Monday, January 15, 2018

Why I live here.

Evidently, Sarge had a difficult time returning to work last Monday after reading my stirring report on plans for an EPIC road trip to visit the top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas.  Put him off his feed, so to speak.  

He said, and I quote, that the week "...lasted nearly an eternity."  Well, dreaming of fine Barbecue can do that to a man.  

That having been said, evidently the Barbarians he works for made him work FIVE days after he idled his engines for two weeks what with one of the drive motors malfunctioning.  I mean the poor guy had a choice of stomping around in a circle or sitting around with a couple of his loved ones waiting on him hand and foot.  (OK, maybe not the latter.)

While my Employer has quite a few barbaric practices in place, they do have an interesting schedule with a nice little perk built into it this year.  That perk is a nice touch, but the reason they include it is one of the reasons I love living in a small town.

You see, aside from the large MSA's in the state, Houston, DFW, San Antonio etc, most of the state is distinctly rural.  Ranches and Farms are prominent and the towns and small cities around them are built with them in mind.

Raising and selling Farm Animals is the primary way of making money.  Quite literally, the cash cow.

So, the ability to raise quality livestock is essential to this way of life.  Consequently, educating children in this skill receives a lot of attention from parents and school board.  

Friday was both the conclusion of one phase of this education and start of the next.  

Friday was the start of the local Stock Show.  

Hence it was a Day Off for all Faculty, Students and employees.  Which is unusual.  It puts the Stock Show at the same level of import as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day etc, at least as far as employee pay is concerned.  Doesn't cost us leave and we still get paid.

So, the stock show is a big deal.  I haven't been in a while, and didn't go this year.  However, after seeing all the hoopla about it and having a colleague, whose kids were showing chickens (yes, really!), I went.  

There's a whole, heckuvalot of planning and performance art in the showing of an animal.  Not only that, but the show has an awful lot of people around in it.  Stuff I knew nothing about.  My Friend told me that the proper way to show a chicken was to turn it upside down, so the judge could see the breast.  

When informed of that technique, the wife wasn't all that interested in trying that, muttering something about "wringing my neck".

So, it was a spectacle then and from what my DIL (who is a teacher and thus, not required to attend, but "expected" to, if you get my meaning) reports, still is.

But, that day off greatly eased the demands of the first week back from the Christmas Holidays.  

And the small town hoopla about their stock show is one of the reasons I love it here.

There is another reason though.

And it was exhibited in spades Friday.

I'm running errands in Town and, since it was about lunchtime, called Mrs Juvat and asked her if she wanted to take a break and get some lunch.  She declined as there were people on the streets and she wanted to entice as many of them as possible to leave some money in her store.  

But, if I wanted to bring something by, she would sit and eat it with me.

Good enough.

So, I pick up some burgers and fries (Sonic if you must know) and brought them by.  Sonic is on the east side of town, her store is on the west.  Usually, I avoid Main Street like the plague, preferring to cross it at 90 degrees and as high a speed as possible. That target area is infested with 18 wheelers dragging 200' wind generator blades, interspersed with jay walkers thinking it quaint that a major US highway transits Mayberry RFD.  Better to avoid if at all possible. However, as it had been awhile, I throw caution to the wind and drive the length.

I had heard that there were changes afoot and quite a few buildings had change hands and some businesses had closed.  (Property Taxes are spiking due to an influx of people who have sold outrageously overpriced properties elsewhere and moved here.  To avoid paying capital gains tax, they must invest that money here.  Sounds good, except Property Tax is calculated for everyone based on current comparable sales in the area.  "How much do you want for your property?  $300K.  Well, I can't pay you less than $1.5M will you take that?" (No, I'm not kidding.).  Building owners have two choices, sell the building or raise rents.  Guess which one they take?  Rents are going way up and the town is changing.)

Where was I?

Oh yeah, driving down Main Street.

I noticed something peculiar.  It seemed every building, shop or even lamp post had a bundle of balloons tied to it.  

I tried to figure out what it signified, but couldn't.  Stock show didn't seem to warrant that.  Couldn't see a connection to MLK's Birthday, hadn't a clue.

So, I asked the wife.

Well...One of the young couples in our church had a two year old son who laid down for a nap and never woke up.

The family had requested that nobody send flowers for the funeral, but that Noah had liked balloons and they would prefer that.

Word got out.

That's why I love this town.


  1. I'm one of the last fence riders, I guess. My job used to require week long preventive maintenance trips to our radio network. I had been on the road a solid week, I was coming home to my lady, and I was saddle sore. I let my old GMC have her head and flew down the hills on 87 and then coasted to the top... Made good time.... until I got close to Fredericksburg, TX. It was about 10pm, and as I started down a hill, a pair of headlights popped on. I shut her down, and came to a stop so the deputy only had to button-hook and he was right behind me. He was extremely nice, a big German kid. After he heard my heart rending tale of solitude, he warned me about the party in town, the extra traffic and the deer scourge at the time. Let me go without a warning. I've always had a soft spot for that place. I sure hope it survives the influx of ferners.

    1. Me too.

      As one might suspect, I know most of the law enforcement folks in town. When little Juvat was young, I was one of the leaders of his Boy Scout Troop. One of the others was a Highway Patrol officer. 3 of my former students are Police, as in my closest neighbor's son. His Son-in-Law is a Deputy Sheriff. All good people.

      I had a similar situation happen on a trip through Brady heading home. I was doing 55 and thought I was out of town and had missed the 70mph sign. So I accelerated, came over a hill and saw the Deputy coming the opposite way and, at the same time, saw another 55 sign. Sighed, pulled over and waited for him. License and registration in view on the dash, window down and hands on the wheel. He asked me if there was an emergency. I said no, just an idiot that thought he'd missed the sign. He laughed and let me off with a warning. There might be something to that golden rule after all.

  2. Too dusty in here this morning, can't seem to see the keyboard.

    Prayers for the soul of little Noah. Prayers for his family.

    1. Yeah Sarge, no kidding. It's was all fine until that one line about the poor kid. So sorry for the family. Juvat, if you are so inclined, tell them some of the readership pass along their condolences and will pray for them and their son.

  3. Roger that OAFS, it's dusty here too.

    Thanks for the post, juvat.

    Paul L. Quandt

  4. I see the young lass in the opening picture is wearing a Texas A&M "Maroon Out" tee shirt. As well she should :)

    And yes, a bit dusty on closing here, too.


    1. Working the IT department for the school district, I only get to know two types of kids. Those that are consistently on "those" sites, which is not a good thing, and those that are the high end users of technology, e.g. the Rocket Class among others. My non-scientific observation of them shows a high percentage of them prefer maroon tee shirts over other colors, say burnt orange for instance. As the proud father of two A&M Grads, I appreciate their perspicacity.

      Yeah, it got a little dusty in Mrs. J's store when she told me about the balloons.

  5. Small town boy I as born and raised and am again. When they change the name every year to celebrate 'hay' you know you're living in a small town. Love it. When I was a kid growing up, I couldn't wait to move away but some 50 years later I couldn't wait to escape CA and move back.

    1. I'm pretty much in the same boat. Air Force Brat raised on small AFB's mostly. Went to the Big City of Lubbock for college and then back to small AFB's for most of my career. Finished out in Honolulu (hardship tour ;-) ) and DC. Could not wait to be back in a small town. Events in this post, plus a host of others, confirms that it was a smart decision.

  6. Juvat, your photo reminds me of the old retired fighter pilot who had a ranch outside of Austin. One Spring day he found a lamb which had managed to get into a stock watering tank and was covered with a green algae. He got it out and cleaned it off and, at about that point, a big fancy Cadillac with a couple of city folks was driving by. The wife yelled at her husband to stop, and then she got out of the car and walked over to the fence.
    She stared at the little lamb, which was a pale pastel green from the algae, and she called out to the rancher: That is the cutest lamb I’ve ever seen and I just have to have it for my grandchildren. She offered the rancher ten times what the lamb was worth, and he, not being a dummy – (I told you he was a fighter pilot didn’t I?) sold her the lamb on the spot.
    The rancher realized he was on to something big and he rounded up the rest of his lambs and got his wife’s food coloring from the kitchen and started dipping lambs as fast as he could. He soon had pink lambs, yellow lambs, blue lambs and, sure enough, city folk kept stopping and buying those lambs. By Sunday he had sold every single one at great profit.
    So being very, very smart (I told you he was a fighter pilot didn’t I?) he spent the next week driving all over the county and buying all the lambs he could find from the other ranchers. He took them back to his place and got to work dipping them in various colors and by Saturday he was ready.
    City folks came from all over. They came from Houston, from Austin, from San Antonio, why they came from durn near every city in Texas to buy his pastel lambs. And that, my friend, is how that fighter pilot became famous as the Biggest Lamb Dyer in the whole state of Texas.

    1. You had me going all the way til the end...Good one, Dave, thanks!

      And there are a bunch of Big Lamb Dyers in the state.

  7. The explanation of rising rents made my head explode...the world is too complicated for me, and a baby passing in his sleep is the saddest thing ever, I have no idea how a parent ever fully recovers from that. The balloons are nice for sure, but those poor parents.

    1. I'm pretty sure you're correct on the probability of full recovery. I just found out the mother is expecting a girl in April. Hopefully that will ease the pain a bit.

      Property Taxes make my head explode also. If I were king of Texas, your property tax would be based on what you paid for the property and stays that way until you decide to sell. At that point, the property is revalued to the sale value and you would be charged some kind of capital gain. But, alas....

    2. Be careful... keeping property taxes based on purchase price sounds a lot like what Proposition 13 did in CA.
      Now the pols and bureaucracy have found other insidious methods for finding their way into our pockets.

    3. I don't disagree, hence my voting rubric
      1) No democrat
      2) No incumbent
      3) No unopposed.

  8. I can vouch that one never entirely gets over the loss of a child.
    My heart goes out to the family.
    Having neighbors who share help.

    1. Well, I hope good neighbors help, and for the time being at least, they seem to be plentiful.

  9. Sad to hear, but small towns DO support their people. Hopefully lunch was still warm when you got to the wife's shop!

  10. Yes they do.

    Re: Lunch. warm as Sonic's gets anyhow.

  11. So sad about the child and so kind of the townspeople to acknowledge the loss.

    Regarding rural education, I've used what I learned in VoAg and shop classes as much as academics. Learned to weld, use a forge, work with wood, operate power tools and use a chain saw among other skills. Mastered none, but learned enough to be useful.

    1. Thanks.

      I used to be of the "everyone go to college" mindset. Got into teaching and quickly saw that for many kids, that wasn't the right path, and switched to "vocational school is the right answer for many". Went to the HS graduation and saw a kid walk across whom I'd lost track of since I met him in elementary. Went up to congratulate him and asked him about his plans. He was going to vocational school to learn to weld, had his scuba certificate and was going to be an underwater welder on oil rigs in the gulf. Dangerous work to be sure, but well compensated. He seemed happy with his choice. Certainly better than a degree in Old English Lesbian literature.


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