Sunday, February 29, 2004

Flowering onions

The various varieties of ornamental allium do smell like onion or garlic, but they're really pretty and make good dried flowers. I suppose that what we enjoy year after year are allium cowanii and allium multibulbosum. We added some of the latter once, meaning to be planting the former. There are very small pink ones and white ones that are regarded as weeds and grow where they will. They're really just as good-looking as the ones people pay for. Amidst our Montopolis narcissi are two tiny, tiny tazettas that are more yellow than butter and not at all sharp in color, borne on very long stems, and with very tiny flowers and even tinier cups. We have never seen anything like them anywhere. We're also seeing our first wood hyacinths. These are better than true hyacinths, although without the scent; we always called them wood hyacinths or squills, and we're seeing the first of them now. The first of our single jonquils will open tomorrow, and there'll be lots of them, with no signs of bud blast. And we're still enjoying Avalanche. There are no signs of Jack Snipe, Baby Moon, April Tears, or Golden Dawn. We've had a couple of Silver Chimes for the first time in ages, but they're fragile and don't last all that long. Our paperwhites are going now.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Harmonic convergence?

If "harmonic convergence" means coincidence in the realm of music, then it's happening right here in Austin, right here in this household. After listening to Perez ("Prez") Prado all week, on this morning's Lounge Show we heard the Nash Hernandez Orchestra doing Mambo No. 8. Mambo No. 8 is on this local outfit's new CD, called "Tenderly." It's great that a sample list of songs from the repertory is posted. (It's news that the orchestra plays often at Donn's Depot.) If Perez Prado - Mambo No. 8 - Nash Hernandez, all in the same week, doesn't qualify as "harmonic convergence," what does? Just wondering. And it's great that KO-OP radio streaming is working again.

Friday, February 27, 2004

So now it's Half Price Books

Joining other location institutions suffering from the tender mercies of a landlord, according to the Chron, is Half Price Books up on the Drag. Given a choice of buying the building it leases before it goes to the highest bidder or staying on from day to day, Half Price is looking for a new "central" location. The Co-op isn't really a bookstore these days. Garner & Smith is long gone. There's no more Folk Tales. Watson & Co., next-door to the old Sweetish Hill location, is probably still remembered by few (although I enjoyed all the reminiscence of an bygone Austin of the 'seventies on this page). Congress Avenue Books went from its spacious location in the old Stephen F. Austin hotel to the other side of the street and is no more. BookWoman was driven from its downtown location and now is much less convenient. Adventures in Crime and Space lost its physical premises and may onw be defunct. Europa Books, one of a kind, is gone. Grok Books evolved into the super-ambitious BookPeople and has had to draw in its horns. How the eventual relocation of Whole Foods to its new building will affect BookPeople is anybody's guess. Austin may have grown, but it has not improved when it comes to bookstores with personality, conveniently located. Even Half Price Books was once within a hop, skip, and jump from the Capitol, sharing a building with a dry-cleaning plant.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Some like the way these smell; some don't

A quick step out for the newspapers is an olfactory odyssey these days, what with paperwhite narcissus, Avalanche, and four colors of Dutch hyacinths all in bloom at once. K. is particularly fond of the scent of hyacinth; I am especially not. Nor do I much care for the shape from a distance (too much like cotton candy on a paper cone), nor for the way in which the stem keeps growing until everything flops over. Up close, though, the little stripes on the petals of each floret are very pretty. We've been having very good luck in recent years with these: not only do they return; they multiply. Before people built in the side yards of the house across the way, there were always many, many hyacinths, year after year. We're enjoying a pretty bunching of two different examples each of two different pink varieties right now. The blue ones came first and are now flopped over. We usually see at least a couple of other colors: a different color blue, a purple one, and a pale yellow one (City of Haarlem). The recent weather of wind, rain, and hail has been tough. Nevertheless sturdy Ice Follies always stands right back up, no matter what; and we continue to see flowers that we haven't seen in years. The newest reappearance is of a small-to-medium daffodil with slightly butter-colored perianth, a fairly egg-yolk-colored trumpet that's somewhat narrow and fairly long, though not one of those really long and ridged ones, with a pronounced frill around the bell that's a much deeper tone of color, almost orange. B.'s leucojum beds are in full bloom; his always bloom earlier than either of our two sets do. We'll have lots more single jonquils than in years, and we may see some over the weekend.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

What did that mean?

When the stupid police helicopter came over in the middle of the night, I was right in the middle of a dream where I was hearing people speaking Mandarin and Diné biza'ad. The remarkable thing was that they could understand one another, but I could understand only Diné biza'ad and mostly only some nouns.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Campaign money from the Valley

Now that Austin, center of the famed tenth Congressional district, has been split into ribbons running out for miles and miles, its current representative, Lloyd Doggett, has chosen the new district 25 in which to run. His opponent is from the opposite end of the new district. Lately, KKLB 92.5-fm has been broadcasting Leticia Hinojosa's all-Spanish radio commercial very frequently. The emphasis falls at the end: it says that people should give their vote to her because "mi voz es la misma que la de Ustedes." Her site prominently features the endorsement of Gonzalo Barrientos, who considered running himself. There's been more coverage in San Antonio than in Austin, and quite a bit of press (probably for Austin expatriates) in the San Jose paper. And of course in La Prensa, recently on line and staying there, with frequent updates during this campaign season. The Doggett campaign site has more material in Spanish than the Hinojosa site.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Lacy Sunday

Yesterday wasn't quite it. There is a green haze of near leafing out around the branches of some of the trees but, if only one person can see it, it doesn't count. Google doesn't find lacy Sunday, but it was a real event in our annual calendar, marking the first day of Spring for some purposes, and very beautiful. Prediction: February 29, besides being a leap day will also be lacy Sunday. And so far nobody's picked any of our flowers. And so far only the very first blooms are beginning to show signs of wear. And so far there are blooms from varieties not seen in years. One of them is a very small, creamy white tiny narcissus that's also very double. Even though double flowers are not favorites, this one is quite appealing, whatever it is. In the garden-envy department, let's just say that people who have flowering quince, which is prolific in bloom this year, are lucky.

Sunday, February 22, 2004


Austin as we know it continues to be diminished. The latest casualty is the retail operation of Hot Jumbo Bagels, producer of real water bagels and homemade soup. It out-competed and outlasted stupid national "bagel" chains, one of which moved in right next door, but couldn't best a rapacious landlord. The operation will move east of the Inter-regional and do wholesale business only. Too bad for the workers at this long-time independent business, which was remarkable for low employee turnover.

Saturday, February 21, 2004


It's amazing that some of this music isn't sampled as much as James Brown stuff (although that 1999 Lou Bega catchy thing obviously included some samples). Perez Prado is keeping the old toes a-tapping. Our particular set of 15 grandes exitos originales is not listed in the best discography found. Did we get this over at La Michoacana? It has a very interesting version of Maria Bonita. Maybe it's one of those Sony (originally Columbia) compilations made for TV sales in Mexico.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Still boring; still not boring

And portentious. And pretentious. And disappointing. That goes for LawMeme. And the milque-toast Campaign Desk, which seems very mild and unambitious. Does that mean they're not worth checking? Well; no. Much more entertaining are Burnt Orange (doesn't Some Important Entity have rights to "burned orange"?) and Trailer Park Girl.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Poetry of the random

Two favorite recent artificially generated names for use as "senders" of spam are "Forest Pagan" and "Confucius Eisenhower." Some of these obviously merit a closer look before deletion. Perhaps the first "person" was peddling "natural" products and the second "person" owes his existence to a random-name generator using only the appellations of the famous.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

"Ice-cream frenzy"?

The current Forbes magazine has an article on Blue Bell Creameries. It's still a family-owned business, with 40% of the ownership vested in employees. The article cannot be viewed without logging in. The interesting thing about it, apart from the cost of air-expressing ice cream in dry ice to individual consumers, is that Blue Bell has never paid push or shelf money to any market or store. It's reported that no discounts at all have ever been offered in exchange for stocking its products. It's possible to sign up to receive e-mail notification of the rotating flavors of the month. Blue Bell is experimenting with all-Spanish labels and specialty flavors also, according to the piece.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Just another side-effect of redistricting

Voter registration cards expired December 31, 2003. New ones have not yet arrived. I've been burning up lunch hours on hold at 854-9473, trying to find out whether they've been mailed and some have gone astray or whether they've just plain not been mailed. It's the latter, and it's because of redistricting. They're not missing unless they don't arrive on Friday, 20 February, or Saturday, 21 February. Here's what's needed to vote without the registration card. This may be necessary information, since early voting begins on Monday, 23 February.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Cross-currents in caffeine culture

Among the most frequent offerings are samples of coffee from home. If only we'd been keeping the packaging. One kind of beans was the father's locally grown personal special blend, in a handsome bag with a bluish-white background and everything else in a cobalt blue, from Uruapan. The beans were lightly roasted and the flavor was bright. The mornings were chilly in Uruapan, with people hurrying around carrying on their heads those big circular tray baskets with the raised sides, full of fresh tortillas or bolillos. Women in from the country were wearing those handsome navy or black rebozos with the narrow blue stripes and the fringe. Now we're enjoying wonderful coffee from Taiwan, very robust in flavor and a good, strong roast. The part of the package that's in English seems to say that this blend is by Fong Da Coffee. English mottoes on the package say such things as "We Relish Coffee," Favorite Time For You," and "Rich in taste, Rich in tradition, The most selected coffee of the world." The back of the package has a list of about thirty special blends, but I can't find the exact match of four characters there, so maybe it's something even more special than that! Whatever it is, it's the best coffee we've had in a long time.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Marathon, begone! Helicopter, begone!

The Motorola marathon more or less shuts down all the parts of Austin to which we customarily resort, making it virtually impossible to use downtown, Pleasant Valley, of course any part of Congress, and on and on and on. We had hoped for some peace and quiet from closed streets, but the local television helicopter hovered and hovered and hovered, so we had to leave. At least nobody stole the flowers from the front yard this year in honor of Valentine's day. We went out to horrid Westlake, which was the only place still showing Love Actually, and did enjoy it, despite the volume set for the deaf. On the way home, we thought we'd hit Central Market South or H-E-B but the parking lots were jammed, still probably because of the blankety-blank marathon. So we'll raid the pantry.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Term of art

This was good packing, even though there wasn't all that much of it. It's reported that it is the most since sometime in 1985. Yes; we tried it out and it was perfect for snowballs. And it was real snow, after yesterday's sleet with some rain. It'll disappear very fast, because the ground is so warm that some of it was melting already at three o'clock in the morning. I like this "good packing" science project. It's a good thing that none of this froze on and that it'll go away soon, because it's all very heavy and not at all good for tree limbs not used to stress like this.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Good quotation, great cover

The Bookish Gardener in an entry for 10 November 2003, remarks on the beauty of the cover and pulls some text from a book recently borrowed from the library, Time and the Gardener: writings on a lifelong passion (Elisabeth Sheldon). Bookish Gardener enjoyed this work far more than we did. Leaving this world by suddenly falling face down into the garden is the best thought in it, and the choice of the Redouté; nasturtium depiction for the cover is a touch of genius on somebody's part. Especially since they have lasted, and bloomed, throughout the winter in pots, we have grown very fond of the old-fashioned trailing nasturtiums in particular. The variety that's saffron in color with red-brown markins in the throat is very showy from a distance and goes well with the asclepias (orange butterfly weed) that mysteriously appeared in one pot and has also bloomed through this winter. We haven't wanted to cut any of these nasturtiums, but they make a pretty tabletop arrangement, both leaves and flowers, floating in a very shallow container as though they were lilypads and flowers.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Memory of plum pudding prompts fit of weeping

Query: is plum pudding a step above or a step below fruitcake on holiday want lists? Martha Stewart's "assistant" of over six years burst into tears on the witness stand when recalling her Christmas present from the Great One. If plum pudding from Martha Stewart is evidence of generosity, what's the embodiment of boss-to-dogsbody stinginess?

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Pepys played it

Talk about useless factoids: the flageolet does look just as I remembered it did. The link was found through the Pepys annotation pages. The Tonette is still made; mine was marbled cream with maroon trim. If I ever unpack that old footlocker from the Great War, maybe I'll find it and my recorder. They all have fipple mouthpieces, as does my old slide-whistle shaped like a bird with a beak that opens and closes to produce a gargling effect.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

"Only man is vile"

But at least "every prospect pleases" so there'll be no dwelling on the vileness. Later in the week, if the forecast is to be believed, Austin will mimic the climate of "Greenland's icy mountains." Thank you, Bishop Heber. Heber also wrote the words to Holy, Holy, Holy, which is news. At any rate, passing once again over the vileness of man, every prospect does please. Every Grand Primo and paperwhite narcissus remains in bloom, probably because the temperatures have stayed cool and the sun has not been hot. Our "snowy" flowers, good old Ice Follies and charming little Avalanche are bursting forth, as is Minnow, and not one has been picked by a poacher (thus far). In bloom are two blue Dutch hyacinths and one pink one. The single jonquils are packed with buds, with no signs of bud blast. Gardengeekgirl seems to grow a lot of what we grow, at least in the yellow, white, and yellow-and-white bulb department, including Thalia, Baby Moon, April Tears, Flower Record, and Geranium (although not Actaea), which will show themselves later. We probably bought many of ours from Park originally, too (check back in the late summer), back when not many catalogues were informative or stocked bulbs for spring flowers in zones 8 and 9.

Monday, February 09, 2004

MyDoom degrees of separation

Has anybody written about this? You receive a notification that e-mail ostensibly sent from your address was infected with MyDoom. The message comes from an address theretofore unknown to you. Someone with an infected computer had your e-mail in his/her address book and also the e-mail address of the recipient of the mail supposedly sent by you. I've seen some very odd linkages. My e-mail address appears to be known and recorded on the computers of those who have much more interesting entries in their address books than mine. If only it were possible to learn who these link people are. P.S. Yes; someone has coupled "degrees of separation" and "MyDoom" and he was first. Or maybe it was this guy Lovett, who'd like to know about the linkage also. They must have received bounce-back notifications before I started getting them.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Austin libraries really need help

Yesterday there were no new books available at the new Ruiz branch. The fabulous Ms. Ballesteros was not in evidence. Has she retired? She ran a very welcoming Riverside library branch. The Ruiz branch, replacing Riverside, is a long way from Riverside and was not full of people. Today the Little Walnut Creek branch, one of the few open on Sundays, was wall-to-wall people, with all seats taken inside and nearly all parking spaces taken outside and lots of people coming and going by bus. The staff seemed harried and there were lines at the checkout desk.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

When your name is your destiny

When your name is "Beveridge," of course you're going to be manufacturing specialty vodka. It's probably only because somebody else got there first that this guy is behind Tito's Vodka and not some other substance intended to be imbibed. So who's behind Good Flow Juice?

Friday, February 06, 2004

Historians or photographers of Blunn Creek?

If you love Austin, please send the word out on this request. Sierra? Audubon? St. Edward's? UT? Yes; this is the Blunn Creek that you saw in the news recently concerning local Wal-Mart building plans. As part of better understanding the long-term changes in Blunn Creek, we'd like to start collecting any old photos of the creek, or stories about the stream. The idea is to try to show whether, how, at what rate, and where the creek has been eroding. Can you please look through your old shoeboxes of creek photos, or ask your older neighbors, to help us understand thehistory of the stream's erosion? Please send any copies of photos, or comments from SRCC-area residents, to:

David Todd
709 East Monroe Street
Austin, TX 78704-3131

Thursday, February 05, 2004

A great nom de spam

"Frank Elder" sent e-mail touting geriatric levitation.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Further adventures in "customer care"

Now being awaited are the results of the fourth attempt to receive part of a publication that did not reach the subscriber. The first attempt was the day it should have been delivered. Although same-day redelivery is promised, on that occasion the report was that the delivery would be made the following day. On the following day, the wrong item was delivered. A call and an on-line report resulted in a promise that the missing item would be mailed immediately, although by second class. Two and a half weeks later, in an tattered package, the wrong item arrived again. Now promised is a first-class mailing of the correct issue, but nothing, wrong or right, has yet arrived. The people answering the telephones are very pleasant every time, but don't enter requests correctly. The on-line messages are forwarded to the data-entry people at the call center. Maybe they're all just as bad with the number part of the keyboard as some other people I know.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


This is the most I've been able to find about the song "Keemo-Kimo" and its origins. The chorus of the 1854 version comes closest to the version by the King Cole Trio. The trio put out an album of 78 rpm records for children in I'm not sure what year. Keemo-Kimo is the song that has stuck. Its version of the chorus goes something like "Keemo-Kimo, fair is fair; my heart, my ho, my rumpernickel pumpernickel; slam bang nick and palm-me-o my cameo; I love you!" It hasn't yet been found, but Nat Cole singing Latin hits of the 'fifties has. The arrangements are lush. The Mexican boleros are at times accompanied by a romance duo or trio (uncredited) similar to Los Panchos, although they must be another group, since Nat Cole was a Capitol artist in those days and the Panchos were Columbia. At any rate, this music goes well with the mood and season and so does music from Armstrong's Hot 5 and Hot 7.

Monday, February 02, 2004

La Prensa goes electronic

It was always possible to find the most recent edition of La Prensa at Carmen's (La Tapatia), now long closed. Then it was to be found at the Riverside library branch. Then that closed for many months. Sometimes it's dropped off at the eastside City Market or at the H-E-B just over east from the Inter-regional. Now La Prensa is on line. Campaign season is heating up, so probably it'll be published more frequently, at least until Election Day.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Transportation for the feet

When a shoe stops being silent, it's time to give it the old heave-ho. Noisy footgear must go. It's beginning to seem as though perfectly good shoes have noise-o-lescence built into them, though. The top is clean and unworn; the sole doesn't look worn. But there's a noise! It's usually a squeak or some sort of squishy noise that suddenly appears. Maybe it's time to try SAS. I remember when people used to go all the way to San Antonio for them, even from the time that SAS was first in business. Now SAS has made an in-print appearance as a cult shoe brand, courtesy of the principal behind American Apparel.