Saturday, October 25, 2008

"I Put a Spell on You"

One of the many reasons to love this season is that this song gets a lot of radio play. Just today so far, I've heard two versions by Screamin' Jay Hawkins and one by Nina Simone. I'd "always" known this song and liked it but had never thought that much about it until I worked near someone who truly loved it, playing it nearly every single day at least once after official hours. It was the original Screamin' Jay OKeh version.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Field identification

Since nobody seems to know anything about the working class, especially politicians and television "journalists," here are some clues, speaking occupationally (and with no reference to other so-called indicators, such as education, culture, and income). A person of the working class reads the afternoon edition of the paper, or, if there is no longer an afternoon edition, either leaves for work before the paper is delivered or doesn't have time to read it in the mornings, or both. A member of the working class may possibly bathe twice a day but, if it's only once, that will be in the evening, after work, so as to retire refreshed. A working-class household is very likely to keep bars of Lava soap or an equivalent hand-cleaning substance around.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stanley no. 199

This little wonder of modern material culture doesn't seem to have changed at all since its introduction, at least not that I can tell. It still feels as satisfying in the hand as it did when I was a kid, heavy and made for the palm and with the rattle of blades inside. I went to buy something that would perform its function and was amazed to see that it still exists, apparently unchanged. Someone was selling one (or trying to) on line as an antique for five times what a new one costs that's apparently exactly the same in appearance. Look for it at the top of page 37 in this Stanley Tools on-line catalogue. This picture makes the handle appear to be flat, and it isn't at all. The fleur-de-lis is still part of the design. It's billed as "[t]he original utility knife." Stanley Tools is still in New Britain, Connecticut. It's still made with pride in the U. S. of A., at the Stanley Works, according to the label.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Washable blue

That's my favorite color of fountain-pen ink. Ink in my possession right now is Lamy and also Pelikan. Shaeffer and Parker were old-time favorites. I liked the names Skrip and Quink. I'm about to try Levenger ink. I used to keep Higgins India Ink for use with a dip pen. Teachers used to have little diamond-faceted bottles of Sanford ink for keeping their registers or grades and attendance. The ink was indelible, for all practical purposes. I think that dip pens were used for the registers and I think that it took a razor blade to make corrections. I like this site for collectors of ink bottles. I wonder how many of those Carter's Ink kitten illustrations (scroll down to see two examples) have been framed and still survive. When I was a little kid, a room slept in on visits had a lot of these pictures framed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Today's seasonal first

Overnight, in the wake of the good recent rains, up in profusion, although so far in one location only, are leaves from an old pot of paperwhite narcissus forced into bloom indoors and then later dumped out carelessly onto the ground years ago. There are several spots in the pleasure grounds where we unthinkingly did this at one time or another, and they've all consistently done better at reproducing themselves and blooming without fail than practically anything deliberately set into the ground. We're also seeing more and more anemone leaves every day, both wild and cultivated.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Intimations of mortality

We're not any thinner, but our ranks are. From my high-school class of 104, 15 are known to be no longer among us alive on this earth. That leaves 89. I count another 25 of whom nothing is known or from whom nobody has heard recently.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Lingering on and passing through

There's still one fresh stem of oxblood lily. Otherwise, leaves are beginning to shoot up. For the first time that I've ever noticed, a few of the stalks, instead of just withering away, have remained upright and are producing, where the flowers were, a few seed pods, which are still green. At last, there are more blossoms on the hyacinth beans and there are four o'clocks blooming every night. We have one that's producing pure white flowers. Years ago, we planted some mixed colors, hoping to vary the puce already present, perhaps with some of those yellow flowers that are to be seen in a few yards. Nothing ever happened that we noticed; certainly, nothing yellow ever appeared among the four o'clocks. But it's just possible that this white specimen is from that time, although perhaps it's just some kind of sport. Both kinds of asclepias, yellow with red-orange and entirely yellow, love the cooler weather, and the butterflies love them. We have been seeing hundreds of cloudless sulfur butterflies, along with lesser numbers of pipevine swallowtails, giant swallowtails in both colors, and gulf fritillaries. From time to time, we see two or three monarch butterflies. They seem to like tithonia and the newly vigorous Bright Lights cosmos, in addition to asclepias (milkweed). It has been so dry that lantanas and Turk's caps haven't been producing much in the way of flowers and fruits. We had never seen squirrels eating lantana berries, but we've seen it this summer.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Shoe twins

I searched for images of these shoes on line, but with no luck. I'm not surprised; I bet everyone who ever owned any (and if you owned one pair, you probably owned more) wore them until they completely fell apart. They were so perfect for business, and a person could actually walk in them. They had stacked heels and looked good with trousers and with skirts and suits. They weren't cheap, but they weren't as expensive as today's partial equivalents, those Ferragamo items made in various heel styles over the years (mostly low) with the grosgrain bows through the flat piece of metal. Among the variants were shoes in real patent leather (there was leather underneath the shine; they weren't made of plastic). The Andrew Geller shoes were sportier than Carla. My twin? Martha Stewart.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Paul Newman did wonderful work in his later years. There was much talk about The Long Hot Summer, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, From the Terrace, and all the iconic movies from a certain period, beginning with Hud. I loved Harper, The Drowning Pool, Slap Shot, The Verdict, and especially what he brought to those Richard Russo items, Nobody's Fool (Bruce Willis was also great in this) and Empire Falls. I'd like to see Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, and The Silver Chalice, mostly because I've read the books and would love in general to see what was done with them. Slap Shot and Nobody's Fool have real snow in them. In the roles he played in Slap Shot, Nobody's Fool, and Empire Falls, in particular, it's impossible to imagine anyone else at all. I plan to try some Fig Newmans (clever name!) very soon for the first time, in memoriam.