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Sunday, September 18, 2011


Here in the USA, we are entering what is known as 'fall', and the rain yesterday certainly did that!  There is an old saying in England, that if there is enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers, it will not rain, or it will stop raining, if it has already started.  (I believe there are varying degrees of this saying around the world).  Up until yesterday, we were convinced the sailor would remain 'decent'.

With the summer seeming like it was never going to end, (apologies to those readers in England), Samantha and I promised ourselves that we would go to the outlet mall on the first 'wet' Saturday.  However, with not so much as a single white fluffy cloud in the forecast, we were doubtful our early holiday shopping spree was going to be much before the middle of December.
The temperature had dropped slightly the week after Labor Day, but had jumped right back up into the hundreds, and the fires, although somewhat contained, had not been quenched completely.  Amazingly enough, at the beginning of the week, we were given a reasonable assurance, (not quite a promise, more a promising) that there would be precipitation of sorts.  The disappearance of the sun, behind some opaque matter among the mass of blue, caused us all to peer out of the window, and cast our eyes upward.  It was, indeed, somewhat promising, but there was enough blue sky to make the proverbial sailor a whole suit, so perhaps we were slightly too bouyant.  Nevertheless, we remained positive and shortly before midday, I received a call from one of our contacts in San Antonio, who was quite excited that they had been the recipients of about half an inch of rain, and to our delight, less than a minute after putting down the phone, there were splashes of clear liquid hitting the pavement outside our office.  To see two English girls running outside, and jumping up and down at the sight of rain, was rather amusing to all around.  Unfortunately, it did not last for very long and the ground maintained a pattern of dark spots, rather than a smooth covering.  The forecast, however, was more optimistic.  Saturday was going to be quite 'wet'.
I was very diligent on Saturday morning, and had completed my work by 11am, and after dropping the dog off at the office, Samantha and I departed for the outlet mall.  Although one or two specks had appeared in the sky, there was more than enough blue sky to make our sailor a new wardrobe!  'I could be swimming', I mused, as we travelled along the Interstate.  Samantha, ever encouraging, decided that we should play a game of 'I spy', and she 'spied' something beginning with 'BC'.  Looking around I could see nothing, but then 'spied' a 'Big Cloud!'  Our game became rather tedious as all the signs were there, but the action had yet to begin.

Parking at the mall was not particularly problematic, and we obtained a spot in the middle of the row, in line with our first port of call, and indeed, a port it became.  With far fewer acquisitions than we had hoped in our little paper bag, we left the store to find that the heavens had opened and rain was falling, torrentially.  Crowds had gathered, and 'whooping' and clapping could be heard all around the area.  Laughter mingled with chatter and everyone was smiling; a vast contrast to what I am accustomed.  Rather than going to the car, and crossing over to the section of the mall across the highway, we opted to walk around, under cover, to some of the other shops that we had not planned to visit.  Of course, there were sections that were not covered, and in the three or four steps that were taken unprotected, we were left soaked to the skin.  Seeking asylum in the nearest shop was a bad idea, as the stores were running their air conditioning to combat the outside heat.  The traditional, 'hey, how y'all doing today', was not met with the usual smile and 'great thanks', but with chattering teeth and a rather chilly 'brrrr'. 

The shower turned into a full blown thunder storm and the mood of the shoppers continued to improve.  Two older gentlemen, who were sitting on a chair in an uncovered area, rose, picked up the bench, and moved it under cover.  They then sat down and faced the waterfall that was cascading off the slopped roof.  One of them turned to me, as I passed by and smiled, and said 'Can't miss watching this rain!'  One shop assistant was standing by the door with her phone, taking pictures.  'I want to send this to my mum', she told the manager, with genuine excitement.  Her manager smiled, and simply replied, 'why, I bet it is all over Facebook by now!'  And it was!

Having to take two more unscheduled showers to reach our next destination, we saw the heavy drops turn into a steady drizzle and then disappear back into the clearing sky.  Looking up, we saw that the sailor was going to be clothed again.  Our original purchases were being hugged to our chests, as our paper bags had disintegrated, due to water damage.  It certainly had been the day to shop, although we failed to bring the one item that would have, at one time, been an essential to keep in the car; an umbrella!
We made our way back to the car, and by now the traffic was very heavy.  Having spotted our little mini, I quoted my old chestnut, 'anyone want to buy a space?'  (I once told one of Samantha's friends, when I could not find a space near the front of the supermarket, that someone had taken my space.  She was rather confused and told me that she did not realise that spaces were allocated.  I replied that I paid more for my groceries, which allowed me to park nearer the front.  When we left the supermarket, I offered my space to the highest bidder.  It took a long time for her mother to convince her that I was joking.....on both counts!)  With no offers on my prime parking space, I drove away and waited at the four way stop until it was 'my turn'.  Four way stops are not as alien to me as they were seven years ago.  It is such a 'polite' way to drive, although there are still some who do not 'count' properly, and take their turn one too early.  I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are new to Texas!  After all, who would advance to Go, without taking a Chance!  (Do not collect 200 pounds/dollars!!!)

Time was marching on, and I still had to do my grocery shopping.  I asked Samantha to tell me that I was having fun!  After a couple of hours at the mall, I get a little bit edgy, and quite a bit bored.  It is inconceivable to think that we used to enjoy spending hours just wandering around the shops looking for bargains, before we moved here.  We parked the car so we could continue with our mission in the final section of the mall.  I jumped out of the car in a very cheery mood, having been convinced that I was having the time of my life.  Samantha jumped out into a very deep puddle.  Having dried off completely, her legs were now in water up to her ankles!  'Be careful', I warned her.  'You can drown in two inches of water!'  She was not amused.  She was less amused when, having decided to park at one end of the section and walk to the other, on our return it started to rain again.  The novelty was wearing off, slightly.  It rained all the way back to Walmart. 

The temperature dropped by about 20 degrees and we got home shortly before 7pm.  Samantha was relieved as it was becoming harder to convince me that I was having fun, and I was unable to convince Samantha that she was having fun at all!  Not quite past my bed time, but close to, the sun was disappearing from the sky, and the rain had moved on, for the day, at least.
This morning's blue skies gave way to those that were overcast, and the weather became inclement yet again.  More rain, which was badly needed, fell and the realisation that we are 'falling' gracefully into winter was not as daunting as it could be. When we used to travel through London Gatwick Airport, one of the advertisements, for a bank, showed the difference between various signs in different countries. In some places, a 'thumbs up' sign means something good, in others it does not. Getting excited about rain, rather than mournful, shows that I have assimilated into Texan life more than I care to realise.  Football (both American and Soccer) is dominating the television yet again, and with my three teams winning (Tottenham Hotspur, University of Texas Longhorns, and NFL's Houston Texans), I am a happy bunny (despite the sore throat from screaming various words of encouragement....well mostly encouragement!). 

 I am not sure how my Scottish Team, Hamilton Academicals, faired (having four teams gives me a chance of at least 4-1) but I met a Scotsman today who lived in Hamilton, Scotland, but that is.....another story.

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