Feeling Blue…


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The sun is shining and the air is warm
and yet somehow I feel forlorn
I woke after a good night’s sleep
with pain in my foot making me creep
from place to place as the pain grew worse
wondering why in this Universe
my foot could be hurting and feeling sore
the minute that it hit the floor.

I crawled back to bed and lay there for a while
all the time I was in denial
why is this happening what did I do
that my foot is so sore I haven’t a clue
so I got out of bed and with the aid of my stick
found my crutches I used the last time I was sick
and with the aid of these walking device
to get up and about my heart did rejoice.

Why the pain in my foot, I haven’t a clue
there is not much about it that I can do
except pop a few pills and sit back and relax
and look out of the window at the beautiful day
wishing the pain would go away
so I can do what I love to do
outside with Nature my mood to renew.

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My Slow Brain…


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As my brain slowly goes bad
it makes me feel so very sad
that things I can no longer recall
even though they are very small
things like names and dates and times
involving dollars and nickels and dimes
are gone and even though I try
my very thoughts seem to deny
that the subject in hand I ever knew
as recalling my thoughts are very few.

I try to compensate for my brain
by writing things down to keep me sane
so I can use it to recall
whenever my brain is feeling small
or retracing my steps from whence I came
in order to jog my stupid brain
for when I get to where I am going
my brain has forgotten the reason for showing
appointments like doctors and dentists and such
are carefully logged as my fingers touch
the keys to my laptop being sure to record
the whose, why’s and when’s in the proper accord.

Actually things are not really that bad
its true I get a little sad
when my brain is slow and seems in decline
but give it some time and the gears start to wind
and slowly but surely the thoughts reappear
which makes me feel full of good cheer
as the brain is not dead but just being slow
the thoughts and words take longer to show
there is still life in this old brain
true its never quite the same
as when I was a younger fellow
now I am much more mellow
and everything I do takes time
walking, talking and thinking these lines.

Austin Pond Society Meeting – April 2017


DSC_5179The Austin Pond Society held their monthly meeting this past Monday, April 17 at the usual place and time. This meeting was our Annual Plant Swap when members bring in pond or garden plants surplus to their requirements to swap out for those of a different kind that other members have brought in.

It is always a fun event and usually, there is always someone who brings in something different or exotic just as a change from the usual pond and garden plants. The meeting was well attended with around 55 members showing up. Not everyone brought in plants to swap out but as usual, there were so many that if they wanted to, everyone went home with something new and different.

Prior to the start of the swap, Steven Monfrini, our Hospitality person, treated us to hot dogs with all of the fixin’s with desserts of different kinds brought in by the members. As I am not a big hot dog fan, I made up for it with extra helpings of desserts especially those of the chocolate kind. While the members were enjoying the food, they were able to watch a video made by yours truly of the APS Website and some of the things available on it.

15 Minute Video from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following the food and the video, Jeannie brought the meeting to order and went around the room for reports from the various Board Members. Nancy Hall talked about the upcoming Garden Tour and Ted Paone, Chairman of the Pond Tour, outlined the progress to date which he states, is is falling into place quite nicely.

At 7:15 pm, the swap started and although it didn’t appear so, there was some method to the madness with those that helped to set up going first to get the first dibs, followed by those others who had brought things into swap and finally by everyone else whether they had donated or not. It went pretty smoothly thanks to Barb and Darren who kind of kept an eye on everything. One of the rules of the swap is that if you bring it in and it doesn’t move, it goes back home with you. Not sure how much of that happened or whether everything found new homes.

Austin Pond Society Meeting April 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The meeting was over early around 8:00 pm as members lugged their new goodies out to their cars. The clean up crew tidied up the back porch and the Swap was over for another year.

Austin Pond Society April, 2017 Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The next meeting is on May 15 and this one is our Sponsor Night when many of our Sponsors will set up a table and share their wares with the members. This is always a popular event and is well attended. We are having a potluck dinner which is always fun as we taste other people’s cooking. Hope someone brings an apple pie…See you there.

The Pumps Stopped Working…


I noticed that the pump in the stream had stopped working and as it sits in a box I assumed that the thing was blocked with sediment which happens a lot of the time. I mumbled to myself that is was not important enough to jump on immediately and went about whatever I was working on at that particular time.

That evening, as I was sitting in front of my computer, I noticed that the video feed from one of the outdoor cameras was blank but as this happens from time to time, I did not think too much of it. The video screens are next to my computer.

The next day, I uncovered the box from the disappearing stream by taking off the layer of stones and retrieved the pump. It was not blocked as I originally thought so took it to another outlet and plugged it in. It worked, sort of, and was making the most awful noises so I could tell it was on its last legs. It is just a small 550 gph pump and not very expensive and a quick trip to Lowe’s to purchase a replacement was called for. It did not take very long to replace the new one but when I went to switch it on, it would not work. Nothing, No water pumping, just nothing.

So my brain kicked in and I started to backtrack to the source of the electrical supply. I went to the box on the side of the house and noticed that the 30 amp breaker was tripped and would not reset. The feed for that particular pump (and also the video camera) is one of the outlets within the workshop which has its own electric supply from the main breaker box. Then I noticed that none of the outlets in the workshop were working and as they are all wired in line, I had to eliminate the problem by checking each one at a time.

While I was engrossed in this particular problem, I suddenly realized that it was very quiet. None of the usual sounds of moving water and a quick inspection showed that none of the pumps were working in the entire yard on every pond. It was not quite time to panic but was getting close. Luckily, logic took over and calmed me down as I retraced all of the circuits that supplied the ponds and shed. Resetting the breaker in the main box turned on the 5000 gallon pond as it had its own separate circuit but I was still facing the problem of all of the other ponds. Then I noticed that the breaker for the pond circuits was also tripped and it would not reset. I solved that problem by changing out that particular breaker and lo and behold, all of the ponds started back up again.

I still had the problem of the stream pump and the video camera not to mention the outlets in the shed. I bypassed the circuit that originally fed the stream pump and video camera with a temporary lead cord and managed to get both of them working again.

That still left the problems with the shed outlets, none of which were working. I could not test any of them as the circuit breaker within the box in the shed would not hold. I determined that power was going to the shed as the lights and power saws were each on their own circuits and they both had their own breaker and they were all working.

So once more, logic was called for. I reasoned that I would have to work my way from outlet to outlet and disconnecting the outlets down line one box at a time. If the breaker would hold, I reconnected and moved to the next one. Then I found an outlet that was not working properly so I changed it out for a new one and before moving on to the next, tried the breaker hoping it would hold. It didn’t. By this time, I decided to give it a break until the following day as I was tired of messing with 12 gauge electrical wire.

The following day, instead of going to the next outlet, I jumped a couple in the hope I would get lucky and not have to do every one. No luck as the breaker would still not hold. So as I moved back one outlet, I noticed that the grinder was still plugged into it. I tried to unplug it but it would not come out and closer inspection revealed that an old chain saw blade that was hanging above it, was welded to one of the prongs to the plug. What had happened is that the plug had come out of the socket just enough for the saw blade to touch it and as it was still live created a weld and blew the circuits. The outlet was toast so a quick trip to purchase a new one. Ten minutes after getting back home, I had it replaced and gingerly tried the circuit breaker again while holding my breath. It held.

A quick trip around all of the outlets with my circuit tester told me that every outlet was back in working order and I was back in business. When I stop to think just how lucky I was. It is a wonder the shed didn’t burn down. I know that there are rats in the shed and I suspect that one of them dislodged the chain but for it to fall just right to lodge onto the the very small piece of prong of the plug is pretty amazing. Certainly not something I would expect to happen. If the outlets ever stop working again, I certainly will check every one for anything unusual.

Now, I wonder just what the next problem might be.

Busy in the Garden and the Ponds.


DSC_5129I have spent the last couple of months working either in the garden or in and around the ponds and have not had the time to go on any hikes at all. In between, I fitted in a couple of fish rescues and consequently have added to the plants that are surplus to my requirements.

Spring arrived early here in my part of Central Texas with only two days of freezing weather, which was enough to knock down almost every living plant in both the garden and the ponds. This required considerable effort to cut everything back and then move the cut material to the compost heap and took several days and much moaning and complaining on my part. Nothing new with that as I tend to moan and complain about everything especially if it is not going well. Luckily, I am the only one within earshot as usually, the dogs make a quick exit when I start cussing. Actually,I don’t rant and rave but generally just utter a quick “f” word and then go about my business figuring out how to get over whatever caused me to cuss in the first place.

I have already written a couple of blogs of some of my other escapades. Things like the Skippy Filters, part 1 and 2 and the Doggie Escape Fixes and the Ponds at Mayfield Park. I spent some time in reworking the plumbing inlet pipe to the pump on the Aquadyne system on the 6000 gallon pond and am much happier with the result. At least now, it sucks in water and does not keep blocking up although in fairness, this is a bad time of the year with the Live Oaks dropping all of their blooms most of which seem to go into the ponds. Thank goodness that this is nearly over as it is very messy, everywhere and not just in the water.

The pictures show the amount of new growth already in the ponds.

Altogether, I repotted a dozen or more lilies plus sundry other water plants and then, spent some time trimming the remaining lilies getting them ready for others to plant. I took a 5 gallon bucket full with about 30 or so plants to the Pond Meeting which happened to coincide with my planting efforts and they were all gone within minutes. I still have at least that number remaining in the tubs which I plan on taking to the next meeting which is our Annual Plant Swap. I also had a few other people stop bye to get some of the plants for their own ponds.

Potting lilies is not hard work although somewhat messy and the old potted material does not smell that great either.. First of all, it requires getting into all of the ponds and removing the pots to the side and then getting out of the pond to transport them to the table, upending the pot on its side to get the lily root (tuber) out of the pot, and then trimming it back to a more manageable size that has new growth that is already sprouting. These are then placed back into the pot on top of a layer of clay type dirt, adding fertilizer tablets and then covering it up with more dirt so that just the new growth is showing. I usually place pebbles on the top to try to discourage the big Koi from washing the lily out of the pot with their tails as they love to get at the roots. The whole pot is then submerged back into the water about a foot or more down.

Following all of the repotting efforts, it required that I get back into the ponds to place the pots which I did. This year, I am trying something different in an attempt to get some of the lilies to last long enough to flower and that is, to place anywhere from 6 to 10 lilies in each of the big ponds. Maybe, if there are so many, the Koi will leave them alone. In some cases, I had used the 18 inch tall pots which I just stood on the bottom of the pond and already, the ponds are covered with lily pads and I noticed that we already have a bloom. First lily bloom of the season.

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With everything growing so fast, it is hard to keep up with all of the trimming and raking but it is a labor of love and quite enjoyable. I need to get my riding mower repaired to cut the grass alongside of the road. Seems like every year, I have to have something done to that particular piece of machinery before it will start. I have other mowers so it not like I have to use the riding mower.

Darn, the pump on the stream has just stopped. I wonder what is wrong with it, Just blocked up or maybe worn out. Stay tuned for the next story…

The Second Fish Rescue.


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Mayfield Park

As I mentioned in the previous blog, I worked two fish rescues this past week. The one in Georgetown is the subject of that blog. This one was in a place called Kempner which I have never heard of. When I first received the email from Sonja asking for help with her fish, I had no idea that eventually it would lead to a 75 mile one way trip.

She explained in her email that caring for the pond was getting too much for her so she was going to close it down completely and would like someone to come and rescue the fish and find them good homes. We conversed and I made arrangements that I would visit her on Saturday. She sent me a Google Map of where she lived and the shortest route to get there as I had never driven up to that part of the State  which is another reason I agreed to make the rescue.

Basically, the drive was up Hwy 183 North for most of the way towards Killeen and Copperas Cove with a couple of tricky turn offs onto Hwy 190 before taking FM 1630. My GPS was only good so far and in the end, I had to rely on the printed Google Map for the final directions. It was an interesting drive and it is only when you drive on the less travelled roads do you realize just how big and beautiful this Country really is especially with Spring just breaking out.

I pulled up to the house which was on a country road way out in nowhere although with houses all the way up and down the street to be met by the Man of the house who opened the gate for me. He directed me to the pond and I was able to drive right up next to it which is always a plus. Then Sonja came out and greeted me with a thick German accent pleased to see that I had arrived early. We chatted for a bit and exchanged histories of the why’s and when’s of out arrivals to the States. All of this while the pond was pumping out.

Sonja told me that she had built the pond 15 years ago by herself except for a couple of the big rocks that required help and had maintained it herself in the interim. It  was her hobby but for the last year, it had started to get more work than she could handle and she admitted that she had sadly neglected it. She had very recently changed out the pump, a 3600 gph unit and was looking to sell it as she had no more use for it with the pond closing down.

It was obvious that the pond had been neglected. The water was very cloudy and it was almost impossible to see the fish. There was a huge of cluster of water lily plants growing in the middle that upon inspection, turned out to be just one lily. It had long overgrown the pot and was firmly rooted into the sludge on the bottom of the pond.

I put on my wellie boots, rubber boots to you Americans, and carefully climbed into the pond. Sonja was fussing over me the whole time so worried that I would slip and fall and indeed, the bottom was really slick but I managed to stay on my feet the whole time. With the water going down, I could spot the fish and went about the business of netting some them and handing them up to Sonja who transferred them to the containers.

I started to cut back the lily plant so that we could get it out of the pond it was so big. It took quite a while but eventually, I had it into smaller and more manageable pieces all of which could be repotted and would probably regrow. While I was working on the lily, Sonja and her Husband were trying to catch the remaining fish which were proving to be very elusive.

Finally, with the water level down and the lily out of the way, we were able to be very positive that we had netted all of the fish. Altogether, there was one very large Koi and 15 what I thought were black goldfish, all in beautiful condition regardless of the water condition. Fish are so adaptable.

We collectively reloaded my trailer including all of the water lily pieces and I carefully strapped everything in place. I told Sonja that the fish would probably end up in Mayfield Park which seemed to please her that many others would get the same pleasure out of them that she had.

I said my farewells and drove off trying hard to remember which roads I took coming up. Needless to say, the GPS was not showing the way back that I used to come up and redirected me at least 20 miles out of my way so instead of going to Cedar Park, I ended up on IH 35 in Killeen. Mumbling under my breath, I headed for Mayfield Park in Austin.

Being a weekend, the Park was very busy but luckily, there is an unloading zone right next to the entrance with no one in it. I parked and uncovered the trailer and loaded one of the containers onto my dolly. As I wheeled it into the area where the ponds are located which is very rough stone, the container managed to slip off the dolly and it and fish were everywhere. A couple of people stopped and helped to pick them up so that I could get them to the pond we had worked on the previous Saturday. It was over a week and I figured that the chlorine in the water had already dissipated. The second trip was uneventful and just like the time before when I was unloading the goldfish, I had a lot of help and questions from the younger members watching the whole process. Altogether, I placed 13  fish into that pond.

I repacked my trailer and made my way home with the Koi and a couple of the black (Gold) fish which I put into the 5000 gallon pond where they happily mingled in with the other fish that already reside there. In the opinion of at least one member of the Pond Society, it might turn out that the black fish may not be goldfish after all but common carp although the previous owner stated that she bought a black goldfish way back and has no recollection of any carp added to her pond.  Regardless, they are still beautiful fish in very good condition and will make a good addition to my pond and Mayfield Park. Koi are very close members of the Carp family anyway.

All in all, another successful fish rescue and I got to meet some more very nice people plus enjoying a trip to a different part of the State. Altogether, I covered around 160 miles because of the redirect to Killeen.