How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


Beijing Part 7: Ming Tombs


Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

After the Great Wall, a mid-day meal awaited in a local restaurant.


  • Spring rolls (exactly 8)
  • Fish balls with red and green peppers
  • Fried chicken
  • Eggplant with tomato and green peppers
  • Rice
  • Cauliflower and broccoli
  • Soup
  • Cut up orange wedges for dessert
  • Tea
  • The usual one small (free) glass of beer, pop or water
The Spirit Way, original road and entrance to the tombs. There are 13 tombs of which only one has been excavated (Ding Ling)

The Spirit Way: original road and entrance to the tombs. There are 13 tombs of which one only has been excavated (Ding Ling) 

Ming Tombs: where 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty are buried (1368-1644).    (3.04 min)

If you would like a more in-depth version:  (8:43 min)

Emperor Yongle with money offerings at his feet. This money is collected and used to maintain the building

Emperor Yongle with money offerings at his feet. This money is collected and used to maintain the building and no, no Chinese person would dare steal this money.  


  • Hung on rope strung the length of apartment balconies
  • Clothes  hung on hangers: socks, T-shirts, sweaters, trousers, shirts, blouses
  • Did not notice any underwear or bedding

 On the way to dinner:

Robert and the driver appeared to converse more than usual. Robert’s cell rang. He talked at length. The call completed, he started another. Both he and the driver seemed tied to their phones for an unusual amount of time. Of course, I didn’t understand a word, yet it occurred to me something might be up. I can pull a rabbit out of any hat, real or imaginary.

Our bus pulled over to the curb and Robert announced he had to leave. The driver would take us to the restaurant, he said. He gave no explanation, but it wasn’t hard to see he was upset. Sue and I looked at each other. We couldn’t see any of the other’s reactions in front or behind us.


Heavy traffic surrounded us. After Robert hopped off, we drove on for a short distance still in the inside lane. Vehicles crawled bumper to bumper. Another bus slowed next to ours. Sue and I sat on the left of the aisle watching through the window. I squeezed my eyes shut as a bicyclist, with no room to spare, whizzed by between our two buses. I almost had a heart attack.

The other bus moved on. We remained stock-still in the curb lane. Traffic rolled past. I thought the young fellow on the bike might have caused an accident. Traffic shifted moving past, yet our bus waited immobile. Why? By now, the whole group craned necks and raised eyebrows around the seats at each other. We noticed together, a car parked in front of the bus. Another five minutes or so dragged past. What could be happening? A man in a construction vest walked up to the car’s driver window brandishing his arms. I had no idea the car had an occupant. No translation was required. Move now he indicated. Nothing changed. A 20-something Chinese guy in black pants and a white shirt appeared at the side of the bus. The door flew open and he jumped in. The door slammed shut and I don’t recall any words exchanged with the driver. The parked car inched forward. Our bus did as well.


In minutes, we turned into a driveway and a man, who might have been Security or Police, stepped in front of the bus. He waved his arms and shouted through the windshield and looked as if he wanted to push the bus back. What was going on? Words passed between the man outside and our driver or between the driver and the new passenger who hadn’t taken a seat. Too much going on to follow. The uniform vanished. The bus door opened again and the young man jumped out signaling for us to follow. I felt like a lamb on the way to heaven’s gate or maybe hell’s? All were silent, heads bowed as we passed through an alley and a maze of cars and another lot into a restaurant. I flashed my Travel Tour ID towards an approaching waitress. She led us to Table 6 which displayed our tour group name.

One of our group noticed the young man worked as a waiter there. The picture became clear. This had been an orchestrated event. Before Robert rushed off, either he or the driver had pre-arranged for our escort. The driver had stalled until the black pants and white shirt found us. The driver couldn’t leave the bus to walk us to our destination since there wasn’t room to bring the bus closer. I don’t even know if he spoke English. What teamwork!

By the time dinner finished, and we fidgeted, wondering about our return to the hotel, Robert showed up as if nothing had happened. He looked much better than when he’d dashed off. His voice, I noticed, was still a little odd. At least to me, his reason for the sudden disappearance was suspect.

“I had to see about my next tour,” he said to our obvious curiosity.



  • Soup with fresh chopped tomatoes
  • Rice
  • Shrimp with egg and green peppers
  • Corn with lima beans and carrots
  • Sweet and sour chicken balls
  • French fries (surprise)
  • Chicken with fungus and green peppers
  • Green leaf vegetable like spinach but not
  • Chopped mushrooms and green peppers
  • Eggplant, light spice

We returned to the hotel around 8:30 p.m. I picked up my laptop from the room and returned to the lobby for free WiFi access. I had trouble and asked the guy at reception for help. He looked at the list available and pointed to one, even though the words weren’t in Chinese. “Maybe, this one?” His choice didn’t work. He shrugged. I went off on my own, but soon became frustrated and worn out. I wanted nothing more than my bed. I gave up on e-mail.

Finally day's end

Finally day’s end. This is how my brain felt as well. 

Next on March 3rd: Beijing Part 8: Pearl Stores and Summer Palace

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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



A Quick Update

Dickens is the ginger and Lady Gaga, well, you can guess.

Dickens is the ginger and Lady Gaga, well, you can guess.

Our power went out yesterday and then the internet got snarky. Frustrated, I called it a day. I may not comment on yesterday’s posts as it’s a daily struggle to keep up with the last 12 hours of posts let alone 24. Have I any hair left after yesterday? Read on.

Last week I finished a short two-week course and have two more to complete during the next six weeks. Another beast hungry for my time.

Thank you for your continued support. I hope you understand my exasperation.

P.S.  I wrote a post earlier this morning, but it disappeared. Not only had I fought a spastic page, it scrambled and unscrambled the menu and media bars, ribbons and bars floated over words disallowing access to type, same as last Friday when I posted. At one point, everything disappeared then came back. I saved a draft in a hurry. In the end, it was all for naught. Anyone experience anything like this? I have. Some time ago. It lasted a while and was no more but not this bad.


#BlogBattle – Week 61

Prompt: Surfer

Genre:  Drama



“Know what it means caught in the act? Well, I wasn’t. Didn’t do nothing.

“I had a life long ago, but it got boring fast. Sure, I wanted a little excitement. I worked hard at a job that sucked. Yes, I said it. The wife knew I hated it, but what could she do except complain there was never enough money. Yeah, she worked at this and that—babysitting, was a cashier once, sold Tupperware. Nothing in the real world so her pay added up to birdseed. Said it was her job to bring up our kids, not hand them off to someone else. Anyway, it probably wouldn’t have worked ‘cause we had a new kid every other year—four times…”

“Hey, slow down. Chill. Want to get us killed?” His passenger reached out to grab the wheel only to be shouldered back.

“Thirty plus years I’ve been bowing and genuflecting at the altar of the Boss Man. See? Had kids and a mortgage, responsibilities. Is that all we’re on this earth for—to toil, sweat, and die. The company kept laying off and cutting back the last fifteen years. Got gut rot. Call backs no guarantee. Can’t throw your seniority away so I hung on. Stashed dough in tins and jars, preparing for the next cutback. The only thanks at home were hands out for my hard-earned dough.

“The kids are grown and gone. About time. We had a house because of the sweat on my brow. Wants to sell the house. Wants half of everything. Nope, not from yours truly.” He smacked the steering wheel, open palmed. “I’d like to get my hands…”

“Geez Louise. Pull over. You keep wandering over the line.” Mike tapped Charlie’s arm with a fist, but again he shrugged him off.

“I’m fine. Keep getting these letters from her lawyer, and…”

“Thought we were going fishing. Any new fish stories?” He leaned in to fiddle with the radio.

“Leave it.” Charlie groaned, withdrew a cigarette from his shirt pocket, and tapped it on the steering wheel. Before he reached the car lighter, Mike flicked his Bic, offering a light. Blowing smoke through his nose, he nodded, squinting through the windshield. “My best man and blood brother. How long have we known each other? Forever, right? Haven’t seen you in a year and you can’t listen for five minutes.”

“What do you need, man. Shoot.”

“Never mind. I’ll figure it out.” Charlie shifted his weight in the old mustang’s bucket seat. Though the air conditioner blew full tilt, his balding head glistened where thin red hair had once flourished. Wiry brows drawn in a frown, his ruddy cheeks shone, too.

“You got a lawyer, right? What’s the worst you can expect?”

“Half of everything and then there’s the thing about my pension she can claim…”

“Whoa, where did that trucker come from? I’d say he’s in a hurry to hell.” Mike rubbernecked the back window.

“Talk about reach out and touch someone. He almost wrote his name on my car. That was too close. Look at him go.”

“Want I should drive?”

“Nah, I’m okay. You still have all your hair. I just lost mine.” Charlie honked when he laughed. Mike didn’t sound much better. “When you said to slow down, I remember a bunch of cars ahead of us.” He checked the rear view. “Nobody but us now.”

Mike steepled his hands. “Start at the beginning. What was the tipping point? Any idea?”

“Not sure. Other than working in the mill, I developed an interest in computers. You might say I had a gift. Learned to fix them. Easy. Soon, friends, and everybody called for help. Patty complained because I fixed them on my off days. Said I wasn’t available to her. Wasn’t charging money. What did she know? I don’t work for free. The money was good. Women were needy. One in particular—but nothing happened. She wanted me, I know, but I’m a married man, right?” She kept calling with problems and soon her wide-eyed gazes got to me. I felt sorry for her. Lonely, I guess. Anyway, I promised to look in on her now and again. I loved the attention. Who wouldn’t? She was a lot older than me but looked pretty good.

Got home late one night and Patty’s sitting in the living room—sprang at me like a panicked cat. Said she’d found an e-mail on my computer from a woman. Didn’t know she knew about computers. Saw my car on the street in front of an apartment building, she said. How did she track me…? She spied on me? I never spied on her. Told her people e-mailed for repairs. Had to change my password.”

Mike ran a hand over his full head of dirty blond hair and adjusted his watchband. Staring out the passenger window, he exhaled. “Can’t fault her for worrying, can you? This is her marriage too.”

“You’re not listening. She’s out to get me no matter what or how.”

“What else happened?”

“Sometimes—you know when shifts change and it’s hard to switch your inner clock and sleep’s not your friend?

“Yeah?” Mike cricked his neck.

“I cranked on the computer in the middle of the night a few times. Television’s a joke except for sports. Got into Chat Rooms. Real interesting. Lots of people with crappy lives. I was flabbergasted how real these people were. Soon I was on there every spare minute. Met a couple women in my area. Yeah, we met for coffee a few times. What’s wrong with that? Again Patty, the detective, managed to match unspecified fragments and attacked me with accusations of fooling around online.”

“In your defence, you said?”

“Checking my online investments.”

“You do investments online? Is it safe?”

“I do some, but am not sure about going hog wild. No.”

“You lied to Patty?”

“How did I lie if I’m not using real money? Was studying if I’d be any good with real money.

“Patty had the nerve to ask how much I’d kissed away in my online trading. I said I’d made thousands—couldn’t help it. Her eyes got so big.” He snorted. “Still, none of her business.”

Bug-eyed, Mike glared at his friend. “None of her business? She’s your wife and the mother of your children. What is wrong with you? So did you invest real money or not?”

“Here’s the kicker. Got past my password, again. Printed the chats and shook them in my face. Time for strange women and not her. Stuff like that. I didn’t check investments. I wasn’t an ordinary web surfer. I was a liar, an unfaithful husband, looking for trouble. Oh, yeah. Then she screamed about house stuff, the broken steps, no new appliances. What about the furnace? Yada yada. Nothing I did was good enough. No wonder I found ways to spice up my life. In the morning, she was gone.”

“Where is she now?”

Charlie raised and dropped a shoulder. “She called so I have her cell. Said she’s getting a lawyer, an apartment—not coming back—blah-blah-blah.”

“How long had the chats been going on?”

“Whose side are you on, Mike? I have her lawyer hounding me. I even said let’s start over. I begged. That hurt. Nope. No way. Nada. Any idea how I make this go away? Not lining no lawyer’s pockets. No sir.”

Mike stared ahead. Mouth clamped shut, he manoeuvred his lips back and forth.

“Well?” Nostrils flared, he peered at his passenger.”

“Pull over. I don’t think you’ll like what I have to say.”

“Hit me.”

“Ever go to work tired, make mistakes?”

“Tired. Yeah, so? Night shifts are great for catching some shut-eye.”

‘You get away with not working? And get paid?” Mike slapped his forehead.

“No biggie. Everyone does it. We cover for each other. An hour here and there.”

“You don’t care about anybody. Are you crazy? What if you drop a load, kill somebody from your crane?”

“You and hoity-toity Lenore are so perfect, right? You’ve never done anything you’re sorry for?”

“Get serious. Sorry? Only because you got caught. Pull over, I said. You planning to skip out on your ex? They’ll find you, and you’ll pay, sooner or later.

“Watch me because I can.” Lips clamped, Charlie wiggled thorny brows in his direction.

“Pull over. I want no part of this.”

“We’re in the middle of nowhere.” Charlie smirked, an ugly twist to his lips. Checking his mirrors, he slowed and pulled over. They were alone on the road. He turned to Mike with a cruel squint. “We’re stopped. Now what?”

“My bag. Open the trunk.”


Mike bent to reach inside.

“Nobody calls me crazy.” Charlie slammed the trunk lid with all his might. “Guess you drowned fishing. Wuss.”

The End

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

~ ~ ~

Rules of the Battle

  1. 1500 wordsmax (effective May 2016)
  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. State theGenre of your story at the top/bottom of your post.
  6. Post your stories on the 2nd & 4th Tuesday of the month, by 11:59 PM PST
  7. Go for theentertainment value!
  8. Put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section, and/or include a link to a battle post (not a page) in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post).
  9. Use the hashtag#BlogBattle when tweeting your story.
  10. Let us know if you have a Facebook author/writer page so we can LIKE it to stay connected.
  11. Have fun!

The poll for voting will be added the Wednesdays after the Tuesday Story Posts. You’ll have until the Monday prior to the Next Story Tuesday to read the submitted stories & vote for your top three. That gives you two to three weeks to read and vote! Please consider the expert use of the theme word when choosing.

The Winner and the next theme word will be announced the following day, on Wednesday.



A Freestyle Writing Challenge – 10 minutes on the clock…

I was tagged by Sally Cronin at  – who promotes authors, musicians, painters, photographers and shares lots of advice for a healthy lifestyle on her blog. Even as she promotes others, she is an author of many books as well. Check her out, her blog is a smorgasbord of awesome information.

This is what you have to do…

1 Open an MS Word Document

2 Set a stop watch or your mobile phone timer to 5 or 10 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat

3 Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!!!

4 Fill the word doc with as much words as you want. Once you start writing do not stop.

5 Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (its only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules)

6 You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals. However, if you do, it would be best

7 At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.

8 Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nomination (at least five (5) bloggers).


I set my time for 10 minutes (I cannot reread this or I’ll start tinkering).

My challenge is: If you had your time over, what profession would you choose and why?

I had to think about this question as I cannot imagine doing anything differently in my life. I’ve always known what I wanted to do and have gone after it. I wish writing hadn’t taken a backseat to my working life, marriage, a family and divorce but that’s how it goes. I’m back writing now and that’s all that matters.

We live in a small Northern Ontario town. The only office I had seen was the town doctor’s: his receptionist’s desk with patient records and all kinds of paper. I made up my mind I would work in a large office and write a book. Around age eight the cast was set. Everything in my life fell into place one way or another, although not always in the order or manner I anticipated. Let’s face it, like anyone growing into life, impatience dogged me and it still does.

I had friends who couldn’t make a decision about anything, needed to find themselves, were confused about what to do with the rest of their lives and that always perplexed me. On the other hand, I also have believe I was born lucky. The next step always seemed to lead me to the next one and so one. If I ran into difficulties or roadblocks, they didn’t last long. The next thing came along.

I have always been happy as me. No matter who had what, I felt no need to compete. My focus was never the biggest house, car, or a closet full of clothes. More meaningful were a few good friends, lots of books, new experiences both good and bad.

Regrets? I’ve had a few. Possibly that is the human condition, but once one door closed, I never looked back, wasn’t even tempted. Whether this is a good trait or not, I cannot say. I seem to work on the premise once something is over, I file it, shut the door and go to door number two and three and so on.

No. of Words: 331

9 min 23 seconds


These are the people I would like to tag for this challenge, but none are obligated in any way to take part. This is a fun post. Do pass it on.

Sheri Mathews –

John Howell –


 Donna Parker –

Kate Loveton –


Should you accept this challenge, scroll down for your question. Do not peek until you are ready to start typing.


My challenge to YOU:  What is the next technological device the world needs now?



100-Word Challenge for Grown-ups #136

Check out jfb57  for the rules and

This week’s prompt is …it was 50 years ago… plus 100 words.



“Birdie.” Monika halts, hands clasped and eyes narrowed. “Birdie.”

“Huh?” The blonde’s hand snakes to her throat and squeezes the skin. “What?”

“Where were you sweetie?” Monika touches her sister’s shoulder.

“What?” She chews her bottom lip and continues staring through the canopied window.

“Tell me. Please. Why are you tied up in knots?”

Birdie twists around, a smile quivers on her lined face. “It was 50 years ago…”

Monika blinks, and blinks again. “Oh, sweetie. I’m—”

“Mike jilted me and now he wants to meet for coffee. I despise Facebook.”

“Will you go?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“The problem’s you want to—don’t you?”


First Priorities

Our flight will leave, our time, at 6:30 p.m. to Chicago. The flight has triggered lots of excitement already. We get to fidget and walk miles and miles at the airport killing time for over five hours before our departure for China. My travelling friend is already worried we paid cheap, no wonder we’re off to such an auspicious start.

Four and five star hotels

A friend suggested a site of her blogging pal who had been to China (five years ago). A tip in one of her posts said, ‘Learn to squat.’ I bring this up as our tour rep promised all accommodations will be in four and five star hotels. The photograph on the presentation screen showed an ultra-modern toilet and a glassed in shower in the bathroom. One interested couple in attendance had come because friends of theirs had travelled with this tour earlier and loved it. I heard no mention of squatting.

Microsoft Clipart.

Microsoft Clipart.

Of course in five years’ time many changes have occurred in China.

I’ve checked all the hotels we’re booked at during our stay. The bathrooms look like Hollywood movie sets: modern and luxurious. Think Dallas, the series. Of course I checked out comments by previous visitors. Tour people appear to have been delighted. Several, travelling on their own who booked their own hotel (same hotel), complained their bathrooms had mold, were dirty and servers did not understand English. Their bathrooms has windows into the main area and the blinds did not close. What? Indeed, there were several comments like this. Others who had booked their own rooms were happy. Everything’s subjective, right?

Internet access

i read an interesting fact tthat over 600 million people in China have internet access? But did you also know that laptops and desktops, depending who you read, are considered meh? Most everyone prefers a mobile phone. Ah the fast pace of life on-the-go. North America is getting there too, but  the numbers are staggering in China.

Most of the hotels booked for us advertise complimentary WiFi, some in the rooms, and free /available in the lobby or in public areas. One mentioned a five minute walk to an internet café with a five-dollar-an-hour charge.

I plan to unplug while I’m away, but I wanted to know what challenges I might have in contacting my family. As well, once in a while I’ll need to check my e-mail or my Inbox will explode.

A cruise on the Yangtze River for four days and five nights advertises 29 internet stations at a fee of .35 cents a minute, considered low by ship standards. Uh-huh. That’s only $21.00 Canadian per hour. Can’t wait. I’ll take two.

These are my up-to-the-minute top priorities.


Heaven, Hell and Purgatory

I’m slow at the gate, but eventually  I’ll jump in with both feet.

In August I threw my hands up and decided I was worth a Samsung Galaxy Ace II, a student school special no less. I’ve seen the bright and colourful icons on the new phones and felt left behind. Time to upgrade, and I did with a vengeance. The truth is my current tiny cell with a nub for an antenna wasn’t broken but I needed to keep up with new technology not hide behind the old. I have no-one to call, except in an emergency. I have a land line and it rings only on rare occasions. So what? I refused a plan with all the bells and whistles and finagled a 365-day pay-as-you-go-card. Don’t laugh. Finally I’m 21st century-ready if I’m in a spot. If I need to call anyone while away from home.

Whoosh forward four months. Christmas and New Years have come and gone. My older (almost ten year old) granddaughter has graduated from an iPod to an iPad Mini this year. The six-year-old has a tablet. What a waste of money on the one hand, but on the other I know they must keep up with the times.

Apple, iPad Mini

Apple, iPad Mini

“Babcia, everything’s so easy. All you have to do is this and then run your finger across or pretend pinch…” Happy to show me how her iPad worked, she prattled on while my eyes glazed over and my brain turned to thick dehydrated porridge. She gave me that look—that I-knew-you’re-too-too—a smirk.

“Excuse me. I need to visit the lady’s.” I moseyed down the hall, shut the door, paced, and flushed the toilet for good measure. I splashed water on my face, threw my shoulder back and marched back down the hall. By then the girls were into something else in the dining-room.

I popped open my laptop and Googled one computer store after another: Boxing Week Sales were everywhere for iPad Minis. Huh. Used to be specials might be secured on Boxing Day if the supply didn’t run out.

I raised my voice. “I need to go downstairs for another coffee. Be right back.” Nobody noticed my departure.

A new coffee as cover and my Visa card in my pocket, I raced back to my laptop. The day was Monday, December 30th, the afternoon before New Year’s Eve. Time: about 2:00 PM. My fingers raced over the keyboard before stock ran out. I hummed with excitement from head to toe. I didn’t expect my package till after New Year’s Day.

The following morning, my inbox showed confirmation of my purchase plus a tracking number. Regular ground delivery expected: December 31st. Not possible but I couldn’t help tracking all morning. At 11:31 AM the package had been delivered to my neighbourhood mailbox. How does this work? I’m impressed.

Miss. H. wore a Cheshire smile when I told her the news. “I can set it up for you.”

I had to input my e-mail address, then an alternate e-mail, then my life history. “Stop.”

Everything works except for a teeny snag. My security e-mail doesn’t like my password now and I can’t shop at the Apple store yet. I’m anxious to setup my PC Kindle books on my iPad Mini. If I must use electronic means to read e-books let me at least do it from the comfort of my Easy Boy.

Like I said. Slow at the gate but I’m moving forward–somewhat.  Halleluja!