Tag Archives: New Jersey

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!

Enjoy!

Cate B

Surprises

It can get pretty hot here in The Middle. This summer is mildly hot compared to other summers in The Middle.

This summer is better for us since we  had central air installed. I have to go outside to warm up. I’m not complaining.

This particular afternoon I realized I needed to water my tropical plants that I have on the front stoop for the summer. It makes them happy to be in very warm fresh air, but if I don’t water them daily the wind can blow them over, then they bleed.

So out I went into the intense heat. I had the hose pointed toward the grass to cool the water down before spraying the plants.  As I turned to water the plants I heard a friendly female voice call out to me, “Excuse me”.

I turned, and a woman slightly older than me, was standing halfway up my driveway. This is unusual since very few human beings are outside in the mid-west heat.

I asked if I could help her, then I noticed her husband standing at the end of the driveway. My phone was inside and all I had as a weapon was the flimsy hose and moderate water pressure. I prayed.

She introduced herself and even shook my hand. Boy how suspicious I had become over the years. I shook her hand saying my first name only.

She jumped right into the reason they were there. Thirty-five years ago her husband, who now shook my hand and told me his name as I gripped my ninja hose even tighter,  had been stationed at Whitman Air Force Base and they lived in the duplex across the street.

They both went on about their time there. I asked where they were from. “New Jersey”, she said, delightfully. I relaxed at that point. I mean, hello! I am from New Jersey.

Well, out came the Jersey accent like a knife through butter. We laughed together and tisked as we shook our heads over the lack of knowledge of true pizza and bagels and the proper way to pronounce cawfee.

What a delight. I just love those moments in life that sneak up and surprise you with such little things that can make your ordinary day look totally amazing.

Those things that come up on you like a butterfly caught in the wind that nearly bumps you in the head. Something you weren’t looking for or expecting.

The little things. It may sound mundane or so simple for some of you and you don’t get it. That’s OK. But for others it may wake you up and you begin to “see”.

I think so much goes on around us that are small or large events but most of the time we just don’t notice them. If we could just slow down long enough….the watering of a dry plant or taking the trash to the curb can be quite an experience.

I love to go and sit different places and watch what is going on around me. I can’t explain it ….. I just enjoy it. And when you take that one slight step closer to a situation and actually

here’s looking’ at you

….. well, try it. You may just change a life that day or you may change.

Enjoy!

Cate B

Watching the Tide

I just love taking photos.  I am a beginner by all means.  I have been running from editing photos, mostly because I’m cheap and also because I do not understand the apps.

But today I found a simple and affordable one that I am trying out. So you, Dear Readers, are here to see my first edit – whatever that means.  This was taken a few years ago in Cape May County, New Jersey.  The original was grayer…….

Enjoy!

cate b

pier_edited

 

Cool As a Uke

To continue my love of the Ukulele……… my friend and I went to Guitar Center – http://www.guitarcenter.com/ and took the free Ukulele lesson they offered this month.

Let me backtrack a little.  Last week I went into our local Guitar Center to see if they had a gig bag for my ukulele.  In the parking lot I took a deep breath and quickly got into character.  You see, I’m sixty-one years old and if you have ever been in this chain store you know it is full of guitars and drums and amps and guys with long hair and probably REAL musicians.  I just wanted a gig bag for my Uke.  I was a bit intimidated.

I should not be intimidated because I have been playing the guitar since 1970 and can bang out some chords on a piano or keyboard and even played a little violin in my day – very little.  My brother played in bands and music filled our house often.  My four children are musicians – that I gave birth to.  I’m from New Jersey for crying out loud!  Bruce Springsteen territory!  But here I was in the parking lot of The Guitar Center where giant posters of – whoever they are – people like Steven Tyler and other dudes like him filling the window.  And in walks mom – or grandma.

Well, this young salesman comes up to me and asked if I needed help.  I stated I wanted a gig-bag for my ukulele.  You would have thought I was his best friend.  Not only did he have gig-bags but he played the Uke and loves it!  The stress melted off of me right there and we became fast friends.  So that is how I found out about the free ukulele lessons in the month of June.

Here we were in this class of about ten people of all ages surrounded by Peavy amps and an instructor full of fun and happiness.It was a beginner class and my friend and I were a bit more advanced – especially her.  I could at least tune my Uke to the iPhone app Ukulele tuner and I owned my own Uke.  This was forty-five minutes of fun and encouragement.  I recommend everyone who wants to play check with your local Guitar Center for upcoming lessons.

For your Saturday enjoyment ………

http://youtu.be/wCpDfB0xhIk

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 –

http://www.crackerbarrel.com/

 

 

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_3380

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_3389

IMG_3394Cousin snuggles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3465IMG_3479

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!  Make memories!

cate b