Monday, August 18, 2014

childhood discoveries.

We all had those moments as kids when you discover something isn't exactly what you thought. Or you totally believed something that was totally untrue. Here are a few that happened to me.

1. When you discover that The Lone Ranger theme song isn't really The Lone Ranger theme song at all.

2. When you find out gum really doesn't take years to digest.

3. When for years you thought your preacher was saying, "and you've been baptized by a merchant?" when it was really, "and you've been baptized by immersion?" *face palm* I always wondered who this strange merchant was.

4. When you find out Daniel Boone really didn't look like Fess Parker at all. Bummer.

5. When your favorite author, Carolyn Keene, is not real.

6. That bed bugs ARE.

7. When the the wise men weren't really three, and the star wasn't on the night Jesus was born.

8. When you dance with your church shoes on in the kitchen, you aren't really dancing like Shirley Temple.

9. That Steve didn't really go to college. He left his beloved friend Blue with some guy named Joe because he was going bald.

10. That if you swallow a watermelon seed, a watermelon won't grow in your stomach. This was probably more of a good discovery.

What were some of yours?

Kathryn (aka Chatty Kathy)

Friday, May 2, 2014

a note to myself

Dear Self,

I can't help but notice you seem to struggle with writing every single day. Sometimes you just have to force yourself to sit down and write. The inspiration won't always come and it just may not be a "good writing day". But it doesn't matter. The only way you'll become an author is if you write. Write. Write. Write.

I've found that once you sit down and actually try, you might find that ideas will start popping into your head, and that "bad writing day" will disappear.

Oh! But the excuses are endless. It's so pretty outside, you say. Oh, look, you're right. Go write outside, then. I just don't feel like it. And your point is? My story is just not turning out the way I wanted it to. Then go fix it.

Even when you are trying to write, things can be a distraction. Just keep on swimming, and stop being like Doug.

So go grab your iced coffee, gather your notes, and GO WRITE.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dessa Part 9, the Final Part

            "Charlotte!" Mother cried.

            Mother rushed into the bedroom, soaking wet. Her eyes were wild as she held up a sopping newspaper with the headline:
Gen. Lee Surrenders!

            I shrieked and jumped off the bed, grabbing the newspaper from Mother’s hand.            
            “I don’t believe it!” I exclaimed, still staring at the paper in shock. “Do you know what this means? Jack is coming home!”
            Dessa jumped up and down on the bed as Mother and I cried in each other’s arms.
            Sure enough, a few days later the telegram arrived.
Western Union
Coming home in few days –(stop-) can’t wait to see you and girl –(stop)- love Jack –(stop)-
Every day after that, Dessa and I watched eagerly for the carriage to arrive. We would even eat our meals on the porch if the weather allowed.
I was in my bedroom making my bed when I heard Dessa.
“He’s here, Charlie, he’s here!” she yelled.
My heart pounded and already my eyes were filling up with tears. I lifted my skirts and flew down the stairs and out the front door. Standing by the carriage was Jack, still clad in his dark blue uniform.
“Jack!” I sobbed, running towards him. He wrapped his arms around me as I cried into his shoulder. He planted a kiss on my cheek and then looked deep into my misty eyes, his own eyes filled with tears. 
“Are you alright?” he scanned me up and down. “I got a telegram saying-“
“Oh, that. I’m fine, honest. I’ll tell you all about it later. But first-“ I stopped and turned towards the front door where a little girl peeked out. “Darling, I’d like you to meet Hadessah.”
Jack smiled and approached the front door. He knelt down to Dessa’s height and gave her a hug. Dessa beamed.
“It’s very nice to meet you,” he said. Jack glanced at me and I knew exactly what he was thinking. How on earth did you get this girl out of the south?
“I’ll explain everything later,” I smiled. “Right now I’m just glad you’re home and safe.” I put my arm through his and we walked into our home together for the first time in months.
Later that evening, after a hearty supper, the three of us sat on the couch and Jack was eager to hear our story.
“Oh dear. Where to begin?” I sighed.
“How about with the frying pan?” Dessa grinned. We shared a good laugh as Jack looked thoroughly puzzled.
“Shall we tell her now?” I asked. Jack nodded his head and tried not to smile. It was a week after he had arrived and we had very important news for Dessa.
            “Dessa! Would you come here for a minute, please?” I yelled from the bottom of the stairs. She came down and I motioned for her to go into the living room and sit down. Jack had his arm resting on the mantle of the blazing fireplace, next to the photograph of us both on our wedding day.
            “Sit down, Dessa,” he said. She obeyed, and I sat down next to her.
            “Charlie and I have something important to tell you,” he started. “We’ve found a family for you to live with.”
            Her face fell immediately. But within seconds she put a smile on her face.
            “Oh, that’s very good news!” she exclaimed, her voice quivering a bit. “I’m sure I’ll be quite happy and-and-“ she struggled to hold back the tears.
            “Dessa,” I said softly. “We want you to be in our family.”
            Her mouth fell open and she looked back and forth from Jack to me.
            “You mean, live here?” she whispered, warm tears starting to stream down her face. “For good?”
            Jack came and sat on the other side of her, grabbing her tiny, light brown hand.
            “For good.”
            Then came the sobs of joy that brought tears to Jack’s and my own eyes.
“You’ll never be alone again, darling. Jack and I will be here for you always.”
We threw our arms around each other and had group hug. And by the light of the flickering fire in the hearth, we discussed all our plans for the future.
“Hadessah Grace Hamilton,” Dessa said, grinning. I turned and looked her in the eye.
“Grace?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. “No wonder you thought up that name so quickly!” I laughed.
“I must have missed something again. I swear, you two have more inside jokes than-than-I don’t know what!” Jack exclaimed, visibly frustrated. We laughed and both gave him kiss.
            I had never been happier in my life. The war was over, Jack was home and we now had a daughter. Every part of the journey-the cold, hunger and pain-was worth it. I would do it over a thousand times if I had too, for my sweet Dessa.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dessa, Part 8

            I apologize for the rather poor writing here... I was running out of time and had to finish the story as quickly as possible. I read it now and cringe... But I hope you enjoy it, anyway.
            A woman fingered the picture frame that sat on the fireplace mantle in front of her. She smiled, revealing the deep dimples on her face. A salty tear escaped and ran down her wrinkled cheek.
            The two people in the photograph, her daughter and son-in-law, were both away at war. She had offered to take care of their house while they were gone, since she lived right down the street.
            She thought about the strange telegram she had received from her son-in-law, over a month ago. It said that her daughter was traveling somewhere to get some little girl. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it didn’t surprise her. Charlotte was always on some sort of an adventure. After all, how many women went to war along side her husband?
            The woman stared out the window and into the busy street beyond. She prayed that one day both of them would walk safely through the white gate leading to the house once again.
            She laughed and shook her head. They would be all right. She actually felt better that Charlotte wasn’t on the battlefield; it was too dangerous for her baby girl.
I groaned. My eyes opened and the sky above me spun around and around. I winced from the throbbing pain in my arm. I was afraid to look.
            I sat up, my head still spinning. Immediately blood started spilling down my left arm. I grabbed the wound with my right hand and tried to stand.  My bag was gone, which meant so was the revolver.
            It took a few tries, but I finally found the strength to stand.
            “Dessa!” I yelled, although it came out as a whisper. “Dessa!”
            I knew that I needed something on my arm. The only thing I had was my shawl, so I carefully wrapped it around the painful wound and knotted it. I was beginning to feel faint, but I refused to pass out. I had to find Dessa.
            I stumbled forwards, back into the woods from where we had just come. Before I had gotten very far, I had to sit down on a fallen tree, for I was quite out of breath. Oh for a drink of cold water right now!
Then suddenly I heard a noise. Or did I? Yes, yes, there it was again! It was voices! Were they real or was I hearing things?
            “Why don’t you fix something for the little lady to eat?” I heard someone say.
            I stood up and stumbled forwards. Through the thick brush I spotted horses, then two men kneeling over a fire. One of them was the man who had shot me.
            I clenched my teeth. Sitting on a tree stump, her hands tied behind her back, was Dessa.
            “Why? Why did you shoot my Charlie?” she sobbed. “Why?”
            “Be quiet, or I’ll make you be quiet,” one of the men retorted.
            They turned their attention to the food they were cooking and that’s when I made my move. I sneaked around behind Dessa. I knew that if I tapped her on the shoulder I would startle her and be found out. I felt bad for doing it, but I knew there could be no other way. So I clapped my hand right across her mouth, tightly. She jumped, but the men didn’t notice a thing. I slowly pried my hand away and began working at the rope. Once it was untied, I grabbed her by the hand and motioned for her to start running. I could tell she wanted to throw her arms around my neck and give me a kiss, but we had no time.
            The second we started running, the men saw us.
            “Hey!” Their voices echoed through the woods.
            “Run, run!” I screamed. Please don’t let me faint, I prayed. Please.
            Dessa was leading the way. Her sharp eyes immediately spotted the perfect hiding place. A cave, its entrance covered by hanging vines. I was growing weaker and weaker by the second, but she helped me make it safely into the cave. There we collapsed on the wet ground and prayed the men wouldn’t find us.
            We waited in the darkness, the only sounds our heavy breathing and water dripping somewhere deep within in the cave. To our great relief, the men did not see the cave and ran right by it. After she was sure they were gone, Dessa threw her arms around my neck and exclaimed,
            “Oh, Charlie! I’m so glad you’re alive!”
            “So am I,” I whispered, a small smirk appearing on my face.
            “It’s Charlie and Dessa!” someone cried.
            I looked up in shock and saw three very blurry people.
            “Estie? Is that you?” I whispered.
            “Oh, miss Charlie!” she exclaimed, running over to where I was propped up against the cave wall. “Oh ma gracious! You’re hurt! Joe, Daniel, she’s hurt!”
            I remember only a few things after that. Being carried out of the cave by Joe, and being laid in the bottom of a canoe or some sort of water raft. After that, my mind goes blank until I woke up in a soft bed, surrounded by everyone plus a man who was examining my arm.
            “Don’tcha worry, hon,” Estie said softly. “Good ol’ Doc here says you’s gonna be just fine.”
            I smiled and tried to say something, but the doctor stopped me.
            “Just rest, Mrs. Hamilton. You’re weak from blood loss. But I suspect you will be able to travel to your home within a week or two.”
            “Where am I?”  I whispered, despite the doctor’s orders to stay silent.
            “This is the next station,” Daniel said. “And don’tcha worry 'bout Doc Linden, he’s on our side.”
            “We’re in Indiana?” I asked.
            “Yes hon. You were sleepin’ like a baby when we crossed de Ohio,” Estie said.
The wait to go home was practically unbearable. Even with Joe and Estie and Dessa trying to cheer me up. I didn’t want to stay in bed for weeks and be catered to every day! I just wanted to go home. I wanted this wretched war to end.  I wanted Jack.
Jack knew that my trip was going to take a long time, but he didn’t know why. I couldn’t mention the underground railroad in any telegrams, so I had a lot of explaining to do when Jack got back home in Indiana.
Doc Linden did, however, send this to him:
Western Union
Wife was injured –(stop)- she is fine –(stop)- expected home in few weeks –(stop)- Doctor Amos Linden, Basketville, Indina –(stop)-
I knew Jack, and that simple “she is fine” would not do. If he wasn’t an officer for the Union Army he would have been on a train to Basketville, Indiana as soon as he received the telegram.
            When I was able to travel, Dessa and I made plans to go home to Bloomington by rail. We were in Indiana now, and I felt more comfortable traveling in the open. Joe and Estie were heading to Illinois, so we had to say goodbye. It was hard, for we had all grown very close.
            “God bless you both,” I said. We exchanged hugs and kisses and went on our ways.

            I jumped out of the carriage, my eyes filling up with tears. The door burst open and my mother came running out.
            “Charlotte! You’re home!” she cried. She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed tight.
            “Oh, mother… How I’ve missed you!” I said. For a few minutes she wouldn’t let go. “I want you to meet someone very special,” I said at last, turning to the carriage, where a little girl sat.
            “Mother, this is Dessa,” I said, helping her down.
            I think my mother was a bit surprised when she saw Hadessah. She had no idea that Dessa was half negro.
            “Hello, darling,” she said, giving Dessa a warm hug.
            It felt so good to walk in the front door of my house again. It wasn’t a large house. But it was cozy, just the way Jack and I liked it.
            We walked through the hall and into the living room, where Jack and I had spent many evenings sitting by the warm fire or eating our supper at the table on the far end of the room.
            The three of us sat down on the couch, as I giggled like a schoolgirl at seeing my mother again.
            “How have you been?” I asked.
            “Oh, just fine. How have you and Dessa-that’s right, isn’t it? How have you both been?” she asked, her dimples standing out on her pale cheeks.
            I looked at Dessa and smiled.
            “Oh, uh, just hunkey dorey!” No sense worrying my mother over things that had already passed.
            “Hunkey what? Now what on earth is that supposed to mean?” she asked, as Dessa and I laughed.
            “Never mind,” I smiled. “Let’s go get something to eat. I’m starved!”
            “Charlie,” Dessa said quietly. It was a rainy afternoon, a few days after we had arrived. We were on my bed, and I was writing letters to friends and family.
            “Hm?” I asked, not looking up.
            “What’s going to happen to me?” came the blunt question. I looked up and into her brown eyes.
            “What do you mean?”
            “Where am I going to live?” she asked.
            “Well… um… Your daddy said he-well-wanted you to have a nice family,” I stuttered. “Don’t worry. We’ll figure that all out later,” I said.
            Suddenly the front door slammed shut and someone came hurrying up the stairs.
           To be continued!
           Kathryn (aka Chatty Kathy

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dessa, Part 7

            A few days later, we reached the Tennessee and Kentucky border. Micah left us here, and another conductor took over; a white woman, named Elaina. We were staying in the basement of her own house.           
            In Kentucky, there were many open fields that were dangerous to cross, even at night. But Elaina was prepared.
            “We will travel through the country with my wagon. I can take you as far as Ashton. There you will meet another conductor,” she said. “There is a secret compartment in my wagon where Joseph and Esther may hide. Hadessah will have to sit up top with you and I,” she told me.
            “What if we get stopped?” I asked.
            “Say that she is your slave, and hopefully no one will recognize her. I have some clothes for her to wear that will cover her more, like this bonnet here,” she said, handing it to Dessa.
            That afternoon we started for Ashton. Joe and Estie were hidden in the wagon’s compartment, which was then covered in bales of hay. Dessa rode in the back, while Elaina and I sat up front.
            We had been riding for about 20 minutes or so when I felt the older woman tense up.
            “What is it?”
            “A group of Confederate soldiers up ahead. Keep calm,” she warned. We pulled up slowly to the handful of grey-uniformed men on horses.
            “Halt! What are you carrying?” the leader asked.
            “Hay,” Elaina said, roughly.
            The man motioned for his men to check the hay.
            “Who’s that?” he asked, pointing to Dessa.
            “My slave,” I replied, with as confident a voice as I could muster.
            “Stand up, girl.” He ordered. Dessa hopped out of the wagon. The captain began whispering with the officer next to him.
            “State your name.”
            I held my breath. I knew the officers had seen wanted posters and were wondering if that was Hadessah.
            “Grace,” she replied, calmly. I closed my eyes and tried very hard not to smile. Smart girl.
            The captain stared at her for a minute. His eyes searched her up and down.
            “Alright, you can go,” he finally said, after his men found nothing in the wagon. Elaina whipped the reins and we jolted to a start once again. I could feel them staring at us as we drove away.
            “That was rather close,” I said, when we were well away from the soldiers. “It’s a good thing you didn’t tell them your real name, Dessa.”
            “Frankly, I’m surprised they accepted that,” Elaina remarked.
            The days and weeks passed by. We tried to take comfort in that fact that every mile, every step even, was bringing us closer to our end goals. Freedom, for Joe and Estie. A new life, for Dessa. And home, for me.
            It was a dark night in April. We were near the Ohio River, and had plans to cross it that night. We were traveling with our white conductor named Daniel, a family man in his 30s.
            I wasn’t sure how it happened. I’m still not even sure how it happened. But it did, and that’s all that matters. We got separated.
            I believe it was around 2 or 3 in the morning, and very dark. I called out for Daniel and Joe and Estie, but they were gone. I tried to keep Dessa calm, even though I was terrified, myself. Knowing that wondering around would get us more lost, I decided it would be best to find a place to sleep and wait until it got light.
            We settled down by the trunk of a fallen tree, and tried to get some rest. I was getting used to sleeping in the dark woods, but the fear of not finding the others kept me awake.
            Morning came with the chirping of the birds and the squirrels chasing each other. Everything always seemed better when it was light out.
            “Come on, let’s see if we can find the others, eh?” I suggested.
            “Do you think they left without us? Charlie, what are we going to do? They’re probably long gone!” Dessa cried.
            “Hadessah! Do you really think-“
            “I’m just kidding,” Dessa grinned. “I know Uncle Joe and Aunt Estie wouldn’t leave us.”
            “Why you little-“ I teased, reaching over and tickling her.
            “Charlie, listen!” Dessa suddenly cried. I stopped. In the distance I could hear a roaring sound. The river!
            “Whippee!” I yelled, picking her up and swinging her around. “Come on, I’ll race yah!”
            So off we ran. As we got closer, we could begin to the see the blue water appear through the trees. At last we reached the bank and gazed in awe at the huge river. Excitement filled my heart as I stared at the other shore. Indiana. Home.
            “Well, well, what do we have here?”
            I flew around and gasped. A rough-looking man stood behind us, a pistol pointed in our direction.
            “A lady aiding a little slave girl, I assume? Now ain’t that sweet.”
            “Dessa get behind me.” I ordered. She slowly moved behind me, the man’s gun barrel following her the entire way.
            “Who are you?” I asked, my heart pounding. I already knew who he was. But I remembered the revolver in my bag, and I was trying to think how I could get to it.
            “Who do you think?” he asked. An evil smirk appeared on his face as he cocked the gun.
            “No, don’t shoot!” Dessa screamed, running forward.
            “DESSA!” I shrieked.
            It all happened so fast. I grabbed hold of Dessa. The loud crack of a gun sounded. Pain shot through my body and I fell to the dirt. Then suddenly, everything went black.
  To be continued!
Kathryn (aka Chatty Kathy)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dessa, Part 6

            “Joe, Sam, Estie!” I cried, arriving at our little camp in the woods, quite out of breath.
            “What is it?” our conductor, Micah, asked.
            “They’ve got wanted posters up in the grocers,” I puffed. “offering a cash reward for your return.”
            “We need to leave,” Micah said. “There are probably slave hunters on our trail this very second!”
            I could see the fear rising in Dessa’s eyes. She ran up in her usual way and flung her arms around my waist. She was trembling.
            “Don’t be scared, dear. Everything will be all right,” I comforted.
            “But what if they catch us? I don’t want to be punished by the mean man with the whip! Please don’t let them, please!” she cried.
            The group grew silent. Dessa’s words were a sharp and painful reminder of the consequences they would face if caught. Why did it have to be this way? Why? Why must a 10 year-old girl worry about being whipped? I struggled to hold back tears of frustration and anger. I was not going to let that happen to her.
            That night, we headed to another station.  We were stumbling through the thick forest, with no light to guide us. The moon was shining, but the trees blocked its beams.
            “Are you getting tired, sweetie?” Estie asked Dessa.
            “A little,” came the reply. “but I can keep going.”
            “That’s my girl,” I said, squeezing her hand. “It won’t be too long before we reach the next station. Right Micah?”
            “Right,” Micah said, pushing away the thick brush in front of him.
            “Shh! Did you hear that?” Joe hissed.
            We stopped dead in our tracks. My heart began to pound in fear as I heard the terrifying sound that Joe had heard.
            “The hounds!” Estie cried.
            “Run!” Micah yelled. Dessa looked at me with panic-stricken eyes.
            “Go, go, go!” I screamed, pushing her ahead of me.
            Our feet pounded against the soft earth. It was too dark to see, but I could hear Estie crying as she ran. The dogs’ barks grew louder and louder. The noise was joined with the sound of horse hooves and men shouting. Suddenly I heard the crack of a gun.
            “Get down!” I cried, almost tackling Dessa to the ground. We lay in the cool soil, hidden behind a wall of bushes. I fought the urge to gasp for breath, for the men were right beside us.
            “That’s what you get for trying to run away!” one of them said, roughly. What were they talking about? I let go of Dessa and peered through an opening in the bush. I strained to see in the darkness. Two slave hunters were off their horses standing over a-no, it couldn’t be-a dead body.
            “Claybourne wants any bodies taken back to the plantation. He said it’ll put away any thoughts of escape from the other slaves,” another said.
            “This one wasn’t traveling alone. I saw some more,” the first one said, slowly. “They’re around here somewhere, I know it.”
            I held my breath as I could hear the crunching of the leaves underneath the slave hunter’s boots. Dessa gripped me a little tighter.
            “Come on, they’re gone.”
            I didn’t relax until the sound of the horse hooves disappeared. We slowly emerged from behind the bush and saw Joe, Estie and Micah coming out of hiding, too.
            “The poor boy!” Estie wailed. “So young…”
            My mind still couldn’t wrap around what had just happened. Sam was dead. And Dessa, poor Dessa. What little girl should have to see a man shot and killed?
            Still in shock, we pushed on with one less member. I don’t think any of us would forget what we had just seen. 
 To be continued! 
Kathryn (aka Chatty Kathy)

Friday, January 10, 2014

a new year, a new look.

January 10: The day I started my "Blogger" blogging journey.

I cannot believe it's been two years! I realize I haven't posted much this past year, but I'm hoping that will change.

I have met so many wonderful people in the past two years. So many friends. And I was even able to meet one of them in "real" life!

In honor of my "blogaversary" I have a new design up! I hope you like it.

Thank you all for following, reading and commenting. Look out for more posts coming soon! 

Kathryn (aka Chatty Kathy)

P.S. Check out my updated "About Me" and "My Wonderful Family" pages!

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