"Dealing with plants damaged by Winter Storm Uri" By Greg Grant Texas A&M AgriLife Smith County Extension Agent-Horticulture

   There is no way of currently knowing the extent of the damage or whether your plants will survive or not. It will take weeks or months to know, if or when, they start to resprout and what part of the plant resprouts.
   Evergreen Woody Shrubs, Vines, and Groundcovers (Asian jasmine, azalaeas, camellias, confederate jasmine, eleagnus, fatsia, fig ivy, gardenias, Indian hawthorns, ligustrum, loquat, loropetalum, oleander, pittosporum, privet, roses, sasanquas, sweet olive, Texas sage, wax myrtle, etc.): Wait until they start to resprout from the existing stems or the ground, then cut away dead and leave what is alive and growing. 
   There will most likely be no blooms this year and all old foliage will most likely fall off. 

"Cursing ERCOT as we look for the right t-joint " by: Mike Reddell

   We’re still mostly without water here at the Reddell household with our spider web cracks – and some larger - in our water lines.
   As we sat working on last week’s paper we heard a startling noise – really more like a loud thump - that we would later learn is caused by plastic pipes breaking because of the frigid temperatures in our attic.
   Since then, MaLinda and I have been hunting down PVC pipes and connections.
   Those were non-existent in Bay City – one friend posted a meme showing guys sitting around a poker table with plumbing joints used as chips.
   Calls into plumbers left us on one list at No. 69 – maybe.
   We’re blessed, however, with good neighbors who’ve been helping. 
   Like countless others beset with plumbing nightmares, you’re also stuck with the reality that had the power stayed on the pipes would have been fine.


"Winter Storm Uri: the unwanted gift that keeps on giving" by: Jessica Shepard

   In the next installment of our Winter Storm Uri saga, we’re still patching leaky pipes in the attic.
   Now, I say “we” because it’s a team effort even if mom’s the one upstairs crawling into tight spaces.
   It started easily enough with only one busted pipe and another cracked one.
   Relatively easy fixes when we have some PVC pipe lying around and all mom needed to do was buy fittings in Lake Jackson.
   Well, that and a whole bunch of different JB Weld and FlexSeal products just in case.
   Sadly, once mom actually cut through the busted pipe and brought it downstairs into the sunlight, we realized that all of her preparation work was pretty much useless.
   See, all the plastic pipes in our attic are CPVC – something which I didn’t even know was different from regular PVC.
   I honestly only thought it was yellowed because it was old.


"Is it really too much to ask for ethical behavior?" by: John Sample

   Last week’s events provided examples of variables that you wouldn’t associate with free enterprise. 
   I believe in free enterprise as espoused by Milton Friedman, the esteemed professor from the Chicago School of Economics. 
   The events that transpired last week due to the weather provided two examples of situations that shouldn’t occur if the free-enterprise theory was practiced purely.
   The first situation is Texas has become one of the largest producers of renewable energy with wind and solar. 
   I served 10 years on the local electric utility. 
   We moved from contracts with suppliers generating power from natural gas to a majority of power in the near future coming from renewables. We did this for pure economic reasons. 
   The renewables offered long-term contracts at lower prices than we could obtain from natural gas generation. 


What can investors learn from 2020?

   Now that we’re several weeks into the new year, it’s a good time to look back at 2020.
   What can investors learn from a most unusual year?
   First, stay focused on your goals.
   Although the financial markets plunged when the pandemic hit, they rallied strongly the rest of the year, rewarding investors who stuck with their long-term strategies. 
   Next, always look for investment possibilities.
   Even during a down market, many stocks have strong fundamentals – and they may be attractively priced.
   Smart investors take advantage of these opportunities.
   Third, try to own different types of investments.
   Bond prices often move in different directions from stocks.
   So, when stocks are down, owning bonds can help stabilize your portfolio.
   Finally, be aware that the financial markets always look ahead.


"The Lord has plans for our lives and it rings true every day" by: Betsy Monico

   What can I share this week? We went from Covid concerns here locally, afraid to cough in public or at work, and entered into a horrific winter storm. 
   I still have buckets in my bathroom stored and waiting eagerly, just in case someone needs to flush. 
   Yes, water still ranks high on the list of needs. It only competes with bread, milk, and eggs. 
   My trivial concerns are: Will my jeans fit tomorrow and will I survive without a morning nap? 
   Yes, mine are unimportant. 
   I stayed home for an entire week. Knowing my previous driving record, and that an insurance adjustor knew my Dad and Eddie Shultz on a first-name basis related to my adolescent wrecks, permitted me to happily remain parked and content. 
   Thank the Good Lord, my children are older. They were not rumbustious at all. 
   We played in the snow, took turns keeping the fire going, and survived well. 
   We only were forced to endure rolling black-outs. 


"When we realize God isn’t sending suffering, we can resist because we know God’s heart " by: Caleb Gibson

   Suffering, how should we deal with this? 
   How can we go to God when we are going through a difficult time? 
   Should we clinch our teeth and just get through it? Or is there a response that God wants us to have during the trials of this life?
   Suffering can definitely lead us closer to God. I stand as a witness to this fact. 
   As a pastor for the past four years, I have seen many people go through difficult times and go to church seeking guidance. 
   Some were in financial trouble, relationship trouble, and others had trouble with the law. 
   Many crisis moments can cause people to seek God.
   There are two ways to react to suffering. 
   We can get sick and say, “Well this must be God’s will, I’m going to suffer through this.” 
   Or, we can realize that God calls sickness a curse. 
   We can also remember that it is the devil who comes to, “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). 


"Reel Reviews: ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ hits big screens, streams at home now" by: Jessica Shepard

   Due to Winter Storm Uri last week, I struggled to find a new movie to watch and review for you dear readers.
   Which, honestly, was made harder not just by the loss of water and power, but the frigid weather outside.
   And anyone who knows me knows that once it gets below freezing, I’m never leaving the house.
   All of that lead me to find “Judas and the Black Messiah” on HBOMax and stream it finally when we got a consistent internet signal Saturday evening.
   The film is rated R for violence and pervasive language and clocks in at 126 minutes long.
   Judas and the Black Messiah is a biographical drama film about the betrayal of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in late-1960s Chicago, at the hands of FBI Informant William O’Neal.


"A seemingly never-ending winter beatdown" by: Mike Reddell

   In my long years in Texas – mostly in places where snowfall is described as a dusting – whatever white stuff is on the ground when the sun arrives soon disappears.
   Looking out my front window late Monday afternoon, the light layer of snow still stands from early this morning after several hours in the sun.
   The astonishing plunge of temperatures that remained long after overnight Sunday’s winter storm is the reason. 
   Of course this winter’s tale isn’t limited to the bitterly cold temperatures.
   It’s more like if things could get worse they did. 
   Traffic accidents from the cold, wet weather began last week, headlined by the horrifying 135-vehicle pileup that claimed six lives on I-35 near Fort Worth.
   If that accident did anything positive it was to impress the need to stay off icy, slick roads.
   Then there were the outages.


"Reminder to be careful what I ask for when I want snow" by: Jessica Shepard

   When I envisioned a winter wonderland sort of landscape earlier last week, it was mainly viewed from the comfort of the couch and roaring fireplace.
   Instead, we’ve got some of the coldest days on record with snow flurries and a mess of frozen rain that just capped everything off with ice.
   It wasn’t my fondly remembered account of snow during my college days in San Angelo.
   No, this is the evil sort of arctic weather that reminds me why we live so far south anyway.
   And it’s the first time we’ve really experienced a long-term power outage for our house, too.
   Which, sadly, means we’re out of water and heat – two important life essentials.
   We’ve got both fireplaces and our emergency generator going – but it’s a struggle to keep the cold at bay.
   Layering up certainly helped some, but, overall I’d rather have the heater back on!


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