America, the Promised Land


The Statue of Liberty

It was exactly 52 years ago on March 13, 1967 that I and my family landed from England at New York City Harbor. The trip on the luxury liner, the Queen Mary, had lasted longer than was scheduled due to stormy weather which blew the ship off course and we missed the tide causing it to dock 12 hours later than planned.

The trip had not been uneventful as the beautiful old ship was buffeted around with stormy weather and rough seas. Our family, well the female side of it, suffered from seasickness and spent quite a bit of time in the cabin and only made rare trips for food which was a pity for them as the spread put on for the diners was out of this world. My Stepson and I had no trouble and we more than made up for for ours and their share of the meals. It was interesting to be dining and the ship would lurch and we had to grab the stuff on the table to stop it from sliding off.

We had brought out little dog, a cocker spaniel named Melody along with us and she got to stay in her own little kennel on the top deck along with several other dogs all making the trip to the promised land. We would visit her several times a day just so that she wouldn’t think we had deserted her. America does not have any quarantine laws.

The first sign and the realization of what we were about to do really hit us as we pulled into New York Harbor and saw the Statue of Liberty in all of her Glory there to welcome us. Up to that point, it was just a fun trip, except for the seasickness of course, with no idea of what exactly we had committed ourselves to do.

When we finally pulled into Pier 22 in New York Harbor, and after collecting our dog, we had to wait on the Pier before we were allowed to meet up with my Mother, who we could see behind the barricade. She was with a friend from Fort Plain who she had persuaded to make the 200 mile trip from the little village in the Mohawk Valley. That and the fact the he had a station wagon which at the time, was the biggest car I had ever seen. In all of the hurly burly of landing, we knew we were in America as everyone had a strange American accent. More than anything, this really brought it home. We collected our luggage and the couple of trunks that we had brought with us, loaded everything onto the carrier on the roof of the car and proceeded to drive back to Fort Plain at night and in the snow passing and being passed by huge tractor trailers, some hauling double trailers and travelling at 70 plus mph. I had never seen anything so big on any road before in my life. As I was not driving, I didn’t have to worry about it.

That night, it snowed 13 inches of wet messy snow. I had never seen anything more than a couple of inches before and to see that amount all at one time just added to our mixed up thoughts of what we had let ourselves in for.

That was 52 years ago and a lot has happened since then. Many in my family from that time have passed on including my Mother and Stepfather, one of my Step Daughters and my Brother. My wife of that time that made the trip with me, recently passed on. Unfortunately, we were divorced 10 years after landing, another casualty of such a huge upheaval in our lives. She was so homesick for the old country and went back. The rest of the family is spread all the way from New York State to Florida and California.

Do I regret making that trip? In some ways I would have to say yes. From such a simple beginning living way out in the English countryside to the hustle and bustle of the American way of life is a huge change and hard to get used to, all of which added to the rigors of married life and keeping the family together. On the other hand, it is great to be a part of this huge technological period which we are going through and for all of its faults, America is a very forward thinking country with all manner of “stuff” available to just about anyone. I made a good living and was able to retire quite comfortably even if it is only me and 4 little dogs. Would I make the same decision if I had to do it over? I think not. I think I would have stayed and put up with the incessant rain and bloody cold weather and lived a quiet life out in the country living in the past and to hell with technology and modern living.

Oh yes, I have never been back not even for a vacation.

Written 3/8/2019

Wondering


I wonder what this year will bring
now that it is nearly Spring
trees all bursting out with leaves
and flowers of every color achieved
everything new and fresh and green
Natures wonders to be seen
a new birth for her every year
to make everything fresh and clear
what about the rest of life
will it bring to me another wife
of one thing I am very sure
no more as wives for me I deplore
three of them I have tried
and none of them could decide
that I was meant to be their mate
which we found out almost too late
that was many years ago
I have lived alone and like it so
with no one telling me what to do
and living my life as they haven’t a clue
of what it is that make me tick
come to that I am not so slick
as often I don’t know which way is up
but I have no wives so I am in luck
I wonder how hot it is going to be
when Summer arrives we shall see
but this is Texas and we all know
that hot it will be as the temperature shows
at least one hundred degrees and more
in the middle of summer the temperature soars
we slap on the cream and put on our hats
and venture out for no bravery we lack
it is a part of everyday life
the heat of the Summer is a part of the strife
that we face from day to day
and on this we can have no say
as Mother Nature is who decides
on the weather and how we live our lives
and she has decided that it is Spring
that we can enjoy as the birds all sing.

Written 3/2/2019





Everything Goes in Threes


I was talking to a neighbour as we had both come out to our mailboxes at the same time. We were just passing the day as neighbors sometimes do and he noticed that I was wearing what he thought were clip on shades to my glasses. I proudly showed him that they were actually held on by little magnets hardly visible to the naked eye. He seemed interested enough that he might consider getting a set for his own use.

We went our ways both back indoors and I decided that I needed to get out the riding mower to trim both the front and the very small back areas which are about the only areas that have any grass in or outside of my yard. The rest of the space is taken up with the five ponds. The sun was shining bright and the temperature was a very nice 85 degrees, would you believe. Pretty amazing for the time of year as after all, technically it is still wintertime here in Texas. Being the very attentive person that I am on listening to the advice of my Dermatologist, or more probably afraid of her lecture for not following her instructions, I went back indoors and slathered my face, neck, arms and legs (I wear shorts year round) with suntan lotion. I noticed that for some reason, the lotion, which was nearly empty anyway, had turned very runny and was more like oil than ointment. I continued to use it not giving much thought to the consequences.

I went back to work on the mowing and managed to finish the front area which, incidentally is the largest of the two areas. I have already mentioned that it was a rather hot day and consequently I started to sweat although I didn’t notice it too much. Then my eyes started to sting just a little and being so engrossed in what I was doing, thought that it was probably some pollen or dust that had got in.

By this time, I had driven the mower back inside the yard and to the back area which as I said before, is the only area that has any open space. The reason for the space is that the name of my street is called Murmuring Creek and the creek in question is created anytime we get a gully washing downpour, the kind that drops several inches of rain in a very short space of time and it runs out of the 24 inch drainage pipe which runs under the road, under my fence and then through the back yard. This is the lowest spot for several hundred yards around adding to the amount of water coming out of the pipe and then under my fence. I have a half acre lot and I have had it flood as far as halfway up the garden in years gone by but with some clever manipulation and strategic placement of several railroad ties, I have managed to keep the water to the very lowest point. It still floods my yard but only for about 20 odd feet or so.

By now, I was sweating profusely and my eyes were really beginning to sting. I kept stopping and wiping them and adding eye drops which I always carry. It was getting hard to see but I was determined that I was going to finish the damn mowing which I eventually did. I drove the mower back out of the backyard and into my garage which is where I keep it. By the way, this is the first year that I have not had to take the mower and get it overhauled like I have in the past forever Springtimes due mainly to the fact that I remembered to start it up every 3-4 weeks this year and so keeping it in running order.

Only when I walked back into the house did I realize that I no longer had the dark clip on shades on my glasses, the ones that my neighbor so admired. Fearing the worst and with my eyes still smarting from the mixture of sweat and sun lotion, I went back out into the yard to look for them. Sure enough, I found them at the spot that I inadvertently knocked off my glasses to wipe my streaming and very painful eyes. The problem was that I had mowed over them and I could only find one half, the other is probably miles away with the force of the mower blades.

That was that so sore eyes and minus sun shades, I decided that I really needed to go to the Supermarket to stock the larder. Here in Texas we are in the habit of carrying our own shopping bags into the store in an effort to cut back on the amount of plastic in the landfills and as is the case with plastic bags, on the fences and hedgerows along the side of the road. I grabbed two of my bags and placed them in my shopping cart only to discover when I eventually checked out, that I only had one bag still in the cart. Somewhere on my way around the store, the other bag had fallen out and I had not noticed. I finished checking out and made a quick walk around doubling back on my tracks but to no avail as there was no sight of the bag. I donate to a lot of charities and have shopping bags from them which I am proud to use and display and this particular bag was brand new having never been used. It was from Doctors Without Borders and was the first that I had from them. Oh well, as long as someone is putting it to good use and is advertising for them, it matters not who.

I got back into my truck and sat there for a moment thinking about the days events and how they come in threes in my case sun lotion in my eyes, running over my shades and then losing the bag. At least there was nothing wrong with my Grande Latte from the next door Starbucks.

Written 2/16/2019

A Silly Rhyme.


I’m running out of things to do
and running out of things to write
for the past few days I have spent indoors
the weather being the cause of my plight
it has been cold and wet during those days
with temperatures close to freezing at night
and not getting much warmer in any way
enough to keep me indoors out of sight
my poetical genius is sorely stressed
with trying to find things to write
and getting those words into a rhyme
is proving much harder more like a fight
I really should go and work out
as exercise could make things alright
give the muscles a stretch and blood to the brain
and tone up the body and make everything tight
my mind is not really in the mood
to push the body and so despite
the fact that I am gaining weight
my mind cannot act so forthright
instead I will think of other things
to try to keep the body tight
and I need to end this silly rhyme
much to everyone’s delight.

Written 2/10/2019




Winter ?


Snow in Austin in 2011

Sitting here looking out at the view
wondering what I can do
as the skies are grey and the temperature cold
as winter tries to keep its hold
from sixty five degrees two days ago
this morning we have had some snow
albeit just the faintest of traces
not like some of the other places
where it is measured by the foot
anything less and the point is moot
with the temperature around thirty six degrees
enough to freeze the skin off my knees
and make me put on longer pants
or maybe just to take a chance
the temperature inside of the house
is seventy five and as warm as a mouse
so I think that inside is where I will stay
as outside I do not need today.

Written 2/8/2019

APS February Meeting 2019


The Speaker for the evening, Cindy Cassidy

The third Monday of the month rolled around as it always does bringing with it the Austin Pond Society monthly meeting. Although we are still missing a Hospitality Person on the Board, Barb Lenhardt, our new President, stopped by her local HEB SuperMarket and ordered a bunch of sandwiches of different varieties and flavors. This coupled with the deserts brought by the members made for an adequate meal to start off the proceedings.

There were around 32 members in attendance to hear the speaker, Cindy Cassidy talk about Night Skies and Light Pollution, a subject that not too many of us ever think about. It was a very interesting presentation as she described the way that light from various sources is wasted by poor planning and the use of the proper shading. When you consider that wasted light is wasted money, then things take on a different perspective. She also spent some time talking about the effects that lighting has on wildlife especially birds that are known to crash into buildings by the hundreds. She also discussed how plant life is affected when the proper hours of darkness are not sufficient to stimulate growth. All in all, very much food for thought.

Following her talk, we had a discussion on String Algae hosted by BJ Jenkins which the Members joined in with their opinions and questions. This is an idea that BJ has come up with to hold at every meeting based on whatever subject is important at the time. If you have something that you would like discussed, contact BJ Jenkins at this link.

The last item of the meeting was the business section when several items were covered including the upcoming 25th Annual Pond Tour. Ted Paone, the Pond Tour Chairman, outlined the plans for this event including the fact that several more ponds are still needed. This year’s event will not be as big as previous Tours and will host anywhere from 6-8 ponds on either day, the idea being that guests can spend more time at each pond and have more time to travel between the ponds. Volunteers are still needed to welcome the guests and sell the tickets. If you are interested in helping out, contact Ted Paone at this email address.

The meeting ended with the Raffle, always a popular event as three lucky Members won a gift chosen by Barb, our President. The next meeting is on March 18th, same time, same place. The scheduled Speaker is Reeve Hobbie from Travis County Master Gardeners and he will be speaking about “If Plants Could Talk “ – unusual facts about native plants. Hope to see you there.
BTW, if you are interested in the Hospitality position on the Board, contact Barb at this link.

Below are the three videos of the evening. The first is the full coverage of the talk given by Cindy Cassidy.

Texas Night Skies

The second video is of the Business part of the meeting and is broken into two separate videos. The first video is of half of the business discussion. The second video is of very poor quality and sound due to not using a tripod and not hooking up the microphone. This was unfortunately brought about by no break between the Speaker and her presentation and the Business section as I had no time to replace the battery and had to switch cameras. My apologies for the very poor content of the second video.

Part 1
Part 2

Written 2/22/2019

Birthdays


Another birthday has come and gone
just as it did last year
I hope that I can carry on
and next years will also appear
for each birthday represents a date
of time that is passing away
never ever to be regained
time lost with each passing day
I suppose that lost is not the right word
as memories we have gained
in all of those years that are now gone
none have ever been the same
each giving us a glimpse of wonders good and bad
as we go through life some happy and others sad
I have been on this earth for eighty three years
with all of it’s ups and downs
and I would like to see so many more
before the end is found
how many more birthdays will I see
how many years to add
how much more of Nature to enjoy
and memories both good and bad
of one thing I am very sure no matter what the end
the life I have lived is mine alone and for this I would like it extend
if I could ever do it again many changes I would make
but only in the way I lived not the person to forsake
for that man turned out alright the best that he could be
just an ordinary working guy enjoying life’s mysteries.

Written 2/4/2019