Cheryl Meryl

hug-people-you-like-to-mean-itThis past week, I got a text from a former neighbor, Cheryl, whom I dubbed Cheryl Meryl, she was in town for a few days and wanted to stop by for a minute.  I can’t tell you how happy it is for me to see my Cheryl Meryl.  She is so unique and beautiful.  She looks how I think Olive Oyl would look, tall and lanky, beautiful neck, a face that doesn’t take life too seriously — when she walks her mind and head leads her long legs, and often her hands will be behind her back, and that’s my Cheryl Meryl.

Cheryl Meryl loves to cook and loves to cook healthy.  When she was still my neighbor, she made a dish with tofu and said it tasted just like hamburger.  Um, nope, it didn’t, and I told her that, and she laughed that incredible laugh. And now I do love tofu in Japanese fare, but not as a substitute for meat, hello?  I’m a country gurl.

They moved just a couple of years after we moved into the neighborhood, but when I see her it’s like I saw her just the day before.  And that face, I can’t take my eyes off it, because it’s so Cheryl Meryl. And she speaks without any filter at all, just tells it like it is, and I love that because everything is understood, this is her life and it’s complicated, and it’s a bit lonely and random, and it’s free-spirited and somehow very lucky.

The girl who doesn’t take things too seriously, has been given some pretty serious things in life, most notably, when her hubby had cancer and she took care of him until he passed away a few years ago.  And now she lives in a cottage in her home town in Iowa, and she knows everyone, and everyone knows her, and she’s making it work, and getting out and about, and she touches the lives of those in need just by being Cheryl Meryl. And then someone will leave her money or a car, and she invests and cashes stuff in and travels to see her kids or her friends and she lets life lead her like she walks, head long, striding with her hands behind her back.

But, the best thing about Cheryl Meryl, and one of the most treasured gifts she ever gave me was a lesson in hugging.  She gives full on body hugs, and when I hug her, I just melt like butter and she said, “Never end the hug until the one who started it ends it.”  I loved that, and I have been a better hugger since that lesson.  And when we hug, we really don’t know who started it, because it’s just like “Here you are!” and long arms reach around each other’s bodies, and we laugh and we hold on, and it fills us up, you know?  It’s like from the tips of our toes to the tops of our heads, we are “full up” with love.

It’s one of those amazing experiences in life, to know someone so briefly, but to feel them inside your body as if you are carrying them with you.  I need to get that hug whenever she’s in town so I can be “full up” with Cheryl Meryl, and those hugs I give now, they are like Cheryl Meryl hugs, and they fill me up from everyone, and I make sure to hug long enough to fill them up, too, and so, because of her, I am full up of so much love from so many people.

I suggest you try it sometime.  Go ahead and hug someone close, and don’t let go until you wanna.  Yes, that’s the thing about Cheryl Meryl hugs, they aren’t the “proper 3 second hugs” , or the “one arm hugs” (give us a break!) they are the deep, loving, holding on until the hug is finished hugs.  Once you try it, you’ll know what I mean, and if either of us see you?  Yah, we’ll be hugging you and you’ll be “full up” with love.


Mrs Korwin, Kids and Kidneys…Pass it on.

Reblogging with new number to call for donor information. Please pass this on if the spirit moves you! Share anywhere, Tony’s donor is out there, just need to let them know he’s in need. Thank you from the bottom of a friend’s heart. God be with you.



I awoke from a dream where I was with our grade school nurse, Mrs Korwin.  At a very young age, I began having a “nervous stomach” where I thought for sure I would throw up, and missed several days of school by actually throwing up.  No one knew what to do with me, because as soon as it was understood that I was staying home, I was fine, watching Leave it to Beaver, and eating peanut butter sandwiches.  It really had my parents befuddled, and the sickness to me as that little girl was as real as the toes on the ends of my feet.

Cue, Mrs. Korwin, a robust woman, with a warm soft bosom and arms that would completely engulf me, and when she laughed her body would wiggle and it was the safest place I knew in those bewildering days.  Mrs. Korwin came up with a “pill”…

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Mrs Korwin, Kids and Kidneys…Pass it on.


I awoke from a dream where I was with our grade school nurse, Mrs Korwin.  At a very young age, I began having a “nervous stomach” where I thought for sure I would throw up, and missed several days of school by actually throwing up.  No one knew what to do with me, because as soon as it was understood that I was staying home, I was fine, watching Leave it to Beaver, and eating peanut butter sandwiches.  It really had my parents befuddled, and the sickness to me as that little girl was as real as the toes on the ends of my feet.

Cue, Mrs. Korwin, a robust woman, with a warm soft bosom and arms that would completely engulf me, and when she laughed her body would wiggle and it was the safest place I knew in those bewildering days.  Mrs. Korwin came up with a “pill” (no doubt a placebo) that was just for me, and if I felt sick, even if she wasn’t in her office, I could go in and take a pill from my very own bottle and lie down or go back to class.  Mrs. Korwin offered me a place of comfort and peace, that for some reason, I desperately needed. She understood me.

Later, in my final year of high school, she taught me psychology, there were just a few kids in this class, and she really lit the flame of my love of psychology, and at the time, I was in independent art, so she asked if I would paint a mural in her office over the bed, and I painted Winnie the Pooh and his buddies with Bandaids and crutches and a huge tree. It was a gift I could give her and she adored it and loved watching its progress.  Such an encourager.

Years later, I was bouncing my baby son on my hip when I saw her at a graduation and she told me her office was being moved, and  it was making her heart break that they couldn’t move the mural with her.  She made me smile.  She gave love so freely, and in that she brought healing.  She encouraged my love for healing, and she was the reason I went into the medical field, and studied Psych, and I bet there are hundreds of stories like mine from children in that small town, who just needed someone to validate who they were and take note of their special gifts.

I will always honor Mrs. Korwin as one of the greatest mentors of my life.  She lost her battle to cancer some years ago, and I am so glad that I saw her when I was bouncing Ricky on my hip.  I was able to say, “Thank you, because of you I’ve been taking care of the terminally ill, I have studied psychology, and am using my art to bring joy.  I will never forget you.”  She laughed that robust, belly jiggly laugh, and wrapped her arms around me and little Ricky to hide the tears in her eyes.  A moment in time forever caught in my store of beautiful memories.

I recently reconnected with her son, Tony, who is every bit his mother as an encourager and teacher. We all grew up together pretty closely, he was a year ahead, but when you only have 200 kids in your high school, you get to know one another fairly well.  Tony is a little fella, and has always been beloved among us for tons of reasons, he smiles easily, he just was a friend to everyone.  Not surprising that he was his mother’s son.

I found out through our renewed friendship that he had gone through heart surgery some years ago, and now has polycystic kidney disease.  This means that his kidneys are so full of cysts that they are unable to  filter out toxins anymore and he has just had surgery to put in a shunt that will help with dialysis.

I was reading what his students were writing about him, and it brought back the many memories I have of his mom:

“One of my favorite teachers needs a kidney. He unflinchingly allowed me to be the only girl in the computer club, in a tiny little farming town. I’ll never forget one of the teachers hesitantly buzzing him over the speaker system, saying “There’s a girl in here who says you need her to mess with the network cables in the back of our computers?” to which his voice came over the line: “Yes. Let her do it.”  (I love this one!) He also believed me when my cat ate my balsa wood bridge… apparently that’d happened to someone before.  He currently works to teach kids photovoltaics and he is kicking ass at it. Please spread the word.”
And more beautiful comments: You are the greatest teacher I’ve ever had“–Cynthia. “You helped me grow so much in these past three years.“–EF. “I felt like family when I was in your class.“–Francisco. “You bring an aura to people’s lives (that) just makes everyone want to smile.“–Cecilia. “You came to Desert Mirage the year we needed you most.” 
Sound familiar?  The beautiful red apple does not fall far from the tree.
I want to give back to Mrs. Korwin, and to honor her son who has given so freely what she has bestowed upon him — character, humor, empathy, insight, compassion, the desire to teach and watch children thrive. Here is Tony’s plea.  If one person should read this and feel the power of donation upon their heart, please call or write.

Tony’s picture is so much prettier than his kidneys, I think we should seek a matching kidney to go with his picture.  Don’t you?  Like his students say, Pass the word!

Hover or cover…

untitledThis is something that’s sort of creeped me out for a while.  Toilet seats.  I am a horrible hoverer.  I don’t hover well, I must sit.  I sometimes just sit on my fists so that any contamination can be washed away in the sink and I can use a paper towel to open the bathroom door.  Then they have those darn Dyson dryers that dry so hard and fast it looks like your skin is melting.  So, then I use the sleeve of my shirt to open the door to leave, and if I’m wearing short sleeves, I wrangle it open with my elbow, or the timing will be perfect where someone comes in just as I’m leaving.  And the best case scenario?  Doors that swing out when you leave.

Well, here’s the debunking of the hover vs cover dilemma.

This enjoyable video does two things,reinforces for me the desire to wait until I get home to pee, or carry Clorox wipes with me at all times, or just sit on down and git er done.

Thing is for those of you who hover, your aim stinks, and you have no qualms whatsoever (most of you) of leaving behind your body fluids on the toilet seat for the next person.  What’s with that?  If I should hover, and we know that I’m bad at it, and if some of my tinkle should get on the seat, I do wipe it away with toilet paper.  Seems only right.  But, then that makes me think that if someone else does that, how much of the germs will the toilet paper whisk away with their pee pee?

Let’s face it. you either are a germaphobe, and we do live in a world where most everyone thinks that  germs are the enemy (and they really aren’t completely, but that’s a blog for another day), or you’re not.  I’ve even witnessed fairly regularly ladies who go, but don’t wash hands after.  What?  Please?  Who is your mother?

Don’t even get me started on the automatic seat covers.  How about if they just go round and round and round and are never changed?  Yah.

I say, cover or hover, and do make sure not to touch the handle of the bathroom door, because that’s where the germs really
are, and you’re about to go and pickup your fork, or finger food, now aren’t you?  And if you’re not, you’re about to go and pick up the menu, and one of those ladies who didn’t wash?  Yah, that could have been the one she was holding…

What? Make the bed?

photo (7)This is the look every morning that I get from Eugene who insists on helping me make the bed, so one bit after the other bit, I have to ask him to get off, and then I pull up the sheets, and then “Off!” and I pull up the soft blanket, them “Off”, I pull up the quilt, and then finally one last “OFF!” and I fix up the comforter and the pillows and shams and VOILA! it’s done, in less than 2 minutes, because Eugene is quick on the “OFF!” and on. (Lily Belle got on for the photo-op.) 🙂

Making the bed, though, there’s something about it, it’s a statement that I’ve begun the day, and am on my feet.  I love that the bed is still warm from our bodies’ slumber, and the pillows, too.  I turn them over, and pull the sheets straight, and give just a quick flick of the sheets because someone once wrote that we shouldn’t make the bed upon rising because it captures all the “sleepiness” of the night before.  What?  What does that mean?  And why is that bad?  Maybe all that “sleepiness” from the night before will help us get to sleep tonight?

People are weird.  Also, people who wash their sheets everyday or every other day.  What’s with that?  Unless you are sliding around in a ton of seduction oils, are sick, or something like that, why would you wash your sheets so often?  I go to sleep all bathed and lotioned, and besides that, I hate laundry, so I’m not going to wash sheets everyday or every other day.  I know that this is gonna cause a stir, but I was my sheets every other WEEK.  Yes.  And we’ve lived through it.

I love getting into a bed all made and soft and cottony, and it’s been waiting for my weary body, and Rick’s, and we snuggle and it envelopes me and everything is peaceful and warm and safe.

If I don’t get to the bed in the morning, quite frankly, I’m not going to get to it at all, so then hubby makes it before we get into it.  There was a time that my former Neanderthal hubby didn’t touch the bedding except to sleep on it, but now he helps me make it after I wash the sheets even.  There are rules to it, tuck the top sheet under the mattress on his side, leave my side free and easy.  Put the top sheet on wrong side up, and then when we fold it down, the right side up will be seen when the bed is made, and the scratchy stitching will be out not in against our skin.  Two pillows each.  It’s bliss, I tell you.

In less than 2 minutes our bed is ready for our slumber, and everything looks set for the day. Actually, it’s looking pretty good to me right now, sort of inviting, like, it’s saying, “Come on, close the blinds, light a candle, fold down the blankets, and cuddle with me”, like some soft cottony seductive lover.  I must resist its temptation, and off to work I go, while the memory of its invitation lingers in my mind.


photo_3 (4) photo_2 (4) photo_1 (4) 224376_1019032159289_8419_n (1)It’s been a very long time since I’ve called my father daddy.  My sissies still call him that, and I feel a pang in my heart, wishing I could also.  Too much has passed since the days of “Daddy” to the “Dad” of the present.  I think I love my father more now than I ever had before, because now I love him with my eyes wide open.  He’s not some great man on a pedestal that I worshipped.  He’s a great man, who has done great things, touched the lives of many, and only God knows how many souls are in heaven because of his great ministry that continues to this day.

I have no sadness when it comes to my father, okay, maybe a little bit.  I love him.  I adore him.  With eyes wide open.  I pray my own children will be able to see me the same way, with eyes wide open and still love me and adore me, after most my life’s work has been done, and all the mistakes and all the promises, some broken, and all the good and the love and the sacrifices I made to be their mom.

My relationship with my dad is best and most memorable at his kitchen table in the very early morning after he’s gotten up and turned the Mets pillow on the couch back to show the Mets side, and after I have turned it back to show the red side without him seeing, because no true Cubs fan can actually have a Mets pillow anywhere near them without remembering 1969.  Sigh.  But, I guess Dad has gone to the dark side having moved out east with his wife.  Maybe in more ways than just the Mets pillow, or maybe the Mets pillow was just one more difference from his youngest daughter who is so much like him, but is doing it her own way with a little more, well, testes than he.  He grumbles a little when I say that to him, but he knows it’s true.  My dad isn’t one for conflict, where I feel conflict is a very healthy thing, not that I would look for it.  While it’s healthy, say, to get an inoculation, it’s not something I look forward to, you know?  But, I pull up my sleeve and take it when necessary.  Not my dad, he will avoid it at his own peril, and this has been proven.

I remember as a young girl, coming in at night after a date and sitting on the red shag carpet in his brown paneled study and talking to him.  He was always studying, probably studying for his PHD and he’d lay his book on his chest that had exactly 11 long straight hairs on it, and close his eyes and listen. I wanted to talk to him about love, and he loved to talk about love, he’s a believer in love, and has been greatly loved in his life and has greatly loved.  Each boy that I fell in love with, and there really were only two before I met my husband, he listened about them, everything I could say, and he would nod and smile.  I told him the tough stuff, too, and this is where his face would almost melt, this is not where he was well versed.  Conflict.

My dad is 90 years old, can’t hear so good, but still laughs at his girls, drives super well, and tells stories that brings his twinsies to tears when we visit him.  He says he prays for each loved one by name, in fact, almost all those he has loved, here and in heaven.  I made him prove it one year, and he closed his eyes and for a full ten minutes he listed them all, he’d grimace here and there as a name eluded him, but it would come and his voice would get full of emotion when he prayed for his twin brother in heaven, and his father and mother, but he listed us all, down to in-law children, and family I hadn’t even met.  And tears streamed down my face wiped away with my sleeve.

His wife Hertha is 92 and a stoic German lady who finds the tears troubling.  “Why cry, Fred?”  And will think they are tears of sadness, and you know, maybe they are, we cry because we are together, we can hear each other’s voices (as best as we can), see each other’s faces.  You can’t imagine how blessed we feel to be together still, oh, wait, I bet you can and I’m sorry for your sorrow.

Twinsie and I are so excited.  We are planning our trip out to see them in just a few weeks.  We are antiquing our way through the southern states for five days before we pull into the drive of their home, we will find a little gem or two for our dad and Hertha, and they will oooh and aaah and it will be there on dad’s desk in his study when we come the next year, God willing.  This year will be harder as dementia like a thief continues to steal Hertha’s precious memory and leaves her confused, but we will engage her and her beautiful smile will light up and her feminine laugh will ring.  We will roll up our sleeves and help them with the work they need done, even if it’s just one of us keeping Hertha busy while dad has a sit with his other twin so she can soothe him and let him talk.

We will go to their favorite Italian place, him driving, and I will watch his face in the rear view mirror and just be amazed that we are here with him.  We will sit at the table and the waitresses will know them, and he will proudly say these are his twinsies all the way from Chicago, and he will tell us a story and we will cry, and laugh, and Hertha will “tsk tsk” as she sips her manhattan and we will be a little shy at our open and honest display of emotion, and I will glance at my dad, and  look into those milky blue eyes and still find Daddy.


“Life is not orderly. No matter how we try to make it so, right in the middle of it we die, lose a leg, fall in love, or drop a jar of applesauce.” ― Natalie Goldberg


I guess, I should let you know that this blog will be written using the principles of “free writing”.  Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones, teaches a writer to release the editor, and feel free to write the freshest thoughts in your mind.  These are the “pearls” of this blog.  They are my pearls, and no one else’s, though they may be spawned by someone, in the end, they grew and gave birth in my heart and mind, and so, they are my thoughts, freely written.

I started writing maybe a million years ago, it feels like that, but the exact moment was when hubby and I had our last marital counseling session in November of 1990, the Monday before Thanksgiving to be exact.  We had taken off that day to have this session because we normally met with Bill on Thursdays promptly at five pm, though we…

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