Friday, December 20, 2013

for you, chris, the story of the two AJs

Take a moment out of your hectic day, and watch this.  It stopped me dead in my tracks the other morning, and made me realize that even though we see the worst of humanity broadcast every day in the media, there is also a lot of good that takes place.  Many stories go untold.  This is one that was discovered and shared by a local news station, ABC 33/40 here in Birmingham, Alabama.  It touched my heart and made me realize that it doesn't take a big effort to make a difference in someone's life.  This story is one example.


I share this for Chris, my nephew, who is a special person in my life.  Chris can't speak, but I am sure if he could, he would say "thanks Aunt Cathy". 

...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Sunday, December 8, 2013

funny moments

Maddie and Jack age 4

There is enough in life to frustrate and aggravate you on a daily basis when you are an adult.  When I feel like I am about to hit the boiling point, I try to let go and think like a child.  I have four children in my life that help me to keep this perspective.  And the laughter and joy they bring me is what helps me keep a positive attitude, or correct my attitude or mood when I feel as though I am about to take a negative turn.

Steve shared a story about Jack yesterday with me that made us both laugh.  Children are the most guileless people on the planet when they are small.  They can try to put one over on you, but they trip themselves up every single time.  That was what Jack encountered the day he told Gramps he wanted a glass of milk.  Gramps told him that there wasn't any milk, all we had was buttermilk.  That was when the fun began.

Jack: I'll take buttermilk, I like buttermilk.
Gramps: I am not sure you will like it Jack, it tastes different.  It doesn't taste like milk.
Jack: Sure I like it.  I LOVE buttermilk.
Gramps: I don't think you do Jack.
Jack: (Even more insistently now) I LOVE BUTTERMILK.  My Mom gives me BUTTERMILK all the time, and I love it!
Gramps: OK Jack.

Then Gramps poured Jack a big glass of buttermilk.  Jack took a big swig of it, and ran for the sink.  He spewed the buttermilk out of his mouth like a geyser, and into the sink.  Gramps said (with a smirk on his face) "I thought you liked buttermilk Jack?"

Jack said:
I THOUGHT I DID TOO BUT THAT STUFF TASTES CRAPPY!

The whole time Jack was talking, he was scraping his tongue, trying to get every last drop of buttermilk out of his mouth.

Jack has never asked for buttermilk since that day.


...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Monday, December 2, 2013

silly stuff


And sometimes it's the stupid stuff that gets you through each day...

Because laughter doesn't have any thing to do with intelligence, but is all about sharing a connection...

Copy and paste this in your browser (it's a safe link even though it looks like junk):
http://www.jibjab.com/view/fr9xTZLhR7uB5LOMoSKIpA?utm_campaign=URL+Copy&utm_content=elf_dance_app_5&utm_medium=Share&utm_source=JibJab&cmpid=jj_url

Or you might try this one (the only thing on my Facebook that I have posted public):

and if those links didn't work, then you'll have to wonder what I was doing. :)

I call this the grandkid shuffle (I threw the dog in so they would have an extra dancer...it was either that or put Gramps in and he is the brunt of my jokes often enough.  I figured it was time to give Gramps a break and humiliate the dog.  The grandkids?  By the time they are old enough to be embarrassed by this, I'll be dead anyway...soooo.....

Grammy strikes again. :)

...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter





Sunday, December 1, 2013

quiet time

The best time of the day for me are those precious minutes after the grand kids have collapsed and before I collapse right behind them.  They are bundles of energy, but when that energy is depleted, they deflate like a cheap spare tire that's had too many miles put on it.  Last week while school was out for the Thanksgiving holiday that is celebrated here in the US, Maddie looked at me and said in her little girl voice:
"Grammy, would you come lay down with me until I go to sleep?"

She is a restless sleeper, and has a bit of apprehension when she lays down at night.  So being the good Grammy I am, I said sure, figuring I would fall asleep too and wake up hours later with my contacts glued to my eyeballs.

But I didn't go to sleep.  I lay beside her on the bottom bunk bed for less than 5 minutes, and listened to her breathing slow down, and become rhythmic and even.  I looked over at her and realized she had drifted off, just that fast.  Then I looked again.  At her smooth skin, her innocent face, and how peaceful she looked.  I took this photo of her, and when I look at it now, I can remember that moment with perfect clarity.
I think of Maddie, and that moment in time when I listened to her breathing, and kissed that soft cheek.

It also brought back sweet memories of my own children, now long grown to adulthood, and the many nights I tucked them in and told them I loved them, before they went to sleep.  Those few minutes each day gave me time to realize that no matter what the day brought, turmoil, happiness, sadness, anger, or laughter, ending the day with peacefulness and quiet time let my babies put their spirits to rest, and prepare for whatever adventure met them the next day.

Quiet time.  My time to be thankful for every baby in my life, young or grown.  The glue that holds me together.

...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Sunday, November 24, 2013

lessons i have (recently) learned

The grandkids and granddog are here this weekend, and as usual, they are teaching me some important life lessons:

1. No matter how fast I work, two hands and a container of Clorox Clean-Ups cannot keep up with the drips and messes that three 8 year olds, a 3 year old, a 66 year old, and one 6 month old Golden Retriever can make.  The math simply doesn't compute.  I was outnumbered before I picked up the container.

2. Lucy the Golden Retriever holds a grudge.  No matter how lovely her bath experience is, complete with mood lighting and incense, said dog will still get up in the middle of the night and urinate in the carpet to show who has the last word (or pee).  Then she will smile about it.

3. Gramps will cook breakfast for the kids, but he won't clean up the dog's urine.  But he will be considerate enough to wake me up at 6 AM on my day off to tell me the the dog peed the carpet. AFTER I clean up the pee spot, Gramps will tell me it probably happened because he closed the bedroom door during the night.  Too many night lights (read every lamp in the house on) disturbed his sleep, and he forgot that the dog would need to be able to get to ME to let me know she had to go out.  So peeing on the carpet was all my fault.

4. Telling the grands they stink is not an effective way to shame them into taking a bath.  They take pride in stinking.  The only effective tool is withholding cookies until they do get up and hit the shower.

5. Kids riding 4 wheelers in the yard is an effective way to exercise Lucy the dog.  It also keeps Lucy's attention and prevents wandering.  Until you want her to come in.  Then she turns into a greased pig and you can't lay a finger on her.


6. Guilt over forgetting your granddaughter's antibiotic will cause a return trip a day later to pick up the medicine for the cure.  Seventy miles of guilty road trip.  Although I still have to bear the burden of missing a couple doses.  (The bonus: all 4 kids get to stay with son and drive him crazy for a few hours.)  

7. Grandchildren will never spare your feelings if it means lying.  Maddie yesterday: "Grammy I hate to tell you this but this gravy doesn't taste good and I can't eat it."  I made that gravy from scratch, rather than the packaged crap Gramps fixes.  Maddie prefers the packaged crap powdered gravy.

8. It never pays to clean up my house before the grands arrive.  Five minutes after they get here, it looks like it did five minutes after they arrived for their LAST visit.  Which actually adds some symmetry to my life.

9.  I am the only one who can hear in this family.  The grands, Steve, Jim, and the granddog are all deaf to the sound of my voice.  But their noses all work fine.  They can smell a meal cooking from a mile away.

10. Maddie makes awesome meatballs.  Especially when I remember to tell her to go wash the dog hair off her hands before she gets too far into rolling them.  (We only had a few fuzzy meatballs in the pot, not even enough to cause a hairball in the throat.)

11. If you take a nap at my house when Sunday
dinner is ready, be prepared to eat tuna fish out of the package and gingerbread cookies.  Gramps might cook enough to feed us all, but when the spoon starts dipping servings, it is every woman for herself.  Even if the only reason you had to have the nap was because the dog kept licking your arm all night because she was lonely. 

12. Lucy can outrun us all.  So Steve doesn't even try.  He lets her in, waits until she's run mud all over the house, then wipes her paws off.

I give up.  I'm outnumbered.   I have medication somewhere to help me get through this. :)


...life is good. ~cath
 @jonesbabie on Twitter

Sunday, November 17, 2013

my best friends forever

All our lives, but especially since adulthood and separation from each other, my sisters and I have been connected by an invisible thread.  I can be thinking about one or both of them, and I'll get a call.  The same is true of me calling them.  It can't be explained and I am not trying to.  It just exists.

Dooj mentioned something on Facebook the other day about needing to stay offline because of something the doctor had advised.  I saw it and left a humorous but sarcastic comment on her Facebook, then started worrying and decided to leave a message on her cell.  Immediately after I did that I called the middle sister, Vix, to see what she knew.  She usually knows everything that is going on.  Sure enough, she did.  But the first words out of her mouth were:

"I've been thinking a lot about you the past few days.  I knew you'd call."

Bingo.  The connection.  There it was again.  We talked about Dooj, she reassured me it was probably nothing to worry about, and we chatted on for a while, catching up on our daily lives.

Eventually Dooj called back, and reassured me as well.  It seems we share a similar medical condition right now, caused by the type of work we do (a lot of computer work).  We compared treatments, discussed it, and before we ended the conversation, she mentioned that she was sending me a little something, as well as sending a little something to Vix, and my daughters.  I really didn't think anymore about it until yesterday.

Steve and I heard people talking in our front yard after dark.  This is alarming, because we know our neighbors and live on a dead end road.  When we checked, it turned out to be the FedEx person, who had trouble finding our house (NOT the first time that has happened).  She gave Steve the box and he handed it to me.  "It's for you" he said.  I couldn't figure out why I would be getting a large box since I wasn't expecting anything (my memory of the conversation with Dooj having failed at that point).  Then I opened the box:

As I unwrapped and opened the things inside, I was overwhelmed.  Then I read the note Dooj had put inside:

She knew (both sisters did) that I'd been going through a tough time, one of the hardest of my life.  It's affected my mind, and my body, and made getting through many days a challenge.  I haven't elaborated to my sisters, but they knew.  Because we know each other.  They sensed my needs without a word from me.  How do I know this?  Because the very same day I got the box, this arrived in the mail from Vix:


The card was the hug I needed.  I felt last night that I had been hugged by both my sisters.  They knew.

They DO know.  I don't know what I would do without them.  They are my best friends, my rocks.  The only way I can express how I feel is with the words from a favorite poem of mine, by e. e. cummings:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
                                                   -e. e. cummings

Thank you sissies.  I love you Debra Kay and Vicky Lynne.  Always and forever.

...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

gramps and the scouts


For the past few years the twins have invited their Gramps to school on Veteran's Day.  He was in the Air Force, and Duncan and Maddie enjoyed Gramps being there when the Veterans are honored.  Last year and this year too they turned his name in, and the school made some kind of little certificate or something, and announced the name of the veteran or serviceman being honored.  The twins also have a half brother in the Air Force who just moved from his station in England to Arizona.  Last year Steve had to go up and get the certificate.  This year something different happened.

With all the hullabaloo going on in their lives (soccer, Jen's work and surgery, daily routine and weekend running around), Jen forgot to fill out the paper for Ian and Steve so the kids could turn it in by the deadline.  She filled it out, and let the kids turn it in Monday (it was due last Friday), and they did, just in the nick of time.  She told me about it when we got our nails done, and said she hoped Steve would come and I said I was sure he would.

Then 2 things happened.  Jen and I both forgot to mention it to Steve.  And I also forgot that I had made an appointment (years overdue) for Steve to have his eyes examined on the same day the program was happening.

None of this sounds too terribly upsetting or important in the scheme of things.  Except for one thing.

A little boy named Duncan would be wearing his Boy Scout uniform that day and marching in to the auditorium with his troop, with the US flag.

Duncan was counting on his Gramps to be there.

Early that morning Jen realized the fiasco and called to see if Gramps could make it.  Steve told her probably not because he had the eye appointment in Jasper, and just wasn't sure if he would be able to get from Jasper to Birmingham in time to see the program.  I heard Steve's end of the conversation and started my evil plotting.

When he got off the phone, I played the grandkid card.  How Dunc would be so disappointed (true) if he didn't get to see his Gramps honored (laid it on a little thick there).  Steve whined and hemmed and hawed, and said if they dilated his eyes he wouldn't be able to see to drive (true).  I told him there was no reason he couldn't tell them not to dilate his eyes this time (true) and he really, REALLY needed to try to go. Appointment was at 8:30AM and program was at 1PM.

Jen sent me a text at about 11:31 to tell me how guilty she felt to tell Dunc Gramps wouldn't be able to make it, and that she hated that she had to work and wouldn't be able to go.  I knew different though, because at 11:27 Gramps had called to say he was on his way to see the kids' program.  WITH HIS EYES DILATED AND DRIVING BLIND AS A BAT.

So when Jen sent me that text, I replied to tell her that "Gramps is going, and is on his way."  By the time she got my text, she had already decided to go to the program herself, so Dunc would have some family there.

Jen called Steve and told him she was taking the rest of the day off, and that Michael (her fiance) was going with her.

So not only did Dunc have Gramps there, he had his mommy and future step-father there too.

The end result: a happy, proud little boy.  And Maddie, who was in her Brownie uniform, got to also march in with the flag.  Score, score, for everyone.
Maddie, Gramps and a proud Dunc
The only one missing was me.  But I was at work, thinking about what a wonderful family I have, and how we always take care of each other.  Thinking about how much I love my grandkids.  And love their mommy who will go to almost any length to keep them from being disappointed.

And how I love the Gramps that will drive 64 miles one way, blind as a bat, to prevent a little boy from being disappointed.



...life is truly good. ~cath 
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ormigami yoga yoda

I had to travel to Birmingham twice this week, after work.  Not an easy thing to do when you are tired at the end of a work day.  One trip was to show Maddie's Girl Scout troop a little bit about yoga.  What I know about yoga could fit on the head of a pin.  But I figured 8 and 9 yr old girls couldn't be too tough to stand in front of for 20 minutes.  And I could bluff my way through anything with kids.  I have with the grands many  times, and managed to keep a straight face.

This time my karma held and I was right.  Of course, to earn the fitness badge the Brownies were working on took more than just yoga.  They had done 20 minutes of Zumba before they got to me.  There was a bit of a problem right away though.

Yoga requires a focused mind, deep breathing techniques and the ability to hold a pose.  You can't take 10 little girls and wind them up in a Zumba class and expect they will be able to lay on a mat and do yoga poses after jumping around like grasshoppers.

tree pose
We actually fared well together though.  I told them a little about the history of yoga, then we sat and did some deep breathing.  Then we went through some poses.  They loved the poses.  My mistake was in giving them handouts.  The more daring of the bunch wanted to try something called the birthday candle.  (You raise your back and legs off the mat, and balance your body on
your shoulders and head.  I took one look and told them no way could I do that pose.  Then I showed them a Sun Salutation, and made them do that one twice.  After that I took them through Warrior I and Warrior II, and most of them snickered, thinking I was an old lady and was doing the easy stuff.  Then I put them in a Reverse Warrior pose, and heard the groans I was waiting for.  I smiled secretly to myself then put them through some more poses.  At the end of 20 minutes, they were done.  Like a well cooked roast beef.

And so was I.  I'd been sick the week before and hadn't practiced yoga in days, and could feel it in the quivering muscles in my legs and back.  Right before I collapsed in an ignominious heap on the floor in front of them, I took them through the meditation/relaxation.

Namaste
Try getting 10 little girls to keep their eyes closed and relax, when they are full of energy from all the exercise they have done.  It just isn't possible.  I had them all together for about 3 seconds.  Then eyes started popping open, and heads twisting.  They were afraid they were missing something, so they kept peeking.  The only thing they were missing was me laughing.  No one noticed that.

Namaste.

...life is good. ~cath 





Monday, November 11, 2013

uncle bill and the submarine

This was first published as a tribute to my Uncle Bill on Memorial Day in 2011, and I decided to repost it today on Veterans Day as a tribute to Uncle Bill, and all the brave men and women who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States.  Thank you, all.   


Every country has its own traditions for honoring those who serve in the military.  For the United States of America, we have two major days to honor these men and women.  Veterans Day, and Memorial Day. 

Today is Memorial Day.  A day when our country honors those who have served and fallen, and those who continue to serve in our Armed Forces.

uncle bill
I decided to tell this story of my Uncle, Bill Jones, as a tribute to him, and also as a tribute to all the men and women who have served in all the branches of service.

Uncle Bill was my dad's older brother.  He was about 9 years older than dad.  He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and served on a submarine.  I don't know a lot of details about Uncle Bill because he died when I was 2 years old, but I will tell you the story I know:

Uncle Bill was young when he enlisted, about 20 years old.  He was assigned to serve on a submarine early in the war.  And the submarine he served on had an important mission: to sneak into Tokyo Bay and prepare for an attack by the US, by sending information back about fortifications in the bay.  Let me add that the US was still reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor and the feeling of vulnerability it gave our country.  So this daring plan came about as a way of showing the enemy that we could also hit them at home.

Tokyo Bay was filled with underwater mines.  But Uncle Bill's ship did sneak in.  And while it sat on the bottom of Tokyo Bay, Uncle Bill had an appendicitis attack.  It was serious enough that he required surgery.  Right there in a submarine sitting on the bottom of Tokyo Bay.

There were two problems:  No surgeon on board (not even a doctor) and no medical supplies beyond the most basic kind.  I guess the thinking at the time was that if a submarine got hit, it was going to go down, and there wouldn't be much need for a doc or medical supplies at the bottom of the ocean.

What they had on board was someone with the rough equivalent of a medic's training.  And a medical book that gave information that could be used.  (Sort of a do-it-yourself appendectomy book.)

So the medic (or pseudosurgeon) took kitchen utensils (knives and spoons), and had them modified by a machinist on board, and operated on Uncle Bill using basic anesthesia. 

Uncle Bill survived.  He also survived World War II. 

Hollywood incorporated his story into the movie "Destination Tokyo" with Cary Grant and John Garfield.  They called my Uncle Bill to Hollywood as an advisor on the film. 

How do I know all this?  Because I had a Grammy who loved to tell her granddaughter stories.  I listened to the stories and was amazed at them.  When Grammy told me this one, she also showed me the newspaper clipping about it, and I remember seeing the photo of Uncle Bill standing with some other people on the movie set.  And I have something that was with Uncle Bill while he served:


So every Memorial Day,  I spend a few moments saying a prayer for the safety of those serving.  And I remember the story of Uncle Bill and the submarine.

I also think of all the families who wait at home for the return of their loved ones.  And of all the loved ones who will never return.  Men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

grammy and uncle bill
How did my Grammy manage to get through World War II knowing she had a child on a submarine somewhere in the South Pacific?  She crocheted.  Bedspreads and tablecloths.  With a tiny crochet hook and delicate cotton thread, she worked her worries into works of art.  I have one of the tablecloths she did.  My baby sister has a bedspread.  So for me, that tablecloth is a link to Grammy and how the mothers and wives and sisters and daughters waited and worried and prayed.

God Bless them all.  And God Bless America.

...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter




Monday, October 7, 2013

momenth of pathoth

Revisiting one of my favorite posts from August 2011.  Missing my sisters right now, the dorks. :)


Back in 2004, I got a new camera, my first Canon Powershot Digital Elph.  That's a long name for an itty bitty camera that took decent photos.  The best part of it was the ability to take videos too.

In the spring we went to California, and I spent a day with my sisters.  We went by my mom's house after our day out, to give her a Mother's Day gift from my oldest daughter Jen.

That was when I discovered a couple things:
1. The camera had a built in lisp.  Added at no extra charge.
2. Never try to have an emotional loving moment with mom after we've toured several wineries.

Pathos and humor...that's us in a nutshell.  Or wineglass.

video

video

Have a great weekend!
~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

and your bird can sing

We have a new family member.  Steve got Cheep for his birthday Sunday.  Wretch thought it would be the perfect pet.  One that wouldn't consume food in one end and digest it out the other.  No water, no cage, just a bird on a perch.

Until John decided it belonged to him.  "MINE" he said, "MINE!!!".  Of course he lost that argument and Cheep ended up on the mantel, 6 feet hight and out of reach.  And oddly quiet (he is activated by motion).  He sat and stared.  Until Wretch walked by.

CHEEP! CHEEEEEP!! cHEeP, chEEp, ChEEp he sang.

Then Stevie Wonder walked by. CheeP! cHEEp, CHEeP, ChEEEEppp he sang.

I just loved it.  What a fun little critter.  I decided it was time to make him sing for me.  So I walked by him, grinning with anticipation.

Nothing.  Dead silence.  Not the tiniest cheep or peep out of him.  I stood and stared at him.  Then I muttered some really ugly words only he could hear me say...

Well ok, Wretch and Steve heard me too.  Involved the F bomb somewhere in the string of ugly words out of my mouth.

Nothing.

I decided I needed to wave my arm.  So I waved my arm in a huge arc in front of the bird.

Silence.

I jumped up and down.  Silence.  The bird just sat and stared at me.

I jumped AND waved my arms.

Not a cheep, not even a peep.  Disgustedly, I walked away across the room and turned around to sit down on the couch.  Just as I turned my back and bent over to move a cushion, I heard him cheeping loudly.

I snorted in disgust and flipped the bird the bird.

Steve and Wretch were doubled over in laughter.  Steve hollered out "it needed a bigger target to set it off!"

The laughing got louder.

Damn bird.



...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Sunday, September 29, 2013

you CAN have your cake and eat it too


Today is Stevie Wonder's birthday.  We don't normally make a big deal out of birthdays, and never really have.  Well except for the Wilton Cake Decorating Course I took at home when the kids were little.  And all that really meant was that they didn't have a whole lot of say about the type of cake they got, because it was whatever I was practicing at the time (poor Jim got a cake that looked like someone had puked a bouquet of flowers all over it because I was learning how to make flowers).  We make sure there is still cake (that I DO NOT decorate) and make contact with the person on their birthday to send them wishes and love.

So yesterday Steve got an ice cream cake created at the Dairy Queen and served up by Jen after the kids' soccer games were over and we were back at her house.  Steve is the kind of Gramps that believes in equality between the grand kids, so he bought a birthday cake at Wal Mart today and brought it home. So Jack and John could have cake of course....

Except that I know the truth...we couldn't bring that other cake home from Jen's like she wanted us to (it would have been a puddle in the back seat before we got here), and it's been burning a hole in Steve's brain since we left her house.  And today is the OFFICIAL day after all.  Stevie Wonder is 66.  So he will have cake to eat after all...which is what he really wanted...after all. :-D

Gratitudes:
I am thankful that back in February, when his heart rate was 27, Steve got a pacemaker and a new lease on life, and the chance to spend many more birthdays with us.

I am thankful for our years together, our children and grandchildren, and the love we all share.

I am thankful Steve wears bifocals.  (So that when he told me to toss him the remote today, arrogantly telling me that he was the only one who could correctly fast forward past the commercials, I was fortunate enough to see him miss an easy catch and watch it hit his crotch and double him over groaning for a few minutes.)  He blamed the bifocals of course.

The laugh I had that lasted way too long, was MY cake for the day.
Wretch and Steve at Point Arena Lighthouse, California 
...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Friday, September 27, 2013

autumn

the air is warm 
but the first faint crispness of autumn
hits your senses

awakens the eyes, the nose, the ears


keenly you look forward 
to the change of season
and a break 
from summer's last stagnant heat

life is good -cath
find me on twitter @jonesbabie

Saturday, September 14, 2013

random acts of kindness

I heard the trembling and tears in her voice as she told me..

"It's cancer, Mom."

I felt like I had been punched in the gut.  I couldn't catch my breath.  It had been almost 14 years since I heard the word cancer from dad.  My mind was racing as Jen went on to tell me the details, and I could feel my shoulders and neck tighten, throbbing with pain.

I knew that our journey as a family had just taken a different path.  When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, it settles into your brain, invading your waking thoughts every little while, and keeping sleep at bay.  It is like an unwanted guest you can't get to leave.

Jen went on to tell me what the plan of action was.  For me, a nurse, that is always my focus.  What can we do?  What must we do?  This invader, this evil, had to be removed from my child.  My perfect child.  I wanted it GONE.  So I listened, and remained calm, and supportive.  Behaved like a nurse, and tried to push down my emotions, the mother in me.

I have had a hard time writing about this.  That phone call was a couple weeks ago, the surgery a couple weeks before that.  Time passes, we plan another surgery for next month, and deal with things that crop up.  Such as Jen's voice being permanently changed due to scarring on the vocal chord.  And the fact that after each surgery she must be mostly mute for ten days, something that isn't easy with 8 year old twins.

Along the way we have had some laughter.  Such as Duncan telling his mom he didn't want her to leave them (die) because then he wouldn't have a home, and would have to live in a cardboard box on the street.  And Michael telling Jen that with her new, deep voice she could become a famous country singer.

I have to laugh, to keep tears at bay.  To keep the fear at arm's length.  I laugh to keep my mind from racing and going in directions I don't want it to go.  And realizing once again, that sometimes being a nurse is a curse.  Knowledge you can't unlearn can cause more anxiety when someone you love is sick.  As it did when my dad told me almost 14 years ago that he had cancer.  I don't want to know.  I just want to focus on a cure, and helping my child to be well.

And I think about 2 things that have happened recently.  The first was a stop at Starbucks the day after that phone call from Jen, when I had told Steve to get his stuff, we were going to spend the night.  (I had forgotten most of my things, so I had dirty hair and no makeup on when we started back home that morning.)  I was lost in my own thoughts, still in shock and feeling like a zombie.  Then it happened.

A random act of kindness.

The person in front of us paid for our Starbucks.  I have done that many times, but have never been the recipient of "paying it backward".  I was in shock when the barrista told us our tea and coffee was paid for.  I hollered "WHAT?"  and he repeated it.  I leaned around Steve and told him "I've done that before but no one has ever done that for me!  I'm shocked!"  The barrista just smiled and said "well now you have."  As we drove off, I felt overwhelmed.

That person, unknown to him or her, helped me on a day when I was about as low as I have ever been, and had no idea what an impact it made on me, how it raised my spirit.  I thought to myself, we never know what an effect our actions have on others, and how something as small as buying a cup of tea for a stranger, can change a day, and make a smile.  As it did for me that day.

A few days later, dad paid me a visit.  As I walked to my car, I looked down.  Right between my feet, was a message from dad.  I've had several over the years, and he always sends it when I need it the most.

A golf ball.  I knew at that moment that I wasn't alone, and dad still had hold of me...my heart.

Thanks Dad, I needed that.

It will all be all right.







...life is truly good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Thursday, August 29, 2013

what lies ahead



this was my reality yesterday...and so after an hour of restless sleep before my daughter Jen's surgery and biopsy of a lesion on her left vocal chord, I found myself turning to my art as a way of coping....

surgery went fine...and now we wait...

...life truly is good. ~cath

find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

on pain, sorrow and laughter

It's August again.  That time of year when I have an emotional meltdown, sort of.  Some years are better than others.  This year isn't one of them.  So, I'm going to whine a little bit.  I'm not going to whine...these are just my thoughts, after all...

Pain...has become my constant companion.  I have a high pain tolerance, and have endured varying amounts of pain for varying lengths of time, as most people have during their lives.  I have discovered a new empathy for people with "chronic pain".  I don't know when acute pain becomes chronic, but I feel like I am approaching that threshold.  I have discovered on my odyssey of pain, that constant pain can wear you down mentally, and cause even the most optimistic person (that would be me) to become bitchy and mean at times.  There are days I feel like I am living someone else's life.  I literally am a pain in the neck...my neck.  You wouldn't think it is that big a deal, but as the pain gets worse, the muscles of my neck and shoulders tighten up, increasing the pain, and it becomes a vicious circle I can't seem to escape.  Steroid injections help for a bit, but yoga has been my salvation, so much so that when I skip 2 or 3 days (like I have now) my shoulders and neck remind me to return to my yoga.  Yoga has increased my flexibility, and keeps the pain at a bearable level.  I don't do well with pain killers, and would rather have the pain than to have my consciousness altered on a daily basis by a narcotic.  I do take ibuprofen and a mild muscle relaxer (nothing strong for me there either), and indulge in a glass of wine and a spell in the hot tub on some evenings.  All this helps.  But nothing cures it.
 
Sorrow...August is the month I was born in, and that my father died in.  It's been 61 years for me now, and I celebrate every year (ok, most of the time I do), and since 2000 I grieve for my father at the same time.  I celebrate my years, not the month.  August to me has become only a reminder of how much I wish I could talk to Dad one more time, laugh with him, hear his voice.  I miss all the loved ones who have died, but August seems to bring it into a fine focus, like looking at your grief under a microscope.  I can't bear to look too long, because the more I look, the sadder I become.  I am not a weeper (my mum can attest to this) but I seem to do a good bit of it in August.  I guess Dad wouldn't mind too much, although I only saw him cry twice my whole life.  (He wasn't a weeper either.)  From Dad comes my airhead behavior, that ability to be among people physically and be thousands of miles away lost in thought.  I also got my sense of humor from him, and my love of books and learning.  He also sent me Maddie Kate.  She has our forehead, ears, and looks at the world like we do...sometimes I swear I look into Dad's eyes when I am looking at her.  This gives me comfort and more joy than I can even describe.

Laughter...this is what keeps me going.  When things seem dark and gloomy, and I feel like I am sunk into a hole and can't see my way out, something happens to make me laugh.  Most often it is family, and the family creating the most humor right now are my grand kids.  Jen called the other night to relate her trip to church with the twins.  (The twins were recently baptized and all three of them joined a local church.)  This past Sunday they had their first Lord's Supper (communion).  In a southern Baptist church, this means you get a tiny hard crust of bread, and a plastic thimble of grape juice.  Jen called to tell us some of the things the kids did and said during the service:

Maddie: Where's supper?  I thought we were going to eat supper, a REAL supper?

Duncan: We're going BACK to church tonight? Why do we have to go so much?  We just went this morning!

Maddie: This isn't bread...it's a CRACKER.  It tastes awful.  (Jen had cautioned them not to crunch it, to let it soften in their mouths before they chewed it up.)

At some point Jen looked around and noticed Maddie had taken her empty thimble of grape juice and was running her tongue to the bottom of it, licking it clean.  I think she forgot to teach the kids their communion manners.

The twins last statement on the way out of church was:
"That was Jesus' blood?  It didn't taste like blood."

So yes, in the midst of pain and sorrow, there is also joy and laughter.  And this always brings me out of the valley.

...life is truly good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Saturday, July 27, 2013

#blogcrawl prompt: penny arcades

I join this #blogcrawl Twitter party tonight by invitation, thinking I don't have much to contribute but I can sip my wine and watch...then I get sucked in...I am always drawn into chat...I think it shows us at our best (and sometimes worst) and we learn a lot about humanity at the same time we chat with each other.

So then the prompt comes...and I panic...and make an excuse to exit quickly so I can think about what I am going to post.  AND I KNOW THAT I DON'T HAVE A THOUGHT IN MY HEAD WORTH PUTTING IN A POST.

So I will tell you my memories and thoughts about penny arcades...that is about the best I can do...

There aren't any true penny arcades left...not that cost a penny anyway...we've taken the kids to something similar in Panama City Beach, Florida when they were small.  There was this certain arcade that caused the kids to develop a broken wrist.  Stevie Wonder said it was a disease that only a dime would cure.  That's right, skeeball cost a dime...BUT they won lots of tickets and got a ton of cheap toys that broke almost immediately...but all three kids came away feeling like winners.

The other memory of penny arcades was our recent trip to California with the whole family.  We actually ran across a penny arcade on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco with antique penny machines, along with all sorts of arcade machines of all ages.  The grandkids got to play the kind of games that were available from the turn of the century all the way up to pinball machines from the days of my childhood before the advent of video games.

I was afraid they would be bored.  I mean, those games didn't do nearly as much as the video games of today.  No 3D or special sound effects or graphics...just little pieces moving around and getting knocked or shot down.

But...they LOVED it.  And I loved watching their eyes light up as they ran from machine to machine and I got to explain what those games were about...the history.

That was a mellow, memory evoking day...and one I won't ever forget, and they won't either.

Penny arcades...the stuff of wonder and dreams...

...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

diggin' up bones


Everytime I watch this video I laugh at the wonder and amazement in the grandkids' voices as they dig up "dinosaur" bones in a museum in the Petrified Forest.  The other thing that makes me laugh is their gullibility.  But that gullibility is also what makes children so much fun to watch.

I dread the day they become adults...may they never lose that gullibility.

Well...except when they deal with car salesmen.



...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Saturday, July 20, 2013

the screw turns

It's a good thing my head is screwed on.

When I get like this, I resemble my dad, who spent a good part of his life lost in thought.  I get that from him.  For 11 years, as the month he died approached, I'd begin to feel weird.  I thought someday this would pass, but the twelfth anniversary of his death approaches, and here I go again, getting a bit squirrelly.  Lost in thought.  Thinking in circles.

You would think this would be a good thing, that I would come up with some life altering idea or thought that would leave my mark on the world and make me renowned for my brilliant mind.  But my mind doesn't work like that.  I'll give you a sample of where my brain goes at the end of every July and most of the month of August...

I bought a memory foam pillow today while we were out shopping, to try to give my neck a break from the pain I am constantly in.  (I'm not whining about the pain, I have a high pain tolerance and this has become my almost constant companion.  It's bearable, just annoying.)  I started to put the pillow in a case when I got home, thinking how enjoyable sleeping tonight would be.  Then I saw those annoying labels they attach, that crackle in your ear inside the pillow case if you don't remove them.  So I cut it off.  But before I did, I read it.  The whole label (I have always tended to read anything my eyes land on with thoroughness).  I noticed several things immediately.  And as I noticed each one, my brain took a step further:

1. "UNDER PENALTY OF LAW THIS TAG NOT TO BE REMOVED" (Hmm I remember when we were kids I always thought I would be hauled to jail if I removed that tag...so I never did.  When I grew up, I think I was the only housewife with those tags hanging from all the pillows in the house, even the throw pillows on the couch) "EXCEPT BY THE CONSUMER" (some idiot finally figured out there were a gozillion people not removing those stupid labels and fixed it).
2.  ALL NEW MATERIAL CONSISTING OF POLYURETHANE FOAM PAD...62% (the same stuff that was in my padded bras when I was a kid)  GEL...38% (the same stuff they put in those shoe inserts) (which means I could have bought a padded bra, wrapped it in a gel shoe insert, and shoved it under my head at night...and saved about $25).
3.  15% Spandex in the cover (great, now I will be sleeping on a padded-bra-shoe-insert wrapped in Spanx).
4. FOAM MADE IN USA---COVER MADE IN CHINA (a perfect example of healthy trade relations...and cooperation...I hope...or it could be that China has the corner on the Spanx market?).

...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Friday, July 5, 2013

smokin!

Stevie Wonder announced to me a couple days ago we were getting a good gas grill.  A REALLY good gas grill.  Using my sister's huge gas grill while we were in California put the fever in him to replace the cheap tabletop grills we had been buying.  There were times when he didn't want to build a wood or charcoal fire for a couple burgers for us, and gas was the solution.
(Did I mention we live in the south where barbeque reigns and there are about as many places to buy barbeque as there are churches to sing hymns in?  So that is why we have a humongous brick pit [which  smokes up the house when the windows are open and the wind blows the wrong way], and also a small gas grill.  Southerners believe in barbeque like they do guns; you can never have enough.)

That is why we added the purchase of a grill to our list of things to do on our trip to Birmingham.  We already had plans to replace the couch that is shedding like a snake after only about 3 years of use.  I had some personal stuff to pick up too.  At the top on my list was something to get rid of the fuzz on my face I have begun sprouting...before the grandkids began to think Santa Claus had moved in with Gramps.  

Our last stop of the day was for the grill.  After walking and shopping my way through a half dozen stops, and purchasing what turned out to be a living room full of furniture (because the new couch would make the rest of the stuff I had in there blush with shame), the last thing I wanted to do was shop outside, in the rain, for a grill.  I stood back under the eave of the Lowe's building and watched Stevie Wonder lift the lids on each grill and examine them.  After he finished, I suggested we go in and see what else they had.  Inside he found the grill of his dreams.

The grill was actually about $120 cheaper because he took a model that was almost exactly like last year's, and also brand new, with a tiny dent in it.  What a bargain!  A store employee and Steve shoved it in the back of the truck for the ride home.

The fun began the next morning.  The very first thing the god of fire did was to fire that sucker up...with the instructions still inside...which is why you see him vacuuming in the photo.  After running inside to find his asbestos gloves, he grabbed the burning booklet out of the grill, along with the cleaning tool (which was also stored inside) and threw them out in the middle of the back yard, leaving shreds of charred paper everywhere.  The dogs were hanging close, because the smell of burning paper was similar to the smell of burning meat, and they just knew something good was coming.
I won't tell you what happened next...the video below says it better.  


While the meat was burning cooking, Stevie Wonder got Jim to help him move the grill to the other side of the deck, hoping the smoke would head out into the yard, with a little help from the box fan he set up in front of it.  I guess the ceiling fans above his head, pushing the smoke air down, didn't help to expel the smoke as much as he thought they would.  The air circulation problem was the topic for some lively discussion between Jim and SW, while we waited for the meat to char to cook.  I kept my mouth shut.

I was too busy choking on smoke and peeing my pants laughing.
...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Monday, July 1, 2013

the fishing trip

Recently Maddie got to go to 6 Flags Over Georgia (a huge amusement park) with her Brownie Troop.  This meant that Duncan had nothing to do.  Jen, being the fundamental Type A personality she is, decided to try to create a more equitable situation.  So she did what she usually does...she called her dad.

She and Gramps schemed to figure out what they could do with Dunc, and Gramps suggested a fishing trip.  Dunc lit up like a Christmas tree when he found out (Maddie wasn't quite as excited about her 6 Flags trip at that point), and the fishing trip was on.

As the day got here, Jack was included, since he was visiting at the time.  John lost out, because he is three and Gramps wasn't going to take on three year olds at that point, and try to manage poles, hooks, bait and fish.

Because the weather threatened rain, Gramps took them to a pier on the river owned by the future son-in-law.  The boys didn't really care what they fished off of or out of, as long as it was fishing.

Gramps called me at some point to tell me the fish were biting.  He also mentioned the boys had caught about 13 fish each, and were so very excited about it they couldn't stop talking.

At that point I asked Gramps how many he caught.  He is the consummate fisherman, so I assumed he had at least as many as the boys did.

He caught two.  That's right.  Two fish.

Gramps threw all the fish back, because the point wasn't to cook and eat them, just to let the boys have the fun of catching them.  But I have a sneaking suspicion that it was because Gramps was outfished.

...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Thursday, June 6, 2013

dead man floating

I decided some time ago to add another day of exercise to my two yoga days a week.  The only thing available at the place I take yoga classes was water aerobics.  My friend and I talked ourselves into it, and I started with a burst of confidence that this would be a piece of cake.  After all, if I could survive being twisted like a pretzel in yoga, this had to be easy peasy.

I was wrong.  These classes work me like a bird dog in training.  My legs and arms feel like noodles at the end of an hour.  When I leave the low gravity of the water, my limbs immediately feel like they weigh 40 pounds more.  I have drawn a little illustration (in layman's terms for you non-water-exercising people out there) to demonstrate what I go through.  I left off the tortured look on my face, in case you might consider trying water aerobics.

I don't want to throw cold water on your plans, after all.

Yes, that was a pun.  A bad one, but the best I can do at this ungodly hour of the morning.


Lessons I have learned in water aerobics:
1. No matter how tight you pull the belt on the flotation device, it still ends up under your armpits.
2. Flotation devices make excellent cleavage enhancers.  Better than a Victoria's Secret push up bra.
3. When you leave the pool, gravity reminds you that your cleavage isn't as awesome as you thought it was. The lap swimmer you thought was gawking at your cleavage in the lane next to you is now laughing at you.
4. If you crane your neck, you can keep your hair dry, makeup intact, and bling shining in your ears.  Until that damn flotation device rolls you over on your face.
5. Never wear washable mascara to water aerobics.  Unless you enjoy the raccoon effect.
6. Wear something really loose to change into after class, like a moo moo.  If you don't, it will take you an hour to get dressed, because your arms and legs are noodles.  If you don't believe me, try putting skin tight jeans on a cooked noodle sometime.  Can't be done.
7. The dead man's float is the best move in the world when you wear out.  The flotation device will assist you into this position.
8. By the time you assume the dead man floating position, you won't care where your cleavage is or what it is doing.  Or if that swimmer in the next lane is looking.

Tonight is yoga.  I am asking for extra abs so I can match them to my aching arms and legs.

Holy s#*t I am gonna die.

Namaste.
...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Monday, June 3, 2013

wilson speak

wretch as wilson
There are some moments in life that are so good it takes just a second to grab and savor them.  Moments that you recognize the instant they happen.  Since I started this blog, I have been fortunate enough to capture a few of those moments in my life by writing them down.  Many more happen and fade from memory, but give me sweet little minutes of gratitude while I am in them.

Yesterday we were at the pool party my oldest daughter Jen had planned for the twins, who turn 8 tomorrow.  My daughters and I were at a table in a room adjacent to the kitchen, having a discussion that rambled here, there and everywhere, and enjoying some laughter along the way.  I was talking to Wretched Daughter (my youngest child) across from me.  I couldn't see anything but her eyes, because her face was hidden behind an impatiens I had brought in from the patio to make room for enough food to feed about a dozen kids and several adults.  I was thinking how weird it was to talk to Wretch and not be able to see her mouth, when she suddenly shoved the flower aside and said:

"I am tired of having a Wilson conversation with you."

That was the aha moment when I realized that once again, our minds were in tune and she had been thinking the same thing I was thinking.

Jen just laughed at us.

For those of you not familiar with a Wilson conversation, here is a clip from Home Improvement, the show that created his character.  No one ever saw his face, just his eyes.  (His face was finally revealed after years on the show.)



...life is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter