Morning Meanderings… Coffee Monday and Why Orlando Hurts My Heart


Good morning and happy Monday.  Or… well, it is Monday.

I lost a week of chatting it up here as I was at Camp Benedict.  I thought I would have time in the early mornings to post a little something, or write a review in the afternoons.  HA.  Think again.  My mornings at camp were absorbed with conversations with the early to rise crowd.  I myself was usually in the main lodge by 5:30 am.  My afternoons were filled with more conversations, prep for the evening, a few “camp-fires” as I like to call them to put out.

And you know what?

It was all really wonderful.

In case you do not know my Camp Benedict story you can read it here.  Camp Benedict is a camp for those infected and affected by AIDS.  It is for families who deal with AIDS, it is for children through adults who may be infected – or may be affected as they have a loved one who fights this battle daily.  It is, something I knew little about when I became involved in 2009 with the camp – and it something now that is dear to my heart.

In late 2011, my son Justin came out to me.  I remember the day, it was November 2nd and we were on the phone.  I did not know prior to this conversation.  I can tell you, that while it came as a surprise, it did not change the way I felt about my son.  I loved and love him with all my heart and NOTHING would ever stand in the way of that.  In fact, if anything, it brought us closer.  he knew he could talk to me about anything, and it was in the following years as he finished up College that we started our annual trip to Florida to go to Harry Potter world (always including the date of November 2nd in those trips – which is a little known fact but one we thought was meaningful).  We ran together in mud runs, and color runs, we went to movies whenever possible…. we talked on the phone weekly, he was and is a big part of my heart and often… perhaps the biggest part.

I share this now because at Camp Benedict I have a chance to talk with many people one on one.  Often I hear the story of when they came out to their family and they talk of how family members, a parent maybe, a sibling, has pushed them away.  That hurts my heart so much.  If I would have told Justin that day, that was fine for him, but I would not be a part of his life – look what I would have missed!  Look at my life now – not knowing then that I had less than 4 more years with him.  What a waste that would have been and my heart hurts for those who have been pushed away by loved ones.  As Hermione would say….. “Riddikulus!”


We embraced our time together and I would not trade one second of it.

This past weekend, the shootings in Orlando made me think of those who lost their lives and their families.  I pray that the families of the victims had wonderful relationships and memories.  I pray that it was not tainted with prejudices and misunderstandings.

We never know how much time we have on this earth.  Life may be long – but it may also be short.  I live with that every day.  However, I also live with the fact that I loved (and love) my son unconditionally and I did not waste one minute on making him feel bad for his choices.  For this, I know I am blessed.  I had an amazing relationship with my son and if by sharing this today can help even one person, then I have accomplished what I set out to do.

We lift our coffee cups today to those who lost their lives this weekend in Orlando due to what?  Hate?  Intolerance?  A feeling of superiority?  What horrible words.  PLEASE no matter what broken relationship you have in your own life, reach out.  Even if it is not reciprocated, at least you made the effort.  You never know down the road what a difference that can make.

PicMonkey Collage3


If you would like to donate to Camp Benedict you can do so here.


Saturday Snapshot… The Month, The Bike Ride… and oh yeah… The Tattoo
Camp Benedict Bike Ride 2015: L: Belinda, Sheila W, Me, and Farrah

I have not been a part of Saturday snapshot for well… lets say a long time.  Today seemed like a good day to do this one again. July was a crazy mess.  On top of my own grief, my friend Connie went into the hospital on July 3rd and by the 5th we were told she would not be coming out.  This lead to the next couple of weeks of visiting the hospital almost daily, in some cases twice a day.  At the end of each day I would be a bundle of emotions – grief on grief I started to call it. On the morning of Thursday July 16th she passed away with her husband and two sons beside her.  The world lost yet another amazing person.  This set off another flurry of activity as I set up a meal train and helped the family as they needed throughout the weekend and the week of the funeral. On the afternoon of the 17th a friend posted on Facebook she was going to get a Rhino tattoo.  (Rhino was our team name for the bike ride, named after a book Connie received 32 years ago when she first became sick called Rhino Success, about being strong and courageous and CHARGING ON like a Rhino no matter what. When Trisha asked if I would do the tattoo with her… I said yes without hesitation…

Points to Vicki who spotted this on my foot in a picture I posted a couple of days ago in a Morning Meandering. Great eye Vicki! (I’d Rather Be at the Beach) 😉

Three days after the funeral was the Camp Benedict Bike Ride that Connie had created to raise money for Camp Benedict each year.  The Camp Board had decided in early July that we would move ahead with the bike ride. So…..  that led to a whirlwind of other activity weaving throughout all of this other stuff in July… working on rider count, lining up many volunteers, promoting, planning food for the ride, awards, t – shirts (Connie had already designed this years t shirt), permits, marking the road, etc….  Thank goodness for a great team of helpers! Any hoo…. here for Saturday Snapshot are some of the ride pics…

This is before the ride.... Riders ready!
This is before the ride…. Riders ready!
THis is my friends Belinda (standing) and Sheila at the day one lunch stop
This is my friends Belinda (standing) and Sheila at the day one lunch stop
One of the pit stops had a cool super hero theme and photo booth.... oh we had fun with that
One of the pit stops had a cool super hero theme and photo booth…. oh we had fun with that
This is the potatoes that were cooking at Camp... Vicki made a lot of delicious potatoes!
This is the potatoes that were cooking at Camp… Vicki made a lot of delicious potatoes!
Ready to go... day 2
Ready to go… day 2
Connie's son Nathan and his girlfreind Audrey rocking the t shirts Connie made this year.  A super fun fact - both of Connie's sons and husband participated in the ride.
Connie’s son Nathan and his girlfriend Audrey rocking the t shirts Connie made this year. A super fun fact – both of Connie’s sons and husband participated in the ride.
A DQ stop is always part of day 2!
A DQ stop is always part of day 2!

And… let me just say day 2 was HOT.  We were dreaming of riding our bikes right into a lake.  Then when passing my friend Amy’s home we popped in to get a drink and wound up in their pool…. yes… in full on bike gear.

book journey, farrah mckinney, Sheila DeChantal
.. and that is where memories are made. 🙂

So there it is.  That was last Saturday. The ride was a good way to complete a hard hard month and honor my friend Connie. Camp Benedict is a camp for families infected and affected by AIDS.  I am proud to be the Vice President of this camp that I have watched change lives for the past 5 years that I have been a part of it and I am sure many years before I became involved. Camp Benedict is a non profit 501C3.  If you or anyone you know would like to donate to this camp here is a link:

Today… I think I am laying low.  In fact I think I am laying low for the weekend and I am looking forward to it.  July was crazy busy and even this past week was filled with Wine and Words activity, a visit from one of Justin’s good friends, and catching up on my yard and home.  Books and audio and sitting in the sun are on the agenda.

Morning (nope!) Afternoon Meanderings… Lets Talk About What You Are Reading


I feel….

wiped out.


A long weekend with the bike ride, a long week with the funeral prior to that, a long two weeks of my friend Connie in the hospital before that…. and yesterday a full morning of Wine and Words prep meeting and our last Author of the summer.

Exhausted comes to mind.  Emotionally and physically.

A few people have inquired about the meme that I have ran since early 2010, Where Are You Reading.  Yes, it is coming back.  I hope this Sunday.  Through everything of this year I hardly remember what day it is.  My final really big event for the year is Wine and Words and I am hopeful that life will level out at that time. Currently I feel “spikey”…. I can function for events and for people, but then I hit a grief wall when I have down time.  I can make myself be “ON” if I need to be… but I pay for it.

I only have a couple more weeks of needing to be ON.

The bike ride, was fun.  A fair turn out and I think we brought in some new riders.  I will talk about this more for Saturday Snapshot. In the meantime… here is a little sample:



I am listening to audio and hope to pick up a book soon.  A few good ones have come my way I want to start 🙂


Morning Meanderings… Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates


Friday!  OOMP – there it is!!!  I feel like I want to run to the end of the living room and do some sort of touch down dance.

It has been a GOOD week.  I have been back from our trip for a little over a month now and have gone from feeling exhausted and lazy, to “what am I going to do with my life?”, to cautiously putting myself out there, to picking up a few freelance jobs, to slowly developing a name, to a possible local commitment that is flexible and can work around my other projects.  I will know more after today.

EEP. (in a good way)


It has been scary cool putting together my own work commitments and wondering if it would work.  I had fears that working from home would be too hard to stay focused but that has not been true.  And honestly I really really like it and feel I am getting a nice rhythm.



Camp Benedict Cyclist, Camp Benedict, Book JOurney, Minnesota Bike RidesOk, apparently I have the dork meter set on HIGH today. I am having breakfast with a friend and partner in crime all things bike ride related this morning for putting together a charity bike ride for camp this summer.  I am really excited how that has come together this week.  I built this super cool website:  Camp Benedict Cyclists



logo Wine and Words, Minnesota Events, 2015, Fall Events, Book Journey

I also think I have landed the final author I need for Wine and Words this year. Just waiting on final confirmation and then I can start making announcements and update that website as well.


So if life really is really like a box of chocolates… my week has been all milk chocolate caramels (MY FAV!) and not one single coconut filled one.  HAZAH again.


Urban Dictionary:

A word used to emphasize ones pleasure and/or approval at something. Often accompanied by spasticated clapping.

For real authority, one should pronounce it as if saying ‘I SAY! (old chap)’.

Bloke in movie: “The Wooden Horse will destroy the city of Troy”.

Loyal fans: “Hazah! Hazah!” *clap clap clap*


Morning Meanderings… On The Road Again.


Good morning!  It is Friday!  The last Friday before Christmas!  EEP!  I think I have everything pretty much planned but you know how that goes… making a list, checking it twice…

Today I leave for St Cloud, about an hour away so not a major trip.  I have a board meeting for Camp Benedict that starts this afternoon and will go until late tomorrow afternoon.  The board will be staying overnight at the hotel we are meeting at and having dinner together which will be nice as  we do not usually have a lot of “hang out and get to know you time”.

Of course… it is taking two days out of my Christmas planning but the trip to St Cloud does give me some time to check out a couple of stores in the area.

I do have reviews ready to go up and will have time to “stay in touch” so really, it is not like I will be gone at all 🙂

Saturday Snapshot – Why Am I At A Camp For Those Infected and Affected By AIDS?


For today’s Saturday Snapshot I thought I would share with you where I have been this past week.  I am on a Camp Board for a Camp called Camp Benedict.  This camp is an educational camp for those infected and affected by AIDS.  The camp is a family camp, which means we have men, women, and children at camp, and we have people who have obtained AIDS through many different ways:



Blood transfusions (before they tested blood back in the 80’s)

and yes, children born with AIDS


My connection to this camp and cause stems back 5 years, and you can read about it here.  During the year we have a large event and a bike ride to raise money to provide camp for free to those who attend.  The camp is the only one like it in a 6 state range.

Anyhoo… here are some of the pics from this past week:


Cap Benedict, Book Journey
This year was the 20th year of Camp Benedict!



Camp Benedict is an education camp and throughout the week there will be different speakers covering topics like- stigma, health, medications, laws, men’s groups and women’s groups.


We bring in experts on different topics and from different agencies to help answer questions.
While the adults are in classes, the kids have their own things going on with Camp K staff. They also have their own classes where they learn about AIDS and about how to be supportive of their parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc…
Camp Benedict
The camp provided meals and snacks.


Camp Benedict, Book Journey
Of course camp is not all work and study – it is after all… camp. 🙂 From lunch time (noon) to 5:30 (dinner time) is free time and the camp provides water sports, horse back riding, massage, Reiki, pontoon rides, and a trip to the Dairy Queen. Or – you can do as I did… sit in the warm sun read a bit and take a nap 🙂


Camp Benedict, Book Journey
On the first day of camp we all wrote down words associated with what we thought when we first heard about AIDS. We put those words in a box and on the last evening of camp we burned those words.


Camp benedict, Book Journey
On the last night we have a closing ceremony and then we have KARAOKE and a dance for all the campers. It was so fun to watch the little kids!


Our DJ this year was fantastic and she really provided fun things that involved all ages


Jason Hatton, Book Journey, Camp Benedict
Friendships are built in that week of camp. Jason has been to camp three times. It’s always great to see old friends and make new ones too!


It is tradition at camp that on the last day as the bus leaves the camp K staff builds a pyramid to wave off the campers.



Camp Benedict, Book Journey
The close of Camp Benedict 2014.


So why am I a part of this camp?  I LOVE what it is doing.  I love Connie Statz, the woman who bravely 20 years ago had an idea for a way to support others with AIDS and she ran with her vision and this that I just showed you – is the AMAZING result.  I love working with this board of people all striving to encourage, support, and teach.  And I love the campers, I enjoy getting to know people throughout the week, listening to their stories and knowing that I am helping to provide a good take-away from them hanging out at this beautiful camp.

Thanks everyone who serves on the Camp Benedict Board and Friends of Camp Benedict.  Thanks to the camp staff, and of course to all the campers who travel from all over to have a week at a beautiful camp and hopefully leave with a great experience.

If you would like to support Camp Benedict, here is a link to my support page where I raise funds for the bike ride in August which goes directly to the camp.


Be sure to check out other Saturday Snaphot posts ans see what everyone else is taking pictures of this week 😀