December 9, 2013 archive

The Tracks Of Miss Cathy…

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosAt 5:15 Saturday afternoon, Cathy Ortega Pond’s path abruptly ended.  No warning, no signposts telling us that her journey would come to a close. It left us so lost.  

We always speak kindly of those who have touched our lives and moved on, but there are no words to express how walking with Cathy felt.  Her footsteps were so light, while I clodded along like a bull in the proverbial china shop, that she seemed like some exquisite dancer.  When I look at her tracks, they never left my side through 3 incarnations of this blog since the day I met her on My Left Wing.  

That was part of her magic, really.  Of all the people, during the tumultuous days of Bush-blogging, she never one abandoned a single one of her friends, even when those friends found themselves hurting one another.  “I have an epic temper, Diane.  Don’t get me wrong here.  But, thats why I like print,” she would tell me.  When I asked about the loss of tone, and voice inflection that made misunderstandings so common?  She added, “That is the thing.  In print you have the choice to stop, think, take an hour you cannot in real time, and choose to tread lightly.  You can pick your words in kindness.  You can stop and think about their impact.

Step.  Step.  Step.  Even when I lagged behind, she would neither judge me nor pass me by.  I felt her hand on my shoulder, as she slowed to my pace, supporting me and believing in me that I could be a better me.

When my husband was ill, she would surprise me with a call, just to say she was there.  Her Jerry wrote us words of support, even reaching out to my son in his loss.  I feel like those times were the metaphorical times when there was one set of tracks, because she tried to carry me despite the weight of her own problems. Because that is the Pond way, this wonderful couple who reached out to lift people. They never ceased to amaze me that way.

And when Cathy danced?  It was a joy to behold, making everyone laugh with her wry humor and quick wit… teasing, yet?  Never, ever going too far.  Movie lines and puns; gumbo and family…. we would all smile.  There were times when I would see her as the clearing in the woods, bringing all the paths together in some Cathy trailhead where we all had to be on our best behavior because Miss Cathy demanded the gentlest of steps.  We failed her sometimes, but often rose above too, to make her proud.  On chatrooms of old, on FB.  Mediating the myriad blogs that splintered through the years,  she arbitrated to make us understand one another as she saw us.  Beautiful beings that needed kindness and understanding, and maybe a crutch to walk with until we became strong again. The two-step became a chorus line in her presence, and everyone was invited to dance along.  

She kept her own stories closer to her chest than many, but learned to share more too as the years went by. She shared her stories with me.  Our stories are what make us precious, she taught me.  Our delightful flaws and idiosyncrasies. Our humanity.  Our commonality – a commonality she never failed to see no matter which of us were at our lowest or worst. Step.  Step. Double-step. Because she had no problem doubling back when we got lost.

Sometimes she felt like her pleas for gentility were lost in a hurricane of what has become the shock-jock culture of Americana. The Paula Deen-i-zation of the world made her shake her head. A world in which even what she considered the “best” – you and I – would slip into a vernacular of hate.  I know that at times it made her feathered feet step heavier. She would gently remind me I didn’t have to use such extreme language to make my point, and that words had their own gravity.  

I cannot imagine a world without my Cathy touch-stone.  In 10 years of online communication, she is the only one who never left me.  Not. For. One. Second.

I bet she never left you, either.

We have to break our own trail now, without the tracks of Miss Cathy to follow. To learn to step more lightly and let love lift us to a more weightless state.  To reach out and lift those struggling in the mire.  To wait for those lagging, and caution those who rush to judgment.  

… and continue to imagine the tracks of Miss Cathy beside us as we journey. And maybe learn to fly….

I will always love you, Cathy.


On This Day In History December 9

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 9 is the 343rd day of the year (344th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 22 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1861, The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War is established by the U.S. Congress.

The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War was a United States Congressional investigating committee created to handle issues surrounding the American Civil War. It was established on December 9, 1861, following the embarrassing Union defeat at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, at the instigation of Senator Zachariah T. Chandler of Michigan, and continued until May 1865. Its purpose was to investigate such matters as illicit trade with the Confederate states, medical treatment of wounded soldiers, military contracts, and the causes of Union battle losses. The Committee was also involved in supporting the war effort through various means, including endorsing emancipation, the use of black soldiers, and the appointment of generals who were known to be aggressive fighters. It was chaired throughout by Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio, and became identified with the Radical Republicans who wanted more aggressive war policies than those of Abraham Lincoln.


Union officers often found themselves in an uncomfortable position before the Committee. Since this was a civil war, pitting neighbor against neighbor (and sometimes brother against brother), the loyalty of a soldier to the Union was simple to question. And since Union forces had very poor luck against their Confederate counterparts early in the war, particularly in the Eastern Theater battles that held the attention of the newspapers and Washington politicians, it was easy to accuse an officer of being a traitor after he lost a battle or was slow to engage or pursue the enemy. This politically charged atmosphere was very difficult and distracting for career military officers. Officers who were not known Republicans felt the most pressure before the Committee.

During the committee’s existence, it held 272 meetings and received testimony in Washington and at other locations, often from military officers. Though the committee met and held hearings in secrecy, the testimony and related exhibits were published at irregular intervals in the numerous committee reports of its investigations. The records include the original manuscripts of certain postwar reports that the committee received from general officers. There are also transcripts of testimony and accounting records regarding the military administration of Alexandria, Virginia.

One of the most colorful series of committee hearings followed the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, where Union Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, a former congressman, accused Maj. Gen. George G. Meade of mismanaging the battle, planning to retreat from Gettysburg prior to his victory there, and failing to pursue and defeat Robert E. Lee‘s army as it retreated. This was mostly a self-serving effort on Sickles’s part because he was trying to deflect criticism from his own disastrous role in the battle. Bill Hyde notes that the committee’s report on Gettysburg was edited by Wade in ways that were unfavorable to Meade, even when that required distorting the evidence. The report was “a powerful propaganda weapon” (p. 381), but the committee’s power had waned by the time the final testimony was taken of William T. Sherman on May 22, 1865.

The war it was investigating completed, the committee ceased to exist after this last testimony, and the final reports were published shortly thereafter. The later Joint Committee on Reconstruction represented a similar attempt to check executive power by the Radical Republicans.

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Nights from the Alhambra

Nights from the Alhambra

Nights from the Alhambra was recorded in 2006, before a live audience by Canadian singer, song writer and harpist Loreena McKennitt at the Palace of Charles V, in the Alhambra, Granada, Spain for the PBS series “Great Performances.”

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