I Wish I Could Fly


Flying off into the sunset

Have you ever thought of a reason why
that birds should fly up in the sky
when all we can do is walk on the land
no matter how hard we plan
and even though we all might try
we know that we can never fly.

My dogs run and jump and play
with paws on the ground to help them stay
firmly fixed as they walk around
no thoughts of flight nothing that profound
as content with life as it stands
flying is just not in their plans.

The fish in my ponds all behave
used to their life below the waves
and even though they may swim and jump
they are much too solid a lump
to leave the water just a little way
and flying for them is only play.

I envy the birds to have this skill
to come and go at their will
sometimes walking on the ground
alert to danger that is all around
a quick little hop and away they go
leaving the danger far below.

Painted Bunting

Written 7/11/2019

Stormy Weather


The blown over Spruce Tree

I was out doing my usual thing of driving and listening to Audiobooks and noticed that the sky was getting very overcast and that the wind was getting up. Before I had driven much further, the sky opened up and the rain quite literally came down in the proverbial buckets being driven sideways by the very strong wind.

I and many of my fellow drivers slowed down to a crawl with our four way flashers going. Of course, there is always the idiot that thinks he/she knows better or does not recognize the dangers and continues to drive at a high rate of speed and we had a couple of them. As I got closer to home, the rain had tapered off to just a steady downpour but on my street, it was covered in leaves and broken branches a sure indicator of the high winds.

Fearing the worst, I pulled into my driveway with no visible problems at least in the front of the house, to be met at the door by four very excited little dogs all pleased to see me. Whether it was their natural enthusiasm or the after effects of the strong wind and rain, I am not to know.

We walked out into the back yard where it was very visible that the winds had been very strong with a multitude of leaves and small twigs interspersed with the occasional larger branch littering the grounds and floating on top of the ponds. Other than that and the fact that a lot of the vegetation was beaten down things didn’t look too bad. I noticed that many of the large leafed plants like the Lilies, Tara and Canna, their leaves were badly damaged full of holes and splits showing the intensity of the rain and the power of the wind. I have a Spruce tree that stands in a pot in one of the ponds and it had blown over. When I checked the rain gauges, they showed that six inches of rain had dropped in probably a little over ten minutes.

Showing the Rain and Wind Damage on 5-5-2019

Oh yes, the famous Murmuring Creek that my street is named after and that runs through the bottom of my garden was actually flowing just a bit. It never has any water in it at any other time except when we get a gully washer. All in all, considering the power of the wind and the intensity of the rain, we got off very light. Just Mother Nature doing her thing…

Written 5/7/2019

Losing Pets


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Losing a much loved pet is very difficult for all of us and some of us grieve for a long time as we try to move on.  The same is not true, at least for me when I lose any of the big Koi that live in my ponds. Fish, by nature, are cold blooded things and don’t do well in the cuddle department. I know that some people do not share my views on fish but I find it hard to even come close to any form of grief when a fish dies as they are sometimes apt to do.

A couple of days ago, I lost a big white Koi which was the biggest fish I have ever had. She was one of the originals so probably close to 38 years old which is pretty good for a fish in an unprotected pond. She was well over three feet long and probably weighed close to twenty pounds. I suspected that she was  going to that big Koi pond up in the sky as she had been acting very lethargic the past few days and did not appear to be eating and sure enough, when I came out to feed them the other morning, I could see her laying on the bottom of the pond. It is my experience that these large Koi don’t float immediately and it usually takes a couple of days for them to get up off the bottom of the pond, I suppose as they start to decay and the gasses start to form.

After a real struggle on my part due to her size and weight as my net was hardly big enough,  I managed to get her out of the pond.  Close inspection did not reveal any outwardly visible signs of damage or disease so it must have been an internal problem of some sort. Anyway, dead is dead and after pulling on a pair of long sleeved rubber gloves, I carried her to the bottom of the garden and with some effort, tossed her over the fence for the vultures or other wild things to clean up. She was heavy enough that I managed to wrench the muscles in my left upper arm in the process causing me to light up the air with a few well chosen cuss words.

I have at least fifty or sixty Koi in three of the five ponds some of which are almost as large as the one we just lost. These are the second batch of Koi bought way back in 1980 following a refilling tap water incident which wiped out the original stock purchased in 1977.  I have one surviving Koi from that original 1977 group and he is definitely the oldest and is at least 41 years old but being a male, is not among the very largest ones. There are also a couple of hundred or so Goldfish in three of the ponds and it is hard to stop them from breeding especially in the ponds that are populated by Goldfish only. Koi do a good job of keeping the population down as do a couple of turtles that are in the other ponds as they eat the eggs and  young fry.

The occasional fish die off is not always a bad thing as it keeps the population manageable. I am glad though that I don’t have to make the choice  of who lives and who dies. I’ll leave that to Mother Nature…

Here come the buzzards,  Mother Nature’s cleanup crew and so the pendulum swings as it always does, in the grand scheme of things.

Written 8/9/2018

 

Austin Pond Society Meeting June 6-18-2018


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The third Monday of the month rolled around just as it is supposed to and with it, the Austin Pond Society held their monthly meeting at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens. This meeting was just a little different as instead of a Speaker, we opted to take a Tour of the beautiful facilities that we call home.

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We met as we usually do in the Zilker Meeting Room and were treated to Fried Chicken with all of the fixin’s accompanied with sides and deserts supplied by the members which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Following the meal, Barb Reinhardt,  who was filling in for Jeannie Ferrier, the President who was away on personal business, introduced four new members and then held a brief Q and A prior to everyone joining the three Docents who had so very kindly volunteered to show us around.

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There were around 30 members in attendance including the 4 new ones and we split into three groups each accompanied by a Docent and started on the walking tour of this wonderful place. Austin is so lucky to have these beautiful gardens for all to see.  Having visited many times before, I took off on my own so that I could take as many pictures as possible which I have turned into a video set to music.  Many of our Members have not visited the Gardens before and I am quite sure that it was an eye opener for them.

The Business section of the meeting on video.

APS Business Meeting June 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The video of Zilker Botanical Gardens.

Zilker Botanical Gardens 6-18-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The next meeting of the Austin Pond Society is on July 16 and will be held off site at Mayfield Park. Check the Website and Facebook for further details.

Written 6/20/2018

Austin Pond Society May 2018 Meeting


The Austin Pond Society tried something different with this May Meeting and held it at one of our Sponsors Store, namely Aqua-Dome located just off Ben White in Austin, Texas.

Aqua-Dome Meeting May 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The meeting was held outdoors with the weather cooperating, a nice breeze and not too hot. The first part of the meeting was as usual the Business Section and although the idea was unique, the soundtrack left a lot to be desired due to external traffic sounds. The second part of the meeting in which the owner, Gary Coffman, gave a demonstration on repotting water lilies was held in a different part of the large yard and the sound is much better.

Another of our Sponsors, Jet’s Pizza located in Brodie Lane, supplied the hungry group with a grand selection of different pizzas for us to devour which we proceeded to do at a rapid rate. There were about 40 members that had showed up and they listened intently as Gary showed us how he repots his water lilies. He also discussed Lotus and all of the other freshwater bog plants that he has for sale.

The meeting was over by 7:45 pm and I am quite sure that many of the members learned a bit about repotting water lilies. Thanks to Gary Coffman and Aqua-Dome for giving us something different.

This is the Business part of the meeting.

APS Meeting May 2018 – Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Gary Coffman demonstrating on “How to repot Water Lilies”.

Austin Aqua-Dome 2018 Repotting from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 5/22/2018

Austin Pond Society April Meeting 2018


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The Austin Pond Society held it’s April Meeting at the same place and same time this past Monday, April 16, 6:30 pm at Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. It was attended by a little over forty members which was not surprising as this meeting was the Annual Plant Swap. This always nurtures a lot of interest as the members bring in their unwanted plants to exchange for others of a different variety. In theory, you had to bring in plants in order to be eligible to swap for other plants but in reality, there are always so many plants left over at the end of the meeting that it didn’t matter if you had plants of your own or not. The donating members didn’t care as they would have to take them back home if they didn’t exchange hands.

The food for the evening was the good old American staple, namely hot dogs with all of the fixin’s and deserts provided by the members. Yours truly made do with a bag of chips and several cookies as I don’t eat hot dogs. Following the meal, Jeannie, our President got right into announcements and the small bit of business that needed to be done. She was followed by Barb as the Special Events Organizer who explained to the group the rules of the Plant Swap. As usual, the volunteers who had arrived early and had helped with the set up all went early as they had have first dibs. They were given about five minutes to grab whatever they fancied before the rest of the ticket holders rushed out to fight over whatever remained. They were followed by those without tickets to hopefully grab all that was left to save the donators having to take them back home. Incidentally, the tickets signified that you actually had contributed something in the way of plants or fish. I opted to not donate anything this year as the few remaining plants that I have at home will be used in my own ponds. This did give me more time on taking the pictures and videos so it had some positives.

The swap went very quickly and the meeting was over by 7:30 pm with even the cleanup completed. This has to be one of the fastest meetings on record.

The next meeting will be held on May 21 at the Austin Aquadome. More details to follow. The three videos that I made are below.

The first is entitled 2018 April Business.

and the second is the Annual Plant Swap live.

The last is a slideshow to music of all of the pictures that I took

Written 4/25/2018

Austin Pond Society Post Pond Tour Meeting June 19, 2017


DSC_0099-PanoThe Austin Pond Society held its June meeting on the 19th of the month at Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. This meeting was the Post Pond Tour with many of the owners and volunteers in attendance as it was really all about them.

Altogether, there were more than 80 people, the biggest crowd by far that we have had together in one place that I can remember. The guests and members were treated to Pizza and salad from one of our sponsors, Jet’s Pizza with desserts provided by the membership and by the big cake that Jeannie bought from Costco.

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Whilst everyone was enjoying the food, Glen, our Historian and Photographer showed a slideshow of all of the ponds that were on the tour. Following the meal and slideshow, Ted Paone, Pond Tour Chairman, spoke about the work involved in putting on a Tour such as this. He thanked the owners for opening up their yards and gardens for us all to see the wondrous things they have created. He followed up by thanking the many volunteers without whom, a tour such as this would not be possible. He spoke about the fact that this year’s Beneficiary would be the Mayfield Park Ponds. At this point, he introduced Ruben who is the sole person in charge of maintaining both the ponds and the grounds at the Park. For those of you who have not yet visited the park which is located at the very end of 34th Street near Mount Bonnell you should make the effort to do so. There are several miles of hiking trails plus the 5 large and 2 small ponds which the Austin Pond Society has done so much work by cleaning and replanting the lilies, and water plants and have also added a couple of lotus plants. The most recent of our fish rescues have also been donated into the ponds including Koi, Goldfish and Carp.

Following Ted’s moment in the sun, Jack Marshall, APS Treasurer, who had played a major role filling in for Ted on the final days leading up to the Tour, introduced the owners one by one and gave them the mic so that they could offer their thoughts and points of interest about the tour that might be useful in the future.

Jeannie took over the mic after the owners had all finished speaking and we went into the business section of the meeting. There was not too much to discuss so we quickly moved into the door prizes to close out the evening. All in all, a very successful meeting.

Below are the 3 videos of the entire evening. The sound quality is not very good as I was using my Nikon d7200 DSLR camera having recently sold my video camera for a new Nikon d7500 to use as my primary camera. I must seriously look at being able to blot out the background noise in the recordings as I get the hang of using a DSLR for videos.

The first video is of Ted and Jack’s discussion of the tour.

Intro by Ted and Jack from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The second video is of the Pond Owners talking about things that happened to them on the tour.

Owners from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The third is of the short business section of the meeting.

Business June 19, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Can’t wait for next year to roll around and we get to do it all over again…