coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Monday, February 25, 2019

Before Planned Parenthood: Kate

The first day of high school in my senior year (September 1968), I was standing in a crowded hallway during class changes. It was my turn to walk my friend Kate to class, and it was going to be someone else's turn when that class was over. Our large group of friends had worked out a schedule in the morning before classes started. Kate was shattered and broken. She needed help.

She kept her head down, staring at the floor, not saying a word as we walked. I looked all my passing classmates directly in the eyes with the hardest, meanest stare I could muster. I was defending my friend against the insensitivity of cruel people who did not care.

When asked, I lied and said "No, Kate did NOT have a baby over the summer." You had to lie back then. And I thought, “Oh, by the way, if I have to say that one more time somebody's gonna get their ass kicked." The reason Kate did not defend herself was because she had only been out of the hospital for a week and her episiotomy stitches still burned and itched. Most of all she did not speak because the trauma of being forced to give her first child away against her will had silenced her. Her anguish and confusion were palpable.

Kate and her boyfriend wanted to get married. He was just out of high school, and wanted her and the baby. Her parents wouldn't allow it and made the decision to give the baby away. She and her boyfriend were not allowed a voice in the matter.

I lost touch with Kate after high school; however, I heard she eventually married the father of her baby once she graduated and moved out of her parents' house. I hope that's true.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Laundry tales

I'm not sure why doing laundry feels oppressive, but it does. Perhaps because I've been doing laundry for 50 years? Regardless, I really am getting bad about this necessary evil. I wait until there is a mountain of dirty clothes, and then after I do a load or two I procrastinate about taking the clean clothes out of the dryer for days. It's really too much, dontcha know? 

That being said, laundry now is much easier for me than when I was a new wife and mother. All tasks are more complicated and stressful when you have no money or extra time. I remember the first time we got our own washer and dryer. It was liberating. Instead of schlepping our laundry to the laundromat (and spend a ridiculous amount of time waiting for it to get done) I could simply do a load whenever I wanted, regardless of if I had the right change or not. And I didn't have to wait until I got my next paycheck to do it. 

The worst was washing cloth diapers, of course. Many people won't understand the horror I am referring to. Too bad, because even though it was a horror, it also didn't inundate the landfills with plastic. Inundating the landfill with plastic is a much worse horror. And it was a lot less expensive to use your own cloth diapers than to buy plastic ones. Diapers could be used as burping cloths, too. And they were so much softer for the wee bairns. Whoops! I've been obsessively watching Outlander, and that just slipped out.

Gardening jeans from a really muddy weeding frenzy

Friday, February 15, 2019

We are the lucky ones!

Yesterday I received Valentine's Day flowers from my three grown-up grandchildren who live up north. You really have to know a bit about our short but profound history to fully understand how touched I am. 

I've written about this before, but let me summarize: My husband, T, did DNA testing in late spring 2017 to determine his ethnic heritage. When he received his results, he was surprised to find he had another daughter, named R. He contacted her within 10 minutes of reading of her existence, and immediately they began to build a relationship. This is a relationship that flourished and continues to grow and deepen for all of us who are related to this man and his oldest child. Sometimes these things don't work out; however, we are the lucky ones.

At one point I was complaining that there was no familial name, no role to label me. Why? Because I'm a self-indulgent and needy monster, of course. The love I feel for our family and everyone in it is over the freakin' top!  I'm not the birth-mother. I'm not the familial grandmother (they already have grandmothers who were quite wonderful). I'm not really a step-mother, either. So what am I? Can we PLEASE make this all about me?

Luckily, R thinks I'm funny. So when I complained to her about this (and yes, I really did complain to her about this because I am a self-indulgent and needy monster with absolutely no filter) she said I could be her Fairy Stepmother. Well, alright! See why I love this woman?  It turns out her 3 children are equally as lovable.

The card that came with the Valentine flowers says:

"Happy Valentine's Day, Fairy Grandmother!
  Love, The Fairy Grandchildren"

BIG smile. Thanks, SM, AC, and MC. I love all of you, too.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

To forgive or not to forgive, is that the question?

  • At what point do we forgive people?
  • What must they do to earn forgiveness?
  • How does one atone for the wrongs they do?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Decluttering against all the odds

I have been trying to rid myself of things we no longer need or use. If you are a pack rat you will easily understand the deep emotional ties some of us have with, well, just about anything. It is hard, even painful, to de-clutter. "Things" can represent memories, a life, or old friends. Voluntary parting with things involves fear, anxiety, love, anticipation, regret, and despair. ALL of these emotions hurt my heart. I want that to change. 

I went through this 5 years ago when we moved to Florida. We had been in our NYS house for 24 years. It had both an attic and a basement, if you catch my drift. At the end, I became as familiar with our rented dumpster as I did with the Salvation Army donation center.

What I am finally realizing is that we didn't do enough. We brought too much to Florida. Sheesh.

I vow here and now, before the entire blog world, to get serious about downsizing my belongings over the next 6 months. There, I said it. Now let's see if I can do it.

Feel free to share what motivates you to let go. Climate friendly tips are especially welcome, and will result in a few weeks off for you from purgatory after you die. I'm almost sure of it.


Thursday, January 31, 2019

When company departs

Visitor season in Florida is going on full force as the frozen Northlanders make their way south to warm up. This natural phenomenon also warms up our hearts.

The only downside to visitors is the ridiculous amount of food that is leftover when they leave.  Honestly, I try my best to stuff them like sausages when they are here, but legally I am unable to force feed them. Or at least that's what my husband tells me.

T's daughter R (my fairy stepdaughter) left this morning. It was hard to see her leave because we love her so freakin' much and enjoy getting to know her. So I was sad when we walked into the house after dropping her off at the airport. Sad is a very dangerous state to find yourself in when there is half a pecan pie AND a third of a red velvet cake in the fridge. Or potato chips in the pantry. Oh wait, aren't there a couple of pints of ice cream in the freezer, too? 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Affinity, revisted

The Mangroves
As I said before, I am living now
in a warm place, surrounded by
mangroves. Mostly I walk beside
them, they discourage entrance.
The black oaks and the pines
of my northern home are in my heart,
even as I hear them whisper, “Listen,
we are trees too.” Okay, I’m trying. They
certainly put on an endless performance
of leaves. Admiring is easy, but affinity,
that does take some time. So many
and so leggy and all of them rising as if
attempting to escape this world which, don’t
they know it, can’t be done. “Are you
trying to fly or what?” I ask, and they
answer back, “We are what we are, you
are what you are, love us if you can.”
by Mary Oliver

This poem helped me so much when I was new to Florida and homesick for the northern forests. I wonder how many people she touched and comforted with her "not so fancy" poetry? 

I originally used this poem in a post called Affinity as a Euphemism for Belonging that I posted in 2015 when I was homesick and lonely.  I had not yet learned to write shorter posts or stick to a single theme.  It wears me out going back and reading it. Now I could get three posts out of that one. If we are lucky, we live and learn like Mary Oliver. Rest in Peace, poet.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Pictures from my morning walk: 14 Jan 2019

It is a beautiful "winter" day in Central Florida today, so we went for a morning walk on the West Orange Trail.  We usually bike this trail, but it was a cool 62 degrees (Fahrenheit) so we opted to walk instead.  I'm glad we did.  I love to walk.  It gives me a chance to take pictures.  Here are some of the things I saw this morning.

Red berries on a branch that had been severed
from the bush.  I found it even more interesting than the live one.
Bananas growing in the wild.  The bananas growing at my house are green,
so I was happy to see these red ones

Chaos, it is so beautiful

I'm a sucker for slapstick humor

Please note I'm posting a chronicle of my banana tree's first ever bloom via a
series of photo posts over at my other blog:

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Putting away Christmas

The older I get, the more Christmas becomes a life gauge. Each year I touch and consider my past.
  • Owl ornament my ornery friend Maggie gifted in 1983. She died in 2006. I'm still a bit afraid of her.
  • Cardboard box to store ornaments. We originally received the box in 1996 when we ordered a printer. The printer is long gone. The box remains.
  • Needlepoint bell niece K made when she was a child. She'll never know how touched I was to get it.
  • 1970's/80's salt dough ornaments daughter M made. She's forever my baby, my child, my cranky teen.
  • Every ornament our grandchildren made/painted/bought for us. Especially when we can't figure out what it is. They go front and center.
  • The salt dough ornaments husband T made that are so hideous, so utterly ridiculous that we laugh and hide 'em in the back of the tree. He's a good sport.
  • New ornaments from R, the daughter who is my husband's oldest, and a daughter of my heart.
  • Yellow cat ornament Chilly Hollow gave us millions of years ago. She's still a friend, a reader of this blog, and an irreverent smart alack.
  • Ornaments Syracuse friends bought and pretended were from their son, Coop. Ha, we never fell for it.
  • Vacation souvenirs, baubles and tchotchkes.
  •  The glass Santa from Sharon, who died in 2015. Each year I hold it and try to believe she's still alive.
  • I really must stop, this is getting too long. I could go on for pages.  Suffice it to say that every ornament has a story to tell and circumstances to describe. 
    Santa ball from DebbieK, Tibetan ball from Choklay and Nyima, Icon BVM from Oldest Sister