How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


Christmas Grotto 2015 – Flash Fiction Anthologies with Tess Karlinski.

Let's CUT the Crap!:

Thank YOU, Sally. Please don’t hesitate to support an outstanding cause, while enjoying the fruits of many writers’ contributions to these anthologies.

Originally posted on Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life:

Christmas Grotto

Anthologies are wonderful all year around but particularly at Christmas. There is usually so much going on during those few days that it is hard to find the time to get stuck into that novel for an hour or so. But well written short stories are perfect and flash fiction even more so.

I am featuring two anthologies today that have been contributed to by a lovely friend of mine here on WordPress. Tess Karlinski is a fabulous storyteller whether it is a piece of flash fiction on a Wednesday, or a trip through China or Newfoundland at the weekend. She is also wonderfully supportive and has been since I began my blog. When I wondered if anyone was actually out there… Tess would pop up with a motivating comment and make me smile.

I followed her trip through China every week for months and she had me hooked. I…

View original 637 more words


Farther Along the Viking Trail

A warning light flashed on the bus dashboard. We stopped at an Irving Station (gas /variety store / liquor store) for a break and Shaun, our driver, had the problem checked out. Almost anything is available at some of the larger gas stations. It was a treat to move around and flex stiff joints and muscles inside the store. Some of our group grabbed coffee and snacks. Others used the facilities.

We’d met Margaret and her husband, Jack, when we first arrived at the airport. She came towards me with a brown paper bag wrapped around a bottle. “Oh. I see,” I said.

“Water,” she said. I thought she was fooling around.

Later, she called out and caught up with us while we were boarding the bus.

“It’s not water,” she said. “I didn’t know. He said it was water and I believed him.

“Ha. I knew that!” She wasn’t kidding.

I laughed. I know a wine bottle when I see one.  She blushed.

We did a lot of driving today: long stretches of empty highway, lots of roadside trees and more drizzle. I felt we were going in circles.

Gros Morne National Park is a world heritage site. The land has risen two meters (rebounding of the land) where the Vikings (now called Norsemen) landed. Temperature 1,000 years ago was five degrees warmer. The scenery is spell-binding. We didn’t get off the bus here. The following video gives you an overview of this wonder.

Credit:  The Tablelands, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador

 Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism


More about Moose:

  • 1904 Four moose released from New Brunswick (not native to Newfoundland)
  • This is the heaviest concentration of moose in the world
  • Moose love balsam, birch and fir
  • Haven for 5,000 moose in Gros Morne National Park
  • (check this out)
  • Full grown moose ( about 12-1,400 pounds) can eat 50 – 60 pounds of young trees per day
  • One area fenced off at Gros Morne to protect the trees / outside of fence, trees naked
  • 500 moose allowed to be removed / hunted: a controlled hunt
  • Woodland caribou are native to this area
  • Native predators are insects brought in by international shipping
  • John’s and 100 km. zone = 23 accidents in August 2015 even before month ended

On the lighter side:

In Saskatoon, a boxcar came loose and a guy brought home a wheel barrel full of salt cod, but he didn’t know what to do with it. It was hard, you see. So, he shingled a shed roof. It leaked a little, but lasted about two years.

Cod Quick Facts:

  • Cod is king
  • Cod Fishery starting to renew after more than 20 years
  • 3-week recreational fishing allowed now (fish coming back)
  • Sent salt cod to the Prairies in the 1930s
  • Used to ship salt cod with liquor run (Someone released the wrong car. only whiskey; no cod)
No credit required, but found at

No credit required. Found at

Newfoundland Quick Facts:

  • NFL lumber can be shipped to the US
  • Most of the lumber cut here, therefore tariffs less than in British Columbia
  • Considered private
  • Logging mill keeps nine days supply
  • Burn the sawdust to provide electricity
  • Dairy farming big business
  • Used to be sheep but coyotes can decimate them
  • Put a donkey or a llama with the sheep and coyotes don’t come near

The Lighter Side:

A conductor told a pregnant woman on the Newfie Bullet she shouldn’t have got on due to her condition. She told him when she got on the train she wasn’t pregnant.

* * *

Tentatively on November 6th – Continuing along the Viking Trail

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page


I have not registered for NaNo, but will be occupied for the next while. Will post as I am able. 


#BlogBattle Week 33 – Prompt: Lurk

To join  and / or meet the wizard behind this challenge click below:


  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a linkback to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/orinclude a link to this page in your own blog post(it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

Each winner will receive this awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage:




Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Part 5


“What’s going on?” Carol hovered at the top of the stairs.

Steve slipped both hands into his pant pockets. “Seems the neighbor can’t open her door.” His wife tore down the stairs and peered over his shoulder.

“Victoria. What’s wrong?” She grabbed the doorknob.

“Let me.” Her husband’s hand covered hers. He shouldered his way past.

“Can you fix it?” She grabbed his sleeve.

“Don’t know the problem yet.”

Straightening her shoulders, Victoria spun round, lips like a hyphen. Will this night never end? She punched numbers into her phone. “I’m calling a locksmith. Thanks anyway.”

“A locksmith at this time of night? Maybe Steve can help.” Carol stepped outside. Steve was already turning up the adjoining driveway.

“Hello. For some reason, my key doesn’t work.” She raised a forefinger, then changed it to an open palm. “Yes, it’s a deadbolt.” She turned from her waist as if to shield her conversation from the man standing two feet from her. “I see. I did hear a loud clunk on my way out earlier.” She nodded and gave her address. “Thanks.”

Since the rain had dissipated, the night air seemed warm, the of scent fall’s leaves pungent, a reminder winter hung in the background. Carol lingered behind the privet. “Come over for coffee till they get here.”

“Thank you. It’ll be only fifteen or twenty minutes. The locksmith lives close by.” She studied her shoes a moment till Steve turned to leave.

His wife safe in the house making preparations, Steve paused at the bottom of the driveway. Victoria stumbled, reached out a hand to prevent a full body collision. “What’s your problem? Why do you hate me?”

His jaw set in a hard line, he stared her down, eyes cold and steadfast. “You don’t remember me.”

Her head shot up. “Remember you? I know nothing about you. I’m new in town, remember?”

“You best think on it.” He gave an ugly laugh. “Let’s go or the wife will think we’re up to no good.” He snorted and jogged up his drive leaving Victoria on the sidewalk, mouth dropped wide enough to catch fireflies.

“Honey, I’m ho-ome.” He yanked the door open wide. “You coming?”

“What are you two up to out there?” Carol gazed down from the kitchen landing

“Don’t lurk, Carol. It doesn’t become you. We were discussing the problem with her door.”

Victoria rushed in and squeezed past Steve. “Sorry, dear neighbor. My brain’s sawdust. I’m dying for a coffee. The baby’s doing well. Still sleeping?”

Carol nodded. “So far, so good. Sit.” She pointed to the set table.

“Thank you. Nice. Can you believe it’s after 10:00 already? I hope the locksmith is as good as his word.”

Steve hung back, shoving hands into pockets and removing them again. He slumped into the chair next to his wife, across from Victoria, who buried her nose in her mug sipping the hot liquid.

“How long have you lovebirds been married?”

Carol beamed and reached out to caress her husband’s forearm. “One and a half years.”

Victoria blinked to cover her surprise. “I see.”

“My first husband and I divorced. Enough said. What about you?”

“Divorced. Do you mind a nosey question about Sylvie?”

“You mean why doesn’t she talk? She’s always been a quiet child—like her father—she talked around age three, then less when Sarah started talking. By the time Ryan arrived, she’d stopped completely.”

Wide-eyed, Victoria searched the girls’ mother’s  face across the table. She clamped her mouth shut, but couldn’t break eye contact.

“We had her checked. Physically she’s fine and has no hearing problems. The doctor wants to send her to a therapist, but feels she’ll talk when she’s ready.”

Honk. Honk.

“Must be the locksmith. Thanks. Talk later. Bye.” She sprang out of the chair, grabbed her belongings and flew out the door, slamming the wood and storm doors harder than necessary. An A to Z Locksmith Please van glowed white next to her house. A short male with thinning hair nodded in her direction. “Take your time.”

Breathless she explained about the clunk when she’d slammed her door earlier.

“Tube door?”



“Could be the key cylinder fell inside the door.”

* * *

The next morning, mousey brown hair gathered in a ponytail, Victoria lugged groceries through her now fixed side door. Steve slipped outside as she ran out for another load. “You almost gave me heart seizure.” Jaw clenched she ignored him and proceeded with her task.

Leaning against the house, he glanced over his shoulder. “We need to talk.”


“Let me ask you one thing. Is your father’s name Stephen Hackett?”

She flinched, tightening her grip on the groceries. “He died five years ago. What’s it to you?” She lowered the bag back into the trunk. “What do you want?”

“Didn’t your mama never tell ya to look the person you’re talking to in the eye?  Look at me when I’m talking. Think. Better go inside.”

Victoria gaped like a baby bird working its beak, waiting to be fed.

* * *

Little did Victoria know what lay in store when Carol invited her to dinner a week later. The food was delicious, the company pleasant, yet an electric tension crackled in the air.

Over Spanish coffee, Steve cleared his throat and dropped the bomb. “We played as children a handful of times. You were twelve and I nine. Do you remember me?”

Victoria strained to read his face. “No-o.”

“My mom delivered Avon and saved old samples for you?”

“Vaguely.” She squirmed in her seat, hands clutched in her lap.

“We were poor and I hated you who had everything. I couldn’t believe when you moved here. Small world.”

Carol stroked his arm.

Victoria frowned. “Why…?”

“Stephen Hackett was my father. Ditched us like yesterday’s leftovers when I came along. Didn’t give us one crummy dime in support. Went back to his real family. You got it all, and me—nothing—not even him.

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.


Beginning the Viking Trail

We hadn’t set the alarm because a 6:30 wake-up call had been arranged by Francis, our guide. The alarm buzzed at 5:00. Ready or not. Though I’d slept like the dead, I forced myself awake. Mary remained beneath the foggy veil of sleep. If I raced to the bathroom first, I’d be coiffed and dressed without interruption. You know what it’s like when the clock’s ticking and two females have to share a bathroom sink and mirror, right? What was the point of lollygagging?

I couldn’t get the shower to work and worried the fabric shower curtain without a liner wouldn’t keep water off the floor. I took a bath instead, then couldn’t get up though I gripped the safety bar. I resorted to getting on my knees to pull myself up. When had I started falling apart? Did I miss an announcement or a meeting? How dare my body betray me like this and on my vacation?

Soap, shampoo and body lotion were provided; toothpaste and toothbrushes weren’t. I have no idea why I packed them, but lucky I did. Mary had had no expectations, but I did because everything from slippers to shower caps had been made available at every hotel on my last trip.

Luggage was left outside our rooms by 7:00 a.m. Breakfast commenced from 7:00 to 8:00 with departure by bus no later than 8:00. Menu forms were handed out for choices of meals during our tour. Seating rotation was promised to provide everyone with a different view from the bus each day.

Pulp and Paper Mill

Pulp and Paper Mill

Corner Brook Quick Facts:

  • Pulp and paper mill – 320 active workers
  • Largest single employee
  • Population 20,000
  • Largest city outside St. John’s
  • Newfoundland oldest colony
  • Newfoundland /Labrador youngest province in Canada

As forecast, it had rained the night before and a fine mist continued. We wouldn’t be doing much traipsing around Francis said. Everyone seated on the bus by 8:00 a.m., the first order of business was a draw for the panoramic front seat view across the aisle from the tour guide–with a new draw every day.


We drove around the charming town of Corner Brook. All the homes were finished in whimsical array of colored vinyl. Mary and I thought they all looked like they’d been done around the same time. Whoever won the contract must have been laughing all the way to the bank. I know I took pictures, but they’ve disappeared.

Where was everyone on this Saturday morning? Yes, it was wet, but not a single soul could be seen out and about. Only one car passed us going in the opposite direction.

First stop: a historic site where Captain James Cook landed in Newfoundland. A fine mist persisted, making it difficult to take pictures and keep our heads and / or our cameras or iPads dry. The stones and pathways were slippery as was the grass. I wasn’t the only one who leaped at the chance to return to the bus tout suite.

Captain Cook Quick Facts:

  • Born 1728
  • He was the first to map the coast of Newfoundland during Seven Years War
  • Only explorer who never lost a person to beriberi (always had fresh fruit)
  • Made three trips to the Pacific

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* * *

IMG_1470Irish Welcome: 

May those who love us, love us.

May those who don’t, turn their hearts.

If their hearts don’t turn, turn their ankles,

So we’ll know them by their limping.



Next time on October 30th – Further along the Viking Trail

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page  


#BlogBattle Week 32 – Prompt: Mars

To join  and / or meet the wizard behind this challenge click below:


  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a linkback to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/orinclude a link to this page in your own blog post(it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

Each winner will receive this awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage:


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Part 4

Sporting a practiced smile, Victoria smoothed Sylvie’s brow. “Sleep.” She straightened like an automaton and headed for the door. Hand on the jamb, she glanced over her shoulder. Good. The girl’s breathing sounded steady and even.

Heart strumming like a Spanish guitar, she sprinted down the hall to the kitchen. A car door slammed. She seized her purse and coat off the chair, but froze when a key slid into the lock and Steve bounded in, but halted with a jerk at the top of the steps, a foot suspended in mid-air. Cocky as a barnyard rooster, he plastered on a smirk.

“To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?” He wiggled bristly black brows pantomiming the likes of Groucho Marx of vaudeville and slapstick fame.

Clearing her throat, Victoria proceeded to throw on her coat. “Maybe you should first ask where your wife is. She’s at the hospital with the baby.”

“What’s wrong with my son?”

“All I know is he has a high fever and won’t stop crying.” She bit her lip. With the little contact she’d had him, she’d never looked at his face. She did now, startled by his puzzled voice. He had that suave dark look about him Latin men exuded, but on him it came off as arrogant. A curl hung down his forehead adding to the Sal Mineo look she’d seen in old movie magazines her mother still hoarded.

“Your wife took a cab to Emerge. I’ll stay with the girls if you want to find her.”

“I wouldn’t mind spending more time with the girls either.” He crossed burly arms across a broad chest, leaned against the door frame, and snorted.

“Keep your tone down.” Fists clenched till her nails cut into her palms, Victoria listened for activity from the bedrooms. “It’s the least I can do as repayment for the other day.”

“Cozy. Already we’re exchanging favors. What’s next? Christmas cards?”

Mouth flapping like a fish out of water, words failed her. Victoria slapped her purse and tried again.” What is wrong with you? Where have you been living? Mars?”

Steve rocked back on his heels squinting down his nose at her. “Little Miss Perfect has all the answers.”


“I got a wife needs me.” Nostrils flared, he blew a noisy breath. Color rose in his cheeks as he spun away and down the stairs in a huff.

Victoria fanned trembling fingers against her breastbone. What’s his problem? This has to stop.

Lost in thought, muffled voices dragged her back to the present. Whipping off her coat, she tip-toed towards the sound. Talking, then laughter. Sylvie wasn’t in her bed. Victoria gasped, a fist to her mouth. By the light of the half-opened bathroom door, she made out two forms in Sarah’s bed, her older sister’s head on her shoulder while she mumbled in her sleep. Mesmerized by the sleeping twosome, she remembered three sisters cramped in a bed during her own youth, out of necessity not choice.

She dared peek into the bathroom mirror and shrank back. She might as well be naked: face pale as a ghost without her usual makeup and lips bloodless and grey as a corpse. Instead of crying with humiliation, she hastened to laugh inwardly. This is last minute after all, an emergency.

Back in the kitchen, she paced, looked around for a book, a magazine. Anything. The wall clock above the art-cluttered fridge showed 9:15 p.m. She flicked on the light in the living-room. A stack of movie magazine littered the coffee table. She laughed out loud. Carol and her mother were cut from the same cloth. She grabbed the heap and settled into a kitchen chair. First, tea called to her.

Victoria checked the kettle, plucked a mug from the drain board, and rummaged in her purse for the Ziploc bag of teabags she carried. The kettle shrieked. She poured the water and jumped sky-high at a disruptive jangle. Water spilled all over the counter. Oh great! It buzzed again; the ringing insistent. She threw a tea towel on the flood and followed the noise.

“Hello?” She stretched and twirled the black cord around her fingers. “How’s the baby?” Victoria let go and watched the rubber covered wiring spring back to its original curly shape. “Wonderful news—yes, he left here about ten minutes ago.” The clock on the fridge wall read 9:33 p.m. “See you soon.”

Victoria cleaned up the wet mess on the counter. The tea cooled past her liking, she drank it anyway, rinsed the mug and returned it to its last place. The magazines returned to the coffee table, she dropped into a kitchen chair to wait already checking her cell for missed calls or messages. Nothing. A yawn reminded her how long the day had been.

A distant, but building drone, fragmented the silence. Soon the noise drowned out the steady tick tock of the clock. A car door slammed, and then another. A murmur of voices outside and then inside the kitchen. The baby asleep, Carol smiled wide, eyes shining. Dressed and prepared to flee, Victoria squeezed her arm as she headed to the door.

“Wait. Don’t go yet. Back in a sec.”

Steve gave her a darting gaze and disappeared down the hall.  Victoria shifted her weight and admired the floor.

“Would you like tea and a sweet?”

“Maybe another time. You must be tired. Goodnight.”

Nerves dancing a rumba, Victoria hastened down the drive. She blew out a breath unaware she’d been holding it. She slipped her key into the lock.

Nothing turned. Nothing touched. Nothing moved.

She stomped on the rubber door mat and flapped her hands.

“Problems?” The nasal voice dripped with sarcasm over the low privet fence, separating their properties.

To be continued


© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

Featured Image -- 4478


MORE New ’79 Words Story Challenge’ Entrants…

Let's CUT the Crap!:

Thanks so much for this opportunity, Chris. It’s wild to find myself among such a fantastic and diverse group of writers. So many distinct stories and style. Love them all.

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog:

79 WSC

I’m delighted to see that many of you STILL seem to be having fun rising to the 79 Word Challenge set byAuthor Andrew Joyce.

For anyone who still doesn’t know what this is all about and catch up with the previous 35 entrants, clickHEREto check out Andrew’s story and challenge, then:

HERE to see the first seven great entries

HERE to see the second post with ten more stories

HERE to see the third post with twelve stories

HERE to see the fourth post with six stories



(To visit the writers blogs, click on their names or photos)

The Train by Jane Dougherty

Jane Dougherty

The train raced along the disused track.

Rocking from side to side it clattered along the rusted rails, catching in the faint beam of its headlamps the brighter eyes of rodents and the wary fox, and…

View original 900 more words


A Walk to Remember

What choice did we have? The woman had sounded confident. It was about 5:30-ish; lots of time before dark. To this point the walk had been level, but now the path crept up-hill. Intent on our goal, we gasped and wheezed to the top, out of the wooded area. Fast-moving traffic whizzed by on a road a good stone’s throw away. Per instructions, we turned right onto a sidewalk and lo and behold the landmark building gleamed in the distance.

A residential area spread before us, but we turned left and trudged up a road which seemed a dead end. Cars and trucks parked hoods to tailpipes, were all blocked in except the last two in a double row. Up a stone and concrete rise, Mary and I traipsed, careful not to stumble. Next came stairs, a sizeable municipal parking lot, across another busy road, and the mall at last. First we traversed its humongous parking lot. I’m not sure anymore if the other part of the mall next to the liquor store was a hardware or grocery store. We beelined towards the entrance.

At both intersections where we’d crossed, drivers slowed and stopped before we set foot off the sidewalk. Such polite Newfoundlanders. A couple groups of locals outside the liquor store gave us the once-over. We might as well have worn signs: Tourists or No Way from Here.

On a Friday night, I suppose it’s not unusual to find this type store busy. It was jam-packed with customers of varied ages and sounded like party central. Music blared, customers swarmed, and it was hot. Yes, stifling, as if someone forgot to turn the furnace off. We’d decided to buy a bottle each in case next time no store existed within walking distance. I hope fellow blogger, Sally Cronin believes this purchase was for medicinal purposes. Wink. Wink.

Mary had to chat up an employee as I dripped a puddle within minutes of entering. I shop fast except when I’m grocery shopping. Up and down the isles I zoomed till I found something familiar. Mission accomplished, I couldn’t find Mary. If I didn’t get out of there soon, nothing would be left of me. I was ready to forget the wine and escape outside.

You’d think my sister had never been in a liquor store before. It was no different from those at home. I found and grabbed her—she already had a selection in hand. Our lucky day: the cash register was new and not working properly, the cashier needed help, and there were a handful of people in line ahead of us. I wanted to wring out my hair.

Finally outside, I thought I’d never cool off again because we were slogging along at a good clip. We retraced our steps, not once taking a wrong turn. We’d only hiked over one-and-a-half kilometers one way.


A Meet and Greet had been scheduled for 8:30 p.m. with our tour group. With time to kill, Mary and I sent e-mails and she nodded off in bed. I pulled out my book, curled up on the sofa and read. Though my eyes were heavy, I watched the clock.

At last it was time to meet everyone. Hot and cold beverages and tiny tarts were served. We introduced each other. Two minutes later I couldn’t match a name to a face. The whole procedure took about a half-hour. More than anything, I wanted a bed and pillow. I shut my eyes by 10:30 p.m. (9:00 home time). I’d been awake since 3:15 that morning.

“When you make friends with a Newfoundlander, you make a friend for life.”

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page


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