The Flowers in My Garden, November 13, 2017


DSC_1354The weather here in my part of Texas has cooled down considerably and has even got to where I need a sweater on some days, it is still not cold enough to kill off the flowers that abound in my garden. I have taken the liberty of putting together a video to music of the pictures that I took on November 18, 2017. By the time you get to read and watch it, it will be the very depths of winter for many of you. I hope that it brightens your day and gives you something to look forward to. Spring will be on the way soon, I promise as it routinely comes every year at least for the next few years anyway. Enjoy.

My Garden in November 13, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 11/13/2017 

 

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The Hardworking Crew.


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See how much clearer it is through the trees

I had a knock on the door around 11:00 am which by itself is strange as I don’t usually get too many visitors. So, I used the peephole and saw a gentleman standing well back from the door and when I opened it, I was prepared to tell him “That I don’t need any” of whatever he was selling. I could see that his truck and trailer were parked on the street and figured that he was looking for work. I didn’t know what sort but it was probably tree trimming or yard work.

He introduced himself and very politely asked if he could give me a price for trimming the trees in the front which oddly enough, I had just been talking to my neighbor about all of the dead wood they contained. I am always a bit wary of strangers stopping by to try to talk me into letting them work around the place for obvious reasons but he offered me a good price and I haggled a bit just because and we finally agreed on a number which I thought was very reasonable. We shook hands on it and before I could get back indoors, he and and a couple of others were unloading their tools. I went back to what I was working on at that particular time and  I could hear the angry buzz of the chainsaws outside.

I got burned once before when a couple of white guys stopped by and asked if they could trim the trees. It didn’t take me very long to figure they didn’t have a clue and had to run them off which they didn’t take too well. So, I kept an eye on this group through the windows and it was very obvious they they knew exactly what needed to be done and they were going after it. I have about forty live oak trees in the front and about the same number in the back most of which are live oaks and all of them had a lot of dead wood in them. Two of these guys, all of whom were Hispanic were climbing the trees with a lot of agility with their chainsaws hanging from their waist belts. They used safety harness which they attached to the tree as they scrambled about. While they were doing the cutting, the third guy was loading the very large trailer which also included him jumping up onto the stack and using his chainsaw to consolidate and pack the load. I can’t believe how much stuff they packed onto that trailer.

I called to the bossman, whose name was Derek and took him to the backyard where the ponds are and we walked the garden with me pointing out some of the obvious deadwood and him telling me about what he perceived to be needing work.  He told me that a couple of the trees were Hackberries and needed to come down. We haggled for a bit and he came up with a satisfactory price which as I expected, was a little higher than the front because of the difficulty of working around the ponds and because the trees were much  bigger in diameter and took more time to cut down.

By now, it was getting dark and they stored their tools in my garage and said they would be back the next day. I paid Derek for the day’s work. When I inquired as to what time to expect them tomorrow, he said around 9:00 am or thereabouts.

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Day 2.
Well, 9:00 am turned into 11:00 am before they arrived back to work. This time there was a fourth man with them as they had to carry the material from the back out through the narrow paths and double gate to get to their trailer. They immediately picked up and carried on where they left off the day before. After about an hour or so working in the front, they went to the backyard and started work there.

I sat in front of my computer which also overlooks the entire backyard and it was very interesting to watch them work. They had evolved methods of doing things in order to make the work easier and to go along more smoothly. They worked on the Hackberry trees by cutting off the lower branches leaving enough for them to use as steps in order to climb higher up the tree cutting off more branches as they went. On the dead limbs that overhung the ponds, they attached a rope to them that had been slung over a higher branch and then one held the rope while the other cut the branch. They had to carry every bit of the material on their backs or in a wheelbarrow in order to get it to the trailer which by itself was a difficult task.  Even loading the trailer was an art as they had to keep using their chainsaws to be able to pack the material onto the trailer. They never stopped working. Very impressive.

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What is strange about all of this is the fact that I had been talking to my neighbor about the need to get this work done.  I had also been planning that yesterday, I would take a look at my own chainsaw to cut down one of the trees that was leaning over the workshop and had damaged the roof. For one thing, I can’t remember the last time I started my chainsaw and if it is anything like my lawnmowers,  it probably wouldn’t  start anyway. I have a riding mower that gets used twice a year and as I manage to forget to start it up through the winter, the seals dry out and I have to get it repaired every Spring, stupid thing or maybe it’s me that’s stupid for being so darn forgetful.  Some of the deadwood overhangs the ponds and I really didn’t want it to fall into the water for fear of it damaging the pond liners which would be really difficult to repair. They even took down the stained glass window for me as I was afraid that it was going to blow down in the last storm that we had saving me another yet job. I’m not so good at climbing ladders as I once was. Old age is really a bummer.

Postscript.
As can be expected, these men were all of Mexican descent and I have no idea if they are here illegally or not and I was not about to ask. I find it so difficult that the current administration wants to ban these people. They are extremely hard working and are doing a job that very few Americans want to do so they are hardly taking work away from any others who usually find this sort of heavy labor work too hard and too demeaning.

Written 12/14/2017

Things Have Changed…


Jeff Price-24

I noticed just the other day
that things are different in how I play
in the way I used to spend my life
not counting when I had a wife
for they tend to tell a man
of the things that they have planned
for him to do day to day
even though he would rather play
and do the things that he would like
but he does her things to avoid a strife
no what I mean is that I have changed
where I used to do the same
old things from day to day
like go outside and work in the yard
rake the leaves and toil very hard
and be tired at the end of the day
but feeling good in a tired sort of way
and now I like to sit and write
and spend my days inside despite
that things outside are not the same
with Richie gone myself I blame
and working outside sharing the space
even though he has run his race
I miss that little doggie friend
and always will until the end
and so I spend more time inside
until the memories do decline
and then outside I will go
to do the work I used to do.

Written 10/20/2017

 

Working on the Shed…


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The rain has gone and the frost has gone
soon I will be able to carry on
with my project outside fixing the shed
replacing the trim board around the bed
where the joists and the flooring are attached
covered by this board and carefully packed
to hold the flooring together and sound
for thirty more years as it comes around.

 

I actually have the boards in place
and removed the siding to see the space
where the insulation was supposed to be
alas the rats have made history
of the original stuff that I installed
which I need to replace with another roll
this is the part of the job that I dislike
it makes me itch and break out in hives
so long pants and long sleeves and wear a mask
with gloves on my hands to lessen the task
and work as quickly as I can
the fastest insulator in the land.

 

with the stuff installed and the siding in place
another project complete in my space
I still have other things to do
like clearing the frozen vegetation too
and to fix the fence where it leans with age
next on the list on my written page
I like to do these sort of things
a lifetime of training flying by on wings
of time as it marches towards the end
let’s fix the fence while I still can.

Written 12/9/2017

Snow, Who Needs It…



We have just had two days of rain
nothing unusual in that just the same
then all of a sudden it started to snow
that is unusual you have to know
we don’t get enough rain in fact hardly at all
and snow is unheard of as it’s just not that cool
but we certainly got snow following the rain
enough to cover the trees and the grassy terrain
the temperature dropped and caught me off guard
as I quickly covered the pipes in my yard
to stop them from freezing and making a mess
requiring more time to repair them no less
I didn’t have time to bring in the plants
and they look very droopy as they slant
downwards bending hard with the frost
I hope that they are not all lost
and maybe recover with returning Spring
and once more share the beauty that they bring
I have to say that I dislike the snow
and the frost that accompanies this sort of show
If I never see a snowflake again
I would be a very happy old man.

Written 12/8/2017

Audiobooks and writing.


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For those of you that follow my blogs, you know that I am a big fan of Audiobooks reserved strictly for listening whilst out driving in the car. I do not listen at home with the single exception of when I am in the hot tub relaxing after a long hike and then sometimes, I will bring out the portable speaker as I soak and unwind.

Even though I write a blog and to date have posted over 700 articles, I do not consider myself a writer in the strict sense of the word. No, I am a reporter that can write an interesting (I hope) narrative of something that has occurred that usually, I have been involved in. Whether it be a hike or an Austin Pond Society Meeting or a poem, they are all things that I have been a part of or lucky enough to witness. Sometimes, I will get on my high horse and start ranting about something that I find disturbing that is happening in the rest of the World outside of my little part of it. I like to think I have an interesting style, enough for my readers to enjoy but as we are all different, I can only hope.

Which brings me to the reason for this blog. I have tried several times to write a novel and in a couple of cases have even written over 500 or more pages on a story but have never been very happy with the end result and have never pursued it further. As I listen to a story on Audiobooks, a part of my mind is trying to figure out where the story is going and what might be the next step the hero or heroine will take. Sometimes, I get it right but most of the time, my mind is just not devious enough to figure things out. Some of the twists and turns I would never have expected and when they go in a particular direction, my mind is in awe of the writer’s ingenuity. I guess that is what makes some writers truly great and some stories super interesting when nothing is as it seems.

What will I write about when I can no longer hike and have given up my interest in ponds as a hobby? Does that mean that I will also give up writing (reporting) as I will no longer have these things to write (report) on or will my mind grow more devious as I age? I suppose that in all probability, my mind will also deteriorate as I get older along with all of the other physical aspects of living. Maybe I will lose the ability to put one word after another to make an interesting story. This will pretty much solve the dilemma of writing or reporting if I will not be able to do either. I can probably fall back to writing bad poetry as a few disjointed and mangled or missing words here and there will not be noticed.

Who knows what the future may hold. With limited time left on this earth all I can hope for that other than getting more and more forgetful, the rest of the brain still knows how to act and will continue to function until I no longer care. At that point, goodbye world.

AND I can listen to Audiobooks on my way out….

Written 9/28/2017

More Fish Rescues of the Easy Kind.


This past week, I received calls from two different people and an email from a third person looking for help with their ponds. As I am the website contact person for the Austin Pond Society, I get the calls first and then make the decisions regarding the outcome of the various and different requests after I have followed through and obtained the details.

Usually, it is a simple decision regarding the type of action and if it is something that the Pond Society can handle. Then I decide if it is too big for me in which case I pass it along to Jeannie, our President who also handles all of the larger fish rescues.

What is a fish rescue, you ask? Simply put, it usually is a cry for help from the public to assist them find a new home for the fish they have in their garden pond which for any number of reasons, they are closing down. In many cases, the Husband has died and the pond is too much work for the remaining spouse or in the case of one of the calls I received, the owners had sold the house and the new owners wanted to keep the pond but did not want the fish. In nearly every case, the owners are closing down the pond.

With the three requests I received, I quickly determined that the first was too big for me and was one that required both help with the rescue and then the ability to house 10-20 medium sized Koi until permanent homes could be found for them. As I am not setup to house any fish other than my own, I passed this one along to Jeannie so that she and her merry band of Koi Rescue Enthusiasts could make the arrangements to handle. I should mention that we try to find good homes for any fish we rescue by offering them among our members first as they always get first dibs. Then we turn for help among the general public and finally, we donate them to Mayfield Park here in Austin. The Park has 5 ponds that are big enough to house a substantial number of Koi and Goldfish and this year, both Jeannie and I have placed a large number of Koi, Goldfish and Carp into these ponds. The Carp were in error and were mistaken for large black Goldfish but they seem very happy in their new environment.

The second and third calls were both in the range that I could handle and so I called the owners and set up dates to visit with them and make the rescues. The first house was located not too far from me in an estate where all of the homes were so big, my own house would probably fit in them at least twice and probably more. This house had already been sold and the ex-owners were just completing the final clean out and catching up on the odds and ends. When I got there, I could see the pond behind the fence with the gate open and “Jim”, the ex-owner was already standing in the pond with his net, splashing around in an attempt to catch the fish. I said hello and introduced myself. We chatted for a bit as he tried to catch the couple of fish left in the pond. I suggested that I would hook up my pump to lower the water level giving him a much better opportunity in his task.

The deal was that I was to take an 8 inch Koi and the two largest goldfish and he would keep the much smaller remaining goldfish for his new home. He proudly showed off the Koi that he had managed to catch which was in a 5 gallon bucket standing by the pond. As if on cue as we watched, the Koi jumped out of the bucket and back into the pond. After we both recovered from the fit of laughter that this caused, I hooked up my pump to help him by lowering the water level so that he could catch the Koi for a second time. In no time at all, he had caught all of the fish. I bid him farewell and then made my way back home where I put the Koi and Goldfish in different ponds at my house.

The next rescue, a couple of days later was also another easy one. The owner, a very friendly lady by the name of Debbie met me and showed me the pond which was a circular one of about six feet in diameter and only a couple of feet deep. It was real close to the driveway making it easy to load out the trailer. I set up my pump which quickly lowered the water and I pulled out seven water lilies in pots as it was pumping. It was very easy to catch the twelve small Koi and Goldfish and transfer them to my container ready for transport. Between us, we bagged up the lilies and reloaded my trailer and in thirty minutes, I was back on the road again.

This time, I headed to Mayfield Park where I planned to put the rescued fish. This went by without any problems despite notices spread around the ground warning the public, “To not disturb the Peacocks and Peahens as they incubate their eggs or they might attack you”. I repacked my trailer and made my way back home. The water lilies made it back to my house and into my containers that house my surplus plants which are free to anyone needing pond plants.

Interestingly enough, this last rescue was one street down from where I used to live out in the Pedernales area thirty two years ago. On my way back, I pulled into the street that was my old home and drove to the end just for old times sake. It brought back very happy memories of my time spent living out there on my five acres and rekindled in me, the old longing to turn back the clock. Of course that is not possible but a man can dream, can’t he? There was a Realtor’s Sign for the property next to the acreage I used to own so I took down the number and gave them a call. Turns out to be a 15 acre lot with an unfinished house and the asking price was $425,000. When I sold my 5 acres thirty two years ago with a house, a large horse barn and paddock, aviaries and sheds and fully fenced, it went for $120,000. Go figure…