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“The best laid schemes. . .gang aft agley.” Which is to say, I didn’t get out into the yard Monday.  I woke up with aching hands and a pounding headache, which is what I get for typing too much on Sunday morning and opening the sliding panels on the glass doors Sunday night to get a cool, pollen-laden cross breeze going.  So between my sinus medicine and the stuff I take for my hands, I went back to bed and slept on and off until Tuesday afternoon.

Got up Wednesday morning, turned on the kitchen light, and one of the fluorescent tubes went out.  The fixture has two tubes and if one goes out, the other one won’t light up.  So, I had to go get my big ladder from the storeroom out in the back yard so I could get up high enough to reach the ceiling fixture to get the dead tube out.  Then I had to schlep the dead tube to Wal-Mart so I could get another one like it — actually four more — so that I could replace the tube while there was still enough daylight for me to see what I’m doing.  The light fixture was put in just before I moved in 10+ years ago, and this is the first tube I’ve had to replace.  That means the other one could go at any time.  Never hurts to have a spare.  There’s also a single tube fluorescent fixture in the laundry room that uses the same length tube, so with three extra tubes, I’ve got all the bases covered. Nothing like carrying around a 48-inch/121.9 cm long glass fluorescent tube bare-handed into Wal-Mart and then carrying five of them back out.

While I was coming and going from Wal-Mart, I kept hearing all these sirens off to the southeast.   I first thought we had a big fire somewhere, but our fire trucks alternate between siren noises and loud honking noises, and I wasn’t hearing any honking.   Then I thought we might have had a bad wreck and it was ambulance sirens I was hearing.  I found out later it was none of the above.  All the sirens were police vehicles responding to a bank robbery with hostages. They had the SWAT team, the FBI, hostage negotiators, streets blocked off, traffic backed up, a DPS* helicopter and everything.

It was after 4 o’clock when I got home, got the new tube inserted into my kitchen fixture and manhandled the big ladder back to the storage room.  I decided I would try out my new garden shears and went on a sapling cutting spree.  I also made serious inroads on the superfluous pink climbing roses.  The red climbers send long canes out from the central “trunk,” but the pink ones send out underground suckers and new canes sprout along the suckers — like blackberries (which are also a member of the rose family – Rosaceae).  You may start out with one cane of the pink climbers, but before you know it, you’ve got a right little bramble thicket  going.  Like blackberries, the pink climber canes and stems are just bristling with little thorns. I have to cut them back toward the fence or they’ll snag on clothes hung on that end of the clothes line.   The red climbers have already started to bloom, and the pink ones are all over buds.  I also connected the soaker hoses and deep watered both the climber bed and my iris bed.  I will plant my Siberian irises this afternoon.

While I was out in the yard, I made another discovery:

Two little volunteer clusters of bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis).  They’re a species of lupine native to Texas, and they are our state flower.  Their seeds have a very tough outer shell and can lay around for years before they sprout.  They grow wild all over the place in the Texas hill country down around Austin.  Great swaths of them. The ladies who built my duplex supposedly planted bluebonnets in the whole area where these are.  In the intervening decades, the grass has taken over, but every now and again a couple of them just come up seemingly at random.  Since these are technically “in the grass,” the yard guys will probably mow them before they have a chance to set seed, so I’ll enjoy them while I can.

No doubt you’ve already heard about the string of 13 tornadoes that hit North** Texas around the Fort Worth-Arlington-Dallas area Monday evening,  tossing 6-ton semi truck trailers around like footballs and chewing up a lot of real estate.  Miraculously, after all the damage these EF2 and EF3 twisters did, no one was killed and only a few people were injured.   But they left behind a great big mess.  My thoughts are with my fellow Texans who are now faced with having to cope with the aftermath of the storms.  I know from experience what they’re dealing with.  You’re grateful you made it through with your nearest and dearest alive and uninjured, but the enormity of having your whole world quite literally torn to pieces crowds out every other thought.   It’s a watershed event.  It digs a big gouge through your life and from then on, everything will be divided into Before and After.   It’s hard enough for adults to deal with, but those poor children.

*The Texas Department of Public Safety includes the state police, the Texas Rangers, the highway patrol, the border patrol (US/Mexico), and the Department of Motor Vehicles, which issues driver’s licenses.

**NB: We have a rather idiosyncratic way to designate regions in Texas.  The area along the Red River, which forms the lower part of the boundary between Texas and its northern neighbor, Oklahoma, is referred to as “North Texas,” while the square bit at the top where I live (which is even farther north) is referred to as either “West Texas” or “the Panhandle.”  The part of Texas that juts out even further to the west underneath the state of New Mexico  is called “Big Bend” because the Rio Grande, the river that forms the US border between the state of Texas and the country of Mexico, makes a big bend toward the south there, and another big bend to the north further on before it curves on around to the Gulf of Mexico.  So even though where I live is farther north than Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas,  I’m in West Texas.

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