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 surprise...an 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 are...my 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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

no to november

This sums up how I feel, and how I function at my creative best...November is starting, and my mind is awhirl with the possibilities that lie ahead.  What are your plans for November?  Are you centered and focused, or living in a maelstrom?  I'd love to hear from y'all.  Your thoughts?

~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie