Austin Pond Society 25th Pond Tour for 2019.


Yellow Crowned Night Heron nest with three babies.

The Austin Pond Society held their annual pond tour over the weekend of June 1-2 returning after missing out on having a tour last year, 2018. The size of the tour was also cut back to a more manageable number easily covered on each day, Saturday for the South Side of the Colorado River and Sunday for the north side.

The tour had a few of the spectacular favorites plus several new ponds which have never been on the tour before. All, regardless of the size, had something to offer in the way of beauty and in some cases, originality. One of the highlights included a nest of Yellow Crowned Night Herons complete with three babies that appeared to almost be ready to fly the roost. Ironic that one of the pond owners natural enemies could hold so much fascination when babies are involved.The night pond that has been on the tour several times before was just as spectacular as it has always been.

If you click on a picture, it will enlarge and you can use the side arrows to move along. Use the “escape” key to return to normal size.

I have put together two slideshows which takes about twenty minutes to view but is well worth it as it shows the spectacular beauty of ponds of different sizes and types and all of the accompanying work that has gone into the landscaping and plants and flowers that make up the whole garden. One pond even had three live donkeys which attracted as much attention as the ponds for the younger members on the tour.

All in all, the tour was a resounding success and even though smaller than previous tours, has probably set a new standard in both number of ponds and quality.

Written 6/5/2019

Waiting Around


I had to bring my truck back in
for a service it was due
as I keep driving it around
and the miles they have accrued
I spend a lot of time on the road
sometimes just driving around
as I listen to Audiobooks
and the stories I have found
to be most interesting to me
and keep me all involved
trying to figure how it will end
to get the mystery solved
I sometimes listen when I am home
but it is not the same
as driving around in my truck
adding miles that I have gained
and so I find myself once more
back at the dealership
to keep the truck in tip top shape
and keep it running slick
this time it took a half a day
for them to do their bit
so I used the time to write this poem
using my clever wit.

Written 6/5/2019

A Hike at McKinney Roughs 4-20-2019


The very muddy Colorado River

Tired of sitting around indoors, I made a last minute decision that I wanted to take a hike. The next question was where did I want to go. After considerable thought, I decided that as I hadn’t been to McKinney Roughs in a while, that would be a good place. I texted my friend BJ to see if she was interested but she texted back that she already had plans.

I wasn’t about to let that stop me from enjoying the beautiful Spring day and after a short drive of about thirty miles, found myself in the parking lot at McKinney. I had recently bought a new backpack that I hadn’t yet had time to try out. I had already packed it with all of the relevant gear including the Tamron 160-600 long lens which, if I plan on using , usually carry already attached to a camera and on a waist harness. The carrying system that I have is from Cotton Carrier which enables me to carry two cameras and a pair of binoculars at the same time if I so choose. This lens adds considerably to the weight of the pack as it weighs in around 5.5 pounds when attached to the camera making it a very heavy addition. The new pack also had straps on the bottom allowing me to pack a lightweight tripod just in case I needed it. Altogether, the pack weighs in at around 25 pounds fully loaded so in many ways, this was going to be a test as to whether I could manage such a heavy load.

I stopped in at the office and paid my $5.00 and chatted to the lady behind the window and set off heading for the Riverside trail. Turns out that there was going to be a wedding and preparations were underway with the staff busy setting up tables outside and a band off to one side that was practicing and getting their sound systems just right. Another lady was preparing bouquets for each table and there was a general air of busyness.

Pictures of the trails at McKinney Roughs

I walked on Riverside heading out into the beautiful lush new spring growth that Nature provides us every year taking pictures as I went. I wasn’t really sure which trails I was going to take as I had no plan and was waiting to see what would guide me. On a whim, I turned off onto Valley View and followed it for a while and then took Bluff Trail Loop. This trail has a major overlook of the valley below with glimpses of the Colorado River. The river was extremely muddy colored as there had been a lot of rain very recently and was flowing quite strongly. I did not plan on walking down to the river on this particular walk guessing that the bottom trails would be very muddy and cut up.

Spring Flowers

I completed Bluff Trail Loop then headed back up Ridge to the Main Campus. I passed back alongside the wedding area taking care not to get too close as I didn’t want to interrupt anything. As it happens, the guests were just starting to arrive looking somewhat out of place with the men all dressed up in suits and ties and the women in dresses with summer hats. It would have been more fitting if they had on shorts and tees to go along with the scenery. Oh well…Still a beautiful place for a wedding. Lets hope that the lucky couple can copy nature and make their marriage last forever. Hard to do in these modern times but I wish them the very best. Guess I am a cynic.

Panoramic pictures of McKinney Roughs

Altogether, I covered 4.5 miles and I’m happy to say that the pack rode very well. I only noticed it a couple of times and if it had become too heavy, I could have always pulled out the camera and long lens and attached it to one of the carrying straps on my waist belt. I got some great pictures and everything is so wonderfully green with lots of wildflowers in bloom. Here’s looking forward to the next walk.

Written 4/24/2019

Gizmo


I went back to the Vets today
as I had a bill I needed to pay
for the efforts they made to save my pet
as they worked so hard to try to get
Gizmo back to his very best health
his funny and delightful self
and it was no fault of theirs
that Gizmo did not respond to their care
as they tried everything that they could
with skill and loving as they should.

It was a very difficult time
as Cindy who was a good friend of mine
was retiring after thirty one years
and all of that time we had shared
many pets of mine both cats and dogs
some we saved and others we lost
as I stopped by to say goodbye
both to Cindy and my little guy
as his surgery was for later that day
and how it would end we could not say.

As it happened it did not end well
although through the surgery my Vet could not tell
how it would end even though he survived
and was resting and very much alive
but his heart gave out and he passed away
and for all of us a very sad day
sadder for me because of my grief
but sad for the Vets whose one belief
was that Gizmo maybe had a chance
until his heart stopped with his death dance.

Over the years and for most of my life
there have been pets of various kinds
many dogs and cats of different breeds
have shared my life and made me pleased
that I could have such wonderful friends
who ask for little and in the end
give me so much more than I can say
love and affection every day
and in the end they all pass on
as their lifespan is but a song.

In Memory of Gizmo and my thanks to the wonderful Veterinarians and Staff especially Dr Donop who worked so hard and was so kind and understanding in my grief.

Written 4/7/2019





APS March Meeting 2019


The third Monday of the month around 6:30 pm and it’s time for another Austin Pond Society Meeting held at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens. There were around 35 members who showed up to be treated to a meal of Chinese food from one of our sponsors, Bamboo Bistro.

They were really here to listen to Reeve Hobbie from Travis County Master Gardeners and his topic was “If Plants Could Talk “ – unusual facts about native plants. His was a very interesting presentation and was well received by his audience. Lets face it, who doesn’t like flowers and the fact they were all to be found in Texas., really helped.

Following the presentation, BJ Jenkins, who was filling in for the President away on Business, opened a discussion on “My Favorite Tool”. She had brought along a couple of her own to demonstrate their uses. Ronnie Hubenthal brought along a very useful and very long handled cutter used to trim lily pads and other plants way out in the pond. This was followed by a general business meeting with updates from the Board Members and a quick run down of the current status of the Pond Tour by Ted Paone, Pond Tour Chairman.

The meeting ended with the drawing of the door prizes which is everybody’s favorite as we all waited with baited breath to see who’s number was selected next. Needless to say, mine was not one of those drawn but it was all in good fun.

The next meeting will be held April 15th and this one is our Annual Plant Swap. Members are encouraged to bring along any plants both of the pond and garden varieties that they wish to swap or give away. The one stipulation is that anything you bring that is not taken, must go home with you. Darren Bayhi will also be demonstrating “How to Replant Waterlilies”  so if you have never attempted this, Darren will show you just how easy it really is.

Hope to see you there.

Written 3/23/2019

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