Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – #Cats Seeking Shelter in the Rainy Northwest and Baseball by Susanne Swanson


Welcome to the  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the fourth post from the archives of Susanne Swanson that I have chosen.. you will find plenty to browse if you head over.  Cats in particular are the muses in her household and they have some wonderful adventures. And today finally.. we have her lovely cats….

Cats Seeking Shelter in the Rainy Northwest and Baseball by Susanne Swanson

After a bizarre winter in the Great Northwest – featuring summer temperatures and record-breaking snowfall – we have now settled into a typical rainy spring. The garden is loving it and new plants are being thoroughly watered in.

Cats seek shelter wherever they can find it, if they are willing to go out at all.

When inside at least they have good baseball to watch as the Seattle Mariners are off to an amazing start, the best in all of baseball, a surprise to all those who predict such things.

Tiger watches attentively while Benji is more distracted,

and hushed by his older brother.

~ Susanne and Tiger and Benji

©Susanne Swanson

About Susanne

Hello! This is Susanne. After years of working in accounting and technology where rules are clear and numbers add up, I decided to explore the other side where roads are meant to be traveled, memories unfurl slowly and cats have been known to talk.

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In my blog you will meet my two favorite felines, Tiger and Benji, and see pictures and stories from my travels, especially in the Pacific Northwest where I live. Add in my garden, some rain (lots of rain it turns out), a few sunsets and reflections on life, and you have an idea of where we are headed. I hope you come along for the ride.

Connect to Susanne

Blog: https://catsandtrailsandgardentales.com
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/swansos/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catsandtrailsandgardentales

I am sure you enjoyed as much as I did and thanks to Susanne for letting me browse her archives.. so much to choose from… I know she would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family #cats – In my dreams I soar by Susanne Swanson


Welcome to the third post from the archives of Susanne Swanson who shares something short and sweet this week….

In my dreams I soar  by Susanne Swanson

This is Benji and I am not what you call a big cat. From the beginning they called me the runt of the litter. (No thank you for that.) Sue even still doubts my birthday. Much too small to be that old she said to the vet who readily agreed.

But when I am asleep I show them all wrong. In my dreams I soar!

©Susanne Swanson

About Susanne

Hello! This is Susanne. After years of working in accounting and technology where rules are clear and numbers add up, I decided to explore the other side where roads are meant to be traveled, memories unfurl slowly and cats have been known to talk.

20180707_141950 (2)

In my blog you will meet my two favorite felines, Tiger and Benji, and see pictures and stories from my travels, especially in the Pacific Northwest where I live. Add in my garden, some rain (lots of rain it turns out), a few sunsets and reflections on life, and you have an idea of where we are headed. I hope you come along for the ride.

Connect to Susanne

Blog: https://catsandtrailsandgardentales.com
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/swansos/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catsandtrailsandgardentales

 

Afternoon Video Rewind – Cats Vs. Flip Flops shared by N.A. Granger


Noelle Granger spotted this and sent me the link two years ago.. If you are not already following Noelle and Sayling Away here is the link https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/ and you can find details for her books at http://www.amazon.com/N.A.-Granger/e/B00DN6I8GQ

Here is cats vs. flipflops

Smorgasbord Laughter Academy – A dip into the archives – dogs, cats and parrots!


I have been delving into the archives and have selected a few jokes that you might have missed or forgotten.. I have my sister here for her first visit to us in our new home in Ireland and I am teaching her how to avoid the puddles……

A couple of Quickies

A man had been contemplating the world’s population,

It’s amazing, he told his friend. Every time I breathe in and out someone dies.

Have you tried mouthwash said his friend

“Doc, I can’t stop singing The Green, Green Grass of Home.”

“That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome.”

“Is it common? ”

“It’s not unusual.”

dinasaurs

Let’s go cruising the high seas.

An elderly couple were on a cruise and it was really stormy. They were standing on the back of the boat watching the moon, when a wave came up and washed the old woman overboard. They searched for days and couldn’t find her, so the captain sent the old man back to shore with the promise that he would notify him as soon as they found something.

Three weeks went by and finally the old man got a fax from the boat. It read: “Sir, sorry to inform you, we found your wife dead at the bottom of the ocean. We hauled her up to the deck and attached to her butt was an oyster and in it was a pearl worth $50,000 . please advise.” The old man faxed back: “Send me the pearl and re-bait the trap.”

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Wayward Parrots

A lady goes to her priest one day and tells him, “Father, I have a
problem. I have two female parrots, but they only know how to say one thing.”

“What do they say?” the priest inquired.

They say, “Hi, we’re good time girls! Do you want to have some fun?”

“That’s obscene!” the priest exclaimed, then he thought for a
moment. “You know”, he said, “I may have a solution to your problem.

I have two male talking parrots, which I have taught to pray and
read the Bible. Bring your two parrots over to my house, and we’ll put them in the cage with Francis and Job. My parrots can teach your parrots to praise and worship, and your parrots are sure to stop saying… that phrase…in no time.”

“Thank you”, the woman responded, “this may very well be the
solution.”

The next day, she brought her female parrots to the priest’s house. As he ushered her in, she saw that his two male parrots were inside their cage holding rosary beads and praying. Impressed, she walked over and placed her parrots in with them. After a few minutes, the female parrots cried out in unison: “Hi, we’re good time girls! Do you want to have some fun?”

There was stunned silence. Shocked, one male parrot looked over at the other male parrot and exclaimed, “Put the beads away, Frank. Our prayers have been answered.”

Giving the dog a proper send off.

Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company. One day the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish priest and asked, “Father, my dog is dead. Could ya’ be saying’ a mass for the poor creature?”

Father Patrick replied, “I’m afraid not; we cannot have services for an animal in the church. But there are some Baptists down the lane, and there’s no tellin’ what they believe. Maybe they’ll do something for the creature.”

Muldoon said, “I’ll go right away Father. Do ya’ think $5,000 is enough to donate to them for the service?”

Father Patrick exclaimed, “Sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus! Why didn’t ya tell me the dog was Catholic?

catsHave a great weekend.. I will be popping in from time to time to check you are behaving yourselves… don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do!  thanks Sally

 

 

Smorgasbord short stories revisited – A Cat Called……. by Iris Mick


Iris Mick was one of the entrants for Author’s in the Sun short story competition that ran for three years on Onda Cero international when I was with the station on the Costa del Sol.. Here is her spooky story ….

A CAT CALLED…………………….

“A word with eleven letters, meaning luck, first letter `s´, third letter `r´, last letters `t & y´, any ideas?” asked Cathy, glancing across at Mary engrossed in a TV thriller.

“Hey, what did you say, luck, no idea, but I could do with some”.

Cathy sighed. So could she. Lately she had been finding it difficult to motivate herself… The crossword had been a diversionary tactic. Throwing the magazine down on the settee she collected her easel and paints.

“I am just going down to the beach,” she called out. “OK”, Mary replied without lifting her eyes from the screen.

Cathy ran down the steps and walked across the road to the shore, deserted now in the winter season. A year ago, as a young widow in her twenties she had given up her job as a successful P.A in order to pursue a long-time dream of becoming a professional artist.

Devastated by her loss, grief and disbelief had led to a chilling awareness of her own vulnerability and the uncertainty of any tomorrow. Andy had always lived for the moment. He had never been afraid to follow his dreams.

Climbing had been his passion. Cathy had always been afraid that one day it would take him from her. Andy would tease. Life was brief. Every day was a gift that must be treasured. It was too precious to be frittered away. The future was unknown and unknowable. All one could be sure of was now.

And he had been right. It was not the mountains that had claimed him. It was a sudden, brief and unexpected illness that had cut short his young life. But she knew it had not been a waste. It was a life that had been lived.

And so she had abandoned her safe but lack lustre existence to come and live in a cottage in this relatively isolated part of Cornwall. She had loved it from the first moment she saw it. She had a fanciful feeling that it had been waiting for her.

The weathered oak beams exuded solidarity and continuity whilst at the same time the peeling paint, rickety windows and forlorn looking doors cried out for help. Paradoxically the dark, sombre and admittedly esoteric rooms dared her to discover their dark mysterious secrets.

To Cathy it had a strange compelling attraction. It challenged her emotions on all sorts of levels. It promised to satisfy her need for safety and security, her need to lavish care and attention, whilst at the same time meeting this new need to test herself in potentially threatening situations. She belonged here.

Fearing the price would be beyond her meagre means Cathy was surprised to find that it was a lot less than she expected. The last owner had died five years previously and her relatives had found it difficult to sell the property. Eventually the price had been drastically reduced. It was only after Cathy had moved in she discovered why.

The locals though outwardly polite kept their distance. There was a general reluctance to make friends or to visit. Tradesmen tended to hurry away cutting short normal social chat. A few weeks after her arrival when she mentioned this worrying behaviour to the vicar who said kindly, “It’s because they believe that the house is cursed and that you are part of it”

He explained that the old lady who had lived there had been regarded as something of a witch. Apparently she had been a recluse, talking to no-one with only a huge black cat for company. She had been seen walking along the beach at dusk, dressed all in black, muttering strange incantations and followed always by her feline friend. There were reported sightings of ghoulish apparitions at the windows, of flocks of raucous black crows circling the cottage at midnight and sudden unexpected storms lashing the seashore. One moonlit night a local fisherman swore he had seen a ghostly galleon gliding along the coast and sounds of laughter and singing drifting across the water.

On the night she died the cat had disappeared never to be seen again.

“And,” the vicar added wryly, when he had finished recounting these tales, looking at Cathy’s´ red hair, “your hair happens to be the same colour as hers!”

These stories had not worried Cathy, dismissing them as exaggerated, fuelled by too much drink and superstitious fears about an eccentric old lady. In any case once they had seen that nothing untoward had happened visits became more frequent and relaxed though some of the older folk still would not venture near at night.

Despite the financial struggle Cathy had not regretted the move. Much to her amusement after the initial wariness had worn off Cathy found that she was becoming something of a local celebrity. Her sketches had been a big hit at the summer fete.

She had also made several new friends with other artists living in the nearby town and the not infrequent visits of colleagues from London, like Mary, meant that she still enjoyed their company whilst having plenty of time on her own to devote to her painting.

However most of them could not understand the attraction of this life. Mary was already bored. But Cathy loved the solitary wildness and the ever changing nature of sky, sea & shore. Sometimes tranquil, sometimes misty and mysterious, at other times harsh, bleak, often stormy and tempestuous, each day offered unique images to portray on canvas.

She had enjoyed some success. Her paintings were exhibited in a local but select gallery in the nearby town. There had been a few sales, mainly to tourists. Joe, the exuberant and ever optimistic owner, had assured her that dealers from London occasionally visited the gallery. However, Cathy reflected ruefully, if indeed any of them had ventured this far out, none had shown any interest in her work.

Cathy placed her easel and paints on the sand and looked out across the bay. Suddenly a very, very large black cat appeared from seemingly nowhere and settled down on the rocks to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine For the first time she was apprehensive.. The villager’s warnings came flooding back into her mind. She told herself not to be ridiculous; obviously there was more than one large black cat around. Cautiously Cathy moved closer. The cat stared at her. It seemed to be looking for something inside of her. Normally relaxed around animals no matter how she tried Cathy could not summon up the courage to reach out and touch it. However though still appearing somewhat suspicious of her approach the cat made no effort to move. Shaken but reassured, Cathy swept the windblown auburn curls from her face and sat down to work.

The sight of the black cat stretched out on the slate grey rocks, against the background of a deepening red sky mirrored in the darkening blue- black of the sea made a dramatic impact on her senses. The setting appeared eerie, faintly spooky and almost illusory. Cathy began to paint.

Several hours later she lifted her head. It was now nearly dusk. Slowly she packed up and looked across at the rocks. The cat had disappeared…

Arriving home Cathy found Mary making some tea in the kitchen. She looked up. “How did it go?” she asked pointing to the painting. Cathy held up her work. A peculiar look came over Mary’s face. Without a word she hurried upstairs to the guest room. Several minutes later she was back. In her hand was a crumpled sheet of paper. “I found this tucked inside that old bureau upstairs” she said. Cathy took it. It was a drawing of a very large black cat on the rocks!

Three weeks later, Cathy was alone again. Mary, still unnerved by what Cathy maintained was the coincidence of the paintings, and, tempted back to the bright lights had just left. After waving off her visitor Cathy sat down intending to treat herself to a good book and a glass of wine. She glanced idly down at the magazine beside her and the still uncompleted crossword. She picked it up. Just then the phone rang.

She walked across to answer it. At the same time a light breeze sprang up lifting the curtain. Cathy thought she saw a black shadow pass the window. She looked across to the bay. Silhouetted once more in the evening shadows was the black cat on the rocks. Strangely she had not seen it since the day she painted it.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a very excited Joe shouting down the line. “Hi Cathy, your black cat painting, well, a buyer from a London gallery wants to purchase it. He is very interested in your work and wants to commission more.”

Cathy was speechless. She could hardly believe it. Hardly drawing a breath Joe continued, “It needs a title though, any ideas?” Cathy   felt the magazine still in her hand, luck, eleven letters,   beginning with s … …..

Cathy stared out of the window .The breeze had lifted the curtain again. The cat was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly she knew the right answer. Cathy laughed, “Yes Joe, I am going to call it SERENDIPITY”

©IrisMick 2005

I hope you enjoyed Iris’s story. If you have a fiction short story to share then please contact me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

 

 

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Four – Henry’s Story


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Last time we left Sam at 14 weeks old given more freedom in the garden which led to him meeting his first real friend.. Henry now settles down in Costa del Sam to tell him his challenging story.

Chapter Four – Henry’s Story.

“Okay young’un,” Henry grinned toothlessly. “Time for the next instalment.”

With that he fell rather than leapt arthritically down onto the grass and sauntered over to a sun bed that had just caught the first of the morning sun peeping over the house.

He lay down and stretched and I moved over closer for a good sniff.

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Henry lay still whilst I examined nearly every inch of him. There was definitely a lifetime of smells on that cat and I could tell that grooming had not been his main focus recently if ever.

Finally satisfied that I would now know him anywhere I settled down and looked at him expectantly.

“Happy now?” He sighed theatrically. “Did you want to hear my story or not?”

I nodded my head and rested it on my paws as I waited to hear this strange creature’s tales.

The telling of this story took many days and what I didn’t realise at the time, was that our friendship did not go unnoticed. The kitchen window overlooked my play pen and neither of us saw the smiling face that looked down at us through the glass.

It would take too long to relate all the adventures that Henry experienced but I will try to give you an idea of how he became this bedraggled and toothless creature and one of my best friends.

Henry was about ten years old which is getting on for a feral cat. He had not begun life in the wild having been born, one of ten kittens, to a farm cat called Maisie. She was a great mouser by all accounts and this last litter was a surprise as she had not had one for over four years and the farmer thought she was too old.

Anyway, one by one his litter mates were either given away or sadly in one case taken by a fox. At last it was just him and his youngest sister that were left and the farmer felt that they would be a useful addition to the three other adult cats who patrolled the farmyard in search of mice and rats. There were two dogs that had been puppies when Henry was born and they had become friends over the years, hence his ability to speak Dog. Most young animals if brought up together will live happily side by side and apart from an instinctive and unspoken method of communication they will learn each other’s language too.

Henry gave great service at the farm until he was about nine years old when the farmer died and the buildings and stock were sold off. The new owners were not going to farm and they knocked down the old barn and outbuildings and laid down concrete.

The other two cats drifted away as the mouse population decreased. The dogs had gone to the farmer’s son miles away and the new owners brought in two large and mean looking Dobermans that could not speak Cat and only wanted to chase and eat him.

Henry soon realised that there was no job for him with the new people and reluctantly decided to leave the only home he had ever known.

With a last look over his shoulder he walked through the hedges, across fields and tried to find somewhere he could find food and shelter.

By the time he ended up in my large garden, Henry had travelled miles across the county, stopping at what working farms were left, catching a few mice here and there but usually forced to move on by younger and stronger cats on the premises.

He had to fight to eat on most occasions and eventually after several months he was tired, sick and hungry and decided to find himself a bush to go to sleep under. His intention was to let nature take its course which is often the way for animals if allowed. He had endured enough and not ever having really bonded with humans he knew no other life. He had never sat on a warm lap and felt a kind hand or been given food instead of catching it himself.

The large garden with its hundreds of bushes and trees seemed a peaceful and unpopulated place in which to end his days and apart from the hunger that grabbed at his belly he lay down his head and closed his eyes.

My mistress, Sally had been in the garden walking with a man that she hoped would come with his ride on mower and cut the acre and a half of grass a couple of times a month. She knew that with her new business she would also be unable to keep up with the weeding and was willing to pay someone else to do this onerous task.

She and the man were moving between some of the bushes to inspect the large privet hedge that separated them from the neighbours when she stopped and motioned the man to move back.

She knelt down and gently lifted a branch out of the way and was about to tell the man that she thought the cat was dead when she saw its chest moving up and down.

“He’s come here to die.” The old man from down the lane leant over her shoulder and shook his head.

“He won’t last the night, better leave be and I will take him away when I come down tomorrow to mow the grass.”

She looked sadly down at the dirty bundle of skin and bones and tears welled up in her eyes.

She could not bear any animals to suffer and she could see that this cat had been through the wars and had probably had a very hard life.

After the man had gone with a promise to return first thing in the morning, She went back inside the house and filled a shallow bowl with warm milk and crumbled a little bread into it. Returning to the cat under the bush she moved the dish as close as possible and carefully stretched out her hand to stroke the top of its head.

She felt a little movement beneath her fingers and continued to carefully stroke the dirty fur down to the tail. She saw the little black nostrils twitch and decided to leave the cat for a little while to see if it might be enticed by the milk.

An hour later she came back and found herself staring into two brown mottled eyes that were red rimmed as if the cat had been crying. As she leant forward to pick up the empty dish the animal moved backwards slightly in fear but gently she moved her hand around its side as it watched her carefully with its eyes.

Slowly she stroked the trembling animals matted fur until its head dropped onto its paws and she felt a slight vibration beneath her fingers. Satisfied that it would now accept her help, she placed another bowl with some newly acquired tinned kitten food in front of the cat. It would need very high nutrient packed food quickly if it was to recover enough to survive the night and despite being just skin and bones she had seen the glint of survival in its weary eyes.

Henry seemed lost for a minute or two as he stared into space as if reliving the dark days again when he was lost and so hungry. He turned his head and looked at me and then surprised me with some very interesting information about my mistress.

“You know young’un she can talk cat.” He nodded his head a couple of times.

” At first I thought there was another cat nearby but the sound was definitely coming from her. The language was strange and a bit mixed up but I understood that she meant me no harm and I sensed she was trying to tell me I was safe.”

Henry went on to tell me how he believed that Sally must have had a cat before and learnt to communicate when very young which is the best time to learn Cat and Dog language. She was a bit rusty but over the time he had lived in the garden they had often enjoyed conversations although he said it was a bit like a couple of foreigners trying to make themselves understood in a strange country.

Anyway on with Henry’s story of their original meeting.

Although the Irish summers are not known for either their consistency of sunshine or warm weather, that particular week of Henry’s arrival, was dry and the earth retained the heat of the day. She had put down a bowl of water and some more food in the early evening and felt that the weather would not be a problem. She was however concerned about predators as she had seen fox tracks and knew that there were rats and other cats that prowled the lanes and gardens.

She was also well aware that sometimes nature had to be allowed to take its course and felt that at least she had given the cat a fighting chance. Fingers crossed she went back into the house and waited for the morning.

The next day the cat was still in the same position but it was looking much brighter and somewhat expectant as it looked steadily at the bowls that she carried in her hands. She placed them on the ground in front of it and stretched out her fingers to touch the dirty coat. This time the cat did not move and she spent several minutes talking Cat softly to it and gently massaging its fur. Happy that he seemed more alert and was purring at her touch she left him to eat breakfast and rest in his sunny spot.

At this point I swear that Henry had tears in his eyes. He sniffed and tossed his head and glared at me.

“Don’t say a word, do you hear?” He growled into my face and I shook my head vigorously.

After a moment he collected himself.

“That was a year ago, and I don’t have to tell you that I recovered and have been living here ever since.” He raised a paw delicately to his whiskers and then rubbed up behind his ear and down to his mouth.

“She feeds me every day and I let her stroke me from time to time as it obviously gives her pleasure, and of course I earn my keep because I can still give the odd mouse and rat a run for their money.”

I was impressed and had a whole new opinion of my mistress. Instinctively I had adopted both Sally and David as my pack when I came into their den and she was making it quite clear that they were the leaders of the pack and I was number three. I wondered where that put Henry but I suspected that he was probably a lone wolf.

Henry stretched out on the sun bed and I popped into my paddling pool for a cool off as the day had now got quite warm. I could see that Henry was dropping off to sleep and it was not long before I got out of the pool and joined him beneath the bed in the cool shade.

Both of us were unaware that Sally had come into the play pen until I felt the bed move above my head and saw two legs over the edge.

“Hi Henry, how are you doing you old moth eaten love.” She then made some rather strange noises that Henry responded to in kind.

This I had to see and I squirmed out from under the bed to see Mr. Indifference rolling around on his back and purring so loudly that the bed vibrated.

I knew that Henry was not allowed into the house and when I saw how dirty he was I could understand why. As I watched this playful interaction between my mistress and my new friend I saw her hand go to the back of his neck with something between her fingers. A few drops of liquid fell onto his fur and I saw that she was wearing something that covered her hand. She gently massaged Henry’s neck while he wriggled in delight and then she looked at me as I sat with my head cocked to one side.

“That should keep the fleas off him for another few weeks and you too my darling.”

I was not sure what fleas were at that point but I jumped up and put my paws on her lap and laughed up into her face.

“Sometimes Sam I think young as you are, you understand every word that I say.”

She removed the covering on her hand and stroked the soft inside of the top of my ear which I loved. My eyes closed in ecstasy as I surrendered to her touch. For me this was perfect, the leader of my pack paying me so much attention and a new best friend.

©sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

Thank you for calling in and please join Sally, David, Henry and me next time.

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Three – My First Real Friend.


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Last time Sam arrived at his new home and began to get used to managing his mistress and master to ensure that he had the approriate food and attention due to him……

Chapter Three – My First Real Friend.

It may surprise you to know that I learnt to speak Cat before I fully understood human talk. When I was twelve weeks old Sally took me to the place with the strong smells again and I remembered the sharp pain that I had experienced last time and was ready this time.

I did not understand the word that the man who gave me the sharp pain said when I sank my teeth into the soft part of his hand but it was very loud.

By this time I had learnt quite a few words as Sally and David talked to me all the time. At first I only got the basics like ‘sit’ and ‘good boy’ which always seemed to be accompanied by a small piece of chicken and because this treat was my favourite at the time I made a point of remembering these words as it obviously pleased her.

What I did not understand at the time was the conversation that Sally had with the man with the sharp object. He apparently told her that I would end up with a vocabulary of about fourteen to twenty words. How wrong can a man be.

However, on our return from this visit, to what I now know to be the vet, I was allowed a little more freedom and was introduced to the front garden of the house.

The previous owners had built the house in the middle of a two acre plot with nearly an acre of garden to the front, half that again at the back as garden then the remaining left as wild meadow.

The cultivated part of the property was laid out with hundreds of bushes and trees as the previous owners both belonged to families with garden centres who had obviously been very generous. The one drawback was the size of the lawns which required the hire of a local odd jobber with a wonderful smelly monster that he rode up and down on and which belched regularly. One of my favourite games was slipping out of the front door unnoticed and barking encouragement to monster and driver as they drove slightly crookedly across the lawn.

It was a wonderful playground for a young dog but the reason I had not been allowed to play out there until now was because another dog was also using it as his territory. He would crawl under the flimsy fence whenever he felt like it and for months I thought his name was “That Bloody Danny” since that is what my mistress called him each time she saw him peeing on her begonias in front of the house. His name was actually just Danny and he was a rather daft Spaniel who was also rather lacking in manners but more about him later.

There were also other creatures that used the gardens and meadow at the back of the house, such as foxes, feral cats and rabbits all of whom might have been infected with disease. Hence my fenced off area by the kitchen door with my kennel, sun beds and pool, affectionately known as Costa del Sam and one of my favourite summer hangouts. Funny that I would end up living on the Costa del Sol when I was five years old.

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Back to my new found freedom. I was due to have a final vaccination at about fourteen weeks but the vet said that I should be safe enough in the rest of the garden.

Sally and David had been living in the house for about a year when I arrived and I did not know that I was not the first four legged person on the premises.

One morning Sally left me outside the front door for a couple of minutes whilst she went back inside for one of my new balls to play with. The moment that she stepped through the doorway I heard a strange sound coming from around the side of the garage that was joined to the front of the house.

“Pzzt.” It was a sound that I was unfamiliar with and being young and foolish I immediately tottered towards the side of the house.

I poked my head around the corner and found myself nose to nose with a rather mucky, aromatic, white and ginger creature with one eye that seemed to move independently of the other.

I leapt in the air and shot backwards convinced that this very smelly individual was going to attack me.

“Calm down for goodness sake otherwise she will be out here.”

I got every other word of this because despite this creature’s efforts to talk Dog he was disadvantaged by only having two or three teeth and he lisped rather badly.

“I’ve been waiting for you to be let out here, you’ve got it cushy haven’t you in your little pad out the back?”

I was beginning to understand a little more of this garbled delivery and wondered how this strange creature had managed to learn to speak my language.

It was almost as if it read my mind because it turned around and waving a rather bedraggled ginger tail in the air he looked over his shoulder.

“I grew up around sheep dogs and learnt how to talk to them very early on.” The creature strode off around the back of the house with me in tow, totally mesmerised.

As soon as it got to the back garden it turned and sat motioning with its head for me to do the same.

“She gave me the name of Henry, don’t ask me why but as she saved my life it was the least I could allow her to do.”

I was fascinated but at that moment Sally began calling from the front of the house and she sounded rather panicky.

“Sam, Sam where are you?”

Henry cocked his head in her direction and winked at me.

“Don’t worry I will carry on with the story next time you are in your play pen, off you go now before she gets hysterical.”

I turned tail and raced around the side of the house and wagged my tail beseechingly at her.

“There you are, good boy, I was worried something had happened to you.”

I desperately wanted to please her and when she picked my up I licked her face noting that she had just eaten something sweet and tasty.

After we had played ‘roll around on your back and get your tummy rubbed’ and ‘chase the ball’ Sally put me in my play area behind the house whilst she walked around the house with a large animal that made sucking noises. I had already demonstrated that I found the long cord attached to this monster rather biteable so she put me outside whilst she played with it herself.

I had only just settled my self down with one of my rubber toys that I enjoyed impaling with my small teeth when a ginger and white blur leapt up onto one of the wooden posts of my enclosure and from there to the top of my kennel.

3.2_me_and_my_lamb_called_larry

Thank you for coming to read my story.. next time Henry spills the beans on his dramatic life so far.

©Sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

What’s in a Name- Short Story – ‘E’ for Eric – Alone


The name Eric is derived from the Old Norse name Eirikr and means ‘one’, ‘alone’ or in certain parts of Scandinavia ‘eternal’.

What’s in a Name – ‘E’ for Eric – Alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sally wedding day 1980His visitor remained impassive and kept eye contact, which rather disconcerted Eric who was not used to animals, especially cats. Billie had been allergic to them and since they had travelled a great deal, particularly when he had retired from the police force, there had never been an opportunity to bring one into their home.

The cat was virtually the first visitor to the house in the year since his wife had died. One or two of the neighbours had popped in with shepherd’s pie or offers to come to Sunday lunch, but after several polite rejections of both food and invitations they had given up on him. Except of course for Widow Twanky across the road who was looking for husband number four. Perhaps his having been a copper had a bearing on the lack of neighbourly communication. There was no doubt that they liked having one on the street as a deterrent to some of the criminal fraternity, but socialising was quite another thing. You never know what guilty secret might slip out after a couple of glasses of wine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They lived together but remained aloof. It was to be six weeks before Doris approached him as he sat leafing through his photograph album on the other end of the sofa where she normally lay. He tentatively put out his hand and stroked the top of her head and then down her sleek back which she obligingly arched. She nudged closer and he placed his arm around her. He was amazed by the loudness of the delighted purr that vibrated in her chest. He looked back down at the album open to the photographs of his and Billie’s wedding day forty five years ago. It was the sixties and his long red hair hung down to his shoulders; his lovely Billie who had only been twenty at the time had sparkled in her cream dress and fake fur cape. She used to call him her Viking warrior, and would tell him as they lay in each other’s arms at night how safe he made her feel.

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

‘How do you fancy a bit of tuna for supper Doris?’ He rubbed a tender spot beneath her chin. ‘Then I have to pop out for a couple of hours to meet some old work mates down the pub.’

©sallycronin What’s In a Name – 2015

I hope you enjoyed Eric’s story and you will the others in the series in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/whats-in-a-name-short-stories/

 

I would love your feedback and please feel free to share the story via the links.

Thanks Sally