captive audience. He has lots of free time and a wife who won’t let him stay home (did I mention that already?). These factors have led him to become the go-to guy whenever someone in his circle needs to get somewhere. Rarely do they have to ask him to drive. As soon as they mention they’ve scheduled an appointment, want to see a movie, or need bread and milk (or a glass of wine), he says, “I’ll be there at X o’clock to pick you up.” He never asks to be compensated for his time, his fuel, or the wear-and-tear on his car. He pays no mind to the distance, the hours consumed, the foul weather, or any other inconveniences many others might gripe about.

He drives for love. For the love of driving. For the love of being in the company of friends as the miles roll by. For the love of a good chat over a meal that wasn’t necessarily part of the original itinerary. For the love of unexpected side trips, because this thing worth seeing was along the route home from the original destination. For the love of being out of the house. He drives for love.

WGPP’s acts of kindness have a profound effect on the lives of those he touches. I’m not sure he always hears or absorbs the appreciation he deserves, because he often acts like the person he drove was actually the one doing him a favor. But I know the gratitude is there, not only from the ones in the car with him, but their family members who have been temporarily relieved of chauffeur duties. He is a quiet hero with a heart of gold who rides up to save the day in a chariot made by Volkswagen.

WGPP, on behalf of all of your passengers, past, present, and future, I thank you for your kindness, your selflessness, and your love. May the road always rise up to meet you.

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In an attempt to overwrite all the negative feelings I have about April I have made a pledge to complete 26 random acts of kindness this month. Reporting on these acts is the theme of my participation in this year’s April A to Z Challenge. If what you read here inspires you to commit your own RAoKs this month, please share what you’ve done in the comments. Together, we can rewrite April’s legacy!

If you’d like to check out how some other bloggers are responding to the A to Z Challenge, click here. Beware, there are 2051 participants at the time of this posting…I accept no responsibility for the hours you are likely to lose once you start browsing! 🙂

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2014 in Challenges, True Life

 

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