We've been in Texas for about a month, and are finally sort of settling into a groove. Both the kids have started school, and we're learning about the local customs and quirks.
Local customs and quirks? Yep.
Texas is the best, and the rest of the US can just go take a seat. If you are not openly proud to be here, you will be lynched. (6,000 extra points if you were born and raised here.)
You must be prepared for people (in their huge trucks and SUVs) to take full ownership of the road. You, my friend, are simply borrowing it - it belongs to them, and don't you forget it!
People will be nice to you, because that's what Southerners do, but they are really pretty tired of new people. New people = anyone who wasn't born here, basically. I took my daughter to Urgent Care our first week here, and the doctor informed me that I wasn't welcome. He said he's been here 20 years, and people only recently stopped seeing him as an outsider. Oy vey.
The houseflies are the same size as horseflies, so don't be alarmed. (Like my daughter, who started crying hysterically when she saw one for the first time).
Skunk. Here in Austin (just outside of Lakeway) skunk odor is a way of life, and you best learn to like it. They. Are. Everywhere. They are dead on the road as often as squirrels were in my hometown, and those buggers are PUNGENT. They say the senses of smell and taste are pretty much the same, and I never really bought it
, until now. I now know what skunk TASTES like. (It's like the bitter taste of lemon rind, combined with the 'penny' taste of blood. You're welcome.)
Racoons. Yeah, more critters. They love garbage, BTW. I have been an adult-type human for over 20 years now, and have never once had a raccoon in my garbage - until I moved to Texas. That lid better close tightly, or you are gonna be picking up the remnants of a raccoon smorgasbord for months, because those little shits spread your trash every-freaking-where. Including amongst the cacti that grow like weeds out here. It's so much fun to pick paper plates and Ziploc bags out of razor sharp beds of cactus. /sarcasm
Deer. Again, with the critters.
These, however, have been purely decorative at this point. We live across the street from a huge lake, and apparently they really like that awesome, fresh water source. They are great... until they stand in the middle of the road and look at you like "What? I'm chillin' here." They are pretty cool, I have to admit. I was driving little one to school one morning, and one was standing there. Of course Ollie (my dog) was hanging out the window, and she and the deer just froze, staring at each other. I swear, the look on the deer's face read "You are the smallest, ugliest deer I've ever seen. Begone with you!"
Dogs. Critters, more critters!
There are a good many dogs in my neighborhood, and an awful lot of them run amok off-leash. This is not something I'm used to at. all. Luckily, they are all (so far) very nice, or otherwise harmless little ones. There's Napoleon, Diamond, Amber, Bug, and unknown Siberian Husky that I've met so far, off-leash. Everyone in my old neighborhood was so vigilant about the leash thing, that this has come as a bit of a surprise to me! Problem is, now my dog wants to be free-range.
Moss grows on all the trees. But not the Spanish Moss I'm used to, from Savannah. This is different... it's something called Ball Moss, and it gets everywhere. It looks like tiny balls of aloe, or some other succulent, clinging to the trees. BUT... apparently it's harmful, and you're supposed to remove it. It's SO CUTE, though. *sniff*
Beer. They are damned proud of their beer. Shiner Bock, need I say more?
People honk their horns at you, even if you've done nothing wrong. Like, say, you have to stop at a red light, but the person behind you is going 85 in a 60 and has to stop suddenly - that's your fault, and you better just deal, buttercup. You are getting honked at with the same intensity as if you had sat at a green light until it changed, and then attempted to run over a puppy. In my first three weeks, I was in an accident, needless to say. (I'm not hurt, and neither was anyone else. :))
OK, so maybe that was a lot of complaining. So let me tell you about some of the awesomeness.
Awesomeness #1 - 84 degrees in March. 84 DEGREES. Pure awesomeness. I love the heat, and I have been soaking up every single nice day like my life depends on it.
Awesomeness #2 - My view. I can see the massive lake from my front porch, and I can't stop staring. It is so peaceful, and beautiful that I am out there on the deck as much as possible - one of my first purchases was two chairs for the deck. Forget the house, gimme my deck chairs!
Awesomeness #3 - The lake, again. In the homeowners park, you can sit at a picnic table right at the water's edge. The wind blows your hair, and you can hear the water rushing, and lapping, and it almost feels like you are at the beach. It is flat-out gorgeous.
Awesomeness #4 - So many restaurants here are really really kid-friendly, and even have playgrounds for the kids to run amok in while waiting for the food. (And I'm not talking McDs... I'm talking nice, sit-down restaurants, ones with wine!) Best idea ever!
Awesomeness #5 - Texas Mountain Laurel. It is everywhere, and I adore it. It's so beautiful.
Awesomeness #6 - The Kid's Wing. The house we are renting here has an entire 'kids wing' that can be shut off from the rest of the house. How cool is that?
Awesomeness #7 - Skylights. Our house is full of skylights, and huge windows. The amazing view is never far away. :)