Writing a note…

Quill pen and bookWhen it comes to computers, I’m pretty smart
and don’t do too bad for such an old fart
when the technology first came out
I embraced it without even a doubt
of disbelief with wonders so fine
of how I could type a printed line
with two fingers only I do fear
as typing was not a skill that was taught
as most people had to work hard to write
with a stubby pencil and then before long
the Biro was invented, an English term
for ball point pens as they were known then.

Before this wonder of the modern age
a pen and ink were always displayed
so prominently on every school desk
and penmanship was really a test
of patience and caring and taking time
to make your writing so very fine
and it was an art all by itself
to write letters in longhand
with words oh so neat
that those who received them
were in for a treat.

Nowadays written letters are rare
from someone close that really does care
and has taken the time to sit down and write
in longhand although it has to be said
that the writing itself just gets by
and is no longer an art as in yesterday
no pen and ink to put down words
instead a ball point pen of the modern kind
to scribble a note barely able to read
as writing is becoming a lost art
as everyone types, so much easier to do
and if you can’t spell don’t worry about it
the computer will check and corrections make
and your choice of fonts that you can even fake
the writing of old that was done with care
in days gone by when people had time
when they wanted to drop a line.

Old Fashioned Writing

Old Fashioned Writing

Do I miss the good old days
I guess I do in so many ways
when it comes to sending a note
my writing is not that good I’m afraid
for me the computer is a really good thing
as now, people can read what I write
and my words are not held up in the post
as instead they are sent as quick as a flash
by e-mail, the modern way to send notes
and although, no personal touches are there
the printed word is what we share.

As only old folks can remember when
we used to write with an old-fashioned pen
and that’s the way that it should be
as time marches forward to a modern age
and just as it quickly turns the page.
and old people like me have to scramble to learn
and to keep up with youth as its their turn
and life will never again be the same.
and I’m glad to be a part of that game.

Considering the alternatives…

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Austin Pond Society Thanksgiving/Christmas Party 2014

APS Christmas Party 2014

Austin Pond Society  Christmas/Thanksgiving  Party 2014

The Austin Pond Society held its Annual Thanksgiving/Christmas party this past Monday at the Zilker Park Botanical Gardens Meeting Room which was attended by more than fifty members and guests, Our new chef, Laura Creaser excelled with an enormous spread added to by the members. There was a huge assortment of food with the main course of Pork and Chicken. The members additions included salads and casseroles and deserts. I had a piece of apple pie that was out of this world. Of course, that was not all that I had as my plate was loaded when I went back to where the cameras were set up to enjoy the food. I resorted to moving the video camera in between mouthfuls.

Following the meal, we had a small piece of business in electing, or in most cases,re-electing the officers for next year and then we turned our attention to a visit by the Austin Police Departments Blue Santa. many of us had brought unwrapped gifts of toys for the needy children which were presented to Blue Santa. He had circulated among us as we were eating spreading the Christmas word and he and several “helpers” all gave a brief outline of the program.

Following his visit, it was time to have fun and play a few games. The group broke out into four teams as it was time to get competitive and play some games that BJ and Sam had come up with. There were three games in all bordering on the ridiculous but it didn’t bother the very eager participants as they joined in with much enthusiasm. We didn’t have any money left over after we gave away the Million Dollar prize last years so this years winners had to settle for bragging rights until next year. We did get a group picture as you can see above.

This meeting is the last for this year as we don’t meet in December. Our next one is January 19, 2015, same place and same time. Hope to see you all there.
On behalf of the Austin Pond Society and for myself personally, I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I hope that Santa, the one in the red suit, is kind to you all on Christmas Day and for the upcoming year.

Below are the links to the videos

First up is the Business part of the meeting, mostly Election of Officers to serve on next years Board.

APS Business November 2014 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Next up is Blue Santa speaking to the group about the Blue Santa Program.

Blue Santa from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Finally Fun and Games where the members can make absolute fools of themselves and nobody cares…

Fun and Games from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Oh to be a dog (or a cat)…

BeBe looking Sleepy

Bebe looking Sleepy

I was sitting in front of my computer looking at a blank screen and thinking how quiet and peaceful it is. Outside, the weather is cold at a chilly 45 degrees and it is a dull grey and sombre day. It is one of those days when you know that it is not going to rain any amount, a much-needed blessing in my part of Texas, but just dull and cloudy. There is enough cloud that the sun is not peeping through, not even one little bit..

Because it is so quiet, my mind turned to the dogs and cats and what they are doing. Bebe, the oldest of the four dachshunds who is now probably at least 14 or 15 years old and getting a little deaf, is curled up in one of the new doggy baskets that I had recently bought them, fast asleep and seemingly, not a care in the world. Whenever she can, she will sit behind me in my office chair resulting in me having to make do with just half a seat. It’s a little uncomfortable for me but Bebe seems to like it just fine.  Bebe has one goal in life and that is food, any kind of food one of which is raw carrots  She had previously had some medical issues that required taking out her thyroid resulting on her having a special diet. As far as I know, carrots are not on the list of food she is not supposed to eat but again, it would truly be a dog’s life is she couldn’t have any treats. Bebe is a black and tan and the only one different in color. She is supposed to be a miniature of the breed and does have very short legs and the outlines of this small breed of dachshund. Unfortunately, with  her love of food and her medical problems, she does not have the sleek lines of Richie and Ginny.

Abigail looking for attention

Abigail looking for attention

Abigail, the next oldest, is a standard size dachshund weighing about twenty pounds and is the bully of the group. Not that she attacks or bites the other dogs but rather that she uses her size to push her way in and them out-of-the-way especially when we are all on the couch in the evening watching television. Well, maybe I am the one watching television and they are all asleep! She also likes to eat and can devour food at an amazing rate and is usually finished before the others have hardly started their food but she never tries to steal theirs away from them. She too likes carrots but I am not sure if she truly likes them or just does not want any of the other dogs to get them. She is sleeping on the living room couch which she calls her domain.

Ginny the new girl

Richie looking alert

Richie is the only male and is pretty laid back unless he feels that one of the others needs a lesson. Only then does he assert himself and puts them back in their place in the pecking order. He spends his days out in the yard searching for the rats and mice that are there. He is pretty good at catching them and generally either buries them or eats them. He does not just hunt rodents, he goes after the squirrels of which there are quite a few, especially when they come down to steal the birdseed out of the feeders or to get water. He loves to chase the buzzards even though they are circling and wheeling up in the sky. He madly dashes from one end of the garden to the other when one of them flies over. I saw a small feral kitten the other day in front of the house and being a good Samaritan put some food out for it. That was a mistake as the kitten found its way into the back yard and ran into Richie who promptly killed it and half buried it. He has this thing against cats and even though there are two in the house, I always have to put them in a separate room away from the dogs when I go out. He has managed to have a go at both of them resulting in one losing her tail and the other developing diabetes,. Not sure if that was a direct result or just discovered when he had to go to the vets to get sewn up. There was a previous third cat that didn’t make it through the night after Richie’s close attentions. He is a sweet little dog except as far as other animals are concerned although he makes no moves at the cats when I am home and even shows signs of affection for them. Probably knows he will get the crap beaten out of him if he so much as tries. Right now, because it is cold out, he is sleeping on the couch that is in the bedroom that he has taken over as his own personal spot.

Ginny looking for trouble

Ginny looking for trouble

Lastly, there is the latest of the bunch, a small breed little girl named Ginny who weighs a little over twelve pounds. She is without a doubt the funniest of them all, always in a hurry tearing around wherever she goes. Always at top speed. She has this thing for cat food and whenever I have to go into the office which is now the cats room, she tears in ahead of me and does her little prancing dance just to get the cat food. She is really sweet and affectionate and a great bed warmer as she sleeps under the covers against my back. All of them are rescue dogs coming from various and different circumstances. At the present moment, Ginny is practicing her imitation of a hot water bottle and is snuggled under the covers in the bed. With the exception of Bebe, all of the others are the regular orange brown color of the typical smooth coated dachshunds.

All four of these dogs are employed by the Dachshund Watchdog Service Company that is supposed to patrol the yard and keep the Heron away from eating the fish. Unfortunately, they have recently been quite literally sleeping on the job resulting in the heron having some success in the goldfish pond.I have told them that this is the last chance they will have to do the job right and unless they shape up, I will have to get another watchdog service and have them replaced.I am waiting to see the results of this discussion…

The two cats, the tail less one named Ellie and the diabetic one, named Brown Cat (he is a Siamese), are sleeping in their usual spots, Ellie on the bed keeping Ginny company from a distance and Brown Cat in one of the closets. I envy them sometimes, two squares a day and all of the sleep they want in a nice warm house. What could be better (as long as they are not alone with Richie).

Brown Cat

Brown Cat

As I mentioned previously, we all sit on the couch in the evenings and generally Brown Cat will make his way up there as well. So if you can picture Richie to my right, Ginny on my lap, Bebe next to me on the left, Abigail next to Bebe and finally Brown Cat either between them or on the end. If I get up to get something, they open ranks and spread out and I have a devil of a time regaining my original spot. In the evenings when we all retire for the night, they all join me in the King sized bed with Abigail and Ginny always under the covers, Bebe on the top but usually covered by her own little blankie and Richie on his couch until he gets cold then he climbs under the covers with the rest of us. The two cats position themselves wherever they can find a spot and sometimes I will wake up to find that Ellie is sleeping next to my face. She seems to be doing this more and more just lately. I guess its her way of showing more affection as she grows old.

Ellie in her favorite place

Ellie in her favorite place.

My dogs and cats are great company for me and can always cheer me up if I happen to be down which is not often. They give me another angle to my life as I am responsible for them and take that very seriously. When I have to make decisions about their quality of life, I generally cry like a baby if I have to put them to sleep and every animal  I have lost has left a void in my heart which I generally fill by getting another rescue. Now though, I am seriously thinking of the future and what may be down the road. I want to outlive all of my pets if that is at all possible and even though I have no control over it, that is my wish. So, in all probability, these are the last pets I will have as we all grow old together. Currently, there are eleven dogs and sundry cats buried in different places in my yard, the end result of thirty years of friendship and love.

BTW, the hundred or so goldfish and Koi that are in the five ponds are not considered pets at least the same as the dogs and cats. They get sick and die with no warning and after all, its hard to get affectionate with a cold-blooded thing with scales that lives in (cold) water….

Cold Weather

Snow in New York State

Snow in New York State

I do not like the cold
maybe because I’m getting old
it creeps under my very skin
and seems to freeze me from within
I have to put on extra clothes
as the cold gets to my toes
and long pants instead of shorts
to keep my legs warm as I walk.

My beautiful garden will soon be gone
leaving me to clean up the mess
as the frost kills the lush growth
and  drooping plants is all that remains
I feel so sad to see them gone
but glad to know they are not dead
and when springtime comes around
they will again raise their lovely heads.

In the ponds as the water cools
and dormant soon the fish will be
as the cold weather gives them stress
and Nature slows their bodies down
and on the bottom they will stay
until the water warms  in May.

The cold has come early this year
usually December it appears
but when a storm across the Mid West
it will always be a test
for there is nothing in between
except flat land and prairie wide
open to the sky for the wind to bring
cold weather with no end in sight
to freeze my bones, keep me indoors
and give me a chance to sit and write

I should not really complain
as winter here is usually mild
a couple of days of frost here and there
and maybe sometimes a little ice rain
but Spring for us will start early March
and by then things will already be green
but I still do not like the cold
and it’s not because I am growing old.

I just don’t like it…

Change of Season

Windy Day

Windy Day

Today the weather has changed
and there is a chill in the air
a little early for us here in Central Texas
as we usually get winter in January
but Nature has decided to be a little different
and the air is cold.

The sun is shining bright but has little heat
unless you find a sheltered place
out of the wind and in the sun
and then you can feel its warmth
my dogs already know this
and are laying in the sun
out of the wind
in their sheltered spot.

I do not like the cold
I like to feel the sun on my back
and to feel its warmth without finding that special spot
but I am cheered by the thought
that this is Texas and the cold will go away
-soon.

Boy, He sure looks old…

Growing Old

Growing Old

It seems to me as I grow older, that others all around are not changing. Of course that is not true as they are aging too but because we see them frequently, we do not notice their changes. Then, I will run into someone I haven’t seen in a while and I look at them and say to myself, “Boy, he sure looks old”. They, in turn, the minute I am out of earshot are saying the same thing. That’s after having both greeted each other with a,”You are looking good, how are you feeling?” or words to that effect. In turn, we always respond with “I’m feeling great, just great”, all the time trying to forget the various aches and pains  and creaky bones and joints that old age brings on us. And lets not forget that all the while you are talking to them, you are scratching your head and racking your brains to remember their name.The way I see it, you  can give the standard response when asked how you are or bore them to death with a litany of the most recent health issues. The problem with the latter approach is that you are opening up the door for them to load on you. Besides, most people will not hear you out as they impatiently want to share their various issues. Funny how that is.

Then I hear of a long time friend who is either sick from an incurable disease or has already succumbed to one. The people who die are all about the same age as ourselves which really gets me thinking, and if one poor unfortunate is younger by a few years, then the immediate thoughts are, “Well, I outlived him (or her)” almost with a feeling of triumph. It is to be expected that none of us age alone. It is not something that any of us has a monopoly on nor would we want to.

But even so, it still comes as a shock when we hear of a friend who is mortally ill and has only days to live. As we grow older, the people around us are doing the same which, of course is only logical as aging is not the personal property of any one of us. We cannot claim ownership or believe that we are the only ones with the divine right to grow old. What is worse, we have no choice in the matter. We cannot say, “Not today, I am not growing a day older today, maybe tomorrow”.

No, my friends, it is happening to us all and even though some of us may show it more (or less) than others, we are all aging at exactly the same speed. So, the next time that you bump into someone who you haven’t seen in a while, remember, you are both probably thinking the exact same thing, “Boy, he sure looks old”.