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Sunday, January 29, 2017


After what appeared to be a rather 'turbulent' weekend, throughout the country, work on Monday was not disrupted.  The 'marchers' had presumably returned to their homes, and 'normal service' was resumed.  Apart from comments, cartoons, and news links, from both sides, on my facebook page, my little piece of Austin (not the greater region it would seem,) appeared to be oblivious to any demonstrations.  Demonstrations were not, however, at an end, but in my 'neck of the woods', insular as it may be, it was business as usual, and I was quite happy to be surrounded by 'ostriches' for the time being!  My neighbours, for the most part, are happy to agree to disagree.

Living in 'mainland' Texas, particularly Austin, (outside of my insular neighbourhood,) means that there are no 'secrets' when it comes to politics.  There seems to be no room for manoeuvre and you are either left, or right.  Opinions are either considered fact, or fiction.  They are not considered to be a personal choice.  Being English lets me 'off', and I can remain silent.  I am asked about 'the weather', and whether or not everyone cooks like the contestants on the Great British Bake Off.  Despite my very strong political convictions and opinions (yes opinions) I am quite grateful that I am not expected to take part in what have become quite gruesome arguments.  'Discusions' or 'debates' appear to have been replaced with highly volatile 'slanging' matches!  

My daughter and I often discuss various aspects of our respective friends' opinions (yes opinions) and neither of us wish to get into arguments that cannot be resolved.  We smile at both sides, and have become 'Switzerland'.  

It was rather quiet on the work front at the beginning of the week, and we wondered whether this was the aftermath of the storm, or the calm before the very same, as the Texas Legislator is in session and new laws will be proposed and enacted during this time. I have, as is the norm, been scrutinizing the pages of the 'Legislator Online' to make sure that nothing has been filed that will affect our business, either negatively or positively.  It is that time again, when this 'Switzerland', voices an opinion (yes opinion) from behind the safety net of a telephone or email.  

Our walk on Monday took us to the post office.  I had some 'overweight' packages that needed to be taken to the counter, and it seemed a good idea to kill two birds with one stone, as the post office is en route.  The price of a first class package has gone up, which means that there was an increase across the board.  My 'if it fits, it ships', packets were now twenty cents more expensive, and I had spent the best part of an hour updating the 'price sheet' that I keep next to my desk.  The Internet in our office had become a little intermittent, and accessing the post office website had been rather a difficult task.  It was a race to see if my computer would be quick enough to get the information before the next signal drop! However, my patience paid off and I did, eventually, manage to get all the new prices.  As I stood in line, a customer was querying the price of 'Priority mail'.  Unsure, the clerk was fumbling through some papers he had been given, which presumably showed the new pricing.  I stood in line, mouthing, $6.65, as the clerk continued to look.  "$6.65", I said under my breath, a the clerk was becoming increasingly frustrated.  "$6.65", I said a little louder, as the lady decided she would reconsider whether she wanted to send the package today, or tomorrow.  The "Next Person in line", was me. "$6.65", I shouted across the counter, as I laid my heavy envelope on the scale, and looked a little sheepishly at the clerk.  Switzerland was obviously on vacation!  "Hey, I didn't see you there.  I would have asked you. You are always on the ball!"  How I love Austin! There was no resentment, no prideful remark, no repercussion to my outburst, just an appreciation for my knowledge.  It was quite refreshing!

The work slowed down even more towards the middle of the week, and I was quite pleased that Wednesday was our slowest day.  It gave me a chance to go to Joe for coffee, and return home early at the end of the day, as my kitchen was quite the mess.  The 'bake off' particularly Paul Hollywood, had blown in and out of my kitchen with a vengeance.  Chocolate volcanoes were going to be my alternative to a souffle, which I have not dared chance, with the excuse being, "They don't have the same type of ingredients on this side of the pond!  I had made the pasta dish to which we refer to as 'Mrs. Sainsbury's' and as there was an abundance of the mixture, I made a small sample for my daughter, so that she would not have to worry about cooking that evening.  

"What happened to Switzerland?" I asked her on Thursday morning, after she had expressed the opinion (yes opinion) that my 'Mrs Sainsbury's' was lacking flavour. My guest on Wednesday night, together with my husband, had savoured the dish and complemented me on its taste and texture.  I thanked them, and was enjoying it myself, thinking that it was a particularly good example. My daughter sent me a message saying, "It's tasteless".  My guest was quite bemused by the comment, having only sons, and therefore unaware of a daughter's critique.  "Perhaps she doesn't have many taste buds", he ventured to say, perhaps in a hope to make me feel better.  I laughed and explained that I was not offended.  It was my daughter, and therefore, par for the course!  I messaged back that my guest thought it was delicious, to which I received the reply, "Perhaps he doesn't have many taste buds".   The chocolate volcanoes were not shared with my offspring, although my guest was visibly moved by the taste and texture, and savoured every mouthful as if it were ambrosia!  

Dana had a meeting on Thursday at the Capitol Building, and I was, once again, in charge.   Although some of our clients do not think I am completely fit to answer questions regarding certain aspects relating to the function and rules of our industry, they are confident when I do so from the chair of the 'Guru'!  The fact that I am replying from the desk of the boss, with his permission to open and answer emails, gives them a slightly different opinion as to my ability.  Of course, should the same person have to make a telephone call, later in the day, to ask about something else, I become the lowly receptionist and my status goes back to "Switzerland", where not only am I neutral, but my opinion (yes they think it is an opinion) is neutral.  

Work had started to increase, and the emails started to pour in, with new papers, and a lot of questions.  Dana returned shortly before midday and I was 'all business'.  I found that "Switzerland" had taken a hike and I was now very much more forceful.  He had a lot of work to do, and his playing 'fetch' with the dog was not an option. I had to get back to my desk and deal with my emails, and there were a few thing that we needed to discuss, before I could leave my post as 'boss'.  The quite emphatic "Yes ma'am!" did break me out of my commander role.

Our walk was rather brisk, as the temperature was a little on the chilly side.  Everyone was rather amiable, and we smiled, and answered, "Good", as most everyone we encountered asked, "How ya doin?"  People appeared to be carrying on with their daily tasks, and living life as usual.  

It was quite the relief when Friday finally rolled around, as it seemed to be a very long week.  

Samantha and I had a relatively early start on Saturday, as she was going to to the airport in the afternoon, to collect her friends, Hannah and Shawn.  They had been to England to visit Shawn's parents, and were due to land earlier than scheduled.  We headed over to the north side of town and wandered around a department store, that she had wished to visit.  Everyone appeared to be very happy!  Everyone appeared to be Switzerland!  "How is your day going?", we were asked, and replied that it was going well!  We arrived back at my house at 1:30 and Samantha went on her way.

The rest of the weekend was also very Switzerland, although perhaps more enjoyable than neutral.  Dana and I enjoyed a nice meal on Saturday evening, and were joined by Chara, Dana's daughter for lunch on Sunday.  

It does look like the turbulence is going to continue through to next week, as news, social media, and other outlets all have their own opinions (perhaps a few facts well hidden inside many opinions - I say, without prejudice!) I am going to be going through my own storm as I have the 'decorators' coming.  In fact, (and yes, it is fact,) Dana's sister and her husband are visiting for a week, and are going to be modernising my bathrooms!  I have promised that I will remain 'Switzerland' throughout the process, as there will be rubble!  However, although Mr Barnum said that you cannot please all the people all the time, I am quite sure that all the occupants of my household will be pleased with the outcome! I look forward to the end of the work, which will no doubt come before the end of the other tempest which seems to pick up speed at every turn!  Will I remain Switzerland?  All will be revealed in ..... another story!

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