We’re back in Texas and “I’m in a Lone Star State of mind”*. We’re back on our ranch in the Hill Country. I may not sound much like a Texan, but I’m a Texan by Choice. Afterall, it is here that my North American adventure began way back in 1977.
* Lyrics by Koller/Alger/Griffith/Williams
Our first morning on the ranch is starting out a bit chilly. But in Central Texas, even a weak-ish January sun will warm you up in no time flat.
Yesterday afternoon, when we walked the land on the ridge where the house is located to assess drought damage, it was beautifully warm hiking weather. More importantly, though, the majority of our oaks and junipers appears reasonably healthy. An assessment of the mesquite down below in the flats leading to the dry wash will have to wait till the new leaves come in late April. I also have to check on the persimmon, but all in all, we were very fortunate. There’s much less damage than we feared. And after some solid rains, we have fresh green sprouting here and there. It may be only weeds, but it’s crisp and juicy. The moist earth looks richly black and I hope my unicorns will soon be fat and glossy again.
Before we drove out to the ranch, I wanted to submit my application for citizenship. An action only about 30 years in the making – what do they say? Better late than never! Now that I’ve received the German Government’s permission to remain a proper old German lady, I’m finally ready to ask the US government, if they want me, too. To that end I spent my first day back on US soil at the computer, checking and re-checking the ten pages of the USCIS naturalization form N-400. Then it was off to Kinko’s, well, these days it’s called ‘FedEx Office’, where they print such valuable documents and ship them safely. On the way there I stopped for passport-style pictures and an Nº2 pencil, with which to gently print my name and alien number on the back of each picture. Yes, ‘They’ do number us aliens, to better keep track of us.
By filing my application, I’m now no longer allowed to leave the country. ‘They’ also like to keep us within easy reach, should additional questions arise. Or just for sport. We are, after all, aliens.
Let’s not forget the money needed for a naturalization. Including the cost of the dual-citizenship permission, photos, shipping and application fees, adding in that Nº2 pencil, I’ve spent $1,100.22 on this naturalization process, so far. One better be serious about it!
Traveling day. We’ve been sorting, packing, boxing, tucking away for a good solid two weeks. Not much left to do. Really? Enough to keep us busy till it was time to leave for the airport. A different route this time, first going to Santa Eulalia, where our boyz, Arfy and Barfy, otherwise known as Vandal and Otto are going to stay with their foster brothers Max and Sem, the chocolate labradors of our friends, till we return. I hope, we’ll miss them more than they’ll miss us!
At Juan Santamaría Airport everything went smoothly, resulting in quite the boring wait at the gate. Our stop-over in rainy Houston was the usual port-of-entry hassle, but we had time enough for an interesting snack of avocado and edamame hummus with a glass of wine before embarking on our last leg to Austin.
I was limping more than usual, though, owing to my clumsy attempt to bag the garbage, when we were preparing to leave ‘Casa dos Leones’. It resulted in a 12oz plastic bottle hitting my foot just so. Unfortunately, the bottle was not empty.