How the Cookie Crumbles

Life in the fast and slow lanes after SIXTY-FIVE


Half-empty or Half-full?

I’ve been meaning to pop in with bushels of heartfelt thanks for your cheery support and warm encouragement during my unexplained absence. I’m still here and kicking and no one is ill. It is not my intent to be mysterious, but I cannot spell out where life has taken me. I will continue missing-in-action for some time. How long? I cannot say. My apologies.

It’s complicated.

On the days I stop to breathe, I miss you and the blogging world yet cannot predict when I’ll return to normal–whatever my normal will be.

Don’t they say every cloud has a silver lining? I do endeavor concentrating on the bright side. Is that a shiny pinhead on the horizon, I see? Everything takes time and patience. Lots of patience.

I look forward to coming back before I’m ninety if you’ll still have me. Thank you for your thoughtful support and for being here.

Comments remain turned off as I haven’t sufficient time to keep up keeping up.

This has hung on my fridge for a few years and still makes me smile. My younger granddaughter warms my heart and adds color to my days.

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63 Comments

#BlogBattle 3 – Prompt: Air

Find the rules at Rachel Ritchie’s blog here.

Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Prompt: Air

Words: 970

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Kitten or Mouse

Julie pressed back against the wall of the Fish and Tackle shop as if to melt into the paint and woodgrain. He had found her. No other reason for his appearance in this crack in the world atop the U.S./Canada border. Three years. Why now? Stroking her windpipe, the relentless thumbs and her struggle to break their pressure flashed before her like a bad movie. He breezed past in his signature Mercedes, still the same one, looking neither left nor right, a silver streak in the sun.

Weak-kneed, she gulped lungs full of fishy autumn air. Her paralysis abated; a headache blossomed.

“Are you all right, Miss?” A chubby teen reached out in support of her elbow.

Oblivious to his approach, Julie screamed. Hands clenched to her chin, she nodded but tracked the car’s disappearance over the boy’s shoulder. Up the hill, she slogged on leaden legs to the parking lot. No shopping today. The teen squinted and shook his head.

A miracle, he lived. So, Markus had evaded both jailers and creditors. To save his neck, he’d wanted to sell their real estate business, but she vanished after the choking incident. Not possible without her signature—unless, he had finagled her autograph. Of course, he had, or he’d be dead. Teeth clattering like loose Chicklets, she backed the car in behind the little green house on the dead-end street.

Inside, she locked the doors and snapped the blinds shut. Nerves jangling like unraveled electric wires, she turned on the black and white portable television, the sound turned off. Front door to hallway, to the kitchen, and back she paced. Why was he here?

The landline rattled a rotary grumble. Other than old Widow Schumacher across the road, no one phoned her. She picked up. “Hello, Anna?” Tense, her voice cracked. “Anna… is everything alright? Anna…” Julie slammed the phone into its cradle, a sob choking her. Wait a minute… She peeked between the curtains in the front room. Eyes closed, Anna relaxed on her verandah, face toward the milky fall sun.

Julie massaged her knotted forehead. Could be a wrong number. Right? Marcus showing up is a coincidence? What’s he want? He wouldn’t recognize me after the work I’ve had done. My voice… Shoot—my voice hasn’t changed.

The walls closed in like sentries—bad ones—pushy, determined, smothering. How did he get this number? He doesn’t know my name. Get a grip, Julie. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Br-r-r-ring. Julie jumped back though the whirr originated in the kitchen. She tiptoed to the curtains. The widow’s chin had dropped to her chest.

Neck and shoulders clenched, her tension grew in drowning waves. The black phone droned on like a loud purr, like his voice purring, purring like a cat, watching the mouse sweat and then bam! He always won—later if not sooner.

The first time had been over her signature and a password. He said she’d never leave him. He wouldn’t allow it. The next time she knew he’d finish the job because his mouse had fled. What did he want now? Three years ago she had an escape plan and a nest egg. This time she had no time to plan, but her nest egg safe, grew.

The phone stopped; the silence eerie like a yawning vacuum. Julie stood at the edge staring into the abyss, ready to jump.

Br-r-r-ring.

“Stop.” Julie covered her ears. She found herself peering through the curtains again, the widow gone.

Silence slammed into her like a brick wall. Time to get out of the house. She grabbed her purse.

Br-r-r-ring.

What if it isn’t him? She picked up the receiver.

“Hello, kitten.” His practiced smile burned into her ear. “I like the red hair. Some people have been anxious to pin your disappearance on me—but without proof…” He raised his voice, the smile erased. “I want my briefcase back…”

Julie laid the receiver on the small table, grabbed a scarf, and tiptoed out of her house. The car in neutral, she coasted down the incline to the street. This mouse isn’t your plaything anymore. She high-tailed it with no clear plan in mind, other than crossing the border into Maine. If he knows about the hair, he knows what I look like. How did he find me?

First things first. Lie low in Maine for two or three days.

* * *

She stayed away an extra day. Hair mahogany and lips watermelon pink, she parked a block away from home and strode up the street to Anna’s in sandals instead of heels. Hidden behind bold sunglasses, she scanned her house. It wore a look of abandonment and melancholy. She knocked. No Anna.

Nothing stirred not even the fallen leaves. Across the street, she picked up four daily papers left in her absence and checked the mailbox. Heart on the verge of imploding, Julie tried the back door. The phone rested on the table as before. She hung it up to stop the awful beep. The newspapers dumped in the trash, she retrieved the latest one. Flashes of blue without sound earned a switch-off. How long before he knocks on my door?

Lightheaded, her heart continued the Watusi. Water on the boil for tea, Julie dropped into a kitchen chair and unfolded the paper. A three-car pile-up exiting the Canadian side took the lives of one man and sent three others to hospital. The kettle whistled. She examined the wrecks in full-color. A shiver passed over her. Something familiar… “Shut up!” She slammed off the offensive shriek.

The deceased, a Canadian, remains unidentified until next of kin… Anyone with information…

1983 silver Mercedes Benz 300 SD…

R.I.P. Better you than me.

Free. Free. Free at last. No peering over my shoulder.

By the way, Markus, your briefcase is safe.

The End

Image courtesy of Pixabay

© 2017 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


67 Comments

The New Year 2015 Advances

The house Michael’s widowed mother lives in on Thetis Island is the house she and her husband built after they married. She has a woodstove in the kitchen. Wonderful. There are a mess of bedrooms  though I didn’t get a tour (they were a large family). Her living room has a brick fireplace along the whole of one end wall, as well as a sofa and numerous comfy chairs and a piano. This is the view this room faces. Don’t you want to park yourself and dream here for a while? I do.

Jean had brought sheet music but could not find it. The only music, Lucy, her mother-in-law had were hymnbooks. We sat around the piano and sang everyone’s favorites. By midnight, worn out and ready for a soft pillow. I have no idea whose suggestion sent us to bed.

Morning brought a huge and satisfying late breakfast: steel-cut oats with raisins and homemade stewed apples, yoghurt, granola, sticky buns, pork pie, coffee and tea. Oh, my.

The next ferry to Chemainus left at 1:10. We lined up early and found a spot on board–another open air ferry. A heartwarming part of our departure is Lucy has a direct view of the departure from her deck and waves all her children goodbye when they leave. Michael waved to his mother this day, too. The air too crisp to stand outside on the ferry, Mary and I stayed in the van while Jean and Michael caught up with friends. Our had no stops and passed without incident.

Off the ferry, traffic was not busy to Nanaimo, but before we reached the next ferry, overhead road billboards announced the 3:00 o’clock ferry was full. What? How long need we wait?

Thank goodness, Jean had brought along a container of crackers, cheese, and kielbasa. We purchased drinks and wandered around to kill time in the terminal. Inside, tourist trap shops surrounded us. Less mindboggling were coffee shops (Starbucks), Frankies (a Chinese food kiosk, a pizza place and a couple others. We bought nothing except drinks.

The call to board came. We crossed our fingers on our way to the van for the hour-and-a- half crossing on the Queen of Coquitlam. Luck smiled. Once we settled and around half-way into the crossing, a ferry employee announced 1,028 passengers were on board. “Thank you for sailing with us.”

Ha ha. The Queen is the only means of crossing to Vancouver. I think it’s nice to be appreciated in this way, though don’t you? We disembarked at 6:35 pm.

Highway traffic was crazy. Dusk fell unnoticed. Headlights come in the opposite direction and backup lights of the cars ahead became obvious. Bumper-to-bumper. Stop-start. We arrived at Jean and Michael’s house by 7:45 much longer than the usual time.

Jean’s a wizard in the kitchen, though thr second youngest sister (out of five). We sat down to an amazing late, but light supper around nine: leftover-salmon (from the party) and a salad. After a seven-hour day of traveling, a quick clean-up and off to bed

Next time on December 9th Recuperation and Shopping

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

For more related posts, click on Abbreviated Vancouver

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I have been entertaining all day, Catch up with you tomorrow.  


61 Comments

Is it Real, or is it a Memory?

Hello bloggers, near and far; dear and dearer. I am alive. Yes, this summer is almost over and already sliding into memory. I meant to visit you right after Labor Day, but was sidetracked—I needed to catch my breath. Whew.

The best part is the kids are back in school. Life should get back to normal, whatever that is. I flipped my daily schedule upside down: work first and play later. This means blogging will not happen until the latter part of the day. I cannot be trusted on social media for an hour or two at a time. Twelve hours disappear before I even notice. Poof, the day is lost and I’m wiped. I wonder how long this setup will last. It’s failed before, but I must try.

No, the trees aren't changing yet. This is from last October

No, our trees aren’t changing yet. This is from last October

I managed to do some of what I’d planned this summer and even some I had not. The bottom line is I needed a break from my break. Yeah, I’m a wuss—a shock to me too. Oh, oh. Do I see you rolling your eyes?

I still have a mountain of unread books on my dining-room table, which hasn’t shrunk by much. Sigh. It will take a little time to work my way back and I may not manage to be quite as vigilant as before. I have missed so much of what’s been happening in Blogland and all of you, of course. I feel like a stranger. I will never manage a catch up, but I am on my way back. I hope there’s still a place for me at the coffee table.

Here’s a link I came across this morning. Fits me like a slinky dress. Some of you too, right?

http://www.thespec.com/living-story/6859752-13-things-you-need-to-stop-doing-to-be-happier-right-now/

Hugs all around. Mwah.

See you next Friday?


63 Comments

#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.


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?

 


57 Comments

Homeward Bound

Breakfast was a disappointment again:  no fresh buns, dry, squashed croissants, and small stale Danish. I loaded up on cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple, a piece of toast, and coffee. I decided not to gorge on our last day.

After breakfast Ernesto and his wife took the elevator with two Chinese businessmen. It stopped partway and wouldn’t budge. One of the businessmen began to sweat, his face beet red. Ernesto’s wife hit the red button and someone answered at once with instructions, but nothing worked. After a moment or two—that’s all it took—the elevator stirred to everyone’s relief, especially the Chinese man.

* * *

Time to leave for the airport, Sue and I towed our luggage to the elevator at 8:25 a.m. It appeared too full, but the occupants  insisted we get on. The elevator stopped at almost every floor and with much shifting more people squeezed on. I laughed because this felt like the Volkswagen commercial where endless lines of people pile in. Nobody thought the elevator was too full to get on and no-one decided to wait for the next one. By the time we’d reached the first floor, we had enough Chinese people to start our own small village with a population of a million or two.

* * *

After we’d settled at our boarding gate at the airport, Sue and I went in search of bottled water to take on the plane. Before boarding, we passed through another security check, opened our bags and carry-ons, and lost the untouched water. Other passengers had had the same idea and were robbed of their bottles as well. A female passenger, who’d boarded our plane, argued with the stewardess.

“There should be a sign if we’re not allowed to bring water on board.”

“Madam, we are not allowed to do that in Hong Kong.”

“Well, how was I supposed to know my new water bottle will be confiscated?”

“You will know for next time.”

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The overall flight seemed better than the one into China. My eyes didn’t itch nor burn from lack of sleep. By 1:00 a.m. breakfast was served, but I wasn’t hungry. I had half the omelette, had a taste of the anemic pork sausage and two toonie-sized hash brown coins. The drinks cart came around once. I would have loved more coffee and finally, a second offer was made.

I watched a lot of movies, and read a complete book I’d borrowed from one of our group. We finally arrived in Chicago and didn’t have to wait five hours to get on a flight home.

I tried wifi without success. We waited. The plane before us had been delayed; the passengers moved to another gate after much dithering. The clock ticked past our boarding time. No information was offered. Finally another gate became available. We were 35 minutes late boarding. Thank goodness we didn’t have to run to the other end of the airport, but I worried about the arranged limo we’d paid for to pick us up in Toronto.

The aircraft was puny: two seats on either side of a narrow aisle, not unlike the one we had taken from Toronto to Chicago at the beginning of our trip. The door closed and then, nothing. We waited. The passengers shifted in their seats and looked at each other across the aisle.

1st announcement:

“We need to fuel up so we have enough gas to get you to To-ron-to”

2nd announcement:

“We’re trying to locate the guy who’s supposed to fill us up.”

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

(Is that enough fuel? Are you kidding?)  Credit: Wikimedia Commons 

3rd announcement:

“He went to the wrong…”

W-h-a-t?

My heart danced the Nitty Gritty. So close to home—yet would we even make it?  The air in the cabin grew stale and stifling. Susan’s stomach had been queasy while we were still in the airport. I now had a scratchy throat and stuffed sinuses.

Credit:  SOUL of the North : tolpuddleman’s channel

* * *

The plane arrived in one piece but we had to walk across the tarmac to the airport. I felt like a rag doll nobody cared about. Toronto airport is huge; it isn’t easy nor forgiving. There are no walkalators nor airport treadmills. We trudged for miles.

I noticed something interesting at the baggage carrousel. A female police officer and a sniffer dog checked the incoming luggage. I’d have expected a German shepherd, instead a beagle named Lucy sniffed away.

Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

We waited about five minutes for the limo driver. The deal was if the plane didn’t arrive on time, the driver would only wait for an hour. Phew!

Soon we sped towards home- sweet-home, my great adventure over.

~ * ~

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

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


36 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week 155

This challenge is open to everyone. Check out the rules below:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week155-2/

This week’s prompt:  … as time passes… + 100 words

100wcgu-72

Another Broken Heart

Samantha’s mother held her hand, breathed deep.

“My Granny Gracie prayed with each phone call and mail delivery. The letter arrived with good news five years too late.”

“What happened to her, Mom?”

“She died of a broken heart. Granny held on till the letter’s arrival, but she already lay at death’s door. For some, as time passes, love fades like a summer rose, but not for her.”

“Where had great grandpa gone so long?”

“They thought he’d drowned on the Titanic, but he’d sustained a brain injury and suffered with amnesia for years. Her funeral almost finished him.”

“Another broken heart.”

“Shattered.”

The End

 

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

 

 


69 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #163

Click below to join:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week163/

The prompt this week is …freedom… + 100 words

100wcgu-72

SEVEN Little LETTERS

“Let me explain—”

The uniform’s hand flew up. “Silence. Passport.” Crisp pages snapped between thickened fingers.

“Boris, see about the bag.” Uniform trousers swept past Mike. Slam.

“It’s a mistake.”

“Quiet.” The scarred fist smacked the desk; the chair creaked. “Travelling alone?”

“No. Yes. What’s this about?”

“I ask questions. Not you.”

“What about freedom of speech?”

The desk giant threw back his head and roared. “Your country maybe. This my country.” His mustard yellow teeth retreated.

“My mother—”

“What?”

“Sick…help her come home.”

Boris returned; they conferred.

“You have freedom visit my jail.”

“Lawyer—?”

“Boris fine lawyer.”

 

© 2015 All Right Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


70 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #159

Time for another challenge. To join in the fun, click below:

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week-159/

This week’s prompt:  I need to remember… +100 words

100wcgu-72

HOME SAFE

“Where are my gloves?”

Mrs. K’s fingers combed through her hair. “You’re burning up.”

“Can’t leave without my gloves.”

“They’re tucked into your belt. Here.”

He rubbed puffy eyes.  “I need to remember something. What?”

“Make it back in time for breakfast?”

“No-no. Where’s the new GPS?”

“In the sleigh, dear. Take Nelson tonight.”

Kris pulled on his bottom lip. “Nelson?”

“The doctor treating you.”

“Don’t think so…”

“What if you get drowsy? Or need meds to get through tonight?

“You’re mighty persuasive, Mrs. K. Ho, ho, ho—but no.”

A green and black blur dashed out the door.

Safe home, Kris. Safe home.

 

© 2014 TAK