Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life’s Rich Tapestry – #Cats For the Love of Lily by Sally Cronin

I have a new collection of poetry and short stories coming out later in the year, and as Life’s Rich Tapestry is now one year old, I thought I would share some stories from the collection over the next few weeks.

For the Love of Lily

Millicent Smith sat with her cat Lily on her lap and stared out of her living room window out on the quiet street. Automatically, her fingers gently moved to rub the inside of one of Lily’s velvety ears, eliciting a purr of contentment from her companion.

This was an after lunch treat for them both, and it was one of the moments that Millicent would miss the most, when the house was sold and she moved into the care home. It was the last thing that she wanted to do, but her son Daniel had been adamant that she could not look after herself properly any longer. He told her that he didn’t have the time with his job and family, to keep coming around whenever there was a minor emergency. Such as when she had scalded herself with boiling water, making a cup of tea last week.

Lily stirred and stretched one leg in front of the other. She hopped off onto the carpet and headed for the kitchen and cat-flap that gave her access to a walled garden. She would sometimes hop up onto the wall and survey the surrounding gardens, but she was very content these days to stick close to home, and being elderly in cat terms, leaving the hunting and other mischief to the younger generation in the neighbourhood.

Millicent sat thinking about the future and the options for making sure that Lily would be looked after. As an elderly cat, she would be so hard to rehome and tears ran down her cheeks at the thought of her beloved friend being unhappy. Lily had been with her since she had adopted her as tiny white and black kitten with a splodge on her nose at the local cat sanctuary. From that first day she had slept on the end of her bed on a pink knitted blanket. Millicent didn’t know what she would do waking up without that little tap on her face as a greeting each morning.

She roused herself and wiped her eyes. Daniel had arranged for an estate agent to come around this afternoon to do a valuation on the property. Her son had insisted that she leave everything to him to manage, so that she was not stressed, and had gone as far to have a power of attorney drafted and other papers enabling him to act on her behalf. She supposed at eighty years old he considered her incapable of running her own affairs, although she had managed very well in the ten years since her husband, Richard had died.

Daniel had taken her to visit the care home he felt would be suitable, and she had to admit it looked very comfortable. The rooms were spacious and she could take a few pieces of furniture, some pictures and small ornaments to make if feel more like home. But, the one thing she could not do, was take Lily with her.

She had mentioned this to Daniel and said that Lily might only be with her another five years, and perhaps they could delay her move into the home until she had passed away. But he shut her down firmly, restating the fact that she would be better off with someone on hand day and night, meals prepared for her and a nursing staff in attendance when needed. He said he and his family would come and see her one Sunday a month and that they would take her out to lunch, especially on holidays such as Christmas.

As he had gone around the car to open her door for her, Millicent wondered how he had become so detached and uncompromising. She had never made any demands on him, accepting that his once a month visit for an hour was all he could manage with his busy job and teenage family. She also understood that it was a worry as she got older as to her care, and that this was the sensible solution. But it brought with it sadness and a sense of loss that she had hoped never to feel.

She went into the kitchen and locked the cap flap. Lily would be fine outside on this sunny spring day whilst the estate agent was viewing the house, and she smiled as she saw her friend, sitting in the sunshine on top of the wall, queen of all she surveyed. Besides, Lily was not fond of Daniel, arching her back and waving her tail at him when he entered the house. She had even on one occasion hissed at him when he had put his hand on his mother’s arm to make a quite forcible point about this proposed move. The feeling was clearly mutual, as Daniel had worn a smug smile when he said he would personally take Lily to the rehoming centre for cats on the outskirts of town.

The garden was another aspect of her home that Millicent would miss. Even when her husband had been alive, she would spend hours outside, lovingly tending the small patch of grass, decorative bushes and large pots overflowing with colour. They had used to sit out in the summer evenings at the small round wrought iron table with a glass of wine and a bowl of cashew nuts, chatting about the day and the world, and tears threatened to flow again. Taking a deep breath and squaring her shoulders she walked down the tiled hall tidying the shelves and tables as she passed.

The doorbell chimed its cheery message, and she opened the door to find her son and a male companion waiting in the porch.

‘Alright mother, this is Mr. Johnson and he will be taking measurements today and looking at your receipts for the work you have had done over recent years on maintenance.’

She shook hands with the bespectacled young man, who smiled and headed off upstairs with a pad and what looked like a flashlight.

Daniel took her arm and edged her into the kitchen, pulling out a chair at the table.

‘Have you signed those papers I left with you mother,’ he paused and looked around for the package he had left a few days before.

‘Not yet Daniel, I wanted to read them through and ask Mr. Henderson from two doors down for his advice.’ She smiled tentatively at her stony faced son.

‘What are you doing discussing private business with that old interfering busybody for?’ He almost snarled at his now anxious mother. ‘This is why I need to take over your affairs and finances so that you don’t get persuaded to do something stupid.’

Twisting her hands nervously Millicent looked at her son lounging back in the chair, glaring back at her with narrowed eyes and a grim set to his mouth.

At that moment Lily scratched at the cat flap to be allowed back in and Daniel pointed a finger towards the door.

‘And that cat goes on Monday, I’ve made arrangements to take her after work, so make sure that she is ready with all her stuff by five pm.’

Millicent stood up and walked towards the back door. ‘I will be in the garden with Lily so that you and the agent can complete your business in peace.’ Outside she picked up the cat waiting patiently on the patio, and sat down at the table stroking her soft fur.

Half an hour later they had the house to themselves again and were about to settle down in front of the television when the doorbell rang again.

It was her neighbour Eric Henderson holding the papers in his hand that she had asked him to look over for her.

‘Can I come in Millie?’ She smiled as he was the only one who called her that. She stepped back to let him into the hall, and they settled down in the two side by side armchairs. Lily jumped from one arm to the other and purred as Eric gave her ears a rub, before leaping back on to Millicent’s lap.

‘I think we need to talk about the papers Millie,’ he reached out and touched her arm gently. ‘I am no solicitor, but over my years in business I have read a great many contracts, and there are things that concern me.’

Millicent looked at him enquiringly.

‘Your son wants you to hand over control of all your finances and care, including the proceeds from the sale of the house and all assets.’ Millicent nodded. ‘Yes, he said that it was for my benefit so that I did not worry about money or being taken care of in the future.’

Eric nodded. ‘That is a concern, but you are in excellent health, except for a few minor issues and you could live another 15 years or longer. Do you really want to be in a care home for that length of time?’ He reached over and patted her hand. ‘You wouldn’t be able to go out with friends for the day, go on trips or have a say in your health care or what you spend your money on.’

Millicent began to look worried so he took her hand in his. ‘Millie, my biggest concern is that the money from this house is not enough to pay the fees of the care home for more than five years, and should that be the case, you will be moved to a council run facility, which whilst adequate may not be what you are used to.’

Millicent stared down at the papers in her hand and knew that she had a decision to make.

‘What do I do Eric, Daniel is adamant that this should happen and I am afraid that if I don’t do as he wants, I will find myself alone and in difficulties in the future?’

Eric handed Millicent a pamphlet. ‘Take a look at this before making a decision Millie, and I think you will find that there are some support services and options that you can take advantage of, even if it is just a few years longer. That will allow your assets to grow with the property market and last longer.’ He smiled and took her hand again. ‘And don’t forget I am only a few doors down and in the same position. I am sure that we can help each other out in the meantime.’

Millicent blushed and gave him much more confident smile. Then she handed him Lily while she went off to make a pot of tea and a plate of homemade ginger nuts, her friend’s favourites.

On Monday after making some telephone calls, Millicent sat with Lily on her lap looking out of the window and the rain swept street. She saw her son draw up in his large black car and stood up to open the front door. As she did so, Daniel took a step back, seeing Lily comfortably clasped in his mother’s arms. ‘Mother, can you put that cat outside whilst we get this paperwork sorted and then put her in her carrier ready to go.’

Saying nothing, Millicent led the way through to the kitchen and sat with Lily on her lap. On the table a pile of papers were stacked neatly in front of the seat opposite. Daniel looked taken aback at this show of rebellion and flung the chair back and thumped down on the seat.

‘I take it that the papers have been signed mother and we can get on with our plan straight away.’

Millicent took a deep breath and scratched the cat’s neck.

‘Lily and I won’t be going anywhere Daniel.’

‘What are you talking about mother, don’t be stupid, this is the right solution for everyone.’

‘It might be for you dear, but not for me or Lily.’ Millicent stared down her son.

‘I won’t be bullied into moving and have rung the estate agent to tell them the house is not for sale’

Daniel moved to speak but she raised her hand.

‘Furthermore, I will be retaining the management of my finances, as your father set them up very carefully to ensure that I was taken care of. I have also looked at the options of using the spare bedroom upstairs for someone to live in should that become necessary. There are sufficient funds for that without me having to sell my home and leave behind all the memories of fifty years of marriage and happiness.’

Daniel stood and glared at his mother. ‘Well since you seem to think you know what you are doing, don’t come crying to me next time you hurt yourself or have a problem.’ With that he slammed out of the house and she heard the roar of an engine as it sped off down the street.

She was shaking and holding Lily a little bit too tightly, but instead of struggling, the cat lifted up her small face and licked the tears from Millicent’s face. A few minutes later the doorbell rang and Millicent opened the door to find Eric with a large bunch of fresh picked pink roses.

‘From my garden Millie and I thought you might like some company this evening. Would you like some fish and chips for supper in front on the telly?’

Millicent smiled and took the roses. ‘That would be lovely, and perhaps a small piece of rockfish for Lily if that is alright?’ With a cheery wave Eric headed down the path to the chippie, and Millicent and Lily went to put the roses in water and butter some new baked bread to go with the supper.

©Sally Cronin 2019

About Life’s RichTapestry: Woven in Words.

Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.

Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.

This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of a generous and inspiring blogging community, where writing challenges encourage us to explore new styles and genres.

John Maberry – 31st October 2020Reviews of five books we recommend.

My review of Sally Cronin’s Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words, is short. We will add a few lines from the book after the review, for your consideration. 

The book lives up to its title–indeed, Sally Cronin has woven a rich tapestry of life in words of many kinds. A variety of poetry–in forms unfamiliar in name to me, microfiction and short stories. What’s more, the graphic imagery of the short poems is inspiring to a person like me who has never really found poetry either appealing or easily understood. This time, for a change, the words grabbed me. I found meaningful passages that could be useful as well in prose writing as in poetry. Examples I must return to in settings or other places where showing and not telling is essential.

The microfiction and short stories were equally compelling. [As noted in the promo for the book coming up next from Eagle Peak Press, we will consider a combination of ingredients as Sally Cronin did—and more in this book]. She is a writer worth reading.

Here a poetry excerpt (not necessarily representative of the content of the whole):


“Memories are sharp

and as clear as the blue sky

smiles etched on my heart.”

Or consider this brief excerpt from the intro to a short story titled, “The Junkyard Dog.”

“Charlie was a junkyard dog and had the scars to prove it. He was head of security of this fenced off mass of scrap metal, dotted with mounds of old tyres he called home, and he took his job very seriously.”

Amazon £3.50 :Amazon UK – Amazon US $4.53: Amazon US

A selection of other books


Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Follow Sally:Goodreads – Blog: Smorgasbord InvitationTwitter: @sgc58
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the story…Sally.



Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family -#Cats – The Futility of a Feline Rooftop Protest by Jen Moore

Please welcome Jen Moore who has been blogging about life with chickens, cats and children for five years. After a recent break, she is back blogging again and is sharing two of her posts from her archives with us. She hopes you might head over and visit here and read more.

The first of her posts is about the original Chuffin Cat…Ethelbert, was was apparently quite the character.

The Futility of a Feline Rooftop Protest

The news of the chuffin cat’s rooftop protest was spread quicker than a flock of chickens in a drumstick factory. Whilst I am loathe to publicise and thereby condone this type of manipulative feline behaviour, I feel that some kind of explanation is needed.

The chuffin cat is well-known for her outspoken views on a variety of subjects, particularly concerning the inappropriate use of thermometers by veterinary surgeons (vets). As such, a trip to see the vet can be a very traumatic event: it takes me a long time to calm down on such occasions.

The appointment was booked for yesterday. Gauntlets, goggles and earplugs were gathered, along with the riot police on standby. The cat carrier had been left in the corner of the lounge: the elephant in the room (An elephant? With hindsight that might have been a good addition). All bedroom doors were closed, windows shut, cupboards blocked off.

Half an hour before the appointment time, I realised that the chuffin cat had disappeared. I also realised that I had neglected to lock the most important door of all – the chuffin cat’s personal security door (cat flap).

I ventured outside and stopped when I heard an indignant but distant miaow . Looking up, I spied the chuffin cat on the very top of the roof, a black cloud hovering above her head in contrast to the vivid blue sky beyond. I won’t demean myself by giving too much detail on what followed next; suffice to say lots of calling, begging and pleading could be heard. Expletives littered the air (mainly from the chuffin cat). A food bowl was fetched, along with a crackly food bag, biscuits, cat toys, cat nip spray, cat nip bubbles, a pot of cream, a banana (great for throwing), a bar of chocolate (I was really working up an appetite) but all to no avail. A small crowd began to gather on the other side of the path, adding to the pressure – who would win? The negotiator or the protester?

After 30 minutes, I felt it necessary to ring the vet. When he had stopped laughing, he told me to make my way to the surgery once the offender had been captured. By this time, the chuffin cat had made her way down to the porch roof. A much better position – high enough to stay out of reach but low enough to eyeball her negotiator in defiance.

I then had a sudden thought. I waved goodbye to the chuffin cat, came into the house, locked the front door behind me and hid. After 3 minutes there was an almighty explosion of scrabbling and wailing outside. As I opened the door in strutted the chuffin cat, nose in the air, tail rigid like a fluffy toilet brush, wondering why she was no longer the centre of attention. Quick as a flash, I grabbed the errant animal, stuffed her headfirst into the cat carrier (bit of a squash) and dashed off to see the vet, with a swirl of dust and a squeal of tyres. There was no need to play any music en route as the chuffin cat serenaded me for the entire journey.

Walking into the surgery was particularly awkward, especially as I felt obliged to announce, “I’ve got the rooftop protester here for you.”

Back home a little while later, I wondered what had caused such extreme behaviour from her naughty chuffness. As I glanced across at the calendar on the wall, it all became clear: when listing the appointment to see the vet, I had for some strange, unknown reason written ‘take cat to Sainsbury’s’ instead. She clearly hates shopping far more than she hates the vet. And I really should get tested for Alzheimers.

©Jen Moore

About Jennifer Moore

Jen is a Sword fighter, wrestler, referee & chef to 4 boys (big and small), staff for the infamous chuffin cat & perturbed chooks. Aspiring writer, compulsive giggler. Jen has been blogging about the funny side of life with cats, chickens and children for five years.

Connect to Jennifer


My thanks to Jen for sharing this delightful story about the original Chuffin cat.. and I hope you will head over to her blog to find out more about her delightful menagerie.

Sam, A Shaggy #Dog Story – Chapter Six – My Babies by Sally Cronin

Yesterday we met Henry’s family and found out more about his life in the garden. Today more cats!

Chapter Six – My Babies.

I was not the only one who was sad at the loss of not only my old friend Henry but also his elusive and stand offish mate. Sally decided that perhaps since I got on so well with cats that it might be an idea to have some house cats as a substitute. There was a cat sanctuary in the town and one afternoon, Sally duly arrived with a box and from inside came the unmistakable sounds of baby cats.

There were two “babies” as I came to know them, one mainly black with a white front and one mainly white with large black splotches. Sally refrained from naming them as she was more concerned that I would get on with them. Also being so little she did wonder how I would react to having cats actually in the house rather than in the garden.

I don’t know if it was because I had loved my old friend Henry so much but it was love at first sight. I was only just over two years old myself and still a puppy at heart and the antics of these two newcomers gave me much joy. Sally was a little concerned at first as every time she picked up a kitten it was damp, however she soon appreciated that it was simply my responsibility as a good dad kicking in. Cleanliness is very important as is making sure babies eat the right food.

Sally had brought back some specific high nutrient kitten food to build them up but like me the babies were picky and decided that my dinner was much more preferable. I was eating off a large plate at the time as I enjoyed pushing the bits I did not like off the edge and onto the floor. The second day my babies arrived they would join me on one side of the plate and gently help themselves whilst I ate from the other.

Sally had another concern and that was how I would react when my place on the sofa, next to her when we watched television was invaded by the lively newcomers. No problem as we would all curl up together with Sally stroking us all in turn and we spent those first few evenings in dog and cat heaven.

This next part will break your heart as it broke mine.

On the fifth day one of the kittens started to be very ill and Sally was very concerned. I was left with one of the kittens whilst Sally dashed off in the car to the vets in the town to see what the problem might be. She was gone a very long time and I and my sole charge lay quietly by the front door ears pricked for the sound of her returning down the long drive.

Eventually I could hear the sound of the engine in the lane and then the noise the wheels made on the gravel. I stood up with tail wagging as the kitten sat between my front legs. The door opened and I could sense Sally’s sadness immediately. She had water on her face and she did not ask me to go onto the “greeting mat” as we always did. She just knelt down and put her arms around my neck and whispered into my fur.

“I am so sorry Sam, the baby has gone, he was very sick”. I did not understand all the words but I had seen my mistress in the same distressed state when Henry had died and I knew that I would not see the baby again.

We had a subdued evening and we huddled together on the sofa with the remaining kitten receiving loving licks and strokes. Over the next two days I took particular care of my baby but on the third day she started exhibiting the same symptoms as the first one. We were both devastated and I knew when Sally left with her in a box that this too was another goodbye.

I did not understand of course that my two new friends had contracted the disease in the sanctuary where they had been housed side by side with adult cats. The reasons were not important as I had been dealt a heavy blow and I wandered around the house with their small blanket in my mouth and kept whining at Sally as she tried to comfort me, often with water on her face.

She never tried to replace them. I think she realised that both of us could not stand losing any more friends.

Over the years we did however continue to make friends with feral cats, particularly at our home in the south of Spain where they were plentiful and despite the language barrier my “cat” vocabulary came in very useful.

©Sallycronin – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

I know that these last two chapters in my life have been very sad but I did have some wonderful things in my life that I will share with you next time.

©Sally Cronin 2009

If you would like to browse through my books here they are.

You can find all my books at these links:


Amazon UK:

Smashwords for Epub:

More reviews can be found on Goodreads:

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Sam, A Shaggy #Dog Story – Chapter Five – Henry’s New Family by Sally Cronin

Last week we found out how Henry the cat made his way into the garden and now we find out more about his much younger girlfriend.

Henry would live with us for another three years and he had a wonderful life. When I was about a year old a wild black and white female cat who was only about a year old arrived in the garden.

By this time Henry was plump and healthy although he still looked as though he had been dragged through the mud and a hedge backwards.

He was obviously however a smooth operator and within a few weeks we had a new family of three kittens living in the garden and Henry made sure that despite his lady friend’s reluctance to go near the boisterous, year old, hairy monster I had become, his offspring were introduced early and became my friends too. This gave me even more opportunity to practice my Cat vocabulary and I actually became quite proficient.

Mate, you need a little more aftershave!

His mate would keep her distance from my mistress too despite Henry taking every opportunity to solicit massages and affection. However, when the kittens were about four weeks old they all developed eye infections despite the fact that my mistress had begun supplementing their mother’s milk with kitten food.

By this time Sally was working in the mornings at her business in the local town and she would get home about lunchtime. She never left me for more than three or four hours at a time and even though I am nearly ten now she still made sure that I was never left for too long without company.

She arrived home this one day to find the three kittens on the doormat. Henry came over as usual to greet her and she could see his mate pacing back and forth on the grass by the side of the garage.

A little bemused by this turn of events she went over to the kittens and realised that all their eyes were gummed up with infection. She opened the door and went inside for a cardboard box and she scooped up the three hissing and spitting offspring and popped them inside.

In the meantime I was desperately waiting to be greeted. I was now very aware of my place in this loving home and I knew that I was not supposed to leap up and down and shout loudly when either Sally or David came home. Instead we would go into the lounge to the ‘greeting rug’ where I would get hugs and a fuss made of me. I knew that the word hello meant a greeting and although I have no voice box and I used to try and do my best to respond in kind.

Sally put the box down on the draining board in the kitchen and then came into the lounge where I was waiting impatiently. After this greeting ritual was finished we both went back into the kitchen and I sat and watched the proceedings with excited anticipation.

“Well Sammy – I think I am supposed to do something about these guys and their eyes,” she smiled down at me.

She filled a small bowl with warm water and then tipped some fine white grains into it and stirred it with a spoon.

“Stay and watch your friends Sam, I’ll be back in a moment.”

She left the room and went upstairs to her bedroom and returned a few moments later with some fluffy white stuff in her fingers.

This went into the water in the dish and she gently picked up one of the kittens out of the box.

This was its first contact with a human. I had been introduced by Henry to the new family but had not been allowed to get too close. The kitten was not impressed by being separated from the warmth of its mother and chose to express this displeasure by hissing and trying to scratch Sally’s hand. Despite this blatant display of ingratitude she gently squeezed the warm liquid across both its eyes and then wiped away the accumulated crusted infection.

She repeated this process with the other two kittens and finally satisfied that she had done as much as possible she took them out in the box to the garden and placed them next to Henry under the bush. She stroked his head and he licked her hand in thanks.

For the next three days the kittens were waiting on the mat when Sally came home. On the last day she saw the mother deposit the third one on the mat before retiring to the bush where Henry waited. By this time the infection had nearly cleared from the young cats’ eyes and the next day there was no sign of them.

Apart from Henry the family stayed away from all human contact and when the kittens had grown they left to find territories of their own. Henry and his mate lived happily without any further kittens for the next three years until one day when my dear friend became ill. My mistress came home from work and Henry was on the doorstep. He crawled across to her and she picked him up into her arms. Although he had never been to the vet’s she placed him on the front seat of her car and raced him to the surgery.

The vet told her that Henry only had three teeth left and was at least fourteen years old. A very good age for a domestic cat let alone one that had spent so many years running wild in a farmyard and the countryside. The good food and affection that Henry had received in the last four years had made a huge difference and I know from my friend that they had also been very happy years spent with human contact for the first time, his friendship with me and his mate who had stayed with him despite their being no further kittens.

When my mistress returned I could tell that she was very sad. She greeted me on the rug as usual but there was intensity to her hugs and her emotions that I had rarely seen. There was water coming from her eyes and it made me feel sad too. She was kneeling on the rug and I lay down and put my head across her knees. We sat there for several minutes as she fingered the fur behind my ears.

“He was so brave Sam,” she began to talk as the tears dried.

“At the end he perked up and lay in my arms purring with his eyes wide open. I felt he was trying to say something but I felt the love in him and suddenly he was gone.”

I did not understand death as I had only known life and love with my pack and my assorted friends but I understood her sadness and it made me sad too.

The next day the black and white cat was gone too as if she knew Henry would not be coming back. For many weeks I would patrol my territory and expect my old friend to pop out from under a bush and accompany me as I checked the long grass in the meadow or the hundreds of bushes and trees in the garden.

©Sally Cronin 2009

If you would like to browse through my books here they are.

You can find all my books at these links:


Amazon UK:

Smashwords for Epub:

More reviews can be found on Goodreads:

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.