The streets were very clean on Monday morning, in the aftermath of the great festival! However, all festivities were not over as it was St. Patrick's Day. Most Austinites were dressed in green, and the bars were offering something to celebrate the Patron saint of Ireland. Emerald beer, as always, was a favourite. I did not wear anything green. I wore purple, pink and grey!
My cell phone rang shortly after I arrived at the office. The voice on the other end had a very heavy accent, and I had difficulty understanding what he was saying, but after several attempts, he managed to make me understand that he was not selling anything. He was, however, calling to let me know that I had won! I had a choice between a new car, several thousand dollars, or a digital camera. I told him that I would like the camera. Slightly confused, as I don't think he was expecting the answer he received, he asked me if I was sure, then repeated the prizes again. 'I want the camera please. I would love a new camera'. Not convinced that my inability to understand him had been conquered, he tried again, suggesting that with several thousand dollars I could buy far more advanced cameras. 'I want a camera', I said, actually stamping my foot in a fake tantrum. After a slight pause, he relented and then told me that in order to collect my 'prize', I would need to make an appointment to go about three miles down the road, to an office block where I would be given the camera, after watching a short video on..... . At this point, I did laugh. I told the foreign sounding gentleman that I had already received an email that morning, letting me know that I had won a million dollars. This would be the second prize that I had won without so much as entering a competition. 'You are a couple of weeks early', I told him. 'It is St, Patrick's day, not April fools day!' I was polite but told him that I would fore go the opportunity this time!
I was stopped several times during my constitutional and asked why I was not wearing green. I didn't respond with the curt 'mind your own business', but instead chose the more obvious answer, 'I am not Irish!' Many were quite baffled by my reply, and one person actually told me that St. Patrick's day was not, in fact, an Irish Holiday. I challenged the prospect, but was further told, with confidence, that it was true. He had been told, by someone who knew about these things that the holiday had been invented by immigrants to the North East, who wanted a day to 'party'! The sharp intake of breath, followed by the elongated sigh, kept his attention, and I relayed the stories of St. Patrick and St. George, adding that there were two more Patron saints of Great Britain, Andrew and David, although I really was not familiar with their claim to fame. It is probably true that the parades and celebrations and greenery have nothing to do with the canonised individual, but he lived, died and was subsequently given his merit before the New World was discovered, let alone gained independence. I left the doubting Thomas to look into my claims, (considering it may be an early April Fool's joke) and continued on with my day!
Despite my killjoy attitude, I did notice that there were more Irish bars along Sixth Street, than I had realised. One such bar had a menu that offered traditional food, which included one of Samantha's favourites, to wit, 'Bangers and Mash'! Samantha was both delighted and devastated. In all the years she had been unable to return to the motherland and enjoy the delicious repast, it had been available four blocks from the office. Oh the irony! We had stumbled upon this pub two weeks before moving the office! On Tuesday, I ordered three portions of the delicacy, (the extra being for Dana, and Jason; the latter not being aware of the impending scrumptiousness) and walked the four blocks to the bar. Samantha jumped into her car and made a trip to the supermarket that sells the traditional 'baked beans', that she insists need to be an accompaniment. Entering the bar, I felt slightly conspicuous. A long haired guitarist was singing and stood just inside the doorway. I walked past the bar, and towards the back of the room, before finding a member of staff. Unlike Cheers, the patrons did not seem to be related to each other in friendship or any other kind of unity. Some looked up from their beer, but quickly returned to staring at the (obviously) more interesting glass of liquid. I did manage to catch the attention of a barmaid, who had assumed that I had just popped in for a quick change of scenery. She disappeared into the kitchen and returned to let me know that my order would be out shortly. I sat on a tall stool, at a tall table, to make myself look taller and less obvious. The walk back to the office was not easy, as I had not considered changing my footwear. The high heeled suede sandals may make the pant suit look more elegant, but are not ideal for hiking! However, the lunchtime treat was eaten, and enjoyed, by all three recipients, and the trip was worthwhile. Samantha educated Jason in the proper way to eat the dish, and insisted that the broccoli (the somewhat strange choice of vegetable accompanying the dogs and potatoes) be removed from the plate (box) and eaten separately.
With St. Patrick's day falling on a Monday, Austin was unusually quiet for the rest of the week. Work was steady and I spent quite a lot of time clearing my desk, or as others said, 'depersonalising' my area. Attempting to 'declutter' the office was far easier than 'decluttering' my brain! Although I am boxing up my belongings at the office, I am deboxing everything at home. However, cleaning the abyss that was Samantha's room, has become more of a challenge than I had imagined. The idea was to turn it into my 'craft' room, but there is still so much 'Matnee' in the room! She did take her bed when she left home, but not much else! I am not sure whether it was a brilliant idea to buy another bed for the room, but it seemed to be at the time of original thought! My weekend plans were made on Wednesday, and my list was tucked safely into my bag for future reference.
The week seemed to go on forever, but I woke on Saturday morning with slight interpretation. I had a lot to accomplish in a very little time. We left my house earlier than usual, and were at Ikea by 11:30am. I looked at a couple of options, and decided to see which one was more comfortable. Laying down on the first futon caused several raised eyebrows. The crowd started to form when Samantha opened the second sofa bed, and moved it across the room to determine the difference in length and width. We swapped beds, and she lay down on the single, while I took up residence on the larger piece of furniture. The single won, but there was no applause. The audience dispersed when they realised we were purely attempting to decide on which to buy, rather than put on a show! Little did they know that this was to come later, after the purchase! I paid at the cash desk and we wheeled the long, narrow object to the 'pick up' area. Samantha left me with the trolley and went to bring her car to where I was standing. Just before she backed into the space, a large truck pulled in, leaving me to haul the object to another opening. Fortunately, it was not too far, just slightly inconvenient! In theory, all the seats in the new vehicle should fold flat, but we were having difficulty getting the passenger seat to comply! As we tried to manoeuvre the box to a sideways position to slide it into the back of the car, a well meaning helper wearing a shirt bearing the store's name, came to help us with our predicament! 'Pull the chair forward', he instructed, and we complied. He pushed the box several times, attempted to shut the boot, and when it would not close properly, pushed it again. 'Pull the chair forward', he instructed again. Trying not to sound ungracious, and stifling a giggle, I told him that there would be no room for the driver, but he insisted we follow his orders. Samantha pulled the seat forward again, and after a couple more pushes, the box fitted into the car and the boot closed. 'It fits!', he exclaimed, proudly. Although very grateful for his help, and agreeing that it did, indeed, 'fit', I asked if he could suggest a way of getting it home, as there was now no room for a driver, let alone two people. Our helper disappeared as quickly as he had appeared, oblivious to our predicament. Perhaps this was another early 'April Fools'! We started to laugh, and could not stop. Samantha was bent over, tears streaming down her face, unable to catch her breath. I was howling loudly! The man who had pulled into the space next to us was having a hard time keeping a straight face as we were unable to regain composure! Eventually, we managed to pull the box up and over the headrests, allowing the seats to be pushed back slightly, and the driver and passenger were able to squeeze in. Arriving at Costco, we saw a car with its boot open, and a plant sticking out. I shouted across, 'there is a man at Ikea who could fit that in for you', but they did not respond. The rest of our 'shopping' was put in the car, 'filling in the blanks'.
Getting the bed out at the other end was much easier than putting it in. However, we chose not to wake Dana, who was enjoying an afternoon nap, with the hound, and we hoisted the package up the stairs to the second bedroom. With all the boxes piled up in the room, ready to be transferred to their new home, (in theory, Samantha's home; in reality, my shed!) once the bed was put against the wall, there was no room for an occupant! We started to laugh again.
Next week will be interesting! We take up residence in our new office on the last day of the month, but will be making the move over next weekend. I am trying not to spend too much time wondering how I am going to distribute my time between getting my house in order before my guests arrive, and getting the office set up to make sure business runs smoothly! I shall attempt not to let it interfere with my writing ............ another story!