Strange Times


How strange these current moments are in time as we collectively struggle with the Coronavirus. It’s almost like something out of a science fiction movie and the only thing lacking is for the dead to turn into zombies. Maybe that is still to come. Who knows.

Something to brighten our day.

In Austin, Texas, my home town, even though the virus has not really infected too many people yet, there is a surreal atmosphere about the place as though we are on hold waiting for something to happen. There is hardly any traffic on the road, which by itself is not such a bad thing. Rush hour traffic is temporarily a thing of the past, at least until this is all over. I spend a lot of time at home anyway so this staying in place is not a chore for me. If I choose to go out from my self imposed lock down, it is usually every afternoon for a Latte at Starbucks drive through and I no longer have to wait for a break in traffic in order to turn onto the main highway from my house. That is how slow the traffic is in these troubled times. I have even resorted to using the Starbucks App on my phone as opposed to using my Starbucks card so as to alleviate physical contact.

My local grocery store, known as HEB, has instituted a new procedure as you can no longer just walk into the store. Now, you have to grab a cart and wait in line 6 feet from the person in front of you as the store personnel allow people in 10 at a time. They give you a wipe for the cart as you enter the door which is a little late as you have probably been holding the cart while you are waiting which could be anything up to 20 minutes. I was going to stop in for a couple of things but when I saw the wait, I parked my cart and went home knowing that I can do without whatever I thought was important at the time.

Just for the heck of it, I drove to Dripping Springs to the HEB there and they had exactly the same thing going on. Needless to say, I just stopped at the Starbucks drive through and ordered my Latte to drink on the way back home. I know that sooner rather than later, I am going to have to bite the bullet and join that darn line. Maybe I can just use up all of the cans in the cupboard and frozen goods in my refrigerator until the milk runs out for my morning lattes. Then it will be an absolute necessity that I go shopping or learn to drink my coffee black. If the coffee beans or the dog food run out, then I really am in trouble.

I had to stop at the Home Depot as I needed to return a package that came via FedEx in a totally smashed up parcel with special order light bulbs inside which, needless to say, were also broken. Home Depot is also incorporating a line by numbers entrance to the store but I was lucky and walked right in. Once in the store, there was tape on the ground mandating where each person had to stand while waiting to be served and the only time you got closer was to sign the register. You have to admire the personnel that are working in the store albeit because they need to in order to survive. These are trying times for any that work in the retail industry as they have to come face to face with those they are trying to help.

In the same Shopping Center where Home Depot is located are several other large retailers all of whom have closed their doors. It is the first time ever that I have seen the particular parking lot completely empty. I wonder if these employees are getting paid or are on their own.

I was talking to my neighbor on this subject as we stood in her yard the mandatory 6 feet away from each other and the conversation turned to the other scares that we have had in the past few years and she mentioned that never before has there been a virus that has caused so much panic and so great a reaction around the world. I did some research and found the following online.

  1. It has a long incubation period, up to 14 days. Why does that matter? Well, take the flu, for instance. If you become infected with the flu virus you will begin to have symptoms within 4–24 hours. Therefore, there is a smaller window of time that you have the virus and do not know it or have symptoms. With the Coronavirus having an incubation period of 14 days, one person can literally spread the virus to thousands of people without even knowing they themselves have it!
  2. It can live on hard surfaces longer. While the flu virus has a very short life span outside the body, the CoVid19 has can live up to 9 days on a hard surface. That means that someone who has the virus can, let’s say for example, rent a car and drive it around town for an hour or a half hour and return it. The car can then sit there on the rental lot for a week or longer, and then someone else can rent that car and contract the virus! But, they may not show signs of having the virus for two weeks, and they too then may spread it to another thousand or more people.
  3. It causes pneumonia and respiratory failure, which is more difficult for people who already have medical conditions that may weaken their respiratory systems: bronchitis, asthma, COPD, overweight, smokers, vapors, etc. People who are already confined to bed, or who spend a lot of time in bed. People already prone to pneumonia.
  4. It stays airborne longer. Someone can sneeze in the grocery store, then minutes later, you might walk through and contract the virus.
  5. It has been found in human feces (poop). It has been theorized that it can live in the sewage systems and travel into your home through your public septic system.

This whole thing is totally depressing and if I was a drinking man, a good excuse to get drunk. As I am not, I will have to make do with the Latte’s at least until the milk runs out.

Written 3/23/2020.

APS February Meeting – 2020


A pano view of some of the Members.

The Austin Pond Society held their Monthly Meeting this past Monday, February 17th at the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin where most of their meetings are held. The only exceptions is when they go on location to other sites such as Mayfield Park or Austin Aqua-Dome and such.

This meeting was attended by around 35 people, some of whom were there on an exploratory basis to see if they wanted to become members which of course we always encourage visitors to do. All were invited to share in the fabulous pizzas along with salads and deserts brought in by the Members.

Bill Biggadike, Kim Reynolds. Steve Garza

At 7:00 pm, Barb, our President, introduced the Speaker for the evening, Bill Biggadike of Bill Biggadike and Associates whose topic for the evening was going to be on Pond and Garden Lighting. Several of the members had expressed an interest in this topic. After a short video, Bill opened up the floor for questions of which there were many and he and his two associates, Kim Reynolds and Steve Garza spent the next hour answering them. Bill apologised for the quality of the video which presented the age old problem of taking pictures at night in the dark and not being able to use artificial light.

Pond and Garden Lighting

Following the presentation, Barb took over and conducted the small bit of business that she had. Julie, as the AAGC Representative was the first person up and gave a brief outline of the meeting that she had attended. Some time was spent in discussing the upcoming Pond Tour to be held on June 6-7. BJ talked about the number of ponds that she currently has on her list and the need for at least a half dozen more. There was also some discussion on the vacancy for a Pond Tour Chairman, a position which is so important and has yet to be filled. We really need someone to pull the Pond Tour all together combining the work by the various individual members and committees that each have separate rolls in getting this great event ready for the Public.

Business Section of the meeting.

The meeting closed with the raffle drawing and the members drifted away after a rapid clean up of the room. The next meeting is scheduled for March 16 and the speaker will be Adam Coffin from The Great Outdoors. His topic will be “Insects and diseases that are new or lesser known” and should be interesting to learn about the creepy crawlies that inhabit our yards and gardens. Hope to see you there.

Written 02/19/2020

The New Year is Here


Even in a Texas winter, Nature is beautiful

Well, the old calendar has gone and done it again. It has turned over another month and lo and behold, along with it another year. We are now in the year of 2020 which really sounds like something out of a space movie. I fully expected that when I woke up on January 1, to be reading about visitors from outer space who had made a quick visit to meet and greet us only to discover that by their standards, we were nothing better than a bunch of cavemen. Not wanting to socialize with a world of inept barbarians, they had quickly departed back to who knows where.

Well, it didn’t happen as there were no visits from outer space that we know of but we are still a bunch of inept barbarians whose only mission in life is greed and wealth for the one percent and a working slog for the remaining ninety nine percent to keep the one percent on top of the pedestal. Not content with our lot, we choose to make war on our fellow man in our struggles to join the same one percenters and to take over entire countries just because we don’t agree with their way of life or religion or color or speech or that they have wealth that we want for ourselves.

While we are so busy fighting amongst ourselves and against each other, we are killing our planet as we pump all of the wrong stuff into the atmosphere and into our streams and rivers which eventually, and not in the very far distant future, will kill our planet and every living thing that currently inhabits it. That is if we haven’t already accomplished that by fighting amongst ourselves and wiping ourselves off the planet by the use of EMP bombs as nations go to war against each other.

But, all is not lost. For those of us who have grown older and somehow have managed to scrape up enough material possessions in our working life to give us a somewhat comfortable retirement, we do have those remaining years to look forward to. Whether it is alone or with a mate, life is still full of wonderful surprises. Just to wake up in the mornings with the sun shining and the birds singing as we take a stroll around our gardens with a cup of coffee in our hand, admiring ours and Mother Nature’s combined handiwork accompanied in my case, by two very cheerful and busy little dogs as they too, greet the morning. My two constant companions.

On mornings such as this, all of the bad things get pushed to the background, out of sight and out of mind, at least temporarily until I come back inside and open up my computer to read about the mornings happenings throughout the world. Then I sigh and wish that I had never grown old and was back in England in 1946, still a ten year old kid with my whole life stretching out in front of me. I sure would have made a lot of different decisions if I had that foresight. As that is never going to happen as much as I wish it to, I jump back to reality and figure out what to do today after breakfast and answering the few emails of importance that I get.

For most of us, the real world revolves around us and those that are immediately impacted by what we do and say. Whether it be our relatives in which I include wives and kids or neighbors that live in our close proximity, they all might be affected by any one of our actions. Everyday outside occurrences have some effect on all of us and some are affected more than others.

So, where does that leave us? Most of us are just small fry in a very large pond and can only collectively make any changes and that is by sheer weight of numbers like voting in local and major elections. We can change the way we live and try to be more Eco Friendly and do our bit to help save the planet. We can be kinder in our everyday actions whether that be by restraining how we speak and feel about others that we consider to be lesser people than ourselves or helping that guy on the street down on his luck and is looking for a handout. Or even simple things like picking up our trash and recycling as much as possible all help in the big picture. But, most of all, we need to treat our bodies with respect, watch what we eat, get more exercise, stay active including our minds and try to live a better and cleaner life.

Will that solve the world’s problems and of course, the answer is no but it might help us to enjoy our time on this planet which is altogether way too brief. So, Happy New Year everyone. May you get whatever it is that you wish for but remember, nothing is free. You have to earn it.

Written 1/8/2020

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

More Thoughts


I got to thinking the other day
after many long years of living alone
just what is it that makes us this way
with nobody else to share our home
history shows that things went well
in the first few years of married bliss
but then as time did tell
things started to come amiss
and all of the love of those early days
could not withstand in so many ways
the pressures that life brings to the fore
and loved walked out of the open door
leaving behind a broken heart
and the price to pay is living apart
three attempts at trying to find love
in a marriage and a happy home
each one ending just like before
with me being shown the door
and finally choosing to live alone
rather than try to do it again
as a broken heart is not easy to mend
and it’s much easier to just be friends
after twenty five years of living alone
with many pets that I chaperoned
I do not wish to share my life
or have any other form of strife
and the remaining dogs get along just fine
and the quiet life is so sublime
they give me love and affection too
and sense when my moods are blue
they cheer me up with cuddles and wags
and lots of kisses if I get too close
these are things that I like the most
so instead of a wife my life to share
I have the love of my pets that are in my care
there have been a lot of pets in that time
as their lives are short beyond compare
new ones fill the holes left behind
each special in that moment so dear
they ask for nothing and in return
I give them love and caring too
and together we will see the end
when that final moment comes due…

Written 6/21/2019





As We Grow Old


As we grow old we are sometimes alone
maybe through no fault of our own
and even in another life
we may even have had a wife
or two or three whatever the odds
and their actions mean we lost the toss
and even though they left us to go
and we grew too old and willing to roam
and had not the urge to pick up the phone
instead choosing to live alone
along with our pets who are our friends
who stay with us until their end
both dogs and cats are in that group
with one another in an endless loop
as such short lives they all do have
and when they are gone we are so sad
at losing yet another mate
whose love for us had been their fate
if I had one last request
it would be that at my behest
when I die and my soul moves on
and even if there is no song
I want it to be at the very same place
where all of my pets at their Pearly Gates
are waiting for me and welcome me home
and together we will never be alone
for the past twenty years my pets and I
have looked after each other with the lows and the highs
they have been there through good times and bad
and comforted me when I was sad
and carefully laid their chin on my knee
which was their way of comforting me
and in return I would stroke their fur
and the troubles would lessen with them being there
as I grow old with the passing years
and know that my end and all of my fears
will someday no longer be
and I hope then that my destiny
once young and vibrant and full of life
now old and wrinkled no longer in strife
my pets will still have someone to care
and look after them as I am not there
to give them the love that has been their life
and look after them without any strife
and even though their lives are short
this is one time that I have to report
that they could well outlive me
as my life fades into history.

For the love of a pet or in my case, many pets…

Written 4/15/2019



Reimers Ranch 12-21-2018


A panoramic view

I took another walk at Reimers Ranch just to get out and about in the fresh air and the beautiful sunny weather. Hard to believe that it is winter time with the temperatures hovering around 70 degrees. Even so, Mother Nature, in all of her glory, has on her winter coat at least in my part of Texas. Everything is a drab brown color except for the Evergreen Oaks and of course, the Cedars with the occasional Possumhaw Holly showing its red berries.

Possumhaw Holly

I decided that I would walk the other half of the Multi Use Trail that I didn’t complete on one of my earlier walks on the Northern end of the Park. I parked in the Mountain Bike Parking Lot which had several cars in it. I noticed as I drove past that the Horse Trailer Parking also had several trailers in it so there was some activity and on a Friday to boot. A couple of bikers came in as I was getting ready after having completed their runs chattering away and quite obviously having enjoyed it very much.

Oh, to be young again.

I changed into my hiking boots and decided on just one camera as I set out taking the trail that leads to Johnny’s Homestead which, by the way, is nothing but a standing chimney as the rest of the building disappeared in a fire several years ago. It still serves as a map marker. I passed a young couple going in the opposite direction and we exchanged pleasantries. As I hit the Multi Use Trail, I turned south. This trail is very easy walking and only at the very end, does it get rougher going. I managed to get a picture of a Pine Warbler which for me, is quite an achievement as I don’t see many birds. Probably because I am too noisy as I walk along and also because I don’t have the patience to sit and watch. When I do get to see one, I have to rely on the zoom lens to bring them in close and then hope I can crop the pictures to get them even closer and with color.


Pine Warbler

This end of the Multi Use Trail also brings me close to the stream that marks the boundary on this end of the park. It runs roughly north/south and tends to dry up in the very hot weather. This time of the year, it has a nice steady flow and as with a lot of the streams and waterways around here, has dug itself quite a deep ditch/canyon to flow through. I walked over to the closest spot and took a couple of pictures but was not able to convey the depth of the canyon very well which is about 50 feet at this point.

Stream

The trail eventually veers away from the stream as it makes the turn to bring me back to where I started. The posted markers indicate that the complete loop is 4.7 miles. I am not sure how they measure it as both of my pedometers always show more distance. At this point, the walking gets a little harder as the terrain turns rocky and also with a grade increase both up and down. I met a horse and rider who were just starting out from the Horse Trailer Parking Area and we exchanged pleasantries and joking about her six legs of transport compared to my two. I finally made the turn back up the road and into the Mountain Bike Parking Lot and to my truck. The lot was quite a bit emptier as many of the bikers had already left as had most of the Horse Trailers when I walked by their parking lot.

View from the parking lot.

Altogether, I covered a little over four miles of pleasant and easy walking on a beautiful sunny day in Texas in the winter. The slideshow below is made up of the still pictures that I took.

A collection of photos

Written 12/24/2018