coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Where have all the heroes gone?

From 2016 through 2020, the U.S. was a hotbed of women warriors fighting the good fight. Caught off guard by that traumatic 2016 loss, there was an awakening of women's political consciousness. We worked hard over the next few years to ensure Trump only had one term, and to elect a new generation of progressive leaders. Florida was no exception. Women (and men, too, of course) spent heroic amounts of time involved in political actions. It was a beautiful thing. 

In 2018, it seemed we might flip Florida "blue" (i.e., Democrat). Andrew Gillum was a progressive leader. Honestly, it really seemed like we were going to win the 2018 governor election. We only lost by 1/2 of 1% of the votes cast, about 32,400 votes of the 8.1 million votes cast. 

In 2022, the Florida Democrats ran a former Republican governor, Charlie Crist, who had switched sides to run in 2014, although he lost then. For obvious reasons he seemed like a safer candidate, a moderate who might be able to win in Florida. But he didn't, he lost to Desantis by 19.4%, or 1,507,897 votes of the 7.8 million votes cast. 

Many women warriors have left Florida since 2022. Some moved their families to states where the educational system wasn't threatened. I watch them go, reading their hopeful posts on Facebook. I get it, especially for those who have school aged children, trans children, or children of color. I wish them the best.  

When I first moved here there were more registered Democrats than Republicans.  Here's how it stands now.  Keep in mind that research tells us that the NPA votes are pretty evenly split between liberal and conservative.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Reflecting on Florida and Disney World

I like my Florida retiree life, but I realize Florida is creepy. Republicans have dominated the state senate, house, and governorship for about 30 years. Wacky retro laws are being passed daily, and the educational system is headed for disaster. Hate and intolerance are the rage. Women, children, gay people, and people of color are under attack as the white GOP machine struggles to turn back the clock and put everyone back "in their place."

I also know Disney represents all that is wrong about capitalism, but holy smokes folks! They stand up to DeSatan DeSantis and the repressive Florida GOP.  Currently they are in an epic battle with Desantis because of his stupid Don't Say Gay bill. Disney is big enough, and arrogant enough to fight back on behalf of their LGBTQIA+ employees and guests. The other day at Epcot I saw an entire section of PRIDE merch in the main store. It made me smile. Our granddaughter Melanie, who died in a car accident last summer, was gay. She loved Disney. I wish she could have seen that display, it would have made her smile as well. What I wouldn't give to see her smile!

Sometimes you have to choose a side even though there are no perfect choices. It's all very confusing. When I was a New York liberal, everything seemed so simple and clear.  Down here in Florida, not so much.  Life is really much more complicated than I thought.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Ridiculous pleasures

This is how ridiculous my retirement life is in the Land of Mouse. Today I have the choice of either edging the lawn or going to Epcot with my daughter and granddaughter.  

When you're a Florida resident and buy the cheapest Disney annual pass, you can pretty much go any weekday you like, all year long. Weekends are out for us cheap pass holders, but who cares? Everyone and their brother is there on the weekend. As a retiree, I rarely leave the house on Saturday or Sunday. We only live a half hour from the parks, so it's (ridiculously) easy to go. 

My granddaughter just came home from college for the summer. The grandson is still in school, so he won't be coming this time. It will be my daughter, granddaughter, and me. My husband and son-in-law don't like theme parks and refuse to go. That's fine with me because quite frankly, they get tired and cranky and are NO fun at the parks. 

Please don't judge me!

Monday, May 8, 2023

I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way

As a child I lived in my head. I tried not to go outside and play with neighborhood children because I preferred my own company. I had an active imagination. I played with my dolls for hours. I spent a lot of time daydreaming. I drew images on the newspaper with a ballpoint pen, usually faces and hairdos. I read each of the children's encyclopedias lined up in our room, many times. When I went to the library I would load up. When I came home and piled unread books around me, they seemed like a treasure trove. 

Thankfully, neither of my two older sisters spent day time in our shared room. I did. It was my chance to be alone. No one was looking, no one was judging. I was left to my own devices. I quite liked that.

Eventually, I became a wife, mother, and wage earner. I spent the next 50+ years building an external life that was productive. I made the best of it during the hard times. I thrived during the good times. I learned things. Every task I undertook, every person I interacted with during my earning years was a lesson in something or other.  I tried to pay attention, and I learned to focus as best I could.  

Still, there were times when my computer reminded me I had a meeting to attend. I would gather my purse and be on my way. I'd exit the building and realize I had no idea where the meeting was. No problem, there were other managers leaving their buildings to walk to the exact same meeting. I would either walk with them or follow them. It always worked out just fine.  

Friday, April 28, 2023

I found that red dress

I found it. Not just a red dress. I suspect the dress I now own might be the same Talbot red dress that I show Dora wearing in my post. Of course I don't mean it is Dora's actual dress from 2016, I mean it is one just like it. I found it on ebay for $30.  Can you believe it? Perhaps tenacity is a virtue?

Now I just have to invest in shape wear so I don't look lumpy when I wear it. I have two months, maybe I could lose 5 pounds? Whatever it takes. By all that is holy, I'm wearing this blankety blank dress.  

And ladies, could I get away with wearing black shoes with this red dress for a summer wedding? When I was a teenager in the 1960's, one didn't wear black shoes in the warm weather. Black shoes were cold weather shoes. Yeah, that's how long ago I actually thought about fashion. 

Saturday, April 22, 2023

A night out

Our niece, K, flew in to attend a training session in Orlando. She stayed at a Holiday Inn across from the Universal theme park. We took her to Universal's City Walk for dinner with our daughter and her family. City Walk, like Disney's Disney Springs, is the restaurant section. There is no entrance fee for City Walk, and if you arrive after 6 p.m. the parking is free. Otherwise, they charge $30 to park.  

City Walk is much smaller than Disney Springs, but it is a festive place with neon, people, shops, and restaurants. Kiosks selling trinkets, margaritas, and cold beer abound. It feels like a carnival. I like that.

We struggled finding dinner reservations for 6 people. We usually go to The Cowfish@ Sushi Burger Bar. No luck there, or at any of the other decent restaurants. Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville had room for us. The food wasn't great, but as a bonafide Northern transplant I'm used to that sort of deep fried disappointment. Let me just say there aren't many non-franchise eateries in greater Orlando. I made the mistake of trying the fish and chips. Yuck. Cole slaw is a ubiquitous side dish down here. Luckily, Jimmy makes a pretty good slaw, but it was room temp. Never a good sign.

I wish we could have taken K to Cowfish instead of Margaritaville. I also wish we had brought her home, cooked for her, and kept her for a few days. Next time.

Monday, April 17, 2023

That red dress

Our grandson's wedding is still a couple of months away, but I have had no luck finding a dress I like for the rehearsal dinner.  

My needs are simple.  Nothing low cut, no weird cut-outs, tea length (midi or below the knee), short sleeves, not tight fitting, not sexy, not high fashion. And I want it to be red, but I'm willing to compromise on the color.  

I'm 71 years old. I want to look respectable and attractive in an old lady kind of way.  Is that too much to ask?  

Saturday, March 25, 2023


I started physical therapy this week for a rotator cuff injury.  I guess one would call it an injury.  It's not painful as much as it is constantly sore. I don't know how I injured it.  Maybe just sleeping on that side, or due to enthusiastic weeding in the garden?  It's not serious, and doesn't seem to be a tear.  I'm fairly confident it will get better with therapy and I won't need surgery.  I live in hope.  

As one ages, it always seems to be something.  That's a phrase all the old ladies in my life have used.  Now I'm old and I have earned the right to say it.  Cliches have power.  

Looking back over my life I must admit it has always been something.  Looking forward I assume there will be something else and more, both good and bad.  

I do like going to physical therapy, it reminds me of going to the gym, and having a personal trainer.  Maybe if I actually still went to a gym I wouldn't have this injury?  No way to tell unless I went to a gym after I heal.  Not going to happen.  I just don't want to.  

It does feel good to be exercising my upper arms, though.  

Thursday, March 2, 2023

8 years this week

The whole process was surreal. She was in a nursing home and had a stroke. We didn't want her to be alone, so I offered to sleep in a hospital bed next to hers until she died.  

That week in the room with her was strange. She was non-responsive. I feel like I slept in the valley of the shadow of death. And you know what? I feared no evil.  There was no evil, only death and dying. Death is not evil, it is just relentlessly sad.    

My Mom was a devout, old-time Catholic. She once told me that the Prayer of St. Michael the Archangel was her favorite prayer and she wanted it read after she died. Within minutes of her last breath, I googled that Leonine prayer (written about 1886), stood up and told my siblings I was going to read it because she asked. 

I was not the least bit familiar with this prayer. When I started reading it aloud I was a bit spooked, but I soldiered on. My siblings looked at me like they thought I'd lost my mind. Perhaps I had. 

"Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen."

It seemed like a magical invocation. I was calling out the big guns, the ultimate bad ass, an angelic warrior named Michael! In doing so, I made a plea for her safety on that journey only the dead will take.  Honestly, I don't think I COULD have read it out loud if I had been in my right mind.  

Turns out Archangels have job descriptions.  According to Wikipedia

Michael is the angel of death, carrying the souls of all the deceased to heaven. In this role Michael descends at the hour of death, and gives each soul the chance to redeem itself before passing; thus consternating the devil and his minions."

I didn't know this until today when I looked him up. My Mom would have known and believed. At the end, she deserved better than me, an agnostic drama queen.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Visitor #3 of 3

Our second visitor arrived on Monday and left on Thursday.  Friday was our daughter M's 51st birthday dinner, and Saturday night Tom2, our third visitor of the week, arrived.  What a kind and gentle person he is.  

Having all these visitors has been fun in so many ways, and still is.  However, I'm on my last leg.  Today we took Tom2 to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive to see alligators, birds, and waterfowl from the convenience of our car window.  It's always a big hit with visitors, and my Tom and I love the drive.  Afterwards we drove into Mt. Dora to go to our favorite Cuban restaurant, The Copocabana, where I had my usual picadillo with a large mojito.  What a beautiful day!

I had to take a nap as soon as I got in the house.  Did I tell you I was exhausted?  

Here are some pictures from the drive.  Never fear, I was using a zoom lens and I was inside the car.   

Alligator Head





A big old gator

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Cooking while rattled

Having visitors has been a bit jarring for me.  The past few years have been spent quietly, with people we know.  People who are predictable, and comforting in their familiarity.  I had forgotten how it feels to be around people who are less predictable.  It takes a lot of emotional and physical energy.  And lots and lots of talking.  I can talk that talk.  I can talk until the cows come home, and enjoy every minute of it.  But at a price.  I was in bed about 9 pm last night.  I may have to take a nap this afternoon.  I almost never nap.  

I tend to get rattled when socially challenged.  I say this as I just realized I accidentally turned off the stove half way in to baking a frittata.  Unbeknownst to me it then sat in a warm oven for 20 minutes.  I turned the oven back on, but I know that is a futile effort.  When our guest wakes up I will try to interest her in peanut butter on toast, or steamed oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts.  

Sheesh.  I was really counting on that frittata to start the day off right. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Visitors Feb 2023

 The COVID years kept visitors away.  Now they are back.  We will have three separate visitors this week.  

Yesterday (Sunday) we met an old friend of mine for lunch.  She and her boyfriend are staying at a DisneyWorld time share she's had for many years.  I have known her, through thick and thin, since we were both young working women. We were even union activists together in those heady days.  We worked in many of the same departments at the University, although not always at the same time.  We share history and love, although we don't always agree on politics.  Politics were avoided at all costs.

The second visitor arrives today (Monday), and will stay with us through Thursday morning.  She is a friend from my husband's commune days in the late 1960s.  We last saw her in 1975.  She is very free spirited, bolstered by a San Francisco lifestyle.  She is also a vegetarian who avoids dairy.  I am none of those things.  I am looking forward to getting to know her better, and excited to eat more plant based meals while she's here.  I have to remember to give her and Tom some space so they can talk about old times, without me.  There will be plenty of politics, as she is in Florida to attend a New College reunion in Sarasota.  If you have any awareness of Florida politics, you will know that DeSatan DeSantis is trying  to destroy New College because it is extremely progressive.  

Last, on Saturday night another of Tom's friends arrives.  He is also named Tom, so we'll call him Tom2.  Tom2 is a lovely man, a musician.  I imagine he and my Tom will play music and go look for alligators while he's here.  He'll be here for 2 nights, and he eats meat.  I've already made some bread, and a red sauce with Italian sausage for pasta.  Both are in the freezer.  Will there be politics?  I don't know.  

This is going to be fun, but I'm already tired.  

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Spring is coming, maybe it's even here

We rode our bikes to a park on Lake Apopka the other day. It was a beautiful day, sunny, light wind, low humidity and only in the low 70s.  The azaleas have been blooming for a while.  I noticed on our ride that the tabebuia trees are packed with yellow blossoms. Spring has come to central Florida, and I hadn't noticed until today.  What's been wrong with me?  

Our few deciduous trees (we have a sycamore and crape myrtle, but there are others out and about) have not returned to life, but will soon.  Of course the palms trees, live oaks, and scrub pines remain green all year round.  Now when I see pictures from up north with snow cover and the overwhelming starkness of tree branches, I am in awe.  The weather is like that for so long in New York State.  It's little wonder that so many become avid amateur gardeners during their astoundingly short growing season.  I salute them.

Here are some pictures from this month in Central Florida.

A bloom on the white bird of paradise

palm tree with spanish moss, Lake Apopka in background

Red Maple seedlings? 

An alligator

leaves and Spanish moss

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.