Fellow Bloggers


Ashampoo_Snap_2017.08.24_15h43m41s_001_I have been thinking about blogging and why we do it. When I open the page to read some of the couple of hundred blogs that I receive on a daily basis, it is quite obvious that the Authors have many different reasons why they write and the subjects they choose are so varied. That is what makes blogging so unique that so many of us are writing without duplicating what the rest of us are saying. In many cases, the subjects are the same but the words, pictures and presentation are different.

As I peruse the daily offering, it is very clear to me that many bloggers are driven by forces unknown to the rest of us that compels them to blog several times a day and every day of the week. They must be independently wealthy, retired, maybe a stay at home Mom (or Dad), maybe even a Handicapped person or have nothing better to do with their lives than to give them the sort of time that writing good and newsworthy blogs of any quality can take. The question then arises, “Who are they writing for” because if most bloggers or blog readers are like me, we don’t have time to read more than one blog from one individual a day. The rest are eliminated with an active push of the delete button. Maybe the blog I read is not the best one of the available selection for that day but I will never know. I often unsubscribe from a writer because he or she has posted five (or any multiple number) or more blogs one after the other.

As many of you know if you follow my blog, I write a lot about what I consider interesting things that happen in my life as do many of the rest of you. I write about the hikes that I take or the events that happen with the Austin Pond Society and occasionally, will write a poem or two. I am an avid Amateur Photographer and take lots of pictures which I like to share with my readers. In between the post production of the pictures and writing the actual blogs not counting going on the actual hikes or events i am writing about, many of the blogs take several days to prepare. I forgot to mention that I am retired and spend a great deal of my time working on each blog before I am satisfied that it is ready to post. Even then, I do NOT post on a daily basis and try to limit my posts to twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays with the very occasional third post if something important comes up. Currently, I am scheduled out ahead through the second week of October and I try to always have a bit of a cushion.

This is just the way I do it. WordPress tells me that I have 2312 followers and my readers know what and when to expect a blog. I try not to overburden them with too much of my content as not everyone is interested in what I have to say. It took me a while to realize that and came as a bit of a shock especially if I had just completed what I thought was a particularly good piece. “What do you mean, you aren’t interested in this great piece. You got to be as I just wrote it and it is GOOD” flashes through my mind. Many of you are just being polite and acknowledging the fact that I have written the blog by giving me a “Like”. Bloggers that apologise for not having been online for a few days should save their breath as probably no one has even noticed their absence. That is the way that it is. We are all replaceable and often are.

Really, that is what it comes down to. Getting a “Like” is very important even if only for our own self esteem and the only way to get them is to reciprocate with other Bloggers. You “Like” them and in turn, they will “Like” you. So, those of you that are writing several pieces a day or even blogging on a daily basis every day of the week should not be surprised and you should realize that probably only one (any one) of your blogs received a “Like”. The rest ended up in the Trash Bin not because they are bad blogs but because most of us do not have the time and or probably the interest to peruse all of yours and others blogs that we are being bombarded with.

For myself, I think that in the future, I will find a few more bloggers to add to the selective group of Bloggers that interest me and devote the little time that I want to spend, enjoying them. I already know who most of them are as we have been following one another for a long time. New ones will have to be exceptionally good and interesting to join my little group. I realize full well that the number of “Likes” on my own blog will go down but I am prepared to accept that in order to unclutter my inbox and get back more of my day to spend on other things. Anyway, I would rather have comments than “Likes”. I seem to have hit a plateau regarding “Likes” and I am not really prepared to spend any more time on them. I can come up with several subjects that I don’t care for. Food and Religion are two and an 81 year old man is hardly interested in Fashion, Clothes and Makeup. Blogs that are full of Self Pity or being dumped by another person are to me a Bloggers way to get the rest of us involved in their particular brand of misery. Life is too short for that. I don’t care for blogs where the author uses unnecessary swear words as that is not my style either. Not that I am a prude as I break out in swear words all of the time. It’s just that there is a time and a place. Some verse I just don’t understand so that doesn’t appeal to me. I could go on and on but you get my point. Blogging has to reach a person in their mind as a reader and most of us have very limited horizons.

For those of you that choose to blog to the excess, if that is what it takes to satisfy your needs, then go for it. Just be aware that many readers are like me and will only read one blog a day from you so the bottom line is that whatever message you are trying to get out there is just not reaching the readers that you want it to.

Too much blogging or too many blogs especially on a daily basis is NOT necessarily a good thing.

Austin Pond Society After Party 2017


At the invitation of one of our sponsors, Texas Ponds and Water Features and its owner Matt Boring, the members of the Austin Pond Society and many of the pond owners, who had so graciously put their ponds on this year’s Tour, were entertained to Hamburgers with all of the fixin’s and a goodly supply of beer following everyone’s exertions of the day.

The event was held at a soon to be ‘Cosmic Coffee and Beer Garden’ that is still under construction. There are a couple of food trailers already on the site. The new place will be serving craft coffees and locally made beers and cocktails. The food trucks are Leroy and Lewis BBQ and Lotus Joint- ‘Tacos con Chutney’. Eventually, they will also feature live music. What is interesting about this location is that Matt built a fair sized pond and waterfall as an added attraction. It has a couple of large Koi in it and is surrounded by a whole variety of Cactus in pots. Just a little unusual. Another unique attraction is the main pole that holds up the canvas covers has a face carved out of the top. Someone said it was a replica of Willie Nelson or maybe they were just hoping…Click on any picture and then use the side arrows to move along.

There were probably around 50 people that showed up and braved the inclement weather spending their time talking about the Tour and the many things that happened along the way.

Below is a small collection of pictures shot at the event.


Finally, somebody had started a raised garden which contained vegetables. Very industrious especially if the added attraction of fresh veggies are included in the food trailer menus.
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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?

Dripping Springs Farmers Market 2-1-2017


dsc_4906I was in Dripping Springs the other day to shop at Tractor Supply where I get my fish food and anything else that appeals to the country boy in me. I swear that I should have been born a farmer as I have such an attraction for the country life. This time around, I bought a couple of heavy duty tee shirts to add to my collection and wandered around looking at all of the neat stuff and wishing I was 50 years younger. Hell, I would settle for just 20 years younger.

On the way back out, I pulled into a Farmers market that is held every Wednesday in the middle of the small town. I had noticed it before but had never bothered to stop but this time, as I had my camera with me, pulled into the parking lot.

There were around twenty or so vendors set up each doing their best to sell their wares. I stopped at a tent that sold Empanadas and couldn’t resist the temptation of buying one of them. It was nicely hot and as soon as I got back to the car, I ate it enjoying every bite of the tangy taste of Mexican cooking. I could easily have gobbled down another two or three.

Music was provided by a guitar player who was very good. There were the usual merchants selling fresh garden produce. Another was selling fresh meat and many more specializing in a large variety of goods.

Well worth the stop if you are in Dripping Springs on a Wednesday afternoon.

Another Fish Rescue 2-3-2017


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The peacocks at Mayfield Park

Alex, Jeannie and myself participated in yet another fish rescue yesterday. This one had been in the works for a couple of weeks when I received the original phone contact from the owners. The problem we had was finding a home for the fourteen or so Koi that lived in the pond. I had pretty much as many as I could house in my ponds and we needed to find homes for the others.

Jeannie Ferrier is President of the Pond Society and she and her husband Steven Monfrini, have worked several rescues this year. She has a rescue tank set up  in her backyard next to her 10,000 gallon Koi pond and has a very interesting arrangement for changing out the rescue tank water as she replenishes it with water from her pond. Depending on the number of Koi in the rescue tank  at any given time, dictates how often the rescue tank water has to be changed.

We had to hold off on the rescue until the new rescue tank  was completed and ready to take more fish and yesterday, everything was a go.

I arrived early at the rescue pond and set up my pump to lower the water. Turns out that the electrical outlets by the pond were not working which accounted for the water being so dirty. I had brought a 100 foot cable with me so in next to no time, my pump working on the water level. While that was happening, I filled the three transport containers that I have with pond water ready to put in the fish. The existing pond water was very dirty and we had had to wait until the water was low enough to even see the fish. I caught the Koi, a couple of which were of  a good size and handed them to Alex who transferred them to tanks in his truck and my trailer. We were lucky that we were able to drive up right next to the pond making it really easy to transfer the fish. We chatted to the owners, Dave Phelps and his Mother, who had lost their Husband and Father which was the reason for closing down the pond. They also made a small donation to the Pond Society for our efforts in rescuing the fish.  We also rescued several pots of water lilies and they went into my trailer as we planned to drop them off at Mayfield Park to donate them and in the meantime, store them in their ponds to overwinter.

We left the rescue site although I planned to be back to pick up the rocks that surround the pond and made our way to Mayfield Park. I had only been there once before and although I had an idea of its location, had to use my GPS system to get directions. Jeannie and Alex beat me to it and were waiting for my arrival. We loaded the lilies onto my dolly and dragged them to the first pond where Alex dropped them into the water.

Next stop was at Jeannie’s house and the rescue tank. Even though originally, I had decided that I didn’t need any more Koi, the color and beauty of some of these helped me to change my mind and I ended up taking four of them home. Alex took a couple and Nancy Reinert, alerted by a call from Jeannie, met us and took a couple more. The rest were transferred into the rescue tank awaiting their turn to find new homes at any of our members ponds.

I drove back to my house and carefully placed my four Koi into the 6000 gallon pond where they quickly assimilated in with the others. I unloaded my trailer and backed it into my garage ready for any other task that may come up. I noticed that the lights on the trailer need some work so that will be my next project, when it warms up.

The pictures are by Jeannie taken with her cell phone.

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.

Time is Wearing Things Out…Part 4 – Microwave Oven.


dsc_4353Just when I was congratulating myself that we had survived the 3 things that have recently gone wrong at my house, along comes number 4.

When we (I was still married at the time) moved into this house, 31 years ago, one of the first things that I had to do was to install a microwave over the electric oven. The house had been designed for it and there was a recessed space already built into the cabinets. There was no outlet close by but the house had been wired for one. It was a bit awkward because of the tight working space but I managed to install an outlet box in one of the overhead cabinets. These type of hanging microwaves have a frame attached to the wall and then the oven sits in that frame and is secured by a couple of long bolts from the top.

For 30 years, the old GE microwave has given me very good service over its long life. That is until Friday evening when I was warming my dinner and all of a sudden, smoke began pouring out all over the place. I quickly turned off the oven and opened the backdoor to let the smoke out. I expected any minute that the smoke alarms would go off but with the help of a fan, I cleared it all out.

Quite obviously, the microwave had reached the end of its useful life and I would have to replace it and I had to resort to the stove top and a frying pan to warm up my food.

The next day, I was in luck as The Home Depot was holding a special sale on appliances which included microwaves. I wandered up and down the aisles finally settling on another GE that had a recessed turntable AND two different shelf spacings and was on sale for $148.00. I really liked that idea as in the old one, if I placed something like a cup on the turntable, I had to take the shelf out to give enough height.  Turns out that the one I had chosen was the only one they had and it was a display model. It didn’t have any nicks or dents so I decided I could do without the box as long as everything else was there. The clerk summoned help and another guy came over and unscrewed the oven from its place on the stand and put it in my cart. I paid for my new oven and made my way home all prepared to install the thing.

As I mentioned, it had been 30 years when I installed the last one and I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I had done way back then. So I made a cup of coffee and sat down and read the instructions just to refresh my memory. That helped a lot and it all came back to me of what I had done to install the original oven. I scouted around and found the two screws that were holding the old oven in place and also located the vent hood behind a panel and undid all of the duct tape that covered the joins to the oven. I found the electric outlet I had installed in one of the cabinets and unplugged the old oven.

At that point, I really could have used some help in getting the old oven down. It is not that it is that heavy but it is off balanced with most of the weight on one end and it was in an awkward place with me working off a step ladder. Not only that, it was right over top of my electric oven which has a glass top or whatever that material is and if I dropped it, there really would be a mess. I put some heavy covers over the oven top to cushion the weight of the microwave and without giving it any more thought, took out the screws, leaned the oven forward, lifted it off of the holding track and lowered it onto the top of the covers. That was the worst part as it was comparatively easy to lift it off the oven top and onto my dolly to take it outside.

It turns out that the track for the new oven is almost identical to the old one so I was saved one step of the process by not having to exchange the two. The next thing was to make sure that all of the existing holes would all line up and after some measuring and remeasuring, decided that I needed to do some work on the lead cord outlet hole in order to not pinch it when the new oven is screwed in tight. Luckily, I have all kinds of tools including several keyhole bits that can drill large holes through wood. It took a while to drill the hole where I needed it. At one time, the drill bit came loose and fell out of the drill and I still haven’t been able to find it several days later. I switched to a different one to finish the job.

Satisfied that all of the holes would line up when needed, I turned my thoughts to the oven itself thinking about the steps involved in lifting it into place. It would have been a simple job with two people but as there was only me, I had to get ingenious. The new oven is not quite as heavy as the old one. Whether that is because of a change of materials or different design, who knows but I was grateful for the few less pounds. My problem was that I had to lift the oven up fairly evenly so that I could hook the bottom of the back over the clips in the already attached frame and that is with one foot on a step ladder and the other on the counter top. I gave it some considerable thought and wandered out to the workshop for some ideas. I spotted an older cooler that I use to transport fish when I do fish rescues. This one is old enough that it made of metal unlike the modern ones that are made of plastic. It had a perfectly flat top and was almost the exact height from the top of the electric stove to the frame. If I could first lift the oven onto the cooler which was already placed on top of the electric range, I knew I could reposition myself to put the new microwave in place.

I must have wasted 10 minutes re-thinking and worrying about my plan until I said to myself,”What the hell” grabbed a hold of the microwave, lifted it and placed it on top of the cooler. It was lined up perfectly so I lifted it again and it slipped over the frame exactly in the right place. I pushed back hard against the wall making sure that the electric chord was not getting pinched and put the first bolt into the top with a few turns of the screw to make it safe before turning my attention to the other bolt. With it secured, I tightened them both down so that the microwave now fit snugly against the cabinets. I stepped down and admired my work and it fit to my satisfaction.

All that remained was to  align the oven top to the ductwork and screw them together followed by duct taping the joints to complete the seal. I replaced the panels off the cabinets that I had unscrewed, plugged in the new oven and reset the time. I had to try it out so I heated a cup of water with an English Breakfast tea bag and it worked perfectly. I sat and looked at my work as I enjoyed my English cuppa.

Clean up was a cinch as I collected all of my tools and bits and pieces as I took them all, along with the cooler that had proved to be such a godsend back out to my workshop real pleased that it had gone so smoothly. It was not the installation that I had been worried about but I was concerned that I might not have been able to lift it into place by myself due mainly to the awkwardness of the situation There is still hope in the old dog yet…

Let’s hope this is the last thing for a while. This is getting expensive….