Blog Action Day 2010: Water

Friday, October 15th, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Category: Leftovers, Life Tips, Meryl's Notes Blog 8 comments

This post joins Blog Action Day 2010: Water.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “water”?

Maybe you think… Scarce. Critical. Dirty.

A large pile of half-pint Poland Spring bottles
Image via Wikipedia

Me: Wasteful.

Since reading an article on water in the early 1990s, I’ve been drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily. For years (still does), a big drinking cup with a lid has accompanied me at home and at work. When I go places, I always figure out how to have water with me. The how depends on where and how much I can carry.

One thing stays the same. The water content. It’s always store-bought water.

It’s about taste. Not about thinking bottled water is better than tap water.

Because we need water, I’m trashing the planet. It pains me to say this especially when you have African women walking over 40 billion hours every year to gather water, and it’s often not safe drinking water. And to make matters worse…

“17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled,” writes Tara Lohan in Well, at least, I recycle every single bottle. But I still feel bad.

I’d love to save money and avoid piling up on the trash by drinking tap water. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the last time I lived in a place where I can stand the taste of tap water. In the early ’90s, we had a water cooler. In the late ’90s, we tried the filtered pitcher route. My fridge has a built-in filter, but it fails to filter the taste.

People challenged my taste buds, and the bottled water brands I like won every time. However, some bottled water brands lost. Evian did.

I feel bad about buying water instead of using tap water. Goodness knows, I’ve tried to drinking from the tap. Whenever I did, I didn’t drink enough water. You know humans need water just like we need to breathe.

Maybe it’s time our cities figure out how to improve taste and some of us may finally stop buying bottled water, or at least cut down.

A side note: Washing our hands is one of the best things we can do to fight illness. Yet, it takes 20 seconds of hand washing to ensure we have clean hands. I recently read somewhere that antibacterial hand cleaners don’t do as good a job as soap and water.

Clearly, we need solutions to help us stay healthy without using up a lot of water.

How do you conserve water?

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A Pink Ribbon Story

Monday, October 4th, 2010 at 11:26 AM | Category: Books, Leftovers, Meryl's Notes Blog 3 comments

Today’s post joins the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey by Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN. The book includes Diana’s experiences, reflections, poetry and journal entries, in addition to writing prompts for readers to express their own personal stories. A survivor of both breast cancer and multiple myeloma, Raab views journaling to be like a daily vitamin — in that it heals, detoxifies and is essential for optimal health.

Diana, the author of eight books, spent 25 years as a medical and self-help writer before turning to poetry and memoir. She teaches creative journaling and memoir in UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. If you comment on this post you’ll be entered to win a copy of WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. To read Diana’s post about breast cancer and a list of other blogs participating in Diana’s Blanket Tour, visit The Muffin.

I received a postcard indicating mammogram time had arrived for the second time. I called the mammogram office, scheduled appointment and forgot about it until appointment time. The time came for the appointment. I headed to the hospital with my two boys and spent the waiting time making sure they stayed out of trouble and reading a book. The staff called me in, did the mammo and we left. No big deal.

A letter came within a week stating I needed to schedule a follow up appointment because the doctor saw something on my mammogram. The letter pointed out that the majority of women who have a follow up have negative results. I studied that sentence trying to force my brain to accept it and go about my day.

Instead, fear took over and took me back to my first apartment in Alexandria, VA. I had been married for a month and homesick. It was the first time I had lived outside of Texas and college didn’t start for a couple of months. Not long after we married, my husband received his first out of town assignment. The summer was an exciting yet lonely one. Married and living in a new place with nothing to keep me busy. I had been to Washington, DC a few times and didn’t feel the urge to do the tourist thing.

Mom and me

Mom and me, August 2010

My mom came to visit around that time. We sat down to catch up when she announced she’d be having a lumpectomy and radiation for a small tumor in her breast.

In spite of knowing many women, both survivors and dead, you think this will never happen to you or your family. It does. She has had clean mammograms since roller coaster of a year in 1989.

The technician took the spot check xrays, which don’t differ from a regular mammogram. Same machine. Same playing with the breast like it’s flour dough except with a human attached. Same squeezing it flat. Then I had to wait for the doctor to review the results. Wait. Wait. Cry. Wait. Think about something else.

The technician escorted me to another room for a sonogram. The xrays still showed a suspicious area and the sonogram would provide more answers. The sonogram lasted longer than a typical pregnancy sonogram, and this was one I didn’t want. Both the technician and doctor rolled the instrument all over the breast for at least 10 minutes. Watch screen. Wait. Cry inside. Look at ceiling when eyes tire of looking at screen. Wait.

At least an hour and 30 minutes passed by this point. The doctor pronounced me in the clear stating this would be a new baseline mammogram and I’d have to follow up in six months. Get dressed. Think thankful prayers. Appreciate the staff for being thorough even though it was an inconvenience. Escape the darkness of the mammogram clinic outside on a typical hot and sunny Texas summer day.

How have you been affected by breast cancer?

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Family Relationships: Parental Influences

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 at 8:58 AM | Category: Books, Leftovers, Links, Meryl's Notes Blog 1 comment
Dad the Good Humor Man

Meryl's dad, the Good Humor Man in Brooklyn, NY

And now for something different. Don’t worry — it’s not a regular occurence. You’ll still get your writing, networking, teching and other stuff next time.

Today I’m participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women On Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We’re celebrating the release of Therese Walsh’s debut novel today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy, (Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost when they were teenagers. See the widget below to read three chapters of the book.

Visit The Muffin to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit Therese’s web site to find out more about the author.

Unless you’re a multiple, you’ve probably wondered what it’d be like to have a twin. I have. The closest most of us singles come to having a twin is meeting or hearing about a doppelganger. I’ve encountered one … twice.

The first was at an event when someone said I looked just like a relative that she almost mistook me for her. The second time happened when I came across a phone ad that I thought I blanked out on a modeling assignment (HA!).

As soon as my dad found a copy, he showed it to everyone claiming it was me. That was Dad. He took pride in his three kids that he’d bragged about us as much as possible. We never needed to worry about bragging — we had Dad for that. He was a fabulous guy. Born and raised in Brooklyn. Sold Good Humor ice cream. Had a football scholarship that he didn’t take. Went into the Air Force, which led him to Fort Worth where he met Mom.

Dad had one annoyance. He could act obnoxious at times. “Ow, my arm hurts,” I’d say.

“Want me to cut it off and make it feel better?” he’d reply. He’d often say, “Drink coffee! It puts hair on your chest.”

Sometimes he didn’t know when to quit.

And that’s a trait I’ve gotten from him! I find myself saying stuff like that to the kids, but at least I know to stop right away. I can’t imagine how it comes across with my deaf accent — maybe not funny at all. So I’ve learned to add “I’m just kidding” whenever I joke around to make sure people know I’m funning with ’em. I’m trying to cut it out even though it’s often me being playful with the kids.

My middle child also acts this way. And like Dad, he doesn’t know when to quit.

So yes, I’ve encountered the dreaded, “Oh my gosh, I am my mom!” or “I’m channeling Dad again!”

This kind of explains why some kids from abusive homes turn around and become abusers themselves even though they hated it as children. I’m just grateful this behavior is more of an annoyance than something serious. Besides, it can be funny sometimes.

How have you found yourself copying your parents or other family members? How do you handle it?

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What I Learned From… the Plant World

Saturday, August 8th, 2009 at 10:24 PM | Category: Leftovers, Life Tips, Links, Meryl's Notes Blog 6 comments

Purple Sage BushI lived in my first and second houses in Washington, DC. We had to move to a second home because the first had to undergo renovations.  (Why they put us there in the first place, I don’t know.) The second house had a small empty flower bed in the front whereas the first didn’t. So we primed the dirt and planted rose bushes. Why we picked them, I don’t remember.

Those bushes blossomed and then some. They grew unwieldy. Gardening and plants weren’t my forte, so I struggled to figure out how to trim the bushes so they’d take on an uncluttered look. On the other hand, it amazed me that we grew a flower bush.

Bigger Flower Bed, Bigger Troubles

Then we moved into our first owned home. This time, we had two average-sized flower beds. They’ve undergone a couple of landscaping jobs and never to our satisfaction. The latest, we planted too many sage bushes. We love them; they’re great for Texas weather, low watering, stalwart and best of all, they require little care. Of course, you can’t help smile when you see them covered in purple. We miscalculated how big they’d grow.

They overtook our sidewalk in front of our door. Nope, not allowed. Those had to go. When the sages bloom, they scream for the bees to come visit and the bees respond.

With a few allergy sufferers in my household, we don’t care to find out if someone is allergic to bees the hard way. So out went some of those sages. We still have a few — away from the sidewalk. Now both flower beds sit half empty with nothing but rocks.

Unwelcome Visitors

And weeds that broke through the covering and rocks. Those weeds! We had the black covering and everything. They still broke out of their jail of dirt and out into the daylight without a care if it rains or hails. Despite its evil plans for uglifying my flower bed, I admire the weeds’ strength and determination to be prickly and strong.

Think about it. Weeds are simple plants that bug the heck out of us. Its only purpose in life is to come charging out from under the earth despite any walls or coverings in the way. We all experience frustrating days where it feels like one problem appears after another. If weeds can make it, we certainly can and many have.

I’ve heard many stories of how people overcame horrors and barriers in their lives to come out stronger for it and staying positive.

I’d rather substitute weeds with people and that’s a story we can learn from. Besides, people wouldn’t mess with my flower bed.

Flower bed remains a half blank canvas. We’re hoping to figure out a small, simple landscape that needs little watering. Oh, and triple covering.

P.S. The backyard landscaping has zero plants, lots of rocks and some big rocks as decor. And what do you know? Weeds made it through, too.

Robert Hruzek’s What I learned from… inspired this post. Hat tip and thank you, Robert.

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Inauguration Day 2009

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 at 7:59 AM | Category: Leftovers No comments

I share today’s birthday with many friends. Having a inaugurabirthday makes it easier to remember special days like today. My fondest memory comes from 1981 when we watched the inauguration in social studies class. A TV in the classroom was an occasion in itself.

We saw the hostages freed from Iran and exiting the plane. We watched Reagan take oath with Mrs. Reagan looking on.

While we didn’t see many babies named Ron or Nancy, it wouldn’t surprise me if the following comic comes true in a classroom in 2014 (click to view larger).

First Day of School 2014

I love that many parents take their heritage in consideration when they name their kids these days. It adds to the diversity that’s America.

My hope for this year is that thing economy turns around for the better and see more efforts to make peace and green our world.

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Let Us Tweet

Thursday, December 18th, 2008 at 11:25 AM | Category: Leftovers, Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech 1 comment

Was inspired by with my mangling of “Let it Snow” into Let Us Blog. Since I use Twitter lots now, I thought we needed “Let Us Tweet.” Apologies again to Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, the composers of the original.

Also, Dragon NaturallySpeaking makes an appearance at the end of the post with both songs 🙂

MP3 of my mauling my own lyrics.

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the monitor is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to retreat
Let us tweet! Let us tweet! Let us tweet!

Twitter doesn’t show signs of stopping
And I’ve done all my shopping.
Since the tweets continue to fleet.
Let us tweet! Let us tweet! Let us tweet!

I finally sign out for the night,
But please tweet me lots tonight.
So while I’m away from the keyboard,
I know that in the morning I won’t be bored!

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, going offline we’re still defying.
But as long as you have some heat,
Let us tweet! Let us tweet! Let us tweet!

Dragon NaturallySpeaking version

Note: I trained the software on the words “Twitter,” “tweet” and “blog.”

Of the weather outside is frightful
Part-time monitor is so delightful
And skins we know place two weeks week
Let us tweaked that escalate bad us tweaked

Twitter doesn’t show signs of stopping
And I have done my shopping
Send a police continue to freaked
Let us tweaked that as two-week that us tweaked

Dominates signout for the night
That please tweaked me lats tonight
Self I’ll comment on my thumb the keyboard
I knows back in the morning I want the code

Faced I is slowly dying
Amide be was dealt defying
But at last I feel asked them he
Mattos tweaked let us tweaked let us tweaked

Let Us Blog the Dragon way

Oh the love for outside is frightful
Back the Monaco is so delightful
And since we’ve know plays to Jeong
Militarists blog let us log metas blog

Than nine dozen shows signs of stopping
And I gone to Amazon for is shopping
We play at the Mac doesn’t clout
Metas blog let us log that gossip blog

We find out I sign our Brooklynite
How I hate bellowing away from the keyboard
Fact is you’ll e-mail me lasts to my
Zen and the morning abruptly toward

The Frio is slowly dying
And my dear we’ll still ironing
Pat as long but as you have some Orlov
Let us allowed that as blog let us blog

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Capturing the Freelance Life in Pajama Diaries

Monday, September 15th, 2008 at 11:30 AM | Category: Business, Leftovers, Meryl's Notes Blog 3 comments

I love Terri Libenson’s The Pajama Diaries. My mom saves them for me since my local newspaper doesn’t carry the comic strip (I submitted a request for it). The strip revolves around freelancer Jill Kaplan, a mother and Jewish woman. That’s me. AND my maiden name is Kaplan. The following strip captures a day in the life of a freelancer except add PTA and volunteer work in there.

Pajama Diaries

Click to view larger

Jill is an graphic designer, but most of the time the strip focuses on the fact she’s a freelancer working in an home office. Here you can see more examples. I would love to see the series come out in book form like Baby Blues, which I also love. I relate to the Pajama Diaries more from a career and balance work and home-life perspective. Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott do a lovely job capturing parenthood and children in Baby Blues.

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Flying the Flag at Half Staff

Thursday, September 11th, 2008 at 9:00 PM | Category: Leftovers, Meryl's Notes Blog No comments

It warms a gals heart to see all the flags flying at half staff to remember 9/11. This tragic event united us all. Here’s my story of this day in 2001.


New Beginnings in 2008

Monday, August 25th, 2008 at 8:45 AM | Category: Leftovers, Meryl's Notes Blog 4 comments

Youngest Evans is on the inside looking outOne hour ago, I walked my youngest of three and his older brother to the school bus. They headed for their first day in kindergarten and fourth grade. While one kid went off to his first day of elementary school, the oldest headed to high school for volleyball practice and starting her first day of high school.

I sit here enjoying the silence not knowing what to do with myself though plenty of work waits for me. It’ll take a few days to return to the swing of things and follow a regular schedule. I can’t help but recall the the birth of my youngest and my excitement about the first day of third grade (I don’t know why I remember that particular year) that I took out my newest dress and shoes the night before.

Birth. Infant. Toddler. Pre-K. Man, I graduated high school 20 years ago this year! And here I am the mother of a freshman. I can’t be old enough for this can I? Where did the time go?

Despite new beginnings, I don’t feel different. Things just come and you go with the flow. But that’s not how it goes when I start working on the first assignment for a new client. That makes my stomach flip as I want to please the client. Be the more work I do for a client, the easier it becomes.

Evans boys walk to busThe 2008 Olympics end. I miss not having the TV on waiting for me to catch the next game, race, or performance. My sons took an interest in the games, which was nice as we all rooted for USA, of course. I remember watching the 1984 Olympics from a Texas A&M dorm while attending basketball camp. Hated to see them end last night with the final blow out, but all good things…

Joanna Young has a new beginning of her own. She moved to a new home and had to take a long break from blogging (10 days). We’re glad to have her back in our community and hope she enjoys her new home.

Any new beginnings in your life? How do they make you feel? How do you deal with them?

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Blogosaurus? Me?

Saturday, July 5th, 2008 at 10:54 AM | Category: Blogging, Leftovers, Meryl's Notes Blog No comments

From buddy Steve Kayser:

Happy 8th Blog Birthday, you Blogosaurus, you!

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