All posts by verily sherrilee

Directionally challenged, crafty, reading mother of young adult


Several years ago, YA came home with an unpainted plywood birdhouse; I don’t even remember where she found it.  It sat for a couple of years before she dragged out some of my paints and made cheery design in bright colors.  Then it sat for a couple more years until I put a layer of marine varnish on the outside of it and finally hung it up in the backyard. 

I only hung it up for decoration but was amazed last week to see that there are birds using it!  Assuming there are or might be baby birds; I’m terrified of what might happen if baby birds end up in the yard during their in-flight training.  So far I’ve been searching the back of the yard for any signs of life before letting Guinevere out.  

Never have I ever had birds in a birdhouse to contend with.  I’m happy but anxious.

Any advice?

Wee Willie

Sad news about Harry Belafonte last week.  Not quite so sad (to me anyway) about Jerry Springer’s passing.  As I was looking up Harry Belafonte, I also saw the Wee Willie Harris also died last week.  I had never actually heard of Wee Willie, but he caught my eye because on the list he came up as “Wee Willie Harris, 90, English rock and roll star”.  It was quite dismaying to think that a rock and roll star could be 90.  That makes me feel SO old.

Wee Willie was born Charles Williams Harris and he was popular on British tv during the 50s.  He was known as “Britain’s wild man of rock and roll”.

I found some fun clips.  Here is one song I like.

This one is a fun visual of the man himself. 

I can see why he got the wild man moniker!

Any other artists/musicians who seem to have been around forever?

Cheering Throngs

My warehouse projects are this Friday and Saturday.  Part of the warehouse “experience” is having cheering throngs when the winners arrive at the warehouse.  For one of the very first warehouse programs (about 15 years ago), somebody had the idea to invite the Vikings cheerleaders to welcome the winners; as cheesy at it sounds, the participants ate it up.  Unfortunately it didn’t often work out (time-wise or budget-wise) to keep bringing “professionals” in to cheer.  That’s when we started recruiting regular employees to take a break from their desks to come root the winners on as they get off the bus.  Didn’t take long before we added noisemakers and clappers for the ultimate event.

For my very first warehouse run, my winners were veterinarian pharmaceutical sales folks and I found out early on that there were four subsets of them… and they didn’t like each other.  I never did figure out exactly how they were competitors but the bottom line was the client didn’t want the four groups in the warehouse at the same time.  Instead of one run with about 45 winners, we had to have four runs in one day, with 8-12 winners each.  That wasn’t a problem for anybody except for me.  It was the first week of December and I was really worried that I wouldn’t get people out to cheer four times in one day, especially a cold day. 

That’s when I thought up the hot chocolate.  I ordered four big containers of hot chocolate along with cups, set up a table outside the warehouse (where folks congregate to cheer) and then four times that day poured out cup after cup of hot cocoa.  It was a big hit and several folks came out repeatedly that day, one even mentioning to me that he came for the hot drink.  We’ve been supplying hot chocolate at cold weather warehouse runs ever since and have added lemonade for hot weather runs.  I’ve always felt proud that this was my idea.

Fast forward to this week.  Since pandemic, Mondays and Fridays are work-at-home days; normally the buildings are all but empty.  There haven’t been many Friday warehouse programs since the travel industry got back on its feet but there have been just enough folks who are either already on campus or willing to drive in to cheer.  But Saturdays are a whole `nother matter   Not only is Saturday in itself a problem — the group is big enough that we have to do a morning run and an afternoon run. We even advised the client that we couldn’t guarantee the cheering.  With management’s blessing, we have an incentive set up to get folks to come in to cheer.  In addition, I’ve ordered doughnuts for the Friday and Saturday morning cheerers and cookies for the Saturday afternoon cheerers.  Hopefully between the company incentive and the goodies, we’ll get enough to make it exciting for the winners.  Fingers crossed.

What would it take to get you to come out and cheer on a weekend?

Mulch Madness

I’m doing my Menards mulch runs this week.  I like to go early in the morning (think 6:30 a.m.), before it’s too busy; that way I don’t have to fight anybody over a big flatbed cart.  I can only fit 6-8 bags in my little car (depending on how badly I want to see out the back window) but 6-8 bags definitely needs a flatbed cart!

As I was loading up the car on Tuesday, it occurred to me that I don’t come by my love of gardening naturally.  Nonny likes her garden neat and orderly but there were never any carloads of mulch or flats of annuals.  For a few years, we had a small vegetable garden but it was pretty much only tomatoes – although I do remember one year with corn but not sure if we actually got any corn off the stalks. 

Nonny didn’t enlist either my sister or me to help in the garden or even harvest anything.  Cutting the grass on the riding mower was the extent of my yard work growing up; this was only in high school as we never had a big enough yard for a riding mower until then. 

In my first house here in Minneapolis I didn’t do much yardwork – the house has evergreen bushes in front and they didn’t require much.  Wasband cut the postage-stamp sized yard.  I did do a vegetable garden a couple of times but we had slug issues and Irish Setter-stomping-all-over-the-plants issues.  I’m not sure what clicked in my brain when I moved to my current home.  The more flowers/less grass plan was hatched fairly early on and the hanging pots and mulch madness followed pretty quickly after that. 

My straw bale gardening got going about a dozen years back after reading Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook.  I won’t bore you with this again since I know I’ve already talked about it (probably repeatedly), but straw bales have brought my gardening full circle (or so it feels to me).

Not sure how the gardening got into my blood, but this week as I start to prepare my bales and do my mulch runs, I’m feeling happier than I have for a few weeks as winter has dragged on.  Maybe spring really is coming.

Do any or your hobbies or passions surprise you?

The Newest Tsar

The word on the streets of New York is that there is a new “rat mitigator”; the headlines are screaming “A NEW RAT CZAR”.  Her actual title is City Director of Rat Mitigation but it hasn’t taken long for the czar moniker to have grabbed ahold of everyone’s attention.

I know that czar gets added to a lot of titles – Bird Flu Czar, Climate Czar, Energy Czar.  My favorite is Elliott Abrams title of Democracy Czar during the GW Bush administration.  Czar and democracy seem like odd bed-fellows to me.

I feel a little sorry for the new Rat Czar; it can’t be an easy job and it’s hard to imagine that in a contest between rats and humans, that the rats don’t hold most of the cards.  But you never know!

What do YOU think we need a tsar of these days?

Life Lesson Learned

Last year when I retired, I made an online calendar to count down the last 30 days.  I did it online because I didn’t want to hurt my boss’ feelings.

When she called me in January to ask if I would handle two special projects, I was hesitant but eventually figured it would be a nice favor to do her and that extra money never hurts.  I had several stipulations that I hoped would make the projects easier:  100% work from home, no set schedule, no meetings except the few needed for my specific projects, no training.

Since I only work when there is something to do, my hours have been variable.  Early on, I was just working 3-4 hours a week.  The last six weeks, it’s been around 20 hours a week.  The first week of May will likely be around 40. 

As you can see from the photo above, I’ve made another calendar to count the days.

My appreciate of corporate America has not increased since last summer.  Still too many buzz words (collaboration, pivot, synergy, core competency, subject matter expert).  Still too much inter-department conflict.  Still clients who completely ignore timelines and 30+ years of advice. 

The biggest issue although is my feeling that I just don’t want to be tied to work any longer.  Not that I have massive numbers of other things to do; I just want to be free to do what I want when I want… even if it’s reading all day while playing online solitaire.

Someone asked me over the weekend if I wouldn’t be susceptible to more requests from my boss in the future – if I would feel guilty if she was struggling to get everything assigned.   I’ve thought about it and realized that no, this has been a lesson learned.  I don’t want to do this anymore.  In addition, I worked for this woman for 32 years and she has never gotten anyone from outside the organization to come back to do special projects; she has 32 years of experience working this stuff out.  If I say “no” in the future, I’m sure she can work it out without me. 

So, I’m counting down.  I included the weekends because I will be working on Saturday, May 6.  It’s the final event of the two projects and except for a few hours of wrapping up the accounting, which will probably be in June, it will be the end of my work.  I can’t wait!

When was the last time you were counting the days?  Have you ever actually made a countdown calendar?


I saw in the news that the creator of the game, Settlers of Catan, Klaus Teuber, died a few days ago.  If you don’t know of it, Settlers of Catan is a multi-player game; you settle and expand on the land using hexagonal tiles.  I’ve always assumed it was similar in play to Risk, but I could be wrong.  It was wildly popular right off the bat in the late 90s and while still played in boardgame fashion, it has also spun off into cyberspace so you can easily find Catan communities of players.

I have a friend, Laurie, who has played Dungeons and Dragons every Tuesday for decades.  This is a serious commitment for her; I’ve known her to turn down other invitations if they fall on Tuesday.  I’ve known her for 40 years and she’s never once invited me to join; non D&D folks just aren’t allowed.  That’ fair – all I know about D&D is what I’ve seen on Big Bang Theory!

But seeing the news about Klaus Teuber made me think of our blog about jigsaw puzzles the other day which led me to thinking about the games I’ve played in my life.  We didn’t have a lot of boardgames when I was a kid.  The obligatory Candyland, which I never cared for much.  My Nana had Chutes & Ladders at her house, which I adored.  I begged for the game Operation and never received it. It was just as well; a friend got one for Christmas and it was BORING.  Same with the Mousetrap game.

I played a lot of backgammon in college but hardly ever since.  I like trivia games, although I’m not very good at the ones that have a lot of current/trendy questions. We played one at Thanksgiving that had a lot of current sports questions and even a category about stock exchange abbreviations – I stunk.  When YA was little, we did Yahtzee and cribbage on vacation, but almost never at home.  I do play mahjong online but just with myself which isn’t anything like real mahjong.  I guess my favorite boardgame is still Aggravation, which I play exclusively with my mom.  We each play three colors and we’re a little cut-throat.  YA won’t play with me although when we were in St. Louis last summer she did play once, she and Nonny and I each fielding two colors.  She complained later that Nonny and I are mean.

Any favorite boardgames as a kid?  These days? 

Holiday Over-Do?

Photo Credit:  Tatanisha Worthey

One of Renee’s questions yesterday struck a chord with me.  I am definitely a “bite off too much” kind of person.  And before everybody says “you need to learn to say no” – all of my biting off too much is self-imposed.  I’m actually pretty good at saying no to someone other than myself!

Case in point.  With Easter just a week away, I have a lot of plans.  The big event is on next Saturday, the World’s Most Over-Engineered Egg Hunt.  For that we are taking taco tortilla roll-ups (or pinwheels) and blondies w/ M&M eggs for the buffet.  Then I’m also making pastel eggs filled with jelly beans and marshmallows for the kids.  Did I mention there are 13 of them?  And then a couple of dozen plastic eggs filled w/ candy to add to the hunt.

For my co-workers I’m doing dipped Oreos w/ spring-y sprinkles (1 chocolate and 1 golden per co-worker).  These will be packaged in little cello bags and delivered with miniature Happy Spring notes.  I figure as long as I’m still officially part of the team, no matter how part-time or temporary, it’s still a nice thing to do.

For the neighbor kids I’m doing lemon bunny cakes.  I have a wonderful bunny pan that I bought a few years ago and I just love it.  And it’s easy.  Batter into pan.  Bake.  Bunnies into cello bags with pretty ribbon.  Voila!

Of course, I will also do a basket for YA – this will be a challenge because YA has said she only wants chocolate/pb items in the basket.  I normally can’t hold myself to these kind of requests.  We’ll see.   I have extra eggs for dying.  Again this is something that YA says we don’t need to do but she always joins in when I have the eggs and dye and glitter out. She always happily eats the devilled eggs that eventually come out of this project.

AND, I am making sugar cookies for a friend – I always do this for her and this gives me an excuse to make a few spring cookies for YA and myself.

This is enough projects that I’ve put the various things on my to-do list for next week.  When I think about the fact that I’m only working 3-4 hours a day, it doesn’t seem that daunting.

Any special plans you’re prepping for in the next week?

Spring Haiku

I was browsing through my poetry binder last weekend and, of course, came across my favorite haiku:

Fan Piece for Her Imperial Lord

O fan of white silk,
Clear as front on the grass-blade,
You are also laid aside
Ezra Pound

It made me wonder if I could find some fun haiku for spring.  There are actually quite a few but I like these two:

Rise from winter’s nap
Stretch to feel the sun’s warm rays
Spring is among us
Shannon Schofield

The temple bell stops.
But the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.

Any spring poetry that you like?  Written any haiku lately?


Fridge Update

Had my annual check-up yesterday.  Nothing momentous and I was only gone from the house for about an hour and a half.  When I got home, bearing Taco Bell, YA informed me that she had taken the handles off the refrigerator to wash them.  Apparently when she wiped the handles down, she felt there was dirt in crevices that she couldn’t get to without removing them.

I’m torn.  It’s nice to know she’s handy and can figure things out (apparently there was some YouTube assistance) but there’s also bewilderment that she would be driven to this task.  I’ve looked closely at the handles and honestly, they look the same to me as they did this morning.

Refrigerator magnets/artwork – yeah or nay?