This and That…


View of the Texas Hill Country from Pedernales Falls State Park

I was sitting in front of my computer actually waiting to go to the next event in my busy life, a meeting of the Board of the Austin Pond Society. This is our normal monthly meeting where we discuss the Austin Pond Society’s upcoming business.

Somehow, I have managed to end up on the Pond Tour Committee probably because of all of the entries about the tour I will need to make on the website. Certainly not because of my unending knowledge about putting on a tour. No, B.J. Jenkins is our resident expert having put on four tours and she hopefully has all of the answers.

Patio view of Koi pond

BJ and Sam’s Koi Pond

Prior to that, I have just finished writing about my last trip to Pedernales Falls State Park on February 6. For once, this one went without any major hitches. I didn’t get lost and in fact was even able to advise two other couples on bikes which direction and trails they needed to take. Of course, I didn’t let on that I know where I am going out here now because I got lost not once but twice and both in the same spot. Go figure.

In my house, the two cats have their own room which I have just finished cleaning. They only have to use it when I am not here as Richie, my male Dachshund has worked both of them over on two separate occasions. That was several years ago but I am reluctant to not put them in a safe place when I am away. He might be OK after all of this time but then again…. No sense in taking chances. After watching him kill a rat this morning that I had uncovered makes me think that he likes to kill things. Ginny could care less and chooses to ignore the cats in a very haughty way, almost with her nose in the air. You would think that living together as we do, Richie would accept them by now and maybe he has but I am not about to find out.

DSC_3850.JPGI have just exchanged emails with one of my friends who commented on my Facebook posting of a couple of flowers out in my garden. She tells me that she lives far North of me and has had several frosts this year. I live Southwest and so far have not had a single frost. Looking at the weather forecast, it is supposed to warm up to 81 degrees on Thursday and it is still not yet Spring until March 20.  Maybe we will get lucky and not have any frosts this year. That is good and bad as usually, the frost knocks down all of the vegetation in my garden and then when it warms up, new plants start to grow. Not sure what will happen with most of the existing vegetation still in place or whether I will need to chop a lot of it down. It does make me think about this abnormal winter and wonder whether global warming is having an effect. In any case, I am not complaining as the fine weather has allowed me to go out and about on the hiking trails.

It was nice to get back together with my friends on the APS Board. This particular group logo-144x144has been together for some time and we know each other pretty well. Every time we get a new member, it seems that they quickly blend in. It’s probably because we all have the same interests in ponds and aquatic life that we are so compatible. The new guy, Ted, is the new Pond Society Tour Chairman and as such is basically responsible for making sure everything goes off without a hitch or at least only small hitches. It is a big job and although he has the benefits of B.J’s experience he won’t be long before he finds himself up to his elbows in the proverbial dog doo. I take my hat off to anyone that is willing to devote countless hours of his and other peoples time to this thankless task.

7863243_220x220_rbKarl, who is no longer on the Board, came to the meeting in his  role of putting together the programs for the tour. We chatted for a bit some of which was about my computer that used to be his before he so graciously sold it to me. I told him it was running just fine except not having much room on the C drive  and my efforts at clearing some space. You know what they say about talking about stuff and that when you do, you jinx things and they sometimes change. Well, that is exactly what has happened here as this morning, all of a sudden I can no longer get the File Explorer to open up. I tried several different things but to no avail so I ended up bringing it into Best Buy for their Geek Squad techs to take a look at it. They tell me that hopefully, all it will take will be a partial re-install of the operating system. I left it with them in the hopes they are right. In the meantime, I am using my Surface that I bought when they first came out a couple of years ago and it will have to be my main computer for a few days. That’s OK as it is a nice little computer. Just never gets used much.

I guess the jinx thingy strikes again…


APS February Meeting 2015

Pond at Buescher State Park

Pond at Buescher State Park

The Pond Society held their second meeting of the year on Monday, February 16 at the Zilker Botanical Gardens Meeting Room. There were about 40 members in attendance including a couple of new members. We welcome them.

Our resident chef, Laura Creasley, offered us chicken Tetrazzini with a salad which really hit the spot. Someone else had brought an apple pie. I’m a sucker for any type of pie so of course I grabbed a piece of it and it was delicious. There goes my weight again….

Our speaker for the evening was Steve Kainer, owner of the Hill Country Water Gardens in Cedar Park. If you have not yet visited his place, you are missing out on a real treat. With 5 acres laid out with ponds and plants and everything that a pond and garden enthusiast could want, it is a gardeners paradise.

Steve spoke to us about preparing our ponds for the Spring and elicited a big response from the floor as he answered question after question. There were lively discussions on many of the topics. Thanks Steve for a very interesting presentation.

Following Steve, Jeannie Ferrier, our President took the floor for the business session.  She introduced our new out-of-state sponsor, Empire Aquatics and also mentioned that we still need a Parliamentarian. The meeting adjourned at 8:15 pm.

Our next meeting will be held on Monday, March 15 at the usual time and place. We hope to see you there.

The video below is of Steve Kainer.

APS Steve Kainer Feb 2015 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

This video is of the business section of the meeting.

APS February meeting 2015 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Koi for Sale, Need a home, Real Soon.

ATT00002A gentleman who lives in Buda, Texas contacted one of the members of the Pond Society to say that he is closing down his pond and would like to find a home for his Koi and the equipment that the pond uses. It looks like the filtering system he has for sale works extremely well judging by the clear water in the pictures.

Below is a copy of his e-mail along with his contact information.
He has 15-20 Fish small and big 5$-50$
Maxim high performance pump, very energy-efficient.
Two non pressurized huge Koi Clears with 4 inch bulkheads on the intake.  One is a vortex chamber and the other is a mechanical filter with media. Here is a link to their specifications.
Knife valves / Slide valves
Two 4 inch bottom drains

The pond and fish will be ready this Saturday at 12 noon for people to come and make bids on what they would like.

512 468-9708
277 Cullen Blvd.
Buda TX 78610


APS November Meeting 2013

APS Christmas Slide Show 2013 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The last meeting of the year for the Austin Pond society was held on November 18 at the Zilker Gardens Clubhouse. Being the last and so close to Thanksgiving and Christmas, what better excuse was needed than to turn this into a party.

All attending members were asked to bring a pot luck of some kind and were assigned one of three categories based on the first letter of the last name. Being an A, I had to bring some sort of vegetable and as I am no Julia Childs, I opted for a quick stop at HEB and grabbed a pre-prepared item that fitted the occasion.

More than 50 people showed up almost doubling the normal attendance for regular meetings. Not sure if it was the food, the party or the spirit of the season or maybe all of them but it was really nice to see all of these members. There were several first time members in the group.

Sonja, the Austin Pond Society official chef really outdid herself with the main roast meat course which was all gone by the end of the evening. That along with the assorted dishes provided by the more competent cooks among the group gave us plenty to feast on. The deserts were very tempting coming in all shapes and varieties with something to please everyone.


Jeannie presenting Linda with flowers

Jeannie presenting Linda with flowers

Following the meal, there was some business with Jeanne Ferrier, the incoming President presenting Linda Tinsley, the outgoing President with a bouquet of flowers and some kind words which we as members. all heartily condone. Thank you Linda for the past years efforts. Nice to know that you will still be on the Board in your new role as Special Events Coordinator. .

B.J. Jenkins was next up as the head chief of entertainment. She had designed the Austin Pond Societies own form of Survivor adapted to defend against the intricacies of puzzles and jumbled words, building blocks formed like the Eiffel Tower and ending by assisting three poor and helpless Koi that needed to be returned to their ponds. The last three survivors would each receive a gift certificate for $25 from Emerald Gardens with the overall winner, receiving a check for a million dollars.

Survivor winners and the $1,000,000 check

Survivor winners and the $1,000,000 check

I can hear you now saying that can’t be true but I swear to you that it is and there is a picture of it above.

The members split into three groups of about 15 players each. The game was in three segments with the preliminary game consisting of assembling four picture puzzles followed by choices of jumbled words of things that you don’t want in your pond. The final game for the teams was to identify the different breeds of Japanese Koi.

The winning group proceeded to the next part of their ordeal which was to match the building blocks each containing one letter, with the name on their sheet and to stack them one on the other with the resulting tower having to stand for three seconds. Needless to say, this was not an easy task and resulted in a lot of laughter from all who were watching especially if the tower lasted two seconds before collapsing.

Finally, three members emerged each to play in the Survivor Finals, Joanna, Barb and Tom with Joanna ending as the eventual winner. The final game consisted of tossing three rubber Koi into a “pond” from a distance of about ten feet with various hazards along the way.

The entire game from start to finish was a lot of fun and the members all joined in very enthusiastically to come up with the winner. Thinking about it as I worked on this blog, there was an awful lot of work and preparation that went in to physically making the different parts of the game not once but three times. I can only assume that B.J. was the responsible party and I personally want to thank and recognize the effort that she put into it.

Thank you B.J.

With the Koi safely in their ponds and the winner declared, it was time for the last two actions of the evening. The first would be the prize drawing which every member present’s name would be drawn out of the hat and they could come up and select any one of the myriad of prizes, that is unless you were on the tail end and then the pickins got a little slim.

The final act of the evening was the drawing for the Pond-o-Vac  that Gail O’Connor had given to the Society. With much fanfare and drum roles from the members in the audience, Linda drew the name out of the hat and came up with John O’Sullivan.  John respectfully “declined the nomination” a reference to his role as the APS Parliamentarian and asked that it be drawn again stating that his pond was so small, he could not do it justice. The next name out of the hat belonged to Glen Hubenthal who does have a large pond. Glen gratefully accepted as most of us would have done. Thank you Gail for your wonderful gift to the Pond Society that we were able to pass along to a very grateful (and lucky) member.

This brought the proceedings to a close and also ended the year as far as the Austin Pond Society meetings go as we don’t hold one in December due to our meeting date only a week before Christmas. Next up for APS will be the first meeting in 2014 due to be held at Zilker Gardens Clubhouse on January 19, 2014 starting at 6:30. All are welcome whether  you have a pond or not.

More to follow on that.

Pond Society Meeting – January, 2013

APS Logo

APS Logo


The Pond Society held its first meeting of the New Year this past Monday, January 21 at the usual meeting place of the clubhouse at Zilker Gardens. Below are the new officers and a link to their e-mails.

2013 Board Elected
Linda Tinsley President
Jeannie Ferrier Programs
Special Events
Karl Tinsley Pond Tour Chair
Julienne Smith Secretary
Rollie Sidla Treasurer
Darren Bayhi Membership
BJ Jenkins Publicity
Mary Word Editor
Glen Hubenthal Historian
Steve Blackson AAGC Representative
John O’Sullivan Parliamentarian
Sonja O’Sullivan Hospitality
Steve Manfrini Librarian

As with every meeting I have ever attended, we started the evening off with a very substantial meal of spaghetti with a meat sauce with rolls and salad. To finish off there were these tiny little round cakes. I don’t know what they were called or what was in them but they were absolutely delicious and it took all of my will power to not eat more than two. As a spaghetti lover, this particular meal was very enjoyable to me.

The meeting was called to order by the new President, Linda Tinsley and after a brief introduction handed it off to Jeannie Ferrier who is in charge of Programs. Jeannie quickly got the ball rolling with a brief explanation of the evenings format
which basically consisted of the new Board introducing themselves and then each individual member would follow along and do the same thing.

The video below is of the Board

This next video is of the membership as they each gave a short resume of their ponding experience to date and what they hope to get from the Pond Society in the future.

My apologies for the quality of the video as I was very unprepared and did not have the video camera set up on its stand. Consequently, there are a few moments of wildly flashing pictures of nothing as I made camera adjustments on the fly. To be truthful, I was enjoying the spaghetti dinner so much that time got away from me.

There was more discussion on different topics and then Jeannie collected the cards she had handed out for the Q & A session. As these were general questions, anyone with an answer got their 5 cents worth in. Finally the usual drawing and the meeting adjourned.

Next meeting will be held at 6:30 pm at the Zilker Gardens Clubhouse on February 15. Hope to see you all there and bring a friend.


Pond Society Meeting – March 19, 2012

Lilly. No idea of the name

We had our monthly meeting of the Pond Society last evening which ended up being a very good one. As per usual, we were treated to our welcoming feast of good things which included cheeses, sandwiches and fresh veggies for us to munch on. This time, someone had baked some small cakes which were absolutely delicious.

On my way in, I stopped at my most favorite store next to Home Depot and Lowes, which is Starbucks, and cashed in a free drink card that I had earned by buying 15 lattes on my Starbucks card. It seems that Starbucks is doing everything they can to encourage my habit. On the other hand, I did read somewhere that coffee is good at warding of some types of cancer so in my mind, that makes it OK to drink the stuff. Heck, I don’t even like the taste that much. It seems that my car has a mind of its own and can’t pass a Starbucks without turning in. I usually have the medium Grande size but because the last one was free, I had the giant Vente size AND splurged on a hazelnut latte. It went down very well with the free food and a drink that size lasts a long time. It also encouraged many trips to the Men’s Room.

Following this 15 minutes of feeding our faces and chatting to the people around us, Bill Brister called the meeting to order. He brought up several items of business which included looking for volunteers for a couple of pond cleaning projects. There was a sign sheet going around and several people signed up to help.

B.J. got up and made another impassioned plea for volunteers to help man the tables and a couple of other things. She announced that the pond count was up to 19 with a few more to confirm so it looks like we will have a tour. Not that there was too much doubt and I know that B.J. can be very persuasive.

The speaker that had originally been scheduled was from LCRA and was going to talk to us about water and lack of it. He had to pull out at the last-minute and a replacement speaker was found to take his place. The gentleman in question is an Environmental Scientist, Andrew Clammann, working for The City‘s Watershed Protection Department.

I don’t think I have ever seen anyone more enthusiastic about his chosen field. He gave us a brief rundown of his background including a stint as a teacher at Bowie High School. In the end though, he said that he wanted to spend more time in his chosen field which is the study of all insects and creatures that inhabit our ponds and wetlands. So, he gave up studying kids for studying insects. Probably made the right decision for at least the insects don’t answer back. On the other hand, they don’t pay much attention either probably no less than the kids do.  Apologies to Andrew if I start to refer to them as bugs. Somehow, like the majority of us, anything that crawls or flies is a bug. There are good bugs and bad bugs but they are still bugs…

He brought with him many samples in little glass phials plus a whole board full of dragon flies. It seemed that either because most of us have at least seen the dragonflies as opposed to many of the other bugs he was talking about, that we spent a lot of time talking about them. He described what seemed like hundreds of them but was probably closer to ten or fifteen.

The members really warmed up to Andrew and his subject and peppered him with many questions. He described the “things” in the glass phials with the leech getting the most attention and then in response to another members question, he raised a very interesting point. He described us as pond enthusiasts as being mostly beneficial in helping to promote this vast array of water type insect life. He had already told us about the natural food chain where the smaller get eaten by the bigger and on up the line and how in order to maintain this natural order, he recommended that we leave a couple of inches of sludge and silt in the bottom of the ponds as it is a natural breeding ground for many of these water bugs. Some stay in the water for up to seven years before they emerge into some sort of flying or crawling insect and this is usually because of the urge to mate.

Needless to say, this really opened the door for those that want pristine clear water to the rest of us that let nature take its course and there followed a brief discussion on this subject. I for one, only clean out the worst of the muck from my ponds and I rely very heavily on having a good filtering system to keep the water clear. I have so many oak trees that it is a hopeless job trying to clean it all out anyway and I can’t do much to keep it clear when the fish are going through their mating ritual as they stir everything up including the female fish.

On the other hand, Andrew did talk against leaving more than a couple of inches as anything below that following the natural order of things, start to rot and turn black and when it does, it has lost all of its usefulness for any insect to live in it. So, the question is still out there. How clean is clean and how clean is too clean.

Andrew spoke for over an hour and I managed to tape most of it on video. As with most of us amateurs, the quality of the sound is not so good but I think most of you will enjoy it. At least, when you get bored, you can turn it off.

Here is a link to Andrews entire presentation. I strongly encourage you to take a look. 

I personally really enjoyed listening to Andrew. He made it very interesting and no one can ever doubt his enthusiasm for his work. Bugs took on a whole new meaning as he explained what many of them do.

Some of the things that we can look forward to in the next couple of months are April’s meeting which will be a member favorite on transplanting, replanting and potting ‘water lilies’ and bog plants.  The May meeting will be our annual plant swap. If you have any plants that you would like to pass on even if you are not interested in getting anything new, please be ready to bring your plants along.