Austin Pond Society Christmas Party November 2017


The Members at the Party 2017

The Austin Pond Society held their Annual Christmas Party at the November Meeting which is the last meeting of the year. Around 55 members showed up, many of whom were dressed in their Christmas finery and with several wearing strange looking hats decorated in a Christmas motif. All the members were really getting into the swing of things as on Sunday afternoon, several of them had come in to set up the tables and decorate the room in the Christmas Spirit and the setting was very conducive for a Christmas Party.

Christmas Party 2017 Slide Show from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The food comprised of Roast Beef and Ham provided by our very popular Steven Monfrini, with all of the fixings many of which were supplied by the members who also supplied the deserts and appetizers. There was a lot of food but by the end of the evening, it was all gone. There were several bowls of punch to drink, some with and some without so the members had a choice.

Christmas Party 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The guests of honor were Mr and Mrs Klause from the Austin Police Department who were here to pick up the many gifts that the members had each brought in for the kids in need so they would at least get a gift on that special day.

Among the several things available to the members were a Blackjack Table complete with a professional croupier the proceeds of which went towards the Mayfield Ponds Project. The players each donated $10:00 to the cause and played until they lost all of their money. There was another game in which the members had to do something with Candy Canes but I have no idea what that was.
There was also an area that was in the business of making funny hats complete with flashing lights for anyone brave enough to wear such a contraption and enter into the Funny Hat Contest to be held later in the evening.

Christmas Party 2017 food line from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The first part of the evening was devoted to the very important business of feeding our faces which we all proceeded to do with much gusto. Following that, Jeannie our President took charge as she went through the very small amount of business that needed to be conducted. The main and very important part was the appeal for someone, anyone to step up to fill the vacancy for the Pond Tour Chairman without whom, we will not have a Pond Tour as we know it, next year. She then introduced the new Board all of whom with the exception of Keith as Secretary, are all returning members. The New Board officially takes over January 1 of next year. Following the announcements, Jeannie called upon Ted Paone as this past two year’s Pond Tour Chairman and presented him with an Honorarium for all of his efforts.

Christmas Party 2017 Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

With the business out of the way came the very difficult task of choosing the Tallest Hat Winner along with other members who were sporting all kinds of flashing and blinking contraptions on their heads. Everyone really got into the spirit of things.
The winner of the Tall Hat was Catherine Bilbrey with Nancy Reinert as the runner up.

Christmas Party 2017 Crazy Hats from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Another member, Karl Tinsley brought in his latest work of interest which is a Sand Table that he had constructed along with all of the programing that it takes to make it work. Basically, it is comprised of a flat box about 2 inches high and about 2 feet square with a glass cover sitting on a small table. In this box is a covering of sand on the bottom and a single large ball bearing. Karl has written software that drives the ball bearing into marking grooves in the sand in a designated pattern including his favorite Alpacas, of which he and his wife Linda own several. It is fascinating to watch as the bearing moves up and down creating pictures in the sand.

Quote from Karl
The sand table uses a magnet mounted on a computer-controlled mechanism to move a steel ball through sand, creating stunning designs. The table and the designs it draws were created by Karl Tinsley. You can see some videos of the table on my youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLaaBO5pY1QpVtX9WOEYiw.

Here are some of the sand pictures that Karl has created


He has also put together a short movie showing the ball in action.

With the food and drink all gone and no more fun and games to play, the evening gradually wound down until the few remaining members stripped off the table cloths, straightened up the room and closed the doors on another fun and successful year for the Austin Pond Society. All that remains is to wish everyone out there, Happy Holidays and we hope to see you next year.

Our first meeting for 2018 will be on January 15 at the Zilker Gardens Botanical Center starting as 6:30 pm. Hope to see you there.

Don’t forget to keep checking the website especially in the MarketPlace section as the availability of used equipment and pond plants is always changing. If you have any of the aforementioned equipment or plants that you want to sell or give away, use this link to fill out the form.

Were they the “Good Old Days”…


Life and Day to Day things by a Pond Lover

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When I was young many years ago
and growing up in a time so slow
until the War to end all Wars
changed the way we were to grow
the telephone was here to stay
had been for a while and to this day
I remember that I looked in awe
at it when I tried to make a call

Back in those days with no direct dial
an Operator answered your call
and tried to help in any way
to place the call to have your say
not long after the War did end
Television became a household word
and though we could not afford our own
to friends and neighbors we would go.

Time does what it does by marching on
and computers entered into the fray
and the world has changed to something new
at first only just a few
soon everyone now knows…

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Taking the time…


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Have you ever taken the time
to look around you at the checkout line
and what is it that becomes known
that everyone has their phone
busy scanning just in case
as around the store they did race
they might have missed a call or two
and if they did what would they do
shrivel up and die because of the loss
maybe it was a call from their boss
or better yet one from the kids
telling her they are in a fix
and whatever the trouble may be
its instant contact so Mother can see
that they are OK no harm done
no need to hurry we’re having fun
and out to the car to make the drive home
once more to check on the phone
just in case between here and there
another text comes in wanting to share
did you get the ice cream this one reads
and on it goes until one needs
to turn it off to get some relief
for personal time there is no belief
all the time that you have the phone
you will never be alone.

Written 9/22/2017

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Decisions, Decisions…


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Old age crisis…

I can’t remember that I ever had a mid life crisis. Come to that, I can’t even remember that I ever had a mid life. I suppose that technically that should make it around my 40th birthday as I am currently, 81 years young. From what I can remember of my life back then, everything was as good as I could have expected it to be.

Seeing as how I missed out that time around, I am working towards an end of life crisis instead. I suppose “end of life” is a little strong as I don’t know when that will be, hopefully in the very distant future. As the exact date is unknown to any of us earthly beings, I can only push on with a full life expectancy of one hundred and twenty five. Anyway, it does tie into my current thought processes for to put it bluntly, I am restless and am choosing my right to have that crisis that I missed out on before.

To some, it is a no brainer. I own my home, am comfortably off and do not have a wife to nag and berate me into doing things that I don’t want to do or spending money on things I don’t want to buy. On the other hand, I do not have a readymade caregiver and so need to plan for the future. Instead, I live alone with two dogs, Ginny, a mini Dachshund and Pete, a fat little Chihuahua and Ellie, the one remaining very old cat. I do have about 250 or so fish friends out in the five ponds but “friends” is probably not the right word. I feed them and clean the water and generally get a lot of pleasure from just watching them swim around.

But, I am restless. I am having recurring thoughts of selling this place and either buying 5 acres out in the country and building a mini home on it so that I can disappear off the face of the earth, buying a travel trailer and spending the rest of my days driving around these United States and eventually parking it when I can no longer drive at wherever I end up. Or finally, even returning to my native England to live out what remains of my life and to become a burden on whatever family remains over there.

My Realtor friends tell me that a house with 5 ponds would probably be hard to sell unless I was extremely lucky and the right pond enthusiast happened to come along or if I was willing to take a price cut. So now, if I choose any of the three options that are nagging at me, I would need to close down at least 3 of the ponds which by itself, is not a small project.

So, as you can see, my mind is in a quandary. The easy thing to do is to work on this over a period of time like the next 6 months, closing down those three ponds and leave the two remaining 5000 gallon and 6000 gallon ponds and just landscape around them. I would probably need to do that anyway if I want to get top dollar for the property whenever I choose to sell although all that “Top Dollar” will do is leave more inheritance for any remaining kids.

Looking at the three options that are nagging at me and in no particular order, the following thoughts cross my mind. Why go back to England? It is always raining over there and much colder which was the prime reason for coming here in the first place. People have already got their winter coats on. So, put the England idea on a back burner but don’t discard it just in case this country goes down the toilet with Trump in the White House.

How about the travel trailer idea. I suppose the big question is, “I wonder how much longer I can drive without being a hazard to myself and anyone else out there on the roads”. I would need to buy a bigger vehicle to comfortably tow a trailer of any size and both of them would depreciate over the years. I suppose that as long as the trailer was in decent enough shape at its and mine final resting place, wherever that may be, that is all that is important so that I could park it and live in it for whatever years remain.

Finally, 5 acres in the woods with a mini home on it would require work at the beginning in putting it all together but I am not averse to hard work and as long as I am physically capable, it would help to keep me in shape. Not that I am planning on running a marathon or returning to the soccer fields anywhere in the near or distant future. It would probably cost me $100,000.00 to buy land, buy a mini home, put in a septic system, run water or drill a well and get electricity to the property which is a lot of money but unlike the trailer idea, would appreciate and be worth more when eventually it gets sold. It would also take time, at least 3-6 months to build.

Thinking about it, there is one more way to go and that is to do the travel trailer routine and then when I can no longer safely drive or get tired of it, to buy that 5 acres in the woods and park the trailer on it to live out my remaining days. That way, I could save the cost of the mini house. Damn, all of these ideas and no still no solution.

So, I have laid out my thoughts and am no closer to solving the dilemma that I am in. About the only positive out of it all is the obvious need to close down a couple of ponds regardless of what other choices that I make even if I don’t make a choice at all and stay here until I get shipped out, feet first.

Mid life crisis, what mid life crisis, how about the workings of an old man’s mind instead, making a crisis where there is no crisis. I have either got to live with it the way things are or make a decision about my future.

Written 9/22/2017

A Beautiful Day


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It’s going to be a beautiful day
the sun is shining along the way
the rain has gone to a different place
and the day is now too good to waste.

I have sat indoors these past few days
watching it rain at a furious pace
but now the sun shines and there’s work to be done
to clean up the garden which sounds like fun.

Cut down the plants too damaged to live
clear the space new life to give
to the plants that remain behind
they will recover all in good time.

Storms and wind are Nature’s way
of changing things and have her say
the way she wants the world to look
as she turns the page of her open book.

We do not understand her ways
so powerful and violent on these days
and yet today there is just a faint breeze
rustling the leaves up in the trees.

And the sun is shining to greet the day
the warm breeze is blowing as if to say
come out and play with me for a while
and I’ll tickle your face and make you smile.

I open the door to venture outside
and breathe the fresh air no need to hide
for Nature has come through once again
the clouds blown away for me to begin.

Day 4 – Harvey


Today is Day 4 of the Hurricane Harvey Saga in my part of Texas. The storm as predicted, moved back towards the cost and is still pummelling Houston and the surrounding area as it slowly makes its way down the coast towards Louisiana. Compared to what those guys have had to put up with, Austin has got off very light. All we had was about 7 inches of heavy rain causing low water crossing closures and some minor flooding.

For myself, very little damage from the strong winds. Lots of leaves and small branches down but no major tree limbs on the ground. A lot of the plants are laying a bit sideways and I will have to wait and see how many straighten back up before chopping them down.

The 5000 gallon pond had one pump that quit working and I replaced it this morning. I also cleaned out the other 4 pumps on this pond as the water has turned a real muddy color. There is probably at least one upturned pot that has dumped its clay into the water and it will take a few days for it to settle out.

I already mentioned the cypress tree that has blown over in the 6000 gallon pond in the last blog but as far as I can see that is all of the damage that we sustained. I plan on getting into the ponds tomorrow and cleaning out the leaves and cutting back the damaged vegetation. As I write this, the sun is shining brightly and there is hardly a cloud in the sky. Nature is such an amazing thing how the weather can change in the blink of an eye.

Oh yes, the stained glass window made it through OK and now I will take it down out of its tree and find a more stable place for it so I don’t have to worry when the next storm hits.

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Too Much Rain?


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I was looking for something to do
my brain was acting without a clue
as the rain outside came teeming down
and the wind blew hard to add its sound
we were going through an unusual remake
of three days of rain without a break
as the hurricane moved way inland
and off to the East with its heavy rain bands
the weatherman says we are not through yet
as more of this wet stuff we will get.

Texans complain when they’re in a drought
things are dry and withered no water to spout
so a hurricane that brings lots of rain
to make things green and growing again
is a welcome site for those who hold dear
or live off the land the rain brings good cheer
usually one day is enough
two maybe and thats pushing your luck
get to three and then it is time
for rain to stop and for sun to shine.

Actually I kid a lot
as we will take any and all that you got
to fill up the lakes and rivers too
for when rain comes it’s something new
and we never know how long it will last
or how quickly it is a thing of the past
as the sun scorches down at one hundred degrees
baking the land and shading the trees
and before long you will hear people say
“Sure wish some rain was heading our way”.

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