Texas Heat


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I went outside to work today
having things to do in my own way
I had big plans for all to share
that needed all my tender care
I walked around and took a look
checking things off in my minds book
looking to work on important stuff
leaving till last anything tough
for I was not really in the mood
on this first day of Summer that I construed
would be another really hot day
and working hard is not how I play.

I started with filters on the ponds
changing them out as each corresponds
to the degree of clean water surrounding the fish
who like to stir up the dirt as is their wish
as they eat the algae on the sides of the pond
and grow big and fat and hopefully strong
enough to lay eggs when it comes the time
and hatch baby Koi to continue the line
the water must be clear to keep up their health
and for my pleasure as I watch their stealth
in avoiding the big fish who would them eat
and consider it to be a tasty treat.

From the ponds my attention turned
to cutting the plants for I was concerned
as over the walkways and paths they had grown
making it hard that even alone
it was difficult to walk without pushing through
lots of foliage and branches who hadn’t a clue
on how I expected them to grow
as Nature as usual was with her own flow
I trimmed them back so I could walk
between them in comfort without their stalks
whacking me in the face each time I passed
as I cut them back making it their last.

By now sweat was pouring off my face
and down my back and in every place
that the human body can find
to make it uncomfortable in body and mind
so I finished the work as far as I could
I decided to quit while I still felt good
pleased that I had done what I thought was enough
though the work I had done was a little tough
I made plans to work on the other chores
with an early start for working outdoors.

Written 6/21/2018

Austin Pond Society Meeting June 6-18-2018


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The third Monday of the month rolled around just as it is supposed to and with it, the Austin Pond Society held their monthly meeting at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens. This meeting was just a little different as instead of a Speaker, we opted to take a Tour of the beautiful facilities that we call home.

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We met as we usually do in the Zilker Meeting Room and were treated to Fried Chicken with all of the fixin’s accompanied with sides and deserts supplied by the members which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Following the meal, Barb Reinhardt,  who was filling in for Jeannie Ferrier, the President who was away on personal business, introduced four new members and then held a brief Q and A prior to everyone joining the three Docents who had so very kindly volunteered to show us around.

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There were around 30 members in attendance including the 4 new ones and we split into three groups each accompanied by a Docent and started on the walking tour of this wonderful place. Austin is so lucky to have these beautiful gardens for all to see.  Having visited many times before, I took off on my own so that I could take as many pictures as possible which I have turned into a video set to music.  Many of our Members have not visited the Gardens before and I am quite sure that it was an eye opener for them.

The Business section of the meeting on video.

APS Business Meeting June 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The video of Zilker Botanical Gardens.

Zilker Botanical Gardens 6-18-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The next meeting of the Austin Pond Society is on July 16 and will be held off site at Mayfield Park. Check the Website and Facebook for further details.

Written 6/20/2018

Brain Dead


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I sat here looking at a blank screen
and looked outside at the scene
what I saw was dull and grey
as it was kind of a cloudy day
and although the temperature had risen
I sat and tried to make a decision
do I want to go outside
and cut back the plants that have all died
or rake the leaves fallen off the trees
those that have died and come down with ease
with many more ready to fall
I may be raking at Nature’s call
but as my brain is not functioning well
and the call from Nature is almost a yell
I think outside is where I will go
and me and my rake will put on a show. 

Written 1/21/2018

APS Board Members Christmas Party 2017


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This past Sunday, the Board members and a few friends held their Christmas party at Jeannie Ferrier, the President’s house. Altogether there were 17 of us gathered together to enjoy each other’s company made all of the better for not having to be planning  or making decisions for something or another. There were a few members missing having already made other Christmas plans but those that did attend got to enjoy all manner of good food, good company and fun and games.

The first part of the time spent together was viewing the two ponds that Steve and Jeannie have in their back yard along with all of the other garden related items that are so tastefully displayed. As usual, being Pond Enthusiasts, we bombarded Steven with many questions about different aspects of his ponds which he was more than happy to answer. it is an interesting fact that nearly all pond enthusiasts are very happy to pass along any knowledge they may have regarding different aspects of their ponds and gardens.

APS Board Christmas Party Slideshow 2017.mpg from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

We all moved back indoors and I took a lot of pictures of the guests and the layout. The lighting was a real challenge with indoor lights, dark areas and then outdoor light coming through the windows. I was constantly having to make adjustments to the camera. There was a lot of food and people were wandering around from place to place with plates in their hands and happily munching away as they explored all of the different dishes that were available. People paired of in groups as different conversations were going on.

Jeannie called us all together as it was time to play our Annual Christmas game of swapping presents. This game is a little different as you were issued a number and when it was your turn, were able to go and pick out one of the wrapped gifts. You had to open it so that others could see what you had drawn as the next number was able to choose between taking a new unopened gift OR steal one from the gifts already opened and on display with the other guests around the room.  If you took one of the other persons gifts, then they had the chance to go again in the hope of being able to keep what they had this time. I think I set a new record as I lost 4 gifts that I had won finally ending up with a bottle of wine that no one could steal from me as I was the last person to draw. As I don’t drink, I was able to swap it with Steven for a cactus which was a part of the gifts he had won. It was a lot of fun and raised much laughter as the presents were unwrapped only to be stolen by others.

APS Board Christmas Party 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 
Following the game, Jeannie announced that next year’s Pond Tour would be a very small members only spread over 3 weekends with Nancy Reinert organizing the South side, Nancy Hall the North and B.J. Jenkins the East side of town. That is assuming that no one steps up to be the Pond Tour Chairperson.

The party broke up after a very nice afternoon’s entertainment of good cheer, good food and good company as we each made our way home. This was the last activity for this year for the Austin Pond Society.

This has been a good year for the group. We had several very good and entertaining speakers at our meetings, the Plant Swap was fun as was the Swap and Sell meeting. The Pond Tour was a smashing success thanks to Ted and his band of willing helpers and we raised $4000.00 dollars for a charitable cause. On the Fish Rescue side of things both Jeannie and Steven with help from others and Frank who worked mostly alone on the smaller rescues, were busy throughout the year. Membership hovers around the 100 mark with about half of that number attending the monthly meetings. As usual, Steven as the Hospitality Volunteer remains the most popular person in the club as the food provided was excellent. We look forward to the start of a new year and a new season for the Austin Pond Society. The first meeting will be held at the Zilker Gardens Clubhouse on Monday, January 15 2018. Hope to see you there.

Website: http://www.austinpondsociety.org
Membership: membership@austinpondsociety.org
Questions: president@austinpondsociety.org

Written 12/19/2017

 

More Fish Rescues of the Easy Kind.


This past week, I received calls from two different people and an email from a third person looking for help with their ponds. As I am the website contact person for the Austin Pond Society, I get the calls first and then make the decisions regarding the outcome of the various and different requests after I have followed through and obtained the details.

Usually, it is a simple decision regarding the type of action and if it is something that the Pond Society can handle. Then I decide if it is too big for me in which case I pass it along to Jeannie, our President who also handles all of the larger fish rescues.

What is a fish rescue, you ask? Simply put, it usually is a cry for help from the public to assist them find a new home for the fish they have in their garden pond which for any number of reasons, they are closing down. In many cases, the Husband has died and the pond is too much work for the remaining spouse or in the case of one of the calls I received, the owners had sold the house and the new owners wanted to keep the pond but did not want the fish. In nearly every case, the owners are closing down the pond.

With the three requests I received, I quickly determined that the first was too big for me and was one that required both help with the rescue and then the ability to house 10-20 medium sized Koi until permanent homes could be found for them. As I am not setup to house any fish other than my own, I passed this one along to Jeannie so that she and her merry band of Koi Rescue Enthusiasts could make the arrangements to handle. I should mention that we try to find good homes for any fish we rescue by offering them among our members first as they always get first dibs. Then we turn for help among the general public and finally, we donate them to Mayfield Park here in Austin. The Park has 5 ponds that are big enough to house a substantial number of Koi and Goldfish and this year, both Jeannie and I have placed a large number of Koi, Goldfish and Carp into these ponds. The Carp were in error and were mistaken for large black Goldfish but they seem very happy in their new environment.

The second and third calls were both in the range that I could handle and so I called the owners and set up dates to visit with them and make the rescues. The first house was located not too far from me in an estate where all of the homes were so big, my own house would probably fit in them at least twice and probably more. This house had already been sold and the ex-owners were just completing the final clean out and catching up on the odds and ends. When I got there, I could see the pond behind the fence with the gate open and “Jim”, the ex-owner was already standing in the pond with his net, splashing around in an attempt to catch the fish. I said hello and introduced myself. We chatted for a bit as he tried to catch the couple of fish left in the pond. I suggested that I would hook up my pump to lower the water level giving him a much better opportunity in his task.

The deal was that I was to take an 8 inch Koi and the two largest goldfish and he would keep the much smaller remaining goldfish for his new home. He proudly showed off the Koi that he had managed to catch which was in a 5 gallon bucket standing by the pond. As if on cue as we watched, the Koi jumped out of the bucket and back into the pond. After we both recovered from the fit of laughter that this caused, I hooked up my pump to help him by lowering the water level so that he could catch the Koi for a second time. In no time at all, he had caught all of the fish. I bid him farewell and then made my way back home where I put the Koi and Goldfish in different ponds at my house.

The next rescue, a couple of days later was also another easy one. The owner, a very friendly lady by the name of Debbie met me and showed me the pond which was a circular one of about six feet in diameter and only a couple of feet deep. It was real close to the driveway making it easy to load out the trailer. I set up my pump which quickly lowered the water and I pulled out seven water lilies in pots as it was pumping. It was very easy to catch the twelve small Koi and Goldfish and transfer them to my container ready for transport. Between us, we bagged up the lilies and reloaded my trailer and in thirty minutes, I was back on the road again.

This time, I headed to Mayfield Park where I planned to put the rescued fish. This went by without any problems despite notices spread around the ground warning the public, “To not disturb the Peacocks and Peahens as they incubate their eggs or they might attack you”. I repacked my trailer and made my way back home. The water lilies made it back to my house and into my containers that house my surplus plants which are free to anyone needing pond plants.

Interestingly enough, this last rescue was one street down from where I used to live out in the Pedernales area thirty two years ago. On my way back, I pulled into the street that was my old home and drove to the end just for old times sake. It brought back very happy memories of my time spent living out there on my five acres and rekindled in me, the old longing to turn back the clock. Of course that is not possible but a man can dream, can’t he? There was a Realtor’s Sign for the property next to the acreage I used to own so I took down the number and gave them a call. Turns out to be a 15 acre lot with an unfinished house and the asking price was $425,000. When I sold my 5 acres thirty two years ago with a house, a large horse barn and paddock, aviaries and sheds and fully fenced, it went for $120,000. Go figure…

 

Austin Pond Society Swap and Sell Meeting 7-17-2017


DSC_0241The Austin Pond Society held it’s Annual Swap and Sell Meeting on Monday, July 17 at the usual place, the Zilker Botanical Gardens Meeting Room. The meeting was attended by about 40 of it’s members who were treated to the good old American standby, hot dogs with all of the fixin’s. Members supplied the deserts mostly of different types of cookies.

While the members were enjoying the meal, the four members who had brought items to swap or sell were setting up outside in the patio area. I would like to say that they were doing a roaring trade but alas, that was just not the case. A few people wandered out to see what was available  but it appeared that the majority stayed inside where it was cooler. There was some very interesting and useful stuff available. Everything from a push lawn mower, to pond decorations of various types, all kinds of garden tools, a birdhouse on a pole just to name a few. There were a few plants, mostly lilies which were a popular item probably because they were free which always helps. All four of the item donors made some sales but it was a little disappointing to say the least. BJ especially was pleased that she will not have to bring the lawnmower back next year. She had to give a demonstration and mowed half of the lawn out the front in doing so. Must have worked as someone bought it.

There were several of the Board that were missing including Jeannie, our President,  Nancy our Parliamentarian and Julienne our Secretary, all away on vacation.  There wasn’t anything in the way of urgent business that needed our attention and Barb Lenhardt  filled in for Jeannie  and took over the role at President complete with mic to go around the membership to get any questions, introduce any new members and generally try to convince people that there was probably something outside on one of the tables that they really needed and to go out and get it. Alas, not too many people got the message and we were all through by 8:10pm wrapped up and cleaned up.

Personally, I thought there was some pretty neat stuff out there and I am really surprised that more people didn’t take advantage of some of the deals. For myself, the only thing I can say is that the 5 gallon bucket of trimmed waterlilies that I brought in that were ready for planting, were all taken but then again, they too were free…

APS Swap Meeting 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Again, apologies for the quality of the video as I am still working out the kinks of using my DSLR camera as a movie camera. One thing for sure that if I have to film for any length of time, I need to use a tripod to stop the camera from losing focus. Below is the video of the Business Section of the meeting.

APS Business July 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The next meeting will be held on August 14, same place, same time. The Speaker will be Steve Lash from the Honeycomb Fish Farm. Steve is one of the new sponsors for this year and is located in Cedar Park.Come and learn about what to look for when you are choosing Koi & Goldfish.

Austin Pond Society Post Pond Tour Meeting June 19, 2017


DSC_0099-PanoThe Austin Pond Society held its June meeting on the 19th of the month at Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. This meeting was the Post Pond Tour with many of the owners and volunteers in attendance as it was really all about them.

Altogether, there were more than 80 people, the biggest crowd by far that we have had together in one place that I can remember. The guests and members were treated to Pizza and salad from one of our sponsors, Jet’s Pizza with desserts provided by the membership and by the big cake that Jeannie bought from Costco.

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Whilst everyone was enjoying the food, Glen, our Historian and Photographer showed a slideshow of all of the ponds that were on the tour. Following the meal and slideshow, Ted Paone, Pond Tour Chairman, spoke about the work involved in putting on a Tour such as this. He thanked the owners for opening up their yards and gardens for us all to see the wondrous things they have created. He followed up by thanking the many volunteers without whom, a tour such as this would not be possible. He spoke about the fact that this year’s Beneficiary would be the Mayfield Park Ponds. At this point, he introduced Ruben who is the sole person in charge of maintaining both the ponds and the grounds at the Park. For those of you who have not yet visited the park which is located at the very end of 34th Street near Mount Bonnell you should make the effort to do so. There are several miles of hiking trails plus the 5 large and 2 small ponds which the Austin Pond Society has done so much work by cleaning and replanting the lilies, and water plants and have also added a couple of lotus plants. The most recent of our fish rescues have also been donated into the ponds including Koi, Goldfish and Carp.

Following Ted’s moment in the sun, Jack Marshall, APS Treasurer, who had played a major role filling in for Ted on the final days leading up to the Tour, introduced the owners one by one and gave them the mic so that they could offer their thoughts and points of interest about the tour that might be useful in the future.

Jeannie took over the mic after the owners had all finished speaking and we went into the business section of the meeting. There was not too much to discuss so we quickly moved into the door prizes to close out the evening. All in all, a very successful meeting.

Below are the 3 videos of the entire evening. The sound quality is not very good as I was using my Nikon d7200 DSLR camera having recently sold my video camera for a new Nikon d7500 to use as my primary camera. I must seriously look at being able to blot out the background noise in the recordings as I get the hang of using a DSLR for videos.

The first video is of Ted and Jack’s discussion of the tour.

Intro by Ted and Jack from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The second video is of the Pond Owners talking about things that happened to them on the tour.

Owners from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The third is of the short business section of the meeting.

Business June 19, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Can’t wait for next year to roll around and we get to do it all over again…