Friday, August 31, 2007

Callooh! Callay!

It is indeed a frabjous day, because it appears that the new source of income, steady, will work out. Too bad it's not going to work out so well for the Tumtum tree and that all will not be so tulgey as it once was.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


So I've been asked to give permission for this photo to be considered for inclusion in Schmap Austin. I said yes, but I wonder why this picture. All my photographs are taken either with a Concord Mini Eye-Q or with a JamCam. The results are always unpredictable in either case. The Concord doesn't give you what is seen in the viewer, but even so, I love it and can't believe these are going for just 99 cents on eBay. The red in this mural was the dark, murky color of old-fashioned velveteen ribbons; I think it was the time of day, but I didn't alter anything about it.
I like this more recent Mexic-Arte mural better, anyhow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Passing strange

A personable neighborhood cat wore a collar, then wore no collar, then sported one labeled "safe cat" that carried three tags, and then went back to no collar. For two weeks or so, there was no collar. Then, we found the missing collar open, on the ground, in our yard, complete with tags. Whether the wind blew it down from one of the trees or whether someone found it and threw it over the fence will never be known. Ponder Lee, also known as Haxley, isn't saying. The collar is back on and there's again a jingle as our four-footed friend approaches to join the evening social circle under the trees.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A second one

So there'll be at least one more hurricane lily / spider lily / lycoris radiata. It will be very close to the first one, a great location, because at around suppertime a beam of light falls right there, just like a spotlight, and visible from several windows.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The sought has been found

Using "Coney Island" as a search term never finds this modern photograph taken with an antique camera and developed on the spot, in the old-fashioned way, but I just knew I had uploaded it and I found it purely by chance. "Not a snapshot" is what I should be remembering. I don't ever want to lose the URL for this in case the original (larger than this image) or the locally stored scan ever meets with a mishap.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Letters to the editor

There's a move for publications to print only excerpts of letters sent by readers or even to print excerpts from e-mails and blogs on subjects related to or commenting on a given article or feature. I like to read letters in their entirety (or at least complete and as tidied up by the editors or "edited for brevity" as some say). Here's a nice phrase: "long-ingrained dysfunctional patterns of behavior and communication in marriages that usually stem from each spouse's unresolved family-of-origin issues." It's the "family-of-origin issues" that I love. The original feature was in last week's NYT Sunday magazine, about group therapy for couples and entitled "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" The current editor-in-chief of the Ladies' Home Journal writes reminding that this is the title of a long-running series in that magazine. She says that it is the favorite of many readers and that it has been appearing monthly since 1952. It was a favorite of mine from the very beginning. It seemed so adult. It's still set up in very much the same way, including three narratives: her version, his version, and the counselor's version. I forget in what household I read this regularly, but I loved it, and I've run across many others who loved it just as much.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


There's hope yet that we may enjoy many oxblood lilies. There've been only about eight so far. Closer inspection revealed tiny bumps pushing their way through the surface of the earth.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Road Bike Rider newsletter began arriving without my requesting a subscription, and I don't know why; but I do know that I've been enjoying it. It's just one of those little serendipitous occurrences.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Every track

It's difficult to believe that La Papaya dates from 1998 or so. I love every track on this Ruben Vela effort (HAC 7470, from Hacienda in Corpus Christi). This music is essence of summer. We've heard Ruben Vela and his conjunto so many times. The Austin conjunto festival occurs on the relatively temperate date of May 5 (or the weekend of el cinco de mayo); it started out in Parque Zaragoza, on July 5!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

After a long absence

We will enjoy at least one spider lily (hurricane lily, lycoris radiata). Cut, these last a very long time indoors in a vase of water, but we seldom cut any flowers at all to bring indoors because we enjoy them so much where they grow. This one is on an oak motte and perhaps enjoys more sun than others do.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Heralds of more to come?

There've been no more than half a dozen oxblood lilies so far. We've enjoyed so many the past several years that we wonder whether they're perhaps taking a rest. We have thus far seen only these and no others, here or in any other yards.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ornamental garlic

It's an allium of some sort and it came home from the farmers' market in a pot of something else. The leaves are droopy and there the year 'round. It has seeded since into two other pots. The odd thing is that they never bloom concurrently. The original pot always blooms second and one of the offspring pots blooms before the original and one blooms after it. The flowers last a good long time.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Change of frequency

The less skilled work crew arrives first in the morning and listens to KVET-KASE radio. This crew is Tejano. The crew with greater skills works on until it's dark. As soon as the first crew leaves, the second crew listens to Univision Radio Recuerdos 107.7-FM. The foreman of the second crew certainly understands English and probably speaks it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

First sighting

Yesterday there was no sign; this morning, there were flower stalks and buds. I haven't checked yet, but I think this is late to be seeing oxblood lilies, that welcome sign of fall.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Percussion legacy

Max Roach has left this plane of existence. I've been listening to the Charlie Parker Savoy sessions and especially enjoying volume four. What sweet and ingenious rhythms!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

That pesky letter "e"

There's undoubtedly a study somewhere showing which are the most frequently struck keys on a keyboard. Certainly the letter "e" must be right up there, if it's not number one. In my experience, the keyboard outlasts the CPU, but I was starting to think that such would not be true in my case. The "e" and "r" combinations were being transposed, suddenly. The usual remedies weren't working (removing the board and plugging it back in, moving it to another USB port, blowing dust out, turning it upside down, etc.). Just pressing the bad key and letting it make a couple of hundred repetitions of the letter "e," however, for some reason seems to have restored proper "e"-ness, at least temporarily. A bad key is a terrible annoyance for somebody who types (or "enters") at a very high rate of speed and accuracy and then looks only at the end and only to find that there's "e"-trouble everywhere.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Delights of darkness

This article is all too brief ("The Dark Side," by David Owen, The New Yorker, August 20, 2007; page 28). He points out that "security lights" aren't helpful, and why, although people believe otherwise. I like this site called Selene (Greek goddess of the moon) that promotes legislation in New York State to combat light trespass. The David Owen article points out how costly the misdirection and misuse of artificial light can be and how thrifty it is to change common practices. I check in periodically at Dark Sky. Austin has an ordinance regarding light trespass, but it's not enforced. Austin skies are red and too bright all night long. One of the saddest things claimed in the Owen article is that most Americans have never seen the Milky Way. We sit out until and past the time it gets dark every night all the year round.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Happy headgear

We've been having lots of fun with our five-dollar Eddy Bros. hats picked up at the Toggery during its last days in business, some straw and some felt, all western. At that price, it doesn't seem as though they require a great deal of care. These are from old stock and extremely cheap for the quality (and the linings, feathers, and bands. The Eddy Bros. brand is now, along with Kangol and others, owned by Bollman Hat, now an employee-owned enterprise. I like this picture, taken on National Hat Day. I see that on eBay people are selling the old miniature Dobbs hats and hatboxes that were the sign that a person had received a hat gift certificate. Here's another image. I think that there was a time when the tiny hats were stiff red velveteen in honor of the holiday season, but I couldn't swear to this.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Flower census

Except for Turk's cap, lantana, pride of Barbados, both bi-colored and all-yellow asclepias, and, to an extent, fennel, everything's in ones and twos: nasturtiums, morning glories, and geraniums. We just bade farewell to the very, very last delphinium. Black-eyed Susans are still here, in diminishing numbers, and sometimes verbascum shoots up a stalk. Hyacinth beans, cypress vine, and clockvine continue to hold out against the grasshoppers, so we have hopes that we may see some flowers once it's just a bit cooler. All figs but one have been consumed; why that one remains is anybody's guess. Attracted by the flowers, all the usual butterflies (plus zebra longwings) and hummingbirds are everywhere.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Creature census

It's great to be seeding young anoles (several), lizards (2), and toads (3) again. It's not so great to see that the grasshoppers continue to grow and grow and grow. We see a firefly or two almost every night that it hasn't been pouring down rain. We've missed them all those years that they've been elsewhere.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Good for what ails you

A person always feels so virtuous after dining on greens. Today it was Luby's mustard greens. Mustard greens can be strong and disagreeable; these were fresh and delicious, just wilted, and seasoned, apparently, with lots of black pepper, some onion, a bit of bacon, and perhaps a tiny bit of vinegar, and garnished with tiny dices of fresh tomato. I've enjoyed wonderful turnip greens at Luby's, too; those were chopped.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I love the cover on the current issue of The Texas Observer (August 10). Right away, it's apparent that the illustration is from a photograph of an actual cake. Our guess was that the cake was an H-E-B creation, which in fact it turns out to be, at one remove. Here are the credits: cover design by Leah Ball, photograph by Daniel Carter, cake by Central Market Westgate (the more down-home Central Market). Those are actual three-dimensional palm trees, with icing-work hibiscus blossoms.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dire prediction

"He'll get his comeuppance one of these days." Where's a comeuppance when you need one? Or need to see somebody else get one? Do comeuppances even exist these days? I think it's been a while since I've seen "comeuppance" in print anywhere. "Comeuppance," by the way, is an Americanism.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Figgy coincidence

The local daily featured backyard figs today and spoke of the competition for the fruits. The blue jays and squirrels have today adjudged our figs to be ripe. Many are gone, and some are partially consumed, exposing the pinky-brown contents hidden under the smooth green of the unbroached fruit.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Inspired vaudeville cow

That was one of the best parts of Hulchul, seen thanks to the library. Supplying the legs were Paresh Rawal, who was the fasting father in Cheeni Kum, and Akshaye Khanna. Kareena Kapoor, whom se've seen in Chup Chup Ke and Omkara, was the heroine. Sunil Shetty had a small but crucial role. The actor who plays Circuit in the Munna Bhai movies played a similar role in this one, here called Lucky. I love it that the library is acquiring more and more of these movies.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The higher illiteracy, continued

These examples of ignorance were noted in Texas Monthly ("breach birth") and, I think, in the Wall Street Journal (mention of a part of somebody's anatomy "in a ringer.") Ding dong!

Sunday, August 05, 2007


The Bollywood movie Cash synthesizes a Hong Kong action movie and James Bond. Set in South Africa, this double-cross heist movie has many familiar faces in the cast. Although the reviews are uffish, we enjoyed it. The costumes were better than the choreography, which, though energetic, was somewhat lacking in imagination and variation. The music was entertaining. The lighting was unflattering, to say the least. Some reviewers dislike the little animation sequences, but we enjoyed them. I'd like to comment on the use of "personal watercraft" in action sequences. Don't do it. This Wikipedia article on Cash has links to other members of the cast. We enjoyed this movie, which we attended to stay cool and away from noise.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Books about books, but not the books themselves

A stupid acquisition process at the Austin Public Library results in shelving books about, say, works of Dickens, Trollope, Hardy, and many other nineteenth-century and Edwardian novelists, but a dearth of the books themselves. Our old copies of some of these are beginning to disintegrate. If you're reading something at home and not while waiting for the bus, a good hard-bound volume is better, anyhow. The entire system, according to the catalogue, has one copy of Framley Parsonage, not an obscure volume, one of the Barset series; and that copy is missing from the shelves.

Friday, August 03, 2007

It's been a while

Just before supper, we saw two zebra longwings. I don't believe we saw a single one last year and can't remember for sure when's the last time we did see one.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Thanks to a cigarette promotion, I own my very first Zippo lighter, and it was free. Somehow, I've never run out of matches. I've read that the people who make these lighters, in Bradford, Pennsylvania, have had a bad time with countefeit goods lately. Anyhow, thanks to this same promotion, I also have a free ashtray. I've smoked off and on since I was ten years old. It's been a very long time since I've smoked indoors, and sometimes I go weeks without puffing at all. The expense does make a difference. I can't stand being around other people who smoke. I still remember all the places around town where my brand (old-fashioned, non-filter Camels) were available: for instance, the Chile Parlor, the Cloakroom, the Driskill, the basement snack bar in the Capitol. These were all vending machines. Nothing looks sillier than somebody striking a supposedly "tough" pose, complete with cigarette dangling out of the corner of the moutn, if the cigarette is a filter one.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Some split

Because of all the rains and their effects on the fast-growing, the figs of some have split right open. Ours have been swelling in a more gentle way and continue to grow in size intact. Although some creature tests them overnight, they're not considered ready for consumption yet, evidently.