coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Friday, December 27, 2019

When (xxxxx) ruins Christmas

Growing up, I had many wonderful Christmases. Unfortunately, the one I remember the most is when my father ruined Christmas by getting drunk and mean. All the glorious anticipation, preparation, money spent, cooking and baking was for naught that year. Daddy ruined Christmas. 

It was a horrible holiday, absolutely traumatic. I was in 5th grade. I have long since forgiven him, but unfortunately it isn't the sort of thing one forgets. Human beings being what they are, trauma sticks. 

So, if you ruined your children or grandchildren's Christmas this year, please get help. You can't change what happened, or wipe it from their memories.  However, you still have time to redeem yourself by getting help with whatever your problem is. Make it your problem to resolve, not their problem to endure.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Christmas Eve Memories

Christmas Eve was the high point in my youth. My large family exchanged presents from siblings on the night before Christmas. We would have a casual but special meal and all the cookies would come out of hiding. We walked in the dark to our parish church for midnight mass. There would be flowers, incense, and angels singing Latin from the choir. Christmas Eve was a celebration of the senses. 

My paternal grandmother came to our house early in the evening with her profound love, mystical kindness, homemade divinity candy, and peanut butter fudge (for crying out loud!). It was exciting to have her in our house. I can still hear her sweet, Tennessee drawl. I continue to feel her steadfast love. I'm not sure a better person ever walked this earth.

Grandpa wouldn't always come with her. Sadly, as he got older he became a cranky old misery guts. Oh well. Somebody's gotta play Scrooge.

She had just walked in.  I didn't even let her take off her coat before I took her picture.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Our first great grandchild

Our new (and first!) great-grandbaby was born a few days ago. All went well, and she is home now. She lives far from us, in the frozen northlands. However, her mother and grandmother keep us posted with photos and videos. I don't think she could be more beautiful, by the way. We fell in love with her long before she was born.

I'm happy to live in the modern world, where photos and videos are quick and easy to share. This beautiful child is in my husband's genealogical line, so I've been busy the last few days going through old photos of his family as far back as I can find. Most roads lead back to Ireland, the UK, and Germany in my husband's family.

I have to wonder about the ancestors who endured their children moving to the U.S. How hard it must have been to wonder and wait long months for a letter informing one that new grandchildren and great grandchildren arrived. 

Here is an article about her 5th great grandmother,     Teresa (Solomon) Enders.  She was born in Deggendorf, Germany in 1825. Although she died in 1910, this article using her photo was published in 1927. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

That lovely boy!

Grandson N (7) is crazy about Monopoly, so we play it often. He wheels and deals with abandon. I fear he’s a natural capitalist, although he is somewhat of a bleeding heart liberal when it comes to his old Grandma. He insists on being the banker, and he WILL slip me money when I start to run out. On the down low, of course. I try VERY hard not to accept his largesse. 

When he and I play alone together, we go by N's rules. He brilliantly proposed that we each start out with a monopoly over one neighborhood on the board so we can immediately start buying houses. It speeds the game up considerably.

We can’t let Grandpa know, because he would disapprove of altering the rules. N refers to Grandpa as “Mr. Play-By-The-Rules Pants.”  N and Grandma disdain “the rules.”

We play on a 40 year-old board.  The same one we played on with his mother.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Walking towards the future

I went to the surgeon the other day.  He told me I could stop using the leg brace.  I'm hobbling around a bit, because so many of those muscles haven't been used in months, and my knee is still a bit wonky.  I'm walking unassisted, though!

We had a good Thanksgiving. Here's a picture of flowers I picked from various places in our yard for the centerpiece.  Life is beautiful right now.  

Yes, I realize the linen tablecloth is wrinkled, but we're all just going to have to get over that.

Roses, dwarf poinciana, a type of impatiens

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

I'm trying to get excited about Thanksgiving. It's a lovely holiday and deserves some of my time and attention. Other people's Thanksgiving posts have helped - many thanks for that. 

I need to break out of this bland and soothing convalescence and start feeling excitement and joy again. What is really motivating me is the realization that Thanksgiving memories at Grandma and Grandpa's for our two youngest grandchildren are up to us, since it is usually at our house. So, I will garner the courage to limp into the garage and unpack the good dishes. Why not?

While I'm at it, maybe I'll make the Christmas fruitcake this weekend.   

I'm thankful for the joy this holiday forces me to remember.  It feels good.

Our youngest grandson's "grateful plate" he made at school last year

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Thirty percent and counting

I went to the surgeon yesterday for another post-op checkup, and all is going well. He adjusted my brace so I can practice bending my leg by 30%. I can sleep with out the brace, and I can take it off when I’m on the couch, but I still have to wear it when I walk. He wants me to start walking without the walker!!!  Yahoo.

He’s given me new exercises to do, and wants me back in 2 weeks so he can adjust the brace to 60% mobility (or possibly 90% depending on how I do in the meantime.) He expects a full recovery within 6 to 8 months.

I’m so freakin' happy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Encased but still energized.

It might be a mistake to binge watch The Great British Baking Show during this period of enforced torpidity. It is the only thing I want to watch, and I'm very near the end. It makes me want to eat cake. I'm also dreaming of meat, potato, onions and root veg encased in a hot water, hand raised pastry crust. What an inspired carbohydrate jackpot.

The good news is my husband took me for a walk at a nearby nature preserve yesterday. It's a lovely forest walk on an elevated boardwalk. The preserve borders a large lake, so the walkway keeps one safe from alligators and snakes while still allowing one to experience a bit of the real Florida. The sky was overcast, a rare treat in the Sunshine State. Being there made me insanely happy to be out in the world.

My right foot

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Bedpan Politics

Lest you mistake me for a good person, let me confess a sin.

I did something that might be a wrong, or at least not politically right-on. It has to do with hospital bed pan politics. I found the bedpan experience humiliating while I was in the hospital. The nurse who helped me the first time was wonderful, and she joked me through it.

The second time I had to "go" she was off duty and a young male nurse came to help me. I kindly told him I wanted a female nurse to help me with the bedpan. He seemed fine with that, but the female nurse who came in gently scolded me, saying that the male nurse was fully trained and could do these things. I imagine she didn't appreciate the extra work, and I can understand that. However, I tend to think anything that involves another person's involvement with my body is about me, first and foremost.  

Of course he could do that task. He was extremely competent, and very kind. But his technical ability was not the issue, was it? I'm an older woman who has been pricked, prodded, and poked by strange medical men my entire life. I draw the line at going to the bathroom.

Later I apologized to him, and attempted to let him know it wasn't a judgment about his abilities, it was about my still having a choice in a very intimate and private experience. I don't think he was buying it. He was thinking about himself.  I was thinking about myself. Oh well, as long as I am able to speak up for myself, I win.

I'm quite sure I would do the same thing again. I wish I was more open and accepting of these things, but I am not. And for crying out loud, this was about me exerting some semblance of control over my broken body.

If you think I was wrong in doing this, I hope you will feel comfortable telling me in the comments. I don't mind being wrong, and I can take a punch. More than anything, I want to know right from wrong.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

How am I doing?

How am I doing?  ("How am I doing?" I quietly mutter and muse to myself.) I am damaged goods, but wasn't I always? The difference is now people can see my brokenness at a glance.

In addition to the patella break, I damaged muscles. They restrung bits in that area to accomplish the repairs. It's complicated; however, not impossible.

I fell September 7th. For repairs to heal properly I won't start physical therapy until early November. I wear a brace and have been admonished not to bend my knee because the 
healing muscles are the ones that allow me to walk. 

PT will last 6 weeks. The first two they'll try to bend my knee 30%. The second two weeks will hopefully bring it to 60%. The last two shoot for 90%. Then I go back to my surgeon's 
office where they will do x-rays and "see" if all is well.

I also tore upper arm muscles when my right arm took one for the team to heroically break the fall. I ache on occasion.

Emotionally, I'm adapting and enduring. It's only been 4 weeks. It appears I still have 10 weeks of cruel convalescence to contend with. We'll see if the good Colette can keep the bad Colette in check for that long. I'm giving it the old college "try." No promises.

In summary, I have three modes during this recuperation. 

  • I lay on the couch with my right leg extended.  (lay, lie? Come on Robbie, help me out here).  
  • I hobble hither and thither with my walker.
  • I sit up in my rented wheelchair with the leg extender

My grandson and husband decorated my walker for me.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Knee jerk reactions, part 3: Get out

I was admitted to hospital mid-afternoon on Saturday, Sept 7.  My surgery was 7:30 am Sunday morning. I was released from the hospital, still vomiting from the morphine, at 5:30 pm. It seemed a bit soon.

One of the surgical doctors stopped by the night before surgery to ask if I wanted to be revived if I died on the table. That was interesting. I told him if, for some reason, I was brain dead or if my brain was functional but my body would never move again then please, kill me dead. However, I stressed if the worst was I might never walk again, I wanted to live. I would have loved to talk to him more about life and death, but he wanted to skedaddle, so I waved goodbye as he made his escape.

I understand why some have clergy stop by to talk with them when they are critically ill. Who else would want to listen to one's fears of death? When my time comes, I want to put in an order for a Jesuit. I might be wrong, but I imagine they might be reasonably smart, spooky deep, and would thoughtfully answer my wacked-out questions? But could I trust their answers? There's the rub.

My nurses were outstanding. I was there through the change of a few teams, and each managed me beautifully. Because of them I didn't suffer. They brought me humor and hope, they kept me clean, and they encouraged me to eat full fat foods like biscuits with gravy and macaroni and cheese. Angels they were, and angels they remain.
This sort of reminds me of a leg

Friday, September 27, 2019

Knee jerk reactions: part 2 Get down!

Alone in the ER cubicle with my fractured knee sticking up in the air, I settled in to that "place where there's no space or time." I detached as one might reasonably do to avoid traumatic pain. And by "settling in," I mean settling in for the long haul, the inevitable. There was no quick fix for this.

As reality would have it, a couple of doctors came in and introduced themselves as part of my surgical team. They were there to bring my knee back down.  Shudder.

A doctor is going to want to bring a knee down fast. They know the pain will be excruciating, but they want to minimize the time. Understandable. They began, and I have to tell you it was the worst pain I ever felt. Halfway down, I made them stop.

I looked at one of the doctors and said, "I'm so sorry, but I just don't think I can do this." Hahaha. I really meant it, too.

She wandered off to get even stronger drugs. The other doctor and Tom were on either side of me. I thought, "Forget this, I'm doing it myself." And I did. I didn't ask permission, and I didn't listen to what anyone around me was saying. I used my good foot to push the foot on my bad leg forward slowly, slowly. I followed the path of no pain. If it hurt, I'd push it in a slightly different direction. After a minute or two my whole leg collapsed into a normal extension. I'm not saying there was no pain, but it was minimal compared to what I experienced when they were trying to shove it down in place.

The doctor was amazed. He said "I've never seen anything like this." I was SO overly proud of myself that I pretended I didn't know what he was talking about. Oh, the games I play. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Knee jerk reactions, part 1: How


I have always been good in a crisis. I fall apart weeks later.

As is typical for me, I was doing 3 things at once. Family was coming for dinner, and I was picking up clutter, making gazpacho, and doing laundry. I multitask to keep from getting bored, but (numbnut that I am) I fully understand it kept me from focusing and caused this accident. By all that is holy, I'm gonna change!  

Our washer and dryer are in the garage sitting on a concrete step. Built in the mid-1990's it is not wide enough to comfortably hold the newfangled humongo appliances AND a human being without paying close attention to where you are. I was not. I slipped and began my descent. As I fell, I concentrated on shielding my upper body. I did not anticipate my right knee might hit the concrete step where the riser meets the tread.

I heard the crunch and knew I'd broken my patella. I later learned it was broken into three pieces, plus change. However, I felt nothing at first. It was surreal. I was able to roll over onto my back (probably not a good idea). I instinctively raised my knee, searching for a comfortable position (also probably not a good idea) as the pain escalated. I found my pain-free position before the worst of the pain kicked in, absolutely not considering the maxim that what goes up must come down. I wasn't thinking.

I screamed for my husband, T. I didn't scream for the pain, by the way. I screamed for the horror.  And, of course, because T is hard of hearing.

I could see he was shaken as he looked at the grotesque condition of my knee. My man was so freakin' sweet to me as he called the ambulance and packed my overnight bag. Let me just say to the entire world: I love that man.

Almost immediately, 4 kind EMT's shot me up with potent painkillers and lifted me onto the stretcher. I was deliriously happy to see one was a woman, so I took the time to congratulate her on being in a non-traditional job. I should have asked if they were registered to vote. Unfortunately, I forgot.

 we flew to the Orlando Hospital trauma unit, sirens flashing. I have to admit, that was fun. 

I couldn't sit up to see so I begged an EMT to take pictures for future reference. I'm a total fiend. Unfortunately, my phone was in my overnight bag in T's car. He was following the ambulance.  Bummer.

At that point there was no possibly of straightening my leg, or moving at all without inflicting excruciating pain. Thankfully, the EMT's thought they'd let the doctors deal with that. I was transported to and into the ER with what looked like a leg with three knees sticking straight up in the air. People stared.

The head EMT got into a snippy argument with an aide about how to move me from the ambulance gurney onto the hospital stretcher. He wasn't taking any shit, and insisted it be done his way. I trusted him with my life but I felt sorry for the aide. Geez, I love hospital dynamics, it's always like watching a movie.

To be continued.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Starting to feel better

I am beginning to feel better.

I'm still in a full leg brace. But thank the universe for inventing the walker, because without it the last 12 days would have been an absolute nightmare that might have pushed me right over the edge. At night I struggle with panic attacks, but I have my breathing exercises and they help. Today my husband is picking up a simple manual wheelchair with a right leg extender on it. I am hoping to sit up more.  

Still not able to be up for long periods of time. I can't type on my computer for more than a few minutes because I'm all twisted with my extended right leg shoots off in the opposite direction of my torso as I struggle to type. Using my laptop on my full-on couch encampment nest is even worse for some reason. But all this will change. All of this changes almost daily. Every day, I discover a  bit more I can do. The gift of healing is astounding.

I have lots of observations both cynical and ecstatic. I have much to say. I hope I can begin writing up a storm soon. In the meantime, here's a picture of my much beloved walker. Isn't she beautiful? My grandson promised he would come and decorate the basket with ribbons and construction paper strips. That will make me so happy. 
Joanne, I have thought a lot about how awful your bus accident convalescence must have been.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

really outta commission

Sorry folks. I fell and broke my knee. Has surgery to repair. I won’t be able to review and publish your comments for a few days. Will tell you all about it soon. All will be fine. Feeling better every day. Cheers!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Is all this crap the Wheel of Life?

I get tired of problems, 
and people. 
I really do. 
I plod on 
hoping for the best. 

Always hoping 
love will be enough. 

Do you think it is?  The world has gone crazy.

These are my jagged thoughts 
with the sharp points protruding.

When I can remember to open my eyes to see, I see beauty

Friday, August 23, 2019

Will you forget the pain?

When I was in hospital giving birth to our daughter 47 years ago, we agreed to allow student nurses to observe my labor. Actually, I didn't agree. They never asked the writhing mass of agonizing humanity in the bed. Instead, they asked my 20 year old husband, who said "Sure."

The student nurses engaged with me before and after contractions, asking questions. I remember announcing (loudly) I was never having another child because it hurt like Hell. They giggled and knowingly assured me I would both forget the pain and have more children. Well, that pissed me off.

Seriously, they said that to a woman in hard labor. No sympathy, no drugs, just happy-crap jargon. As if that information would make everything okay. The present doesn't exist, only the future? Nah, if anyone knows  reality it is a woman in the throes of hard labor.

Right then and there I made up my mind NEVER, EVER to forget, and not to have more children. True story. I am my own worst enemy.

The first night home with the baby I slept as badly as she did. I kept dreaming famous patriarchal icons got me pregnant and I was going to be forced to deliver their baby against my will. One famous icon was John Wayne. The other was Pope John XXIII. Thankfully, I didn't dream about the sex.

My niece had a baby yesterday. Another niece had a baby last week. One of my granddaughters is due in a couple months. It's all so glorious and exciting I can hardly breathe.

When women I love are in labor I can recall my own labor and delivery crystal clear.  Except for the pain. I know it hurt, but I don't remember hurting. 

I kind of wish I had done it again.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Turning the Tables

Recently, two Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door. They gave me literature hoping they might save my soul.

Grrrr, invasive strangers knocking on doors to proselytize or sell something is one of my pet peeves. They usually catch me off guard, and I get "cranky." Afterwards I feel bad. This time I saw them coming. I was prepared. 

I gave them my shiniest whole-face Grandma smile. I listened politely and took their literature. As they turned to leave I asked if they were registered to vote. FYI: JV's are not allowed to vote. They looked at each other with some discomfort and silently kept moving. I yelled after them,"Ya know, sometimes God could use some help!"

Later that same day, a young salesman knocked. I saw him coming, too. I almost knocked my husband down trying to get to the door first. I have no shame.

Again, I listened politely. After I told him I wasn't interested, I asked him if he was registered to vote. He looked down, shamefaced, and said "No." I replied "You really need to vote, bad things are happening right now." He agreed and started to back away. I then said "Your generation needs to step up and help save the world."  He assured me he would, but didn't look me in the eye.

I'm making flyers with voter registration information. I'll give them to the invasive strangers who come, unwanted and uninvited, to my door. I'll refuse to take their literature unless they take mine.
It's not like they can slam the door in my face or say something rude.

Feel free to join me in this reverse political canvassing. You'll be surprised what you can get away with saying if you say it with a big smile on your face, and gray hair.

Turnabout IS fair play. Especially if you're saving souls.

The incomparable Maggie Kuhn!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Unconsciously in Control

Sometimes I simply shut down. This happens when I'm overwhelmed but I don't realize I need a break. Then my unconscious mind steps in and takes charge. My UC mind is my BFF.  She loves me.

I rarely relaxed during my working years. There was so much to do, and it all seemed earthshakingly important. Then UC mind would swoop in like the super hero she is. I would find myself forgetting appointments and meetings. It was wicked, sinful, glorious. Letting your unconscious "have at it" is a bit like having a personal assistant.

Over time I had more demanding jobs, with increasingly difficult people to accommodate. I became a supervisor and you know how that goes (hint: STRESS and confrontation). I was a manager of large academic and research departments. These jobs were ridiculous. Ick. 

I have said this before, but I'll say it again because it is key to who I am in my dotage: For most of my life I had minimal control over what problem happened next, and maximum responsibility for resolving it.

In retirement I've stopped answering my phone. What a joy it is to let that sucker ring! I procrastinate with gusto. I'm good at this retirement thing.

When it is not hotter than Hell, I might power garden for hours at a time. Gardening is hard work, but it is also like meditation. Get your hands in the dirt and the cares of the world fall away. 

Sometimes that's what I consciously want, for all the cares of the world to fall away.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Lego of your expectations

Our youngest granddaughter, E, is a talented actor. She is in many productions, and always steals every scene she's in. One of our biggest retirement joys is living close to her and enjoying her plays and musicals.

The youngest grandson, N, has been in a theater summer camp all week. His end-of-the camp production is this afternoon. We will, of course, be going.

Apparently he has noticed people give E flowers after they attend her shows, and that has made a big impression on him. Let me say there are certain expectations of fairness.

I picked him up from camp yesterday and brought him here to swim. On the ride home he asked if Grandpa and I were coming to his performance, and I replied yes. He then informed me that instead of flowers, perhaps I could get him a Lego kit to give him afterwards. 

I think you already know I am a huge sucker for this kid.  I am pretending to myself that if I get him an inexpensive Lego kit, I am rewarding creative thinking. I haven't quite fooled myself.  Still, I'm on my way to the store right now.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Outta commission

I have been out of commission for a couple of weeks, but not because I am ill or anything. I've just been busy with this and that, including a gloriously epic visit from T's daughter R (aka my fairy stepdaughter) and her son, A, (aka our oldest grandson). I have not been keeping up with blog world. I'm trying to catch up with your blogs today. 

Will be back in the saddle soon.  


Here's a picture of a bale of turtles, for no apparent reason. Did anyone else know that a group of turtles was called a "bale?" I just googled and found this out. This concludes the educational part of my day. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Crinum Lilly

The back of our yard is dominated by two cabbage palm trees. Because of the path of the sun, they provide some shade for the garden underneath and between the two trees. Right now there is an overgrown and obnoxious schefflera plant in the middle front, with azaleas on either side. Those three plants are the central focus of our view from the lanai.

Five years ago only the palms and the overgrown and obnoxious schefflera filled that space. We've been trying to fill it with bromeliad, white bird of paradise, dwarf poinciana, croton, and cordyline. None of these new plantings are mature yet, but they will be eventually and it will be beautiful.

I don't love that overgrown and obnoxious schefflera. A giant crinum lily is what we need there. The schefflera can be dug up, divided, and planted elsewhere or shared with others. I just have to find the perfect giant crinum. 

The only problem is they attract lubber grasshoppers, which means we have to gear ourselves up for the killing season in early spring. Aaack. Everything is a battle.

Some random pictures of various types of crinum. There are a lot of varieties. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

For Crying Out Loud

There are vanity apps on phones that do age progression on your photograph to show how you'd look in old age. I know these are fun. I get it. However, when you start posting the photos on social media so that your friends can laugh and be disgusted by the older "you," then I think you've crossed a line.

I have thought about this hard and long. What I have to say is this: The app picture of people looking older are not ugly to me. If I had friends who looked like the older photos, I would see them as beautiful.  I love the faces of my older friends, don't you?

Growing older and aging is not a bad thing. However, it is hard to adjust to growing older when we live in an insensitive youth culture that despises older women for aging. I wish young people could know how wrong it is to be judged harshly for becoming something more than sexual objects for men's fantasies. And that's the key, we are becoming something MORE, not something less. 

As a woman with wrinkles, gray hair, and age weight, the laughter and disgust over the age progressed pics diminishes me as a person. I feel invisible. I feel like I am disgusting and should never leave the house. I feel like I am the end result of everyone's fears about growing older. I begin to wonder why my ugly, useless self is still alive. What purpose do I serve when I am so reviled? Seriously, this is how ageism makes me feel.

Let's care less about how we look, and care more about what we do. Vanity is not a virtue. Women don't have to be young and beautiful to have value. The world will be a better place when we stop playing games.

self portraits over time:

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.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

7 Hours

We took care of our 7-year old grandson, N, for 7 hours the other day. Here's what we did:
  • Made weapons out of Tinker Toys.
  • Grandma and N made corn muffins.
  • Had epic fight with Tinker Toy swords. N won.
  • Grandpa and N found an undiscovered Easter egg in the yard. It had 4 dimes in it - yay!
  • We all went for a swim.
  • Grandma and N tried to push Grandpa off his floatie.
  • Played Marco Polo in water.
  • Played keep-away in the water.
  • N picked vegetables.
  • N took a bath. Grandma and N squabbled over how high the bath water should be. Grandma won.
  • Grandma and N watched an episode of Sponge Bob.  Grandpa disappeared.
  • N played with small cars while watching Sponge Bob. Grandma disappeared.
  • N realized G&G weren't in room and bellowed for us to come back. We complied.
  • Tried to find a board game to play. Couldn't agree.
  • Blew up balloons and instead of tying them off, let them go all over the house.
  • Grandpa wouldn't play hide and seek. N called him a "party ruiner." Grandpa was not ashamed.
  • N played computer games, Grandma snuck out of computer room. N didn't notice.
  • Break time for G&G while N played with small cars.
  • Drove downtown to eat.
  • Grandma and N raced from the parking lot to the restaurant trying to beat Grandpa there. N won,
  • Drew silly and unflattering pictures of each other.
  • Worked on activity workbook and ate.
  • Walked to the pavilion and waited until someone occupying one of the 4 swings left.
  • N threw pennies in fountain.
  • Two people left and we got their swing!
  • N pushed G&G frightfully high on the swing.
  • N joined us on the swing, complaining we didn't swing high enough.
  • Took turns jumping off the swing. Ouch. (Note to self, getting too old to jump off swings.)
  • Grandma and N raced to the car, got in, slumped down and "surprised" Grandpa when he arrived.
  • Went for ice cream.  
  • Took N to his house and waited for his parents.
  • N played Minion's Rush on Grandma's iphone.
  • N and Grandma played with magnetic tiles. 
  • N said "Isn't this great?"  I asked "What?" He replied,"You, me, Grandpa, here. This."
  • N's parents came home and G&G skedaddled. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Retirees dream of past workplaces

I had an unsettling dream last night. In it I was recalled from the comfortable peace of retirement to return to my old job to stage an important event for the department. I did a bad job of it. Yes, it was a nightmare.

The Associate Dean of Administration, my former mentor, showed up for this dream event. She angrily asked why I hadn't arranged for a specific faculty member to be there to hand out awards to graduate students. I replied, "I don't care." Sheesh. I was always defiant, but this reply takes the cake. Later in the dream I remembered that the particular professor she asked about died last weekend (in real life), but it was too late to undo the damage my flippant statement made. The AD of A was red-faced furious and ever so done with me. That still hurts.

My "dream" staff (consisting of co-workers from a couple of different actual real jobs) were disgusted with me.  I tried to apologize to them, and closed my eyes for a few moments as I spoke deep from my heart about all my faults. When I was done, I realized the staff members left. They never heard my apologies because they didn't care what I had to say.

My dear friend, the Director of Human Resources (D of HR) for the college, tried to intervene and save me. Bless her sweet heart, I do so love that woman. She lined up an interview with another department. I tried to tell her I was retired, and had earned the maximum work income Social Security would allow this year, but she insisted I must redeem myself. I was freaked out about losing Social Security income for the rest of this year AND had interview anxiety.  Aaack.

I forgot the exact time she had scheduled the interview for. My cell phone was dead. I had to call the D of HR on a public phone. Yes, there was still a public phone box in my dream reality, and it was free! I didn't have to dial. I simply screamed into the phone and she answered. It was also more of a perforated disk than any public phone I've ever seen, but I digress. She said the interview was in a half hour and I needed to get there right away. She would meet me and go through the interview with me (unheard of in reality, but much appreciated in dream-time). 

Unfortunately there was a flood I had to wade through on my way to the building. It slowed me down. I was afraid I wouldn't make it in time. When I finally arrived at the building I couldn't find the room. The D of HR found me wandering the halls and helped me find the room. 

Then I woke up.

I am thankful I didn't have to go through that interview.  I would have screwed that up, too.

This is an actual gargoyle from outside one of the buildings I used to work in