Thursday, March 31, 2005

The blood boils

Without capture of one message by a television camera-operator, the City no doubt would have denied that any such messaging had occurred, no matter what the people at the site might have declared was seen. The original story was buried deep inside the local daily. Then the AP picked it up. It had been gossip in certain circles before anything at all appeared in print. What television coverage was is unknown. Then there were texts of some messages, then texts of more, made public. As time has gone on, it has been revealed that the messaging went on for two hours and that there were dozens of messages. As a taxpayer and someone who has done some time along the way as a public servant, I am outraged that misuse of public resources on public time by public servants has gone essentially unpunished. This is all apart from the outrage felt at the glossing over of the content of these messages. This story isn't over yet.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

After a long absence

It has certainly been over a decade since anything has bloomed in that line running from the site of the old playhouse. Now appearing, though, are creamy white, doubled, trumpetless narcissi with scalloped perianths. We have even smaller blooms with pale, peachy trumpets; these are reappearances from bygone days, also. Both of these varieties may have come from a Park mix of long, long ago. The first Tubergen's Gem species tulips are blooming, the ones with alternating brownish-red and creamy petals. Tomato plants have blossoms. Whatever volunteer squash or pumpkin plants there are have not yet succumbed to white powdery mildew, despite the rains.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Wrens, not robins

The morning song of Senlin sprang to mind. It's something about the time of year, probably, but that's not verse thought of for decades. A factoid not remembered is that "swiftly tilting planet" is from this text.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Muntins and Gadarene swine

Mullions wasn't really the word wanted; it was muntins. But I couldn't think of it. P.G. Wodehouse is fond of referring to the Gadarene swine, and K. never remembers what the reference is. I always know, but not exactly where to find it, chapter and verse. The Internet is wonderful in this way, although it's odd that often it's not the King James version that pops up first, but some more recent and less distinguished version. It was surprising that Brewer's, or at least our edition, doesn't have an entry for the porcine beings in question. Perhaps the assumption was that it was not anything that would require being looked up.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Friday night's winds took all the remaining redbud and pear blossoms. We're seeling these irises now: second flush of blue, bi-colored yellow and white, all white, and a couple of crimson purple ones. Waiting to open are fat buds of all-yellow Dutch iris. All colors of ranunculus are open; all colors of anemone remain open. Both of these have stood up extremely well to the rains and winds. Geranium and Flower Record narcissus are open, with the last of them saved by the cooler weather. There were plenty of Carlton-type daffodils in something we put in this year; they are too large for my taste, but the color is good and sharp. We continue to have many from the White Flower Farm mix appearing, most of them mysteries to us, but in all heights, types, and sizes that aren't large. The Bastrop grape hyacinths have finally appeared; they are the largest and bluest of their kind, with an edge of white. Ipheion is appearing. All the old pink oxalis is covered with blooms. Thunbergia is blooming. What are apparently the last hyacinths are now finishing: deep pink with a stripe. Lantanas are covered with flowers. There are two flower buds on the passionvine. We have five kinds of nasturtium flowers, all in pots carried over from last year, all trailing types. Some of the old tulips put in over the trench dug for the wastewater line are now blooming; can this be the fourth season for them? Opening now are the apricot ones tinged with gold. Potted rosemary and geraniums continue to bloom in this beautiful fresh weather. We're enjoying B's rejuvenated spirea. Today saw the opening of the first corn poppy, which is very strong in color and not so washed out as they usually are. We've seen no Thalia. The dominant male squirrel plays on the rope swing: he jumps up from the ground to the knot and sets it going; when it slows, he flies off and then makes a running leap on to the knot again to renew the swinging. He must be the replacement for Bushy Buddy, who did not reappear last year. We knew BB by the notches in his ears and the bare places on his tail.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


We've been having lots of fun with the old JamCam (has a flash and shows how long the shutter lag lasts) and the Concord Mini-IQ (without a flash). Neither has a display and each was acquired for under twenty dollars. K. especially likes the way the JamCam feels; I like to be able to slip the Concord into a pocket. The free Picasa has been great for viewing graphics. It even helped me in a hurry when that editor called wanting to know the source of the Pen is Mightier image. But the Hello or Blogger-teamed photo-upload feature is slow and not intuitive. Whenever there's the temptation to invest the upload time from the old dial-up, it's all like starting over again. So today I tried Flickr. Flickr clamed that the posting to the weblog was not successful, but in fact it was.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Getting and spending

Last weekend we sprang for a new 13-inch color television. We were mostly hearing our novela and imagining the visuals. It's great to have a television that shows captions. This must be a new feature since whenever we bought the one that we're replacing. The new television is much lighter in weight, so must have more electronic components than the old one. Another wonderful aspect of the new one is that most of the gazintas are on the front, not the back. We'll not report which person unfastened the video-recorder end of the connection between it and the old television. It took a lot of reading to get everything back up and running. At first, we couldn't record. Then somebody realized that somebody else had hooked the antenna to the television and not to the video recorder and that the video recorder must be a tuner and therefore need antenna reception in order to record. The recorder could play the only videos we own (Kino's Buster Keaton set), but wasn't recording anything viewable or listenable. The kind young guy at Target sold us an extremely cheap DVD player and said he was confident that we could connect everything. The kind young guy at Radio Shack sold us some kind of piggyback connector that permitted running stuff both from the TV to the VCR gazintas and also from the TV to the DVD gazintas. My first thought had been to ask about an A-B switch, but that turned to be more expensive. We have no test DVD to play. K. didn't think that the new device would play CDs; I thought otherwise. We have only about a couple of dozen CDs, and one did play. Now we're ready to check out the enticements at Pedazo Chunk. I believe that I have succeeded in maintaining my proud position as the most techno-advanced among my nearest and dearest, or at least among the age contemporaries of my acquaintance, or at least among those known to be their very own tech service.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

It's the holiday season

This is one of the bus companies that travels between here and Mexico. This past weekend, the parking lot was full of people meeting those getting down from the bus, all laden with cartons and with shopping bags. Everybody appeared to be quite countrified. The long streamers are in the colors of the Republic of Mexico, and the Stars and Stripes are flying prominently.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Thanks to an entry happened upon over at Zanthan, we now know that one of the varieties in this year's mystery pack of bulbs is "Jetfire." Zanthan reports that it did not do well at returning, but we've certainly enjoyed it this year and are glad to know what it is. From what can be learned in a hurry, it appears to have been introduced during the past ten years or so. With a name like that, one would have suspected that it was from the Sputnik era. Also identified during the past few days was a Chinook helicopter. Some window-rattling craft had been going over, but hadn't been seen; and then it was. The last time we did catch sight of one of these, it was when the statue was replaced atop the Capitol after the renovation, and not upon the first attempt.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Snagged already

I'm the only one watching the last days of Mujer de Madera, mostly for Vicky, El Perico, Efrain, and the hoped-for return of Don Felipe. Moving to the fore is La Madrastra. All the rest of the world long since defaulted to Amor Real or Rubí, both now concluded. There are those in this household who must watch Cesar Evora, no matter what. It seems to me that the plot of La Madrastra is very much like the plot of Para Toda La Vida, but maybe PTLV involved the return of the mother as a servant in her former household.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Rest home

One neighbor of long standing reports concerning another, of even longer standing, who has obviously left her house, that she's in a rest home in Houston. It's been forever since I've heard the term "rest home," but hearing it reminded me that it's been an even longer time since I heard the expression "county poor farm."

Sunday, March 20, 2005


The bleary-eyed were dazedly ambling around downtown and on the bridge. Most will be leaving town sometime today. The Inter-regional was practically at a standstill northbound. We decided that it must be students returning from Padre. Over on the Eastside, all was peaceful. People were busy hauling out broken-down furniture, old hot-water heaters, and the various odds and ends acceptable for pick-up in the eyes of the solid-waste people with the City. I couldn't catch a picture of the funny pick-up loads of giant piñatas in the form of rabbits standing on two legs. I can't remember how the Party Piñata people were pricing them, but there were bargain baskets of cascarones set out on the lot. Certainly they'd have to be cheaper than what the Laguna Gloria people sell them for during the spring art show. Their banner now drapes the abandoned Intel building. I'd like to see that building stay as it is, but be enclosed in some sort of wire mesh for walls and have good stairways (and probably an elevator and plumbing core) installed. It should be draped in lights. Banners should be shown against the walls. Since it can be seen from so many vantage points, the view from its topmost floor must be quite good also. But no! The Feds have taken it as their own, or plan to. Maybe we'll be one of the lucky cities and get a decent new courthouse. It's wrong for the City to keep Waterloo knew what they were doing.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The window-screens are still there

This is a good sign. The windows have even been opened. The new neighbor has not been seen in person. There's no sign of an impending subdivision of this plot into two. No horrible glaring security lights have been installed thus far. The full-window screens on the house are not ornamental. It's truly a shame when newcomers remove the old ornamental screens, the ones with ornamental arcs or with down-pointing arrows, both in the Arts and Crafts style, or just the ones divided with mullions. When they go, a house loses one of its important accessories and appears to be partly unclothed. The next deed is usually to nail the windows shut and call in the security-alarm sellers.

Friday, March 18, 2005


This is a blue corner of one of the yards. In other corners, there is more yellow, and now the ranunculus flowers, all warm in tone, are beginning to open.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Color gamut

Now all the wild-hued tones in the yard are joined by the blue-white and blue-red of tulipa clusiana and by the gray-toned blue of ipheion for the first time. Out back there are more blue and more red anemones than ever before in any year, making some show when combined with the many variants on yellow, orange, and white, plus crimsons and fuchsias, against a background of white allium, red geraniums, and at least four sprawls of nasturtium, each a different color. Whether there'll be more Dutch tulips remains to be seen. Geranium narcissus is appearing, but there have been no signs of Thalia yet. Fennel and chile plants that came through the winter are showing new leaves. New nasturtiums germinated today. We have seen no pillbugs. The return of cooler weather is helping the long-timers last better than they otherwise might've. The one-dollar clematis has reappeared in both locations. Of the Dutch irises, only blue ones have thus far bloomed, and there was an additional appearance by some almost striped pink hyacinths. Fig leaves are well on their way. The last oak is beginning to rain down its last leaves and many are being carried away by the wind. There's no sense in erecting the screen tent until all leaves are down.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


When it comes to plumbing and older pipes, the advice is to use enzyme drain-cleaners. There was a while when one of the major brands was selling an oozy green product, easily found on supermarket shelves. Then it was not to be found. But Eco-Wise has an equivalent product to which water must be added. No home-brew has yet been mixed, but at least there's something available when needed. This establishment shares the old South Austin post office with Vulcan Video. The Guero's - Penn Field combo has plans for these businesses other than their remaining where they are. The most recent Texas Monthly even had a color ad touting the 1400 South Congress condominiums. Eco-Wise seems to be stocking more toys and games now that Terra Toys has left for parts more northern.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Tree lever

This was how a discarded carton was marked. I've never seen a tree lever in action or known that such an object exists. All I'd ever known about and seen were Peaveys and cant dogs (or hooks).

Monday, March 14, 2005

South by So What

Waiting in line has never been a pleasure. For the past two years, I've endured some of it anyhow, but not this time around. Each year it gets worse. The films that a person would want to see usually become available later on at some other screening. In past years, the short documentaries have been very enjoyable; nevertheless, no more lines!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Triple play

It's much better to see a movie on the big screen. Once in a while, though, it's necessary to resort to Vulcan Video and play stuff for viewing on the 13-inch television. The three most recently seen weren't recorded heretofore. Dodgeball was just what the doctor ordered: Ben Stiller was California-funny and Rip Torn did some scene-stealing. De-Lovely was a stinker in all sorts of ways, but it was show-bizzy, Kevin Kline was thoroughly professional with bad dialogue, and those tunes and lyrics just stay at the top of the mental playlist. Judd was not suited to the role, but she and Kline did dance well together. For some reason, we came in at the middle, not the beginning, but I recognized who all the characters were. It was a bit odd to make the Murphys so prominent. Later, I went back and watched from the beginning, just for the music, and found that the movie still stinks. Most of the modern interpretations of the songs fall short also. This music always brings many memories of RVH singing and playing the piano. It was funny that the actor cast as Gerald Murphy looked way more like the real Cole Porter, with his somewhat froggy visage. These songs are not meant to be so over-dramatized. My Neighbor Totoro was an unexpected pleasure. Too bad it was dubbed and perhaps had new music. To hear the original would be interesting. I love it that the cat-bus had so many legs.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Design icon of modern material culture

These items can be seen everywhere the world around. They first attracted my particular attention in photographs from Afghanistan. Dozens of people would be sitting on the ground, but these objects would be in use by people from elsewhere. They can be observed in photographs from Iraq. They have been noted in photographs from travel articles about China. They're made from "resin." "Plastic" is a word never to be seen where "resin" can be substituted. (In the same way "viscose" is apparently thought to be much more high-toned than Rayon or one of its analogues.) These articles of furniture are ubiquitous, also, in the movies, no matter what the location. The original was the Grosfillex Fidji (Fidji is the high-backed version, followed later by Miami, the low-backed one). Knockoffs are now everywhere. We use four of the genuine examples indoors, moving them from place to place as needed. They are very comfortable armchairs and nearly as good as cane-seated and -backed chairs for use in the worst of summer in this establishment without air-conditioning. Their light weight and ability to be stacked are attractive qualities also. As our old two-dollar plastic "Parsons" tables from Winn's meet with mishaps, we've been bringing in the Grosfillex "Miami" stacking tables also. Ideally, all furniture should be rollable or feather-weight, stackable, and capable of being cleaned by plain water straight from the garden hose. Upholstery has no place in this climate! For a while, at least, these products were available at AceMart restaurant supply. According to the Grosfillex FAQ, the commercial-grade versions are able to bear the weight of a 400-pound person. This French company has its USA operations based in Robesonia, Pennsylvania, in Berks County, the county famous for Lebanon bologna.

Friday, March 11, 2005


There's wind from the north or northeast, and the air smells dusty. The National Weather Service says nothing about this, but it's a fair bet that Austin's enjoying some of Lubbock's spring, or at least some airborne souvenir from the Panhandle.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Yard art

Thanks to all the speeders roaring by, we're acquiring a big enough collection of fallen license plates and flown-off spinner-wheels and hubcaps to begin constructing a Calderesque mobile to hang from the limb of some tree, one that will be very tall and very elaborate.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The spectrum

Out back is a riot of color: the White Flower Farm southern mix is really hopping now, with every sort of unnamed sharp yellow, two-tone yellow, white perianth with all sizes and colors of cups, yellow with long orange trumpets, and more, in all sizes and combinations. Alliums and leucojums are peaking. While anemones are now showing up in blue and pink to go with the white ones there all along. Florists' anemones are plain white, red with white, light and dark blue, and fuchsia, everywhere. So far there have been none of the bluish-white ones with blue-black in the middle. Thunbergia is blooming again. In the side yard are pink wood hyacinths, coming in as the blue ones are going to join the grape hyacinths. There are still hyacinths, side and front, but all various shades of blue or pink, with no white or creamy or buttery ones, at least so far. Asclepias puts forth new leaves, and the all-yellow one has not stopped blooming all winter. Thunbergia is blooming. Geraniums are top-heavy with red. There are now three colors of left-over nasturtiums in pots: buttery, brindled red-brown, and a semi-streaky orange. All these are the trailing kind. The flowering pear is coming along so that both it and redbuds will be showy and still without leaves together.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Not mania-inspiring

The surprise tulip bulbs from the market or wherever they were picked up, at least the ones in sudden bloom, are that square, boxy dusty rose-purple (Apeldoorn? Or maybe Apeldoorn are the showy ones and these are Darwin?). With luck there will be better colors to come. Red and yellow would be two good ones. Since they were picked up very late and had barely any fridge-chill time, who can quibble?

Monday, March 07, 2005

New in town

Lately there seem to be more blogs of disenchantment than of discovery when it comes to Austin. People are leaving or thinking of leaving (obviously they're not wedded to the food or the radio stations or low-cost, close-in events and living). So here's the arrival-blog of JNotJ. But this guy needs to update more frequently.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Cassette concert

On this great day for staying indoors and reading and listening to the rain, here's the music by which it will be remembered, dug out from the basket housing the Full Collection, which is not very large: started with a full and long James Brown collection that has the three best very early recordings, lots from the high point, and tons of funk still being sampled by hip-hop people; three collections of Trio Los Panchos; La Tropa F, including in particular Sin Aviso; an Intocable with several hits; Ramon Ayala with Arracame El Corazon, one of my top five RA favorites; a Delbert McClinton including favorites Shotgun Rider and especially Heartbreak Radio; Linda Ronstadt's first set of Canciones de mi Padre, not played for a long time, but still great; a good collection of Bobby Blue Bland, lacking only Dark End of the Street; a collection of non-corrido hits by Los Tigres Del Norte; and the first Jennifer y los Jetz, and Ven a Mi is as wonderful as ever and still recalls the horrible hot days and nights that the movie was being made around here. Most of these were acquired over at the funny place on Lamar that was supposedly in the video business but that had lots of cassette cutouts. The rest came from Maldonado's (now La Tejanita). If more are played, they will be added to this account later today.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Clearing space, clearing the head

Now that the accumulated issues of Tribeza and of Austin Monthly have gone to the Austin History Center and now that heads have been emptied of uncharitable thoughts and filled with rousing music by the Guard band from Camp Mabry and the Infantry Band from Fort Hood, there's really no reason to complain about this day, especially when four lively and brisk traverses of the length of Congress between Fourth and the Capitol are included.

Friday, March 04, 2005


If the thoughts turn uffish tomorrow, it'll be difficult to work up any enthusiasm for the Texas Independence Day parade. There's been no way to learn who'll be in it or how the rodeo parade, if there's going to be one this year, will affect it. K. is happy about letter of acceptance for publication and the fig tree is showing some green at the tips. How uffish can a person be?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A wonder

Today brought the first Lilac Wonder (tulipa bakeri). There are many more to come. They look their most amazing when the skies are overcast, not that they look bad when the sun's out. When there are clouds hiding the sun, the colors of these seem to jump and vibrate. Although they don't seem to increase, they do return faithfully year after year without any diminution.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

All from one little plant

Years ago a downtown hotel, then new, that has since changed names a time or two set out beds of cyclamen, pink and white. I had to look it up to see what these were. It was a year when there was at least a dusting of snow, and some very cold weather otherwise. They bloomed throughout the winter undisturbed. It was a display that in its own way rivaled the beauty of the astounding displays of wintertime snapdragons at the Alamo some years. This fall, a tiny pot of the bright pink cyclamen came home from Sledd's Nursery by the Kash-Karry. Why that color? We're not in general fond of white blooms and, as is true of blue or purple flowers, the deeper pink (puce or fuchsia) doesn't show up well from any great distance. It has never been transferred to a larger pot. It has beautiful variegated leaves. Since it has the sort of succulent stems that African violets do, all watering except that provided by nature has been from the bottom, so as not to touch the stems of the leaves and perhaps rot them. This pot, along with some Johnny jump-ups (violas) from the same source, has sat all winter long atop the table on the catio (neighbor cats like to peer in from it), just outside the dining-room French doors. The yard has been so redolent of hyacinths and narcissi that it was only in this damp weather that it became clear that the cyclamen has a scent of its own, and a very beautiful one. It somewhat resembles that of the freesia but with a spicy overlay.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Cascade Experiment

This book, found at the library on the return cart, is a selection from several volumes of poetry by Alice Fulton. It doesn't include any of the ones that have caught my eye when published in The New Yorker, but does contain some very atmospheric work. Most sites don't mention her age, but one does say that she was born in 1952. Enquiring minds want to know.