coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Girl Culture

I recently accompanied my daughter, M, to my 13 year old granddaughter's middle school where E is in rehearsal for a play. M is the parent in charge of costumes. She has a crew of 13-year old girls to help with sewing, carting things around, etc. There are lots of teaching moments where the girls learn to sew and to problem solve.

I sat back in a corner and observed. I don't have mad sewing skills so I did not have much to offer.  Also, as an older person I find my presence often makes younger people uncomfortable if they don't know me. They feel like they have to behave. So I tried to fade into the woodwork. No need, as it turned out.

The crew was designing padded "parts" for a female character in the play. All these girls are twigs, and the character is supposed to be large.  They were hilarious flouncing around and bouncing off each other with the fake body parts. I couldn't help it, I laughed loud and long at their hijinks. It was like being front row center at an old time Vaudeville show. How glorious they were in their bawdy innocence. They were boldly comfortable with the shared silliness. Most of all, they were happy, young, and goofy.

It was comforting to know that when girls are in what they consider a safe space, they will still act like the children they are. I hate the pressure our society puts on young girls to grow up too fast.

Each one, a joy unto herself

Thursday, March 9, 2017

My Grandmother's Ghost

My mother saw her own mother’s ghost. I think that is why Mom was reluctant to speak of her mother. Grandma (Veronica from my post Enduring Love) died in November 1950. Mom was pregnant with me, about a year later, when she woke up in the middle of the night to see her mother standing in the doorway of the room. Veronica had on her favorite blue coat, and her ribbon hat (apparently a popular style of the late 1940’s). She was trying hard to communicate with Mom. Although her lips were moving and she was urgently trying to speak, Mom could not hear what Veronica was trying to say. She sat up in bed, leaned forward and said “What?” to her mother. At that point my father woke up and the apparition disappeared. 

Many years later (in the late 1980’s), I went to a Spiritualist church for an adventurous night out with a group of friends.  I am not a member of that church (or any church), but sometimes my friends and I would go to a meeting or two at the Spiritualist church each summer. Like many locals we would go for the fun of it when the church hosted open "spirit readings" for non-members. They were good at it, too; very spooky stuff.

In preparation, I concentrated hard all day on asking my dead grandmother to send me a message telling me what she had been trying to tell my Mom that night so long ago. It must have worked, because later that night the Spiritualist minister pointed me out in the crowd and told me that there was a grandmotherly spirit standing right behind me. He said the spirit wanted to give me her message herself rather than relate it through the psychic preacher. He instructed me to concentrate and meditate over the course of the next few weeks so that the “materialization” could take place. "Holy shit," I thought.

He must have seen the look of terror in my eyes, because he took great pains to reassure me there was nothing to be afraid of. Yeah, right. I was absolutely terrified at the thought of seeing a ghost. I thought, “OK, no problem – I won’t concentrate, I won’t meditate, and then nothing will happen.” I only wanted a freakin' message, I did NOT want to see a ghost.

I'm a big chicken about things that go bump in the night. Like a little kid, I was too afraid to sleep. I dozed fitfully, sparingly, and nervously for the next 2 nights. I was afraid to close my eyes because of what I might dream, and afraid to open my eyes because of what I might see! It's funny now, looking back on it. However, I was sincerely scared at the time.

By the third night I was exhausted. I fell deeply and peacefully asleep. I dreamed of my maternal grandmother. I clearly remember seeing her in that dream, and I know she took a long time to tell me many things. When I woke up I could not for the life of me remember anything she said, except for one message I was to give to my mother. She told me to tell my mother not to let her feelings get hurt so easily. 

I called to convey the message to my mother.  She seemed surprised and shocked with what I called to tell her, but she didn’t say much. It was a short phone call. Later I discovered that she had been fighting with her sisters for weeks because she had taken offense at something one of them had said to her, and she was nursing a serious case of hurt feelings.

I wonder if this is the ribbon hat?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Traveling on fire

Not only am I NOT a good traveler, I am a red hot anxiety-ridden mess. Sure, I love being other places and I always have a great time. I just don't like traveling to get there and back, especially by air. As I was reminded during my recent trip, air travel consists of a series of hurdles one must silently endure without losing one's mind:

Will my alarm go off? Did I remember my pills, my phone charger? How early does one get to the airport, and what is the traffic pattern on the way? What if I get in an accident?  Aaaack!

Do I check my bag or try to stuff that sucker in an overhead bin?
How heavy is it anyway, 'cause I'm no spring chicken. How long are the security check lines? Why did that alarm go off? Oh no, did I forget to take my cute little Swiss Army Knife out of my jeans pocket? Damn! I LOVE that knife.

Will the plane actually leave on time, or at all? Will we make our connection? Should I buy a Bloody Mary to calm myself down? Is the lounge even open at 8 a.m.? Do I have time to go to the bathroom? Why are bathroom lines so long?

What zone am I in and does that mean I'll board last?
Will there be overhead space left by the time I board? Why am I the only one who can't figure out the in-flight wifi? Should I buy snacks from the flight attendant even though I'm not hungry? Will the proper lady sitting next to me judge me harshly if I order that Bloody Mary NOW?

When the plane lands and the seat belt sign goes off, do I jump up and try to wrestle my carry-on bag out of the bin, hoping against hope that I still have enough upper body strength to guide it smoothly to the aisle floor? Or should I sit patiently like the proper lady next to me, trusting people on the other side of the aisle to let me out?

I could go on and on, but I'll stop here to give you a break. Nope,
I don't trust the world. Some people assume everything will go right. I assume the opposite. If I travel with others, I often get on their nerves. Surprised? Oh well, at this point I probably won't change. I am more likely to roll with the punches than go with the flow. Taking a deep breathe now and letting it all go. Ha! As if.

I am happy to be home where chaos can be a good thing.

Friday, February 24, 2017

New York City with my girls

What a great time, 3 generations of women together in NYC. Sure, there was squabbling and snark; however, those inevitable moments sparked by lack of privacy were overshadowed by the love we felt and the fun we had.

We flew from Orlando to Newark, NJ, then took a hotel shuttle to Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel. The 3-day
musical theatre workshop (acting, singing, dancing) was staged by Broadway Artist Alliance, housed in the heart of the Theatre District. The hotel was conveniently a block away.

E's workshop started each morning at 9:30. M&E sleep until the last minute (trusting the world again). I wake up at the crack of dawn. I did NOT want to be around when they woke up late and crashed around the hotel room. I slipped out and went down to the lobby to drink lots of coffee and read an actual newspaper. Oh yeah, there were BAGELS. The real deal. I was in heaven.

The workshop didn't end until 7:00 p.m., leaving M and me free to roam, shop, eat, and talk each day. I loved spending time alone with her. It was also a long school holiday weekend, so crowds on the street were fierce. I walked fast, weaving and bobbing like a prizefighter. Or maybe more like a drunken sailor on leave, desperate to keep up?

Space is a prime commodity on an island. Stores in the City are narrow and multi-floored with people everywhere, even grocery and drug stores. It seemed odd to take an elevator to get to the sinus meds in Walgreens. Buildings are unique and details a joy, especially on the oldest, funkiest buildings. I had a good time just looking at things.

We went to a NY style pizzeria and devoured a fabulously greasy pepperoni and black olive pizza! The crust was perfect. I'm happy to report Florida pizza will never satisfy my granddaughter again.

Homeless people begging on the streets are heartbreaking. I imagine native New Yorkers become desensitized, but it hurt my heart. One young man was lying next to a building covered with a dirty blanket. He was clearly sick or high, his eyes glazed. He never looked up, even when I put money in his cardboard box and he muttered a weak "Thank you." He is someone's child. I wanted to hold him in my arms and call him honey. I wanted to tell him everything will be okay, even though I know it won't. I wonder if his parents know where he is? I hope not.

Me, capturing something "important" while M screamed at me to get out of the street

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New York City: pics

I returned last night from a very long weekend in New York City with my daughter M and granddaughter E.  It was fabulous. I will write about it soon, but today I am just going to post some photos. We went because E was taking a three day acting workshop in the Theatre District. We were constrained to Midtown for a variety of reasons, so we didn't do all the NYC tourist things, but we did go to 3 musicals (Dear Evan Hansen, Cats, and Sunset Boulevard).  I loved all the busy storefronts, building embellishments, vertical lines, street scene depth.  There were bagels, scones, pubs, Junior's cheesecake, NY style pizza.  Anyway, here are some NYC photos.

P.S. today I am going on a diet.  

Cabs lined up outside Penn Station on 8th

I was fascinated by the painted building.

Sure, cops on horses near Times Square.  Why not?

Such diversity, the REAL America

NBC entrance

Rockefeller Center

More Art Deco bas relief on a building in the Rockefeller Center area

It is crazy what reflection can do

This building entrance made me happy

Another interesting modern building reflection

Art Deco everywhere at Rockefeller Center Buildings

So much to look at, and such detail on many buildings

Mixed grill for breakfast, yum

No fake news here!

I did NOT skate at Rockefeller  Center, but these people did

Times Square is the strangest place

A great ceiling in the building where E took the workshop
St. Patrick's Cathedral

We were lucky enough to see Glenn Close revisit her role in Sunset Boulevard, she was great

30 Rockefeller Plaza

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Enduring Love

My maternal grandmother was Veronica, born in Chicago in 1892, and died in Lake Co., Indiana (IN) in 1950. Veronica had 13 children with William, but only 10 lived to adulthood. My aunts said she was very “organized.” What might they have meant with that word? I imagine she would have had to be organized (and strict) to manage all those children. Grandpa was a railroad worker and Grandma supplemented the family income by baking pies for local restaurants. The family lived in a community settled in the mid-19th century by German immigrants. They spoke German in the home until WWI, when Grandma forbade it lest the locals think them unpatriotic. 

Veronica was a carrier of a genetic disease, X-ALD (Adrenaleukodystrophy). I wrote about it a while back if you are interested in weird genetic diseases. 

From what I hear, Veronica was “da boss” in that family. Since her own father drank a bit too much, my grandmother did not allow Grandpa to drink beer in the house. If he wanted a beer he had to go sit on the back porch to drink it. In another story, she was making apple pies in the kitchen and was annoyed by two of her teenage daughters who were loudly arguing in the dining room.  She picked up an apple and threw it at one of my aunts, hitting her in the head. It stopped the fight. I'm sorry. I know that's extreme, but I'm a sucker for physical humor. It makes me laugh.

I can't help but admire her, although I suspect she was feared as much as loved. A woman like that? Well, her life would have been very different if she had been born in 1950 instead of dying in that year. My aunts spoke well of her. Her youngest daughter (#12 of 13, who was only 16 when Veronica died) adored her. My own mother (#8 of 13), never spoke of her. If pushed she would only say, “I loved my mother.” That was it. Perhaps my mother was afraid to talk about her because Veronica's ghost visited my mother one dark night. That will have to wait for another post.
William and Veronica, married 1910

Veronica’s mother was Catherine, born 1869 in Lake Co., IN and died there in 1935. She and Frank had 7 children. Only three lived to marry and have children. Her father died when she was a year old, and her mother died when she was ten. She and her siblings were raised by their stepfather and his second wife. 

Catherine was a sweet, kindly woman with a gregarious husband.
Her oldest son’s wife died leaving him with three daughters to raise. Great Uncle Harry moved back in with his parents so his mother, Catherine, could raise those girls. I met one of the girls (my mother’s first cousin, Dorothy). She told me how loving her Grandmother Catherine was. Dorothy said firmly and with great pride: “It couldn’t have been easy to take on three children at her age, but she did!” I was proud of Great Grandma then, too, and awed by the strength of her love. She also said that when Grandpa (Frank) was being demanding, Grandma (Catherine) would whisper to Dorothy “He thinks he’s the crowned head!” 
Frank and Catherine, married 1887

Catherine’s mother was Susanna, born 1848 at Lake Co., IN. Susanna had three children with first husband, Anton, a German immigrant and school teacher. They married in 1866. He died in 1870 from the adult variant of X-ALD. She had 4 more children with her second husband, Peter, and died in childbirth at age 31 in 1879. Peter raised all her children. He remarried and had 10 more children with his second wife.

I have a soft spot for Susanna. She died young, suffered the loss of her first husband, and left so many young, dependent children when she died. She is buried in the same cemetery as her second husband, not the same as her first. That kind of bothers me, especially since the second husband is buried next to his second wife, not her. Intellectually I understand, but it still bothers me. She is mine. I like to imagine Anton was the love of her life and they are separated unfairly for eternity. This is how family rumors start. 

I was told the following photo is of Susanna, although this woman looks older than 31. However, she also looks exactly like my mother. Let's believe it really is her, okay?
Susanna (1848-1879)

Susanna’s mother was Catharina, born in a small village in the Saarland region of Germany in 1814. The Saarland was batted back and forth between France and Germany for centuries, and it seems to have been part of France in 1814 when Catharina was born. However, she spoke and identified as German when she arrived in the U.S. in 1843. She and Johann had 10 children, and she died in Lake Co., Indiana in 1886.

Catharina’s mother was Angelique (Angela), born 1784 in Germany. She arrived in the U.S. in 1843, and she died in 1859 in Lake Co., Indiana. Angela and Mathias had 6 children.

Angela’s mother was Margaretha, born 1763 in Germany, died there in 1804. She had 11 children with Michael. Four died in childhood, four immigrated to Indiana.

Margaretha’s mother was Maria, born about 1730 in Germany where she died in 1768. She married Lukas. 

I wish I knew all their stories. Thank you Sabine, for encouraging me to "bring it on." Obviously this is inspired by your recent post about your grandmother.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A morning in the life

At 7:00 a.m., I stumbled into the kitchen and poured myself a cup of coffee. I ate oatmeal while checking my blog for comments and reading your blogs. I put in focused Facebook time moderating that "secret group." I need postcards; instead, I wrote call-to-action letters to politicians who don't care. I do some variation on this theme most mornings. I usually do more of the same in the late afternoon or early evening. It is a post-Hillary thing. I think my husband (and many other husbands) fear his wife is becoming obsessed. We are not obsessed; we are persistent.

About 9:00 a.m., T and I rode our bikes to the post office. The sweet post office lady was out of pre-stamped postcards, which I took as a good sign. No problem, I can order them online. We are doing great things for the U.S.P.S.! On my way out I noticed white caladium making a spring comeback under a massive live oak.

Then we rode our bikes
to a park on Lake Apopka to see what we could see.
We did not see any alligators, but there was plenty of bird activity. The park's boardwalk has been closed to the public for 6 months. Repairs and maintenance are needed, but things do not happen quickly in Central Florida. Our sleezeball governor is probably withholding funds for this just like he's withholding funds to clean up the Everglades.

In the meantime, birds took over the boardwalk. I am sure they think the people-free boardwalk now belongs to them. A bald eagle has even taken to sitting at the edge of the walkway, but not today.

It was about 10:30 when we returned home.  Since I was already dirty, sweaty, and slathered in sunscreen I decided to stay outside and weed. Have I told you that I love to weed? Well, I do. It makes me feel accomplished. I am not sure why housework doesn't have the same effect.

I was gloriously filthy when I finished. T mulched over my work with thick layers of pine straw around cabbage palms, bromeliads, and azaleas. In a few areas I asked him not to mulch because caladium lived there last summer. They seemed happy and thrived until the cooler weather came. I'm keeping a lookout. No sign of them yet.

Here is a bad iPhone photo of the boardwalk this morning.  See the blue heron on the left?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Grounding myself

I went to see a Reiki master two weeks ago. Yep, my first time. I am open to and accepting of just about anything that doesn't hurt innocent people. But in my tight-fisted universe if it is not paid for by my health insurance, I usually don't go.

This Reiki master was having a sale, and you KNOW how hard it is to resist a sale! She's been learning Pranic Healing and needed warm bodies to practice on. My ailment? Anxiety, of course. What liberal American in their right mind is not experiencing anxiety at this point in time?

In my old stomping grounds in NYS, a practitioner might own an enormous, late 19th century Victorian house in town. S/he might rent apartments in the house to quirky graduate students who occasionally dropped by for tea. Everything she owned would be old, used and obviously potent. S/he would have ancient houseplants and overindulged pets.

This Orlando area practitioner lives in a modern, beautiful home in an upscale gated subdivision. Her house was elegantly appointed with stunning artifacts and fine art. The place was exquisitely tasteful. I experienced the sort of cognitive dissonance I suffer from ever since moving to Central Florida. I fear I will never belong here. The real problem is I am not sure I want to. I like old, used, and quirky. Don't get me wrong. She is a good person: kind, calm, and patient. I am the one who struggles with right and wrong.

I was
laid out on her work table like a corpse, with my eyes closed. She worked slowly, walking around my body without touching me, except for my feet. She touched my feet. I wonder why?

The dark behind my closed eyes immediately changed to orange. That was strange; I do not see colors when my eyes are closed. I mentioned it to her. After that we did not speak until she was done. I was aware of her movement around my body, because colors changed depending on where she was. When she was on my left side colors popped, ranging from white to gray to pea green, blue, and yellow; all bubbling together like a lava lamp. When she was on my right the colors exploded into magenta, maroon, pink, orange, and purple. I wish I knew the language of colors, because my unconscious mind was speaking eloquently in that foreign tongue.

When finished, she asked if I saw other colors. I said "Yes, it was like a light show that changed depending on where you were in relation to my body." She told me she had never known that to happen to anyone before. That surprised me, it seemed so obvious and apropos. Perhaps it does happen to others, but people don't mention it?

Her recommendation? Become more grounded. I like clear instructions so I asked,"What exactly does that mean?" "Feel the earth, touch a tree, walk in a forest, dig in the dirt" she replied with a comforting smile. I have been weeding my garden beds ever since, feeling the sandy Florida soil and claiming it as my own. Truthfully I do feel less anxious, even as the world falls apart around me. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

PB and WHAT?

I love peanut butter. I am thankful I was not cursed with a peanut allergy. You might think I am being facetious or shallow, but I am quite sincere. Peanut butter enhances the quality of my life, and I WANT the quality of my life to be enhanced.

I eat peanut butter on toast, in oatmeal, cookies, and sandwiches. I have a favorite African groundnut stew recipe that my husband whips up. It never fails to make me happy when I'm feeling blue. I spread PB on pancakes, crackers, and celery. If I am feeling especially wicked, I will scoop it out of the jar and eat it neat, right off the damn spoon. Secretly, of course...

You see, peanut butter is a comfort food for me.  My other comfort foods are anything red, and milk chocolate. I know dark chocolate is better for you, but it just doesn't float my boat like milk chocolate. Still, I force myself to choose dark chocolate from time to time just in case I have somehow changed my mind. I try to keep an open mind about these things.

I fully realize one "should not" use food to comfort, soothe, or pacify one's tortured self; however, it works. Anyway, I hate "should nots." "Should nots" make me want to do the opposite.  So, in the interest of not gaining a million pounds during these dark nights of the soul, I am looking for alternate ideas. NOT alternative facts, mind you. Do you have healthier and lighter comfort food you choose when you are simply eating to fill that empty part deep down inside? Lay it on me. I want to know. 

Pomona in winter, no doubt yearning for apples and cherries

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Remember the ladies

Yesterday I considered staying in bed all day with the covers pulled over my head. Considering the mood I was in, it probably would have been for the best. However, life is meant to be lived, adversity overcome, and these damn moods really MUST be tamed! This is the stuff of life. Who am I to surrender?

Instead, I will follow the the directive of Abigail Adams. In her March 31, 1776 letter to her husband, John Adams she asked him to "remember the ladies" when helping to build a code of laws for what what they hoped would become a new, independent nation dedicated to liberty and justice for all.

Today I remember the ladies on just one branch of my family. This is not my distaff line, although I could do that. Instead, I am thinking of my paternal grandpa's mother. Let us consider the lives of women in her line as a long, multi-generational Women's March for equality and respect. In honoring them, I also honor all the brave women marching on Washington, D.C. and other cities.

ere is
my great grandmother, Emma Frost. She was born in Wayne Co., Kentucky in 1881, and died there in 1963. She and her husband (her second cousin) were tobacco farmers who also operated a small grocery store in their house. Emma and her husband had 12 children.


Emma's mother was Ellen Ramsey (1857-1938), also from Wayne Co., Kentucky. Ellen was a farm woman who outlived two husbands, had 5 children with the first and 6 children with the second. Ellen Ramsey looked like this:

Ellen's mother was Sarah "Sally" Rector (1814-1905). Another farm woman! Sally is my 3rd great grandmother through Emma's side, but she is also my 3rd great aunt through Emma's husband's side. Ha! I need a chart to figure these things out. Sally and her husband had 10 children.


Sally's mother was Rutha Simpson. Rutha was born in Pendleton Co., South Carolina in 1790. Her family moved to Rowan Co., North Carolina when she was young, but by 1806 they were living in Wayne Co., Kentucky. Rutha's father was an officer in the Royalist army during the War for Independence, so they had to keep moving after the British lost. They were not welcome in most communities. Rutha, however, married a son of a Revolutionary War soldier who fought at the battle of Yorktown, when General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington. That must have made for interesting dinner conversations around the farmhouse table after all the chores were done. Rutha and her husband had nine children.
Rutha (from a painting on a commemorative plate)

Rutha's mother was Sarah Sherrill (b. 1746, Virginia; d. 1826 Kentucky). The Sherrill's are historical figures and old settlers. Her grandfather, William Sherrill, was born about 1670 in Devon, England. He arrived in Maryland about 1686 as a bonded passenger. In time, he became a fur trader and a well known Indian guide in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is also sometimes referred to as "The Conestoga Fur Trader." Sarah was a year old when she and her family left Augusta, Virginia to become the first Europeans to settle on the west side of the Catawba River in North Carolina. Sarah and her husband had as many as 13 children.

Sarah's mother was Agnes White. Agnes was born in Virginia in 1726 and was part of the pioneer North Carolina family referenced above. She died at Sherrill's Ford, North Carolina in 1795. Agnes White and William Sherrill had as many as 14 children, many dying young.

Agnes' mother was likely Mary "Polly" Campbell, born in Ulster, Ireland in 1686.  She married Duncan White, and she died in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1728. 

Polly's mother was possibly Mary McCoy, born in Scotland about 1650, married Moses White, and died in Ulster, Ireland about 1689. 

I honor these women today, with all my heart. They are only one branch of women who came before me. In the wheel of life that represents ancestry, there are so many others.