A Three Dog Night

fallcorn1936:

Wonderful story from a very funny and humorous dog lover

Originally posted on Storyshucker:

I agreed to dogsit for two friends while they vacationed in Greece. I stayed in the home of The Mama, a beautiful, independent, occasionally indignant, red Siberian husky. Staying with us for the duration were two miniature long-haired dachshunds. Effie Mae and Pearl Jean are two cream-colored half-sisters, short, pretty, and comical as only weenies can be.

Directions on the care of these three took some learning. Pearl Jean, deaf since birth, understands several hand signals which I had to master. The Mama is blind in one eye and requires a daily series of eye drops. Effie Mae has an uncontrollable urge to lick people. Anywhere. Anytime.

My traveling friends have known each other for years. Their dogs are well acquainted and see each other often so it was no major production when the weenies were brought over for their stay with The Mama and me. Pearl Jean, a bit shorter in…

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Mother Nature’s Art

August Flowers

August Flowers

I took a walk out in the garden
and saw the flowers growing there.
for they have such beauty
that I felt I had to share

Ruella and Spider Lily, Yellow Bells and Datura
these are the ones whose name I know
and there were a couple more
all in a group and putting on a show.

I took my pictures of one and then all
just as they are beautifully growing
and saw the same flowers throughout the yard
as Mother Nature’s art was showing.

August Flowers 2014 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.
Music is Blue Odyssey from Elevations by Erik Wøllo

 

McKinney Roughs Nature Park – August 2014

One of the McKinney Trails

One of the McKinney Trails

 

BACK TO McKINNEY – 8-3-2014

Due to the work attached to the Pond Tour both in preparation of my own ponds and then the write ups and video work for the “Ripples”, I had not had any time to take any walks in the past three months and felt it was time to get back to it. So, at the last-minute, I decided to go hiking today at McKinney Roughs Nature Park in Bastrop.

I hastily collected my camera gear, a bottle of water and some fruit and made the 30 mile trip to Bastrop. I had previously slathered myself in sun tan protection and grabbed the hat with the neck cover and was ready to go.

When I arrived at the Highway 71 trail head,there was only one other car in the parking lot and the two people it belonged to, emerged from the trails as I was getting ready to go leaving me as the only person hiking in from that end of the park. It was around 1:00 pm and I would have to assume that most of the other hikers and horse people had probably arrived early when it was much cooler. As it was,the temperature was in the low 90’s, not bad for a summer’s day in Texas.

Old Building

Old Building

I chose to hike the Whitetail Trail which would eventually merge with Bobcat Trail and finally back home via the Pine Ridge Trail. I considered a couple of others but decided that as I hadn’t been hiking in a couple of months and considering how hot it was, decided that taking the shorter trails made more sense. As it was, the trails I chose covered about five miles and my trusty pedometer said I had burned 480 calories as an added bonus.

The trails were very dry and dusty as we haven’t had any rain in a while. This made for a lot of deep sand in much of the trail making it even tougher to walk. Loose sand is difficult stuff to walk on as it is hard to get traction and can be very tiring. One thing about hiking alone in my case is that allows me to take a lot of pictures as I can choose my own pace. Another odd thing that I have noticed at McKinney is the absence of birds. Although I heard them, I only saw a couple on the whole walk, one flew off a small pond that I came across and looked like a Green Heron. The other was a Chickadee. Maybe I frighten them off before I get to them but it is strange there are not more.

I have learned from experience in hiking country trails to always keep an eye on the trail in front of me just in case there may be a snake or two

Pond at McKinney

catching a few rays. I would normally expect that I would be making enough noise for them to hear me coming but just in case, I am always keeping my eyes open. Today, I didn’t see any. It’s not that I am afraid of them but I don’t like those sort of surprises.

When I used to breed parakeets, many years ago, I went into the bird room one day and tried to close the inner wire door as I normally did just by pushing it shut behind me. When it wouldn’t close, I turned around to see what was wrong and discovered I was eyeball to eyeball with a big old snake that was draped over the top of the door. I must have screamed in surprise as my wife of the time, heard me from inside the house and came running out. By then I had recovered enough that between us, we shooed it off the door and back into the woods where it belonged. It was at least six feet long and was a big old tree snake. Harmless, but very frightening when you are eyeballing each other. I like snakes to be on the ground.

I diverse, back to the walk. It took me a couple of hours to complete the trip. The last part of the trail heading down from the Ridge is by a series of man-made wood and dirt steps. It was a little

Man made steps

Man made steps

tricky and I had to be careful so as not to go ass over tip and end up falling down the slope but I safely completed the walk down. The steps are in need of some work as a lot of the soil has washed out.  At the bottom, the trail levels and follows a dried up-stream that had water in it the last time I was there. Finally, another climb only this time, going up. Again, I had to manoeuvre more of the same sort of staircase made of wood and dirt. It was pretty steep and quite tiring but I managed it without incident. The final stretch is on fairly level ground giving me time to recover from the climb and walk the final half mile back to my car.

I was totally soaked from my exertions and had foreseen this and brought a change of clothes. Changing was not a problem as I was still the only car in the parking lot. As I was finishing packing my cameras, another truck towing a horse

Two of the horses

Two of the horses

trailer pulled in and two people got out. They unloaded two horses that were already saddled up and ready to go. On my way out, I waved to them and being the friendly Texans that they probably were, they waved back. I knew they had to be Texans as they both wore cowboy hats and the lady had on boots. Probably the guy did too but I couldn’t tell. Just kidding.

All in all, I really enjoyed the hike and it’s time to get back into the walking routine, Texas heat and all.

For a link to the slideshow:

McKinney 8-3-2014 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

One Wish

Cottage in the woods

Cottage in the woods

If I had but one wish
which did not include the obvious things
like perfect health or maybe wealth
enough to buy me everything.

I would wish for a plot of land
deep inside a wood so thick
away from all of the everyday things
that are our current reckoning.

 

I would like to wind back the clock
and live in a much simpler way
sheltered from the noise and stress
the sound of silence to convey

I like the house where I currently live
and the ponds and garden for which I care
but the traffic is now so very bad
it makes me wish to be elsewhere.

Eighteen wheelers and concrete trucks
roar up and down from early morn
and do not quit the incessant din
until the sun goes down on them.

When I first moved in thirty years ago
this was a quiet country lane
with little traffic and not much noise
unfortunately times have changed.

I am still not that old
to want to make that sort of move
and maybe when the time is right
back to the woods we go in full flight.

On the other hand the very thought
of packing all of the junk that I have
not only the house but three sheds as well
or maybe I could hold a sale.

Even so, it would still take time
cleaning out those sheds of mine
deciding what to keep and what to sell
sounds to me like a job from hell.

Some of my tools I have had for years
and others from England I did bring
some do not get used much anymore
but in my heart they still keep score.

OK, maybe I can put up with the noise
of the trucks as they rumble by
as it’s easier to just stay put
than to pack up and move all of this stuff.

Trail in the woods

Trail in the woods

I think I’ll wait until the day
when my soul has slipped away
and in a box they carry me out
and someone else the mess to clean.

At least then concrete trucks noise
will no longer bother me
and the only thing that I will hear
will be the singing of the heavenly choir.

“If I am lucky…”

Audiobooks and working out.

Logo

Logo

Since the invention of smart phones and Bluetooth, it makes sense that the next logical step was for someone to think up a way to provide Audiobooks. What that meant was that people like me, instead of having to turn pages and make the effort to read and understand the words, am able to listen to someone else making that effort for me for which I am very grateful.

Audiobooks are now to me, a great source of pleasure and I listen at every opportunity. I even look forward to working out at the gym every other day so that I can continue with the story of the moment.  I put my I-Phone in my pocket and put on a very nice set of Bluetooth earphones and I’m ready. It is not unusual for people to give me strange looks or move to a different piece of equipment further away from me because I have suddenly burst out laughing at something I just heard.

When I bought my new Ford Escape at the start of the year, I knew it had Bluetooth capabilities but did not realize just how good it is. Now,

2014 Ford Escape Titanium

2014 Ford Escape Titanium

when I am going anywhere at all, I press a button a female voice answers me and asks what it is I want. Usually,it is one of two things at least when it is something to do with Entertainment. One command is “Bluetooth Audio” at which I get a response and before I know it, my story is on and starts at the exact spot that I previously left off. The other command is for channel 90.5 which brings up the local NPR station with the latest news. Sometimes either I or The Voice gets it wrong and I have since learned the quickest way out of that situation is just to say”Cancel”. It’s a good job that she cannot hear or understand when I vent loudly at her stupidity for not understanding me. Must be my British accent, or what’s left of it as it can’t possibly be me saying the wrong command. One of the reasons I bought the car was for the fuel economy but I am not helping things much as I have taken to driving around a lot more just so I can listen to the Audiobooks, especially if it is a really good story. I stop at Starbuck’s, (another of my bad habits and my only real vice), buy a non fat Latte and off we go. Twenty or so miles later we arrive back home.

I like to think that all of this listening helps to make me a better writer which I honestly believe it does. Listening to writers like Stephen King and Tom  Clancy and how they can unwind a story with plot after sub plot to me is  absolutely amazing. Just when I think I know where the story is going, it zips off in a totally different direction. I’m afraid that my mind does not work that way. I’m good at reporting things because all I am doing is putting into words what the brain has visualized. To be truly creative, one has to do it the other way around. Maybe I’m not devious enough. I have recently discovered a writer by the name of Janet Evanovich with her main character, Stephanie Plum, who is very amusing in the way she writes. She is the one that made me laugh out loud. I have also just completed a story by Robert Crais called “Suspect” all about a German Shepherd police dog. It was a very gripping story and the ending almost brought me to tears.

The most important people are the storytellers some of whom are very clever and not only use different intonations and inflections in their voice but also manage to imitate some very convincing dialects. How they can remember which voice and or dialect for each character is way beyond my thinking. Then there are some who absolutely spoil the story and a couple so bad that I stopped listening and never did hear the ending. I think that the really good ones do this for a living and are like the story tellers of old that recanted history to the people except they  are in modern times with modern equipment and I guess, modern stories (most of the time).

all you can books

all you can books

So far, I have resisted the temptation to listen at home but I have been sorely tempted sometimes, especially if there is no soccer to watch on the television. Of course, none of this is free. It is possible to get some of the Classics for free but most of the time, there is usually a fee for the book which sometimes can be pretty expensive. I’m always looking for deals as I search the three or four web sites that provide the service, sites like Audiobooks, Ambling Books and Allbooks. The other cost is to buy enough bandwidth to allow the streaming onto the I-Phone or whatever smart phone you may have.As usual, all of the good things in life are not free whatever else you may have heard.

If my neighbors are ever watching, they will sometimes see me pull up in my driveway, open the garage door and then sit there for ten minutes. What they don’t know is that I am usually at a good part of the story and want to hear how that part plays out before I shut it off. I can’t actually drive into the garage as all of the car alarms are going off warning me that I am too close to the trailer parked there or the wall in front of the car. When the alarms are sounding, the radio automatically mutes hence the driveway routine.

So, when I get to be one of the fittest men on the planet and live to be a ripe old age, I will tell everyone that my secret for longevity is not drinking wine, taking vitamins or eating spinach and walnuts, it’s listening to audiobooks which made the work outs so enjoyable.

Through the Looking Glass

View from the window left

View from the window right

I look out of the window into the yard
and marvel at the view I see
Nature has excelled and everything is green
and has grown beyond my wildest dreams
the winter was harsh and very cold
and the plants all froze back to the ground
and I worried that they would not re-appear
and replacements I would need to find.
but Nature is a wonderful thing
and although things slow to grow it’s true
Mother Nature is an old hand at this
and with time has brought things back to show
the plants are so green and oh so tall
with flowers abundant on everything.

 

Doves on a Feeder

To many Doves on a Feeder

Outside my window where the feeders hang
they have been invaded by a gang
of ring-necked doves who squabble and fight
on feeders not made to bear their weight
with perches too small for their size
made for so much smaller guys
and yet the antics they perform
keeps me amused as they do their best
to balance and feed with flapping wings
landing on top of each other and both fall down
and then they feed upon the ground
to pick up the seed that others have spilled
in their haste to get their fill.

Squirrel

Squirrel

There is even a squirrel or two
who likes to feed upon the seed
with preferences of the sunflower kind
maybe that is what suits their taste
or maybe it’s that in their haste
to feed on the seed before the dogs
chase them away for a little while
and then they have to patient be
to wait out the dogs before they return
back to feeding on the seed
hanging upside down and acting the clown
something which I have found
amusing as I watch spellbound.
I never tire of this view
and watch for hours as I work
one eye on the things I do
the other out there in the park
for Nature has its own way
all you have to do is look
even though they do not know
and what to them is not play
and yet to me I laugh out loud
and keep the feeders filled each day.

When a young lady smiles at me…

funny-weight

There is a girl at my gym
she is just a pretty young thing
who always treats me in such a nice way
where others have not the time of day
she smiles and greets me when I walk in
and even though it’s a professional thing
she does it all in such a way
that it lifts the spirits as though to say
“Go for it old man for you know that you can
work hard, pump iron and bring back your youth
roll back the years along with the strut
and show everyone how you do your stuff”.

Ginny lifting weights

Canine weight lifter

When a young girl smiles that way
it is such a nice way to start the day
to chat with you even just to say
“Hello, how are you feeling today”.
it brings back memories of my youth
when lifting weights was easy to do
and impressing the girls was part of the play
and if a girl so much as interest showed
then the pursuit was on with a long way to go.

Alas now I am old and grey
and the body parts have fallen away
and those that remain are not worth much
and are mostly out of touch
not working well or not at all
mere shadows of their former selves
so when a young girl sends me a smile
I know that there is no beguile
she is just being nice as young girls can
to give me encouragement all the while
that ready for that workout am I
enough to show the other guys
that all it takes to make me work well
is a smile from a young and beautiful girl.

Old weightlifter

Old weightlifter

Then I look around the gym
and see all of the younger men
pumping iron at triple the rate
that I can manage at seventy-eight
and I look for  older fellows but  few
and most are riding the exercise bikes
and those are going at a very slow pace
as though they have given up the race
against time with death not far behind
and are making one last stand, one last fight.
before Nature puts out the light.

I guess in truth I am the same
trying for my youth to reclaim
hoping against hope to buy more time
to right the wrongs that over the years
I have inflicted on my body with scars
to show the damages I have caused
as I pump the iron and lift the weights
and hope against hope that this one last fight
will be enough to buy a little more time
and when that young girl gives me her smile
and says,”Have a good workout” I know all the while
that what she is really saying to me
“Go for it, old man, good luck with your dream”.

Muscle Man

Muscle Man