just my thoughts

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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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why we eat our young

Someone recently told me something that disturbed me deeply. It was something I had heard before, but I chewed on it this time for a while and have been pondering about it since. It involves human nature, and behavior. This was the story:

“A young woman recently graduated from nursing school, and went to work in one of the larger hospitals in one of the largest cities in the state.  She was hired in as a new grad nurse in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and was excited and enthusiastic about being a nurse.

Her joy was short lived however.  The staff treated her so poorly, and were so rude and unhelpful, that eventually she quit, and now works as a nurse in a non-nursing position, away from the bedside nursing she had dreamed of doing.”

Two things disturbed me about this. The obvious thing was her maltreatment from her peers. It isn’t the first time I have seen this happen. Over the years I have watched nurses who are rude to the nurses they are training, who don’t have patience to take the time to give them the guidance and support they need to become excellent nurses. They often do this because they feel they don’t have the time to spend training and mentoring due to their own workload (this is another issue I will talk about at a later time), or they just don’t have the skill to teach. Not every nurse is cut out to be a teacher/mentor.

The other aspect that disturbed me is the administrator who hires a new nurse and puts her in a high stress area to work, where extensive, expert skills are needed to keep a patient alive, straight out of nursing school. A nurse does not begin to even understand her job for the first six months, and functions at a very basic level. The book that brought this home to me and taught me a lot about the stages of experience for a nurse was a little book written by Dr. Patricia Benner, From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Practice in Clinical Nursing Practice.  In simple terms, it takes 2 to 3 years to reach the third, or competent, level of nursing doing the same or similar type of work.

To gain experience in an ICU, you have to work in one. This is where it is important to choose the proper preceptor for a new nurse hiring in, give her a workload she can handle with the added responsibility of training a new nurse, and monitor the relationship to make sure that it is the right fit for both nurses. I have to say that in 20+ years of being a nurse in many different areas, I have never seen this happen. EVER.

As I heard the story of the young nurse’s disillusionment and resignation from her job, I was saddened, and thought of the saying “nurses eat their young”. Simply put, it meant we don’t take care of the new nurses coming into the profession, but instead throw them in on their own, with little or no support from the experienced nurses. The meaning hit me full force, and I felt anger and frustration. Anger at the nurses who didn’t bring this new nurse on board, and support her as she tried to gain her footing in a highly technical, stressful job. Nurses too burned out, too overworked, too whatever…to see this nurse as the future for all of us, not only nurses, but also patients. Someday those nurses will be patients in a hospital, and facing the same kinds of attitudes they displayed. I wish it wasn’t so, but I fear it will be.

The ultimate responsibility though, goes to hospital administrators who don’t encourage a different culture of training and mentoring for new nurses. Who think of nurses as a disposable commodity, with access to a never ending supply. As long as nurses are thought of this way, this type of behavior and treatment will go on.

It doesn’t happen everywhere, on every unit. But to lose even one new nurse, full of enthusiasm and desire to care for people, is a tragedy. One we will all pay the price for, ultimately.

Let’s stop eating our young.

…life is good. ~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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nightlife is the bright life

Reminiscing tonight after seeing something on the television triggered a memory for tonight’s photo response to the NaBloPoMo prompt, NIGHTLIFE.

When Jim (our middle child) was about 4 or 5 years old, we were eating dinner and talking when we noticed that Jim had gotten quiet.  We looked at him and started laughing.  He had fallen asleep in his chair, with a half eaten chicken leg still grasped in his left hand, his arm dangling at the side of the chair. As we laughed, it led to another “Jim story” from about the same time.  Steve got up before daylight one morning to find the refrigerator door standing wide open. Lying on the floor in the light cast from the open door was the red rind off a piece of bologna, an empty cheese wrapper and an empty soda can. When Steve checked on Jim, he found half a piece of bologna laying on the pillow beside his head.  He asked Jim why he had left the door to the refrigerator open. Jim’s response: “because it was dark and I was afraid I couldn’t see to get back to bed.”

Nightlife in my house revolves around the family refrigerator.  The welcoming gleam of the interior light provides security in a darkened room, foods and treats to scavenge, and drama after a big family meal when we struggle and fight to find places to stuff all the leftovers. Then there is the unsolved mystery of the light. Is it on all the time, or only when the door opens?  Even Jim still hasn’t figured that one out, 37 years later.

(Happy Birthday to my sweet Sneezer, who turned 42 on May 25.)

…life is good. ~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.


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


friday reflections

The Friday Reflections prompt that spoke to me today was this one:
Reflect on the week just gone, listing one high point, one low point, and something you have learned.

Human beings are, for the most part, not solitary by nature.  I’m not saying we don’t need time alone, but we are social for the most part and want to belong to or be with others.

I have belonged to a wonderful small blogging group for about 2 years or more now.  Diverse in viewpoints and styles, we are scattered across the globe.  Belonging to the group has added a lot of meaning to my life.  I have been mostly inactive for many months now in that group, as I pursued another goal.  I popped in from time to time, read their posts from time to time, and tried to maintain at least a thread of contact until life returned to normal for me.  They were always supportive, even as my creativity dried up so I could focus on the analytical, nursing side of my brain.

I’m a registered nurse for many years now, and last August I decided to pursue certification as a Wound, Ostomy and Continence nurse.  Although I still have the certification exams facing me (three of them!), the high point for me last week was receiving this in my email inbox:

After all those months, a large amount of money put into the course, and three comprehensive finals that about scared the pants off me, I passed!  Normally I don’t blow my own horn, but darn I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  And the learning experience and knowledge I gained as I completed the theory and practicum (clinical component) was invaluable.
So my low point this past week was the exhausting 7 hours of comprehensive finals I had to pass, and the high point was the email saying it had all paid off.  I’ve learned that no matter what your age, you should never stop pushing yourself, and reaching that bit beyond your comfort zone for the prize just almost, but not quite, out of reach.  And never give up! 
Now if I can just pass the certification tests…
Have any of you ever experienced extremes of high and low points in the same week?  Life is weirdly wonderful right now…and I am ready to rejoin my wonderful blogging group, and the people who have been so supportive of me.  Thanks PBAUs!

…it may be weird, but life is still good. ~cath
find me @jonesbabie on Twitter