Tuesday, November 24, 2015


This isn't really a Thanksgiving post, but it could be.

I appreciate your very kind and supportive comments from my previous post here. I'm very grateful you took the time to comment AND to prop me up. I needed that!

I spent some time with a friend Sunday who has gone through the entire hip replacement procedure. She spent a long time in pain before she decided to have the surgery, and offered many many MANY helpful tips to make life easier in the weeks I will have to wait.

The most important thing she said, though, was that pain makes you crabby. Constant, chronic pain wears you down. Reducing pressure on my right leg will reduce the pain. Therefore, I present to you my new BFF:
I was loathe to begin walking with a cane, but after Dr. Google explained how to use it properly (you hold the cane on the good side and advance it along with your bad leg to reduce pressure), I can already see that it's a useful tool.

But still. I'm too young to walk with a cane!

Then again, I guess I'm not. If it helps reduce the pressure/pain, and helps prevent a fall, which would be a seriously bad event, then I'll use it.

I'm still in the practice stage. Until I learn how to manage it and a bag and my keys and and and, I'll probably just be very, very careful when I'm out in public. I seriously think there's more risk of falling with a cane when I'm juggling stuff than without it.

Pretty soon, though, I'll be shaking it at you and telling you to get off my lawn.

Oh, yes, I will.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


I really didn't realize how much walking improved my mood until I couldn't walk any more.

Here's the thing: I NEED to lose some weight before I have this hip surgery. The surgery will be less complicated and the recovery will go more smoothly if I weighed less.

My excuses are all good ones:

  • NO exercise – don't believe what you read about exercise not being a factor in weight loss.
  • Along with that, those endorphins aren't getting released and I'm in a funky mood most of the time.
  • I'm bored, bored, bored – and I eat when I'm bored.
  • Motrin relieves my pain better than anything else, but makes my stomach hurt.
  • Eating makes my stomach not hurt.

Maybe they're not such good excuses, but they're the ones I'm using, to my detriment.

My future physical therapist, who also is a friend, tried to reassure me that the repair will work and I'll be raring to go, once the recovery period is over. I have, maybe, used that as an excuse as well. Delay, delay, delay … hey! She's a professional!

At any rate … something needs to change. I have to rest a lot (to minimize the pain). But I don't have to rest and eat snacks.

I just had breakfast half an hour ago. My stomach is growling. What would you do?


Thursday, November 12, 2015


Nine thousand one hundred thirty-one days divided by 365 equals
Today is a milestone in my sobriety – I've now been sober for as many years as I drank.

(You can read my story here. I've been marking this occasion on this or my previous blog for nine years now, and it's easier for both of us to just point you to the first time I told it.)

In meetings, when you announce a sobriety "birthday," you're often asked, "How'd you do it?" And my answer always has been, "One day at a time." 

I have to admit that this birthday seems a teensy bit more significant. Evening out the drunk days with the sober ones is something to think about. It's … a moment.

But it's just one moment among many. 

I'm not the same person I was at 14, when I had my first drink, or at 39, when I had my last one. I'm not perfect now, none of us are. I've learned a lot about myself along the way, most importantly this: I can't do life alone. 

Sometimes I need you, and sometimes you need me. Twenty-five years of sobriety has given me the gift of community. I'm no longer on that island of stubborn independence, spiraling downward and afraid to ask for help, although it's still sometimes difficult to request assistance.

Will I ever get over that? I guess the upcoming surgery experience will provide some answers.

What I have overcome – and I can honestly say this – is the feeling that you don't need me. I have gifts to give; we all do. Staying sober has allowed me to be generous with them. 

Thank you for reading. Thank you for being a part of my real or on-line life. Thank you for helping me stay sober for 25 years … one day at a time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A not-surgery post

Anyone not comatose knows by now that right-wing nuts and fundamental Christians (which may be the same thing, but I'm not sure) are mad at Starbucks. A crazy preacher did a YouTube video suggesting we all tell our baristas our name is "Merry Christmas" so she or he would have to write it on the ombré red but otherwise unadorned cup.

Because a red cup with a green logo isn't Christmas-y enough for him.

Well, you don't get to be a billionaire by encouraging the populace to buy stuff from a company you don't like. So Donald Trump has upped the ante by saying this:
“Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don’t know,” he said. “Seriously, I don’t care.”
Maybe Starbucks should roll out a new cup design with baby Jesus in a manger on it, and start a REAL war on Christmas. Whichever cup sells better wins.

Which really means Starbucks would win, if winning means making a huge profit on already overpriced hot beverages. 'Cause you know everyone will flock to the one on their corner for a Gingerbread Peppermint Whatever to show whose side they're on.

I mean, I have friends who went to Starbucks for a red cup of the devil's brew yesterday who would otherwise be perfectly happy supporting the local roasted beanery – or drinking home-brewed.

And you know how lazy Democrats are when it comes to voting. [Insert heavy sigh here.] I guess not voting with your dollars, though.

Trump also said:
“If I become president, we’re all going to be saying, ‘Merry Christmas’ again. That I can tell you.”
Well, guess what? No one is telling you not to say 'Merry Christmas.' Even if your employer tells you 'Happy Holidays' is the company policy, the boss isn't going to be standing over your shoulder every time you ring up someone's Made-in-China crap.

Wish someone well. But don't stop at Christmas. Actions speak louder than words. If you really want to bless someone during the holidays …
  • Donate to a local food bank.
  • Adopt a needy child from an angel tree.
  • Leave a huge tip for your busy waiter or waitress. And your hotel maid.
  • Leave caps and scarves in an area of your town where they might be picked up and used.
Those are just a few ideas to get you started. What else can you think of that would bless someone during this most wonderful time of the year? (The jury's out on that one, by the way.)

Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 6, 2015

In preparation …

If you're following along, you know that after months of painful walking, I stopped in July, saw a doctor in August, and have finally made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to begin the process of fixing my right hip, which is currently cartilage-free. Sometime next year I'll be having a total hip replacement.

In a previous post, I had set a date of November 1 to go back to primal eating. So far, I've only been able to eliminate sugar. And that's all I'm going to do, most likely until I'm completely recovered. Meal preparation is just easier if I can include dairy, legumes and grains. Sugar is my opiate, adds no nutritional value to my diet, and is physically – if not mentally – easy to ditch.

I've been thinking about how to make that recovery period a little easier on my husband. He's more than willing to do whatever it takes and offer whatever I need, but I'm the chief cook and bottle-washer around here. I've been exploring the idea of preparing a bunch of freezer meals, and yesterday I got down to work, turning these:

into this:

There are now six individual and two large chicken pot pies, labeled and wrapped in my freezer. And one for tonight's dinner in the refrigerator.

Today's job will be to make a vat of chicken-and-rice soup with the rest of the chicken meat. I only used the white meat for the pot pies.

What's kind of silly about this is that we never eat pot pies. I may have made it one other time during our marriage. But the recipe looked good and it will certainly be easy for my husband to pop them in  the oven.

And that's what I'm looking for: EASY.

Other freezable meals on my list are ham-and-cheese quiche, vegetable soup, and chili (which I will freeze in gallon-sized bags and store flat to save freezer space – that's your handy-dandy tip du jour). I'd love other suggestions, if you have any. Leave a comment!

I think you can surmise that keeping grains, legumes, and dairy on the menu will make this whole freezer meal project a lot simpler. (See that line above about looking for easy.) We don't eat a lot of pasta, so I wasn't planning to do a big mac-and-cheese casserole, but I might. I'm thinking I might need a little comfort food disguised as dinner once I get back home.

At any rate … the ball is rolling. I picked up my X-rays yesterday to take with me to the surgeon. I'm looking into the best health insurance plan for 2016. I often say I don't want to wish my life away, but I wouldn't really mind if the next few months kind of flew by.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The surgery saga

You've been through the denture adventure with me, so how about hip surgery? Any takers?

Yesterday was The Beginning. My husband and I have been mulling over possibilities, and decided that waiting until I'm eligible for Medicare – May, 2016 – was too far out. My mobility is sooooo limited and the pain is sooooo ever-present, that we really do need to take care of this sooner rather than later.

We've talked with several friends who've gone through joint replacements – one benefit of getting old is that at least some in your circle of acquaintances will have first-hand experience – and one doctor's name came up repeatedly as The One.

I first called my insurance company to make sure he was in network. And then I called the surgeon's office and made an appointment. He's booked until December. 

So he must be good, amirite?

My initial consultation will be December 8. I explained to the staff person I didn't want the surgery until early next year, and she seemed to think I wouldn't be able to schedule anything sooner anyway.

So I'm officially in the hip-replacement surgical pipeline. The saga begins.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The month I met two Presidents

So it's been quite a month for this Democrat.

I'm pretty sure everyone knows by now that President Clinton came to West Virginia early in October and President Obama was here last Wednesday. I attended both events, and had "a moment" with each of them.

And I still can't quite believe it.

I want to record it here so I never forget it. You never know when Alzheimer's is going to hit. Heh.

The annual West Virginia Democratic fundraiser – the Jefferson-Jackson dinner – was held October 2, and President Clinton was the keynote speaker. Our county executive committee had selected our Outstanding Democrat of the Year, but she was unable to attend, so the committee voted to send me instead.

Am I a happy girl! You bet!
After what had happened at the WVFDW Annual Meeting the previous weekend, I wasn't sure how it would go, but I'd never been in the same room with President Clinton, so I was happy to represent my county.

I had a fabulous time, in the end, and when the event was over I went to the front of the room to talk with a friend. Who was standing at the VERY front of the room and urged me to "hurry, come here, quick!" Because President Clinton was coming down the "rope line," shaking hands and taking selfies with anyone who wanted one.

What. A. Thrill.

I didn't know until the night before President Obama's visit that my name was on the guest list. That friend in the President Clinton selfie? Her husband arranged for my ticket. (THANK YOU, TIM!) She didn't know she was going to be in the audience until the morning of the event. And of course, dropped everything to be there.

There were others from my town going, so I rode with them. I sat in the back of the room, breathing the same air as the President of the United States, for almost two hours, with no hope of meeting him. One of my friends texted me and said to come to the front of the room when the forum began winding down.

Another rope line.

No selfies this time, but … pictures were taken.
Waiting to get in. My friend's
husband arranged for my ticket.
We got to keep our tickets!
On. A. Cloud.
My favorite picture from the day. Totally unexpected shot. 
President Obama was in West Virginia to learn about our prescription opioid problem. West Virginia's death-by-overdose rate tops the nation's. I left the event thinking maybe, maybe this time something will be done. Over and over and over, the words "we need more treatment" were spoken. The Charleston, WV, chief of police said, "We can't arrest our way out of this problem."

Given my volunteer work at a federal prison camp, in which the majority of inmates are drug-addicted, I was most impressed by his attitude.

So October has turned out to be a pretty good month for a political junkie.

I'm approaching a significant sobriety milestone in a couple of weeks. It's simply astonishing to look back on my life and see that I've gone from a hopeless, helpless, poor excuse for a human being, to a woman who tries to give back, savor the moment, and be the person I was meant to be. I'm so grateful to be alive, grateful to know the people I know, grateful for both of you who still read this sadly neglected blog.

Thanks for indulging me.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Breakfast of Champions

A tiny serving of apple crisp
to start my morning off today.
Okay, not really.

I told myself (and you, I think) that I was going to get back on that primal horse and whip my nae-nae back into shape before the hip surgery.

Well, that hasn't happened. Probably because I don't have an actual date for the hip surgery.

I work better on deadline. Heh.

Which isn't really true.

Here's what's really going on in my head these days.

Back when I did my first Whole 30 and lost a bunch of weight, I also felt better. The result of eliminating grains, sugar, dairy and legumes wasn't just a lower number on the scale. It was reduced inflammation and more energy and a general feeling of well-being.

Because I now know that my hip pain is not related to food, but is instead a cartilage deficiency, I'm more than slightly less inclined to eliminate all those things that taste good.

Pass the cheese, please.

I still want to lose weight. I still actually need to lose weight. The less extra lard the surgeon has to cut through to replace that hip joint, the better for both of us.

So I'm going to approach this project as if I were quitting smoking. I'm setting a date, winding down, gearing up, working on my head before I settle in to work on my body.

Here's the thing: Not walking, facing surgery, being in pain all the freaking time – it wears you down emotionally. It saps your energy. It makes you just not care all that much. Grabbing something easy trumps making something from scratch every damned time.

Eating primally takes a lot more work than grabbing a sandwich. I know at least one of you who agrees with me. I can think of other ways I'd like to spend my time than standing at the kitchen counter prepping food.

Like … resting.

But I stood at the kitchen counter most of the morning yesterday, processing a half-bushel of apples, AND I LIVED.  (A paleo apple coffee cake, two gallons of non-paleo apple pie filling, four quarts of sugar-free, cinnamon-spiced applesauce, and a pan of apple crisp – not paleo.)

So I'll build on that small success and plan the plans to get back to more cooking, less snacking.

My husband's birthday is tomorrow, and I'm surprising him with his favorite decadent, delicious, cheesy, creamy onion soup. I'm also making a blackberry cobbler (instead of cake) – another surprise. His gift of several books came in the mail already, so the only way to mark the occasion is with food, amirite?

I'm shooting for November 1 to get back to paleo for good. Maybe not a strict Whole 30, which eliminates paleo-fied concoctions, but definitely ditching grains, sugar, dairy and legumes.

In the meantime, apple crisp makes a lovely breakfast. Maybe not the breakfast of champions in the title, but at least the breakfast of what happens to be handy that doesn't need to be cooked.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Time for a reset

I've announced the intention out loud and in writing to a few people that I need to do another Whole 30.

Intending and doing aren't exactly the same thing.

I have a big dinner to go to tomorrow night. I'm not sure what's on the menu – in fact, I'm not even sure I'll get to eat. As my county's Democrat of the Year, I'll be in a long line for a long time, waiting to be introduced. Last time this happened, there wasn't much food left by the time I found my seat at a table again.

So if I don't get dinner, that can be part of a fast. According to an article at Mark's Daily Apple, fasting is a good way to get back on a primal track.

The article also mentions walking. And I've been thinking about this. My hip hurts, all the time, but I've been assured I can't do any more damage to it than what has already been done. So why not take a short walk two or three times a week? Not the daily four-milers I used to do … but a mile? I could try that, and see how bad the pain is afterward.

I need to do something to get back on track, and to lose some weight before the surgery. So I'm putting it out here. The most successful I've been at dropping pounds and feeling good/healthy/energetic as an adult have been when I've followed a paleo/primal plan. It may not be for you. But it's worked for me, and I've every confidence it will work again.

And I know that losing weight now will have a positive effect on the success of my surgery and ease of recovery.

Here I go.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The week that was

So it's been a week now, and I'm still vacillating between mad and sad. Progressive Organized Women PAC (POW-PAC) paperwork has been filed with the WV Secretary of State. The checking account is ready to accept donations. I still need to set up an online account. I'm taking my time. It'll all get done, eventually.

I've spent a lot of time this week resting during the day and not sleeping at night. Or, rather, sleeping for three hours and then waking up with IDEAS. STRATEGIES. PLANS. My brain is on overdrive.

Your comments from my last post are most appreciated. Thank you all.

What happened last Saturday is a microcosm of what's happened to the Democratic Party here in WV. Possibly elsewhere. I've had my eye on North Carolina politics for a while now, as WV has been following in its footsteps. I've blamed it on the Koch Brothers and all that money, but that's not the entire story here in WV.

The heart of West Virginia's Democratic party is not in the statehouse in Kanawha County. It's in Marion County, home of Senator Joe Manchin (DINO-WV). Joe Manchin – the only Democrat to vote for defunding Planned Parenthood. Joe Manchin – who voted against the Iran Deal (make war, not diplomacy!). Joe Manchin – who called me "honey."

Joe Manchin and those who follow him care more about their power in the structure of the party than they do about the strength of the party itself. We've been bleeding Democrats for years. Clearly there are a lot of Democrats who are voting for Republicans, if you take a look at election results for the last 15 years. The flip of the statehouse in 2014 from blue to red was stunning. The only Democrats in power now are our Governor, who cannot run in 2016, and … Joe Manchin.

What does that have to do with the WVFDW election? Very little, actually. Except that the chair of WV's Democratic Party is a past president, her county voted as a bloc against the nominating committee's slate, she brought the greatest number of county delegates … and she's from Marion County.

In a nutshell, having control over the women who belong to WVFDW was somehow more important than moving women's issues and interests forward in WV. The chair of the party is someone I trusted, liked, considered a friend. Oddly, though, I don't lay total blame on her shoulders. A good deal goes to … Joe Manchin.

Whether POW-PAC makes a difference for West Virginia women lies in our ability to get our message out. It will take a lot of work and dedication. We'll surely ruffle some (more) feathers. One thing is certain: It's not about me, nor is it about any of the other strong, progressive women who are working to make it happen.

It's about West Virginia. And it's about West Virginia women.

Monday, September 21, 2015

As weekends go, this certainly was one

I don't think I've written anything about the election that happened here in WV over the weekend. It took place at the state convention for the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women (WVFDW). My county chapter was the host. I've shared a little bit about how busy our group was preparing for that. But the election? Not so much.

I was nominated for vice-president. Traditionally, the assembly accepts the recommendation of the nominating committee, everyone sings kumbaya, and you go to a banquet. But not this year.

Three of the top board positions were challenged by floor nominations. Mine was one of them.

The woman nominated for president and I ran as a team. She went down in the first ballot of the day, and I realized then that I didn't need to give quite as powerful a speech as I'd planned to. It was referred to by one witness as a kamikaze speech.

WVFDW is a club, politically oriented, obviously, but not beholden to the public. It's nice, though, to know the members of a group you've served for several years appreciate you and welcome your contributions.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

Don't get me wrong: MANY, many women approached me and told me how much they appreciated my work for the organization. (I took care of the website and created most of the memes for the Facebook page. Oh, and started a blog, a newsletter, and a Zazzle shop.) From my brief parenthetical resume, you can see I was a big contributor to the digital side of things.

The nominee for president came up with the ideas. Having more time than she, I executed them. We really are a good team. As I said in my speech, she's the spark plug and I'm the mechanic.

But talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. You don't show me you value my service by then voting me out.

I learned a lot from the entire experience, most of which I will keep to myself. What I will share is this: For Democrats in West Virginia, longevity trumps all. The longer you've been a member, the longer you've had a D beside your name, the better. The lifetime Democrat who is a charter member of WVFDW wins the prize.

Which is silly, really. If you want your group to grow and attract new and younger members, you look at records. My record, and that of the nominee for president, has hundreds of thousands of digital fingerprints all over it. Social media is where those potential younger members are. And that's where we worked the hardest, while also creating the newsletter to make sure we were reaching those who don't spend much time online.

Without being too melodramatic about it, I guess I'm making my way through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You don't have to have all of them, and you don't have to have them in that order. But most people experiencing an impactful loss feel some or all of these emotions to some degree.

I'm pretty sure I skipped denial and went straight to anger. I'm not sure bargaining is relevant. I feel stuck between mad and sad right now, and I'm really very close to acceptance. I will be all right. I'm already making plans for how a way to work on issues that mean something to me and to other progressive women who feel that WVFDW chose a different set of values.

There was a lot of discussion at this meeting about adding a standing committee just for social media. And after all was said and done, it was added. The social media team will no longer serve at the pleasure of the president, but will be an elected office and a voting member of the board.

I'm happy about that.

I'm just sad I won't be on it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What I've been doing with my time

Now that I'm not spending a couple hours a day walking (see previous post if you're not keeping up with my medical history), how am I spending my time?

You'd think, with a blog called Knit. Run. Reap. Eat. that I'd be knitting. Or gardening. It's a fact I'm not running, nor haven't been for quite some time.

It's also a fact that I've been doing a little knitting. I finished a self-designed V-neck pullover, very simple and very wearable. It's kind of an oatmeal color, the yarn (I forget what it's called but I know it's long-discontinued) is a wool/cotton blend and kind of "nubby," and it's all stockinette, except for the lower edge and sleeve cuffs. They're 2x2 ribbing. I finished the neckline with attached I-cord.

I love the sweater. Tunic-length, quite comfy. I can't wait for fall so I can wear it.

I started another project, the Oat Couture Seville Jacket, but I'm not sure the yarn is going to work for it. I chose a fuzzy mohair blend, and I think it needs something smooth and classy. Or classic. Fuzzy mohair isn't it. But I'm two balls into the back of it, so I guess I'll keep going.

Maybe. I'm just not excited about this the way I am about that pullover.

If you're a regular reader, you know there's no gardening going on. It just hurts too much. The weeds are epic this year. It might be time to put cardboard down and be done with them.

The one thing I'm doing a lot of is eating. I'm feeling very emotional about the "old-ness" of needing a total hip replacement. And since I'm an emotional eater, I've been chowing down. Candy. Bread. All the stuff I've avoided for years is creeping back in. I'm giving myself until the first of next month to get over it and get down to business.

Because the biggest fact is surgery and recovery will go much better if I'm at a normal-ish weight and in somewhat reasonable physical shape.

I've reached out to a yogi and have some videos to work with. I've only rowed a couple times, probably too much, because it caused a great deal of pain. But I'm going to keep trying it, because I think rowing is a great total-body workout that could be what I need, if I do it moderately. I've been using some very light weight dumbbells on an irregular basis.

So that's what I've been up to. I don't have much else going on in my brain except thinking about having surgery. Or, actually, thinking about recovering from it.

P.S. I've also been spending a LOT of hours preparing for a statewide convention coming up NEXT WEEK. Most of that work is done. What's left is mostly computer work, which takes time, but doesn't hurt.