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All That Rain

Monday, 07 Apr 2014, 19:54 UTC

From the street, you could see clouds in the west. From the highway, you could see dark skies. From the overpass, you could see towering thunderheads with dark black foundations and columns climbing into the sky where here and there there were breaks in the clouds that revealed vistas of billowing white and gold against a blue sky.

From the driveway when we got home, there was a smell of rain. In the distance the thunder of an approaching storm rolled over the hills, that crushy, gravelly thunder that sounds like it’s crackling about in the clouds from horizon to horizon, gathering its strength, getting ready to let out a crashing boom.

Then came the lightning. Bright flashes of strobe light following by crashing thunder. And finally came the rain. Drop by drop at first, then a steady stream. And then there was a lull. And then a deluge. Torrents of water fell from the sky. The wind thrashed the trees mercilessly as we stood fretting that the Arizona Ash was certain to finally fall on top of the Texas Redbud which bloomed so much this year.

Water poured off the eves, overwhelming the gutters, white caps spilling over the edges throwing a frothy mist upward in the wind. And then hail came. Gently at first, chinking against the windows. Then more earnestly, gathering white piles here and there. And then the onslaught began in earnest. Fallen hail covered the sidewalks. It floated in ice-jams in the streams of water running around the corner of the house. It looked like winter outside, such as it is in Texas.


And we thought of our tomatoes, as we seem to do at this time of year.

Think of them with us, those tomatoes that replaced the first crop that got caught in the freezes of several weeks ago. Those tomatoes that were starting to climb up their cages, that had begun putting out yellow blossoms. Those tomatoes that had given us renewed hope that we might actually get fruit before the heat of summer sets in. 

Think of them and weep.

But then think of it, just think of it: all that rain

Fighting with the Brushes

Saturday, 05 Apr 2014, 21:47 UTC

I just had some time to myself, with the fair and industrious Trudy out of town. Well… not really time to myself, as the dogs are here with me. But it’s late, and they’re off somewhere else being quiet (for once). So I thought I’d dabble a bit with a Cezanne-based scene.

My cezanne

But my brush got permanently stuck one pixel wide, and so I switched to a different one that wasn’t really what I needed. And then it got stuck one pixel wide. It’s either a bug, or my old Mac is too old, or I am missing something fundamental.

Whatever the cause, I have no more patience for this. It is late, and I’d just as soon be reading something rather than fighting with the brushes.So the dabbling is done. Sad, that.

Time Off on a Sunny Day

Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014, 22:02 UTC

Subject: PTO. Yes, I really mean it this time.

I mashed the button to send that one-liner. I stashed my laptop and zipped the bag shut. And then with a wave to the rest of the crew, I headed for the door.

It was noon on Friday. The bugs were fixed. The issues resolved. I had been trying to take a couple days off for a week or more, and finally it was time.

The air was warm. The sky was blue. The Elm trees were pushing out their spring green finery. The sun was beaming down from the sky. And there were birds (I kid you not.): Mockingbirds and Wrens and Cardinals were singing in the thicket on the far side of the parking lot.

I got into the car, rolled the windows down and turned up the stereo loud. Barry White was playing, The First, The Last, My Everything.

I rolled the windows down farther. I turned the stereo up louder. And I sang all the way home.


Irises on a Cloudy Day

Monday, 31 Mar 2014, 09:12 UTC

The sunshine of yesterday is gone, although they say on the radio that the it might return in the afternoon.

The wind chimes are chiming in a warm, springtime breeze.

The Irises by the street are standing tall. I saw Mary looking at them as she drove by.

Irises on a cloudy day

Kinda Knowing

Sunday, 30 Mar 2014, 08:57 UTC

We were talking about being far away. How I have lamented being the only one in the family west of the Mississippi. How I felt completely removed from them all, removed from all that coming and going and the closeness that characterized the family of my youth. How my brother and aunts and cousins and grandparents evolved new relationships as time went on but mine felt frozen in the 1970s.

“But here’s the thing,” she said. “In many ways, we know more about you than about each other.”

(Because of this, she meant. Because of the many words posted online over the years.)

I smiled. 

I smiled, because of course these words are not me, not even close. The sun, the blue sky, the smell of Agarita blossoms on the wind, or Irises and Spiderworts standing tall, or wild, yellow Daisies, or wild pink Primroses. They’re nice, and all that, but what about the other side? There is another side. … So I smiled.

“There’s so much I don’t write,” I said.

What about the feeling of time lost over those years when I was commuting long distances? What about the cancellation of programs that I had stacked my adult life on? What about the anxiety of being a new architect on a project who is constantly out of sight and out of mind? What about quitting your job in your fifties and starting at a new place back at the starting line? What about the question I was asked, “So what did you do in your last job?” when it became apparent to that person that I wasn’t a database wiz. Or similar questions when I struggled with new development tools? Or the dark, nagging thoughts that woke me in the middle of the night making me sit up with hot sweats and a deep rush of anxiety attacks? What about…

“There’s a lot I won’t write about,” I said.

… um, except that now I kinda have and now they kinda do.

Nevertheless, caveat lector.

Wild Thing

Sunday, 30 Mar 2014, 08:03 UTC

So let’s talk about those wild Primroses in the front yard…

Many springs ago, my mother came down from the north to visit and to revel in the warm Texas springtime. It was a good year for it, to the extent I can remember it: the sun shined, the sky was blue, the wild flowers were blooming, that sort of thing, I suppose. 

And one day, she and the fair and industrious Trudy ventured out to the Wildflower Research Center that was having their annual spring wildflower sale. And they came home with hands full of four inch pots with greenery and promises of color.

My mother handed me one. For my birthday, I think it was. A salvia of some sort the label said, which I poo-poo’d, because from the look of the leaves it was clearly not a salvia. And I thought to myself (and probably let show on my face) that I thought this was a mislabeled volunteer of some sort. Still, we planted it in the front, in the bed beneath the Monterey Oak and wished the little orphan well.

fast forward…

It was indeed no sort of salvia. It was a primrose of some kind. Not the pink or yellow evening varieties that bloom this time of year, rather it was some wild thing that grew legs over the years and crept gradually to the south, following puddles of sun admitted by the overhanging oak.

And every year, without fail this wild kind of Primrose has raised up out of the leaf litter about this time of year and stretched out its lanky arms and raised its pale pink blossoms that open in the morning and track the sun as it arcs across the sky and close as it sets in the west. Blossoms that open the next day and the next about this time of year and whisper that message from my mother on that spring day back then: Happy Birthday.

Thanks, mom. It was the perfect wild thing.

Kinks Low Budget

Sunday, 30 Mar 2014, 07:41 UTC

As the sun came up in the west and its warming light crept down onto the Irises and Four Nerve Daisies and wild Primroses that my mother gave me many years ago, there was this something to wake me up.

Kinks low budget

Irises et al

Saturday, 29 Mar 2014, 08:06 UTC

So they came into town, my family did. My aunt. My brother and sister-in-law. My niece from Berkeley. My other niece soon to be (perhaps) from Austin. My nephew. And my mother.

They came to town as the weather was oscillating wildly between warm, spring, sunshiny days and cold and dreary. Except the Berkeley niece, they came fleeing freezing cold and snow. They came expecting sun and blue skies and spring flowers. The came expecting March to be going out like a lamb.

But although the weather here was far better than there, there and there, it was by no means accommodating. There was wind and drizzle, and the skies were an uninviting grey, a drag to us as hosts, although we tried to conceal our disappointment as our visitors were likely were quite happy with the transitions they made.

The several days flew past. And the visitors left town, flight by flight, returning to Illinois and Ohio and New York, returning to the weather they had fled.

And the following day, the very next day, the sun reappeared and temperatures climbed into the 70s. And after that with the temperature in the mid 80s, we found ourselves rolling down the car windows to get a break from the heat.

And on that day, the Irises, many of which had succumbed to the first freeze several weeks ago (the same freeze that killed the tomatoes and the buds on the Spiderwort and on the Pomegranate and Ash trees)… On that day so soon after the visitors had gone, the Irises and Blue Bonnets and Englemann’s Daisies and Prairie Verbena and various wild, flowering weedy things exploded.

Missed it by that much.


Ultimate Convergence

Friday, 28 Mar 2014, 20:37 UTC

A Chachi had plans to come down to Texas from the cold regions of upstate New York.

And then came a niece with the Berkely ultimate frisbee team for the Womens College Centex tournament. And her dad, my brother. And her mom, his wife. And her brother and sister. And then my mother heard of the gathering.

So all these people converged on this place. Some for the frisbee. Some for refuge from the cold. All for the others.

The days sped quickly by. The frisbee teams braved cold (by our standards, although truth be told some complained about the heat which gave Trudy and me cause to look at each other in wonder). And they braved gusty winds and gray clouds scudding across the skies over green grass. And the rest of us braved long walks across the intramural fields searching for the Berkeley girls, the Pie Queens, in their white shorts and white shirts, from among the hoards of other teams.

So they all converged on this place. And for a brief moment, there was much chaotic confusion and bluff. And then…

Then they departed whence they had come, one day after the another. The Berkeley girls, off in various directions for spring break. My brother and his family back to frigid Chicago. My mother back to Ohio. And last, the Chachi who had been planning a visit with us for several years only to see it converge with this ultimate convergence.



Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014, 16:10 UTC

I don’t know.

The weather is gray and blustery. The family has come and gone in a whirlwind (literally when it comes to the frisbees that were flying on Sunday). The dogs are looking at me like there ought to be dinner served up about now and why on earth am I sitting here staring at that infernal thing on the desk and holding that stick in my hand when there is dinner to be served, for heavens sake?

So I don’t know what it means. Heck I only have a vague idea what to call it. So without further ado, here it is.


And now… Dinner is served!