Friday, June 2, 2023

School Days/Summer Days


The school year is over! Literally Thank God!  Tough year but also a wonderful year. Fantastic 6th graders I had to say good-bye to ( or really see you again) and some very tough cookies that I'm happy to move along to the next part of their educational journey. 

Summer is here and I'm so happy to have this new summer. Last year at this time I was still healing from surgery and it was a thrilling day to just walk up and down the driveway and then eventually around the block. It was a hard and happy time; this summer I'm ready to take that healing to a new level with lots of yoga, walking, and bike riding. I've also got plenty of days set aside for reading on my patio and meeting up with friends.

We are headed to the Redwood Forest this summer and I'm very exciting as this trip has been on my bucket list for a long time, yes since childhood! I have 6 days for open library time at Hansen this year. I love to see students coming through the door excited to find summer reading material. It's a joy and I didn't get to do it last summer. 

I will reminisce about sitting on the patio with my mom, playing cards with her time after time,  or taking her to Scoopski's for rhubarb crumble ice cream as I make my way through this summer but hopefully most will be happy thoughts and positive reflections. Some days it still seems so surreal. 

Monday, May 1, 2023

Happy May Day


All in one week there is so much to celebrate; May Day, May 4th (may the 4th be with you), and Cinco De Mayo! That is a lot of joy.  And I have high hopes the weather is going to turn warm and spring-like soon.  April was a little rough with the weather and my emotions all over the place.  Things are going to get better and I am ready for summer break this year. 

My wise words of advise:

Make a plan! Yes, decide and organize how you want your end-of-life moment. 

Do the things on your bucket list - find adventure

Do what you need to do for self -care (less party, more yoga)

Learn to get rid of things - pass them on please!

Celebrate your friendships - laugh a lot.

I loved my mom but she was disorganized and kept too much stuff.  I'm still going through stuff. I had to wade through stacks of paper to find the most important insurance papers, etc. Be joyful...and organized! I'm still a work in progress but I'm working on it.  

Sunday, March 19, 2023

My mama

Judith Ann Cherry

January 15, 1939 - March 17, 2023

Judy Cherry, 84, of Waverly, IA, passed peacefully Friday, March 17, 2023 at the Cedar Valley Hospice, Waterloo. Judy struggled with a blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) for many years, eventually succumbing to it. She lived longer than expected and the extra time allowed her to enjoy many visits from and amazing meals with family and friends. 

The daughter of Lavera Ann (Westendorf) and Ewald Bruch, Judy was born January 15, 1939 in Waterloo, IA. She graduated from East High School in 1957 and attended nursing school for one year at Coe College before choosing a different path. She married Roger Matz on April 12, 1958 and together they had four children: Mike, Michelle, Chris and Jason.  On December 31, 1998, Judy married James Cherry in Cedar Falls and the couple made their home in Ventura and then Waverly. 

Judy completed her education at Minnesota State University, Mankato and had many life roles: she was a mom, a dreamer, a traveler, a wife, a friend, a businesswoman. She struck people with her fun-loving and eccentric personality.  

Judy began her professional career as a teacher in Sleepy Eye, MN before helping her husband Roger acquire and manage small newspapers including The Redfield Press and The Spirit Lake Beacon. Judy later owned and operated the Okoboji Grill, in Okoboji, IA where she especially enjoyed working with the young staff. Judy loved good food, travel, boating Minnesota lakes and rivers, reading books and magazines, games, movies, and documentaries. She loved and cared for many family dogs. Judy gardened all her life and in recent years grew beautiful tomatoes that she shared freely. 

She was a gourmet home chef and loved cooking meals from the many cookbooks collected on her travels around the country and to Europe.  Passing a love of good food to her children, Judy in later years appreciated watching us cook for her while talking and enjoying a glass of wine. Dining with family and friends was one of Judy’s greatest joys. 

Judy was a wonderful grandmother and enjoyed caring for young grandchildren, taking them on adventures and outings and shuttling them to ski, dance, soccer, baseball, and hockey. She was a sharp and competitive Spite and Malice player and especially loved teaching it and playing it with her grandchildren. All the better when she won!

Young people enjoyed talking with Judy and she loved getting to know people and was compassionate in her views of the world.  She was interested in politics and things that were happening in the world around her. 

Surviving are her husband of 24 years, Jim Cherry of Waverly; her children Mike (Sally Shuffield) Matz, of Durango, CO; Michelle (Greg) Holt, of Cedar Falls; Chris (Jennifer Reynolds) Matz, of Denver, CO and Jason (Stephanie) Matz, of Deephaven, MN; her grandchildren: Carson, Celia, Kaylee, Tristan, Japhy, Henry, Sawyer, Wynn, Rider, Marin, Jasper, and Beckett; her step-children Mike (Audra) Cherry, Dana (Mark) Watson, and Kim (Tony Green) Cherry; her step-grandchildren Rebecca, Ryan, Leah, Tyler, Nate, Jacob, and Rolie; and her 6 step-great grandchildren as well as many good friends. 

Preceding her in death are her first husband, Roger, and brothers Robert and Wayne. 

Services will be at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Waverly at 2:00 pm on Friday, March 24. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Cedar Valley Hospice would be appreciated. 

Post Note: Two of my siblings and I wrote, rewrote and edited this tribute to my mom and then find out that obituaries are the. main means for newspaper cash flow! I wanted to share the whole thing with everyone because an edited version will appear in local papers.  She lived a full and happy life.  Cheers!

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Collective Wisdom

March is known for several holidays like St. Patrick's Day and Lent, Spring Break in some places but I appreciate  March for Women's History. Collective Wisdom; Lessons, Inspiration, and Advice from women over 50 by Grace Bonney.  My friend Verda gifted this to me on my birthday last year and I've still not made it through the whole collection.  What I love most is to browse through and read the quotes from all the profiles. 

Like Betty Reid Soskin, 100-year-old from California and the oldest National Park Ranger in the U.S. who says:  

"I have been many women. They come and they go, and some of them I would have loved to have stayed with me longer, but the fact that I have been all those things has made life, for me, very rich."

and JoAni Johnson, a 69-year-old model from New York, NY who says: "When you've been around the sun so many times and have a variety of experiences and you're able to stay standing - that's resilience."

or Julia Alvarez, a 71-year-old Dominican American poet and author: "I feel that I'm a bead in the necklace of the generations." 

or Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, a 63-year-old Iranian journalist who shares this: 

"One of the most amazing things in our lives, regardless of how we describe our sexuality or gender identity, is the power of motherhood. And by that, I mean the power of nurturing: nurturing other humans, I think everyone has the ability to do this in some form, and it can be so empowering. To care for others and use our strengh to lift up others."

I am inspired every time I open up the pages of this book and find something new to read. I connect with the women, their journeys, and message. We know and herald our famous women but many of these profiles are about women making a difference in their families and communities. I am someone who is always open to ideas and am in constant motion to learn more.  Whether you have this book or not, find an inspiring story to read about Seneca Falls, or any part of women's history to help us bridge the gap of what we are dealing with today. We need more brave souls like Lucy Stone.

Friday, March 3, 2023


I had a 60-min massage last Saturday and it was wonderful!  I booked it at the beginning of the month just as a little love-myself treat for February and I'm so glad I followed through. It was cold in the morning but the sun was out. I bundled up in a comfy sweater and my favorite pair of joggers because you need to be comfortable and warm before and after. I also lugged my water bottle with me.  The last massage I had was soon after surgery but because of my incision it was more like a massage for a pregnant person. I was excited to return for a more regular experience. Treating myself to this is a big deal and one I appreciate. My friend Greg at Prairie Yogi Massage is worth it - because of his yoga experience he knows a lot about the body and he moved my limbs around a lot to help stretch areas that he worked on. I plan to try to go every few months to help stay in tune. 

My commitment to treating myself  well also falls under my love for yoga and healthy eating. I want to grow older gracefully. I always want to be able to sit on the floor, get back up, to touch my toes, and to take long walks. I don’t necessarily do yoga as exercise but more to keep flexibility. 

I'm adding more vitamins to my morning regiment and took my stepmother's suggestion to try this Lions Mane mushroom extract supplement to help with my memory. Some days I feel like I still have surgery brain when I call a student by the wrong name or can't remember the name of something but surgery was 9 months ago so I think it is more than that.  

Right now we need to take care of ourselves to take care of each other. We have a long winding road ahead of us.  The state of IA, and many other states, want to take away my ability to do my job as a teacher-librarian. They want to let a group of concerned parents choose the books. And that’s just one issue; we have so many others being debated. I'm worried, yes, but in a world trying to remove our wings I am making sure to be ready for anything.  I need self care more than ever as a woman, as an educator, as a human alive at this time. 

Do what makes you feel healthy and whole: fresh flowers, dessert, therapy, more time with friends, outside in nature, and be ready for the storm that’s coming. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Old Age

I stayed with my mom for the last week and it was an experience. It's odd to be the one in charge, like a parent to your parent.  She needs a lot of help getting around the house and with meals.  She sits on this old love seat for most of the day watching lots of PBS. She feels depressed and ready to die.  As her daughter it's hard to hear her say these things because I'm afraid to have her die. On the other hand realistically she is exhausted and tired of feeling like crap because of her MDS  diagnosis.  It's stolen some good years away from her; like her body and her abilities look more like she's a fragile 100 year old human. 

During the week she blew up about something little more than once and that was hard to deal with for me. Truthfully she's always let her temper get the best of her but this seemed like more. Is it because she's in pain or is it just getting older? She's very stuck in her ways and this is getting worse as the days go by. She likes to wear certain shirts and sweaters, she likes her things set up on the sofa seat next to her, and she likes to be set up in bed exactly the same every night. She still loves to eat really good food even if it's super small portions. She loves her coffee in the morning. This week we had pasta with shrimp, fresh fried eggs, lovely little salads, and an un-spicy chili.  We had a small glass of champagne while we played cards to celebrate our last night together. 

I'm glad I have this time with her and hope she can make it until Spring. She loves the flowers, the sunshine, and sitting on a pretty patio. It’s hard watching your parent age and I have a front row seat. The week exhausted me - I was sleeping on a sofa-and listening to her cough and gasp all night. She was cranky with me but overall a good week together. I know I'll appreciate it down the road. 

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Cooking with Love


One of my favorite things is to make food whether it be just for me or for friends here for dinner.  I like both the complicated and the uncomplicated recipes.  My mother and grandmother loved to cook. When I lived with my grandmother she would chide me if I didn't offer to make visitors like my uncles a sandwich.  My young brain thought "they are grown ass men; they can get their own sandwiches" and now while I still agree with that sentiment I do love to welcome people into my home with a good meal. 

My husband's job changed over the last month and we've been able to spend time with friends more in the evening because he's not in rehearsal every night. I've made a handful of great recipes that you might like.

I made this delicious Chicken Korma recipe from Tea for Turmeric a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit.  I'm technically. not a meat eater but if I can find it from a local farm then I'm okay with it. I could have substituted tofu but my husband eats many vegetarian meals for me so I decided to switch it up. He loves Indian food and he liked this dish. I served it with a side of brown rice and some roti bread. 

One night  in January I had some women friends over to play cards and I made this black bean soup from Cookie + Kate with fresh bread. It was delicious and easy and I've now made it two more times. I've really stepped into the Blue Zones idea of eating beans or lentils as much as I can. The first time I made this I used the 4 cans of beans it calls for but for the second time I actually cooked dried black beans in my slow cooker while I was laboring away at school.  It was worth it to make my own for the recipe but the cans definitely made the recipe quicker. I served this with lots of toppings like avocado, green onions, crumbled feta cheese, blue chips, and sour cream. 

Tonight I made a stir-fry that was very flavorful. I was hungry for tofu and quinoa so I Googled those two ingredients and came up with Sesame Tofu Quinoa Bowl from The Almond Eater.  I swapped the broccoli for cauliflower and adding in edamame. We had broccoli last night with some homemade mac and cheese. Also because I don't like plastic bags I used a bowl with a lid to marinate the tofu with the Tamari sauce.  It worked out great and we ate with chopsticks in front of the fire while we watched Triangle of Sadness~highly recommend the movie as well!

Good food feeds your soul! Bon Appetit! 

Oh, I forgot dessert! I'm attempting to step away from sugar but sometimes you just need a good dessert to share with friends. This S'more recipe is a perfect winter treat-I served it with a little cup of Bailey's. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2023


Going through my mother's boxes I located a folder of my college papers. Looking through the pages I was struck by the fact that they were all hand typed sometimes more than once as I edited. I thought about all the work I put into those papers, not just the typing but the thought process and the creativity. One of the papers was a typed final essay with 7 different questions about Thomas Hardy's Far From the Maddening Crowd. I was struck by how easy having a computer makes all that writing a little bit different. A little easier to edit. And I have it so easy these days.

And then I really thought about that statement and I quickly amended it in my head. We've created chaos for our children.  Gaming and social media, screen time and streaming or binging series after series. We've let them grow up too fast. Kids have far less time for just being kids; playing outside until dark kind of time. Activities keep them busy like soccer and basketball but competition is different than just play. I'm not going to get all the way on top of this soap box but I worry about our youngest demographic. 

Picking up my phone today I had an email concerning a new Iowa Senate bill being presented that would restrict schools from teaching social emotional learning. People in favor of the bill believe the ridiculous notion that we are trying to indoctrinate students into a specific LGBTQ lifestyle or critical race theory because we as educators want to help them manage their emotions.  And don't get me started on House File 8-removing any instruction about gender identity or all that Ron DeSantis is attempting in Florida. It's beyond heartbreaking as a teacher. Because we want kids to be themselves. Promoting empathy and kindness or teaching real history as a teacher should not make us criminals. 

I know the world is different than the 1970's and 80's when I did most of my growing up yet common human decency should still be prevalent. I fear in today's Republicans a return to a world long ago, one where anything different was the enemy. I read a picture book to young students in the library about a young girl wearing a Hijab as she begins 6th grade-it doesn't mean that I'm promoting the Muslim religion. So much to navigate in these waters. Our public schools are doing a great job everyday, taking care of all the students that we have and SEL has been a great help for all of us. With all that kids have to manage today helping them to understand themselves more shouldn't be threatening.