It’s Twizzling

It has rained 47 of the last 52 days.  People have been sounding the alarm about possible drought for the past year.  I think we are past the danger.  All I know is that, if anyone starts yammering about “drought” right now, they will be drowned by the rain falling into their open mouths.

Before I run down to the shipyard to get the ark out of dry dock, let me put this soggy statistic in perspective.  Yes, the rain seems relentless, but it isn’t quite so dramatic as it might sound.  “Rain” can be anything from twenty minutes of the sky sweating around twilight to overpowering thunderstorms of Armageddon proportions.  It can be hours of pounding, blinding swirling walls of water that make you feel like you have been caught in a clothes washer. On the other hand, it can be a light, refreshing shower that is a blessed relief from the oppressive, humid heat that has boiled the day away.

It is hard to plan anything around the weather in the summer in Florida.  Clearly, people cannot stop their daily activities because the forecast calls for the ubiquitous “rain.”  Since the prediction calls for at least a 60% chance of rain almost every day and history shows that it actually does rain on far more than 60% of days, we would all have to zip-lock ourselves into our self-contained, air-conditioned houses if we are determined to avoid “rain.”  We have to be a little more creative if we want to strike a balance between hermetically sealed and waterlogged.

For one thing, savvy Floridians don’t just check the day-to-day forecast when making plans.  Our weather reporters give updates on the exact time they expect rain to hit specific city neighborhoods.  They are amazingly accurate.  We are also pretty sophisticated users.  It is commonplace to see people at Disney World huddled under canopies during rainstorms, feverishly working their phones to track the precipitation minute-by-minute to determine when they should make a dash for the Space Mountain line.

The real problem is beyond the timing issue.  It is that the word “rain” is just so ambiguous. They say the peoples of the frozen north have dozens or even hundreds of words for snow.  People who live in central Florida should have at least that many words  for rain. It would make it so much easier to plan my activities if I knew just how intrusive the day’s particular rain is expected to be. I’d like to propose a few new vocabulary words to help clarify the peskiness level of rain.

Twizzling– This is the soft, warm rain that falls like the sun nearly every night around twilight.  If you are inside, you might not even realize it is raining.  If you are outside, it takes a minute to realize that the moisture you feel is actually droplets of precipitation, as opposed to the sweat that has been gathering on your skin all freakin’ day.  Twizzling is good.  No significant peskiness quotient at all, unless you just washed your car.  And if you did just wash your car, what were you thinking?

Soggifying– This rain is prolonged and intermittent.  It isn’t hard enough to impair visibility.  It doesn’t involve ferocious wind or chilly drenching. Still, if you go out in the soggify, you are going to be uncomfortable unless you can hide under an umbrella. You usually can’t wait it out because it may go on for hours.  It is sneaky, too. It may seem like it is over, but will start up again twenty minutes after clearing.  Super high peskiness factor.   There is just no getting around it.  Soggifying will pretty much put a crimp in any plans that don’t involve just staying home.

Tantraining­– The skies darken menacingly and thunder booms alarmingly.  It seems to come from nothing and looks a lot scarier than it is.  There may be a few flashes of lightning, culminating in a short, feverish burst of angry rain.  The whole thing reminds me of a toddler throwing a hissy fit…loud, explosive, and over as suddenly as it began.  Tantraining is pesky while it is happening, but is usually over within 30 minutes.

Stealthsoaking- This is the “Camelot” version of rain… it never falls till after sundown and by eight am the morning dew must disappear.  Many nights, the skies open gently and a slow, steady rain waters the earth while most of us are sleeping. It is the sort of rain that would cause Lerner and Loewe to suggest that there is simply not a more congenial spot for happilyeveraftering than central Florida. Stealthsoaking is a pretty darn convenient kind of rain with a low peskiness quotient… unless you work the swing shift or engage in midnight gardening activities.

Thunderwowers– These are the terrible, wrathful thunderstorms that make the earth slosh.  They feel as though they are never going to stop.  The sound of the thunder makes you think that you have happened into a time warp and World War I is still under way except that they didn’t fight World War I underwater.  The rain is so thick and choppy, driving becomes more of an adventure than it should be.  You can’t see what is in front of you, but can’t pull off to the side of the road to wait for a break in the storm because you can’t see what is on the side of you either.

I think that adding these words to our weather language would help meteorologists be a lot more specific in reporting the rain forecast.  I’d like to champion their inclusion, but I’m not sure where to go to propose them.  Apparently, everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it!

What is the wackiest weather you have ever experienced?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Stay dry!

Terri 🙂



A Piece Of Your Mind

I love it when readers comment.  It is absolutely exhilarating to have empirical evidence that someone out there is actually reading.  Also, I learn a lot from the various points of view expressed in the comments and emails I receive.  It is one of the best feelings ever.

I remember the first comment I saw.  It was from someone I knew in my work life who I valued a great deal, but didn’t really expect to hear from after I stopped working.  In retrospect, I should have known she would respond when I sent my initial email to the chosen few I invited to read my blog.  I chose the “chosen few” based on how much I trusted their courtesy and graciousness.  I couldn’t bear to start my blogging career to the sounds of silence.

Then there was the first real comment I had from someone I did not already know.  That was pretty amazing.  The idea that folks who I could not manipulate with guilt honed from years of prior relationship would read my blog and be moved to engage with me pretty much rocked my world.

Since then, I have enjoyed the camaraderie developed through the blogging repartee.  It expands my mind and heart to get the perspectives of others.  We often agree and build a richer recipe of thought when we collaborate on ideas.  When we don’t agree, I always appreciate hearing the music of someone else’s mind…. especially when that someone has obviously thought and felt enough about the subject to actually respond to a blog post.  I have been so touched and strengthened by the wave of caring and support that readers have pushed my way since my mother’s stroke.  One of the many unexpected blessings I’ve found in writing the blog has been this infusion of fortitude that comes from you all.

Of course, not all comments are created equal. When I first started, I received these enticingly flattering comments that seemed just a bit, well, off.  They seemed to come from all over the world. The diction and syntax were bizarre, to say the least. Still, it seemed kind of snobbish to dismiss the comments just because the English was poor.   I had read about spam commenters, but I wasn’t sure these were spammers.  There was nothing in the comments themselves mentioning products or services.  When I clicked on the URLs they provided, I still wasn’t clear about any nefarious motive for the commenting.  I tried emailing some of these commenters and it turned out that the email addresses were invalid.  I did some internet surfing to try to figure out what it all meant.  It turned out that they were, indeed, spam comments.  The key factors were the bad email addresses and the fact that the comments were exceptionally generic.  The likely culprits were sketchy Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies that have ways of mass commenting to get their clients’ website links out into the blogosphere, thus increasing clicks to the client websites.  Even after learning that these blog responses were bogus, it was still traumatic to actually delete such glowingly complimentary words.  It felt so ungracious and I kept wondering if they were really spam.  To soothe my wounded politeness gene, I installed a plug-in program to identify the spam for me.

I went along, quite merrily, for some time with these generic, benign kinds of spam comments promoting SEO clients.  They were kind of a learning tool for me.  In trying to figure out what was going on, I learned a lot about how the SEO process works.  I couldn’t explain it in technical terms, but I think I did gain a general understanding of the concept.  Occasionally, something a little uglier came in, but I didn’t obsess over it because the spam program identified it as impersonal and meaningless.

Then the porn spam started. It took about a year for it to kick in and I’m not sure why.  I think it must have had something to do with my innocent use of the word “sod” in my piece called A Sod, Sod, Story.  Apparently, the word triggers connotations beyond “lawn” in some circles.  Almost all the porn comments I received were on that piece and appeared long, long, long after I posted it.  Luckily, the spam program ensnared them before publication and sent them to me to review.  After a few weeks of being treated to snippets of salaciousness in my blog’s spam box, I solved the problem by closing comments on postings after a specific period of time.  That made the problem a self-limiting condition.  I don’t think I’ll be including the word “sod” in any future blog titles.

A few overly enthusiastic SEO agents and purveyors of pornography aside, comments are wonderful.  Every week, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.  It is interesting to see which topics inspire the most reader response and activity.  Please continue to share your perspectives.  Please keep giving me your two cents worth.  To me, your two cents are worth a million dollars!

I hope it doesn’t seem greedy to ask for comments about… well… comments.  What motivates you to comment on a blog post?  Are there any reader comments that have struck a particular chord for you?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a chatty day!

Terri 🙂

I’m Afraid Of The Dark

You may have noticed that I rarely publish serious, high-minded posts more than a couple of weeks in a row. I tend to be a bit mercurial in deciding on blog topics. I go from light-hearted to serious to practical fairly regularly.

It isn’t that I have the attention span of the common house fly. I mean, I do have the attention span of the common house fly, but it isn’t just that.

I’ve always been afraid of the dark. I slept with a nightlight well into adulthood.  I literally see things in the blackness of the night.  As a child, no one could convince me that there was nothing scary in my closet (except for a mess) or under my bed.  You would think I would have outgrown those fears by now.  I probably have.  I honestly don’t believe there are monsters in the closet or that there are ghoulies and ghosties and three-legged beasties under my bed.  I think it is just that my imagination is so powerful that what my mind perceives overlays what my eyes see. Sometimes, the correlation with reality is pretty clear.  Through the dark, I saw snakes on the floor of my bedroom the night after the snake invasion in the garage.  Other times, the connection between my thoughts and what I see in the dark is more obscure.  In the dark, my thoughts can be complex and unconstrained by reason.  Such brain processes create ideal conditions for my mind to manufacture some pretty abstract monsters.

Exploring the dark places of my mind is way scarier than anything that could ever actually be lurking under my bed. People talk about “grey matter,” but my brain sometimes seems to be rather more black then grey. I often seem to stumble over the least pleasant parts of my personality when I go routing around in that blackness.

The dark is always there. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, though…monsters in the closet notwithstanding. There are actually some benefits to spelunking around in the darkness of my brain. If I never explore the more hidden parts of myself, I am unlikely to grow and improve. In excavating through the darkness, I sometimes run across hidden ideas that help me start to solve difficult problems that deeply trouble me.  I am sometimes able to find interesting mental artifacts that help me cope and improve my life.  These nuggets of solutions can get obscured when competing with all the stimulation of the light of day.  Sometimes, I need to explore the dark to find what I need to make things better in the light.

I suppose the real key to living a thoughtful life is to live in a balance between both dark and light.  We need to be brave in the dark and revel in the light.   There is some weird physiology that lets us see better in the dark once our eyes have been exposed to some light. I think it is the same with the heart and mind.  A little laughter and light helps your heart and your mind cope with the darker places. It also helps us see the valuable lessons we can find in the dark.

So there we have it.  Confronting the dark can be a good thing.  On the other hand, if I hang out in the dark too long, I am apt to trip over something scary.  That’s why I hustle back to light-heartedness with my blog posts after a few weeks of serious introspection. But maybe I shouldn’t be all that afraid of the dark. Anything lurking there in the dark is also there in the light. As counterintuitive as it sounds, I guess some things are just easier to see in the dark than in the light.

What do you think?  Do you tend to find “buried treasure” when you explore the darker corners of your mind?  Or do you just tend to trip over things that go bump in the night?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at

Hope you don’t have a scary day!

Terri 🙂


How Are You, Really?

If people realized how dangerous that question is, I think they would stop asking it.

Ever since my mother’s stroke, I have struggled with how to respond when people inquire after her health and my emotional state. These dear, kind, lovely people are genuine in their desire to express concern and offer support. I don’t know what I would do if no one asked.  The support of others may be the only thing that is getting me through this challenging time.  On the other hand, I don’t seem to know how much to say.  I’m okay at responding quickly and generally when someone politely asks how she is doing. It is when they follow-up with a subsequent, probing question about how I am “really” handling it that I have the problem.

On one hand, I want to tell them. Oh, how I want to tell them! There is a huge reservoir of unexpressed thoughts and feelings living in my mind that constantly threatens to breech the levy of my composure. On the other hand, I don’t want to a be an emotional drain or a tedious attention-guzzler. I don’t want to be someone who can bring nothing to the relationship table except her brokenness. I have been that person and I hate myself when I am so pitiful. I also don’t want to be crying in public all the time, as I am wont to do when I start allowing all those thoughts and feelings to creep over the dam. Crying is not my best look and I seem physically unable to control it.

I am always resolving not to take the bait the next time someone asks me how I am, really. I’m afraid I usually fail. When someone asks probing questions, I tend to reward their kind concern by vomiting out a string of words, words, and more words, punctuated by awkward pauses and wrapped in weird syntax. The friend who has asked the question tends to look engaged and concerned at first. As the words keep coming, the friend’s eyes tend to go somewhat blank. Finally, when it is clear that I am either going to have to stop talking to take a breath or lose consciousness, I notice the friend’s eyes darting around in a panic, searching for an escape route.

I am pretty sure that the long outpouring of words is rarely lucid. I know it does not accurately describe what is going on in my heart and mind. That may be why I keep talking and the words keep coming out. I guess I figure that, if I say enough words, I’ll utter some that will actually reflect what I’m feeling.

It isn’t like writing. When I write about how I am doing, I can write all the words I want without burdening anyone. I can reread all those words I have written and focus on the few that actually ring true. I can highlight those genuine nuggets and expound on them, while excising all the words that seem unauthentic or unhelpful. On the other hand, when I’m in a live conversation, all those words just lie there between me and the other person. They litter up the personal space and often create a barrier between us. Once I’ve said them, I can’t edit them or “unsay” them. I think that is one of the reasons I have a hard time sleeping at night. I tend to replay past conversations, editing them in my head. I will surely be prepared for the next time that exact same situation occurs and requires a better version of the exact same conversation. I also anticipate future conversations, writing the script for what I should say when the time comes. Of course, since no one else gets a copy of the script, it may be a little bit difficult for me to say my lines without the other players giving me the right cues.

The other day at the nursing facility, one of the hospice nurses asked me how I was doing. I responded by saying I was okay, as well as could be expected. She asked again and I responded similarly. I was hoping she’d stop that particular line of questioning, but she just kept standing there, staring me in the eye, saying nothing. I’ve always known that a person who is comfortable living in the awkward silences of a conversation is a person is who is likely to get the information she seeks. It is a technique I employed often in my working life. My familiarity with the strategy didn’t help me in this situation, though. The hospice nurse didn’t have to live in an awkward silence very long at all before words started stumbling out of my mouth. I don’t even know why or what I was saying. I just had to talk.

The hospice chaplain saw what was going on, because there is basically no place that is private in a nursing home. He hustled over to hug me and add his voice to the “how are you doing, really?” chorus. Trying to stop the flow of tears that inevitably accompanies the flow of verbiage, I started babbling about completely unrelated subjects. The nurse and chaplain seemed to find the whole exchange pretty alarming.  They kept suggesting I needed to get away from it all much sooner than a trip I was toying with taking in September. They also thought I should do relaxation exercises, ask for help, and remember to put on my own oxygen mask before assisting others. This required even more words to convince them that I am doing things to take care of myself and actually feel like I’m approaching the situation in as healthy a way as I can muster. It is just a sad, exhausting situation, even if you do all the right things. And I come from a long line of easy criers.

Despite all the words, I don’t think I convinced them.

Do you have difficulty responding when people show concern for you during difficult times? How do you reply?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at 

Have a FINE day!

Terri 🙂