How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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Vancouver Again: Now What?

We’re in the South Tower (the other is North) so not sure where east or west is until the sun moves across and down later. We unpacked, checked email—heaven to have working internet again—and contacted home.

The sun broke through the clouds, sending ribbons of welcome heat. Confined on board ship four days with three landing days only, we strolled the neighborhood for the exercise and fresh air. I’m not used to towering buildings and kept forgetting where we were, although I had thoughts we were in Toronto.

I had forgotten my face cream at home. Why do I always forget something important? My poor parched wrinkles scrunched tight, screaming for nourishment. We passed a couple dollar stores. No suitable cream, but I picked up a couple inch-and-a-half diameter tins of nail polish remover pads. (Perfect for travelling.) Just used one a couple days ago—still good.)

I also pounced on an oversize sunglass case. It was a steal; I had to have it. I hate shopping but I don’t mind impromptu roaming through strange stores at times. Considering I had not purchased anything in Alaska except gifts for the family, fridge magnets, and some postcards, this is big spending for me.

While we waited at a red light to cross the street, Mary asked a young girl who had a ring in one nostril—a hippie-type, not a goth—about restaurants close by. She recommended Vera’s, a burger place. “Just up the block. . . better than MacDonald’s,” she said.

A guy next to her asked, “You want MacDonald’s?”

“Heck, no but thank you.”

We ordered at the cash register. The burgers were thick and juicy. The French fry servings were about the size of a handful, the young woman told us. Good thing Mary and I decided to share an order because they were more than we could eat after the filling hamburger. Had they been extra nice since we were visitors from Ontario and no one else was in the restaurant? They had no coffee, only milk, pop, and water. Before hitting the sidewalk, we inquired about a wine/liquor store. The young woman smiled so wide, I worried about her face. “Next door,” she said, pointing.

The store carried VQA bottles, beyond our price range. The first bottle I spotted was only $89.00. Yikes. We did find a couple shelves of reasonable prices. The two guys who unpacked and shelved other bottles stuck up a conversation. When asked if they had down-to-earth labels. I heard them roll their eyes as we hot-footed it out of there. We hit a Shoppers Drug Mart and a grocery store. All I wanted was a sample size jar of something practical for the short term and settled on Ponds Cold Cream.

I have made a short list of items (during this trip) I plan to keep in my suitcase forever: a pair of earrings, face cream, a shawl, nail polish remover tin and a corkscrew. I already have one I borrowed in China.

Following my $1.79 devil-may-care expenditure, Mary asked a passerby with white tape on his nose where the liquor store might be. You won’t believe this.

“Around the corner ahead,” he said. He appeared embarrassed about the tape and explained he lived each day to the fullest because of his upcoming surgery but did not explain what that entailed.

~* ~

Next on June 13th: Vancouver Again. What’s Next?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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North to Alaska: Ketchikan Beckons

Dismal fog and rain greeted the new morning, the cruise ship a little tippy and drunk. We had an early breakfast, eager to set foot on dry land again. In the distance, Ketchikan beckoned in what we hoped was fading mist.

We were too early for the 10:00 a.m. disembarking. A small group paced a narrow hallway, faces placid but feet itchy to move on. Soon the line became a throng, hallway, and stairway congested with humanity taking off layers as crowding and body heat rose. It worked like traffic at a standstill where cars in the exit ramp manage to squeeze in front of drivers who are already frazzled from waiting but can’t help edging forward, all but honking horns for something to do.

As 10:00 drew near, Mary realized she’d forgotten her wallet, fought her way down the packed stairs and raced to our room. I should be used to last-minute shenanigans but they still unnerve me. She made it back before the doors opened and we made our way outside at last to a fine, discouraging drizzle.

Ketchikan means creek of thundering wings of an eagle where Tlingit people fished and named the creek by that name.

Watchful for the tour guide we’d come upon in Juneau, she had been neither in the waiting area on the ship nor coming ashore. Passengers gathered in groups around placard-bearing advertisers promoting excursions. The trickle of travellers thinned to zero. No use wasting more time, we took several photos and moved on.

A prominent sculpture greeted all visitors in ship’s port, titled The Rock. Click to read about it and meet the seven life-size figures represented.

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Mary had Alaska canned salmon uppermost in her mind. We tried the first store advertising canned salmon—and there were many. She decided $7.99 USD was too expensive for a measly can. She asked for directions to a processing cannery. The sales girl withheld sharing a specific route, pointed in the general direction of the front window (or maybe a wall), and said it was a long walk up the hill. Good news to Mary who wanted to investigate. Without clear having done any previous research, she blindly headed off with me in tow.

A white bus passed with a sign advertising free shuttle. At a bus stop, we talked to a young English speaking Asian couple, who were guests on another ship. “The free shuttle goes quite a way out of town—all the way to Walmart,” the young man said.

We didn’t want to go to Walmart and Mary decided she wanted to take a city bus. Like the Aries she is, she was willing to jump on the bus and expect the driver to tell her where to find a cannery. Miserable about the situation, I finally convinced her this approach was not worth our time. We should have taken the shuttle for the free tour of the city and beyond. If nothing of interest prompted further investigation, we could return and carry on. What a missed opportunity.

Quick Facts:

To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.

John Muir

~ * ~

Next on June 8th – North to Alaska: Dolly Who? Dolly What?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


Hong Kong View-a-Thon, Part 3

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We’d seen all we could at Tin Hau Temple. Sue and I headed to the bus parked in front of a Seven-Eleven Variety Store. We decided, as did the rest of our group, to buy water. A cashier managed to keep up with the brisk business, while another worker (or owner) kept an eye on the crowd. The store appeared to stock anything you can imagine: groceries, wine, water, and clothes.

Soon, almost everyone took his or her seat but someone was still missing. Hurry up and wait. We did wait. And wait. And wait. No explanations were given, at least not to the English Group 8. Finally, the French crowd cheered and the last couple hopped on, to loud and boisterous guffaws. The story: the husband, goofing around—whether on purpose or by accident—sent his wife into the water and of course, she was soaked through. The bus couldn’t turn back to the hotel just for her. Would you believe she bought pants and a top at the Seven-Eleven? I have no idea where she changed.

Next stop: Stanley Market. I managed to go through the paces once we were dropped off into scorching temperatures and no trees. Jewelry kiosks were plentiful, but the earrings I found weren’t to my liking. Why did dollar stores in Canada carry such fabulous Made in China earrings, but after I’d traveled all this way found nothing to compare? I did buy one pair for a souvenir, but they cost too much—five times more than in Canada—and the chandelier type already out of fashion at home.

Stanley Market

© Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. All Rights Reserved.

Some tourists avoided shopping by visiting the Stanley Waterfront. I wish I had known about it as I expect it might have been cooler by the water. I’m not overly fond of shopping and anyway, the same products and trinkets came up time and again, especially T-shirts and shawls (Pashminas).

We trudged up an incline, squeezing into the shade of anything available until the tour guide appeared to take us to the bus.

Quick Facts:

  • Japanese occupied Hong Kong in the 1940s
  • A city with lots of convenient washrooms
  • Cross-Harbour Tunnel opened in 1972
  • Cranes and constructions everywhere
  • 12 days a year paid holidays
  • Financial district in a central area
  • Education free from age 6 to 18
  • Lots of private schools for ages 6 to 15, but expensive
  • Great public facilities for young people: swimming
  • Cinemas available but people prefer big TV screens at home
  • One child per couple not applicable in Hong Kong
  • Writing is the same in Cantonese and Chinese but sound different
  • Taoism not a religion but a way of life
  • Population 7.2 million
  • Total land area 1100 square km. (426 square miles)
  • Lots of tunnels
  • Hong Kong means Fragrant Harbour
  • It is the Pearl of the Orient
  • Visas available for visitors who come just to shop
  • No tax in Hong Kong

Only a small group signed up for a boat ride to Aberdeen, an old-fashioned fishing village, which still exists in the midst of modern high rises. Tired, thoughts of home hovered in the back of my mind and I looked forward to going home. I didn’t join in the boat ride but caught up with a group who walked around the town. At one point the ladies needed the Happy House and begged relief at a fancy hotel along our way. Later, we passed a grocery store where I bought a bottle of (Dynasty or maybe Great Wall) wine for 49 Hong Kong dollars (around $8.00 Cdn.).

~ * ~

Next on January 19th – Hong Kong, What a Throng: Part 4

© 2018 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 but hope to visit here before the end of the month. Many, many thanks for your supportive reading, re-blogging, and tweeting. Your continued follows are immensely appreciated.  XX

 


Holy Cow! So, this is Macau.

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I tried multi-tasking: take pictures, scribble notes, and look around in an effort not to miss anything we passed. While taking pictures, I feared dropping my pen and losing it. Pens are not left in hotel rooms for guests as they are in North America and my gel pens were running low on ink.

We arrived at the hotel and were dropped off as close to the south door without scraping the building. The check-in area was jam-packed with humans of every stripe. Instructed to stand off to the side, our new local guide, Cheryl, and the French guide, attended to our registration and room cards. I was amazed at the speed and efficiency of the process. Our luggage, already in our room 1362, Tower 2, we freshened up, free to explore for the rest of the day. Unlike the Sheraton hotel the previous night and several others earlier, this one did not feature the glass wall between the bedroom and bathroom.

This was our view. Ugly. Cranes everywhere. While passing a site on the way to our hotel, I counted at least 10 Macau China State Construction cranes. Must be more hotels coming. The expanse of reclaimed land is mindboggling.

  • Sheraton Macau 3, 800+ rooms (the largest Sheraton in the world)
  • Has two towers: called Earth and Sky
  • Built on reclaimed land
  • Like a huge city inside
  • Huge reception area with a half-dozen counters at Check-in, each one roped off
  • Palm tree setting in sitting area off the check-in area
  • No passports necessary: this is visa-free territory
  • Huge casino across from check-in (behind a wall but evident: Tingtingtingtingting)
  • Huge Ralph Lauren Store, the first one off the lobby
  • Huge shopping mall off the lobby
  • Can convert money with local guide or at hotel (to Hong Kong money)
  • Steering wheel is on the right
  • Driving is on the left side of the road
  • Bus drivers have no problem making U-turns at will

Sue and I set off. The first escalator we came upon confused me. There were two side-by-side. Odd, I thought. Both were headed downward. The ascending ones must be on the other side. Sue laughed when I mentioned this. “Have another look,” she said. I had to concentrate. Not only do cars drive on the opposite side of the road here, and drivers sit on the ‘wrong’ side, the elevators run opposite as well. The up elevator was on the left where at home it would be the down elevator.

This is the first time we had to find our own dinner. We explored the Food Court on the third floor of the hotel.  Since we’d come across a couple KFC, MacDonald’s, and Starbucks in our China travel, we’d hoped to eat something North American (think burger or pizza). No such luck.

We decided to explore the Venetian Macau Hotel across the street. Taking an elevator in a different direction we crossed the street in an overhead, glassed-in bridge or walkway with a lookout.

 The street below the overhead bridge on the way to the Venetian.

The Venitian is massive. Brand name stores everywhere. Six hundred of them. Lots of people but few customers buying diamonds, exotic perfumes, or outrageous shoes. We were lost,then found a map, but it didn’t help. A sales clerk selling make-up, although she spoke good English, couldn’t help us. Upon sighting a gondola in a canal, it was tempting to whistle the gondolier over but we didn’t. Finally, we stumbled into the food court. All Chinese food. Wait. A place called Fat Burger. Better not after the raw pork incident. Is that a Pizza Pizza? Nope the logo wasn’t right but we settled for their pizza anyway.

The Sheraton is the largest hotel not only in Macau, but in the world, and the Venetian has the largest casino.

Breaking News: (sorry for the commercial)

Macau Slowdown

~ * ~

Next on December 22nd: On to Hong Kong and Wow!

© 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 supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.

 


Flight to Guangzhou

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Luggage had to be outside our rooms at 10:00 p.m. the night before. The wake-up call jangled at 5:15 a.m. and we rushed to breakfast soon after 5: 30.

Breakfast

  • Fried eggs (had to wait for hot steamer refill: were rubbery)
  • Coffee, watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas
  • Buns, strawberry jam
  • Sausage (no knives for sausage or jam)

Breakfast is normally at 6:30 a.m. Who can eat even earlier in the morning? Still, I managed to stuff myself. The offerings weren’t bad (though of limited variety) considering the English eight and the French group (about 30 people) were the only early risers. We were to leave for the airport by 6:20 for an 8:00 a.m. flight. I guess the next breakfast crowd will have our leftovers.

I noticed how the landscape on our (English Eight only) bus trip to the airport changed: less mountainous or maybe just smaller mountains. The French Group was nowhere to be seen.

Lily, our guide, has an apartment in Guilin where she lives with her husband and nine-year-old daughter. They must be doing well enough because she mentioned she bought an apartment in town for her parents. Her husband works at the airport, she didn’t specify his job but confirmed he is not a pilot when someone asked.

Quick Facts

  • Nissan: most popular Japanese car in Guilin (light and good on gas)
  • Costs less than $20,000 USD
  • Insurance per year: $800.00 (imagine that, considering the number of daily accidents

The flight was uneventful this time. Upon our arrival at Guangzhou, a new tour guide awaited by the name of Helen. We guessed her age as fifty-something.  She later introduced our bus driver as Mr. Li, who he appeared to be in his mid-thirties or so. Mr. Li? After landing, the ladies needed the Happy House, but the first two washrooms were full. We continued towards baggage claim and found one which wasn’t busy.

Guangzhou Quick Facts

  • Population: 20 million
  • Area: 11,000 square kilometers
  • Third biggest city in China next to Shanghai and Beijing
  • They have no winter
  • Only three seasons
  • Spring all year round
  • Also known as flower city/spring city
© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles  (Stairway to Five Goats Sculpture)

  • Agricultural city and market: fresh fruits, vegetables, chickens etc.
  • Restaurants crowded with local people, who prefer eating out to cooking
  • Many restaurants
  • Tea enjoyed three times a day
  • Eat two meals a day
  • 100-year old lunch restaurant is the best restaurant
  • Lots of steps because the building here are old
  • Busy shopping area
  • Has the best wood for coffins
  • Long ago locals had a poor life / lived and slept on the river in boats
  • the main occupation is shipping
  • Pearl River is the fifth-longest

Another full-sized bus for us. Of course, I agree, we must be special. Off we drove to Goat Park

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The story goes: five goats from heaven brought five types of grain, presented it to the locals, and taught them how to grow them. Grateful, the people built the Five Goats Temple. Read more about it here.

~ * ~

Next on November 10th: Guangzhou

© 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.


Shanghai, Part 5 – Nanjing Road

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Tummies full, when we left the restaurant around 12:45., the weather had become humid.

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/shanghai/west-nanjing-road.htm (what’s on offer)

The shopping area is pedestrian-friendly with an occasional trolley/mini tour bus. Prominent other than McDonalds and Haagen-Daaz, were expensive elite, famous brand-name stores. I wondered how the young couples afforded their purchases. Rich daddies, I suppose.

The English Group 8 turned down (yet another) museum tour which added more (boring) shopping time. This time Sue and I struck out together. Four hours to kill. My poor aching feet.

We decided to explore beyond the main street. On a shabby side street a couple of blocks from Nanjing Road, I bought a bottle of Dynasty wine in a grocery/variety store ($10.00 CAD / $8.00 USD). I had to borrow money from Sue again as I had scraped all the cash from my wallet for the silk-filled comforter and pillow before lunch. A corkscrew would be helpful, but the store had not nor any facsimile. I decided to worry about that later.

If we needed the Happy House while shopping, Jackie had advised, any large hotel would accommodate us. Timing is everything, isn’t it? We chose the Sofitel Hotel where we had to walk past a security guard. Nervous, but avoiding eye-contact, these fine western ladies strutted in as if we belonged and ended up on the garage level.How did we get lost? Ph-ew the gas fumes.

Sue headed to a glass elevator. A lanky Caucasian man, fisting his briefcase handle, joined us inside. He noticed our confusion and described the location of the closest ladies’ washroom. He had come from Michigan on business eight years before and considered himself a local now, his return to the U.S. doubtful.

Shopping Nanjing Road  (pictures galore)

Out on the street again, Sue spied a Haagen-Daaz restaurant. We were ready for a good sit out of the heat and a cold ice-cream. We had two doors from which to choose: one with a lineup and the other with none. A waitress stopped me at the door. Her voice raised, she said, “Wrong way!” The lineup at the opposite end of the restaurant was where we must enter. Oh?  Why had the other door been open? Back to the sidewalk and the other door we trotted to join hordes of others. It didn’t take long, though, before we were seated.

We waited—and waited some more. Three young girls who’d arrived after we had were already given menus. Not us, the only older Caucasians. We waited. With the earlier rush over, I chalked this up to bad service. Was this abuse because we dared walk through the wrong door? A girl finally came bearing glasses of water with lemon wedges and menus. We didn’t touch the water.

Good thing we weren’t in a hurry. A waitress toddled over and took our order. Finally. One scoop of ice cream (chocolate with pralines) cost 33 Yuan each ($5.50 USD). We waited and waited for our order to arrive, but I didn’t mind. It was a relief to take a load off and sit in the air-conditioned restaurant.

Our bill took forever to come, too. I wondered why not go up to the cash with our dish to show what we’d ordered and pay. At home, we’d have done this no problem, but Sue, usually outspoken about most things, wasn’t comfortable doing so. In the end, we did anyway, but the cashier appeared frazzled. His rhythm had been broken and he made us wait. Again. I now owed Sue 83 Yuan, (not quite $14.00 US). That’s what I get for leaving money in the hotel safe.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Two things I noticed while window-shopping. We had been discouraged from interacting with beggars, who were uncommon. Where were they hidden? I noticed only two: one a disfigured man shortly after the bus dropped us off; the second, a miserable old man who shook a rusty tin can in our faces wanting a donation while we sat in a park. He rattled the meager contents, but we ignored him. He scowled and moved on, sneering over his shoulder. I hoped he hadn’t put a curse on us.

Except for a handful of citizens over the age of 40 or 50, most everyone on the street appeared to be under 25 or 30.
~ * ~

Next on June 30th – Shanghai, Part 6: Dinner and a Show

© 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. Hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading and for your kind and continued support.

					
		
	


46 Comments

#BlogBattle 7 – Prompt: Shine

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

Genre:  Folklore

Prompt:  Shine

Words: 700

See No Evil

COUNTRY LIVING HELD NO INTEREST FOR ZELDA, but she changed her mind after meeting Harvey. A red-haired free spirit, she jumped at the chance to attend a party with the well-to-do stranger. Well, they had crashed grocery carts and he apologized by buying her a coffee. Now, the idea was nothing but hard work.

No rain for months, dust stole inside though Zelda had wound the windows tight. Lost was not a place she liked. The gasoline level in the Dodge Dart hovered around a quarter tank. Where was that fancy house Harvey said to meet him at the party?

A thermos empty of water lay on the passenger’s side of the car’s bench seat. Her small purse leaned against it. A white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel numbed her hands but she paid no attention. Where were the farmers or cows?  The only living creatures soared overhead. What were they? Buzzards? No, not large enough. Crows? Why so many and nothing else around?

Zelda passed a dilapidated shack. Hope flared. She slowed. Nobody. Nothing moved in the crushing heat. Parched and sweating, she swallowed to work up saliva without success. The crows swarmed lower, beady eyes scanning the interior of the car as if on a mission.

black-crows-1247827__340-pixabay

An enormous lump in her throat brought tears to her eyes. She unpeeled her grasp on the steering wheel and pounded it with the heel of her palm. Had she taken the wrong country road? What if she ran out of gas? A mere three or four hours of daylight remained. What if the crows surrounded her car? Creepy.

Like a shimmering mirage, women in long summer gowns dotted an expanse of velvet green lawn straight ahead. Men in black ties and fancy suits bent an ear to them, swirling filled glasses. A smile as broad as Saturday night replaced Zelda’s earlier sagged cheeks. A Victorian-themed party.

Zelda beeped the horn and turned into the long drive. No one took notice. Puzzled she beeped again, catching a glimpse of her glistening forehead and frizzy hair. She drove to the back of the mansion. Where were the cars? Too hot to think, she snatched the white purse and headed to the trunk for her luggage. “Whoa.”

A David Niven character studied her movements as if memorizing each one. Hands deep in his pockets, his eyes were sharp as a bird’s.

“Harvey. That you? Thought I’d taken a wrong turn. What is this place? Where are the other houses?”

Knees limp as cooked noodles, she remembered his slow smile from the one other time they had met. He snatched her bag. “Come. It’s cooler inside. Freshen up and we’ll dance your cares away.”

And how they danced, he the perfect partner, self-assured and charming. She did not remember how the night ended.

~ ~ ~

black-cat-1751828_960_720-pixabay-copy

By morning, the air had cooled. Zelda’s body ached in all the wrong places. The urge to stretch overcame her before she opened her eyes. She screamed but what came out was the yowl of an angry cat. She noted with horror how she itched from the scratchy grass where she had slept. Outside? In the grass? A compulsion to groom gripped her. She choked on her own black fur. Fur? But it does shine. I’ve gone mad, haven’t I? Where is the mansion?

The rattles and clicks of a hundred crows swooping and calling to each other broke the silence. To the uninitiated ear, it sounded like raucous laughter over a private joke. One called to another and they plunged like bullets for the skulking black cat in the overgrown field.

“Zelda. Come back. Has no one told you the love of money is the root of all evil?”

 

A mansion had existed one hundred years before. One sad night a meeting of magicians had pushed their luck too far. Someone changed a famous woman named Lady Noir to a black cat and no one knew how to change her back. The magicians dispersed. When asked, they had no knowledge of the lady’s whereabouts.

Every summer afterward, a handsome man invited an attractive woman to a party where the mansion once stood and she too disappeared.

End

© 2017 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles

Images courtesy of Pixabay

 


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#BlogBattle – Week 62

Prompt:  Photograph

Genre:  Drama

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

eatPizza-377761__180

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.


71 Comments

Rosehips and the Good Ship

Forecast: 12°  Celsius and more rain. Actual: brief drizzle, mean, rough winds.

First stop: Photographer’s Lookout at Norris Point for a fifteen-minute photo opportunity. Across the water, we had a view of the World Heritage Site, Gros Morne Park and tablelands.

Devil’s roses or rosehips brought over from Devon by English fishermen. They grow everywhere and in abundance. In full bloom, their aroma is amazing. I first learned of ‘hips and haws’ at blogger, Julias Place.

From Bonne Bay, we took a two-hour boat ride. A crew member helped us on board. When my turn came, the sailor said, “We’ll need to confiscate your bag, ma’am.”

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I almost choked. My knees folded. Wasn’t I an innocent tourist in parts far from home? Darn if he wasn’t pulling my leg. He laughed and laughed even as he helped the person on after me. Humor in Newfoundland is visual. That’s their philosophy of life. They like to have fun or they’ll go nuts.

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With the aid of a bullhorn, another crew member explained about the rock formations we passed (the photos above). The angry wind thrashed and ate his words. Soon we put up our hoods and abandoned the supplied binoculars we used to better view the striations in the rock. One by one, we weather-beaten tourists disappeared into the bowels of the boat.

Inside, it was one basic room with rows of folding chairs surrounded by windows to watch the shoreline. A while after we were inside, rain trickled down the windows off and on. At the bar, hot chocolate and rum were on offer for $7.00 CAD. Cost be darned. I bet every person lined up. Some even a second time. They should have called that hot drink ‘heaven’ or ‘divine.’ I’ve forgotten the real name.

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While we warmed up, information about the surrounding water and tiny village continued. The captain came down to perform the Screeching in Ceremony. We swore allegiance to Newfoundland and acquired an Order of Screechers certificate. Only one person was required to kiss the cod for all of us.

“Good. Now that you are citizens, you have to pay taxes to Newfoundland.”

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Wait a minute. The guy playing the squeeze box was the captain. There were only three crew members. Who’s driving the boat?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X36gX0njZPQ

Getting Screeched.  Credit GypsyNester

* * *

Next on March 18th – Discovery Center and Lunch

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

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


106 Comments

Popping in and Out (Post #450)

Hello, lovely blogging friends!

I’ve been held up doing the rounds since I started poking around a bit yesterday. Thank you for the lovely e-mails over the summer although I avoided my keyboard most of the time. I wasn’t home much and at times my laptop was broken under attack of one kind or another.

I confess the summer vanished much too quickly. Whoosh! You cannot believe the trying circumstances situations I found myself in time and again. Nothing like a little excitement to keep the old ticker going, or more likely, almost squash it like a plum.

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The top three headliners of my summer were:

  1. I got hacked (cost over $200 to clean laptop but no banking information lost and new cards now)
  2. The same tooth abscessed twice. After antibiotics, a week later, again. Had it pulled. Lots of problems afterwards. Ouches.
  3. Windows10 messed up laptop. Best Buy removed and now Windows 8.1 again. Desktop was okay, but Windows 10 messed that up yesterday.

I won’t bore you with the rest of it.

Some pluses were spending a couple days with one sister and a couple more in cottage country with all four sisters.

Now, I n.e.e.d. a vacation. My fourth sister to retire did so in April and when I heard her ‘thinking’ how to celebrate, I was in. Snap! Yeah like that and asked point blank where she wanted to go and I was coming.

We are going to Newfoundland and Labrador soon. Exchange rates for the Canadian dollar are heart-stopping and I’m glad Mary found something domestic. Sigh. A vacation is a vacation—no, she’s not paying… Maybe I should have negotiated that small detail.  *giggles* This sounds an amazing corner of Canada with mind-boggling views.

There you have it. I’ll be flitting in and out for the next week and a half and then take to the sky and away for a couple weeks.

I appreciate all of your welcomes and smiles. Feels like I’ve been away from home, but now I’m back.

When I come back, my worth ethic will change. Instead of clearing the decks (e-mail, blogging, commenting) first thing every day, I won’t get to any of that till much later in the day. I may not be a constant as before, but I plan to visit every chance I get.

What’s with WordPress making unwanted changes again? I don’t like Reader and I’ve noticed now one follows in Reader. Sheesh. Another thing: why makes the menu bar spastic and how does one stop it?