How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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#BlogBattle Week 55 – Leviathan

It’s that time again. To join the challenge, click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Genre: Humor / Fantasy

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Part 1    Part 2    Part 3

SNAGGED

Part 4

“What do you mean, ‘because of magic’?”

“You can’t imagine my shock when you showed up—on Leap Day. It’s a sign.” Maggie paused to pour a drink, but changed her mind hands aflutter. Where was I?”

“What did Zero mean about Nelda?” Lisa massaged Mozart’s ear. Euphoric, he leaned into her caress, eyes pinched shut, weaving on her lap drunk with pleasure, his purr lowering by decibels.

Rubbing her chin, Maggie paced two steps forward and back again. “How did the cat find you? I see the special bond between you—maybe that’s it.”

“Are you avoiding the question? Again?” Lisa stood, the feline deposited on the sofa. “Are you listening?” Hands on hips she stamped a foot.

Palm open to shush her, the woman in black continued. “Wait—the hair on your shirt. He must have followed it. Yes. That’s it.” She tapped a closed fist to her forehead, then hesitated, appearing to listen to something only she heard.

“Sit down, Lisa. I’ll start at the beginning. At first, when the Zika virus arrived families dwindled, I wanted to help Zero and his sister. They were unsure whether to go or stay. Of course, I wanted Zero to stay.” She looked up to underscore her point.

“Oh.” Lisa supressed a yawn.

“I was in a corner. Most of his family gone, and though Nelda decided to hang in, Zero kept dithering. You’ve seen the rare books I collect, some are two and three hundred years old. I came across a book of spells and of course had to try them. The arrival of this book turned me around.

I made mistakes, but they didn’t hurt anyone. Until Nelda.” Fingers entwined, she worked them back and forth, lost in a world of her own. Shaking herself back, she continued. “My life’s been a roller coaster ride—of  Leviathan proportions—since 2016 when Nealy slipped through my fingers. Exactly four years ago.”

“I don’t understand. What? A levia—“

“Sorry, like my dad I make weird associations. It a humungous roller coaster in Canada’s Wonderland. My life exactly, whoosh up one way and down another at breakneck speed. It a wonder I haven’t suffered heart failure since she vanished.” Fingers splayed, she patted her chest.

“I still don’t get it.” Coiled on the couch in sleep, Mozart yawned, and opened an eye at the long-winded explanation. Lisa smiled.

“Nelda understood I wanted her brother to stay and was willing help, even if we had to use magic. The magic excited her. I was merely desperate.

“We needed a black cat. I had Viper, but he refused to cooperate. Nelda held him down though he squirmed. Useless cat. He broke free and flew out the cat door as I finished the spell. When I turned back to her, Nelda was gone. Poof. I’ve tried and tried to get her back without success.”

“What does this have to do with me? Why am I here?” Lisa’s fingers reached for the cat’s ear. He sighed. She cleared her throat. “What about me?”

Viper sailed into the sitting room sliding across the wood floor until the area rug stopped him. Mozart snarled. Viper hissed. One black, one white, they eyed each other, fur raised, ears lowered. Mozart said something and licked a paw. Viper cocked his head. The women held their breath. Nothing happened.

“I have an idea. What time is it? Seven hours till midnight. I’ll get the book. Maybe this is my lucky day after all.”

Lisa shot to her feet. “No. Wait.” Maggie vanished through the curtained doorway. An eruption of heavy books thumping to the floor thudded from the bookstore.

Within minutes, she rushed back, stopped dead by the sight of the cats’ peering up at her. No hissing, nor fighting as if by agreement. Or magic. Glancing from the toms to Lisa biting her lip, Maggie nodded to herself. Hugging a thick, tattered volume to her chest, her eyes glistened. “I don’t know what happened here, but I like it. Viper is super territorial or was. Strange.” She grabbed Lisa’s hand. “Come help me.”

The girl shrank back. “What are you doing?” She flashed a glimpse at her cat, whose ears pointed slightly to the sides and forward. He stared back, unblinking and appeared to approve.

“I was right. There is something about your cat. He’s going to help me get Nelda back.”

“Oh, no you don’t. What about Viper? He’s sitting still. Seems logical to give him another try.” Lisa scooped her white bundle of joy. He nipped her finger. “Ouch. Sorry.”

Maggie flipped pages back and forth. “Come on. Come on. Where is it?” Except for the rustle of fine paper dancing back and forth between the leather covers, no other sound broke the silence. A film of perspiration glistened on her forehead. Mouth dry, she licked her lips. “I’ve tried so many spells, I can’t decide. I thought I’d put the book away for good after this morning’s attempt. I know not to waste time on that one.”

Lisa and Mozart’s eyes met. Hers widened and bulged. “What did you say about this morning? You mean your spell plopped me here?”

“Here it is—I think.” Maggie sat on the floor, book open on the coffee table. Viper, ever watchful, had not moved since Mozart had words with him. Head tilted, he was the picture of a sleek black panther in miniature.

Lisa sank to the farthest reaches of the sofa cushions. She listened to words, most she did not understand except one. “Wait, you said purgurtory. Shouldn’t it be purgatory?”

Maggie blinked. “What?” She began again. Viper stared at a spot on the wall.

Lisa caught the flash of a green dress. The woman looked familiar. A jackhammer clattered in her head.

* * *

Lis-s-aaa. Where are yo-uu?

The End

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


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Jiggs Dinner and Anchors Aweigh

A long afternoon of driving after lunch. We visited Lomond (in Gros Morne National Park) known for its camping, boating, and picnic area.

We traipsed from the upper road down, down, down, down to the water. over a path and then a gravel road (for boats?). Someone had setup camp in what appeared a field away from the water. We made an effort not to disturb whomever might be sleeping although it was mid-afternoon. We came across lady’s slippers, usually found in July not this time of year (mid-September).

In the evening, the trio from the Bon Boat Tour, who were part of the Anchors Aweigh band, were performing in the evening. We picked up tickets at Oceanview Hotel while in Rocky Harbour.

IMG Anchors Aweigh Ticket_NEW

The tickets were $30 each, more than double a previous entertainment offering we’d passed up. After enjoying the trio on the Bonne Tours boat, and after a video of the five-member group’s performance concert on the bus, Mary and I decided why not. Of course, any drinks we wanted would be over and above the entrance price.

Special Treat Supper: Jiggs Dinner

Boiled salt beef, yellow pea pudding, gravy, a whole potato and carrot, and green peas. I have a story about this farther down. I found my yellow pea pudding dry and overall could not finish the platter. What a huge meal.

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The hotel jammed with tourists when we arrived for the 8:00 p.m. show, favored us with a tall table and four chairs in the back of the room. New Patrons from another group soon joined Mary and me. They’d also been treated to the Jiggs dinner earlier—the original with cabbage. Francis told us our menu had been changed from cabbage to green peas for a reason. The tour company wanted to ensure the passengers on the bus were without growling tummies or upsets, and happy the next day

The three-hour show was worth every penny. The band took only one break for less than twenty minutes. I’m tempted to say it was closer to ten. The music continued fast and lively; the jokes and laughs endless. This is not my go-to music but I enjoyed every minute of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0woJtm_3Xw

Credit: Shotgun Jilly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDVLrP9ki4Q  (band bio)

Credit: OnTheBeatAndPath

Giggle for today:

This kind of day is nicer looking down on the grass than looking up.

Next on April 1st –  Do Salmon Need Help?

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

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


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Discovery Center and Lunch

The boat adventure across Bonne Bay to Woody Point over, Shaun drove us to the restaurant for lunch.

As close to the internet as you’re going to get (Note #2)

Lunch:

Because of the dampness outside, I’d hoped for a hot coffee upon entering the restaurant. No luck. A full water jug center-pieced each table. The meal arrived almost immediately.

Three kinds of fish: Capelin, Turbot and Cod. Two scoops mashed potatoes dusted with fresh parsley, carrot knuckles, and a branch of broccoli. The carrots were perfect, just soft enough, and the broccoli crisp and bright green.

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The Capelin was tricky. It’s a small fish about six inches long and deep-fried. The bones, tail, and side fin were edible as was the backbone inside. The chef split the fish in half for a nice presentation, but I didn’t enjoy the (too hard- over-fried?) texture though the taste was fine.

Dessert: Nanaimo bars (one for everyone as well as cloudberry tarts (yellow berries). Shortly after, cream cheese pie with partridge berry sauce (red) arrived. Only two tarts and one bar remained at our table for four. I didn’t partake. Coffee and tea were served in lovely china teacups and saucers. Only one cup of either per customer. Oh.

Our tour group filled the small restaurant. One server delivered and picked up after all 34 meals. Afterwards she had to rush off to another job.

This is some of the art on the walls inside the restaurant:

After lunch, we walked—more like struggled—on the boardwalk along the water. The wind blew strong and fierce, too wicked for picture taking.

I was relieved to get on the bus after the wind’s blowing us about. Off to see the World Heritage Site, Gros Morne Park and tablelands.

No wind here. I managed to stash three small rocks into my pocket for souvenirs. We were told not to take any, but I’m not sure if that was a joke. Why not? Was there worry they’d run out?

The drizzle continued, though the sun made attempts to nip in and out of the clouds. Next on our agenda was the new Discovery Centre where we finally saw replicas of a moose and caribou. This was a gorgeous building but a sign next to the bathroom door warned the water wasn’t safe for drinking until it was boiled for a full two minutes. Shoot. I hadn’t thought to bring a kettle.

  • The moose is large like a horse
  • Is part of the deer family
  • Has paddle-shaped antlers
  • Females don’t grow antlers
  • Has long legs

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  • Caribou are much smaller than moose
  • Part of the deer family
  • Antlers grow tall with many branches
  • Female grows and sheds antlers
  • Also called reindeer
  • Have wide hooves
  • Like the cold and high altitudes

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We watched a film on climate change, took pictures of models, and lost Francis. We wandered about killing time until he showed up. A panicked woman from our group approached Mary and me. Her iPad said it was out of storage space and she couldn’t get in. Mary happened to know what to do because she’d the same problem the day before. She managed to get into the video files for the woman to delete some of them to free up space. The look of wonder she gave Mary was priceless.

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Jake Crocker Heritage House

* * *

Next on March 25th – Jiggs Dinner and Anchors Aweigh

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

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


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#BlogBattle Week 53 – Bun

To celebrate, the one-year anniversary of #BlogBattle we will not be writing a new story for the battle. For Week 53, Rachel at http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/  has suggested the following:

  1. Choose one of your #BlogBattle stories from the past year
  2. Edit it however you would like
  3. Reblog/repost it next week on Tuesday, March 15th.
  4. Make sure you specify the genre and the theme word

Voting will be done from the compilation of awesome stories presented!

Genre: Humor

Theme Word: Bun

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Bun?

 

Clunk. Sylvie plonked the groceries on the floor by the front door. Shrugging off her coat in a rush, she headed to the kitchen. Halfway, she made an about face, hung her coat in the closet and grabbed her shopping bags.

Her cell spun on the counter, but she ignored it while it vibrated in circles. Purchases stored, she put on the kettle and dropped into a kitchen chair. The Thompsons and Millers were due at seven; she had time to change her planned dessert. What shall I bake special for tonight?

The kettle clicked off. She sighed and rose to make tea. The aroma of herbed roast beef filled the kitchen. Mr. Crockpot, her ever-faithful helper, hard at work again. She peeked through the glass lid and gave it a loving tap. Okay, five minutes—maybe ten—and I’m off to set the table.

***

Half an hour later Sylvie laid out fresh clothes and headed to the shower. She frowned into the mirror, turned this way and that, smoothed faint lines around her eyes and stroked her temples, caressing hints of gray threaded through mousey brown hair. Time for a color. Forty-one in a month. Imagine… Stop!

As always, the front door clicked open and slammed shut at exactly six o’clock. Sylvie smiled and rushed down the hall to meet her husband while inserting an earring. Arms outstretched, she rushed to embrace him.

“George, darling.”

Eyes aglow with pleasure, he let out a bark of laughter, caught her in his arms, and spun them around a la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

***

At 6:51 p.m., the doorbell chimed. “I’ll bet my favorite shoes that’s my mom and stepdad. Always first. Always early.” Sylvie arranged pots on the stove in readiness for turning on during cocktails.

“Mom and Dad Thompson. Come in, come in.” George kissed his mother-in-law’s powdered cheek and shook hands with her new husband, the lucky owner of dense cloud-white hair. “Welcome to our home, Frank.” Before he dispensed with their coats, the doorbell announced another arrival. “Mom. Dad. Come in.”

Sylvie tossed her apron into a kitchen chair and joined the families, waving them into the Great Room. The still bare fields and garden were spectacular through the wall of unadorned plate glass windows.

“How are the twins doing at university?” her mother asked.

“They’ll be finished in less than two months and have to face the real world,” George said, a faraway look in his eyes. “How about drinks?” He rubbed his hands with zest. “The usual for everyone?” Nods and echoes of agreement ensued. “What will you have Frank?”

“What?” George made a drinking motion. “Whiskey, neat.” He looked about not knowing the routine.

The parents settled into their established seats. The women sank into the sofa facing the garden and the men into La-Z-boys across from them, footrests popped up at once.

General greetings exchanged, George delivered drinks on a tray and raised his glass. “A toast to our health at this happy gathering.” Glasses extended, nodding and hear-hears resonated around the room. The seats too far apart, only the mothers clinked glasses.

“Excuse me, one moment.” George disappeared around the corner. Upon his instant return, Sylvie sprang from her chosen hard-backed chair and exchanged a glance with her husband. He presented a white plate to the room. “Look what came out of the oven.”

“What’s this about done? Gun? What did he say? His new stepfather cupped a hand to his ear and squinted at his wife.

“He said nothing of the sort,” she said, eyes twice their usual size. One hand grazed Mrs. Miller’s lap. They gawked at each other, then at Sylvie.

“I said, look what I found in the oven.” George grinned wide. The tip of his ears crimson tinged, he tipped the plate several degrees.

His father scratched his chin, wiry salt and pepper eyebrows squished to attention over his nose. He studied the faces around him. “So?”

George set the plate on the coffee table and wrapped an arm around his wife’s waist. They grinned like children with a secret. Sylvie leaned her head back against his shoulder. Both mothers gaped at each other, their husbands, then back at the young couple while their spouses sat with mouths flapping.

George’s father shifted in his seat. “Will somebody say something? What in heck’s going on?”

 Blinking, her mother leaned forward, voice soft, hesitant. Cautious. “How do you feel about this, Sylvie?”

“Mom, I’m fine—ecstatic. Aren’t we, George?” He nodded. They rocked side to side, his arms wrapped around her, chin on her shoulder.

“I need another drink.” His father raised an open palm. “No, I’ll fix it myself. Haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.”

“Dad,” George said, his voice subdued. “We’re having a baby.”

His father’s brows shot heavenward. “Why didn’t you say so in plain English?” Empty glass in hand, he hugged his son and placed a resounding smooch on his daughter-in-law’s cheek. “Do the boys know? Bet they’re excited.”

“You’re the first to know.” George said. “I only found out an hour ago.” He suppressed a smile in his wife’s hair.

The grandmothers shook their heads and heaved themselves off the sofa to join the hug-a-thon. “It’s like starting all over again,” said her mother to Grandma Miller. “I wouldn’t want to do it.”

George’s deaf stepfather scrambled out of the chair and raised his glass. “I’ll drink to that. What are we celebrating?”

“We have a bun in the oven,” his wife shouted in his ear over the melee.

“We do? Take it out before it burns.”

The room rang with laughter. He joined in too though he still appeared confused.

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.
Image Credit: Pixabay. No attribution required.


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#BlogBattle Week 52 – Prompt: Hair

To join the challenge, click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Genre: Humor

Part 1

 

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SNAGGED 

Part 2

What makes you think you’ve leaped inside a story? Maggie stepped back, a smirk on her face. The man in shorts stopped pacing. His and Maggie’s gazes met. She snorted and retreated again, hands steepled as if in prayer. Lisa examined her black attire: Straight long dress, shoes and short, spiked hair. Cool hair. Fortish? Is she a witch?

“What the heck is going on here?” Lisa squirmed in her seat, flinging the now empty glass back and forth.

“More water, dear?” Maggie leaned in plucking the empty glass out of her grasp. “Sit tight. I’ll be back.” As if floating on air, she swept out of sight.

Lisa’s mouth dropped, eyes drifting around room. Weird in sort of a neat way. This isn’t real, though. Can’t be. Holding her breath, she bent forward. “So, are you going to answer my question?”

“What’s that?” He stopped pacing and shook his head as if to clear it. Glancing over a shoulder, he caught both customers, bodies slanting forward, ears twitching. Lisa followed his stare. “Aren’t you two expected somewhere?” The tall one weighed the antique book in his hand raising his brows at his partner. She shrugged, returned her book to the shelf, and yanked his sleeve to do the same. Maggie materialized watching the exchange with a full glass of water dripping with condensation. Chins to chest, the pair skedaddled to the exit.

“Have another glass. This water is special.”

“How.” She shot Maggie a look, raised the glass to study the clear liquid. “I’m done being polite. Will someone please answer my question?” Eyes shut tight Lisa stamped her feet where she sat, slopping water to her lap and the carpet, sending a tattered slipper into the air.

Maggie glided to the front door, punched numbers into a keypad, and flipped to the CLOSED sign. “I have a sitting room in the back. We’ll be more comfortable there.”

Lisa gulped the remaining water and set the glass on the floor. “First things first. Is your name Zero?”

Something passed between the two friends. He lifted the back of his wrist drawing circles with a forefinger on the watch face.

“What a bizarre watch, or is that some new technology—Zero?” She concentrated on his reaction like a hawk.

“I’ve had it two ye…” His head whipped up, a flush rising from neck, to face, to ears.

Lisa’s mouth dropped flapping like a baby guppy.

“You’ve had a shock and are still dehydrated. Don’t worry. All will be fine.” Maggie studied Lisa’s wardrobe. Let’s arrange a change of clothing first.”

“Not necessary, because I’m… going home.” She yawned. “I’m so tired.” The woman led her to the back of the store, the man trailing behind them.

“Weird. This is a real bookstore. Are you an antiquarian bookseller? I don’t see any new books.  I’m… I’m talking a mile a minute, aren’t I?”

They reached a curtained doorway. Maggie pushed the man in shorts back into the store.” You stay there. We ladies need privacy.”

* * *

Hours had passed. The cat refused to come out from under the bed. From the balcony, Mya checked the parking lot for her sister’s car. Right car. Right plates. Still there.

Hungry, she peered into the fridge. Nothing but bread and eggs. Typical Lisa. The freezer however, had two store bought pizzas, a couple Ziploc bags of deli soup, a bottle of vodka, and two glasses. She grabbed a pizza, slapped it on the counter and turned on the oven.

Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a blur of movement. Crash. Bang. The books clattered to the floor. She rushed into the sitting room. One book lay open. She didn’t believe her eyes. “Lis-saaaaa. What’s going on here? Where are you-u-u?”

* * *

Dressed in a pale green dress identical to Maggie’s black one, Lisa folded her clothes and exited the bathroom. She dropped the bundle. A hoarse, mournful voice called her name. Lis-saaaaa. What’s going on here? Where are you-u-u? Hands clamped over her ears, she swayed and grit her teeth.

“What is it?” Maggie gathered up the shirt and leggings.

“Didn’t you hear her call me? I keep hearing my sister’s voice. Something’s wrong.” Ear to a shoulder, she waited to the count of ten. No more Mya. “Wait. Lisa grabbed the shirt. “What is this white thing?”

“Hair of some kind. Wrong color for you. Do you have a cat?” She made a roll of the clothes instead of refolding them and abandoned it in a kitchen chair.

“I do. Mozart. He was curled on my lap when I…” Lisa rubbed her forehead. The white strand stuck to her head.

“You’re okay now. Make yourself comfortable. I’ll call Zero.” She pushed Lisa towards the sitting room. Sticking an arm around the curtained doorway, she waved an invitation.

 

Lisa sipped her peppermint tea, lost in thought. ”What is this place?”

“I mentioned Crow Lake, I believe. Don’t you remember?” Elbows on his knees, Zero edged to the front of the sofa chair.

“Ye-es, but how did I get here? It hurts when I pinch myself, which means I’m not dreaming. All I wanted to do was to read, but I showed up here instead. What month and year is it?”

“February 29th, 2020,” he said. Maggie nodded.

“No it’s not. Too warm for February. There’s no evidence of snow. Wait! Did you say 2020? Are you pulling my leg?”

He shook his head. “What year did you think it was?”

“Silly, 2016, of course, February 29th”

“You’ve heard of global warming? We have only one season anymore and are luckier than most. Four years ago, the Zika virus reared it’s ugly head and has now swept across the globe. Between deaths and people cutting their losses and leaving, we’ve lost three-quarters of our population since it began.”

“Weird. Why does this sound familiar?”

To be continued…

 

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

Image from Pixabay: No attribution required.


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Back to Newfoundland

The water on our return, wasn’t as glass smooth as the day before. It simmered and bubbled like a pot of soup left on the stove on medium instead of low. Progress wasn’t as choppy as I expected though. We chose a central location on the ferry, but the engine vibration penetrated through the floor, into my feet and to the top of my head. Not an experience I wanted to endure, we moved to the same area as the previous day and sat at the same streaked windows. The rounded metal frames and nails  / screws fastening it in place were corroded and unappealing, but efficient. The St. Lawrence Seaway, as all bodies of water, is not kind to boats on the water nor houses within spitting distance. Wood doesn’t have the strength or guts to stand up to the water’s abuse, which creeps into metal and stone as well as skin and bones like a live thing reminding you it has been here since the beginning of time and will continue after you are gone.

Back in Newfoundland again, our next stop: Broom Point where three Mudge brothers, their wives, and children fished from 1941 to 1975.

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Shaun, our driver, backed and backed into the Point forever. He had no alternative as there was no place to turn that huge bus around for our return. The road narrowed. As I watched, a deep drop over the edge drifted into view. I grabbed Mary and yanked her over to the window. Shaun made a correction. Gears grated. I held my breath. Mary and I stared at each other our last prayer on our lips. What a way to find out we had an excellent driver!

Barricades blocked vehicular travel from proceeding further. We walked a long way to the Point around puddles and wet gravel road. An ancient outhouse grinned as we passed. The wicked wind off the water, should have toppled it, if not this day, then long ago. I wish I’d taken a picture. I imagined bugs, spiders, and webs. Mary and another woman decided they couldn’t wait. No, I didn’t ask my sister how it was inside.

Seagulls screamed and the wind blew tantrums. Francis raised his voice and described how these traps work. Lobsters get in fine. Once inside, they end up in one of several narrow compartments and can’t figure out how to get out.

He had brought his iPad (the big one) and offered to take a group picture. Not satisfied with one, he took several and offered to email the best one to each of us, no charge.

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All pictured out and tired of the punishing wind, we were again on our way. An Irving gas station stop offered snacks and use of the facilities. Everything from hot pizza, blocks of cheese, candy, knives, tools, hammers, a multitude of snacks, and a cooler full of beer were available among too many products to mention.

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For a fee, we could have purchased tickets for an evening’s entertainment at the hotel bar, but we opted not to go. We decided on a movie and cracked open a bottle of wine. Mary ordered a pizza and salad at the front desk. The taste was a little different from the kind in Ontario but it did the job. We polished off the bottle, I crawled into bed, but Mary continued reading.

Three things I might mention about the room. The beds were lovely. There was no chain on the door, though it had a deadlock. The bathroom sported a tiny facet on a standard sink, the spout almost too short to be useful.

Giggle for today

My wife is such a grand cook. I bet she could fry a fart and make gravy.

* * *

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

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

Next on March 11th – Rosehips and the Good Ship


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#BlogBattle Week 51 – Prompt: Trace

To join the challenge, click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Genre: Humor

book-2869_960_720 Pixabay

SNAGGED

She snapped shut the laptop. It’s now or never.

Decision made, Lisa grinned. Excited fingers combed through short chocolate brown hair. No freelance work on the calendar. Either way she would have cleared it. The day looked more promising by the second. Coffee pot. Check. Popcorn from the previous night. Check. The stillness in the apartment sang to her. Heaven. Armed with refreshments, she padded to the Easy-boy, grabbed a blanket, and cranked up the footrest. The dozen or so novels laced in dust on the side table soon landed in her lap. A white cat with long silky hair jumped onto the foot support. “Mozart. Lonely sleeping alone?” He padded over her ankles and knees. Lisa scooped all the books but one, returning them to the table. The cat settled in her lap, stared into her face and purred. From habit, she caressed his soft head. “I don’t remember this one.” Chin on folded paws, he relaxed, one eye watchful. “Crow Creek, it’s called. Look. Bird silhouettes streaking across a cobalt sky. A remarkable cover. I don’t recall…”

Lisa’s hand snaked toward her coffee mug. Book propped against the cat she slurped the hot liquid and turned to page one. Mozart raised his head, bumped against the offending nuisance. “Settle down.” The mug returned to the table, she moved the book closer soon lost in the story.

The idea had been to pull up stakes long ago. Both still single, Zero and younger sister Nelda couldn’t agree how or when. They had been born in Crow Creek, but the population had dwindled from 100,000 to a quarter of that. The Zika virus had wiped out both parents and half their relatives. How does anyone leave them behind, alone with no one to visit their gravesites?

* * *

The store window looked real. She squinted over her shoulder. Dozens of bicycles and riders whizzed by on the tree-lined street. Birds chirped. The air smelled clear as crystal mountain air. Not one motor vehicle in sight. Nothing but quiet as if someone had muted the sound on a movie set.

She became aware of persistent knocking, pounding on wood. “Lisa. Open up.”

Spinning round, she saw no one, but recognized the voice.  “Lisa. What’s wrong with the cat? Open up.”

Her sister’s persistent voice gave her a headache. I must be dreaming.

“Why is the cat howling? Are you okay? Bang. Bang. “I’m calling the super. The poor cat.”

She heard it too, but far away. A cat bawled and bawled. The ratty slippers were hers as were the red leggings and fleece man’s plaid shirt she’d picked up at the flea market. She had dressed for a cold February day that morning. Now the sun’s heat sent rivulets of perspiration everywhere. A bump against her elbow sent her stumbling. Lisa squeezed her eyes tight. This was real. It hurt. She massaged the tender spot.

“Sorry. You all right?”

He leaned in, grabbed her shoulders, and steadied her. They were eyeball-to-eyeball. Blue-gray eyes searched hers. “Where am I? You can let go now.” She brushed invisible fluff off her shoulders and arms.

“You don’t know? How’d you get here?”

“I asked you first.”

Lips pursed, he let out a low chuckle. “Crow Creek.” Hands shoved into pant pockets he rocked forward and back. He made no secret of sizing her up, cooler then she by far in his T-shirt and tan shorts. “Aren’t you hot in that?” he said pointing with his chin.

“Wha-at? Not possible.” She pulled the front of her shirt away from her skin, shaking it and looked around again. “Doesn’t anybody but you talk around here?”

“Lady, slow down. Which? Crow Creek or your shirt?”

Lips pinched together like a lipstick-eaten hyphen, she glared at his chin, resisting the urge to look into those eyes. You’re enjoying this far too much.

“You have a name?”

“Do you?” She poked an index finger not quite to his chest.

“Manners, manners. You want help. Be nice.” He toed the cement walk. She moved closer to the shop wall into the shade.

* * *

A door slammed into a wall somewhere far away. “Lisa!”

“Me-oow.”

“Mozart. Where’s my sister?” Mya leaned forward. He backed away, yowled and flew down the hall to the bedroom. “Lisa?” She checked the rooms one by one. The bathroom door open proved empty as well. Something caught her attention. The laptop lay closed on the sofa table. Closed. Closed? She scrutinized the living room and the Easy-boy: the forever stack of books, a mug of cold coffee and a book face down on the carpet. Odd. No trace of Lisa, though.

“Everything okay in here?” The super hovered in the doorway, changing feet, a frown chiselled on his face.

“Sure. Lisa must have forgotten we had a date and stepped out. Thanks. I’ll wait.” He had already disappeared before she finished. How’d you get to be super? Unhelpful…

* * *

“Since you won’t play fair. I’ll introduce myself first.”

Lisa rubbed her temples. Her sister’s voice called and called from some distance. The buzzing in her ears sounded like a hornet’s nest. Hot. So hot. “Water. Is there water around here?” Eyes closed, she leaned against the shop wall.

Arm around her shoulder, he helped her inside the store. “Maggie. A tall glass of water please?” He nodded at the couple customers who turned in curiosity. The bookstore owner placed a cool damp glass into her hand where she sat in the armchair on the far side of the counter. “Anything else I can do for you?” The man drifted in and out of her vision behind the Maggie character.

“I wanted to celebrate this leap year with my nose in a book. I don’t often have time. It appears I’ve leaped into the story Instead.” Cool glass to her cheek, Lisa leaned around the woman. “Tell me your name isn’t Zero.”

To be continued…

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

Image from Pixabay: No attribution required.


93 Comments

#BlogBattle Week 50 – Prompt: Pure

To join in the fun, click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Genre: Drama / Humor

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A Little Malarkey

Grandma Mercy had no patience for wimps nor fools. In her book, Sidney fit both categories. “How’d you ever hook up with a fool like him?”

“Now MeeMa. What’s done is done. No point tempting your blood pressure. He’s a good man.” Celeste paced the hundred-year kitchen, stepping on the creaky spots she still remembered. Freckled and ponytailed, she looked closer to eighteen than thirty. ”I’d like tea. You want tea? Where’s the kettle?”

“Sure. Made double chocolate brownies yesterday. The man’s hands are softer than a baby’s brand new skin.” Grandma reached into a cupboard for the treat tin and another for cups and saucers.

“He’s a scholar. A University Prof. What’s wrong with that?” She watched the gas flame catch beneath the beat up kettle. “Where’s the one I bought you for Christmas?”

“The man’s never done an honest day’s work. What? This one still works. New means better, does it? How long you known him?”

“Off and on—about five years. Why don’t you like him?”

“I said no such thing. So he’s a scholar, but a mighty slow thinker. Asked him did he want vanilla ice cream with his cherry pie at lunch. Both homemade, I told him. I thought we lost him in a black hole somewhere till he blinked and dipped his head, which I took for a nod. I guessed right ‘cause he dug in. I wonder how long does it take to pick out a pair of socks every morning.”

“You’re talking about my husband. My husband.” Celeste, arms crossed, watched Grandma Mercy arrange brownies on a chipped plate. The kettle whistled. She snapped the knob to off and carried the boiled water to the kitchen table. “Brownies smell heavenly. Oops. Forgot the sugar for your tea.”

“You’re my favorite granddaughter, ‘course you’re the only one, but I hope you haven’t made a huge mistake. Who’s gonna look after who? Tell me that.” She stirred the tea with vigor, studying the dark liquid.”

“These aren’t the old days, MeeMa. We aren’t farming or homesteading. I guess we’ll look after each other.” Celeste reached for the older woman’s hand. “Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.”

Gray eyes, still clear and sharp, studied her over the rim of the teacup. “I wonder.”

“What do you mean? You’d met him before and never said one word. Why now?”

“Sure twice for about five minutes and what—a year or two ago? I had no idea you were serious about him. Tell me. Who proposed to who?”

Celeste’s jaw dropped. Tea spilled into her lap and onto the placemat. “Ow-ow-ow. Darn. Darn. That’s hot.” She jumped up unzipping her jeans and hobbled to the bathroom.

Grandma removed the wet placemat and dried the table and chair. “You okay?”

No response, except for gushing water. Then silence. A towel wrapped around her waist, Celeste returned to the kitchen. “No damage done. I’ve hung the jeans on the shower rod to dry. What time is it?”

“Knowing Gramps, he and Sidney won’t be back for hours. I hope he doesn’t bore the boy to distraction. Sit. More tea?”

Celeste took a sip. The tea had cooled. Brows raised she drank again. “Now he’s a boy? Please.” She looked away and smiled in spite of herself.

“So, you did the proposing, eh. I knew it.” Grandma slapped the table. Cups and saucers rattled. Teaspoons twitched and slid.  “There’s no order anymore. I don’t understand it.”

“If you must know, we proposed to each other. This is absolute malarkey. What’s it matter?” Tea finished, she huffed, throwing her hands in the air.

“Book smart is one thing—common sense is another. Who’s wearing the pants in this family? Seems to me he’s a bigger wuss than one of them lap dogs.”

The creak and rattle of the old farm truck announced its imminent arrival. Rounding the corner, it swung into the gravelled yard in a cloud of dust, scattering the few free roaming chickens. And skidded to a stop. “I guess Gramps proved me wrong. Bless him for not overwhelming the poor boy with our country ways.”

One door creaked open and slammed. Then the other. The women gaped. Singing? Not one voice, but two, each carrying his own tune like cats in the night after a date gone wrong. Grandma Mercy winced. “Gramps doesn’t drink, nor has he ever carried a tune even in church, not that he’s carrying one now.”

Gripping the table for support, she pitched forward upsetting her chair. Shuffling on twig-thin legs, she aimed for the door. Celeste close on her heels clutched her towel. Grandma Mercy flung open the door, feet apart, arms crossed. “Well, what have we here?”

The men, arms around each other, continued singing, eyes aglow, silly smiles pasted on stupid faces. Grandma stomped a foot. The screeching stopped, a look of pure mischief on their confused faces. “I thought you were out buying a riding lawnmower.”

Sidney and Gramps wove this way and that. If either lost his balance, they’d both end in the dirt. “Hello, Precious.”

“Don’t you precious me. You’re drunk.”

“Old Sam Waters wanted to sell me a broken down mower, but Sidney talked me out of it. He knows machinery. The boy’s smarter than he lets on.” With a free hand, Gramps patted Sidney’s chest.

“You don’t drink. He put you up to this?” Grandma pointed with her chin.

Faces scrunched, the men gawked at each other. Grandpa shrugged, losing his balance. Sydney tumbled over him. Hooting as if they’d lost their minds, they separated, attempted rising to their feet, but fell again.

The door slammed as if a high wind had come up. Grandma and Celeste were gone.

“Guess Sidney’s not such a wuss after all. He’s still a fool.”

The End

 

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

Image from Pixabay: No attribution required.


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Whales, Fishing and Fish Oil, Oh My

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We enjoyed a mug up, or tea break along the way (See Newlandland sayings). There were choices of muffins, tea, or coffee. This is snack time after all. It took a while for service. About half-way through our drinks, it was already time to leave. Mary asked if we might switch to a Styrofoam cup to go. “Of course,” the waitress said.

“I don’t suppose I can get a warm up?” Doesn’t hurt to ask.

“Help yourself when you pick up your cup.” She pointed to the coffee service beside the cash register. The mug up had been free as was the warm up and cup.

Next stop, we visited the Red Bay National Historic Site Visitor Centre and the Interpretation Center to view the collection of artifacts.

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I cannot get my head around it. how had whalers managed to chase, catch, and harpoon a 60,000 whale and not drown in a boat the size of the chalupa (also see below).

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  • Red Basque Bay Whaling Station (Bay named because of red soil)
  • 2 types of whale: bowhead and bull
  • 2,000 French sailors came here for whaling
  • 30,000 tons of whale oil back to their homes
  • 1 barrel of oil = $6,000 – $8,000 each
  • Several whaling stations
  • First will was written in Basque Country by a sailor
  • Selma_Barkham five years in the Basque Country (historian / researcher)

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The real deal a-basque-galleon

Later, the bus stopped for a facilities break at an Express Liquor, which carried everything you might ever need: from skidoos, motor oil, fishing equipment, tourist T-shirts, snacks, and wine. Wow. Francis told us not to be shy. The 7-ll we have in Ontario are nothing like this and don’t even carry spirits.

“If you want to pick up some wine or spirits, here’s your chance.” What a salesman!

Mary and I followed the rest of the passengers like sheep. An opportunity not to pass to loosen the bus-sitting bodies. When we asked Francis the chances of finding another Express the following night around the hotel, he said, “No chance.”

“Guess we’ll plan ahead then.” I felt heat rise in my face. He smiled and I scooted away.

Isn’t this a straight highway?

The restaurant where we stopped for dinner was a disappointment. The crab cakes I ordered were a good size, nicely browned, but mashed potatoes over-powered the taste. I couldn’t taste the cod. Had they run out of fish? A salad lay limp and suffering next to them, joined in the deception with a thimbleful of homemade pickle relish and half a slice of white bread. What? Thank goodness I decided to splurge on a glass of beer before I saw my order. I thought my tummy would scream for more food, but it didn’t—not immediately. Mary and I considered ordering a pizza later.

Around 8:20 pm, the bus finally arrived at Northern Light Inn for a one-night stay. A huge bowl of non-alcoholic punch with floating inch-long slices of orange peel awaited us in the lobby. Francis handed out room keys and menu choices for boxed lunches. We had to fill out and drop them off at Reception before going to our rooms. Someone was coming in for overtime to make up the lunches, ready for pick up in the morning on our way to the bus.

The room offered a different experience again. This time the water pressure surprised us. It was exceptional compared to our previous hotel where the toilet couldn’t gather enough pressure to flush without some cajoling.

The sink / powder area were across the hall from the bathroom. Something we haven’t seen on this tour, although, I have in the past. A note on the bathroom mirror requested unused towels not be dropped in the tub signifying laundry. MADE perfect sense. Why not save towel life, excess soap, bleach, water, and electricity? I like and appreciate conservation. Why not in a hotel / motel environment?

TIME FOR A GIGGLE:

A man bought a sheer nightie for his 80-year-old wife. “Oh my gawd. All that money and they didn’t even iron it.”

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

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

Next on February 26th –  Around and out of Labrador


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#BlogBattle Week 46 – Prompt: Indian

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

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Rules:  

  1. 1000 wordsmax
  2. fictionaltale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG(no more than PG-13Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered aroundthe theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainmentvalue!
  6. State the Genre of your storyat 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 link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include 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 the awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage.

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Attic Window Pixabay

Along Came Polly

Grace rolled up her sleeves. Where to start? The attic had twenty years of dust hugging every surface. The deep footprints she made reminded her of an old horror movie with no idea which one. She knotted a kerchief over short, auburn hair. Even this slight movement stirred a cloud of fine powder. A roaring sneeze shattered the spooky silence. Eyes stinging from the force of the unexpected eruption, she covered her face. No point putting off the inevitable anymore. She’d put the job off for weeks already. Moving day loomed large. So much to do in six short weeks. Grace uncovered her face and sneezed again. “Maybe I should vacuum first.”

The Kirby, too heavy to lug up and down the ladder, she loaded the old canister model into an orange plastic leaf bag, heaved it over her shoulder and mounted the ladder again. Good idea, but was there a plug? The low-watt, naked bulb hanging on a cord wasn’t much help. She scrambled down the rungs again for a better bulb and flashlight.

No matter how careful, she stirred gagging clouds in her path. The bulb, too hot to change, Grace flicked on the flashlight and ground her teeth. More slow work. Feathery cobwebs clung in clumps in the corners, undulating as she passed the light in columns over the wall surface. No plug on the first wall, nor the second. She stamped her foot, realizing too late what she’d done, and choked on particles of stirred up dirt, again. Shoulders slumped she wanted to give up. “Work with me,” she said with clenched teeth to the watching shadows. A distant sound from downstairs caught her attention. Head cocked she froze to listen. The muffled dong of her doorbell called to her. “I’m coming,” she said aloud though no one heard and grinned to herself. A reprieve. Down the ladder, she plunged fast as her throbbing legs carried her.

“I’m coming.” She wrenched open the door. “Polly—what a surprise. Come in. Come in.” Her sister, a fuchsia overnight bag at her feet, smiled wide, and threw open her arms. Grace blinked, chin tucked over her sister’s shoulder. “Your timing couldn’t be better. I finally made it to the attic but haven’t accomplished a thing today.”

“Isn’t that the reason you invited me?”

Grace stood back. Squinting, she studied the face before her. “I did? When?”

“A month or so—I think. I wondered what you’d find after all these years… If my missing diary might be in one of the boxes.”

Grace chuckled. The back of her hand erased the frown lines from her forehead. “I remember. Funny, I finally made it up there the day you decide to come. How long can you stay?”

Polly clutched her purse and luggage. “As long as you like. Phew. You smell like dust and mouse droppings. Tea first.” She dropped the small bag by the closet door and kicked off her sneakers. “Traffic was brutal. Seems the whole world is either going to the beach, cottage, or a driving vacation.” She swooped down the hall to the kitchen as if she lived there. “Supposed to be high eighties by the weekend.”

Grace already had cups out and the kettle on. The kitchen smelled like a bakery. A batch of cranberry bran muffins cooled on the counter from earlier that morning. “Guess we better put a dent into the junk upstairs before the heat hits. Muffin?”

“How’s it up there today?” Polly ran a hand through her mud-brown hair. “Like the cut?” She turned her head this way and that.

“Lovely.” Grace reached over to stroke the springy curls. “Dark and dusty. I found a plug up there for the vacuum. Hope it works.”

* * *

The plug worked fine. The women vacuumed and wiped down every surface with a dampened cloth. Polly wasted no time digging around inside boxes. “Why don’t we take some of the more interesting ones downstairs to poke through at our leisure?”

They worked in silence, the howl of the vacuum between them. Polly whooped over the noise. Grace switched off the power. “What?” Her eyes grew enormous.

Polly approached her sister. In each hand, she clutched two golf ball-size balls, all striped red, white and blue. “Remember these? Indian rubber, right? How many could you juggle? Three—no—four at a time.”

“Four. I must have been about nine? You wanted to sell tickets for a show starring yours truly. Already a wheeler-dealer at six.” A faraway look in her eye, Grace grabbed two balls, tossed one to the floor and snatched it as it sprang past her shoulder.

“Wheeler-dealer me. I wonder could you still do it?”

Grace shrugged. “Tennis balls were better for juggling off a wall, though. These babies kept punching me in the face until I acquired the proper feel for them.”

Polly giggled. “Remember the night Mom thought you’d been in a fight when you showed up with a black eye? She didn’t believe you blinked and slam!”

“It hurt like… Hey we’re done here.” Grace dropped their find into her apron pocket. “Pick a box. I’m curious what we’ll find—maybe even lovesick Polly’s teenage diary. Come on.”

To be continued…

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles