musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “self-care”

pardon me

……while I realign, please.

Thank you. 

oops, i did it again

Remember das boot?

And the lesson I wanted to pass on to you?

Yea, I haven’t quite learned it yet.

Yesterday, I sang the Brahms piece in both Sunday services for a remembrance of 9-11 on its tenth anniversary. Our little choir had worked very hard on it, and for some reason, the music just looked foreign during first service, even though we had just had a really good last rehearsal of it prior to that service. I wasn’t the only one who had that experience. Our RE director (an alto) remarked between services that she had the same experience. In that conversation, she mentioned that it seemed the person who was supposed to lead the youth group during second service was not there yet. I replied, I’d be happy to go over there after we sang in the early part of the second service. The middle school leader was happy to get them started in the discussion, but had her own class to cover.

Second service’s rendition of the Brahms went much much better. It was beautiful.

Then I trotted over to the other building, stopping at my van to switch from the cute new heels (first pair I’ve worn in ages because the ankle finally felt like I could for a few hours) into my everyday flipflops.

Funny enough, I did great in the heels. I owned those sassy little pointy burgundy fake alligators.

Well, I got all the way to the other building, across a lovely grassy field peppered with spiky horse chestnuts to discover that the scheduled youth leader was there after all. I made a cheerful speedy exit to head back and join Honey for one of his rare appearances, having brought the kids for second service while I was on choir duty since earlier in the morning.

Just as I stepped onto the grass from that little parking lot, my ankle collapsed under me. I dropped and rolled, purse flying, travel mug of tea arching in a totally different direction. I remember a thought process along the line of I better just go with this, because if I try to fight it, I’ll re-injure the inside tendon.

I found myself lying in the grass, assessing damages and and realizing first, I was covered in yard scrap, there goes the outfit (I’m not much of a fashionista, but dang it, I’d put in some effort that morning), and then the pain kicked in. I had saved the tendon, but the entire rest of my foot was taking my breath away, briefly. Then I looked around for someone to laugh this off with, and discovered, not a single person had seen my stupendous pratfall. It was youtube worthy – an AFV winner.Then I wondered if I can or should get up and walk. Yes, I actually thought, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! I did get up, but maybe I shouldn’t have.

The choir director and a smattering of choir members were chatting in the lobby as I hobbled back in the door. I confirmed, no one saw a thing. I went in to service, and joined Honey in the back row. Next thing I knew, choir director was leaning into the sanctuary to hand me an ice pack. He’s also a kids’ soccer coach, he knows about first aid.

Well, after service, we hung around for a bit, I chatted with another mom at the playground, who is also my belly dance teacher, and then we got into the two separate vehicles to head home. I did think briefly about having Mr. Cynic drive the van home, but he’s not comfortable on the main roads yet. So I drove wincing all the way home, stopping and hopping for gas. Only Captain Comic joined me for the ride in Bertha.

I put my foot up when we got home and took some naproxen with the sandwich that Mr. Cynic made for me. A couple of hours later, bruising and inability to walk finally made me admit the need to go to Urgent Care, while Honey called me a wuss and Captain Comic slapped him upside the head for the name-calling. Note to self: quit joking like that with the literal kid.

After a few hours there with Honey, and two rounds of xrays, I walked out with a latex free wrap, latex free crutches, and having given my info and Mr. Cynic’s to the xray tech because her son is a 16 year old drummer looking for a band, and mine is a bassist and songwriter whose band never gets together to rehearse. But they go to rival high schools, so we’ll see what comes of that. I also walked out with orders to get back in das boot and see my podiatrist (the one who gave me the steroid shot back in June). Oh, and  diagnosis of spraining all the ligaments across my metatarsals and a possible break in the second metatarsal.

I twisted that ankle like a pro. I do it often enough. I broke the 5th metatarsal doing so in three inch Mia clogs back in 1980 in my high school’s linoleum hall.

I think I just have to admit, that with all of the mayhem that is built into my life with three spread out kids, one with Asperger’s, and my attempts to write, take care of myself, help others out, like being in rotation as a youth leader, being in choir, etc, that adding something on the fly, literally takes me down for the count, and beyond.

My appointment with the podiatrist is in a couple of hours. Thanks goodness he could squeeze me in. I hope he doesn’t have the same results from spontaneity as I do.

distracted and frustrated

This post is kind of a way for me to work out hitting a wall in my manuscript. All I want is to finish it. In my heart, I still love it. But after so many edits, this edit is really a bore to do. In my house, two kids are gone for a month, including the most distracting one. In and around my house is a lot of neglected house stuff, largely due to my trying to focus on the manuscript.
When I try to write at home, even if I have my mother-in-law take the three year old out of the house for a couple of hours, invariably I putz around finding other things to do until, lo and behold, they return, and I haven’t even pulled the critiqued manuscripts out of my tote bag.  Like the day last week, when Toots decided waking up throwing up was the way to go that day rather than out of the house with Grandma. I sank her into the couch with Netflix streaming kid videos, and the next thing I knew, I found myself hacking branches in the yard in 100 degree heat, because that apparently was immensely preferable to actually finishing my novel.
And I had a good session on it the day before when I did my usual Tuesday routine of packing everything up and taking it to the library to edit. Okay, so the next day, off to the library I went, and knocked through two chapters in a fairly painless edit session.
As I write this, I look back over this very morning, noting that, yes, I had an early doctor appointment, from which I left a bit upset, mostly just burnt out on doing the specialist shuffle, so I gave myself permission to see another human being, I mean tea chat with a friend, and then another friend who is back in town visiting from far far away showed up, and finally I trotted myself off to the library. I couldn’t settle in as the place was teaming with people, and then the summer camps came tromping through in droves, so I turned right around, having never even opened the laptop.
Home again, Toots was getting a dose of the one program I don’t let her watch, which frustrated me, because I thought I was pretty clear about that to Grandma, but I didn’t make a stink about it. (Do we really need one more show for her to request immediately and often?) I preferred to focus and to attempt to write during and after lunch, Toots’s nap time, and when Grandma typically goes upstairs for a reading rest of her own.
Well, then I started getting ideas. My, isn’t it a lovely day out there, not a hundred degrees, now that we had a good thunderstorm last night. I know! I’ll go out to the picnic table around the side of the house that has a little privacy and an outlet! I got all set up and touched my black keyboard in the sun – youch! like a stove burner that has been left on.
Trot everything – drink, lunch, boiling laptop back inside, two trips – turn on the a/c in the office, and try to “white noise out” that Toots is not interested in napping at that time. Stare at my laptop screen and start typing this instead.
So what is my problem? Why am I having such difficulty with starting a single editing session? Any session for that matter? The excitement is inside me to Git ‘er Done!  Yet instead, here I am devising ways to rearrange the office so that I can work better, more comfortably, get more organized, etc. Frankly, I have rearranged the place a dozen times, and nothing seems to work, and that box of papers that grows and shrinks but never disappears is still in more or less the same spot – not in the file cabinet – it has sat for the past five years since we moved it to Virginia from Massachusetts. Don’t ask me how many residences that thing has moved from or the decades involved, I implore you! It is my my little hoarder albatross. It’s a smallish box, I swear.
I have little over a week before I retrieve the boys and my mayhem returns to its full tilt, after a camping trip with all the kids.  I have about twelve, albeit, short chapters to go, a bunch of query letters to write and send, and a writing group twiddling their thumbs to see this last draft before I send it out.
Maybe just putting it down where I can see it: twelve chapters in about as many days, is what I needed to do. I sure hope so. Once I get started, I’m good for at least a chapter a session, so now, I just need to do it. Hello five a.m. for the next week?   Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

mountain adventure

I arrived home with West Virginia mountain soil ground into my skin, everything smelling slightly musky and very smokey from rain and campfire and feeling more alive than I’ve felt in a long time. Hot, sore, soaked, dirty, smelly and utterly alive.

Honey and I have this little thing. When we’re in sync about something, any little thing, we have kind of a slide-five, confirmation of everything right between us. We did that a lot more this trip than we have for a long time.

I had dreams, amazing dreams of people far away but near to my heart, as I slept with my head in a Civil War trench on a hilltop, in a damp tent, surrounded by RV city. One friend currently working, far from his family and friends, in Argentina. Others in a far off land…I think it’s called Wisconsin. 😉

This is who I am. I am of the land, mountains, rivers, sea and sky and night fires. This is where I am happiest, most content, completely myself.

And I haven’t been camping in over 20 years. Now, I know why I feel such discontent. It’s not the suburbs. It’s not my family circumstances, or other minute aggravations of the day in day out or the lack of writing time to myself.

It’s that I haven’t fed my soul the way it loves to be fed most in such a long long time. A lifetime. A roasted marshmallow soul under the moon and stars soul. A sun on my skin, rain on my hat, kid in a backpack on my back soul. A dog leash carabiner’ed to the backpack soul.

This is the seven year old Cathy, who when my family couldn’t call me in from dinner so easily, my mother sent my brothers out to look up the nearest tree for me.

But I seem to be starting at the end here, rather than the beginning. and this is probably going to be a very long blog with lots of pictures. So maybe I will leave the end here, at the beginning, and give you the beginning to the end tomorrow, and maybe the day after, and again, after that.

I am happy, my family is safe. I love my spouse, and my daughter camped for the first time. Her favorite part was ‘camping’. Parental translation: sleeping in the tent with Mommy and Daddy and Lucy.

“Can you see the real me, doctor, doctor?”

Honey and Toots at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers

I obviously need to do this more. The boys are coming next month.  Life is good, go for hike. Roast a marshmallow over an open fire, under the moon.

balance points

This week, between the kids’ first week home from school and a gazillion doctor appointments – no worries, just getting updates on old stuff – I have not written or edited, seen only a couple of friends for thirty minutes, and the continuing hovering forecast of rain and wearing a boot have prevented trips to the neighborhood pool. We’re all a bit stir crazy, one week into summer. And Grandma caught a bad cold and has been off of her usual exercise routine, too.

I think this week was an exercise in finding a routine amidst overall changes.

I have not watered the garden consistently, because it seems the rain will really pour, then not much happens. Then I think the rain will come overnight, and it really doesn’t. And it’s tougher to drag the hose around the yard with this dang boot.

Captain Comic wants to learn poker, badly, and I want to teach him. Poker was a big influence in my family life when I was a kid, I love playing cards, especially with my dad.We sure had some good Gin tournaments, mano a daughtero. But I know I need a good visual aid for Captain Comic to see all the levels of win, etc. Somehow I need the time and focus to teach him the multi-step processes of poker, when he is compromised in multi-step processing. It will take more than one session, that is for certain. Much frustration will have to be abated, on both parts.

Honey and I had a late night date at a combo pub cinema place last night for our fifth anniversary. We arrived a bit early for the showing of Bridesmaids, and sat at the bar. While we waited, I learned the difference between us and how that difference is a good thing. We were quiet for a moment, so I asked, “What would you like to see in the next five years?

Honey: What do you mean? I can’t see into the future.
Me: What would you like to see. What do you want in life?
Honey: I don’t know, I’m pretty good. A hot meal, a warm bed, a chance to relaxed a little more.
Me: Really? That’s kind of nice.

See, I am always looking around the bend, aiming for something, having big dreams, wanting something, looking for the next adventure. In his way, Honey is content to just be.

At times, this can be a source of frustration for both of us, but I think, at other times, it works to both of our advantages that we come at the world and each other from different angles. I get him off of his butt for an adventure. While it may take a little initial effort, he always seems to appreciate it after the first push. Conversely, he gets me to stay in the moment and just chill and realize that not everything needs to be done right now, not everything needs to be planned or in constant motion. A little stillness is a good thing.

So we find our balance.

I need to find a way to fit writing into the week while the boys are home. I think I will manage that a little better next week, when I don’t have so many appointments. Also, Grandma seems to be feeling a little better today and will likely get back to her morning exercises routine, away from the mayhem of home. I know how important her exercise routine is for her. She’s better about keeping one than I am.

I have written a summer daily schedule and hung it up for Captain Comic to have a reference as to what this hour of the day is for. Poor guy kept floating around not knowing what to do with himself, leaving a wake of difficult relationships, snack scraps and random detritus until I did.

Toots needs a little more interaction than I’ve been giving her this week, while I’ve focused on my medical stuff and whatnot. There’s been a bit too much PBS and Netflix children’s program selections going on.  I think if the forecast perks up to the sunny side, we’ll get to the pool more next week. This will be good for the Capt., too.

Mr. Cynic has been a big help this week, and found ways to hang with his friends and girlfriend. He’s getting more and more independent, even if he is still hesitant on the learning to drive sessions.

And, even after all these years, Honey and I continue to learn each other, and how to negotiate what it is that simultaneously drew us to each other, and what drives us most crazy on a daily basis.

Ain’t love grand?

It’s summer. I think by now, all schools across the country are out for the season, the days are long on light and open hours. Don’t forget to enjoy them for what they are, a chance to relax a little more…and maybe have a good adventure,or two.

anatomy of ankleland

Some of you may recall this story from about a year ago:

You can click the picture for a link if you haven’t heard the tale, but about a year ago, I hurt my ankle pretty badly. I haven’t really recovered. In fact, from favoring the initial ligature/tendon injury which was never properly diagnosed, I developed tarsal tunnel syndrome.
TarsalTunnel
Click pic to read about it.

Then from not dealing with the tarsal tunnel syndrome, I developed tendonitis on the posterior blah blah, a tendon sheathe along a muscle that runs from the knee down behind the calf muscle, close to the tibia. I lost track when the doctor was talking yesterday as he gave me a cortisone injection for tarsal tunnel syndrome. I left the doctor’s office and drove in circles (yes folks, it is my driving ankle) to find the place where I was supposed to pick up a boot to wear for the next month, and found it just time for it to be closed, thanks to it’s lack of signage. By the time I got home, my foot was on fire up to my knee, and felt dead and asleep, like it was trying to wake up, but never did except partially sometime around five o’clock this morning. Needless to say, it was a sleepless night.  Before I went to bed, I asked a medical friend if my foot/ankle/leg should still feel like this several hours after injection, and she replied that it sounds like I had a classic steroid flare. Yay me and my weird anatomy.

So this morning, I got to drive all the way back across Newport News to find this boot place again and now my fashion statement is this:

May I pass this lesson onto you?

Listen to your body when it is giving you clear signals to see a doctor and take care of yourself, for goodness sake, because if you don’t put yourself high ‘on the list’, this is the sort of thing that can happen to you.

Ironically, in the waiting room, my reading was Hot (Sweaty) Mamas, by Kara Douglas Thom and Laurie Lethert Kocanda, an enthusiastic book about making personal fitness a priority in your hectic life as a mother.

I neglected to mention previously that this book was a win from Kate Hopper’s blog, Mother Words:Mothers Who Write. I am incredibly grateful, Kate, thank you. Once I can get back on both feet, I am so on this!

In fact, even before I am back on both feet, I am starting a belly dancing class next Monday. 🙂

gardening love

I love to garden. I didn’t say I was good at it, but I love it. Sometimes I am orderly and plan ahead well, other times I get ideas. Yesterday involved a bit of both.

First, I have been neglecting the front flower patch’s needs for a while and second, I really needed to redo the driveway pots. Captain Comic has picked all the leaves off of two sets of small evergreens, first juniper, then vertical japanese boxwoods. Some of the storms we’ve had did the final damages. We have flower pots with something tall in them so Grandma and I can navigate around the brick borders of the ‘bridge’ over the culvert. We can’t see them from our five foot two and three perspectives as we back out of the driveway.

Before: if you look way in back you can make out what I am replacing.
These are the pots, new plants,some homemade humus in the wheel barrow
 and some good potting soil with food.

After: left side of driveway, five leaf Akiba.

After: right side of driveway, Carolina Jasmine.
I planted white Star Jasmine which grows on my fence near the wisteria in my backyard a few years ago.
Yes, the brickwork is broken, no I didn’t do it.
 It was like that when we moved in. 
One of these days…when I get a Round To-It.
Anyone remember that old 70s truck stop souvenir? Tap-Tap?
I liked the little bird trellises at Lowe’s garden center, and they were the cheapest thing that wasn’t plastic and still fit my idea for replacing the evergreen skeletons.

Self-portrait of a gardener
I looked down at one point during mulching and discovered I was covered in dirt from head to toe.
Life is good. Go plant something and watch it grow. 

easter aftermath


Have you ever tried to get three families’ worth of kids of varying ages to pose together for a holiday shot? This was one of a handful of choices, all fell into the category of close enough. My favorite high school English teacher always said,”that only works in horseshoes and hand grenades,” but I believe it’s apt for group shots, too. 

We gathered at friends’ new home, seriously, they moved in Saturday, and we tried to help but showed up a bit late because it took me that long to empty and clean out my van. So I showed up in a dress with all of my kids and Honey, on Easter morning, and promptly decided I would move their bookcases into a different room. We were there for an Easter egg hunt. 

To back up a bit, we had a weekend full of family, my in-laws galore, not just the ones down the street, we hosted visiting aunt and uncle. Also in Grandma’s generation, was a vacationing cousin and all of his nine teenage granddaughters, his daughter, and his wife who were staying in Virginia Beach. So when I joke about the in-law invasion, there’s a bit of truth to it, at least in sheer numbers. Thankfully, I was lucky enough not to get the full dose of the nine teenage granddaughters. I managed to only meet two. I can’t say the same for Grandma and Toots who got a full dose with a botched and whiny trip to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg. It’ll remain in family lore for generations, I am sure. 

There was also a 50th birthday party for a friend this weekend, which was packed with cake and pies and Easter breads and a potluck, maybe two. I’ve lost count. And of course Easter baskets galore. I hopped on the scale this morning – hopped is a loose term, it was more of a floorboards creaked trepidacious step – and I have gained five pounds this weekend – even with helping with the move!

Toots love her twirly dress and enjoyed modeling it. Pardon the blur, I wasn’t awake yet. I don’t think the camera was either.


A lot of sugar was eaten, and not much else especially by a couple of my kids who would have done better to get some more protein and veggies in them over the weekend, and maybe a bit less candy and pies. There was some major sugar fallout this morning. Not that I should say anything, see confession above about gaining five pounds. 

But a weekend full of friends, family, food, fun and sunshine is worth a five pound gain. 

It occurs to me that with the amount of cookie posts, etc., I should have a food tag, shouldn’t I? Someday, I’ll backtrack and find all the baking and cooking posts and add them to it, but the food tag starts now. 🙂

I regret I did not get a pie picture. Grandma and her sisters really outdid themselves with the Easter pies this year, and I believe that is mostly to blame for culinary lapse of reason. Auntie B’s homemade lasagna may have had a smidge to do with it, too. And the vat of pasta a fagioli I made Friday night, and, and, and……peeps for one. 

Time to get back into an new exercise routine….

ugh

1.  I want to edit the manuscript.

2. I am still working on the upstairs room switch. My room is the worst mess right now, especially my little worship space which needs to move out of a dusty cramped corner and to where Toots’s crib was.

3. I am so exhausted I can cry at the drop of thought.

4. I have the second of many dental appointments to come today, because I did not go for years.

5. It is a sunny beautiful day and I need to do something about this:

I have an issue in my lavender. I have bulbs that would like to bloom there. I have wild flowers taking over the driveway edge.

I think I will opt for garden gloves, spade and vitamin D absorption right after I finish this egg.

It is the Ides of March and the forboding I feel is not exactly on par with Ceasar’s, but close. I feel like there is not enough time or energy for all that I want to accomplish.  But I’ll be fine, eventually.

And when Toots comes home from preschool, she wants another game of marble run in her new room that is “mine so stay out, [Captain Comic]!”

To be fair, the three of us really enjoyed a marble game yesterday. But boy, am I going to be in trouble when she’s a teen, right?

non-sequitur boy

After my phase one dental trauma this morning, I really wanted a treat to take the kids out for a treat.

Did you know it’s Starbucks 40th birthday?  They are giving out treats on Thurs, Fri and Sat afternoons this week with purchase of a drink.  So I took the kids.  I really don’t take them out for things like that enough.

Captain Comic usually tosses out some good non-sequiturs any old time, but he was in rare form today.

Piece of convo in the car on the way to treat:

Mr. Cynic: But mom, Frappucinos are so sweet they make me want to throw up, except the bottled ones.
Captain Comic (from the wayback in the minivan): Did you know that one milligram of antimatter costs three hundred billion dollars?

Captain Comic and I were walking through Starbucks to get some milk to cool off his hot chocolate. A man in a black trench coat and tie stood waiting for his drink to be made.

Captain Comic (mutters without eye contact as he walked past): Nice suit.
Man (looks around): Oh, thanks. It’s really more of a sport coat.
Captain Comic (having already moved on): What’s half and half?  Why is it called half and half? What is it half and half of?

Back in the van, KT Tunstall disc comes on.

Captain Comic: IS THAT LADY GAGA?!
Mom (bursts out laughing): I love you!
Mr. Cynic: OHMIGAWD! You are FAIL!
Capt. Comic: Why am I fail?
Mom and Mr. Cynic in unison: Because that’s KT Tunstall!
Mr. Cynic: and if you FOLLOWED the MUSIC Industry AT ALL, you would know the difference IMMEDIATELY.

Aside:
Mr. Cynic: Mom, if you EVER get a Lady Gaga CD, I will have to slap you in the head with it.

Toots (listens quietly to the many exchanges, briefly pulls her two sucky fingers out of her mouth): CannI hab a sip uff yer toffee?
Mom: Sure. (it’s decaf – hands it back to her in the middle row)
Toots: slurp noise
Mom: Is it good?
Toots: It’s dee-wicious! (passes coffee back up and promptly returns sucky fingers to their original position.)

New song starts

Captain Comic: Is THAT Lady Gaga?!
Mom (bursts out laughing)
Mr. Cynic: OMIGAWD! FAIL!
Mom and Mr. Cynic: It’s KT Tunstall!
Captain Comic: Oh riiiiiight. Mom?
Mom: What?
Capt. Comic: Do you laugh so much because I’m so random?
Mom: Absolutely. You are the most random person I know.  (chuckles)
Capt. Comic laughs with pride.
Toots: Ahre we ahmost home yet?  I want my juice.

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