The Second Day of Harvey…


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I got up early just so I could see
damage caused by Hurricane Harvey
I slept soundly through the night
and did not hear weather to give me a fright
I did not even hear the rain
as it beat upon the window pane
and yet the two rain gauges show
that 4 inches fell of this I know

As I walked around the yard
the wind was still blowing pretty hard
treetops swayed first this way and that
as I stood waiting for them to crack
but so far everything is fine
in the part of Texas that I call mine
I’m sure before this storm is gone
something will break before too long.

I looked into the biggest pond
wondering where the tree had gone
as in this pond sits a cypress tree
in a pot with rocks but standing free
although it has a couple of ropes
cross tied so that in the hope
to stop it from falling upside down
when the big winds come around.

Alas the winds were mighty strong
and the tree is floating so before too long
I need to jump in and work on the tree
in order to get it vertically
but not much use until the storm ends
and then maybe with the help of friends
the tree we can right the way it should be
pointing upwards and proud for all to see.

So far nothing to make me sad
or damage so bad it makes me mad
the little bit that I can see
is not very much to worry me
not even enough to bring me tears
which I can fix when the weather clears
with trimmers and rakes and a wheelbarrow too
it won’t take long to make it look new.

There is still maybe two more days
of Hurricane Harvey coming our way
before he will blow himself out
and we will no longer be in drought
as the rain that he has left behind
will water our yards for a long long time
enough to last the rest of this year
as Fall is approaching and is quite near
and the weather will cool and more pleasant be
and the super hot days will be history.

“For this year…”

Is it Raining Outside – Harvey?


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I can’t believe it is finally true
the sky has turned a different hue
as clouds roll in all dark and grey
and rain is forecast along the way
we have had this news before
with weathermen making promises galore
telling us to watch the skies
and in the end they are telling lies
as nothing happens except a few clouds
which hides the sun beneath a shroud
these quickly pass along the way
and the sun returns brightly to have his say.

This time is different it’s plain to see
that these clouds are full and before they flee
will dump a bunch of rain on the ground
spreading new life all around
for without rain the plants will die
as they raise their faces to the sky
ready to swallow every single drop
and even if it rains non stop
the earth will take every bit from the sky
using all of her magic the gift to deploy
and everything will turn a wonderful green
just like it is at the start of Spring.

The reason there is so much rain
is all due to a hurricane
which has a name that does not cause fright
even though it packs a might
the hurricane’s name does not reflect
that awesome power that it can get
from something that Mother Nature has planned
and when the storm blows onto the land
uprooting trees and damaging homes
creating havoc wherever it blows
for Harvey is the name of this storm
and like all storms it will conform.

Evacuate and drive inland
are the golden rules for those by the sand
find shelter where the wind is not strong
a couple of days not for long
until the storm has blown itself out
and so there can be no doubt
that it is safe to return back home
and you will not be alone
in hoping that everything is still intact
and a place to live when you get back
for the power of the storm is a mighty force
as the wind and the rain cause a discourse.

Wait, the rain is slackening off
and we have only had a few drops
back to the computer to check the map
it’s just a lull a little gap
the next wave is due it’s plain to see
and this one is a darker green
with tinges of yellow nothing plain
denoting extra heavy rain
all I have to do is wait
to have all the rain the land can take
and then we will be pouring down rain
in the grip of Harvey the Hurricane.

Farewell Ellie…


Animal Cairn

The cairn under which at least eight of my pets are buried

My beautiful Ellie who I recently wrote about, has joined Brown Cat in that special place that all cats go to when they pass on from this earthly life.

She did not handle the passing of Brown Cat very well and it was obvious that even though they were not close, she did miss him if only for the companionship of another cat in the house. She totally changed her lifestyle from being an indoor cat sleeping on the bed all day to spending hours outdoors in any of the special places that she found to sleep, on the deck, under the deck, in between the trees and under the shed. If I didn’t bring her in at night, she would probably have spent all of her time outside not even coming in to eat. Even after eating, she immediately wanted back outside again although I wouldn’t let her out until the morning choosing instead to listen to her plaintive meowing in protest.

We had a rainy day and true to form, she again slipped out using the doggy door. I looked for her as the rain pelted down but could not find her anywhere. Eventually, around 12:30 that night, I located her under the deck totally soaked and very dirty and managed to get her indoors where I gave her a bath, sort of. Have you vere tried bathing a cat? I do not recommend it as they have teeth and claws and put them to very good use. I eventually got a lot of the dirt off her and dried her and put her in her room.

The next day, when I let her out, she immediately headed for the doggy door but only made it halfway and collapsed on the floor. I could see she was in trouble so I put her in a carry crate and off we went to the vets (again). Although I love my vets dearly having been with them for the 32 years I have lived in this house, they have seen far too much of me these past couple of years.

I left Ellie with them and waited for the call confirming what I already knew the news would be. True to form, Dr Donop, called and we talked about Ellie. Turns out that she had an open wound on her leg that I had not noticed before even when I bathed her.  With her outdoor life, the flies had gotten into it and they had made it much worse with their eggs and maggots and Dr Donop could not find any way to sew up the wound in order to treat it. We discussed the alternatives of which there were very few options and in the end,  based on his recommendations, I told him to go ahead and put Ellie to sleep and out of her suffering. It was something I was prepared for this time, not like Richie. I told him I would be back later that day to pick her up.

I walked out to the garden carrying my spade and shovel and headed for that special place next to the big pond where so many of my pets are buried. Normally, the digging is hard but as we had recently a lot of rain, it was somewhat easier than normal. Being Texas Hill Country, the limestone is usually only a foot or so below the surface which limits the depth of the hole and I make up for it but covering everything up with rocks.

I buried Ellie next to Brown Cat and Richie, the most recent of the many dogs and cats that lay in this special place. I stood for a while and said my goodbyes to Ellie as I have to all of the pets buried here. She was the last of the many cats that I have had the pleasure of living with over these many years both here and in my previous home out in the country as I do not plan on getting any more. My little menagerie has dropped radically in size from an all time high of eight dogs and three cats to two very small and very noisy dogs. What they lack in size, they truly make up for with their noisy barking at anything that moves out in the yard, perceived or real. Ginny is about eight and Pete around four so they should be around for awhile, hopefully, the rest of my lifetime.

There are stone statues of dogs and cats on the cairn.

In retrospect, this has been a bad couple of years as far as pets go in the Allcorn Residence. Four of the last six dogs and cats that I have taken to the vets have all come home in cardboard boxes and then there was Abigail who drowned in the septic tank. In fairness, with the exception of Richie and Abigail, all of the others were getting on in years and their time had come. Ellie was at least 18 years old and she had a good life.

I will miss her as I do all of the ones that have gone to that animal heaven up in the sky. They all asked for very little and in return, gave me their unconditional love. A man could not ask for anything better than that.

Rest in Peace Ellie. You will be missed.

Written 10/8/2017

 

The Trails at Mayfield Park Preserve 8-13-2017


DSC_0727-PanoI had an Austin Pond Society meeting scheduled for 3:00 pm this past Sunday which was going to be held at Mayfield Park. Making the most of the moment, so to speak, I arrived a couple of hours early so that I could walk the trails at Mayfield Park Preserve. In my many visits to this Park generally with something related to fish and ponds, I had seen many people drive in to use the trails and wanted to find out for myself.

I  took the time to change into my boots and strapped  on my single camera harness as I only planned on carrying the one camera with the 16-300 lens which is my go to lens for all occasions. After making  sure that I had my water bottle and walking poles I was ready to move. I stopped at the kiosk to take a look at the map and just like the last place, St Edwards Park, this map was also backwards from how I was viewing it. I quickly worked out where I wanted to go and set off down the trail along with several other people including a family who were carrying swimming stuff, towels and floats and the sort of thing one would associate with going to the beach or around here, one of the lakes. They disappeared down the opposite trail to the one that I took (thank goodness) as I strode away on my chosen path.

I wandered around for about an hour and a half exploring many of the trails. There did not seem to be much organization but without a map, which I was not able to locate either at the site or on the web, it was hard to know where to go. Many of the trails were very steep and/or required climbing up or down rock faces more like a rock climbing exercise than a walk on the trails. I have no idea if I covered all of the trails on my side but I switched and took the trail taken by the swimming family.

This trail eventually brought me down to Town Lake but I never did see a spot that the swimming family could hit the water. Of course, I have no idea if I covered all of the trails on this side either and there may be others that I did not see.

I retraced my steps back to the Parking Lot and sat for a while before changing into dry clothes in readiness for the meeting.  The car parked next to me was driven by a young and pretty lady in the skimpiest of bikinis who was very busy first hoisting her float board onto her car and then taking a very long time to tie it down to the roof rack. Her boyfriend was helping her and I was glad when they finally drove off as I was having the hardest time in not staring at her. Interestingly enough, she was not a bit fazed by her almost nakedness and was in no hurry to complete her tasks. I wanted to take pictures but didn’t have the nerve to ask her to pose for me. Maybe because her boyfriend was a lot bigger and younger than me? I am definitely not a prude but it was a bit unnerving (in a good way). Jeez, I gotta be getting bloody old.

The trails are tree covered nearly all of the way so there was a lot of shade. Most were easy walking except where they went up and over the rock face and there they suddenly got very difficult.

Below is a link to the slideshow of the trails.

Trails at Mayfield Park 8-12-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

Another of some of the views.

Views at Mayfield Park Trails 8-13-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Growing Older by the Minute…


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Damn, how I hate growing old. I am definitely not the very first person to make such a statement as at one time or another, every living human being has probably uttered those words in countless different languages.

Why is growing old such a problem? First of all, I am nowhere near as strong as I used to be. The rocks that I placed around the ponds have grown in weight since I put them there  a few years back and now I really struggle to move them around when I need to. As if that was not enough, the weight of the world has made me round shouldered and now I am shorter by more than an inch. On the other hand, I have had no problem at all in adding to my weight to the extent that I had to go on a diet to drop from 183 pounds to 155. Even now, it is a struggle to maintain it at this level. Then there are the aches and pains. Why do my joints ache and why do the few remaining muscles I have that are still working protest loudly when I try to use them.

There is nothing wrong with my eyesight as I still love to look at pretty girls especially if they are well endowed. Nowadays, I appreciate their beauty and the grace in which they move but unfortunately for me,  the long lasting desires of the flesh are no longer present. In my case beauty is in the eye of the beholder ….me. Of course, I have to be careful not to be caught staring otherwise I am labelled as a dirty old man. Wait a minute, I am a dirty old man.  So sad that this is all that remains…

I watch the professional soccer players on the television and marvel at the way they move and I remember when I played the game, not at their level but enough to make me pretty good. Nowadays, I doubt if I could run away from turtle if one turned rogue and decided to chase me.

One good thing about growing old is all of the accumulated experiences of the previous years along with all of the knowledge gained through a lifetime results in a treasure chest of information on just about every subject under the sun. The trouble is that trying to recall any of that information is iffy at the best as it’s probably long gone, buried deep in the annals of my mind, never to see the light of day when it is needed the most.

So here we have it. Creaky bones and a mind that has difficulty in recalling times of any real importance. I can still tell you the name of the kids I grew up with but I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. I can no longer run and jump and my fastest walking pace is probably less than 1 mile per hour. On the other hand, I can walk forever as long as it is at my slow pace.

So, what good am I you might ask. Good question and one that requires some thought to answer. I can still maintain the ponds and do any work on them that is required including moving the above mentioned rocks as heavy as they are. I can still walk for miles even in the hot sun as I am already wrinkled and shrivelled up even when coated in sun block so the sun is not going to spoil any semblance of looks that I still have. LIke I said before, I don’t need good looks as I am not interested in charming the ladies. I take pretty good pictures  and a lot of them and know how to present them. My mind works just fine in front of a computer and I have no trouble in writing stories about those long walks I take. My two remaining dogs love me…. I think, unless they view me just as a meal ticket and the cat is so old, I am not sure she even knows who I am anymore. My house is paid for and I own a little piece of Texas and I am comfortably enough off to be able to buy groceries and any small stuff when I need it.

So, what the hell is wrong with me worrying about growing old. Everyone and everything grows old as time marches on. There is no stopping its forward march. It has been this way since the beginning and if and when it changes, it will be the end of the World.

Luckily, I will not be around to see it.

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Another Drive 8-19-2017


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With the weather as hot as it is here in Central Texas, I often drive around in my air conditioned car, usually out in the countryside, listening to Audiobooks.  I have probably put half of the 50,000 miles on the car doing just this. I like to explore the back roads and lanes off the beaten track and it is amazing the things I have come across. Mostly, I am out to find great pictures to post in my blog or to find yet another story but a part of me is on the lookout for that perfect 10 acres way out in the back of beyond as I still harbor thoughts of that little cabin in the woods. To be truthful, I am not sure what I would do if on one of these drives, I came across such an area that was cheap enough to be affordable to my limited resources. Would I take the plunge and spend my remaining years building a cabin and all that goes along with it or is that just pie in the sky and the dreams of an old man, not smart enough to realize how old he really is? In my case, the mind and spirit are very willing but sadly, the flesh is weak and I would probably kill myself with all of that work. At least I would die happy and be out in the countryside.

Yesterday was no exception as I chose to drive around in the Dripping Springs area on the west side of town. I found a couple of roads that I had not been on before and it is really surprising how often I come across collections of homesteads seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Some may be a collection of trailers, others are small houses with an acre of land and usually surrounded by broken down old cars denoting the status of the occupants who are probably honest hard working individuals trying to make a living. There are even larger houses of two or three thousand square feet set on several acres of land with manicured front lawns and large wrought iron gateways. the splendour of which is designed to outdo the neighbor the next estate over. There are all types to see when you get off the beaten track.

As I drove around, I found myself suddenly faced with this beautiful panoramic view as the landscape suddenly dropped off in front of me. I stopped quickly just to admire the view and luckily for me, nothing was coming behind me. I noticed an overlook to my left and pulled into it. Apart from the magnificent view, the first thing I noticed was the collection of beer cans and whisky bottles strewn all over the place. Quite obviously, this is a popular place for the local kids to park and drink beer and  probably make out with their girlfriends.  I could not help wondered how many young girls had drunk their first beers as they entered this grown up world then had lost their virginity to the young men’s advances, helped along by the booze. I wonder too, how many future generations have been conceived here.. This is the sort of place that is in all of the horror movies where bad things happen. Luckily for me, it was 4:00 pm in the afternoon and broad daylight so I felt pretty safe. Even so, it did conjure up some memories of some of the movies I had seen as I looked nervously around.

I got the camera out and was blown away with the incredible view in front of me. I could see for miles and miles as the landscape dropped away. Even facing the sun, I was still able to take some good shots. The panorama at the top is made up of four different pictures and pretty much shows the entire vista. The blue skies and scattering of clouds really brought color to the scene. The other pictures below are individual views of what was in front of me although, they don’t really do it justice. I didn’t have my wide angled or telescopic lense with me which would really have enhanced the shots.

Ah, the hidden beauty of Texas…

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APS Meeting September 2017


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Koi Person of the Year for 2017 – Alejandro Villa

The Austin Pond Society held its September Meeting at the Zilker Park Meeting Room on the 18th of the month attended by almost forty of its members. There were several new faces in the group and a couple that we hadn’t seen in awhile. Always glad to see new and returning members.

They were treated to a meal of chicken, potatoes and gravy, rolls, salad and desserts, lots of desserts most of which was consumed by the hungry members, me included. Thank you Stephen. Following the meal, Jeannie Ferrier, the President, awarded the Koi Person of the Year Award to Alejandro Villa . It was originally voted on way back in the summer but Alex had missed a few meetings and this was the first opportunity to present the award.

Below is a video of the presentation.

Koi Person of the Year 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following this presentation, Barbara Lenhardt, our Programs and Special Events Rep introduced the speaker for the evening, Jeff Price of Price Landscaping. His subject matter was the plants in and around our ponds and how to improve the appearance of our yards. He generated a lot of interest and there was a lot of Speaker/Audience participation. His presentation was well received.

Below is a video of Jeff and his presentation.

Jeff Price of Price Landscaping 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Jeannie then moved on to the Business Section of the meeting and discussed many things including the equipment for both the Mayfield and Zilker Park Projects which was delivered to her house yesterday, toys for Blue Santa who will be the Beneficiary at this year’s Thanksgiving/Christmas Party, AAGC and the survey that had been circulated and filled in by the members to name a few of the items.

As it is almost time to vote on the new 2018 Board. Julienne Smith, the current Secretary and head of the nomination committee took the floor and went down the list looking for nominations for the different Board positions. Even though she received nominations for most of the positions, many of which will be filled by returning officers, it was very noticeable that there were no nominations for the Pond Tour Chairman which, next to the President, is arguably the most important position each year. Without someone to lead this effort, there won’t be a Pond Tour and although the Tour is not called for in our by-laws, it is our main money raiser for our chosen charity. Without the Tour, we will not be making any donations or providing several hundred people a weekends worth of entertainment or at least twenty pond owners their opportunity to be famous for a day with a spot in the limelight. We will vote on the Board positions at next month’s meeting with final votes for any outstanding positions closing at the November meeting. The Nominating Committee is Julienne Smith as the Chair and BJ Jenkins and Philip Smith making up  the Committee. If you are interested in any of the positions on the Board, you can contact Julie at secretary@austinpondsociety.org . For more information regarding the various positions use this link.

Following the Nominating Committee, Jeannie then moved on to discuss the survey that we all filled out regarding the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy (ZBGC) taking over Austin Area Garden Council (AAGC ). More can be read on this subject by Pam Penick. You will need to scroll halfway down the page to read about the interview between Cat Newlands, executive director of Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy and Pam Penick. The membership approved by a show of hands their approval of the agreement. This was the last of the business and the meeting closed following the drawing for the door prizes.

The Business Video of the meeting

Business Section September 18, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

A few of the members.

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Margaret on the left is the Librarian. Barb on the right, the Publicity/Special Events

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Julienne Smith and Philip

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Ellen Filtness and her husband. Rodney and Keith in the blue tees in the background.

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Nancy and Husband, Barb, Ted Paone,Jeannie with Jeff Price. Glen is in the background.

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A special guest…

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Good Food…

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Ted, Barb, Jeff and Jeannie

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Speaker Jeff Price

Post written 9/19/2017