How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


6 Comments

Vancouver: Grouse Mountain and a Little Politics

The return walk across the far-reaching rocky bridge was not as intimidating as upon our arrival at Capilano. The skywalk complete, we checked out the (tourist trap) gift shop. I didn’t buy anything. Before we searched for our bus, Mary hankered for an ice cream cone (expensive), though the line was long and the clock was tick-tick-ticking to departure.

Another adventure coming up closer to heaven. Next stop, Grouse Mountain. Unlike the cable car in this video, ours did not allow personal space or movement. Stuck in the middle, I avoided vertigo since I could not look down.

Quick Tips:

  • 15 minutes outside downtown Vancouver
  • Gondola 3700 feet above the city
  • Breathtaking views
  • Grizzly Bear habitat
  • 2008 Mountain Ziplining begins
  • 2010 Olympic Games
  • Learn to snowboard on Grouse Mountain
  • Mount Seymour known for snowshoeing
  • One must be in good shape to ski on Whistler Mountain
  • https://www.grousemountain.com/web-cams/chalet-cam

During our visit May 18th, 2017, the tables and umbrellas were under snow unlike in the webcam link above.

A recent snowfall necessitated a hasty cleanup. Here is Mary, tiny beside the towering snow.

We were off to visit the bears.

A huge, two-story building on the property houses restaurants, shops, gardens with a patio and a fantastic lookout and an observation area:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The cable car would not leave till every last person on the mountain squeezed into our car. This time I was crammed against a bit of window, wedged in so tight, I did not manage to capture any pictures. Mary was more successful.

Mary grabbed a robe and headed to the North Tower to the pool she had researched. Because the 3rd floor had been roped off to the catwalk due to some big deal Liberal party goings-on, she had to find another entrance.

Taking a change of clothes to the pool hadn’t crossed her mind. She returned across the parking lot in the bathrobe. She soon returned, describing the swarms of security personnel roaming the hotel property

Mary dressed for dinner but not till she tried on all the clothes in her luggage. Maybe she knew something I did not. I was starving after a full day outside and anxious to eat. The doors to the North Tower were locked, warning signs posted saying so, and cordoned off. Security men in suits scrutinized our persons as if we were criminals. Mary inquired how we’d get inside to Café One and our dinner. With a lazy smile and a slow-moving hand, one of the men unlocked the door.

We waited for the door unlocking again after eating. Two security men’s conversation was more important than our escape to our hotel rooms. Soon as the doors opened, hooting and hollering drew our distracted attention: a demonstration on the hotel’s front lawn. Whoopee. Not a huge crowd, maybe a hundred angry citizens, but they made enough noise for hundreds.

Spectators gaped while placard grapplers shouted their displeasure with Prime Minister Trudeau’s. Ahh. The security measures became clear. We heard our PM was in the same building where we’d eaten. The day before Mary and I snooped upstairs of the restaurant. Large conference rooms were setup with refreshment tables. Maybe setting up for this day’s conference? Days later when I checked my laptop for news of the demonstration, I found this video regarding the $750.00 fundraiser the PM attended at our hotel.

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=112844

~ * ~

Next on August 10th – Vancouver: The Rocky Mountaineer

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Advertisements


13 Comments

Vancouver: Amazing Capilano Bridge

In transit again, I had no idea how I’d cope with/on the next new wonder. Heights are not my thing. Ever. I made note of our bus’s license number since many buses were alike. A zillion people swarmed around us as we prepared to follow on what seemed the only path. Holy Moly. Rooted to the spot at what lay ahead, I imitated a statue; Mary hiked forward.

Even as I screwed up my courage to follow, people turned back. I moved in a trance, neither nervous nor shaking. Signs warned against causing the bridge to swing. It moved plenty for me but I managed moving forward. Don’t look down!

Looking down almost unhinged me. Grown men clutching the railing announced to passersby in a quivering voice, “No way my cup of tea.”

A couple yards near the end, a woman clutched the railing, paralyzed with fear. A man unstitched her fingers and in a calm voice told her to look him in the eye. We all behind them, halted while the two inched forward at turtle speed. Once on terra firma, the woman’s relief and deep exhale engaged us all. How would this older woman make her way back on the return pass?

I cannot believe the pictures I took, tons more than I can share.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Quick Facts

  • Length: 450 feet
  • Height: 230 feet above the river
  • 15 minutes from North Vancouver
  • Built 1889 by George Grant MacKay
  • Originally made of hemp ropes
  • 1903 replaced hemp to wire cable
  • 2004 Treetop Adventures opened (7 foot suspended bridges up to 98 feet up)
  • 2011 Cliff Walk added (300 feet up and 750 feet long)
  • Income from bridge: $23 million per year
  • Grandma Capilano tallest tree in the forest

Carvings at Capilano done by Glenn Greenside. See more images here.

 

After a while, I forgot we were halfway to the clouds and marvelled at the stupendous vision and the work it took to accomplish this fantastic undertaking from dream to reality.

Next on August 3rd – Vancouver: Grouse Mountain and a little Politics

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


8 Comments

North to Alaska: Last Day and New Horizons

Sunrise had been forecast for 5:00 a.m. but with last minute checking and rechecking everything ended up in our suitcases that belonged, we missed taking pictures.

Vancouver on the Horizon

Neither Mary nor I had checked what time the Lido Market would be open for breakfast, but she suggested we order in. An excellent idea. I had scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, toast, and coffee. Mary’s choices were a fruit plate, cottage cheese, muesli, and coffee. A soft knock on the door announced breakfast’s arrival. What a feast. Food that needed to be hot did not disappoint.

The kitchen staff called, “Did you enjoy your breakfast?”

“Indeed. Excellent. Thank you.”

Later, Mary called to have our trays removed. Unlike hotels, halls on ships are narrower and likely to cause tripping hazards if anything other than luggage is left outside. Once again, someone came lickety-split.

As we waited for expedited disembarkation announcement, Mary could not find her key card, without which she could not leave the ship. She called the Reception Desk and an attendant promised a new one. While she raced to pick it up, I worried how long she may be held up. The fusspot I am, I grit my teeth and worried about missing our proper exit. Finally, she returned and we pushed and pulled our luggage out the door. Only about a dozen people stood around with us, some with carry-ons but no luggage. Within minutes, a solitary uniform pointed forward. We offered our key cards for scanning, and out we zipped. “Keep the card as your souvenir,” said the scanning lady when finished.

It’s as if everyone had already gone ashore or was this a ghost ship? No one ahead and no one behind. We scurried downward, were directed by a silent figure with a smile and a wave to proceed straight down the length of the airport building. No customs and no questions. How strange. Just us two: no crowds or foot traffic. It felt special being an expedited passenger but surreal, and I wondered why anyone exiting the cruise ship, whether to catch their flight, hop a bus or taxi to their hotel, wouldn’t get off like we had. Why go to the trouble of putting your bags outside by midnight and then wait inside the airport to claim them?

Part of our itinerary included a taxi and driver upon our return to Vancouver. No sooner had I inquired about this, three women came forward, one a trainee. Our taxi awaited. The rep handed a voucher to the driver and we sped through Vancouver traffic to the Sheraton. The weather continued overcast; smoke-colored clouds hung heavy and low, more like a dismal fall rather than past mid-May.

Within ten minutes or so, the taxi arrived at Sheraton Wall Centre. Already registered at the hotel as part of the holiday itinerary, our key cards were ready and we headed to the seventeenth floor, sans luggage. The bags arrived before we did. Impressive.

~ * ~

Next on July 6thVancouver Again. Now What?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


26 Comments

North to Alaska: Snooping Around

We arrived late for lunch with no idea the buffet would be closing soon. No one blocking the food, I managed to take these pictures of various stations.

The buffet servers work eight months on the ship and return home for the remaining four.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A boom-boom disturbance overhead disrupted after lunch coffee. No other patrons seemed worried or appeared to pay attention. A couple noticed my bewilderment and the man explained there was a basketball court overhead.

“You’re not pulling my leg?” Mary asked.

“I’ll bet my lunch that’s the sound of a bouncing basketball.”

Mary giggled. “You’ve no lunch to bet.”

The sun struggled to brighten the day but dark clouds had other ideas, thrusting it into the background. Huddled in our jacket collars, we jogged a couple laps around the promenade deck after lunch—three and a half laps = 1 mile. A biting wind forced us back inside. Had the weather cooperated, we would have logged a few miles more. We passed a few pairs of walkers, a meditating woman on a blanket (b-r-r), and another one practicing yoga. Three men in white overalls painted the outside deck walls. Phew. I gagged on the fumes, though we were outside. I wondered why none wore masks against the toxic vapors. Seems Health and Safety rules do not apply to painting with nautical paint. Or is this a non-issue since all the workers are from poor countries and nobody cares? Shame. Shame.

I had my heart set on a generous feed of fish and shrimp, but we were late arriving. The buffet had run out. More arrived after we’d finished a fish dinner and Mary scooped up a half dozen to share. I’ve only had shrimp that huge once when I purchased them for a New Year’s Eve dinner party years ago. Thank goodness, I hadn’t invited the neighborhood.

Tummies happy, we searched for advertised entertainment. The Hudson room offered a piano/violin duo and inviting deep chairs but the music didn’t suit our mood—too sedate.

Next, we discovered the duty-free store. A female employee in the jewelry area talked us into sticking around for a free draw in ten minutes. She tore off matching tickets: one for each of us and the twin for the bin. We figured with only a half-dozen participants, we had an excellent chance of winning something. Soon the employee hooked 50 or 60 male and female shoppers and those waiting for the piano bar to open. Ten minutes turned into a half-hour.

What a setup. The person with the winning number had 30 seconds to open as many boxes as they could manage in an effort to extract one containing a jewelry surprise. Soon, a couple of the ‘winners’ asked if there were indeed prizes as the first handful were not lucky. The employee threw the empty boxes back in the bin to encourage deeper digging. What felt like hours later, we left empty-handed and yawning. Six happy winners dispersed to the bar. The lounge singer behind a ¾ wall crooned for some time to clinking glasses and the murmur and hum of energetic conversation.

It had been a long day fighting bitter winds, moody clouds, and noxious paint fumes. The first full day surrounded by nothing but water and food drew to a close. I wished for my pillow to hasten our time of arrival in Juneau the following day.

~ * ~

Next on April 13th – North to Alaska: Yay!  Juneau Ahead

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


16 Comments

North to Alaska: All Aboard

My heart dancing the Watusi, I took in nothing of my surrounding as we boarded the cruise ship, MS Volendam. We were already in the system as it was mandatory to complete an online registration no less than a week prior and up to 50 days before departure. Doing so also opened an onboard account to which all extras (drinks, purchases, internet etc.) excluded from the cruise price were billed to our (registered) credit card.

From the time we arrived at the port, continued through processing, and arrived in our stateroom, an hour and a half had passed. I’ve no recollection how we found our cabin. Our ocean-view room troubled us due to noisy people passing by and conversing on the deck outside the window. Mary closed the drapes as we thought they could look inside but as it turned out, they could not. Feeling exposed, we kept them closed throughout the cruise.

Mary’s bag arrived at 1:47 about 17 minutes after arriving in our room. I asked our stateroom attendant, Dan, “Where the heck is mine?”

“Maybe tomorrow,” Dan said, “if not today.” He was a reedy Pilipino in a signature Volendam jacket, mischief in his eyes, crooked teeth center stage. He had a bit of an accent but his English was excellent as was his partner’s, James.

We cut expenses where we could

We decided to explore and ended up on the lido deck for a snack. Upon our return, my luggage still had not arrived. We asked the young attendant outside our door what might be taking so long.

“Maybe they found liquor inside.”

What? The cruise line allowed one bottle of wine per passenger (only wine) with a warning of confiscation if more. Just my luck. I prepared for such a drama.

An announcement over the PA system suggested attendance to a Safety Meeting. A couple we met on the lido deck said we sign in with our room key. If our information isn’t registered at the meeting, they come to get you. Some suggestion. We moseyed to Station 8 Muster Station for the presentation shy of 4:00 p.m. Large groups gathered at various stations we could see all along the length of the ship. I worried about so many people on one side at once. The day was dull and dry but it was chilly and I wanted the meeting to finish.

People in large groups act like children. They act as if rules do not apply to them. Some kept talking during the demonstration and we couldn’t hear the woman speaker. “Be quiet!” The talkers were warned, not once but twice, before they zipped their lips.

We returned to our room afterward and I could not believe my bag had finally arrived. The lock had not been broken; I checked inside. Both bottles hid in the folds of clothes in their bubble wrap cocoons, dry and in one piece.

Around 5:00 o’clock, a gentle murmur underfoot—a light vibration no more than a whisper—signaled we were underway. Mary and I watched from inside the eighth-floor deck as the ship skimmed over the shimmering, glass-smooth water, soundless as a ghost ship. We eased toward the underside of the Lions Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean, barely disturbing the surface.

We sliced through the water barely disturbing the surface, shown bottom left of photo

~ * ~

Next on March 23rd – North to Alaska: Chit-chatting Passengers

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


Trekking from Guangzhou to Zhongshan

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We continued on into an industrial area of Zhongshan where I noticed palms along the waterways as I had along the highway (unexpected). Something beeped again on a seat at the front of the bus, but neither the driver nor our guide appeared to care. I almost laughed aloud while I observed one of the men lean into the aisle to watch the road. I realized we were all nervous about Mr. Li’s driving.

At a lull in the loud conversation in Cantonese, Carolyn called out to Russ from the back of the bus. Did he know what the large framed squares and rectangles of water were? Since he sat closer to the front, he raised his voice and addressed Helen, who gave a cryptic answer: fish farms. It’s difficult to tell the approximate sizes as we were not close, and looked downwards from a moving bus. My wild guesstimate is 30 by 30 or 40 feet. A tall apparatus poked out of the center of the sectioned areas and I wondered if might be some sort of filtration system.

Zhongshan Quick Facts

  • Palm trees along highway and waterway seemed strange
  • Squares/rectangles of waterways framed by grassy strips are fish farms (fish ponds)
  • Fish farm water looked clean like a lake or river, but muddy / no rocky bottom
  • These are privately run, but government owned
  • Shacks here and there not for humans habitation, but for tools and supplies for fish farms
  • Usually two, sometimes three rice crops a year
  • More about fish farming here

The French bus passed us traveling in the opposite direction. The driver swung in a wide left turn off the highway into a construction site strewn with pipes and sporting newly planted trees. There wasn’t much room to turn around. At last, quiet reigned and we caught up to the French bus again. Two or three kilometers later, we reached Zhongshan and managed to find our hotel as we trailed the French bus.

After lunch, Sue, Lorena and her husband, Ernesto, went shopping for a half-hour until 2:00 p.m. at outside vendors. The rest of us stood around and chatted. Helen checked on us and announced she was going to the washroom. I followed because I had no idea where to find the Happy House. She walked into the men’s washroom—not an unusual mistake—rolled her eyes and changed direction with a loud laugh. Afterwards, since there was no paper and the hand dryer didn’t work, she offered me toilet paper from her purse. I said I carried my own, but she insisted. I told her I was prepared to dance and shake my hands to dry them if necessary. This is the second time we exchanged words.

The driver and tour guide continued to carry on a loud, spirited discussion. They weren’t quiet for a second. Helen kept playing with her hair, smoothing it and running her fingers through. Neither let up on whatever they were yakking about. He laughed. Nervous? She continued to push him with her voice. His knees bounced up and down. I wished he gave his full attention to driving. At one point he lowered his voice, knee still bouncing, and stared at Helen in the rear-view mirror. She kept nattering for the one and a half-hour bus ride to the hotel. Our English Group Eight kept moving deeper and deeper into the back of the bus since it was empty except for we Canadians. Sue inserted ear-plugs. Someone clapped their hands but it had no effect on the driver and guide.

Helen moved from sitting behind the driver to the seat opposite him. Why?  At least they gave sideways glances at each other instead of talking into the rear-view mirror. I wished Mr. Li kept his eyes on the road instead.

Lily, our previous guide, had mentioned Chinese people were not quiet. I thought I noticed a slight blush when she shared this information.

Helen and Mr. Li finally began a more animated conversation compared to what had sounded like murderous arguing. They smiled and sounded happier and were more relaxed, more companionable rather than quarrelsome. Mr. Li smiled, voice lowered, his face animated.

Sue snoozed and I scribbled in my notebook. She had been disappointed only 30 minutes of shopping had been allowed. She managed to buy another T-shirt and worried shopping around our next hotel may be department stores and not street vendors with whom one might negotiate a better price.

Finally, we arrived at our hotel in Zhongshan around 3:45 p.m.

IMG_0682

Other areas in the lobby:

~ * ~

Next on November 24thth – A Whirlwind Visit in Zhongshan

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your faithful reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support far beyond my capability to express. Please bear with me.

 


Cruising the Yangtze, Part 1

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

My apologies for the scarcity of photos in this post.

I awoke at 5:50 A.M. Outside, the weather appeared dull and overcast with a veil of hazy fog—not smog—I hoped.   I called it misty because we were on the water after all. The previous night, we’d set sail around 10:00 p.m. but were stationary when Sue and I set off to breakfast.

Image Courtesy of RJ, Early morning mist

Sue had played with the alarm clock the night before, not sure how it worked. To her relief, it buzzed at 6:20 exactly as she’d set it. but we hadn’t needed it. I have no idea why we woke so early. Might it have been the low hum of engines stopping?

The shower tiny, but efficient and shoved into the corner of the small space, had a rounded, two-door closure, which met each other in the center for a snug fit. I’m pleased to report the water was hot and stayed inside the enclosure though I had sparse elbow room to move around.

Breakfast

We made it to the Early Bird breakfast (7:00 – 7:30) for the free coffee and arrived at 6:55. It was pleasant to linger over three coffees and sweet rolls. Why were we told the coffee was free? All buffets were inclusive as part of the complete tour package.

I didn’t take inventory at our later breakfast (8:30 – 9:00 A.M.) but had a hard-boiled egg, buns covered in sunflower seeds, strawberry jam, yogurt (plain and watery, but sweet—maybe too sweet), white cheese slices. No need to rush to the Early Bird the next day as the coffee was free at the regular breakfast as well.  I had a giggle over this. What was Ivy, our presenter the previous night, thinking when she advised it was only free at 7:00 A.M.? Maybe it was the way she said it that we’d misunderstood. I had the feeling she was quite proud of her English and I confess it was quite good and 1000 percent better than my Chinese. Maybe she meant coffee was available for early risers?

Click HERE to read about the Battle_of_Red_Cliffs

I chose to pass on the morning excursion to the Red Cliffs (9:00 – 11:00), not because I had a need to be alone, but because I wanted some free time, and to wash out a few things and relax. Sue, however, looked forward to this tour.

Click HERE for images of red+cliffs ruins in Chibi

While I enjoyed my afternoon lazying in a deck chair on the balcony, the maid came in to make up the room. I told her she didn’t need to; we would. No. She had to. Throughout this trip, I noticed rules were written in stone and never changed in any way. No adjustments nor skipping or replacing items or details. After making the beds, the maid made her way into the bathroom and came right out again. “One towel and one face cloth missing,” she said. Eyes wide, her hands and voice trembled. I almost laughed aloud.

“I washed some tee shirts and wrapped one in the towel to draw out the water faster.” I pointed to the second deck chair.

“You can give to Laundry.” She pulled herself together and reached for the pricing brochure on the desk.

“Maybe next time,” I said even as I had no intention of following through with my lie. I unrolled my Tees and handed her the towel and face cloth. Her body relaxed from head to toes.

The Yangtze is a true yellow and dirty, harboring floating junk here and there. All the junk was small with a few branches, not large chunks of anything. I couldn’t help picturing someone emptying a bucketful of cigarette butts as I saw those as well. In spots I noticed large and small ripples as if there were a sandbar underneath—I hoped not. I knew the ripples weren’t from the ship stirring the water because we weren’t moving. I waited for the excursion group to return.

Image courtesy of RJ. This boat is a mystery.

Rusting barges and tugboats transported coal, sand, and gravel alongside and then past our ship. I couldn’t imagine anyone fishing in this river. Would they? A blue ship with three white decks cruised by. Automobiles took up every square inch of deck space. I don’t recall their makes or models. and remember wondering if any every slid off.

After Sue left on the Chibi tour, an alarm sounded over the intercom. A loud announcement in several languages advised this was a fire drill but to stay in our cabins. The drill was for the ship’s crew. Soon after, we were given permission to leave our cabins. I decided to go to Reception to use the Internet.

The second floor presented a throng of crew members in life-jackets over smart blue uniforms. My guess is a health and safety meeting was in progress. A handsome, thirtysomething male in a navy uniform (the only one with gold braiding on the cuffs and outfitted with a life-jacket as well), stood aside to allow me past. Shoot, Don’t you just love a man in uniform? Each and every one replicated a super handsome male or was that just me? Face burning, I plodded through the testosterone-filled lobby to the front desk. On the way back, I stumbled along again, as they all appeared to watch though their meeting continued. For once, I found myself the only female in a room filled wall-to-wall (maybe not quite) with smiling, receptive (maybe distracted) men. Sigh.

~ * ~

Next on July 28th: On the Yangtze River, Part 2

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.


63 Comments

Ferry to Labrador

Luggage outside the door and breakfast at 8:00 a.m. Leave hotel at 9:00 to catch the ferry 30 minutes later.

Silly me. After breakfast, I told sister Mary we needn’t rush as bus boarding wasn’t until 9:30. At 9:01, the hotel phone rang. Everyone was on the bus. Waiting. What? We rushed out and I kept apologizing. Some eye-rolling commenced, but everyone seemed good-natured about it. I cast my eyes to the floor, praying for it to open and swallow me whole.

To give us all a different perspective from the bus, Francis moved our seating two rows forward each day. The wife of one couple, sitting across the aisle, began a tirade that the practice had stopped. She was wrong, and this was only day four. My first mistake was not ignoring her. I was reading after all. The second one was nodding (though non-committal), hoping the conversation was over. I turned back to my book. She called the guide, who explained he did move names every day, but she didn’t understand. He stayed calm and finally walked back to his seat.

IMG_1578

We arrived at the ferry in good time to board, bus and all. A hatch like a car hood yawned open and Shawn drove us inside. The holding area was already half-filled with vehicles. Francis led us up three flights to a wide, empty center, large enough for a big dance party. Facing the huge expanse of windows, bar-type tables and chairs hugged the perimeter

For health and safety reasons, an announcement came over the intercom advising the location of rafts and life jackets. I didn’t understand the rushed message. Deep water and the talk about it gave me the chills. The engines hummed. They became louder. We watched the door through which the vehicles had entered, descend and close like jaws on a shark.  I felt the ferry floor vibrate beneath my feet. We crossed from Newfoundland to Labrador across the Strait_of_Belle_Isle. The distance is only about nine or ten miles, but the ferry doesn’t travel in a straight line. The crossing took about an hour and can take up to ninety minutes.

Someone heard about a school of dolphins and fish. We raced to the poop deck, but all we accomplished was a sharp slap of freezing wind in the face when I opened the door. Also no whales. This tour had been added after the close of the tour season because the travel company had such an overflow of tourists interested in making this trip. No whales. No puffins and no lobsters. All gone. Moved off. We’d come too late to Newfoundland.

Upon arrival, our group was called to gather by the Information Desk for disembarking. The stairs were narrow and a fellow passenger with a cane in front of us tried hurrying. Mary warned him to take his time. I was shocked to see cars parked with a hair’s breadth between them. It didn’t take long for the cars in front of our bus to drive off and allow our exit. There wasn’t room to slide a sheet of paper between our bus and the car beside and in front of it. Shawn inched the bus back to open the passenger door. He barely squeezed inside himself.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

WE arrived on a strip of Quebec and drove through L’Anse aux Clair (cove of life), the road traffic moved at a crawl. Here you can change your watch back to Newfoundland from Quebec time. Fog rolled off the St. Lawrence, thick and soupy.

Today’s Chuckle:

A taxi driver picked up a nun. She noticed him watching in the rearview mirror after she got into the back seat. “Is something bothering you, my son?”

“I’m sorry, Sister. I’d rather not say.”

“Go on. I may be a nun, but I’ve heard a lot of things in my time.”

“I’ve had this fantasy, Sister, my whole life, of kissing a nun.”

“That’s alright, son. I can oblige, but I have two conditions. You must be Catholic and unmarried.

“I’m both of those, Sister.”

“Pull in there son.” She pointed to an alley.

Ten minutes later, they came out. The nun noticed the driver crying. “What is it, my son?”

“I lied, sister. I’m not Catholic; I’m Jewish and I’m married.”

“That’s alright, my son. I’m Kevin, and I’m going to a Halloween party.”

Next on February 12th: L’Anse Amour

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

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


72 Comments

Tailspin

Tired of waiting, I paced from the front room to the kitchen. Hurry up, Ma. What’s taking so long?

I pulled the curtain aside. Franco and Smitty raced up and down the dusty road. Anxious to join them, I gazed over my shoulder at the kitchen wall. The long arm on the cuckoo clock crept one tentative lurch at a time. I slumped into a chair again. Ma!

My baby sister, Caterina, stacked and whacked her blocks on the sloping linoleum. She jabbered baby talk, drool sliding down her chubby chin and onto her chest. I peered at the clock again. Tick. Tock. My chair creaked; I couldn’t sit still. A hint of last night’s spaghetti sauce and Ciabatta bread still hung in the air.

Urgent fists pounded on the front door. The baby’s jaw shot up. She clutched a red block in mid-air. With heart thumping and ears burning, I raced to see who it might be.

Mrs. Fournier, from across the road, shifted from foot to foot on the veranda, clasping and unclasping her reddened hands. A bleached cotton headscarf, worn in the bandana style, covered her hair as always. I didn’t know if she even had hair. Her face chalk white, she chewed on her bottom lip. “Excusez-moi…Maman, Rosalia?”

“Shopping. She’ll be home soon. What, Mrs. Fournier?”

“Téléphone—not worry, mon enfant, you only eight—où…?”

“At the P&G, I think. You want me to find her?”

Non—Oui!” She nodded, head bobbing like a tethered balloon. “Vous allez. Rapide.” She clapped her hands like a school teacher.

“I can run fast, Mrs. Fournier. You look after Caterina?” I pointed to the baby, grabbed my sweater and ripped across the lawn. Telephone. Never good news. Where would Ma go first?

 A few minutes later, my lungs burned and my side pinched. Pebbles from the gravel road attacked my bare calves. A penny loafer flew off. I staggered and pitched forward onto the sharp stones, sprang up and shoved my foot back inside. My scraped hands burned. I rounded the corner and tore up the concrete sidewalk on Godfrey Street, the main street in town.

Mrs. Kowalski and Mrs. MacDonald blocked my way. They regarded me with interest as I danced around them.

“You need to use the bathroom, dear?” Mrs. MacDonald stooped over me as far as her arthritic back would allow.

“No. I’m looking for Ma. Did you see her in the P&G maybe?”

“Yes, Rosalia, she’s there.”

“Saturday busy. Everything is okay?” Mrs. Kowalski the nosey one asked, her eyes sharp and probing as a crow’s.

“Thank you. Bye.” I rushed up the sidewalk to the end of the block, through P&G’s door and smack into Ma in line to pay. She swerved against the supporting pillar beside her. The carpetbag partially-full of groceries, swung at her side. The edge of the wooden handles collided with my hip.

“Ma, Mrs. Fournier says come home quick. She’s home with Caterina.”

“What is it, Rosalia?” My mother’s eyes, bright a moment before, faded and her face took on the washed out color of our neighbour’s kerchief.

“I don’t know. She said telephone. You think it’s about Daddy?”

“Excuse. Excuse.” Ma pushed her way to the counter and grabbed the checkout lady’s forearm. “You take, Giselle.” She heaved the cloth bag, handles clacking, to the cashier. “I come later pay.  Go home now.” Customers who’d moved back to make room, patted her back and shoulders. Smitty’s mother was one of them. Lips pinched tight, she closed her eyes and nodded.

I clutched Ma’s hand; we rushed through the door. People stepped out of the way. I tugged her arm all the way home for three endless blocks, her body stiff as the Tin Man. I peeked at her face. I hoped the news wasn’t bad. “Come on Ma. We’re almost home.” Lips moving without sound, she stared straight ahead.

I dropped her hand and sprinted ahead up the stairs to open the door. Ma staggered in behind me. Mrs. Fournier grabbed her arm as soon as we crossed the threshold. The bedroom door slammed in my face. I hunched forward with my ear to the door.

 

End of Part 1

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


40 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #167

100wcgu-72

It’s that time again. Check the link below to join in:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week167/

The prompt this week is the photo below (What are they saying?)

Julia Word Challenge 167

NO TATTLE, NO TALE

 Ralph gripped the railing. “We can’t ignore this.” He rubbernecked the close passers-by.

“I retire in a week.”

“Listen to yourself? Who are you?”

“It’s been one hitch after another.” Bill scrubbed his forehead. “This mall is jinxed.”

“What about public safety? You’re the chief engineer.”

“I’m dog-tired.” Bill shoved the clipboard towards his subordinate.

“Think of your legacy. The crack is widening—”

“Too late for me.” Bill’s voice faltered like coarse sandpaper.

“What?”

“I’ll be dead in a month.”

“Come again?”

“You handle it.” Hands in his pockets, Bill trudged away, back almost straight.

“How, Billy? Come back.”

 

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles