Old Friends


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I ran into a old friend the other day
in the SuperMarket as we shopped
both bachelors so shopping was not hard
as we were both set in our ways.

Neither of us could remember the others name
as we had not seen each other in a while
so we awkwardly re-introduced ourselves
and laughed as we commented about our slow brains.

The conversation turned to soccer
as that is where we first met
playing on the same old man’s team
pretending to be young again like no other.

We had a good laugh as we shared a joke
and shook hands as we went on our way
knowing better than to say, let’s get together
of that there was no hope.

We had not  bothered to stay in touch
and our mutual interest was long gone
as age had taken its toll
and the game no longer held us in its clutch.

I resumed my walk around the store
thinking about the years gone by
of the games we played and the people we met
and wished there had been much more.

Alas time has dealt us a terrible blow
weak in body and mind as the years pass by
and all of the friends we used to know
not even a memory left to show.

Written 9/26/2017

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Friends


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I recently just lost a friend
one I have known for many years
another Englishman like me
straight here from the Old Country
a funny guy with a quick dry wit
a story to tell that rolled off his tongue
the times together were never dull
and in conversations there was never a lull
a mighty athlete on the soccer field
he was paid to play the game we love
skilfull  enough to be a pro
which brought him here years ago
he retired from playing and became a coach
teaching young kids on how to play
with gift of the gab and his English wit
the kids just loved hearing him say
“bloody hell” his favorite expression when
one of them screwed up again
he had a minor heart attack
while out running on the track
and ended up with a stent
and a bypass with the intent
of making him fit and well to return
to the land of the living with no concerns
this was several years ago
and I am happy to say he lived a good life
and met a lady to spend his time
and even almost made her his wife
they lived together for a few years
sometimes even with a few tears
as they went through the usual unmarried woes
keeping each other on their toes
till finally just a few weeks ago
they had the most terrible fight
so bad that it turned off the light
of any remaining feelings they had
and left them both feeling mad
my friend called me to say
that he was flying out the next day
back to the land where he was born
and that I should not mourn
but to make the most of our friendship here
and to say goodby with good cheer
we shook hands and gave a hug
and said take care and stay in touch
but the truth of the matter as we well know
even email and smartphones all the go
we probably will never see
or even speak to each other again
I surely will miss my old friend
for his wit and humor dry as can be
as life goes on maybe we are apart
and his memories will live on in my heart.

A Walk at Pedernales Falls 12-17-2016


dsc_4740My walks now are governed by the temperature/sun forecast although yesterday was a bit of an exception for this time of the year. The forecast was for temperatures to be in the middle 70’s with a sunny day with a cold front moving in directly behind it very late in the evening.

Those sort of days are not to be turned down and I made plans to drive to Pedernales Falls and take a short and easy walk. First I called my friend who unfortunately had a prior engagement so I made plans to walk on my own. Nothing unusual about that as most of my walks are alone.

Ever since spotting the Bald Eagle a while back and rescuing a little dog on another occasion, every time that I drive to Pedernales Falls I am very wary of what is going on around me just in case I might get another glance at that eagle. No such luck this time but here’s hoping.

I arrived at Pedernales and this time, there were only a couple of cars in front of me. Not like the last time when there were at least 30 of them. I paid my $3.00 and told them I was taking a short walk. I planned to park in the Horse Corral and then take a walk to the dsc_4733Duck Pond and from there to head to the Fenceline trail, back onto the South Loop and then back to the starting point. I passed one other couple who were on their way back as I walked around the pond. There was very little in the way of wildlife on the pond or anywhere else with the exception of what appeared to be a Greater Yellowlegs that was hunting in the low water, which incidentally has created two separate ponds. As I continued walking around the ponds, a guy on a trail bike caught up with me and inquired if I was lost. I told him my plans to continue to the Fenceline trail which over its full length is almost 4 miles although I was only going to walk a part of that. He took off following the North Trail.

The walk was uneventful as I strode the Fenceline trail which is very easy walking. I turned off onto a very wide trail that was not signposted but I was hoping that it would bring me back to the South Trail which eventually it did. From there, it was a straight shot back to the Horse Corral where I met two ladies who were grooming their horses having completed their ride and they let me take their picture.dsc_4752lp1

I was parked on the opposite side of the Corral from them so I wandered over to my car and changed out of my wet clothes as the temperature had been hot enough for me to sweat. Altogether I covered 4 miles of very easy walking and was extremely glad that I made the effort to get out. The drive home was uneventful as I listened to a Stephen King story on Audiophone. No Bald Eagles and no little lost dogs.

Enjoy the video.

Pedernales Falls Duckpond Walk 12-17-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Thoughts on a New Year


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The old year has finally gone
as Father Time marches on
forward in inexorable ways
nothing to stop him and no delays.

Time is not under our control
we do can do nothing to fill the hole
as today is born and fades away
tomorrow is already another day.

I wonder what this year will bring
what new friends with songs to sing
how many will pass on along the way
having travelled their journey and had their say.

Life is an ever moving thing
time does not stand and wait to sing
instead it keeps moving at a rapid pace
as we struggle to keep up in this race.

Our part of this time is indeed very small
and this incredible universe so tall
and has been around for millions of years
and hopefully will last a few million more.

It matters not how long the time
as ours on this earth is the blink of an eye
and yet we know we don’t have the right
to destroy our world without a fight.

As others more greedy can only see
money and riches as they pollute what is free
the air and the sky the water and the land
their need to be wealthy as they take with their hands.

Destroying what is not theirs to destroy
what belongs to us all both girls and boys
and every living thing on this earth should succeed
and the world should not end because of their greed.

Hopefully common sense will prevail
to make these unbelievers fail
like hotter land and rising seas
and maybe even the air that we breathe.

It’s not too late and we have the time
to get the others to change their minds
for the one thing I am very sure
they can’t take it with them as they exit the door.

 

Looking Back.


dsc_4587Looking back over the year
with all of the things that I have seen
in my little world which is very singular to me.

It started great with a birthday cake
and friends who would not let me forget
that I am now eighty.

The summer with it’s one hundred degrees
were not very frequent this time around
and it rained… a lot.

Everything grew tall and even taller
it’s hard to see the ponds amid the plants
through the very lush greenery.

Friends died and new ones were born
such is the nature of life
we live and we are gone.

The country went mad at election time
choosing a man whose main goal in life,
is himself.

One of my long time and faithful doggy friends
died in my arms
and I was sad.

Another walked into my life
helping to fill the void
and I am glad.

I walked a lot and took many pictures
of this beautiful world here in Texas
and posted them for all to see.

The year is coming to a close
when you read this
there are just three more days.

Welcome to 2017.

Walking at McKinney Roughs with friends 11-16-2016


dsc_4459-panoMy friend Gloria called me in the morning to see if I wanted to go with them on another walk at our most favorite spot, McKinney Roughs Nature Center in Bastrop. I was ready to hit the trails again and it was a toss up between hiking with friends or chopping down overgrown stuff in my yard. It was really a no brainer making that decision.

We planned to meet at the main entrance and this time, I managed to beat them there. Usually, they are waiting for me. The Center had a lot going on one of which was a training session for First Responders. There was also a large group of kids who were learning about Nature. They were from a Private School.

Bobby, one of their dogs managed to get away from them as they got out of the car and came tearing across the blacktop to greet me. A really nice welcome, I thought as Gloria and George along with Nina, their other dog caught up.

I planned to take them on the inside loop of trails comprising of Woodland, Bluff Trail Loop and then back onto Ridge to complete the loop. These trails are very pleasant and easy walking with many park benches along the way. We passed a couple of other walkers going in the opposite direction but otherwise, we had the trail to ourselves.

Altogether, we covered a little over 3 miles and  we said our goodbyes in the Parking Lot. I decided that I would drive to the Hwy 71 Trailhead and take a look at the Zipline which was now open. There were several cars at the building but no one on the ziplines that started the sequence. Guess I need to come back on the weekend to see some action. It is not that I wanted to try it out but rather to take pictures of the other heartier and braver souls than me.

I drove straight home ignoring the danger signals from my body that were insisting that I drive into Bastrop to satisfy my Starbucks cravings. I kept telling myself that it could wait until I hit Austin which is what I eventually did. The last time I went to the Bastrop Starbucks just a couple of days ago, I waited in the drive up line for 25 minutes and that was after them not checking in when my car was at the ordering station. I had to order at the window but to be fair, they did not charge me for my drink. I have no idea why they took so long unless the whole staff were just having a bad day.

Below is a slide show of the hike.

McKinney Roughs with Gloria and George 11-16-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

What a party.


12649730-Party-items-on-blue-background-Stock-Photo-party-birthday-kidsAs I reported in an earlier blog a couple of days ago, I have just had my 80th birthday. A week or so prior, one of my friends called to ask what I was doing and “how about we get a couple of the Allies together and go to dinner”.

The Allies, for those of you not familiar with my background, was a very competitive adult women’s soccer team that was formed more than 25 years ago. I had both the luxury and frustration of coaching them for many of their years. The original team when we first put the team together prior to 1983 was named after the Redstone Ranch who sponsored the team in its early days. The original idea was to try to raise the competitive level of soccer in Austin with a team that could compete against both the Houston and Dallas teams at all levels. As the team evolved over the years, it changed the name to the “Austin Allies” later dropping Austin from the name to become the “Allies”.

The players were constantly changing and the team went through several reiterations of itself before settling on a group of highly talented and dedicated players willing to work hard, train hard and play even harder. There were a couple of players that came over from Sweden to play for us for a couple of years and we often had really good players that would come in and guest play for us in the major tournaments. The team was made up of players from different nationalities and we didn’t care what nationality that was or how young or old they were as long as they could play”the beautiful game”. This group stuck together for many years and indeed a few of the players are still playing. The team has maintained its name and for the past several years, has competed in the Austin Women’s Soccer League having recruited a bunch of new and younger players as the time went on. A far cry from when they competed in the Over 30 division of the local men’s soccer league in order to have stronger weekly competition that the then current local women’s teams could provide.

Many of this original group were the ones planning this little get together of “just a couple of friends”. Knowing Suzanne, the player who had called me originally, I kinda suspected that she and the rest of them, were not going to be satisfied with just a couple of them showing up and when I walked into  Flores Mexican Restaurant on William Cannon, there were more than 15 or so of them there. It was great to be greeted by so many smiling faces and lots of hugs and kisses and just a few tears, including my own. My friends George and  Gloria and later her daughter all showed up to add to the excitement. Gloria told me later that they had been a part of the organization of this party with it originally going to be at her house.

With the greetings out-of-the-way, the stories started to flow as some of the girls recounted the things they remembered most about some of our travels and the games we had played in. It was difficult to spend time with everyone and I know that I missed a few people and I apologise for that. Most of them are married with kids and all of them look really good and it was not hard to believe that they had been and in some cases, still are, super athletes in their younger days. At least 3 of the ladies have daughters of their own getting ready to enter college and hoping for soccer scholarships. They are that good as their mothers skills have been handed down to them.

As with all social get together of this kind, the stories came thick and fast of the many places we had been for tournaments and the magical moments that had occurred at some of them, not all of which were on the playing field. Stories like the time we won the Texas State Cup when we beat our local rivals, a team called Thunder coached by Ray Iddendun in penalty kicks after our full back, “Pecker” had tied the game up in the dying minutes of overtime sending the game into those penalty kicks.  Our goalkeeper, Lisa saved 2 of Thunders first 3 kicks with the other one going wide. We made all 3 of ours to win. Much different than when we went to Corpus Christi for a tournament and it went to 12 kicks each side before we won.

Or when we played a team from Florida in one of the National Championships who had a very large, very tall and very talented center forward that our team had nicknamed “The House”and Suzanne, who at the time probably weighed 100 pounds soaking wet, had the very difficult task of trying to contain her.

A special mention must be made of one tournament we went to that another of our players had flown in separately to join us. We all partied the night before the last days worth of games and one of our group, had a little too much to drink. She played the next day with a hangover and I swear that the other girls had to point her in the direction of the goal that we were trying score in. She managed to get through the game with regular intervals to throw up on the pitch much to the other teams disgust. We won the game and maybe the throwing up gave us the edge as the other team didn’t want to get near her. We took her to the airport as she was flying home on a separate flight and the last we saw of her was her forlorn looking figure as she made her still hungover way to catch her return flight. When we returned to practice the following week, the big story was Laurie’s hangover and it took a while for her to live it down.

The stories went on and on and then someone mentioned “the van”. For the uninformed, the van was a big Blue Ford converted van that we used to drive to many of these fairly local games and tournaments. Places like Beaumont, Corpus Christi, New Orleans and such. There would be as many as 7-8 young women all crowded together and me, the only male as the driver. Well, I might just as well have been made of stone or maybe, not even have existed, when the ladies got wound up especially if someone had brought beer. The things I heard would have made their mothers blush or even worse, be shocked that their darling daughter could talk about such things and in such a descriptive way. They would have been more shocked to know that in many of the stories, they were recounting actual things that had happened either to them or with them. Me, I just sat there and smiled occasionally at any particular juicy piece came out. I have always said that I can do one of two things. Either write a bestseller entitled, The Van, You Wouldn’t Believe What I Just Heard… or I could just plain blackmail the girls for me to keep quiet. It was all good fun and passed many miles of otherwise tedious journeys which by the way were never straight through as with all of that beer, it required many pit stops sometimes with only a solitary tree or a bush in sight.

There was a lot of picture-taking with the new fangled cell phones and funny hats and glasses which I noticed that I was the only one wearing. Whats up with that? There were presents and a cake that luckily only had a dozen or so candles and not the required number of 80, which I managed to blow out at one time.

As the evening wound down and after enjoying the very good Mexican Food from Flores Restaurant, the girls began to leave in one’s and two’s all coming to say goodbye and kiss me on the cheek and give me a hug. Some whispered thanks in my ear  and I had to fight hard to keep the tears from flowing as did they. Finally, those remaining gathered together for a last group photo rich with the memories of days gone by and years lost in time. We all have our own memories of those wonderful times with such a talented group of young ladies. It must be said that my own marriage had ended in the early days of this team and having the friendship of all of these ladies helped me get through those difficult times.

As a team, the ladies and I travelled to many tournaments at the State and National level managing to reach the National Finals twice only to lose both of them. There were many successes over about a 10 year period. I coached those ladies until the year 2000 when I decided to move on to coaching youth. I have to say, that it was just not the same. Different challenges, different ages, some successes but not the same camaraderie that had developed with the Allies and no Blue Van.

When we are young, time is something we do not even think about. As we grow older, it becomes more important because we realize that it is slowly running out. All of us that gathered together this evening to recount those memories of times gone by are all a lot richer for having been a part of them. These are memories that I cherish and will carry with me to my grave.

Thank you ladies for allowing me to be a part of your lives.


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