Nothing out of the ordinary can make a very extra-ordinary week. I sat thinking at my laptop, "What happened", that could be of interest. Everything seemed to be normal, this week. However, normal in my world is not always regular in that of others, and of course, we are talking lead up to Halloween in Austin!
We were exceptionally busy on Monday, and as Samantha was not in, again, I had no option but to put on on my 'Matnee' hat at the end of the day and make sure her work was up to date. Although absolutely bogged down with work, I had managed to take my lunchtime constitution, walking rather than swimming, despite the temperature being quite warm. As the overnight low had dropped below sixty, I did not want to torture myself and brave the pool. Instead, I chose to pick up some 'essentials' at the supermarket. As I had not done the 'weekly shop' over the weekend, there were a couple of things that I needed.
Halloween items were suspended from the ceiling, and inflated spiders and pumpkins were all around the store. There was a prolific amount of orange and black food items for sale, and I was reminded not to forget to buy candy for the impending stampede of people I could expect at my door over the weekend, and on Monday, 31st October. The young chap behind the counter was in a particularly good mood. I responded to his question enquiring as to how may day was progressing, and asked him the same. "I am great. Getting off work soon, so that's good". I smiled and told him it must be nice to finish early. "Yes, only another three hours! Started at 10, and leave at five". My only thought was, "I want his job!" I had arrived at seven thirty, and did not see myself leaving until the same time that evening. We exchanged more meaningless chit-chat and I assured him that I was more than ready for Halloween, but failed to let him know that this was due to the fact that I had no intention of taking part! I then walked back to the office. As expected, the afternoon was rather gruelling, and we finally left the office a little before eight, and went to the diner for dinner.
I received a call from Steph on Tuesday, which brightened my morning, and had a conversation with my very polite grandson, while he was in the bath! He has leaned a new phrase. "Say hello to Grandma!" said Steph. "Um, no thank you", said Ollie. I did not get offended as the phrase "Um, no thank you", was repeated for everything, even to "Do you want ice-cream". It seemed appropriate during this week leading up to Halloween, that I should have some treats, along with the trick that work was becoming. My second 'treat' of the day was another 'facetime', this time from Richard. We chatted as I took my daily walk around the block. Although I had my own car, I did not leave the office until after seven, again, and prepared dinner when I got home. At around eight, I realised that Dana was not going to come home any time soon, and I went outside to grill my piece of tuna. I smiled as I lit the grill, and contemplated the fact I was standing outside, in the moonlight, at the end of October, grilling tuna. I know that there is far more diversity in what is 'barbecued' now, on both sides of the Atlantic, but when I was invited, or did the inviting myself, to a 'barbecue', it normally meant burgers and sausages. Perhaps some chicken. It was always a 'specific' occasion. Never in my wildest dreams would I have served up, with barbecue or otherwise, my own black bean casserole concoction. Twelve years on, and I am still smiling at the difference! Much as there is a 'new wave' of cooking and ingredients, I do believe, if still in England, I would have probably stuck to the traditional, on a daily basis, perhaps venturing 'out of the box' for special events. However, I digress.
Wednesday was quite exceptional! Joe was in Honduras for a coffee convention, and whilst I would have loved to have joined him for my morning cup of caffeine, I would have had to rise a lot earlier than five thirty! Dana, having arrived home at ten, eaten dinner, and then worked at home for another two hours, left the house very early. A week of 'trick or treats' it was going to be! Disaster struck when my 'creme fraiche' failed to 'fraiche' and remained liquid. My dessert for our Wednesday night gathering would have to be rethought. I set to work on getting my "Mrs Sainsbury", prepared, and 'bolognaised' the mince, (or hamburger as it is known here,) and boiled the large pasta shells. Disaster number two hit when I ran out of milk! The large carton that was in my fridge was supposed to be supplemented with another but as I mentioned, I had not been shopping! Extra butter and water did the 'trick', and I spooned most of the part cooked ingredients into a large dish, and the rest into a smaller one for my daughter. I then "whipped up" some meringue cases, which I put in the oven.
I arrived at the office at seven thirty, much to Dana's surprise. I informed him that he did not have the monopoly on being 'snowed under' and 'overwhelmed', with work, and I was going to try and get 'thawed out' before going to have my nails worked upon! Samantha was already behind her desk, working furiously, when I arrived, despite most of her backlog having been accomplished by me the previous evening. Driving across town at eight thirty was an arduous task, as the traffic was very heavy. However, I arrived at nine, on the dot, and sat patiently while my technician 'techniqued', and I came away with nail that matched my outfit. I assured her that I would not wear the same dress for two weeks, and that I intended to play my part in the 'Keep Austin Weird' campaign, by wearing clothes that did not match my nails in any shape or form. It would not be difficult to find something that was not fluorescent pink, black and white!
The drive to the radio station was not particularly taxing. I took the lift to the third floor and was greeted by the three people at the reception desk. "I have come to collect my prize", I said. The young man asked me for my ID, and one of the girls shrieked, "I know who she is. I spoke to you on Friday, and was so excited coz you are British!" I have stopped saying, "English...I am English", as it does not really make a difference to those whom I tell. I smiled, and despite the excitement, and assurance of remembrance, the young lady could not actually recall my name, only my voice. The prize was a certificate for $100 worth of take out from restaurants promoted by a certain Internet based company. Although not personally a member of this company's 'prime' division, Sandra (Samantha's neighbour) is, and I offered her the prize, with the suggestion that she share it with her friend. She was quite happy to do so! A treat indeed! I smiled as I sped back to the office, as winning has become a delightful occupational hazard, and although I do dedicate time, religiously, to entering the contests, I have been rewarded quite handsomely.
Dana assured me that he would be home in time for dinner, and to greet our guests, on Wednesday. We were unsure as to the number we were expecting which had dwindled from six to a possible four, to probably three. As it is very informal, I normally have no problem with cancellations....normally! However, because I had averted two disasters and made good with alternative ingredients and recipes, I was a little upset when an emergency caused the last person to cancel. Dana let me know that he would come home for dinner, and then have to go back to the office. I took my 'trash' to the 'dumpster', and looked around for any sign of life. With six individual pavlovas sitting in my kitchen, I was going to offer dessert to any neighbour that appeared on the horizon! None did! When Dana arrived home, dog in tow, (as Samantha had to leave the office at four to collect her father from the airport,) we ate Mrs Sainsbury, a spinach, strawberry and almond salad (oh yes, I am diversifying more than usual) and each of us had a glass of strawberry water. (Is there no stopping this girl!) Edward arrived a little after seven to collect Frank, and said he had been commissioned to picking up dinner on the way home. He was looking forward to Thursday, when from then until Monday, they had their house to themselves. Although he had enjoyed the visit from their English friends, it would be nice to have a bit of alone time, just the three of them (dog included in the trio), I told him that I had made dinner for them for Thursday and although he was graciously thankful, he asked what it was. Dana responded, "It's Mrs. Sainsbury!" Edward smiled, in the way only Edward smiles, and thanked me once again.
Dana and I returned to the office Wednesday evening, and although I had promised that if I accompanied him, I would just sit and crochet, I broke the oath and said that I wanted to clear at least some of my backlog. As I had left early to make sure everything was ready for dinner time, (although there as little reason to do so, as emergencies appeared to be abound on Wednesday) there was a lot of work still on my desk. Much as I am very grateful, and blessed, for the copious amounts, the abundance of work we received this week was so enormous. Hence our having to commit to 'overtime'.
Samantha arrived early Thursday morning. She told me that Edward had come home on Wednesday, and whispered to her, "Your mother has made us a Mrs. Sainsbury for dinner". She told him that she was aware of the fact, and asked if he had an aversion to the dish, which she saw as rather a 'treat'. He apparently whispered, "I don't know. What is a Mrs. Sainsbury?" When my daughter explained that it was a pasta dish of which we did not know the actual name, only the supermarket from where it was purchased, he seemed perplexed as to how, if it was from an English store, did Dana know what it was!
Thursday and Friday were also very busy, and my Saturday morning chores were a refreshing change! Dana had gone into work exceptionally early, again, and I had taken advantage of the exceptionally early start, by cleaning all my windows. I have no idea where I got the extra energy, but it was a job well done, and by the time Samantha came to collect me for our regular outing, I was quite exhausted. The extensive work week, together with the lack of sleep on Friday night (the reason for which I am quite unaware) had caused me to be a little 'punchy', and I was ready to sleep rather than shop. We drove to Sam's Club, and as we were wandering the aisles, a lady wearing a white overall, and hat, approached us. "We are doing sampling over here. Come, come. Quick, quick!" Wondering if this was a 'trick' and she was taking us to some 'fun' thing that the store had thought up for the occasion, we obeyed and like lambs to the slaughter, we followed her to a stand that was in the middle of the frozen section. We waited for her to start her 'schpeil', and waited, and waited. "What are these for?" she asked. I was not sure if she was talking to us, or to the other woman who was by the stand. "Why have I go these?" she said again. "Shall we come back?" I asked, thinking that perhaps she had gathered her audience a little too early. "No. It's ready. We are ready to start....What are these for?" After a short lesson from her instructor, during which Samantha and I stood patiently, the woman was ready to promote her wares. In my state of tiredness, I found it very hard not to giggle. Apparently, we were to be treated to a beef taco casserole, the recipe for which was available, if I wanted to take a photo. I did. As the exhibitor put a spoonful of mush in a pot, with a couple of 'scoop' tortilla chips, I looked at the recipe. It not only gave the ingredients, but also the things the exhibitor needed to exhibit, together with a list of things 'not to be sampled orally', such as plates, spoons, aluminum foil, plastic cups and gas! Oh my! Was this Halloween or April Fools Day? It tasted rather good when we were eventually allowed to taste it! All the time we were standing listening to the instructor instructing, I was mouthing to Samantha, "blog worthy?"
Air force cadets had welcomed us at the door, and were also helping people out with their shopping. "Is that their Halloween costume", Samantha asked, as one of the cadets tried to help a customer that did not want help. I started to giggle again, only this time it was not silent!
We headed to Walmart, where the costumes were rather more obvious! Arachnid central would have been a more appropriate name for the supermarket on Saturday. Creepy-crawlies were everywhere, and parents were dressed to compliment their children, in outfits that are usually only seen at parades. I love Austin!
Much as I am appreciative for the abundance of work, I do hope for a little bit of a treat next week, at least after Monday, where I can arrive home at a reasonable time, and enjoy some time with my husband! It is possible that the race to get everything done before 'The Holidays', (which appear to incorporate Thanksgiving and Christmas as one long period,) has started early, and we shall see a slow down over the next couple of weeks. I am just looking forward to seeing trees and baubles as opposed to insects, mites and beasties! Perhaps next week in .............. another story!