Thinking about the World.


G13-4709I sat here thinking about the world and the small, very small part that we play in it. To us, the most important part is the life that we personally are involved in whether it is our own or those immediately around us.

We each originate from a family which can be as small as a Mother and Child or as large as an established family with parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and on and on.

Our upbringing and early years shape the sort of person we will eventually become and whether that is just a Mother’s love or the bonds of a large and close family, we are stuck without a choice. It is true that we can change all of that as we grow older but it takes a very big effort of will and independence that very few of us have.

So we are who we are because of circumstance. Our likes and dislikes, our view of the world, our attitude towards others, towards Nature and towards life in general are all based on those early years.

Can we change? Some might argue that we are perfectly content the way that we are and do not want things any other way. Others might see us as rude, selfish, snobbish, greedy, uncaring and totally unaware of the World in which we live.

Still others may hate us because of our color or our religion or sexual beliefs. Some just seath with anger and others get physically violent in the form of theft, murder and chaos.

What does this do to our society as a whole. We like to think we are civilized and can act that way but how little does it take to turn a gathering into a
crowd and then a crowd into a mob. Just read the newspapers or go online or watch the news on television to discover that for us, violence is just under the surface. Take a look at yourself and think about the times you read something or watched something and became angry. Was that enough to send you over the edge or did common sense prevail? How close were you?

I am not a violent man and yet I own a couple of handguns. Would I use them against my fellow man. To tell the truth, I don’t know. Fear might cause me to pull the trigger but to kill or maim, I have no idea and won’t know until the time comes which I hope is never. I don’t want to make that sort of a choice, ever. On the other hand, who knows what the human mind is capable of under stressful situations.

Where am I going with this, you may ask. To tell the truth, I don’t really know. This is what happens when you allow your mind to wander in any direction especially after having read this or watched that and then letting the active mind get busy. This is where I ended up, after thinking about the World in general and just how messed up we humans have made it. Probably this is a follow up to one of my previous blogs, Todays Thoughts

The mind is a funny old thing with its twists and turns. Now if I could just remember where I put my car keys…Oh wait a minute, that’s my forgetful memory and not my overworked mind.

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My Three Sheds


The workshop

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The greenhouse is where the old bird flight used to be.

If you have been reading my blogs lately you have noticed reference to the sheds that are in my back yard and which I have spent the past couple of weeks cleaning up. After more than 20 years of accumulation and also having some surplus energy, I felt that it was time to perform this onerous task.

Basically, I have three sheds, well two sheds and a greenhouse which is not used to grow things but to store them, hence the redesignation. The yellow shed I built when I first moved in 32 years ago not as a shed but as an aviary as I was an avid parakeet and finch breeder. I brought my stock with me when we moved and for about 6 months, they lived in my garage in a hastily built flight that measured about 12 x 12 x 8 tall. This was home to the parakeets and other exotics while the finches lived in cages. As soon as I had completed the Aviary, which on the one side had outdoor flights but not on the other side yet as this is where I planned on the flight from the garage to go. There were flights on both sides indoors so I moved the birds into their new home.

When I had built the flight in the garage, I built it with a steel framework that I welded together and covered it with 1/2 inch  hardware cloth with the intent of hooking it onto the side of the new aviary for additional flights for the new bird tenants. It was pretty heavy and cumbersome so I rounded up a few neighbors and their bigger kids and between us, we all got around it and hoisted it into the air to carry it out to its new location. Someone broke into a song and before we knew it, everyone was singing as we walked. I think the song was “Heigh Ho” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was very fitting.  What a way to meet the neighbors. The flight fitted perfectly and I completed the work to give the birds a place to stretch their wings.

I kept birds until I got divorced and then somehow, all of the fun had gone out of it. I sold off most of the stock and opened the doors to let the last few fly free before the rats who by now had colonized under the aviary, got to them.

At that point, it was time to rethink the direction my hobbies were going and that is when I built the first pond. The aviary was by now an eyesore with no bird life in it and I decided to turn the main part of the building into a bigger shed and at the same time, build a greenhouse where the old flight used to be. The truth is that I get a bigger kick out of the planning and then the construction than I do out of the finished product hence the use of the greenhouse as a storage shed for all of the plumbing parts and other things that it takes to maintain 5 ponds. To be fair, I did use the greenhouse to over winter my outdoor potted and container plants for a few years and then it kind of deteriorated into a catchall for anything needing a dry place. The potted plants have ended up in my bedroom for the past few winters. The main part of the shed was nicknamed the Yellow Shed for obvious reasons much to the disgust of my choice of colors by my neighbors. It is used to store the ladders and mechanical equipment like the mowers, blowers, weedeaters and things with gas driven engines and other such stuff.

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Inside the Yellow Shed (1)

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Inside the Yellow Shed (2)

The main shed is a 24 feet by 12 feet Morgan Building that I bought at the same time we moved in knowing that I needed a workshop and a place to store the myriad of hand and electric tools that I own. All my life, I have been a tool man spending the first 4 years as an Apprentice Bricklayer back in England. I was very observant and quickly branched out into all of the other trades learning as much as I could about how other people worked and what it took to build things knowing that all of that knowledge would serve me well further down the road. I put it all to good use in Fort Plan in New York State having had a small construction company for a few years when we first arrived and Supervising Pipeline Construction and Construction Management in my later years. Now at 81 years of age, I still love to plan and build and figure out ways to get over problems and I am still very good at it.

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Back to the sheds. Over a period of time, 20 plus years or more, all of the storage sheds filled to the brim and remembering where everything was, let alone ever getting to it, was becoming a real nightmare. A lot of it was really useful stuff to somebody and a lot was junk. Being the packrat that I am, nothing that even looked halfway useful was ever discarded or thrown away, just in case… An example is the 1/2 horsepower pump that is now churning away on the 5000 gallon pond and living a very useful life not to mention saving me several hundreds of dollars at least for a while. It had been buried both figuratively and practically and if I hadn’t decided to have this major shed clean up, well…I also located several other tools that I felt sure I had left out in the garden. I do have a pile of metal that I need to take to the junkyard and a lot of stuff has either been recycled or sent to the trash dump.

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So now, I have 3 comparatively clean storage areas which includes a workshop that I can actually perform work in with everything, well almost everything, in its place. Now all I have to do is remember what is in which place…Now where did I put that wrench?

My 50th Anniversary.


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Queen Mary

Today, March 13th,  is another one of those special days and this one can only happen once in my lifetime. On this day, fifty years ago, I and my family like so many others before us, set foot on American soil for the very first time.

We left England in the grand old ship, the Queen Mary who herself was reaching the end of her active life.  After seven days at sea and  like so many before us, we sailed past the Statue of Liberty into New York. We docked at the famous Pier 22 to be met by my Mother who I hadn’t seen since 1946, twenty one years before.

That marked the beginning of my life here in America which has had its ups and downs as most people’s lives do. I have never been back to England but have wished that I had, many times but it seemed that there was always something that prevented my return. Maybe there is still time…

Life in America has generally been very good to me. I did not do so well on the marital and family side of things having been married and divorced three times and have lived a single life for the past twenty one years. That is one of my regrets but it is water under the bridge as I can’t change the past.

On the other hand, I did well in my working life and am comfortably off and most of all, am still in very good health able to go on long hikes and work around the ponds and in my garden.

Would I do it all again if I could wind back the clock? I’m talking about the decision to emigrate to the USA. The answer is probably yes. I still miss a lot about the English lifestyle although my memories are fifty years old and things have changed considerably. The one thing that has not changed is the constant rain as almost every time that I watch the English Premier League on the television, the crowd has on heavy coats and it is always raining. That I do not miss.

I became a citizen ten years after I landed mostly for the work opportunity but I am still very British at heart. A part of me will always belong in England and there is still time for me to go back to visit one last time. For now. I’m looking forward to the next 50 years.

One thing I do know,  the Texas sun beats the English rain…

Remembering…


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It seems to me as I grow Old
I remember things that I was told
years ago when I was young
things Fathers say to a son.

Most of them are in my mind
thoughts remembered of all kinds
about girls and guns and football games
and growing up and carrying his name.

Hunting tips and fishing lures
what to take the best of cures
for drinking too much and feeling the pain
that happens when you lose the game.

Words of wisdom of the kind
to help get past a difficult time
that being old and knowing so well
things that only time can tell.

Did I listen to my Dad
as he passed along what words he had
to help me as I grew old
knowing that I couldn’t be told.

Probably some words got through
saving me from mistakes anew
but others forgotten at the time
and the consequences were all mine.

When I look back at what he said
and think of the life that I lived instead
with things my way without a thought
of the things that He had taught.

One bad thing with being young
is we knew it all when we had fun
even though we heard the word
to us they sounded so absurd.

Now I am old and time passed by
I think of the words he did cry
and now understand just how wise
for he was not telling me lies.

If I had only been as smart
to listen and heed with my heart
life would have been a much simpler task
for those whose lives touched mine in the past.

My Dad is long gone from this life
away from the trials and the strife
but I remember the things he told
although too late for I’m much too old.

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.

 

 

 

Thoughts on a Cloudy Day…


dsc_4626I sat staring out of the window
but not really seeing
my mind was a thousand miles away
in some far off distant universe
a thousand thoughts going through my mind
but not concentrating on any of them
it was a though my mind was in re-wind
with countless times and places
and people, many people with faces
all staring back at me.

Were they ghosts of my past
come back to haunt me
or fond memories of times long gone
in younger years
or are they memories of pleasant times
when youth was taken for granted
and we would never grow old.

My dog jumped onto my lap
shaking me out of this reverie
bringing me back to the present
and as I look out the window
I can no longer see the myriad of faces
of people from long ago.

Instead I see lush green foliage
sadly in need of trimming
waiting for Mother Nature
to inflict her frozen sword
and I see rain, not heavy but still rain
under the cloudy skies of a December day.

The USA Election


dsc_4181I have been a citizen of the United States since 1976 and was very pleased and honored to be allowed to become one. Although there are no immediate rewards for citizenship other than a sense of pride, when the elections roll around and there always seems to be something that requires my vote whether it be at the local city or state level all the way to the most recent National Election.

I have always tried to vote whenever the opportunity arose because I felt it to be a duty as a new member of this great country. I have never usually ever got involved with any of the people that I voted for. Some were people that I knew of, others were people recommended by friends and many were Democrats that I ticked if I voted along party lines.

This past election was the first that I got actively involved at least in the sense that I sent money to the Hillary Clinton Fund. Quite a bit of money as it turns out. Voting in any election is a bit of a gamble as you hope that you are on the side of the majority. This time around, I was way off on my predictions although I have to admit so were many other people. That doesn’t make the loss any easier but at least I can be proud of my choice.

I am a bit concerned that with  both the House and the Senate and now the future President under Republican control, some of the issues that have been passed over the last 8 years will all get undone and replaced with other more expensive methods. I suppose that I should not worry for myself as there is not too much that can be affected by many of the changes that will be forthcoming, just as long as Social Security is not affected that is, but things like climate change and clean air and programs to save the Wilderness and National Parks are also likely to be targeted. Big business will have much more say under the new regime and even though I hate to say it, all of the promises that Trump has made to the “little” guy and his supporters on his way to his victory will probably end up as just words with very little action unless there is some benefits to big business. His claim of bringing back jobs are really all pie in the sky as so many of them have been lost not to overseas competition but to the advent of computerization that has replaced the need for manpower.

I half jokingly said that I would move back to England if Trump was elected. There are several things that go against that one being the awful weather that they have over there. It was one of the main reasons that I came over here in the first place when I was given the opportunity. Way too much rain and cold for my liking after living here in Texas for these past 40 years. I have grown accustomed to very mild winters and long hot days of summer and wearing shorts all the year long. At almost 81 years of age, I am a bit long in the tooth to be moving and starting over although I am still sorely tempted to find me 10 acres of land in the back of beyond and build a small cabin and spend the rest of my remaining days living my dream. I could build my own trails and walk whenever I wanted too without getting in my car.

As for the election, this will be the last time I ever get so heavily involved. For me, the gamble didn’t pay off and my side lost. What was forecast as a several point win turned out to be a landslide for the other team. True to form, my candidate surrendered gracefully but I know she has to be bitterly disappointed as are her followers.Now, all we can do is wait and see what happens and whether Donald Trump will come through for all of the people that make up these United States.

BTW, this is still the greatest country in the world and although I am still very British at heart, stiff upper lip and all of that, I am also proud to be an American.