Signs Yer in Texas: Part II

Who needs memes? While walking and driving around The Lone Star State this past and pleasant October, I was intrigued by reading signs that revealed a certain something about the place. I don’t know if it’s the mentality, the mixed cultures, humor, a form of irony, or what natives might call, “a Texas thing.”. But, I sensed a latent message. I’m still uncertain exactly why I felt the vibe I did. Maybe it was me. At the time, I was trying to make an important life decision.

When 85 is not fast enough.

Signs convey messages. Texas may have more highway signs per road mile than any other state. Speed limits range from fast (70MPH) to ridiculous (85MPH). Ubiquitous municipal signs warned of rules (some designed to aid the foolish or intoxicated). I found humor everywhere I looked.

Squeezed into a few square miles of New Braunfels, Texas, is a huge waterpark (Schlitterbahn was closed by October), and two rivers used for floating on tubes while getting shit-faced-drunk (the Comal and Guadalupe rivers). It all happens between May and September when the temperature has the natives counting the number of days in a row over 100-degrees Fahrenheit. It’s hot. Even the water is too damn hot to feel good. The thousands of visitors must pay to park in huge lots or obtain city permits to park on the streets because it is so congested with fun seekers during the hot summer months.

 

What can I say? It’s Texas. I married a Texan and technically, I suppose I am one, albeit an unwilling transplant from Yankee-land. Our three young’uns (and a passel of grands) were all born there.

 

This is for street parking. They are all over the place.

Empty parking lot at Schlitterbahn Water Park.

Even though I’ve lived in Texas more than half my life, the state and many inhabitants continue to mystify me. While I don’t currently live between the Red River and The Rio Grande, I now plan to move north of Austin in less than a month (reason for blogging about it).

Nice zombie family, but a little quiet.

Native Texans, and many transplants, love the state. My wife likes to tell me, “you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl.” She sees that as a good thing. I think she’s brainwashed. I confess that the state and its inhabitants pose a certain mystique, but I don’t buy into the Texas is special nonsense.

That is called a sigh-reen in Texas parlance. Used for tornado warnings.

In 1964, I asked a friend who was home in PA after Air Force Basic Training in San Antonio (where I was soon headed) what he thought of Texas. He replied, “I think we should give it back to Mexico.” I won’t go that far. But there have long been grumblings among some Texans favoring secession from the Union and returning to the status of an independent Republic.

Grin and roll your eyes (I do), but some Texans consider that rational thought. How secession worked the last time apparently notwithstanding. I refuse to ponder the complications of such foolishness. But, all the noise makes for good news and political fodder. It’ll never be more than that, even if some are serious.

They know El Paso is not on the coast.

As the USA’s second largest state, in land mass (behind Alaska) and population (California is first), Texas has an interesting history. A little over 180 years ago, it was Mexico. The people living there at the time, along with many additional (illegal?) immigrants from the United States, successfully rebelled and it became an independent Republic. The irony of the times was that the Mexican government was trying to end all the immigration into Mexico of people from the USA. The eventual annexation of Texas as the 28th state in 1845 led directly to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Mexico was pissed. I think they still are.

Air conditioning is everywhere.

I want to dispel some myths about Texas.

It is not a law that all Texas public school students stand and recite a pledge of allegiance to both the American and Texas flags, but many Texans believe it is and should be. Texas did not add “under God” to their pledge to the Texas flag until 2007, and while the pledge says “indivisible,” it’s sort of true that Texas may choose to divide into several states. Maybe someday, but don’t hold your breath.

The Texas flag is a big deal. That seems odd, since they did not have an official state flag from about 1879 until 1933. Many Texans believe before then only six flags flew over Texas, maybe because of the name of the theme park (Six Flags). It was nine. There were others (unofficial) here and there, but nine flags.

Many Texans also think theirs it is the only state flag allowed to fly at the same level as the USA flag. Not true. Any state flag may be flown at an equal height to the American flag. The US flag must always be to the right (viewer’s left) of the state flag, per normal flag etiquette. It’s common to see the Texas flag being displayed with no US flag in sight. I never ask why.

I developed a pet peeve regarding the Texas flag. When I see it flown upside down, especially by a native-born-and-raised Texan, I want to fix it. It happens more than you’d think and in places it shouldn’t. I have had people argue with me about it, insisting the red stripe goes up and the two star points up were correct. The white bar goes on top of the red – up. The single point at the top of the star should point up, not look like it’s standing on its dang head. And yes, I have pulled off the road to tell them: car dealerships, housing and apartment developments, and (my favorite) schools.

Wrong! and not a US flag in sight.

I’ve no idea why some folks think it more patriotic to fly dirty, old, torn, and ripped flags. It is not. It is bad taste and poor flag etiquette, but I will not go so far as to try to convince those people of anything. Many of them recently thought America was invading during a military exercise and was coming to take their guns. Speaking of guns, getting shot happens a lot there, but that is due to the large population.

Texas is second, behind California, in the number of murders. Texas has a slight edge in the per capita murder rate. To be fair, things seem to be somewhat under control even with several major mass shootings. The fact is that Texas ranks only 30th among states for gun ownership. With only about 36% packin’, it’s a good deal safer than many other states. Texas has stricter concealed carry requirements than does Washington State, and probably takes this subject more serious than many give them credit. Especially now, following the shootings at the church in Sutherland Springs.

“Old Sparky,” in which 361 prisoners were executed between 1924 and 1964.

One last interesting comparison between Texas and California is in the use of capital punishment. Texas leads the nation in executions while CA has the most people on death row. I suppose somebody must be number one, but I am mystified as why anyone would take pride in either statistic. Some do. Not me.

This must be problem. The river is not that deep, so breakage is likely.

 

Thousands of cars. Any chance these folks are busy? Sign says 24/7!

 

Seriously? How many times must they tell you?

 

The most common sign on the walk up from the river.

 

So many signs for this?

 

They look like boats. They’re trash cans.

Ok, last two have nothing to do with Texas.

There is another word for these.

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Quoting Pat Conroy

I’ve been reading more Pat Conroy. I continue to be impressed with his ability to tell the story and to talk about his life and the lives of others entwined with his. Mostly, I treasure and envy his awesome craft of writing, his vocabulary, and how smooth it flows as I read. I have no right to judge the writing of anyone, much less a man with such a gift.

What I feel as I read his words is not so much judging (as in “love it”). It is about me and my experiences, feelings, and thoughts about a man who was born less than one year before I was; who grew up when I did, but under very different circumstances, and who seems to have lived a life that I oddly, but resonantly, relate to in many twisted and indirect ways. Autobiographical fiction; strangely, I get it.

Except for graphics, the following quotes taken from his writings are my notes. Any error is mine. This was me stopping the flow of my reading to write down Pat’s words. Cuz, picture it, me saying “wow” while reading and then grabbing my notebook.

I have been using Public Library e-books lately, so I cannot highlight as with paper books or on my Kindle app. Yet, writing them down in my notebook may be better for increased mental indelibility and the likelihood of my sharing.

I grouped these by category and added my comments. I realize that context is lost by such grab-and-go’s, but I like them. The photos and memes are not my work, except to click “copy as.”

About writing, reading, and writers

“Fear is the major cargo that American writers must stow away when the writing life calls them into its carefully chosen ranks.” (Agree. I do. I must.)

“…nothing is more natural in his (Tolstoy) world than the mysterious and necessary attraction of men and women…their attraction for each other and impending marriage seems part of the design of the Universe, as right as the stars that make up the belt of Orion.” (Pat read War and Peace three times.)

“Teach me how to die.” (This is one of those phrases when I think, “I wonder what he meant?” Context!)

“I want to always be writing the book I was born to write.” (Exactly.)

“But I’m speaking of all the yesterdays that will not come again.” (Old guys say cool shit like that.)

“…that I get to live in the Old New York Book Shop on the night of a book party.” (This was Pat’s idea of heaven after he died. That book store is no longer there, but it was a big deal to him. Do you have a place like that? A memory so profound and pleasurable that it would do for a permanent state in an afterlife?)

“Nothing is more difficult to overcome than a childhood of privilege….” (Or abusive parents.)

“My childhood taught me everything I needed to know about the dangers of love….” (I intend to use this when I write more on the paradox of love.)

“We got some things right.” (About writing, the publishing writing world, and himself.)

Regarding Norman Berg, Pat’s friend and book rep., “He was a hard man who dismissed fools without conscience or regret…. He was an easy man to dismiss, and a hard one to love.”

“Know everything. Feel everything. That’s your job as a writer.” (Said Norman Berg to Pat, quoted by Pat.)

“The tribe is contentious, the breed dangerous.” (Regards writers and why he claimed to have few friends among them. Pat Conroy had many friends, and many of them were writers. I don’t really know enough writers to have an opinion, but the ones I know, while seemingly neither contentious or dangerous; most are unapologetically opinionated. Norm Berg’s job description?)

“The world of writers was a snake hole, a circle of hell – a rat’s nest and a whirlpool and a dilemma – not just a world.” (Pat was opinionated. I wonder how he felt about French writers? See is time in Paris, below.)

Pat’s youth and college days

“Two pillars of authority, patriarchal influences shaped my childhood. Dad and the Catholic Church. Punishment of anarchy. Contempt for anyone different.” (Mine, too.)

“There was an amazingly limitless capacity for ruthlessness at the heart of the family of man.” (Regards all of life, but learned from the plebe system. This is from The Lords of Discipline.)

“What will this make of me? A man, or a monster?” (Regards surviving his freshman year in college)

“A prize that exacted an awesome tithe of spirit from those who loved it.” (The Lords of Discipline)

“It was sublimation and surrender to the efficacy of denial.” (Pat had something specific in mind, but I can apply this to so many times in my life.)

“The history we are born into always seems natural when we are young, but it seems misshapen and grotesque as the winter years come upon us.” (I have had similar thoughts, but my experiences were a little less profound.)

New words for me

Three of many words I learned and liked reading Conroy: décolletage, oleaginous, and unctuous. (I am smiling and could go on and on and…)

His time in Paris

“Parisians and polar icecaps have a lot in common except that polar icecaps are warmer to strangers.”

“France is the only country in the world where friendliness is one of the seven deadly sins.”

(To be fair, Pat loved his time in France and cherished the memories. But why deny the French acting so “frenchly”?)

 

In our reading life, we must look both ways.
In writing, mind the damn gaps.

Poetry – Imagine This Dream

Is this life a mere dream,
a trance of yours, of mine, a life of ours?
Is my dream just a story,
well designed by mankind?

Must we just die, then and only
to taste the fine wine of the gods?

From some deep sleep must my mind to awake?
Is my dream a divine test, another deal to fake?
Is it only my dream; or ours, this life we make?

Right or wrong, this dream’s much too real,
there is no mistake, and there is no such deal.

What are the answers?
Is truth standing naked?

Nightmares I’ve had, it’s the same for you.
Be there no gods; many, or few;
life is still true. I can feel just how real
I love this dream, in good times and sad.

Yet my time to dream has mostly gone past,
a good life I’ve had with my role in our cast.

Imagine our mysteries and mystical rants,
not like some koan or in magical chants,
Be slave to no master, to no god’s self-will.
Seek no hereafter, no heaven nor hell.

Love life right now, and be fully aware,
soon it will happen, you’re no longer there.

If only the end is all that you seek,
one you’ve not seen, but do certainly dream,
please don’t follow the alluring mystique;
as it has been, my death’s my last scene.

So now in this life, be totally free.
The best of our dream’s what we honestly see.
Imagine all life surrounded with love,
something we feel, not from above.

When life seems too dark
and the future’s too bleak,
Let’s try to imagine this dream we all seek.

I long for our times,
entwined with each other,
seeking my true-love from a Mother who cures,
where light still finds its shining way in
and there’s good in all of creatures,
as Nature herself cares for all things.

From the beginning, now near to the end,
as close as we are, with you my dear friend,
imagine us living this dream we call this life.

Now and forever, true sisters and brothers,
it’s all that we have; right here and right now,
so let’s be so kind and love all that’s nature,
and push toward each other—
All the love we can find.

By Bill Reynolds 10/23/2017

 

Inspired by Lennon’s, Imagine.
Supported by my afflatuses.

 

Learn from the past, plan for the future, live in the present.
That’s looking both ways as you mind the gaps.

 

Texas-Veggies (lovely and not-so-nice plants)

Texas has many beautiful plants. Bluebonnet flowers (Lupinus texensis), for example, are among the brief-flowering, native, spring wild-flower group that grows on roadsides and wild in open fields – stunningly beautiful. They can be cultivated in home gardens. It is the state flower and my wife loves them. We have bluebonnet photos, paintings, and glass art around our home.

Texas longhorn in a field of bluebonnets

She has requested that her ashes be scattered on a field of bluebonnets in Texas. The best bet for that is along the roadsides where their growth is encouraged. It may be the state flower, but fields of beautiful Texas wildflowers have been sacrificed for apartments and parking lots. A similar almost-as-pretty plant, called Indian Paint Brush, can be seen in the same areas.

The natural deep blue color of the bluebonnet is rare in nature. Seen in such great numbers, it is a striking sight often captured by photographers and other artists. One can even sign up for courses in bluebonnet or wildflower photography. The brief season for flowering, around March and April, varies by location and is affected by year-round weather.

Seeds cost about a penny each on Amazon; but like the Texans who claim them, this annual has a mind of its own. They are stubborn and difficult in their own way. Plant seeds in your garden and you may get nothing. Then a year or two later, have a crop pop up from the cracks in your sidewalks five feet from the lovely raised bed you prepared for them.

Bluebonnet seeds are both sensitive and tough. The hard outer-layer must be penetrated by wind, rain, and a difficult climate over months or years to germinate. This happens to the thousands of lively plants seen each Spring. I’ve never thought to smell one of the wildflowers. But while some say it has no aroma, others have described it as a “sickly sweet” smell.

Bluebonnets can be cultivated, but like many things Texas, they can take-over, get in the way of progress, and be obnoxious with excessive pride. Or, they can be the most beautiful of plants with the capacity to bring comfort and the artful beauty of nature into the lives of all lucky enough to see them in full bloom.

When in such glorious, colorful presentation, Texas’ fields of wildflowers attract people with children and cameras, both professional and amateur, who traipse into the fields in hopes of mixing nature’s best with human beauty to record the loveliness on a warm sunny day. Please do, but be wary. In addition to its snakes, tarantulas, chiggers, scorpions, and many other creatures of the stinging, biting, or blood-sucking classes; there may be some stinging life of the vegetation variety lurking just below the comely and attractive surface of flowers. In Texas, one must deal with reality or experience the consequences.

Prickly Pear Cactus with fruit

When my wife and I speak of the prickly pear, we seldom add the word cactus until some innocent soul asks, “What’s that?” One must not consider one’s self as a true Texan, native or immigrant, until one has felt the unforeseen touch of this ubiquitous and annoying plant. The painful and itching touch of prickly barbs that grow abundantly on most varieties is a lesson to be learned from experience. I swear that these pricks can reach out and swipe the legs of any innocent passerby at will. I can hear the merciless, nasty chuckles of the evil bastards even now. There are some needless varieties.

Mule Ear Prickly Pear Cactus

To be fair, the nopales cactus is the most common form and can easily be found throughout desert regions (or anywhere) of the southern US, from Florida to California. It has beaver tail-like thick leaves (although I have seen other shapes, such as the mule-ear variety), and the term prickly pear actually refers to its fruit, a bright neon colored ball that screams “eat me” to cattle. The cow eats it, fails to digest the seeds, passes same with a nice moist cow patty, and a new plant is born. Millions of prickly cacti have started life, literally in a nutritious pile of cow shit.

Cow Patty

The good news is that both the leaves and fruit of the prickly pear plant are edible for both animals and humans. I have eaten the leaves (needleless or needles removed) cut up in scrambled eggs, and I would again if it’s on the menu. Eating the red fruit has been described as a cross between all-natural bubble gum and watermelon. I may try it. The liquid is used for many tasty dishes (see recipes on line).

Stinging Nettles

While Texas probably has the most prickly-pear cactus, it has other unpleasant surprises for your body growing among the lovelies of the field. Stinging nettle is common, annoying, and can be found in other places around the world. More is hidden, lurking in the fields, but other demons are not hidden at all.

Mesquite Tree grove

When Lady Bird Johnson said to, “Plant a tree, a bush, or a shrub,” I feel certain that she did not mean for us to plant a mesquite (pronounced meh-skeet), which can be any of the three. I don’t understand why anyone would plant a prickly pear cactus in their flower bed as a decorative or ornamental, but they do. Anyone, and in Texas for sure, who would deliberately plant a mesquite is either some type of dirt or plant scientist doing research, or a fool. The well-deserved nick name for the mesquite tree is the Devil Tree.

If the normally unwanted cactus is a pox on the Texas landscape, the mesquite tree is a scourge. Yes, the bean pods are edible. The spread of this plague is due to the same pear chomping bovine eating the seed pods or beans, and then crapping out the impossible to digest seeds. Seeds in pods (or beans) can lie dormant for up to 40 years waiting for the right conditions and time to sprout. I wonder how many mesquites have spouted from the rotting carcasses of dead longhorns.

Mesquite seed pods

I have read that mesquite beans have a sugary coating making them quite tasty. I’ve not experienced that taste. Of the 40 species of mesquite, only 7 grow in Texas, the most common being the poorly named honey mesquite. Yet, of the 167.5 million acres that make up this state, honey mesquite flourishes on 56 million of those acres. That means that 76% of all mesquite in America is living in Texas. On any drive through the Texas outback, one can find standing dead mesquite, poisoned with spray herbicides. Owners will have the dead plants bull-dosed and burned. But, the mesquite will return. It’s not that easy to kill the Devil Tree.

Mesquite Tree Thorns

With roots to Hell (or to China, according to my wife), delicate feathery leaves similar to those of a mimosa tree, wood only good for burning in bar-b-que grills or just burning (yes, some shabby, not-so-chic furniture has been made), and nasty thorns up to 3 inches long; the Texas mesquite tree, bush, or shrub is here to stay – useless and as annoying as the sting of a scorpion, but going nowhere soon.

“A native Texan once told me that Texas is one of the most inhospitable places to humans on the planet, coming in just behind Australia. He said that because he believed that Texas has more poisonous critters, and more vegetation that has briars and thorns and poisonous saps than any other place on Earth – except Australia. I do not know if that is true, but I do know that Texas has its share (and maybe a little more) of all the things that man talked about.” ~ C E Clark, read more here.

 

In the midst of incredible beauty, look both ways.
Mind the gaps, the thorns, the barbs, and the stingy-thingies.

Watchout for Critters

Texas Road Runner

According to my on-line dictionary, “critter” is among the bottom half of words for popularity. Texas has them. Lots of them. Most aren’t human, they love it here, and many are annoying and dangerous. Texas wildlife is abundant and diverse, but “Critters of Texas” is also the name of a very large exterminating service. What’s that tell ya?

The Bugs and Bats

I’ve talked about the mosquitoes. Just a few miles west of were we stay in New Braunfels, TX, there are fewer flying insects to annoy us at night. The town of Bracken is there, and near that town is Bracken Bat Cave. From March to October, roosting in that cave is the largest colony of bats in the world: 15 to 20 million Mexican free-tailed critters (32 other species of bat reside in Texas).

Each Spring and Summer evening the Bracken bats exit the cave mouth, flying out in a dark cloud (which is visible on the FAA radar) as they go out for dinner (bats do not like to cook). They chow down on the menu of flying bugs after snatching them out of the air, and go all the way to Mexico and back each night. Thus, fewer bugs. The immigration folks don’t seem to mind. Apparently, they have no desire for our jobs and we sure don’t want theirs.

Crawling creatures, especially bugs, are in ample supply here. It seems like every kind of roach and beetle call the Lone Star State home. But the real scourges are invaders from South America – a tiny ant and a bee.

These Brazilian bastards are called fire ants because their sting burns like fire. They are fast, aggressive, prolific, fearless, and virtually indestructible. There must be billions of them. They range from North Carolina to Texas, and have been found in other places as far west as California. Fire ants are virtually everywhere in this state. Chemical warfare has failed. A species of fly has been imported that lays an egg on the ants. After hatching, the larva eats the head of the ant. Feel free to fact check that.

If you step on a fire ant den, they attack quickly and viciously. First, they will cover half your leg, then you’ll feel an annoying itch. Before you are fully aware of your folly, the stings are setting in and your language changes to the cries of the victim. Anaphylactic shock is common and about 5% of fire ant attacks in the US are fatal.

Even hurricane Harvey and all the flooding did little harm to fire ants.

View from our back deck. Chemical warfare on fire ants has failed.

Don’t even get me started on the killer bees, another gift from our South American neighbors.

The Snakes

I don’t like snakes. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s Eve and the forbidden fruit thing, but I have never been comfortable eye-to-eye with a long limbless reptile with no eyelids. It seems there are three kinds of snakes: non-venomous, venomous, and extremely venomous. Texas has an ample supply of all three. Even in mid-October, it’s still warm enough here for snakes, but I am not looking for that kind of companionship.

This weekend, we are on the outskirts of Colorado City, TX, just 30 miles west of Sweetwater, TX, home of the largest rattlesnake roundup in the country — probably in the world. I know snakes are virtually everywhere, I simply have come to associate Texas with snakes. A few years ago, my wife killed a coral snake in pool area of our back yard. We lived in burbs of San Antonio at the time. That’s too close.

The Lizards

Again, Texas shares its lizardry with the rest of the American Southwest. But one, called the horny toad (a name I have always liked), is as cool as it is ugly. My apologies to all supporters, students, and alumni of Texas Christian University (TCU), in Fort Worth, aka ‘Cowtown,’ for the disparaging comment regarding the attractiveness of their school mascot. I took at least 12 semester hours of master’s level coursework there. So, while I spent my time as a horned frog, and while have been called either a toad or horny, my time in your school was the one experience putting the two words together about me.

On my walk yesterday, I set out to find one. I did, but it was ‘itty-bitty’ (small). The state’s population of these harmless creatures is on the decline due in no small part to fire ants. It seems like the Brazilian bastards do not like harvester ants and the invaders destroy the native ants. Harvester ants are the main food supply for horney toads. Another problem for the lizards and the good ants is the continued prevalence and misuse of pesticides. But that is caused by ignorant invader toads of the two-legged variety.

Special Critters

These are the mysterious, adventurous, and lovely semi-wild creatures who refer to me as ‘Opa,’ and call Yolonda ‘Oma.’ More to come on that, but they also live in Texas.

When doing yer walkabout in Texas, look both ways,
especially in the wild.
Know this, there be critters lurking in the gaps, so mind them.

Signs Yer in Texas

I’m on thin ice here. Texas is different and the natives (Texans) not only insist on it, Texas Pride demands it with few boundaries. It was also 86-cents a 6-pack beer when I was in college. I married a Texas girl, all my kids were born here, and they all read my dribble.

Before traveling, people asked if we or our family lived anywhere near Houston and the flooding from hurricane Harvey. We are about 150 miles west of Houston, so family was on the outer bands of the storm—no damage or flooding, just rain.

Things from my morning walk…

Barbed wire (called “bob-war” in Tex-speak) may be useful for controlling cows, but it’s annoying and dangerous to humans. Putting up such fencing when it’s unnecessary is foolish, but they do it. And they run that miserable prison shit-wire right into the river. WTF is the point of that? There is not a farm, farm animal, ranch, or cow within miles. This is an in-town resort with people and kids. The state motto is “Friendship,” but nuthin’s friendly about that wire. And don’t give me that “good fences-good neighbors” crap. Pointed wire bits that can rip your skin off is not good, neighborly, or friendly.

Texas highways have the best signs. Some are funny. Like up by Moran, a little dry-spot of a town of four or five hundred hardy souls. “Moran next four exits.” It is not on an interstate, there are no exits, and you drive through town. If ya blink, ya miss it. Sarcasm and I love it. Better yet, “Moran Yacht Club Next Right.” There is no yacht club, no water or lake, just cactus and tumbleweed, residents with a sense of humor, and one joker who works for the highway department.

So, as I entered Cypress Bend Park on my walk this morning, I got a chuckle out of the signs at the entrance.

Don’t you dare pop that top until your ass is off our grass. The Guadalupe is kinda green now, but I bet it’s a high yellow color during the summer months.

Know what state you are in. And in this one, fear the sun. And for god’s sake, smile as you fry.

WTF is a “volume drinking device?” Do we need signs to remind us not to jump to our death? Lock yer cooler, the fish are thirsty.

It is not only the heat that is brutal in Texas. The norm for rain is the accompaniment of loud thunder and deadly lightning. Do the peeps here really need signs reminding them to use common sense? Seriously?

If you aren’t concealed (gun) carry licensed in Texas, you must be a namby-pamby liberal Yankee. Thus, if you visit the state capitol, you must pass through the metal detector. That is not required for the 80% who work there and are so-licensed. We know you’re carrying, so just go ahead.

Open carry is also common virtually everywhere in Texas and a gun rack in your pickup is standard, if not required, equipment.

But listen here, Cowboy. Do not open that beer until you’re “feet wet.” And above all, do not dare to open-carry your own bar-b-que grill into this here park. That would be dangerous. Comprehendo, Sundance? (Said the sheriff with a big smile.)

See? Thin ice. I will hear about this.

Look both ways for an easy way through those barb wire fences.
Mind the gaps and don’t jump off the bridges sober.

Along the Guadalupe

After putting this on Facebook, I decided that it may make a nice blog read. We are spending the month of October in Texas. Western Washington State, where we currently live, and south-central Texas are vastly different in climate, geography, and culture. Even the Mexican food here is different (called Tex-Mex). We are “from” Texas. Wife is native-born and I’m a damn-Yankee (she always said it’s one word) transplant. We are staying near the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels. What follows documents my last adventure walking her banks.

I added bug spray to our Wally World shopping list. On my walk this morning, I realized that “humid” is not the same everywhere. Here, it’s oppressive and crushingly heavy, even at 75 degrees. I fed the Texas mosquitos. I plan to heed the signs I’ve seen warning of the illnesses caused by fighting the “battle of the bite.” I wonder how my blood mixed with BP meds and Plavix made the skeeters feel. They were picking on me cuz my thin blood is an easy suck and swallow.

Near a local veteran’s place, I passed a fowl pair, one of whom gave me ample verbal warning. I was not plagued by attack from the VFW ducks cuz after I told them that I had friends who graduated from Oregon U., they let me pass.

It rained nicely during my walk and I enjoyed it. The rain was pleasant for here; no down-pouring buckets or lightening, which is the norm. I got wet; not soaked by the much-appreciated morning gift from the “friendship” state. I was not okay with the hungry insects.

As I was walking along with the wet grass and bushes brushing against my bare legs, I saw the sign: “Warning: Poison Ivy.” Oh, great; right? Maybe the ivy’s growth was restricted to that one little patch? Or, maybe the rain washed the poison off. I saw two men walking toward me. They both had fishing rods and hunting a good spot to wet their lines. I pointed to the sign and said, “Now they tell me.” They had a good laugh.

The last time I fished, I had much more hair and many fewer wrinkles. Long ago, I decided it was too much trouble and way too much of nothing else.

 

Apparently, trees have numbers for names in these parts. I met Mr. 2292 and his family (the Cupressaceaes) on my walk. He didn’t tell me why he is called a “bald cypress” (Taxodium Distichium) when he is clearly not bald. But that name sounds like a character in a dystopian book, right? And they say Latin is a dead language—ppffftt! (Bald is cuz they lose their leaves in winter; something no self-respecting Distichium does.)

I did not see Chris and Mona Lisa, who were inspired to write their names on one of the cypress to advertise their love. I hope that works out for all concerned, but I’m betting the tree outlasts the love.

The “no diving” sign at the pool makes the reason very clear. Ouch! I think I still liked fishing the last time I dove into a swimming pool.

I saw this quote to share with you: “Grief is love with nowhere to go.”

Have a good day.

Look both ways. Once you see the poison ivy sign, it may be too late.
Mind the gaps, the water’s cold.