Monday, July 31, 2006

Equine dreams

Nights when the race meeting isn't floating around in my dreams these days, rodeos are. The rodeo should be about a month from today.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


This was finally found; we had thought it had two "e" letters. Was there a Quevic bird? This is because of dreams of the race meeting.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Somebody sure likes potatoes

We've found three more, each one gnawed but not consumed. Two were along the top of the fence and one was on the ground near a fence, so maybe it had been aloft but had fallen down.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Who likes potatoes?

We toss sprouted and moldy Irish potatoes into cool corners of the compost bin, where in good time they produce potato flowers and eventually potatoes, which come true and tasty as replicas of the tubers originally bought at the South Congress farmers' market. We don't usually bother to retrieve the new potatoes, but last night somebody did. Atop a run of the hardware-cloth fence there was a very large potato, or about half of it. To what creature was this attractive, when all attention seems turned these days to tomatoes, cucumbers, and lantana berries?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

First in ages

There was a green anole atop a fencepost near the cucumbers going up the tomato cage. These have pretty much given way to fence lizards. We miss our world of anoles.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

For viewing from afar

Some wardrobe items are no longer fit for close visual inspection. They're too useful to throw away and they're good enough for yardwear, with no tears or holes in those strategic locations, but they're not suitable for viewing by those not members of the household. The trick is not to venture where one shouldn't when one is clad in what's not quite a rag.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


As our various wild sunflowers form seedheads, they attract more and more doves and entire cardinal families. There are carpets of seedhulls on the ground. The mockingbirds spend their time with lantana berries.

Monday, July 24, 2006

FIFO intentions

The pantry is now rearranged for optimal first-in, first-out inventory (or should we say "supply-chain") management. I hate it when some commodity is restocked when there's no need and when some canned good must be tossed because the expiration date has passed. Waste is criminal. I note that, when the temperature goes up, the rate of consumption of baking powder declines. After enjoying the cheapo breakfast option at Four Seasons, I can declare that the biscuits there, although very nice, do not compare in lightness and flakiness to those at the Frisco. I don't like cream (the advent of homogenized bottled milk was wonderful!), but I was surprised that nobody was taking advantage of the biscuits, generous selection and supply of berries, and provision of cream to make themselves up some berry shortcakes.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunny times two

Concidentally, Amor de mis amores, Key-Loc KL-3030 (Manny R. Guerra), recorded in San Antonio, copyright 1980, was on the turntable when I came to the Chron article about Sunny Ozuna. This is classic Tejano. Only Sunny is photographed and there are no credits for the Sunliners or any other accompaniment. This is not synthesized. It came, I'd bet, from Maldonado's record shop on East Seventh (later La Tejanita). These are slow, dramatic numbers, including a couple of familiar ranchera songs, for the most part, and his vocals and phrasing are understated (there's nothing resembling a Jay Perez production here).

Saturday, July 22, 2006

No movies, but plenty of dining

Even though the dining is really for refueling, we've been having fun. This working session means no movies this weekend. I'm skipping the Katz's and maybe one of the other meals. Finding a supper or dinner on an amateur night in this town is a real problem without reservations these days. Luckily, someone was inspired to think of Cafe Josie, new to all of us (not the locale, just the establishment). There was a table (just luckily) available. Until the crowd thinned, the acoustics were not as preferred. We're lucky to have so much within walking, bus-riding, and five-minute-drive distance. I was sad to miss Johnny Gimble, though. Everything just ran too late.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Neat heaps

If there's no better result from tidy-work in anticipation of company, at least there are those, particularly when it comes to periodical reading material. It's real weight-training to take these heaps upstairs and out of sight. I want to get to the second part of Happyland. K. is rereading Nicholas Nickleby for the umpteenth time but hasn't yet come again to the Infant Phenomenon.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Never the credit deserved

Styles of musical arrangement change over time. I particularly dislike the over-bright and -brassy orchestral arrangements of the 1950s, for instance, with that little touch of Aaron Copland crossed with an influence of Stan Kenton. I've never loved the voice of Vicente Fernandez, but he has an impeccable touch in selecting music and the arrangements are always sumptuous, no matter what the style: banda, mariachi, orchestra, or any combination of the foregoing. I used to buy these albums at J.R. Reed music downtown, which also stocked lots of vocal music of every sort, including albums of lieder. Columbia International DIL-80504 (Mientras Ustedes No Dejen De Aplaudir) is from 1990, though, and I think that the store was gone from Congress by then. This is out on CD. I think that Sed was the biggest hit from this recording. I see that the CD contains the tracks from another album and so includes the Payaso song, probably the version with the demented laughter.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Fig brigands

Last night there were figs everywhere. This morning there was one, undoubtedly overlooked for some reason, because all others had vanished. Foxes? Opossums? Raccoons?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Redbird repast

Cardinals have been feasting on lantana berries and on the seeds of wild sunflowers. Now we have observed entire families partaking of the contents of redbud seedpods. This is news to us.

Monday, July 17, 2006


This heat is finishing off the last of the bachelor buttons (cornflowers; centaurea). I'd never have expected them to last so long, but they're within the shadow of the remaining pecan tree. Plumbago is producing some blue flowers, but the plant was a quarter loser and we planted it at the oak motte, so it has never been profuse in its blooms. Blues-related is that I can't find my Albert Collins and Albert King albums, of which I have many. I particularly want to play Frosty and Born Under a Bad Sign. I know that I didn't sell these, so they'll reappear in their own good time. I want to hear Cross Cut Saw, Laudromat Blues, Personal Manager, and Pretty Woman again. Why did cousin B.B. get all the attention? Albert played guitar just as well and had that ethereally and surpassingly beautiful floaty voice. I still love the Stax album cover. "They" sell frames these days meant to accommodate LP albums.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Up close at the circus

We're so glad that we caught Circo Hermanos Vazquez. I wrote about it over at Austin Metblogs. How do the costumes stay to immaculate? Our matinee was no perfunctory performance; all gave it their everything. As always, we loved the photo-taking opportunities offered, for a price, to the audience, including all the kids. I wanted to get a good photo of the paletero crowd, but didn't manage to.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Favorite fan

It's a Duracraft with one set of large blades, not one of those less tall ones with two sets of much smaller blades. It moves a lot of air. And it's quiet. We bought two at the time, probably over a decade ago. We should have bought more, because we've never seen them again. Last summer, we thought one had quit working. When we were searching the sleeping porch for more fans this weekend, we found the large one not used last year and brought it out to try one more time before disposing of it. The control had been lodged between intake and exhaust. It works perfectly well. Even though it has been in service for just one year less than the other one just like it, it's clean. The one used last year is filthy. This is just another indicator of the drastic change in Austin air quality over the last year and a half or so.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Note to self: angel department

Without air-conditioning, it's really not a good idea to remove certain paper items from their storage, but, when it's possible, I must scan in portions, or at least transcribe, the music for There's an Angel Missing from Heaven (She'll be Found Somewhere Over There). I think that this is one that we did keep. It's too big to fit on the scanner plate, though. When there's a low-humidity day, I want to dig out those post cards from the Pershing expedition and some other stuff for scanning. Some of these, as I recall, are actual photographic prints. Some locales are labeled (e.g., Brownsville, as I recall) and others are not (campsites, cooking pots, canvas tents, etc.).

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Recorded live in Austin

Waylon Live was also recorded live partly in Dallas, but which tracks are which is not reported. The 1974 Austin venue was the Opry House. This is RCA APL1-1108. Ralph Mooney on steel really brings out the yips and cheers from the audience. The eleven tracks on this vinyl are T for Texas, Rainy Day Woman, Me and Paul, The Last Letter, I'm a Ramblin' Man, Bob Wills is Still the King; Pick Up the Tempo, Good Hearted Woman, House of the Rising Sun, Me and Bobby McGee, and This Time. The Austin intro is on side two, which contains the tracks above following the semicolon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Continuing in existence

The Ramex Records label, according to the governor's on-line directory of record labels, lives on in Houston, and at the same address. Conjunto Los Intocables (L.P. 1112) is still a pleasure to hear. I think this one came from Woolworth's at Sixth Street downtown. There's even a Ramex presence at CD Universe. From the publisher credits, it appears that this group was licensed from some Mexican record label.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A found notelet

Since I don't have a good copy of InfoSelect or of OneNote or EverNote or anything like that, I'm plagued by scraps of paper bearing cryptic scribbles. One finally deciphered has to do with the current laws on brand registry. This was from the time that the Texas Ranch (or whatever it was called) PBS pseudo-reality show was on. I wanted to find out whether county clerks are still the recorders of cattle brands. Evidently, they are. I haven't taken time to check, but I bet that the registration fee is set by state law and that all the brand and livestock-marking statutes are in the Agriculture Code. The Travis County Clerk charges $16. Some information will be buried at the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association site.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Cause for alarm?

It wasn't just that we recognized the song after the first few bars; it was that we knew what movie it came from (Fanaa) and could visualize the scene. This means two things: (1) this is music with a real hook; and (2) those Bollywood movies burrow right into some primitive part of the brain. We were listening to Surabhi yesterday, which we do when we're around and think of it. The DJs rotate, and some we like more than others.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Work hankies

That's what we called them. They were blue. Or they were red. The sizes were 22 inches and 27 inches, the larger preferred. Every manufacturer had its own paisley design. They were always around the house. I always had lots from that stock. Now, they're bandannas, or even sometimes bandanas. Oddly, they never seemed to fade, but they did wear out. Then I used to find them at Gellman's at Sixth and Brazos, or at the Army-Navy store downtown on Congress, which also sold used clothes, although they were never described as such. For years, one of my favorite T-shirts came from there and had a snarling bobcat on the front (from San Marcos State). Maybe some of the items that appeared to be used were just overruns or misprints from screen-printing shops. Now, at last, even my Austin Army-Navy hankies are getting thin. Sometimes I'm able to pick one or two up at Slack's Riverside Chevron. They're a very skimpy 22 inches or so. I'm often in the habit of carrying one with me in case I need a headband or an emergency leash for a stray or, knotted criss-cross at opposite corners, a sort of carry-tote for items like sunglasses that nobody wants to crunch because because they've been forgotten in a pocket somewhere. The ones at the Chevron are Have-A-Hank, Carolina Manufacturing, which does a big line in C.S.A. items, I see. They rely a lot on sizing for body until it's all laundered out. Back when there were more parades, there used to be numbers of vendors who sold novelty items along the route, such as whirly toys, cotten candy, and even Texas-flag bandannas. We sometimes found these hankies at Winns variety store at Twin Oaks. Every time we go to Callahan's, this is one item we forget to look for.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

From the beginning

From the beginning, I loved The Miracles: Greatest Hits from the Beginning, Tamla 254, two long-playing records and 22 songs, not one of which would I wish to be without. It's monaural, but that doesn't matter. Record two, side 2, has a complete sequence that's just as it should be: Shop Around, Way Over There, I've Been Good To You, Would I Love You, I'll Try Something New, and What's So Good About Goodbye. All the words to all 22 songs are still in my head.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Circus to circo

On a run for Spanish-language newspapers, it was learned that Circo Hermanos Vazquez is heading this way. It even has a corporate sponsor: Telefutura and all the Unvision radio stations, including La Ley. It will be here for five days only: July 14 through July 18, with two shows on weekdays and an additional matinee show on Saturday and Sunday (3:00, 6:00, and 8:30 pm). The place is back on the southside, at "Pleasant Valley Park," probably right where that water-treatment plant was secretly planned to be. We first saw this circus when it was truly under canvas; now, it seems to have acquired one of those Ringling plastic tents developed for the short-lived Kaleidoscape one-ring experiment. We ran across Circo Vazquez up north by the new Crockett Center the first time it toured with this new tent. With a coupon (on counters in tiendas around town), one child under the age of 8 will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult (bleacher seats only; not good on Saturday or Sunday).

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The melon whisperer

So, if there are horse whisperers and dog whisperers, why can't I be a melon whisperer or a cucumber whisperer? After all, these cucurbits are my trainees. I love to see them shooting right up and, with a bit of human direction, attaching themselves fast to tomato frames and hardware-cloth fencing. Maybe I should take them all the way back to 1964 and play Twine Time (Alvin Cash and the Crawlers) for encouragement.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Melon balls

All the seeds from the cantaloupe bought at the South Congress farmers' market germinate, whatever variety that is. It's one that smells more of citrus than of musk. We dump the seeds into any pot that has soil in it but nothing growing at the moment. These will never make melons, but they do make a beautiful mound of greenery in each pot. Just as chile plants do and just as my trainees do, they possess a beauty that's independent of any culinary product that may result. We're seeing lots more hummingbirds this week, very busy at the Turk's caps in particular. The wild sunflowers are setting their first seeds and are very attractive to all the seed-eaters.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Twenty sides

We'd already listened to a lot of The Complete Sousa Marches (Detroit Concert Band under the baton of Leonard Smith) before the mystery fireworks began. After we could see no more we came indoors and listened to the rest of this music. I'm sure that these tracks were recorded in one run-through and without much care (the percussion is too much in the background), but the result is a wonderful treasure, and the brief annotations in the accompanying material are very informative. This boxed set of vinyl is copyright 1982, BOMC 51-6574. A CD version has been issued and appears to be available. We thought of the many times we have heard the band from Camp Mabry.

Monday, July 03, 2006

"Walk with me, not on me"

"Stereo Effect Reprocessed from Monophonic Remastered by Don Miller." I Guess I'm Crazy (For Loving You) still receives airplay. Porter Wagoner Country is the title of this very short RCA Camden album, CAS-2478. No sidemen are credited here, but the steel player is tops. I love I've Enjoyed About as Much of This as I Can Stand. The fiddle and steel interludes on I Went Out of My Mind are superlative. Earlier Porter Wagoner sometimes sounded very much like Hank Williams. Tricks of the Trade is a Hank-like song treated in a Hank-like way. I Wonder Where You Are Tonight is another favorite, with twin fiddles and steel. This continues to be covered. Johnny Bond wrote it. Hank Snow is among those who recorded it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Fire and rain

That's what Sweet Baby James should have been called. Fire and Rain is the immortal song. Again, this is a crack production, with the very best session musicians. I was surprised to note that Carole King was on piano. James Taylor has a noncommital but serviceable voice; his guitar work is way more than competent; he has written some songs that still live. This is WB 1843.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Ringo of country music

Porter Wagoner calls Dolly Parton that in the course of the interview printed on the back of RCA Camden ACL1-0307, Mine. Dolly penned every song on this short promotional album, except for When Possession Gets Too Strong (co-credit: Owens), which is probably the best known. Most of them are weepies. My favorite is the title: "He's given to her what was supposed to be mine."