Maybe Frugal Is Overstated


I stopped by my son and daughter-in-law’s on my way home from Houston on Wednesday. It had been a very long, but productive day. In reality, I only had a few minutes to share, but since it was only about twelve miles out of the way, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for an in person connection. Nothing feels better than a hug and hearing: “Granddad I love you.” Actually, I guess that ranks right up there with: “Dad, I love you”. As luck would have it, I heard both on Wednesday.

My oldest grandson intercepted me as I came through the garage immediately after my arrival. “Granddad – I want you to come to my room”. There was a sound of excitement in his voice. He added, “You’ve got to see my salamanders”!   I followed him to his room.

First of all, I couldn’t believe the size of the fully equipped glass terrarium that was now home to two salamanders. The thought: “What was he thinking?” rolled around in my head. Reportedly, William had spent his own money for all of the equipment and for the purchase of the two lizards (Oops! I meant to say salamanders). What was he thinking? Better yet, what were his parents thinking?

Purchasing an expensive terrarium was way outside the box for William. For one thing, William is frugal. He was named after my father. Dad would rather hang on to a dime than to have what a dime might buy. For the most part, William has that same characteristic. I suspect he will grow up to be one of those men who will always have ninety cents of every dollar he’s ever earned. In contrast, his other two siblings don’t share that same characteristic. For that part, neither does his grandfather.

Secondly, “Why would anyone want a pet salamander? You tell me. It is beyond my understanding, but I’m really not a pet person. William attempted to promote a sense of calm for me on Wednesday by saying: “Granddad, Don’t worry, a salamander doesn’t look anything like a snake”.

Of course, at William’s assistance I had to touch the salamander with my hand. William was smiling from ear-to-ear. You would have thought he had just introduced me to his best friend. Why anyone would want to hold and/or touch a salamander is beyond me. I didn’t have any fear associated to the experience, but there was nothing inviting about it either with the exception that I did so at William’s request. Of course, in responsible fashion, William was very careful as he held each of them in the palm of his hand.

After putting the two salamanders back in their upscale terrarium, we started back downstairs. He asked if I had washed my hands after touching the salamander? Of course, he already knew that I had not. Consequently, he told me that I needed to wash my hands very carefully. The kid really is responsible and always colors within the lines.

What was it, somewhere between twenty to twenty-five years ago that developers and the city of Austin were embroiled in a bitter controversy concerning planned expansion? One side was very concerned that building and development put the Edwards Aquifer at risk. It also disturbed the natural habitat of the Barton Creek Salamander. Consequently, that made the salamander an endangered species.

The environmentally conscious citizens of Austin initiated and passed the SOS (Save Our Springs) Ordinance to protect the Edwards Aquifer. From that day to this, the ordinance has served to protect environmentally sensitive parts of Austin from overdevelopment.

On another note, William overheard my subsequent conversation with his dad. We were discussing Craig’s potential purchase of a new truck. I countered that Becky should be the recipient of the new vehicle. After all, when you consider the amount of driving Craig does, miles and miles on a new vehicle quickly depreciate it’s value.

William authoritatively expressed the thought: “I don’t think anybody ought to even think about getting a new car until we get this house paid for.” Wow, what responsibility! William is my dad made over. Craig smiled and said, “And now you know the reason we are going to live with William when we get old.”

Last night, I wondered what William would think if he could see in my garage. A neighbor borrowed my pick-up. I figured I might as well have the neighbor’s car in exchange for my truck. Consequently, my neighbor’s car is now parked in my garage.

For that matter, my truck mostly stays parked in my garage. It will be four years old in July and I’ve only driven it 15,000 miles. Consequently, I’m not in the market for new wheels. My truck still has that new vehicle look. On the other hand, so does my neighbors car. Wow! Wow! Wow! Maybe I need to color outside the lines and think about a permanent exchange.

All My Best!






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