Wednesday, October 1, 2014
In No Particular Order, 31 in 31 - Day 1
Happy October! I realize I've been away awhile, but this month I'm challenging myself to do 31 posts in 31 days and hopefully reestablish some kind of more regular blogging habit. I miss this! Anyway, I've decided that for the month of October, I'm going to do one of my favorite things: make lists. The lists will cover a variety of topics and all information contained within will be listed in no particular order of significance or importance. The lists themselves will also be posted in no particular order of significance - though there are a few lists that might require being posted on a particular date for whatever reason I deem necessary. Click the title-picture above to get a list of all my 31 in 31 posts.
Let's get started on Day 1.
Thirty-one things I've learned about Texas life since moving to Texas a couple months ago.
1. I know now why Texas is called the Friendly State. People everywhere seem just so delighted when we strike up a conversation with them and often we are approached in the most random places by friendly people who want to chat or lend a hand with something. My CA/NH/NM sensibilities had me really on edge and suspicious of these friendlies, but I'm learning to relax and appreciate the gracious people of Texas (though many immigrants to the state -- people like us -- still carry their stranger-danger chips on their shoulders, so there is that here, too, as more and more people move to Houston from other places).
2. I know now that Texas is mostly living in the past (at least down here in East Houston). We read all about Houston and the surrounding area and all the great new things happening, the medical advances, the new theme park being built and the more contemporary culture here. By and large, compared with our prior states of residence, this area is still kind of in the dark ages. People tend to do things the old fashioned way. People seem less trusting of newfangled contraptions and businesses and would rather stick to the tried and true. There are still malls and Apple stores and high-tech grocery stores, but something tells me those are to appease the newcomers more than the multi-generational Texans.
3. TexMex food tastes better in Texas. It just does. Trust me.
4. Weather forecasts are more for entertainment than for making any plans in your day or week. So far, just about every day that has predicted sunshine and no rain, has at least sprinkled on us from a passing cloud. So far, though, the rain doesn't really change the temperature or weather, so we just roll with it and sometimes end up a little soggy.
5. The water along the Gulf Coast is very warm. Bathwater warm. Then summer ends and it gets uncomfortably cold very fast. What gives?!
6. Rodeos rock.
7. Christianity is just part of the everyday culture in Texas. There are godly people everywhere we go. Christian faith is the norm here, everyone else has to make do -- put up or shut up. I'm a Christian, so of course, from my perspective, this is great.
8. Critters are the norm. If we go a day or two without seeing insects, reptiles, opossums, deer, raccoons, etc., we must have traveled out of state for the day and not realized it.
9. In Texas, speed limit signs and traffic lights are merely advice and not really recognized as law. And I'm not just saying this because of my accident caused by a red-light runner. It's everyday! If you drive in Texas, be defensive and alert.
10. Texans drive worse in parking lots than they do on the roads. (I miss my backup camera.)
11. Hatch chiles are available here. And here we thought that was just a New Mexico thing.
12. National chain restaurants with Texas in the name, generally have better food AND service in Texas. I'd never assume that to be true, but we have found it to be so. If you enjoy Texas Roadhouse in any other state, I dare you to come try one out in Texas. So good.
13. Gas prices are much better here. Okay, so I kind of knew this, but living it is entirely different.
14. Grocery prices are cheaper. This is mostly true if you're buying regular stuff. If you're getting high end groceries, I think those are pretty much expensive everywhere. Buying local goods is especially cost-effective.
15. Housing prices are cheaper, BUT are slowly on the rise. Houston is booming. More and more people are getting wind of the nice life down here in SE Texas and so the housing market is tricky. There are still a lot of homes for good prices, but being prepared to jump on a sale the second it goes on the market is imperative. Act fast, bid strong. Our mistake was not getting full approval before trying to buy -- we just had a pre-approval and figured that was good enough.
16. The zoning laws (or lack of them) is really a trip! So far, the most beautiful homes we've found are like across the street from a factory or a warzone (sometimes it's hard to tell). They'll be two doors down from a trailer park or an apartment complex or a strip mall. And these locations don't really seem to affect the price/value of the home that much.
17. Land is still not very cheap. Finding low-cost housing is much easier if you don't mind being RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the neighbors. If you want some open space, the price increases drastically -- even in the most desolate areas.
18. Come Sunday evening, most restaurants and stores are closed. Sunday is for sure our eat dinner at home day (or make it and take it) because like 3 out of 4 restaurants are closed after the Sunday morning brunch rush. Well, there is always a McDonald's somewhere.
19. Sweet tea is deathly sweet and the unsweet tea here is kind of terrible. Except some places. It's hard to find a good glass of unsweet tea.
20. The humid environment in Texas makes me more thirsty than a dry climate. I thought I was thirsty while living in the desert, but it's nothing compared to living in a rainforest where the weather constantly draws out every bit of moisture in your body.
21. The stereotypical Texan accent is actually not as big a deal as I thought it would be. It's hard to find people who speak with an accent any different than my own. I'm a little disappointed. Lots of people still say "y'all" though. This makes me smile every time I hear it.
22. Most locals complain about the beaches being too ugly here. (I'm just glad to have beaches at all!)
23. October doesn't necessarily mean cooling temperatures. It was just 98dF here today.
24. The oil refineries really stink on hot days, but remind me of Christmas at night.
25. Snakes to watch out for here in SE Texas are Copperheads, Water Moccasins and Coral snakes.
26. Dangerous spiders here are the Black Widow and the more poisonous Brown Recluse.
27. Western wear is basically a must have to attend a rodeo (and not stand out like a sore thumb).
28. It takes a TWIC card to get called on to do some moonlighting at any of the industrial sites. There's probably more to it than that, but a server told us all about it one night and that's what I remember. When we saw our local TWIC office, I just assumed it stood for Texas Women, Infants and Children. I was incorrect.
29. When on the highways and freeways, I may not always know exactly where I am, but most of them seem to get you where you intend to go. It's a weird phenomenon. This may not be a huge Texas fact and more of a Houston fact ... but either way, it's something I've learned while living here.
30. So many things are more economical here, but anything unnecessary is usually more expensive. Maybe that's more of a big city thing, too, but memberships to zoos and museums in New Mexico were far more economical -- of course out here they're way more awesome, too.
31. Texans tend to drive fast (except the tractors) and work slow. So wherever you go, don't expect fast service. Do expect generally good service at a slow pace and a lot of good conversation.
See y'all tomorrow!