The Hardworking Crew.


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See how much clearer it is through the trees

I had a knock on the door around 11:00 am which by itself is strange as I don’t usually get too many visitors. So, I used the peephole and saw a gentleman standing well back from the door and when I opened it, I was prepared to tell him “That I don’t need any” of whatever he was selling. I could see that his truck and trailer were parked on the street and figured that he was looking for work. I didn’t know what sort but it was probably tree trimming or yard work.

He introduced himself and very politely asked if he could give me a price for trimming the trees in the front which oddly enough, I had just been talking to my neighbor about all of the dead wood they contained. I am always a bit wary of strangers stopping by to try to talk me into letting them work around the place for obvious reasons but he offered me a good price and I haggled a bit just because and we finally agreed on a number which I thought was very reasonable. We shook hands on it and before I could get back indoors, he and and a couple of others were unloading their tools. I went back to what I was working on at that particular time and  I could hear the angry buzz of the chainsaws outside.

I got burned once before when a couple of white guys stopped by and asked if they could trim the trees. It didn’t take me very long to figure they didn’t have a clue and had to run them off which they didn’t take too well. So, I kept an eye on this group through the windows and it was very obvious they they knew exactly what needed to be done and they were going after it. I have about forty live oak trees in the front and about the same number in the back most of which are live oaks and all of them had a lot of dead wood in them. Two of these guys, all of whom were Hispanic were climbing the trees with a lot of agility with their chainsaws hanging from their waist belts. They used safety harness which they attached to the tree as they scrambled about. While they were doing the cutting, the third guy was loading the very large trailer which also included him jumping up onto the stack and using his chainsaw to consolidate and pack the load. I can’t believe how much stuff they packed onto that trailer.

I called to the bossman, whose name was Derek and took him to the backyard where the ponds are and we walked the garden with me pointing out some of the obvious deadwood and him telling me about what he perceived to be needing work.  He told me that a couple of the trees were Hackberries and needed to come down. We haggled for a bit and he came up with a satisfactory price which as I expected, was a little higher than the front because of the difficulty of working around the ponds and because the trees were much  bigger in diameter and took more time to cut down.

By now, it was getting dark and they stored their tools in my garage and said they would be back the next day. I paid Derek for the day’s work. When I inquired as to what time to expect them tomorrow, he said around 9:00 am or thereabouts.

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Day 2.
Well, 9:00 am turned into 11:00 am before they arrived back to work. This time there was a fourth man with them as they had to carry the material from the back out through the narrow paths and double gate to get to their trailer. They immediately picked up and carried on where they left off the day before. After about an hour or so working in the front, they went to the backyard and started work there.

I sat in front of my computer which also overlooks the entire backyard and it was very interesting to watch them work. They had evolved methods of doing things in order to make the work easier and to go along more smoothly. They worked on the Hackberry trees by cutting off the lower branches leaving enough for them to use as steps in order to climb higher up the tree cutting off more branches as they went. On the dead limbs that overhung the ponds, they attached a rope to them that had been slung over a higher branch and then one held the rope while the other cut the branch. They had to carry every bit of the material on their backs or in a wheelbarrow in order to get it to the trailer which by itself was a difficult task.  Even loading the trailer was an art as they had to keep using their chainsaws to be able to pack the material onto the trailer. They never stopped working. Very impressive.

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What is strange about all of this is the fact that I had been talking to my neighbor about the need to get this work done.  I had also been planning that yesterday, I would take a look at my own chainsaw to cut down one of the trees that was leaning over the workshop and had damaged the roof. For one thing, I can’t remember the last time I started my chainsaw and if it is anything like my lawnmowers,  it probably wouldn’t  start anyway. I have a riding mower that gets used twice a year and as I manage to forget to start it up through the winter, the seals dry out and I have to get it repaired every Spring, stupid thing or maybe it’s me that’s stupid for being so darn forgetful.  Some of the deadwood overhangs the ponds and I really didn’t want it to fall into the water for fear of it damaging the pond liners which would be really difficult to repair. They even took down the stained glass window for me as I was afraid that it was going to blow down in the last storm that we had saving me another yet job. I’m not so good at climbing ladders as I once was. Old age is really a bummer.

Postscript.
As can be expected, these men were all of Mexican descent and I have no idea if they are here illegally or not and I was not about to ask. I find it so difficult that the current administration wants to ban these people. They are extremely hard working and are doing a job that very few Americans want to do so they are hardly taking work away from any others who usually find this sort of heavy labor work too hard and too demeaning.

Written 12/14/2017

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To Brighten Your Day


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By the time you get to read this, many of you will be in the grip of winter, knee deep in snow and ice, along with cold and freezing temperatures. Cars won’t start and when they do, you have to clean the ice off the windshield before trying to drive on ice packed roads along with your neighbors. Fender benders and cars in the ditch and tow trucks are all a part of the winters norm. especially if you live in Upper New York State as I did.

I lived there for ten years when I first arrived in this country on March 13, 1967. The first night, it snowed 13 inches of heavy wet snow leaving me to wonder just what I had let myself and my family in for. I had never ever seen that much snow in my life and it probably totalled the sum amount of snow in my previous 31 years.  Over the next ten years, we grew used to winter but never really liked it. We learned how to drive in it and how to winterize the car so it would start in the mornings. We even had a snowmobile and ice skating and skiing were all a part of the norm.

Circumstances changed and I found myself in Texas in 1977 and have been here ever since. Compared to the New York State winter cold, the Texas summers, although a little on the warm side,  are much easier to handle, at least for me. The coldest I have ever been outside was on the ski slopes where the windchill at the top of the mountain was 51 degrees below zero. That was cold, so cold in fact that I took off my skis and walked back down the mountain. On the other hand, the hottest temperature I have been out in was 108 degrees in Dallas while playing in a soccer tournament. Needless to say, it was hard to get eleven players out on the pitch and players were begging to get subbed. I can’t remember if we won or lost and most of us didn’t really care.

So, I thought it nice just to brighten your day especially if you are in the grip of winter, to show you a couple of cheery pictures that I took way back in October when the sun was warm and the flowers were waving their lovely heads and saying, “Look at me”.

Enjoy.

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Written 10/25/2017

Things Have Changed…


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I noticed just the other day
that things are different in how I play
in the way I used to spend my life
not counting when I had a wife
for they tend to tell a man
of the things that they have planned
for him to do day to day
even though he would rather play
and do the things that he would like
but he does her things to avoid a strife
no what I mean is that I have changed
where I used to do the same
old things from day to day
like go outside and work in the yard
rake the leaves and toil very hard
and be tired at the end of the day
but feeling good in a tired sort of way
and now I like to sit and write
and spend my days inside despite
that things outside are not the same
with Richie gone myself I blame
and working outside sharing the space
even though he has run his race
I miss that little doggie friend
and always will until the end
and so I spend more time inside
until the memories do decline
and then outside I will go
to do the work I used to do.

Written 10/20/2017

 

Working on the Shed…


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The rain has gone and the frost has gone
soon I will be able to carry on
with my project outside fixing the shed
replacing the trim board around the bed
where the joists and the flooring are attached
covered by this board and carefully packed
to hold the flooring together and sound
for thirty more years as it comes around.

 

I actually have the boards in place
and removed the siding to see the space
where the insulation was supposed to be
alas the rats have made history
of the original stuff that I installed
which I need to replace with another roll
this is the part of the job that I dislike
it makes me itch and break out in hives
so long pants and long sleeves and wear a mask
with gloves on my hands to lessen the task
and work as quickly as I can
the fastest insulator in the land.

 

with the stuff installed and the siding in place
another project complete in my space
I still have other things to do
like clearing the frozen vegetation too
and to fix the fence where it leans with age
next on the list on my written page
I like to do these sort of things
a lifetime of training flying by on wings
of time as it marches towards the end
let’s fix the fence while I still can.

Written 12/9/2017

Thoughts


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It’s been awhile since I last wrote
or to my many readers spoke
of things that happen day to day
as I travel on my way
life is no longer the same
no worldly goods do I seek to claim
content to live with what I have got
on my little half acre lot
my little piece of American pie
with dreams that drift up to the sky
although too old for them to succeed
my mind still active tries to heed
the dreams that still my heart exclaims
as the years run out on all of my claims
to lead s different sort of life
maybe even include a wife
more acres of land to call my own
more years to enjoy what I have sown
ideas that need a more youthful life
not an old body filled with strife
of many years in this world
struggling to help it all unfurl
and what is the purpose at the end
what words of wisdom can I send
to those that I will leave behind
who buys my house what will they find
the ponds the garden the sheds all there
waiting for their tender care
to carry on where I left off
or to start anew at the thinking trough
and fill in the ponds and landscape anew
because they want a different view
with grass and flowers and an open space
each to their own there’s to replace
I do not really even care
what happens when I am no longer there
as my time on this earth will have been run
and for the most it has been fun
with ups and downs as we go through life
hoping that there’s not too much strife
and in the end the question remains
as dead is dead to bury or cremate
I think that when my time does come
a wooden box will be my home
returned back to the cold cold ground
with Mother Nature my love unbounds.

Written 10/20/2017

Reimer’s Ranch 10-1-2017


Jeff Price-18

9 picture pano showing the Turkey Trail

Yesterdays walk was so easy comparatively speaking because of the fairly even surface, I felt good enough to go out again two days in a row. Again, contrary to my usual practise of not walking on weekends due to the crowds, I opted to take a walk at Reimers Ranch County Park to see if I could get some good bird pictures. It helps now that it is cooling down and is in the mid 80’s.

I drove to the very last Parking Area, the one that is also the lot for the Rock Climbers as I wanted to walk the Turkey Trail because it has been the most productive regarding bird and animal pictures so far. Going through my usual ritual, I donned all of my equipment and as suitably attired, headed for the trails.

Just as I was starting out, my path crossed with another hiker coming towards me and we exchanged greetings as we passed. I had already decided that I would sit at the bench at the intersection of the Turkey Trail and the Multi Use Trail not because I was tired but in the hope that sitting peacefully might encourage the birds to fly back into my neighborhood. I used my binos as I scanned the surrounding trees but to no avail. I saw one bird fly and perch and then could not find it in the foliage.

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A 5 picture Panorama of Milton Reimer’s Ranch

I gave up on the sitting idea and headed down the Multi Use Trail towards the westerly end of the park taking pictures along the way of the trail. I experimented carrying my poles in one hand and the camera in the other as this was also the location where I saw the deer last time out. This method worked out OK but there were no deer this time around. The trail got rougher and much steeper so the camera had to go back in its carrying harness.

I got to the bottom of the hill and watched a couple of horses come towards me. We exchanged greetings as they passed and they were quickly out of site. Four legs can cover a lot more ground and much faster than my two old ones. I turned off to take the bottom trail to head back to the parking lot. This is a fun trail to walk now that the Parks people have cleaned it up as it follows the river not more than 50 yards away. I passed a couple that asked about the trail and I was able to direct them to the nearest bench for them to eat lunch. They didn’t invite me, darn it…I passed several groups of flowers along the way and took pictures of the trails and rock formation.

I could hear the rock climbers off to my left as they were enjoying themselves with their very hazardous idea of fun. There are several different rock faces along the way and they all seemed to be occupied. Eventually, the lower trail that I was on merged with the upper trail used by the rock climbers as we neared the exit to the last parking lot. I stopped to let several of them pass me as again, they all walk faster than I do. Everybody does…They opted for the fourth exit but I  continued along the trail and headed for the third exit. I wanted to walk the short distance on the top trail just in case I could see anything worth photographing.

Little did I know that that was the best decision I had made for a long time as I continued along, I spotted a large bird flying over the river. At first, I thought it was just another buzzard except it was not using the air currents and floating as the buzzards do. This one seemed to have much more purpose as it flew. I got the binos out to take a closer look and the first thing that I saw was the white head and thought that it might be a Bald Eagle. It did not have the white tail feathers that the Eagles have but there was no mistaking the white head. Then I recognized it as an Osprey which are well known for their feats of diving into the water to catch fish.

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Totally submerged

I quickly got the camera with the long lens ready and went to work snapping pictures as quickly as I could. I watched it as it dove into the water and managed to get a picture of that but when it went in the second time, it was out of my view but I certainly heard the very loud splash. When it came back into view, it was carrying a large fish as it headed back up the river. I thought at first it might have had a nest close by but the nesting season is over.

I walked up the trail keeping an eye on where I thought it had landed and managed to locate it perched in a dead tree. I took a lot of pictures of it very glad that for the very first time, the expensive piece of glass that I had in my camera was going to pay off. I waited around taking the occasional picture but the bird did not seem to be in any hurry to eat the fish. I figured that it was not going fishing anymore today so I walked the trail to the third trailhead and made the difficult climb to the top.

A couple of older ladies wanted to know if they could get to the river from this parking lot and I directed them to where I had just come up warning them that they had to be very careful as it was a bit of a climb even going down. I started walking the gravel path on the very top of the bluff that connects all four of the parking lots heading back to the last one where I had parked my car. On the way, I heard a bird call and stopped and as I did so, a large bird flew off another dead tree very close to the trail. This one too had the white head and I don’t know if it was the same bird or if there are more than one now living in this area.

I arrived back to my parking area and made my way to the car giving yet more advice along the way to another older couple who wanted to get down to the river. I warned them it was not easy but they tried anyway. As I was sitting in my car, they drove off obviously not willing to make the climb down which is pretty difficult.

This has to be my most successful trip yet as far as taking pictures of wildlife, in this case, the Osprey. Obviously, this will not be my last in the never ending search for that perfect picture now that I know where to look. Funny that all of the times I have hiked at Reimer’s Ranch, and even though I have looked, I have not seen an Osprey before. Maybe it is a product of this Springs hatch.

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I took this picture of these flowers using the telephoto lens from way across the river.

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I drove back home very content with the hike. Altogether, I covered 5.8 miles not all on the trail as I also walked around the Supermarket on the way back.

Written 10/3/2017

After The Snow…


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The sun shines and the snow is gone
all that is left is to carry on
cleaning up the mess that the frost has left
even though briefly her touch was deft
plants are shriveled up and dead
leaving behind a mess instead
that I will need to clean up its true
just as I always have to do
when Mother Nature comes calling around
in the shape of frosts that know no bounds
freezing all of the tender plants
none of which have a chance
against the freezing tendrils of the frost
everything she touches is surely lost
If we get just one frost every year
covering the plants with it’s icy veneer
the plants all die and I am left
to clean up the mess although bereft
of any form of feeling it’s true
as this is the cycle that I view
year after year this is the way
Nature replenishes as she has her say
and in the Spring new plants will grow
and live long and strong till the next winters blow.

Written 12/9/2017