Friday, April 30, 2004

Another victim of landlord greed

Now it's Miguel's La Bodega that must close its doors. Goodbye, salsa central. La Copa, now where the old Las Palmeras was, does have tropical Thursdays, but it doesn't have high ceilings.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Real sign-painters

They're still out there. Somebody's doing beautiful old-fashioned signs for the weekly specials at Crestview MiniMax, with blue for the item and great big red numbers for the price. What a beautiful sight. Some of the tiendas (for example, La Michoacana) use weekly hand-painted signs also. I found a box of plastic knives, knives only, and not part of a knife, fork, and spoon selection; K. found Penrose pickled sausage.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Nasturtiums guard morning glories

All morning glories have been consumed except those planted among nasturtiums. The survivors are beginning to bloom now.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Keeping up

La Invasora is getting all the ads these days. Nevertheless, whatever benighted formula took over Tejano Club/Klub 92.5 radio has mysteriously vanished. The crummy website is back, though in a slightly different form, and the station's back to doing its five o'clock Tejano traffic jam. Nobody local streams Tejano music these days, though. La Prensa is publishing regularly and actually had a Spanish-language insert containing four pages of national-brand coupons. And the first test issue of the new revista Thalia is on the racks in H-E-B stores in Austin. The official site for Thalia takes forever to load. We've been missing our favorite villain Cesar Evora, because we're not watching any telenovela at the moment. He's Atilio Montenegro in Mariana de la noche. We know this because we were looking for something to watch and got sucked right in when we saw Cesar. Between Rexella and Cesar, the choice was easy. By the way, this is typical of the choices available to those without a cable subscription. If we had cable, we'd probably spend too much time with Adult Swim. Jack doesn't give Rexella much prominence on his home page, so here's a little appreciation. Why he calls himself "Dr." Van Impe is unclear. We've speculated that he can't read, that he's just a savant who has memorized the entire Bible. She reads an article or just briefly comments on a bit of news; he gets all excited and quotes the Bible, including chapter and verse. K. thinks that Rexella herself cuts out the newspaper and magazine articles after having read them; I think it's done by unpaid disciples.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Why Newburgh?

There's an interview in the April 23 Texas Observer with Alex Rivera, the director of The Sixth Section. People working in Newburgh raise funds and send money home to benefit their home town of Boqueron (in what state?), in the form of such amenities as electricity, an ambulance, and a 2,000-seat baseball stadium. Apparently, the members of Grupo Union, the benevolent society, work construction, do restaurant work, and drive cabs.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Pineapple sherbet and pralines

The other day El Azteca offered pineapple sherbet after lunch. Where has this custom gone? It used to be customary to offer pineapple sherbet, vanilla ice cream (a choice between the two), and a praline after a meal at the local Mexican restaurants. Fonda San Miguel never did this, but even Las Palomas used to.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Before it's really summer

We still have some of those mystery daffodils from the cheapo mixture: small to medium in size, medium height, very white perianth, medium strong lemon cup, quite long. They're holding up very well in the heat. We also have fancy Iceland or shirley poppies, all salmon or coral, plus true poppies. There are still blue anemones. Passion flowers keep appearing. Violas are leggy, but not yet crisped. The second kind of allium has been blooming. Lettuce has bolted. Nasturtiums are blooming in a frenzy, with some of the old-fashioned streaky climbers going to town. Thunbergia still blooms. Torenia is covered with flowers. We've had a couple of sweet peas with a nice old-fashioned scent. A mystery J&P rose, with blooms that are semi-double and dark blue-red, with a white ring around the center, has flourished this year. These have a wonderful spicy, true-rose scent. This rose hasn't bloomed in years. We have a first California poppies in years. The morning glories that were planted with nasturtiums or among growing nasturtiums survived and are beginning to bloom; the others were consumed. There are clouds of butterfies. One must be looked up: its wings are squarish; the bottom wings are purplishly dark; the top wings are bright orange, with some large and splotchy brown or purply spots.

Friday, April 23, 2004

It wasn't for lack of trying

Every year we tried to win. We never invested in more than one tin of Kentucky Club tobacco, and we collaborated, discussing the entry for weeks before sending it in to the Annual Derby Day Contest. It's easier to forget the rules for naming thoroughbreds than it is to remember them.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Shim Sham Shimmy

The back of the Economist always has a one-page obituary. We love this one for Leonard Reed. I like this round-up of the Shim Sham. The tributes in the NYT are not so oddball and interesting as they once were, but there was a good one recently for Ruth Ellington Boatwright that I can't find in a hurry. When looking for it, I found this great case: Tempo Music v. Famous Music. It has to do with division of royalties when Satin Doll is performed without the lyrics, which are mostly by Billy Strayhorn, with contributions by Johnny Mercer. Lyrics add nothing to this piece, just as they detract from Lush Life, no matter who sings them. Lush Life is perfect as it is, unadorned except by Coltrane.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Dial-up preferred

There's been a rash of articles lately in various publications noting that people are not forsaking dial-up internet connections as soon as had been predicted. One article noted that, when people have access to broadband at work, they're satisfied to have dial-up at home. In some parts of the country dial-up is the only option. And then there's the expense. Even when the divergence in costs isn't that great, the broadband is bundled with other services, such as cable TV, that not everyone wants and that make the entire package not inexpensive. Cheapness and simplicity make it work here at home for us. Apart from those who have nothing to do with WindowsWorld, astonishing numbers of people run on Win95.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The pictures before the book

The New Statesman reviews a book about Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was years before I ever read The Secret Garden, but I loved those full-page color plates with the sheet of thin tissue paper over them. I never read A Little Princess until after seeing the movie. Little Lord Fauntleroy was around, but we didn't read it. A list of a lot of her books is on line at Project Gutenberg. I know that when I was a kid I read at least a couple of the semi-pulpy ones for adults, but I don't recognize any of the titles in this list. Way back when, the backs of books used to be filled with pages touting "other books by this author" and other authors with the same publisher. There was a lot of Frank Stockton around.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Shibboleths and passwords

If we had ever needed a shibboleth, two good ones would have been Bijou and Boradaile. The name of the county, or the town in it spelled the exact same way but pronounced differently, would have made good ones also. No one not from around there would ever have come up with the "correct" pronunciation. Anyone asked to use as passwords prominent features of the exact locale would have done well to mention one of these: Diamond Rock, Miami Beach, the Wall, the Snowman, the Boulevards, the car barns, the Sunset, or the bakery stables.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Four weeks to the day

The little tax refund has made its way to us. We try to come out even, or as close to it as possible, every year. It's the income that's not regularly scheduled that always makes the return a surprise. Now it's safe to file all those papers away. The file for next year has already been opened.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Not to be resisted

Does anybody else do this? It's something I can't remember to ask about. Whenever I see e-mail from a new domain, usually a personal one, I just have to go look at the home page. Very often there isn't one; the person has purchased a domain, but hasn't bothered to do more. If all the "under construction" animations in the world vanish today, that'll be fine here.

Friday, April 16, 2004

The movie is creepy

The Wizard of Oz is not a movie that I've ever watched straight through. Thanks to associating with those who like it, I've been forced to watch chunks of it and so have probably seen it in its entirety. All the songs are known by heart, because we all had to take lessons at the Emma Rose Flynn School of the Dance and that was the show we did one of those years. The songs aren't creepy. I would have said that I'd never read any of the books, but that turns out not to be true. For some reason, the Alison Lurie home page doesn't list a book recently borrowed from the library, Boys and Girls forever: Children's Classics from Cinderella to Harry Potter. Because the front matter said that most of the chapters had been previously published in NYTBR or the NYRB, I wasn't inclined to read it but it turned out that in this book they're in much-altered form. The chapter on the Oz books made me realize that in fact I must have read nearly all, if not all, of them, because I could picture every obscure character as illustrated. They must have been at the house down the hill, where we stopped in afternoons after school, and where I do remember having read some Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy books, as well as one about Little Mandy. In one of the chapters, Lurie writes about Walter de la Mare. Paul Dry Books is reprinting Memoirs of a Midget, as well as His Monkey Wife (John Collier). Collier's papers turn out to be at the Ransom Center, right here in Austin. Lurie also writes about John Masefield (The Box of Delights and The Midnight Folk, among others).

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Why don't they grow where they're planted?

Our showiest red poppies out front are blooming right by the light pole, where they were not planted and where some were trampled before they bloomed by people posting signs. Another, though stunted, blooms in a crack in the sidewalk, right where our newspapers usually land. The young women who deliver the morning papers have very kindly been tossing them in a less convenient place.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Among the few to vote

The turnout wasn't high, but it must have been heavy enough from around here so that our neighbor prevailed. We voted early, at the courthouse, which is always so friendly and homey.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Passion flowers, again!

It was on September 27, just this past fall, that we recorded our first vision of actual passion flowers on any of our vines. There's one again! And at least one bud!

Monday, April 12, 2004

The rain washed away some color

The wind blew away some petals. What we have left are red, red true poppies, plenty of Drummond phlox, mounds of violas in pots, nasturtiums of every stripe (and every solid color) including trailing or climbing types, blue anemones, fancy ranunculus, and still a medium-size daffodil or two, plus the very last of the Dutch iris, yet another blue variety. The heat hasn't yet stopped the thunbergia blooms. We have four spectacular blossoms on the clematis, but by tomorrow one will have dropped its petals. Respite from the heat is wonderful.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

A beautiful peaceful day

It's so rare to be noise-free around here. The weather may have had osmething to do with it.

Saturday, April 10, 2004


In search of lamb for tomorrow, we didn't find anything bone-in, and at WhoFu were told that those pieces of the round that come from New Zealand and were just written up in a national paper have been ordered but haven't been arriving. We did take away a boned and rolled leg. H-E-B was out of the question because of the crowds. At Albertson's it appears that the manager and assistant manager who have been trying so hard may be gone. A new person was visibly in charge and the meat counter was open for the first time in a long time. I feel sorry for the people replaced and bet that this new guy won't do any better in competition with the supremacy of H-E-B in this market.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Things that can't be thrown away

Those free labels with name and address printed on them keep piling up. They must be successful as fund-raising devices, but the ugliness quotient on most of them is very high. Lately, some add stickers with either greeting-card sentiments (miss you, happy anniversary, you're the best, for you) or quotations from the famous or just the anonymously inspirational (Ralph Waldo Emerson is not forgotten, but one can't help but wonder what this means: "Reality is a sliding door."). Seldom seen are the ones that aren't self-adhesive, although occasionally a funds-poor outfit will send a few. In this humidity they soon stick to one another to form a solid block. Most have very ugly designs. There are so many unemployed designers of graphics who'd donate their work, even the worst of which would be better. Some organizations send writing tablets or scratch pads. From mailers targeting the Spanish-speaking, we receive inspirational booklets and lots of refrigerator magnets, some with pop-out centers to use as photo frames. Anyhow, since we just don't pitch out those labels, maybe we'll live long anough to use them up.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

We didn't have money for comic books

Even though they cost just a dime, it was a dime that we didn't have. The same was true for practically everybody we knew, for the most part, so any that got around were pretty dog-eared. The Wall Street Journal had a column this week on Fredric Wertham and The Seduction of the Innocent. The article on line is in a pay-to-view archive.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Photoshop at work again?

The cover for the April 3 issue of the Economist relies on a very unflattering image that does not appear to have been digitally altered. If it's genuine, there's nothing to indicate on what occasion George W. Bush was photographed. This is to encourage newstand sales of a conservative publication.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The last to leaf out

We were starting to worry about our pecan tree, but at last it's left its dormancy. Those anoles and lizards will need to be tough to combat the giant grasshoppers we're seeing.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Somebody has taken the bad breath domain

Every once in a while, in those idle moments, some of us search for whether silly domains are in use. It's true, the "malaliento" domain ("halitosis" in Spanish) has been taken, by a pair of New Jersey dentists.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The postal service is embarking upon the end times

A letter was returned. The envelope bore a stamp that said "no such street address." We write to this address and ZIP code frequently. The envelope was addressed perfectly correctly. Is this a ploy to sell more stamps? We'll have to affix another one since the one on it has been cancelled.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Still in the garden

Despite the heat, we still have Dutch irises, even though they don't last as long: royal purple, white with yellow, yellow with white, white with periwinkle blue. The blue ones are pretty much gone, as are those that are entirely yellow. We still have blue anemones. The ranunculus bulbs really came through this year, and we have some that are extremely fancy, more pastel, and with picot edges. Drummond phlox is here for the first time in years in any quantity. All the species tulips are now cooked. The heat hasn't yet done in those returned Dutch tulips that have been so surprising. In Mack's yard are some unknown bi-colored tazettas that are short-stemmed and standing up well to the heat. The greatest surprise is that the two little one-dollar pots of clematis that we bought at the supermarket last year and that disappeared during the summer have returned. They must be clematis Nelly Moser. One has two spectacular blooms on it and at least three buds. These must not like too much heat and sun, in which case they're a lot like us!

Friday, April 02, 2004

Dreary prospects

Now it's getting hot and soon the accursed daylight saving time will be here. No wonder dairy farmers have always hated. Some of us run on night and day, not by the clock. It just shortens the cooler time of the day.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

A lucky sign

It's always a good omen to see the Soup Peddler making his deliveries, and we did.