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

Memories – Written 9-14-2017


Richie smaller (1 of 1)The days are long and my heart is cold
thoughts of Richie are NOT growing old
as quickly as I want them to be
to lift the weight of grief in me.

I worked outside around the shed
the area that the snake had hid
waiting probably in fear
as he watched the little dog draw near.

Poised and ready no rattle to warn
a natural reaction for which it was born
striking the dog to preserve its life
as the law of the wild provokes such strife.

Richie let out an almighty roar
a sound I had never heard before
as he flew out from under the shed
knowing that he was already dead.

He looked at me with his big brown eyes
pleading for help with no disguise
as I rushed him to my local vet
who worked to save my little pet.

Alas for it was not to be
as he died the next day peacefully
and I brought him home in a box
my faith in God forever lost.

I blame myself for Richie’s death
for not cleaning out from under the shed
and leaving a place for the snake to hide
from the dog exploring with curious eyes.

Everywhere out in the garden I see
traces and memories of what used to be
holes dug here and a dirt pile there
and trails through the plants leading who knows where.

Even though there are Ginny and Pete
their personalities do not compete
and are different in the ways they shine
and cannot replace what’s left behind.

Maybe I should get another pet
one that likes to dig and yet
it would never be the same
even with the very same name.

So all that remains is for me to heal
knowing that I will always feel
love for the little dog that I lost
as I remain behind to bear the cost.

If the Gods are kind to me
one day I hope that I will be
with Richie in another life
one where there is no strife
and pets never do grow old
its called “The Rainbow Bridge” so I am told.

 

 Rainbow Bridge 

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

Harvey – Day 3


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I checked the computer and watched  the news before going to bed around 11:00 pm on Saturday evening. There were tales of doom and gloom on both of them with dire warnings of flooding and high winds. I figured that there was not much I could do unless the roof blew off the house in which case, I would be busy rescuing important stuff, like pets and electronic gadgets including my cameras before jumping in the car (hopefully) and heading out. Or if this was not possible, hunkering down in any room that was still dry if I couldn’t get the car out of the garage.

Hoping for the best, I went to bed and fell asleep in no time flat only waking when the call of nature prodded my brain to use the bathroom which sadly to say, happens all too often nowadays. I didn’t hear the storm as it continued through the night although my cell phone went off a couple of times with weather alerts telling me to be aware of “strong winds” and “lots of rain”. Sometimes it helps to wear hearing aids which I remove at night enabling me to sleep through anything but the loudest thunder.

I awoke the next morning and looked out of the french doors at the yard. As far as I could see, apart from things laying in different directions from the wind, I could not visibly see any damage. The stained glass window is still hanging in the trees although a little more lopsided than before. I still need to find it a new home when the weather gets better.

Choosing to get up even though it was before 8:00 am, I showered and dressed and went outside to see the extent of the damage up close. There are leaves off the trees everywhere. Many plants are laying lopsided as the wind has blown them over and apart from the water in the 5000 gallon pond being very dirty and of course the downed Cypress tree in the 6000 gallon pond, everything doesn’t look too bad at all. It looks like one of the pumps has stopped working or is blocked in the 5000 gallon pond. I will get to that later. All of the ponds are full to the brim with the overflows working nicely to let some of the water run off.

I wandered down to the bottom of the garden to the area know as Murmuring Creek which, as I have mentioned many times before, only murmurs when we get a real gully washer and although it was very obvious that it had flooded a little bit, it was nothing like I had expected.

All in all, it looks like my part of town has gotten off very lightly. The weather map shows the main part of the Hurricane to have moved off to the East and we should probably only be getting strong winds and rain for a couple more days. If there is anything to report tomorrow, I will follow up then.

Raining Cats and Dogs.


cats and dogs

I took another drive today
this one to the  store along the way
as I was running out of food
which my fridge did not include.

It was raining cats and dogs
which I have never understood
how did that saying come about
as there were no animals underfoot.

I hurried quickly into the store
as the rain came down just like before
I grabbed a cart and walked inside
to get the few things my list described.

I quickly bought the very few things
and spent more time at the Higi screen
trying to see if I was alive
as my blood pressure and pulse did provide.

Satisfied that I was not dead
to the checkouts I quickly went
paid my fee and grabbed my cart
back to the car ready to depart.

It was still raining those same cats and dogs
as back to my house without further loss
of time as I needed to get home
with my groceries no more to roam.

I got back home to my cats and dogs
they were not raining I am at a loss
they were perfectly dry no sign of rain
and pleased to see me back home again.

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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….

 

Farewell Ellie…


Animal Cairn

The cairn under which at least eight of my pets are buried

My beautiful Ellie who I recently wrote about, has joined Brown Cat in that special place that all cats go to when they pass on from this earthly life.

She did not handle the passing of Brown Cat very well and it was obvious that even though they were not close, she did miss him if only for the companionship of another cat in the house. She totally changed her lifestyle from being an indoor cat sleeping on the bed all day to spending hours outdoors in any of the special places that she found to sleep, on the deck, under the deck, in between the trees and under the shed. If I didn’t bring her in at night, she would probably have spent all of her time outside not even coming in to eat. Even after eating, she immediately wanted back outside again although I wouldn’t let her out until the morning choosing instead to listen to her plaintive meowing in protest.

We had a rainy day and true to form, she again slipped out using the doggy door. I looked for her as the rain pelted down but could not find her anywhere. Eventually, around 12:30 that night, I located her under the deck totally soaked and very dirty and managed to get her indoors where I gave her a bath, sort of. Have you vere tried bathing a cat? I do not recommend it as they have teeth and claws and put them to very good use. I eventually got a lot of the dirt off her and dried her and put her in her room.

The next day, when I let her out, she immediately headed for the doggy door but only made it halfway and collapsed on the floor. I could see she was in trouble so I put her in a carry crate and off we went to the vets (again). Although I love my vets dearly having been with them for the 32 years I have lived in this house, they have seen far too much of me these past couple of years.

I left Ellie with them and waited for the call confirming what I already knew the news would be. True to form, Dr Donop, called and we talked about Ellie. Turns out that she had an open wound on her leg that I had not noticed before even when I bathed her.  With her outdoor life, the flies had gotten into it and they had made it much worse with their eggs and maggots and Dr Donop could not find any way to sew up the wound in order to treat it. We discussed the alternatives of which there were very few options and in the end,  based on his recommendations, I told him to go ahead and put Ellie to sleep and out of her suffering. It was something I was prepared for this time, not like Richie. I told him I would be back later that day to pick her up.

I walked out to the garden carrying my spade and shovel and headed for that special place next to the big pond where so many of my pets are buried. Normally, the digging is hard but as we had recently a lot of rain, it was somewhat easier than normal. Being Texas Hill Country, the limestone is usually only a foot or so below the surface which limits the depth of the hole and I make up for it but covering everything up with rocks.

I buried Ellie next to Brown Cat and Richie, the most recent of the many dogs and cats that lay in this special place. I stood for a while and said my goodbyes to Ellie as I have to all of the pets buried here. She was the last of the many cats that I have had the pleasure of living with over these many years both here and in my previous home out in the country as I do not plan on getting any more. My little menagerie has dropped radically in size from an all time high of eight dogs and three cats to two very small and very noisy dogs. What they lack in size, they truly make up for with their noisy barking at anything that moves out in the yard, perceived or real. Ginny is about eight and Pete around four so they should be around for awhile, hopefully, the rest of my lifetime.

There are stone statues of dogs and cats on the cairn.

In retrospect, this has been a bad couple of years as far as pets go in the Allcorn Residence. Four of the last six dogs and cats that I have taken to the vets have all come home in cardboard boxes and then there was Abigail who drowned in the septic tank. In fairness, with the exception of Richie and Abigail, all of the others were getting on in years and their time had come. Ellie was at least 18 years old and she had a good life.

I will miss her as I do all of the ones that have gone to that animal heaven up in the sky. They all asked for very little and in return, gave me their unconditional love. A man could not ask for anything better than that.

Rest in Peace Ellie. You will be missed.

Written 10/8/2017

 

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.