My One Thousandth Blog


Nature’s beauty. The Yaupon trail at McKinney Roughs LCRA Park.

This is my one thousandth blog that I have written and posted on this site. I never thought when I started blogging all of those years ago and posted my first blog on July 12, 2011 that I would maintain the interest and continue on. But I have done and am still excited even today when I finish a particularly good piece or poem and have good quality pictures to go along with it.

Things are a little different now than it was eight years ago. Then, I thought that I would write short stories and post them for all to see until I figured out just how much work that was. I soon found out that I was not a writer as I don’t have a devious enough mind to come up with all of those plots and situations. Instead, I let Nature be the plot as she provides me with countless means of expression through her beauty. I added photography to my repertoire and have got to be pretty good at it. So, nowadays, I take pictures as I go on long hikes and then I write about what I have seen and show the photos that I took. Incidentally, I always do post camera work on all of my pictures to bring out the colors and shades that I did not capture with the original picture and in the last couple of years have got a lot of pleasure out of putting together videos of the pictures by turning them into slideshows, usually to music.

I discovered early on that I can write verse albeit a bit corny sometimes. If the words rhyme then that is good enough for me even if the words don’t make too much sense. I love writing poetry and I really feel my creative side coming out when I put down the words.

I write for myself and publish it for others to share if they are so inclined to read it. Early on, I wanted everyone to “like” what I wrote until I discovered that I had to “like” them back. I soon tired of that game and nowadays only add a “like” if in fact I really do. Otherwise, a quick glance to see if the other blog is interesting and then move on although I do have a few fellow bloggers that I follow and “like” on a consistent basis and it still takes me an hour or more going through the blogs every morning.

I did manage to write an entire autobiography about my life growing up in England all the way from being a little kid during the second World War to the trip from England to America and it sits on a thumbdrive gathering dust. There is a second part waiting to be written, My Life in America, but if I ever will actually write it, remains to be seen. Maybe when I can’t hike anymore. It’s a sure thing that I am not going to get rich from writing or photography.

So why do we do it? What compels us to spend time and effort writing about our interests and then publishing it so that others may read about it? Why are we so arrogant to believe that others may be in the slightest bit interested in any of our work. I have no answer for that and can only put it down to the folly of human nature which is why some people are writers and authors and other are carpenters and bricklayers, which incidentally I was for many years of my life.

When I can no longer hike or when the ponds get to be too much work, what will I write about then? If I don’t live it, I do not have a story. Like I said at the beginning, I am a reporter not a writer and probably by then, my brain will be defunct of any creative virtues.

Here’s hoping for another thousand blogs and all the years that go along with it…

Written 6/26/2019

Circle C 12-12-2018


Slaughter Creek

I happened to have my camera with me so I decided to take a short walk at the Circle C soccer fields. There is a small stream that flows in the park known as Slaughter Creek and it has substantial water in it at this time of the year. Not so much in the summer time when a lot of these streams tend to dry out.

I figured that I might be able to get some decent pictures of the stream so I parked my truck and wandered over to the closest point which happened to be right by the entrance to the Park and started clicking away. I noticed an odd looking tree that appeared to be half dead but a lot of that is the time of the year as all of the leaves had already dropped. This tree has a series of raised growths on it giving it this very odd appearance. I have no idea what caused this dis-figuration unless it was a climbing vine that managed to get incorporated into the trees bark but it makes for an interesting picture.

Now, I wonder what caused this?
A bigger view

I discovered there was a well trodden footpath that followed the stream so I decided to take it. I have walked this Park many times but this was the first time I have walked this particular trail. I knew that if I continued in the direction I was going, I would eventually run into Escarpment Blvd and from there, I could veer left and eventually connect up to the Main trail. This trail is very wide as the pictures show. There is also  Frisbee Golf course that sort of runs parallel to both Slaughter Creek and the Main trail with the two intermingling as they crisscross the park.

See how wide the main trails are.

This is a very popular Park for the local residents and is well used. The Soccer Fields are populated with kids training in the evenings and playing their matches on the weekends. All in all, a nice place for a short walk and with a Starbucks just across the street, who could go wrong. Altogether, I covered a little over 2 miles.

Written 12/14/2018

The Passage of Time…


Santos1982

I was invited to a party the other night when a dear friend was being honored for his services for our local Soccer Organization. His was for forty five years of service as the Legal Council and founder member of this League from all of that time ago.

I first met Phil just after I moved to Texas in 1977 with my third wife, Susan. We had moved down from New York State mainly because of a job offer that I had and also to get as far away from the awful winters that is a part of that State’s makeup. We settled in Austin and Susan, knowing that I liked to play soccer (football to the rest of the world), asked around and finally hooked up with Phil who asked me to come and practice with his team named Santos. He considered me good enough that I signed on to play. I played for the team for a few years and also the subsequent team named Santigous formed to play in an Over 30 division as the younger punks in Division 1 were really running us ragged. Time and age was already catching up with us.

Over the course of the next thirty or so years, our paths crossed on the soccer fields and in the League Meetings where I was also very active as the Administrator. Although we never played together again, we remained good friends until I finally quit the soccer scene in 2008 due to knee problems. I had one knee replaced but have managed to get by on the other even though the cartilage has gone. As it doesn’t hurt, why mess with it. Phil is still showing up to the fields to play although he is suffering from macular degeneration and can’t see worth a damn but he likes the company and camaraderie that playing with a bunch of old guys that you have known for a very long time, brings.

The party was a surprise and even though eighty odd people had been invited, the secret never got out and Phil was suitably impressed when he walked in the door to the cheers and claps of all of those present. We had all been asked to arrive early, get a drink and socialize which wasn’t hard to do as we were in the company of people that we hadn’t seen in years. It was interesting to see someone you recognized but could not place a name and in other cases, the name came straight back to you. I had the unfortunate distinction of being the oldest person there although many others were not that far behind. As I surveyed the scene trying to recall the names of the many men gathered there, I was struck by the fact that  the passage of time had not been kind to some of them. In some cases, it was hard to recognize them as their faces had grown old and their bodies had shrunk with the passing of time. I compared them now to when they were playing all much younger healthier and vibrant men and bemoaned that the passing of time is so cruel. Many of the men were still playing albeit in the Over 50 division and at a much slower pace but they still enjoyed the game and the company of their fellow players.  Team sports and football in particular does that for you.

The evening ended following a procession of speakers who made their way up to the mic to relay what Phil had done for them in their lives. Everyone spoke in glowing terms of his different exploits both on and off the soccer fields recalling memories of Soccer Camps of long ago, notable games against teams long gone and of the players who have passed on. All in all, the evening was a huge success for those of us lucky to attend to honor a very dear friend for his outstanding soccer accomplishments.

Written 8/13/2018

 

This and That…


child_games_in_wonderful_soccer_dreams

I commented in the last couple of blogs just how hot it is here in my part of  Central Texas. It is like this every year with some years worse than others. The record was set in 2011 when Austin at Camp Mabry, one of the weather recording centers, registered 83 consecutive days with the temperatures 100 degrees or more. It doesn’t matter what way you look at it, that was a bloody hot summer. Luckily, the humidity was low which made it a little more bearable.

We have just had our first 100 degree days this past week with the thermometer reaching 100 on three consecutive days. There are thunderstorms forecast for the next couple of days which will bring some welcome relief. Along with the high temperatures there are all sort of bye products caused by the heat. Things like high electric bills with the A/C units at full blast and in many cases, replacement units due to the older models breaking down. Try to imagine what the inside of a house is like with no A/C when the outside temperature is 100 degrees or higher. Fans are a big help but they only move the hot air around as they don’t cool it.

If you are an avid gardener, it is a heartbreaking struggle to keep your precious plants alive especially if you are on city water and there are watering restrictions. Austin gets most of its water from the Highland Lakes which is a chain of six freshwater lakes in Central Texas formed by six dams on the lower Colorado River. A heat wave like the one in 2011 actually lowered the lake water quite considerably as the water evaporates along with the demands from all of the Municipalities downstream. It took several years for the lake levels to return to normal after that and it was officially declared a drought.

In my younger days, thirty or so years ago, I was still an avid soccer player at the top Amateur level. The teams I played with would often go away to Tournaments in Dallas or Houston or sometimes even further afield to New Orleans or Florida. These Tournaments were nearly always in the summer, again the hottest time of the year but although they were competitive, it was only for fun. Apart from getting to play several games over a weekend, we went for the company and camaraderie that belonging to a team brings. And the beer of course, lots of beer. I remember on two separate occasions, one in Dallas and the other in Houston when the heat got to us more than usual.

The Dallas Tournament was played on a large soccer complex which like all such complexes was built with very little shade around the fields. Our particular field had Flood Lights surrounding the field mounted on six, sixty foot metal poles. This was the only shade close to the field and spectators and players not in the game were all standing in a line in the shadow of the poles with a larger group at the end where the bank of lights projected a bigger shadow. It was pretty funny. The actual temperature that day was 108 degrees, the hottest that I have ever played in. The game itself was played in slow motion with the players trying to conserve as much energy as possible and when they wanted to sub out, they had the greatest difficulty in finding someone to take their place.  Usually, subs are lined up just waiting to get into the game but not on that particular day. I can’t remember much about the game or even if we won as the heat was the overriding factor for all of us.

The Tournament in Houston was very much the same with very high temperatures. The difference was that in Houston, being close to the sea, the humidity was through the roof which made it appear to be much hotter than it really was. Humidity saps the strength right out of you whether you are used to it or not. The same thing happened as in the Dallas Tournament except there were no floodlights to provide shade. In the second half players were subbing in and out at a tremendous rate as in these Amateur games, subs are unlimited. In the end, it got to where you couldn’t find anyone willing to go back in which meant that you had to stay on the field or if you came off anyway, the team had to play short. That game was truly a miserable experience for both teams. I can’t remember who won and in truth, really didn’t care.

On the home front with all of my ponds, I have to be very careful to make sure that there is no water wastage from anywhere. As it is, keeping the water cool enough for the Koi and Goldfish during these periods of high temperatures is a difficult task. The only real way is to keep the water moving with waterfalls and water features and plant lots of Lilies and water shading plants. The other big problem it to maintain the oxygen levels in the water as the heat tends to deplete the amount of oxygen. I have separate bubblers in all of my ponds which this time of the year are running non stop and even with these precautions, it not a bit unusual to find fish floating on the top.

I have all native plants in my garden which I tend to let grow wild only trimming them where my pathways are or maybe to keep them from crowding out the other growth. If I  have to water them to keep them alive I have installed an underground soaker hose system which if absolutely necessary, will run at night on timers. This is enough to keep the plants alive without wasting too much water in overspill. My garden is really a jungle in disguise which makes it much easier to maintain.

The one redeeming factor is that we can look forward to the Hurricane Season and since 80% of the North Atlantic Hurricanes form from June through October, hurricane season is declared from June 1 to November 30. The months when storms are most frequent on the Texas coast are August and September. If we do get any at all and that is not a certainty, we will probably get cooler temperatures and rain which if it is in excessive amounts will bring its own problems.

Texas has a saying, “If you don’t like the Texas weather, just wait five minutes and it will change”. This saying is also credited to many other States to which it can apply.

Written on another hot day in Texas.
7/3/2018

 

Old Friends


lp3-mckinney

I ran into a old friend the other day
in the SuperMarket as we shopped
both bachelors so shopping was not hard
as we were both set in our ways.

Neither of us could remember the others name
as we had not seen each other in a while
so we awkwardly re-introduced ourselves
and laughed as we commented about our slow brains.

The conversation turned to soccer
as that is where we first met
playing on the same old man’s team
pretending to be young again like no other.

We had a good laugh as we shared a joke
and shook hands as we went on our way
knowing better than to say, let’s get together
of that there was no hope.

We had not  bothered to stay in touch
and our mutual interest was long gone
as age had taken its toll
and the game no longer held us in its clutch.

I resumed my walk around the store
thinking about the years gone by
of the games we played and the people we met
and wished there had been much more.

Alas time has dealt us a terrible blow
weak in body and mind as the years pass by
and all of the friends we used to know
not even a memory left to show.

Written 9/26/2017

Blank Screen and Blank Thoughts…


epl-table-2015-live-score-results-channel-today-game-epl-tableI turned on my computer and brought up my blog site with a fresh clean page all ready for me to peck away with many words of wisdom.
I stared and stared and nothing came to mind, just a blank screen looking back at me.
I thought of all of the subjects that I have written about in the past and that still didn’t help.
Maybe a poem, I thought but I could not think of what to rhyme about so I gave up on that idea.
I have spent this past week working on the Austin Pond Society web site. Now, it is finished and I can’t think of anything else to do to it for a while.
Night has fallen and it is dark outside so I can’t work on the ponds or go for a hike.
It would appear that my mind is a blank and needs firing up a little.
To hell with writing, I am going to watch the English Premier League and my favorite soccer teams…Manu

Kicking a ball…


rangers getting coached right

Half Time Talk

When I was a kid and still very young
my whole idea of having fun
was to get with my mates and kick a ball
and the girls would cheer and watch us run
no interest in them that I can recall.

Moving along in just a few years
my mates and I still kicked the ball
but this time we tried to impress the girls
hoping that one would not like them all
but pick one of us that was most enthralled.

As time moved on the girls came first
as many of us settled down
married with kids not much time for games
life was never ever the same
on weekends we still got together and kicked a ball

Further on down the line
marriages failed and its alimony time
visit the kids once a month
and maybe take them to one of our games
this time in the older guys league we played.

Time has passed and the kids have grown
and they all play in a league of their own
trying to impress the watching girls
choosing a mate as life unfurls
and it all starts with kicking a ball.

Now I am old and life has passed by
the closest I come to kicking a ball
is to cheer on my team as I watch them play
thinking of what were the good old days
when we were just starting along our way.

“Football, English Style is good for the soul”