Saturday, March 28, 2009

A great year for these

The corn poppies are not only numerous; they're of full size. More years than not, they're almost stunted in many locations. We suspect that they disagree with something else that grows nearby. This has been a year with lots of red, especially when all those red anemones that have bloomed so profusely are included in the tally.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A surprise return

The leaves always appear, but sometimes we go years without seeing any blooms from Flower Record. I love this one and many people have great success with it around here, but for us it just maintains its presence, doesn't multiply, and offers a show now and then.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Supping upon manna

The moisture from the skies has really been filling out the pods, practically hour by hour. Little Marvel (English) peas have been bountiful to us, providing perfect peas, evenly distributed in the pot and quite uniform in size. For the names, I love Lincoln, Telephone, Green Arrow, and especially Wando, but it's Little Marvel that always comes through for us. I think that the thickness and moisture-holding qualities of the pods have something to do with their success. These taste wonderful raw, but a quick pass through a pot of water at the rolling boil brings out their finest aspects.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today it's irises

There are now at least five varieties of Dutch irises in bloom. Only one has opened more than one flower so far, but several are making first appearances: white, yellow-and-white varieties of two kinds, and at least two kinds of blue-purple flowers. When the skies are overcast, the yellow ones truly stand out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What a dollar will buy

Thanks to spending 100 cents at the old Albertsons on Pleasant Valley, we have been rewarded many times over. Clematis Nelly Moser has now bloomed for the first time this year, with a nearly saucer-sized flower and at least three more buds. It's by the clothespole at the corner of the sleeping porch and always faces the wrong way. It's not prolific, but it's certainly faithful.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A current garden favorite

Sun Disc has been multiplying. It lasts beautifully and sends up multiple flower stalks. Wind and rain don't bother Sun Disc. The flowers are scented but not cloying. We need more of these!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tulipe du jour

It's Tubergen's Gem. Suddenly, there are many. We haven't seen our first delphinium yet, although there are fat buds. I'm really enjoying the Dutch iris that is yellow and white. The corn poppies are the biggest ones ever.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Have I told you lately that I love you?"

This is a song that was on jukeboxes for ever and ever. When I hear it in my mind, it's Gene Autry who's singing it; when K. hears it, it's Ricky Nelson. It has been recorded so many times, but I don't know that it was ever a hit.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The next level in tissue, part 3

In this week's issue of El Mundo is an article (apparently taken mostly from a press release) about the site called ConKleenexExpresaTuHispanidad. These boxes are the square ones, though, not the delightful oval ones. It's a contest; there are prizes; vote for your favorites by March 27.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A first and a first

This is the first nasturtium flower of the season and also the first nasturtium we've ever seen of this particular sort, with the handsome orange-red brush-stroke stripes against the golden-orange background. The plant is a trailing one. I think it's one that wintered over outdoors and has never bloomed before. There's self-sown milkweed in the picture, also. We don't know yet what color it'll be, whether all yellow or bicolor yellow and orange. The spider plants stay outside all the year round, some in pots and some in the ground, all sprung from one a neighbor gave us decades ago. There are self-sown garlic chives just barely visible in the rectangular terra-cotta pot. They come from a plant that appeared in a pot of something else that was purchased a couple of years ago from the South Austin Farmers' Market.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


"Adamo," with the accent on the "o" is the first person form of the present tense of "adamare," which is the present infinitive form and the one that means "to fall in love with" and, additionally, to "conceive desire for, desire eagerly, covet, admire exceedingly," etc., a verb of the first conjugation. The Dell press release that's reprinted virtually word for word and almost everywhere is most irritating. At any rate, I've had a lot of fun at breakfast this morning referring to the 1890 edition of An Elementary Latin Dictionary, by Charlton P. Lewis, Ph. D., published by the American Book Company division of Harper & Brothers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wafting through

At suppertime, we saw several monarch butterflies. They were sipping from the lantanas, mostly, but also hanging around the milkweed, perhaps leaving some eggs behind, as has happened before.

Monday, March 16, 2009


The Sunday NYT magazine had a piece on these and illustrated it with photos of popovers that I would consider to be failures. Instead of sporting perfect puffy mushroom-caps of tops, these were all fallen in. I've always used the James Beard recipe and then was pleased to find that Marion Cunningham said that there's no need to bring the eggs and milk to room temperature before proceeding. Experience proved her to be correct. I've never dared try her notion that there's no need to preheat the oven, though. If there's too much batter left over, I've always buttered one or two Bennington Pottery bird bowls and put the batter there, usually with good results.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The next level in tissue, part 2

I'm not alone! Someone else out there has noticed and written about it ("The Sniffler's Choice"). I like the illustration accompanying this Smart Money feature by Anne Kadel (April, page 98): it's the Mona Lisa cradling one of those zippy oval boxes. Here's a link to The next level in tissue, part 1. I'm very happy to know that it continues to be possible to design a custom oval box, since this, along with designing personal postage and trying to come up with hitherto unused domain names, is one of the ways that I make meetings and waiting for anything endurable.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Digging up books

I keep finding them in odd places. I've been reading them, but the only enjoyable one so far is the Bill Bryson (The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid). I did read some old Granta issues with pleasure, all on travel. I must have been saving them. I've finished all the ones found so far and passed them along. I keep only what will be read again or used as a reference.

Friday, March 13, 2009


We have peas for the picking, plus lots of white flowers, and sweet peas for the pure enjoyment of color and scent. So far, those are Cupani.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mystery daffodil identified?

These have been holding up very well against the gusts of wind. Fortune? Fortissimo? I'm thinking Fortune, but others believe they're Fortissimo. No photographs anywhere look exactly like either one. I do think that Fortissimo cups as pictured appear to be more orange than what we're seeing. The solution? Obtain some of each for planting in the fall. Birds are exactly the same way: even robins don't look like themselves as depicted in some photographs and identification diagrams.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wintry blasts

The leaves are hastening from the oak trees. The fall from the oak motte is now beginning. There are practically no blooms left on any of the redbuds, but the white blossoms on the ornamental pear are holding fast.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Now joining the party

There's now an orange calendula to accompany the yellow one. There are strong yellow-orange ranunculus buds. Leaves are appearing on the redbuds and ornamental pear.

Monday, March 09, 2009

March 1982 books read

Sylvia Townsend Warner: Scenes of Childhood
David Naylor: American Picture Palaces: The Architecture of Fantasy
Lady Ottoline Morrell: Ottoline at Garsington 1915-1918
Frances Partridge Love in Bloomsbury
Laurie Colwin: Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object

Sunday, March 08, 2009

March 1981 books read

This is the second time trying this transcription; the first one vanished and exists neither as a published entry nor as a draft, apparently:

Beth Gutcheon: The New Girls
Raymond D. Gastel: Cultural Regions of the Uinted States
Shirley Hazzard: The Transit of Venus
Elizabeth Hardwick: Sleepless Nights

I still think that this is a scanty and odd list. I know that I didn't like the Hardwick, and, now that Hazzard has a book out on Naples, I've been thinking about reading her work again. There must have been a lot of unrecorded mysteries read during this month.

Triple in tulips

They weren't there yesterday, but this morning there's one each of clusiana, Tubergen's Gem, and Lilac Wonder open. The fruits on one loquat tree are ripening to gold, and we have surprise yellow calendula flowers.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

March 1980 books read

George Ewart Evans: Where Beards Wag All
Brendan Gill: Here at the New Yorker
Malcolm Cowley: And I Worked at the Writer's Trade
Richard Kenen: Return to Albion: Americans in England 1760-1940
Christopher Milne: The Path Through the Trees
Charlotte Bronte: Shirley
Arnold Bennett: Mr. Prohack
Boris Goldovsky: My Road to Opera
E. Nesbit: The Railway Children
Penelope Mortimer: About Time

Bronte was a re-read, and I was reading a lot of the Edwardians, including as much of Bennett as I could find. I used to love to hear Boris Goldovsky on the radio.

Friday, March 06, 2009

March 1979 books read

George Gordon, Lord Byron: Letters and Journals: In My Hot Youth (1798-1810)
Morley Callaghan: That Summer in Paris
Elizabeth Bowen: Joining Charles
Elizabeth Bowen: Friends and Relations
Julia Briggs: Night Visitors: The Rise and Fall of the English Ghost Story
George Gissing: The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft
Kenneth Clark: The Other Half: A Self-Portrait
Wallace Fowlie: A Journal of Rehearsals
Elizabeth Bowen: A Time in Rome
Harry Crews: A Childhood: The Biography of a Place
Erica Abeel: Only When I laugh
Mary Hyde: The Thrales of Streatham Park
George Gordon, Lord Byron: Letters and Journals: Famous in My Time (1810-1812)
Thomas O. Cochran: Pennsylvania: A History
William Shakespeare: King Richard II
William Shakespeare: The Tempest
Edwin O. Reischauer: The Japanese
Frank Graham, Jr.: The Adirondack Park

Were the Bowens reprints from Virago?


The first poeticus narcissi are opening. The flower stalks are many and the buds are fat, so it appears that this will be an excellent year for them. We still have Minnow, which I don't think I've yet mentioned this year. The first cornflower to open is a pink one. We're still unable to identify a daffodil with a substantial pale, buttery perianth and an egg-yolk trumpet. It's more delicate than Ice Follies, but very sturdy against the wind, with more of a trumpet than a cup. Having spent too much time around race tracks once upon a time, I'm calling it Sunny Jim until I track it down. We'd get more.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

March 1978 books read

This is a continuing transcription from a forgotten record recently found:

B. F. Skinner: Particulars of My Life
Jackques Barzun: Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers
Tobias Smollett: The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle
Doris Lessing: Particularly Cats

I spent an entire semester training a common pigeon with the aid of a Skinner box. By the time his wing-feathers had regrown, the semester was over and he returned to his customary roost on the roof. I wonder whether he continued dancing once released (or perhaps I should say how long it took for his learned behaviors to be extinguished). At any rate, ever since that time I have found operant conditioning to be a very useful tool in training dogs and cats, and sometimes even people.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

March 1977 books read

Graham Greene: Collected Essays
Virginia Woolf: The Second Common Reader
Chester Himes: The Quality of Hurt
Elizabeth Drew: Collected Impressions
Chester Himes: My Life of Absurdity
John Evelyn: Diary, volume III, Kalendarium 1650-72

The above were all read for the first time.

More blues

Iphieon flowers made their first appearance today, joining the grape hyacinths already in progress at the oak motte. The oak tree that always drops its leaves first has begun releasing them. Yesterday, there were none; this morning there are many on the ground. Many lettuces are appearing in pots, mostly self-sown.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

March 1976 books read

This is a continuing transcription of a list of reading recently found:

J. A. Froude, ed.: Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, volumes 1 and 2
Henry James: A Small Boy and Others
Henry James: Notes of a Son and Brother
Henry James: The Middle Years
John Kenneth Galbraith: The Scotch
George Gissing: Critical Studies of the Works of Charles Dickens
William Dean Howells: Italian Journeys
William Dean Howells: A Modern Instance
Samuel Butler, The Notebooks of
D. H. Lawrence: Sea and Sardinia
Osbert Sitwell: The Scarlet Tree

Monday, March 02, 2009

Now appearing for the first time this season

The first Thalia was glowing in the dawn light. Oxalis (pink shamrock) will have lots of open flowers today. There are fig leaves unfolding.

March 1975 books read

This is a continuation of lists transcribed from the record recently found:

Charles Dickens: Pickwick Papers
V. Sackville-West: The Edwardians
George Orwell: Keep the Aspidistra Flying
Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
L. P. Hartley: The Brickyard
J. P. Priestley: The Old Dark House
Henry James: The Awkward Age
William Thackeray: The Newcomes
William Thackeray: The Luck of Barry Lyndon
H. G. Wells: The History of Mr. Polly

First-time encounters among the books above were the Sackville-West, the Hartley, the Priestley, and Barry Lyndon. I think that I had just seen the movie of The Old Dark House. I'd probably also just seen the Barry Lyndon movie.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Simultaneous blossoms

The high winds have been stripping petals from the redbuds, but this morning has brought open flowers on the ornamental pear tree, and no leaves are showing on any of them yet, so the two types of trees are paired again this year in blooming.

March 1974 books read

Not one of these was a first-time read. Was I saving money?

Charles Dickens: David Copperfield
F. R. Leavis: The Great Tradition
George Eliot: Felix Holt, the Radical
Henry James: The Europeans
Charles Dickens: American Notes for General Circulation