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Sunday, May 14, 2017


My daughter informed me that she would not be around for the weekend, and that this year was not my year, should I wish to spend either one of the two mother's days with her!  Normally, we have a celebration, of sorts, for the English day, (what we still describe as proper, although if I am gracious, I would use the word 'original',) and spend the other one together, usually eating at the Mexican restaurant, where they hand out t-shirts, all of which are still in pristine condition in my wardrobe!  We have long given up the pretense of surprise, so I knew that she would not appear at the restaurant.

It was a strange experience breaking with a tradition, despite it being a relatively new tradition.  There was a vague sense of loss, but it was not as bad as I had expected.  Assimilating into my new life has taken a turn towards permanent.  Although I have never considered this move to be anything but permanent, there are times when I still feel rather alien, and traditions that have been forged since arriving in Texas have been of great strength.  When I did not experience an horrendous, overwhelming, feeling of anguish, (as is my custom when there is an alternative to the 'norm',) I felt as if I had loosened yet another string, and would one day 'drop anchor' totally!  

We walked this week, rather than swam, as the meteorological conditions were stormy.  The rain did not start falling on Monday until we were about a hundred yards from the office, but it was enough to make us very wet.  The storm did not last for too long, and it did little to quell the high humidity that had become somewhat of a burden.  There were some short, sharp cloudbursts throughout the day, but they, too, made no difference.  Our delight at seeing rain, on a day approaching summer, once again loosened the ties and I felt the anchor brush the ocean bed, albeit gently. Every so often I become more aware of my assimilation, and this week was one of those 'every so often' times.  

I made pastry cases on Tuesday, with the idea of filling them on Wednesday, with a new concoction.  When I left England, I was still weighing in pounds and ounces, and most of my recipes were in the Imperial measurements.  Fortunately, when not using 'cups', most USA recipes, and packages, have not transferred to metric, and my ingredients can be bought without having to calculate how many grams make up six ounces!  I was using a very old recipe for lemon meringue pie, but instead of using the citrus base, I was swapping it out for coffee.  I had an idea, and I was going to experiment!  I reveled in the fact, as I have probably mentioned on more than one occasion, that my new life here has afforded me the opportunity to be able to do so.  I was further inspired by my friend Gail.  I had mentioned to her that it was easy to serve up a dessert that was 'not quite' right, as no one knew how it really should taste. Gail said that she never had any problem serving up anything, traditional or otherwise, that was 'not quite' right, as it was her variation and, therefore, not for anyone to say how it really should taste.  Such inspiration led me to the coffee flavoured pudding!

Gail was not at the shop on Wednesday, but Joe and Logan, tasted the desserts and were quite complimentary.  Logan suggested that perhaps I add a tad of chocolate, to take away the slight bitterness of the coffee, and I concurred.  I had considered that.  However, I had also added a little more coffee than I had anticipated, as when I tasted the mixture, the flavour was a little too subtle, and I had over zealously poured, rather than spooned, in the granules!  Another employee arrived, and asked what we were doing.  "She wants to know what is wrong with these", said Joe, altering my original quote, "I am open to critique!"  The response, after swallowing the treat, was equally as complimentary as that which I had received previously.  "What's wrong with them?  I don't think anything is wrong with them.  They are good!".  I was quite chuffed!  I mentioned about putting a meringue atop each one, and the suggestion of adding chocolate to the egg whites was given.  I was ready for 'round two'!

I noticed that one of my back tyres was rather low when I left the shop.  Three out of four tyres are 'run flats', and apparently can 'run flat' for about fifty miles.  However, the last time I put air into the back tyre, the pressure was a single figure, hovering towards the zero end of the scale!  As I do not use my car very often, I thought that I would put some air in, and then see what happened.  The tyre light on my dashboard had illuminated a couple of times, but upon pressing the button by my handbrake, (which apparently re inflates for emergencies, or something - perhaps I should re-read the handbook!) the light had gone out!  I wondered if, perhaps, the mechanism which controls the light, has realised I am not going to do anything about it, and just goes out at will!  Am I giving a machine too much credit?

Work was continuing to flood in throughout the week and I was rather glad I had taken my car in with me on Wednesday and Thursday.  I did not leave the office until after seven on the latter, but Dana arrived home almost an hour later!  The chocolate meringue atop the coffee cups was a tremendous hit!  Pastries are not a regular dessert here, unless visiting a specialised cafe or restaurant, and I have become somewhat of a specialist in the eyes of those whom consume my wares!

Friday arrived, and Samantha had taken off, leaving us with the dog.  I had to make a trip to the post office at lunchtime, and walked alone.  "Where is a picture of that beautiful baby", came the voice from behind the counter, before the door had closed behind me.  All heads turned, and I smiled.  This is the part of my life that I enjoy, and that makes me feel as if that anchor will settle one day.  I took out my phone, and displayed pictures of my two gorgeous grandsons, and was proud to show off my two beautiful boys! After exchanging some more pleasantries, I left the facility, with a big smile on my face, and sending joyous felicitations to all!  I arrived back at the office feeling as if I had come through another heavy shower, although there was not a cloud in the sky!

The storm that took place on Friday afternoon did clear the humidity, and although the temperature did not drop, the atmosphere was far more pleasant.  I went home to prepare dinner, and Dana was not too far behind!  I did make a detour to the garage and put air into the flat looking tyre.  The pressure read '3', and that is when I took myself to one side and gave me a good talking to!  I would never have allowed this to happen in England.  I would not have relied upon anyone but myself to get this done.  Since moving here, I have relied upon Dana to 'get things done', as in the beginning, I lacked so much confidence.  However, with the anchor being in such close proximity to the ocean bed, I knew it was time to break another of those ties!

I decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns on Saturday morning, and take my car into the tyre place.  The last time I had needed to have my tyre replaced, I went to Discount Tires along the highway, and they were very pleasant and helpful.  I knew the name of the road but not the number, and I had the choice of two. Although I had planned to call, I saw that I could actually book an appointment online.  It was all very simple.  I checked my car in, and ticked the boxes as to what service I required, then clicked 'confirm'. Within seconds I received an email to say that my appointment was confirmed.  It was all very simple.  However, when I checked the map, I had chosen the centre on the south side of the highway as opposed to the north.  This would not be a problem if I could leave the house within the next ten minutes.

Driving along, I realised that it would have been a far wiser decision to have made the appointment earlier and had the tyre changed before going shopping, for more than one reason.  If I had a new tyre put on the car, it would be safer to drive, and I would not risk having to change it in the supermarket car park, because it was flat.  Another reason would be that it was quite warm, and I needed to buy frozen items, eggs and butter!  

Feeling confident, and putting doubts behind me, I drove to Walmart.  I arrived a little before eleven.  I had an hour and a half until my appointment.  I raced around the aisles but was slowed down at the check out.  Amazingly, no one in the queue that I chose had problem items.  I loaded my items into the insulated shopping bags, put them into the boot, and checked the tyre.  It still looked as if it was inflated.  I drove around the back of the complex and looped around to get onto the other side of the highway, and sped back. 

As I reached my exit, I had to once again 'loop around' to get over to the other side of the highway.  I still have to concentrate when on the highway, and remember that there are very few 'left turns'. Rather than cross the traffic, at a junction, most of our 'left turns' (or going against the flow of the traffic, dependent upon which side of the road one drives) are under or over the highway, in the form of a traffic light stop, or a loop around.  I have to remember to be on the near side of the road if I want to get to the other side. Looping was going to be the order of the day!  

Costco was not particularly busy, and I raced around the aisles, stopping to sample wares along the way, and put the items I purchased into the insulated bags in the boot.  The tyre was still inflated.  

I looped under the highway, again, and with plenty of time to spare, drove south on the highway.  I was not quite sure where to exit, and passed several ramps before finally coming off at what I considered to be a good choice.  It was. I looped under the highway again, and once on the frontage road, saw the sign for which I had been looking.  I drove into a very busy garage, and parked my car. 

"Can I help you?" asked the young man behind the counter.  I explained that I had made an appointment, but I was early.  He brought up my details on the screen, and we then walked to my car, where he inspected all the tyres.  Such was my confidence in this particular establishment, that I asked him what he thought needed to be done.  We walked back inside the centre, and he showed me the level of tread on my tyres, on a picture scale.  As I do not use my car very often, he did not recommend changing any of them, except the back one, which was going to 'run completely flat' in the near future.  It was also quite worn on the inside.  I was then shown a comparison in prices between tyres, cheap and not so cheap, the quality which I had in place at the moment, and the run-flats which were now comparable to the ordinary.  I chose the run-flat, as it was just two dollars more expensive.  The young man was actually the first to inform me that if I had a spare tyre, there was no real need for a run-flat.  Of course, I knew the real reason why I considered there was an argument to that case!

Image may contain: 2 people, hat"How long have you lived here?" he asked, curiously.  When I said I was in my thirteenth year, he commented on how I had kept my accent.  I told him that it was important to me to keep it, and he said that he had made sure to lose his.  "Spain" was the answer to my question as to his birthplace.  I was just about to say that my family originated from there, when his colleagues all jumped in and said, "Oh no he is not!"  Apparently, he was born in Mexico but found it rather romantic to have ties with the motherland!  Having celebrated their Independence Day last week, 'Cinco de Mayo', I was rather amused at his wish for cultural inclusion!  All three young men agreed that the English accent was worth keeping.  I thanked them, profusely, and paid for the tyre.  "Like your hat", said a fourth member of the team.  "Why thank you", I responded. "Wow, and the accent!"  I accepted the flattery for what it was, and although very thankful and gracious, did not feel the anchor drop more firmly!  

With a new tyre, and having taken on a minor challenge (one small step for man, etc,) I went home.  I was wondering if the butter, milk and eggs had made themselves into pancakes whilst being left in the boot for the duration of the tyre change, but they were as cold as when I bought them, or thereabouts.  I swam and read my book. Dana and I went out for dinner, and we had a pleasant evening eating ice cream and watching television.  

Image may contain: 2 people, flower
Keeping up the tradition, Dana and I went to the Mexican restaurant for lunch.  Samantha, not surprisingly, was not there, but I did receive my tenth t-shirt to add to the nine that are in the cupboard.  All except the first one are dated with the year. Presumably the first one was not expected to have been such a hit, and worth repeating!  

I would like to send out Mother's Day wishes to all the mums that are in countries that are celebrating, and a special thought for those that are parted from their kids for any reason.  Life goes on, despite all our efforts to keep it from doing so, or at least from changing in directions we feel we cannot cope, or survive.  Although it is very hard living across the ocean from my son, and the rest of my family, I do know that I am blessed to have had my life changed in a good way, always leading to .....another story!

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