coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Monday, June 17, 2019

Father's Day 2019

Father's Day has come and gone. It is always a tough holiday for me. My Dad was complicated, and when I say "complicated" it's a euphemism for "What the Hell was WRONG with that guy!" Still, I don't want to wallow in my conflicted feelings for him. I adored him as a child. I feared him as a teen. I avoided him as an adult.  I was sad when he died. 

He loomed large. Sometimes it is hard to believe he is gone.

Easter 1953

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Mr. Moonlight

I was a diehard Beatlemaniac as a young girl in the early and middle 1960s. 

I guess if I had to choose one favorite it would be Mr. Moonlight on the album called Beatles for Sale (in the U.S). John Lennon screaming his heart out about Mistuhuhuhuh Moonlight in the beginning was a revelation to me as a tween. I remember thinking "What the heck was THAT?" I played the beginning over and over, just to feel what it made me feel. In my youthful innocence I didn't know.  I just knew it moved me on a deep and joyful level. Only later did I realize it was passion. Of course the passionate cry was also perfectly executed, providing one of my earliest experiences of pop excellence.

I'm probably driving my husband nuts right now, because as I've been writing this I've been restarting the song over and over again. Apparently, it never gets old.

Do you have a favorite Beatles song?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

I was never beautiful, but still I mourn the loss

I was never beautiful, although I think there were times in my life when I was reasonably attractive. If not attractive because of beauty, then at least attractive by the strength of my will, or the intensity of my stare. I mourn the loss of youth because, as they say, there is beauty in youth. It is hard to say goodbye to all that when your concept of beauty is limited to cultural norms.

Is there also beauty in aging? I think so, if we can only get over our fear of death and our revulsion over the aging process. Wrinkles, gray hair and all the rest less obvious trappings of age are confusing. The changes that aging bring are horrifying only sometimes, but always astounding in their creeping permanency. Still, the older women I have loved always seemed beautiful to me.

I'm inclined to let age have its way with me. I would put my energy elsewhere, because this is a fight I cannot win.

My maternal grandmother.  I didn't know her but I love the children she raised so I guess I love her, too.

My paternal grandmother, one of the best people who has ever walked this earth

My sweet mother (big sigh)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rallying Cries

There has never been a woman president in the United States. There has never been a woman vice president. Ever. Can I say that again? Ever!

When I say “Elect women” or “We need a woman president” it pushes some right over the edge. I've had so many online arguments with men AND women who hear a pro-woman rallying cry and assume I'll single-handedly destroy the U.S. presidential election by refusing to vote for a male candidate.

Then there are the ones who say, “We tried it with Hillary and it didn’t work. The country isn’t ready to elect a woman, if you wait it will happen eventually.” Uh, I became a feminist in 1968. I’ve been waiting for over 50 years. I’m sick of waiting.

The "We tried HIllary" argument creeps me out. Although she likely won the election, and certainly won the popular vote, some think if one woman ran and didn’t win, then that justifies not considering a woman candidate. I understand the fears, but really? How can we change the world if we only give women one shot at power?

Rallying cries are emotional shorthand meant to focus attention on an issue. “Vote for Women” is intended to remind us that women are not fully represented in government and we need more women in power. That’s all, folks.

When women say "Let's support women candidates" or "Elect Women" it doesn't mean gender is the only factor. It's like saying "Black People Matter." That statement does not mean ONLY black people matter. It means black people matter, TOO. 'Isms are tricky, complicated, slippery damn things. Let's think more deeply about them.

I will advocate for those I consider the best candidates, and all other things being equal I will vote for a woman. But if a man is the best candidate, I’ll vote for the man. 

However, I won't dismiss women candidate out of hand because some believe women can't win. I'm giving all the candidates a chance to convince me. I'm open.

It’s way too early for me to know who I’ll vote for in the primary. I currently have 3 favorites: two woman and one man. That could change over time. Most of the others I like, too. I’m a team player. “Vote Blue, No Matter Who” is also a rallying cry I hold dear. I just want more women elected to government at all positions, even president. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

CHOICE: 1998 advice to a pregnant teen

Here's a letter I wrote to a 15 year old pregnant niece of mine over 20 years ago.  In light of the current attack on Roe vs. Wade, I think this is thought provoking.  I think there's a lot we all need to think about.  If we don't think, we may not act.  If we don't act, our hard fought rights will be eroded.  Anyway, I'm sharing this letter and I still stand behind it. How wonderful that she had a choice.

5 Nov 1998

Dear ---,

So glad to hear you received the clothes. M and I had a lot of fun picking them out. T got a kick out of how different maternity clothes are nowadays. You can’t imagine how UGLY maternity clothes used to be. Big, clunky collars and blocky shapes. Yuck. And they didn’t used to have maternity jeans, so I had to cut out the stomach in mine, and sew in elastic panels. 

Sounds like your pregnancy is progressing nicely. You’ll be amazed at how glorious the whole experience is.  Nothing else like it in the world. Your Grandma is famous for having really easy deliveries. She was able to just pop ‘em out with little pain and with short labors (she delivered J at home because it went so quick she didn’t have time to get to the hospital). Maybe you’ll have inherited that from our side of the family? Did your Mom ever talk about her pregnancies and deliveries?

How’s school?  Does it seem weird to be going to classes pregnant?  Also “in the old days” they made girls quit high school when they got pregnant. You couldn’t attend classes when you started to show (or when the gym teacher found out - they used to track our periods in gym class in order to figure out when one of us got pregnant).  I was in college, trying to major in art, when I was pregnant.  People really thought it was weird that I was still taking classes. One professor actually asked me why I was still enrolled.  It really pissed me off - I remember answering, “What else am I supposed to do?”  It just never occurred to me to live my life any differently than I had been. People can be so mean, you know?

Here’s the advice part of the letter (warning, I’m not a normal person - so please just humor me):

Yeah, well, life can be pretty @#*! hard, especially when you don’t have a lot of money.  It’s the nature of “Life” to take it’s best shot from time-to-time - sometimes hitting you square in the face. The really special people in this world seem to be the ones who are strong enough to take it on the chin, pick themselves up and keep on trying to do their best. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a pro-boxing match on TV - I love boxing. I think it symbolizes a whole lot about the way reality is for working class people. I really love that “down but not out” stuff.  And even when someone doesn’t win, if they fight with A LOT OF HEART, they still earn the respect and admiration of the audience. It‘s really all about the effort - not the result. I see you as having a lot of heart.  I’m in awe of the things you’re doing right now to keep yourself afloat. What an enormous effort it must be to try to get through school this year, and to provide a safe, healthy environment for yourself while you’re pregnant. I think you must be pretty wonderful.

And on top of all that, you’re also faced with some major real-life decisions. I’m glad to hear that people are giving you a lot of time and space to make the decision about the baby. That’s important.  Because (as you’ve figured out by now) once we get pregnant, women are faced with those three scary choices:  abort the fetus, allow the pregnancy to go full term and keep the baby, or give the baby to someone else to raise. Realistically, each one of those decisions will bring you physical and emotional pain at some definable point in time.  Each decision becomes a path your life will take forever.  Any one of those choices will probably bring you additional emotional pain further down the line. That’s just the way it is, but the fact that each is a hard choice makes them all equal in some ways.  Of course, each choice will bring you moments of great happiness in the future, as well.  Consequently, I don’t think any one of them is a bad decision. They’re all good choices to make, depending on who you are, what you want from your life, and what you feel you can handle.  Emotional pain isn’t the end of the world. When you have a lot of heart (which you do) and are a strong woman (which I think you will become) - you can handle emotional pain. It can shape you for the good, or for the bad - depending on who you are, and how you approach it. 

Independent of the pregnancy, what do you want to do with your life, by the way? What were your plans for after graduation before you found out you were pregnant?

Please write and let Uncle T and me know how you’re doing.  We care about you, and we’re concerned about your current situation.  And, of course, we wish you the absolute best.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Guess which charming Florida retirees are going to become great-grandparents at the end of this year?  Yahooooooo.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

7 Hours

We took care of our 7-year old grandson, N, for 7 hours the other day. Here's what we did:
  • Made weapons out of Tinker Toys.
  • Grandma and N made corn muffins.
  • Had epic fight with Tinker Toy swords. N won.
  • Grandpa and N found an undiscovered Easter egg in the yard. It had 4 dimes in it - yay!
  • We all went for a swim.
  • Grandma and N tried to push Grandpa off his floatie.
  • Played Marco Polo in water.
  • Played keep-away in the water.
  • N picked vegetables.
  • N took a bath. Grandma and N squabbled over how high the bath water should be. Grandma won.
  • Grandma and N watched an episode of Sponge Bob.  Grandpa disappeared.
  • N played with small cars while watching Sponge Bob. Grandma disappeared.
  • N realized G&G weren't in room and bellowed for us to come back. We complied.
  • Tried to find a board game to play. Couldn't agree.
  • Blew up balloons and instead of tying them off, let them go all over the house.
  • Grandpa wouldn't play hide and seek. N called him a "party ruiner." Grandpa was not ashamed.
  • N played computer games, Grandma snuck out of computer room. N didn't notice.
  • Break time for G&G while N played with small cars.
  • Drove downtown to eat.
  • Grandma and N raced from the parking lot to the restaurant trying to beat Grandpa there. N won,
  • Drew silly and unflattering pictures of each other.
  • Worked on activity workbook and ate.
  • Walked to the pavilion and waited until someone occupying one of the 4 swings left.
  • N threw pennies in fountain.
  • Two people left and we got their swing!
  • N pushed G&G frightfully high on the swing.
  • N joined us on the swing, complaining we didn't swing high enough.
  • Took turns jumping off the swing. Ouch. (Note to self, getting too old to jump off swings.)
  • Grandma and N raced to the car, got in, slumped down and "surprised" Grandpa when he arrived.
  • Went for ice cream.  
  • Took N to his house and waited for his parents.
  • N played Minion's Rush on Grandma's iphone.
  • N and Grandma played with magnetic tiles. 
  • N said "Isn't this great?"  I asked "What?" He replied,"You, me, Grandpa, here. This."
  • N's parents came home and G&G skedaddled. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Retirees dream of past workplaces

I had an unsettling dream last night. In it I was recalled from the comfortable peace of retirement to return to my old job to stage an important event for the department. I did a bad job of it. Yes, it was a nightmare.

The Associate Dean of Administration, my former mentor, showed up for this dream event. She angrily asked why I hadn't arranged for a specific faculty member to be there to hand out awards to graduate students. I replied, "I don't care." Sheesh. I was always defiant, but this reply takes the cake. Later in the dream I remembered that the particular professor she asked about died last weekend (in real life), but it was too late to undo the damage my flippant statement made. The AD of A was red-faced furious and ever so done with me. That still hurts.

My "dream" staff (consisting of co-workers from a couple of different actual real jobs) were disgusted with me.  I tried to apologize to them, and closed my eyes for a few moments as I spoke deep from my heart about all my faults. When I was done, I realized the staff members left. They never heard my apologies because they didn't care what I had to say.

My dear friend, the Director of Human Resources (D of HR) for the college, tried to intervene and save me. Bless her sweet heart, I do so love that woman. She lined up an interview with another department. I tried to tell her I was retired, and had earned the maximum work income Social Security would allow this year, but she insisted I must redeem myself. I was freaked out about losing Social Security income for the rest of this year AND had interview anxiety.  Aaack.

I forgot the exact time she had scheduled the interview for. My cell phone was dead. I had to call the D of HR on a public phone. Yes, there was still a public phone box in my dream reality, and it was free! I didn't have to dial. I simply screamed into the phone and she answered. It was also more of a perforated disk than any public phone I've ever seen, but I digress. She said the interview was in a half hour and I needed to get there right away. She would meet me and go through the interview with me (unheard of in reality, but much appreciated in dream-time). 

Unfortunately there was a flood I had to wade through on my way to the building. It slowed me down. I was afraid I wouldn't make it in time. When I finally arrived at the building I couldn't find the room. The D of HR found me wandering the halls and helped me find the room. 

Then I woke up.

I am thankful I didn't have to go through that interview.  I would have screwed that up, too.

This is an actual gargoyle from outside one of the buildings I used to work in

Friday, April 19, 2019

Vulcans and Klingons

I've said this before, and I guess I'm gonna have to say it again. My side of the family are like Klingons. This my husband and I agree on, with great pleasure and deep appreciation. I know without a doubt that should you mess with one of my siblings, they will rip your heart out with their (sharpened) teeth. My sibs think of me as the soft one, the weak one. This I know, too. Perhaps I am. Maybe not. What if I am just the quiet one? These things are all relative, you know.

My husband's family are like Vulcans. They are quiet and measured. Logic rules over the heart. If you mess with them, you might think you won; however, you will never know the jokes and disdain that will follow you for the rest of your life.

Here is the basic difference between our families. Klingons want you to know you've been destroyed. That's the be all and the end all. In T's family, the villain's awareness of their own destruction doesn't matter. Vulcans are not threatened by the continued existence of their vanquished and diminished enemies. What the miscreant thinks isn't important, and his/her awareness is inconsequential. It is an interesting difference, don't you think? 

We have tempered and changed each other over the years. I no longer walk up to strangers and tell them I like their hair. I rarely jump up from my airline seat to scream at the person behind me for kicking my seat. He has learned to apologize and works hard on the empathy thing. This is the truth: together we are better than we are apart. 

I still can't walk away from a fight, but I am now self-aware enough to wish I could.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


We've been entertaining guests this past week, so I am kind of preoccupied with sun and fun.  Let me entertain you with some of the sights we have shown our visitors from the frozen northlands:

I had no idea I was going to catch this turtle at this happy moment.  So cute.

Taking it easy on Cocoa Beach

N with a water pistol in the pool.  Watch out.

HUGE freakin' gator at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Elegant and fashionable Snowy Egret


Jumping the waves at Cocoa Beach