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Sunday, July 15, 2018


Rain stopped play on Sunday afternoon.  I was sitting chatting to a couple of neighbours by the pool, and there was a hint of moisture in the air.  "Did you feel rain?" I said, as I could not decide whether it was my skin reacting to the heat.  "Yes, here it comes!" said my neighbour.  We had been sitting for a while and the sun had been going in and out of the clouds.  I had come prepared, and brought an umbrella, just in case.  As the sun shone down, in between being covered by the cumulus, I offered the cover to my neighbour, who was concerned for her skin.  Out came the Union Jack!  My neighbor's family hails from England, and she has fond memories of her childhood, visiting her grandmother, who lived in the English countryside.  "Take a picture", she called to her husband.  She wanted to send it to her daughter.  Not only would she 'get a kick' out of the umbrella, but she would also not believe that her mother was sitting by the pool.  The umbrella had been put away as the shade became more prominent.  

"Here it comes!" repeated my neighbour, as the droplets turned into pellets.  Of course, no one considered using the umbrella!  I quickly gathered up my things, and started to run.  As we reached their house, the clouds that had been shielding us from the sun, burst, and I sloshed my way to my house, which although only a few yards from their's, saw enough time for me to be dripping wet.  I hold less water as I emerge from the pool after a swim!

I finished off last week's post by adding a few pictures, and editing the spelling, (grammar leaves a bit to be desired,) and I attempted to 'publish'.  However, the typeset, and background had changed, and I spent a considerable time trying to work it out.  I am still not sure that I succeeded!

Rain stopped play on Monday.  I did not attempt to go swimming as the thunder and lightening deafened and blinded.  There were no rumbles, just ear-piercing cracks; no flashes, but sharp edged forks.  There was a brief period when the rain stopped, and we looked to the sky for confirmation, and seeing that there was a little bit of blue, (not enough to make a sailor a pair of trousers, but perhaps a sock,) we decided to take the dog and walk to the supermarket.  The material for the sock was soon disintegrated, and the noise emitting from the sky once again became overpowering.  The dog came with us for the walk, but was carried for most of the way there, and all the way back. 

By Tuesday, all was calm.  The temperature had dropped, although not by much.  The storms were now emotional.  The build up to England's semi-final game was in full swing, if only from the two English girls in the office.  Samantha had bought some 'window paint' and we had flags on the back and side windows of our cars.  
Image may contain: 2 people, including Tracie McMichael, people smiling, hat and indoor
My attire on Tuesday was appropriate for the day.  It was, once again, "Cow appreciation day" and Chick-fil-A were showing their appreciation to their customers, by giving away food to those loyal, and otherwise, so long as you were dressed accordingly.  Samantha's old Halloween costume came out of the proverbial moth balls, and I wore my black and white dress, under a black and white jacket.  It has been my costume for several years.  Once again, I had to think of a witty slogan to be eligible!  Due to the abundance of rain over the weekend and previous day, there were many places that had suffered an (albeit small) amount of flooding.  I decided to take advantage of the circumstances, and made myself a sign, which I pinned to my 'cowbell' necklace.  "Left out in the rain Bovine', by Moochael Angelo!" it read!  I thought it was quite clever.  Dana agreed!  However, the subtlety was slightly too much for the first establishment.  Samantha received a hero's welcome, as she walked into the store, wearing her costume.  They charged me for my burger.  "But I thought it was 'Cow Appreciation Day'," said I.  Four (very youthful) members of staff starred at my sign.  Perhaps it was the word 'bovine'.  Perhaps it was the washed out look.  Perhaps it was merely the subtlety.  It is hardly surprising (and up she gets onto her soapbox) that a generation that relies on pictures of the items, rather than words or amounts on the keys of a till, would not understand that I was trying to be clever, by being diverse.  They continued to stare.  Eventually, one nudged another, who nudged the third, who nudged the fourth, and the quartet looked up.  "It is", said one on the end.  I had forgotten the question I had posed, as we had been standing around so long, I thought I was going to be late for 'kick off', for the game that was being held on the following day!  All four looked again.  "Only if you are dressed as a cow", said the only female in the group.  I think it was 'the look' that made her zero out the balance.  It was not harsh, it was not mean, it was merely, "you are kidding, right!"  Eyebrows raised, eyes slightly squinted, nose scrunched.  slight smile.  I offered to pay for my chicken burger, as I did not want them to feel I was claiming under false pretenses, but they shook their heads, perhaps wanting me to leave so as they could 'google' Moochael Angelo!

We decided to drive to the 'other' establishment, the one we have perhaps frequented more.  "Oh that is so funny.  Very clever", said the middle aged lady, who greeted us at the front door.  Their restaurant was very busy, and they had a cow walking around posing for pictures.  Samantha's costume is good, but this was very authentic! (Apart from the fact it was on two legs, and spoke English!)  We posed with the animal!  I thought that perhaps next year I could use the slogan "Some cows are more equal than others", but feared that the quartet from the previous eatery would cower.  Perhaps I could use the word 'cower', or even 'cow-ier', but now I am inciting a tantrum!  The young man at the desk, thought my daughter's costume was 'awesome', and looked at my slogan.  He laughed, heartily enough for me to realise that he understood it not, but was at least intelligent enough to know that it should be funny!  (Of from the soapbox she steps.)

Lunch was enjoyed by several!  

Although the flag on top of my car has faded, the window paint was quite bright.  I drove across town on Wednesday, singing 'Three lions on a shirt', to myself.  No one hooted. No one shouted.  I stopped to fill up with petrol and no one said a word.  I was unsure a to whether anyone would recognise the flag of St. George.  They probably assumed I was a member of a charitable organisation bearing the same insignia!  My drive back to the office was definitely that of an Englishwoman.  I drove my car as I would have driven a taxi, in London, as I weaved through the traffic to get back to the office.   Despite the fact that schools have finished for the summer, the traffic was quite heavy, but no one appeared to be in a hurry to get to where they were going.  Austin had become a little sleepy;  a little more like when we first arrived. 

I worked through the morning, and had my first swim of the week at lunchtime.  Raul was painting the railings around the swimming pool, and we stopped to chat.  "See you tomorrow", I said as I made my way back to my house, "hopefully with a smile on my face!", I added.  He laughed.  A detour was made on our way back to the office, as 'freebie' week continued, and the 7-11 stores were celebrating the eleventh day of the seventh month (in England it would be November!).  I donated my 'slushee' to my husband and the afternoon began!

I drove home after work slightly subdued.  I went swimming and came back up to clean up my kitchen and wash the embellishments off my car.  I was no longer a charity worker!  The euphoria was over, and work would now be accomplished without interruption!  All was quiet on the Western front, to coin a phrase!

Rain did not stop play for the rest of the week.  The torrential storms that we had endured during the beginning of the week had failed to cool the air.  There were no more 'giveaways' in which I had to take part.  

"So, I guess we are going to have to go back to talking about the weather!" I said to Raul, at lunchtime on Friday.  He laughed.  He told me how his son was very upset that Mexico had been eliminated from the competition, much earlier than he had expected.  Apparently, at twelve years old, his world had seemingly come to an end.  At twelve years old, four years does seem a long time to wait for another opportunity.  After a lengthy discussion about how things are 'not the same' as they used to be, I wished him a good weekend, and returned home.

Saturday morning was different.  With the dog still displaying signs of not wanting to eat, Samantha had taken him to the vet, again.  They embarked on a new regime of syringe feeding, (I am choosing to be PC and not using the word 'force',) and he did not resist.  He managed to keep it down for about thirty minutes, but then discarded probably most.  Although we did not have him with us, we made a detour to the vet, and picked up some pills.  

The afternoon was pleasant. I read.  Clouds appeared and even became quite dark at times, but they did not emit any rain.  I fell asleep a couple of times.  On my way back to the condo, I saw my new next door neighbor talking to another elderly neighbor.  "She will know", said the octogenarian.  "What will I know?" I said as I approached.  "The code for the pool".  I did know, and I told my next door neighbor, who corroborated that the octogenarian was indeed right!  I explained that it does not get very busy, and actually it is like having my own pool.  "It is my pool", I told him, "but you are welcome to use it!"  I stood for a couple of seconds, wondering if he hailed from the generation of the quartet at the restaurant on Tuesday, but after taking a second to digest, he responded with, "Well I may just take you up on that offer", and thankfully, laughed in recognition of my joke!  

I was quite surprised at my own level of disappointment in the result of the England match, but once again, it was not for myself as much as the manager of England, Gareth Southgate, as he had proved to be such a gentleman.  I still think the team 'did us proud'.  The 'world' can now go back to national and continental competitions.  Wimbledon is done.  Football has a new champion, and I am ready for a quiet summer.  I am sure there are many more sporting events that I have failed to watch, or to take notice of, but for now, I have exhausted my fanship!  

I am sure I will find plenty to fill my day next week, besides work. The temperatures look like they are getting ready to soar above the century.  So with the hope of this post being readable, I shall leave you with the option of reading ............. another story!

Sunday, July 8, 2018


I promised myself that I would not monopolise my post with 'the' football this week.  Dana does not understand why we, namely the two Brits he knows well, add the 'definite article' before using the word 'football'.  However, I must add a disclaimer before starting this week's saga.  For those who looked at my predictions last week, and shook their head in dismay at the obvious error, I can only say that I am human and misread the small print.  My prediction for the world cup final was thwarted on two levels.  Firstly that Uruguay could no way have met Brazil in the finals because the last match they could possibly have met would have been the semi finals. (My chart is very small print and a bit blurry, and I did not see the 'cross over'.)   The other reason, of course, goes to the word 'would', as both teams were knocked out!  The week was going to be rather interesting, not only because of 'the'  football, but because we were going to have a day off in the middle of the week for my birthday.  Yes, it was my birthday.  I wont say there was no fireworks and it was just another day, because of course, it wasn't.  However, it wasn't the usual run of the mill birthday, either.  

My weekend did not end as planned.  After the busy day on Saturday, I thought I would just sit and read on Sunday afternoon.  A few neighbors were at the pool, Another couple, Jen and Adam, came down, and we all chatted for a while, and then there were three of us, and we all set about the task for which we had all come poolside.  Reading.  I had fifty pages left, and it was getting so exciting, I knew I could whiz through them in a short period of time.  I so wanted to watch the film.  It was a Tom Clancy book, Op-Center.  "Did you read any of the Jack Ryan Books?" asked Adam.  "Is that the one played by Tom Cruise?" I asked.  "No, Tom Clancy", said Jen.  I realised that we were at cross purposes.   "No, that's Jack Reacher?", said Adam. "Oh yes, the most miscast character", I said (sorry Mr Cruise).  "Yes, I agree", said Adam.  "Is Jack Reacher, Tom Clancy?" said Jen.  "No, Jack Ryan?" said Adam and I in unison.  "So who is Tom Cruise?" asked Jen.  "Jack Reacher", said Adam and I in unison.  "He writes Jack Reacher/?", said Jen.  "No!" said Adam and I in unison.    With a variety of Toms and Jacks, I let the explanations be made by Adam, and eventually, we were all on the same page; pardon the pun!  "How do you like the book so far?" asked Adam, as Jen let out a blood curdling scream.  I knew Jen was going to have to undergo surgery at the end of the summer for her shoulder, but I was unaware as to the reason.  It appeared that her shoulder was prone to dislocating at any given moment, and it had just happened again!  Like a headless chicken, I clucked, but did not run up and down, as I was frozen to my seat.  "What can I do?  Can I do something?" I asked, as they calmly walked to the edge of the pool.  "What can I do?" I asked again, like there was anything I could do.  It was apparent that they would have to go to the hospital, so I gathered up their things, and ran them to their condo.  They were still rather relaxed and calm when I returned, and I was still doing the headless chicken impersonation!  Adam asked if I could sit with his wife, while he got the car.  I agreed.  I chatted non-stop, to keep my wits about me, as I am not very good in such situations, and need to keep myself calm, rather than the patient.  I cracked a couple of very old and bad jokes, and eventually we heard the tale tell sound of the engine of Adam's car, and he came to collect his wife.  They apologised profusely for spoiling my afternoon, but I was only too glad that someone, if only a decapitated fowl impersonator, was there to help.  

I wandered up to my home, and told Dana what had happened.  I had felt quite helpless.  However, he received a call a couple of hours later from Jen, to tell him how calming I was!  She had no idea that the constant chatter was to calm me and not her, but she did not care, as it was apparently very soothing!  Who knew a squawking bird could do the trick!  Her shoulder had maneuvered itself back into place before the x-ray at the hospital, as it is prone to do on occasion, but all was now well, and her appreciation was much appreciated.  I felt a lot better, as I am sure did she!

Monday was busy.  I thought it may be the storm that was going to calm before the midweek holiday.  My computer died half way through the match where Brazil knocked out their Latino counterpart, Mexico.  I thought of  another of my neighbours, who had hoped to get her t-shirt before the game, but was confident that she would wear the Mexico flag through to the final!  After my lunchtime swim, I took my 'surface' to the office, so that I would be able to work uninterrupted, and have the full use of my computer as well as watch the afternoon 'knockout'. The game between Japan and Belgium was an absolute delight to watch.  The strategy of Japan made me think of long gone years, when I would say to my father, "Why would they kick it to an empty space", and he would reply, "Because someone should have been there!"  I was somewhat ambivalent about the result, but looked forward to the following day when I hoped the game would be as clean!

As Wednesday was a holiday, I went to have my nails decorated on Tuesday, without first going to Joe.  I had gone into work early, to clear some of the backlog that had been piling up, as Joe did not respond to my text.  Finally, he sent me a message asking if it was too late for me to travel across town.  I told him it was and that I had decided to go to work early instead.  "Are you feeling well?" was the response!  

Image may contain: one or more people and close-upAfter having stars and stripes painted upon my upper digit coverings, in a slightly more abstract design than traditional, I left the nail salon for the last time.  (I must add, a design Samantha had found from a third party source,) Upon hearing that my technician is moving back 'downtown', euphoria was an understatement!  I was delighted that I would not have to travel along the 'ever being improved' roads was simply the best news I could have had at the time!  Roadworks had been a constant since she moved in! Samantha was sending me messages throughout the manicure, to let me know the fate of Switzerland.  

Raul was ready for my afternoon prediction.  When we had digested all the possibilities of what was now one of the most unpredictable scenarios, I wished him a 'happy 4th'.  He asked if I celebrated the day, as I was English and of course it was, in fact, (although I always say to Dana, we knew what we were giving up, and did so gladly!) a loss for my nation.  I explained that the fourth will forever remain a celebratory day for me, and when he found it was my birthday, he rose from his seat and gave me a hug.  

The game was rather more exciting than I had hoped.  The guys in the next door office were all cheering for the opposition!  As the ninety minutes came to an end, and extra time was called, I exclaimed that I could not take the added emotion!  We watched and groaned, as next door cheered, and cheered as next door groaned.  As the penalty shootout started, the silence was deafening, and between each kick, once again, the cheers and groans alternated.  After the end of the match, when the loudest cheer came from our side of the wall, I knocked on the door of our neighbours.  We gave the game its traditional autopsy, and I was given a 'high five' by one of the guys.  It was rather amusing to have someone in the building not only following the competition, but being an opponent.  Again, it took me back many years as my father and one of his brothers supported two different London teams, where the rivalry was a way of life!

The work did not slow down, as predicted, but I decided to put everything on hold, that could be put on hold, and left the office around 5:30pm, and went swimming.  Dana joined me around six, and we sat for a while, contemplating the peace, before going home and making dinner.

Following family tradition, I bid farewell to my outgoing age, and on Wednesday morning, I said 'hello' to my new year.  It is something my father did with us as kids, and it has stuck!  "Don't forget to say goodbye to six tonight, and hello to seven in the morning", he told me, all those years ago.  I did the same with my children, and strangely enough, I feel unable to break the habit!  Dana and I went to Mozart's Coffee Lounge, and waiting for us was a dog bearing balloons, and a daughter with cards and a bag containing gifts.  Two microwave covers were gratefully received, as Dana had managed to 'melt' mine, and I was unable to find replacements.  My daughter knew I would be excited by such a practical gift, and I was!  

The pool was deserted, and I swam for about twenty minutes.  It was a beautiful morning, but suddenly the clouds rolled in and a clap of thunder sent us running up the steps, and along the road, just in time to escape the torrential rain that had started to pour.  Pour it did all afternoon, and evening.  Although the fireworks were not 'rained off', I decided that I could miss the (anticlimactic) event this year, as the bugs would probably outnumber the people by thousands!  Dinner at Abuellos was delightful, and a birthday dessert was produced but without the singing of the traditional song.  I had a great video call with my grandsons and Steph, and Richard called me on his way home.  I had arranged for his 'birthday delivery' of cakes and stuff for today, as he had to take Ollie to the hospital for a check up on Thursday and would not be at work for his big day!

All in all, the uneventful day was extremely welcomed and enjoyed.  A day off in the middle of the week is always something to celebrate!

Thursday morning was busy.  Despite thoughts to the contrary, that people may make a long weekend of it, our phones rang and our emails exploded with projects and requests.  Obviously my unselfish act of wanting everyone else to take a holiday (that is my excuse and I am sticking to it!) was not taken to heart, and the midweek one day holiday was just a midweek one day holiday!  

No automatic alt text available.Before I went for my morning swim, the birthday celebrations were once again reignited, with Samantha presenting me with a cake, and the office staff singing a resounding version of the old favourite!  My cake was perfect.  A white t-shirt with three lions heads popping up across the top.  I loved it.  No one else understood.  We laughed.  My mother's card arrived in my mailbox and that made me laugh too.  Two women, from a bygone era, standing by the phone, with the caption, "That was the school. Nothing important.  Just one of the other mothers called to say her child was better than yours".  I do like my mother's humour!

A four day week with a break in the middle is quite refreshing, and Friday rolled around quickly!  The last of my 'at least fifty percent' predictions were eliminated as France and Belgium strolled their way home to defeat Uruguay and Brazil.  I now had a favourite in one of the semi-final matches, and I care not that they beat England in the group stages!!

Saturday morning started reasonably early.  Dana and I enjoyed a cup of coffee and he went off to work, after turning on the television.  As I had an agenda, I did not wish to be distracted, so I turned down the sound.  However, I missed the first goal and had to back up to see the replay.  Chores would have to wait until half time!  As the second half commenced, I heard the commentary, and realised Samantha had arrived, phone in hand.  Her broadcast was about thirty seconds behind the television, but due to my inability to negotiate my way around the several remote control units we have, we sat and watched in silence.  When I say, 'in silence', I mean with a lack of commentary. (albeit the thirty second delay commentary was still in force.) "Penalty!" she shouted.  "In the middle of the field?" I countered.  "Why not!" she said.  "Clean game, please!" I countered.  The clock ticked its way to ninety minutes.  "Two minutes.  Three tops", I said.  "One" she hoped.  "Five.  How?" we said in unison!  It is amazing how time flies when you are having fun, and how it seems to drag at others.  We sat, running on the spot as Sweden had possession of the ball, in the England penalty box, and jumped for joy as the ball was kicked away.  Eventually, the final whistle blew and we shrieked.  "Footballs coming home!" we sang, over and over.  

Our trip to Costco was loud.  Singing at the top of our voices, we joined in the chorus, "Three lions on a shirt", and swayed and punched the air.  Amazingly enough, my main reason for wanting the cup to go to the England squad is because of their manager. Gareth Southgate missed a penalty in the world cup in 1996.  This caused England to lose the match.  How befitting it would be if he could manage the team to a victory!  Of course, I would also be happy for the rest of the squad and the country too!  However, I digress.  We walked into the warehouse, and noticed that none of the televisions on display were showing highlights of the game.  It was a travesty!  Samantha spotted one at the back of the area.  We walked over, just in time to see a replay of the second goal.  Turning slightly, I notice a member of staff who used to work in the photograph department, and who knew Samantha by name, as she was by far her best customer some time ago!  She is also married to an Englishman, and he had encountered similar problems to Samantha when going through residency.  She waved to us, and we walked over to her new department.  "It's coming home", she shouted to us as we neared.  "Three lions on a shirt", we said back to her.  Her colleague just laughed.  "Want to see a picture of my baby?" she said as she proudly lifted a photo of her little girl from the wall.  "She is wearing an England strip today.  I told my husband, put a bow in her hair, at least!  He wont quit with the 'Football's coming home' jokes," she said.  "It's no joke!" said I, and we all laughed, leaving her colleague bemused, rather than amused!  

The rest of the day was rather a blur.  Samantha dropped me home, and I went for a swim.  No one ventured down to the pool, and I was updated with scores from the other quarter final match.   The rain held off and I was able to enjoy an afternoon reading.  

Once again, I am reminded of how blessed I am, and no matter how hard I (think I) work, there is always an opportunity to  relax and enjoy what I call a 'holiday atmosphere'.  A pool and a book!  

Another year of my life has gone by, and I barely noticed.  I do not feel any older, and according to my daughter, I certainly do not act my age, but I have no idea how I should act at 'my age', other than be polite and relatively grown up!  Of course, forty plus years ago, when I started work on 5th July, the day after my birthday, I would never have dreamed that I would have been spending my fifty plus birthdays in the United States of America, despite always knowing the citizens celebrated each year with me!  Life deals me a new hand each week, and next week will be ............ another story!

Sunday, July 1, 2018


Never has the divide been so wide!  "We are not interested in the football", became, "We are hosting in 2026, and we want....".  For those that are really not interested in the football, I apologise, but it has been a blast!  I would also announce there are spoiler alerts!

The Royal Wedding has been put aside.  Football has (to some begrudgingly) taken a hold.  It has been quite interesting to be the authority on a subject, in a foreign land.  I am also very much in the minority.  "Who would you like see win the whole thing", I am asked.  "Are you serious?" say I.  "We want Germany?" they reply.  "Are you serious?" say I.  "I didn't know Britain had a team", say they. "Britain doesn't.  England does", say I.  "What happens if....", "What will they do if....?" are questions posed.  "How can the team with four points in this group not go through, and the team with four points in this group go top?"  It takes a long time to explain something, which to me is just a simple question of mathematics, but if you have not been brought up with the dynamics, it is not as easy to grasp.  I cannot always see the science in how the 'ranking' of the American football teams actually works.  Especially in the college games.  However, I am patient.

Monday morning did not start exactly the way I would have liked.  I walked into the office and could smell something unpleasant.  I was quite sure I had not left any food uncovered, or unrefrigerated over the weekend, but the noxious aroma appeared to be coming from our kitchen area.  As I walked into the back room, the smell became more pungent, but there was no obvious culprit.  "Oh yuk", came the cry from my daughter.  "It's wet!"  The carpet was saturated, and it was then that I realised that I could hear a gentle, continuous tapping.  Water was dripping from the ceiling, and one of the tiles was so bowed, it looked as if it would burst at any time.  Once again, the air conditioning duct had 'backed up', and the stoppage point is over our 'spare room'.  Samantha and I set about clearing away the cardboard boxes full of old papers, and the one containing my 'walking' clothes, which smelled like they could walk themselves to the washing machine!  It took about half an hour to clear everything away, and find new homes for our 'archives'.  Dana called our management agency, and they promised to have someone come and inspect shortly.  

"It is the air conditioning.  It has backed up, and it comes to a stop just above here", said the maintenance man.  "Hmm", was all I could say.  It has happened before, but usually after a holiday weekend, when no one has been in, and the air conditioning has had an extra day off!  However, he promised someone would come and fix it, and he would also get a 'clean up crew' in to 'clean up'.  As my morning had been 'messed with', I came home to swim early.  I was very busy, and Dana had indicated that the afternoon was going to run at a faster pace than the morning. I pointed out that his afternoon may run at a faster pace, as my morning had been quite fast enough!

The 'evening' football game was to be played at 7pm in England, and therefore, it would start at 1pm in our neck of the woods.  My computer has taken a distinct dislike to my national game, and turns itself off at crucial moments, losing all my work, and causing me to reboot at intervals.  I am unsure as to why it only powers down when I watch the games, but perhaps the excitement proves too much.  As I am watching the match progress, and the tension grows, it all becomes too much for my computer, and it closes its eyes and goes to sleep.  

Our on-site maintenance man, Raul, was sitting in his shed, shielding himself from the heat.  "I am waiting for the next round", he said, as we discussed the weekend games, and predictions.  "If they draw, and they win, and this one gets at least three....", I said, as we got into statistics and particulars.  "Thank you", he said, as I wished him a good afternoon.  "You are the only one who talks about the World Cup with me!"  I thanked him for allowing me to do so.  

I returned to work, and as Dana had predicted, we were inundated.  As I had predicted, as the match got to a crucial moment, my computer took an overdose of 'technical Valium', and turned itself off!

The air conditioning repairmen arrived shortly after one.  I use the word 'men' in the loosest of terms, as they appeared to be little more than teenagers, and dressed accordingly.  The one who was 'in charge', smiled as he walked through carrying a ladder.  His 'second' lunged through the door, his cap on backwards, and failed to regain his balance, knocking into the ladder, and almost causing a second catastrophe!  It was like watching a younger version of Laurel and Hardy, although both were built like the latter, and neither had the demure look of the former.  "Where's Frank at?" asked the one who had not yet learned the art of upright walking.  I refrained!  Oh how I would love to teach grammar!  They walked into the back after shouting a "Hey Frank" to the dog, who was curled up on his bed atop Dana's desk.  Within a few seconds, the game started to get interesting, and I was willing my computer to stay awake.  The two lads remembered the previous 'leaking' event, and headed out to next door's office as they would have to access the vents from there.  "We are going next door.  We have to get to the vents from there", said number one.  "Yes.  I remember now, but thank YOU FOR ....ahhhh...coming in so quickly", I responded, as the ball came so close to the goal line, but was hit away by a sharp thinking defender.  They smiled.  "Soccer?" they asked.  "No.  Football!", I responded with a grin!

The 'clean up crew' consisted of one man, with a large vacuum cleaner.  He tried to explain what he was going to do, but his English not only lacked grammar, it lacked English.  I gathered from hand signals, and various noises, that his rather enormous hoover would not only clean up the debris, but suck up the water.  He smiled at Dana, and started his work.  It did not take long, and he left after trying to explain something that even hand signals failed to transmit.  I gathered from his pointing to the machine, and his sharp intake of breath, that he had sucked up the water, and cleaned the floor.  I thanked him, although not as emphatically as I had the two young lads.

We left the office and headed for Sprouts to get some groceries.  They had a 'special' on chicken and I was running low.  We went into the deli next door to have some dinner before our 'sale' shopping.  A young girl was sporting a Mexico shirt, and a game was on the television.  "It's baseball", said Dana, showing a degree of excitement.  We ate, we shopped and we came home.

I was hoping for a quieter day on Tuesday, just so that I could get caught up, but the distractions were too great.  I knew that my computer had decided to inject itself, when the sound from my earphones ceased.  I had not been watching the morning game, as my eyes were needed on another screen, but I had audio capability.  The outcome of who would win the groups was really academic, although there had been so many upsets, nothing was final until the final whistle blew.  I did not have a 'dog in the hunt' in any of the games, although my natural opposition of some was obvious by my cheers and groans.  Raul was waiting for a lunchtime chat, and was one step closer to forming a decision on whom to support!  "My daughter played, but my sons did not.  When we used to go to the park, we would see the Mexican kids playing, but my boys were not interested". I smiled.  "Sweaters for goalposts?" I asked.  "Yes!" he responded and laughed heartily.  "You understand", he said, in a most grateful way.

Dinner was cooking in the oven when we returned home.  I had bought a variety of things that I thought might tempt the dog, who is still not eating as much as he should.  Human food is not ideal, but the vet had said that anything is better than nothing, just to get him back on track.  I had bought a lot of different varieties of minced meat, including chicken, beef, turkey and brisket!  He didn't like the brisket, so Dana was going to have them in the style of meatballs!  He did not object.  In fact, I think we now have a new ingredient for one of his old favourites!

I went to Joe on Wednesday morning.  I had played with another banana bread recipe and was wanting some feed back.  The traffic was quite light, as schools have, in the main, finished for the summer.  We did not discuss football at all.  The two members of his staff that are remotely interested, were in Peru, and I did not feel the need to inflict my passion upon those whom have no interest!  

An early swim was once again on the cards.  "Argentina are through", said Raul, a little disappointed.  "They are not playing well", he said.  I was quite surprised that he would not want a South or Central American team to qualify, but he seemed to have more fondness for the European teams.  "Germany are playing today", he said, showing a little more enthusiasm.  "Puh!" I said, in jest.  "Arch rivals I am afraid.  I don't suppose they will lose, but I can only hope!" I said, as I bid him a good afternoon.  

Germany had to pack their bags and go home on Wednesday evening.  It was a very good match, even though part of it was watched on Samantha's phone, as my computer refused to give me the good news!  My thoughts immediately went to my old neighbour, whom four years previously, had returned to the pool rather the worse for wear, and did not remember any of his actions the following day.  My week could end now.  England were through despite the game to be played the following day.  Dana could not understand the euphoria.  After all, it is only a game.  Try as I might, without having the background, it is impossible to grasp!  No, I have nothing against the Germans as a nation.  I have nothing against the players of their football team personally.  It is just a 
'grudge match', and a bit of fun.  He shrugged.  

Dana had been playing 'tag' with a city employee all week.  After we had our new air conditioning unit fixed, an inspection was required to assess its level of efficiency and our entitlement to a rebate.  The inspector had called Dana to make a 'mutually convenient time', and then told him when he would be there.  When asking if he could call when he was ten minutes away, he had point blank refused.  Follow up calls were made by administrative staff, as they did not know the circumstances, and he eventually called back again, to set up another 'mutually convenient time', and again refused to 'play ball'!  However, the lack of co-operation was noted by a 'referee' and a call was received!  I came home around 11am on Thursday.  

After being told that the 'nest' was not in a suitable place, and my original smoke detectors were probably useless, but the system was okay, he left.  As I had no bedrooms downstairs, the placing of the 'nest' was not really a problem, but I should be aware!  Two minutes of my time had been taken.  I went for a swim.  "So, Germany are out.  Argentina are in, and England are playing today". Raul had the schedule committed to memory.  A game plan was hatched.  As the morning matches had been played, and the England match was merely to decide who came out on top, all the qualifiers for the 'knockout' rounds had been decided, and he was ready to make a prediction.  "Uruguay versus Brazil, in the final.  Although I would love to see England there", I said.  He scrunched his nose.  "You think?  I think Portugal may win.  And Spain"  Of course the football is different.  They play a different game!"  Oh the joy!  "Thank you", I said.  "No one seems to get that.  Although the players of the national teams do not necessarily play for league teams in their own country, there is a difference in the way they play.  No one gets it!"  We laughed.  A firm appreciation for each other's opinions had been formed!

I went back to work, watched England play for three quarters of the game, tutted as my screen went blank, and watched the rest on Samantha's phone.  Half way through the second half, the daily solicitor called. "Hello ma'am.  What home improvement would you like to have?"  I did not have time for the scam.  "Sorry.  No time to chat.  I am watching the football.  Have a nice day.  Bye".  The receiver was replaced!  

"So England lost.  But I think it is better for them", said Raul, at lunchtime on Friday.  We gave the game the official 'autopsy', and he was ready for the weekend, when Portugal were going to prove either him or me correct.  

Image may contain: dessert and foodSaturday morning was not usual.  Samantha's god-daughter was six years old, and we were off to her party!  As a good godmother, she had made a cake to the little one's specific specifications.  I am not sure that at six I would have an idea.  "Three layers of chocolate cake.  Cream cheese frosting (alien to me at six) and sprinkles.  My name in M&M's and strawberries around the bottom."  The cake was just that.  We drove to Liberty Hill, and watched France send Argentina back on a long haul flight!  It was a hard match.  The game itself was quite good, but choosing a team was much harder!  "Can't they just both go out with a draw?" said Samantha.  That's my girl!  

The party was a great success, as was the cake.  Portugal were playing Uruguay on the television screen set up on the deck.  "What's your EPL", asked one of the male guests.  "My what?" I said, oblivious to the initials.  "Your EPL.  Don't you have one?"  I could only think he was talking about a medical condition, but braved the question, "What is an EPL?"  He looked at me with amazement. "Your English Premier League team.  Don't you have one?"  The young man was wanting Portugal to win, and was not happy at the prospect of yet another South American team getting through.  "Oh.  I see.  Well yes.  Tottenham Hotspur", I replied.  "But I have never heard it called that before.  It is called the premier league now, but when in England, we do not use the prefix.  Also, when I was growing up, it was Division one, two, three and four.  None of this fancy stuff!"  He acknowledged my disappointment!  Once again, I had found a fellow fan.  "You mean soccer", he said, when we were discussing the game further.  "Nope.  Football".  He looked at me seriously.  "But over here we call it soccer", he said, emphatically.  "But you are in an overwhelming minority calling it soccer", said I, "And as you are not playing in the tournament....need I say more".  My eyes said it all, and he laughed, fortunately, rather heartily.  

The trip home was broken with a trip to Costco in Cedar Park, where they had my bread flour in abundance.  As we turned into my complex, Dana sent me a text to tell me the final score.  Portugal were busing it home!   Poor Raul!  

My afternoon was very pleasant.  I sat by the pool but could not doze as my neighbour's were entertaining their family, and it as rather crowded.  It was not the noise that prevented me from having a snooze, but the possibility of snoring or drooling, or even sleep talking!  I cannot doze when people are around!  

We went out to eat later that evening, and whilst eating, I heard an English accent.  Surprisingly enough, I did not mention the football at all.  A young man was on a working 'exchange' trip,  He would be here for a year.  His parents had come to visit, and he was showing them Austin.  They had already decided that they would return 'several times' while he was here!  We chatted for some time and they seemed quite pleased that I had stopped by the table. This was the icing on the the cake.  My day was complete!

The dog came for a sleepover on Saturday as the kids had a party and did not want to leave him for too long.  He enjoyed my leftovers, and was happy to snuggle up and go to sleep on my bed!  I allowed Dana to take charge of the 2am walk (as the dog has decided that this is the norm when staying at my house).  

Watching Spain lose on penalties was surprising, but this competition has been full of surprises.  Croatia and Denmark also caused a stir in my predictions, but I am still on target.  

The competition continues, and I shall continue to enjoy!  I shall try not to bore too many people, and hope that Raul and I can continue with our chats, despite him having to choose a new team to support.  I shall try to remember to take my laptop into work, to watch the games, so that my work computer does not feel the need to self medicate when it all gets too much!  All in all, I shall still, hopefully, be around next week, to write ............ another story!

Sunday, June 24, 2018


The tire light came on as we left the office of Friday.  It was a little bit of a blow, considering that  our 'new to us' car, which we hae had for two months now, has just had the 'once over' following a faux pas by the dealership.  They had assumed that the inspection had been completed, but apparently, when they sent of for the 'plates', they realised that they had let us drive it off the lot without the required certification.  They called Dana is a panic, and requested that he bring it in immediately, but he explained that the earliest he could take care of it would be on Saturday.  They called again, and again.  When Saturday arrived, they not only did the inspection but valeted the car, and offered to fill the tank.  Dana left the dealership with everything in order, and is now waiting for the call to collect the registration plates.  However, somewhere between then and now, something had happened to make us lose tyre pressure.  

It was a very turbulent week.  The 'maid of the mist' poncho was out of hibernation, as the rain continued to pour on Monday.  The temperature had dropped considerably, and I did not feel like subjecting myself to swimming if the pool was going to be on the chilly side.  Perhaps at the beginning of the season, I would have found it pleasant, but as the months progress, my tolerance becomes less.  

My lack of tolerance did not stop at the coolness of the water.  I was plagued, and I do not use the word lightly, with a variety of phone calls from solicitors, and again, the word 'solicitors' does not apply to the English version of 'Attorney'.  Calls came flooding in, and as I am the 'first responder' when it comes to the phones in the office, my patience started to wear a little thin.  

Our lunchtime walk took us to the supermarket, and the dog came too.  His lack of appetite prompted another appointment at the vet, and this was due to happen on Tuesday morning.   I was on a mission.  I had to buy bagels.  Breakfast in the office, for Samantha and Dana is bagels.  Samantha insists on cinnamon raisin, and Dana has either plain or blueberry.  Much as this seems to be trivial, to the two above mentioned people, there is nothing unimportant about it.  It is almost a ritual.  Bagels or bust!  Of course, neither toast the bagels.  That is down to me.  Dana would go without as he is too busy, and Samantha puts on the schmooze by telling me that "No one makes them like you".  As I am making coffee, and there is not much room in our little makeshift kitchen area at the office, it makes sense.  Or at least that is what I am told!

Our walk was brisk, as we had to be back in time for the world cup game between England and Tunisia.  I knew that I would be listening rather than watching, but we had not managed to find an audio version that could be accessed without the promise of signing up for several inane websites, none of which would hold any interest and all of which appeared to ask the most intrusive questions.  Samantha had access to a visual option, due to Edward's employment perks, but he was not answering his phone.  "Perhaps he is in a meeting", I said, wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt.  "He can answer a text", she said, getting a little more frustrated as the whistle to start play was about to blow.  "Would you like me to call?" I said, wondering why he should take my call and not hers.  She said it couldn't hurt.  I didn't call, but I did send him a text.  "Edward. Call your wife.  She needs to watch the football!"  I did not get a reply.  However, within seconds, she got a phone call, and we were both set up to watch our team.   

After three successive solicitation phone calls, I was rather peeved.  My computer kept 'freezing', and I was watching the match at least a minute behind the rest of the world!  Samantha was very sympathetic (tomorrow's breakfast possibly being on the line here) and did not make a sound when England scored their final goal, a few minutes before the end of the match.  I continued to work, and watch, as best I could.  "Yes!" I screamed as our lad Harry, kicked the ball into the back of the oppositions net.  With only four minutes to go, I could not stand the suspension anymore and went into Samantha's room, where the match was 'live'.  Dana was already there!  It seemed very sad that we all had to go back to work, after celebrating for less than a minute, but back to work we went!

I played hookey just once more Monday afternoon, when I spoke to one of my old friends, Anita, who is coming Stateside later in the year, and was asking for some advice.  I don't know that I was able to help much, but we had a nice chat!  

I do not really object to making breakfast in the mornings, as both my husband and my daughter have been known to return the favour and take care of me, and this was the case on Tuesday morning, when I was presented with a cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts, as Samantha took the dog to the 'you know who', and stopped on the way back to pick up 'breakfast'.  It became a very long day.  "Call at midday if you have not heard anything", she was told.  I pretended I was not looking at the clock every five minutes!  At midday she was told to call back at two thirty.  It appeared they were giving him something to see if there were any blockages internally, and this would take a little longer to work.  We decided to walk back to the supermarket, as the lack of cinnamon raisin bagels on Monday had caused a slight concern.  Tuesday morning saw the last one taken from the freezer, and the panic had already started to set in!  Together with the panic, came the clouds.  They rolled in and started to cry as we set off.  The walk was rather pleasant, and the ground was still quite dry.  

There was an abundance of bagels of all varieties, and I scooped up a dozen, before heading to the cash desk.  Samantha had managed to get her poncho stuck on the corner of the housing for the conveyor belt, and could not budge.  The arm kept catching, and she kept on getting pulled back.  The staff at the shop, who were rather amused at our attire to begin with, were laughing quite openly, as she went forward, and back, forward and back, before eventually freeing herself.  "Only you two", said one of the cashiers.  Yes.  We have arrived, and we are a duo!  After paying for the bagels, we stepped out of the shop into a torrential downpour.  Texas rain!  By the time we were out of the store car park, and walking along the pavement, the puddles were almost ankle deep, and in the main, unavoidable.  Although from head to knee I was covered by plastic, from the shins down, I was soaked.  The bagels were tucked away in a back pack and quite safe.

I went with Samantha to get the dog.  I appeared that there was

nothing wrong.  There was no blockage.  There were no outward signs of problems.  He ate quite happily from a syringe.  This was going to be an uphill struggle, but it was the best way to get food into his little tummy.  "I know this might sound odd", I said, being brave, as I found the vet to be rather difficult to understand, "But could it be depression.  You know how some people get depressed after an operation?"  He looked at me, and pointed to the x-ray, and started to tell me what they wanted to avoid, and how they had looked for certain ailments, and left me none the wiser.  It was probable that he did not understand me either!  "Ask him if he thinks it's his teeth", said Samantha as the vet walked out to get the dog.  "Oh sure", I said.  "He will probably tell me it has dropped to 76 degrees outside!" 

We brought the happy puppy back to the office, and wondered how the next few days were going to pan out, regarding his eating habits.

Try as I might to not let things 'pile up', mentally, I fail miserably.  My organisational skills rely upon plain sailing and if my routine is 

'put out' by one thing, the rest falls like a pack of cards.  If I have organised my week around going swimming at lunchtime, and it rains, it alters the status quo.  My only saving grace is that I know how irrational I am!

After going to Joe on Wednesday, I cruised across town to get to my nail technician.  It was going to be another walking day.  The steam came off the pavement as the last rain storm rolled through, but the ponchos were not needed.  The dog seemed to enjoy the exercise.  

The week continued to travel along and the football became the highlight.  I listened to many a game, and watched a few choice moments.  It was enjoyable to not have a 'dog in the hunt', and watch some last minute goals, and surprises.  Without the football, my week would have consisted of bagels and solicitors, with a touch of canine to break the monotony.  We left work on Friday night and headed home.  "I need to put air in the tyre", said Dana, as we drove the short distance to our house.  

At last, Saturday came around, and the usual plan was put into place.  We went to Costco, Walmart, and the Dollar Tree.  We put in an appearance at the ailing 'Toys R Us', as they entered their final days in the retail world.  Samantha found a Teddy Ruxpin on offer, and could not resist buying herself an updated version of a child hood toy she had loved.  The price she paid was cheaper than the original toy bought all those years ago!

After a wonderful afternoon at the pool, we got ready to go for dinner.  We were meeting Samantha and Edward at one of the local buffets.  As we turned onto the road where the restaurant sits, we felt the car judder.  It limped into the car park, and we got out.  The tyre was as flat as a pancake!  Or if I were to speak American, it was as flat as a crepe!  (The pancakes here have a little bit of substance!)  We went into the restaurant and I had lost my appetite.  My pack of cards folded!  When we had all finished, Edward retrieved his super charger, which not only charges a flat battery, but also charges phones, has a special light, and more to the point, inflates tyres.  "Why don't you just change the tyre?" said Samantha, who decided to check whether we had a spare and was not the only one to be pleased to see that we did.  (Apparently, some cars do not even have the 'donut' anymore.)  "Let's just get some air in it and see what happens", said Dana.  The tyre inflated to a certain level, but would not take any more air.  There was enough air to get us to the garage opposite and inflate it with their high pressure machine.  "Why don't you just change the tyre?", said Samantha.  Dana repeated his previous answer.  We said cheerio to the kids, and headed south. 

"What's wrong with the machine?" came a voice that sounded like my daughters  "We thought we would follow you, just in case", said Samantha.  The air machine was not working.  Samantha said, "Why don't you just change the tyre?"  Dana started to walk towards the cashier station.  "They won't do anything about the air machine", said I.  "They will say it is not theirs, and to call the number on the side!"  He continued to walk.  "Why don't we just change the tyre", said my daughter, who had the boot open and was unscrewing the mechanism.  "There you are.  All we need is here!" she said, as she pulled out the spare, and the jack.  The gave Edward instructions, and he started to unwind the jack.  Dana came back to the car, in time to see Samantha treading on the lug-wrench and holding on to Edward to get some traction.  "They wouldn't give me my money back.  They said it is not theirs and there is a number on the side, that I should call".  By now, not only had Samantha got all the bolts loosened, but she had Edward 'jack up' the car, and was taking off the 'flat'.  Dana was starring in awe.  "There!  I have changed the tyre!" 

We got home, after profuse thanks, and made a decision to go to the tyre store next to my favourite breakfast eatery, and have it fixed whilst we ate, on Sunday.  We stuck to the plan.  My cards were not quite neatly stacked, but the deck was not folded.  The car was not quite ready when we returned, so we walked, killing two birds with one stone as we were going to be a little later home than usual.  We had been asked to tea at a neighbour at four, and while I was talking to my mum, I made some scones to take.  I went to the pool earlier than usual, so I could leave earlier.  It was a worthwhile compromise!

The car is fixed.  The 'donut' is back in place, and I am ever so grateful to my daughter.  Making a her bagel every day is not quite a fair swap but I will continue, in case I need any more maintenance done!

Rain, apparently, will not stop play now for a couple of months, but then again, it is Austin, so who knows what tomorrow will bring.  The dog ate a little more than he has been doing today, as I was very patient, and fed him little and often.  As for me, well my deck of cards is stable at present, but tomorrow is another day.  I am confident that it will stay stacked, but I will let you know in ........ another story!