Sunday, March 29, 2015

it's been a week

A vibrant and funny man from my town died of lung cancer yesterday. It wasn't too long ago we saw him at the gym working out vigorously. Life changes pretty fast some times.

This morning, we had breakfast with good friends. Sharon and I have known each other since the early 70s. You can do the math. We went through breast cancer treatment about the same time and even though we didn't see each other for 30 years, we reconnected like it had been two weeks.

Tomorrow, Sharon leaves for Rochester for her reconstructive surgery while her dad is dying in the hospital in Mankato. Such a tough time for her whole family in so many ways.

Today is the 17th anniversary of the F3 tornado we experienced in St. Peter and towns surrounding. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it. Back then, we didn't take digital photos but some are available on the web. It's still hard to look at them. This picture was taken just as the storm came into town.

March 29, 1975 also signifies the end of the Vietnam War when the last of the American troops were removed from Vietnam near the US Embassy.

I started thinking about that era and all the men I knew...some who went and suffered terribly, some who didn't go and suffered terribly for that. I remember watching television with my family in 1969 when the death of a young Minnesota man was announced, Victor Rabel. He was the older brother of  John, my former classmate from Herman, Minnesota.

The way the world is now, it wasn't hard to find out that John lives in Bemidji. This picture is the two of us probably around the age of 5. I have had it in a tiny frame for years. Who knows why. When I saw John's face on Facebook, I knew it had to be the same person. More than fifty years later. I can't remember what I did yesterday but I can remember this friend from so long ago. Maybe we will be able to reconnect.

Beyond those sad and poignant things, I have had a good week that included lots of good coffee from my River Rock mug, a sausage and pepper frittata, a new bird feeder, and four new chairs for the patio in the colors of the Easter bunny!

Today, I am planning my Easter menu, checking the grocery list, thinking about the cooking week and the work week, and trying to avoid the sound of the wind. We don't need 40-50 mph winds today, my friends.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

the best thing I ever ate

Regis and I get a kick out of our grandkids, especially the two boys. Whenever they come over for a meal, no matter what is served, they say it is the best meal ever. Well, spaghetti noodles poked through hot dogs is a special favorite but they say this a lot. Nana, that was the best lunch ever.

This picture is of my best meal ever. I can't remember when I have enjoyed food as much as I did this seared tuna steak with pickled vegetables, basmati rice, and braised collard greens at Lone Star. I'll say this, too. This whole meal was about $15 and I paid almost that much for a tiny piece of tuna served as an appetizer in a plastic box at a place in Mankato not too long ago.

So, thanks, Matt. Best meal ever!

Friday, March 20, 2015

small world, indeed

Photo by Ruth Klossner

Last week, by chance, I happened to be working at the front desk at the Nicollet County Historical Society. Thursday is not my regular day but they were short-handed and I could do it.

By chance, a very nice woman, Ruth Klossner, came in to donate several crates of photographs from her time at the Lafayette Ledger. I helped her unload them, we chatted, and later that day we became Facebook friends.

On St. Patrick's Day, she posted this photo of two children she spotted in the doorway of a pub in Ireland in 2004 when she traveled there.

Katie, who Ruth has know since she was a child and who lives three miles away from Ruth, saw the photo on Facebook, recognized the little boy, and this conversation ensued.

Katie: OMG Ruth! Was this photo by chance taken in Sneem, Ireland? I am pretty sure I taught the young man in this photo when I was student teaching in Ireland. 
Ruth: Double OMG!!! Yes, it WAS taken in Sneem!!! Luckily, I included that info in the photo title so I didn't even have to go back to my itinerary and try to figure it out. When did you student teach in Ireland????? Does the age match up??? They were just the most adorable kids and, like I said, my very favorite photo of the thousands I took on that trip in 2004. 
Katie: I student taught there in fall of 2011 and his name is Dylan and the age would match up. He would have been in fourth or fifth grade I believe! I believe that was his younger sister.... small world! 
Ruth: WHAT a small world! I just remember that we pulled up on the street and, as we got out of the vehicle, I saw these kids and got off a couple of shots. The boy was so protective of his sister. I wasn't even sure if they were locals or tourists...just knew it was the neatest shot. And then you met him seven years later!
I love these stories that involve so much serendipity, synchronicity, or happy accidents. Whatever you want to call it...such a lovely story. Thanks, Ruth.

signs of spring

Signs of spring! Tiny bits of green beneath the dead leaves in the garden. Evidence of a spring cleaning lines the curb for pick up. The spring flag has been hung. Burger baskets are back and the Legion. Old friends return from the South. Neighbors emerge from the winter hiding places and are seen walking, biking, checking out the little library. Cardinals sing lustily in the treetops.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

my story

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this lately. When do I get to tell my recovery story? It's a little bit like being a cancer survivor. Are you one from the first day? Do I consider myself a recovery hero today? Do I consider myself a recovery hero from the day I first decided to be one?

This is my story. These things are true for me. Maybe they are not true for you or for the people you know or know about, but they are my truths.

At some point in my life I learned to use alcohol to an extent that was not healthy for me. It was important for me to figure out the reasons but they aren't central to the story. From time to time, alcohol was a problem for me and I always recovered. It has been more of a problem for me in the last couple years and now I am recovering from that. 

I'm lucky that in between these periods of over-drinking, I had long periods of time when I didn't. I have built a rich, full life. I have many friends and I have a husband who loves me. I had a rewarding career, raised up some fine kids, and have a cozy home.

As I have read about addictive behavior, and believe me, I have read a lot, I have had to challenge my old ways of thinking. 

There are as many ways into addictive behavior as there are ways out of addiction. Not everybody goes to AA and not everybody goes to treatment. Many people recover, as I have, on their own, with support from an online group. Many people give up addictive behaviors without any of that.

I do not have a disease. My addictive behavior is something that developed and it is something from which I can recover. I have the skills and resources to recover nicely. I do not need an ideology, a religion, a supreme being, or an expensive treatment center. I will not always have this addictive behavior. Some people may think differently about their addictions and that's ok. Whatever works.

One drink, or one night of drinking does not make me go back to the beginning. Just because I have had some drinking days in the months since I began this journey, does not mean I am doomed to failure. It means I am learning. It means I am human. 

Only I have the right to name my addictive behavior. Nobody else has the right to label me or my behavior and I don't need to be called an alcoholic or shamed for my drinking. Nobody besides me knows the reasons for my behavior and therefore, they can't dictate the way for me to recover.

There is a terrible stigma that comes along with addictive behaviors and many people are quick to label others and recommend what these people should do to get better. Unfortunately, they are not always right and sometimes their blaming, shaming, and recommending does more harm than good. 

I decided if I wanted to do something about the stigma of addiction, I needed to be more honest and open about it on a personal level.

So, there it is. I have suffered from an addictive behavior. Now I am recovered.

I am stepping back into my rich full life. I am reclaiming my health and well-being.

a list of things

  • Tom and Betty are coming home right after April 1st. We have missed them.
  • I am working at two jobs and volunteering at two others in the month of April. It will be a busy month.
  • I'm starting my straw bale garden about mid-April. We're going to try six bales and we plan to grow salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and a few other things. I like to shop at the farmer's market for some things...the things we don't eat enough of to grow ourselves.
  • I'm taking Tiffany out for lunch today to celebrate her birthday. She turned 30 yesterday. How can that be?

  • We celebrated St. Patrick's Day on Tuesday with corned beef and cabbage and a trip downtown to the parade. Such a goofy holiday.

Gus is not in favor of holiday shenanigans. 

  • I walked in the RunStrong 5K with my friend Michele. It's a fundraising race for the Livestrong program. After the race, we went to visit our friend, Mary, in the hospital.

  • At nine o'clock this morning, I am gathering some stuff for the Epileptic Foundation to pick up this afternoon. I have some boxes I didn't get out in time last fall, and I have some designated junk around the house that is getting packed up this morning. My goal is to be ready to sit on the patio come May.
  • We have moved forward on two home improvement projects this week. I went to the hardware store and ordered three new doors, a front entry door, a storm door, and a storm door for the back. The entry door is original to the house and the other two doors were new after the tornado. Yesterday, a fellow came to measure our driveway and give us an estimate on replacing our Model T driveway with asphalt. Our house was built in the 50s so I don't think a Model T ever parked here but that's what he called it. It's two strips of concrete and quite narrow so it's always muddy and no grass grows anywhere near it anymore. I'm sure our meticulous neighbor would be delighted.
  • Speaking of our neighbor, he has already started up the gas-powered lawn machines. I ranted about it here before and you can read it again, in case you are interested. The Case Against Gas-Powered Lawn Machines
  • I just did a search for gas powered and lawn in my blog and I have spent a good share of bandwidth ranting about this issue.
  • I am going to go back and read over some of my old blog posts. I think I was funnier in the past. In the last few years, I have had to slug some rats in the gutter (Thanks for that phrase, Karen!) and I would really like to be done with that now. I want to be funny again.
  • I did a sleep study and discovered that I have very mild apnea when I sleep on my back and none when I sleep on my side. The only time I sleep on my back is when my hips hurt. I think I'll take up walking like a pilgrim. Walk everywhere. Walk constantly. Maybe that will help my hips.
  • We had a little snow mixed with rain last night. I don't think any of it stuck and it certainly won't last. I think we can safely put away the winter coats and boots.
  • The last time Woody went to the vet, we were cautioned to not let him get too fat. He was up to 14 pounds so we put him on a reduction diet. Two treats at night and that's it. He was nagging me for treats in the morning and often worked me for quite a few before he ambled off to do something else. He had to go cold turkey. This morning he weighed 13.6 pounds so we are experiencing some success.
  • Gus needs a bath. That means I get a bath, too.
  • Moving on into the day, my friends. Make today a great Thursday.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

marathon of work

Sometimes I wonder how I get myself into these messes. I have spent the last hour working on my schedule for the coming month, beginning March 23. I will work every day and some evenings until April 23rd and I am experiencing some consternation because of it. Ah, well. Not much to be done.

I took a part-time job recently at Lone Star BBQ in St. Peter. I enjoy it and it isn't a lot of hours but now I have to and tell them all the lunch hours I am not available. Sad face.

I agreed a while back to help with testing (ugh ugh ugh) at the schools. The money is good, the work is not difficult, but the hours are plentiful between March 23 and April 23.

My straw bale garden will need attention in April, too. And I have a long list of spring tasks to accomplish...things like vacuuming out the trunk of the car and exchanging the snow blower for the lawn mower.

I'm also continuing my work at the NCHS and at the AARP tax center. By April 23rd, I should be about ready for a vacation!

Monday, March 09, 2015

birthday celebrations

We seem to have a lot of spring birthdays in our family. Well, if you count February as spring, I guess we do. The two boys, Alex and Elliot turned six, Tiffany and Eric both have birthdays in March, April has a birthday in February, and Peter and Amber have birthdays in April.

Tiffany and Eric had a party for Elliot at the Holiday Inn Express in Mankato. The kids had a great time. Not exactly an old person's version of fun, but very nice just the same. Lots of noise, high humidity in the pool area (ha!), and a ton of stimulation. I regret not bringing my suit...the hot tub looked inviting.

Ella, Alex, Evelyn, Elliot, and Adam

Peter wearing Zoey's goggles

Birthday boy and mama

Zoey and April


Teresa, Tiffany, and Kensey

I am going to visit with my sleep doc this morning. Then I have an errand or two, a coffee date, and the rest of a lazy day to work on my organization plan at home. Ta da! Happy Monday!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

winter walking and waking

Regis is so good about taking Gus for at least one long walk, even on the coldest days. He has scoped out the spots in town to go where it is less icy on the icy days, less windy on the windy days, less sloppy on the sloppy days. This is part art and part science.

I like to go but as with most things, I am a fair weather walker. I dread going out in the icy wind so most times, I don't.

Regis had a complete blood panel done the other day and the difference walking has made in his health would make a believer out of you. His doctor is going to jump up on the exam table and crow like a rooster. Ha! I'd like to see that.

I had a sleep study done on Monday night. I have had trouble with insomnia for years...waking in the middle of the night and unable to go back to sleep. It gets worse then it gets better, then it gets worse. I slept like a baby in the sleep study, even with a hundred wires, an oxygen meter on my finger, and something in my nose. Go figure.

I usually wake up at 4 am. This morning, I am awake, baking a turkey breast for dinner and muffins to take to our volunteer gig at the AARP tax center. I had forgotten how much I loved baking in the early morning, jazz on the radio, a cup of coffee, a quiet house. I thought about going to the gym this morning but it's still below zero and I can't quite make myself face that in March.

I'm getting rid of an old hutch in the kitchen today and replacing it with a more modern looking (and cheap) shelving unit. Thus will begin my kitchen reorganization. Also have plans for more painting.

We haven't had cable tv off and on for about ten years but we are getting it back on Friday. There are a lot of things I dislike about television, mostly that it's everywhere (clinic waiting rooms!) but there are some things I miss about it, too. I'm anxious to start watching the cooking channels, the movie channels, and maybe a little late night talk show now and then. With the DVR, it's a whole new technology!

We worked at the tax center yesterday and I enjoy the people so much but one of the hard things is that you see how some of them have declined in health drastically since last year. One lovely lady who was so perky and beautiful last year told me she had been falling a lot. It made me sad.

As I am revising this post today (the next day), the hutch is gone and the other shelves are assembled and in place. I am trying to come up with a plan so it doesn't look like the shelves at the thrift store. I looked online for open shelving in the kitchen, but ah....these were way fancier houses than mine and I could not relate.

I haven't reported here yet that I have a new job. My job history since I retired has been sketchy, at best. I worked at the coffee shop for a little more than a year but the cancer business disrupted that job. Then I decided I would sub. A lucrative job but there were some downsides and I finally had to admit that...I have an aversion.

I think it was having to teach about the Dark Ages when I learned that crap in the Dark Ages was one thing. Having to answer (or dodge) math-related questions was another. Ugh.

So, I popped into the Lone Star one day to inquire if they might have a job for me. Hostess? Does it involve any math? Is it part-time? Score. Score. Score. I go in today to learn the table numbers and the routine. I am excited. Visiting with people is what I do best.

I hear Regis in the other room saying good morning to Gus. Time to move on into the day.