How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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#BlogBattle – Week 25

Check out the originator of this challenge at

#BlogBattle

The rules are easy:

  1. 1000 words max
  2. fictional tale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG (no more than PG-13) Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered around the theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainment value!
  6. State the Genre of your story at the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story,put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post (it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

~ * ~

This week’s prompt:  Legumes

Genre: General Fiction

Tonight’s Canning

What a life!

“You all can finish up. I’m going to start supper.” With one swipe of a sleeved forearm, Annie wiped perspiration from her brow and shut off the tractor.

She had done it all during her younger days, and thrived on the heat, an aching back and sore muscles. Nowadays, ten hours at a stretch were too long—heck, even eight hours were too much. The extra padding she carried now might have something to do with her discomfort, but then shouldn’t the fact she was now shorter and closer to the ground make up for it?

Weary to the bone, she trudged towards the house. Wide-brimmed hat cast off, she swatted the air to disperse the thicker dust off her face. “You’ve been a stinker today,” she said to the sun. In answer it sagged like an orange-yellow egg yolk down a white-washed, gleaming wall. “This old sack of bones needs a bath and a tall glass of lemonade.” An old border collie raised her head from the floor of the wrap-around veranda, barked once and lowered her muzzle again, eyes hazy but attentive.

“Been a trying day in the shade has it dog?” Annie laughed at her wit, a coarse sandpaper sound, and slapped a knee with her straw hat. Hauling on the wood railing, she hoisted her squat frame up the steps, stopping to pet the old dog. Pepper took this as an invitation. “Come in then. The water in your bowl will be cooler inside.”

With a sigh, she scanned the basket-cluttered counter of legumes: soybeans, butter beans, regular bush beans, all awaiting canning before she laid head to pillow. Pepper swayed on arthritic hips, shuffling towards the tempting water bowl, but slurped with energy and gusto. The old stone farmhouse was cool inside, and shielded its inhabitants from the relentless sun, but not when the oven was on. “Go to it, old girl. I’m going to cool myself.”

* * *

Annie returned clean and refreshed. Sleeves pushed up, she made no unnecessary movements. She had deposited three whopping chickens in the oven on slow heat after lunch. Their doneness fragrant in the air, she smiled and relaxed. Potatoes and carrots peeled, she husked fresh field corn and readied a deep pot. Soon elbow deep in beans and pulses while supper cooked, she hummed a tuneless ditty. The dog snored and passed wind beneath the wooden table. Steam swirled over the stove from the enamel water bath canner. Annie wiped her drenched brow and overheated face with a fresh towel. Dishes and cutlery in a plastic crate, she then set the table outside beneath the maple where the temperature had dropped as the sun dipped lower. Where is everybody? I’m starving.

As if in answer, ten workers—three of them teenage girls—plus her husband and two sons straggled across the yard. Though they had running water in the house, all heads and necks dripped water from the handy water pump around the corner to the house. “What’s to eat, woman?” Her silver-haired husband grinned and exchanged a one-two boxing maneuver with his adult son. The younger of the boys punched his father’s arm and raced to the table where he didn’t sit, but hovered.

The men whistled and hooted and picked their spots, but younger son and the girls followed Annie into the kitchen for the food.

“You all enjoy. I need to finish tonight’s canning. Lots more needs doing tomorrow.”

“Annie. At least take time to eat.” Her husband caught her arm as she swept past. “You need a break. For me?”

“In a minute, okay? The jars need to come out of the bath. I have more two short batches tonight.” She patted his shoulder and proceeded towards the veranda swinging her hips like a much younger woman. Whoops and howls followed in her wake.

Pepper had slipped outside unnoticed. No longer capable of taking the stairs, she poked her snout between the porch’s railings whining for attention from the diners. “Don’t worry, precious. I haven’t forgotten you.” Annie leaned over with effort to pat the black head. “Hold on, girl.” The door slapped behind her. The relaxed comradery around the outside dinner table continued. Someone had plugged in the lanterns against the diminishing light.  “You want pies, come and get them when you’re ready.”

The dog fed and sprawled on the porch outside, Annie focused on her work. She continued to remove the processed jars. The next batch was ready for blanching and freezing this time. Perspiration dripped into her eyes. The tongs for lifting required more concentration now. Her required reach seemed higher and felt heavier with each jar she removed. She swiped a hand across her forehead. Three more jars to go. Her arms leaden and wrists straining, Annie struggled, determined to finish.

A spine-chilling scream quashed the joviality outside. The tinkle of shattered glass. A loose chair sent crashing. The scream other-worldly, never-ending. A heavy thud…

Father and sons tore up the stairs.

The dog howled as if scalded.

The End

What are pulses?

http://www.pulsecanada.com/food-health/what-is-a-pulse

~ * ~

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

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Flash in the Pan – Football

Brutus shuffled, his knees stiff as crowbars and feet far apart. Harris poked him in the ribs, his eyes blazed and cheeks flushed. “Hey, hey, hey. Lookit. The lineup’s down the sidewalk. Good thing we arrived early.”

“Poor chumps in the rain.” Brutus stifled a low groan. “This standing is killing me.”

“Why’d you come if your knees are acting up?””

“Took Tylenol 3s but they haven’t kicked in. Damn wet weather.”

“You should drop maybe fifty or eighty pounds. Your doc never tell ya?”

An eye drooped, Brutus exhaled a gust of coffee breath. “You never played football, you don’t know. Once you’re crippled and can’t move, you end up like this.”

Microsoft Clipart

Microsoft Clipart

“Yeah. Got an idea. It’s the playoffs, right? Say we buy at least six extra tickets.”

“To scalp?”

“Easy money, man. Provide and collect.”

“Could backfire…”

“One day tickets will be sold online.”

“Don’t do it, Harris.”

~ * ~

The Winter Quarter of Flash in the Pan is here. The theme: Boys and Their Toys. For the rules and how to join, click: http://mommasmoneymatters.com/flash-fiction/

The word limit for Football is 150 words. I used every last one.


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Dust to Dust – Part 2

  https://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/dust-to-dust/    (previous)

***

Thursday, December 19, 10:00 a.m.

I’ve thought of nothing else for the past two days and expect to conclude my business at The Funeral Home today. Rick has called after our last meeting and left a message about all the numbers he’d worked out. I’m sure he’s made some horrible mistake and plan to go over the itemized list with care.

I arrive a couple of moments early. This time the parking lot is empty except for two other cars, unlike my last visit when the lot was half-full and an attendant opened the door when I arrived. My guess is no-one is in residence or there are no services this morning. Why am I thinking about these details? Don’t think. Finish your business and get the hell out of here.

I am about to drop into a comfy chair when Rick comes around the corner. “Come in. Come in,” he says as if this is a social visit and we are old friends.

No sooner do I take a seat at the table in the same meeting room as last time when a lady arrives and hands me a steaming cup of coffee. “Thank you.” I’m startled and a little floored by today’s efficiency. I can’t help wonder if today is a busy day and they want to push me through or, and I can’t help myself—that’s the way my brain works—they want to hustle me through before I change my mind. Well, business is business, right? A cartoon cloud hovers overhead of a skillful and seasoned used-car salesman: keep talking and don’t let them think till the dotted line is signed.

We begin with small talk which soon irritates me because we’ve already been there last time. I don’t want to be friends; I have something important on my mind. I’ll never see you again, I hope, and not even then.

morgueFile free photos

morgueFile free photos

“I’d like to see a breakdown of the numbers you quoted over the phone.”

“I haven’t printed up the invoice yet in case you have some adjustments to make.”

I shake my head. “I want the cremation, but don’t understand why the cost is so high for a pine box, a shroud and a small service. I’ve decided I don’t want the DVD, which should cut out another $500.00.”

“That’s been removed. I’ll print out the breakdown. Excuse me a minute. How’s your coffee?”

“Great and I’m fine, thank you.” How I’ve mellowed. This is a business transaction after all. Think numbers and negotiate, accept or reject.

I sit and wait. And wait. What’s taking Rick so long? What’s happened to the ‘Slam- bang-thank-you-ma’am’ service when I arrived?

Good thing I’d brought a book to pass the time. Rick returns. I’m anxious to close this chapter and go home. If I close my eyes I know I’ll slide off the chair and into an exhausted sleep. He’s all business. Is it because my impatience is evident or is it because I look the wreck I feel?

We go over the numbers. I’m flabbergasted. Everything I’d agreed to is in black and white. Each service and every single person has his or hand out for a piece of the pie. I think of vultures.

***

Next week I’ll go through the breakdown of expenses. I’m told years ago an invoice showed one figure: the total. The breakdown may shake you up somewhat as it did me. As well, funeral expenses have doubled every ten years over the past 30 years. Some points I want to leave with you to ponder:

  1. Should you buy life insurance to cover funeral expenses? Will the payout cover the costs in 20, 30 or more years?
  2. Should you pre-pay your funeral? This is money someone else is benefiting from and earning interest on, not you.
  3. In Canada, pre-payments do not go to the funeral home but to a trust company. This protects clients in the event the funeral home goes bust. Why / how do they go bust? Hanky-panky / mismanagement just as in any other business.
  4. Did you know, depending on your age, you can make payments over many years? Keep in mind, interest is tied to making payments and is over and above your initial contract cost.
  5. Cremation is fast becoming the service of choice. A friend of mine paid for her mother’s funeral a few years ago, nothing fancy, and the cost was $30,000.00
  6. Have you heard of No Frills cremation? I didn’t until after I’d made all my arrangements, but I I’m going ahead with the contract I signed.


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Hot Flash – Crazed

morgueFile free photos

morgueFile free photos

Skinny and Ichabod-like, Herman hated Val, the dreamboat. His teaching methods baffled everyone. Val questioned an explanation; Herman hurled chalk. Swearing clouded the air;  students booed.

“Get the principal,” someone said.

“You’re crazed. Take your hooks offa me.”

Herman hoisted Val by the scruff, like refuse, onto a coat hook.

~ * ~

This is the new Fall Quarter of Flash in the Pan. The theme is Disturbed.

The word limit for Crazed is 50 words. I used them all.

Check how to join:  http://mommasmoneymatters.com/flash-fiction/


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Trifextra – Week 81

This weekend’s challenge is the picture below. Check it out:

http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/2013/08/trifextra-week-eighty-one.html

Trifextra81

Watch this video below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkY3JGDqMT8&feature=player_embedded

Revelation

TrifextraIndustrious winds seeded fragrant forests. Their buds burst in spring, and summer blew breezes for squirrels and birds. Fall leaves in mutinous colour rejoiced, then faded to lacklustre sleep again, until another spring.

~* ~


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Flash in the Pan – Wake

They were siblings, five (Able) and almost nine (Ready). As girls will, they fought like cats and dogs—sometimes.

Able:  You are wrecking my life. You almost ribbed my new book.

Ready:  You pushed me—like this—with your elbow. I’m telling Daddy.

Able: You are in Grade 3, almost four, Ready, and eight—almost nine. I’m just little. But I know the rules. Big sisters have-ta look after little sisters. I’m not mad at you, but you’re not nice to me.

Ready: You are such a crybaby. I’m still telling Daddy. I’m going to play Moshi Monsters on Daddy’s Laptop.

Able: Wake for me, Wake for me!

~ * ~

Click http://mommasmoneymatters.com/flash-fiction/ for the rules of this challenge.

The word limit for Wake is 125 words. I used 110.


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Curious Meets Crazy

I hate cold coffee and am forever reheating a cup in the microwave. Why does the mug handle end up in the back even when I place it facing out, or, no matter how long it spins to reheat?

My old washing machine ate socks; I became used to losing them and expected the loss. What changed? The new machine hasn’t gobbled any—even once—in four years. What gives?

When are you officially a senior? 50? 55? 60? 65? Businesses used to offer discounts on a wide range of products and services for customers age fifty and over. Once the demographic reports on baby boomers came out, perks dwindled, an inch at a time. Too many seniors are approaching age sixty-five. Why is this information a surprise?

McDonald’s offers seniors a coffee discount—size small only. Some ‘franchises’ don’t offer any reduction at all. Others give you the same price cut whether you order a small or a large cup. Why the differences?

Why do meteors fall through the atmosphere but don’t hit anything? I’m pleased not to hear of catastrophic damages, but why is it they never hit any cities or tall buildings? Why are burned remnants always found in remote areas? How lucky are we?

Why do I always want to do something else when I’m in the middle of any particular project? Even when I’m half-way into an absorbing book, another one catches my eye; I’m impatient to get into the new one no matter how exciting the current one I’m reading.

Why is my cat driving me crazy? I threw drop-sheets on my sofa to discourage her from playing Tarzan. She found an opening no matter how I draped, tucked or arranged the sheets to drag on the floor. She discovered a new game called ‘run under the drop-sheets and hang on the sofa underneath’. Alright! W-e-e-e-e. Will my sofa last until next Monday morning and her manicure appointment?


Down the Rabbit Hole

Where does the time go? Had to forcefully roll myself out of bed this morning at 7:30 (with the help of my alarm clock) because I had a 10:00 am appointment. You see I like to sleep in when I CAN. Jumped into the shower (well, OK, I dragged myself in—my jumping days are well over—same for skipping, scooting and bouncing). Then I spent a LONG time cleansing my face and finishing with a toner). Next came the three creams I use on my face. By then my hair was almost dry so I had to hurry and finger in some pliable hair paste to give it the fullness that isn’t naturally there anymore and blow dry in some hot air to fluff and add some bounce, which I then sprayed with a can of hair spray so it wouldn’t move too much. All necessary, believe me.

The cat was getting vocally impatient for breakfast so I scooted bumped my way into the laundryroom to shut him up. What I don’t need first thing in the morning is noise of any kind. I like to begin my day languidly. I’ve rushed my whole working life and nobody, especially not my fretful cat, is going to rush me first thing in the morning. Kitty litter cleaned and water bowl replenished, I brushed my teeth (in the bathroom, not the laundryroom). I especially dislike morning breath, so I brushed before breakfast and then again afterwards.

Next was the ritual of my calcium+ vitamin D plus an additional Vitamin D pill, which I choked down with lots of water. At lunchtime, I’ll take my Omega-3 capsule. By now, I’m ready for a sitdown and have spent an hour in the bathroom. By the time I got breakfast and got to read some of the paper, I only had 45 minutes before I had to up the pace and get rolling.

My appointment lasted 1-1/2 hours. It was raining cats and dogs; thank goodness my umbrella was in the car. On the way home I stopped at MacDonald’s for a LARGE coffee. The newpaper was still waiting to be finished on the diningroom table. For lunch I had a salad that took far too long to make. Already it’s 2:22 pm. Where the heck has the day gone?

You think you have all the time in the world. One appointment and the day’s pretty much shot. Now I’ll put in a few hours of babysitting my grandkids and tomorrow I’ll start all over again. What a life! I feel like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. Some days it seems I’m just chasing my tail to keep up and on those days it’s hard to keep things straight. I’m not old enough to be loosing it. Am I?