Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Grace – The Gift by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet. This story is slightly out of season but I hope you don’t mind.

Grace – The Gift by Sally Cronin

It was Grace’s fifth birthday and the staff at the council run orphanage had made sure that there was an iced cake for tea and some small wrapped presents beside the plastic yellow plate. The children sat at tables for ten boys and ten girls, and meal times were expected to be conducted in silence. This rule was however broken on birthdays, when all fifty children would stand up and sing Happy Birthday enthusiastically in the hopes of receiving a thin slice of the oblong sponge cake.

Grace sat in silence as the noise erupted around her and gently fingered the blue and white wrapping paper on the nearest present to her. From the shape she could see that it was a book. It would not be new; a hand me down from one of the older children. Still, in this home of abandoned children, a gift was always treasured. A tear rolled down her flushed cheeks and slid into the corners of her mouth. She wiped them away hurriedly; being a cry baby was frowned upon. Gratefulness for the charity that put a roof over your head and food on the table in front of you was drummed into the children from a very early age.

The energetic rendering of the song ended and there was a scrapping of wooden chair legs as all fifty children sat down at once. Silence resumed as slices of bread and butter were grabbed and placed onto plates with well-scrubbed hands. There were four small dishes of jam around each table and the youngest children would wait their turn knowing that receiving a small spoonful would be an unusual bonus. One of the serving ladies, a local girl called Alice, took away the oblong iced sponge cake to be cut into thin slices. After Grace had been served one of the pieces; the large platter moved around the dining hall watched eagerly by fifty pairs of eyes.

Picking at the cake with trembling fingers, Grace managed to eat a few morsels before a coughing fit overtook her. The matron came across and slapped the child firmly on her back and offered her the beaker of diluted orange juice.

‘Come on girl, buck up,’ the stout grey-haired woman looked down at her sternly. ‘There is many a child here who would be delighted to have these treats’

Grace tried her best to smile knowing that being labelled ungrateful brought consequences and having been disciplined twice recently she was in no hurry to repeat the experience. It was not seen as cruelty, to stand a child in a corner for an hour at a time, or to send them to bed without even this meagre supper. Grace had felt the pangs of hunger more than once since her best friend Hope had left the orphanage.

The thought of her friend waving goodbye as she had left in her smart new tartan coat, made Grace catch her breath. To stop herself crying she pinched her arm as hard as possible. She hoped that Hope had not forgotten her now that she had a real mummy and daddy. The two girls had been brought to the orphanage within days of each other at only six weeks old in the winter of 1953; as toddlers they had become inseparable. They were so very different that no-one could mistake them for sisters. Grace had straight red hair that frizzed at the slightest dampness and freckles sprinkled her nose and cheeks. She grew rapidly into a gangly five year old whilst Hope, with her curly blonde hair and blue eyes, remained petite and doll-like.

It was always hoped that the babies who arrived at the orphanage would be adopted into a good home. Although there had been some interest initially, by the time the two girls reached four years old it was becoming more and more unlikely that this would happen.

However, a few months ago a couple had arrived and immediately taken to Hope and started the proceedings to adopt her. The two small girls had known nothing but this regimented environment, and never imagined that one day they might be separated so devastatingly.

The matron rang the large brass bell on her table. The children stood ready to file out to the games room for an hour before bedtime at seven o’clock. Grace trailed behind the other girls from her table clasping her three gifts; as yet unopened. As the older boys played with some wooden toys in the corner, some of the smaller children clustered around Grace and begged her to open the presents. As expected there was a dog-eared picture book of fairy stories which was passed around and admired. One of the other packages contained a small packet of sherbet sweets that were eagerly sampled, and in the third was a woollen scarf in a bright red colour. Grateful for its warmth, Grace wrapped around her neck and sat until bedtime looking at the pictures in her new book.

Grace had barely eaten since her birthday, and the head teacher at the primary school in the village, had rung matron to say that the child was becoming more and more withdrawn. Although strict and somewhat fierce looking, the matron was not an intentionally unkind woman and she called in the doctor from the local surgery.

He was a gruff looking man with a shaggy mane of greying hair. The children adored him because he always arrived with pockets filled with boiled sweets. He sat on the edge of Grace’s bed and having examined her carefully, he took her little hand in his.

‘Well little Grace what a pickle we are in,’ he smiled down at the solemn child. ‘It is nearly Christmas, and you will miss all the fun if you don’t start eating soon as you will have to stay in bed.’

The child turned her head away and whispered into her pillow. ‘I only want Hope to come back home for Christmas.’

The doctor returned downstairs and met with matron behind the closed door of her office.

Reluctantly at his request she made a phone call and proceeded to have a lengthy discussion with the person on the end of the line.

Having left instructions that Grace was to be fed every two to three hours with some chicken broth and a little toast and jelly if she would eat it, Doctor Baxter left to continue his rounds. He promised to return on Christmas Eve in three days to see how the patient was doing and also to carry out his annual duties as Father Christmas at the children’s party.

Grace did sip a little of the broth and nibbled at the toast, and three days later she was carried downstairs and sat on a chair near to the Christmas tree. The children had made all the decorations, and what they might have lacked in expertise, they had made up for in bright colours and glitter. Fairy lights flickered through the branches of the tree that had been donated by the villagers, along with a present for every child, in a sack placed by a big red arm chair. The presents were to be distributed before they would sit down to unusually overflowing platefuls of sandwiches, jelly and and as a very special treat, Christmas cake. The boys and girls were not sure what they were looking forward to most.

Hearing tyres on the gravel of the drive the children rushed to the windows of the dining hall and started clutching each other in excitement. Santa Claus sat in the back of a large open topped black car, and when the vehicle stopped; he opened the door and stepped out to wave to them all. They were so focused on his progress as he walked to the front door that the three other passengers in the vehicle went unnoticed.

Ten minutes later Santa was sat in his large comfortable chair. The children came up one by one to sit on his knee, and were given a present wrapped in festive paper, tied with either a blue or pink ribbon. Grace watched the proceedings quietly on the side lines until there was just one present left. Alice put down the jug of juice that she was serving to the children, and came over, picking Grace up and depositing her gently on Santa’s lap. The white faced child glanced up into a pair of twinkling eyes that looked vaguely familiar, but it was difficult to tell who was behind the big white bushy beard.

He leant down and whispered in her ear. ‘I hear that you would like something very special for Christmas, is that right little girl?’ he winked at her. ‘I hope that I’ve brought you what you wished for.’

At that moment Grace’s eyes were drawn to three people who had suddenly appeared at Santa’s shoulder. For a moment she froze in place, then pushing herself off his knee, she wrapped her arms around the small blonde girl standing in front of a smiling man and woman.

The two girls remained huddled in each other’s arms sobbing uncontrollably until the woman knelt down beside them and wiped their faces with a clean white handkerchief. Satisfied that she had managed to stop the flood of tears, she reached out and took each of their hands in her own.

‘Hope has missed you dreadfully Grace and we have heard so much about you,’ she smiled at the bewildered Grace. ‘We were all hoping that you would like to come and live with us too; as Hope’s sister.’

An hour later the group of adults watched as the two girls sat side by side at a table. They were talking non-stop except when selecting and eating another sandwich or a piece of cake. Even matron could not hold back a smile at the change in Grace now that she was reunited with her soul mate. As for Santa, he scratched his face behind the itchy beard and wished that he could capture this moment for ever.

Happy Christmas Grace…

© Sally Cronin 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – January 12th- 18th 2020


Welcome to this week’s posts on Smorgasbord that you might have missed.

I hope you have had a good week… I am in housekeeping mode both on and offline. At the moment the Cafe and Bookstore is in the middle of a facelift with the addition of both UK and US Amazon selling pages, Goodreads where the author has a page, and their website or blog. It is a work in progress so don’t worry if your entry does not reflect this change yet, it will soon.

You can help me out if you are an author on the shelves by letting me know in advance that you have a new book being released. That helps me keep your entry up to date but also ensures that you receive a new book promotion when your book is available or is on pre-order offer.

I do go through every week to check for recent reviews but with 150 authors it is easy to miss one. To keep the cafe at a manageable size, authors listed have reviews within the last six months.

A few statistics about the Cafe and Bookstore.

  • In 2019 there were 130 Cafe Updates including the summer features and Christmas book fair and 125 New book Promotions
  • The top viewed (220) New Book on the Shelves was A Bit About Britain’s History by Mike Biles
  • The average new book on the shelves promotion has over 100 views on the blog, multi-retweets on Twitter and shares on Facebook.
  • It is a free book promotion and all it costs is a little bit of your time, letting me know and responding to comments. Judging from comments, I am confident that the posts do result, in not only effective exposure for your books but also sales and more reviews.

If you are not already an author in the Cafe and Bookstore you can find all the details at this link: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore FREE Author promotion

As to my offline decluttering… with the likelihood of a move and alleged downsizing this year, I am working through my depleted but still over subscribed clothes stash. Despite my continued weight loss, I doubt that the silver lame 1970s disco trousers that I have clung on to will see the light of day (or glitter ball) again… despite the pain it will cost me it is time to send to the charity shop and hope that some other young person might enjoy taking them for a twirl… along with the last of my stilettos….(I need a hoist to keep me upright).  Still I have my glory days to remember… and I still take to the kitchen floor when the mood takes me….

Anyway.. keep dancing

And as always my thanks to the wonderful team who keep coming up with amazing posts and to you for dropping in to read them.

A wonderful introduction to the new column from D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies who explores the Realms of Relationships. She will be on her winter retreat for February but will be back in March. In this column Debby explores our communication skills both verbal and behavioural and strategies for resolving conflict.

D. G. Kaye – Exploring the Realms of Relationships

Welcome to a new series from Carol Taylor, the wonderful A – Z of Food and I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge of wonderful ingredients across the food groups, spices and herbs.

Caroly Taylor’s A – Z of Food – Almonds, Arrowroot, Aubergines and Avocado

This week on the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills   the prompt was a husband carrying his wife…

Carrot Ranch – A Dream Home by Sally Cronin

Two more stories from this collection…

Francis – Forging New Bonds by Sally Cronin

George – Playing Away from Home

This week the prompt for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 160 the prompt is ‘Calm and Present’… I have chosen the synonyms ‘Serene and Deliver’ for my Etheree.

Etheree – On the Wind by Sally Cronin

Movie Hits – Mrs Robinson – The Graduate by Simon & Garfunkel

My review for The Hat by C.S. Boyack

My thanks to Mark Bierman for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award

To start the new series, author Jacqui Murray who shares the wonderfully descriptive simile…very useful for all writers.

51 Great Similes to Spark Imagination from Jacqui Murray

#Canada, #Pottery and #Eagles by Darlene Foster

#Memoir Byte – Reminiscences of the 70s and 80s Fun and Fearless by D.G. Kaye

Scifi – The Magisters Book One by Jack Eason

Acts of Convenience by Alex Craigie

Vandana Bhasin, Smitha Vishwanath, Mae Clair, Miriam Hurdle

#Poetry Bette A. Stevens, #Fantasy Fiona Tarr, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach

#SunshineBlogger Mark Bierman, #ReadingAloud Jennie Fitzkee, #IndieShowcase Richard Dee

#Karma D.G. Kaye, #Interview Patricia Furstenberg, #Afghanistan Mary Smith

#Guest Marcia Meara with Joan Hall, #Bookclub Amy Reade, #Q&A D.G. Kaye, #Review by Michelle Clements James

#Children’sfears Becky Ross Michael, #Nonverbal Communication Jim Borden, #Familyhistory Liz Gauffreau

#Publishing 2020 Nicholas Rossis, #Freebook Olga Nunez Miret, #Flash Charli Mills Carrot Ranch

In part two I share the best sources for vitamins C to K2 to ensure your shopping list reflects what your body needs to be healthy.

Shopping List by Nutrient part two Vitamin C to K2

More funnies from Debby and a joke from Sally’s Archives

Even more funnies from Debby Gies and Sally

Thank you for dropping in today and during the week. Your support is very much appreciated. I hope you have enjoyed the posts you might have missed and look forward to your feedback. See you next week.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? – George – Playing Away from Home by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

George – Playing Away from Home by Sally Cronin

George Horsefield slowly pushed open the door of the garden shed and poked his head through the narrow opening. He slowly scanned the immediate vicinity to make sure that the dog who lived in the house behind him was not lying in wait. It was a motley small mongrel with sharp teeth and there had been a couple of occasions when those teeth had connected with his legs in a very unpleasant manner.

All seemed safe and George eased himself out onto the garden path that led to the wooden gate, but not before a quick glance behind him for a last look at his beloved. He and Mildred had been having a torrid affair throughout the summer months with secret assignations in her shed or his own. However recent events made them both aware, that for the time being, their trysts would have to come to an end.

Both structures had been cleared out, cleaned and prepared for the coming cold months. Lawnmowers had been taken apart and oiled after the final grass cutting of the year, and had been stored in one of the corners. The floors had been swept and mousetraps laid to protect the bags of seed stored on the top shelves. Old grain sacks had been pinned across the window to prevent the intrusion of any winter sunshine and the doors would be locked to prevent gale force winds from blowing them open; curtailing their delightful activities.

Mildred was sleeping peacefully, partially covered by the old plaid blanket that had kept them warm and protected their modesty should anyone enter the shed unexpectedly. George smiled to himself contentedly and could not help adding a little swagger to his walk down the path. No bad for an old codger he thought to himself as he poked his head out and checked the pavement for anyone who might know him.

The coast was clear, but he knew that any minute now, the mothers would be arriving to pick up their children from the primary school on the corner, and the area would become very busy. Hugging the hedge he moved carefully, lifting one uncooperative leg after another; muttering under his breath at the stiffness in his slightly bent knees. His earlier smugness at his athletic prowess began to fade as he struggled to cover the distance between Mildred’s house and his home. He had two garden lengths to go when disaster struck.

Ahead of him he saw the aforementioned dog sniffing her way along the pavement, lost in the scents that assailed her delicate nostrils. George knew from his previous encounters, that the monster would recognise his smell within the next few minutes; coming after him without mercy. He looked to the right and noticed that his next door neighbour’s gate was slightly ajar; with a gentle nudge he slipped rather ungracefully through the gap. He didn’t want to risk the dog following him so he pushed the barrier shut with his backside. Hearing a welcome click, he manoeuvred carefully behind the shelter of the hedge, waiting breathlessly for the animal to pass.

Outside on the pavement the dog had definitely got wind of her foe. She knew that George was up to no good in the shed and it was her job to protect the house, garden and family; including Mildred. She sniffed the air and her eyes were drawn to the closed gate. Barking madly the frenzied demon pushed and snarled at the obstacle. All it did was draw the attention of her master who was walking along behind her carrying the afternoon paper. She felt her collar being grasped firmly and was then frog-marched along the pavement and into her own garden. All she could do was whine in disappointment as she stuck her nose through the bars of the closed iron gate.

Meanwhile George was weak-kneed with relief and had to take a few minutes to recover. The pavement was beginning to fill up with mums on their way to pick up their children and rather than risk being seen, he decided to take a short cut through a large gap in the hedge that he had discovered recently. As he began to ease through the foliage he realised that it was only just in time; it was clear his absence had been noticed. He might have been a bit of a Jack the lad with Mildred, but he felt he had just cause. The mother of his children, boys he loved dearly, was a fire-breathing dragon of the worst kind and through the evergreen barrier he could hear her shouting.

‘George, come out wherever you are,’ she paused for a moment obviously scanning his usual hiding places. ‘Come along you dirty old devil, I have got better things to do than chase you about the place.’

The subject of her ire stayed stock still; poised in the middle of the hedge waiting until he heard the slam of the kitchen door. It was now safe to make his laborious way across the uneven lawn. Carefully he tip-toed into the gloomy garden shed and feigning sleep, he settled down waiting to be discovered.

A few minutes later he heard childish laughter and running feet heading for the house. He knew that after a tea of beans on toast and rice-pudding with strawberry jam he would be joined here in the shed by the three lads. Sticky fingers would nudge him awake and he would be given delightful cuddles and regaled with the adventures of the day.

He was dozing happily, dreaming of Mildred and their next encounter when he felt himself lifted up into the air and gently deposited into a large plastic box.. Beneath him he could smell fresh garden compost and he wiggled his toes as he settled himself down. A lid was placed over the container and through the holes above him he could hear the one of the children whispering to him.

‘Goodnight George, sleep tight and see you in the spring.’

Then the dragon spoke. ‘Thank goodness for that, at least we will know where the old boy is for the next few months. I swear I never knew that a tortoise could be so much trouble.’

© Sally Cronin 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – A Dream Home by Sally Cronin


This week on the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills   the prompt was a husband carrying his wife… interesting…

A Dream Home by Sally Cronin

As a girl she didn’t dream of fairy tale weddings or fancy white dresses. She was an orphan, in and out of foster homes, and all she wanted was a house of her own. They met at the local community centre; a carpenter, his hands worn and callused. He asked her what her dream was and she shared her vision. He said nothing, just smiled and nodded. Today, in her simple blue dress, carrying a posy of wild flowers, he swept her into his arms and through the door of the home he had built to show his love.

©Sally Cronin 2020

If you would like to participate in this week’s challenge you have until 14th January: Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills

My latest release contains a section of flash fiction as well as verse and speculative short stories..

Amazon £3.50:Amazon UK

And $4.53Amazon US

Thank you for dropping in today and as always your feedback is very welcome..Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name?- Francis – Forging New Bonds by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Francis – Forging new bonds

Francis Baxter checked into the hotel in the middle of Chamonix on the Friday night and tired from his long journey headed off to bed and slept for ten hours straight.

He woke to find the sun streaming in through the windows of his suite and a craving for several cups of strong coffee. He showered and sat in the extremely fluffy bath robe supplied by the exclusive hotel and waited for room service to send up his breakfast. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He didn’t want to think about Chrissie back home in Houston or Dane and Shannon finishing off their semester before heading home for the Easter holidays. He hadn’t informed anyone, not even his business partner of twenty years, where he was going; he had not switched on his mobile since landing in Geneva yesterday.

Unfortunately denial did not stop the rush of thoughts and emotions that had been triggered two days ago when Chrissie has asked for a divorce. Their discussion that had developed into a full-blown argument replayed in his head over and over. Her accusation that he was more interested in his work and making money than their marriage, and that she no longer loved him had established itself front and centre in his mind; he had not seen that coming.

He knew that he was ambitious and he and Richard, his partner, worked long hours keeping their accountancy business afloat in these uncertain times. Yes, they played golf at the weekends but it was their way of unwinding after a long week. He admitted to himself that there were too many dinners in the city with major clients but they required constant attention.

The fact was that without the business they would not have the big house, fancy cars and vacations. He had thought that Chrissie was content with the trappings that came with his job; he was furious with himself for missing all the signs and taking so much for granted.

There was a discreet knock on the door and Francis walked over to admit the uniformed waiter who wheeled in a laden trolley. Having slipped the young guy a generous tip, Francis settled down at the table and contemplated his breakfast. Suddenly he had little appetite so sipped his strong black coffee and flicked through one of the local guides that were spread out in front of him.

The truth was that he knew this area quite well as he had lived here as a child with his French mother and American father who was an artist. They had moved to the United States when he was twelve years old which is why, when faced with this bombshell he had chosen to run as far as he could; to somewhere he still considered his home. A picture captured his attention as he automatically turned the pages in the glossy brochure. It was of a place that he remembered from his childhood when he and his parents would take long treks at the weekend up the sides of the surrounding mountains. His father would carry the rucksack containing their lunch which always consisted of a fresh baked baguette from the local cafe along with fresh tomatoes and a tub of rich homemade mayonnaise. They would find a perch above the valley and the three of them would break the bread into chunks, add a dollop of mayo, a couple of slices of the bright red tomato and it tasted heavenly.

This reminded him that he was actually hungry right now. He decided to tuck into the now cooling omelette and croissant; he was going to need some fuel for the walk he now planned to take.

Francis opened his suit carrier which he had hurriedly thrown random clothes into and realised that he was not equipped for hiking. He pulled on some jeans and a sweat shirt and headed downstairs and out into the main street. The shops didn’t open until later in the morning, but he spent his time well, window shopping and popping into a bakery for another coffee and some supplies for his hike. He returned to one of the sports outfitters that he had scoped out earlier and bought some jeans, boots, parka and a rucksack. He also picked up a detailed guide to the trails, not trusting his memory completely, and a water bottle. He returned to the hotel and quickly changed into his new clothes. At the last minute he added his mobile phone to the essentials in his rucksack for safety reasons and headed down the corridor to the elevator.

Two hours later, after realising how out of shape he was, Francis breathlessly reached his destination. The roar of the torrent of water that rushed down the mountainside from the spring melt filled the air and the scent of pine was strong in his nostrils. Memories flooded back of a different time when every spare moment that he had was filled with activities like this. His parents always seemed to be there beside him hiking, skiing and sledding down moonlit slopes close to the town. He remembered drinking hot chocolate around the fire at a local inn and being included even when there were adult guests around the big kitchen table for fondue. What he could not remember was the last time that he, Chrissie and the kids had spent any time together or even enjoyed a family meal.

He viewed the narrow footbridge across the gorge that he needed to cross to reach the small building clinging to the rock face on the other side of the raging river. It had carried thousands across safely over the hundreds of years that it had existed but a little hesitantly he walked over watching the flood waters racing beneath him.

Francis knew what to expect as he opened the door into the little chapel but was still unprepared for the wave of emotion that swept through him. Sunlight fought to gain entry into the tiny space through small windows fashioned into the thick outer wall. The faint rays illuminated the walls of stone and the shrine at its heart. Francis walked slowly inside and stood for a moment with his head bowed. Around him in the cracks in the walls, hundreds of small slips of paper caught the light. They were the prayers and supplications of people across time that had needed guidance and restoration of faith. Townspeople had walked up from the valley and travellers through the passes had stopped for a brief respite and comfort. Their combined presence had created a vortex of emotion and the hair on the back of Francis’s neck stood on end.

He had never been a religious man but he knew that this place was a spiritual oasis where all could regain their strength and sense of purpose. He remained for a few minutes longer and then gently closing the door behind him he walked back across the bridge. Gradually the feelings that had been triggered so forcefully subsided and in their place came clarity.

He walked down the trail until he reached a point overlooking the town. He sat on a warm rock and opened his rucksack. He broke the baguette into four pieces and liberally spread fresh mayonnaise on each piece before adding a thick slice of tomato with a little salt. He ate his simple meal as he contemplated his next move.

Satisfied now in body and soul he picked up his mobile and switched it back on. Ignoring all the texts and messages waiting for him; he made two calls. The first to Chrissie that lasted a long time and ended with his satisfied smile; the second that was equally lengthy to his business partner. He packed up the remains of his lunch and headed back down into the town where he spent the next few hours visiting chalet rental offices

For the first time in years, Francis felt that he was where he belonged and a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders. Chrissie would be arriving tomorrow and then next week Dane and Shannon would join them. It was time to repair those bonds that had been broken and to forge new ones that were stronger and would last a lifetime.

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 5th – 11th January 2020 – Count Basie, Phosphorus, Reviews, New Books, Bloggers and Funnies.


Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed during the week here on Smorgasbord.

It seems to take longer each year to get back to normal after the holidays. Almost the middle of January and at least spring always appears to be around the corner once we get into this part of the year. Nothing startling happening around the house as we are waiting for dry weather to get in stones for drainage and topsoil to finish the piece where the new fence has been erected. We have adopted a much more relaxed approach to these jobs now, as nothing we do or say is going to make the weather more amenable to our needs!

Never mind, there is plenty of warmth and friendship online to enjoy and we could have it a great deal worse. As the fires in Australia continue, we can only be grateful for days of rain and the ability to live safely. The devastation and loss of life and wildlife is something that will take decades to fully recover from and it must be a huge worry for relatives of families in the areas under attack.

As always my thanks to the regular contributors and to you for dropping in and supporting us with your comments and sharing of posts.

This week William shares the music of the legendary Count Basie – 1904 – 1984

William Price King with Count Basie

In the final post of this series Carol Taylor and I team up to share the symptoms of a deficiency of Phosphorus and the foods you need to include in your diet regularly.

This week cooking from scratch to prevent a deficiency of phosphorus

This month Silvia Todesco shows us how to make authentic pesto sauce, and essential ingredient in pasta sauces.

Pesto alla Genovese sauce, ten tricks for the best result

What I wish I knew then by Pete Springer

My review for Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney

My review #Mystery Watching Glass Shatter by James M. Cudney

Two more stories from this collection…

Eric – Just Making Do

Fionnuala The Swan

For the first Tuesday in the month for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 159 it is poet’s choice.  I have selected a Butterfly Cinquain…

Butterfly Cinquain – Friendship

Unarranged Marriage by Ritu Bhathal on pre-order February 9th.

Beck ‘n’ Call Lands of Exile Book 2 by Stuart France and Sue Vincent

The Old Gilt Clock by Paulette Mahurin

Thriller Carol Balawyder, Mystery Diana J. Febry, Afghanistan Patricia Furstenberg

Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, Thriller Don Massenzio, Prehistory Jacqui Murray

Book Review Michelle Clements James, Book Launch Tips Mary Smith, Climate Change Carol Taylor

Movie Review D.G. Kaye, Funnies The Story Reading Ape, Measurements Beetley Pete

Recipes Amy Reade, Tarot Jan Sikes, Interview Jane Risdon

Carol Taylor – Whimsical Wednesdays – Robbie Cheadle Book review, Marcia Meara with a marketing opportunity

Aurora Jean Alexander – Books, Inspiration Charli Mills, Japanese Poetry Colleen Chesebro

Here is part one of an alternative shopping list that your body might write if it was capable. It does try to tell you that it is missing elements that it needs which is when you are sick. This list contains the top sources for the nutrients our bodies need to be healthy.

Shopping List by Nutrient – Vitamins A- B

More funnies from Debby and a joke from Sally’s Archives

More funnies and an invitation to join in the fun

Thank you for all your support and wishing you a great week ahead. Look forward to seeing you here again.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? – Fionnuala – The Swan by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Fionnuala – The Swan

Fionnuala Garvin was pinned to the wall of the toilet block. Her small hands were pressed back onto the cold red brick as her shoulders were firmly clamped beneath the stubby fingers attached to grubby hurtful hands. The pain from this mauling was excrutiating, as her white blonde hair was trapped beneath the vicious fingers and her scalp felt like it was on fire. With her fragile swan-like neck, slight frame and skinny legs she did not look twelve years old and right now she wished she was back in primary school where life had been so much kinder.

Her lower lip trembled,and she tried not to cry as the onslaught continued, unseen by the teacher on monitor duty in the playground. This was Ciaran Walsh’s favourite spot for tormenting the younger children, and extorting their lunch from them, and today he was in an even worse mood than usual. Not the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer, at fifteen he was failing a number of subjects. Just this morning he had been sentenced to a week of detention for failing to hand in an essay for his history class. He was looking to take out his rage on someone.

Fionnuala or Nola as she was known to her friends was terrified. Normally there would have been two rounds of cheese sandwiches and an apple in the satchel now lying at her feet, but today she had forgotten to pick the brown paper bag up from the counter in the kitchen at home. Without these essential bargaining chips, she was going to be in for a hiding.

Ciaran’s breath smelled rank and his stained teeth offered plenty of evidence of what he had eaten for breakfast and lack of an acquaintance with a toothbrush. He brought his cavernous mouth close to Nola’s terrified face and spat out his demands.

‘Fionnuala Garvin. You are mine and I own you. Give me your lunch now or I will pinch your arms until they are black and blue’. He sneered viciously and pressed further into her body.

Just then large hands descended on Nola’s attacker’s upper arms, and he was virtually lifted into the air, and shoved back out into the playground. Ciaran steadied himself and poised for a counter attack but stopped abruptly in his tracks. He looked up into the eyes of a tall and well-built senior from sixth year and knew that he would be hard pressed to better him in a straight fight. The older boy stood protectively in front of Nola and with a quick check to make sure his young charge was not hurt in any way, he turned back to Ciaran who was still mulling over his options.

‘Ciaran Walsh I know how to find you and it won’t be just me next time, you need to get your sorry act together. Get back to class and I will be watching your every move from now on; just feck off.’

The disgruntled bully turned and nonchalantly headed off back into school and tried to ignore the smirks on the faces of the bystanders who had witnessed the altercation. Unfortunately as he reached the steps leading up to the main entrance, he tripped and almost fell; gales of laughter followed him as he hurried through the wide blue doors.

Meanwhile Nola’s rescuer put a consoling arm around her shoulders and steered her towards her classmates. They had remained huddled together awaiting the outcome of this daily assault on any of their members foolish enough to get separated from the pack.

‘Listen to me,’ the tall lad addressed the white-faced group. ‘My name is Patrick Flanagan and you must come and tell me if this happens again. He smiled at his new devotees. ‘My friends and I will do our best to keep that one out of trouble in the future.’ He left unaware of the admiring glances and excited whispers behind him.

Ten years later Nola checked herself in the mirror before heading downstairs; she never grew tired of seeing herself in her Garda uniform. Following her training she had been posted to this town in the heart of a farming community and after a year in the job she could honestly say that there was little she did not enjoy. She went downstairs following the aroma of scrambled eggs on toast with a rasher of bacon that her husband Patrick had laid on the table. He turned from the cooker with his own plate and they sat across from each other eating leisurely and enjoying this rare breakfast together. He was a doctor at a hospital in the nearby city and their shift patterns did not always allow for regular meals; when they did manage to get time it was precious.

He kissed her goodbye and watched her through the kitchen window as she backed her car out of the drive. He had some time before his shift started, and as he cleared the breakfast crockery away he reflected on what a lucky man he was. Who could have thought that the little blonde waif that he had rescued that day in the playground, would end up becoming his wife.

He was very proud of her and knew that she had passed every examination and physical test with flying colours. That did not however stop him from worrying about her safety, especially as he saw the results of violence associated with crime on a far too regular basis.

The object of his thoughts was not unaware of her husband’s concerns, and that drove Nola to even more excellence when it came to training and attention to detail. She had two hours before her shift began and she was headed to a physical training session with her partner on the force. He might be a great friend to both she and Patrick, but once they hit that mat they would fight hard for the win.

Dressed in her sweat pants and t-shirt, Nola faced off against her partner. They circled each other waiting for the slightest move that would indicate an attack. Although taller and broader than Nola, her opponent was light on his feet and his muscled body moved agilely across the mat.

Seeing what he perceived as an opening; he reached out and managed to place a hand on Nola’s shoulder. The next thing he knew he was on his back with one arm held upright; his hand bent forward in a tight grip.

Nola leant forward close to the face of her partner who was grinning up at her with his killer smile; the one that had the girls falling at his own feet.

‘Ciaran Walsh, you are mine and I own you. Buy me lunch or I will pinch your arms until they are black and blue.’

© Sally Cronin

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

More What’s in a Name short Stories next weekend.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? Eric – Just Making Do by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Eric – Just Making Do

Eric stood in front of the mirror and for a moment deliberately avoided putting his glasses on. All he could see was a blur and therefore could just about pass muster. Behind him he could feel the presence of his wife Billie and knew what she was going to say.

‘Eric, love you have let yourself go,’ there would be disappointment in her voice.

He slipped his spectacles on and his image immediately appeared all too clearly. He did a quick head to toe scrutiny. Muddy red hair streaked with grey, too long about the ears and hanging over the neck of his dressing gown. Three days’ worth of beard as he only shaved once a week when going to the supermarket for the shopping. His tatty t-shirt that he wore over his ancient pyjama bottoms sported faded lettering that read Grateful Dead; his slippers had a hole where his big toe poked through.

Yes, Billie would have definitely gone to town on him.

He debated whether to pull the bedroom curtains or not and decided to leave them for two very good reasons. Firstly, letting daylight in would illuminate the state of the room which was a shambles, and secondly, it might signal to Mrs Green across the road that he was alive and would welcome her advances.

He left the drapes undisturbed and shuffled out onto the landing and down the stairs to the chilly hall. Damn, he had left the kitchen window open again. He wasn’t bothered by burglars since there was little of value to be taken except for his photograph album, and that was safely locked away behind the big seascape on the dining room wall. The safe also held a few precious mementos such as the leather box that contained Billie’s few bits of good jewellery; her bling as she called it. Her engagement and wedding rings, some earrings she had inherited from her mother and a watch that he had splashed out on for their 25th wedding anniversary.

He wandered into the kitchen and put the kettle on and measured out some oats into a bowl with some water. He stuck that in the microwave and closed the offending window that had let the cold night air into the house. Three pings announced that his porridge was ready and he threw a teabag into a mug of boiling water. There was a few inches of milk in the bottle in the fridge and he poured some over the oats and into the mug. That left enough for a coffee later, but having forgotten to put the item on his list three days ago; it looked like he would have to venture forth after all to the shop on the corner.

He carefully carried the bowl and mug into the dining room and stopped dead. There, sat on one of the dining-room chairs was a cat. A ginger and black cat to be exact and it was looking at him expectantly. Eric nearly dropped the bowl and tea on the floor and just managed to reach the table and lay them down before slopping hot liquid all over his hands.

His visitor remained impassive and kept eye contact, which rather disconcerted Eric who was not used to animals, especially cats. Billie had been allergic to them and since they had travelled a great deal, particularly when he had retired from the police force, there had never been an opportunity to bring one into their home.

The cat was virtually the first visitor to the house in the year since his wife had died. One or two of the neighbours had popped in with shepherd’s pie or offers to come to Sunday lunch, but after several polite rejections of both food and invitations they had given up on him.

Except of course for Widow Twanky across the road who was looking for husband number four. Perhaps his having been a copper had a bearing on the lack of neighbourly communication. There was no doubt that they liked having one on the street as a deterrent to some of the criminal fraternity, but socialising was quite another thing. You never know what guilty secret might slip out after a couple of glasses of wine.

His friends from the force had tried to encourage him out of his self-imposed exile too, with telephone calls asking him to join them at their old watering hole, The Bugle. He just couldn’t face their sympathy or the awkward silences in the middle of a busy night in the pub. Eric was also terrified that he would embarrass himself by blubbering into his beer at the first kind word.

Since the cat was making no move to vacate the chair he usually sat on; he moved to the other side of the table and placed his now cooling porridge in front of him. The creature was still giving him the once over and then offered its opinion in the form of an elongated meow that sounded rather unflattering. Eric raised his hand to his shaggy head and tried to smooth his hair into place. He felt very disconcerted by the direct gaze of his uninvited guest and thought perhaps an offer of some of his porridge might divert its attention.

There was a saucer on the table under a dead house plant that looked reasonably clean and he carefully poured a little of the lukewarm porridge with its milky topping onto the china. He laid it down in front of the cat and watched to see if this would be acceptable. With impeccable manners it delicately placed two front paws on the table and gently lapped at the offering; still keeping both eyes firmly on its host. Eric shrugged and proceeded to eat his breakfast and drink his tea, also keeping eye contact with his feline intruder.

Several days passed and Eric got into the habit of leaving the kitchen window open each night. Every morning he would poke his head around the door to the dining room and sure enough his new companion would be waiting on the chair expectantly.

In the first two or three days the cat would leave its designated chair and disappear into the kitchen after consuming its own bowl of porridge. Eric could hear the faint sound of paws on the marble surface; followed by the sound of a slight scramble as it left through the open window. He was surprised to feel a sense of loss.

It was not long before the visitor, who Eric had named Doris, was dropping off the chair and crossing to the sofa where she would settle herself in to sleep away the morning. She might pop out of the window from time to time but always returned to the warm patch she had fashioned for herself. Eric had established by careful scrutiny that Doris was indeed a girl and that he had not insulted some tetchy tomcat; within a few days she would lift her head when he called her name.

Eric found himself shaving every morning as he needed to go out more often to buy fresh milk and also tins of cat food. He began to open the curtains in his bedroom and the washing machine began to hum in the background more often. Doris would sit in a patch of sunlight in any of the rooms that he happened to be in, and gradually over the next month, both man and house came back to life. A visit to the barbers and a rifle through the sale items in the supermarket had resulted in some new clothes,slippers and also a couple of pairs of pyjamas.

They lived together but remained aloof. It was to be six weeks before Doris approached him as he sat leafing through his photograph album on the other end of the sofa where she normally lay. He tentatively put out his hand and stroked the top of her head and then down her sleek back which she obligingly arched. She nudged closer and he placed his arm around her. He was amazed by the loudness of the delighted purr that vibrated in her chest.

He looked back down at the album open to the photographs of his and Billie’s wedding day forty five years ago. It was the sixties and his long red hair hung down to his shoulders; his lovely Billie who had only been twenty at the time had sparkled in her cream dress and fake fur cape. She used to call him her Viking warrior, and would tell him as they lay in each other’s arms at night, how safe he made her feel.

Tears filled his eyes and they dropped onto the plastic film that protected the photos. Some splashed onto the hand that was holding his warm companion close to him and he felt her rough tongue lick the moisture away. He smiled down at her and then gently wiped the tears from the album. Billie’s last words to him had been to beg him to find happiness again one day and not to live alone. He took his arm from around Doris; closed the album firmly and placed it on the table beside the sofa.

‘How do you fancy a bit of tuna for supper Doris?’ He rubbed a tender spot beneath her chin.

‘Then I have to pop out for a couple of hours to meet some old work mates down the pub.’

© Sally Cronin

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up 29th December to 4th January 2020 –


Welcome to the first round up of 2020 with a posts that you might have missed during the week.

It was a quiet Christmas and New Year for us and we enjoyed taking it easy and watching favourite movies and series again. Including the Millennium Trilogy featuring the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the first three books… in Swedish with sub-titles. Brilliant.

From January 13th we will be treated to the first of the new series by D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies on another of her areas of expertise… relationships. She is going to introduce the column and then she will begin the series in March on her return from her winter sunshine in Mexico. I am really looking forward to her insight and I am sure you will enjoy too.

 

Carol Taylor will also be changing her column from the 15th of January. There is one more cooking from scratch to prevent deficiency this coming week with Phosphorous as the nutrient in question… and then Carol will be featuring her A – Z of food every two weeks. She is going to be getting her cookbook and novel ready to be published this year (no pressure then Carol ♥) I think you will find you will be expanding your shopping list by the end of the year to include new and healthy foods to enjoy.

Silvia Todesco will also be continuing her column on Italian Cookery throughout the year and we will be starting the new series this coming Thursday with an essential ingredient to many pasta dishes and synonymous with Italian cookery… homemade pesto sauce.  Then a new dish every month for you to try and enjoy.

William Price King is of course going to be providing the music for the blog again this year with his extensive background in jazz, classical and contemporary music, we have been privileged to enjoy a masterclass every two weeks. I have always loved music and have discovered so many more artists to listen to and a better understanding of the different styles across the decades. William is back this coming Tuesday with the legendary Count Basie.

Time to catch up on the posts from the week.

My New Year’s Eve Post with special thanks to the contributors to the blog this year.

Happy New Year

A new series of Posts from Your Archives featuring two of your favourite posts from 2019.. full details in the post.

New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

I continue with the stories from What’s in a Name during the week.

Celia – Crisis of Faith

Clive – The Debt

David – In Remembrance

Diana – Full of Grace

Elaine – A Shining Light

Time for the first Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills of the year and this week we are offered the chance to write about a hutch… either as a piece of furniture or an animal hutch.

The Rabbit Hutch

The final posts in this year’s Christmas book fair with more of my recommended reads for 2019.  Here are just a handful that I recommend..you can find the rest in the post.

More Recommended books by Sally

Author update.

Marcia Meara, Karen Ingalls, Lorinda J. Taylor

Robbie Cheadle, C.S. Boyack, Eloise de Sousa

Mary Adler, Jane Sturgeon, Sally Cronin

Charli Mills, John W. Howell, James J. Cudney

Over the last year I gave up sugar in most forms including alcohol and am now three stone lighter and considerably fitter. This post is how I achieved that.

My year without sugar and the results

More funnies from Debby and a joke from Sally’s Archives

Even more funnies from Debby Gies and Sally

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope to see you again next week…Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge – The Rabbit Hutch by Sally Cronin


Time for the first Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills of the year and this week we are offered the chance to write about a hutch… either as a piece of furniture or an animal hutch.

Image Tumbledrose.com

The Rabbit Hutch by Sally Cronin

Her kids wanted new things for their children and Milly decided to have a garage sale for toys she had hoarded. Neighbors came and went, but one little boy stood in front of the rabbit hutch all morning. She had put 20 dollars on the ticket as they were expensive to buy new. He clasped a dollar bill in his hand. “My dad says I can have a rabbit when I can buy the hutch”. A tear rolled down his cheek. He raced down the street waving the sold ticket in his hand and she smiled at his joy.

©Sally Cronin 2020

If you would like to participate in this week’s challenge here is the link: January 2nd 2020 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge

My latest release contains a section of flash fiction as well as verse and speculative short stories..

Amazon £3.50:Amazon UK

And $4.53: Amazon US

Thank you for dropping in today and as always your feedback is very welcome..Sally.