I am not sure if I have mentioned, but the orange plastic bags, that pose as Christmas lights, have once again adorned our condo community. My next door neighbours, who are the keepers of the lights for the year, until it is time to decorate our front porch area, duly placed them along our wall and down the stairs. Our complex now resembles the part of the motorway/interstate, that is undergoing roadworks! However, I believe that the amusing aspect of these peculiar excuses for decoration, is what drives the residents to bring them out every year. Suffice it to say, once the plastic comes out, we know the holiday season is well and truly upon us.
We had expected, now that our lights were officially lit, that things may not be as busy at work, and our vibrant city would start the annual slow down, that generally happens a week before Christmas. However, this was not to be. On Monday morning, the phones were ringing constantly, and the word emergency was being used in virtually every sentence. It has come to my attention that many people believe that Austin is not a place for couples or families, as the general consensus of opinion is that everyone will be going out of town for the holidays, to 'see momma'. We accepted all the gauntlets that were thrown down, and helped provide peace among men or at least lawyers!
Our staff was reduced by one on Wednesday. To say I pulled the short straw is not exactly true. I am always given the short straw! Taking on the job of Samantha's other half in the office is never as burdensome as taking on her duties, as although it is somewhat monotonous, it is not the administrative nightmare that she has to encounter each day. Suffice it to say, I was not looking forward to Thursday! Samantha and Edward arrived at the office to drop off the dog, just before 10am. By lunchtime, I was starting to lose the goodwill feeling that has been saturating the city, and by the time the fourth West Texas Sheriff had told me that he didn't understand what I was asking for, I was ready to give up. However, quitting is not something that I do lightly, and I pulled myself together and remembered that I am a momma (one who is still in town!) and in the words of Helen Reddy, 'I am a woman', and what is more, you ARE going to hear me roar! Not only did I clear all three desks, but I took the dog for a nice long walk, and then served a home-made meal when we arrived back at our brightly lit condo!
We left the plastic orange nativity on Friday, and I sailed through, but was ready weekend like never before! Once again, I was left to my own devices on Saturday, and after my final clean sweep of the year, left my house. Normally, my journey from the house to the car is quite painless. I walk out of my back door, through the sun room, and out of the back gate to the carport. However, the lock on the back door has become rather stiff and I cannot put the force behind it, to allow the lock to click. Dana and Samantha do not have a problem, but as a rule, I do not have to deal with it. Instead of attempting to prove that I am not totally inadequate, I have taken to leaving through the front door, (which I have no difficulty in locking) and walking along the front of the building, up the hill, around the corner, to the back, where I get into the car. It allows me to check the mail, and also achieve a modicum of exercise, and is not particularly inconvenient, unless it is pouring with rain, and hail. Saturday morning saw a tempest unlike we have seen for months! The hail stones were not very big, but combined with the wind, I felt like Captain Oates, leaving the tent on the Polar exploration. The mail, which I probably should have left in the box, was disintegrating, as wet paper does, and I contemplated the error of my ways, waiting for the worst to pass, before I started on my way. I was heading for the mall. It was a strange choice to make, going to the mall the weekend before Christmas, but I was feeling empowered, and was making the most of my freedom. Please do not misunderstand me, as I enjoy the company of my daughter on our weekend jaunts, but there is something rather appealing about being let lose and doing my own thing! It was shortly before noon when I entered the perimeter, and found a parking space with relative ease. I spotted the lone male, with the small bag from the jewellery store, walking along a line of cars, and followed, hoping that he would not walk between two vehicles to the next row over. He did not, and I procured a premium spot just as the rain started to slow.
As I entered the store, a young lady restored all goodwill, when she looked at me, dressed in denim jeans and jacket, brown boots and my hat, and told me that I looked amazing. 'Very well put together', she added. What can I say; I am woman, but I resisted the roar! I actually wandered aimlessly through the halls, not wanting anything in particular, and not having an agenda. I was given my complimentary cup of coffee in Macy's, and a small cup of chai tea from the lady promoting the spice shop. Most people appeared to be in a good mood. I made one purchase. However, I did lament in the shoe department, and momentarily longed for days gone by, as the footwear on sale (and it was a very good sale!) were styles which I no longer wear. Six inch heels are no longer comfortable, and despite my husband being over a foot taller than me, I have more respect for my middle aged back!
Before I left, I ventured into Holister. Why I am not sure! Normally, when forced into Abercrombie's sister store, I am led to the middle (as it is dark, and I do not normally carry a flashlight in my handbag) and sat in one of the arm chairs that are situated by the check out tills, presumably for aging parents who are not as 'hip' as they like to think they are. The only thing missing is a nice young man offering beverages! Even the orange bags would fail to add brightness! I must have had a senior moment, as I went in voluntarily. However, I came to my senses as I reached the back of the store, but then became disorientated, walked around a display twice, before being shown the way out by a charming sales assistant who took pity on me when I almost cried, 'I can't find my way out!' I am woman, hear me cry!
Walmart is my rock! No matter what sort of day I have had, and no matter how large the crowds, I can always rely on a lack of excitement when grocery shopping. Occasionally, someone will cause a scene, and occasionally there are special offers that make me think twice (it would be slightly over zealous to state, 'take my breath away), but it is always 'reliable'. It is my safe place. After the Holister experience, I needed a safe place. I procured all the items requested by the folks back home, and left feeling slightly less wobbly than when I arrived. The sun was shining and the afternoon was still young.
Despite the sad eyes with which the dog attempts to blackmail me, I did not give up my Saturday night date with my husband. As I am leaving for England on Monday, the craving for Tex-Mex hit me with a vengeance and we decided to go to my favourite Mexican Restaurant, which happens to be on the perimeter road at the mall. I am not sure if the stores had decided to 'give it all away', after 5pm, but we sat in a line of traffic, waiting to enter the main parking area, for twenty minutes. Eventually, we spotted two people returning to their cars, spun around and parked about two hundred yards from the restaurant. It was good to walk, but the car park was completely full, and we dreaded entering for fear of a long line, and wait for a table. It was empty. It would appear that everyone who wanted to go to the mall had also given up sitting in the traffic jam, and had parked in the restaurant car park! We walked back to the car after a sumptuous meal, and drove out the same way we had arrived, with the traffic going towards the restaurant area and mall proper, still at a standstill!
With one more day to go before I fly out, I shall embrace the wonder of the plastic bags tonight, and say cheerio to my adoptive city once more, to head home. I don't suppose I will do much roaring, but hope to catch up with a few friends before my return. I hope to have an update next week, but please bear with me if I take a sabbatical. To all who celebrate, I wish you season's greetings, and shall return with ....... another story.