Silver Moments

Today marks 25 years since I met Max.  This week, we are celebrating a milestone- our silver anniversary.  As most people do, we have been through a wide variety of experiences and emotions and relationship wrinkles since we met 25 years ago.  While I would not have imagined the life I have now with him at the time I met him, I knew there was something special and fated between us from the first time we met.  The past 25 years have been precious.  He is one of the greatest gifts and blessings of my life.

Twenty-five years are made up of many, many moments that weave together to create a shared life. There are so many moments that shine like silver in my heart that I cannot possibly relate all of them.  In honor of our 25th anniversary, however, I would like to share 25 “especially special” moments.  They are our silver moments.

  1. The night I met Max, I was doing homework assigned by my dating coach.  Yes, I was so determined to find a healthy relationship, I actually paid for private dating lessons.  My coach suggested that I attend what I lovingly call the “pudgy people’s dance.”  A local organization dedicated to chubby chicks and chub-chasing men offered regular dance parties to allow those of us with a few (okay, maybe more than a few) extra pounds to mix and mingle.  Now, I was not at the weight class that would interest reality television, but I certainly was (and still am) more to love.  For the first time in my life, I was extremely popular that night. When Max first asked me to dance, there was an immediate, organic attraction on every level.  I never experienced anything like it.  In retrospect, it was like some part of me knew that there was something wonderful and lasting between us.  I remember how he looked.  I remember what I wore.  I remember how his arms and chest felt when he danced with me. I remember how he made me feel.
  • When Max first came to my home, my dog, Luci, was extremely excited.  Truthfully, she was not the most discerning of creatures.  She pretty much loved everyone.  However, the way Max reacted to her showed me how special he is.  Every time he visited, he brought her treats.  When we sat snuggled together on the couch, Luci would often jump up and squeeze herself in between us.  Max was never annoyed.  He laughed. I think he found it charming.
  • About a month after we met, I asked Max to come over for Christmas Eve dinner.  He brought a boy teddy bear and a girl teddy bear.  He told me their names were MaxBear and TerriBear.  In the years that followed, Max bought me many beautiful gifts.  Many were much more expensive than MaxBear and TerriBear, but none are more valuable.  They moved with us to Florida and still snuggle up together every day.
  • Max took me to meet his family a week or so after our first Christmas together.  This was significant because his father was struggling through his last days of life.  He would lose his battle with cancer just a few days later. Max thanked me for supporting him during this time.  I thanked him for doing me the honor of including me in his family circle.  He told me that he remembered me saying at one point that it bothered me that my last boyfriend never introduced me to his family, even after several years of dating.  He did not want to hurt me in that way.
  • Max and I went dancing often in the first few years of our relationship.  He flew me around the dance floor with skill and passion.  Dancing was important to him and he created a partnership with me. People even applauded when we danced together.
  • Max and I would often snuggle together with the lights off, watching old movies on the second floor of his house.  It was always cool, if not cold, in his house. It felt intimate and cozy to share the space- filling it with our warm hearts.
  • It took Max a long time to decide to cohabitate.  He was sure that he would do something to undermine the relationship if we were together all the time.  Even once we did agree to move in together, he tested the waters to make sure that it was going to be okay.  About two weeks before he was supposed to move in, he got angry over something to do with the tv remote control and threw it across the room.  It seemed so transparently a contrived act to see how I would react, I almost laughed.  Since then, I believe he has only thrown one other thing across the room- his work cell phone. I was also ready to pitch the darn thing.
  • Max introduced me to luxury.  Neither of us has a lot of money.  Both of us have lived through hard financial times.  Neither of us are spendthrifts.  Max introduced me, however, to the idea of up-spending for the sake of getting something more lush or upscale than necessary.  He buys me nice handbags. He buys me blankets made of luxury fabrics.  We stay in large, comfortable, upscale lodgings when we travel. He bought me some Chanel #5.  All of these are occasional treats. They do not interfere with our financial stability or charitable giving.  I do not think I ever would have gone beyond Walmart handbags, cotton throws, value resort rooms, or Bath and Body Works scent except for him. 
  • From the day Max moved in, we were living in a different vibe.  It was instant family.
  1. Max indulged me by going to Disney World with me for the first time in 2003.  He was a real trouper all throughout our six-day forced march through the humidity across the World.  He made several more trips with me.  He understood the importance of being close to Disney when deciding where to move in retirement.  When asked what his favorite thing about Disney is, he says that he enjoys it, but that his very favorite thing is how happy it makes me. 
  1. The night my father had his sudden fatal heart attack, Max stayed on the phone with me throughout my 70-mile drive to go see him before he died.
  1.  Max wrote me a love poem once.
  1.  Max picks beautiful, sentimental greeting cards for all occasions and he remembers all our milestone dates.
  1.  When my Luci went to doggie heaven, Max took care of the process after she slipped away and, when it was all over, spooned next to me on the bed and held me while I cried out my grief.
  1.  Max paid storage fees for years while we were living together in California because he did not want me to feel like I had to get rid of anything I wanted to keep just to make room for him.  Several times, I suggested we would not need the storage or the amount of storage if I just tossed the things I had not touched for months or years.  Every time, Max demurred, insisted he wanted me to be comfortable.
  1.  Max was first in line to buy the debut copy of each book I published.
  1. For years, Max lugged boxes upon boxes of Christmas decorations from and to the storage building, up and down two flights of stairs, just because he knew I loved Christmas.
  1. Max constantly tells me I am perfect.  I know I am not perfect, but he makes me believe I am perfect for him.
  1. During our first trip to Hawaii together, Max strove to provide a romantic experience for me.  The first time I ever went to Hawaii, I went by myself.  I remember thinking it was the most beautiful place in the world, the most romantic place in the world, and the loneliest place in the world if one was without a mate.  Our real version of the romantic Hawaii experience was not the same as my fantasy, but it was still very romantic.  We laughed and relaxed and shed our adult personas.  My favorite bracelet is still the Hawaiian heirloom gold bracelet he bought me on that trip to commemorate our romance.
  • While I was journeying with my mother during the last, broken year of her life, Max made a concerted effort every day, all the time, to say and do the right things to help and support me. He did not find the right thing every time.  In fact, there were times when there was no right thing.  Most of the time, he did find the right note.  It was the fact that he was trying so hard and so consistently that made the moments silver for me.
  •  We converse in movie quotes (“You people don’t deserve a good king like me”), inside jokes (how old are you? I’m free), pet names (Little Bear), and little rituals (playing elf on the shelf, bouncing on beds) as part of our everyday life together.    These are things that make sense to only the two of us and they are things that enrich our couplehood. 
  •  On one of the rare occasions when Max and I disagreed over a big issue, I was uncomfortable and sad that we were on different pages.  When I expressed to him that I felt so awkward and awful about the state of affairs that it was hard for me to even talk about it, he reassured me, saying that disagreement did not discount love and the fact that we disagreed did not mean that he did not love me.
  •  Max regularly cuddles me, rubs my back, and scratches my neck until I purr like a kitten. 
  •  Max often looks at me with a warmth and awe that seems to say, “I cannot believe I am lucky enough to see you every day.”
  •  Max and I read devotionals and pray together daily.  We worship together in online services and he has started attending my church with me once a month.

There are many, many more moments like these.  Even these “moments” really represent more than moments; they constitute whole galaxies of instances that weave together to support our love.  These are just some of our silver moments.  In fact, they are not just silver moments.  They are silver moments trimmed with gold, wrapped up with a platinum ribbon.

Happy Anniversary, my love…

From the luckiest bear in the world!

How Much Patience Must A Patient Have?

This is not a tongue-twister.  It is a temporal lobe twister. 

Recently, I entered an endocrinological perfect storm. The experience left me wondering whether it is time for me to raise my medical expectations. 

When I moved to Florida from California, I had to find a new endocrinologist to manage my diabetes and thyroid issues.  I looked for a doctor close to my new home but found only one.  The online reviews for this doctor were not stellar, to say the least.  In fact, he sounded downright mean… or, at least, curt.  For reasons I am not going to bother to explain here, I have a hard time going to see doctors in the best of circumstances. I was certainly not anxious to see the endocrinologist whose reviews made him sound like the medical version of Simon Legree.  I widened my search and ended up selecting a doctor in Orlando, which is about 40 miles from where I live.  I know that is a bit far to travel but the doctor’s name was Dr. Steady (not his real name, but a synonym of it).  For anyone who has diabetes, the quest to keep blood sugar levels stable is the holy grail.  How could I not select someone called Dr. Steady?  

Dr. Steady also had excellent reviews.  My visits to the office for the past five years have been efficient, relatively painless experiences. Dr. Steady always concluded a visit by telling me I was too healthy to be there.  I only go a few times a year, so the commute was not that big a deal. In fact, it was kind of pleasant taking a trip to the “big city” every few months.  I felt very sophisticated and precious.  

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  I realized I was running out of my blood sugar stabilization medication.  Now, in my world, I would always have at least 30 days’ worth of drugs on hand so as not to worry about running short.  However, insurance companies tend not to think that way.  They only let me get a new supply when I am down to 10 days or less of the old prescription.  I think they figure I could die in the interim and they would have wasted the money paying for medication that I would never take.  Still, 10 days really should be long enough to get a prescription refilled. 

I called the pharmacy to order the refill and they indicated they would need to contact the doctor to get an authorization for the prescription renewal.  I had an appointment scheduled, but not until a few weeks after I would run out of pills.  I waited two days, then called the pharmacy.  They told me that they had not heard from the doctor’s office.  I called the doctor’s office, who told me that they had submitted the authorization.  They said they would send it again.  The next morning, I called the pharmacy again and they said that they had not heard from the doctor’s office but would resubmit the request.  The next day, I called the pharmacy again.  Again, they told me they had not heard from the doctor’s office.  I called the doctor’s office.  At that point, I was completely out of medication.  The doctor’s office swore to me that they were submitting the authorization while I was on the phone.  

Apparently, the problem stemmed from the fact that the doctor’s electronic prescription service only works within Orlando.  Since I was needing the prescription authorized in my town, which is apparently in an international zip code as far as the doctor’s office is concerned, the electronic system did not work.  Never mind that the doctor’s office has been handling my prescriptions for over five years.  For some reason, despite my numerous, increasingly more desperate pleas for drugs, someone just kept pushing the computer button.  What is the definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?  I do not like to cast aspersions, but I think an insane person must have been trying to authorize my prescription.  

Six days into this process of medical musical chairs, I completely ran out of medication.  I was going cold turkey.  Although my blood sugar levels were certainly higher than they normally are, I was able to keep them reasonable by exercise and consuming only about 1100 calories a day.  This was not a mood-enhancing system, I assure you.  I also felt like crap all the time.  I felt exhausted, headache-y, and weak.  I had this strange sensation that there were two incredible forces pushing from both within and outside my body, in conflict with one another.  I felt like I was going to spontaneously crumble, as if hit by The Invisible Ray (for those of you who have not seen this old Karloff/Lugosi movie, you might want to check it out.) I am surprised I remained conscious.  The only hopeful sign was that I was able to keep my blood sugar level beneath a dangerous range.  As the days crept by, one broken promise after another, I did almost surrender.  It really seemed a lot easier to die than to continue the fight for Janumet. 

At one point a couple of years ago, Dr. Steady suggested the possibility that I might be able to go off the medication because I was doing so well.  I was excited because Janumet is expensive.  When he made no mention of going off the medication at my next visit, I asked him about it. He explained that he had thought better of the idea because I was doing so well on it.  He said that, if I went off the medication and my blood sugar got out of whack, it would be much harder to get it back in whack.  At the time, I was disappointed.  Now, I see the wisdom of that decision.  I think we have all learned now that going off the medication is not a good option for me. 

Finally, on Monday (ten days after I originally called in the prescription) afternoon, I confirmed with the pharmacy that they received the authorization.  They told me they would fill it the next day.  On Tuesday, I called and found out that the pharmacy had none of the drug I needed, so they had to order it.  I could expect the prescription to be ready around eleven on Wednesday. 

On Wednesday morning, my blood sugar elevated into the danger zone.  I was able to work it down with exercise and famine, but it was concerning.  I did not hear from the pharmacy on Wednesday, so I went in to see them at around 3.  At that point, my next stop was going to be the emergency room.  I was back in the “safe” zone on the blood sugar, but I still felt horrible and I was no longer able to keep hope alive.

You guessed it. The drug did not arrive in the pharmacy’s order.  The pharmacy tech, to her credit, knew desperation when she saw it.  She got on the phone and found me a 30-day supply at another pharmacy about 15 miles down the road.  I got back in the car and headed to the other pharmacy, fully expecting there to be yet another problem.  Happily, they did sell me my drugs and I downed one immediately.  I am still re-whacking my blood sugar levels several days later, but all evidence seems to point to recovery with no lasting consequences.

No lasting consequences to me, that is.  For the endocrinologist, not so much.  You remember that local endocrinologist that sounded mean in his reviews?  It turns out that a friend of mine has been seeing him for several months and really likes him.  I decided to fire the Orlando doctor and risk possible curtness.

I called his office to make an appointment yesterday.  The office is closed all week.  Heavy sigh.  I am in the medical twilight zone. 

Just to quell any alarm this blog may generate, please know that I wrote in a few weeks ago.  I am now safely back on my drugs and managing my blood sugar well. 

As we age, health concerns seem to loom much larger than they did in our younger years.  What tips and tricks do you employ to keep as healthy as possible in your “more than ready for prime time” years?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a healthy day!

Terri/Dorry

Welcome To My Pity Party

I am well and truly sick of the coronavirus.  I have resisted succumbing for many months, but I now suffer from a severe case of covid fatigue.  A couple of days ago, I was feeling especially restless and frustrated.  I made the mistake of googling “will the coronavirus ever end?” If you are struggling to keep your head above the cooties, I do not recommend googling this question.  The articles that estimated the duration of the pandemic uniformly suggested that we will not hear the end of the virus until the third or fourth quarter of 2021.  In other words… ANOTHER WHOLE YEAR!!!

I have been depressed ever since I read this prediction.  I do not know if I can handle another year of this half-assed version of normal the world is simulating.

  • I am sick of breathing through a mask.
  • I am sick of muffled communication.  It is so difficult to hear people and to speak intelligibly through a mask, it often seems easier to just not talk at all.
  • I am sick of having bad hair days every day.  The mask is 2020’s version of a hat… once you put one on, you had better keep it on because removing a mask that has been plastered to your head leaves your hair flattened and bent at all kinds of unnatural and unflattering angles .
  • I am sick of events being cancelled… the butterfly release at my church, my trip to New York, the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom, the Royal Canin dog show spectator activities, and the list goes on.
  • I am sick of not hugging people.
  • I am sick of looking for logical consistency in circumstances that are not conducive to logical consistency.
  • I am sick of constantly having to rethink routines and old ways of accomplishing things.
  • I am sick of feeling like everyone I love is so far away from me.  I feel isolated from even those who are nearby.
  • I am sick of researching coronavirus statistics in search of definitive good news and trying to be satisfied with small, sporadic victories.

This is just a partial list of things I am sick of.  (Yes, I know that you should not end a sentence with a preposition, but I am too sick and tired to care!) Truthfully, the list is endless.  Just as I think I have reconciled myself to one kick in the gut, something I never even thought about rises to the surface of my reality.

I think I have always been a grateful person and I think that I still am, even in the midst of corona crazy.  I know how blessed I am in every way.  I know that God uses even the worst situation to build and create wonderful results, so I trust that this time of challenge will yield some positive outcomes. I have been stalwart in trying to keep people engaged and connected.  Every time a challenge has presented itself, I have endeavored to be part of the solution instead of just whining about the problem. 

Now, however, I seem to be a bit stuck in the slog.  I do not seem to be able to get myself out of it.  I desperately want a break from challenge, but I have not been able to find a place to really accomplish that.

I may have found an answer last Sunday at worship service.  As I listened to the readings, one particular passage, Philippians 4:7-9, punched me in the soul.  It says:

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

During the sermon, the rector talked about how difficult and antagonistic the world can be.  He suggested that there is no real place in which to take a break from challenge in this world.  However, in allowing my mind to focus on whatever is pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy rather than the anxieties and difficulties of the world, the God of peace will be with me.  I do not think God wants me to avoid challenges at this difficult time. I think His will for me is to meet those challenges with an approach that is pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  In that way, I can give glory to His name, benefit His people, and grow my own relationship with Him.  I must not only remember all I have learned of God and focus on sacred excellence.  I must also put it into practice.

So, I am still sick and tired of the aspects of the world that are not pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy.  I do not understand the way the world is turning just now.  I do not understand why things cannot go back to normal.  I cannot understand why everything must be so hard.  However, Philippians 4:7-9 tells me that I do not need to understand because the peace of God is much more powerful than understanding.  Perhaps the answer to my “sick and tired of being sick and tired” tirade is to dump the anxiety and exhaustion of the world and let God carry it alone for a little bit while I focus on the pure and lovely!

What do you do when you get sick and tired of covid challenges?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative,  you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a pure and lovely day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Wayback Wednesday

One of the benefits of staying at home during the COVID-19 quarantine was that it gave me time to reassess the “stuff” I have acquired over the years.  I did a merciless, no-holds-barred purge of my closets and bedroom drawers, throwing out or donating all the clothes that don’t fit, are too worn and threadbare to be respectable, are not suitable for my current life (as evidenced by the fact that I can’t remember the last time I wore them), or make me feel dumpy or like I am trying too hard.  This process was traumatic, but I stuffed my feelings along with the rejected garments. I ate some chocolate and plunged ahead.  I also trashed some of the souvenirs from my working life.  I did not get rid of everything, but I did discard items that no longer sparked joy.  I cannot imagine why I ever thought it necessary to move across the country with a list of emergency contact numbers for people I temporarily managed two years before I left the workforce.   

As I conducted my shock and awe purge of joyless articles of uselessness, I ran across some writing I did over the years.  As some of you know, I always wanted to write, but the business of making a living pretty much dominated my life for 30 plus years.  I forgot that I had, in fact, been writing during that 30 years.  I tended to write a bit or piece of something and stuff it in a drawer.  I am beginning to think that my reason for not pursuing my writing was only partially about time.  I think a big part of it was about fear- fear of failure, fear of exposure, fear of myself.  I do not have a lot of the material I wrote in my prime, but I do have a few things.  These pieces, strangely enough, seem to be remarkably like what I would call “blog posts” today.  Most of them were written long before anyone had ever heard of a “blog post.”

As I was reading these relics of the me I used to know, I found myself chuckling.  They reminded me of a time in my life when my priorities, self-image, and outlook were different than they are today.  I remember the me who suffered way more than her life conditions merited.  I remember the me who did not believe in her own worth.  I enjoyed knowing her. I enjoyed maturing her into someone more settled, more joyful, and more confident.  As I read these older writings, I remember I liked the girl who wrote them.   She was kind.  She was funny.  She had a great sense of life’s absurdities.  She was introspective.  She was committed to becoming the best person she could be.   She had a catchy turn of phrase.  She believed in the beauty of the soul. 

I realize all those qualities I admire in the girl who wrote the articles I found stuffed into drawers are still me.  They are simply better and more polished and more well-integrated now.  That makes me happy.

I have now written over 500 words now to give you the backstory for my main reason for today’s blog post.  I think I am going to share some of that early me with you over the next few months.  Every now and again, I am going to post something I wrote years ago as a “Wayback Wednesday” blog piece.  I hope you will enjoy them and that you like the girl who wrote them as much as I have come to like her. 

Do you ever come across a picture or letter or some other souvenir of another time in your life?  How does it make you feel?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a wayback wonderful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

The Turtle Whisperer

Today, I was driving down the main road of my subdivision.  What distinguishes this thoroughfare as the “main road” is that the speed limit is a breakneck 25 miles per hour, as opposed to the more sedate 20 miles per hour in most of the development.  I was driving along when I noticed that the car ahead of me was stopped in the middle of the road about 50 feet ahead of me.  There was a person on the meridian next to the car.

Now, it is not unusual where I live for people to stop and chat with each other.  It doesn’t usually happen when one of the residents is driving and must come to a complete stop to carry on the conversation, but the situation is not unheard of.  I didn’t think much about it, other than to chuckle that people seem to find this practice completely normal. 

What was distinctly abnormal was what happened next.  The guy on the meridian began jumping around as if being attacked by murder hornets.  He was running at and around the car.  It was a disconcerting sight.  The way he was bouncing around, I wondered if he needed help or if he was some sinister oldster zombie character trying to eat the brains of the person in the stopped car. 

Then, I saw the reason for the bopping around.  There was a small turtle in the road.  Apparently, the car stopped to avoid hitting it.  The guy on the meridian went to move the turtle from the road, but it started “running” to get away.  Unfortunately, it was running in circles around the car.  It was kind of funny to watch the man try to outrun a turtle.  We are all old here.  The guy eventually caught the turtle and carried him to safety on the other side of the road.  Good job, sir! Pretty cool.

We are an animal-loving bunch here in my neighborhood.  A couple of years ago, the alpha male alligator must have decided that one of the juveniles was getting too big for his britches and forced him out of his pond.  The junior alligator, disoriented and confused, ended up in the park area at the front of the development.  I think he was okay until he got to the path that leads from the “main road” to the clubhouse/mailbox area.  I think the paved road flummoxed him.  He began walking in circles.  Some of my neighbors found him and set up a little parade of people to guide him to another pond across the street.  There was a video on Facebook of our stalwart residents shepherding the alligator to smoother waters.  I don’t think I would have wanted to get as close to him as my neighbors did, but no harm done.  In another situation, someone put up yellow police tape around an oak tree that was housing a new owl family.  They wanted to give the new momma and daddy owl some privacy with their babies. 

It is nice to live in a place where people pay attention to this sort of thing.  It warms my heart.  Some people retire so they can stop and smell the roses.  Some people retire so they can stop and help the turtles. 

What unique characteristic do you like best about where you live?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can leave me an email at www.terrilabonte.com

Have a helpful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Never Trust A Candle

Today is my birthday.  I am 61 years old.  Last year, I had a little emotional discomfort with the idea of turning 60.  This advanced age disoriented me a bit.  I never thought of myself as elderly before, even when I retired, but the 60th birthday did mess with my sense of self.  I found myself challenging my perception of reality.

Little did I know that my birthday disorientation was a precursor of things to come.  My 61st year was a mix of muddle and misadventure for me and for the whole world.  There is no way I was wishing for a worldwide pandemic when I blew out the birthday candles last year.  Hiding in my house with only minimal human contact was not what I had in mind. Learning to breathe through several layers of sweat-soaked cloth whenever I ventured outside was not on my list of #lifegoals@60. Cancelling a long-anticipated trip to New York City was not on my agenda for my 61st year. Re-engaging with remote learning and virtual gatherings, after giving them up when I retired, was not something I would have ever imagined, much less desired.  All in all, my 61st year has done a lot of sucking. 

On the other hand, it has not been all bad.  Things seemed like they were going pretty well at the end of 2019- a trip to Las Vegas, a visit to California to see my brother and his family, a Christmastime getaway at Disney World with a first time (and, at this point, maybe my ONLY time) opportunity to go to the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and a growing enjoyment of my retirement life here in Florida were all great starts to my “over 60” life.  I grew in friendship and fellowship with my new church.  My relationships were all doing great.  I had plans and excitedly looked forward to numerous new adventures.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. My birthday candle must have fizzled out because my plans all went to hell in a handbasket.

This year, I am approaching my birthday celebration with cautious optimism.  The celebration is kind of a moving target.  When we had to cancel our New York City trip in May, we decided to go crazy and book a one-night stay in a premier room at Disney’s most luxurious resort, the Grand Floridian.  We have visited there often, marveling at the water park area, the beautiful views of the Magic Kingdom, tales of the nightly water pageant in the bay in front of the hotel, and the cool dining options, including breakfast with Mary Poppins. We have never actually stayed overnight there because it is wildly expensive.  Since we cancelled our even more wildly expensive trip to New York, we booked the Grand Floridian room as a consolation prize. 

As time passed, it became increasingly clear that the pandemic-tempered Grand Floridian experience would be significantly lacking in cool factor.  Disney was allowing limited access to the resort, so the fancy room we booked was not going to be available. There would be no fireworks or water pageant to view.  Character meals were cancelled.  The lovely up-scale dinner house is still closed.  The water park area is still open, and the Disney people offered us a villa instead of the fancy schmancy room we booked.  Still, for the money it was going to cost, I felt like any whittling down of the experience meant we should just cancel.  Sadly, I cancelled that trip at the end of August.

Last year, we spent my birthday at the Magic Kingdom, participating in a behind the scenes tour.  I had always wanted to experience the tour and my 60th birthday seemed a good time to empty that particular item from my bucket list. This year, there are no tours running and we 86ed our overnight splurge stay at the Grand Floridian, but we are again going to spend the day at the Magic Kingdom with friends.  It will be a more laid-back day than we originally imagined, but I am sure we will all enjoy it.  We have dinner reservations for Raglan Road at Disney Springs, which is another place I have wanted to try for a long time. 

So, all in all, I am sure it will be a good birthday.  At least, I am hoping it will be.  One thing that the pandemic has taught me is that it is often better to live in the moment and to enjoy what is, without too many pre-expectations.  I think many of us have spent too much energy over these past seven months or so trying to plan around the world-wide circumstances.  We have been holding our collective breath, waiting for circumstances to change and for the lives we have planned to come together. 

I think I am just now deciding that I would rather change my life to accommodate the worldwide circumstances than wait for the worldwide circumstances to change to continue living my life.  The life I live, just like my birthday celebration, may not end up being what I expect or completely the experience I would choose to have, but there is something to be said for embracing the sweetness of discovery!

Just a reminder that you can get my second book, Random (A)musings on Amazon.  If you never ordered my first book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement, and would like a copy, please email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  It is out of print, but I do have some copies for sale.  Come on, folks, throw me a bone! It’s my birthday! Make me happy and buy a book!

Have a happy birthday or happy un-birthday, as the case may be!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Injured

I broke my toe recently.  People ask me how I broke my toe.  I broke my toe by having the coordination of a two-year-old and the strength and bulk of a sixty-year-old woman.  That’s how I broke my toe.

I was doing my walking in the living room the other day.  Some of you may remember that, since my brother got me a Fitbit for Christmas a few years ago, I am somewhat obsessed about my step count every day.  I typically walk 6 to 7 miles a day, mostly across my living room floor in front of the television set.  Walking for one’s health is all fine and good and everything, until one slams one’s foot against the wooden foot of the sofa.  I immediately doubled over in pain, as if folding my abdomen in two would have any effect on my foot.  It did not.  At first, of course, I thought I had simply stubbed my toe.  As painful as stubbing a toe is, there is no long-term impact.  After the first few seconds of torture, the pain recedes and everything is back to normal.  Except when the pain does not recede.  That usually means a broken toe. 

I broke my toe once before on a trip to Hawaii.  On my first day there, I was walking through the waves and rammed my foot into a large underwater rock.  Note to self:  when you fight with a rock, the rock is going to win.  The rock is the very definition of an immovable object.  Being younger and even more stupid than I am now, I kept on keeping on through my whole trip.  My rationale was that I had paid a lot of money for the vacation and I was not going to waste it nursing a sore foot.  I continued to walk all over Waikiki and beyond for an entire week, dragging my injured foot behind me. It was agony, but it was agony in the name of vacation, so I was not going to let anything stop me including my throbbing, swelling toe.  Funny, it never occurred to me to rent a car, take a cab, or get on a bus.  I just kept walking.

When I returned home, my pinky toe was roughly the size of the rest of my foot.  It still hurt like a billy-be-damn (no, I don’t know what a billy-be-damn is, but my father always used to say that) and I was starting to develop calluses on my ankle from turning my leg in to avoid pressure on the pinky toe.  I went to urgent care, where the nice doctor ordered an x-ray to establish that I did, indeed, have a broken toe.  It turns out that there is not much anyone can do to treat a broken toe, other than take ibuprofen and wait.  It also turns out that the optimal treatment for a broken toe does NOT include walking all over Oahu.  Who knew? 

Anyway, with some rest and ice and a week of NSAIDs, the toe did begin to heal.  Apparently, despite my ignorance and stubbornness, I did no permanent damage.  I may have learned a few lessons about taking better care of myself and thinking outside the “walking everywhere while on vacation” box. 

This experience came back to me when I smashed my foot against the sofa the other day.  Being much older and maybe a trifle wiser, I knew better than to continue my physical activity as if nothing had happened.  I have done a better job of staying off my foot and giving myself time to heal.  I am still not able to wear a regular shoe and I still have some pain, but the bruising is fading and the discomfort is much more manageable.  I have faith that I will, at some point, be able to walk without hobbling.  Dr. Google says that, with a broken pinky toe, the pain and swelling usually resolve in a week or so and the bone heals in about a month.  I can live with that.

The problem is that, since my injury, I have learned that I only have two speeds- “run around like a chicken with her head cut off” and “lay around like a lox.”  I can walk 6 miles a day, do water aerobics, hop from one activity or errand or meeting or chore to another throughout the day, and rush around fueled on adrenaline or I can recline inertly on a sofa riding the waves of lethargy.  Neither mode is very satisfying and, certainly, the “run around” speed is on the blink just now.  I feel distinctly discombobulated and disoriented.  I do not know how to manage the middle ground. 

I need some help.  Since neither “chicken” or “lox” is working for me right now, I need someone to please find me another animal to emulate that is appropriate for a person with a broken toe… and a pulse!

How do you find and keep the balance between rest and activity?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a pain-free day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Ok; It Is Freakin’ Hot

Maybe I am finally becoming a Floridian.  This is the sixth summer I have spent in Florida and I have managed to squelch my annual whine about the weather until the beginning of September.  I am sure the new air conditioner I installed a couple of years ago has not hurt my climate adaptability, either.

Whether my increased tolerance of Florida’s summer weather stems from my disposition slowly morphing into “Floridian” or from a better air conditioning system, I am proud that I have held out until now.  June, July, August… you have not heard me bitching about the heat, humidity, thunderstorms, or general sogginess of the climate.  Still, I now have to say I have reached the end of my tolerance.  

It’s freakin’ hot. 

The news says the temperatures this summer have been well above normal.  In fact, for most of the summer, the mercury has been breaking records.  Because of the COVID-19 restrictions and closures, it did not make much difference since I was mostly inside, enjoying the air conditioning and the highest electric bill I have ever received.  I always said that I figured the COVID-19 quarantines would lift just about the same time as our summer weather comfort quarantine would hit.  I was right.  In the summer, the weather is often too hot, too rainy, too humid, and too unstable to make plans.  It is not that the weather ALWAYS keeps people from doing things, but it COULD keep people from doing things at any time.  You can sometimes get lucky and spontaneously enjoy some outdoor activity, but you can never rely on a plan to do something because the weather will likely make other plans.  For someone like myself, who is not that spontaneous, it is frustrating.  This year, the whole outside world is frustrating and unstable, so maybe the weather is not infuriating me as much. 

Recently, though, I have started to wilt noticeably.  Part of my challenge is that I have started going out to do things that I have missed since COVID-19 shut down the world.  To add to the weather challenges, these activities require me to wear face coverings.  Central Florida in the summer always makes me feel like I am breathing water.  With a mask covering my breathing apparatus while wandering around a Disney park on a “feels like” 106-degree day, it is like I am breathing an old, wet, soggy, wash rag.  Funny, my lungs seem to prefer air.  At least, as I recall.  It has been awhile since my lungs sucked down some unhumidified air. 

I am sure many of you are yelling at your computer screen and calling me all sorts of names because, really, what do I expect, wandering around a theme park in the middle of the summer?  I would normally never go to Disney in the heat of the summer.  There is no way I would pay regular admission to get the truncated Disney experience right now.  With the annual pass, though, it does not cost me anything, and I really, really wanted to experience what “Disney without crowds” feels like.  I have been able to get on all the rides that were unavailable prior to COVID-19 due to massive attendance.  I also find it fascinating to examine the creative strategies Disney employees to manage social distancing and other safety protocols. 

But I digress.  This blog is not about Disney World.  It is about my ability, or lack thereof, to weather the weather. 

As I said, I’ve been a pretty good sport about the weather this year. I have maintained a sunny disposition and avoided weather-induced crankiness, for the most part. The last week or two have been my Waterloo, however.  It was like, suddenly, the immensity and oppression of the “heamidity” whacked the constitution clear out of me.  I have valiantly wrestled with the weather for the past three months and now, the weather has me pinned.  Somebody slap the mat, please!  Put me out of my misery. 

We are slowly slugging our way through the humidity to autumn, at least by the calendar’s reckoning.  I have been in Florida long enough to know that the climate usually does a pretty sucky job reading the calendar, but a girl can hope.  I am three weeks away from a sudden trip and Fall.  At least, I hope I am.

In reality, September is often the worst month because there is little if any relief from the heat and humidity.  Every hurricane that has been a realistic threat for our part of the state since we have lived here has occurred in September, which makes me a little hesitant to proclaim September 21 the end of the Florida summer boil. 

At some point, I look forward to not sweating while actually in the shower.  I look forward to days when my air conditioner will run a sprint, rather than a marathon. I look forward to being able to walk out my front door without my glasses fogging up. I look forward to not feeling sticky icky every hour of the day. 

Right now, all these goals seem like impossible dreams.  There is some hope that autumn will come, and the weather will eventually change.  Starbuck’s has started selling pumpkin scones. 

It is too hot and I am too lethargic to think of a question this week, but feel free to use the comments as a space to vent your own personal weather whine!

Have an air-conditioned day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Bread, Wine, and Hand Sanitizer

I have stepped up my COVID-19 reopening game.  I have attended IN PERSON worship services!

Our church leadership decided to try to make some lemonade when the COVID-19 lemons closed our church building.  Our church has been operating since 1889.  In 1947, a fire destroyed much of the original architecture, but the congregation faithfully restored the structure in 1948.  It is common belief that 1948 was probably the last time the building saw any major renovation.  There has been the odd vacuuming and some air conditioning repairs, but evidence suggests that the place has been running solely on duct tape and the Holy Spirit for as long as most of us can remember.  Our sexton and various volunteers have done a pretty miraculous job keeping the facility standing and presentable (as long as you didn’t look too closely), but there comes a time when band-aids do not suffice to treat a compound fracture.

We have a new junior warden on our vestry. For those non-Episcopalians out there, the vestry is the unpaid governing body of an Episcopal parish. The junior warden is the saint who typically gets stuck with resolving all things property management in Episcopal churches. It seemed a great opportunity to rope in that unsuspecting “volunteer” junior warden to project manage a major renovation. Besides, spending quality quarantine time beautifying and reinforcing our property was a productive use of down time. It also kicked that messy question of whether to reopen the building way down the road.  We hoped that, by the time the building was ready, COVID-19 precautions would be unnecessary.

We now know that hope was a pipe dream.  As COVID numbers have improved in central Florida, many of the churches in our diocese reopened for public worship with about a gazillion different rules and regulations about safety protocols.  Our church renovations nearly completed, our parish decided to ease into official reopening by celebrating the Eucharist in person, with appropriate social distancing, in our parish hall.  About a dozen of us pioneers have attended.

I do not know that I felt a particularly strong need to attend in person.  Max and I have been watching two services on television each Sunday- his church, which is always a televised ministry, and my church on YouTube.  We worship with each other and then meet a small group of church friends for an outdoor BYOL (Bring Your Own Lunch) picnic to maintain our connections and fellowship. 

I decided to attend some of the parish hall in person services because I wanted to support the effort to reopen.  I wanted our livestream of the service to show that people were enjoying worshipping together safely and without fear.  I wanted to help put butts in the seats, basically.  It is part of my conviction that “doing isn’t feeling” when it comes to “normal,” but feeling doesn’t start until we start doing. 

At any rate, I believed I was going to the in-person service for other people more than for myself.  I felt so brave and altruistic. I do not think I crossed the line into Smugness, but I may have come close. 

God laughed at my pompousness and then put me in my place. 

It turns out, I was missing in person worship services more than I knew.  I felt like I was breathing fresh air again, after being in a smog-filled atmosphere for some time. It felt so easy and natural.  Of course, it felt strange to not touch anyone.  I had to restrain myself from hugging, patting arms, and shaking hands. The social distanced chairs and the mask-wearing is almost not weird now, we do it so much.  The priest delivering the host to each of us in our places was different, but felt more bonding than distancing, despite the copious amounts of hand sanitizer he used.  There was a brief moment of awkwardness when Max, having grown up in a Catholic church prior to receiving communion in the hand, stuck out his tongue for the priest to place the host in his mouth.  The priest and Max both recovered quickly when Max realized that “force of habit” is not a good reason for someone to touch your tongue during a pandemic.  No harm done.

I think there was a certain amount of altruism in demonstrating to the people who are on the comfort level fence about returning to in person worship that these differences are easy to manage.  The barriers are not as bad as they sound when you get right down to it.  Maybe some people are more inclined to participate in our IRL worship services after seeing some of their brothers and sisters jump the hurdles and enjoy the experience. 

Still, despite the more altruistic motivators I had to participate at the in-person worship services, I found out that I needed them much more than anyone else needed me.  I had no idea how much I missed the presence of other people praying with me.  Even though our parish has done a great job of fostering community during this time of separation and I pray with others regularly on Zoom, I found the experience of worshiping with other people in the same room, with the same voice, to be overwhelmingly powerful.  My hands might not have been touching anyone, but my heart and soul certainly were.  I was sitting on a folding chair. Huge bottles of hand sanitizer figured prominently on the tablescape of the makeshift altar. Fake flowers decorated the space. We had two singers and a pianist instead of a beautiful choir.  There were some audio and livestreaming glitches to be resolved.  None of that mattered.  I might as well have been in the most beautiful cathedral in the world because God was there.

Our church renovations are done now.  Last Saturday, a bunch of us spent the morning cleaning the sanctuary for about the eighty millionth time over the past several months.  I had it easy.  Other people did a great job in an earlier round of cleaning, so there was not as much leftover postwar grime from 1948 as there might have been.  The most disgusting thing I encountered was vacuuming up a desiccated creature that was, at one time, either a lizard or a frog.  Hey, every house, even a house of God, needs a thorough cleaning every 70 years are so.

We’ll be back in our newly beautified worship space on September 13.  I will be there.  Pray for us!

terri holding mop as she cleans inside of church
Yes, I do know how to operate a mop!

What have you started doing “IRL” again that you have been doing virtually since the COVID quarantine? How has it worked out for you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a REAL day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂