Archive for the ‘friends’ Category

dill pickles

Had a request for my dill pickles recipe. From a real foody like Jeff I am flattered. I’ve poured over old blog entries but only documented my variations on bread and butter pickles. Probably won’t do pickles this year with Sarah in St Louis and myself busy. I hope to primer the kitchen and dining room today instead. I also haven’t blogged for a while. Plan to get more on that a bit and still hope to bring the old blog public again. I found a bunch of links to spam sites on an old post so I need to go over the thing from bottom to top and put on a good edit and re-read and make sure there is nothing to damaging there. Next month. Things have at least settled down a bit where I get some down time. I’m getting lazy and responsive, frittering away any time I don’t have constant demands.

For dills though do as follows: Bring to a boil 8 1/2 cups water, 2 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup canning salt. Put the equivalent of 7 quarts of jars mouth down in an inch of water and bring to a boil. Boil your your lids and rings in a separate pan. Boil all of them for at least 5 minutes. Stuff your jaw with cut up cukes, 2-4 garlic bulbs depending on size and a sprig of fresh dill (cosmos  leaves work as an adequate substitute) and cherry leaves, asian basil and grape leaves are acceptable variants. Garlic and dill is the old school way. Stuff as much cukes as you can to make your brine last. Pour the brine up to 1/2 an inch of the lid. Put on hot lids and rings and sit on the counter top down for a day. Let them sit a month before eating to get up to flavor perhaps 6 weeks. Crisp pickles come in two ways. Pickle them the day or the day after they are picked or you can lime them. If you buy a pack of pickling lime directions are on the container. It changes the flavor a bit but even elderly cukes come out nice and crisp. Fresh is best.

Categories: cooking, diy, friends

Election Day

Well at long last it is finally here.  I woke up early like I needed to for the plan. I was groggy, sleep has been hard to come by and last night was no exception. Up late doing stuff, mind turning, fitful sleep. I made coffee and grabbed my stainless steel water bottle out of the car pleased with my forethought for remembering where it was in the car and remembering to grab it, not going to have time to drink it at home got to get rolling to glad hand after at the polling place after voting. It wasn’t until the bottle heated up and I dropped it spilling hot coffee all over my hand that I remembered I don’t drink coffee in the stainless steel water bottle but in the stainless steel coffee cup. No harm no fowl. Good coffee though, a light roast Rwandan I roasted yesterday, quite yummy. Almost a nutty flavor.

I got my shower, shave and dressed as fancy I get, pretty much, my nice shirt, my first silk tie I bought new, perhaps all the way back in the 80s. It was late 80s so not totally narrow but narrow on the top and flared out at the bottom, not like they make ties now but passable.

I’d gotten vetoed on taking Fido to campaign with me. Last year, regular readers may recall I took Fido to the polls. It was the day after Dad had died and we were coming back from the dog park. We’d opened up our hearts to some sweet old ladies (sisters I recall) and we had all talked about losing our Dads. At the polling place I saw Henry from across the street (he’s working another polling place this year) and he offered his condolences and me and all the poll workers all talked about losing our dads. I never felt more part of a community then to walk out of my house and find solace in the comfort of my neighbors.

I’m very emotional today, crying as I write this. The campaign has been a wonderful distraction as the one year anniversary approaches but I am melting down today, just a bit. Its normal politically astute folks have told me. Excuse me while I go find a tissue.

That’s better. Breathe in Breathe out. So I walked down to the polls, sans Fido. A neighbor I had spoken to at length yesterday (for the third time, I had won her vote, Bill Pauls came by and stole it, I spoke at length to her husband trying to get a yard sign placement when he told me about Bill, but won her back yesterday on the final pass). She pushed the edge of talking about the campaign in the sacred neutrality of the polling place. I told her I called it a “personal project” when I talked about the campaign at work.

I did the same thing at City Council meeting when I spoke up for some neighbors who wanted a zoning change delayed to gather more neighbors. I publicly commented in favor of the tabling at one of their all’s request and talked about how I had canvassed the neighborhood for a “personal project”. As I was leaving I was set upon by some J-school students for an interview and none of them knew I was a candidate and had a fair shot at being on the Council next meeting. It was funny. (tabling passed 5-1, only dissenter was our current rep who I think is bent because I’ve been campaigning against his comment that the Ward was “apathetic”. He also isn’t trying to develop a cordial working relationship with me as the rest of the council appears to be. I also obliquely referenced that in my comments which probably didn’t help.)

The woman I worked so hard to capture her vote voted absentee yesterday (that’s at least 3 of those plus my own so I’m getting at least 4 votes). Another neighbor was there, I had gone by her house a couple of times but she never answered the door. She’s super-religious and felt she was voting for Pauls, I would have if I was her in spite of a personal connection which she made an oblique reference to herself, so perhaps I did win her vote. I’ve done a good turn or two for the community and there will be some folks who don’t normally vote showing up today.

Seeing yourself on the ballot is pretty cool. These things are close so I chose myself. I got my sticker and put my ballot in the ballot machine.

I went outside and stepped past the “no electioneering past this point” sign and should have slipped on my “Michael Trapp for Ward 2 City Council” badge and started thanking people for coming out but just couldn’t do it. As I told my advisers in an email “I’m not really a friendly and outgoing person. I just learned to act like one and I can’t do it this morning”. The church is my neighbor and they have a sign saying “no trespassing except for church business”. I respect that. The counter-argument is that by providing access to the polls that extends to electioneering on site but it was all to ambiguous, it was early, I felt weird and I am tired, not just tired but weary to the bone.

So I walked home took off my tie and dress shirt and wrote this blog. I am going to make a second pot of coffee and put some time in the garden, perhaps nap if my racing mind allows, and probably take the dog for a walk. I’ve earned a little R&R. Hell I’m going to put shorts on. I closed my email with “If I lose by 3 votes I will feel silly and self-indulgent”. True dat. If I get a chance to do this again I will take a friend with me to buck me up.


short post long weekend

Its the weekend before the election. I got my second wind or something like it. Instead of sleeping poorly and being tired I am sleeping poorly and hyper-alert. We had our canvass pick ups so I got up early and cleaned house. Waking bolt up came in handy but after a long day of door knocking on a hot and sunny day I got home a little before 8:00 fighting off a headache, bone tired, and mind racing. Its pushing 2:00 am and not much has changed. I took a tramadol which knocked it back for a bit but left me feeling a little funny. I may try a couple more after this post.

It was a good day on the doors. Had a rough one early on. A guy who was going to vote for me didn’t like the quote in the Trib where I said “white people are responsible for ending racism”. He said he was tired of whites trying to appease blacks and went on in that vein for a while, he was in the army and worked in a prison. I talked about the difference between prejudice which is a two way street and racism which takes power. I thanked him for being straight up and talking about how he feels. It was kind of sad, kind of weird. A block or two later I run across a strident anti-EEZ guy going over there talking points, long on hyperbole, short on facts. It was starting to look like having public positions on the issues wasn’t as fun as being a political unknown on a listening tour.

After that though things settled down to positive interactions and some enthusiastic support. A little to much sun though. Had dinner with Julie and Sarah. Sarah came into town to canvass. We are going out together tomorrow. Should be fun.

Categories: friends, politics

winter float trip

February 18, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m waiting for a friend to come over and then we’re going to go see a roots rock show at the Blue Fugue. I’m impressed with myself for still going out even though I’ve had a long day. Pretty much took a day off the campaign trail, though I still slogged through an hour and a half of sorely needed follow up calls and dealt with some electronic correspondence. Most of the day I spent out on the Big Muddy with Trevor, Eric and Andy. We drove out last night and stayed at the the East Wind(or something like that)  motel in Glasgow. Very quirky, divey kind of place but the owner was really sweet and hilarious. Gave us chocolates and walked us to our rooms to show us how satellite tv worked. It was a nice start to the trip after allowing myself to get a little frustrated with the little delays and driving back and forth across town that group floats always seem to inspire. Just tired.

We had a really great time on the river. My friend Trevor beat me to blogging about the day. He includes pictures. We shuttled our vehicles and Andy and I waited with the canoes on Stump Island. We hiked around and I read the interpretive sign. Lewis and Clark took a rest day there. Wind was out of the Northwest like today but they were heading up river (a much less chanellized and slower river, I might add) and we’re heading down of course (we do float trips here in Missouri, in Michigan we call them canoe trips). They’d had 2 days of rain so they dried their shit and played the fiddle and had a good old time. They all journaled, a great activity.

Julie just called, she is running late. I said I would add more detail. Trevor and Eric finally made it back and we were ready to embark. They had stopped to pick up breakfast burritos at the Glasgow bakery so well worth the wait. Eric makes cold pressed coffee concentrate so we had caffeined up before leaving the hotel. A little hot breakfast was a bonus.

It was a beautiful day on the river for February. Brisk for sure, but that thins out the crowds. Only saw 2 fishing boats, no other canoes of course. Plus in the winter you can see through the woods and get a better feel for the country. The highlight though were the bald eagles. Must have seen 5 or 6 plus some hawks, ducks, and a flock of cardinals on the way out. It was really amazing. There’s a number of eagles nest south of Stump Island (named by Lewis and Clark because it was island with a lot of stumps. Now its no longer an island and pretty much stump free.) so not a bad place to go and check out the big birds.

We had a pretty fun time, taking our time. We only did 14 miles and there’s a pretty good current. We stopped and tossed around the Frisbee and explored some sand bars. The currents are tricky in some places. The Big Muddy is fun to float because it is very easy until its not. Its wide with a channel and if you pay attention you can easily avoid hazards but there’s some bits can get tricky around sand bars and such.

It was a good environment with good company. We packed up with only a little less misadventure then loading the boats to come out but I was in much better spirits. I dozed some on the way home. Picked up Fido from Ashley, he was happy to see me. He’s been sleeping so I don’t know if he did at Ashley’s. First time we’ve been apart since Dad died. I missed him. I’ve become one of those people.

Ordered pizza as I’d thought we’d stop for dinner. Did my follow up calls. Got through a bunch and will do the same tomorrow and hope to be completely caught up by the end of the day. Eager to read my newspaper coverage. The Chamber of Commerce endorsed my opponent. I thought I got some good coverage though I came in last. Was on the front page though. Don’t forget to vote for me in the poll, I’ve fallen 2 votes back.

Tomorrow its back to door knocking. Olive, Fido’s buddy is coming over and I’m having breakfast with Amy and Michael. No Walking Dead this week, Harry has to work. He will DVR it and we’ll get a double feature next week. Well I should let the dog out before Julie gets here. Goodnight faithful reader, sleep tight.

Categories: coffee, dogs, friends, nature, politics

up early again

February 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Woke up about 3:00, forced myself to stay in bed until 5:00. Had a long and strange dream. I had gone back to Amsterdam but it seemed more like Austin. I was following up on some mystery from my last visit but it was more like a detective show then the actual mysteries I encountered in my eventful Amsterdam trip. There was political intrigue. I remember being in the situation where I knew I couldn’t remember most of what had happened in the last trip so people knew me but I didn’t know them. I remember someone taking my car. Eventually I encounter these business guys who did it and they think it is a pretty funny bit of hazing and I remember grabbing this heavyset bald guy in a suit and telling him that he just committed a felony and that if this shit doesn’t end right now I am having him prosecuted. I remember walking around with people I know through long tenement type apartment buildings and walking through people’s apartments and introducing ourselves. Flea markets with a big radio station promotion.

“Are you awake now?” I ask myself lying in bed allowing the details of the dream to come back in my mind. Dreams are cool and well worth cultivating. They’re just thoughts that we experience differently. The visual acuity, the sense of emotion, the heavy emotive content and lack of logic and social norms. The overall feeling (really the only thing that matters in dream interpretation) was one of discovery and adventure. A challenged sense of purpose that bounces back strong. Only a touch of confusion and that tempered by acceptance. I must be in a good place. Fido too, he slept in his own room last night.

Might take him for a walk even though I just did yesterday. I’ve got the time. All the house really needs is dishes done. Too rainy for laundry and it will force me to delve into my second tier dress clothes. All the walking and Marcus Aurelius is getting me more fit and trim. Wouldn’t mind growing down into some of my older dress shirts for example. My brown pants are fitting nice where I used to not be able to wear them with a shirt tucked in and they had fallen into the only to be worn in a pinch category.

Glad to have a tough week behind me at work. Closing or transferring all my cases has been grueling. A lot of details and good documentation essential for the hand off. Saying goodbye. “Mike, sorry I missed our appt. can I reschedule” “Well actually no you can’t, sorry I didn’t get to see you…good luck with the next guy”. I’m the only one who really meets people where they’re at all the time without exception. Some clients need that, everyone likes it. Everyone gets a step down in service.

The advantage of being a human being who talks to other human beings instead of the dis-empowering counselor to client relationship is they all care about me as a person too. Even though it sucks for them, none of them like people stepping out of their lives, they are happy for me and want me to be happy. They are proud to see me looking good and stepping into the spotlight. They know what I can do and can imagine that in the City Council. But its sad nonetheless.

I had a driver for my doors last night. Ann is a pilot and an interesting character who had some good tips and some things I hadn’t thought about. We hit the scattered houses in the precinct in the brand new neighborhood. All this generic America development. It was rainy and we saw the construction sites running with water mud pouring into the feeder creeks. In one site we saw the barrier material still in its rolls while the red mud pours into the creek. Everyone has a security system. The few people at home are content with the city. My picture and quotations are in that days paper and no one knows who I am.

Sarah is driving me today, might try her hand at door knocking. I am afraid its a little early for a surrogate. It definitely bombed when I tried having some help with signature gathering. If Sarah wants to do it we’ll give it a shot. Mostly she wants to hang out and be supportive which I appreciate. I got caught up on my follow up calls but it seemed late to be calling my assigned political contacts I need to reach out to. That’ll be today, Lord Willing and the creek don’t rise. Its supposed to be a rainy one. Need to figure out better plastic for my clipboard. Tried a comicbook bag cut in half which has the right size but was to flimsy.

The garage is flooded. I’ll need to get the subpump outflow extension back on track I suspect. Should have left well enough alone when I was messing in there. Dad usually had a reason for doing stuff. I miss him this morning. His wisdom, his unabashed self interest, which I always seem to run a little short on and causes me trouble.

Ordered beans yesterday. Will run short and probably have to pick up half a pound. Don’t even know if Z-Best is still at the market been roasting my own for so long. I’ll chat ’em up if they’re there. I hope the bread lady has some sliced. I ate the last of Jeff’s last night. I’d make myself some eggs but no bread. Eggs have been around awhile and will probably hard boil them. That or get the bacon out of the freezer. A pound of bacon is a big commitment for a household of one. (Sorry Fido no salt and nitrates for you buddy, I want you to live to be 20 so you’ll stay on dog cereal.)

Guess I’ll get my second cup of coffee, made it stronger today as this Guat is not that flavorful, hope the next is better. Got a Guat, Sumatran, Ethiopian and a Rwandan for the next round. Was going to treat myself to a pound of Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain, damn the expense but they’re both out of season.

wow, what a day

January 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I didn’t post yesterday. I hit a wall, stymied by trying to complete a campaign ethics report online and then navigating through establishing online banking for the campaign account. Ate up my day light and I didn’t get to talk to any voters. It was a stressful day at work, with a tight frenetic pace and no longer have the option to just work a little longer to wrap it all up. But if going the extra mile were easy it wouldn’t be a commandment and everyone would do it.

Today was a good day. I went to bed early last night not even finishing my absinthe, served classically. Thanks John for the absinthe spoon, a rarely used but much appreciated kitchen gadget. If you don’t know you serve absinthe by pouring the shot over a sugar cube which rests on a slotted spoon that has a little bump to go over the edge of the glass. It clouds the water in a particular way and hard on the liver I hear so I drink sparingly. Last night I had the barest sip before deciding to hit the hay and let the glass sit on the counter. Left the house smelling like licorice and I finished it tonight after canvassing.

Woke at 4:00 and felt pretty good but lay in bed and pretended to sleep until 6:30. I got dressed, business casual, that’s probably reason enough for my work to be proud I’m running, finally dressing like your supposed to. Creates a hurdle to engage with folks who are more ghetto for lack of a better word. Poor people make assumptions about people in ties, usually correct ones. Now people are surprised when I talk about my sister who is addicted to crack (3 years clean though, so no shame there, nothing wrong with being an addict just doing drugs. some of the best people I know are addicts.) They used to take it as a given, I was more like them.

April 4th I go back to being me.

Today I put on slacks (long johns underneath for canvassing), dress shoes, dress shirt and cardigan. Debated the tie and realized it was Saturday. I made the call as all the city staffers and managers were dressed in their business casual/fancy casual except the deputy manager of a department who was filling in for his boss. He had a suit cuz he didn’t know. The Ward 6 candidate was in a tie, he didn’t know either. I sat next to him and we related as candidates.

His opposition is closer to me politically. It was nice meeting her and getting her perspective. I also introduced myself to the conservative council person who came even though he’s not up for re-election this year. He told a funny story about goofy constituent calls where someone complained about the parking enforcement double parking while they wrote him a parking ticket. The councilman brought up the beer trucks that block the street willy nilly servicing the bars downtown. “Well I like beer trucks”.

I heard presentations on city government by the city manager, and all the department heads and the municipal court judge. It was really informative and I am largely impressed with how the city is run. Columbia is the best governed place I’ve ever lived (with apologies to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place Monroe, Michigan; Berkeley, California, and Toledo, Ohio. Honorable mention to Rossford, Ohio because I didn’t know enough to follow local politics in my 19-20 years).

I learned that at our current funding for street repair we will repave the streets every 57 years. Streets last 30 years. We also have big pension underfunding issues, a storm water situation that is not getting the resources it needs and revenue is flat to down. We’re going to have to be really smart with what we do with our little dollars.

I was most impressed with the city manager who is personable, smart and a good leader. Seems like he is taking the city in a good direction. I am also impressed that we have maintained good reserves which has cushioned us through the tough times except for transit which is going to need some additional revenue or major cuts to services.

Neither of my opponents showed up. In a way it was cool, allowed me to relax and be treated as the heir apparent. I also learned one of my opponents had voted against GetAboutColumbia a $4.3 million (this year) Federal grant for non-motorized transportation as a Parks and Rec Commission guy because some people don’t like it. Its controversial, blow back by motorists who feels bicyclists are getting uppity or something but damn, that’s got to be a majority issue, even if you hate trails that’s a lot of jobs to be against.

I got interviewed so imagine I’ll be in the paper. Hope my professional head shot got in to the paper in time, although I like the unflattering float trip pic. they pulled off Facebook for the first story. Keeps me humble being a homely mug with a giant melon. Canvassing and staying on my dog walking schedule is going to have me looking good by April. I’ll have to come up with a scheme to keep it up.

After the interview I grabbed some Indian food, delicious downtown and hit the streets to canvass. The new flyer is out and looks a lot better with the new photo. Tomorrow I need to schedule another photo shoot, get the dog in the picture. I let him out and then canvassed until dark. I had a brief hiatus to wait for flyers but some down time was appreciated.

Had some good houses today. Met an anti-obesity community organizer and talked quite a bit. I went to one house and no one came to the door even though only the storm door was closed. A kid came up with a scooter and I gave her a flyer and asked her to give it to her parents. She said, “I don’t have parents, just a mom. I had two moms but one moved out.” I was thinking I was sorry I missed her as with a story like that it has to be someone I know and sure enough I heard Mike, Mike shouted down the block and got caught up with an old friend.

I’ve hit 126 doors. Not to shabby though I am off pace. It may not be realistic. I am going to try to recruit a driver to speed the process. I made my follow up calls. I talked at length with an older couple about the state of the neighborhood and they are going to talk to some neighbors and may gather a group to meet me. They live in the same block as the sweet old lady I talked to at length about not knowing her neighbors when she didn’t come to the door. When I left a message for one she had specifically mentioned she did not know I mentioned the possibility of a meeting.

I have this dream where the older folks meet the newer folks and everyone feels a little safer and a little more neighborly. To rekindle our cross-generational interactions. It might start on Garden Drive. I’ve been praying for that little old lady. After that did some business and looking to wind down and get some shut eye. Tomorrow morning is my own, you can’t canvass before noon on Sunday as you are supposed to be in church. If its at all nice I will walk Fido to the dog park and try to chat up some dog people. Fido has been getting his walks but its been after dark and he needs to see more dogs to have as much life satisfaction as i would like him to have. John was sweet enough to remind me that even with being busy Fido has a better life then most.

I know that. I got no room for guilt. I’ve been working hard all day, every day and get to sleep the sleep of the just. Its a good thing to work hard and try to help. There’s a lot of mess out there but there’s a lot of room for growth if you’ve got a little hustle and a lot of compassion.

they don’t make ear muffs anymore

January 21, 2012 1 comment

Its been another interesting day. I slept good last night which I was grateful for having a couple of bad nights previously and really being tired yesterday. I got on stuff early starting the dishes while I was waiting for water for coffee and kept to a pretty good pace all day. Had to do a load of laundry because I needed the shirt I wore yesterday for pictures. The coffee was good, medium/dark Ethiopian I’d roasted yesterday over lunch. The benefits of a little hustle. Coffee really does hit its peak the day after a roast.

I remembered to water plants and ran some errands. Got some more inclement weather gear. Went to the Alpine Shop to try and find ear muffs. Its to cold to do nothing and a stocking cap just doesn’t work for what I’m trying to do these days, though there’s nothing better on a cold day. I have 3 I regularly wear depending on how cold it is. Only the gray one matches my coat but until very recently and only for a bit I haven’t cared a rats ass about such things. Function over fashion as much as I can get away with.

I had gone their last night but arrived shortly after close. I hit Walmart though I am not a fan because they were open and I also needed butter. When you need ear muffs and butter Walmart is your place. But no ear muffs, though I did get BGH free butter, go figure. So back to the Alpine Shop when they’re open and voila no ear muffs. Try the Tiger Store(University memorabilia)  they recommend which seems like a good idea. They did have a rain jacket. I lost mine some time ago and have been looking not finding one I like. More then I wanted to pay but a solid jacket that looks sharp so I got it.

Stopped at another memorabilia store. “Do you sell ear muffs?” “Nope, just stocking caps.” Everyone agrees stocking caps are the shit. At the Tiger store no ear muffs either. “Well we’ve got these” and they’re these little ear caps that pop open slide over your ears and then you pop them closed. Seemed ridiculous but I was thinking that maybe they don’t make ear muffs anymore. Apparently things go out of style and you can’t buy them in stores. Weird. I know the internet has everything all the time, flea markets and such as well. I am shopping for a sieve. They have gone the way of the ear muff, but I’ll find one because there’s no hurry. But it was cold today and the headband I borrowed looked cheesy on my receding hair line.

So I bought the “ear buds” I thought she said, I wore them out of the store and never really looked at the packaging. Didn’t see anything like them on google image search for buds and muffs. They’re kind of cool though, certainly keep your ears warm. Of course there’s a Tiger on them. Could be worse I guess, they could be tiger ears or something. They worked.

I wish I could have worn them when I got my picture taken. When it was 60 a week ago an outside shoot seemed like a fine idea. Less so today at 30. Jane took a lot of shots some outside some inside and we got some nice ones. All head shots, one in an open shirt and cardigan one in a shirt and tie. Should’ve worn the suit coat, it was cold. Between that and being outside I got a little chilled to the bone and tired.

I took Fido to the shoot to play with Jane’s dog Ursual, a 13 month old Pyrenees. The played pretty good together. After Fido got comfortable he started some chase and they had a good time. He’s sacked out at my feet curled up by his Christmas donkey. Its always fun getting your picture taken. Makes you feel special, important. I’ve been lucky enough to be in more then my share of them for being a homely fellow. Glad Fido got some good play in though, it was his day to walk and I didn’t do it. Will tomorrow and a bath too. He’s starting to smell like a dog.

Still went out for dinner with Amy and her friend. Went to La Siesta, always a terrible name for a Mexican restaurant. The nap is not inspiring as far as cuisine goes. Better name for a hotel or something. It was fair. I had the carnitas which wasn’t very spicy. Wasn’t bad and had some Dos Equis on tap. Now I’m ready to crash. Looking forward to finally getting the Christmas tree down tomorrow. No popcorn and cranberries this year.

step one part 1

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment


I’ve had the great pleasure to get to teach the 12 steps of recovery, specifically Narcotics Anonymous over the past year or so. I am a treatment person not a recovery person so I do not usually presume. The Steps are supposed to be worked by a Sponsor. Someone experienced in The Program who has worked the steps themselves. For people with multiple challenges Recovery can be an arduous path and unique accommodations must sometime be made.

If an individual speaks only a foreign language or is deaf and only speaks sign both NA and AA graciously make interpreters available but only for meetings not to meet with sponsors. Using deaf as an example you also have the unique challenge of concrete thinking, translation, and lack of all reference even through metaphor for hearing. I just looked the steps on line(cyber recovery)  and translated. And its been cool. One of the most interesting therapeutic approaches I’ve ever tried. Has made me really have to understand the text.

Someone requested I write it down for them. I told them it would be a lot of work but it may be of general interest so I would share it.

Step 1

“We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable”

Not understanding the first step makes people use drugs. Addicts have other problems besides using drugs. People in NA can only help others by caring about them and living life as it is not how we want it to be or fear it to be. NA just focuses on not using drugs.

Using drugs makes you selfish and step one helps that. If we are powerless we don’t have to stick up for ourselves or try to do stuff we can’t do. When we used drugs we tried to hurt ourselves, not because we wanted to but because we were sick. Our sickness is because we can’t remember what has happened or learn from other people. We lie to ourselves and can’t see how things are. Sometimes people wait to make decisions until they’ve been clean awhile and they’re better. Recovery is confusing in the beginning and waiting to make decisions helps. We can’t do that forever as we get better in recovery if we want to grow.

We can’t give it up to God without understanding other addicts. We do what other addicts who have been clean longer suggest. We read, study, and ask questions when we can. We share with others so we don’t plan to use drugs. We try to understand we are sick and can’t get better alone. The most important word in the first step is We. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable”. We are not alone we are in a group in NA. We don’t have to do this step alone.

When we were using drugs we felt the strongest when we were making our biggest problems. Sometimes it almost killed us and ruined our life. We thought we were strong but we could just make people do stuff we wanted. Other times we felt weak and nervous. When bad things happened we would admit we have a problem and things would get better. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable”. Then we can keep getting better forever, unless we decide we’re powerful.

Most ask “Tell me how it’s done? Show me what to do. I am afraid to try.” In NA we see people like us who have gotten better. We wonder if they are like us how can they do good? They do things we don’t think people can do. As we get better we learn that how it was when were using isn’t that way anymore. We are no longer dazed by drugs. We have meetings to go to. We learn new positive thoughts.

We learn to catch ourselves and slow down before getting caught up in things. Almost anything, even important things can wait five minutes. Taking time to think doesn’t mean we can’t do some things. It helps us not to feel hurt. Sometimes we don’t have to do anything and we can give it to God. Then we think of good things to do, people to call, and good things happen when we pray.

Some things remind us of drugs. Sometimes it does and we don’t see it and we don’t know why we want to use drugs. Some people make us think about when we were kids or when bad things happened or like they are the cops and we want to get away. This keeps us from getting better. Learning more about what reminds us of stuff lets us change it. Intense anger, fear, or shame for no reason shows you have a problem. We have to give everything in our life to God. When we remember we are not in control problems go away. Without giving it to God we can’t get better and we will do what we used to do. Part of giving it up to God is remembering we made our lives small. We did bad things and bad things happened. We get confused because we did drugs and need other people to help us. All addicts feel nervous sometimes but they help each other.

We have to look at what we do in recovery. We do stuff for a long time and we don’t think about it. We don’t remember why we do stuff we just do it. The longer we are in recovery we can do things better. We ought to think about what we do especially the stuff we were doing when we were using drugs. They make our life like it used to be. We are afraid at red and blue lights because of the cops but we aren’t breaking any laws and don’t have to be afraid.


had hoped to finish but will call this part 1. The steps can seem daunting but they are front loaded with length and depth. Most of it is really clear. Occasionally I am lost by a thought. In talking with a translator I was told “clarity” was the essential quality. I am curious of what people who know this material better then I think. I enjoy abstraction but its been cool to lay it down for awhile. In the concrete there is room for God but not a Higher Power. If the New York Times said God is dead  in the 60s for this exercise Higher Power is dead killed by vagueness and abstraction.

“i am mostly water, 70 percent, don’t worry about the rent”

Listening to an alt country mix John made for me a long time ago. Great stuff, late 90s. Feeling grateful and content. Last week was a veritable whirlwind and until now I have subscribed to a drama free lifestyle for a long time. But not always and even as I’ve gone about a more ordinary existence I have known a penchant for action lays. Certainly won’t have to worry about boredom anytime soon as it looks.

Fido has been sleeping all day getting up only to follow me to whatever room I’m in and crashing. After better then a week of Olive 24/7 I think he just wants rest. We did walk down to the park and he played a bit with a 6 month old Blue Sheltie. I don’t think I’d ever seen one that cute. She got Fido to chase her but she was slow and they didn’t figure out how to play anything else so we walked the trail home.

I was tired today, slept poorly and slept in for me. I lay down for a nap but didn’t go down and ended up just reading a Spider Man comic. The 70s stuff has a strong since of nostalgia for me. “Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider Man” I remember well from when I was a boy. Tarantula is the villain and I remember drawing him, even the foreshortened right leg and having to imagine the toe spike that’s imbedded in the wall. He was like if Spider Man and Zorro had a kid being Hispanic and the half mask. Some of the stuffs pretty solid but there’s a cheese factor. My next one features the “Death Dance of the Hypno Hustler!”

I forgot this song is on the CD, awesome. Whenever I hear myself its unsettling and hard not to listen to myself and yet its not entirely pleasant (and not just because  I’m such a bad singer).

Jeff and Becky and their kiddos came over for dinner. I was hoping Fido would get over his weirded out by kids thing if he had some sustained time with kids but no such luck. I had made minestrone soup yesterday. As a a base I used all my canned tomatoes (pretty much done with canned food all things being equal, I’ll pass on the skyrocketing BPA levels thank you very much).

While I got that going I took 2 local pasture raised cube steaks, floured them in whole wheat flour and browned in the cast iron skillet. Chopped them into little pieces and all the drippings and even the saucer of flour figuring it would thicken. I would later regret that move because I was going to someone who was gluten frees house for a potluck I thought but it was a chile supper and I was late so it didn’t matter anyway. Had a gluten free beer speaking of nostalgia. (Long term readers will remember I lost my papa and gluten free this and that was a frequent blog topic for awhile.)

Oh yeah, I fried the cube steaks in bacon grease, its not much meat for a giant pot of soup and the extra flavor didn’t hurt. I then added the giant kolrabi (well half of it, going to use it for chickpea potato salad with some russets for the work potluck), a couple of Michigan carrots, 3 Michigan red onions, a green pepper, half a bottle of homemade cherry wine (my sainted Mama taught me to add a little sweet to take the bite out of tomatoes), 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, some spinach, and purple cabbage. Whoop fresh green beans snapped real short, the black eyed peas I’d made at New Years, and a sizable amount of dried basil from the garden and Turkish oregano. At the end I added most of a can of black olives I had from Thanksgiving and some whole wheat spiral pasta.

It was yummy, pretty healthy too, and had a minestrone taste to it. Ended up adding a tsp of Better then Bullion too. Jeff and Becky are traveling and to hang out a few hours in the afternoon I thought soup and salad would be nice. I did an all local salad with market lettuce, spinach, purple cabbage, shredded carrot, heart nuts (a cross of Black and English walnuts) from the Michigan market, and Michigan apples.

I made a homemade dressing as well. I added apple cider vinegar to the last of the tahini in its own jar and some Michigan honey (boy you know local honey is cool but the honey that’s like the honey that I grew up on is just more honeyer to me), a little turmeric, a lot of freshly ground mustard (the kids enjoyed the mortar and pestle), maybe something else, I was gabbing with the guests.

Jeff brought a loaf of wheat/rye bread he’d made in the woods in a clay oven. He’s a history buff and reenactor who has a big 19th century or so camp out in Missouri every year at this time and we hang out for a bit before or after. Jeff hosted me on my first visit to Columbia and showed me the town I fell in love with. Its funny in the campaign I say “I love Columbia” and people always say “How long have you been here?”, its funny. He made it old school stretching the yeast, using only a packet for 14 pounds of flour like they would have in the olden days and stuff was expensive. They bought yeast from brewers who grew it.

Early in that paragraph I hopped over to Facebook and told a friend one of my favorite stories about my dad when she had mentioned David Bowie, here it is [One time a long time ago Dad called from the road and asked my mom to speak to me. He said, “Have you ever heard of David Bowie?” “Um, yeah Dad I’ve heard of him why.” “Well I went to get fuel last night about 3:00 in the morning and all the fuel pumps were blocked by these tour buses, so I went inside and I said ‘Hey whose buses are blocking the fuel pumps?’ and this anemic little fuck came up and said ‘They’re my buses I’m David Bowie'” Dad went on “So I said are you any relation to Jim Bowie? He had a knife that could cut his hair, you could use a knife like that.” This was 80s Bowie so his hair wasn’t that long but Dad was sensitive about stuff like that. A couple years ago I showed him The Man Who Fell to Earth and told him that’s who he’d told off.]

Well its getting late and I still have dishes to wash.

Free Mumia

December 8, 2011 1 comment

It seems like there has been an inordinate amount of good news in the paper today. Driving is down 6 months in a row, as Baby Boomers stopped driving their kids around is the biggest factor. Desegregation is rolling along as more black folks move to the suburbs. Asians and Latinos open the door moving in creating space for black folks in white neighborhoods. (Whites don’t move into black neighborhoods except in isolated cases of gentrification. Boo whites.)

The biggest piece of good news was that Mumia Abu Jamal was taken off of death row. I knew it yesterday, because even though I’m pretty attached to paper newspapers (anything worth doing is worth doing like in the 19th century) I appreciate what my brother said when his buddy asked “what’s that?” when he tossed me the paper in its tight plastic sack. “That’s a newspaper. Its what people read before there was an internet. It tells  you what happened yesterday.”

So yesterday Mumia Abu Jamal was taken off death row. I have heard some of his stuff and read one of his books. I worked a short quotation of his into a wedding I did in Canada on “the primordial forest”. I went to Philadelphia and protested many years ago. This has been going on so long. There is good evidence his trial was fraudulent and the circumstances are murky. Even if he shot the cop he’s been in the joint a long time and has done much good. It was a racially charged time and there was a lot of weirdness around the whole thing. I was moved largely by my gut which has always told me he’s a good man.

I also wrote  poem about his situation. Its pretty dated but I am putting everything up and archiving it and its probably worth sharing. I take a light, almost tongue in cheek approach as I was poking fun at my strident to the point of humorless activist friends who have as little room for dissenting thought as the mainstream they rail against. I love them nonetheless and largely root ’em on. The biggest thing about the piece is its dated. This might be my last chance to share it with any kind of relevance. I always thought it was a tight little piece and I like the ending a lot. Almost feel like I squandered it on a piece so set in a particular time.

He’s as innocent as OJ

And Clinton, well of course

So why’s he on death row

And not on the golf course,

Looking for the real killers

And the guys who killed Vince Foster?

Why aren’t there black tie dinners

With key note speaker Kevin Costner?

He’s as cool as the dolphins

As exotic as Tibet,

And they say there might be riots

But they haven’t started yet,

And so they will try to kill him

In the name of God

Because if you spare the child

Then you spoil the rod.