Boxing Day

I wrote this last year and decided to re-publish it.

As an ex-pat from England, I will spend tomorrow celebrating the day after Christmas as most British people do and that is to sit back and relax and spend the entire day feasting on left overs, drinking beer and watching game after game of football (with a round ball) on the English Premier League.  I am an ardent Man U fan.

The day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day in the UK to most and Saint Stephen’s Day to the religious. Most Brits think of it as another day off to recover from overeating and drinking on Christmas Day and of course, the opportunity to watch football. For those of you that want to know more about this holiday, read the article below from Wikipedia.

The exact etymology of the term “boxing” is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive.[1] The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to theMiddle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen,[2] which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.[3] This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys‘ diary entry for 19 December 1663.[4] This custom is linked to an older English tradition: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.



Goldfinches on a feeder

Goldfinches on a feeder

I wonder where the birds all go
when the seed in my feeders is running low
and after I fill them back to the brim
the birds come flying back again.

I understand if the seed is low
that someplace else they must go
as what I have is an additional thing
to what they normally are eating.

But, how do they know when the feeders are full
what messaging system do they have
that they all come flocking back again
not just one or two but a whole lot more
eager to feast outside my door.

All different types of birds are there
do they all the same language speak
does each song though different sung
tell the same story to every one?

Ah, Mother Nature at her best
knows the secret of the birds
but she will not help to solve
one of her mysteries she has evolved.

Here they all come again
from the tiny wren to much larger birds
even those that are way to big
to balance themselves as they try to eat.

To me it is interesting
to watch them squabble over the seed
that some are so busy guarding the stuff
they never have the time to feed.

Others take one sunflower seed
and speedily depart to the nearest tree
to consume their bounty in relative peace
until they go back for more to feed.

And so it goes day after day
I find it amusing in my own way
and try to keep the feeders filled
so that bored, I can never say

These tiny birds are a pleasure to watch
as they go about their work
to them they simply need to eat
in order for them to survive
so the act of filling up the bowls
is my way of saying thank you to them
for all of the pleasure they do show
as I sit and watch them over again.

TSSAS 2013 Annual Meeting – Dedicated to Carlos Rodriguez and my last as Administrator

Carlos Rodriguez - 2006

Carlos Rodriguez, taken in 2006

I attended the TSSAS Annual Meeting held in Houston, this past weekend, August 9/10. I was not to know this at the time but it turns out it was my very last meeting as TSSAS Administrator following the interviews on Saturday. After ten years in the job, the Board, in all of its wisdom, chose to appoint a new Administrator. I have many fond and happy memories of the times spent working and talking to my friends and soccer cohorts over the twenty or so years that I have been attending. Most are gone either having retired or some have passed on to that soccer field in the sky where all soccer players eventually end up. I would like to have continued on but it is not to be.

This once a year meeting holds special memories for me personally as it was one year ago on August 8 on my way down to San Antonio that I had the misfortune to somehow get a blood clot in my right calf (Deep Leg Thrombosis) necessitating me having to quickly return to Austin and the following day, to the Emergency room. Incidentally, that drive home was an experience all by itself and took an hour longer than normal due to frequent stops, not to mention the pain involved.

This turned out to be a bit of a life changer as I had to give up coaching the little kids and with it ended my physical involvement with the beautiful game. Sadly, all things come to an end but I guess it was time. After all, I am now 77 and soccer is considered to be a young man’s game. Tell that to my many 50-60 year old friends who are still playing.

This time, I allowed extra time and stopped several times on the way to Houston to get out and stretch my legs and arrived safe and sound.

As is usual, Friday evening was the Board of Directors business meeting followed by dinner at an Italian restaurant called Ciro’s. The food was excellent and the company was very amusing. All in all, a  good evening. It took all of my willpower to not indulge in one of the very fancy desserts that the rest of the table was sharing.

The following morning, after a very restless evening at the Hotel, probably due to not having the four dogs to keep me company, I was up at 6:00 am which I never do. Under normal circumstances, I am an 8:00 am person unless there are some other reasons like a doctor’s appointment to warrant an earlier rising. Luckily, the hotel also has its own Starbucks making me one very happy fellow. Armed with a non fat latte, I was ready to face the knowledgeable group of Registrars and other League officers as I lectured them on the finer points of running a league from the Registrars perspective.

The meeting went well and I was ably assisted by Neal Backes, the TSSAS Webmaster on the laptop and the overhead, showing the different slides of the documents required. Even though we started on time and that I was allowed an additional fifteen minutes, I was still hard pressed to finish on time. Guess I like to hear the sound of my own voice too much.

At 10:15 am, the training session ended and the members broke out to attend their sessions of interest, men, women and coed as each of these groups have their own commissioner and are run by their own specialty rules for things like the State Cup. For many years, Carlos Rodriguez, San Antonio Soccer Association, was the men’s commissioner but with his passing, the division was left without a commissioner. But, all was not lost as Gloria Rodriguez, Carlos wife,volunteered to step in and fill the role. It is a well know fact that behind every good man there is usually a good woman and Carlos and Gloria were no exceptions to this rule. Gloria has gone one step further and has volunteered her services to visit the Valley and talk to the leagues down there to see what TSSAS can do to help them. We have long recognized the fact that the Valley, both by location and by its very large Hispanic community, has not received the attention it deserves. Hopefully, Gloria will help to change that. Thank you Gloria for both stepping up to be the Men’s Commissioner and for taking on this additional role.

At noon time, we adjourned to the dining room for a luncheon that was held to commemorate the many years of service that Carlos Rodriguez had been involved with soccer and for his many roles with both USASA and TSSAS. Pascal gave a very nice speech to commemorate the occasion with Gloria giving the response. Again, I outdid myself and chose an apple over the scrumptious looking deserts that were offered and had to put up with a some harassment all in good fun, from Neil. I think I made him feel guilty as I noticed he was chowing down on a piece of pie.

The meeting itself went very smoothly with discussions mostly on the revised Constitution and Bye-Laws and of course the Budget took up some time. Funny how money can make the quietest person sit up and take note. We did not have any earth shattering things to decide. Pascal was re-elected as the President and he made it very clear that this was going to be his last two years in the job and he warned the members to start looking for his replacement. After the final Budget discussion, the meeting was adjourned.

Coming down, I traveled on Highway 71 from Austin until it intersected with Highway 10 and once I got past Bergstrom Airport, the speed limit changed to 75 all the way into Katy just outside of Houston. it was wonderful to legally drive so fast and the drive down, even with the three stops that I made, was very quick.

I was planning on stopping and taking rest breaks on the way back to Austin just to be on the safe side and so I decided to take an alternate way back home as I hadn’t driven Highway 290 for a very long time and wanted to see what might have changed. The speed limit was posted as 70 for most of the way and as everyone, including me, were driving a bit more than that, it didn’t take long to reach Austin. I have to say that compared to the other route that I took on Friday, things have not changed very much along Highway 290.

I arrived home around 6:00 pm to be welcomed by 4 very happy puppies. It’s so great to have that sort of welcome committee. Almost makes it worthwhile to be away although I was not “out of touch” with them as I have a surveillance system set up that allows me to watch them on live video on my iPhone. It’s pretty cool and it is very re-assuring to me to see they are OK as they go about their daily business, which incidentally, comprises of the occasional bark at something outside and then back to “napping”. Must be a great life to be so worry free as to sleep anytime you feel like it.

And they call it a “dog’s life”. We should be so lucky…

Goodbye to my friends as I fade away.

Fade Away

Fade Away

It can wait until tomorrow.

DSC_0994I promised myself that today is  the day
when I braved the heat and went outside, not to play
but to do some work cleaning up the yard
moving dirt and stones to a different space
into the two bins I just built-in place
which was not hard for me to do as I used
landscape lumber, you know the kind
I measured and cut and stacked them up
and drilled holes through them to make them secure
for in those holes are pieces of steel
hammered into the ground for an even keel.

Now they are finished awaiting the dirt
that I plan to move into the bin
as currently, a pile by itself stands
as I moved it there when building a pond
until a better place I could find
knowing that all along
I planned to construct a place for the dirt.

Why, you say do you need the dirt
to start new plants out in the yard
to give them a chance to grow big and tall
before re-planting them along with the rest
I also have small river rocks and stones
that are used in the top of the pots for the ponds
to stop the Koi from washing them out
as destructive of all of the things that I plant
out of boredom or maybe its just their way
and they are just having their say
in shaping things or maybe they play
by destroying the plants that I put in their way.

For two mornings now things have come up
to stop me from completing this work
yesterday I had to go to the store
to purchase some parts that I needed more
than shovelling dirt and when I was through
it was way too hot to start work outside
so inside I stayed where I did hide
writing in my blog stories like this
bad poetry is how my words come out
about stories that I like to tell
written as I do not speak well
not for money as no one will buy
but to satisfy my urge to write
is why I try.

Today, I was all set to move outside
when the phone rang to let me know
that Harvey, my AC man
was ready to come and fix the drain
from the AC unit in the house
that was blocked and making a terrible mess
with water all over the hallway floor
so I stayed inside to open the door.

Two hours later he had finished the job
by then off to Time Warner I went
to change out the DVR that I had
as it didn’t work for it was bad
I came home with the new one expecting the best
and plugged it in and you can guess the rest
it did not work either so back to the store
to ask them to give me just one more

Back home did I go with my new box in a bag
and plugged it in and to my dismay
this one does not work either and will not load
so on the phone to Time Warner I called
and now have to wait for them to send
a repair man tomorrow the problem to mend.

It rained overnight for that I am glad
but it means that the dirt will be too wet to move
so another couple of days will be gone
before I can go outside to perform
the simple job of stacking the dirt
into the bin that I have just built.

The moral of this story be told
that even the simplest of task can become
more complicated than first thought of
and the best laid plans of mice and men
are subject to changes now and then.

Fear not for the work will get done
as I plan to do it in a couple of days time
when the dirt has dried out and the TV is fixed
and the AC is working to cool the inside
I will get up early to beat the heat
and will work hard to finish the feat
that is unless the phone rings again
to tell me of something else to plan.

Wait, Wait I have something new
I went outside to look at and view
the work that needed to be done
it was early and the heat and the sun
had not yet risen to uncomfortable heights
I picked up the shovel and went to town
moved all of the dirt and then I found
that I could move the stone and still not content
tidied the area shoveling dirt on high
on top of the compost which reaches the sky
moved the bins and their contents keeping them intact
and the trailer and cart all stacked in a row
I still need to sort out the pots in their place
as Richie disturbs any semblance of shape
as he searches for rats and mice in his quest
to be the head ratter and to chase down the pests.

Thank goodness the work is finally done
the last of the projects the rest will be fun
as weeding and mulching and watering too
all are things that I need to work on its true
but I have all summer to do these things
which will also give me time to work out at the gym
something I have neglected for a while
time to change that and my lifestyle too.

When I look at you, what do you see?

Dahlia Preference

Dahlia Preference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you look at a person what do you see
beyond their obvious physical tone
do you see beauty where there is none
or does the person have to meet
strict standards that only you alone
dare to impose as the proper one.

While it is true what appeals to others
may not always appeal to you
if slim and shapely be your choice
as opposed to someone more rounded in size
or maybe its the other way around
and your preference of large can be found.
If you judge solely by his or her looks
and to you this must be met
aren’t you missing out in other ways
like personality and caring, loving and grace
and if you never give the other a chance
you will never find out for yourself
just how kind and good because to you
none of these things come shining through.

I fear if you set your standards so high
or if so judgemental you may be
what right do you others to judge
when you may be no real catch
and love you will never match.

If you read this and it strikes a bell
and if you are looking for a mate
you must broaden your vision and be free
with more honesty and less desire
to find that perfect mate for you
because in truth you may not be
much of a catch yourself to view.

But then again if you search
for perfection and it can’t be found
not for you a happy mate
but instead the lonely sound
of you crying yourself to sleep
alone in this world no partner to keep.