Tag Archives: travel

Always A Mom

I am a grandma five times now plus one great grandson. Not too bad. I love it. But I will always be a mom.

In the back corner of my mind I thought that once the kids grew into adulthood and had their own families going, when their careers and schooling and such were all in tact, well, I thought somewhere in the crevices of my brain that I would be done being a mom.

Silly, I know. Because I think I am more a mom now than ever. What I mean by a “mom” is that my heart is bigger and more soft and vulnerable than when I spent many hours feeding, cleaning, burping, guiding, etc.

Now I have more time to look at what my children have become and are still growing into who they are. I give myself and my husband a great big pat on the back for who these kids are. And who their kids are becoming.

But as I watch, I cry. I cry tears of joy and silly sadness. One of my boys and his lovely wife is moving to the UK in just a few weeks! The UK!!! I live in the USA!!!

The good things are……. they will be there for a year (could be longer, who knows?). The better thing is that this is a dream come true for our son and his wife…..an opportunity to study at the University of Edinburg!

The BEST thing is that my husband and I will take our dream trip this Christmas and spend two glorious weeks in Scotland and a bit of Ireland! I’m beside myself with excitement! The child rearing years have paid off.

Then why the sadness you ask? Just knowing they are not and hour and a half away makes me cry a little. I actually feel a little lost. I go through that with our oldest and his family being twenty hours away by car.

I’ll make it. I couldn’t be more proud of all my kids.

But being a mom is hard.

Cate B

Here is a “seed” a friend sent me… my first spending money:


Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, this week, we returned from an unforgettable trip to mainland China.  It was amazing.  It was cold.  It was the Chinese New Year.

Here are of few pics I took.


cate b  here is a link to a post from last year I wrote about our trip – China Trip 

A Hard Road to Travel – Happy Chinese New Year

It was late January of 2005.  Our family was grieving the loss of our daughter.  Her memorial was on the 17th of January (you can read our loss journey here –  Darkest Day).  A dear friend looked at us and said, “Don’t you dare cancel your trip to China or I will drive you there myself!”

Now, back track a few months.  We sold a house when the market was high and the first thing we did was purchase two round trip tickets to China to visit our son who was there on a scholarship to learn Mandarin at Shanghai University.  What an opportunity, for both our son and us.  How many times will we know someone who lives in China and speaks the language?  So we seized the moment and bought the tickets.  We got our passports and spent a day in NYC enjoying great food, great Holiday decorations and a trip to the Chinese Consulate to acquire a visa into mainland China.

The twenty-one hour flight from eastern USA to Shanghai (via Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) was fantastic.  I say that because the plane was practically empty.  So we spread out.  We saw Mount Fuji sail by, beautiful.  It was a reflective time for me.  Here we were many miles above the earth and my heart and mind was with my daughter.  I knew she was in heaven having the time of her life and that comforted me.  I even felt closer to her up in the clouds.  But my heart hurt.  I wanted to enjoy this trip and time with our son.  We three needed each other at this time.  I was determined to make the best of it.  Looking back, it was a great place to visit when in grief.  No one could talk to me and no one wanted to and I didn’t speak the language.  It literally was very foreign.  That was a comfort to me.

So, here we were, the three of us, in a nice hotel in Shanghai, China.  No forks, lots of rice, and a very messy table in the hotel restaurant due to my long flight and a lack of using chopsticks (and you thought rice was only thrown at weddings).

There is so much to tell of this trip but I want to concentrate on The Great Wall of China.  We did see much in Shanghai and New Year’s dragon dance and the Chinese Circus and museum and The Forbidden City in Beijing.  Such an old land and so beautiful.

We checked into a Youth Hostel in Beijing.  My husband and I had our own room and our son was elsewhere in a dorm-type room.  After eating an amazing Beijing Duck dinner he informed us that we were signed up to see The Great Wall of China in the morning.  A shuttle bus would pick us up early.  We were ready – it was winter so I purchased some Chinese long johns in the market place the night before.  I put orange drink, peanut M&M’s, Pringle and a water bottle in my bag with my camera.  We were picked up early, after our breakfast of Chips A’Hoy cookies and orange drink, and proceeded to pick up other victims, uh, er, I mean tourists for the visit to The Wall.

We're WHERE???

We’re WHERE???

Three hours later, in a non-heated vehicle, we arrived in the middle of Nowhere, China.  We lived at sea-level in the US and here we had to climb stairs just to get to the Wall entrance.  Lungs nearly fell out of my body.  We entered that “door” behind us and started on the approximately six mile(?)  journey of the longest stair stepper I’ve ever seen.  Thank God my gym did not have this equipment.  Our guide, who spoke only a bit of english, kept saying, “Two more towers”.  She made this journey several times a day in the summer with such “tourists” as us.  Near the end I wanted to throw her off.  But she was so sweet and tried hard to converse with us.

one tower.....of thousands

one tower…..of thousands

The section above had no steps.  But to give you a mental image…… you either walked on flat stones OR steps that were short, steps that were too high for average humans, steps that were steep enough to use your hands also (hence the term climbing The Great Wall) and steps that went down a steep incline so that your guides grabbed your jacket so gravity didn’t take you first.  It was amazing and exhausting and in the middle of nowhere.  I am thankful for the snacks I brought in my bag.  And I am most thankful for the three guides who were conversing together when I heard an english word in the middle of their conversation, “SHORTCUT”.  I grabbed our guide and said, “Did you say Shortcut???????”

My husband and I decided to take the shortcut with two guides (appartenly we needed two guides) while our son ventured forward on the wall and we would meet up – somewhere???

The short cut was magnificent.  Easy on the lungs, we caught our breath and saw things that were quite amazing….

We walked through a village

We walked through a village

No power or plumbing

No power or plumbing

back in time

back in time

This little one came out to greet us

This little one came out to greet us

After a while we came to a bridge (where my camera battery died) – a bridge much like one you would see in Indiana Jones – suspended high over a river.  Did I mention that heights and I do not get along?  Well, it must have been the lack of oxygen because I started out fine, following my husband and enjoying the view – UNTIL the cables that hold the bridge and acted as side rails decided to drop down to knee level, rather than over my head level.  All security left me and I shoved my husband aside and RAN to the other side, leaned against the wall (The Great Wall of China) and refused to look back at that cavern.  We waited there for out son, who we saw coming over a high peak toward the bridge.  Before we saw him, his guide ran up to me speaking rapid Manderin and threw in english words like son and police.  I thought he fell off the wall.  Our guide stepped aside and caught our eye and kept shaking her head slightly.  What does that even mean?  I was starting to panic when two lady tourists of Asian decent approached us and I asked if they understood Chinese and if they spoke english.  They did.  The guide wanted my son to buy a t- shirt and he said, “Ask my parents”.  Go ahead laugh.

I bought the t-shirt:

bought the t-shirt

bought the t-shirt

So, from there we had to get back on the wall – it was so steep that I clung to the steps with all fours, put my head down, and cried.  Yes, I cried on The Great Wall of China.  My son thought I was having a heart attack or something.  I simply said, “I want to get off the freakin’ Wall!”

“Two more towers”, she said.  And that’s when I thought of taking her to the bridge and tossing her over the side.  Just a thought.  When I started to climb to the third tower, she grabbed me and said, this way.  We exited The Great Wall and low and behold, a wide paved road stretched before us that lead us to some building.  A bathroom and a restaurant!!!  I told my son to order anything – don’t care what I eat – I headed to the enclosed hole in the ground to pee.  Ahh.

We waved goodbye to our lovely guide, she kept waving as if we were old friends.  On the bus back to the hostel we all asked for heat.  They turned it on for us.  We freshened up and went out again for duck and slept like babies that night.

My son told me recently that we could have gone to a more “tourist” friendly part of the Wall where there are elevators and Starbucks.  But he chose the harder route.  I am very glad he did.  Really, I did CLIMB The Great Wall of China and even bought the t-shirt to prove it.  It feels good to have done that and I will never do it again.

The Chinese like to have their kids in pics with westerners

The Chinese like to have their kids in pics with westerners

me, with my read hair and blue jacket (think I will blend i?)

me, with my read hair and blue jacket (think I will blend in?)

Happy New Year China!


cate b

Daydream Believer

On Sunday I took a walk.  The weather was perfect for a November Mid-west day.  Warm and sunny.  I went to a park just a couple of blocks away.  Here is what I saw –

Autumn Ending

Autumn Ending

Where is everyone?

Where is everyone?










I like the quiet but I also wonder why there was absolutely no one out on such a glorious day.  I guess it was a football watching day.

And here…… daydream believer –

Where can we go?

Where can we go?

It's all out there waiting to be discovered.

It’s all out there waiting to be discovered.

The world is at your fingertips…..dream big and go!


cate b

What Was I Thinking?

How can I possibly complain?  Well, I can, of course complain.  It’s a free country.  But it’s more like – why would I complain?  Sometimes when my life is full of questions and very little answers I tend to wander…… in my mind mostly.  Wander and wonder – should we be doing this?  Should we be living here?  Should we, should we, should we…….???????

Well all that in the first paragraph takes a lot of energy!  I pooped out.  When I get restless and tired of waiting for things to unfold I dream of tropical islands.  Do  you know why?  I do.  I realized it yesterday.  It’s because the few times I visited tropical places was on vacation.  They represent peace and rest and comfort and carefree living.  But I know that living in these places is not all of those things I just listed.  Living in them is exactly that.  Day to-day responsibilities just like here exist in day-to-day life on an island in the Caribbean.  I lived in a beach town. Tourists everywhere all summer long.  I was not tan!  Day-to-day life!

That said, my favorite flower is the Plumeria.  Not only are they beautiful to my eyes but the scent is magnificent.  I live in the mid-west of the USA and it is far from tropical weather.  With our harsh winters and extreme summers we cannot grow tropical plants outside.  BUT!  We can grow them inside.  Since last spring I have been nurturing a Plumeria that I named Lelani  and she bloomed this summer!  I am also nurturing a Plumeria named Carmen Miranda – she has not bloomed yet but is thriving in our perfect, yet rare, summer weather on the front porch.  She is getting big.  Joining them is a Pony Tail Palm I named Sandra Dee and my Hindu Rope Plant that I named Slumdog Millionaire.  It’s alright – I do have a very active imagination and I am fun! And here is a picture of Lelani:





sandra-dee2Slumdog_millionaire_ver2one of my favorite movies…………………..

May you all find a corner of paradise in your everyday world!  It’s there.  You just have to look for it.


cate b

The Re-Entry Blues

Just got home last night from a lovely vacation with family.  I love vacations.  I dislike coming home.  But we must re-enter the world of “normal”.  Blah!

While we were away we missed torrential mid-west rains and, thank God, gigantic tornadoes.  I am heartbroken for Oklahoma.

We did come home to a jungle of tall grass and weeds and more moisture in the basement – which prevents us from turning on the air conditioner because the house becomes permeated with the smell of damp basement.  I have a very sensitive nose.

On the bright side, a lovely teenage girl came by and mowed the jungle in the 77% humidity on the 76 degree day – not a good ratio.

The moisture in the basement is dissipating and the sun is trying to come out.

Things are looking brighter – the thoughts of packing my bag and running away from home are lessening……

I will tell more of our trip very soon.  Thanks for listening.


cate b.


I May Need to Make a Pie

I love to make pie.  I love to see the faces of people who eat pie.  It’s so wonderful and fulfilling to produce a baked good that gives others such joy!  I had a brilliant – NOT! – idea to make and sell pies.  I made many at Thanksgiving and reaped in the money.  But each time I do that I am constantly thinking, “What, are you crazy?”  It’s a lot of work and I put love and creativity into each one.  I’m not so sure it’s worth it as a very small home business.  I suppose if I had a commercial kitchen and people who loved to make pie as I do we could have a team thing going and really do well.  Not so sure I want to do that.  So, I will make pies whenever the demand for or the orders come to me.  No problem.

So in 2 days I will be in a car with my husband and son and daughter and their daughter (a 2 year old) on a journey to the east coast.  We will stay with our other son and family and I will make them a pie!  And we will eat that pie!  And we will enjoy that pie!  And I will go to the beach and rest and contemplate about that pie and all the joy it brought people and I will be at peace (at piece).

IMG_2878         IMG_2880This one is Strawberry Rhubarb.  One of my most favorite!



cate b.