Planet Stahl

All Stahl, All the Time


Sam Hou

Samantha “Sam” Hou was a friend of mine and she passed a few days ago.

We were not super tight or anything, but we were on top of each others events on social media and saw each other at Toyota every once and a while.  The Toyota part…  THAT was comedy gold when she pulled in.  It was literally  Marx Brothers word play with a bit of slapstick the time we had to fix her rear seats in the Sienna.  Likely everyone was going to be laughing as some nonsense was going on whenever we saw her in the service lane.

It was funny, I had known her husband Jim for years through the store before I put 1 and 1 together to figure out that they were a couple.

I actually first met Sam at the Game Room in Washington as she was one of the Pokemon parents.  This is back when Summer went feet first into that card game.  I would leave Summer for hours with strangers trusting that this woman and I had just met would take care of the kids.  For those who dont know gamers…  We trust each other with things like that.  Not much terrible stuff goes on a game store unless you count the horror on the imaginary battlefields!  Summer enjoyed her time there with “Ms. Hou”.

I later found out via talking to Jim at Toyota that they were married to each other.  Jim was my Boy Scouts Q&A guy as he was ahead of me with his boys in the organization.

We had a connection when I found out she was a huge Garrison Keillor fan.  I am not deep into Prairie Home Companion… But I have a healthy respect for his segment “News from Lake Wobegone” as its a giant tapestry of imagination.  I would have loved to see him live but came to the game too late.  Sam truly enjoyed rubbing it in every weekend this past year that she saw him on the farewell tour.

Oh, she ran RPG’s for her boys.  You would have to be a saint to do that!  Then again, I was playing Cthulhu with my kids last weekend.

We had tons in common.

A year or so ago, we had an amazing BBQ at her and Jim’s house.  This is the memory that will stick with me forever.

Sam and I were always bouncing stuff back and forth over Facebook.  One thing that we both jumped on was the Bacon Sushi Roll that was making the rounds on Facebook.  I thought it was Thrillist or something like that, but I cant find the video.  Regardless… It looked amazing.  I attempted it at home and took some pics of the process and finished product (Cause I’m that guy).  Sam immediately hopped on this and said we should do a Midwest sushi party.  I make up some more rolls…  She and Jim would host.

Cool!  I made my rolls… The whole family loaded up to head over to Hou’s.  BTW, I love doing this to my Wife.  Angela gets in more situations like this because of me.  She had never met either of them to this point, and now she was trusting me to a dinner date with a strange family!

Midwest Sushi prep
Midwest Sushi prep
The meat after grilling
The meat after grilling
Typical of Sam.  She had gone all out for the kids and adults!  We get there and she has made up all kinds of “sushi” rolls.  I had never seen anything like it!

Sam's Sushi Rolls
Sam’s Sushi Rolls
More sushi
More sushi
We did up the meat on the grill and had a great time.  We ended the night playing a couple table top games as the whole group with kids and parents and had a ton of fun.  Is there a better night than that?

This is the part of getting older that I really cant stand.  Death and having to deal with it.

Sam was such a good person and she was helping hand in so many organizations.  She had two boys still in high school.  When someone like this passes away suddenly it tears you down and makes you believe that everything is bad in this world .  Its NOT fair!

This was a good person.

This was a charitable person who helped others… And cats!  She loved cats!

This was a kindred spirit.

This was someone I felt like I would be friends with forever.

The friends and family have set up a Facebook group to help out Jim and the boys.  I am seeing people and organizations that I had no idea she helped with coming to their side and its an amazing outpouring.

I want to go all “Marc Maron” here and put this on me as something I have to deal with personally… But its obviously not about me.  Her family has so much to deal with that my grief is barely tangible in comparison.  My heart will be heavy for the family left behind.

Here is one quote from Keillor that I find apropos for today:

“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.”
Garrison Keillor, Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon





  1. That was a great night when you and your family came over for the Midwest Sushi night. She thought the world of you and your family.

    Thank you for the kind and loving words. You made me cry just reading how much she impacted you and your family.

    Garrison Keillor rocks! I only got to go to one Prairie Home Companion show with her! I would have gone to many more with her.

    Thank you Eric for these kind words.

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