Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Salute to Coach Z

Special people...

...we all have them in our lives.

Those special people who, especially when we're young, influence us in ways that can't be counted. Those special people who inspire us...guide us...believe in us...and perhaps change the course of our lives.

I was fortunate to have several people in my life that I looked up to, and wanted to emulate as I got older.

One of those special people was "Coach Z".

Coach Z was our high school boys' team basketball coach...but that didn't mean anything to me. I didn't play basketball, nor was I a boy.

However...Coach Z was also our high school Psychology teacher...and it was within that setting that I most remember him.

I took Psychology I as a sophomore, and from the minute I walked into Coach Z's classroom, I knew he was different than the average high school teacher. He was memorable from the minute when he actually greeted me as I walked into the classroom - something that most other teachers didn't bother with. That initial greeting. He made me feel...welcome.

He then proceeded to teach...but his teaching style was very different from the average high school teacher, as well. He wouldn't sit behind his desk - ever. Oh, no. Coach Z would always come around and perch on his desk, using the surface as his seat - getting just that much closer to the students in the classroom. He made us feel...like we mattered.

After he'd get settled on his desk, he would begin to talk...and that's when the magic really happened. Coach Z had a way of telling a story like no other...he brought you into the story - made you a part of it - and he had us hanging on every word. He made us feel...like we were equals.

He brought Psychology to life that semester...and if you've ever had anything to do with Psychology, you know it can be dry as bones, for the most part. But not with Coach Z. He'd take the concept of Psychology and then weave a story of how that concept applied in "real life" - and I. was. hooked. Period. With a capital "P".

Psychology II was offered second semester - but a small problem existed. I was "only" a sophomore - and normally, Psych II was offered only to juniors or higher. I pleaded my case with Coach Z, who went to bat for me with our administration - and I was in. Boy, oh boy - the only sophomore in a class of upperclassmen? I felt AWESOME!

But I wasn't there to gloat in my specialness...I was there to learn more about Psychology...and hear more of Coach Z's stories. If there'd been a Psych 3 or 4...or 15...I would have been there. Coach Z believed in me...he'd talk with me after class, asking me what I was going to do when I got out of high school.

Years later, I went on to college - and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to teach. And I wanted to teach Psychology. Just like Coach Z. So - my degree ended up being Secondary Education with emphasis in Psych and Sociology. My life-long love affair with teaching - and psychology - began in that 10th grade classroom. With Coach Z.

I've ended up not teaching Psychology, per se...but I do teach. I've taught classes at the hospital where I worked for many years, and I currently do a lot of teaching with the American Red Cross. And my teaching style is very, very similar to Coach Z. I'll perch. On the desk. And I tell stories. I don't know if I'm quite at the caliber of story-telling of Coach Z, but I'd like to think I'm doing him justice. Even if my stories aren't as good as his, I do one thing that he taught me. I respect my students. I treat them as human beings worthy of respect and my time. Cuz' that's what he did.

I never saw Coach Z after I graduated..so it's been over 30 years. While reading this morning's paper, I came across his obituary...Coach Z passed away last week. He and his wonderful stories are now gone.

I read that after he left teaching, he drove a tour bus for awhile - in the Branson, Missouri area - and I can just picture him, sharing his stories with his passengers. Of course, I would hope he wasn't perching on the steering wheel while talking, but with Coach Z, you would just never know what to expect.

Here's to you, Coach Z.



Monday, May 28, 2012

An Apple A Day? This Could Get Expensive!


My name is Sherri and I am a gadget-aholic.

I'm not really sure where my addiction to all-things-new-and-shiny-and-techy started...but I know I have suffered from this affliction for as long as I can remember, and I also know it drives my Hubby nuts.

NUTS, I'm tellin' ya'.

In all fairness, I should lay the blame totally at the feet of the late Steve Jobs and his Apple products, which I swear have some sort of intoxicating, addicting chemicals laced through them...so, it's not my fault. Well....that's my story, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

This past week, due to forces beyond my control, my Mac laptop was somewhat...incapacitated. (Okay - I was dumb and left it plugged in during a tremendous lightning storm. My bad. I guess it WAS in my control...but I digress.)

While hyperventilating in a state of apoplectic shock, I quickly took Mac into the local Mac emergency room...i.e., the nearest Apple store. There, the wonderful Apple doctors quickly fixed me up and sent me on my way - at no charge, no less! Those guys are really awesome there, which is why I am hooked on all-things-Apple.


Now, the story would have ended here on a happy note if I wasn't suffering from severe Apple-hoarding syndrome...which is a symptom of my deeper affliction, Gadgetaholism.

Seriously...don't send me into a candy store and expect me to not buy any candy.

Just the SMELLS inside the Apple store do me in.

So, several hundred dollars later, I walked out of the Apple store with an upgraded iPhone...darn it.

Because, you know, my old iPhone was ancient at three years and four versions ago. It was soooooo yesterday.

Now I have Siri. And it's white.

And it's shiny. And it's new.

Instant love.

Sigh. I don't think this is what they meant when they say, "An Apple a day keeps the doctor away...."

I need help.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Running for a Cause

Whew, I'm exhausted.

Today was my first BIG race of the season...the 1st Annual Martin City .1K, which benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

And yes...you read that right...it was a .1K - or a staggering 323 feet of major obstacles, such as uneven asphalt, traffic cones, parking stripes, restroom lines and beer lines.

It was grueling.

All 323 feet.

No, really. Grueling...before it even started...as it called for - gasp - costumes!!!

Hubby and I put a lot of time and effort in our costumes (snort) and this is what we came up with:

I'm an "Olympic Torch Bearer" and Hubby is "A Running Parrothead".

Hey. It worked. It was cheap, easy and comfortable.

So, we get to the event, and I decided to "scout" the course a head of time to check for hazards, roadblocks and obstructions...

The first few feet of the course was uphill, so yes..."slow" would be only natural here - but I'm glad they forewarned us.

I then came across the following:

"Stop Sag"??? What does that mean? I'm all for stopping sag, especially if it's MY body parts we're talking about - but I guess I'm a little confused on this one. Were we to stop for sags crossing the road? Or stop for a sag? Oh well. Moving on.

Midway through the run, there was a donut stop - for refueling in this marathon:

About 3/4 of the way through, the organizers knew our energy would be waning and our spirits sagging (SAGGING! There's that word again!!)...and in preparation, they gave us a boost of encouragement:

After I checked out the course, I thought I would check out my competition. Medals were to be awarded, and I wanted a leg up on what I was dealing with. Speaking of legs, check out this team:

That was the Stiletto Heels Division 1st Place Relay Team...which actually came in dead-last for the race, no thanks to the guy in heels.

We then had this ringer - a true "walker" in every sense of the word:

I figured I could take her.

Soon, it was time to start....we began with a soulful rendering of the national anthem:

And then - the participants lined up, and we're OFF!

Um, yeah...my friend Jackie and her little friend were BLAZING out of the gate, but because they didn't pace themselves, I think they quickly burnt themselves out...pacing, folks. It's all about pacing.

Now...Hubby and I paced ourselves very nicely around the course...Hubby paced himself right over to the donut table and indulged. I was too busy fighting the wind and trying to keep my torch lit to distract myself with empty carbs.

We finished a nice, respectable...um....we finished. Let's just leave it at that.

And in case you don't think this race was serious, we even had timing chips. Yup - a whole tray of chips:

And after the race, knowing we had to refuel and rehydrate, we finished up with this:

Life is good, my friends. Life is good.


Saturday, May 19, 2012


If there's one thing I am not lacking, it's kefi.

Yup - my kefi is very evident lately - which is a good thing, because if you've lost your kefi - then what's the point, really?

And what is kefi?

Passion...enthusiasm...zest for life.


Greeks have kefi. They have that passion...that enthusiasm...that zest for life.

And tonight, we celebrated our family's familial kefi by indulging in some delicious Greek food at a local restaurant, where belly-dancing, plate smashing, and ouzo abounds.

Although in the spirit of full disclosure, I should state here that I, personally, did not abound in belly-dancing, plate smashing or ouzo. Not only did I not abound, I didn't even partake. Although I was certainly tempted - especially the ouzo.

The food was delicious...we began with a shared appetizer of Saganaki, which is a flaming cheese served with pita bread. Yes - it's served flambe, which my kids thought was pretty awesome.

The cheese was hot, delicious and ooey-gooey...and we snarfed it up in no time.

For dinner, we each got something different...

...12-year old daughter enjoyed her Kotopoulo Riganato, otherwise known as broiled chicken seasoned with lemon and oregano...

...19-year old son knoshed on a Chicken Kabob, which was seasoned exactly the way he liked it...

...22-year old son went traditional with the Gyro Plate...

...Hubby went for the Pork Chops, which I wouldn't have thought of as "Greek" - but they were delicious...

...and I went for something new and different, the Dolmathes, where were grape leaves stuffed with ground beef topped with an egg lemon sauce. Delicious - especially the lemon sauce.

After dinner, we came home and popped in "My Life in Ruins" in the DVR, which is a delightful romantic comedy set against the stunning backdrop of beautiful Greece.

A great Greek night...celebrating our kefi.

Sometimes, it's fun to step outside our box...our comfort zones, if you will...and explore new foods...new cultures...new ideas. My kids were hesitant at first, but they all came away this evening with something they liked.

Their kefi was renewed.



Friday, May 18, 2012

Meet the Quackers

Over the years, our household population has expanded and decreased at various times...

...at one point, we had five kids and two adults...

...some kids moved on and moved out, but they would be replaced by a foreign exchange student here or there....

Over the last few years, our census has been slowly shrinking, as our little birds flee the nest.

And speaking of nests....

We now have three new members of our household.

Meet....the Ducks.

The Ducks moved into our backyard about a week ago, and they appear to be quite comfortable with their surroundings. Mama Duck appears to be a bit injured, and I'm not sure if her sore leg is what has "grounded" the ducks to our little abode - but it's been quite fun to watch their antics.

The two male ducks love to chase each other around in the back yard, while Mama Duck sits and chastises them. They just ignore her - as teenage males are prone to do with their interfering mama.

Things are no different in the animal world, apparently, as they are in the people world.

When the boys aren't causing trouble, they sit...quietly and loyally...taking care of their mama. We've watched them as they waddle along beside her as she limps her way down to our dock, which fortunately, isn't too far.

And you're probably wondering...really? You're blogging about a trio of ducks in your back yard? Why am I still here? Why am I still reading this?

But if you ARE still reading this...then you know just how kinda' cool it is to have ducks...in your own backyard.

Life can move pretty fast - and it's moments like these, when you stop and watch the ducks, that makes it all worthwhile.



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Learning to Listen

Well...it's official.

I've been assigned my bib number for the upcoming Hospital Hill run on June 2, here in Kansas City.

Lucky number 6270.

Unfortunately, the 10k is pretty much not an option for me anymore. Nope. Not gonna' happen.

It had become increasingly evident that running long distances really aggravates adhesions from my gallbladder surgery a few months back. And when I say "aggravates", I mean as in - REALLY aggravates. A tight, pinching pain where the surgeon went in...creating discomfort in the most mundane things such as sitting and sleeping.

And when you're in extreme pain from just sitting or sleeping - you know you're in trouble.

Fortunately, though, the wonderful organizers of the Hospital Hill will allow me to drop down to the 5k on race day - which will still be a tad bit painful, but won't likely kill me, as the 10k would have.

Yes, I'm disappointed that I won't be running my first 10k...but knowing that I'm listening to my body and being aware of the cues it is sending me, I realize I'm doing the smart and wise thing....

It's sometimes hard to listen...whether we're listening to our children...or our spouses...or our friends...or our bosses...we sometimes tune them out and plow right on, thinking we "know better" and don't have to listen to anyone.

And we sometimes don't listen to even ourselves...such as when your body is telling you, "Slow down. Take it easy. I can't do this."

The old-me would have refused to listen to this, and would have plowed right on, running the 10k until I dropped. Pain be damned.

The new-me is learning to listen. To be patient. To know when to slow down. To know when to say no.

Yes, it would have been amazingly-awesome to have conquered a 10k before I turn 50 in a month...but it's not to be, and I'm okay with that.

Time for a new goal.

Perhaps a 10k before I turn 90.

Sounds like a plan.



Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: Jersey Boys

Growing up as a child of the 60's and 70's, with a name of "Sherri", I was constantly subjected to classmates and friends serenading me with the classic tune, "Sherry Baby"....

...you know the one...the Frankie Valli & Four Seasons classic from 1962, where the guys croon, "Won't you come out tonight??!!"

I hated it.

Oh, I hated it. I would gnash my teeth, clench my jaws, and suffer through it, as I lamented, "Why, oh why, did I get a horrible, sucky name like 'Sherri'"?

Over the years, my name kinda' grew on me - either that, or I just got too old to sweat the small stuff, like a sucky first name - and I eventually even began kinda' liking my name.

So, when the Broadway hit show, "Jersey Boys", came to Kansas City on tour - which tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - I was first in line to get tickets.

Hubby and I gussied up a bit last night, because - well, after all - I WAS the guest of honor. I mean, there's a freakin' SONG all about ME in this show, so I wanted to be looking chic and fly.

We headed down to the Music Hall, and there we partook in the fun of "Jersey Boys."

Now, this show has been around since 2005...but hasn't been to Kansas City before - so it was my first time to see it. I knew it had garnered not one, not two, but FOUR Tony Awards in 2006 - including Best Musical - so I was expecting great things.

And for the most part - it delivered.

It follows the rise - and fall - and eventual rise again - of the original Four Seasons...and the story, as written, was done uniquely and creatively. Loved the story, so I will give it an A+.

The set design, as well as the staging, was also unique - it was choreographed down to a science, and it was obvious that much rehearsal had to be done to get it so polished. A+ on this, as well.

Where the show fell a little flat for me was in the music. Now, don't get me wrong - the music is great, and the entire audience was singing along and having a great time.

But...trying to find someone who is NOT Frankie Valli - and asking them to SING like Frankie Valli - is asking a lot. I mean, really? The ONLY guy who can do Frankie Valli justice is Frankie Valli himself. He's got SUCH a unique voice, that asking someone else to "do" him is asking the impossible.

Oh, they had good actors...who did a pretty good job at giving us the ESSENCE of the Four Seasons - but it wasn't exact. I'll give them a B on the singing.

And for show overall? B+

So - all in all, we had a great time - seeing a great show - listening to some awesome nostalgic music -

And hearing MY song. It's all about me.

Sherry, baby.



Sunday, May 6, 2012

One Proud Parent

What a difference four years makes.

Yesterday, my oldest son graduated from Truman State University...and what a proud mama I am.

Four years ago, after we had moved him into the dorm, we began the long 3-hour drive home without him - and I bawled.

Yup. I bawled.

How was my "baby" going to make it without his mama?

Would he get up in time for his classes?

Would he make friends?

Would he even GO to classes and pass them?

What if he got lost on campus? What if he got hurt?

What if - gasp! - he forgot to wash his underwear??!!


I guess he did just fine...he graduated yesterday with a double major in Philosophy and Religion, and a double minor in Spanish and Classics.

As far as friends?

He made lots...including a girlfriend that he's been seeing for a year.

Time marches on...kids grow up...he now plans on going on to graduate school in the fall, living in an apartment on campus.


Proud? Most definitely...

...but with that pride comes a bit of bittersweetness, as I realize that my "baby" isn't a baby anymore.

Congratulations to all the graduates yesterday at Truman, as well as everywhere around the world. You rock.



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Snakes On A Plane

On the flight down here last Saturday night, I mentioned previously that I sat next to a woman who entertained me for 3 hours with various stories...including stories about Floridian snakes.

Oh yes - it was truly a "Snakes on a Plane" experience - as she warned me about the dangers of the slithering, slimy serpents - and to be very careful about where I step while enjoying the Florida sunshine.

I laughed at the time, assuring her that in the two years we've had a house here, I've yet to see a snake.

So what happened on Sunday?

Yup. I see a snake.

Fortunately for me, it was slithering in the opposite direction of where I was walking - and being that it was slithering AWAY from my house, I was inclined to let it go on it's merry way. When asked to describe it later while talking to Hubby on the phone, all I could say was, "It was brown - and big."

Yeah, I'm known for my descriptive abilities...if asked to describe a car, I'll say, "It was red...and small." If I concentrate really hard, I might be able to conjure up, "It was red, small, and it was going really fast."

God forbid I ever witness a crime and I'm asked to give the police a description.

"Yes, your officer - I saw the suspect. He was a guy...and he was wearing pants." Hey - whatever I can do to help capture the perp.

Anyway, I thought it was ironic that I see my first snake - in TWO years - after talking with that lady.

Little did I know that my Close Encounters with The Slithering Kind was not over.

Today, I was messing around by the side of my house...re-arranging some landscaping rocks that have sat in a pile since the dawn of time.

Apparently, a kingsnake had taken up residence in those rocks...figuring since the rocks have been there since Caveman days, he was pretty safe.

(And let me just insert here that yes, I know I was the stupid one...piles of rocks sitting since Caveman days probably have a good reason to be left untouched.)


As I was moving some of the rocks, the kingsnake decided to let me know that this was HIS abode...slithering up into my face, effectively staring me down...and man, I am normally not known for how fast I can move, but I'm telling you, I jumped back 20 feet in a nanosecond...and then I had a full-blown heart attack...and I'm pretty sure that I was a half-second away from a dead faint.

Holy CRAP!!!!

Now, I know King snakes are harmless...unless you're a lizard...but STILL.

Coming face-to-face with a snake is NOT on my bucket list, last time I checked.

And if you ask me to give a description of this perp, all I can remember is, "He was black...and he was SCARY."

And thanks, Lady On the Plane, for talking about snakes. I'm flying home tomorrow, and I'm praying to God that I sit next to someone who wants to talk about rainbows and unicorns and lollipops. Or chocolate.

That I can handle.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012



After spending the last few days in Ft Myers on a solo trip, the following truths have become evident:

...no children to have to set a good example for...

...no Hubby to have to cook dinner for...

...I've expended 3,295,592 calories the last few days with the cleaning, sorting, organizing, gardening, landscaping, etc...




I think a few indulgences are now in order...

I'm reading "Fifty Shades of Grey"....

...and I'm having THIS little beauty for dinner tonight:

Life is good.



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Am Woman...Hear Me Roar

Twenty years ago, I took an auto mechanics course at my local community college. There was nothing more thrilling than learning about changing oil, checking spark plugs, and changing a tire, among other things.

And of course, I maintained everything that I learned 20 years ago and I consider myself quite the expert when it comes to auto maintenance.




Bwahahahahahahaha. Okay, that made me laugh.

In reality, here's the extent of my auto knowledge: if I put the key in and the car starts, yay for me! If I put the key in and the car doesn't start, boo-hiss for me - and a quick call is made to Hubby for help.

However, I did impress myself this week...here in Florida, I got to reconnect the battery on my car. That's so the darn thing doesn't go dead - again - like it decided to do the LAST time I was here....so now, the battery gets disconnected between trips.

Oh what fun it was, hanging out under the hood of my car and getting my hands oily.


That's only been part of the fun, though...this week, I've managed to:

1. Scrub all 10,000 tiles on the floor - by hand - to remove sheetrock dust, tile dust, and contractor's dirty boot prints....nine months of remodeling will create quite a mess, trust me.

2. Re-connect the phone, internet, and printer - which not being an electrical person, I was QUITE proud of conquering where every mysterious cord & wire & thingamajiggy went - and successfully, at that....

3. Arrange for the air-conditioning to get serviced, as it sounded like the Amazon Rain Forest in my garage - drip, drip, drip...(we must have a clog??? Again, no surprise there - lots of dust flying through this house the past year)....

4. Arrange for the pool to be serviced, as it appears the pool heater went ka-put last month and blew oil into the pool....ew, right? Not exactly the kind of oil I put on before I go tanning....

5. After discovering a geyser in my front yard on Sunday, and deducing that a sprinkler head was blown, I spent 3 hours last night digging out 25 other sprinkler heads from the grass that has choked them off...by hand...in the wet, muddy ground...just me, the worms, and the ants. Thankfully - no snakes. Or grubs. If I had come across a grub, that would have been the end of THAT little chore.

6. Arrange for a power-wash on my roof tomorrow, as my once-white roof has turned a greenish-black in the Florida humidity...this is one job that I can't do myself, as I'd fall off and break my neck - so I've brought in the big guns.

There's been no time for swimming...relaxing...or horrors - shopping. Heck, I'm doing good to fit in eating (which is probably a good thing) - but still...

I fly home on Friday, and if I play my cards right, I might...perhaps...maybe...squeeze in one beach day on Thursday.

And by golly, I'll have EARNED that day at the beach.

I am woman. Hear me roar.