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

End of Another Year


What is at the other end of the bridge?

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.

Written 12/19/2019

Growing Old


It is too late for regrets, just be thankful you are old and not dead.

Funny thing that when you are young
and your life has just begun
you never think of that day
when your life starts slipping away
as the present is all fun and play
and the body reacts in a normal way
then one day what used to be fun
now takes more effort as aging has begun
the aches and pains and all the hard knocks
take longer to heal and are more of a shock
bathroom breaks come faster it seems
and walking past one the impossible dream
the hair is gone and now there’s a gut
no matter on how hard you suck
to try to make yourself look thin
for that is an unlikely dream
pretty girls are still worth the time
to watch them out of the corner of your eye
for to stare at them admiring their form
only gets you treated with scorn
and labelled as a dirty old man
though what it is that they don’t understand
that looking at them is all you can do
as age has left you a little askew
and things that used to work so fine
now are reminders of a different time
with physical pleasures a thing of the past
alas good things just don’t last
you sigh and walk slowly away
with thoughts abound of a long lost day
when girls looked at you with smouldering eyes
handsome and confident needing no disguise
not thinking that this day would come
and an old man in more ways than one
and that is about the extent of my life
which now resembles more of a strife
to get my body to work just fine
even though it takes more time
to crawl out of bed so cozy and warm
with the company of dogs who true to form
snuggle up in the night which is no mean feat
staying close to me to get the heat
that my body puts off to keep them warm
thinking that this is the norm
and is what dogs do in their natural way
to protect their hooman from going astray
the body may be weak but the spirit is strong
though it takes more effort to drive it along
it’s still worth the time that the effort does take
as even an old man has a future at stake
it’s not time to lay down and die
but to give it a shot and your best try
and to work through the aches and the pains
and be smart about what is possible to attain
as an old man still has his pride
in allowing his body to be his guide
if he can physically perform each task
then there is nothing left to ask
and until his dying day
this old man will do things his way…

Written 12/15/2019

More About Texas Weather, Again…


The cabin was taken from another picture and added to this one.

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…

Written 11/14/2019

The World Needs Us.


An uphill climb…

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.

Written 11/29/2019

Christmas-What Does it Mean to You?


Simple Beauty

I woke up this morning to a day which will be to me, very much like any other day at this stage of my life. Just me and the dogs hanging out as we do every day. The difference is, that to the rest of the Christian World, it is Christmas day, when according to the Bible, Jesus was born in a stable in a town called Bethlehem.

To many, this is a very sacred day celebrated in all kinds of different ways based on the particular brand of the religion and what country the celebrations are occuring. I live in the United States and before that grew up in England where I lived for thirty one years.

My English memories are what I like to believe, closer to the truth about the true meaning of Christmas at least to me and the family I had way back then, all of those years ago. We had gone through and were just recovering from the Second World War which in turn, had led to several inventions and modernizations to help make life better for the average family. Food, although still scarce was becoming more available. We did not eat turkey for Christmas Dinner because it was only for those that could afford it, what we referred to as the “Upper Class”. We killed a chicken from our yard and were very grateful for it, not so much for the chicken. We did not give each other expensive gifts but those that we had made ourselves and each was received with the graciousness they so richly deserved. As time went on, a lot of the old ways were disappearing and by the time we left to come to the States, material things were becoming important as the world began to become Americanized.

I am now almost eighty four years old and have spent fifty three years in this country and have watched as Christmas has turned into a celebration of gifts and possessions. Add to that the amount of food and drink that is consumed (and wasted) on this day and it would seem to me that instead of this being a simple celebration of the birth of baby Jesus, it has turned into an excuse to eat, drink and spend money on very expensive and many times, unwanted gifts.

If I sound a bit like an old Scrooge, that is maybe because in a way, I am. Giving expensive gifts does not necessarily make you a better person. Maybe, in your own mind, you are trying to make up for all of the things that you didn’t do through the year. Like you are appeasing your conscience and trying to make up for it with the gift.

I am not a particularly religious person although through my lifetime, I have dabbled with a couple of different kinds mainly to satisfy the person that I was married to at that time. I was raised as a Church of England Protestant and in my youth, actively practised religion. At one time, I dabbled in Catholicism again because my wife at that time was Catholic. But is was only a passing whim and when she quit going to Church, so did I.

Now, with no wives to push me in the right direction, I have chosen the route of non religion. I find it so hard to believe that with all of the suffering in the world, the general hate for persons of different religions and color, the wars, the famine’s and the natural disasters that there is a Divine Being that watches all of this going on and does not help to guide us in a different direction. If he or she, is waiting for mankind to save itself, then it will never happen. As a race, mankind is it’s own worst enemy and will not be satisfied until it has pushed the world to the point of extinction with global warming and only then, if it is not too late, will maybe change it’s ways and make the effort to save the world and the remaining inhabitants. Then, if I was around, would I begin to revive my faith and believe that maybe there is a God after all and that the Spirit of Christmas would rekindle mankind’s belief in himself.

I live in a Nation of greed and prejudice where the almighty dollar, to many, is the only religion. The top one percent own more than the combined assets of the remaining ninety nine percent and that is wrong. That coupled with a hate for Jews, Muslims and people of different ethnicity, race and color often times make it very hard to believe that there is a God and that any form of religion is going to change the way things have become. In all of my years on this earth for which I am very grateful, my best recollection of that time was when I was a young man living a simple life in England before the age of progress.

Alas, I can’t wind back the clock to those better and simpler times. Happy Holidays Everyone.

Written 12/25/2019 – Christmas Day.

Losing Another Pet


Ginnie has been with me for 12 years

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…

Written 12/5/2019