coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Art scares him

I took my 7 year old grandson, N, to the Orlando Museum of Contemporary Art.  He had just participated in two weeks of Art Camp at a local gallery. I thought I'd take him to an art museum to broaden his horizon.

N is psyched to go any place that has a gift shop. This gift shop was up front by the admissions counter. Big mistake. He wanted to go there right away. I dug deep to invoke all my Grandma power, convincing him the gift shop would be the end of our adventure. 

We first encountered a blown glass sculpture as tall as the ceiling. It looked like an purple and yellow alien Christmas tree. He thought that was cool. I felt hopeful.

Next was a contemporary painting with no definable shape. It depicted stylized, frenetic representations of angry people wearing horse heads. He pondered it before exclaiming "Whoah, that's just WRONG!"  

Horse Head painting must have really creeped him out, because I had to cajole him into the other gallery spaces. He stood outside the entrance ways pointing towards the gift shop. He wanted to leave. He was actually afraid, poor kid. 

I thought maybe abstractions were the problem, but he seemed equally freaked by the representational art. We stopped in front of a large painting of a woman with two children. It was painted in a loose, impressionistic style with thick impasto. His thoughts? "Why does it seem like she's staring at me, Grandma?" 

The next room had reasonably benign landscapes. Not interested, he high-tailed it through to the next room which brought him to a skidding halt. An artist had piled all sorts of daily artifacts, toys, and plastic fruit/veg about a foot high on a long, narrow table and spray painted the entire piece bright pink. I loved it. He didn't want to go near it. His eyes were as big as saucers. 

He power-walked through various rooms without looking. Happily, the final room saved the day. An artist created miniature rooms in glass boxes with all the related teeny accoutrements. There were also headphones alongside the displays. Niko liked putting the headphones on. I have no idea what the artist was telling him, but it made him happy. Perhaps the guy said "Find the gift shop, young Skywalker."

And that's what we did. Art may now be ruined for him, but he got a great toy. A CubeBot, which is a representational abstraction, right?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

First world problems

Our air conditioning unit broke down last Sunday. That's always traumatic in July or August when 90-100° days, replete with drenching humidity, are common. Luckily, it was a relatively cool 86° with cloud cover and rainstorms.

The total repair charges end up being about $750. We will also be signing up for their yearly maintenance plan, which is $179 for the coming year. The guy told us that a new unit, which we "should really think about getting soon" would be $6,500. Yeah, right.

I think about this, and all the other charges for house maintenance. I wonder how many more years T and I will be able to afford to live in our own house.

Then I feel ashamed of my petty worries. Even if we were forced to sell and go into a small apartment we would still have enough. Enough is so much more than most people have. What a rough and tumble, frightening world we live in. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

My Day of Rest

Sunday is my day of rest. I'm happily retired, so why would I, of all people, need a day of rest? Because it is hard to find my way back to me. Know what I mean?

One friend (who is still working) often accuses me of being a "princess" when I complain. Hey!
After 45 years of working jobs I didn't love, and putting other people first, I want to be a princess now.

A couple of months ago I noticed I was always in a hurry and unable to relax. I was over scheduled, which happens, dontcha know? However, I don't want to eliminate any of the things I do.

My solution was to make Sunday my day of rest. On Sunday I only do what I want to do, even if it is nothing.

Sunday is now the day that I feel most retired and free. I look forward to it. Everyone should have a least one "ME" day each week. If I ruled the world you would have one, too.   

I could get an exact copy of this tiara for $15.99 on amazon

Friday, June 28, 2019

Democratic Debates

I have been awash in political fervor the last couple days because of the Democratic Debates.  It was so fun and reassuring to see all the candidates talking like they were empathetic, smart, tolerant human beings who cared about climate change, health care, and the human condition.  I would happily vote for most of them, and will definitely vote for any Democratic who wins the primary.  Right now I'm loving Harris, Buttigieg, Warren, Castro the most.

Here's a little inspiration to get you going today if you are on facebook:

and, of course this also gives me hope for a brighter future:

But, you know

Monday, June 17, 2019

Father's Day 2019

Father's Day has come and gone. It is always a tough holiday for me. My Dad was complicated, and when I say "complicated" it's a euphemism for "What the Hell was WRONG with that guy!" Still, I don't want to wallow in my conflicted feelings for him. I adored him as a child. I feared him as a teen. I avoided him as an adult.  I was sad when he died. 

He loomed large. Sometimes it is hard to believe he is gone.

Easter 1953

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Mr. Moonlight

I was a diehard Beatlemaniac as a young girl in the early and middle 1960s. 

I guess if I had to choose one favorite it would be Mr. Moonlight on the album called Beatles for Sale (in the U.S). John Lennon screaming his heart out about Mistuhuhuhuh Moonlight in the beginning was a revelation to me as a tween. I remember thinking "What the heck was THAT?" I played the beginning over and over, just to feel what it made me feel. In my youthful innocence I didn't know.  I just knew it moved me on a deep and joyful level. Only later did I realize it was passion. Of course the passionate cry was also perfectly executed, providing one of my earliest experiences of pop excellence.

I'm probably driving my husband nuts right now, because as I've been writing this I've been restarting the song over and over again. Apparently, it never gets old.

Do you have a favorite Beatles song?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

I was never beautiful, but still I mourn the loss

I was never beautiful, although I think there were times in my life when I was reasonably attractive. If not attractive because of beauty, then at least attractive by the strength of my will, or the intensity of my stare. I mourn the loss of youth because, as they say, there is beauty in youth. It is hard to say goodbye to all that when your concept of beauty is limited to cultural norms.

Is there also beauty in aging? I think so, if we can only get over our fear of death and our revulsion over the aging process. Wrinkles, gray hair and all the rest less obvious trappings of age are confusing. The changes that aging bring are horrifying only sometimes, but always astounding in their creeping permanency. Still, the older women I have loved always seemed beautiful to me.

I'm inclined to let age have its way with me. I would put my energy elsewhere, because this is a fight I cannot win.

My maternal grandmother.  I didn't know her but I love the children she raised so I guess I love her, too.

My paternal grandmother, one of the best people who has ever walked this earth

My sweet mother (big sigh)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rallying Cries

There has never been a woman president in the United States. There has never been a woman vice president. Ever. Can I say that again? Ever!

When I say “Elect women” or “We need a woman president” it pushes some right over the edge. I've had so many online arguments with men AND women who hear a pro-woman rallying cry and assume I'll single-handedly destroy the U.S. presidential election by refusing to vote for a male candidate.

Then there are the ones who say, “We tried it with Hillary and it didn’t work. The country isn’t ready to elect a woman, if you wait it will happen eventually.” Uh, I became a feminist in 1968. I’ve been waiting for over 50 years. I’m sick of waiting.

The "We tried HIllary" argument creeps me out. Although she likely won the election, and certainly won the popular vote, some think if one woman ran and didn’t win, then that justifies not considering a woman candidate. I understand the fears, but really? How can we change the world if we only give women one shot at power?

Rallying cries are emotional shorthand meant to focus attention on an issue. “Vote for Women” is intended to remind us that women are not fully represented in government and we need more women in power. That’s all, folks.

When women say "Let's support women candidates" or "Elect Women" it doesn't mean gender is the only factor. It's like saying "Black People Matter." That statement does not mean ONLY black people matter. It means black people matter, TOO. 'Isms are tricky, complicated, slippery damn things. Let's think more deeply about them.

I will advocate for those I consider the best candidates, and all other things being equal I will vote for a woman. But if a man is the best candidate, I’ll vote for the man. 

However, I won't dismiss women candidate out of hand because some believe women can't win. I'm giving all the candidates a chance to convince me. I'm open.

It’s way too early for me to know who I’ll vote for in the primary. I currently have 3 favorites: two woman and one man. That could change over time. Most of the others I like, too. I’m a team player. “Vote Blue, No Matter Who” is also a rallying cry I hold dear. I just want more women elected to government at all positions, even president. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

CHOICE: 1998 advice to a pregnant teen

Here's a letter I wrote to a 15 year old pregnant niece of mine over 20 years ago.  In light of the current attack on Roe vs. Wade, I think this is thought provoking.  I think there's a lot we all need to think about.  If we don't think, we may not act.  If we don't act, our hard fought rights will be eroded.  Anyway, I'm sharing this letter and I still stand behind it. How wonderful that she had a choice.

5 Nov 1998

Dear ---,

So glad to hear you received the clothes. M and I had a lot of fun picking them out. T got a kick out of how different maternity clothes are nowadays. You can’t imagine how UGLY maternity clothes used to be. Big, clunky collars and blocky shapes. Yuck. And they didn’t used to have maternity jeans, so I had to cut out the stomach in mine, and sew in elastic panels. 

Sounds like your pregnancy is progressing nicely. You’ll be amazed at how glorious the whole experience is.  Nothing else like it in the world. Your Grandma is famous for having really easy deliveries. She was able to just pop ‘em out with little pain and with short labors (she delivered J at home because it went so quick she didn’t have time to get to the hospital). Maybe you’ll have inherited that from our side of the family? Did your Mom ever talk about her pregnancies and deliveries?

How’s school?  Does it seem weird to be going to classes pregnant?  Also “in the old days” they made girls quit high school when they got pregnant. You couldn’t attend classes when you started to show (or when the gym teacher found out - they used to track our periods in gym class in order to figure out when one of us got pregnant).  I was in college, trying to major in art, when I was pregnant.  People really thought it was weird that I was still taking classes. One professor actually asked me why I was still enrolled.  It really pissed me off - I remember answering, “What else am I supposed to do?”  It just never occurred to me to live my life any differently than I had been. People can be so mean, you know?

Here’s the advice part of the letter (warning, I’m not a normal person - so please just humor me):

Yeah, well, life can be pretty @#*! hard, especially when you don’t have a lot of money.  It’s the nature of “Life” to take it’s best shot from time-to-time - sometimes hitting you square in the face. The really special people in this world seem to be the ones who are strong enough to take it on the chin, pick themselves up and keep on trying to do their best. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a pro-boxing match on TV - I love boxing. I think it symbolizes a whole lot about the way reality is for working class people. I really love that “down but not out” stuff.  And even when someone doesn’t win, if they fight with A LOT OF HEART, they still earn the respect and admiration of the audience. It‘s really all about the effort - not the result. I see you as having a lot of heart.  I’m in awe of the things you’re doing right now to keep yourself afloat. What an enormous effort it must be to try to get through school this year, and to provide a safe, healthy environment for yourself while you’re pregnant. I think you must be pretty wonderful.

And on top of all that, you’re also faced with some major real-life decisions. I’m glad to hear that people are giving you a lot of time and space to make the decision about the baby. That’s important.  Because (as you’ve figured out by now) once we get pregnant, women are faced with those three scary choices:  abort the fetus, allow the pregnancy to go full term and keep the baby, or give the baby to someone else to raise. Realistically, each one of those decisions will bring you physical and emotional pain at some definable point in time.  Each decision becomes a path your life will take forever.  Any one of those choices will probably bring you additional emotional pain further down the line. That’s just the way it is, but the fact that each is a hard choice makes them all equal in some ways.  Of course, each choice will bring you moments of great happiness in the future, as well.  Consequently, I don’t think any one of them is a bad decision. They’re all good choices to make, depending on who you are, what you want from your life, and what you feel you can handle.  Emotional pain isn’t the end of the world. When you have a lot of heart (which you do) and are a strong woman (which I think you will become) - you can handle emotional pain. It can shape you for the good, or for the bad - depending on who you are, and how you approach it. 

Independent of the pregnancy, what do you want to do with your life, by the way? What were your plans for after graduation before you found out you were pregnant?

Please write and let Uncle T and me know how you’re doing.  We care about you, and we’re concerned about your current situation.  And, of course, we wish you the absolute best.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Guess which charming Florida retirees are going to become great-grandparents at the end of this year?  Yahooooooo.