Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

We look forward to the opening of the back road in the not-so-distant future... and the fish camp...

Why not drop a neighbor a note about this blog? - In meeting neighbor folks this holiday season, I am surprised by the fact that not all know about it. There are always new people coming into the community, and they might not know.

Also, if they opt in, there's a pretty regular E mail (almost weekly) of info for owners. And the HOA website, for which a password is required (again, for owners.) To opt in, they have to mail me their desire for that:

January brings the annual meeting, too, with some issues and reports. See you there. If not, I'll blog about it for the out-of-towners.

Friday, December 22, 2006


There's a phenomenon which sometimes takes place at the east exit, and it annoys! What happens is, you are the first car waiting for a break in the traffic flow to turn out. Then someone comes up beside you in an SUV, or whatever, and blocks your view to that side.

In effect they've just intercepted your place in line because you cannot move until they do.

That's unthinking, or rude. Don't know what can be done about it other than to ask, "Hey, give the first car a break - don't block his/her view!"

Monday, December 18, 2006


The boat was sunk to become a habitat for fish. So there you have it, Gilligan.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Open letter for the Homeowner member of the Spanish Oaks HOA

After least year’s somewhat contentious annual meeting, the members of the SPHOA heard your concerns and appointed me as the homeowner representative to the Board. Shortly thereafter, I asked Bob Wood to be the Chair of the Communication Committee and we set out to knock on each front door of every occupied house or leave a calling card. It was a pleasure to meet as many of you as we did. Bob and I will repeat the process this spring, after daylight savings, as I want to get to know all of you. We heard your issues and have tried to respond as best as we could.

The SPHOA held a Memorial Day picnic and I was thrilled with the attendance. That event was chaired by Jennifer Horne who did yeoman’s work. Jennifer has moved out of our hood and we are still looking for someone to take over that job.

As noted, Bob has taken responsibility to communicate with all of in every method possible. Bob started the blog, the web site and the blast e-mail system. Pam Chandler inserts letters in that little gem we get quarterly and has the security guards hand out flyers as well.

I want to thank Lori Bailes for turning us onto the wonderful program of helping out those less fortunate then us.

We are still looking for a Chair of the Safety Committee and volunteers to work on a number of those issues that affect all of our personal safety. To this end, we had a community meeting with Commissioner Dougherty to discuss road and other issues. Overall the Highway 71 problem (stop light) is not very encouraging but there are things being discussed.

Pam Chandler and I are putting together a calendar for 2007. We will start with the Annual meeting in January. This will take place at Rosie’s Tamale House and this should be a cordial social event. The bar will be open. The agenda will be completed and the members of the Board available. I would like to make the Halloween Hay Ride an annual event and based on the glee from the kiddos that I saw, this should be a no brainer. I would like to add to that with an ice cream social around Labor Day and one or two events in our Las NiƱo Park. Finally, let’s build on the holiday lighting contest. This is the first year Shirley and I tried outdoor lighting here in Spanish Oaks. Our last house had a number of outdoor outlets and we discovered a slight oversight when we finished our house. I found it particularly difficult to light up the trees with no electricity. Next year we will compete with a vengeance!

The developer has brought on line two parks for the members, with two more in the works. There is water in the tank and we will be fishing soon. Can someone teach a city kid? My fishing experience is asking Mr. Debilliti at the fish market what is fresh today. It is so much easier pointing to one already on ice! With the tank stocked it should be a treat for kids of all ages.

Add to that the fish camp and other features planned and 2007 will be spectacular! These services and facilities will be ready for all the members of the SPHOA community. In the coming years there will be a number of recreational areas for us to enjoy. It remains my fervent hope that this will become the community that we all bought into.

However, there are still issues that we all have to deal with. Adherence to deed restrictions is a challenge, and some of the rules are changing. As these occur they will be posted on the web page. The completion of the boulevard to the west entrance will not be finished in January. It is getting close, but we all know how it was building our houses, when are they ever finished on time?

Also, I have to tell you that the support that the developer provides to our HOA continues to be extensive. Unfortunately, some of that responsibility will have to be transferred to the members (more than 200 at this time). The Board will be deciding upon a new budget. This new budget takes into consideration the lots sold, the houses built, the greater amount of landscaped ground that will be to be attended and a number of other issues. I must tell you that the budget does call for a modest $20.00 per month increase in dues. When I speak with SOHOA members they all share the same concern that they want this to be the most exclusive and desirous gated community in the greater Austin area. Security and water are expensive and with more members more of both are required.

You should have received a copy of the minutes from last year’s annual meeting. This month you will receive a copy of the budget. Next month (prior to the annual meting) you will get a copy of the agenda for the annual meting. I would ask that if there are any concerns, please share them with the Board or me as soon as possible so that we can present you with all the information that you desire to resolve any issue.

In summary, this has been a year of transition. There is a new developer; there are new rules, many new faces and new amenities to our community. Add to that I want to increase all that is good about Spanish Oaks and with the assistance of all the members I know that we can make this happen.

We need help with the social committee and safety committees and we need your feedback on any issue that you find pressing.

Let me close with thanking all of you for your support of the Spanish Oaks Homeowners Association. I would like to wish you the best this holiday season and hope that before long I get the opportunity to meet all of you both at the annual meeting and at your front door next spring.

Warmest Regards,

Donald A. Abrams

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Correspondent/contributer Tim Sabo sends this picture of fish camp where a) there's water and b) a boat is sunk in it. Go figure.

On another issue - DUES are going up again. Stand by for details.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


From Trish Hamilton


It's just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas -- oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it -- the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma -- the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else. Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.
Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids -- all kids -- and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree,the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition -- one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us. May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always. God Bless! -- pass this along to those friends and loved ones who you know are the givers who understand the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


As of this morning, Spanish Oaks residents have committed to sponsoring 7 families through the Christmas Bureau. The lady who runs the program told me they are expecting another 1,000 applications, from families in need, over the next 24 hours. If you are interested in sponsoring a family please let me know.


Lori Bailes

291-6617 or

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Thanks to Tim Sabo, who shot these pictures this morning. Apparently the police told him not to, as he wasn't involved. But he persisted that he WAS involved, this being a safety issue for those who live here. I've never heard of such restrictions - have you? - and suggest if you see an accident at our entrance you take a picture if you can do so safely, since documenting these might someday add up to a light there.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Over the past few days, this dog has been roaming our property several times, and Terri thinks she's also seen it on the street. I approached today and you see the reaction... I was hoping to see the tag. On blowing the picture up - there's no doubt there IS a shock collar, which either isn't working, or the system is off. Dogs are not allowed to roam off leash in Spanish Oaks. If you know the owner, would you alert them? Thanks.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


The chain gang was spotted redoing the East Entrance today. We have to admit the guard shack/smokey welcome center looks better this way.

You can almost hear the words in your rear view mirror as you leave our special place...

"Yaupon Come Back, hear?"

And good news! Big progress on paving the back road. You'll be surprised how much has been done. We think even after the asphalt (spell check isn't working, but maybe you knew that!) is down, there remains certain work to the sides of the road.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Dear Neighbors,

It's that time of year again, that many of us ponder what gifts to get our friends and family this holiday season...

When I ask myself what my kids' need, the answer I get is a resounding "nothing." Even when asked to make Christmas Wish Lists, their wants are very modest. They are fortunate enough to have all of their needs met throughout the year as well as many of their wants. What I would really like to give them this holiday season is the gift of "giving."

Let me clarify that as to not include recipients that would need their gifts purchased out of catalogs reading something like "gifts for the person that has it all."

I have found an organization "The Christmas Bureau," that puts sponsors in touch with applicants who hope to be sponsored for the holidays. The sponsorship must include, but is not limited to the following:

- holiday meal, can be groceries or gift card
- wrapped gift for each child

They ask that items be delivered on or before the 20th. One of the coolest things about this organization is that you get to speak to and directly deliver the items. This is appealing to me as I would like my kids to see that it is not the norm to be greated by a smiling Cottril when arriving home, rather the exception.

If there is enough interest, I would like to organize a neighborhood sponsorship of some families. Please let me know if you are interested in sponsoring a family, sharing a sponsorship, donating money, shopping, delivering, or contacting a family to find out what their specific needs are.

Please contact me via email at or phone at 291-6617.


Lori Bailes

Friday, December 01, 2006


Oh By Gosh By Golly, It's Time For Mistletoe and Holly... and inflated Clauses and Reindeer on the Roof and Icey hanging lights and red and green lazers... twinkling bedecked Yaupon, and more.

Yes, it's the first (annual?) Christmas Holiday Light Extravaganzy Frenzy - a competiton for those who create outdoor diplays of Noel.

3 prizes:

Best in Show
Most Original
Diverting Traffic From Bergstrom

Judging Dec 23rd

and... for the kiddies... a bird house building contest (NO DESIGN REVIEW, NO GUIDELINES.) The HOA will supply pre-cut wood. Prizes TBA. Contact Pam Chandler for more.

A reminder - roving dogs have been noted in the community. The rules call for them to on leash, as they could potentially interact with someone walking dogs on leash, and in the excitement, someone could be hurt, or nipped.