About an hour after I got to the office the other day a city utility worker came in to tell us there was a water main break nearby and that they were shutting off the water. He said we would likely be without water for the rest of the day. That reminded me about the drought in the summer of 2009 when pipes were breaking all over the city because of the dry contracting soil. I find it strange that people weren't allowed to water their yards and because they didn't, their pipes broke and flooded everything.
I'm sitting on the beautiful front porch of the Littlefield office because we are locked out of the building. In addition to being without water, the electricity went off at about 2:30. For unknown reasons, 4000 people were without power. Jeff said "Four more degrees and everybody gets to go home". We waited around for an hour or so as the temperature crept up. Finally we all gave up and checked out at around 3:30. No lights, no phones, no computers, no water, and no AIR CONDITIONING = no work! No electricity also means no alarm system, so the accountants manually locked the doors. They are the only ones with keys, and they aren't here, so here I sit.
I arrived at the office at my usual 7:30 and when I realized that it could be awhile until we could get in, I ran up to Taco Shack for coffee and breakfast tacos. As usual there was a line of cars fifteen deep wrapped around the building making their way through the drive thru. I decided to park and eat in. There weren't many people eating inside but there were several that obviously use this place as their morning office. They spread out their work and pull out their lapto and their smart phone, eat a nice breakfast taco or some migas and refill their coffee cups over and over. I like the idea of working like that. Casual and relaxed and I bet, pretty productive. Nobody distracts them. They are in their own little world, removed from it all and yet in the midst of a cool Austin vibe.
As I sat on the porch of Littlefield, the six 3' by 5' American flags displayed on the columns and the giant 9' by 18' one hanging vertically down the middle blew softly in the light breeze. It was amazingly pleasant out there. The rain the other day washed the dust off of the trees and I had the illusion that things are lush and green. I could see water flowing in Shoal Creek that I could not see before the storm. The huge expanse of St. Augustine on the front lawn and the enormous landmark oaks were no doubt, grateful for the rainfall. Since we are in extreme drought conditions, there has been talk of the possibility for no measurable rainfall here until September.
I must have scared off the squirrels or at least confused them by sitting out here. Normally as I sit in my office looking out the french doors onto the porch, the squirrels scurry back and forth in little packs. Seriously, one day a line of six little guys ran across the porch and did that little circling thing they do around and around up into the oak trees.
I like to open the door in my office and let in some fresh air early in the morning. I keep thinking a squirrel might come inside. I did not expect a big ol' grackle to fly in though. That was pretty funny except for the part when it crapped on the wood floor then landed on the back of my chair. I was glad that Jeff was in South Carolina and that I had closed the door to his office. After the grackle flew back out the open door, I began to wonder what I would have done if he hadn't! I can picture everyone in the office trying to shoo the bird out while looking at me and shaking their heads.
For the past few days I've been thinking about the Independence Day cookout that we're going to have at the office. Kimble wheeled the big gas grill out to the front porch under the flags to be the chef for the day. He had suggested that I order everything that we'll need since there is is so little prep space in the little kitchen. It never really occurred to me that I could order everything from Central Market and pick it up or have it delivered. That is awesome! I ordered market hamburer patties, gourmet hot dogs, a tray of lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles. We had a cheese tray for the burgers, shredded cheese and chopped onions for the hot dogs and fresh bakery buns for all. Of course we had potato salad, coleslaw, beans, pineapple upside down cake and cherry and apple pie with ice cream.
Jeff got to the office just in time for lunch and, coincidently, just as the postman was delivering the mail. Jeff insisted that he join us for lunch and kept calling him "post office man". Wonder how many time in his career has Steve the postman been invited to an office cookout.
Jeff is always the life of the party and can talk about any subject. He had us all in stitches talking about guarding America's cheese stockpile when he was in the army and how a lot of the world's problems could be fought with cheese. "Bomb them with cheese!" More stories I'll capture in another installment of this blog will be Jeff's "Karma and The Fish Pen" and Kimble's story about "The Lady Boys" of Bonham, Texas (he corrected me...they were the "Lehde Brothers") a family of butchers with a perpetual and ongoing backyard barbecue with an open door policy.
Jeff handed me a list the other day detailing what he wanted me working on. It contained about fourteen items, some ongoing, some new ones. The last item on the list said "Play Bingo X 5".