Satisfaction…Let the Sound Soar

In December of 2016 I sang for my father’s funeral.  My voice, my song was the best gift I could give to family and friends during a time of sorrow…around 45 minutes of music that, while given with extreme love, carved a hole in my heart and left me exhausted.

Weeks later I found that I still didn’t have the energy to sing.  That is, until I had the opportunity to perform at a company function for around 1300 people.

I was only on stage for a few minutes but it didn’t matter.

I welcomed the opportunity to sing in a circumstance where I was joyful, and, not grieving.

The lights went down, I walked on stage, hit the strings and let my voice soar.

I gave a final, definitive strum.

The audience clapped in rhythm. and roared their approval.

Satisfaction.  I was able to give my voice and my song again.

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Cathy performs on stage…a comfortable place to be.

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Posted in 2017, Uncategorized

Resilient – Alone and Together

Cathy, December, 6, 2016, around two hours before her father’s funeral.

I’m starting 2017 with the Weekly Photo Challenge “Resilient.”

There are two parts to this blog. The first part is “Alone.” The second part is “Together.”

It’s a pertinent topic. December 2016 was, to say the least, a challenging month.

On December 5th at 10:21pm I received a call from my sister that my dad was in the hospital, and I needed to get there “now.”

Even with my dad’s recent health challenges and his age, this was unexpected.

My sister also let me know that Dad may be gone by the time I arrived.

Well, I’m in Texas, and everyone else is in Southern California.

My husband searched for my flight. I packed, took care of some critical work-related items, and, talked with my husband about the coming weeks. He and our daughter stayed behind while I went to California.

Once all that was done I sat quietly with two large binders of sheet music.

After midnight on December 6th I began planning what I would sing at my father’s funeral.

Knowing Dad, I already knew most of what should be sung. There were a few songs where I’d offer some options to my mom and family, so I just packed a variety of music just to be prepared.

There was no sleep that night. I laid down around 1:30am and tried to rest. At 3:30 I was up and then shortly out the door to the airport.

I arrived in Southern California at 9:30am on December 6th. Given the time difference, around 13 hours after my family called.

As it turned out, my dad passed away in the early morning hours of December 6th before I arrived.

The photo above is of me, a couple of hours before my dad’s funeral. It was one week after he passed away. I bought the entire outfit, dress, boots and all the day before. While packing, my husband and I figured I just had to get out the door. I’d have to buy or borrow everything else; and I did.

The reason I chose this photo for the challenge is, at this point, with jet lag, a time change, and, all the personal and familial emotions that occur under the circumstances I was operating on very little sleep.

In this photo, I see myself and note the weariness.

I also see something else.

I see resiliency.

I was about to sing and play music for my father, my mother, my family, and everyone else.

Given the fatigue, there was only one way for that to happen.

I’ll fast forward a few hours, then take a step back to explain.

There were a number of lovely, heartfelt complements after the funeral.

The most common question was, “How did you do that? …it must have been difficult.”

It was, but that’s not the point.

It takes practice, i. e. I’d been singing at various services for quite some time now.

Believe it or not, it also takes vulnerability.

The best way I can explain it is, you have to be willing to dive off a cliff with everyone watching. You’re fully exposed so that everyone sees all of you. You’re all in, and there’s no turning back. If you’re not all in, then all who hear you will know that. You focus deeply on what you need to accomplish, and, nothing else matters at that very moment.

For just that short time, even though all eyes and ears are on you, it is not about you. It’s about everyone else, and, what they need from you at that moment.

It also means there are times when you have to dig really deep.

I’ve had to move forward at various times of my life when the going was very tough.

It’s part of who I am. In some ways, this was no different. In other ways, I was in completely uncharted territory.

Still, I knew I would step off the cliff and all would be well.

Rehearsing for the upcoming funeral.  The guitar once belonged to Cathy’s grandfather, and, was borrowed from her brother.

My parents laid a number of foundations for our family.

This included a foundation of resiliency, even though we weren’t aware of it.

We would face this time as a family. We’ve faced tough times in the past with each of us bringing our talents to the table in order to lighten the load for one another.

The day before I returned to Texas I was enjoying dinner with four of my five siblings, plus spouses, and some cousins.

We laughed, shared memories, and, at times were wistful.

When we left, my brother made a comment about making sure that Mom was okay. Since everything happened so suddenly there were now numerous of unexpected tasks ahead.

I knew my siblings would work together so one person was not overloaded. Since I’m in Texas, and, since my young one has some special needs, I realized they’d keep me posted, but would only call on me if something urgent was needed.

My brother made a comment when we were in the parking lot.

The enormity of what had occurred was settling in.

“I don’t know how we’re going to get through all this.”

It may have been rhetorical but I commented anyway.

“We’ll get through this like we get through everything else. We’ll get through this together.”

August 2015. Cathy, her parents, and her five siblings.

Cathy’s dad, Luis. With much love.

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Posted in 2017, Uncategorized

It’s Not This Time of Year Without…

At this time of year Cathy is not without yarn, and the scarves and hats she makes for her annual give-away.

The weekly Photo challenged posed the prompt…it’s not this time of year without…Yarn! Lots of it!

All colors and textures…plus the compulsion to create, and, hopefully spread some cheer.

A number of years ago, I faced a lay-off. As our workload began to be reduced we tried to channel our energy in a positive way, so we did jigsaw puzzles, read books, and, even played the guitar.

One of the activities I learned during this time was loom knitting. It was something I always wanted to do.

The woman who sat across from me showed me the basics, and I was off!

In addition, I started crocheting again. It was something I hadn’t done since I was a teenager.

At the end of a few weeks, and just in time for Christmas, I’d created more than 20 scarves.

I later explained this was a relaxing activity, and it helped me work off nervous tension as a result of the impending lay-off.

Someone asked me who would get all the scarves. That was easy!

I mailed them to my mom so she could give them out to all the women in my family at the family Christmas celebration!

The number of scarves multiply throughout the season!

One year I made over 50 Christmas stockings and sent them to my family.

Whenever a little one is born in our family I send a stocking so that everyone still has one.

Cathy’s sister hosted the great stocking give-away!

Those activities launched a tradition, my “annual scarf give-away” that I’ve maintained over the past 7 years.

At this time of year there is yarn “everywhere.”

I create scarves and hats all year long, but I go into high gear at this time of year.

Sure, this takes a lot of hours, but I crochet while I’m in front of the TV, or, listening to music.

The end result is around 60 – 75 scarves and hats that I make for the sole purpose of giving them away.

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Cozy scarves just waiting to go to a good home.

It’s a way for me to say thank-you to many people who have supported my family, and especially my daughter, throughout the year.

I’ve kept some in the car when I’m driving, so I’ve been able to give a scarf to someone’s who’s asking for change.

I may or may not have spare cash on hand so I’ll ask if they’d like to have a scarf. The answer so far has always been yes.

I’ve been privileged, and humbled, to know my scarves are keeping someone warm not only here in Texas but also in Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Minnesota, Iowa, Wyoming, South Dakota, Illinois, Arizona, and, California.

My motto is “everyone deserves to have a warm neck.”

Perhaps that’s also my hope.

At this time of year, when temperatures often drop, I want people to have warmth and comfort.

I’m happy to contribute!

Cathy crochets the leftover bits of yarn into a large shawl…she enjoys being cozy and warm at this time of year, too!

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Posted in 2016, Uncategorized

Fun at the Beach!

The Weekly Photo Challenge is “FUN!”

I recalled a very small photo of my dad and my aunt at the beach.

My guess is that the picture is from the late 1940’s.

It’s a bit grainy because the original photo is quite small.

Dad is on the bottom left, and Aunt Esther is on the top right.

It’s a simple black and white snapshot but when I look at it I see my dad, aunt and their friends running at the beach and wading through the water.

I imagine the vibrantly colored swimsuits worn by my aunt and her friend, Angie. Highly stylish!

They climbed atop shoulders and laughed as they tried maintain their balance.

My dad and his friend (his name’s not known) probably boasted about who was strongest.

I think the other reason I enjoy this picture so much is that we don’t have many pictures of my dad at a young age.

For me this picture is rare and very precious.

It captures my dad and his sister as teenagers who were simply having fun.

Cathy's dad, her aunt and their two friends are having fun at the beach! Circa 1940's.

Cathy’s dad, her aunt and their two friends are having fun at the beach! Circa 1940’s.

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Posted in 2016, Uncategorized

Look Up…and Pause…

The Weekly Photo Challenge is “Look Up.”

The flag flies at half-staff to honor those who recently lost their lives in Dallas Texas.

It has been a somber week.

I told my husband that my mind can barely fathom all that’s occurred.

Admittedly I have no answers.

My deeply introverted soul is still processing this.

I grieve.

Violence…tragedy…sorrow…

Perpetuating…spiraling…

While I was driving this week I looked up…and paused when I saw a flag at half-staff.

Once again…half-staff.

This image stayed with me, almost like an imprint.

For many reasons there has been too much mourning.

We live in a world with many shades of gray, yet we are often challenged by absolutes.

I am far from perfect at maneuvering through all this.

Still, somehow, we all must move forward.

I am a realist, so I am cautious.

Still, I remind myself to act with kindness…

To act with patience…

To act with respect…

To act with peace.

 

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Posted in Uncategorized

Six, Six and Twelve (Curve)

The jumbo…the dreadnought…the grand concert…

Cathy's twelve string and two six string guitars have a different demonstrations of curves based on body design.

Cathy’s twelve string and two six string guitars have a different demonstrations of curves based on body design.

The pickguard… the body…the sound hole…the pegs…the inlay…the bridge…a handlebar (it’a classic!)

Close-up of Cathy's twelve string. There is a balance to the design that adds to the beauty of the instrument.

Close-up of Cathy’s twelve string. There is a balance to the design that adds to the beauty of the instrument.

The tuning pegs…the heads as they sweep to the neck…

Small details such as the curves at the top of the head stock demonstrate the care that goes into each instrument.

Small details such as the curves at the top of the head stock demonstrate the care that goes into each instrument.

The outline, the shine, the design…

There are times when it's hard to determine which one to play...so why not have some fun and just try them all out? :)

There are times when it’s hard to determine which one to play…so why not have some fun and just try them all out? 🙂

It alls adds to the experience…

Cathy rehearses. Her living room becomes a stage. This six string has a bright, clear sound.

Cathy rehearses. Her living room becomes a stage. This six string has a bright, clear sound.

…the depth of what I feel…

No rehearsal this time, just a relaxed moment with a sweet sound.

No rehearsal this time, just a relaxed moment with a sweet sound.

…when the sound rings in me and through me…

The sound from the twelve string reverberates up the ceiling and into the stairwell. When you want to be heard this is the one to play!

The sound from the twelve string reverberates up the ceiling and into the stairwell. When you want to be heard this is the one to play!

The weekly photo challenge is Curve

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Posted in 2016, Uncategorized

Celebrating 63 Years – Congratulations Mom and Dad!

This year Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May.  

Coincidentally the date is also May 3oth.

Sixty-three years ago, Memorial Day was on a Saturday.

My father was on leave from the military.

The date was May 30, 1953.

The day my parents were married.

5--30--53

The maid of honor was my mother’s best friend, Rae.

The best man was my father’s brother, my Uncle Lupe.

They made a lovely wedding party. 

Don’t you agree?

M & L Wedding Rae Lupe

It’s time to CELEBRATE!

Happy 63rd Anniversary!

6 L & M

Congratulations Mom and Dad!

With much love from “all of us.”

May 30, 2016

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Posted in 2016

Spare – Saticoy

The Weekly Photo Challenge is “Spare.”

I thought about a photo from the family gallery that shows a point in my father’s childhood during the 1930’s.

My dad is on the left. My Uncle Lupe is in the center. My Uncle Chito is the little guy.

When I asked him about the photo all he said was, “That was in Saticoy.”

Saticoy was a small rural community in Ventura County, California.

It was one of a number of places my dad’s family lived so that my grandparents could work the fields.

Times were lean.  As you can see they were of humble means. Perhaps that’s the reason he doesn’t say too much about it.

There are very few photos of my dad as a child, so I’m particularly pleased to have a picture of him playing.

There wasn’t really a camera to spare.

Cathy's father and uncles rides their bicycles in Saticoy.  Circa 1930's.

Cathy’s father and uncles rides their bicycles in Saticoy.  Circa 1930’s.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Jubilant – The Finish Line!

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Jubilant!

I decided to post a recent photo where I’m standing by a Finish sign.

If you know my story then you’re aware that I’ve been on a journey over the past three years to improve then maintain my health.

One of my primary goals was to strengthen my right leg as I’d been struggling with chronic pain and injuries for more than 20 years.

I may not be jumping for joy in this photo, but I was proud, albeit humbled.  After a lot of hard work, and continued dedication I achieved a milestone that in the past was, at least in my own mind, unattainable.

On March 26th I ran, not walked, my first 5k! I was ecstatic that my legs, and especially my right leg, were strong enough to complete the race!!

This photo also reminds me when the going gets tough that I can make it to the end of other challenges. I made it to the finish line once and I can do it again!

…and yes, I’m looking forward to running another 5k…

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Posted in 2016

For Some of Us, Every Day is Autism Awareness Day

April 2nd is designated as Autism Awareness Day.

I decided not to post on that day. You see, for some of us, every day is Autism Awareness Day.

If you know my story, then you know a couple of years ago my husband and I became our daughter’s legal guardians. She is 20 years old, autistic, and developmentally delayed. Her vocabulary is extremely limited. To say life can be a challenge is often an understatement. Still, over the past 20 years we’ve managed as best as we can with numerous health care, and, social service providers. We lean on each other, and we’re committed to do what we can to care for our daughter.

I decided to write a few posts this month about simple, everyday happenings. Our daughter has allowed my husband and me into her world. I can’t really express what’s on her mind. I can only hope to give you a glimpse of what she experiences. We love her very deeply. As you may imagine, she’s also quite unique.

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Cathy's teapot.  She finds the dragonfly scene relaxing as she sips her daily tea.

Cathy’s teapot.  She finds the dragonfly scene relaxing as she sips her daily tea.

“My daughter has become a tea drinker,” my husband lamented incredulously.  I just laughed. Then shook his head and laughed along with me.

Deciding to drink a cup of coffee, tea, or some other beverage is an activity that most adults take for granted. You brew your own, or you pull up to a window and order some variation of a large, fully-leaded with extra something.

So, while my husband is coffee, I am tea! That said, I often make his coffee in the morning. I love to do that for him!

Our daughter doesn’t generally make those choices. Around 5 years ago she was finally able to say the word, “juice” which is a catch-all for something to drink. Perhaps at some point in the future she’ll learn more words. Language is always a work in progress.

So, what kicked off the tea drinking?

At the start of this year the three of us were trading colds and coughs. We were also dealing with severe seasonal allergies. Overall we weren’t doing very well.

Cathy's daughter begins morning tea time.

Cathy’s daughter begins morning tea time.

I grew up on the receiving end of my grandmother’s home remedies. She brewed tea and added lemon and honey to sooth the throat and help clear the sinuses.

I made some and offered it to my husband. Surprisingly, he was open to having a cup.

We decided to give the brew to our daughter. We let the hot tea cool a bit, then asked her to sit down at the table.

She touched the cup and drew her hands away. I told her it was hot, but she needed to stay sitting down so she could drink it.

The "Rudolph Cup"  has become a daily staple.  The tea is just as tasty even if it's not Christmastime!

The “Rudolph Cup”  has become a daily staple.  The tea is just as tasty even if it’s not Christmastime!

We used a ceramic Christmas cup that was given to her as a gift a few years ago. It’s red with Rudolph on one side and Santa on the other. For her, the season doesn’t matter. She could enjoy Christmas items at any time of year.

We tried to show her how to pick up the cup by the handle. She didn’t respond to that, so she rapidly tapped her fingers repeatedly against the warm cup until she was able to hold it with two hands.

Tea time can often finish with a gulp!

Tea time can often finish with a gulp!

Trying to gulp it, she swallowed then threw her head back. Then she shook her head rapidly from side to side, her hands tense. We told her to slow down and relax. She wasn’t going anywhere, and she needed to finish her tea. She tried it again. She began to sip it.

Over the next few days we continued to give her tea in the morning and the evening. It seemed to help sooth her throat and loosen all the junk in her chest.

The following week I made her other types of tea. My husband asked why I was still doing that since she was feeling better.

I noticed in the morning she’d come to the table and take a few minutes to drink it.

Often during the week tea time was followed by an appointment with a therapist so the pause was a good thing.

In the evening it was a way to wind down just before bed time.

It was now part of the routine.

My husband commented about our daughter becoming a tea drinker, because he saw me stocking the pantry. There seemed to be some flavors she was enjoying so I figured she should have her own supply.

It may not seem like much to most people, but for us, introducing a warm beverage to our daughter was one more sign of progress, one more advancement for her. Years ago this could have left all three of us exhausted and frazzled.

Not this time. Instead, we were pleasantly surprised!

Cathy's husband is coffee, and she is tea. They live very happily together!

Cathy’s husband is coffee, and she is tea. They live very happily together!

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Posted in 2016

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