The promises made the morning after the night before, did not, as predicted, last very long. 'I will never go shopping again', was good for about a week. December had been planned quite meticulously, so that I could get everything organised before I left for Blighty just before the Yuletide holidays. Plans very rarely appear to come together when I make them, and this time was no exception. Samantha and Edward had arranged to spend the first Saturday of the month at a theme park, but I had kindly passed on a rather nasty cold to her, and as the temperature had dropped below freezing, she thought it was probably best not to spend the whole day in the outdoors.
Last Friday a cold front blew in, and temperatures went from 27 Celsius on Wednesday, to 27 Fahrenheit on Saturday. We drove to the outlet mall on the South Side, and found a parking space with relative ease. However, planning not to spend most of the day outside in sub-zero temperatures became redundant, as we chose not to move the car once we had exited the first store, as within half an hour the traffic had increased significantly, and we watched as the four wheel drives roamed along the lanes, carefully hunting their pray of an empty space, while the swifter soft tops screeched around corners with more ease, but less subtlety. Nobody, it appeared, wanted anyone to 'have a nice day!' We were on a mission, and chose to ignore the uncharacteristic behaviour of the natives. We were on our annual quest for requests. Rather than modeling items for photo's to be sent around the globe, we used Samantha's phone to 'face time' with my sister, Elise, and she received a 'real time' show. 'What time can I expect the next call', she would ask as we moved from store to store, finally signing out at English bedtime! The shopping trip was not as harrowing as the previous week, but there were far more harrowing clouds on the horizon. Samantha was going to Las Vegas for the week, as her father had booked a short vacation and asked for her to join him. Despite Dana saying that it would be no problem, and of course we would have the dog for the week, not only do my daughter's office duties fall at my feet, but the welfare of the animal is primarily my responsibility. If he wants to cuddle, he will go to Dana. If he wants to play, he will go to Dana. If he wants to sleep, he will go to Dana. If he wants to poop, he comes to me! It puts a whole new slant on the phrase immortalised by Mary Poppins, 'Practically perfect!' When it comes to being practical, the dog sees me as perfect!
Sunday was only slightly warmer than Saturday, and Monday again saw an adjustment towards 'normal', but warm outer garments were needed. Deciding to support small local businesses, (as promoted by the Small Business Saturday organisation) was a very big mistake. As I have previously posted, I took my shoes to be repaired at a local to the office establishment. I suppose the less than delightful salesperson should have been the first warning that this promised to be less than a good experience. On Monday afternoon, my daily constitutional took me to the cobblers to pick up the extortionately priced repairs. Unfortunately, in order to get my shoes returned, I did have to pay the piper. They had been reheeled, and shined, despite my not asking for the latter on two pairs. The smile disappeared and the look on his face turned into a slightly ambiguous one, on that of the cobbler, after my response to 'see you next time' was a rather stern, 'I doubt it', but announcing that I would be sure to advertise his establishment using props, e.g., the receipt for the repair of three pairs of shoes. I further suggested that not only could I have re bought the footwear, but I could have used the remainder of the money to show them off by going to dinner and a show! Perhaps the latter was a slight exaggeration, but he attempted to shrug it off with an 'oh well, easy come, easy go!' attitude. I can state (not promise; promises can be broken!) that I will not be returning to the Shoe Hospital in downtown Austin anytime soon! I certainly wasn't having 'a nice day'!
Having overcome the disappointment of a much lighter wallet than expected, I decided that the 'Small Business Saturday' did not apply to all, but that once bitten, twice shy would be my motto from now on. Unfortunately, however, once again, my self made promises are not often kept, and my mental notes are not as effective as those written down on post its and placed in prominent places. Although my marbled rye bread was awarded the 'best loaf ever made' by those who partook, one slice was all I ate, as I have put myself on pre-Christmas health drive, and breakfast for the final month of the year consists of some raisin bran cereal mixed with a pot of yoghurt. Apparently one cup of the grain gives a sufficient amount of nutrients and calcium to see you through. It does not specify where it is meant to see you through to, but from experience, it has been through to about 10 am, so I have given up with the measuring and fill a bowl to mix with my other post fifties health accessory. As mentioned (digressing appears to be the only constant part of my make-up!) my memory failed me, and I forgot to raid my fridge at home in order to restock the one in the office. Not only did I not have a yoghurt, but the cupboard (or fridge) was bare when it came to any kind of spread for toast. I would have to run along to the local convenience store on 6th Street. The clue of what I encountered lies in the word convenience as I have found that it always appears to cost a little more. It was very convenient to have the store three blocks away. It was very convenient that I could combine my exercise with a task so as not to waste time. It was very convenient that the thunder storms came much later in the day when I would normally take my walk. It was also very convenient that I took my purse with me rather than a couple of bucks in my pocket, as what I paid for a packet of butter and a pot of yoghurt was enough to keep a small family in shoes (providing they did not need me to repair them as well!) I made another mental note (perhaps as useless as the first) that the suggestion to 'support your local businesses' should only apply to my homestead!
Dana's toast was apparently delicious and although I did not feel a surge of healthiness run through these middle aged bones, I did enjoy my breakfast.
The promise of the weekend was what kept me going for most of the week. Samantha was due back from Vegas on Friday night, and I would no longer be in charge of watering the dog. Although I did not relish the thought of going to the airport at midnight, I was looking forward to having a 'Tracie' day on Saturday, doing my own thing, with my own car (now that is something I have not had since my arrival on American soil) and my sleep would not be deprived due to a neurotic quadruped who suffers from OCD (or in his case, mainly O!) Fortunately, Samantha's flights were on time, (her father's return journey had been delayed for 24 hours) and she arrived at the front entrance of the terminal as we were driving in. After depositing their bags in the boot of the car, and greeting their over-excited four legged child, we took them back to their flat, and we made our way home.
As promised, I left my house, alone, after the usual Saturday mundane household futility's, and made my way to Target. I had just told the lady at the Kurig coffee machine promotional stand, that I did not have the machine, but would love to be rewarded with a cup of the hot beverage should she wish to give me a demonstration, when my phone rang. Picture, if you will, my predicament. I have a fresh, very hot, cup of coffee in one hand. In the other is a shopping basket. The pockets in my jacket and jeans are too small to accommodate anything of significance, and my tiny shoulder bag is filled to capacity. I am also wearing a pair of gloves. My phone rings four times before it goes to voicemail, and my daughter's patience is about as long as a metal staple (not the stapler!) I have about five seconds to answer before it starts to ring again....and again....and again! The floor is an amazing piece of equipment that we do not appreciate enough! Kneeling, I placed the cup down, as near as the shelves as possible, removed my gloves, emptied my bag as the phone had manage to manoeuvre its way to the very bottom, put my purse between my teeth for safety, and managed to answer on the second round! 'Dad has just arrived home', she announced to me. Sitting in the middle of Target, with my belongings strewn across the tarmac, my voice was slightly elevated as I answered, 'you called to tell me that?' Her giggles were received in the manner they were intended, and she said that it was only partially why she had called. Would I mind....... The promise of a 'Tracie' day was slowly diminishing as I made a mental note of all the items she wished me to purchase. 'No, I do not need to write them down', was the last comment I made before telling her to enjoy her day! Asking the shop assistant to direct me to the 'Minion's' promised to be a story for her to re-tell! She could see I had no idea of what I was asking for and tried very hard not to laugh as she directed me to the aisle that housed these very strange looking toys. After making my choice, and picking up the rest of my daughter's requests, my cup of luke warm coffee and I left the store, without achieving my promised objective!
The outlet mall was very busy, but I meandered stealthily through the lanes, and found a prime parking space quite quickly, beating all the four wheel drives and sporty soft tops. I promised myself I would not be too long and was just as stealthy in my hunting and gathering, which was only hindered by a couple of, 'Can you look for.....' calls. I left with three bags, and was quite satisfied. My bargain of the day was a pair of trousers that had been reduced from $80 to $4.77. All was well in my world. I did not, however, contribute to the 'Christmas promise' in any of the stores, and did not feel an ounce of guilt! 'Would you like to make a donation', was met with a 'No, thank you'. Not to be deterred, the assistant continued, 'That is $5.16. Would you like to round it up to $6, with a donation?' I am not sure if I was the only person to respond, 'No, would you like to round it down to $5', but the look on her face was rather amusing, although I am sure she was far from amused! (Then again, I don't suppose she paid over the odds for convenience this week either! Bah humbug!)
Walmart, as usual, was heaving, but they did have the chicken coating that I had promised to take home for my mother. I did not receive another phone call until I was about five minutes from the condo, and this time it was from Dana, wondering if I was ever going to come home! 'Give a girl a car, and she will travel', I told him! The night, however, was still young; in fact it was still afternoon, and despite being guardians of the dog for yet another day, while the annual theme park visit was made by his adoptive parents, we supported our local small businesses, by eating at a local restaurant, although it is part of a rather large chain! Said doggie parents did arrive back earlier than expected, and I dozed in front of the television, looking forward to the promise of a nice, long night's sleep. Broken promises led to a broken sleep as at 2:30am, we received a call from the alarm system operators, to say that the siren at the office had been activated. Dana noticed that this was the second call they had made. I accompanied him, downtown, and met a very jolly policeman at our front door. One advantage of working a stone's throw from the local constabulary is that, on the rare occasion that the alarm is triggered, the police are on the scene within seconds. Apparently, the officer had received a call from the alarm people, and when he arrived all appeared to be well. The nice jolly policeman had reported that there was no sign of an intrusion, but just to make sure, he tested the front door, which was unlocked. (Dana was convinced he had locked it, but there was the possibility that he had been distracted by the dog!) This triggered the alarm again, hence the second call. We arrived home shortly before 3:30am, and after unwinding with some late night television, finally drifted off around 4am, promising to shock everyone by telling them, 'We were downtown, on 6th Street, Saturday night!'
Sunday was quiet. No dog. No surprises. No promises! Just Sunday. Samantha is going to be taking back the reins in her office on Monday, but leaves for England later in the week, leaving me to pick up the pieces, again, which I can promise will be ....... another story!