No news, is _____ _____.

I love old sayings. My friend Susan has gobs of them. Some are more like funny descriptors, as in “it was darker than a gorilla’s armpit”. Is that even dark? How does anyone know? I doubt anyone has investigated this as in, “Hi there Mr. Gorilla, mind showing me your armpit?” It’s just an imaginative way of making a point. Entertainment > accuracy.

My daughter, who is still with child as of this writing (38.5 weeks!) has been bombarded with sayings, or old wives’ tales, or whatever they are. Heartburn means the baby will have lots of hair, and if you opt in for the miracle that an epidural is, it can make breastfeeding more difficult. Who are these old wives anyway?

Sometimes sayings get handed down without explanation. Like this one, “The proof is in the pudding.” Really? I guess that would apply to pudding makers, but I’m not sure how to make it relevant in my own non-pudding world.

This blog is about many things, but pudding isn’t one. It’s about sayings, and my current battle is with the one almost in the title, “No news is good news”. What that could mean is don’t talk to me.

Wow, rude.

No, it means to assume the best when you don’t hear or don’t know some important fact. It largely applies to medical ailments, hospitalizations and other such events.

Like at this exact moment. I have been staying so close to my phone in case when my daughter calls to tell me she’s in labor and ready for me to come. It’s so hard to sit here and wait for the call. But each time I answer in full anticipation of springing into action. My suitcase can be packed in about 3 minutes. I’ve been practicing like I’m in a pit crew at the Daytona 500.

In this instance, no news actually IS good news. Waiting for a baby to be born is a perfect example of not calling someone every five minutes to ask if you are still pregnant, or how are you feeling, or are you having any contractions yet and if so how far apart are they and what else are you feeling and should I come now???

My sister called me every day during the final two weeks of my last pregnancy. Or at least it seemed like every day. I finally snapped back with, “Actually, I had the baby a week ago. I’m just not telling you.” I was hormonal, and my sister has endured decades of my smart-assiness. “No news is good news” is definitely for the protection of those kind and innocent folks who call (a little too) often, simply because they mean well.

But what if your family operated in this mode all the time, like my family sometimes? Also, this is true for my friend Kevin. The only time he hears from a certain family member is when that person calls to report a death, like he’s on a beat with the local paper. The other day, Kevin got a call from this person, and no one had died. It was just a call to say hello. He was shocked, as were the rest of the family when the call wasn’t actually about bad news, but connection.

When there is distance between people, as in my family and Kevin’s, it’s even more important to call with good news. Silence is not always golden. Sometimes we need to hear from those we love, and it’s so beautiful when it can drop right in from the clear blue sky.

But alas, I am learning to take responsibility for my own self. When I am missing anyone, it’s up to me to reach out and initiate the connection. It’s okay to call to say, “Hello, how are you? I don’t have any news, good or bad, but I’m thinking of you and wanted you to know.” Easy enough, right?

Maybe your call or text would be good news to someone. There’s only one way to find out. Who do you need to reach out to today?

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

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Moving, Chapter 27

Maybe, perhaps, it could be that I have commitment issues.

I recently calculated out how many times I have changed my place of residency. It comes to twenty-seven. For real. The weird thing is that if when I find myself exaggerating, I often use the number twenty-seven. You know, like when I tell you how many red lights I hit on my way to your house (which is why I’m late), but it’s really only like five. It’s way more fun to say twenty-seven red lights. Maybe it has something to do with extra syllables when one is exaggerating. See?

It is not fun, however, when twenty-seven is the actual number of how many times I have physically relocated. Every last one of these moves has been as an adult, with a few cross country, and many were across town. My parents still live in the same exact house they bought when I was a wee babe (circa 1968). I lived there until I was eighteen, and I’ve been moving ever since.

Something always breaks, or gets bruised. Every single time.

What my family saw as stability, I saw as boredom. I couldn’t wait to live in other places, especially somewhere not cold, like Florida. I’m happy to say that I’ve been in Sarasota since 1996, so at least there’s that. Some stints have been on the longer, more respectable side, like five years in one place, and four in another, but this is my third move in as many years, and this spot is only mine for a year at most.

Some of the moves, probably half, involved a boyfriend or fiancee or a wedded relationship. I won’t bother to chronicle it all out for you (you’re welcome), but it’s safe to say I understand what propelled each move. Some moves were simply necessary, and some were fueled by desire. I know the next place will be a purchase, and the only name on the closing docs (and mortgage) will be mine. Oh, and probably the bank, too.

Back to the moving, I’m over it honestly.

It seems silly that I’m just now embarking on this home ownership goal, but that is my reality. I’ve been spending all my dollars on raising children and adventures and travel and college and braces and my soon-to-arrive grandson. So the timing hasn’t been right to even dream of it until now. With that, it is my goal, and this girl is getting after it.

One step at a time…

Where I am living is perfect – for now. It’s big enough for visitors, and cozy enough to feel like home. It’s peaceful and quiet and deer literally play in the front yard. It’s comfortably furnished, and all the maintenance is included, so I can just relax and unwind once I’m home. There are several options for my hammock, and it goes up tomorrow.

That is the hard part. Knowing that this location is temporary, when I am so ready to settle in. Do grandparents go through nesting too? Is that what this is about?

Update: Baby Grandson’s official due date is in just 2 weeks, so my goal, which was to be unpacked before his arrival, was met this weekend (yay me!) I will be ready to head north by the time her contractions take hold, which can be ANY DAY NOW!!!

Could she be any cuter?

And back to the moving…

When I buy my very own place, I will be able to paint whatever walls and colors I want. I will get to choose light fixtures and cabinet handles and I can plant things in the actual ground. I can hang wind chimes in the backyard oasis I plan to create. This actually frees me from fussing over every nook and cranny here.

But, first things first. My grandson will be here very soon, and my attention will be appropriately consumed! There will probably be a few pics, and maybe some gushing. Who am I kidding? There will absolutely be pictures and gushing . And you’ll want to see, right?

Of course you will.

It’s gotta be better than reading about endless moves!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

What’s in a name?

Do they have a name picked out? This is the number one question I’m getting these days. Of course I’m referring to my scheduled-to-arrive-in-four-weeks grandson.

Nope. Can’t tell ya. I’m sworn to secrecy. But I like it and anyways, it’s not my child to name. Thank goodness. I did that twice already, and I believe both children are named appropriately. I mean, no one rushed down to the courthouse on their 18th birthday to change the name I gave them. I’d call that success.

Photo credit http://www.sarasotaclerk.com

It got me to thinking about the whole ordeal around names. It’s a very critical responsibility. Especially because, the first thing I think when I hear a whacked-out name is, “What the @$&? was his/her mother thinking?” Mothers get blamed for everything, right out of the gate.

Family names, middle names and initials, and Jr’s, and III’s, and grandmother’s name, all these bear weight. Some names are off limits, based on our past experience of others. If there is a terrible ex lurking in your memory, the name is tainted forever more.

Another consideration is to predict the potential teasing that may occur with said potential name. Maybe it’s better these days, with teachers and parents becoming more sensitive to bullying and such. Maybe this generation of kids with unusual names are safer than we were.

My cousins called me Sherri Canary. I’m not yellow and I can’t sing, but my legs were skinny enough, so I guess it made sense. I didn’t love it, but it was better than Hairy Sherri or Scary Sherri or others they could have chosen.

One of my all time favorite muppets.

And spelling. Holy alphabet, this is another area that really counts. Some names are just easy. You know how spell them and pronounce them with little-to-no-room for error. Like James. Or Scott. Even Benjamin and Alexander with three syllables each are straightforward. Is it only girl names that go completely off the rails? Take a common girl name like Kayley…

Kayley, Kaley, Kailey, Kaleigh, Kaylie, Kailee, Caylee, Cailey, Cayley… see what I mean? My own name comes in a variety pack, and I really don’t care anymore, but it was a big deal when I was a kid. My own grandmother consistently added an “e” on my name, making it Sherrie. Sounds exactly the same, but I was hurt by this when I should have just been happy she remembered me at all. We’ll just consider this a clear sign that I’ve always been a little “extra”.

So much pressure, but then, our need to name things gives us plenty of practice. We name our pets – sometimes as children we have this great honor. I once had a dog named Pickles, inspired while grocery shopping with my mom, of course.

She looked like this, so adorable!

I have heard that men often bestow a name for their man parts (this could be an entire post, but no). We name houses. And boats. Heck, my car even has a name. She’s Rhonda the Honda. My friend has a sporty red SUV, and I suggested the name Ruby.

Need a car name? Read them here.

There’s far less pressure in naming an SUV than in naming a human baby that you bring into the world. This same baby could grow up and hate your guts over a terrible name (remember, it’s mom’s fault).

The one name, over which I have some measure of control, is my grandma name. Also, I should confess that my original name has been modified from Gigi to JoJo. It’s more original. Jo is my middle name, and I liked it so much I shared it with my daughter. I’m told it could change into whatever name the little guy can actually say, but I don’t buy it. He’s gonna learn how to say JoJo eventually.

Regardless of where you stand on names, it’s a fun and slightly grueling process to name your very own child. I’m excited for what they’ve chosen, and I’ll let them delight the world with the announcement when he arrives soon. In the meantime, how do you feel about the name you were given? Did you question your mother’s sanity? Does it carry on a family tradition?

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Treasures from Eva

Very soon, as in later today, I’m making a trip to a local jeweler. I have important research to do.

They will not be too suspicious. And I may or may not share the real reason for my visit. You see, I’ve been wanting to try my hand with some historical fiction writing, Francine Rivers‘ style. It’s one of my favorite genres to read. It requires just enough research to keep things interesting, but not so much that I will drown in it.

Come on already, what are we talking about?

I think it’s cut glass and brass maybe? I think it’s beautiful.

This. My mother gave me this choker on my recent trip to Iowa. It had belonged to my Great Grandmother, Eva. She died in 1910, when her daughter, my Grandma Hazel, was very young. Miraculously, it was saved and passed on to her, and then to my mom, then me.

Years earlier, my mom gave me this beautiful piece, also from GG Eva. It’s been safely tucked away in my jewelry box. I hadn’t realized it was also from her. It’s so elegant, but it seems too fragile to wear. I’m not risking that heartbreak.

Eva and I have the same taste.

I know, right? These pieces are so gorgeous, and I am delighted that they’ve found their way into my possession. Here’s the thing: we have so little zero information about either piece. We know GG Eva’s full name, where she lived and when, but other than that, it’s a giant mystery.

Oooo, I want to know, don’t you?

Not only are they gorgeous heirlooms, it sounds like a book I would like to write. The girl goes on a quest to discover more about the treasure and its owner, and through the process, eventually, she discovers herself. It’s a good plot line with plenty of room for twists and turns and interesting characters.

It’s all swirling around, along with other book ideas in the queue. I haven’t actually started writing any of them. But putting it out on this blog helps keep me accountable. Also it means I’m spending time here instead of on that.

Oh, the challenges of the writer’s life! One of the gillion phrases underlined in my beloved copy of Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird. “Do it every day for a while,” my father kept saying. “Do it as you would do scales on the piano. Do it as a debt of honor. And make a commitment to finishing things.”

Thanks Anne, these are good words for me. I’ll put my butt in the chair and commit to getting words in the page.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

We can’t wait to meet what’s-his-name.

Hi baby. I felt you in there squirming and doing backflips and kicking your momma in the ribs.

Loving on that baby belly!
Photo credit Kris Holman

I know you’re still growing and developing and all that important stuff. I know your mommy and daddy are busy preparing for your arrival. I know there are still seven weeks until your predicted birth date. I’m okay with that, but barely.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of hanging out with my beautifully pregnant daughter, her awesome man, my other daughter and her awesome man, and a ton of their friends. We threw an amazing coed baby shower. This included multiple trips to multiple stores, a weird balloon baby, a taco bar for forty people, and some really fun games.

It was spectacular and I loved every single minute, even the non-glamorous moments.

Photo credit Kris Holman
How beautiful is this?! And the gorgeous couple too…

I wasn’t expecting to feel so much excitement for you. But oh my, how ready my heart is for you to be here. It doesn’t matter what name is chosen, or if you have dark hair or blonde hair or no hair at all. You, little one, are already surrounded by so much love.

It’s so good to celebrate with friends!

We cannot wait to meet you!

In the meantime, if any of you have grand-parenting tips to share, let me have it. This is exciting new (and slightly terrifying) territory for all of us. We welcome your wisdom.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Setting the mall on fire (almost).

Though I’m officially done with school, I continue to learn. The brain, for example, is fascinating and complex, and we are discovering how it functions, how we think, feel, and process, and how memory works. Fun fact: our sense of smell is powerfully linked to memory. I can personally vouch for this.

When I think of that smell, and remember the smoke, I am instantly transported right back to 1983. Of course, I am referring to the smell of burnt caramel popcorn. If you missed my last post, it will take just a hot minute to catch up.

Let me set the stage. I was a bored-to-death teen in small town Iowa, working at the only mall for miles around. It was actually hopping back then, with fun hangouts like Music Land (they sold OG vinyl) and a video arcade (games were only a quarter). My employer was KarmelKorn. You already know why I chose this place.

We had none of this fancy signage.

It was here that I perfected cotton-candy making, candy-apple making, and, drum roll please, the ultimate prestige of making caramel corn from scratch. In hindsight, they must have been desperate. This 15 year old had zero experience beyond consuming these sugary treats.

Karmelkorn was strategically placed on the corner at the main entrance, nearly dead center in the mall. The walk time from the farthest end (in either direction) to our counter, clocked in at a whopping three minutes.

It was probably a Saturday afternoon. Prime time for every teen in town to be strolling about, laughing at other people’s hair or fashion choices (it was the 80’s with plenty to laugh at). Or they may have been waiting for the next movie time. Yes, theaters back then were known for the stale, inferior, and very overpriced popcorn.

I must have gotten distracted while boiling of a batch of caramel, forgetting to add a key ingredient at the precise time. The contents in the copper pot severely scorched, and smoke billowed for a good five minutes before I could get it under control.

It felt like this.

Thankfully, sprinklers did not activate nor did the fire department show up. There was a security person who hustled over to see if there was an actual fire. We determined that an evacuation of THE ENTIRE MALL was unnecessary. It would take several hours for the smoke, and especially the smell, to dissipate.

Our prime location provided for everyone’s easy inquiries, “What’s on fire?” “Is something burning?” “Did YOU do that?”

It was not one of my finer moments.

There were other humiliating character-building things that happened in my early working days. Like busting a lawnmower blade on a visible water pipe. Or totally forgetting to show up for an easy-peasy babysitting gig a mile from my house. Or when my mall career advanced to cashier – and I was nearly trampled in a Cabbage Patch Doll stampede.

Ah, those were the days.

I’m pretty sure this is the point of having a job when we are teenagers. So that we can be reminded that there is room to grow, and that we are not perfect. It’s a decent lesson to remember as an adult, too.

What are some of the learning experiences you had early on? Can you laugh about them now? Can we laugh with you?

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Applesauce and mashed potatoes, please.

That totally seems like a balanced diet, doesn’t it?

Well, I hope so, because that is about to become a menu staple for a while. And this is totally okay with me, because I can see the bigger picture.

After being unhappy with my smile for basically my whole life, I went to the orthodontist and had braces put on my teeth yesterday.

Yep, it’s a mouthful of metal going on here!

For the next 20 months (or so), I will happily endure monthly visits, a limited diet, and considerable time on oral hygiene. There will be complicated scheduling for my dental cleanings (3x per year). Let’s not forget the medium size draft out of my checking account, too.

No almonds, popcorn, caramel, and a ton of other “do not eat” items. I couldn’t read the entire list through the tears forming. I really love caramel. And popcorn. You can only imagine how I feel about caramel popcorn!

I am literally drooling…

There are people in my life who assure me that my smile is beautiful and that orthodontics are unnecessary. Yes, there are about twenty-seven million other things I could spend time, energy and money on. I can think of a myriad reasons why NOT to get this done.

But there is one super-dee-duper reason, and that outweighed all the rest. And it is this: I am worth it.

My parents could not afford to do this when I was younger. Heck, it’s a good thing we grew our own vegetables and butchered our own meat or we may have actually gone hungry. My dad is a farmer and times were tough back then. It doesn’t mean they didn’t want to do good things for me, they didn’t have the means for such extravagances.

I painted this collage from various scenes around their farm.

I’m not entirely sure I do either, but I managed to provide braces for my daughter because she needed them. And now it’s my turn. Whenever there has been a trip to take, a car to repair, or any other big ticket item, it always gets taken care of. It’s been said (to myself each morning), “Everything is always working out for me.” And it is.

I want to be proud of my smile. I want to feel more confident. I love myself, so don’t start thinking I don’t. It’s because I love myself that I embarked on this twenty month hiatus from caramel corn.

If I can get through over six years of school to obtain my degree, surely I can get through this little season. June of 2021 is when this hardware disappears. Based on my perception of time, it really isn’t a long time at all. It’s only 87 weeks, or 608 days. You know how fast a week goes right?

SO TRUE!

Just make a commitment to do something (like posting a blog once a week) and you’ll see right away. As it turns out, I remembered an incident involving caramel corn (and smoke alarms) that will be the topic for next week’s post. You’ll want to catch it I promise!

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

What in the __ are you doing here?

This was the universal response last week when I showed up unexpectedly in my hometown.

You see, it was my mom’s birthday. And this woman is difficult to shop for. She doesn’t want much, and rarely splurges on herself. And so I decided she needed flowers, and that I should personally deliver them.

So while she was working away, I walked in holding an orchid (it will last longer than a bouquet). It took her a moment to realize it was me! And then she giggled all afternoon thinking about it. I proceeded to also surprise my sister-in-law at her office, then both nieces, then my brother.

She was surprised alright!

Each time, the look I received was akin to that of someone seeing a ghost. Are my eyes playing tricks? Is my daughter – sister – aunt from Florida really standing in front of me on a random Tuesday afternoon?

My nephews read a message not intended for them, ruining their surprise, but not their excitement. And while I was there, I got to hold baby Emerson and whisper how much his Great Auntie Sherri from Florida loves him.

Yep. Sometimes I miss all these wonderful people whose blood I share. Sometimes I miss seeing red barns and silos. Old tractors and green cornfields. Sometimes I simply miss fresh, delicious sweet corn and tomatoes.

Perhaps a future art subject?

The Midwest maintains its predictable and peaceful charm. There was a quiet tempo which I can now appreciate. The famous Mark Twain Overlook, named in honor of Samuel Clemens, a one-time resident there, provided a moment of reflection along with the fabulous view.

The Mighty Mississippi which flows West in Muscatine, making this a great spot for sunset.

It was good to drive around and reminisce. I spent a few minutes driving through Weed Park (yes, we sometimes took this literally). I drove by the house my grandmother lived in, and out to the original family farm.

I ate Happy Joe’s Special Pizza – Sauerkraut and Canadian Bacon, my personal food highlight. You can’t get it anywhere else, and eating there is non-negotiable. I also indulged in a grilled steak dinner with fresh eggplant, tomatoes and yes, sweet corn. I can’t tell you how many ears I ate, because I did not bother counting. I just kept eating until I was full.

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

It was the first time I’ve ever been really sad to leave. Also, did I mention it was 75 degrees and sunny with low humidity? My people, the food and perfect summer weather were all just amazing, and my heart is full again.

What makes your hometown visits memorable? Is it a restaurant and a park? What are the things you must do when you end up there? I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

Ode to Paul

There was a funeral today for a sweet family member at my church. And since the bulk of my heartfelt writing energies were invested in preparing a short message for the service, I share it with you as well.

ODE TO PAUL
What in the world can I even say,
As we gather to honor Paul on this Saturday.

Paul was around at almost the beginning,
Even then he knew when he saw a good thing.

“I was the original drummer!”, he would say,
When drumsticks were lost often, back in that day.

Paul was messy, but Paul was sweet,
Even though he was no longer on his feet.

He served with a smile and sometimes a snore,
Yes, there were a few Sundays he fell asleep at the door.

He had lots of ideas for us, the church staff,
And a few practical jokes, the man loved to laugh.

Paul would have grand schemes for all to carry out,
Though sometimes his plans were not well thought out.

But Paul was positive regarding anything new,
Especially when it gave him something to do.

He would embrace the latest changes with a smile,
Not only would he help, but then go the extra mile.

This little round man signed up for everything,
What he lacked in skill, he made up for in attempting.

His heart was always in the right place,
But a mess he tended to make, no matter the space.

Cooking, parking, greeting, and softball, too.
There was not a task anywhere he would not do

Almost daily, the church office received a call
He was caring about people, his church crowd, after all.

He was always on Team Suncoast, a most loyal fan,
Paul was faithfully a servant among his fellow man.

He loved everything about his family the most.
He will be surely missed by them, and by all of us at Suncoast.

Paul McDaniel, one of our most loyal volunteers. Rest in peace.

Ten things to be sure of when doing hot yoga.

For those unacquainted, you pay perfectly good money to enter a sauna-like heated room to practice yoga. As opposed to turning off the air conditioning, or simply going outside. It’s a dry heat (100 – 105 degrees), and this allows for deeper stretches and more calories burned. It’s challenging for sure, and these tips may help you to not die.

  1. Be sure to hydrate the day before. What did I do the day before? I sipped lime-flavored White Claws all afternoon at the pool, and then in the evening enjoyed a couple of glasses of sangria with dinner. So yes, hydrate before hand, or be very sorry during the workout.
  2. Be sure to have a full bottle or two of water at hand during the class. What did I have? A measly 12 oz. tumbler, which was nearly dry halfway through the class.
  3. Be sure to have a full towel for your mat, and another towel for your face, and another towel to sit on when you leave. What did I have? Just a small hand towel for my face. The upholstery in my car needs a good shampoo for sure, and my mat needs a solid wipe down to counter the sweat it absorbed. Gross.
  4. Be sure to place your mat carefully upon arriving at class. I prefer to be near near the air conditioner vents. This will save your soaking-wet-self during the last 10 minutes of class. At this juncture it feels slightly less hot because they bring the temperature of the room closer to that of Earth instead of Venus. You might begin breathing normally sometime soon after.
  5. Be sure to have the most handsome instructor to ever walk the planet leading the practice. Bonus if he has a sexy accent, say, from somewhere south of the Equator. This will keep you from walking out or giving up without at least trying to hold the poses. And you don’t want to embarrass yourself. You don’t want to leave his very presence. It was definitely hot yoga…
  6. Be sure to remember your form, and watch your alignment in the mirror. If you have the most handsome instructor leading your class, feel free to modify. Perhaps it’s okay to hit a pose IMproperly so that he has to come by and correct your posture, with his hands right on your body.
  7. Be sure to have your friends come with you. I went to the first class solo, but will definitely be sharing this with my crew. I’m not selfish.
  8. Be sure to have plenty of time afterwards to go home. You will be drenched and disgusting and in desperate need of a cold shower and more water. Do not plan to be seen by others right away, especially if you get a tomato-face like I do when I am overheated.
  9. Be sure to say prayers of gratitude for your body, and that you did not actually die during the class, though you were convinced of this likely outcome about 7 minutes into the 60 total you just endured.
  10. Be sure to be kind to yourself the rest of the day. And go ahead and sign up for the next class while the image of the most handsome instructor is still fresh. Delaying your registration could coincide with the soreness of your body, keeping you away forever more.

Maybe I’ll review the other studios in town, write about them, and eventually become a secret shopper who writes amazing reviews. I’d need to remove my photo in case people recognize me and start giving me extra goodies in exchange for my writing talents. This could spill over to restaurants too, where I could enjoy free food. Maybe I’m onto something…

Stay tuned for more – there are a few other classes I’m taking while my 10-day pass is good. If you’re in SRQ and you’re curious about this particular studio, send a message and I’ll gladly share.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri