Tuesday, December 30, 2008


DENVER (AP) - Mike Shanahan became the latest and most stunning victim of the NFL coaching purge, fired today by the Denver Broncos after a late-season collapse knocked the team out of the playoffs for the third straight year.

Despite that, and the 52-21 loss to the Chargers that ended Denver’s season Sunday, this was a shocker: The ouster of a 14-year coaching veteran who won two Super Bowl titles for Denver and was considered by many in this town to be a lifer.

Shanahan’s record was 146-89, but the Broncos remained stuck at only one postseason victory since John Elway retired in 1999 after Denver’s second championship.

This year, as the defense floundered, it became obvious it wasn’t just a coaching problem. It was an issue of talent on the field, and in Denver, Shanahan makes all the personnel decisions.

Known as “The Mastermind” during his tenure with the Broncos, Shanahan shouldn’t have much trouble getting another job if he’s interested - and willing to part with the 35,000-square-foot house he’s building in a fancy part of Denver.

He earned the reputation honestly, returning to lead the Broncos after a short, unsuccessful stint with the Oakland Raiders, where he was fired by Al Davis in a contentious parting that still isn’t fully resolved. (Shanahan still claims he’s owed $250,000).

Shanahan became a coaching star as a coordinator and confidant of Elway’s while the Broncos were being coached by Dan Reeves. But Reeves ended up firing Shanahan, accusing him of insubordination for supposedly conspiring with Elway to hatch game plans behind the head coach’s back.

Denver’s two Super Bowl victories came behind the running of Terrell Davis and the brilliance of Elway, but Shanahan pulled the strings and finally helped deliver the title to a city that had been through four painful Super Bowl losses, three with Elway at the helm.

I am one of the many people surprised. I haven't watched TV since I moved into my apartment. I don't want it to be the focus of my life, but even I thought Shanahan would be in Denver forever. He and Elway were magic. It had to end, and it is very difficult to create that chemistry once, much less twice...I guess he couldn't find anyone to take Elway's place in his heart.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Perfect environment

Someone in my group celebrated 60 days sobriety today. In sharing his experience strength and hope, he put me in mind of a statement that was shared with me last week:

I now know that you need almost a perfect environment to stay sober.

That was part of a long email sent to me by someone who had to live with me during my drinking days. I feel sorry for him that he had to put up with me. Alcoholism is a selfish disease. It is selfish on both sides, during our drinking and working through our sobriety. There is no question that for me my disease is largely genetic given my family history. I know I also have a serious thinking problem that is how I justified my drinking for so long. To that end, my disease is psychological and physiological and has to be addressed on both levels. So far I have been able to arrest it through simple determination brought about by severe consequences due to drinking myself into seriously nefarious places. Included in that determination has been finding a solid support group and working every single day on my sobriety. I am far from a perfect environment, but where I am is in a safe environment, surrounded by a group of people who want to stay sober as much as I want to stay sober. I didn't feel supported at all where I was two years ago through no one's fault but my own. I find myself resenting that sentence, but it is my resentment and my issue to work through. I am clear that my sobriety is a daily reprieve contingent on going to meetings, working the steps and staying in touch with like-minded individuals who can help me. The sole reason they can help is because they have been where I was: drinking and they couldn't stop, wanting so badly to stop, but couldn't, and finally having to completely surrender to the demon that controlled them. I no longer expect anyone who has never suffered from an addiction to understand. The individual quoted above dealt with my selfishness for too long and made his choice that he no longer wanted any part of it. I completely understand that and I hope that things work out for him. Things are working out for me. I am on my path, and I am happy here. It is not perfect, or even almost perfect, but it much healthier than where I was. I like it. And I believe I have a fighting chance every single day that I do what I do to stay sober and save my life. No question in my selfish mind, saving my life is my number one priority in this world.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My little love

I love one of the lines from the movie "Marley & Me". "A dog doesn't care if you're rich or your poor, give him your heart and he'll give you his." I haven't seen the movie yet, but I can't wait. I think the next day I'm off work I'll take it in.

Here is why that line is so poignant to me:

These are the remnants of Callie's fourth...yes, fourth...dog bed (I made her pose for this picture, isn't she cute!) The line from that movie means a lot to me because I am convinced that my dog wants to ensure that I am poor and absolutely have to have a job. If for nothing else, to keep a constant supply of dog beds (aka stuffed toys) in stock. She is not the worlds worst dog by any stretch, but she is certainly one of the most active! A side note: My friend Kara thinks I'm one of the most calm, in control people she knows...she finds it incredibly funny that Callie is as wild as she is, and that she's my dog. What she doesn't realize is what a great balance Callie is for me. I'm a little too serious, and Callie makes sure I lighten up and live life on life's terms.

P.S. If you blow up the picture, you can see her snazzy new collar Santa found for her at a craft fair. She had a blue collar, so everyone thought she was a boy, which started to irritate me, but I didn't like the pink collars at PetsMart, so Santa went hunting and found this one that is very pretty, subtle, yet feminine. Callie likes it too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The year in review

I've been thinking about this past year since it is soon coming to an end. I have to say that all said and done, it's been a pretty darn good year. With the help of the program I've made enormous strides in my emotional sobriety. I no longer fool myself, I know it will be something I will work on the rest of my life, but progress, not perfection is what I strive for everyday. There are some things that happened this year that I'm very proud of, there are some things I could have handled better, but rather than flog myself like I've done in years past, I learn and move on. Losing Ozzie was difficult, finding Callie was a great joy. Both reminding me of the cycle of life. Having to file bankruptcy was humiliating, but in the end has given me a fresh start and new hope that I can walk through anything and not have to drink over it. Knowing that my drinking led to my bankruptcy; emotional, spiritual and financial has galvanized me to work the program and try to be a better person each day. I am happy to discover that my optimism for life is intact. I am glad to discover that while I am wiser, I am also less fearful of the world around me. More easily, I take things in stride. Someone breaking my car window while I was at work became a minor inconvenience rather than a "world will stop spinning on its axis" crisis. That I have a job, that I have been able to keep this job, that I have been able to advance in this job is a major miracle in itself. I have a pretty nice and very safe place to live. I have made great friends at work, in my group, and through my writing, and I feel like I belong here, I feel welcome here, and I feel comfortable and safe here. Two years ago, I didn't feel any of that. I am glad that I have it and can welcome it into my life everyday.

I have struggled to bury the past, finally making peace with the fact that I can't bury it. Remembering it, and slowly it's all coming back to me, helps keep me sober and keeps me wise. Making the mistakes that I made will likely not happen again simply because I am sober and trust my own counsel, and no one will ever be able to manipulate me to their own selfish ends ever again. I still believe if I had had more sobriety behind me, and the support group I needed, I never would have made such a destructive, life-altering decision, or at the very least would have done it better, done it right. But it cannot be changed. I will live with it and work on healing from it the rest of my life, however, it will not rule me any longer, of that I'm very sure.

The most important thing that has happened this year has been the rebuilding of my relationship with my family, especially my parents. We have been able to talk a lot about what happened and share the damage it did and have been able to heal from it. We each have our own work to do in this area, but as a family we will do it. I appreciate their love and support and ability to deal with the pain I caused honestly and openly, and I am proud of myself for being able to hear it and do what I can to make amends. Some amends can never be made, but with time and continued sobriety, trust will return, I believe that.

The big event: I finally finished a manuscript. I think it helped me work through Step Four. I've said that before. It was a difficult but cathartic experience, and best of all, I know I can write the way I have always wanted to write, but through lack of confidence, self-sabotage and living too far in the future, never thought it would happen. In January, I plan to begin another project, and look forward to its unfolding, one day at a time.

The most important lesson of the year: While I can plan ahead, I cannot put my hopes on a future that isn't here. I have to take care of today. I learned from my own experience and listening to the experience of the group, that if I take care of today, tomorrow will take care of itself. There are many things that are out of my control, the best that I can do is take care of the things that I can control. With that, I look forward to putting together the 365 days that will make up the next year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

10th annual pumkin run a bust

BOULDER (AP) - The first of 12 people cited with running down Boulder's Pearl Street Mall on Halloween night wearing nothing but pumpkins on their heads has accepted a plea deal.

Twenty-year-old Natalie Ziemba of Boulder pleaded guilty Thursday to disorderly conduct.

Under the agreement, she will receive six months of probation and eight hours of community service, and pay $27 in court fees.

Prosecutors say the same deal likely will be offered to the others facing charges in the 10th Naked Pumpkin Run, a popular Oct. 31 tradition that involves pumpkin carving, beer and a late-night naked run down the mall.

All 12 people originally faced indecent exposure charges, which would have required them to register as sex offenders.

Prosecutor David Chavel says the remaining cases are in negotiations with the Boulder district attorney's office.

That's how much the world has changed. When I was growing up in Boulder, naked was the norm. You would generally be cited for decent exposure. :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Callie's first snow

We had our first snow last night, finally! I got home a little late from work because someone busted out my passenger window on my car while I was at work (I had this funny feeling of dread most of the day, but brushed it off because I was tired. I should pay more attention to my intuition, it has never lied to me...especially about men); so I had to talk to the police, go to Dad's and have him put some plastic on it until I can get it fixed (of course it happened on a Saturday night!) I was doing okay last night with it, this morning I'm a little grumpy because of the snow...This too will pass. It started snowing shortly after I got home, go figure.

Anyway, on to the good news...Callie had her first snowfall of her little life. I was really excited about it...her...not so much :-) She tiptoed around last night and kept coming in the house. She didn't want to be out in it. I think it felt funny on her paws. This morning we went out in the front yard and she had a blast! She discovered snow was really fun, and if she ran really fast she could kick it up behind her and slide and roll and all sorts of fun stuff. I had a hard time getting her to come in this morning! What a silly dog...I just love her so much!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Excerpts from the wrap up letter from Chris Baty - NaNoWriMo

Whatever magical forces were afoot this year, we collectively managed to write 1.6 billion words, demolishing last year's count by nearly 500,000,000 words. Wow!

The sneaky secondary mission: Jobs. Having a job is one of the greatest, trickiest things you can do as an adult. Employment brings perks like challenges and growth and (sometimes) money. But the longer you work at a job, the easier it is to confuse what you are doing with what you can do.

Each of us has a wealth of talents spread broadly over domains both marketable and deliciously impractical. The tricky part is that we tend to develop the former at the expense of the latter. Passions become hobbies. Hobbies become something we swear we'll get back to when we have more time. Or when the kids are grown. Or when the stock market recovers.

Which means we leave unexplored many of those paths that ultimately make us feel most alive—the moments of creating, building, playing, and doing that lead to extraordinary and unexpected things.

Like writing a book.

Or, more loosely, postponing the must-dos of the real world to spend 30 days exploring an attractive, improbable dream.

Giving ourselves that time is so important. Because the world can wait. It's what the world does best, in fact. It was hanging out for 4.5 billion years before we arrived, and it'll be waiting around for another few billion after we're gone.

Our dreams, however, have much shorter shelf-lives.

Whatever you think you are, you are more than that. You possess a fearsome array of skills and abilities, and the most satisfying of these may be completely unknown to you now...Life is so short. Adventures beckon. Let's get packed and head out on a new one today.


Some how, some way I have managed to walk through hell and negativity and self-sabotage and have been lucky to end up in a safe and nurturing place. This place gives me permission to explore all the crazy, improbable ideas and dreams I have in my head, and I am finding they are not all so crazy or improbable. The working me does not have to be mutually exclusive of the creative me. I can make a living, save some money and do what I love to do, all in one fell swoop. I've heard it a million times, but thought it never applied to me, but it does. It applies to all of us if we let ourselves believe.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A life worth living

Someone celebrated their 60 days sobriety today. We always make a big deal out of birthdays because they truly are a big deal. Self-destruction has ceased, healing has begun. Someone mentioned that they hated counting days. I shared that I love counting days because it is always one more day that I am saving my life and creating a life worth living. I have been very lucky. I really have landed on my feet and have a life that I enjoy and cherish and have fun with every single day. My life has become a life genuinely worth living and I am grateful.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I find myself getting so frustrated

It's getting colder here and especially the mornings are a little intimidating to me. I am always grateful I have a roof over my head, I almost didn't at one point. Anyway...Callie likes her morning walks. I like our morning walks too, but not so much in the cold. Try as I might, I haven't been successful in talking Callie out of walking in the morning after I get home from my meetings. So I layer myself up in my sheepskin everything: ski cap and all, and we hit the road. Then the frustration begins. I've got Callie on a leash, am carrying bags to pick up her big jobs and we're minding our own business. I know there are other dog owners out there like me, but I don't see them much on these cold days. What I do see is dogs running the neighborhood unattended by anyone, or attended by some asshole who stands in their yard and yells at their non-responsive dog who is charging my dog - who is on a leash. I'm not worried about my dog, most of these little yappers are about 1/4 her size. If I give them a slight shove with my hand, they bolt. What scares me is that this town is full of rednecks. Really stupid ones who have their F-250's and money because they've been in the oil fields. I live in a very residential area, but it doesn't stop them from barreling through the streets at 60 MPH at 8:30 in the morning. I said to one guy today who was yelling from his yard at his non-responsive dog who was in the middle of the street, that she was going to get hit. Lucky for her, the car that came along was not driven by a brainless redneck dickhead, and the driver stopped in time. I am afraid, however, that she will not always be so lucky. She is one of several examples I see on a daily basis.

Part of the reason I frequent places like Devil's Canyon and the Mesa is that there are many places that Callie can run off her leash legally and enjoy immense (albeit controlled) freedom. Sadly, I can't do that every day simply because of the time it takes to get there and back and my work schedule, but we go as often as possible on my days off. So, on days I work, I walk my dog in the neighborhood, each and every day - on a leash.

I think that a majority of dog owners around here try to be good to their pets. But I think they are ignorant when it comes to animal behavior. They treat their dogs like little people, which they are not. They are dogs, and behave as such. People need to learn to speak dog, not the other way around. They will tell you a lot if you pay attention to their behavior and body language. But most people are too busy inside their warm houses, with their hot coffee, and morning news to even know most of the time what their dogs are doing.

Obviously, I have some patience and tolerance issues to work through. :-)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It took a scientist to tell me this?!

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Dogs appear to experience a range of complex, unpleasant emotions such as jealousy and pride, scientists have discovered. Really?!

Dogs hate their owner showing affection to other dogs. How Shocking!

Until now, this type of behavior had only been shown in humans or chimpanzees, but researchers suspected that other species that live together could be sensitive to fair play -- or a lack of one. Are they kidding, they had to study that?!

"We are learning that dogs, horses, and perhaps many other species are far more emotionally complex than we ever realized," Paul Morris, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth who studies animal emotions, told The Sunday Times. No shit Sherlock!

"They can suffer simple forms of many emotions we once thought only primates could experience." I really hadn't noticed this behavior before...Duh!

How annoying that there was a scientific study that showed what any animal owner knows or ought to know! The British government must have had left over grant money, no where to spend it and decided to give it to the dud heads that performed this experiment!

Monday, December 8, 2008

drunk testing a suspected drunk for drinking...or something like that

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A contract worker for a Nevada sheriff's department is accused of driving drunk to a jail to test a suspect's blood alcohol content.

She said she had one margarita that night before driving to the jail. That might be true, but isn't ironic that someone who is drinking is charged with testing suspected drunks. Makes me chuckle. I don't know if she was telling the truth about how much she had or not, but I know in my drinking days, I did drive drunk, and I always lied about how much I had to drink. Stories like this remind me that I am really grateful I've found my sobriety.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The last seven days

I was looking at the NaNo website this morning and was struck by what Chris Baty said he was feeling since the end of November: weird. Maybe it's because he's been doing the month long project for so many years, that he gets a sense of loss when it's over. I know there are other terrific things that his organization "Letters of Light" does throughout the year that keep him busy, but in that month long gig, he digs in like the rest of us and cranks out words that eventually shape novels.

Weird was the not word that went through my head when the project was done. I didn't have a word, just an AAAAAAA! (a big sigh of relief and sense of accomplishment). I was really glad I participated, and really glad when the end of the month came around. It was a huge push! Scraping every second I could out of a day to get some words typed. It was actually quite grueling on some days. But I'll likely do it again. And now that I have some experience under my belt with the support of the group, I may give it another shot on my own. Maybe January.....? The great thing about January is there are 31 days...one whole extra 24 hours!

But the last seven days have been like a vacation. I get up go to a meeting, come home, walk Callie, get ready for work, go to work (I know...but I really like my job), come home, play with Callie for as long as I want, go to bed and read some mindless drivel before I doze off. Both of my days off, Callie and I hit Devil's Canyon. Absolute Blast! I've also been sleeping really well the last seven days! Sheer exhaustion? Maybe. Proud of myself for having achieved something I've wanted to do for so many years? Most definitely. Do I care that it will likely never be edited and never see the light of day? Nope. What I know for sure now is that I can do it! And the project that has been eating at me for a really long time is possible. January may be the month to begin it!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Callie and I had a great hike yesterday

Callie and I have been out to Devil's Canyon twice this week and it's only Wednesday. I really like to take advantage of the cool weather. In the summer it gets simply to scorching to take a black puppy, and there is no water out there like this time of year.

I like Devil's Canyon for a lot of reasons. It is close to home. It is BLM land, so Callie can go off-leash. It sits at the base of the Colorado National Monument, so the views are breathtaking. It has over 20 miles of trails that are loops upon loops upon loops, and each trail has it's own incredible scenery. Since my November project is done, and I had a couple days off work on the heels of it, Callie and I spent the last couple of days exploring a couple of different loops. Yesterday, she had just a kick of a time because we found really muddy water!

Callie rock climbing again!

Callie getting a drink of water and making sure she gets good and filthy! She jumped right on me aftter I took this picture. She doesn't usually do that...smartass!

This is just a pretty view. If you blow up the picture you can see the monument road cut into the mountain.

Callie checking out the view! Pretty incredible!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Signs of Recession

Cheap food

You might have noticed more junk mail in your inbox as Internet scams are on the rise but Spam, the original canned meat product made famous by Monty Python and astronauts looking for something to complement their Tang, is expected to reap some serious profits this year.

According to the New York Times, it’s boom times at the Hormel Foods Corporation that manufactures the canned recession-proof meat. Factory workers are racking up overtime working seven days a week to keep up with demand.

Other comfort foods that offer comfort to a marketer’s budget are also up so many Americans may be looking to incorporate macaroni and cheese, Jell-O, and Kool-Aid into their Christmas dinners.

The thing that's interesting about this article is that Spam is not all that cheap. I work in a grocery store, and know that you can buy a large package of bologna that will last longer than Spam for about $1.50 less than a can of Spam. That is...at least in our market. I've noticed that people are stocking up on deals, and our store has been running some killers on canned goods. We've had weeks of 2 for $1.00 on various things. Ramen Noodles are still running about $.17 a package. That and some cheap frozen vegetables make a perfect, hearty meal (or in my case, two meals) and the vegetables if not overcooked can be vitamin packed. I have been leaning heavily on my employee discount by buying the store brand, and haven't hurt too much in this slow down.

I also think that the business I'm in is a pretty good place to be right now. People will need groceries, and they have begun to slow down eating out, so our business has actually been up. I was told the day after Thanksgiving would be slow at work, and for our particular store it was. The weekend came and we were swamped all day, yet again. People are spending money and stockpiling their pantries. I know I did when we started running bargains. I don't know how bad it will get before it gets better, but am told and seem to think we are at the bottom. How long we hang out here at the bottom is another issue.

If Callie and Abbie kept journals...

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
Noon - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.
They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards.
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.
The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. ................For now

Monday, December 1, 2008

Done! HA!

I have completed the NaNo month and am incredibly proud of myself! Also, I'm proud of the hundreds of thousands of other people who got to finish line. There is a high percentage of teenagers that do this process. Impressive, all of them.

Here is what I learned:

1,667 words a day is possible. The catch is I have to do it every day because once I get behind, it is an absolute bitch to catch up! (That's about three pages a day, and takes about an hour or so. Larry McMurtry writes five a day, but that's because it really is his full time job. I have a paycheck to paycheck job to pay the bills till I become incredibly famous...etc.)

Writing that fast keeps the editor and the censor at bay. There is no time to question what's being put on the page, and decide that it is too stupid to say. All of that that can be done later after the first draft is written, and most times, it is surprising that what I wrote is not so bad.

When writing that fast, Dialogue flows. This was always my biggest struggle. Halted, jerky conversations between characters. This didn't happen in this process.

I don't have to wait for the Muse to be present. I can drag her by the hair to my writing space with me. She may be pissy at first, but she gets with the program pretty quick.

It's not hard to pick up where I left off. And when I have a thought while I'm not working on the project, all I have to do is make a really quick note, and later it goes on the page, and it isn't hard to remember what I was thinking. I used to believe that if I didn't write it immediately, the brilliant idea would be lost forever...not so. Sometimes it was even more brilliant :-)

I also have to add, when doing a project like this, it is really important to keep a static schedule, especially if you have a dog. They are creatures of habit and routine. When I started shortening Callie's walks to sneak in a little more writing time before work...let me just put it gently...I paid the price...Seriously, the physical exercise part was critical for clearing my head and giving me the energy and stamina to spend more time writing in a short time than I think I've done in my entire life. So having a dog is actually a really good thing. Ask her, she'll tell ya!

I learned that this was a really great and fun process and there are so many people out there who really love writing, and supporting each other is essential to make it to the finish line. Fun deal...I think I'll do it again!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sometimes at night

Sometimes at night, as I am drifting off to sleep, I can feel his arm around me, the hair from his chest on my back. I used to like to rub his arm, feel the soft hair, play with his fingers. I felt safe there, and I slept better than I ever slept with anyone. There was much that I loved about him. His kindness, his gentleness, his interest in various things. There was much that annoyed me about him, but they were insignificant. I don't know if I had stayed sober if we could have worked out our differences, or if it would have come to a head in a different way. We got off to a bad start, I was already being slowly and methodically crippled by my disease, and he hadn't signed up for that. It was not his problem, nor his burden. I got well briefly, and things were pretty terrific for that short time. I had no idea how thin the ice was that I was walking on. When I fell, I fell hard, and I couldn't get back up. I couldn't pull myself out of the abyss. I've never been in such a dark, hopeless, empty place. Everything that I tried to do to save myself failed. The help sent to me, I rejected wholly. The bargains I made with myself, the illusion I created around me that it wasn't that bad were simply that; stupid bargains and grand illusions. Even now, it's really hard to look at what I did. I put on a brave face, and march forward, brushing off the reality, putting blame where it doesn't belong. But, sometimes at night, when it is just me, I face it simply because it won't let me be. Sometimes at night, my emotions run the entire spectrum of grief. Sometimes at night, I react to those emotions and act stupid. But in the end, sometimes at night, I wonder; will this overwhelming feeling of devastating loss ever lose its power over me?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

NaNo month coming to a close

The National Novel Writing Month is coming to a close. Officially ending tomorrow, stress release parties to follow shortly after, I'm sure. It has been a good experience for me. It is not a very good story, but I pounded it out. I found places for writing that I never thought possible in my schedule, and I still had time for Callie and working out, working 40 hours a week through the holiday rush, and sleeping and eating right...and the house isn't too terribly dirty... :-)

My protagonist also helped me get through Step 4. It would make sense that my hero is a woman in recovery. It is simply what I know because I've lived with it on my sleeve for the past year and some months. I'm told that's common in the first couple of years. It is right out there in front, who you are now, as opposed to the hell you were before. Then, somewhere it becomes magically ingrained into a part of who you are always. Still the number one priority, but not living, sleeping and eating it. Anyway, I'm glad she showed up. She is a good character and a good person, and I like her. She has helped me view my character defects and learn to let go of them and of the past...there are so many things I wish had been different...but they are what they are and I can't change it. I wish I could forget it, but I can't do that either. It has pivoted me and made me look at life and men very differently. I look at a specific person and their agenda and I now have no room for anyone else in my life who has a total disregard for another human being that they say they love, but whose life is not important except to further their own selfish, blurred goals. I am all too happy to let go of that past, but still can't help wishing it had never happened. I guess that is the cross I bear.

I've gotten clear on people's motivation by watching others, and by reflecting and then by writing about it. The question was posed on the NaNo Website "what writing means to you?" It means everything to me. It is a safe place for me to go, and uncover, discover and discard any thoughts and beliefs that I may have that could be distorted. It also helps me tell the truth in ways I never can express verbally. It helps me see people for who they are, for what motivates them, for what drives them.

This has been a really good project, and I am very glad that there were many thousands of other NaNO's who suffered the grueling word count with me!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


It's Thanksgiving so all over America people are waking up and asking themselves what they are thankful for. At least I hope they are. This country is in the biggest mess I've seen in my lifetime, and I've seen some messes. I watched the IT bubble burst and take thousands of people in Denver with it. Of course, my thought was then that they needed to be prepared, I saw it coming years before. Sadly, I didn't see this coming, but I've been focused in my own little world of recovery, writing, and Callie.

Which makes me intensely thankful. I survived the hell of my drinking, and by all indication of my history, I shouldn't be here at all. Because I am, I am completely thankful to whatever it was that saved my life. I don't often sit and wallow in my gratitude, my life is simply far too busy for that. And for that I am also thankful. I have the capacity to be able to live a life that about two years ago, I never thought was possible or even cared about trying to attain. I am not rich, but it's not all about money for me anymore. It's about living a life I love.

We spend a lot of time in meetings talking about gratitude. I find myself wandering through my day, and pausing for a split second to say "thank you" to God, the Universe, my guardian angels (who I must have completely exhausted in my drinking craze) and then going on with my day. Life runs in a Good Orderly Direction most days and I am glad to be here to be a part of it and grateful I have the ability to really appreciate every single second.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I made the pictures I've taken over the last year my screen saver on my confuser. I was noticing that it was taking some of the pictures and projecting them in black and white, so I decided to see what I could do with my photo illustrator. I took a picture I had of Ozzie, this was about a month before he died, and played with it. It's not great, but I don't have a top of the line camera. But the black and white really brings out his grey muzzle. Boy I miss that dog! I just had to post this old picture of Callie because she's sooo CUTE!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


When I got sober, I immersed myself in my program and trying to stop the spinning of my out of control life. Slowly, very slowly, things stopped spinning and resumed a normal course. As a result, I have been able to immerse myself back into my passions, writing, reading, reading about writing, hiking and living a normal, simple, mundane life. I am becoming content with this life and am all too happy to continue forever on this path if it keeps me sober.

In my reading recently, the last two fiction books I've read have protagonists who are overcoming addiction, one alcohol, the other Oxycontin. In the first book it was clear to me that the author didn't understand addiction at all. This person may have interviewed addicts for the book, but didn't pay very good attention. The second book, the author nailed it. Either they understand addiction from a first person point of view, or payed very close attention when interviewing addicts.

The book I'm reading now is Eric Clapton's Autobiography. Here is a man who understands walking through the complete hell of addiction and living to walk out and tell about it. He nails for me the definition of my addiction. I just have to quote it here:

"I just assumed I was in some way immune to it and that I wouldn't get hooked. But addiction doesn't negotiate, and it gradually crept up on me, like a fog...It was so insidious, it took over my life without my really noticing." He goes on to describe how his loved one's attempts to help him were a complete failure until he was ready. Then, even though he was ready, it wasn't that simple. I remember the first time I got sober it was not simple. It took everything I had to move forward. When I relapsed, I thought I had beaten addiction and could "manage" it. Yes, I managed myself really well...right into homelessness, bankruptcy and complete and total humiliation.

Now I understand the power of addiction, and I love reading about other addicts who are recovering. Our stories are so similar. It is, however, their journey, and I am grateful that they are willing to share it so openly. And the thing that continues to amaze me is that even though we are different people, addiction is the same for all of us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I was given a very special gift

Construction on Trail Ridge Road began in September, 1929 and was completed to Fall River Pass July, 1932. Trail Ridge was built to counter deficiencies of Fall River Road. The Fall River route was too narrow for the increasing numbers of vehicles. Frequent snowslides, deep snow, and limited scenic views also plagued the route.The maximum grade on Trail Ridge does not exceed 7%. Eight miles of the road are above 11,000 feet in elevation. Two different contractors were hired to complete different sections of the road. The first section completed, 17.2 miles, was Deer Ridge (8,937') to Fall River Pass (11,794). The road reached Grand Lake in 1938.

This is important because it shows a little of the story of my Grandma Lowe. During the depression the Kenner's (Grandma's maiden name, and Dad's middle name) lost their home in Boulder. They moved to Estes Park and my great-grandpa worked with the WPA building the highway between Boulder and Estes Park. Trail Ridge Road construction began before they arrived in Estes Park and was completed while they were there and Grandpa was working on the highway project. Grandma was in high school and got a job working at the visitors center at the top of Trail Ridge Road. We call it "the top of Trail Ridge". The visitors center sits at the top of Fall River Pass (11,794). She worked up there for three summers as I remember her telling. One of the attractions at the visitors center was the Indians who made incredible jewelry.

Grandma has some supremely beautiful pieces that she has worn through the years. She recently gave Mom a silver bracelet that is engraved from the Indian gentleman who made it "with love". She gave Mom a bracelet to give to me that has a singular turquoise stone in the middle. The engraving is intricate and fine, the silver thick and sturdy, not like the silver I've bought in Mexico on my visits there. I am grateful that Grandma felt confident enough in me to share such a beautiful piece of jewelry and some of her history with me. I am truly touched.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Aurora Pit Bull ban going to court

Florence Vianzon Sasek hopes she can take Isis outside for a walk through her Aurora neighborhood again without strapping a pink leather muzzle over the dog's mouth.

Isis, a 5-year-old American Staffordshire terrier mix, can't ride in the car without being enclosed in a locked crate and is not allowed to roam her backyard without supervision.

Today, Vianzon Sasek's lawsuit challenging the city of Aurora's pit-bull ban goes to trial in U.S. District Court in Denver before Chief Judge Wiley Y. Daniel.

The case was filed on her behalf by the American Canine Foundation, a Washington state-based group focused on protecting the rights of dog owners and promoting responsible dog ownership.
Vianzon Sasek's lawsuit says that Aurora's ban on the breeds is unconstitutional, that the ordinance is vague and that the law was passed unnecessarily.

In February 2006, the Aurora ban went into effect, targeting several breeds that are considered pit bulls or dogs that have the physical characteristics of pit bulls.

Vianzon Sasek owned Isis before the ban and is allowed to keep her dog if she complies with certain rules, such as erecting a 6-foot fence around her property and paying $200 a year in licensing fees.

Aurora's restricted-breed ordinance already has been challenged in state court and was upheld, said Aurora's City Attorney Charlie Richardson.

A similar legal challenge to Denver's pit-bull ban is pending before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judges in Utah, New Mexico, Washington, Arkansas and most recently, Ohio, also have upheld pit-bull ordinances.

"I am very hesitant to comment on the merits of the ban on the eve of a federal trial," Richardson said. "However, we will, of course, provide evidence to the court that our restricted-breed ordinance was and is lawful."

Aurora passed the ban shortly after the city and county of Denver adopted their own ordinance after a series of attacks involving pit bulls.

The American Canine Foundation reviewed incident reports from Aurora in 2003 to 2005 that showed almost 2 percent of injuries from canines were attributed to dogs that were classified as pit bulls. The other 98 percent involved breeds ranging from Jack Russell terriers to a St. Bernard.

City statistics show that in 2006, there were eight restricted-breed attacks on humans, compared with 123 attacks by other dogs on humans.

Last year, there were 11 attacks by restricted breeds on humans and 150 attacks by other dogs.
Glen Bui, a co-founder of the foundation, believes the city should focus on behaviors of individual dogs rather than an entire breed. He also said that owners like Vianzon Sasek, who are most likely to comply with the ordinance, are not the problem.

"The law does nothing to target illegal activity like dog fighting," Bui said. "Because (some owners) are criminals, they are not going to follow a breed-specific law."

Vianzon Sasek says she didn't want to move out of Aurora because her son is attending a charter school that was tough to get into. She also didn't want to give up her beloved Isis and decided to do all she could to comply with the ordinance while she fights it.

"It's an emotional thing," Vianzon Sasek said, while petting Isis in her living room last week. "Who wants to touch a dog with a muzzle on?"

Here is the comment I posted on the Denver Post web site: I can't believe that the government has ever thought that breed specific legislation was going to work. Glen Bui is right, some owners are criminals, why would they be interested in following any law, much less one that bans their breeds that they use for despicable criminal behavior? Pits are incredible quality dogs, but they are only for good quality owners such as Vianzon Sasek. They are smart, they excel at almost any task they are given, and they have been given a seriously bad rap because they have been used for illegal activities so many years. When are people going to get that we humans are the problem with most pets, and passing more laws will not fix stupid human behavior. Sadly, we can't euthanize stupid humans who have no conscience, morals or values, therefore we often take very innocent lives that cannot defend themselves.

Callie very likely has some American Stafford Shire Terrier in her. She has the ears, the tail, the muscle bound build. Would I have gone out and deliberately picked a Pit Bull as my pet? No. I didn't know enough about them, and I have been leery of them as well. There is one in my neighborhood that I avoid, not because he has ever shown any aggression whatsoever; however, I have seen how his owner treats him, and don't want to be around him when his owner isn't there, or even when his owner is there. I also know that our local humane society routinely adopts out Pits, and have been told they make incredible pets by the owners who have adopted them. And I am lucky enough to now be experiencing that for myself. Spaying and neutering is critical for many reasons, not the least of which is stopping the spread of over population (we should do that with many humans as well), but owners have told me that they believe it essential to tame any kind of aggression in any dog who has hormones raging through their bodies. Sadly, Pit Bulls are a target, and it violently unfair. Thank God for the individuals who have gotten involved in rehabilitating Michael Vick's dogs. I hope it works to change some perceptions. I have forever believed it is never the dog, it is always the owner. Most others who have commented on the article have agreed with me. Sadly, if I ever wanted to move back to Denver, I can't simply because I have Callie, and their law has been upheld, and I won't leave my dog. As a responsible owner, it is my job to care for her, exercise her, manage her behavior, and always remember that above anything else, she is a dog, and as with any dog, she has the ability to attack for whatever reason, but it is extremely rare that an attack comes out of absolutely nowhere.

On a side note: I was reading about Michael Vick saying that he intends to sign with an NFL team upon release from prison. It will be a very sad day if an NFL team even considers him after what he did. Two years in prison was simply not enough. The fact that he thinks he has the possibility of playing ball again shows me how little conscience he has and that he very likely believes he did nothing wrong. That makes my skin crawl. The pictures I have seen of the dogs are very sweet, and they are lucky. The people working with them understand dogs, dog behavior and know how to meet them where they are. I am impressed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Moving onward

So today we begin week three on our writing project at NaNo. I have had pep talks provided to me, interaction with other writers participating in the process, and I am assured that the hard part is over. That the story will start flowing again, and my plot will begin to make sense. Here's the scary part for me. So far it hasn't been all that hard...it's been challenging, but not the quagmire I thought initially when I started week two. I had a few hours of "oh, shit," but not close to "death of a story" by any means. I kept slogging, and it kept coming one miserable word at a time...but not as miserable as I was led to believe it could be. It's not a great story, but the hardest part has been carving out the time to get the word count done. When I actually sit down and write, the writing seems to happen. So this is the new question: Should I be scared now? I'm beginning to think so. NaNo's ten years of experience has been that the second week is the toughest for writers. I'm guessing that because I haven't hit major roadblocks yet, they are waiting for me around the corner. So I am requesting that the NaNo universe keep an eye on me for this third week and grant me more writing material than I will know what to do with. Please...

Friday, November 14, 2008

To close for comfort

GRAND JUNCTION — The man who robbed a Grand Junction bank in October 2007 is now in custody, after diligent police work tied him to several area robberies.
46-year-old James Jones is currently being held in an Orem, UT jail after he was arrested on a Grand Junction warrant Thursday night. He is currently facing aggravated robbery charges for robbing the 1st National Bank of the Rockies on Horizon Drive on October 4, 2007, Johnny’s Liquors on Patterson Rd. on November 6, 2007, the North Ave. Wal-Mart on January 8, 2008, and Blockbuster Video on January 15, 2008.
Here’s how Grand Junction Police detectives pieced together the information:Earlier this year we received a tip from a person who saw the surveillance video we released to the media from the Johnny’s Liquor robbery. That person recognized the robber as James Jones, the same person involved in the violent shoplifting incident at Wal-Mart. GJPD Investigators then provided a photo lineup to the Blockbuster employees, who also positively identified James Jones as the robber.
An arrest warrant was issued, and Jones was arrested in the Salt Lake, UT area. He was later released on bond, while he awaited trial.As the investigation progressed, detectives obtained a court order to take a DNA sample from Jones. That sample, along with evidence collected after the bank robbery, was submitted to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for testing. Last week we received those test results that showed the DNA profile from the bank matched James Jones. Jones was arrested in Orem, UT on Thursday.
This guy often came into the other store where I worked. He seemed friendly. One time he came in injured. I asked him what happened, he said he was "injured at work". Glad he decided not to rob the store I worked at, that is a little to close for comfort. Most criminals you can pick out. They look and act like criminals, because all they ever do is commit petty things that show their ignorance. It seems the more volatile and higher stake the crime, the harder they work to hide in plain sight.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Utter Exhaustion

I have done it...not completely...but, I am caught up on my word count for my writing challenge. I wish I could say that I've bought myself some breathing space by getting ahead a little bit. I havent'. But as I've noticed, I have an incredible ability to procrastinate. I've posted more on my blog, and done more Internet surfing than I think I've done in my entire life. However, I somehow did get my word count up. I hope to stay caught up, and praying for the end of the month so I can get some sleep!

So far it has all been a good experience. I think a strict deadline like what we have from NaNo writing Gods is important. It at least keeps me focused on task and marching forward one pain in the ass word at a time. The really great part about it is that I'm actually coming out with a story. It's a REALLY bad story, but it's a story. I'm learning more about plot, dialogue, story arc, and method in this amazingly short time frame. I have been writing for years (well...really whining into my journal - especially when drinking), spending a fortune on writing books about method, dialogue and character development. But I have never really fleshed out a story. As I said before, I have started hundreds and my inner critic always stops me dead in my tracks. With this 30-day deadline, my inner critic has no time to chime in...actually he does, but my deadline editor smashes him over the head with a sledgehammer and we keep rolling. I know the real work comes after the first draft. That is when the critic's voice is important and the revision princess needs to put in her nickel. But the purpose of this one month and this group is to get it written. Get the draft out our heads and onto the page. I can really see why this has been an ongoing success for the past ten years. It works. Power in numbers and power in peer pressure.

Exhaustion aside, I believe that when I cross the finish line I will have one more tool in my toolbox that I can hold up and be proud of. I finished a manuscript. I think that will be as good of a feeling to me as my one year birthday in AA...maybe not! But close.

On another note, I am going to owe Callie something really seriously neat. She has been incredible so far. She has tolerated shortening walks so I can sneak some writing time before work, less fetch and my just plain ignoring her at times as I'm writing. Sometimes I look over and she has every single toy out of her toy box and is laying in the middle of them trying to figure out which one she is more interested in. She has really wanted Abbie to play with her, but Abbie, the crank, wants none of that (it may cut into her eating time). I'm glad my little girl is a good girl. We have gone to Devil's Canyon twice since I've started this, but I think something really big is in order for December. Maybe the Mesa. We'll see. She hasn't experienced snow yet, she may really decide she likes it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Callie, then and now

Callie then: Trusting, playful, curious, nosy, will do anything for a treat.

Callie now: Suspicious, rough and tumble, nose in absolutely everything, especially my dinner, won't do anything unless she knows there is a treat in my hand.

My girl has hit her teens...and I'm paying the price.

Really, she is still an absolute joy. She has gotten really good on the leash, has quit trying to jump on people walking by, comes when called (most of the time), and is my favorite little hiking buddy.

John Kerry eyed for Secretary of State

This is good thinking on President-elect Obama's part. In case he needs to stand tough on an issue involving the American People, and then turn around and decide against that tough issue, he has the ultimate expert flip-flopper to show him the ropes.

I worked for now Congressman Perlmutter when he was the Colorado co-chair for the Kerry committee in 2004. Senator Kerry's ability to make his stance on tough issues perfectly vague to the American people was mind boggling. There was no winning that election, and in the end the democrats blamed it on the inability to defeat a standing President during war time. Sure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day and I was thinking about my Grandparents

As I mentioned in earlier posts Grandpa Lowe died last month and was interred at Fort Logan. As I Understand it, he served in the Navy in World War II and was stationed in Washington, D.C., that's where my Dad was born. My Grandpa Warner was an officer in the Army and stationed in Europe. I was always closest to Grandpa Warner, he was always my favorite guy, I like to think I am like him. We'd get up in the morning and he'd let me have about a tablespoon of coffee with my cup of milk. We'd often sit in the sun room of my grandparents house and our visits as I remember them were always peaceful and serene.

I always knew that he had been a prisoner of war in World War II, I don't know how, I'm sure I heard it when I was very young, but he never talked about it. For most of my life I have believed that he didn't talk about it because it was too painful. Maybe it was. But a couple of months ago, my mom told me that actually when the war was over and everyone came home, they were interrogated, debriefed and ordered not to discuss their experience during the war. I remember grandpa talking to dad a couple of times about it much later in life, and during the holidays he always said, "In December 1944, I was a guest of the Germans for Christmas and my meal was bread and tea," and then he'd chuckle. I know he saw some incredibly awful things, and may have been subjected to some while a "guest of the Germans", but he never said much other than discussing a death march they were scheduled to take, but knew the allies were coming and somehow were able to put it off and were liberated shortly after. My facts are sketchy and very possibly not entirely accurate. I do know he was captured at the Battle of the Bulge, he spent three months in a POW camp in Berlin, he came home after the war and was awarded a Purple Heart for a wound to his hand.

So I checked out the facts of the Battle of the Bulge and below is what I found:

The coldest, snowiest weather “in memory” in the Ardennes Forest on the German/Belgium border.
Over a million men, 500,000 Germans, 600,000 Americans (more than fought at Gettysburg) and 55,000 British.
3 German armies, 10 corps, the equivalent of 29 divisions.
3 American armies, 6 corps, the equivalent of 31 divisions.
The equivalent of 3 British divisions as well as contingents of Belgian, Canadian and French troops.
100,000 German casualties, killed, wounded or captured.
81,000 American casualties, including 23,554 captured and 19,000 killed.
1,400 British casualties.
800 tanks lost on each side, 1,000 German aircraft.
The Malmedy Massacre, where 86 American soldiers were murdered, was the worst atrocity committed against American troops during the course of the war in Europe.
My division, the 106th Infantry Division, average age of 22 years, suffered 564 killed in action, 1,246 wounded and 7,001 missing in action at the end of the offensive. Most of these casualties occurred within the first three days of battle, when two of the division’s three regiments was forced to surrender (John Kline).

Our American Soldiers were hailed as hero's after this war, Korea and Vietnam were very different stories, as is Iraq and Afghanistan. We did not start World War II, but we finished it with the help of our world allies. We likely shouldn't have gone to Korea or Vietnam, but we did. We didn't start the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, though many think otherwise. Sadly, I don't believe the war we are in now is giving our soldiers the credit they deserve as hero's. I don't believe they are hailed with the accolades that are much deserved. It is a shame. And I think that Americans don't want to be where we are now. I know I don't, but I am also clear that the terrorists will not stop coming. They are patient, cunning and methodical, and will wait for the right opportunity. It has been reported that 9/11 was seven years in the planning and execution. The sad fact is, had we approached World War II differently, we may not have been able to stop Hitler either. World War II was a popular war because we had been attacked on our soil and we stopped it from ever happening again, or so we thought. Our enemy now has more stealth, and they won't stop just because we may decide to leave them alone with our new administration.

I thank all of the Veterans, living and dead for the freedom I enjoy to live the life I live and am grateful there are hero's everywhere around me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Right on Target

Week Two of the NaNoWriMo challenge has begun, and I am right (or write) on target. By the end of today, I am supposed to have completed 15,003 words. Currently I have 11,167, meaning I am 3,836 words behind (I had to count on my fingers, I'm really bad at math). So I am behind on my word count, but right on target mentally. Chris Baty (NaNo Guru and almighty writing wizard) promises that at the beginning of week two the plot and character Gods will abandon us. He is right (or write). Yesterday, right on time, I started plodding through the quicksand of my story and could literally feel myself fighting through the mire of story line and plot direction. It is amazing. How does the almighty Chris know this? He has subjected himself to the same torture for ten years! Not only has he done it to himself, he's talked many thousands of other people into doing the same thing, and they're excited about it!!! Including me. I got talked into it via his book "No Plot, No Problem" and his web site, and I am very excited about it. I am promised that the quicksand is not deep, and if I keep plodding through, I will come out the other side with something like a first draft of a novel. (November is the official contest month. I tried it in June by myself while all other NaNo's were on vacation and didn't get very far, so there is truth to the group dynamic, proven to me yet again).

The great thing about his talking thousands of others into participating in this self-imposed torture is that there are plenty of people to commiserate with. Not only do we do this willingly, we actually love it! Case in point. There is a regional group here that meets on Thursday's at Barnes & Noble. So I went out to see how many actually showed up. There are 35 on our regions list, which means that several are in outlying areas of the Grand Valley, and work schedules (like mine) can keep them from going every Thursday. But there they were, eight of 'em around a table in the coffee shop with their various sized laptops (from colossal screens, to itty bitty, like my Alphasmart) and one lady actually doing her writing by hand (I hope she has a giganto supply of Aspercreme)...more power to her...at least she's doing it! They were working away, encouraging each other, helping each other and getting the work done. No doubt in my mind, there simply is power in numbers! I can't meet with them this Thursday as I work, but I can touch base online and that in itself keeps me going.

The more I do this, the harder it is, the more I know others are subjecting themselves to the same thing, the more encouraged I am that I can actually start a story and complete it. And that's my biggest challenge. I have started hundreds of stories, novels, epics, Pulitzer contenders :-), and never got them done. This is where I lean on the power of the group. Same as in my sobriety. The power of the group helped me up and holds me up. It is really exciting, fun and great to give myself this new challenge!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Car impounded after Dog Drives Away from Car Wash

PRYOR, Okla. — A dog waiting in a car while at a car wash slipped the vehicle into gear and drove in a loop before the car came to a stop. Pryor police officer Brent Crittenden said the dog's owner was washing the vehicle when the 70-pound pit bull jumped on the dash and somehow shifted the car into reverse.

The car backed out of the car wash bay, continued onto a highway and then looped around before coming to a stop at an automated car wash lane.

Crittenden said the vehicle was impounded because its owner was unable to provide proof of insurance.

Because the dog was registered with the city, Crittenden said the owner was allowed to walk the pooch home.

I'm thinking the dog just didn't like the car wash lane his owner picked. My aunt and uncle live in Pryor, OK. It's a cute little town northeast of Tulsa. I wonder how many other dogs have been driving around this little town much to their owners chagrin.

Elk droppings in Evergreen may have made children sick

Elk droppings in the Evergreen area contain the same strain of E. coli bacteria that sickened eight children in three mountain counties, state health officials reported today.

Lab testing confirmed a genetic match between the bacteria. Health officials suspected elk droppings as a potential source of the exposure. It's not known how the elk were infected.

Elk droppings can be found virtually everywhere around Evergreen, including near homes and schools. For that reason, health officials issued warnings to students to not eat on athletic fields and to wash their hands after being outside.

Yes, parents need to tell their kids that those piles of brown things laying in fields in and around Evergreen aren't Raisinets.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Progress Report

My word count to date on the NaNoWriMo contest is 9,772 words. The target by the end of the day is to have 11,669, so I'm only behind 1,879 words. I think that's pretty good considering where I was a couple of days ago. The book will not likely win a Pulitzer, nor probably ever see the light of day. Here's what I'm proud of: I'm working on it diligently. I am learning a lot about my writing voice and my point of view. I'm getting better at dialogue, and I'm hanging with it. It is not my best writing by a long shot, but it certainly is not my worst, thank heavens!

Nothing good ever came from the bottom of a bottle

I hear that every day in meetings. A story of someone getting a case of the "fuck-its" and going out and drinking again. A friend in my group said it best: "I've never heard it being a success...someone going out. I've never heard the kids are okay, the jobs okay, the wife's okay...every thing's okay." Never for this alcoholic was anything okay from drinking. It got worse and magnified times ten. My ex said that I loved alcohol more than him or myself. That's not true. What is true is I chose alcohol over absolutely everything. I chose it over my relationship with him, my family, my friends, my pets, my jobs...absolutely everything. In the end I lost everything. Nothing good ever came from the bottom of a bottle.

Now through sobriety I am rebuilding. Some relationships did survive, some are thriving, others are new. My life is generally in order and manageable today because every single day I make a new choice. I choose sobriety above all else. Nothing good ever came from the bottom of a bottle. That was what I shared today. I made a choice every single day to drink. The problem with my alcoholic mind was I didn't think I had another choice. "God, I have to have a drink to stop shaking." "God, I have to have a drink to be functional." I never had just a drink. It was truly sad and it is still heartbreaking for me to think about what happened, but I do think about it, every single day. And every single day it reinforces for me that only through the universe looking out for me, and the choice I made to make a different choice, I am sober. The possibilities while drinking were few. The possibilities because I'm sober are infinite. That is my choice. The world I have created for myself in sobriety is a pretty safe world. There are many things that are out of my control. It is the things that are in my control that I now choose to focus on. Is my life perfect? Far from it. This is what is certain today: Because I am sober I have a life today, and I am truly grateful for everything I now get to do and every possibility of what I can be.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Dictionary - contrary to nature or reason; Absurd.

Synonyms - Absurd, bizarre, crazy, fanciful, fantastic, foolish, insane, nonsensical, unreal, wild, and my favorite farcical!

I don't know why, but I was looking at this word this morning and picturing Teddy Roosevelt running around the United States, with his cigar in one hand, spectacle, pointing his finger in the air and yelling "That's preposterous!" I must have seen something somewhere that this reminds me of it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Grand Junction High School Football Team - 1936

1930s EDUCATION - The entire town was enthused about the 1936 Grand Junction High School Tigers football team. They made widespread sports news as they played an entire season without being scored upon. The toughest game was in Salida. A special train carried fans to the meet which the Tigers won, breaking Salida’s winning streak of 39 games. The 1936 season total was Tigers 506 to 0 for their opponents. Rah Rah Tigers! (1937 Grand Junction High School Annual)

This is very cool. Thank you so much Suzy for finding it! This was from my posting a few days ago that talked about Grandpa Lowe's death. This is an exciting piece of history. Grandpa is number 18 in the picture. Other than less hair and more wrinkles he didn't change much through the years. He was interred at Fort Logan Last Friday. He served in the Navy during World War II, stationed in Washington D.C. Mom and Dad told me that the Navy branch is burying 26 soldiers itself at Fort Logan each day. We are losing our hero's fast, let's be grateful we had them!

And we're off

In June I tried the writing a book in a month project and failed. So I decided to wait until Novebmer when NaNoWriMo had their official contest. We began midnight on the 1st of November and will be writing 50,000 words by November 30th. I'm already behind. I should be at 5,001 words by the end of today, I just logged 1971 (Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo has logged 4,012 words before today begins...overachiever). I am giving myself some slack, I'm working, I have to walk Callie, and I have my ever important meetings...I do have a couple of days off this week, and am planning to use those as my makeup days. I've also had a couple of people put me on their buddy list. Nothing like the buddy system to gain encouragement. Finally, too, I think I have a better premise that I can actually follow through. And that's the goal...finish! Prove to myself that I can finish it. Whatever happens after that doesn't matter, I just want to show myself I can create an entire manuscript.

One of the things I find is I am have trouble sitting in the minutiae. You have to have a certain amount of detail, I know other writers do it really well, but I imagine it's tedious for them too. What I have to remember is that if I do the appropriate amount of detail it increases my word count!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Amazing how little I know

Studs Terkel, the ageless master of listening and speaking, a broadcaster, activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose best-selling oral histories celebrated the common people he liked to call the "non-celebrated," died Friday. He was 96.

I live such a sheltered little life...I thought Studs Terkel was a figment of Garrison Keillor's imagination. I just heard a skit on NPR yesterday with Garrison's character calling Studs Terkel. How funny.

I need to get to a big city more often and expose myself to people and culture.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I had a lady ask me yesterday if our store sold wine. I told her no, and she looked at me like, "what kind of redneck place is this?" I always think that. Last time I went to California to visit my aunt and uncle, wine is in every grocery store. At the time I was still enjoying a a glass or two rather than the bottle and a half of later years, and it was nice to be able to pick out a bottle of wine on a Sunday afternoon.

The blue laws in Colorado were lifted in July. That means that liquor stores can be open on Sunday and grocery stores are able to carry more than 3.2 beer. So far our grocery chain has not added more choices and I hope they don't. It's not that I'm worried about my drinking, my being tempted, my issues, because really I just don't focus on booze anymore for myself other than to attend my meetings and talk about alcohol related topics that help keep me sober. Frankly, I don't want us to carry it because I don't want the responsibility. There are a lot of active drunks out there and they frequently do what I did, come to the store drunk and try to buy more booze. I've had to kick people out for being publicly intoxicated on a couple of occasions (I had one guy tell me to call the cops because he thought he had a right to buy because he was walking...they gave him a ride home sans the beer), and I don't want to deal with it anymore than I have too right now. I think the store feels the same way. We are a grocery store, and yes, it would be nice to grab a bottle of wine to have with dinner without having to stop two places, but our problem is the career drunk. I'm not judging, I was one to the worst degree. I just don't want to deal with people like I was, although, I have to say, they reinforce my sobriety each and every day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Miss Callie's not so little anymore

Callie is going through another growth spurt. She was spayed a couple of weeks ago and has decided to muscle out. She's not getting any taller, but her muscles have seemed to ripple out. I swear I'm not giving her steroids! The Pit in her is starting to show a little more, but I think the lab features may win out. As you can see Abbie is thrilled to observe all of this...she's never to be found when Callie and I go out for a walk for the simple reason that Callie becomes a jumping bean while getting ready. When I come home with Callie in tow, Abbie gives me a look very similar to the picture and then skulks away.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What do you want?

It's a question I've heard posed a lot lately. Not to me. In books I've been reading, movies I've been watching, other people I've heard talking. It is not a question that I was ever asked by anyone. I'm not sure I could have answered it anyway. Fearing disapproval, withholding of love, abandonment, I would skirt the topic. If someone had ever asked me, had ever cared enough to ask me, I doubt I would have answered honestly. I'm not sure I knew. The result: unfulfilled desires and goals, unfulfilling relationships with men, drinking at the son-of-a-bitch for not caring about me. All because I never said what I wanted (Actually, I did once and was berated for it). I surrounded myself with people and especially men who were clear on their goals, their wants and sometimes tried to make them my own, and they didn't care about my wishes anyway. The result: unfulfilled desires and goals, unfulfilling relationships with men, drinking at the son-of-a-bitch for not caring about me. The truth, I didn't know what I wanted other than to be loved and accepted. The amount of money I spent on self-help books to "fix" me so I would be loved and accepted was astronomical.

Am I clear on what I want today? Very. I understand my goals, my desires, my wants more than I ever have in my life. I take responsibility for my past acts (this is not a blamefest, so I don't want to hear that it is). If someone were to ask me today what I wanted, I would be able to express it clearly, concisely and honestly without fear of losing love, being abandoned, or even being disliked. The truth is that I am comfortable enough with myself to be able to take care of myself in ways I never could before. Details of life sometimes perplex me, scare me and confuse me. But in the big picture I know what I want and am able to move through any day to day challenges for the end result. I don't sweat the small stuff. I may perspire a little, but I don't sweat it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


They always say time changes things,but you actually have to change them yourself.- Andy Warhol

I was thinking about this the other day. I can remember being locked in my victim mentality and drinking at my problems and blaming others and thinking things were never going to change, and, if that was the case, I really wanted to die. That's one of the things I don't understand about the drinking demon, if he kills you, how does he get more booze? (take the remark as ironic.)

Then things changed. Something bigger than me pulled me from the depths of despair, I still don't know what, and life changed pretty dramatically, and in reflection very quickly. As things continued to change, some for better, some for worse, I began to build momentum by simply moving forward and staying open to the possibilities in front of me because I had no other choice. Obviously, I wasn't successful in killing myself, I was embarrassed because I couldn't stop drinking, and my behavior under the influence was at best completely outrageous. Therefore, it was time to do something different. In the recesses of my mind, AA was growing as the possibility that has since become a recipe for living (the easiest recipe I've ever followed). It is my willingness to change and grow and consider other avenues that makes my life finally get better and become worth living. I have come to believe that AA not only helps us get sober through the support of like-minded individuals, but as a group, we can lift each other to a better place that helps us make the changes that we have to make to live complete, satisfying lives.

I have a friend in the group who says, tomorrow may not be better, but it will be different. I believe that what he says is true. I also believe that if I do the work, if I make the changes necessary within me, it does get better. I don't question it any longer.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Grandpa Lowe died today, October 26, 2008

I worked today and then went to Mom and Dads. We celebrated my aunts 65th birthday tonight, even though she won't technically be 65 until the 29th. That is another writing practice topic. I'll just say it was a fun event.

Dad told me that Grandpa died today about 5:00 p.m. I was still at work. The things I remember about Grandpa are his kindness and tenacity. He took me in as if I was one of his own blood-related grandchildren. He loved me and never abandoned me, even when I had abandoned myself. He worried about his family. He wanted everyone to be happy, healthy and in love. His last few years were very difficult for him physically, he developed Parkinson's Disease. It was extremely debilitating, yet his mind was sharp as a tack. It grew increasing frustrating to him that his thoughts were clear, yet he couldn't express them because his body wouldn't cooperate and he couldn't speak clearly. He lived a good, stable and well-managed life. Lessons I would do well to learn. A couple of years ago, Grandma Warner gave me an article from our local paper about his time on the Grand Junction High School Football team.

The article is called "The Zero Gang", and I can't find it on a search of the online Sentinel. The story is a terrific chronicle of the 1936 football season at Grand Junction High. The Tigers were undefeated, never tied and never scored on, racking 506 points and a Class A championship. No team has challenged that record to this day. Grandpa is quoted in the article. He didn't play high school football except his senior year when he went out "because I wanted to see what it was like." He said he picked a good year. They had a fantastic coach, a stellar team who believed they could do exactly what they did. "As a man believes so he will achieve".

I'll miss you Grandpa. I love you.

My family

It has been good to see my family. I have never met my second cousins, Azure and Iris. Azure is four, Iris is almost one. They are my favorite cousin Jefferson's kids. I had never met his wife either, but when their relationship started I heard all sorts of strange things, however, they seem to be content, and focused on raising the kids. I don't think Jefferson set out to have children, but Gail got pregnant and he decided it might be okay. I know it also helps that he's on the road with the Yamaha team several months out of the year. Everyone is looking good, having fun and living life.

One of the things that I always tried to do in my younger days was keep up with them, adventure wise. I don't do that anymore. They have money, chasing money only fed my drinking problem. They have each other, and I have recently decided to stay single. They haven't put themselves through the hell I put myself through, so they haven't had to rebuild a life from scratch. And oddly, the jealously I used to feel about their exciting lives isn't there. I'm happy for them, and it really is fun to hear their stories, but my life is pretty okay, I am okay with the direction I'm going. I go to meetings, I work, I write, I have Callie. It's a very quiet life, missing the high drama and insanity of my drinking days, and the respite is much needed. And I also know my life is subject to change. As I rebuild I'll be able to do more, go more places, have a life that I'm content with living because it is by my design. And I think contentment is what we're all after in the end. Life itself is a challenge, but with inner peace comes just a feeling of "this is okay the way it is", and there is something really neat around the corner if I keep my eyes open.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Selfishness, Self-centeredness!

"That we think is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They rise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so."

I've heard these sentences hundreds of times over the last year, and nodded my head in seeming acknowledgement...but sat in denial regarding several aspects of my own selfishness and self-centeredness. I've carried one specific and destructive denial for many months and kept it to myself or shrouded it in argument that, in the end, made absolutely no sense. My drinking, my behavior while drinking, my fear, my self-delusion hung on tight through pathetic self-righteousness. It would not shake loose because I wouldn't let it go. I had myself completely convinced of my position. I blamed, I railed, I threw temper tantrums when called on my shit by a non-alcoholic. So today, finally, tired of the blaming, tired of the self-pity, tired, of self-delusion, I took it to the meeting. I let other alcoholics help me through my character defects regarding this matter. And I digested their feedback. It cleared my head, helped me see myself through not so rose-colored glasses, and helped me finally understand those sentences above. My troubles have been of my own making. No one else had any part in the destruction I created, no one else was responsible for my insanity. That is a very hard pill to swallow, but I finally did it, and the relief is tremendous. I alone am responsible for my behavior, drunk or sober.

There is nothing but truth in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. As I related my struggle with this issue, they listened. Then they related their experience, strength and hope about a similar issue that they faced, and I listened. In my mind, there is no one who has the ability to tell the truth to an alcoholic except another alcoholic, simply because we have shared so many similar experiences. I am so grateful I have found this group and am willing to uncover, discover and discard, and am in a safe place to do so. It is a very simple program, but it is never easy to let go of my short-comings. I'm so grateful I keep going back, that I listen, and eventually I learn.