Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Mixed Nuts Part 1 by Linda Bethea


I am so pleased that Linda Bethea is going to share some of her heartwarming and entertaining posts from her archives over the coming weeks. Linda’s family stories always has me in fits of laughter or shedding a tear. I hope you will also head over and buy the books that Linda has published.

Mixed Nuts Part 1 by Linda Bethea

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When you are dealing with family, it clarifies things to have a scale. You don’t have to waste time analyzing people when you have a ready reference. This one works pretty well for my family.

1. Has a monogrammed straight jacket and standing reservation on mental ward.

2.Family is likely to move away without leaving forwarding address. Has jail time in the past or the future

3.People say, “Oh, crap. Here comes Johnny.”

4.Person can go either way. Gets by on a good day. Never has been arrested. Can be lots of fun or a real mess. Relatives usually will invite in for coffee. Likely to have hormone-induced behavior.

5.Regular guy. Holds down a job. Mostly takes care of business. Probably not a serial marrier. Attends church when he has to.

6.Good fellow. Almost everybody likes him or her. Volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. Manages money well enough to retire early.

7.High achiever. Business is in order. Serves on city council.

8.Looks too good to be true. What’s really going on?

9.Over-achiever. Affairs are in order. Solid citizen. Dull, dull, dull. Could end up as a 1

Instead of saying, “Uncle Henry’s a pretty good guy, but sometimes he goes off the deep end, you could say, ‘He’s a usually about a 6 but he was a little 4-ish after Aunt Lou took his new truck and ran off with his brother’.” Or…

“Why in the world did Betty marry him? He was a jerk to her when she was married to his daddy.”

“Well, you know she’s a 5.”

“Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.” Or…

“You set the house on fire trying to dry your underwear in the oven?? What in the hell were you thinking?? And you call yourself a 6?”

“Look, you know darn well I’m a 6. It just seemed like a good idea. Appliances should be multifunctional. I’ve seen you pull a 2 lot of times and never threw it up to you. It could happen to anyone.” Or…

“You forgot and put the turnip greens through the spin cycle and now the washing machine drain is stopped up! I’m not even going to ask you what turnip greens were doing in the washing machine! You’re a 2 if I ever saw one. Your mama and sisters are 2′s, too!! Did you put the beans in the dishwasher, too, while you were at it?”

“No, I’m not an idiot. You cook beans on the stove. I put my rolls in the dishwasher to rise.”

Our family reunions are an eclectic mix of mostly 5′s who can tip into categories 4 and 6 when pressed. Most are fairly regular folks, seasoned with a picante’ dash of street-corner preachers, nude airport racers, and folks who are just interesting in general. We have a couple of 7′s thrown in, reminders of what we could do if we tried. A person’s position on the social ladder is likely to be greatly influenced by his company or partner. For instance, if a submissive #5 marries a dominant #7, it is likely he or she will benefit. If the lower number Is dominant, not so much.

I was comfortable growing up in this eccentric milieu in the 1950’s. While I gave lip service to my parents’ goal of strict respectability, I enjoyed a ringside seat to periodic lunacy. It also justified my lapses. It ran it the family! And no matter how disappointed my parents might be when I messed up, at least I hadn’t been caught naked in traffic yet.

When considering parenthood, most people entertain hormone-tinged delusions, imagining their children as cute, well-behaved, athletic, and smart. We gaze fondly at our partners imagining a baby with his blue eyes, her sweet smile when’s we should have looked a little closer at Grandpa’s buck teeth or Grandma’s frizzy hair. Even better, this baby is just as likely to inherit genes from a great-great grandpa, the horse thief, as from Grandpa John, the Pulitzer Prize Winner. The baby might look a lot more like Aunt Fanny, the lady wrestler, than its pretty mama. A better plan would probably be to put all babies in a lottery at birth, so parents could credit their lumps to bad luck and the joys to good parenting for the next twenty-one years. The kids would definitely appreciate it.

(to be continued)
©Linda Bethea 2015

About Linda Bethea.

Linda Bethea brings humour to her stories that are usually set in what was a dire time in American history in the great depression. There is no doubt in my mind that Southerners are tough, resilient and have an amazing sense of fun.

win_20160620_13_24_45_proHere is Linda with a little bit about herself.

Now that I’m done with the bothersome business of workday world, I am free to pursue my passion, capturing the stories I’ve loved all my life. The ones you’ll read on my blog are good old Southern stories, a real pleasure to relay. Here in the South, we are proud of our wacky folks. I’ve preyed shamelessly on my family, living and dead, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, often changing the names to protect the innocent and not so innocent.

My mother illustrates my blog. I come from a rollicking family of nuts, hence the name of the blog Nutsrok Enjoy.

Linda has captured the essence of her family history in her book Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad

51qb8fm4dql-_uy250_About Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad by Linda Swain Bethea (Author) with Kathleen Holdaway Swain (Collaborator & Illustrator)

Born to a struggling farm family in the deepest of The Great Depression, Kathleen enjoys a colorful childhood, enhanced by her imagination, love of life, and the encouragement of her family.

She’s determined to build a better life for herself, getting herself into hilarious situations all along the way. Distinguishing herself in school and the community, she never takes her eyes off her goal.

Just as she’s about to get started, she meets Bill, the man who is going to help her on her way. Everything changes. And then changes again. The true story of a remarkable woman who will inspire you, make you laugh, and see life from a new perspective.

One of the many excellent reviews for the book.

………...as you fall in love with Kathleen’s family.

Bethea’s style of writing as she recounts her mother’s memories has made her one of my favorite authors, and I couldn’t put this book down once I started it.

Kathleen (Kitten) takes us through her childhood growing up during the Great Depression by sharing her memories, and we find ourselves cheering for the little girl and her family while we get to know them. Vivid descriptions about unwanted house-guest’s habits are hilarious, while stories of sacrifices made by the family for each other brings tears to the reader’s eyes. We find ourselves cherishing the favorite stories Kitten hears from her Mama and Daddy while she snuggles next to them much as she did at the time of their telling. As Kathleen recounts the difficulties she faced as a young adult, we too want to return home to her parents’ warm home, full pantry, and open arms.

Read the reviews and BUY the book: https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Smells-Just-Like-Salad-ebook/dp/B01IVUXROQ

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Everything-Smells-Just-Like-Salad-ebook/dp/B01IVUXROQ/

Also by Linda Bethea

About the book

WOMEN OF STRENGTH, FORTITUDE, AND BRAVERY

In this collection of six serials, Linda Swain Bethea weaves narratives of women through several centuries. The stories span from 1643 to 1957. Beginning in England in 1643, a young couple travels to Jamestown, Virginia, to begin a new life in the American frontier. The rest of the stories travel from West Texas to North Louisiana to the Texas Panhandle to East Texas.

Disease, death, starvation, and prison are faced with stoicism and common sense, and always, with a sense of humor.

The women in each tale stand tall and possess the wisdom and tenacity to hold families together under the worst conditions. Through it all, they persevere, and Linda Swain Bethea’s storytelling is a testament to the legacy they left.

Conversational and homey, you’ll fall in love with the women of Just Women Getting By – Leaving a Legacy of Strength, which celebrates the courage of those women who had no choice but to survive.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Just-Women-Getting-Leaving-Strength-ebook/dp/B072DZ5XTP

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-Women-Getting-Leaving-Strength-ebook/dp/B072DZ5XTP

Connect to Linda via her blog: https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nutsrok1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/linda.bethea.50

My thanks to Linda for sharing her story and please share and leave your feedback. I will check on comments in a couple of days. Thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord – Posts from Your Archives – #Travel – #Thailand – Down on the farm making charcoal by Carol Taylor


Welcome to the last in the travel posts from the archive of Carol Taylor, our resident food expert. This week the process of producing charcoal, one of the primary cooking fuels in Thailand.

This is the mud charcoal house where the charcoal is made primarily for fuel to cook…no mod cons here at all. Well not yet pretty much everything is done how it has always been done through the generations. The skills passed down and that is what I like here so much tradition still and in the main so much happiness.

But the lifestyle is hard there are some concessions to this and progress is slowly coming but much is still done the old way and by getting your hands dirty.

Making charcoal is an art…me I just said do you just throw the wood in and light it?….The look this crazy English lady got was a look of I suppose bemusement.

Of course you don’t, for a start the charcoal house cannot be built on or close to the water table or where the drainage is poor.

The wood must be properly stacked so that when it burning the air can circulate correctly but the beauty of it being on your land is that you can stack over a period time as you come across the wood.The wood must of course be dry and the time needed to complete the burn does depend on the moisture content of the wood and also the evenness of the stacking of the wood so this is all very important.

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WOOD DRYING PRIOR TO BEING STACKED.

Once it is correctly stacked it must be stacked vertically into the charcoal house then a fire is started or burning coals are put through the air vent at the top of the charcoal house once this has taken then the door must be sealed effectively to ensure proper air circulation.

The initial smoke which comes out through the top air vent and the air holes around the base is dense white smoke which after a few days turns to a blueish colour finally it becomes practically clear smoke.

Once the burn is complete then the opening at the top of the charcoal house is sealed as are the bottom vents.

This then takes 2-3 days to cool down, when the earth kiln is cool it can be opened but there must be a supply of water available in case there are any red fires still burning as they need to be extinguished.

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Once the charcoal is completely cold then it is bagged or put in baskets for home use or sale.

A typical fire for cooking on.

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Cooking the steak

This is a time-consuming and back-breaking task no one has an easy life here as I am finding out but kudos to them I am often just amazed and it has made me realise what an easy life I have had. With my running water, gas, electric all the mod cons and it has changed me and I hope for the better. When the house is built here yes there will be some luxuries but you know what I am not so bothered anymore.

I won’t be cooking over a small charcoal fire unless it is a BBQ but lots of things I used to have no longer hold the same allure for me it is definitely an eye-opener and maybe not the life for everyone. Just for this crazy, whimsical English lady, it is the life I have adopted and I love it!

If you missed my previous posts on Down on the farm I have added the links below. I hope you enjoy these posts please let me have your thoughts. Down on the farm Jambulan Plum

Thank you for reading about my life in Thailand I do hope you enjoy it 🙂

©Images Carol Taylor.

You can find the posts in the Food and Cookery Column in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-and-cookery-column-2018/

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Thank you for dropping in today and apart from this post and others on travel, you will find plenty of other topics covered on Carol’s informative and entertaining blog. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Summer Jazz, Noodles, Great Books and Mamma Mia!


Welcome to this week’s round up of posts you might have missed. After 9 weeks of glorious sunshine we have had two days of rain and for once it was welcome. The reservoirs will be receiving a top up and although we will have a few partly sunny days next week, there will be more to come.

This week of course there was the blood moon and there were some interesting facts around this particular eclipse that made it all the more disappointing to have thick cloud cover and not to be able to see it. However, the photos online were stunning.

Esme our resident astral forecaster, is going to be talking about it on Thursday when she gives her views on the upcoming month’s events.

The highlight of the week for me has to be going to the movies and my review for Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is under my personal stuff…. fantastic. Yesterday David and I went to see Mission Impossible: Fallout and that too was well worth going to see. Non-stop action and a danger of choking on your popcorn with some of the stunts. I will review next Saturday in full.

I am busy working on my next writing project having handed off Tales from the Irish Garden for some spit and polish. I will only be on social media from time to time although I have salted the blog with some of the usual posts and some humour.

Also now we have come to the end of Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story, I will be sharing Volume One of What’s in a Name? from next weekend. I hope you will enjoy.

As always a huge thank you for your continued support, it really is very much appreciated.

Here are the posts from the week and I hope you enjoy.

William Price King and the Music Column – Summer Jazz

William is on his usual summer break but we are sharing a previous series and this week part one of the Diana Krall story.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-william-price-king-summer-jazz-diana-krall-part-one/

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor

Carol Taylor outdid herself this week with some wonderful recipes that include noodles.. We tend to think of rice and Italian pasta to accompany our meals but noodles are wonderful and well worth exploring the various kinds available.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-food-and-cookery-column-with-carol-taylor-thai-noodles/

Posts from Your Archives – Travel

And Carol Taylor also shares some of her travel experiences around her home of Thailand.. this week Heaven or Hell?

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https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-travel-thailand-wat-baan-waeng-or-heaven-and-hell-by-carol-taylor/

Getting to Know You – The Sunday Interview with award-winning children’s author Janice Spina.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-you-with-janice-spina/

Personal Stuff

Something to Think About – Wills and Probate

This week I saw a newspaper article which follows on from this previous post, regarding the opportunity for banks and solicitors to benefit from your will and from those of your loved ones, leaving you possibly out of pocket for thousands of pounds.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/smorgasbord-something-to-think-about-wills-and-probate-read-the-small-print/

Letters from America – Our first trip to New York

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-1985-1987-have-a-nice-day-in-the-big-apple-by-sally-cronin/

Odd Jobs and Characters – Some of the jobs I left out of the blog tour. – Funeral director’s receptionist.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/smorgasbord-odd-jobs-and-characters-funeral-directors-receptionist-by-sally-cronin/

Drive Time Playlist – Music to get the weekend started – 1980 – ABBA and Dr. Hook

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/sallys-drive-time-playlist-music-to-get-the-weekend-started-1980-divorce-whirlwind-romance-abba-and-dr-hook/

Film Review – Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/28/smorgasbord-film-reviews-mamma-mia-here-we-go-again-as-cheesy-as-you-like-but-brilliant/

The final part of Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Teeth Cleaning and Reflections on My Life.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/28/sam-a-shaggy-dog-story-chapter-fifteen-teeth-cleaning-and-reflections-on-my-life/

As Sam’s story has come to an end, here is a short story that I wrote for Annette Rochelle Aben and her family back in 2015 to celebrate Tales from the Garden being released.  The Time Capsule

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-short-stories-fantasy-the-time-capsule-by-sally-cronin/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-free-until-26th-july-the-desolate-garden-by-daniel-kemp/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-romance-sweetheart-cove-blue-haven-book-1-by-jacquie-biggar/

Author Update – Reviews – Three this week to catch up after the Summer Sale.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-diana-j-febry-mae-clair-and-linda-bradley/

Pure Trash Bette Stevens

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-kristina-stanley-bette-a-stevens-and-d-g-kaye/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-annette-rochelle-aben-janice-spina-n-a-granger-and-claire-fullerton/

Blogger Daily – a small selection of blog posts and book reviews I enjoyed during the week.

International Food and travel to Australia and Hong Kong.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-monday-23rd-july-2018-irene-arita-one-spoiled-cat-and-jill-dennison-international-food-and-travel/

History posts from Tony Riches, Sue Vincent and Brain Lageose.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-tuesday-24th-july-2018-history-tony-riches-sue-vincent-and-brian-lageose/

Christmas in July in South Africa, 8 Top adventures to experience in South Africa, and Fish and Chips in Australia.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-wednesday-25th-july-2018victoria-zigler-and-robbie-and-michael-cheadle-best-regards-from-far-and-rowena-of-beyond-the-flow/

Travel posts from Sri Lanka with the best experiences to be had and Iceland.. land of the Norsemen

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-thursday-26th-july-2018-sri-lanka-and-iceland-two-amazing-places-to-visit/

Health Column

Whilst our immune system is on high alert for dangers to our bodies, we need to meet it halfway at least and give it the right tools to do the job effectively. Eating a rubbish diet is not the way to go…nor is taking a handful of supplements!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/smorgasbord-health-column-the-immune-system-your-role-in-protecting-the-body-from-a-virus/

However many ‘fad’ diets there are littering the Internet, you cannot get away from the fact that if you eat more than you expend in energy…. you put weight on.  I have compiled a fat accumulation table that demonstrates how little treats can add up over a year… and by halving the number you have can have a dramatic effect on your weight.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/smorgasbord-health-column-health-in-the-new-obesity-research-fat-accumulation-table-by-sally-cronin/

Some food hacks including Pineapple for bruises and dates and cheese to spice up your love life!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/smorgasbord-health-column-pineapple-for-bruises-and-prunes-as-a-fat-substitute/

Humour and Afternoon Video

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-line-dancing-horse/

A re-run of some of the weird facts and statistics that almost seem unbelievable!!! But they might help you win that pub quiz.

  1. Mosquitoes are attracted to the color blue twice as much as to any other color.
  2. If one places a tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-or-in-this-case-be-a-know-it-all-part-one/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-there-he-was-sitting-on-a-bench-minding-his-own-business/

Part two of the Know it All series….

  1. No NFL team which plays its home games in a domed stadium has ever won a Super bowl.
  2. The only two days of the year in which there are no professional sports games (MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL) are the day before and the day after the Major League all-stars Game.
  3. What occurs more often in December than any other month? A. Conception.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-or-in-this-case-how-to-be-a-know-it-all-part-two/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-one-does-not-wish-to-be-touched-thank-you/

My thanks again for dropping in and for all your support.. see you again I hope.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord – Odd Jobs and Characters – Some Jobs that were left out – Funeral Directors Receptionist by Sally Cronin


When I posted my series last year, kindly hosted by friends in the community, I left out some of the jobs that I undertook to make ends meet.

During the winter months, the hotel where I was assistant manager in Wales, shut until Easter. I was on half pay from the end of the season through to the beginning of February when I would need to return to help do the usual pre-Easter maintenance and stock purchases. I returned home and stayed with my parents but decided to earn some extra money to pay my way and buy gifts for Christmas. I was also scheduled to take my driving test that summer and wanted extra cash to pay for lessons.

I had just finished a temporary job in an insurance company where I had typed 100 cheques a day. Whilst repetitive it was good pay and with still two weeks to Christmas I was keen to keep the money coming in. The temp agency contacted me and asked me if I would accept a two week contract that had been turned down by some of their regular temps due to the nature of the work.

It was for a receptionist/secretary at a large local funeral directors. Obviously many temps felt that at this festive time of year there might be little cheer to be had in such an establishment…. To be honest I was happy to have another two weeks work and on the Monday morning I turned up suitably attired in my most sombre outfit and rang the bell. A very nice lady showed me the ropes and gave me the guided tour of the public areas, explaining that only those involved in the actual process of preparing the deceased were allowed into certain areas. That was quite comforting I can tell you.

I had little contact with the public for the first couple of days as I settled into the routine but dealt with several enquiries by phone. The firm was an old established company and the two directors were brothers if I remember rightly. Eventually, after I had been properly versed on the etiquette involved, I was allowed to meet the general public. Of course the majority of these people were loved ones and family of those who had entered the building by the rear entrance.

This was my first real contact with the process of dying and I was heartened by the approach by all the members of staff publicly and privately behind the scenes. It was absolutely essential at all times to show respect for the deceased and their families, and I must say, I did find it hard at first to be natural but also sympathetic, with those that came to pay their last respects.

The other rule was to keep visiting families separate, and to this end there were two waiting rooms, and appointments made so that there were no log jams or queues. I would also escort the visitors out after the viewing and confirm final arrangements with them. This required a level of delicacy that was great training for me for jobs that I went onto in later years, and I actually enjoyed that part of the process where I felt I could help these grieving people.

At the end of the two weeks it was Christmas Eve, and since there would not be any funerals over the Christmas week, all the staff gathered in the office for sherry and mince pies. Everyone was very friendly and I had honestly enjoyed my time there. In fact they were happy too, and one of the directors asked if I would like to stay on full-time. I actually was considering this carefully during the party. I loved my job in Wales but Portsmouth was my home and I had missed my own family and friends. However, whilst pondering my future the doorbell rang and I offered to answer it.

I opened the door to find a tiny old man with a walking stick standing on the door step in the lightly falling snow. He had tears running down his face, and as I ushered him in he took my hand and simply said “Can you bury my dear wife for me love”. Luckily one of the directors had come through and stepped in to take the old man through to a waiting room. I was in bits and after composing myself in the ladies I gave my apologies and said that I would not be accepting their kind offer….

And if I had accepted their offer then I would have never have met my husband in Wales later in 1980!

But I remembered their kindness and over the years they took care of the funeral arrangements of my father first and then my mother in 2012. They will probably take care of me too when it is my time, as they have maintained their excellent level of respect and service to this day 35 years later. Which just goes to prove that good customer service is important to both the living and the dead.

You can find the other posts in the Odd Jobs and Characters in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you have enjoyed… thanks Sally

Smorgasbord – Posts from Your Archives – Travel – #Thailand – Wat Baan Waeng or Heaven and Hell by Carol Taylor


Welcome to the second in the posts from Carol Taylor’s travel archives and today she visits a statue park with a difference. Photographic evidence of the consequences of straying from the path of righteousness….

Wat Baan Waeng or Heaven and Hell

Fifty km’s north of Udon Thani where we now live is Wat Baan Waeng or Pho Chai Sri as it is also known.

It is home to larger than life statues and sculptures which depict the heaven and hell side of Buddhism. So in other words if you stray from the path of the five precepts of Buddhism then “Hell” is what awaits you.

It shows the fate or karma of these individuals and the gory fates that await them for their sins.

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Initially when we pulled into the temple we were met with the scene of monks sitting, children playing and stalls selling trinkets, spiritual items and a well. The water level of which is always very high so if you do want to peer down into the blackness then first remove your shoes before you step onto the plinth. The well according to local folktales just appeared!

Such tranquility that we thought we had chanced upon the wrong temple(wat).

But no, if you follow the path lined with Buddhas statues you will be led through beautiful gardens, music playing, good food and drink everything that heaven is meant to be.

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Happy smiles and music playing.

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Head over and enjoy the wonderful photographs and the description of this very special place and its gruesome reminder of the difference between the raptures of heaven and the tortures and torments of hell!! :https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/wat-baan-waeng-or-heaven-and-hell/

©Images Carol Taylor.

You can find the posts in the Food and Cookery Column in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-and-cookery-column-2018/

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Thank you for dropping in today and apart from this post and others on travel, you will find plenty of other topics covered on Carol’s informative and entertaining blog. Thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord -Posts from Your Archives – Travel – The Red Lotus Sea Lake #Thailand by Carol Taylor


Delighted to welcome Carol Taylor for a double bill this week. As well as her regular Cookery and Food Column on Wednesdays, she is sharing some of her travel posts from her part of the world.

The Red Lotus Sea Lake – Thailand by Carol Taylor

077

It was a lovely sunny morning and we decided to take a trip to The Red Lotus Lake( Sea) locally known as Talay Bua Daeng. It was the wrong time of year to see the Lotus in full bloom so will going back in December to see that sight.We still saw a few but not many but witnessed a lot of birds and Water Buffalo who didn’t look best pleased with being disturbed…look at that grumpy face. The Buffalo are brought over in the morning and taken back to terra firma in the evening.

036

and also the boatman took us to a little temple on a tiny, tiny island.;

Head over and enjoy the rest of this photographic tour of this beautiful place and enjoy the visit to the temple: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2016/08/08/the-red-lotus-sea-lake/

©Images Carol Taylor.

You can find the posts in the Food and Cookery Column in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-and-cookery-column-2018/

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Thank you for dropping in today and apart from this post and others on travel, you will find plenty of other topics covered on Carol’s informative and entertaining blog. Thanks Sally

 

 

Smorgasbord – Odd Jobs and Characters – Car Crash and Crystal and meeting Sherlock Holmes by Sally Cronin


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over the years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  From those experiences, I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories.

If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next few weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

This episode was kindly hosted last year by Olga Nunez Miret who is the author of several novels in both English and Spanish.. she is also a translator who did an amazing job for me when she translated Tales from the Garden into Spanish.

Odd Jobs and Characters – Car Crash and Crystal and meeting Sherlock Holmes by Sally Cronin

After I left the department store in the middle of Liverpool, I was appointed manager of a crystal and gift shop in Lord Street, Southport, which is where we had bought our first home.

It was at the north end of this mile long main street, and we sold high end gift items such as Moorcroft pottery, and our own cut glass crystal glassware from the factory in the Lake District. All the glass was classified as ‘seconds’, even though there would only perhaps be a small bubble in the glass, or the cut might not be completely standard. However, the prices were terrific, with at least 40% of the normal retail price. I still have some of the glasses that I bought 34 years ago, and I was lucky enough to get another 10% discount making them very affordable.

Going to work was very easy. I walked out of our gate, then a brisk five minutes down the road, and unlocked the shop door. I really enjoyed the next 18 months, but was then offered the opportunity to manage the three shops that had now been opened, with the other two being in York and Norwich. I would also spend time in the Lake District as marketing manager to oversee the running of the factory shop, and to develop a tour around the glass works for visitors. This meant that I was away most of the week in one capacity or another, and I was given a large estate car to carry stock between the various shops.

On one occasion I had brought down a consignment of crystal to the Southport shop, picking up David from home, with the intention of delivering stock to the York shop; then spending the weekend exploring that very old and lovely city. We had set off down the motorway, which was busy with a Friday getaway. Because there was a great deal of commercial traffic, I was in the centre lane doing a steady 60 miles an hour and overtaking the trucks. I was just in the process of passing a large articulated lorry, when it suddenly veered out into the middle lane without signalling, and hit my car.

I was being pushed out into the fast lane, where traffic was moving considerably faster and there was nowhere for me to go but forward. I hit the accelerator and managed to disconnect from cab of the truck and pull in front of it; then on to the hard shoulder, where I came to rest in a state of shock. It was only then that the driver realised what he had done, and he too pulled onto the shoulder behind me. Thankfully David was not hurt despite the passenger side door being badly damaged. Once I had established that, I was out of the car and heading back to the lorry where the driver was hanging onto his wheel, waiting equally white-faced for one very angry woman charging up the hard shoulder towards him.

It was probably just as well, the police arrived shortly afterwards to make sure none of us needed treatment, or that other road users were impacted. David by this time had managed to open his passenger door and join the discussion.

The car was still driveable, although only having had it a couple of weeks; I was not looking forward to having the upcoming telephone conversation with my boss. After we had exchanged insurance details, and given our statement, which to be fair the lorry driver corroborated, we continued on our journey. However, we could hear the tinkle of broken glass from the back of the car.  I knew it was going to be interesting unpacking several boxes of expensive glassware and removing it from its tissue paper wrapping. Thankfully it was insured, and we were unhurt, but it made me paranoid about overtaking trucks for a very long time.

I loved the job, especially in the summer months in the Lake District when I would tour most of the other tourist sites to deliver leaflets and take theirs to display in our own factory. The tour was now set up, and we were about to begin accepting visitors, when I got a phone call from a gentleman who requested a private tour of the factory. It was unusual, but since we were not officially open for a few days, I agreed, and he made an appointment the next day.

It was 1984 and a new series of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes had been recently released on Granada Television, but I had not seen any of the episodes. However, I immediately recognised the man who arrived for the guided tour as the actor Jeremy Brett, because he had played Freddie in one of my favourite musicals… My Fair Lady.

We spent an hour watching glassware being blown, cut and put through the acid baths, before ending up in the crystal shop attached to the factory where he purchased one or two items. I could understand now why he wanted a private tour, as he was very well known and unlike today, stars tended to be a lot less keen to be photographed and approached by fans.

It was one of those encounters that you always remember, and I went on to watch several episodes of the series before we left to spend two years in Houston, Texas…Where I am ashamed to say I name-dropped shamelessly.

I have not as yet used Jeremy Brett as a character in one of my stories, but he is tucked away for a rainy day. As for the car crash… some events are better forgotten.

©SallyCronin 2016

About Olga Nunez Miret

Olga Núñez Miret is a doctor, a psychiatrist, a student (of American Literature, with a Doctorate and all to prove the point, of Criminology, and of books and people in general), she writes, translates (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and although born in Barcelona, Spain, has lived in the UK for many years. She’s always loved books and is thrilled at the prospect of helping good stories reach more readers all around the world. She publishes a bilingual blog (http://www.authortranslatorolga.com ) where she shares book reviews, advice, talks about books (hers and others) and about things she discovers and enjoys.

Olga has translated her own books into Spanish of course and she has also translated some excellent Spanish books into English and you can find out more here.

I can highly recommend Olga as she translated Tales from the Garden into Spanish...http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/translationstraducciones/

Books in Spanish or English by Olga Nunez Miret

A review for Escaping Psychiatry 2: The Case of the Swapped Bodies.

A Jolly Good Read on March 22, 2017

As a doctor and a psychiatrist, the author knows well the workings of the human mind, and she brings this knowledge to the table in ‘The Case of the Swapped Bodies’.
When consulting psychiatrist Mary Miller receives an unusual document from an FBI contact, it sets in chain a puzzling series of events. As with all mystery novels, it is difficult to give a flavour of the story without spoilers. Suffice to say this is a complex, carefully structured tale involving an unusual murder, FBI-police rivalry, buried secrets, small-town gossip and innuendo, an on-off love affair, and a character who may be insane – or worse.

Olga Nunez Miret steers a careful line around the different narrative threads, and strews just enough red herrings in your path to keep you weaving back and forth between possible ‘solutions’ until the book’s closing stages. Logic and emotion interweave to keep the reader off-balance and anxious to see how resolution(s) will be achieved. You may never view American small-town life in quite the same way again.A jolly good read.

Read the reviews and buy the books Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/author/olganm

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Olga-Núñez-Miret/e/B009UC58G0

Read more reviews and follow Olga on Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6562510.Olga_N_ez_Miret

Audio bookshttp://authortranslatorolga.com/my-audiobooks/

Connect to Olga on social Media

Website –http://www.olganm.com/
Blog- http://authortranslatorolga.com/
Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/OlgaNunezMiret
Twitter- https://twitter.com/OlgaNM7

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Travel – ‘The Streets of Old City Dubrovnik’ by Sherri Matthews


Time for the fourth last post from the travel archives of Sherri Matthews who has taken us to Lake Garda, a traquil village in Normandy and to Jersey during wartime occupation. Today she takes us to Croatia and the beautiful streets of the old City Dubrovnik.

Over at the Daily Post, the Weekly Photo Challenge for this week is ‘Street Life’. Cheri puts the challenge to us in this way:

‘For this challenge, document the movement (or stillness) of a street: tell a story with your snapshot, capture a scene that reveals a bit about a place, or simply show us where you live — or a path you often take.’

With this in mind, here is my story entitled, ‘The Streets of Old City Dubrovnik’.

The beautiful country of Croatia (once part of Yugoslavia together with Bosnia and Slovenia until declaring independence in the 1990s) is home to the Old City of Dubrovnik. Otherwise famously known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’, this medieval walled city is nestled on the Dalmatian coast; from the 13th century onwards it became an important Mediterranean sea power.

Dubrovnik is home to beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries and palaces, all of which were severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667 and then again in more modern times by the Serbian attack against the city in 1991.

After a ceasefire was called, and due to its great concern for the damage done, UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) named Dubrovnik a ‘World Heritage Site in Danger’ and immediately coordinated a major restoration programme. Click here to read more about this programme and for a more comprehensive history of the Old City.

We were privileged to have been able to visit Dubrovnik in 2012.

Approaching by a narrow, twisting road which drops down to the Old City and its hidden streets, I was able to take this shot. This was the moment when I first caught sight of it, having been blocked by the tree-lined road until then. Stunned into silence, I immediately understood why Dubrovnik is known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’.

My photo doesn’t do it justice, it is simply breathtaking.

The Pearl of the Adriatic - Old City Dubrovnik taken as we approach from the road above. Look at that sea! (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

The Pearl of the Adriatic – Old City Dubrovnik taken from the road above. Look at that sea! (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Once inside the city, climbing the city walls gives a magnificent view of the rooftops. The buildings seem to be hiding the streets as if protecting them, closing in on themselves. What secrets lie there I wonder, what stories are to be told?

Dubrovnik May 2012 (197) - Copy

View of the Old City of Dubrovnik taken from the city walls. Notice the Clock Tower (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Climbing back down from the city walls, you can get a closer view of the streets below, beckoning to be explored.

View of the streets below from the Old City Walls, Dubrovnik (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

View of the streets below from the Old City Walls, Dubrovnik
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Head over and discover more about this old city and enjoy Sherri’s wonderful photographic guided tour: https://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2014/04/01/wpc-the-streets-of-old-city-dubrovnik-croatia/

My thanks to Sherri for sharing her travels with us and I do recommend that you check out her archives for her other posts..

About Sherri Matthews

While bringing her memoir, Stranger in a White Dress, to publication, Sherri is published online and in print magazines and anthologies with memoir, essays, poetry and flash fiction. Her short story, ‘A Walk in the Woods’, is published in Prima Magazine, and two of her short memoir entries are longlisted with FISH Publications. Sherri raised her children in California for twenty years before returning to her home in England, where she lives today in the West Country with her husband, Aspie youngest and their pet menagerie fondly called ‘Animal Farm’. Sherri keeps out of mischief gardening, walking and snapping endless photographs, the better ones of which, along with her (mis)adventures, she shares on her blog, A View From My Summerhouse

Here are the anthologies that Sherri has contributed to. Click the covers to buy.

Connect to Sherri.

Blog: sherrimatthewsblog.com
Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/aviewfrommysummerhouse
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterSherri
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sherri-matthews/60/798/aa3
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/103859680232786469097/posts

Our next guest with some travel stories is Carol Taylor, who when not creating dishes for her food column here, travels around Thailand and the far East and will be sharing three of her posts.

After that a new Posts from Your Archives Series….look out for it…thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Roberta Flack, Roses, Bacon, Cruise Ship Tips, Jersey and a whole bunch of other stuff!!


The Music Column with William Price King – Roberta Flack – Part Two.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-william-price-king-summer-jazz-roberta-flack-part-two/

The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss

This month a look at the history, myths and truths behind one of the most popular flowers in the world. The Rose.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-garden-column-with-paul-andruss-only-a-rose/

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor

There are not many of us who don’t love a piece of crispy bacon or tender boiled ham, and this week Carol shows us how to cure our own bacon and prepare ham for our summer salads.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-cookery-and-food-column-with-carol-taylor-home-cured-ham-and-bacon/

The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Cruise Ships – Part Two – Ship Tips

This week Debby shares her insider knowledge about dining, tipping, excursions and shopping. Invaluable advice before you take that cruise.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye-cruises-part-two-ship-tips/

Getting to Know You – Sunday Interview with Darlene Foster.

Darlene shares a favourite childhood song, an action hero she would like to be, something that she could never learn….you will be surprised considering the number of books that she writes! And the animal she would like to have a conversation with..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-you-with-darlene-foster/

Travel Posts from Your Archives Sherri Matthews – A Tour of Jersey and the history of the island during World War Two.

Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-travel-jersey-occupation-liberation-celebration-by-sherri-matthews/

Personal Stuff

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story Serialisation

Chapter Seven – Snow and Favourite Things.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/smorgasbord-sam-a-shaggy-dog-story-chapter-seven-snow-and-favourite-things/

Chapter Eight – Language

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/smorgasbord-sam-a-shaggy-dog-story-chapter-eight-language/

Odd Jobs and Characters – Department manager for a store leads to crime solving!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-odd-jobs-and-characters-fashion-department-manager-and-shop-lifters-by-sally-cronin/

Letters from America – 1985- 1987 – Hawaii

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-1985-1987-hawaii-part-two-molakai-mules-hanauma-bay-and-knitted-bathing-suits/

Poetry and Haiku

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/smorgasbord-poetry-haiku-tree-stumps/

Sally’s Drive Time and Playlist

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/sallys-drive-time-play-list-music-to-get-the-weekend-started-1977-kenny-rogers-and-status-quo/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-timeless-echoes-poetry-by-balroop-singh/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-bubbas-tails-by-patty-l-fletcher-and-king-campbell/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-the-ghost-in-the-gardens-a-flower-girl-mystery-by-hl-carpenter/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-family-drama-gold-plated-by-christine-campbell/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-family-drama-a-marriage-of-convenience-by-stevie-turner/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-quest-of-the-brokenhearted-by-charles-e-yallowitz/

Author updated reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-c-s-boyack-karen-ingalls-and-sally-cronin/

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-claire-fullerton-judy-penz-sheluk-and-darlene-foster/

The Blogger Daily and Meet the Reviewers.

Cathy Ryan

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-and-meet-the-reviewers-cathy-ryan-sue-coletta-and-iona-jenkins/

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-and-meet-the-reviewers-georgia-rose-cheche-winnie-and-jenny-fitzkee/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-and-meet-the-reviewers-july-4th-2018-pen-paws-and-claws-the-story-reading-ape-and-jill-dennison/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-and-meet-the-reviewersolga-nunez-miret-darlene-foster-and-thom-hickey/

Health Column

Magnesium is one of the minerals that is likely to be deficient with a resulting long list of health problems.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/smorgasbord-health-column-nutrients-the-body-needs-magnesium-deficiency-alert/

Often mis-diagnosed Interstitial cystitis is difficult to treat.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/smorgasbord-health-column-the-kidneys-and-urinary-tract-bacterial-and-interstitial-cystitis/

Humour

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-animals-at-play-cats-and-bowling-and-high-jump/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-some-things-are-not-as-they-seem-jokes/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-animals-at-play-cows-let-out-at-the-end-of-winter/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-guest-comedian-and-egyptian-mummies-vaseline-and-engineers/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-animals-at-play-cats-and-video-games/

 

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Odd Jobs and Characters – Fashion Department Manager and Shop Lifters by Sally Cronin


This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over the years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  From those experiences, I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories.

If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next few weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. If that is the case of course I will include their books and links.

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/

This episode in my colourful job history was originally shared by Jane Sturgeon on her blog.

Odd Jobs and Characters – Fashion Department Manager and Shop Lifters by Sally Cronin

After six months of sheep farming in Dolgellau, we returned to Liverpool to live. I needed to get back into full time employment if we were to save our deposit for our own home. David continued to go back and forth to Wales a couple of days a week, but we were now officially city dwellers.

David already had a flat that he rented, but his landlady told us that we would have to leave as it was single occupancy only. What she really meant was single sex occupancy, as she didn’t have a problem with the two girls living together in the top flat. But she assumed no doubt that the first thing we would do is to have a baby. Anyway, we were not going to argue, although there was nothing in the lease to indicate this condition of tenancy.

We found a flat in Tuebrook, which is a suburb of Liverpool, and closer to the city centre where I was applying for jobs. At this time we were pretty broke and the flat had seen better days. The fact that the corner shop protected its assistants behind security bars, should have been an indication of what we might expect. However, we reckoned that with me working we could be out of there in a year. Our lady was Chinese and charming, collecting the rent each Friday and also emptying the electric meter that we were convinced was rigged. It ate two shilling pieces as though they were chocolate buttons, and I was paranoid about running out of coins with us being plunged into darkness. Anyway, I always knew when she was coming up the bare uncarpeted stairs, as she had a wooden leg which was a bit of a giveaway.

I attended a couple of interviews and was offered the position of manager for an expensive women’s fashion brand, which rented space in a large department store in the city centre. I was only 27 and found myself responsible for a team that had been holding the fort for longer than I have been alive. Still they were very welcoming and happy to show me the ropes, although one aspect of the job I had not expected, was to be the only one young enough to chase shop lifters. If you have read my story of my first job along the seafront, you will know that this was actually listed as one of my skills!

Every three months we would receive the new season’s clothing range. This included skirts, tops, jackets, suits, dresses and coats that were the favourites of the shorter, middle-aged woman. They were classy, and we sold many outfits for the mothers of both bride and groom, and for the 1980s, they were quite expensive. This made them very popular with another kind of customer; the ones who were more interested in not paying anything for them.

There were a number of ways that our clothes were liberated from their hangers without detection. For example, a young mother with a child in a pushchair, would wend her way through the rails and then walk away seemingly empty handed. Except that the child in the push chair would somehow be now hanging over the front bars with its bum in the air. You have to be quick to grab a jacket off a hanger, fold it and tuck it under your baby or behind it.

Another way to shoplift merchandise required the assistance of the escalator up to the next floor. In their wisdom, the shop fitters had placed two rails along the wall beneath the escalator to hold jackets and suits. Three young males would get on the escalator with a couple of steps between them. The middle one would duck down, as the one at the back would grab a hanger with a suit on, throwing it to him to stuff in a black bin bag; the one in front acted as look out. Give them their due, they were well practiced at the manoeuvre; blink and you missed it.

Every morning the team and I would conduct a stocktake of the garments on the racks and shelves, and again at the end of the day. We would then compare this against incoming stock and items sold. If there was a discrepancy, we would double check, but it usually meant we had been robbed.

You only lost so many items before head office was on your case, so we had to become smarter that the thieves, as we were sustaining quite big losses. The team would split up in the department; only one person would take payment for sold items at the cash desk, leaving as many staff on the floor as possible at all times. Women with babies in pushchairs were greeted and escorted until they left the department. Despite this increased vigilance we were still losing more items than we should. Until one day, when I was helping a lady on with a spring coat, and happened to look up to see three stooges on the escalator, helping themselves to one of the new suits.

With a rapid ‘excuse me’ to my customer; leaving her in the capable hands of one of my team. I legged it over to the escalator, running up the steps behind the thieves, who were busily stuffing my expensive suit into their bin bag. I think possibly it was my colourful language that alerted them to their pursuer, and they all turned to stare down at me as they reached the top of the moving staircase. By this time I was almost upon them, and as a distraction they threw the bag with its stolen suit at me. I caught it deftly, throwing it in turn to a member of store staff, approaching to see what the kerfuffle was about.

The lads rushed over and leapt onto the descending escalator, taking the steps two at a time. They were daft if they thought I was giving up. I shot after them and down the next escalator to the ground floor. They had to cross the expanse of the cosmetic department to make it to the outside and safety, but looking around, I couldn’t see any of the security staff to call on for assistance.

The customers who were busy shopping, looked up to see these three itinerants making their escape, pushing through the crowd, and also at an obviously irritated woman giving chase. I decided to make best use of the audience, and proceeded to announce in a loud voice that I was chasing shoplifters. The crowd began to laugh as the boys finally reached the exit, pushing through the swing doors with much blasphemy and red faces. What was quite interesting, was with my announcement, several other customers made for the exits hastily!

I turned to find three store detectives standing behind me; arms crossed and disapproving looks on their faces. Apparently they wouldn’t apprehend groups of thieves, as they were usually armed with knives. My adrenaline was still up and I gave them a piece of my mind; after all it was not their jobs on the line when stock went missing. I approached the escalator to head up to the first floor and my department, only to find the general manager of the store at the top, waiting for me; also with his arms crossed.

Anyway, I of course was told off, mainly because for fears for my safety, but also for telling the customers we had a shop lifting problem. However, I did get the fixture changed next to the escalator by getting rid of the top rail, and word must have got around about the mad woman, as thefts from our department dropped dramatically.

About Jane Sturgeon

I started this blog seven years ago and it is a wonderful adventure. Being here in our Global Village has gifted treasured friendships, creative expression and woven a part of my authentic soul. I am grateful.

A new chapter is starting in my life as I have come to live by the sea. I have dreams and ideas floating up and I am sure they will find their way onto the page.

Connect to Jane

Blog: https://janesturgeon.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jslifetherapy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jane.sturgeon.505

Thank you for dropping in today and look forward to your comments. thanks Sally.

You can find all the previous posts to date in this directory.  https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/short-stories-odd-jobs-and-characters-2018/