The rain did not exactly 'stop play' on Sunday, last, but it did play a part in some of the leisure time I had planned for myself! Dana was still very much in 'catch up' mode, and decided to spend a few hours in the office, while I went to the pool. As I arrived at my favourite spot, alone, of course, due to the rather dark clouds engulfing the sky, there came a few small, un-Texas-like, drops of rain, to hinder my plans. I swam for a while, and then got out of the pool, in order to read. The small un-Texas-like drops of rain realised that they had no place in the largest contiguous state, and gave way to the massive water-bombs that we, here in the Lone Star community, call a shower! I got back in the pool and enjoyed the buoyancy that the excess liquid had caused, and swam for another fifteen minutes or so! When the 'drops' became 'pebbles', I decided it was time to leave.
Jigsaws have long been a challenge that I enjoy, with a passion, and the box that Samantha bought for my birthday, along with the extra large frame, in which to make it, (allowing for it to be hung after completion) had been opened, and was waiting for me to put it together. Not the easiest of challenges, as there were many 'straight edges', the map of the United States of America, started to gain a boarder. However, most of the States had their own 'straight edge', and I had to decipher which as external, and which was internal. Having completed a jigsaw, years ago, without a picture for guidance, as the box top was just a gold colouring, I decided that this was not my hardest challenge. While Dana attempted to ready himself for the following week, I busied myself with the building of a nation!
When Dana returned, it was almost Sunday evening, and he caught me laughing to myself, as I recognised a lot of city names, in Texas as well as other States. When I first started to work for my husband, in his business, also employed by his was a married couple that did not appreciate the wife of the boss being on the premises. Suffice it to say, their antics were, as we say in England sussed out, and my 'compassion' for their issues was not as strong as that of my spouse. As Dana had left my 'training' to them, they led me in totally the opposite direction of where I should be, and even now, twelve years on, I am still being asked, "Why do you do it that way?" They quit a year after my arrival, and had already been nicknamed, by me, the 'gruesome twosome'. However, I digress. The reason for mentioning the 'gruesome twosome', was because they rarely gave me any work to do, and I was left to my own devices. In the early days, I chose to familiarise myself with the areas to where we sent papers, and made a grid of States, showing their Capital and major cities. This proved to be an excellent grounding. (The stories of how I managed to expose the 'gruesome twosome' are amusing, now, but unworthy of the written word!) As I put together the pieces of the jigsaw, I thought of the 'gruesome twosome', and how they had inadvertently forced me into geographically educating myself! "Hartford is Connecticut; Manchester is New Hampshire; Lincoln is Nebraska", and so on! I sat making up states out of thin, odd shaped pieces of cardboard, and was in my element!
Addiction is not a word I like to use when referring to something to which I am drawn, but Monday morning came with a lot of pressure. As I started to do my usual household chores, I heard the jigsaw calling. I wanted to abandon everything and run into the back bedroom to see if I could find the pieces that connected Carson City to the bits that fitted together and displayed the white italic script, 'Nevada'. I resisted. Instead I completed my usual tasks, and by the time Samantha came to collect me, I was finished with my housework, albeit hovering around the room that held the puzzle.
Parts of a corn on the cob must mean Nebraska. I knew this as I accidentally fell to the floor, with my hand landing in the box that had many pieces still upside down. It was Tuesday, and I did not have to prepare dinner until I returned home that evening. My desk at work looked like a refuse dump, with piles (surprisingly neat) of paperwork, each pile having a different task to complete. Stamped addressed envelopes had to be sent to courthouses all over the State; Affidavits had to be created; Document details had to be entered into the computer. It was a jigsaw of its own! I saw the pieces, in my mind's eye, of the puzzle, as I had to send a certified mail package to Dover, which I knew was in Delaware!
I resisted the temptation to just boil the broccoli, and serve it au natural. Instead, I delivered it to the table, au gratin, to compliment the roast potatoes and poached salmon. The apples were cooked too, in an alternative 'Eve's pudding', including strawberries with the fruit that was the namesake's downfall, under a covering of light sponge! I may have known that Eden is a town located to the south of Buffalo, New York, but I had failed miserably in making the connection with 'apples' and 'Eve'. I felt rather foolish when I said I had no idea after whom the dessert was named, and all my guests suggested that the apples 'gave it away!'.
Coffee with Joe and Gail on Wednesday was a rare delight, and Dana called while I was there to say that he had booked my car in for its annual inspection and service the following morning, which meant that I would not have an opportunity to tackle my list of 'extras', which I had planned for the 'spare' time I have on Thursday and Friday, before work. I drove back from South Austin, battling the traffic which was rather heavy due to school being back in session and, apparently, an accident which was being cleared from a major artery, and vowed to be judicious in my effort to remove all piles from my desk before the bell. "Take your time!", I shouted to Samantha, as we came home at lunchtime to go swimming, and she posed the possibility of deviation, with the unfinished sentence, "Before we go swimming, I want to.......". I am normally rather stern when anything other than the norm is suggested, as I have a strict work ethic, and tolerance for straying is non-existent! As she achieved her goal, I achieved mine. Eureka! I placed the piece bearing the name of the city in the yellow portion of puzzle that was California!
Puzzled at why I did not spend longer at the pool on Wednesday evening, Dana appeared at the back door earlier than expected. He had suggested that he had a lot of work to complete, and thought I would wait until the sun had disappeared completely before leaving my paradise. He suggested that perhaps it was the mosquitoes that had forced an early retirement from the haven I enjoy so much. I replied that I was unaware of any city in the USA called Mosquito, before realising that he was referring to the insect! I became aware of my impending obsession! However, I consoled myself in the fact that it was temporary, and once finished, the temptation would no longer exist.
The drive across to the South side on Thursday was quite pleasant. There was no traffic on the road, and I did not surrender to the pressure that suggested foregoing a visit with Joe, and leaving a little later in order to spend some time on finding all the pieces to make Montana! I had said I would visit, and visit was what I was going to do! I arrived a little before seven, and surprised his staff, who mentioned that I had already visited once this week. "You are back"? they said, not with any sense of annoyance, but more with a sense of surprise. I told each one in turn, "Perhaps you should ask why?", but none saw the humour! After drinking two cups of nectar, I departed and headed in the direction of the mechanic. After assuring the owner that I would not have a problem driving a larger SUV, and letting him know that I was a licensed London cabbie in my previous life, he told me that it was his wish to visit my capital city, and wondered if it was something that he could afford to do. His call to me later in the day, giving me an estimate of how much the 'super' service would cost (as my old lady has achieved over the century in mileage, and become arthritic so is in need of replacements,) gave me the perception that the trip was becoming more and more affordable! However, (although perhaps a contradiction in terms to some,) I do trust my mechanic, and I knew that the work was in order!
Dana did not arrive home until 7:30pm on Thursday, and pulled into the carport, his car a mere spec, next to the beast that I had been loaned! Dinner was ready, but I was not! Iowa was not playing nicely, and Des Moines did not want to fit into the pocket that was provided! Like a 'flat pack' piece of furniture, I wondered if there was something missing!
The sliver that was Union Park slithered into place on Friday morning. I had decided that my time would be best spent, not catching up on something that would have to be left 'half done', but piecing together parts of the Hawkeye state! Reluctantly admitting defeat as my alarm sounded, as I had failed to put a boarder around the Midwestern area, I took my grappling hooks and scaled the face of the mountain that was the SUV in my carport, and headed south. A third morning of going across the river was not on the agenda at the beginning of the week, and the signs indicating that the road upon which I was due to drive was closed, was certainly not part of my plan! For a moment, I panicked. My confidence returned rather quickly, once I reminded myself of two facts. I had told the mechanic that I was, albeit in a previous life, a London cabbie, and I remember my father once telling me that London cab drivers never get lost! (I reminded him of this once when we found ourselves going around the autobahn for the third time, wondering which exit to take to get to Munich, and he had to admit that it only applied to London, and the surrounds.) The second fact was that if I could find my way around the outskirts of Bismark, North Dakota, (despite being a cardboard cut out,) I could surely find an alternative route to South Congress Avenue! Once my faith in myself was restored, I continued on my journey, and picked up my little old lady once having been relieved of an amount that by comparison was as large as the SUV I had returned!
Dinner was once again at home on Friday, and despite Dana saying that he was leaving early, he was home a lot later than expected. I did not fuss, as the four former presidents heads sat under the italic lettering of South Dakota, and the map was starting to take shape! With more pieces on the board than in the box, and all over the carpet, I felt a sense of achievement!
Samantha's neighbour, Sandra, joined us on Saturday, for our weekly adventure, and and adventure we had! Eating steak and cheesecake, we made our way around the aisles of Costco, and then departed north to the depths of Walmart! "I want to see all about this in your blog!" said Sandra, as I argued with the scanning machine. "We have had this conversation. The item cannot be 'unexpected in the bagging area', if it has been scanned by you!" I explained, rather harshly, to the machine. Delighted at having gained another reader, I told he that the 'Scanner family' post had been covered many moons ago, and although an ongoing saga, like the 'gruesome twosome', I found it unnecessary to give it more airtime, as after all, any attention, even negative, is attention! Both are undeserving! She smiled graciously, and I suspect she was being polite. I remain an enigma to so many!
With Sunday once again upon us, I looked out of the window and wondered if the clouds were going to produce any rain, and if they were, would it be accompanied by thunder and lightening. The former would allow a swim, the latter would allow me to feed my craving of jigsaw! St. Petersburg has been sitting around unattached as of yet to Florida, wondering what it needs to connect itself to the sunshine state! Sunshine would definitely disqualify it from being connected today! If I could have, perhaps, an hour, or maybe two, of unbroken concentration, I could finish the puzzle and go back to a run of the mill life. However, what stands in the way of me and my own completed version of this land in which I live, will be ................ another story!