Category Archives: Texas

Exodus: People moving to states with lower taxes and cost of living

I live in Texas, the destination of millions of people leaving states where they can no longer afford the costs of housing, child care, property taxes, and business costs. According to this article, sixty-six people per day moved into San Antonio from July 2016 to July 2017.  And somewhere around 100-150 a day are moving into Austin according to this article. Other states with low taxes and housing costs and plentiful jobs are seeing the same influx.

People seeking Economic Freedom

Just wondering how long until my birthplace  is ruined or if those other state’s voters will wake up and make necessary changes. Social programs are not meant to be the foundation of a state’s economy. People need jobs. They need power over their own lives and finances. When too many people are dependent on the government for basic necessities, the foundation begins to crack. Signs of problems include long waiting lists for subsidized housing, schools without funding, poor road conditions, idle able-bodied men and teens, overcrowded free clinics and public hospitals, closed down stores and factories, and companies moving business to other states.

Houston traffic congestion bumper to bumper

In Texas we are straining under the burden of the constant flow of new residents. The city and highway traffic is bad and the schools are crowded. There is not enough low-cost housing available in many cities and middle class job availability is shrinking. I have been searching the job listings and I am shocked at how little some of the jobs pay that require a college degree, not enough to pay rent or live on.

I have sympathy for these people, but I also worry about my state. It’s time for Democrat leaders to stop the destruction of their own state’s economies.  Stop catering to the rich and making promises they can’t afford to the poor. Rebuild their manufacturing and industry and create a technology infrastructure. Attract businesses by making it profitable to do business in their state. Conservative policies create jobs!

UPDATE: This popped up in my Facebook feed after I wrote this blog. https://fee.org/articles/new-census-data-show-americans-are-migrating-from-tax-punishing-states/

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Would you go in circles for 55 hours? I did!

Day 1 at Snowdrop ultra 55 hour race started off and stayed cold with bouts of rain all day and night . Round and round we ran and walked at every pace, through the increasingly slippery mud along the 0.69 mile loop around the lake and across a small bridge. Half the trail is dirt and half is concrete. I was stopping to eat a little snack regularly and drinking frequently as I passed the aid station every loop, but I still managed to get behind on my sodium intake and had bouts of nausea. I reached 45 miles by the time the evening meal was served so I stopped to eat . Then I got back at it for another 19 or so miles until I started getting very sleepy . I took a few hours off to sleep in my tent that I shared with two other runners. Around 4:30 I debated with myself over whether I should just quit and forego the buckle because my legs hurt so much. I couldn’t quit knowing that others suffered through much more , so clumsily with great slowness I changed my clothes. Then I groggily stumbled out into the misting darkness with the other determined souls , hoping to find coffee waiting. After a couple hours I stopped and ate bacon , eggs and hash browns for breakfast. Volunteers kept us fed and provided encouragement and medical attention for blisters and tight muscles round the clock. The food is a highlight of the event! Restaurant sponsors provide catered meals and there’s also a tent with hot and cold snacks always available, as well as the aid station along the course with typical offerings like pretzels and pickle juice, candy, chips, and every runner fuel you could want .

Starting line

Aid station

Last lap!

The warming tent has heat and hot food and drinks .

I loved seeing the water birds every lap.

My award buckle is a beauty and heavy !

The super cool bag we received full of race essentials.

Day 2 it was also cold and rained off and on. I developed very painful tendinitis in the side of my leg known is IT band syndrome and I could no longer perform a running motion, so from about mile 64 I was reduced to walking. It got so painful that I could barely walk up and down the very slight inclines. So I had to stop to stretch every loop after awhile . As I was stretching one time, Doc Lovy came along walking his loop and offered his assistance. Doc is a Vietnam vet who serves the race every year as chief of the medical staff. He also puts in at least a 50k . He did some things to my leg and told me to go straight to the medical tent to get more help, which I did. When I left the tent I was amazed that I could move much better! For a few minutes I actually ran again but it started to tighten up so I decided to just walk fast. I finally got 100 miles , 145 loops or laps, at 37.5 hours . This was over 6 hours slower than last year due to the knee pain but I was just happy to get there. I stopped to celebrate a bit with friends and drank a small Michelob ultra and a coffee and ate some food . Then I went back out for a few laps until I got sleepy.

Vietnam vet Doc Lovy

Team RWB dancing and cheering

The race director Patty Godfrey and founder Kevin Kline

That night was New Year’s Eve. I was freezing cold and had to make a decision to quit the race or continue . I decided to stay but I went to sleep in my tent . First I changed into warm dry clothes , as I had done several times already, because of the rain. Then I got in my sleeping bag wearing my clothes , beanie, and gloves with two Hot Hands hand warmer gel packs and tried to warm up . Laying there shivering suddenly I heard what sounded like a war starting up and it got louder and louder. Fireworks were going off all around the town for the next couple of hours . I’ve never heard anything like it! Between that and the generator next to my tent, it was very noisy . But eventually I stopped shivering and tuned out the noise and slept off and on until almost sunrise . I really wish I’d gotten up sooner but it’s not a huge deal . I would’ve maybe been able to add another 10 miles if I had started at 4:30am.

Day 3 , New Year’s Day brought us beautiful weather and was the most fun day. The beautiful but chilly sunrise brought a fresh energy and relief that it was no longer raining. Lots of “Happy New Year!”s were exchanged. My husband informed me of my standing in the race which he was following live online from home and said that I was moving up because many people had stopped at 100 miles which motivated me to push a little faster to get as many miles as possible by 2pm. Lots of people were ringing the 100 mile lap bell and there was an air of excitement all day with lots of cheering and high fives and dancing spectators! The eating and drinking continued with Papa John’s pizza served for lunch. I skipped the gluten as usual and had eggs and bacon again for breakfast and lunch.

That day many of the runners had stopped and either gone home or were spectating so there was a lot less traffic on the course. Grimacing, slow moving runners and walkers were being lapped by the faster relay teams. Today was the day for lots of chatting with fellow pilgrims . Also I continued my prayers, listening to music , and interacting with the crowd. The time passed quickly! My strategy wasn’t very carefully planned but I was doing a few laps then taking a water break, with the goal of a minimum of two miles per hour but in reality I was closer to 2.5 mph. I had no firm goal past 100 at first but then I tentatively chose 115 miles. I calculated , with much effort , that my pace was good enough so I decided to try to hit 120,then I figured I should continue until the clock ran out so I did and ended up with 121.5 miles, 8th female of 73 females, 21st overall of 146. If I hadn’t decided to do one more lap , I would have been 9th female.

There were 7 minutes left on the clock , not enough for a lap so I stayed to watch the exciting finishes of the last runners. Unlike many trail ultras, this race had a lot of cheering, an excellent announcer, and many people watching their friends and family victoriously cross the finish line. After the awards ceremony, I helped break down our camp then loaded my van and drove home. I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes just processing the whole experience, feeling very grateful and happy. Leaving an event like this is always kinda sad , after being so focused and so supported and encouraged, now it’s time to face the real world again where my husband and kids need me to do things.

Well I got home and barely had one day of rest during which I did laundry and cooked and took care of my daughter who was now sick . I didn’t get much sleep Wednesday night , got up early and realized she was so sick that I had to get her to the hospital . I was still too sleep deprived to drive her alone so I called for an ambulance . Then I drove myself to the hospital . As of this writing we are still in the hospital and will probably be here a week or more as she has RSV and pneumonia and we are in the pediatric intensive care unit . She’s getting great care and I’m finally getting to rest . My legs are still swollen from the race. I just watched the movie Bird Box , which I’d heard mentioned but knew nothing about the plot or even the topic. I liked it. But why does Sandra Bullock never smile in her movies?!

If you are interested in trying a fixed time race, I highly encourage it. They are growing in popularity. This race sold out in less than an hour this year ,so be ready! I believe registration is in March.

If you can , please donate to the cause. Race donations are still being accepted. https://thedriven.net/nfundraising.donate_individual_new/indviId/9763/eid/9833023589

If we, I mean, We will make it through December! Race week !

I started this post on Wednesday night. It was going to be about how crazy the past two weeks have been. Then I woke up Thursday morning feeling renewed. Hmm, I thought. Looked at the calendar, yep, it’s a New Moon! Still a crazy couple of days, but I feel a new sense of hope that it will get better. I don’t think everyone is as aware of moon cycles and spiritual things as some of us, so they just think it’s all random or caused by this or that and they try to fix those things and when they feel better they think they fixed it , not realizing the changing moon cycles were at least partly responsible.

Wait!, you say. I thought this was a Christian blog! It is ! But God made the moon and the moon has strong effects on the earth, so why would it not affect the people God also made? Do I worship the moon or think that I should be very concerned about it, no. I trust that God is more powerful than anything He created. I pray constantly for His help and I feel his presence in my life , especially during crises. God is in charge!  He can even blacken the sun when he wants to make a big point.

The road has been rocky for the past two weeks. Everyone has been passing around a virus which meant that eventually my daughter would catch it and she did. I had to put her on oxygen to help her breathe on Wednesday, but Thursday she was looking much better! All this sickness meant we got very little school work accomplished, but we did work on math and reading. Today my husband feels terrible so I will be taking care of him as well as her.

The other things that have happened have been mentioned I think, unexpected plumbing expenses, car troubles and expenses, no money for Christmas, stress and worry over a depressed husband and son, my own sickness, not being able to get out and run this week, and trying to be ready for a race this weekend with all this on my mind. We also missed Bible Study class yesterday due to the virus. But God is good and I just keep praying and asking my friends to pray. Oh, yeah, after a few nice sunny days, it’s now raining and will be raining during the race unless God answers my prayers to change the weather. I have a pretty good record with God giving me good weather for races, so I try not to complain. My best friend lives in upstate New York and it seems to rain every time she races! I don’t want to live there.

The race will be exciting! Rain or not. There will be some famous elite runners there as well as many sub-elites. Ian Sharman, (UPDATE :Sharman won the 50 miler in around 6 hours in mud!) who until recently held the 100 mile Trail record, Gordon Ainsleigh ( I didn’t see him), the father of the famous Western States 100, some of the Tarahumara runners from Mexico might be there , and many other fast runners  are coming in from around the country to this lil’ ol’ state park in Texas that is mostly known for its’ large alligator population, many small lakes and bird-watching. Many of my friends will be there, some attempting their first 100 mile distance, others running other distances or volunteering or pacing.  This event was recently chosen for the 100 mile Trail Championship race for 2019 which is a big deal for the race director, who is a friend of mine, so congratulations to Robert Goyen of Trail Racing Over Texas (TROT)! https://trailrunner.com/trail-news/usatf-mountain-ultra-trail-council-announces-2019-national-championship-races/ 

 

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Brazos Bend State Park 

I did my packet pickup, errands and weekly grocery shopping yesterday, so today I will be trying to ‘rest’ for my race while I take care of everyone and do my usual cooking and chores. I know most runners do not get to rest much before a marathon and I usually don’t,  so this is not a big deal. But I’m glad I don’t have to go into Houston like I did yesterday! The traffic!  I am just not fond of the city anymore after 15 years of country living. But I have to be thankful that  I did get in and out fairly quickly and with no trouble, not counting the time I had to circle around  for awhile to get in the lane I needed to get on the freeway. I felt a slight urge to hit some of the millions of stores in Houston, but instead, I headed west on I-10, away, away! I stopped at Buc-ees for a soda and ended up doing some Christmas shopping there.

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Every good road trip includes a stop at Buc-ees

 

What is Buc-ees? It’s a gigantic gas station with over 60 gas pumps at this location and a huge carwash, a restaurant (BBQ and sandwiches) and bakery, clean restrooms, a huge convenience store with every imaginable snack and drink item and coffee, AND a huge gift shop! In other words, a Texas-sized gas station. Take a look here . It’s quite impressive! However when I got home I looked at my receipt and found that I had been charged for a sandwich I didn’t buy, which made me a bit upset since that store is not known for it’s bargain prices. I sent them an email which is the only way to contact them. I’ll update if I get a refund. ( Update: I got a refund !)

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Mmm, Beaver Nuggets! (Sugar coated corn snacks)

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Some fun gifts I bought for my sister in Utah who is always positive 🙂

Well, my time is up. Sick husband is trying to cook himself food and it’s not going well. Have a good day my friends!

Deuteronomy 4:15 “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. 19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.20 But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day. 

My week in photos (and a few words)

 

Somehow I managed to get on the trails four days in a row!  Hiking with hubby after Thanksgiving. The crunchy , leaf-covered trails were a delight to my soul.

My daughter and son are both sick. Here she was getting a ‘vest’ treatment’, in which the vest inflates with air and shakes her lungs. In the middle photo, they were moving the chicken house so the chickens can peck up all the the grass in a new spot. And that’s my tired pooch, Ellie,  after a busy day of running and barking.

I had trouble concentrating on schoolwork this week. So I took the kids hiking. The trees are so colorful! And it was fun watching my kids play on the playground for a few minutes. Teenage boys are tough to understand sometimes, but we often have very interesting and open conversations when we go hiking.  We covered 4 miles that day and some deep topics.  Whew.

Thanks to a Facebook friend, we got tickets to the Houston Zoolights event and even thought it rained that day, it stopped and we went. My daughter doesn’t respond to much, but she loves colorful lights! Highly recommend.

 

I wasn’t planning on Cyber Monday shopping, nor did I shop on Black Friday except for my groceries, but I happened upon a super 1/2 price deal on some running fuel ( sugar) and got this box of goodies. The other photos is the traffic on the highway. Thank God for Google Maps and alternate routes!

 

Yay for running in colder weather !

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A frosty morning
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Beautiful sunrise

 

I say ‘colder’ weather, because it is relative and people always think their weather is the worst, hottest, or coldest. I know for many our temps were not very cold, but we do have some pretty hot and miserably humid days that last for many months so , as I said, it’s all relative.

Here in Southeast Texas, most of us are not acclimated to temperatures below 50 degrees , especially with wind or rain. Me personally, I love cold weather and you could say I live for these days because they are so rare. I feel like a kid with a new toy when I get to wear long sleeves, sweaters and even a coat and hat sometimes!  So when I see anything below 60 degrees in the forecast I get super excited and start planning my runs. Last week  we had some very cold (for us) days that started in the 20s and 30s and there was even snow in the northern parts of Texas. We get excited , y’all! Of course, my poor husband was not too excited, nor my oldest son, because they work in unheated, open mechanic shops where they almost freeze their poor hands and noses off . Sorry, guys. I am going to enjoy this!

So one day I bundled up in my tights, long sleeves, gloves and beanie  and ran 6 miles on the trails and felt like I had really done something, lol! Then another day it wasn’t quite as cold , but I still felt the wind when headed north, and I was able to get in a good 16 mile run on the roads. To be honest it warmed up to almost 60 by the end of that run but some of my friends still thought it was cold. 🙂 I wasn’t able to get out and run Thursday or Friday because I do have other responsibilities even though it may not seem like it. So by Saturday morning I was well-rested and super ready to run. I went to bed early Friday, barely slept and got up at 4AM to go meet a friend at a park where we ran 20 peaceful and lovely cool miles together.

Unfortunately, nasty cold rain returned that evening and all day Sunday. Today I ran on the treadmill to avoid the rain, which changes everything for me. I do not like cold and wet!  I am already counting the days until I get to run another long run, most likely on trails on Friday, which in the U.S, we call Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving which is this Thursday. And , good news, it’s going to be nice and cool!

 

How about you? What is your favorite running weather ? Do you hibernate in the cold months or enjoy winter activities?

Enjoy the Little Things

It’s that time again! No, not pumpkin spice everything time. Hummingbird migration time! I know I’m not alone in loving the little, buzzing birdies because there are photos everywhere on social media. Today I stood three feet away from the feeder and still ended up with sub-par pictures of the hungry horde. I just couldn’t get my phone camera to focus fast enough and my background is pretty terrible. Hello barn!  A real camera with a zoom would be nice. But it was still fun to stand so close and hear and see them. Here are a few of the better photos that I tried to enhance a bit to make them easier to see. Use your imagination! I love the ruby-throated ones, but we have more of the green ones. I also love hawks, painted buntings,  and water birds which we have in good supply.

Today has been a busy day. I ran 3 miles, my first run since my race and injury. I was slow and it still hurts a little,  but it felt good to move again. Then my kids and I spent a long time on our Bible study lesson because we had to look up tons of verses, actually big chunks of the Old Testament. After that I tried to refresh their math skills. Why do they seem to retain so little from last year ? And the last subject for today was Life Science. They are studying about ecosystems, which I find interesting. I know it sounds like we didn’t do much, but I like to ease into the school routine, for my sake and theirs!

I’m thankful for this day. I’m blessed to be a stay-home mom who can look at birds while drinking coffee and study the Bible with my kids after a nice run. I may not have a fancy car or clothes, but I appreciate the little things !

How was your day? Are you a birdwatcher? What kinds do you get excited about?

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Paddling on Lady Bird Lake with my kids in Austin

(NOTE: This actually happened last month, but I forgot to post it.)

 

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In front of the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum. My babies. ❤  

Kids grow up so fast. I have six children.  The older three have pretty much established their own lives, and my daughter is a perpetual child, due to her condition.   But my two youngest are quickly approaching the years when we will be seeing less of them because they’ll be driving and working. I want to fit in as much life with them as I can before it’s too late, doing stuff, learning, making memories, building relationships.

So yesterday we headed out for adventures unknown.  My sister was available to take care of my daughter and circumstances were fairly good for me to go away for one night. Our first stop in our destination city was to rent  some kayaks for the first time ever on the lake in the city of Austin. Not Lake Travis, which is a popular and large lake outside of the city. Lady Bird Lake, or as it was called when I was a student there, Town Lake, runs right through the city of Austin. It’s more like a river in that it’s long and cuts the city in half, north and south. The interstate and city streets cross over the lake. Here’s a map.

After a little trouble finding the place, we faced our anxiety, we are all a bit anxious, and actually left the van and went inside the kayak rental place.  Thankfully the people were easy-going and experienced with newbies . We rented single kayaks for each of us. I was determined to do this even though my kids were not making it easy on me. I tried to seem confident that this was going to be fun!  Inside I was praying that no one would drown! I decided to change clothes which turned out to be a good idea .

We were told to walk down path where we’d find a dock and boats. We did that and found two young guys hanging out. They helped us get into our boats and off we went! We took a little time to get used to paddling in a nearby cove, which was easier than expected since there was barely any current, then headed up to where the first bridge crosses. There was a guy fishing in a small boat under the bridge, some ducks and geese floating around, lots of turtles ducking under the water, and some people doing who knows what down there under the bridge in the little parking area. The kids and I  loved it. ( Wish I was there now!)

Six lanes of interstate traffic were slowly moving over our heads. We paddled a little past the bridge and encountered a slight wind pushing us back and lots of floating leaves and trash which we were surprised to see. After a little while longer I asked them if they wanted to go to the next bridge or  go back to the dock.  They were getting tired so we turned around. I noticed the time would be close to one hour by the time we returned and you pay by the hour, so, being the always money-conscious mom,  I decided to pick up my pace and try to beat the clock, thus saving a few bucks.  I let the boys go at their own pace. I glided up to the dock and the friendly and helpful young guys at the dock helped me out of my boat.   A couple of minutes later my kids made it to the dock and climbed out while I chatted with the dock guys.

Life is short. Try new things! I’m so glad we did. If you are in the area, I recommend Live Love Paddle on Riverside! Easy access and reasonable prices. The people in the rental office were super nice as well. My only regret is that I didn’t take my phone with me so I didn’t get any photos! Next time! A couple of suggestions. 1. Wear your bathing suit, a hat and sunglasses. 2. Bring one of those plastic things you wear around your neck that you can put your phone in . 3. Bring water and a snack if you want to stay out there over an hour. Happy paddling!