Reimers Ranch 12-27-2019


A panoramic view across the river

I decided to go for a short walk at Reimers Ranch, which is the closest of the hiking areas that I tend to visit and only a 20 minute drive from my house. I wanted to see if there was anything to photograph and that would catch my eye this being the Texas wintertime. As I walked along, my mind went back to when I lived in Upper New York State and at this time of the year, there would probably already be a foot or more snow on the ground plus freezing cold temperatures that are definitely not conducive for taking walks outside. Such are the blessings of living in Texas that in the central part of the State where I live, the winters never get very cold and we only occasionally get any snow. For us, putting up with many 100 degree days in the Summer are what test our resolve when it comes to weather.

But I digress from the original intent which was to talk about the latest hike at Reimers Ranch which I have hiked so many times that I am my own map of the Park. I parked in the very last parking area known as River View Parking No 2, the one used by the Rock Climbers, and struck off onto the Main Trail walking back towards the park entrance. The plan was to walk back on this trail for about a mile which would bring me to the third of the parking areas, River View Parking No 1, across the road. From there, I took the gravel path that is located on the top of the bluff above the Pedernales River. This path stretches the full length of this frontage overlooking the river from the very first parking area the entire way and ends in the last parking area. Incidentally, the river which for much of the year has a steady flow and is always bank to bank, is down very low as we have not yet had much in the way of rain to refill it after the long hot summer. That will almost certainly happen in the Spring.

As I walked along, I noticed that the vegetation is wearing its winter brown with the only green being the evergreen oaks and the very occasional cactus. I took several pictures including a couple where I tried to, and not very successfully I might add, take a picture of the sun’s rays as they broke through the clouds. Alas, mine and cameras eyes did not agree on what we both saw and the end result is disappointing. I did not see a single bird although I could hear them somewhere close by. I guess, many of them have migrated to warmer climes.

Altogether, I covered about 2.5 miles of very pleasant walking. I passed a couple of other people going in the opposite direction and we exchanged pleasantries. Nice to see people out enjoying nature. I arrived back at my truck ready to make the drive home with a detour to Dripping Springs for a Starbucks break. One thing about hiking at this time of the year, I am not covered in sweat requiring a change of clothing like what happens in the Spring and Summer. Altogether, a very enjoyable walk in the country and not a bad way to end the hiking for this year.

Written 01/02/2020

Land of the Free.


Statue of Liberty seen from the Circle Line ferry, Manhattan, New York
The inscription reads:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me

I had another day today
when I could not think of a thing to say
that others might find interesting to read
and stay awhile their curiosity in need
of something stimulating and bright
or make them laugh with all of their might
alas no humor in me today
as I go about my way
with the world a somber place
and wildfires threatening the human race
animals in need of a helping hand
as the fires spread throughout their land
closer to home we have troubles of our own
as Congress sits the President to de-throne
turning this country to an upside down place
as the Politicians take sides whether to displace
and impeach the President of this land
if there are enough votes at hand
making the people to choose sides
awaiting for the Members to decide
even while waiting for these actions to start
the country is hurting being torn apart
with no hope at all to politely disagree
and friends and neighbors will be enemies
such is the way of the modern world
where news spreads fast the mind in a whirl
I too am an immigrant to this land
from England where it was originally planned
that America as it was known
would always belong to the English throne
but the subjects who were already here
had different ideas and with no fear
sent the English back to their land
causing them to disband
declaring the country the Land of the Free
and giving the Nation its liberty
but Americans being the mix that they are
no longer like strangers from countries afar
they are not welcome to inhabit this space
no more the land of the free a terrible disgrace
the people here have memories so short
that everyone was welcomed through New York’s port.
and erected a statue for everyone to see
that you are welcome here to the Land of the Free.

Written 01/14/2020

Best Laid Plans…


A Rainy Day

The best laid plans of both Mice and Men are sometimes disrupted by simple things. Take today, for example. I had arranged with my friend BJ that we would go walking at Reimers Ranch as she has never been there. We planned on meeting at 10:00 am at my house as this time, she had to come over to me instead of the reverse. We had planned for me to drive us to the Ranch as it lay West of my house and it didn’t make sense to take two cars.

I got to thinking that 10:00 am would mess up my usual routine as the dogs and I are really lazy bums when it comes to getting up in the morning. Anything earlier than 9:00 am is totally unheard of if I have not made plans to go somewhere or do something. Consequently, I had to set my phone alarm for a 7:00 am wake up call which is a couple of hours earlier than when I am normally used to getting up.

At the allotted time, the alarm went off and I dragged my lazy ass out of bed wishing that I could crawl back under the covers and go back to sleep. The dogs looked at me as if to say, “What the hell is going on?” and promptly did go back to sleep. I struggled to get dressed cursing under my breath and noting that it was still dark outside and wandered out into the kitchen.

First things on the agenda was to take a walk outside and feed the fish and check the ponds for any overnight concerns. Both of the younger dogs accompanied me outdoors taking a walk around the garden and exploring the overnight smells from the different animals that had visited. Everything appeared OK so after checking and washing out a couple of filters, we wandered back indoors. I noticed that it was very cloudy and there was moisture in the air.

Next thing was to feed my three furry friends who by this time, had given up any attempts of sleeping in and were now busy getting in the way as I prepared their breakfast bowls. With them all taken care of, I turned my attention to the computer to check on the weather forecast. Sure enough, the forecast was for thunderstorms and rain showers which prompted me to text BJ and ask her what she wanted to do pointing out the weather forecast. Her immediate response was to postpone the walk until next week as neither of us enjoyed hiking in the rain as we had done on a hike at Bastrop State Park a month or so ago. We texted for a bit and then I turned my attention to my breakfast and making a latte for myself, which incidentally, I do every morning.

With the change of plans, I now had the entire day to myself and looked at the choices that I had to fill it. As the weather was unpredictable, they were mostly confined to anything I could do indoors which in my case, usually involves with working on photos or writing a blog. This blog is the end result.

Oh yes, BJ and I will go walking next week if she is available or I will go by myself when hopefully, it will be nice and sunny with balmy seventy degree temperatures. Such is winter in Central Texas although Texans have a saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just hang around for a bit and it will probably change” and we could quickly go from rain to thunderstorms and then back to sunshine almost in the blink of an eye. We may even get a bit of a freeze as it is wintertime, sort of.

Written 01/10/2020

Pre Season Get Together


This happy group of pond enthusiasts

A small group of the Austin Pond Society Board met for a pre-season get together at the home of President Barbara Reinhardt. There are two new and two returning members to this group including Secretary Gwen Goulet, Treasurer Mike Peppers, Librarian Max Rice and Member At Large, Cat Bilberry of which, only Gwen and her husband Glen were able to attend. The group also included a long time Member, Julienne Smith, who has stepped down as Secretary, a position that she held for nine years. Her experience and expertise are not lost forever as she has volunteered to be the AAGC representative for the upcoming year. She was accompanied by her Husband, Phil.

Also included in the attendees were Nancy Hall who is the current Publicity person and BJ Jenkins in charge of the upcoming programs. BJ dragged her husband, Sam along with her although he is always a willing participant to her many interests. The same may not be said in the opposite direction as BJ has not yet taken up playing golf, Sam’s favorite pastime.

Another welcome attendee was Margaret Boeneke who is our Registrar and has done more to bring the Austin Pond Society into the 21st Century than any other member with her technical knowledge and computer ability. Also present was Glen Hubenthal who has been on the Board since time immemorial. No one except Glen knows how long that is. Glen is currently the Official Photographer and Historian for the Association and also the AKCA representative. His knowledge of things long past is invaluable in the current running of this group. Last but not least of those attending was Ted Paone who has volunteered for the most Popular Person in the Organization position, that of Hospitality. Looking forward to some of his concoctions for us to sample. Ted is better known as a previous Pond Tour Chairman. The final members in attendance were our host Barbara and myself, Frank Allcorn as the APS Webmaster and Blogger.

Barb’s Pond

Barb has a very nice pond, built by one of our Sponsors, Hill Country Water Gardens. It is around 1400 gallons and contains three large and about seven much smaller Koi and four Goldfish. Being the winter season, the fish were pretty dormant and on the bottom of the pond.

I was coerced into the picture and you can see why I don’t have my picture taken.

This was strictly a social gathering and forever changing groups of people could be seen mostly sitting around the pond. Between them, the group provided some interesting food most of which was gone by the end of the get together.

These are brother and sister and only a year and a half old.
The oldest Puppy who is about 12 years old.

The next door neighbor was out playing with her three pugs and being the dog person that I am, I just had to go over to meet them. They were the cutest things and played up a storm, that is after they came over to say hello to me. As I didn’t have any treats, they quickly went back to their fun and games.

After a couple of hours of socializing, the party broke up and we made our way to our respective homes. It was good to get together in a social atmosphere without the pressures of running the Austin Pond Society. Thanks Barb for hosting a great afternoon.

Written 1/9/2020

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 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