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 .
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.
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.
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.
Thinking about days gone by sometimes makes me want to cry remembering things from the past of all of the times that did not last as memories are just what they are a fleeting moment like a shooting star a tick in time in our busy lives lasting as long as the mind survives each one replaced by something new created each moment as our minds construe slipping along from thing to thing understanding what out eyes do bring back to the brain a very safe place and another memory is now locked in space for how to describe what memories are records of our past viewed from afar the problem is that we have no choice on what to remember we have no voice so happy and sad good times and bad are all there before us to drive us all mad as we torment ourselves as we wonder why if only I had, a recurring cry but we cannot change things in the past and can only hope that our memories last for time has a habit of clearing the mind and memories fade and we no longer can find as the years pass by it is hard to recall though the memories we have are so plentiful.
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.
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.
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.
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".