The Bunnies Are Running 2022

A few weeks ago, I published a post about Lent and my spiritual goals for this time of repentance and preparation for the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. I am happy to report that my Lenten work is coming along well. In addition to the goals I set for myself, Max and I have been reading and praying along with a program of devotionals that one of my church friends shared. I was, weirdly, looking forward to Lent this year and God is taking me in good places.

Now… for the lighter side of Lent.

You have all heard of Elf on the Shelf. You probably also know that Max and I play Elf on the Shelf each December. He hides my elf, Kringle, each morning and I hunt for him. Some of you may remember last year’s natural extension of this game- Bun on the Run. I have TEN bunnies running loose in my house because bunnies are prolific creatures, and I am unable to restrain myself at Hobby Lobby. The biggest bunnies, Arabella and Archibald are the mommy and daddy bunnies. They are each about the size of an extra-large egg. There are four itsy bitsy babies- Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo. These critters are each about the size of a shooter marble. Their slightly older siblings- Wynken, Blynken, Nod, and Tumble- are somewhere in between in size. Each morning in Lent, a bunny goes running and it is up to me to find it. Because Max is a very methodical guy, he rotates the order in which he hides the bunnies. Archibald and Arabella are relatively easy to find because of their size. The four newborns are extremely challenging. Max gives me hints when I get stuck.  Eventually, given enough clues, I am bound to stumble upon a stealth bunny.

For the first time EVER since the elfing and the bunnying has begun, Max stumped me this season. Miney, one of the newborns, seems to be particularly wily in getting himself into mischievous positions. The last time Miney hid, he hid so well that I finally had to give up. I am sharing three pictures here so you can see if you can find Miney.

Tink doll front on view
Tink side view
close up of Tink and Miney, the stealth bunny

Give up? Miney is hiding in Tinker Bell’s wings. Yowza. I am sure I would still be hunting if I had not cried uncle. Max was quite pleased with himself… and Miney’s hiding prowess.

Someday, someone is going to take away my adult card.

What crazy, child-like (or childish) things do you do that might jeopardize your adult card? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Terri/Dorry 😊

Rock of Aged

Max and I went to see a Billy Joel concert the other night with some very good friends. We are all “people of a certain age.” As you might expect, given that the performer was Billy Joel (and Billy Joel is 72 years old), most of the audience were contemporaries of ours. Some were younger, and some were just trying to be younger.

I cannot remember the last time I went to a full-on rock concert in an outside stadium. I think it was probably some time around 1985. Since this was another lifetime ago, I did not expect to know how things worked. Luckily, our friends set the whole thing up- bought the tickets, drove to the venue, and found parking. This relieved me of some of the stress of “being responsible” for everyone’s enjoyment. I could just wait and  see what it would be like to view the concert with 70,000 other fans.

I dressed in my rocker chick chic outfit- black jeans, black boots, and a sparkly blouse. I took great care with my makeup, hair, and jewelry.  I felt a little bit badass.

Our tickets said that the show started at 8:00pm. The doors were supposed to open at 6:30 and the parking lots were supposed to open at 4:30. We, of course, planned to be there very early. We decided not to go out to dinner because we did not want to risk missing anything. We bought Subway sandwiches before we left our neighborhood and decided to eat them in the car in the parking lot. It would be a sort of “tailgate” tailgate party. Another other interesting thing we learned before we went to the stadium were that we could not bring in any normal-sized purse or handbag. Based on the acceptable dimensions on the venue’s website, an allowable bag would be so tiny that even my phone would not fit in it. I decided to go with option 2- a clear plastic gallon-size Ziplock bag. This accessory did not exactly go with my rocker chick vibe, but at least I could carry my essentials.

I do not think having this kind of restriction on bags was in keeping with the demographic of the audience. Most of the women were conditioned, after 50 years of being “pack mule mommas” to fill their purses with every possible thing their children or significant other might need to protect them from catastrophe. Also, given the age of most of the audience, it seemed likely that the only drugs we were trying to hide were prescription arthritis, diabetes, and blood thinner medications. At one point, I thought I smelled weed, but it was probably someone smoking medical marijuana.

The venue also did not permit visitors to bring umbrellas into the stadium. It is freakin’ Florida! Earlier in the day, there had been almost monsoon level rainstorms. We just hit a lucky patch in that the skies cleared by late afternoon. If the rain had come in the evening, when it usually does, an umbrella prohibition would have been serious business.

My rocker chick chic persona did not last very long. I had to zip up my furry black coat against the cold. The temperature was unseasonably cold for central Florida in March, with a wicked wind. I am sure the promoters never expected an arctic blast to descend on the Camping World stadium in Orlando, Florida. We old people in Florida typically travel with sweaters to take off the air conditioning chill in restaurants. Even I, who almost always run hot, was freezing the night of the concert. With my black jacket zipped up, I no longer displayed any sight of my sparkly blouse. I looked like an old lady, which, of course, I am.

Even on the stage, Billy Joel immediately donned a stocking cap over his bald head after his initial introduction. By three songs into his set, he added a woolen scarf. By the second half of the concert, his back-up singer was wearing a towel over her head and shoulders to keep her vocal cords warm.

I figured that the concert would start at 8:00pm, since this was the time advertised. We parked at around 5:00pm and got in line to get into the stadium at around 6:00pm. The process was actually quite easy. Then we sat. And sat. And sat some more. I guess everyone is supposed to know that rockers are just kidding when they state a start time. Finally, at around 8:30, Billy Joel rolled out on the stage. At least, it looked like he did on the jumbotron screens. We had expensive seats, but there was still no way anyone could have identified the headliner without benefit of jumbotron because the distance to the stage was just too great. We could not have seen the actual real live Billy Joel, even with our bifocals on. At first this bothered me. We were paying close to $300 for each ticket. If we were going to watch the concert on a screen, could we not have done something similar sitting at home in front of YouTube?

The fact that the concert was supposed to start at 8:00pm was already problematic for me. I am usually in bed by 9:30. I was never a late-night kind of gal and, in my dotage, the term “early bird special” is my jam. Still, I figured I could handle at 8:00pm start time. I figured the concert would last about 75-90 minutes and we would get home at around 11. I knew I was not going to turn into a pumpkin and figured it would be good for me to clast some icons of my life. However, when the concert did not start until 8:30 and the singing went on until after 10:30, I did feel stressed, I might turn into a pumpkin. We probably would not make it home until after midnight. As it turned out, it was closer to 1:00pm AND it was the “spring ahead” night for Daylight Savings Time. I’m not sure I wanted to clast icons quite that big, but I told myself that, as my life coach says, “I am a person who tries new things.” That phrasing is more palatable than “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Yes, I was out much later than comfortable for me. Yes, the timetable for the concert was hopelessly out of whack. Yes, the cold was cutting into my bones. Yes, I was paying several hundred dollars to watch Billy Joel on a screen when I could have stayed home and watched YouTube. Yes, the whole experience did not seem to match the generational audience it attracted. We were old, cold, anxious about why the event was not starting on time, without the supply of necessities we usually carry in our purses, and up way past our bedtime.

However, by the third song of the set, I was having a blast. I was enjoying the jumbotron screens, which reflected not only the band, but interesting visual effects that enhanced the production. I was enjoying Billy Joel’s relaxed, unscripted banter with the crowd of 70,000. I was singing along and dancing to the beat. I was not worried about getting home “on time.” In fact, I did not even know what “on time” meant.

It was a great evening. It might have been rock for the aged and I might be one of the aged, but the night certainly ROCKED. And maybe I found out that, as aged as I am, I still have a rocker chick inside of me!

What do you do that makes you feel young and wild again?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a youthful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Shopping For A Migraine

It amazes me that more people do not kill themselves at Walmart.

Once upon a time when I lived alone, I used to go to Walmart as Friday night entertainment. I’d get off work, stop somewhere for fast food, and wander the aisles of the supercenter. This era of my life convinced me that a) I have serious emotional problems and b) Walmart sells EVERYTHING! Also, it convinced me that I am programmed to buy almost everything. Walking into Walmart for colorful office supplies usually entailed walking out with a huge cartload of stuff and at least $100 less than I had when I entered.

As my life became more interesting, productive, and busy… and less pathetic, by the way… I stopped looking at Walmart as an entertainment destination. It was like finally leaving an abusive relationship. I stopped going to Walmart except when I visited my mother.

My mother always adored Walmart. When it came to shopping, her catchphrase was, “for $3 or $1.99 or $5 (or whatever remarkably low price something was), why be without?” Walmart was the perfect territory for such a philosophy. I ended up with some truly ugly clothes from Walmart because they were on clearance and… well, you never know. I still remember a powder blue polyester skirt with buttons down the front that I bought, at my mother’s prompting, because it was “only $3, so why be without?” I never wore the blasted thing. It took me years to finally abandon it to the mercies of the Goodwill bag.

As my mother aged and became frailer,  Amazon became a lifeline for her. She could get everything she needed delivered to her doorstep. Still, whenever I came to visit her, she always enjoyed a good outing to Walmart. I did not enjoy Walmart, but I did enjoy my mother. Max was a good sport whenever he was with me. He trailed behind us with the shopping cart while I pushed my mom in the wheelchair.

Once we moved to Florida, the whole mother-Walmart thing was more complicated. For one thing, we live within fairly easy driving distance of several Walmarts, but we are only really close to one of them. Unfortunately, the one to which we live closest, is known as “the bad Walmart.” We heard horror stories about carjackings and robberies and all kinds of sinister associations with that Walmart practically from the day we moved in. I am not the speediest person on my best day. I could probably not outrun a villain under the most ideal circumstances. An escape plan that included me pushing a wheelchair loaded with my mother and our purchases was beyond my imagination. Therefore, the “bad Walmart” was out of the question. That meant we traveled about 40 minutes each way just commuting to a more desirable and less lethal  Walmart… to say nothing of the extended time we spent shopping. Momma always had a list, but she loved traveling up and down each aisle, just to see what they had.

The other thing was that I could not push a shopping cart AND a wheelchair at the same time. My original plan was simply to load up my mother’s lap with the items she wanted to purchase, but I quickly realized that was not going to work. I tried putting one of those plastic grocery baskets on her lap and one on each of my arms. My last trip to Walmart with my mother was in 2016. I think I still have indentations on my extremities from the grocery basket handles. Somewhere about halfway through one of our first visits, I snagged a few reusable grocery bags and slipped them over the handles of her wheelchair. I was a train wreck. Flopping bags, cramped arms, bruised knees, sweat seeping from every pore, and low blood sugar- that was what Walmart meant to me.

One would ask why I did not just take my mother’s list and go to Walmart on my own to get what she wanted. That would not have met my mom’s needs. She loved getting out and feeling part of the world. And I loved my mother. As her body became increasingly fragile, her world got smaller and smaller. There was very little I could do to help her. Her health was declining and was never going to get better. It broke my heart. I could not make her physical health better. I could do nothing to stop her descent into disability. I could, however, inject some pleasure into her life. Going to Walmart was one big source of pleasure for her.

My mother has been gone for almost seven years. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have gone to Walmart in that time. The other day, I made the mistake of going there. I had a list of weirdly diverse items I needed, and I reasoned that Walmart was the only place that might sell all of them. If I avoided Walmart, which every instinct in my soul advised me to do, I would have to go to several other stores. I asked myself, “how bad could it be?” Wrong question.

I left the house at around 9:30. I decided to be brave and go to the “bad Walmart” because it was closest. My plan was to go to Walmart, stop by Ace Hardware if I could not obtain something on my list at Walmart, run into the dry cleaner to pick up our clothes, come home and eat something, and then leave again for my hair appointment at about 12:50. I clearly ingested some sort of alternate reality producing drug.

Actually, I had minimal trouble while shopping at Walmart. I noticed that the aisles seemed tidier than I remembered, and I did not run into too many shopping cart traffic jams. I did search for quite some time for a new outdoor welcome mat. When I asked someone where I could find such a beast, the employee told me to look in the “Home” section. The “Home” section consisted of about ten aisles. I know I walked down each one of them at least once before finding the welcome mats. Still, I was ultimately able to find everything on my list so I would not have to stop at Ace Hardware.

Then, I got on the check-out line. There were three people ahead of me. They all had huge carts of goods. I noticed a self-check area when I entered the store. I briefly considered moving down to that area, but I also noticed that they had ropes like a queue at Disney World to manage the self-check-out crowds. I did not think that was a good sign and I am not that speedy at self-check-out, so I figured I’d let a professional do it. It might have been a mistake to believe that, just because Walmart is paying someone minimum wage, that person can do the job faster than I can.

I waited in line for 15 minutes without it moving once. Finally, the checker finished with the first person in line. The second person was even more of a challenge. She had some sort of coupon that required management approval to input. From what I could glean from the conversation that came down the line from the cash register, Walmart’s system will not accept a coupon that is over some certain dollar amount unless a manager inputs an override code. The cashier would have to call a manager before the transaction could continue. Except the cashier does not “call” a manager at Walmart; the cashier stands helplessly at her register, flailing her arms trying to get the attention of a manager. After another 20 minutes, a manager finally came over to approve the discount. The line heaved a collective sigh of relief… until we learned that there was a second step to the process that required managerial approval.

The arm-flailing started over again. I considered passing a hat to everyone in line to see if we could collect the coupon amount. The crowd was getting ugly, though, and I

 was not sure if it was wise to try to collect a ransom from them. I have heard Walmart sells guns. I do not know if that is still true, but I know they sell knives because I saw them in my scenic trip through the “Home” section. It did not seem worth the risk. Finally, even the shopper waiting to get her coupon realized we had all somehow fallen into the Retail Twilight Zone. She told the checker to just take the item off her bill and she would purchase it somewhere else. The checker tried to do that, but the Walmart register system laughed maniacally and refused to comply.

As I waited in the line, I could feel my blood sugar dropping. I checked the time and realized I was not going to get to either the dry cleaners or home before my hair appointment. I decided instead to stop at a drive-through fast food place en route to the salon and pick up the cleaning after my hair appointment. Fifteen minutes later with no movement on the line, I realized I was not going to have time even to do a drive-through lunch. I also realized that not eating was not an option unless I wanted Walmart to call the paramedics when I blacked out. My guess is that calling the paramedics would have required some sort of managerial intervention, too. God only knows how long that would have taken. Anyway, since I was still in the check-out line, I grabbed a candy bar. I had to take two steps back to reach the shelf. The person behind me said, jokingly, “now you’ll have to go all the way to the end of the line.” I just barely kept from snarling when I replied, “not on your life!”

After waiting in line for 45 minutes with no progress, I surrendered. I moved my cart out of line. My initial thought was to abandon it in mid-aisle and leave, but I hated the idea of wasting all the time I had already invested in this purchasing process. It actually crossed my mind to bolt out the door with the merchandise and make a run for it, but that was the low blood sugar talking. I tentatively maneuvered my way down to the self-check-out line. I was able to access a machine in less than five minutes. I had a lot of stuff and much of it was unwieldy. It was not pretty, but I got her done. I left the store gobbling my candy bar. I just made it to my hair appointment.

Yes, Walmart does sell everything for low, low prices… including migraines and panic attacks.

What has been your worse retail experience? Don’t you think a few extra grams of carbohydrate would have made it more bearable? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a Walmart-free day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Lent

Many of you know that I was raised as a Roman Catholic, spent most of my life worshipping in that tradition, and converted to the Episcopal Church about five years ago. These two denominations are different in some ways that are important to me, but they also share many traditions. Lenten observance is one such tradition.

Lent is the 40-day period before Easter when Christians make a special effort to reflect on their lives and improve their spirituality before Easter. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before Lent. Traditionally, Mardi Gras is a celebration of riotous living because it is the last hurrah before the fasting, praying, and abstinence of Lent. Within the Catholic faith, there are specific dietary observances to follow during those 40 days. In addition, Catholics are encouraged to commit to some special activity or to give up some enjoyable indulgence to observe Lent. As far as I know, the Episcopal Church does not have any specific food requirements, like not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. Still, we are encouraged to do something special to enrich our relationship with God during this time of purification.

I take this opportunity seriously. I like to think of doing something that is not rooted in the negative. I like to think of doing something that makes me push me outside my normal view of the world. I like to think of doing something that will allow me to discern a difference in myself and/or others. Last year, I repeated an activity I did 30 years or so ago. Each day during Lent, I mailed a letter to someone in my life who contributed positively to my spiritual development. Some of these letters were to people I interact with virtually every day. Others went to people I have not seen in more than three decades. As I wrote my letters, it was wonderful to revisit the experiences and impressions I had with these people. It brought their place in my spiritual development into sharp focus and, as a result, it brought what they taught me about spiritual development into sharp focus. The response I received was also enormously gratifying. I brought joy to the people I contacted and many of them, in turn, brought joy to me in their replies.

I wish I could say that I always undertake such ambitious Lenten observances. This year, I have been prayerfully considering what activities might be helpful for me. Last fall, I developed and taught a 4-part course on stewardship. It was something that I felt, to the depth of my soul, that God wanted me to do. That feeling is a rare and wonderful thing. It is a special blessing to experience God’s grace and direction in such a confidently powerful way. The whole program ended up being such a fantastic, joyful, affirming experience for me. I thought I might look to that program to see if I could pull anything out that would work as a special Lenten devotional.

One of the key concepts of the class was that stewardship consists of three responsibilities- taking care of the gifts God gives us, using the gifts God gives us wisely, and sharing the gifts God gives us generously. I decided to embrace three observances- one for each responsibility- for this Lent.

Taking Care of the Gifts God Give Us

One of the biggest gifts God gives us is the natural world. I am embarrassed to admit this, but I have not even embraced the most basic conservation strategies of the modern world- recycling. My diet soda and iced tea bottles skip the recycling bin and make their way directly to the trash can. In the grand scheme of things, I know my lack of recycling does not make a dramatic difference to the planet. Still, the fact that I do not bother to undertake this minor task tells me that I am not giving God’s Earth the respect He deserves. As a small token of my desire to change, I am going to start putting my recyclable disposables into the proper bin.

Using the Gifts God Gives Us Wisely

This is an area that I have been fine-tuning greatly in the past year. In the past, I was inclined to downplay my talents and gifts, fearing that they were not sufficient to contribute anything special to God’s work. I have been realizing that God gave me these gifts because He wanted me to do something with them. If they are not sufficient, He will grow them to what they need to be. Sometimes, the act of doing is the mechanism for growing. I learned this as I dove into projects at church- Alpha, Blessed Stewardship, ECW chapter chairperson. It looks like I will be taking on another big project for my church starting in May. Since it is not a done deal yet, I won’t say what it is. However, as I pray about my Lenten observances, I have felt my mind rambling to thoughts about how to administer that project and how to promote it. The project is not something I volunteered for, but I think it is something God wants me to do… if for no other reason than to show me that, with His help, I can. I think His hope for me is that I will trust Him more and start listening to His exhortations about what He wants me to do next in my life. My resolution during Lent is to start organizing the random thoughts in my head to build the framework of a plan.

Sharing the Gifts God Gives Us Generously

I try to be generous all year long. I am so aware of the many ways God has blessed me. I enjoy giving to others. I do not want to just “give more money” because “giving more money” is something that we should do whenever we see need. I want to attach the giving more time, talent, or treasure to some specific action that will be meaningful to my spiritual development. Being a good steward of God’s gifts is more about the benefit to the giver than the benefit to the recipient. This Lent, I am going to concentrate on a project that is close to my heart. I have been wandering around writing my third book. I have started and stalled several times. I recently began a more concerted effort to structure and draft the book. This Lent, I resolve to complete the first draft of this book. The book is about my mother’s life and my journey with her in this world and onto the doorstep of the next. The mental, emotional, and spiritual exploration I am doing in conjunction with the writing of this book is proving to be quite soul enhancing. I know that God is using this process to remind me of His grace. To share the gifts of His grace, the writing talent He has given me, and any treasure that results from the publication, I will give half the proceeds from the book to St. James Episcopal Church. I do not expect that this will fund any major project- heck, I doubt if it will buy pizza for the youth group-  but doing this act is more about the benefit to me than the benefit of the church.

Please pray for me!

Do you have any observance you embrace during Lent? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a prayerful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Apopalypse

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!

Comments

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 🙂

The Life Cycle Of A Flower- Part 1

Flowers have always been a part of my life. It is not that I am a gardener or anything. In fact, I do Mother Nature a favor by not gardening. Still, many of the milestones and memories in my life have a floral undertone.

The first time I remember flowers was when I was four or five years old. I was taking dance lessons. I do not remember anything about those dance lessons except that I wore a leotard and had two distinct kinds of shoes. We played Farmer in the Dell and Hokey Pokey. Why I needed two distinct kinds of shoes for these activities, I don’t know. We had a recital. I am not sure how playing Farmer in the Dell or Hokey Pokey prepared us in any way to perform at a recital, nor can I remember specifically what we did at the recital. The point is that there was a recital. At the conclusion of the performance, little Kathleen Murray, who lived across the street from us, got flowers from her parents. I remember the little bouquet tied up with ribbons and lace. My parents missed the memo about the flowers. I had no flowers. And I was crushed. I am sure I was overtired and overstimulated. I started to howl, which was extremely uncharacteristic of me. I was always an easygoing, amenable child. I rarely asked for anything. I certainly never threw a tantrum. I do not know if I was exactly throwing a flowerless tantrum exactly. I was just very, very devastated and sad that I did not have flowers. I was inconsolable. No one could make me see reason until my Grandpa Goodness (yes, that was his name) said I could come over to his house the next day and pick all the flowers I wanted for a bouquet from his beautiful, lush garden. I initially objected because my bouquet would not have ribbons like Kathleen Murray’s. Grandpa said he would find me some ribbon and I finally calmed down.

The next day, I went to visit Grandpa and he took me around the garden, patiently clipping anything I wanted. We ended up with not one but two bouquets. He wrapped the stems together with aluminum foil. He found some black grosgrain ribbon and tied it around the bouquets. It was not white lace and satin ribbons, but I was fine with what we created. I spent time with Grandpa and had lots of colorful, aromatic blooms. Besides, a full night of sleep undoubtedly improved my mood and temperament. I was much easier to appease after a night’s rest. My grandparents had six grown children, all but one of whom lived in the same general area. When I was born, I came somewhere in the middle of my grandparents’ twenty-two grandchildren. I think the novelty had pretty much worn off by the time I was born. I think grandchildren were a bit of a fungible commodity to my grandparents. For me to get Grandpa to myself for a whole morning was a wonderful treat that I remember nearly 60 years later.

I always felt bad about my behavior over the recital flower fiasco. Yes, I know I was just a small, overtired child and small, overtired children sometimes act out. Still, I was always a sensitive kid. I knew that my reaction was out of control and probably hurtful to my parents. Years and years later, I brought the incident up to my mother to apologize. She blurted out that she had always continued to feel bad about the incident as well. She thought she had scarred me for life by not getting me flowers at my first recital. What actually scarred me for life was my throwing a fit about it. I think the incident scarred my mother for life, too. This was not only my first dance recital; it was my last. Even though I asked if I could go back to dance lessons when we moved to California, my mother refused on the grounds that she thought I was just asking because a friend of mine was taking the lessons. I think she refused because she could not bear the idea of a repeat of the dance recital flower fiasco.

It was not that my parents had anything against flowers. When I turned nine, they gave me a corsage to wear to school on my birthday. They even matched it to the outfit I wore. I loved it that first year. The next year, I went to school with my yellow carnation corsage pinned to my green and yellow jumper. I was beaming. It was my birthday. I had flowers. My family would give me presents and celebrate that evening. Unfortunately, soon after I got to school, the children started to tease me. I do not know how many kids got involved, but it seemed like hundreds were pushing into my personal space chiding me and giving me “birthday” spankings. This crowd did not feel like a bunch of ten-year-olds in a space together. It felt like a monolithic evil force that was capable of much more damage than the sum of its parts. I felt overwhelmed and trapped. I swear that the crush of kids around me actually lifted me off the ground. Between the words and the blows, I panicked and began to sob. My teacher, who was known as a bit of a holy terror, rescued me. She channeled the “holy” part and rushed in like an avenging angel. Scattering hordes of children in her wake, she pulled me into her substantial, cozy bosom. She hugged me and dried my tears.

At recess, I went into the girls’ bathroom. From inside the stall, I heard other girls discussing the birthday spanking incident. They were angry at the teacher for interrupting the fun. One of the girls commented that I should have known what was coming because I thought I was so great wearing flowers to school. I listened to them talk unkindly about me for a few minutes before they left the bathroom. I cried again, then composed myself and went back to class.

That night I told my mother I did not want her to get me flowers anymore. I did not tell her why. I think her feelings were hurt. Mine were, too.

Stay tuned next week for more flower petals from the garden of my life! As I thought about the role flowers have played in my life, I was amazed at how many incidents I recalled. There were too many for one blog post, so I decided to create a part 2!

Have a blooming day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Taking A Break Or Broken?

Those of you who read my post last week know I have been struggling lately with time and energy management. In exploring new opportunities, I find myself unable to juggle all the activities and routines I would like to embrace. I know the idea is that, as I find healthy habits and mechanisms, I should be letting go of less healthy choices. I get that and I have been trying to do a better job of making the healthier choices. The problem comes about when I am trying to choose between two healthy activities.

I had been doing very well throughout the holiday season. I felt happy and I was being gentle with myself. I had momentum and vitality. I delighted in the new experiences I tried. I kept up with the healthy activities that I have built into my life since retirement. I was writing blog pieces regularly and smoothly. I was walking my six to seven miles a day. I was keeping up with my Bible reading, prayer, and devotional activities. I spent my evenings bonding with Max over conversation and old videos. I maintained or improved my relationships. In addition, I took advantage of opportunities to engage with a wider range of people. I made a more energetic start on writing my next book. I was keeping a regular meditation schedule. I added another Scripture study. I was keeping all the balls in the air and enjoying the swishing noise they made as they circled above my head.

Then, something happened right around New Year’s Eve. I do not know if it was the post-holiday letdown or if it was something more significant. I had some sad news about someone important to me at that time. In fact, that person is someone who has particularly encouraged my new outlook. Maybe I am just spoiled and whiny. I do not know. Whatever the reason, I crashed over the New Year’s weekend. I have tried pretending I did not. I have tried talking myself back onto the happy wagon. I have tried spinning the wheels and trying to jump back on the bike. Nothing has worked.

Those balls that had been pleasantly whooshing above my head came hurling down onto my cranium, creating a kind of emotional concussion. I am confused. The rhythm of my new life broke down and all my momentum was gone. I was getting behind on my Scripture study. I was walking around my bedroom in the middle of the night, trying to get my six miles done. I was taking shortcuts in communication. I was getting annoyed with Max for trying to convince me to learn enough deep information about Christian apologetics to advance arguments in Sunday School. I felt like I was getting nothing accomplished.

It is bad enough that I felt scattered and like I was not accomplishing anything. What came next was worse. It was a feeling that my brain, energy, and motivation were drying up. Ideas and thoughts that had been so free flowing only a few days before seem to squeeze out of my mind with all the fluidity of the last bit of toothpaste in the tube. I had several of my “not fit for human consumption” days. I tried to ignore the feeling and continue with planned activity, hoping it would help. Unfortunately, it did not help, and I just feel empty. If I feel anything, I just feel guilty for not being better able to engage.

I am going to try to cut myself some slack here. It certainly has not helped to beat myself up. Maybe a gentler approach will help. I am going to take a few deep breaths. Hopefully, I am not broken; I just need a break.

What do you do when you hit the doldrums? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have an unbroken day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂