McKinney Falls 01-15-2020


A view of the swimming hole. In the summertime, this area is packed with people.

My friend BJ called me to set up a hike with the possibility of her going to Reimers Ranch for the first time. However, the best laid plans and all of that were changed at the last minute due to a hairdresser’s appointment that somehow, she had forgotten about. So instead of Reimers, we opted to go to the State Park at McKinney Falls as it was closer and about midway between Bastrop where she lives and South West Austin, where I live.

The only real green thing in the park. Such a beautifully shaped tree.

Instead of walking the long blacktopped trail that goes around the park as we usually do, we decided to explore the trails on the other side of the Upper Falls as the water in the creeks was running low making it easy to get across without getting our feet wet. The Upper Falls are at the confluence of Onion Creek and Williamson Creek and after any heavy rains, the creeks normally run full of water. We haven’t had much rain for the past several months except for the odd shower here and there.

We kinda wandered around following what we thought was a major trail but in the end it petered out forcing us to retrace our steps. We toyed with the idea of jumping across the crevasses in the rock base just as a young guy had done just before us but neither of us had enough confidence in our ability to do that. We even looked to do some rock jumping in the creek as the water was only about 6-8 inches deep but the thought of having wet feet for the rest of the hike kinda put us off.

So we retraced our steps back to the starting point and then chose an alternate trail to hike. This one was blacktopped part of the way and would have led us to the Lower Falls if we had continued but we turned off onto a parallel trail and made our way back this time following Onion creek. We got as far as the giant cypress tree and even though, the bridge across had been rebuilt, the trail was closed on the other side. We had no choice but to backtrack and rejoin our original trail back to the parking lot. There were a lot of people about enjoying the beautiful mild day with the temperature hovering around the 75 degree mark. Not bad for wintertime but not unusual here in Texas. Next time we come here and if the water level is still low, we plan on visiting the Lower Falls and walking the trails on the other side. A lot of today’s hike was walking on the rocky surface which I found to be uncomfortable to walk on. Altogether, we covered almost 3.5 miles.

Written 01/18/2020

Best Laid Plans…


A Rainy Day

The best laid plans of both Mice and Men are sometimes disrupted by simple things. Take today, for example. I had arranged with my friend BJ that we would go walking at Reimers Ranch as she has never been there. We planned on meeting at 10:00 am at my house as this time, she had to come over to me instead of the reverse. We had planned for me to drive us to the Ranch as it lay West of my house and it didn’t make sense to take two cars.

I got to thinking that 10:00 am would mess up my usual routine as the dogs and I are really lazy bums when it comes to getting up in the morning. Anything earlier than 9:00 am is totally unheard of if I have not made plans to go somewhere or do something. Consequently, I had to set my phone alarm for a 7:00 am wake up call which is a couple of hours earlier than when I am normally used to getting up.

At the allotted time, the alarm went off and I dragged my lazy ass out of bed wishing that I could crawl back under the covers and go back to sleep. The dogs looked at me as if to say, “What the hell is going on?” and promptly did go back to sleep. I struggled to get dressed cursing under my breath and noting that it was still dark outside and wandered out into the kitchen.

First things on the agenda was to take a walk outside and feed the fish and check the ponds for any overnight concerns. Both of the younger dogs accompanied me outdoors taking a walk around the garden and exploring the overnight smells from the different animals that had visited. Everything appeared OK so after checking and washing out a couple of filters, we wandered back indoors. I noticed that it was very cloudy and there was moisture in the air.

Next thing was to feed my three furry friends who by this time, had given up any attempts of sleeping in and were now busy getting in the way as I prepared their breakfast bowls. With them all taken care of, I turned my attention to the computer to check on the weather forecast. Sure enough, the forecast was for thunderstorms and rain showers which prompted me to text BJ and ask her what she wanted to do pointing out the weather forecast. Her immediate response was to postpone the walk until next week as neither of us enjoyed hiking in the rain as we had done on a hike at Bastrop State Park a month or so ago. We texted for a bit and then I turned my attention to my breakfast and making a latte for myself, which incidentally, I do every morning.

With the change of plans, I now had the entire day to myself and looked at the choices that I had to fill it. As the weather was unpredictable, they were mostly confined to anything I could do indoors which in my case, usually involves with working on photos or writing a blog. This blog is the end result.

Oh yes, BJ and I will go walking next week if she is available or I will go by myself when hopefully, it will be nice and sunny with balmy seventy degree temperatures. Such is winter in Central Texas although Texans have a saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just hang around for a bit and it will probably change” and we could quickly go from rain to thunderstorms and then back to sunshine almost in the blink of an eye. We may even get a bit of a freeze as it is wintertime, sort of.

Written 01/10/2020

Friends


DSC_5301

I recently just lost a friend
one I have known for many years
another Englishman like me
straight here from the Old Country
a funny guy with a quick dry wit
a story to tell that rolled off his tongue
the times together were never dull
and in conversations there was never a lull
a mighty athlete on the soccer field
he was paid to play the game we love
skilfull  enough to be a pro
which brought him here years ago
he retired from playing and became a coach
teaching young kids on how to play
with gift of the gab and his English wit
the kids just loved hearing him say
“bloody hell” his favorite expression when
one of them screwed up again
he had a minor heart attack
while out running on the track
and ended up with a stent
and a bypass with the intent
of making him fit and well to return
to the land of the living with no concerns
this was several years ago
and I am happy to say he lived a good life
and met a lady to spend his time
and even almost made her his wife
they lived together for a few years
sometimes even with a few tears
as they went through the usual unmarried woes
keeping each other on their toes
till finally just a few weeks ago
they had the most terrible fight
so bad that it turned off the light
of any remaining feelings they had
and left them both feeling mad
my friend called me to say
that he was flying out the next day
back to the land where he was born
and that I should not mourn
but to make the most of our friendship here
and to say goodby with good cheer
we shook hands and gave a hug
and said take care and stay in touch
but the truth of the matter as we well know
even email and smartphones all the go
we probably will never see
or even speak to each other again
I surely will miss my old friend
for his wit and humor dry as can be
as life goes on maybe we are apart
and his memories will live on in my heart.

Follow Up to Friends…


Danny with his buddy Richie

Danny with his buddy Richie

When I wrote about friends the other day
I was thinking more about those away
not because they fell ill and died
and caught everybody by surprise
or because they had an incurable disease
which was going to take them
however we choose
as we have no say in someone’s life
to live or to die is not ours to decide.

No, I was thinking more on the lines
of all of those we have left behind
as we live our lives they have no say
and if we needed to move away
the friendship however strong at the time
eventually ended with no ties
as each moves on with new friends to replace
those who are now no longer in grace.

Luckily for us as we move on
briefly missing the ones who are gone
replacing them is not easy to do
as people are gregarious and soon
they meet new people to nurture and grow
whether in contest or just to drink beer
to boost each other or to give good cheer
a helping hand when in need
that’s what friends do
for friends to succeed.

Keep on smiling…


Red Rose

Red Rose

Whether a cup of coffee or to buy a car
the people of Texas are by far
the friendliest that you can ever meet
even when passing in the street
a smile, a nod or a passing “hello”
they always want to let you know
that they noticed you as you passed by
and in return you have to say”Hi”.

It seems their nature is to be friends
and even though you never see them again
that passing smile or nod of the head
lightens up the day until in the end
you find yourself doing the same
to people you pass along the way.

A smile can be a contagious thing
and costs nothing to give and no meaning meant
other than to greet in a personal way
people  like you with good intent
to make this and every other day
as pleasant as can be in every way.

There are no strangers…only friends you have not yet met.

 

Lunch Today


Catfish Parlor

My friends took me to lunch today
for your birthday, they did say.
Pat and Fran led the way
for they are the friends who did say
come, let us take you to lunch today.
With two beautiful ladies for company
why would I want to say
I can’t go to lunch today.

Where I was expecting a birthday cake
fish and chips instead for we did take
our lunch at Catfish Parlor where
birthday cake is not served there

No matter, the fish and chips were good
taking me back to my childhood
and beyond for thirty years or so
before to America I did go
and fish and chips of the English kind
the meal today did bring to mind.

Thank you, my friends for it was kind
of you to take me to lunch and find
a dish that I could really enjoy
and even though we did not have cake
it matters not the food for the sake
of friendship to dinner we did partake
and the birthday was just an excuse
for good friends to share time together.

Thank you my Friends.

Friendship-What does it mean to you


Austin panoramaI have been retired for eleven years from the University of Texas at Austin. I will always remember the date, January 31, 2001. My friends and acquaintances gave me a wonderful farewell party with gifts and cake and as usually happens at those type of things at least for me, when it came time to read this great speech I had written, I choked up and had to turn away leaving all of my parting words of wisdom unspoken.

It matters not as with most retiring people, they are only missed for as long as their usefulness to the company is exhausted and then they become a mere memory. Oh, close friends may miss them but with the absence of the physical body, the spirit is not much of a presence and as time passes, so do the memories.

This is how it should be as none of us should live in the past. Just as I am a forgotten person at the place that I worked for 21 years, so too are my thoughts and feelings about that place. I am grateful that I get a very rewarding pension and the hospitalization plan is excellent but I have not thought too much as to my former workmates and only on the not very infrequent occasion when I run into someone  from the past at the supermarket or such, are memories and acquaintances renewed however temporarily.

I may be an exception to the buddy thing preferring to act out my life with current friends rather than memories of older ones. When I think back over the years to my friends and the people I grew up with at Huggletts Lane, Dennis Baker, Radford and Ivy Upfield, John Holman to name a few  that I grew up with through age 11 all of those years ago, and then on through the years to all of my soccer playing buddies and there have been hundreds of them, my workmates in my early jobs, all of the people who have touched my life one way or the other, it is a seemingly impossible task to remember them all. At some point or another, many of them were special but they applied to one particular moment in time even if that time lasted years.

Even now in my life, things are still changing. I have just ended the part of my life helping to run the Austin Mens Soccer here in Austin after more than twenty years and all of the wonderful people who I have worked with, I have quit playing so will not get to make any more on the field acquaintances or renew existing ones, I am getting to the end of my coaching career with the River City Rangers after many years and will no longer be running into other coaches and kids that I have worked with. These are all activities that have consumed a major portion of my life and have involved hundreds of people many of whom, I am glad to say, I consider to be a friend, but, as time passes and I move on to the next chapter whatever that may be, I wonder how much friendship will be left? I would guess that in truth, not very much and what there is will be restricted to an occasional coffee or maybe a meal… for old times sake.

That doesn’t mean that life is over. Every time I meet a new person, then I have just made a new friend. They may only be temporary but as we go through life, we are constantly making new friends and leaving old ones behind and very few are lasting. Those that do last are to be cherished as they are special, very special. But in truth, in this modern world of hustle and bustle and constant activity including moving from one place to another, friends are mostly of the moment. Very few will not be forgotten and most will fade as time goes marching on.

Do you want to be my friend? All I can offer you is the here and now, no tomorrow…