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Up One Rung

Most of my life, I thought that the secret to self-esteem lie in not caring about what other people think of me. That, and thinking highly of myself, were the ways to good mental health, or so I thought. Even after being told that I was wrong, I still remained convinced that the trick to getting over anxieties about what others might think, was to not care. Or at least act like it. But forcing myself to not care when I really did, created worse problems, causing me to set my site here to private. So if you got a message saying you do not have permission to access this blog, please know that it was not just you – it was everyone.

My seven faithful followers (as of 11.30.17) may remember my post about anxieties I experienced when I saw that people were reading my posts. While I have no way of knowing exactly who is reading (and if there is a way to know, I do not want to know), just knowing that someone is reading, really presented problems for me. When I saw the statistics, my heart would start racing and a sort of panic presented itself. I did not like this feeling and wanted it to stop, yet it did not.

All my wishing in the world did nothing to improve this. In fact, it sometimes made my anxiety worse. So I set my site to private and embarked on a mission to either give my fears merit or get over them, once and for all. I analyzed exactly what I was doing here and why I had this fear of what other people thought. This time I went about it differently, this time I prayed. And so far, this tactic has worked.

Today, I no longer concern myself with what people think of me. Neither do I try to fool myself into thinking that I do not care, for of course I care what other people think of me. The fact that it is none of my business, well that takes care of my caring. Just as it is no one else’s business what I think of another, what another thinks of me is none of mine.

And finally I feel free to be the me God intended for me to be. Finally, I can live with everyone not liking me. Finally I have moments of feeling happy, joyous and free, all at the same time even when life gets overwhelming. Finally, I feel like I am up one rung on the ladder of life. 

 

 

Let’s Talk

I discovered my love for displaying memories in a scrapbook long, long ago, a trait I also loved about my grandmother. My first album I believe was from her – back when they were comprised of what looked like black construction paper. For my 13th birthday, I got a fancy one with hard plastic covering the photo; I still have both and just recently took the photos out. I will be making decisions on which ones to preserve and looking for ideas on what to do with the others, which will number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

By the time I graduated from high school, I had two large albums full in addition to the two I mention above. Dave & I got married and as our children grew, albums were added to the collection on the living room shelves. Our scrapbooks were often looked-through and thoroughly enjoyed by many. So I started to wonder, is there a difference in this digital age?

Well of course there is, is what I am thinking, but exactly what is it – I am not sure. A couple of decades ago, if your picture was in my album, then it was fair game to show it to whoever stopped by my house. So what is the difference if your picture is on my website, is it fair game to show it to whoever stops by the site? The obvious difference I see is whether or not I know the person. I am not going to invite strangers in to my house to look at my albums. So why would I on the internet?

While this is a good point, let’s look at the other side. I know a few people who are very adamant about their picture not being on the internet. I love and respect these people, and therefore, started wondering myself if there is some reason why I should refrain from posting photos on the internet. I asked a couple of my friends what their reasoning was and if they thought I should also have their concerns, and a definitive answer I have not heard. The more I searched for reasons on why I should not post, the more I felt a sort of paranoia, like there was something out there that would hurt me and I must find out what it is because being clueless was creating too much anxiety.

So while trying to come up with my own Photo Posting Protocol, I found many interesting lawsuits over people posting photos on Facebook; some of them I would have never believed, though every one of them had one thing in common – there was something that someone wanted to hide. The biggest issue according to my search results was about pictures taken at house parties and then posted on social media. This seemed to be a common suit. People thought they were in private and therefore acted in a way they would not want their employer to see and they did. And you know what? It seems that people have an expectation of privacy in many instances where it does not exist.

For me, I have finally found that I am fine with posting my photo online, for the only reasoning I could come up with for not doing so suggests that I ought get over myself. The sinful sort of pride and an over-inflated ego were at the basis of why I would refrain, and so therefore, I won’t. And while doing my due diligence to ensure that I don’t wind up in a suit, I found that when it comes to old family photos, most courts classify it as “de minimus,” meaning “of too little concern for the courts.” I can see Judge Judy yelling, “Don’t waste the court’s time!”

002-1What about an old family photo that was sent to friends in a Christmas card nearly 50 years ago?  Who do you suppose owns this photo, and can they do with it what they wish? I was surprised to find out, although it really should not be surprising, that the owner of a photo has nothing to do with who is in the photo or has material possession of the photo. It makes sense that a person could not possibly own all of the photos in which they appear, and many people could not own the same photo. No, a photograph’s owner is whoever pressed the button on the camera, causing the picture to be taken. In this case, my mom owns the photo, as it was taken with a tripod and timer. And obviously, this photo is before I came along. About two years later, I took the cat’s place. And about ten years after that, this very cat died in my arms on the way to the vet. Her name was Tammy.

The photos I will be posting, unless otherwise noted, belong to either my mom, my dad, me, or Dave. If you would like a copy of a certain photo or the right to use it somehow, please send me an email. You will find my contact information on the Information Station page, which you can find on the drop-down menu above.

At any rate, when I was presented with thousands of family photos a few years ago, I set out to do some sort of photo-blog online. For some reason, I felt angst about starting it, so I asked some. My parents, of course, and my brothers, I also asked my aunt, and three of them said, “Yes, go for it!” My brothers were more like, “Well it depends, what are you going to do?” And since I didn’t really have a clue, I did nothing.

Today, I have a better direction and am ready to get this project going. Most of the photos will be on Shutterfly and you can request access by sending me an email. If you find a photo of yourself on my blog or Shutterfly site and would like it to be removed, simply send me an email. No need to get me in a suit, and I’m not talking about a cat suit, nor in the way of 70’s style, but with the court of law you file.

And speaking of cat suits, I told you I took the cat’s place! See –

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And you thought I was kidding… Nope, just crying.

The Q-tip Quip

For years, when I would complain of not feeling well, Dave would listen to me the first or second time and then suggest I not focus so much on the ailment. Although he meant well, this usually did not go over well with me. Whether it was my inflamed sinuses or a migraine headache, a shooting pain or blurry vision, or my favorite – my fuzzy ear, his solution almost always involved positive thinking. I accused him of not caring. He said if I cared I would get it checked-out and not just complain about it.

So a few years ago, I did just that. And after two rounds of a heavy-duty antibiotic, I got the “all clear,” yet I still felt something going on in my ear. My doctor was puzzled, so she sent me to an ENT specialist. I just knew it was going to bad. I had gotten my ear infection after swimming in the Gulf when there was bad bacteria there, before we were aware.

So the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist looked in my ear, and simply said, “Quit using Q-tips.”

I sat there a little dumb-founded. It seemed as though the appointment was now over, but he said it like an aside.

“That’s it?” I asked.

He replied, “Yep. Your ears are trying to heal themselves and you are not letting them.”

No, something else is going on, I thought. Does this guy even know my plight?

Trying not to seem like the hypochondriac that my husband has lately insinuated me to be, I inquired about the feeling of cotton moving around in my ear and the associated pain I felt. His response – “The ear canal is supposed to have skin.”

Yeah? And? I sat there a little confused. The questioning, and almost angry, look on my face prompted him to explain that what I am feeling is skin trying to form, and the lack of it means I have nothing protecting my ear canals. “Quit using Q-tips and go enjoy life,” he instructed as he walked out the door.

I was definitely dumbfounded.

The first thing I did when I got in my car, was cry. Is this guy for real? What if he is wrong? These were my immediate thoughts. Next, my thoughts revolved around the amount of money I had just spent to be told I was fine. I felt happy about this, being fine, yet scared of the notion that he could be wrong. And although I was sure that Dave would be happy to hear this news, I was just as sure he would not be thrilled about the cost.

I started thinking of ways I could spin this, to make it seem like less of a waste of money somehow, and after a few different scenarios went through my mind, I laughed at myself. “This is no excuse to go backwards,” I said to myself aloud, and when I got home and Dave asked, “What did the doctor say?” I sobbed and said, “Quit using Q-tips.”

The doctor’s words rang around in my mind for days. “Quit using Q-tips and go enjoy life.” Why did this make me so mad? No – he’s wrong, he has to be, I kept thinking. Doctors are wrong all the time. And then it happened. My “light-bulb moment” or “burning bush,” if you would, of how what I think, really does create the life I have – physically, socially, and of course, mentally. I could clearly see that I had two choices – I could go on a mission to prove the doctor wrong or I could go on a mission to enjoy life. Damn-it, Dave had this all along, for which I called him a “moron” many times.

The following days and weeks, whenever I felt that feeling of cotton moving around in my ear, instead of thinking it was some antibiotic-resistant bacteria multiplying close to my brain, I imagined my own skin cells, diligently organizing all the tools needed to repair my inner ear. When I felt pain associated with the process, I visualized healthy cells attaching themselves to my skin, much like nailing a stud to a wall.

Two and a half years later – a full 30 months after that appointment with the specialist – I am happy to report that my ear issue seems to be solved, all by not using q-tips, and I’m sure, changing the way I was thinking about it. I have experienced other sinus issues for which I have also found a solution that does not include decongestants, which I will be sharing about soon.

Until then, may our perspectives positively develop into something good!

It’s a bunny, it’s a monkey, it’s Susie!

People may have thought (and with good reason) that I was likely the latest resident of Royal Palm Beach to loose their driver’s license (or their home 😉 ), but thank God that was not the cause of my peddling more than nine miles around the town yesterday. “No, I am not a homeless person loitering in the lot,” I said to myself, and really, to others when they drove through the industrial park, looking at me a little funny as I packed up my bike for the day. “No, I am not a bum looking for a handout,” I silently said to people parking in the lot at Costco, “for if I were, would I have a Costco card? Doubt it,” I said to myself as I walked into the store, and then wondered if anyone watching me was wondering what I was going to get at Costco on my bicycle.wp-1488551650627.jpeg

I didn’t think much more about it, rolling down Royal Palm Beach Boulevard, heading toward the DMV. My mind was more preoccupied with patting myself on the back for what a big a girl I have become. You see, my truck’s steering-something-or-other was loose, and although I allowed fear to get the first foothold, I turned it around and showed it the door and decided to be a big girl and see what I could do about it. As I determined where I would take it and what to do while waiting, fear came storming back in, and this time brought a friend – the head of the pity party committee.

While the two sources of major discontent tried their best to talk me into being the party’s guest of honor, I declined. After arguing with them incessantly, I remembered that the only way to win with these two is by doing, not saying. “Faith without works is dead,” as Jesus said, whereas works is synonymous with action. As in, what are you doing to combat these two trouble makers? So I went to Walmart and bought new tires for my bike.

wp-1488551548437.jpegI also splurged on a side mirror that wraps around the handle bars, which I found to be real handy. The first time a fellow biker scared the heck out of my while whizzing by on my right, I was like, “Duh, Susie, what did you get that mirror for?” I was prepared each time after that. And I got passed a lot, for I was not on a mission, I was simply enjoying the journey. I had all day, or so I thought, to mosey on down to the DMV and get my tags renewed.

On my way, I stopped at Commons Park, had a picnic and took pictures.

I then got an hour’s worth of work done while waiting at the DMV. On the way back to retrieve my truck, I decided that it would be good mental health maintenance to do this once a week – to get out and ride my bike with no time restraints tugging at my mind. As I thought of my usual mental state, I decided that loosing this much time once a week would frazzle me too much. So I changed the frequency to once a month. By the time I reached my truck, I had talked myself into once a quarter being totally sufficient.

The absolute best part of the whole entire day – are you ready for this? My truck – it was a loose bolt. Now how many mechanics are going to hand you your keys and say, “It was a loose bolt. Have a nice day!” I was dumbfounded. Really? Well I can’t believe the difference in the way it drives. He could have gotten a hundred bucks out of me, easily, and I would have been happy. But he is a good guy, George – the owner, and just one of the reasons why I will continue to take my vehicles to Value Tire in Royal Palm Beach. Much more than tires, they do, they do bushings and calipers and the knuckle-like things, they do brakes and of course, tires and alignments. So the next time your auto needs some help to get it rolling down the road safely, give them a call! When I need them, I say, “OK Google, what’s the number for Value Tire in Royal Palm Beach?” And then my phone even offers to call it. While I hope I don’t have to rely on them too much, it is nice knowing that I can when I need to, and having my truck for about 220,000 miles now, I sure am glad I found Value Tire in Royal Palm Beach!

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Cake of Cheese

Dave is good. He called on his way home and after we hung up, I thought, “Poor guy, he’s probably wondering, does ‘I don’t want cake’ really mean I shouldn’t get cake, or is this one of those times when I should know better?” Then I prayed for help accepting whatever he would decide to do.

But surely he won’t get cake – he knows I am sugared-out. And where is he going to get a non-GMO cake, is what I was thinking. Yeah, he knows better. And he did. So guess what he did? He got me a “cake of cheese.”

Not a cheesecake, but a cheese ball, and if you know me, well then you know that means that Dave is good. So now on my birthday, a cheese ball is now called a cake of cheese. So instead of cake and ice cream, we had cheese and pretzels. And it was yummy! And non-GMO, of course.

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It was a good day to have a good day!

I almost started to wallow and wonder why I had forgotten to change my appointment for my semi-annual teeth cleaning, for who wants to go to the dentist on their birthday? I decided instead to feel grateful that I can. I decided instead to call it a ‘celebrate me’ day. And after getting my teeth cleaned, I went to meet Tim Dorsey.

WAY out of my comfort zone I went – all the way down to Boynton Beach. South Congress Avenue, to be exact. It was so much out my zone, it took me ten u-turns to find the WXEL television station.

wp-1486507191742.jpegSo what was I doing at the WXEL’s television station for the afternoon? I was in the studio audience during the taping of their show “Between the covers,” which I found to be a very exciting and fun time. The people there at WXEL could not have been friendlier or more welcoming, they were great. It was a neat experience all around.

Tim Dorsey is the author whom host Ann Bocock interviewed for this show, which airs on Friday evenings at 5:30 on the local PBS station in the West Palm Beach area. Unaware that they would have books there for purchase, I bought mine at Barnes and Noble and in the future will be giving the public television station my business. Just sayin. And while I’m at it, let me say that this author, Tim Dorsey, is a super funny guy. All twenty of his books are probably pretty funny too. That’s what the lady who sat next to me said.

So the life-changing stuff for me is this – I decided to have a different attitude about my appointment and it worked. I had a wonderful time at the dentist today. Driving down to Boynton Beach, I told myself repeatedly that I was excited, not anxious or fearful about stepping way down south out my box, into a studio, all by myself – and it worked. In hindsight, I was a little giddy and likely appeared over-exuberant. And I loved every minute of it!

On another note, the one that comes with, “Happy Birthday to you,” I would like to thank everyone who wished me well on Facebook as well as called, texted or emailed. I am so blessed to have such good peeps in my life. And thank you all for reading and following my blog. If you like it, please share! If you don’t, well share it anyway – it’s my birthday! 🙂

Reel Big Fish at the Fair

I think it is funny, how I had never heard of Reel Big Fish before exactly one month ago. On that day, December 26, 2016, we – me, Amanda and David – were driving the three hours from Ft. Myers to West Palm  when David asked if we wanted to listen to a CD he had. We said, “Sure,” and when it was over, agreed that we all liked it.

Three weeks ago when I was packing up stuff to send to Amanda, I saw the CD in the stack of stuff she had asked me to mail. I grabbed it and played it for Dave later that night. Although the genre is not his first choice (or even second or third), he enjoyed it well enough. They have some funny lyrics, and while reading them on the jacket cover, I noticed that the CD was from 1998. We were surprised we hadn’t heard of them since this was the type of music most of us mostly listened to back then.

Last week, we went to the fair, and not because I wanted to see the fair, but because I wanted to buy baby chickens there, as we had done a dozen years ago. We found out that baby chicks are no longer sold at the fair, which was sad to hear, and that the following week, Reel Big Fish would be playing. For some reason, this excited me. And since Dave’s been saying I need to get out more, I made the decision that we would be going back to see the band. We told David of the date and asked if he wanted to meet us there, which he did, and we all concurred that it was a good time.

The guys in the band are super funny. One of them was like, “Okay, we are going to sing the song that made us famous in the 90’s,” and upon hearing Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on, go play… the crowd went wild, singing along and jumping up and down and I was like, “Oh, I didn’t know they sang this!” They would go on playing for a few minutes before whining to a halt and then say, “No, no, no… just kidding, that’s not our song,” then say whoever it was and then, “Now, this is the song that made us famous in the 90’s.” They went on like this with four or five songs. It was really funny. Every time, I looked at David for confirmation – is this really their song? And only on the last one did he nod his head yes, which they played all the way through, proving it was indeed their song. I knew it from back in the day and concluded they must have been a one hit wonder band I didn’t remember. I also found this odd, since they were so freaking funny.

 

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Amanda’s Visit at Christmas – Part 2

wp-1483320410643.jpegIn Part 1 of Amanda’s Visit at Christmas 2016, I left-off on Christmas day in Ft. Myers, and in case you missed it, this has become my favorite part of Christmas – when we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus at Dave’s cousin’s house. She goes all-out, birthday cake and all. I love it, even though I believe that this time of year was when Jesus was conceived, not born. Still, it is one of the best things I have ever seen.

Afterwards, we stopped by to see some friends of ours and by the time we got back to the condo, everyone was beyond ready for bed. The next morning, I drove Dave to the boat docked at the beach and the kids and I packed up my truck and headed home. Dave enjoyed a day by himself on the boat fishing. The three of us made plans for the following day to go out to dinner and then head downtown to see Sandi the Christmas tree, sculpted entirely out of sand.

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Choreographed to music, the lights danced around, blinked, and changed color quickly. It was pretty neat. Not missing a chance to capitalize, West Palm Beach made Sandi a star – she had trailer just like the movie stars and “Sandi Swag” was offered for sale.

Here, Amanda and I sit in Sandi’s dressing area – a good spot for a photo-opp.

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The following day, Amanda said goodbye to her dad, and she and I headed north. Because we needed to be at the Orlando airport at 6:00 in the morning, we decided to drive up and spend the night. We had planned on taking the long way and stopping in Sebring to see Jonathon, which we did, although we wound up taking the long, long… long, long way.

wp-1483402366629.jpegIn hindsight, I somewhat enjoyed it. I am glad to know where River Ranch is, and am happy I can say that I have driven through it. Even more so, I am glad to know that right down the road from it are fishing and boating communities. The best part though, and yes, I know this is just weird, but to be a little scared, driving in the pitch dark between Reedy Lake and Lake Arbuckle on a two-lane tiny road with no shoulder, well, I would have rather been with no one but Amanda, and since it was indeed her sitting next to me, well, in hindsight I can say it was a bit thrilling. My “drama-fix” for the year, perhaps.

I thought I knew where I was going and it was not until I saw signs for Ft. Drum that I realized something was wrong. “Ft. Drum!” I exclaimed, “we are going to pass Debbie’s house,” I told Amanda, “that’s not right!” After chatting for a few about our friend while I tried to decide what to do or where to pull over, Amanda pulled up the map on her phone. She showed me what it said. We determined that turning around was not the answer. So we took five hours to get to Sebring. They were also some of the best hours of conversation.

After having dinner with Jonathon, we continued north to Monroe’s on the Lake in Sanford, Florida. Unfortunately, I could not avoid I-4, although I would not have known that I wanted to until it was too late anyway. I-4 was under construction, bumpy with uneven pavement like I have never seen. The six lanes of highway twisted and turned and were as narrow as could be, and with semi’s barreling through the 60 mph zone going 80 while tourists slowed down to 40, trying to figure out where to go, it made for the worst experience on the road I have ever had. Amanda even groaned when she looked at the map and saw we had 20 more miles of it to go. Finally, we made it to our hotel a little before 11, and the first thing Amanda said was, “I see why dad choose this hotel!”

wp-1483449712211.jpegSituated on Lake Monroe in Sanford, Florida, this affordable hotel had a friendly staff and nice rooms. The room we were in on the second floor overlooking the pool was nice anyway, with a mini-fridge and wood (laminate) floor. The bed was comfy and had the type of pillow-top comforter that I love. Perhaps Dave figured, with a bass fish for an emblem, how can you go wrong? I am glad he wasn’t wrong.

In the morning I took Amanda to the airport and waited around, hoping to get a picture of her plane departing. Realizing it would be another 20 minutes or so, I decided to go back to the hotel, only 10 minutes away, and take them from there. Before leaving, I took a picture of the airport, where it appears that Allegiance Air has the place all to itself. The place that reminds me so much of middle-school pickup.wp-1483449362046.jpegBack at the hotel, I saw a plane take off at 7:20. I took a video and pretended that I knew it was Amanda’s plane. Then I set out to take photos of the scenery that surrounded me. wp-1483403287918.jpegThis would be a nice place to meet up with others, whatever the occasion. I believe they also have a banquet room, and this beautiful gazebo is in a nice yard area in between the hotel and lake. I also spotted a huge grill/smoker but do not know if this is available for guests or what the story is on that. Worth checking out though if you are looking for something like this and enjoy doing that sort of thing (like us).wp-1483403287927.jpeg

 

Amanda’s Visit at Christmas 2016

Three hours north and then a half hour west in the middle of nowhere, was about all I knew of the road trip I was taking to go get Amanda from the Sanford Airport. Although not in the middle of nowhere, much of the two-lane road ran right through the St. John’s River.

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And right through a fish camp.

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Arriving at the small airport just north of the Orlando International reminded me of middle-school pickup back in the day. Almost immediately, traffic came to a complete stop, where, for about ten minutes, I waited.

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Traffic started moving slowly and I inched my way closer and closer to the terminal. Then Amanda called, she had retrieved her luggage and was on the curb waiting. It was just like middle-school pickup.

The next day, back in our neck of the woods, I spotted a new sign I thought might interest someone:

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One day, Amanda and I went downtown to take Dave to lunch. We went in to see the tree he had been telling us about, and of course, get a picture.

wp-1483302734740.jpegOur tree at home is a bit less traditional. Dave did all the decorating and I love it. “Dreaming of a black-light Christmas” is our song this year!

 

Presenting the Raffey Family Christmas Tree of 2016:
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The “pilot” Blacklight Christmas

For Christmas, we went to Ft. Myers, where, Dave and John carried on Gus’ tradition of hosting a Prime Rib dinner on Christmas Eve, followed by opening presents. Fourteen people got their fill and there were leftovers. Costco came through once again.

Dave said Gus’ traditional grace, to which Jeff and I traditionally tacked-on, “Rub-a-dub dub, let’s eat this grub!”

wp-1483303257394.jpegThen we opened presents. Here, Dave is reading the tag – To David From Santa. At some point, he looked at me, confused. “You sure this is for me?” “Yes, finish reading the tag,” I told him. Because you will always be David first here, he read. And our gift tags confirmed this.

wp-1483317210859.jpegSanta got him cookies – Butter Pecan Meltaways – to be exact. In a round tin with the cookie maker’s name written across the top it and, “a bite above the rest,” I had to try one. The name of “David’s” was a plus.

wp-1483303310748.jpegMan, am I glad that Dave does not enjoy them nearly as much as I do. We would have to fight over them. But as luck would have it, or his big, kind heart, he allowed me to eat almost the entire tin of cookies.

On Christmas Day, we did the traditional get-together at Dave’s cousin’s house. After lunch we played games and then sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.

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Visit my site on Shutterfly to see more pictures.

The following day we came home and planned out Amanda’s last few days here.

To be continued…

Big Block Party of Birds

I took this video on Christmas day in Ft. Myers. Not a rare sight for those whose yard we were in; however, I was amazed. It was really something to be standing in the middle of! And I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother. Ha ha ha!!

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Saturday, In the Parker – Part Two

Exactly a month after Dave’s dad passed away, we were at his house, just Dave and I, on a Saturday night. Earlier that day, we had attended a celebration of life for Dave’s cousin, Peggy, then went to see the sunset when we “accidentally” wound up going over the bridge on to Sanibel. Since we were already there, we made the most out of our six dollars and drove down the island. We stopped at The Love Boat Ice Cream Shop where I ordered a Turtle Sundae and almost ate all three scoops by myself. It was the best ice cream.

So, back at the house after the six-dollar sunset, Dave was in the living room watching television and I in the master bedroom reading, when a lady walked right in and greeted us.

“Well hi there,” I heard a lady’s voice say just outside the bedroom door. I walked to the entryway where a lady who appeared to be in her 80’s stood in bare feet and a nightgown.

“Hi,” I said, walking toward her, “can I help you?”

“Yes, please,” she said, as she reached out to me. I came closer and she grabbed my arm. Instantly, the look on her face changed. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “He is so mean,” she said, and then started to cry.

Somewhat shocked, Dave and I both prompted her to tell us what was going on; who was she talking about? All we got was how he is so mean and says she can’t do anything right. The strong smell of alcohol coupled with the slur of her words spoke volumes to me. Of course, her choice of words – blaming her husband for all of her woes and ensuring her spot as the victim – prompted me to pray for her while at the same time, thanking God for removing such a mindset from me. While she was spinning it one way, I was seeing it another. I was seeing what I looked like just a little more than seven short years ago.

We let her go on, understanding ourselves that this had more to do with an insecure drunk woman than anything else. We asked her to come sit down and she refused. I wanted to get her a tissue but she did not see the need. “I’ll be fine,” she said, as she gripped my arm tightly with one hand and used the other to gather a fistful of her nightgown and wipe her face with it.

After a few more minutes, I suggested that we walk her home. “This is my home,” she said with assurance. “No… this was Gus’ home,” I said. She looked at me confused. I continued, “Did you know Gus? This was his home, and this is his son,” I said, motioning to Dave. She looked at Dave, threw her arms around him and busted out crying, “Oh, I loved Gus so much!”

A different kind of cry than when she originally appeared at the door, this unknown woman went on and on about how much she loved Dave’s dad and is going to miss him. I listened for clues to who this woman might be and where she lived. It had to be close.

Seeing a good opportunity to see if we can see her home, we walked out the front door, down the walkway, and onto the street. “I live over there,” the lady said, and pointed to a particular house. As we walked up the driveway, I said, “Oh, did you guys put up Christmas lights today?” “Well no,” she said, as it dawned on her that this was not her house. “Silly me, I mean, that’s where I live,” and she pointed next door. We cut across the yard and a dog started to bark. “Do you have a dog?” I inquired. “No,” she answered. “Well then that wouldn’t be your house either,” I informed her.

It was getting cold out. Dave and I decided we would take the woman back to his dad’s house while we figured out what to do. The three of us walked back down to the street where the woman abruptly said, “Shhh… someone’s coming,” and stopped walking. “Stay right here until they pass,” she instructed us, and then appeared as if she were trying to huddle into herself and roll-up into a ball.

“There you are,” bellowed the man walking toward us, “I have been looking all over for you!” It was the woman’s husband. Witnessing their back-and-forth was like a flashback of me carrying-on about anything I could to get attention off of me and my wrong doings. This man seemed to be sober and sincerely care about this woman. He pointed out to me their house and I walked the woman home while he and Dave stayed on the street and talked.

“How long have you two been married?” I asked her, as we walked up their driveway. She exclaimed, “Oh gosh, 60 years!” I took a big chance and said, “I’m sure he really loves you.” “Yes, I’m sure he does,” she replied, then turned to me, grabbed both of my arms and said, “I won’t remember this tomorrow, but I want you to come tell me.” I laughed and said, “Tell you what?” I did not really expect an answer, and she said, “Just come and say hi, promise me you will at least come and say hi.” “Okay, I will come and say hi,” I told her.

The next day, I walked by and she was sitting on her front porch. I said, “Hi.” She smiled and returned the gesture. “Beautiful day,” I exclaimed, as I carried onward with a wonderful walk around the neighborhood.

The Six-Dollar Sunset

Heading west, Dave made an impromptu move, and changing lanes said, “Let’s go over to Sanibel and watch the sunset.”

“I don’t care,” I said, with no enthusiasm.

“Okay good,” he responded, as if I had said, “Yeah, wonderful idea!”

I sat there amused at first, that he chose to take my “I don’t care” statement as – I don’t care that we’re not doing what I thought we were (going back to the house to nothing) – instead of – I don’t care if we go see the sunset – which, clearly, is what I meant.

Of course I care that we are not doing what my mind was set on doing. Deviate from our plans of doing nothing? No way! My mind has very little room for change sometimes. If I think it’s going to be one way, then by golly darn it, it better be that way, or else. Even if your way is better. I was totally aware of this and wanted to be able to “go with the flow,” yet some part of me refused to give-in and go with it.

My amusement quickly downgraded to annoyance and grasping for excuses, I added, “As long as we don’t go over the bridge. I don’t want to pay the toll.”

“Me either,” he replied.

We soon found ourselves in a ‘no turn around’ predicament and before we knew it, we were being asked for six dollars. I was shocked. Six dollars just to get on to Sanibel? Damn it, we didn’t even want to go to Sanibel. Or so I thought.

I felt myself getting mad and then remembered that if I was mad, it was because I was choosing to be mad. I asked myself, “Do I really want to feel anger? Is this the feeling I really want right now?” I decided that it was not the feeling I desired for myself, and therefore, I would not be mad. Instead, I chose to focus on happy I am that Dave is nowhere near angry whenever my actions don’t line up with his expectations. Instantly, I felt my load lighten.

After fumbling for money and handing it to the attendant, Dave looked at me apologetically and before he could say a word, I joked, “What a topic – the six dollar sunset!” He smiled. I rolled down my window and started taking pictures.

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Saturday, in the Parker – Part One

Two memorials in three weeks with the Raffey clan – In 2016, November was a month of mourning. First, on the 5th, we had a funeral mass for my father-in-law Gus, and then on the 26th, a memorial for Dave’s cousin, Peggy. Emotions ran the gamut on that Saturday. Funny and sad were both had at both – Dave’s cousin’s house and at Parker Lakes.

While Dave was fixing the bike Saturday morning, the three of us started talking about the stuff they had at the St. Columbkille thrift store, where John had taken their dad’s clothes. I started telling John about how I had wanted Dave to take a particular pair of pants and before I could even describe them, John knew which ones I was talking about. Dave’s brother scolded me for not taking them or telling him that we wanted them. “No, we really don’t,” Dave was trying to interject. I won.

On our way to the thrift store, I shared how I could not believe we have never been to it. Gus had talked about this thrift store many times, and although we had been the the K-Mart many times, we had never walked next door to the St. Columbkille thrift store, run by the church Gus loved and served with all of his heart. And then there we were, buying back his pants for five bucks.

I knew I wanted the pants their parents had bought in Hawaii over 40 prior, though I did not realize how much until I could not find them (and I am still wondering why). After scanning the “men’s pants” rack twice, my heart sank a little. And then Dave, a couple of isles over, hollered, “Found them,” and I skipped over, excited as all get-out. Right next to them was a fun, colorful pair in my size – I just couldn’t resist. Of course you couldn’t, Dave was thinking. So now we both have a fun pair of pants from the greatest thrift store in Ft. Myers, Florida.

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Ironically, Dave’s dad was very much a minimalist, yet he held on to these pants for over 40 years. Here are his parents in 1972, his dad wearing the pants.

Positively Sensitive, although now, not so much

I recently came across a most interesting document, dated over six years ago from when I was active in a local church. At the end of what could be called “a weekend retreat” (the simplest way I know to describe it), I was presented with a seven-page printout outlining my Spiritual Gifts, what each one means, and my strength in each one.

I remember wondering why my dominant gift turned out to be “Teaching;” thinking that my second strongest gift, “Showing Mercy,” really is my first; and having no clue what my third strength (which was actually a tie with second by a tiny sliver), “Exhortation,” even was. I highlighted some stuff from the first two pages before it wound up in a drawer and buried with a bunch of other busy work. At any rate, I haven’t seen it since.

Today, this document caught my attention, and then it absolutely made my day. The analysis warns exhorters – “Be careful not to interrupt other people; your enthusiasm sometimes makes you guilty of this.” All the time, yes that is me! For the first time, it seems, I could see how this had affected certain relationships, and how it is something I could change. Furthermore, reading this document helped me to see why, what other people think of me, is none of my business, and knowing this feels much better than the facade of just not caring.

 

 

Here’s to You, V!

I have more ideas for blogs than you can possibly imagine. Okay, I exaggerate, but my ideas are many. And can I tell you how I have planned? Countless hours spent planning, figuring, and planning some more, have left me with fifteen different sites to manage (no exaggeration) and a confused manager of it all. I refuse to look at it as a loss; however, I shall use what I can when I can and trust that I will know when that is. And what.

In the shell of a nut, beginning with the end in mind is not the answer for this project. Almost like I have painted a picture and am trying to make all the pieces fit in order to resemble that picture, well, this approach is not working for me. So now, another approach – one picture at a time. I shall write what comes to mind with whatever photo of the day I may choose.

So as far as I can see at the moment, there is no real order to my posts; read through them in any way you wish. This is truly an exercise in “letting it be and we shall see.” I have a feeling it will turn out a whole lot better than my plan, plan, plan. Like my cool cart that has evolved out of something V gave me. It sort of just “grew.”

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The screen on my laptop broke and this television worked as a monitor. However, I needed to keep my laptop open, which it is, on the bottom of the top basket. Then I have 4 pvc pipes going across the basket above the laptop acting as a shelf, where I have a plastic bin containing all of my USB sticks and SD cards. Then there are the business card holders hanging, the basket full of electronics and my printer on the bottom.

Some things need to be well-planned out. Others are better when you simply allow them to take shape with each piece, placed one at a time as needed. My first piece to be placed in the “Here’s to You” category belongs to my BFF V, otherwise known as Viretta. Love you man! Can you believe what I have done with the cart?! 

Saying Good-bye to my Babies

The mojo around the Raffey Compound has definitely changed ever since the loss of our two dirty white boys. The male felines that snuggled their way into our hearts will laze around our bed no more. Yes, I am sad to report that Big-Foot and Indee have both said good-bye to this world. It was on June 2nd and July 2nd, respectively, and it just hurt too much to write about until now.

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Everyone loved Big-Foot. My BBBEBF – Baby Boy Blue-Eyed Big Foot. The first 10 years of his life I told him all the time how he was my baby boy blue-eyed big foot; the last 8 I shortened it. “There’s my b-b-b-e-b-f!” Either way, he knew he was my baby boy.

Our pit loved Big-Foot as well; they were buddies.

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A true character, Big-Foot was! I have many more good pictures of him and will put them up here as I come across them. Pictures like this one –

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Indee also loved Big-Foot, but Indee loved every soul. I called him my lover-boy, as he just loved to love.

big foot & indee

Unfortunately, we did not have nearly the time with Indee that we did with Big-Foot, which was 18 years. Indee was only 5 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer, and then he only had another six months.

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