coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas letter

I just wrote a variation of this email message to a few old friends. I thought it would do as a Christmas message to the blogosphere. You can see how my mind wanders in my dotage. I imagine that will only get worse, and even more self-indulgent as time goes on.  Sigh.

Dear {Friends},

Are you all making Christmas cookies? I'm having a hard time doing so, although my German and French ancestry will not let me ignore the responsibility. Actually, it turns out (DNA test) I'm as much Scotch Irish and English as I am German, with a smattering of Welsh and Norwegian (for crying out loud). The French is Lorraine, so it's more Frankish than French. 

Anyway, yesterday I made the dough for Linzer cookies. I'm so hoping when the time comes to roll them out and bake them, I can talk Tom into doing it instead. He was the cookie baker at {Bakery} in its glory days. He could make them much better than me, heh heh. Were you guys in {City} in the early 80's?  Tom was there, living in a rural commune, as early as 1969.  My first time there was 1971. We arrived for the long haul in 1975. So long ago.

Today we make cut out cookies and the kids arrive at 1:00 to decorate them. I suppose I will clean the house. I wonder if I actually will? I'm beyond lazy these days.  

According to their local paper, there are currently 2,589 active COVID cases in {County}, NY.  Wow!  

You are all in my thoughts. And if I could figure out who to pray to, you'd be in my prayers as well. But maybe heartfelt thoughts ARE prayers? I don't know that for sure, either.  

This is really such a hard time of the year. I never know whether to laugh or cry.  



P.S.  Here are pictures of some crazy Florida flowers in bloom right now.  Aren't they amazing?

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Color and Light

Well, we put the tree up and I'm glad we did. The lights work the magic. Now I'm in the holiday mood. I guess it has always been that way with winter holidays nearest the solstice. Not to diminish the religious or cultural aspects of many of these holidays. Whatever floats your boat!  We humans seem to need light and hope during this darkest time of the year.  

I love white lights against a dark green tree. Even then color is everywhere. Cards, trees, ornaments, candles, and all sorts of family decorations only taken out and displayed at this time of the year. I take great joy in trees others put up with this peaceful and elegant lighting; however, I'm a sucker for color. A glutton, really. The more colors, the better. I also like shiny, glittery, encrusted ornaments.  

When I look at our tree I want to be jolted, as if I just had a shot of espresso. But that's just me.  

What is just you?  

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

What the heck?

Every year I think "I'm not going to bother putting up a Christmas tree, it's too much work."  Same with Christmas cards.  Every year, the same reluctance.  Every year I cave in and do the work.  

If we didn't have grandchildren who came over on Christmas day for brunch and presents, I think I'd be able to withstand the pressure to decorate.  The grandson has been asking if we put our tree up.  He seems a little anxious, like he can read my mind and he can see my reluctance.  

It isn't that I don't love the holiday or a decorated tree.  I do love every bit of it, except for the hard work of staging the holiday.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

I remember when my hair was brown

I looked in the mirror this morning when I woke up, and suddenly remembered when my hair was brown. It is gray now, of course. I like the gray, the lightness of it, the way it softens my aging face, and especially how little maintenance it requires.  But the brown hair used to deliver a bit of contrast and drama to my looks.  

Those brown haired days are over. I can compensate for the loss of drama, certainly. Being dramatic is my superpower, when I can tamp it down and not scare people away. Contrast, however, is another story.  Lipstick might work, but sheesh. Why would I bother unless I'm going out? My husband might be amused, IF he noticed. Blush? Nah. Too Miss Havisham like.  

Although...  With my gray hair being so long, I could definitely dress up like Miss Havisham next Halloween. I would just have to locate a cheap and shabby wedding dress. Ah, but she's such a downer. Surely there's a better gray haired, drama queen role model?  Know of any?

Martitia Hunt as Miss Havisham

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A quiet time

Tom and I went away for a week. We rented a beach house on Crescent Beach, which is on Anastasia Island just south of St. Augustine. It was cool, overcast, and quiet. Exactly my cup of tea for a fall vacation. Our daughter and grandson came for an overnight, but most of the time we were alone (as per usual). I love this quiet life in retirement.  

Yes, we took Murray the cat on vacation with us

The place we stayed, a funky little bungalow

the walk way from house to beach

The end of the walkway

Crescent Beach

a natural pattern in the sand

St. Augustine

Christmas decorations at a martini bar


Pirate photo opp in St. Augustine

"Built by the Spanish in St. Augustine to defend Florida 
and the Atlantic trade route, Castillo de San Marcos 
National Monument preserves the oldest masonry 
fortification in the continental United States"

Old Town, St. Augustine



Crescent Beach

my footprint

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Sunday musings from one who is limited in her understanding

Below is a rendition of my favorite sacred music. As a young girl going to mass in pre-Vatican II South Bend, Indiana, when the choir in the loft behind the congregation sang this, I was sure it was the angels sharing the essence of God with us. The fact that it was in Latin made it even more numinous. I'm agnostic now, but if there is a God, I'm convinced S/He is always present when we experience the beautiful. And artists, musicians, actors, writers, and singers are Her/His angels.

"Numinous is a term derived from the Latin numen, meaning "arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring." The term was given its present sense by the German theologian and philosopher Rudolf Otto in his influential 1917 German book The Idea of the Holy. Wikipedia"
Agnostic: "a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God."

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Random Photos


A peony a number of years ago in my
New York State garden

My grandson's 2021 Christmas list

I made Kouign Amann, y'all!

Rocks in a stream, Finger Lakes
Region of NYS
A fortune telling machine
in St. Augustine

Dead banana leaves

The only good thing about daylight savings time

Bird of Paradise plant Florida

Friday, November 5, 2021

Weather Geek

I woke up this morning to 66 degree (Fahrenheit) weather, dark and gloomy overcast skies, and rain. It's going to rain all day. I love moody, cool, stay-at-home weather. I'm so happy. 

I lived south of Seattle for a few years in the early 1960's.  I was enchanted by the misty rain and dark skies. From 9 - 12 years old I jumped at the chance to grab an umbrella and go for a a walk in the rain. Especially through the street light illuminated neighborhood at night. Magical! Seattle only averages 152 sunny days each year.

The Orlando area gets 233 sunny days per year.  During the other months it is sunny in the morning, and then rains in the afternoon. But during the summer it is too hot and humid to enjoy the rain.

I like living in Florida, but I still get happy when it is a relatively cool, rainy day during the dry season. A whole day, not just an afternoon. Our dry season lasts from mid-October through May.  

As long as I'm geeking out, I thought I'd share these with you.  They are from

Sunday, October 31, 2021


I'm trying to remember what Halloween seemed like as a child. I am having trouble rousing any vivid memories. I do know that in the mid to late 1950s, I was usually a gypsy, a pirate, or a tramp. I have a vague memory of people in the neighborhood opening their doors to me, and I know I said "Trick or Treat!" as loudly as I could. I also know I'd empty my bag on the floor and organize my candy by type when I came home. My grandkids still do the same.  

Are there any memories or favorite costumes you want to share?

Here are some random photos from Halloweens gone by:

Meatloaf feet made by Sharon M

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Family really is everything

In my last post I told you how I hate to travel. Today I will confess that I love to be other places once I get there. 

While up north last week, our extended family surprised us with a 50th anniversary party. We have never been honored like that before, nor have we ever been surprised. Tom and I felt loved by and grateful for our large, crazy family. As my sister-in-law, Vacation Sue, says: #familyiseverything.  

Not everyone was there, of course. My family lives from sea to shining sea, north to south. So far, my parents have 36 direct descendants: 7 children, 16 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. My parents and two of my brothers have died, and I won't include divorced former in-laws, but adding in spouses and significant others, there are currently 51 family members. I say currently, because at least one more great-grandchild is due to arrive next year.  

There were 24 family members at my brother's house that beautiful night. Plus 5 special friends, two of whom were friends of ours from high school days. For two retirees who spend most of their time alone with each other and a large, ginger cat, it was super darn fun. Glorious, really.

And now I promise I won't write about our 50th anniversary again.  I've managed to squeeze 3 posts out this past year. I'm really pushin' it.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Travel, how I hate it.

Tomorrow we fly north to see our extended family. I have a million things to do. 

Tom threw his back out overnight!  He's getting cold, heat, ibuprofen, rest - whatever it takes to get him back in fighting form. I haven't been "home" in 3 years. There are 4 toddlers I have never met, and a grand niece and nephew I've only seen once. I miss my family like crazy. 

I went online to check us in (24 hours in advance) and also changed our baggage choices from carry-on to checked so he doesn't feel compelled to lift heavy bags up high when we board the plane.  

I accidentally knocked a full glass of water off the kitchen counter.  It shattered all over the floor.   

I did laundry, and packed our bags on and off all day. It's so hard to make decisions. I'm making lists so I don't forget anything.  

I drove to the bank to get cash. There was only one bank clerk. The man in front of me was trying to do something shady. The bank clerk wouldn't let him. He was argumentative. It took forever.  Grrrr!

I went to the store to buy magazines and snacks. Then I stopped at a gas station to fill up the car's tank. The outside card reader wouldn't take my credit card. I had to go inside to pay (horrors). My card worked fine inside.  

But while I was driving home a red light on the dashboard started flashing at me. Apparently there's something wrong with the brakes. I guess we'll take Tom's car instead of mine.  I wonder if his car has a reasonably full gas tank?

When I got home I accidentally knocked another glass full of water off the exact same place on the kitchen counter. It shattered, too.  

As I was writing this, I got a call from my doctor's office telling me my lab results. Apparently I'm pre-diabetic, for crying out loud.  

I did a little housecleaning. The house is still a mess. Who cares?

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Playing the roles

People become defined by the roles they play. When I retired and moved away, I was stunned by the difference in how I was perceived. When I worked outside the home, I was someone who was noticed by others. People knew what I was capable of. I was liked, admired, feared by some, disliked and disapproved of by others. It was fun for many years. Then it wasn't. I wanted a change.  I retired.

When I moved, I had no personal accomplishments to define me. I knew no one, except the people who called me wife, mother, and grandmother. I was still thinking in terms of roles, and those seemed like the only ones I had. 

It took me a couple years to get my bearings.   

Now I realize retirement is a transformation. Instead of looking outward for approval, I have learned to define myself. Big change.

I'm actually a lot more like I was at 18. Carefree, creatively involved, interested, and curious. I do what I want. I think what I will. It has been a relief to step back and let the world carry on without me. 

Change is freakin' hard.  But it is the nature of life, so there you go.

"JOSEPH CAMPBELL: If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are -- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time."

Change #3,427, Now I take pictures of alligators. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Our cat is a goofball

That new cat we have, Murray, is a total goofball. Perhaps even a knucklehead. We are really enjoying him. Except in the middle of the night when he sneaks up the middle of the bed to sleep right next to our faces, and then scratches my toes and feet in revenge for moving him down to the foot of the bed. Actually, I think he assumes I'm playing with him when I move my feet.  

Can cats be trained?

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Dream a little dream of me

I am in awe of the unconscious mind. I'm specifically thinking about dreams right now, but I could also be referring to unresolved emotional themes that drive me inelegantly through life. And, of course, there are the triggers that upset me, or those lovely gut feelings one gets when something feels right, or wrong.  

I am inclined to daydreams and wonder. I've often thought the creative imagination connects us to the divine. Whatever that is. 

Consequently, I admire the endless stream of dreams my unconscious mind (UM) provides each night. What a gifted storyteller it is, and it never runs out of ideas or new material.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

SpaceX launch

 I was lucky enough to get a (grainy) shot of the SpaceX launch last week.  It was uncanny.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

2 years

Two years ago today I had surgery to repair my busted knee cap. Time really does fly. We celebrated by going on an 8 mile bike ride.  

I would guess I'm about 96% back to normal. This is likely the best I can hope for, and I am NOT complaining.  I'll never run up and down stairs again, but would I want to?  

I am still awed and humbled by the human body's desire to heal, as best as it can.  As best it can.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Just sayin'

In 1968, one of my teenage friends had an abortion with a back alley abortionist. It was on the hush hush, as these things were done back then. My friend went to the non-medical abortion provider's house after dark, had a procedure, and was given a special tea to drink until the fetus passed. The passing actually happened the next day in our high school's girl's bathroom.

The woman who conducted the abortion was not a doctor, nor was she educated or a woman of means. However, in those mean, dark days this is how she made her living. My friend was lucky, the abortion provider actually did a good job.

Mark my words: We’ll see more non-medical women providing this service for other women as legal abortions are harder to find. This is the reality of overturning Roe vs Wade. Women won't stop having abortions, they will simply stop going to doctors for them.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

We have a cat!

For most of our marriage we have co-existed with at least one cat. Our last one, Buddy, died 5 years ago. We decided then to forego getting another animal. As much as we love cats, we were happy with that decision.  

Our daughter and her family have 4 cats (!). One, Murray, is the alpha male. He doesn't tolerate other cats well. It created a stressful environment for all. Murray needs to be an only cat. He would prefer being pampered, spoiled, and admired above all others. Me, too.

Somewhat reluctantly, we agreed to take him in. It was definitely a rescue, but not of Murray. Our taking him rescued the 3 other cats. We just got him last night. He is still scared and traumatized by the change. He's in hiding.

My husband is the Pied Piper of cats. They all love him, and he loves them. I trust his judgment and approach to winning Murray over, which is to give the cat time and space. There is also some baby talk, treats, and petting. It's a start. 

When we went to bed last night Murray was underneath. I was totally cognizant there were now three "people" in the house. It was a good feeling.  

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Mid-August Florida Photos

 We went to the Oakland Nature Preserve for a lovely walk in the woods the other day.  Here are some of the things we saw.

fruit of a cypress tree

new growth

clouds reflected in water that was disturbed

interesting tree limb with Spanish moss

water accumulating on a taro leaf (not native to 
Florida, invasive)

butterfly on scarlet hibiscus


peruvian primrosewillow -  not native (invasive)

not a good photo of a vulture,
but the best I could do considering
it was a sunny day and I had to 
use my largest zoom lens AND 
crop the result.  I need a super duper
lens like so many other old people 
use for taking pictures of birds