My Family of Dogs – Part 1.


IMG_20180115_0002 Samantha, Mann,Whiskey Bean, Fats at the very back and then Ennery[/caption]

I was sitting on the couch watching an English Premier League soccer game with my two little dogs one on each side of me and I got to thinking about all of the dogs that I have had over my lifetime, for a time period spanning more than 50 years. With such deep thoughts as these, quite obviously, the game was not holding my attention.

I never had a dog when I was growing up and I missed out on the first thirty years of my life. It wasn’t until my second marriage when we had moved into our own house in Hailsham, Sussex in England that I first discovered the joys of having a fuzzy four legged friend in the form of Toby, a small Rat terrier. He was a busy little dog and as I was a Pipeline Boss working out in the country, he was able to come to work with me every day. That pipeline was several miles long and we traversed most of it on a daily basis. Toby was a hunter and would think nothing of finding a rabbits nest and eating the babies much to the annoyance of one of the machine operators. We had some pretty heavy discussions about it.

I had at the time, a small Mini Station Waggon and we would all pile into it to go places including Toby who was never left behind. Besides my wife, there were three daughters and a son so the Mini was pretty full up. Toby had this awful habit of letting off wind and many times as I was driving along, there would be screams from the kids as Toby would let one go. Sitting in the back, they were closest to the dog and by the time it reached me, it had dissipated enough that I would laugh it off and continue driving. Everyone else was rapidly winding down the windows.

He had another quirk that he was able to jump over the four feet high fence to the back yard but could not jump back in and would sit outside the fence and bark until someone, usually me, would rescue him and lift him over to our side. We had him a couple of years but unfortunately for Toby, he bit the neighbors little girl in the face one day when she wandered into our front yard and I had to have him put to sleep. A very sad time.

The next dog was a Cocker Spaniel that we named Melody. She really did a good job of selling herself when we were at the Kennel where we purchased her. She kept jumping up as if to say, “Pick me, pick me”. She had these big brown eyes and she was so appealing that she was the one that chose us. She had the distinction of sailing on the Queen Mary as we made the long journey to the USA. She was kenneled on the top deck in a special enclosure along with several other dogs and we would visit her several times a day so she would not be lonely. She made it just fine over that 3000 mile trip. Melody settled in to life in the USA and even adjusted to the heavy snow falls of the New York State winters. I started a construction business and again, like Toby before her, she came everywhere I went and it was not a bit unusual to see her up on the scaffold as we laid bricks on the houses.

A few years after arriving in the States, we acquired another dog, a cross between a Lab and something else. She was a beautiful short haired sandy colored dog with the sweetest personality and we named her Amy. Melody still came to work with me but Amy stayed at home preferring the company of my wife. At the time, we were having marriage problems and I eventually moved out. One of the daughters took Amy and I gave Melody to one of the guys that used to work for me. I was heartbroken to let her go as we had spent so much time together but the circumstances were such that I could not keep her with me and my ex did not want her. I learned that a couple of years later, he had to put her to sleep as she had just gotten old and had health problems. I should mention, an American country boys idea of euthanization is a 12 gauge shotgun. She had to have been at least 15-16 years old. I don’t know what happened to Amy.

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Samantha and friend

A couple of years later, I had remarried for the third and final time. My wife was a dog lover like me. We acquired a cocker spaniel puppy that we named Samantha. At the time we were living in Albany in New York State but a job offer in Texas caused us to move there and of course Samantha also made the trip. We eventually settled just outside of Austin, Texas on five acres of land on which we built a house and a horse barn. By this time, Sam had a litter of puppies of which we sold two and kept three, Fats, who was the biggest, Whiskey Bean and Ennery. They were all females. In the meantime, one of my wifes friends had asked her to look after a male Maltese puppy named Mann, for a bit which eventually turned into a permanent move and our family of dogs was at five. The funniest thing was to see the three cockers all in a line as they went out walking early in the mornings. Fats was always in the lead followed by Whiskey Bean and Ennery trailing at the rear.

We were at the time very active in the soccer community in Austin and Sam would go to all of the games a part of which was the consumption of large quantities of beer following the event. The guys and Samantha both discovered that she had a taste for it and they would surreptitiously give her sips of the stuff until they got her drunk. They thought it funny to see a dog that couldn’t walk a straight line. It didn’t appear to hurt her as she lived to a ripe old age.

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Samantha, Fats at the back, Whiskey Bean, Manfried is the Maltese in front and then Ennery. plus two cats.

After a few years, we sold the five acres and moved into a new house closer to Austin taking our family of dogs and cats with us. We had bought land in Belize and took a trip to see it. One of our soccer playing friends house sat for us. We called our neighbor who was our main contact to check on things only to be told that Mann was dead, a victim of a car on the road outside the property. Apparently, there had been a very bad thunderstorm and the sitter had put the dogs in their pen and had assumed that Mann, who she hadn’t been able to find, was already in his kennel. Turns out, he wasn’t and he was so terrified of the thunder and lightning that he had dug out under the gate. My neighbor found him the next day and buried him. Incidentally, we never did hear from the house sitter ever again. No apologies, no nothing.

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Mann and Whiskey Bean

I had also come by another Maltese, a gift from a Vet that was looking for a home for him. This Maltese name was Manfried. One day as I was working on my home business, my wife and her friend popped into the office to announce they had a gift for me. She opened her bag for me to peek inside and this bundle of fur in the shape of a miniature Maltese puppy, peeked out. We named her Bianca and she was the tiniest of puppies but really cute and she knew it.

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Bianca on the left with Manfried

Then one day a year or so later, My wife announced she was leaving and so long and farewell. She took Bianca with her and I was left with the four Cockers and a Maltese. Time moved on as by now I was a single man and my wife was now an ex-wife. After three failed marriages, I decided enough was enough and that I preferred the company of dogs. Twenty six years later and I still hold that to be true.

For Part two – use this link

Written 1/14/2018

 

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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 

 

The New Year


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I wrote a poem the other day
that was pretty gloomy in it’s own way
it was not really my intent
but that is the way it came out bent
on announcing to the world
just like a flag getting unfurled
that time is passing and with every breath
that is one less that we have left
what I really wanted to say
that with every passing day
we have a chance to make things right
for what we have done in our previous life
and the way that we have lived
good or bad what did we give
did we honor our neighbor and not be a schmuck
or the homeless man down on his luck
give to charity or just a plain helping hand
did we even think or try to understand
that this world is really a beautiful place
and that can be said for the whole human race
basically everyone wants to be friends
and we have our differences but in the end
we can work it out no need for a fight
and the sun rises each morning such a beautiful sight
and the dawn breaks and brings on the light
and we say Hi to our neighbor to make things right
and tell them to have a wonderful day
as we both go our chosen way
and we give the homeless man a buck
it’s not his fault he is down on his luck
and the sun shines on another great day
it’s good to be alive you say
to make the most of the time we have left
who knows how many breaths we’re bereft
and it really doesn’t matter the count
make the most of life before it’s closed out
chase away those gloomy thoughts
and enjoy the life that you have brought.

Written 1/6/2018
Use this link to the previous poem

McKinney Falls State Park 9-30-2017


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A view of the trail

With the recent rains, I knew the trails would be muddy in places and I wanted to walk on something more solid. I opted to walk the Hike and Bike trail at McKinney Falls as it is a 3 mile circular trail that is very nicely blacktopped and made for easy walking. It has one very steep place where there is a sign that bicyclists should get off and walk although I am sure that most  of them view this as a challenge more than a warning. It would get a little hairy if any hikers happened to be on the trail at this exact point as there is a blind corner that you can’t see around until too late…Come to think about it, I have yet to see a biker anywhere in this park probably that except for this one spot, the trail offers no real challenge to them.

Picnic area at the Upper Falls

A five picture panorama of the picnic area

I broke all of my rules today as normally, I very rarely get out to the Parks because of the numbers of people that use them on the weekends. It’s not that I am anti-people but I like to hike for the solitude amongst other things and that can be difficult with crowds of noisy families each with at least a dozen kids per family all talking and running at the same time. Mckinney Falls also has swimming facilities which is another attraction for these families and large groups of people.

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Another 5 picture panorama from the reverse direction

I parked in the lot by the Upper Falls and geared up in my usual fashion. I’m sure that I make quite a comical sight with my two cameras and binos strapped to my chest, my camera bag with a couple of other lenses on my back, my two walking poles in my hands and topped off by my wide brimmed hat complete with added kerchief around my forehead to soak up the sweat. Oh yes, add two water bottles to that strapped to my waist. I probably am carrying at least 20 pounds of gear, great for my muscles and cardio but awful tiring.

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A panoramic view of the Upper Falls

I walked past the Upper Falls and the throngs of people into the park area that is set up with picnic tables and firepits and is very nicely maintained. Onion Creek runs off to my right and I wandered over to take a look. The water was a muddy brown color from the recent rains and not very appealing so I got back onto the trail proper and started to walk. I took several shots of the park area and of a couple of the very large trees on the trail and have turned them into panoramic shots. I met several people on the trail and conversely, several passed me going in the same direction. None were families with kids as they preferred to be at the Falls area. Although I heard birds, I didn’t see any to take any pictures of. I passed an interestingly shaped tree and took a couple of pictures of it besides various flowers. The pictures below also include views of the trails.

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This tree is made up of 5 different pictures in order show the whole thing. I wonder how old it is?

 

Arriving back at the Falls, I chatted to a few people and took several pictures.  There was a photographic class going on the park area which broke up as I was taking pictures of the Falls.  Not sure what the subject matter of the course was about.

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There are 8 pictures in this pano

Altogether with my additional wandering around, I covered a little over 4 miles. I noticed that my old body and legs were nowhere near as tired as when I walk the regular trails. Must be that this much flatter blacktop trail is much easier to walk and for that I was extremely grateful.

Written 10/3/2017

More Sadness


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The last addition, Pete

Once again my life is sad
as another of my pets has left
to join with Richie up in the sky
where all dogs go when they die
this time Pete my fat little friend
succumbed to heartworm of years gone by
and even though he had the best care
his poor little heart just could not fly
I buried him beside the pond
next to Richie his bestest friend
and the two in life with such a strong bond
live in Doggie Heaven where joy never ends.

Written 2/5/2018

 

The Downside of Age…


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This tree is made up of 5 different pictures in order show the whole thing. I wonder how old it is and if it ever got angry?

One of the many things that happen as I grow older is that it is much harder to control my aggravation when things don’t go according to plan. I’m a pretty level headed guy most of the time although I have had my moments when my temper got the better of me especially on the soccer field in my younger days. One thing I do have is infinite patience when it comes to computer related things probably because I see that as more of a challenge than say tying my shoelaces.

I generally show my annoyance in several different ways the first of which is to fill the air with the “F” word. Generally, this makes me feel a whole lot better and I am able to return to the aggravating task to give it another try. Like I say, generally I have infinite patience so when it doesn’t work a second, third or fourth time I keep on swearing and add “Oh Sh*t” to the swear words to give them more strength. If it still doesn’t work, I will give up for the day and tackle it again in the morning. I figure that overnight, I have built up the required amount of patience that I am ready to have another go at it.

I’m kidding of course although I do bust out in the occasional cuss word. What I have found as I grow older is that I do get much more aggravated much quicker than I used to. There is a sharp reaction of anger when something doesn’t work quite right after several tries and I feel like throwing the computer through the window. Luckily common sense prevails and although I could use a new computer,  I don’t want to replace the big picture window as well. Anyway, those sort of temper tantrums are for little kids and I am definitely no longer one of those.

Wait a minute here, I wonder if having enough temper tantrums will make me younger? Maybe I should follow that train of thought for a while and see where it leads…

Written 12/18/2017

Reamers Ranch 10-29-2017


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I went for another walk at Reamers Ranch this time to get in a good walk and to take a few pictures along the way. I still have hopes of seeing the Osprey again but am no longer just concentrating on it’s location although to be truthful, my walking plan did include the area I had seen the Osprey before. I planned to walk along the Multi Use Trail towards the North end of the Park and to go all the way along Confluence Trail until the trail ends at the boundary of the Park Property. I have walked this several times previously and always have the hope that I might see deer or a turkey as I have before although much too slow with the camera to get the pictures. Along the way, I found some flowers that were absolutely covered with bees and butterflies.

I tried something new by only using one walking stick so that I could carry the camera in the other hand, just in case. Even though I was ready this time, the animals and birds obviously did not get the message as none appeared to have their picture taken on the first part of the walk to the end of the trail.

I cut back through the lower trail which the Parks people have spent some time on and now it is much better walking as you can see from the pictures above and followed right alongside of the Pedernales River with a good view of the water and the opposite bank which is all private property. Some of it is well maintained as the Panorama below shows. I kept my eyes open in the hopes of catching a view of the Osprey but all I saw were buzzards.
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I continued along until I came to the area popular with the rock climbers and took some pictures of them on the wall. Better them than me as it is not my idea of fun.

I carried on walking along the Lower Trail until I reached the exit to get back to the third parking lot. This too is a difficult climb to get out. I met a young lady who was coming down and we chatted for a bit about the trails.

When I got to the top, I headed north along the gravel walkway towards the last parking lot known as North Bank. Along the way, I met a young gentleman and we exchanged pleasantries as we crossed paths. I noticed three buzzards in the tree in front of me and at first, couldn’t make out what they were up to. Then I figured that they were a female and two males and were going through a mating ritual of a sort I guess for the female to make a choice. I managed to quickly change settings to video and got this very short one. I would have thought that it was too late in the season for mating but maybe these are younger birds finding their first mate. I stood and watched them for a bit until they flew off. You never know what interesting picture is around the next bend.

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I arrived back to my car tired and happy and changed into some dry clothes and sat for a while eating an apple.  It is so quiet and peaceful there and it is very easy to slip into a state of reverie and just letting the world pass on by. Altogether, I covered 6.5 miles, not bad for a day’s stroll in the park with the added bonus of a lot of pictures.

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Written 11-10-2017