Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fabiola again

I wrote earlier about identifying a picture that was a familiar part of the environment when I was a kid. The collection of images of Saint Fabiola has been written about again recently, in the London Review of Books.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Astonishingly, we still have bachelor buttons (cornflowers). Black-eyed Susans and nasturtiums are beginning to fade. Sweet peas are done. Morning glories like where they are and produce a flower or two of each of several varieties most days. Tomatoes became thick-skinned and are no longer blossoming or setting fruit, but the crop was large, of all varieties. Where they were watered, roses of Sharon are in profuse bloom; where they weren't, it appears that they may not survive. Where they haven't been watered and also spend hours in direct sun, Turk's cap is not flourishing. It's time to move the geraniums to shadier places. Pride of Barbados is now in full bloom, and some grown from seed thrown off by the only plant we ever bought are producing flowers for the first time. This morning we saw our first ruellia flower of the season. We're doing very well ourselves. Attendance at el cinco de mayo and Juneteenth served to acclimate us this year for our life without air-conditioning and so far the temperature inside the house has not gone above 80 degrees (apart from close to the stove when we're cooking).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Delayed arrivals and a surprise

At last there are flowers on the pride of Barbados plants and on the plumbago. Everyone else has had them for ages, it seems. But we have a flower that I haven't seen in other yards: celery! This is from the plant that sprang up in a pot that once contained basil from the South Congress farmers' market. This is year two for the celery and the first celery blossom that I've ever seen. The flowers are fairly inconspicuous, but the delicate white blooms are quite pretty.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Free and rare

We won't overlook the free movie showings at Regal Arbor again (the free children's shows are shown on the right of the page). Courtesy of some time to burn, we thoroughly enjoyed the children's show of City of Ember. The children were a very good audience, and the movie attracted a bigger audience than any movie of any kind that we've seen lately. This movie is not for children only; it's thoroughly enjoyable by adults. We couldn't understand why it was assigned a PG rating. Now, we want to find the book or books on which this movie was based. The acting is excellent and the production design is a real treat. This is a movie that insults no one's intelligence. And, thanks to the Austin Public Library, we happened upon Lorenzo de Zavala's account of his travels in the United States of the early 1830s as translated by retired TWU professor Wallace Woolsey and published by Austin's own Shoal Creek Publishers in 1980. It's my guess that this is a rare book now. It has apparently been reissued by Arte Publico. Parts of it make for fine reading aloud. Zavala was interested in everything and discusses at length the banks of the time and how they operated. This book belongs right up there with the accounts of Dickens (American Notes for General Circulation) and Mrs. Trollope (Domestic Manners of the Americans). Zavala visits some of the same locations (e.g., the Panopticon, Niagara). I love his description of West Point and its curriculum.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 1982 books read

Barbara Pym: Jane and Prudence
Shelby Hearon: A Price of a Fellow
Shelby Hearon: Hannah's House
Kate Stimpson: Class Notes
Gillian Freeman: An Easter Egg Hunt
Hope Cooke: Time Changes
Edward Swift: Splendora
Elizabeth Hardwicke: Sleepless Nights
Paul Theroux: Girls at Play
Angus Wilson: Anglo Saxon Attitudes

This was an odd assortment! Shelby Hearon was read, of course, for the Austin connection. The others, apart from Barbara Pym (read on purpose) must have been serendipitous finds on the library shelves. I never owned a single one of these.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

June 1981 books read

That must have been a June when I read lots of mysteries (I seldom recorded mysteries).

Samuel Hynes: Edwardian Occasions
Dika Newlin: Schoenberg Remembered
Murial Spark: The Girls of Slender Means

Monday, June 08, 2009

June 1980 books read

John Ardagh: A Tale of Five Cities: Life in Europe Today
Joseph Conrad: Almayer's Folly
Mark Girouard: Life in the English Country House
Harold Frederic: The Damnation of Theron Ware
ed. Michaels and Ricks: The State of the Language

Sunday, June 07, 2009

June 1979 books read

Robert Tracy: Trollope's Later Novels
Ben Iden Payne: Life in a Wooden O
William Plomer: Electric Delights
Alison Lurie: Imaginary Friends
Roy Sherwood: The Court of Oliver Cromwell
Nina Auerback: Communities of Women
Kathleen Coburn: In Pursuit of Coleridge
Agnes de Mille: Where the Wings Grow
Ian Bradley: William Morris and his World
David Skilton: The English Novel: Defoe to the Victorians
Chrisopher Fry: Can You Find Me
Booth Mooneu: LBJ: An Irreverent Chronicle
Wright Morris: Earthy Delights, Unearthy Adornments: American Writers as Image-Makers
Mary Chamberlain: Fenwomen: Portrait of Women in an English Village
Alison Lurie: The Nowhere City
Christina Stead: The Little Hotel
May Sarton: Journal of a Solitude
Norah Lofts: Domestic Life in England
Giorgio Giacosa: Women of the Caesars: Their Lives and Portraits on Coins
Monica Dickens: An Open Book
Maureen Howard: Facts of Life
Paul Scott: The Jewel in the Crown

I still own the Paul Scott; everything else was from the shelves of the Austin Public Library and I wonder just how many remain there. I hope that at least Ben Iden Payne has been kept, if only for the Austin connection.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

June 1978 books read

Anthony Powell: A Buyer's Market
Anthony Powell: The Acceptance World
George and Weedon Grossmith: Diary of a Nobody
Anthony Powell: At Lady Molly's
Anthony Powell: Casamova's Chinese Restaurant

All of these are still here on the bookshelves, Mr. Pooter and every part of A Dance to the Music of Time. Who could ever forget Pooter? Who could ever forget Widmerpool?

Friday, June 05, 2009

June 1977 books read

Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility
Elizabeth Hardwick: Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature
ed. Donald Smalley: Anthony Trollope: The Critical Heritage
Elaine Showalter: A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Bronte to Lessing
Ellen Moers: Literary Women
A.O.J. Cockshut: Anthony Trollope: A Critical Study

Thursday, June 04, 2009

June 1976 books read

Madame D'Arblay: Diary and Letters of, vol II (6/1781-8/1786)
Benjamin Disraeli: Vivian Grey
Virginia Woolf: Granite and Rainbow
Charles Dickens: Bleak House
Madame D'Arblay: Diary and Letters of, vol. III (8/1786-6/1788)

Dickens was a re-read. Madame D'Arblay, of course, is Fanny Burney that was. These diaries are on line in free text versions.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Observed this morning are four kinds of morning glories; kazillion kinds of nasturtiums, in pots and not, trailing or climing and not; the last four poppies; the last, probably, of the sweet peas, of at least a half-dozen types; the last of the firewheels; the last of the violas (Johnny jump-ups); resurgence of lantanas (the birds are busy with the seeds and the flesh of the fruits); bachelor buttons (cornflowers); cosmos of two kinds (pink varieties and the orange and yellow ones); milkweeds of two kinds; zonal geraniums (pelargoniums); fennel; chiles; wild sunflowers; every type of rose of Sharon; two types of oleander; and very handsome black-eyed Susans.

June 1975 books read

Joseph Conrad: Nostromo
Charles Dickens: Great Expectations
Charles Dickens: Sketches by Boz (1st and 2nd series)

The Dickenses were re-reads.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

June 1974 books read

These were both re-reads:

Anthony Trollope: The Way We Live Now
Anthony Trollope The Claverings

Verlyn Klinkenborg of the New York Times wrote recently about turning to old book-friends ("Some Thoughts on the Pleasures of Being a Re-Reader").

Monday, June 01, 2009

June 1973 books read

Marcel Proust: The Guermontes Way
Marcel Proust: Cities of the Plain
Marcel Proust: The Captive
Marcel Proust: The Sweet Cheat Gone
Marcel Proust: The Past Recaptured