Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Queenie – Coming to life again by Sally Cronin


Welcome to the first of the short stories this weekend from volume two of What’s in a Name.  Meet Queenie who finds new purpose in her life following the death of her husband.

Queenie – Coming to Life again

Queenie Denton contemplated the crumbs on the plate in front of her. She barely remembered eating the toast and marmalade and wondered if she was losing her marbles.

It was six weeks since her husband of fifty-five years, Donald, had died peacefully clasping the silver cross he had bought at a charity shop in the high street the month before. He was not a religious man, but he had worked for an insurance company as man and boy, and she supposed he thought it prudent at eighty years old to cover his bets. She on the other hand went to church every Sunday and was a member of the church ladies group that arranged the flowers and kept the place spotless between services.

They called themselves the Holy Dusters, and she realised with a pang that she missed seeing her friends every few days. They had been marvellous of course, bringing around Victoria sponges and sitting with her in the first few weeks, but she had then begun to ignore the doorbell; sitting in solitude in Donald’s recliner.

She must make the effort and get back to normal. She could just imagine what her husband would have to say about the state of the house, and the fact that she had not put her make-up on for weeks.

There were a few other things she had neglected since Donald had suddenly collapsed and been rushed into hospital. She had cancelled her regular Wednesday morning hair appointment and she could see that her normally pristine and beautifully manicured nails needed immediate attention.

She picked up her plate, cup and saucer and popped them into the kitchen sink before reaching for the telephone on the wall.

Two days later, looking and feeling more like herself; Queenie put the telephone down from talking to Mavis who was in charge of the dusting rota. She would be starting back next Tuesday; giving her time to get her own house in order. But, with Donald gone and nobody to fuss over, she needed a project and immediately her mind veered to thoughts of her as yet single granddaughter Penny. Now there was a challenge if ever there was one.

Penny was a brilliant psychiatrist who worked at the local hospital. Tall and rather striking, she had never married, and at thirty-five didn’t seem to have any interest in doing so. Queenie loved her dearly, but having set her heart on being a great grandmother before she followed Donald into the great beyond, she felt it was time for an intervention.

The following Saturday with her house back to spick and span order, Queenie piled a tray with cups, coffee pot and red velvet cupcakes and carried it into the living room where Penny was removing her coat and scarf.

‘Here we are darling,’ Queenie smiled warmly at her granddaughter, who came over and took the heavy tray from her.

‘Those cupcakes look delicious Nana. Are you back to baking again?’ Penny placed the tray on the coffee table and sat in the chair next to her grandmother.

‘No dear, I must be honest, I bought them from the new bakery next to my hairdressers and I must admit to trying one or two already.’

Niceties out of the way, Queenie decided to get a few details ironed out before she outlined her project for her granddaughter.

‘Penny,’ she started hesitantly. ‘I hope you don’t mind me being a little indelicate, but are you in the wardrobe?’

Penny cocked her head to one side and contemplated her grandmother, barely able to contain her laughter.

‘Whatever do you mean Nana,’ she composed herself.

‘Well I was in the hairdressers the other day, reading a magazine where a young woman about your age said that she had recently come out of the wardrobe to her parents, and they had not been very understanding.’

‘Ah… I get it now Nana; actually it is usually referred to as being in the closet, and do you know why she might have been in the closet?’

‘Of course darling, I am not that old fashioned, and in fact when I was a young woman it was quite common for two maiden ladies to move in together and not to marry. It was understood that there was an arrangement and nobody really thought anything about it. Of course it was much more difficult when two young men moved in together; which never seemed fair to me.’

Penny was relieved to hear that her grandmother understood the situation so well, but felt that she ought to put her grandmother straight on her own state of affairs.

‘Nana I’m not gay and I wondered why you should think that?’ She looked at Queenie in amusement.

‘Well, you have often said that you have no intention of marrying or having children, and I just feel that it is such a shame to go through life alone.’ Queenie paused for a moment and gathered her thoughts.

‘Marriage is not always perfect, and goodness knows I drove your poor grandfather to distraction with my little foibles. Not to say that he didn’t have his own, although it was difficult to get him to admit it. But, our love was strong enough to weather any storm and I just wish that you could experience that for yourself.’

Penny looked down at her ringless hands and tried to forget that she was a psychiatrist for a moment, and just a granddaughter who was about to share her very private thoughts for the first time.

‘Nana,’ she began quietly. ‘When I was at university I fell in love with another student. He was two years ahead of me studying medicine, and when we met at one of the dances we clicked immediately.’

Queenie leant forward in her chair watching her normally composed granddaughter struggle to tell this story.

‘Go on darling,’ she encouraged smiling across the space between them.

‘His name was Aaron Bernstein and came from Israel. We moved in to a flat together a year before he finished his degree, and he was planning on doing his hospital rotations here in England until I finished my own. However his parents came over to visit shortly before he graduated, and told him in no uncertain terms, that they would disown him if he chose to marry someone not of their faith.’

Tears rolled down Penny’s cheeks and she took a tissue out of her handbag.

Queenie was speechless, she had not heard this story before and she was angry that her son, Penny’s father, had kept it from her.

‘Did your parents know about this Penny?’ She tried not to sound hurt and angry.

‘No, Nana, I told no-one, especially when Aaron felt that he could not go against his parents and disappoint them. He returned to Israel straight after graduation and I haven’t heard from him since.’ She paused and looked at her grandmother’s expression of dismay.

‘I did try to find him by searching online for a number of years but I eventually gave up and tried to put him out of my mind.’

This was a bombshell indeed and Queenie felt herself getting very angry at this dreadful slight against her only granddaughter.

‘I’m so sorry darling,’ she reached across and held Penny’s hand. ‘Haven’t you been out with anyone else in the last ten years that you might have had feelings for?’

Penny smiled at her grandmother’s concerned face. ‘I have dated quite a bit Nana, but never met anyone like Aaron. He was simply my soul mate and I don’t want to settle for less.’

This disturbing conversation replayed over and over in Queenie’s mind in the next few days and after her next visit to the hairdressers, and after reading a very interesting article, she contacted her friend Doris.

The next day she arrived at her friend’s house looking immaculate in her a new emerald green jacket and her pearls. She was not going to make her debut on the international worldwide webby thing looking anything but her best.

Doris led her into her dining room where the two of them sat side by side in front of a computer screen.

‘Now Queenie, you said that you wanted to find your granddaughter a soul mate online so I have got the links for some recommended dating sites we can try.’ She looked over to her friend to see if they were on the same page.

‘Actually Doris, I have something else in mind after reading an article in a magazine yesterday.

She slipped a piece of paper across the table to Doris who picked it up to study.

‘Okay, that is an interesting approach,’ and with that she typed in the link onto the screen.

Two weeks later Penny was surprised to get a phone call from her grandmother at nearly midnight, and was immediately concerned that Queenie was unwell.

She assured her granddaughter that all was fine, but she needed to see her on Saturday morning urgently. Queenie uttered a quick ‘love you’ and put the phone down.

Penny duly arrived at ten in the morning and was relieved to see that Queenie was resplendent in pink jacket and beautifully presented as normal. Her only concern was that she looked slightly flushed and over excited, and she wanted to get to the bottom of it right away.

‘Okay Nana, I’m here so what is so urgent?’

Queenie placed her hand on her heart and took a deep breath.

‘Darling, I know that you feel that there could never be another soul mate for you and I do understand that,’ she paused before continuing in a rush ‘I hope you don’t mind but I have done something rather serious.’

‘What have you done Nana?’ Penny was not sure where this was leading but she had a suspicion that she was not going to enjoy it.

‘Well darling, you said that it was several years since you last checked online to find Aaron, so I thought that I would give it a shot, and Doris and I have been investigating. Penny who had no idea that her grandmother even knew how to switch on a computer was stunned at this surprising development.

Seeing the bemused look on Penny’s face, Queenie took her by the hand and led her into the living room where she pulled her down to sit beside her on the sofa.

‘Darling, I found him, I found your Aaron.’ Penny put a trembling hand over her mouth and stared at Queenie completely speechless.’

Queenie excitedly continued. ‘I found him on this place called LinkedIn and it has to be the right one. He served in the Israeli army for ten years before going to America where he is a top heart surgeon at a large hospital in New York.’

‘Oh my God Nana, I don’t believe it.’ Penny stared at her grandmother as if she had never seen her before.

‘And that’s not all,’ Queenie continued. ‘Doris is on LinkedIn too because of the fancy job that she had so she was able to send him a message thingy, asking him if he was the one who trained in England and knew a girl called Penny.’

Completely mortified Penny stood up and walked to the window. Her heart was thumping madly in her chest and she could barely breathe. She couldn’t bring herself to believe that this would lead anywhere; after all he was probably married with children by now.

At that moment she saw a black taxi pull up outside the house and the back door open. A tall man with slightly greying hair got out and leant through the front window as he paid the driver. He turned and opened the gate, walking briskly to the front door. He turned as he caught a movement in the bay window and after a moment of simply staring at each other, he smiled, his eyes crinkling in a very familiar way.

She heard Queenie walking down the hall to open the door and then footsteps across the parquet flooring.

Penny held her breath with her eyes closed as she felt his presence behind her and then his two hands gently resting on her shoulders.

He pulled her back in to him and whispered in her ear.

‘I am sorry I was not brave enough then. Please forgive me and tell me it is not too late.’

They did not hear the front door close or see Queenie as she walked down the path and disappeared from view.

She was smiling as she made her way to Doris’s house; eager to get cracking on their next adventure online which was to sign up for one of those Mediterranean cruises in the Spring. She was sure Donald would not approve, but as Doris reminded her, you are only young once.

©Sally Cronin

My latest book, Tales from the Irish Garden, has received some recent reviews

About Tales from the Irish Garden

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree. Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature.

Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight. As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell.

This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..

One of the recent reviews for the book

Tales from the Irish Garden is a wonderful book. It has the magic of the Narnia Chronicles, the mystery of The Secret Garden and the delight of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.

As I read this book I became completely immersed in the world of Fairy Queen Filigree and her court. I shared her anxiety as she searched for a new home where her people and bees could be safe and participated in her delight when the perfect spot is found on the faraway Emerald Island.

It is not an easy task to undertake such a big move but the fairies managed it admirably with the help of some of their friends. The Storyteller, a delightful elderly man, is a wonderful new character you will meet and get to know and he proves himself to be kind, thoughtful and understanding. In no time at all the fairies are settled into their new home, kitted out in clothing more suitable for the colder, damper weather and even aided in meeting new friends.

Of course, life is never straightforward and Queen Filigree and the fairies experience their ups and downs, losses, romances and worries as they adapt to their new environment. There are plenty of celebrations and happy moments to smooth the way and it all makes for a very entertaining read.

The illustrations in this book are deserve a mention as they are amazing. They are the creations of talented illustrator Donata Zawadzka.

Read the reviews and buy the book Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

Here is a selection of my other books… an amazing gif designed by Paul Andruss… thanks Paul

You can find details of all my books in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you enjoyed this short story… always enjoy your feedback Thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – Linda Bethea – The Letter #Family #Humour


Time for another of Linda Bethea’s humour filled and heartfelt posts about family life. This week having a mother-in-law stay can be an adventure…. You can find Linda’s other posts Here

The Letter

Illustration by Kathleen Holdaway Swain

Grandma Holdaway came from Texas to spend a couple of weeks two or three times a year.

On arrival, Grandma was always in high spirits, delighted to see her youngest daughter and grandchildren after a long absence. She arrived, laden with gifts for us all, even including a pair of socks, ashtray, or coffee cup for Daddy. It was always clear she and Daddy were trying to get along for Mother’s sake, a woman they both loved. Their efforts wore thin as the days wore on, particularly on his days off when he couldn’t escape her questions about his personal business and his extended family. None of this endeared her to Daddy, an impatient man. Had he been an animal, he’d have made a fine bear. The grouchier he got, the moodier Grandma got. It must have been wonderful for Mother, being caught between them.

To start with, Grandma was clannish. She had no real use for those outside her own family. Accustomed to running her own family’s activities, she suffered in a situation she couldn’t tightly control. So did everyone else. Any or all of Daddy’s six fertile siblings were ever present on weekends. Visits were bedlam, with kids running wild, screaming, banging doors, and knocking little ones about, should a Mother be so careless as not to keep them in a defensible distance. Daddy’s Mother, Mamaw, was usually there, too, unless she lost her nerve and needed a sanity break. For some reason, if Grandma was there, Mamaw almost always came. In theory, they were friends, though sometimes they could have passed for sparring partners.

Grandma loved to go to town. She was always the first to the car, despite having mobility problems after a stroke in her sixties. She balanced her gait by carrying a huge black purse on her affected side. She said it kept her straight. Grandma got through a hellish Sunday with family by looking forward to a trip to town on Monday. All she had to do was somehow keep her sanity.

Late, Sunday evening, Grandma got the news she wouldn’t be going to town with Mother on Monday. Mother had to take a neighbor and wouldn’t have room for her. Not only that, Grandma had already been visiting two weeks and was descending into gloom by the time she got a call from her son. She had expected him to pick her up in a day or so, but he post-poned his trip for another two weeks. It didn’t make her or my dad happy to know they had another two weeks to spend together. My dad was on strike at the time, throwing them together, even more. His family’s visit that weekend enhanced an already perfect storm. I expected them to kill each other!

I will transcribe for you.

Dear BL, Just time for word. Hope all are getting along all right. Sure hope your daddys neck is feeling better I don’t feel too good Such a crowd here last night Bonnie, Edward, their 3 kids & Geneva came Ester, Junie, and their 5 hienas. Cat Young & her bunch of Angel then 2 bunches of neighbors & their familys & it was so quiet it hurts my ears til yet. running & slamming doors. I thought they would never leave. Kack(my mother)is fixing to take Cat Young to Springhill she has to go to the bank on business & Arnold had to go help Edward finish his filling station today & use his car& he ask her to take her to the bank. I intended to go & found out Kack was going to take all her kids. I better close. O I talked to John yest he ask me if I’de mind staying here two weeks longer til schools out that he hated to come one day & go back the next.so I told him I’de wait they are beginning to make a little progress in their talks about settling the strike they are all hoping the mill will open after July the 4th Bill got to work 2 days for another construction job, he had to walk the picket line last night for an hour for two must close Kacks ready to start tell your daddy Bill is wanting to give away their big collie does he want him to go with Blue. Must stop now. Please write soon. Love to all Grandma

I had forgotten until I reread this letter that Grandma didn’t bother with punctuation, though she had been a teacher.

©Linda Bethea 2018

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

win_20160620_13_24_45_proHere is Linda with a little bit about herself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the many excellent reviews for the book.

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

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

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

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

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

Also by Linda Bethea

About the book

WOMEN OF STRENGTH, FORTITUDE, AND BRAVERY

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect to Linda

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

My thanks to Linda for sharing her story and she would love your feedback. Thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – Life with the Lennicks by Jason Lennick


Please welcome freelance writer, designer and social media specialist, Jason Lennick to the blog, with a witty and entertaining look at being part of the Lennick family.

Life with the Lennicks by Jason Lennick

I was brought into this world by two kind and decent people who wanted nothing but the best for me. Sadly they fell upon hard times and were forced to sell me to Joy and Eric Lennick for ten shillings and a packet of Hobnobs. And things deteriorated further when my brother Damon arrived on the scene some year and a half later, to steal my thunder (and my peace and quiet).

Younger brother Robert completed the picture, a beautiful child with angelic features and a winning smile that would one day conquer the nightclubs of Romford like Attila the Hun, but with better teeth.

Childhood was a confusing time and never more so than when Dad would randomly refer to us as Fred, Bill or George. But he was a kind man and worked hard to ensure our fridge was always filled with at least seven kinds of pickles. My beloved Mother Joy, when not scribbling poetry, could often be found in the kitchen, toiling for hours over vast cauldrons of soup, or exotic delicacies of Welsh-Jewish-fusion cuisine. Dad would torture/regale us over dinner with devastating puns and tales of his life in the army post WW2, and we would bicker and gulp down our food greedily like the little ingrates we were. Children are monsters.

All families have their quarrels and siblings inevitably squabble and scrap at times. Of course not all families deal with it in the same way, and perhaps the full-size boxing ring, complete with seating and judges was a little unconventional. I sometimes like to think I coulda’ been a contender.

My memory is a little hazy now, but I can still recall my parents taking us on long trips in the car: to the coast or the dark woods, far from our semi-civilized Essex home town. And yet somehow we always managed to find our way back, much to their chagrin.

Despite all the rivalry, the tantrums and the tears of family life, we made it to adulthood relatively sane and with most of our teeth. And there were so many happy moments to treasure: watching favourite TV shows together on our eight inch, steam-powered black and white television set; Christmas parties with beloved aunts and uncles and my first taste of alcohol; visits to our kind and loving grandparents; the smell of those roast dinners drifting up the stairs on a Sunday; football in the park and swimming at the Lido; riding our bikes for hours, on those crazy, hazy days of Summer. Where did the years go?

Now, each day, as I kneel before a vast golden altar to the gods of Monty Python, I recite a little prayer: “Dearest Mum and Dad (and the other two), may the gods smile upon you all and keep you safe and well. And may all Dad’s puns be forgiven. Amen, Shalom, Ni!” And somewhere, far off in some exotic distant corner of the globe (actually Alicante, Spain), I can almost hear someone say: “Ni!” right back.

Some might doubt whether my account of life with the Lennick’s is entirely true, or if perhaps a pinch (or a large sack) of salt might be in order. One thing that I can tell you in absolute honesty is this: my parents gave us a wonderfully warm, loving and supportive upbringing. The New Year’s Honours list doesn’t include a category for good parenting, but if it did they’d be a shoo-in.

Joy and Eric Lennick

©Jason Lennick 2018
Jason is halfbananas

About Jason Lennick

It’s tough growing up in the bug and ‘gator infested swamp-lands of Louisiana. So it was just as well that I was born and raised in the relatively ‘gator-free south of England.

When I reached the tender age of forty, my parents callously abandoned me, seeking a life of sunshine and sangria on the Costa Blanca in Spain. Luckily I was able to survive by using my finely-honed skills as a ninja assassin and snake-charmer.

I now have the good fortune to be residing in wonderful Copenhagen, with my long-suffering partner Ann, and a cute but very annoying old cat called Minnie, who seems to believe she is Empress of the universe. Who are we to disagree?

When not blogging, instagramming or comically mangling the unpronounceable Danish language, I can often be found arguing with strangers in Facebook groups, or creeping silently across rooftops in the dead of night with a deadly cobra in my backpack.

Connect to Jason

Freelance Designer, writer: https://www.behance.net/jasonlennick
Blog: https://halfbananas.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jasonlennick/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jasonlennick

My thanks to Jason for sharing his memories of his life as a Lennick… most of you are already very fond of Joy and her poetry and stories. It clearly runs in the family.  Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – Linda Bethea – It was a wonder to see my two Grandmas in combat.


I am delighted that Linda Bethea is going to be joining us on a more regular basis, sharing posts of family, humour and words of wisdom….

It was a wonder to see my two grandmas in combat.

Mettie Knight Swain – Mamaw

It was a wonder to see my two grandmas in combat. Daddy always dreaded seeing Grandma Holdaway, my maternal grandmother, from the start. In his defense, she was inquisitive, intent on getting all the latest on his folks as soon as the pleasantries were done. By way of explanation, I have to admit, Daddy’s family gave her plenty to be nosy about. “How is your mama? Is she still living with Ola Bea?”

Mamaw moved house more than anyone else I’ve ever seen, rarely living in a place long enough to even have to dust the furniture. It was not uncommon for her sons to move her into a place, then get the news she wanted to move again before the rent was due. I was always impressed with the little places she’d find: little duplexes, rooms in houses she’d share with a friend, garage apartments, and tiny cottages. It’s hard to imagine how someone who didn’t drive nor have a telephone could find places so readily. In the event she didn’t move out on her own, she’d move in with one of her daughters or Uncle Parnell, whose wife Julie was like a daughter to her. Uncle Parnell even built a house for her on two places where he lived. She’d eagerly anticipate moving into her new house, then get discontented after a short time and decide to move elsewhere. If he was frustrated, he never complained and moved her back in her little house as often as asked.

  My maternal grandparents Mary Elizabeth Perkins Holdaway and children. The little blonde girl is Kathleen Holdaway Swain, my mother

When the two old ladies got together, they moved in for a hug, but held each other at a distance. After a few brief pleasantries, they got to the veiled insults. They took turns with insults recycled from their last visit.

“Miz Holdaway, you’re looking mighty healthy. Looks like you might’a put on a few pounds.” Mamaw might remark, slyly.

“Lord, no. I’ve taken off weight. I was gonna bring you my nice navy church dress but I run off and left it. It just about falls off me now. I know you could use it.” Grandma retorted. “You’ll probably need if Jenny’s girl gets married. Sure looks like she could use a husband.”

Mamaw changed the subject. “I brought Willie a fresh apple cake. He does love a good cake. I guess Kathleen tries, but she just ain’t much on making cakes. I raised my girls up in the kitchen from the time they was knee-babies. Every one of ‘ems a fine cook, yes, ma’am.”

Kathleen is a fine cook. Bill don’t look like he’s missed any meals. Did Ella May and her husband ever get back together? He seems like a good man. She needs to try to get along with him.”

Me with a gaggle of my first cousins. I am the messy girl in back row standing next to woman holding baby. This was taken on Christmas. That was a new outfit Mother made me for Christmas. It didn’t survive the cousin football game. I got home missing three buttons and most of my skirt hem. Mother was not pleased.

Daddy’s family gathered together most weekends, either at our house or one of theirs. It was a madhouse of raucous adults and screaming, door-banging children, since I had more than forty first cousins. Mamaw was very casual in her affection for the herd of banshees, most concerned about getting trampled or knocked in the head by flying objects. I can’t say that I ever saw her cuddle a baby or hug a child. Please understand, I don’t mean this as a criticism, there were just too many of the little heathens to keep up with. At least she didn’t smack us when we ran by, which probably required a bit of restraint. On the other hand, Grandma only had six grandchildren that she doted on. She showered us with beautifully handmade clothes and whatever inexpensive gifts she could afford on her meager old-age pension, seventy-seven dollars a month. Though Mamaw also got by on her Old-Age Pension, Grandma’s life was probably financially easier since she and my grandpa, who had his own pension, had always lived with family, avoiding the expense of running a house.

However, Grandma did earn her way by keeping house, cooking, doing laundry, and caring for a grandchild. Though Grandma did not get a free ride at all, Mamaw was envious of what she perceived as her “easier life.” I suspect most of Mamaw’s money went toward her frequent moves. According to Grandma, Mamaw wasted a good deal of money buying Cheerios and tiny cans of Green Giant Niblet Corn. I always got the lowdown after Mamaw left. Grandma said it made a whole lot more sense to buy oatmeal and family-sized cans of corn, preferably store-brand. I was with Mamaw on that. Had I had any purchasing power, I would have gone for the Cheerios, assuming I couldn’t get Sugar Smacks. I definitely admired those tiny cans of corn. By the way, I never got a taste of either. Mamaw had way too many grandchildren to be passing out food.

©Linda Bethea 2018

About Linda Bethea.

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

win_20160620_13_24_45_proHere is Linda with a little bit about herself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the many excellent reviews for the book.

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

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

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

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

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

Also by Linda Bethea

About the book

WOMEN OF STRENGTH, FORTITUDE, AND BRAVERY

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect to Linda

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

My thanks to Linda for sharing her story and she would love your feedback. Thanks Sally.

 

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


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

Mixed Nuts Part 1 by Linda Bethea

image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, you know she’s a 5.”

“Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.” Or…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(to be continued)
©Linda Bethea 2015

About Linda Bethea.

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

win_20160620_13_24_45_proHere is Linda with a little bit about herself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the many excellent reviews for the book.

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

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

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

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

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

Also by Linda Bethea

About the book

WOMEN OF STRENGTH, FORTITUDE, AND BRAVERY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Celia – A Crisis of Faith


In the Cafe and Bookstore summer sale, I gave away several copies of my short story collection free… as an indie author, and not tied to Kindle publishing, I can share my stories freely here on the blog.. Over the last few months I have been working my way through my books, and now I would like to share the 16 stories in this first volume of What’s in a Name.

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

Celia – A Crisis of Faith

Celia sat on the edge of the wooden chair and looked around the sparse room. The bare white walls were cold and seemed to be closing in on her as if in reprimand for her decision. This room was not the only chilly environment that she had been subjected to for the last months, as news of her defection was whispered amongst those at a senior level.

She had been told to wait here over an hour ago. Her uncertainty about the future was now solidified into an icy premonition that she had made a huge mistake. This had been her life’s work, her mission and her passion. At one time she would have walked across burning coals so strong was her belief, that the life she had chosen was perfect for her. For almost all of the last twenty years she had been an exemplary example of devotion to her vocation.

She had been named after her grandmother’s much loved older sister. Great aunt Celia had entered this very order at fourteen years old and had died sixty years later as the Mother Superior of the convent. The younger members of the family had never been privileged to meet her. However, her grandmother spent many hours with Celia, talking about how proud the family had been of the devoutness of this legendary figure. Even as a child Celia had felt the weight of obligation and the need to honour the previous owner of her name.

Once in her teens and slightly at odds with the changing world around her; it became apparent to the devout Celia that she was destined to follow in the footsteps of her great aunt. At age eighteen she had entered the convent and had never stepped outside of its high stone walls since that day.

Through the years as a novitiate and then following her final vows, she had embraced the life completely. The order rose each day at 5.00 am and spent the day in prayer and working within the convent and its gardens. When Celia retired each night to her small and austere room, she would remember her family in her prayers, even as their faces began to fade.

She couldn’t identify the moment with any certainty, when doubts about her life resulted in sleepless nights, and loss of concentration during prayers. She found herself experiencing flashbacks to a time when her days seemed filled with laughter and light. Though frivolous, she also remembered teenage years and dancing with her sister to the latest hit record, as a brightly coloured skirt whirled around her knees.

She had tried to put these forbidden thoughts aside, but she no longer felt peaceful or joyous, as she dressed in her habit each morning in the cold dark of winter. She certainly no longer had the lightness of heart of the early years here in the convent. Like cracks in the dry earth these doubts had grown and spread through her being; until she could no longer be silent.

What she did feel was a huge sense of guilt. The thought of the shame that she was bringing on the name of her great aunt, who obviously had been far more steadfast in her devotion, consumed her. Her spiritual family here in the order would also be confused and hurt by her betrayal. She could only imagine how much her parents would be disappointed, and she dreaded the thought of facing them.

Across the room on a narrow iron bed, stacked in a neat pile, were the garments that she had worn daily for the last twenty years. As she looked at the folded robes and undergarments, she reflected on how little there was to show for all her time in the convent. She felt very strange in her new clothes that had been sourced from a store cupboard in the depths of the old building. Just for a moment she missed the all-encompassing safety of her former attire. She raised a hand to her short hair that felt coarse to her touch. It had been so long since it had been uncovered in public and its blunt cut and greying red hairs make her feel even more self-conscious.

The door opened and the Mother Superior stood in the doorway. She stepped back and beckoned Celia towards her, and watched as she bent to pick up the old brown suitcase by her side, that held another set of equally dated clothes.

‘Come along now,’ she ordered crisply. ‘Everyone is in chapel and you need to leave immediately.’

Celia brushed past the nun’s voluminous black habit and the firmly clasped hands across her ample middle. There was no softness to be found there or comfort. Celia faltered for a moment and saw a slight shift in the older woman’s stern features.

Closing her eyes she steadied herself against the door jam and then put one foot in front of the other. She clasped the handle of the suitcase tightly; in need of its rough texture against her palm to strengthen her resolve. In her other hand she gripped the white envelope which contained her official papers and a few notes to pay for her travel.

In silence the two women proceeded down the dark corridor and into the hall of the convent. One of the other senior sisters stood by the large oak front door and seeing them approach, opened it to the front garden. Celia paused for a moment on the doorstep and turned for one last look behind her. Her biggest regret was not being able to tell her fellow sisters about her decision, or to say goodbye. She loved them all dearly and tears filled her eyes as she contemplated the future without their warmth and support.

The two nuns stiffened postures softened for a moment; as they remembered times when their own faith had perhaps wavered momentarily. However, the rules were clear and gently the Mother Superior placed her hand on the small of Celia’s back, and pushed her clear of the door. She then stepped back into the hall and there was a resounding click as the way back was firmly barred.

The sun was shining and for a moment Celia turned her face to the blue sky and warmth. She had been Sister Monica Grace for so long that even thinking about her given name confused her. Hands trembling as the fear continued its grip; she tried to move a foot down onto the first of the concrete steps leading to the garden. It was a long walk to the gate that separated the world from this enclosed order, and she saw another sister waiting patiently to unlock and open it for her departure.

Gingerly she took her first step and then another and she managed to navigate the path to the walls behind which lay the outside world. Silently the nun used the long metal key and pulled back half of the tall wooden gate. Celia was too ashamed to look her in the eyes and slipped through the opening and onto the busy pavement.

Shockingly she was suddenly in a world that was noisy and filled with vehicles that looked alien. Pedestrians hurried along the narrow pathway and seemed oblivious to her standing in the middle of them. Especially those who were talking to themselves with some form of device held up to their ears.

Then she noticed a car parked at the kerb and a man waving his hand to urge her forward. She saw that the vehicle had the word taxi in big letters on the side and shakily moved towards this life saver in the chaos. The driver took her suitcase from her and opened the back door. He smiled reassuringly and informed her that his cab had been booked to take her to the train station. Closing the back door firmly he took his place behind the wheel. As the car pulled away from the side of the road Celia took one last look at the high stone walls of her home for so many years.

00000

The driver navigated through the heavy traffic whilst his passenger gazed around her in bewildered confusion. So many cars and people and a blur of colour as shops and restaurants flashed by the windows.

Within minutes however they arrived at the station and she was shocked to see Margaret waiting for her on the kerb. How was this possible? She had not taken advantage of the offer to make a phone call to her family, in her certainty that they would not be accepting of her decision. The driver came around to her side of the taxi and held the door open with the battered suitcase in his hand. As her sister rushed forward, Celia grasped the top of the window and pulled herself out onto the pavement. Without any hesitation her sister leant forward and throwing strong arms around her shaking body, held Celia tightly.

The two women stood back after a few moments, and holding hands, looked at each other in wonderment. Celia reached out a palm and laid it on her sister’s soft cheek. It was like looking at a mirror image; but one that was brighter and lighter than her own. Soft curly red hair with just a few strands of grey shone in the sunlight and the green eyes with traces of tears sparkled back at her.

‘How did you know where I would be?’ she stroked her sister’s arm.

‘Mother Superior called me a week ago and told me that you were not going to call us,’ Margaret paused. ‘How could you think that we would not want you to come home Cel.’

Celia subconsciously moved her fingers through her hair and Margaret laughed and
hugged her close.

‘First stop the hairdresser sis when we get home.’ she stood back and looked at Celia’s old fashioned tweed suit. ‘And we need to get you a new wardrobe.’

She gently released her sister’s fingers from her hand and picked up the suitcase lying abandoned at their feet.

‘I have missed you so much Cel. Only once a year for twenty years is torture.’ With that she placed her arm around her waist and they moved off into the station.

000000

The train flashed through the countryside at terrifying speed but as the two sisters sat side by side the ice cold fear in Celia’s chest began to thaw.

She let her twin rattle on brightly about her house, her husband Robbie, the two boys Andrew and Patrick who Celia had never met. Margaret had also brought a large envelope of photographs of all the family, including her parents, surrounded by grandchildren and pets in their back garden. Celia touched her sister gently on the arm to pause the exuberant flow of words.

‘Do they understand Mags?’ she bit her lower lip.

‘They love you Cel and have your old room ready and waiting,’ Margaret leant over to kiss Celia’s cheek. ‘They have missed you so much and whilst they respected your decision to enter into the convent, they never really forgave grandmother for encouraging you.’

Celia didn’t take her eyes off the face so like hers as she continued to relate the events of the last twenty years, embellishing the stories in a way that she had almost forgotten. She felt bathed in the warmth of the outpouring as she watched her sister’s lips moving, entranced by the unfamiliar sound of a voice talking rather than praying.

For the last few miles of the journey they sat in silence basking in the sunshine that shone through the carriage window. They held hands as they had so many times as children; a closeness that only twins share. Celia had sat in silence when at prayer thousands of times in the last twenty years, but she finally realised that the missing element had always been this closeness. The simple joy of being with each other. Knowing that there is love and an unbreakable bond between you.

She had no regrets about her life and her chosen path but she also now understood, that when joy has left and cannot be recaptured, you needed to let go and move forward in a new direction.

She also pondered the unexpected kindness shown by Mother Superior in notifying her family. She had been so terrified of taking this step that she had forgotten the compassion that her religious sisters offered to each other as part of any close knit family.

The train entered the station and the two sisters walked arm in arm along the platform until they were swallowed up and smothered by kiss and tear filled embraces from the welcoming committee.

©Sally Cronin 2015

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

You can find details of all my books in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

Smorgasbord – on the Razzle – February 15th – 21st – Reminder


Just a reminder that I am off on a girls weekend until next Wednesday with my sisters.. Well long weekend.. well very long weekend…….

I have left you in the safe hands of talented blog sitters who will be responding to your comments.. I will respond to other posts on my return.

If you cannot be good be careful.. Which is what I said to my husband when I left him in charge at home……..

See you soon… Sally   XXX

Something to Think About – Canadian Thanksgiving Day – And a chance to celebrate four years of blogging.

Status


This post was originally posted in 2015 but with everything that has happened in the last few months on the world stage it seems appropriate on the day that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving to remind ourselves of how much we have in our lives to be thankful for.

It is also four years since I posted my first blog and so a chance to thank some of those who have supported me all the way and to new friends who have brightened my life.

The original concept of Thanksgiving was one of giving thanks for a new life, new home and new friends and that tradition is celebrated around the world in one form or another by different cultures on various days throughout the year.

Today the world is so much smaller as the Internet has enabled us to find friendship, love and common ground in virtually every country that has electricity. But however global our outlook, it is always great to reflect on the people in our lives and those basic needs for our well-being such as a roof over our heads and food on our table.

There are so many who still do not have these simple but essential requirements and that makes me very thankful indeed for the fact that I do.

More than anything else it is the people in my life that have brought the greatest happiness. Some only fleetingly and others who have gone too soon. Some I have been able to physically hug or hold hands with, and others I can only do so virtually. So today I thought I would share some of those who I am thankful for.  Whatever our circumstances it is love and friendship that sustains us through good times and the worst.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you celebrating today and here are some of the things that I am very grateful for and those who will be by my side or in my thoughts.

 

Our families

sally wedding day 1980

sally wedding day 1980

Love

sally wedding day 1980

sally wedding day 1980

Old friends

sally wedding day 1980New Friends

new friends 2

A New Home

Plenty of rain for my flowers!

And last but not least a small selection of the global friends who have supported me and this blog over the last two years and certainly does not include everyone. Thank you so much and if your name is not here it is more about time and space than lack of thought!

Have a wonderful day and I hope that this will give you a nudge to whisper a thank you for everything that you have in your life…

 

Happy Thanksgiving and hugs to everyone.  ♥♥♥ Sally

Posts From Your Archives – It’s not what you look at that matters, but what you see! by Carol Taylor


Welcome to more posts from YOUR archives rather than mine. An opportunity to share blog posts from your early days of blogging or that you feel you would like to share with a new audience.. Mine. You can find details at the end of the post.

In the Monday slot until Christmas is our food expert Carol Taylor who shares fantastic recipes using my favourite healthy ingredients every Wednesday.  This week a story about her father, who forgot he was supposed to be old in the heat of the moment.

It’s not what you look at that matters, but what you see! by Carol Taylor

That is true and I think to see through a childs eyes ..well….they see the wonders of the world in all innocence and with awe… don’t they? One of the comments this week on my blog was that the prelude to my novel was really scary and would give nightmares, so I have decided to show my versatility on a Thursday each week.

Just little stories which have come about from a memory or a word or a picture conjured when visiting a place. All different, I hope you enjoy and comments are invited

My Dad.

This is a tale based on one of the many memories I have of my dad who I loved very much and miss every day, I hope you enjoy it

Sinking into the sofa with a well deserved glass of wine. I gave a long sigh, home at last.

Raising the glass to my lips, the bloody phone rang. Letting it ring I realized they definitely were not going to hang up.

“Hello who is it? “

“Mummy”

Hi Mummy, how are you?”

“I’m fine”

Whooooo that definitely wasn’t her I’m fine voice.“What’s dad done now?”

“You would never guess. That stupid man went into the garden still in his slippers. The grass was all white and frosty. How he didn’t fall I just don’t know. Saw the squirrels raiding his bird seed holders. Again! Then threw his walking stick at them, of course it missed and went flying over the wall”

“Oh dear mummy he didn’t fall over did he? “

“Fall! That stupid man went down the bottom of the garden to get his ladder from the barn.Took it down the path to the wall and dropped it over the other side of the wall”

“Oh no, I gasped, that’s at least a 6ft drop between those two walls and such a narrow gap between the wall and the next building, only about 2 feet. What’s happened?”

“Oh well that man has mush for brains. He only climbed over the wall, down the other side, picked up his stick and climbed back up .I came out of the back door just as he cocked his leg back over the wall. Men!”

“Oh no, I was horrified at the thought it conjured up in my mind.

“And then, just to top it all he slipped on the frosty grass”

“He didn’t hurt himself, did he?”

“Hurt Himself! Hurt Himself! “He just sat there laughing. Did he not realize that if he had got stuck I couldn’t have lifted him out? Michael and Suzy next door are on holiday. I would have had to call the Fire Brigade.”

Laughing I pictured my dad. My mother however did not find it at all funny.

“Carol! Stop laughing. He really could have hurt himself. No one would think he was 76 he acts like a 5-year-old at times”

I stifled my laughter.

Thanks to Carol for sharing her memories of her father and even at my tender age of 64 I sometimes forget that the mind is willing but the body has other ideas.

About Carol Taylor

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

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

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

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

Connect to Carol

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

Please feel free to share thanks Sally

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-recipes/

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Smorgasbord Poetry – Time on my Own – by Sally Cronin


Life is not one never ending fairy tale. Not many people sail through their years without encountering obstacles to their happiness and most of us, being human, contribute to the problem.

I was only twenty when I fell for an older and charasmatic man. I was told I was playing with fire but knew better. Four years later the charm offensive had just turned offensive, and I left with a couple of suitcases.

At first I thought a distance of 100 miles was sufficient but a few late night calls from friends persuaded me that I needed to put even more miles behind me and I headed to  Snowdonia in Wales to work in a hotel. Forty years ago, without the Internet you could disappear quite effectively. It eventually took me three years to disentangle myself legally and my divorce was finalised on April Fools Day 1980!.

They say that our lives are mapped out for us. I find it ironic and slightly spooky that if I had not run off to Wales I would not have met David six months after my divorce.. and that would have been the bigger tragedy.

I wrote a lot of song lyrics back then (never seen the light of day). They are good old fashioned country with plenty of angst.. But those original lyrics have formed the basis for later poetry and this is a poem about what was a short but impactful period in my life.

Time on my Own

I came to these green hills in search of peace
Away from the betrayal and blame
Hoping the distance would make nightmares cease
help me banish the feelings of shame

Some told me that it was mainly my fault
That our marriage was doomed from the start
Filling my wounds with their pinches of salt
Ignorant of what caused us to part.

Some of the truths I will take to my grave
There are others I need to let go
It is frightening but I must be brave
Learn to breathe and to go with the flow

I doubt that I will completely forget
The emotional scars of those years
And my decision I do not regret
refusing to shed any more tears.

I am young and despite all this drama
I will not let its pain mar my life
I just need time to patch up my armour
And forget I was ever your wife.

Life is taking me along a new path
Winding around and not very clear
I hope to a safe place where I can laugh
Throwing away these feelings of fear.

Will I love again I really don’t know
For now I just need space of my own
But it is time to get on with the show
To stop my heart from turning to stone.

©sallycronin