Violet Crown Trail Research – 9-9-2017


In my search for information about the Violet Crown Trail, I printed out the maps of the proposed route of the entire trail and noticed that it ran very close to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center with either a proposed Trail Head by the Veloway on La Crosse Ave or maybe one that was already in place. I decided to take a drive to the Veloway as it is only a few miles from my house and see if in fact, there was a Trailhead or whether it was still in the future. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate the aforementioned Trailhead and decided that it has not yet been built.

Not to be deterred, I drove to where the map said there was a Trailhead by Spec’s on 290 West. As it is a one way frontage road, I drove down it three different times having to make the complete loop each time in an effort to see the Trailhead from the car but to no avail. On the last run, I noticed a couple of people that looked like they were trail enthusiasts walking back towards the Spec’s parking lot and decided to pull in, park and take a walk back to where the people had come from which I proceeded to do. Lo and behold, I came across the Trailhead hidden between the trees with a small sign out front that said, “No Parking for the entrance to the Violet Crown Trail.” I had noticed the sign from the car but had not been able to read the small print that contained the magic words, Violet Crown Trail.

I had not planned to take a walk because the trail, a walk all the way to Zilker Park will be a ten mile round trip, something that I need to be ready for. There are a couple of Trailheads in between but that wouldn’t help me with my car parked here. I could always just turn around at anytime on the hike but I really want to hike the entire length so need an earlier start than I had daylight left and decided to walk it another day. More to come…

Written 9/17/2017

Circle C Trails 9-9-2017


I wanted to take a closer look at the Circle C Trails as the maps showed them to be much more extensive than I originally thought. I had noticed people walking the trails that ran alongside Escarpment Boulevard and for some reason never made the connection. That’s what comes from having an old brain. More than a little slow sometimes…I didn’t realize that there were trails on both sides of the Boulevard albeit many are narrow bike trails which are also used by hikers and runners. I drove over to Slaughter Lane and Escarpment Boulevard and parked in the cinema parking lot and just decided to take my camera and walk a bit down the gravel trail. I went through my usual ritual of changing into my hiking boots and grabbing all of the normal “stuff” I carry with me including both cameras mounted on my double carry harness.

I knew that if I went off to the right, I would come to the soccer fields so I went left, under Escarpment Boulevard and discovered a whole host of different trails in between Escarpment Boulevard and Loop 1. I followed a couple of them and wandered around for a couple of hours taking many pictures of the wildflowers that are currently in bloom.  I walked along and managed to cover around 3.5 miles. The trails are of the usual variety and the main trail follows Slaughter Creek which is dried up this time of the year. This area is also a part of the Edwards Aquifer Discharge Zone so I might well have been drinking some of the water that soaks down through the rocks from the creek.

A view of the dried up creek.

Pictured below are some of the trails. Obviously, the wide granite trails are the main walking ones. The rest are bike trails so are not very wide. They also tend to twist and wind about as the bikers try to add various degrees of difficulty to their rides.

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There are a bunch of wildflowers this time of the year.

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and one Monarch butterfly

I passed a couple of runners and one guy on a bike but as it was a weekday, I didn’t really expect to see many people. I should probably say that the runners and biker passed me as everyone and their brother walks quicker than me nowadays. I had a fine old time and was glad to be back out on the trails again slow pace and all.

Written 9/18/2017

Memories – Written 9-14-2017


Richie smaller (1 of 1)The days are long and my heart is cold
thoughts of Richie are NOT growing old
as quickly as I want them to be
to lift the weight of grief in me.

I worked outside around the shed
the area that the snake had hid
waiting probably in fear
as he watched the little dog draw near.

Poised and ready no rattle to warn
a natural reaction for which it was born
striking the dog to preserve its life
as the law of the wild provokes such strife.

Richie let out an almighty roar
a sound I had never heard before
as he flew out from under the shed
knowing that he was already dead.

He looked at me with his big brown eyes
pleading for help with no disguise
as I rushed him to my local vet
who worked to save my little pet.

Alas for it was not to be
as he died the next day peacefully
and I brought him home in a box
my faith in God forever lost.

I blame myself for Richie’s death
for not cleaning out from under the shed
and leaving a place for the snake to hide
from the dog exploring with curious eyes.

Everywhere out in the garden I see
traces and memories of what used to be
holes dug here and a dirt pile there
and trails through the plants leading who knows where.

Even though there are Ginny and Pete
their personalities do not compete
and are different in the ways they shine
and cannot replace what’s left behind.

Maybe I should get another pet
one that likes to dig and yet
it would never be the same
even with the very same name.

So all that remains is for me to heal
knowing that I will always feel
love for the little dog that I lost
as I remain behind to bear the cost.

If the Gods are kind to me
one day I hope that I will be
with Richie in another life
one where there is no strife
and pets never do grow old
its called “The Rainbow Bridge” so I am told.

 

 Rainbow Bridge 

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

More Fish Rescues of the Easy Kind.


This past week, I received calls from two different people and an email from a third person looking for help with their ponds. As I am the website contact person for the Austin Pond Society, I get the calls first and then make the decisions regarding the outcome of the various and different requests after I have followed through and obtained the details.

Usually, it is a simple decision regarding the type of action and if it is something that the Pond Society can handle. Then I decide if it is too big for me in which case I pass it along to Jeannie, our President who also handles all of the larger fish rescues.

What is a fish rescue, you ask? Simply put, it usually is a cry for help from the public to assist them find a new home for the fish they have in their garden pond which for any number of reasons, they are closing down. In many cases, the Husband has died and the pond is too much work for the remaining spouse or in the case of one of the calls I received, the owners had sold the house and the new owners wanted to keep the pond but did not want the fish. In nearly every case, the owners are closing down the pond.

With the three requests I received, I quickly determined that the first was too big for me and was one that required both help with the rescue and then the ability to house 10-20 medium sized Koi until permanent homes could be found for them. As I am not setup to house any fish other than my own, I passed this one along to Jeannie so that she and her merry band of Koi Rescue Enthusiasts could make the arrangements to handle. I should mention that we try to find good homes for any fish we rescue by offering them among our members first as they always get first dibs. Then we turn for help among the general public and finally, we donate them to Mayfield Park here in Austin. The Park has 5 ponds that are big enough to house a substantial number of Koi and Goldfish and this year, both Jeannie and I have placed a large number of Koi, Goldfish and Carp into these ponds. The Carp were in error and were mistaken for large black Goldfish but they seem very happy in their new environment.

The second and third calls were both in the range that I could handle and so I called the owners and set up dates to visit with them and make the rescues. The first house was located not too far from me in an estate where all of the homes were so big, my own house would probably fit in them at least twice and probably more. This house had already been sold and the ex-owners were just completing the final clean out and catching up on the odds and ends. When I got there, I could see the pond behind the fence with the gate open and “Jim”, the ex-owner was already standing in the pond with his net, splashing around in an attempt to catch the fish. I said hello and introduced myself. We chatted for a bit as he tried to catch the couple of fish left in the pond. I suggested that I would hook up my pump to lower the water level giving him a much better opportunity in his task.

The deal was that I was to take an 8 inch Koi and the two largest goldfish and he would keep the much smaller remaining goldfish for his new home. He proudly showed off the Koi that he had managed to catch which was in a 5 gallon bucket standing by the pond. As if on cue as we watched, the Koi jumped out of the bucket and back into the pond. After we both recovered from the fit of laughter that this caused, I hooked up my pump to help him by lowering the water level so that he could catch the Koi for a second time. In no time at all, he had caught all of the fish. I bid him farewell and then made my way back home where I put the Koi and Goldfish in different ponds at my house.

The next rescue, a couple of days later was also another easy one. The owner, a very friendly lady by the name of Debbie met me and showed me the pond which was a circular one of about six feet in diameter and only a couple of feet deep. It was real close to the driveway making it easy to load out the trailer. I set up my pump which quickly lowered the water and I pulled out seven water lilies in pots as it was pumping. It was very easy to catch the twelve small Koi and Goldfish and transfer them to my container ready for transport. Between us, we bagged up the lilies and reloaded my trailer and in thirty minutes, I was back on the road again.

This time, I headed to Mayfield Park where I planned to put the rescued fish. This went by without any problems despite notices spread around the ground warning the public, “To not disturb the Peacocks and Peahens as they incubate their eggs or they might attack you”. I repacked my trailer and made my way back home. The water lilies made it back to my house and into my containers that house my surplus plants which are free to anyone needing pond plants.

Interestingly enough, this last rescue was one street down from where I used to live out in the Pedernales area thirty two years ago. On my way back, I pulled into the street that was my old home and drove to the end just for old times sake. It brought back very happy memories of my time spent living out there on my five acres and rekindled in me, the old longing to turn back the clock. Of course that is not possible but a man can dream, can’t he? There was a Realtor’s Sign for the property next to the acreage I used to own so I took down the number and gave them a call. Turns out to be a 15 acre lot with an unfinished house and the asking price was $425,000. When I sold my 5 acres thirty two years ago with a house, a large horse barn and paddock, aviaries and sheds and fully fenced, it went for $120,000. Go figure…

 

A Beautiful Day


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It’s going to be a beautiful day
the sun is shining along the way
the rain has gone to a different place
and the day is now too good to waste.

I have sat indoors these past few days
watching it rain at a furious pace
but now the sun shines and there’s work to be done
to clean up the garden which sounds like fun.

Cut down the plants too damaged to live
clear the space new life to give
to the plants that remain behind
they will recover all in good time.

Storms and wind are Nature’s way
of changing things and have her say
the way she wants the world to look
as she turns the page of her open book.

We do not understand her ways
so powerful and violent on these days
and yet today there is just a faint breeze
rustling the leaves up in the trees.

And the sun is shining to greet the day
the warm breeze is blowing as if to say
come out and play with me for a while
and I’ll tickle your face and make you smile.

I open the door to venture outside
and breathe the fresh air no need to hide
for Nature has come through once again
the clouds blown away for me to begin.

Day 4 – Harvey


Today is Day 4 of the Hurricane Harvey Saga in my part of Texas. The storm as predicted, moved back towards the cost and is still pummelling Houston and the surrounding area as it slowly makes its way down the coast towards Louisiana. Compared to what those guys have had to put up with, Austin has got off very light. All we had was about 7 inches of heavy rain causing low water crossing closures and some minor flooding.

For myself, very little damage from the strong winds. Lots of leaves and small branches down but no major tree limbs on the ground. A lot of the plants are laying a bit sideways and I will have to wait and see how many straighten back up before chopping them down.

The 5000 gallon pond had one pump that quit working and I replaced it this morning. I also cleaned out the other 4 pumps on this pond as the water has turned a real muddy color. There is probably at least one upturned pot that has dumped its clay into the water and it will take a few days for it to settle out.

I already mentioned the cypress tree that has blown over in the 6000 gallon pond in the last blog but as far as I can see that is all of the damage that we sustained. I plan on getting into the ponds tomorrow and cleaning out the leaves and cutting back the damaged vegetation. As I write this, the sun is shining brightly and there is hardly a cloud in the sky. Nature is such an amazing thing how the weather can change in the blink of an eye.

Oh yes, the stained glass window made it through OK and now I will take it down out of its tree and find a more stable place for it so I don’t have to worry when the next storm hits.

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Too Much Rain?


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I was looking for something to do
my brain was acting without a clue
as the rain outside came teeming down
and the wind blew hard to add its sound
we were going through an unusual remake
of three days of rain without a break
as the hurricane moved way inland
and off to the East with its heavy rain bands
the weatherman says we are not through yet
as more of this wet stuff we will get.

Texans complain when they’re in a drought
things are dry and withered no water to spout
so a hurricane that brings lots of rain
to make things green and growing again
is a welcome site for those who hold dear
or live off the land the rain brings good cheer
usually one day is enough
two maybe and thats pushing your luck
get to three and then it is time
for rain to stop and for sun to shine.

Actually I kid a lot
as we will take any and all that you got
to fill up the lakes and rivers too
for when rain comes it’s something new
and we never know how long it will last
or how quickly it is a thing of the past
as the sun scorches down at one hundred degrees
baking the land and shading the trees
and before long you will hear people say
“Sure wish some rain was heading our way”.

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