Time to Start Walking Again


The blown over Cypress tree.

I was sitting at my work table looking out of the window and reminiscing about life in general and my life specifically. For the immediate future, with the Pond Tour out of the way, there is nothing major coming up on the horizon that I need to be worrying about at least, nothing that I know of. We all know how that can change in an instant especially if one is an animal lover and I have four dogs and over two hundred fish to look after. Hopefully though, Nature will be kind and not present me with any animal problems.

I did get in the big pond and spent a couple of hours trying to put the Cypress tree that was the subject of an earlier blog, into a bigger and deeper pot in an effort to stop it from blowing over. It is tall enough now that it is top heavy and with the little pot that contains the roots not being of a suitable weight to hold it secure, tends to blow over pretty frequently.

It was rather a comedy of errors as I tried to wrestle the tree out of the shallow pot but unfortunately, it would not budge. It is jammed in their very solidly and the only way is to literally cut the pot off. So, I gave up on that idea and decided to try to place the entire pot into the bigger pot. I had to weight the big pot down with rocks to keep it stable while I tried to wrastle the smaller pot into it. Remember, that this was taking place with all of us, me, the tree and the pot standing in the pond in three and a half feet of water. Nothing would keep still as the water made everything buoyant. First the new pot would float away and then after I recaptured it, the tree in the existing pot would slide off it’s block foundation and into the water requiring that I struggle it upright, once again. Even though everything was easy to move whilst in the water, when I tried to lift the tree out of the water and into the bigger pot, it suddenly became a hundred pounds heavier. After a couple of hours of total frustration, I gave up on the entire idea and placed the tree back onto it’s original set of blocks and tied it off. Talk about a waste of time. It really is a two person job and as there is only one of me….I will add an additional couple of tie-off’s to try to stabilize it.

There is still a lot of dead stuff that I raked into heaps that need to be put on the compost pile plus I really need to get into the shallow pond and cut down a lot of the growth that has happened there. I think that one reason the Heron has stayed away is because it cannot see the water in the pond it is so grown over. This has been an amazing year for overall growth. Everything and I mean everything has just grown without any limitations and I have spent more time cutting stuff back this year than ever before. The one frost that we had came early in November and we had a very mild winter making for lots of early growth and it has not slowed since. To add to the perfect storm effect, excuse the pun, we have had a lot of rain and have not had any abnormally high temperatures with the highest so far a mere ninety two degrees. That will change as eventually it will reach a hundred degrees, hopefully later rather than sooner.

At the moment it is raining and we are in the middle of some pretty heavy thunderstorms including hailstones. With any luck, there will not be too much wind and the tree will remain upright. Which brings me to the subject and title of this piece, “Time to start walking again”. I haven’t been out on a real walk for quite some time and I really need to get out there not only for the exercise but also to take pictures and have something to write about. You can probably guess by this blog, I am almost desperate for subject matter. I hope that I am not turning into one of those bloggers that writes two lines and adds a picture and calls it a blog. I certainly hope not.

Written 6/6/2019

Why do we blog…


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I was checking my emails this morning as I usually do before embarking on any major (or several minor) tasks that I had lined up for the day. Sometimes, it may be things that I have planned like a particular piece of work around the ponds and garden where I can get out under the very hot Texas sun and sweat a lot. It may even be a walk at one of the Parks although, lately it has been way too hot to enjoy that activity. More recently with the hundred degree heat, it has been to settle myself down in front of my computer and see if I can coax a story or a verse out of my old and feeble mind. Well maybe not so feeble but definitely getting old and forgetful.

Back to the emails which are now somewhat under control after I made the decision to take the “Like” button off of the blogs that I post. The number of blogging friends has dropped considerably as I guess, I am being removed from other people’s lists as I no longer receive the amount of mail that I did before or the number of blogs from other bloggers who before, had graciously pushed the “Like”button. This was something that I expected and I do miss having my ego stroked with all of those “Likes” . Still, can’t have it both ways and I do have a lot of other things on which to spend my time.

This brings me to my current thought of the moment and that is, “Why do we blog”? What compels us to sit down in front of our computers and pour out our heart and souls for others to read. What is it that prompts our particular brains to write about the things that interest us. Better yet, why do we think that other people are interested in reading the stuff that we type out with such regularity. Is it human nature to be that interested that we not only take the time to write about our given subjects but also to spend time reading the same or at least similar stuff from other bloggers?

We are such a diverse bunch and our interests range from the mundane to the ridiculous. Many of you are very articulate and write very interesting stuff that is a pleasure to read or you take wonderful pictures and share them for the world to see. Others try to heal the world of the ongoing bombardment that humanity is subjecting it to on a daily basis. Yet others, me included, share their daily routines and try to turn them into stories of interest. All of us have something to share but why do we want to share it? What drives us?

Years ago, before the advent of computers and modern technology, the only means of communication other than to speak was to write it down with the use of a pen and paper. Perfect writing was a skill and only practised amongst the Gentry of the land as not too many lay people knew how to read and write. People prided themselves on their calligraphy and even letters written between family members were works of art. More to the point, receiving such a letter was also treated as a special occasion and a thing of great personal value. Alas, those days are long gone and I for one can only remember one handwritten letter that I received from anyone in the last five years. Those that have found their way into my mailbox have all been typed and not on an old fashioned typewriter either but a modern day computer. Letter writing is a dying art and is going the way of the Dodo. Everything is email and text nowadays.

I, like almost everyone else in the world, use a computer for all of the writing that I do. I make so many mistakes and have so many do overs and corrections or even re-writes on some occasions that it would be inconceivable to me to write any other way. Consequently, when an idea or a thought strikes me that I want to share, I can sit down and even with my two fingered typing, quickly write up a piece that may not be grammatically correct but at least all of the words are spelt correctly. Than goodness for Spellchecker!

Even with all of this, it still does not answer the question of “Why do we like to write” and what is more to the point, why do we share it with others? It’s not like we are going to make any money off our blogs although I suppose that there may be some out there who claim they do. Me, I am not one of them so there has to be another reason. Maybe, I am a frustrated Author with a million dollar book inside of me just waiting to pop out although, somehow I don’t think so. I am more of a reporter than a writer. I need a subject matter to write about as my brain is not capable of the twists and turns that it takes to be a modern day writer/novelist. More to the point is the pleasure I get from writing a good piece or taking a great picture and sharing it with the rest of the world and blogging is a way for me to do just this.  It is the perfect platform to express ourselves in so many different ways with whatever it is that interests us.

That still doesn’t answer the question of why we do what we do. I have never done this before but it might be interesting for those of you who have taken the time to read this all the way through to go to the Comments section and write a short response as to what is your reason for blogging. It will make for very interesting reading.

Written 8/4/2018

My Inbox


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I was perusing through my inbox as I usually do first thing in the morning and I noticed that since I have taken the “Like” off of my blogs, my inbox is now much more manageable. I miss hearing from all of the friends and acquaintances that make up our blogging world although I still receive a lot of blogs from the ones I really care about and that I take the time to “Like”, which do give me great pleasure to read and acknowledge.

I almost feel like a new man with all of this time to spare. I didn’t realize just how much of it was taken up by reading and commenting on other peoples blogs. It was a bit out of control to say the least. Do I miss having all of those “Likes”? Of course I do. Everyone likes to have their ego stroked and there is no better stroke than a like from a fellow blogger.

Now if I could just control the ones that are looking for donations or want to sell me something that “I really must have”. Guess I need to unsubscribe from their mailing lists in order to achieve that.

Written 7/24/2018

Looking for a Subject


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Some of the blogs that come into my mail box that I take the time to read are obviously written with the Author struggling to find a central theme for that particular blog and at the same time, they are having the uncontrollable sensation that they ABSOLUTELY MUST post something or all kinds of bad things are going to happen. The end result is a single picture or a bunch of words apologizing for not having anything to write about and almost begging the readers to forgive the Author for being so dumb (literally).

Guess what folks, in the big scheme of things none of your fellow bloggers will really care if you post or not. In fact, if you are one of those that post several times a day, your followers are probably glad that you have nothing more to say so they can have a rest from you and spend time with other bloggers. The same is true of those of you who for whatever reasons have not blogged in a while and then when you do, are full of apologies for not being active. Your readers are not looking for an apology, all they want is another good blog to read and admire so even if you have been away, if your stuff is worth reading, your blogger friends will find you. Bloggers and blog readers are a fickle lot and if your blog is missing for any length of time, they will quickly move on to someone new to follow.

Guess what started this tirade, Yes, you got it. The lack of a subject to blog about. Therefore, I am in the same category as those of you with nothing to say and yet managed to put together a blog to say just that…nothing.

Written 6/26/2018

Like’s and Comments


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Blogging. I wonder where the word came from? What does it conjure up in your mind? Whatever it is, what compels us to sit down in front of our computers and turn those thoughts into a blog and even worse, share that blog with whoever wants to take the time and trouble to read it. Some of the more prolific bloggers turn out several pieces a day, posting them one after the other in a vain attempt to get their word out. Those are the ones that I unsubscribe from as I just don’t have the time and energy to read all of that stuff. Nothing personal but I do not want to spend my days in front of my computer reading other people’s blogs. I have things to do, places to go and people to see.

I blog for the fun of it. I have things that I do in my life that I like to write about and share with whoever is inclined to read my stuff. I don’t make any money writing although everyone, me included would like to. In truth, I am not a true writer as I don’t dream up plots and have shady characters living out their roles until the good guys come along and save the day. Heaven forbid, I have tried but I just don’t have the sort of intricate mind to do it. I’m no good at love stories having made a mess of that in real life. I do have an autobiography that I have been working on for a few years but I don’t suppose that I will ever finish it.

No, I am more of a reporter than a writer. I can write about things that I am a part of or something I am witnessing or an event I am attending, things of that nature. Generally speaking, I have to have a subject in which I am physically involved and then I can transform those events into words for other to read. It helps that I like to take pictures which can add to the story especially if I turn it into a video which can tell a lot more of the story than I can. My words just help to move things along.

Being a member of the blogging community has brought me in touch with some truly wonderful writers and bloggers from all over the world and my in box is filled every day with a couple of hundred blogs awaiting my attention. My problem is I do not have the time to read every one and I generally do a quick scan to see if it is interesting enough (to me) to actually read and digest the content and then add a “Like” if I find it deserves one (in my eyes).

I presume that most other bloggers treat their inbox the same way that I do and even though in the process, we may click the “Like” button without reading any part of the content, we do it to be nice and of course, in the hope that the beneficiary of my “Like” will reciprocate and give me a “Like” for my stuff.

The reality is that we are just playing a big game. I am retired and have lots of time but I don’t want to spend all day reading other peoples blogs some of which really do not appeal to me at all. I have yet to understand how any of the bloggers who claim to have hundreds of “Likes” on a daily basis have anytime to do anything else other than to scan through the hundreds of blogs that they surely receive if they even do that. It is easy to push the “Like” button and then quickly turn off that blog when the screen comes up meaning that you have registered a “Like” without reading any part of the blog. My blog stats say that I have 2530 followers which I find absolutely incredible. Where did they all come from and am I reading their stuff?

Don’t get me wrong as there are a lot of the blogs that come into my inbox that I find truly interesting and take the time to read. I have a few favorites and like them to know that I really like their work by adding a comment or two. They probably do not amount to more than a couple of dozen of the couple of hundred that land in my inbox.

I have been giving this some serious thought and have almost decided that I am going to take the “Like” button off my blogs from here on out. If somebody wants to comment, then at least I know that they have read my work and have something to say be it good or bad. This way, my fellow bloggers will not feel obligated to give me a “Like” deserved or otherwise and in turn, we can express our appreciation of each others work by leaving comments.

So, my fellow bloggers, there you have it. All of this long winded writing just to tell you that I am taking the “Like” button off my blogs. I will wait for this blog to get posted and then it will happen. By the way, many thanks to those of you who have “Liked” my work in the past and truly meant it. I am pleased that you took the time.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that in the future, I am only going to “Like” blogs that really appeal to me. You could say that I am out of the “Like” game. Nothing personal but I have got to get control over my inbox somehow.

Written 6/15/2018

Fellow Bloggers


Ashampoo_Snap_2017.08.24_15h43m41s_001_I have been thinking about blogging and why we do it. When I open the page to read some of the couple of hundred blogs that I receive on a daily basis, it is quite obvious that the Authors have many different reasons why they write and the subjects they choose are so varied. That is what makes blogging so unique that so many of us are writing without duplicating what the rest of us are saying. In many cases, the subjects are the same but the words, pictures and presentation are different.

As I peruse the daily offering, it is very clear to me that many bloggers are driven by forces unknown to the rest of us that compels them to blog several times a day and every day of the week. They must be independently wealthy, retired, maybe a stay at home Mom (or Dad), maybe even a Handicapped person or have nothing better to do with their lives than to give them the sort of time that writing good and newsworthy blogs of any quality can take. The question then arises, “Who are they writing for” because if most bloggers or blog readers are like me, we don’t have time to read more than one blog from one individual a day. The rest are eliminated with an active push of the delete button. Maybe the blog I read is not the best one of the available selection for that day but I will never know. I often unsubscribe from a writer because he or she has posted five (or any multiple number) or more blogs one after the other.

As many of you know if you follow my blog, I write a lot about what I consider interesting things that happen in my life as do many of the rest of you. I write about the hikes that I take or the events that happen with the Austin Pond Society and occasionally, will write a poem or two. I am an avid Amateur Photographer and take lots of pictures which I like to share with my readers. In between the post production of the pictures and writing the actual blogs not counting going on the actual hikes or events i am writing about, many of the blogs take several days to prepare. I forgot to mention that I am retired and spend a great deal of my time working on each blog before I am satisfied that it is ready to post. Even then, I do NOT post on a daily basis and try to limit my posts to twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays with the very occasional third post if something important comes up. Currently, I am scheduled out ahead through the second week of October and I try to always have a bit of a cushion.

This is just the way I do it. WordPress tells me that I have 2312 followers and my readers know what and when to expect a blog. I try not to overburden them with too much of my content as not everyone is interested in what I have to say. It took me a while to realize that and came as a bit of a shock especially if I had just completed what I thought was a particularly good piece. “What do you mean, you aren’t interested in this great piece. You got to be as I just wrote it and it is GOOD” flashes through my mind. Many of you are just being polite and acknowledging the fact that I have written the blog by giving me a “Like”. Bloggers that apologise for not having been online for a few days should save their breath as probably no one has even noticed their absence. That is the way that it is. We are all replaceable and often are.

Really, that is what it comes down to. Getting a “Like” is very important even if only for our own self esteem and the only way to get them is to reciprocate with other Bloggers. You “Like” them and in turn, they will “Like” you. So, those of you that are writing several pieces a day or even blogging on a daily basis every day of the week should not be surprised and you should realize that probably only one (any one) of your blogs received a “Like”. The rest ended up in the Trash Bin not because they are bad blogs but because most of us do not have the time and or probably the interest to peruse all of yours and others blogs that we are being bombarded with.

For myself, I think that in the future, I will find a few more bloggers to add to the selective group of Bloggers that interest me and devote the little time that I want to spend, enjoying them. I already know who most of them are as we have been following one another for a long time. New ones will have to be exceptionally good and interesting to join my little group. I realize full well that the number of “Likes” on my own blog will go down but I am prepared to accept that in order to unclutter my inbox and get back more of my day to spend on other things. Anyway, I would rather have comments than “Likes”. I seem to have hit a plateau regarding “Likes” and I am not really prepared to spend any more time on them. I can come up with several subjects that I don’t care for. Food and Religion are two and an 81 year old man is hardly interested in Fashion, Clothes and Makeup. Blogs that are full of Self Pity or being dumped by another person are to me a Bloggers way to get the rest of us involved in their particular brand of misery. Life is too short for that. I don’t care for blogs where the author uses unnecessary swear words as that is not my style either. Not that I am a prude as I break out in swear words all of the time. It’s just that there is a time and a place. Some verse I just don’t understand so that doesn’t appeal to me. I could go on and on but you get my point. Blogging has to reach a person in their mind as a reader and most of us have very limited horizons.

For those of you that choose to blog to the excess, if that is what it takes to satisfy your needs, then go for it. Just be aware that many readers are like me and will only read one blog a day from you so the bottom line is that whatever message you are trying to get out there is just not reaching the readers that you want it to.

Too much blogging or too many blogs especially on a daily basis is NOT necessarily a good thing.

McKinney Roughs 4-26-2017


DSC_5195Finally after a couple of months away from the trails due to suddenly getting very ambitious around the garden even to the extent of cleaning out the three sheds which haven’t been cleaned in 20 years, my friend BJ and I were able to hit the trails at McKinney Roughs for the first time since January of this year. We chose McKinney because we knew that the flowers would be out and everything would be so green and I am very happy to say, we were not a bit disappointed.

We arranged to meet around 1:00 pm and the trip to Bastrop usually takes me 45 minutes but for some reason, the traffic was very heavy even at this time of the day and it took me 30 minutes just to get out of Austin. The 45 minute trip this time took me a good hour to complete. Very frustrating. I needed the walk just to calm my frazzled nerves down after dealing with the usual frustrated and frustrating idiots on the road.

We chose the Yaupon trail which I knew from previous walks would give us a good challenge as it has many ups and downs. The map claims that it is only 2.7 miles long but both BJ’s phone App and my Pedometer showed it to be closer to 4 miles and we still had another 4 miles on the return trip. Yaupon was designed to hook up to with Roadrunner and then Coyote Road to make a complete loop but somewhere along the way, floods have washed out a part of the trail alongside of the river and the trails do not connect so there is no alternative other than to backtrack. Even though under normal circumstances, I do not like backtracking, being the first time out for a while, I was perfectly happy just to be walking and didn’t mind covering the same trail in reverse. You do get a different perspective in the reverse direction and the uphills are now downhills. Of course the downhills also get reversed so you don’t gain anything on Yaupon. On a couple of the other trails, you can choose the direction to walk and make sure to walk downhill wherever possible.

Trails at Yaupon, McKinney Roughs 4-26-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

As you can imagine, everything is beautifully green, the sort of bright and fresh green that has not yet weathered in. Everywhere we looked there was fresh growth as Mother Nature performed her annual miracle of Spring. The flowers were out in abundance and we spent a lot of time just clicking away with our respective cameras, BJ with her Iphone and me with the fancy Nikon D7200 that I take all of my pictures with. Her pictures were equally as good as the ones I was taking as the cameras in the Iphones are really top notch plus the Iphone is a lot lighter than my camera. BJ tells me she even has a telephoto lens to fit her phone. Amazing…

Along the way, we came across an Oak tree that had very interesting bark to it that seemed to spiral around the tree although the pictures that I took do not really show it very well.  We also saw a couple of Buzzards perched on an electric pole. Other than keeping a close eye on us, they ignored us walking directly beneath them. Other birds were full of song and we could hear them all around us but as usual, hardly any were visible.

As we hadn’t seen each other for a while, we had a lot of catching up to do and I swear, we chatted the entire 8 mile hike about this and that and everything else although neither of us mentioned Trump  once. We arrived back at the parking lot at the main office and spent some time taking pictures of the flowers that are planted in the flower gardens that surround this beautiful place. There were not very many butterflies out, not like it will be later in the season but the flowers were a sight to behold.

Flowers at McKinney Roughs Spring 4-26-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

After comparing our respective devices both of which had different numbers on just how far we had walked and how many calories we had burned, we agreed that we had covered 8 miles, not bad for a “first time in a while” hike.

Next up, Pedernales Falls, next week.