APS January Meeting 2020 – The start of a New Year


Reeve Hobbie, Master Gardener.

Austin Pond Society held its first meeting of the year and as is always the case, it was held on the third Monday of the month at Zilker Botanical Gardens. There were around forty attendees all were ready to welcome the new season. As usual, we were treated to a meal which consisted of two different kinds of chile with all of the fixin’s. Deserts were provided by the members. This was Ted’s first attempt at feeding the membership and he did an outstanding job. Thank you Ted. If this was a taste (excuse the pun) of what we have to come in the future, then we are in for some very good meals. Another reason to join the Pond Society.

Desserts brought in by the Members.

The Speaker for the evening was one of our long time favorites, Reeve Hobbie who is a Master Gardener with Travis County Agrilife Extension Services. His topic for the evening was “Native and adapted perennials”. His presentation with the visual aid of slides was very interesting and picturesque and he had a very attentive audience.

Video of Reeve Hobbie holding a discussion on Native Plants
Business section of the Meeting.

Following the Speaker, Barb, our President had a few words to say concerning the relevant business of the day. Among other things, she mentioned is that Jeannie Ferrier who along with husband Steve, do all of the fish rescues, is looking for anyone who may be interested in learning how these rescues are accomplished by giving a helping hand. You can contact Jeannie at fishrescue@austinpondsociety.org. The meeting ended with the drawing for the raffle.

The next meeting will be held on Monday, February 17 at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens. The next Speaker will be Bill Biggadike and the topic will be Landscape Lighting. Hope to see you there.

Written 01/22/2019

January 20th was My Birthday


Me at 19 years old. A long, long time ago when I still had hair

January 20th was my 84th birthday. Happy Birthday to me…

Who would ever have thought that I would have managed to last this long. From avoiding the bombs and doodlebugs of World War 2, to playing soccer all of my life and suffering blows on the head causing concussion, numerous broken limbs resulting in time spent in a cast, from irate husbands for daring to flirt with their wives and girlfriends including a spell in hospital by one who really did a number on me, living through three broken marriages including outliving one of those wives, losing the lives and friendship of countless doggy friends and living a solitary batchelor life for the past twenty eight years giving up on women and wives as a lost cause at least for me and preferring the company of those same doggy friends. Did I mention the trip across the Atlantic to a new life in a strange country? By the way, after fifty three years of living here, this country is still strange and bewildering.

Looking back on all of those years wondering what I would have changed if I had foresite really becomes a bit of a puzzler. Thinking about it, if I could have changed just one thing early in my life, which would have changed the whole sequence of events and making the future different, it probably it would have been that when I was ten, my Mother never left my Father to come over to America to marry a GI she met in the war. Who knows what would have happened if our family had stayed together back in those troubled times. One thing for sure is that I would never have come to America which for all of its greatness does have a lot of problems especially in the modern day political picture. Even after all of these years, I very much miss the old country although it has probably changed to where I wouldn’t recognize it.

Still, all of that is history as is my life up to this point. Nowadays, my concerns are much more mundane. Things like when and where to go for the next hike, what problems do the ponds and fish have today, is that a Heron out there? are all of the dogs OK and what to eat for dinner tonight. I do worry a bit about what little future I have as the body grows older and weaker and the mind is not as sharp as it used to be. Should I sell the house and move where? Into an old folks home to join all of the other old fogeys sitting around and waiting to die. I am not ready for that so I will probably live the way that I am until I am senile or I get carried out feet first in a wooden box preferably a plain old pine box with no trimmings to be buried under a tree in a natural setting.

Compared to a lot of people, I have been fortunate to have lived as long as I have and with relatively good health and being comfortably enough off to enjoy it. I hope that I can continue living for a few more years as long as my health stays good. If I do become senile, then I give anyone permission to shoot me just as they did in the old Wild West as I don’t want to become a vegetable.

Life is way too beautiful for that.

Written 01/20/2019

The Dogs on a Rainy Day


Mikey, my affectionate little boy
Buddy just living out his life
Sandy looking pensive…

Today outside it is rainy and cold
and my interests in being out there are on hold
as I had planned to hike today
but the inclement weather has made me stay
indoors along with the dogs in the heat
who are all snuggled up warm and asleep
all of them have their favorite places
where none of the others dare show their faces
Mikey has a chair right next to mine
where he spends most of his time
when I am working at my desk
this is the spot that he loves the best
just a paws length away and close to his Dad
surely the best spot of all to be had
and occasionally when he thinks it is time
he will jump from his chair and onto mine
looking for attention that he knows is there
spending time on my lap which the others can’t share
although Sandy is not going to be left out
her favorite spot is without a doubt
one of the dog beds that are spread around
of which at least four can be found
but the minute I get up or stroke Mikey’s head
she is right there beside us with a, stroke me instead
making sure she gets her fair share of attention
wiggling away to be part of the action
and the minute she figures the treats are all through
back to the beds more snoozing to do
there is only one more dog in the clan
since Ginnie has gone to the Promised Land
Buddy the little old man of them all
at fourteen or so and not very tall
who is deaf and half blind but still trucks around
on walkabouts in the garden where he can be found
wandering on pathways where he gets confused
and quickens his pace as he tries to choose
the right way to go to get back inside
as his senility is sometimes a little hard to hide
he always eventually gets it right
and pushes through the doggy door with all of his might
and heads back to his basket where he can sleep
and dream of the walkabout his memory can keep
it’s great to have four legged friends
who are loving and faithful right to the end
who sense my moods if I am down
or join in with me if I act the clown
who ask nothing more than to be by my side
with love and affection they do not hide
if dogs have a fault then it has to be said
their short lifespan breaks hearts when they are dead
till another comes along not to replace
but to fill in the voids in that big empty space
that their passing does leave as Nature does say
that the cycle goes on for another day
I will always have dogs right to the end
until my flesh is so weak that I cannot fend
for them or for me and my time will cease
as I lay down by their graves my spirit at peace.

Written 12/20/2019.

The New Year is Here


Even in a Texas winter, Nature is beautiful

Well, the old calendar has gone and done it again. It has turned over another month and lo and behold, along with it another year. We are now in the year of 2020 which really sounds like something out of a space movie. I fully expected that when I woke up on January 1, to be reading about visitors from outer space who had made a quick visit to meet and greet us only to discover that by their standards, we were nothing better than a bunch of cavemen. Not wanting to socialize with a world of inept barbarians, they had quickly departed back to who knows where.

Well, it didn’t happen as there were no visits from outer space that we know of but we are still a bunch of inept barbarians whose only mission in life is greed and wealth for the one percent and a working slog for the remaining ninety nine percent to keep the one percent on top of the pedestal. Not content with our lot, we choose to make war on our fellow man in our struggles to join the same one percenters and to take over entire countries just because we don’t agree with their way of life or religion or color or speech or that they have wealth that we want for ourselves.

While we are so busy fighting amongst ourselves and against each other, we are killing our planet as we pump all of the wrong stuff into the atmosphere and into our streams and rivers which eventually, and not in the very far distant future, will kill our planet and every living thing that currently inhabits it. That is if we haven’t already accomplished that by fighting amongst ourselves and wiping ourselves off the planet by the use of EMP bombs as nations go to war against each other.

But, all is not lost. For those of us who have grown older and somehow have managed to scrape up enough material possessions in our working life to give us a somewhat comfortable retirement, we do have those remaining years to look forward to. Whether it is alone or with a mate, life is still full of wonderful surprises. Just to wake up in the mornings with the sun shining and the birds singing as we take a stroll around our gardens with a cup of coffee in our hand, admiring ours and Mother Nature’s combined handiwork accompanied in my case, by two very cheerful and busy little dogs as they too, greet the morning. My two constant companions.

On mornings such as this, all of the bad things get pushed to the background, out of sight and out of mind, at least temporarily until I come back inside and open up my computer to read about the mornings happenings throughout the world. Then I sigh and wish that I had never grown old and was back in England in 1946, still a ten year old kid with my whole life stretching out in front of me. I sure would have made a lot of different decisions if I had that foresight. As that is never going to happen as much as I wish it to, I jump back to reality and figure out what to do today after breakfast and answering the few emails of importance that I get.

For most of us, the real world revolves around us and those that are immediately impacted by what we do and say. Whether it be our relatives in which I include wives and kids or neighbors that live in our close proximity, they all might be affected by any one of our actions. Everyday outside occurrences have some effect on all of us and some are affected more than others.

So, where does that leave us? Most of us are just small fry in a very large pond and can only collectively make any changes and that is by sheer weight of numbers like voting in local and major elections. We can change the way we live and try to be more Eco Friendly and do our bit to help save the planet. We can be kinder in our everyday actions whether that be by restraining how we speak and feel about others that we consider to be lesser people than ourselves or helping that guy on the street down on his luck and is looking for a handout. Or even simple things like picking up our trash and recycling as much as possible all help in the big picture. But, most of all, we need to treat our bodies with respect, watch what we eat, get more exercise, stay active including our minds and try to live a better and cleaner life.

Will that solve the world’s problems and of course, the answer is no but it might help us to enjoy our time on this planet which is altogether way too brief. So, Happy New Year everyone. May you get whatever it is that you wish for but remember, nothing is free. You have to earn it.

Written 1/8/2020

End of Another Year


What is at the other end of the bridge?

Another year has come to an end
and with its passing like losing a friend
with the New Year not far behind
bringing in things of a different kind
it’s not like we have a fresh start
and that our troubles all depart
everything that was there before
is still there knocking on our door
we are not really another year older
and definitely not any wiser
even though twelve months have passed
we hope that it is not the last
of these years that keep passing by
before we reach up to the sky
and give up our life here on this earth
hoping that we have proved our worth
enough of these melancholy thoughts
instead we are grateful what time has bought
another year spent on this planet
with family and friends and pets along with it
lots of things to look forward to
what they are we haven’t a clue
but it matters not whether good or bad
or whether they make us happy or sad
the future for us is already ordained
we cannot change what it is or keep it the same
our lives are governed by forces unknown
and the time that we have is really on loan
and is over in the blink of an eye
as time is as deep as the endless sky
and all we can do is enjoy what is there
with Nature to guide us we haven’t a care
on this Beautiful Planet that we call home
with others around us we are never alone.
Happy New Year.

Written 12/19/2019

McKinney Roughs 1-3-2020


The view from the top of the park
Winter view

The first blog written in 2020 of a short hike that my friend BJ and I took. 2020 sounds like something out of a science fiction movie.

We hadn’t walked in a while and originally, we were going to hike at Reimers Ranch as she has never been there before. But, due to an unplanned delay on her end, we ended up at McKinney Roughs as it was closer to her house in Bastrop. I really like walking at the Roughs as the trails are pretty interesting with a mix of wide and narrow, shaded and unshaded, easy walking to very rough footing and major changes of contours which always seem to be uphill. Not only that, the Check In Office sells ice cream, a tasty reward for the end of the walk.

Riverside Trail

As the pictures show, the Roughs very much have their winter coats on with almost everything a shade of grey and brown and not very much green. Even so, we did find a couple of patches of flowers, namely Copper Canyon Daisy that were still showing their pretty faces.

Copper Canyon Daisy

It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun was shining and the temperature was around a mild 72 degrees, just right for walking and very little breeze to talk of. We came across several people, all with dogs and stopped to chat to a couple of them. With such beautiful weather, I am not surprised that other people were out and about.

We decided to take the Riverside trail with the intention of turning off onto Valley View but decided to stay on Riverside and as the name suggests, it does eventually take us down to the Colorado River. As it happens, this river does have a lot of water in it as compared to the Pedernales at Reimers Ranch which is running very low.

The trail runs parallel to the river although the views are not very clear due to the brush and trees. We came across our early acquaintances and this time, they had ventured out onto the Roughs which are a bunch of rocks that form little islands in the river. Their dogs were thoroughly enjoying the water. We followed the river and at one point spotted cows across on the other side. We had been wondering why the grass on that side was so well trimmed and quickly found out why.

The Park people have done a lot of work on the trails, at least on the major ones like the one we were on and the walking was very easy. It got a little more difficult as we went down the hill towards the river as the ground changed to very loose pebbles making it a little tricky. This happens a lot as with the changing contours of the land, the various and different layers of materials become exposed.

From Riverside, we took Bluff Trail Loop which started us on the way back to the car park. As Riverside had been flat and then downhill, so Bluff Trail Loop is all uphill and much narrower and rockier to walk on. Eventually, this trail turned into Ridge which brought us back to the starting point. We never see much wildlife as we are probably way too noisy but we did get to see the buzzard in flight.

We were exploring the flowers gardens in the main Campus and I heard someone call my name. Looking up, I saw a couple of ladies in front of me and the taller of the two introduced herself and her friend. Turns out that she was an ex soccer player and recognized me from when I was involved in the Women’s Soccer program in Austin. We chatted for a while mainly about the beauties of this specific park. Interesting the people that you run into while out on these hikes. True to form, BJ turned down my offer of buying her an ice cream and left to drive home. Me, I didn’t have her will power and treated myself to a Nutty Bar which disappeared before I even drove out of the parking lot. Altogether, we covered 4.6 miles of very enjoyable walking.

Written 1/7/2020

Growing Old


It is too late for regrets, just be thankful you are old and not dead.

Funny thing that when you are young
and your life has just begun
you never think of that day
when your life starts slipping away
as the present is all fun and play
and the body reacts in a normal way
then one day what used to be fun
now takes more effort as aging has begun
the aches and pains and all the hard knocks
take longer to heal and are more of a shock
bathroom breaks come faster it seems
and walking past one the impossible dream
the hair is gone and now there’s a gut
no matter on how hard you suck
to try to make yourself look thin
for that is an unlikely dream
pretty girls are still worth the time
to watch them out of the corner of your eye
for to stare at them admiring their form
only gets you treated with scorn
and labelled as a dirty old man
though what it is that they don’t understand
that looking at them is all you can do
as age has left you a little askew
and things that used to work so fine
now are reminders of a different time
with physical pleasures a thing of the past
alas good things just don’t last
you sigh and walk slowly away
with thoughts abound of a long lost day
when girls looked at you with smouldering eyes
handsome and confident needing no disguise
not thinking that this day would come
and an old man in more ways than one
and that is about the extent of my life
which now resembles more of a strife
to get my body to work just fine
even though it takes more time
to crawl out of bed so cozy and warm
with the company of dogs who true to form
snuggle up in the night which is no mean feat
staying close to me to get the heat
that my body puts off to keep them warm
thinking that this is the norm
and is what dogs do in their natural way
to protect their hooman from going astray
the body may be weak but the spirit is strong
though it takes more effort to drive it along
it’s still worth the time that the effort does take
as even an old man has a future at stake
it’s not time to lay down and die
but to give it a shot and your best try
and to work through the aches and the pains
and be smart about what is possible to attain
as an old man still has his pride
in allowing his body to be his guide
if he can physically perform each task
then there is nothing left to ask
and until his dying day
this old man will do things his way…

Written 12/15/2019