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

Old Friends


lp3-mckinney

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

Lost Days


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I woke up this morning and have lost a day
somewhere I missed it along the way
I was sure that it was Saturday
with all of the games being played
instead it turned out to be Friday
with nothing new to view today
I wonder where those days go
the ones that get lost along the way
will I ever get them back again
one more day to live and play
or are they lost forever with no say.

At my age I can’t afford to lose
just one day out of my busy life
so few remain and every one
needs to count even with strife
I would rather have another day
to enjoy and have fun as I play
doing things I like to do
writing poetry and stories in my blog
hiking and Nature, tending the ponds
and being outdoors where I truly belong.

Even as I write this poem
the sun has hidden behind the clouds
and the day is growing dark
alas rain will leave its mark
no hiking to day, no outdoor play
instead I must find things to do
Indoors, and what I haven’t a clue
I could fuss with some legal stuff
that needs to be done and I keep putting off
but somehow no interest in it have I
even as a view grey skies.

If I hadn’t lost a day
and it really was a Saturday
then there would be plenty to view
with new games being played
with athletic young men kicking a ball
artists of their own beck and call
each one better than the next
young titans in battle but not vexed
as they fight for the ball and treat each other the same
as sportsmanship is the name of the game.

Now that I haven’t lost a day
instead have gained one along the way
what shall I do to fill the time
now that the skies are cloudy and grey
I could take a nap and the dogs would be pleased
to snuggle together in the middle of the day
but that seems like a precious waste
of valuable time in short supply
instead I think I will write some more
of things more interesting than keeping score.

Boxing Day


I wrote this last year and decided to re-publish it.

As an ex-pat from England, I will spend tomorrow celebrating the day after Christmas as most British people do and that is to sit back and relax and spend the entire day feasting on left overs, drinking beer and watching game after game of football (with a round ball) on the English Premier League.  I am an ardent Man U fan.

The day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day in the UK to most and Saint Stephen’s Day to the religious. Most Brits think of it as another day off to recover from overeating and drinking on Christmas Day and of course, the opportunity to watch football. For those of you that want to know more about this holiday, read the article below from Wikipedia.
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Etymology
The exact etymology of the term “boxing” is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive.[1] The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to theMiddle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen,[2] which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.[3] This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys‘ diary entry for 19 December 1663.[4] This custom is linked to an older English tradition: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.

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Efrain Loayza


Efrain Loayza

Efrain Loayza

AUSTIN SOCCER COMMUNITY LOSES ANOTHER ICON.

The Austin soccer community lost another one of its own on August 25, 2014 when Efrain Loayza passed on to play in that big soccer field in the sky.

Efrain first jumped into the spotlight when he formed and played with the Peru Soccer Team around 1977. They played in the First Division of the Austin Municipal Soccer League (AMSA) as it was known back then and went on to win the division for the first time in 1977. They later won the division again in 1981 and were a highly competitive team to play against.

In later years, as many of the players grew too old to play Division 1 soccer, Efrain formed the team known as Chez Nous playing them in the AMSA Over 30 division. By now the League had changed its name to Austin Men’s Soccer Association and as an Over 30 team, Chez Nous won the top Over 30 division several times and were always known as the team to beat. Efrain in his playing days had a reputation for his ferocious tackling and no-nonsense play. With him on the field, everyone knew what to expect, 100% effort for the entire game. One of these tackles led to him getting an ankle injury that subsequently forced him to retire from actively playing. Early on, Efrain coached a women’s team and rumor has it, that is where he met his wife, Katherine.

The Onion Creek Field Dedication Ceremony

The Onion Creek Field Dedication Ceremony

Although, no longer able to play, Efrain became the manager for the Chez Nous team which he did right up until the team retired from the league a couple of years ago. Prior to this, Efrain had become active in the running of AMSA. The league had grown under the different Presidents and had well over a hundred teams playing every weekend. There was a general consensus among a couple of the very influential members of the Board that it would be very practical to own and maintain our own soccer fields. A general move was made with that in mind but no specific plans were put in place.

Efrain also had his own opinions about the State Association that AMSA belonged to. Consequently, he ran for Vice President with a view to changing the way that the Association did business with  the teams. He served one two-year term before deciding that his services would be put to better use at the local level.

In 2002, Efrain became the President of AMSA and really began a push with the intent on finding land enough for several soccer fields that AMSA could develop. In the meantime, the City of Austin had passed a bond to acquire land to build a dozen or so fields but lacked the resources to develop them. With Efrain as the point man, Brian Hardin as the “money man” and Jim Alsup providing the legal counsel, an agreement was reached with the city for the City to partner with AMSA to develop Onion Creek into a soccer complex that AMSA would maintain and have the full use of.

Peru Soccer Team 1977

Peru Soccer Team 1977

In retrospect, it was a perfect storm of events. A Spanish-speaking AMSA President dealing with an Hispanic PARD Director to work out the details of this deal. He was the “Right Man in the Right Place” to make this happen and it is doubtful if it would have happened at all without Efrain’s drive and passion regarding AMSA owning its own soccer fields and his willingness to deal with both PARD and the Austin City Council.

It is only fitting that Efrain has found his final resting place under the green grass of the fields he worked so hard to acquire and that he loved so much. Even though many of us had our disagreements with him from time to time. there was no doubting his drive and determination in working with the City, with Brian Hardin and Jim Alsup, the other members of the group that helped negotiate the deal, the Captains and members of AMSA and his successor, Mark Gregg whose contribution cannot be understated in setting up the details of the care and maintenance of the fields.

On a personal note, Efrain got me out of a jamb one time and for that I shall be eternally grateful. He was a very colorful

Balloon Release over his tree

Balloon Release over his tree

character and the Austin Men’s Soccer Association has benefited greatly with his association. He was also a devoted family man to his wife Katherine and his son Nico and daughter Alex. He reserved one night each a week for his children and nothing short of a world catastrophe would get him to break those engagements.

There are now two very well-known personalities of the Austin Men’s Soccer Association who have found there final resting place on the green soccer fields of Onion Creek. They were both very different but both had the same goals and foresight in developing the fields that others could enjoy the fruits of their collective efforts.

Rest in Peace, Efrain Loayza. We will miss you.

Efrain Loayza Memorial Gathering from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Music by Habib Koite and Bamada entitled Din Din Wo (Little Child).

Another Saturday-Another Rainy Day…


Rainy and Foggy Day

Rainy and Foggy Day

Another Saturday and another rainy day
Lord knows we need the rain
but why does it have to be on a Saturday
one of the two days when we are not at our workplace
with grand ideas of what we want to do on our day off
and it’s raining.

It could rain any other of the five days of the week
and we would sit at our workplace and watch it fall
through the window that opens up to the outside world
but trapping us within its confines
and when our workday is done
we grab our umbrella if we remembered to bring it
and make a mad dash to our cars ready to fight the traffic
which, in truth, always drives a little faster
and a little scarier than when the roads are dry.

But, when all is said and done
and if you were to ask any Texan
and they would tell you
“We need the rain”
whatever the day of the week.