Friday, December 20, 2013


Stay tuned! :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Changes, changes, changes

Since the end of last summer, much has changed. I haven't yet decided if I will continue this 'blog consistently, though now that I have lost my job, I have plenty of time. Whether I have the inspiration...I don't know.

My job ended on December 9, but I was sent home on Armistice Day, at half pay for the duration of my contract. Ostensibly this was because of funding, but I think a large part of it was the changed climate of my department, my ill adaptation to those changes, and my coping with an alcoholic husband, which made me appear unreliable. I am not sorry: the job got my appendectomy paid for, as well as F's diabetes diagnosis and treatment, paid for, plus I got Molly, Liza, and Lindsay, Cassie's successors.

Most importantly, the insurance I got at my job paid for F's alcoholism treatment; he completed a stay at Brighton Hospital in November and came home from a sober living house twelve days ago. I am and will forever be grateful to the folks at the Howell Alano Club and the Brighton recovery community.

Because I started this 'blog as a way to provide a source I wish I had had, I'll say it all. I come from a family with alcoholism all down both sides. Both my parents had alcoholic fathers. My mother's father had thirty years of sobriety when he passed away in 1992, but my father's father never really stopped drinking. Every time I stayed up into the wee hours, or was awakened by the thud of my husband's body falling unconscious to the floor, I worked to pick him up, to carry him to bed, to clean up after him, grimly certain of my place in a long line of women who had done so for the drunken.

When F checked in to Brighton, I asked him if he'd mentioned my grandfather's name for the frequent flier discount. My father, twenty years old and newly bereft of his mother in 1970, had driven his father to Brighton and checked him in when it seemed certain that his father would drink himself to death in his grief. At thirty-four, with my husband's parents in attendance, it was harrowing enough to sit in that big waiting room while F was tested and evaluated; I can't imagine what it must have been like for my father, with only his girlfriend, my mother, for support, to take his father there. As I type this, I weep for the boy my father was, for how he must have buried his own grief to care for his father.

Looking back on my parents' relationship, how my father cleaved to my mother and resented any separation, I think I understand why. A terrifying brain surgery in 1978 threatened to separate us all, but he survived to take his M.Ed from the University of Michigan in 1979, to a thunderous standing ovation.

But my father died young, like his mother. I miss him. I wish that I could speak with him about losing my job. He lost many jobs, even the day before he married my mother.

"What did you do?" I asked him when he told me, just a few months before he died.
"I got up, I married your mom, and we went on our honeymoon. I knew something would turn up," he said.

Mom and Dad saw us through the recession of the early 1980s. We didn't go to Disneyworld, but there was always enough to eat, and new bikes at Christmas, and trips up north to the cabin our parents had built atop the moraine marking the furthest extent of the glacier that carved Lake Huron.

So now, as I sip a beer bought with my unemployment check, I remember my father and how carefully he and my mother hid hard financial realities from us. I am grateful that my mother has found a wonderful, kind man with whom to share her life, but I still miss my Daddy.

Within the next few months, we will leave our little apartment in Michigan's premiere college town for a Victorian house in Wisconsin: harp, guitar, kitties, and all. All I have is what is within me: the certainty that there is no certainty.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Tortellini

If you receive a bounty of vegetables from a friend's garden, like I did on Sunday, try this recipe.

1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 bunch kale
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1 pkg frozen cheese tortellini
fresh herbs to taste (I like thyme)
olive oil
salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Slice zucchini and squash and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
While the squash cooks, cut the kale into ribbons and add it to the pan. Stir it well, reduce heat, and clap a lid on the pan for about five minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and add to the vegetables. Season to taste.
Cut tomatoes in halves or slices and toss with pasta and vegetables. Drizzle with more olive oil, if you like, and serve with iced tea.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweets, and keeping one's seams straight

My friend and coworker, the Fabulous Babs, says, "There's something intrinsically, subtly sexy about looking back over your shoulder to check that your seams are straight." I agree.

I have slowly acquired a small collection of vintage nylon stockings, sheer as nothing available today is sheer. But for the seam running up my calf, one would never know I was wearing stockings. When I was a teenager, I asked my mother for stockings instead of pantyhose, and she looked at me strangely. She told me that when she was a teenager, she had to wear a garter belt with stockings, and she had hated it. She permitted me to purchase a garter belt and a pair of stretchy stockings, and to say that I liked them very much is an understatement. Of course, at seventeen, I wasn't that interested in displaying my stockings to anyone. I think I just wanted to be different, as usual.

Now that I have a job for which I can dress up without worrying about mussing my clothes, I wear my vintage stockings almost every day. I don't like the way the garter clips dig into the backs of my thighs, but it's bearable. By the way, if you're interested in wearing old-fashioned stockings, please spend a bit more to get a good garter belt. Make sure that the garter clips are solid and that the rubber knobby part won't pop out of the metal loop -- and do insist on metal loops, as they last much longer than plastic. I like four straps on each leg; the flimsy little belts sold by most lingerie shops only have two, which are not enough to hold a non-stretchy nylon stocking taut all day.

I unfortunately don't have photos. Someday, perhaps...

Time for a very easy summer sweet.

Strawberries and Cream

Fresh strawberries, hulled
Heavy cream
Greek yogurt sweetened to taste with powdered sugar
or both!

Slice strawberries (or not). Pile in dishes.
Whip cream (or not), or mix sugar with yogurt. Pour or plop onto berries and enjoy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a rún...

That day,
I closed the door

but this day,
I press my eye to

a crack to
see your face.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

To the man who played William Wallace

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Be Gentle With Yourself"

"Be gentle with yourself." That's a bit of advice I'd often heard, but wasn't able to follow. I even took a spiritual development class on being gentle with myself. Still, the taskmistress in my head refused to be banished. Gentle? What nonsense! Life isn't about being gentle. It's about working hard, harder, harder, and winning, and being right. And whatever you are, or want to do, if it doesn't get you more money, it's stupid. And you're stupid for wanting those things.

There are much worse things that get said, too, but I don't want to tell you those.

My friend Zilan sent me a link to this page, and for some reason, the author words the message in such a way that I finally was able to understand how gentleness and lovingkindness towards myself is not lazy, undisciplined, or disgustingly self-indulgent.

Criticizing yourself, beating yourself up, feeling sorry for yourself, and being disappointed in your own behavior is not virtuous, honorable, or productive in any way. If you do it on a regular basis, you’ve been taught to believe that negative feedback is an effective way to motivate change.

That kind of thinking was taught to you by those who didn’t know any better than to make you feel worse so they could feel better. They did their job well because you sub-consciously believe that if you can make yourself feel bad enough, you’ll do better.

Fortunately, that’s not how it works. Negative feedback creates avoidance behavior, not inspired behavior. Otherwise, the only way we can be successful is by making ourselves miserable!

DING! I suddenly understand. I've been experimenting with refusal to judge myself when I do things like eat dessert for dinner, finish the bottle of Chardonnay at the end of the evening, lie on the couch watching Law and Order, or take the bus instead of walking the couple of miles home. And yes, almost all of my harsh self-judgment has had to do with eating and body image problems. I still struggle, but it has gotten easier since reading this article and, somehow, taking it to heart. I hope you find it helpful, too.

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