Humorous thoughts on adulthood – thank goodness for chocolate, drinks, friends, and duck tape!

Kate Spade, Priorities, Answers, and Bliss

Kate Spade killed herself.  So did a really large number of others last week.  It makes me sad.  Kate Spade created an empire, and yet, she still wasn’t good enough in her own head.  If that doesn’t show that mental health issues are real, then add it to Robin Williams, Heath Ledger, and Anthony Bourdain.  Denial is common, but not a solution.

My brain has a hard time wrapping itself around the idea that Kate Spade didn’t see her own success.  Perhaps that’s because my brain works properly (well, most of the time).  Chemical imbalances distort your view.  What a sad reality that is to everyone who surrounds the person, as much as the person themselves.

I’ve thought about it because I have a history of depression and because there are mental health issues in my family background, as well.  I, luckily, have learned the keys to pushing myself back out of the darkness, but I was blessed with the right chemicals to make that happen.

I have known amazing, talented, brilliant people in my life who have struggled with mental health issues repeatedly.  I worked with a large number of people over the years that took medication for things ranging from anxiety to depression.  I was always shocked when I learned it, but I have tried in my older years to never be judgmental about it.  It happens to soooo many people.  Situational or otherwise, life is not always kind, or at least we don’t perceive it to be.

Perhaps if we slept enough, lived enough, and appreciated enough, it would be better for all of us.  Those things will not correct a chemical imbalance, but they will help to alleviate stress and mental demands on the rest of us.  I have come to learn that even though we value work greatly in our country, it doesn’t always value us.

Ten years ago, I missed a funeral because I believed I was needed at work more than at the funeral.  My mistake was thinking that.  Not because I was needed at the funeral but because I needed it.  It was a mistake I try to keep with me when I make decisions about life, family, and work.

It was often brought up that you could easily be replaced in the work environment I worked in.  It felt awful to hear but was way more accurate than I care to consider.  I was easily and quickly replaced.

At the end of the day, I continue to believe that we must re-focus our priorities regularly.  We must again realize that other people matter, that our families matter, that relaxation is necessary, that perfection is unattainable, that victories and holidays should be celebrated, and the only one with enough time to judge us is our own self because everyone else is too busy judging themselves, too.  Keeping up with the Jones is not necessary.  The Facebook Effect is real.  Sixty hour work weeks are not good for our souls. And I will continue to cheer for those that make it look easy when I know it is not easy for anyone.

For today, I simply ask that if you need help, go get it.  If you are stressed, over-worked, worried, and facing battles that seem too great, call someone. Do not text.  And if you have no one to call, find a place to volunteer or leave a gift for someone who you know needs it more than you.  For we continue to judge ourselves against those that we believe have more, do better, and make it look easy instead of all the people that think that of us.

No one has their proverbial $#!+ together all the time.  It’s why there’s wine, good books, Target, and 50-year friendships in the world.  So, go, find your bliss today in a coffee, a cone, the Oscar Mayer b-o-l-o-g-n-a song (because, truly, it makes you feel good) or a lawn chair on the deck for 5 minutes of peace or happiness in this noisy world.  And, as always, remember to love the ones you’re with.

RIP Kate.  You did it better than you realized.


Thoughts? Comments? Please only positive.


Your weekend plans are right here!

So I know it’s kinda last minute, but that’s what makes it great – you might not have plans and need them!  The Grist Mill will be presenting the musical, Sister Act in Macedonia this weekend! The musical is based on the movie with Whoopie Goldberg, involves a witness protection scenario where Delores, a night club entertainer, hides as a very unlikely nun at a convent.  She teaches song and the joy of life to the other nuns while dodging bad guys in a feel-good story with songs I happen to love.  I also happen to have a niece that shall remain nameless (or not, Kyra Martens) who loved to watch Sister Act when she was a kid.  It’s just fun!

The cast will include Sara Mathews, a stand-out in the same musical last year in Glenwood, as Delores.  Other notable names to the Grist Mill include Karla Keener as Mother Superior, Stacia Thompson as Sister Mary Lazarus, the old, feisty choral director, and Mark Raney as Pablo, the thug.  After acting in The Odd Couple, Vince Baker will switch gears to that of the musical director for this performance.  Cast members will take on rapping and breakdancing in addition to old-school church hymns.  Eileen Adickes swears the “choreography will be wonderful” and “audiences will like to see us strut our stuff in nun’s habits.”

Additional cast members include: Hannah Beebe – Sister Mary Robert, Deanna Fender – Backup Singer Michelle and Sister Mary Patrick, Heather Myers – Backup Singer Tina and choir nun, B.C. Thompson – Monsignor O’Hara, Vince Baker – Curtis Jackson, mobster, Bret Baker – Detective Eddie Souther, Eric Duhachek – TJ, a thug, Richard Fleming – Joey, a thug, Clarence Waddell – Ernie, a thug; and the Pope, Jan Waddell – Sister Mary Martin of Tours, Eileen Adickes – Sister Mary Theresa, Sue Duhachek – choir nun, Nancy Raney – choir nun, Sara Hudgell – choir nun, and Angie Beebe – choir nun.  Angie Beebe will also direct and Claudia Baker will accompany.


Tickets are $15/adult and only $5 for students.  There are 3 performances – Tonight – June 8 at 7:30, (Saturday) June 9 at 7:30 or (Sunday afternoon) June 10 at 2:30 held at the McCready Theater.  You can call for seats 712-486-2216 or check out the website,

The Grist Mill productions are part of a full weekend in Macedonia sans The Back 40. The Painted Camel will offer an art collection to peruse prior to Friday’s performance and offer drinks and snacks at their annual open house prior to the other 2 performances. The Pioneer Museum and Stempel Bird Museum will also be open ahead of the shows for viewing pleasure.  A chicken dinner and rubber duck race fundraiser take place on Sunday before the matinee performance so be sure to check them out!


It’s gonna be a nice weekend and lots of fun!  Support local!

Let there be Summer (and stuff for my kid to do)!


These are the days that posting a new blog is so exciting because I almost have too much to talk about!  So as the kids find themselves out of school for summer (and I wish was), a lot starts to happen around here!  Who knew so much happened here?  Well, I did. That’s why we moved home. Lol. But let me give you a head’s up.

First off, I want to talk about this weekend.  As we all know, it’s a 3-day weekend!  Woo-hoo!  It also happens to be a pretty dang busy weekend for everybody, but the focus of the weekend is Memorial Day.

I just want to take a minute to encourage all of you to head to either the Wheeler Grove Cemetery at 10am or the Carson Cemetery at 11 (or Macedonia’s is at 10:30 with the Macedonia Legion).  The Carson American Legion Post 556 will be holding a very short military salute to those who have served our country.  It will include a prayer, a memorial at the base of the flag, and a 21-gun salute.  If you can’t attend but would like to support the legion, you can like their Facebook page here.  Mad props to them for also raising the money to buy light fixtures for all of the flagpoles at both cemeteries to have the flags up 24/7 during the Memorial Day weekend and the cub scouts and girl scouts for helping put up the flags.  I hope I get a chance to check it out at night! (I also appreciate all those that put up the flags around Oakland, too!)

Secondly, we need to talk ice cream!  The Oakland Manor and the DQ have teamed up to give out free cones from 6 to 8pm on Tuesday night.  Free DQ?  Heck yeah!

Next, I want to talk about the pool.  Some great people have gone together to make the pool opening a little more special this year!  They are including a bike rally for kids with $5 helmets and if I’m not mistaken there will be free hot dogs and chips, too!  Plus, they are doing some give-aways for all those in attendance on June 2 from 11am to 1pm prior to the official pool opening.  We are blessed to have a pool.  Please support it!  (Oh, and a little crowd-sourcing for me – anybody want to give my kid swimming lessons this summer?)

Another thing I have to mention is the upcoming History and Me series at the Nishna Heritage Museum.  They will be allowing 1st-6th graders to come on Tuesdays for 5 weeks to learn more about the museum and the history of the area. They have some cool stuff planned and snacks involved!  Now, if you’re a mom or dad who stays home with your kid in the summer, you know how valuable this event could be.  Peace and quiet for an hour and a half every week – oh yeah!  Sign them up!  Info can be found on the Riverside Links page or I can get you in touch with the right people. Deadline is next week for sign up.

I also happen to know that Impact Hill will be providing some fun classes this summer for the whole family, too.  Not all of them are up on their page yet (since I haven’t set a date for the ones I’ll be teaching – lol), but keep checking back for info there, too.

More info will be coming next week about the upcoming Grist Mill performance of Sister Act, but tickets are already on sale here.

Finally, Walk & Talks will be starting June 5th in Macedonia, 6th in Carson, and 7th in Oakland.  Riverside Links is asking everyone to come out and walk in the parks (or in Oakland on Main Street) and talk with your friends, neighbors, and people you may not have met yet!  They will be hosting them every week in June. Water will be provided.  I’m kinda partial to this because as someone who’s only been back a year, I feel like I know no one and I know that everyone is busy, but it sure is nice to know your neighbors and it’s a big bonus to get exercise, too. I’ll be hounding you about that more next week, too. 🙂

One last thing – the Oakland Alumni Banquet is this weekend on Saturday night.  Tickets can still be purchased.  Brian Bentley, of Carson, put out a class challenge on his Facebook page last week to pay for the rest of the picnic tables at the new Dr. Pigneri Sports Complex at Riverside.  If you’re attending and your class would like to contribute, it’s $650.  I can send you to the right people if you don’t know Brian.

So here’s the deal:  a lot is going on!  It’s sunny.  It’s finally summer.  Take a little time to enjoy the view and simply support local!


Got anything to add?  Go ahead.  Also, if you have events you’d like me to cover, just let me know.  Thanks!

TAD – Teacher Appreciation Day should be EVERY day!

What do Jimmy Fallon and I have in common today?  We are thanking teachers!  It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week and today, Tuesday, is specifically Teacher Appreciation Day.  There are the token few places like Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, and Cane’s that put out some free food for the occasion, but most simply go about their business.

Teaching is an underrated profession.  I’ve heard all the comments – like “you get summers off” and “those who can’t do, teach.”  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I would tell you that only those that truly care decide to teach.  It sure isn’t for the money, the fame, the frequent bathroom breaks, and the clean-cut, rockstar students that fill your classroom every hour.

As a teacher, I remember a time at the beginning of my career when the clock in my classroom didn’t work (shocking).  My students chipped in and for Christmas, they bought me a new one.  I still have it.  It’s nothing special.  It was nothing expensive, but it was thoughtful.  Every time I look at it, I think about that set of kids now in their 30’s.  The craziest part is that those middle schoolers grow up.  I get the privilege of saying one of my students is a principal in the district I taught in.  One is working on Space X.  One is an advocate for autism.  Many of them have spouses, kids, and jobs I am impressed by.

However, I must admit the greatest teacher appreciation day I ever had was the day I left.  My LF family gave me a send-off I will never forget.  I was blessed to work with amazing people, but I have to say, it is sad that, for most, the day you leave is the day you hear the best words.

When I think about education, I get pretty feisty and revved up.  Until you’ve spent a day in a classroom, you can’t know the job of a teacher, and one day is just a glimpse.  But I think of my teachers growing up, and I was so lucky.  I’m friends with a few now as a grown adult, and even the ones I don’t have contact with now, still taught me skills I use every day.  I can name every single one of them.  Some of you probably can, too.

I was super happy to see that 2 Riverside teachers were awarded the Charles A. Lakin Award for Education this week.  Amanda Brandon, the 5-12 band teacher, and Brock Johnson, the elementary PE and computers teacher were awarded $10,000 each with $2500 going to their school districts.  Charles and his wife were from Emerson and believed in the power of a teacher.  He said he wouldn’t have been successful in the world without one of his teachers.  Thank you, Charles A. Lakin, for understanding the world.

The world is a hard place.  It’s not for the weak or the awkward or the nerds until they find education, and it shows them the world is theirs if they see it with an enlightened perspective.  School may not be for everyone, but teachers are.  Every day, thousands of teachers go to work.  They parent. They teach. They lead by example.  They wipe tears.  They answer the hard questions.  They steer kids.  They goal-set.  They handle bathroom issues.  They provide support.  They give love.  They listen.  They do their job.

On my hardest days as a parent, I think about a teacher with 25 of mine in a room, and I guarantee you every teacher my child has will be given gift cards, alcohol, or the thing of their liking.  Especially the middle school teachers and high school teachers of which she will have many, simply because it’s the right thing to do.

The other day I asked my teacher friends on Facebook about the best gifts they were ever given.  Not one told me of luxury items, but they did tell me about handmade pencil holders, scarves, and plants.  All were about the thoughtful gift.  So I ask that you take time to say “thank you” this week or the last week of school to every teacher your child sees and simply be “thoughtful” in it, or send a note to one who made their mark on your life.

Here’s mine:

Let me do my disclaimer and say I am sure I forgot someone, but I haven’t had a chance to look yet! Oops.

Thank you, Mrs. Von Weihe, for working with me when I was shy, quiet, and not reading a lot yet.

Thank you, Mrs. Young, for pulling my teeth when I was too chicken.

Thank you, Mrs. Bjustrom, for letting me teach the class how to write in cursive.

Thank you, Mrs. Schmidt, for teaching me my multiplication tables.

Thank you, Mrs. Hummel, for teaching me not to bite my fingernails and that life isn’t fair.  You have to help the struggling ones even when they don’t deserve it.

Thank you, Mrs. Clark, for never taking things as seriously as I did.

Thank you, Mrs. Merle, for teaching me all I could possibly ever need to know about medieval times and to never take the lord’s name in vain.

Thank you, Mr. Clark, for teaching me to do foil art and how to knit.

Thank you, Mrs. Kunze, for loving your library and expecting us to follow rules.

Thank you, Mr. Vesley, for teaching me to drive, even if I backed up better than I went forward.

Thank you, Mrs. White, for loving your job and offering hands-on methods. You still don’t look a day over 50!

Thank you, Mrs. Smith, for being passionate about saying “angel” correctly and for letting us sing the “It Starts with an A…Aardvark” song.  I can still sing it!

Thank you, Mrs. Peterson, for teaching me journalism and how much fun you can have as a teacher.

Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for my French lessons one summer and knowing everything is better with food.

Thank you, Mr. Miller, for helping me to understand the zero is important in some math.

Thank you, Mr. Hynek, for helping me see that a good teacher needs to be watching everything closely.

Thank you, Mr. Hembry for forcing me into golf.  It was a great decision.

Thank you, Mr. Strickland, for teaching me that a student will always work hard for a teacher who expects them to work hard (I used that a lot in my teaching career), and maybe that stuff about the World Wars, too. J

Thank you, Mrs. Grosvenor, for teaching me about the psychology of other people and that a halfway-smart man is not enough, even if his jeans are long enough.  I’m glad we see things more similarly these days.

Thank you, Mrs. Casey, for giving me freedom even when you knew I’d take advantage of it because I would still get the work done.

Thank you, Mr. Thompson (sorry, I can’t do it).  Thank you, Marv, for showing me that you don’t have to be athletic to like PE and to play hard.

Thank you, Mrs. McCowen, for teaching me letters can be numbers so that I can still do an equation.

Thank you, Ms. Stamper, for making me stick it out through proofs, oh, and for becoming my sister-in-law. Lol

Thank you, Mr. Ernst, for helping me realize that sometimes you have to stand up for the underdog, even when they won’t be an underdog in the right circumstances.

Thank you, Mr. Allen, for teaching me to type.  I literally use that skill Every. Single. Day.

Thank you, Mr. Harris for teaching me the difference between stalactites and stalagmites, to tuck and roll when I got off the bus, and that there are advantages to coming from a long-line of overachievers.

Thank you, Mr. Sick, for letting us do collaborative learning.  And yes, I know you’re sick every day of your life. J

And, finally, thank you, Mrs. Strickland, for embracing my love of the inappropriate and my passion for writing and for still choosing to be on my path to whatever lies ahead.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week and Miss You LFers!

A Legend Retires – Party with Doc Pigneri on Saturday!

The Younger Years 🙂

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to look for the good in the world, but today, I’ve got a pretty good place to start…

As many of you already know, Saturday will be a bittersweet day.  It is our chance to celebrate Dr. Pigneri’s retirement.  Bittersweet feels like the only appropriate word as he and Carm are more than deserving of some solid relaxation and time away from the world of work, but as a member of this community, it is a sad day to watch someone who has been so valuable to all of us call it quits after 53 years!

When news popped up, I started thinking of memories and started reading comments on Facebook.  First off, he was, and will always be, Doc, at our house.   My first thought of Doc is always the rubbing of my eyebrows backwards.  I can’t not have that image in my head!  Doc gave me my booster shot when I went to kindergarten, my MMR when I went to college, he was there when I broke my nose in my 30’s, and he answered a call on a Sunday when my baby burned her hand (when I was in my 40’s).  That, to me, is something pretty special.

My mom says she took my sister there the day he opened.  It’s crazy to think that was 53 years ago.  Another friend on Facebook, Kim Wise, told me that she and her sister were the first set of twins he ever delivered.  Another story was told about how a woman with a 2-year-old was told her son’s kidneys needed surgery.  She just happened to be with her own mother who was seeing Doc.  He told her to get a new doctor, that there was nothing wrong with her son.  Her son is 15 and she gives full-credit to Doc for saving him.  I think about that… And I think about all the babies he delivered that are now adults successfully continuing our community.  I think about all the times he answered calls when he was “off-duty” and all the nights he spent walking the sidelines of games fixing up anyone who was hurt.  I don’t remember a game I went to that Doc wasn’t there, and, trust me when I say, I went to A LOT of games.  That, my friends, is commitment.

For Dr. Pigneri, commitment is an understatement. 

The accolades have been few, but the contributions have been many. 

He is truly a pillar of our community.

In the beginning, he had an office that had a bajillion stairs to it above the bank.  From there, I remember the office where the apartments on Oakland Ave. are now, the office on Main Street, and they have now evolved into a full-scale clinic.  Rumor (and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t rumor only) has it that Doc and Carm paid to have the therapy wing put in at the CHI Clinic.  The amount of time and money saved for every person that uses it is thanks to them.  What a truly invaluable gift.  Another rumor I happen to be pretty sure wasn’t a rumor is that Doc only sold his practice with the understanding that they must stay in Oakland.  Again, Dr. Pigneri providing for our community and having the forethought to do so.

The idea that he put all of us first so many times in the last 53 years only to continue that tradition for us is astounding.  The caliber of his treatment even more so.  I read an article about how technology was a challenge for him, and I can only imagine all that has changed in 53 years, and yet, I know full-well that Doc can look at me, squeeze my neck, and tell me what’s wrong with me, with, or without, a machine or technology to back him.

The bottom line:  we are blessed that 53 years ago, Dr. Pigneri and Carm chose our little town.  Every day since, he has chosen to do good and put more good into the world.  He has given his entire career and life to us.

I don’t know that there are any words that can do justice…

So please take a minute to send a note, stop by the retirement party from 1-3 on Saturday (May 5), or give him a call to say “thank you.”  Let’s show him the gratitude he (and his family) deserve.

As for me, well, I’d just like to say,

Thank you, Doc (and Carm & family), for giving your best to a town that can never repay you.  You truly have left a legacy.  May you enjoy your Hawks and may you hold that close to your heart when you walk out those doors on June 30th 


Erica Bolton Carley


If you would like to share a warm memory about Doc, please feel free to add it!

Winner, Winner, Nuts Fried Dinner!

So, I admit it.  I’m a Rocky Mountain oyster virgin.  You’re probably somewhat shocked, being that I’m a beef producer’s daughter, but as much as I love a good prime rib, I’m pickier than a 3-year-old’s runny nose!

That being said, I hear they are a wonderful delicacy like escargot or my grandma’s cinnamon twists on Christmas Day.  I only bring them up because there’s a nut fry this weekend, and they aren’t referring to a nice almond or pistachio!  The middle schooler in me still giggles about that!

The Riverside Wrestling Boosters are hosting their annual nut fry fundraiser at Tailgator’s this Saturday night (April 30) from 5 to 8.

Personally, I’ve watched a lot of sports, and I gotta say it takes some guts and nuts to be a wrestler!  It’s not for the weak at heart!  And I love that we have had a long-standing tradition of excellent wrestlers come from our community.  I also have to say that in terms of fundraisers, this beats the heck out of buying an $18 roll of wrapping paper!  Plus, I happen to really like the food at Tailgator’s!  We don’t actually go to the bar because, well, we’re old and we have a 3-year-old, but we get take-out from there a lot.  I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.  Also, if I had to guess, they’ll gladly take your money and you can whip up a grilled cheese at home instead. 🙂

So if you’re free Saturday night, you want to cheer on some Riverside sports, you love a good testicle festival, or you just want to see the spectacle, head to Tailgator’s in Oakland to support the home team.  And remember, you can always get beer there!



Got anything to add?  Or a term I didn’t think to use?  Tell us.

New Business in Oakland!

A bubble-blowing contest, refreshments, give-aways, and a ribbon-cutting are all scheduled for Monday at noon as Omni Dental officially opens for business here in Oakland on Dr. Van Zee Drive.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

If you’ve driven through Oakland recently, you probably realized that Dr. Lenaghan did all of us a solid by contacting Omni Dental out of Council Bluffs to take over here.  They’ve actually been doing business here since February, but the official grand opening is Monday (4/16).  They are hoping you’ll stop by to check out their newly updated digs complete with new oral camera technology that now allow them to do invisalign, oral surgery, root canals, and sleep apnea diagnosis (just to name a few) right here!  Plus, at the very least, you’re going home with a new toothbrush and a coupon for free teeth whitening when you purchase a comprehensive exam.

When I met with them, I asked, “Why Oakland?”  The answer was that there’s a need here and that Omni Dental is passionate about rural healthcare.  That’s good news for us because it sure is nice to grab your kid out of school, hit the dentist, and be back in an hour instead of 3!

Right now, they offer hours 8-5 Mondays and Thursdays but business has already been better than expected, so they will be expanding and adding another dentist in May!  The goal, they say, is to take a proactive approach to oral health by “providing the best dentistry has to offer to our patients in an atmosphere of excellence and outstanding team work.”  The dedication has already been established by their efforts to revamp the office, their offerings of a coffee & water station, and the inclusion of TV viewing while you have work done, not to mention they are A+ Better Business Bureau accredited.  I was also told they take most all insurances and give a 5% discount and payment plans if you do not have dental insurance.  Let’s just say they know what they’re doing!

I guess the thing that stands out to me is, that with all the remodeling, they have clearly made a commitment to being in Oakland, and yet again, I would say we are lucky to have this kind of service in a small town.  I know they are looking forward to serving Pottawattamie County, and I am thankful for yet another local business choosing to be here!  So come out on Monday, if you can, to see what they have to offer and welcome them to Oakland.

Let’s show them a little Southwestern Iowa hospitality!

PS – At the very least, you can like them on Facebook.