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Sunday, July 26, 2015


Just when I think there will have to be a serious amount of brain wracking to find something noteworthy to post, my week becomes a roller coaster of details!  I had taken to writing down notes, as by the end of the week the interesting things that have occurred have melted into a blob, and I can no longer muster them into sounding interesting!

This week, however, was filled with so many 'ups' and 'downs' that I could (but wont) fill several pages!  When I was younger, and had to travel by public transport, my friends and I would wait forever for a bus to come along.  When it did, invariably, there were several buses following, all going to the same location.  Everyone referred to this phenomenon as the 'banana' buses as they always came in bunches!  This week was a 'banana bus' week!

Monday held no particular bright spot.  We were very busy at work, and when I came home for my lunchtime swim, I was accompanied by my Spanish neighbour, who was here for his month in the sun!  Whilst I really enjoy the interaction with another European, when he swims, he is very focused, and goes across the pool at a speed that makes me feel quite arthritic!  Swimming alongside him, as he wades through the water like a fish, and causes waves that would make a surfer smile, I feel like a salmon swimming upstream!  However, we exchanged pleasantries before the event, and said we would 'catch up' at the weekend.  I returned to work and then home for another, less energetic, swim in the evening.

I decided to make an earlier appearance at the pool on Tuesday. I descended from my front porch and checked my mailbox.  The contents included the weekly flyers from the local supermarkets, and a letter for Dana. Samantha suggested I return the articles to the box, as when I take them down to the pool, they have a tenancy to blow away if they are not secured, and I spend time collecting the mass of brightly coloured papers from the grass, and patio, before I check them for the best bargains.  Doing as I was told, I failed to co-ordinate my hands, and dropped my phone to the ground.  As it landed on the corner, the screen cracked!  The 'saver' that had been stuck to the screen, did not prevent the inevitable, but did stop the glass from splintering. Everything else appeared to be working, so I thought I would review my options after my daily constitutional! Surprisingly enough, I remained calm and undeterred by the event. My daughter was amazed, and added that she would have been a lot more upset!

The store where I originally purchased the phone, and the one run by our service provider, is in the strip centre along the road from our office.  I entered and explained my predicament.  The person to whom I spoke was very helpful, and assured me that there would not be a problem in replacing the phone, as there were three lines on our account that had an available upgrade.  He advised against replacing my beloved phone with the same version, but I assured him that a different model was not an option.  The phone had been purchased reluctantly, but out of necessity to have the option of face timing, and if I was interested in gadgetry, I would certainly not be thinking of a fruit!  My options were then limited.  I would be looking at leaving the store with a new phone at a cost of just under $100.  I thanked him for his time, and left.  

Upon returning to the office, I explained the situation to Dana, and when I had finished, he told me that whilst I was out destroying my possessions, I had received a phone call from the radio station, to say that I had won tickets to see Chicago and Earth Wind and Fire, who were playing in Austin, on Thursday evening!  Much as I had been quite excited at the prospect of being a winner when I entered the competition, my joy was suppressed by the impending doom at the thought of having to leave the comfort of my current mobile device!  My thoughtful husband said he would leave his work behind, and travel the short distance to the phone store, in order to make the transition simpler for me.  He had implicit instructions not to accept an upgrade to a newer model.  I had done a modicum of research and ascertained that the next generation of the same model contained half the amount of data space.  This was presumably why I was being steered to a different model by the shop assistant, but as I had used less than half of my current amount, this was not a problem for me.  However, Dana returned to the office without a new phone, but with a determination to change our service provider.  He was not shown the same options that had been offered to me, but had been told that what the assistant had "probably", actually meant to imply, was that the $100 would be merely a deposit on a new phone.  The eligibility for an upgrade meant nothing more than the ability to spread the payments of a new phone over a period of time.  Despite having paid outright for my phone a year ago, they were actually charging us for a payment plan!  Dana had queried this charge a few times over the last year, and they had insisted that it would be reversed.  Apparently there was a reason why I had broken my screen, and the need to go into the store!  

With only two options open to me, those being to replace the screen or buy a new phone, I opted for the former and began another round of research.  An appointment was made at the 'genius bar' for Thursday.  Various local vendors offered a screen replacement service, but the reviews indicated that the after sales care was non-existent, and after sales care was needed after all repairs!  I was not confident about letting a third-party take care of my precious possession, despite their displaying the 'certified' signs in their advertisement.  

By midweek, I was a little bit of an emotional disaster.  I left the house later than expected, as Joe was not going to be in the coffee shop until mid morning, and I wanted to pick up my tickets to the concert before my nail appointment at nine.  The traffic across town and over the river was not too bad, and I arrived at the radio station at 8:30am.  By 8:40am, I realised that the opening hours were not necessarily strict and if I wanted to be back in North Austin by nine, I would have to leave immediately.  The trip back was not too burdensome, due to 'school holidays', and after having my nails painted a vivid neon pink, with a zebra style on the 'ring' finger, I proceeded back across the river to the 'Majic' centre, where I retrieved my prize!  The performance was to be held at the Amphitheatre of the Circuit of the Americas.  My tickets were for 'The Lawn',  I was a little underwhelmed.  There were three rows of seating.  My preference would have been for the middle section, as the first seemed to be a little too near the stage and the second was graduated.  The third would have been okay, but not perfect. I realised that my disappointment was probably due to the fact that my world had been inverted due to the hiccup with my phone, and attempted to look on the brighter side.  The 'old lady' within said that I would rather spend Thursday evening in the comfort of my home, whereas the 'twelve year old' within fought an uphill battle, expressing the will to live a little!  Dana had let me know that he would rather not accompany me to the concert, as his experience with driving too and from the race track, (when we had attended the F1 race,) was still causing him to have nightmares, and he suggested I ask someone else.  I decided that I would sleep on it!

After my lunchtime swim on Thursday, Samantha and I drove to the Apple Store at the Domain shopping center.  Efficiency really is their goal, and they achieve it very proficiently.  I was 'checked in', and a 'genius' (that word is really used loosely) came to take my details.  My daughter answered 'yes' to all the questions regarding 'back-ups' etc., although I am sure I could have survived the ordeal if I were alone!  The repair would take about 90 minutes, and I should return at half past the hour of two!  Somewhat placated, I returned to the office, and decided that 'twelve year old's' reasoning should be given a fair hearing, and despite the groaning of the 'old lady', the younger entity won!  We were going to the ball!

I collected my phone, after being checked in by another genius, who led me seat by a table, and then a third genius came to explain what had taken place.  I had to sign the screen of an iPad with my finger, and was told that my faux pas had not caused damage to my phone, and my data was still in tact.  Having no questions to ask, the genius told me I was free to go!  I did feel a lot better!  The new screen did cost a little more than the deposit at the 'less than honest' phone store, but it was worth it to have my 'core centered'! 

By five twenty, I had left the office, returned home, gathered a stock of cushions, a stadium seat, changed clothes and was headed southbound towards COTA!  The 'Mrs Lady' on Samantha's phone (as she is affectionately known) told us how to get to our destination.  In her very pronounced English accent, she let us know the best route, and the time it would take.  The traffic was rather heavy due to 'quitting' time, but it started to dissipate the further south we drove!  As we passed the airport, the British Airways 'straight through' flight took off, and the feeling of homesickness hit my emotions with a vengeance.  Involuntarily, I waved at the plane.  It was going home. Without stopping along the way, it was going home!  Pulling myself together, I continued along the road, and listened intently to 'Mrs Lady', as she announced we were almost at our destination.  

Parking was included in the price of the ticket, and the experience was as efficient as the Apple Store, (without the genii) and was comparable to any Disney Park!  We parked the car, walked about twenty yards to the bus stop, boarded the bus, and were dropped off at the entrance less than two minutes later. The walk, we were told, would take about eight minutes, but with the temperature in the high 90's, we decided it would be more sensible to ride!

Food was available at a reasonable cost.  Apart from the usual 'burgers and dogs', there were stands offering a wide variety of all sorts.  I opted for a Greek Salad, which was very good.  Samantha had a gyro. Also available was Texas barbecue, steaks, pizza and various ethnic delicacies.  The sodas were a little expensive, but we were at a concert!  We found 'The Lawn', and noticed that at the top of the area there were some stands with some stools.  We walked up the stairs and asked two gentlemen, who had taken up residence, if the stools were considered part of 'The Lawn'.  "Oh yes, ma'am!" was the very enthusiastic response.  We stationed ourselves in the middle and the view was perfect.  There really was not a bad seat in the house.  Many people chose to sit on the grass, and as it was slopped, this made the stage clearly visible.  We sat and ate our dinner and enjoyed the breeze, which was thankfully fairly strong! Another couple came to sit next to us, and I moved our belongings which had been strewn along the row.  They inquired as to whether this area was considered 'The Lawn'. "Oh yes!" I replied, enthusiastically.  

Samantha, who had graciously consented to join me, being as I had been dubbed 'Billy no-mates', due to my inability to think of anyone who may wish to accompany me on a 'school night', spotted a sign that said 'kettle corn', and expressed a wish to partake of this snack.  I called the vendor to our little piece of paradise, and she handed my daughter a bag.  "How much?", I asked as I thought she said $3, but apparently this was incorrect.  "$8", came the reply.  I should not have been surprised at the outrageous price for a packet of popcorn, but I was!  The lady next to me started to laugh, and said, "It;s the experience, hon! Breathe it in!"  I agreed, and paid the price.  It was going to be a great experience, I was sure!  We watched the clock and waited for the concert to begin.  'The Lawn' started to resemble, "Who will buy", from the movie "Oliver", and the vendors started to multiply!  Suddenly, I heard, "Buy your kettle corn", and I instantly cried back, "Or buy a house....the payments are not dissimilar!"  My neighbour started to howl with laughter.  

Sitting in our reasonably comfortable seats, eating golden covered (or what should have been) kettle corn, and waiting for the start of the concert, we spotted a member of staff coming towards us.  He stopped and spoke to the couple next to us, and offered them a spot nearer the front.  Without a thought, the gentleman half of the couple who were seated next to us said, "What about our friends...we are with our friends here".  The man with the tickets asked, "Are you all together?" and as quick as a flash, our new friend said, "These are my friends". The ticket man walked across to me and asked if I would like to sit closer to the stage.  "On the seats?", I asked, realising how stupid that question sounded, as he was not going to frogmarch me across 'The Lawn' and make me sit on the grass!  He confirmed that he meant on the seats, and I accepted.  Six people got up from their stools and moved forward. We came to the back section of seats, and failed to find our row. Samantha spotted a sign that indicated we were to move forward, and a stadium employee confirmed. Our new tickets were in the middle section.  Perfection!  I turned to my new friend, and exclaimed that he was quite definitely my really best 'BFF'!

The music started and we all stood clapping and cheering.  The two groups came on the stage at once, and started to play, and then Chicago took the mic.  Perhaps it was a bad night, or perhaps I had too many memories of one song, but I am sorry to say, to my ears, the voices were no longer appealing.  It sounded like a lot of noise and not much else.  I was very disappointed.  However, I was one of many!  After a few songs, introductions were made, and it was explained that the concert was in four parts, the first of which we had just experienced.  The second part was to be Earth Wind and Fire, the third Chicago, and the fourth, a grand finale of both!  

Three original members of the group Earth Wind and Fire were on the stage, sounding as magnificent as they did in the early years! They sang all the old favourites that I remembered, and I was dancing and bopping along with the crowd, to the amusement of my daughter, who said she knew most of the songs, although not necessarily all of the words.  I was transported back to my teens for almost an hour!  It was spectacular!  As part two ended, and part three imminent, I asked if Samantha was ready to leave.  We decided to stay for a couple of songs from Chicago, and then make our way back to the car.  However, the stage 'changeover' took longer than we had anticipated, and I thought that I should perhaps take my leave while still on a high.  Just a little intermission of my own here; being on a high was more than a metaphor!  It appeared that there were some members of the crowd that had decided the rules did not apply, and even though it was strictly forbidden, some form of illegal substance, no doubt in cigarette form, was being smoked. It was not hard to distinguish the 'Marlboro' from the 'Mellowboro'! 

As we left the stadium area, Chicago took the stand.  I was not sorry I left, and several others presumably only came to hear the big hits of EW&F.  We walked the six minutes back to the car and the car park staff moved some barriers that had been put in place for the mass exodus, to allow us to leave the way we came in. Samantha activated "Mrs Lady" and she proceeded to steer us in the right direction.  Once we had passed the airport perimeter, we decided that 'Mrs Lady' could go to bed.  However, I should have known better than to listen to the directions of my daughter, as many a time I have asked, "Which way" only to regret my question. We avoided the downtown route, and headed along the road that she 'likes' to take.  Of course, we had not calculated that when Samantha goes home from the airport, her house is a good deal further north than mine, and we sped along heading further and further north. Eventually, we found a road that was familiar to us both, and she commented that this was where she ran at the 'colour run'.  I was in shock.  It had taken us 30 minutes to get from my house to the 'colour run', and we had already traveled about fifteen from the 'split', where I had asked if there was an alternative to the downtown route.  We could have been back at my condo within twenty minutes from that spot!  I was told to 'stop my moaning', (if she was twenty years younger..,) and I started to laugh.  The 'old lady' had taken over, and the 'twelve year old' had obviously been overruled!  Having circled around the city limits of Austin, we finally arrived back at my home, at ten o'clock.  

Dana was walking the dog when we drove into the complex, and Samantha was able to take the animal immediately to head home. I was still quite animated and started to relay the events of the evening to my husband, who found it all rather amusing.  Samantha had commented that although we had gone the long way around coming home, it did not take as long as when we came home from the F1 race.  Dana twitched!  

Still very much awake, I went to bed, and thought I would find it hard to drop off to sleep, but after watching half of a television show, I must have given in completely to the 'old lady', and the next thing I remember, the alarm was sounding for me to get up.

The contraband must have taken more of a toll than I expected. Friday morning I arose with a thumping headache, and a desire to eat anything that I could find!  I took the bedclothes from the bed, ready to put them into the washing machine, and brought the fresh ones from the cupboard.  I made myself a cup of coffee, returned upstairs, took the bedclothes to the washer, set the cycle and started it.  I returned to my bedroom, cleaned my bathroom, and then went to make the bed.  Staring at me was a pile of dirty linen.  In my post drunken stupor, I had placed the clean linen in the laundry, and I was now going to have to bring out the stepladder to retrieve the 'spare' spare set that I keep on high!  Climbing was not a good idea this morning, but what else could I do.  By the time I reached the office, my head was on, but the controlling parts were quite redundant!  It took most of the morning for me to shake the woozy feeling, but by eleven, I was back to normal, with everyone having enjoyed the respite!  

With the weekend approaching and very little to achieve on the horizon, I felt rather relaxed.  The pool was rather busier than usual on Saturday, but with no more than ten people, I should not complain.  Sunday was less populated, but four boys of college age can appear like twenty!  I managed to swim between the water football game, so I was content.  Next weekend Samantha and I will be celebrating our eleven year anniversary!  That coupled with the same day being Dana's birthday, should make for ........ another story!

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