coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Painting the living room

We've been preoccupied the past week, painting the living room, dining room, and entrance way. We are not done yet, because we are not hurrying. I've spent the majority of my life hurrying to get things done both at work and at home. I'm beyond that now.  

What I have learned in retirement is this: Productivity is overrated. I need massive amounts of time to think, daydream, indulge myself with personal interests.  

on a walkway, looking down into the water below

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Dressing up

There are many online sales for women's clothing at this time of the year. I've been perusing the sales and seeing all sorts of work clothes I'd like to buy. The problem, of course, is that I'm retired and haven't worked outside the home in 9 years.  

I also almost never go anywhere I'd be required to wear nice clothes, especially a dress, and dresses are what I yearn for. I have dresses in my closet that are totally out of style, and a "little" tight. I'm going to get rid of them. What the heck am I hanging on to them for? If I don't get rid of them soon, the only people who will want them will be costumer's for high school plays.

This summer I'll be going to a family wedding that will require me to wear at least one dress, maybe two. I'm excited about buying the perfect dress for my old lady body. 

I want a dress that looks good on me. You know what I mean. You can try on 5 dresses, and all fit so awful you want to cry. Then that 6th dress is a revelation. It's perfect, and you feel like a million dollars wearing it.  Online ordering is easy, but it doesn't give you the chance to try on 6 dresses, one after another. OMG, I think I'm going have to go clothes shopping at an actual store! 

I remember going to a wedding years ago where my sister-in-law's gray haired mother wore a red dress. She look great in it. I took her picture and told her I'd never seen her look more beautiful, and I sincerely meant it. The dress was simple, flattering, and RED. Old ladies should wear red clothes, don't you think? It's a kick-ass, powerful color. 

Here's that picture of her, wasn't she gorgeous? I want a dress just like that.  

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy New Year!

Ah yes, 2023. I'm looking forward to it. I hope you are, too.

Here are some photos I took on Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive the other day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Those darn cookies

Christmas Eve is always my favorite time part of the holiday, and this one was especially festive and fun. We went to our daughter's house for a lovely dinner and good cheer. Hilarity ensued. The grandkids wore matching pajamas. Everyone was happy. I've experienced Christmas Eve 71 times, and on a scale from 1 to 10, I'd give this a 10.

On Christmas Day they came here for a mid-afternoon meal and presents. That was also a good time, despite the fact that most of us were up by 5 a.m. and needed a nap. My only issue is that no one ate even one of my cookies. Not one. So that's it. I'm done making a ridiculous variety of Christmas cookies. Done, I tell you! 

To be fair, my daughter makes cookies, too. I imagine they were sick of sweets by mid-afternoon on Christmas Day. All the more reason to pass the torch to the next generation in future years. There comes a time, and all that.  

Now they are all staring at me, waiting to be eaten.
I feel kind of sorry for them.  

Thursday, December 22, 2022

A beautiful day

I had a beautiful day yesterday. 

It was cold enough that I could stay in bed with a quilt on top of me. That's a lovely way to wake up, and rare in Central Florida. I made the most of it.

A friend gave me an online Jacquie Lawson JL Sussex Advent Calendar 2022.*  Checking on the day's surprises is the very first thing I do each morning. I watch the daily presentation, then find the day's elf (who does his little elf dance when I tag him), and check the special room to see what present there is for me to open. Yesterday it was an online puzzle! Such fun. I'll miss it come Monday!

I picked up the two grandkids at 12:45 pm, and we went to the movies to see Puss in Boots. We bought french fries. I was in heaven sitting there with the two of them. Every once in a while N would lean his head on my shoulder. Like I said, heaven! E is home from college, and it is amazing how calm it makes me knowing she is home.

Later, Tom and I went out to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I had chicken mole, he had a beef burrito. We both had one of their signature margaritas, they are very tasty.  

And today I have leftover chicken mole in the fridge. I might eat it for breakfast. Oh geez, I had to go and google it because I'm an idiot. So many calories! Luckily I have a short memory.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Reflecting on Nancy, 2 years after her death

A million years ago I worked with Nancy. Old enough to be my mother, I was her supervisor. She was the first person I ever supervised. 

A gently bred Virginian, she followed her academic husband up north. She was a pianist, a classical music aficionado, a music teacher. Like many women of her generation, she eschewed career goals to be a stay at home mother. 

When her husband left for another woman, he assumed Nancy wouldn't be able to keep the large family home or care for their 5 children. He offered to take them instead, him and his new wife. Well, that did it! Nancy found a job. She worked to keep her children and the family home. She took in borders to supplement her income. She kept the kids and that big, aging, elegant house. When she related this story to me, years after the fact, her eyes were on fire.

When she died, I sent sympathy cards to each of her children. I didn't hear back from her only son. On the 2nd anniversary of her death, he replied. He'd refused to open the card out of deep grief, waiting until he was emotionally prepared to read it. Two years he waited! 

This is what I sent back to him:

Your mother was a wonder to me. Her passion for music, her children, and THAT HOUSE was remarkable. She was like that at work, too. She didn't just work with someone, she got to know them. She paid attention. She drew conclusions. She cared, often deeply. The faculty, staff, and students loved her.  

She could be stubborn, of course. I'll never forget how I bought her a new computer and she let it sit for a year until I worked up the courage to force her to learn how to use it. Yes, you get that from her.  

She would have understood and been a bit in awe of your decision to postpone reading that sympathy card/note for two years. A love, a loss, a pain so deep - well, she knew all that only too well. I'm actually consulting a thesaurus for the right word to use to describe her passion for the things and people she loved. It's a struggle to come up with the right word. Maybe intensity with a splash of rage? At her best, she was stunning.  

She surrounded her desk with postcards she received
from students and faculty over the years.


Saturday, December 10, 2022

What, this again?

For the past 24 hours the tree has been up and the lights have been strung. I'm almost sure I will summon the energy required to put the ornaments on later today. 

I'm in good shape for Christmas. Most of our shopping is done, cards are out, packages ready to be mailed, outside lights strung, and soon the tree will be decorated. Then maybe I will relax and sleep all night again. It's all so much. Too much, really. 

I'm having a great time exploring recipes for possible Christmas bakes. I almost made my mother's fruit cake, but then I didn't. Too late now. 

We'll certainly make the cut-out cookies, overloaded with colored icings. Making and decorating these have been a part of our Christmas tradition since the dawn of (our) time. The grandkids are looking forward to this venerable cookie event. I am, too. This year we are making them gluten-free. Wish me luck.

Every year I say this is the last year I'm sending cards, but still I send them. It's kind of like when I say today is the day I won't have a second glass of wine. All good intentions until the time comes.


Never perfect, always too sweet, but still my family's favorite

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Talk that talk

Did you know there are 24 regions of American English? Not only do we pronounce things quite differently, but we have different words we use for "things." I came across this great article about it:

I have a Chicago Urban accent, even though I was born about 80 miles east. I say pajamas with the middle part sounding like jam. Does that put you off?

We often don't trust or respect each other if our accents or word choices are different. When I moved to New York State, I had to learn to talk differently. If I didn't, people in NYS would assume my IQ was lower than it actually is. I kid you not! Ask any Southerner, they get judged the hardest. But then again, they judge right back. 

Within each dialect there are upper and lower class differentiations. There are racial and ethnic distinctions as well. Judging each other based on preconceived nonsense is the national pastime. Human beings are a cruel bunch.  

In my heart, my mind, my dreams, I loudly talk Chicago Urban with a whole lotta slang. I'm "in your face" proud of it. I'm never more relaxed than when I'm talking to my people from South Bend.  

If I have written about this before, please don't judge me too harshly.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Fly home, little bird

When I wrote this (before the holiday), my granddaughter E was in the air making her way home for Thanksgiving.  It was the first time she flew alone. She is 18. Her first flight left at 6:00 am. I was up at 5:30 to text and make sure she made that early damn flight, because I'm a worry wart and an anxious freak. She did, no problems. 

It reminds me of my first solo air travel. I was also 18, making my way from Chicago to San Francisco. My friends picked me up in South Bend and drove me to O'Hare airport in Chicago. When I said goodbye to my mother, I clung to her and cried. All it would have taken for me to stay was for her to ask me to. But instead, in her greater wisdom she said "This is what you want, go do it." So I did.  

Me in San Francisco, 1970, turning 19

Friday, November 25, 2022

Murray the Cat: Hide and Seek

Grandson N came over after school today. The first thing we did was play hide and seek out back. I was it. I counted to 20. When I opened my eyes and walked out to look for N and Tom, I saw Murray the Cat sitting at the edge of the large split leaf philodendron, sniffing and crying. I walked over and spied N behind it. I tagged him. Then I said, “Murray, where is Tom?”  

First he jumped up in the air with pure joy. Then he slowly walked to the opposite part of the yard where he stopped in front of a large needle palm, behind which I could see Tom’s back end sticking out. Tagged him, too. Thank you, Murray. Good boy.