Monday, December 31, 2007

Not a resolution

I've never made any for the new year to come, but I do like the idea of an "intention," as someone suggested. The year now departing has been a very eventful one and it won't be remembered as a favorite. As always, though, I am pleased to report that I do believe that I have accumulated at least one full year's worth of additional wisdom and that I haven't backslid on the Path to Progress. I never, ever commit myself to be anywhere or do anything unless I am certain that I will be there or do it, but I'm chary of making such commitments. I intend to make more in 2008. Not to make a commitment or a decision is to make one by default. It's good to remember this.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Ponder Lee brought over another rat from the closest "remodeling" (read "new house") site. We feel sorry for the rats and wonder how this slight cat manages; on the other hand, we're grateful to have them caught over there at the old home from which they're being displaced and not in or around a new home (e.g., perhaps ours). Thank you, Ponder Lee, for heading them off at the pass. We're happy to make small investments in salmonettes and chickenettes to keep you happy when your True People are not available to do that.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

From nowhere

There's celery growing in a pot. We didn't plant it. It once held thyme bought at the South Austin Farmers Market. The guy we bought that from confirmed that he has grown celery (non-bunching) and that probably some seed had fallen into the pot. It's in this way that we acquired garlic chives, now self-seeding, and two kinds of asclepias, an all-yellow variety and a yellow-and-orange variety, both of which have self-seeded. I love the aleatory.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Snap, snap

This is an unposed digital snapshot taken using a JamCam. The photograph in the case is not a snapshot; it's a modern-day tintype. The pull-toy alligator or crocodile makes a sort of snapping sound, but is harmless. It came from Tesoros when that store was new. At that time I bought a small cast-bronze crocodile to give as a gift paperweight; I wish I'd kept it for myself.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fiat lux

Less than a month ago, we were awakened to the resetting of one nearby luminaire, the darkness of which had no doubt been called in by any of several newcomer busy-bodies. That was at four in the morning. The second-closest light was given the same treatment last night during hours sacred to sleep (in this case, three o'clock in the morning), no doubt at the behest of the same party who called in the other one. No wonder the sounds of owls of several kinds is beoming rarer and rarer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Let the record show that the leaves on the ornamental pear tree are finally changing colors, to various shades of red, orange, and yellow. The oaks that aren't live oaks are showing changes, also. The first paperwhite narcissus flowers opened, joining lantana, nasturtium, gazania, fennel, milkweed, chile, and sweet William.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Not long on the market

But the squirrels liked it, I bet. They probably paraded at the heels of (or scampered along in the trees and wires just above the head of) anyone so bold as to wear it. The product touted in the November supermarket magazine as a gift available for under ten dollars was a body wash. All that's now found at the Bath and Body Works site is something called "fragrance bulbs." The scent? It's called "Pecan Passion" and is described as "an alluring and indulgent blend of rich brown sugar, warm pecan and whipped vanilla cream." Maybe the squirrels stole it all.

Monday, December 17, 2007

All in

Be it hereby known that all new bulbs, corms, and rhizomes have now been placed in the earth, although the squirrels have already dug some up again. A prediction is that before the weekend arrives there will be paperwhite narcissus in bloom.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pollinators in clouds

The loquats were alive with insects of all kinds, among them several species of butterflies, including a few monarchs. There were honeybees, always good to see, and some of those big irridescent purple-blue-black bumblebees. If these couple of nights of threatened frost don't interfere, there should be a bumper crop of fruits for all the creatures.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cut too short

Four no longer in earthly existence are very much alive in spirit. Two of them would still be here but for evil people acting with depraved indifference to human life.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Since corrected

It's since been corrected to "honor roll" in the on-line version, but today's WSJ print version went to press with "honor role." This is yet another example of the higher illiteracy. Within the past couple of weeks, I've seen several different uses in print of forms of "tweak" where some form of "twit" would be proper (for making fun of or mocking or teasing).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Food mystery

Why do ice-cream cones and fortune cookies taste the same? Maybe they just seem to; I've never eaten both on the same day or made a comparison close in time. The cones are formed from a nearly paper thin and very smooth substance and the cookes are more pebbly in texture. Yet, both are rolled, cut, pressed, and formed. Since cookes arrive individually wrapped these days and without an ingredient list, I may never know. Here are the ingredients listed on a box of barquillos grandes para helado from H-E-B: enriched wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil shortening, leaavening, salt, natural flavor [?], and annatto (vegetable color).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"If I live and have my health"

This was usually said as a joking proviso in connection with a non-vital promise to be carried out in the next day or two. Google cites Dickens's Dombey and Son most frequently (said by Walter, in a conversation with Captain Cuttle), with Dryden tossed in. Dryden means most to me because I read his translation of the Aeneid along with reading Virgil in Latin.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Another in a series of the unposed

This is another JamCam special. The art is an amateur work from the middle of the departed twentieth century. The ceramics to me seem to display a Japanese influence, especially in the glazes, and were created by a person whose career is not in this field but who knows exactly what he's doing. The soda pop is from Mexico. The calendar is a freebie.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Yard discoveries

The honeybees are among those enjoying the loquat flowers. The pecan leaves are almost down; tomorrow they'll all be on the ground if these breezes keep up. Butterflies of all kinds are particularly enjoying the asclepias flowers, although some enjoy the lantanas. Cardinals and mockingbirds are still picking at the lantana berries. White-wing doves and the occasional mourning dove are finishing off the last of the wild sunflower seeds. Fennel is rejuvenated and blooming again. Lettuces and greens of various mysterious sorts are thriving and ornamental in pots and are ready to eat. There are even a few cherry tomatoes ripening. Nasturtiums are blooming more than ever and there are a few hyacinth bean flowers. Geraniums like this weather for blooming and so does rosemary. We see more and more leaves of anemone, ranunculus, and a variety of narcissi and jonquils. Pink oxalis is blooming like crazy. Clockvine (thunbergia alata) is, too. There are no hyacinth leaves showing yet, but today, for the first time, we saw leaves of a couple of different varieties of species tulips popping up everywhere in the side-yard lawn. This happened overnight. Last Sunday a mixed variety of old seeds of many sorts were scattered on bare patches in the St. Augustine; this morning there were many germinating mysteries.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Since 1936

So says the label. But no more. There really was a Carroll Reed. And of course there were Carroll Reed shops. One of my favorite, favorite items of cold-weather gear, brought out again during the recent cold snap, is a 100% cotton turtleneck from Carroll Reed. The knit is very fine, so it fits well under any other garment and really works well where there's no central heating. How old must it be? It can be no newer than 1996, according to this little nutshell history of the Carroll Reed retail and mail-order enterprise. I'm surprised that I've never ruin across this Brandland blog before; I'll be checking in often. My clothes sometimes meet with serious accidents (snagging and tearing on a thorn, for example) but they almost never wear out, even my favorites, although they may, and do, with the passage of time, go out of style. If only I'd bought lots and lots of Carroll Reed turtlenecks back when I could.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Saving the buttons

When the garment is too worn to be of use to anyone, the buttons must be cut off. Or at least that's what those of us who grew up with button jars in the house were taught. My favorite button jar originally contained Molle brushless shaving cream. I threw out some favorite jackets whose cuffs and collars can't be altered again to hide frayed or shiney or discolored areas. To be honest, they're all a bit broad-shouldered, too. I have some handsome buttons to remember them by, though.

Two stations at once

On Saturday mornings, if there's a radio nearby it must be tuned to KVET 98.1-fm to listen t country gold, from very early until 10 o'clock or so. This morning, it was especially great to hear The Streets of Bakersfield and also Claudette. But from 9 to 10, the radio must be tuned to KOOP 91.7-fm. It would have been a shame to miss some great Teddy Wilson playing Rosetta and also These Foolish Things, with a vocal by Billie Holiday, and several tracks from Heliotrope Bouquet, one of my favorite, favorite LPs (Nonesuch H-71257), because I love the contemplative tempo. Both these stations stream. Sometimes, radio is what makes me glad to live here; music always sounds more real when broadcast or played on a jukebox than it does straight from the recording, in whatever form.