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

The World Needs Us.


An uphill climb…

I was just reading a piece from a fellow blogger who recently suffered a heart attack. Like many of us, he had quite a few blogs written and scheduled in advance each with their own date as they waited to be posted. Sadly, he informed us that he had reached the end of his backlog and would not be posting for a while as he recuperated and all of his followers, myself included, will miss reading his blogs and enjoying his wonderful pictures.

I mention this because our hold on life on this planet is at the very best, pretty fragile as none of us know what is around the corner, good or bad. We could win the lottery one day and be dead the next such is our tentative existence. That is not even considering the quality of life that we possess and what the fates have given us whether it is being born with a golden spoon or the hard working life of the middle class or even living on the streets like many of the homeless. In this respect, we have very little in the way of choices and are stuck with the hand that we are dealt.

In spite of all of this, humans have a wonderful resiliency and ability to adjust when it is needed in order to support those they love that surround them which includes the many animals and birds of every variety that Nature has provided. With the threat of Global Warming hanging over our collective heads and Governments and individuals that are all too willing to turn a blind eye to the distress and species extinction this is causing, it takes effort from all of us to try to turn things around.

Like our fellow blogger who is just waiting to regain his strength and ability to start writing again, we all need to suck in a lungful of air, take a look around and see what we each individually can do to help this world and our fellow man. After all, it is the Holiday Season and we should all be filled with the Christmas Spirit and even if you are of a different faith or maybe a non believer, the people around us along with the animals and birds need our collective love.
Everything and everyone is important.

Written 11/29/2019

Reimers Ranch 11-4-2019


The horse coral is on the right

At the last minute I decided that I would take a short walk at Reimers Ranch mainly because it is close to me at least, compared to the other places that I like to hike. It is about 15 miles from my house and doesn’t take me very long to get there.

It was a beautiful day, clear and sunny with the temperature around 80 degrees, far less that the 100 degrees that we have had just a couple of weeks ago. Texas weather is very strange and is hard to adjust to. The only certain thing is that it will be 100 degrees in the summer and anywhere from 60 degrees to a few degrees below freezing in the winter and not too many of those days, either.

There were several cars in the Parking Lots as other like me have been waiting for it to cool down. This on a weekday. I parked in the Mountain Bike Parking Lot as I had already decided that I would take the trail that divides the big loop and ends at Johnny’s Homestead. The big loop is labeled as the Multi Use Trail and is almost 5 miles around it and makes for a nice and easy walk for anyone interested in getting some exercise. It’s only problem is the lack of shade and probably three quarters of it is out in the sun.

A couple on Mountain Bikes passed me and we exchanged greetings. They were the only people that I saw on this particular walk. The walking was easy and I managed to work up a sweat in no time flat. I opted to take the shortcut that probably lessened the walk by half a mile or so. One thing that I noticed was the complete absence of birds either visibly or audibly. When walking out in the open, it is hard to see them sometimes as they have the annoying habit of flying on just ahead of you and not settling to where I could get pictures but this time around, there were none that I could see.

I made good time and walked past the parking lot where the horse trailers pull in but it too was empty. It was not until I had turned back into the road that leads back to my truck that I saw and heard a flock of birds. They were too far way to get any pictures but at least I got to see them as they landed on the ground to feed. They looked like quail.

There were a couple more trucks in the lot than when I left. There is a wooden veloway built by the County and I had heard these riders as they worked out on it. I could not see them from my location but they came back to their truck and we chatted for a bit.

Altogether, I covered almost 3 miles of very pleasant walking although it turned out to be hot enough that as usual, I had to change my clothes before the drive home. I took a few pictures but there was really nothing much to photograph that I hadn’t already taken pictures of before.

It was great to be back out walking again and oh yes, I voted today…

11/5/2019

APS November Meeting and Christmas Party 2019


Some of the Members and Guests

The Austin Pond Society held its final meeting of the year on November 18 in the form of a Christmas Party which was attended by around 45 members and guests. The entire evening was devoted to eating, mixing and mingling, Blue Santa and a presentation of checks to four different organizations. This was a marked change from previous parties when we have had some other entertainment in the form of contests, music, dancing and other such fun and games. As far as the food, what better way to celebrate Christmas in Texas than Rudy’s Barbecue with all of the fixin’s including pumpkin and apple pies. This was all delicious and very much enjoyed by the members.

The Austin Pond Society made four donations to charitable causes this year. They included Austin Pets Alive, KLRU for Central Texas Gardener, McBee Elementary School and Overton Elementary School for their programs of Hands on Gardening.

Amanda Williams from Austin Pets Alive attended to receive the check.

Formal and proper
How they really feel about the party

This year, as they have done for the past couple of years, Santa and Mrs Klaus attended in full costume along with a couple of helpers. They mixed and mingled and enjoyed the food and the company and made a presentation outlining what it is that Blue Santa brings to 4500 families in Austin that otherwise would be lacking gifts and food at Christmas. As per previous years, the APS members had brought in a whole tables worth of presents for the kids. One of the high points of the evening was when one of our Sponsors, Matt Boring of Texas Ponds and Water Features and two of his people, one dressed as a giant frog, brought in two large sacks of toys to add to the collection. A very nice gesture from Matt and thank you.

The evening closed with a small bit of business and discussion. We are still lacking a nominee for the position of Pond Tour Director which is a bit of a worry. We still have a some time but if any of you are interested, please contact our President, Barb Lenhardt at president@austinpondsociety.org

Hope to see you all next year at out first meeting which will be held at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens on Monday, January 20, 2020. The Speaker will be from Travis County Master Gardeners and the subject will be Drip Irrigation. By the way, I can’t believe that we are looking at 2020 already. It seems like something out of a science fiction movie…

Thank you to everyone that makes Austin Pond Society such a great group to work with and for being such a fun bunch of crazy fish and pond enthusiasts.
Welcome to the start of a brand new year…

Written 11/26/2019