Reimer’s Ranch 11-3-2018


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Now fully enthused with getting back to hiking, I took another walk at Reimer’s Ranch fully intending this to be just a short hike for a couple of miles or so. Instead, it turned out to be the longest one yet of these most recent walks. I went through my usual change of clothes routine but it was not until I had covered a half mile or so that I realized I had not changed into my hiking boots. Luckily, my shoes are walking shoes with thick soles and lots of support so it was not really a big deal. Certainly not big enough to turn around and change.

I hadn’t planned on such a long walk. I thought that maybe a short loop from the Mountain Bike Parking Lot over to Johnny’s Homestead. At that point I was going to decide which way I wanted to go as I had five different options. I finally chose to take the Multi Use Trail which surrounds the entire park and then turned off onto the Kelly Prehn Overlook. Just prior to making the turn, a young lady passed me running the Multi Use Trail. I had noticed her with her husband or boy friend in the same Parking Lot that I was in. He unloaded a bike which I supposed was for his use as she was the one running. Great way for both of their different interests to be combined to one location.

I continued along the trail leading to the Overlook where I was able to look down the gorge and see the stream at the bottom. I was a bit surprised that the stream was not flowing much heavier after all of the rain. The pictures that I took do not do the view justice as I was not able to capture the depth of the gorge from the overlook but it is probably around 150 feet.

From Kelly Prehn, I took the trail that leads to Pogue Canyon. Both views are very similar and Spruce trees are dropping their needles very fast as winter approaches. Again, my pictures do not show the depth very well. I walked back to the Multi Use Trail and kicked around which way I wanted to go. I finally decided to follow the young lady and took the Multi Use Trail which eventually brought me back to the Parking Area which had emptied considerably from when I first arrived. I was really dragging by the time I got back and my two pedometers registered around 6.5 miles. I sure wish my hot tub was fixed as I could really use it after these sort of walks.

Reimers Ranch 11-3-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 11/7/2018

McKinney Roughs 10-31-2018


DSC_3632-3-2Following the successful walk at Reimer’s Ranch a couple of days ago and all enthused because of the cooler weather, I hit the trails again this time heading in the opposite direction to my most favorite park, McKinney Roughs. Reimer’s is in Dripping Springs and McKinney Roughs is almost into Bastrop and the two parks are very different. Reimer’s has the Pedernales River flowing though it and the land is much more open. It used to be a working ranch in its earlier days although Mother Nature is doing a very good job of reclaiming the land for her own. Reimer’s is a Travis County Park. Old guys like me, get in for free which is another bonus.

The video above is made up of Panoramic pictures, sometimes as many as six separate pictures all rolled into one.

McKinney Roughs is an LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) Park. This park also has it’s own river, the Colorado River which is every bit as big  and sometimes just as frightening at the Pedernales can be. Where Reimer’s is flat and open, McKinney is densely forested and includes some of the famous Bastrop Pine Trees as well as a grand assortment of everything else. The entrance and main buildings are built on the top of a high bluff and then it all slopes down towards the river. When you are walking McKinney, it seems like all of the trails are uphill. LCRA has developed this park to be a location for summer camps and conferences and the buildings are set up as dormitories and meeting rooms. It really is a wonderful and idyllic location to get away from it all. Oh yes, it costs old guys like me just $2:00 to get in. As an added attraction, LCRA has built a Zip Line on the furthest end of the park for those brave souls that need a bigger thrill than just hiking.

McKinney Roughs 10-28-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

I went through my usual process of changing clothes and outfitting myself with my camera bag and camera belts and grabbing my walking poles, headed for the Office to pay my $2:00.  The very pleasant young lady behind the counter informed me that due to recent rains, all of the river trails were closed. I  thanked her for the information and taking a look at the map, chose to walk Bobcat Ridge which is a very pleasant walk. Some of the trails were a bit muddy but nothing I couldn’t handle. Bobcat Ridge ends at Riverside and this is also where the trails were barricaded off. if you can call yellow tape a barricade, to inform hikers that it was off limits to go down to the river. I met a young fellow sitting on the bench that was located at the trails intersection and we struck up a conversation. He said that he was trying to get into better shape which is why he was out there although he was sitting and resting when I spoke with him. We chatted a bit more and then I went on my way heading up Valley View which as the name suggests, does have some very nice views of the opposite valley. I took a few pictures and then headed up Ridge which brought me back from where I started. Around the building and dormitory area, the gardens are very well kept and there was an abundance of flowers just begging to have their pictures taken.

Flowers at McKinney from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

All in all, it was a very pleasant afternoon. The weather was bright and cheerful and it was not too hot. I managed to cover 5.5 miles and the old body creaked a bit towards the end. It is so exhilarating to get out and commune with Nature and well worth all of the aches and pains.

Written 11/6/2018

Reimer’s Ranch 10-28-2018


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Now that the weather has calmed down a bit first with our dreadfully hot summer followed by non stop rain, I was able to get out to take the first serious walk of the Fall season. I opted for Reimer’s Ranch as the walking is fairly easy and I wanted to work my way back into it. After such a long lay off, this old body needs some time to gradually get acclimatized to extra effort.

There were a lot of cars in all of the parking lots as others chose to enjoy the mild weather and get outdoors. The Horse Parking area had 5-6 trailers in it and I did see a couple of horse and riders as I drove to the very last parking area that is called River View Parking #2. This lot is the main one for the second of the two Rock Climbing Areas. It took me a while to get ready as I did a complete change of clothes putting on older shorts and tee shirt and of course, my boots. I tend to sweat a lot and generally get back in totally saturated requiring that I change again this time into dry clothes for the trip home. Gotta keep my truck as clean as possible and sure don’t want sweaty seats. It also took me a little while to sort out my camera gear as apart from the short walk a week or so ago, hasn’t been used for several months. Not so much the cameras as they are always in use but the belts and my Cotton Camera carrying systems have kinda sat idle for a few months.

Finally satisfied that everything was in place and opting to carry just the one camera with the 18-400 mm lens, leaving the heavy long lens behind, I set off. I was going to walk the Turkey Trail and follow it to the very end of the Park. On the way, I came across an Oriental family of Husband, Wife and a small child. After saying hello, they asked for directions on how to get back to the Parking Area and I was very happy to oblige them.

Pressing on, I came to end of the Park and chose to take the Lower Trail which would take me past the Rock Climbing Areas. It was very quiet as far as wildlife was concerned and the only thing I saw were several Buzzards floating in the sky. I didn’t see any other birds of any type nor did I hear any. As I neared the Rock Faces, I could hear the chatter and laughter of the climbers and it wasn’t long before two groups walked past me on the way out. I also passed a young lady with a large puppy which looked like a pointer. She was having trouble with it as it was still learning how to behave. I always step aside for these young people as they all walk faster than me and I don’t want to get in the way of the enthusiasm of youth.

I managed to miss the exit from the gorge and found myself walking further than I had intended eventually climbing out at Parking Lot #1. This meant that I had to walk the gravel path that connects all four parking areas adding a mile or so to my original distance that I had planned. I eventually arrived back to my truck and sat for a while before driving home. Altogether, I covered a little over 5 miles, a bit more than I had planned but I felt OK which was the main thing. Altogether, a very enjoyable walk and it was good to be back on the trails again.

The video is of the Park as I saw it thru the camera lens.

RR 10-28-18 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

Written 11-5-2018

Remembering the Past.


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The Round School as it was called back in 1941.

I was thinking just the other day in one of my quieter moments, of all of the years that have passed in my life and of all of the many hundreds of people I have known and countless memories that are now just brief recollections of time gone by.

The most memories that really stand out are the ones when I was just a kid starting from when I was very young at 4-5 years old until I was getting on for 11. All were about where I lived, the kids I grew up with and the war which was going on all around me. I vividly remember the troops and the jeeps and armored vehicles and the dog fights and doodle bugs and the lights reflected in the night skies of London burning during the Blitz. I remember the soldiers of different nationalities that my family would invite to our house. One in particular, Henri, a French -Canadian cleaned and polished my shoes as we were all going out to the local pub a couple of miles down the road. I remember night times sitting in our neighbor, Mr Streatfield, shelter that my brothers and Father had helped to build, listening to the guns and planes and hearing shrapnel falling on the roof, waiting for the big explosion as a bomb might fall. As it happened, we were lucky. Later on, we had an Anderson shelter which is like a very large table made of steel, that sat in our living room. Some nights we would all sleep together under this thing, just in case. We lived just 8 miles inland from the coast in a direct line of the German bombers and fighter planes on their way to London and other targets and from our vantage point midway up the hill, could see the tracer shells at night that the Artillery guns were putting up in an attempt to shoot down the enemy planes and the Barrage Balloons during the day.

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Doodle Bug. A German rocket propelled flying bomb.

Early in the war, I often watched dog fights in the sky as the British pilots would take on the German ones. These were very brief and it was not unusual to see a plane fall out of the sky with a stream of smoke emitting from it. Luckily, none crashed anywhere close to me. Another time, I watched a British Spitfire pull alongside a doodle bug which were really Flying Bombs, get close enough for it to get its wing tip under the others wing and flip it over causing it to crash and explode harmlessly into the countryside. Such are my memories.

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Battle of Arnhem showing the Allies Paratroopers dropping down

I remember sitting by the shed in the back yard and looking up as hundreds of planes, each towing a glider, on their way to Arnhem to fight another battle. I was too young to realize that many of those brave men would never return. We had a very tall and solitary Pine Tree that stood on the back corner of our lot and I remember the German plane that flew between my house and the next no more than ten feet off the ground just missing the Pine tree as he desperately looked for a place to crash land. I can even remember the look on the pilots face as he flashed by. He crashed a couple of fields over and was killed.  I was probably the last person to have seen him alive.

Living on Huggletts Lane which was about a half mile long, there were several kids all around the same age and we would bum around together. I can remember the names of some of them. There was Ivy Upfield and her brother Radford, Tony Waite, David Farmer and John Holman who was a bit of a sickly kid as he suffered from Asthma. There were Nina and Frieda who were the first to explore the difference in the sexes and used me to help them which I willingly did without a clue as to what it was all about.  My best friend was Dennis Baker but he didn’t live on the Lane but a little further down the main road in a place called Cade Street named after Jack Cade, a notorious rebel who was killed in that area by the Sheriff of London back in the 1600’s. With being such a close knit group as we were, it was no surprise that when one got sick with the usual childhood complaints, we all took it in turns to get sick. We had a local Nurse whose mode of transport was a bicycle and she would take turns in visiting us all carrying notes from one to the other as we chose to write them. The Doctor as needed, made house calls but he did at least have a car…

I remember many of the times I spent with my boyhood friends walking the fields and woods learning about Nature although to us, it was yet another game in the ongoing saga of the great explorers. We would leave in the mornings and come home late in the afternoon generally because we were hungry. We made our own fun and were never in need of entertainment. In the evening, there was the radio which we would gather around to listen to the news of the war and the wartime programs like Music Hall performed by people whose one role in life at that time was to make people laugh to take their minds off the terrible things going on all around them. I can remember when the entire family was sitting around the fire place toasting bread. We each had a slice and mine fell off the toasting fork into the fire and I wasn’t able to rescue it. That was the last of the bread due to the rationing and I went to bed hungry that night. Food rationing was something you learned to live with.

We had other excitements besides the bombers and doodle bugs when a Flying Fortress returning from a bombing raid over Europe flew over with one wing that looked like it may come off at any time as it flopped up and down. The Captain had ordered the crew to jump and they all floated down in a leisurely drop with one of them landing at the top of the Lane only to be met by most of the people that lived there all concerned for his welfare. He was OK and it was not long before the local Squire drove up and collected him to take him back to his home until the Authorities came to pick him up. We heard later that the pilot crash landed the plane on one of the temporary runways built for such events and made it out safely.

I remember learning to ride a bike only to have it taken away for a while as punishment for riding down the hill with my arms outstretched and not holding onto the handlebars, not realizing that my sister, who was looking after me in lieu of my Mother having left for America to marry a GI that she met, was watching from the window.

I was ten years younger than the my sister who was the youngest of her and two brothers. They all went off to fight in the war even my sister who was in the ATS. My oldest brother went to Egypt and came home with an Egyptian wife. My middle brother was invalided out with rheumatic fever from which he eventually died of a heart attack at a very young age. My sister was released on a compassionate discharge to look after the family.

Because I was the baby of the family, I never got to do too much with the other three but I remember one time that the four of us went out into the woods together and I managed to fall into a stream and get totally soaked. They happened to have an old bike that did not have any tires on the wheels, just the hard metal rims and Peter loaded me on to the handlebars and biked home as fast as he could. I can even remember that bumpy ride home which was worse than the soaking. When I think about it, it must have been really hard to get that bike moving without any tires.

In 1947 when I was eleven, the South of England had one of the hardest winters in history with more than twelve inches of snow falling and remaining on the ground for several weeks. During that time, I contracted an ear infection that left me deaf in both ears. I can remember sitting on the bus on the way to the Hospital for treatment and seeing a horse standing in a field covered in snow with icicles hanging from it’s mane. It was not there when I came home and I later learned that the farmer had put it into the stable.

There was a hill close to my home and following the snowfalls, all of us kids would congregate there with anything that would slide down the hill. The more prosperous of the kids even had real toboggans much to the envy of the ones that had sheets of tin or even large pieces of cardboard to make that trip down. Regardless of our means of transport, we all had fun. Snow in the South of England was a rarity as it is known as the Sun Spot of the South and generally has the mildest temperatures of the entire country.

I attended a school named the Round School in Old Heathfield. It is now called All Saints And St Richards Church Of England Primary School. The Head Mistress was a dragon of a lady by the name of Miss Ray who was very fond of her use of the cane, usually across the hands but for what she decreed as more serious offences, to the buttocks. This was administered in front of the entire class as a supposedly lesson to them all. By the way, I am no worse off for the corporal punishment meted out by Miss Ray

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While we were in school, the older boys took it in turns to stand watch. We were supposed to ring the school hand bell which was a monster of a thing that was as much as one kid could handle IF we spotted any German planes in our vicinity. If we did ring it, the rest of the kids inside the school were all supposed to get under their desks. Sometimes, we would ring it just for the hell of it.

Besides learning the three R’s, we learned practical things like Gardening and how to use hand tools and we even put on school plays in which I got the lead role one time although, I can’t for the life of me remember what part I played or even the name of the play. I do remember learning my lines on the long walks home and practicing on my friends. I found the use of the hand tools very useful and would make models in the shed that stood in the garden. I truly believe that the basic hand tool schooling I got also served me well later in life and gave me the first ideas of what I might accomplish. My Grandfather had a cabinet shop in Heathfield where he hand made the most marvelous furniture so maybe some of his skills rubbed off on me. I like to think that is the case. I also remember standing at the bottom of Huggletts Lane as my Grandfathers Funeral procession drove by and I said goodbye to that wonderful man.

I remember walking the three miles to the school rain or shine, picking up others kids along the way until there was quite a crowd when we finally arrived. The walk home was the same except for those kids who had things to do or chose to walk with their friends. There were a few shops in Old Heathfield proper including a Post Office and a grocery shop where we could buy nibs for our pens as we used old fashioned pen and ink for our schoolwork. One of the duties of the older kids in the class was to keep the inkwells filled as the ink was apt to dry out. There was another shop that sold cigarettes and tobacco and one time, my friend Dennis and I bought a ten pack of Woodbine’s. The owner had no qualms in selling them to us as the perils of smoking had not yet been identified and everyone smoked. We found a place to smoke them each having five that we smoked one after the other. We had no idea of what we were doing and didn’t realize just how ill they were going to make us. Needless to say, that cured me of any future smoking and I have never smoked since. Sometimes, if we had any money, myself and others would stop by the local Tea Shop and sit and drink a cup of tea. All this before we were eleven years old. A cup of tea cost us two pennies each and the Woodbine’s for a pack of ten was five pence. There was an Army base on the way and we would stop in to chat to the soldiers whose main job was to maintain the heavy equipment. Our big thing was to get them to sound the very loud klaxon horns just like the horns on the modern day trucks and they would be happy to oblige at least once.

A bit later on because of the problems I was having with my ears, my doctor decided that I should have my tonsils out which meant a stay in a hospital for a whole week in a small village named Uckfield fifteen or so miles from my house. My Sister took me there on the bus which was also the way we got back home following the hospital stay. Luckily, by that time most of the air raids were over as the German Forces were on the retreat. So different than from today when a Tonsillectomy is just an overnight stay.

When I was a little older than ten, I took what was called back then, the Eleven Plus exam to see if I was smart enough to attend the local Grammar School which was located in Lewis more than sixteen miles away. I passed it with flying colors. If I had not passed that exam, I would have remained at the Round School until I was fifteen, then off to work doing goodness knows what, probably training to be a Carpenter with my Uncles Construction Company. As it was, the start of the next term saw me catching the bus at the bottom of the Lane into Heathfield and then getting on another Bus that took me into Lewis and the Grammar School along with about forty or so other kids of all ages between eleven and eighteen. The Grammar School was really directed to sending the smarter kids to college. Those that did not make College would get a very good education, much better than attending the local school even without the College. As it happened, circumstances later in my life really interfered with all of that education.

No longer would I take that 3 mile walk to the Round School which I had taken every day except weekends and holidays with the kids I had grown up with. The war had been over for almost three years. My oldest brother had returned bringing his new wife and started to produce a family of three kids which were all born by Midwife in the room upstairs. Imagine what sort of impact the screams of a woman in labor had on a ten year old boy as I listened to the wonders of childbirth going on in the room above me.

My Sister had been dating a Scotsman for some time and had then married and had moved out leaving my Brother and his growing family and my Father and myself. My Father met a woman who owned a Fish Shop in Heathfield and was dating her for a while. One evening, there was a knock on the door and a Constable was standing there to inform us that my Father, biking home in the dark from one of his interludes with his new lady friend, had been in an accident and was in the Hospital in Uckfield, the same one where I had my tonsils out. He was not seriously hurt and was back home with us a week or so later. This must have convinced them to get married which they did within six months and we moved out of the house I had been born in to the Fish and Chip shop on Hailsham Road in Heathfield. As is usual with most adult things, I was not consulted as to the future of my life and so ended my life on Huggletts Lane. With the exception of Radford who came into Hailsham one time, I never got to see any of my childhood friends ever again although I did hear that Ivy had moved to Canada. I sadly said goodbye to the first part of my life with its long supply of beautiful memories that I have no trouble in recalling and can clearly envision in my mind seventy years later. There are many stories still untold of growing up on Huggletts Lane. Would I like to be back in those times even with the war on?Apart from the obvious of being young again, I would have to say that yes, I would. Things were so much simpler then with no Internet or TV and we lived in our own comfortable little world the boundaries of which did not extend very far. Alas, there is no going back…

And so started the second phase of my young life but that is another story…

Written 10/22/2018

APS October 2018 Meeting


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The outgoing President, Jeannie Ferrier on the left with the incoming President Barb Lenhardt

Another month, another meeting of the Austin Pond Society held at the usual place, the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin, Texas. As usual, we were treated to a meal provided by our Hospitality person, Steven. He is one of those who is giving up his volunteer position at the end of the year and we thank him for his contributions to the cause. Tonight, his offerings were corn dogs with  deserts provided by the members. As I am not into corn dogs, I made do with several cookies to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Due to the bad weather, our numbers were down by quite a bit and I counted only 22 people in attendance. We started off with Barb introducing our speaker, Alex Rabadan, a local pond builder whose company is named Oasis Water Features and Landscaping. He held a question and answer session which kept everyone occupied for 30 minutes or so.

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Alex Rabadan, Oasis Water Features and Landscaping.

This was followed by Steven Monfrini, acting in the absence of the chairperson Nancy Reinert and as one of the committee members, to announce the new Board members for 2019. All the positions were filled and required a vote from the Membership to appoint them which passed without dissent. To review the new Board who will take office January 1st, 2019, use this link.

This was the only major piece of business for this evening and with a little more discussion about other minor items, the meeting came to a close.

APS Speaker October Meeting 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

October 2018 meeting Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

The next meeting to be held on November 19 at the same location, will be our Christmas End of the Year Party. Blue Santa will again be in attendance so we are asking all of our members to bring a small gift preferably in the 12-14 year age bracket for the kids in Austin who do not receive much on Christmas morning. The theme this year will be Mexican and the food will also reflect the theme. Members can still bring along desserts or their contribution to the Mexican main meal. We are hoping for a Mariachi Band from one of the local high schools but that is not yet confirmed. Keep looking for more on this and we hope to see you there.

This will be the last meeting for the year as we do not meet in December.

Written 10/18/2018

A New Computer


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Well, it finally happened. After years of relatively good service, my computer refuses to boot up. No matter what I try, it just keeps doing the same old thing, nothing. That’s not entirely true as the screen does go through several iterations but keeps ending up at the same place. I bought this from a friend who knows a lot about computers. He had taken out the video drive and installed an SSD drive in its place. All in all, between us, it has been a very good computer.

I took the opportunity to go to Office Depot to take a look at the computers they had on display. A couple of them caught my eye so I had a few questions for the computer guy who was working at the store. He answered all of them and seemed quite knowledgeable. I thanked him making a mental note of the makes and models and drove over to the Best Buy store just across the street. I wandered around for a bit looking at what they had which was a lot and wondered how I was going to be able to choose between them. I am not a gamer so the very high end computers were quickly passed over. What I did want was something with an SSD drive plus a regular storage drive and it had to have a lot of memory plus a touch screen and I found the very thing in a top of the line Asus. While I was looking at this particular computer, a sales clerk whose name was Mauricio, wandered over and answered more of the questions that I had and convinced me to go ahead with the purchase. Actually, he didn’t have to work that hard as I had pretty much made up my mind.

I followed him back to the check out station and he went through the long process of the sales paperwork. Turns out that they did not have this computer in stock and it would take two days for it to be delivered to my door. I told him that was OK but he also checked the other stores and found one in a different store in South Austin. Before he had finished telling me about it, it disappeared off the screen as someone had purchased it. So, it was back to waiting two days for the new one to be delivered.

The next day, I got to thinking. I had already arranged for them to transfer as much off my old computer that they could to the new one. I will have to re-install my program files which will be interesting as so many of them are downloads and are not on disks. Oh well, face that battle when it comes but in the meantime, I wondered if they could resurrect the old computer. So, I loaded everything in the truck and drove back to the store and luckily for me, Mauricio was on duty behind the counter. He proved to be incredibly helpful and ran a couple of tests there and then and pretty much decided that one of the two hard drives had gone bad and unfortunately, it was the one that the computer boots off to start up. That pretty much decided the fate of that computer as I didn’t need to fix it, only get the info off the drives. I left that computer with them so they could start doing whatever magic they do and drove home.

True to their word, the new computer was delivered around 1:30 pm on the second day so I jumped in my truck and took it to the store where Mauricio asked a few more questions and then I drove home. With a couple of phone calls in between, two days later I got an email telling me that my computer was ready for pick up. Not wasting anymore time, I once more jumped in my truck and made the 10 minute drive to the BestBuy store and retrieved the new computer. This is not the first new computer that I have bought as I have had several and I already knew that it would not be set up as the old one nor would it have all of my programs on it. Most of my data was either in one of the Cloud storage units or on any one of several external hard drives that I had been using over the years.

Then followed several days of pretty intense work of recovering programs, those not on a disk but requiring downloading again. Locating the unlocking key’s was a bit tricky and I still have a couple to get but as I have nothing but time, presents yet another challenge.

So, there you have it. I now own a brand new laptop with 2 terrabytes of storage and a 256 SSD drive with 2 gigs of ram. Hopefully, this one will last me for the rest of my given days. If I should outlive it say in 10 years or so, I probably wont be needing a computer anyway and if I do, I will gladly buy a new top of the line model….

Written 10/14/2018

One of Those Days…


 

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Have you ever had one of those days
when things go wrong in so many ways
no matter what you try to do
nothing goes right and you have no clue
as to what the trouble may be
making it hard to fix that you can see
as there is no pattern what is going wrong
first this then that and nothing belongs
you try something different in the hope it works
but of course it doesn’t and your head hurts
from thinking and worrying to make things go right
and your beginning to think you’ll be at it all night
you followed the instructions just as you should
that something so simple is misunderstood
you try and try with all of your might
hoping like hell to get it right
finally you put it down and admit defeat
and wander off to bed to sleep
but sleep won’t come as you toss and turn
still worrying as thoughts spin and churn
until eventually you slip away
and you’ll worry about it another day.

Written 10/13/2018