The Passage of Time…


Santos1982

I was invited to a party the other night when a dear friend was being honored for his services for our local Soccer Organization. His was for forty five years of service as the Legal Council and founder member of this League from all of that time ago.

I first met Phil just after I moved to Texas in 1977 with my third wife, Susan. We had moved down from New York State mainly because of a job offer that I had and also to get as far away from the awful winters that is a part of that State’s makeup. We settled in Austin and Susan, knowing that I liked to play soccer (football to the rest of the world), asked around and finally hooked up with Phil who asked me to come and practice with his team named Santos. He considered me good enough that I signed on to play. I played for the team for a few years and also the subsequent team named Santigous formed to play in an Over 30 division as the younger punks in Division 1 were really running us ragged. Time and age was already catching up with us.

Over the course of the next thirty or so years, our paths crossed on the soccer fields and in the League Meetings where I was also very active as the Administrator. Although we never played together again, we remained good friends until I finally quit the soccer scene in 2008 due to knee problems. I had one knee replaced but have managed to get by on the other even though the cartilage has gone. As it doesn’t hurt, why mess with it. Phil is still showing up to the fields to play although he is suffering from macular degeneration and can’t see worth a damn but he likes the company and camaraderie that playing with a bunch of old guys that you have known for a very long time, brings.

The party was a surprise and even though eighty odd people had been invited, the secret never got out and Phil was suitably impressed when he walked in the door to the cheers and claps of all of those present. We had all been asked to arrive early, get a drink and socialize which wasn’t hard to do as we were in the company of people that we hadn’t seen in years. It was interesting to see someone you recognized but could not place a name and in other cases, the name came straight back to you. I had the unfortunate distinction of being the oldest person there although many others were not that far behind. As I surveyed the scene trying to recall the names of the many men gathered there, I was struck by the fact that  the passage of time had not been kind to some of them. In some cases, it was hard to recognize them as their faces had grown old and their bodies had shrunk with the passing of time. I compared them now to when they were playing all much younger healthier and vibrant men and bemoaned that the passing of time is so cruel. Many of the men were still playing albeit in the Over 50 division and at a much slower pace but they still enjoyed the game and the company of their fellow players.  Team sports and football in particular does that for you.

The evening ended following a procession of speakers who made their way up to the mic to relay what Phil had done for them in their lives. Everyone spoke in glowing terms of his different exploits both on and off the soccer fields recalling memories of Soccer Camps of long ago, notable games against teams long gone and of the players who have passed on. All in all, the evening was a huge success for those of us lucky to attend to honor a very dear friend for his outstanding soccer accomplishments.

Written 8/13/2018

 

Friendship…


Santos1982_InPixioNU_InPixio

I am sitting here waiting for time
to pass and then I can get ready
ready for what I do not know
only that I need to change into something
better than I have on now
as shorts won’t cut it.

A dress shirt and a nice pair of dress pants
should do the trick so I don’t stand out
in a crowd who would all rather wear shorts
but all have come with the same purpose
to honor a lifelong friend
for his services to the cause.

We are all members of a group
who in our free time
kicked a ball around
the game played with the feet
and called football
to the rest of the world.

My friend who I have known
for forty one years
welcomed me on his team
with open arms
even though
he had never seen me play.

Tonight we honor our friend
for services to the football community
for his dedication to the sport
in helping to form the League
so that enthusiasts like me
had a place to play.

Now forty one years later
he gets the recognition he deserves
as a founder member
and as a true soccer enthusiast
and a real gentleman
in every sense of the word.

A Lawyer by trade
dealing with the misfortunes
of broken marriages
a more warm and caring man
you could not hope to meet
in any lifetime.

I consider myself very fortunate
to be a  part of his circle
and to have known him for so long
even as I played against him
on different teams
still a true friend.

Poem by Francis Allcorn
written on the occasion of
Phil Friday and his 45 years in the
Austin Soccer Community.

Written 8/12/2018

Losing Pets


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Losing a much loved pet is very difficult for all of us and some of us grieve for a long time as we try to move on.  The same is not true, at least for me when I lose any of the big Koi that live in my ponds. Fish, by nature, are cold blooded things and don’t do well in the cuddle department. I know that some people do not share my views on fish but I find it hard to even come close to any form of grief when a fish dies as they are sometimes apt to do.

A couple of days ago, I lost a big white Koi which was the biggest fish I have ever had. She was one of the originals so probably close to 38 years old which is pretty good for a fish in an unprotected pond. She was well over three feet long and probably weighed close to twenty pounds. I suspected that she was  going to that big Koi pond up in the sky as she had been acting very lethargic the past few days and did not appear to be eating and sure enough, when I came out to feed them the other morning, I could see her laying on the bottom of the pond. It is my experience that these large Koi don’t float immediately and it usually takes a couple of days for them to get up off the bottom of the pond, I suppose as they start to decay and the gasses start to form.

After a real struggle on my part due to her size and weight as my net was hardly big enough,  I managed to get her out of the pond.  Close inspection did not reveal any outwardly visible signs of damage or disease so it must have been an internal problem of some sort. Anyway, dead is dead and after pulling on a pair of long sleeved rubber gloves, I carried her to the bottom of the garden and with some effort, tossed her over the fence for the vultures or other wild things to clean up. She was heavy enough that I managed to wrench the muscles in my left upper arm in the process causing me to light up the air with a few well chosen cuss words.

I have at least fifty or sixty Koi in three of the five ponds some of which are almost as large as the one we just lost. These are the second batch of Koi bought way back in 1980 following a refilling tap water incident which wiped out the original stock purchased in 1977.  I have one surviving Koi from that original 1977 group and he is definitely the oldest and is at least 41 years old but being a male, is not among the very largest ones. There are also a couple of hundred or so Goldfish in three of the ponds and it is hard to stop them from breeding especially in the ponds that are populated by Goldfish only. Koi do a good job of keeping the population down as do a couple of turtles that are in the other ponds as they eat the eggs and  young fry.

The occasional fish die off is not always a bad thing as it keeps the population manageable. I am glad though that I don’t have to make the choice  of who lives and who dies. I’ll leave that to Mother Nature…

Here come the buzzards,  Mother Nature’s cleanup crew and so the pendulum swings as it always does, in the grand scheme of things.

Written 8/9/2018

 

Too Darn Hot…


DSC_6798

I looked at the weather forecast for my part of Texas in Austin just to see what the weather was going to be like for the following day. There appeared to be a lull in the almost incessant 100 degree temperatures with a  forecast high of only around 95 degrees. Well, I thought to myself, I can handle that and made plans to take a hike the following day.

I got up earlier than I normally do in the hope of getting to the park and enjoying an easy walk on one of the trails but unfortunately, something came up necessitating my attention and I did not arrive at the park until close to 11:30 am. I chose to walk at Reimers Ranch mainly because of the river and the hope for seeing some of the wildlife that abounds the area. On the way in, I noticed that the Park people had been doing some more of their controlled burns and many of the Live Oak tree canopy was brown and charred. I wondered if they will survive as the damage looked pretty extensive.

I parked the truck at the furthermost parking lot with the view of walking the Turkey Trail heading to the end of the Park and then coming back along the river past the rock climbing area. I stepped out of the truck and was hit by a wave of hot air as by now, the temperature was in the low 90’s. I walked around  the Parking Lot for a bit and then decided that it was way too hot to be out in this temperature and maybe I should put this off until tomorrow or another day.

The wuss in me won out and I jumped back into my truck (and the air conditioning) and found a shady spot to park and then proceeded to spend an hour listening to my latest Audiobook, The Outsider by Stephen King which I found much more enjoyable than sweating it out on the trail. I am definitely growing old if I pass the opportunity of a pleasant walk with my two cameras at the ready and choose to listen to an Audiobook instead notwithstanding the quality of the story which, by the way,  is excellent and hard to put down.

I decided to head home but to take an alternate and more scenic route back into Dripping Springs as I need to purchase fish food from the Tractor Supply Store located there. As I rounded one corner I saw what looked like some sort of a problem or maybe an accident up ahead and as I got closer, could see that one of the Telephone poles on the side of the road was broken and that the cable was hanging low across the road. I immediately pulled up, turned on my flashers and acted as a traffic cop as it was impossible to get through for about 30 minutes until the local Fire Department arrived to take over.

With my help no longer needed, I turned around and drove back the way I had come and took a different road into Dripping Springs and the feed store only to discover that they were out of fish food and to “Come back in a couple of days”. I drove the rest of the way home uneventfully.

Tomorrow, I plan on getting up early (for me) so that I can get that walk in.

Written 8/6/2018

Austin Pond Society August 2018 Meeting


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


After being away from our home location for the past two meetings, the Austin Pond Society was very happy to return to what we consider to be our home base, Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin, Texas. The first things I noticed upon our return was the Photographic Art that adorned the walls, showings from one our local Photographic Artists,

This was our monthly meeting for August. We had originally lined up a Speaker but he had to cancel at not quite the last minute as we had time to line up a different event. This time, we held our Swap, Buy and Sell meeting where the owners brought in their used equipment in the hope of moving it along to others who may have the need. There were also many plants both for sale and free and one Member brought in a bunch of baby Koi that he was giving away.

For the first time, there was quite a bit of duplicate pond equipment such as skimmer boxes, filter boxes and such with no less than three owners having similar items on their tables. Some of the equipment was brand new and still in the box as in the case of Member Mike Peppar who purchased the items with a view of DIY pond and then ended up contracting it out to one of the many reputable pond builders in the area.

DSC_6877-Pano

I counted thirty four members at the meeting all who appeared to enjoy themselves. The meal was the good old American standby, namely hot dogs with all of the fixins and there was plenty to go round including deserts brought in by the members.

The Business section of the meeting comprised of two major items. Ellen Filtness has come up with the idea that has been named Pondsitters. Basically what it is is a service provided by the current members to help one another out on a volunteer basis either in Emergencies or when the owner want or needs to go away for a few days and the volunteer would act as the Pond sitter in the time the owner is gone. She explained the idea to everyone and it is currently posted in a lot more detail on the APS Website. Great idea for those of us that do not have anyone to look after our ponds and need to take that trip. If you are interested either as a volunteer to Pondsitters or have the need for such a service down the road use this link for more information.

The second item was the presentation of the revised bylaws after a couple of months of hard work by Margaret, Jeannie, Julie and Frank working on the Revisions with Nancy Reinhardt as Chair of this project. Nancy presented it to the floor for it to be voted on as the new APS Bylaws. There was some discussion over one item to do with the number of Directors but Julie suggested a simple change of verbiage which was accepted by the Members who then proceeded to pass both measures. We should be good for at least 4-5 years without having to make further revisions. That was the last of the major business and the Swap and Sell opened to the floor. I would like to say it was a roaring success but I don’t believe it was. I sold some small items and made the grand total of $27 but there did not seem to be anyone with a pond building project in their futures so none of the major equipment that was offered by three of us, sold.

The plants and fish went well and their seemed to be a steady stream of buyers for the plants which were located outside because many of them are water plants and we did not want to mess up the floors.

The evening finally wound down and by 8:00 pm. nearly everybody had left. The next meeting is on September 17th and will be our Sponsors Night when we dedicate the entire evening to our wonderful Sponsors. Hope to see you there.

APS August Meeting 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 8/20/2018

My Inbox


inbox_banner

I was perusing through my inbox as I usually do first thing in the morning and I noticed that since I have taken the “Like” off of my blogs, my inbox is now much more manageable. I miss hearing from all of the friends and acquaintances that make up our blogging world although I still receive a lot of blogs from the ones I really care about and that I take the time to “Like”, which do give me great pleasure to read and acknowledge.

I almost feel like a new man with all of this time to spare. I didn’t realize just how much of it was taken up by reading and commenting on other peoples blogs. It was a bit out of control to say the least. Do I miss having all of those “Likes”? Of course I do. Everyone likes to have their ego stroked and there is no better stroke than a like from a fellow blogger.

Now if I could just control the ones that are looking for donations or want to sell me something that “I really must have”. Guess I need to unsubscribe from their mailing lists in order to achieve that.

Written 7/24/2018

Real Money?


circulation-coin-rolls

I was in the store the other day and as I usually do, paid for my goodies with my Bankcard. I got back in my truck and it got me thinking when was the last time I used cash for anything and quite honestly, I couldn’t remember. I always have cash in my billfold, just in case, but generally, the only use that any of it gets is to give to some of the poor unfortunates that stand at just about every stop light in Austin. Even then it is limited to a couple of dollars unless they happen to have a dog in which case I give more. Gotta feed those pets most of which actually look in pretty good shape. It says a lot for human nature that they may be down on their luck but they look after their four legged friends. I was in Bastrop and had just stopped at the store when I noticed this homeless man and his dog sitting on the curb. I stopped and gave him a couple of dollars and a couple of cans of dog food that I had just bought. He couldn’t thank me enough for thinking of his four legged friend and was more grateful for that than the couple of bucks I had given him. This small gesture made my whole week.

I had already stopped at my Bank to enquire how I could turn in some loose change that I had collected over the years. Way back when in my working days, I was in the habit of turning out my pockets when I got home and depositing the loose change into various jars and containers. That started directly after my last and final wife moved on to greener pastures in 1992 as then I was able to control all of my actions including saving the loose change without fear of it disappearing.

This probably went on for more than 15 years until with the progression of time, I started to use the Bankcard and there was no more loose change to save. At one point, I purchased one of the little machines that would divide the change and put it into the paper rolls provided for this project. I kept this up for a few years and then got bored with the whole process and started to unload the change into any available receptacle which included some of the bowls and trophies that my soccer teams had won over the years, various vases and containers and even a 5 gallon plastic bucket from the local hardware store.

Eventually as I have stated, the whole thing came to an end with the advent of the Bankcard and the various containers that held both the rolled money and the loose change was scattered around all over the house including the spare bedroom. Then, last year, my friend George came back from England and stayed with me for a few days. In order to give him access to the bed in the spare bedroom, it required that we move some of the money containers from off the bed and the furniture. I’m glad there were two of us as those containers had gotten awful heavy over the years. It required George’s help to move them yet again, this time into my old home office which no longer sees any use other than to serve as a room for the  cat’s, at least when I still had cats. As the cats have all gone to Cat Heaven and I don’t intend to get more, now just one more empty room to collect stuff and dust. By the way, I love cats but having a doggy door for my canine friends makes it impossible to keep the cats indoors and safe away from the coyotes that inhabit the woods behind my house. My neighbors on both sides have lost pets to those critturs.

George moved on and I forgot about all of the loose change just laying around. Well, maybe I didn’t really forget but put it at the back of my mind as something to handle later..much later. It would probably have stayed that way if I hadn’t tripped over one of the trophies which being full of loose change, did not budge. Luckily, I managed to catch myself before taking a tumble and decided there and then that I had to do something about it. So, next time out,  as I mentioned before, I stopped at my Bank to enquire as to what I needed to do in order to transfer all of that money back to them. They explained that I had to get it to them however I could and they in turn, would take over the counting to credit my account with the total amount of which I had no idea. I don’t think they realized just how much of it there was.  Come to that, I don’t think I realized either…

Next day, feeling somewhat energetic and knowing what I needed to do, I set about locating a couple of 5 gallon plastic buckets that I just happened to have. They had previously been used on a fish rescue so I had to spend some time cleaning them with a scrub brush. They didn’t take long to dry in the 100 degree Texas sun and I brought them back inside and began to fill them with the contents of the various bowls and containers that currently held the loose coin. Needless to say, I never figured as to how heavy all of that change really was and put way too much in both buckets to where I could barely lift them let alone put them in my truck. So, back to the drawing board and this time, I located one of my Igloo type containers and filled it with the surplus loose change  from each bucket making sure that I only filled it enough to where I could still lift all three. This took care of all of the loose stuff but I still had all of the rolled coin to load. I found another container and carefully placed all of the rolled quarters into it testing it all the time to make sure I could lift it. I already had a wooden serving tray that was full of the other rolled denominations and was really very heavy for one man which was ready to load my truck. I struggled to get it loaded but eventually managed.

Since purchasing my truck, I have thought about this many times and have often wondered why the modern pick up truck is built so far off the ground and with such large wheels. It’s as though, the manufacturers expect all pick up drivers to be a minimum of six and half feet tall in order to load anything into the bed which of course makes it hard for us five foot eight (and shrinking) guys. Still, with a little ingenuity and a lot of cussing, I managed to get all of the containers out of the house, through the garage and onto the pick up truck. I managed to wrench the muscles in my upper arm as I was lifting one of the heavy containers which gave me a bit of a jolt but other than that, everything went fine.

I made my way to the bank and walked in the door and this young healthy looking male individual approached me and asked my business. I explained what I had in the truck and he volunteered to help me bring it all in. I was very glad of the help as my arm had stiffened up and was now more than a little sore. He actually carried in most of it as every time I turned around from dragging the containers from the back of the truck, he was back for another load.  Oh the strength and energy of a young body! We spent the next half hour first counting the rolled coin packages and then emptying all of the loose money into three very large and really heavy duty plastic bags that are made specifically for the job. Just like the sacks in the old time movies except now it is a modernized  version and the sacks are made of plastic.  I say WE but in reality, I just stood and watched although I did help with the coin pickup after we managed to spill some of the loose coin and there we were on our hands and knees picking it back up.

They gave me immediate credit for the rolls of coin which I had them transfer into my savings account figuring that now at least, it could collect interest as opposed to sitting at my house where all it collected was dust and took up space The loose coin in the plastic bags had to go to the Home Bank in San Antonio where they have machines that could count it to give me the credit again to my Savings account but it would take a couple of weeks. What’s a couple of weeks compared to the many years that it has sat at my house gathering dust and it is not like I was looking to spend it. Don’t get me wrong, I like to spend money along with the best of them but at eighty two years young, there is really not much that I need that I don’t already have and like I said before, I haven’t had a wife for twenty six years…

I should say that it was not just pennies that I collected. It was everything all the way through dollar pieces and there was a lot of loose change. You are probably wondering how much had I collected over the years. Lets just say, it was more than a couple of thousand dollars.  Like so many others, that sort of opportunity for me at least will never come around again as I no longer use cash and therefore no longer get loose change.

How times have changed in this modern world with our monetary transactions. If someone had told me twenty years ago that I would no longer have the need for money that I could feel and handle, I would not have believed them. But then again, there is a lot I would not have believed if I knew just what the future was going to be like.

That’s one more project to cross off my to do list and luckily for me, a one time job. For me, it will be interesting to see what the final numbers are after the bank count in San Antonio.

Written 8/2/2018