More Ramblings


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The Stained Glass Window in the Tree

I have just finished a poem about Hurricane Harvey, the second in the series. Will there be one tomorrow or the day after? Who knows as it all depends on what the weather will bring in that time. There is still a lot of storm left and plenty of time for it to reke havoc and damage. Quite obviously, all outside activity is curtailed for a while except to go out and check the ponds occasionally to put right any minor things that may be malfunctioning. So far, everything is holding up well.

I do have a stained glass window that I hung in one of the trees a few years back. Unfortunately, the branch I hung it on is now dead and I need to get up there and take the window down before the wind breaks the branch which has to be in the near future somewhere. That is nature’s way of trimming the trees, let the branches die until they are rotten and flimsy and then blow them down. Unfortunately, there is sometimes something wrong with the plan as it doesn’t take into consideration anything that may be situated under or hanging on the rotten branch. Make a note to myself to take down the window as soon as the storm leaves.

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View of the Vegetation in the Garden from the Deck

The rain that we are getting out of this storm is very welcome.  We have had around 80 days of 100 sometimes plus degree weather this summer and we are not through yet. The State has been in a drought like forever. Funnily enough, I was thinking just the other day that I have not set up the soaker hose systems that I have ready to go every summer. I have hand watered a few times on a couple of plants but not an excessive amount and the garden and plants have held up well.  Everything is pretty much native plantings and they are very drought tolerant. Except when I have to do a partial water change in one of the ponds which pushes the water bill up around the $60.00 mark, my normal consumption is around $23.00 worth of water. One old guy living alone sure makes a difference and yes, I do shower every day.

All of the animals are fast asleep. Pete is in his usual place on the couch and I can hear him snoring from way over the other side of the room. Ginny had to have her teeth cleaned two days ago resulting in the extraction of a couple of them. Now she is feeling sorry for herself stretched out fast asleep on the bed. I don’t know where the cat is, probably asleep somewhere in one of her hidey holes. Must be a great life to be a pet in a good home.

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A Different View of the Garden and the Native Plants.

Maybe I should take a leaf out of their book and join Ginny and take a nap…Or I could watch the English Premier League on television but  wait, I like to watch those recorded games in the evening. There is always the cat’s litter box that needs cleaning and a whole bunch of dusting and furniture polishing needing attention that I have been putting off for a couple of years or so. Or I could think of something else to blog about and add it to the couple of months worth that I am already scheduled ahead. I know,  while I am making up my mind, I will make myself another Latte to help me to think….

 

Is it Raining Outside – Harvey?


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I can’t believe it is finally true
the sky has turned a different hue
as clouds roll in all dark and grey
and rain is forecast along the way
we have had this news before
with weathermen making promises galore
telling us to watch the skies
and in the end they are telling lies
as nothing happens except a few clouds
which hides the sun beneath a shroud
these quickly pass along the way
and the sun returns brightly to have his say.

This time is different it’s plain to see
that these clouds are full and before they flee
will dump a bunch of rain on the ground
spreading new life all around
for without rain the plants will die
as they raise their faces to the sky
ready to swallow every single drop
and even if it rains non stop
the earth will take every bit from the sky
using all of her magic the gift to deploy
and everything will turn a wonderful green
just like it is at the start of Spring.

The reason there is so much rain
is all due to a hurricane
which has a name that does not cause fright
even though it packs a might
the hurricane’s name does not reflect
that awesome power that it can get
from something that Mother Nature has planned
and when the storm blows onto the land
uprooting trees and damaging homes
creating havoc wherever it blows
for Harvey is the name of this storm
and like all storms it will conform.

Evacuate and drive inland
are the golden rules for those by the sand
find shelter where the wind is not strong
a couple of days not for long
until the storm has blown itself out
and so there can be no doubt
that it is safe to return back home
and you will not be alone
in hoping that everything is still intact
and a place to live when you get back
for the power of the storm is a mighty force
as the wind and the rain cause a discourse.

Wait, the rain is slackening off
and we have only had a few drops
back to the computer to check the map
it’s just a lull a little gap
the next wave is due it’s plain to see
and this one is a darker green
with tinges of yellow nothing plain
denoting extra heavy rain
all I have to do is wait
to have all the rain the land can take
and then we will be pouring down rain
in the grip of Harvey the Hurricane.

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.

APS Meeting September 2017


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Koi Person of the Year for 2017 – Alejandro Villa

The Austin Pond Society held its September Meeting at the Zilker Park Meeting Room on the 18th of the month attended by almost forty of its members. There were several new faces in the group and a couple that we hadn’t seen in awhile. Always glad to see new and returning members.

They were treated to a meal of chicken, potatoes and gravy, rolls, salad and desserts, lots of desserts most of which was consumed by the hungry members, me included. Thank you Stephen. Following the meal, Jeannie Ferrier, the President, awarded the Koi Person of the Year Award to Alejandro Villa . It was originally voted on way back in the summer but Alex had missed a few meetings and this was the first opportunity to present the award.

Below is a video of the presentation.

Koi Person of the Year 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Following this presentation, Barbara Lenhardt, our Programs and Special Events Rep introduced the speaker for the evening, Jeff Price of Price Landscaping. His subject matter was the plants in and around our ponds and how to improve the appearance of our yards. He generated a lot of interest and there was a lot of Speaker/Audience participation. His presentation was well received.

Below is a video of Jeff and his presentation.

Jeff Price of Price Landscaping 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Jeannie then moved on to the Business Section of the meeting and discussed many things including the equipment for both the Mayfield and Zilker Park Projects which was delivered to her house yesterday, toys for Blue Santa who will be the Beneficiary at this year’s Thanksgiving/Christmas Party, AAGC and the survey that had been circulated and filled in by the members to name a few of the items.

As it is almost time to vote on the new 2018 Board. Julienne Smith, the current Secretary and head of the nomination committee took the floor and went down the list looking for nominations for the different Board positions. Even though she received nominations for most of the positions, many of which will be filled by returning officers, it was very noticeable that there were no nominations for the Pond Tour Chairman which, next to the President, is arguably the most important position each year. Without someone to lead this effort, there won’t be a Pond Tour and although the Tour is not called for in our by-laws, it is our main money raiser for our chosen charity. Without the Tour, we will not be making any donations or providing several hundred people a weekends worth of entertainment or at least twenty pond owners their opportunity to be famous for a day with a spot in the limelight. We will vote on the Board positions at next month’s meeting with final votes for any outstanding positions closing at the November meeting. The Nominating Committee is Julienne Smith as the Chair and BJ Jenkins and Philip Smith making up  the Committee. If you are interested in any of the positions on the Board, you can contact Julie at secretary@austinpondsociety.org . For more information regarding the various positions use this link.

Following the Nominating Committee, Jeannie then moved on to discuss the survey that we all filled out regarding the Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy (ZBGC) taking over Austin Area Garden Council (AAGC ). More can be read on this subject by Pam Penick. You will need to scroll halfway down the page to read about the interview between Cat Newlands, executive director of Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy and Pam Penick. The membership approved by a show of hands their approval of the agreement. This was the last of the business and the meeting closed following the drawing for the door prizes.

The Business Video of the meeting

Business Section September 18, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

A few of the members.

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Margaret on the left is the Librarian. Barb on the right, the Publicity/Special Events

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Julienne Smith and Philip

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Ellen Filtness and her husband. Rodney and Keith in the blue tees in the background.

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Nancy and Husband, Barb, Ted Paone,Jeannie with Jeff Price. Glen is in the background.

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A special guest…

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Good Food…

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Ted, Barb, Jeff and Jeannie

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Speaker Jeff Price

Post written 9/19/2017

What is Wrong with the World?


DSC_5100What is wrong with this modern world? It is a question that everyone should be asking themselves.

The news we read or listen to every day is always about something horrible that has happened somewhere or to someone in this country or across the World. I understand that to make things newsworthy require some sort of sensationalism but it is very sad that so much of it relates to violence in one form or another that man is inflicting on each other. It is not just this country but many that are having this problem.

For better or worse, we are in an age of instant notification. If something happens that someone, somewhere deems as newsworthy, whatever it may be, it is broadcast around the world in an instant and becomes common knowledge to anybody that cares to read or listen to it. So, the question arises, “Was the world always like this and we just didn’t learn about it prior to the Internet and other forms of information sharing?” Because of the instant notification, is it creating a copycat instinct in people’s mind to be bigger and badder than the person they just read about?

When I was growing in England 70 years ago, life was so simple. There were no TV’s or computers. We didn’t even have a phone and our only form of contact with the world was by radio and the BBC. We would be glued to it listening to the news about the ongoing World War 11 and in the early years, wondering if jerry would cross the Channel and attack us. When the war ended, it took a long while before TV was introduced and with it came the first changes to a quiet way of living which would never ever again, be the same.

I came to America when I was 32 years old for the betterment of my family and myself mainly because I was given the opportunity. In the early years, life was quiet and reminiscent of the English way of life with an American twist to it and although there were personal setbacks along the way, I adopted this country as my own and became a citizen. Now, as time goes by, I am becoming increasingly aware that things are changing. Sure, I am an old man now and not much longer for this world but what I see going on around me makes me so very sad.

Parents no longer take or have the time to teach their kids about simple things like common decency and good manners and being polite and not so demanding. It is an uphill battle as the kids are bombarded from all sides with information both good and bad and they are forever to be found with their noses glued to their cell phones. I was in the doctor’s office the other day and these two kids came in probably around 16-17 years old. The girl had a recently broken nose which still included two black eyes and a huge plaster strip over it. They saw the doctor and came out with the girl leading the way. At the door leading out of the office, the girl opened the door and held it open to let the guy go out first. My immediate reaction was incredulity that she, the injured one would open the door for him and he never made any move to get to the door first or to offer her any help. Where were his manners or his concerns. Has he never been taught what manners are? I guess the bigger question may be that do the younger sexes consider themselves to be equal and things like good manners or treating the female sex in a special way are no longer important.

I see families walking around the Supermarket and the kids that are in their teens have their noses glued to their phones. There is no conversation within the family unless one of the parents asks one of the kids to get something and immediately following that, the noses are back into the phones. It makes you wonder what sort of a family life do people have nowadays.

Which brings me back to where I started. It appears that violence is on an increase and everything can become a lethal weapon. It is no longer just a gun or a knife although these are usually the weapons of choice but now the automobile joins the list of murder tools. What is really frightening is the lack of moral character that these individuals that commit these murders display. Whether the problem is drugs or alcohol or just a plain ole chip on the shoulder, this country and the world in general are becoming less and less safe.

Do I have a solution? I wish I could say that I did but I don’t. Sometimes there is a lot to be said for the good old days when life was so simple, comparatively speaking. Modern gadgets are supposed to help us and make life better and from many points, they have with the advances in medicine and man’s trip to the moon bringing with it modern technology. I guess there is a price to pay for all of this advancement and it is showing up in all of the violence. People are empowered like never before and when they feel like it, take the law into their own hands and only after do they realize the consequences.

Too bad as this country has so much potential but the quality of leadership is declining and along with it, the American Dream and the American Way of Life. If I was a religious man I should say, “God help us all” about now but I doubt that even he can do much to help a world that is turning on itself. Or maybe, that is a part of His plan given the way we treat the world. Maybe, we are reaping the rewards for all of our efforts to destroy the world through Global Warming. Are we being manipulated?

Town Lake in Austin 8-6-2017


DSC_0580I hadn’t been out for either a hike or a photographic trip in over a week and wanted desperately to get back out again. One reason was to fill my mind with other thoughts as I grieved over the loss of my little dog, Richie and I had to get my mind back onto regular things. I didn’t want to take a long hike as the weather is still so hot and very uncomfortable so a short walk on the Town Lake trails seemed like a very good idea.

I opted to park in the lot next to the Zachary Scott Theatre Center off Lamar Boulevard and wander along that part of the trail as far as the bridge over the creek on Barton Springs Road. As it was a weekend, the trail was very busy with runners, cyclists, people with dogs, people without dogs, lovers walking hand in hand and families pushing young kids in strollers, the obvious end result of lovers walking hand in hand.

You name it and every kind was out on the trail.

Turning my attention to the Lake, I saw that it was filled with people in canoes of various types and on surf boards all paddling around in different directions as they enjoyed the Texas summer day on the Lake. Many of the metal canoes had the name of a rental company printed on them. Others were probably owned by the people paddling them. There were dogs everywhere either swimming alongside or actually in the canoes or on the paddleboards. Many of the people, especially those of the female gender were dressed in the barest minimum of skimpy bikinis with lots of flesh showing.  Many of the guys had their shirts off to catch the sun on their bodies and although I didn’t see any ladies in bikinis who shouldn’t have worn them, I did see many of the gentlemen whose portly shapes indicated to much good living and not enough exercise. Paddling a canoe around in circles barely counts as exercise and the amount of visible flab is hardly the way to attract the ladies.

I wandered along taking pictures and wishing that I had brought the camera with the telescopic lens with me as well as the one that I carried to zoom in on some of those long range shots. I reached the bridge where the trail crosses Barton Creek and took several pictures of the view into the city and back up the creek in the reverse direction. This part of the Creek was very popular with lots of people in canoes of all shapes and sizes and the inevitable paddle boards. I even saw a pair of swans who, apart from keeping a wary eye out, totally ignored all of the activity going on around them. The people were good to as most gave the swans a wide berth. Interesting how Nature eventually blends together given the right circumstances.

I passed one very hot looking policeman and chatted to him for a bit. When I said that it was a bit warm, he remarked that it was overtime so was worth getting a little hot. I agreed and moved on. I wandered back along the same trail to where my car was parked taking a few more pictures here and there as I went. All in all, an interesting afternoon.

The total trail length is 10 miles and can be broken into smaller segments by crossing any of the bridges to complete the loop and there are several different places to park to gain access to the trail. On any given day, there are always people out on this trail.

The slideshow is of the different views of the Lake  especially of the people in the watercraft.

Town Lake 8-6-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Writing Poetry.


DSC_0340I stuck my head outside the door
confirming what I knew before
that the temperature was already high
more than I wanted to give it a try
although not yet peaked, it was morning still
the afternoon would be in for the kill
and the thermometer could go high
maybe all the way to one hundred and five.

Today’s heat might well be
the hottest day that we will see
although a lot of Summer remains
fifty five more days the Calendar claims
as Autumn starts September 22nd
when it comes it will feel like heaven
compared to what is outside my door
although we have been here many times before.

I would like to go on another hike
so that I have something to write
but I do not want to brave the heat
and inside the house will be a treat
I can sit and write to my heart’s content
bad poetry as my thoughts relent
as words spill out in a jumbled mess
putting my brain to the test.

Somedays the words really flow
and on one of those days is when I know
that the words that I write will sound fine
and the poem will reach it’s end in rhyme
for it is not easy to write good verse
especially when it is at it’s worst
and the only reason to try to write
is the temperature outside is so bloody high.