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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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throwback thursday

way back in about 1986

Maddie was looking through some photos I had posted online and found one of my kids and me in about 1986.  She identified everyone in the photo but one person, and asked me “Grammy, who is that?”  I told her it was me, and she repeated her question two more times in disbelief.

She finally said:  You’re as little as your kids!
I said: well Maddie I was a lot younger then, and the kids had mostly gotten as big as me (with the exception of Wretch, who was about Maddie’s age).  (No way was I going to comment on what she obviously meant, which was that I was THINNER.)

Then Duncan started in: that’s you?  that’s YOU?  THAT’S YOU???
Me: Yes Duncan it is me.
Duncan: You look like you need to be married.
Me: I was Duncan, to Gramps.  That’s why I was as LITTLE AS THE KIDS…I got married when I was a kid…(sort of…I was 17).  🙂

Gramps, me and some of the kids and grandkids in fall 2014

Link up any Throwback Thursday photos you would like to share, in the comments below.

…laugh, life is good! ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter

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my last friday, friday reflection: why do i write?

This week I chose to use the question “why do you write?” as my Friday Reflections prompt.

It’s no secret.  I write for my grandkids first, and family second.  That anyone reads my blog still amazes me.  I mean, how interesting can the things I write about be, really?  Unless you all read it for the same reason I read lots of blogs:

To get a glimpse of how you think, feel, and be a part of your world/life for a brief time.

I was reading blogs long before I was writing one (which is almost 5 years now).  I hope that when my grandkids are older, they read what I have written and say “oh yeah, I remember that!” and that through my words, poetry, and photographs they will remember me, and someday tell their kids about me.  I think of my blog as a series of letters, published publicly, but still so very much like personal letters I would write to them.

I feel that if I capture just a portion of my memories and daily life, then I have left something of myself behind.

As a child I used to think that only people with huge talent, who were creative and famous in their lifetime, really made their “mark” on the world.  Then I read about people like the artist Vincent Van Gogh (who comes immediately to mind), whose talent was not appreciated until after he died.  Now I am not intimating that I am that talented, nor do I expect to be noted for what I have created during my lifetime.  But what I did want was to leave some kind of stamp behind, something tangible that my family could touch, read, feel, to let them know I was here.

And so my blog happened.  I have painted since I was a child, and been a seriously amateur photographer for many years, but the urge to blog surprised even me.  As time went on and my thoughts meandered all over the place, I thought I would eventually run out of things to say.  I have slowed down a bit from that first furor to capture as much as possible of my thoughts, but I still feel the urge to write, except in times of great stress, when my brain just sort of shuts down.  Eventually, the stress passes and my thoughts start to flow again.  Life is dynamic, and so I realize even as I go through dips, that they will pass, and my thoughts will come again.

Writing, for me, is like the ebb and flow of life…

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

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revelations from a relaxed housewife

I’ve been struck with a serious case of spring fever.  I spent a chunk of change over the weekend on a new, amazingly lightweight vacuum (#Dyson move over, you’ve met your match in the #Shark). This vacuum, while being small, is amazingly strong when it comes to suction, so much so that I find myself being pulled along by it, rather than having to push it, and struggling to run along and keep up.  In 20 minutes the first day I (rather embarrassingly) found it was able to suck up two of the little dust canisters of dirt out of my rug. And that was just down the middle of the house. God knows what is hiding in the corners and under furniture.  I call the new vacuum (drum roll) Jaws.  (Now you weren’t really surprised by that were you?)

I also bought a new mop, mop bucket and other odds and ends, including some flower and herb seeds, and some dahlia bulbs.  Of course, we all know that spring cleaning and flower planting go hand in hand, in an odd way, like ketchup and mustard.  I chose to clean my bathroom first (Steve has his own bathroom too, cleaned by Wretch currently.  When she moves out, I don’t know what I’ll do, because that is no longer my territory and Steve’s lack of cleanliness (as in cleaning up after himself) has caused some really strange things to grow in that shower in the past.  I spent hours cleaning my bathroom yesterday.  Hours.  That included scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees.  When my knees got tired, I discovered that the downward dog comes in real handy for scrubbing floors.  I always knew that yoga would have some hidden benefits, and it paid off handsomely yesterday, saving me from crawling around on my hands and knees for what seemed hours.

Now my bathroom is ready for the twins on Wednesday.  Which means that Duncan will immediately hose the back of the toilet seat and lid, as well as the floor, when he goes to pee.  (Sigh.)  At least I will have a couple days to enjoy my bathroom before it begins to stink like a male urinal.

While I was spring cleaning, I was also cleaning out emails, and files, and stuff.  Cybercleaning I guess you would say, and ran across the following paragraphs sitting in my blog draft box.  I wrote them on February 6, 2014, almost a year ago, and decided I’d throw it in with this post.  It has nothing to do with what I just wrote, but that is kind of the way I roll.  Eclectic right now to my fingertips.

Kids say the funniest things.  From the time they first attempt to say words and make sentences and butcher them in weird combinations, until they are old enough to have a good command of language but are still naive to the nuances and subtleties, kids make adults laugh.  Personally, that’s why I think they were put on earth…to make grownups laugh.  It’s an unwritten law of nature.

My grands are no exception to the kid rule.  Lately Stevie Wonder and I have sniggered behind our hands many times at things they have said.

jack and gramps

Jack (9yrs old and the wisest of the bunch): Gramps you better be careful and don’t get fat.  The girls won’t be interested in you if you are too fat.  That’s why I don’t want to get too fat, the girls won’t like me.
Gramps: Well Jack, I’m not interested in other girls.  I have Grammy. 
Jack: Grammy might leave you. 
Gramps: After 43 years I don’t think I have to worry about that.  (Thinking this would be the end of it.)

Jack: You don’t ever know, Gramps. (Then the zinger.) YOU’RE 43 YEARS OLD?


Maddie had strep throat this week, so Jen took her to the pediatrician when she took Duncan for his well child checkup.  Maddie’s blood pressure was up, probably because of the infection.  Jen said when they got in the exam room, Dunc (whose blood pressure was normal) curled up in a chair, covered his eyes in a dramatic gesture with one hand and laid over the side of the chair.  She knew something was coming.

Dunc: I don’t think I am going to make it.  My blood pressure is too low and that means I don’t have enough blood.  (He’s totally normal by the way.)

john boy

Steve told me that he was displaying a bit of road rage the other day while John was riding with him in the truck.  He said that he had been hollering in the car at people ahead of him to get out of his way.  He was running late getting somewhere and told John:
“If these people would get out of the way, we’d get there faster!”

John, sitting in the back seat taking all of this in, politely asked Steve to roll his window down (he was strapped in a car seat so there was no danger of him falling out).  Steve thought John was hot, so he rolled the window down to give him some fresh air.  He said as soon as he got the window down, John leaned his head out and started shouting
“Get out the way!!!   GET OUT THE WAY!!!”
John loves helping his Gramps.  Guess that extends to road rage too.
We are still laughing.

…laugh, because life is good. ~cath 

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my saturday friday reflection: things that make me smile

Participating in blog prompts is not always an easy endeavor for me.  I tend to dislike boundaries, and will shoot myself in the foot (figuratively) to avoid being tied to any one thing.  But today is an exception.  When I saw the prompt that said to name 30 things that make me smile, I knew this post was a cinch.

I smile easily.  I’ve always been a grinner.  So much so that as I left for school on picture day every year, mum would tell me not to smile too big (my gums would show in a geeky kind of way when I did).  I think most years I forgot her advice as soon as I was out the door.

Smiling doesn’t always show on the outside though.  I experience a lot of secret smiles, and those feel just as good as the visible smiles.  Only in times of great stress do I not smile as much.  The past few months have been like that for me.  But lately I have met some goals, made some changes in my life, and I find I am smiling more.  So today I will share a list of things that make me smile, in no particular order of importance.

1. Smiling.  No, it isn’t as goofy as it sounds.  When I smile at someone, they always smile back.  And that makes me smile more.  All the way inside.  (Smiling is contagious.)
2. My grands.  They turned a middle aged woman into a Grammy.  I smile every time I think of those four goofy, funny kids.
3. Star Trek movies.  I’ve been watching all the original crew movies tonight and realize that some of the best one liners ever written are in those movies, and they have a knack of inserting them into the most serious scenes.  (Scotty just said “then we are dead” in the Undiscovered Country, and Spock replied “I’ve been dead before” in that deadpan way that makes me smile every time.  As I just did.)
4. Cartoons.  Especially cartoons with no speech, just sight gags.  My dad loved the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons and so do I.

5. Audio books.  I have discovered the joy of having someone read a book to me in my ear.  A recent favorite that made me smile (and laugh out loud) was Craig Ferguson’s Between the Bridge and the River. 
6. Social media.  That’s right.  I can read something on Twitter or Facebook and find myself smiling.  Instagram and Pinterest have some great stuff for smiling about too.  A recent post on Facebook that I shared with my sisters was this:

And this leads to….
7. My sisters.  They make me smile.  No matter that we live thousands of miles apart.  I always smile when I think of them.  They are total goofballs, just like I am.
8. My kids.  Different than the grands because they were a lot of work to raise.  Thank goodness they all have my warped sense of humor (with a bit of their dad’s too).
9. Stevie Wonder.  I married him because he made me smile.  Great at jokes and storytelling with an authentic southern accent, he stole my heart with a joke, and he still makes me smile.
10. Funerals.  That’s right.  Some of the best jokes and stories I have heard have been at funerals.
11. Clouds.  I am a cloud watcher.  Not only do they totally relax me, taking me to another place, but I often find myself smiling.
12. My dogs. Especially Gabe.  He is a natural clown.  Caesar is softhearted and loving.  Gabe is a mauler and licker and loves to poke his nose in everything.
13. Ivy Jones, my grandcat.  At 15, her cranky personality makes Wretch and I laugh every day about some antic or behavior.  Today she was wailing at me when I got home, and when I gave her some of her treats, she sniffed them, then looked around at me with a haughty expression as if to say “you expect me to eat THIS?”  Needless to say, she got the real deal, some turkey meat.

Now I am getting into the smiling/laughing category, which still counts in my eyes.

14. Falling.  I am a chronic faller.  Years ago I plowed up the pavement in our local town with my face.  Hours later, sitting and waiting at the ER (Wretch was with me), I looked up to see her STARING at my face.  I looked down with my eyes only, and could see my top lip poking out beyond the end of my nose.  I looked back up at her, and we both burst out laughing.   
15. Steve’s pacemaker.  Yep that’s right.  The day he got his pacemaker put in, the kids showed up to be with me.  When we got him back in the room and we realized he was going to be ok, it was time for joking and smiling.

the brats
Steve’s attempt at corpse pose.
16. People watching.  I love to watch people, and seeing how they interact often makes me smile.  Especially parents interacting with their kids.  Watching parents try to keep up with active kids gives me a big grin.  And a sigh of relief that I don’t have to do that anymore.
17. Touching stories about real people.  Humans can do such evil, horrible things to each other, and it is always gratifying to see something good done by one human for another.  Today this is what moved me to smile, and tears:

18. Watching someone succeed at something for the first time makes me smile. The day Duncan looked up at me, (after his mommy’s struggle to find the right medication for ADD) and told me “I’m smart Grammy” made me grin from ear to ear.  I knew he was smart all along, just trapped in his own head.


19. Meeting a new friend for the first time.  That first smile, and hug, sets a tone of love and acceptance.
20. Marmite.  Thought I’d hate it, but I love it.  Even the name makes me smile.
21. Meeting old friends again after years apart.  I ran into one of my best friends at my high school reunion a while back and we were both full of smiles for each other.  It was as though no time had passed, and we fell into the place we were years ago, totally comfortable and enjoying being with each other.
22. Painting.  I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a young child.  I often smile as I work on an idea.  It is the joy I feel, coming to my face.
23. Secret smiles.  An inside or private joke that only I understand, or something between me and another person that is shared with a glance and a smile.
24. Rewatching old movies that made me smile the first time I saw them, and smiling at the same moments when I watch them again.  It’s like laughing at the same jokes, etc.  Causes smiles.

I’m going to end with #25, because it is the smile that I am wearing as I edit and read what I have written.  I live a blessed life.  A very blessed life.  In the midst of a world that can be so full of hate and anger, cynicism and cruelty, and sadness….I find reason to smile every day.

Think about it…what makes you smile?

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


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.

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


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