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Sunday, March 18, 2018


The traumatic events of last weekend were not reflected in my post, albeit my mind was not on the subject, hence two critical errors, but suffice it to say, all's well that ends well. 

Friday, a week ago, Samantha took Frank to the vet.  He had not been 'himself', and was not moving freely, nor was he eating properly.  The doctor took an x-ray and the prognosis was not good. It was one of two things.  One was the removal of his spleen, but the other was fatal.  Obviously, she was devastated.  Not being a 'dog' person when I moved to the USA, I was surprised at my level of angst.  This puppy is part of my family.  Not only would I, too, be devastated at the loss, but I would also have to deal with my daughter's grief, which needs no explanation to all those mum's out there!  He was booked in for an operation on Tuesday!

Going out on Saturday and Sunday was to keep things running as normally as possible.  We could have sat at home, and waited for Tuesday to arrive, but we also wanted to be positive, and trust that the latter diagnosis was not going to be the outcome.  

When my alarm went off on Monday morning, I was wide awake.  Sleep had not wanted to make contact all night, and I rose, quite delighted that another night was now in the past.  Surprisingly enough, the dog had a renewed spurt of energy, and this both delighted, and concerned us.  Dana suggested that we go downtown, just to get out of the office, and to experience a change of scenery.  The positivity that was attempting to surge through all of us was becoming a little overbearing, and a little bit of respite would not go amiss.  Downtown I drove, and we parked outside the courthouse, which meant a good deal of walking.

I had received an invitation to a 'drop in', commencing at 2pm on the East side of the interstate.  Normally, we are treated to a sumptuous lunch, and much as my appetite was not particularly good, I thought it might be good to take advantage of the situation.  We walked the four blocks down and then six blocks up and finally found the venue.  "Hi, are you here for the drop in?" asked the lady behind a stand that had been somewhat crudely placed at the back of what looked like a storeroom.  "Yes.  Would you like to see my invite?"  I asked, as they are always requested.  "Oh no.  If you found us, you must have had an invite.  If you want to go into the other room, get a coffee or a drink, then come back and tell us about your 'drop-in' experiences.....".  That said it all.  Three people, other than a modicum of 'we really do not want to be here' hosts, were sitting at tables, working on laptops.  My 'drop in' experience was to be invited to a lunch every year, and how, or why, I received the original invite is still a mystery to me.  We wandered into the 'other' room, and made a quick exit.  No lunch today!

We made our way back across the Interstate, and over to the food truck area, where we sampled a lot of coffee.  Then we walked to the 'pop-up' coffee shop, that we had visited over the weekend.  

"This is the best grass fed butter you can find", said the promoter, standing behind the bar, with a jug of coffee and a block of Kerrygold butter.  He started to explain about how fat was now good for me, and the properties of the butter.  I told him, quite politely, that I had been eating Kerrygold since before he was born, and in fact since before it was bad for you, which was before it was good for you again!  He smiled, but was not impressed.  I appeared to know more about the properties of the butter than he, and a little more about coffee "We like to keep local" may have worked on some, but when I pointed out that the coffee may have been roasted locally, it does not grow in Austin, and Kerrygold is, and always has been, made with milk from Irish cows.  Ireland is about as far away from Austin, as the place they probably sourced their beans, albeit in a different direction. I think my need to educate is to prove my intelligence, rather than denounce theirs!

By Monday night, a calmness had surrounded me, and I slept for the first time in days.  However, I awoke in a less than serene state, and went downstairs to my safe haven.  With half a dozen egg whites sitting in my fridge, I made a variety of meringues, and waited for Samantha to arrive.  She had left the puppy at the vet, and was told that she could call at midday.  We were both walking on egg shells, (no pun intended,) not wanting to even think the worst.  She refused to prepare herself as it was 'not going to happen', and I had to stop my mind from going to the 'what if' scenario.  Instead, she looked at my attempt at 'macrons' and quite emphatically stated that they 'were not'!  I had not followed the recipe correctly!  We left for the office, and worked through a very long morning.

Image may contain: dogAt midday, we all sat at our respective desks, waiting.  Dana watched from his office, Jerry sat refusing to move until she had made the call, and my ears were working overtime, straining to hear if she was talking.  "He is okay!" came the report at five past the hour.  It appeared that the large mass was actually a tumour on his kidneys, and that is why the vet thought it was the spleen.  It had encompassed the whole area.  In fact, when she went to collect him later, she was told that the offending growth was so big, the kidney had to be removed.  It was the size of a mango, which in a dog the size of a sausage, is enormous!  They were surprised he could stand, let along run and jump!  It appeared not to be malignant, as the function tests done before the operation, were all good, and Frank had woken up quickly and was doing extremely well.  

Dana suggested we stick to our plans, and as the dog could not be collected until after three, we headed, quite happily, downtown.  We did not dwell on what could have been, but a few tears of relief were shed.  

We parked the car on the opposite side of the courthouse, which meant we had another block to walk, but it was a pleasant day, and we were quite happy to have our time taken up.  Down and along, down and along we walked until we reached sixth street, There was a new venue opened, and we stood in the queue for what we thought was a simple registration, as we have done in previous years.  However, it appeared we had fallen short of expectations, and not sent an RSVP, so we were not on the list.  We asked if we could just walk around the area just to see what was happening, and were told that the RSVP was just for the concert, later that afternoon.  Although we had not pre-registered, as we had not followed explicit, new instructions this year, we were handed a phone charger, out of sympathy, and a card which we were told to have stamped at each stall, to receive a prize!  We collected fruit snacks, water bottles, and a black bag containing a t-shirt, instructions on how to tie-die with bleach, and a coupon for a bottle of Pine-sol and a bottle of bleach, (nothing if not diverse, this festival,) and then were able to go up some stairs to get a better view of the (yet to start) concert, than those whom had received wristbands!  After having collected all our 'stamps', we were rewarded with a Pandora 'pin'.  I found my voucher for the bleach and Pine-sol to be a little more of a 'prize'.

No automatic alt text available.We then weaved our way through the streets until we reached the food trucks.  Everything seemed to be a little busier and brighter than last year, when the festival seemed to be a bit bland.  Once inside the area, we noticed long queues.  It was a 'queso fest'.  There were about a dozen vendors, all giving away samples of their liquid cheese, and each sample differing from the previous one in a surprisingly unique way.  "Duck sausage and jalapeno", said the lady at one stand.  "And do you have a spoon", I asked, naively.  "No, you use the chips", she said, and handed me an enormous bag of tortilla corn chips.  Black and white queso was next, followed by spicy, spicier and spiciest.  "You are English?  Do you know what queso is, because I had an Irishman here a while ago, who had never heard of it".  (I bet he had heard of Kerrygold!)  I told the vendor, that after fourteen years here, I not only knew what it was, but understood it to be in its own food group!  I am still unsure as to how vegan queso is made, but I sampled it nonetheless.  With another bag of chips in my bag, I continued on.

After eating the equivalent of a whole jar of cheese, and purchasing a bowl of extremely delicious noodles, we headed back to the car.  Austin is renowned for its food trucks, and we rarely take advantage of their wares, as we are not downtown often enough, or at the right time.  

Samantha left the office shortly after we returned, and called when she had 'pup in hand'.  He had apparently been awake for hours and was eagerly waiting for her to collect him. The vet explained that, like humans, he could survive on one kidney, provided it worked properly, and there was no reason to suggest it would not.  The dog was very spritely.

I went to Joe on Wednesday, and then to have my nails painted.  By the time I got to the office, the dog had worn himself out with all the attention he had received, but managed to stand and wag his tail when I entered.  The weight loss was quite pronounced, but he appeared to be quite alert. 

Although I am a great chocoholic, it is not a good idea to eat only chocolate for lunch.  This was my downfall, as the cheese suppliers had given way to chocolatiers.  We were downtown again by one! I made my way through the samples and felt quite light headed by the time I had finished.  I know why, through all generations, it has been told, "Dessert after you finish dinner!"

Once again, we went to the Pandora 'tent' and walked around collecting 'stamps' for a 'pin'.  Once again, we received a black bag containing a t-shirt, instructions on how to tie-die with bleach, and a coupon for a bottle of Pine-sol and a bottle of bleach!  "Would you like a free pedicab ride?" we were asked.  "Why not?" we said, and rode along sixth street on a seat affixed to the back of a bicycle.  It would have been quicker to walk, but it was a new experience.  However, the experience became a little less comfortable, when our 'driver' was unable to go along the road, and had to take the back alleys!  I did not feel unsafe, but the smell was rather putrid, and I would have gladly disembarked at any time!  The smell, however, was nothing compared to that which was permeating the air on the other side of the buildings.  Again, I was reminded why the contraband substance is known as 'skunk'.  

We arrived back at the office with our bags, and went back to work!

The 'changeover' day is always a little quiet, and gives way to a new breed of creature strolling the aisles, so to speak.  Thursday was a lot busier, and a lot more abrupt!  Some music was streaming from the bars, coupled with a lot of shrieking and screaming!  The best parties were 'badge only', and the big names were hidden from the likes of us that do not purchase a ticket.  Apparently, though, there is an 'Austin pass' that allows us 'locals' to buy a tremendously cut price, all inclusive, pass to all events.  I shall have to investigate next year, although I doubt I would attend much!  Going downtown 'after hours' interferes with my usual humdrum evening schedule!

Over at the food truck stop, there was more chocolate, which we devoured, and then walked along Rainey Street, where we were invited into a couple of 'bars' to experience some music and 'fun'.  The music was a little less loud, and the artists a little less flamboyant!  We were plied with 'Twix' bars, and had some pictures taken for good measure.  Our stay was cut short by the time restraints on the parking ticket, although there are only so many Twix bars a bag can hold, and we walked back towards sixth street.

Once again, we went to the Pandora 'tent' and walked around collecting 'stamps' for a 'pin'.  Once again, we received a black bag containing a t-shirt, instructions on how to tie-die with bleach, and a coupon for a bottle of pine-sol and a bottle of bleach!  We had to go to the registration stand to get our final 'stamp'.  "Would you like to register?" asked the young lady behind the desk.  We sighed and repeated that we had not followed instrutions, and not RSVP'd and therefore could not get a wrist band.  "Oh no, that's okay, you can do that now".  Obviously, the third day was not fully booked, probably due to the 'new breed' that had arrived in town, those whom had music badges and did not need to attend a free party.  We were given a wristband, and another phone charger.  I was delighted.  Something else to add to my ever growing collection!  

The Pandora tent was closed on Friday, and became a car park again.  We parked a little less close than Thursday but closer than the beginning of the week, and wandered down to the Convention Center.  On our way, we spotted a venue that had, in previous years, not been open to non-badge holders.  "Come in, please", came the voice, with the emphasis on the 'please'.  We obliged.  The new flavours of Diet Coke were on offer.  Not being a fan, I did sample to appease the pleading voice.  "Samples?  Would you like some?"  Edward drinks the beverage like it is going out of fashion, so I was happy to take a couple of cans.  "What flavour?  One of each?  Two of each?"  Apparently, the large drum that contained an enormous amount of cans had to be emptied by the evening, when another couple were going to be arriving.  Laden down with a dozen cans, we continued on our way.  

Walking past the back of the convention center, we witnessed a young lady, who was a little eccentric.  She was shouting at passing motorists, and everyone seemed to be giving her a wide berth.  However, she walked up to the Sheriff's deputy, who was standing at the back entrance, and put out her hand to shake his.  He seemed a little confused, but obliged, kindly.  She said nothing and walked on.  He looked around at his colleagues, shrugged his shoulders, and smiled.  As I walked past, I put out my hand to shake his.  He looked a little shocked, and then I laughed and told him, 'only joking'.  Once he realised that this was not the norm, and I was merely following an act, he started to laugh, and laugh, and laugh.  I do not know whether I would have been as bold with a British Bobby!  

Chocolate was eaten, and then we were plied (the word being used in context) with yogurt's.  "Would you like a yogurt?  Take one of each.  Take two of each".  There is only so much a back pack can hold, but we did have our Pine-sol bags which we had brought for good measure.  "Have you tasted La Croix?" (Pronounced La Croicks.) "I love La Croix!" (Pronounced La Cwoa!) I replied.  "Have a can.  Have one of each flavour.  Have two of each", and a hat, and a badge, and, and, and....!  I started to feel like one of the contestants in 'World's Strongest Man", lugging a 'sixteen wheeler'!

The Twix bar had given way to M&M's but the queue was rather long, and the venue did not open until 2pm.  We were half an hour early, so walked along the road to see what else was on offer.  "Have some yogurt!  Here, take two!"  The Maltesers bar was also a lot of fun!  "Have some chocolates".  I answered with "Not chocolates, Maltesers", but the look of "huh" across the faces of those promoting made me realise that the advertising has changed, at least on this side of the pond!

Signs were all around the Convention Center as the Gaming part of the festival began.  "No weapons allowed.  Costumes are liable to a search".  Despite the recent law passed in Austin, those were not the weapons to which the organisers referred.  "Lasers and other space armory are not permitted".  I cannot imagine what Thor is without his hammer!  Just Th!

By the time I got back to the office, my shoulders felt like those of Atlas, as I did, indeed, feel as if I had the world upon them!  Dana required a couple of things put into the computer 'now', and I did not have time to change out of my t-shirt and walking trousers.  The perspiration had been rather prolific, and anyone who thinks that a lady (and I am a lady, despite thoughts to the contrary) merely 'glows', was not talking about a lady that had to haul two dozen cans of pop up several hills!  Maltesers may be the 'light' option, but a few dozen bags definitely weighs!

I was not in the right frame of mind to venture anywhere on Saturday.  I merely wanted to curl up and sleep!  However, I was told by my daughter to 'stop it', when I suggested I could drop her and Edward downtown, and collect them later.  We did get Dana to take us down to Sixth Street, and we headed down the very busy street.  It was St. Patrick's Day, and everyone was celebrating.  I am unsure as to how many actually knew the origins of St. Patrick's Day, or whom Patrick was!  However, his 'day' was being celebrated with a variety of green items, and lots of beer!  I relented, and wore green socks!  

"Come in, please", came the voice, with the emphasis on the 'please'.  We obliged.  We waked around, and Edward sampled the different flavours.  "What flavour?  One of each?  Two of each?"  This time there were more barrels, and more cokes!  "You were here yesterday, weren't you!" came the statement.  "Have some more.  Do you have another bag?"  I did!  Despite the back pack, Pine-sol bag and Samantha's two, I had another one tucked away! Laden down with over two dozen cans, we continued on our way.  

After eating some chocolate, sampling some 'vodka' jam and having the 'holes' that were in between the coke cans, filled with Maltesers, we continued on our way.  I was not 'allowed' into the M&M bar, as I had 'liquids'.  The man who had checked my ID was most upset and told his colleague, who promptly gave me three pairs of sun glasses!  Samantha and Edward emerged a short time afterwards, and Edward became 'bag sitter'.  "Did you see that.  She grabbed, like, a few bags", said one man sitting at a table.  Yes, I did.  The small bags were in tubs all around the venue, and we had been told, "please take them".  They would have all been discarded, and left to rot (as quickly as candy rots) and it would have been such a waste!  I knew several people who would be glad of a few bags of the new variety, and after all, they had said, 'please'.  

After deciding enough was enough, we walked back across the 'closed to vehicles' roads, and went to Stubbs.  Stubbs is a wonderful barbecue restaurant, that hosts a lot of bands.  I have only eaten there once, with my friends Judy and David, when they visited Austin a few years ago, but had vowed to go back.  The food was delicious.  We queued for the outdoor venue, and our bags were searched.  "I promise I will not open one can", I told the man at the entrance.  He said that, ordinarily, it would not be permitted, but he would make an exception.  It occurred to me later, although I am not sure it was the reason, that when I retrieved my ID, it was from a small wallet that has 'Austin Police Department' written across the front!  In we went.  I was handed a can of beer, and then treated to hot dogs with sundried tomato salsa, whilst listening to the 'Jaded Hearts Club Band', a Beatles tribute band, singing all the really old Beatles songs.  I felt as if I had arrived.  Not quite dinner and a show, but more like what I would have imagined Glastonbury to be like, in the 60's.  I would not have partaken of the 'skunk', but standing holding a beer and singing in the sunshine was such a great feeling!

After a while, and I will admit only drinking quarter of the can, we headed across the river.  Once again, I was not allowed in!  "Liquids, food, weapons".  I saw the writing on the wall.  "Everything but the weapons", I answered.  I didn't carry hammers, nor lazers, and could not find any space armory!  I sat, again, waiting for Samantha and Edward to return, and called Dana to ask him to pick us up at his earliest convenience!  

Unfortunately, Dana could not get to where he wanted to be, but parked in a little area behind the center where we had attended the Job Fair last week.  We got into the car, all tried to keep the dog calm, as he sat on Dana's lap, wanting to jump across the seats, but being restricted by a 'donut' collar, (the third collar trial this week) and slumped back in our seats.  

Over for another year, the fun and frolics were exhausting, and I wonder why I put myself through the routine each time.  It is because I enjoy every minute of it.  Every ache, every moan and every bit of 'swag' that I collect, goes into the memorabilia bank that is my Austin collection!  I live here, and I breathe the air (which at times is a little conspicuous) but mainly, this is home (despite it never being 'home') and life is certainly different!  However, when there is a repeat performance, next year, I would like it to be without the drama!  

Oh yes! The errors!  The group, whom we had hoped to see, (and I am sorry, but their name eludes me,) did not open for the Backstreet Boys, but were a group on a programme, which Nick Carter co-hosted about the making (and presumably creating) of boy bands.  The other error, and perhaps the one that I have received the most chiding about, is that Batman, and the Justice League are from DC comics, and not Marvel!  What was I thinking!  I am surprised I am allowed out in public!

I am not sure what I shall do with the rest of my day, as my head is still reeling from all the events of the past week.  My daughter has reported that the dog has his appetite back, and I had a lovely 'face time' experience with my son and my younger grandson, so my world is getting back to where it should be.  As long as I do not have to play the part of Atlas again, next week, all should be fine.  Although I hope for a slightly less hectic week ahead, I am sure thee will be something for ............ another story!

Sunday, March 11, 2018


Spring break was just around the corner, and that meant that we were going to spend a considerable amount of time downtown on Saturday, as the 'greatest show on earth', (or one of them) was about to start.  Yes, it is time for South By Southwest, or SXSW according to the logo, or to those of us who are seasoned participants, a simple South-by!

I wondered if the lead up to spring break and the imminent festival was the reason for the higher than usual work influx, as not only do our guys have difficulty getting downtown, but a lot of our clients have difficulty reaching, or leaving their offices.  Many roads are closed, and there are no exceptions to the rules!  Many residents move out of town for the week.

There were two contests into which I had entered, both on Thursday but at different times.  When I got the call on Tuesday to say I had won to see "Alisa", Samantha was somewhat disappointed, as she wanted to go and meet the 'boy band' that had opened for the Back Street Boys, when they were in Las Vegas.  However, having 'googled' the singer, she became very excited.  She showed me a picture, and I confirmed that this was the photo the radio station had used.  "You know who she is!" she stated.  After playing a couple of songs, I too was rather excited.  Alessia Cara is quite a big star!  Although the 'meet and greet' was to be held at 3pm, we would have to make allowances, and go!

A most unusual week followed, as I did not have to go to a nail appointment on Wednesday, and as Joe was gallivanting around the South and Central American coffee growing nations, I did not go for my usual refreshing beverage and chat!  I worked a full day on Wednesday, or as full as possible!  I did leave early to get dinner ready for one of my two regular guests, and was pleasantly surprised when he arrived with his wife, whom we had not met due to her usual work schedule.  Russian born and bred, Oxana and I hit it off straight away, due to the common denominator, to wit, both being married to American men!  It seems it does not matter where you were born, if you were not born in the USA and are married to a naturally born citizen, you forge an allegiance!  

I dressed appropriately on Thursday, in my usual garb, but was not entirely sure I would have time to leave the office.  However, we did forego our lunchtime walk, and left the office around two forty five, arriving at 3pm on the dot.  We were not the first, but milk (chocolate and regular) was on offer with a variety of cookies.  Samantha was delighted.  Sitting with 'the usual suspects', we waited. "It is not Alessia Cara", Samantha announced. "It is Arlissa!"  I was a little surprised, as I was positive the picture that was used to promote the event was the one she showed to me.  "Shall we leave then?", I asked, half jokingly.  "No.  She is from England!"  Well that was good enough for me!

We were asked into the main 'lounge', and the interview began.  After Arlissa chatted for a while, and then sang a couple of songs, we, the audience, were invited to ask questions.  "Where were you brought up?" I started. "As you do not have an American accent".  She immediately retorted.  "Nor do you.  Twinsy!"  I would not say I was the envy of the room, but we did have quite a long chat!  After pictures, we left to go back to the office, minus our new friend

The trip downtown on Saturday was exhausting.  Dana dropped us on the south side of the river, and we went into the 'Job Fair'.  Smaller than usual, we wandered around, and being honest, we told most of the vendors that we were really there for the 'swag'.  Edward saw a business acquaintance, and stood chatting for a while, and I wandered 'unattended'.  Once he had finished, we continued on our rounds.  The Victoria Secret stand was in the corner.  I approached the man at the stand.  "I hear you are looking for models", I said, and he played along quite well!  I was delighted to find someone with a sense of humour!  Samantha merely told him she was there for the 'swag', and he immediately filled her bag with goodies!  I was then given a virtual reality tour of their new store, which is opening in London later this year.  I was in my element.  "Be careful, what are you doing", I heard Samantha say, as I was peering from the top floor.  She was sorry she did not take a video as apparently, I was making some very strange moves! 

Stopping at the CIA recruitment desk, an older woman, perhaps my age, asked how I was doing.  "You should be able to tell me that!" I said, completely unabashed.  She found this to be rather funny, as did her colleague.  It appeared that the day had already been rather long, and there was no end in sight.  They handed me a variety of 'swag', and then told me to help myself to anything on the table.  I did.  I took some post-it notes.  "I am going to use these, and place them on the desks of my colleagues to make them wonder", I said. Again, laughter was prolific.  They had not had many people come to their stand, and I seemed to be the entertainment for the day.  "Next year, you need to have caps, and then watch as the place clears out!"  Leaving them, apparently, in a better frame of mind than they had been in when I arrived, I walked away from the stand.  

The 'Health and Wellness Expo' was really not for me.  "Have you ever put butter in your coffee?" asked a female, full of vitality and youth.  "Why yes!" I answered, leaving her stumped.  It appeared that the brand of coffee that she was advertising, use 'grass fed butter', I didn't ask how they fed the grass to the butter, as I 'got the gist' but realised by her statement that she really didn't understand the making of butter at all.  She then asked why I had put butter into my coffee.  I replied that it was when I had run out of milk.  "Wow!" was the reply.  We continued the conversation and then I said something that almost caused her to faint.  "It was the saltiness that I liked", I commented.  "No. Not salt.  We NEVER use salt.  No.  Not salt!"  She was talking to the wrong person!  What was wrong with salt. Apparently, salt was the enemy.  Nothing as natural as salt could possibly go into the grass fed butter.  The rest of the 'Expo' was contrary to everything I hold dear!  Had I announced that I ate meat, and more to the point, enjoyed it, I think I would have been escorted out, very quickly.  

We walked in the 90 degree heat, back across the river and went into several places along the way, which thankfully provided cold drinks.  

The convention center did not have the usual stands, but the sponsors for the festival had changed.  Mazda had been replaced by Mercedes.  Mercedes did not have the quirky little gifts that Mazda handed out, but instead they provided a rather interesting video experience of their new model.  I prefered the quirky gifts!  

We walked and walked for miles.  Six blocks up sixth street took us to Congress Avenue, where the festivities were not quite as prolific. Back down we walked, six blocks to the Interstate, where we crossed, and walked another six blocks up.  We had seen that there was going to be a promotion for the new series, of the old series, "Roseann", and a chance to meet the cast.  The line was quite long, but we stood and waited.  Apparently the 'parents' were not present, but the 'kids' were there.  After half an hour, we were told that we would probably not be admitted as they had decided to 'shut down' for the day.  It was a little disappointing, more so because we could have left the downtown area and gone home!  I was exhausted!

I fell asleep at around ten thirty, and woke a little after eleven.  I had put our clocks forward, as daylights saving here is this week, and so they read midnight.  I lay awake, wondering if I would ever get back to sleep, and finally dozed around three, 'new time'.  At twenty past the hour, Dana started to receive a proliferation of texts.  Our 'other' friend, who usually comes to dinner on a Wednesday, had taken a trip to the Philippines, to meet a family he had been helping, and to attend a wedding of one of the daughters, as he had been asked to 'give her away'.  Oblivious, obviously, to the time difference, he sent us pictures and messages between twenty past three and half past four.  The problem was that the messages were repeating every few minutes, and although Dana received about twenty five, there were only six in total.  "Turn the sound off", I grumbled.  "I don't know how", he complained!  

Although I had thought about it, I did not rise at 5:45, but managed to go back to sleep.  My phone 'pinged' just after seven, as Richard sent me a mother's day message.  Samantha also messaged me to say they would be over at 9, so we could all do breakfast, on this, English Mother's Day.  The last thing I wanted was breakfast!  

We did go for breakfast, and then all came back to my house, where Edward took a nap, before Dana drove us back downtown to 'play' again.  I did not really want to take part in the days events, but everyone insisted that I would have a good time! 

Image may contain: 2 people, including Samantha Furstenau, people smiling, people sitting and indoorQueuing up for the 'Roseann House' again, we sent Edward to the front to ask what time it started, and how long they thought it would be before we would be able to go in.  I stood in line 'saving' their space, as Samantha went to see what was happening.  I was beckoned to the front, and obeyed.  It appeared that the 'actual' event was a 'Trivia session', with a couple, or one, members of the cast, but if we just wanted to go in and look around the set, we could do it now!  "You have about seven minutes before we make you leave", said the security guard.  That was enough time to get a piece of pie, a coffee, a t-shirt, and a photo with 'D.J.', the young boy in the original series, who is now a man!  It was perfect!  We left before the first people waiting in line were admitted!

Along East Sixth Street we walked, and under the Interstate we crossed. "Where is the Roseann House at?" I heard someone ask.  "Where is the Roseann House?", I almost said, but concluded that it was Sunday, so I should have a day off from being the Grammar police!  I told him where he could find the house, 'at'.  In turn, I was handed a card with the word 'Condor', and told to go and 'check out' the CIA house.  Well, twice in one weekend!

The Marvel Comic arena was quite busy, but the queue to sit in the Batmobile was not. As I approached the vehicle, I was told, "Hold on here.  Do not touch that!"  I asked, "Why, will it start and automatically transport me to the Bat Cave?"  The answer was, "No".  No sigh, as if he had heard it a thousand times, but a regular "No" as if to say, "How ridiculous".   Samantha took my photo, and as I exited the vehicle, I asked where I could hold onto in order to get out!  I think the experience had been a little too much for the 'host', who would not make a good super hero, but did not have what it takes to make a villain either!

We walked along the road, retrieved t-shirts, sun glasses, nail clippers, (oh everything goes,) turkey jerky, and much, much more.  In and out of 'pop up' shops we went, and finally made our way down to Rainey Street.  We were plied with a dozen different varieties of coffee, and had a few pictures taken.  

Image may contain: Samantha Furstenau, smilingUpon arrival at the Condor studios, we were rather pleasantly surprised to see a short line.  Things got better as two sets of people in front of us left shortly after, leaving us in pole position.  We were invited on to the porch, and had our photos taken for our ID badges.  Once inside, we were given a 'briefing'.  I did not take much notice of my surroundings, despite being told that a good agent would notice 'everything'.  In we went to the next area, where we had to undergo 'voice transformation'.  I could not stand upright when they replayed my 'disguised' voice, as it was one of the funniest things I have heard!  The third test was to see how much we had observed.  Quite sure that all the pictures showed items that were in the previous room, we (or my colleagues) picked the one's they remembered seeing. (I did not remember seeing a thing!)  Into the next room we were ushered.  "One of you will undergo a lie detector test", we were told, as an 'agent' came out of the exit door.  "Come on pinky", she demanded, pointing to Samantha.  "It's red!" said my daughter who assumed the woman was talking about her hair.  She dutifully followed.  We watched on the two way screen,as she was 'interrogated'.  "Why are you pulling that face?" asked the agent, as Samantha answered one of the questions.  "Because you are scaring me!" she replied, to the very convincing actress.  We laughed heartily as she was told she was a traitor and now a wanted person.  We all had to exit in a hurry!  Once outside, we were given the chance to 'win' gifts, and I was presented with a pair of spy glasses.  Leaving with my hat and badge, (or yes, I was given an official badge,) I realised that I could now go around with the post-it notes, an really really play the part!

It was time to go home, and I called Dana to tell him where to meet us.  I did not realise quite far away we were from the point where he had dropped us, and we had to walk six blocks over and six blocks up to get to where we needed to be but we made it!

Arriving home, I wondered why I had gone into town today, but looking at the variety of 'stuff' I had collected, it all seemed worthwhile.  It had been fun, and a different way to spend 'mother's day'.  

The week ahead could be full of all sorts of surprises.  At this precise moment, I would be happy not to take part in any of the activities, but no doubt that will change by morning.  The usual
'drop in' to which I am invited, regularly, did not happen on Saturday, and has been changed to Monday, so day one is taken care of!  I also received a few different invitations to attend a variety of functions during the week.  The foreigner has made it again!  Love it or hate it, I take part in it, and all will be enough to fill a page for ........... another story!

Sunday, March 4, 2018


I had spent longer than anticipated in my kitchen on Sunday afternoon.  Much as I have attempted to bring a touch of (dare I say) Europe to the heart of Texas, the overripe fruit that had been sitting in my fridge could lend themselves to nothing more than banana bread.  My recent 'pastries extravaganza' has been more (again, dare I say) French and Belgian, with a tad of English thrown in for good measure.  Who said the Brits can't cook?  The standing joke (and I semi-quote) 'heaven is where is where the police are British, cooks French, mechanics German, lovers Italian and all organised by the Swiss; hell is where the British are chefs ....., etc.', is often quoted by my husband, when I offer him an amuse bouche after spending the best part of Sunday afternoon in the kitchen.  In turn, I remind my husband that before he met me, amuse bouche, (or mouche bouche as he pronounces it) was a term he had never heard, and now it is coming from a man whose nation traditionalised banana bread!  Much as I have 'jazzed' it up from various recipes, in my (humble, English) opinion, it cannot compare to pavlovas, vol-au-vents, profiteroles, and the like.  Okay, you have perfected cheesecake, but the origins of said dessert are thought to have come from Greece, which is (dare I say) in Europe! However, I digress!

Sunday afternoon started a week of 'chasing my tail', and I did not stop.  

As I turned on my computer at work on Monday morning, the email page all but exploded.  How did I go from zero on Friday to over half a century in my absence.  Papers to be served were arriving at the speed of knots, and I started to become a little overwhelmed.  However, I pulled myself together, in traditional 'stiff upper lip' mode, and got 'stuck in'.  We left the office a little after eight, hoping that this would not be the norm for the week.  After a repeat performance on Tuesday, with one and half times more papers than Monday, and incoming emails reaching a record high, I was prepared to quit!

The banana bread had been taken into the office, and hailed, by an American (not my husband) as 'the best I have ever tasted'.  This was followed with, "You have started to cook American!"  I did not have time to leave my desk to climb on to my soap box, but simply mentioned that even this delicacy was not actually American in origin.  After all, where in this great land, at least the mainland, are banana's grown?  I did concede that the origin from this particular specialty was probably not from Europe.  I am, according to my husband, a food snob.  In fact, it is merely a defensive attitude in order to maintain my identity.  Occasionally, I long for (dare I say) European desserts.  French and Belgian pastries, English Apple pie, without a hint of cinnamon.  Fresh cream rather than the sweet substitute squirted from a can.  Although I am somewhat of a 'chocoholic', I do not like brownies.  They cannot compare to a roulade or Sacha torte!  However, I digress.

There was a brief interlude where I felt appreciated.  On Saturday, Dana had asked me if I wanted some flowers.  I commented that he used to send flowers, randomly, and without reason, to the offce, but those days seem to have gone by.  The knock on the office door was followed by a young man entering, carrying a box.  Asking for me, and me responding, he handed me the package.  Inside was a beautiful bouquet.  I was quite touched!  Yes, they were from my husband!

"Can you take my car in?" came the question on Wednesday morning, as I stood in the kitchen making pastry for a Key lime pie.  Once again, I had succumbed, but in my defense, it was a 'crime of passion'  One of our Wednesday night guests was about to embark on a mission trip to the Philippines, and he had indicated his concern about the food.  Although not scarce, it would be different. He had mentioned that one of his all time favourite desserts was Key lime pie, a truly American dish, and I thought I would brave the storm!  I did have to laugh when I read the recipe.  "Crush cookies, lay them in the pan, mix all other ingredients together and pour over".  In my opinion, nothing could be simpler, but I was not going to succumb completely.  I made a pastry base!  However, I digress!  Could I take Dana's car to the mechanic?  I could, but this would be most inconvenient, as I was exceptionally busy, and as Joe was travelling somewhere between here and Brazil for the next two weeks, I had planned not to go south, first thing!  I did have a nail appointment though, and I had been sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers, so I agreed to be the goffer.

The trip across town was not too laborious, but the news was!  It was not a simple 'swap out the bulb' job on the car.  It needed a new unit, which they did not have in stock.  The mechanic told me that I could not drive the vehicle as it was now 'illegal', and he did not have a loan car for me to use.  I was stuck!  He spotted my angst, and kindly loaned me one of their vehicles they had 'for sale', and I managed to get to my nail appointment and then to the office.  I had entered Samantha into a contest (which she then won) for a 'meet and greet', to 'meet and greet' Max, a singer/songwriter, of whom we thought we had not heard.  However, as Samantha left the office on Tuesday night, she called from her car, and let me listen to a popular song. Of course I recognised the song, but was unsure of the singer.  It was Max!  We had resigned ourselves to the fact we would not have time to attend the performance, but as the car would be ready at four, and the radio station was about half a mile away on the same road, it suddenly seemed a viable option!  After making the decision, I began to have regrets.  "Look at what I am wearing!" I said to Samantha.  She did, and wondered at my outburst.  I had on a grey trousers suit, black and wine blouse, with wine boots.  My hat was brown.  A total fashion faux pas, in my opinion.  She stood in her baggy combat trousers and teeshirt, and shook her head!

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and indoorOnce again, I drove across town.  The audience were few, but when a young man emerged from the studio, into the waiting area, he looked straight at me and asked, "Hey, how ya doin'".  I replied that I fared well, and Samantha whispered something to me, which I did no hear.  "I want his shoes", I said as he walked back to the studio, shod in a pair of silver brogues.  His top was silver sequined and his trousers were black and white. An employee came from the back studio, with four boxes, and announced, "Pie anyone?"  How very American!  There was a 'brownie' pie, a coconut pie, a mystery pie and of course, and apple pie.  I went for the apple, which I detected had a 'soggy bottom' with uncooked pastry, but the filling, mercifully, was not overwhelmed with cinnamon.  Food snob?  You betcha!  Shortly after the dessert interval, we were invited into the studio.  The young man whom had previously enquired as to my well being came onto the stage.  "It is him!"  I said, wondering why I did not put two and two together, due to his extravagant mode of dress.  "That is what I said", chided my daughter.  

Image may contain: 1 person, standingAfter a couple of songs, we were invited to have photos taken with Max.  I walked forward, and he gave me a hug, as he had given to everyone else.  We parted from the embrace, and stood with out arms outstretched, admiring each other's outfits.  "I want your shoes", I said to him, quite unabashed.  "Wow, I love the look.  It is awesome", he said to me.  Standing for a few seconds, continuing to compliment each other, the waiting crowd began to get bored.  We posed for our photo and then I joined Samantha for a 'group' picture.  "Where you guys from?" he asked, and once the mystery was revealed (unlike that of the pie which never was) he said that his wife was English.  "Practically family then", I joked, as we left the building.  

The car was just being rolled off the ramp as we arrived at the 'shop' and we swapped the newer version of our model for the old, and headed back across town.  That evening, the key lime pie, was decorated with swirled marbled green cream, and accompanied by some mini multi coloured kiwi and guava pavlovas.  I could not resist adding a little bit of 'the contninent' to the proceedings.

Thursday and Friday were as fraught as the first three days, with no respite in sight.  Friday was Texas Independence Day.  It was also my sister's birthday, and my daughter-in-law's birthday.  Snow had been pounding England for the past week, and when I called my sister on 'facetime', she asked to see where we were walking, just so she could experience a little bit of sunshine. It was a beautiful day in Austin!

Dana and I went to a Mexican restaurant after work on Friday.  Late as it was, we were told there would be only a brief wait.  We were led to a table, where a Mariachi band was playing through and we sat to a lively tune, which seemed to go on and on.  They eventually moved to the next table, where an older lady was, apparently, celebrating a birthday.  They sang to her in Spanish, and she danced showing a stamina that I would have liked to have had during this week!  The music continued, the cheers, whoops and hollers ensued and everyone appeared to be having fun. A waiter, in full Mexican attire, sporting a belt and braces, which held glasses to hold the contents of a rather large bottle of tequila, was following the musicians, and was giving the birthday celebrants a 'shot' .   "I suppose  I should not mention that it is Texas Independence Day", I whispered to Dana.  He though that was a good idea!

Saturday was another 'alone' day for me, as the kids were off to San Antonio for a friend's wedding.  I received many compliments regarding my dress (jeans and a shirt, and hat) and my hair, which was braided down each side of my face. The  many youngsters that comment that I have a 'great retro look', do not realise that I am simply wearing my own very old clothes, and that 'classic' never dies!  I did bump into (literally) an Englishwoman and her daughter in the supermarket.  She has been in Austin for four years. I told her I had been here fourteen.  "You still have your accent; there is hope for us all".  I told her that it would never die, and she should keep hers at all costs!

The dog was left alone as we went out for dinner in the evening.  Much as I normally do not fault the Italian cuisine, tonight was the exception.  The sauce did not contain a much lemon flavour as usual, and the second piece of chicken (of which there were two small pieces) was not cooked through.  I did not complain as much as advise but an offer of a whole new meal was declined.  I had almost finished.  Dessert was accepted.  "Cheesecake, or chocolate cake?"  I had asked Dana to make a choice, as I knew he would defer to me, and I wanted to share.  We chose chocolate, as the cheesecake had been somewhat of a disappointment previously.  The description was amazing.  Luscious chocolate cake, layered with coffee, chocolate ganache, and a side of whipped cream.  What could be better?  It was a large chocolate muffin (very American) with a small pot of thin chocolate sauce (not really ganache) and a splodge of cream.  Dessert snob?  You betcha!  Whilst it tasted very nice, it was not really as described.  Ideas started to float through my head!

We arrived home to a very happy puppy, and enjoyed a wonderful cup of tea.  English, of course!  (Where do they grow tea in England?)

Today, I plan to spend a bit of time in the kitchen.  I have a large bag of almond flour calling to me, and may attempt a Bakewell tart.  I have an abundance of egg whites sitting in my fridge, which means that meringues will probably emerge somewhere in the proceedings, and my Instant pot is wondering if soup is on the menu.  I will probably not get the chance to 'wow' in my 'retro' gear, as the puppy will probably be with us for the best part of the day, and the non-dog lover in the family, namely me, does not like to leave him on his own whilst his parents are out of town, having abandoned him to the likes of me!!  

I am hoping that the coming week will not be as frantic as the last, although business is business, and a lot of it is always good.  No doubt I shall be feeding the forces with lots of energy, in the form of cooked sugar, but no one seems to be complaining!  My younger grandson turns one year tomorrow, and home is calling, but alas, plans are not imminent.  Instead, I shall console myself with good, old fashioned retro cooking, with a hint of modern thrown in, and who knows, maybe an Americanisation of some, (still with an 's' and not a zed - I have not succumbed to 'zee') or (dare I say) a European twist on some old American favourites.  I think, apart from spending time with my children and grandboys, I am at my happiest in my kitchen.  I shall, therefore, cook myself into ...... another story!

Sunday, February 25, 2018


Making the most of our last 'public' holiday for four months was supposed to be easy.  Dana had proposed that we take advantage of the situation and go away somewhere, but forgot that we had the dog until late Saturday night, by which time, a weekend break would have turned into less than twenty four hours away from home!  Instead, Samantha and I decided to follow up on old traditions, and go and see an early morning film.  Peter Rabbit was the movie of choice, and our choice of cinemas were quite prolific.

I received a call from Samantha on Sunday to say that her car was not running smoothly, it was 'bunny hopping', and making a strange noise whilst idling, and that she was going to see if she could book it into the repair shop on Monday morning.  This narrowed down our theatre options, but we still had a choice of two.  I had a gift card which had been given to me several years ago, from an attorney for whom we serve papers. 

Starting the week in the usual manner,  I saw Dana off to work and did not deviate from my Monday morning tasks.  Once finished, I set off, in my car, to the adjoining county, where Samantha was waiting to be collected.  The roads were full of what we would refer to, in England, as 'Sunday Drivers'.  No one appeared to be paying attention to the rest of the traffic, or alternatively just not noticing that my car was in the lane, in which they wanted to merge, right then and there, without the need to indicate, or give way.  Each vehicle that pulled directly in front of me, was either a rather large lorry, or one towing a trailer.  The journey was bordering on dangerous.  I wondered if this was to get me into the mood for the film, and felt rather like Peter Rabbit in Mr. McGregor's Garden!  At least my car did not 'bunny hop'.

Samantha was waiting at the bottom of the ramp of the plot that housed the large car plant.  As she got into my car, I handed her two pots.  One contained the danish pastries, which she had suggested I make, and the other, lemon poppy seed muffins, which she has been craving ever since our local french cafe stopped making them!  I set off in a southerly direction, to go to the cinema that I perceived to be nearer.  As I past the first exit, I realised that the cinema in the opposite direction was far nearer, so we exited at the second exit, looped around, and 'hurtled' along the road, as fast as any escaping rabbit!  

There was a group of school children waiting outside the cinema, and we deduced that they were probably there to see the same film that we wanted to watch.  "Out of the way", we said as we ran to the line that had formed by the ticket office.  "This is an English film, for English people", I said, mimicking a rather old, alternative comedy programme that was aired in the last year of the previous century, that did not (to the best of my knowledge) make it to this side of the Atlantic.  However, despite Peter Rabbit being very English, the film was out on this side of the pond first!  

We stood in the queue, wondering whether we would get to the front before the start of the film, despite there being thirty minutes left until 'lights out', and then spotted a card machine.  I decided to check the balance on the card, just because!  After attempting to swipe two or three times, I turned around to see my daughter with 'that' look on her face, with her finger crooked in a beckoning fashion, and saying, in unspoken words, "Come here!"  I obeyed instantly, and she took the card from me, as I replaced her in the queue, and with a deep sigh, proceeded to not only check the balance, but try to order tickets.  The show that we wished to attend was 'sold out', and so we ran back to the car, in a hurry!

The cinema to which I had planned to go first, was now the only cinema available to us. Hurtling again, at the speed of escaping rabbit, we all but flew along the Interstate and 'looped around' to the other side of the road, and entered the complex that housed the 'other' cinema.  Here, we could choose seats, of which there were as many as lettuces in Mr. McGregor's garden, and once we had made our choice, we went into the building, and stood in line for popcorn.  We entered the theatre with minutes to spare, with the pre-movie commercials already in full swing.

The seats were extremely comfortable.  They reclined, and had foot rests.  Unfortunately, both the reclining and foot rest mechanism were operated by a button that was on the side next to my daughter, and each time I got comfortable, she would press my controls, and I would be brought to an upright position.  All the other children in the cinema were behaving themselves!  The last commercial ended, she hit the button.  "I'm gonna 'it you!" I shouted, in full cockney accent, just as the room became silent.  All eyes turned to me, rather than to the screen, and I was glad of the reclining position so no one could decipher from where the noise was coming!

The film was wonderful.  Of course, we pointed out the obvious errors, in the first few scenes, which were supposedly filmed inside a rather large department store, in Knightsbridge, London, famous the world over, but no one appeared to be interested in our critiques.  There were two scenes where two characters made comments, and my daughter nudged me, saying, "That is so you!" Without giving too much away, one was regarding an obsession with allergies, and the other was a comment about London being the greatest city on earth!  I felt quite flattered!  We texted Steph as the credits rolled to let her know that both her and Ollie would love it!

I stood in line for my free refill of popcorn, as Samantha returned a call to the maintenance man, whom had left her a message whilst we were watching the film.  It appeared, at first glance, that the air filter was clogged with leaves, and they would have to replace it.  She gave them the go-ahead, and they said they would call back when it was done.  We walked out of the building, and as we did so, the wind took half the popcorn from the box, and we ran back for shelter.  While my daughter waited in the shaded area, I ran out to get the car, and my hat was caught up in the strong breeze that had developed.  I hopped across the car park, in the manner of Flopsy, Mopsey, and Cotton Tail! This was a source of entertainment for many who were waiting to get ticket for later shows, and I was less than happy to be the pre-movie show, yet again!  Once both of us were safely in the car, we headed for Ikea.  

There is always a want to do something different on a 'bank' holiday, but we tend to end up repeating previous performances.  Like Mr. McGregor's garden, Ikea is full of tempting items, but I resisted most of them.  With my tape measure in hand, I check out the length, width and depth of many a piece of furniture that could possibly be the next 'best' thing in my kitchen, but all failed.  

No automatic alt text available.The next phone call was not good news.  It appeared that a 'rodent type' creature had made Samantha's engine its designated restaurant of choice, and satisfied  his (or her) appetite by chewing on a set of connecting pipes, with 'engine mounting' for dessert!  Why not cabbages or cauliflower, like Beatrice Potter's characters.  No doubt vegetables were not available at said restaurant!  The damage was quite severe, and after the mechanic sent pictures to show what had taken place, she gave them the go ahead, and asked if it would be completed today! Apparently it would, but probably nearer the end of the day.  

We drove back to Samantha's house at a more leisurely pace than that previously, and I helped her clear away some unwanted clutter that had accumulated.  About twenty minutes after our arrival, she got a call to say the car was ready, and the cost had come in 'under budget'.  We took the dog and drove to the facility.  

Dana and I did get to enjoy dinner together, and then came home to spend what was left of the 'holiday' watching a movie that contained no rabbits, lettuces, or air filters!

The wind that was whirling around on Monday, turned into tornadoes in some parts of the state by Tuesday morning, and rain had started to pound the windows in the early hours.  The thunder and lightening had subsided by the time we went into work, but the rain continued to pour.  At lunchtime, we donned our plastic ponchos and walked down to the supermarket.  "The plastic bag committee is in session", said Samantha, as we headed out of our car park, and along the pavement.  As we reached the traffic lights, the little man on the screen opposite said we could walk.  A lone figure was standing on the adjacent pavement, and I said that he had no need to thank me for making the lights red, and allowing us to cross.  Samantha pointed out that he had got to the junction first, and very probably pressed the button first.  Ultimately, I doubt the 'buttons' have anything to do with when the lights change, as the sequence is set on an automatic timer.  They stay green one way for the same time, whether you press the button or not!  However, I gave credit to my fellow walker and thanked him as he passed by! He smiled, and appeared to have read my lips when I suggested he thank me, as he had been watching and laughing as we approached the junction.  I am sure it had nothing to do with us wearing plastic ponchos!  I had not been drinking, had not eaten too many lettuces, had not just escaped 'with my life' from Mr. McGregor's garden, but felt elated nonetheless!  "He is going to go back to his office, an tell his colleagues that he was thanked by two plastic bags, walking down the road".  Samantha started to giggle.  Although sometimes critical of my outbursts, there are times when only she shares my humour!  I continued, and then took the part of the stranger's colleague, in my own 'new' movie.  "What?  Are you delusional.  Plastic bags talking to you?  Impossible!  Plastic bags are banned in Austin!  Have you been drinking!"  The faux conversation continued, and we laughed our way into the store.  On our way back, the lights were once again in our favour.  A car was edging forward to turn right, and I pointed out that it was my right of way.  I started to sway back and forth.  "I shall plaster myself on your windscreen", I sang as I ran across the road. The driver was smiling, no doubt glad that she was not the victim of 'plastic bag rage'!  I am sure her grin had nothing to do with watching two grown women wandering around the streets in plastic ponchos! "She will go back to work and say....."  My daughter beat me to the punchline.  I found myself wavering across the pavement, being a 'plastic bag in the wind' all the way back to the office.  Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday.........!
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We wore plastic all week, as the rain did not halt until Friday. "Is it still raining outside?" we were asked, several times.  "Nope, just wear these for fun", was the answer that was not comprehended, and followed up with one word; "Pouring"!  This was understood!

Saturday followed the usual ritual.  We had been quoting phrases from Peter Rabbit all week, and found ourselves laughing heartily, leaving those around us to wonder why!  We raced around the supermarket, and warehouses, like escaping rabbits, and the lady who checked us out at Walmart commented that we had 'gotten around pretty quick'.  "Quickly, quickly!" I was tempted to answer, but nudged just in time!  I chose not to embark on the whole sentence, starting with the 'gotten', even before being discouraged to make any comment!

The rabbits would not have enjoyed the weather this morning as they would have ended up looking like drowned rats, a preferred participial adjective Samantha would have liked to have used to take care of the rodent that cost her so much on Monday.  However, despite those states around us having suffered so much this weekend, with floods, storms and other nasty meteorological effects, it looks like we are heading into calmer climes.  This does not mean that I will be any less adverse in my actions!  Much as I do not like to use my posts to promote or demote, I would thoroughly recommend the film, Peter Rabbit, to those of all ages.  It was fun!  In the meantime, I am headed to the kitchen, to reek havoc with a number of ingredients I bought this weekend, to satisfy the culinary desires of all creatures, baring those who actually enjoy rubber piping and metallic paint, and shall be sure to try and mix all well together for ............ another story! 

Sunday, February 18, 2018


I have not watched any of the winter Olympics.  In fact I think the last time I watched the winter Olympics was when Torvill and Dean took the gold medals, back in the early eighties.  However, on Monday morning, I decided to hold my own Olympic challenge.  After setting up my new piece of furniture under the stairs, I had put all the items that had been removed, back again, and somehow, dislodged the top of a bottle of car upholstery cleaner.  At I picked it up by the pump handle, the bottle fell, and the oily liquid poured out on to the carpet.  I picked up the bottle, which promptly slid from my hand, and more of the oily mixture puddled on to my tiled floor.  I cleaned it up, as best I could, but it was a little slippery, and I spent a good deal of time attempting to make the gloss into a matt finish.   The new event comprised slalom, gymnastics, high-jump and ice skating.  I slid down on the ice, did an upside down star jump, whilst flying through the air, at the same time managing  to put my foot out to stop the lamp from hitting the wall, recovered with a half triple twist, and my head broke my fall, as it hit the table, saving my right hip from taking the brunt as it hit the tiled floor.  There was no applause, despite the new choreographed move.  I am not sure whether I passed out, but I do remember a brief period of darkness! This was not in my plans for Monday morning, when I had to get myself to the office, and be three people instead of the usual one and three quarters!  

Thankfully, I did not appear to have sustained injury, and when I decided to walk at lunchtime, there was only a modicum of pain in my right side.  

I spent Tuesday morning in the kitchen.  Despite washing the floor again, it was still very slippery around the 'under the stairs' area, and I realised that although I had moped up the mess from the carpet, each time I stepped inside the cupboard, I was bringing out gloop on my feet, or slippers, and transferring it back to the tiles.  I became very aware of my own mortality, and tiptoed around the area, with caution, adding curling to my repertoire, sliding along on my knees, as I brushed the baking pans along the floor, having let them go to prevent another triple axle turn, and inevitable loss of points should I fall in an ungainly fashion!  

I was slightly anxious, although unnecessarily so, as Richard and Steph were moving into their new house today, and I was waiting to hear that they had 'completed' and had been given the keys.  The 'ping' came around seven o'clock, my time, and I found that I was rather uncontrollably emotional.  Being extremely proud of them was one reason for my outburst, but the other was that I was unable to be there to help.  However, always practical, something which has not differed on either side of the Atlantic, I decided against the traditional sending of flowers, and arranged for some 'ready meals' to be delivered, in the hope it would ease the burden on Steph, so that cooking would be one less thing that she would have to deal with!

Shrove Tuesday on this side of the pond is Fat Tuesday, and in honour of Mardi Gras, I was definitely using a lot of 'fat'.  Having made my choux buns, toffee cream and three lots of salted caramel sauce, (each one with a different twist) I put 'fat' on my shopping list, using the word, 'butter'.  I headed out to the office, and was once again very late.  Work was relentless, and the phone did not stop ringing.  At lunchtime, I took the dog for a walk, and wondered why!  I recalled the words I used when trying to convince Dana that it was a good idea to have a canine in the house.  "New life, new ideals".  I was never an animal lover, per se.  I certainly did not object to pets, as long as they were in someone else's house!  A goldfish was about my limit, preferring a pet rock over the water creature, as it required less attention!  However, when Samantha had said she wanted a dog, all those years ago, I amazed myself by suggesting this might be a good thing!  I was starting anew in a new country, and new things should be embraced.  Little did I know that I would become the 'go to' person when the animal felt abandoned!  For a walk we did go, and there was not a tree, fire hydrant, nor obelisk, which did not require a modicum of eau de Frank!  If there was an Olympic challenge for dogs, on the number of pillars on which to mark territory, Frank would definitely be in the running for a gold! 

Image may contain: one or more people, drink and indoorDinner was leftover Shepherd's Pie, and the evening, or what was left of it by the time we arrived home, was spent watching television.  Dana had developed an attack of the sniffles, and had promptly fallen asleep very early, leaving me to take the dog out for his final night time walk.  It was not a very pleasant evening, as drizzle trickled down from the cloudy sky, and we walked around aimlessly for a few minutes before the dog decided he had had enough!  

Waking up at two in the morning is not an uncommon event for me, but waking up to a whining dog is something to which I am, thankfully, unaccustomed. The word 'final' as in 'final nightime walk' had obviously not filtered through to the dog, as he failed to be comforted. "You should  have told him  to stop" was advice given a little too late, when I told Samantha I had to walk him at three in the morning, so that he did not wake the neighbourhood.  This was not on my 'Decathlon' list of events, and when I arose early on Wednesday, it was somewhat unhappily!

I had a busy day Wednesday.  A day that has become normal in my new normal life.  I know I am constantly referring to my 'new' life, albeit fourteen (nearly) years in, but I am still amazed at where I am now, considering my vehement opposition to any mention of living anywhere but England in my younger years.  I left for Joe's around seven, and took with me an array of goodies.  Gingerbread, peanut butter biscuits (cookies) and banoffee filled choux buns.  From Joe's I went to get my nails painted.  The fog had delayed Michelle and as I waited, I called my mother, who had received a call from the supermarket to say that the delivery may be a little late.  I had not realised that her number was in 'my account', but remembered afterward that I had been required to add one, and as it did not recognise my foreign cell phone, it had seemed the obvious choice.  I promised her I would remove it when I got back to the office, but my surprise delivery was no longer a surprise, as she had called Richard to ask why he had given her number!  

From Michelle, with newly, elaborately, painted nails, I went for the third week running to the radio station.  Today was a performance of  'School of Rock'.  None of the usual faces were at the studio.  Being 'Billy no-mates' was also not confined to me, as many people were on their own.  "Help yourself to sandwiches and candy", said the young guy whom I had asked the previous week, "What's on next week?"  We did!  It was a delicious lunch, and decorating the tables were cards and packages, filled with sweets and other 'fun' stuff, such as little notebooks, ice-cream shaped lip gloss, heart ink stamps, and other 'kids' stuff, which had been left over from a Valentines event that had taken place.  Apparently, unable to give 'candy' to children, they had decided to give it to the adults in attendance, and we all took full advantage!  With my bag filled (although not quite as full as some others) I went into the lounge and took a front seat for the performance.  

"See you next week", I said to the young man, who laughed, somewhat anxiously, as I left office bound.  The supermarket delivery had found its way to my son and daughter-in-law, and they were very grateful for the gesture.  

My Olympic event today was to complete my work and get home to clear up my kitchen, which I had left, as is the norm on Wednesday, in a complete mess!  Our Wednesday night visitors had cried off for the evening, as one had a prior engagement, and the other was taking his wife out to dinner for Valentine's Day.  I was rather pleased that I did not have to leave work early to finish off preparing dinner, as I was lagging behind in the event of 'work'.  Dinner was in the crock pot, and ready when we eventually arrived home, and the rice cooker cooked the rice, as I cleared away all the excess mess.

I became slightly overwhelmed on Thursday, as thunderstorms threatened, and my workload became the size of Mount Olympus, and I felt buried in the avalanche that seemed to be preventing me from being able to ski to safety.  Having been up, again, at four o'clock, for another post midnight stroll, I did take the dog for yet another walk, but the impending tempest caused him to pull me back, and we only made it to the crossroads, before he stopped and would not move.  Not in a very long time has the puppy stood stuckfast to the ground and refused to go any further.  The clouds were looking rather angrily down on us, and I thought perhaps he had a point.  We did not want to be caught in a torrential downpour, which would prove to be every bit as scary as the deluge that awaited me back at the office.  I gave in and let him pull me back to our building, which he did hastily!  On the eve of the 'year of the dog', I felt it was appropriate to give in to the hound, again!

No automatic alt text available.Friday saw no let up to the workload, despite heading into a long weekend.  I arrived at the office early, and when Dana announced that he had left his phone at home, I said I would man the fort while he went to get it.  However, apparently, it was considered to be a silly suggestion, as he felt it better he maintain his position in the 'judging' chair, and I go an perform the task!  I could not go home, get his phone, come back, and then take a walk, as time was at a premium.  I made a plan.  Driving home, I suddenly realised that I should have changed into my 'walking' gear before leaving the office.  Once home, I changed, and packed up my 'work clothes' in my back pack an headed out.  I walked to the top of our complex and then hiked through the woods to the adjoining neighbourhood.  I had forgotten the hills.  Our adjoining neighbourhood roads all have the suffix, 'Hills', and for good reason.  From my entry point, all the hills went up, before they went down, and my task was to find the least mountainous!  Olympus one, two or three?  I chose three, as the incline was slightly less than a ninety degree angle, where as the other two appeared to be one of a perfect right angle and the other an obtuse angle, where I would have found it easy to repeat my Monday morning performance of a double back flip with a triple axle!  Hiking had not been in the plan, but hike I did!  Up and up the hill I strode, and then just as I thought I would need oxygen,  I reached the peak, and without the use of skis slalomed down to the main road.

I arrived back at the office, changed into my work clothes, and continued to wade through the mire until seven o'clock, when the checkered flag was waved, and I knew I would only have time for one more lap before having to pack up!  

Enjoying my Saturday morning, I headed out to take part in the marathon event of shopping and completed it in record time.  I did deviate slightly, but not enough to take me completely off course.  

Heading out for the airport at 10:20 on Saturday night was not as bad as I thought it would be.  The kids landed early, and we took them home, and deposited them at their front door, with their dog, and got home before midnight!  I fell into bed and slept sideways, without being herded into a square foot, by our canine grandpup!

So, once again, it is Sunday, and my plans are the same as always.  "What are you doing today?" comes the question.  "Blog", is always the constant, and depending on the time of the year, the next answer differs.  Lemon poppy seed muffins are on the agenda today, for reasons that elude me, but the gauntlet has been laid down, and the challenge accepted.  My Olympic events this week have been somewhat unconventional, but no less deserving, in my opinion, of a medal, than any other competitor!  At least my co-worker will be back in the office on Tuesday to help with the vast amount of paperwork that I piled up on her desk, and we are looking at the possibility of adding a staff member, which will hopefully give us all a little help!  In the meantime, we have a holiday on Monday, which should give me time to recuperate from mental, physical and emotional events that have been added to the great mount which loaned its name to the four yearly event.  Hopefully, next weekend I will be brimming with a renewed sense of eagerness, and have some very exciting events to report in ..... another story!