Saturday, February 28, 2009

Without the red sandstone dust

Today could be a March day in high-altitude New Mexico. We're here in Austin, but there are strong enough gusts to send all sorts of things flying. The cooler air will help preserve our flowers a little longer, but all the petals are being stripped from the redbud trees.

Friday, February 27, 2009

New leaves

There are four o'clocks appearing for the first time this season. Turk's cap and lantana are leafing out for the new season. There are bits of green on some of the roses of Sharon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blue's the news

The chicory is resurgent in its pot. We have our first two Dutch irises, and they're blue. Cultivated anemone blanda is popping up, even in places where it did't do well last year. Blue florists' anemone is opening everywhere.

Monday, February 23, 2009


The pleasure grounds are extremely aromatic right now, thanks to old-fashioned jonquils, narcissi, and daffodils, and to stock, and to hycinths in seven varieties so far. Honebees are attracted to the hyacinths and to milkweed. We've seen no cream- or buttery-colored hyacinths yet. We had a long run of Dutch hyacinths years ago and then they played out. Current hyacinths have been reapping for several years now. We have seen leaves of wood hyacinth, but no flowers yet.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Daily doubles

I con't really care for doubled flowers. I wasn't all that sorry when a pink rose of Sharon that produced flowers that looked like Kleenex carnations finally succumbed to old age. I never deliberately acquire doubles. But somewhere along the line, Erlicheer has turned up in the pleasure grounds, and it's producing especially well this year.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


We're about to enjoy Dutch irises; at last there's that thickened stalk that will give us one or more flowers. We don't know yet what the colors will be, since we always forget which ones are where. The earliest hyacinths have shot up so tall that now the flower stems are toppling over.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Now arriving daily

This morning, for the first time, we're finding Suzy and two kinds of grape hyacinths. The blue non-wild anemone blanda is quite showy, for all its small size (tiny, but larger than the wild ones).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More and more

By suppertime, there were increasing numbers of red florists' anemones, hyacinths appearing and blooming for the first time, and wild anemone blanda. There are flowers open on the redbuds in the pleasure grounds, as well as across the street, and there's a green haze of opening leaf-buds on many different types of trees. It's all but certain that the weekend will bring this year's lacy Sunday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Hyacinths seem to be at their peak. They've really been returning well. Now, the earliest ones are longer and longer in the stem, to the point of toppling over in some cases. The oak motte and under the ornamental pear tree are where those favorite ones of a particular blue with a light stripe are to be found. All colors are in all locations right now. Ice Follies may be peaking, also. Much to our surprise, we've discovered a very large and bud-laden clump of single jonquils. They must have been resettled from Mack's flower bed by a squirred, and the relocation has obviously done them a lot of good. They are of the sharpest, most piercing shade of yellow there is.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Henry again

I picked up an odd little compendium at the library. Called Embarrassments, the book contains four long short stories by Henry James. I don't rmember having seen these stories collected in this form. One is "The Figure in the Carpet," frequently reprinted and often analyzed; it has never been a favorite of mine, but I read it once again; it's still not a favorite. The other three in the collection are "Glasses," "The Next Time," and "The Way It Came." "The Next Time is new to me. Both "Glasses" and "The Way It Came" are tales with what in the music business would be called a "hook." In each, there's a gimmick, and the latter is a ghost story of sorts. All four are narrated in the first person, although the last is framed. I'm now inclined to reread the novels; it's been quite a while.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Surprise arrivals

Stock that's now in its second season has produced some flowers overnight. Their scent is like a combination of old-fashioned carnations and pinks, somewhat like the original Bellodgia scent. The plant has a funny appearance because all the remaining leaves are in a tuft at the top of each stalk, leaving bare stems below and the bud and flower stalks above. Many lantanas are blooming, on completely bare stalks and branches, since the old leaves first turned purplish and then dropped off from the cold and new leaves have not yet appeared.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Under cloudy skies

Everything creamy or yellow looks especially beautiful on a morning like this. There have been warbler sounds this past week, but no sightings. We have lots and lots of flowers from Ice Follies, Carlton, and various other medium-sized daffodils. Our small narcissi (Grand Primo, Avalanche, and Montopolis / Bastrop continue to produce in large, massy clumps. We have our first allium flowers. We're seeing our first Geranium narcissi, in what seems to be a new place. There's a clump of leucojum and there seem to be more 'jums on the way. We're seeing more fancy anemones, some pea blossoms, and more hyacinths, mostly light pink. There are a few April Tears appearing for the first time this year. For the first time in several years, it appears that we're going to have single jonquils. The first one is out today. Some years we have no flowers on these, or even buds; other years, there are buds but they blast and don't produce flowers. These are great favorites of ours, and the sharp yellow is at its best under subdued light.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Delayed delivery

But at last the books are here, after all this time. I don't think that "media mail" (the former "book rate") is as good as it used to be. There'll be no more arguing over the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein or Cole Porter, and at last we have a copy of People of Rimrock (Evon Z. Vogt). We will have fun looking at the maps and diagrams, and this book will solve many arguments, too. They couldn't have arrived on a better day: books are the perfect and proper gift for a valentine.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


This may be the peak day for Avalanche, Grand Primo, and Montopolis narcissi from Bastrop. There are also many handsome clumps medium-sized daffodils in the midst of the lawn in Mack's yard. They're of three kinds: Ice Follies, Carlton, and a two-tone yellow that's very much like Carlton. We can see another of about that size starting to unfurl to reveal quite an orange cup, a mystery. There are three colors of anemone: red with a white ring, bluish-white, and fuchsia. There are two Dutch hyacinths blooming, one fuchsia and one blue. This morning there are many more lantana flowers, despite the fact that most of the plants, what with cold and, recently, wind, are practically denuded of leaves. Fennell is blooming.

Monday, February 09, 2009

February 1982 books read

Evan S. Connell, Jr.: Mr. Bridge
Muriel Spark: The Bachelors
Winifred Gerin: Anne Thackeray Ritchie
Rosamond Lehman: The Echoing Grove
Violet Weingarten: Half a Marriage

I'd like to see the Newman / Woodward movie version of the Bridge books some day.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

February 1981 books read

This is a continuation of listings from the recently discovered repository:

John Gielgud: An Actor and His Times
Alec McCowen: Double Bill
P. D. James: Innocent Blood
Clive James: First Reactions
J. H. Plumb: Georgian Delights

Saturday, February 07, 2009

All of a sudden

Today, there are sheaves and sheaves of Avalanche, Minnow, and Grand Primo. We have a couple of Carltons, one Ice Follies, and one mystery Carlton-like flower but with two distinct shades of yellow. We have our first red anemones. There are flowers that are like paperwhites (long and pointy perianth parts) but that are not white, but two tones of yellow. That's what's new, except that I heard the whip-poor-will myself last night. It has been such a long time. Poor birds; the light pollution is so bad these days. The light doesn't seem to bother the screech owl and barred owl that we've seen and heard lately; I suppose it's a toss-up for them as between loss of tree habitat and disturbance of rats' habitations.

For one brief shining moment

I was entirely caught up on periodicals, except for a Funny Times and I don't think that really counts. I even read the issue that I'd been saving so long, the one in which The Uncommon Reader first appeared. And then I found seven new periodicals in the mailbox just now.

February 1980 books read

Virginia Woolf: Letters. volume 3, 1923-28
Virginia Woolf: Letters, volume 4, 1929-31
Gerald Brenan: Thoughts in a Dry Season
Shirley Hazzard: Cliffs of Fall
Elizabeth Bowen: The Last September
Barbara Pym: Excellent Women
George Eliot: The Mill on the Floss
E. B. White, Letters of
Malcolm Cowley: A Many-Windowed House
Horage Gregory: The House on Jefferson Street
Gene B. Williams: The Homeowner's Pest Extermination Handbook
Peter A. Dickinson: Sunbelt Retirement
Janet Burroway: Raw Wilk

1980 evidently was a leap-year, and the above is certainly an odd assortment of books. I remember my first copy of The Mill on the Floss: it was a Pocket Library paperback, sporting a very pink cover; at the same time, I bought a PL paperback of Adam Bede, with a sort of pastel mint-green cover. I still have these; they cost fifty cents apiece. I'm glad that I read them before school tried to ruin George Eliot for everybody by wringing all the pleasure out of Silas Marner. GE number four that I read was Middlemarch, her greatest.

Friday, February 06, 2009

February 1979 books read

Hayes C. Schlundt: Living Easy in Mexico
Elizabeth Bowen: The House in Paris
Robert Bemen: Tales from the Blue Stacks
Rudyard Kipling: Short Stories, volume 1 (Penguin)
John Cheever: The World of Apples
Anthony B. C. Wallace: Rockdale: The Growth of an American Village in the Industrial Revolution
Edmund Wilson: Letters on Literature and Politics 1912-1972
W. H. Auden: A Certain World: A Commonplace Book
Helen Bevington: Along Came a Witch
Charles Simmons: Wrinkles
William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar
Cyril Connolly: The Rock Pile
Daphne du Maurier: Myself When Young
Conrad Richter: The Rawhide Knot and Other Stories
Cyril Connolly: Previous Convictions
Elizabeth Drew: The Literature of Gossip: Nine English Letterwriters
V. S. Pritchett: Selected Stories
May Sarton: The House by the Sea
Cynthia Griffin Wolff: A Forest of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton
Thomas Gittings: Thomas Hardy's Later Years
William Shakespeare: As You Like It
Peter Lauritzen: Venice: A Thousand Years of Culture and Civilization

I wonder why Shakespeare was on this list (as with mysteries, plays and poetry weren't usually put on it) and I also wonder why I was reading these particular plays.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

February 1978 books read

William Zinsser: On Writing Well
Peter Quennell: The Marble Foot
Peter Quennell Samuel Johnson

I think that these may have come from the Austin Public Library and not from a library on campus, but that would have been back before the library started tossing out books by the hundreds and probably thousands.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

February 1977 books read

John Evelyn: Diary, volume I (De Vita Propria)
Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Anne Bronte: Agnes Gray
Anthony Trollope: Can You Forgive Her?
John Evelyn: Diary, volume II (Kalendarium)
Thomas Hardy: Jude the Obscure
Michael Sadleir: Trollope: A Commentary
William Godwin: Caleb Williams
H. G. Wells: The Passionate Friends

The Evelyn and this particular Wells were first-timers.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

February 1976 books read

Here are more from the record recently found:

George Gissing: Will Warburton: A Romance of Real Life
H. G. Wells: Ann Veronica
Edith Wharton: Hudson River Bracketed
Edith Wharton: The Gods Arrive
Stevie Smith: Novel on Yellow Paper, or Work It Out for Yourself
Edith Wharton: The Children
Harold Acton: More Memoirs of an Aesthete
Alfred Kazin: On Native Grounds
Carl Van Doren: The American Novel
Edmund Wilson: The Wound and the Bow: Seven Studies in Literature
V. S. Pritchett: Books in General
Van Wyck Brooks: The Confident Years
Edith Wharton: A Backward Glance
Osbert Sitwell: Left Hand, Right Hand

Monday, February 02, 2009

February 1975 books read

There's not a first-timer among these:

Anthony Trollope: The Prime Minister
Anthony Trollope: The Duke's Children
Charles Dickens: Nicholas Nickleby

I always think of vegetable marrows when I think of Nicholas Nickleby.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

February 1974 books read

Most of these are read-agains:

Anthony Trollope: Orley Farm
Federal Writers' Project: Rochester and Monroe County
Anthony Trollope: He Knew He Was Right
George Eliot: Daniel Deronda

This is obviously a period when I was not recording mysteries read, and Daniel Deronda is a whopper of a book.