My beloved Mark Gerking

We’re sitting here at the Cancer Center one hour into an infusion that will take about eight hours total. Ernie’s dozing because they just pumped him full of benedryl. I’m eating a Lara bar and wondering how the hell Mark Gerking can be gone from this world. As Peter Cooper famously wrote about Johnny Cash, “Somehow, Mark Gerking is dead.”

When we were just starting to have house concerts, 2011 or so, I got a call out of the blue from a guy in Sioux City asking me for details about our upcoming Phil Lee/Tom Mason show. After a moment he asked if could do a poster for the show. “Um, uh, sure,’ I said, slightly puzzled as to why somebody would just call me and offer to do a poster. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship as they say.

Here’s one of the first of many emails I got from him. After receiving the first of oh so many wonderful posters, I had asked him if he did this professionally.

Man, I don’t know if I have words for this. Deep breath.

I loved Mark, and Ernie and Mark adored each other, which of course made me love him all the more. Ernie always considered Mark his older brother despite the fact that Mark was younger. When Mark and I would message each other he’d always end with, “Give my little brother a punch in the arm’ and I could just see his grin. The two of them had their own private music language. They bonded over Flo and Eddie and oh so many other things. Their taste wasn’t exactly the same but overlapped greatly and this ensured that they both could come up with facts to amaze the other.

Every evening when I curl up in what I refer to as ‘my corner,’ I am surrounded by Mark Gerking posters. Mark was part of our life, part of our chosen family. He will always be with us.

With the illustrious Phil Lee and friends
After our Steve Forbert show
the shows were even better when Mark was in the house

I will love you forever Mark Gerking.

Top photo: stolen from Van DeLisle. I imagine this was Van and Karin and Mark eating at a favorite restaurant in Chicago.

A few of my favorite posters. There is a FB page for friends you may want to check out. He was loved by many. I hope he had just an inkling of how loved he was. My thoughts are with his family, particularly son Jake (seen below in the Tommy Womack poster).

Buster and the Hard Stuff

It’s been a hell of a week.

I put the photo of the best moment at the top of this post. Cosmic Charlie and Carrie Chandler (two thirds of Carrie Sue and the Woodburners). They were wonderful and did my heart SO much good. We wholeheartedly recommend them. Long live the mighty Rosebowl.

OK, here goes. We woke up Monday, no, wait, Tuesday, in foul moods. Not irritated with each other but definitely not pleased with the world. Teri had invited us to her Rotary meeting and that’s where Charlie and Carrie played. As I mentioned, they were great and it was nice to chat for a moment too. Live music forever.

Ernie had dropped me off pretty close to the Lake House. I used Joe (the shillelagh) and was doing ok although it was a harder walk than I expected. And as someone with mobility issues I must say that the toilet in the Lake House is possibly the lowest I’ve ever rested on. I was quite amused but managed to get up. I headed outside knowing Ernie would catch up but I got just a little ways and realized my legs were not working the way one would expect one’s legs to work. I leaned against the wall. Teri ran to get a chair and a truly kind woman named Linda stood with me, kind of propping me up while Ernie ran to get Red Rider (the walker). I just didn’t expect this so I was a bit freaked out. I thanked Linda and made it to the car with Red Rider but it wasn’t easy. I was, of course, in tears by that point. We were supposed to head over to Carle so Ernie could get platelets. Instead he raced me home and got me in the house because I didn’t think I could navigate Carle at the moment. He got his platelets but when they tested him again, his count was even lower. Geesh.

Yesterday we headed back to Carle. I got to the doctor’s office for the appointment but I mustn’t have looked on top of things as the nurse offered me water. Lord she was kind. She’s one of our favorites. I know I complain here and there about Carle but there are some extraordinarily kind folks there, particularly in the Cancer Center and Vasireddy worlds.

Yesterday was a great day for clouds…view from the Cancer Center valet parking

The Pod Gods must have known we needed a break because we got POD FOUR!!! Pod Four in the Infusion Suite is just is a bit more private and quiet and that can make a huge difference. He was just getting Keytruda so we were out before noon.

Unfortunately I am still having difficulty walking much. Getting upstairs last night was harrowing. Today there’s stuff I need to get done but I’m trying to focus on both of us relaxing and calming down a bit. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Deep breath in, deep breath out.

On the up side? There are MULTIPLE baby Busters!!! Damn, life is good despite the hard stuff.

Also, we are extraordinarily touched by the folks that have donated blood in Ernie’s Blood Drive (which goes through noon tomorrow). Truly. I’ll write more later but it means a lot to us. He heads back for a six hour infusion (only two hours for platelets, the rest is an infusion for his immune system) on Monday. Funny how your perspective of what is important changes as you move through life.


Oh, wait, one more thing. You gotta admit…. Buster and the Hard Stuff would be a great band name. I mean I still want The Cynthias who will cover all my favorite songs but I really like Buster and the Hard Stuff for originals.

Buster II is recovering from the woodchuck attack. We’re not asking which woodchuck did it.
Hoping to have some Jon Byrd news soon!

It’s feeling like summertime

What a lovely weekend it was. Weather wise (oh, wait, Friday was rainy I guess) but mostly people wise.

Saturday I wimped out and didn’t go to see our beloved Michael Coulter’s artwork at the inimitable Loose Cobra. My legs and back were just not in the best of form. However, my beloved didn’t once waffle about not going, despite me not going, which pleased me greatly.

I just realized this is us at the Iowa Falls Popcorn Stand. Now I love it more than ever!

Sunday we ventured out to the Rosebowl to see dear friend Jay Rosenstein play. Every time he plays I plan to go and I just never do. I’m an idiot. Lord, he sounded wonderful and it felt so good to be out. Sitting under the Rosebowl tent, a glass of wine for me, some NA beer for Ernie, seeing so many friends and experiencing wonderful live music. Ahh. Truly doesn’t get much better. Thanks, Jay. ❤️


Oh, oh, oh, and by the way, this morning Ernie saw Mrs. Chuck leading a string of chucklings across the yard next door. Life IS good. And Buster II seems to recovering from the woodchuck assault!

Top photo: Woke Mountain Boys (Jay Rosenstein, John Tubbs and Sean Kutzko) at the Rosebowl. Photos of Ernie, Coulter and Jimmy stolen from Teri McCarthy!