It had been an uneventful week. Samantha and I could not decide what to do on our 'day off', Monday, as I did not want to go to the gun range, as my throat was still a little sore, and my head was still a little fuzzy (more than usual!) We went to the craft store, and I spent far more than I should on yet more wool. We were on our way to their sister store, when we discussed what we should have done. We still had time to drive to San Antonio, for a quick, very quick, stroll along the River Walk, but decided it was too much driving for such a short period of time. We discussed the fact that if we had left at 6am, we could have gone to the coast for a couple of hours, or even driven into Louisiana, although, again, we would have had to do a U-turn, and come straight back out again, to be home in time for dinner! We finally ended up at IKEA, and it was there that we had the inspiration for the rest of the day. I have often admired pictures in restaurants of single pieces of fruit, or vegetables, and we came back to our local grocery store, and picked up all that we needed to achieve our goal. We returned home, and between us, set out the goods. Samantha took charge of my camera, and the results were rather good. I left her in charge of the editing, while I chopped up the colourful vegetation models for the following night's dinner.
We returned to work on Tuesday, and all was very quiet until Friday. The chicken stew, with a variety of shrubery, was indeed, delicious. With my enthusiasm for bread-making hitting an all time high, as my 'starter', has been regularly 'fed', and I have continued to pour off a cup of liquid and return it to the fridge, ready for the following loaf, I decided to make my version of a 'malt loaf'. Unlike any other loaf, this requires two ingredients that have to be bought from specific stores. I usually purchase the British made black treacle from a store called, 'Fiesta', and my Barley Malt from 'Whole Foods'. My other options would be the liquor store for the syrup, and a home brew shop for the malt. My plan was to wait for a quiet period and take a leave of absence to acquire my provisions. It was noon on Friday before I finally went in search.
My first stop was Fiesta. I drove into the large parking area and espied someone walking to their car. I carefully positioned myself so that she could pull out of the space, and I could reverse in. As I started to back up, a black car raced up on the other side of the aisle, and went to drive into my space. I refused to stop reversing, but he had the advantage as he was going forwards. He hooted for me to halt, and I hooted for him to stop. The language that emitted from my mouth was far from ladylike, as he swung his smaller vehicle into the vacated spot. I was, to put it mildly, furious. I made some disparraging remarks on how he, and his wife, could use the exercise. However, I had a mission to accomplish and no time for sentiment. The International aisle failed to deliver, and the 'out of stock' label added to my frustration, but once again I rose above the situation and went in search of dried fruit. 'Can I help you', asked a very cheerful assistant. Dried fruit seemed to be something of an enigma. 'Is it British?', she asked, quite seriously; 'Have you checked the International section?'. Not wanting to appear rude, I told her that it probably wouldn't specifically be in that aisle, but I would have thought it would be around the bakery aisle, or perhaps with the fresh produce, but I hadn't looked. She thought that might be a good place to start, and asked if there was anything else she could help me with. Reluctantly, but hoping to kill two birds with one stone, 'Do you have Barley Malt?' I ventured to ask. 'Is it British?', she asked, quite seriously; 'Have you checked the International section?' Was I in a comedy routine? Not wanting to appear rude, again, I told her that it was probably with the syrup, or perhaps if they had a home brew section, it would be there. I added, for good measure, that it was used for bread, and beer. Not content with having failed, she walked me to the 'British' aisle and asked me to wait while she went and sought advice. Upon her return, she told me that she had asked her manager, and he said it would probably be in the German section, as they brew excellent beer. Of course, it was not in the German section, as despite their ability to produce an excellent product, the raw ingredients do not a decent brewer necessarily make! Once again, I thanked her for her time, found the dried fruit in the aisle with the canned goods, proceeded to the check out and left the building, dishonestly telling the well-meaning cashier 'Yes', when she asked if I had found everything that I was looking for.
I advanced along the Interstate and turned off, passing the office, on my way to the other end of 6th Street, where Whole Foods is situated. Going from Fiesta to Whole Foods is something like shopping for groceries in Asda (Walmart) and finishing up in Harrods' Food Hall. Whilst I have no objection to Asda, (after all I am found each week in the equivalent of the local store,) the variety of products are quite vast and the prices are worlds apart. I opted for the underground parking, and found a space quite near to the moving walkway up to the main floor. The moving walkway going up, however, was not moving. I agreed, that despite my disparaging remarks to the 'space thief', I, too, could use a brisk, uphill, walk.
The Downtown Whole Foods store is entirely different to the one I usual frequent. It is like a small city. The Vatican of Austin. (No pun intended!) There are sandwich bars, barbecue bars (lean meat only, of course - healthy eating is promoted at all times!), several different soup, salad and tapas bars, as well as fresh produce counters. Providing I had a credit card, or a very high paying job, I could live there. It has been referred to, affectionately (but aptly) as 'Whole Check'! I resisted sampling the Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Quinoa bar, but did taste the red pepper hummus, on a bean tortilla. It was very tasty but beyond my budget, and would probably lead to some very anti-social after effects, due to the ingredients! I found the Barley Malt. It was stuck between some Amber Honey, and something that was very sticky, but pure and organic. I don't think I have seen as many varieties of 'nut' butters, let alone the masses of commpnal garden peanut range. Before I knew it, I was lost. Each turn I made took me deeper, and deeper in the abyss, and I feared I was going to have to ask the very embarrassing question, 'How do I get out?' I had paid for my jar, and was wandering around, like a lost puppy, clutching my brown paper bag. Sneezing my way through the 'freshly made' soap area, (Walmart definitely does not have one of those!) and into the floral outbursts, I decided my best course of action would be to find the Organic Spread aisle, and work backwards. Easier said than done, and I found myself in the Fresh Produce section. It was a bit like Hansel and Gretel, but a healthier version. The vegetables sparkled like the candy on the witches house, and pretty soon I found myself sampling all the wares they had to offer. Instead of chocolate, the orange peppers were soaked in an exotic olive oil, and the olive that had not been liquidised, were like ambrosia. The Brothers Grimm would have had a field day if ever they had encountered a store such as this. I was trapped. The only way out was to eat my way through, and destroy the encasement. I could see the windows and doors, but I knew none would lead me to my car. My tiny cries of, 'help', were overshadowed with the robust calls of, 'FRESH'. I quickly regained my wits, and shouted 'Butter', I screamed, 'Peanut Butter'; it was all I could think of to release me from this nightmare. A well meaning assistant led me back to safety, and from the midst of the sticky jarred solutions, I saw the sign, 'Way out'.
I could have sold my space to the highest bidder, as it was in a premium spot, and probably fed myself for a meal on the proceeds, but that would have been mercenary, even if not illegal. My drive back to the office was, of course, very uneventful, and the rest of the afternoon quite boring in comparison; apart from waiting at the drive-thru bank for 25 minutes, as they went in search of $10 bills. The mail arrived at around 5:30pm, due to the excess of 'express' packages being delivered at the other end of town, and we did not leave until well after 6pm.
The weekend was fun. We went to see the Lion King, which was just as much an amazing production as it was on Broadway. Unfortunately, however, the stage was smaller, and we saw the version that was 'adapted for your screen size'. I wont say that the pain of paying so much for the Broadway tickets was removed, but it was diminished slightly! Samantha surprised me again, with her talent for making earrings out of duck tape (seeing is believing!) and we headed to Joe for another evening of fine repast.
Next week Dana has a few more meetings out of the office, and I shall, once again, be in charge. My ability to 'rule' has its moments, but it is not as much fun as it sounds. I am sure there will be moments that will lead to ........ another story.