The New Year


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I wrote a poem the other day
that was pretty gloomy in it’s own way
it was not really my intent
but that is the way it came out bent
on announcing to the world
just like a flag getting unfurled
that time is passing and with every breath
that is one less that we have left
what I really wanted to say
that with every passing day
we have a chance to make things right
for what we have done in our previous life
and the way that we have lived
good or bad what did we give
did we honor our neighbor and not be a schmuck
or the homeless man down on his luck
give to charity or just a plain helping hand
did we even think or try to understand
that this world is really a beautiful place
and that can be said for the whole human race
basically everyone wants to be friends
and we have our differences but in the end
we can work it out no need for a fight
and the sun rises each morning such a beautiful sight
and the dawn breaks and brings on the light
and we say Hi to our neighbor to make things right
and tell them to have a wonderful day
as we both go our chosen way
and we give the homeless man a buck
it’s not his fault he is down on his luck
and the sun shines on another great day
it’s good to be alive you say
to make the most of the time we have left
who knows how many breaths we’re bereft
and it really doesn’t matter the count
make the most of life before it’s closed out
chase away those gloomy thoughts
and enjoy the life that you have brought.

Written 1/6/2018
Use this link to the previous poem

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My Sister


My Sister at 20 years old.I talked to my sister today. She lives in Florida with her Daughter Sheila and her Husband Gary as she has for the last probably twenty years or more. Every year, we try to talk around the Christmas season our way of staying in touch. Neither of us can die because we have this annual ritual that neither of us can break. We have not seen each other since they all moved to Florida and although I keep saying that this is the year and I am going to make that trip, so far it hasn’t happened.

My sisters name is Barbara Eileen but for some reason has gone by Peg or Peggy her whole life. There is probably a story behind that somewhere but I have not heard it. Peg is ten years older than me which makes her ninety two (almost). She sounded upbeat when I spoke with her, getting a little hard of hearing and spends a lot of time in a wheelchair but she still has all of her faculties. No sign of any of those nasty old peoples conditions like Dementia, thank goodness. Our Mother was 94 when she died so Peg looks like she has every chance to make it that far with any luck. To keep herself busy, she does a lot of knitting. Being ten years older than me, she actually participated in World War 2 and joined the ATS serving as a truck driver. She made it to Europe but not on the front line as back then, women were not allowed anywhere close to the fighting. How times have changed. Following the end of the war, she came back and married a Scotsman and they raised two kids, a boy and a girl. They also volunteered to let me live with them for a few years during another unsettled time in my crazy upbringing for which, later on as I matured, I was forever grateful.

Now, sixty six years later, we talk on the phone several times a year and reminisce of days gone by when life was so much simpler and we were both younger and in good health. Ah, those were the days. If only we could wind back the clock…

I wrote a similar piece a couple of years ago which can also read by following this link.

Written 12/27/2017

McKinney Falls State Park 9-30-2017


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A view of the trail

With the recent rains, I knew the trails would be muddy in places and I wanted to walk on something more solid. I opted to walk the Hike and Bike trail at McKinney Falls as it is a 3 mile circular trail that is very nicely blacktopped and made for easy walking. It has one very steep place where there is a sign that bicyclists should get off and walk although I am sure that most  of them view this as a challenge more than a warning. It would get a little hairy if any hikers happened to be on the trail at this exact point as there is a blind corner that you can’t see around until too late…Come to think about it, I have yet to see a biker anywhere in this park probably that except for this one spot, the trail offers no real challenge to them.

Picnic area at the Upper Falls

A five picture panorama of the picnic area

I broke all of my rules today as normally, I very rarely get out to the Parks because of the numbers of people that use them on the weekends. It’s not that I am anti-people but I like to hike for the solitude amongst other things and that can be difficult with crowds of noisy families each with at least a dozen kids per family all talking and running at the same time. Mckinney Falls also has swimming facilities which is another attraction for these families and large groups of people.

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Another 5 picture panorama from the reverse direction

I parked in the lot by the Upper Falls and geared up in my usual fashion. I’m sure that I make quite a comical sight with my two cameras and binos strapped to my chest, my camera bag with a couple of other lenses on my back, my two walking poles in my hands and topped off by my wide brimmed hat complete with added kerchief around my forehead to soak up the sweat. Oh yes, add two water bottles to that strapped to my waist. I probably am carrying at least 20 pounds of gear, great for my muscles and cardio but awful tiring.

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A panoramic view of the Upper Falls

I walked past the Upper Falls and the throngs of people into the park area that is set up with picnic tables and firepits and is very nicely maintained. Onion Creek runs off to my right and I wandered over to take a look. The water was a muddy brown color from the recent rains and not very appealing so I got back onto the trail proper and started to walk. I took several shots of the park area and of a couple of the very large trees on the trail and have turned them into panoramic shots. I met several people on the trail and conversely, several passed me going in the same direction. None were families with kids as they preferred to be at the Falls area. Although I heard birds, I didn’t see any to take any pictures of. I passed an interestingly shaped tree and took a couple of pictures of it besides various flowers. The pictures below also include views of the trails.

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This tree is made up of 5 different pictures in order show the whole thing. I wonder how old it is?

 

Arriving back at the Falls, I chatted to a few people and took several pictures.  There was a photographic class going on the park area which broke up as I was taking pictures of the Falls.  Not sure what the subject matter of the course was about.

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There are 8 pictures in this pano

Altogether with my additional wandering around, I covered a little over 4 miles. I noticed that my old body and legs were nowhere near as tired as when I walk the regular trails. Must be that this much flatter blacktop trail is much easier to walk and for that I was extremely grateful.

Written 10/3/2017

Time to Spare


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I sat around with time on my hands
post surgery for all that it stands
no bending or lifting and no heavy task
no driving while taking drugs till the last
one is gone and I’ll be drug free
to get back to some form of normalcy
as surgery not only has pain
the after effects are slow to gain
and you wish that you had not made the choice
that is while you still had a voice
in the move that you made to better your health
is the pain worth it you ask yourself
the bottom line is unless you die
then yes in the long run to help you fly
any pain and discomfort are a temporary thing
in a very short time I’ll be ready to sing
that even though a few awkward days
pass quickly and in so many ways
better I will feel than I did before
glad that I chose the pain to endure
pain is really too strong  a word
to think of it as pain is absurd
and like things uncomfortable in this world
it will get better as time unfurls.

Written 11/10/2017

Feeling Low


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I went to see my Ear, Nose and Throat specialist a while back because of feeling light headed and sometimes a bit dizzy. Usually, these sort of balance problems are associated with the inner ear and although I have had them before, they usually clear up within a couple of weeks. This time though, they weren’t going away hence the visit to the Doc’s.

He ran me through the usual series of tests including having me on a balance chair where he was able to turn me upside down and twist me around in the hope of reproducing the symptoms. No such luck.

The next step was to schedule an MRI just to make sure there were no other bad things lurking in my body creating the problem. This was a simple enough procedure except that it was bloody noisy even with the earplugs they provided.The tests came back with no visible signs of growths or things that didn’t belong inside me. So, back to the Doctors for more discussions.

I first met this particular Doctor around 37 years ago when I was playing football, soccer to you Americans and managed to break my nose heading a ball and colliding with another player’s head. I just had time to see the ball fly into the goal before crashing to the ground after the impact so at least, it was sort of worth it, sort of. While he was treating me for the nose, he noticed that I had perforated eardrums and problems with the stirrup bones in my ears and told me in no uncertain terms, “I can fix that”, resulting in three more surgeries to partially correct the problem. He was able to improve my hearing quite considerably for which, I have been forever grateful. With the addition of hearing aids, my hearing is around 85%. With my playing days long behind me, and the ear surgeries out of the way, at least my visits to him were more of an annual checkup or the occasional ear cleaning for wax build up until the recent ones for the dizzy spells.

He then scheduled me for a Ct Scan to see what might show up. Again, another simple procedure and much quieter this time. I already had an appointment to go over these scans where he showed me the results pointing out what they all meant. The end result was the sinuses were almost completely blocked, he called them diseased, and he recommended that I schedule surgery which he would perform to open the sinuses back up. Luckily for me, I have a great health plan from my previous employer of 23 years which actually was one of the reasons for switching jobs at a lower wage in the first place. I also get a good pension. Planning ahead so to speak.

I put it off for a few weeks mainly because I was working with my neighbors schedule as she was going to drive me to the surgery and then bring me home.  They were out of town for a couple of weeks so we  finally arrived at a date and had a 6:30 am drive to the hospital where there was a long wait until my turn came.  Clara stayed at the hospital all the time that it took and then brought me home. She also took it upon herself to stay with me following the surgery, fixing me a meal and fussing over me until I was asleep. And she checked up on me first thing  the following morning. She lives directly across the street moving into her house the same time as we did ours and I am forever in her debt.

The surgery went smoothly enough as the last thing I can remember is the burn as the Anesthesia went into my arm and then I was out waking up a couple of hours later with a sore head. Today is Day 1 of the recovery. I feel pretty good considering and there is no residual bleeding and no real pain. Breathing is little awkward as it is mostly through my mouth as the sinuses gradually settle back down. I am able to check on the ponds and fix any filters and other problems.

Where would we be without friends and neighbors. I would certainly be up the proverbial creek if it wasn’t for my neighbors. Living alone by choice does have its drawbacks as a wife would be useful at times like this. She could also clean the house and do the cooking, maybe but is the end result worth it. Nah, I don’t think so.

Thank goodness for neighbors and friends.

Written 11/10/2017

Looking and Hoping. Cheerful pictures for a winters day…


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After my recent encounter at least from the viewing perspective of the Osprey, I made another trip to Reimers Ranch in the hope of spotting it once more. I wanted more pictures and hopefully this time, a video that in my excitement the last time out and not wanting to miss a single moment of the display the beautiful bird was putting on for me, did not try to change my camera’s settings.

I was all prepared this time and even brought a tripod with me ready to go but someone, somewhere forgot to tell the Osprey about our appointment. Consequently, no Osprey shots as it wasn’t there at least at the same time as I was.

I wasn’t about to waste the opportunity for another camera shoot or a hike. I had parked in the next to last parking lot, known as River View Parking Lot that had access to one of the climbing areas and there was only one other vehicle in the lot besides mine. As per my usual routine, I slipped into my gear, grabbed my water bottle and walking poles and set off on the gravel trail that follows the Pedernales River from the very top of the gorge towards parking lot number three known as River bend Parking Lot.  The gravel trail does not necessarily keep close to the river bank and in some places the trail is probably up to several hundred yards inland.  There are a couple of spots where it is close enough to actually see the water and I spent some time taking pictures of the far bank with its cliffs all in the hope of spotting the Osprey.

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When I reached the third parking lot back towards the park entrance, I made my way down towards the river. Both this entrance and the one by the fourth parking lot are difficult climb downs even though they do have semblance of steps. I took pictures of the climb back up at the fourth parking lot where I had parked to give an idea of the difficulties at least to old men like me. Maybe not so much to younger and much fitter people with a far better sense of balance than I currently have.

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After having safely making my way down, I took the lower trail which actually takes you along on the river bed. At this time of the year, the water level is low but it is still a bit muddy in some places. I came to a large rock that did not have a way around without getting wet feet that I could see so I scrambled back up the bank until I hit the middle trail and made my way along it towards the fourth parking lot where I had parked my car all the while looking for the Osprey.

I finally came to the trail leading up to the exit and as I climbed, I took the pictures shown above. As soon as I got back to my car, I changed out of my wet clothes into something more comfortable and was sitting and enjoying a piece of fruit when I heard voices and the clink of metal which I guessed to be from the occupants of the other car in the lot. Sure enough, two guys appeared followed by a young lady bringing up the rear all carrying their climbing gear.  The clink of metal was from the pitons that the guys carried on their climbing belts. We exchanged pleasantries as I continued to pack up my gear.

What to me seemed very odd was that the young lady was dressed only in the skimpiest of bikinis. The rock face is some distance from the river so I did not think she had been swimming and there was not enough sunlight under the trees for her to work on her tan. As usual, it was difficult not look at her as she and the two guys horse played around a bit. I wanted to ask her if she had been climbing wearing only a bikini but didn’t have the nerve and was left wondering. Seems to me that the rock face could be awful painful on her body and although regular clothing is not very protective, it at least help prevent the scrapes and cuts. This turned out to be the mystery of the day that is along with the non appearance of the Osprey.

I jumped into my car, taking one last look at things I can only dream about and drove off. I pulled into the second parking lot where I had noticed some yellow flowers that were covered with butterflies and bees and took some pictures.

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I made my way home after having covered a couple of miles on this hike. As I was there for the purpose of getting more pictures of the Osprey, I was perfectly content with the small hiking numbers. After all, it doesn’t always have to be about the walking and the fitness. Most of the time it’s about the pictures and the opportunity to take them.

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These are all panoramic shots made up of several pictures.

Written 10/28/2017

Still Looking for the Osprey – 10-21-2017


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I think that from here on out, every time I take a hike at Reamers Ranch County Park, I will be looking for the Osprey that I was so fortunate to see just a couple of weeks ago. This was true of my last hike on Saturday, October 21st when I broke another one of my unwritten rules and went hiking on a Saturday. As it is late in the season, most of the people were families and kids at the swimming end of the park in the Pedernales River.

I parked in the second parking area that has a long concrete road that leads down to the river that can be used to get small boats into the water. There is no parking at the river itself  so those that drive down have to then bring the vehicles back to the lot and walk back down the hill and do it all again to get the boats back. Maybe that accounts for the reason that I don’t think I have ever seen a canoe or kayak or any type of boat on the river from the park side. The lucky landowners on the far side of the river have canoes and kayaks parked close by the water (but above the flood line) and again, I have still yet to see any of those boats actually in the water. DSC_1245-Pano

But I digress. I readied myself to go walking which takes me a good 15 minutes as I change my socks and boots, strap on my waist camera belt for the long lense camera and also the bino’s, put on the Cotton Carrier harness for my second camera and finally, slip on my backpack with essential supplies like tools to tighten the Cotton Carrier locking units, spare camera batteries, flashlight and spare batteries, a small first aid kit and waterproof gear. If I am out for a long hike, I will not only have two water bottles but also fruit for that extra energy when I need it.

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I walked down the concrete road towards the river and got on the river trail heading upriver to the area that I had previously seen the Osprey. Being a weekend, there were several other hikers using the trail and we exchanged cordial “hellos” and “great day for a hike” and such comments as we passed each other. I walked on taking pictures of the trails and the views across the river and always on the lookout for the Osprey. As usual, there were lots of buzzards taking full advantage of the wind currents as they wheeled and plunged across the sky with the occasional flap of the wings to find the next spiral of air but none of them were the bird I was looking for. This is where the bino’s come in so handy as I can see the birds up close and personal to tell the difference.

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I continued along the river trail for a bit before deciding to do an about turn and make my way back the way I had come. I don’t usually do this but I wanted to walk to the “Beach” area to see the people who were making use of it and maybe get a few pictures. It turns out that there were a couple of families in the water enjoying themselves with the kids making lots of noise as they splashed around. I did not turn the bend to see the rest of the beach area content with the view that I had.

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I made my way back up the concrete road to the Parking Lot passing more people on their way down. The lot had filled up quite considerably from when I arrived and was a mix of people on their way down to the river and those that had just came back from it. Families with young kids were mixed with adults of all ages several of whom were beautiful young ladies in bikinis who again, just like the previous time that I wrote about were so full of confidence and seemed totally unconcerned for their almost nakedness in front of a lot of people. With the few sneak peeks that I got in, I could understand their confidence as to how beautiful they looked but at the same time, the prude in me worried about how this behaviour is now the accepted norm. Not for me to worry much about as I should be grateful that these young women provided me a recollection of how life used to be many years ago when the female body was not a stranger. The passing of the years may play havoc with the body and desires but luckily the eyesight is still good.

I jumped into my car after taking off all of my gear and changing my clothes. I always end up totally soaked after any of these exertions and always carry a spare change of clothes knowing that I most certainly will need them. I made the drive back and detoured into Dripping Springs just to stop at Starbucks to enjoy on the way home.

The question arises, “Do the beautiful girls make up for not seeing the Osprey” and the answer is “Unfortunately, no”. Damn it, I must be getting old…

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Ran into this fine looking fellow and he stood still long enough to take his picture.

Written 10/27/2017