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The Way I See It
By: Joseph C. Phillips

Old Fashioned Marriage Part 5: Moral Standards
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Film Reviews By:Nathaniel Bell

Uninspired by a True Story
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In My Opinion
By L.N.P.

Greetings From Texas


My husband has laid down the law. He was very patient about the length of time it took me to write a new column, taking into account my frantic work schedule, my daughter's bridal shower and wedding, and our move to Texas . But he recently discovered that my column alludes to Easter, and I guess that was the last straw. Just too embarrassing.

So I gave in, and decided that to keep peace at home and satisfy my ardent fans (all three of them) I'd finally write a new column. Now for the real problem; so much time has elapsed that it's hard to know where to start.

The 3-day road trip from California to Texas went surprisingly well. At first I was slightly concerned about pulling a U-Haul and fitting Maxi, our 125 lb. dog and his little sister Lucy, a 20-lb. dog, plus coolers, suitcases, bedding, a TV etc. into our (small) SUV, but everything fit and we were off. After the first couple of hours of hyperactivity, the meds prescribed by our vet (God bless him) kicked in and Max was trippin'; in fact, Max thought the entire experience was a trip and by the third day he couldn't wait to get in the car. I'm pretty sure it was because he enjoyed getting high. Meanwhile, Lucy didn't need medication; she slept like a baby throughout the trip, except for an occasional snuggle on my lap to look out the window and peruse the countryside. And countryside it was—hundreds of miles of basically uninhabited land. The main thing one can say about the trip from Los Angeles to College Station is that it's long.

During many of those long stretches we were unable to get radio reception. Since Jim had efficiently packed up all our CDs, we resorted mostly to conversation, much of which went something like this. “Look….tons of cows.” “Wow!” “Check it out…..sheep.” “Yeah.” “What a beautiful horse.” “Uh huh.” “Uh oh….roadkill.” “Yuck.” One of the highlights of our trip were the rest stops, which totally amazed us. Right out there in the middle of nothing, we'd suddenly see a sign for a rest stop, and they were all unfailingly clean, graffiti-free, paper dispensers filled, with picnic areas, places for the dogs to do what dogs do, grassy areas with plenty of shade—way more than we could have expected.

But the best rest stop was when we crossed the border into Texas . First of all, we never actually noticed when we passed through other states, but Texans are so proud of their state that you can't help but notice; they welcome you with a huge arched sign, banners, the ubiquitous Lone Star, and the biggest rest stop we'd ever seen, presumably because everything is bigger in Texas . Max did his part by immediately getting out and impressively christening his new home state. We were halfway through our trip. All we had left was the rest of Texas.

The other highlight was the two motels we stayed in. We'd done our research well, and had identified motels that would accept dogs—not just dogs, but dogs over 100 pounds, a much more narrow category. Turns out these motels are NOT located in the best areas of town; we probably should have figured that out, but then again, we didn't have much choice. Both nights Jim fretted over the safety of our car and U-Haul, parking it directly under the brightest light possible to insure against someone messing with our stuff. Thankfully, everything was safe and sound in the morning. At night I walked both dogs down some alleys and behind buildings I would never have walked in alone. But, with a 125 lb. dog in tow, I felt completely invulnerable—I got lots of polite hellos from some big, tatted, scary-looking biker types, but no one came near me.

Arriving at our new home was wonderful; it looked so beautiful nestled in the trees just as we remembered it. Going inside was a different story. Doing our due diligence, we'd had the house sprayed for insects a week before we came out. Clearly, the insecticides had done their job well. The floors were littered with a variety of unsavory creatures of all sizes, including june bugs the size of small cars. Needless to say, my first impression was not good. Once we came to grips with the fact that they were all dead, just as we wanted them, and cleaned up their remains, I calmed down and began unpacking. Since then, the house has come together beautifully, and we haven't seen another bug.

We've been here almost a month now, and life has been good. The view out my study window: trees. The view from Jim's office: trees. We had a fence constructed in the backyard and a dog door installed so Max ands Lucy can go frolic in what I'm sure they consider “doggy heaven. At the very least, I know they think we bought them their own park! I can undress at night right in front of my bedroom window and only the squirrels will know. It's easy to find our way around, and we laugh at the native's concept of “traffic.” Everyone is polite, friendly, and courteous, especially while driving. If you signal that you need to get into their lane, people actually slow down and wave you in. Shocking after L.A. , where people seemed to speed up rather than let another driver get ahead of them.

Perhaps even more shocking; everyone we've come in contact with—in the stores, in the fast food joints, in the gas stations, at the DMV—speaks English. Yes, I know, I'm being politically incorrect, but guess what? It's awfully refreshing to find people who are happy to give you directions, or take your order, or help you find something down an aisle—all of which happens all the time—and have them do it in English, so you actually understand them. No matter their country of origin, their race, their religion, their manner of dress; they respect other people enough to be courteous to them, and they respect this country enough to learn its language. And I love that.

Send me your opinions at LParis@netlistings.com

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