A few weeks ago, my neighbor, Frances Zaragoza, and I went door to door in our neighborhood passing out invites for our National Night Out event. It was fun walking with someone that was brave, bold and fearless about meeting new people and walking into their yards unannounced. As we walked and visited, about halfway through - we noticed a house that had been for sale was now occupied and had lots of movement and life. The two of us approached a young lady who was in her driveway busy working sanding a piece of furniture. We introduced ourselves and welcomed her to the neighborhood and then Mrs. Zaragoza walked even further to inspect her work. I chuckled as she got so close and wondered what our new neighbor was thinking about us - perhaps she thought we were “nosey neighbors”! Some that know the two of us may agree, but I like to call us “curious”!
I was super impressed with the work she was doing on her nightstand. We talked a bit, and I asked her if I could interview her in the weeks to come and she agreed. We then handed her the invitation and continued on our way. This is the first interview I did via phone call because of yucky weather and time constraints, but I figured it was okay since we had already met. I was so fascinated with Amanda Ortiz and her life. She was born and raised in Oregon where her dad lived off the grid and taught her a lifestyle of hunting, fishing, and making fires. Her mom was a RN who believed in modern medicine, so Amanda got a good mix of the two different ways of life and thinking. Amanda’s grandparents lived in Palm Springs, California, where she and her parents moved to when she was younger. She met her husband Eddie in California. They have three sons with ages ranging from 15 down to 9. Amanda and her family attended our National Night Out event and met several new people. Her boys have great personalities and filled me in on their new schools and hobbies they like.
When asked if she missed anything about California, Amanda said she misses the food, ocean and mountains. Fun places she has traveled to are Hawaii, where she lived for a year. She has been to Washington, D.C., which was a favorite place of hers because of her love of history. Amanda is most proud of her family and what they stand for and represent. She feels she has instilled good values in her children. Her greatest strength is being innovative and turning nothing into something (which I witnessed firsthand with that nightstand that she has now finished; she sent me a pic of how beautiful it turned out). She says her greatest weakness is being a “yes” person. Saying yes so much can often lead to her being overwhelmed.
Why Navasota? Because of its small-town feel. When they shopped and visited a while back, they immediately liked downtown and never got a bad vibe from the people or area. She loves how the community has been super nice and welcoming. Navasota is also an easy commute for her husband who works in Hempstead.
Favorites of Navasota: she may be the only person in town who will have this answer - but she loves the TRAINS! She is used to trains from the times she lived in Oregon, California and even Hempstead. She enjoys the sound they make. Amanda has not explored much in town but has enjoyed Classic Rock Coffee Co. for their coffee and food.
Years ago, Amanda worked in an emergency room’s radiology department during covid, but now works from home. She is currently working on her forensic psychology/pathology degrees. Her dream job is to be a medical examiner. She enjoys living a homestead lifestyle - by growing and raising her own things, making things for her home, and having fresh eggs. She likes to make food from scratch, so they don’t eat out much.
When asked about regrets, she says she regrets not moving to Texas sooner. Amanda dreams about moving to Alaska. Her dream place to be is sitting outside in a chair or hammock and listening to the sounds of nature. She would love to live in Fiji or Colorado and not be around all the craziness the world brings. If she could have dinner with anyone, it would be Abraham Lincoln. She loves how he changed the country for the better and had a level head on his shoulders.
On her day off she enjoys gardening. She and her family are a video gaming family and also enjoy bowling weekly in bowling leagues. She enjoys all types of music, but specifically likes country music and Tyler Childers is a current favorite. The last book she read was “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman.
Amanda would like to be remembered as someone who always did everything she could for her family. She believes the best quality in a marriage is communication. If she could master any instrument, it would be the violin, which she played as a child. Amanda’s most memorable meal is Sea Snail sushi in Hawaii. She has been unsuccessful trying to find it in the continental US.
During our interview, I asked Amanda if she had heard that many Texans don’t care for Californians moving here. She said she had heard that. But I tell you what - if all Californians are like Amanda, I say - bring them on!
Amanda - it is so nice to meet you and your family, my newest Navasota neighbors. I hope to see you around again soon!
The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Jennifer Ramirez. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.
Jennifer is a lifelong resident of Navasota. She is passionate about her community and supports all things local.