Summer Time

DSC_1647As in, change the clocks one hour either forward or back
depending on the time of year
Spring forward and Fall back is how we remember
it takes a while to get used to the changes
not necessarily that sleeping and waking up are out of sync
which of course they are
but that for several months, I have gotten into a routine
now I have to change it
and in seven months will have to change it back

During World War 2, the clocks were changed twice
instead of one hour, it would be two
and it would still be daylight at 10:00 pm at night
that was in England during the “dark times” of war
changing the clocks didn’t help
they were still very “dark times”.

I read somewhere
that some states in the USA do not go along with it
They keep the clocks the same
throughout the year and the states around them
have to conform to their time
if they cross the borders.

I have an automatic self setting alarm clock
that cannot keep the time
it insists on being sixteen minutes off
and out of sync
with the rest of the world
I have tried to reset it
to no avail.

Thank Goodness, I am retired
unless I have to be somewhere
time is immaterial to me
I only look at the clock
to see if it is time to watch my favorite team
Manchester United, play soccer, on TV
for ninety minutes.

Now that I am old but not yet feeble
time is slipping away
where before, I was always reasonably sure
there would be another day
now, not so much
and eventually, it will be my time
and no longer will I care
about changing the clocks.



My 47th Anniversary…March 13, 1967.

Queen Mary

Queen Mary

Well, would you believe that on this day, forty-seven years ago, my family and I landed at New York Harbor on the magnificent Queen Mary. We were met by my mother and one of her friends who drove us back to the little village of Fort Plain in the Mohawk Valley in Upper New York State. Much has happened since that eventful day…

This blog is not a reflection of all that has happened since then as I have already covered that part of my life in previous blogs. No, I am writing this more as a summary and that today for me, is a day worth celebrating. Even though life has had its ups and downs in the past forty-seven years, the majority of it has been very good as I hope it has been for those that landed with me on that day.

Taken on the whole, the American people are a very nice and sociable lot with strong family ties. They have very firm beliefs in family values and in some cases, almost to a fault. The extent that some families will go to “protect” their kids from the normality of life is frightening as I see modern-day kids as mostly a bunch of super intelligent, spoilt and protected to the degree that they never have to face any hardship as they grow up. Part of that is the school system that extends every school day into a school evening in order for the kids to succeed. There is something wrong with a system that expects the kids to work every evening after spending all day at school. When do they have time to be kids?

Everything has to be organized. If is not, the parents won’t allow the kids to participate. City kids, even small cities, have to be taught about Nature. They don’t spend time in the woods among the trees with the birds and animals or smelling the flowers as we did when we were growing up. Granted, they were vastly different times and we didn’t have anything even closely resembling any of the electronic devices that we have to today to provide the entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, I am just as fascinated with these modern wonders as the next person and for an old guy, know my way around them very well. The trouble is they have taken over our lives and the simple things no longer have the same interest.

Funny the direction this blog is heading. I meant to write about my feelings after being in this magnificent country for nearly fifty years but instead it has turned into a rant of how I see problems ahead for the wonderful people who live here, people who I live next door to or greet in the store as we pass, or those that work out at the same gym as I do. It may not be in their lifetime but it won’t be long before modern kids as they grow up, will not know how to cook a meal as they never learned it from their parents.

Enough of all of this complaining. Think of the good things that have happened over the past forty-seven years. Things like becoming an American citizen back in 1976 or having the ability to buy a house  and many, many cars, or moving out of New York State to escape the brutal winters to enjoy the great state of Texas, thirty-seven years ago. Thank you Dominic Fazzone for giving me the opportunity. I think of all of the people I have met and the friends I have made in both States and there is nothing that I cannot do if I so choose. Regardless of the things I see that bother me, this is a great country and it has treated me well and for that, I am very grateful.

Do I regret emigrating from England to the USA? In some ways, of course I do. I miss the English people with their weird sense of humor and the simpler life style at least when I lived there. I miss going to watch the Professional football matches of the English Premier League and have to make do watching them on television. I miss roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and fish and chips eaten out of a newspaper and a pint of English beer. I regret that I was not able to make any of my marriages work and that I lost touch with some of the people who I knew over the years. I regret that I was not able to grow up with my two sons and that I only know them from a distance. The one thing I don’t miss is the incessant rain which was the reason we moved in the first place. Living here in Texas, I could sure use some of it now…

For me, my race is nearly run. I do not have time for regrets as I want to make the most of whatever years I have left and which I will spend in this great country. When I die, my ashes will be spread over this land and I will become a part of its history.

Rule Britannia and God Bless America…

Hiking with Friends at McKinney Roughs

Two of my closest friends, Gloria and George, asked me if I was interested in hiking the trails at McKinney Roughs. “Interested” I said, “Of course, I am  interested. Nothing better than a long hike”. For me, it brings me closer to Nature and is good for the body and soul and of course, the quality time spent with my friends. Besides, it gives me an excuse to take lots of pictures and then spend time working on them before putting them in a slide show or some other form of sharing. Then there is the blog part of the hike. Writing about it is a good way to keep my mind active and allows me to tell the story for others to share.

We met at the agreed time at McKinney Nature Park just outside of Bastrop. As I was a little late, Gloria had already signed us in and they were patiently waiting as I drove up. We discussed which trail to take and settled on the Riverside trail which as the name implies, would take us down to the Colorado River. This trail is wide open and easy hiking until it turns sharply downhill as it heads to the river. The grade is fairly steep but easy walking. Along the way, we came across the strangest cactus, one which none of us had ever seen before. Then we found another and yet another and concluded that it must be a special type relative only to McKinney Park.

As you can see from the picture above, it must have been someone with a sense of humor who had taken the time to carve the cactus just like a pumpkin with eyes and a mouth. They must have been well prepared with heavy gloves as we all know just how painful those cactus spikes can be. This little episode brightened our day and we saw the same carvings on many different cactus over the several miles that we covered. We came across several horses and riders as the park is also designated as a riding area. What a wonderful way to explore with the horses doing all of the work. Not sure how much riding contributes to the riders fitness except for the enjoyment of sharing life with the animal.

I forgot to mention that my friends brought their little dogs with them, a Chihuahua named  Nina and a Rat Terrier named Bobby. They both did extremely well off their respective leashes except when the horses appeared and then Bobby ran off in the other direction and it took a little bit of George’s coaxing to get him back. Other than that, they both stayed on the trail with us. Gloria had come well prepared as she knew that Nina would get tired and she had a sling fashioned around her neck to carry the little dog. This only happened towards the end of the walk which was to be expected. When we hit the river we had a discussion on which trail to take next and opted for Roadrunner and which eventually ran into Yaupon which would bring us back to our starting point and the cars.

These trails are all pretty much wide open with lots of room and easy walking. They are by no means flat and there are several steep climbs but with easy walking, was not difficult. They were also the longest trails in the park in terms of distance. In a couple of places, the trail crosses roads. One is the road that leads to the Hyatt and the other is Pope Bend Road. We also came real close to a water tower which when we started, seemed like miles off. The trails wind around and very rarely stay straight for more than a quarter of a mile or so before changing direction.

We followed Pope Bend Road for quite some distance walking parallel to it with us inside the fence. Between markers eight and nine, there is a rest station with a couple of benches. We stopped there for a while and I packed my cameras as I had not taken that many pictures. The scenery was pretty drab and typical of winter with very little green stuff and lots of browns and greys of dormant vegetation. I did take pictures of a couple of interesting green plants.

Continuing back on the trail it suddenly occurred to me that I was not wearing my sun glasses. I couldn’t remember taking them off and neither did I realize that I did not have them on. Very weird sensation suddenly not having them. We talked about it and as it was getting late, decided that I would come back the next day and walk the trail to look for them. We continued back along Yaupon and eventually back to our cars.

That ended our hike together. We covered about nine and a half miles according to the pedometer that I always carry with me. Tired but happy, we said our farewells and headed home. Actually, George and Gloria headed home and I took a longer route and went into Bastrop to the Starbucks to feed my one really bad habit, coffee. I read somewhere that coffee is actually good for you so I use that as my excuse for drinking the stuff.

The next day, I headed back to McKinney Nature Park and stopped in the office to enquire if anyone had turned the glasses in but to no avail. The person behind the desk was very accommodating and let me search for them without charging me although, with Senior Citizen status, it only costs me $2.00 under normal circumstances.

I backtracked along Yaupon searching as I went. I figured that if they were laying in plain site, they would be easy to spot. I came to the place where I had noticed them missing and really started to concentrate on my search from that point on. I reached the benches which seemed the most logical place to lose them after re-packing my cameras but they were not there. I sat for a while trying to figure out my next move and decided that I would keep back tracking until I came to the river as I knew that the trail was easy walking for those couple of miles. By then, I was caught up in the glory of being out in the fresh air and communing with nature and just wanted to enjoy it.

Upon reaching the river and remembering the reason for this particular hike, I turned around and headed back along Yaupon towards the Office area searching as I went thinking and re-living the hike of the day before and trying in my mind to recall just where I might have lost the stupid glasses. I remembered taking a picture of a particular plant with my cell phone not wanting to unpack my camera and wondered if I might have removed them at that time. As I was retracing my steps, I found the plant but the again, glasses were not there.

I finished the walk managing to go off course at the very end and found myself walking along Bobcat Ridge and realizing my error, back tracked again to get back on course. I passed a very noisy water treatment plant along the way. Even though my walk was unsuccessful in finding my glasses, it was still very enjoyable. My trusty pedometer showed that I had covered a little over twelve miles.

The following Saturday, I decided to go back for another hike just for the fun of it. I parked and headed for the office and in the course of the conversation, casually asked if anyone had turned in a pair of prescription sun glasses.  The gentleman behind the desk asked me to wait a minute as he went in the other room to take a look. He came out stating that “These are the only pair that have been turned in”. I took a look and after I put them on, I was able to identify to him that these were the ones. I thanked him profusely as I went out to start my hike. I backtracked along Yaupon and at one point, took a detour that brought me to the proclaimed, “Best View of the Valley and Colorado River”. It was a breathtaking view and will be even more spectacular in the Spring when the trees are green. I returned to Yaupon and continued on to the river and then took Coyote Road, a trail that I had not covered before.

At one point, I crossed paths with solitary horse and female rider going in the opposite direction but those were the only other trail users that I saw. It was a pretty steep climb but good walking and brought me back to the Office and my car. One thing that I have noticed when out hiking is the absence of birds and animals. I would have expected more. Altogether, I covered another 9 miles.

I had taken my camera with me which I carry in a special camera backpack that with the pack, camera and extra lenses weighs almost another twenty pounds. Wearing it is like hiking in full gear, so to speak although the pack is very comfortable. I did not take any pictures on this hike as I did not see anything new or different from the week before as I was hiking almost identical trails. But, I had my glasses back, I felt tired but happy and the world was a good place.

Five Dogs, Two cats and Me

Danny, Richie and BeBe

Danny, Richie and BeBe

A friend of mine called me to say
they have a dog to give away
a stray that someone had found
that needed a home and not the pound
a place where it could happy be
with a loving family
and maybe with other dogs too
to keep her company and to play and chew
on one another as they do romp
and run and jump as all dogs do
when a loving home they answer to

Abigail looking for attention

Abigail looking for attention

Four other dogs all live with me
three are of the sausage kind.
Wiener dogs they have been called
but dachshunds is their proper name.
Abigail who likes to sleep
a couch potato who likes to eat
more than a little heavy is she
and we have been working most diligently
to lower her weight and change her shape
from the pork sausage she is today
to a breakfast link if we have our way.

BeBe looking Sleepy

BeBe looking Sleepy

BeBe is the next in size
in theory a miniature is her classified role
but like Abby she has this fault
and likes to get to her food bowl
and over the years we have done our best
to cut down the food that she partakes
and her weight goes up and down
depending on her activity role.

She is the oldest of the three
and is probably twelve or so
and in good health she is today
although it has not always been this way
as her gall bladder she had removed
as a sick little girl she was for a while
until it was gone and then she did a smile.

Richie keeping a lookout

Richie keeping a lookout

Richie is the last of the three
he too did come to me
as a dog needing a home
but only because his owners could not
keep him although they wanted to
Richie is classified as mid-sized
and  a skinny thing he was back then
Alas, he is going the way of the rest
although we have got to him in time
He is very active and likes to hunt
rats and squirrels are his favorite thing
In his mind he doesn’t know why
they can climb the trees on high
so he has tried to do the same
and on a sloping tree got as high
as twelve feet up in the sky
until he realized what he had done
and back on the ground he did quickly return.

The biggest thing that drives him nuts
are the buzzards swooping and wheeling on high
he runs from one end of the garden and then
he runs right on back again
He is a friendly little guy
with lots of tail wags and kisses too
and cuddles and sitting on laps is his thing
especially when in the evening
we sit on the couch and watch TV
with Richie on one side all cuddled up tight
and BeBe the other who with all her might
is pushing so hard to cuddle the most
as though to say,”I was here first”.
BeBe has the last word at night
as Richie sleeps by himself on the couch
BeBe makes the most of him not around
and cuddles up tight her butt pushed into
any part of me that she has found
I believe that it is a twofold thing
one is affection which she likes to show
the other is the warmth that she gains
from touching my body with her little butt.
It’s great in the winter when I can use
the heat from her to keep me warm
it’s really hard in the summer even with A/C
as her little body gets too hot for me.

Danny looking comfortable

Danny looking comfortable

The last of the four is a big ole mutt
who was born to his Mom on the side of the road.
I  fed Mom until friends we became
and one day, she hopped into my van
and with her puppies home we did go.
we found homes for two of the four
which left, Momma, Danny and Fred at my door
Danny whose real name is Danielle
is all that are left of that family
as the others passed on to Doggy heaven and reside
in the place where all good dogs go.

Danny is the sweetest of dogs
she is kind and never bad-tempered although
the  other three bug her all of the time
but in a friendly way and so
she puts up with it until it drives her nuts
and then she trots off to someplace new
and usually this is enough to get them
to leave her alone for a minute or two,

I forgot to mention that she is a mix
part looks like Setter part looks like Chow
and it’s probably the Setter that has the hair
and boy, plenty of that she has got and how
and even though she is regularly combed
all over the house the stuff can be found.

Ginny the new girl

Ginny the new girl

The little dog who needs a home
is yet another of the dachshund kind
this one a miniature true to form
and skinny too who really needs
building up just a little to make her fine
She is so happy that when she wags
her tail her whole body contorts
and I swear her butt almost touches her nose
she is so agile and moves so well
quick is the word as everything she does
is at double-quick time as though she knows
just how cute she is and she doesn’t need to try
to inveigle herself with me and the guys.

She has fitted in so well
the life of the party she has become
Richie who I was worried about
has taken to her enough that they
do get along  and they do play
although she a little wary still
as he is bigger, stronger and tougher too
she wants to be sure that he knows
to just what limits he can go

Oh yes, I forgot to say
that Ginny is the name that she
was given by my friends who
asked me if I was ready to
adapt another one of a kind
to share my life with the other dogs  who
were there first although what can be said
in our house  all are the same
and pecking order is what they figure out
to me, they all deserve a shout
as being equal in my book
is the way that we look
at each other for we know
there are no favorites here.

Brown Cat

Brown Cat

By the way, I forgot to say
that two cats also live with our tribe
to add their personalities and such
and get along they always do
except when out for groceries and things
and then the cats in my office do go
to make sure they are here when I come back
and every piece of them is intact.
As Ellie her tail she lost one day
when Richie decided he wanted to play
and too rough he got and when I got home
off to the vets her tail to remove.

That was several years ago
and I think the dogs have probably learned
but even so I’d rather not try
to leave them alone with the dogs
just in case
Richie might forget his place
and decide that this tail, the only one left
is really a tempting item of play

Ellie in her favorite place

Ellie in her favorite place

A happy house we have become
for animals are the best company bar none
nothing they ask is out of reach
and mostly they just want attention and food
and in return what do I get
undying love no strings attached
wagging tails and attention too
much more than I ever got from my wives
and I have to say, much less hassle it’s true.

Just a word so everyone knows
five dogs and two cats are the limit for me
I do not want more company
female or animal both are the same
as content we are in our own little way
five dogs, two cats and me.


Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

WildFlower Center 3

WildFlower Center  (Photo credit: StuSeeger)

I have spent many happy hours at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center  walking around and this time I had a goal in mind in writing a blog piece. I wanted to take lots of pictures and made my way down there only I forgot that they are closed on Mondays.  I was lucky enough to run into someone with some authority who I happened to know through coaching his younger daughter at soccer a few years ago. We chatted and he told me to go ahead and take as many  pictures as I wanted. Not needing a second invitation, I took out my Nikon 5100 putting my extra lenses in my photography vest and we were off. It was great having the place to myself.

It is truly a wonderful place to walk around and the flowers are out in abundance. It is hard to believe that ALL of the flowers are native plants there are so many of them. To think that Lady Bird Johnson had the vision and foresight to see Texas Native flowers and plants as something different from weeds and what is even more incredulous is that she got a lot of other people believing in her vision including this writer. My own garden has nothing but Texas Natives growing in it. I can remember a few years back when I viewed most Texas Natives as “weeds” not appreciating the beauty that every plant has.

I began my walk at the entrance where there is a wildlife pond display and was lucky enough to take a picture of a submerged turtle. The water is so clear that it shows up very well. Walking through the courtyard and past the Visitors Center I made my way up the tower and took pictures of the awe-inspiring view from above. From  there, I made my way to the Display Gardens which consist of 23 laid out gardens each one about 15 feet by 25 feet. The gardens all have different themes and the plants are a reflection of those themes. Things like Butterfly Garden, or a pond with wildlife, succulents and grasses and many more. I took a lot of pictures of many of the name signs and I made this area the focal point of my trip. The straight lines of the gardens and the plant covered walkways made for very good scenes different from the plants and trees and their irregular shapes. There is so much to see and the Wildflower people have been very creative even going so far as to set up example type layouts complete with plants and all of the trimming for the visitors to carry the ideas back to there homes and hopefully at least try. I found one sign very amusing where there was a circular lawn of texas native grass and the sign said, “Please walk on the grass”…

There are several trails that lead away from the developed area of the center and then curve back to it so that you don’t have to cover the same ground twice. They are all signposted with little alcoves with seating to rest and drinking fountains for the thirsty. I took the John Barr Trail which true to form, looped around and eventually ended back where I started. I took many pictures along the way of the beautiful and rugged countryside covered as it was with many yellow flowers of several different varieties, native grasses, cactus and typical scrubby trees. Occasionally, there are Oak trees mixed in with the Cedar and natural vegetation. All of this has adapted to the very dry and hot conditions that make the Texas summers. I also walked the Restoration and Research Trail which is the newest of the trails. This one will specialize in the native trees of Texas and there are many new trees of many different (Texas) varieties planted along the way. All of the trails have signboards depicting different aspects of the vegetation and make comparisons to todays life.

The land is harsh and uninviting and you have to wonder what the early settlers thought when they first laid eyes on it. In many places, the rock is on the surface and in others maybe a foot or two below making it difficult for anything except natural plants and grasses to grow. Yet, it has its own form of beauty and for those of us who have been here for a while, is appreciated because of it.

I have tried to lay out the slides somewhat in the order of the words written above. Basically, there are the pictures from the Tower, the walk around the Display gardens and finally the walk on the two trails that I covered. For those that are interested in growing Texas native plants, the Center holds a plant sale twice a year the next being on October 13/14. I encourage you to try these plants some of which are pretty dramatic, other just plain beautiful and some are just masses of green foliage. They all have a place in your garden.

I cannot do justice to such a wonderful place in the few words that I have written. If you live in or close to Austin, it has to be a must visit place.

Enjoy the slide show.

Below is a map of the Center. A better one can be viewed on the Wildflower website at plus a lot more information about this wonderful place.

Wildflower Center Map

Wildflower Center Map


Conversation or the written word?

Red Rose

Red Rose

Someone once said to me
how is it a poet you can be
you were not like that when you were young
all you thought about was fun
and older now and wiser to
but you still do not have a clue
to speak and make sense to the people you meet
when you see them in the street
not two words do you utter to them
as conversation is hard to do
especially for someone who
prefers to write rather than talk
as writing comes from the brain
and talking comes from the heart
and conversations can be hard
when the brain is not doing its part.

Writing invokes strong feelings about
the subject that is at hand
but conversation is more real
as passions and feelings make you feel
sad and miserable and happy too
depending on the person who
you are talking to at that time
and what the subject is about
life and death, loss or find
make conversations of the other kind
difficult to have if you are like me
as choked up I get and barely can talk
and turn away so people don’t see
the feelings I have that is in me.

That is why I prefer to write
as generally I am alone
if the words are so powerful they make me sad
at least no one else will see
what passionate words can do to me
whether they are of the written kind
or are spoken, that too is fine
I cannot help who I am
or how I react when people I see
especially those who are dear to me
although alas I have to say
some of those have passed away
and those I can write about with fine words
and shed my tears, my sorrows to feel
alone as I write with no one around.

Words will pop into my head
when pen to paper I apply
but this cannot be said
when conversations I do try
my brain thinks this and my voice says that
and the two are not in harmony
so I speak when others do engage
in conversation but all I do
is answer what they have to say
and hope we’ll meet another day
when my brain is turned on to the subject at hand
and my voice will respond to them as I plan
to get better at this talking thing.

I have been working at it for seventy years
and alas its true that all of my fears
of speaking to others is not my way
as I run out of things to say
and unless with conversation they proceed
then for me it’s time to leave
and hope that on another day
we will have much more to say.

Dedicated to the Great Conversationalists of this World.


Reporter or Writer

February 2012

My name is Frank as most of you know
a Member some time I have been, so
I attend meeting whenever I can
and when I do I enjoy my time
visiting my friends and listening to others
who more knowledge than I
give lectures of which I don’t always agree
but then again, no expert me.

I have five ponds that I did construct
each one is different for reasons unknown
I learned from the last and the one before that
till the little I’d learned I had down pat
which helped me to understand more
of what it is that I need to do
to enjoy the ponds and even the view
for the reason I built them was for beauty sake
so that in my yard much pleasure I take.

Other things in my life take my time
and often Monday nights is not fine
for me the Pond Meeting to attend
even though the choice is not always mine
to make as others lay claim on my time.

I bit of a writer is what I am
my blog site many articles contains
although I write with no  claim to fame
writing to me is fun and just plain
easy to do and because of this
B.J. has asked if interested I’d be
to write  monthly reports of the meetings we hold
for others to read and others be told
and those who are unable to attend
should know what we ate, what wonders we learned
and whether or not the meeting did earn
our thanks or was it one that we found
needed work for the topic was not one around
much discussion that is usually the sign
of a successful meeting most of the time.

And so my friends, let it be known
that at the next meeting I am able to attend
questions I may ask of you or your friend
your name for starters so that my report
will accurate be right from the start.

Do not be alarmed if I include you
as someone who had something to do
with the success of the meeting
or whatever your claim
to having your moment of fame
on my blog and on the website too
as Mary will include my written word
in her monthly meeting that she reports
that she sends to all of the members who
can read at their leisure and know all about
what happened at the Meeting they were without.

In truth my writing can be a bit wild
as things come out in some sort of rhyme
except when I’m serious or a story I write
so forgive me if you find me different at times
my reports are not always anything you find
in the newspaper or on TV
but it is out there for others to see
and to learn of the things they were not a part
for that is what makes storytelling an art.

If you want to check out my blog go to