Blessed Rain


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Today we are having rain
something about which we do not complain
as I have said many times before
in Texas it rains and we let out a roar
as a sign of our pleasure for so simple a task
more rain is something we always ask
to combat the heat with the temperatures high
looking for clouds to darken the sky
and hoping that rain will fall on the ground
and so doing will cool the temperatures down.

I took a walk around the yard
in between the showers so hard
to make sure that things were OK
and the ponds could handle the rain this day
I barely had time to make one loop around
before it started to rain on the ground
and I dashed to get in the house and the dry
as the rain continued to fall from the sky
and sat by the window to watch it fall
as the rain is at Natures beck and call.

Written 7/9/2018

Snakes in the House?


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I woke up late this morning even for me. I have gotten into the habit of watching the TV until around midnight and then going to bed and unless I have an early morning appointment which, by the way, I try never to have, I don’t get up until 9:00 am. Nice to be retired and in charge of my own time.

Usually, the dogs will get me up to let them out but this morning, even they decided to sleep in probably because it was raining hard. Consequently, it was later than usual and around 10:00 am when I ambled off into the kitchen to open the sliding door to let them out. This is always my first job in the mornings and I am usually in my birthday suit. The dogs have seen me naked a lot of times so it no longer shocks them to see me walking around like that. Not that I make a habit of it but when needs must…

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Mikey, as is the usual rule of things, accompanied me into the living room and stopped by the table staring at something on the floor. When I got closer, I could see that it was a large snake close to four feet long. First glance told me that it was probably a Rat Snake based on the color and the fact that the head shape was all wrong for it to be one of the poisonous variety. Other than the first surprise of seeing the snake, I acted remarkably calm and even had time to get my camera which admittedly was only a couple of steps away and took a few pictures. All of this time, Mikey was eying the snake just as puzzled as I was to see it indoors but he didn’t try to attack it as both Ginny and Richie would have done. Different breeds I guess.

The next thing was how to get it out of the house without hurting it as I had no intentions of killing it. Neither was I planning on sharing my house with it for any length of time. I didn’t want to scare it off under some piece of furniture which would make it difficult to get to so I grabbed the first thing close at hand which was a long handled dust brush, the kind that has a long handled dustpan to go along with it. I opened the back door and proceeded to try and literally sweep the snake out of the door. Well, the snake is not like dust and it would not slide very well on the tiled floors. It kept wrapping itself around the brush handle and one time, I almost flipped it back onto myself. Don’t forget, I was totally naked as I battled this monster snake so was especially wary.  Modesty was not a problem but tangling in hand to hand combat with no clothes on was especially daunting.  I had the dickens of a time as it tried to go one way and I tried to make it go the other. I eventually got it pointing in the right direction and it slithered out the door to disappear into a pile of firewood.

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Mikey was suddenly brave and bold with the snake gone and chased and sniffed around until he was satisfied that it was safe for him to walk around. What a chicken but on the other hand, I would rather he stay away from snakes as the next one could be lethal. Ginny, who would have attacked the snake was still in bed and missed all of the fun.

I have no idea how the snake got in as the doggy door fits pretty snug as do the outside doors and neither do I know how long it was in the house prior to making an appearance.  It could have come in earlier in the evening when the doggy door was out and we were watching TV. We being me and the dogs although they don’t do much watching but they are up on the couch with me.

It is a bit troubling that I have seen so many snakes in the garden already this year. More than I have ever seen in the 34 years I have lived here. Now, I will have to look ahead at everything in the house as I do in the garden before sticking my feet anywhere.

BTW, this is the first snake in the house that I know of. I did have an Opossum get in the doggy door at my old house way out in the country many years ago but that is a different story.

Talk about Snakes on a Plane, how about Snakes in the House…

Written 7/9/2018

Texas Heat 2018


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I just want to be very clear
that the Texas Summer is really here
with temperatures over one hundred degrees
and getting hotter with each passing day
with a forecast high of one hundred and eight
before this front will go away.

Heat does not come as a surprise
as it happens to us every year
generally though one hundred is high
with a blazing sun and no clouds in the sky
but to get up to be one hundred and eight
is hot even in this Lone Star State.

Thank goodness for A/C in both car and home
without it we would be cooked to the bone
like a roast well done and cooked thru and thru
our bodies absorbing the sun’s powerful rays
the heat going on for days and days
until it breaks and the weather subdues.

What brought on this bout of heat
or is it just an abnormal year
is Global Warming a part of the mix
or is Nature just playing us tricks
something we shall never know
as our understanding is way too slow.

In the forty years I have been in this State
only once has it reached one hundred and eight
in Dallas probably thirty years ago
at a soccer tournament in which I played
the hottest I have ever been
but I survived ready to do it again.

Too old to play and too feeble in mind
this time around I’ll stay indoors
and wait out the heat until it cools
back to one hundred at which we fools
go on hikes or work out in the yard
and kid ourselves it’s not so hard.

Seriously though it is very hot
living in Texas it’s part of our lot
the summer is hot and we all complain
as the heat every year is the same
it gets to one hundred at least on one day
but one hundred and eight we view with dismay.

Written 7/20/2018
High Temperature was xxx

Stormy Weather…


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I was out for a drive today
something I like to do
and as usual along the way
I listen to stories on Audiobooks
as I try to guess which of the crooks
will get shot or some other terrible fate
as the good guy wins as they usually do
for I have yet to hear a story that tells
of the bad guys winning the thought repels.
as the good guy always gets the girls
and is the hero and here to stay
as the bad guys are dropped along the way.

I noticed as I drove along
the dark clouds forming in the sky
and wondered if it would rain
something that would be our gain
as rain in the Summer in Texas is rare
the lack of which we often despair
before long the wind started to blow
and raindrops on the windshield fell
so that driving I would have a clue
to turn on the wipers just to view
the road in front of me that I could drive
in order to just stay alive.

Pretty soon the lightning started to flash
and the thunder followed with a loud clash
and the noise of the rain as it beat on the roof
made it hard to hear the story in truth
I was more concerned with driving straight
than what was happening with the books
so I really started to concentrate
and turned off the device to keep a look
at the road in the storm as I made my way home
arriving safely and making sure to atone
by listening on a different day
when the weather is better to drive and play.

Written 7/8/2018

This and That…


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I commented in the last couple of blogs just how hot it is here in my part of  Central Texas. It is like this every year with some years worse than others. The record was set in 2011 when Austin at Camp Mabry, one of the weather recording centers, registered 83 consecutive days with the temperatures 100 degrees or more. It doesn’t matter what way you look at it, that was a bloody hot summer. Luckily, the humidity was low which made it a little more bearable.

We have just had our first 100 degree days this past week with the thermometer reaching 100 on three consecutive days. There are thunderstorms forecast for the next couple of days which will bring some welcome relief. Along with the high temperatures there are all sort of bye products caused by the heat. Things like high electric bills with the A/C units at full blast and in many cases, replacement units due to the older models breaking down. Try to imagine what the inside of a house is like with no A/C when the outside temperature is 100 degrees or higher. Fans are a big help but they only move the hot air around as they don’t cool it.

If you are an avid gardener, it is a heartbreaking struggle to keep your precious plants alive especially if you are on city water and there are watering restrictions. Austin gets most of its water from the Highland Lakes which is a chain of six freshwater lakes in Central Texas formed by six dams on the lower Colorado River. A heat wave like the one in 2011 actually lowered the lake water quite considerably as the water evaporates along with the demands from all of the Municipalities downstream. It took several years for the lake levels to return to normal after that and it was officially declared a drought.

In my younger days, thirty or so years ago, I was still an avid soccer player at the top Amateur level. The teams I played with would often go away to Tournaments in Dallas or Houston or sometimes even further afield to New Orleans or Florida. These Tournaments were nearly always in the summer, again the hottest time of the year but although they were competitive, it was only for fun. Apart from getting to play several games over a weekend, we went for the company and camaraderie that belonging to a team brings. And the beer of course, lots of beer. I remember on two separate occasions, one in Dallas and the other in Houston when the heat got to us more than usual.

The Dallas Tournament was played on a large soccer complex which like all such complexes was built with very little shade around the fields. Our particular field had Flood Lights surrounding the field mounted on six, sixty foot metal poles. This was the only shade close to the field and spectators and players not in the game were all standing in a line in the shadow of the poles with a larger group at the end where the bank of lights projected a bigger shadow. It was pretty funny. The actual temperature that day was 108 degrees, the hottest that I have ever played in. The game itself was played in slow motion with the players trying to conserve as much energy as possible and when they wanted to sub out, they had the greatest difficulty in finding someone to take their place.  Usually, subs are lined up just waiting to get into the game but not on that particular day. I can’t remember much about the game or even if we won as the heat was the overriding factor for all of us.

The Tournament in Houston was very much the same with very high temperatures. The difference was that in Houston, being close to the sea, the humidity was through the roof which made it appear to be much hotter than it really was. Humidity saps the strength right out of you whether you are used to it or not. The same thing happened as in the Dallas Tournament except there were no floodlights to provide shade. In the second half players were subbing in and out at a tremendous rate as in these Amateur games, subs are unlimited. In the end, it got to where you couldn’t find anyone willing to go back in which meant that you had to stay on the field or if you came off anyway, the team had to play short. That game was truly a miserable experience for both teams. I can’t remember who won and in truth, really didn’t care.

On the home front with all of my ponds, I have to be very careful to make sure that there is no water wastage from anywhere. As it is, keeping the water cool enough for the Koi and Goldfish during these periods of high temperatures is a difficult task. The only real way is to keep the water moving with waterfalls and water features and plant lots of Lilies and water shading plants. The other big problem it to maintain the oxygen levels in the water as the heat tends to deplete the amount of oxygen. I have separate bubblers in all of my ponds which this time of the year are running non stop and even with these precautions, it not a bit unusual to find fish floating on the top.

I have all native plants in my garden which I tend to let grow wild only trimming them where my pathways are or maybe to keep them from crowding out the other growth. If I  have to water them to keep them alive I have installed an underground soaker hose system which if absolutely necessary, will run at night on timers. This is enough to keep the plants alive without wasting too much water in overspill. My garden is really a jungle in disguise which makes it much easier to maintain.

The one redeeming factor is that we can look forward to the Hurricane Season and since 80% of the North Atlantic Hurricanes form from June through October, hurricane season is declared from June 1 to November 30. The months when storms are most frequent on the Texas coast are August and September. If we do get any at all and that is not a certainty, we will probably get cooler temperatures and rain which if it is in excessive amounts will bring its own problems.

Texas has a saying, “If you don’t like the Texas weather, just wait five minutes and it will change”. This saying is also credited to many other States to which it can apply.

Written on another hot day in Texas.
7/3/2018

 

Summertime


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Summer is here with all that it brings
as the temperature climbs as though it has wings
going higher and higher with each passing day
topping out around a hundred too hot to stay
outside in the heat for long and instead
stay where cool air blows overhead
keeping us cool the dogs and me
as we each do our thing quite comfortably
the dogs are quiet each with their spot
it must be nice to sleep such a lot
and its instant the minute their head hits the floor
except when I get up to go out the door
they are awake  and right by my feet
in case they miss something maybe a treat
I have learned here in Texas a long time ago
that the heat from the Sun will make your skin glow
and sunburn is the most painful thing
when all it takes is a hat and to cover the skin
with lotion especially made for the task
without it your life will surely not last
Texans are pretty tough more than most
we’re used to the heat is something they boast
as the summers are not for the faint of heart
as A/C and cool drinks each play their part
around the end of September it will start to cool down
by then the Sun will have parched the ground
unless we are lucky and had some rain
which sometimes happen when a hurricane
moves in from the sea and onto the shore
and we get rain lots of rain sometimes more
than we need as it floods the rivers and lakes
and then it is gone which is all it takes
to make things grow the following spring
as Natures design covers everything
it may be hot more hot than I like
but I would not change it for a cooler life
instead of the heat the frosts I can’t stand
and the snow and the ice which covers the land
in winter making six months obsolete
to me is far worse than the Texas heat.

Written 7/1/2018

 

APS July Meeting 7-16-2018


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In keeping with the last two meetings that were held outdoors, the first at Zilker Botanical Gardens and the second at the AquaDome, the Austin Pond Society held the July Meeting at Mayfield Park, here in Austin.

This is also the same park that the APS has been helping the City of Austin clean and maintain the six ponds that are located there. Now that most of the work is finished at least for this go round,  the Board decided that it would be a good idea to show off just what the Members have accomplished these past few weeks.

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We turned this meeting into a pot luck and the food table was absolutely full up with all kinds of goodies, most of which were home made. Altogether, there were close to forty members that showed up. The Mayfield Gutsch Cottage located on the grounds served as a gathering and eating place to start the evening off before everyone moved outside to explore the grounds and ponds. Most people were impressed with the amount of work performed by the APS volunteers and commented as much. Jeannie, our President was quick to point out to the group the work that the City of Austin had done as their part of the project.

The Peafowls, both cocks and hens put on a great display and serenaded us with their loud squawking. One Peahen was proudly showing off her two babies and walked right up to me as if to say,”Make sure you get a good picture of me and my babies”.

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The first of the two videos is the Business part of the meeting conducted indoors. The quality is not very good due to the poor lighting made worse by the row of windows directly behind the camera which cast big shadows on all of the people assembled there.

The second video is a short one taken outside of the Members as they walked around the ponds.

The next meeting is back indoors at the Zilker Garden Center on August 20th. The Speaker will be Steve from Hill Country Water Gardens. Hope to see you there.