Since Halloween is approaching, I thought I would use this opportunity to tell you a tale of terror that happened at my house recently.

I have always been an animal-lover. As I have discussed in the past, I have spent a lot of money to hold and touch a wide variety of animals. I enjoy visits to animal sanctuaries and zoos. I have owned cats, dogs, fish, and hamsters. To cut to the chase, I paid $100 every couple of weeks for over a year for my dog to get acupuncture treatments. That goes to show you how devoted I can be to Mother Nature’s furry friends.

Something happened recently, however, that makes me question this worldview. A rat moved into my garage.

Let me fill you in on a little of my rodent-related backstory. When I was a little girl in New York, before we moved to California when I was five, we lived next door to a vacant lot. One day, I was playing on the patio, crawling around a bamboo screen that divided the space and held up a ramada. I was enjoying myself and giggling. I think I was pretending I was invisible. I obviously was not paying too much attention to my surroundings. Before I knew it, I placed my hand on a dead rat. I went into full hysteria mode. I screamed and sobbed and could not get my breathe. I also do not remember my parents being particularly sympathetic. Maybe they were just trying to shock me into calmness, like when someone in a movie is screaming and another character slaps her. I do remember them chiding me and telling me that was what I got for crawling around someplace I did not belong.

Their response did not exactly have the desired effect. Yes, I stopped screaming in the moment, but I never stopped being afraid of rats. In fact, my fear grew and became more specific as time passed. I narrowed in on the long, scaly tail. So, you see, my terror was not rodent-related. I was able to happily manage a hamster. It was tail-related. The rat day-mare memory morphed into a fear of any animal with that kind of tail- a rat, a mouse, an opossum, an armadillo. Please do not wrack your brain to come up with any other such animals. I am not sure my constitution can take it.

A couple of weeks ago, Max noticed debris on the floor in front of our washer and dryer. He swept it up, but it was back the next day. Later that night, he went out to the garage and noticed there was a huge pool of liquid on top of the washing machine. We cleaned it up, confused as to what could have caused it. The next day, the same thing happened. Since this was becoming a recurrent theme in our home, we did a little more digging. We found out several exceptionally large holes gnawed into the plastic bottles of iced tea and soda stored on a shelf above the washer and dryer. As much as I did not want it to, the idea that something (probably something with one of those terrifying tales) was in our garage sucking down my beverage supply crept into my brain. As that kernel of an idea grew bigger and bigger, I panicked. I began to shudder and cry. I raced into the bathroom to be sick.

In horror, I remembered the last garbage pick-up day in our development. As I dragged our large trash bin back into the garage, I noticed a hole on the top lid. At the time, I thought the waste disposal folks had just damaged the bin with the lifter-upper equipment they use. Now, it was beginning to occur to me that I might have transported a creature (one with a large and powerful mouth) into my home.

I called a critter control company and the owner blithely told me we had rats. Plural. Terrific, I replied. He chuckled and explained that almost no one had one rat. He also said they were the smartest animal in the South. Apparently, our particular rat was the smartest animal in the South, including me. I had been facing growing indications of a rat renter (who did not pay rent!) for at least a week without it ever occurring to me that

I was housing one of the scaly-tailed monsters.

I took a deep breath, scooted into my car, and pulled the vehicle out into the driveway. After that, I refused to go into the garage for any reason. Max was terrific. He did the laundry. He shadowed the Pied Piper of Central Florida who came to address the problem. He took the trash out. He checked the rat traps every day. He took the photo of the rat. He bagged the deceased beast and threw him in a dumpster behind the gas station. I was having none of it. I was the Vichy government of rat tyranny. I was terrified. Max, on the other hand, was the rat resistance. He was super-pissed at that rat.

The good news is that there was only one rat. Luckily, because of the sequence of events and the extent of the debris, Mr. Pied Piper confirmed that our rat was a lone wolf… or lone rodent. Setting the traps remedied the problem within a few days. The rat is no longer suffering in this life. I should feel bad about that, but I DO NOT.

The bad news is that, after the rat was dispatched, we were having our attic reinsulated because, apparently, the house did have rats once upon a time long before it had us. Things were a bit of an ancient shitstorm up there. Blessedly, this work was to be done the week I was going to be out of town on a girls’ trip with friends. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Both partners in the critter control business contracted COVID, probably before they came and breathed on us. I had spent very little time with them, so I probably was not at any risk. Max, however, had walked the grounds with them, so there I was quite concerned about the possibility that he would develop COVID. HE did not, so that was a huge relief. At the same time, the company that was supposed to redo the attic had difficulty with their equipment and they postponed our appointment at least twice. I was nauseous the entire time there was any rat-related tasks hanging over my head. Max flew into a higher gear than I knew he had to get it done while I was out of the house because he loves me. Also, I figure he believed I would go berserk and end up in a padded room if the rat tale got extended much longer.

We are now rat-free and have a brand-new attic. The air is fresher, and I am sure we are in a healthier environment. At least, I hope we are because it cost a lot of money to remove the rat juju. It almost didn’t matter how much it cost. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Is there something that freaks you out? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a rat-free Halloween!

Terri/Dorry 😊


They say wisdom comes with age. I do not know if that is true. I seem to keep getting older, but I am not so sure I am getting any wiser. I would love to be able to understand myself, the world, and the world’s reaction to me with much more wisdom than I have accumulated over the past 62 years. When I was a little girl asking questions about God, faith, and life, I remember being told (probably more often than was theologically necessary) that the answer to my question was that “it” was one of the great mysteries of the Catholic faith. Maybe all these things that I struggle to understand now are also some of those great mysteries. I do not know. Nothing has happened so far to stop me trying to figure them out, though.

My birthday was the latest in this long string of “bigger thinks than my mind can manage.”  I had the most wonderful birthday ever. I did not have a lot of plans. Max and I were scheduled to go to Disney Springs for a meal at The Boathouse. We were just going to wander around, get some exercise, shop a bit, and try to score some Walt Disney World 50th anniversary merch. While this sounded like a very pleasant day, there was nothing super “birthday” about it. Our plans were similar to outings we do several times a year.

What really flipped the script, however, was the overwhelming tidal wave of affection I received from people all over the world. I am not sure what prompted such attention. Maybe it was because the last blog I published was about how I love my birthday as an opportunity to celebrate me. I had texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, cards, and presents all day long. It was not just that I received the “happy birthday” greetings. Most of the greetings were heartfelt, specific, loving, and hyperbolic in their effusiveness. I have been going through a rough patch recently, as I alluded to in my Birthdays post. I am being courageous as I navigate the crap in my cranium. I am making good progress in figuring it all out and banishing the demons… maybe for good this time. Still, it is exhausting, painful effort. The special, super-duper birthday love made such a difference. It infused me with purpose and belief in my own worth.

My peeps- including you all- are nothing short of miraculous.

I am so deeply grateful for this wonderful birthday gift, but I have to say that I am completely bewildered by it. I honestly do not understand what prompts all this emotion fixed on me. I absolutely appreciate it- maybe even need (don’t tell anybody I said that) it- but I do not understand what it is about me that motivates it. I know this positive outpouring is genuine. People wanted me to feel loved and special because they honestly believe that I am loved and special. The messages were too sincere and specific for me to think people were just being polite.

I truly believe I am nothing special, except in the way that everyone is unique and precious in God’s eyes. I feel like I have managed to fool a large number of people into believing I am something that I absolutely am not. I feel a little guilty and, also, scared. Someday, the people I have been fooling will figure out that I have duped them, no matter how inadvertently. They will remove their love, support, and respect. I will be alone with myself, exposed and ashamed. This world of love, kindness, and support that you wonderful people have created for me is an emotional Garden of Eden. Once you find out that I am not who you think I am, I will be expelled into the cruel, cold, fallen desert that is my psyche.

Yes, I am laying it on all a bit thick, but the idea is there. I wish that I had the wisdom to understand what about me is lovable. On the other hand, perhaps it is enough for now to simply believe that I am lovable. Is lovable, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? And, even if I one day find myself bereft of love and support from the world, I must remember that God’s love will always be there. Even when He removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, He kept them safe in His merciful Providence.

What about you do you think people like most? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a lovable day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

See Ya Real Soon!

I cannot let another week go by without acknowledging the 50th birthday of Walt Disney World. On October 1, 2021, a baby laughed, and my happy place was born. Oh no, wait, that is what happens when fairies are born.

Well, whatever, Walt Disney World opened its gates on October 1, 1971. I was just 12 years old. Because I lived in California (Anaheim- Disneyland’s hometown- as a matter of fact,) my family saw no great need to sojourn across the country to a swamp in central Florida to visit the new House of Mouse. In fact, there was always a certain, imperceptible disdain for Disney World amongst us original Californian Mouseketeers. We had the “real thing.”  Why would we want to go to the eastern imitation?

At least, that was my parents’ take on things. I think, deep down, I really wanted to see Disney World for myself. When I was in my twenties, my New Yorker aunt and uncle bought a mobile home in central Florida and began to winter in a town about an hour from Disney World. At that time, Disney World only included two parks- Magic Kingdom and Epcot. I went to visit my aunt and my uncle and, nonchalantly (not really) also went to visit Disney World.

I did enjoy the trip very much. I agreed with the party line in my house that the Florida Magic Kingdom was not quite as good as Disneyland in California. Epcot, on the other hand, was so wonderful. I also loved the Lake Buena Vista shopping area. It was not a perfect trip by a longshot. My aunt and uncle were not superfans. We did not eat at any of the restaurants or stay to watch nighttime fireworks and shows. I had brought $200 worth of cash with me (remember, it was the eighties and I was poor. Two hundred dollars was a veritable fortune to me). I remember hiding it somewhere safe. Unfortunately, that was as much as I did remember. Where that something safe was did not make it to the long-term memory banks. My aunt and uncle were fine lending me whatever money I needed or wanted, but every time I drew from that loan account, my aunt made a notation in her ledger (yes, an actual ledger). As a result, I was very aware of the money issue and ended up scrimping on everything. If I did not absolutely NEED it, I did not want to impose on my aunt and uncle. Luckily, I did finally end up finding the money in the airport on the way home, hidden safely away in an eyeglass case.

So, with this background, you will understand when I say that I finished my trip to Disney World with a sense that something was missing. It was a nagging feeling that I missed something. It was not FOMO (fear of missing out.) It was COMO (certainty of missing out.)  I knew my experience, while very fun, was not the experience it could have been.

Shortly after my trip, I began the descent into darkness into my marriage and divorce. Life happened personally and professionally. Other trips, expenses, experiences took precedence over my desire to take an “all in” Disney Vacation. I visited Disneyland and, later, California Adventure at least once a year. I watched all the television specials about the expansion of the Walt Disney World experience with longing but did not do anything about that longing for many, many years.

Finally, in 2003, Max and I made our first trip to Walt Disney World. It was supposed to be our “once in a lifetime” trip. We spared no expense. If we wanted to do something extra, we did it… a character breakfast, a horse and carriage ride in Port Orleans, a hotel with a phenomenal water recreation area. We planned every detail. I obsessed about doing it “right” and not missing anything important. I think the only reason I survived that planning process was that I had a friend who had just spent a couple of weeks on Disney Property when I started the planning process. It was calming to tell her what was going through my head and validate whether my thought process would line up with reality. I made such a big deal over this trip; I became almost convinced that there was no way it could live up to all my self-induced hype.

It did. And more. I cannot describe the feelings that I experienced on that trip. It was nostalgia over a place I had never been. It was a childhood I never allowed myself to have. It was a brainstorming board of exquisite creativity. It was a glitz-a-thon beauty pageant for the senses. All of the feels I had every time I went to Disneyland came rushing over me in some super-sized fashion. The tears fell down my face. My heart expanded throughout my body, settling in an awkward yet familiar place around my appendix. I know Disney pumps in various fragrances to give guests the sense that they can smell comforting aromas like chocolate chip cookies baking. Part of my brain (the part that was not impaired by joy drunkenness) wondered if they were also pumping in some nitrous oxide variant.

After our “once in a lifetime” trip, we made four more trips from California to the Most Magical Place on Earth. On the last trip, in 2012, I bought a very special souvenir. Some people buy t-shirts. I bought a house. When I retired in 2014, Max and I pulled up stakes and moved to Florida. Mickey and his friends are now our neighbors. We visit them often with our Florida resident weekday passes. I know that Disney World has enriched me in many ways. My spirit is always rejuvenated by a day at Disney. My heart is always more hopeful. My mind is more carefree. There is nothing I do not like about going to Disney World- except maybe the trip from the parking lot to the Magic Kingdom. Really, the imagineers knew enough in California not to build a huge moat around the main attraction! Ferry rides aside, Disney World has certainly enriched me. I am also certain that I have enriched Disney. The Disney Corporation leaders are no fools. They sell me a ridiculously cheap annual pass, which is in essence a license to purchase. I have way more than my share of Disney swag.

At any rate, I have to say, “Happy Birthday, Disney World!”  And many more!

Who else out there is a Disnerd? Any noteworthy experiences from the 50th birthday celebration? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a magical day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂