Saturday, May 31, 2003

Diligence rewarded

While K. went to the swearing-in for D., I worked on opening the transoms for the season. For the first time in a while, it was possible to open all four. The prolonged low humidity probably made this possible.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Zuni salt lake endangered

Zuni Salt Lake is one of the great unknown awesome places. The sight of an eagle circling upward inside the volcano cinder cone, below us and reflected in the water at the bottom, and then flying away at eye level is never to be forgotten. There are so few places on this earth where no humanmade sounds, including mechanical ones, are to be heard. I couldn't understand why suddenly this site is listed as number two on the National Trust for Historic Preservation endangered sites, but it's threatened by a contemplated Fence Lake coal strip-mining project. The volcanic cinder cone seems to be known to vulcanologists. Apparently it's really a tufa cone or "maar."

Thursday, May 29, 2003


Was I supposed to remember this stuff? All these were written down on notes floating around. Tree, 60 inches circumference, 4.5 feet high, 19 inches diameter. St. Louis, 21-24. W.O. Harper, floor furnace. Delbert McClinton, "Lone Star Blues." Defrag. Readerware. Bauer ziggurat cup and saucer. Wheatsville. Scrapblog. Pavilion. Pop-up blocker. Fireworks. Free concerts Wooldridge. American Indian Science & Engineering Society, Engineering Annex 101D, 87131-1381. Pirates. Circus.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Pink crocuses?

Still seeking summer reading for CCH, I zipped through The Dive from Clausen's Pier, which turned out to be better than expected. There was a lot of interpolated business with naming the parts of a sewing machine and going through the daily routines of quadriplegics, all of which was reasonably accurate, though superfluous to the plot. Where did the author ever see a pink crocus? Mention of such a phenomenon raised seeds of doubt about other factoidal detail.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Vanity publication

Also found at Book People was a glossy publication on coated paper called Tribeza. The review of Lambert's was comical. The website for this little outfit reminds me again why I hate fly-out menus.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Another book that doesn't measure up

Blue Shoe (Anne Lamott), read courtesy of the library, won't do for CCH, either. but we found wonderful music for ourselves. A little Chavela Vargas goes a long way, but I enjoyed Isidro Lopez (el Indio) a lot, particularly his voice, and listened again and again to Agustin Lara playing and singing his songs himself and Conjunto Bernal.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

National food of Austin

Breakfast tacos are everywhere, sold from the backs of trucks and from folding tables, sold by Snappy Snacks from food-vending trucks, sold from office to office and construction site to construction site by people carrying them in baskets. When people talk about the underground economy elsewhere, they may be thinking of other businesses; here, there's tremendous commerce in breakfast tacos, in whatever combination of eggs, beans, potatoes, cheese, chorizo, etc., you may desire. There are many who can do without coffee sooner than do without breakfast tacos. At Book People, we found Two Note Solo on the free rack, containing a winderful "Personal History of Breakfast Tacos" by Sarah Hepola, from her introduction to them in 1993.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

The lime index

Some rely on the federal consumer price index. The number of limes that can be bought for a dollar is more relevant. The best rate ever was 20 limes for a dollar. This week has been one of the worst, ranging from one lime for something like 65 cents at Whole Foods to 8 limes for a dollar at Fiesta Mart. What is this economy coming to? J.C. (Taylor Farms in Lockhart) had the only peaches at the downtown farmers' market and was doing a land-office business.

Friday, May 23, 2003


Or "bilagaana." There's a great piece in the May 11 NYT sports section about three young women from Navajoland in Arizona who helped earn their degrees by playing volleyball for C.W. Post. Speaking of the coach, "She is our biligaana," Nez said, explaining that the world means "white mother." Then Vecsey goes on to comment "In a culture in which women are strong and spiritual, that is no small honor." Uh-huh! "Bilagaana" or "biligaana" merely means "white person" or "Anglo," and usually not very fondly. I love this site showing the members of the staff of the Rough Rock school, including their clans, where applicable, and where not, describing them as "Bilagaana."

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Pico de gallo at the Chinese buffet

On our weekly summer day off for errands, we were "drained," post-plumber, so didn't vote, as we had intended, or do any of the other chores on the list. After going to the library and waiting behind the long lines of KIPP academy kids, we followed the people streaming into Joy East buffet in the old Riverside movie theater. K. went crazy over pork spareribs coated in some red, sweet stuff. The patrons looked like Austin or like the Carmen's crowd in the old days: city and state workers, AC service people, mothers with preschoolers, and speaking several languages. There was a big bowl of freshly prepared pico de gallo at the salad part of the buffet and people were using tremendous quantities of it to accompany virtually everything. It was very good, and IMO it went great with steamed fish and with broiled chicken!

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Perfection in plumbing

Dreading the possibility of once again being left worse off than before the "remedy," we followed a neighborhood recommendation and tried Union Jack (Nick). He doesn't advertise beyond the listing in the business pages and the white pages. The motto on the spotless and organized van, accompanied by a silhouette of a Revere-like figure on horseback is: "The British are plumbing! The British are plumbing!" We haven't been this well off in this house for decades.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Spring cleaning

More like hunting.

Monday, May 19, 2003


That's where Old School was filmed. Some people have no shame, and that's funny (tranquilizer darts as humor).

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Twice sharp

EcoWise did a good job at sharpening my mower. I had even begun pricing new mowers, figuring that, since my current one has lasted well for a quarter-century, it wouldn't be that big a deal to buy a new one, preferably with a T handle and not one of the pseudo ergonomic ones. Even though there's more torque to the T handle, it lets the mower run along under shrubs in a way that the other sort of handle does not. Mine's an 18-inch-wide mower; Home Depot was showing a 16-inch mower that was cheap. Sears had a virtually soundless mower that was less than some, but I don't like those extra wheels. Sears still honors its Craftsman guarantee. The catch is that not every garden tool is Craftsman these days. When I finished mowing, I began edging and the casting for one side of the grass shears broke in two right under the handlegrip. The last time that this happened, my trade-in wasn't as good as the broken tool; this time, it was better, taking me back to the item that I originally bought (this time, going from the $11 item to the $19 item). There's still such a thing as long-handled grass shears but they don't seem to come on wheels, the way they once did.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Four Strong Winds and the kiss at the end of the rainbow

The movie that took us to the vile precincts was A Mighty Wind. Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, as a semi-urban Ian and Sylvia, generated genuine emotion as they sang their silly little song. The catheter artwork added that truly decorative touch. It was K. who insisted on seeing this. It would have been a shame to miss it.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Errands running us

The mysterious Hawaii Tiki Shop says "call for appointment." There's also a sign for a Tropical Events website, which was "under construction" but has now been partly constructed. I can't wait to see what goes up on the "props and sets" page. La Moreliana was not as busy as La Hacienda, but had several butchers on duty even so. The taqueria was much smaller. Sears and J.C. Penney were dead, with not a shopper to be seen. Since we were at the loathesome Barton Creek Square Mall for the movie, we checked these spots out. There were deep discounts on underwear and cotton shirts. People may not have been shopping, but plenty of them were dining at El Gallo, where the charro beans were tops.

Thursday, May 15, 2003


Every five years or so it's time to invest in a new screen pavilion to set up in the yard against the sun and the mosquitos. The usual sources are Kmart, Target, or Academy, but the tents (of plastic) seem to be made by the same outfitter, no matter what the house brand name. On sale, they cost forty dollars or less. Each time they're of poorer quality. This version has no "lock" for the pole segments to hold them together once they're joined. It's also of a smaller dimension. The plastic is of poorer quality. Various loops and fittings are skimped in size to the point of being useless for their intended purpose. The metal pegs are of a useless design (L-shaped and short). Luckily we've got some "U" or hairpin metal pegs in house. The crowning irritation is that the guy "ropes" need to be cut, knotted to the D-rings, and fitted to the little sliders or belayers by the purchaser. In the past this had all been done.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003


Not haruspicy and really it's an auger that's the great tool. It's a month too late to be getting the rest of the oak leaves, plus oak flowers and pecan flowers out of the gutters. The drain auger (plumber's snake) took quite a while to bore its way through the clog in the downspout. This is a downspout that has never before been a problem. When the clog was finally broken, the sound made was of mighty rushing waters!

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Flying too close to the ground

I Married an Angel has one good song, or at least one with a hook to it, rhyming "angel" with "change'll" to the point of driving the listener crazy. The best things about it were the production design (courtesy of Cedric Gibbons) and the costumes, plus the entire MGM stock company of actors, it seems.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Club Desvelado

To help see us through the insomniac hours, courtesy of Vulcan Video we enjoyed, to a greater or lesser extent, Pitfall (for the second time), State and Main, Orange County (funny), and Pushing Tin (a male weepie about air-traffic controllers, told from one point of view). Bulletproof Monk would have been better if there'd been nobody in it but the beatific Chow Yun-Fat.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Moving air

There isn't any, and so it's time to get out the fans, or at least some of them.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Jim Dandy met a mermaid queen

At lunchtime we made a pilgrimage to Quality Seafood to take home some fish before the weather gets too hot. The lunch deal looked great: $8.95 for grilled trout, cornbread, salad, and I forget what else. There were many happy diners still, even though we got there late.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Baby needs new shoes

Bennet of the virtues doesn't spend the milk money, so he says. What a chump! Slots and video poker. He's sure gone a long way paying researchers on the cheap to find out-of-copyright material to compile into his little books. The good part is that in this fashion a lot of stuff long out of print and difficult to find is available again and likely to remain so for at least a time.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Inharmonious day

Just a half day, really. Chores, chores, chores. First we dropped our ancient mower off at EcoWise to be sharpened. There'll be no charge if it's impossible to disassemble it. Up until a couple of years ago, before "Smart Growth" drove all the useful services from downtown, we used to take it to the chainsaw place. Homegrown Texas still shows Harmony Gardens as a location where it's available, but Harmony Gardens is now missing from the master gardeners site. The greenhouses and little florist shack are still there. What heppened to the tribe of tiger-striped feral cats that they fed? The guys there used to propagate their own plants and, besides what was paid for, there were often surprise plants in the pot. K. was famished and wanted to stop at Culver's for a frozen custard and then ate so much other stuff that the custard was never ordered. The soundtrack was great and the counter and kitchen people were all speaking Spanish. The music was better than the food. Anthony Anderson and Tom Arnold walk away with Cradle 2 the Grave. The villain was Mani from Pacte des Loupes. From bed we enjoyed a surprise and extensive fireworks exhibition, courtesy of Rupert Murdoch, according to the Statesman.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Enigma in office

Although the mayor is merely the presiding officer of the city council, it would be difficult to know this in recent times. Will Wynn did win and that's all anybody knows.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Hounding even unto the grave

Even inactive members must pay Texas bar dues up to the age of 70 or until death, whichever is earlier.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Empress of India

It wasn't imagination that this is a variety of nasturtium. A couple of years ago, when Burpee was still issuing its "heirloom catalogue" with all the beautiful full-page reproduction plates, we bought some of every nasturtium there. This year Empress of India was not offered, but we still have a show in pots, plus every nasturtium on this page, from last year. The trailing nasturtiums have gone wild.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

El cinco de mayo and the conjunto program were as great as ever. From one end of the year to the other, there's no event with so many kids in the audience and having such a good time. There are so few events featuring music at a volume that doesn't destroy hearing. The conjunto of Santiago Jimenez the younger just gets snappier and snappier. As always, there was a rush to the dance floor within two bars of Viva Seguin, the customary opener. We couldn't stick for Ricky Naranjo, who was the headliner this year. Among all the selections we heard were schottisch (chotis), redova, and huapango, in addition to polka and waltz music at various tempos, and hardly a cumbia at all. The most popular toys were strollers and paper airplanes. Turkey legs were sold garnished with a paper Mexican flag.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

For using up lingering vegetables, there's nothing like pork stew, with or without the pork. It would probably be just as good with or without chicken! Everything with wool is away until the next time it gets "cool." Washburn's said we kept them in business for another year. I'm glad we voted early.

Friday, May 02, 2003

The subject of wineglass shapes will never be sorted out. There is a site that's very prescriptive and opinionated. A tumbler is good enough!

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Stan Brakhage got a good send-off, but nobody had the guts to say how truly boring Dog Star Man is. And pretentious. It takes just one random description to confirm the recollection.