The Passage of Time…


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I was invited to a party the other night when a dear friend was being honored for his services for our local Soccer Organization. His was for forty five years of service as the Legal Council and founder member of this League from all of that time ago.

I first met Phil just after I moved to Texas in 1977 with my third wife, Susan. We had moved down from New York State mainly because of a job offer that I had and also to get as far away from the awful winters that is a part of that State’s makeup. We settled in Austin and Susan, knowing that I liked to play soccer (football to the rest of the world), asked around and finally hooked up with Phil who asked me to come and practice with his team named Santos. He considered me good enough that I signed on to play. I played for the team for a few years and also the subsequent team named Santigous formed to play in an Over 30 division as the younger punks in Division 1 were really running us ragged. Time and age was already catching up with us.

Over the course of the next thirty or so years, our paths crossed on the soccer fields and in the League Meetings where I was also very active as the Administrator. Although we never played together again, we remained good friends until I finally quit the soccer scene in 2008 due to knee problems. I had one knee replaced but have managed to get by on the other even though the cartilage has gone. As it doesn’t hurt, why mess with it. Phil is still showing up to the fields to play although he is suffering from macular degeneration and can’t see worth a damn but he likes the company and camaraderie that playing with a bunch of old guys that you have known for a very long time, brings.

The party was a surprise and even though eighty odd people had been invited, the secret never got out and Phil was suitably impressed when he walked in the door to the cheers and claps of all of those present. We had all been asked to arrive early, get a drink and socialize which wasn’t hard to do as we were in the company of people that we hadn’t seen in years. It was interesting to see someone you recognized but could not place a name and in other cases, the name came straight back to you. I had the unfortunate distinction of being the oldest person there although many others were not that far behind. As I surveyed the scene trying to recall the names of the many men gathered there, I was struck by the fact that  the passage of time had not been kind to some of them. In some cases, it was hard to recognize them as their faces had grown old and their bodies had shrunk with the passing of time. I compared them now to when they were playing all much younger healthier and vibrant men and bemoaned that the passing of time is so cruel. Many of the men were still playing albeit in the Over 50 division and at a much slower pace but they still enjoyed the game and the company of their fellow players.  Team sports and football in particular does that for you.

The evening ended following a procession of speakers who made their way up to the mic to relay what Phil had done for them in their lives. Everyone spoke in glowing terms of his different exploits both on and off the soccer fields recalling memories of Soccer Camps of long ago, notable games against teams long gone and of the players who have passed on. All in all, the evening was a huge success for those of us lucky to attend to honor a very dear friend for his outstanding soccer accomplishments.

Written 8/13/2018

 

Friendship…


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I am sitting here waiting for time
to pass and then I can get ready
ready for what I do not know
only that I need to change into something
better than I have on now
as shorts won’t cut it.

A dress shirt and a nice pair of dress pants
should do the trick so I don’t stand out
in a crowd who would all rather wear shorts
but all have come with the same purpose
to honor a lifelong friend
for his services to the cause.

We are all members of a group
who in our free time
kicked a ball around
the game played with the feet
and called football
to the rest of the world.

My friend who I have known
for forty one years
welcomed me on his team
with open arms
even though
he had never seen me play.

Tonight we honor our friend
for services to the football community
for his dedication to the sport
in helping to form the League
so that enthusiasts like me
had a place to play.

Now forty one years later
he gets the recognition he deserves
as a founder member
and as a true soccer enthusiast
and a real gentleman
in every sense of the word.

A Lawyer by trade
dealing with the misfortunes
of broken marriages
a more warm and caring man
you could not hope to meet
in any lifetime.

I consider myself very fortunate
to be a  part of his circle
and to have known him for so long
even as I played against him
on different teams
still a true friend.

Poem by Francis Allcorn
written on the occasion of
Phil Friday and his 45 years in the
Austin Soccer Community.

Written 8/12/2018

This and That…


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I commented in the last couple of blogs just how hot it is here in my part of  Central Texas. It is like this every year with some years worse than others. The record was set in 2011 when Austin at Camp Mabry, one of the weather recording centers, registered 83 consecutive days with the temperatures 100 degrees or more. It doesn’t matter what way you look at it, that was a bloody hot summer. Luckily, the humidity was low which made it a little more bearable.

We have just had our first 100 degree days this past week with the thermometer reaching 100 on three consecutive days. There are thunderstorms forecast for the next couple of days which will bring some welcome relief. Along with the high temperatures there are all sort of bye products caused by the heat. Things like high electric bills with the A/C units at full blast and in many cases, replacement units due to the older models breaking down. Try to imagine what the inside of a house is like with no A/C when the outside temperature is 100 degrees or higher. Fans are a big help but they only move the hot air around as they don’t cool it.

If you are an avid gardener, it is a heartbreaking struggle to keep your precious plants alive especially if you are on city water and there are watering restrictions. Austin gets most of its water from the Highland Lakes which is a chain of six freshwater lakes in Central Texas formed by six dams on the lower Colorado River. A heat wave like the one in 2011 actually lowered the lake water quite considerably as the water evaporates along with the demands from all of the Municipalities downstream. It took several years for the lake levels to return to normal after that and it was officially declared a drought.

In my younger days, thirty or so years ago, I was still an avid soccer player at the top Amateur level. The teams I played with would often go away to Tournaments in Dallas or Houston or sometimes even further afield to New Orleans or Florida. These Tournaments were nearly always in the summer, again the hottest time of the year but although they were competitive, it was only for fun. Apart from getting to play several games over a weekend, we went for the company and camaraderie that belonging to a team brings. And the beer of course, lots of beer. I remember on two separate occasions, one in Dallas and the other in Houston when the heat got to us more than usual.

The Dallas Tournament was played on a large soccer complex which like all such complexes was built with very little shade around the fields. Our particular field had Flood Lights surrounding the field mounted on six, sixty foot metal poles. This was the only shade close to the field and spectators and players not in the game were all standing in a line in the shadow of the poles with a larger group at the end where the bank of lights projected a bigger shadow. It was pretty funny. The actual temperature that day was 108 degrees, the hottest that I have ever played in. The game itself was played in slow motion with the players trying to conserve as much energy as possible and when they wanted to sub out, they had the greatest difficulty in finding someone to take their place.  Usually, subs are lined up just waiting to get into the game but not on that particular day. I can’t remember much about the game or even if we won as the heat was the overriding factor for all of us.

The Tournament in Houston was very much the same with very high temperatures. The difference was that in Houston, being close to the sea, the humidity was through the roof which made it appear to be much hotter than it really was. Humidity saps the strength right out of you whether you are used to it or not. The same thing happened as in the Dallas Tournament except there were no floodlights to provide shade. In the second half players were subbing in and out at a tremendous rate as in these Amateur games, subs are unlimited. In the end, it got to where you couldn’t find anyone willing to go back in which meant that you had to stay on the field or if you came off anyway, the team had to play short. That game was truly a miserable experience for both teams. I can’t remember who won and in truth, really didn’t care.

On the home front with all of my ponds, I have to be very careful to make sure that there is no water wastage from anywhere. As it is, keeping the water cool enough for the Koi and Goldfish during these periods of high temperatures is a difficult task. The only real way is to keep the water moving with waterfalls and water features and plant lots of Lilies and water shading plants. The other big problem it to maintain the oxygen levels in the water as the heat tends to deplete the amount of oxygen. I have separate bubblers in all of my ponds which this time of the year are running non stop and even with these precautions, it not a bit unusual to find fish floating on the top.

I have all native plants in my garden which I tend to let grow wild only trimming them where my pathways are or maybe to keep them from crowding out the other growth. If I  have to water them to keep them alive I have installed an underground soaker hose system which if absolutely necessary, will run at night on timers. This is enough to keep the plants alive without wasting too much water in overspill. My garden is really a jungle in disguise which makes it much easier to maintain.

The one redeeming factor is that we can look forward to the Hurricane Season and since 80% of the North Atlantic Hurricanes form from June through October, hurricane season is declared from June 1 to November 30. The months when storms are most frequent on the Texas coast are August and September. If we do get any at all and that is not a certainty, we will probably get cooler temperatures and rain which if it is in excessive amounts will bring its own problems.

Texas has a saying, “If you don’t like the Texas weather, just wait five minutes and it will change”. This saying is also credited to many other States to which it can apply.

Written on another hot day in Texas.
7/3/2018

 

I Hate Inconsiderate Texting…


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Some of you who have followed my blogs over the years may know that I spent most of my life as a top Amateur soccer player. I started around ten years old and finally calling it quits after my knees gave out in 2008  at the age of 72 having been an active player for 62 years. I would like to say that I was at my peak at the end but nothing was further from the truth. I peaked out between 25 and 30 as I kept myself in good shape and by then had acquired some decent skills. I was never very fast so there wasn’t too much noticeable difference and at the end, I had switched to playing goalkeeper which  required less running on my part.

I am telling you this because this year is a World Cup year for the sport and I and millions of others around the World have been glued to our television sets for almost the past month. I am in the habit of recording all of the games and then watching them in the evening. I do this mainly so that I can skip the commercials which after the first go round are very repetitive and boring. As they are not advertising anything that I am likely to buy, I consider it a small favor that I can miss this part of the broadcast.

Anyway, the tournament is almost over and is at the semi-final stage one of which has already been played with France beating Belgium. Naturally, being from the old country, I am an English supporter and they are scheduled to play today so I have been desperately trying to avoid all of the news sources that are likely to give away the score so that when I watch the game later this evening, I will not know the outcome.

Well wouldn’t you know it that one of my so called friends has just sent me a text telling me that Croatia has beaten England although he didn’t send the score. It doesn’t matter anyway as my hope of watching the game without knowing the result has just gone out of the window.

With friends like that, who needs enemies…I will still watch the game of course and maybe my ex-friend was wrong but without much hope.

Written 7/11/2018

A Pretty Aimless Life


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I lead a pretty aimless life
helped by not having a wife
who surely would try to keep me straight
and my course not to deviate
but as I don’t have one of those
I can come and go as I choose
depending on the time of day
or if the weather is too hot to play
outside in the yard or on a long walk
then I stay inside where it is cool
and play with the dogs for they are no fools
and outdoors on a hot summers day
is not where they go out to play
I go to the table that I use as a desk
where my computer is blank now as it rests
and fire it up to start the day
and check my emails in my usual way
with nothing of interest and nothing to write
I move on to my web page and view the site
make adjustments if any that I need to do
addressing my readers to give them a clue
of what to expect the next time I write
for the words from my pen are meant to excite
but the words do not flow so this time I turn
to my Facebook page to read with concern
what I see posted there, is this really true
what these idiots write thank goodness they are few
if everyone believed what is written here
the World would be much sorrier I fear
I close the computer not wanting to write
and look out the window, what a beautiful sight
as my yard is so green and the flowers so bright
but way too hot for jobs so benign
what else can I do to pass the time
my favorite pastime is driving my truck
just touring around trusting to luck
of where it will take me how far can I go
an Audiobook for company as I listen to the show
with talented writers and actors so great
what more can I ask as the journey I make
I had stopped at the store as I wanted to buy
groceries for me as I needed supplies
to feed me and the dogs as they always come first
they rely on me to satisfy their thirst
and give them food to keep them fit
and ready to walk for my benefit
as moving around and walking is best
as there is plenty of time to rest
and now the day is almost done
and food is consumed by everyone
and we sit on the couch and watch TV
and marvel at men much younger than me
with the things they can do on the soccer fields
and the tricks with the ball and a clean pair of heels
takes me back to my younger days
when I too could run and had tricky ways
those times are long gone and will not return
for age takes its toll with no energy to burn
I switch off the tube and me and the dogs
crawl into bed to sleep like a log
and even with many bathroom trips
wake up refreshed with no special script
get ready to do it same as before
with a change here and there to add to the score
and my aimless life will go on and on
with only me to please my hopes are strong.

Written 6/25/2018

My Friend


I had a friend come and stay
with me just the other day
which really caught me by surprise
when the phone rang and his voice disguised
trying desperately hard to sound like a Yank
with his British accent it really stank
“George”, I said, “What are you doing here”?
as I heard his voice full of good cheer
He said, “I’m staying just up the street
maybe tomorrow we can meet
I can fill you in on the reason why
I left old England and said goodbye
for the second time in my life
leaving behind without any strife.
I stayed over there almost a year
living with friends which became very clear
was not working out the way that it should
as I could not settle or do anything good
the weather was wet with the usual rain
with little sun and no tan to gain
and I could not find a team
to coach, which really was my dream
so I hopped on a plane and made the short trip
from England to Texas the best place to hit
where I hope to pick up my former life
and maybe even find me a wife
so that I can settle down
no more to roam as I have come back home”.

I met with George the following day
and as he had no place to stay
brought him back to live with me
if only temporarily
until he can find that team to coach
he has a few leads and he has spoke
to one of his friends whom we met
at the fields, where else, who told George to “Get
his bag and to come home with me
to San Antonio and we shall see
about that team and a place to stay”
as they left to go on their way.
I hope things work out for my old friend
and that he lives his dream until the end
as growing old is both our way
always looking to see the following day
living our lives and chasing our dreams
our minds filled with improbable schemes.

Written 4/7/2018

To Brighten Your Day


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By the time you get to read this, many of you will be in the grip of winter, knee deep in snow and ice, along with cold and freezing temperatures. Cars won’t start and when they do, you have to clean the ice off the windshield before trying to drive on ice packed roads along with your neighbors. Fender benders and cars in the ditch and tow trucks are all a part of the winters norm. especially if you live in Upper New York State as I did.

I lived there for ten years when I first arrived in this country on March 13, 1967. The first night, it snowed 13 inches of heavy wet snow leaving me to wonder just what I had let myself and my family in for. I had never ever seen that much snow in my life and it probably totalled the sum amount of snow in my previous 31 years.  Over the next ten years, we grew used to winter but never really liked it. We learned how to drive in it and how to winterize the car so it would start in the mornings. We even had a snowmobile and ice skating and skiing were all a part of the norm.

Circumstances changed and I found myself in Texas in 1977 and have been here ever since. Compared to the New York State winter cold, the Texas summers, although a little on the warm side,  are much easier to handle, at least for me. The coldest I have ever been outside was on the ski slopes where the windchill at the top of the mountain was 51 degrees below zero. That was cold, so cold in fact that I took off my skis and walked back down the mountain. On the other hand, the hottest temperature I have been out in was 108 degrees in Dallas while playing in a soccer tournament. Needless to say, it was hard to get eleven players out on the pitch and players were begging to get subbed. I can’t remember if we won or lost and most of us didn’t really care.

So, I thought it nice just to brighten your day especially if you are in the grip of winter, to show you a couple of cheery pictures that I took way back in October when the sun was warm and the flowers were waving their lovely heads and saying, “Look at me”.

Enjoy.

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Written 10/25/2017