Those of you who have been following along with me know that I have something of a Disney obsession. I am not as freakish about it as some people, but I am sure I am in the upper tenth percentile on the spectrum. That obsession extends to Disney merch. I say that part of my Disney obsession comes from my childhood- my parents called me Tinker Bell from birth, and they moved to Anaheim (three miles from California’s Disneyland) before I turned six. I did not have a chance of a normal, healthy relationship to the House of Mouse. On the other hand, purchasing t-shirts, mouse ears, hats, memorabilia, and other souvenir stuff was not part of the program when I was a child. Clearly, something was missing from my childhood Disney experience because it is difficult for me to spend a day at Disney now without coming home with some new over-priced and over-branded item that I do not need.

Lately, I have been trying to be a little more discriminating about what I buy. I have plenty of stuff. I have too much plenty of stuff. My criteria for pulling out my credit card now is a bit more stringent. I can’t just like something anymore. I must love it… whatever “it” is.

Disney makes a ton of money from their version of planned obsolescence. Since what they are selling is, in large part, nostalgia and memories, it does not behoove them to convince you something you bought last year is obsolete or worthless. Instead, they celebrate what you bought last year as memorabilia and try to convince you to buy another one in the series. Popcorn buckets are the biggest example of this strategy. Disney sells plastic popcorn buckets shaped like various characters costumed in a variety of ways to correspond with their festivals- Christmas, Arts Festival, Flower and Garden, Halloween, etc. When you buy one, it is filled with popcorn. You can refill it for a reduced price throughout the day.

I never really got into the popcorn bucket frenzy. I did buy a popcorn bucket shaped like Mickey Mouse in an elf suit one Christmas season. He sits outside my front door like a little greeter every holiday season now. There are people who buy every new popcorn bucket Disney issues. I think some women use them as purses and have a whole wardrobe of them. I never had any trouble drawing the line at one.

Until this year’s Arts Festival at EPCOT… and there begins the Apopalypse.

This year, the popcorn bucket for the Arts Festival is in the form of Figment. For the uninitiated, Figment is a purple and orange dragon who hosts the “Journey into Your Imagination” ride (“Figment of your imagination… get it?) at EPCOT. He was the first EPCOT-grown character at Disney World. I fell in love with him on my very first trip to Disney World in 1982. I was visiting my aunt and uncle who wintered in central Florida. I was extremely poor at the time but did bring $300 in spending money for the week I was there. Since this was an entire fortune to me at the time, I hid it somewhere safe for the journey. Unfortunately, I hid it somewhere so safe, I could not find it. My aunt tried to get me to stop worrying about it by telling me she would make sure I had whatever I needed, but I felt uncomfortable asking for anything that was not absolutely necessary. I eyed the stuffed Figment in the souvenir shop with lust in my eyes but did not want to impose by asking for extra money to pay for him. Weeks after I returned home, I received a package from my aunt. You guessed it. My aunt sent Figment to come live with me. I still have him. It just hit me that my Figment is forty freakin’ years old!!!!

When the Arts Festival started this year, the news on the street was that you could only get a Figment bucket filled with adorable purple, green, and orange popcorn, at one specific festival food kiosks. Disney further stipulated that they would sell no more than two buckets to each purchaser. Disney made the Figment announcement on a Friday. Max and I had reservations to go the next Wednesday. I knew there was going to be a buying frenzy and a massive wait to purchase one of these little suckers, but I still had hope that I could get one on our Wednesday trip.

As the weekend passed, however, my hopes did fade. I kept reading stories of massive lines and fights breaking out over the popcorn buckets. At one point, people were waiting in line for SIX HOURS to acquire the popcorn bucket. I doubt anyone was waiting in a six-hour line to get a refill of multi-colored popcorn, so these must have been people just trying to get their Figment bucket. People posted pictures on Facebook of purchasers wandering around EPCOT with 6 or 8 of the blasted things swinging around their necks. Although each person could only buy two, it was clear that families were stocking up by purchasing two for each member of their party.

By Monday, Disney was out of Figment buckets. It did not really surprise me, but it did disappoint me that I would not be able to get one on our planned Wednesday trip. I looked online to explore the idea of purchasing one in the secondary market. After all, I doubt that all those people with multiple buckets hanging around their necks intended to keep every one of them for the long haul. I checked eBay. People had the Figment buckets available for sale from about $150 up to about $1000. That would be a hard no from me.

Several weeks later, Disney announced they received another shipment of Figment buckets. I was hoping I might have another chance. This time, they were selling them as a mobile ordering item so that people did not have the amazing opportunity to stand in line, congregate without social distancing, spread their germs, and come to blows with each other like too many rats in a cage.

I made two reservations to go to Epcot that week, but did not go either time because the buckets were sold out within 36 hours. I do not think there will be a third shipment of Figment popcorn buckets because the Festival of the Arts is drawing (drawing… festival of the arts… see what I did there?) to a close. I think I am over it, though. I suppose I really do not need to spend $25 for a junky piece of plastic that, honestly, looks more like an alligator than a purple and orange dragon… even if it is filled with multi-colored popcorn!

What is your favorite souvenir from somewhere you’ve traveled? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a poppin’ good day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

My 40-year-old Figment stuffie!


I am always excited when I see that there are comments on my blog. Sometimes, they are spam or yucky stuff that goes immediately into the trash. I don’t care too much about those because the company that does the web hosting is really good at screening for that kind of thing. Usually, I take no notice. However, I love, love, love getting “real” comments from readers. It helps me remember that there are people out there actually reading what I write and engaging with my work. Thank you all so much for your feedback and thoughts.

Comments tend to travel to me on different avenues. Sometimes, they take the direct route; the reader comments on the blog website. Sometimes, the reader will email me. Sometimes, the reader will leave a comment on my Facebook page when I post that I have published new content. Sometimes, readers that I know IRL will call, text, or talk to me in person. No matter how I get the comments, I am happy to have them.

Recently, I received a comment on the blog in a completely new way. A sweet friend, after reading my two-part blog post detailing my life through flowers, decided to order a book to be sent directly to me. The book is  Flowers Are Forever by Kathy Lamancusa. It is a series of stories and anecdotes, written by people from diverse backgrounds, about how flowers impact their lives. I have flipped through the pages and read a few of the vignettes. They are extremely uplifting and thought-provoking. I look forward to savoring each of the offerings. It also makes me happy that what I wrote reminded a reader of this sweet, lovely, feel-good book. I am sure that my friend had a wonderful, warm experience when she first read the book. I hope my blog brought her back to that precious experience in her memory. Thank you so much, Nancy- my dear, dear friend.

It really is quite a wonderful experience to get comments on the blog. It is a whole new level of wonderful when someone comments on the blog by sending a gift!

They say feedback is a gift. What is the nicest feedback you have ever received and how was it of value to you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Plant a great garden in your heart today!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Heart Health

We often talk about the need to take care of our physical hearts. Our metaphorical hearts are also precious and worthy of care. Our metaphorical hearts might be even more delicate than our physical ones. People have been warning about the need to consider the mental health implications of the global pandemic. The isolation generated by COVID-19 can kill our tender hearts.

The reality of this perspective recently came home to roost in a personal way. Someone important in my life tried to take his own life. He mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing isolation as a key factor in his decision. I have sufficient experience with depression to know that, often, what seems to be the problem is not really the problem… or, at least, is only part of the problem. There are usually many less visible, less obvious, and less one-dimensional factors chewing on the psyche far below the surface. However, if we can identify and address the cause that jumps to the forefront, screaming for attention, we often end up identifying and addressing the more insidious factors as well.

I am glad that I live in Florida. Many people would argue that we Floridians have been irresponsible and cavalier when it comes to addressing the physical pandemic. We were out and about long before most other states. We do not mandate masking in all situations. Our schools and businesses have been open almost continuously after the initial months of the pandemic.

In other states, the concern over physical health caused  people to be socially distant and physically isolated for a year or more. In some locations, the protocols still result in little to no organic human interaction. Certainly, if a person is resilient enough to create opportunities for social connection through alternative technical methods, there are still ways of staying in touch and in relationship with those who feed the soul. Some exceptionally creative people blossomed in a world that needed their energy and expertise. However, no matter what your tolerance is for social distancing and how you coped with it, I  do not think that anything can quite replace human touch.

Also, if a person is suffering already and his psyche is already bruised, it can be more difficult to be creative. When the soul becomes wounded, it leaks positive energy. There is no energy left to learn the new skillsets necessary to create and maintain virtual human relationships. Such alternative methods of interacting require not only technical skills but require different communication skills as well. Expecting someone who is already barely treading emotional water to develop a whole new way of relating to the world is asking a great deal. Some sink under the surface and never reappear.

As our society addressed the pandemic, there seemed to be two schools of thought. In one perspective, the feeling was that we should hunker down and wait it out. We would behave abnormally until normalcy returned. Other people soon decided that we were not going to be able to wait out abnormally. That “stay isolated for two weeks to flatten the curve and defeat the pandemic” clearly did not work. We had no idea how long we were going to have to isolate to “flatten the curve and defeat the pandemic.” We realized our economic stability would not survive such uncertainty. It took a little longer, but we eventually realized our emotional stability would not survive such uncertainty, either.

I heard an interesting statistic in January of 2021. During 2020, 70% of churches had no fellowship, outreach, or ministry except conducting online services. Some were not even able to conduct online services. Surely, if any organization exists to care for the soul and heart, it is the Church. I am happy to be part of a parish that did continue to provide some degree of fellowship, outreach, and ministry even at the height of the pandemic. It was only through the Holy Spirit that our parish was able to transition from virtually no online presence at all to live streaming services and Sunday School. We never missed a Sunday. Many of our ministries and fellowship opportunities continued on Zoom and in socially distanced ways. We even started new ministries and our congregation grew. Our church, established in the 1885, was not exactly cutting edge. Still, we are very blessed to have been able to rocket launch ourselves into the wide world of technology almost immediately. It was a process, but no one died and there was no blood on the floor.

I am not faulting other churches or organizations that did not pivot as quickly. I am certain that part of our perspective was influenced by the fact that the overall societal culture in our state leaned towards figuring out how to live in the pandemic rather than waiting it out. I also believe very strongly that God led our leadership to walk through the pandemic putting one foot in front of the other. As we did things in different ways, we were not always successful. There were missing pieces- often huge, jagged pieces that stuck and hurt. Still, the act of trying went a long way towards our own faith, resiliency, and mission. We did not always tag all the bases, but we tried to at least come up to bat. We succeeded and are maybe even stronger for it. I thank God and everyone who listened to His voice as we continue to navigate our way through the changing parameters of the pandemic.

Many people live in a world that has toppled much more easily during the pandemic. Their hearts are still hurting, and they do not know how to heal. It has been going on so long that their emotional reserves have been conditioned out of existence. Let’s try to behave in a way that hopes and heals, no matter who we encounter in our lives. We do not know what goes on inside the hearts of our fellow travelers. We do not know how badly their hearts hurt. We do not know how vulnerable our neighbors are. For those of us who still have some emotional resilience left, I hope we can take the burden of initiative to bring our brothers and sisters back into connection. We do not know the hope we carry.

Clearly, there is a physical pandemic that cruelly continues to take physical lives. There is also an emotional pandemic that continues to do much damage also, sometimes even taking physical lives. It is a tricky question as to how to balance the physical and emotional pandemic. I do not know the “best” cocktail of isolation and connection to keep the demons of both pandemics in check. I wish I did. No matter what we do, we will not get it right all of the time, but let us try, each in our own way, to mitigate the damage caused by the emotional pandemic. We will not always tag all the bases, but let’s at least come up to bat.

How can you help mitigate the metaphorical heart damage caused by the pandemic? What can you do today to connect with someone who feels alone? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

The Life Cycle Of A Flower- Part 2

Last week, I began a survey of my life, as told through flowers. As I wrote, I was surprised at what a large part flowers played in my childhood. This week, I am continuing the saga of the seed.

Flowers came up again in high school. Our high school girls club used to have a Valentines’ Day sale each year as a fund-raiser. You could buy a carnation to be delivered to another student during class. It was a stressful time for the unpopular. The idea that one might receive a carnation was exciting, but the probability that I would go through the day blossomless created all kinds of angst in my teenage soul. I am sure I am not the only one. It felt bad to go through a class during the appointed time without receiving a carnation. It was such a public display of popularity or lack thereof.

I went through three years of high school dreading Valentines’ Day. Once or twice, I did get a flower from a friend. One year, my mother called the school and arranged to send me a carnation. When the girls’ club member delivered it, people asked who gave it to me. I am sure they were all shocked. I told them it was from a boyfriend at a different school. In retrospect, I doubt I was fooling anyone. In retrospect,  I am also sorry I did not say it was from my mother, who loved me with an intensity greater than she loved anyone else in the world.

I did have a miserable adolescence. So did a lot of people. It is amazing anyone makes it through high school alive. Those carnations were one of the contributing factors to the trauma. However, there were some other flowers that contributed to healing. When I was a kid, my bedroom had a sliding glass door that led out into the backyard. I remember warm, quiet nights when I would open the glass slider and leave just the screen closed. The scent of my father’s night-blooming jasmine wafting into my room. When the jasmine was in bloom, all my mind could process, as I drifted off to sleep, was the sweet, spicy, exotic fragrance of the flowers. Even today, I find the scent of jasmine comforting. It evokes memories of the “safe” times in my young adulthood… evenings safe in my bed, with my family around me, and the jasmine lulling me to sleep.

I remember my high school graduation. My parents got me a corsage for that occasion. It was a white gardenia. At the beginning of the day, the scent was nice. The flower wilted throughout the day. The velvety creamy white petals began to brown at the edges. The aroma became much stronger and overpowering. The cloying sweetness began to smell like decay. It was a fitting end to the agony of adolescence.

When I got married, my mother and I had a tough time figuring out how to plan a wedding. In the days before the internet and the TLC channel on cable, it was much harder to figure out what to do than it is today. Besides, neither I nor my mother were noted for giving parties. Both of us were practical. I was raised that functionality is more important than sentiment when it comes to spending money (somehow, that perspective has not followed me into adulthood!) It never occurred to me or to my mother to have the reception anywhere than in the parish hall, which was also the parish school cafeteria. We decided to visit a nearby bridal salon that specialized in renting wedding gowns and one-stop wedding arrangements. They sold “packages,” that included the rental of a gown and headpiece, pictures, flowers, and cake. They had vendors to provide catering at an additional cost. When we arrived there and began looking at the dresses available for rent, it was apparent that my misshapen body was not going to fit into any of them. Still, the salon kept a seamstress on retainer to make gowns for brides who wished to purchase a gown (or was too oddly shaped to fit into a rental gown.) We spoke to the seamstress, who was somewhat linguistically challenged, and described what I wanted.  We signed on for a package and agreed to a caterer to provide sandwich trays for the reception.

The dress she produced looked nothing like what I imagined. For most brides, this would have been a disaster. I do not think it bothered me that much for two reasons. First, I was convinced that I could not look pretty, no matter what I wore. Second, I did not want to upset my mother.

While the gown was not that important to me, flowers were. I wanted to carry white roses and stephanotis. Both species of flowers are on the expensive side of the scale. The stephanotis was not even on the scale for the package price. If I wanted roses and stephanotis, I would have to drastically economize on other flowers. I ended up abandoning my idea for pew flowers. My bridesmaids carried daisies. I had my bouquet of roses and stephanotis. I even had a little stephanotis vein woven around the edge of my rented headpiece. I do not know why that detail meant so much to me-  why, in fact, the stephanotis was the only wedding detail that meant anything at all to me. Years later, I learned that stephanotis is a variety of jasmine. When I read that fact, the circle closed. I love it when things come together like that.

White roses have another meaning for me. There was a white rosebush outside the house where I grew up. It grew in a stony, rocky area between the house and garage where we kept our trash cans. Nobody paid much attention to it. Still, that rosebush thrived. Year after year, it yielded beautiful white blossoms at Christmas. White roses were more of a Christmas tradition at our house than poinsettias and holly.

After we moved out of the house, I made sure my mother had white roses at Christmas every year. Sometimes, it was a table arrangement. Sometimes, it was a corsage. Sometimes, the roses were artificial. Sometimes they were real. Sometimes, when I was particularly poor, it was just a Christmas card with white roses on it. No matter what, there was some form of white rose for my mother at Christmas.

One year after we moved to Florida, my mother announced that she did not want me to buy her white roses. Instead, she said, she wanted me to wait until spring when the stores were selling those sad looking dormant rosebushes  the roots in a bag and plant her one of those.

“Oh crap, something else I have to figure out how to do,” I said. On the inside. On the outside, I smiled and said, “okay.”  At least I figured I had a few months before spring to read up on rose resuscitation techniques. Who knows, maybe she would forget the whole idea.

A couple of weeks later, we were at Big Lots and a group of cub scouts were selling small plants for a couple of bucks. You guessed it. They had one small white rosebush, with a few little buds on it. My mother thought it was a sign from God that we should take it home and I should transplant it. So we did.

A couple of weeks went by, and the rosebush was looking rough. The term “scraggly” comes to mind. Eventually, when the rosebush seemed terminal, extraordinary measures were warranted. I went to Google to learn how to safely relocate the bush from its pot to my mother’s front yard. Armed with a print of the page, I went to the local home store and tried to purchase mulch, potting soil, and peat moss. When I came face-to-face with the bags of these items, I discovered that I could not even pick up the smallest bag of each of them without the aid of a chiropractor. Not to mention that the cost and quantity were overkill for one tiny rose plant. I finally noticed a small bag of something called “potting mix” a few shelves over from the gargantuan bags of mulch, potting soil, and peat moss. Sensing a conspiracy, I checked out the label and discovered that the $5 bag of “potting mix” contained…. mulch, potting soil, and peat moss! What a bonanza! I purchased the potting mix, feeling very accomplished. I was starting to get the hang of this gardening stuff.

Since I was on a roll, I went over to my mother’s mobile home and started digging the hole. I followed the directions from Google and stuck that little rosebush right into the ground. Filling the hole back up, I just said a prayer and hoped for the best.

Two nights later, there were record low temperatures. And frost.

God must have sent angels to blanket that rosebush, though. Against all odds and despite my complete ineptitude, it flourished. Within a couple of weeks, new buds started to blossom. The bush grew and the roses kept on blooming!

My success with the white roses was a powerful reminder of what I can do when motivated by love. It was also a powerful reminder of the part that flowers played in my relationship with my mother.

The concluding chapter of the flowery tale occurred several years later. On what would have been my mother’s 90th birthday, I contributed altar flowers for the Sunday service at my church. I asked the florist to make sure the arrangements included white roses and, especially, flowers with fragrant blooms. After the service, I brought the arrangements home and made potpourri out of them. Our parish ladies’ group sold these sachets with little “romance cards” that explained that the potpourri was made with love, prayers, and flowers from a worship service in our church.

My mother would have been happy.

If you could represent your life with a flower, what flower would it be? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Bloom beautifully today!

Terri/Dorry 🙂