Tuesday, March 08, 2016

All together now in the springtime

Anemone coronaria St. Brigid has gone to town this year, showy and prolific and long-blooming. Visitors marvel. The Bradford pear has come into bloom soon enough to join the redbud tree next to it in a great floral show. The flowers are beginning to drop only now, as the leaves bud out. Many different varieties of Lilac Wonder species tulip are in bloom, some each on a single stalk and others appearing on branching multi-bloom stems. These vary a lot in the size of the flower and in the length of the stem. There are now beginning to be clusiana species tulips, more than there are in some years. A larger-flowered variety of leucojum is now blooming. Pink wood hyacinths are blossoming on the large oak motte, as are grape hyacinths and more and more ipheions. There are still Dutch hyacinths blooming in several colors. White allium or flowering garlic is extremely attractive to the honeybees right now. There is one bloom on one hyacinth bean. Wando peas are prolific at the moment, providing the kind of treat that money can't buy. Although some are spent, there continue to be many varieties of narcissi and daffodils, large and small. Lantanas that stayed green all winter long are in profuse bloom and will soon produce the berries that are a dietary staple for so many creatures. The first of the Dutch irises to bloom are the purple ones and there are many of them, with many bloom stalks. Some fennel plants have survived the cold weather in a verdant state. They are flowering right now. Other fennel plants are appearing as new volunteers. As always, the live oaks, now beginning to drop their leaves, do so as the individuals that they are, each at a different time. Soon there will be blossoms revealed and dustings of fallen pollen. Many are the admiral and giant swallowtail butterflies when the airs are gentle. The red-shouldered hawks never fail to inspire awe when they sail above, as they so often do, sometimes at quite a low height. They seem to be nesting near the river. We usually hear them first, before they come in view.

Furniture with many an alias

This common article of furniture in the category of case goods was first known to me as a chest of drawers, but others call it a bureau or a dresser.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Spring's moving right along

Anemones have been in bloom for almost a month. This week has brought more hyacinths and more narcissi, along with redbud blossoms, leucojums, single jonquils, and more. Ice Follies daffodils are beautiful, but not prolific this year. For the first time in ages, they were not yet open on Valentine's Day and so the flowers have not been stolen. This morning we could see buds on the Japanese irises, the very first ipheion flower, and the first visible bud among the Lilac Wonder species tulips. A solid-orange nasturtium appeared on a self-sown nasturtium. Wando peas are blooming. So are some lantanas and a few fennel plants. We've been very entertained by the antics of a squirrel taking advantage of the presence of a pumpkin. Until the squirrel attacked the pumpkin, it was unblemished. Now there's just the entry neatly gnawed in the hull; all the seeds that were once there have gone to nourish the enterprising squirrel.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Cassette tapes: an inventory

The household stock of recorded music is chiefly on vinyl, and there's plenty of it, even though the most valuable LPs were sold long ago. CDs are in moderate supply. Seeing a couple of pieces about cassette tapes recently prompted a listen to what's on hand in that format.
  • La Leyenda; Vicente Fermandez; MusiTex, San Antonio; 1985: contains old favorites Volver and El Rey
  • Conjunto volume 3, Texas-Mexican Border Music; Rounder; 1990; selections by many, including Valerio Longoria, Santiago Jimenez, Los Dos Gilbertos, Tony de la Rosa, Steve Jordan, Roberto Pulido, and others
  • Conjunto volume 5, Texas-Mexican Border Music; Polkas de Oro; Rounder; 1994; selections by many, including Ruben Naranjo y los Gamblers, David Lee Garza, Los Hermanos Farias, Ruben Vela, and others
  • Conjunto volume 6, Texas-Mexican Border Music; Contrabando; Rounder 1994; selections by many, including Ruben Ramos and the Texas Revolution, Los Pavoreales, Flaco Jimenez, and others; a cut-out; 
  • Conjunto Classics; Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos y Los Dos Gilbertos; Rounder 1991
  • El Gato Negro; Santiago Jimenez, Jr.; Rounder 1990; includes La Piedrera, Viva Seguin, and El Gato Negro
  • Arrancanme El Corazon; Ramon Ayala y Sus Bravos del Norte; Freddy Records 1996
  • 20 Exitos Gigantes; Ramon Ayala y Sus Bravos del Norte; ; Freddy Records 1998; includes Tragos Amargos, El Disgusto, Un Rinconcito En El Cielo
  • Ramon Ayala Interpreta Fuerza Nortena; Big Star, Rangel Record Distributors, San Antonio; 1990; includes Puno de Tierra, Vestida de Color de Rosa, Damelo
  • Musica Sin Fronteras; La Tropa F; EMI Latin 1997 ; includes Sin Aviso, Luna, Soledad, Corazon Vacio
  • Un Recuerdo Especial: Homenaje a Cornelio Reyna; Michael Salgado; Discos Joey 1997; includes Ya No Llores, El Disgusto, and Me Caiste Del Cielo
  • Exitos de Los Tigres Del Norte; Roy Sales, Brownwood, 1981
  • Before the Next Teardrop Falls; Freddy Fender; MCA 1985; includes Wasted Days and Wasted Nights; El Rancho Grande; lots of soul and some great country arrangements a cut-out
  • Epoca de Oro; Trio Los Panchos; Discos CBS International 1981
  • Los Panchos; Discos CBS International 1986; includes Ya Me Voy
  • Los Panchos Hoy; Trio Los Panchos; Sony Discos, Miami 1991
  • El Coco Rayado Power Mix y Mucho Mas; Ruben Vela; Hacienda 1996; many great polkas, a huapango, and versions of El Coco Rayado
  • Llevame Contigo; Intocable; EMI Latino 1996; includes No Te Vayas, Y Todo Para Que
  • La Pistola y El Corazon; Los Lobos; Warner; a cut-out
  • Dulzura; Jennifer y Los Jetz; EMI Latin; Ven a Mi; a gift
  • Corazon de Piedra; Santiago Jimenez, Jr.; Watermelon Records (Austin); many classics
  • Selena Live; Capitol/EMI; includes Como La Flor, Baile Esta Cumbia, and a duet with Emilio; this was a gift
  • Canciones de mi Padre; Linda Ronstadt; Elektra/Asylum; Por Un Amor, Los Laureles, Hay Unoos Ojos, Tu Solo Tu, Dos Arbolitos, La Barca de Guaymas, El Sol Que Tu Eres, and more classics; a cut-out
  • The Essential Gene Autry, 1933-1946; Sony 1992; does not include In My Adobe Hacienda or Dust Pan Blues, but does include It Makes No Difference Now, The Call of the Canyon, Mexicali Rose, Amapola, and many more
  • Greatest Hits; Bobby (Blue) Bland; Fairway; Cry, Cry, Cry plus all the greatest hits; a cut-out
  • Portrait of the Blues; Bobby "Blue" Bland; Malaco; includes A Hurtin' Love; a cut-out
  • Blues from the Montreux Jazz Festival; Bobby Bland, Johnnie Taylor, Denise LaSalle, and Mosley & Johnson; Malaco; includes Stormy Monday, that's the Way Love Is, Further On Up the Road, Pity the Fool, Who's Making Love, Cheaper To Keep Her, and more
  • His Greatest Sides; Little Milton; Chess (MCA) 1984; inclues Grits Ain't Groceries, If Walls Could Talk, and more; a cut-out
  • 20 All Time Greatest Hits; James Brown; I Got You (I Feel Good); It's a Man's Man's Man's World; Night Train; Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud), Please, Please, Please, and more; a cut-out
  • King & Queen; Otis Redding and Carla Thomas; Atlantic (originally issued 1967; Stax/Volt); every track is great; a cut-out
  • Best of Delbert McClinton; Curb; includes Shotgun Rider, I Wanna Thank You; Givin' It Up for Your Love
  • Satch Plays Fats; Louis Armstrong and His All-Stars; Columbia 1986; Keepin' Out of Mischief Now, All That Meat and No Potatoes, Ain't Misbehaving; a cut-out
  • Begin the Beguine; Various British performers, from the 'thirties by the sound of it; Point Productions 1992; plenty of Cole Porter; a cut-out
  • Guit With It; Junior Brown; includes favorites Highway Patrol and My Wife Thinks You're Dead; a gift
  • Great Artists at the Met: Placido Domingo; a free premium for ordering librettos
  • Romantic Zarzuelas of Spain; Jose Carreras (with Teresa Berganza on some selections); Tradition; wonderful operetta music
  • A Galaxy of Country Stars; John Anderson, Clint Black, Radney Foster, Lee Roy Parnell, Lorrie Morgan, Martina McBride; BMG; handed out free at some street event in downtown Austin
  • Haydn; Symphony No. 100 in G "Military (Bamberg Symphony) and Symphony No 103 in E-flat "Drum Roll" (Pro Musica Symphony, Stuttgart); Allegro; a cut-out
These three dozen or so tapes have been played again and again. The cut-outs came from Cheapo Discs on Lamar. Other cassette tapes came from Half Price Books, from Acapulco Video (in the old spray-concrete Schlitz beer-distributor building on the East Side that had a counter selling campechana), from Maldonado Records (also in the East Side), or from the little booth inside La Michoacana when it first opened on Riverside.

Of the performers, the following have been heard live: Placido Domingo, Junior Brown, James Brown and his Famous Flames, Ramon Ayala y Sus Bravos del Norte (on the Capitol grounds), Michael Salgado, La Tropa F, Los Dos Gilbertos, Santiago Jimenez Jr., Flaco Jimenez, Ruben Vela, Ruben Naranjo y Los Gamblers, Ruben Ramos and the Texas Revolution, and Steve (Esteban) Jordan,

I love Discogs, but it's not as useful for Tejano, bolero, ranchero, conjunto, orquesta, and other Latin music as it could be.





Thursday, May 14, 2015

Loquat bonanza draws gray fox activity

This morning at about 6:45 am there was a gray fox in the pleasure grounds, drawn by the giant, juicy fruits of the loquat. Figs are forming; so are squashes, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cucumbers, and passion fruits. We have greatly enjoyed dining on yellow bush beans. There is an On Deck ear of corn, appearing just days after the first tassel. Both orange and yellow Bright Lights cosmos are in bloom; the plans are volunteers. There is one volunteer corn poppy, along with one navy blue volunteer delphinium. Coreopsis continues to put on a show, as does pink evening primrose. There are about to be fennel flowers. Lantana and Turk's cap are now beginning to bloom. Some of the sweet peas are displaying seed pods. Sunflowers wild and cultivated are beginning to flower. Yesterday, the first Rose of Sharon flowers appeared: they are the white ones with a crimson center. We delight in all these days of rain.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Crepuscular visitor

At just about 8:30 pm on Friday, May 1, when it was not quite entirely dark, we were sitting outdoors when the largest gray fox we've seen yet came sauntering into the yard apparently headed either for water or for the loquats near the basins of water set out. The stripe atop the fox's tail was very clearly to be seen, as were black spots on the fox's face. The fox was aware of our presence, but sat down to take a little scratch behind one ear before reversing course and trotting around the end of the fence and down the street where foxes are most often seen.

The day afterward brought the first four o'clock flowers and the first squash and cucumber blossoms.

Bush beans are blooming profusely, as are sweet peas in many varieties. A passion flower or two may be found each day.

This amaryllis is up in the yard and is a handsome sight from the kitchen window. A couple of others, less showy, have returned and bloomed again in the containers in which they bloomed the first time around.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Butterflies, loquats, nigella

Although a frost took some potential loquat fruits, those remaining are very large and juicy. They have been attracting clouds and clouds of red admiral butterflies, which drink directly of the fruit's juice via any breach of the skin. Also seen in the vicinity, although to a lesser extent are many question mark butterflies. Every day we see some gulf fritillary butterflies among the passion vines, and some dark-form giant swallowtail butterflies and a few pipevine swallowtail butterflies. A great surprise arrival among the flowers are white and also blue nigella blossoms. They seem to have grown from seeds in a decade-old promotional free packet of mixed flower seeds. Before the flowers appeared, the plants had gone unremarked, on the theory that they were self-sown fennel seedlings. The flowers were recognized immediately, and the recollection of their name came without effort, although none had ever grown here and none have been observed around town in anybody's yard. Sweet peas are at a peak right now. Pecan flowers are falling. A gray fox was seen one morning at 4:30 am and again a few days ago at about 6 am. Passion flowers have continued to bloom, with from two to nine per day lasting about 24 hours. They attract honeybees and orchard mason bees. French harlequin marigolds are beginning to bloom. Corn poppies volunteered near the street, as did one delphinium, about to bloom. Coreopsis plants, flowering both single and double, loved the winter weather and are spectacular right now. The persisting cool nights are a treat. Who could possibly complain about this spring?

The perfect bowl for breakfast cereal, hot or cold

Why did Bennington Potters discontinue these? This is a Bennington bird bowl in blue in blue; there were also speckled greenish-tan Bennington bird bowls. The perfect size, the perfect depth, the perfect everything. The number on the unglazed bottom is 1808. Some call these porridge bowls, fish bowls, or fish soup bowls.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Passion vine, for the gulf fritillary butterfly

To the left of this passion flower a bud can be seen. These don't flower all that often and, when they do, the blooms are often way up in a tree, and there's no way of seeing that there has been a flower until the spent remains drop to the ground. To see this bloom in all its spectacular glory, click on the image.

The passion vines most often seen here in Austin produce flowers that are blue or purple. These were grown from seen that came from Thompson & Morgan. There is a greenish tinge to the waxy and white-ish flowers. The scene is sharp.

Gulf fritillary butterflies leave their eggs among the vines, and, once they're on the move, the larvae consume the leaves. They require passion vines, whether the wild Maypop or some other type. The gulf fritillary butterfly, especially when it's resident in clouds, is just as spectacular as the passion flower.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

As spring progresses

New arrivals this morning were the first rose, the first sweet pea blossoms (three different colors), the first nasturtium, and the third stalk of old-fashioned standard iris in an anise-scented mauve color with a golden tinge. Remaining are Dutch irises (now yellow, cream with a lavender tinge, and yellow-and white, preceded by crimson, blue, and white), several kinds of narcissus (some very tiny yellow ones, some cream and yellow doubles, and others; Thalia is done), anemone blanda and florist's anemone, Lilac Wonder species tulips, and more. There are twenty blossoms on the one-dollar clematis from the supermarket. The first sort of allium is almost done blooming, and the second is beginning. There are still a few ipheion flowers, along with pink, blue, and white wood hyacinths. Dutch hyacinths have finished blooming, as have leucojums. Oak flowers have been pollinated and are falling in clumps; pecan flowers are yet to come. Pictured here are ranunculus flowers. All lettuce has bolted; spinach is beginning to bolt.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wonders of the season

September 9 brought the first oxblood or schoolhouse lilies (rhodophiala bifida); two days later, on September 11, the pink version of these beautiful flowers appeared. White rain lilies have been everywhere, and during the past two week we have seen seven of the beautiful small pink rain lilies in the side yard, in addition to one saffron golden rain lily nearby, and one butter-yellow rain lily behind the house. There are now more spider lilies (lycoris radiata), this time following the property line, in addition to one making an appearance by itself in Mack's flower bed and the remaining flowers on the oak motte. The display of red schoolhouse lilies is nearing an end. Yesterday, there was a yellow giant swallowtail butterfly in the yard, the first this summer. We've seen many of the dark version with the golden trim, but this is the first yellow one, and in perfect condition. One monarch butterfly was seen yesterday. There have been two more moonflowers every night recently. Fennel has made seeds just once this entire season, but it appears to be starting to put forth greenery again from the roots. We still see at least one hummingbird every day. The angle of the sun changes daily. There will be hot weather to come, but the periods of relief are longer and more numerous each day.

Department of bad prose

These examples are all to be found in an article reviewing a book about Scalia written by a prose stylist at Chicago Law:
(a) "Perhaps as importantly,"
(b) "More tellingly still," and
(c) "The fundamental facts of Bush v. Gore are plenty discrediting; there is no need for larding such additional sorts of dismal motivations."
The third item is an example of the English language as it may exist in some distant universe.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Tallest tithonia toppled

The world's tallest and most bloom-laden tithonia plant went down, snapped off by the wind. All figs have been consumed, and the pecans are going fast. The ground is littered with bits of shell. Yesterday brought the very first spider lilies (lycoris radiata); this morning we found three stalks of oxblood lily flowers (rhodophiala bifida). Because they began anew after the harsh winter, lantanas and four o'clocks are beginning to bloom in earnest only now that fall is on its way.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

For the first time this season

There were two zebra longwing butterflies working the lantana flowers. A black-chinned hummingbird lingered among the Turk's caps. Flowers of the hyacinth bean have opened way up the cable, near the tree limb.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

By the light of the silvery moon

There's at least one moonflower blossom each night, but we often see only the spent remnants,  because we end our days too soon and sometimes don't begin them soon enough. The pot hanging from the long cable contains vines that have run all the way up to the oak limb from which the cable is suspended. There are now Grandpa Ott morning  glories every day up and down the cable, and trailing nasturtiums are beginning to bloom as well. Pride of Barbados is beginning to bloom everywhere. The figs grow plumper. We have our  own wild sunflowers, but none so tall and spactacular as those across the street. Sweet peas have all gone to seed. The vines have been pulled up and the seeds will be saved. Swallowtails are everywhere amidst the blooming fennel. Sungold tomatoes are beginning to produce. Each time that there's a cool night, the chiles bloom again and we have even more jalapenos and serranos. One delphinium remains, as do a few bachelor buttons, otherwise gone to seed. We didn't wait to see how much taller than ten feet the amaranth plants would grow. That's the name by which I've always known them, but, under another name,they're the much-hated pigweed. Bright Lights cosmos may be seen everywhere in the pleasure grounds, some yellow and some orange. Although the days grow hotter and hotter, there are still two colors of cyclamen, a couple of viola plants, and about one new clematis flower each day. Not one of these has ever been seen here so late in the season.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bounty

The first ears of On Deck corn have been harvested and consumed. The cobs are small, but the kernels are very tasty. Each day threatens to bring the last sweet pea of the season, but there are still one or two. Every one of the specimens of pride of Barbados has now returned from the roots. Fennel blossoms are everywhere. Coreopsis has a second flush of bloom. The first ruellia ("Mexican petunia") has bloomed. Two pink zephyranthes flowers have made a surprise appearance. For the first time ever there have been fruits on the passion vine, in both green and yellow forms, and many of them. Pecan nuts are in their early formative stage. Neighbors' crape myrtles in bloom and their giant wild sunflowers brighten the view.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

They weren't there yesterday

Today brought the first tithonia flower ("Mexican sunflower") and the first figs. The figs are small and far from ripe, but yesterday there was not one fig visible.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A slithery visitor

We were surprised to find a juvenile Texas rat snake back near the compost pile. We've only ever seen an extremely large adult example of this snake, and only once. They appear when the rats are plentiful, as they must be, in the wake of all the demolition and remodeling everywhere nearby. Ponder Lee, a neighborhood cat, has brought no slain rats to the yard, though. We continue to enjoy lettuce (now quite mature), grape and cherry tomatoes, and yellow wax beans. In addition to the plentiful Grandpa Ott morning glories, we have seen a beautiful giant blue-and-white striated one, a giant cream bloom with blue spokes, and two dainty old-fashioned smaller flowers with purple partial spokes. There are now five colors of nasturtiums. New shoots are appearing at the base of about half of the pride of Barbados. Four o'clocks are coming on strong. We are seeing the first Turk's cap and agastache flowers. Despite all the rain, we've not yet seen any rain lilies. Some of the sweet peas are going to seed. Our wild sunflowers so far are short and very doubled. Fortunately, more neighbors are allowing theirs to rain, so we enjoy very tall ones from the kitchen window. There are tassels on all the cornstalks, but no cornsilk is visible yet.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Keeping up with the spring arrivals

Bulb foliage has died back enough and grass has grown enough that the trusty non-power mower came into use this morning for the first time this year. Only leaves of the Dutch iris have not yet turned brown. A good-sized opossum was seen yesterday morning next door. Our newest arrivals in the flower world are nasturtiums (orange), cultivated rudbeckia, two colors of four o'clock, both yellow and orange Bright Lights cosmos, fennel flowers, and the first lantana flowers. One loquat fruit, not very large, but the first of the season, was discovered on the ground. We continue to harvest yellow wax beans, serrano chiles, and grape tomatoes grown in pots. It is quite a surprise that there are still cyclamen and clematis flowers. The transoms are not yet open for the summer season.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

In the pleasure grounds

Spring progresses. The pecan flowers have all dropped; there wasn't much sassafras scent this year. A great resurgence of Erlicheer brought the last narcissi. Only two of our Saint Joseph's lilies bloomed, but the ones across the street were spectacular. Among the poppies, we've seen showy Hungarian bread poppies, Shirley poppies, Iceland poppies, corn poppies, and true red old-fashioned poppies, although none in great profusion. The Hungarian poppies have been six feet tall, and some of the shorter, shinier types have appeared in picotee forms. All poppies are pollenated in a day, by honeybees or any of the various bumblebees. There are more coreopsis flowers and on more plants than there've ever been; not a one has been picked. Two stalks of delphinium are in bloom, on very stunted plants. Bachelor buttons are nearly done blooming. They have appeared in at least six different colors. We have counted over a dozen varieties of sweet peas. They're now past their peak and beginning to go to seed, but still scent their surroundings and look beautiful up close and from a distance. Pansies and violas are faithfully dead-headed, but they're becoming leggy and won't be with us much longer. Surprisingly, there are still cyclamen and clematis flowers. Some Pride of Barbados is returning from he roots; all lantanas and Turk's caps are springing anew. Giant swallowtail larvae are fattening on the fennel; gulf fritillary larvae are fattening on passion vine. The first hollyhock flowers have appeared on short stalks; they are a very deep, almost coral, rose. A ten-foot sunflower stalk is producing medium-sized golden flowers with dark centers in all the axillary parts of the plant, as well as atop it. As the leaves of daffodils, narcissi, and irises turn brown and loosen their attachment, they go to the compost pile. Some milkweed is volunteering, but not enough. Large toads are to be seen, and anoles and tree lizards share the premises in apparently equal numbers so far. Nasturtiums and hyacinth beans begin to twine, as do morning glories and moonflowers. We have been dining on the last of the English peas, lettuce, yellow crookneck summer squash, grape and cherry tomatoes, and extremely tasty yellow wax beans, all but the peas grown in containers. Serrano chiles are beginning to form. Such grass as there is has revived from dormancy. The last three days have brought delightful rain and a respite of coolness, for which we are very thankful.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Since last week

It was Tuesday a week ago that a tally was last taken. Since then, there's been a large flock of cedar waxwings seen and warblers heard although not seen. There's still one fresh Erlicheer, and anemones continue to appear. Pollinated oak flowers are still dropping; tassels of pecan flowers are fresh on the tree. We see at least one anole every day. The beautiful St. Joseph's lilies are very showy across the street; we haven't seen any in our own pleasure grounds. Anoles, not tree lizards, are prevalent so far this year. A coreopsis is covered in buds and blooms, and only three flowers have been taken by passers-by so far. There are still quite a few clematis flowers. Yellow summer squashes are growing larger every day. There are at least eight different varieties of sweet peas in bloom now. Amaryllises that have bloomed in pots indoors over the years have done well outdoors despite the frequent below-freezing temperatures this winter; several have bud stalks. Red ones will be the first to open. There have been a few true poppies in bloom, and yesterday brought the first Shirley poppy, a giant; there are giant buds on other plants. We continue to enjoy more pink evening primroses than we've seen in years. There are three rootstock roses running wild with beautifully scented flowers, and the bi-colored mystery experimental rose out front has produced one showy flower. The first bachelor buttons of the season were open this morning, blue ones. There continue to be blue pipevine swallowtail butterflies and numerous gulf fritillaries every day. Only the pecans are still leafing out. The views of downtown will soon vanish.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The day before yesterday and about a year ago

This is Tuesday; Sunday brought us our first bearded iris (see a heritage iris from a year ago). It has stood up very well against the extremely high winds and rain. On Sunday before the winds and rain of Monday we also saw an anole and a pipevine swallowtail butterfly, along with some gulf fritillaries. We know that there are larvae of giant swallowtail butterflies here, because they're consuming the leaves of the fennel, which is one of the few types of vegetation that over-wintered well this year. The yard is scented with sweet peas, fennel, and hundreds of flowers from the roses gone wild. The biggest difference between last year and this year is that lantana was touched by the cold severely enough that it has yet to put forth new leaves, except a few from the roots, and there will be no blooms for quite a while; the same is true of Turk's cap.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring in progress

The pollinated flowers are falling from the live oak tree in the front yard. Sweet peas are in bloom in two places, in pots and behind the house. There is one true poppy flower open. The roses that reverted to the root stock variety are covered with flowers. The pansies and violas in pots are getting leggy but continue to do quite well, thanks to faithful deadheading; They are a great attraction to the honeybees. We're seeing almost as many mourning doves as whitewings. The hailstorm seems to have accounted for the loquat fruits that had survived through the last killing frost. It was surprising to see that the show went on for Circo Hermanos Vazquez, according to a Circo Hermanos Vazquez: clown blog kept by one of the star clowns. Lantana is starting all over again from the roots and not releafing on last year's branches. There are no signs yet of revival of Pride of Barbados or of plumbago.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Stormy weather

Monday evening unexpectedly brought hailstones the size of peas, and lots of them. The ground was left white and, in shady spots, the slushy residue did not melt until mid-afternoon yesterday. (Speaking of peas, the pods of Wando were battered and almost shaved.) The accompanying exceptionally high winds brought down trees in some places. Here, the pollen and many new leaves from the live oak trees came violently to the ground. There may be few acorns for the squirrels this fall. Many plants of all types on the ground were left in shreds. The newly blooming pink evening primroses were entirely unaffected; so were the clematis flowers.

Friday, April 04, 2014

The progress of spring

We;re guessing that it's the large number of below-freezing days that brought such an outstanding display of old-fashioned narcissus and of Erlicheer. There were even more species tulips than usual, with Tubergen's Gem in two types, bright and more pastel, contributing to the amazing number of Lilac Wonder flowers. One Texas double daffodil appeared. One of the spectacular displays now is rank on rank of Dutch Iris: purple, blue, crimson, Japanese-style blue with bright golden eyes, white, bright yellow, yellow-and-white, and an astonishing blue-white tinged with lilac. We'd have had more of these if the last killing frost hadn't occurred right when the plants had many buds showing color; these never opened. White and also pink wood hyacinths appeared. Ranunculus flower continue to open; they're not as large as they are some years. There's been one handsome picotee flower, and the rest are mostly of the Sunset variety. Spiderwort plants have very large flowers this year. The roses that have reverted to the root stock are covered with buds, but no flowers have opened yet. Fig leaves were appearing before the last killing frost, but they fell off; now the fig is producing a new set of leaves. One live oak is sporting flowers; the other has yet to drop all of its leaves. There are no flowers yet on the pecan. Ornamental allium has produced a beautiful backdrop for all of the other flowers. It's past peak display, but now the small, second variety of allium is covered with buds. Another casualty of the cold weather was the planting of Wando peas; some survived and are now producing a few pods. We've eaten the peas raw from the first couple of pods--an indescribable treat! The one-dollar clematis plans from the supermarket are producing more flowers than ever before, and they're the size of saucers. A never-before-seen winged creature has been frequenting the premises: It's not very large and has a wooly black body, and black wings that with "polka dots" that appear to be white but, upon closer inspection, have the appearance of mother-of-pearl and perhaps are translucent. We think that we've heard toads calling.

Monday, March 17, 2014

New this weekend in the pleasure grounds

Among species tulips, we've been enjoying Lilac Wonder and Clusiana flowers. A visitor got right down close and informed us that Lilac Wonders have a strong and spicy scent, and it's true; they do. Other new flowers are Thalia, Flower Record, and Sun Disc. Red lettuce has volunteered and so has Tithonia. Pink oxalis is in bloom. Clematis vines are springing up anew. Geranium narcissus blooms should open very soon; they are prolific this year. An early hummingbird was prospecting yesterday among the hyacinths and narcissi.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring and more spring

The pear tree is more spectacular than it has ever been. Today there are two stalks of Thalia in bloom. The grass is beginning to green up. Leaves are dropping like rain from the live oak trees. This image shows a double blue-violet anemone and a stalk of Suzy narcissus.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New arrivals in the pleasure grounds

Today brought us pink wood hyacinths and blue ones, plus the first poet's narcissus. The flowers of the Bradford ornamental pear tree have joined those of the redbuds. Volunteer seedlings include nasturtiums, morning glories, and Bright Lights cosmos.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

At the blue and violet end of the spectrum

Today's new flowers are grape hyacinth, Siberian squill, Dutch iris, and ipheion.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Now on display in the pleasure grounds

Ice Follies appeared late this year, so were not available to be removed during the night for use as someone's Valentine tribute. They began blooming only the day before yesterday. As to creatures, we've seen one anole and about a dozen kinds of butterflies. There is a nesting pair of large pale hawks checking out the various treetops. The light has always been wrong for really seeing them. The Montopolis heirloom narcissus display has been very showy, but it's now past its peak. Newcomers yesterday were flowers on one redbud tree, Erlicheer, ornamental alliums, and leucojums. We're seeing more single jonquils than there've been in years, with no bud blast. Avalanche and Minnow narcissus has been spectacular. Blue Dutch hyacinths are to be seen on the oak motte; they, along with pink hyacinths, are beginning to appear out front. Following are a few of the other flowers now appearing: Martinette, Carlton, Fortune, and Jetstar, plus other varieties of all sorts whose names have gone unrecorded, including the very tiniest of butter-yellow miniature narcissus. There are buds appearing on the Dutch iris. Anemones of red and of purple open with the sun every day and close as the sun departs. The wild anemone blanda is mostly white this year, but there are some blue flowers. Everything looks especially beautiful when the skies are overcast. There's so much more to come!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Monarchs and honeybees and more

A dozen or so monarch butterflies were seen in Mack's yard on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (20, 21, and 22 October). The honeybees continue to be numerous among the Bright Lights cosmos. There are two little plants of some sort of wild aster that came from somewhere to bloom along Mack's fence. Yesterday, between morning and night, sprouts of paperwhite narcissus appeared everywhere. We've closed all the transoms until spring..

Collections of images that don't exist, but should

In years to come, they'd say something about this period in time:
  1. Angela Merkel in the close-up company of other world leaders, particularly Sarkozy in his day; the two-person close-up photographs of congeniality and rapport are very entertaining.
  2. Molded plastic stacking chairs, usually with arms, ubiquitous around the world, so inexpensive, light in weight, and handy: on ferryboats in China, in teashops, in all sorts of expected and unexpected contexts.
  3. Photographs of women holding gigantic handbags, some half as tall as they; these are in fashion magazines in both editorial content and in ads

Friday, October 18, 2013

Because it's now autumn

Despite the rains, it appears that the grass has stopped growing and will be dormant soon. Milkweeds are in full bloom again and so are four o'clocks. Tithonia flowers have made a surprise appearance. Honeybees are especially attracted to the Bright Lights cosmos. As soon as the buds on the loquats open, the bees will move their attentions to them. Every day is a beautiful one.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bookstores: a list

Have any been overlooked? The name of the establishment on Red River where Stubb's is now located doesn't come immediately to mind, and it took a while for the Living Batch to be recalled.
Lavender's
Three Arts
Doubleday
Scribner's
The Living Batch
Scrantom's
Grok Books
Half Price Books
Garner & Smith
Congress Avenue Books
BookWoman
Watson & Co.
Adventures in Time and Space
Europa Books
Bookstop
BookPeople
Domy Books
Resistencia

And here's a little list of  books on the shelves (bookx) as of 2006, not updated since then. Other than some comics, a very few items from used-book sales (e.g., Chambers's Encyclopaedia, 1860, at a quarter a volume, and still smelling fiercely of woodsmoke), childhood books, and gifts along the way, books in this household came from one of the above establishments.

After the rains

Now that the ground is cooler, there are volunteer seedlings everywhere, many of them Bright Lights cosmos, sweet peas, nasturtiums, and hyacinth beans. Anemones have been visible for a couple of days, now, sprung up overnight. Lantanas are covered with flowers and so are hyacinth beans. Fennel plants are sending new shoots. The spider plants that didn't bloom this year (lycoris radiata) are sending up clumps of leaves everywhere, preparing for next year. We still enjoy morning glories, cosmos, and torenia, now renewed. It was a surprise this morning to find tithonia (Mexican sunflower) blooms in a neglected corner of the yard.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Just wondering

Why don't people seem to know the difference between cobblestones and pavers? Anyone who has ever seen a cobblestone could never confuse one with a paver.