There is always a sense of 'missing something' at the end of SXSW, and this year was no exception. When working downtown, there was the anticipation, followed by the excitement, followed by the 'get me out of here' feeling. Oddly enough, the latter did not last for too long, and Monday morning, when all the streets had been cleared, and the odd poster that had escaped the eagle eyes of the 'clean up' crew, was still waving in the wind, held to the lamp post by a single threat of sticky tape, seemed to be eerily quiet.
Considering that we were a few miles north of the hustle and bustle, I thought that I would not have that sense that something was missing. However, around 2pm, on Monday, I started to get itchy feet, and felt like I should be somewhere else!
Driving a few blocks to the post office did not quench my thirst for adventure, but it was the only change of scenery I was going to get for the day! The first Monday after 'Spring Break' is apparently always very busy. The line leading up to the counter was much longer than usual, and almost reached the entrance to the facility. I stood, watching those around me, listening to snippets of conversations. (I was not eavesdropping on purpose, but being that the acoustics at the 'station' would make the area a very good recording studio, (or cave!) it is hard not to hear every word.) The only part that does not have the same sound quality is by the counter, itself! I waited patiently, holding my 'over weight, if it fits, it ships envelope' in my hand, and the remaining mail in the bag displaying the picture of my grandson. An employee sauntered along the line, asking if anyone had any requirements not involving a 'cash transaction'. When she approached me, I told her that it was necessary for me to go to the counter, as my package was over thirteen ounces. "You can deal with that at the machine at the front", she told me. I was rather astounded, as for the past several years, I was under the impression that I had to stand in line for a long time, and have a member of staff ask me several questions as to the content of my package. It transpired that as I had the correct postage attached to my envelope, I could answer all the questions via the machine at the front! My life was about to be simplified. However, several people in the line overheard this, due to the fantastic acoustics, and made their way to the single electronic counter at the entrance. As I was next in line to be interrogated, I stood my ground and waited to be called. As my package did not contain anything fragile, liquid or potentially harmful or threatening, (although I did explain that the contents were legal papers, and depending upon the recipient, the latter could be a contender,) I was free to leave! The line at the machine at the front of the store was now as long as the queue for the counter! I congratulated myself on making the right decision.
My outing on Monday did little to quench the thirst for adventure, but there was little forthcoming. The temperature soared into the eighties, and jackets were thrown over one shoulder rather than around two. Apart from Wednesday, when we felt the backlash from a flurry of deadly tornadoes that hit Oklahoma, Arkansas and the northern part of our state, (as the season started,) everything was calm and hot. I took time-out on Thursday to see Joe, and replenish our coffee stock. He had been in Peru the previous week, and we swapped stories of our exciting adventures, although his was probably a little more so than mine! On the way back to the office, I took a detour to the radio station, to collect my latest winnings! I did not go empty handed. As the organisers had been most kind last time I had won a prize, and had transferred the New Years Eve gala tickets into the name of my daughter and her 'plus one', I took a box of Cadbury's Heroes to show my appreciation. The young lady at the desk informed me that the person for whom I asked was not yet in, and I explained that I wanted to say thank you in chocolates! "I remember you", she said very excitedly. "I spoke to you when you called from England". I handed her the chocolates, and told her that she could be in charge of their distribution. This appeared to be a satisfactory decision!
The weekend came around, eventually, and my thirst for adventure had not been quelled. Samantha arrived at my condo, Frank in tow, and we left the forlorn animal as we made our way northbound. The craft store did not hold my interest for long, as their inventory did not include the material I required. When I did find something that would have been suitable to cover my two fraying cushions, it was in the wrong colour. Samantha suggested I redecorate my living room to accommodate the cushions, but that is the type of adventure I can well do without! We headed due west towards Sprouts, where I bought an abundance of adventurous vegetables, and then travelled a few hundred yards north towards Costco.
Although not quite the adventure I craved, there are usually one or two exciting moments in the giant warehouse. The clock was steering towards midday, and the vendors were setting up their stations so that the public could taste the delicious wares from various competitors. The lady who was presenting the most exotic, tantalising and apparently tremendously healthy 'fish sticks', was almost ready to set out the crispy delicacy and a crowd was forming. Samantha is rather partial to 'fish sticks', and we joined the small band of would be tasters. We mentally numbered ourselves five and six, and stood patiently. Two young girls appeared from the opposite end of the aisle and stood behind the server, who was now cutting the larger strips into smaller pieces. As the tray was pushed towards the front of the stand, the girls started to push their way to the front of the queue. It is not my place to educate other people's children, but in the absence of a parent, I took on the task, and decided to be vocal. "There is a queue", I said, firmly but politely. The look I received was one of complete disdain, and they looked at each other with a renewed determination. However, never underestimate the swiftness of a middle aged woman who has more determination in her spirit than they have experienced in their tender years. Taking one step to the left was enough to block their way, and their hands from reaching forward and swiping the golden coloured sample. Number one and two came forward, and then number three. I commented that the 'nice patient young man' was next in line, but apparently his mother, who was by his side and appeared to be enjoying the impromptu show that had been provided for the viewers, stated that she was not partial to fish. Samantha took her piece, and I took mine. As I moved away, I looked at the stunned girls, and said in my best English accent, "Now that is what you call crowd control". I remember my mother saying that "Manners cost nothing", and found myself repeating this, too! Perhaps I should have directed them to the book section, as a dictionary may have given them a definition as to what the word 'manners' meant, as they appeared to be totally oblivious.
Our penultimate stop at Walmart, and final port of call at the Dollar Tree held no surprises. We shopped, we left. Everyone was very cordial, and although I had a slight altercation with the scanning machine, (which is not out of the norm,) there was very little to 'write home about'. I did 'test drive' a couple of bicycles, but was not enamoured with the selection and decided to do some more research before making a final decision.
Finally, mother and daughter arrived back at the condo, where we found a delighted puppy, and a not so delighted husband, as we started to tell of our afternoon's misadventures, without giving a thought to the fact that he had been watching a movie and all was about to be revealed! However, gracious as the husband is, he paused the film, and smiled each time we roared with laughter. "I guess you had to be there" was the phrase of choice!
I decided to take myself down to the pool, as it had been very warm, and sit in the sun for a while. A young couple were sunbathing, and I sat with my legs dangling into the water. Although the days had been very warm, the night time temperature had dropped down to the forties. However, the water was not as cold as I had predicted. I returned home and donned my bathing suit, before returning to the pool. Amazed at the lack of 'brrrr', I ducked my shoulders under the water, and started to swim. It was wonderful. The water felt good and the sun was hot on the surface. As I started my second lap, I suddenly realised, 'Who needs an adventure!' My week was complete. The lack of anticipation, excitement, and even the feeling of 'get me out of here', paled into insignificance as I swam and swam. I do realised quite how blessed I am to be able to experience this delight, as well as being on the doorstep to the biggest music festival in the world. Home will always be home, as in good old Blighty, but my second more permanent abode has a few advantages that are quite appealing!
Next weekend I will be embarking on a real adventure. As Good Friday is not a national holiday, and the courthouse will be open, my husband has no choice but to be behind his desk. However, the neighbouring courthouses will be closed, and the legislators do not generally legislate on this day, so the chances of any meetings at the Capitol are very slim. In past years, the Easter weekend (including Friday) has been rather quiet, so Samantha and I have booked a mini-vacation! We are off to Legoland, California! I had heard that adults are not permitted entry without a child, but apparently that is a myth! Leaving the significant others to fend for themselves in Austin, (some would say that, too, is a blessing for them,) we leave rather early on Friday morning, and return late on Sunday night, so although I will, no doubt, have plenty to say, it may be Monday before I can write ...... another story!