Monday, December 15, 2014

joy, from the mouth of a child

Duncan was unusually quiet around us this weekend.  That means he didn't talk much to Gramps and me.  Until we were headed home with him.  I don't understand how his child's mind works and am surprised at what it produces.  Yesterday it was this:

Dunc: Dogs are the best animals to use in the Army.  They can protect people and find stuff.

Me: You mean sniff out stuff like bombs?

Dunc: Yeah.  Cats aren't any good though.

Me: Why not?

Dunc: They are just pussycats.  Pussycats aren't any good in the army, cause they won't listen or do anything except sit on landmines and blow soldiers up.

Me: (Silence.  What do you say to that?) is good. ~cath
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

epic fail, with joy

Last August I decided I needed to go back to school.  More specifically, I decided to take a class in wound/ostomy/continence care, to pursue certification as a WOC nurse.  The program I chose was a graduate level class with a year of knowledge crammed into a semester.  Online.

I almost hyperventilated as I sank more money than I could imagine on something I would only experience through the computer.  I am comfortable with a computer.  That wasn't the issue.  It was that I spent the better part of 9 years without much time off, and working 2 jobs (or more) while attending classes.  I survived, swearing I would never go back to school.  EVER.

Then I did this.  I struggled with a new set of rules and regs, screwed up a few times, had a hard time focusing to study (recommendation was 2 hours a day...I think I might have studied 2 hours a week). I felt like any minute I would fail.

But I didn't.  I made it through lectures.  Made it through proctored finals (3 times) when some kid would ask me for my ID, and search my room (using MY webcam) for any lurking cheat sheets or dust bunnies that looked suspiciously like cheat sheets.  The first time I went through the process, I felt violated.  By the third time. I was ready to take the test naked if I could just GET FINISHED.

I also foolishly signed on to the NaBloPoMo December daily blogging challenge TWO DAYS BEFORE MY FINAL FINAL.  The thing I neglected to think through was that if I didn't pass that last test, the whole semester was shot.  That's right.  It was all or nothing.  So I wrote and posted on my blog those first two days.  By the 3rd day, the day of my final, I had been without sleep for long enough that I was delusional and thought I didn't have to study much.  Translate that to mean that I procrastinated... painting my nails, coloring my hair, and waxing parts of my body I had no business waxing, until 2 hours before the test, when panic finally set in and I studied.

And passed.  And crashed after it all.  For days afterward I was a zombie, until I woke up one day and realized several things.

1. I was finished with class.  I HAD PASSED.
2. I was going to miss being able to fart out loud and drink a glass of wine while taking a live class.  
3. I had failed at the NaBloPoMo daily blogging challenge.  (Again.)
4. I still had clinical practicum to complete before the class was truly, really completed.

Clinicals in January and February.  Jacksonville, here I come.  Brace yourself.

EPIC FAIL, with joy.  The best is yet to come. is good. find your joy.  ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

joy, revisited

As the day drew to a frustrating end I headed out of town toward home, then realized I needed to return to the office and leave something I had forgotten to take out of my portfolio.  My stress level rising as I thought about the FINAL final I would be taking online tomorrow, I was grinding my teeth in aggravation.  Already late to my study time, I was beginning to fume.  I looped back through town, taking short cuts on side streets to save time.  I topped a small hill and suddenly looked up, jamming my brakes down, coming to a halt in the middle of the street.  I suddenly remembered the prompt for the NaBloPoMo blogging challenge this month: JOY.
As I gazed up, I saw the beauty of the setting sun reflected on the billowing clouds, and felt my jaws and shoulders relax.  That perfect moment of joy, when you see a sky you know will never be exactly that perfect again.  The joy of being alive and present in the moment.

Joy.  Pure, simple.  And I will share my moment.  Through my photos.

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

Monday, December 1, 2014


Here I am, after not writing much for most of this year.  Not that I haven't had thoughts.  I've just had a busy year.  A new position at work last January (not so new now) and things happening along the way that just made me feel at times like a voyeur gawking at my own life.  But here I am, December. Almost the final hour of the year, and I decide to make a last hurrah.  Which means I probably won't have much to say this month, and will blather on about something or other to try to meet the BlogHer NaBloPoMo goal of posting every day.  (AM I CRAZY? I shout at myself inside my head....probably. I reply).

We will see.  But I am going to share a moment of my joy with you tonight.  Sunset from my front yard as I arrived home.  (Well, I was trespassing to get this shot, across the road in the neighbor's yard.  Luckily, the only dogs they have don't eat humans, just lick them to death.)

Somehow, sunsets just always quiet the turmoil in me.  Like this one tonight: is good. find your joy.  ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Sunday, August 31, 2014

the quality of mercy

I sit here writing this post, surrounded by closets that are half cleaned out, with garbage bags strewn throughout most of the house, half filled as I sift through the fabric of my life.  Old bills, photos, and half finished projects that were abandoned because I have trouble concentrating.  File cabinets full of outdated school documents, greeting cards received over the past 30 years or more.  A small stack of letters and cards from a favorite aunt now gone, cards from Christmases and birthdays past with small notes that are about all I have left of my dad.  Cards that made me laugh, from my college graduations, posters from Stevie Wonder's 60th birthday, framed photos of the grandkids that I was waiting to hang until I painted...several years ago.  On and on the list goes.  I am overwhelmed, with the size of the task I have taken on, and also with the emotions I feel as I sift through things from my past.  I reorganize, gritting my teeth and throwing out things I know I kept for a reason, but can't remember why I did as I look at this "stuff".

I'm making some progress, knowing I have tomorrow off to bring some semblance of order to my closets, and thinking about where I am in life right now.  I recently decided to go back to acute care nursing, as a ceritified wound care nurse.  I signed up for a semester class online, my first ever.  It horrified me that the first night of class, when I spent the last hour before orientation started desperately trying to figure out how to sign on (I am NOT a novice with computers or software), that maybe I had bitten off too much, and maybe I should have reconsidered before sinking such a large amount of money into such a big step, maybe I was getting too old to try something new.  I was getting deeper and deeper into a worry state, when I found an article I had saved.

Called "The Quality of Mercy" it details one working day in the life of a couple of nurses and a doctor, including what it feels like to be the patient in the bed.  Told simply, it is a deeply moving article written by Joyce and Richard Wolkomir, with photographs that give a very real feel to the world of nurses and the people in their care.  It was published in the April 1998 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

I held the article in my hands, not sure if I should throw it away or not.  I had so much stuff to get rid of, and really needed to make a big dent in the cleaning out.  I decided to read it one more time before I tossed it.  I settled on the couch and began to read.  As I read I found myself nodding my head.  With almost 20 years of experience as a nurse, I was no novice, and could relate to one nurse in particular, who had become a nurse "to be of use".  That was when I realized something else was happening.

My fear and worry about the step I had taken back to learning had disappeared.  I became a nurse to help people, to try to make some small difference in their lives.  I realized that I still believed that, and still felt as passionate about nursing as the first day of the first shift I worked as a nurse.  I also realized there was no age limit to working, or to learning.  I could only be held back by my own fears.

I finished the article and put it in my "to be saved" items.  I will read it again someday I am sure.  It reminds me why I became a nurse, helps to bring back my focus.

I got up and moved back to sorting through the stuff of my life.  

life is good...                                                                   

Monday, July 28, 2014

grammy fails

Life has been so busy for many months for me that I often feel as though I am in a whirlwind.  Just about the time I feel like my brain is going to explode, I receive a dose of kid wisdom.  It doesn't hurt that this kid wisdom also makes me laugh most of the time.

This weekend the twins were coming, arriving Friday while I was at work.  Usually all 4 grand kids land on me at the same time. This time it was just the twins, with an occasional cameo appearance from John, who prefers his mommy's house (next door) to my house.  (Can't say I blame him for that.)

I prepared for their arrival by doing the most important thing.  I made my bed.  Don't wonder at my reasoning, it is sound.  The kids often take a break on my bed to watch a few cartoons during the weekend, between forays outside to play.  This means they slide under the covers, even in 90F heat, and I sleep in the dirt and sand they drag in and deposit there during the day.

I got a text from Steve later that day:
I asked Dunc why he had lied to Gramps that afternoon about making the bed.  His reply was "well I straightened it up a little after I laid on the bed, and THAT counts too."  Hard to argue with that kind of logic.

Maddie asked me to keep her busy this weekend and I took her at her word.  I don't think this qualifies as child labor:

photo by Dunc's mommy, Jen
Last night we were talking about school beginning for the twins soon and I told Duncan that I would be starting to school about the same time he did.  His response was:
"Did you fail a grade?'

I told him yes (evil Grammy surfacing instantly).  His next comment, without missing a stroke, was:
"What grade did you fail?"

At that point I could not continue the joke, knowing it would just backfire on me, so I told him I had been lucky, and was going to get to learn to treat wounds, and would be able to take a test and get a piece of paper soon that would say I was certified to do it.  He just nodded absently and wandered off. Wounds aren't that interesting after all, unless there is blood. is good. ~cath
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Thursday, June 5, 2014

slapping john

John has been sick.  He is the youngest grandson, a 4 year old trying to mix in with the world of his 9 year old cousins.  They don't always have patience with him, and being the youngest, he gets shoved aside sometimes when they are tired of him.

John had a flush on his face yesterday, cheeks so red that his mom took him to the doctor.  The red cheeks were caused by Fifth disease, also known as Slap disease, for the obvious reasons.

Gramps walked into the living room later that day and saw the three oldest sitting quietly on the couch, watching television.  He threw his hands on his hips and said in the booming voice he uses when he means no nonsense:

"John has Slap disease.  I want to know... who's been slapping John?!"

He said all three of their mouths dropped open in shock, like baby birds in a nest, as they loudly started protesting their innocence.

He was doubled over in laughter, telling me about it.

Sometimes, Gramps can be as evil as Grammy is. is good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

fake eyebrows

Maddie was standing watching me put on my war paint yesterday morning as I got ready for work. I was aware of her intent staring, the way a worm might feel (if it could feel), right before a bird pounces.

Suddenly, she pounced. 

"Grammy, are those fake eyebrows?"

I stopped drawing my fake eyebrows on and laughed loudly. 

"Yes Maddie, they are fake eyebrows."  She seemed content with the answer, but I proceeded to explain to her why I had to fake my eyebrows. She calmly listened, then stretched and looked at her own eyebrows in the bathroom mirror. 

"I don't have much eyebrows either,"

That was when I veered off into a lengthy explanation about genetics. She hung with me for about 5 minutes, then her eyes went blank and I knew I'd lost her. I laughed as she eased out of the bathroom and moved onto something else, her interest in fake eyebrows evaporated. 

This morning she came in to watch me draw my fake eyebrows on again. I sneaked a look at her out of the corner of my eyes. Then Evil Grammy took over and I grabbed her and drew fake eyebrows on her. She liked them, but said in critique "they are red!"

"Yes Maddie, because I have red hair."

Maddie twisted her mouth, smiled, and didn't say anything else. The fake eyebrows stayed on. She left the bathroom and went to eat breakfast. 

And drew the line when I tried to lipstick her mouth on my way out the door. Her reason?

"Grammy, I NEVER wear lipstick when I'm eating. It will just come off."

Life is good. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

the saromony

It's been an eventful year for our family so far.  That is one reason I haven't posted anything in the past month.  Events in my life have had me so busy I just couldn't focus on writing a single post.  Then the desire to write began to go (similar to exercise, if you don't do it consistently the interest and routine begins to fade.) I was beginning to worry about ever feeling that push in my gut to put my thoughts down again, and then something happened to light me up again.  It was something big in our family, but not important to anyone else, and I thought to myself "I'll post this, so I won't forget it."

So here I am, typing away again on the computer, putting down another memory and laughing about it while I do.  It started with the marriage of my daughter and new son in law.  A second marriage for both, they had been hemming and hawing about getting married for a while now.  Jen, being the planner she is, had planned and postponed their wedding a couple times.  First the mountains, then the beach, no back to the mountains, no, let's go to the beach. That sort of thing.  Then she decided she needed to plan it far enough in advance she could lose some weight...

Then cancer struck.  Several months and three surgeries ago, Jen was diagnosed with cancer on her vocal chord.  The left vocal chord to be specific.  I know where it is because I saw an endoscopic photo of the monster in my baby's throat.  Every three months, a trip to the outpatient surgery.  She would be put to sleep and her vocal chord stripped.  Over and over until I began to despair.  Then, after the last surgery the surgeon gave us wonderful news.  It had been downgraded from cancer to dysplasia.  That means abnormal cells, NOT cancer.  We celebrated and took a deep breath.  And said a prayer that the surgery in May will be the last.

So the wedding plans were on again...this time it was the it was too cold in spring for the was going to be in the beautiful yard of a coworker and friend of Jennifer's, in May.  The race was on and shopping trips and online browsing ensued to find the perfect wedding dress and clothes for the kids and Michael (the quietly suffering uncomplaining groom).  Texts were passed back and forth, and photos of dresses, discussions about how to add red to the black and white theme Jen had decided on.  I was stoic, and promised to help with the alterations and anything else I was assigned to.

Then a week or so ago, on the 28th day of March, while I was in another state on business, Jen did something that made me proud of her.  It was totally out of character for my superplanner accountant daughter.

Jennifer and Michael slipped off to the county courthouse and got married.  When I got out of my meeting and turned my phone back on at the airport, I was hit with a barrage of texts.  The first I saw was Steve saying we have a new son in law.  I kind of disregarded it, because this is the same man who told me his parents had an outhouse right before he put me on a plane (2 weeks before I gave birth) to Alabama to stay with his parents until he was mustered out of the Air Force.  (There was no outhouse.)  Other texts confirmed it, including the one from Jen to us all, announcing what she had done, after the fact.

What Jen didn't count on was the disappointment of one of the kids.  She said Michael's daughters were ok with it, and Duncan could care less.  But Maddie was disappointed.  Steve confirmed it when he said she looked crestfallen when Jen told her on the phone what had happened.  Maddie had looked forward to being part of her mommy's wedding and told me later "you won't have to make my dress fit now, Grammy, since Mommy and Michael got married."

I figured that was the end of it, and Maddie would get past it and move on.  Then last weekend I got a bizarre text from Maddie.  This was the text I got (remember she is 8 years old):

I thought they were on their way to the wedding of a friend and just laughed at Maddie's spelling and telling me Dunc was the "ring guy".  Then I got this from Jen a while later:

THAT was what Maddie was alluding to in her convoluted way!  It touched me that Jen would make the extra effort to include the kids (as many as she could get together at one time anyway) and try to make them feel part of this marriage.  And if it took a little time to put something together, then it was all worth it.  I sent Jen the text Maddie had sent to me, and this is how that went:
So now I have a son in law and three beautiful new granddaughters.  I see the happiness in my daughter's eyes and it warms me to know she is happy.  

Congratulations Michael and Jennifer.  Sometimes it is the little saromonies that mean the most, and have the most significance. is good. ~cath 

Friday, February 28, 2014

of minion bondage

I have a new man in my life.  I think Stevie Wonder may be upset when he realizes that he has been usurped in my heart by a short, jaundiced looking man who laughs too much, and has a weird sense of humor.  (Sounds a lot like a description of me.)

His vision is poor, so he wears a thick spectacle.  He is overweight, and his IQ may not be the highest, but I am in love with him.

Phil vaporizes my tea with a fart dart launcher every morning and serves me faithfully, waiting on me hand and foot.

He has a beautiful brown eye and it is always focused on me.

I am smitten, and fear I will end up throwing away a 43 year marriage for a....

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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

remembering Thom

consciousness approaches slowly.
as the morning light approaches the sky,
she breathes softly next to me.

the birds awaken and greet the dawn...
she rolls into my side, hiding her head under my shoulder,
remaining locked in Morpheus' arms.

I lie quietly, listening to the cadence of her breathing
remembering the moments of her life
since she first entered mine.

I first wrote that on April 22, 2011.  My first tentative foray into poetry (which I have definitely not mastered) brought a kind comment from Thom Brown, and gave me the courage to keep writing poetry, mostly in the form of haiku.

I don't think Thom realized the impact he had on me.  We belonged to a diverse blogging group, people from around the world brought together by our love of sharing the written word.  Thom and I also shared a love of photography, and even though he wrote about his neglected left arm quite openly, he never let it prevent him from doing most anything he wanted to, such as photography.  He asked my opinion about cameras one time when he was looking at purchasing a model that would produce higher definition images, and I gave him what little knowledge I had on the subject, flattered that he had asked an amateur like me anything at all about camera specs.

I enjoyed Thom's blog in the almost 3 years I knew him.  He was a prolific writer, with a variety of topics on his blog, as well as lovely photographs of his tree, made into a wonderful video from the almost daily photos he took from his office, in every season.  You can see this tree in all its glory, through several phases, by clicking here.  It captured my artist's heart when I discovered it while visiting Thom's blog after his lovely comment on that fateful April day in 2011.  He often made me smile with his posts, or shed a tear or few.  He had that way with words.  They stuck in my mind, and lodged in my heart.  His pride in and love for his grandson was another thing we had in common.  I loved every post, every word and picture about the Mighty Finn, because I have felt those same emotions and lived similar moments with my own grandchildren.

Thom died at his home on February 9, 2014, surrounded by his loved ones.  I don't think I told him often enough how much his friendship, and those lovely comments he often made, meant to me on a personal level. But somehow, I think he knows.

I invite you to visit his blog To Gyre and Gambol, and soak up his wit and wisdom.  Thom finished many blog posts with the words "I am a fortunate man".

I am the fortunate one.  Thank you Thom.

(I'll miss those Sunday jokes.), often bittersweet, is still good. ~cath
  find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Last night I cooked supper for Steve.  I had been trying a recipe I didn't have time for during the holidays, so I decided since I had dessert, I would really shock the s**t out of him and cook a main course.  I am a simple person when it comes to cooking.  I believe in using the fewest pots possible to make a meal.  I measure my success in cooking in the amount of dishes I DON'T dirty...weird I know but since I have never had a dishwasher, there is a method to my madness.

I looked in the fridge and saw some leftover cheese dip I had made.  Aha! I thought to myself, I'll make a concoction and save pots and be thrifty at the same time (i.e., using leftovers and not throwing them away), in effect killing two birds with one stone.

  1. 1.
    a mixture of various ingredients or elements.
    "a concoction of gables, shingles, stained glass, and towers inspired by English medieval houses"
    "a concoction containing gin and vodka"
    "a strange concoction of folk pop and Gregorian chant"

So I took the cheese dip out (it had ground beef in it, always a starting point for any concoction), boiled some noodles (it was either noodles or spaghetti pasta, and I felt egg noodles would be more aesthetically pleasing).  Then I tossed them all together in the same pot I had boiled the noodles in (after draining off the noodle water of course).  Voila, dinner and dessert and I didn't even break a sweat.

As I made the concoction, I thought about how the word came into being in our family.  It is a word my sisters will understand the moment they see this post.  What does this word mean to me?

It is how I learned to cook.  When I was about 13 or 14, my mother was on a journey of self discovery.  She was a good cook, but never wanted anyone helping her in the kitchen, and so I knew nothing about cooking.  Somehow, when mom and dad divorced and mother went to work, I chose the task of cooking for my sisters and I.  Don't ask me why, because it was long before I knew about Julia Child.  In fact, I didn't even know how to boil water.  That was the first thing I learned to do, and it was about that time I started drinking tea.  I had tried coffee with milk and sugar but mom had told me that if I was going to drink coffee, I had to drink it black.  So that stopped my coffee drinking cold, and I fell in love with tea.  Milk and sugar of course, which for some reason didn't offend mom's sensibilities.  It's a habit I still have.  

After I learned to boil water, I began to think of ways to cook something we could actually eat.  I decided to started with ground beef.  That was almost always the base for my concoctions.  After that I tossed in whatever we had in the pantry.  But the magic began the first time I spotted the spice rack and decided to "spice" it up.  I knew spaghetti had spices, and so did a lot of other recipes.  I wasn't working with a recipe, so I decided to just let my imagination guide me.

My sisters will say straight up that my imagination caused epic failures much of the time. There were times what I cooked was delicious, or at least palatable.  Then there were the times the girls thought I was trying to poison them. 

I can hear them laughing as they read this.  What started out as an experiment in learning for me, brought us all closer.  Along the way, we learned to rely on ourselves, and that we could do anything we set our minds to.  An attitude that persists to this day in all three of us.

What a memory.  What marvelous times we had, and we didn't even realize it at the time.

See you soon Vix and Dooj...and I'll make you a concoction while I am there.  I've improved just a bit over the years. xo is so very good. ~cath 
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