How the Cookie Crumbles

Life in the fast and slow lanes after SIXTY-FIVE


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#BlogBattle Week 32 – Prompt: Mars

To join  and / or meet the wizard behind this challenge click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Rules:

  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 linkback to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/orinclude 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!

Each winner will receive this awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage:

************************************************************

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Choices

Part 4

Sporting a practiced smile, Victoria smoothed Sylvie’s brow. “Sleep.” She straightened like an automaton and headed for the door. Hand on the jamb, she glanced over her shoulder. Good. The girl’s breathing sounded steady and even.

Heart strumming like a Spanish guitar, she sprinted down the hall to the kitchen. A car door slammed. She seized her purse and coat off the chair, but froze when a key slid into the lock and Steve bounded in, but halted with a jerk at the top of the steps, a foot suspended in mid-air. Cocky as a barnyard rooster, he plastered on a smirk.

“To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?” He wiggled bristly black brows pantomiming the likes of Groucho Marx of vaudeville and slapstick fame.

Clearing her throat, Victoria proceeded to throw on her coat. “Maybe you should first ask where your wife is. She’s at the hospital with the baby.”

“What’s wrong with my son?”

“All I know is he has a high fever and won’t stop crying.” She bit her lip. With the little contact she’d had him, she’d never looked at his face. She did now, startled by his puzzled voice. He had that suave dark look about him Latin men exuded, but on him it came off as arrogant. A curl hung down his forehead adding to the Sal Mineo look she’d seen in old movie magazines her mother still hoarded.

“Your wife took a cab to Emerge. I’ll stay with the girls if you want to find her.”

“I wouldn’t mind spending more time with the girls either.” He crossed burly arms across a broad chest, leaned against the door frame, and snorted.

“Keep your tone down.” Fists clenched till her nails cut into her palms, Victoria listened for activity from the bedrooms. “It’s the least I can do as repayment for the other day.”

“Cozy. Already we’re exchanging favors. What’s next? Christmas cards?”

Mouth flapping like a fish out of water, words failed her. Victoria slapped her purse and tried again.” What is wrong with you? Where have you been living? Mars?”

Steve rocked back on his heels squinting down his nose at her. “Little Miss Perfect has all the answers.”

“Wha…?”

“I got a wife needs me.” Nostrils flared, he blew a noisy breath. Color rose in his cheeks as he spun away and down the stairs in a huff.

Victoria fanned trembling fingers against her breastbone. What’s his problem? This has to stop.

Lost in thought, muffled voices dragged her back to the present. Whipping off her coat, she tip-toed towards the sound. Talking, then laughter. Sylvie wasn’t in her bed. Victoria gasped, a fist to her mouth. By the light of the half-opened bathroom door, she made out two forms in Sarah’s bed, her older sister’s head on her shoulder while she mumbled in her sleep. Mesmerized by the sleeping twosome, she remembered three sisters cramped in a bed during her own youth, out of necessity not choice.

She dared peek into the bathroom mirror and shrank back. She might as well be naked: face pale as a ghost without her usual makeup and lips bloodless and grey as a corpse. Instead of crying with humiliation, she hastened to laugh inwardly. This is last minute after all, an emergency.

Back in the kitchen, she paced, looked around for a book, a magazine. Anything. The wall clock above the art-cluttered fridge showed 9:15 p.m. She flicked on the light in the living-room. A stack of movie magazine littered the coffee table. She laughed out loud. Carol and her mother were cut from the same cloth. She grabbed the heap and settled into a kitchen chair. First, tea called to her.

Victoria checked the kettle, plucked a mug from the drain board, and rummaged in her purse for the Ziploc bag of teabags she carried. The kettle shrieked. She poured the water and jumped sky-high at a disruptive jangle. Water spilled all over the counter. Oh great! It buzzed again; the ringing insistent. She threw a tea towel on the flood and followed the noise.

“Hello?” She stretched and twirled the black cord around her fingers. “How’s the baby?” Victoria let go and watched the rubber covered wiring spring back to its original curly shape. “Wonderful news—yes, he left here about ten minutes ago.” The clock on the fridge wall read 9:33 p.m. “See you soon.”

Victoria cleaned up the wet mess on the counter. The tea cooled past her liking, she drank it anyway, rinsed the mug and returned it to its last place. The magazines returned to the coffee table, she dropped into a kitchen chair to wait already checking her cell for missed calls or messages. Nothing. A yawn reminded her how long the day had been.

A distant, but building drone, fragmented the silence. Soon the noise drowned out the steady tick tock of the clock. A car door slammed, and then another. A murmur of voices outside and then inside the kitchen. The baby asleep, Carol smiled wide, eyes shining. Dressed and prepared to flee, Victoria squeezed her arm as she headed to the door.

“Wait. Don’t go yet. Back in a sec.”

Steve gave her a darting gaze and disappeared down the hall.  Victoria shifted her weight and admired the floor.

“Would you like tea and a sweet?”

“Maybe another time. You must be tired. Goodnight.”

Nerves dancing a rumba, Victoria hastened down the drive. She blew out a breath unaware she’d been holding it. She slipped her key into the lock.

Nothing turned. Nothing touched. Nothing moved.

She stomped on the rubber door mat and flapped her hands.

“Problems?” The nasal voice dripped with sarcasm over the low privet fence, separating their properties.

To be continued

 

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

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62 Comments

#BlogBattle Week 30 – Prompt: Reach

To meet the mind behind this challenge click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Rules:

  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 linkback to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/orinclude 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!

Each winner will receive this awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage:

********************************************************************

I’ve decided to expand last week’s story titled Choices. Read Part 1 here.

 

“Sit tight.” He thundered past to turn around. The shake and rattle faded with distance, but not for long.

Oncoming headlights of a single car pierced the shroud of hammering rain against her windshield. The wipers quit upright in mid-sweep as if stunned. Steve’s car howled closer behind her and stopped alongside. Victoria bit her lip, but scurried out of her car into the waiting and open door beside her. The stink of stale cigarettes, wet rags, and rancid grease punched her in the face before she shut the door. Phew.

“Good thing you came around the corner close to the sidewalk. I’d hate to push your car in this rain. ” Where to? His eyes roamed her huddled frame without apology.

“The Bradley Assurance Building downtown. Please.”

“Didn’t your mother never tell ya to look the person you’re talking to in the eye? What a scared little mouse you are.” He hooted and bobbed.

The grating voice in her ear over the earsplitting broken-Mack-truck noise gave her a headache. Purse to chest, she withdrew a hand to press against the drumbeat in her head. She sucked in a deep breath through her mouth, snapped on the seatbelt, and drew herself up straighter in the bucket.

“Let’s not talk.”

“Get over yourself, will ya?” He whipped a smoke out of his breast pocket.

“You’re not going to smoke that!”

He smirked and narrowed his eyes. “My car. My rules. Seems to me I’m already doing you a favor—What’s that saying about beggars and such?” He tapped the cigarette tip on the steering wheel and stuck it into the corner of his mouth.

Victoria sank deeper into the seat. Someone’s horn sounded over the cacophony in her head. She peered out the window. The traffic around them had swelled. Rain still swamped the windshield. Whish-whoosh, the wipers labored. Swoosh-whish. The wail of an ambulance drew closer. Steve eased to the curb with the rest of the traffic. He didn’t light the smoke.

“If ya hafta know, I quit for the third time a week ago. Sucking on these babies calms me down, ya know.” He turned to her with a lecherous grin. “You look like a drowned cat…”

She flinched and sidled closer to the passenger door, forehead to the cool window. The ambulance passed and commuters snaked forward again.

“Touchy-touchy. I’m telling ya like it is so you can fix yourself when you get to work.”

“Where are you going? This is the wrong way.” Victoria hated the shrill sound of her voice.

Eyes ready to burst out of her head, she jerked forward, hands raised toward the dash. The seatbelt restrained her.

Steve withdrew the soggy cigarette and shook with silent laughter. “I knew it. You’re a scared little mouse, aren’t ya? I’m going around the block to drop you in front of the building, not across the street.”

“Oh.”

“About your car? Want me to take care of it?”

“No-no. I’ll call the auto club. You’ve been more than helpful. Your wife must be worried what’s keeping you. Can’t thank you enough.” The front door of her building came into view. Soggy pedestrians with dripping umbrellas high-stepped around each other in squelching shoes.

Steve flicked on his signal and edged to a sloshing stop and flung his hand on the back of her bucket seat. He jiggled black caterpillar brows at her. “Oh, I’m sure I’ll think of something.”

“What are you—sixteen? It’s a figure of speech. Doesn’t mean what you’re thinking.” She wrenched open the door and stumbled into a river of streaming water searching for any opening along the curb.

“Careful now.” He snickered.

Without a backward glance, she slammed the door and sloshed her way up the stairs joining bedraggled employees rushing through the revolving doors. She charged forward, collapsing her umbrella and squeezed into an already crowded elevator. I hope my presentation goes better than my ride with Steve.

* * *

Dry and warm after a long disheartening day, Victoria curled up on the sofa, a tall Spanish coffee on the side table, a book, and Marmaduke in her lap. The now cold rain riddled the windows as if tired from plunging all day. She stroked the cat’s silky head. He leaned in against her palm and purred in a stupor. Now and again he shivered in delight. “Aren’t you my sweet, sweet boy?” One eye opened to examine her, a look of scorn on his face. He gave a heavy sigh and closed it.

“What’s with you, cat? Little Sarah next door said you look like a cow. You didn’t make faces at her.” The Tom shifted and coiled into a compact rope, paw pressed over his eyes. “A cow, she said. Good point, I think.” She poked the fur ball in a shoulder, but he ignored her.

“What a horrible day it’s been. Don’t let me start about our dreadful neighbor. I wanted to reach over and wipe the smirk off his face. Permanently.”

“Shh. What’s that?” Her knees bounced skyward; the cat bolted to his favorite window. Victoria’s heart hammered in her ears. Tiny hair she didn’t know she had, prickled on the back of her neck. Chest tight, her knees turned to water when her feet hit the floor. Rain fell with a lazy trickle now. Someone or something was poking around outside. Thank goodness she’d closed the drapes. No. The silly cat left an open space when he jumped on the window sill. She grabbed her cell, and paraphernalia, and switched off the lights on her way upstairs.

Nobody’s home next door. They’re at the parent-teacher meeting at the school. What on earth did they have to do with anything?

It wasn’t them she meant. It was Steve. She didn’t trust him.

 

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


87 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grown-ups – Week #151

For information how to join, click link below

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week151/

This week’s prompt is …as I rose in the dark… +100 words

100wcgu-72

WHO-WHO?

I tossed and turned, but sleep eluded me. A quivering shadow snaked past the window without crunching footfall. An owl hooted. As I rose in the dark, the front door exploded. Books and debris battered the walls and floor. Knick-knacks smashed and glass shattered. I dove beneath the covers.

Breath ragged and muscles cramped, sweat shot out of my every pore. I smelled bad. I’d once heard this cottage was haunted but— A Halloween trick, then?

“Derek—that you?”

The door slammed shut. Hair drenched, I peeked out and gasped air. Flashlight beams flickered about.

“Who’s there?”

Creak.

“Why are you in my bed?”

“Uncle Frank?”

 

© 2014 TAK


51 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grown-ups – Week #141

To join in the fun, check  out

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week141/

This week’s prompt is ‘but there are so many seeds’ plus 100 words

100wcgu-72

SEEDS

Morgan paced, red lips set in a thin flat line. Clickety-clack, click. Three steps forward; two steps back. “How can she get away with this?”

“The public won’t have a clue.”

She whirled a scarlet nail towards her daughter, eyes black as onyx. “But there are so many seeds of half-truths and outright lies here.”

“This book is trash! Forget it.”

“Grievous insinuations—still, she didn’t name names…”

“So. Is it true about Warren Beatty? Who’s Cesare?”

“Ssh.” Morgan peered over her shoulder. “Where’s your father?”

“Why are you whispering?” Alexa jiggled flawless, penciled brows. “Spill.”

“Nothing to tell.” Arms folded, Morgan raised her designer chin.


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Christmas, Borrowers, and Squirrels

Our traditional Polish celebration called Wigilia has changed since 2010. That year we had a funeral for our Mom on the 24th instead. Since then, we cannot replicate Christmas Eve without her, and I do not want to try. I share a house with my daughter and her family. They live on the main floor and I live in the finished apartment in the basement. We often accommodate large gatherings in my large open space.

100_0517

This year, our third Christmas Eve without Mum has been the least traditional: an open house instead of a sit-down dinner. About 30 or so family members attended. My family is small, my son-in-law’s is not. The eight-foot table in my dining-room (area) sagged creaking beneath the weight of various finger foods: meat balls, devilled eggs, pizza bites, veggies and dip, turkey and ham cucumber and cream cheese roll-ups, antojitos, veggies and dip, bruschetta, a pickle / olive platter, cheese and kielbasa tray,  cabbage rolls, and pierogi to name a few. Many items didn’t make it to the table; there was too much food. After eats, the Polish kids (six grandchildren) opened gifts with squeals and mumbled thank yous. The rest of the guests watched, intrigued. My family had travelled and hour and a half to attend and the adults exchanged gifts as well, which is the norml on this night anyway. As happens when you have a large crowd of people in one area, various small groups form. Two of my sisters with their husbands and myself hung around the island in the kitchen. Not uncommon in my house, the subject of books came up. My six-year-old granddaughter had been holding court in another part of the room but wandered over to see why we were so excited. She whispered, “Babcia, did you tell them about The Borrowers (I had given the girls a copy a week previous). “Ah…no. You tell them.” “No, you.” “I believe they’d like to hear it from you. It’s your book,” Lily sprinted away. We adults continued our lively discussion about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (by Rebecca Skloot). Lily returned, flashing the heavy book over her head with both hands. “Have you guys read this book about The Borrowers?” The adults stopped and shook their heads. “It’s about tiny people who live under the floor and steal things because they can’t buy them and believe they are borrowing, not stealing.” She handed the book around. The adults oohed and awed. Then, she grabbed it back and disappeared, eyes aglow, pleased she had enlightened the booklovers in the room.

100_0518

“What just happened?” someone asked. No explanation was necessary though. Everyone knew about our dramatic Lily. As the evening wound down, guests collected their paraphernalia and the room emptied. Lily came back downstairs dragging a green garbage bag. “I came to get my stuff.” I watched her, half-curious. “Why isn’t your sister helping you? That bag looks heavy.” She shrugged and threw the bag over her shoulder, staggering beneath the weight of its contents. “Need some help?” “No, I got it.”

* * *

Before I crashed for the night I’d noticed one of my gifts was missing, a red sweater from one of my sisters. Lily must have squirreled it away in her bag because she found my box in the vicinity of her Christmas stash. What’s hers is hers even when it isn’t because she likes to stockpile her belongings in her bedroom away from prying eyes and roving fingers. That’s our Lily. Do you have any squirrels or borrowers in your family? What event(s) colored your Christmas?


27 Comments

Only Two Weeks Until Christmas

Are you still scrambling, as am I, checking off lists and / or scratching your head? Are you in a panic for that one stocking stuffer—something unexpected and special—the icing on the cake?

What the heck do you get Aunt Mary, or Betsy, or Uncle Phil? They have everything, right? I would like to make a suggestion.

First of all, sit down and take a deep breath. Feel better? I thought you might. I do not have a crystal ball and anyway, I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I’d likely drop and break it before I learned to read the messages within, but YOU can work some magic.

It is no mystery I am proud to suggest you click on over to http://redmundpro.com/book-store/ftp5/ and order copies of any one or all of the sizzling Flash Anthologies you’ll find at your fingertips.

Hurry. Time’s a-wasting and Christmas will not wait. Give the gift of laughter, bewilderment and surprise: small morsels wrapped inside as few as 50  and as many as only 150 words.

Go. Make your favorite people happy. If you wish to buy flash ebooks, use the code GIMME10 for 10% off through this month. Don’t forget #1 is always free.

OF SPECIAL NOTE:  Many of the authors of these anthologies donate their payments to MAGIC Foundation. http://magicfoundation.org which works around the world with children with growth and genetic disorders. True, yes?

Hurry while there is time. Check the right-hand bar on this page for a preview of all the lovely covers. There are now five to choose from.  Get them all. The latest is Finding the Path, but don’t stop there.


36 Comments

Freedom Daze

Both grandkids are in school all day as of this week. The younger one is in Grade One now.

All summer as I babysat, I felt I accomplished nothing and began to dream about this fall. The extra time I’d have to myself had me levitating. Lunch or coffee with friends any time I want as long as I’m at the bus stop when school’s out.

So far, this week’s been a mirage. Monday was a holiday; Tuesday, the first day back to school. Wednesday was my bookstore shift. I had a meeting Thursday and had to rush for the bus. That was the same day my dental office called to change next week’s appointment to Friday (today) at 9:00 a.m.  Of course the school bus was late this morning, as was I. Then, the dentist pulled a White Rabbit act from Alice in Wonderland.

Hurry up and wait.

Microsoft Clipart

Microsoft Clipart

I finally straightened up my house for my granddaughter’s sixth birthday this past Sunday. I hadn’t noticed the accumulation of books, notebooks and paper. Mountains of the written word everywhere: on end tables, on my small writing desk in the kitchen, the coffee table and all over my eight-foot dining-room table. I promised I’d tackle the job this week with all the extra time I’d have. I planned to file and trash. I’ve managed none of the above.

Who was I kidding? Have I begun to knock down Paper Mountains and de-clutter piles of junk? Not yet. I’m still having trouble resurrecting my hidden treasures in preparation for the birthday party.

This is a new week. What have I accomplished today? I read blogs and commented. That’s my full-time job now. Oh, I managed to make two pots of coffee and grabbed some lunch. I didn’t go out but came straight home after my last-minute rendezvous with the tardy dentist.

I haven’t even had time to catch up on any reading all day. I did manage to entertain Lady Gaga, my cat, when she insisted on my attention. We played peek-a-boo for which she has an extraordinary fondness. And she likes me. How could I refuse when she sprinted onto my lap and pressed her check against mine, inviting a hug?  I adore my little fur-ball so we sat and mused together for a while.

This buzz of freedom might not look any different than it did before both grandchildren were in school. Even if I don’t accomplish any more than a hill of beans with this extra time, maybe I won’t feel so whacked at the end of the day. I must reserve energy for more than going cross-eyed reading posts all day. Maybe I’ll accomplish something for a change: finish projects, read a book, write something interesting.

For the past seven years since I retired, the hours in my day are shorter than ever and it’s not because I have time to nap.


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Hear Hear. It has Arrived!

When I’m excited, I jump up and down, although I shouldn’t because my knees are no longer elastic and can’t take the shock. Another idea is to celebrate, but how is anything fun when done alone? I know! I’ll share the good news with you, my fellow bloggers.

The mailman delivered my copy of Flashes from the Bistro. I opened the package and sat down as soon as I turned the first page. Then another and another. I grinned, shivered and giggled out loud. Hooked, that’s what I was. I had to tell you where to find these unusual visualizations of the twenty-six authors within.

The vinaigrettes in this anthology consist of as many as 150 to less than 50 words. No, you won’t find recipes or tips on how to run an eatery, but minute stories to tease, unsettle, and entertain instead. Some of the stories are delicious, while others are a little dark yet impossible to resist, and you’ll find twists and turns where you least expect them.

I can describe the gems inside, but I want you to be surprised firsthand. You see how my enthusiasm is hard to contain?

ftpfbsc

Click here to take a leisurely tour.

In addition, you will find other books by various noteworthy authors. Go now. Check it out. You’ll be delighted, I’m sure. See a format you like?

Don’t forget to check out the free book bin on your way out.


42 Comments

Move Over Oprah

I’m too easy—and maybe simple too. The absolute truth is I know I’m easy to please. Maybe not quite that easy, still, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

When I was much younger, I could never make up my mind about anything—so many choices you see. Also, because anything was possible, I had a problem making up my mind. I drove more than one cashier in the variety store insensible with impatience while I chose penny candy on the occasion I had a quarter to spend. That’s all behind me now. These days, I don’t need much other than the basics. In no particular order, I also enjoy wine, books, a phone and, of course, access to the Internet (which is iffy around here of late).

Now what excite me are the little things.  Allow me to borrow a cliché: Do small things amuse small minds? Nothing’s wrong with my mind; I prefer an uncomplicated life now: quiet and unassuming.

Microsoft Clipart

Microsoft Clipart

Permit me to spill my guts. My latest discovery is the humble can opener. I used to have an electric one in my last house (attached at eye-level over the sink), but when I moved, I decided not to deface my awesome new kitchen cupboards. I stuck it out with an old-fashioned manual opener until it became too blunt, I suppose, and cranking on that useless device made my eyes bleed wrecked my fingers.

I kept forgetting to buy a new one. A few weeks ago, I chucked the rusted old pain-in-the-wrists and bought a new one: Starfit in white; under $10.00; works smooth as butter; slices off the whole top of the can, not just the lid; painless to use—and whisper quiet. It was love at first sight.

Starfit

Starfit

And now, every time I need to open a can—which sad to say isn’t often—I smile and turn pink with pleasure. I pat my new domestic-device-friend and we get the job done.

See what I mean? I’m easy to please, and when I’m happy, I’m over-the-top ecstatic. If only everything in life was this simple. Sigh.

I cannot afford even one of Oprah’s favourite things, but do I care? I prefer the simple life now. Should Oprah want one as well, they can be found anywhere.

< * >

What should you replace but keep putting off?

< * >

Please note:  This is not a paid endorsement. I’m just sharing my enthusiasm.


48 Comments

Plan A, B, and C

What’s going on with my fingers? Have I somehow rubbed off the prints we’re all endowed with at birth? I know you can’t see them, but I always pictured these invisible lines as working the way the rubber fingers we wore at work (on our forefinger), to flick through lots of paper, or to count piles of money.

Here’s a crazy idea. Maybe these little digits need a light sanding. You know, like roughing up old walls to help new primer or paint stick? Don’t mind me, when I’m desperate almost anything is worth a try.

Some days, I have no problem at all. My attempt to turn the page of a magazine, newspaper or the pages of a book is successful; other days I’m all thumbs. I pinch the page at the bottom corner and rub using my thumb on the top side and my forefinger and middle finger on the bottom. Nothing.

Microsoft Clipart

Microsoft Clipart

Plan B: I wet my forefinger (I lick it when no-one’s looking—don’t tell) and try again. By now I’m not only frustrated, I see red. Why won’t the stubborn pages separate? I don’t swear as a rule yet a string of words I’ve never heard before spew out of my mouth and surround my head like a blue cloud.

Time for Plan C, the last and most ridiculous endeavor: blow at the bottom outer corner of the paper. For no particular reason, and a surprise to me, on occasion this works. I haven’t resolved why, and this also makes me wild.

In a coffee shop not long ago, I opened a novel to enjoy with my Java. I noticed a man close-by, reading. I don’t like to intrude but sometimes I’m uncouth. Seeing a stranger anywhere, with a book in his or her hand or underneath an arm, is enough excuse to strike up a conversation, “Whatcha reading?” This time I didn’t get a chance, though.

This man—about my age, maybe a day or two older—appeared immersed in his hardcover. Darn if he didn’t experience the same challenge of turning pages as I have. How is it he was familiar with my Plans A, B and C? As he blew the pages apart, I almost laughed out loud and had an urge to clap, but I restrained it. I may be ill-mannered by asking total strangers silly questions, but I wasn’t about to call attention to myself. It was a comfort I’m not the only one with this affliction..

I’m still stumped why I can’t turn pages more often now than in the past. Are my no-longer-agile-fingers to blame, or can I use the excuse it’s the paper’s fault?

A light bulb just went off: the next time I’m in this fix, I’ll stick my fingers into the jam jar before I pinch the pages. I’m positive this will work. Why hadn’t I thought of this before rather than struggle through all my hit-or-miss Plans?

Do you have an answer to this dilemma?