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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rubberband man

Two weeks ago I opened my closet door, searching for the lightest material I could find. It had to be light as gossamer, and not add one ounce to the scale when I stepped up at the doctor’s office. I knew jeans would add at least a pound of fake weight, so I dug through sweaters, tops, pants, jeans, searching…searching…beginning to feel desperate.

Then I saw it. Tucked back out of sight, never worn because it had always been too clingy. Too revealing of bulges and bumps I didn’t want on display. The dress. Just a simple navy, scoop neck knit. You ladies know the type of dress I am talking about. I twisted my lips as I wondered if I could get into it. Then I lifted it off the hanger and my decision was made.

It weighed about 2 ounces. Perfect. If I could just squeeze my ass into it. I went to ask Wretch if she had a slip I could borrow. It had been so long since I wore a dress that I didn’t own a slip. Wretched Daughter handed me a slip as she uttered the fateful words:

“It’s a slimming slip.”

That should have clued me. The key word was slimming.  I didn’t have time to think it through so I grabbed the slip and headed to the shower to get ready for work. That is when the fun began. I learned some valuable lessons as I struggled to get this piece of spandex hell on:

1. Never put on anything spandex while your skin is still damp from a shower. It sticks like glue and refuses to budge.
2. Never use lotion before putting on spandex for reason #1.
3. Never EVER put it on over your head.  STEP into it.
4. Once you have put it on over your head, you are trapped.

It was nice and soft and stretchy when I was holding it in my hand. Once I got it over my head and under my armpits, it turned into a boa constrictor. It rolled up firmly under my armpits, and refused to budge. I couldn’t reach it to pull it over my head, and I couldn’t unroll it to pull it down.

I was stuck. At that point, I got a bit panicky, and started to sweat like a pig. Which made the boa constrict tighter. It began to feel like I would die, and end up with a rubber band buried up in my armpits.

I pulled from the front. Then realized I was pulling the bottom of the slip out over the top and it couldn’t roll down. Not even one inch. I tried to unroll it from underneath, but it decided that it wasn’t going to budge that way either. I tried to reach behind my back and pull it down from there.  Nope. I tried to pull the whole nightmare of a slip off over my head. Nope. By then my body was swelling from having the blood flow constricted, and it was buried even deeper into my flesh, if that was possible.

I was running out of time and made one last effort. I grabbed the front of the slip and yanked on it like I was pulling down a shade. It hesitated, then suddenly unfolded. I rolled it down my thighs, and then stopped to catch my breath.

Suddenly it felt pretty good. Or maybe it was that I could breathe again. I slid my dress over my head and looked down. Bumps, bulges and odd spots all under control. It really was a miracle slip. Wretch cautioned me that it wouldn’t remold me (dang it) but that it would smooth me.  It sure did. I felt like a tire with a new tread. Today was going to be great, I could just feel it.

I drove to work. When I got out of my car, I realized that the rubberband slip was going to let me know all day who the boss was.

Because every time I sat down all day, the backside of the slip slid up and cupped my behind. I spent the entire day feeling like my ass was in a sling.

All that effort to save 6 ounces on the scale at the doctor’s office.

The dress went in the garbage when I got home that night. The slip is still embedded in my skin.

…you’re bound to lose control when the rubberband starts to jam… ~cath
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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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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friday reflection: the funniest thing I saw this week

This week, the +FridayReflections prompts offered a chance to go back to previous weeks and write about something we had not used as a prompt. Since I missed a few weeks, dealing with other things, I looked back and the prompt I wanted to write about jumped right off the page and into my head:

What was the funniest thing you saw or heard this week?

If you saw what I posted yesterday you will see a photo of a 10 year old boy smiling. If you are very observant, you will notice his tie. His mother noticed it the second she saw him from the other side of the room. Here is the story behind the tie:

Jen called me the other day to share something. I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed, dealing with one thing after another in my life. I was beginning to feel as though a day wasn’t going to dawn that didn’t bring some major thing to endure with it. So I was half ass listening to what Jen said at first. She told me about Awards Day at school for the twins, and their accomplishments. I was proud of the kids, no doubt about that, but still miserable in my own skin. Then she told me about Duncan. 

This year not only did they receive awards for accomplishments, the twins also graduated from elementary school to middle school. So graduation was a big thing for them. Jen told me she sent a tie, shirt and jacket with Dunc so he could dress properly for such an important occasion. She arrived from work just in time to see the ceremony.


And being a mother, she noticed it right away. Dunc, who didn’t hold his bottle until 3 days before Jen weaned him off it, and didn’t dress himself until he was well over 5, had dressed himself. Jacket, shirt and tie in place. Except for one thing.

The tie was INSIDE the neck of his shirt. When she saw it, Jen started laughing. Then she fought the urge to do corrective dressing and let him wear it like it was. 

I was laughing as loudly as Jen while she told me this. I could just picture it, and when I did get a picture from Jen, it was exactly as I imagined. And…the tie was RED, which meant it REALLY stood out.

A bit later I was struck by the real lesson. It wasn’t the laughter, although that was medicine for my soul. It was the fact that Jen got it. She understood what was important that day. It wasn’t the tie. It was the fact that Duncan, the boy with ADD who had been failing the first grade, was graduating on the A/B honor roll.

And THAT is more important than a red tie inside a shirt.

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

Today is day 23 of NaBloPoMo over at BlogHer and the prompt is OUTSIDE. I was stumped about it until we stopped at a traffic light today. Stevie Wonder said “look what is painted on the outside of that guy’s truck!”  I saw it, and as we passed by I shot this photo. Little bit of editing (I couldn’t be me without tweaking a photo with an app), a caption, and here is my take on the prompt (and also the funniest thing I saw besides Dunc’s tie):


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don’t bury me yet!

Today I got the verdict. After almost 2 months, a mammogram, a repeat mammogram, an ultrasound, and a needle biopsy. 

I have cancer.

There. I can say it. Because several weeks ago I had a meltdown thinking all the what ifs. So I am past all that shit, and to the point where I am just ok, tell me what the percentages are, what my options are, and let’s get this show on the road. 

My youngest daughter and I were sharing a Subway sandwich when the phone call came. She had just had a job interview, and we went out to grab a bite. And of course, after waiting for days, the call managed to come at a not so convenient time. But really, when you are getting news like that, is there ever a convenient time?

So, after about one split second, I thanked the surgeon for calling me, and made an appointment to see her in two days to talk about my options. Being a nurse, and having discussed possible options while I was having the needle biopsy, I kind of already know where I will probably go with this. 

The bad news was that it is breast cancer. But between you and me? I knew when I saw it on the ultrasound that it most likely would be. So today was kind of anticlimactic. Meh. 


The good news? That it is very small, 7-8mm. Coming from the boomer generation, I had to use my converter app to figure out just how little it was. Eight millimeters is equal to 0.3149606299 inches. (Is that even a real number?) If you ignore all but the first two digits, that is less than a half inch. Little bit more than a quarter of an inch. Tiny. With, I am told, a 90-95% cure rate. That is good news.

I told the family, they were kind of subdued. A little bit of texting, a couple phone calls and silence. My family IS NEVER SILENT. So I can feel the gears in their brains working, from here to the west coast. I told Wretch before she left me at my office to tell Steve not to bury me yet.

It is going to take a lot more than a little lump the size of my smallest finger nail to stop me. 

Although I am thinking, maybe I could ask the surgeon to slip with the scalpel and do a tummy tuck while she is resculpting my right breast to match my left.

So, don’t bury me yet.

Oh, and ladies?  GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM. This cancer was so deep and tiny it couldn’t be felt, not by me or the surgeon. The mammogram we all love to bitch about having has most likely saved my life.

SO GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM. DO IT. EVERY YEAR.



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


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the sugar in my lemonade

I was going to write something pithy and wise today, the day before Mother’s Day, about something that would be so important it would change your life forever.

Forget that. I do good to put two sentences together. So I decided to respond to the +FridayReflections prompt of who has impacted my life for the better. I could say something about my mum, because it is almost Mother’s Day here in the USA. She and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, but she did contribute one important thing to me. She gave me a backbone of steel, and the belief that I could do anything I wanted to do. 
But the people I want to talk about today are two of the most important people in my life. Throughout my whole life, they were there for me. During hard times, lonely times, times when I didn’t have an answer, there they were. They didn’t always have the answer either, just as I often didn’t have it for them. But they loved me unconditionally, and without judgment. Even when we disagreed, it was always with the understanding that it was ok to disagree, and that it would not affect our trust or feelings for each other. I think of them every day, and especially today. 
They are my sisters, Vicky and Debbie. The sugar in my lemonade.
Vicky, Debbie, and Cathy
day2

We have another side too. A raucous, wicked side that lets us make fun of each other, laugh at each other, and gives me a feeling of zest and joy that last for days. Yesterday we were texting each other, asking Vix if mum’s gifts we sent had gotten there. I just KNEW I was gonna have the most unique gift. I had thought this through, plotted, and planned it so that I would be mum’s favorite daughter by Mother’s Day. I sent flowers:

day 1
Vix Gave mother flowers:

We were both texting back and forth, pretty proud that we had made mum happy.  Then Dooj’s GIFT arrived and Vix sent me a picture:
that is a balloon on top and chocolates too
Our text chat then proceeded along these lines:
Vix: the #$&%@ has outdone us Cath. LMAO.
Me: how dare she do that! I think that $(#*#@$ balloon is a $%*#&@$ bit over the top. 
Dooj: LMAO
Vix: is that the one you wanted Dooj, or is this arrangement too small?
Dooj: lolololol
Me: you sure you didn’t tell them that was for a funeral Dooj? It’s big enough to cover a casket.
Dooj: lololololol…I did tell them no lilies but I’m not going to tell Mother that.
Vix: Momma is getting a kick out of these comments. She did say it was big enough for a funeral. I told her if she kicked the bucket before Sunday (Mother’s Day) we would use it.
Me: lololol.
Me:(to Vix) I hope Dooj’s flowers die first….
Vix: lolololol….
I have a secret weapon though…today mum got these:
Score one for the big sis…
NaBloPoMo photo prompt day 9 is: Light

…be positive…the best is yet to come… ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter