Saturday, August 23, 2008

Right up there with nurdle

I learned a lot of new words this summer, all Spanish, all related to the construction trades, courtesy of a book borrowed from the library. Some of the terms differed from ones heard around here; some differed from words used in the Home Depot and Lowe's ads. Still, a lot was new, and I even learned a few things about the newer aspects of building, things that have developed since the time I was hanging around people who knew stuff when I sas a kid. Most of these relate to wallboard / drywall / gypsumboard / plasterboard / Sheetrock (whatever you want to call it) and taping and floating and the like, with some things about insulation. Over two years ago, I wrote about a term of art that was new to me, from another field, the world of "resin." The word was "nurdles" and there wasn't much up on the Web about it, although now there is. My new word of the day is "parison." I saw it in a Harper's article by the same guy who wrote about the escape of the toy ducks from the shipping container. This piece is just as interesting as that one: Through the open door: Searching for deadly toys in China's Pearl River Delta. The author is Donovan Hohn.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Although tiny, really, they loom large

Our first oxblood lily flowers shot up overnight. Yesterday, there were still just a few leaf nubbins visible here and there. No leaves are yet to be seen, or even any flower stems without flowers. But the ones with flowers! How beautiful! Summer is ending for real.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

They keep them in glass cases

And most of the cases are clean. We were looking at watches, everything from kids' toy watches with plastic everything to items a bit more pricey. Everywhere from drugstores through discount shops to mid-level department stores had cases that were gleaming. In fact, the sales clerks could be seen touching them up whenever they had a spare moment. We were on our way to a movie and passed a few idle minutes at Williams-Sonoma (nothing much distinctive and nothing cheap, but clerks that were helpful and expert) and then went next door to the mini-Saks. There, we smelled all the Jo Malone samplers (wonderful!) and passed by the watch and jewelry cases, which were really disgusting, bleary and smeared and with distinct handprints and fingerprints all over the tops of them. Ewwwwwwww!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Now appearing for the first time this season

Was it the rain? The shorter days? The slightly cooler temperatures. Overnight, truly from sunset to sunrise, the garlic chives are covered with buds. These are all in pots. The first of them came incidently in pots of tomato or chile plants bought at the South Austin farmers' market in the parking lot of El Gallo. They reseed themselves easily and have spread to the ground and to other pots. They winter over, and they seem to do better the more crowded they are.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cut too short

At least Bernie Mac brought a lot of enjoyment into a lot of lives during the short time he was with us here on this earth. Nevertheless, he'll be very much missed and those of us who loved his comedy will always wonder what he'd have to say about this, that, and lots of other things.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Surprising summer survivals

During a summer when even the Turk's cap and lantanas are looking frazzled, Mexican petunias (ruellia) have come through with flying colors. Granted, they grow in the shade, but shade hasn't helped other hardy summerers. It's been too hot for faithful four o'clocks to bloom for some time now, also. While sunflowers have not been particularly prolific. Enough of them have produced seeds, though, to attract whitewings and mourning doves. Mexican sunflowers (tithonia) have been doing very well all summer long, both in sun and in shade. Fennel has done fairly well; the seeds are consumed by the birds as soon as they're anywhere near ready. All over the older neighborhoods in town, as houses and yards are destroyed, cadena de amor (queen's wreath) is disappearing, not having the room that it demands to sprawl along a trellis, fence, or wire. The few we have seen, however, are doing very well, despite the heat and the lack of rains.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Venerable reprint house Dover Publications and Texan Tom Tierney have jumped into the presidential-election fray, offering rival paper dolls of the candidates. There's a free scorecard for election night included with each doll. Ya gotta love Free Enterprise. I want Dover to stay in business forever. I think that the home-schooling movement, copyright-free graphic archives, and various classics emerging from copyright are Dover's best bets. Dover offers what others don't. I've been buying since Dover Books was on Varick Street.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Certain sign of fall

We've been checking every single day, but this morning marked the first appearance of any sign of oxblood lilies. Four little green tips have made their appearance. They weren't there yesterday. There'll be many more to come.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Fig-uratively speaking

The figs did finally ripen. One day they weren't fit to consume; the next day they were all gone. But some creature left a partial fig snagged on gate hardware, showing the pink innards of the green-skinned treat. This was seen by morning's first light; later in the day even that trace of this year's crop had vanished. We have seen our first green pecans this year, but so far there have been none in our yard.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Mixing it up

The writer includes "half nelsons" along with "jackknifes and backflips" among types of "high dives." I suppose that, when wrestling is the subject, half gainers are among the holds. The article is called "Tickle and Flutter," by Terry Castle (London Review of Books, 3 July 2008). These "furious" dives are not just "half nelsons"; they are "great walloping half nelsons." I'm so impressed.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


We don't see them very often these days, but this morning, before it was quite light, we did. He (or she) was a perfect small specimen. Now we have confirmed what has been snuffling along in the leaves in a certain part of the yard. Ponder Lee wasn't interested in the armadillo. I hope this creature stays away from traffic and keeps to the vegetation.