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Sunday, November 18, 2012


Dinner at Joe's house is always something to look forward to, as before he was a coffee roaster, he was head chef at some very sophisticated restaurants. However, having left last time with the full blown attack of an arachnid, I was taking no chances, and sprayed myself from head to toe with insect repellent. My theory was that the six legged creatures would be so repelled that they would run straight into the trap of the eight legged life form, and satisfy the craving for more meat.

Two weeks ago, the evening was warm, the food amazing, and the company delightful. I bravely took my plate outside, and sat with a young couple that had recently moved back from France, having spent some time traveling through Europe, and England, and we discussed the difference not only in the food itself, but in the preparation of the raw ingredients. They agreed it is virtually impossible to make a decent apple crumble in Texas! My legs were covered to the calf, and although my feet were somewhat exposed, I was unaware of any nibbling by tiny carnivores.
Monday morning came upon us very quickly, and the hour that we gained the night before did little to make us feel any better about having to get up in the morning. It was a beautiful morning, with the sun shining as we left the house. Joe and Gail were at the coffee shop to greet us with bread and biscotti's. I do enjoy my early morning coffee! My day continued without incident and I came home quite happy that my skin was unscathed, and I was bite free.

We left the house early on Tuesday. Dana wanted to vote before going into the office, in case we had any delay in leaving. We arrived at the polling station at 6:50am, and I waited in the car. Once the doors were opened, I counted down the people and Dana was 24th in line, with many more people now queuing to enter the small church hall. He re-emerged about thirty five minutes later, and I knew my first cup of coffee would be at the office. It was an exceptionally quiet day, which we put down to the election, and we left early. Once home, I experienced a rather strange sensation in my foot. By ten o'clock, I was unable to stand, and a trip to the bathroom was on my hands and knees. Dana, who had not been particularly unsympathetic, but not particularly attentive, suddenly sat up, and wondered what I was doing. As I reached the door, I was unable to put any weight on my left foot, and struggled to stand upright. It must have been humorous to watch me attempt to move from one end of the room to the other, but the analysis of my liquid intake caused me slight distress, and the skills I possessed before my first birthday were once again brought into play.

Wednesday morning was quite the challenge. Although there did not appear to be any swelling, I could not put anything on my toes, as they felt as if they were broken, and my flip flops were the only footwear that was wearable. I wouldn't go so far as to say they were comfortable, as I could not lift my foot to walk, and certainly could not put it down, but I felt going barefoot to work was not an option! I suppose I could have taken my puppet on a string, and attempted to make my fortune on Sixth Street, but only those who were born before 1970 would understand! Fortunately, my chair has wheels, and I was mobile around the office, pushing myself from one waist height surface to another. By the end of the day, I could hobble slightly, and by the time I arrived home, I managed a limp.  My foot had been examined by Nurse Samantha, and Dr. Dana, and whilst Matron saw two little spots, somewhat too far apart to be that of a spider, but perhaps those of a snake, the MD pointed out that it would have to be the size of a python to have fangs that far apart, but perhaps it was the mark of a scorpion.  I thought it was highly unlikely that either were correct, but pointed out that I had no medical training! 

I wasn't ready for Thursday, in any way. We had the dog overnight as Samantha had to attend a meeting at the Immigration office in San Antonio. It was a warm morning, so my feet were not freezing in sandals. As we neared the office, Dana received a text from Samantha asking me to look at my phone. For some reason, the network had kicked it off, and I was not receiving messages or calls. Once the network was re-established, I set to calling her. Mumbling that she really needs to be on the road, and what could she possibly want at 7.20 in the morning, I waited for her to answer. Why is it, that whenever I get frustrated at the timing of my daughter’s calls, is it bad news! 'We have been in an accident. I am not going to make my meeting. I can't go to the hospital!' Calming her down was not my first thought. 'What do you mean you are not going to make the meeting', were my first words, unfortunately devoid of any sympathy, but I recovered on the rebound with a slightly less appathetic, 'Oh my goodness, are you okay?'  I was not sure whether she was level headed enough to realise that my concerns were not with her health!  However, I did manage to steer myself into mother mode and asked her to assess the damage, and whether she needed me to drive her to San Antonio. 'I don't know', was not the answer I was looking for, and panic struck through me for a second time, still not asking if she was hurt (Sorry Matnee!!) Finally, I took the proverbial bull by the horns, left Dana at the office, and headed north towards the scene.  The next phone call was to inform me that Police, Ambulance and Fire Engines, were on the scene, which meant there would be a lot of questions and paperwork, and time was marching on. Sympathy had taken the morning off, and was headed in the opposite direction. The only thing going my way was traffic, and plenty of it! Having cursed a driver for slowing me down by attempting to cut into a line of traffic, rather than take his place in the queue, I realised that I should have been in that line, and had to be cursed for cutting in front of him! My foot was throbbing, thank you for asking!

It was not a comforting sight seeing the traffic backed up along the freeway, even less an array of flashing blue and red lights that would make a Christmas Tree look like a mere birthday cake candle, and less again knowing that I would have to join the frustrated motorists trying to get to work. As I left the highway going north, and slipped under the bridge to face southwards, not only was I looking for somewhere to park, but also for a safe place for Edward to leave his car unattended until he could have it towed.  Fortunately, however, as I approached the spot of the accident, the lights stopped flashing and Samantha called me to say that Edward's car was drivable, at least for the foreseeable future, and they would meet me a little further along the road, in a shopping area that had a giant parking area.  It was more fortunate that I didn’t have to join the queue of traffic, and was able to carry on down the frontage road to the said area, and pick them up. It would appear that theirs was not the only accident, as the highway, freeway and motorway were all jammed and a snail would have been considered an Olympic contender!

The average traveling time from downtown Austin to San Antonio is about 80 minutes, providing you are the only car on the road! We were downtown, the appointment was at 9:30, (with explicit instructions to arrive 30 minutes early to report to the desk) and the clock just ticked past 8:20. Samantha was emailing Morgan, our Federal  representative's aide, and heroine of the last episode, to ask what to do should she miss this appointment. In the meantime, the traffic had subsided somewhat and I was letting Dana know that his car traveled very smoothly at 90mph. Being very aware of the presence of law keepers, I continued along, keeping up with the rest of the traffic! Finally, at 9.25, I dropped them at the front door of the office, and went in search of a cup of coffee. For almost seventy miles, there were fast food locations of every kind, all purporting to make a better breakfast than the next, and all offering the best coffee this side of the Mason-Dixon line! However, for about three to four miles surrounding the area through which I was driving, there was a lack of caffeine in any shape or form. Eventually, the golden arches loomed, and as the drive thru queue stretched long enough for a motor cycle stunt man to make a Guinness Book of Records attempt, I opted to enter. I ordered my beverage, but was not tempted to make a breakfast selection, much to the surprise of the cashier. I meandered back to the field office and found a parking space, and as I backed the car up, another car whisked in between the white lines. Absolutely amazed at his rudeness, (I live in Texas now, and that is rude!) I continued looking over my shoulder, and glared. The driver sat and did not move. It occurred to me that he was not going to get out of the car until I moved on. Being that I am a very scary person! I considered sitting it out, but then decided that perhaps he was in the same position as Samantha, and thought it unfair to make him late for his appointment, just because he stole my parking space. I was no longer in a hurry, and gave him the benefit of the doubt. He sprinted from his car to the front of the building (as I am such a scary person) and I saw him no more!

Samantha and Edward finally emerged, having been seen by their assigned officer, and answered their questions. Unfortunately, all the paperwork had not arrived back at the field office (despite this being a rescheduled appointment - the main form still being in California, and only requested that morning - Samantha took it in her stride and said with her history, she was not surprised!). We started on our way home, and I drove somewhat slower than on the way down. We stopped at Buckee's Superstore 'just because', and Edward bought me an apple and some candy. My first thought was, 'what did you do?', then realised he was not my child, so thanked him for his kindness. We arrived back at Edward's car shortly after midday, and then I went back to the office. Samantha and Edward went to the hospital just to fulfill the request of the EMS. Fortunately, nothing was broken, just bruised and sore, and they went home and waited for Dana and I to come to their apartment, and take them out to dinner.

Edward's car had some damage, but fortunately, no one was badly hurt, and all's well that end's well. By Friday, I was walking normally, and Samantha was limping. Our weekend was filled with grocery shopping, a trip to Costco, and Dana and I watching the dog while Samantha and Edward went to watch the Macy's Christmas tree lighting. I covered Sunday, Veteran's Day, in last week's post. Normality was good, two weeks ago. However, this weekend was eventful, as Formula 1 came to town, and Austin celebrated as only Austin knows how. Life in Austin, after Lewis Hamilton, the Brit, won the first USA hosted race since 2007 is ..... another story.

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