Festivus in August

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I purchased this yarn yesterday, it will be used to make hats (in school colors) for my older granddaughters. I love this yarn. It is called Knerd String, and is just luscious, soft, and squishy wool. I have made 6 other hats of this yarn and have enjoyed every stitch.
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This is the hat I knit for my daughter. Well, actually I made two because when I finished this one, I tried it on and said “Sorry Laura, this one’s for me.” I made another one for her, which I finished last night.
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This is my son and his daughter – my precious granddaughter – in the hats I made last year.  His is light brown and darker brown – I also made a matching one for his son.  And his wife and daughter got the lavender and purple ones.  I love these reversible hats!  It takes twice as long to knit, but so worth it!

Here’s something I never thought I would say:  Adjusting to retirement is a bit harder than I anticipated.  Somedays are just heavenly.  Then there was yesterday.   And so far today.  I have found that I need to have at least one or two things planned every day.  In addition to daily Mass (one hour), and my workouts (~90 minutes).  Then I have nutritious eating, which takes an inordinate amount of time between shopping, preparation, cooking, and even eating!

I am a bit heartbroken about a couple of things that are not what I expected in retirement.  The meeting I used to attend daily has grown intolerably uncomfortable.  I went there yesterday because one of my sponsees was celebrating a birthday, and it was just awful.  Warring factions and people trying to control everything that happens in the meeting.  Like how long people can share, and what they can talk about.  But they start the meeting with this weird format – before the chair comes up with a topic, s/he asks if anyone has a problem, anything they need to “say out loud” …or if anyone is “sitting on a drink.”  Yesterday a new guy raised his hand and said he had a problem.  He needs a car. Seriously.  Everyone sort of rolled their eyes at him, but he was just responding to a question that WE asked him.  He has a problem.  He thought he would throw it out there. He’s brand new, who can blame him?  So, I thought I would go to that meeting everyday, but that is absolutely OUT.

I thought I could take all these lovely hikes.  Have you noticed that I am very seldom posting photos of trails?  Yes, that is another thing that is out.  Denver is gaining population at an alarming rate – every single month thousands of people flock here.  High density housing is going up in places that used to be landfills, golf courses, farms, and fields.  There are TOO MANY people here.  Of course, they want the Colorado lifestyle – who doesn’t?  And for most of the new folks, they are paying an exhorbitant price to just live here, of course they want to take advantage of the beauty of nearby nature.  The trails are not just crowded, but they have become dangerous.  There are mountain bikes on single track with little old ladies (me) trying to take a peaceful hike.  Although pedestrians have the right-of-way, bikers do not behave that way.  My favorite place to hike is full of rattlesnakes.  I usually decide that is an acceptable risk.  But when you are stepping off the trail into the brush every two minutes to let a bicycle pass, the risk is no longer acceptable.   I took a hike last week and realized it was my last one there – at least until late fall or winter when the faint hearted stay home.

Thank God for the park nearby that charges $10 per car to get in.  I have an annual pass and go down there for my hikes, swims, and bike rides.  Much more peaceful, but it is not a mountain hike, it is a walk or ride around a park.

I drove to my favorite yarn shop yesterday.  I used to think it was an acceptable drive – 30 minutes through town in high traffic.  Then parking on a downtown street or tiny parking lot with maybe 10 spaces.  You see, I wasn’t planning on having a car accident that totaled my car just 5 weeks into retirement.  And then when that “worked out” ok, I thought I was good…. but I am terrified of driving in traffic.  I don’t think I am going to my favorite yarn shop anymore.  I think I am going to drive to the mountains to a shop there.  It is farther, but takes about the same amount of time to get there.  Next time I buy yarn or fabric, that is where I am going.

The class on Saturday?  It was the first time they did that quilt in a class, and we all only finished a quarter of the top – in the 6 hour class.  I really needed the hand-holding to get it done.  When I visited the store yesterday (to get yarn), the manager (who I absolutely love) asked me how the quilt was, and I told her I don’t think I can finish it on my own.  She told me I could hire a tutor for $40 an hour.  Yeah, when hell freezes over I will do that.  I hope to God this quilt doesn’t end up in my closet along with two other quilts I never finished.  And yes, I thought I would finish them in retirement.  I will somehow get the courage to get out my mat, rotary cutter, and sewing machine and get this thing done so I don’t feel like a quitter.  Funny how similar the words quitter and quilter are, no?

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Because I am sure you all are dying to see this thing – above is a photo of the quarter quilt.  Maybe if I tell you all I will finish it, I actually will finish it.

And now that I have written all of this, I will stop.  I have a feeling I could write all day and just come up with one grievance after another.  Not a good thing to do.  I better instead try to focus on what’s good….

Like that beautiful red & white yarn that needs to be wound into balls.  And hats are waiting to be knit!

Life is good.  It truly is.  I am so blessed to have these kind of problems, I do know that!

Thank you God.

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Posted in Crafts, Fear, Junk-blogging, Knitting, Retirement | 6 Comments

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 | 13 Comments

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 | 7 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 Cat, Friends, Regrets, Travel | 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