coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Thursday, April 25, 2024

April 2024 with a touch of bromeliad

It has been a busy month for us. Well, busy by our lazy and reclusive retirement standards. We've had two short term visitors this month. A beloved nephew, and then an old friend. Both visits were deeply meaningful and gave me a lot to think about.

Tomorrow we pick up my Baby Sister from the airport. She is just here for the weekend. I look forward to sitting out on the lanai, talking and talking and talking. When my mother was alive, Baby Sister and I talked on the phone every Saturday morning. She was Mom's caretaker. My mother was in the advanced stages of Parkinson's for a long time, and it was hard to talk to her on the phone because I couldn't always understand what she was saying. Baby Sister was my touchstone when it came to Mom. I say "Mom," but as often as not we called her Ma. Why is it so hard for me to believe my mother has been gone for over 9 years? 

I must admit, this whole "time" thing really messes with my brain.

a crazy bromeliad

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Thoughts on the eclipse

Yeah, I watched the solar eclipse. We only got 58%, and it never got dark outside. But it was still awe-inspiring; a numinous experience - great word, that. I've used it before, and I'll use it again, because it is one of those words that describes a specific experience exactly. 

I had to wonder what it must have been like for the ancients to experience an eclipse. No news service warned them in advance, or told them not to look at it. If it was total, the day would become night and return to day. In those breathtaking moments, they had no idea what was happening. How could they not perceive it as a message from their Gods?  

How wonderful it is to live in a time when we have a more complex understanding of reality, right? To the educated mind science actually magnifies the complexity of the universe. I'm pretty sure some might think that complexity divine. Who knows? Not me. Outside of direct experience, it's all just words and wonder.

Magical thinking is a basic human reaction. In our innocence, this is how we are delivered to the world. However, the ability to think and reason are what separate us from animals. So, I was shocked to discover there are still people in these United States who thought it was The Rapture last Tuesday. Geez O Pete! I despair.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Memory 24Mar2024

Why is it that we think and/or dream of people who played a relatively small role in our lives? Surely something sparked the memory, but I can rarely tell you what it was. I only know that my mind is a mess of memories now. And when I say "mess" I mean it like my Grandma did, i.e., a mess is a whole lot. Occasionally one of those memories asserts itself above the others, demanding to be remembered.

Today, for absolutely no good reason, I'm thinking about my second grade teacher, Sister Anne de Lourdes. I really liked her, in spite of her occasional temper tantrums in front of the class. Of course when she was good, she was very, very good as they say. Adults are fickle and unpredictable.  

I assume nuns get to pick their nun-names? If so, she chose Anne, the mother of Mary. Apparently there is a church dedicated to Anne within the Marian pilgrimage site of Lourdes. There are other churches and sites dedicated to Saint Anne elsewhere. Why would she choose the one at Lourdes? I've been doing a little research and I think I have the answer, which would be obvious if my mind wasn't so messy. She was a Sister of the Holy Cross, which was based in Notre Dame, Indiana (a suburb of South Bend). The priest who founded Notre Dame was Father Sorin.  Fr. Sorin also wanted to make Notre Dame a pilgrimage place … honoring our Lady of Lourdes,”  So there you go. A mystery probably solved.

Eventually she left the convent and married a priest. 

Very cool habit, don't you think?
Sisters of the Holy Cross. The headpiece
was a pleated wonder.  

Friday, March 15, 2024

Choosing fun.

I took my daughter and two grandchildren to see Kung Fu Panda 4. Grandpa Tom and MV (our son-in-law) opted not to come. 

The story was predictable. However, this movie was beautifully drawn and colored. I like cartoon drawings, but so often the artists spend more time on the characters than the surrounding view. The rendered views in this movie were gorgeous. I concentrated on the art, as I used to when I attended mass as a child. Life presents many opportunities for entertainment.

The daughter and grandkids were laughing out loud, clearly enjoying every minute of it. That was the best part of the movie for me, being with them. I was still holding this experience close to my heart when I fell asleep last night, which made for good dreams.

After the movie, we went for ice cream at the creamery across the way. This has now become part of the movie viewing tradition for the four of us. 

I had burnt butter bourbon flavored ice cream. It was amazing.  

Take your time, enjoy the views

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Ignorance is bliss

We don't really know what we are doing when it comes to vegetable gardening in general, and particularly in Central Florida. However, each February the veggie muse demands we try.  

When we lived up north, all our energies went into maintaining perennial beds for flowers we simply cannot grow here. We thought we were successful gardeners, wise and gifted. Then we moved to Central Florida, which boxed our ears and scolded us harshly for our northern conceit. Quickly we learned we knew nothing. We surrendered to the heat and humidity, and figured out what flowers would or wouldn't grow. Veggies are definitely beyond us, though.  

Having said that, we try tomatoes each year. We live in hope. Occasionally we get a tomato or two, and we had good luck with cherry tomatoes one year. Last fall, Tom stuck a tomato plant in the ground. I knew it was too late to plant, but I said nothing. If he's happy, I'm happy. It grew, thrived even. Best of all, it overwintered and didn't die.  

Today I noticed one of the tomatoes is starting to turn red. Joy and rapture. Notice how unhealthy the bottom leaves look.  

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Back in the day

My mother would have disapproved of Trump, Putin and the mean spirited hijinks of the current GOP. She had no respect for bullies, narcissists, and ruthless billionaires. She knew them for what they were, selfish monsters.

My mother-in-law was the same. She really hated liars and people who bragged about themselves all the time. She could spot a liar a mile away, and then she'd laugh and mimic them, thinking them ridiculous.

And they would NEVER have trusted a man who cheated on his wife.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Company coming!

I'm a terrible housekeeper, so there's a lot of advance cleaning when visitors come to stay. That's not a bad thing. This house needs attention and the anticipation of visitors is an excellent incentive. 

The days of the white tornado speed cleaning three rooms at once ended when I busted my kneecap. That's actually HOW I busted it. My days of getting down on my hands and knees to scrub are also over. There exist long, adjustable brushes to make these things easier for the kneecap challenged.  

Planning meals for the duration of the visit is a must. In doing so we have to find out if the guests have any allergies, preferences, aversions. We can't be surprised one of them has gluten issues after they've arrived and our freezer is full of wheat based treats. We need to know what they drink, if they prefer red or white, beer, or spirits. If we are aware they are cutting back on salt and/or sugar, we can adjust. 

Dinners are important, as are breakfasts. We are often out and about for lunch, or skip it because of a late breakfast. Interestingly, there's only so much one can eat in a day. Who knew?

We try to limit visits to 3 nights/4 days. After that, I start hallucinating. It has occurred to me there will come a time when having visitors stay with us will be nearly impossible to manage. I hope that's a long way off.  

Monday, February 12, 2024

Outside looking in

I don't watch sports, and I usually don't know who is playing at the Super Bowl. In fact, I only know there is a Super Bowl because it is the sale and promotion theme at the grocery store. You know, cakes disguised as footballs, chicken wings, trays of sliders, two for one chips.  

This year, like so many others, I was aware because I like Taylor Swift. I don't believe I've ever heard any of her music, but I like her style. I think she's a wonderful role-model or hero for the younger generations. The whole reissuing her own music thing is epic. It makes me smile. 

One of my nieces gave me a tip on a Taylor Swift album to start out with, but I've misplaced the text. Truthfully, I am reluctant to listen because I don't want to dislike her music. I'm happy liking her from afar, simply because she's a positive cultural icon.  

I especially like that the MAGA morons don't like her. It's fun to imagine what buttons she pushes that drive them wild.  

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Winter is going

It is supposed to get to 82 degrees F (27.8 C) today. I'm a little sad. The weather since Christmas has been cold for Central Florida. I'm a northern transplant, so I fully realize how absurd it is to say that daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s are cold. I do. Still, it meant nights in the high 30s and 40s some nights. That's blanket weather, my friends. I wore slippers and socks instead of flip flops. I even bought new slippers this year. What a joy it was to wear them.  

I need to get outside and start cleaning up the garden beds. That will make me happy for warmer weather.  

More January pictures:

Turtle on cypress roots

I wish I had a super duper zoom lens!

I don't know what he has in his mouth.

Cypress knees

The base of a very old live oak

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Sick of being sick

We've been sick since Christmas Eve in my house. We seem to have contracted that unnamed respiratory virus that is making it's way across the country. The one that last for weeks and involves a ridiculous amount of coughing. We are finally on the mend.