In The Middle

It’s been ten years now since we moved from the east coast to The Middle. All but the last four and a half years were in the South Kansas City area and the current in a quaint town about an hour outside of KC.

I finally feel at home. The USA is vast, miles wise and cultural wise. I grew up on the east coastThe Jersey Shore – Bruce Springsteen Country – New York City influence. Then I found myself in Southern California, Dude! Then back to the east coast and beach living.

Now let me tell you about The Middle from a Jersey State of Mind. The people are amazing. They are so kind and friendly. They love home cooking and that suits me fine, well, except for the red barbecue sauce, no thank you. I can handle a little but I think they go too far. Being from New Jersey, when you are invited to a barbecue that is exactly what it is. The grills come out and the food goes on. Here…..well, it’s a bit different. Smokers are in and lots of red sauce. I do like smoked meats, I have to say that, and now I will move along.

Sarcasm is different, well it is just plain scarce. If you are born and raised in New Jersey then sarcasm is part of your DNA. I have learned to hold the tongue and move on, well most of the time. I recently watched a certain series on NETFLIX that made me melt and feel all warm and cozy. No, it wasn’t Heartland, it was one that I will not recommend. It was one that made me feel as if I went back to my childhood and the sarcasm was tossed around like piles of fall leaves in the hands of children. It was harsh and rough and I laughed out loud a lot!

Moving along. My husband gets speaking engagements at churches from time to time. They vary in their denominational ties. Yesterday we went to a small mid-western town a fairly short distance from our town. It was a gorgeous spring morning, the hills spotted with cattle and their new offspring. We are in beef country. We have been to this church before but this time it was different for me.

The service began with an elderly gentleman and his electric guitar. They had trouble working the overhead projector and microphone but chuckled their way through it. I was taken back in time. The old-time religion/pentecostal tunes came forth easily for him and the people. Not easy for me but I sat and joined in anyway. I thought of simpler times and Johnny Cash. It was beautiful.

The feeling of a child not knowing much but wanting to learn came over me. I realized that at my ripe age I really knew so little about life. I wanted to sit at the feet of these men and women and hear their stories. The stories of days gone by, of farming hardships and joys and losses and great successes. Of perspectives that are so different and holier than mine.

I just felt these people have watched many sunrises and sunsets on countless disappointments and countless times they rose again wearing garments radiant with hope. What a special place, The Heartland of America. A place where pioneers of yesteryear passed through or settled here perhaps because they just couldn’t go any further. A strong and steadfast people.

I like to think that I am made of some of this grit. After all, it’s been said of New Jersey that “only the strong survive” – I should know, I actually have the T-shirt.

If you haven’t traveled various parts of this country get out and do it. The various cultures in the USA are amazing and all have wonderful stories of their past and new beginnings. And food! Various kinds of food!


Cate B

The Beach – Part IX – MY Scottish Journey

We hopped yet another train from Waverley Station, Edinburgh, Scotland. This one was a day trip, just a short distance north-east to the lovely beach town of North Berwick, Scotland.

As we alighted the train an excitement met me, face-to-face. I love beach towns. The more quaint, the better. As we walked down the hill, yes, another hill, lovely cottages and homes greeted us. Narrow street and sidewalks beckoned to me to keep going, the best is yet to come.




We entered the town center and I drank in the small businesses that wore the garments of charm. The sidewalk and street became even more narrow as we walked on

We turned left and could see the Firth of Forth ahead of us, calling my name. The colored homes, all stuck together as if one, put a smile in my heart.











Then at last…. the beach! The tide was out and the view was magnificent. Oh how I love to walk near water. The wind was blowing hard and the air was so delicious to breathe in and drink of.


and more…..


and then…….


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We enjoyed a lunch in a local pub – fish and chips for me…..


I was in heaven. What a wonderful time at the beach! The big rock off in the distance is home to Puffins, aka Tommie Noddies, in the warmer months.

The song of the sea was singing to me that day. I would pack up and move to this great town if I could. This was a highlight to my trip to Scotland. I am smiling as I type these words. I hope you can feel my delight as I did. And, if you find yourself in Scotland, you must go to North Berwick. Cheers!

















Cate B


I had the gift of growing up near an ocean.  It both terrifies and soothes me. I’m not afraid to jump in or go on a boat far from shore where land is no longer in site.

However, if I let my mind, I can feel a bit of a fear or panic want to rise up. Then I shut it down. The wonder of it all far outrides the terror. I like to think I have a healthy fear of the ocean.

It’s a natural wonder, the ocean – ever changing colors, ever changing motion and emotions. It is full of underwater surprises.


cate b



Back to Reality

A new adventure coming up in two weeks.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime…….a snippet of a great vacation……….. and now back to reality.


cate b

Root Beer Lake – My Memories of The Jersey Shore

South Jersey, as it is known, has a strange geographical “thing” going on.  Doesn’t that sound professional?  I don’t know what to call it and I really do not care what it is suppose to be termed.  It is a pine forest mostly made up of some kind of pygmy pines and white sand mixed in with dirt and rivers and streams all made of Root Beer Water.

Yes, I said Root Beer Water!  The water is the color of root beer or sassafras tea.  I think the color is from cedar trees – but whatever.  Like I said above, I really am not interested in the science behind it.  This post is MY memories of the shore.  And as through the eyes of a young child – it’s root beer water.  Of course, I do believe my Uncle Runny supported my imagination on that and he probably was the source of that belief.  He even told me that if I drank the water from the faucet of their tiny summer cottage – the water that stained  your sinks brown and smelled and tasted of metal – my hair would curl.  I drank a lot to no avail.  I still had straight hair.  Very disappointed.

The days my mom told us to pack our swim suits and towels because we were going to Lanoka Harbor, well, they were some of the best memories.  My Aunt and Uncle and cousin Paul had a lovely little cottage set among tall skinny trees where the ground was spattered with dirt and fine white sand.  It smelled delicious.

We all crammed into this cottage and slept – who knows where.  We ate on the screened in porch.  We waved to the neighbors.  My Aunt would hand us bowls and tell us to go across the street to pick wild blueberries so she could make a pie.  I hated blueberries then.  But I loved the idea of picking them ourselves so she can make a pie that I never ate.  Love them now and can’t get enough of them.

Later we would hop on bikes (me on the handle bars of cousin Paul’s) and rode fast down to the bay beach.  There was a giant metal swing set in the sand.  Other days – or sometimes in the same day – we took off on bikes in the other direction and swam in the creek.  The creek was the finest and coolest root beer water.  You could see your feet in the sand and schools of little black minnow – type fish swam around you, tickling.  My older brother and Paul swam out to the bridge that ran over the creek and climbed up and jumped in.  They were my heroes.

Uncle Runny liked to go to the boat docks.  I have no idea why, other than to look at the boats and talk to people.  Maybe he had a boat…..  Maybe we went out on  it…… I do not remember that.

Uncle Runny was a very kind man.  He was a very quiet man.  I rarely remember him having long conversations, especially with me.  He had three sons.  I think a little girl was a curious thing to him.  But he was so kind to me.  I remember watching him in the water.  He loved to swim.  He would get out there, even in the ocean, and just swim back and forth.  When he was ready for company, I went out with him and he just smiled and watched me jump over waves and encouraged me to just float over the waves.  Good times.

When I got my driving permit and I drove my mom and younger brother to visit the family at their cottage (thought my mom would have a heart attack when I passed someone) my Uncle Runny had just gotten a new giant cadillac and said to get in and drive him to the boat docks.  It was like driving on air.

I have no pictures of those days.  No pictures of Uncle Runny.  A couple of Aunt Marion (his wife and my mom’s sister) after he passed and she was quite older. But the images never leave my mind.  Very special times.

So, back to Root Beer Water.  Some days we loaded into the car and went to Root Beer Lake.  There are three lakes in the nearby town of Forked River (For-ked River).  I believe they use to be (at least one or two of them) cranberry bogs.  The one we frequented had a sandy beach and a concession stand with colorful awnings.  It was great to swim in root beet water – so cool and refreshing.  This lake had a road under the surface that was higher than the lake bottom where we swam.  It went across the lake and my brother and cousin walked across every time.  Still my heroes.  I tried to go once and had a fear I would fall off the road into deep, deep water.

Those were such good, sweet memories.  I do hope we have made sweet memories for our children.  And now we are making memories with our grandchildren. Life goes on.

Here are some pics from the web I found of the Pine Barrens of South NJ.  Check out the Root Beer Water!

Pine Barrens
Pine Barrens
Things to do in Root Beer Water
Things to do in Root Beer Water
Thirsty for a Root Beer?
Thirsty for a Root Beer?

Thank you for joining me in my memories of childhood at The Jersey Shore!  Take time to make new memories for yourself and your children and grandchildren.  They last forever!


cate b

Tradition, Tradition! – My Memories of The Jersey Shore

Summer at the Jersey Shore can be a blast.  I loved growing up there.  And as any well raised child of the north east in the 1950s and 60s you learned what to wear and what not to wear.  At least in our household.

My mom cared how she looked when she left the house.  NEVER leave the house with curlers in your hair.  If we needed something from the store and her hair was still damp and wrapped up in curlers she did tie a kerchief over her head and waited at the far end of the parking lot while one of us ran in to grab the much needed item.  These were rare occasions.

Memorial Weekend marked the beginning of summer.  Pools opened, beaches opened, ice cream trucks came out in abundance.  Along with all these came the summer wardrobe.  Sandals and flip-flops (called thongs in our neighborhood), sunsuits, shorts, pedal pushers and clam diggers (cropped pants).  AND anything white.  No longer brown or black shoes – white or cream colored can now be worn.  My mom was serious about this!

And when the last weekend of summer came along, known as Labor Day Weekend, all beaches closed at the end of Monday.  Lifeguards went back to college, we all geared up for school.  We put away the white sandals and shoes.  We bought new brown ones and black ones.  Sigh.  We wore fall clothes to school in the still 80-90 degree weather.

We could change into shorts when we got home – thank goodness.  These were good times…….. but were they practical?  To this day I hesitate wearing sandals in the fall.  I said hesitate!  I do it anyway.  As much as certain styles were drilled into my head (like NEVER wear brown and navy blue together) I have broken tradition!  My style?  Whatever feels comfortable to me.  I’m all about comfort in clothes and styles.  If I walked through a Mall tomorrow and those fashion hounds saw me – I think I would qualify for their next make over.  They would tisk, tisk and shake their heads at my look.  Hey, you try having my hair that is so thick that all the  thinning and cutting and product in the world would not make it stick up.  Been there, and it doesn’t work.

A friend told me of her grand kids being aloud to dress themselves….. and when they came out in mismatched pants and shirts and two different socks on – they were praised and permitted to go about their day that way.  Because they were creative and permitted to be themselves.  Come on people!  Let us find who we are and create our own fashions.  More power to those who wear pajamas to Walmart (I won’t).

I have broken tradition and my kids grew up comfortable.  I hope.  Enjoy the summer months dear readers.  And enjoy being yourself.  Don’t know yet what you like?  You will.  I give you permission to break out of tradition and find who you are!  Be free!


cate b

Life’s Twists and Turns

It’s funny how our lives can be moving along in a nice steady stream and we think we know how things will go and what we will do.  Then along comes a twist.  One you didn’t see coming.  Sometimes they are hard and hurtful but sometimes they are nice and kind and surprising.

I want to talk about the surprisingly nice kind.  We had just moved to a lovely little Borough on the Jersey Shore.  We were just a fifteen minute walk to the beach, faster by bike.  The public elementary school that our two youngest attended was just around the corner.  The town was so small that there were no school busses simply because everyone lived in walking distance.  It was such a small school that the teaching staff consisted of a kindergarten teacher, a combined first and second grade teacher, a combined third and fourth grade teacher, and a combined fifth and sixth grade teacher.  The class sizes were ideal.

Naturally, in a town of this size and a school of this size, everyone knew who the new mom was.  They were all friendly and kind.  It was easy to get involved, and I did.

One day, one of the moms approached me outside the school as we waited for the day to end.  It was just before the Thanksgiving holiday.  She told me I should work at her friend’s Bed & Breakfast for the holiday tours.  I just listened and kind of nodded in an uninterestingly way.  She pressed on. She told me they need help serving tea and cookies for the tour in their home.  I basically stated that it was nice, but I don’t think I can do that.  Again, she pressed on.  “You don’t understand”, she said.  “All you have to do is pour tea and serve cookies and smile and they pay eight dollars an hour.”  Something lit up inside me.  I know that sounds like little money, but for what she said I would do and that year, eight dollars an hour was great.  I committed to calling her friend.

I had an appointment to talk about the job.  You must understand, that the next town over and the town we were in, kind of mingled together and held the highest concentration of Victorian era homes in the US.  Most of these homes became Bed & Breakfasts or Guest Homes for vacationers to the Jersey Shore.

I met with the wife (husband and wife owners and Innkeepers).  We hit it off and I was hired to stand by a cart of tea and cups, and as the tourists came in to see the Inn and hear the history (story told by Innkeeper husband) of their home, all I had to do was smile and ask if they would like a cup of tea, and hand it to them and direct them to the cookies.

Well, the tours go from the day after our Thanksgiving, in November, to the New Year.  Weekends mostly and evenings.  I loved it.  A couple of days before the end of the tours, the Innkeeper (wife) was looking at me and talking to some family members.  I got nervous.  I thought this was it, no more tours for me.  On the contrary, she came up to me after everyone left and offered me a job as Assistant Innkeeper.  Their present one was leaving and thought I would be perfect.  I told her I do not know a thing about B & B’s or hospitality business.  She wasn’t worried.

So began an adventure that I would never have chosen.  Ever.  I think God knows better than I do.  It was so good for me.  I learned to clean, cook, make reservations, oversee other staff and then the hardest of all – I learned to “schmooze” with the guests.

You see, I can talk to people and even have you believe I am an extrovert.  Not true.  It is probably one of the hardest things for me to do.  I remember the first day the Innkeepers told me they would be out of town for the day and I would have to stay and check the guests in.  SAY WHAT???  I confess, that when the first guests arrived and the doorbell rang, and I came up from the basement laundry, around the corner, and stopped.  They weren’t looking in the door, so I quickly backed up and leaned against the wall in a sweat.  Heart racing and almost in tears,  I quickly said a prayer and pulled myself together, got into character and greeted them as if I was doing it from birth.  A major victory in my life that day!  Really, you can laugh, I do.  For us introverts it can be challenging and traumatic.  OK, that’s a bit dramatic.  Dramatic!  That’s it, I should have gone into acting.  Because a lot of this involvement with people is “getting into character“.  I’m not pretending, I am very sincere in my conversation and relationship with these people. I really do love talking to people.  But it’s also hard.  It was a very freeing time for me and has helped me a lot with things I ended up doing in the future.  I felt I overcame a huge obstacle that day.

One other quick story.  I suck at waitressing.  Tried that once and totally failed.  So, a Bed & Breakfast serves breakfast.  However, everyone gets the same food unless they are on a special diet.  Easy.  Well, one day, a woman asked for a glass of water.  We did not put water out as a habit.  I said, “Of course”.  Then I ran to the kitchen in a near panic and told the Man, “A woman asked for a glass of water!?!?!?”  He looked at me and replied, “Well, give her one.”  Duh. (I added the the duh – he thought I was funny)

So, this story is for all you great readers who questions things that may pop up in your life, opportunities that you would never have pursued or said yes to.  Before saying no, think it over first.  See if it will benefit you (I’m sure it will in some way) or make a way for another greater opportunity.

The Fairthorne Inn
The Fairthorne Inn

The Fairthorne Cottage
The Fairthorne Cottage


cate b


I have been the proud owner of an iPhone since the end of 2008.  I started with the 3G.  Loved that phone.  I was convinced that Apple made that phone for me.  I dropped my friend, face down, on a ceramic tile floor.  So sad.  I can still see her cracked and oozing face.  I was brave and told myself that I can live without one – I can get a free Blackberry and be fine.  After about four months  iCracked!  I was not due for an upgrade and I was beyond sad.  Then, my Knight in Shining Armor – aka: Husband – was due for an upgrade so we switched phone numbers and I got the iPhone 4.  I held onto that puppy until recently I realized I had to put it out of it’s misery.  But no worries!  I bounced back quickly when I found out I could turn her in for credit and I did – I got the iPhone 5C in YELLOW with a blue case because those colours remind me of the beach!Again, Apple has made a phone for ME!  About time they put colour into their creative phones!

My Home Screen
My Home Screen

Isn’t HE beautiful?  I say HE because I named him Maxwell – I set Siri to UK English and a Male voice.  My own private “Butler”, so to speak.

And do I like the new look and the Apple – iOS 7?  Yes.  It took getting a little use to especially when I plugged it into my outdated iTunes on my outdated mac book and found I could not sync my new phone!?!?!?!?  But no worries.  Slowly things are coming back to me as to which apps I had and when I find them in the app store it has record that I had them once before.  Easy peasy.  I did manage to find 140 songs that were saved in the cloud thingy and they were automatically put on my phone.  Can’t complain there.

So, I recommend it. IF you are an iPhone lover as I am.  My husband is not.  So he is happy with the “not so smart phone”.

Share any tips with me if you want and Enjoy!

cate b


Road Trip!

Two weeks ago my husband and I plopped ourselves in the back seat of our son’s car.  Road Trip!  We were heading to the east coast, a two day drive.  We were greeted with, “Are you ready?  Let’s go!”, spoken by our lovely two year old grand daughter, Lucy.  She was so excited.  Of course she was not fully aware of what exactly we were doing, but the excitement of Papa and Mammy coming too was delightful.

We left at night so she would sleep.  It worked well.  As daylight dawned this is what I saw sitting next to me:

IMG_3368IMG_3369She will get even when she hits about thirteen.




After cleaning up the throw up in the car – contained in her car seat, thank goodness, we were on our way for day two of driving.

I have to say this child was a trooper.  She was excellent in the car and she loved Cracker Barrel –



My husband and I usually go to the east coast about once a year to visit our son and family.  We were just there in October, but when our youngest son suggested we come along with him and his wife and daughter we couldn’t resist.

This particular area of the eastern seaboard is where we spent over twenty years.  That is the longest we have lived as a family.  I was born and raised in New Jersey and the Jersey shore is familiar to me.  I love it.  Living there, however, was harder than visiting.  It is a tourist county all summer long for Philadelphia, New York, Quebec, etc.  I loved being a tourist and this was the first time my son’s wife was there to see where her husband grew up and to meet the rest of the immediate family.  Same with Lucy.

But on a particular day walking “The Promenade” along the beach (it’s equivalent to a boardwalk but paved, no boards – they washed away years ago in a storm and replaced with pavement) I broke down when my son asked if I was enjoying myself.  Truth was – I was enjoying myself.  So much that I didn’t want to go home to the mid-west.  I’m old enough to know this was a passing emotional moment.  I knew the difference in being a tourist and a local.  It’s just that I miss the familiar so much sometimes.  And the most part of that is my family there.

I’ve only been in the mid west a little over four years (see my blog entitled Cate, Plain and Tall).  I really do like it here and as in any form of culture shock I am finding my new familiars.  Let’s face it, there is no beach or ocean here or really good pizza.  So I am adjusting.  I have new loves.

So after that little meltdown I moved forward.  The time with our family was fantastic and aw old friends as well.  Then came the day to pile back into the backseat of the car……… with little miss Lu.  She is one of the loves of my life and can do practically no wrong……. but waking up in a moving vehicle and seeing large blue eyes staring at your face can be quite unnerving.  Shiver.  She was delightful and I forgive her for throwing various items into my face from time to time.  No blood, I’m OK.

When we would settle into a hotel on the halfway points she would pace while us adults fell asleep.  It was lovely to find her in between Papa and I sound asleep.

Such sweetness to being a grand parent.  Lucy fell in love with her much older boy cousins and her aunt and uncle.  Such memories to treasure.

I would jump back in the car in a heart beat to travel again with these kids – well, give me a week to stretch out.

Here are a few pics to bore – I mean share with you 😉


IMG_3386Her is her first beach experience – not liking

the sand in her toes.

On right – it got a little better.

Oh, and here is where I got stuck on the beach.  Yes, stuck.  I couldn’t get the stroller through the deep sand and over the sand dune.  I couldn’t carry her – that would have been much like carrying a large tree in deep snow and I’m way to old for that!  I actually called her dad to carry her over the dune and then walked her home the two blocks!  And for the record, he did agree how hard it was!




IMG_3394Cousin snuggles.



















IMG_3471And finally, on the last day, success!  The sand was good.










Enjoy!  Make memories!

cate b

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