Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
Just sitting here with nothing to do and waiting for the time to pass which is unusual for me as generally I am always free to write a poem or words that last.
Failing that there is plenty to do if only I would look to see out in the yard to trim the plants or work on the ponds as growing they are most rapidly.
The reason for this waiting game are reasons not hard to explain as today is spent on two of the dogs the new girl Sandy is being groomed which includes a bath and she thinks she is doomed
She is not happy with me at all as all of this handling makes her sore and hurts her feelings and although a girl she may be clean just causes controversy
Ginnie my 12 year old little girl has gone to the Vets for an annual check to keep her fit and trouble free pretty good for an old lady everything is working great the Vet had said as stroked her head and he stuck in the needle one more time with a another shot to keep her fine.
So my day is split between the groomers salon and the veterinary scene but I don’t mind as I love those guys and if you ask the reason why I will tell you that they both love me and in their case unconditionally.
Tomorrow Sandy and I have a date this time a trip from whence she came. She too needs to see her Vet for treatment needed most urgently as heartworm has she from her owners past who did not treat her for her to last.
I hope that young and strong and full of life she will beat the worms and her heart grows strong and she can run and jump and play alive and well for another day.
One thing that you can be sure that we are working on a cure and have every hope we will prevail for Sandy’s sake we cannot fail.
I love my pets this can be said and will do what it takes to keep them well and give them the best that I can afford regardless of the price to pay to have them around another day.
Following the last wind/rain storm that we had a couple of weeks ago, the Spruce tree that I have in the 6000 gallon pond blew over. This is not really that surprising as it stands about fifteen tall and it’s roots are in an eighteen inch diameter shallow container weighted down with a couple of heavy rocks. For those of you that are unaware, pots and such when placed in the water are very easy to move around as the water makes them feel lighter and more buoyant. With this top heavy tree and the weightlessness (almost) of its base, it doesn’t take a lot of wind for it to topple. Spruce trees in the wild have a very extensive shallow root system that spread out in all directions with a lot of those same roots above ground.
Yesterday, I resolved that I would make the effort to upright the tree. This required that I get into the pond along with the fish and the turtles. I kicked around whether to wear my waders or to strip down to a pair of shorts and chose the latter. Actually, the water was not a bit cold and as I had just finished moving and stacking the rocks to stop Sandy from digging her way out, was a very welcome way to cool down.
The tree uprighting went very well and I managed to swing it back into place and retie the supporting cords. I found the rocks that had fallen off when it went over and replaced them. I could feel as I walked around that the amount of leaves and debris was more than I should allow as when that stuff rots, it tends to give off methane and ammonia which are toxic to the fish. So, I figured that as I was already in the pond, why not go ahead and clean out as much of the junk that I could. At the same time, I was able to reach in the bog and clean it of some of the very abundant plants growing there.
By this time, I was really in the swing of things and after completing the 6000 gallon pond, I moved over to the 5000 gallon one that is just off the deck and proceeded to jump into it. As well as cleaning the muck out of the bottom, I needed to trim the Umbrella plant and take out other excessive growth. The urn that is in the middle of this pond had stopped working and I surmised that the hose had broke and needed to be replaced but when I turned it over, it was just totally blocked up. A few pushes with the drain cleaning snake and it was free and clear which was a pleasant surprise. I needed to rebuild the base as I wanted to put a shelf above the water line for the many turtles in the pond to have a place to sun themselves. I bought that urn thirty years ago and installed it on the very first pond that I built and subsequently moved it to the rebuild of that same pond later years.
There was a nest of fire ants at the exact spot that I used to get in and out and they managed to bite me a few times even when I was in the water. Nasty little buggers, fire ants. I don’t like them one little bit. I finally finished all of work inside these two ponds. I didn’t realize how sore I was with all of the exertion until I jumped in the hot tub.
I need to get in the shallow pond and clean it out and cut back all of the growth as I can hardly see the water. I haven’t seen anything of out friendly Heron but that is probably that he can’t even see the fish it is so grown over. That and the two Scarecrows. This is the pond that the two Brown Snakes do all of their fishing so it will be interesting when that time comes. I also spotted a Whip Snake yesterday so we may have at least three of them living here. Probably wear the waders for this one…
Footnote. We had very heavy winds overnight and needless to say, the tree has blown over again. Oh well….
It’s been raining at my house for a few days preventing me from going out to play and any work around the ponds has to be done with a raincoat on and even after the rain has stopped everything has turned to slop and being outside is just not fun as the dripping trees continue to run I’ve spent time indoors sitting around not wasting it as I have found that time on the website that I maintain is put to good use as I make it the same as I picture exactly what I want it to be and then write the code so that others can see the pictures and words of upcoming things they can see for themselves my offerings in an attempt to show them what is in store including the fabulous Austin Pond Tour with fifteen ponds spread over two days all different kinds and so many ways to make a back yard a beautiful thing so that others can see and their praises will sing not knowing the time and the effort it takes to turn it into a beautiful place the rain has stopped and I venture outside to look at my ponds that Nature does hide from view as I sit writing these words with growth so thick that even the birds have trouble in finding the seeds that I spread as I welcome their presence and they’re not underfed birds of all colors some big and some small jostling to get to their share of it all the yard I have is a beautiful place everything so green filling a space in between the ponds of which there are four filled with Goldfish and Koi and plants galore with pathways between leading around and around until back at the start you can be found ready to do it over again to see what you missed as its never the same to maintain the ponds is a lot of work which in the past I did not shirk but as I now am eighty three the work is catching up with me and I’m no longer sure for how long I can last as I do not work like in the past and things are much harder than before as old age is knocking at my door and with it the loss of strength that I had especially when I was a much younger lad and what I will need to do is close down the ponds before I am through and still have the strength to perform this task just a few more years is all I ask as I live out my remaining days just me and the dogs very set in our ways.
Spring is in full swing in my part of Central Texas. The trees are busting out with new growth and many of the flowers are showing their pretty heads to this brand new season. Things that I had given up for dead following the week long freeze that we had, have surprised me by coming back to life. There are a few casualties as there always are some of which are easily replaced, others not so much.
Over the years, I have gone more and more to Native plants which true to form, come back year after year. One of their problems is the tendency to want to take over different parts of the garden, crowding out the smaller plants. I also allow them to grow pretty much uncontrolled only cutting them back when they start to encroach on the gravel paths that intertwine throughout the yard.
Consequently, the open view that I have immediately following the winter freeze clean up only lasts for a couple of months before Nature has regrown everything and it becomes difficult to see from one side of the yard to the other.
The ponds are a different story. The frost killed almost everything above the water line and because the water is constantly on the move, we did not have any ice build up to affect the tubers and such at the actual water line itself. What few lilies that may be left after receiving up close and personal attention from the big Koi, were all below water level. One is already showing leaves but they all need to be taken out and re-potted and fertilized before returning them back to the ponds. I do this Spring after Spring and regardless of how much growth or how many lily pads, the Koi will invariably tear them to pieces and uproot the tubers. I have tried several different methods including placing larger rocks or pebbles on the top but the Koi so far have outwitted me in their endeavors. I have watched them as they either use their nose to push stuff out of the way or they will park their large bodies on the top of the pot and use their tail to wash out the dirt and stones. They can be very ingenious and industrious in the way they go about this.
Years ago, I tried planting flowers every Spring and for a while, things would look pretty but I am basically a lazy gardener and replanting every year quickly became a lot of work that didn’t interest me enough to continue. Hence the Native Plant route many of which do flower and put on a pretty display.
Pretty much most of the heavy work is already done. The cutting back and raking the leaves and such. I still need to get in the ponds to clean them out but I want to have the lilies re-potted and ready to go before I take the pond route. The only real project that needs to be done this year is to straighten up one of the fences where it has developed a lean. It is not a major project requiring the digging out around the posts, straightening to an upright position and then concreting the posts back to their new upright positions. I usually put permanent 2×6 braces to hold everything in place. The fencing is 6 feet high wood slats and the original parts are more than 34 years old. Needless to say, many of the slats have been replaced and this time around, I need to work on 4 different posts. Other than that, I can’t think of anything major that I need to work on meaning that I should have a lot more time to go hiking.
I have many Texas Live Oaks in my yard both front and back. The Latin name for this magnificent tree is Quercus fusiformis. I had to look that up as I haven’t a clue when it comes to the Latin names of anything. Just recently, I wrote a blog about the efforts by a company of tree trimmers that I had hired to cut back all of the dead limbs, and there were plenty.
Live Oaks tend to be very late with shedding their leaves or probably I should say, very early as where most trees lose their leaves in the Fall, the Live Oak sheds its leaves in the early Spring as the weather starts to warm up. This is followed immediately by a growth of new leaves to replace those that have fallen. Then the “Flowers” start to fall. which are pods about 1- 3 inches long that get into everything. These are pretty messy as they are usually accompanied by a whole herd of caterpillars which eat all of the new growth forcing it to start all over again. . The entire thing lasts for about a month. This is all perfectly normal for this particular tree.
However, this year it is different as the leaves are coming down much earlier than usual. This is because the very heavy frost and ice rain that we had that lasted for five days and nights, froze many of the leaves before their normal time. Consequently, we are suffering through an abnormal amount of leaves that are falling off the trees. Upon checking the trees themselves, there is a lot of brown up there still waiting to fall. My guess is that it won’t be finished until the new leaves grow late February and early March just as soon as the weather warms up. Then in the Fall, the acorns come tumbling down and they too, have to be swept up. This past year there were more acorns than I have ever seen before and if they were a forerunner of a bad winter, then that is true as what we have had so far, is the worst I have seen in my forty years of living in this State.
You know all of those leaves that I raked up in the Fall? Well now I can do it all again this Spring. Lucky me.
I sat at the kitchen table looking out through the glass
at the garden that now has been cut back because of the frost
it was a dull and grey day with the sun hidden behind the clouds
and I wondered what I could do the time to pass.
I sat watching the birds as they squabbled over the seed
even though there are many feeders for them to choose
they all had to have the same one who knows why
maybe it was special and satisfied their need.
I sat and watched the dogs as they wandered the yard
one slim and lithe as she scampered around
nose to the ground checking for every smell
she found nothing or she was not trying very hard.
I sat and watched other dog who did not have the nose to smell
instead content to bark at the squirrel in the trees
and sit and look out onto the yard
checking to see that all was well.
I sat and thought about what needed to be done
to clear the remaining plants killed by the frost
and who should take on this task
I guess it’s me, I am the only one.
I sat here looking at a blank screen
and looked outside at the scene
what I saw was dull and grey
as it was kind of a cloudy day
and although the temperature had risen
I sat and tried to make a decision
do I want to go outside
and cut back the plants that have all died
or rake the leaves fallen off the trees
those that have died and come down with ease
with many more ready to fall
I may be raking at Nature’s call
but as my brain is not functioning well
and the call from Nature is almost a yell
I think outside is where I will go
and me and my rake will put on a show.
Stories about family, faith, friends and funnies. Pull up a chair. Grab a cup of coffee and laugh, cry, ponder and inspire about ordinary events of this wonderful, ever changing, bubbling pot that we call "every day life".