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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Thoughts on Life – June 13, 2017


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It seems that when I choose to write
unless it is about a hike
or maybe something in the yard
or in the ponds which is not hard
as Nature is a willing guide
showing more than what she hides
and everywhere I choose to look
is another page from her open book
as beauty all around me grows
as the flowers are putting on a show.

What really bothers me
are the things that shape our destiny
as many things we can’t control
are forced upon our very soul
as we have very little say
in the things that happen day to day
as others the decisions make
they claim doing it for our sake
even in this Democracy
it is plain for all to see
that only one percent are doing fine
while the rest of us can only whine
and wait for the next election day
when we hope we have our say
and ours are the guys that make the rules
and we the ones who voted them in
will still be taking it on the chin
as our guys will no better be
than the ones already history.

Now let me see where was I now
as I turn on my computer to read the show
trying to stay abreast of things
looking to see what this day will bring
and reading about the same old stuff
just as though there isn’t enough
of pain and suffering and shootings too
why act this way I haven’t a clue
and Trump and his group more rules rescind
and Nature is taking it on the chin
and the Rich get richer with no help from us
and the sick get sicker with no one to trust
or to give them a helping hand
and the same is true all over the land.

I have stopped looking at the news
it is such a depressing view
to read all about such terrible waste
and Global Warming can’t make a case
the birds and animals and Parks and States
all are starting lose this race
as the idiots in charge keep tearing things down
all because of a billionaire clown
whose only interest is money and fame
and is playing a dangerous game
and has no thought for this Earth
and the damage which can’t be undone
remembered most as the one
The Man Who Let in the Sun.

I refuse to let this bother me
as outside of the window I see
plants and flowers putting on a show
and birds and squirrels some I know
as repeat visitors come to eat seed
at the feeders put out for their needs
and the Koi in the ponds are looking good
and the water is clear just as it should
and my pets are fine and in good health
and I feel good not acting my age
not ready to turn that final page
enjoying my life as best I can
without reading about that horrible man.

More Thoughts on Life…


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When I was young I never thought
that time was passing by
and that at the speed of light
I never wondered why
I took for granted that every day
even though time did fly
would go on forever and would always be
there until I died.

Now on the other end of life
time has passed me by
more days are gone behind me now
than the future can supply
how much longer that I have
before the call from high
to end this life here on this earth
and I say goodbye.

 

ZilkerFest 2017


DSC_5027-PanoZilker Gardens, situated in Austin, Texas, held their annual Zilkerfest on March 25, 2017. This is one of their big moneymakers that helps to defray the cost of maintaining Zilker Botanical Gardens as the City of Austin only finances a part of that cost.

Zilkerfest comprises mainly of individual and mostly garden related small time retailers who spend their time travelling the circuit of these types of shows. Most of them have been here before. There are also other booths set up by the local Garden Organizations that claim Zilker Gardens to be their base all belonging to AAGC, (Austin Area Garden Council). You can find out more about the 31 different organizations that make up the Council at this link.

As it happens, this show coincided with the Grand Opening of the Stream Project which consists of a major rebuild to a lower length of the existing (man made) stream that runs from the top of  the hill to the bottom  finishing up in one of the ponds at the lower end. This had been leaking for some time and was badly in need of repair. The Austin Pond Society donated $5000.00 towards the cost of the renovation and it was only fitting that they had their booth set up next to the new renovation.

The local model train enthusiasts had their tracks set up and had at least two trains running at the same time with others pulled off into the siding. They were located next to the main building. The trains are very realistic with smoke bellowing out of the stack and the wail of the whistle which by itself conjures up memories of times long gone.

It was a beautiful day and many people came out to purchase plants and other items of interest. Some came for the Food Court which had several interesting food trailers including a local brewery. Those that were partaking of their wares were serenaded musically by local groups.

Below is a slideshow of some of the beauty of Zilker Botanical Gardens

The Beauty of Zilker Gardens 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Below is a slideshow of the many vendors who helped to make this event such a huge success.

ZilkerFest Booths March 25, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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My 81st Birthday…


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As many of you know, I celebrated my 81st birthday on January 20th. By itself, there is nothing earth shattering about that except many people are surprised that I am still very much alive but no longer kicking as I gave up playing soccer at the ripe young age of 72.

Nowadays, my main form of exercise is to take long hikes as often as I can and when the weather is compatible for being outside. In between, I work on the 5 ponds that are in my backyard.

A lot of people offered congratulations and asked me to have a great and enjoyable day. Last year for my 8oth birthday, members of the women’s soccer team that I coached for many years, threw me a big party which was a lot of fun. This year, my celebrations consisted of buying a cheesecake in my local HEB store and gobbling down half of it at one sitting. I figured I would save the other half for the next day and therefore carry over my birthday celebration to an extra day. In my defence, I compensated yesterday by taking a 6 mile hike at Reimer’s Ranch.

By an odd quirk of fate, my birthday falls on the same day that the American Presidents are sworn into office. Yesterday was no exception and I had the dubious honor of having a birthday on a day when this Nation swore in a man of very questionable character to be the 45th President. I swear to all of you reading this that I had absolutely nothing to do with it and it is just sheer coincidence as I never voted for him.

Now that the birthday celebrations have settled down, it’s time to get back to work. If this past year is anything to go by, as fast as time is passing, I’ll be celebrating my 82nd in about 6 months time…

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….

 

Time is Wearing Things Out…Part 3- New Printer


dsc_4354As I said in the last blog, these things always come in three’s. The third part of this story is related to my printer. I have had a Canon Pixma printer for about the last 8 years and it has always given me good service. It was a bit frustrating way back then as I tried to hook it up so that it could receive signals by Wireless. It involved using a cable first and then fiddling around a bit before removing the cable and hoping that the wireless signal would hook up.Things have changed a lot since then as I discovered with this new printer.

Apart from the initial setup, the old printer has always worked just fine until yesterday. I tried to print something and the printer displayed a message to the effect there was a problem and to contact the service center which I did but to no avail. They could not help me and suggested that I needed to return it to a repair facility.

I loaded the printer into my car and drove a couple of miles to the Best Buy store where they had repaired my computer when it crashed a couple of years ago. The gentleman behind the counter explained to me that if the printer was under a Best Buy extended warranty, they would replace it for a brand new one. I told him the age of the printer and we both knew it was not under any sort of warranty. He did mention that if I bought a new Epsom or HP, they would give me a further 15% off the price and they would re-cycle the old printer. Apparently, printers are so cheap, they are not worth repairing. I thanked him and returned the printer to my car and then decided that I should at least take a look at the new printers.

I wanted to get a new Canon as I print a lot of pictures and Canon does a good job on them. I saw plenty of Epsom’s and HP’s and had to ask the sales clerk where the Canon printers were. He directed me and they had several different ones all with the prices marked down by some considerable amount. They even had one that was as cheap as $54.00 but I was afraid that the print quality would not be very good. I settled for a Canon Pixma MG7720 for which I paid $120.00 down from $210.00 and added a two year warranty for good measure.

I drove home with my new printer after asking the sales clerk who had carried the new one to my car if he wouldn’t mind taking the old one back in to be re-cycled. He willingly obliged and I drove home with my goodies.

Setting up the new printer still took a couple of hours. Transferring the contents of the supplied disk took 20 minutes alone. I worked through the process following the supplied instructions and the first problem I ran into was not getting the ink tanks to light up after they were installed. I eventually managed it but it took a while even over something as simple as that. The rest of the work was plain sailing, after the disk installed the drivers. The WiFi hooked up quickly and we were in business. As with all new things, the panel is different and of course, the ink tank numbers are also different so the 4 brand new tanks I have for the old printer wont fit. Maybe I can find someone on my Neighborhood watch who will take them.

The trouble with a printer is that it only gets used very occasionally but you can’t not have one for those times when you do have something to print or scan.

That makes the 3 incidents. Wonder if there is a 4th?