Thoughts on Life – June 13, 2017


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It seems that when I choose to write
unless it is about a hike
or maybe something in the yard
or in the ponds which is not hard
as Nature is a willing guide
showing more than what she hides
and everywhere I choose to look
is another page from her open book
as beauty all around me grows
as the flowers are putting on a show.

What really bothers me
are the things that shape our destiny
as many things we can’t control
are forced upon our very soul
as we have very little say
in the things that happen day to day
as others the decisions make
they claim doing it for our sake
even in this Democracy
it is plain for all to see
that only one percent are doing fine
while the rest of us can only whine
and wait for the next election day
when we hope we have our say
and ours are the guys that make the rules
and we the ones who voted them in
will still be taking it on the chin
as our guys will no better be
than the ones already history.

Now let me see where was I now
as I turn on my computer to read the show
trying to stay abreast of things
looking to see what this day will bring
and reading about the same old stuff
just as though there isn’t enough
of pain and suffering and shootings too
why act this way I haven’t a clue
and Trump and his group more rules rescind
and Nature is taking it on the chin
and the Rich get richer with no help from us
and the sick get sicker with no one to trust
or to give them a helping hand
and the same is true all over the land.

I have stopped looking at the news
it is such a depressing view
to read all about such terrible waste
and Global Warming can’t make a case
the birds and animals and Parks and States
all are starting lose this race
as the idiots in charge keep tearing things down
all because of a billionaire clown
whose only interest is money and fame
and is playing a dangerous game
and has no thought for this Earth
and the damage which can’t be undone
remembered most as the one
The Man Who Let in the Sun.

I refuse to let this bother me
as outside of the window I see
plants and flowers putting on a show
and birds and squirrels some I know
as repeat visitors come to eat seed
at the feeders put out for their needs
and the Koi in the ponds are looking good
and the water is clear just as it should
and my pets are fine and in good health
and I feel good not acting my age
not ready to turn that final page
enjoying my life as best I can
without reading about that horrible man.

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Today’s Thoughts


 

lp4-mckinneyI was thinking about the world we live in and how we treat it.
It has been around for millions of years evolving at a very slow rate
Mankind has been around for a few thousand years
and in that time has done his best to destroy the very planet we live on
Man is either blessed or cursed with the ability to think and use his brain
It has enabled him to invent all kinds of sometimes weird but always wonderful new things, but at what cost
Man has never been able to get along with his neighbor since the very beginning
Wars have been fairly commonplace and routine things throughout the centuries
Even without wars, Man still kills and maims his fellow beings either through greed or ignorance or sometimes for no reason at all
Not content with killing each other, Man has now turned his attention to killing the very planet  on which he lives
It is as though Man is too selfish, too greedy and probably way too stupid
This planet was born millions of years ago with life in the form of Man only a few thousand of its years
We are a very small speck in this timeline and after we have done our best to have destroyed ourselves, the planet will continue spinning around the sun without us
And this Earth will be better off as we fail to learn our lesson
We have been given the opportunity to make things right
Will we take it? My guess is NO and all will be lost.

 

Friends


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I recently just lost a friend
one I have known for many years
another Englishman like me
straight here from the Old Country
a funny guy with a quick dry wit
a story to tell that rolled off his tongue
the times together were never dull
and in conversations there was never a lull
a mighty athlete on the soccer field
he was paid to play the game we love
skilfull  enough to be a pro
which brought him here years ago
he retired from playing and became a coach
teaching young kids on how to play
with gift of the gab and his English wit
the kids just loved hearing him say
“bloody hell” his favorite expression when
one of them screwed up again
he had a minor heart attack
while out running on the track
and ended up with a stent
and a bypass with the intent
of making him fit and well to return
to the land of the living with no concerns
this was several years ago
and I am happy to say he lived a good life
and met a lady to spend his time
and even almost made her his wife
they lived together for a few years
sometimes even with a few tears
as they went through the usual unmarried woes
keeping each other on their toes
till finally just a few weeks ago
they had the most terrible fight
so bad that it turned off the light
of any remaining feelings they had
and left them both feeling mad
my friend called me to say
that he was flying out the next day
back to the land where he was born
and that I should not mourn
but to make the most of our friendship here
and to say goodby with good cheer
we shook hands and gave a hug
and said take care and stay in touch
but the truth of the matter as we well know
even email and smartphones all the go
we probably will never see
or even speak to each other again
I surely will miss my old friend
for his wit and humor dry as can be
as life goes on maybe we are apart
and his memories will live on in my heart.

A Better Rat Trap?


snake

A couple of days ago, I was poking around in my newly cleaned out workshop trying to find something that I knew I had just seen and I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I had put it. I  happened to glance up to the top of the storage unit and was very surprised to see a big old rat snake waving its head around. As I watched, it gracefully extended its body until it located a hole in the plywood that lines the inside of the shed, one where I hadn’t cut too closely around the roof truss, and disappeared inside behind it. It had to be all of four feet long. My first thought was that now, I had a much more lethal rat trap than I could ever buy at Home Depot and just maybe, it would clean out any stragglers that may still inhabit the place. I was quite content to let it be but for the next couple of days, was very careful when I went in looking for a tool. You know, just in case…I don’t mind snakes as long as I can see them. I hate surprises of that kind.

Yesterday, as I walked out to feed the fish, I spotted what I assume is the same snake only this time it was out in the open sliding over one of the tubs that I use to store the pond plants.  It was a fine looking fellow and was all of 4 feet long.My immediate reaction was to keep the dogs away from the snake so as not to disturb it. My second reaction was to run indoors to get my camera and then I remembered that I had my cell phone in my pocket. I whipped it out and looked at it not really knowing what I wanted to do. I knew how to take a picture but didn’t have a clue how to take a video so I missed up on that opportunity. This is from a camera man that has almost 8000 pictures in my files all taken with my DSLR Nikon. Guess I am a bit of a snob when it comes to cameras.

Meanwhile, the snake was beginning to make tracks  to get under cover so I started clicking away and managed to get a couple of decent pictures. The markings on this guy are really pretty and he shone in the sunlight. As I was just going out, I put the dogs in the house so that the snake would have a couple of hours to make tracks to where it was going. Hopefully, it will end up under the Yellow Shed as I know the pickings for him are probably pretty good. Rats beware.

It must be that he didn’t find anything in the workshop which is probably why he vacated the place. Bad for him but good for me. Damn, I love Mother Nature.

Postscript:
I wrote this piece on May 29 and have to add that as I was walking into the workshop today, June 6, I caught a whiff of the unmistakable odor of rotting flesh. Thinking that it might be a rat that managed to catch himself in one of my traps, I sniffed around (quite literally) and discovered the source of the smell outside of the workshop off to one side. It was the snake and it was very dead and already putrefying. Even the fire ants were working on it building a mound over a part of its body.
Apparently, it had decided to stay even after I had given it time to get away and Richie, the male medium size Dachshund, had found and killed it. I was away just about all weekend photographing the Austin Pond Society’s Annual Tour or I would have heard the commotion that happens when Richie finds something he thinks he needs to go after and maybe would have saved the snake. After all, I could not ask for a better rat killer than a rat snake. It’s a pity as it really was a pretty snake as snakes go and I had no desire to see it dead. Then again, Mother Nature moves in strange and mysterious ways.

Now if I could just get Richie to concentrate on catching that rat that had the nerve to dash across the floor last evening as I was watching TV with Richie on one side and Peter, the fat little Chihuahua that we recently added to the family, on the other. Ginny, the miniature Dachshund, was fast asleep on the bed and anyway, catching rats is way below her. Not at all the sort of thing that a princess does. Richie never even woke up while Pete went to investigate but as the rat was nearly as big as he is except not so fat, didn’t try very hard. So now, the war on rats has moved inside of my house and it is time to get serious about clearing them out.

I could really use that rat snake about now…..

Reimer’s Ranch Hogge Trails 5-12-2017


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This pano is of  made up of 10 separate pictures

After changing my mind so many times on the last hike here a few days ago, I finally did hike the Hogge Trails. These are the new trails at this park and as yet, do not show up on any of the maps. This can be a bit intimidating when there is no visual of what lies ahead but the Hogge Trails are essentially a figure eight with the choice of the short trail at around 2 miles and the longer trail which is closer to 3 miles. The Park signs tend to err on the short side and both of my pedometers show longer distances than those marked on the sign posts.  In order to cover the entire set of trails, one has to hike the middle trail twice to complete the figure eight. There is also the trail that leads to the Hogge trails and it adds another 2 miles if you park in the Mountain Bike Parking Lot. By the time I arrived back in the parking lot, I had covered almost 8 miles.

The pictures below are of the Hogge Trails.

Along the way, Mother Nature is celebrating the birth of another Spring with a grand display of flowers. Everywhere you looked, it seemed that it was the habitat for some flower or another. This truly is a wonderful time of the year to be out on the trails.

Flowers at Reimers Ranch 5-12-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Coming out of the Mountain Bike Parking Lot, I took the trail that would lead me to Johnny’s Homestead, named for a structure that once stood on this spot before it burned down. All that remains is the stone chimney and the electric power poles with the power lines still in place.  Then followed a short walk along the Multi Purpose Trail until it branches off to the Hogge Trails, the first part of which crosses the creek that may be called Pogue Creek. Not sure about that. Early in the year around Jan-Feb, this creek is flowing at a good pace but it is now completely dried up at least where the trail crosses it. We could sure use some rain…

DSC_5433From the creek, the trail is a steady uphill climb for over a mile which sure gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing. It levels off where the Hogge Trails begin on the other side of the original boundary fence on the recently donated land. The Hogge Trails are fairly level with just the occasional short hill. Like all hills, they always seem to go up. The pictures below are of the long upward climb to get to  the start of the Hogge Trails.

The last time I was here, a grey fox ran across the road in front of me. This time, a large deer broke cover and scampered off as I approached. As is usual in such circumstances, there is never time to get the camera off the belt and into shooting position. Because I like to use hiking poles to aid with balance and to help propel me along the way, I carry my camera on a Cotton Carrier single camera waist belt with a quick release. It works very well for me but I am never going to get it up in time to take those sort of shots.

I had the trails all to myself not passing or even seeing any other hikers or bikers. I really like the feeling of solitude that one gets from hiking these trails. It was not until I arrived back at the Trailhead did I see other people and most of them were mountain bikers. Another very enjoyable walk before the Texas Heat starts in earnest.

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Farewell Brown Cat


Brown CatAs you can tell from the title, Brown Cat, my Siamese cat has left our little clan for that big cat heaven up in the sky. He was very much a fixture in this house for the past 15 plus years maybe more having joined us from a friend who was going through a marriage breakup.

Other cats have come and gone, a couple to the busy road outside of the yard, a couple to coyotes and one to the attentions of Richie, one of my Dachshunds. One cat hung in there and is still with us and again, a rescue from another friend who moved to Ireland. Her name is Ellie and she is at least 17 years old.  She too had to put up with Richie’s attentions and  eventually lost her tail after having gone missing for a week only to make her way back home. Not sure how she will handle being the only cat in the house but she and Brown Cat never really got along. They just tolerated each other but even so, were company.

Brown Cat came running out of the house one day and crashed into one of the potted plants that was standing on the deck. Turns out that he was having a diabetic seizure and the Vet confirmed that he was now a diabetic cat. That started him on a two shot a day treatment of insulin which we faithfully kept up for at least 4 years, maybe longer. I know it felt like a lifetime as I was pretty much chained to his timetable, a shot in the morning around 7:00 am and another in the evening, 12 hours later. It also meant having to keep an eye on his food input and convincing him that he needed to eat. Towards the end, he lost a lot of weight.

This morning after protesting loudly in his extremely loud voice until I fed him…again, he suddenly fell over. I put him back on his feet but he could no longer stand and we both knew that it was time to make that last trip to the Vets. I packed him into his carry case and along with all of his diabetic equipment, we trundled off to the Vets which is only a couple of miles from my house. As I have been using them to take care of my animals for over these past 30 years, I felt comfortable in leaving Brown Cat with them as by now, he was barely breathing as he lay in the box. I made my way back home to dig yet another grave for yet another pet. I went back later to pick up the box that was to be his new forever home and brought him home to rest.

He is buried in an area alongside one of the big ponds that has several dogs and a couple of cats and is piled high with rocks as a sort of cairn. It has some statues of dogs to make everyone aware that the area is off limits for any sort of digging.

On the bright side, I no longer have to give Brown Cat insulin shots twice a day or put him through the discomfort of taking a reading of his blood count. Neither do I have to buy anymore insulin  or diabetic supplies which are not cheap. In his later years, Brown Cat was not the most fastidious of cats when it came to using the litter box and as for covering anything up, forget it which means that I will no longer have to clean up behind him or change out the newspapers that he used in lieu of a litter box even though they were set up side by side. So, there are both good and bad to him passing.

Ellie on the printer

Now, Ellie is the only cat that we have left in our little family. She will also be the last one as I do not intend to get anymore. The two Dachshunds and the fat little Chihuahua are the only dogs left and the big gamble now is who will outlive who and that includes me.

Rest in Peace, Brown Cat.

Mike Peppers Garden


Mike Pepper is a member of the Austin Pond Society and his pond and Garden are scheduled to be on this year’s upcoming Austin Pond and Garden Tour. He is also a member of the Austin Daylily Group and he showed his enthusiasm for these beautiful flowers by opening his garden to the public to see the Daylilies at the height of their blooming cycle. Even though they would still be blooming in a couple of weeks, June 4, he felt that they would be coming to the end of their show and would not be at their best.

I made my way over to his house after spending a couple of hours at Zilker Botanical Gardens to try to take some pictures of the Splash Party scheduled for earlier that morning. However, Mother Nature had different ideas and decided to open the clouds and put on a light display accompanied by rattle of the base drums as a fairly heavy thunderstorm swept over the area. The Splash was moved into the greenhouse and I gave up on taking any quality pictures of that event and headed for Mike’s house.

The rain had stopped when I arrived and there were several people standing around talking and eating breakfast that Mike had provided. Even though it was offered, I skipped the breakfast and got right onto taking pictures.

Mike has a beautiful backyard made all the more attractive by the more than 200 varieties of different colored Daylilies scattered around the entire yard. In between all of this riot of color was the pond of around 600 gallons with a waterfall at the top end . The pond has a natural bog filtration system and is about a year old. It was built by one of the Austin Pond Society Sponsors, Texas Ponds and Water Features. The yard is about a quarter of an acre and the pond and the Daylilies complement each other very nicely.

Here is a video of the Daylilies for your enjoyment.

The Beauty of Daylilies 5-20-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Here are a few more pictures of Mike’s beautiful garden.