Category Archives: Short stories

What Kate’s Reading…

Check out this 3-volume short story anthology by authors from the One Million Project!

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

Snapshots of a Lovely Woman

I’m of an age now.  An age which brings with it the loss of youth in not only the mirror but in my world-view of myself. Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and not only am I a mother, but I still have my mother in my life. I’m very fortunate in many ways.

The past month has been very difficult for me. I’ve had a front-row seat watching my mom’s physical and mental decline, losing a bit more of herself day by day. Over the past few years, her mobility decreased rapidly, but her spirit remained high. Even during her fight against breast cancer, she swore to anyone who would listen that she would fight it. Sure enough, when she awoke after surgery, she stuck out her tongue at us. She’d found a way to make the solemn and frightening event emotionally lighter. In the last month, her memory has been failing, and simple tasks require step-by-step instructions.

IMG_7410My mom was born in the middle of the Great Depression on a July day so hot, my grandfather had to buy two fans for the hospital room to keep his wife and new baby girl comfortable. Mom grew up on a 560-acre farm in a house without running water, electric lights, heat or an indoor bathroom. The family used an outhouse. Kerosene lamps were used for light. They had an icebox, not a refrigerator like we have now, and every few days a new block of ice needed to be purchased to cool their perishable food.

From kindergarten until the fourth grade, Mom attended a one-room schoolhouse.  She wrote about her feelings concerning school in a short autobiography published for her family, “I hated school so my mom would take me inside the building, and the teacher would hold me until she knew my mom had gone.  I would then go outside and cry.  I did the crying for quite awhile.”

As a teenager, Mom detassled corn working in fields with

IMG_7413
Mom is #20, back row, first from left.

mile-long rows of corn under the hot summer sun in order to earn money. She was an awesome basketball player, was voted the “Carnival Queen” in high school, and graduated third in her class. She would laugh when she told others of her prestigious class ranking, informing her listeners that she’d graduated in a class of three students!

 

She never left the state of Iowa until she married my father, a native New Yorker. After their wedding, they moved to New York City. What an adventure for her! She’d never eaten pizza, flown in a plane or seen so many people from so many different cultures. But being my mom, she made friends quickly and my dad’s Irish immigrant family welcomed her.

IMG_7436There are many, many stories about this wonderful lady and her life, but I offer you a sliver, a snapshot to avoid this becoming a novella. I share these small glimpses into Mom’s life with supreme gratitude for her patience and loving care of me over the years. I wouldn’t be the woman I am without my parents.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I return back home again to honor my mother, care for her needs and grab every moment I can to laugh with her and show my love for her just as she always did for me.

Thanks for reading…Kate

The Empowerment Program Empowers Homeless Women

This is a fabulous idea! This organization hires homeless women taking them out of the shelters to train them to make jackets that are given to the homeless.

They also provide training for other careers for those who wish to move on once they are established. We need more ideas like this one. Check out the video and consider donating to help this worthwhile program.

https://www.facebook.com/attn/videos/1703232489712203/

What Kate’s Reading: One Million Project’s Fantasy Anthology

Check out the One Million Project’s Fantasy Anthology! Great stories! So many of my favorite writers are featured in this volume. A must-read, must-have book for your collection. And the best thing about it — all proceeds benefit charity!!!

theonemillionproject

The recent publication of the three-volume short story anthologies from the One Million Project was the culmination of over a year and a half of work and coordination of over one hundred writers, editors and publishing professionals. Each week, I will highlight each of the anthologies to give readers a taste of how fabulous these books are.

Our Fantasy volume presents a variety of genres including Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and PhotoFunia-1517875727 (1)Supernatural Fantasy.  Each story is of differing lengths and some authors have contributed multiple mini-stories so there are more than forty stories in this volume.

Find out what happens to Rachel when her long-time boyfriend leaves her for another man in S. Cinders’ story, Dragon or escape into a tale about what happens when the gods and goddesses create mischief in The Perfect Tree by Sarah A. Wilson.  Have you ever gazed in the mirror and questioned your life choices? Raymond…

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What Kate’s Reading: One Million Project Thriller Anthology

The recent publication of the three-volume short story anthologies from the One Million Project was the culmination of over a year and a half of work and coordination of over one hundred writers, editors and publishing professionals. Each week, I will highlight each of the anthologies to give readers a taste of how fabulous these books […]

via One Million Project Thriller Anthology — theonemillionproject

My Tribute to Father Bill

Two years ago, I made an effort to begin going to Sunday mass again.  I’d been absent more often than not during the preceding years for a plethora of reasons — weekend work schedules, out-of-town family events, and caring for my mother in her home in another state. Father Bill was the priest on the Sunday I’d returned to join the faithful.

I watched as he entered the church from the sacristy. Walking across the altar was difficult for him, I understood why he didn’t participate in the processional at the beginning of mass.  I lamented the state of the Church, and its continued problems recruiting young priests.  During that mass, Father Bill touched my heart with his thoughtful, quiet homily and the devotion and passion of his voice as he sung the hymns.

On the walk home, I confided in my husband how moved I was by Father Bill’s story which reminded so much of an event that occurred when we attended Midnight Mass in Rome over two decades ago. When I got home, I wrote a short story about that special night.

It has been over a week since Father Bill fell and broke his hip. After surgery, he seemed to be doing well and the hospital staff planned on getting him up to walk. Within a few days, his condition worsened, and Father Bill was called to his heavenly home. He will be sorely missed by the parishioners in our little village.

He struggled to walk, yet he bolstered himself to come and say mass each week even on the coldest winter days. The effort would waylay many younger people. When our pastor Father John spoke of Father Bill, he equated him with characters from stories similar to the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and Lord of the Rings. Father Bill was the old king who went into battle when he was needed and fought valiantly in the service of others. Not a single dry eye in the church this past Sunday… Godspeed, Father Bill, this story is for you.


Midnight Song

The dimly lit courtyard held a snaking line of visitors IMG_6562.PNGwhich buzzed with muted conversations, the shuffling of feet, and an occasional entreaty by a youngster to the elders who accompanied them.  The group waited in anticipation to hear Pope John Paul II say Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.  Among the crowd were people of all ages, colors, and ethnicities.  Ahead of us, the melodic cadence of Italian came from an animated troupe while behind us stood a gathering of nuns with dark veils covering their hair and wooden crosses hanging from the rosary beads secured at their waists.

In our group were military families taking a trip to Rome on Christmas weekend.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime event for my small family.  I had purchased a crucifix to hang in our home and brought my rosary so both items could be blessed by the Pope during Midnight Mass.  Growing up in a Catholic family, my favorite mass of the year was this one celebrated on Christmas Eve.

When I was a young girl, we would get bundled up in our winter coats, boots, and mittens and crawl into our beat-up Chevy for the drive along snowy highways with the moonlight lighting the snow-covered fields until they glowed.  The country church we attended it’s a well-known fact you had to get there early because the church reached its capacity for Midnight Mass. If you arrived late, you’d have to stand in the back and for a young child, it was reminiscent of standing among a suffocating forest of human legs.

The choir would start off the standard hymns I’d learned when my dad would play the Christmas album, “Sing Along with Mitch.”  The voices of the faithful would swell with hope and love infused into their harmonies.  Our song was a prayerful offering to the Creator.

In that dark Vatican courtyard, as we tried to stay warm, stomping our feet and rubbing our hands together, our small military group began to sing Silent Night to keep our minds off the December chill in the air and to pass the time.  The Canadian nuns joined us and soon a trickle of other groups followed, providing a mixture of accented baritones, sopranos, tenors and altos.  Our song grew in strength into something so pure it connected us all at that moment.  One carol followed another until the stone walls surrounding us echoed with our words. Goosebumps popped up on my arms, and I felt a chill deep in my chest as I sang along.  We–the travelers to this place on this specific night–were one in song and in fellowship.

I remember that night like it happened yesterday and not twenty-four years ago.  We connected to strangers with our familiar song.  I haven’t any photos or videos to document the moment but they aren’t needed because the memories are permanently engraved in my mind and heart.  I wonder if the other people remember that evening as fondly.

My Jeeplopy

Jalopy is kind of an old-fashioned word.  I just bought a twenty-one year old Jeep Wrangler.  I have fondly dubbed her “My Jeeplopy”. I had a choice to pick out a newer model or a brand-new vehicle, but there was something about buying it out-right that appealed to my penny-pinching side.

I know many women who would look at the tattered and stained seats, dents and missing parts and say, “No way am I going to be caught in THAT piece of crap!” But, I could see the beauty in her.  A little cleaning and a few additions would have her looking respectable.  The engine looked good, and it started right up.

I felt like a teenager with their first car when I drove to the car wash and washed and waxed the Wrangler.  I pictured driving with the top off during the summer with the wind blowing through my dark — wait, a second — my silver tresses as I drive along the Great River Road.

Boxes of new accessories for my baby are delivered almost daily as I give her some tender loving care.  No worries, though, I tend to stick to desert camo and black accessories and avoid the pink and teal components.  I’ll save the bright colors for my Jeep-themed t-shirts and caps.

I’ve also received feedback from a fan (you know who you are!) that I can never get rid of “Clare’s Jeep”.  Trust me, I won’t, at least not for a very long time.

 

Music Makes My Elliptical Go Around

I have a love/hate relationship with my elliptical.  It wasn’t even that I’d paid a king’s ransom to purchase one.  My sister and her boyfriend carted it about 200 miles in the back of their SUV — FREE!

I was so excited at first… Then I realized I preferred walking outside to being inside on a machine, but I live in the frosty North which translates into “I either workout indoors or I get fatter over the winter.”  My dilemma was simple.  I’m a wimp and it was too easy to get off the elliptical when I got tired. When I’m walking I can be four miles from home, and I don’t have a choice but walk back.

I’d made great strides in my training over the summer and I didn’t want to regress.  I paced back and forth by the dusty gift contemplating whether I could succeed where I was unsuccessful for (Wait for it!) years.  Yes, it isn’t a typo.  YEARS!!

I’d tried several times over the years but after I exercised on the elliptical ten to fifteen minutes I’d stop stating that it was too hard.  Which is a crock of expletive.  I was in the Army.  I was a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do.  True, that was years ago, but I’d done the tough stuff.  I would walk for two to three hours in the heat until I was so tired I could barely put one foot in front of the other.

I wasn’t going to let a big, old, gray instrument of torture get the best of me.  I armed myself with my water bottle and my secret weapon — a music playlist.  I also prepared to go all drill instructor on myself if I tried to wimp out again.  My goal was to remain on the thing for thirty minutes.  Double my longest time.  I hit play on my phone put the earbuds in and preceded to conquer the gray devil.

I listen to many artists and different genres.  It’s music that makes me move, helps me to write and relax.  Here’s a sample of a few songs I listened to this morning.  I’m also happy to say I tamed that gray beast and I exercise for over 60 minutes at a time.  And yes, I did have to go all drill instructor on myself that first time.  It was ugly…