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Sunday, November 23, 2014


The week came and went.  It was one of those weeks where the day dragged by on Monday, and the next day was Friday!  What happened in between was a blur.  The flowers that I had ordered for my mother's birthday on Wednesday did not arrive until Friday, although the card dropped on the doorstep a few days early. 

My grandson started swimming lessons.  At two days before his three month birthday, he joined his peers and took to the wide open pool.  Apparently he was not particularly impressed, and any aspirations for emulating Michael Phelps have been put on hold!  He also attended music classes along with other 90 day olds, which was more appealing, but the release of the rattle during 'shaking' time makes me wonder if he will be suspended, or if he is purely wanting to reenact the stage performance of some sixties rock and roll stars. 

With the week having fled, the weekend started at a pace that was much quicker than anticipated.  Samantha and Edward arrived at my house a little after 5am, and Dana took them to the airport.  As I had fallen asleep very early on Friday night, I was wide awake as they departed, and chose to take advantage of the early start.  After taking care of the new Saturday morning schedule, I left the house just as the rain started to fall. 

For some reason, when I am left to my own devices on a Saturday, I am overcome with a sense of mischief.  It is as if I have been 'let free', and I can do as I please.  Although I am not under obligation to do anything in particular at the weekend, for some reason I feel as if I am playing truant!  I have no one to 'check' my sarcasm, and despite always having had a reasonably good internal navigational system, seem to have very little sense of direction.

Leaving the house at a little after 9, I headed north and stopped off at the Dollar Tree.  I wandered around the rather large store, and partook in conversation with the other early risers.  With only one check out being manned, the young lady was operating the till was as chatty as her customers.  An older man was purchasing several boxes of cakes, and announced that he buys them for the elderly ladies at his church.  Someone remarked that they thought he may have been purchasing the items for his grandchildren, but he said he gets more attention from the ladies at his church!  The chatter and laughter was soon at a deafening pitch, but all were enjoying the past time.  He waved goodbye to the line of people, and we all chorused, 'Have a nice day'.  I loaded my bags of frozen blueberries on to the conveyor belt, and told the checkout lady that I was not going to make pies.  The fruit was, apparently, rather good for 'ladies' of my age, and staved off various awkward symptoms from which 'ladies' of my age suffer.  She thanked me for teaching her something new, and the waiting line of 'ladies' of my age pondered my response.  I was asked by one, "Are you Australian?" When I replied that I was indeed not, and that I hailed from England, the next question took me somewhat by surprise.  "Do you have dollar stores in England?" It was early, and I gave my fellow shopper the benefit of the doubt, without being flippant.  I replied that we do have a similar establishment, but it is called 'The Pound Shop'.  I resisted the answer, "sixteen ounces", when asked, "What is a pound?"  It was early, and I gave my fellow shopper the benefit of the doubt, trying very hard not to sound flippant.  After responding that the pound was the unit of currency used in England, the lady put her finger to her lips and mused, as did each one behind her, before asking her next question.  "Is a pound the same as a dollar?"  I assumed, correctly, that she was referring to the exchange rate, and answered accordingly.  We discussed, at length, the similarities of the two stores, one either side of the pond, and she concluded that the extra paid in 'Blighty' was dues to be paid to the Queen.  I nodded and all raucously chuckled, as I paid for my items.  Upon receiving my change, I was given a piece of paper showing that Sunday was 'Customer appreciation day', and for every $10 spent, a ten percent discount would be applied.  I looked at the voucher, and then added, "Don't get that in the pound shop".  I left behind tumultuous laughter, and shouts of, "Have a nice day!"

In the same 'strip' was another one of my favourite haunts.  The stores that advertise 'High Street brands for less', are usually only visited when I am alone.  My main reason for frequenting such stores is because of their variety of 'oddments'.  I can spend an inordinate amount of time looking through shelves of ornaments, crockery, and other such items, hoping to find that 'unique' item that happens to be the best thing I have never been looking for!  My quest this particular morning was fruitless, but fun.  

I returned to my little car, and together we sailed across the Interstate, to Walmart, for the essentials, and to recharge my trusty mechanical steed with liquid sustenance.  I managed to enter the building just as it started to rain, Texas style, and stood with the locals, watching the raindrops dancing along the ground, as if it was some sort of fascinating phenomenon.  As the waterfall mellowed into a constant shower, I took my cart and started to collect my produce.  My list was not particularly long, and I was finished rather quickly.  The scanner was not my friend.  It mocked me from beginning to end.  'Unidentified' items were stacked high in the 'bagging area', and were all to be removed before I could continue.  After I scanned everything, I was asked how many bags I wished to purchase, despite having told it, quite categorically, and in its own words, that I had brought my own bags!  It continued to mock, as it failed to give me my change, and although the supervisor assured me that the noise I could hear was the notes getting stuck in the dispenser, I was sure it was a mechanical throaty giggle! 

The petrol pump mocked me too!  In order to receive my discount, I placed my 'gift card' in the dispenser, and removed it quickly, as directed.  Obviously, not quickly enough as it instructed me to 'try again'.  I did, and again, and again.  Eventually, my card was accepted, and I was ready to 'pump gas', or so I thought.  My options were three fold. Did I want to 'pump gas', and add some magnificent liqueur to my engine that would keep it from corroding and malfunctioning?  Did I want to 'pump gas', and enhance my fuel consumption by allowing the valve to inject some highly advanced serum into my tank.  Did I want to 'pump gas' and rub the lamp to see if the genie would appear and offer to make me a millionaire?  Perhaps the last one was not exactly what appeared on the screen but by the time I had deciphered (or not) the first two choices, the third may just as well have been something as obscure!  I did not want any of the additional options.  I just wanted to 'pump gas'!  I am not certain as to whether my continuing to push the yellow button that determined the 'grade' of fuel I required was what finally kicked the pump into action, or whether the assistant in the booth had finished his video taping for, 'America's Dumbest Gas Pumpers', but something clicked and the 'gas' pumped freely.   I did want a receipt.  The machine did not want to give me a receipt.   I pulled on the white piece of paper that was just protruding from the slot, and I pulled, and I pulled.  Before driving away, I screwed up the yards of receipt paper that had eventually flown from the small exit, and placed them in the trash can.  A dozen trees died for that function! 

The rain had started to pour again, and by the time I reached 'Sprouts', the lightening was flashing across the skies and the thunder was a thundering!  I selected my vegetables for the forthcoming Thanksgiving lunch, and lined up at the checkout, which was manned by a very delightful human being.  I departed into the floods and drifted into the Costco car park.  Rain is not the Austinites friend, and the queues of traffic was more prolific than normal.  The mini is such a versatile little car, and I took full advantage of its size and manoeuvrability to 'swing' it round and gain access to a row of parking that seemed to allude many others.  A young couple were loading their wares into their vehicle and I waited patiently for their departure.  Once they had completed their task, and the gentleman did the gentlemanly thing by returning the
cart to the stand, as the lady took up residence in the passenger seat, I put my car into gear, ready to move.  A large truck came around the corner and stopped, directly in my path, facing in the opposite direction.  It moved slowly to level with me.  I attempted to make my presence felt, but I was but a blot on the landscape compared to the Tundra!  I moved forward, slightly, and the truck backed up, slightly.  The driver looked down at me and I stared, gruesomely, back.  I moved forward, again, and the truck backed up, again.  Something appeared to be amusing the driver of the truck, although I failed to see the humour.   It was when the truck took another space, one which I did not see was due to be vacated, did I realise that the reason for the constant 'backing up' was to gain manoeuvrability. Now I could see the 'funny side'! 

Costco was full to bursting.  I enjoyed the samples as I shopped and left with the two items I had come into purchase.  No more, and no less.  The choice now was to go home, or take full advantage of my freedom and continue to browse!  Browsing won!  I cruised through the puddles to what was my final port of call, and took full advantage, once again, of the size and manoeuvrability of my car, although this time without the hindrance of the Tundra!  The umbrella was such a welcome accessory as I walked along the sodden sidewalk to the craft store.  The shop held nothing that I could not live without and I ventured out into the storm and headed in a northerly direction.  I assumed it was northerly, as the weather seemed to get worse!  As I arrived at the next 'High Street brands for less' establishment, the raindrops appeared to be in a race to hit the ground. The lightening flashed like a laser show, and the thunder thundered louder than the chatter and laughter in the Dollar Tree!  The store was very busy.  Many stood at the entrance waiting for the storm to subside, and an equal number wandered around the aisles. I did not find anything that I never knew I could not live without and exited into the tempest, umbrella protected!  I stopped at several stores along the way, mainly to get out of the rain.  I did not buy any baby clothes, nor shoes, despite being tempted by a very cute pair of boots that were at a price that should not be disregarded for the future.  I returned to my car and decided that I had been playing truant for long enough, and it was time to return home. 

I spent the afternoon watching the rain fall, and watching the dog, almost crossing his legs, as he refused to leave the house until it was dry! 

The rain did stop, eventually, and then started again.  However, it halted long enough for us to water the dog and to go and grab some dinner.  Samantha and Edward had landed safely and were enjoying dinner with his parents.  Their weather was perfect, apparently.  My daughter asked if I had a nice day, and then asked if I had 'been good'.  She is aware that I am often prone to getting myself into trouble when left to my own devices.  I assured her that although I had been the butt of a couple of jokes, I had been very well behaved and not been too sarcastic to the natives! 

All flood warnings stopped around midnight, and the patter of water subsided.  Although he had been watered, before we retired for the night, at 3am, the dog took full advantage of the arid surroundings, and whimpered until Dana took him outside again. 

Next week will be a short working week as Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, and Friday is a holiday too!  I will probably not take advantage of the sales until the weekend.  My daughter and son-in-law have already promised to 'take me out' on Saturday.  I have yet to decide whether I shall take them up on the offer, or whether I want to try to go it alone, again!  In the meantime I have to buy a turkey, and contemplate all the things for which I am thankful.  For those that celebrate, I wish each and every one a Happy Thanksgiving, and I will wind down the hours of my days off wondering what might be of interest for ............... another story!

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