Fall Ramblings

Things are still so green...

Things are still so green…

As I walked around the garden today
a thought occurred to me this way
Texas Fall is very much the same
as Texas Spring in so many ways.
Things are green and everywhere you look
are flowers of many kinds with some
that only flower in the Fall
as other do only in the Spring

The start of Spring is cool and mild
which stays this way for a couple of weeks
but it quickly warms up fast
as temperatures begin to peek
heading towards a hundred degrees
as Summer takes over from the Spring

Fall goes the opposite way
with a slow and general drop
from a hundred degrees to cool at night
as the temperature declines
until a jacket or some other warm clothes
are needed to keep off the chill.

Texas Springs are very short
lasting no more than two or three weeks
and you know when Summer is here
as temperatures are on an upward climb

Texas Fall longer does last
sometimes for a couple of months
enough to fool the plants that are green
until the first frost comes along
and wipes them all out one by one

With a very short Winter
and usually not hard
a frost or two and maybe some snow
that looks pretty until it disappears
and then the process begins
all over as the temperature starts to climb
and Spring is on us just once more.

The first buds start to break out
and plants shoot up from the ground
and some may surprise us in a nice way
as we thought they no longer had life
but left them in just in case
hoping they would grow another day.

Of all of the seasons that Nature provides
Texas Fall is my favorite by far
Things are still green and color abounds
with flowers everywhere and leaves turning brown
and temperatures in a downward climb
to where a jacket at night keeps me warm
but during the day the sun is still hot
enough that shorts and tee shirts are fine.

Snow on the deck...

Very Late Snow on the deck…

Gloom and growing old.

Cottage in the woods

Cottage in the woods

I have been so sad these last few days
I can feel my life slipping away
it’s not that I have a bucket list
of things to do before I’m missed.

No, it’s more like regrets of things in the past
and how if I could I would change the last
fifty years of my life from what it has been
leaving in the parts I’m satisfied with
but changing those that are a myth
and give me the most grief and worry therewith

I even took a drive today
to visit one of the places I’d say
gave me the most pleasure to have built
out in the woods on five acres of land
with a little cottage, a barn and a shed or two
and why we moved, I haven’t a clue
except my wife was not satisfied
and me like a fool could not decide
between living out in the countryside
or moving closer to town a new place to reside
but like many a man I allowed myself
to be talked into moving against my will
and to keep the peace although it gave me no thrill.

Cottage in the woods

Cottage in the woods with steps

I resent the recent turn of events
of growing old alone and in a place
when I would rather wear a different face
and time, especially time in its place
not so old and maybe still with a wife
although they tend to give me strife

Oh yes, I remember now
that life was not rosy all of the time
sometimes in order to keep the peace
and if a compromise to be reached
it was easier to let her have the last word
in order not to appear absurd
for we all know that those fights can’t be won
and are usually over before they’ve begun.

And as for the past fifty years
I’ve had a lot of good times it appears
met a lot of nice people and without any fears
had lots of pets over whom I’ve shed tears.

As for that place in the woods on five acres of land
a tornado passed through and blew it away
after I had sold it to people new
and why I should grieve I haven’t a clue
I guess it’s just a passing fad
and it makes me so bloody mad
that life is different in its own way
and nothing can ever stay the same
for this we know without any doubt
that time marches on and gives us a clout
as it goes on its endless rout
forward ever forward and knows no end.

Those of us made of flesh and blood
grow old with time which is understood
and eventually as with all life
wither and die just as we should.

Will we be missed, maybe for a while
for none of us have enough style
to make a mark that can’t be replaced
as we are part of the human race.

Old Graveyard

Old Graveyard


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 president@austinpondsociety.org
Jeannie Ferrier Programs programs@austinpondsociety.org
Special Events specialevents@austinpondsociety.org
Karl Tinsley Pond Tour Chair pondtour@austinpondsociety.org
Webmaster webmaster@austinpondsociety.org
Julienne Smith Secretary secretary@austinpondsociety.org
Rollie Sidla Treasurer treasurer@austinpondsociety.org
Darren Bayhi Membership membership@austinpondsociety.org
BJ Jenkins Publicity publicity@austinpondsociety.org
Mary Word Editor editor@austinpondsociety.org
Glen Hubenthal Historian historian@austinpondsociety.org
Photographer photographer@austinpondsociety.org
Steve Blackson AAGC Representative aagcrep@austinpondsociety.org
John O’Sullivan Parliamentarian parliamentarian@austinpondsociety.org
Sonja O’Sullivan Hospitality hospitality@austinpondsociety.org
Steve Manfrini Librarian librarian@austinpondsociety.org

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.


On the side of the road.

Flower meadow in Llano, Texas

Flower meadow in Llano, Texas (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)

How many of you when you’re driving by
and out the corner of your eye
take note of the flowers on the side of the road
or do you not see the beauty they behold.

We are usually in such a hurry
that we don’t have time to look
and yet there is much beauty there
as good as in any book.

Nature has a way, of putting on display
things we do not see because we do not look
and yet, right in front of our very eyes
not under any disguise are flowers aplenty
on the side of the road.

In all colors, shapes and sizes
they put on a wonderful display
they flower and bloom year after year
when Nature leads the way.

The next time you take a trip
look around as you travel along
and you will see on the side of the road
much beauty for all to behold.

The only time that you cannot view
as the flowers are dormant as they renew
during the winter months its true
but come February here, for it is Spring
the plants will start to do their thing
and before your very eyes will grow
and in a very, very short time
new flowers will show for all to see.



Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

I went a day without a say
and found I couldn’t stand it
So to make a change and have things my way
I complained to the neighbor
I have no idea what complaint I had
but it must not have been too bad as
she in turn gave me hell
for being so miserable
part of what she said to me was
“Get over it you fool”.

No one has called me a fool in a while
I couldn’t help but break into a smile
and then we both began to laugh
as her comment hit home, I must be daft
to think that an argument I could win
with someone of the opposite sex
after three marriages I would learn
and pick my fights with a better bet.

Next time I want to blow of steam
you can be sure that I have learned
and my argument will be at the dogs
who obviously will not understand
and will still love me no matter what
stupid things I care to say
just as long as I don’t raise my voice
everything will work out OK.

Of course I am making this up
as my neighbor I have not seen
but the line popped into my head
and seemed like a good piece to write
notice that the picture above
is of a very peaceful scene
which is how I feel most of the time
except when my favorite football team
does something stupid and loses a game
and that is when I really complain…


Five Dogs, Two cats and Me

Danny, Richie and BeBe

Danny, Richie and BeBe

A friend of mine called me to say
they have a dog to give away
a stray that someone had found
that needed a home and not the pound
a place where it could happy be
with a loving family
and maybe with other dogs too
to keep her company and to play and chew
on one another as they do romp
and run and jump as all dogs do
when a loving home they answer to

Abigail looking for attention

Abigail looking for attention

Four other dogs all live with me
three are of the sausage kind.
Wiener dogs they have been called
but dachshunds is their proper name.
Abigail who likes to sleep
a couch potato who likes to eat
more than a little heavy is she
and we have been working most diligently
to lower her weight and change her shape
from the pork sausage she is today
to a breakfast link if we have our way.

BeBe looking Sleepy

BeBe looking Sleepy

BeBe is the next in size
in theory a miniature is her classified role
but like Abby she has this fault
and likes to get to her food bowl
and over the years we have done our best
to cut down the food that she partakes
and her weight goes up and down
depending on her activity role.

She is the oldest of the three
and is probably twelve or so
and in good health she is today
although it has not always been this way
as her gall bladder she had removed
as a sick little girl she was for a while
until it was gone and then she did a smile.

Richie keeping a lookout

Richie keeping a lookout

Richie is the last of the three
he too did come to me
as a dog needing a home
but only because his owners could not
keep him although they wanted to
Richie is classified as mid-sized
and  a skinny thing he was back then
Alas, he is going the way of the rest
although we have got to him in time
He is very active and likes to hunt
rats and squirrels are his favorite thing
In his mind he doesn’t know why
they can climb the trees on high
so he has tried to do the same
and on a sloping tree got as high
as twelve feet up in the sky
until he realized what he had done
and back on the ground he did quickly return.

The biggest thing that drives him nuts
are the buzzards swooping and wheeling on high
he runs from one end of the garden and then
he runs right on back again
He is a friendly little guy
with lots of tail wags and kisses too
and cuddles and sitting on laps is his thing
especially when in the evening
we sit on the couch and watch TV
with Richie on one side all cuddled up tight
and BeBe the other who with all her might
is pushing so hard to cuddle the most
as though to say,”I was here first”.
BeBe has the last word at night
as Richie sleeps by himself on the couch
BeBe makes the most of him not around
and cuddles up tight her butt pushed into
any part of me that she has found
I believe that it is a twofold thing
one is affection which she likes to show
the other is the warmth that she gains
from touching my body with her little butt.
It’s great in the winter when I can use
the heat from her to keep me warm
it’s really hard in the summer even with A/C
as her little body gets too hot for me.

Danny looking comfortable

Danny looking comfortable

The last of the four is a big ole mutt
who was born to his Mom on the side of the road.
I  fed Mom until friends we became
and one day, she hopped into my van
and with her puppies home we did go.
we found homes for two of the four
which left, Momma, Danny and Fred at my door
Danny whose real name is Danielle
is all that are left of that family
as the others passed on to Doggy heaven and reside
in the place where all good dogs go.

Danny is the sweetest of dogs
she is kind and never bad-tempered although
the  other three bug her all of the time
but in a friendly way and so
she puts up with it until it drives her nuts
and then she trots off to someplace new
and usually this is enough to get them
to leave her alone for a minute or two,

I forgot to mention that she is a mix
part looks like Setter part looks like Chow
and it’s probably the Setter that has the hair
and boy, plenty of that she has got and how
and even though she is regularly combed
all over the house the stuff can be found.

Ginny the new girl

Ginny the new girl

The little dog who needs a home
is yet another of the dachshund kind
this one a miniature true to form
and skinny too who really needs
building up just a little to make her fine
She is so happy that when she wags
her tail her whole body contorts
and I swear her butt almost touches her nose
she is so agile and moves so well
quick is the word as everything she does
is at double-quick time as though she knows
just how cute she is and she doesn’t need to try
to inveigle herself with me and the guys.

She has fitted in so well
the life of the party she has become
Richie who I was worried about
has taken to her enough that they
do get along  and they do play
although she a little wary still
as he is bigger, stronger and tougher too
she wants to be sure that he knows
to just what limits he can go

Oh yes, I forgot to say
that Ginny is the name that she
was given by my friends who
asked me if I was ready to
adapt another one of a kind
to share my life with the other dogs  who
were there first although what can be said
in our house  all are the same
and pecking order is what they figure out
to me, they all deserve a shout
as being equal in my book
is the way that we look
at each other for we know
there are no favorites here.

Brown Cat

Brown Cat

By the way, I forgot to say
that two cats also live with our tribe
to add their personalities and such
and get along they always do
except when out for groceries and things
and then the cats in my office do go
to make sure they are here when I come back
and every piece of them is intact.
As Ellie her tail she lost one day
when Richie decided he wanted to play
and too rough he got and when I got home
off to the vets her tail to remove.

That was several years ago
and I think the dogs have probably learned
but even so I’d rather not try
to leave them alone with the dogs
just in case
Richie might forget his place
and decide that this tail, the only one left
is really a tempting item of play

Ellie in her favorite place

Ellie in her favorite place

A happy house we have become
for animals are the best company bar none
nothing they ask is out of reach
and mostly they just want attention and food
and in return what do I get
undying love no strings attached
wagging tails and attention too
much more than I ever got from my wives
and I have to say, much less hassle it’s true.

Just a word so everyone knows
five dogs and two cats are the limit for me
I do not want more company
female or animal both are the same
as content we are in our own little way
five dogs, two cats and me.


Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

WildFlower Center 3

WildFlower Center  (Photo credit: StuSeeger)

I have spent many happy hours at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center  walking around and this time I had a goal in mind in writing a blog piece. I wanted to take lots of pictures and made my way down there only I forgot that they are closed on Mondays.  I was lucky enough to run into someone with some authority who I happened to know through coaching his younger daughter at soccer a few years ago. We chatted and he told me to go ahead and take as many  pictures as I wanted. Not needing a second invitation, I took out my Nikon 5100 putting my extra lenses in my photography vest and we were off. It was great having the place to myself.

It is truly a wonderful place to walk around and the flowers are out in abundance. It is hard to believe that ALL of the flowers are native plants there are so many of them. To think that Lady Bird Johnson had the vision and foresight to see Texas Native flowers and plants as something different from weeds and what is even more incredulous is that she got a lot of other people believing in her vision including this writer. My own garden has nothing but Texas Natives growing in it. I can remember a few years back when I viewed most Texas Natives as “weeds” not appreciating the beauty that every plant has.

I began my walk at the entrance where there is a wildlife pond display and was lucky enough to take a picture of a submerged turtle. The water is so clear that it shows up very well. Walking through the courtyard and past the Visitors Center I made my way up the tower and took pictures of the awe-inspiring view from above. From  there, I made my way to the Display Gardens which consist of 23 laid out gardens each one about 15 feet by 25 feet. The gardens all have different themes and the plants are a reflection of those themes. Things like Butterfly Garden, or a pond with wildlife, succulents and grasses and many more. I took a lot of pictures of many of the name signs and I made this area the focal point of my trip. The straight lines of the gardens and the plant covered walkways made for very good scenes different from the plants and trees and their irregular shapes. There is so much to see and the Wildflower people have been very creative even going so far as to set up example type layouts complete with plants and all of the trimming for the visitors to carry the ideas back to there homes and hopefully at least try. I found one sign very amusing where there was a circular lawn of texas native grass and the sign said, “Please walk on the grass”…

There are several trails that lead away from the developed area of the center and then curve back to it so that you don’t have to cover the same ground twice. They are all signposted with little alcoves with seating to rest and drinking fountains for the thirsty. I took the John Barr Trail which true to form, looped around and eventually ended back where I started. I took many pictures along the way of the beautiful and rugged countryside covered as it was with many yellow flowers of several different varieties, native grasses, cactus and typical scrubby trees. Occasionally, there are Oak trees mixed in with the Cedar and natural vegetation. All of this has adapted to the very dry and hot conditions that make the Texas summers. I also walked the Restoration and Research Trail which is the newest of the trails. This one will specialize in the native trees of Texas and there are many new trees of many different (Texas) varieties planted along the way. All of the trails have signboards depicting different aspects of the vegetation and make comparisons to todays life.

The land is harsh and uninviting and you have to wonder what the early settlers thought when they first laid eyes on it. In many places, the rock is on the surface and in others maybe a foot or two below making it difficult for anything except natural plants and grasses to grow. Yet, it has its own form of beauty and for those of us who have been here for a while, is appreciated because of it.

I have tried to lay out the slides somewhat in the order of the words written above. Basically, there are the pictures from the Tower, the walk around the Display gardens and finally the walk on the two trails that I covered. For those that are interested in growing Texas native plants, the Center holds a plant sale twice a year the next being on October 13/14. I encourage you to try these plants some of which are pretty dramatic, other just plain beautiful and some are just masses of green foliage. They all have a place in your garden.

I cannot do justice to such a wonderful place in the few words that I have written. If you live in or close to Austin, it has to be a must visit place.

Enjoy the slide show.

Below is a map of the Center. A better one can be viewed on the Wildflower website at  http://www.wildflower.org/ plus a lot more information about this wonderful place.

Wildflower Center Map

Wildflower Center Map