Austin Pond Society Christmas Party November 2017

The Members at the Party 2017

The Austin Pond Society held their Annual Christmas Party at the November Meeting which is the last meeting of the year. Around 55 members showed up, many of whom were dressed in their Christmas finery and with several wearing strange looking hats decorated in a Christmas motif. All the members were really getting into the swing of things as on Sunday afternoon, several of them had come in to set up the tables and decorate the room in the Christmas Spirit and the setting was very conducive for a Christmas Party.

Christmas Party 2017 Slide Show from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The food comprised of Roast Beef and Ham provided by our very popular Steven Monfrini, with all of the fixings many of which were supplied by the members who also supplied the deserts and appetizers. There was a lot of food but by the end of the evening, it was all gone. There were several bowls of punch to drink, some with and some without so the members had a choice.

Christmas Party 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The guests of honor were Mr and Mrs Klause from the Austin Police Department who were here to pick up the many gifts that the members had each brought in for the kids in need so they would at least get a gift on that special day.

Among the several things available to the members were a Blackjack Table complete with a professional croupier the proceeds of which went towards the Mayfield Ponds Project. The players each donated $10:00 to the cause and played until they lost all of their money. There was another game in which the members had to do something with Candy Canes but I have no idea what that was.
There was also an area that was in the business of making funny hats complete with flashing lights for anyone brave enough to wear such a contraption and enter into the Funny Hat Contest to be held later in the evening.

Christmas Party 2017 food line from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The first part of the evening was devoted to the very important business of feeding our faces which we all proceeded to do with much gusto. Following that, Jeannie our President took charge as she went through the very small amount of business that needed to be conducted. The main and very important part was the appeal for someone, anyone to step up to fill the vacancy for the Pond Tour Chairman without whom, we will not have a Pond Tour as we know it, next year. She then introduced the new Board all of whom with the exception of Keith as Secretary, are all returning members. The New Board officially takes over January 1 of next year. Following the announcements, Jeannie called upon Ted Paone as this past two year’s Pond Tour Chairman and presented him with an Honorarium for all of his efforts.

Christmas Party 2017 Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

With the business out of the way came the very difficult task of choosing the Tallest Hat Winner along with other members who were sporting all kinds of flashing and blinking contraptions on their heads. Everyone really got into the spirit of things.
The winner of the Tall Hat was Catherine Bilbrey with Nancy Reinert as the runner up.

Christmas Party 2017 Crazy Hats from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Another member, Karl Tinsley brought in his latest work of interest which is a Sand Table that he had constructed along with all of the programing that it takes to make it work. Basically, it is comprised of a flat box about 2 inches high and about 2 feet square with a glass cover sitting on a small table. In this box is a covering of sand on the bottom and a single large ball bearing. Karl has written software that drives the ball bearing into marking grooves in the sand in a designated pattern including his favorite Alpacas, of which he and his wife Linda own several. It is fascinating to watch as the bearing moves up and down creating pictures in the sand.

Quote from Karl
The sand table uses a magnet mounted on a computer-controlled mechanism to move a steel ball through sand, creating stunning designs. The table and the designs it draws were created by Karl Tinsley. You can see some videos of the table on my youtube channel

Here are some of the sand pictures that Karl has created

He has also put together a short movie showing the ball in action.

With the food and drink all gone and no more fun and games to play, the evening gradually wound down until the few remaining members stripped off the table cloths, straightened up the room and closed the doors on another fun and successful year for the Austin Pond Society. All that remains is to wish everyone out there, Happy Holidays and we hope to see you next year.

Our first meeting for 2018 will be on January 15 at the Zilker Gardens Botanical Center starting as 6:30 pm. Hope to see you there.

Don’t forget to keep checking the website especially in the MarketPlace section as the availability of used equipment and pond plants is always changing. If you have any of the aforementioned equipment or plants that you want to sell or give away, use this link to fill out the form.

Today is Saturday…

Have A Nice Saturday

It used to be many years ago that Saturday was a special day
a day off from work and all that went with making a living
and instead of jumping out of bed and fighting through the sleep
trying to be awake enough to be ready for the day
and then remember that I didn’t have to work
and would roll over and snooze for another couple of hours
until the dogs would fuss, reminding me that it was time for them to eat.

Maybe there were things to do that I had planned
things around the house or the yard
gardening and pulling weeds or maybe cleaning the filters on the ponds
or playing with the dogs in a game of tag
that they would always win as they were much faster than me
and in my much younger years, a game of football with my friends
to spend an afternoon just kicking a ball or kicking the other players
whichever got in the way.
and drinking beer and socializing and shouting insults to the men and women
all friends, in the games that followed ours.

In the evening, maybe a night out with my friends
or if I was very lucky, a hot date with a current lady friend
to take to dinner and wine and dine her
and pay her all of the attention that a man does
when he is besotted with her charms and good looks
in the hopes that the evening would end on a favorable note.

Maybe it was a quiet night, one spent in with the TV
watching the English Premier League soccer games
and marveling at the skills of the players
with the things they could do with a ball
thinking of my own skills
and feeling very inadequate.

Now, many years later, retired from work
no longer having to worry about the time
or even what day it is
when Saturday rolls around
unless something special is planned
it is just the same as the rest of the days of the week.

Too old to play football and no longer able to kick the ball or the other players
but still watching the  English Premier League
and now saying, “I used to be able to do that, way back when”.
I could run and jump and was as light as a feather on my feet
but now, every muscle aches if I try to extend my body
beyond anything out of the norm

So I am reduced to a work out in the gym every couple of days
lifting weights that are half what I used to be able to lift
looking at all of the beautiful women and the muscular young men
and then coming back to reality when the ones who really need the work
those that are very overweight and way too heavy
come into view.

There are many old people both men and women, like me
who exercise for a different reason, in the hope that
by thinking young and rolling back the years
that big clock on the wall will slow down
and buy us a bit more time on this earth
time that we will spend, dreaming of the past
and things that were and life as it used to be.

But, it is still Saturday
not like the days of old it is true
but any day alive on this earth is a good day
to breathe the air and feel the sun warm on my body
and know that I have been blessed
with one more day…
Continue reading

Brain Dead or just resting?

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I sit here staring at my computer
as I desperately want to write
and have this overwhelming urge
but can think of nothing to say.


Usually, words just roll off my lips
transmitted by my brain to thoughts
and then slowly typed into my computer
where they come out in word form
making sense for others to read.


Today was different as try as I might
no easy subject came to mind
and I found my mind rejecting
thought after thought,
idea after idea.


I wonder what it is that makes
my brain act this way.
how can I be overflowing
with ideas one day
and the next, scratching around
like a chicken
looking for morsels to feed on.


What’s this, look what I have done
out of nothing has come a new subject
even though it is mainly a discussion on –


Life Used to be Simple…

Heathfield and a Double Decker Bus

Heathfield and a Double Decker Bus

The simple things in life are free
at least is how it used to be
but life today has changed its way
and things are now different how we play

In days of old for most folk
they lived they died and in between
they worked and loved and struggled on
just so they could play their song
nothing special did they expect
and usually that is how
and if blessed with luck they did thrive
it was only to keep them all alive.

The simple things in life to them
were family, friends a decent job
a living wage so they could feed
their families who had the need
of sustenance and shelter too
and a pint on weekends with their mates
and maybe watch their favorite team
play the game and provide the need
of relaxation for just one day
before come Monday and back to work
and repeat the cycle over again.

There were no electronic things
beyond the radio and it too
worked on valves to bring its sound
to the family gathered around
listening to their regular shows
and imagining the wonders of how it must be
with the sounds from the BBC.

I have been lucky enough to be
a part of that society
for when I was young that is all we had
and books their stories to add
to that wondrous thing our brains would see
from words marked down or sounds all around
and if outside we could be
either in the garden or for a walk
close to nature we would find
peace and harmony of a different kind.

Heathfield, Sussex

Heathfield, Sussex

If by chance we had to be
in some other place that day
outside of our usual territory
we walked or rode our bikes
and if it was too far to hike
we caught the bus and paid a fee
to get to where we wanted to be.

Things today are different now
knowledge is spread further around
regular guys like you and me
drive cars to get where we want to be
electronic gadgets all abound
information is free for all to see
with phones and computers and TV‘s too
and we must not forget
this thing called the internet
where messages flash from place to place
travelling at a remarkable pace

With all of these modern things
life is no longer a simple place
instead we have no time to breath
as we hustle and bustle in our quest
to feed out families and lead our life
just like we  did fifty years ago
except we now do it at breakneck speed
with no time to relax as it was before
for fear of missing out on our chance
to be a part of the big dance,

A part of me often does wish
that simple again our lives could be
except it is so hard to see
that simple as a word describes
images of things from long ago
life was simple way back when
you lived you died and life was gone
and sometimes in between that song
sons and daughters came along
to further complicate the plot
but things were still simple then
as life for them would still go on

Saturday Morning



Ah, Saturday morning, what can I say
I’ve worked all week for this day
to sleep in later than I normally do
or maybe get out early to have some fun
or better yet, go for a run
all of these things are open to me
and a host of others too numerous to see
what it is I want to do
on this day off from the working zoo.

In years gone by it would be spent
on the soccer fields with my teams
the ones that I was with all week-long
teaching them the soccer song
Teams of young kids all wanting to learn
how to play so they too
could use their skills and with the ball
of dribbling and juggling they knew it all.

Soccer team

On Sundays it would be my turn
for me to run and jump and twist and burn
the guy opposite me with my incredible speed
mostly only in my dreams
as speed was a long gone thing
just like me trying to sing
I can’t hold a note and neither could I
run faster than the other guy.

But speed notwithstanding I still enjoyed
my time on the fields with the other men
who I had known for many a year
each season we would do it all again
occasionally there would be fights
but mostly just for the bragging rights
and to sit around after and share a beer
content that the weekend was here.

My soccer team

My soccer team

Actually, it’s not quite true
although when I was a working man
is how I felt for the week’s end
to spend my time how I wanted to.

Now I’m retired and much older now
and Saturday is very much the same
as all of the other days in the week
as no longer the need for a special day
as every one is special in its own way
It matters not what day of the week
as I can do anything I think
I would like to do on this day
and as I can no longer play
what use do I have for Saturday.

The body is old and the mind is weak
so I spend my time in my yard
working on things that I used to think
had to be done on those magic days
Saturday and Sunday for the truth to say
they were the only days I had time
when I was working to make a dime.

When I wake up every day
I think to myself, what day is this
as they tend to one another run
when I no longer routines keep
and no more nine to five
to govern how I stay alive
every day is a Saturday to me
and the weekend no speciality
as I can do any day of the week
the things I used to keep
just for the weekends to do.

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Even so, Saturday still has its place
with Farmers Market or maybe a race
things that can only be held on the weekend
so others may share and participate.

The same fields I used to spend my time
are still just like they used to be
with kids running around and Parents too
together to play and watch and shout
for them, nothing much has changed
as they are still in the game.

As I drive by, sadness I feel
that no longer can I do the stuff
I used to do years ago
before the body got old and slow
and Saturday was a special day
to be spent in the way
I wanted to.

Sunset, end of the day

Sunset, end of the day



U11 Boys-Weekend 3/23-3/24

Mascots of association football club Stoke Cit...

Mascots of association football club Stoke City F.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The boys had two games this past weekend. Unfortunately, I was unable to coach them on Saturday and Ben Crawley, our Head Coach took them. It is always difficult for another coach to take a team that he is unfamiliar with as he can’t make the minor adjustments because of not knowing the players. From what I can understand, it was 2-0 against us at the half with the boys playing OK but second half with some changing of positions, the boys didn’t do so well. Final score was 0-10.

On Sunday, I was able to coach them. I can always tell if the boys are “in the mood” based on how they approach the pre-game warmup. Today they really applied themselves and tried very hard to do things right.

We started the game a little early at the Referees request which was fine by us. We had a long discussion before the game to outline how we could do a better job of defending the mid field. I selected Hank and Dominick to start there and explained to them how they needed to play and it began to work very well. Each successive pairing all followed their instructions and during this game, we were in command of the midfield for most of the game.

We started our usual back line of Alex, Leo and Taylor and these three make a very useful combination when they play together. I thought that Alex had an exceptional game at full back and the goal he scored was almost as good as the one that Peter Crouch scored yesterday for Stoke City. It was a wonderful shot. Alex has been working on improving his kicking game and he has developed enough of a foot that we had him taking the free kicks today. Well done Alex.

We scored three goals in the second half with Alex opening the scoring for us and at one point we led 3-0 with the other goals scored by Ian with a well worked individual piece of dribbling and my mind has gone blank on who scored the third one.

I had to make changes to give the players a chance to play in other positions and to give them a rest and during that time, the other team managed to score 2 goals on us. I strengthened the defense and we managed to hang on for the rest of the game to win 3-2. I told Leo that I would give him a run at a different position but he was playing so well in anchoring the defense especially when I had already made changes, that he played at sweeper for the whole game. Apologies Leo but look at it from a different way. You got to play the entire 60 minutes.

Jack played his usual stalwart game in-goal and made a couple of very good saves to keep us in the game. Both Ian and Hank had opportunities to put the game in the comfort zone but neither could take advantage of what were relatively easy chances.

All in all, a very good result. The opponents today, Hays, are a genuine D2 team who are on the same level as us. I wish that some of the teams we play against placed in the divisions they should be in instead of dropping down a division to beat up on other teams and win trophies. There is no honor in that.

All of the boys were eager to play and I had a devil of a time trying to get them in the game. It seemed that as soon as they came off, they wanted to go straight back in. I tried a 10 minute rotation system and put in four boys at a time. In the end, it was a bit of a shambles so I will not do that again.

I am very pleased with the boys progress as a team. Most of them are really advancing their skills and getting a better understanding of how to play the game. Their hard work is starting to pay off.

Weekend March 3/4 U11 Games



The little boys had two games this past weekend, one on Saturday against Lone Star and the other on Sunday against PAYSL. It was really a tale of playing against two different teams and the outcomes reflected that.On Saturday, we played the Lone Stars U11 team at the Town and County fields with a strong wind blowing from end to end. We were playing with the wind at our backs in the first half and it did help us to some degree. I was not paying any attention to the score being more interested in how the goals came about so I do not have an accurate count of the half time score. I believe it was 2-1 in our favor. The second half, the other team started real strong but we managed to wear them down and by the time the game was over, our boys were firmly in control and we came out 4-2 winners. I don’t keep track of who scores the goals as I believe it to be a team effort but I do have to comment on the goal that Andrew Scott scored. He picked up the ball outside of the other teams penalty area and dribbled through at least three maybe four defenders to place it in the net. A very well taken goal. Ian had a similar one in the first half and beat several players to earn his goal.

The boys played with just one sub as Dante was not feeling well and Ali had a basketball game but they dug in and all played very hard. I was impressed by the improvement in both the passing and the movement and we did a good job of counteracting the other teams moves. Jack came up the big hero as he made save after save in the second half to keep us in the game. Well done Jack.

On Sunday, we played against the PAYSL team and this time, they were a whole different story. They had this one player that looked much older than his age, well-built with incredible skills. he was way too good to be playing D2 soccer and should really be on a D1 team somewhere. Single handedly he was able to beat our team and after we missed scoring an early goal, he managed to put three past Jack in very quick succession and one later in the half.. Our boys were no match for his skills and size. The rest of their team was about the same as us and without him, we would have done much better.As it was, I don’t know how we didn’t score on four separate occasions with the ball pinging across their goal hitting the post, hitting players all over the place and still not going in. The boys commented that we needed Andrew Mauro there to knock the big boy around a little and bring him back to our level.

They scored two more goals in the second half and we finally lost 6-0. A part of our problem in that game was that again, we had no midfield and scream as loud as I could and with all of the explanations in the world, I could not get anyone to understand how to play that position. We did not play badly and strung some passes together but we were too busy playing defense to get in too many attacks.Andrew Scott took a ball to the face and ended up with a fat lip and Dante was too sick to play as was Taylor although he did play most of the game.

I think the win on Saturday affected them a little as they would not warm up properly and were a little “cocky”. They soon had that knocked out of them but to their credit, they were chattering and conniving ways and means to counteract players like the one they faced today.when we were sitting around after the game. They didn’t whine and cry about losing more the amount of physical punishment they had to take. They may have learned something from it.

Even with the loss, they are still showing signs of improvement and I am pleased with their progress.