Category Archives: Kate Loves…

Just a Midwestern Girl

One of the things I love best about being female is being privileged to know so many fabulous women.  There is something about the women of the Midwest that is real. The kind of “real” which is imbued with sincerity,  caring, strength, humor, and the pursuit of fun.

They speak their minds. Some women do so bluntly in a “take no prisoners” way, but most will tell you what they think in a thoughtfully worded statement trying to help but not wound the recipient. That is the caring part of the equation.

Caring enough to bring food to an ailing neighbor IMG_8753or shoveling the sidewalk for another is a commonplace occurrence. These women are caring enough to volunteer to help out at church and school events without griping about it. They don’t think twice about helping because the culture they grew up in incorporates the ethos of good works and citizenship into daily life.

Women who get up at the crack of dawn to help milk cows before making breakfast, sending the kids off to school and heading to their “day” jobs.  After work, they work on the evening meal, head back to the barn to milk cows once again, and then drop into bed after the homework is done and the kids are bathed. A strength of body and spirit enable these women to do this day in and day out–not Monday-Friday, but 365 days a year.  Dairy farming is not for the idle.

The strength of dealing with hard work when the rewards aren’t designer clothing, fancy vacations or luxury cars. For many women in the middle of the country, our rewards are evidenced in having a roof over our heads, bills paid (but not paid off), and food on the table. Our lives are simple, but money can’t buy the luxuries our world offers.  Natural beauty, a sense of community and a focus on family are a few of our rewards.

D2B8A3FA-1AFB-49E1-BAF2-C9A424F42BE4We don’t need to get overly raucous or lewd to laugh and have a good time. A weekend of camping and/or a concert are some of my favorite outings.  We aren’t perfect, but when we aren’t our friends are there to keep us safe.

I was born in New York City, but the majority of my youth was spent in the Midwest.  I’m just a Midwestern girl, and I’m darn proud of it!

Going Golfing

I wasn’t an athletic kid.  I stumbled, couldn’t hit a baseball if my life depended on it, and dodgeball was my personal hell. I wasn’t the last kid picked for the teams but I was in the bottom 10%. I really wanted to run like the wind and be decent at sports (note: I didn’t say “good at sports”.  My goals were realistic.).

I was pretty good at making baskets whenever we played Horse on the playground. Finally, something where I could achieve a modicum of success! The first week of basketball practice in middle school and a six foot tall Amazon landed on my foot and broke at least one of my toes. It was the end of my basketball career. I realized at only five foot three inches I was at a disadvantage. Besides, my foot turned black and blue, swelling so much my toes curled under my foot. It wasn’t something I wanted to repeat.

One of my friends ( another writing nerd) informed me she was trying out for the golf team. It isn’t much of a tryout. Everyone makes the team unless they decide they don’t want to do it anymore. Golf wasn’t a contact sport, and I didn’t need to run. It sounded like a win-win to me.

My dad was pleased I was trying something different. He bought me a set of golf clubs with the understanding I needed to persevere and not give up since “golf clubs aren’t cheap!”

And, play I did. I played on the golf teams through middle school, high school, and college.  My first date with my husband was playing 36 holes of golf. We walked the hilly course and carried our own golf bags.  Ah, youth…(wistful sigh, insert here).

Through the years, we continued to play but the frequency depended on how busy our lives/jobs were and how strapped financially we were at the time. And for some inexplicable reason, I stopped playing seven years ago. That is, until last week when I picked up my clubs and headed to the driving range to hit some golf balls.

Truly, I was worried. I was in much better shape physically than I was the last time I’d played, but I was also much older now.  It went fairly well. Some balls responded exactly as they should have, and others rolled a few feet away leaving evidence of my inconsistency and my sloppy swing.

Undeterred by my less than stellar performance, I told my husband I wanted to play a few holes of golf. I proceeded to bogey and double bogey multiple holes. Most of my puts were laughable, but I did sink a forty-footer (smile). I ended up in not one, but three bunkers.

Nine holes later, I was smiling, sunburnt and had stiff and aching shoulders. It was great fun. I didn’t let my poor putting or uneven play depress me, because golf IS only a game and with more practice time and rounds of golf under my belt, I know I will improve.

See you out on the links!

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/

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…

Cold Days and Sneezy Nights!

I like winter.  I know, I know, a lot of people hate winter, the sub-zero weather, and snow etc. accompanying the season, but I enjoy many aspects of the season. Wood burning in the fireplace, hot cocoa, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and frost covered trees are all reasons I love this time of year.  Except for one thing–it tends to be the cold and flu season, too.

I’m a nurse who isn’t a stranger to nursing sick individuals back to health.  I’m also a big, ol’ whiny baby when I’m not feeling well.  I hate wearing hats even on the worst days and last week I headed out the door on a fairly nice day for this time of year without hat or scarf and proceeded to go on a long walk.  Five plus miles later, I returned home feeling energized, but by bedtime, I was starting to feel cranky.

Sneezy, stuff;y, scratchy throat and all the other joyful symptoms of a cold descended during the night.  I croaked out my good mornings, took a boatload of analgesics and searched for cold medicine.  Nope.  None to be found.  I could have walked to the grocers but I remembered suddenly that I’m a whiny ol’ baby and I was SICK!!  Instead, I sent a text to my hubby and put in my order for orange juice, nighttime “coughing, sneezing prevention so you can rest” medicine and something quick for supper.

My man provided.  Thank God!  Now, three days later and I’m on the road to recovery.  I’m ready to go out and shovel the walks without a hat and scarf or snowshoe (if only it would snow a little bit more…)  Yeah, I know.  I’m crazy, but I guess that’s why I love winter!