Hair in a bun

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My hair has finally gotten long enough to wear in a bun. It’s a little bun, but it is a bun, and the hair is not in my face or on my neck.  That makes me very happy.  Probably not the most flattering hair style, but I do love the low maintenance (I stopped coloring it several years ago).  I have an appointment with my stylist this morning.  I will ask her what she thinks.  Should I keep this long hair or cut it back?  What do you all think?  Any opinions are appreciated – unless you want to tell me I’m ugly or something like that!

I took a tiny job, watering the lawn of a woman who is out of town for 10 days.  I don’t know how I ever worked all those years M-F, 8-5, because this little bit of a schedule feels like it is putting a crimp on my whole life!  I really don’t want to work, even this tiny little bit.

Tomorrow I am taking a quilting class. I am very excited about it.  I purchased the fabrics the other day and after looking at them for a couple of days, I think I don’t like two of the colors.  The quilt has 5 patterns, and 3 solids.  The solids are an off-white, which is ok; a light orange, which I think is too pastel for my taste; and a light turquoise, also a bit too pastel I think.  Not sure though.

Any opinions on this?

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I would love to hear from any of you who may care to weigh on my hair and my quilt!

Thank you for honoring me by reading this nonsense!

xxxooo

Posted in Crafts, Hair, Junk-blogging, Work | 1 Comment

Homemade Greek Yogurt

I’ve been asked to share my recipe, so here you go!  It takes a long time, but is not difficult to make and it is so good, it is totally worth the time it takes.

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1 6 oz. container plain, unsweetened yogurt (with live cultures)
  • food or candy thermometer
  • slow cooker
  • 2 large towels

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1. Pour milk into slow cooker.  Turn heat to high and heat to 180 degrees F.  It takes around 2 hours.

2. Turn off the slow cooker and allow milk to cool to 120 degrees F.  This also takes around 2 hours.  Measure unsweetened yogurt and allow to sit at room temperature while milk is cooling.

3.  When milk has reached 120 degrees, mix yogurt into milk and stir gently but thoroughly.

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4.  Replace lid and wrap crockpot in towels.  Set it in an out-of-the-way place where the yogurt can ferment undisturbed for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

5.  Unwrap crockpot and transfer the crock to the refrigerator to let cool completely.  Do not shake or stir.  It will set better if you leave it undisturbed.  I also think it gets more sour the longer it sets.

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6.  This is where it becomes Greek:  Transfer yogurt into a cheesecloth lined strainer, placed in a bowl.  (I use a piece of unbleached muslin.). Let strain, in the refrigerator,  for several hours.  It depends on how thick you want it.  I don’t like it to be very very thick.

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7.  Spoon the strained yogurt into containers for storing.  Be sure to keep 3/4 cup of the yogurt to use as the starter for your next batch.  This recipe makes about 5 cups of yogurt.  It is so good.  I think it gets better  every time I make it.  I particularly enjoy it with walnuts, a splash of vanilla, and a touch of stevia.  It is also good with fruit and all the other myriad ways we use yogurt!  Enjoy!

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Posted in Food | 4 Comments

Into my 34th…

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So, now I start my 34th year of sobriety.  Don’t get the idea I think this is nothing, because it isn’t.  But it also isn’t my doing.  It is the Grace of God alive in my life.  Nothing short of miraculous.  Not the “rewards” of my splendid “working” of the program.  I posted this photo on Facebook yesterday and probably shouldn’t have.  Nice to hear from folks, but probably a little bit too much attention for me.  It’s dangerous for our egos, you know.  And although it probably isn’t a technical break of anonymity, it is definitely a spiritual break of anonymity.  I used to be afraid I would be struck drunk if I ever broke a tradition, but I have changed my mind about this and many other things over the years.

I am going to my favorite craft store this morning to sign up for a quilting class on Saturday.  I don’t know why they waited until 4 days before the class to announce it.  Oh well.  I am going to see how much the fabric will cost, and then factor in the $75 for the all day class… and then decide.  But I have probably already decided to do this.  I want so much to make a quilt for my bed.  In the class, you make the top of a 5′ square quilt, which will not really work for a full sized bed, but it should be pretty anyway.  I was given gift cards for this store for my birthday and retirement last year and have hung onto them all this time.  For an “emergency” just like this?

The home made yogurt is fermenting in the crock pot.  I started it before I left for mass this morning.  And now I can’t leave the house until it cools to 120º.  Then I can wrap the crock pot up in towels and let it sit for 8 to 10 hours.  After that time, it is yogurt, but is better if you refrigerate it undisturbed for another few hours.  THEN, I strain it for a few hours more until the whey strains out and it becomes greek yogurt.  And I do this a couple of times a week.  It is SO worth it.

This is my life today and I can’t think of anything I would rather do.

xxxooo, mc

Posted in Crafts, Food, Gratitude, Peace, Retirement | 4 Comments

Planning a Camping Trip

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My little kitty, Gigi, on her little perch.  She’s a funny little thing.

My best friend is in the hospital, for the second time this month.  Her heart is not acting right.  I hope to God they can do something to make it work right again.  I met her on the day I got sober.  She 12 stepped me.  It was the one and only twelve step call she ever made.  I am so grateful because I believe she was the one person in the world who could have talked to me that day and gotten me to go to a meeting with her.  The rest is, as they say, history.  We formed a fast friendship and have been friends since.  I have stayed sober, she has not.  She married a Brit and moved to England 20 years ago, after that she started drinking again.  We write each other every day.  I haven’t heard from her today and I am a bit terrified.

Yesterday I bought a tent!  I am camping at Yellowstone National Park in August.  I am so excited about this trip.  I never thought I would go camping by myself, and certainly not at Yellowstone.  I am so afraid of big wild animals.  Bison are BIG and they are everywhere in YNP.  I will have to stop visualizing one stomping over my tent while I sleep.   I will also have to stop thinking about being a snack for a bear.  I will read everything I can get my hands on about being in that park.  I plan on eating at restaurants so I don’t have to worry about cooking and storing food properly.

You may ask, why do this if you are so afraid of animals?  Well, I am doing this so I can see my two older grandchildren who live very near the park.  Hotel rooms in their town are generally over $300 a night, and that just isn’t in my budget anymore. They live with their grandfather, my ex-husband, and (obviously) I am not invited to stay at their house.  My eldest granddaughter now has a drivers’ license, so they have a bit more freedom to visit me.  Camping at the park, including the purchase of a tent and sleeping bag, will cost less than one night at a hotel.

Earlier this year, I realized they are almost grown and I have not been much a part of their lives since my ex took custody.  It is SO hard to get to see them.  I decided that I would go up there and do whatever I can to see them, if only for a meal in a restaurant.  I will do that.  They will know that I did that.  It’s all I can do.

It is so important that I do all that I can do.  One of the best ways I have found to avoid regrets is to do what I can, and when I think I can’t, re-think and find ways to do whatever little I can.

Frank Sinatra may cavalierly sing:  Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention….  but with the life of an alcoholic, I have a few regrets that are heartbreaking (like not taking proper care of my children when they were little).  So forget about doing it “My Way,” I think I shall try to do it as close to the right way as I possibly can.

By the Grace of God, only by the Grace of God.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Reflections from 33 years, minus 6 days

Next Monday I will celebrate 33 years of continuous sobriety.  Every year I get a little bit more grateful for this miracle in my life.  It is God’s grace, given in immeasurable quantities.  I am surely not capable of this, but God is.  I thank Him every day.  And I try to put that gratitude into action… to the best of my ability.

I had another blog for years, where I talked about being a member of a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.  After a while, I felt like an apologist for the organization.  In time, I just couldn’t continue to do it.  I received so many comments and e-mails from people who had plenty to share about themselves or others being hurt by other members.  My answer was always that the fellowship is FOR sick people, and run BY sick people.  That it is fool-hardy to expect great behavior from a group of people in various stages of recovery.

As time goes by however, I am beginning to see it differently.

Even the big book says “we are people who normally would not mix,” which I believe is more true today than ever.  Over the years, my perception of the alchemy of the AA group has changed from seeming almost miraculous to seeming almost evil.  Please note the italics… probably no group is absolutely good or absolutely bad.  But there are differences, and they are important to note and take heed of.

We have people who are appropriately coming to the program;  they are dying of a progressive illness, they are vulnerable and desperate.  They are grasping at straws for something that will help them get out of the trouble they are in, whether legal, familial, physical, or mental.  We tell them we can help them.  That is the truth.

But we take it a step further when we tell them “This is a safe place.”  “You can trust us.”  “We all understand.”

We also have people who are predators.  They may be alcoholic, they may not be alcoholic.  We seem to think it is somehow discriminatory to suggest that AA is for alcoholics, so we say “Everyone is welcome here!!!”  “This works for everyone!!!”  I watch out for people who never share their stories.  I find when people say they don’t want to share their “drunkalog” it frequently is because they don’t actually have one.  If we don’t have that common foundation, what do we have?

In an ideal world, both of these groups of people would find a healthy group and healthy sponsorship and proceed to recover from alcoholism.  Warning bells should be ringing when someone suggests otherwise.

I have been around AA long enough to have seen a lot of groups, and a lot of people.  Some of the finest people I know belong to AA.  Some of the worst people I have ever encountered belong to AA.  I have been hurt terribly by a couple of AAs, and helped tremendously by others.

When I look back on the 32 year old vulnerable woman I was when I came to AA, I feel tremendous sorrow for her and what she has and will go through.  I feel a little bit sad that AA was NOT a safe place.  I overlooked that for years because of my love for the fellowship and gratitude for my recovery.  But the older I get, the more compassion I have for that young woman who was once me.  And I have that compassion for other desperate alcoholics who hit our doors.

Over the last 25 years or so, I have been part of two AA groups.  One is close to home and convenient.  There have been times I have felt that it was my home group.

The other group is where I got sober.  It was my original home group and many of the same people are still sitting in that room, 33 years later.  They have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.  I love those people and they love me.  There are also newer people in the group.  They came into the group and were cared for.  They were not coddled and allowed to act like fools, but they were led with sponsorship through the twelve steps into recovery.  In this group, we go to funerals of people who have died of old age after decades of sobriety.  There is an occasional motorcycle or other  accident that kills, but for the most part, these people are living long lives in sobriety.   This, I know in my heart, is where I belong.  I just wish it didn’t require a 37 mile drive to get there.

 

Can I just give some advice here?

  • I’m sorry, but AA is NOT a safe place.
  • You should use discernment, to the best of your ability, and a lot of prayer, to determine which group you should attend, and which people you want to trust.
  • A group with one person who is sponsoring a majority of the group, and people of both genders, should be avoided – at all costs. Go.To.Another.Group.
  • Please do not feel flattered and special when a person who purports to have decades of sobriety is interested in having a sexual relationship with you. This is not healthy.
  • Even the big book tells us we should not allow other alcoholics to live in our homes, at least not for long, please heed this – especially if you have children in your home.
  • If someone is “in love” with you within 15 minutes of meeting you, s/he is either lying to you or has serious issues.

All that said, I am incredibly grateful to and and for the fellowship.  It can be absolutely wonderful.  Nearly every one of my friends is in AA.  They are good people.

But there are bad, ill-intentioned people too.  Please be careful of those.  It doesn’t mean you should judge all of us as bad.  Find another group.  Most of us are in large enough places to find them.

God bless you all.

xxxooo

 

Posted in My Opinion, Sobriety | 3 Comments

Monday Morning

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The photo is actually from Sunday afternoon, making eggplant parmesan. I turned around and saw this sight and just thought it was so pretty. So colorful. So full of hope of a luscious meal and happy people at my table.  My daughter and her boyfriend came over and indeed, they were happy.  The bf was ecstatic at the grilled salmon, and my daughter was pretty happy about the eggplant.  It was nice.

I think I realized why I was so “out of sorts” last week.  Yesterday started with a migraine and got progressively worse from there.  I usually try to persevere with a migraine, so I carried on through my day.  First a hike, then a meeting with a sponsee, then making dinner.  I texted my daughter before she got here to tell her that I wasn’t feeling well and I was not prepared.  I was running about 2 hours behind!  My eyes were burning and my nose was running and I felt generally like I just got hit by a truck.  But they came over and it was fine and great.  The purpose of their visit was to clean my garage!  I could not bear the thought!  But her bf insisted and they went out there, he installed shelves, and they cleaned it up.  “Her” side of the garage anyway.  The side where she left most of her stuff 2 years ago when she moved to Montana.    It is a massive improvement.   Neighbors were popping in and out – to my horror!  Some thought I was having a garage sale.  Some I think were just nosy as to who these heavily tattooed people were who were  moving things in and out of my garage.   My garage is not something I want anyone to see, so I found it embarrassing.  They did give away a few of the things that we were just going to donate, and that is good.

So, I have a cold I guess.  When I woke up this morning, my eyes were so swollen they barely were open.  I look like I am 300 years old.  And I feel like it too!

Whenever I am sick, I think back to the hangover days.  They nearly killed me when I was in my 20s and early 30s… I cannot imagine what a hangover would feel like at 65.  Of course, if I had continued to drink, I don’t think being 65 would ever have been a concern.  I’d be long gone by now.

I was able to get to Sunday mass at my own church for the first time in 3 weeks!  I am so incredibly fortunate to be a part of this parish and be able to attend mass that is reverent and holy.  No crazy folk or honky tonk music, no guitars or drums.  Just sacred music.  Beautiful music.  And quiet.  People walk into my church and go kneel down and pray.  They don’t have “cocktail hour” chatter in the church before and after mass.  They do outside, but not in the church.

For months, I have been wanting to write about the fellowship I belong to.  I sat down to do it this morning, but ended up doing stream of consciousness junk blogging instead.  I think that’s all I have in me this morning.

I am now going to go sit on my sofa – in the daytime – on a weekday!  I’ll probably turn on the TV and maybe do some of this “binge” watching I hear so much about.

Sorry for this nonsense… and I’ll be better next time… promise!

Posted in Family, Food, Health, Junk-blogging, The Church | Leave a comment

A Post from the Weeds

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Actually a photo of my kitty seeking shade on a hot day.

I have deliberately not written about my finances here on the blog for a very long time. I had done it in 2013 and someone had come to my aid and actually paid for me to attend the Dave Ramsey classes, which changed the way I saw money and hence the way I treated money. If not for that class, and adhering to DR’s ideas, I would not have been able to retire at all. I am grateful every day for that.

When I retired in January of this year, I had a budget. I had a plan.  I had a financial equivalent of a jig saw puzzle, the pieces fit, but there was not room for any deviation whatsoever.

On February 5 of this year, my car was totaled.  Honestly, my first thought was that I was having a heart attack, my second thought?  That my jigsaw puzzle would no longer work.  I actually sat at the site of the wreck saying “oh no!  Now I have to go back to work!”  But I got much more from the insurance company than I ever would have dreamed, and I got a deal on a new car that was like a miracle.  So I have a new car.  And six years of payments.  Those were not in my budget.  Then my insurance went up.  That wasn’t in the budget either.  Then the furnace quit and I needed a new one, etc., etc., etc.  It has truly been one thing after another.

The real bomb in the jigsaw puzzle though was Social Security.   I was supposed to receive a check each month.  Not large, but enough for groceries with a little to spare.  My pension covers most everything else.

Warning:  This is where I get into the weeds:   I received a letter in June of 2016 telling me I owed every cent of money they paid me in 2015 when I retired for four months.   It took several months and several phone calls to figure out what happened.  When the state paid me out for my sick and annual leave upon retirement in 2015, the Social Security Administration decided that I wasn’t really retired, and hence, I owed all the money they paid me.  I got the appropriate forms completed and mailed in December of last year.  I thought it would just be a matter of a month or so until it got straightened out. And even if it never got straightened out, they could only take 4 months of my checks to pay back 4 months, right?

Wrong.  It’s been over 6 months now.  I called.  I called again.  And then I called again.  Every person understood what had happened and assured me it would be resolved.  In April, I packed a lunch, my knitting, and a bottle of water and sat in their office until I got a live human being to look in the eye and get to understand what happened.   He said he fixed it and I would get a big check in June.  June came and went, and I got nothing.  I got a letter in late June saying I would get a check for $10. in July, and then my regular payments would commence in August.  I tried to call about that letter, but I was so upset and angry, I believe the Holy Spirit intervened and I didn’t get through to anyone…. and I am grateful for that because it would have been ugly.

On Thursday of this week, I got another letter from Social Security.  I sat on my front porch, I didn’t even feel safe to take it indoors with me!  I prayed.  Not my usual prayers of “thy will, not mine, be done.”  Oh, no.  I prayed that they finally wised up and were going to pay me the money they owe me.  And, there it was, in that letter. I am supposed to have the back payments deposited in my checking account on July 18.  And then I should have my monthly payments after that.   I truly won’t believe it until I see it, but I have hope.

I have used savings to get through the last six months.  I thank God I even HAD a savings account, let alone one with enough money to get me through for a while.  But it is a lot smaller than it used to be.

It is a terrible thing to be afraid about your finances when you are retired.  I have thought I need to get a job, but my heart’s desire is to never work again, so I haven’t even really looked.  I have prayed so much about this.  I feel like the answer I keep getting is to learn to live within my now small means.

On Monday of next week, my job will be to sit down with my budget forms and figure out if I can do that.  It’s a very different budget than my planned budget for retirement.  But I am going to give it my best shot.  I know that I have lived on very little money before and those have actually been happy times in my life.  I have things pretty much down to bare bones now, but if I need to cut more, I am willing.

I just do not want to work again.  I love to wake up in the morning and leisurely get ready for my day.  I am always busy because that is just the way I am.  I go to Mass most days, which is an incredible blessing.  I am now involved in all kinds of church things.

This is the life I want.  Being a “church lady.”  Helping others.  Going to Mass every day.  Going to Adoration once a week, and being available to substitute at other times.  Being someone the church calls when they need help with something.

Being a homemaker.  Canning applesauce (even though it is terrible) on a Wednesday afternoon.  Making delicious nutritious meals for myself so that I can maintain my health (or even improve it).  Working out for 70 minutes, 6 days a week.  Being able to go to the lake for a swim, or take an early morning bike ride.  This is what I want.

I hope this is my future.

I do trust God though that he will show me what I am supposed to be doing.  And then I do trust that he will give me what I need to do that!

Posted in Faith, Hope, Mass, Retirement, The Church | 6 Comments