Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – #Romance, #Humour – Chapter Eleven – Christmas in the Funeral Home by Sally Cronin


This was the first novel that I wrote back in 2001 when I first moved to Spain to live. I had written short stories before and non-fiction health books, but felt the need to bring a little romance and humour into my writing.. the result was the semi-autobiographical Just an Odd Job Girl.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

Last time  Imogen had to contend with cat burglars and a work to rule in and insurance company.

Chapter Eleven – Christmas in the Funeral Home

I found myself at the gate at the back of my garden. I had been walking for over two hours. Probably the longest walk I had completed for many years. I felt surprisingly refreshed and excited. Suddenly, life did not seem quite so bleak and as I walked through my garden, I visualised how it could look next spring, if I paid some serious attention to it now.

I had spent the last six months decorating the house and making curtains, and I have to say it was looking lovely. Perhaps it was time to ask some of my friends from my previous neighbourhood for lunch.

There were about half a dozen girlfriends who had taken the trouble to call me after Peter and I split up, and although I felt that some of them were after the dirt, I should maybe give them the benefit of the doubt. I now had something to look forward to, and of course, there was my meeting with Andrew on Friday. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him, but it was so long since I had ever considered another man, that the feelings I was experiencing felt slightly uncomfortable. Almost guilty. Stupid really! After all, I was not the one who had committed adultery for the last year of my marriage.

I did not really want to visit that old baggage again and I tried to regain my newly found anticipation instead. I went into the kitchen and opened the cupboard. Managing to ignore the packet of biscuits and the large bar of chocolate, I settled for the chicken and vegetables that I knew were in the refrigerator. If I was going to change some aspects in my life, I might as well have a good crack at my body while I was at it. I was only fifty years old and I could live for another thirty or even forty years. Did I really want to live it like this, alone and depressed with an ever decreasing wardrobe. Absolutely not! Time to show Peter that life did not end when our marriage did, and that I could rise from the ashes.

First, I would have to finish my journey into the past. Already some of the old Imogen, that had been buried under the weight of duty and responsibility, was beginning to surface. But I had to find all of her – even the less than desirable bits – if I was to go forward, strong in mind and spirit.

I put my chicken into the pre-heated oven and smiled to myself. Anymore of this and I would be sounding like one of those self-help books. One of my friends had been on a weekend seminar a couple of years back and had walked across burning coals without a single singe to the soles of her feet. She said that it was all about your state of mind, and that once you had accomplished this, nothing would ever seem impossible. Yes, well I think that I had dealt with enough hazards in the last year to qualify for that one.

I sat down on the sofa, with a glass of whisky and water, closed my eyes and took myself back in time.

* * *

Although our relationship was okay after the cat incident, things were not as good as they might have been. More often than not, we would both turn away from each other in bed at night and Peter was staying out later and later with the lads from the bank on a Friday night.

The last thing I needed, just before Christmas, was to work in an undertakers. But, as I have already stressed, it was that or socks for Peter and beans on toast for New Year.

So, there I was, outside Flanagan’s Funeral Directors, looking at their bright green door, which looked slightly out of place for an undertaker. I rang the bell and waited in the cold sleet that had started earlier in the day. After a couple of minutes, the door opened, and there stood a leprechaun. At least I think it must have been as it was the tiniest man that I think I have ever seen.

‘Hello, and what may I do for you my dear?’

His accent was hard to place; it seemed to be a mixture of Irish with a tinge of Welsh lilt. He smiled, showing little white teeth and a great deal of gum.

‘May we be of assistance in a bereavement?’ He opened the door wide, enabling me to see a dark and sombre hall inside.

‘No. I am Imogen, the temp you asked for until Christmas.’

I felt like slouching, as it seemed that I was a good two feet taller than my new acquaintance. If anything, he exposed even more gum and ushered me through the door.

He scurried in front of me, waving me forward with his tiny arm. I followed with a certain amount of trepidation, unsure if I was about to be faced with a line of corpses ready for embalming. Instead, he showed me into a bright waiting room.

There were chairs lined up against two of the walls, a large table in the middle of the room, with magazines on it, and a coffee machine in the corner. We crossed the room and through a door marked Private, and I found myself in a light and airy office with three desks: one with a typewriter and switchboard, obviously for receptionist duties. My guide held back the chair at this desk and indicated that I should sit down. We were now the same height and I found myself looking into his startlingly blue eyes. He winked at me, patted my shoulder and moved away, saying over his shoulder.

‘The boss will be with you in a minute dear, I have to go now as I am in the middle of Mrs. Jenkins.’

That was a little more information than I required, and I waited with macabre fascination for the appearance of the boss.

I sat there for five minutes with my imagination running riot. However vivid my fantasies might have been, it certainly did not prepare me for the vision that appeared at the door of the office. I caught my breath and stared in wonder. Before me stood a six-foot, blonde, good-looking, young man in a dark suit.

‘Hi.’ He said cheerily. ‘I am Dermot Flanagan, welcome to the business, I understand that you are going to be helping us out for a couple of weeks.’

I managed to close my mouth and resume a semi-professional air as I stared at the apparition before me.

‘Yes,’ I stuttered. ‘My name is Imogen and I am very pleased to meet you.’ That was a slight understatement as all thoughts of Peter had flown out the window and I blushed madly and visibly.

He smiled, showing a lot more teeth and a lot less gum than the leprechaun, and pulled up a chair beside me. He then proceeded to run through my duties. I listened with one ear while I sat mesmerised with infatuation. After about twenty minutes he stood up and left the room, on his way to the first funeral of the day. He also mentioned something about me being in charge, and not to mix up the mourners in the waiting room. As if I would – how could one possibly do that?

The work itself was pretty much routine. I found a Dictaphone and listened happily to Dermot’s voice in my ear, as it rattled off a number of letters for typing. He had a slight lilt, which was hardly an accent, yet sounded mysterious and romantic. I dreamily worked through the entire tape before returning to the first letter and beginning typing. I was determined that each letter would be perfect and I applied myself with a great deal more enthusiasm than I had exhibited when entering this establishment.

About an hour later, the doorbell rang and I went into the hall and answered the door. What appeared to be a mob crowded onto the doorstep. Headed by a portly, florid man in a check suit, the entire group filed into the hall.

‘Mr. Jenkins, love. Come to see me wife. Brought the family to say goodbye. Where is she then.’

Okay! Think fast about this one.

I knew that the leprechaun was in the middle of Mrs. Jenkins an hour ago but was unsure about his whereabouts at this exact moment. The waiting room seemed a good option and I ushered the tribe through with what I hoped was a dutifully sombre air.

I was now stuck. I was not sure where I might find Mrs. Jenkins. I cast about the room and saw a bell on the wall next to the door marked private. I rang it and hoped that I was not summoning myself. I poked my head around the door and was very relieved to see a man coming down the passage. He was dressed in a white coat and rubber boots and had carrot red hair standing up on top of his head. He grinned at me as he reached the door.

‘Hi I’m Paddy Flanagan, you must be the Imogen that Nobby has been so excited about.’

Nobby? Who was he?

Paddy could see my obvious confusion.

‘He’s my uncle. Little chap. Looks like a leprechaun.’

Oh that Nobby! I smiled with relief, now that help was at hand, and explained about Mr. Jenkins.

‘That’s grand love.’

Paddy turned to go back down the hall.

‘I’ll just get out of this gear and come back and take them down to the viewing room, you better come too, so that you can do this in the future.’

He looked over his shoulder with a slightly wicked grin.

‘Have you ever seen a dead person before then?’

I shook my head in disbelief, and went white.

‘You’ll get used to it.’

With that, he was gone into the bowels of the building, leaving me in a state of shock and horror.

A few minutes later, Paddy was back and entered the waiting room. He was smartly dressed in a black suit and his hair had been slicked down, giving him a very professional, and suitably subdued look.

He gently took the arm of Mr. Jenkins and with the entire family, and me trailing hesitantly at the back, we proceeded down the corridor to an open door.

The room was large and windowless. Dim lighting, and the sound of choral music increased the air of solemnity. I stood to one side with my eyes shut as the family filed past an open coffin.

Eventually, I had to look up and I caught a glimpse of the deceased Mrs. Jenkins face. I have never seen anything so serene; it was as though she was sleeping. There was nothing macabre or distressing about it, although there were a great many tears from Mr. Jenkins and his family. It was clear that they took a lot of comfort from this last goodbye. I was moved, and quite tearful myself, as we filed out of the room and back to the waiting room.

I heard Paddy telling the family about the arrangements and then ushered them all into the hall and out of the front door. As Mr. Jenkins went past me, he suddenly grabbed me in a huge hug.

‘Thank you so much for taking such good care of my Dolly, love, you’ve made her look so pretty.’

With that, he was gone, leaving me feeling humble and even more tearful.

I returned to my desk in the office and dried my eyes. These next few weeks were going to be emotionally challenging, that was certain. On one hand, I had to deal with grieving relatives and on the other the heart thumping attraction to the boss. I would be a wreck before Christmas.

* * *

Suddenly, I smelt roast chicken and realised how hungry I was. As I sat, with my dinner in front of me on the kitchen table and one glass of white wine, I realised how lonely this was. I had been so immersed in my misery for the last few months that I had not noticed the solitude. I had just wanted time to lick my wounds, and had shut everyone out except for the children. I could see now, that the only loser in this was myself. No! That wasn’t right.

Thinking back over the last twenty-four hours, and the recollections of twenty-five years ago, reminded me of what a huge amount I had done and seen in a very short space of time. I was very capable, adaptable and efficient. I had never been afraid of anything new – only apprehensive. It had never stopped me from trying. What had happened to me? Where did I go? Some alien planet where all self will was abandoned and subjected to the whims of some dominant ruler. No! I had done this to myself. The first time I decided to keep silent for the sake of a quiet life, I had handed over control.

Well, the time for recriminations was over. What is past is past and I can do nothing about it, but I can change the present and the future and that is exactly what I was going to do.

First a bath, a little more pleasant recollection, an early night and then tomorrow I was going out to buy some decent, bright clothes, that fitted. If I was clever, I could get outfits that would still fit when I lost the rest of my excess weight. Shopping had always lifted my mood, and a little retail therapy was exactly what was needed.

Satisfied with my decisions, I ran a hot, scented, bath and relaxed into it. Thinking about the lovely Dermot Flanagan felt deliciously sinful and I was quite embarrassed at the fact that I was lying naked in the bath while indulging in this particular fantasy. Unfortunately, fantasy was all it was.

* * *

I behaved like a star struck teenager for the first week of the job. I made every effort to be noticed. Make-up, new outfits, and efficiency in everything I was asked to do. By Friday I was in agony, the thought of not seeing him for an entire weekend filled me with despair. Forget Peter, who would probably not be home until the early hours of Saturday morning, or the fact that I was even living with someone else, I was besotted!

However, I had a rude awakening on the Friday evening. There was a tradition in the firm, where all the staff came into the office and each was given a shot of Irish Whisky along with their pay packets. The agency would post my cheque to me the following week, but I was handed a glass of the amber coloured liquor and told to get it down me. I was desperate to receive some acknowledgement that I would be required the following week, and waited to have a quiet word with Dermot. I plucked up my courage eventually and sidled up to him.

Before I could say a word, he put his empty glass down and moved towards the door.

‘Night everyone. Just off to pick Jenny up, I’m taking her to Paris as an early Christmas present’.

He looked in my direction.

‘Well done Imogen, you are doing a good job, see you next week.’

And with that, he was gone.

I stood, staring at the door, as it swung shut behind him. I felt an arm around my shoulders and turned to see Paddy smiling at me gently.
‘Jenny is his wife, they have been married two years and are expecting their first baby in six months’ time.’

It could not get any worse. He squeezed my shoulder and topped up my glass with whisky. I knocked it back, and not being accustomed to drinking spirits, either straight or in that quantity, was immediately legless. I barely remember Paddy giving me a lift home or falling into bed and crying myself to sleep. I did stir when Peter came home, smelling of beer at two in the morning, and cried some more, quietly into my pillow. I was so embarrassed. Paddy was obviously aware of my infatuation, so I had to assume that Dermot was too. How could I go back next week and face them all? The answer is money. I knew that the agency would not be able to find someone for the four days left before Christmas and would probably not employ me again if I let them down.

Thankfully, Dermot was on a long weekend and did not appear until my last day. By this time I was accustomed to showing families into the viewing room, and although not as affected as the first time, I still found it very moving. Paddy was a great help and I liked his open, cheery nature. While not as devastatingly good looking as his brother, he had a great deal of charm, which I am sure he used to great advantage with the girls.

On my final day, it snowed. It was Christmas Eve, and although I felt very uncertain about many things, including my relationship with Peter, I loved this time of year.

At five o’clock we all gathered in the office and a number of bottles of whisky were in evidence, along with the more traditional mince pies and sausage rolls. All six of the staff were there, and I felt relaxed and festive. Having learnt my lesson with the whisky on the last occasion, I had a sherry and then a soft drink. Carols were playing on the old radio in the corner and we were all laughing and joking with one another. The doorbell rang and I put down my sherry glass and went to the front door.

On the doorstep stood an elderly man. Stooped, and rail thin, he shivered in the cold evening air. I gestured for him to come inside into the warm hall and he slowly and painfully edged over the doorstep. A gnarled hand, blue with cold, closed over mine. I looked into a pair of faded rheumy eyes and saw the tears pouring down his face.

‘Could you bury my wife love? She just died, in the hospital, and they told me to come here. Is it too late? I don’t want to leave her there you see.’

I laid my hand over his cold one and led him gently into the waiting room. I really did not want to leave him alone, but assuring him that I would be right back, I left and went to get Paddy.

I pulled him away from the party, into the relative quiet of the hall, and explained the situation to him. He immediately stuck his head around the office door and it went quiet. He patted my arm and headed off to the waiting room and I heard murmured voices as he introduced himself. Dermot came out along with Nobby and the rest of the staff. They all headed off back into the preparation rooms at the rear of the building and Dermot picked up the keys to the hearse that were lying on the hall table.

A few minutes later he and the elderly gentlemen left to return to the hospital and Paddy drew me into the office.

‘We’ll deal with this Imogen, you get yourself home. But before you do, we wondered if you would like to work for us permanently in the New Year? You are one of the best receptionists we have ever had.’

I was stunned, and very flattered, and promised to think about it over Christmas. I think I knew in my heart that the answer would be negative. They were great people, doing a wonderful job. Look how they immediately switched from party mood to sympathetic and helpful. The problem was, it broke my heart every-time someone like the old man came to the door.

Helping was not sufficient, I am afraid I felt too much emotion to ever become detached enough. Combined with my general uncertainty about my future with Peter, it made me hesitant to accept any permanent position at the moment.

Paddy must have sensed my hesitancy, but smiled and led me down the hall. He had his hand behind his back and just before he opened the door he whipped it around and held it above my head.

He had an enormous bunch of mistletoe. Putting his hand around my shoulders he pulled me into him and gave me a five-minute introduction to the art of Irish kissing. It was both thorough and intense with more than a slight hint of smoky Irish whisky. When I eventually came up for air, he grinned wickedly at me and said.

‘Just wanted you to know that redheads are better than blondes for some things.’

I blushed at the reference to my crush on his brother, but acknowledged that, comparisons not withstanding, Paddy certainly had kissing down to a fine art. Slightly dazed I exited into the dark and snowy evening.

As I headed down the street toward the bus stop, I turned back and saw Paddy standing on the doorstep. He raised his hand and waved somewhat sadly, and I knew that he realised that I would not be back after Christmas.

* * *

Shivering, I became aware that the bath water had gone cold and I climbed out and wrapped myself in a large warm towel. I got into bed, and no sooner had my head touched the pillow than I was asleep. My dreams were vivid, filled with people I had known all those years ago. They were still young and so was I.

I remember feeling light and happy, a feeling that persisted when I woke in the morning to sunlight shining through the open curtains. Today was truly the first day of the rest of my life. I had a few hours before the shops opened and decided to finish off this chapter in my life.

* * *

Christmas had not been a happy time that year and I plucked up the courage to do something about it in the New Year. I moved out of the flat and into a tiny bed-sit across town.

The agency promised me that, based on my performance in the last six weeks, they would have no problem placing me as long as I was prepared to be flexible about both the type of work and its location. I assured them that I would be happy to accept anything on their books.

I was lucky; they found me two longer-term positions for six weeks each that gave me some comfort that I could pay my bills. Peter tried to contact me several times in the first days of the New Year, but as there was only a pay phone in my building, it was easy to avoid him. I missed him dreadfully. We had been together for nearly two years and there was a giant hole in my life. I avoided telling my parents; reluctant to let them know that they had been right all the time. Still, with contact between us restricted to a weekly telephone call, this was not too difficult.

The first position that the agency found for me was with a local free newspaper that needed telephone sales assistants, for a six-week promotion, on the Cars and Property section. I duly presented myself, in the first week of January, for a two-day training course on selling advertising. Oh yeah!

©Sally Georgina Cronin – Just an Odd Job Girl

Next time – Advertising telesales

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jacquie Biggar January 4th 2022

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Imogen relives her past vocations, everything from a nebulous job on the docks to a dentist’s assistant, a job in a funeral home, a restaurant manager, and more. It soon becomes obvious that Imogen is a Jack of all Trades and an asset to any employer.

Many wives and mothers of the era were stay-at-home caretakers for their families. They set aside career aspirations to make a safe and loving home for their children- often at the price of their own sense of value. Then the kids leave home, husbands become restless, and suddenly, the wife is left to absorb the loss and find her way to a new beginning. Not easy for anyone.

This is a highly entertaining read told by a wonderful storyteller. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor and the delightful ending- a well-deserved 5 star read!

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022

Smorgasbord Poetry – Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Weekly Challenge – #Etheree – Legacy by Sally Cronin


This week Colleen Chesebro’s Challenge is an Ekrphastic Photoprompt with a lovely image David, from the Skeptic’s Kaddish, provided the photo for this month’s challenge. This is a photo of David’s father. David dedicated his blog to his father’s memory.  I have created an Etheree this week.

© image David, from the Skeptic’s Kaddish

Etheree – Legacy by Sally Cronin

sight
enhanced
magnified
drawn to movement
a bright feather’s sheen
focus and connection
the lens in tune with nature
and a man who captures beauty
for his own delight and to preserve
a treasured legacy for those he loves.

©Sally Cronin 2022

My most recent book is a collection of poetry and was published in July 2021

One of the reviews for the collection

Jacqui Murray VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars Expect to be challenged by this collection of poems  Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2021

You can find all my books and buy links: Sally’s Books and Reviews 2022

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you have enjoyed the poem.. thanks Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Life #Change – Linda’s Midlife Crisis by Toni Pike


Delighted to share the news of Toni Pike’s latest release – Linda’s Midlife Crisis…

About the book

Meet Linda Lockwood: fifty, fat, frumpy and bullied by her horrible husband Ron and the vile students and principal at the school where she teaches English. But her life is about to undergo a total transformation.

Linda suffers a breakdown after a traumatic classroom incident, and that brings out the worst in Ron and devious principal, Wayne Forsythe. Then she is rocked to discover her husband has a shocking secret.

With her own determination and the help of friends and family, she starts to turn her life around. Her own success might be the best revenge, but life still has some more surprises for Linda.

My review for the book May 21st 2022

This is a heartwarming read that shares the journey of Linda Lockwood as she suffers bullies in and out of the classroom, a husband who treats her like a doormat and is very vocal in public about her ‘flaws’, and her own lack of self-esteem.

Just how much is too much, and when will Linda finally snap? At 50 years old and at the end of her tether she decides there has to be a better life than this. Especially when her secret dreams are thrown back in her face.

After years as a teacher she is resourceful and over the following months Linda gets back her joy in life and begins to open up to the world. Meeting new friends, being close to family and looking amazing she blossoms.The one area of her life that doesn’t tempt her is romance, but when you are not looking, sometimes it finds you anyway.

This story encourages all those who find themselves suddenly alone and facing an uncertain future that there is hope and a second chance. Recommended.

Head over to buy the book Amazon: USAUKAustraliaCanadaand follow reviews on Goodreads

A selection of other books by Toni Pike for children and adults

Connect to Toni and buy the books: Amazon AustraliaAmazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Toni:Goodreads – Website: Toni PikeTwitter:@piketoni1

About Toni Pike

Toni Pike is a multi-genre author who enjoys writing exciting thrillers for adults, non-fiction, and hilarious books for children. She also loves travelling and being with family and friends. She lives in Australia and firmly believes that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day.

Do you like books that you can’t stop reading? Pike is the author of DESOLATION BLUFF, DEAD DRY HEART and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series: THE MAGUS COVENANT, THE ROCK OF MAGUS, THE MAGUS EPIPHANY and HOLY SPEAR OF MAGUS.

The Brody Cody Series is for children aged 6-9: BRODY CODY AND THE STEPMOTHER FROM OUTER SPACE and BRODY CODY AND THE HAUNTED VACATION HOUSE.

She’s also the author of two non-fiction books. THE ONE WAY DIET is a no-nonsense guide to losing weight and coping with the journey. HAPPY TRAVELS 101 is a short book of travel tips with great advice for anyone who wants to travel overseas.

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – #Romance, #Humour – Chapter Ten – Cat Burglars and Insurance Fraud! by Sally Cronin


This was the first novel that I wrote back in 2001 when I first moved to Spain to live. I had written short stories before and non-fiction health books, but felt the need to bring a little romance and humour into my writing.. the result was the semi-autobiographical Just an Odd Job Girl.

About the book

At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.

Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.

Last time Being a pub landlady and catering for hundreds came with some interesting customers at the weekend….

Chapter Ten – Cat Burglars and Insurance Fraud! by Sally Cronin

We found a lovely small flat in Southsea, a few roads back from the sea. It had a bedroom, bathroom, separate kitchen, and a combined living and dining room. It was nicely furnished and felt like our first real home. The only drawback was the three Spanish students who lived above us. They were used to staying out late and would arrive home about three in the morning and proceed to indulge in a spot of Flamenco dancing, or so it sounded. The tap of three pairs of high heels on wooden floors had a rhythm to it that was a little like a dripping tap. We would bury our heads under our pillows, but eventually we learnt to live with this minor inconvenience.

Not so their cat, a black and white tom with a distinct lack of regard for other people’s property, particularly of the edible kind. Over a period of some weeks, I became increasingly alarmed by the amount that Peter was eating. I got into the habit of cooking two meals at a time. This worked very well for stews, roasts, and pasta dishes. We would take one day’s portion and I would leave the remainder to cool on the kitchen table before putting in the refrigerator for the next day.

The one thing that Peter would do about the house, was to clear the empty plates away and wash up while he made us a cup of tea. We would then settle down on the sofa and watch our tiny television until it was time for us go to bed. I would take the empty cups out to the kitchen and put the next day’s dinner away. I began to notice a marked difference in the original amount and the quantity that I was putting in the refrigerator. At first, it was only a slight difference and I assumed that Peter was helping himself to an extra spoonful or two when he was making the tea.

After two or three weeks, it became more than a spoonful and in fact there was barely enough to feed one person the next night, let alone two. I decided to tackle the problem discreetly, as I knew what Peter could be like when he was criticised. He did not take kindly to having his actions questioned, which was another little sign I managed to ignore for twenty-five years.

‘Darling, you seem very hungry in the evenings, would you like me to do a few more potatoes and vegetables’ I thought that was diplomatic enough.

‘What do you mean, hungry.’ A belligerent look swept over his face.

‘There’s too much on the plate as it is, I am putting on weight and I have been meaning to talk to you about it.’

Was this self-denial? Here he was, helping himself to our next day’s dinner and having a go at me for feeding him too much and causing a weight problem.

Of course, a full-scale argument ensued and everything that had been stored and filed for future use came out into the open. I slept on the sofa that night, and Peter slammed around the flat until midnight. It did have an upside however, in the form of verbal abuse, hurled upwards to the occupants of the upstairs flat who unfortunately chose this night to hold a fiesta with much heel tapping and laughter at four in the morning. There was a deathly silence then giggling. We could hear bare feet slapping across the floors, as beds were sought and then quiet, which was to thankfully last until the girls moved out a month later. However, all hell was to break loose in our apartment before they left.

After the argument, we made up and I started making one meal at a time and cooking every day. We did have fish and chips on Saturday, after the pub and peace reigned in our little palace for a while.

I was doing temp work at the time and was moving around the place quite a lot. I was asked to work late one night, with an insurance company that was behind in paying its claims. The day before, I had made two dinners, as before, and put the half dish of lasagne on the table to cool. I had forgotten to put salt on the table and returned to the kitchen to get it – much to the surprise of the cat with it’s head buried in the béchamel and cheese sauce. It was so enraptured with my cooking that it did not even look up. I was so startled; I just stood at the kitchen door and screamed my head off. The cat leapt up with arched back and hissed at me. It looked pretty ridiculous really, with a ring of white sauce clinging to its whiskers and a piece of tomato hanging from his mouth.

Peter shot into the kitchen and the three of us stood in a frozen tableau. Peter was the first to move, grabbing a tea towel from the back of the door, he flung it at the cat. Obviously, my lasagne was a prize to hang on to. The cat actually grabbed another bite before leaping nimbly onto the sink and onto the windowsill. We rushed to the open window just in time to see the cat climbing up the ivy that covered the front of the house. With an arrogant backward glance, he gracefully slid into Spanish territory and we were left hanging out of our window, powerless to catch the cat burglar.

This solved the mystery of the missing food. The cat had looked very much at home, and it was obvious that this was not the first time it had helped itself to dinner at our expense. Short of causing an international incident, especially after we had introduced our neighbours to Anglo Saxon vocabulary, we decided to keep the window closed – to a level that allowed air, but not feline, entry.

I thought it was all very funny, but Peter was not amused. He was all for going down to the surgery immediately and having all sorts of tests conducted to find out if he had been infected with cat flu or similar. Of course, it was entirely my fault, for leaving food uncovered, and for not closing the window. I did point out that I had not expected to be burgled on the third floor of a building, but apparently this was not a permissible excuse.

Despite the increasingly volatile relationship between us, we stayed there for nearly a year. In that time I worked for a Temp agency and found myself using my rusty secretarial skills around the city. Most of the jobs were boring and repetitive but of course, being me, there were one or two incidents of note, even among the mundane tasks allotted to the transient temp.

I worked for two insurance companies in my first few weeks with the agency. My first assignment was in the typing pool, where I was expected to spend the entire day typing claim cheques. These were usually payments as a result of motor accidents, and some of the cheques were for several thousand pounds. You had to pay strict attention. I had an electronic typewriter that I was unused to, and in fact, looked on in envy by the girls pecking away on their manual versions. I learnt to master the beast that seemed to have a mind of its own. Keep your finger too long on a particular key and you ended up with a cheque for a million pounds instead of a hundred. All the cheques were numbered and any ruined ones had to be logged and given in at the end of the day to the accounts department. I did not get off to an auspicious start.

The cheques came in packs of fifty. They were joined together and had perforations between each cheque. On my first day, I managed to produce seventy acceptable cheques and thirty cancelled ones. The supervisor glared at me from behind her glasses and muttered something about temps and waste of time, I didn’t quite catch it all. I sidled out of the door vowing never to return. I half expected a call from the agency telling me that I was not welcome back anyway, but the reprieve never arrived.

The next day I found myself, once again, back in front of the gleaming monster. The curved keyboard reminded me of rows of teeth, determined to bite my fingers off at the first touch. However, for some reason, I started to get my eye in, and on the second day I produced ninety-five perfect specimens and only five rejects. By the fourth day, I was producing one hundred and fifty cheques a day with barely an error. The supervisor had thawed somewhat and the muttering under her breath had been silenced. This silence did not extend to the other temps that had been drafted in to clear this backlog of insurance claims.

Three of them cornered me in the ladies at coffee break, standing with arms crossed and grim expressions; I wondered what I had done to incur their displeasure and smiled sweetly in an effort to lighten the atmosphere.

A blonde, with deceptive baby blue eyes, leaned closer to me after assuring herself that the toilet stalls were empty.

‘What do you think you are doing?’ she hissed at me between clenched teeth.

‘We have been here for six weeks and they’ve been very pleased with our work.’ She continued, glancing at her companions for moral support.

‘We only produce seventy-five cheques a day. What are you trying to do, talk yourself out of a job, and ours along with it. The backlog should have kept us all here for the next six weeks until Christmas.’
She took a breath and imparted the final shot.

‘The supervisor has told us all to increase our cheques per day or she will have us replaced, you have to slow down now or there will be trouble.’

Right! Here I am, so desperate to get out of this place that I have perfected the art of cheque production, and these three bimbos want me to slow down so that they can stay here forever.

The problem with me is that I have never been much of a sheep and although I did not feel that a temporary job was worth getting into a fight over, I did have a problem with dishonesty.

Both the insurance company and the temp agency were getting fiddled here. These three girls were deliberately working slowly, taking three times as long to do the job as was necessary, and therefore taking three times more money than they should.

I pushed past them and returned to my desk. I carried on working at my normal speed and produced my one hundred and fifty cheques as usual. I also a produced a couple of other things. I earned glares and ostracism from my three temporary colleagues and my first genuine smile from the supervisor at the end of the day. I don’t think she missed much at all and I was proved correct when three replacement staff were drafted in to the department the following Monday.

I was given the task of bringing them up to speed and ensuring that an acceptable number of cheques were produced each day. The job was completed in three weeks and as my three erstwhile colleagues had predicted, we only had three weeks left until Christmas. Most offices did not take on temps at this time of year, and I was told by the agency that there would be some vacancies in department stores for the sales in January and that they might not be able to find me anything until then.

I adjusted my Christmas present list, which left Peter with a pair of socks, and my parents with a bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers. My responsibility was to pay for the food each week, so I hurriedly rang around both sets of parents and siblings to wangle an invitation for Christmas lunch and Boxing Day. I was marginally successful, but it looked like fish and chips for New Year. Then I received a call from the Agency.

With just two weeks to go before Christmas, an unusual vacancy had come up. A receptionist–secretary for a ‘Funeral Director and Chauffeur Driven Limousine Service’. Not the most cheerful of occupations at Christmas time. But, beggars can’t be choosers. The thought of Peter’s face, when he opened his solitary Christmas gift, convinced me, and I duly arrived at Flanagan’s Funeral Directors on December 15th.

©Sally Georgina Cronin – Just an Odd Job Girl

Next time – a memorable Christmas in the funeral home

One of the recent reviews for the book

Jacquie Biggar January 4th 2022

After devoting her life to her family, Imogen is replaced by a younger woman (a fast-tracker) after twenty years of marriage and must overcome her self-doubt to move on to the next stage of her life.

Just an Odd Job Girl is a highly entertaining story of a fifty-year-old’s voyage into a working world she thought herself ill-equipped to handle until a new friend shows her just how much she truly has to offer.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Imogen relives her past vocations, everything from a nebulous job on the docks to a dentist’s assistant, a job in a funeral home, a restaurant manager, and more. It soon becomes obvious that Imogen is a Jack of all Trades and an asset to any employer.

Many wives and mothers of the era were stay-at-home caretakers for their families. They set aside career aspirations to make a safe and loving home for their children- often at the price of their own sense of value. Then the kids leave home, husbands become restless, and suddenly, the wife is left to absorb the loss and find her way to a new beginning. Not easy for anyone.

This is a highly entertaining read told by a wonderful storyteller. I especially enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor and the delightful ending- a well-deserved 5 star read!

You can find my other books and their recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2022

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! – #Writing, #Genres, #Indie Jacqui Murray


I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today author Jacqui Murray shares the five things, that as a writer she wishes she knew then…wonderful insight for new authors about to begin their journey and a great review of useful tips for more established writers.

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now by Jacqui Murray

I’ve been writing for over thirty years. I’ve written tech manuals, non-fiction, military fiction, historical fiction, freelance journalism, reviews for clients, lesson plans, class syllabi–pretty much anything that would pay the bills (within limits). I’ve learned a lot about what works and what should be avoided. I made a lot of mistakes, but honestly, I wouldn’t want to skip any of them because I learn from mistakes. I bet you do, too. But there are a few bits of wisdom I wish I’d known when I started that would have saved me time, money, and stress.

Here are five:

Genre have rules. Follow them

Have you ever cracked open a book that promised to be a thriller, filled with action and adventure, and got a redo of Fantasy Island? World Famous Authors can break rules when they write. Ordinary Folk (like me) have to follow them and some of the most important are the ones that apply to genres. As a new author, these are sacred ground.

Learn them and then follow them until your name appears on a cover bigger than the title.

Then, do what you want. For example, thrillers are dominated by exciting plots with flawed super heroes who save the world by doing the impossible. Literary fiction characters are ordinary people out to find themselves while they save their souls. Historical fiction–don’t skimp on authentic details about your selected time long gone, be it Ancient Greece or the Old West.

There are over one hundred genres (I know because I have a genre series where I demystify them for you and I’m up to 147) so you have a lot of choices. Early in your writing, decide what your genre is and then research the guidelines. If it’s fantasies, your audience expects serious world-building. Sci fi aficionados want space, planets, and other worlds. Give people what they want at least at the beginning of your writing career and they will return the favor by buying your books and talking about them online.

Voice is why people read your book

Readers may buy your book because the blurb sounds good or it has a great cover, but if they’ll read the next one because they love your voice. Figure out who you are, what makes you different from other writers in your genre. Embrace that and never look back.

It takes a long time to write a novel.

I took twenty-five years to write my first novel (and I’m not unusual) which included at least three complete rewrites, a dozen re-edits, and more than three times I quit only to return. I tried short stories and poetry, but really, novels are my schtick so I suffered through thinking I wasn’t good enough or smart enough or connected enough. But, each problem I knocked down like pins in a bowling alley. Sure, there were 3,498 and I had to solve all of them (because–no agent), but each one made me stronger and more confident.

Going Indie is a great option

I don’t know any authors who started writing with the dream of being an Indie author. Usually, that goal arrives after the 1,019th rejection, or the third time an agent suggests changes that revert a story to an original version. At a certain point, you get tired of playing the agent-publisher game, stick a toe in the Indie publishing world, and find out it’s warm, without piranha, and with plenty of room for all kinds of authors. For me, that took a really long time, but I’d never go back. I like the independence, relying on myself, not having to accommodate someone else’s interests, writing according to my own timeline, choosing my own cover, making my own decisions, getting immediate answers to questions (from myself), and more.

And the money is better–unless your Elizabeth George or Lee Child. Then, stick with agents.

Writing is a gift with ‘some assembly required’.

I often compare my writing to the Vulcan game of Kal-toh . It’s a Star Trek game where all the pieces look jumbled and misfit until they snap together as though by magic.

Most writers have heard that something like 80% (depends upon where you get your statistic) of people have a book in them. After all, it doesn’t take any special skills, right? You sit at a keyboard, write a story, edit it with ProWriter or Grammarly, have a best friend read and approve it, and then upload it to Kindle.

Trigger warning: Some assembly required. Remember Christmas Eve with a box of parts and you have to use all of them. That’s writing, too. All the pieces are in your head–characters, plot, setting, theme, goals. The trick is to get them all to fit before you lose interest.

***
That’s it–five things I wish I’d known when I started writing. How about you?

©Jacqui Murray 2022

My thanks to Jacqui for this wonderful response to the prompt. I am sure that you can relate to the five points included and great advice for new and established writers. I know she would love to hear from you.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Spring 2022.

A selection of books by Jacqui Murray

My review for Laws of Nature August 2021

I read the first book in this trilogy in 2018 and eagerly awaited book two. The author does set the scene for this second book, but I do recommend that you read Born in Treacherous Time first.

Difficult to extol the virtues of this book without giving away spoilers, but I can tell you it is an extraordinary story of survival under the most extreme conditions the earth was experiencing 1.8 million years ago. Unpredictable is putting it mildly, with earth shifts, bitter cold, droughts, floods with violent storms with lightening splintering the ground and causing rampant fires. Shelter is a rarity from the elements and when it is discovered it holds even more dangers within.

This is not a fantasy story, as it is about the real and dangerous evolutionary journey of not just man, but many of the world’s beast that we are more familiar with today. It is a time where there are a number of versions of humans, some who are more advanced than others, but even they marvel when they come into contact with those they consider more primitive. Despite this early stage in man’s evolution, natural and instinctive skills have already been lost, and it is the respect for these abilities that spark the fascination of ‘Man who Preys’ a long term enemy.

Lucy and her group have members gathered along the harsh journey who have found themselves outcast or abandoned during shifts in the earth or extreme climate conditions. They are a mismatched mix of species who learn from each other and adapt to form an unbreakable bond.There are whispers of how the individuals will evolve into modern day counterparts such big cats and primates but also sadly those that have become extinct.

The author writes flawlessly and takes you on a journey into our past with detailed accounts of this harsh environment and its inhabitants. It is an adventure with heartbreak and also moments when you can only applaud the ingenuity and the will to survive of these primitive ancestors of ours. It certainly leaves you will a greater appreciation of all we have in this modern world.

I hope you will read both book one and two of this trilogy and I am looking forward to following Lucy and her group as they continue their journey in book 3.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Jacqui: goodreads – Blog: WorddreamsTwitter: @WordDreams

 

Thanks for dropping in today and it would be wonderful if you could share Jacqui’s post .. Sally.

Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – The Early Years


It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

Welcome to the start of a new series of the Music Column with William Price King..with part one of the Aretha Franklin story.

Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee in March 1942 to Barbara and Clarence Franklin. At the time Clarence Franklin was a travelling preacher and her mother an accomplished pianist and vocalist. The family moved to Buffalo, New York when Aretha was still a toddler and then again two years later when her father took on the pastorship of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Michigan. Unfortunately, despite the prospects of this new permanent position Aretha’s parents separated with her mother returning to Buffalo with her brother Vaughn. Over the next few years Aretha and Barbara would visit each other in New York or Michigan, but sadly just before her tenth birthday her mother died.

This left the upbringing of the children to other members of the family, including her grandmother as her father grew to prominence within the baptist church, travelling to deliver sermons across the country. He was known as the man with the ‘million-dollar voice’ that brought in a substantial and steady income. His celebrity status attracted celebrities such as Martin Luther King and Sam Cooke to the family home.

Aretha had also been busy during this period, learning to play the piano by ear and just after her mother’s death, still only ten years old, she began to sing solos at the New Bethel church with her first solo being “Jesus, Be a Fence Around me”. At age fourteen and with her father now managing her career, she went on the road for his gospel tours across the country, performing as part of the ministry.

With her father’s influence she was signed to her first recording contract with J.V. B Records in 1956 and her first album “Songs of Faith” resulted in two singles “Never Grow Old” and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand’ being released to gospel radio stations.

From the age of fourteen to the present day Aretha Franklin has been entertaining and delighting audiences with her incredible voice. She has recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and twenty number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history.

She has also won prestigious awards, honorary degrees and Presidential recognition. Here is just some of the highlights.

  • Twenty Grammy Awards including Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best Gospel Performance every year from 1968 to 1975 and further awards in 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 2006 and 2009. Aretha Franklin also one three special Grammy Awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.
  • Three American Music Awards – Favorite Soul/R&B Album “Jump to it” in 1983, Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist in 1984 and 1986.
  • Three NAACP Awards – Hall of Fame in 1997, Vanguard Award in 2008 and Outstanding Album for “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” in 2015.
  • Some of her other honors include Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as the first woman to be inducted in 1987.
  • Kennedy Center Honors in 1994, at the time the youngest recipient.
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 presented by President W. Bush
  • Induction into the Music Hall of Fame in the UK in 2005 only the second woman to be inducted.
  • In 2008, a panel of peers and musical experts convened by Rolling Stone magazine voted Aretha Franklin the greatest singer of all time.
  • Aretha was named “MusiCares Person of the Year” in 2008.
  • Induction into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012
  • In 2014, she was granted the honorary degree of Doctor of Arts from Harvard University for her contributions to music.
  • On June 8, 2017, the City of Detroit honored Franklin’s legacy by renaming a portion of Madison Street, between Brush and Witherell Streets, “Aretha Franklin Way.”

Something to keep you going until next week when we pick up the story again.

(Sweet Sweet Baby) “Since You’ve Been Gone” was a single released from Aretha Franklin’s “Lady Soul” album in 1968. It peaked at #5 in the Top 100 for five weeks and in the #1 spot for three weeks in the R&B singles chart.

Buy Aretha Franklin Music: Amazon

Official website: Aretha Franklin

Additional Information: Wikipedia

I hope you will join us again next week for another for the next post in the life and music of Aretha Franklin.

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson

 

Thank you for dropping and as always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Laughter is the Best Medicine – Passing along the funnies – Boys vs. Girls and Legal Shenanigans


Some funnies passed along by friends by email that I thought you might enjoy…and some snippets from the archives.

 

And to finish off today

Getting away with it.

A businessman returned to his parked car to find the headlights broken and damage to his front end. Stuck under the windscreen wiper he found a note which read:

“Hey man. I just backed into your car. The folks that saw the accident are nodding in approval because they think I am writing down my name and other particulars, but I aint.”

Investments

As his investment business grew… James realised that he needed to employ a corporate lawyer to protect his interests and those of his clients. He set about interviewing young lawyers. After several applicants had failed to impress him, he sat down with a smartly dressed young man and explained to him that the nature of the business meant that integrity was of the highest importance and asked him if he was an honest lawyer.
The young man considered the question for a moment and then answered.

“Let me show you how honest I am… my parents lent me 50,000 pounds to complete my law degree and I paid it back after I tried my first big case.”

“That is very impressive,” James smiled at the applicant. “And what kind of case was that?”

They sued me for the money!

Justice

A young lawyer, defending a businessman in a lawsuit, feared the worst. He asked a senior partner whether he ought to send the judge a box of cigars.

“The judge is an honorable man,” the horrified senior partner exclaimed. “If you do, I guarantee you’ll lose the case.”

The judge eventually ruled in favor of the young lawyer’s client.

“Aren’t you glad you didn’t send those cigars?” the senior partner asked.

“I did send them,” the young lawyer answered, “I just enclosed the opposition’s business card.”

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with a smile on your face…Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – #Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by D.L. Finn


I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Early teens Hawaii

I wish I knew then what I know now! by Denise Finn

There are many things that I wish I knew then that I know now. Yet, I doubt my current knowledge would have made a difference to that rebellious teenager. I was told to save my money for the future, which always made me shake my head. The future? I only had the now. When my well-meaning grandma worried about me driving seven hours to Disneyland with a friend, I smiled, nodded, and packed my bags. Another time, I drove to the ocean at two in the morning during a rainstorm. Even with a blowout, I had a bag of cat sand in my trunk from shopping earlier to pour into the mud, so a kind passenger could change the tire.

It all worked out in the end, no matter what chances I took. I was completely unaware that anything bad could happen to me. Take better care of my health? Nothing would change my diet or drinking habits until I had no choice. My youth was a place where I lacked the worries I have now.

But there was one time in my teenage years when I wished I could have assured myself it would be okay. I attempted to end my journey at fourteen years old because of an unpleasant family situation. Four years or four days felt the same through childlike eyes. If I hadn’t gotten to that low point, though, I wouldn’t have the faith and hope I do now.

All the things that I learned the hard way made me the person I am today. And hearing a voice tell me, “You have to go back. You have things to do,” is something I think about daily. It makes me want to do as much good as I can in this world for the time I’m here.

So, instead of wondering what I could say to a younger me, I pondered what I could learn from the girl who still looked at the world so full of hope despite that moment of darkness. I realized I could embrace the message of faith I had received in my youth.

After that moment, I approached the world differently, and maybe I always had on some level. I asked why a lot and often. I hardly watched the news in my younger years and was always pleasantly surprised when it rained. If someone needed my help, I didn’t stop to think about it—I helped. There was never any worry about where my next meal was coming from or how I’d pay the rent. I just had a way of figuring it out while watching the sun rise and set with awe.

High School Graduating from Beauty School

Of course, as an adult, we know there are bills to pay, and we must take care of our health. But do we need to get rid of that joy we had in our youth? That waking up and living each day to the fullest? To use our current wisdom but lifted by our innocence from the past, where good wins over evil.

It’s a full circle where we need faith from our past and our present insight. It’s when we become completely whole and feel our entire powerful and magical selves. To hang on to our wonder as we amass more knowledge. When dancing in the rain seems like a good idea until there’s that whisper, you’ll catch your death of cold. No, you’ll only feel whole again.

So, maybe I wrote this backward, but I think my youthful Denise would approve that I’m still embracing that light even after learning about all that darkness. That’s the message I try to create in my words to myself and others—then and now.

Knottsberry Farm on trip

©D.L. Finn 2022

My thanks to Denise for sharing this poignant and inspiring response to the prompt and I know she would love to hear from you…

About D.L. Finn

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

A selection of books by D.L. Finn

A recent review for Bigfoot

Pete Springer 4.0 out of 5 stars A Giant Conspiracy? Reviewed in the United States on April 21, 2022

A man, Steve, learns details of a family of three who mysteriously goes missing. Bob Simon was working for the Fish and Game and received a report to clear the fish out of Lake Tina using a chemical compound to kill the fish in the lake. This tactic was not unheard of, but when Bob digs deeper, he learns that he’s supposed to poison the fish because Bigfoot feeds on them. Bob says he was threatened with his job if he didn’t follow his orders. Bob, his wife, and their doctor son go missing. What has become of them is the mystery? Who had something to do with their disappearance? Was it the government, aliens, or some other mysterious force?

This is a good read for those who like wondering about Bigfoot, aliens, and conspiracy theories. I read and enjoyed D.L. Finn’s short story in thirty minutes.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow D.L. Finn: Goodreads – Connect to D.L. Finn – Website: D.L. Finn Author – Facebook: D.L. Finn Author – Twitter: @dlfinnauthor

 

 Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Denise’s guest post.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy – #Honey -#Propolis – Thousands of Years of History and Health by Sally Cronin


There are certain foods that bring more than taste to your diet, rich in nutrients and energy they are worth including in your weekly shopping.

Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.

Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine. A robust immune system, not only attacks external opportunistic pathogens, but also works to prevent rogue cells in the body from developing into serious disease.

NOTE If you are on any prescribed medication do not take yourself off it without consultation with your doctor. If you follow a healthy eating programme and lose weight and are exercising you may not need the same dose and with your doctor’s agreement you may be able to reduce or come off the medication all together.

#Honey -#Propolis – Thousands of Years of History and Health

This week it is the turn of honey which has been providing sweetness to our diet for thousands of years. First a look at its many health benefits and then Carol is going to work her magic in the kitchen.

Many people are enjoying the benefits of plant based sweeteners such as Stevia which are very useful in cooking and as an alternative to table sugar. I do use at times but I still use honey for its reputation for thousands of years as a healing food.

I doubt that there are many people today who are not aware of the health risks in consuming too much sugar-rich food. Diabetes is on the increase, especially in children, and along with obesity is likely to be one of the top causes of premature death within a few years.

To my mind, the insidious inclusion of sugars in processed foods and equally as bad the introduction of toxic artificial sweeteners is one of the reasons for increased levels of cancer and degenerative diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. We are becoming nutritionally deficient as we become more and more reliant on convenience and junk food laden with fats and sugars.

Honey is the exception and I encourage even my clients with Candida Albicans to use it in moderation as a healthy alternative to sugar or artificial sweeteners.

History of Honey.

For thousands of years it has been used both as a nutritious addition to diet and as an effective medicine and the oldest reference to this delicacy dates back to 5500 BC. At that time Lower Egypt was actually called Bee Land while the Upper Egypt was called Reed Land. By 2500 BC bee keeping was well established and a thriving trade existed between Egypt and India – where honey became associated with religious rites.

Apparently, 110 large pots of honey was equivalent to one donkey or ox. Babylonian and Sumerian clay tablets describe honey’s use as a medicine, some of which included powdered bees, which was considered a cure for bladder stones and dropsy. In all over half of the documented remedies, recognised from these periods in our history, were based on honey.

At first honey was treasured, due to not only its sweet taste but also its rarity. It was considered to be a divine substance and therefore it played a substantial role in many ancient people’s rites and ceremonies. Apart from anointing the dead, jars of honey were sent into the next world to nourish the deceased and in some civilisations honey took on mythical and magical properties.

The Aztecs and Mayan cultures of South America kept colonies of native bees, for their honey and wax, mainly for use as medicine. Sometime in the 16th or 17th century settlers brought European bees into the Americas and honey became more available to everyone.

It is considered to be very pure and therefore used in marriage rites around the world including in our own expression of “honeymoon” as it promoted fertility and was thought to act as an aphrodisiac.

If all that is not enough to tempt you to use honey on a daily basis then some of the health benefits of honey may be able to persuade you.

 

Raw Irish Honey: Coolmore Bees Cork

Health benefits of honey

Having given honey such a wonderful lead-in I now have to put in a proviso and that is that not all honey is created equal.

Bees make honey for their own nourishment from the nectar collected from flowers and the enzymes in their saliva. They carry the honey back to the hive where it is deposited in the cells in the walls where it dries out and forms that consistency that we are familiar with.

The quality and medicinal qualities of honey are very dependent on the plants that the bees producing that honey have had access to. Most of the commercially available honey originates from bees feeding on clovers, heather and acacia plants but there are some wonderful flavours available from bees with access to herb plants such as thyme and lavender.

Unfortunately, in the processing of wild honey to the commercially acceptable product you find on most supermarket shelves, many of the nutrients can be lost. One in particular that is a very valuable anti-bacterial, anti -viral and anti-fungal agent is Propolis, the glue that bees use to seal the hive and protect the colony. This is usually present in small amounts in wild honey but is lost in processing – unless it is marked on the jar. You can buy Propolis honey but it can be a little more expensive but worth it.

Whilst I only take supplements at certain times of year, one that I take from September onwards is propolis in capsule form, through to April ( I have taken longer in 2020). There have been some studies on the action of propolis on virus strains and the conclusion was that it prevents replication of the virus: NCBI – Propolis

One of the best honeys in the world comes from New Zealand and is called Manuka honey and because of its reputation for healing it is very heavily tested and regulated to maintain its high standards.

Active Manuka honey is used both internally and externally to treat a number of medical conditions and research is being conducted to legitimise the claims that are made of its effectiveness which show a great deal of promise.

Currently it may help prevent:

  • stomach ulcers
  • poor digestion
  • gastritis
  • Helicobacter Pylori (H.Pylori)
  • skin ulcers
  • sore throats
  • skin infections
  • boost immune system and energy levels.

It is thought that it might even work effectively against MRSA, which would be very interesting.

If you are eating honey then do buy locally and if possible from source. Visit the beekeeper and you should see someone in glowing health, which will be a testament to the quality of his bees and honey. We had bee farms near where we lived in Madrid and they are miles from pollution and surrounded by wild plants of every variety in the hills.

Internal health benefits

Good quality raw honey is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. It is also an amazing energy source and certainly Greek athletes used both honey and figs to enhance their performance on the track. Modern researchers conducted a study using athletes, some of which were given a honey, some sugar and some maltodextrin as the carbohydrate source. The athletes who were given the honey maintained a steady blood sugar level throughout the two hour training session and their recovery times was much better than those athletes on the alternative energy sources.

For anyone suffering from diabetes, finding a sweetener that does not affect blood sugar levels dramatically is vitally important and honey would appear to raise levels far less than any other refined alternative. However, this still does not mean that a diabetic can eat honey freely but it does mean that breakfast porridge and cups of tea can benefit from a little sweetness if it is required. Please check with your doctor beforehand.

It has also been found that natural honey rather than processed honey can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels (smaller particle cholesterol that when oxidised can attach to the walls of arteries and block them), homocysteine levels and increases the level of HDL (healthy cholesterol) helping to prevent heart disease.

Honey’s healing properties are beneficial for stomach ulcers, sore throats and intestinal damage with a balancing effect on intestinal bacteria. This includes Candida Albicans, which goes against most therapists’ philosophy of eliminating all sweeteners from a sufferer’s diet. All my clients have switched to honey in their programmes and it seems to not only help in the recovery but also provides a small element of sweetness to satisfy cravings.

It has been found that taking natural honey on a daily basis raises blood levels of the protective antioxidant compounds that we need to prevent disease and to heal ourselves. Admittedly the subjects in the study that confirmed this consumed four tablespoons of buckwheat honey per day which would grate on even my sweet tooth. I do believe as you know in the accumulative effect and therefore over a period of time taking a teaspoon or so of honey per day on food or in drinks should benefit you in the long term.

External health benefits

As with ulcers internally, honey is excellent for external wound healing. Honey absorbs water in the wound inhibiting the growth of bacteria and fungi. Also honey contains glucose oxidase that when mixed with water produces hydrogen peroxide which is a mild antiseptic. There are also specific enzymes in honey, particularly Manuka honey that appear to speed up the healing process in combination with the common antioxidant properties.

I use a range of organic Manuka skincare for face and body and it actually works out less expensive and less polluted then many of the expensive brands.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022

A little bit about me nutritionally. .

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.

Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can buy my books from: Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Follow me :Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

 

As always I look forward to your comments and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask them.. thanks Sally.