coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Play Date

My daughter delivered four wild 9-year old boys with McDonalds Happy Meals at 1:30 p.m the other day. 

We had two craft options. After loudly discussing the merits of each, they voted. They chose the hardest. With dread, Tom and I read the instructions. By then, the boys were in their swimming trunks and out the back door to the pool. 

They swam, cannonballed, thrashed, splashed, and pushed each other into the pool for nearly 2 hours. Elaborate water tag rules were invented, bellowed, and disregarded. Tom, wise and silent like all good lifeguards, sat sentinel.  

I tried to mind my own business, but had to announce our no hitting rule when Connor hit Blake over the head with a pool noodle. And when I heard Micah scream, I reminded Niko that the rubber Disney swords hurt when you slapped them onto someone's arm.  

After swimming, they frosted and decorated cupcakes. I taught them the M&M technique: frost a cupcake and then immediately plunge the top into a bowl of mini M&M's. The result being an encrusted delight. They consumed ungodly amounts of sugar. What did I care?  

They played hide and go seek out back, through the house, and out the front door. Eventually, they decided they were hungry again. This time they wanted hot dogs and french fries, which I dutifully made. They played video games, and only ate the french fries.

I was at the computer when all four marched in. Niko said "Grandma, can we jump on your bed?" I said, "No." Niko said, "Please?" I said, "No." Niko said, "Please, please, PLEASE?" I said "No." 

"Awwww" he replied unhappily as they marched back out.  


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Anniversary themes

As you probably know, each anniversary has a traditional theme. I couldn't remember what 50 was, so I looked up a Hallmark web site. This anniversary (coming right up) is our "golden" anniversary. But get this:  Hallmark says the anniversary theme for 53 years is PLASTIC.  So in 3 years we can celebrate our plastic anniversary?  

I had to laugh. Their motto should be: Hallmark, cheapening the human experience every damn day.

I also discovered there are flower themes for anniversaries. That seems more appropriate. After 50 years a couple doesn't need more things. They need more flowers. Planted firmly in the ground, preferably, where they can grow as strong as a 50 year marriage.

from Wikipedia:

Monday, July 19, 2021

"I don't want to lose (fill in the blank)"

We picked our grandson up on the last day of school at the end of May. He was quiet. I assumed he was sad about school ending. Later he told me he watched a movie about climate change. Apparently it was graphic, because he is still terrified.  

He sobbed and clung to me, saying "I don't want to lose my beautiful family, my beautiful world." He's nine years old.  Holy Mother of God, that moment ripped open a hole in my heart that may never heal.  For both of us.  For all of us.  

I don't want to lose my beautiful family, or my beautiful world either.  

Friday, July 2, 2021


I went with daughter M, and grandkids E, and N to Epcot. It is the Disney theme park with many countries represented, including France (where we ate lunch). E had escargot as an appetizer. Niko had pommes frites, of course, and nothing else. We bought a hat for a cat in Japan. We did a scavenger hunt that took us all over the "world." The Garden and Flower Festival is going on right now, so the flora was lush and colorful. We usually buy a Boddington's at the pub in England, or a Margarita in Mexico, but this time we were saving ourselves for France.  

I paid $40 for a meal consisting of thin and fatty fillet mignon, overcooked green beans, and mashed potatoes that had clearly been sitting on a plate long enough to form a skin.
 Highway robbery! As a woman named Colette, I was scandalized. I think the real France should be notified. They are being misrepresented.  

I took some pictures to make you laugh, or scratch your head, or make you wish you were there. Whatever floats your boat. I've included a display of berets for sale in the French store. I sent it to my friend Anne de Nantes. She assured me the French wear berets ALL the time, even when they go swimming at the beach. Ha! 

I must admit, it was a fun day with people I love so much I could scream.

Here's the view from Japan

The cat in the hat

Monday, June 28, 2021


I am struggling with contact dermatitis this week. 

The house next door has a plethora of mango trees. Since it is occupied by renters, the trees have not been pruned. They're huge. Consequently, ripe mangos weigh down the tall branches and fall in our yard, not the worst thing in the world! 

The other day there was a storm and the high wind broke a large branch off one tree into our yard. I don't believe anyone is even living next door right now, so I wandered over and stripped the branches of mangoes (quite the haul!) before my husband dragged the large branch out to the street for disposal.  I was psyched for mango delights.

The next day my left eye was nearly swollen shut, and I had red rashes all over my lower arms and upper chest. Even some on my right foot. Yeah, I had been wearing flip flops and a v-necked t-shirt when greedily claiming my spoils the night before. No rashes around my mouth, though. I guess that means I'm not allergic to the fruit.  

I remembered the leaves and mangoes were covered with sticky sap.  I googled:

Friday, June 25, 2021

Swift, Certain, and ?

I've been thinking. Read no further if you want to be amused.

Some people are awaiting trial for the January 6th insurrection. They hoped to overturn an election Biden won by 7,052,770 votes out of over 158 million cast. Because of the Great American Crank Factor, 2.5 million people threw their votes away on non-viable candidates. The remaining 155,485,078 voted for either Biden or Trump. Biden's 4.5% victory margin is the largest since 2000.  

If you're hung up on the wildly unfair Electoral College, Biden got 306 EC votes and Trump got 232.  

How do we punish insurrectionists? Some want punishment to be swift, certain, and severe. Severe because the assumption is aggressive punishment deters criminal acts. This brings to mind Jean Valjean's long prison sentence for stealing bread to feed his sister's starving children.

Others want swift, certain, and fair punishment. In other words, the punishment should fit the crime. How would Jean Valjean have been punished in this context? 

Sedition is a serious, folks. Finding a punishment to fit the crime for insurrectionist leaders is a no-brainer. There was no Jean Valjean in that group. These folks gleefully committed a crime that threatened our republic. If successful, the entire world would have suffered. 

But what about the gullible day trippers who participated? I'm talking about the people in D.C. that day for the Trump rally. They listened to their supreme leader tell them to go and raise hell and they joined in.  Trump wound them up like a yoyo and hurled their strings toward the U.S. Capitol. Still, being part of a violent mob demands a penalty. That's just the way it is. You know, "justice" and all that implies. 

I say all this with full knowledge that Trump escaped punishment for his role that day. Maybe "justice" is only blind when it comes to the wealthy and powerful?

What's a fair and effective punishment for the gullible day trippers?  


photo from

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

New teeth in an old mouth

 8:34 am

In an hour I'll be going with my husband to a dental surgeon who will prepare him for two new implanted teeth. He can't have anything to eat or drink before. That is, he has to face the situation decaffeinated and hangry. He seems edgy, cranky, and anxious. He likes to be left alone when he's like this, and I'm happy to comply. However, I'm empathizing like crazy in the other room, unbeknownst to him.

I'm wondering if I have enough soft things in the house for him to eat for the next couple of days.  I should have bought bananas yesterday so I could make him a smoothie later today. Oh well, I can always go grocery shopping.  Or, better yet, I could ORDER food to be delivered! 

10:00 am

They won't let me wait inside the reception room in the dental office because of COVID.  I have to sit in the car and wait for God knows how long. Luckily it is isn't blisteringly hot today. I am able to open the car windows and read my book while enjoying a slight breeze. What am I reading? The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich.  Good stuff.  

11:30 am

Surgery is over and all went well.  The kindly dental assistant slowly walked him out to our car. I couldn't figure out if I should jump out and take over for her or not. So I didn't. I think that was the right thing to do? Narrow space between cars and all. It is SO hard to figure out when to prove one's love, or when to show restraint. I have a hard time with all that.

11:50 am

We are home. The kindly dental assistant easily put him in the passenger seat. And he was feeling no pain, thanks to modern medicine. That's why I drove. He usually drives and seemed uncomfortable with my driving. In spite of his mouth being stuffed with padding, he tried to tell me how to maneuver the roads.  Eventually he resorted to pointing at street signs, so I wouldn't miss them, ha!  He even gave me a thumbs up when I got in the right lane. I showed restraint AND proved my love at the same time. That one was easy.

12:10 pm

Apparently he took selfies of his sorry looking self immediately upon waking up from surgery in the doctor's office. Always the funny man!  He also posted them on his Facebook page. Sheesh. His FB friends are concerned.  I'm trying to pretend I didn't notice the post.  

1:20 pm

Groceries are on their way.  I ordered a lot of ice cream.  

1:21 pm

Is it wrong of me to be happy because I can drink all the wine alone tonight?

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

What to do, what to say?

Geez-o-freakin' Pete, I got quite the tongue lashing from Robbie (Roderick Robinson) in the comment section of my last post. He's an irascible codger with a mind too big for his noggin. I say that with affection, by the way. I must admit I "almost" enjoy when he challenges me. It makes me think. One really must think. Otherwise, well, just look around you at the stupidity that often passes for reality.

In the post he responded to, I made the claim I didn't have anything to say. He took issue with that. Okay, okay, I suppose I should have told the truth when I wrote my previous post. "I don't feel like writing, thinking, or doing anything productive." But then I would have been admitting my current inertia. I've been undergoing a period of stasis. It's like a false awakening, except I'm actually awake. 

I hear my sainted mother in my head, asking "Are you bragging or complaining?"  Definitely complaining. 

I suppose the only way out of this stoppage is to start.

My grandson, N, took this picture.  

Thursday, June 10, 2021

flower painting June 2021 1

I seem to have fixed my computer issues. I don't know why they started, but luckily that's in the past. I don't have anything to say today, but I feel like I should post so you all don't think I've been hacked. Anyway, here's my most recent watercolor. I'm starting with the picture I used, and the rough drawing I did from it. Then, finally, a painting. I'm happy with it. I feel like I'm learning and progressing a bit. That's a good feeling.

No need to comment. It's just nice to have some people I can show these to!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Too far?

Oh gee.  Sometimes I go too far.  I have referred to myself as a puppy type of person before: jumping, biting, yapping, and playing.  Or maybe a kitten going on a rip (a cat zoomie).  Watch out for flying claws.  But I'm filled with love and concern for so many people. Probably too much.  I wear myself out with love.  When I crash I'm filled with anxiety. I need to take a nap.  I need more toys.  

This photo comes from

Saturday, May 29, 2021

That baby, that baby!

We had visitors last weekend! Tom's daughter, R, her daughter (our granddaughter) S, and our great-granddaughter C. She is 18 months old. The last time we saw her she was 6 weeks old, an infant, a passive babe in arms.  

What a difference! Now she is a joyful, spunky, interactive force of nature. I am amazed at how well she communicates. I swear she understands everything that is said to her. Her love of learning new things is palpable, and she seems interested in everything.  

She was a little afraid of Great Grandpa Tom, though. He has a white beard, mustache, and somewhat raspy voice.  She kept an eye on him, that's for sure. When he spoke to her, she would furrow her brow and scrutinize him closely. Sometimes she refused to eat her dinner if he sat too close to her. He had to leave the room so she would finish eating. So funny. However, by the last day she was willing to crack a smile for him. I could tell that small victory made him happy. These things take time.  

And we had the BEST time.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2021


I have not been able to bring myself to paint that car.  I'm not sure I will.  We'll see.  In the meantime, here is a flower I painted recently.  

And here are some photos I took on this morning's walk.  

Monday, May 10, 2021

Drawing Cars 2

As much as I enjoy looking at cars, drawing them and coming up with a reasonable drawing to paint has been hard. In fact, I feel like a drafts(wo)man rather than an artist. I have new respect for car designers.  

I have finally finished a drawing (one of many) that I felt I could live with. After working, and reworking it I inked the outline and then used my light box to lightly trace the inked drawing on to watercolor paper. I thought there was no way I was going to try and draw it again.  

My first drawing has resulted in a car with a "droop snoot." Compare the photo I drew it from (on top) with the drawing underneath. The nose pulling pulling down. The tail fins aren't long enough. Obviously I will have to do draw it again. Sheesh. I WILL finish this. I'm almost sure of it.   But, this isn't nearly as much fun as drawing flowers.  

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Drawing Cars, Really?

The watercolor class is long over, and I am struggling to keep drawing and painting. 

It's harder for me to draw now than when I was in my 20s. I do okay, but it has been a LONG time since drawing was a regular part of my routine! I'm less spontaneous, and feel like a draftswoman as I measure and erase. I assume I'll relax and regain confidence over time. I'll learn to interpret shapes rather than render them exact. That's when the real art will begin. For now, I'm simply developing skills. I've been here before, although it seems like that was in a different life. Getting back on a bicycle after 40 odd years was a whole lot easier.

I was looking at a FB group page featuring photos of cars from the 1940's and 1950's.  I can't stop looking at these cars. I'm in love with Chevy Bel Airs. I am definitely going to draw a certain 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk. And I have a picture of a 1957 DeSoto Adventurer Convertible that knocks my socks off.  For me, that decade was the aesthetic heyday of car design.  

I'm going to draw a couple of these beauties and maybe learn a few things in the process. I've already learned the difference between 1955, 1956, and 1957 Chevy Bel Air's. I really never saw this new interest coming. I'm NOT a car person.  

Here's the photo of the DeSoto.  Ain't she a beaut?

Wednesday, April 21, 2021


Having visitors used to a big part of living in Florida. Sadly, the last time we had visitors was February 2020.

Until last week. A friend and his partner had been checking up on her mother in Tampa. They were driving back North, and stopped for brunch on the way. We were all vaccinated. Each of us has been quarantined, isolated, and bubble wrapped all this time. We decided to give it a shot.

What fun to chat live with people outside our small Florida family for a change. We cleaned the house! I even cut fresh flowers for the table. Oh yes, I thought. I remember this. Civilization!

After my last post insisting I was a deprived extravert, I found myself struggling with "chit chat" when confronted with friendly, talkative people. I have been living in my own mind for too long, I found it hard to pay attention to what others were saying. I couldn't find the creative well that allows me to banter and jest. Witty repartee? Not when you are no longer quick witted. It will come back, but it may take some practice.  

Both Tom and I had to take a nap afterwards.  

I am surprised how much has gone by the boards this past year.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

What about me? What about you?

I write this blog to answer questions no one asks me. My post-retirement life is filled with introverts. Believe me, they are NOT asking me questions.  

Still, for some reason I'm drawn to introverts. They are beautifully self-contained, have clear boundaries, and are super damn interesting. Yes, I've written about this before, but I want to revisit this subject. I have more to say. 

Introverts know I would gleefully upset the applecart. I would. And I'm not a linear thinker. I jump around. Naturally, introverts are wary around me. More to the point, they don't trust me. Most of the time that's okay. I have enough trust for all of us. But sometimes, I get lonely.

In my wide-ranging birth family extraverts dominate, although we have a few introverts. When we get together, which is increasingly rare, there is non-stop laughter and teasing. Personal questions are asked! The introverts gravitate towards the other room to recharge their emotional batteries, or position themselves in places where they are far enough away to watch us at a safe distance. Us extraverts sit together in the kitchen, savoring the chaos and each other. 

I wonder if the introverts in my birth family feel lonely, misunderstood, and/or judged amidst our chaos? Because that's how I can sometimes feel amidst their order. It's confusing. How do we accommodate such different world views and personality types? How do we make everyone feel like they belong and are respected? I'm asking you this question.  

Not to change the subject (!). I could use a good laugh. I want a long, loud belly laugh from that measureless soul place, unfathomably bold and deep. I'd like to laugh so hard the terror of existence is scared away. Runs like Hell. Hides in the corner, cowering with fear. Let's consider laughter as an existential weapon. Gimme some a' that!

Damn this pandemic.  

Sunday, March 28, 2021

It's just a shot away.

I was living in San Francisco in 1970, and listened to this song over and over. I always loved the Stones, but Merry Clayton! Dear God, what a voice. Her voice made the song transcendent. In a recent NYTimes interview she recalls that studio session and singing that song. “At first, I told them ‘I’m not trying to do no ‘rape’ and no ‘murder,’” Clayton said, quoting from the song’s famous refrain. “Then it hit me that we’re talking about Vietnam and racism and police killing people. It’s just a shot away. I felt like I was screaming out from my ancestors to give us shelter from this world.” 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Flowers and Dinosaurs

The other day I went with my daughter and grandson to Leu Garden in Orlando. They often have children's exhibits throughout the gardens and make it a game for kids to locate them via maps and trails.  This spring it is dinosaurs. I've included a few.

N is always goofing around