Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday!!

I Must Say!
--Ed Grimsley
Day 76 
Today I'm grateful for a silly heart.  The cap'n rolled his eyes this morning as I did my Ed Grimsley dance to the Carol of the Bells as it blared from some TV commercial at 6:30 am this morning.  He said, "I don't know which was worse the hungover morose you or this annoyingly chipper you."  F#$%  him!! 

Off to battle for a new computer this morning, it's time to give this poor old thing a well deserved rest.  It's eight years old and it's been banged about on a sailboat, dropped off of docks into a dinghy, exposed to norte's in Mexico.  Oh if the poor thing could talk. 

Anyway, I may be offline for a day while they transfer all the very important, necessary shit I have crammed on this one into a new one.

So today I'm out there just doing my best to keep the cap'n from self-combusting as he deals with the ever helpful geek techs that speak a language that they haven't made a Rosetta stone for yet.  Oh yeah!  I'm getting a new phone too, one that takes pictures.  Be still my silly heart.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Sunday, Mom!

I feel like a tiny bird with a big song!

Jerry Van Amerongen, Ballard Street, 08-18-05

Day 75
I had a friend from the message boards ask me the other day whether I ever missed drinking. I had to think. I told her I spent more time worrying about or anticipating missing it than I did actually missing it. I said, “Looking back I thought I had fun when I was drinking but I didn’t have any joy. Now I have both.”
I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that I do this exercise every morning of writing my “morning pages.” It consist of scrawling three pages of supposedly random thoughts, it is supposed to spark my creativity. Lately my morning pages have taken the form of letters to my mother. Here’s what I wrote Mom this morning.

Happy Sunday Mom,

I’m sorry I haven’t written in a couple of days but don’t worry, I’m okay. I’m better than okay. It is a wonderful thing to have joy come back into my life. I hadn’t even noticed it was gone. How could I not have missed it, Mom? How did I live so long without it? It colors everything. It’s the reason I get up in the morning. I’m finding that girl I was again, probably that girl I was trying to find for so long in a bottle. I hope I don’t lose her again.

You remember her. She’s the girl that gives her husband hugs about fifty times a day because she just can’t help herself. She’s the girl that scoops Stanley, the blind killer bichon, up in her arms and dances around with him in the whirling snow. She’s the girl that makes a playlist of Christmas songs by Bing, Dean (your favorite), Nat, and Doris and sings along with them while she does the dishes. She’s the girl that calls her step daughter-in-law just to yak about a book they both read and ends up yakking with her stepson (that’s awkward since we’re only 7 years apart in age) instead and cries a little when he tells her he loves her as he hands the phone to his wife. She’s the girl who stands out in the dark in the middle of a frigid mountain night and gazes mesmerized by the stars.

She’s the girl who couldn’t wait to get up and tell you all of this, Mom. I sure missed her and I know you did, too. I know you are so happy and relieved to have your daughter back. I’m sorry I worried you for so long.

I’d better go, Mom. I can’t wait to see what this day has in store for me. Manana!
I Love You,
Kary May

Today I’m just out there doing my best to stop worrying my mother and enjoying my winter wonderland for just a few more days. Sing it, Dean!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shopping Frenzy

Pleasure is spread through the earth
In stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find.
~William Wordsworth, 1806

Day 73

First off I have to say that yesterday was the least stressful, most joyous Thanksgiving I’ve ever had. That is one more milestone achieved for me, my first major holiday without alcohol was a total success and I will not worry near as much about the next one. The unknown is now known and found to be of superior quality.

Now it’s time to shop. Am I crazy? I don’t think so. I have no intention of stepping foot in one of those insane asylums we call malls or discount stores. I’m going to shop right here in front of my roaring crackling fire, with my sweats and fuzzy house shoes on, Christmas music floating through the headphones and a cup of tea at my elbow. Yeah, I know I’m going to miss all those Black Friday deals that would save me hundreds of dollars but that’s okay because what I’m shopping for shouldn’t cost much, it probably won’t cost anything at all. Obviously, I’m not shopping for the kids or grandkids, they still have the ignorant belief that things of value must have a price tag on them, poor things. No, I’m not shopping to find something for a special someone, but I am shopping for that “just right” gift for a special soul. My sober soul.

I read all the time on the message boards about members that are bored. What are they supposed to do with all of this extra time on their hands, where’s the fun in being sober? Just like my grandkids who think fun comes with a joy stick and then wonder about aimlessly whining, “There’s nothing to do” when the game is broken or, more often, when they are grounded from it, so are we drunks when our bottle of fun has been taken away from us. We’d rather whine and sulk then go look for something else to do. Yet when our kids or grandkids come to us with their complaints what do we tell them? Well, I know what I tell mine. I roll my eyes and say,” What do you mean there’s nothing to do? Go read a book. Write a story. Paint a picture. Go outside and build a treehouse or a fort. Go explore, look for arrowheads or cool rocks.” Are you getting the idea?

A sober soul doesn’t like to get bored. It whines and it sulks and it looks with longing at the liquor cabinet or the keys to the car that will take it to its favorite bar. It’s up to us to find other things to keep it occupied. Look at the list above. Do any of them appeal to a newly sober soul? Of course not, because just like our kids, all that our sober soul wants, is what it can’t have.

Too damn bad!

 How many times have you told your kids, “Fine, go ahead and sulk but go outside or to your room to do it” and when you look in on them an hour later you find them totally involved in building that fort or entranced by a book they’re reading? We have to do the same thing to our sober soul, send it outside or to its room and let it sulk until it finally decides out of desperation to pick up that paintbrush or hammer or hiking boots. Does this mean our kids will now turn up their noses at the Wii or Playstation once it’s available to them again? Unfortunately no, and we parents are often too weak or too weary to continue the battle and we surrender even though we know that the other endeavors were so much better for them. It’s the same for us drunks, if all of a sudden someone said we could drink again, would we turn our noses up at it because we’ve found something that is better for us, something that gives us longer lasting, authentic joy? I think it depends on whether we’re still stubbornly sitting on that front step or on the edge of our beds with our chins in our hands sulking about what we can’t have or whether we’ve made ourselves go out and find something better and put our whole hearts and sober souls into it. Because “it” is out there waiting for us, and "it" will fill us up with joy in ways that perpetually diminishing bottle of fun never will.

I still sulk occasionally, probably for a few minutes every day, but it’s not out of boredom. I’ve said plenty of times that there are not enough hours in the day for my sober soul to do everything it wants to do, what with my walking, writing, knitting, cooking, reading and message board chatting but keeping my sober soul busy is not enough, it wants to be enchanted and challenged, entranced and thrilled. It still just wants to have fun. It’s always asking for new things, telling me I wasted too much time. So today I’m shopping for something new for it to do, it deserves a reward for behaving so well yesterday. I’m thinking about getting it some yoga. Sure, it will bitch and moan about it and probably try to return it but I’m going to do my best to encourage it to stick with it. My sober soul needs to learn to stretch and become more limber but it also needs to learn to relax and just breathe, too. It wouldn’t hurt my sober body either.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to find something that will surprise and delight my sober soul and googling “yoga for the middle-aged and woefully out of shape soul.”

Thursday, November 24, 2011


For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Day 72

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!

Across the river, Mary stands, watching tranquilly from the riverbank. I try to make it over there on a daily basis to lay my hand on her head and ask for her guidance and a measure of her grace. I step carefully this morning when I make my way across the frost laden bridge. Fragrant steam rises from cup of tea that is warming my hands and a thick bed of pine needles cushions my footfall on the other side. I place my hand on her cold head in my familiar custom for a brief moment and then I sit down beside her to hear what she hears and to see what she sees. The sun is just peaking over the pines and washing the snow in an early morning blush. The woodsmoke is curling from our chimney. A squirrel gives chase after the bandit that stole his pinecone. The gypsy river gurgles its protest to the creaking cover of ice that holds it down and keeps it from dancing among the rocks.  The wings of a blue jay whisper in the branches above.

I had planned to write a progression of the last few Thanksgivings, starting with a boozy, slurring one spent among fellow boaters and then progressing to last year’s Thanksgiving when I was early in my pilgrimage to the new land of sobriety and my sons looked on with wary eyes as I opened the second bottle of champagne. But I don’t want to go back there. Instead I just want to be right here in this hard-won new joy and peace, with the sun shining on my face.

Today I’m just out there doing my best to be as thankful as I should be.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Not So Subtle Reminder

Recall and reclaim the same passion for what you're doing that you felt when it was new.

Day 70

“Oh shit!” I thought as I rolled over in bed. I remembered I had got out of bed yesterday and I felt pretty good. And then it came crashing in. I drank the night before. Shit! Shit! Shit! Why???? I couldn’t remember. Still it couldn’t have been that bad or I wouldn’t feel as good as I did. I went out to the kitchen, the cap’n was already up. He gave me one of those old funny looks. The kind I used to dread. The kind I didn’t get any more. The kind I thought I’d never see again.

“What did I do?” I asked, dreading the answer.

“You don’t want to know,” the cap’n said.

“Tell me,” I pleaded, already sick at heart. “It’s worse not knowing and imagining the worst.”

The cap’n left the kitchen and came back with the black dress I had been wearing the night before. The smell of ammonia wafted up from the crushed material.

“I pissed myself?” I asked, mortified and so shamed.

How could I have let this happen again?

And now I lay there cringing in the dark, wanting to bawl. I hear a snore from the lump beside me. I sit up and look around. I’m home in my cabin on the mountain. I’ve been in hotel rooms for the last two nights. Just plain old hotel rooms with a king size bed, a microwave, and a small refrigerator. No kitchen, not even a kitchenette in sight.

“Thank God,” I whisper in the dark. “It was a dream.”

In the midst of mourning my traditional bottle or two or three of champagne that I’ve celebrated every holiday with for the last 20+years, I had this dream. I admit, I was considering that “special occasion” excuse and talking myself into just one. But I knew one wouldn’t be enough and shortly every day would become a “special occasion”, I just needed this dream to remind me. Of the shame. Of the heartbreak. Of the fear.

So today I’m out there just doing my best to conjure up something sparkly and bubbly just like yours truly plans to be on Thanksgiving Day and, thankfully, just like me it will be alcohol free. I’m taking suggestions. Someone on one of the boards suggested Ariel’s NA Champagne but I doubt I’ll be able to find that in my lovely little mountain village. They also suggested a virgin cosmo, I might have to shake that up.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Neighbor Kary May's Radio Show Cancelled

Happy "Act Like I'm Not A Drunk" Saturday.  I'm still celebrating even if I'm not doing the radio show this morning.  I'm hitting the road this morning, gonna go see the grandkid, oh yeah, and his parents, too.  It's going to be a great day, I was so excited to start starting for home I was awake at 4:00 am.

I know I've been missing my old friend, that "some beach" ETOH a little in the last couple of days but this morning as I was writing my "morning pages" I was thinking about my 50th birthday which is coming up in a few months and you know what?  I don't want to invite booze to the party.

I am relieved and overjoyed at the thought of having a sober celebration, a special day that I'll want to remember every moment of, and waking up the next morning and smiling at the memory of the day instead of grimacing with a hangover and blurry memories.  I can't wait.

You guys have a great weekend, cuz I'm gonna.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vaya Con Dios, Carlsbad

Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos. ~Charles M. Schulz

Day 66

Well, I’m packed up and I’m out of here tomorrow, we’re taking a side trip to visit my youngest son, pregnant daughter-in-law, and the beloved grandson. They just moved to TX this week and are just settling in so we won’t stay long, I’m anxious to be back on my mountain even if it is for a short time.
I’ll miss dusty old Carlsbad, most of the last two months have been spent here and I’ve been sober the whole time so it will have a special place in my heart, there’s not many places that can claim that auspicious sentiment.

I’ll miss the little stone church and the parishioners that grew to expect this stranger on week day mornings. I wonder if they’ll ask themselves, who was the strange lady and where did she go.

I’ll miss my dawn walks along the slow moving Pecos River and the ducks that grew to expect me and the popcorn in my pockets, I wonder if they’ll wonder when the lady with the popcorn is coming back.

I’ll miss my friends I made here at the apartment complex, a pack of latchkey kids who swear I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.

I’ll miss the quirkiness, the pretty music lady at the church who never seems to comb her hair and the guy who rushed up to me as I was going into the bathroom at the riverwalk park yesterday morning. He handed me a roll of toilet paper and said, “They’ve been out for two days, I brought my own from home.” Now that’s downright neighborly. Weird, but neighborly.

I always seem to end up in quirky little towns, maybe it’s me, maybe it’s life.

I looked back and saw that the longest I’ve been sober before yesterday was 64 days, yesterday was day 65 for this go around. Maybe that was why I was so cranky, I was treading uncharted waters. Drinking is often compared to marriage and when you end it, you have to hold the bad memories of it close to you so you can end it, you can’t let any of those good memories creep in because they confuse you and cause you to waiver. But eventually, a few of the good ones get through and you look back and wish you would have done things differently. Maybe someday I'll learn to smile at the good memories, because there were some, but that doesn’t mean I want to go back. I don’t.

So today I’m just out there doing my best not to forget anything but still leave some of the good stuff behind.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

Day 65

Where oh where has my pretty pink cloud drifted off to? I swear 15 minutes ago I was sitting here thinking, “I could have a glass of wine and nobody would ever know.” I didn’t and I won’t. You can’t know that for sure, but I do. There’s no glaring matter that is making me want a drink, just an all-over malaise, a low grade discontent. The kind I used to be able to drink away with just a couple of glasses of wine or shots of bourbon. I think I’m grieving today because for the first time in a little while, those things seem tempting and they make me want to cry.

The cap’n comes home from work every evening in shitty stressed out mood, then he has a couple of drinks and he starts smiling and becomes chatty. He doesn’t get drunk really, he just gets a buzz on and he gets on my nerves big time. I know it’s not him, I know it’s the drinks and the fact that he gets to have them that I resent. I know I’m not being fair, he’s working his ass off so we can live in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed while I spend my days plucking at these keys on this keyboard. He’ll be stuck in some shitty hotel room for almost the whole month of December including Christmas Day while I’m making the rounds of parties down in Mexico. I’m suffering a huge guilt complex. And still, I had the nerve to get on his ass about his tipsiness last night and told him it wasn’t any fun for me when he was like that.

“When do you have fun anymore, Kary?” he asked.

I thought to myself, I have fun when I’m walking along the river, or when I’m cooking a great meal, or baking cookies for the neighborhood kids. I’m having a lot more fun than I was having at the end of my drinking career. But I know what he’s talking about. He’s grieving, too. He’s grieving the old Kary that used to have a couple of drinks with him at the end of the day and get chatty herself, so much so he never got a word in. He’s grieving the old Kary that would put in Christmas music any time of the year and croon to Dean Martin, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” He’s grieving the old Kary that used to make him do the stroll down the hall to Elton John’s, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues.” Elton, sweetie, I know what you’re talking about. That could be my song to booze today.

“Time on my hands could be time spent with you, Laughing like children, Living like lovers…

So today I’m just out there doing my best to find a new object of affection to dedicate that song to and practicing doing the stroll without the benefit of alcohol.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Making Space

Money (Sobriety) is a lot like sex,
When you don't have any, it's all you think about,
But when you, have some,
You think of other things.

Day 64

I was out walking this morning and I realized I didn't think about drinking at all yesterday. Sure I posted here and on the message boards but there wasn't a moment I thought, "Gee, I wish I could have a drink" or "How many drinks am I going to have tonight." or "What time am I going to let myself start drinking?" or "Am I going to drink tonight?" or "If I drink tonight that means I can't drink tomorrow." or "How many drinks have I already had this week?" or "Well, I already blew it for this week, I might as well wait until next week to really start moderating." Or “Tomorrow I’ll do better” or "Next week will be better. " or.......

I could go on and on and on. And that’s not even including the thoughts that invade the tired old brain space when I’m hungover. Thoughts like “Why did I do this?” or “I swear, I’m never drinking again.” or “God, if you get me through this one, I’ll never do it again” or “Oh God, please help me never do this again.” or “God, I hate myself!” or “How much longer until 5:00 pm?” or “If I just had one drink right now, it would make me feel better.” or “If I just had one more drink right now, I’d feel better” or “Why did I do this again?”

Just add alcohol and repeat.

So I’m finding a lot of extra brain space these days and am trying to figure out what I want to put there. It’s fun. It’s exciting. For example, this morning I watched the cap’n shake, shake, shake, the toothpick container trying to get a toothpick out. The container is a clear plastic rectangle box with a tiny hole in the top from which a toothpick is supposed to pop out when you shake it. Except this morning it wasn’t and the cap’n was getting more and more frustrated and all red in the face. I was laughing so hard, I was just about to wet my pants which made him even more red in the face. You see, yesterday I came up with the brilliant idea of placing a piece of clear scotch tape over the top of the box. Yep, those brain cells of mine are rejuvenating themselves into brilliant little moments of sheer comic genius. Who knows what I’ll come up with today.

You all might have noticed that the format of my blog has changed and over on the right hand side are some blogs I’ve found recently. A year ago, I couldn’t find any blogs being written by writers about the “process” of figuring out what I wanted to do with my drinking and the rest of my life. My original intention was that this blog would be the “groundbreaking” blog on moderation but, alas, it didn’t end up that way. The blogs I’m following are a mix of writers who are trying to moderate, writers who are trying to abs, writers who are early in their sobriety and writers who have years of sobriety. There’s a little something for everyone in each of the blogs, so check them out. (I’m actually following 10 different blogs but for some reason blogger just shows 7. It’s weird. I sign in and it shows I’m following 10 blogs and then in a few minutes, for no apparent reason, it shows I’m only following 7. If any fellow bloggers can explain this phenomenon to me, I’d sure appreciate it.)

So today I’m just out there doing my best to fill my spaces with worthy thoughts and keeping the pathways clear.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hero's Dance

(Iraq 2010)

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die. ~G.K. Chesterton

Day 59

Happy Veterans Day! Somehow that sounds disrespectful since it brings back so many sorrow filled memories for so many. I remember when my youngest son (he’s the one in the picture above with chin in hand. He’s only 27 and a sergeant in the Air Force and I’m so damned proud of him) was deployed I told myself, “I don’t want to be drunk or hungover if I get that call in the middle of the night, or that knock on the door. I want to do him proud.” I thought that would be incentive enough to keep me sober, it wasn’t. I remember when he and his wife, who is also a sergeant in the Air Force, asked me to keep my 2 ½ yr. old grandson for four months while they were both deployed, I thought, “Now I have to stay sober, I have this baby to look after.” I’m ashamed to say that wasn’t enough to keep me sober either. I don’t know what made me decide finally. I guess it’s like ending up back at the same old familiar fork in the road trying to decide which way to go, I looked up one fork of the road and I saw people laughing and joking and having a couple of beers at a patio restaurant table, and then I looked further and I could see a beautiful sunset and a few friends out on a beach toasting each other and the end of the day with sparkling glasses of wine, and then the road bends and I can’t see any further. It doesn’t matter, I’ve been down that road hundreds of times and I know what is around that bend. I know that the road is full of ruts and potholes and dead ends, but I kept taking it because I kept thinking that maybe it will be different this time, maybe it will be fixed, maybe it will be improved. I knew where all the potholes and dead ends were, maybe if I just avoided them I could make it through. But the road never improved and every time there were new pot holes and no matter which way I turned,I kept ending up in the same dead end with no exit. I had to turn back around and make my way back to the fork in the road. So then I looked up the other road, I’d heard it was the better road, the safer road but it didn’t look like it. From where I stood, all I could see was a lonely stretch of highway, there were no bright restaurants or beach bars, no friends clinking glasses. It looked bleak and desolate. It too had a bend that I couldn’t see around, and I’d heard that once I got around that bend, things would be so much better, the road would be so much smoother and best of all, there were no dead ends. I finally decided I had to see what was around that bend. To be continued…

In honor of my son and daughter-in-law and their fellow soldiers and their families I borrowed this from my other blog:

I am going about my usual business this morning, listening to the news on the TV with about a half an ear and an even lesser percentage of my mind when the newsperson announces,

"A roadside bomb killed three U. S. soldiers this morning,..."

Everything stops!


"Where?" my mind screams, now on full alert.

"in Northwestern Pakistan," the announcer continues.

"Oh good," my mind thinks. "Far away from Iraq or Kuwait where Matt is."

A few seconds later my heart catches up and I realize for thousands of soldiers' loved ones the hell of this day is just starting.

Every Mom and Dad wonders if one of the fallen soldiers is their son or daughter.

Every wife and husband wonders if one of them is their husband or wife.

Every daughter and son wonders if one is their Mom or Dad.

Every sister and brother wonders if one is their brother or sister.

Every grandmother and grandfather wonders if one is their grandaughter or grandson.

Every boyfriend and girlfriend wonders if one is their girlfriend or boyfriend.

Every friend wonders if one is their friend.

For most of us the day will end with relief, elation and a little guilt that we feel this way.

For the loved ones of the three heroes, their everlasting heartache is just beginning.

And this is the dance we do.


Vaya Con Dios

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Last Wishes

“I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?”

Day 58

Yesterday I was working on my book and as usual what I intend to write is never what ends up on the computer screen and the book that was supposed to be about my struggle with alcohol and life in general is ending up being a lot about my Mom. I guess she thinks I’ve ignored her long enough. Lol So here are the words that sprung from the keyboard onto the computer screen yesterday. I guess it could be considered macabre but it doesn’t seem that way to me. Instead it seems hopeful and joyful and peaceful. The day I describe is nothing special, in fact it’s very normal…if I’m not drinking.

My mother and I worked in the same small rural hospital. Mom died there unexpectedly at the age of 57. She had only been sick for a week, she had contracted Legionnaires’ Disease somehow, but she thought it was just the flu and by the time we convinced her to go to the hospital, it was too late. After mom died one of the ladies that worked with Mom in the medical records department came up to me and said, “Don’t you feel lucky that you get to come to work every morning in the place where your momma went to see Jesus?” The woman was a walking talking Tammy Fay Baker wannabe and had the requisite poufy red hair. I wanted to scratch her heavily mascaraed eyes out.

Mom, I would have preferred that you had died in Las Vegas with the slot machine ching-ching-chinging right after you won a million, which is where you were supposed to be that week instead of in a cold sterile hospital room with the respirator wheezing and the oxygen monitor beeping. Or in Tuscany after having a delicious lunch and a bottle of red wine, that way I’d have an excuse to go there. Instead of the drawn, sad faces that peered down on you restrained in that hospital bed I wish you would have had a whirl of dizzy smiling faces as you danced. But I think you would have preferred to just drift away as you set out on your patio with the smell of your roses in the air and the birds singing among the leaves of our tree.

If only we could plan our last day.

What would yours have been like, Mom, if you could have planned it? I wish I knew.

What would mine be like if I had my choice? A lot like what I imagine you would have wanted yours to be, Mom. I’d be home, surrounded by the people and things I love.

I’d be in Colorado and my kids and grandkids would be there. I’d get up early in the morning and start a fire in the woodstove and light a pine candle. I’d go to the kitchen and roll out the dough for cinnamon rolls and get them to rising so everyone will wake up to the smell of them baking in the oven. Then I’d fix myself a cup of tea and just sit there and watch the sun come over the mountains. I might knit a little, maybe a new blanket or a dress for one of the grandbaby’s dolls. Josh would be up first and he’d sit and talk awhile before he’d get the itch to go drop a line in the pond. Matt would be up next and he’d sit by the woodstove and poke the fire, I hope he has quit smoking by then but if not that is where he’ll have his first cigarette of the day. Ryan will wonder in and ask where Josh is and think about joining him. The grandkids stretched out in sleeping bags in the loft have heard the noises below and they’re up and giggling and starting to bicker. I’ll fix scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy and I’ll make the strawberries with heavy cream and sugar that are the grandkids’ favorites. We’ll sit out on the deck and eat our breakfast and watch the squirrels and blue jays squabble over their own breakfast. Fishing poles will be located against the side of the cabin, and some will head down to the creek to check lines that were left in overnight. The youngest grandkids are swinging on the tire swing hung from the old deer stand tree. I’ll grab my same old walking stick that I found soon after we bought the place and try to persuade someone to go on a walk with me. We’ll stick dog biscuits in our pockets and loop the binoculars around our neck and set off down the roads we’ve walked a hundred times before. We’ll wonder in and out of the cabin throughout the morning and fix makeshift lunches of cold cuts or leftovers. Later in the afternoon we’ll gather firewood and build a big fire in the pit and roast hot dogs and marshmallows. The grandkids will try to burn anything they can find and chase each other in a game of tag or play hide and seek until it gets too dark and they get scared that the bears will get them. We’ll sit up and watch the stars come out and talk about all of the fish we’ve caught and not caught and all of the nights just like tonight and tell the same old stories. I’ll leave my boys gathered around the fire and I’ll make my way carefully up the old spiral stairs and step gingerly over the sleeping bodies of my grandchildren. I’ll lay down under my quilt and say, “Thank you everyone.” And close my eyes.

When I wake up the cap’n will be looking down at me and smiling and saying, “Good morning, Baby.”

(I wrote this scenario with the assumption that it will take place several years from now and that the cap’n being several years older than me will have gone on ahead of me)

Here’s the wonderful thing, I can have that day right now. (except for the part where the cap’n has gone on ahead, thank my Co-writer). In fact, I had several very similar days just two months ago when our families came to visit. I can have hundreds more of them…..but not if I’m drunk or hungover. I’ve read so many posts recently from friends that are struggling to make the choice of whether to abstain from alcohol permanently or not. Just like I was, they are afraid of what they will be missing if they quit drinking. I want so bad to ask them, “What are you missing right now?” “How much have you already missed?” “How much more are you going to miss?”

So today I’m just out there doing my best to live every day as if it’s my last, jic, and hanging out with my mom.

Monday, November 7, 2011


(Stanley on the boat and dressed up for Fantasy Fest in Key West, 2001. He earned more beads than I did that night but that's another long, sad drinking story.) 

Today, I'll be grateful for all my relationships.
I will open myself to the lesson and the gift from each person in my life.
I will trust that I, too, am a gift in other people's lives.
--The Language of Letting GoDay 55
I'm grumpy! This time change is really kicking my arse. I know that I was supposed to gain an hour of sleep but try telling that to Stanley, the blind killer bichon. Nobody set his clock back and now he is up at 4:00 am bumping into walls waking me up. So I grumble and cuss and haul him outside in the moonlight so he can do his business while he wags his tail, so happy to see me and wake-up to a new day. He has been such a gift to me, he deserves better.

Fifteen years ago I was getting my dog fix by going out to our local humane society shelter on a weekly basis to visit the dogs out there. The cap'n had decreed, "No more dogs," after the lab I had brought into the marriage jumped the fence for the 900th time and escaped. One afternoon, as I was perusing the caged dogs, I noticed a freshly groomed "poodle" dog in one of the cages. He didn't have that forlorn, unfortunate look yet that shelter dogs usually have.

"Are you guys boarding dogs now?" I asked my friend that worked there
"No," she replied, "that one is up for adoption."

"Hmmm," I said, thinking, poor thing, he's not my type. I hate "poodle" dogs and their prissy, yippy ways. Give me a burly Labrador or German Shepherd any day.

"Did you guys get a shipment of food in?" I asked. "I noticed a bunch of big red dumpsters out front."

"No Kary, the dumpsters are for the euthanized dogs," my friend replied.

I immediately ran home to the cap'n and said, "You've got to let me get this dog." And he did.

Poor Stanley didn't know what he was getting into.

He went from an unknown previous life, to a house with three rambunctious teenagers where he usually hid under the couch or a bed, to a sailboat which made him seasick every time we sailed, to a cabin in CO with bears and coyotes that would love to have him as a snack, and now to a casa in MX where the iguanas are bigger than he is. Along the way, he's been stuffed under uncountable airline seats, swallowed a fish hook, stared desperately, for days on end ,at a shoreline that we couldn't get him in to because of rough seas, been attacked by vicious street dogs and cranky sand crabs and now that he is completely blind, we up and move him to a new hotel room every other week or a new country twice a year. Still, he wags his tail.

On the mornings I was hungover, he would wag his tail hopefully and wait for the silly, "Good Morning, Stanley" song I sing every morning and when it didn't come he would look up at me worriedly. Days later when I finally felt like I could sing again and he heard his song as I came down the stairs he would jump up and down in circles until I grabbed his front paws and danced with him. Both of us relieved.

Stanley, I promise no more deadly quiet, hungover mornings, just silly songs and dancing from here on out. That's my gift to you, you lucky dog.

So today I'm just out there doing my best to ignore my grumpiness and get in the spirit of re-gifting.

P.S. My youngest son called while I was writing this and we had one of the longest and most real coversations than we've had in years, the capn's son called yesterday just to yak at me, and one of my oldest friends called last week and I didn't get off the phone for over an hour. (This may be hard to believe, but I am not a phone person, I'm a lot more gabby on the computer). The gifts just keep piling up. It looks like it's time for me to start re-gifting so I'll have room for new ones. I have several phone calls I've been meaning to make.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Neighbor Kary May's Radio Show: The "Keeping 'Em In Stitches" Episode

"Heirloom" is knitting code for "This pattern is so difficult that you would consider death a relief. ~Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much

Day 52

We made it to another Happy “Act Like I’m Not A Drunk” Saturday, I hope everybody is hangover free this morning and if you’re not, have a Bloody Mary for me. Okay, I know that is not politically correct on this show to say nice things about drinking but I do love a spicy Bloody Mary, it’s just one more thing that will live on in fond memory only. I figure sex will be like that someday, just a fond spicy memory that still makes my mouth water. I know I could fix me a virgin one but I’m really not that fond of tomato juice unless it has healthy slug of vodka in it. “Nuff of that! No more talk about drinking.

My daughter-in-law is having her baby shower this morning and I mailed my present for my first granddaughter earlier this week. They still haven’t picked a name yet, it was going to be Abigail, which I loved, but now they are considering Kelsy which I am ambivalent about but it beats the hell out of Jezebel which, while not seriously considered I hope, my daughter professed a liking for early in her pregnancy. Anyway I sent the baby the cutest baby blanket, kimono-sweater, and cap that I knitted and crocheted. I meant to take a picture and post it on here but I forgot until I had it sealed up in the package. While some people are fierce in their loyalty to either knitting or crocheting and never the ‘tween shall meet, I sling my yarn both ways. Despite what other needlework devotees profess, I don’t find either one particularly relaxing. It’s probably my own fault because, just like in other areas of my life, I tend to think I’m much more skilled than I am so I tend to gravitate toward patterns that are way out of my league and I have to learn as I screw up. (Thank the heavens for the internet and Knit Witch youtube videos.) So instead of choosing a simple relaxing repetitive pattern like the popcorn stitch in the baby blanket I just finished, I will choose an expert level cable pattern that uses every letter in the alphabet in its abbreviated instructions i.e. (sskp2k4jwzlmnop) 3 then reverse. It sounds like a sobriety test for drunk knitters (my hand is raised in the past tense). I dare you to make a video of that stitch, Knit Witch (I will discontinue the rhyme at this point to maintain my “content suitable for immature viewers” rating). I will attempt this expert level project in the fervent hopes that the beneficiary of all my, devoted, finger numbing, carpal tunnel causing, hard work will gaze in stupored awe at my masterpiece for at least one minute before they toss it into the yawning abyss where all my creations seem to disappear, never to be seen again.

Here are just a few other things I find “not” relaxing about needlework:

1. I can still see to knit or crochet without my glasses but I can’t see the TV without them, so it’s more like K1 P2, Glasses on, Glasses off, repeat.

2. The yarn always runs out when I have made it 7/8 ‘s of the way down the row.

3. Too many stitches left at the end of the row.

4. Too few stitches left at the end of the row.

5. People that decide to have a conversation with me when I am counting my stitches.

6. A big fuzzy knot the manufacturer has put in the middle of a skein that always shows up when I’m in the middle of a row. I think they do it on purpose.

7. Running out of yarn with 3 rows to go. Also done on purpose so you will buy more yarn.

8. Finding hand-knit items in the Goodwill store.

9. Finding things I have spent months knitting wadded up in the corner of a closet. This is a sad true story, but hey, at least they still have it.

10. Always having the size of needles called for, in some other place, some other town, some other state or some other country.

11. Never being able to find the exact yarn that is recommended and buy what I think might be an adequate substitute only to find out halfway through that the baby booties I am knitting would fit Shaquille O’Neal.

12. Here’s one that doesn’t happen anymore. Waking up and finding out I have to rip out everything I knitted the night before because I was drunk.

There’s many more but that’s all I have time for this morning. I’m in the middle of crocheting some Christmas ornaments and I can’t decide if they are incredibly cute or incredibly ugly (kind of like my fourth child) and whether I should be embarrassed or proud when I give them away. It probably doesn’t matter, I’ll never see them again. Lol

I guess we’ll have to suffer through Nancy’s sausages for one more week on DWTS, that’s okay just as long as JR wins.

Speaking of sausages…Here’s a recipe that I used to fix every Christmas morning but I haven’t fixed it in years. I tried to google it but I couldn’t find it so this is how I remember it. Fix it at your own risk. Let me know how it turns out.

Sausage and Stuffing Breakfast Casserole

1 lb Jimmy Dean Sausage (whatever your favorite flavor is).

1 package of Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix

1 dozen eggs

4 cups of milk

1 lb cheddar cheese, shredded or grated.

S&P to taste but I usually think the dressing and sausage add enough seasoning to the casserole without adding S&P

Preheat oven to 325 F

Grease 9x13” baking dish

Brown sausage.

Spread stuffing mix on bottom of baking dish

Spread sausage on top of stuffing.

Combine eggs and milk and pour over sausage and stuffing.

Top with cheese.

Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 4, 2011


THE FOUR AGREEMENTS ....A practical guide to personal freedom:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

... 2. Don't Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opin...ions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

― Don Miguel Ruiz

from: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book

Day 52

A friend of mine posted the above agreements on fb this morning and I thought I’d see how I measured up.

1. I have always been honest, some would say brutally so, some would say stupidly so. I always tell the cap’n if he’s going to try and lie himself out of a ticket or a fine, he better not look to me to back him up, because it will probably end up being doubled. Now the gossip thing…I think anybody that says they don’t like gossip is not being impeccable with their word, in fact they are bald-face liars and that includes men. During my marriage to DH1 we had a pool table and a stereo in our basement and parties would usually start out with the guys downstairs shooting pool and the girls upstairs shooting bull. But then one guy would wander up and then another…all listening with big ears while they chastised us for our womanly, gossipy ways. I’m not proud of the fact that I like to gossip and I do try to curtail it but I have to take some points off for that.

2. Hmm, do I take things personally? I don’t think so. Do you think so? What makes you think that? Is it something I wrote?

3. Okay, I admit it, I’m an assumer and I always assume the worse. Every time I see an email marked “Urgent: Immediate Attention Required” I immediately assume it is from the IRS instead of some nice Nigerian prince that is going to send me a million dollars if I’ll just provide him with my bank account and social security numbers. This dire outlook comes from a childhood of my mother pointing at me and saying, “I need to talk to you later.” I could bank on assuming the worse because that was never an intro to happy news.

4. I can’t say with impeccable word that I’ve always done my best, especially when I was drinking. I think I did my best to fake it a lot, I know I overcompensated a lot to make amends but I know I was fooling myself more than I was fooling others. I finally couldn’t fool myself anymore. I couldn’t even make the effort. I know I was sick but for me that was no excuse for not doing my best, not if I had it within my power to do better. That is the reason I quit drinking. I wanted to do my best. How could I accept less?

In retrospect, I didn’t do very well on the “agreements” score but I will say I show improvement in all of the areas addressed. With sobriety I have gained a humility that allows me to be kinder to myself and others. My tendencies to take things personally and assume the worse have lessened because I’m no longer carrying around that mantle of guilt that caused me to feel deserving of personal attacks and tragic outcomes. I’m no longer looking and waiting for the next strike to fall, but if one does come, I will handle it. And I can give my impeccable word that I will do my personal best, no assumptions necessary.

So I’m giving myself a B+ for effort. There is always room for improvement. (that’s what the priest said at mass today).

So today I’m just out there doing my best to raise the grade and assume my Co-writer will take care of the rest.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kary May's Pissy, Pissy Day

First the doctor told me the good news: I was going to have a disease named after me.

--Steve Martin

Days 50-51

Yesterday’s post, a day late, and I better not hear any bitchin’!

It started out as a beautiful day, an absolutely beautiful day, so why was I so pissed off? I really couldn’t figure it out. You know some days it doesn’t do any good to keep telling yourself how fortunate you are, you’re still pissed off. When I skyped my sister-in-law, Saint Lady of Benevolent Wisdom", and told her that I was in a bad mood for no good reason she said, It must be a "Hickey" thing. Apparently, my brother has his pissy, pissy days too. So when I sat down to do my “morning pages,” a daily exercise that is supposed to unlock my creativity, I decided to write down all the things that were pissing me off. I’m supposed to fill three full notebook pages with random thoughts. I started out with all of the things that were currently pissing me off, the fact that the cap’n whines every morning when he goes to work which makes me feel guilty, the fact that some blogs that haven’t been around as long as mine have more followers (I have the best followers though), the fact that I’m f’ing tired of the Atkins diet even though I don’t stick to it… before long I was scrawling out decades of life decisions that were made concerning my life in which I hadn’t played an active part i.e. that shitty firetrap of a house that my first husband owned before we got married and that I had to live in for nine years, the fact that my older sister got all the looks in the family and I had to settle for all the personality, and don’t even get me started on that f’ing sailboat. For years, I “watered down” any resistance I had with alcohol until I was living someone else’s dreams and convincing myself they were mine, too. Any time any doubts reared their ugly heads or my own dreams tried to make themselves known I just said, “Pass the bottle.” And I drowned them.

That’s how it seemed yesterday morning. I filled those pages in record time, my pen flying across the page. I could blame my pissy mood on my female hormones but I’ll be damned if I know if it’s their fault, they show up any old time they want to these days with no mind to what I want or need, just like everything and everybody else.

Hours later I realized I had filled three pages with things that pissed me off and not once had I written that I was pissed off because I couldn’t drink. “That’s progress, “ I thought, but by then I was pissed off about that too. I was definitely in a drinking mood. But I didn’t.

Some days are just pissy and there’s nothing you can do about it but accept it and hope that tomorrow will be better. If I drink I can pretty much flush that possibility down the toilet, almost guaran-damn-teeing a shitty day tomorrow.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to fish my life and my language out of the toilet.

P.S. I did receive an email from a follower yesterday that brought a smile to this old sourpuss face of mine. Thank you, “you know who you are.” It made my day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eat Your Heart Out, Kim Kardashian

Today, I will live my life and treasure it as mine.

--From The Language of Letting Go.

Day 49

So Kim Kardashian is getting a divorce. Who didn’t see that coming? I know this is usually fodder that I reserve for Saturday’s Neighbor Kary May’s Radio Show but just stay with me, I have a point to make. I think.

I wonder if she’s sad or if she feels a loss. Does she feel anything at all? Did her ratings go down after she got married? You know marriage is a big ratings dump for TV shows, look at what it did to “Rhoda.” Am I the only one that remembers that show? After her and Joe got hitched, it was down the old boob tube tubes for them.

I’m having a hard time finding the caboose to my train of thoughts this morning, probably because cabooses are down the old tubes, too. Speaking of cabooses, I hear Chris Humphries is really devastated about Kim filing for divorce, he says he really hates to leave her “behind.” LOL! I crack me up.

Okay, back on track. The apartments we are staying in while the cap’n works here in beautiful Carlsbad are not low income, but they’re only one or two tiers up. There seems to be a large percentage of single mothers and I regularly spot a tow truck in the parking lot hauling off repossessed cars. Yesterday I made popcorn balls for all of the kids in the neighboring units that have befriended Stanley, the blind killer bichon. Stanley is their friend, I’m just his requisite human accessory. At 5:30 pm I hauled my folding chair and my popcorn balls out to the sidewalk and set-up where the kids could see me before they piled into their parents cars to head to the hills where the more fortunate live, where the candy and the life must be inconceivably better. Stanley’s friends stop to pet him and grab a treat before they go. Tonight those kids will get a glimpse of everything they don’t have, all the candy they could want, neat grassy yards of their own, both parents standing at the door handing out treats and then they’ll come home to the reality of their own life and think they are missing something. They will think that their life isn’t worth as much as those lives up in the hills. They won’t realize that they have enough, that they are enough. I know better.

My folding chair’s cupholder was empty last night and that cavity was bothersome to me. Like a hole in your tooth, that you keep worrying and poking at until it turns into a throbbing, impossible to ignore ache. That empty spot in the arm of my chair kept trying to trick me into thinking that I, too, could escape into a richer world, if I just filled it up. A nice red wine? Cold beer, sure sounds good doesn't it?  Oh man, how about some Jack Daniels?  It's been a long time, don't you miss it?  Just one? But I know better. I know that I, too, would have to come back to the reality of my own life, a little more defeated a little more hopeless. So I quit worrying that hole, I ignored that cunning voice and the twinge faded away.

This morning I arrived early to the river walk and I was halfway across the walkway over the river before the bells of San Jose’s church pealed the early morning hour. I was the only one there and the ducks quacked their joy at seeing me and my pocketful of popcorn. A muscle bound chocolate lab bounded toward me as if I was his long lost friend and he jauntily joined me on my hike, trusting me enough to let me pick stickers out of his paw along the way. The air off the water was cold on my cheeks but my old jacket and the layers of soft fleece and cotton underneath kept me warm. My thoughts were crisp and buoyant. I have enough. I am enough. I am rich.

My friend, the lab, chased along my car for a short bit when I left and then sat down in the middle of the road to watch me turn the corner. "I’ll be back tomorrow, "I tell him as I wave at him in my rearview mirror.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to keep up with of all my riches and not keep up with the Kardashians. Does that make sense? (private joke)