How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


#BlogBattle – Week 26

Check out the originator of this challenge at

The rules are easy:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story,put a 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!

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This week’s prompt:  Head

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

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Grandpa Jones

The house looked more tired than a couple years earlier when I’d last driven past. I braked, tumbled out of the car and gawked. My feet plodded across the gravel country road as if drawn by a magnet.

Angry shouts rang out. Hands hammered bare wood. The racket rose from the old house across the road. I broke into a run. Old Grandpa Jones still occupied the hovel, a well-shared joke in the county, though no-one had seen Grandma in years.

It turned out Grandpa wanted out and pushed on the front door knob but it wouldn’t budge. He cussed and kicked without success. For one thing the door opened inward and he pushed out. It was also warped more than ever since the recent rain; the only door in or out of the house.

“Let me outta here. Let me out.” A gummy voice bawled inside. Open palms slapped the door.

“Calm down, old man. Step away from the door.” I expected it to crumble from the blows on the other side, but it held fast. “Stand clear. I’ll put a shoulder to it.”

The quiet on the other side yawned loud.

The warped door groaned but didn’t shift a sliver in its frame, yet I felt rather than heard disintegration within where my shoulder encountered the wood and pitched me forward. Ow. that hurt. I folded over my knees to catch my breath and regroup. Overhead, the door shattered as a chair seat bulged through a hole inches from my face. The chair yanked out, rheumy eyes stared at me through the splintered gap.

No-one knew Grandpa’s age, but for a reedy fellow with a bedraggled beard, greasy white hair and no teeth, he appeared strong and tenacious.

“I guess you didn’t need my help after all.” I had to talk though I’m a man of few words.

“I can’t get out through this here hole. Get my axe in the woodshed.” He pointed a thickened, yellow nail to the left. “Move along young man. That-a-way.”

I took one last look at what one might call his abode with kindness. I wondered what held the wood fibers together and conjured up spider spit and dirt. The weary shack had no business standing at all.

I spun round and gave the house another gander. The structure had sunk lop-sided and cockeyed. No-one had seen it happen, but I heard talk the recent hard rains were responsible for the slippage of a lot of the old properties. It’s a wonder the wind hadn’t shoved once too hard leaving a confusion of dried kindling strewn about, yet it had hung on like a drunk weaving in the elements, loose and somewhat upright.

“Stop gaping, young man. Action gets the job done. Move it.” My face burned. The old man’s impatience took me back to childhood days when everything I did was open to criticism. I forced myself forward and rushed back with an ancient, rusted axe.

“Stand back,” I said.

Grandpa Jones had other plans. “Give it to me, handle first. It’s my house and I’ll wreck it any way I must.”

I learned something that day. You can’t judge any exterior by appearance or your pea brain idea of it, man or structure. I also experienced the shock of my life.

Grandpa Jones axed the door. His vigorous thrusts shook the house to quivering. Each lunge of the axe sent the house lower, the mud still fresh from the latest rain. He’d demanded I leave with no thank you, but I sat in my car instead and watched. Why, I will never know. I laughed and laughed—thought I’d lost my head. And then, it happened.

Noise to my ears rather than pleasure, birds and crickets sounded louder and busier. I hadn’t noticed them earlier. Though mid- morning, the temperature had shot upwards. I whipped out my trusted hanky to dry my forehead and had already removed my suit jacket. The crack of the axe continued. Ticked by the old man’s ingratitude, I started the engine. I glanced back one last time. A groan and rumble stopped me. The outdated shelter collapsed, tumbling into itself. My heart plunged. Stupid old man.

I rushed towards the house.

Please don’t let the old man die.

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


Truth or Dare?

Your baby is sick. Without hint or warning, his or her temperature soars from normal to 103 degrees. Remember the panic, the sense of helplessness?

By the time your child is in grade school, he or she is able to describe what doesn’t feel right. You listen and a solution is thrashed out.

Kids are like sponges. They listen to everything around them and soon learn about symptoms: stuffiness, sore throat, tummy ache. Maybe they heard you tell your spouse how you pulled a fast one at work: you weren’t sick, but certainly not 100 percent either and left early. Little ears hear everything. Their antennae is in high gear even when you think they’re asleep. Some parents believe their children would never pull a fast one.

morgueFile free photos

morgueFile free photos

Here’s a story. The names have been skipped to protect the blameless or not-so-innocent.

Mom is sick all weekend. She spends two days in bed but on Monday morning makes an effort to go to work. One of her kids cries half an hour before school. She doesn’t feel well.

“No, I think you should go to school. You’ve no temperature.” Mom’s voice is stern.

Half an hour after Mom arrives at work and her child arrives at school, the dreaded phone call comes.

“Your child doesn’t feel well. Please arrange to pick her up.”

Enter grandparent. The child is made comfortable, allowed to watch TV but not allowed her iPad. Grandma is busy making pots of soup. The house smells marvelous.

“Is the soup ready yet? Can I have some?”

“Sure. Coming right up.”

The ill child snacks all afternoon, second helpings, lots of crackers and no upset stomach. Hmm…

The next morning, the child says she’s still not well but this isn’t an issue. Minus 40-degree temperatures, with wind chill factored in, have put the kybosh on school attendance. She eats better than usual and looks the picture of health.


How do you handle the slippery slope of separating truth from dare? Do you err on the side of caution? How much? How much would you as a grandparent butt in?

The problem is a kid can become hot / raise his or her temperature when agitated because she believes in what she’s selling. She made up her mind she wants to stay home.


Memories, Lapses and New Dreams

I blinked and the year whizzed by before I had time to catch my breath. Do you feel the same? I marvel how the years slip by faster as I stack them higher and higher. Notice I refuse to utter stinky words like getting older or age.

Rather than whine and complain, I’ve learned to appreciate how good life has been to me. This past year has been one of my best. I’m out of Kleenex, therefore I can’t afford to get sappy. Anyway, depends what border you’re on, no use causing mascara drip down your nicely bronzed and powdered cheeks while you doll up for New Year’s Eve festivities.

I never imagined how enjoyable the blogosphere would become nor the wonderful, warm and like-minded individuals I’d meet. Thank you for visiting and sticking with me.

The beginning of this year I received umpteen awards but fell behind in accepting and performing the duties attached. After about nine months, little by little I dusted them off and stashed them in my Razzle Dazzle vault. Now I shy away from nominations as it’s unfair not to share with deserving bloggers because I cannot choose a few out of the many. Still, this year I managed to stash a few quiet awards with the blessing of the nominees.

Some days I’m disorganized and fall behind. Blogging is a full time job! Thank goodness I’m retired, otherwise I’d have to quit working or quit blogging. Did I mention I cut into my reading time to keep up with you all? *Grins*

morgueFile free photos

morgueFile free photos

Three people I must thank who have been especially kind, thoughtful and helpful. I have followed each of them since I began blogging a little over two years ago.

Red Dwyer, is the Promoter, Publicist, and Publisher of Redmund Productions and the blogger at I can’t think of anything she hasn’t attempted and done exceptionally well. This woman can rock a baby, drive a truck and write a book all at the same time. Kidding, but she multi-tasks like no-one you know.

Valentine of is a blogger and a free-lance writer. She’s terrific at looking at the world and getting you to pay attention. There is always brisk and noteworthy conversation at her blog. If you haven’t already, stop for a visit.

I close with the latest surprise from another fellow blogger, Andrew Petcher, a travel blogger at Have BagWill Travel. He decided to make a top ten list of his favourite blogs for 2013, and guess who make the list? I’m still blushing. Thank you, Andrew. Check it out as well at his blog:

Given the chance I might go on forever but I’ll stop nattering now. Happy New Year! May 2014 be healthy and prosperous for all. Let’s have as much, if not more, next year.


We are What We Eat!

Really? In that case I’m afraid. I don’t plan to talk about steroids or food fads. I want to talk about staying alive.

Aren’t we told to read ingredient labels of food we buy? Isn’t it true the words you cannot pronounce on these labels are really preservatives?  Remember the caution to cut back on processed food because it is loaded with salt?

Have I a story about a home experiment. About three or so months ago, I made from-scratch hamburgers for my grandkids but not home-baked buns. Who thinks about making their own buns? No biggie, right? All’s normal. Everybody buys buns.

The kids and their Mom enjoyed the meal and I was pleased to see everyone happy. The next day, I had another burger for lunch and another the day after. Two buns remained on my kitchen island in the plastic bag they’d come in. Another day went by and it occurred to me the buns should be thrown out because surely they were hard and moldy by now. Wrong. I poked my finger at a bun but it sprang back as if fresh. I scratched my head. A week had evolved but not these buns.

I decided to keep an eye on the bag. Another week crawled by. Still, the buns hadn’t cracked nor lost their elasticity. Remember your school-day science experiments with moldy bread? No mold had taken up residence in the moist plastic environment in my kitchen.

morgueFile free photo

morgueFile free photo

  • Ingredients: enriched wheat flour, water, sugar/glucose-fructose, yeast, soybean and/or canola oil, salt, wheat gluten, calcium propionate, monoglycerides, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate
  • On the front of the bag: Cholesterol-free / 100% vegetable oil (but doesn’t the ingredient list say soybean and/or canola?)

I kept moving the bag because it gave me the creeps—from one counter to another. Bread is supposed to develop mold under the right conditions and grow hard and crusty. Almost four months later, here I sit without a clue what’s kept this product from walking away on its own. Instead, we are both stuck in the Twilight Zone. Today, the buns are harder on the bottom but the tops, although this much later, still spring back. This is not normal. You would think by now my finger should poke a hole through the crust, but no crust yet.

Even if I say so myself, I know I am well preserved, but that’s from the family gene pool. Why the heck do I need or want help from (food) preservatives from someone I don’t even know, from who knows where? After this experiment, who can I trust?

Do you know what’s in your food?

And then there are eggs—but that’s for another day. I’m worn out; its stressful stumbling about in the land of One Step Beyond.


Where Was I?

Sometimes my brain forgets I’m the one in charge. It wanders into side streets and alleys where we both become lost. It’s annoying and on occasion, unnerving.

One moment I’m relating a story to a friend—I won’t pretend my delivery is riveting, but my enthusiasm makes up for any lack of it—when Zap, I’m left blinking, disoriented. I’ve lost my place. But I am not alone, because you see, the chances are whomever I’m chatting with, is fluttering sparse eyelashes too. We look at each other, yet neither is able to pick up the thread of my eager tale. We laugh, but I wonder if this meandering brain taking side trips without me is okay.

An incident occurred many years ago, which gives me hope. My daughter, then around four years old, charged up the stairs to her bedroom. She had been playing quietly in the living-room while I washed dishes in the kitchen, close by. Impossible to ignore, I heard her abrupt one-foot-one-stair-gait up the stairs.

Then, silence. I waited. What was she up to, I thought as I stacked dried stoneware?

“Ma, what did I come up here for?”

I swallowed giggles choking me, but called up the stairs, struggling for breath, “I don’t know, sweetie. You didn’t tell me.”

If a four-year-olds brain can take a detour, then this brain of mine must still be in decent working order. I hope.

When I’ve lost my train of thought mid-sentence, I’m ashamed to say, it’s occurred to me at times, my friend has not been listening or giving me her full attention. I am miffed, but only for a second or two because I have been on the receiving end of her conversation also. We are not unlike.

Thank you Microsoft Clipart

Thank you Microsoft Clipart

“Where was I?”

“Ah…” We’re both lost.

Another branch off this road of forgetfulness is what I call Word Search. Never mind those books one buys by the same name where you look through a jumble of words lined up this way and that. They wait to be circled if you can find them without an inch-thick magnifying glass. Hm. Isn’t this exactly what’s going on in my head? Words poised this way and that; words wanting to make sense.

I sit telling another enthralling story, hanging off the edge of my chair, vibrating with words which tumble out with exuberance only to stop dead. “What is the word I’m looking for?” I snap my fingers, scratch my head and look beseechingly at my fellow coffee mate. Anyone watching might shake their head thinking we’re practicing a mind-reading act. Not that I have the energy to worry about the rest of the world.

“Uh. I snap my fingers, Eyes fluttering like moths. “What’s that word, you know the one—it’s a colour—like the sun…”

“Oh, you mean yellow?”

“Yeah, that’s it! Yes, yellow…where was I?”

Recently I experienced this tiresome mind jousting again, my body and brain left limp as a worn-out dishrag. (If you don’t believe me, wait til your turn comes.)

Do you know what it means to defrag your hard drive?

I propose this scenario. When thoughts are lost, gaps are created making room for new ones, but the new ones don’t fit this spare space recently freed up, and overflow willy-nilly somewhere, anywhere else. Is this why I lose my vein of thought because my thoughts become scattered? Are my thoughts fragmented because the new ones haven’t been filed together?

Is there some way to test a defragmentation on my hard disk? I wonder if the thought wedges might be rearranged, joined where they belong together, to resolve this wild roaming into the blind alleys of my gray matter.

A person can’t help thinking about snaking and twisting…

“Where was I?”


Let’s Cut the Crap!

A blogger wondered today where / how the backstory to my blog’s name, Let’s Cut the Crap, originated. Perhaps I had a post titled as such, she inquired?

No-one else has asked before. Now that I’ve brought it up, let me explain. At this point in my life I don’t have time to beat around the bush. I’m not here to sugar coat anything I post. If interesting insights into my life strike me, I’ll laugh about them here. So far, only my knees give me a headache. The name struck me as attention-grabbing, as well as coming off as no-nonsense.

Shortly after our exchange, I read an interesting article and by golly I have a post titled as such now. This is it.

I found the following post, mid-day, because unexpected free time fell into my lap. My jaw dropped after only a few paragraphs. By the time I was half-way through reading, I knew David Gaughran’s post must be shared with all of you.

Are you ready for this? I may not yet have experience with the big publishing world, but I realize the new reality for writers is developing into a cutthroat game of who gets the money. It’s all in the article.


You will notice I’m posting mid-afternoon on Friday, something unheard of here. Today is the end of March Break for my grandchildren as well as for their other grandmother.  They have all gone swimming leaving me with an unexpected afternoon of freedom. Maybe I’ll manage to do some catching up or grab a book and disappear into its covers. Eh?



Sunday Snippets – Blog Hop #7

Check it out. Jennifer Eaton of has initiated this Critique Blog Hop. Read the rules and sign up. You’ll find the other submissions at the bottom of this post.


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Thank you for your continuing and constructive comments. The first part of today’s snippet is here:

This piece is from a story titled, Afterwards, about a woman coming to terms with the past after something happens in the present.

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Sylvie picks up the wine glass and takes a generous swallow.

I should not have poked at that hornet’s nest.

She presses her lips together. How might I have known? After all, old friends go for coffee, don’t they? Catch up? Talk about how their lives turned out? Normal stuff, right? Curiosity is all it was. Innocent, yet I was playing with fire, and knew it. Shoudacouldawoulda. “STOP IT!” Sylvie covers her face with purple-veined hands, drops them, and rubs the table’s polished surface in a circular motion.

After my mother died, you sent a card, George. Not an ideal time for remembering you. Yes, your gesture warmed my numbness, almost made me smile, but confused me, too—it made me remember what I had long buried—or so I thought.

I was cautious about sending a thank you, long after I’d expressed my appreciation to everyone else, but I did anyway. Then your Christmas card arrived on the first anniversary of mom’s death. I perceived no harm in sharing a coffee after forty-some years. I admit it, I was interested to see you, and, your eagerness, well… Sylvie rubs her temples and closes her eyes.

I’d already heard life hasn’t been kind to you, so it’s no understatement that you’re in bad physical shape. At least I tried to feel something, but cannot. I’m unable to reach down deep enough to find any emotion. You see, George, I haven’t forgotten what happened back then, but it appears you have, or choose to.

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Click on over to these great writers to read and critique what they’ve posted!


Flash in the Pan – Contemplative

Katie leaned over the steaming crockpot and stirred the thick chicken stew. She closed her eyes. The blended aromas of garlic and thyme floated into the air. Ah, heaven. Her mouth watered. Jazz music played softly in her butter yellow kitchen. Katie straightened, cocked her head, and turned.


Billy Halliday crooned on. Before the wooden spoon struck the counter with a thwack, Katie tore down the hallway.

“Hi, Mom. You’re out of bed—great. How’s the fever?” She leaned forward. “Forehead feels cool. Want some tea?”

MB900442402The woman in the chair sat straight and stiff as a statue. Only her eyes moved, scrutinizing the busy, talking blonde’s face. Even as her heart threatened to choke her, Katie grew contemplative. In an instant, her mother’s watery eyes dripped weaving rivers down her face.

“What is it darling?” Katie whispered.


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 The word limit for Contemplative is 150 words. I used 142 words. Check out for rules and contributions.


Sunday Snippets – Blog Hop #6

Jennifer Eaton of has initiated this Critique Blog Hop. Read the rules and sign up. Do checkout the other submissions at the bottom of this post.


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Thank you all for taking the time to share, read and comment here at Sunday Snippets. Through this process I’ve had a peek at the other side of the story—with new eyes.

Todays submission is from the beginning of a short story called Afterwards, about the rehashing of an evening.

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Sylvie sits stock still. Not a grey hair moves; not a muscle twitches. Blue eyes stare into space, as if blind. Her right hand clutches an advertisement for the Philharmonic. The soft sounds of violin strings float, like ghostly dust motes, in the air around her.

A deep gong booms, rousing her back to the present. Sylvie shakes her head and exhales. How I hate that god awful grandfather clock. One of these days I’m going to hack it up into tiny pieces and use it for firewood.

“That won’t work either,” Sylvie mutters aloud. “I no longer have a wood fireplace.”

She rubs her neck and shoulders, and gazes around her kitchen. It’s getting dark. How long have I been sitting here? The face on the clock reads 7:26 p.m. An almost full glass of red wine sits on the table in front of her. A sound bursts from her throat; more of a bark than a laugh. Some might consider fiction more entertaining than real life. Ha—not true—not true at all. I’m up to my eyeballs in real life, in a chapter I wish I could burn in that non-existent fireplace.

“Where the hell are my glasses?” she asks the darkening room. The paper has dropped onto the walnut kitchen table. She picks it up again, brings it up to her face and wrinkles her nose.

After patting the table and then herself, she finds her glasses on top of her head. Misplacing them too often and afraid she’d need to fork out for a replacement pair, she’d re-trained her habits. If they’re not on my head, I’m in trouble, so they better be there.

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Note:  Click below to read other participants.