You've Got to Be Kidney-ing Me

Thursday, 28 September 2017

A good friend, and my brother's partner, Haylee lost her father suddenly to kidney disease two years ago.

Bud Erwin was a tall, funny, kind, and caring person. He loved Kentucky basketball, OSU football, and enjoyed cooking for his family and friends. I never had the fortune to meet him but I've loved learning more about him over the years.

This past weekend we participated in Columbus, Ohio's Kidney Walk and supported funds raised to go to awareness and research about kidney disease. In her spare time, away from her busy work schedule, Haylee put a walk team together and tirelessly raised funds by promoting the cause on social media.

She came up with a clever name for the team: You've Got to Be Kidney-ing Me and raised more than $2,000.

If those efforts weren't enough, the director of the Kidney Foundation asked Haylee to tell her story and share about her father. She did a most wonderful job. I know her mother was very proud of her and Bud would also be extremely proud.

Haylee implored the crowd to pay attention to warning signs such as back pain, high blood pressure, itching, swelling of feet, and other symptoms. Bud suffered some of these elements, including Diabetes, but just thought he was "getting old." He was in his 50s. He finally went to the doctor and they found a 11 inch tumor on his kidney. They were unable to save him.

Kudos to Haylee, her mother Gail, her sister Hannah, her friends Nick, and Mandi, and to my brother, Dannen, for spending a beautiful September morning to bring awareness to kidney problems. We are already making plans for our team for next year.

The Columbus Kidney Walk teams raised a total of more than $60,000. *I took the photos.

A New Venture

Friday, 22 September 2017
My love for cooking and teaching will come together soon on a new website. My next book, "Lentils, Dumplings, and Bird Nests, Culinary Lessons Around the World" will be ready soon and I hope to publish the book and launch the new site at the same time.

The website's focus will be on sharing recipes, short how-to cooking videos, and a place to book in-home cooking classes in the Greater Columbus, Ohio area and seasonally on Bald Head Island, North Carolina.

After amazing feedback on Facebook, I settled on my first logo. I have a long way to go in developing my brand but this is a start. I used Fiverr to source a logo, an intro for my YouTube videos, and short clips of music that can be used for videos. Fiverr is pretty amazing because you can access talented freelancers who are up-and-coming artists that will complete projects for a reasonable price.

What are you up to this week?

Exploring the Tetons and Yellowstone

Monday, 18 September 2017
This wildlife in the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park is pretty amazing. James and I have been trying to get to more national and state parks this year and we really enjoyed this part of the country. (Obligatory photo by the sign below.)

James is fairly serious about wildlife photography and I get excited when I am able to capture decent video of creatures so we were up between 5 and 5:30 a.m. each day. It was chilly but we bundled up and hit the road before dawn. I drove and James watched for animals. 

During one outing in Yellowstone with a guide, we ran into this gorgeous female Grizzly. She was walking along the side of the highway. Look at those shoulders! We were lucky to get great lighting and she didn't pay much attention to us. (I shot this with a long lens so it looks like I'm closer to her than I actually am.)

On the same drive, as we were tooling along, I thought I saw a grey-ish four legged animal in the distance, we pulled over and sure enough - this gorgeous coyote was trotting along. It has such a gorgeous coat.

Our most rare encounter with an animal occurred in the Tetons. One late afternoon, we were able to locate this Cinnamon Bear (variety of black bear) in the area where locals believe it dens. It is an amazing red-ish brown color.

Something to be aware of when traveling there in the summer months is the absolute mayhem of people. Take a look at this group of photographers and tourists trying to get a shot of a black bear. Finally a ranger had to come out and tell everyone to move out of the road so people could drive through.

We preferred Teton over Yellowstone because it was much less crowded. Your best bet is to visit in May or September and avoid the summer crowds if possible. We hope to go back to visit in the winter time. 

End of Summer Update

Monday, 11 September 2017
I'm teaching again this semester at Northern Kentucky University and one of my students asked me to read one of her blog posts. This reminded me how much I love to share photos, videos, and experiences with others.

Our garden this year yielded Roma, Big Boy, grape, and cherry tomatoes, so last night I invited my parents, brother, and his girlfriend over for a homemade chili and cornbread feast. We sat by the fire, covered in blankets, and enjoyed an adult beverage. It is getting cooler in Ohio and I love it. We are especially enjoying our new backyard. The deck was rotting so we replaced it with pavers, new landscaping, and a water feature. We enjoy camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park so that was my inspiration. It sort of looks like a campground:

My next book is in the works. This time I'm writing about cooking classes that I've taken during travels and the existential lessons I've learned along the way. Staying up to date on my blog will hopefully help me with discipline when it comes to finishing the book. I even had some new photos taken for the author page.

We recently got back from a wildlife photography trip to Custer State Park where we were able to spend hours with a herd of mountain goats. They are so fun to watch. 

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you too.