musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “inspiration”


I’m at the library. I’m driving myself nuts.

I am working on a really tough chapter to edit, trying to condense and strengthen an important scene. It’s a kickball game, a hovering bullying threat, a lot of misplaced emotions and misdirected kick in the head.

You would think it would be easier to write than this. I’ve rewritten it dozens of times already.

Summer camps have let loose their wards, about the same age as the characters I am editing, in the stacks. They wander in small gaggles and pairs, some individually. It’s like they all know I am right here and each has to walk within a foot of my work area.

I nearly gave up and packed it in for home, then I realized most of the noise was in my own head. I am too distracted these days. It’s a painful process to be editing this same chapter yet again. But I read it, and it only works about seventy-five percent. The idea comes across, but it’s a little flat. Until the kick in the head. I really need to build the emotional pressure a bit more concisely so that when the kick happens, it explodes like a ripe tomato thrown at a wall. Figuratively speaking, of course. There will be no murders in this book. But there really needs to be spike of the pressure that has been building through the book up to this point. This kick is a minor pre-release to the main confrontational event. It is a nail in bike tire, not the whole crashing flat that comes later.

I am definitely having a moment of why am I still working on this, but it will pass. It kind of is now, as the summer campers appear to dissipate enough that I can hear the air conditioning working overtime against the heat.

Back to it, Cath, that’s it.

But first, I want to share something I read before I left home today to edit. It’s an inspiring account of personal endurance. Grab a cuppa your favorite beverage and settle in. It’s a tad long, but it’ll do wonders, I promise. It inspired me to stick with this manuscript, to stick out this editing session, to stick out writing.

And that’s the least of the inspiration. This is big Life Stuff. Thank you, Max. Vineman 7.3 2011

my other boys

I stayed up way too late last night.

The Red Sox went into a 0-0 16 inning game against Tampa Bay. My endurance gave out in the 15th, before Dustin Pedroia made the winning RBI and then Papelbon’s and Gonzales’s close.

But in the 11th inning, Josh Reddick made a thing of beauty catch against the wall and rolled, keeping it in his glove. That’s just darned good baseball.

I’ve been watching Pedroia play since he was a pup. He still kind of looks like one beside his teammates, but no one in the game has played with more heart and fire than him in the past several years. If anyone was going to bring that endurance match home last night, it was my boy Pedroia. Ellsbury comes close, and now Reddick, too.

And you know what? That is why I love the Red Sox. These guys are highly fallible guys, prone to injury, because they put everything they have into the game. Each moment matters to them in a way you don’t see with some of the other teams. The Red Sox players, individually and as a team, have more heart even than their deepest loving fans of any sport. I give my kudos to Terry Francona for keeping that kind of spirit alive in them from game to game. It’s not just the skill, the talent and the know-how, the calculations and the play. It’s the pure love of baseball.

I love these guys like they’re my own.


A little while ago, I brought the corn husk materials from last night’s dinner out to my compost pile. I perused the pickings around the peas. I popped one pod in  my mouth. I’ll let the others linger and grow another day or so. I strolled by my little swiss chard piece of a plot in front of the okra,  and was struck with an idea for breakfast. I picked a few leaves thinking of combining them with eggs, and considered what else to add as I reentered the house.

Last week’s storms broke Grandma’s hanging tomato plant. The remaining tomatoes are ripening on our kitchen counter.

I chopped some garlic as I started to scramble the eggs. I gave the swiss chard a few licks with the knife and tossed those in. I took a small tomato from the opposite counter did the same. A little salt and pepper later, and voila!

Garden fresh swiss chard and tomato scramble, from garden to plate.

This is why I love to garden. Everything you grow yourself inspires and tastes better, from plant to table in ten minutes.

saturday morning convo

Grandma, Honey and I volunteer for the Virginia Arts Festival. Last night in Williamsburg, we ushered for a concert of Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Absolutely outstanding show, I was mesmerized. So was Honey. These are giants of jazz, for those who don’t know. Honey and I had to educate a few of the other volunteers a little bit about who these musicians were. I forget sometimes that while there are some people who are absolutely fanatical about jazz – like one guy I saw keeping set lists, there are many more who have never dipped their toes in that syncopated water. Honey and I fall somewhere between those extremes, a little closer to the fanatics.

So while all three adults of the house were in Williamsburg, Mr. Cynic babysat. Babysitting largely comprised of viewings of Kung Fu Panda, expected, and apparently Captain Comic added Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius.  

This morning, after our late night arrival home, Toots wanted to wake us – twice. The second time, she climbed into our bed with the Jimmy Neutron DVD case in hand.

Toots (points to the picture on the cover): Das Jimmy Neutron.
Mom: M-hm.
Toots: And das Carl.
Mom: M-hm.
Toots: And das Jimmy Neutron’s dog, Tonnor.
Mom: I don’t think Jimmy Neutron’s dog’s name is Connor. Daddy, isn’t it something like Einstein?
Honey (slowly rouses from sleep): …………………………………………Goddard.
Mom: Oh yea, the dog is named after a famous scientist, Goddard.
Toots: We sing dat in pweschool.
Mom:  What?
Toots: Goddard.
Mom: What?
Toots: We sing Goddard in pweschool, before we eat.
Mom (light slowly dawns): OH!
Toots (sings): Goddard fadder, Goddard fadder, we thank you, we thank you…..
Mom (chuckles): That’s God our Father, not Goddard, silly!
Toots: Oh.

excerpts from both ends of a candle

Teen Lock-in in Richmond.
Good youth, good combined fellowships
games, conference, identity discussion, chaperoned
yes I’m crazy and incredibly sleep deprived.

Commute back to Hampton Roads,
drop off someone else’s young person,
home to empty house, worn out teen and me.
Shower, near tears tired,
buy present, go to housewarming,
hug people, leave before utter collapse.
amuse friends with wild hair and falling out eyeballs.
home, old twilight episodes viewed through napping ears,
odd dream narrated by Rod Serling
rest of family returns from Busch Gardens,
Honey and I have a date night,
Eight years since our first date.

Dinner out, epic fail, every point of service missed,
given wrong food, missed romantic comedy showing
so we watched a later showing of 3D Thor instead, fun
home, collapse, 6 hours later:

mother’s day begun in annoyance, I was first up
except Mr. 6am – Captain Comic.
All three kids, highly uncooperative.
Child Dedication service for Toots

tears, weepy from 3 weeks of sleep deprivation.
Thank goodness I didn’t have to sing with the choir.
Go to Lowes, find potted plants for grandma and rose bush for me to plant
Mr. Cynic helped while Honey waited in car with other two who were NOT
getting along.
Catch up with friends and driiiiiive to go
strawberry picking –
perfect, beautiful afternoon, sunripe strawberries
bursting with flavor, friends, kids, homemade strawberry ice cream
Captain Comic hurdled the rows of groundling berries,
Toots ran and ran and ran,
Mr. Cynic ate the best strawberry of his entire life
mutant, twoheaded thing he picked,
kids still arguing on car ride home.
It had been a long ride to Surrey.
Long ride home.

Captain Comic swore he was not going to pick any, do you hear me, mom? None. ha. 

There was more, I just can’t recall it all. My brain has leaked out of my ears. And today is my second day of dental work this week. I am not a fan.

But yesterday?  My muse let me grab a comet by the tail. It was a surprising and excellent ride. Gave depth to a critical scene in the manuscript. Yea me!

There’s more, plenty more, including gardening and job prospects, but I’m still trying to recover from weeks of go go go. Maybe tonight I’ll go to bed early. Please remind me.


My first born turns sixteen today.

Fall 1996, Gaga & Papa’s house in Ct.

Tears start now.

Not because I’m sad, not because so much of my life has passed in that time, not because I mourn the passing of his childhood.

But because I am very proud of the child becoming a man before my eyes, as only a mother can know. Love keeps cracking me open to my own vulnerabilities and strengths that I discovered through growing him inside sixteen years ago and watching him grow, as best as I can without interfering with his fully realizing himself.

16 on 16:

1. He’s a very old soul, and a very old soul is he.
2. He sneezes a lot.
3. He plays a mean electric bass.
4. He’s teaching himself guitar.
5. He smirks, always.
6. He sings, really really well, competitively well.
7. He writes songs.
8. He writes books, has since he was in kindergarten.
9. He’s fragile, in good ways.
10. He’s strong, of spirit, not so much in body.
11. He is very very protective of those he loves.
12. He oozes into furniture, merges, becomes one.
13. He’s kind of a space cadet.
14. He has a very dry wit. (Hence calling him Mr. Cynic here)
15. He has good hair.
16. The girls think he’s cute, kind of like a pocket rock star.

I love him very much, and I like him, too. He’s pretty darn cool. And speaking as his mother, I’m kind of glad he’s still a pipsqueak.

Valentine’s Day 2011, He let me do this.

I love you, K-Bear, Happy Birthday. 


I love snow. 

view thru front window and yucca

When we lived in Massachusetts, we got a lot of it. And that is an understatement for the region we were in. Here, not so much.  Last night they cancelled schools all over Hampton Roads just because of the threat of snow. When we lived in the snow valley up North, we’d be up before dawn shovelling three feet of heavy white off our cars to get to school which didn’t even have delays most of the time.

Everyone around me thinks I’m crazy the way I profess my love for the winter white.  But even if I was born in Atlanta, it snowed on the day I was born.  And you know what?  Every birthday of my life, it has snowed.  I consider it my special blessing. Like a promise from the creator, an inside wink.  Last year, it did not snow on my birthday here in Hampton Roads, Virginia, but it did where I grew up in Connecticut.  When I talked to my dad, I was thrilled. Because once again, even if not directly for me, it did snow on my birthday. Other birthdays here, I have spotted lonely tiny flakes.

This morning, Captain Comic was the last to know about the cancellation (ha, he finished his homework…)  Upon being informed:

Captain Comic: Woo-hoo!  Wait – (quick confirming look out the window) There’s no snow.

Mom: We’re not in Massachusetts anymore are we?  Funny isn’t it?  But they are not prepared for snow on the roads down here the way we were in MA.

Capt. Comic: Oh right.

Mom: Remember all the snow we used to get?

Capt. Comic (wistfully):  I loved crawling through the tunnels…

And that about sums it up.  My favorite place to live my whole life was in that little town exactly because of all that snow and sledding and snowball fights and building snow forts with the boys….but it’s fine that I traded for the beach in close proximity here. Where I grew up in Connecticut, I was lucky to have both the great sled yard of the neighborhood and a bike ride to the beach.

Anyway, today there is snow, and it’s slick and beautiful.  Even I won’t drive in it. and I watch the tiny flakes swirl in the wind, fast and dancing out my window.

camellia from an upstairs window

Capt. Comic has already been out to ‘the hill’ – really a berm at the back of the neighborhood baseball field. He was so excited.  No layers or boots speak of, just his coat as he dragged the blue plastic sled around the bend. He came back in shortly after, wanting hot cocoa.

Toots has been watching it swirl and fall out the window, entranced by the magic that has always been such a joy for me.

same upstairs window looking straight out.

And even Mr. Cynic awoke with a smile, and headed out in it to ride his bike to the next subdivision to his friend’s house. I just hope he found some gloves to wear…He is disappointed that his Jazz Choir’s Winter Concert is postponed, and he hopes that it is rescheduled for tomorrow rather than cancelled altogether.  He “worked too hard for the past four months to not perform!” And he wants to wear the red sparkly vest and bow tie. It’s like a badge of honor.  I never would have suspected, though the kid still rocks a necklace, much like he did as a toddler.

My Christmas shopping was slightly thwarted, I tried to drive, but it was too slick even for me.  I was smart and turned around at the first corner.  I can’t say the same for the rest of the people in this area who are currently on the road.  That’s part of why not just the schools, but a lot of other places are closed today.  It’s okay, I did a little online shopping and shipping said it would get to my nephews in time.

Hmmm…the flakes are getting a little bigger….that means it’s a hair warmer and beautiful.  I may finally get in the Christmas spirit after all.

weekword results: pyrophoric

My Pyrophoric entry is a lot of little sparks.  It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, or month really, very hard to focus on one thing well. 

1.  A week before Thanksgiving, a cousin of mine passed.  I was too far away to get to her funeral, but I will always remember how she sparkled.  She spent decades crippled by Rheumatoid Arthritis and then Multiple Sclerosis to boot.  But she never complained of her pain or even showed it, though she was pretty much curled up in a little ball.  She always smiled, asked how you were, and had a twinkle in her eye.

2. My girl Toots, sparks my heart several times a day, everyday. She has a twinkle in her eye, too.

3. Captain Comic sparks a laugh from me, or several, everyday. There is no way to know what spark of the way he thinks will come shooting out of his mouth like a firecracker.
4. Mr. Cynic and I both love turning the lights out and chomping on Wint-O-Green Lifesavers to watch them spark….hmmmm, I should go pick some up.  It’s been quite a while.
5.  When I see my Honey, after a long day of him away at the office, he still sparks a little something in me. It’s a chemical reaction.

Please see what else Pyrophoric sparked for the many creative people below:

Carmen at Tails of a Biomouse

Joye at Joyefulart

Maria at Simply Cool Stuff

Christine E-E at Silver Linings 4 ME

Sally at Diario

Sally at Sow and Sew


On Monday, please go to Joyefulart to find out the next Weekword prompt. Joye is hosting next!

walk across america for pancreatic cancer

BJ Timoner is one of the first people I met when I arrived on my college campus a hundred years ago. At the time, he was very welcoming, and made me much more at ease in my new surroundings. He is going to walk from San Diego to New York starting on Christmas Day, December 25, 2010. He is doing this to raise funding for pancreatic cancer research through The Lustgarten Foundation

BJ lost his father at the age of five to this disease which still does not have early detection testing.  When someone is diagnosed it is generally already too late.  BJ is just reaching his father’s age of passing, 41, and decided to do what he could so that future families will not have to live the life his family did, without the presence of a parent or other loving family member.

Pancreatic cancer comes in fourth in the statistics of cancer fatalities. 

Fourth, people.  That is too big to not have early detection tests available.  By now, through the success of other cancer tests, for prostrate, colon and breast cancers for instance, we know that early detection is the monumental key to treatment and therefore survival of formerly guaranteed to be fatal cancers. 

Please, friends, go to his website:

to learn a little more and to donate.  Every dollar goes to research only, none to support his endeavor or him personally.  Remember, even if you barely have enough to get by during this Holiday Season, even a little bit from each of us can go a long way together. 

Thank you.

list it tuesday: numbers

On the side of my monitor remains the Post-it list of photos I uploaded for my blog the other day about our hike on the Noland Trail.

Notice how I start the list at about halfway through, then return to the beginning?  I also apparently changed my mind from 11 to 12.

I seem incapable of doing anything in a less than cockeyed manner.  Then again, I wouldn’t be me if I did otherwise, right?

Go check out aimee’s post in artsyville to see more lists from around the interwebz. It’s fun, and some people are much more artistically adventurous with their lists than I am.

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