APS April Meeting 2019


The view out of the back window looking towards Zilker Park and the City of Austin.

With frightening regularity, the calendar once more moved to the third Monday of the month bringing with it, the Austin Pond Societies Monthly Meeting held as usual in the Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. This meeting was our Annual Plant Swap when our members bring in their surplus plants both of the garden and pond variety. The one stipulation is that if by chance, anything you bring in is not taken by another eager Ponder or Gardener, then it must return home with the original owner. That turned out not to be the case this time around as the offerings were pretty slim compared to previous plant swap meetings which is surprising considering that this was our best attended meeting of the year with about forty members showing up.

Along with the Swap and at the same time, Darren Bayhi was holding a re-potting seminar for anyone interested in “How to re-pot Lilies” which included both Tropical, Hardies and also Lotus.. As the swap was drawing to a close, more and more people stopped by Darren’s table to ask questions and watch his demonstration.

Prior to the swap, many members had volunteered to help set up the tables and kiddie pools used for this event. For this, they were given the opportunity of having first dibs at whatever took their fancy before the main body was let loose. With the small number of plants on offer, this was a good decision on their part.

Prior to the actual swap and following a meal of hot dogs with all of the fixin’s topped off by various deserts brought in by the members, Barb Lenhardt, President, had some business to offer which included a discussion by Ted Paone, who talked about the upcoming Tour with the membership. He outlined the Charities that will benefit which includes Central Texas Gardner on KLRU-TV, Austin Pets Alive, and Donor Choice, a charity which funds projects for teachers and students. Prior to his presentation, Ted was awarded the Koi Person of the Year Award voted on by the Members present for his efforts with the Pond Tours.

Ted was followed by Mike Peppers, our new Treasurer who outlined the budget for the Members along with many apologies for the lateness of the report. With the budget voted on and passed by the Membership and there not being anymore business, it was time to get on with the important event of the day which of course, was the Plant Swap.

Following the aforementioned reward for volunteering, they were allowed out the door first followed after a few minutes by the rest of the Members. The plants were taken in record time and the clean up started by those same volunteers who we thank for their efforts.

The next meeting will be on May 20th. The Speaker will be Katie Boyer of the US Fish and Wildlife and she will be talking about Monarch Butterflies. As these are another of Nature’s species that are in trouble due to man’s incompetence in managing the Planet, then it would be well worth our while to see what we can do to help save this species.

Hope to see you there.

Written 4/17/2019

As We Grow Old


As we grow old we are sometimes alone
maybe through no fault of our own
and even in another life
we may even have had a wife
or two or three whatever the odds
and their actions mean we lost the toss
and even though they left us to go
and we grew too old and willing to roam
and had not the urge to pick up the phone
instead choosing to live alone
along with our pets who are our friends
who stay with us until their end
both dogs and cats are in that group
with one another in an endless loop
as such short lives they all do have
and when they are gone we are so sad
at losing yet another mate
whose love for us had been their fate
if I had one last request
it would be that at my behest
when I die and my soul moves on
and even if there is no song
I want it to be at the very same place
where all of my pets at their Pearly Gates
are waiting for me and welcome me home
and together we will never be alone
for the past twenty years my pets and I
have looked after each other with the lows and the highs
they have been there through good times and bad
and comforted me when I was sad
and carefully laid their chin on my knee
which was their way of comforting me
and in return I would stroke their fur
and the troubles would lessen with them being there
as I grow old with the passing years
and know that my end and all of my fears
will someday no longer be
and I hope then that my destiny
once young and vibrant and full of life
now old and wrinkled no longer in strife
my pets will still have someone to care
and look after them as I am not there
to give them the love that has been their life
and look after them without any strife
and even though their lives are short
this is one time that I have to report
that they could well outlive me
as my life fades into history.

For the love of a pet or in my case, many pets…

Written 4/15/2019



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





Springtime Garden Flowers 2019


This is a beautiful time of the year in Texas. All of the trees are filling out with the prettiest shade of green and the garden and ponds are just full of all kinds of wonderful flowers.

My garden is not one of the cultivated sort and I tend to let things just grow. Nearly everything is Native Texan so I can pretty much be sure that it will grow back after each winter. I have no idea what many of the flowers are called and about the only ones I recognize are the Roses, Arun Lilies, Cornflowers, Iris and a couple of others. They are all so welcome and a sure sign that Summer is not far away. We tend to have a short Spring and then all of a sudden, its a hundred degrees outside.

Enjoy the video.

Written 4/1/2019

A Battle of Wits


Scarecrow


The Heron is a very wily adversary and relies a lot on keeping the pond owner guessing as to when he is likely to show up. I spent a week at home only leaving when I absolutely had no other choice, like running out of food or keeping a pre arranged Doctors visit. Normal stuff except when there is a hungry Heron wanting to catch and eat your Koi and Goldfish. He kept no regular patterns and it meant getting up at the crack of dawn because as soon as it was light enough for him to see, he would swoop down from the tree that he had perched in and land on the Goldfish pond wall. If the fishing wasn’t very good there, he quickly moved over to the L shaped pond which is the shallowest pond out of the four big ones. The Heron knew he could safely wade in this pond and as the video shows, spent time pursuing and if he was lucky, catching and eating fish. Other times he would fly in mid morning, other times mid or late afternoon and even late in the evening. There was no telling when he would show.

On a previous run in with a Heron several years ago, I put wire fences around each of the ponds and then attached a doggy shocker which worked pretty well as eventually, that particular Heron stopped coming. I was Heron free for maybe 3 years before the current one has shown up. I went to work on the shallow pond and installed a system of cross-wires that diagonally dissected the pond and were about a foot above the water essentially dividing the pond up into small sections. I tried to install the doggy shocker but the wires grounded out in several places so the system would not work. I left the wires as strung and turned my attention to a more physical presence in the form of a Jet Spray Scarecrow. I had purchased one several years ago but due to non use and probably neglect on my part, this one leaked and I could not find a way to prevent it. I had no choice but to go on line and see if I could find another on E-Bay or Amazon and managed to locate several that were available. They were by a different manufacturer, Hoont, but as they were a lot cheaper, I quickly tagged one for $29.99 and went through the checkout process. I deemed that this was an emergency and paid additional postage to get it to me in three days in which it duly arrived. This one is brand new in an unopened box and I quickly set about installing it on the shallow pond.

The very next day, the Heron showed up and my first inclination was to rush outside and scare it away but I decided to watch from my vantage point indoors to see what happens. After exploring the Goldfish pond without any luck that I could see, it flew up into a tree above the shallow pond and then sat there for what seemed an eternity. It kept looking down at the shallow pond as if it so see a way for it to safely fish but it stayed in the tree. Then all of a sudden it hopped around and flew off as fast as it could. I went out and checked and the Scarecrow had been activated and as it is pretty noisy, was enough to frighten it away.

I immediately went back on line and purchased another for $25.00 from the same company only this one was a slightly used one. When it arrived, it was missing a couple of screws which I was able to replace and I installed it on the Goldfish pond. I was able to adjust them both so that they limited the spray to the distance of the pond meaning that I am able to walk around the ponds without getting soaked. As far as I can tell, the Heron has not been back as the fish are beginning to lead a normal life and are starting to show themselves again.

I am not suggesting for one minute that I can declare victory over this wily opponent as I am sure that it will not give up that easily. If, by chance, he decides to turn his attention to either of the big ponds with the the very large Koi in them, then I will purchase a couple more of the Scarecrows and get them set up. Here’s hoping that it wont be necessary.

Written 4/8/2019

A Visitor to my Ponds


A not very welcome visitor

I had a very interesting visitor to my ponds yesterday. This one was about 4 feet tall with a 5 feet wingspan and was a beautiful blue-grey color. He was not a welcome visitor but that didn’t seem to phase him one little bit.

I have put together a video of his/her time that was spent in my ponds yesterday morning. The video is not of the greatest quality as it is made up of 7 separate videos that I got from the surveillance cameras of which I have 4 scattered around the yard and pointing at the ponds. These cameras only record in 2 minute increments and are motion driven which quite literally means anything that moves be it wind, water, waterfalls, decorative fountains and the like and includes me, when I am out there and of course, the dogs. The very first set of pictures is from a camera that is going bad and needs changing out hence the black and white effect. The rest show the heron in all of its glorious color.

The black and white picture is of a pond that used to be joined together to the pond in the color pictures that follow before I rebuilt it making it 4 feet deep. Way too deep for the heron to jump in which is probably why he moved quickly to the adjoining pond where the water is only 2 feet or less deep making it easy for him to wade around at his leisure as you can see from the video.

It is not clear just how many fish it managed to eat but judging from the absence of goldfish in the pond, I would say that he got quite a few. They could be hiding out and may appear in one’s and two’s later on but I am not holding my breath. There are still 7-8 12 plus inch Koi which is about what were there before so I imagine that he left them because they present a more difficult eating/swallowing problem than do the much smaller goldfish. We will just have to wait and see if when he returns. I keep calling it a “He” but truthfully, I have no idea if it is male or female and I have not read of any differing characteristics.

Stay tuned as I’m quite sure he will be back. Where were the dogs, you might ask. Probably curled up with me in bed and even if they heard anything were way too comfortable to be bothered with it.

Written 4/8/2019

Another Sorrow…


Gizmo, my little Yorkie

I do not know the reason why
my thoughts should turn to a different place
I only know I need to try
to put on a braver face
fate has once again been unkind
and struck me a blow to give me pain
as I have lost another friend
another of the four legged kind.

Gizmo, my beautiful little dog
stopped eating and cried when I picked him up
and so to the Emergency room
we spent Saturday evening till late
they sent him home with little relief
and Monday to our Vets we did go
and he spent a week as they worked on him
trying to figure what brought him low.

They scheduled him for surgery
and told me that I should go
back to the Vets to say goodbye
just in case he did not pull through
I cried and could not stop the tears
as I spent time with my little mate
not knowing if it would be the last
that I would gaze upon his pretty face.

He looked at me with his beautiful eyes
as if to say that he would try
to get through this ordeal
and we can be together again
I said farewell and walked away
crying so hard I could barely see
and all of the people in the room
turned away and let me be.

My little dog died that day
after the surgery was complete
his little heart just gave way
as he went into an eternal sleep
I shall always remember his little ways
and how he would try to talk to me
when he wanted something whatever it was
he would whine and bark so I could see.

I brought him home and dug a hole
in that special spot where the others lay
so he does not sleep alone
and in the next life has friends to play
farewell Gizzie you will be missed
our time together was way to short
but I will always remember you
for all of the pleasures you have brought.

Once again my heart does ache
for another of my furry friends
whose life in years is way to short
and from our lives their time does end
all I have left are memories
of the time you spent with me
but special are those beautiful thoughts
and in my heart will ever be..

Gizzmo was a Yorkshire Terrier and I adopted him from the Georgetown Animal Shelter in January of 2018. We had a little over a year together, way, way too short. He was 13 years old.

R.I.P. Gizzie, I miss you.

Written 3/31/2019