A Walk at Pedernales Falls 12-17-2016


dsc_4740My walks now are governed by the temperature/sun forecast although yesterday was a bit of an exception for this time of the year. The forecast was for temperatures to be in the middle 70’s with a sunny day with a cold front moving in directly behind it very late in the evening.

Those sort of days are not to be turned down and I made plans to drive to Pedernales Falls and take a short and easy walk. First I called my friend who unfortunately had a prior engagement so I made plans to walk on my own. Nothing unusual about that as most of my walks are alone.

Ever since spotting the Bald Eagle a while back and rescuing a little dog on another occasion, every time that I drive to Pedernales Falls I am very wary of what is going on around me just in case I might get another glance at that eagle. No such luck this time but here’s hoping.

I arrived at Pedernales and this time, there were only a couple of cars in front of me. Not like the last time when there were at least 30 of them. I paid my $3.00 and told them I was taking a short walk. I planned to park in the Horse Corral and then take a walk to the dsc_4733Duck Pond and from there to head to the Fenceline trail, back onto the South Loop and then back to the starting point. I passed one other couple who were on their way back as I walked around the pond. There was very little in the way of wildlife on the pond or anywhere else with the exception of what appeared to be a Greater Yellowlegs that was hunting in the low water, which incidentally has created two separate ponds. As I continued walking around the ponds, a guy on a trail bike caught up with me and inquired if I was lost. I told him my plans to continue to the Fenceline trail which over its full length is almost 4 miles although I was only going to walk a part of that. He took off following the North Trail.

The walk was uneventful as I strode the Fenceline trail which is very easy walking. I turned off onto a very wide trail that was not signposted but I was hoping that it would bring me back to the South Trail which eventually it did. From there, it was a straight shot back to the Horse Corral where I met two ladies who were grooming their horses having completed their ride and they let me take their picture.dsc_4752lp1

I was parked on the opposite side of the Corral from them so I wandered over to my car and changed out of my wet clothes as the temperature had been hot enough for me to sweat. Altogether I covered 4 miles of very easy walking and was extremely glad that I made the effort to get out. The drive home was uneventful as I listened to a Stephen King story on Audiophone. No Bald Eagles and no little lost dogs.

Enjoy the video.

Pedernales Falls Duckpond Walk 12-17-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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Todays Thoughts


dsc_4746I spent some time just looking out of the window
thinking mostly about the fact that I spent all day
in front of my computer fussing with a blog page
on the other website I maintain
for the Austin Pond Society.

I could not get the page to do what I wanted it to do
and I was getting frustrated
luckily, I am blessed with infinite patience
when it comes to working on a computer
so much different than when it comes to people
who can irritate me no end.

Not all people of course but just a few
those that support Trump for instance
or those whose ideas are really poor
and yet they will not listen
because they know it all and cannot be told.

I patted my dog on the head and talked to him
it was as though he knew that things were not going well
and he looked at me with his big brown eyes
as though to say, don’t worry
I am here for you.

One of the other dogs came over looking for attention
he licked my hand to tell me that everything is OK
I made a fuss of both of them and felt much better
all of my frustrations just disappearing
with their calming effect.

I had plans to do some work outside
but the computer problem took all of my time
and it was late before I had it solved
but I walked around the yard looking at the ponds
and figured that I could do the yard work tomorrow.

That is the beauty of being retired
there is no urgency to perform any task
as long as the task does not have a deadline
I can do it today or tomorrow
either day is just fine.

Most deadlines are self imposed
so even they can become flexible
depending on the time of day
and the urgency of the task
and the mood I am in.

Now that I have solved the computer problem
at least for this time around
I can turn my attention to the simpler things in my life
Like feeding the dogs and the cats
and then feeding myself.

Sometimes the most mundane of actions give the most pleasure.

 

 

 

An Addition to the Family


Today was a big day in the Allcorn Residence as we added a new member to our little tribe. The house has been very quiet with both Abigail and then BeBe passing on. I’m so used to seeing a dog anywhere I look and the two remaining ones tend to pretty much do their own thing.

Richie, the male, tends to spend most of his time outside either trucking around to see what trouble he can get into or sleeping on the outdoor patio couch. Actually, he also keeps me active for if he is away for any length of time, I have to go out and check that he is not digging a hole to get under the fence. So far, he hasn’t but that doesn’t stop me from worrying. Ginnie spends most of her time under the covers on my bed. In between, she will go out and bark at the make belief rats under the deck. Actually, they are not make belief as they do come out in the evening to eat the bird seed that has fallen. Maybe, Pete will get her moving a bit more.

So I figured that maybe, the introduction of Pete, a three year old rescue Chihuahua, might add a little spice to the other two’s lives and give them an additional interest and another buddy to play with. I belong to a Neighborhood Newsletter and Pete’s picture appeared looking for a new home. His owner is going into a nursing home and she could no longer take care of him. She has already fostered him out to a couple of her friends and they were the ones looking for a forever home for the little dog.

I contacted them and we arranged to meet at PetsMart so that I could meet Pete and then bring him home for a sleepover just to see how well he gets along with the other two and also the two cats that I have.

So far, after the initial growling  and smelling of each other’s butts and the two males trying to outdo each other marking the territory, things are beginning to settle down. Pete is the jumpy one ready to show his teeth at either of the other two who seem ready to accept him into the pack. I guess two dogs is a pack or at least the beginning of one.

I hope things work out as he is a nice little dog. I do have a take back arrangement just in case he doesn’t fit in but we will have to wait and see.

More to come on this story.

The Uncooperative Weather


Rainy Day fog

Rainy and Foggy Day

I wonder why it is that my mood and my energy level are both affected by the weather. When I wake up and the sun is shining, I am fired up and ready to do something, anything and preferably, outdoors.

When it is a dull, miserable, rainy and cloudy day like it is this morning, I am sorely tempted just to stay in bed with the covers over my head snuggled up next to my two Dachshunds who just love it if I have one of those lazy days. For them, it’s a way to spend quality time with me albeit that they will spend it sleeping and will only move when they get hungry. Then I know that it is time to get up and get the day moving regardless of how gloomy the day may be.

I am such an outdoorsy person that I find that I am a little lost with myself if I can’t get out and do something either in the garden or around the ponds or take a hike at one of the local parks. Sure, I can spend time in front of the computer and write in my blog or mess around with some of the many pictures that I have taken but this is secondary to my first love, the great outdoors. If I could spend my time over again, I would become a Biologist or Naturalist or even work at the State or County Parks as a Park Ranger. Instead, I did the next best thing and spent many years in the Construction and Pipeline Industry both of which gave me my share of spending time outdoors both living and working.

Alas, as I can’t live my life over again, as much as I would like to as long as I could make a few changes, I settle for gardening, tending my ponds and hiking the local parks. Staying indoors because the weather’s not cooperating only frustrates me.

Come on sun, show yourself. Cheer me up….please.

DSC_1614

A Beautiful Sunny Day.

Meanderings of an old man


Ginny the new girlSitting here and feeling blue
not sure what I want to do
outside it’s cold, too cold for me
to work outside, or drive a nail
or take a walk on a nice long trail
even the two remaining dogs
are stretched out on the bed like logs
as they sleep the sleep only dogs can do
with one eye open just in case
I should make a move to leave this place
and step outside where it is cold
which they will brave just for a while
until they lose interest and it gets old
to be outside, out in the cold.
I got up early on this morn
unable to sleep as I usually do
haunted by the the memories of
the death of yet another dog
the second in these last six months
leaving me with two to love
and lavish attention upon them both
as they help my grief to transcend
at losing  two of my furry friends.
we will survive, we always do
we will move on and it won’t be long
before just memories those dogs will beDSC_5468-2as we go about our daily tasks
living the life we have always led
gardening and hiking and taking walks
this time with the dogs by my side
as two I can handle and it will be grand
taking walks together, paw in hand.

 

And then there were two…


Mini,Be-Be,Manley and Fat Cat

Mini, Be-Be,Manley and Fat Cat on the couch…(All deceased).

Life has this horrible habit of sneaking up on you.  Just when you think everything’s going just fine, you got through Christmas, you did some real work on and around the house and now you’re getting all set for the start of the New Year and looking forward to another birthday.

And then, one of the dogs starts moping around and won’t eat anything. You know it has to be serious for this dog to turn down any form of food as she is an overweight, fat little Dachshund that delights in eating anything that the other dogs leave or that I happen to put on the floor in front of her.

BeBe is seventeen and a half years old of which I have had her probably at least fifteen of those years. I got her from a friend whose marriage was breaking up and she needed a home for her two Dachshunds and I ended up with one of them. We have between BeBe and myself, buried six of her buddies in the intervening years and now, the only ones left from the eight that were living at the same time are Richie and Ginny, both considerably younger and both rescue Dachshunds. We have gone from an eight dog family to a two.

100_1006

Be-Be on the left, Richie in the middle and their big friend, Danny (Deceased)

BeBe started to have breathing difficulties a couple of days ago and then stopped eating. I knew after having buried so many dogs over the years that her time was near and that I needed to make that short trip to the vets, once again. So, after making a big fuss of her and crying tears of sorrow for what I knew would be the last trip to the vets for this little girl, I called ahead and an hour later, put her in the car and kept her on my lap for the short drive.

When it was my turn to be seen, I stood up ready to go into the examination room, suddenly she gave a little moan, bent back her head and died in my arms. Dr Donop, forever the most sympathetic of doctors, examined her and just to be sure, gave her a sonogram and then pronounced her dead. The entire staff were very sympathetic as they boxed her up for me and Dr Donop carried her to my car.

When I arrived back home, the two remaining dogs both knew that something had happened to BeBe and both acted differently than they normally do. It was as though they were trying to pass along their own doggy sympathies for the loss of our mutual friend and housemate. They both paid special attention to me and both stayed close.

DSC_5468-2

Richie-the man of the house.

Richie, the male, helped me to dig a hole beside Abigail, Manley and Minnie who are all buried right next to the big pond. They each have a little doggie garden statue of their breed with their collars around them and the whole area is stacked with rocks just like a cairn. Now, I need to get another Dachshund statue for BeBe.

I would like to say that life goes on which of course it will. But it will be just a little emptier than before and there will be one less little mouth to feed and to look after. Losing a dog at any time is really tough but to lose two dogs in less than six months is heartbreaking.

Ginny the new girl

Ginny-a sweet little girl

There is sometimes a plus side to losing a pet. Things like not having to worry about a more aggressive dog like Abigail stealing the others food or chews or discovering that the “accidents” in the house are not so frequent. In the case of BeBe, she had developed a bladder control problem which I discovered when I made the bed the other day to find that the mattress was ruined and now I need a new one. It would not have been worth buying one until after BeBe had passed on but I had no idea nor did I wish for it to be so soon. This also means that the two remaining dogs can now go walking as a manageable group. On a more practical note with her gone, and with me eighty years old, it is one less worry for me if I should happen to die before the other dogs do and just a little easier to make “arrangements” for the future.

Abigail looking for attention

Abigail (Deceased 2015)

I will miss BeBe. We have been together for many years and seen other dogs come and go. It was not like she was super amusing like Richie or soft and cuddly like Ginny but she had her own attributes and a place in my heart.

Sleep well Beatrice. We will miss you.

BeBe looking Sleepy

BeBe – a sleepy little girl (Deceased 2015)

 

Skunk Perfume…


I was sitting in front of the computer working on a blog and it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen one of my little dogs, Richie, the only male of the trio, for a couple of hours. Now it is not unusual for him to find something of interest out in the garden but he usually checks in from time to time just in case there is a handout of some sort that he doesn’t want to miss.

I put on a jacket as it was 45 degrees outside after the first of the cooler weather had blown in. My indoor/outdoor thermometer showed that it had dropped down to 35 degrees overnight, not too far off freezing. Seems a little early for frosts in Austin, Texas as I usually associate late December for that to happen.

Anyway, I went looking for the dog and did at least 3 tours of the yard. My real concern is that he will take it into his little doggy head to dig out under the fence and get on the road or lost in the woods that back up to my property. I have an electric doggy wire surrounding the property which I know he has run into a couple of times as he is always very wary when he gets close to it. My problem is, that because he is a Dachshund, he is low to the ground and therefore the wire also has to  be low. If the wire happens to come into contact with grass or plants, it grounds out and is not effective. Luckily, Richie is working on the memory of having hit it a couple of times so he doesn’t know if it is working or not and would rather not find out.

There were no signs of him having dug his way out and so I checked all of his usual hang outs where he “thinks or maybe hopes” the rats and mice will be like under the workshop, under the deck or under the hot tub. I could not find him and no amount of calling brought him out in the open. When he is sniffing out something, he tends to have selective hearing.

Finally, I checked under the shed where I keep the mowers and power equipment to see if by chance, he might be there. When Rich is on to something or thinks he is onto something, he growls and whines making considerable noise and that is what I heard as I approached this particular shed. Only if he has cornered a ‘Coon or Possum or is chasing a squirrel, things that move and he can run after, does he usually bark. Sometimes very loud as goes after the unfortunate animal although usually, ‘Coons are more than a match for him and he sometimes comes off the worst.

Skunk5I stood by the shed and called for him to come out as I had no idea what he had cornered and I was not about to lay down on my belly to get eye level with whatever it was. After a couple of minutes, he came dashing out and immediately headed for the grass and plants to roll and wipe his head and eyes on them. I figured that it was a skunk as I could smell the “sweet” odor that skunks use for defense and as I looked down by my feet, this big ole skunk followed Richie out from under the shed. I don’t know who was more surprised, me or the Skunk but both of us took off in opposite directions or at least, I did. Maybe the Skunk was just turning around to unload on me.  Richie could have cared less now that the Skunk was out in the open as he was too interested in getting the spray out of his eyes and had his fill of the Skunk. Me. I just kept moving in the opposite direction as fast as I could move and it was a race between me and Richie to see who could get out of range first.

We got up on the deck and I immediately went inside and closed the doggie door as I didn’t want Rich in the house until I could clean him up. I got on the computer and googled Skunk and pretty quick, came up with a recipe to clean him up, (By Margaret H. Bonham – Part of the Dog Grooming For Dummies Cheat Sheet).
Combine 1/2 quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/8 cup of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid dish washing soap in an open container. Draw a tepid bath and put your dog in it. Apply the solution liberally throughout your dog’s coat and suds him up well (to the skin). Avoid getting any solution in his eyes…..

The first problem was finding the necessary ingredients and although I know that I have Hydrogen Peroxide around somewhere, of course I could not find it so I had to jump in the car and drive to the nearest HEB to make my purchases. Luckily, with Rich shut outside, I did not have to put the cats in their room for their own safety. I spent a grand total of $1.16 cents on Peroxide and Baking Soda and it probably cost me more for gas to drive the 4 miles there and back than I spent in the store.

When I got back, Richie was sitting in the sun and looking really dejected and feeling sorry for himself. He wagged his tail when he saw me. He did not know what I had in store for him as he hates baths. Dachshunds and water do not go well together. I had pre-prepared the mix above and with towels and shampoo at the ready was all set to grab him and commence the battle. Just as I was about to run the bath, I noticed that the screw stopper was not in the bath drain and remembered taking it out when I did the bath re-model. I had an idea where it might be and after searching for 15 minutes or so, managed to locate it.

Now we were all set. I picked up Richie and contemplated on taking off his collar but decided that I might need it to hold him in the bath, so left it on. Carefully, lowering him in the water, which only came up to his belly, I wetted him down and applied the pre-mixed solution onto every part of him and began to rub it in. He actually was very good and did not struggle after he recognized we meant business and his fate was already sealed.

Ten minutes later after a succession of treatment, showers, doggie shampoo and more showers, we were all through and he was standing on the toilet cover as I dried him off. Luckily, Dachshunds have a smooth coat and dry very quickly and as most dogs do, when I put him on the floor, ran around in crazy circles shaking from time to time as if to shake off the very memory of the terrible injustice that he had just been through.

The next thing was to try to get the smell out of the house which meant lighting scented candles all over the place. I still noticed the smell and realized that my clothes and me were the culprits. Next stop was the laundry room where I stripped off to nothing and quickly started a load of laundry. Grabbing my shoes, I headed for the shower and for the second time in a few hours was standing under the water, shampooing my head (I have barely enough hair to wash) and soaping down my body. With a completely clean set of clothes, we were all set.

I gave Richie (and the other two) a treat for being so good and headed to the computer to write the story. I have to say that cleaning up after a skunk and Richie encounter was not what I had planned for today or come to that, any other day either.

The one thing that I still haven’t figured out about the whole incident is why Richie didn’t bark when he was going after the skunk. I can usually tell when he is facing a live animal because his barking is very excited and non-stop, probably part of his attack as he tries to scare whatever he is after. He has had run ins with ‘Coons and Possums on an ongoing basis. He even had a go at a couple of snakes, both around 6 feet long but of the harmless variety until I called him off to let the snakes glide away and if a Buzzard happens to fly circles overhead, he chases up and down the garden at top speed barking wildly. He loves to chase Squirrels even when he knows he can’t catch them. He has managed to catch 3 of them but they came down to get water and were not quick enough to get back into the trees. As far as I can tell, this is the first Skunk that he has tried to do battle with. Hopefully, it is his last if he has learned anything from today’s encounter.

Richie just went back out about 15 minutes ago and I went out to find him or rather to see where he had gone. I noticed that he steered well clear of the shed. I need to block up the hole that they use but not until tomorrow. I want to give anything that may still be under there, time to get out overnight. I figured that Richie is smart enough not to want to tangle with that skunk again especially for getting sprayed and the indignities of losing out to a Skunk. Or maybe it was the thought of having to take another bath that is keeping him away…