Mum’s Ruby Ring by Noreen O’Brien

I was about twelve years old and in seventh grade at Northeastern Junior High School when Mum had her ruby ring repaired for me. As I recall, she was given this ring by her parents when she was about the age of twelve.

The ruby, an oval shaped stone, is set in a pretty set of raised prongs atop a yellow gold band. I loved it because it was Mum’s first and then handed down to me, and for the ruby red coloring, but mostly because of its regal setting—it looked as if it should be on the finger of royalty.

I loved wearing that ring, and would sit at my school desk, pose my hand in a variety of positions and switch between first left, then right hand, in order to find the best possible angle to show it off. Sometimes I would stand a purse-sized mirror on my school desk or bedroom vanity for more of an “outsider” view of how the ring looked on my finger. I felt so grow up! Continue reading

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Losing Track of Time by Noreen O’Brien

Work, for me, is a holy place—a place in which I can easily get lost and completely out of touch with the world. It’s important and valuable that I have this ability at times, because all too often I can be distracted so easily by any shiny object. Continue reading

Bubble Gum Explosions by Noreen O’Brien

Bubble gum—Bazooka Bubble Gum. The hours and hours of practice put into blowing giant, head-sized bubbles; the gum would be long past the point of being pink, much less containing flavor.

Kathy, Mary, Louise and I, sitting out on the front stoop, usually mine or Kathy’s, chewing, snapping—disgusting noises, really—poking our individual tongues through our individually chewed gum, blowing into the gum, rather than through an open mouth. Sometimes the bubble would pop early on, small, worthless; but sometimes, I swear it took long minutes of carefully calculated huffs and puffs around our tongues and into that gum. Bigger, bigger, bigger, then POP!, a bubble big enough to cover the entire front of our head, across nose, eyes, forehead and into our hair, ultimately exploding into a mass of sticky mess and guffaws of silly giggling and laughter. Continue reading

A Tea Story by Noreen O’Brien

I’m not quite sure what it is about England’s Cornwall that creates an urge in me to drink pots and pots of tea simply by seeing an image or hearing the name of the peninsula spoken. Is it the British shows, for example Doc Martin, with its scenes of a windblown village and cottages tucked into the hillsides, or Poldark, with its main character riding horseback, cape trailing behind as he races across the windy cliffs, the ocean waters crashing the beach far below him? Or is it the writing of Rosamunde Pilcher, with her homey stories of island life and cozy fires lit on chilly days that spawn images of pots of tea?

Whatever the inspiration, I find myself relating Cornwall to tea—and by “tea” I mean loose black tea—tea leaves, not tea bags. A full-bodied blend, not an herbal, a green, or a flowery-fruity tea, rather an English or Irish Breakfast blend, well steeped in a Brown Betty teapot, one of which I am still searching for to replace the one I dropped years ago to a tile floor where it smashed into smithereens. Continue reading