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Sunday, November 13, 2016


Turbulent was perhaps the word of the week. For some, the unexpected happened, for others, the inevitable.  Theories were now fact or fiction, and predictions were finally proved to be right or wrong. However, as I said last week, I will not be covering the aspects of the historic events, just the things that happened to me during the week of historic events, with a few personal quips to boot!

Monday was quite busy.  Samantha bid farewell to her father, who was travelling back to London on the 'red eye'.  It was a busy day, and once again, Dana and I did not leave the office until well after the official close of business.  There was something almost eerie about the atmosphere in Austin.  Like this post, people were avoiding talk of what was taking place the following day.  We had dinner at the diner, and then came home.  We watched some recorded shows, to avoid the various news channels, and political commercials, of which there were far fewer than I had expected, and fell asleep to what I refer to as a 'what if' programme, where scientists predict what will 'probably' happen, if everything happened the way things 'probably' happened, based on their 'probable' theories.  Forgive me if I sound unconvinced, but I 'probably' am!

Tuesday was a day of saying less than Monday.  "How are you?" was followed by, "I'll tell you tomorrow", but giving no indication as to which way their mood would swing, depending upon the results, and the one delivering the question did not dare delve deeper.   Tolerance was at its lowest level, and social media had seen many friendships strained, if not ended.  Up until now, Austin had been vibrant, and although the overwhelming political leaning is 'live and let live', everyone has been respectful (or too high to care) of other's opinions.  I hoped the change in atmosphere would not last for long, as I have enjoyed calling this city, with its wild diversity, home!

The rain that we had been promised was certainly coming down in large quantities.  Samantha had decided that she wanted to make a spectacular dinner for her 'craft evening' girls, and had a shopping list that was longer than the faces on the people in the supermarket! It was a far cry from the previous week, when most of the staff were dressed up in wonderful costumes, and didn't seem to have a care in the world.  We filled a trolley with her needs, and then packed what we could into the backpack that was not going to be put back on my shoulders!  Heading back to the office, the rain fell and the tension could be felt as the day neared its end.

I had prepared dinner for Tuesday night, which we ate on our laps, whilst watching a movie.  Dana had promised me that I would not have to endure an evening of newscasters debating on the 'probable' outcome, with 'predictions' that were probably less accurate than the scientists theories on the "what if" programmes!  After the film, we watched something that he had recorded the previous day.  At a little after eleven, we relented and decided to see if there was any 'real' news.  Everything was still a 'theory'.

Waiting up for the 'concession', and ensuing 'acceptance' speech was probably not the best idea, as they did not happen until a little after two in the morning.  When my alarm crashed through my sound slumbers at five thirty, I was surprisingly unperturbed.  I had a busy day ahead of me, starting with dinner preparations.  Naively, I had expected there to be an acceptance of events.  I expected some to be disappointed, and some delighted and within the parameters of those adjectives, there would be a level of emotion.  I was not prepared for the news reports as I headed into the office. It left me feeling rather sad.  I worked as furiously as I could to clear my desk by the time I had to leave to have my nails painted.   There was not a lot of traffic on the road, and I arrived in good time.  I made a detour to the radio station on the way back, to pick up tickets for a concert which will not take place until February, and arrived back in the office shortly before ten thirty.  It had been very quiet.  The phones were not ringing and there were very few papers to be entered into the system.  

I had to make a trip to the post office at lunchtime.  The glum faces behind the counter spelled out that their preferences had not been obtained,  and talks of emigrating could be heard.  I asked the lady behind the desk where she would consider going, if she had the chance.  "I would go to England", she said.  "They don't have all this political stuff!"  I bit my lip,   I noticed, however, when leaving the building, that those carrying the mail, appeared to be in good cheer.  My overwhelming joy for that moment, had been that there was no queue and I had managed to complete my transaction in record time!  

By Friday, nothing had settled down.  Perhaps another good word for the week would be, 'inverted'.  I will never forget, when asked, "How do you spell upsidedown", my teacher (when I was eight years old) Mr. Smith, replied, "i-n-v-e-r-t-e-d".  The class laughed, but it was one of those words that stuck, and was used constantly to replace the one that had been asked for.  Mr. Smith came to mind more than once this week!

The courthouse was closed on Veterans' Day, so the office was officially not open for business on Friday.  Due to the excessive workload, we had decided not to take advantage of a three day weekend, and Dana planned to catch up on his workload.  We both left the house at seven and headed for a small cafe that is about two minutes drive from our condo.  Everyone appeared to be in good spirits, and although the chatter was loud, it was not aggressive. It was rather busy, but we found a table in the corner where we enjoyed an early morning cup of coffee, and a blueberry scone!  An unusual but delightful start to the day!  I returned home, and Dana headed towards the office.  Samantha called me as I was about to leave home, again, and head in her direction, and I asked her how long, theoretically, it would take her to 'whip' me up a crocheted poppy!  As my grandfather came back from fighting in Europe during WWI, and was not one of the many that failed to return, buried under the poppies that appeared the following spring, on that field in Flanders, I felt it would be fitting to continue wearing one to remember those whom did not.  Samantha indicated that she could 'probably' manage to get one done, but was not sure how long it would take.  However, theory, and probability were all put to one side, as the 'actual' was made, and worn all day!

Ikea was very busy.  The attitude of everyone in the store appeared to be the same as it always is in the store.  We mused, and wandered, and finally left.  We visited a couple more stores, and the people appeared to be oblivious to anything other than their shopping.  Once again, I thought, naively, that perhaps the solemness of the day had put things into perspective, and the 'theories' and 'predictions' were finally being laid to rest.  

Dana did not arrive home until nearly seven on Friday evening.  As most of the population of our city and the surrounds had appeared to have gone awol on Wednesday, they had made up for it on the day that was supposed to be a holiday.  He said that he was so inundated with work, that he did not have time to get caught up with anything!  

Samantha headed to San Antonio on Saturday morning, with her friend, Hannah, as they were to attend a 'baby shower', for the friend that had introduced them.  I headed out to do my shopping. It was a bright, sunny day, and I was full of the joys of whatever season we are currently in!  I finally arrived at Walmart, where an old veteran was being thanked by all who came and left the superstore.  I felt a tinge of sadness as I, too, thanked him for his service, as he had offered his life for the freedom of those who were now rioting because their choice was not that of the majority, and were failing to see the irony!  The gentleman in question was an 'African-American' and people were lining up not because of that fact, but because he had fought for their liberty.  

I continued to shop, poppy upon my lapel, and fought the temptation to impulse buy.  Three times I past a lady at a stand promoting tea, and wondered what time she was to begin her demonstration.  I had already been out for longer than anticipated, and was, as we English say, 'gasping for a cuppa!'  She smiled at me as I rounded the corner, and beckoned me over to the stand. "Would you like to try?" she offered.  I nodded in the affirmative. "I can't get it to get hot", she almost whimpered.  Surrounding her stand were many large bottles of water, packs of tea, and sitting atop was a coffee machine, with a pot on the hotplate, with six tea bags swimming aimlessly. "Do you know how this thing works?" she pleaded.  She explained to me that she had never used a coffee machine before, as he did not drink coffee, nor for that matter did she drink tea.  However, the person that was meant to set up the stand had not come to work.  Therefore, she had been left alone with instructions to turn on the machine, and put the pot on the stand.  I explained that the water was not going to get hot, in the pot, standing on the hotplate.  She had to pour the water into the top chamber, and then place the pot back on the hotplate, so that the boiling liquid could flow through.  She followed my instructions, and as the machine had been 'on' for an hour, when she poured the water into the correct container, waves of steam surged upward towards the ceiling.  "There", I said.  "It's heating the water now!" Lesson one completed, I went on to lesson two.  She could put the tea bags into the chamber designated for the coffee, and did not need a filter as the tea was in its own bag.  She then put a dozen tea bags into the container, filled the water chamber to full, and watched as the boiling water flowed into the pot. In theory, she had 'done good'.  However, the 'probability' was that as she had refilled the chamber to the brim with water, the pot would, when all the water was boiled and transferred, overflow on to the stand.  I suggested she pour out a couple of cups to avoid a disaster! Reluctantly, she removed the pot, despite my assurance that the water would stop flowing once she had done so, and was rather pleased that my suggestion was not just theoretical, but factual! The tea was far too strong, but it was hot, and she now knew how to work the machine.  She thanked me profusely, indicating that she had been sitting for an hour waiting for something to happen!  I told her that it was a pleasure to be of assistance, and she had in fact done me the favour, by quenching my passion for a 'cuppa'. Perhaps our 'collaboration' could be used as an example! 

I finally landed home a little before three, in time to witness the Texas Longhorns lose their game to West Virginia, and hoped this would not send the already disgruntled students into an additional frenzy! 

Watching Queen Elizabeth II lay a wreath of poppies at The Cenotaph, in London this morning, (albeit several hours after the event,) I thought of my grandfather, and the old gentleman in Walmart, and wondered what (if my grandfather had been around) they thought of everything that had happened this week.  They both came back from their respective 'tour' of duties.  It is somewhat of a shame that we cannot ask those who did not return, to lecture the violent protesters.  The right to protest was bought (and paid for) by those who gave their lives.  I don't believe there is a right to destroy that which is not yours simply because you don't respect the opinion of another.  The latter is the reason for which those whom did not come back laid down their lives, and those whom returned were prepared to do the same.  No wonder the circle is called 'vicious'!  

I anticipate a lighter subject next week, although that too is theoretical.  I hope the probability is favourable.  The fact is that poppies will still grow in Flander's field, 'between the crosses row by row'.  Life will go on, whether it be 'as we know it', 'as we wish it', or 'as we would not prefer it', but it will go on.  I bid everyone a peaceful Remembrance Day, and remember, with gratitude, those who gave me freedom to write .............. another story!

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