Sunday, July 31, 2005

Grooving the night away

Today's NYT book-review section contains a mean-spirited review by Joe Queenan of a mean-spirited book. The book is The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President, by one Edward Klein. The sentence from the book quoted in the review that caught our eye is: "Bill and Hillary often grooved the night away at Cozy Beach, spinning the latest Jefferson Airplane platters." It should be "Cosey Beach." There is apparently an entire chapter (chapter 10) called "Grooving at Cozy Beach." Cosey Beach is in the Momauguin section of East Haven. It's a very short stretch of Connecticut on the sound and was at one time quite a tough neighborhood, though now the riffraff inhabitants have no doubt been removed for the greater convenience of their betters. Momauguin was a trolley-car resort for people from New Haven, just a short ride to the beach on the electric railway. Streets were Cambridge Court, Jamaica Court, Cosey Beach Avenue. The Airplane would have been a bit passé for the law-school class of '73, unless these people were really retro before their time.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

From the shelves

So we went to the new Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress expecting to see what wines and beers are stocked. Those aren't there yet. Homegrown bouquets were there, the dairy cases were full, the produce was obviously fresh this very morning. It's great to know that El Galindo is prominent. There's even a little twirling rack of cards and stationery. Kliban cats and reproductions of Thiebaud pastry paintings were noted. Kahlua chocolate won't be bought again. Scharffen Berger mocha will. The Kahlua bar was too sweet. I'm not sure how well I like the gritty particles (ground coffee beans?) in the Scharffen Berger, but the chocolate is rich and delicious.

Friday, July 29, 2005


The light has changed; things smell different. Fall is on its way, even though there's still la canicula to be endured. Spirits are lifting already, and we have oxblood lilies on the way any day now. Or at least we can start looking for them.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Fox in view

Just around eight o'clock tonight, while we were sitting out in the side yard, the fox came through the yard, trotsy-trotsy, whether a dog or vixen we don't know. There was still enough light to see most of the color. We underwent a good solid minute of scrutiny and then the scrutineer trotted away.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Frizzled and frazzled

Some of the nasturtiums in pots are nearing the end. Those holding up best are the pale-yellow trailing variety. But new seedlings are volunteering in every pot. We consider ourselves fortunate that July is already over, for all practical purposes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


The original Social Security card is in these hands. It's several designs ago and several name-versions ago, but it's the original, with a signature in washable blue ink, fountain pen, stub nib, very broad. It's not even smeared. But the card of someone else is gone, and these days it seems best to be armed with the full panoply of paper-bits. The Web is Wonderful. All information about obtaining a replacement card is on line, including a printable application form. Luckily, Austin has a local Social Security office. Unfortunately, the clerks, though pleasant and helpful, are really over-burdened. There are not enough chairs. People waiting kindly allocate the too-few seats to the elderly and those with babes in arms and clinging toddlers. It's a take-a-number place. The security person reported that the lines begin forming an hour and a half before the doors open in the morning. So this is just another starved government service.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Time follies

Extending daylight savings time is a bad, bad idea. The cows don't like it. We're on the wrong edge of the Central zone here, so that the heat of the day lasts more than it does on the eastern edge. This means that those with air-conditioning are not abed and are cooling themselves for more hours than they otherwise would. All press mention of darkness in the morning has touched on schoolkids, but morning darkness is bad for all those walking or waiting for the bus, not just kids. Who comes up with these ideas? Probably the same people who think that Social Security retirement age should be postponed, the same people who know nothing about jobs that make heavy physical demands on people.

Books about books

Instead of acquiring and keeping full sets of the fiction in the various canons, our library buys books of criticism or biographies of the authors whose books are not on the shelves. At least, though, for the most part, the Library of America is being acquired as published. Two volumes of Edith Wharton short fiction are providing pleasure here these days. She was prolific. Since I don't read additional matter (forwards, chronologies, commentaries, and the like) until the book has been read, I don't know whether the place of original publication of these pieces is shown. Some of them are "ladies' magazine fiction," though of a rather high order; some of them are very Jamesian. I'm still in volume one.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Powdery mildew

This pest is probably going to take down our "Little Dillicious" cucumbers. They're growing in pots and are from a free seed packet tossed in with our most recent Burpee seed order. The vines have been very pretty, with lots of flowers and tendrils, reminding one of the old packaging for Caswell-Massey cucumber emulsion. The cucumbers have been juicy and tasty, with a lovely aroma. They're still producing new leaves as fast as the oldest ones are going.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Elusive refill

For certain purposes, we've come to be rather fond of a writing implement called Sanford Pilot Vision Elite. The cap has a colored tip and there are portholes along the side. In fact, it's all rather like a 1966 Cadillac. But OfficeMax, where the pens are acquired, doesn't carry refills, not on line and not in catalogues. Seeing that Office Depot does show them on line, we hit the one on South Lamar, where we used to go before defecting to the OfficeMax on Lamar. Refills were in stock, although not in both sizes and not for all colors. In fact, although the pens are made in colors in addition to the classic blue, blue-black, black, and red, it doesn't appear that refills for the additional colors are out there anywhere. Office Depot is no longer open 24 hours a day. As with OfficeMax, the staff is young and personable. Computers and cameras are displayed in a better, more inviting fashion at Office Depot. We still miss G&L, VB&J (or whatever the magic combination of letters was), because that store showed practically every Crane and Eaton paper item, along with an amazing proliferation of writing instruments from the world over, all of which could be tried before purchase. Just as Night Hawk's downfall was to build a new structure, so was the stationery store's. Embassy Suites is atop the old location, and the paleta place is among the new occupants of the store that didn't last.

Friday, July 22, 2005

All caught up

So it's Consumer Reports that gets read last. Only the merest nod in passing is given by CR to non-power lawnmowers, but at least some attention is paid to the noise factor. What's astonishing is that mowers are barely noisy at all when compared with leaf-blowers. The whiny, piercing under- and over-tones of electric equipment aren't even worthy of mention. No wonder people are going deaf or losing significant hearing at earlier ages.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

At the fountain

The new TexMo has an appreciation of the cherry lime. I've never downed one, but K. knows and appreciates them. I used to like a non-carbonated lime rickey. Carbonation is not appealing. We never had carbonated drinks when we were kids, except for sips of ginger ale when we were ill, and that didn't appeal, hot tea being preferred.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


There's insufficient attention paid to the proper and painless drawing of blood. We just read a first-person account of training to do this that was very interesting (TLS? LRB?). Anyone who presents a difficulty in these situations truly appreciates that rare person who can draw swiftly, without repeated attempts, and with as little fuss as possible.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hummingbirds abound

Some people complain that they haven't seen hummingbirds at their feeders this year. It must be that they're looking at the wrong time. Or is it that the birds prefer Nature's offerings to a feeder? I wonder. We're seeing them everywhere, often two, and sometimes even three, at a time. As always, first choice in the yard is Turk's cap.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Why sales of CDs are falling, part 2

This medium is losing ground to digital files downloaded one at a time to be heard on MP2 players. And why should anyone pay for a long list of recordings, many of dubious value or no interest, when only one item is wanted. One downloadable song is the equivalent of a 45rpm single of days gone by. There are decent compilations on CD by artists such as Otis Redding or some on the old Fania label; we see them at the drugstore, for sale very cheaply, where we go for our junky magazines in Spanish.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Why sales of CDs are falling

There aren't many people remaining who are willing to invest the time necessary to open the case for the first time after purchase.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Coffee available?

This is difficult to believe, but the August issue of New Mexico magazine reports that those passing through Ramah are able to buy a cup of coffee these days. There's now reported to exist an El Morro Area Arts Council and an El Morro RV park and cafe. Establishments mentioned in the article are Oso Vista Ranch, Cimarron Rose, Tinaja Trading Post and Cafe (!), and Stage Coach Cafe.

Friday, July 15, 2005


It's never on the radio that a good song is heard for the first time these days; it's always heard floating out from an open car or truck window. At last I know what this one is: "Hollaback Girl," by Gwen Stefani. There's a "media player" link that gives the entire song. This little item has a hook that catches the ear right away.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

POTS out

We've been seeing power brown-outs from time to time over the past couple of weeks (dimming lights, slowing fans), although the local daily has reported nothing of this. It was worst before last week's storm and also on the evening of the Glorious Fourth, probably from people arriving home and hitting the a.c. But tonight's telephone outage was the first we've had in years, except for very brief no-dialtone periods when people have been tinkering with the lines out on the easement.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Anole absence

Over at USENET austin.gardening, the dearth of anoles has been noted, although nobody has advanced the theory that the lizards seen in growing numbers are dominant in the niche and even consume anoles.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


The cantaloupes from the South Congress Farmers' Market have been primo. We've been having fun planting the scooped-out seeds. Every one seems to sprout, and soon. The plants are very ornamental and any new green thing is a pleasure to see during this heat.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Out on the catio we've been keeping two plant coasters, a small terra-cotta one and a large plastic one, filled with clean water. Some birds drink and some bathe and some do both. Through the French doors, we've seen several different jays, a couple of titmice, our cardinal pair, and many wrens. Every morning, we find them empty: foxes, opossums, raccoons? During the day, squirrels drink and then stretch out belly-down to cool themselves on the shaded flagstones.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Just inside the door

On the floor and visible from the artfully painted window, there's a very handsome small red-and-gold temple or shrine in active use at the very busy nail salon in the Twin Oaks shopping center. This we saw when acquiring some muslin from The Fabric Shop to help shade the screen pavilion in the yard from the low western sun.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Because there's no air-conditioning

We took a pair of never-worn shoes to Golden Slipper. The dessicant in the box and the tissue hadn't been enough to ward off mildew. GS makes no great promises, but anything will be an improvement. Only Soup Peddler (now taking a summer break) and Sharp's Locksmith, which has been there forever, remain. At least one of the vacant locations, by the looks of it, is soon to re-open, perhaps as a coffee establishment or tacqueria. One year when we went to Mexico, we didn't leave the transoms open, and the air inside the house was quite musty.

Friday, July 08, 2005


John Irving, Sean Penn, and Ed Ruscha bear some degree of likeness to one another facially, the latter two in particular. This has something to do with pointy features. I love the two gas-station books, though I own neither. I do own Los Angeles at 25 Miles an Hour, or something like that, obviously inspired by the other two. An interviewer asked Ruscha this question: "What kind of car would you like to see brought back from the '60s or '70s?" His answer is the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. I like no cars from the '70s. If it had to be the '60s, then I'm still not sure. From the '50s, though, I'd pick a 1955 Cadillac, a 1957 Pontiac, a 1957 DeSoto, an immediate post-war Studebaker, a Packard Clipper, and many, many more.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Indiana Frusk and cherry bounce

K., to whom it's new, has been reading aloud large chunks from The Custom of the Country. I'm astonished at how much I remember. We also read that someone mentioned in print subscribes to 50 magazines. In this house, and we've been doing some cutting back, the number is 38. After reading how much the average American household is reported to spend on a combination of cellphone and cable services, there's no reason for us to feel that we're overdoing it in the magazine department. We get comped on some, and we spend nothing on cable or on mobile phones.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

For all your stingy-brim needs

While trying to find stuff for the Parque Zaragoza puro conjunto series, I noticed a link from the Los Pinkys site, to an outfit called A Handsome Image, on South First. If the website's up to date, straw stingy-brims are now on sale. Also purported to be sold there are guayabera and Habana shirts, plus some flashy Stacy Adams items.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

So they say

"Love Is Strange" is an all-time favorite song. I don't think that the original was on their label, but Mickey and Sylvia owned All-Platinum Records and ran the label out of New Jersey. Anyhow, in Saving Face, there's a novel take on this song at a slow tempo, by one Leona Naess.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Trees got in the way

We could see very little of the fireworks display. There wasn't anything terribly concussive to be heard around here and there's been no notices of runaway dogs on the neighborhood listserv.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Movie escapes of a high order

Shah Rukh Khan and everybody else delight in Paheli. While we were waiting for Saving Face to begin, we wandered into Pier 1. There were attractive hand-embroidered textiles from Rajasthan there. In the enjoyable comedy of manners Saving Face, the language was Mandarin, not Cantonese, and all was very NYC, which made it even better.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


They're swelling and growing ever larger. We always think of old Mrs. H. when the figs are ready. She always asked for them in order to make preserves. Sometimes she even beat the jays and other creatures to them. When we were looking for another receipe altogether, it seemed that every Texas cookbook had one for fig preserves.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Carnivores must indulge

Whole Foods is always very mysterious and never admits that it may never again stock those beautiful lamb round steaks from New Zealand, so rich in flavor and redolent of herbs, probably wild thyme. So we tried a sirloin from Central Market, cut into steaklike form. It, too, was delicious, but just doesn't have that extra something special that the other did. Maybe it'll be necessary to break down and be wasteful and buy a leg of lamb or some chops at WF. The beautiful thing about those round steaks was that there was absolutely no waste at all.