Friday, November 9, 2007

JUST A LITTLE KINKY (summer '05)

I don't know how it is in other states, but in Texas, we take great pride in our "characters". Take Kinky Friedman for instance, who's running for governor of our fine state. (Don't forget, I'm transferring paper journal entries from the last couple of years to blog now, and haven't yet caught up to real time!) I don't know much about his politics, never read any of his books, and doubt if I could name any of the songs he recorded, and yet I'm a huge fan of his, and just stood in line for quite some time in order to shake his hand and get him to autograph an overpriced tee-shirt for me. Why, you might ask? Because he's living his life to the max and grabbing all the gusto he can get. He personifies the George Eliot motto I keep posted by my desk, "It is Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been". When we heard that they were hosting a campaign fund-raiser for him right here in Wimberley at the Wildflower Cafe (who's own motto is Keep Wimberley Wild), we just couldn't resist dropping in. Kinky wasn't the only unabashed character at this function. We had more than a few balding boomers chomping on big cigars. as well as a ZZTop look-alike and a six foot tall, sixty-something biker chick in black leather. We had grandmas and little kids, hippies and hipsters. I guess that's what I love about this place. To quote the cafe owner who was hosting the event - "We not only tolerate eccentricity here in Wimberley, we celebrate it!"

With a campaign slogan like "Why the hell not? How hard could it be?", I had assumed that Kinky was running for office merely as a lark. However, he seemed deadly serious as he told us that he loved Texas with all his heart, but hated the direction its government was heading in, and the fact that it was ignoring Texas' true heroes - the teachers, firemen and policemen. He said that Texas had given him so much, and he just wanted to do whatever he could to help her. You know what? I think I'll have to agree with the used car salesman who said "If that little booger manages to get himself put on the ballot, I just might have to vote for him!"

Sunday, November 4, 2007

DRIVING ME CRAZY (summer '05)

I hate our driveway at Seasonality. No, wait. That's not exactly true. I abhor our driveway at Seasonality. For one thing, it is steep. Really steep. Quite easy to walk down, not so easy coming back up. I wake up in the morning full of energy, and go out for a nice long walk. I'm pretty pooped by the time I get back to the house though, and when I get to the driveway and look all the way to the top, I'm half tempted to call my husband to drive down and get me.

Another problem is that it's made of loose gravel over caliche. The first lesson I learned was never to pause the car on your way up. As our driveway approaches the house, it splits in two, with one branch going in front of the house to a parking area near the lower level entrance. The other branch goes on up behind the house, where you enter the upper level. Well, the first time we came to the house, pulling a U-Haul trailer behind my little truck, my husband paused at the fork while deciding where he wanted to park. Big mistake. It took him fifteen minutes of maneuvering every which way before he finally got enough traction to get it going again. If I had been driving, we would have just had to slide back to the bottom of the hill, but he stayed perfectly calm and proceeded to give me a physics lesson about momentum that I didn't really take in because I was too busy freaking out. Finally he said "Never mind. Just haul ass and keep on going. You'll be fine."

Last but not least, it is fairly narrow, with drainage ditches along either side. Thank goodness we didn't have much stuff, because I'm not sure a full-sized moving van could have made it all the way up. Our friends Paula and Tim were here visiting Saturday, and brought their son and his fiance along. Chase drove them all here in his big one-ton truck with the extended bed. He made it up the driveway just fine, but got kind of jammed in the parking area, without much room to maneuver. When it was time to head out for dinner, Paula made him go down to back the truck out before she would get in. Good thing too, since one wheel ended up going off the edge of the driveway, and the harder he tried to get back on it, the worse things got. (It didn't help that he had eight people up on the porch watching his every move, yelling conflicting instructions at him, and making him very nervous!) When his truck ended up tilted at a 45 degree angle, and looked like it was ready to topple down the hill with him in it, we made him stop and get out, and we called a tow truck.

Now, coming from Houston, where there are usually about 20 tow trucks at the scene of any accident, we were a bit surprised to find only one company listed in the local directory. We were even more surprised when he answered our call with "Yeah, I can come, but I'm in the middle of a baby shower, so you'll have to wait till the shower is over." We tried the next town over, and he said "Sure, I'll have someone there in 45 minutes." Some time later he called back and said "Gonna have to push back that ETA. My driver hasn't shown up yet." Another 45 minutes went by and we called him this time. His answer to our inquiry was "Oh absolutely - he's on his way!" Just as it was about to get dark, we saw a red wrecker whiz by out on the highway. A few minutes later, it passed again, going the other way. Finally it came back, and actually entered the neighborhood, but went right past our driveway. Tim gave up and ran all the way down the driveway, and flagged him down just as he was about to go past us again. They stood there talking for a long time, and we found out later that when the driver saw the truck's position, he almost turned around and left. Tim gave him a pep talk, and a few ideas on how to approach it, and managed to convince him that yes, he really could do this! The women couldn't bear to watch, so we all went inside to wait it out. They did finally manage to pull the truck out of the ditch, but John said there was one point when it looked like both trucks would tumble down the hill, and the truck driver's two kids hopped out of his truck and ran for safety. As they finally drove away, Tim heard one of the kids say "Dad, you didn't charge near enough for that job!" The good news is, now John agrees with me that paving the driveway and putting in a better parking area for guests should be moved up to the number one position on our priority list!

I was thinking this morning about how funny it was that so many people move to the country wanting a slower-paced lifestyle, and then get so irritated when things actually do take longer than they were accustomed to in the city - like our tow-trucks. Living in Wimberley is going to be a lot like living in Indonesia was. We used to tease and say the Indonesians operated on "rubber time", because it was so very flexible! High-powered corporate types who were used to multi-tasking 24/7, and who expected things to be "done yesterday", did not adapt easily to rubber time. John and I were the perfect expatriates, because we are both rather laid back and can usually see the funny side of most of the little calamities that arise. For example, one time our housekeeper accidentally spilled some bleach in with our colored wash. We discovered it just as we were about to head out to a family/teacher volleyball game up at the school yard. We thought it would be pretty funny to show up wearing matching outfits covered in big white blotches. Most people did get a kick out of it. A few thought we should kick our housekeeper out on her ass, even if it was just an accident. Those people should not be living overseas - or in Wimberley. My laid back attitude is coming in quite handy here. For instance, instead of having a hissy fit about tow trucks and trips to the emergency room, I find myself thinking "Yippee! I feel another chapter for my book coming on!" Back in Indonesia, you could almost see which ones would survive, and which ones wouldn't, the minute they stepped off the company plane. All were dead tired after the arduous trip, but most could laugh about it and look upon it as an adventure. Those who got off the plane cursing everything, from the disgusting food to the corrupt customs agents, were in for a rough time. The lady who thought we should have fired our housekeeper was one of those. She had absolutely no sense of humor at all, and her skeletal structure must have been forged from steel, for she was the most inflexible person I have ever met in my life. She practically had to be carted away in a straight jacket after a very brief stay in Indonesia. John and I, on the other hand, had a blast, and our kids look back on it as the most wonderful adventure of their lives. I think we'll do just fine here in Wimberley.