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. :) 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. 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. 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.

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