just my thoughts


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favorite places and spaces in my mind

tea time

The prompt for July 3rd that caught my eye at Friday Reflections has had me thinking for days.  How could I pick one favorite place?  There have been so many of them.  I think about all the places I have traveled, the things I have seen and done.  How could I possibly whittle it to one favorite?  Janine Ripper at Reflections From a Redhead described her favorite place so colorfully, I was ready to pack a bag and leave right then.

But picking my favorite place?   It finally dawned on me.  The place that is my favorite of all is….

the grapes of cath

my mind

That’s right.  All the places I have visited, the things I have seen, are all trapped in lovely memories.  They are stored away, like a filing cabinet full of cards and photos, and I can revisit and think about them whenever I want to.  This ability to pull memories and close my eyes and be there is something I have always done.  It is especially helpful right now, at this moment in my life when there is so much going on with so many people in my life that I often wonder what will happen next.

watercolor, pen & ink

Today, I have pulled out a memory of one of those places.  My sister Vicky’s back yard (garden for those of you who don’t call a yard a yard) and one of the most peaceful places I have ever been.  It is a place I can sit quietly, looking at the flowers, birds, bees, and listening to the breeze blowing gently through the trees, stirring the leaves to a soft rustling sound.  It is a place I have painted, photographed and long to be when things are overwhelming.  It is my morning refuge, my favorite place to drink my tea and think about all the vagaries of life.

vix, watering her plants

It is a place I return to at least twice a year…and where I will return once more in October of this year.  Until then, I have my memories, filed away in my mind to pull out and relive over and over whenever I feel a yearning for peace and quiet.

morning in the garden

   

 

the perfect rose

 …life is good. ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter


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ambulance chasing

June 26, 2015 was an important day for Stevie Wonder. Due for the first checkup since nearly dying in April when his pacemaker had to be replaced after an epic failure to pace his heart (read about it here), he was understandably nervous because he had developed atrial fibrillation after the new pacemaker was placed in his chest.  His recovery from the second surgery was a bit rough compared to the first time.  I tried to reassure him that he was doing ok, and just had to give himself time to heal.  He was a bit whiny about the whole thing in my opinion, but I think that was because my patience was thin from dealing with my own breast cancer and surgery, which was taking place almost simultaneously to what Steve was enduring.


The twins were staying with us for a few days, so they went with us to the clinic. We were going to wait for Gramps to get all his tests finished, then go eat a late breakfast. We left at the crack of dawn for an hour long drive to the clinic. Duncan used the seat belt as a hammock for his head so he could sleep.

Duncan in a head sling

As we walked into the clinic (it was attached to the main hospital), I was explaining to Maddie what an echocardiogram was and the way I watched Gramps heart beating on the monitor when he was in ICU, before his pacemaker was put in. Her response to what I felt was a brilliant description was: “Disgusting!”.

the long wait

 As we sat waiting, we talked, and I played a few games of checkers with the kids. Time passed…one hour, then two. As we began our third hour of waiting the kids were about to mutiny from hunger and thirst.  So I took them to another part of the clinic to get some juice and a snack.  As I was digging money out of my purse to buy juice for the kids, Maddie (who was standing near the hall) uttered the fateful words: “There goes Gramps”.

I figured she meant he had walked past and was headed to the waiting room looking for us.  I said as much, and that was when she lowered the boom: “No, he wasn’t walking, he was on one of those rolling tables.”

“WHAT?” I said.
“He was on a rolling table Grammy.”
At this point I looked a little panicky because I was caught between putting a $1 bill in a machine for a snack for Maddie, and taking off after the gurney. Maddie made my mind up quickly when she said: “I don’t need a snack Grammy!”
So we took off down the hall. The hall took several turns, like a snake. Maddie had run ahead to scout Steve’s location as I brought the rear up with a still sluggish Duncan. She would get to one turn, I would shout at her “CAN YOU SEE HIM?”, she would shout back “YES I CAN”, and then we would advance to the next bend in the hall.

In my mind the whole time was that SW had collapsed during the stress test, and they had come looking for me to tell me they were transporting him to wherever they needed to go to fix him, and couldn’t find me because I WAS BUYING EFFING SNACKS FOR STARVING GRANDKIDS.

After what felt like a mile of scouting, reporting and running, I ran out of steam as I made it to the last bend and saw the end of the gurney and a nurse waaaaaaaaaaaay down the hall just going out of sight. I decided we would go back to the waiting room and wait until someone found us and told us the bad news.

So we sat there, they split Duncan’s honeybun and drank their juice and I fidgeted like I had ants in my pants. About an hour later, Steve walked in the door of the waiting room.

bubba gramps

WALKED.  I jumped up and almost shouted at him “ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?”
He looked at me like I had lost my mind and said “yes”.
I said “did you go by on a gurney about an hour ago?”
“No” he said.

Then it hit me.

I had been chasing a stranger down the halls of the hospital. I asked Maddie how she knew it was Gramps on the gurney. She said: “because he had white hair and was wearing a mask like Gramps does when he is sleeping.”  Steve saw my face and knew something was up, so I had no choice but to tell him what had happened.

He started laughing.

He was still laughing 4 hours later every time someone called to check on him and he got to tell the story again.

an anticlimactic end to the morning, at Waffle House

I thought I had finally lived it down until Steve said a few hours later:

I would have loved to see what happened if you’d caught that gurney and saw you’d been chasing a stranger down the hall.

Steam started coming out of my ears at this point.

I am now the victim of another Steve story, which grows with “embellishments” every time he tells it.

…life is like chasing gurneys, you never know where you are going or what lies ahead. ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter


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life, washed down with cherry garcia

These thoughts go hand in hand with #FridayReflection prompt:  Reflect on the following quote: “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” – Janis Joplin

When life throws me a curve, I head for my standby coping skill…music.  Lately it’s been music from my past, and last night it was the Grateful Dead.  I decided I needed some ice cream to add to my cope plan (that is my weapon for extreme emotional punches to the gut).  And my go to flavor is Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. I grabbed some, and then spotted my newest coping obsession beckoning enticingly from a shelf on my way out.  I swear I didn’t intend to do it, but suddenly they landed in the cart.

So last night was a time for ruminating, minimal communication with my family to keep them in my loop, and just vegging with music and a sugar high.  Because let’s face it, the Grateful Dead still effing rocks, and Cherry Garcia slides soothingly across your tongue.

Along with a big ahhhhh of a bite of Banana Hostess Twinkies, a new flavor in a cake that is as big a part of my past as the Beatles, Disneyland, Santa Monica Beach and on and on.

And I realized as I slurped, chewed and listened, that what is happening is a bump in the road, and not a mountain. So it is time to deal, and move on, not to whine or worry.  Time to focus on the present, and let the rest take care of itself.

Sometimes, when you are grateful to be alive, all you need is the Grateful Dead in your ears, and some Cherry Garcia to wash it down.

…life is good with a little cherry garcia on it…  ~cat
i am @jonesbabie on twitter
 


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sex, drugs, and rock & roll

#Friday Reflection prompt: Reflect on how it’s important to make the most out of life.

Several weeks ago Wretch noticed the Steve Miller Band was going to be performing  in concert  in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in June. I told her to book three tickets and we would drag Stevie Wonder along to it. We’d missed the Magic City Art Connection and Corks and Chefs on April 26 because SW decided to break his pacemaker that weekend. We gave away three tickets so that Wretch and I could spend the weekend watching SW lie in a hospital bed in ICU waiting for a new ticker on Monday.

At the end of May, after a couple months of testing and retesting with mammograms, ultrasound and needle biopsy, I got the verdict. Breast cancer, caught early, and was told the recommendation. Surgery (lumpectomy), radiation, and oral medication for a few years. Not a problem. I was ready.

Then it hit me.

The concert I had waited patiently for was in a couple weeks.

Oh hell no, I thought to myself. I am not missing this concert, or dodging elbows with a boob that is in a sling. I talked to the surgeon, and although my oldest daughter wasn’t keen on it (neither was middle sister when she found out later on), Wretch understood where my brain and heart were. With the music. The surgeon assured us I that I would not drop dead if I put my surgery off for 3 weeks.

So I did.

Sunday my ass was sitting in a pool of sweat in a plastic stadium seat heated to oven temps by the 90F setting sun at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. I sipped a glass of red wine in a plastic cup, groped SW a bit, and enjoyed some of the best music from the 70’s played by a couple of great bands, now old farts like me. (Steve Miller is 71.)

And damn, they can still play.

Some things just get better with age.

…rockin the good life… ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter


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my best photo

Today is the last day of May and the last day of May NaBloPoMo. Thirty one days ago I started this daily blog prompt centered around photos. One reason I joined the blog prompt over at BlogHer was that I had not been writing much for an extended period of time, for personal reasons. My focus was elsewhere, and I couldn’t seem to focus on writing, photography, drawing or painting.

Today’s NaBloPoMo prompt is: your best photo. I thought about that one for several days now. It is hard to pick out my best photo. I thought about all the photos I had taken that I felt demonstrated an increase in my skill as a photographer. Then I thought about what is important for me to share with my photographs, and the answer came to me.

Plain and simple, I think the most important thing I can convey as a photographer is emotion, or the story I am trying to tell. I chose this photo to share. It was shot quickly, not the technically best photo I have ever taken, but I see it now, and I feel strong emotion wash over me. It is a photo of my daughter holding my granddaughter’s face in her hand. In Maddie’s eyes I see pure love. And I know, because I took that photo, that the love in Maddie’s eyes is mirrored in her mommy’s eyes, and felt through the touch of her hand.

Total devotion and love of a child for her mother, and a mother for her child. Unplanned and blurry, this may be the best photo I have ever taken. It is certainly one of the most important moments in my life. Captured now, forever. That is the magic of photography.

Life, lived moment by moment, photo by photo. Shared. Experienced.
My best photo.

…life, lived, is your best photo… ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter


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food for the soul

Food. The prompt for today from NaBloPoMo on day number 29. Fitting that today the focus is food. I wondered if I had any photos of food worth posting. I’ve taken some doozies, and some $%*&ed up shots too. Minions and Marmite (#20) figured high on my list of considerations. Then I saw the photo, and the food became secondary. It was not the focus of the photo for me.

ragu with rotini, served on my Grammy’s dishes

It was the dish it was served on. Food keeps the body going.  But love and memories feed the soul. I ate many meals on the Franciscan apple dishes shown in the photo. Years ago, I acquired my mom’s and Grammy’s dishes. So old that many of them say “made in California” on them. Later dishes say “made in the USA” on them. I have both. I don’t own any that say “made in England” which is where they are manufactured now. Mine came from my childhood, and I am of an age that the dishes are close to being antique. A fact that does not faze me one bit. I can close my eyes and remember so many meals, so many conversations. The strep throat I unknowingly had as I struggled to eat chili, each bite setting my throat on fire. Learning to eat squash and like it. Talking to Grammy as she washed dishes, watching her rub each plate dry with embroidered dish towels.

concoction

Many memories.  Memories that will last longer than the food that is served on those plates now. Food served to my family. Plates that are hand washed by me now. Plates and memories that are a common thread of love that runs through my family, from generation to generation.

…life is delicious…   -cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter


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still life

Day 26 of NaBloPoMo prompt uses the theme STILL LIFE. When you use your camera to shoot still life, it can include any inanimate, or nonliving object. Still life is one of my favorite subjects, but I also like shots that include a message, whether it is implied, or stated straight out and in your face.

Today has been an “in your face kind of day” after a long, lazy three day weekend. So I skimmed a few hundred photos, and my eyes were caught by this photo. There are so many people who cause me to smile in my life. Smiling and laughter are the best kind of medicine for whatever might ail you. Today I am sharing this, for all the people in my life who make me smile.

…thank you, for making me smile. ~cath
i am @jonesbabie on twitter