Welcome to Pat's Notes from The Shore

A Christmas Wish

I don’t believe in the retailers idea of a holiday season.  In my family we have always celebrated the Twelve Days of Christmas and since the holidays are winding down, I offer you this Christmas Wish.

A Christmas Wish

May the angel of happiness circle

and hover above you tonight

And there on your rooftop discover

a permanent place to a light


May she save all the best of wishes

for Christmas time joy and for cheer

And plant them a fresh on your doorstep

each day of the forthcoming year


May she keep you from harm

as her white angel wings

spread the peace and contentment

that happiness brings


May the light of her love glow about you

and guide you wherever you are

like the light that began in a manger

with the glow from the first Christmas star


Happy New Year!


You know how husbands are when you touch their newspaper, therefore, I very rarely read the Star-Ledger. But everyone once in a while, I get this sudden urge or intuition to read the paper anyway. When this happens, I always find something important and relative to my life. This New Year’s Eve, my Irish intuition led me to the horoscope page. If you’re a Virgo, listen up.

Rewrite a book; question existing methods. A friend comes through for you when you need it. Clear away excessive material items to create mental space. Your passion triggers others’ apathy.

Now every New Year’s Eve, as a child and young adult, I have watched my Mom clean, food shop, cook, make sure all the laundry was done and the bills were paid. It seemed a true superstitious Irishman, or Irishwoman in this case, believed that if all these things were done on the first day of the year, they would be done all year long.

After marrying and acquiring my own home, I followed the tradition myself for thirty-four years.

But not this year. This year, the dirty laundry sat in hamper, the fridge is practically bare, I still have to pay my dues to writers’ organizations (Hubby paid the other bills), and the dust is still on the furniture. Heck, the kitchen floor is a mess from all the wet feet tracking in from shoveling snow.

So what did I do on New Year’s Eve? I wrote! I completed a first draft on a non-fiction story, this article, a short story, and a long letter to a friend far away.

Yes, my bills in the past have always been paid, I’ve never wanted for food, I always had something clean to wear and the house was clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy.

I guess there must be some truth to this Irish tradition stuff so I should always have something to write about this year, as well as lots of time to write.

Now all I need are a few superstitious, Irish editors who need something to publish all year.

Pat Marinelli’s short stories can be found in the Crime Scene: New Jersey and Snowbird Christmas anthologies.

A Writer’s Dilemma

Sometimes I struggle with a story. I love it when story practically writes itself…that rarely happens. Usually I just plug away writing draft after draft until the story gels.

I have the first draft of a story to submit for an anthology call-out. The characters are wonderful, the premise is great, the setting is perfect, but the plot does not flow. Needless to say this is driving me crazy as the deadline is May 15th. The more I thought about the problem, the more that answer eluded me. I knew I had to let it go, reluctantly I did. Or so I thought.

While in the shower… What you thought ideas comes to you when you’re near a computer or have a pan and pen in hand? Not! While in the shower the answer magically appeared. I had started the story in the wrong place—again. You’d think I’d learn. I also started with the wrong character. That was a first for me.

So now I’m running from the shower to make notes for my rewrite and to type of the blog I had no clue I was going to write today.

How about you? What do you do when a story doesn’t flow? Do you have a list of problem areas to start with or do you just wait? I really need to start on that list myself.

The New Medical Forms

I had a doctor’s visit yesterday morning. Honestly, arthritically painful and moody, I didn’t want to go, but I went anyway. Like you have a choice, right? After signing in, producing insurance info that hadn’t changed and getting a printout of my blood work, the receptions handed me a clipboard to update newly required government information.

Sitting in the exam room, I donned my reading glasses to study the form while waiting for the doctor. My first chuckle came after I wrote my birth date…under that was age. What people can do math these days?

The next question was primary language spoken. The intellectual me wrote ENGLISH. I could hear my English teacher-raised Mom saying, “Speak better. Stop using ain’t. Ain’t ain’t in the dictionary.” The writer in me wanted to enter AMERICAN SLANG. So I stifled my laugh.

Next box was race. I wrote WHITE, but upper-crust Mom would have put CAUCASIAN. Good thing they didn’t ask me in July, I’d want to put BRICK-INDIAN RED, ‘cause I fry and never tan.

Ethnicity stopped me cold. Ever totally blank out on a word? Now I’m out-right laughing at myself as the doctor opened the door. “Problem?” he asked.

“Just laughing at your medical form,” I told him.

“Well, that’s not a comment we usually get here on our forms.” He walked in and closed the door.

I swallowed my stupidity and asked, “What is ethnicity? I know should know that, but I’m clueless.”

“Where your family came from,” he replied. “You know Italy or—“

“Got it. Can I put MUTT? My answer won’t fit in this box.”

“Just put American,” he said, as I wrote it in. “People do put mutt.”

I added MUTT.

Leaving the office in less pain and in a better frame of mind, I arrived home and related my silliness to Hubby. The perfect answer to ethnicity popped into my head. “Oh, Honey, I should have put DESCENDED FROM AN IRISH WITCH.”

Hubby gave me that oh-here-we-go-again look. You see, married to a writer, he’s more comfortable plotting a mystery or planning a murder, than discussing ghosts or witches. But then he only has to list Italian in that tiny box—not English, Irish, and German.

NOTE TO SELF: Ask younger sister, who is studying the family tree, was Great Aunt Sally an Irish Witch or an English one. Need to know that for your next medical form.

Okay, I have a question for you. Is this blog entry as funny for you to read as it was to me write? Hubby says…not so much.

The Cat and the Giant

Smoki Sitting on Tower

A few summers ago a feral cat brought a tiny black kitten into our yard. She didn’t even look old enough to leave the litter so we assumed something happened to the Mom and other kittens. I called her Smoki and I’d sit out each night after feeding both cats and play with Smoki, who loved the red dot of the laser light much to the dismay of the older cat.

After a couple of weeks of this, the older cat would get annoyed at Smoki’s attention to me and leave. Twice two toddler raccoons appeared after dusk. The first time Smoki ran off while we were playing, I spotted the toddlers and raced in the house. The second time it happened, Smoki, who was up on the porch with me and I didn’t see them due to huge new trash cans that had been dropped off. Smoki refused to finish her dinner and kept pacing in and out of my large herb pots garden. Suddenly she started to hiss, that’s when I saw the raccoon’s nose around the trash can. Knowing there were two raccoons, I made a dash for the back door. Once the second raccoon appeared Smoki vanished across the yard while the two toddlers fought for her leftovers. It was after this that I sent time luring the kitten into the house.

So why am I telling you this? This weekend my youngest son and his wife came over to help Hubby set up the garden for planting. Now you have to picture this. My baby is six feet tall and weighs at least 275. I was in the kitchen when he excused himself to use the facilities and disappeared down the hall. Next thing I know he comes back telling me my adorable cat is ferocious.

“What do you mean?” I asked innocently, knowing he much have gone into my bedroom to see Smoki.

“That ferocious cat was on the bed,” he said.

“And you tried to pet her?”

“Heck, no. I just looked in the door and she hissed at me.”

“Well, you invaded her territory. What did you expect?”

“Yeah, but she stood and hissed again, louder.”

“You didn’t go in the room, did you?” I asked.

“No way. She jumped off the bed, came toward me, and snarled even more.”


“What do you mean add? I took off. That is one ferocious cat, you got there, Mom,” he said grinning.

Now, I ask you. Does cute, little Smoki look like a ferocious cat that can stand up to a giant invading her territory? You betcha!

A Crockpot is a writer’s best friend, at least its mine.  It saves my sanity every November during National Novel Writing Month. 

I’m fortunate to have a husband who will cook when needed and, truth be told, he’s getting better at it, but pasta, hot dogs and hamburgers are pretty much his limit.  I freeze meatballs ahead of time and he can make a simple lettuce salad.  However, after a while I just need a hearty meal like the one below:

My NaNoWriMo Beef Vegetable Soup Southern Style

1 lb of beef round cubes diced in to tiny pieces

4 T four

½ tsp salt

¼ pepper

3 T of olive oil

2 T tomato paste

2 T Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Gravy Master

1 tsp Morton’s Nature Seasoning

2 carrots diced in to ¼ inch pieces

2 stalks of celery diced into ¼ inch pieces

1 medium onion diced

4 medium potatoes diced and set aside in cold water

3 cloves of garlic chopped

3 T fresh parsley chopped

2 12 oz cans or 1 box of beef stock

2 8 oz cans of tomato soup (I use Campbells)

2 cups frozen okra

2 cups frozen peas

It’s best if you toss the top four ingredients in the olive oil heated in a hot frying pan first.  Brown the meat and flour and salt and pepper.  Except for the last two, toss the meat and the rest of the ingredients in a slow cooker.  Cover and let cook while you work on your NaNoWriMo entry, about four or five or even six or seven hours, until done.  Add the last two ingredients about ten minutes before you are ready to serve.  A loaf of crusty bread makes for a gourmet meal.  Store leftover soup in fridge or freezer for two more days of NaNoWriMo meals later.

Edited by Pat Marinelli

Pat Marinelli has three stories in Crime Scene: New Jersey 3 anthology:

The double award-winning story, “The Dancer.

 The award-winning story, “Administrative Leave.”

“Homicide: Great Falls Park.”