Tuesday, June 28, 2011

genghis fly and the horde

I got home from work yesterday hot and tired.  It's summer in the south, and feels like we are living three inches from hell.  I get through the summer thinking about how wonderful fall is.   Cool crisp air, autumn leaves in golds and reds.  Steve gets through summer thinking of autumn too.  Football.

As I dream of cooler temperatures I tell Steve hi.  And hear something buzz past my ear.  Damn fly.  I hate them.  Nasty harbingers of maggots to come.  I tell Steve.  He says "I know there are several in here and I killed a couple."

As I walk in the kitchen I notice that there are several flies.  There are more than several.  There are a bunch.  A bunch of flies is equal to at least ten.

Him: I don't know where they came from.  There's your chicken, wrapped in the sink and thawed, I have the rest nearly ready.
Me: Is that deer you are cooking?
Him: yes.
Me: I changed my mind I don't want anything.

So I put the chicken in the fridge and walk away.  He thinks I am mad, but the combination of flies, heat, and the odor of cooking deer combined make my appetite go far, far away.

I go back in the living room and notice.  More flies on the storm door.  By more I mean at least 15.

Now I am starting to look around the room.  REALLY look around.

And there are dozens.  Upon dozens.  I open the back door and caught between the door and storm door are more than I can count.  On the inside, and on the outside, trying to get in.

I am shuddering in disgust as I shriek for Steve to do something.  So he does.

He leaves. He covers his food and leaves.

To go get fly spray.  While he is gone I start swatting.  I feel like my flyswatter has turned into a lightsaber.  I start to feel the Jedi emerge in me.  I swat, thrust, parry, pivot and duck, swat.  The FORCE IS WITH ME.

Then Steve gets back and I hear the sssshhhhhhhh of fly spray.  He is working his way in, weapon drawn and mowing down flies in a wide swath.  I hear the screams of the dying horde.

Ok, so that was a bit over the top.  They weren't screaming.  But they were buzzing.  And when he sprayed the house, and the windows in the bathroom and wreck room...you could hear a loud hum.  REALLY.  There were so many that they made a loud vibrating hum as their little wings beat the air in the fatal dance of fly mortality.

Steve and I stood there and looked at each other.  And we never did figure out where they came from.

But I do know we got their leader.  He was the biggest, hairiest fly of the bunch.

Genghis Fly.

He's gone too now.  And his horde with him.  Swallowed by my Dyson.

But they will live on in legend.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Saturday, June 25, 2011

bouncing the boardwalk

On Friday June 24, 2011 I posted my moment, a photo memory that is not explained.  It is a tradition started by one blogger, and borrowed by others who found it a unique way to share a moment in our lives.

There were several questions about a couple photos that day.  (I posted three photos instead of the usual one because I just couldn't decide which to post.)  The photo of the boardwalk got the most comments, so I decided to explain it.

In 2009, I travelled to Bethel, Alaska.  (Read about that here.)  It is 400 miles from Anchorage, and about 40 miles from the Bering Sea. It is a fairly large town for that part of Alaska, and has a hospital that serves about 48 villages, give or take a few.  The only way in to Bethel is by plane.  Travel between the villages and Bethel is by small aircraft, and Alaska Airline sends three flights a day to Bethel.  If you miss the last flight in or out, there is no plane until the next day.  On top of this, the planes hold passengers in the back half, with the front half being reserved for cargo. So you board in the rear of the plane, and never see who is piloting the big bird.

Bethel has a population of about 5,000 people.  Give or take a few.  There are about 7 miles of paved road in Bethel, the main one being from the airport to the downtown area.  These roads connect Bethel residents to each other, but go nowhere.  The tundra surrounds the town.

Let me explain about the tundra.  It is flat.  Flatter than flat.  And marshy.  Berries grow profusely in the summer, and everything that is green grows at a phenomenal rate, because there is about 3 hours of dusky day, and the rest is sunny.  This is the land of the midnight sun after all.

I loved Bethel in the winter, when I arrived.  (Photos of Alaska in winter here.)  But I grew to love it even more in the summer.  Mosquitos the size of small birds would eat me alive (I bought enough OFF to have owned a majority in the company), and weather was so mild no air conditioners were needed.  Skies so blue that the horizon seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see.  And clouds so full and low you felt as though you could reach up and touch them.  It was heaven on earth.  And magnificent beyond my dreams.

So how do people get around in a marshy land, when they are not driving or walking on the paved roads?  They walk.  Everyone walks.  There is a ratio of about 1 cab for every 20 people (it seems like) but the ride costs $5.  One way.  Anywhere you go in Bethel.  So most walk.

And the boardwalk is what is used to get from one place to another, a shortcut across the marshy tundra.  It lead directly from my apartment to the downtown area, to the one large store in town (like a small Wal Mart).  Because these boardwalks are built on spongy marsh, they give when you walk or ride a bike on them (although you really aren't supposed to ride bikes on them).  There is a spring beneath your feet from the boards that makes walking on them almost a dance.

I am sharing some more photos of the Bethel boardwalk, in the Alaskan summer.  For such an isolated place, there is a oneness with nature there that is hard to grasp unless you stand there, and gaze at the sky, look around you, and breathe the purity of the air.

I was blessed to have experienced it.  It is etched in my memory forever.

Bouncing across the boardwalk, absorbing it all.

Alaska the beautiful.  Alaska the magnificent.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Friday, June 24, 2011

decisions, decisions...this 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.

“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, fun-filled weekend!  I am going to lay like broccoli. :D
~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

flat as a flitter

What is a flitter you say?

I am not sure, but I do know this:

1. You only find it in the south.
2. You can't get flatter than that.
3. It is flatter than a pancake.
4. Flatter than a piece of paper laying flat on top of a flat top desk.

And I know one thing more importantly.

Tonight I am that flitter.

All the stuffing is gone out of me.   Removed by three rambunctious 6 year olds this week.  And a job that produces prodigious mountains of profusely self-reproducing paperwork.

So I am flat.  As a flitter.  Put there by:

1. three four leelers (well, Mad says it is "wheeler" now "and Dunc is WRONG")
2. one whole day of a Vesuvius of erupting vomitus
3. one wasp sting on a little foot
4. one Tarzan movie, viewed in its entirety for two days in a row
5. another wasp sting to the same small foot (Maddie saying plaintively: "Grammy, why did I get stung on the SAME FOOT?"
6. an army of soldiers, with a few firemen and pirates thrown in for good measure, decamped in every nook and cranny of my house, just waiting to lay ambush to me
7. mud puddle baths
8. mud pies
9. every towel in my house covered by mud from said puddles and pies
10. crumbs from every meal strewn to every room
11. sand in every bed on the sheets I just washed the vomit out of 2 days ago.

So leave me be.  I am flittering life away.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Monday, June 20, 2011

i'm a pepper he's a pepper

As I was awash in vomit today and cranky grandkids and a husband I was wishing lived on another planet, I took a moment to relive last weekend.  It was the only way I could keep my sanity.

This morning at 3AM Jack woke up crying...he'd gone to bed without supper because he stayed at his dad's house playing video games until almost bedtime.  Of course even though he might have eaten here, he refused.  (Jack's lack of appetite in a family of robust eaters is fast becoming an urban legend.)

So here was Jack, waking me up telling me he was hungry and his stomach hurt.  In my half-roused state I heard the hungry part and ignored the other, and fed him some water and a half of a half of a banana (yes, that is about average for him) and we laid back down so I could get a couple more hours sleep.  I had been up until midnight because I took a nap (big mistake) and so I felt like I had sand in my eyes, literally.

About an hour later Jack wanted more water.  I gave it to him.

An hour after that he turned into a vomit geyser.  And Maddie caught the geyser right in the mouth.  She promptly turned over, spat the vomit in my face, bringing me out of a sound sleep and as I raised up choking and spitting she screamed "Jack just vomited in my mouth!  I'm gonna be sick!" 

She took off running to the other end of the house, screaming at the top of her lungs (we might as well all be up at 5AM), and I heard Steve bellowing as I watched the last of the banana water hit my sheets.  And in between all that Maddie vomited too.

Then multiple things happened the next few hours.  Jack got cleaned up, climbed into our bed after Steve and Dunc got up, and vomited in that bed and over the side.

Steve was hollering at him as though he could plan where and when he would vomit.  I need to remind the reader at this point that Jack is 6 years old.  Steve treated him like he was sabotaging us with vomit until I finally called to tell them at work I had too much vomit going on to come in.  Then I threw Steve's ass out of the house so I could deal with a sick kid, two well kids, and not have to listen to him rampage.

FINALLY, after hours, everything settled down.  Jack was resting.  Steve was doing what he enjoys most...shopping for food.  The other kids were watching a movie.

So I decided it would be a good time to go through the photos I took last weekend and relive a happier time, because today sure wasn't one of them.  As I edited and looked, I started remembering how hot it was that day.  Alabama in the summer feels like it is three inches from hell.

Last weekend Steve, his sister Jean and I decided to get out, and we had a marvelous time.  Outdoor markets are always teeming with people, the smells of food, music in the air and lots to see and do, and this was no exception.  It is called Pepper Place Market because it is located around the old Dr. Pepper manufacturing plant in a part of Birmingham that is full of old warehouses.  Many have been converted into small businesses, which gives the area an upbeat kind of mixed look, old with new.  It is open every Saturday from 7AM-Noon until sometime in the fall.  You can find vendors selling everything from food to fresh vegetables, ceramics, fresh flowers, batik, jewelry, breads, sauces and salsas.  Just about anything the mind can imagine.

I met two very nice ladies there.  One of them is called The Pie Lady (the one on the right), and she had an assortment of homemade sweets that would make your mouth water.  I asked if they would like to have their photo made, and they smiled and grabbed a cherry crumble to showcase.  I got their address and their business card so I could mail them a copy of the photos I took.  (I also took a couple photos of the Pie Lady's daughter and granddaughters.)  All very nice people.  Truly the heart of Dixie.

Oh and by the way, the apricot bars and whoopie pies were to die for.  I took one of each of those home with me.

The rest of the morning we spent going from booth to booth.  I picked up another pair of handmade earrings that will be Maddie's someday (read about that here).  These are hand twisted sterling silver with a small stone dangling from them.  Very artistic and well made.  I am always on the lookout for earrings, my favorite type of jewelry.  Especially handmade, unique pieces.

Here are my favorite photos I took at the Pepper Place Market, no explanation really needed:

Hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I am (between vomits anyway). :D
~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Sunday, June 19, 2011


My Dad has been gone for many years now...since August 2000...I was looking through a box of things I had gathered at the time of his death and found some photos and a card I decided to share today.
dad with us and cousins

dad and his buds
dad and his toy

teaching vix to golf
hands on teaching from dad

I bought the card when I was on a trip somewhere and ran across it while browsing.  I thought it would make a perfect Father's Day card.  The sentiments in it were exactly what I felt about Dad.

You'll notice it isn't signed?  That is because I forgot I had it.  By the time Father's Day rolled around, it was lying in some drawer collecting dust.  So Dad never saw this card.  I have had a lot of regret about it.  Not agonizing, because like my Dad, I am a realist.  But a little corner of my heart and spirit carries a teeny tiny bit of guilt, like a small bruise that isn't visible to the naked eye, but that causes you a little pain when you bump against it.  So from time to time, when I open that box, and see that card, I wish once again Dad could have read it.  And then I close the box, tie the ribbon around it once again, and move forward through my life.

Many of you have dads, or men in your lives, who mean a lot to you.  Some are still living, others have passed on to another plane of being.  There is nothing I can write about dads that you haven't read somewhere else.

If you have not had a dad in your life, or your dad wasn't the best dad, then I hope there was some man somewhere in your life you could look up to and learn from....a teacher, a friend...someone who could show you the true meaning of fathering.

I have written posts about every dad that meant something to me, so I decided to follow a fellow blogger's idea today and repost those here, for you to read (or reread) if you like.  These are about the men in my life that have had the most influence on me.

My Dad:

My other Dad:
my other dad

My son:
the son becomes the father

The love of my life:
the softness of a man

When you have a chance, tell the man or men in your life that you appreciate him/them. And say why.
Don't waste an opportunity.

Those opportunities might not always be there.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Friday, June 17, 2011

my big boy moment

a light to my eye
a heft to my hand
that made me think
"you are the one!"
alas, you deceived
and I was relieved
        to find
                    big girl
                             waiting to be...

Twitter @jonesbabie

...veering from the Friday no words ritual, I have written a few lines to share with you today... Big Boy was my Canon EOS 50D that died shortly after birth...and led me to adopt Big Girl.  If you click on the photo, you can see what his cause of death was...a faint line runs through the lower right hand corner, and caused fatal heart failure when he was 17 days old. :D 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

outted and outsmarted

I have been chewing on this post since last weekend.  And came to realize something about myself that I hadn't recognized.  It took a comment by my oldest daughter to bring about this epiphany.

I don't like crowds.  I don't like crowds in general, but the crowds I am talking about now are the social crowds.  Those places where groups of people gather and socialize.

I hate them.  With a passion.  I always knew I hated them.  But I didn't know why.  For years I would go to gatherings, and escape as soon as I could.

Immediate family gatherings were no problem.  It's the extended family that I get nervous around.  Mother's Day is also Decoration at the local church cemetery here in my community.  It is a tradition to decorate the graves in the (very) old cemetery with flowers the day before "Decoration", and then go look at the flowers you put on the graves the day before.  It was an odd custom to me, but I did it, because it was expected of me.  After a few years of standing around talking to people I didn't know or barely knew, I stopped going. 

After going to the cemetery, it was the custom to have a big dinner with all the relatives within driving distance.  Steve always enjoyed that part.  But as soon as I could, I made my escape home.  I was lucky enough to live next door.

I am so uncomfortable talking about this that my arms are itching.  And I am thinking about the reunion that my family went to last weekend.  High school.  The school my kids and my husband and his sisters all attended.  The school is gone now, but they were expecting a huge crowd.  And it was huge.  Everyone was there.

Except two people.  My youngest daughter Deborah (Wretch).  And me. (Oh, and my son Jim, who had to work.  He would have been there.  He's like his dad that way.)

I was listening to Jen (my oldest) talking to her dad about why Wretch wasn't there.  She told him that Wretch told her that she doesn't like crowds, and avoids social situations like that whenever she can.

Then Jen said "she gets it from Mom.  Mom has never liked to be in crowds like that either."

I was stunned.  My daughter understood my anxiety better than I did.  It was like a light exploded in my head.

Or maybe it was just the fact that I finally acknowledged it.

I can stand in front of a crowd and speak.  I've done that many times, through graduate school and beyond.  I can talk to groups of any size at work.  Students, clients, staff.  No problem.

Just don't ask me to make small talk in a social situation.  I feel like an idiot.  Like everything I have to say is stupid.  So I avoid. 

Will I change?  Probably not...

But I will have Margaritas with a friend from work on Thursday at the local Mexican restaurant during happy hour.

I've been outted by my daughter, who understands me way better than I understand myself...

When did my kids get smarter than me?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

the rat turd race

Gramps will do just about anything to entertain the grandkids.  Even if it means balancing on a kid's four wheeler and racing his granddaughter around the yard.

Maddie was loving the race this morning.  And being the gracious girl she is...she let the biggest rat win.  Even though she could have smoked him if she had decided to.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Mine has gone to the rats.