Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
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.
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.
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.
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.
Living in Texas, one expects surprises from time to time and Texas weather is no exception. Less than 3 weeks after the last of our 100 degree weather, we are now experiencing ice rain and freezing temperatures at night with daytime highs in the low 40’s. We get a bit of a winter every year with at least one or two freezing nights and occasionally even a little snow that is generally gone by the next morning but never usually quite as early in the year as this. So, even for Texas, this cold snap is a bit of a phenomenon and I can only put it down to Global Warming which gets blamed for anything to do with abnormal weather.
I had been holding off getting into the ponds to cut back the vegetation which I normally do every winter hoping for it to correspond with cleaning out the leaves that have fallen and settled to the bottom. The frosts have completely knocked down the iris and taro plants but there are still a lot of leaves on the trees so it looks like I will need to hold off on my cleaning plans for a bit longer as I need to do both jobs at the same time. Not that I want to get outside at this time as the weather being as cold and wet as it is and there is no immediate hurry so these things can wait. Heck, I don’t even want to go hiking while it is like this. The fish have gone into semi dormancy but still show some signs of activity even if it is a bit sluggish so I have cut back on the feeding to once a day. The one good thing out of this cold weather is that most of the algae is gone as it does not like the cold water.
I have been spending some of my time working on the picture at the top of the page for a friend, taking a part of one picture and adding it to another one to combine the two. The program I used is called InPixio and it allowed me to make a lot of adjustments to reach the finished project. It took several iterations and changes of mind before we were both satisfied with the finished result. I took the cabin from one picture and added it to the main picture as you see it above even flipping it around so that it faced in the opposite direction. Oh yes, there were several different cabin pictures and lots of attempts before we arrived at the right one. Photographic software is pretty amazing.
With tongue in cheek, my friend suggested the following story about how she lived in that cabin and often sat on the porch shelling peas that she grew in the garden behind the cabin. The cow in the front is Bessie who she hand raised when her mother was killed by a mountain lion. After closer examination, she asked me to please explain that she also paid for the cow’s sex change operation.
My friend has a twisted sense of humor but then again, she is a Cajun from New Orleans…
I can’t remember what I would have been doing to keep myself occupied through an enforced indoor stay prior to 25 years ago, At that time and after computers came into general use, I worked a Home Business that was soccer related (what else) and utilized a lot of my free time working on it. That ended 15 or so years ago and then my interests changed and I started taking pictures and eventually, working on them to get a higher quality finished product. In 2011 I started this blog site and now I combine photography and writing a blog on days when the weather is too unpleasant to be outside. In the case of living in Texas that is either because it is way too hot at 100 degrees or like it is now at 41 degrees. I even discovered that I can write poetry although it has to be said, the quality is sometimes questionable.
If I really run out of ideas, I can complete Part 2 of the book I have been working on which is pretty much about my life story. The first part is of growing up in England during World War 2 through the move over to America and is already written and has been for some time. Part 2 entitled, My life in America, I have yet to start. In any case, it will be a story without an end unless someone else completes it after I am long gone from this earth. Maybe when I can no longer get out and about and have to lead a much more sedentary life, I will work on it assuming that I still have a functioning brain.
In the meantime, back to writing until the weather warms up. What will be the next subject you ask? Who knows as I haven’t got that far…
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.
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…
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.
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 email@example.com
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…
Once again my heart is heavy with grief. Not for any of my human friends or acquaintances but for another of my furry buddies.
This time my oldest living dog and the one remaining survivor from the original pack of eight, a female mini dachshund by the name of Ginnie, has joined Big Girl, Manley, Mini, Abigail, BeBe, Richie, Pete and Gizmo at the Rainbow Bridge where one day, we will all be reunited, never to be apart from each other again. Ginnie was with me for twelve wonderful years and was a couple of years old when she joined our family making her about fourteen or so.
I acquired her from a Veterinary friend who knew that I was looking for another dog at the time. She moulded into the household full of dogs and cats and although a bit standoffish, more than held her own when she needed to. Ginnie remained a bit of a standout her whole life never really making friends with any of the other dogs. Because she was the smallest, more than once she had to stand up for herself and did so very well. She had this remarkably soft coat which felt like velvet when you stroked her. At night, she had this habit of sleeping with her back touching me and I was always aware of her presence besides feeling her warmth on cold nights. Even though she was small, she would not take any crap from any of the other dogs and could sound quite ferocious.
I will miss her as she was always glad to see me and always made a fuss of me whenever I came home. It’s so sad when we lose our pets and they are never with us for very long. Just when you are used to having them around, they up and die because their lives are so short. Ginnie died from complications with pulmonary lung illness within three days of the symptoms and did so in her own way. She had been on the bed, her usual spot, and I watched as she pushed her way through the doggy door as she had done thousands of times before. She went out onto the deck and barked a couple of times and sat there looking around. Then, she moved onto one of the lower flower beds by the two ponds and lay down and passed quietly away as I watched, with tears streaming down my face.
I buried her along with all of her other buddies next to the big pond where she will spend the rest of her days. There are now ten dogs and two cats in that area all sleeping their final sleep together.
I should point out that my most recent adoptee that I have had for almost a year is another dachshund by the name of Buddy Holly, shortened to Buddy who is half blind, mostly deaf, has no sense of smell and more than a little senile. But, he gets about just fine and takes walkabouts out in the garden and is living out his life with us. His estimated age is twelve but I believe that he is probably a couple of years older so he and Ginnie were about the same age. I was hoping when I got him that he and Ginnie would become best buds but Ginnie, being who she was, just wouldn’t be friends.
Will I ever get another dog not to replace her but to fill the void that is left? Probably another rescue is the answer…
My thanks go to Dr Donop and all of the staff members at Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital who as usual, did all they could to help Ginnie. It was just destined not to be…
Stories about family, faith, friends and funnies. Pull up a chair. Grab a cup of coffee and laugh, cry, ponder and inspire about ordinary events of this wonderful, ever changing, bubbling pot that we call "every day life".