More Ramblings


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The Stained Glass Window in the Tree

I have just finished a poem about Hurricane Harvey, the second in the series. Will there be one tomorrow or the day after? Who knows as it all depends on what the weather will bring in that time. There is still a lot of storm left and plenty of time for it to reke havoc and damage. Quite obviously, all outside activity is curtailed for a while except to go out and check the ponds occasionally to put right any minor things that may be malfunctioning. So far, everything is holding up well.

I do have a stained glass window that I hung in one of the trees a few years back. Unfortunately, the branch I hung it on is now dead and I need to get up there and take the window down before the wind breaks the branch which has to be in the near future somewhere. That is nature’s way of trimming the trees, let the branches die until they are rotten and flimsy and then blow them down. Unfortunately, there is sometimes something wrong with the plan as it doesn’t take into consideration anything that may be situated under or hanging on the rotten branch. Make a note to myself to take down the window as soon as the storm leaves.

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View of the Vegetation in the Garden from the Deck

The rain that we are getting out of this storm is very welcome.  We have had around 80 days of 100 sometimes plus degree weather this summer and we are not through yet. The State has been in a drought like forever. Funnily enough, I was thinking just the other day that I have not set up the soaker hose systems that I have ready to go every summer. I have hand watered a few times on a couple of plants but not an excessive amount and the garden and plants have held up well.  Everything is pretty much native plantings and they are very drought tolerant. Except when I have to do a partial water change in one of the ponds which pushes the water bill up around the $60.00 mark, my normal consumption is around $23.00 worth of water. One old guy living alone sure makes a difference and yes, I do shower every day.

All of the animals are fast asleep. Pete is in his usual place on the couch and I can hear him snoring from way over the other side of the room. Ginny had to have her teeth cleaned two days ago resulting in the extraction of a couple of them. Now she is feeling sorry for herself stretched out fast asleep on the bed. I don’t know where the cat is, probably asleep somewhere in one of her hidey holes. Must be a great life to be a pet in a good home.

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A Different View of the Garden and the Native Plants.

Maybe I should take a leaf out of their book and join Ginny and take a nap…Or I could watch the English Premier League on television but  wait, I like to watch those recorded games in the evening. There is always the cat’s litter box that needs cleaning and a whole bunch of dusting and furniture polishing needing attention that I have been putting off for a couple of years or so. Or I could think of something else to blog about and add it to the couple of months worth that I am already scheduled ahead. I know,  while I am making up my mind, I will make myself another Latte to help me to think….

 

The Second Day of Harvey…


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I got up early just so I could see
damage caused by Hurricane Harvey
I slept soundly through the night
and did not hear weather to give me a fright
I did not even hear the rain
as it beat upon the window pane
and yet the two rain gauges show
that 4 inches fell of this I know

As I walked around the yard
the wind was still blowing pretty hard
treetops swayed first this way and that
as I stood waiting for them to crack
but so far everything is fine
in the part of Texas that I call mine
I’m sure before this storm is gone
something will break before too long.

I looked into the biggest pond
wondering where the tree had gone
as in this pond sits a cypress tree
in a pot with rocks but standing free
although it has a couple of ropes
cross tied so that in the hope
to stop it from falling upside down
when the big winds come around.

Alas the winds were mighty strong
and the tree is floating so before too long
I need to jump in and work on the tree
in order to get it vertically
but not much use until the storm ends
and then maybe with the help of friends
the tree we can right the way it should be
pointing upwards and proud for all to see.

So far nothing to make me sad
or damage so bad it makes me mad
the little bit that I can see
is not very much to worry me
not even enough to bring me tears
which I can fix when the weather clears
with trimmers and rakes and a wheelbarrow too
it won’t take long to make it look new.

There is still maybe two more days
of Hurricane Harvey coming our way
before he will blow himself out
and we will no longer be in drought
as the rain that he has left behind
will water our yards for a long long time
enough to last the rest of this year
as Fall is approaching and is quite near
and the weather will cool and more pleasant be
and the super hot days will be history.

“For this year…”

Is it Raining Outside – Harvey?


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I can’t believe it is finally true
the sky has turned a different hue
as clouds roll in all dark and grey
and rain is forecast along the way
we have had this news before
with weathermen making promises galore
telling us to watch the skies
and in the end they are telling lies
as nothing happens except a few clouds
which hides the sun beneath a shroud
these quickly pass along the way
and the sun returns brightly to have his say.

This time is different it’s plain to see
that these clouds are full and before they flee
will dump a bunch of rain on the ground
spreading new life all around
for without rain the plants will die
as they raise their faces to the sky
ready to swallow every single drop
and even if it rains non stop
the earth will take every bit from the sky
using all of her magic the gift to deploy
and everything will turn a wonderful green
just like it is at the start of Spring.

The reason there is so much rain
is all due to a hurricane
which has a name that does not cause fright
even though it packs a might
the hurricane’s name does not reflect
that awesome power that it can get
from something that Mother Nature has planned
and when the storm blows onto the land
uprooting trees and damaging homes
creating havoc wherever it blows
for Harvey is the name of this storm
and like all storms it will conform.

Evacuate and drive inland
are the golden rules for those by the sand
find shelter where the wind is not strong
a couple of days not for long
until the storm has blown itself out
and so there can be no doubt
that it is safe to return back home
and you will not be alone
in hoping that everything is still intact
and a place to live when you get back
for the power of the storm is a mighty force
as the wind and the rain cause a discourse.

Wait, the rain is slackening off
and we have only had a few drops
back to the computer to check the map
it’s just a lull a little gap
the next wave is due it’s plain to see
and this one is a darker green
with tinges of yellow nothing plain
denoting extra heavy rain
all I have to do is wait
to have all the rain the land can take
and then we will be pouring down rain
in the grip of Harvey the Hurricane.

Fellow Bloggers


Ashampoo_Snap_2017.08.24_15h43m41s_001_I have been thinking about blogging and why we do it. When I open the page to read some of the couple of hundred blogs that I receive on a daily basis, it is quite obvious that the Authors have many different reasons why they write and the subjects they choose are so varied. That is what makes blogging so unique that so many of us are writing without duplicating what the rest of us are saying. In many cases, the subjects are the same but the words, pictures and presentation are different.

As I peruse the daily offering, it is very clear to me that many bloggers are driven by forces unknown to the rest of us that compels them to blog several times a day and every day of the week. They must be independently wealthy, retired, maybe a stay at home Mom (or Dad), maybe even a Handicapped person or have nothing better to do with their lives than to give them the sort of time that writing good and newsworthy blogs of any quality can take. The question then arises, “Who are they writing for” because if most bloggers or blog readers are like me, we don’t have time to read more than one blog from one individual a day. The rest are eliminated with an active push of the delete button. Maybe the blog I read is not the best one of the available selection for that day but I will never know. I often unsubscribe from a writer because he or she has posted five (or any multiple number) or more blogs one after the other.

As many of you know if you follow my blog, I write a lot about what I consider interesting things that happen in my life as do many of the rest of you. I write about the hikes that I take or the events that happen with the Austin Pond Society and occasionally, will write a poem or two. I am an avid Amateur Photographer and take lots of pictures which I like to share with my readers. In between the post production of the pictures and writing the actual blogs not counting going on the actual hikes or events i am writing about, many of the blogs take several days to prepare. I forgot to mention that I am retired and spend a great deal of my time working on each blog before I am satisfied that it is ready to post. Even then, I do NOT post on a daily basis and try to limit my posts to twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays with the very occasional third post if something important comes up. Currently, I am scheduled out ahead through the second week of October and I try to always have a bit of a cushion.

This is just the way I do it. WordPress tells me that I have 2312 followers and my readers know what and when to expect a blog. I try not to overburden them with too much of my content as not everyone is interested in what I have to say. It took me a while to realize that and came as a bit of a shock especially if I had just completed what I thought was a particularly good piece. “What do you mean, you aren’t interested in this great piece. You got to be as I just wrote it and it is GOOD” flashes through my mind. Many of you are just being polite and acknowledging the fact that I have written the blog by giving me a “Like”. Bloggers that apologise for not having been online for a few days should save their breath as probably no one has even noticed their absence. That is the way that it is. We are all replaceable and often are.

Really, that is what it comes down to. Getting a “Like” is very important even if only for our own self esteem and the only way to get them is to reciprocate with other Bloggers. You “Like” them and in turn, they will “Like” you. So, those of you that are writing several pieces a day or even blogging on a daily basis every day of the week should not be surprised and you should realize that probably only one (any one) of your blogs received a “Like”. The rest ended up in the Trash Bin not because they are bad blogs but because most of us do not have the time and or probably the interest to peruse all of yours and others blogs that we are being bombarded with.

For myself, I think that in the future, I will find a few more bloggers to add to the selective group of Bloggers that interest me and devote the little time that I want to spend, enjoying them. I already know who most of them are as we have been following one another for a long time. New ones will have to be exceptionally good and interesting to join my little group. I realize full well that the number of “Likes” on my own blog will go down but I am prepared to accept that in order to unclutter my inbox and get back more of my day to spend on other things. Anyway, I would rather have comments than “Likes”. I seem to have hit a plateau regarding “Likes” and I am not really prepared to spend any more time on them. I can come up with several subjects that I don’t care for. Food and Religion are two and an 81 year old man is hardly interested in Fashion, Clothes and Makeup. Blogs that are full of Self Pity or being dumped by another person are to me a Bloggers way to get the rest of us involved in their particular brand of misery. Life is too short for that. I don’t care for blogs where the author uses unnecessary swear words as that is not my style either. Not that I am a prude as I break out in swear words all of the time. It’s just that there is a time and a place. Some verse I just don’t understand so that doesn’t appeal to me. I could go on and on but you get my point. Blogging has to reach a person in their mind as a reader and most of us have very limited horizons.

For those of you that choose to blog to the excess, if that is what it takes to satisfy your needs, then go for it. Just be aware that many readers are like me and will only read one blog a day from you so the bottom line is that whatever message you are trying to get out there is just not reaching the readers that you want it to.

Too much blogging or too many blogs especially on a daily basis is NOT necessarily a good thing.

Farewell Ellie…


Animal Cairn

The cairn under which at least eight of my pets are buried

My beautiful Ellie who I recently wrote about, has joined Brown Cat in that special place that all cats go to when they pass on from this earthly life.

She did not handle the passing of Brown Cat very well and it was obvious that even though they were not close, she did miss him if only for the companionship of another cat in the house. She totally changed her lifestyle from being an indoor cat sleeping on the bed all day to spending hours outdoors in any of the special places that she found to sleep, on the deck, under the deck, in between the trees and under the shed. If I didn’t bring her in at night, she would probably have spent all of her time outside not even coming in to eat. Even after eating, she immediately wanted back outside again although I wouldn’t let her out until the morning choosing instead to listen to her plaintive meowing in protest.

We had a rainy day and true to form, she again slipped out using the doggy door. I looked for her as the rain pelted down but could not find her anywhere. Eventually, around 12:30 that night, I located her under the deck totally soaked and very dirty and managed to get her indoors where I gave her a bath, sort of. Have you vere tried bathing a cat? I do not recommend it as they have teeth and claws and put them to very good use. I eventually got a lot of the dirt off her and dried her and put her in her room.

The next day, when I let her out, she immediately headed for the doggy door but only made it halfway and collapsed on the floor. I could see she was in trouble so I put her in a carry crate and off we went to the vets (again). Although I love my vets dearly having been with them for the 32 years I have lived in this house, they have seen far too much of me these past couple of years.

I left Ellie with them and waited for the call confirming what I already knew the news would be. True to form, Dr Donop, called and we talked about Ellie. Turns out that she had an open wound on her leg that I had not noticed before even when I bathed her.  With her outdoor life, the flies had gotten into it and they had made it much worse with their eggs and maggots and Dr Donop could not find any way to sew up the wound in order to treat it. We discussed the alternatives of which there were very few options and in the end,  based on his recommendations, I told him to go ahead and put Ellie to sleep and out of her suffering. It was something I was prepared for this time, not like Richie. I told him I would be back later that day to pick her up.

I walked out to the garden carrying my spade and shovel and headed for that special place next to the big pond where so many of my pets are buried. Normally, the digging is hard but as we had recently a lot of rain, it was somewhat easier than normal. Being Texas Hill Country, the limestone is usually only a foot or so below the surface which limits the depth of the hole and I make up for it but covering everything up with rocks.

I buried Ellie next to Brown Cat and Richie, the most recent of the many dogs and cats that lay in this special place. I stood for a while and said my goodbyes to Ellie as I have to all of the pets buried here. She was the last of the many cats that I have had the pleasure of living with over these many years both here and in my previous home out in the country as I do not plan on getting any more. My little menagerie has dropped radically in size from an all time high of eight dogs and three cats to two very small and very noisy dogs. What they lack in size, they truly make up for with their noisy barking at anything that moves out in the yard, perceived or real. Ginny is about eight and Pete around four so they should be around for awhile, hopefully, the rest of my lifetime.

There are stone statues of dogs and cats on the cairn.

In retrospect, this has been a bad couple of years as far as pets go in the Allcorn Residence. Four of the last six dogs and cats that I have taken to the vets have all come home in cardboard boxes and then there was Abigail who drowned in the septic tank. In fairness, with the exception of Richie and Abigail, all of the others were getting on in years and their time had come. Ellie was at least 18 years old and she had a good life.

I will miss her as I do all of the ones that have gone to that animal heaven up in the sky. They all asked for very little and in return, gave me their unconditional love. A man could not ask for anything better than that.

Rest in Peace Ellie. You will be missed.

Written 10/8/2017

 

The Trails at Mayfield Park Preserve 8-13-2017


DSC_0727-PanoI had an Austin Pond Society meeting scheduled for 3:00 pm this past Sunday which was going to be held at Mayfield Park. Making the most of the moment, so to speak, I arrived a couple of hours early so that I could walk the trails at Mayfield Park Preserve. In my many visits to this Park generally with something related to fish and ponds, I had seen many people drive in to use the trails and wanted to find out for myself.

I  took the time to change into my boots and strapped  on my single camera harness as I only planned on carrying the one camera with the 16-300 lens which is my go to lens for all occasions. After making  sure that I had my water bottle and walking poles I was ready to move. I stopped at the kiosk to take a look at the map and just like the last place, St Edwards Park, this map was also backwards from how I was viewing it. I quickly worked out where I wanted to go and set off down the trail along with several other people including a family who were carrying swimming stuff, towels and floats and the sort of thing one would associate with going to the beach or around here, one of the lakes. They disappeared down the opposite trail to the one that I took (thank goodness) as I strode away on my chosen path.

I wandered around for about an hour and a half exploring many of the trails. There did not seem to be much organization but without a map, which I was not able to locate either at the site or on the web, it was hard to know where to go. Many of the trails were very steep and/or required climbing up or down rock faces more like a rock climbing exercise than a walk on the trails. I have no idea if I covered all of the trails on my side but I switched and took the trail taken by the swimming family.

This trail eventually brought me down to Town Lake but I never did see a spot that the swimming family could hit the water. Of course, I have no idea if I covered all of the trails on this side either and there may be others that I did not see.

I retraced my steps back to the Parking Lot and sat for a while before changing into dry clothes in readiness for the meeting.  The car parked next to me was driven by a young and pretty lady in the skimpiest of bikinis who was very busy first hoisting her float board onto her car and then taking a very long time to tie it down to the roof rack. Her boyfriend was helping her and I was glad when they finally drove off as I was having the hardest time in not staring at her. Interestingly enough, she was not a bit fazed by her almost nakedness and was in no hurry to complete her tasks. I wanted to take pictures but didn’t have the nerve to ask her to pose for me. Maybe because her boyfriend was a lot bigger and younger than me? I am definitely not a prude but it was a bit unnerving (in a good way). Jeez, I gotta be getting bloody old.

The trails are tree covered nearly all of the way so there was a lot of shade. Most were easy walking except where they went up and over the rock face and there they suddenly got very difficult.

Below is a link to the slideshow of the trails.

Trails at Mayfield Park 8-12-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

Another of some of the views.

Views at Mayfield Park Trails 8-13-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Growing Older by the Minute…


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Damn, how I hate growing old. I am definitely not the very first person to make such a statement as at one time or another, every living human being has probably uttered those words in countless different languages.

Why is growing old such a problem? First of all, I am nowhere near as strong as I used to be. The rocks that I placed around the ponds have grown in weight since I put them there  a few years back and now I really struggle to move them around when I need to. As if that was not enough, the weight of the world has made me round shouldered and now I am shorter by more than an inch. On the other hand, I have had no problem at all in adding to my weight to the extent that I had to go on a diet to drop from 183 pounds to 155. Even now, it is a struggle to maintain it at this level. Then there are the aches and pains. Why do my joints ache and why do the few remaining muscles I have that are still working protest loudly when I try to use them.

There is nothing wrong with my eyesight as I still love to look at pretty girls especially if they are well endowed. Nowadays, I appreciate their beauty and the grace in which they move but unfortunately for me,  the long lasting desires of the flesh are no longer present. In my case beauty is in the eye of the beholder ….me. Of course, I have to be careful not to be caught staring otherwise I am labelled as a dirty old man. Wait a minute, I am a dirty old man.  So sad that this is all that remains…

I watch the professional soccer players on the television and marvel at the way they move and I remember when I played the game, not at their level but enough to make me pretty good. Nowadays, I doubt if I could run away from turtle if one turned rogue and decided to chase me.

One good thing about growing old is all of the accumulated experiences of the previous years along with all of the knowledge gained through a lifetime results in a treasure chest of information on just about every subject under the sun. The trouble is that trying to recall any of that information is iffy at the best as it’s probably long gone, buried deep in the annals of my mind, never to see the light of day when it is needed the most.

So here we have it. Creaky bones and a mind that has difficulty in recalling times of any real importance. I can still tell you the name of the kids I grew up with but I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. I can no longer run and jump and my fastest walking pace is probably less than 1 mile per hour. On the other hand, I can walk forever as long as it is at my slow pace.

So, what good am I you might ask. Good question and one that requires some thought to answer. I can still maintain the ponds and do any work on them that is required including moving the above mentioned rocks as heavy as they are. I can still walk for miles even in the hot sun as I am already wrinkled and shrivelled up even when coated in sun block so the sun is not going to spoil any semblance of looks that I still have. LIke I said before, I don’t need good looks as I am not interested in charming the ladies. I take pretty good pictures  and a lot of them and know how to present them. My mind works just fine in front of a computer and I have no trouble in writing stories about those long walks I take. My two remaining dogs love me…. I think, unless they view me just as a meal ticket and the cat is so old, I am not sure she even knows who I am anymore. My house is paid for and I own a little piece of Texas and I am comfortably enough off to be able to buy groceries and any small stuff when I need it.

So, what the hell is wrong with me worrying about growing old. Everyone and everything grows old as time marches on. There is no stopping its forward march. It has been this way since the beginning and if and when it changes, it will be the end of the World.

Luckily, I will not be around to see it.

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