Planet Aid for Earth Day

My husband very generously bought me a session with a personal stylist for Christmas.  It was ridiculously fun — like being on the show “What Not to Wear” and I felt very special and beautiful.  Minus the weird part in the ladies’ dressing room where the fitting lady made me get down on my knees to show her the plank position because she wanted to know how my stomach was so flat after four kids…I digress.  Needless to say, I returned home with a great deal of new clothing.

I’ve maintained my closet’s ‘weight’ by the rule “One thing comes in and one thing goes out.”  I also turn around my hangers once a year.  I turn them back around when I’ve worn the item.  That way, after a year, I can easily see which items I didn’t wear and weed them out.

But, I’d never had a shopping trip like this one before.  I had to really overhaul my closet, and fast.  For the children, I make a pile of nicer or special items to give to friends and then the rest of gently used clothing can be dropped off at Goodwill or picked up by Purple Heart.

But, outside the swim school, I saw this giant yellow box with the word PLANET AID.

They accept clothing and shoes and you don’t have to pre-sort the clothing.  In fact, the clothing doesn’t have to be gently used because they will sort the clothing into ‘reuse’ as clothing and ‘recycle’ — as professional cleaning rags and other textile materials made from old ripped t-shirts and jeans.

So, NO CLOTHING EVER NEEDS TO GO IN THE TRASH CAN OR LANDFILL AGAIN.  Do you get that?  Isn’t that amazing?  I’m wowed by this concept.  You can read all about it on their website, but our used clothing is making a change internationally, not only in reducing trash, but by improving the lives of other people.

Then, I read this fact:   Right now, only 15% of textiles are actually being reused or recycled.  My excitement balloon deflated just a little bit.

It’s daunting.  It’s hard.  But, we are the people that can make a difference by filling those yellow boxes.  By doing the right thing.  By sending our shoes over to people we don’t know.  Today is Earth Day.  I watched “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” all morning with my twins.  We can do this.  We can.  The flying blue-green Captain said we could.


Literary Death Match

Okay, I’m a little late for my blog post, but life has been nuts.  I picked up my minivan from the auto shop where they seemed to have an inside competition based on how many times they could get me to say, “I ran into my own mailbox.”

I took Sylvia to get her cast off today.  A couple weeks ago I posted her in a pink cast, then she had a green waterproof cast, today she got it all the way off and will wear a brace for the next four weeks and still can’t do gymnastics.  On the way out, the doctor says, “Just be careful.”  Within seconds Sylvia walked into a computer shelf jutting out of the wall.  She nodded yes she was okay, then started shaking her head that no, she was definitely NOT okay.  Then she buried her face in my shoulder and wailed.  The doctor turned around at the screaming and I felt him staring at me.  “Yeah,” I said.  “I’ll be getting that brace today.”  I almost said “stat” but it’s hard to be breezy when you’re being snotted upon.

Then I went to the grocery store because we were out of milk because my minivan was in the shop because I ran into my own mailbox (ding goes the bell at the auto shop).  But I was hungry because I didn’t have my coffee because I forgot that we didn’t have milk until I’d already made it, the coffee not the milk.

We had no creamer, no cooking cream, nothing.  I found two mini half and half jobbies that you get from a diner shoved to the back of a kitchen shelf.  When I peeled off the tops and turned them upside down, the mixture remained inside.  I wasn’t brave enough to scoop it out.  So I pulled out the ice cream and put a dollop in.  Ice cream is made from cream, right?  And milk.  And, apparently, bits of cake.  Especially if, when you check, the ice cream is called “Wedding Cake ice cream.”  Huh.  Cake in ice cream might be fine, but cake in ice cream in coffee is not.  Just sayin’.

Anyway, I’ve put away the apple pie that I didn’t need and the half-price bakery goods (what?  This is why you don’t go shopping when you are hungry) and ten Greek yogurts.  And two gallons of milk.  And two bottles of creamer. A rotisserie chicken.  And the True Lemon (unsweetened) packets that the twins and I need in our cold, refreshing, water.

And now I’m almost finished this blog post and still haven’t even gotten to the Literary Death Match.  Okay, really quickly.

Writers are (generally) introverts whose work requires a great deal of time alone with either a computer or notebook and pencil.  It’s not very glamourous work; there’s a great deal of waiting involved.  It takes time to share what you’ve been working on, sometimes a novel isn’t available to the public until years after you’ve written it.  Blah blah blah.

So, what do writers do for fun?  The go to Literary Death Matches (drum roll).  There are four writers.  3 judges.  A host personality: Adrian Todd Zuniga.  An audience in the basement of a restaurant.  Drinks are flowing.  We got there early and parked it next to the stage.  Something like this:

Literary Death Match 1

I don’t know why my eyes are glowing like I’m from “The Host,” but check out that cool jacket I’m wearing, Christmas present from Mike.

The first two writers read from their own work, the judges critique, Mr. Andre Dubas III moves on.  Break for more drinks.  Second round.  Sarah Shun-lien Bynum advances, despite being shot with a nerf gun for going over the seven-minute limit.  The judges aren’t even making sense anymore, although Mr. Tony Hoagland is impressive in his stream of consciousness.  The final winner is to be determined by a shoot-out between the two winners.

A shoot-out in a packed basement bar?  That’s crazy, you say.  No, what’s crazy is a cupcake war!!!  An overly large photo of author George Saunders magically appears.  My friends Lisa and Amanda are instructed to blindfold the authors, and Andre Dubas III WINS THE NIGHT by hitting the photo of George Saunders with a cupcake to the face.  Well, more like an icing soul patch, really, as it hits under his mouth.  Something like this:

Literary Death Match 2

There you go.  Good clean literary fun.

Result of evening: I bought Townie by Mr. Dubas III for my husband and went to the library for House of Sand and Fog.

Other books I bought at AWP:

  • The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson.  (Saw her read poetry and my friend May recommended.  May has excellent taste).
  • Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
  • A book of translated Russian Poetry for my friend Elyse.  My keyboard can’t type the title and I can’t read Russian, but I hope its good.  Or dark, I guess, in an appropriately Russian way.
  • The FairyTale Review, editor Kate Bernheimer
  • Passages North, Winter 2013
  • The Problem with Power by Agnes Jayne, met the author and looking forward to reading this.

That’s it.  I will stop writing about my less-than-a-week in Boston, although I did want to talk about Elyse and I following the Freedom Trail and my taking a picture of Ben Franklin’s tomb.  Here’s a picture of us while I wait…..

Elyse and Sherri Boston

…yes, that’s right.  Ben Franklin’s tomb is NOT in Boston it’s in Philly.  Thank goodness my phone is so slow to text that I had time to delete Ben Franklin’s parent’s coffins BEFORE I sent the pic to Mike with the caption, “Hey, guess who is buried in Franklin’s tomb?”  Joke would’ve been on me, right?

Much love,


Top 10 Lessons from Pittsburgh

So, we drove up to Pittsburgh on Friday so we could spend the holiday with my sister and her family.  The visit was lovely and, you know, travel is about learning things.  So, here’s my top 10 list of what I learned this weekend:

10. The turnpike was closed because an 18-wheeler turned over.  Lesson: We are not really the kind of family that grows closer when locked in a small space 6.5 hours.  Especially when 2 of those hours are to travel 1.5 miles.

9.  That allergy test that made a giant bump on my son’s back in the doctor’s office…huh.  It was right.  Chance IS highly allergic to cats.  Quick stop to get 15 oz. of liquid Benadryl to counteract Yoda and Anakin’s dander.

8.  My sister’s house rules hang right inside the door.  They are a little more aspirational than those in the Woosley household. (Like: Get off the counter, please.  Seriously.  Get down before I spray you with Windex).


7. Mike is not allowed to have the crayon when dying Easter eggs.  He could have used it for good…creating messages of hope and good cheer revealed when the egg is dunked in bright colors.  Instead, we got “Sherri smells,”  “Tammy is hairy,” (which she denied) and “Jordan has warts.”  So, he has now been stripped of the egg crayon.

6. Sure, Easter eggs grow in trees.  Why not?


5. Lacrosse.  live games, personal coaching with Eric, watching MD vanquish UVA.  No wonder in Sunday service my 5-year-old questions, into the quiet of prayer, “Jesus went to lacrosse?”  No, he went to THE CROSS.  Sigh.  At least we were visitors that week.  And also, the baby in the row behind us made a huge, rude noise.  So, I think we’re safe.

4. Making your eggs look like the ones on Pinterest.  Truly an Easter miracle.

Egg chicks

3. In Pittsburgh, even salads come with french fries.  Go Primanti Brothers!

2. cruise control is a little more complicated than I thought.  Apparently it is not enough to push the “cruise” button.  You must also “set the speed.”  Huh.  So, I haven’t actually been using cruise control for the past year.  I’ve been more pre-using cruise control.  Baby steps.

1. I love my sister.  Holidays aren’t the same without family.