Friday, November 30, 2007

Are they late?

The loquat blossoms are opening up, and they're attracting plenty of pollinators. Aren't these flowers sometimes open as soon as the first week in November? A look back is in order when there's time. All pecans are accounted for. There are none on trees, and those that fell to the ground have been squirrel-captured. The cantaloupes reached a certain state of attraction and were sampled during the night by one creature or another. Exposure to the air where bitten into made the contents of the cantaloupes pungent in scent. To the compost pile they go, where no doubt they'll be consumed in their entirety by an opossum or a raccoon or a fox, or just by insects.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gone but not forgotten

A lot has been written in honor of Hank Thompson, whose music will live so long as there's a working jukebox, a working dance band, or somebody to sing or hum it. I've always been partial to Humpty Dumpty Heart. I've found only one mention of Fletcher Boone, who has also been translated to a higher plane of existence. We loved the old Raw Deal on Sabine. It was a great place for the hungry late at night, back when everything rolled up much earlier in the evening: steak cooked just as ordered, with good beer and good French fries. It was always lively and a great place to get in out of the cold, or out of the anything. I don't think it was heated, other than by the grill, and it probably wasn't cooled, either, other than by fans. Conversation was always general. I don't remember Mr. Boone specifically from those days, because everyone there just seemed like one tiny molecule in a larger vital organism, but I was later acquainted with him in a day-job environment and always liked him a lot. There are people who in their lifetimes were responsible for bringing a lot of happiness to a lot of people. They will not be forgotten.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Annals of modern marketing: olfactory division

Here's a product labeled unscented. In large block letters, the packaging bears this legend: "smells great all day." It doesn't promise that the user will smell great. No; this deodorant and anti-perspirant, marked "unscented," appears to promise that it will smell great all day. It's one of the many versions of Mennen Speed Stick. Another version has "the clean scent of alpine force," whatever that may be. I'm just a bit worried about versions in the "powerful fragrance" category. Perhaps the fact that some containers feature a manly non-slip ribbed grip on each side is an attempt to deal with the power of the scent.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Modern prose

Does no publication check anything? Seen recently were "duel dial" (the controls are in combat) and "Tarryton" cigarettes (once Herbert Tareyton and then Tareyton alone). These appeared in reputable publications known for heavy editing and fact-confirmation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Because the handle always broke off

The big covered casseroles made by Bennington Potters used to have a completely different handle for the cover. I won't try to describe the old handle on the cover, and I can't scan it, because I lent it and it never came back. It was open, though, and formed from one continuous strip of clay. These items remain the same, but for the cover and perhaps a slight change in the covers on the bottom. Mine was the largest size, and plain gold in color. "Bakeware" isn't a term that I'd think to search on.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Little blue book not

Blue, that is. At-A-Glance, once owned by Eaton, the paper company, is now part of a consolidated calendar and appointment book outfit that sells many well-known brands. I have always loved the smallest pocket version, good for quick calendar reference and small lists or for noting quick appointments. What changed first was that the number of cover colors was cut; then there came to be covers in black only. The pages have always been of blue paper, originally very crisp Eaton paper; later, the pages were still of blue paper, although not of that fine quality. This year, the pages, as displayed in the on-line image, appeared to be white. And they are. And the quality of the paper is abysmal; it's not even opaque. Nevertheless, I suppose that we'll keep buying them so long as they're available, because they do open flat and the size and format are extremely useful. What's left of the Eaton's Paper business is now part of Southworth, which still sells laid paper, although only as part of its resume or business stationery line and therefore only in larger sizes, not as social stationery. And there are many of us who still miss Eaton's Calais Ripple, as well.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


But what season? For the second time this month, a branch of redbud is laden with flowers. All the asclepias plants, both colors, are starting to bloom like crazy. In addition to the ever-growing show of allium, anemone, and paperwhite narcissus leaves, we're now seeing ranunculus leaves for the first time. The transoms are still open and all houseplants are still outdoors. Chiles, cantaloupes, and nasturtiums are blooming again, as are hyacinth beans and fennel.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

An unposed still life

This was taken with a JamCam. I love this camera; in the hand, it feels like one of those old Ansco kids' cameras from the 1950s. It's tricky to get the pictures out of the camera. Pictured are a crudely stencil-painted enameled metal soup plate from a supermarket produce department, a Stangl fruit-pattern pottery plate of red clay with loopy sgraffito, a botched transfer-ware small luncheon plate, three of four Harlequin egg cups (one end for hard-boiled eggs and the other end for mashed-up soft-boiled eggs), Japanesque transfer-ware fluted cup and saucer, Syracuse Adobeware plate and cereal bowl, botched Quail-pattern transfer ware handleless teacup or small oatmeal bowl, and Arabia Windflower bread-and-butter plate.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Factoid of the day

Nobody talks much about Lafayette these days. I knew that he visited the United States in 1820-something and that he wept at the grave of Washington when he visited Mount Vernon. I never knew, though, that he named a son after his American companion-in-arms: George Washington Lafayette, son of Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, was born in 1779. It's also news to me that Cornell houses a large collection of Lafayette family papers. I like the 19th-century biographical excerpts found here. It says that Lafayette, accompanied by his son, George Washington Lafayette, visited all 24 states in 1824 and 1825, starting in New York. I'd like to know all the cities visited. I think I read that a river steamboat on which he was sailing or was to sail exploded, as they had a way of doing. There's been a celebration marking the 250th anniversay of Lafayette's birth, but, as with the Longfellow celebration, not much attention has been paid to it. I've bookmarked this jumping-off place.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

So that's where the wagon went!

Owens Sausage Company used to send a chuckwagon drawn by a handsome eight-horse Belgian hitch to all parades, with a dog riding next to the teamster, but then it stopped. Noticing that Bob Evans products shared a coupon page with Owens Sausage products in the Sunday ad supplements led to the discovery that Bob Evans and Owens Sausage became one way back in 1987. The wagon and the beautiful team of draft horses were at some time retired to an Owens museum of wagons and other items. Sometimes the news arrives late. I like this Owens timeline.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gated community

Never the twain shall meet. On one side of the gate is a tremendous, sprawling single plant of hyacinth bean; on the other, a selection of clockvines (thunbergia alata) blooming in various colors. The clockvine flowers are in cream, pale yellow, orange-yellow, and a sort of apricot, all with black centers. The hyacinth bean is still blooming slightly and there are a few pods of ripened seeds on it. This is the plant that never produced purple pods, just purple flowers, and that stinks mightily.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gaudy and potted

These are some of the milkweeds in pots; no orange and yellow ones are visible here, only purely yellow ones. None have made seedpods yet, but there are butterfly eggs everywhere. These are the first nasturtiums to bloom in a while, but there will be many more, now that the weather is a bit cooler. These are trailing and climbing from pots set on the ground; others, not visible, are trailing and falling from pots on fenceposts.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Driving and delivery versus loading

I loved this piece in the current Fortune magazine about the training of UPS drivers: "The making of a UPS driver," 11/7/07, byline Nadira A. Hira. Everything in it is fascinating, although I would have loved to know more, much more, about how the trucks are loaded and what governs package placement, other than, probably, route-delivery order. UPS has a long history and is known as a far better employer than its modern-day chief rival, which shall here go unnamed.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

For the benefit of those who've been searching, as they always do on Decoration Day and Armistice Day, for information on the yellow butterflies story and the tomb of the unknown, here's the link to my roundup on the subject. Some links in my postings may disappear over time, but these are my own records as well, since I always think of this story and how it used to be declaimed over the radio on the relevant occasions. For the record, I think it's a shame that more people didn't turn out for Austin's parade, if only for the education of their own children and as an appreciation for all those kids who marched in the parade. Austin's parades are so intimate, with personal thank-yous to the spectators from those in the procession. We all could have done without the unmuffled two-wheelers, and one must always marvel at all the males within a certain age range who have invested so much time and effort in Mustangs and Corvettes. The vehicular stars for us were a beautiful practically untouched post-war Chrysler and a very much tricked out Nash Metropolitan on which a lot of work had been done. The vintage ambulance was not in the parade this year, although there were many other military vehicles from various eras. Everybody loved the low flyover of what seemed to be old-time training planes (biplanes? AT-something?). We enjoyed everything about the parade, especially its old-time Austin feeling and all the live music, which later adjourned to Scholz's.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sightings and scents

Today, the breezes are balmy. There are more and more anemone leaves visible, and now leaves of paperwhite narcissus are beginning to appear. There are butterfly eggs all over the potted asclepias. These milkweeds are still providing lots of color. The cardinals and mockingbirds continue to descend upon the lantana berries in great numbers. Allium leaves are everywhere. Any day now, loquat flowers will open. The greenish-podded hyacinth beans continue to blanket the air in a cloying scent. It will be really bad when the beans, the loquats, and the portable chcmical toilet next door all join aromatic forces.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Advisors to the wardens of the prisoners of debt

Business Week has the best article I've seen yet on attempts to collect debts discharged in bankruptcy: "Prisoners of Debt," 11/12/07. There's an Austin connection: the law firm of Barron, Newburger, Sinsley & Weir represents Collect America, reported to be an active operator in this business.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Out of sheer meanness

Or should that be out of shear meanness? The people at the local daily who are paid to write, edit, and check facts probably wouldn't know. In a feature today about table settings in the governor's mansion, we read of "Picard" China, not Pickard. Lenox would probably be Lennox. The photographed table, set for serving cream soup, did not seem to have a proper spoon to accompany the bowl. "Picard, " which was in an extensive photo caption, does not appear in the on-line version of the story. A stemless silver drinking vessel that appears to be a tumbler or a julep cup is described as a goblet.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Just as we thought

It has always been a good assumption that all those "free meals" are out to do nothing but sell condominium properties and dubious annuities with unhelpful terms and conditions. The cards all want a telephone number, as well as varying degrees of other personal information. We always thought that, legally, returning one of these would probably count as consent to be called and thereby negate any requests to be on do-not-call lists. Now, we've had the same thought about those who's who directories. We used to think that all they wanted when they sent notifications of inclusion was to sell the directories to be placed in people's reception areas or the like (see? my name's in here). Now, though, they come with "accuracy checks" and ask for e-mail addresses and telephone numbers, saying "not for public distribution" or "not for inclusion in the directory." We especially liked the latest mailing, from an outfit heretofore unknown to us, Cambridge Who's Who, which has a disclaimer to the effect that it's not in any way afiliated with the Harvard or Cambridge educational institutions. I think that Marquis Who's Who was the first and then let the trademark lapse (or perhaps it expired under the law). Although a published directory under the Marquis name has existed since 1899, it's not clear from the Marquis site who owns it now. On the Web home page is the modern culturally illiterate form "in memorium," heading a tribute to Normal Mailer. Wikipedia has an entry on some purported scam aspects of some of these directories.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

But the pods aren't purple

The one giant bean plant by the gate has pods that aren't purple and never have been purple. They start out pale green and then, when they turn papery, they're a greenish-white color. The seeds, though, do look like those of dolichos lablab, although perhaps smaller. This is the plant whose blossoms emit a cloying scent that can be smelled quite a distance away. The plants that produced purple pods did not have flowers that smelled this strong. Those producing purple pods all seem to be done with blooming, at least for the time being, but this giant sprawler is still producing flowers like crazy.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Early signs of spring

Or should it be signs of an early spring? We still have those redbud flowers on the bare branches. Then I noticed some leaves well advanced by a pecan tree, some sort of daffodil or narcissus. We think these are squirrel-planted items. Soon we noticed more of them, plus many, many sprouted anemones of various kinds.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Is this some kind of portent? One of the redbud trees has flowers on it. Just a few, but nothing ever seen here before.