Friday, November 30, 2001

I remember Christmas trees lit by candles. The trees were really fresh, usually just dug up, but occasionally sawn down. If they still had their roots they were planted outdoors again when the season was over. Even though I wouldn't put candles on a tree, neither do I like electric lights on them. They just seem so garish by comparison. Having a few candles in the room with the tree or a small light in another room provides enough light to cause shiny ornaments to glow by reflection. It's the scent of the greenery that matters. I'd rather have one bough or even sprig than an artificial tree.

Thursday, November 29, 2001

When the sun at last shone forth, all the ice encasing every limb and leaf melted almost at once, falling in big drops as though in a summer sunshower.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

This is such good weather for sleeping, now that there's so much cold Canadian air in town. For some reason I spent a lot of dreamtime on the four-color theorem and spent a lot of sleep time on it. It must have branched off from a stamp-collection dream and maps of Afghanistan to be seen now everywhere. Even the NYT is publishing a daily map having to do with weather there, which now ranges either from less than zero or less than ten and up to the seventies; just a week or so ago the highs were ranging to the eighties. Some of the villages pictures in photographs look like Zuni pueblo.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Now that the plants are in it's evident that the schefflera has grown more than ever, sweeping the ceiling, as does the Christmas tree, which didn't look that tall when acquired.

Monday, November 26, 2001

Just a bunch of Lonely Guys at Whole Foods--one of us went to Swedish Hill and one went to WF for that recurrently necessary and addictive smoked jalapeno sausage from Pedersen's All Natural. I may never live to plant again: all 280 tulip bulbs are out of the fridge and in the ground, ot were until the squirrels began their tour of inspection.

Saturday, November 24, 2001

We have our tree. The fold-down seats worked and there's more room than ever small-car version. Then it was off across the river for the Chuy's parade. A contingent from Asleep at the Wheel was there, including Roy Benson. It looked to me as though it was Alvin Crow doing the honors on the fiddle. The true highlight was the Hardin-Simmons Cowboy Band. We followed it all the way from 11th Street by the Highway Building down to Sixth Street and then treated ourselves to a fine lunch at Manuel's. How happy a good band makes everyone! Turnout may have been the biggest ever for this event.

Friday, November 23, 2001

All our festive decorations are back in style. The flags from parades make a fine patriotic, and now topical, display, so that people in our house for the first time don't think it's so peculiar to have so many little (for the most part) toy flags. Our red, green, and white traditionally shaped pinata is very holiday-looking and our strings of gold starts fit the season as well. Big Red Sun is selling bulk seeds in little Chinese good-luck envelopes. Now restocked is Korean parched or bamboo salt (bamboo salt = parched salt = jukyom = jook yeom This is made by roasting sea salt in bamboo cylinders plugged with yellow mud. The salt absorbs minerals from the bamboo and mud, which in turn leach the salt of impurities.). We might have acquired a Christmas tree, but nobody was at Rudolph's little lot yet and Albertson's coupon trees weren't yet set up. People are auctioning my Converse stars and bars patriotic high-tops and asking the same price as people are asking for brand-new ones.

Thursday, November 22, 2001

What a great idea to go to Luby's! All of Austin's Finest had the same idea. So many patrol cars have not been seen in one place in quite some time. Now the little highchairs on wheels also have sealed bibs for the little kids to wear. A real picture of old-school Austin--black, brown, and white, and three and four generations at a table. The tackout business was going great guns also. They were setting up takeout orders where they could be seen. There were some that included three pies and dozens of dinner rolls.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

We were lucky with the new people both times on one side of the house. Now the people looking on the other side always tour the house accompanied by unleashed barking dogs and always arrive in at least one, if not a fleet of, giant, latest-model SUVs. Today's was a Mercedes and the lookers were accompanied by an inspector-type person in a blue boiler suit.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

I like the title of the Economist piece on food drops--"Pop Tarts in the Dust"--and the picture caption was, "Oh, no; not strawberry jam again!" According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce Money Magazine has named Austin number nine among the ten top places to live--a very peculiar list, by the way.

Monday, November 19, 2001

The poor mother possum struck down in the street probably left babies in our back yard.

Saturday, November 17, 2001

On Thanksgiving day there's going to be a quadruple bill at Palmer Auditorium: top bill goes to Los Tigres del Norte, with Los Palominos fourth on the bill. Today there was enough yard trash blown on the grown to fill two lawn-and-leaf bags, just for starters.

Friday, November 16, 2001

The paper doesn't even mention all the hailstones that fell, more like sleet, irregularly shaped, then the proverbial pea-, marble-, golfball-, or grapefruit-sized usually falling. Green leaves were just sucked from the oak trees. Power faltered but we weren't among the unlucky to have it go altogether. A tree across the street was split and so was a redbud in our yard, whether by wind or lightning can't be determined.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Waiting for the storm to strike for real induces a craving for Camels. We still keep it to a pack a week or under, shared by the two of us, but consumptions's been creeping up lately.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Not only is there a Navajo code talker GI Joe, but he utters seven phrases in Navajo and the same again in English and arrives with a list of the most-often-used words of the code. Names haven't changed much since WWII.

Monday, November 12, 2001

Now it has rained and the ground will be like gumbo, but at least this morning 120 tulip bulbs went into the ground. Too bad there are that many again. Youngbloods, Buffalo Springfield, and especially Zombies "She's Not There," courtesy of Paul Ray.

Sunday, November 11, 2001

The Veterans Day parade was no more heavily attended than it has been for some years past. Our new mayor-elect was the grand marshall, probably chosen long before Election Day. The greatest number of parade divisions went to Girl Scouts, all decked out in tricolor bandannas, ribbon cockades, and so on, only the stalwart Del Valle band and one lone piper for totally live music. The same guy as always was selling poppies.

At the Faust performance we had the thrill of singing, all three thousand and more of us, America the Beautiful accompanied by the orchestra, which sounded better last night since it has since the days of Dr. Ducloux. The arrangement for the song was very nice, heard in full before we began singing, very nineteenth-century smalltown band in feeling. I can still hit the high notes.

Saturday, November 10, 2001

I'm wearing my Converse high-tops more than I have for quite a while--the ones with red-and-white-stripes and a tongue and trim with a flag-blue background printed with white five-pointed stars. All those years ago at Rooster Andrews they told me they had only stocked two pairs--I've seen the other pair downtown, though not for a while. When I bought them they were a little too big, but now they fit just right.

Friday, November 09, 2001

The tejano traffic jam was a mixture of Bobby Pulido and Roberto Pulido y los clasicos. The actually played "Mi amor sincero" that I used to punch every time at the jukebox when Casita Jorge's was over on Elmont. It's funny to think that Bobby Pulido was inducted into the National Honor Society in high school.I have a feeling that "amor sincero" is a song done by Trio Los Panchos.

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Joyce Carol Oates writes at lukewarm length about Patricia Highsmith, and then praises Ruth Rendell effusively in a footnote. Hilary Mantel writes about Sybille Bedford, spending most of the time on A Legacy. I've owned a copy of A Compass Error and of A Legacy, bought in Canada, I think but I can't find them at the moment. I've read Jigsaw and A Favorite of the Gods, but have never owned them.

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

UNM press has published some book about the end of the oldstyle trading posts that we used to know--found it--"Navajo Trading: the end of an era," by Willow Roberts Powers; the federal government's finally cracked down. However unfair the system, it was one of the last formalized and regular barter systems in the modern world and probably the last one in this country. I'm not sure what might still be going on in Athabascan and Inuit locales north of the border.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

It's cool enough so that the clockvine's blooming again.

Monday, November 05, 2001

TexMo has a piece describing what goes on at a tamalada. The article does a fairly good job of describing the process but doesn't come close to conveying the rapidity with which the experienced work and how difficult even the simplest parts of the task are for the novice. There really seem to be no good commercial tamales these days; even the ones that used to be quite good (jalapeno pork, we're talking here) all seem to be adulturated with textured vegetable protein these days. There's no solution but to move to the top of the list for ones made by somebody's mother or grandmother.

Sunday, November 04, 2001

Today's astonishment is that one of the neghbors personally owns a decibelmeter and is willing to get up at 5:30 a.m. to go do something about noise. How doughty of her!

Saturday, November 03, 2001

This afternoon I listened with complete attention to the Maria Callas Norma over KMFA; mesmerizing, with all its flaws. The people at the mortage company rescinded the late-payment fee, acknowledging the perfect payment record, always early, etc., etc., and even admitted that they had been late posting payments because of the events of September 11, but were imposing the fees anyhow, just lifting them for those who protest. At last the mail's really beginning to come through, so much that the letter carrier had to leave one of those plastic bins. Especially welcome were Business Week, Forbes, Fortune, and PC Magazine (now so skinny, when it used to be to plump with ad revenue) at last.

Friday, November 02, 2001

There's nothing to brighten the spirits like going all bleary-eyed to vote early at the first moment that the polls open and being captured in all one's auroral charm by a camera-operator from the all-news channel.

Thursday, November 01, 2001

It's been a quarter of a century at least since there've been so few trick-or-treaters in the neighborhood, after ever-increasing numbers.