Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Supporting our AA friends during the Holidays

Holidays are a time of big “triggers” for many alcoholics. The AA community where I live is very aware of these pit-falls and, along with our regular meetings morning, noon and night they go even further when the Holidays approach.  An elaborate Thanksgiving meal will be held this week for example.  It will be open to all AA members and their families and even to those who just need a good meal.

Then it's on to December and the stress levels go even higher. For many years one of our most successful ways to handle this has been our “Holiday Marathon”. This year it starts on Sat. the 21st and continues thru New Year’s Day. Our members sign up to commit to 2 hour shifts so that there will always be a person to talk to if need be. Of course a Christmas dinner and a New Year‘s lunch are provided too.

We have been doing this for quite a few years and my favorite memory centers around a long distance trucker who found himself in our area during a critical point in his journey to sobriety. He had called our Answering Service for help in finding a meeting and they referred him to us.

When the trucker arrived it was apparent that he was in a bad way. He was newly sober and his hands were trembling. He was craving a drink although it was barely noon, but he stayed on for the rest of the day. You could just see the calm return to him the longer he remained. When it came time to close  up he asked if it would be OK if he slept in his truck in our parking lot.  Of course we said “yes”!

Long story short he stayed with us for the entire time … right up through New Year’s Eve and the following day. By this time we were all old friends and he had shared much of his life’s story with us. In many ways it was a miracle that he had been able to get sober and he was doing everything in his power to stay on the path. Needless to say we hated to say goodbye.

For all of my non-alcoholic readers I say … "raise your glasses, make your toasts, and eat those rum balls. Just don’t try to talk an alcoholic into doing the same … those 'triggers' are no laughing matter.”   Thanks and Happy Holidays.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Backing up to the start of my vacation.

In my last blog entry I mentioned the Halloween fun that I had with my daughter & her husband in NY. Now I want to back up and talk about the trip up there from North Carolina.

Many of you will remember all the blog entries that I posted about the travels of my niece Wendy. Well she finally came back to the U.S. and part of her plan was to come to where I live and to load up all her belongings that she had in storage and take them back to NY where she has a house. It happens to be very near to where my kids live so I hitched a ride with her.

Here she is the night before we left …

We planned to drive about half-way up and stay overnight in a B&B in the Shenandoah Valley. I was very impressed with the way that Wendy took on this challenge. The truck was ENORMOUS and she handled it like a pro … slow and steady and finding parking spots with plenty of space and no need to try backing up.

As lunch time approached we started to look for a place to stop. The minute we saw the signs for the town of Tightsqueeze, Virginia we knew we'd found our spot! Unfortunately this strangely named town turned out to have only fast food restaurants but we were hungry and decided to stop anyway. We couldn't find a soul who knew how the town was named “Tightsqueeze” but did get a chuckle when we saw a heavy lady in a purple dress doing her best to squeeze between 2 tables to get to her seat. Luckily her back was to us !

After lunch we made good time and arrived at the B&B around 5. It was still light and Wendy asked me to sit in the driver's seat so that she could take a picture. Here it is:

and a copy of the email that she sent to my children along with the picture. 

We made it to the Shenandoah Valley easily. Although your mom was tired when we arrived, I really appreciated that she insisted to drive the whole way so I could catch up on sleep. On to NY tomorrow!”

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A Halloween treat …

First of all let me apologize for not leaving any blogger comments for the last 2 weeks. I have been up in NY state visiting my daughter Jody and her husband Brian. A fun time was had by all and this was one of the highlights:

Here we see Jody in the kitchen preparing her pumpkin for the cutting process:

Then Jody and Brian in front of the lovely stone wall of the bridge at Patchin Mills, Pine Plains, NY.

For many years it has been the tradition to line up the pumpkins there and set them aglow with candles inside. John Bradley (a Patchin descendant) and Jody & Brian's friend, has continued the tradition ever since his mom died 8 years ago. He actually buys the pumpkins and scoops out the insides so they are ready for decorating. This year he provided close to 100 “ready to go” pumpkins ! 

Here we have the final display … lovingly carved by the locals !

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

PICKLED and BRINED to last forever !

I guess you could call it “gallows humor” but I got a big kick out of this sign. It is promoting a self-storage business and looks quite ordinary until you see it lit up at night ... then the AA jumps out at you ... or at least it does if you are a recovering alcoholic and follow the AA program. Imagine how this business could be used to our advantage.

Self storage facilities lease space to individuals who store all sorts of items in them. What about old Uncle Joe who never seems to be able to stay sober? We could keep him off the street and out of his car if we stored him in one of these handy lockers along with his usual quart a day. He’d never know the difference and we’d be doing the town a favor.

We could also box up our sordid past and put it in an AA self-storage unit labeled “open when needed”. Just knowing it was there could prevent us from going down that road again.

Lastly, I think of the units that are accessed by opening a roll-up metal door, usually about the same size as a one-car garage. What a perfect spot to store that dented and useless old car.  It's a not-so-subtle reminder that what we recalled as the “good old days” were more truthfully “the wreckage of our past”.

Friday, November 08, 2019

My antique lap desk ...

In my last blog entry I talked about my sister Peg who passed away 7 years ago.  It brought to mind the lovely antique lap desk that she inherited and sent to me requesting that I decorate it for her in any way that I thought appropriate.   I was very touched by her request.

The desk top was perfectly plain as you can see in the “before” picture. It was literally a blank canvas and I tried hard to find the perfect design to bring it alive. I have a huge library of Folk Art books and I leafed through them looking for an inspiration. I knew I had found my answer when I came across this sweet picture of two sisters in repose. 

The picture was painted in 1854 by Mary Ann Smith and is titled “Portrait of the Two Sisters”. I loved the colors and the stylistic folk art look. It seemed to be a perfect match for the desk and I felt like I was paying homage to the artist rather than just copying her art. I like to think that she had a sister as close to her as Peg and I always were.


Sunday, November 03, 2019

My “twin” sister Peg

This picture was taken in 1934. That's me on the right, age 1 year and to my left is Peg … born just 14 months earlier. It’s obvious that we were not actual twins but many thought we were and this is why...

...When it was time to go to school Peg went to Kindergarten and then to a sort of “trial” class called “transition” before first grade. It was canceled before I started school and, of course, that meant that Peg and I ended up in the same grade … and that's how it was for the rest of our lives. We were side by side, like twins, in everything. To say that Peg and I were close is an understatement.

Peg was extremely generous and loving and she was a great listener. I used to be jealous of the way the boys would flock to her side and often shared their hearts out as she patiently nodded her head in agreement and understanding, but I was never jealous enough to try to emulate her. I was more apt to be thinking “oh, for heaven's sake … get over it and move on !” You can see why they chose her … the sweet side of our twosome.

I actually introduced her to a college classmate who was to become her husband. They had been married just shy of 60 years when she died 7 years ago. I will, of course, never be able to replace her but at least I have a lifetime of memories that comfort me.