Looking at the world with
TEXAS CO-OP MAGAZINE, December 2009
THE “NEW TEXANS” IN TOWN
“What’s that?” Silence startled me from my daydreams.
“I don’t know,” Fred whispered.
We were south of Kyle, TX on I-35 when our pickup engine abruptly stopped. We coasted down the nearby exit ramp, passed under the traffic light that turned green in the nick of time, and turned into the gas station driveway where we finally stopped.
Welcome to San Marcos, Texas.
Fred and I planned our move from Kansas to be closer to two of our three children and their families. They had discovered Texas almost ten years earlier. We had been visiting Central Texas towns, searching for that “hometown feeling,” and our older son from Buda contacted a realtor to meet with us that afternoon.
Now we sat quietly in the truck, speculating what had happened on the busy Interstate. A friendly face appeared at the window next to Fred, who looked frustrated about our vehicle.
“You folks need help?” the Constable asked, a welcoming smile spread across his weathered face.
Fred opened the door and stepped out. “Yes, we have some car problems. It stopped, dead on the highway. The exit was right beside us, the light was green, and the gas station right here. We were lucky we got off the road before we lost our momentum.”
“Sounds to me like you were meant to be here,” the man said with a slight chuckle. “Pop the hood. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s going on.”
I stretched my legs and listened to the conversation under the hood. Before long, Fred handed me the pickup keys. “We’ll be right back,” he said and climbed into the patrol car with the word Constable painted proudly across the door. They returned with a new battery that didn’t solve our problem, so the officer summoned a tow truck and our pickup was taken to an auto repair shop. When the Constable dropped us off at a car leasing agency to arrange our transportation, he handed me his business card and reminded us to call him if we needed any more help.
“Thanks for all you’ve done,” Fred said as the officer climbed into his car.
The Constable smiled. “Helping each other is what we’re about around here.” He tipped his big Texas hat. “Good luck finding a new home. I have a feeling we’re going to have some new Texans in town.”
And, that’s the way our move to Texas began. With each person we met, we became convinced that our car forced us off the road because we were destined to become “the new Texans” right here in San Marcos.
We drove our rental car around the courthouse square, then branched out into residential areas. We got lost and found several times – a good way to become familiar with any new community. Quite soon, south of town, we saw the house I had dreamed about – a Texas stone ranch – with a For Sale sign in the yard. We drove in circles through the winding streets of the neighborhood, and each time we thought we had found our way out, we were led past that Texas stone ranch house again. We couldn’t escape its charm.
I’m sure you know the end to our story. We rendezvoused with our realtor and arranged to visit the house. It had all the features we wished for, including a fenced yard for our dog, Sweet Jenny. We were drawn to that house like we ended up in the gas station with the Constable. This was where our new home was meant to be. We were going to be “the new Texans” in town.
Our realtor gave us lists of workman and retailers. When our furniture arrived she came with lunch and information about churches and places to eat favorite foods. A new bank account included more than banking information when the young man shared local history and the best places for our favorite Mexican food. Our new insurance agent shared more warm hospitality. “I grew up here and left like young people sometime do. But I came back, and I’m glad I did.” New Texas driver’s licenses and license plates resulted in information about buying plants, household items, and hardware. What fun it is to be “the new Texans” in town!
I connected with Pedernales Electric Coop, trash pickup, water, and the cable, Internet, and phone providers. Friendly people everywhere asked, “…have you been to…? …have you seen…? …have you eaten at…?” A young woman at our cell phone office said, “I came here for college, loved it, and never left. Actually, I couldn’t leave the river.” We had just arrived and already we understood her affection for the river.
Sunday we attended church and sat gingerly in the pew for fear it was someone else’s place. The couple in front of us turned with a warm greeting, and introduced us to others nearby. By the time we left for home my new “church friend” had invited me to her home for a women’s gathering. It’s exciting being “the new Texan” in town.
“Everyone seems so happy,” I told my daughter, who lives north of Houston.
“That’s Texas, Mom. That’s just Texas.
I‘ve survived many Midwest winters and never liked snow, so I always suspected Texans were happy because they aren’t cooped up in the house half the year. But we’ve discovered Texans are happy because Texas is a great place to live.
It’s great to be “the new Texans” in town. Howdy y’all!! (Did I say that right?) Thanks for making us feel at home.
* * * * * *
MATURE LIFESTYLES, Septemer 2007
MY BYTES ARE FULL
Here I sit, folding laundry and watching CNN news. My cell phone is tucked between my cheek and shoulder, while my daughter and I discuss the war and politics and battle plans. Long live multi-tasking!
“You’re repeating yourself, Mom,” she said impatiently. “You told me that.”
“I want you to hear it twice,” I snapped back and laughed. I sensed her frustration and heard my rambunctious grandsons in the background. She had neither time nor patience to listen to her mother’s ramblings.
“By the way,” she continued. “Plans for the playground at the pool are coming to a head. Good estimates came back from suppliers and we are ready to make a decision.”
You already told me that, I thought. No need to snap back that she is a victim of the same “memory disease” that plagues me – that plagues us all.
My mind is sharp, and at 40+, her mind is too. My memory serves me well. I can recall the smallest details, both long and short term. But, the facts are clear. My “bytes are full,” and my daughter’s are, too.
God created me for a life started in 1936. In 2007 it’s apparent that I lack sufficient RAM to store the “information glut” that surrounds me. So much information is loaded onto my software -- mind, body and spirit – that my operating system is painfully inadequate. Simply said, some days my hard drive threatens to crash.
I often contemplate how my mother managed with little information bombardment or need to multi-task. Her news came by radio, turned on after supper. When she answered the phone, zap, she was tethered to the wall by a cord. She missed opportunities I’ve had to dust the entire first floor, mop the kitchen floor, and start dinner while catching up with a friend by phone. If Mother missed a call? “They’ll call back,” she would say, and was untouched by a “missed call” screen message that obsesses us today.
Laundry was done in the cellar far from household activities. No chances to multi-task down there. With my laundry room near my kitchen, I produced clean clothes while I prepared dinner, helped with homework, and fed the dog.
Surviving multi-tasking is dependent on reliable information and technology. The Internet, bookstores and talk shows bombard me with the best ways to organize and clean my house, raise my children, relate to my husband and maintain friendships. Once I digest that material I get ideas on breathing and yoga for stress reduction.
I watch my adult children today as they balance marriage, children, careers, home management, traveling spouses, recreation, and friends with ease. I commend and then jokingly remind them that I would have been just as savvy when they were young. I just needed seven simple things: a cordless phone, email, voice mail, a garage door opener, a cell phone, a drive-through pharmacy and grocery.com. With those perks, I’d have harnessed the information glut before it harnessed me. Think of the time I save today when I whisper names into my cell phone and don’t have to remember numbers of my family, closest friends, doctors’ offices, or computer tech line.
My battered planner is filled with scribbling and highlighting. I draw a line on technology and keep track of activities and events in a planner. My husband and I once tried a shared Yahoo calendar, but when the calendar started sending me “Dear Terri” reminder emails I had an uneasy feeling akin to encountering E.T. in my flower garden.
I have deadlines to meet and ideas to which I am not yet committed. Friends need me – a phone call, a lunch, a prayer. My children and grandchildren create my longing to be somewhere else to attend school functions, baseball games, the zoo, the park, lose at old traditional board games, and rock and sing.
Will Social Security and Medicare survive? Should we start a small business? Will the market stay solid? Information to digest.
Terrorists are feared, along with mystery viruses, suspicious white powders, packages, poisons and gases. Information to process.
Friends have opposing viewpoints regarding domestic issues and world conflict, reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s when politics and war split friendships, communities, churches, schools. Information to shock and sadden.
The Internet is informational, educational, seductive, addictive. “In your face” television and radio wring us dry. Bold newspaper headlines shock, not inform. Dishonest business practices and immoral behavior of leaders, athletes, entertainers disappoint us. Information to linger and distract.
I’m information overloaded. My bytes are full. A tough-minded, not terminal, diagnosis. Memory full? Absolutely! Memory failing? Not on your life! I’m just a computer manufactured in 1936. In 2007 I’m a valued operating system with priceless, creative software. But if I’m expected to keep it organized with 70-year-old memory chips tucked away inside, I’m “fried.” If I were a real computer, I would be kicked into the recycle bin, replaced with a shiny new model, obsolete before it leaves the store.
Well, my bytes may be full and my hard drive overloaded, but I’m far from obsolete. Thanks for letting me delete some frustration on you. It’s freed up space for my gym workout. While I drive I’ll call my home phone from my cell phone and leave my grocery list on my voice mail. Easy to retrieve when I get to the grocery. Saves paper and a few trees. The “things to do” I forgot to put in my planner? They’re on my voice mail, too.
We live in a world gone berserk with technology and information. Overloaded? Just get over it! Join the fun! Three cheers for the full bytes of our lives!
SENIOR CONNECTION, June 2008
Long Distance Grand Parenting:
Grandparents are important to grandchildren. We offer additional support, connections with extended family, healthy perspectives on aging, and a sense of family history.
Grandchildren are important to grandparents, too. They keep us in touch with “what’s new” in schools, churches, communities, and challenge us to respect change and become students of new ideas through their generation.
Some grandparents are fortunate to have grandchildren within a short driving distance. Today’s lifestyles find most grandparents faced with long-distance grand parenting and the need for travel, which can be restricted by cost or health.
Computer cameras are a popular way to keep voices and faces familiar from visit to visit. But creative communication provides great options for warm, loving relationships between grandparents and grandchildren.
Head for the computer, grab your “writing tools,” and keep your camera close by. You are about to learn twelve successful ways to connect with grandchildren – whether across town or across the continent.
SENIOR CONNECTION, July 2008
Long Distance Grand Parenting:
Grand parenting long distance can be a challenge. Here are more ideas for connecting with those all-important people in your life.
Don't miss the
"Terri's books for adults
tab on this website.