Saturday, June 30, 2001

It's becoming easier to see why some people are prejudiced against drivers of Volvos. Today somebody posting a garage-sale sign on the utility pole abutting part of our yard trampled all over the flowers planted nearby. At least she didn't give the usual smart-alec reply: "I don't see any flowers." Yeah; you creep: now that you and your unleashed dog have trampled them all they never will be flowers. Ever see a plant? Ever see a bud? Are you blind?

Thursday, June 28, 2001

This hot weather is made for Packer's Pine Tar soap. Sometimes it's hard to find, but it's the only thing (since 1869, evidently) that allows those with sensitive skin who live without air-conditioning to endure the summer in dermatological peace.

Wednesday, June 27, 2001

There's been no luck in finding books to give as gifts for summer reading. From the library came Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane, a best-seller in which it was evident fairly soon exactly what had happened and what would happen. Not only that, it was one of those chest-thumping, "see, I'm a guy, and I sure understand tough neighborhoods and tough people." Sure. Next, again from the library, was Ella in Bloom, for the ladies, by Shelby Hearon. This was a Knopf production and physically a fine book: pages with deckle edges, for example. But the copy-editing was disappointingly bad, and the mere invocation of Pflugerville and Austin is not sufficient to conjure up the atmosphere intended to be invoked. The search continues.

Tuesday, June 26, 2001

It was a surprise to learn that I once smelled like lettuce. We were having a discussion about how working in food-related establishments leads to taking the aura of what is served. Kindly, all those years ago I was spared the knowledge. It was when I was filling in as garde-manger at a not very tony spot in a well-known mountainous honeymoon destination. I was recalling how some kids always smelled like onions or frying meat when I was clued in about myself. I suppose I should be grateful that I didn't smell like pancakes.

Monday, June 25, 2001

Flying is no fun, but at least stay-on-the-grounds can follow the flight's progress. With an iffy fridge, it's best to spend all weekend cooking, on the perhaps questionable assumption that an over-20-year-old cooling appliance does better with the cooked than the raw. Going to the dentist by taxicab really helps as a distraction. The driver is from Seguin and says that there's a steel operation and a textile plant of some kind there, both news to me. Texas Lutheran was the only association previously.

Saturday, June 23, 2001

Wake-up time was too late to catch the moonflower before it closed up, and it's been catch-up time all day long. Pecos cantaloupes at the H-E-B were being bought up just as fast as they were unpacked.

Friday, June 22, 2001

So this neighborhood is turning into the kind of place where nimble little 50K roadsters are parked out front. Please; I'm puking.

Thursday, June 21, 2001

Butterfly Murders did not please, at least not enough to go to the end. Coincidentally, an old New York Review of Books had an article about Nabokov and his study of butterflies; and our yard has received many visits this week from the zebra longwing. Finally the green beans from the South Congress farmers' market have been prepared for cooking; what a treat!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Fiesta Musical on KO-OP Radio is airing an homenaje to Roy Montelongo, leyenda of la musica tejana. The Statesman printed nothing about his career; perhaps the Chronicle will. Last night Jackie Chan in "Who Am I" provided the laughs. The sequence in Rotterdam featuring stepping on toes and sabots is a classic. Evidently this did not receive theatrical exhibition in this country according to the International Movie Database, but was shown on cable TV. The Luddites rejoice to read that, if massive power blackouts come to California this summer, gym treadmills will come to a standstill, among other less salubrious phenomena. Sammy and Bob on KVET this morning were making fun of Barbra Streisand's exhortation to stop using clothesdryers. Clear Channel, KVET's owner, has evidently reached an agreement that will permit return to audio streaming, with internet-targeted commercials replacing local ads.

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

A tree lizard guards our passion vine from the caterpillars of the gulf fritillary butterfly, but not as well as we wish he would. There's been a newsy e-mail from a former boss in the music biz. How great to know that people you haven't seen in ages and ages are out there enjoying themselves. Last night it was Bluebeard's Eighth Wife. They don't do black and white the way they used to. Courtesy of Vulcan, it was from a beautiful print. Claudette's Travis Banton creations were mostly organdie--very period glamor circa late 'thirties. Today brings our first giant blue with white trim Burpee Flying Saucer morning glory; it seems as big as a pizza.

Monday, June 18, 2001

Too old to shop: it can happen to you and sooner than you think. All we wanted was a little 13-inch combo TV and VCR. We don't devote much space to our viewing pleasure. We don't have cable. Our first color TV and our first remote control, bought six years ago, which had an integral VCR, has wonderful reception, but the VCR won't clean up and spool any more. Since we're without air-conditioning and since we're addicted to the current Univision telenovela, "Abrazame muy fuerte," and it's getting too hot to go upstairs at its broadcast time, we thought we'd break down and go new. Several were on sale according to store inserts in the Statesman. Could we buy one? Well, it wasn't as though anybody wanted to help us do so. Out of stock, out of stock, needs add-on antenna, which we don't have, you opened that box (we didn't), so you have to take it by the service desk, and on and on and on. It was at Circuit City, of all places, that an informed staff person was to be found, someone who knew the features of the equipment and was ready to impart them. In no time we had made a choice, stopped off at trusty Vulcan Video, and picked out a Tony Leung Hong Kong throwaway, Tokyo Raiders, and also Wonder Boys. It'll be many a moon before we darken the doors of anything fancier than H-E-B.

Saturday, June 16, 2001

This morning it was chainsaws and woodchippers, but I'll say no more. Luckily, that was all far enough away so that I could stand to use my trusty non-power mower, new in 1977. So it was that I was the lucky recipient of news imparted by our neighborhood town-crier equivalent. So-and-so's house is being repainted with purple trim. Such-and-such a house has new occupants. Then one of the partners in a real-estate brokerage with a big piece of the neighborhood real-estate pie parked in front of the house. He was there to add a "swimming pool" sign to the property across the street, which has languished on the market for many months now. He said that the price is down to a more realistic number now, and he is the new broker on the scene. The prior, unsuccessful broker put up a pool sign as well; his was altered by midnight vandals to readl "poo." My latest accomplishment is to completely destroy the HTML table code for a web page that I publish for a certain organization. That was the error-laden part of the day; I'll start afresh on it tomorrow or the day after, when I get a chance. I did not open the executable file accompanying e-mail from a former boss, luckily; it turned out to be contain a virus sent to everyone in his address book.

Friday, June 15, 2001

It's time to stop fussing with templates and begin this little experiment. My best purchase lately was a set of Uvex safety ear muffs, with an OSHA noise-reduction rating of 25 decibels. I begin to think that perhaps a greater reduction factor might have been better. Why do I need them at all? Already-deafened hirelings of the lawn-obsessed stalk about wielding infernal roaring leaf-blowers, chasing one leaf or blade of grass at a time for hours at a time. The screaming overtones of a gasoline-powered device are more bearable only than those produced by an blower powered by an electric cord, which generates the kind of whine that could pierce bullet-proof armor by sound alone. The gas-powered blowers leave a blue cloud and a petroleum stench that can be seen and heard a block away. Closing windows dampens the noise but slightly---hence the ear muffs. Those who hire these hit-and-run landscape artists, of course, take care to be elsewhere while the noise-bombing goes on. These are the same people who have their lawns mown, whacked, and blown once a week because they have automatic sprinkler systems and ignore both voluntary and mandatory watering restrictions, so their grass grows about three times faster and taller than that of their more compliant neighbors. Stroll about the neighborhood in the middle of the night anytime during the summer, and those with sprinkler systems have them running at settings from "secret soak" to "Old Faithful." Old Faithful is reserved to put on a show for legal days. The gardens and lawns of other people languish and grow brown while theirs thrive. Who do they think they're fooling?

Thursday, June 14, 2001

This requires thought.