Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – The House by the Sea – Final Part by Paul Andruss


Yesterday Patrick Noone discovered the joy and freedom of life beneath and in the waves of the sea with Muireann. Sadness enters his life however and his swimming lessons are put on hold. Will this mysterious woman wait for him? Paul Andruss takes us into the final chapter.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA –Final Part by Paul Andruss

A month short of being twenty-one, Patrick was summoned home from work to meet a fancy lawyer from the country town. Biddy, with a deference Patrick had never seen before in his life, showed him into the parlour, previously only used for Pat’s funeral, and meekly poured tea, served in her best china. She indicated Patrick to sit down in one of the good armchairs; and him in his rough and shite and all.

The lawyer began without preamble. ‘Patrick Noone, on reaching your majority, you will inherit your father’s share of his business, this house, freehold and without lien, and a capital sum standing at a little over two thousand five hundred pounds, representing invested profits. As you are probably aware your aunt was able to draw on this for your support over the years, however it must be said, she has behaved admirably.

‘I have been instructed to inform you by your father’s old partner, a Mr O’Leary, now of Cork, he would like you to take your place in the firm. I believe he was kept abreast of your upbringing by your aunt.’

Biddy nodded.

‘Is it to do with my father’s fishing boat?’ Patrick asked Biddy.

The lawyer answered. ‘I believe that was the original company. However Mr. O’Leary subsequently built up a successful business of three merchant cargo steamers. He is making a very generous offer.

‘I do understand this is a lot to digest, young man; hence my early announcement. As I am affiliated to the company’s legal firm, I am instructed to offer whatever guidance you require over the coming month.’

Picking up his satchel, the lawyer took out a sheaf of papers. ‘I would suggest you review these and that we meet in my office in a fortnight to discuss your questions. I will send an appointment letter.’ He looked Patrick up and down. ‘I also suggest I introduce you to my tailor.’

He put out his hand for Patrick to shake and rather awkwardly Patrick stood to take the proffered hand in his own dirty paw. The lawyer’s expression did not change at all.

‘Delighted, I will see you in two weeks then.’

‘So what are yer thinkin?’ Biddy asked after the lawyer left.

‘I’m not too sure what I’m thinking.’

‘Give it time,’ Biddy answered.

After telling Ron the foreman, Patrick asked if he could carry on working, until they replaced him. He had wanted to say until he had decided what to do but thought Ron would not believe him. He barely believed himself. He said he would have to go home each night rather than sleeping in the camp. There were papers to look at, and things to think about.

In truth, the only thing Patrick wanted to think about was Muireann. He wanted to know if he had lost her forever. Each evening he’d stand on the beach, looking forlornly out to sea, praying she’d appear. When it got too dark, he’d reluctantly head off home. One precious night, he saw a solitary dark head break the waves. Carelessly he ran into the surf, calling out her name; slapping the water, shouting himself hoarse. By some miracle she came, swimming through the wine dark sea under a violet sky.

Peering through the deepening gloom, his heart sank every time he lost her in the swell and surged as she reappeared. Suddenly the head appeared so close he could clearly see it was a curious seal. For a few long seconds, it stared at him with large dark eyes, before diving underwater.

He swore there and then in his anguish if he could but see her one more time. Mermaid, fairy; no matter what she was, he would declare undying love and put his life in her hands. Declare it while he could: before his whole life changed and she was forever lost.

Walking back to the house Patrick thought he heard singing on the wind, faint but unmistakeable, like the song that haunted his childhood dreams. That night he prayed. He who never prayed, who had never asked anyone for anything, prayed to God and Jesus and the Holy Mother, to Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, to his mother in case she was in heaven, and his Uncle Pat and his father who already were.

The next day, at twilight, Patrick’s prayers were answered. Muireann waited on the beach wearing her antique green dress. Heart singing, he ran to her. All he wanted to do was sweep her up in his arms. To kiss her, and to have her kiss him back. She stopped him before he could touch her.

‘I tried to stay away’, she told him, ‘but seeing you unhappy…’

‘I knew it was you.’

She hushed him. ‘I am not what you think.’

I don’t care what you are. I love you.’

‘And I love you too. I always have, for your whole life. ’ she replied. ‘Patrick, I am your mother.’

He felt as if the whole world was falling in. He couldn’t speak; couldn’t look at her.

Her voice was gentle. ‘We of the Selkie live in the sea, only casting off our seal skins to come ashore. If our skins are taken we remain prisoners on dry land.’

‘My father?’

‘I loved your father Patrick, loved him so much I gave up everything. We hatched a plan to keep my seal skin locked securely in a chest. He said he would always wear the key over his heart, as a sign of our love. I returned with you one day to find his sister in the house. The chest dragged from its hiding pace with lid flung open. My sealskin, draped over a chair, had lost its sheen. It looked stiff and dry as old leather. It brought tears to my eyes. I was filled irrational longing.

‘He told me to tell you he doesn’t love you any more,’ his sister told me as I stared at my unloved skin. ‘Said, I should burn that auld thing.

‘How could it not be true? She knew our greatest secret. He must have given her the key to open the chest. Madness descended on me. I was afraid she would take my skin and throw it in the fire. I snatched it up. She grabbed you. ‘Go’, she snarled, ‘he wants you gone.’

‘All I could think was to save my skin; to bring back its gloss and shine. As soon as I felt the cold caress of the waves, felt my two skins bond, my form change, I remembered she had you. But what could I do? You were born without a skin. And I was unable to step on land until a year passed for each year spent in mortal form.’

His mother’s large brown eyes filled with tears. ‘I used to sing to you. Did you hear me?’

He nodded slowly, blubbering, ‘He never stopped loving you. He thought you left him; was terrified you’d come for me.’

His mother hugged him, tenderly pulling down his head to nestle in the crook between her shoulder and neck, gently stroking his hair. Although Patrick was taller and broader than she, he instinctively knew these were the arms he remembered caressing him as a child.

‘I know he loved me. I was the one who found him,’ she gently told her son. ‘He swam too long, too far, searching for me. The key, our key was still around his neck. And then I knew she lied. And he did too. Knew she’d betrayed the secret he shared with the sister he loved.

‘I brought him home to the strand in front of the house, waiting with him all night until the sky grew pale. I saw you leave for school, with her waving you off at the door. I waited until you were gone and called out.

‘Although she only heard the bark of a seal, she knew it was me. She seized the axe from the woodpile and came charging down the beach. When she saw him, she knew. I saw it in her face; all her schemes born from bitterness unravelling.

‘She dropped the axe, falling down in a heap, weeping and keening over what she’d done.

We stayed until the sun rose high, wife and sister with the man they loved, who had each thought in their own way to make him happy and between them destroyed him.

‘When she stopped crying she looked up, blowing her nose on her sleeve. It seemed as if some part was broken, or something inside had died. I turned back to the sea leaving her alone with her sin.’

When he got home, Patrick told Biddy he had met his mother on the beach. Biddy said nothing, putting out the dinner in silence. When he was in bed she knocked on his door and came uninvited into his room.

‘It wasn’t what you think,’ she began. ‘I was at me wits end with yer poor Uncle Pat shivering in two damp rooms an her, that godless creature, throwing the fact she wanted for nothing in me face; what with yer father, and you, and this fine big house.’

Patrick said nothing, pretending to be asleep until Biddy stumbled to a halt and left. Unable to sleep he got up before first light and made his way to work. Taking foreman Ron to one side he asked for his due wages. With none to be had until Saturday, the lads had a whip round scraping together what they could. A passing cart gave him a lift to the station up the line. From there took the train to the country town, where he told the lawyer he would like to take up Mr O’Leary’s offer. He then instructed the lawyer to sell the house by the sea and settle an adequate sum on his aunt.

Arriving in Cork Patrick lodged with Mr O’Leary and his wife. In time he fell in love with and married Mr O’Leary’s eldest daughter Kathleen. An arrangement, that must be said, suited all parties. His aunt did not come to the wedding; although his cousin did.

Patrick’s cousin was a pretty young thing. Some might call her beautiful with her thick dark curls and large soulful eyes that turned many a young man’s head at the wedding party. Although some young women cattily remarked, as some will when alone together at social gatherings where they feel ignored, that the darkness of her eyes, hair and brows left her skin looking pale as ivory and her generous lips quite pinched and bloodless.

©Paul Andruss 2018

© Image The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin

I am sure that you have enjoyed this story as much as I have and a huge thanks to Paul for the enormous amount of time spent in writing it for us.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks

Thank you for visiting and enjoy the rest of the week. Sally.

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Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – The House by the Sea – Part Four by Paul Andruss


In yesterday’s chapter we meet a woman who seems impervious to the cold as she swims naked in the sea. Patrick Noone is enthralled by her exotic behaviour and agrees to meet her and learn how to swim….Paul Andruss continues the story.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Part Four – Paul Andruss

Biddy wanted to know why he was soaking wet. He could not tell her about the woman. No, he did not want to tell her. So he made up some tall tale about falling in the woods, getting covered in mud from head to foot, and washing himself in the sea. Biddy stared gimlet-eyed like she didn’t believe a word.

‘Yer stupid get,’ she said eventually. ‘Now get outta them wet things an get some aul newspapers stuffed in them boots to dry them out by the stove.’

That night all Patrick thought about was the strange woman. He wasn’t stupid. He knew no ordinary woman could swim naked in a storm-ripped winter sea. It came as no surprise her name was Muireann. He knew the story of Muireann from school; a mermaid caught long ago in Lough Neagh in the North, who became a woman when baptised by some old saint.

All his life Patrick had heard the old stories of mermaids drowning sailors or bad fairies dragging children down to the green weeds of the river bed. But if she’d wanted him dead, she could a done it there and then. She didn’t need to offer to teach him to swim. No, whatever she was, he was sure she meant no harm.

Saturday afternoon found Patrick on the beach. He had taken off his boots and socks, along with his jacket, trousers and shirt, to stand shivering in the wind off the sea, naked except his oldest patched pair of long underpants. The ones he knew Biddy would never miss.

Muireann did not come from the sea, but walked along the wind whipped sand in an faded dress of spoilt green satin and forlorn lace. It looked as if it might have once been worn by a fine lady a hundred years ago. Its long full skirt swept the sand smooth. Its trace washed away in turn by the tide.

The dress was wet and clung to every curve. He thought it strange as her hair and skin were dry. Her thick dark hair curled unbound to the waist. Sleek and glossy, it looked as if it had been brushed until it gleamed. Eyes, dark and lustrous as he remembered, left her skin pale as ivory; her full lips looked bloodless with the cold. He thought her beautiful.

‘Don’t you look handsome,’ she remarked.

Handsome or not he found himself lost for words, and felt his face colour. He stood watching her watching him, as the cold spray plastered the thin fabric of his underpants to every muscle. Without a word she reached out to take his hands and walking backward drew him into the sea.

‘Do not be afraid,’ she he told him.

‘I’m not afraid.’

‘It feels cold at first but that is the wind on the waves. Take a deep breath and fall to me.’

He closed his eyes and squeezing her hands fearfully, did what he was told. There was a moment of panic as his feet went from under him, but her grip held firm. Under the waves it felt warm, or at least not cold. He felt light as air and just as free. He put his head up to take another breath and plunged it back underwater, opening his eyes to a brief sting of salt. He laughed. The air bubbling from of his mouth forced him to find his feet and stand with the waves crashing from waist to chest.

‘Do you like it?’ she asked.

He nodded, eager; greedy; happy as a child on his birthday.

‘A deep breath,’ she instructed.

He breathed and together they plunged beneath the waves.

They say everyone favours one of the four elements. Some breeze through life with laughter in their heart. Some light up the world around them, though they may be changeable as the day is long. Others, solid and dependable, will not be moved if they know they are right. They thirst for justice and are good to have standing at your side in troubled times. Then there are those, often the quiet ones, who run still and deep. Whether they be calm or tempestuous, they do not give love easily. But when they love… ah, when they love, over time that love of theirs will erode mountains.

On Monday Patrick saw Muireann walking along the beach in another antique dress. As luck would have it, or maybe it was a premonition, he had packed his old underpants in his knapsack. After this they met for an hour each evening on his way home to swim together. With the lengthening days and bursting buds, Patrick realised he dreaded the return of spring. Sleeping under the trees night after night seemed a poor substitute with his new taste for the sea.

In his heart he knew this is what his father felt in his fishing boat: the call of the sea; in all her moods. And perhaps there was more. A dark sinister thought crept in, growing like a worm gnawing at his heart. Perhaps his father had known his own Muireann. Perhaps this was this why he drowned, searching for one such as her? Perhaps this was why his mother left?

Day after day he steeled himself to ask Muireann if she knew of his father. Each time he quailed, afraid of what it would mean. If her people were responsible for his father’s death or his mother leaving; where would that leave them?

One Thursday morning, no more than couple of hours after starting work, Sam the Undertaker’s son burst into the logging camp looking for Patrick. His Uncle Pat was dead. Ron the foreman told him to take what time he needed and he’d try not to dock his wages if he could. Although wages were the last thing on Patrick’s mind.

Biddy later told him Pat had died in his sleep. He knew Biddy and Pat slept in different rooms. Pat’s cough kept her up all night leaving her good for nothing. She’d seen him when she took in with his early morning tea. He was so peaceful; not a peep out of him. She thought it would be a kindness to let him sleep; not realising he was already gone.

As darkness fell Patrick grew fretful. Muireann was expecting him. What if he didn’t show? Would she ever come again? But how could he leave Biddy? She had no one else. Reluctantly he closed the curtains, knowing they would not be opened again ‘til after the funeral. There would be no swimming now, no dalliance, at least for a while. It was no comfort to know he was doing the right thing.

The funeral was Saturday afternoon so friends from the logging camp could act as pallbearers. Patrick was not in work but sat with Biddy night and day watching over the body. Friday night everyone turned up for the send-off. Biddy laid on a spread, with a barrel brought from the pub in the drayman’s cart.

It was a good turn-out. There was lots a laughing and singing round the coffin with two fellas from the pub on fiddle and banjo. Near midnight, when the songs were getting maudlin and people shifting uneasily, looking ready to leave, it was time for Pat to go. Biddy went over and opened the window, while respectfully the mourners formed an avenue for his spirit to pass between them out into the night.

The funeral went without a hitch. Everyone came round after. They were subdued for a while, probably nursing hangovers. Some brought a bottle or two by way of commiseration. Wives drifted by with a stew-pot, a spare pie or something else they’d baked. Before anyone knew, it was midnight again and the barrel was finished and the bottles empty and everyone was saying what a great aul fella Paddy was. Though by Jeasus, they’d bothered with him little enough before. And that was that. The man was laid to earth. Biddy and Patrick were expected to get on with it.

After Church on Sunday, there was cold-cuts for dinner and a slice of pie. Claiming a blindin’ head, Biddy went to bed. At a loss Patrick went to the sea. When Muireann wasn’t there, he stripped himself naked and swam until his arms and legs burned. Coming out he realised his eyes were running with tears and he thought it must be the bloody salt water.

For the next week he went to the sea each evening on his way home from work. Muireann had gone. Sometimes he stripped himself and swam. But his heart wasn’t in it. By the month end he was back to work proper and sleeping under the stars, or more often than not under a stretched tarpaulin with the rain drip, drip, dripping off the branches onto the oiled canvass above his head. He missed the sea. But on them nights he missed the sea least of all.

©Paul Andruss 2018

© Images The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin

My thanks again to Paul for this compelling episode in this story and I hope you will pop in tomorrow for the final part.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks

Thanks again for dropping in and hope to see you tomorrow for the final part of the story…Sally.

Smorgasbord Blogs from My Archives – The House by the Sea Part Three by Paul Andruss


Welcome to the third chapter of The House by the Sea. We left Patrick Noone coming to terms with life with his Aunt Biddy and Uncle Pat. At seven years old he took over the chores for his ill uncle and has learned the value of hard work. Paul Andruss picks up the story.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Part Three – Paul Andruss

At the age of fourteen, Biddy put a word in and Patrick got the gardener’s boy’s job up the big house. The gardener, an amiable old chap who headed a team of ten good natured fellas, took bright eager Patrick under his wing, intending to teach him all he knew. Perhaps he felt sorry for him because he was quiet. At the end of his second year the old man sat Patrick down, knocked out his pipe on the heel of his boot and slowly shook his head.

‘By the holy Jeasus an all o’ his saints lad, you’ve a aul rare gift. No matter what I gives yer, by Jeasus, if it don’t curl up an die. I might as well save meself the trouble an dip it in saltwater. Now I likes yer, I do, an there is no doubt yer can graft, but it can’t go on. I’m supposed ta be fillin the place like the Garden o’ Eden, not leaving it scorched as the hobs a Hell.

‘Now Paddy lad, don’t be lookin at me like a dog off to be whipped, I spake to Danny, that’s Mr McEnery ta yer, an yer fixed ta join is timber gang, if he likes the cut of yer jib. It’s a good life lad, an yer gift for killin plants ain’t such a handicap to them, what with the business the’re in,’ he chortled.

That afternoon the gardener took him to be looked over by the Estates Manager Mr McEnery, or ‘that miserable aul’ get’ as everyone else referred to him. The estate had a logging team and its own timber mill, each run by a foreman under McEnery. At first Patrick was put in the timber mill, which he hated; especially with McEnery living up to his nickname, barking out his orders with a puss on him like he’d been slapped round the face with an aul kipper.

Lucky for Patrick within a fortnight one of the logging men had an accident and he was sent to the team, temporary mind, to help load and drive the cart. It was a wet cold miserable week. None of the other fellas were keen on moving out of the comfort of the factory.

Patrick loved the freedom, loved no one checking on you every five minutes. Most of all, he loved being in the woods with the scattered diffused light breaking through the dark green canopy and the rain on his face. He thought it was the closest he’d ever come to being underwater. It was like living in the sea.

Before long he was wielding an axe as good as any of them and loving every minute. The rest of the lads were like Uncle Pat, except fit and full of laughter. Even the foreman Ron, only got stiff when aul McEnery came sniffing round, which wasn’t that often as long as you got your quota to the mill on time.

In summer they would stay out for days on end, working dawn ‘til dusk and sleeping on canvass cots under tarpaulins stretched between branches like tents. They kept a roaring log fire on the go, cooking up a big aul frying pans a bacon, sausage, eggs n bread, n spuds roast in the ashes. With a big aul billie a tea, strong n sweet with condensed milk, stewing away night and day.

He worked six and half days, and it was hard, hard labour, but it filled him out. By the age of twenty he was weathered as seasoned oak, with muscles like ripcords, a strong back and broad across the shoulders. A quiet man, each Saturday afternoon instead of staying in the pub with the lads, he’d head back to Aunt Biddy to turn over the bulk of his wages and help out with the chores. On the way home he always made sure to pick up a couple a pint bottles of the black stuff from the pub and a pack of ciggies from the tobacconists for Uncle Pat along with a bag of boiled sweets for Biddy.

There was Mass on Sunday morning followed by a slap up breakfast and a slap up dinner. By suppertime he was heading back to camp with a week’s worth of clean clothes and a couple of large meat and potato pies in his backpack to share with the lads.

Winter was different. It was too cold to be sleeping rough. With the short days the lads headed off early to their homes or lodgings in the town. At one point, Patrick even suggested Auntie Biddy take in a few for the extra money, but by this time Big Pat wasn’t well enough. The poor aul sod looked like death, propped up in the big aul armchair by the grate day and night; asleep more often than not, with a burned down ciggie hangin’ from his lips.

He’d joke the doctor told him to stay away from the ciggies. ‘But I said to him,’ he’d say, ‘by Jeasus Doc, and where am I goin’ a get one a them fancy ciggie holders when I’m buggered walking ta the privy?’

Then he’d laugh, which would start the hacking cough, which wouldn’t stop. Biddy or Patrick would have to bend him forward and rub his back trying to loosen the congestion. Sometimes after a bad attack, Patrick saw Biddy bent over the stove, or doing the ironing, quietly crying. He knew better than to say something.

It was an early spring afternoon, one of them days with just a promise of what’s to come in the air. Patrick was walking home before twilight. There had been a filthy big storm the day before that left the logging camp like a sea of mud, with nothing movin’. The foremen sent them home saying they’d get an early start tomorra.

As Patrick hit the coast path leading down to the house, didn’t he see the strangest thing on the beach? At first, he didn’t know what to make of it. Then thought his eyes was deceiving him. There was something black and white caught in the surf. It couldn’t be; but it was. Jesus Christ and all his saints in heaven! There was a body washed up, all white, broken and naked: a woman judging by the long dark hair tangled by the crashing waves.

His first thought was she must have drowned. There were stories he’d heard, what with living by the sea all his life, how the riptide could strip a body naked. Holy Mary Mother of God, what a hideous way to go! He was debating what to do when he saw her move. He knew it wasn’t the waves, when she moved again. Jesus Christ she was alive!

Yelling like a mad man he tore down the cliff path. Within twenty or thirty wards there was a way down to the beach: he knew it well. He hit the sand running so fast he went tumbling arse over tip. As he struggled to his feet, he looked again. He was too late. She was gone.

A cry of anguish was ripped out of the heart of him. Patrick pelted into the crashing white surf, looking right and left, hoping to find some trace. Anything!

He was shocked to see the top of a head appear from beneath the waves. A slim pale hand wiped away the long dark hair plastered across her face to reveal large brown liquid eyes looking at him, full of curiosity.

He stared back uncomprehending.

‘You’re alive?’ he muttered after a moment.

Slowly the rest of her head emerged, a delicate nose and full lips, pinched and blue with the cold.

‘I heard you coming, I had no clothes.’

‘I thought you was dead!’

‘Me? No.’ she laughed.

‘You looked dead’, he protested, biting his lip, scared to offend her. But she had looked dead; lying white and broken; cast up like flotsam.

Slowly she rose from the water, her long sleek hair sticking like a pelt to her narrow shoulders as she broke surface. Under the water it floated like strands of kelp, obscuring the swell of her breasts.

Patrick blushed to see her rising naked. He turned away. He had never seen a woman and was desperate to look. But not like this. It wasn’t decent.

He felt a peck on his cheek. ‘You are gallant,’ she said, sounding as if she was laughing at him.

Before he could stop himself, he’d looked. She was holding something to protect her modesty, lank and dark like a wet blanket, or perhaps wet leather, or maybe moleskin, for it looked slick and glossy.

‘I was swimming.’ She took his hand in her icy one and led him from the water. ‘You will catch your death.’

‘And what about you?’

‘I never feel the cold’.

She saw him puzzling over this. ‘I swim every day.’

‘It must be marvellous… to swim’

‘Can’t you?’

He shook his head.

‘Perhaps I could teach you. Would you like that?’

They were out of the swell now. The waves crashing no more than calf deep still wanted to drag him under. She began to adjust her blanket, draping it over her breasts and torso, leaving her white arms and shoulders bare.

He must have been staring for she was laughed. ‘Go home. I have a long swim a head of me and you will catch your death.’

Obediently he waded out of the cold grey water. Reaching the beach he heard her say,

‘When?’

He looked back.

‘Your swimming lesson. When?’

Saturday,’ he hesitantly replied, ‘afternoon. Two?’
‘I am Muireann.’ She smiled. ‘And I will wear something more appropriate.’

‘I’m Patrick.’ He returned her smile.

‘What a lovely name.’

He walked up the beach, feeling her eyes on him. Reaching the dunes he turned to wave goodbye. She was gone.

©Paul Andruss 2018

©Images The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin

The mystery deepens.. who is the strange woman who is brave enough to swim in such wintery seas…. pop in tomorrow to find out more.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks

Thanks again for dropping in and hope to see you tomorrow for the next episode…Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – The House by the Sea – Part Two by Paul Andruss


We continue with part two of the story of Patrick Noone whose life is bound inextricably with the sea. Tragedy has already struck with the loss of his mother, whose large and beautiful eyes are one of the few memories he has of her.  Paul Andruss shares more of Patrick’s childhood.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Part Two by Paul Andruss

After his father’s death, the years rolled on; the last much the same as the next with little to choose between them. Patrick grew into a fine strong lad, wiling and polite, if a little withdrawn, but with something that made people warm to the ‘poor orphan’.

At seven he made his first Confession and Holy Communion before becoming an altar boy at the Blessed Virgin with Father O’Malley. He got new clothes at Whitsun and Christmas, but for the rest of the year Biddy patched and made do. In the years of his First Holy Communion, and later, his Confirmation, the new clothes were saved up for the big day, so Biddy could make a good impression on the parish.

Patrick remembered his Confirmation Sunday because everyone went up in a charabanc to the big church where the Bishop marked them with chrism, filling them with the Holy Spirit by whispering a secret name in each child’s ear that only God and the angels knew.

Over the years, Patrick came to learn his Aunt Biddy was not a cruel woman. True, she had a fierce temper on her and little suffered shenanigans; what, with the washing and the ironing she took in, keeping house and putting meals on the table. Patrick had his fair share to do, especially as his uncle’s health grew worse. As Biddy informed him one day when he was about eight, you’re the man now.

Each morning he cleaned out the grate, set the fire, and fed the chickens, before running down the farm for a pitcher of creamy new milk, essential, so Biddy claimed, for someone with contagion on the lungs, and to pick up a loaf from the bakery. After school he chopped wood and brought it from the woodpile to the house, saw to the chickens and weeded the small garden where his uncle grew cabbage, potatoes and leek.

Every six months, spring and fall, he used the old yard-brush to paint the inside of the privy with lime-wash to keep out infection. Brought up by Biddy, Patrick never feared hard work and cheerfully did every task she dished out. The one he liked best was the first job he did every day after school: running down the alehouse with a stone jug for a quart of black porter for Uncle Pat.

It would have been a couple of years after his father died Patrick asked if his mother drowned too. Was that was why his father hated the sea?

‘Yer mother didn’t drown’, Biddy snarled with the face on her screwed up ‘til lips and eyes were no more than gashes. ‘She ran off and left him. Broke his heart she did; the bloody fool!’

She looked at Patrick with something like a cross between pity and contempt; staring so long he wished he could turn invisible. He looked down at his feet, but could still feel her eyes burning into the top of his head. At last she snorted and spat on the iron. And with the hiss, the heat in his face evaporated.

Biddy was not a talkative woman. Usually she barked orders and stood gimlet eyed as he scurried to carry them out to her satisfaction. But that day Biddy talked and talked.

Perhaps it was the long firm strokes of the iron that soothed and left her in a sort of trance. Maybe it was the odd, sly, encouraging word from Uncle Pat. Whatever, Patrick had the sense to stay frozen; aware the smallest movement would break the spell. He learned more about his family in one afternoon than he had in his whole short life.

‘Yer father never hated the sea,’ Biddy told him. ‘Even had a boat, handsome Knox it was with a sail as well as an engine. Happy as a sand-boy; spent his days fishing for crab an lobster for them grand hotels down the coast what cater for the tourists who come down from Cork, an even far away as Dublin. He was mammy’s youngest an so handsome; the apple of her eye.’

Biddy worked in one of those hotels.

‘Housekeeper mind, not one of yer scullery maids, second only to the under-manager I was. But that was before I met yer Uncle Pat.’ She nodded to her husband in the big armchair by the fire, cradling his pewter pint pot. ‘He was under-manager for the next hotel on the bay. We met at the big staff Christmas party.

‘By this time I’d given up on walking out with a fella an was resigned to goin’ to me grave a dried up aul spinster, til the Holy Mother of God had mercy on me. One thing led to another an before we knew where we was, me an Pat was wed.

‘Well, married women weren’t like girls and widows; working wasn’t for us. Anyway in them days, I thought I’d soon have me hands full with a house full of me own. Not long after, we moved to Dublin. It was when yer got that job Pat wasn’t it. But the filthy air didn’t agree with yer did it?

Pat nodded and coughed pathetically to demonstrate exactly how it hadn’t agreed with him.

Biddy carried on speaking about her husband as if he wasn’t there…

‘It was his poor aul lungs. Shot thru thee was. Well I tell yer, it was hand to mouth for a couple of years, ‘til we came back an I got a job charrin’ for Doctor an Missus Lowther. By this time you’d arrived. Yer was about three or four by then.

‘Our Micky, yer dad, had built this fine big house by the sea for her; cos she liked the sea did yer mother. But I never warmed to her. A right cold fish, she was. Miserable as the day was long. You’d think she’d lost a half a crown an found a sixpence. I didn’t see your father much in them days, but he seemed happy when he came down with a nice bit of fish or a few shillin to help us out.’

After that day, Biddy gradually seemed to soften towards Patrick, as if whatever passed for a heart was slowly melting. Big Pat, always fond of the lad, became almost like a father.

As his health worsened, on fine afternoons Biddy sat her husband outside under the veranda in a wicker chair, with a blanket over his knees, to get the benefit of the sea’s ‘salubrious ozone’. But she took care to keep him out of the wind.

After chores Patrick liked to join his uncle. Big Pat smoked his Players Full Strength hawking and coughing so hard it would seem a mercy if he dropped down dead. When he nodded Patrick topped up his uncle’s pewter pint-pot with the thick dark beer in the jug.

They never spoke much, but enjoyed the company. Sometimes, not often, Biddy would stick her head out and on cue Patrick ran to fetch a chair from the kitchen. Biddy would let him pour her a half mug of porter and the three sat in comfortable silence until the evening turned chilly.

©Paul Andruss 2018

©Images The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin

Thanks to Paul for another amazing chapter and the remaining three chapters will be posted over Easter..

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks

Thanks again for dropping in and hope to see you next week for the remaining three episodes..

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – The House by the Sea – Part One by Paul Andruss


In early 2018 Paul Andruss wrote a delightful five part story and over this weekend and Easter I am going to share again. Good things are worth repeating…

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA by Paul Andruss

Patrick Noone had liked the sea ever since he could remember. He liked the way its wildness stirred restlessness in his heart. His earliest memories were of yearning to plunge into the world beneath the waves; to hold his breath and let the current sweep him where it would.

Those memories came unbidden as he lay in bed, or at twilight watching a red bloated sun sink into grey. At such times, he remembered sitting in someone’s lap with protective arms wrapped around him. He believed it was his mother; although he remembered nothing of her. He imagined if he could only turn his head to look into her eyes he would see everything. But of course, he could not.

Sometimes when he had fallen into these reveries, he thought he heard low singing in a feminine lilting voice. Never words, just a soothing noise on the edge of hearing, like the whisper of waves on the beach below the house. At such times, he remembered large, dark, liquid eyes revealing his reflection and a wide expanse of seamlessly joined sky and sea. They were his mother’s eyes he supposed. They were certainly not his father’s.

His father hated the sea. His earliest memory of his father was of a bright day. Left to his own devices young Patrick wondered down to the beach and stood letting the water lap around his toes. He was entranced, lost in the sound of distant singing. Suddenly he was snatched up. Thrust face first into a musty corduroy jacket smelling of cigarettes, and carried roughly away.

His father did not say a word as he dropped him in a heap on the kitchen floor. He made to take off his belt; then stopped. He stood staring at his son for minutes. Or was it hours? Patrick did not know. When you are a child, time seems frozen and sometimes in memory, time is frozen too.

He remembered his father’s face crumpled as he let out an anguished cry. It left Patrick shaking and he burst into tears. His father knelt down and hugged him. Patrick remembered being held so tight he could not breathe. He fought as children do when feeling smothered. Without warning his father let go and walked out the house. Patrick must have been about 5 years old.

Patrick always thought his father died that night, although he knew it was not true. For some time they lived in two rooms, the kitchen and parlour next door with all the furniture pushed back to make room for a large cold bed where Patrick and his father slept. Not though his father ever slept in the bed, he always fell asleep in the chair with a bottle on the table and a pewter mug in his hand.

In the morning Patrick would creep around, looking for a crust. Perhaps he’d find scrapings of a leek and potato soup from Aunt Biddy, or scraps congealed on last night’s plates of cold boiled bacon and colcannon. Patrick did not wake his father. Not because he was afraid, but because when his father slept he looked almost happy.

He remembered Aunt Biddy in a blustering rage accusing her brother of not loving Patrick. She claimed he was afraid of him. Even at that young age Patrick knew not a single word coming from Biddy’s mouth was true. Even she did not believe it. Biddy had her eye on his father’s handsome house; neglected and forlorn as it was.

A crying shame she scolded, with no fire in the grate and filth in the corners piled high as the dirty dishes in the sink. This was no way to live, with a poor wee mite running round filthy and bare arsed as a heathen. And didn’t she make a great show of wanting to be a sainted mother to him, lunging at Patrick with her great white arms in which to smother him. A fate Patrick avoided only by hiding behind his father’s chair.

Biddy rubbed her eyes with the edge of her pinnie. Rubbed them in the exact place tears might appear, had there been any. Upon her life she sniffled, all she ever wanted was wee ‘uns of her own. But she couldn’t yer see. Not with Big Pat’s lungs shot through with the consumption. Her voice already a hoarse whisper dropped to inaudibility at the thought of any indelicacy passing her lips. The malarkey, she mouthed, not possible yer see. Over the years Patrick often wondered if Biddy had wanted wee ‘uns of her own why she never treated him better.

Biddy was the type of woman any man would struggle to best, never mind his father with all the fight gone from him. As Patrick could testify from experience, her powerful white arms and raw rough hands could land a clout to send you spinning clean across the room; if she had a mind, which she often did.

Not long afterwards, Biddy moved in with her husband, Big Pat, a small mean-built man, skinny and pale as Biddy was large and red. Before night fell, the whole house smelled of carbolic and damp washing, a smell even the tempting aroma of a mutton stew could not overwhelm. By the end of the week she forbad Patrick’s father from drinking in the house, which meant he went out drinking in the pub. Then she forbad Big Pat from going with him, which meant he carried on drinking in the house. From then on Patrick saw his father less and less. Which was good in a way, for when he drowned Patrick never really noticed he was gone.

Once the house was as she liked it, Biddy turned her attention to Patrick. Biddy took in washing and ironing for the big house, the doctor and the priest, and wanted him out from under her feet. Announcing she couldn’t have him running round the house all day long like a wild heathen, she scrubbed him, head to foot, with gritty soap on an itchy rag and inspected his head for nits by wrenching a fine-toothed comb through his tangled locks.

He was dressed in his Sunday best, a shirt with a starched collar that chaffed his neck, short trousers creased so sharp he might do someone mischief and black books so shiny he could see his face. Biddy inspected him critically and after a final scrub round the ears with spit and the edge of her pinnie, pulled on her good coat and dragged him, screaming every inch of the way, to the nuns for schooling.

‘Jeasus, Mary and Josef, what was yer thinking?’ she roared at his father. The woman could hardly believe her ears when Father O’Malley came round to tell her little Patrick was a real heathen and if she wanted him in school he would have to be baptised. Baptised he was that very day and started school the next; the youngest in the whole place, which was really just two classes.

©Paul Andruss 2018

©Images The Colour of Life by Geoff Cronin

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks

Thank you for dropping in today and part two of the story is tomorrow… as always we would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up- Glenn Miller, Roses, Mexico, New Books, Reviews and Guests.


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

Some stand out moments from the week that I would like to make a special mention about.

The first was the nomination for the blog for the Versatile Blogger Award by Brigid Gallagher which I was very honoured to receive. I know that many bloggers are now award free. I quite understand, as when you are at full tilt, it is tough to take the time to respond to an award and also to draw up a list of willing nominees.

However… even after six years, I still get a kick out of awards and I have met so many wonderful bloggers through other people’s nominees, that it is well worth the effort. And also it is an opportunity to showcase newer bloggers who are still finding their feet or deserve to have some promotion.

Anyway.. this was my response with 7 more secrets about me…..and some nominees who are terrific bloggers.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/04/smorgasbord-and-the-versatile-blogger-award-nominated-by-brigid-p-gallagher-7-things-you-may-not-know-about-me/

The second highlight is the release of Understanding: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events… Compiled and contributed to by Stevie Turner and 18 other authors including myself and quite a few of our blogging community.

The proceeds from this anthology will be going to Cancer Research and it is a very worthy cause.

Over the next week I will be posing a number of author profiles of those who have contributed and I hope that you will follow those authors and also support their work in this collection.

About the anthology

The following authors and bloggers kindly answered questions posed by Stevie Turner regarding significant life experiences they had undergone. These events include sexual abuse, a near death experience, alcoholism, being diagnosed with cancer, depression, losing weight, getting married, being a mother to many children, being the daughter of a narcissistic mother, and many more!

In this first post I share the authors who have contributed with a profile on Stevie Turner, D.G. Kaye and in the coming two weeks will feature the other authors in separate posts.

All proceeds will be donated to Cancer Research:

You can buy the anthology for only 99c: https://www.amazon.com/UNDERSTANDING-Anthology-True-Significant-Events-ebook/dp/B07Q5NLHRZ

And on Amazon UK for 99p: https://www.amazon.co.uk/UNDERSTANDING-Anthology-True-Significant-Events-ebook/dp/B07Q5NLHRZ

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-special-feature-proceedscancerresearch-understanding-an-anthology-of-true-and-significant-life-events-compiled-by-stevie-turner-and-18-other-authors/

Now on with the other posts this week.

This week William Price King shares the life and music of the legendary Glenn Miller whose music is still loved over 70 years since his untimely death during the Second World War.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-glen-miller-trombonist-composer-big-band-leader/

In his final gardening post, Paul Andruss shares the beauty and background to the rose.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-gardening-column-with-paul-andruss-only-a-rose/

In the second part of her posts on Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, D.G. Kaye shares the fundamentals that you need to know about renting, shopping, tipping, exchanging your cash, dining and how to drink safe water.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye-puerto-vallarta-mexico-part-two-renting-shopping-tipping-and-water/

This week my guest is author Ann Chiappetta who shares where she would love to live in the world, the animal she would most like to talk to and her favourite season.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-author-ann-chiappetta

My review for Small Town Kid by Frank Prem – recommended

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/smorgasbord-book-reviews-small-town-kid-by-frank-prem/

This week Carol Taylor and I join forces to share the foods that contain good amounts of Vitamin B3 and the recipes that the whole family will enjoy.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/smorgasbord-health-column-cook-from-scratch-with-sally-cronin-and-carol-taylor-to-prevent-nutritional-deficiencies-vitamin-b3-niacin/

A lovely guest post from Joy Lennick in tribute to her mother…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/04/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-joy-lennick-a-tribute-to-my-dear-mama-mum/

Sally’s personal stuff

This week in the R’s of Life,  I look at the true cost of retail therapy and the waste associated with our drive to own the latest and the most fashionable.  And also the mountains of food that goes uneaten in most of our countries when millions are starving.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/something-to-think-about-the-rs-of-life-survival-in-a-modern-world-retail-therapy-the-true-cost-by-sally-cronin/

This week I share the abundance of food that you can enjoy as you lose weight… starving the body is not an option, and cutting out food groups is counter productive.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/smorgasbord-health-column-size-matters-the-sequel-weightloss-all-the-delicious-foods-you-can-eat-by-sally-cronin/

Being the first week of the month… .Colleen Chesebro allowed us to pick our own words as prompts…My Etheree is entitled ‘April’

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-weekly-poetry-challenge-etheree-april-by-sally-cronin/

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – the Prompt this week is ‘Fire’

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/smorgasbord-short-stories-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-fire-by-sally-cronin/

Donna W. Hill is a breast cancer survivor and in this week’s inspiring post she shares her motivation and also encounters with butterflies and knitting.

Blue butterfly on milkweed: photo by Rich Hill

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-family-butterflies-me-an-authors-breast-cancer-survival-story-by-donna-w-hill/

This week Jen Moore, shares the delightful character who is her son, and the warm and embracing way that the family manages his dyslexia.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-family-the-funny-thing-about-dyslexia-by-jen-moore/

This week Norah Colvin shares all things berry.. which resulted in a lot of discussion about what is a berry and what is not, and how to get hold of our favourites…

mulberries

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-family-berry-delightful-by-norah-colvin/

A new contributor this week and the first post from the archives of Susanne Swanson who shares her return to her kindergarten school, celebrating its 100th anniversary.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-family-frank-b-cooper-school-refrain-by-susanne-swanson/

New Book on the Shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-amie-savage-safari-amie-in-africa-book-5-by-lucinda-e-clarke/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-special-pre-order-price-99c-99p-the-mayhem-series-book-3-silent-mayhem-by-sue-coletta/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/04/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-trudys-diary-libraries-of-the-world-mysteries-book-1-by-amy-m-reade/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-shortstories-a-box-of-memories-by-allan-hudson/

Author Updates

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-d-wallace-peach-barb-taub-and-mary-smith/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-jean-lee-paulette-mahurin-pamela-s-wight/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-a-mixed-bag-and-some-observations-on-life/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/04/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-another-odd-assortment-and-more-observations-on-life/

 

Thank you very much for visiting this week and for all your support, it is always appreciated.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Fire by Sally Cronin


This week the prompt for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge is Fire…and Charli Mills also shares the performance of a spectacular group of dancers who set the venue alight with their performance. Definitely worth heading over to read and see the photographs.

Fire by Sally Cronin

The firelight flickered across the walls of the cave and the healer stared into the flames.

Fire was a precious gift that had been passed down by their ancestors, but for some it brought a great burden. Those with healing skills saw visions within the heart of the burning mass.

It would not happen in her lifetime, but as the healer sat transfixed by the prophetic images, tears rolled down her wrinkled face. Her time was nearly over, but she hoped, that in the future, one of her descendants would be strong enough to put out the coming conflagration.

©sally Cronin

I hope you have enjoyed my bit of dark flash fiction….and if you would like to participate then please head over: https://carrotranch.com/2019/04/04/april-4-flash-fiction-challenge/

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Cathaoireacha, Cats, More Cats, Irises and Beans!


Welcome to the weekly round up of posts you might have missed this week. As always my thanks to those who are regular contributors and guest writers. Some wonderful posts on family, music, food and life in general.

Guest writers.

I began this blog magazine to share content with as wide a range of interest as possible. That includes showcasing other writers and if you would like a guest writing spot you can share posts that you have already written and would like to showcase again to a new audience here on Smorgasbord. It can be on any topic but I do have some younger readership so it does need to be family friendly.. Get in touch on Sally.cronin@moyhill.com with four links to your posts and I will come back to you with any further information that I need to create your post.

If you would like to see previous posts then just type in Guest Writer in the search box to the right of the blog title at the top of the page and it will bring them all up for you.

Posts from Your Archives

There will be details on a new series of Posts from Your Archives with a different theme after Easter. The family posts have been wonderful and thanks to all those who have shared their posts. These posts are different from the guest posts as they have a specific theme.

Both of these series offer you the chance to showcase your writing but also your books with any recent reviews..

Tribute to a writing companion…my office chair and Cathaoireacha…

I have been using the same chair that we bought in Carrefour supermarket in Spain for 15 years. It is leather with stainless steel arms and trim and was the most comfortable chair I have ever used for writing. I would swivel it around to watch television as well in our office and when we first arrived in Ireland three years ago, I was parted from it for six months. I noticed the difference.

Last week as I swivelled to pick up a file at the end of my desk, the chair tossed me unceremoniously onto the floor where I lay in a bemused heap. The handyman (in house) inspected the chair from every angle and we realised that one of the five stainless steel feet on the pedestal was being held up in pain and was an inch above the floor. Further investigations revealed a stress fracture and it was not reparable.

Going online to look for a similar style of chair, in leather was  a bit of a shocker. Looked like it was going to be 400 Euro which is good value if I could get another 15 years out of it but still worth checking around.

When we first moved here David had bought some second hand office furniture from a warehouse in Wicklow and following a phone call we headed up there yesterday to inspect the stock. What a great guy… and it was a treasure trove in his warehouse with furniture stacked to the rafters including leather office swivel chairs. We spend 15 minutes moving things about and of course I spotted just the chair I wanted right at the back under a bunch of other ones.. David dug it out and I sat in it.. more fancy than my old one with more padding and leather arms, deep seat and back and perfect. Easily a 500 euro chair..

We called the owner over and prepared to negotiate..especially when he said it was from a bank office clearance and was the CEO’s chair…..you can imagine our surprise when he offered it to us for 70 Euro… wow.. no negotiating needed.

And as a bonus. We mentioned the demise of my stalwart writing companion… and lo and behold he had a five leg pedestal that fits all the models and he gave that to us for free.

David has now repaired the old chair and he is going to use from now on to replace the wooden one currently doing the job. I love my new chair as it has a bit more padding which is a bonus for my butt… and very happy that an old friend is not going to end up on the scrap heap. Here they are together… family.

I am married to a man who thankfully believes in buying second hand… I was too…. and whilst it is lovely to have shiny new stuff….at the end of the day a little bit of wear and tear and a fantastic bargain is as satisfying as spending six time more on a new item.

Recycling is so important and as the landfills continue to grow into mountains of household goods that have been usurped by new items, it is well worth donating them to charity shops or passed on to people like this guy who provides a wonderful service. Thanks to Pat Harvey who also sells a multitude of other products for the home.. Wicklow Hygiene Products Ltd..so if you live in the area.. he’s your man!

On the subject of family and cathaoireacha…chairs

When David and I came over to Ireland in early November 1980 to meet his family (we met and married in 6 weeks) I was given a warm welcome. When presented with a glass of wine.. which was often.. I would wish everyone ‘cheers’. Eventually I asked what the Irish was for ‘cheers’ as as one they announced that it was ‘Kaheeraka’ (phonetically). For many years afterwards when in Ireland or in the company of Irish acquaintances, I would raise my glass and say ‘Kaheeraka’..  only discover that I had been hazed.. and what I was really saying was Cathaoireacha..’Chairs’. Gotta love family…. all in good fun….No wonder himself is laughing in this photograph taken that weekend…..

On with the posts from the week…

This week the beautiful Iris..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-gardening-column-with-paul-andruss-taste-the-rainbow-with-irises/

Recipes for beans to include in your family’s menus.. full of energy and nutrients. Homemade without all the additives.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/27/smorgasbord-health-column-rewind-cook-from-scratch-with-sally-cronin-and-carol-taylor-beans-a-staple-food-for-12000-years/

Annette Rochelle Aben shares the universal energy of April and how it might impact us as individuals.. bring it on..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-numerology-your-universal-energy-for-april-2019-by-annette-rochelle-aben/

My guest today, Julia Benally shares what she did grab when she had two minutes to get out of her house, why it would be wise not to cross her freshly mopped floors, a very disconcerting Christmas holiday, her favourite children’s song and a rather bouncy mis-purchase…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-author-julia-benally/

One of life’s certainties is that at some point you are going to be rejected personally or professionally. It can happen at any age and because it is a certainty, it does pay to prepare for it, or if unexpected have some strategies to cope with it.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/26/something-to-think-about-the-rs-of-live-survival-in-a-modern-world-rejection-a-fact-of-life-by-sally-cronin/

Trash can punch by the pool and a trip to San Diego and Sea World in April 1986

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-1985-1986-trash-can-punch-and-sea-world-april-1986/

With any project plan you need to have a start point and and end point…measurement is the key to identify progress and also to create significant events that warrant celebration.

How much do you weigh now?

And how much should you weigh to be healthy?

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/smorgasbord-health-column-size-matters-the-sequel-weightloss-how-much-should-you-weigh/

This week for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills The prompt is the word ‘Eminence’ in all its glory…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/smorgasbord-short-stories-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-your-eminence-by-sally-cronin/

This week’s response to Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 129

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/27/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-weekly-poetry-challenge-haibun-i-wander-down-memory-lane-by-sally-cronin/

This week a one hit wonder… Rockin’ Robin by Bobby Day.. that was his only major chart hit, but led to a career as a successful songwriter.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/26/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-one-hit-wonders-rockin-robin-bobby-day/

 

My review of More Glimpses by Hugh W. Roberts – short stories across several genres with something for everyone.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/29/smorgasbord-book-reviews-shortstories-more-glimpses-by-hugh-w-roberts/

Delighted to welcome Donna W. Hill to the blog with a series of posts from her archives. A wonderful story of a rescue cat.

Goofus, a male, Strawberry-blonde tabby, hangs upside-down in the family room: photo by Rich Hill

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/25/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-family-stray-cat-working-dog-abandonment-rescue-redemption-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-by-donna-w-hill/

Please welcome Jen Moore who has been blogging about life with chickens, cats and children for five years.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/26/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-family-the-futility-of-a-feline-rooftop-protest-by-jen-moore/

This is the second post from the archives of  educator and storyteller Norah Colvin and this week Norah shares her own experiences of telling real stories about family to young children, not just their immediate family but passing on living history about those relatives we have met but the younger generation may not have.

Nor and Bec reading

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/27/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-family-whose-story-is-it-anyway-by-norah-colvin/

Miriam Hurdle shares two post in one with a letter that she wrote to her daughter and then she shares a very special post where Mercy shares the words that she associates with her mother, and the strengths she has inherited from her.

20160910_150915

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-family-letters-between-a-mother-and-daughter-by-miriam-hurdle/

Welcome to the third of the guest posts from author L.T. Garvin and this week a short story of the difficult transitional years between child and adulthood, commonly called the ‘Teens’. The story is infused with its author’s personal experiences.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/25/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-l-t-garvin-the-dairy-treat-princess/

New on the shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/25/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-pre-order-braxton-campus-mysteries-book-3-flower-power-trip-by-james-j-cudney/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/26/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-words-of-life-by-ann-chiappetta/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-the-man-who-found-birds-among-the-stars-part-five-phenix-rises-a-biographical-fiction-by-lorinda-j-taylor/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-a-mountain-of-memories-by-christine-campbell/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/29/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-book-on-the-shelves-survival-of-the-fittest-book-1-of-the-crossroads-trilogy-by-jacqui-murray/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-childrens-sir-chocolate-and-the-fondant-five-story-and-cookbook-by-robbie-and-michael-cheadle/

Author Updates Reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/25/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-updates-reviews-janice-spina-robbie-and-michael-cheadle-and-hl-carpenter/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/29/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-vashti-quiroz-vega-jim-webster-and-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/26/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-next-time-you-complain-about-your-job-and-a-joke-from-the-archives/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-a-little-heaven-hell-humour/

Thank you for dropping in today and for your support throughout the week. If you would like to be part of Smorgasbord Blog Magazine as a guest then please get in touch… either with posts from your archives on the subject of family… or as a guest writer on a variety of subjects. Sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Your Eminence by Sally Cronin


This week for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills The prompt is the word ‘Eminence’ in all its glory… In the post Charli also brings us up close and personal with a monster from the basement…. with eight legs that move it rapidly across your path. On one occasion almost to the point of embarrassment. Well worth heading over to enjoy that and also photographs of the melt around that part of Lake Superior.

In the meantime.. here is my submission for the challenge.

Image Pixabay.com

Your Eminence by Sally Cronin

As I pass him on my way to the village, I remember to say ‘Good morning your eminence’. To ignore him is to invite untold misfortune. Wise ones tell of signs of impending death if he is seen close to your window. And should that be open to the spring air, thefts of gold and silver. I laugh at the warnings, for I am young and carefree, but ancient beliefs stir in my blood, for lone magpies bring sorrow. So I pay him respect, wishing him a mate for life, to bring joy to those who see them together.
©Sally Cronin

If you would like to participate in this week’s challenge here is the link again...https://carrotranch.com/2019/03/28/march-28-flash-fiction-challenge/

I hope you have enjoyed this piece of flash and your feedback is always welcome.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – L.T. Garvin – The Dairy Treat Princess #Short Story


Welcome to the third of the guest posts from author L.T. Garvin and this week a short story of the difficult transitional years between child and adulthood, commonly called the ‘Teens’. The story is infused with its author’s personal experiences.

The Dairy Treat Princess

At fifteen, I found myself intricately studying the architecture of hamburgers and following the instructions of my uncle regarding the assembly and appearance of such culinary delicacies. Uncle Ron was my mother’s older brother and they were just like peas and carrots, as Forest would say. He knew the food business as he had established two of the best burger joints in town. As a business proprietor, he was hoping to make his mark in food and maybe one day buy a Cadillac. His dream car. He sure liked the new Seville model.

We had just moved back to my childhood hometown, and I was pulling spigots unleashing colas of all flavors, cherry, chocolate, chocolate cherry, cherry vanilla, or just extra cherry while learning to swirl vanilla ice cream cones in circular perfection. I was actually wary of the hamburger grill and wished to entirely avoid the split splattering of the deep fryer. As I was content to hang out in the front of the joint, I also longed to escape to the back in an effort to hide away from the prying eyes of teenagers drifting in after school as they had discovered that I was the new girl in town.

“Don’t you think it is high time you go and register up at the school?” Uncle Ron asked as he appeared beside me in his western shirt with its pearly buttons bouncing off tiny shimmers of sunlight. His hair oil also gleaming slightly as one heavy curl threatened to fall from his perfectly practiced small pompadour style. He was a cross between James Dean, Elvis, and Johnny Cash all rolled into one. Later on in life, I would find that he was a bit of a con artist too, but back then, he was my boss.

“I’m about to,” I replied ruefully. I hated having to up and move at the beginning of my Freshman year, I hated being the center of attention wishing that I could instead disappear into the woodwork beyond the chitter chatter, beyond the empty questions.

“I think you’re avoidin’ it. You been here awhile, you know. You’re gonna git behind, fail your reading or arithmetic.”

“Yep, maybe both. Actually, nobody can out read me, even if I never went to school again!” I replied sulkily.

“I need to talk to your mama. She needs to git you up there on Monday.”

I gave him a level stare full of teenage defiance framed in perfect blue eye shadow. “Why are you avoiding going to see Aunt Reva? Looks like it is high time you did that too. And the Tax Assessor guy, what’s up with that? And who else will work for as cheap as I do?”

“Hmmph!” he said tossing his sharply oiled curl and walked over to fill up the paper cups emblazoned with “The Dairy Treat” in swirling red print.

We were obviously at a stand-off. Aunt Reva, or Aunt Ree Ree as we called her, and Uncle Ron had been married three times already. Or maybe it was five. They had a lot of “disputes.” My mother said they were like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton that way. I don’t know why she had left him a few months ago, but when she left, Uncle Ron had a problem as he was no bookkeeper by any means. This had somehow got him in trouble with the County Tax Assessor-Collector. It was my duty as a school refugee and stalwart employee to remind him of these things. About that time the bell rang at the drive-through. I grabbed the order pad, school had not let out yet and the old people in town weren’t that bad.

“Order up!” I shouted pinning it on the metal spinner as Uncle Ron donned his white apron and manned his place at the massive grill.

We never knew what the lunch run would entail, or the dinner run either. There was also the coffee and cola runs. Ice cream was all the time. We were the only game in town. The day I liked the best was when the frozen food guy arrived.

“Just look at these. They’re gonna fry up nice,” Uncle Ron said as he extended a large frozen package to me.

“What are they?” I asked, not even thinking they resembled a food item.

“The best steak fingers in the county.”

I took them and opened the giant walk-in freezer which was actually the best place to be on a hot September day in Texas. The door chimes rang.

“You handle the customer, I’ll put these up,” he said. I went up to the front.

“How may I help you,” I asked the stocky middle-aged man who sat down on the stool.

“Let’s see. I’m looking for Mr. Ronald Walter Green. He here?”

I gave him a look tinged with as much frost as I could muster from my blue eye- shadowed eyelids.

“And your name?”

“Mr. Paul Aker. County Tax ASSESSOR”

“Right. Well, Mr. Aker, he is out right this moment.” I said as I glanced toward the back. My uncle halting short of entering the front.

“Oh, I see. Do you happen to know when he might return?”

“Probably won’t be back today. It’s a business appointment. A long one.”

“Okay then. Let me give you my card. Have him call me when he returns from his business, then.”

“Sure thing,” I replied.

“Oh, and I’ll take a Root beer float also, you got Root Beer?”

“Yes we do,” I replied and headed to the spigots.

After Mr. Aker left, Uncle Ron came back up to work on the jukebox. “You know, I might have to polish up on my arithmetic when I go back to school. Or bookkeeping, even better. Do you think I might should go into taxes someday?”

“Don’t know,” he replied. “You might want to become a Repo Man. I hear they make a good living too.”

“That would be a Repo Woman, Uncle Ron. Isn’t a Tax Assessor-Collector the same thing?”

He smiled, looked at his watch, then he looked back up at me. “Oh, it’s already 3:15! You might want to go ahead and take off, I can handle the after school bunch.”

I smiled back at him. “Nope, not today. I think I’m gonna stay today.”

“Well then,” he said, pressing B5 on the jukebox.

In the next ten minutes, The Dairy Treat was full of high school kids. Curious girls. Prissy girls. Smart girls. Cute boys. Boys that played percussion…loudly. Fighting Steers football players. A cheerleader with a broken arm. A counterculture girl with a broken smile. Home economics cooks. Even members of the honor society and student council. I was able to make an honest assessment to see if anybody’s blue eyeshadow could compare to mine, and I’d have to say, I was way ahead with that, but I did find some interesting takes on eyeliner that I had not previously considered. By the time the afternoon was over, I had increased my cola making flavor repertoire, had a possibility of two new best friends, an offer to write for the yearbook, and even one possibility for a date. It was a done deal, Monday morning, I would be in school.

“I have to say, Missy, I’m proud of you,” Uncle Ron said when the place cleared.

“Yeah, it wasn’t so bad,” I answered. “You are gonna miss me, though.”

“There’s always the weekend,” he replied.

“What about the rest of the time? I think you need to go and talk to Aunt Reva. She can fix the tax mess too.”

He nodded. “Evelyn wants to come back to work anyway, she misses it. You can go get your numbers down in that bookkeepin’ class and take care of them taxes for me.”

“I’ll try,” I said.

“I’ll bet you’ll make a good picture in the yearbook. Get that arithmetic down, maybe you can even buy us a new Cadillac,” he smiled.

“You never know. But right now, I need my paycheck. I have to go shopping, I don’t have a thing to wear to school!”

He shook his head. “Alright then. Get out of here.”

He handed me money from the register which is probably why he had tax troubles in the first place. I gave him a quick hug and hurried out the side door. The tennis courts across the street caught my eye. I needed to find a partner. I turned back toward The Dairy Treat and watched Uncle Ron for a minute as he leaned back over the jukebox like a country western Elvis at work on his next hit single.

©L.T. Garvin

Separating fact from fiction:

I did have to move back to my family’s hometown when I was a freshman in high school after being gone for most of my childhood. My aunt and uncle were running a burger joint called The Dairy Treat which was conveniently located near the high school right off the main drag. I was shy, but not as shy as the girl in the story; I only missed a few days before transitioning into school as my mother would never have allowed me to miss weeks of school. I did have the blue eyeshadow thing down. My aunt and uncle had been married and divorced many times. I guess they were a combustible pair. He was a bit of a con-artist (but I still don’t know why). He just had an angle, not the mob or anything. He was an extremely personable character and quite popular among the small town folk. His appearance was as I described. I still remember his hair. He made the best steak fingers around. He and my aunt Reva finally divorced permanently. He married a woman twenty years older than himself. She had a Cadillac. In 1989, I was working in a downtown skyscraper in Dallas, Texas (ironically for Arthur Andersen & Co. (but not in the tax department) far away from the whispers and cadence of my little town. I got the call from my mother saying that Uncle Ron had passed away in his sleep. He was relatively young but had apparently experienced an aneurysm. My job was new at the time, so I did not take off and go back for his funeral. I regret that now, but I was a bulletproof twenty-something, and I was immortal then, anyway…..

This story is similar to those in the Sandman’s 1960s compilation. I am debating on doing a “70s” version of my Sandman series. Just debating…. Press 1 for yes or 2 for no and customer service will get back to you. When they are done applying their blue eyeshadow.

About L.T. Garvin

L.T. Garvin is a huge fiction fan and literature lover. She enjoys writing fiction, short stories, and attempts at poetry. L.T. has a particular fondness for Southern literature possibly because they have such good food and bigger than life stories in the South.

She currently has three books available, Confessions of a 4th Grade Athlete, a humorous children’s book about a boy named Nathan and his exuberant experiences in school and sports. Another children’s book, Animals Galore explores unique animals and their antics. A novel, Dancing with the Sandman, is suitable for all age groups and takes readers on time travel journey back to the 1960s. L.T. Garvin maintains a WordPress site where she shares fiction, poetry, and humorous essays

Books by L.T. Garvin

About Dancing with the Sandman

The Sandman cometh dancing to the beat of rock ‘n’ roll, blasting the turmoil of the Sixties. And where are you? West Texas, of course. Billie Jo Dunstan confronts her past, traveling back to the 1960s through a decade of turbulence and swirling color memories, contemplating life growing up in rural Texas. Tragedy and comedy come alive, preserving the past and a portion of small town life that will survive beyond super highways and the ratcheting progress of time.
***
Garvin’s (And They Came, 2017, etc.) latest novel offers a reflection of one girl’s coming-of-age in small-town Texas in the 1960s. … Garvin is at her best when offering these cheeky nods to the past, never getting bogged down in nostalgia.
A winning narrator enlivens a charming tale of a town facing modernity.–Kirkus Reviews

One of the reviews for the book

The story starts and ends in west Texas as Billie Jo revisits the small town she grew up in, a town left behind years ago when progress, in the form of a new highway, raced ahead. It’s a place that holds memories so tangible they feel like ghosts rising out of the sand, and they create the substance of the story.

Garvin calls the book a fictional journey, but it reads like a memoir. If you were a kid in the 60’s, this book will feel something like a trip into childhood, a time before helicopter parents and iphones, a time when kids had to create their own fun while learning the painful lessons of life.

Though the book takes place in Texas, there is so much about Billie Jo’s experiences that felt familiar to me, a child of rural Connecticut. In a way, the qualities that make up a childhood – the way adults are perceived, the family quirks, sibling teasing, unexpected kindnesses and losses, how kids think and fill their leisure time – seemed universal. This is a thoroughly relatable book.

And told as a “look back at the ghosts of the past,” the book has a nostalgic aura that lingered beyond the last page, calling forth my own ghosts and eliciting memories that I’d forgotten. Dancing with the Sandman is a lovely, poignant, rich read for all ages, but especially for those who enjoy memoirs and those who were children in the 60’s.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DP2VJ8S

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dancing-Sandman-L-T-Garvin-ebook/dp/B07DP2VJ8S

Also by L.T. Garvin

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/L.-T.-Garvin/e/B00HC0TRY6

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/L.-T.-Garvin/e/B00HC0TRY6

Read other reviews and follow L.T. Garvin on Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7579153.L_T_Garvin

Connect to L.T. Garvin

Website: https://broussardlana.wordpress.com/welcome/
Books: https://broussardlana.wordpress.com/books/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LT-Garvin-791835704234435/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LanaBroussard