I have often (mis)quoted the line from the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, 'The best laid schemes of Mice and Men often go awry.'. However, my substitution of the word 'plans' for 'schemes', indicates that my preparations do not always run to order. The cold spell that was promised for the weekend, had me making plans that, alas, went awry.
The week at work was, as is annually predictable, unpredictable. Monday started off very slowly, and quietened to silence. Tuesday was so busy, that we didn't think we would make it out of the door before midnight. We have tried to make sense of the erratic period between Memorial Day and Thanksgiving, but there does not seem to be rhyme nor reason. However, if I were to hazard a bizarre guess, my only thought would be the college football season. Odd as it may seem, when the UT Longhorns (University of Texas) play out of State, everything goes very quiet. If they play at their Austin ground, everything livens up. If they play during the day, and win, the restaurants are full, if they lose, you know you will get a seat in any eatery, at prime time. I am not sure why this would interfere with work, but it is the only thing that fits. Of course, it could have something to do with attorney's 'tidying up' before the end of the year, then realising they have 'tidied' with another month to go! As I said, there is no rhyme nor reason!
Thursday was another busy day, and although the sun hid sleepily behind the clouds before eight, the temperature soared to ninety degrees. By Friday, it had dropped to below sixty, and the trousers suits knew their time for hanging around in the wardrobe was coming to an end. By the time we got home on Friday night, the winds had started to howl, and as soon as I got in from the relative cold, into what was relatively warm, I fell asleep. Although my week had not been particularly exciting, there were a few things that had been noteworthy. My plan was to start writing my next post while it was all fresh in my mind. By the time I awoke on later on Friday night, the television was playing to itself, and it was too late to get out my computer, without the risk of waking my brain, and reactivating my mind, so that I would not be able to sleep during the small hours. However, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford were working hard to expose President Nixon's liaison with Watergate, and further dozing became impossible. Mr Burns words, however, remained accurate.
Saturday was colder than Friday and once the housework was done, I wrapped up warm and ventured into the outside world. Although my computer had been booted up, my mind had gone completely blank, and a new post seemed to be impossible. I could not remember anything that would be of any interest to my nearest and dearest, let alone anyone else. Writer's block is an occupational hazard. When I left England, I promised everyone I knew, a copy of my book which I had been successfully writing, once it had been published. Updating the dated manuscript has not been easy, as I have had to continually interject the expansion technology and on going life. Despite the flow of the first few chapters, the remainder of the book has been less fluent. It is, unsurprisingly, comedy based, unlike the first book I started to write, which I had to abandon, due to a parental conflict. Without giving too much away, in case I ever decide I can rekindle the flame, it was a complicated love story. My problem was not what to write, but how to write. A very involved, passionate, seduction scene, on the beach, was written, re-written, and written again, with every re-write screaming back at me, 'what would my mother think!' No matter how subtle, or unexplicit, I attempted to make the scene, it was no good. My mother was metaphorically looking over my shoulder!
I wondered if Robert Burns got stuck when he was writing his poems. 'The best laid schemes of rats and humans....hmmm, now what rhymes with awry?' Did he sit with the alphabet in front of him; 'cry, dry, fry....my, nigh, pie...'. I doubt it! However, I digress. If I were to write a book on how to digress, I am sure I would have no problem, and writer's block would be a thing of the past! That being said, memories of what happened during the week had still not been recollected, and I began to wonder exactly how interesting was my week? We did have a nice meal at a restaurant on Thursday. We have been passing the same restaurant, almost every day, on our way home, and I have been curious as to whether their 'beef curry' would be anything like the Chinese restaurant take outs that I loved so much at home. It was a very small, very basic, interior, and screamed, 'healthy'. The menu indicated it was the epitome of healthy eating, the majority of the customers did, indeed, look vaguely healthy, and all chose the 'brown rice' instead of the starchy white. That together with the soy based soup was very convincing. The beef in the 'beef curry' was probably very healthy. All was very healthily deep fried. Try as I might, I cannot conjure up a situation when 'deep fried' is healthy. I was there to eat, and not preach, so I decided to keep my lips shut tight, in between taking bites of saturated battered beef. The healthy aspect was probably the absence of the beef. The outing was amusing, but not enough to fill a page. 'Haven't you written about restaurant's', was the helpful comment from Samantha.
Saturday would have to be spectacular to make up the difference. Samantha and I were on a mission for Dana, as none of the 'regular' guys were interested in the particular service. We ended up at a car showroom. Although it was obvious that the person for whom we were looking was not there, I decided that it would be a good idea to see what is 'out there', as since Samantha got married, we have been a one car family. As I put the car into reverse, to park, a man with a badge approached us. By the time I turned off the engine, he was standing in front of the car. I questioned whether I had perhaps parked in the wrong place, but he assured me he was just there to help. 'Just browsing', was not an option. 'Small cars' was a little more acceptable. I looked around for the cameras as I assumed I had just stepped into a Broadway show. He danced his way forward, shouting and pointing to other sales staff, who all took their place on the stage and twirled off to the wings, until one remained. 'Ma'am, come with me, and I will show you what you want to see'. Well, not quite Burns, but almost verbatim, the young man whisked us down the lines of shiney vehicles and stopped at the car which he assumed would best suit my needs. He was most surprised when I indicated that the Fred Astaire wannabee did not actually ask me what car I wanted to see, and failed to ask if I wanted to buy new or used. I learned that there are no 'used' cars. They are now, very nicely named, 'previously owned'. Apparently, 'used' sounds too harsh. Also, apparently, 'no', does not mean 'no', either. It means, 'perhaps, maybe, go get the keys for a test drive'. I didn't quite run, but walked as fast as my little legs would carry me, jumped in the car, and drove, leaving the production behind. 'You have written about salesmen', vibrated in my ears, as I suggested this would make a funny story. The trip to Walmart failed to inspire me, and dinner was at an old haunt, where they don't fry their food, but drive up the cholesterol count with queso and a very healthy cheesecake. Once again, the cold weather caused the early snoozing, and I failed to start my writing. I awoke later, again the television playing to itself, but alas, Messrs Hoffman and Redford failed to grace my evening, and despite the content of the late night show, I realised that All the President's men was probably made all the more appealing (for me) by their presence.
Sunday morning, started very early. Just before 7am, sirens could be heard in the crisp air. They did not seem to stop and the sound of large engines appeared to be humming beneath my bedroom window. By the time the third truck arrived, I was more than slightly curious. The cold whipped through my thin sundress as I opened the front door, and I retreated back upstairs to redress. Although there were three fire engines, and a fourth parked in the recess at the front of our neighbourhood, I was not sure they would be around long enough to wait for me to rummage through my wardrobe to find some jeans and a top. The pink pyjamas that had been discarded earlier as the house temperature was warmer than outside, (unusual in Austin.....we had condensation on the inside of the windows this weekend....poor us!) went over the calf length gown, and under the denim jacket. My hat was, fortunately, by the door. Dana, less motivated, but interested as to why there were so many emergency vehicles, walked down the stairs in a t-shirt and jeans. Someone had reported a smell of smoke, but there did not seem to be any sign of a fire. I walked back through the house and opened the back door, where I sniffed the cold air. I have refuted the opinions of others that I would have made a good hunter in the times of the Salem trials, I do pride myself on having a reasonable good sense of smell. There was nothing that resembled even a barbeque. There were a couple of uniformed men upon the roof of the house two doors down, reiterating my thoughts. My next door neighbour emerged from her condo, dressed not too dissimilar to me, with a scarf over her head, and slippers instead of flip flops. Having been woken from her sleep, she told me that she had looked forward to the extra hour all year, and was not happy that she had not been able to take advantage. She returned to her house a lot happier, being given a second chance, after I told her that the clocks had changed in England, but did not 'fall' back in this part of the world until next weekend. I did have a moment where I wondered what would happen if I had not told her; tomorrow would be fun!
I retreated back into the warm and made some coffee. My thought of an offer of a hot drink for Austin's finest came slightly too late, as they were driving away as I went back to the front door. Dana questioned as to how I thought I would be able to make two dozen cups of tea; I told him I was English, it was in my DNA!
With bread made, and pastry puffed, ready for a possible 'en-croute' recipe next week, my non-eventful week is nearing its end. Looking back, and re-reading what I am about to 'publish', it would appear that writer's block is something I may be able to conquer. I only hope I revive before I have to write...................another story.