How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


#BlogBattle Week 11

Rachael Ritchey is the originator of this challenge

The prompt this week: …news…

To join in click:


Susan hadn’t been away since her honeymoon twelve years before. Her excitement about the cruise roiled inside her like a pressure cooker ready to blow. There were so many details, concentrating wore her out.

“Harry, you printed the tickets, right?”

“Yes, I said I did.”

“And our passports?” She fumbled in their suitcase rechecking the contents yet again. “I made a list, but can’t find it. Have you seen it anywhere?”

“You worry too much. Come. I think you need a drink. “

“I’ll check on the twins first.  Scotch. Neat. See you in the living-room.”

Long-legged Harry reached her in one step and squeezed her elbow. Dark velvet eyes searched hers, luminous and gentle. Soot black curls hung over his forehead. “Two more days.”

She leaned into his lanky frame and breathed him in, then sighed. Dear Harry. What would I ever do without you?

He found her chin, lifted it with a finger, and caressed her mouth with a feathery kiss. Her face glowed pink. Before she found her voice, he patted her bottom and veered away. “Downstairs.”

Susan closed the twins’ bedroom door. A cell chimed downstairs. Who can that be? She massaged her neck and drifted down the steps, her husband’s side of the conversation muffled at first.

“Right. Yes. Of course. See you then.” He tossed the phone on the sofa.

“Who was that?” She stared wide-eyed at his now furled forehead, curls pushed back. “What’s wrong?”

“That was your dad. They missed their connection.”

“You’re doing that pulling-on-your-lip-thing. What else?” She rubbed her neck again.

Harry shifted his gaze to the tray of liquor bottles on the buffet. “Sit,” he said, “How about that drink?”

“What else?”

“They have an hour’s wait, but may turn back home. Your mother’s feeling unwell.”

“What’s the matter with her?” Hands crossed on her chest the words came out dry and hoarse as if she’d swallowed sand.

“Sounds like flu—they think. A nurse on their flight couldn’t confirm.” He handed her a drink and studied her face.

“But their connection is less than two hours away. They’re almost here.” Tucking wayward blonde hair behind an ear, she stared deep into her glass, as if unsure what to do with it. The errant wisps sprang back.

“Your dad will call when it’s sorted.” He threw an arm around her shoulder. “Take a drink. It’ll calm your nerves.”

Susan raised her glass. Half-way to her lips, the cell chimed. In a couple strides Harry seized the phone and set down his glass. His wife wiped her chin and patted her blouse where it had spilled. She pulled a shirt tail out of her jeans and dabbed at the wet spots.

“Good idea. If you’re sure, Peter… I’ll get a pen.”

She banged down her drink and raced to the kitchen for a pad and pen. Harry whipped them out of her grasp. Phone tucked against his shoulder, he nodded as he wrote. “Fine, I’ll see you before nine. Which terminal? Fine. Fine.”

“Tell me.”

“Where’s your drink? Tut-tut. First take a swallow.” She threw her head back. Harry grabbed the hand with the glass. “Not too fast.” Still she sputtered afterwards and he whacked her between the shoulder blades.

“Your Mom and Dad took a room at the airport hotel and will fly out in the morning. I’ll pick them up myself and cancel their limo for tonight.”

“So, Mom’s better?” Susan rubbed a temple and closed her eyes. “Now that we aren’t waiting up for them, maybe we should call it an early night.”

“My thoughts, exactly. Off you go, I’ll make that call and shut off the lights. Be up in a jiffy.

* * *

Susan crawled out of bed, mouth dry as cotton balls. Bleh. Cheerful birds chirped and tweeted outside the window. She padded to the bathroom to brush her teeth though she had done so the night before.

“Want pancakes for breakfast?” asked Harry, face buried in his pillow. No answer offered, he sat up and surveyed the room. The sheets and blankets were twisted and half on the floor. He checked his cell on the night table. No messages. Good.

Susan gargled and the water in the sink gurgled. She stuck her head around the open door. “You’re awake? Want pancakes? After I shower?”

“Go ahead. I’ll start in the kitchen. No texts. No news, which is good, right?”

* * *

Morning rush hour traffic brutal as usual, Harry arrived in plenty of time. The slip of paper wasn’t in his pocket. He pulled into the first parking lot and punched the number for home.

“Everything, okay? The school bus will be here in a minute.” Susan’s voice squeaked.

“Forgot the paper and can’t remember which terminal, one or three?”

“Where’s the paper? Boys don’t move. I mean it.”

“Living-room or night table.”

“Living-room— It’s two. See you soon.”

* * *

By ten o’clock, she’d paced and length of the living-room half a dozen times, peering out the window every few steps. Where is everyone? I’ll give them five more minutes.

Before Susan snatched the phone, it sprang to life. She blinked, startled. “Harry, where are you guys?”

“This is the drugstore. Your prescription is ready for pickup.”

“Oh! Thanks.”

The phone dropped on the coffee table, she continued to pace. A cruiser crept up the driveway. She was struck stock-still.

The End

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


Day 21: Macau (cont’d)

I tried multi-tasking take pictures, scribble notes, and look around in an effort not to miss anything we passed. While taking pictures, I had a fear of 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 as the driver managed. The check-in area was jam-packed. We were instructed to stand off the side. Our new local guide, Cheryl, and the French guide attended to our registration and room cards. You wouldn’t believe how fast the process took. Our luggage, already in our rooms Tower 2, room 1362, all we had to do was freshen up and the rest of the day was free. Unlike the Sheraton hotel the previous night, this one did not feature the glass wall between the bedroom and bathroom.

From our window (Room 1362, Tower 2), this was our view. Ugly. Cranes everywhere. On a site on the way to our hotel, I counted at least 10 Macau China State Construction cranes. Must be more hotels coming.

  • 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 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
  • 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

Sue and I set off exploring. 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 on the down elevator.

This is the first time we had to find our own dinner. We explored the Food Court on the third floor.  Since we’d seen KFC, MacDonald’s and Starbucks in places already, 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 (without going outside) via an overhead (tube) bridge.

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

The place is massive. Brand name stores everywhere. Six hundred of them. Lots of people but few customers buying up diamonds, exotic perfumes, or outrageous shoes. We were lost but found a map. 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, the food court. All Chinese food. Wait. A Fat Burger. Better not after the raw pork incident. Is that a Pizza Pizza? Nope the logo wasn’t right. We settled for pizza.

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 May 22nd: Macau, Day 21 (cont’d) on to Hong Kong

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

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


On the Yangtze Day 16, Part 7: Ghost City and Stairway to Hell

I had never considered how precious a pen might be. I’d brought four with me and lost one. Almost out of ink, I began worrying what I’d do without one. I liked gel pens but had no idea they run out so fast. At home I’d pull another one out of my basket of dozens. Why hadn’t I brought more?



Cauliflower (lemon flavoured); red kidney beans and chick peas; fruit salad (with bananas, ugh); spicy red leaves (yum); tendons of beef mutton; mixed 5 kind of bean salad

Sliced oranges; cantaloupe (honey dew); whole pears; sliced red cabbage, sliced cucumbers; grape tomatoes; chunks romaine and red cabbage; chopped hard boiled eggs; raisins; real crumbled bacon


French, Italian and Thousand Island (none of these are what we recognize as such)


Rice ball, duck breast in brown sauce; stir fry vegetables, bacon of Sichuan style; baked sweet potato; stewed beef brisket; pasta with mushroom cream sauce; steamed egg; stewed sliced fish in tomato sauce; steamed white rice; duck and pickles soup; cream of corn soup, and buns

* * *

The 3:00 p.m. extra excursion was reinstated: Ghost City Tour and Stairway to Hell (in place of cancelled Goddess Stream Tour previous day).

To visit Hell and Ghost City, we climbed (we were told) about 500 steps. No, it wasn’t continuous. The ground levelled out at intervals and showcased temples and statues and bridges etc. I stopped counting after 10 or 11 steps as I huffed and puffed to keep up with the crowd. With no illusions about completing the ascent, I soldiered on. Talk about a workout in muggy weather yet!

Heaven Hill under Construction

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

Look waayy up! Model of Temple of Hell.

Model Temple of Hell

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

Too many groups crowded around their guides, some with megaphones. It was too noisy and congested. I gave up listening.

The way down sloped at a steep angle and I was careful not to fall on my face. The road was paved and wide enough for a car, but used for traffic. Members of my group had disappeared. Some had lost interest. I came down alone.

At one point I saw no-one and heard only birdsong and my runners thump against the asphalt, then, another set of footfalls clunked behind me. My heart in my throat, I stopped to pretend-fix my laces and caught sight of a man fiddling with his camera. I wasted no time hoofing forward till I went around a bend in the road and saw people milling around. As well, I came upon a disfigured man, lying on the ground begging. This was my second experience since Shanghai.

At the bottom, we’d come through an open market. This time a particular display caught my attention. I stopped and bought a bottle of wine (either Great Wall label or Dynasty). After a brief negotiation, I paid 50 Yuan or $8.30 USD.

Outnumbered thousands to one, I found myself surrounded by Chinese tourists and the loud chatter of Chinese voices. Taking a deep breath, I approached the closest open mini-bus and said the name of our ship with a dramatic question mark attached. The driver nodded. Everyone stared. We waited to fill two more seats and proceeded to the top of more stairs. The driver stopped, I jumped out and booted it down the stairs, down the long walkway to another dark semi-enclosed market where everyone gaped. At least that’s how it felt. I noticed guys eating noodles, bottles of wine on offer (drat), lots of soft drinks, beer cases, and other food stuffs.

Hot and sticky, all I wanted was a shower and to cool off. I’m surprised my legs held me upright after all the stairs I’d scaled in the past couple hours. Aha. I forgot how we’d left for the excursion. I was guided the same way back through two, or was it three, ships anchored side-by-side.

After a quick shower, I went out on the balcony for some air. An almost breeze teased me. Smoking in the state rooms wasn’t allowed and alarms were installed in the ceiling. Puffing outside was okay. Tourists hanging out over their balconies sent smoke clouds and some of the smell settled in our room.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie  (I can’t believe how crooked the imprint is)

Tonight is our last night on the cruise ship. Time to dress up for a fancy Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

This is the only time we had a menu for any meal on the cruise, not even at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner. This was a dress-up affair again and I felt tall in the four-inch spikes.

After dinner we paid up our chits and packed our bags, which were deposited in the main lobby. A new adventure awaited the next day.

 * * *

Additional links:

This link gives brief blurbs about the various ghosts.

This one provides a 4.12-minute tour, but is difficult to understand.

* * * 

Next time on January 30, Chongquin, Day 17, Part 1 (Flight to Guilin)

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

© 2015 All Right Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie


Beijing: Ming Tombs, Day 4, Part 2

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 only one has been excavated (Ding Ling)

Ming Tombs: where buried 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (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



  • 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 crossed my mind 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 declared he had to leave. The driver would take us to the restaurant we were told. 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 rest of the group seated in the high-backed seats in front and 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 us. I thought the young fellow on the bike might have caused an accident. Traffic shifted and changed beside us; yet our bus waited immobile. Why? By now, the whole group craned necks and raised eyebrows around the seats at each other. I felt 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 signalling 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 6ith our tour group name. I thought I’d been so smart. The|Chinese were smarter.

Once seated, 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. 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 suspect.

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



  • 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 bed. I gave up on e-mail.

Finally day's end

Finally day’s end

Next on July 11th, Beijing, Day 5, Part 1: Pearl Stores and Summer Palace

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



Flash in the Pan: Corner

Rain pelted all day. By 10:30, Rose fought a deluge. Lights flashed around the corner.

An accident, she thought.

The row of cars crept. An officer leaned in, almost nose-to-nose, bringing rain.

“Have you been drinking tonight?”

“No, sir!” she said, blinking, brow furled.

“Your car hesitated and weaved back there.” He pointed backwards.

“No, sir. Not me. It’s the rain—recital.” She blew air into his face.

“Go ahead.”

The asphalt appeared greasy; the streetlights shimmering.

Wikimedia Commons Car Crash

This hill is steep

Rose hydroplaned at the bottom, crashing into the cement light post.


Bleak night, altered black.

~ * ~

Click for the rules of this challenge.

The word limit for Corner is 125 words. I used 97.

~ * ~

NaNoWriMo undate:  I know at least one person who can do this in a DAY. My word count to date is 26,846, Day 13. Don’t forget I’m a NaNo VIRGIN (ha ha–sounds GOOD to ME), but, it’s only 8:20 p.m. here. Life insinuates itself, so, I might not be done yet– I have until midnight…


Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Something is going on. I wish I had an idea what or why.

Is anyone experiencing an increase in traffic in their mailbox? Is everyone you follow showing up in your inbox INCLUDING all the followers they have when they comment?

I’t been an eventful afternoon but I don’t have time for all this extra READING, which I can’t help doing because these other comments are in my Inbox after all.

Does anyone know how to get a complaint out to the right party at WordPress so this stops?

Another blogger just put out a lament also:


Baby, It’s C-O-L-D Outside!

Yesterday it rained all day. Like a day in late spring, it was also warm (16 degrees Celsius)—hard to get my head around.

This morning, the world was white as alabaster and the trees looked like Christmas. Snowflakes crowded each other as they raced towards earth, swirling downward—huge, fat and abundant.

Because I don’t understand, I’m a bit worried. What the heck is REALLY going on? Some scientists say bah humbug. Others warn us. What’s believable? The saying goes there are two sides to every story. Are there two sides or is there only one? WHICH one? Is this a warning or is it just the weather repeating itself from another time in history—the Ice Age ? After the Ice Age? What? Maybe I’m just scrambling here. . .

I’m no scientist but I wonder if we shouldn’t all be doing SOME-thing MORE. But what? Where I live in Canada, we’ve had an unusual winter (again after 2010/2011). Today, we had icy roads which caused slowdowns and a tri-zillion vehicle accidents following yesterday’s rain and mild weather. Exits were closed because of pile-ups. Traffic crawled because of road conditions. Even the school bus was late—super late. Thank goodness our next door neighbour decided to take his little guy to school himself after we waited and waited for the school bus. Would I like him to take Hanna too? Yes please and thank you! I had another (sick) little one sleeping in the house so I couldn’t make the trek.

This has been another peculiar winter though a little different from last year. We’ve had (less) snow, only three times this winter. The weather’s been so unseasonal again; little green spring shoots were confused and peeked above the surface several weeks ago. With this sudden cold spell, they’re probably done for. Last year we had snow after the robins had already arrived and a couple of days into the new spring. Little green shoots got disoriented then too. With hardly any snow this past winter, what will the ground be like for planting season this year I wonder?

I know that recently tornados have devastated countless communities and reigned havoc on incalculable innocents in the U.S. I tend to believe that there are also more of those than before. Weather has been reigning countless adverse / unexpected changes EVERY-where. Can we turn a blind eye anymore?

Just like misery loves company, this is food for thought. Just saying . . .


Friday the 13th

There’s a picturesque little town on the shores of Erie Lake called Port Dover. It’s about a two-hour drive from Toronto, Canada. Best known for its shops, boutiques, hotels and B&Bs, in warm summer weather, throngs of people arrive from the surrounding area and beyond to lie on the beach or swim in the Lake. It’s also a popular destination for both Americans and Canadians with yachts, cabin cruisers and sailboats.

Popular must do visits are to the Erie Beach Hotel known for its Surf n Turf (perch + steak) and famous celery bread. Of long ago fame is the Arbor for its foot-long hotdog, with the freshest and most varied toppings and the absolute best French fries. Sadly, and in my humble opinion, these two eating experiences are a shadow of their former hay days but what do I know?

The most press and copy that Port Dover generates are Friday the 13th bike rallies. This year there will be three Friday the 13ths: January 13, April 13 and July 13, all 13 weeks apart. That’s a lot of bikers and a ton of money in revenue. That’s a lotta beer too!  

These rallies began with a bunch of friends on November 13, 1981 and have grown to massive proportions since. The beer tents are setup despite the frigid weather and thousands of diehards are expected. It’s a tradition. Once you’ve attended one as a biker (or not), you’d be hard pressed to miss the event and all your biker friends. Don’t get me wrong, the event is open to anyone with or without a hog. In fair weather as many as 30,000+ people decend on this sleepy town.

Are you superstitious? Check these out if you dare:–very-superstitious-3-friday-the-13ths-this-year


Highway Robbery and Then Some

I NEVER go downtown. I hate the traffic, the bumper-to-bumper stop-start, the police sirens and ambulances screaming to get you out of their way, the blaring of horns by impatient drivers, the stink of exhaust. Most of all, I so detest paying for parking downtown. Sure, meter parking on the street is cheaper but when’s the last time you actually saw someone leave so a body could slip right into the spot without causing a disturbance of untold proportions? When a spot suddenly opens up—a miracle—it’s mind-boggling that three other cars immediately materialize from every direction jocking for that one slot. Depending on the meter, the maximum you might be able to feed it may be enough for either two or maybe three hours at a time. Will that be long enough or might you get a ticket if you get held up?

Today was one of those days. I couldn’t win. The closest parking lot to my destination, a medical building, was full already anyway. I burned unnecessary gas driving up and down the side streets hoping for divine intervention to no avail. There were two other suckers double-parked next to meters that’d run out of time, I expect, waiting for the owners to appear and save them from more cruising around the block. I gave up after having to go around THEM, illegally I’m sure, according to the traffic act.

I chose another parking lot a couple of blocks away where I noticed some empty spots. Ahhh. Relief, although short-lived. There was a parking attendant, a live person, instead of one of those machines you put your money into for the estimated time you think you’ll need and then get a printed ticket to leave on your dash to prove you’ve paid. Are they cheaper than the lot with the live attendant? I can’t say as it’s been years since I got stuck using one. To park, I had to leave a $15.00 DEPOSIT. When did that happen? It used to be you had to leave a deposit later in the day, closer to closing time but this was still morning. What if I hadn’t had that much on me? Luckily, I found a twenty in my bag but I still resented forking out the dough.

The charge was $2.00 for each half-hour. You might understand I bristled with indignation but what could I do? I was gone exactly 64 minutes: one hour and four minutes. Not that I liked it but I was prepared, out of necessity, to pay four dollars for the hour but I took exception to having to pay another $2.00 for four minutes. I fumed and grit my teeth when the attendant handed me the balance of $9.00 from my deposit. I call that highway robbery and I didn’t like it. I’m a senior but did anybody give a hoot? Nope. What, no discounts for seniors? I was robbed  in broad daylight and it was legal. It wasn’t even lunchtime yet! Crap! That’s what going downtown gets you.