If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Texas

If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium Texas. If you’re not old enough to remember the movie, never-mind. It was pretty forgettable. Just like the day of the week or the month of the year is forgettable when you’re a Top Secret Agent in Texas.

Life as a TSA is jam-packed with redundancy.

We work every day  – all day and all night. Heidi and I are year-rounders so we work every day and every holiday and every birthday, which makes every day pretty much the same.

That’s a fact, not a complaint. We’re extremely grateful that we’ve almost never been without a job since we started gate guarding. It’s just funny to hear someone say on the news: Have a great weekend! That’s something you never hear in the oil field because we just have days – not week days and weekend days and holiday – just days.

I’m writing this on Saturday but it might as well be a Tuesday in Texas. I may not know what day of the week it is or sometimes even the month or season but I always know I’m in Texas. It’s the unforgettable part of life as a TSA.

Texas won’t let you forget you’re in Texas.

The Texas flag flies high and proud everywhere. It’s often accompanied by the Confederate flag which seems like a little bit of a contradiction to the US flag to me, but there it is.

Michener sums it up for us Yankees.

What you northerners never appreciate…is that Texas is so big that you can live your life within its limits and never give a (darn) about what anyone in Boston or San Francisco thinks. ~ James Michener

I can’t count how many Texans I’ve met who’ve never been outside of Texas. Seriously. Not ever. Grown-up people who’ve never once been out of this state. We worked for a rancher (a retired postmaster) who had never been out of his county. Hmm…

We’re well into our 3rd year now as Top Secret Agents. People are always asking us how/why we’re here working as TSAs in TX.

It’s a great question. If I had a bucket list, which I don’t, Texas might not fit in it because I’m a:

  • Water lover
  • Forest lover
  • Bug hater (spider fear-er)
  • Cool temperature lover
  • Nature (involving things that don’t want to bite or sting me) lover
  • And an avid walking on the beach type of bum

You can find things like water in Texas but you’re not likely to find a TSA job nearby.

I lived most of my life in the Midwest of Grant Wood. It was lovely. I don’t miss the freezing winters but I do miss having 4 real seasons.

For the three years prior moving to Texas, we lived on the southern Oregon coast. Growing up in Indiana, my family spent almost every Spring Break in Florida, where I fell in love with the ocean.

But Oh! the ocean in Oregon with the mountains and forests falling off into the sea; the whales spouting; the fog horns; the crab boats; the lighthouses; the agate and jasper covered beaches. It seemed like a place people made up in books.

Walks in Oregon were in the beautiful old growth forests or, if Henry got to vote, on the beach.

Henry enjoying a romp and stomp with the seagulls
Henry’s favorite thing was a wild romp and stomp with the seagulls, no leash, ever. Those were his halcyon days – and ours!

Heidi and I both worked as managers at a beautiful ocean front resort. The location was idyllic but the chest pains that Heidi started having from the stress became alarming. At the end of a particularly hard week, I made a just catching up phone call to Joanie who used to work for me at the resort. She and her husband were full-time RVers, gate guarding in Texas.

To tell you the truth, the job didn’t really appeal to me but it was clear we needed to make a change. Heidi already owned a motorhome which was sitting empty in a lot since we had a 2 bedroom apartment at the resort.

Acting on impulse and with no idea what to expect, we talked it over, took the Level II Security tests and headed to Texas with the assurance from a gate guard company that they’d find us something eventually after we got in state.

We started working the day we called to say we’d crossed the border. And oh gosh, it hasn’t been anything like anything either of us have experienced before. Not Texas, and not gate guarding.

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Gone Fishing!

Looks like we finally caught a break in the weather! After 2 months+ of triple digit heat, Monday’s high temperature is supposed to be 68 degrees!

Can you believe it? I can’t even remember 68 degrees. That’s 40 degrees cooler than it was just 3 days ago. Thinking about it gives me goosebumps!

And the low! Oh the low is predicted to be 47. I don’t even know where my sweatshirts are, but looks like I’m going to be needing them – where I’ll be Monday, in Iowa.

We received a phone call Friday with 2 surprising bits of information. The deal that we’d all but given up on to trade in our motorhome in on a 5th wheel (yes, and a truck) went through. That was the first bit. The second was that we had to sign the paperwork no later than Tuesday. This was Friday, in Smiley, where the nearest place that will overnight anything is 75 miles away.

Since Monday is Labor Day,  overnighting paperwork just didn’t work, so we’re overnighting ourselves. We called our company and Jamie graciously found us a sub and we’ll take off whenever he arrives this morning to begin the 20+ hour drive straight to Cedar Rapids.

We have a couple of weeks to visit our wonderful families in Iowa and Minnesota, see as many friends as possible, transfer all our earthly possessions, and take driving lessons.

From Iowa, it’s off to Livingston to become official Texas residents even though we’ll never  be real Texans. Then it’s up to Wharton, we think, to rejoin Lantern 17.

The majority of you (by a slim margin) voted for a 5th wheel in the poll. I’m trusting you knew that of which you spoke because that’s what we’re getting. When we bought the Mirada, our entire driver’s ed lesson included each of us driving 1 mile on a country road and watching as they hooked up the Saturn to the tow bar.

I think we’ll require a little more instruction this time and, based on your comments, a lot of  practice parking.

Unlike Heidi, who writes her Good Life posts a week in advance, I’m a last-minute blogger so my posts will be spotty at best. After almost 9 months, you can finally count on getting a bit of a breather!

By the way, I have a nice 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee for sale with only 206,000 miles on it if you’re in the market! 😉

It’ll be sitting here in Smiley, on a ranch of a friend. I’m counting on the calves to keep it clean while we’re gone.

Set out from any point.  They are all alike.  They all lead to a point of departure.  ~Antonio Porchia

I don’t really get it either, but it sounds profound. 😀

Pray for Rain

Everywhere you look, the buzzards are circling. Not a good sign. I’m afraid to stand still for fear they might mistake me for something dead and delicious.

Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.  ~ John Updike

We’re getting precariously close. Today is officially our 35th straight triple digit day. According to one of the ranchers at the second-hand grocery store, in the ten or so miles between Nixon and Smiley, we’ve had 2.4 inches of rain in 11 months. Another said that’s an exaggeration – 2 tops.

I passed the chicken houses on my way to the post office. They’re silent except for the constant hum of the giant fans. The drought is hostile to all but my alien foliage.

In Austin, only watering by hand is permitted during the day under current Stage 1 rules. The next stage would further limit watering to once a week, shut down the city’s fountains and allow water to be served in restaurants only upon a customer’s request.  Water bills are running as high as electric bills for Austin residents, prompting the city utility service to initiate a summer extended plan. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2087489,00.html#ixzz1UhAo3Hui

There’s nothing left of the fields but dirt. Even the cactus are dying. Three summers ago, I left a city underwater. Cedar Rapids is still struggling to recover. I don’t know what it will take for Texas to recover. The ranchers said they’ve quit praying for rain. They’re praying for a hurricane. They said  that may be the only thing that can save them.

I’m not a Texan. My own daily gate guarding life is a little hotter and a little dustier than it would otherwise be. An inconvenience, not a devastation. But you can’t live in a community of people, even temporarily, without your heart breaking for their suffering and their loss. If you’re given to praying, would you pray for rain?