« Older Entries Subscribe to Latest Posts

4 May 2015

Spring 2015

Posted by Sam. No Comments

May 3, 2015

Dear friends,

Knowing I was going to write a “How We Be” note, I took a trip this weekend. I thought it might be like old times, having some personal observations to pass on. Preston was up for it; he loves to ride in the car, and is loath to let me out of his sight.

My plan was to go to Gun Barrel City, Texas. Certain it was an old town of 5,000, with plenty of history, I googled it and learned it was founded by a group of RVers called the “Dirty Dozen” in 1969. But, they had a great Saturday market, so Friday afternoon we took off. To make a long story short,Gun Barrel City was full, and we ended up in Ennis, Texas, home of the national Polka Festival, in a LaQuinta Inn, on the third floor with a dog who doesn’t trust elevators!  Ennis appears to be a nice place to live, and the diverse cultures are trying to get along, as witnessed by the sign in one cafe: “Hulda’s Chili Reyenos.”
We were home in less than 24 hours, but it’s a start.

Friends in Bend are organizing a celebration of Dave’s life on May 24th. We so hope you all can come. It is very informal, just a gathering of friends from 2 to 5PM. We plan to meet at Greg and Cathy Jenson’s place. If it is raining, we will meet at the Moose Hall in Bend. I’ll send addresses later. Bring a lawn chair and your beverage of choice. We will have finger foods and snacks.

Davey would love this. You know how he loved a party. Having you all together would be the ultimate celebration. Bring pictures and stories. Our kids are coming; everyone is looking forward it.



20 Oct 2014

Fall 2014

Posted by Sam. No Comments

October 16, 2014

Dear friends,

Summer was okay, the best of the year is here! We stay indoors in the summer just like most of the nation stays indoors in winter. Sporting events are held in the evening. Surprisingly, though, the grass stays green and we don’t use a lot of water.

We read the Fort Worth Star Telegram. A very healthy newspaper, full of ads for knee surgery and neuropathy (training hospitals here, I guess), and three crosswords, including the NY Times, PLUS two jumbles! The headlines are often really big. The Dallas Cowboys rate a much bigger headline than Ebola; when they beat Seattle it was the full front page above the fold. I couldn’t get dressed that day. On page 3 of the Sports section today was a news item that said one of their star players was arrested for lifting a package of underwear and a test bottle of Gucci’s “Guilty Black” fragrance … I’m not making this up. He said he just didn’t have time to pay. What do you want to bet he doesn’t get a suspension …..

Ebola in Texas is doubly tragic. A woman I worked with last week was afraid to go to the hospital to visit one of our students because she might get Ebola, “in the elevator, or something.” It wasn’t even the same hospital. It wasn’t even the same county! Hopefully she won’t be out anywhere she might be interviewed.

Fall means football, of course, and we’re in it for real. Xander’s team is actually learning how to play the game. They have come close to a touchdown and they get real sweaty. He got hurt early in the season and I asked him how his groin was feeling. “It’s not my groin, Gramma, I’ve got a torqued testicle.” Well! This 9-year-old has manned up!

In our area the high schools don’t have a Homecoming dance. They have a football game and they date up and make “corsages” for one another. These “corsages” are the traditional “Mums” which have morphed into Texas size statements of affection. They are sometimes so large they have to be held to the chest with strapping; LED lights help them stand out. The boys wear arm garters the girls have made. They all go to the game but hang out a lot, looking at one another, rather than watch the game. It is a sight, and the game has to be good to hold one’s attention. Becca and her date showed reasonably good taste:








while the couple shown full length are much admired for their tackiness and willingness to spent hundreds of bucks on each other. (Probably no more than a prom dress, I guess.)

Bib Mums






Speaking of tackiness, I am the current hot chili champion of the church chili cookoff! I much prefer Queen over champion, but …. Last year I got second place, so I was really happy to come through this year. I use a 20 year old, 2-day Craig Clairborne recipe with two cans of Rotel. Serve with sour cream and a squeeze of lime. (You know how I love to accessorize!) My trophy is a little cooking pot over a fire; think cannibal pot. But it is nicely engraved:








The State Fair is in Dallas, and as you can imagine, it is huge. Dave and the kids went last week and checked out Big Tex. This symbol of everything  non-Texans hate about Texas burned up two years ago and was the source of much discussion until they got him rebuilt, up and shouting “Howdy!” His boots are size 32.:

Big Tex







Dave is still riding his bike, and doing all my chores when I work. I have had to back off a little from one class. I no longer work when the teacher is out. She is the only one who can maintain control and when she’s gone, I don’t feel safe. She’s out now with a knee injury (a very deliberate aim by a stocky 10-year-old); last year it was a broken foot (same girl). I had to tell the school that a kick in the knee has put the teacher out for a week, but if I’m kicked in the knee it will change my life!  Still, I’m busy, working an average of three days a week. I still take a class at the LDS Institute in Arlington on Tuesdays; the class numbers about a dozen and I love these sisters. We have really bonded.

Son Kevin is flying us to Phoenix for Thanksgiving. We miss them and look forward to a few days of family, food and football. Jason and his family are trying to go to her folks in Utah for Christmas so will have to forego Phoenix. Susie is thriving at Utah State in Logan. I miss her a lot but feel so happy and proud when I think of her. Becca is into theatre, Katie is in Honors Choir (8th grade), and Xander is a 4th grader into building stuff. Jamie works full time at an elementary school and Jason is still with LINK. He was recently promoted to head of instructional design in a new commercial department of LINK. This new dept. is working with designing and building simulators for ambulances, fire trucks, 18-wheelers, etc. Jason kind of misses the association he had with the military, but is happy.

Well, that’s all the news from Lake Woebegone, where all the men are strong, the women good looking and all the children are above average. we send our love and warm wishes.
Sam and Dave



18 Jun 2014

Summer ’14

Posted by Sam. No Comments

June 18, 2014

Dear friends,

The monthly “How We Be” seems to have morphed into a quarterly “We’re still here.” We’re busy a lot of the time, but with stuff that belongs in Grandma’s Brag Book. For that, we count our blessings but spare our friends. Myself, I have developed a deep respect for the uneventful life.

We’re eating tomatoes, cukes and pan patty squash from the tiny garden I planted in the flowerbed. Makes me very happy to have finally gotten the hang of it: Harvest in June, NOT plant in June. Everything will be done, plant shops all but shut down come mid-July. Texans take a couple of months indoors every July and August, while most of you do the same in the winter.

Dave doesn’t mind the heat at all. I don’t mind it too much but find that the sun is not my friend anymore. Dave has ridden a few bike rides around north Texas. He and Jason are signed up for the Peach Pedal next month in Weatherford (NW of us). He rides with friends or the Rusty Chain Gang three days a week and pedals to the library, etc. G’Pa’s Taxi is taking Becca to play rehearsal every day and trying to talk her into riding a bike. So far, no go. He doesn’t mind taking her, but is just pro-bike!

I am okayed to substitute teach next year. My long term sub job this spring was very, very hard, but very rewarding. I had never heard of EBD (emotional behavior disorder) before I started subbing. Imagine a 10 year old who has tantrums like a 2 year old (only worse because he’s bigger) when he doesn’t get his way or is unable to do something, like win a computer game. Total meltdown. Screaming, hitting, self infliction of pain, throwing things, etc. These kids are non-compliant, disrespectful, very poor impulse control and strong and violent when forced to move out of the classroom.

Some of these kids are very bright, but they don’t want to do school work. They are verbal, physically fit, and appear normal until you ask them to do something. There are about 5 or 6 classes like this, for severe behavior problems, in the district. I just work with elementary, intermediate, or middle school kids. The high school kids are too strong for me.

Most days I came home and Dave would ask how can public schools be expected to deal with these kids? Texas law says every child is entitled to a free education. Most of these kids have been in a psychiatric setting for an 8 to 13 week in-patient session. Few of them live with their biological parents. Every one of them, each in his/her own way, is a mess. Our goal is to teach them to read and do simple arithmetic, to learn to be a good citizen, and to control their meltdowns. Nobody knows how they got the way they are; we just want to set them up for a chance at a successful life.

I witnessed a really rewarding change in one 4th grade boy this spring. He is a gifted child, born in the middle east and dealing with extreme culture conflict in addition to EBD. Last year he addressed his teacher, “Hey, Woman!” This year he has been unable to participate in any field trips because as the day approached, his behavior got worse and worse. He sabotaged himself! This spring, we worked hard to figure out what he was afraid of in the upcoming field trip to Hawaiian Falls. He really wanted to go.
Day after day we discussed things the way they would go on the trip, and finally realized he had a conflict with the modesty he is taught in his culture and getting into his swim suit. Voila! We gave him the answer and he showed up in long shorts over a long swim suit, and two T shirts. We hooked him up with a buddy whose Dad was on the trip, and they checked out the restrooms and changing rooms as soon as they got there. And this kid had a ball. He has never been to the places we take our kids to from an early age, so he couldn’t imagine how it was going to work. It was a proud day!

Some of the classes I work in are kids with birth trauma, or somewhere on the autism scale. A lot of kids with autism are mostly mainstreamed. Another class is a life skills class for kids with severe mental and physical disabilities; a class involving lots of lifting, diaper changing and feeding.  This school district has 53 schools and every one has some kind of special ed class. Kids are grouped by disability and bussed to the appropriate class. I could work every day if I wanted to; there are always openings for paraprofessionals, because there are so many paras in each class. I get paid $5 less than a certified teacher. I don’t really know why I like these classes — they’re so hard — but I do. I love the kids and seem to have a way with them.

We’ll keep you posted on the state of Texas politics. It really doesn’t look like Governor Good Hair is going to run, but Ted Cruz is already running hard. It could get scary.

Here in Arlington, the big issue is “Why can’t we take our guns into the city council meetings to discuss a vote on open-carry in bars?” What can you say to that …? The slogan of the open-carry group is “An armed society is a polite society.”

We’re looking forward to a low key, laid back summer. We think of you often, especially when we let the dog out back at 10 PM and bask in the 78 degrees with a breeze. Our low is quite often your high, temperaturely speaking.



P.S. Susie graduated with 465 other seniors at Mansfield High School. The ceremony was held at the largest Performing Arts Center the school district has – it holds over 5,000. Here’s a look at the parking lot after it was all over, taken by Jason.

grads copy

3 Mar 2014

Winter Tales

Posted by Sam. No Comments

February 17, 2014

Dear friends,

This is How We Be number 133; time flies. Can’t imagine how these latter day blogs can be too interesting to most of you. We won’t be hurt if you ask to be taken off the list!

We had a wonderful holiday season. Didn’t do anything special, just enjoyed family and friends. The winter weather slowed us a bit, but we kegged up and rode it out just fine. The ice was very unusual for the DFW area and I’ve noticed that a lot of plantings died, big cacti and some roses. The yucca I planted in front didn’t make it, and the sweet crape myrtle Jamie brought from North Carolina doesn’t look like it will take root. I’m currently trying to figure out how to put in a raised bed so I can put down some decent soil. The spot gets full sun from noon on, so my choices are somewhat limited. The little Japanese Maple I’d like will not do well there.

I am still subbing in the Mansfield School District. Still happy doing it, and have just taken a long term sub assignment. They called me from one of my favorite classes and asked if I would like to work full time from March 17th for a minimum of six weeks. One of the paras is having surgery. It will probably be a stretch, but I want to do it. It is a small class with a teacher and 5 paraprofessionals for 8 students. They are all physically just fine, but have a variety of severe behavior problems. Mainly, we endeavor to teach them how to deal with their frustrations, how to handle “No.” They are 5th and 6th graders, working below grade level, most having the attention span of a gnat. Melt downs are common, often violent and always very loud. I haven’t had the training to restrain a child, so I am usually not required to haul a kid into the cool-down room. I work hard to keep them from melting down! But this class is one of the least challenging, physically and emotionally, of the classes I sub in, so it’s a good job to try long term.

Yesterday I came out into the kitchen at 8 am, and found Dave on the patio with his coffee and the newspaper. Ahhhhhh, Texas!  The days are getting longer and the wind is dying down … great weather, in the 70s. We leave the doors open and turn the heat off … just great!

The kids are all doing fine. Jason still enjoys his job; Jamie is also subbing, mostly with little kids. Susie has been accepted at Utah State University (in their old home town of Logan) with a 2 year full scholarship. She can’t wait. Becca is playing softball and has sort of cooled in her love of cheering. Seems like she enjoys the physicality of it, but cheerleaders, not so much. Susie and Becca both were in a recent performance of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Susie played Bun Ho, the Chinese mama to perfection, singing in Mandarin and getting many laughs. Becca was in the song and dance ensemble and was a surprise in a comedic bit in the last act, playing to the audience with perfect timing. Katie is in rehearsal for the spring play, just started and  I can’t remember what she is playing. A good part, she says. She is blossoming and when we see her in her choir performances, it makes me cry, she is so pretty. Xander got into making rubber band bracelets over the holidays and parlayed it into about 100 bucks that we know of. He is still getting better at archery and just started baseball practice. Basketball, this year, was a real breeze, thanks to Michael Jordan’s grandson (he must be) who played on Xander’s team and averaged 50 points every game that went to 56.  Jason and Jamie bought a barely used 2013 VW Passat, so feel they finally have some reliable wheels, but Susie’s car is still not passing go, so Grandpa’s Taxi is in use most days when Jamie works. Davey does Taxi duty without ever complaining and really helps out. Both of us feel good about it, because it connects us with the family; makes us feel a part of the clan.

Warm wishes to you and yours,

Sam and Dave

18 Sep 2013

Catching Up

Posted by Sam. No Comments

September 18, 2013

Dear friends,

We have been busy and happy the last three months. Everyone talks about the heat, but we haven’t been too inconvenienced by it. Well, a little … Dave has to get up earlier to ride with the Rusty Chain Gang. He also rides a lot with new friends Betty and Rene Hamel. Betty is a former race horse owner, little bitty gal who could have been a jockey and Rene is an ear, nose and throat guy who is still working at 78! They are a fun couple and we go to dinner with them a couple of times a month. On Tuesdays Dave drops me off on the UT Arlington campus and goes on to ride with the Hamels at some park (where they occasionally see a BOBCAT) while I take my class at the LDS Institute. Thursday and Saturdays are the other bike days.

I wonder how folks describe us….”She is a direct talking woman who went from the sawmill into gynecology and then they took pictures or something … he rode across the country with another woman and then they got back together with a long road trip.” People generally look blank when we talk about Q Photo; if we had run a kiosk at Walgreens they would get it.
So that just isn’t part of our history, as others seem to see it. Hah!

Every day when we go somewhere, anywhere, we marvel at the housing developments. There are few stand alone dwellings in north Texas. Everyone’s house is in a community, an enclave, a development or such, and they are ALL, I repeat, ALL  are made of brick. Maybe a few slats of plastic for decoration, but virtually every house we see is constructed of brick veneer. All colors, sometimes worked around big slabs of slate. And in our area, the high end properties are favoring the castle look, lots of turrets. The interior decorators advertise like it was free and the pictures will give you a whole new view of Texas, antler chandeliers and crystal, animal skin and filigree, plush and cluttered. Just amazing. Needless to say, in this part of Texas there are not many trees and a lot of clay.

The Texas Rangers finally had a couple of day games. It is generally too hot in the summer to play baseball. They also finally won a game after a 9-game slump. I have moved my loyalties from the Mariners to the Rangers but can’t get behind the Dallas Cowboys. Go Seahawks!!

I won second place in the chili cook off the church had last week. Got a big ribbon and felt real proud. I made my old adaption of Craig Clairbornes chili, Texas 2-Alarm Chili, served with sour cream and a squirt of lime.

I should have mentioned, in my description of the housing developments, everyone has a fenced back yard. I mean everyone. There are all different kinds of fences, some brick, most are wood, lots falling down. Must be something in the zoning.

Wild sunflowers are everywhere this time of year. They are small and vibrant and literally grow like weeds, filling all the fields. Natives say that just 12 years ago the area we live in was all ranch land, “When we first built our house, you could see a cow out ever window!” Now it is densely populated and still growing.

I’m back substituting in the Mansfield School District. Again, I’m just working in the special ed classes. There is a big range in the classes, all the way from severely physically and mentally disabled kinderkids to high school kids with physical handicaps and behavior problems. I have learned what I can do and what I’m not strong enough to do for many days in a row. I generally don’t do the high school classes at all, just because the kids are bigger and no matter what their disability, they are likely to need physical assistance.

The garden shops are advertising September tomatoes. Small wonder. The summer tomatoes were ready in June. July and August just cooked anything on the vine. I transplanted a couple of things and they are still struggling! I have Mexican Petunias along one side of the fence in back, and they are five feet high and thriving, as is the bamboo I planted in April. Sweet potato vine loves the heat and vinca is still blooming in a pot out front, but a lot of my experiments just went out in the garbage. I finally planted a couple of varieties of Yucca out front and they are doing fine; am hopeful for the little transplanted Crape Myrtle. It will look pretty next year. Maybe.
Love to all,

Sam and Dave

14 Jun 2013

More on Texas Lifestyles

Posted by Sam. No Comments

June 12, 2013

Dear Friends:

We have missed the tornadoes, or rather they missed us (two of them by not much), and we’re now into hurricane or tropical storm season. I think we are far enough inland that we don’t have to worry much. The temps are rising; our first 100 degree day is expected this week. With heat like this, thunderstorms are always possible, and they are doozies. We haven’t seen softball sized hail, but apparently we are among the few who haven’t seen it.

It’s a busy time of the year for the family. Susie, Becca and Katie are at Girl’s Camp, Xander is taking Art Camp every morning this week, Jason and Jamie are both working and they are down to one car since Susie wrecked the second car, so we taxi when we can. Jamie will drive the kids to Santa Fe later this month, to meet her mother and hand over the kids for their month-long summer visit. Jamie will go to Utah mid-July for a visit and come home with the kids the end of July. The house they have rented for the past couple of years has been sold and they will move sometime in July. The new house is beautiful and still very close to us. They will rent with an option to buy (hopefully).

I just finished reading Michener’s TEXAS. It was most interesting now that I am living here. And I swear it answered a lot of questions about why Texans are the way they are. First, when Texas was settled, it was run by the Spanish and then Mexico. Settlers had to be Catholic to own any land. Land was free, which accounted for the settlers coming here in the first place; if you farmed you were given a “Labor” (lab-bore), which was 177 acres. If you had cattle, you could get a league of land, which was about 4,500 acres. Most settlers managed to farm and ranch, to get the most land they could. Of course, in some parts of Texas, a cow/calf unit was at least 500 acres, so you had to have a LOT of land! So folks gave up their religion and their traditions to become Texans. And the belief system they developed was based a lot on land. Even when the oil boom hit, the first thing a rich oilman did when his gusher came in was go buy land and a ranch.

Texas has spent twice as many years under Spanish or Mexican rule than it has as part of the U.S. And since it was so big and Mexico didn’t rule very well, Texans began making their own rules very early in their settlement.The fierce allegiance to Texas I suspect didn’t develop until the 20th Century. Prior to that, folks had a fierce independence. Not to overlook the Alamo, but it just seems like Texans worked to develop their land, for their families,and when the oil started coming in around 1905, money managed to change some attitudes. For example, I think Texans still believe that if a fellow owns something, he ought to be able to run it. If you have enough money, you should be able to run your county, your state or maybe even the federal guv’mint!  Call it the Jerry Jones syndrome. Jerry owns the Dallas Cowboys and he has been meddling in their losing football seasons since the day he bought the team!

Every day we read the paper and find some police, or judiciary official is accused of something: theft, DUI, sexual misconduct — it’s a long list. You wonder, how did they think they could get away with something like that? Because they have gotten away with it before, or for a long time, I think.

You may have read about the high school valedictorian in Joshua, TX who was cut off at the end of his valedictorian speech. He had to turn in his proposed speech to four school officials who, after suggesting changes, approved it. He was specifically told not to talk about God. When he gave his approved speech and then went on to talk about God anyway, they didn’t drag him off the stage, but they turned his microphone off. I can’t believe there is a school in Texas that truly believes in separation of church and state; the microphone was turned off because the kid didn’t do what he was told to do!

We are enjoying Texas the same way we enjoyed almost every adventure we had on the road (with the possible exception of Rawlins, Wyoming). People are generally very open and friendly, they all love Texas; we don’t meet a lot of natives; people moved here to make more money (doesn’t seem to matter if it’s 1806 or 1006); the country is beautiful; you still have to be creative to garden.

Dave and Preston were attacked by two pit bulls on May 24th. The neighbors helped Dave get the dogs off them (something that might not have been the case in our white North Carolina neighborhood), and 911 sent two cop cars, an ambulance, a fire truck and animal control. In the middle of the melee, a guy walked up to our neighbor across the street and asked if he had seen two gray dogs. Our neighbor said yeah, they attacked an old guy (!?) and his dog across the street. When the guy kind of laughed, the neighbor said something about it being a bad deal and the guy said “F— ‘im.” Then the guy collected the dogs and a car came by and picked them up and sped off. Another neighbor got the license plate and the police tracked it down to a woman in Mansfield who says her boyfriend owns the dogs and she won’t tell them who he is or where he lives. Our address is Arlington, even though we are in the same neighborhood, so you can imagine the back and forth and buck passing going on between agencies. Animal control told us that Texas police won’t do anything unless a human is injured. Dave had a bite on his hand, but not bad enough, I guess. Preston had $800 worth of surgery that night. If police took action for torn up knees, the dogs would have been put to sleep by now. Anyway, we have an attorney on it, to make sure we at least get the vet bill reimbursed. This is the third time the same dogs have been seen running in the neighborhood. They jumped me in the garage last August, not mean, but very aggressive. I would just get one off me and the other jumped up.

And the beat goes on, dear friends. We love each other, we love our life, and we love all of you!



2 May 2013

New Guy in Town

Posted by Sam. No Comments

How We Be May 1, 2013

Dear Friends,

My first thought is, this can’t be very interesting; there’s not much going on, but my second thought is, gee, we’ve been busy, so I guess something is happening!

I have started “teaching.” I am a substitute for all grades, over 50 schools. There are about 150 subs and you’d think there wasn’t enough work, but last Friday, for instance, there were 63 openings! You don’t have to have a degree to sub here, but your college hours change your rate of pay. As a college senior, I make $75.00 a day, compared to a person with a degree who makes $80 a day.

I have been working two to three days a week and mostly subbing as an aide in special ed classes. An aide in these classes gets full pay. They feel they should get more, and Dave feels they should get a small taser with the job, to defend themselves.

The taser reference comes from my work with the SUCCESS program, kids who are close to grade level but have significant behavior problems. They most often also have significant mental health needs, and are quite skilled in attention seeking behaviors. After every mass shooting folks ask, “can’t we spot these people before they kill?” Well, I can tell you . . .  yes, we can spot them, but what can we do with . . . .  or for them?

The other special ed classes I like are ones teaching functional academic and living skills, kids with cognitive delays. These classes,to me, offer a chance to maybe make a difference. At least it feels like I’m going something good, not just babysitting. Most of these classes have one or two aides plus a teacher. Almost every school has at least one special ed class.

The School Districts here are huge. (They are so big they even have their own police departments.) They spend a lot of money on their education system. The electronic teaching tools are outstanding (every high school student is issued an iPad.) The jobs postings are handled through a computer program, which lists the jobs and allows me to accept a job up to an hour before class starts. Sometimes jobs are posted days ahead, but most are posted the night before they need someone.

When I sign in for the job, at the main office of the school, I get a folder with any necessary keys and an outline of what I’m expected to do, a lesson plan. Very tidy.

Dave is adjusting well to not working. He feels like he should be, of course, so he does what he can, which is a LOT, believe me! He cleans house, starts dinner, does grocery shopping, walks the dog, and anything else I ask!

About that dog … We are so tickled! We now are the proud owners of a pure bred English Springer Spaniel named Preston (see attachment). He is the Bench variety, with a long, flowing coat, and stubby little tail. Jason found this dog for us at the Fort Worth Humane Society. What a find! His breeding is very, very good (I’m sure that’s where his name came from), but the owners gave him up because he had bonded with the baby in the family and didn’t want the older children near her. This guarding behavior is one that is found in the breed, and it’s not good, but our environment is different and we don’t have that problem. We are watching for it, though, and have talked to trainers and animal behavior folks. Preston is on a rather tight leash at our house. (At least it seems pretty tight to kissy-face me, who feels an occasional table scrap can’t hurt and who wants a dog if you can’t sleep with them!) He minds very well, walks on a loose leash, and every night when I sit on my bed he looks at me with sad eyes. When I pull up the covers he immediately sighs (I think) and trots around to his bed on the other side.

Poor Roxy is upset because she isn’t spending time at our house. Preston doesn’t play well with others and it will take some time before the two dogs can be together. It doesn’t seem like Preston is vicious, but rather it’s “guarding” his people. The dog on the other side of our fence barks at him and he just barely responds. Roxy ignores him, but she doesn’t like Preston sniffing, and you know that’s what it’s all about with dogs. Sooner or later it comes down to the sniff. But we’ll work on it.

Davey is still riding with the Rusty Chain Gang. We hosted the monthly dinner in April at the Oasis on Joe Poole Lake nearby. We also had a couple over for dinner, folks who ride with Dave on Tuesdays. It was especially exciting for Davey because they aren’t Mormon. We really enjoy them.

Kevin and Shelly and Morgan flew in for four days with us in March. It was so great to be with them. It’s hard to believe Morgan is all grown up; seems like yesterday we snuggled on the couch and read “My Friend Flicka.” Nothing fills my heart like having my family together.

Our latest Texas chuckle comes from the local lady who named her new twins “Colt” and “Remington.” Honest! I don’t know how she could have passed on Smith and Wesson.

Weather is still pretty spectacular. Our grass is growing so fast we almost have to mow twice a week. That’s an editorial “we.” If I don’t work I think I’ll have to mow. Were half-way through tornado season and haven’t had more than a strong blow.

I finally got in to see the thumb specialist, and got another shot of cortisone. After about ten days it kicked in and I have had use of my thumb ever since. If it doesn’t last I feel certain this doc will fix it, surgically or another shot.

We think of you all, and watch the weather for Bend and Seattle. Texas spring is so beautiful, but we could really use some of your precipitation. Dave’s been in shorts for a month and rides at least three times a week, so we can overlook a lot of Texas crackpots in exchange for the weather. Of course, come summer, those crackpots may get to us more.
Love to all,

Sam and Dave

17 Mar 2013

Early Spring in Arlington

Posted by Sam. No Comments

Dear Friends,

We put on our shorts today, it’s 81 degrees! So sorry to rub it in, honest, but we are still agog with the weather. Had a guy come today to give us an estimate on shoring up the butt-ugly fence and when we get that fixed, I can plant my assortment of climbing vines and flowers! Can hardly wait! We have Kale and Pansies out front and are putting in two different kinds of yucca and a crape myrtle. It isn’t finished yet, but already looks so much better than the scrubby little rose and weeds that were there.

I am still working on getting “credentialed” to substitute teach. Had to take an on-line course on how to use the various high-tech teaching aids in the classroom, and spend a day in orientation, plus six hours observing in various classrooms. It all went well except for the 7th grader who knocked me flat in the hallway. Wuh! I recall going down kind of slow and gracefully, but judging from the looks on the kids’ faces it must have been quite stunning.

I got fingerprinted and they called yesterday and said the FBI wouldn’t accept my prints so I have to have it done again. The officer wouldn’t, or couldn’t say why. Something about my swirls being funny. I’m sure it’s just the pin pricks from quilting on my finger tips. Or else it’s the Black Panther meetings in my home in 1964…..

Dave is still riding with the Rusty Chain Gang. It’s our turn to host the monthly dinner in April. We get about 30 – 35 folks so will look for a restaurant which can seat us and agrees to separate checks!

I have gotten a calling in the Church. A calling can be a request from the Bishop to do a job for an indefinite length of time in whatever area someone is needed. I am a teacher in the nursery, herding 18 month to 3 year olds. So I attend Church services for an hour and work in the nursery for two hours every Sunday. I love the little kids but am having a little trouble getting up and down off the floor.

Kevin and Shelly and Morgan Ann were here last week for almost four days. It was so great to be with them. We didn’t do anything much, just ate together, picnicking and grilling, but it was really good. They haven’t seen the sun for so long they got up in the morning and hit the back yard. Everyone got a little burned and they were SO proud! They went to Phoenix from here and I think it rained.

Jason and Jamie and the kids are all fine. Xander is the star of his baseball team, after a pretty sad basketball season. (You don’t know sad until you watch 8 year olds play for 40 minutes and the score is 4 to 10.) Katie is playing volleyball and doing very, very well on the french horn. Becca is wrapping up her tumbling lessons and trying out for cheerleader in a couple of weeks. She’s a freshman, so I guess it’s the JV squad. Susie totaled the Swan family second car; went to sleep on the way home and hit everything in front of her. Fortunately it was the street in front of her house and there were no other cars, just stationary objects like mailboxes and lamp poles. She’s fine; she and her folks will be reassessing her schedule of school and work at “On the Border.”

Davey finally sold his Dinky Toys. They have been boxed and carried around for about 65 years. Sort of like money in the bank. He sold them to a fellow in the UK for $750 and bought himself a new iMac with a HUGE screen.

I have a “trigger finger,” or actually a “trigger” thumb that is very sore. Left thumb, thank heavens, and it locks and snaps and wakes me up. Can’t hook my bra or even pull up my pants sometimes! No small thing, I tell ya! Had an appointment two days ago, after waiting six weeks, and the doc cancelled because he had emergency surgery. The office wanted to book me in a month, but I just can’t wait, so am seeing a non-surgeon orthopod guy who can probably fix me just fine. I’m thinking I just need a cortisone shot and someone who can do it really well.

We have applied to the English Springer Spaniel Rescue Assn. to adopt a rescued Springer. There are quite a few in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, so hopefully we can get a nice dog in the near future. Judging by the application, I’d better pass my fingerprint test!

The City of Mansfield turned on the sprinklers to water the street medians yesterday. Signs of Spring are everywhere. Every time we tell someone how much we love the weather they tell horror stories about summer. I don’t care if we have to stay indoors for July and August, winter, spring and fall are just fantastic! (I’ll keep you posted as we head into the 3-month tornado season right around the corner!)

Sam and Dave

27 Jan 2013

Texas Update

Posted by Sam. No Comments

Greetings from “Nut Country,”

JFK, of course, knew better than anyone how “nutty” this part of the country is, but we are getting little hits of it every day. Most times it makes us laugh, but from time to time we just cringe. Really.

We changed from reading the Dallas Morning Star to the Fort Worth Star Telegram (sorry, James, I don’t know how to underline). It is a big difference and more to our liking, in that it includes Arlington news. Plus, the Dallas paper is much like the town: very chi chi, society-conscious, food crazy and generally over the top. California money cannot possibly touch Texas money and a lot of that is in Dallas.

So we wake up and read about the day’s murders: Dad kills kid in bathtub, kid kills mom and sister, mom kills 12 year old by withholding water, plus your usual accidents and drive bys. The big news today is the assault rifle bill. You cannot buy an assault rifle in Texas today; they have been sold out for weeks. Our county, Tarrant County, has the second largest population of folks permitted to carry concealed weapons. One out of every 49 people in this county are packing. (Dave asked the Mormon Missionaries if they were wearing kevlar backpacks. By their reaction, I’d say the Missionaries have never been asked most of the questions Dave asks.) Anyway, there are on-going classes for those wanting to carry a concealed weapon. Lots of rules in the class: You can’t carry a concealed weapon near most schools (!), polling places, or within 1,000 feet of where an execution is taking place on a designated execution day.

Having been a Mormon in good standing for over a year, I recently was given permission to go to the Temple in Dallas and participate in the Temple rituals. Prior to attending Temple sessions, one must meet with the ward Bishop and attest to being worthy of attending. Having forsaken wine and coffee, saying my prayers, passing the tithing test (I don’t tithe, because right now all we have is our money and Dave chooses not to.), I felt ready. When the Bishop asked me if I belonged to any organization that was harmful to the Church, it surprised me, and after thinking about it, I admitted, “I’m a Democrat.” He assured me I was in good company (he guessed) with Harry Reid, but ruined it all by remembering Glen Beck is also LDS.

Dave is cycling a couple of times a week with a group of Fort Worth Cycling Club folks who call themselves the Rusty Chain Gang. He has picked out maybe two people who have somewhat liberal leanings, but it’s hard. The ultra conservatives here outnumber us by so much, any leftist thought is generally left unsaid. He enjoys this group, though, and I do, too. We have monthly dinners and I’m even thinking about getting on the tandem again.

I have been looking for a part time job. I listed my skills and wishes at the employment section, on-line with the Fort Worth Star Telegram, and a day later began getting job notices. One of the better ones was for a Navy Seal. I still have trouble looking up things I have already done on line, but I’m sure I said I wanted a customer service job. Currently I am applying for a job as substitute teacher in the Mansfield School District. I think I will get it because they seem to take everyone. You don’t have to have a degree to sub teach in Texas. But you can’t be a felon!

Yesterday I planted pansies and kale in a pot on the front porch. It was 79 degrees. I am the only house in the neighborhood with flowers in the front yard, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only gardener, so the chances are good my neighbors know something I don’t. But I just needed to plant something.

All in all, we are happy here. We love being close to the kids and help out with transportation and whatever. Makes us feel needed. Plus, this place is nothing if not interesting. Where else would people consider erecting a 60 foot, flashing statue of Larry Hagman at the fairgrounds? Or how many times do you see a Humvee parked in the handicap space? The pictures of real estate ladies here look just like the pictures of “masseuses” in the same paper. If you didn’t think these things were funny, you might think about seceding from the rest of the States. I read the obituaries every day. Have for years. I believe that what people write about their loved ones’ passing illustrates the heart of the community. Yesterday I read of the passing of a young woman (42) and her obit read: Geneva transitioned to a better world on Thursday and today she is sitting at the feet of Jesus, singing him a beautiful song and crocheting him a sweater. How can you not love that!

Love to all,

Not just calamari in Dallas . .  Noooooo . . . .  Octopus . . . and  wood fired!

22 Oct 2012

Thoughts from Texas

Posted by Sam. No Comments

A few random Texas views from Sam & Dave.

First, Sam:

We are experiencing an uber-urban metropolis for the first time in our lives. Although towns like Plano and Grapevine are listed as their own entity on the maps, in truth we just blend into them. Looking out my backdoor is like looking at a block of English row houses. I love my little house (Dave thinks it is HUGE at 1700 sq. ft.), and it feels special, but in reality there are hundreds exactly like ours within a couple of square miles. This developer seems to have had four basic floor plans and didn’t like to deviate. Everything is brick exteriors over stick-built frames. Some brick is just painted. Virtually everyone has a fenced back yard and 98% of the fences are falling down. I’m looking for a little kudzu to cover the damned thing.

I have long had an unexplainable bias against Texans. Don’t know why, except when I was a foreman at the mill, we hired a Texan who thought my eyes were in the middle of my chest. When he found my eyes he would lick his lips. So that validated my belief that Texans were tasteless AHs. (The guy was a foreman or I would have found a way to fire him, maybe hurt him. He once said to me, “Sam, a woe-man without a bybee is lak always wantin a peanut butter cup and never gittin one.”)  Anyway, I haven’t met any of those type of folks here. Of course the fact that I’m mostly associating with Mormons might have some influence on that …. Texas women seem to fit the prototype of big, loud and a little brash … even Mormon Texans. So what’s not to like?

Well  . . . . maybe a few oddities: The Spam contest was HUGE program at the month-long Texas State Fair, and no joke either! Smith & Wesson makes a pink-handled hand for for breast cancer awareness. Texas classrooms follow the Pledge of Allegiance with the Pledge of Allegiance to TEXAS. Jamie told our kids they don’t have to say it – good for her!

We love being so close to the kids. For example, last week Susie called in a panic, she had run out of gas. Grampa went to help her and brought Xander home with a bunch of doweling which they made into arrows in the shop. Xander tipped them with pencil erasers, somewhat “sharpened.” Who’d have thought …. He will be eight in January is at a small window of his life where Gramma and Grampa are very important. We’re so grateful not to have missed it.  Xander will be baptized after his birthday and is already planning the event. He asked me if I would read a scripture at his baptism in Janueary,  and I said sure, what would you like me to read? He said, I’m not sure, would you also make a snack? At least once a week he asks me if I have thought of what snack I’m going to make. (Baptisms are usually well attended and there is a little party afterward.)

Jason is very busy at work on several projects, mostly updating training programs for a variety of military aircraft. Recently he experienced a LINK simulator at warp speed. Then he went out and bought a hot Triumph motorcycle. Well, maybe the two events weren’t linked, but he likes them both. He flew to Atlanta and drove the bike home. Midlife crisis resolved. Jamie is tolerating it, although with Susie driving and working now, they need two cars plus. Susie is a hostess at South of the Border restaurant, two nights a week and weekends. She’s a junior. Becca is a freshman and told me last week that yes, of course she is going trick or treating. “I’m going to go until I’m 18 and then I’m going to get married and have kids and go with them!”

Katie is in 6th grade, and like Xander, is pretty bonded with us. She rides her bike over and we bake or talk about boys. I loaned her my Planet Hollywood shirt for her school 80s party. Jamie works part time at a kinderschool down her block and has been accepted as a substitute teacher in the school system here in Mansfield. That will be a stretch for her, but I know she will do well and it will be good for her.  Anyway, if she never does anything else, she’s tops in our book for the way she has nurtured these kids.

I am very happy in the Mormon Church. I am learning about service and obedience, two totally new concepts for me. We feed the missionaries and attend an occasional ward picnic, but otherwise don’t spend a lot of time on church activities. I love the missionaries; they are such an important part of my testimony. Dave gives them a hard time (with affection). Recently, he spent a day repairing their bikes. For those of you not familiar with the Mormon Church, No, missionaries do NOT get a Swiss Army knife as a prize for conversions. (Dave always asked the them.) They are called Elders, not missionaries.

Love, Sam


Texas . . . . We are slowly settling in. We enjoy being so close to the kids. We are still important to the two little guys . . . . Sam picks up Xander from school on occasion when needed. Katie bikes over for a visit quite often. She and I get in a bike ride once in awhile. The two older ones are quite busy being high school girls. They call in emergencies, like when they run out of gas. We went to Katie’s band “concert” night at the school this week. Mostly scales and demos since they’ve only been playing a few weeks. We also share the dog, which is nice. . . . . have dog . . . . no expenses, other than food.

Susie, Xander and I went to an open house at Jason’s work place Friday. It was quite interesting, and informative. He’s the only guy from his company (DP Associates) based at the Link facility here . . . . you might remember Link as the inventor of the Link Pilot Trainer that was so famous in the second war to end all wars. They now are into really high-tek flight simulators and related products. Xander and Susie got to “fly” an a jet and two helicopters. They actually were quite good at it . . .  didn’t crash or anything. These things are pretty amazing, really. You sit in a cockpit and the view around you in a “bubble” style screen reacts to how you handle the controls. Just standing in the there and not “flying” it can give you quite a disconcerting feeling. Xander is quick to report that he shot down a helicopter.

The open house at L3 was followed by a Link employee “themed unit” chili cook-off (and hot dogs). That was a giggle.  Here’s my favorite chili cookers; they had a good time with it.












We drove the 50 miles up to Plano Friday so Sam could get some material from the Jo-Anns there, since she had bought it all out at the Arlington store. She was expecting a nice ride on two-lane rural blacktop, I guess, not the 50-70 mph hurtle through constant traffic on four to six lane speedways through constant retail and highway construction. They don’t call it the Megaplex for nothing. (It’s not the Dallas I experienced when I lived here in the 60’s.) You want rural you have to go SW of Ft. Worth, which I am able to reach on my bike w/o too much hassle. I usually  bike over and meet Sam after church on Sunday.

We also had our “Friday Night Lights” experience Friday night. Went to the Mansfield High football game. I was sure the stadium had to be the 60 million dollar job that’s so famous down here, but no, it was just the Mansfield ISD field . . . . about the size of the Rose Bowl if you leave off the end seats. It was Homecoming, so most of the girls, and some of the boys, were wearing these huge mum displays of a huge fake mum and ribbons down to their feet. The guys wore theirs on the arms. You’d have to say “typical Texas overkill.” The visiting team had a marching band that must have been 300 strong, not counting the girls flag team of maybe 50 plus. 13 xylophones on the sidelines, along with a few huge drums and gongs. It was damn impressive. I takes an 18-wheeler to carry the instruments. Mansfield also has a big band, and a bevy of “golden girls” with gold hoops. Mansfield band didn’t do any marching though. Mansfield won like 35 to 7 or something . . .  we left a little early to avoid the inevitable traffic jam. Any thing you have heard about Texas High School football is most likely true.

We have been the bulls-eye county for the West Nile Virus, although we haven’t seen many skeeters around here. Jamie and Sam make sure we are “Deeted Up” if we are out in a public park. It was one of the hottest summers on record, so we moved here just in time to fully experience that. Weather had cooled, though, and it’s quite pleasant right now . . . . in the high 70’s during the day. We haven’t seem much rain.

We are in the extreme SE corner of Arlington, so we consider ourselves Mansfielders. We’ve never lived in such a suburbia, so it’s another experience on the Swan life path. There are millions of people around the Metroplex but we see few out and around in the housing areas. The seem to live like Southern Californians. I ride my bike to the store, or the library, and it’s not much further than it was in New Bern, but it seems longer since routes are limited to major arteries, and route is between walled housing developments;  the view is mostly walls and rooftops. Luckily, there are pretty decent sidewalks everywhere so I can get off the street if the traffic thickens up.

Arlington is the home of both the Texas Rangers and the Cowboys. We followed the Rangers through the final meltdown, and Sam boos the Cowboys (She has never liked the cowboys). The Dallas paper is relentless in criticizing both. The sports section on a given day is bigger than the whole Bend Bulletin.

Sam keeps busy, among other things, making baby quilts. Since we no longer have enough people we know having babies she makes a lot of them for our Daughter-in-law Shelly’s hospital in Tacoma. They have babies that are abandoned or discharged to very poor people, and a baby quilt is so much nicer than a hospital receiving blanket for the baby to leave in. They have actually discharged new mothers who live in their car.

And, lastly, it was a sad day last week in Dallas when “Big Tex,” the 52-foot cowboy ikon that is erected at the State Fair entrance every year, caught fire and burned down to the metal frame. Many thought they had lost a much-loved family member, like a favorite uncle.

That pretty much catches us up.

Love to all,
Us Texans

  • Browse

  • Categories

  • Jason and Jamie's Links

  • Swans on the Go

  • Meta