Austin Pond Society May 2018 Meeting


The Austin Pond Society tried something different with this May Meeting and held it at one of our Sponsors Store, namely Aqua-Dome located just off Ben White in Austin, Texas.

Aqua-Dome Meeting May 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The meeting was held outdoors with the weather cooperating, a nice breeze and not too hot. The first part of the meeting was as usual the Business Section and although the idea was unique, the soundtrack left a lot to be desired due to external traffic sounds. The second part of the meeting in which the owner, Gary Coffman, gave a demonstration on repotting water lilies was held in a different part of the large yard and the sound is much better.

Another of our Sponsors, Jet’s Pizza located in Brodie Lane, supplied the hungry group with a grand selection of different pizzas for us to devour which we proceeded to do at a rapid rate. There were about 40 members that had showed up and they listened intently as Gary showed us how he repots his water lilies. He also discussed Lotus and all of the other freshwater bog plants that he has for sale.

The meeting was over by 7:45 pm and I am quite sure that many of the members learned a bit about repotting water lilies. Thanks to Gary Coffman and Aqua-Dome for giving us something different.

This is the Business part of the meeting.

APS Meeting May 2018 – Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Gary Coffman demonstrating on “How to repot Water Lilies”.

Austin Aqua-Dome 2018 Repotting from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 5/22/2018

A Drive in the Country 2018


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I was on my way to my Vets to take in one of my dogs for a check up and to get a Rattlesnake shot and couldn’t help but wonder at the beauty of the wildflowers. There was a lot of yellow and I suppose there is a reason for that although I am not smart enough to even guess what that may be.

I came back with my camera after taking my little dog, Gizzie back home and took as many pictures as I could, marvelling at the beauty all around me. I put together a slideshow to music for your enjoyment. These flowers are all in one area and if I had walked an 100 yards, would have found another such area just like the first. The flowers are in abundance this year.

A Drive in the Country from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written
5/4/2018

Dripping Springs Farmers Market 5-2-18


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It was a Wednesday and I happened to find myself back in the Dripping Springs area primarily to visit the Tractor Supply Company where I purchase my fish food. I only ever buy one 28 lb bag at a time which lasts me a little less than two weeks and even though it would make sense to buy at least two bags, I really like the drive and the visit to this picturesque old town located at the foot of the Texas Hill Country. It helps even more now that the town has gone all modern on me with the addition of a Starbucks which I find a reason to visit. One of my most favorite things is to drive out in the countryside in my new Ford F-150, listening to an Audiobook and with a Starbucks Latte within arms reach.

I had not chosen the day, Wednesday, on purpose and it was really by chance that it happened to be the day of the Farmers Market. I don’t usually stop in to visit but on this day, I decided that I could really use one of the pastries that one of the vendors sells. So, I dragged out my camera and took a few shots of the vendors and the musician who was entertaining a small child and his Mother before stopping to purchase an Empanada. There was a long list to choose from and I eventually settled on a Mole Beef. I willingly paid the vendor his $5:00 and took my morsel of goodness back to my truck and sat for a while as I improved on my Audiobook and Starbucks Latte with the addition of the Empanada which, by the way, was absolutely delicious. I almost went back for another and then common sense stepped in and told me that spending $5:00 on one pie was OK but to spend $10:00 on two, as good as they were, would be more than a little extravagant and would spoil the moment.

I left the Market and headed home more than a little content. Funny how the small things in life really begin to mean something as we grow older and how much easier we are to be satisfied with tiny moments of pleasure.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I wrote about this market a little over a year ago and the need for an Empanada was the reason for this repeat.

Written
5/4/2018

Life’s Up and Downs


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Today I got up on the roof
to blow away the leaves and such
something I have done for many a year
although much easier in my youth
every year I face this task
and every time I say its the last
that I will find a younger man
there must be somebody I can ask
this time turns out to be the worst
because the amount of leaves has grown
and mixed in with all the mess
are the catkins that are a curse
these little brown things have had a good year
the most that I have ever seen
these are the males whose jobs are well known
and that is to make acorns appear
this is not accounting for much
what really matters is how it is done
as the males release a pollen count
miserable to many with allergies and such
I have never really been aware
or had problems quite this bad
as when I blew the stuff from the roof
and released the pollens into the air
It had never affected me before
and I have done this task over many years
this time I thought I was at deaths door
as my body reacted for doing this chore
I rushed to the local Pharmacy
coughing and sneezing along the way
scanning the shelves for an instant cure
a quick relief I’m hoping to see
It took me a couple of days
to even get close to feeling right
but I am happy to say
I am almost back to my normal ways
next year when it comes the time
to clean the roof of leaves and stuff
I swear I’m going to find that guy
and to him this task I will assign.

th

Written 4/29/2018

McKinney Roughs 4/20/2018


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My friend BJ and I went for a walk at McKinney Roughs. It was such a beautiful day and even though the sun was shining, was not yet very hot and a wonderful day to be outside.

After a brief conversation, we opted to walk Yaupon mainly because it was a change from always taking the trails that lead to the river. Yaupon is an interesting trail due to its many ups and downs with the ups always in the direction you are walking. It is not difficult but in places, where there are a lot of loose pebbles, it can be tricky walking. The trail follows Pope Bend Road for much of its length and we would be welcomed by the occasional dog barking to let us know not to trespass on his territory. As we had no intentions of deviating from the trail, the dogs were perfectly safe.

Towards the end of the trail out, a young lady and her small dog passed us at a pace much faster than we could muster although my partner, BJ walks much faster than I do. For me it is not speed but distance covered. Besides, I am always stopping to take pictures. I took over 100 on this walk.

We almost reached the Pope Bend Trailhead before turning back and heading in the reverse direction. I don’t normally like to back track but in this case, there is no choice as there is still a blocked trail that prevents us from completing the loop by taking Roadrunner and then Coyote Road back to the parking lot. We slowly made our way back only this time, all of the uphills we have walked on our way out had reversed themselves and it appeared that we had to walk uphill all over again.

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The young lady with the dog finally caught up with us for the second time on her way back. She was still walking much faster than we were. Oh to be young again…We finally arrived back in the Parking Lot and when BJ looked to see what time it was, she was very surprised to see it was almost 6:00 pm. We had started out at 1:30 or so. When I checked my pedometer, it was reading 9 miles although the official distance is around 5 miles out and back. My pedometer is set up at 29 inch steps for me with my short legs and when it counts my steps and then computes the distance covered, its always going to be different. All we both knew was that we were both very tired.

Distance or not, it was still a great walk as this is such a beautiful time of the year with everything so green and all of the Spring flowers out in all of their glory.

I put together a slideshow of the Trails that we walked.

And the Spring Flowers

Enjoy
Written 4/24/2018

When I was a kid…


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I got to thinking about the difference in the generations between mine as a kid and the modern day kids. I tried to put myself in their shoes but found it impossible to wrap my mind around the huge differences between us.

When I was a kid, admittedly time and circumstances were different as it was wartime for some of my youth, but even so, everything was at a much slower pace. I lived on a road that was named Huggletts Lane and although the name conjures up thoughts of a dirt road leading to nowhere, in fact it was a tarmacked (blacktopped) road but still leading to nowhere. The road did eventually turn into a dirt road and then into a footpath leading to the next community a couple of miles down the road which is how it was with many of the small villages that dotted the countryside.

There were several kids on my street all about the same age and we spent most of our free time roaming the woods and fields and playing outdoors communing with Nature although we didn’t think of it like that. To us, the great outdoors was our playground and all that we learnt and shared was a normal part of growing up as a kid back in the 1940’s. The fact that there was a war going on and that we occasionally had to take cover from an enemy aircraft as it flew over in the early part of the war was a part of life as we knew it. We were right on the enemy flight path as they flew towards their targets and then back home.

Life was not normal because of the war but it was to us. Things like food rationing and dogfights and flying bombs that we called Doodlebugs and masses of troops of all Nationalities, tanks and armored vehicles and jeeps by the hundred tore up and down the roads and country lanes and signs of war were everywhere. We accepted this as normal because we were kids growing up in troubled times.

The closest school to us was three miles away and we generally walked as a group every day picking up others kids along the way. We were of all ages as our school ages started at five or thereabouts and went on through fifteen which was the normal graduating age at that time. We were split up into different age classes but all housed under one roof in several different classrooms. There were no organized sports other than the playground where we made our own entertainment. Coming home was a bit different as we tended to split into individual groups and we all had different agendas. Because of our closeness as kids generally speaking, things like Mumps, Measles, Chicken Pox and what are considered normal childhood diseases, tended to affect all of us one after the other. If one caught it, we all caught it. We had a Country Nurse that rode a bike from house to house checking up on the sick kids  and we would write notes to each other that she would gladly take and deliver for us. Doctors, in real emergencies made house calls and were glad to spend time with the patients and most babies were born at home with a Doctor and Midwife in attendance.  I remember that I had to have my tonsils removed which required spending a week in hospital in Uckfield. Any surgery  was treated as a big deal back then and was a risky business.

Home life was also much different. Families tended to do things together such as always eating together, taking long walks and listening to the radio. Food was pretty plain and simple and as we all had large gardens that required the entire family to help with the garden chores like weeding and planting or gathering the vegetables for the evening meal. The women and girls in the family helped with the cooking and cleaning and the boys fed and cleaned out any animals and chickens that every house had and also did the heavy garden work like digging and planting. Sometimes, on really special occasions like Christmas, we would kill one of the chickens as a special treat. Very rarely did we get to eat Turkey and never at my house. My only taste of turkey was at one of my wealthier friends house where I had been invited over for Christmas Dinner.

The radio played a big part of our lives as this was how we got most of our news about the war. Then there were radio programs like Happydrome and The Archers and all kinds of mysteries and thrillers that entertained the entire family in the evenings. We sat and listened to it just like people do today watching their TV sets as the radio actors with their magical voices kept us entertained. We had a phonograph to play 75 rpm records of which we had a small collection.

We never had a phone, ever. The nearest public phone was a couple of miles away and most people either were afraid or did not know how to use one. My Dad went everywhere on his bike and as we grew older, we also had bikes and that became our new form of entertainment as bikes opened up new horizons. We could now get to places that were not available before such as the local Market on Wednesdays or the Movie House in Heathfield about 7 miles away or even to one of the local football (soccer) games to watch the hometown team.

As kids, we learned to entertain ourselves without getting into trouble except maybe for stealing apples from Mr Jones Orchard or getting chased by a very upset horse for us getting into his field and stuff like that. We learned to entertain ourselves making the most of what was available to us mostly from our immediate surroundings. Nature played a huge part in our lives and we are all the better for what we learned.

Compared to today, our lives back then were dull and uninteresting. Not to us of course as it was our life and the only one we knew.  We never had TV to entertain us and we had to use our own imagination and brains to keep us busy.  Cell phones had not yet been invented and we were no worse off because of it. Hardly anybody owned a car as we all relied on public transport, bikes or shank’s pony otherwise known as walking, to get us anywhere. Food was plain and simple and some of it pretty heavy stuff like Roast Beef with vegetables and Yorkshire pudding on Sundays, Liver and Onions through the week and Fish and Chips on Fridays. There was always Mashed Potatoes and lots of vegetables from the garden. For deserts, there was Rice Puddings, Treacle Pudding and Apple Pies. A lot of it was homegrown and there was no such thing as fast food. Milk was delivered every day in one pint bottles with a thick layer of cream on the top and the Baker made deliveries once a week.

Bath night was always a very interesting time in most houses. We didn’t have a bathroom and we made do with the kitchen. Yes we did take baths but it was not as simple as turning on a tap (faucet) and hot water came out.  We didn’t even have hot water to our sink and all hot water had to be boiled in a kettle. although we were modern enough to have an electric kettle to do this. In the corner of our kitchen was what was called, a “Copper” that was comprised of a very large copper tub with a wooden lid built in to the wall with a fireplace underneath that probably held thirty to forty gallons of water. This normally was used to boil the clothes on wash day before hanging them on the line to dry but on bath nights, was used to heat the water.

The bath was a galvanized steel tub about five feet long which was dragged in from where it was hanging, once a week so that everyone could have a bath. The hot water from the “Copper” was dipped out and poured into the bath and suitable cold water added to bring it to a bearable temperature. The men were all ordered out of the kitchen and banished to the furthermost parts of the house while the ladies, starting with the Mom and then followed by any girls in the family, would take their baths one after the other all using the same water which was kept at a suitable temperature with the addition of hot water from the “Copper”.

Then, when the ladies were through and decent, the Father and the boys would take their turn  adding more hot water as required until finally, all were sufficiently clean to last another week. The Bath was then dragged to the door and unceremoniously upended and the restored to its normal hanging place on the wall. You can imagine that the lowest boy on the totem pole by age (me) may have had misgivings about this particular ritual especially if there was a large family. Invariably, the boys would be reminded to “wash behind their ears” as though this was also apart of the bathing ritual. Not sure why so much emphasis was placed on this particular action but it always came up. Of course, we always answered in the affirmative whether we had or not. Even our toilet, which adjoined the kitchen, was reached by going outdoors although it did have a chain pull to flush it.

These are some of the things I remember as I was growing up, so different from modern day America and although I have never been back, probably modern day England. Was I better or worse off for my younger life as compared to the kids of today? I can’t really answer that as all I know of a modern day family is what I read and surmise. I am concerned that most modern day kids do not spend time outdoors. I am not sure if they even know how to entertain themselves without getting into trouble or without TV, Xbox and their phones or having organized entertainment. There is no doubt in my mind that modern day kids are probably much smarter and in some ways, much further ahead in their academic work than we ever were but they are missing out on the basics of life.

If I had to make a choice and had the opportunity to do it all over again, I would have to say that I would choose my life back then as opposed to being a kid in this modern world.  I was very happy even in the difficult times and because I didn’t know any better was content with my lot. I do not like what we have become, our reliance on gadgets or the need to be entertained and although I use some of the technology, I do not like what the end result is in the younger generation or come to that, their parents.

I can’t change any of it and will live out the rest of my days living in the past with my many memories as I transcribe them to my modern computer hoping against hope that this modern day world in which we live does not not implode with the Global Warming that all of this modern day technology has caused…

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Written 4/13/2018

 

A Blank Page


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I sat here staring at a blank page
words would not come it seemed for an age
and when they did they did not make sense
nor would they rhyme under any pretense
for writing a poem requires some thought
and must be something the mind has sought
rarely do words just fall into place
instead require thinking at a steady pace
a little change here and a tweak over there
in order to write something I’m willing to share
for it has to be right and has to rhyme
otherwise I feel like I’m wasting my time
and to post something bad only makes it worse
as I am not satisfied with writing bad verse
instead I will give up writing for today
and go out in the yard and the garden to play
and hope that the next time I try
the words will flow freely and we end on a high.

Written 4/13/2018