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Sunday, June 14, 2015


The wildlife population has increased since the Memorial Day floods, (as the heavy rainfall and storms occurring during the last public holiday, have been affectionately dubbed,) due to the washing away of their homes.  Having an aversion to snakes and large (or small) arachnids does not seem to be all that strange to me, although others take it in their stride.  Apparently, as the water ran down, and through our complex, the reptile population, (whom generally control the vermin and amphibian population; I am not sure what controls the reptile population, and am not sure I wish to find out,) unwittingly took to the roads, and swam downstream into the neighbourhood!  This was of great joy to a neighbour's eight year old daughter, and no doubt to others of her age, but to those of us who are of a more discerning age, it was not! Although the species were not necessarily of the fatal variety, a rattled snake, whether having a clicking tail or not, is something that should not be messed with!

However, after two weeks, the creeks are already starting to dry and the wildlife is slowly returning to less human inhabited areas. This has not stopped me from walking around the pool before jumping in, to make sure that a stray length of serpent is not lurking under the surface.  It is highly unlikely that an anaconda would be waiting unnoticed within the depths of a our leisure area, ready to pull me under the water without anyone being aware of my predicament, but being the multi-phobic individual that I am, I do not rule out anything!  

The lack of rain during the week allowed the maintenance man to carry out his water test on Tuesday.  The leak to next door's condo was not coming from the roof, and he was rather concerned that our patio was the source of the problem.  Before my lunchtime constitutional, I listened to what may have to be done, oblivious to most of the terms, due to my lack of American building vocabulary, and mentally noted all words to be checked against my 'English/American' dictionary, upon my return to the office.  After eleven years, there are still some areas with which I have not familiarized myself, and although I can quote (not necessarily verbatim, but definitely paraphrasing) the Constitution, both USA and Texas, together with their respective amendments, and many aspects of the legal system, the regulations needed to complete the building of a property have alluded me! The term 'change a plug' is alien to many around me, as are many local electrical terms alien to me.  However, I digress!  I was sure that some of the larger, more alarming sounding phrases were not as fearsome as they first sounded.  Upon my return from the pool, our maintenance man asked for permission to return to our sun room to carry out one final test on Thursday.  I confirmed this was okay.  

Unwanted reptiles were not the only source of irritation in our community.  The 'No solicitation' sign that is on the front door to our building does not keep out anyone who wants to sell their wares, as if one person invites someone into the building, the whole building, apparently, becomes an equal opportunity.  It would appear that 'promoting artwork' does not fall under the category of soliciting.  (Of course, soliciting in the UK is a totally different concept to that in the USA!  Perhaps that is one for google!)  When suggesting to students who are attempting to support their friends' endeavours, by taking samples around town, that this is in fact soliciting, they look at me with absolute contempt and tell me that selling art is NOT, at all, soliciting.  It's selling art!  (I have no answer for that, other than to ask, 'What on earth do they teach you in school, these days?)  However, once again, I digress.  In an attempt to close the 'loophole', and have the ability to say, 'You are not welcome', I have placed an individual 'No Soliciting' sign under our name plaque, which is stuck on the wall directly next to our office door.  (I was informed that a sign saying 'Go away, we do not want what you are selling', would be considered a little too obvious, but I do not think the word 'obvious' is in the vocabulary of the students selling - not soliciting - art!)  When a gentleman entered our establishment on Wednesday, I was in a bit of  a quandary.  He told me that we had been customers when on Sixth Street, and he had just taken over the sales area for a particular company.  He was following up on our account, as we had not ordered for sometime and he did not want us to think that the company had forgotten our requirements. On the one hand, I was ready to suggest that a telephone call would have been more appropriate, but I went with option two!  "You are my neighbour", I said, recognising the face of a new occupant in our condo village. I thought it would be unwise to enforce my authority, despite the fact that no one recognises me outside the pool area, as I wear a cap and dark glasses, and do not go to the pool in my classic suits and high heeled shoes!  He smiled and said that he was not our neighbour, and that his office was on the other side of town.  "No, our condo neighbour", I said, as politely as possible. Suddenly, the accent registered!  (Proof again that my disguise works!)  He chatted for a while, letting me know why he had called (again) and I took him through to Dana's office, to stop my husband wondering why I was not turfing the solicitor out of our domain! After about twenty minutes, and no sale, but the promise to bear in mind the services he provided, we said our goodbyes, and I returned to work.

My lunchtime swim was unhindered by unwanted reptiles, amphibians, arachnids, insects, even homosapiens!  Although there were signs of life having been present at some time during the morning, as a chair had definitely been placed to receive direct sunlight, I was able to complete my less than vigourous exercise routine without having to be polite to anyone!  

I could not park in my carport on Thursday, as it was filled with a workbench, ladder and various other tools, which probably have different names to what I am familiar!  Our maintenance man, and his colleague, were pulling away part of the masonry which joins our patio area to our neighbour's laundry room. (So I am told!)  He had found the source of the problem, to wit the leak, and was pleased to report, that whilst coming from our sun room, it was contained, and could be repaired quite quickly and easily.  He started to show me the offending area, and how the 'stucco' had been placed, and how the area had been badly 'botched', in a way that was far from coherent to the English laywoman!  He was quite certain this was the fault of the original builders!  I started to get a little concerned as to the rest of the building, but he assured me that this was outside the property, and it was not covered by the same regulations, and probably an after thought by the original owners.  He pulled something away from the wall, crumbled it in his fingers, and said, 'This is it!'  I smiled as if I was completely aware of what he was talking about, and his colleague smiled and nodded as I feigned a look of total disbelief!  

That evening, I swam, once again in private, and upon returning to my house, met another neighbour.  We had been chatting for about five minutes, and I was telling her of my encounter at the office with our new neighbour, when he appeared along the road.  He introduced himself, and suddenly realised that I was the woman in the office, whom he had met the previous day.  I had no idea that I was such a master of disguise!  Another neighbour came along and if someone had brought a few beers and chips, our congregation could have been misconstrued as a party!  It was about thirty minutes later that I looked at my phone to see that time had marched on, and wondered why my husband had not sent out a search party!  After all, I had merely gone for a quick swim, and I could have been pulled under by a stray anaconda!  I intimated that it was time to leave the happy bunch, and one by one, we went on our way.  

Dana wondered where I had been!  The thought that I had been
eaten, kidnapped (or pentagonarian-napped) or fed to the lions, had not entered his head!  Taking my phone to the pool is only a source of security if nothing happens to the person to whom belongs the phone!  However, I was safe, and there seemed little point in pursuing a scenario that had not happened!  "What if", "had not", so be it!

The rain reappeared on Friday, and although it was dry when I started my afternoon swim, by the time I was half way through, I was surprised I was not suffering from mild concussion after being pelted by giant drops from the ever darkening clouds.  The shower was short lived and as the offending area of my patio had been secured until such a time as it could be re plastered, rendered, or whatever it is they do 'out here', I was sure that my neighbour's laundry room and bedroom would remain dry; at least from my side of the building!

Rain had been forecast for Saturday, but it did not move in until the day had gone!  I spent an enjoyable morning with my daughter, as we shopped for groceries, and returned.  My neighbour with the biologist eight year old daughter joined us by the pool.  The budding scientist was somewhat disappointed at the lack of serpents, arachnids, insects, amphibians ...... cats, dogs, mice, rats ....... lions, tigers, panthers jaguars..... or any other animals that could be contained in a commonal garden safari or zoo!  She was quite certain she had espied a baby copperhead snake, but her father was unsure as to whether or not she had been mistaken, hoping that she had!  Again, baby or not, a snake is a snake!

Much as I enjoy the warm weather, the laid back nature of the people, and the general difference in life, everything comes with an obstacle or two.  Who would have thought that when I mention that an arachnid had entered my house, I could have been talking about a scorpion!  (I found this out for myself, without the help of the eight year old, despite her being able to tell me which variety of beetle had just crawled into the grass!)  Learning to distinguish between venomous and not is of no interest to me.  A snake is a snake!  I am woman, hear me scream!  (Paraphrasing again!)  As the legless population returns to higher ground, I remain vigilant. I am sure the phrase, "It wont hurt you", has been many a famous last sentence!  However, living on the continent that contains an array of everything, I am always confident that I will find enough trivia to keep me writing .......... another story!

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