Sweet Serenity

A new day opens like a blue-front door and a deep-blue sea of escape beckons.
Whispering through the sharp grass;
brushing past the blasted sand;
this light hour lifts you out of your dark slumber
and carries you in its tender arms, until one day, you
Fly High.

Blue Door - Blue Sea (c) Sherri Matthews

Blue Door – Blue Sea
Crete (c) Sherri Matthews

There, my sweet girl, there you taste the salt-pressed air when you breathe in.
While the warm rush of a foreign sea-breeze embraces you
and sends your slept-on, matted hair into a
whipped-up frenzy of stinging rebuke against your pale face,
You Smile.

Crete July 2008 205

Crete (c) Sherri Matthews

It is there, in the cast of your cool, tired eyes as they glide from side to side that you remember a time, at day’s end, as the mountains turned red
and the water shone like glass: when you last dreamed and hoped for
Sweet Serenity.

Moclos Cove, Crete (c) Sherri Matthews

Mochlos Cove, Crete
(c) Sherri Matthews

Then, before your night descends once more to grip your heart with anxiety
think of this: locked within broken promises, as the last sigh of a golden sunset
sweeps across the skies, if only you would lift your eyes, sweet girl, there you would
Catch The Light.

Somerset Sunset (c) Sherri Matthews

Somerset Sunset
(c) Sherri Matthews

Before the darkest hour, when it is blackest before dawn and the birds don’t sing,
Know that dawn will arrive on pale wings, the hope of a new day and unbroken dreams.
It is in that hour that your broken heart heals and I wipe away your tears, when
Sweet Robin Sings.

Somerset Sunrise, April 2014 (1)

Somerset Sunrise (c) Sherri Matthews

For my daughter.

Posted in Asperger's Syndrome, Poems, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 89 Comments

What Lies In The Shadows

Has the world gone completely mad?  Bombarded with what seems like a constant drip-feed of violence, terror, and fear in the news, I was surprised to come across an article about two sets of neighbours, both in their eighties, warring over a clematis growing over their shared fence.

One neighbour planted her clematis eighteen years ago in honour of the birth of one of her grandchildren, so the story goes.  You can imagine how large it grew over all those years,  stretching along the entire length of her fence, which also borders her neighbour’s back garden.  With climbing roses growing through it,  it must have looked absolutely beautiful.

But her neighbours didn’t think so.

They decided to ‘cut it back’ from their side of the fence where it was trailing over.  This involved climbing on step-ladders and cutting all the ties holding the clematis up.   Never mind that they testified in court (yes, it went that far) that they cut only ‘four inches’ off: the owner of the clematis came outside just in time to watch in utter horror as it collapsed into a crumpled heap, broken, ruined.

Apparently, when she asked her neighbours what they were doing, the offending woman told her to go back inside and to ‘Shut your cake-hole’.

That’s British for, ‘Shut the f*** up’.

This sort of behaviour leaves me incredulous, asking how can some people be so utterly selfish and unkind? Don’t neighbours speak to one another any more?  I don’t like to think what I would do if a neighbour of mine told me to ‘shut my cake-hole’.

Then again, when it comes to neighbours…

I wonder though, what do people dream up when they sit in the shadows, alone with their resentments and unforgiving hearts?  Do they grow colder, ever-harsher, or do they, in time, learn to forgive?

Old Priory Ruin, Lewes, Sussex  (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Old Priory Ruins, Lewes, Sussex
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Do cats, in their mischief and secret ways, dream of adventures
when shadowed in their play?

Maisy In Shadow Courtesy of Daughter (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Maisy In Shadow
Courtesy of Daughter
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

What longings fill our hearts when we watch the winter sun disappear, casting water into inky-black shadow, left only with the kiss of a chilled sea-breeze?

The Cobb, Lyme Regis, Dorset, England (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

The Cobb, Lyme Regis, Dorset, England
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

It is in these places of shadow where I am safe and I am still.

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of ‘Shadowed’.

Posted in CATalogue, Creative Writing, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 114 Comments

Two Years Blogging And Still Standing

Sweet Robin in the snow, January 2013 (c) Sherri Matthews

Sweet Robin in the snow, January 2013
(c) Sherri Matthews

My Sweet Robin came by to say hello today, just as he did on the same day exactly two years ago when I wrote my first blog post.

My little, red-breasted, puffed-up muse.

I have learnt so much since that day.  About blogging, about writing and about myself.   I have also discovered a WordPress world filled with the most incredible kindness and compassion: I found all of you, dear friends!

Recently I read on another blog (and huge apologies for not remembering whose blog), that a fair size chunk of bloggers burn out after two years.  It is also common knowledge that most people who say they are going to write a book never actually do.

I do not want to become one of those statistics.

But I admit that during 2014, I had more than a few moments when I wondered how I was going to meet my goals: not because of any lack of motivation or even, at times, my crippling self-doubt.

No.  It was because of the times when I walked through the fog and stumbled time after time, when nothing I tried seemed to go right.

But I tried, I really did.  I set plans for a new writing regime, determined each time to make a fresh start, to set my focus on what it was I needed to do to meet my goals and get a proper schedule going.

Planning is good, and necessary, right?

At times like these, I can’t help but hear the words of Eldest Son’s old Scoutmaster telling his troop over and over:

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!’  Cliche I know, but it’s true.

Just ask a group of Boy Scouts who thought they had done a good job of packing all they needed for a weekend away, camping in the middle of a huge forest in California.

Until they sat down to light the fire and realised they had forgotten to bring any matches.

I found it hard to keep blogging and write my book at the same time.  I tried to set a writing schedule, doing my level best to keep disciplined enough to stick to it.  I became more determined than ever.

But ‘stuff’ happens

Things break-down (appliances, laptops, cars), people let us down, illness strikes, financial worries hit us hard and in my case, my increasing concerns for my Aspie daughter bear down, at times, too heavily.

Yet 2015 starts afresh for us all.  We hope to put the past behind us and face the new year ahead with renewed verve and vigour, with a positive outlook, and instead of looking at the bad of last year, remembering all the good, thankful for our many blessings.

So as the fog lifts, I can at last see my way clear.

I look back at my two years of blogging and get a surprise when I read the results of my WordPress Annual Stat Report for 2014.

Although my busiest day was March 4th with 205 views for WPC: Abaondoned Minoan Ruins of Crete, (and I have really enjoyed the Weekly Photo Challenges), the top three posts with the most consistent views are ones in which I’ve shared about my Aspie daughter:

I haven’t been paying much notice to my stats lately I admit, but I had noticed that The ‘Love of Animals‘ post, written in August, 2013, is viewed several times every day.  Sometimes a reader leaves a comment. Somebody must have posted it on their Facebook page which has generated, to date, 107 hits.

Back in May, 2013, four months into blogging, I wrote ‘No Longer Invisible Darling Girl‘ in response to the sometimes overwhelming sadness that I carry in my heart for my daughter’s struggles.  A blogger named seventhvoice left me a beautiful comment and re-blogged it. In reading my report now, it amazes me to see that seventhvoice is my top referring site.

Knowing that something I’ve written along the way which has encouraged and helped others living with and affected by Asperger’s Syndrome makes my heart soar.  I know we are not alone in the struggle and I can tell my story from a mother’s heart.

My blog had visitors from 116 countries with 31,000 views. That would be the same as 11 sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, apparently.  I find that hard to visualise to be honest.   Most visits come from right here in the UK,  but America and Australia follow close behind. Love you guys!

Thank you so, so much to you all, dear ones!

So I begin the year as always with optimism, putting all troubles behind and with a new writing regime (in the Summerhouse every morning, no social media, no phones, switched off, just writing), and a heart overflowing with the deepest of gratitude for you all.

New Year Hopes

Shared with me by a dear friend on Facebook

I couldn’t have done it without you and that’s the truth.

When I jumped into my little homemade boat two year’s ago and rowed out to sea, searching for my new life as a writer, I had two choices: keep rowing or sink.

Well, I’ve come close to sinking a few times but you, my lovely people, have thrown me a life-line every single time.  And so I keep rowing across that shining sea and I won’t stop until I reach my destination.

So here’s to a great year ahead. And to kick-start things off, I would like to share some good news with publication of my article, ‘Memories of Hintlesham Hall’ in the January edition of Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine.  You can view the digital copy here, my article is on pages 88-89.   I sincerely hope you enjoy the read.

We are in this together.  We are sharing our stories.  And I couldn’t be more thankful. 

Posted in Asperger's Syndrome, Blogging, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 146 Comments

Put It In The Airing Cupboard And Have A Cup Of Tea

Greetings and the very best Happy New Year wishes to you all!

I hope you had a truly wonderful Christmas.  Christmas for us was a lovely affair despite the crazy chaos of the build-up and yes, I was more than ready for that bottle glass of Prosecco on Christmas Eve.

Christmas cheer with Mum  (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Christmas cheer with Mum
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

At that point, no matter what (including but not limited to: a threatened water leak from the toilet, television black out – darn, should have bought a new one on Black Friday – and the arrival of a nasty cough and cold generously shared by one and all), I didn’t care what happened.

With all my chicks back in the nest for a few days, a silly hat to wear and a glass of bubbly in my hand, what more could I ask?

But it is great to be back after what seems an age of non-blogging (I missed you!). And non-writing.  That’s right, I haven’t written one word.

I knew it would be impossible for me to return to blogging and writing until now, today.  But it has been an amazingly productive thinking time, a time to ponder what it is I’m doing here and what I really want to achieve in my writing. I’ll be sharing more about this later in the week. Two year’s blogging anniversary coming up, believe it or not!

So how has the year started off for you?  Well, I hope.   Ours kicked off in, well, not the most usual of ways but then you wouldn’t expect anything less from the Summerhouse would you?

Firstly though, hubby and I enjoyed a couple of walks during a brief spell of proper winter weather (two days, oh joy!).  The sort of day when the winter sun casts its pale, white light upon the frost-bitten ground and your breath makes soft clouds in the crisp, clear air.

Somerset Frost December 2014 (c) Sherri Matthews

Somerset Frost December 2014
(c) Sherri Matthews

New Year’s Eve found us at a house party, friends of  friends, none of whom we knew. Their friends had a macaw which was allowed out of its huge cage the size of a small room to sit on a mobile perch with us so that it could join in with the fun.

This macaw is ten feet tall with the wing span of a small plane.  And although, dear readers, who know that I adore all birds, I am usually freaked out by them flapping about inside, particularly if they fly near me.  I am just the same with butterflies and moths. No rhyme or reason, no explanation.

Keeping one rather nervous eye on Mr. Macaw (or Mrs, as his/her owners didn’t know: they are very hard to sex apparently. I did learn some interesting facts about these beautiful creatures), I admit that I found him (as I’ll call him) rather fascinating. Z8600064-Scarlet_Macaw-SPL

So long as he stayed put on the other side of the room.

But then, just as midnight struck, we all jumped up to hold hands and sing Auld Lang Syne, and wouldn’t you know it, that macaw let out an almighty ‘squawk’ and took off, flying in a complete circle mere inches above our heads.

I felt my hair move in its wake.

The strange thing is that I remained calm.  ‘Oh, was that a macaw that just flew over my head?  Well, I never…’ Surreal.

Back home, coughing up a storm by now and finally falling to sleep in the small hours, I was brusquely awoken by the sounds of my despairing daughter crying in her bedroom. I shot out of bed, worried sick as to what might have happened.

She had accidentally spilt a bottle of water all over her brand new laptop and was utterly distraught, thinking she had broken it and had lost all her recent work.

I really couldn’t believe that yet another thing had broken. I was at a low ebb, putting it mildly, plus I could barely talk (I was losing my voice from the coughing at that point) and both Aspie D and I were a crumpled, crying mess together.  Middle of the night stuff will do that to you.

Then at last Hubby emerged (he sleeps like a log), and helped Daughter with practical advise (thank God he is a calm man) as she managed to look up what to do on her mobile phone: stand laptop upside down like a teepee and leave it to dry for a good 48 hours.  The good news is that it was only water, as if it had been something like a sugary fizzy drink, it would have been a bigger problem.  Apparently.

But I also had a great idea and blurted out,  ‘Put it in the airing cupboard!’

I adore my airing cupboard.  It is the answer to so many of life’s problems.  Got caught in a downpour and shoes soaking wet? Stuff them with newspaper and put them in the airing cupboard.  Knocked juice all over homework?  Put it in the airing cupboard.  It will come out crumpled and stained, but at least it will be dry.  Water damaged laptop?  There you go.

And then we had a cup of tea.  The great comfort above all comforts when in a crisis: a steaming, hot mug of sweet tea, my answer to everything.

So that’s how my new year started: Gigantic macaw flew over my head and I didn’t lose it.  Laptop dried out, files saved, crisis averted and Daughter smiling again.  I still can’t talk with more than a squeak but I can read and write. And listen.

There has to be a great message hidden somewhere amongst that lot.

Happy New Year!

Posted in Birds of a Feather, Blogging, Current Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 117 Comments

Peace In The Crazy: Signing Off For Christmas

Are you ready for Christmas?  Is your winter wonderland beckoning while you dream of a white Christmas, roasting chestnuts ’round an open fire and jingling all the way? No?  Well don’t worry – me neither.

Last week I made endless lists – to do; to buy; to bake; to clean; to organise; to run around like a headless chicken – and by no small miracle, these have now merged into one, final list.

Christmas 2012 (4)

(c) Sherri Matthews

With two days to go before my family arrives I am pushed to the wire, but at least the Christmas tree is up and decorated.

Ahh…Christmas trees.  Such things of beauty when doing what they are supposed to do, such as stay in place.   Unlike the year when I walked into the living room only to find the tree lying on the floor surrounded by broken ornaments and two, wild-eyed kittens.

In an effort to make everything so darn perfect for that one special Christmas Day, it seems that we may as well write an open invitation for misadventure to walk in through the front door.

For one thing, no matter what, every Christmas one of the kids got ill, usually the night before they were due to take part in a nativity play.

I’ve lost count of all the times candle wax has gone where it shouldn’t have.

Then there was the year when the Christmas cake I had spent hours lovingly baking and icing in my determination to bring my English roots into the American ‘Holidays’, got covered in ants.

And let’s not even touch the subject of Christmas road-rage (good job I was on the ball when that idiot on the roundabout cut me up).  So much for goodwill to mankind.  I’m not perfect, I know, but I try, I really do.

I like to think it is as perfect as it can ever be when I take in sights such as the Christmas beauty of Sherborne Abbey (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Christmas is as perfect as it can ever be at times such as these…breathing in the quiet solitude of Sherborne Abbey,what joy struck my heart as I marvelled at its magnificent beauty. (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Yet, we hold onto the hope that Christmas will indeed be perfect and put ourselves through so much to meet this ideal.  Stress piled upon more stress.

Earlier in the week, I was traipsing through a shop pulling one of those plastic shopping baskets on wheels behind me.  It was crammed to overflowing with all those things we don’t want to run out of over Christmas like food bags, laundry detergent, kitchen foil and yes, toilet paper, the biggest pack I could find (I’ve got a house full this Christmas, say no more…).

Yet to do my grocery shopping across town, I desperately made my way to the check out to the strains of ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ booming out from the speakers accompanied by the constant thud, thud, thud of items falling out of my basket onto the floor.

‘Tis the season.

But, putting all this aside, I know that when I’m sitting on the sofa with a glass of chilled Prosecco on Christmas Eve with my family gathered around, it is all worth it.

It really is the season…isn’t it? 

I don’t think there are many of us left who believe in this ‘myth’ of the perfect Christmas, but I do believe that it isn’t all doom and gloom.  Yes, there are those who are alone: My dad is one of them.   Ever since he was released from prison at the end of November I haven’t heard a word from him, which is what I expected. I can but hope and pray that he is being looked after wherever he is.

Taking time out to visit the Christmas Tree Festival last weekend and then sharing the photos here with you all brought me great joy amidst all the craziness.

The ‘knitted’ tree proved to be the most popular, but there is one more ‘knitted’ photograph I saved until today…

Knitted Christmas Nativity, Cheap Street Church, Sherborne But the angel said to them,  "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people."' (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Knitted Christmas Nativity, Cheap Street Church, Sherborne
But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”‘
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

No matter where you are or who you are with, I wish you a Christmas filled with joy and hope and a New Year filled with every blessing;  I wish for you a smile from a stranger, a kind word or deed from a friend and peace and calm to live in your hearts.

**********************************

I’m signing off from blogging now until the New Year. I’ll say my goodbyes, but I look forward very much to catching up with you in 2015.  Thank you all, dearest friends and family for taking the time to read anything at all that I happen to scribble, and then for leaving me such loving and beautiful messages.  It’s been a tough year in many ways but one that has also brought so much that is good.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all…and in the incomparable words of Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol…

‘God Bless us Every One!’

Love, Sherri xxx

Posted in Christmas, My Dad's Alcoholic Prison | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 104 Comments

Of Angels, Christmas Tree Festivals And A Flash Fiction

Every year for one week in December, Cheap Street Church in the quaint English market town of Sherborne, Dorset, holds a Christmas Tree Festival.

Each tree is decorated by a charity or local club. This is what greets you upon first entering the church:

Entrance to Cheap Street Church, Sherborne, Dorset, England (c) Sherri Matthews

Entrance to Cheap Street Church, Sherborne, Dorset, England
(c) Sherri Matthews

Before walking along the side isles of the church to admire all the beautifully and uniquely decorated Christmas trees, my attention was immediately caught by the three trees twinkling prettily above the podium in front of the beautiful organ pipes…

(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

…then back down again to this sweet little nativity scene:

(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Each tree is adorned with hand-made decorations in keeping with the theme of the group or charity.   Twinkling brightly away within the tranquility of the church setting,  it is lovely to be able to peacefully walk around, taking time to pause quietly and remember the real reason why we celebrate Christmas.

This aptly named ‘Feed My Sheep’ tree was made by the Food Bank, a wonderful organisation helping those in need:

Food Bank Christmas Tree (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Food Bank Christmas Tree – Feed My Sheep
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Here is the Royal British Legion’s entry:

British Legion - In Remembrance (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Royal British Legion Christmas Tree – In Remembrance
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

The varied designs are all crafted so beautifully with love and care:

This one stood out for the miniature books made by the local library:

Literary Club (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Sherborne Library (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

But I adored this Christmas tree made by a local knitting club.  If you look closely, you’ll see that the strand of Christmas lights are all knitted, as well as the lovely little Angel on top of the Christmas tree:

Knitting Club Christmas Tree (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Knitting Club Christmas Tree
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

I was so taken by this little Angel, and perhaps it is by no coincidence that Charli has asked us to write our flash fiction story this week about, well, Angels!  Anything at all, so long as it is 99 words, no more, no less.    Thinking of English market towns, their churches, their shops, their pubs, and of new beginnings, here then is my flash:

Angel’s Light

Gripping the steering wheel so hard that her knuckles turned white, Misty drove into the darkest corner of the car park and switched the engine off.

In the quiet and gripped by a sudden panic, she wondered why she had ever agreed to come on this blind date.

Walking across the dimly lit car park towards the pub’s entrance, a bright light suddenly shot across the sky. Misty looked up at the pub sign, now mysteriously illuminated, as she stopped short: ‘The Angel’.

A strange peace came over her then as she saw him walking towards her, smiling brightly.

*********************

This post is also in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge of ‘Twinkle’.

Posted in Flash Fiction, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 107 Comments

A Blue Coat For Christmas: Gone, But Not Forgotten

One Christmas morning while staying with my dad and his new wife, I couldn’t believe my eyes as I tore open the wrapping paper.

There it was, my heart’s desire, the most wonderful gift I could ever have hoped for – a wool, midi-length, navy blue coat befitting the military style of the early 1970s with brass buttons and red stripes on the cuffs and pocket flaps.

It was the coat of my dreams.

During my stay that Christmas, I remember walking down the stairs from Dad’s flat in Brighton, resplendent in my new coat, thinking how with it I must have looked, as I headed out to the seafront with my brother.

There, we strapped our roller skates onto our shoes and skated up and down the promenade for hours while Dad was at work.  Life was as normal then as it would ever be.

When tired from roller skating, we gathered up what loose change we could muster from our pockets and whiled away the afternoon hours playing games at the arcades on the old pier before heading back home in time for tea.

We didn’t know it then, but that was our last time playing on old West Pier: Dad moved away from Brighton the following year and it would be another thirty years before I was to return.

Shut down in 1975 for safety reasons, it remained unused for decades.  When it burnt down in 2003, it became derelict.

West Pier, Brighton, England (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

West Pier, Brighton, England 2012
(c) Sherri Matthews

West Pier was further damaged in February this year due to the severe battering it received from the storm surges that assailed the south coast all last winter, splitting it in two.

What will become of what remains of this historical landmark looming out of the English Channel overlooking Brighton Beach?  The pier of its golden days is gone, but not forgotten.

My coat stayed with me: I was in love with it and wore it everywhere.  I must have gone on and on about it, never realising for a moment how much it pained my dear mother who could not have afforded such a present.  How could I, as a girl of eleven or twelve, understand such things?

I would soon enough but not then, not then.

She only complimented me on how nice it looked. I wasn’t used to such lavish Christmas presents; it was the most extravagant gift I ever received.

The following year, my brother and I were fortunate enough to go on a field trip with our school to France and Belgium.  I wore my coat with pride, but I wore something else: my beautiful, lilac patterned midi-dress lovingly made for me by my mum.

I still remember the softness of the cotton lawn material with its ruffled hem falling to its fashionable length of mid-calf, the drawstring ties at the front of the bodice and the long sleeves, gathered at the wrist.

I absolutely adored that dress.

Matched with long, white socks and blue, sling back shoes with the merest hint of a heel, I was ready to go.

Something from Mum and Dad.  Can’t be bad, the best of both worlds.

Looking the Part. In Belgium, 1974, Brother and Sister (c) Sherri Matthews

Looking the Part. Or so we thought. In Belgium, 1974, Brother and Sister
(c) Sherri Matthews

The coat; the dress; the shoes. All gone, but not forgotten.   Just this photograph and my memories as a warm reminder of a time in my life very much defined by the style of the day.  Not to mention my brother’s nifty little ensemble.

When he said he didn’t mind me posting family photos on my blog, I hope he realised what he unleashed.

Actually, I like to think he enjoys these trips down memory lane, blue coat or not.

****************************************

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone, But Not Forgotten.

Posted in Childhood Memories, Family Memoirs, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 120 Comments

December’s Guest Storyteller, Sherri Matthews

Sherri:

When the lovely and talented Sarah invited me to write a piece of flash fiction for her monthly Guest Storyteller feature, I was both honoured and absolutely delighted. Sarah is a speculative fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy author who also writes flash fiction, Haiku and tanka poetry (and posts some lovely photos too!) on her wonderful blog, one I greatly enjoy reading. I hope you will too, and also enjoy my guest story entitled ‘Chocolate Umbrella’, a seasonal story about a little girl’s discovery that she isn’t the only one in her family with a secret. Thank you so much Sarah, it has been a pleasure :-)

Originally posted on Sarah Potter Writes:

Sherri

Sherri is a freelance writer, published in a variety of national magazines, websites, and anthologies.  She is writing her first book, a memoir, and regularly publishes articles, memoir bites, flash fiction and poetry on her blog.  Having lived in California for twenty years, she now lives with her hubby, daughter and two cats in the West Country of England, where she walks, gardens and takes endless photographs.

You can connect with Sherri at

Blogwww.sherrimatthewsblog.com
Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/aviewfrommysummerhouse
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sherri-matthews/60/798/aa3
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/103859680232786469097/posts

Memoir Book Blurb: http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/memoir-book-blurb/ )

 #

Sarah says: Welcome to my blog, Sherri, and thank you so much for contributing a most poignant and seasonal piece of flash fiction. In Sherri’s words: “This is about a little girl’s discovery that she isn’t the only one in her family who is keeping secrets”.

#

Chocolate Umbrella 

Emma knew magic because Daddy made…

View original 430 more words

Posted in Flash Fiction, Guest Blogs | Tagged , , | 36 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge

Lines and shadows, every pastel-painted wooden hut evenly spaced,
all converge
as they blend away into the distance.

Beach Huts and Shadows

A convergence of beach huts at Budleigh Salterton, Devon, England (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

A convergence of beach huts & shadows at Budleigh Salterton, Devon, England
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Memorial Benches line the grassy slope overlooking the sea, in peaceful solitude.

Memorial Benches overlooking West Bay, Somerset (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Memorial Benches overlooking West Bay, Dorset
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

A gathering of beach huts converge along the seafront, curving down towards the sea.
Little Wooden Boxes.

Budleigh Salterton August 2014 (34)

Budleigh Salterton Sea Front (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

A foam-washed wake from a ship’s stern splits a vast ocean;
then fades into the curved horizon.

Picture 329

View from Cruise Ship Arcadia’s stern – Caribbean, March 2006 (c) Sherri Matthews

And then, back on land, a path shimmers, radiating with light’s hope as it converges
into the darkness at the top of its climb…

A Path in Somerset (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

A Path in Somerset
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

…only to find light’s welcome on the other side.

Walk to Ranworth Church, Norfolk Broads, England (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

Walk to Ranworth Church, Norfolk Broads, England
(c) Sherri Matthews 2014

 

Posted in Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 68 Comments

A Merciful Interview: Bite Size Memoir

Money is on my mind. Not so much because Christmas is fast approaching, but because of my disgust at the way the media whipped us up into a frenzy of Black Friday shopping last week.  Watching the news that night, I know I wasn’t the only one to be horrified at the scenes of violence unfolding in one department store in Bristol as muggers shoppers pushed, kicked and punched their way to a great deal on a television set.

Must be worth it then.

What has happened to our society?  I bet those televisions weren’t even top of the line (as if that makes it better), but cheaper models with the lowest spec, the store managers wanting them off the shelves before bringing in the all-singing-all-dancing specials just in time for Christmas.

But they were dirt cheap, so they must be worth the violence.

The other reason I’ve got money on my mind is Lisa’s prompt for this week’s bite size memoir which is ‘interviews’.

As with most of us, I have many job interview memories that spring to mind, some good, some bad, but the one speaking loudest to my heart this morning is a different kind of interview, one that took place in 1994 and changed the course of my family’s life forever.

In 150 words, no more, no less:

The Merciful Interview

Thanks to the madman neighbour, we lost our home, savings and good credit rating.

Desperate to move, but unable to buy another house, we scoured the paper for house rental ads, only to meet with despair: either no pets allowed, or no longer available.

Then, at last, we found the ‘perfect’ home in a safe, quiet neighbourhood.  One worry though was that small pets were allowed, but we had a Labrador.

Eldest Son and our Lab/Collie Bonnie - 1984 (c) Sherri Matthews

Eldest Son and our Lab/Collie Bonnie – 1984 (c) Sherri Matthews 2014

We arranged to meet the owner the next day. As she showed us around, I knew this house was the ‘one’. Swallowing hard, I asked about our dog, promising full accountability.

“No problem,” she smiled. “Your dog is family.”

Hours later, after interviewing other prospective tenants, she called to tell us the house was ours. Her decision changed our lives. We lived there for five, happy years because a stranger gave us hope and the chance to begin again.

Posted in Bite Size Memoir, Family Memoirs, Pets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 119 Comments