The Countryside


DSC_6181I went out for a drive today
looking out along the way
and wondered as I sometimes do
just how wonderful the view
with everything green and the sun shining bright
it truly is a wondrous sight
how beautiful the country can be
with Mother Nature it’s easy to see
as she wields her brush and paints the scene
showing all of her colors and in between
the birds sing loud with a wonderful sound
so happy to live with green all around
and the wind is blowing in the trees
as they sway to keep rhythm with the breeze.

I marvelled at this wonderful site
as mile after mile to my delight
everywhere I looked it was the same
as Mother Nature plays her games
year after year she produces this show
with everything having this shiny glow
of new growth making everything green
the most beautiful colors I have ever seen
it will stay this way until the Fall
and the colors will change at first just small
and then the leaves once proud and strong
will tumble to the ground beyond
to replenish the earth and make it strong
and to rest through the winter before the Spring song.

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Austin Pond Society Post Pond Tour Meeting June 19, 2017


DSC_0099-PanoThe Austin Pond Society held its June meeting on the 19th of the month at Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. This meeting was the Post Pond Tour with many of the owners and volunteers in attendance as it was really all about them.

Altogether, there were more than 80 people, the biggest crowd by far that we have had together in one place that I can remember. The guests and members were treated to Pizza and salad from one of our sponsors, Jet’s Pizza with desserts provided by the membership and by the big cake that Jeannie bought from Costco.

DSC_0089

Whilst everyone was enjoying the food, Glen, our Historian and Photographer showed a slideshow of all of the ponds that were on the tour. Following the meal and slideshow, Ted Paone, Pond Tour Chairman, spoke about the work involved in putting on a Tour such as this. He thanked the owners for opening up their yards and gardens for us all to see the wondrous things they have created. He followed up by thanking the many volunteers without whom, a tour such as this would not be possible. He spoke about the fact that this year’s Beneficiary would be the Mayfield Park Ponds. At this point, he introduced Ruben who is the sole person in charge of maintaining both the ponds and the grounds at the Park. For those of you who have not yet visited the park which is located at the very end of 34th Street near Mount Bonnell you should make the effort to do so. There are several miles of hiking trails plus the 5 large and 2 small ponds which the Austin Pond Society has done so much work by cleaning and replanting the lilies, and water plants and have also added a couple of lotus plants. The most recent of our fish rescues have also been donated into the ponds including Koi, Goldfish and Carp.

Following Ted’s moment in the sun, Jack Marshall, APS Treasurer, who had played a major role filling in for Ted on the final days leading up to the Tour, introduced the owners one by one and gave them the mic so that they could offer their thoughts and points of interest about the tour that might be useful in the future.

Jeannie took over the mic after the owners had all finished speaking and we went into the business section of the meeting. There was not too much to discuss so we quickly moved into the door prizes to close out the evening. All in all, a very successful meeting.

Below are the 3 videos of the entire evening. The sound quality is not very good as I was using my Nikon d7200 DSLR camera having recently sold my video camera for a new Nikon d7500 to use as my primary camera. I must seriously look at being able to blot out the background noise in the recordings as I get the hang of using a DSLR for videos.

The first video is of Ted and Jack’s discussion of the tour.

Intro by Ted and Jack from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The second video is of the Pond Owners talking about things that happened to them on the tour.

Owners from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The third is of the short business section of the meeting.

Business June 19, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Can’t wait for next year to roll around and we get to do it all over again…

Austin Pond Society Annual Tour – Night Pond, Saturday June 3, 2017


The Austin Pond Society held its 23rd Annual Pond Tour on June 3-4, 2017. One of the highlights was the Night Pond held at Jorge and David’s. This pond is absolutely amazing with so much care going into the display.

Below is a slideshow video of the Night Pond showing the workmanship and detail that has gone into the bigger pieces such as the buildings.

Austin Pond Society – Annual Tour Night Pond – 6-3-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Finally, a close up look at all of the figures and objects that are included in this truly amazing display. Jorge is a true artist with David’s support.

Austin Pond Society Night Tour Showing details, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Austin Pond Society Annual Pond Tour – South, 2017


The Austin Pond Society held its 23rd Annual Pond Tour on June 3-4, 2017. The South Tour was held on Sunday, June 4, 2017 with a total of 9 ponds. All were exceptional and all offered something just a little different,

Below is a video of the South Ponds.

Austin Pond Society South Tour 5-5-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Austin Pond Society Annual Pond Tour – North Part 1, Part 2 and Plants and Fish, 2017


The Austin Pond Society held its 23rd Annual Pond Tour on June 3-4, 2017. The North Tour was held on Saturday, June 3, 2017 with a total of 11 ponds. All were exceptional and all offered something just a little different,

There were too many pictures for one video so it is split into Part 1 and Part 2.

Austin Pond Society Annual Tour North-Part 1 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Austin Pond Society Annual Pond Tour North – Part 2 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

I also made a separate video of the Plants, Flowers and Fish for the North Tour.

Austin Pond Society North Tour 2017 (Flowers and Fish) 6-4-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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…..

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.