Sometimes I think that nothing unusual has happened during the week, and then I remember that nothing that happens here could be considered 'the norm', compared to when I was an Englishwoman at home!
I was not as bright as I would have like to have been on Monday morning, and found it quite hard to get myself in a mood that would allow me to be productive. I walked from room to room wondering 'where should I start', and remembered that I had promised to write myself a list of everything that I wanted to do in my house, and a list of everything that needed doing in my house, and then see what I could achieve on the second list. I far spent too long deciding upon what I was going to write the lists, as to whether I was going to just write down a few things on a piece of paper, or make a 'project' book, and the result was that I failed to get either list started. By 7am, I was aware that most of the 'at home' time had been eaten up by lethargy! Not particularly happy with myself, I spent the next twenty five minutes moving objects from one place to another, thus achieving nothing, again! It was almost a welcome release when it was time to go into work!
My lethargic mood continued throughout the day. I swam at lunchtime, and although Samantha joined me at the pool, she did not get in the pool, due to the sudden drop in temperature. It certainly woke me up, jumping into the less than moderately cold water, and I squealed as I felt my body temperature dip as I plunged, without hesitation, into the five feet of liquid. However, after about six laps, I started to warm up! I then started to wonder when I would have to fore go the lunch time swim, and then started to think back to the times when 'lunchtime' meant stopping work for half an hour to have a sandwich! I felt somewhat sad at the prospect of losing that 'new' and 'different' feeling, and the realisation that I was, indeed, acclimatising to Texas, was a little disappointing!
Pie puts a lot of things into perspective! On Monday night, at an established restaurant on the North side of town, (in a previous life, I would have simply said 'north',) pie is complimentary with an entree, Marie Callender has a pie menu that is all that I remember thinking America was about! Although apple pie, and cheesecake, were a part of my diet when growing up, and as a grown up, the movies always made a 'big thing' about pie. Many an actor would be in a scene at a cafe, or a drug store, and order a cup of coffee, and a piece of pie. Pie was obligatory! 'Pie' never had to be explained. It didn't matter what was inside, the filling was irrelevant. It was 'Pie'. In England, the cure for almost everything on the television, (and in the real world) was to 'put the kettle on', for 'a nice cup of tea'. As I was not a tea drinker growing up, and still do not partake of the typical way in which the beverage is drunk, (a drop of milk in the bottom of the cup is what I cannot stomach,) 'Pie' was, in my opinion, a much better form of comfort. Monday night put the rest of the week into perspective, as Dana took me out to dinner (on a school night, no less!) and after the obligatory 'befores', we had our 'piece of pie'!
We had watched 'The Great British Bake off' on Sunday evening, and one of the challenges was to make a pie. The judges checked the underneath of the dish to make sure the pastry was not soft, and to ensure that it was cooked thoroughly. As my pie arrived, Dana asked if the bottom was cooked. I lifted the dessert with my fork and looked. The waitress was by my side in an instant. It was almost as if I had challenged everything that was American, and good! "Is there something wrong with the pie?", she asked, with a voice that sounded as if she would burst into sobs if I should indicate that the most precious item on their menu could be in any way dis-satisfactory. If there was a problem with the 'befores', this could be fixed, but a problem with 'Pie' would be disastrous! I assured her that the pie was delicious. Not only was it the most delicious rhubarb pie I had ever tasted (although the filling was irrelevant,) it was the most perfectly cooked pie I had ever had the pleasure of eating! The world started to revolve again, and all was good! No matter what else was happening in the world, Austin, Texas, in the United States of America, did not have a problem with 'Pie'.
It was 'one of those moments', when I relished the difference between my 'birth' and 'adopted' homes. Growing up in England, we would occasionally go out for 'tea'. Sometimes we would go out for 'ice cream', but I cannot remember specifically going out for 'dessert'. If ever the occasion did arise, I do not think the words, 'Let's go out for pie', would pass my lips. If 'pie' was on the menu, it was unlikely I would order, as my mother's pastry could have won prizes! The week had hardly started and I had realised the unusual!
Pie was not on the menu Tuesday, as there seemed no need to 'put the kettle on'. I had risen early, taken care of all that needed doing on a Tuesday morning, and I had shaken the lethargic mood that had taken hold the previous day. The dinner that I had made the previous morning, and not eaten, due to the need for comfort, was put in the oven to reheat when I came home, I was able to enjoy the last few rays at the pool, before the sun disappeared behind the trees. A neighbour joined me, and while we were swimming, we discussed the various new shows on television, mainly the English performances on Masterpiece Theatre. It is when we chat about life on the opposite side of the ocean, that I discover the richness that I left behind. The phrase, 'The grass is always greener on the other side....', certainly has come to mind over the years. Having lived in various parts of the world, my neighbour agreed that 'perfection', would be to have a little bit of everything, from all places.
Samantha was unwell on Wednesday, and she sent me a message to let me know that she would not be making her usual run to purchase coffee and donuts for Dana, (as is her norm when I have an appointment on Wednesday,) as she would not be leaving her house! I finished my chores, and drove across the river to enjoy coffee with Joe, and to collect supplies for the next few weeks, as he is off on an adventure across to the other side of the world! Driving my car along the bridge, over the water, I watched as the sun was rising above the trees, and drank in the different way of life, again. I was half way through a week that I had considered to be usual, but that would have been totally alien eleven years ago!
Routine is something for which I crave. If my routine is altered, I do not cope very well. Although there are times when it can be bent slightly, without too much disruption, if there is a major change, I tend to need 'Pie', at least the metaphorical kind! Dana had been asked to give a presentation at a conference for attorneys, and he had been preparing for a few weeks. I knew the event was nearing but was not sure as to the exact date. This gave me very little time to get into panic mode, and as it happens, I only had three days to stress! However, knowing that I have the ability to run the company in his absence, I chose to ignore the little voices that attempted to undermine my proficiency, and I sat myself in his desk upon his departure. Looking very dapper, he left the office shortly after midday, and left me in charge. No sooner had he left did I receive a call from one of our servers in the field. "No!", I said with vigour. "You cannot give it to anyone!" The person in question was attempting to deliver some paperwork to an entity and did not know to whom they should hand it. I explained the 'Texas Rules of Civil Procedure', of which they should have been aware, and was quite categorical in my tone. I was asked, "Are you positive?", and for a moment I faltered. "Pie!" Of course I was certain, and what is more, the person to whom I was speaking should also have been certain! This incident was by no means a 'one off', but it made me realise that this knowledge is not from the 'old country'!
Dana returned, and complimented me on my adeptness in keeping things afloat. He further affirmed that my response to the server was correct, and that they should have 'known better'. He wondered at my lack of confidence for taking over as 'Captain of the ship', and I reminded him that it was not all my doing. For the past week, and previously when he has left the office for any length of time, he had made comments like, "What will you do if......?", and "How will you manage.....?" He was unaware that he had made these comments on such a regular basis, and promised to make amends! I suggested this could be fixed with a piece of pie!
Saturday and Sunday were 'normal' and 'usual', or at least the norm for the new life, or relatively new life I have been living for the past eleven years, although I think if I really put my mind to it, I could find something that is new and unusual. I enjoyed an afternoon by the pool on Saturday, which has become the norm, and in the evening we went out for dinner. As the waitress cleared away the plates from our entree, she enquired, "Would you like some Pie?". My reply was unexpected. "No need", I said and looked at the quizzical look on her face. What I had mean to say, of course, was "No, thank you", but things were going according to plan, and the kettle did not need to be put on!
My choices over the next few weeks will be made according to the newer way of life. Do I swim, or do I walk? My options in England were usually, "Do I walk or do I not?" However, as my exercise generally consisted of a good deal more housework, and a lot more walking, (no drive thru post offices where I lived!,) I found little need for the 'extra'. Pie, of course, carries a lot more calories than tea (even with whole milk) and the new form of 'comfort' cannot be repeated as often! I must say, I do prefer pie!
The shops (stores!) are starting to have 'special offers' on their Halloween products, despite it being the beginning of October! I still find the abundance of frivolity amusing, and that will probably always be the case. Perhaps we will have pie tomorrow, whether we need it or not, but there is no reason to think anything will happen to result in my desire to be comforted. It is still common for Samantha and I to burst out "We live in Texas. We live in America", a fact that we still do find almost unreal! I do hope that next week will bring something that constitutes a real 'out of the ordinary' event, not just so that I can go out for some pie, but because otherwise I shall having nothing to write for ....... another story!