Sam hit the road edge first, her fall a combination of sliding, skidding, and finally a slight roll into the ditch, stopping on her right side underwater.  Heart racing, water in her nose and mouth.  Panic! She thrashed about, realizing that her right shoulder and hip were on soft ground and banging her left hand on ground in front of her. Pushing her right elbow against the ground she raised up above the water and could breath.
‘Hearts working.  God, please not a heart attack out here, Calm down. I can breath. I am ok.’
Thoughts raced through her mind. She couldn’t see until she thought to open her eyes.
“What an idiot I am.’
Water beneath her to the right, just below her chin; a mixture of dirt, grass remains and leaves in front of her; above to her left sky, and raindrops. Pushing up further, she fell on her back against the road side of the ditch. Panic for a moment, until she realized this kept her face out of the water, just barely.
‘Ok, assess. What works?  Wiggling her fingers and moving her hands, arms, then toes, feet, ankles, lifting her knees.  Tops of her thighs jiggled. Need to go to the gym more. She squeezed her butt cheeks. So far brain thinks everything works.  My back.  sore, hurts in places.  I don’t feel like my body is awkwardly out of line. Does someone know that when hey have broken their back?”
Sam’s mind went racing.  Back to the day after her Dad had passed away, going through his things. The envelope yellowed with age she found under his socks.  The one that had lead her here.  The return address was the imprint of the funeral home she now worked at.  She was curious, and Daddy was dead, still there had been that feeling of doing something naughty.  Invading Papaw’s privacy.
Inside was a letter to Dad, hand written and a funeral card (program thing).  Opening the card to the left was a picture of a woman.  Leighann X (Same last  name as Sam and Dad) X  birth date and year, death date and year.  The right hand side was what appeared to be like the eulogy she had helped her dad prepare for Mom, and then on her own about her Dad.  Who would make out her card?
(Card writing?  Do I want to put it here?  What does it say for own benefit think about this)
(The letter, what does it say? Do I want to insert it here? Or later?)
That address brought her here, to this moment.
The shout brought Sam out of her memory.  The call came again, from behind and above her.
“SAM! Are you ok?!”
“TJ! I think I am fine. Where are you?”
“In a damn thicket. OW! Did you break anything?”
“I don’t think so, you?”
“No, I am just full of thorns, the bush broke my fall, but I am being poked to death”
Sam could hear TJ rustle with the brush, The rain wasn’t coming down as hard, and felt more like a heavy mist now.  Sam brought her knees up and rolled toward her stomach, bracing with her left arm on the opposite side of the ditch, getting up awkwardly on her hands and knees in the ditch. The water no deeper than a standard tub of bath water.




What was I thinking?

Prepping for Hoops for Life.  A hilly 5K that will kick my backside (ass).  It is nearly five weeks away. I am barely ready to run a 5k.  A flat, no incline 5K in an hour with people. 

I mapped out a course of hills to walk. Started that last week. So, I took the plunge to do an interval on it.  No easy week one or two was on my pod, but week three was. (It helps to make these kind of decisions before setting out.)

What the heck.

So. I hit the play button and picked up my walking pace.  Down one hill, turn around and up.  Check time nearly fifteen minutes.  Not bad. Down another, turn around, and up.

It was hot. Forgit about it.

Heading down another hill to home. The tracking device blurts out 1.3 miles at 25:?? minutes.  Happy numbers!

Even better, when I got home and turned all my data off, it ended up being a mile and a half in 30:17. Hills! Hills.  I looked to see, it was a total elevation gain of 96 feet.  Maybe I will survive next month.


First off, after writing the above, instead of sneaking off for a shower and a soak, which was the plan – I got on the swimsuit and went to the gym to swim.  Instead of my normal 1/3 of a mile, it was cut back to 1/5th (afternoon appointment).

By 5P I was dragging.  What was I thinking?  Um,  triathlon?  I only missed out on doing the cycling.

This morning, I felt the depletion of energy. Granted my muscles were a tad bit annoyed with the push of yesterday, but the energy was the kicker.

Last week I had briefly done some searching on Tri/s.  I was relieved to find out there are a variety.  Yesterday, minus the cycling I almost did a half a sprint. Well, at least the distance of half a sprint on the swim and run.

What was I thinking?


Oh, my discovering my competitive side.  News to me.  Ok, those in the peanut gallery, hush up the giggles. I wasn’t nor do I consider myself to be athletic.  Certainly nothing on this side of coordinated either.

What benefit has this exploration of fitness, round something like six, done for me.  The amount of clarity in some of my personal writing and most assuredly time to work out in my mind the images for the children’s picture book.

And, the toying of an idea of picture book on grief.  Like a mustard seed letting this idea get some roots before I push forward on it. Struggling to get in shape is helping me put into perspective honing my craft of writing.

In the grand scheme of things, it is ALL bigger than me.




Alma found Harlan in the waiting room.  He was reading the Bible and didn’t notice at first when she sat down next to him.  She waited quietly.
“Well, Momma, let’s go check in our room. I am tired,  they let me have Danny’s things.”
Harlan began gathering the belongings around him, a clear plastic bag of Danny’s personal effects, his own blue duffle bag and jacket.  He looked tired, worn.  This time it was taking a toll on him.
Alma took the duffle bag, and Harlan’s arm letting him lean on her without giving the appearance of needing her assistance.  She had always admired his pride, until now.  It was adding to her burdens.
The hospital called shortly after supper. Harlan was asleep after his watered down broth.  Alma spoke to the charge nurse and made plans to return to the hospital to sit with Danny until he woke. She left crackers and water by the bed.  While getting the ice bucket filled she purchase a few treats she thought Harlan’s stomach might tolerate, checked at the desk for local restaurants that delivered, and left him a note with phone number and room, including the nurse’s name she spoke with and menus.  Pausing in the car before heading to be there for someone else. She said a prayer of patience, resilience and strength.  Off-handedly she threw a ‘Why me’ at the end before she could stop herself.
At the hospital Alma met the nurse face to face. A sharp young woman who walked her to Danny’s room.  Explanations that he would be pale, with several IV’s going.  They would be checking in on him regularly, if she had any questions to please ask.
Danny was pale.  Alma knew the look. Harlan didn’t have the same reaction, but over time the treatments had worn him down to this.  Danny probably could associate more with Alma up until today, Leighann had passed away after some long illness, though she couldn’t remember what. She tried to remember how long after Daniel was born before Leighann had passed.
A cell phone rang in the room, drawing Alma out of her memories. She looked for the phone, checking to see if the sound woke Danny after every ring.  Alma found it in the drawer of the bedside table.  The number  and  caller’s name light up ‘Theo’.
Stunned, Alma couldn’t decided what to do. She had not thought of Theo in so long. She panicked when it rang again, grabbing the phone and answering.
“Hello, Theo?”
A pause, no response. Alma repeated herself. Finally, Theo responded.
“Allie?  What are you doing answering my brother’s phone, is he all right?”


after Harlan’s body was  picked up.
The boys took Alma home. Both wanting her to come home with them.  She refused.  She wanted to be home.  Alone.  They both offered to stay with her. She had to lie and tell them their Aunt Betty was coming to stay with her.  She will have to call Betty and make sure she knows to cover for her.
It was nearly half an hour before Alma could get the boys to leave.  She was holding tight her mouth, so close to loosing her composure. The boys wanting to wait for Betty.  Fifteen minutes after arriving home, she called Betty from her bedroom, on the pretense to see what was keeping her.
“Betty, this is Alma, . . . he’s gone.”
Stopping short, Alma held her breath until the urge to cry passed.   Betty was silent, having been woken up from sleep. It was a call she had expected. They had talked about the call, and what Alma would do after Harlan died.  Betty waited to take her cue from Alma, but nothing came.
“Alma, what do you want me to do?”
“Can you come over in the morning, before the boys get here. I told them you were coming over to stay with me.”
“Fine, I take it they are still there, let me talk to them, and you know if you want me,  I will be there in five minutes.”
“Thank you, and I do.  I just . . . I need to be alone.”
“That’s is fine. I understand.  I will be there by coffee time.”
“Thank you.”
Alma went to the living room, the boys talking in whispers, she handed the phone to the eldest.
“Miss Betty?  . . .   Yes, ok, well, we can wait til you get here.”
A long pause.
“Oh, ok.  Well, yes, I can see that . . .   Ok. If you are sure . . .  Yes, call us if you need us. . . . Ok, ‘bye Miss Betty.”
“Well, Mom, we’ll go, she is on her way.  I didn’t know she had a cell phone, she said she stopped to get some something to eat, but we’ll get out of here.”
On the way out to their cars, the younger boy asked the other.
“What was that all about?”
“Miss Betty said she was in her pjs and had to run back and get a bottle of bourbon.  She said Mom might need a shot of something to settle her nerves, and for us to get out and let her be. That Mom was a woman first, Daddy’s wife second and our Momma third.  We are grown men with wives to tend to our grieving.  Mom needs to not have to be our mom right now.  We could either wait for her to arrive and kick us out, or we could get gone so she didn’t have to upset Mom any more than she already was.”
“Damn.  She’s a pistol.”
“you know she’s probably right. Mom’s been strong for everybody.”
“But she has us.  We can be strong for her.”
“True, but Miss Betty said something else.”
“What was that.”
“We may grow up to be men, but our mom will always be that.  Our mom.”

What I Did

About eleven years back I started running. It was my fortieth birthday present to myself.  I was determined to get into some healthy and athletic shape.  This from a girl who walked around with leg braces (Thanks Osgood Schlatter’s Disease) in high school .  I did some research and found that it was associated with growth and not forever. I get the ok from my doctor at my pre birthday exam to start working out.

Commenced Higdon’s program to get going. No, of course I didn’t follow it to the letter.

I did my first 5 K at Great Lakes Naval Station. There was this fellow at the end of the race that really knocked my ego. It put all the encouragement my family and neighbors gave me out of my mind and heart; it crushed me.  He was antsy to get his award, as he had somewhere to be and they were going to wait for the last runner.

I wasn’t the last.  I didn’t place. I came in under forty-five minutes. The last runner was overweight.  Took him over an hour. The majority of the runners stayed at the finish line and yelled the guy in. Some even wentqwaszxcz out to help pace and encourage him in the last few hundred feet.  Not, unlike what my neighbors and husband did for me.  They came out to meet me and run me in. I made them get back on the other side. I wanted to cross by myself.  It was an ego thing.

I let that one guy ruin it for me.  One guy. Stupid me.

I continued to run, but by myself, maybe with my husband, or a family member.  Alone. No events no racing.  I have dropped off running twice now since then.  It has taken some time to realize that I have a love hate thing going on with running and exercise in general.  Love swimming.  Bicycling.  Running.  (Yes, I know there are triathlons out there.  I am toying with training for one. An easy one.  A slow mover friendly one. Will see.)


Cut to this year.  Back in the shoes again.  First race was in April.  I didn’t start training for it until March.  I finished. Dead last. One hour thirteen minutes and fifty-nine seconds. My husband who walked the whole thing with me, (I walked it didn’t run), placed second in his age.  The man can run circles around me.  He found it funny. I was relieved.  I mean, he stayed with me the whole race, of course the guy deserved a medal!  It was awesome. I hyperventilated the whole way.  Couldn’t run much.

I can’t run in a pack. I hate crowds. Stage fright way bad. That first race, stuck with me, standing at the finish line listening to the one loud jerk.

So I signed up for an endurance run.  Ten hours. Half mile horse track. With over two hundred other people.  Thinking?  If I put myself in the situation that I fear the most for the longest possible time available, I have to get over that fear, right?

So much for self diagnosis and treatment.  I nearly quit after seven miles, about halfway through the race.  So, I took a nap.  I wasn’t leaving the site until the end. I woke up to my friends, Melissa, Tammi,  Kristy and Maurica chatting outside my tent.

They didn’t push or prod. They ran their races. Worked towards their goals.  Talked about their issues and how they planned on dealing with the pain, the blisters, the pacing problems.  They made suggestions.  They shared their gear, food, water supply, chairs, etc.  They didn’t quit. They didn’t let each other quit.

I didn’t quit.  It took a while and one of my buddies, Kristy,  stayed back with me for a while. She had met her goal.  We talked.  She helped me gear back up and get back out there for one more lap. One more half mile.

I made it. There was till nearly two hours left in the race.  A quick calculation walking from the timer chute to the track exit. Eleven more laps would meet my goal, that’s all I had to do.  Averaging 10 minutes a lap, yes, that meant 20 minute miles  Most anyone could do five and half miles in two hours.  I had a good friend walk six miles with me in two hours two weeks ago.  It was possible I could still end the race with goal in hand.

So, I walked.  One lap at a time.  One half mile closer at a time.

Then. Again. That one guy.

Only this guy, he was the big winner. Being walked in the last lap by family, three abroad. In front of me.  My last curve before the finish line.  How bad I wanted to run it. I had to get around that one guy.  The fast guy. The guy that had gone farther.  The Man.

I debated the whole last straightway.  Do I say something? I didn’t know if I had the energy burst to go out and up the track to get around.  I mean, I hadn’t trained to run a half marathon.  I had been barely trained for a 5K.  We were in the single digit minutes counting down to hour ten, I couldn’t see the time until after I was out of the curve. Was I willing to be the jerk or just let it go?

I was the jerk.

I said, “Excuse me!”


“I need to get around.  I know this is your race and I am not in your league, but I want to finish and make my goal. So sorry.”

I almost stopped running when I heard his reply.

“Go on. This isn’t my race.  My race is over.  This is your race. Finish it!”

I could have cried, except I had to finish the race.

I made my goal.  In ten hours. With a nap.

I ran with a pack of people.  Sure, there are going to be jerks. They are everywhere in everything, as my friend pointed out after the race.  BUT, for every one of those, there is at least one, if not ten, that aren’t.

#23 Flashback

Daniel sat back in the rear seat of the car.  Should he buckle or not, as he instinctively reached for the seat belt..  He looked to the others and they weren’t buckled.  That was not good. He let the belt go and retract.
The drive was a long one. He hadn’t thought about it at the time that he made the call.  He wished he had.  A six hour drive one way.  These guys weren’t talking to him or each other.
The only stops made along the way were to switch out drivers, never at a rest stop and if they went to the bathroom it was to take a leak off the interstate among the trees, Daniel guessed.  At first he looked at the men, trying to determine if he recognized anyone.
They all had suits.  They all had similar dark glasses, and they all had the same military style short cropped hair. If he didn’t know better, he would think they were Feds.  The thought did continue to cross his mind occasionally on both the drive to and from, maybe they were.
By the time they arrived for his meeting, Daniel was in need of both a bathroom, a drink and food.  None was offered, and Daniel didn’t have the guts to ask.  He just followed directions.
He sat and waited for what seemed like an eternity.  If he had thought to check the time, it was only fifteen minutes.  His sweat factor had over the last six hours increased, subsided and now increased again.  He was more than damp.  He was uncomfortable.  It showed.
His wait was observed through a two way mirror.  The elder man, to be a rival of his father, sat and watched.  The nervous man could wait, he was going to wait on a return call before proceeding with this meeting.

What The?

j.kolb.com Blog Playlist

Jamie O’Neal Frantic which was on the Shiver album released 2000 through Mercury Nashville Records.


Dear Diary,

I am tired.  T. I. R. E. D. Tired.

The merry month of May was busy. So much so that this post was written in May, trying to get ahead of the curve, and can start June off doing real work.  You know -writing, editing and illustrating.

May was unexpected and only half planned. June is feeling a little packed with priorities.  Maybe when the scheduled date of this entry’s posting will find me not as far behind as I am expecting.

A few days ago, I was training for an endurance event with a friend.  We spent 2 hours walking 6 miles.  We talked about all the stuff that composed this last month’s rush of activities and our goals.

Our discussion covered ‘becoming a writer’. We talked about how one of us used to be a runner, and the other is.  I am not ready to call myself one yet, but I have been on that other side.  The line between wannabe and being.

I asked if she considered herself a runner. Now she does, but when she first started, she didn’t.  Five years ago I consider myself a runner, now I don’t. Yet.  I know I am on the path and I know that I don’t see where I will cross that line again. But it is there. Having done it once, I have confidence I will again.

Sometime during May, I crossed that line with my writing. Somewhere importance of actually doing the writing outweighed my fears of how that writing would be received.  Some of the last 3 years felt at the time like it was wasted.  That impression is coming into perspective that wasn’t there at the beginning of this year.  Now it all seems more like training.  Plateaus of training that got me from wanting to be a writer, to being a writer.

Anything that starts with a novice level of knowledge and ability – a trying it on for size beginning, has another stage. So does writing. Somewhere you cross the line from novice to intermediate and you stop being new to it.  You start being.

NOT that you have become masterful or expert. That is some way off plateau I am working towards. Hopeful, but not cocky about it.  Optimistic.



The first visit to the hospital next state over for treatment, went uneventful for Harlan.  In fact the first three months were the same as the first.  The fourth month was the kicker.
He had decided in the heat of the summer diagnosis despite the better odds they gave him of not losing his hair to start shaving his head.  It turned out to be a good idea, as he did begin losing hair.  It was less noticeable. At first people though he had lost weight, the change in his features were attributed to his changing his hair and his new ‘workout’.
That fourth month was not only the beginning of difficulties of hiding his condition, but also the start of an entirely different relationship of one of the most feared men around.  Danny.
Not that it mattered that the two were of the same age, and nearly the same background.  They had in their youth gone down far different paths. Harlan would not have disclosed how close he came to running in Danny’s circles.  Danny knew.
Now their secrets would be held within the two.  Danny’s first appearances at the treatment center was as hushed as Harlan’s.  Were it not for Danny’s immediate reaction to the medicine, and the emergency team showing up to stabilize his condition, and rush him to the nearest emergency at the same time that Alma had returned from a trip to the ladies room, neither would know the other was there.
For Danny, no one but his doctor knew he was there. He had driven himself.  Alone.  Not a smart move, Harlan would remind him.
Alma was at first stunned. When the nurse called out to find if anyone was with Danny, no one answered, another nurse said she thought he was alone.  That was all it took to move Alma into motion.  She grabbed the first nurse and informed her she had brought both men, her husband and Danny to for treatment.  They grew up together.  It wasn’t a lie, she reminded herself.
She asked if she could get word to her husband, and she would follow to see about Danny. They nurse said she would get her directions and call ahead to the ER to let them know she was arriving.
The minute her head came around the curtain, Harlan knew.  He had heard the conversation. He wanted to let Alma know he was in on the plan.
“Danny’s not doing well, did you hear?”
“I heard, go see about him Alma,  I will call when they are done with me. We will go from there.  I think I may call and get us a room nearby so we can wait and see what happens.  They may release him in a day or so. What do you think?”
Alma’s eyes widened.  Neither she nor Harlan had heard any rumors of Danny’s ill health.  For a fact no one knew about Harlan’s.  The thought occurred to her a moment later than it did Harlan, that the two men of different powers, were both between a rock and a hard place.  Likely Danny was treating himself without letting on to anyone.  Only Danny’s Leighann was long gone.
‘I should have kept my mouth shut. So much for being a preachers wife for nearly sixty years. By now, I should know better.’

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