How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


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#ShortStory

I confess sci-fi is not me. No way am I up for this week’s #BlogBattle prompt. Instead, I offer this short story for your weekly entertainment.

 

Heart Burn

I never understood her—my mother: blonde, a goddess, svelte and self-assured like my older sister. I was the dark one, the disappointment. How had that happened? I could not be more different from them: neither as smart nor as trim. They chummed together like girlfriends, leaving me out in the cold.

***

She promised to meet me at Starbuck’s Saturday morning. I arrived early. My heart pounded and the acid in my stomach burned like the searing edge of a hot knife churning pirouettes. She breezed in like she owned the place. The shop almost empty, I was easy to find.

“Mother,” I said, “new suit?” She always dressed well. She had the figure for it, of course.

“Are you all right dear? You appear flushed.” She reached across the table and checked my forehead with a cool hand as if I were a child. “I’ll get the coffee.” A pat on my shoulder and I watched her heels clickety-clacked across the stone tile floor.

I gulped air in hopes of calming down, but she returned too soon.

“Still black, I take it. Thought we’d splurge with a couple brownies.”

Brownies. One minute she told me to lay off the sweets and the next she offered them. Either I was losing my mind, or she was. I took the lid off my coffee cup to cool it quicker.

“It’s clear to me, dear, you’re upset about something. Man troubles? School?” Flawless, penciled brown brows rose to perfect peaks.

“You came.” The words popped out before I realized I’d said them aloud. I clamped hands to my mouth.

“Yes. You invited me. Remember?”

“I’m surprised you made it—so busy with all your clubs—and Melissa.” I watched her face. None of her thoughts showed.

She had the decency to blink, false lashes aflutter. Her flaming pink mouth worked like a fish out of water. “What is wrong with you? I love you both the same.”

The audacity of the lie. “I’m not in the least like you or Melissa. I don’t match—don’t fit.”

“How old are you?”

“You don’t know?”

“I mean at 21 you’re acting like a six-year-old.”

“You and Melissa—always together, joining clubs, chapters this and that, whispering, laughing.”

“Do you like or enjoy these groups and societies?”

“Well, no—but you never have time for me.” Bile fought to strangle me, but I fought back. “Then you send me away to school. I wanted to attend college in our hometown but no, it had to be university.”

“Lily, dear, what’s this about? You’re fifty miles from home and in your last year. Are you taking your medication? You’re not yourself.”

“How would you know? Here’s the other thing, my coloring is so much darker than anyone else in the family. Melissa is like you. I’m nothing like you two, I’m loose fat…” I swallowed the howl threatening to undo me. I will not cry. I will not!

“You take after your grandmother, Esther Maria, on your father’s side. You know this. What a Spanish beauty—you look exactly like her, same thick hair and smoky eyes.”

“Right. A fat beauty with fat hair. Am I adopted?”

“Nothing about this conversation makes sense.” Mother picked up a napkin and fanned herself. She scanned the half-empty coffee shop with ice blue eyes.

I almost heard the gears in her head grinding, devising lies. “Easy to tell me whatever you want. How did you find time to visit me at last?”

Her look made me squirm. “I told you about the obligations I couldn’t break. I’m here now. Look, sweetie, your grandmother died before you were born. You’ve seen her pictures and heard the stories. This is crazy. ”

“So now I’m crazy?” I wanted the talking to stop. I didn’t like it anymore.

“Have you had headaches lately, or trouble sleeping?”

I shrugged. What had that to do with anything? “You love Melissa better, don’t you?”

“Take my hand. I have five fingers. Which one shall I cut off because I don’t need or want it?”

“What?”

“Which daughter means less to me than the other?”

“You’re always talking in riddles.”

“Tell me which one and I’ll chop it off.”

“No. you won’t. You’re just saying that.” I slouched in my chair but did not break eye contact.

She stared me down. I flinched. Her chair scraped the floor. An iron grip clutched my arm. “Let’s go.”

The End

Images courtesy Pixabay

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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#BlogBattle 6 – Prompt: Cowboy

Find the Rules at Rachael Ritchie’s blog: http://wp.me/p7rsge-cB

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Prompt:  Cowboy

Words: 990

The Devil is in the Details

Anita picked up the cordless and counted down the speed-dial list with a finger. No wooing, nor scheming, nor monetary enticements had worked. She had made the effort each time with high hopes. Nothing had changed in five years. She drew in an unsteady breath. The phone chirped in her ear. Once. Twice. And again. A tired female voice answered.

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“Hello, Grandma, that you?”

I’m not your grandma, darnit. Simmer down, Anita. She rolled her shoulders and pasted a smile on her face. Everyone knew a smile traveled through the telephone and out the other end. “That you, Sylvia? How are you? How are the boys? What about Emma?” Her face hurt but she maintained the smile though her jaw quivered and her eyes leaked.

A pause and an impatient sigh. “Everyone is fine. To what do I owe the pleasure of your call?”

“You’ve been on my mind. Miss the kids like crazy.” Anita bit her lip. There, I’ve said it. “Haven’t heard from them in ages. Something wrong with your Skype? I guess everyone has things to do and places to go.”

“Grandma, they’re busy with homework, baseball, and ballet. You know how it is.” A door slammed. Rowdy arguing followed; a girl’s shrill voice sliced through her brothers’ booming power struggle. The sounds muffled a moment. “Quiet. Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” A muffled drone filled Anita’s ear, then the sound of footsteps clomping on ceramic.

“Are you there, Sylvia? Can I talk to Emma… please?” Anita’s heart thrummed. How can she refuse? I know Emma’s there.

“It’s just—alright but make it quick. She has ballet in a few minutes.”

“Before you go, I have an idea. It’s been so long, I thought I’d come up to see you all for a couple days. Save you fare and travel time. Don’t want to be any trouble. I’ll stay in a hotel. How about it?” She ran a sleeve over her eyes, the smile cemented in place.

“I’ll have to talk to Phil. See what his plans are.”

“I don’t mind staying with the kids, if you have special plans—save you a babysitter.”

In the silent pause, Anita pictured her daughter-in-law’s eyes roll. “They’re teenagers and Emma is ten now. Here she is.” A hushed drone and a young voice gushed through the miles between them. “Hi, Grandma. How are you? I miss you.”

“Bless your heart. I miss you too, and your sweet face. We haven’t Skyped for months. How about this weekend?”

“Maybe. Gotta go, Grandma. Mom’s waving her car keys at me.”

* * *

“She offered to visit again, Phil. I can’t manage it: me working, you never home, the kids with their lessons and friends.” Sylvia paced before her husband, each point punched onto the pads of her fingers with a lacquered nail.

Her husband threw his arms in the air. “What do you want from me? The guilt of turning her down is killing me. Guilt over making extra work for you is too. Can’t keep putting her off forever. Figure something out that works. Get it over with, okay?”

“She’s your mother and a lonely old woman. I’m not up to playing nursemaid. I work all day, too, and have a household to run. Will you at least be around to help out?”

Phil pulled out a chair. “Sit. You’re making me dizzy.” Hands shoved in his pockets, he paced.

* * *

Separated from foot traffic, a bird of a woman sat in a wheelchair. Dark, wraparound glasses too large for her, covered half her small face. She clasped a red carry-on on her lap. The airport attendant behind her held up a sign with two words: Anita Martin. Phil rushed through the Arrivals door, his wife took her time behind him.

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“Mother? Are you all right?” Sylvia crashed into him at his abrupt stop. The attendant nodded and melted into the crowd.

“I’d recognized that voice anywhere.” Anita raised a hand for a shake. “That you, Sylvia? Good to see you both. You still have those cowboy boots you bought in Texas. The hesitation of your left foot since you busted your knee in football has always been a dead giveaway.”

“What’s with the chair, Mom.”

“Those are some ugly glasses, Grandma.” Sylvia made a face. She always spoke before thinking.

His mother-in-law ignored the affront, offering a weak smile instead. “It’s a long walk in today’s airports, sonny.”

“Gotcha. So… are you walking or riding?”

“Riding if you don’t mind. Too many people around and I’m slowing down these days.”

“You’ve lost weight haven’t you, Grandma? You’re not sick, or anything?” Sylvia studied her mother-in-law’s slight frame with a frown.

Anita clenched her teeth. “Don’t you worry about me. Let’s roll, sonny. Can’t wait to see Emma and the boys. Will they have classes tonight?” Leaning forward, she pursed her lips and hugged the case in her lap closer. “I can’t believe I’m here. The flight attendants took good care of me. Did you know they don’t serve free meals anymore?”

* * *

A supporting arm beneath his mother’s elbow, Phil guided her through the open door Sylvia had keyed open.

‘Powder room, Grandma?”

“Call me Anita. Please. Your timing is wonderful. Where…?”

“Around the corner and down the hall, first door to your right.”

The older woman toddled forward, a hand on the wall as if for support. Sylvia watched and sucked her teeth. She elbowed her husband’s ribs. “Something’s wrong with her eyes.”

“She’s fine. Just tired and shaky after the flight.”

“I believe she’s going blind, Phil. We’ll be stuck with her forever now.”

“Hush. If that’s true, we have to do right by her.”

Sylvia’s jaw dropped.

“Your mom and dad have each other. She can’t live alone—and so far away.”

“But…”

“She’s my mom, Syl. Oh my god. It just hit me. Being an only child is a curse.”

The End

© 2017 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles

Images courtesy of Pixabay


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Beijing: Part 4

word-cloud-7

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We wandered to another part of the park where parents laid out their child’s ‘resume’ hoping for a marriage connection/partner. A woman yelled at me when I tried to take a picture. Seems it’s bad luck to be photographed.

Spring in all its glory                                                      Spring in all its glory

I understood it puts a pox on the intended. I laid low and managed a non-intrusive video on my iPad mini but I cannot upload it. However, I copied a frame from the video. Note the sheets on the ground.

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Interesting nuggets about marriage:

  • Either you pay for a matchmaker ($$$ if you have lots—probably not) or your mother struggles along in your best interests with or without your knowledge
  • We encountered children in the park, but the majority were boys—yes there were girls—the odds appeared greater than the statistics
  • The ratio: 140 boys are born to 100 girls nowadays
  • Dating services are now common and do a vigorous business, but many cannot afford them and anyway MOM has your best interests at heart
  • Young people pursue good careers and work long hours with lengthy travel times to and from work
  • There is no time to date
  • More and more young people prefer to find their own mate
  • Some young men hold down several jobs and still cannot afford a house or apartment
  •  Every potential bride wants a house or apartment. As well her family expects a bride price—even in the country—a sort of dowry
  • Mismatches between city vs. country/education vs. job level mean less chance of finding a marriageable partner
  • Stories abound about established career women. A female with a good job may be willing to stand in as breadwinners if even a younger male would co-operate. After all, her clock is ticking, but without a job of his own, he’ll shy away.
  • Rich men spent much time and money choosing the right bride through matchmakers since the ratio of females versus males are so uneven

Wikipedia Commons

                                     Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

More tidbits about the people:

  • Diabetes and high blood pressure high
  • Exercises morning and evening, especially seniors
  • China is second highest consumer of sugar after India
  • They add sugar to everything
  • Different breakfast by area/region
  • Average man’s breakfast is in Beijing: steamed dumplings and buns, dim sum, and soup
  • Use straw to drink soup
  • Mandarin is the main official language
  • Written language is the same everyone in China, only the dialects are different

~ * ~

Next on February 10th: Beijing Part 5 (and more photos)

  1. Temple of Heaven
  2. Tiananmen Square

~ * ~

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


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#BlogBattle 2 – Prompt Thorn

Find the rules at Rachel Ritchie’s blog here.

Genre: Fan Fiction

Prompt: Thorn

Words: 920

Thorn

She slept long and deep. The man paced and stopped. “You’re awake.”

Piercing jade eyes glowered in the near dusk. Thick sheets of dark hair covered her like a blanket.

“You’re curled so small. Let me help you.” His blood raged when they touched. Knees limp as young clover, he kept his balance. The girl slapped away his hand and rose unaided. Spellbound, he watched her gaze about—a head shorter than he—blue-black tresses swung in slow motion, her movement fluid as water.

A low whistle escaped his lips. “The Creator made you a different design. Interesting. I like.” Man stroked his chin. Chest and arm muscles bulged. He circled her with the ease and stealth of a cat, while his blood stirred as never before.

“Who are you?” The words came slow and spaced apart. She tilted her head.

“I’m…I’m Man. The Creator gifted you to me.”

“What is gifted? What is this place?”

“Paradise.” With open palms, he swung muscle-bound arms about. Bird chatter, insect thrum, and the soft rush of waterfall crammed the garden air. “This is all ours.”

The girl yawned heavy-eyed.

“You are Woman.”

“Wo-man,” she said, sampling the new word. “Wo-man.”

“Come. I have much to show and teach you.” She drew back from his touch.

~*~

Days faded into weeks. Where one walked, the other followed. The two roamed the spectacular garden, eating a multiplicity of fruits and nuts abundant to them.

“Have I seen everything? I feel we’ve walked in circles. What’s in the middle of this garden?”

Man bit his lip. “There is something—the most extraordinary tree in the heart of Eden.”

“Show me.”

He could not deny her. “There are rules. You must promise.” She ignored him, traipsing ahead. He tapped her shoulder, chin pointing. They entered a grassy clearing. A snake slithered across their path. Sssss.

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“Stop here,” he said a hand on her shoulder.

“Wow.” Woman gasped and pulled on his hand. “What is this tree?”

“Forbidden fruit—The Tree of Knowledge. Everything is ours but not this.”

“Why not? This makes sense to you?”

“Enough. We must leave.”

The next day, Man could not find her. Desperate, he searched everywhere. “Woman. What are you doing here again? Stand back.”

“They reflect my image. Se-e-e.”

“You’re playing with fire. Come.”

Another day, Woman disappeared again. He found her in the orchard once more. “You mustn’t come here ever again! Temptation is great.”

On her third visit, she crept closer and gaped, entranced.

“Go ahead. Touch it.” The voice drew her like a magnet.

“Who’s there? Where are you?”

“Here I am. Sssss.” An over-sized, brown frog-like face peered out among the branches, spiked tongue flicking.

“I’ve seen you before. You speak?”

“Come closer. Closer. I won’t bite.” Hypnotic murmurs tugged till the woman lost all resistance.

Snap! She plucked the lustrous orb and thrust it into her mouth. Juice oozed over her chin. “S-o-o good.”

Man materialized out of thin air. “What have you done?”

“Taste.” She brandished the bitten apple beneath his nose. The sky dimmed, the garden faded into dull shadows of gray. The wind shrieked and blew a wild streak of swirling breath around them. The animals hushed and disappeared.

“No. I can’t.”

“Why can’t you do something I want for a change?

“No.”

“I’ll play your favorite games all night if you wish. Come o-on. You won’t be sorry.” She twirled the red and white fruit before his mouth.

Man tore into the offered fruit. Before he swallowed, thunder crashed and lightning ripped the sky.

“OUT. No more free lunch for you. A deal’s a deal.”

“I’m sorry, my Creator…”

Woman pouted. “Wuss. Don’t blame it on me. You could have said no.” She fixed a claw-like grasp on his forearm.

Man’s mouth flapped.

“Don’t look at me.” Woman stopped, pensive. She flung his arm away, aware of their nakedness for the first time. Examining a grove of massive leaves, she seized Man’s wrist. “Help me tear this off. She shielded her body from the angry rain and his ever-watchful eyes.

“Rip off another.” She winced, tracing a map of his frame in her head, from shoulders to waist to heels. “This one’s for you. For heaven’s sake, cover yourself.”

“All is not lost, Woman. We still have each other.”

“Sure we do. And a bun in the oven. I see you’ll to be a thorn in my side for the rest of my days.”

The rain pelted their tender skin like buckshot though they had no knowledge of what that was. The wind bawled and churned. “Where will we spend this night of fury?” Rain and wet hair lashed her face. One hand braced against the leaf, she spun round to place an open hand against his chest. “Well? I need to dry off and soon.”

Man shook his head, free hand raised to the sky in supplication. Fingers of lightning shot towards the ground followed in a nanosecond by a deep grunt of thunder.

The Creator roared in anger. “As you said, Man. Not all is lost. Now you must work hard for a living instead of savoring the cushy life I had planned with her for you.

Man hung his head. When he glanced up, Woman shook her head. “Let’s go. Do I have to do everything around here?”

The lashing rain turned to a fine drizzle. The animals peered around bushes and from the trees and watched two round-shouldered figures trudge into the night until they vanished.

The End

© 2017Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.


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BlogBattle Prompt – Resolved

BlogBattlers are back. Let the games begin in 1000 words.

Read the rules here:  https://blogbattlers.wordpress.com/rules/

Genre: Tall Tales (a tough one)

Prompt: Resolved (words 987)

Resolved

Have I ever told you the story about Grandpa Muckle’s house? No? Annie’s 10-year twin nephews leaned forward where they sat on the floor cross-legged.

After our grandfather died, your father and I helped clear out the house. We were eighteen and twenty. Rick positioned the painter’s ladder beneath the trapdoor to the attic. He had waited a long time to peek inside that forbidden place, but he paused.

“Go on. You don’t expect monsters, do you?” I concentrated on the square in the ceiling, too. Chewing on the end of my ponytail as was my habit, I thought I’d choke on it.”

“Grandpa wouldn’t allow us to explore up there, remember,” Rick said. “I’ve always been curious why.”

“Maybe he never finished it like Dad.”

Your father blew out a breath and gave me the look. Thick Styrofoam clad the removed board.

“Flashlight.” I poked him in the ribs with the one in my hand.  He heaved himself through and sneezed.

“Bless you. What do you see? Anything interesting?” He disappeared into the dark, wordless.

More curious than nervous, I sprang up the ladder after my brother. With a click, the room flooded with light. We gaped like dazed children, pulling dust covers off in a hurry: four white chairs; a matching table; a single bed and dresser; a dollhouse and an ornate trunk. Everything white except for the trunk, which was painted a slick ebony shine. Smooth white-painted walls encased the room. Rick dropped into a chair and I slid into another. The chairs spit us out on the floor, bouncing back into shape toward the trapdoor. They wobbled like rubber, the legs bendy and weak to accommodate our weight and size before pop and shriek.

“What happened” My eyes rattled in my head like in a cartoon.

“What is this?” Eyes glazed with shock, Rick’s voice cracked. “Is this the Twilight Zone? I don’t know what to make of it. Do you?” He surged upright, then paced the black and white tiled floor. Hands deep in his pockets, he slumped against the wall. The wall stood firm.

Attribution: Pixabay

Image Attribution: Pixabay

In one corner, the trunk beckoned. Dust motes danced over top as if in invitation. Childhood dreams of treasure chests and pirate’s treasure awakened again. My brother’s voice faded. The chest waited. I struggled with the lid. No go. Locks require keys. I didn’t see one. “Help me open this.”

Rick lost no time patting down the lacquered box. No luck.

“Seems strange it’s sitting off the floor. Is that a skid under there?” I pointed.

Rick clutched the bare wood. “Help tip this over.” We stooped hip-to-hip and heaved in unison.

The trunk weighed less than it looked. A half-dozen grunts and huffs later, it lay on its side. Rick found something taped to the bottom. Whoever guesses what gets an extra cookie.”

The twins elbowed each other. “The key—the key.”

“You’re both right. Your dad fitted it in but it refused to turn. He tried and tried. Nothing. What to do?”

The boys shared a probing stare, freckles bright. “Oil can.” They high-fived.

“Aren’t you smart? Great answer, but it still didn’t work.”

“Did you see inside the trunk or not?” Trevor’s face reddened.

“Patience. Sometimes patience conquers all.”

His brother breathed deep, the chords in his neck engorged. “What did you find? Something good, I hope.”

I raised a palm. “The key wouldn’t work because someone had bashed the lock. With a screwdriver and hammer, my brother somehow worked his magic. The lid lifted like a charm and guess what?”

“What? What? Pieces of silver?”

“Rubies and diamonds?”

“Something better than that.”

Faces incredulous, the boys squinted. “No way. Nothing’s better than gold or silver.”

“Inside—wait—inside lay a white robot, an R2D2 look-alike—sort of.” The boys scrambled onto their hands and knees.

“No way. Did it work?”

“Did you charge it?

“Hey ho.” Rick called from the hall, “What are you guys doing?”

“Tell us about Grandpa’s attic and the robot in the trunk. Did it work?”

Rick pointed a finger at his sister and pursed his lips. “You didn’t.”

Taupe-penciled brows peaked, she crossed her arms. The boys frowned contemplating their aunt and father.

“Did it work? Come on, Dad.”

A silent deliberation transpired between brother and sister. “Come here boys.” Rick flopped into the center of the sofa. “You know Aunt Annie tells tall tales, Right? Remember the one about fool’s gold in the backyard?

Three sets of eyes scrutinized Annie. “You wouldn’t.” she said.

“What part of the story did I interrupt?”

“The robot, Dad—in the black chest.”

“Of course, him. He had a note taped to his gray metal chest.

I have no experience and no action. I’m worthless. Sorry.

“What happened to it, Dad?”

“You know this is Grandpa Muckle’s house. Your aunt liked it so much, she renovated it and hoped future Muckles will too. You haven’t seen the attic?”

“So, what about the robot and the crazy furniture?” Trevor brayed.

“Your aunt made up the story about the crazy furniture—it’s make believe. The robot—you have to see for yourselves. Let’s get this resolved. Come on.”

Rick pulled down the new-fangled stairs to the attic and led the way. He hit the lights.

“Look at this. There’s furniture, but it’s ratty old patio stuff, a dog carrier, and a sewing machine…Where’s the robot? Trevor, the older twin, scurried from corner to corner and stopped dead. He laughed and laughed. “Come here brother.”

“This stovepipe tinman is no robot. Aunt Annie, when you tell a tale, it’s a tall one.”

“But, no treasure? That sucks.” Trevor backed away. “Where’s the trunk? Did you check for secret compartments?

His father shook his head. “No trunk.”

“The only true thing is this black and white floor. You got me, Auntie. You too, Dad.

Younger brother whooped. “Hey, Trevor, is that a suit of armor?”

The End

©Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.


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Recuperation and Shopping

Though tired from the long haul from Thetis today, Mary and I stayed up to watch the Magnificent Marigold Hotel DVD, Part 2. The original is still vivid in my mind, but I cannot remember the second part at all.

The New Year had already slipped into day three. I had lost all track of time. The day overcast, everyone tired and sluggish, we voted to sit around, read and relax. No one thought of television till after dinner when Jean or Michael suggested Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01p6j8z

Another day of drizzle. Monday, Michael returned to work after two weeks’ vacation. The rest of us took our sweet time lollygagging along, finally headed to the village of Deep Cove shopping area. I looked up from the bottom of the inlet to this breathtaking view of the mountains. Straight ahead in the center is Mount Seymour.

Mural on a building in Deep Cove

Mural on a building in Deep Cove

About twelve years ago when I last visited, the area thrived and bustled. Now businesses had moved and premises were empty with slim pickings.

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Supper offered a new treat: vegetarian shepherd’s pie. Impressive. A fantastic facsimile in look and taste. You wouldn’t believe the complicated recipe. Know the price of pecans? This is an expensive recipe because you need a cup each of hazelnuts (filberts or pecans, well chopped) and walnuts.

Tuesday, it drizzled. I hate shopping anytime, but I wanted to bring gifts back for the family. We headed to downtown and Commercial Drive following a late breakfast. I hustled up one side of the street and down the other. Neither Mary nor I was interested in classy new stores. Jean showed us fantastic second-hand stores because we find them more fun. By 2.30 p.m., having skimmed every store, I found wonderful earrings for my granddaughters, necklaces for my daughter(one a blue Swarovski crystal) and a new ring for me. In Newfoundland, I saw a ring that called to me, which I wear on my right hand. This time I had bought one for my right (both coasts covered). We stopped for coffee and a sit in a favorite Italian restaurant Jean raved about.

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Exhausted, we headed back to Jean’s for a snack. The sky opened. Rain sluiced the windshield hard, then slowed to a drizzle again.

After dinner, Jean played jazzy tunes on her baby grand. Wish I’d taped at least one. We’d saved the second half of Downton Abbey from the night before and watched the ending.

L-R: Jean, Mary, me

L-R: Jean, Mary, me

Morning began at 4:00 a.m. Jean drove us to the airport while Michael slept. He had work in the morning. Traffic non-existent, we fast-tracked to WestJet Departures. Kiss-kiss. Hug-hug and it was goodbye.

Mary printed the boarding passes with a transfer in Calgary. Neither of us had brought credit cards in hopes of spending less. We were in Vancouver, after all. No one deals in cash anymore. How were we to pay for our luggage? A friendly attendant took our luggage, tagged the bags, and accepted our debit cards. Yay.

My purse set off an alarm. Did I have any liquids or aerosols in my carry-on? The security employee was polite. “Please open your bag.”

“Oh!”

I’d forgotten stowing a mini bottle of water inside while removing laptop; electronic devices; loading trays; removing shoes; showing boarding pass; dragging my handbag, and carry-on. Whew. How many hands do I have? Not enough.

“Would you like me to pour out the water and return the bottle?”

“If it’s not too much trouble.” I sagged with relief.

“No trouble.”

I’m surprised my bag didn’t need to be x-rayed again. I’d made the same mistake on the way to Vancouver. No bells went off. I walked through with an almost full, regular size bottle of water in my purse. Not thinking, Mary had carried foaming hand soap for sister Jean in her carry on. They confiscated it, of course.

Through security, we had ten minutes to board..

I should have nodded off on the plane but watched the sun come up instead.

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In Calgary, our gate changed at the last minute and boarding delayed 16 minutes. Three hours and twenty minutes to Toronto. Homeward bound.

 

Next time on December 16th A surprise

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Abbreviated Vancouver

 


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A New Year’s Day

Her cabin close to ours, Bronwyn again drove us back to the cottage. Jean’s husband stayed behind to sweep and reorganize the Community Center in preparation for another group’s function the next day. Tired after the evening’s excitement, I wasted no time dropping into bed. My sister said when she used the facilities (next door to my room), I was already pulling the sail (snoring like a drunken sailor). Hey, who are you calling a sailor?

In the morning, we scheduled showers, the water steaming and plentiful; towels huge, thick and absorbent. A sheer luxury. Jean rustled up French toast for a leisurely breakfast with the Panattoni she had baked at home. Michael paid our room bills and surprised me by arranging a tour of the secret room. I had seen the owner earlier and inquired about a look-see. The arrangement depended on time. Excited, I floated above ground while we waited for our peek behind the locked door.

Located in the center of the house, between our side of the house and the owner’s, the room’s location was deceiving. I had not noticed the brown stairs leading to a second level, nor the balcony outside. Our rooms were on the left side (behind the tree) and the owners lived on the right, the larger portion of the building.

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See the outside stairs to the second level and the veranda

At the scheduled time, Michael knocked at the farthest door across the foyer. The owner’s wife swung it open and invited us inside. Whoa. The place was huge. Though built in 1909, the house had been modernized with up-to-date plumbing, heating, lighting, and interior construction. I hung back ogling everything and taking nothing in. I snapped this framed picture behind glass at the entranceway and rushed to follow our group. I had no opportunity to inquire if it held any significance.

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Wow. I assumed the mystery room stored dusty trunks and ancient discards. The key to the door had gone missing some time ago.

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This is what awaited: a two-storey Christmas tree in the Great Room. Two, self-contained, two-bedroom apartments took up the second level. Family members stayed here when they came to visit with their teenage children and their friends during summer and other holidays. Even at this age, the third generation felt pride in the family home and its history. I had hoped for an invitation to see the upstairs. No offer made, I stifled my greed.

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 I heard someone had taken it either on purpose or by accident. Funny, I observed a key in the lock on the owner’s side mocking me. Lost key? What’s with that story?

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Was I disappointed our anticipated tour ended? Had our request been an intrusion? No and no. The owner enjoyed sharing. In the past, guests who wondered about the room obtained the special reveal if / when time permitted.

The van loaded to the rafters—after much packing and repacking—we set off to Michael’s family home where his mother invited us for an overnight stay. Why did the van have less room on the return trip than the one on our arrival? The leftover wine, stored at his mother’s for the meet and greet and the birthday party, was returning with us to Vancouver.

Michael stopped at the Recycle Center to drop off 23 empty bottles from the two nights of festivities before proceeding to his mom’s place (60 people served). I would have returned them to the liquor store for cash (total of $2.30). No, probably not as they needed room in the van we could not spare.

* * *

Next on December 3rd – The New Year Advances

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Abbreviated Vancouver


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Penelakut to Thetis Island

An announcement reminded foot passengers to leave the ferry first when we docked because the ferry could not dock at the exact entry due to high tide (global warming). Then vehicle passengers were announced. A city bus awaited within walking distance to transport passengers to their jobs or other destinations. Instead of a streetcar, subway, train or their own car, people actually traveled this way every day. What a way to get to work and back. I wouldn’t want to do it every day.

Mary took the elevator since we were on the second floor. Jean and I raced down the stairs and waited for the elevator door to open. A couple girls pushed the button on the deck level. Nothing. Did this mean the elevator was stuck? We waited and waited. Michael scooted to the first level looking for her. The vehicles hadn’t begun moving off yet so we had a little time. It turns out Mary hadn’t been clear which level to get off. We had a good laugh, but the important thing was we were in the van and ready to move when our turn came to exit the ferry.

No time for sightseeing. We did last minute grocery shopping in Nanaimo before stopping in Chemainus for ice cream on our way to Penelakut Island and our second ferry to Thetis Island, our destination. We waited about 20 minutes—not a long line—hoping we’d make the cut and not have to wait for another one. This time the ferry was smaller and open. The deck wasn’t full even behind us. We’d started out at 6:10 a.m. and finally arrived at our lodgings for a late lunch. A long day already.

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I had no concept how large Thetis was but it didn’t feel like an island. We passed a fenced off Bible School and a cattle farm. The houses painted in lilac, green, and butter yellow had neat and pretty yards. Around bends and curves, we wound, the muddy gravel road neither straight nor boring.

Michael, Jean’s husband, entered Overberry Resort first to register our arrival at the office and pic up a key. This is the entrance.

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The building is divided into thirds. Our side offered three bedrooms, a kitchen and a bath (our lodgings). The entrance way and foyer were in the middle, and the owners lived in the last third.

We had a quick lunch of assorted cheeses, crackers, pate and squash soup Jean had brought from home. Scrumptious. Afterwards, a nap seemed in order, but Jean realized the late hour and called out she and Michael had to go to the Community Center to setup for the meet-and-greet later in the evening. Whoever was available would come from the Center to pick us up for dinner.

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By 5:00 p.m. it was pitch black outside, but I spied a hydro pole as the light came on at the top of the driveway.

~ * ~

Here are older Images for overbury Resort. Much reconstruction and renovations have occurred to present day.

Next on November 18th – New Year’s Eve Day and Evening

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Abbreviated Vancouver


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An Abbreviated Vancouver Adventure

Last December, sister Mary and I flew to Vancouver for sister Jean’s 60th birthday. The direct flight took four hours and forty minutes. The snack and refreshment cart rattled down the narrow isle after the first class passengers had been served—just three or four rows behind the cockpit ending the seat before us. No curtain of separation divided first class and the rest of the passengers. We ordered coffee. I received mine first and made a face. Mary noticed and tugged on the airline steward’s sleeve to change her order to mint tea.

“No, you cannot,” he said. “You’ve already had a turn.”

Of course, we thought him serious and therefore rude, until he grinned and giggled, laughter reaching his eyes. He was a rosy-cheeked, round fellow, with a belly which hung over his belt. The tousled-hair blonde female flight attendant was a larger woman than hired in years gone by. How refreshing life is becoming more realistic these days.

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I cannot believe I passed up a free, like-new book left on a brown refuse box inside the airport. My fingers itched for the thick Nora Roberts hardcover novel, but I was already weighed down enough.

After experiencing the Camino-like trek through Toronto airport, we loved Vancouver’s. The baggage claim located close to ground transportation, Jean and her husband met us as soon as Mary texted our arrival. The first rain clouds in a month hung mean and leaden, keen to greet us. This was to be a family get-together with no time for sightseeing.

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Jean served a lovely snack at the house and later a late supper. The time to catch up turned to night. Weary from travel and excitement of seeing family again, we fell into bed midnight Vancouver time (9:00 p.m. in Ontario). The next morning, Mary and I slept in as Jean slipped out to a Yoga class and Michael dawdled in the kitchen assembling breakfast.

A day of eating, drinking, and talking till we were hoarse (necessitating more drinking) followed. After supper, Michael prepared a cauldron of chili (maybe it was a large pot). I threw together a filling for Jean’s petit choux (like one-bite cream puffs): artichokes, softened sun-dried tomatoes, cream cheese, and feta into a food processor for a coarse blend. These were in preparation for the festivities New Year’s Eve.

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A day of accomplishing little, we finally called it a night around 11:30 p.m. I tossed and turned, bolting upright at a thunderous crack. I reacted by checking the shelves of books around us in the great room were intact. For a split second, I thought they’d exploded around us. The report sounded once and no more. My heart hammered on. Mary said it must be the wind.

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/overnight-quake-the-strongest-felt-in-14-years-on-b-c-s-south-coast-1.2717808

The household was awake at 6:10 a.m.—ten minutes later than planned—to catch the ferry to Nanaimo. Seniors get a discount but only if they are residents. Michael paid for the tickets. No one mentioned half of us were from Ontario.

The early morning proved knuckle bleeding and foot stomping cold. We ran across and down the road to use the facilities due to our early arrival. Hurry up and wait, but that’s the unwritten rule. If you want to get on, arrive as close to the front of the line as you can before space runs out on board for your car.

The mountains striking and the water calm, we enjoyed breakfast on board at around $10.00 each for eggs, home fries, toast, and choice of ham, sausages, or bacon. Our crossing across the Georgia Straits on the Coastal Renaissance transpired without incidence.

 

Next on November 11th – Penelakut to Thetis Islands

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Abbreviated Vancouver


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#BlogBattle – Week 62

Prompt:  Photograph

Genre:  Drama

Check out the rules:  https://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

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Image by Pixaby. No  attribution required.

Broken

Shoulders curled, Marlene dropped a wobbly chin. “How has it come to this?” Leaning back into the kitchen counter, her voice dropped to a whisper.

“Shocking and a long time coming, but I’m not surprised—are you? Hey, this is a nice place. ” Alice peeked into the living room.

Marlene’s chin shot up, brown eyes bulging, accusing. “What are you saying? Not surprised.”

“Easy, sweetie. You have to admit Charlie has been mutating for years—even before you thought he might be fooling around.” Alice flicked pensive, Barbie-Doll lashes over her girlfriend’s anaemic complexion. Child-like hands dropped to narrow hips.

“Mutating.” She sniffed. “Good word. In equal parts, I’m tired of thinking about him and can’t stop. If I wasn’t eligible for the government pension… If my son hadn’t found this place and moved me in to help cut expenses… I don’t deserve this.”

“Nobody does, sweetie.” Alice reached for her sturdier friend. “The kids are grown and making their own way. You will too. The worst is over.” The women hugged; neither spoke. Alice pulled back. “Tea? Sit.”

“Remember the first little house we bought. Charlie was so house proud. Tore down and put up walls, painted, cleaned. And then… Marlene’s mouth quivered. “The babies kept coming and a prouder father you’ve never seen until…” Resolute tears drifted to her chin though she swabbed them with a shirtsleeve. “When did he begin to resent them? Us?”

“Hey. Change of subject—what did the discovery process shake out?” Alice grinned and helped herself to a sip of tea, pushing back into the kitchen chair rails.

“He’s ignoring e-mails, letters, and telephone calls. My lawyer says a court order will force him to hand over financials. Don’t know if he’s hired his own yet. Did I tell you Breann found a wad of bills stuffed into a jar in the basement rafters? I should have pocketed all of it.”

“What?” Alice set the mug on the kitchen table with a thwack. “You didn’t? Not like you—what about for decent groceries for you and Breann?”

“I mock-handed him the jar after I lifted all but $100.00 wrapped around strips of newsprint—I’m no saint.” She snorted into a palm. “Thought he’d have a stroke. Reminded him the stove didn’t work, the furnace needed replacing—it hadn’t worked for three winters—the ensuite toilet didn’t work… Thought he’d hit me. Grabbed the jar hard enough to break but didn’t, and slammed out of the house.”

“I’m your best friend. You never said. What an actress. I wondered why we met in spurts, in coffee shops—how did you stay warm?”

“Electric heaters. Expensive, but I wasn’t paying the stupid bills. The kids left one by one before the first winter was half over. Breann was the last.”

“What if he skips town?” Alice paced the narrow kitchen, her short legs stabbed at the floor like chopsticks at an empty plate.

Marlene shook her head. “He’s hanging on to the house, though it’s falling down in pieces.”

The other woman stopped, hands in her hair. “I’m amazed you hung in so long. What made you cave?”

Marlene rose to plug in the kettle again. Back turned, she shook her head, running plump, ringed fingers over the electrical cord. The silence stretched until the kettle’s noisy heating element sputtered. “I died a little after every lie and every calculated promise till I didn’t recognize him anymore, or me. The screaming fights—you don’t want to know.”

“I knew you were having problems—doesn’t every couple—why didn’t you say? Did you talk to anyone?”

“Yeah. The oldest, Cathy, the one with all the kids. Forcing my children out was the worst. I wanted to leave, but where could I go—no money of my own? Remember when Charlie, Jr. came out? I told you, right?”

Alice nodded, fading copper curls bounced around her creased, waif-like face.

“That man went crazy roaring this was no son of his. Tore up the house, broke everything in his path if it wasn’t already broken.”

“But Junior is his splitting image. What did he have in mind? Send the boy back?” Alice cackled and slapped her knee.

“Worse. My fault, he said. Wished my boy had never been born.” Eyes dull, bruised half-moons sagging underneath, Marlene stared into the distance. “Broke young Charlie’s heart.

“Computers saved me. I took classes at the library. Printed out reams of his chats and he still lied to my face. To. My. Face. My kids were gone, nothing in the house worked, only a microwave for frozen dinners. I’d had it. With only the clothes on my back, I took a cab to Cathy’s and her houseful. Where else could I go?”

“I’m starving. Anything to eat? You’re no mouse. What took you so long?” Marlene stuck her head in the fridge. “Not much here. Let’s order pizza.”

Lips compressed, Marlene gathered bleached hair, snapping on the elastic from her wrist. “Avoiding temptation. Sorry.”

“Oh? Expecting young Charlie for supper?” Alice opened cupboards till she found dinner plates.

“Don’t know. We’re free spirits. Wine?” Not waiting for an answer, she sauntered into the living room. Alice found wine glasses and pulled out her cell for pizza delivery.

 

“So, how is it on your own—I mean with Charlie, Junior?” Alice grabbed the wine bottle on her way to the living room.

“Fine. You bet I’m mad, though. This isn’t the life I’d pictured.” She snatched the remote and plopped into a chair. “CNN, okay?”

“Wait. Your couch, right? Coffee table. How’d you get them out?” Alice appraised the room and chortled.

“He changed the locks, but the kids and I broke in while he was at work. Took what I needed.”

Alice smiled wide. “Oh-oh. Trouble’s coming. Does the lawyer know?” She leaned to fill her friend’s offered glass.

“Funny enough, I have his blessing. No one suggested we were splitting up before I left. He locked me out. Simple.”

Alice poured what little was left in the bottle and tossed it off. I have a couple bottles in my overnight bag. “Girls’ night. Wait there.” She grabbed her bag by the front door.

“Use the back bedroom on the left, second door.” She heaved herself out of the chair, followed Alice down the hall, and gave her a tour of the rest of the house. Another bottle relieved of its cork, they settled back in front of the television.

Alice swung round as if struck by lightning. “Shh. Turn it up.”

“What?” Marlene sloshed wine over the back of a hand in her haste. She licked it up and thumbed the volume button until the sound blared too loud. She thumbed it down. “No way.” Mesmerized by the image on the screen, she tore her attention away and centered on her friend. Tears obscured her vision though she made no sound. Mascara streaked her cheeks. Alice set down her glass. Grabbing Marlene’s hand, she unpeeled her fingers from the goblet and set it down, too.

“Where’d they get that photograph? Wait. Cathy took it of her father on our 25th anniversary. I thought she’d burned it.” Marlene wavered and would have sunk to the floor had Alice not pushed her into the sofa. Mouth flapping without words, she turned her attention to the television screen.

The words tumbled out of the excited news reporter as if he had to tell it all in five seconds.

This just in. Police stopped a suspicious driver on old Highway 99 as his car wandered from one ditch to the other.  No additional traffic on the road at the time. Incoherent when apprehended, his blood alcohol level was well below the limit. On checking the car for drugs, a dead body—not yet in rigor mortis—was heaped like rubbish in the trunk of this man’s Mustang.

A close-up of Charlie in his best suit filled the screen, hair fuller by six years and eyes clearer and present.

“Crap. What about our divorce?”

Alice pursed her lips. “And your assets? He’s given you the shaft again, hasn’t he?”

“No way. I want a divorce before his case goes to trial.”

“Call your lawyer. Now.”

The End

I have been challenged by  Gary here, another #BlogBattler, to  capture the wife’s POV following Week 61 found here.

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