2020 December 31 New Year’s Eve

Thursday, December 31, 2020.

Today 40° | Cooler. Showers and chance of thunderstorms in the morning then showers likely and chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs in the upper 40s. North winds 10 to 20 mph with gusts to around 30 mph. Chance of rain 100 percent.

At 7a.m. it was 35° and raining hard. Radar showed a large storm front heading straight North out of Mexico and the Gulf. West Texas getting frozen precipitation – snow or hail? At 5:30 I went out to get the mail. It was still raining so I drove to the mailbox. I could tell by the way it hit the windshield that there was snow mixed with rain.

Tonight 35° | Cloudy with a slight chance of showers and isolated thunderstorms before midnight then partly cloudy after midnight. Lows in the mid 30s. West winds 10 to 20 mph with gusts to around 30 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent.

THROWBACK THURSDAY

  • 2013 was Ella and my second winter in Texas and our first year in Liberty Hill. We had our Hitchhiker fifth wheel on a site in lovely Rio Bonito Cabin and RV Resort.

  • We settled on a Liberty Hill for what may appear to be an odd reason. The Liberty Hill United Methodist Church had a large sign on highway 29 advertising their annual Wild Game Feed. We saw it as we were headed back to Iowa in the spring.

  • I (maybe we) wanted to attend the wild game feed.

  • Once we knew we would be coming to Liberty Hill in the Fall of 2013, Ella contacted the Methodist church and requested to be put on their monthly newsletter’s mailing list. That way we could, in a small way, start becoming part of the community.

  • We also began researching RV parks in the area. Rio Bonito was contacted and reservations made for October 2013.

  • Ella also began emails with Pastor Randall. She described us as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.

  • The first time a visited the church, Pastor Randall shock hands and said, “I know who you are. I don’t remember your names, but I know who you are.”

  • It was shortly after that when he asked if I would be Santa for the town Christmas Parade. When I asked if they had a suit or should I wear my own, he called someone. I heard him say, “Mr. Williams is a man of stature.” That is the nicest way out ever been called big and fat. 😀

  • The day of the parade, we were introduced to Marissa (who later became our chiropractor) and her father. We rode in/on his antique Singer automobile. It was manufactured in England, but had a left-hand steering wheel. Though very sporty looking, it had only a 9hp engine. It was plenty fast enough to crawl along Main Street in the parade.

  • The following year we also lead the parade. That time on a tractor pulled hayrack.

  • I was scheduled for the parade in 2015. By that time I had begun working as a mall Santa. I request as received the scheduled day of the parade. However, due to rain, the parade was rescheduled for the following week. I was unable (and unwilling) to schedule another day off during the very busy mall Santa season. I contacted my friend Frank Smith (another white bearded man – though of less “stature”) to lead the parade.

  • Thursday is trash pickup day. I pray those men and others who have to be out in the storm.

Another day of playing Fast Track.

As I write this, we are in the last few hours of 2020. World wide this has been a year of terrible loss, our hardship and trials, of major adjustments in our private, social, and financial lives.

Ella and I have, for 8 (?) years, been snowbirds. We’ve pent summers in Iowa with family and friends (and gainful employment). Then March of 2020 hit with a strange new virus and 2020 became a four letter word. We continued to make plans to leave our Texas home for the summer. However, as March turned to April and April to May, the disease had become a full blown pandemic.

Ella and I, due to age and health, became “at risk” people. At that point it became apparent that we needed to stay “hunkered down” and forgo Iowa.

Spring became summer and summer in Texas can become quite warm. This is when our air conditioning decided to quit. Our collective six kids decided that our lifestyle was no longer sustainable.

Without the infusion of money from my summer job, we were (are) financially bleeding to death . We needed to close the leaking wounds in our monetary body. It also required some economic surgery. We needed to divest ourselves of storage units, Cutty’s Camping Club membership, and our trailer in Iowa.

Over Memorial Day weekend and the week following, Arik, Jenny, Amber, Linnea, Rob, John, Dawn, Brandon, Audrey, Jason, Nathan, Keith, and Joey worked a miracle. And I want to thank God for sliding so many pieces into place for it all to happen. Everything in Iowa was closed out.

The next step was to become Texas residents. To have Texas drivers licenses we needed to have Texas plates on our truck. To have Texas plates on the truck it needed to pass a Texas motor vehicle inspection. To pass a Texas inspection we needed to have insurance with our Texas address. We had a Texas addresses. Yay!

We got the insurance but failed the vehicle inspection due to a cracked taillight. On the way home, we stopped at O’Rielly’s auto parts. The taillight Assembly seemed awfully expensive. However, the young man at the counter assured me that they would match anyone’s best deal. I went online and found it for forty dollars less plus shipping. O’Rielly’s matched it and I bought it. However, they didn’t have it in stock at that store. But they could have it later that day. I said, “I’ll pick it up tomorrow.”

The next day I got the taillight assembly and installed it while still in their parking lot (just in case I needed anything else). From there it was back to the inspection place. Though I had to sit and wait for my turn in line, it was a quick look at the taillight and we were on our way.

Now, to get our drivers licenses. We needed birth and marriage certificates. We had gotten those while back in Iowa. We needed our Iowa licenses, and proof of a Texas address. Our new insurance card (on my phone) provided proof of address. However, due to the pandemic, all but one licencing place was by appointment only. We eventually got in and got our temporary Texas drivers licenses. I had checked a spot on the DL form to get a Texas voter registration. Ella didn’t see rusty question so never checked the box. She had to order a form through the mail.

We voted early. Not the first time, because our names were not in the system. We came back a week later and I was a registered voter but Ella was not. Ella cast a “provisional ballot.” Which meant her vote and her new registration form were placed in an envelope. On elevation day, the envelope was opened and her name was checked for registration. Since her name was now in the system, her vote was counted.

Early in the summer we began the search for an apartment in the area that we can afford. The search slowed to a crawl from November through December because of my hours in the Santa chair. Pray for us.

On other news, we have lost took many friends this year, some due to Covid and some for other reasons. We have had friends and family have Covid and recovered. Thanks be to God.

I’m glad that this year Will shortly be history. But I don’t expect the sun to immediately burst forth and bluebirds to begin singing. I also don’t expect to go back to “normal.” I expect a new normal to be found where people can once more gather with family and friends, where business’s, churches, cinemas, restaurants, and entertainment venues will once more become safe.

Have a safe and healthy 2021.

Good bless you all.

  • All content (except quotations) ©2020 Thomas E. Williams

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