Saturday, December 31, 2011

the domino effect

For every action, there is a corresponding reaction.
I learned this the hard way yesterday morning.

I sat watching some morning television, something I rarely have time for. I was enjoying my morning cup of British blend tea. Someone said something on TV, and that started the domino effect. That is when the first domino fell...

I inhaled instead of swallowing.>> I tried to swallow anyway.>> Realized I was doomed and the tea was gonna spew.>> To save the carpet, I spewed into my cup, ruining a good cup of tea.>> Wretch was watching, and started to laugh.>> Made me laugh.>> I peed my pants from laughing and choking.

And so the dominoes fell, and my year comes to an end. Not a totally bad way to end the year. Laughter is good.

But I would have preferred not peeing my pants.

Hope y'all have a great 2012, filled with lots of laughter!

~cath xo
Twitter me @jonesbabie

Friday, December 30, 2011

simple human moment, a haiku

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.  A moment in time I want to capture, to savor and remember.
“This Moment” is a ritual I found on Pamanner's Blog, via Life inspired by the Wee Man adopted from SouleMama.  Check out their blogs, and if you are moved too, please leave a link to your Moment in the comment box below.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Thursday, December 29, 2011

you're never too old for santa

Here it is, 4 days afterward, and I am still writing about Christmas.  But I got something special in the mail yesterday and wanted to share it.

A couple days before Christmas, I got a text from my sister Vix asking for my son's mailing address.  I texted it back, then forgot about it, although I thought to myself it was a little late for Christmas cards.  Then a couple days ago I was talking to my mum, and she asked if I'd gotten the photo of Vix yet, and I said no.  She cryptically said "just wait", and so I had to...wait.

Yesterday it arrived, along with a letter from Vix.  Here is the photo:

And here is what happened, in her own words:

As I read it, I laughed, and Christmas arrived four days late to my heart.  My goofy, dorky sister with the warped sense of humor I love gave me the best gift I could have gotten from her, the gift of laughter...and of love.

I hope as the year winds down, you take time to enjoy the small stuff.  The best things really do come in small packages.

Sometimes they come in envelopes.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

confession: surviving the holidays

When I was a little girl, Christmas was magic.  I loved the fact that I was the only little girl who had a tree decorated by Santa.  Every year the jolly old elf would visit our house twice.  We'd buy a tree, I'd go to bed, and POOF! the next morning there was this gorgeous tree in the living room that Santa had decorated.  Years later I realized that it was Mom's way of having total control over the tree and how it looked.

Thank goodness I didn't take after my Mom with her total-control-over-all-things-Christmas type of personality.  Well, at first I did.  I used to get wound up tighter than a spring when the kids were little, then one year I realized that I was getting no fun out of the holiday, and working myself into a snit every year.  By the time Christmas day got here, I was as useless as a pile of unbaked cookie dough in a cold oven.

Now I tend to go with the flow.  I've learned some valuable lessons along the way that I would like to share. I didn't share these before Christmas because I realized that only with post-Christmas burnout would anyone even begin to understand the points I was trying to make.  I figure by now most of you are feeling shell-shocked by it all, and are in an overdosed carbohydrate coma to boot.  (I awakened from my own coma today.)  So I humbly offer my ideas for surviving.  Read these and tuck them away, because next year will be here before you know it.

1. When you decorate, use everyday items to add seasonal color around your house.  Target bags make great bathroom garbage can liners, and the red circles on them look like little red wreaths.

2. If you time buying your Christmas poinsettia just right, the last leaf won't drop until the day after Christmas.  It adds a lot of beautiful color and when Christmas is gone, so is it.

3. Remember the tree principle: the smaller the tree, the fewer ornaments it takes to decorate it.  And if you shove it in a corner, you can cut that amount in half and decorate the front only.

4. Kids will eat anything.  So if you are watching your waistline at Christmas, let the kids bake up those tubs of cookie dough you bought, and make sure to bake them too long.  Kids don't care, and you will be less tempted to eat cookies that taste like chocolate charcoal.  (Until after Christmas, when you go into a carbohydrate crash and burned cookies start looking good.  Make sure you send them home with the grandkids.)

5. Recycle, recycle.  I can't emphasize this enough.  That old green tablecloth that is stained and ugly will take on new life when you turn it into a tree skirt and wrap it around the base of your $35 four foot Christmas tree.

6. All the Christmas coffee mugs you were given over the years make a great centerpiece for the table.  Just stack them in the middle of the table, and throw some tinsel over them for a festive centerpiece that everyone will envy.  If you run out of last minute Christmas gifts, you can always take one or two and regift them, and throw a couple ornaments (left from your tree) into the centerpiece to fill the holes.

7. If you run out of eggnog before Christmas, add vanilla, nutmeg and sugar to buttermilk and tell your guests it is diet eggnog and that is why it is a bit funky tasting.

8. You can hide a lot of dust bunnies and fruitcake crumbs under a Christmas tree skirt.

9. Don't shop until three days before Christmas.  Make your shopping list, then have a couple Margaritas before you go.  You will be amazed at the bargains you find, and it won't even bother you that your 80 year old mom is getting a G-string from Victoria's Secret.  Or that you just bought a $300 remote control car for your toddler grandson.

10.  Tell all your family and friends that if they are buying you a gift, wine is at the top of your wishlist.  Voila!, your wine rack is restocked in one fell swoop.  And you will have something to offer those guests who wretch when they try your buttermilk eggnog.

The last and best suggestion to surviving the holidays is to relax, this too shall pass.  Just like constipation, it is a temporary condition.

May your holiday (what's left of it) be a notch better than your worst nightmare. :D

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

christmas leftovers

The frenzy is over.  Finally.  Thank Santa's elves that it is all past.  Except for the grandkids and the time we spend together as a family, I don't love Christmas.  I am always glad when the mayhem is over, and peace and quiet reign supreme again.  Why am I like this?

Because I think Christmas as a commercial holiday stinks.  The rushing to shop, parties everywhere with more food than you can gorge an elephant on, and people spending their hard earned money buying gifts for people they barely know.  I dread and dislike it to the point of gagging.  So much so that I refused to go to a couple of functions at work this year.  And threatened my staff about buying me any gifts.  (They did anyway, and I am still wondering how I lost control of that situation.)

This all sounds bitter and whiny doesn't it?  It is, a bit, around the edges.  Because as much as I hate Christmas, there are things I love about Christmas too.  It starts with the grandkids of course.  (Did you think I would say anything different?)  Their naivete, and innocent belief in all things Santa and good, make it fun.  Lighthearted.  And can raise my mood from the depths of despair.

I love the small things.  The favorite old Christmas movies, watching the lights on the tree when I am up late alone, and it is totally quiet.  Opening each day on a computerized Advent calendar a friend sent, and seeing what surprise is in store for that day.  Having a cup of tea with my favorite creamer in it, and having time to just sit and think about the year almost gone, and what it has meant to me.  Those are the things I love at Christmas time.  A chance to think, and really count my blessings for the year.

And this year, I got an extra gift at Christmas.  Some time with my youngest daughter.  Wretch decided to spend a few days with us, and the time we spent together was comforting to me, and I savored every minute.  We laughed together, and watched some movies (the kind of chick flicks Stevie Wonder hates).  We talked, and just relaxed.  It was wonderful, and the best gift she could have given me.

We spent yesterday afternoon painting Christmas ornaments.  It was two days after Christmas, but that is typical of us.  We never do things the way most people do.  That is what I love about us, our family.  And about my life.  We savor the small stuff.

I believe it isn't one season, or holiday, that should be grabbed at and clutched with greedy hands for all that you can get.  It is the small moments in life, the instants that add up to moments of memories that you can look back on and laugh about, or cry about, or just say ahhhh, what a moment that was.

That's the important thing.  Those moments.  The piano part of life.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Friday, December 23, 2011

a christmas haiku moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.  A moment in time I want to capture, to savor and remember.

“This Moment” is a ritual I found on Pamanner's Blog, via Life inspired by the Wee Man adopted from SouleMama.  Check out their blogs, and if you are moved too, please leave a link to your Moment in the comment box below.

I've taken my favorite moment, combined with haiku, for a little something different today.  Hope you enjoy it.
Have a safe, memorable, Merry Christmas!

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the christmas caper

There I was, spinning through the days of the Christmas season, caught up in the stress of work and a depressed mood I just couldn't shake.  I was irritable and snapping at my staff at work, and just as Scrooged out and Grinched up as a person could get.

I had to hurry up and wrap the grandkid's gifts because Stevie Wonder was picking the twins up and I knew that if I didn't wrap them, they would ferret them out of my favorite hiding places.  I spent more time than normal on the wrapping, which amounted to adding real ribbon to the packages and tying bows.  I stacked them under the tree and off to work I went, knowing everything was as wrapped up at home as I could get it.  My mood was still dark, and I was just trying to get through the day.  All that was about to change.

I worked late, and by the time I got home, the day was mostly gone.  I took a deep breath as I stepped out of the car, as I looked up and saw Maddie holding the door open for me in the blustery, cool night air.  I grabbed my work bag and cell phone and slowly dragged myself out of the car and to the door.  I was tired and had no energy, and wondered if I would make it until bedtime.

Maddie said "Grammy where WERE you?", and I told her I had been at work.  She nodded in that knowing six year old way of hers, and we went into the house.  She gave me a big hug and said "Dunc and I made cookies, come SEE!" and ran to the dining room table to show me two cookie sheets full of cookies, and a big plastic container half full from earlier batches.  I looked at them and at her face as she grabbed one and said "they taste great!".  Then I noticed they were burned on the bottom.  Stevie Wonder had tried two different cooking times on each batch and they all burned.  Not black, but enough to leave a piquant charcoal aftertaste in your mouth, and instead of being soft to bite into, they crunched like crackers.

Maddie smiled at me as she showed me her treasure trove of cookies and crunched on one loudly.  That was when Stevie Wonder told me about the gifts.

"The kids looked through every gift as soon as we got home, and read all the names on the packages.  Then I had to go outside for a few minutes and when I came in, they told me that Dunc had accidently torn the paper on Maddie's gift.  I have it over here by me so they can't see inside."

I looked at Maddie.  When I was a kid, I was one of the best sneak-untaper-and-retaper of gifts that ever existed, so I knew what had happened.  I watched as Maddie slowly stopped crunching her cookie.  Her mouth dropped open and for a couple seconds she was speechless.  Then her brain kicked back into gear and she piped out sweetly: "yes but I didn't see what was inside."

I raised one eyebrow, and she repeated what she had said, trying to use a more convincing tone.  I walked over to SW and looked at the gift in question.  Yep, a big hole in it, and then, suspiciously, long tears going in three or four different directions.  I called Dunc to the living room to explain what happened.  He verified that it was his fault.  Then I asked Duncan how it happened.  Maddie demonstrated as she answered for him that he had tripped on the hearth and fallen on the gift by accident.

I asked Dunc if that was true.  He said yep that was how it happened, with a wide-eyed bland 'I'm only partly to blame' look on his face.  I looked around at Maddie, who was humped up in a ball on the couch by now, and asked her the fatal question...or rather, I stated it....

"You did see inside that package didn't you?"

She shook her head no, but her mouth was open in a toothless grin.  I knew what her next move would be.  Win Grammy over with a smile and humor.  I wasn't buying it.  I was laughing inside by now, but had a straight look on my face.  I repeated my accusation...

"You did look inside didn't you?"
She finally realized I wasn't mad and nodded, the grin still in place but a little shaky around the edges of her mouth.

I took the package to another room and taped the edges back together.  Maddie followed me and asked if I was I rewrapping it.  I said no, there was only one wrap per gift, and hers was getting a repair job.  She seemed ok with my answer, and returned to the living room to her blanket on the couch.

I finished and took it back to its place by the tree.  As I straightened up Maddie took her last shot at convincing me the contents were still a secret and said:

"Grammy I looked but I didn't see anything.  I didn't see a remote control in it."

I looked around at her, grinned and said:

"That's good Maddie, because it's a Barbie doll."  Her mouth dropped open in shock.

She hates Barbie dolls.

Score one for evil Grammy.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

holiday bargains

I first posted this on December 16, 2010 and thought it was worth another go around.  I still believe the gifts we give to others, of our time and our attention, are probably the most important thing we can do.  I hope your holiday shines with happiness and love.  Mine will.  ~cath xo

Looking for the perfect gift for that special someone?  Don't have much money to spend this year?  Here are a few suggestions for last minute giving that make perfect gifts:

Smile.  That's it.  Smile at someone.  It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

Listen. When someone is talking to you, just listen to what they have to say.  And smile at them when you can.

Look.  Into the eyes.  Make eye contact when you are listening and smiling.

TouchGive that person a hug.  Or a handshake.  Touch the person's shoulder while you listen.


Laugh.  Together.  At a shared thought, at a shared joke.  Laugh.  It is contagious, and heals many things.

Time.  This one is the best bargain.  Give someone a few minutes of your time.  Your undivided attention.  Do all of the above while you are giving that person some time.

These are just a few of the bargains I have discovered and wanted to share with you.  They don't cost much.  And keep on giving long after you have given them away.

Blessings on you all during this holy season.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

you are my sunshine...sort of

This time of year, I am usually running behind doing everything.  Daily stuff around the house, shopping, work, you name it and I am behind.  I was given this wonderful little award a few weeks ago by two wonderful people, and since then have been trying to find a spot of time to sit down and respond in a proper manner.

The Sunshine Award...sounds like you would get a warm glowing feeling from it, doesn't it?  I especially need that this year.  I was sick a couple weeks ago, and farther behind than I usually am this time of year.

So I want to thank Joy at Catharsis, and Beckey at My Really, Real Reality for honoring me with this.  Take the time to have a look at their blogs, well worth the minutes out of your day to read.  :D

1. The award requires that I thank them and write a post about it... 

2. Answer a few simple questions...

3. And pass the award to 10-12 bloggers, link their blogs, and let them know I awarded them.

I fulfilled #1, and here is #2:

Favorite color?  Turquoise, absolutely.
Favorite animal?  Dogs and cats.  Man's and woman's best friends.  
Favorite number? It was 2, but I got fried on that one, so now...none.
Favorite drink?  Without any close competition, it is Starbuck's Tazo Chai Latte, a Venti of course. :D
Facebook or Twitter?  Both...I'm an unrepentant social media freak geek. 
Your passion?  Painting, photography and writing.  Oh, and Stevie Wonder too, of course. 
Giving or getting presents?  Giving, hands down.  And heart open.
Favorite day?  It's not a day, but a time of day.  And that time is night.  A time to relax, reflect, and wind down.
Favorite flowers? The ruffled iris a friend gave me and my red amaryllis.  Both are such a welcome sight in spring after the dreary gray days of winter.

 Now for #3.  I am going to do things a bit differently here.  I have won a few wonderful awards this year from fellow bloggers, and I am going to provide the links to those posts here.  Then I am going to ask those of you who are sweet enough to comment, to add a link to YOUR favorite blog.  That way we all win, and gain some new blogs to read and perhaps follow. :D

1. imagine my award!  A list of blogs I love from a group I love belonging to...
2. loving the liebster  more blogs of note...I don't follow a blog frivolously or lightly, and pick are 5 blogs worth checking out...
3. being kreativ part 1...five blogs you might like to check out...and then there is finally
4. being kreativ, la segunda parte  ...because five is good, in fingers and toes, and in blogs too.  So here are five more blogs to sink your teeth into...

I have often found the best blogs are the ones recommended by others, and so I feel that sharing like this is the best way to pass on a variety that is worth a look.  Check a couple of them out, and if you like what you read, please leave a comment.  Writers really do read their feedback...

Thanks again to you two awesome women, Beckey and Joy.  I appreciate the recognition, and thank you so much for choosing me. :D

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Thursday, December 15, 2011

santa baby

Today I want to repost one of my old favorites...this was first posted about this time last year...for those of you who haven't read it, I hope you will enjoy it.  For those of you who have been with me long enough to have seen this the first time around, I hope you will indulge me.  I'm a grammy who is crazy about her grandkids, and this post is close to my heart.  I hope you enjoy every moment in the life of your child or grandchild.  Moments pass quickly into memories.  ~cath xo

santa babies
This has got to be one of my more emotional blogs...not because I am going to spill my guts about anything, but because I have been looking at photos of the grandkids with Santa. 

jack 2005

maddie and dunc 2005

For the past 5 years their parents have been spending what I considered a waste of time and effort to "see Santa" and have that inevitable photo op with him holding the kids, sometimes unwillingly.  As I was looking through the photos and saw the change in them, from baby to toddler to school age children, I realized I was being a scrooge, and that I was glad no one had ever asked my opinion about seeing Santa. 

jack age 3

It is fun looking at the photos, but also a bit heart wrenching to see how much they have grown in 5 years.  So I decided to share my Santa baby photos with you all.  Not because you care, but because I do.  As they say here in the south, every cow licks its own calf, and I think my little calves are worth the extra licks!

maddie and dunc 18 months old

jack age 4

You'll notice that the twins were terrified of Santa at the age of 18 months.  Even now, they aren't crazy about seeing him, but they believe that if they don't make that trip to that man in the red suit, then he will bypass their house.  Even though no one in the family ever told them that.  I think they are hedging their bets, just in case.

Notice too the serene look of happiness on Jack's face in EVERY photo.  No terror there, just the look of a little boy who knows Santa will be coming no matter how he has behaved...I think that displays extreme confidence for a child.  I also noticed in every photo of Jack that Santa has a death grip on him...maybe that has something to do with his cooperation...

dunc and maddie age 3 1/2

This photo of  Dunc and Maddie begins the series of "I'm pasting on this grin but I really just want to get the heck out of here" Santa photos...I blame this look on their memory of the year above when they were 18 months old...don't let anyone ever tell you kids don't remember stuff from childhood...I have photographic evidence to disprove that theory...

jack age 5

I can imagine Jack having the same look on his face when he is 30, although I would never suggest he would sit on Santa's lap at that age...that would make me sound like a grammy-pervert.

maddie and dunc age 5
 Also, Santa doesn't realize it, but Jack has the flu in this photo.  I knew he was sick when Jim took him to see Santa last night, and a trip to the doctor on the way home to his mom today confirmed it...flu a and b...hope Santa isn't bedridden by next Friday night, or Dunc and Maddie may be living their worst nightmare on Saturday toys from Santa, just an IOU.

john age 7 months

Last but not least, our newest Santa baby, John.  John is Jack's little brother, and he's a happy fellow.  John has no idea who the man in the red suit is...but give him a year or two and he'll be in full Santa swing.

I am throwing some of my other favorite photos of the kids in, just because.  If you are sick of looking at them by the time you get to this point, feel free to escape.  I'm staying for the finale...

And HO, HO, HO, MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you and may you relive many happy memories as you add new ones this holiday season!

jack, maddie and dunc 2006

maddie and dunc 2007

maddie, jack and dunc 2005

Friday, December 9, 2011

shades of day -my moment

                           frigid air of night
                                                dark light shadowing as day
                                                          ...moonfoolish dogs howl

Last night I was out for the first time with my tripod, freezing as I tried to capture a glorious full moon night.  I have an obvious lack of technical skill in these photos, but I hope to convey the surreal feeling of standing in the yard, looking at a sky that was as bright as day.  Jet streams could easily be seen and the light threw shadows on the ground that were almost as distinct as midday.  I hope you enjoy my little offering today, as well as the night sky wherever you live.  Bundle up, and step outside.  Look up.  And experience the moment.

Twitter @jonesbabie

Thursday, December 8, 2011

shower wars

It became clear to me that I needed a new shower caddy when I noticed bottles of hair and body products accumulating in my small shower.  It's a walk in shower, square, and has two small corner shelves.  Every time I took a shower, I was knocking bottles off with my elbows when I turned around.  It got to the point that I couldn't take a shower without dodging dropping bottles, and I started to become desperate.  So I did the only thing I knew to do.

I assigned Stevie Wonder the task of buying the shower caddy.  I was deep into shopping for art supplies one day, and I could feel him tensing up behind me, and I knew if I didn't send him to some OTHER place, there would be loud words soon.  I racked my brain and blurted out "I need a new shower caddy, why don't you go next door to the bath and body shop and get one?"

He was glad for the excuse not to watch me agonize over which size canvas to buy, and he shot out of there like his tail was on fire.  He was back in less than 5 minutes telling me he found a great shower caddy that could be mounted in the corner, or flat on the wall.

We got it home, and I got it installed.  Got it loaded.  Mounted.  Shining new on the wall, it looked like it was smiling at me. I couldn't wait to use it, so I jumped in the shower.  Shampoo worked great.  Conditioner too.  Pumps pumping like oil derricks, oozing the wonderful goop into my hot little hands.

Then I tried the middle one.  The one I loaded with my special body wash.  I pumped it.  And got nothing.

Another push.  Nothing.  There I was, standing naked and wet in the shower, with shower gel I COULDN'T GET TO.  I tried to remember what the directions said about putting a vacuum on it, by either covering the opening with your finger and pushing, or pushing and then covering the opening with your finger as you release the button.  So to hedge my bet, I tried it both ways.

A slow drip emerged.  I am talking a drop so small even Barbie couldn't get clean with it.  I kept pushing.  I began to pound the button.  About 2 more Barbie drops sneeked onto my puff.  The amount was so small, it sank into the puff, never to be seen again.

I tried priming it is a pump after all.  I pushed on the shampoo and conditioner buttons.  Yep, they worked fine.  I pushed on the shower gel button again, thinking it should work, the other buttons worked.  Maybe it was a group effort, I had to push all 3 to get them to work.

Nope, didn't work.  Barbie drop four emerged with disdainful slowness from pump #2.

My mother surfaced in me then, and right there in the shower, naked in front of God, I pitched a fit.  I kicked the walls of the shower, slammed my fist onto the shower gel button about 50 times as fast as I could, and cursed silently.  I would've screamed, but it was midnight and I did NOT want to wake Stevie W up that way.

After about 5 minutes of continuous pounding on the button, I gave up, exhausted.  I pulled the container off the wall and looked at the back of it, just to make sure that there wasn't some secret button I was supposed to push.  The "emergency, push here if pump doesn't work" button.  No button.

So I pulled the lid off, then noticed that when I had turned it sideways to check the back for the secret button, the gel, shampoo and condtioner had mixed together in the top of the caddy.

Problem solved.  Disgusted beyond belief, I filled my puff with goop from each container, and washed from head to foot.  It was like washing your clothes with a combination laundry soap/fabric softener.  Your clothes might not be as clean, but they sure smell good.  One slather and it was done.  Shampooed, conditioned and body washed from head to foot, all in one step.

I can't wait to force the grandkids into the shower at the point of my light saber and make them use my new combination cleanser-shampooer-condtioner (or dishcunner as Maddie calls it).  They like their baby wash.  But they are 6 now and stink at the end of the day.

Maybe I will market this stuff.  Maybe I will get rich enough to be able to afford to buy a new shower caddy.  With a working middle button.

Number two is no longer my lucky number.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Friday, December 2, 2011

frosted flakes of thought

I was rushing yesterday morning, trying to get things finished up at home and get out the door to work.  Steve had been away for a couple of days, and I had dog duty.  Dog duty at our house means you better let the Labs out to run at least once a day, or Gabe (the biggest Lab) will remove the gate and let himself out.

I was going to let them out in the evening, as I had done the day before, but when I stepped out in the morning chill I saw a thick layer of frost on my windshield.  I scowled at the car, and knew I would have to defrost that windshield before I left.

Being the multitasker that I am, I quickly calculated that defrosting the windshield would take just long enough to let the dogs out to run.  So I turned the engine on, set the defroster on high, and walked around to the dog pen to free the pooches.

They shot through the gate, Gabe stopping briefly to slobber a good morning welcome on my hand as he rushed past me.  Caesar and Sammy sprinted off in two different directions, and old Biscuit slowly made her way out of the pen, walking past me blindly without stopping.

I walked back around to the car to see how the defrosting was progressing, and saw it had several minutes to go.  As I stood there by the car, my vision slowly refocused.  Maybe the better description would be that my sight refocused.  I started becoming more aware of the smell and crispness of the air, and how the frost was melting rapidly in the morning sunlight, water dripping in slow plopping drops onto the front steps.  I could hear it dripping, plop, plop as I looked down at the patch of grass in shadow under my feet.  The car had created a small oasis of shade, and Jack Frost was hanging onto his patch of grass with desperation, but the sun was winning.

Then I looked closer, bending over at the waist to get a good look at the leaves, and the blades of grass, covered in frost.  They looked spiky and sharp.  I grabbed my iPhone and began to take some close up photos of what I was looking at.  It was my way of remembering the sights, smells and sounds of this frosty morning.

As I looked at the frost, I began to feel a little melancholy.  The frost was rapidly disappearing, and it made me realize how transient the moments of our lives are.  I also realized how easy it is to miss the small stuff, the important moments, and get caught up in the daily rush of routine, the mundaneness of daily existence.

I realized (once again) that it is important to take these moments we have, to refocus for just a few minutes out of every day, and take a look around.  Focus on the details.  Enjoy them, and realize the importance of these small moments in our lives.

Enjoy your day today.  Look around you.  What do you see...what do you really see?

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

more than just me

I have been following a website called Write on Edge, a community dedicated to providing inspiration and support for writers.  Today's prompt was to post a favorite photograph of myself, and in 300 words explain who I was in the photo, and what the photo meant to me.

Ok, I thought to myself, this was going to be an epic fail.  I don't have many photos of me.  None that I would share anyway.  Usually I am the one behind the camera, because I am serious about my photography as a craft, (and I take the best photos in the family).  I have thousands of photos of everyone.  There was one small folder on my hard drive labeled "me" with photos I used for websites.  Nothing really exciting.  I looked forlornly through the folder, thinking this prompt was going to be a bust for me.

Then I saw it.  A photo taken by my sister in 2008.  It was taken at Mankas Corner, a favorite teen hangout of ours. Now it sports an attractive little cafe with outdoor seating.  It appealed to us, so we stopped for lunch.  It was a perfect California spring day.  We took photos of us with my camera, another memory to share.

Why do I love this photo?  Because every time I look at it, I think of Vix.  How she loves me, no matter my mood, or behavior.  Every time we are together, is a perfect moment in time.  Vix's love is unconditional, accepting, supportive, and full of the laughter and tears of a lifetime spent together.

So you see, this isn't just me in the photo.  It is me...with my sister.  She is there.  If I squint my eyes and look carefully, I can see her right beside me.


~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Monday, November 21, 2011

confession: holiday decorating memories

Getting ready for the holidays can be stressful.  Oh, I'm not talking about all you Martha Stewart wannabes who love the challenge of creating a 6 foot Christmas tree out of the empty toilet paper tubes you have been collecting for a year.  You rise to the challenge, year after year.  Creating beauty out of thin air and magic.  You take the leftover turkey carcass from Thanksgiving and turn it into a Santa's Sleigh centerpiece.  You carve the jellied cranberry sauce into a wreath shaped side dish for your holiday feast, as you fill your homes with the sweet music of Christmas and mistletoe covered cat perches.

I'm not knocking you.  Oh, contraire.  I admire you.  Because I used to be just like you.  Well, sort of.  For about 35 years I spent the pre-Christmas season getting worked into a creative frenzy, so much so that by the big day I was a zombie and couldn't remember half of what happened due to exhaustion.  Some years do come to mind though.

There was the year I made stuffed animals.  Not just for my kids, but for the nieces and nephew too.  That adds up to about 10 big animals.  Bears and dogs mostly.  And let me tell you, sewing fake fur is no fun.  I broke so many sewing machine needles trying to sew that material that I kept at least one needle manufacturing company in business all on my own.  Not only did I have to sew those animals, but stuff every last leg and head too.  And animals always have four legs.  There were eyes to sew on.  Even though the kids were big enough to know not to chew the eyes off (I think they were all 5 years and older at the time), I always believed in safety.  Those legs and eyes weren't going anywhere when I finished them.

Then I discovered gingerbread house making.  My sister-in-law showed me how to make a precious little gingerbread cottage and decorate it with candy.  She had learned to do it while she and her husband were stationed overseas in Germany.  I took that little cottage to a whole different level.  The culmination of my gingerbread making career was a Noah's Ark, with pairs of animals on it.  I know, Noah's Ark isn't very Christmasy.  But it was all about design for me, what I could make out of gingerbread.  Good Housekeeping magazine had a gingerbread house issue every year that I drooled over, with gingerbread craft at a level of difficulty I could only dream of.  Noah's Ark was as complicated as I ever dared try.  I figured making all those animals made up for not being able to make a Victorian gingerbread house with real working electric lights in it.

Dessert making during the holidays was my niche too.  The others in the family would prepare the meal.  My contribution was always some special recipe or two or three that I had run across.  I think the low point of my career as a Christmas Dessert Maker was the German Chocolate Cheesecake that tasted like chocolate vomit.  After that I stuck to cookies and pies, cakes, that sort of thing.

So I pass my Martha Stewart hat to those of you who are more creative and better organized than I am.  I'll be spending my Christmas season with a glass of wine and Stevie Wonder, watching old reruns of Christmas Vacation and Miracle on 34th Street on television.

And thinking of all of you as you rush to make the perfect decorations and food.

As I sit and look at my thirty-five dollar, four foot tall fake Christmas tree with the twinkly lights.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Thursday, November 17, 2011

lessons in etiquette from a 6 year old

I have 4 grandkids.  God chose to bless me with three of them within a six month period.  I had just started thinking that having grandkids might be nice and BOOM, there came Jack, then the twins arrived 6 months later. My life has never been the same since.  Jack, Maddie Kate and Duncan have added a dimension to my life that I did not realize was possible, and John, the baby, is just icing on the cake.  Life is sweeter now than it has ever been.

There is a dark side to a six year old that I didn't realize existed.  I swear I don't remember my kids being anything like these three.  I think the reason they are different is group think.  One six year old is manageable. Put three together and you have a whirlwind.  An uncontrollable whirlwind.  They think and act differently.  And what they believe to be true is never anywhere even remotely close to what is actually true.

I am sharing some of the things the kids have learned along the way about etiquette.  I shudder to think they might grow up and still use these tactics.  I don't pray for grandkids now.  That prayer was answered.  These days I pray they will outgrow some of these things they do.  Especially #2.

1. It's ok to eat another 6 year old's food to keep him from getting in trouble for not cleaning up all his food.  Especially when you are waiting for him to finish so you can both have a BombPop.
2. Picking your nose is ok.  Wiping the booger on Gramps' new truck seat is a BIG mistake.
3. It's always ok to laugh loudly when someone farts.  Even if it's an adult doing the farting.  Even in a public place.
4. Proper etiquette dictates not only do you laugh when someone farts, but you discuss how loud it was, if it smelled, and the quality of the sound it made in the loudest voice possible.
5. It is ok to want to see blood if someone is hurt and bleeding.  And quite proper to then talk about how gross the wound was.  It is not ok to hit your cousin with a sharp instrument to cause the wound you want to see.
6. Food is not just for eating.  It is also for dropping in the floor and smearing on body parts to make your cousins laugh.
7. It's never ok to delay leaving for school by acting like you don't know how to dress yourself.  Especially when your mommy is already mad because you have made her late.
8. Getting dressed for school takes forever.  Getting dressed to go outside to ride your four wheeler breaks all records for speed.  It is the theory of attraction in action.
Maddie Kate
9. Telling Grammy and Gramps you work at McDonald's and they can just drop you off on their way home will never be believable.  Because they know you don't mop floors.  Because you are a slug.
10. Having a food fight at the table is grossly unacceptable.  So is trying to get that last tater tot out of the floor and eat it before the dog gets to it.
11. Pretending you are deaf and feeding your meal to the dogs because you don't like it will never be believed by your grandparents.  They know that if they mention chocolate chip cookies, you will hear them from the other end of the house.
12. Free jumping from the back of the couch or the bed to the floor will get you in hot water.  Even if it is your Gramps' fault because he let you bake chocolate chip cookies and eat them at 5 PM.
13. It is never ok to shine a flashlight in your grandparents' faces because you are doing a bed check at 5AM to see if anyone else is awake.

If you have grandkids, you know these things I speak of are true, proven theories in what 6 year olds believe.  If you don't have grandkids, you'll just have to have faith and believe what I say.  These are all absolutes in the world of children.

Every day with these yayhoos is an adventure.  Every single day.  Exhausting, hair raising,  aggravating, laughter-filled...and I wouldn't change one thing.

Except the boogers maybe.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Monday, November 14, 2011

imagine my award!

Imagine my surprise when I was contacted on Facebook a while ago by Shellie Sakei and given the Versatile Blogger Award!  Shellie and I struck up a friendship on Twitter months ago, but I had no idea she even was aware I wrote a blog.  She writes over at Shellie Sakei and is pursuing a writing career, for which I commend her.  Check out her blog.  Shellie is a very focused writer, and I believe she will be published someday.  Which makes it all the more special that she passed this award to me.  Thanks, Shellie.

Part of the responsibility of sharing this award is that I have to tell 7 things about myself, and pass this award to 15 bloggers.  Well, if you have been reading this blog, you know I like to change things.  I changed the "this moment" series on Fridays to suit my creativity, and soooo, I am changing this up a bit.  Especially since I have received this award once before.  Call it metamorphosis.

So I will list my favorite bloggers first.  There are more than 15 (twisted rule one).  This is a group of bloggers I joined months ago.  The owners of the group set a challenge to blog and comment on each members blog twice a week for three months, and three months later there were still quite a few of us left standing.  Here is the group as it stands today, and it is probably my favorite group of people to blog and chat with.  The writers have different styles, different focuses, and come from all walks of life in locations all over the world.  The support and friendship I have gained from knowing them is immeasurable, and has propelled me forward when I stagnated, and given me feedback when I didn't know if what I wrote was worth reading.  I hope you will check these blogs out.  For a hit and run reader like me, to have one group that I stick with, is the best compliment I can give them.  

Here they are:

The other requirement for this award is that I share 7 things about myself (as if I haven't shared enough already!):

  1. I laugh a lot.  And easily.  Sometimes inappropriately.
  2. I think I was born with a paintbrush/pencil in my hand.  I can't remember NOT having one and putting my world on paper or canvas.
  3. I'm curious about everything.
  4. I love to fish, especially when I out fish Stevie Wonder.  But don't ask me to eat fish.  Ugh.
  5. Color sets my brain on fire.  It brings about emotions so strong I can't really express them.
  6. Having a camera in my hand feels like an extension of my body.  Taking photos makes me feel like I am sharing pure emotion.
  7. I am passionate about caring for those less fortunate.  And when I see someone doing wrong, I can't keep my mouth shut.  

And there you award...thanks again to Shellie for sharing it with me...and thanks to the day we first tweeted each other.  She's a wonderful person, and I encourage you to check out her blog.

If I haven't learned anything else, I know now that writing is work.  Yes, it's rewarding, but it's work all the same.  Some days I wonder why I ever started blogging.  Then I sit down and start typing, and realize it is because it is another way to create.  Sharing thoughts is what brought me to blogging, and keeps me reading and writing.

What do you like to share?  

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Friday, November 11, 2011

a sister moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
“This Moment” is a ritual I found on Pamanner's Blog, via Life inspired by the Wee Man adopted from SouleMama.  Check out their blogs, and if you are moved too, please leave a link to your Moment in the comment box below.

Have a great weekend and make some great memory moments!

~cath xo

Twitter @jonesbabie

Thursday, November 10, 2011

what about the children?

Joe Paterno has been fired.  That is the focus of the news this morning.  As I read it and listen to the television blaring about it, all I can think of is the children.

They say how sad it is to see Paterno end a 46 year career like this.  How upsetting it is to see the campus and university affected by this.

What about the children?  What about the responsibility of adults to take care of the safety of children.  What about the children who were molested, physically and psychologically harmed, by a pedophile who, because of the silence of those with knowledge of his act, were in effect, perpetrators as well?

What about the children?  What about the unseen scars that they will bear the rest of their lives?

What about the children that might have been saved, had someone spoken up and done the right thing?  All it would have taken was one person speaking up.  That's all.

I told my husband, when the news first hit the public, that this would bring Paterno down.  Why?

Because he had a responsibility to follow through.  Yes he reported it.  Nothing was done.  Why didn't he question it?  Why?  I believe when you are a leader, you have a responsibility to follow through, no matter what people might say.  To do the right thing.  Even when it might mean a scandal.  I believe Paterno should have followed through, and he didn't.  Only he can answer why he didn't.

And don't say it's because the description of the incident given to him wasn't as graphic as what has now been told.  That's rationalization.  He should have followed through.  Demanded some answers.  Was he afraid he'd lose his job if he pursued it?  Or did he just forget about it?  Only he can answer that.

I have become so jaded and disillusioned about people in high power.  There is a saying, my father-in-law, a wise man, used to tell me.

"Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

I believe that.  And I grieve for these children.  And am deeply disturbed and disgusted that so many people took no steps to protect the children.

What about the children?  What will become of them now?  How will they piece their lives back together?

I have no answers.  Just a feeling of deep, deep, sadness and grief.

Twitter @jonesbabie

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Once again, the beauty of nature overwhelms...and the need to share with you the emotions caused by what my eyes perceive.  Never as good as the experience of the moment, photography and verse come as close to describing what I see and feel as anything I could try to share.  My gift to you...

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Monday, November 7, 2011

the marriage bed

Growing up, I always shared a room with my sister.  We had beds that converted from bunk, to trundle, to side by side twin beds.  Vix was a good roommate.  We respected each other's space, and had a good relationship.

Why am I telling you that?  Because the day I was married, all that changed.  I stepped into a strange land of cohabitation that after 41 years still requires getting adjusted to.  I am not talking about Stevie Wonder, the man I married, except in the sense of the physical space he occupies.
our fake wedding photo, Reno, Nevada, 1970
I am talking about the marriage bed.  No one prepares you for that when you get married.  They talk about relationships, and getting along, and maybe even your sex life, to prepare you.  But they don't tell you about the bed.  What it is like to lay next to another human being as you sleep, and share the same space that they occupy.

I was in shock on our wedding night.  We got a room in a cheap motel that had a double bed in it.  It felt strange sleeping in a double bed.  The first night I didn't get much sleep.  We were 4 feet from the ice machine outside, and it cranked out a load of ice about once an hour, making a loud racket when it did.  And if the machine wasn't cranking out ice, then someone was slamming the door on it open and rattling around filling the cheap plastic ice bucket that cheap motels provide.

Then there was the fact that I had to decide how much of the bed was mine.  I suddenly realized that for the rest of my life, the physical space in the bed would literally be only half mine.  It was a strange concept, and added to my trouble sleeping that night.  We made it through.  Barely.

Over the years we have had some strange beds.  It started with the first bed in our walk up apartment.  Mom had short-sheeted the bed while we were in Reno, Nevada getting married.  And we discovered that the slats under the bed tended to get sideways and the bed would fall, usually in the middle of the night while we were sound asleep.  The neighbors probably thought there were some pretty active shenanigans going on upstairs, but they never said a word about it to us.  And we never got the bed fixed because we were only there for a few short months.  We developed a little routine.  Bed falls, we get up, lift the mattress and box springs and replace the fallen slat.  Back into bed.  It went smoothly, actually.

There have been hard beds, soft beds, beds that crackled with every turn (cheap mattress), and beds that were comfortable enough that I thought I could sleep in them forever and never get up.  I don't know how many beds we've been through over the years.  But we finally graduated, years ago, to a king size bed.  Steve may think he is the king of the castle, but that bed is big so that I can dodge him when he flails in his sleep and smacks me in the head with his hand.  The first time Steve smacked me like that, I accused him of hitting me, but I have learned over the years that he is a violent sleeper, and often moves suddenly.  He also strips pillow cases off in his sleep as he moves, and quite frequently strips the sheets off the corners of the bed on his side.  That also took me a while to get used to.

When I think of what has happened with our beds over the years, I am often reminded of the episode of I Love Lucy when the Ricardos swap beds with the Mertzes because the double bed they have has a deep sink hole in the middle.  Ethel pulls Fred off the bunk bed he is on and shoves him in the double bed, pinning him to the bed frame facing the wall and then climbs in and goes to sleep.  That is what a true marriage is.  Knowing what your partner needs to sleep.

I was watching television the other night and Stevie Wonder called to me from the bedroom.  I wondered what he was up to as I walked in.  There on the bed on a mattress we paid way too much for (that feels like sleeping on a rock), was a new 2 1/2 inch memory foam overlay, and  new powder blue sheets made of soft polished cotton.

He really does love me, this stranger in my bed.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie