Saturday, March 31, 2007

Two H's gone

Another of the pioneers of a certain segment of the music business has left this earthly plane of existence: Hy Weiss of the Old Town and Barry labels. A lot of favorites were recorded and released on those singles. Harold Lipsius, whose Jamie and Guyden (and Phil-L.A. of Soul) and other labels grew out of his distributorship business, just died a bit earlier this month, also. I can't even find an obituary for him, just a mention in some Philadelphia news column. I hope somebody's out there interviewing these people while it's still possible. Duane Eddy, that influential musician and great favorite of teen-aged boys, who sold so many records but is seldom mentioned these days, recorded on Jamie before he was picked up by a bigger label.

And I don't even care that much for baseball

Today's WSJ asked former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent to name his five favorite books about the national pastime. I'm astonished to find that I've read three: The Glory of their Times, Highpockets (John R. Tunis), and Veeck as in Wreck. I loved The Glory of Their Times, and so did REH. Of course, I read a lot of Tunis books, because there were a lot of them. I haven't read the particular book named that's about the Black Sox and I don't much like George H. Will writing about anything that I can think of, so Men at Work I haven't read. I used to enjoy the baseball articles of Roger Angell, though (but I enjoyed Audax Minor on racing more). K. and I were just talking this week about the differences between APBA and Strat-O-Matic. Little as I've cared for baseball, if K. mentions a player from a certain era, I usually know with which team he's identified. But I never have been able to say which teams are in the American League and which in the National League.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Occupant propelled amusement device

It was as the above that the forerunner of the Wheel of Death was patented in 1953. Today's NYT has a wonderful feature explaining how these devices work. Even smaller circuses seem to travel with a version these days. A young Wallenda and Bello Nock will inaugurate a version that splits in two to revolve in two different directions ("With the Greatest of Ease," byline Glen Collins). The print version has excellent diagrams; on line there's an interactive explanation of some sort, but I won't be able to access it today. The article confirms that the performers are weightless at the top of the spin, something I've always wondered about. I prefer acts done for the beauty of the motion, not for their elements of daredevilry; this is one that's always frightening, in whatever version, especially when the performer leaves the relative safety inside the ring and goes out to work outside it. This show is the one that will come to Austin next summer, not this one.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


There are dozens and dozens of blue Dutch irises. There are just three yellow-and-white ones. There are dozens of ranunculus flowers, now in at least six colors. There are still dozens of St. Brigid anemones (those red and red-and-white ones) and dozens of anemones de Caen (fuchsia, greenish-white, blue-violet, and more). Alliums are past their peak. We found a couple of sweet peas, variety unknown, among the Wando vines. Very soon there will be at least one flower on one of the one-dollar clematis plants that we bought at Albertsons that time. Yellow milkweed is in bloom in pots and somebody is eating the leaves, but we haven't seen who's doing it. Somebody has started up a pond again, so we can hear frog songs. Yesterday morning I could hear a toad peeping but never did see him among the leaves. We are enjoying some sort of old-style narcissus, very small flowers, very white with very orange cups at the end of very long stalks; otherwise, apart from a few geranium narcissi, others are gone. Pink cyclamen in pots is blooming again and so are all the violas that reseeded themselves in various pots. The oak trees continue to behave as the individuals that they are: the pioneer has little left in the way of leaves to fall; the laggard is just beginning to drop leaves. Any day now, there will be pecan leaves or flowers or both. Ipheion is still with us. Some lantanas have leafed out; others haven't yet done so. Pink oxalis in the ground is happy; so are red geraniums in pots. We have more nasturtium flowers every day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is there any other kind?

What a concept: "organic maple syrup." Maple syrup that isn't something nasty and mostly corn syrup is going to be pure boiled-down evaporated sap, from pure Nature-grown sugar maple trees. I'd hate to think that there are any people out there tampering with their wood lots and sugar bushes with any kind of pesticide or other peculiar substance at all. Why would anybody? Because this has been such a terrible week so far, we treated ourselves to waffles with maple syrup this morning. It was a good way to use up aging milk and to appreciate that good dark amber syrup.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Peeling back the layers

K. once played on a team called the Onions. We were living in a place known in its original language as the equivalent of place of the (wild) onion. I once cleaned up big betting on a thoroughbred named Onion. I love it that the masthead of The Onion, now with an Austin edition, has many people named Zwiebel. I love it that there's an on-line dictionary that gives the proper German name for categories and categories of onion-related expressions, with a pronunciation. I love it that, besides meaning onion, die Zwiebel also means bulb.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Making an appearance

At last there are a few Tubergen's Gem flowers among the species tulips. They're sprawly but there. No camera ever captures the pink-red-brown on the outside of alternate petals. There are more and more blue Dutch irises. The first of the new nasturtiums are opening, also that cross between sulphur yellow and saffron yellow-orange. I'm happy to find more volunteering hyacinth beans.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Still waiting

The species tulips are not to be seen thus far. There are leaves, but of the three or four varieties that usually perform very well, we've seen just one example of one kind: a single Lilac Wonder (tulipa bakeri). Nothing in the side yard, apart from Dutch hyacinths, grape hyacinths, ipheieon, pink oxalis, and quite a few geranium narcissi, has done well so far this year. In Mack's yard, the show-stoppers these last few days have been bright sulphur or saffron-yellow ranunculous flowers along with the continuing red-orange ones; and the red and red-and-white St. Brigid anemones are still showy. And this has been the best year for Thalia in ages. Alliums are past their peak. Fennel wintered over in the ground has just been loving this weather. Milkweed (the plain yellow variety) in pots is about to bloom. Our neighbor's spirea is the most spectacular we've seen, just made for the overcast days we've been enjoying.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wanted: music

I used to own Slim Harpo's Te-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu, among others of his recordings. I think that SRV or Lou Ann Barton or both of them also recorded this song or used to include it in their set lists (turns out to be them recording together, two versions included in a 1977 release). The only Slim Harpo I can find these days is Scratch My Back. Anyhow, I heard Te-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu on the radio accompanied by a sort of combined Stax-Volt and original Slim Harpo bass line. And now I've learned that this is by Southern Culture on the Skids. Other recent detective work brought us to Diana Reyes, just missed at the rodeo (she was there on March 18). It's a shame that most radio stations don't bother to announce what they're playing. (We couldn't find Aire; Como una Mariposa was the song that helped us find her). I hope she brought a big banda and that there was a good turnout. Now if I could only find Ray Price singing ranchera songs. And we won't be able to get out to hear SCOTS at the Continental. The songs by a female vocalist backed by a banda that aren't by Diana Reyes turn out to be by Jenni Rivera. Now we know.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Tree lizards have far outnumbered anoles in recent years. Yesterday at suppertime, we saw our first lizard of the season, on a wall of the house at about head height. He may have jumped there from the lantanas. He was of a large-medium, not giant, size. We're still seeing grasshoppers, although small ones, light green, for the most part.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hi there

I get lots of e-mail from people I don't know, usually asking questions about Austin, but sometimes wanting comment extensively on some blog entry I've made. Some e-mail with the above heading or its variations (Hi, there! Hi! and more) are sent to the junk or spam folder automatically, not by me. I save them to open and then open them using various precautions. What's amazing is how often this heading is atop legitimate e-mail. Yet my first inclination is always to believe that mail with such a heading is spam. It would always be better if people were to furnish a useful subject heading. One of our oldest friends sends mail with no subject heading at all. If it came from a stranger, mail of this sort would be regarded with suspicion. I never remember to ask: does e-mail with a blank heading originate from a PDA or something? I'm never suspicious of e-mail headed with "Howdy!" but now that I've said I'm not, perhaps in the future I should be.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The next level in tissue

The brand of mouchoir that begins with the letter "k" and ends with an "x" has been experimenting with handsome packages of metallic foil paper. The first ones we bought had five-pointed stars with a nearly three-dimensional appearance. We bought every color and, although we did use the contents, we kept the boxes. Following the stars were cubical boxes, again with metallic foil, that used squares in the all-over design. Then came the stupendous oval cartons for the holiday season, again with foil, and this time with excellent three-dimensional effects of post-WWII metallic ball tree ornaments. We bought every color and those taken to work were much admired. We also bought every design in the oval-box series that was non-metallic, because the large-scale neo-tropical or sort-of-Hawaiian patterns were so handsome and also because I love chartreuse and purple. Now, it's design your own! Select background, select photo (use yours), select sentiment. I'm tempted. Thank you, Kleenex Kimberly-Clark people! Now, when I'm waiting or otherwise stuck and bored, I can add another mental project to the list of things to think about (domain names, silly titles for business cards, custom postage-stamp designs, and now custom Kleenex-box designs). There's even a site at which people show off their creations, searchable by tags.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Expressions from the inferno

These both really usually have to do with wild speeding or extreme behavior. I've always known a lot of people who like to indulge in one or the other. Some would say that wild speeding is extreme behavior. One expression is "bat out of hell," most commonly coupled with flying, riding, or driving like a." The other phrase is "hell-whooping," with the "wh" pronounced as an "h" and the final "g" usually dropped. "We went hell-hoopin' across those waves" or "they came down over that hill hell-whoopin,'" usually in a self-congratulatory (in the first person) or marveling (in the third person) way. Google books comes up with a use of hell-whoopin in a book called "Rim O' the World." Oddly enough, the reference is to riding hell-whooping through the sage. We used to beg adults to go hell-whooping. The book is a Western novel, copyrighted in 1919. The prolific author, one pseudonymous B. M. Bower, was a woman.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Batch two

Wando came through again, tasty and prolific, barely touched by the frost and also able to withstand the hot days we've had so far. The blossoms have been beautiful, showy and large, and the vines are tall. If we're lucky, there'll be a third batch. We've grown them all: Telephone, Little Marvel, Green Arrow, Lincoln, Laxton, and many more. We ate the first batch at breakfast; this time we picked in the morning and waited until supper.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The seen and the unseen

Nothing much is happening in the side yard: there's been one Lilac Wonder tulip, now lots of ipheieon; good grape hyacinths; Dutch hyacinths aplenty but they're now gone, and pink oxalis greatly enjoying the weather. The front yard still has leucojum and the last of the hyacinths. Alliums are a frothy presence everywhere in Mack's yard, probably at their peak and making a beautiful backdrop for purple and blue Dutch irises in profusion, blue-violet and greenish-white anemones at their peak, Sun Disk (Sun Disc) still producing, Ice Follies and Thalia still going strong, a couple of Geranium narcissi, anemones that are solid red and those that are red with white rings, and little cyclamineous flowers of various colors. We're seeing our first ranunculus flowers, red-orange. Unfortunately, today's the day when the Evil Ones inaugurate their leaf-blowers for the season, roaring and whining for hour after hour after hour of torment for those who hate them. So much for open windows and reading outdoors.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Garments on hangers and not

A letter to the editor in response to the coathanger article points out that hangers were quite the novelty in the early part of the twentieth century and that they were often given out as promotional gifts. The writer mentions that, before hangers became common, clothing was stored in drawers or on shelves in clothespresses or else on hooks. I've only lived in two houses, and this is not one of them, with closets wide enough to take hangers any way other than at quite an angle. These, and their hooks if they remain, antedate the predominance of hangers. The hooks usually remain in closets like these whether or not a rod for hangers was added later. People did not own many garments at one time, either. Hence the importance of removable shirt collars and cuffs, pinafores, aprons, and other means of prolonging their usefulness.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Why can't they all just get along?

Yahoo groups, having evolved from eGroups and, before that, OneList, dominates the world of neighborhood associations here in Austin. Periodically, one ISP or another will block mail from Ya-world, not accepting it at all, or shunting it into a junk or spam file. Why can't this be resolved? It's so stupid and wastes so much time. Most people do not understand what's happening. Many list-members also complain about something they've done themselves, which is to set their own anti-spam stuff in such a way that it's going to reject group e-mail. This week, the problem seems to be between Yahoo and Gmail, which is to say between Yahoo and Google. Just how many person-hours are spent on resolving these recurring nuisances?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Color scheme

These are the first ones open in a drift of blue-violet and greenish-white anemones. This was taken a couple of days ago and now many more white ones have opened up. Today brought our first Dutch iris flowers, very purple, and many more Ice Follies, late for them. Nearly all pear blossoms are down and so are more than half of the redbud flowers. Fig leaves are appearing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Just one billboard

There's supposed to be a two-day series of performances at Plaza Saltillo on March 17 and 18 or something like that. The tag is "Tejano vive," but I can't find out anything about it. I think there's a billboard by Fiesta that's been up for a while. Note to self: check this out.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Flying high

Mighty Thomas is in town down at the Toney Burger Center through March 19. Please, please, please let there be time for me to get there and enjoy some accelerated exhilaration!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sly as ever

Business Week devotes an entire page to Sly and the Family Stone, Sylvester Stewart in particular ("Just as Sly As He Ever Was"), now that at last a remastered version of all the Epic recordings has been released on CD. The author does not overlook Sly's accomplishments as a composer and producer. This music is probably second only to that of James Brown in being frequently sampled. I'm glad to have heard this music live so many times. People always had a crush on Sly or on Cynthia or on both.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Heat wave

A too-warm day takes its toll on spring flowers. This is a clump of Sun Disc (Sun Disk) a little curly around the edges already and therefore losing the circle effect that the perianth had when the flowers were new. This morning our first Lilac Wonder tulip was open. Hyacinths of a third shade of blue have appeared. One rose of sharon is leafing out. This morning at breakfast we feasted on English peas from the yard.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Grounds patrol

The first Thalia opened between dusk and dawn. Flower Record is offering a few return blooms. We buy some of these from time to time but they seldom return for us as they do for some others around here. Now, we're seeing lots of blue and white anemones de Caen. A new round of hyacinths, pink, is open in Spike's corner. Leftover geraniums are loving this weather. This morning brings the very first ipheieon. Oak leaves are falling out front, but not elsewhere yet.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Coming on strong

Allium isn't even halfway toward its peak yet, but there are enough flowers to make beautiful backdrops for all the daffodils, narcissi, and jonquils. This morning we saw Baby Moon for the first time this season. We've been enjoying Minnow and Sun Disk (or Sun Disc). There are no good on-line pictures of Baby Moon; few capture the color and not one captures the scale, delicate and small. One catalogue describes the way in which Sun Disc blooms change in color somewhat as the days go by, just as those of Ice Follies do, but I don't find good pictures of Sun Disc. The stems are proportionately tall. This one has multiplied like crazy since last year.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

New this morning

The grape hyacinths are beginning to open. So are leaves on the ornamental pear tree.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Low on 'jums

Our next-door neighbor is doing best with them, but we're a little low on leucojums this year. Maybe it was a lack of rain somewhere along the line.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Simultaneous splendor

The redbuds are in full glory and they're matched in bloom by the ornamental pear tree. They don't bloom contemporaneously some years, and there are years when the leaves are out before the blossoms are on the pear tree. I haven't seen many honeybees in them this year.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Every hyacinth that has opened so far is still open, although the very first ones of the season, one of the blue shades, has grown tall and flopped over to touch the ground. We've now seen two shades of blue, two shades of pink, and some creamy pale yellow ones. There seem to be more on the way, but the waxy buds don't always reveal what the color when open is to be. They're not my favorite, but they do scent the air on mornings when it's damp. Is the scent stronger when it's dark?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Up again

Replanted nasturtiums are appearing in pots and in the ground to replace those that were frost-killed. Pumpkin seeds from the jack-o'-lantern have germinated again, replacing the first two batches that died back in the cold. Roses continue to burst forth with new leaves. I don't know how they've survived. For at least a year, something has been consuming every leaf just as soon as it appears. There are pods on the English peas, but there's nothing yet to fill them out.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


I think it's neat that the version of Mansfield Park (Norton Critical Edition) that we found upstairs in the main library actually contains the play that's performed in the novel (Lovers' Vows). This, I've never seen before. Our old paperback is very crumbly and I will always try to save wear and tear on clothbound editions of the World's Classics by OUP, when they were tiny and printed on Bible or India paper and some had a ribbon bookmark. Some of the dust jackets on these volumes have disappeared; some are in bad shape; a few are almost like new.

Friday, March 02, 2007


Some lawns are green because of weeds. We always pull ours out or dig them out with one of those notched hand implements. A few wild carrots and sometimes a "stickywood" or two come to us courtesy of the wind and neighbors. What lawn we have is still dormant and that makes the flowers blooming everywhere on it appear all the brighter against its backdrop.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Tuff to find

The almost generic name for a plastic pot scrubber or plastic scouring ball used to be "Tuffy." They became difficult to find. Then we used to find a little stack of scrubbers in a mesh bag; there'd be an orange one, a yellow one, and a green one. I can't remember who packaged these, but I once saved the cardboard atop the packaging because I liked the graphics. Our most recent acquisition was a pair of "kitchen scrubbers" from Quality Mop & Broom of Humble, Texas. The contents of this "2 pk." are made in Mexico and are intended "for pots and pans, tableware, etc." and are "not recommended for delicate surfaces." I'm not the one who needs these items; I keep my own cast-iron cooking vessels seasoned very well.