How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


One Clear Day

“Might you slow down, I’m nervous rushing in this weather.” Jane hiccupped and hugged herself. “We’ve already had one dreadful start to the summer.”

Billie gunned the accelerator. The Dodge van lurched over the line. Whoosh the wipers dashed stubborn rain aside. Bloated, slate-gray clouds gushed water like a busted dam.

“What’s the matter, don’t you trust my driving?” Billie lifted an over-plucked eyebrow as she glanced at her friend. “Should have been there twenty minutes ago. We’re late.”

Jane tucked whispy hair behind her ear and didn’t respond at first. “At least the traffic’s light. I’d rather be late than dead.”

“Why the hell did her husband buy her that motorcycle?” Jane stared through the sluicing windshield and bit her lip.

Thank you Microsoft Clipart

Thank you Microsoft Clipart

“Yeah, only one ride and gone at fifty-three. My God! Two young adults, motherless. Life’s unfair. I can’t imagine how her husband feels.” Billie’s tears slid down her creased cheeks.

Silence sank like a sodden blanket between the two sixty-something women. The driver gripped the steering wheel. Silver-streaked, once black hair stuck to her forehead. Eyes intent behind thick glasses, she frowned at the deluge. Although the wipers were in high gear, the windows fogged up. Billie cranked on the defogger and let up on the accelerator. The slosh of tires on the wet asphalt changed rhythm and slackened to a softer splatter.

“I hate funerals, especially this one, not that I’ve been to many.” Billie cleared her throat. “Sue was always there for me, you know. I ran away from home—before I met you? Sue’s family took me in and Mom was madder than a dragon spewing fire. We didn’t know them well then.”

Jane closed her eyes and nodded. Sitting straighter, she breathed deep and hard.  “How did this happen? The road was dry and the day clear.” Chin to chest, she sighed. “Sue was such a live-wire. Into everything—how long did you live with them again?” She massaged white knuckles, first one hand and then the other.

“Almost six months. We were both twelve.” Billie hesitated. “We became tight as Siamese twins. Soon after I agreed to move back home, her father changed jobs. They packed up and moved to Vancouver. Even Mom was sad to see them leave.”

The rain slowed to a fine mist and the humidity dropped inside the van. Both women concentrated on the road. Jane pointed to the exit, “Turn right on Wellington here and then left on Riddell. “Geez, this lot is packed.” She leaned into the backseat to grab an umbrella.

Billie swallowed and blinked away threatening tears. “Can’t wait to get this over.” They snaked up and down three aisles before they spied a parking spot. “By the looks of it, the chapel will be standing room only. Lord give me strength.”


Luoyang, Day 6, Part 3 –Dinner and Stories

At 5:00 p.m., it was still 25 degrees Celsius when we left the Longmen Caves area. All around us, the Chinese people wore sweaters and wool leggings. Our tour guide, Lisa, wore red sweat pants and a fleece jacket. We foreigners sported shorts or cargo pants and short-sleeved Tees because we were hot. The boulevard back to the bus was again another l-o-o-o-n-g walk.

Our driver turned into a pot-holed dirt road in the middle of no man’s land. What? I don’t recall buildings or much of anything that looked like civilization for a short while. We rounded a tight corner on the bumpy road and like an oasis in the desert, came upon the strangest sight–at least to me. Two long buildings materialized meeting at right angles at one corner. I can only describe it as a motel—with a second storey.

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8  The building is in the back. A lovely bridge and flower garden decorated the middle courtyard.

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8
The building is in the back. A lovely bridge and flower garden decorated the middle courtyard.

Dinner was served through Door 111 in the front room barely large enough for a round 6-foot table, and us.




  • Noodle soup
  • Fritters
  • White rice
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Scrambled eggs and chopped tomatoes
  • Cooked sliced potatoes and ground beef
  • Pork and scallions
  • Garlic sprouts with sliced red peppers and fungus
  • Greens

This time we were served—count them—two baby glasses of drinks. I had beer. Twice.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles No doors

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
No doors

The bathroom was an open-ended building with six or eight stalls. No outside doors or plastic against the elements did I see at either end. All were squats but someone had taken a card chair, removed the seat and stuck a toilet seat on it. I opened the door and slipped inside. Afterwards Sue grumbled because I had lucked out somewhat with the only ‘throne’.

Along the way to the facilities after dinner, we passed two young ladies with a plastic container filled with cutlery (forks). I saw no soap in the water, no sponge or wash cloth. Agitation seemed the customary /accepted practice to clean the flatware.

Maybe this was a restaurant after all. At the end of the building opposite the facilities, we heard kitchen noises and a teen in a not quite pristine kitchen jacket appeared. He ran to the washroom and out again without stopping. Had he touched our dinner?

Another man (not from the kitchen) washed his hands with the liquid Palmolive soap before entering the facilities and washed them again on his way out. Sue and I gaped at the scene and then each other.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles Five outdoor sinks and Palmolive liquid soap. No towels.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
Five outdoor sinks and Palmolive liquid soap. No towels.

A large fat bug floated in one plugged sink, legs pointed heavenwards, with no knowledge he was dead.

I asked Lisa about the building. The year before, she had brought a tour bus of visitors when only the ground floor had been finished. The second floor had just been added and was just a decoration. What did that mean? I noticed a couple of large windows revealing cardboard boxes stacked high and wide.

I asked her again what we call this place.

“A restaurant. A different type of restaurant. I think this is a different experience from other restaurants.”

What? Never mind.

We arrived in Zhengzhou a couple of hours later. The time: 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. in early spring. Is this how dark it is at home in the spring? The hotel was attractive but appeared empty and quiet. The interior design cost more than the building. We dragged out luggage inside. Lisa went to the desk with our passports to get our room keys.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles Old furniture decorating hotel lobby

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
Old furniture decorating hotel lobby

I asked why the furniture was so big since the people were not. It was a sign of wealth and prosperity.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Quick Luoyang facts:

  • Population 2 million
  • This is a tourism city
  • Copper mining, glass factory
  • Heavy industry: tractor, first built in 1959
  • The Peony is the city flower (blooms in April)
  • This is an old capital city
  • Buddhism  popular

 Next on August 29, Day 7, International Shaolin Kung Fu Training Center and Shaolin Temple

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page.


100-word Challenge for Grown-ups – Week #145

You should check this out and join


This Week’s Prompt

Each bench has a small explanation of why it was chosen. The prompt this week is for you to think of your favourite book and write that explanation. As always, you only have 100 words and you have to make it a creative piece of writing.


The Crimson Petal and the White

by Michel Faber

 In 1870’s London, Sugar was nineteen and a prostitute. She refused to live the rest of her life as one, but how to change her life?

She almost accomplished the impossible. A rich man desired her because she attended to him with upmost care. She became indispensable and gave him her love. It became apparent she was only a paid servant and he excused her like he did his sick wife. He didn’t love anyone, not even his daughter. Sugar knew she deserved more as did his little girl.

This plaque is in memory of her resourcefulness and ultimate victory.


Luoyang, Day 6, Part 2: Longmen Caves

We were supposed to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors, but our schedule  had been switched.  Our new guide, Lisa, met us at the airport in red sweats and a quilted  jacket. It was warm (forecast 25° Celsius). I don’t believe we went straight to the hotel but loaded the luggage on the bus and headed for the mysterious Longmen Caves.  (length 4.37 min)

OR  (length 30.12 min)

For an in-depth history, you may like to check

We walked a long way from the bus to the grottoes. The day was humid with a hint of rain. I wore flip-flops until we got off the plane. Yes, those cheap dollar store kind to wear in the hotels, proof of how little I’ve travelled. We had slippers at every hotel. Duh. Had I known I’d be wearing them out, I’d have packed my fashionable pair. I switched to my runners on the bus. Soon my blistered and bandaged toes, although wrapped in three bandages each, growled and complained.

Bridge at Long Corridor © by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

Bridge at Long Corridor
© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

The area we walked was a long and wide to accommodate hoards of people. It was a well-maintained park setting with flowers, trees and was surprisingly pristine, alongside the River Yi. Again we saw no wrappers or garbage anywhere. No empty water bottles lay around either. Recycle containers were everywhere and well-used.

River Yi at Longmen Caves © by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

River Yi at Longmen Caves
© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

So much destruction had occurred over time: vandalism, smashed faces, missing heads and time. Stolen pieces had been mysteriously secreted to museums in various parts of the world, but are slowly being returned.

Our tickets to Longmen Caves allowed a choice between a postcard and a pack of peony seeds. I chose the latter as a souvenir because peonies are the city flower. There is a natural rock in this area that looks like it’s covered in peonies.

Peony Stone © by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

Peony Stone
© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

I hadn’t planned to climb to the top as my feet balked at the hundreds of stairs (thousands?), but curiosity changed my mind. When would I have the opportunity to see for myself what I’d traveled so far to see? Going up wasn’t too bad. I don’t think anyone noticed how I gripped the railing with both hands. Coming down was another matter. Heights and I are not on friendly terms.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles A few caves

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
A few caves

Would you guess the biggest Buddha is 17 metres tall?

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

This is a close-up of the largest Buddha, Losana, or Mona Lisa so-called by the locals because of the smile.

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

Below the many stairs are shops with tourist trinkets, postcards etc. of all kinds.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


By the time I’d walked and photographed and snooped in the shops and sat to rest my feet, my tummy began to remind me it was starving. The humidity continued and the rain stayed away. Soon everyone gathered together. There was no more to see. Dinner awaited somewhere. I hoped we didn’t have far or long to go.

Next on August 22, Day 6, Part 3 – Dinner and Stories

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page.


100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #144

To join the fun, checkout

This week’s prompt is …the black dog walks alongside me… + 100 words



Something scraped against the window. Winston bolted upright, thick Einstein-like hair askew. “Who’s there?” Heart thrashing, he gasped for breath. As crusted eye-lids unglued, he scanned the bedroom. Shadows lurked like black tombstones, details indistinct, even of his virginal bed.

Depressed for months, he’d lost interest in life and slept the indifference of the dead. He grabbed the covers with shaky hands and tossed them. The black dog walks alongside me no more.


In the semi-darkness Winston made his bed, showered and dressed. No need to write a note. Peaceful at last, he progressed down the hallway with purpose. The basement door sighed shut behind him.


Luoyang, Day 6, Part 1 – (local flight)

I’ll have lots of pictures next time.

~ ~ ~

So far, our English 8 have traveled from Toronto to Chicago to Beijing, approximately 7,041 miles. This does not include the bus trips in the three days since our arrival in Beijing to Tiananmen Square; Forbidden City; Temple of Heaven; The Great Wall; Ming Tombs, Summer Palace, and old Beijing Hutong.


The night before we scrambled to assemble our suitcases and sort out what we’d need for the morning and left our bags in the hallway for pickup as instructed. It seemed odd the next morning when the bags were in the lobby–sitting there looking abandoned and crammed together for protection. We could have brought them down when we met in the lobby after breakfast. What a headache for nothing. No tour was planned for the morning.

Bikes galore

Bikes galore

We were off for the first of our domestic flights to Luoyang. Robert, our guide, came with us to the luggage drop-off and as far as Security, which made it easier to find our way through the airport.

Someone brought up tipping at dinner the night before, but no conclusion had been reached. Before Robert said goodbye, there was a scramble to cross his palm with Chinese money.

I stood behind Sue at the Security Check and was yelled at to step back behind the yellow line. Scared me silly. When my turn came, the (young) clerk looked so stern, I was nervous but I also felt she was milking it—you know—a power trip. I waited while she took her time before returning my passport and boarding pass. Once through, the body scanning wand went off. What’s going on? Deep breath. The problem:  my bought-in-Canada made-in-China earrings.

Russ waited in line behind his wife who cleared in no time. We waited and waited for him in consternation. Finally, we watched him being escorted to another Security desk. When his carry-on had been x-rayed, they couldn’t figure out what set off the alarm. He had a camera charger which wasn’t labeled with voltage information (there is a maximum allowed) and it had to be turned in. The security guard, who escorted him, laughed silently. I saw his animated face and shaking shoulders. Even the fellow at the desk, taking possession of the charger, was apologetic, but rules were rules.

Our arrival at the airport was 10:00 a.m., too early for 12:30 boarding. Take-off was 1:00. Would you believe we were given a meal on such a short flight (about an hour and a half)? Then again, it was time for a mid-day meal. The boxed lunch consisted of rice with scrambled egg mixed in and a piece of chopped ham; a dried fruit bun; coffee; water, and cookies. A lot of Chinese were on our flight. One guy I watched across the aisle wolfed down his food as if he were starving.

We arrived around 2:30 p.m. I estimated we’d flown 420 miles on a ticket worth about $143.00 USD. We did not pay this. Our trip was all inclusive.

Another new home

Another new home


Next up August 15, Day 6, Part 2 – Luoyang (Longmen Caves)

For additional related information, click on China tab at the top of the page.


100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #143

To join the fun, check out

This week’s prompt:  …the parched ground crumbled…+ 100 words



Ivy wrenched the wheel as hard as she could; the car swerved. Angry gravel scattered and pelted the hubcaps. She panted and wheezed, and coasted to a stop. The old red house of her youth had endured. Home at last. Relieved tears obscured her view.

Hands shaking, she heaved her age-worn bones out of the car, grasped her cane and hobbled to the backyard. The parched ground crumbled beneath her feet. Ancient and useless as me, I see.

Cr-r-ruck. A raven carped. Ugly birds endured too.

I’d much rather die here alone than in that stinking nursing home. No-one will think to look here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,201 other followers